A disadvantaged girl: a case of Drosera
A. is a 17 year old girl, the eldest of three, with two brothers. She is in Grade 11 at a boarding school for disadvantaged teenage girls. Her parents are divorced (father imprisoned, mother remarried) so in the vacations, she stays with her mother and adoptive father.
Consultation June 2, 2011
Appearance: petite, very skinny, hair draped over her face; she sits withdrawn, clasping her knees.
She complains of severe constipation with hemorrhoids. She has hard stools; straining leads to hemorrhoids and her anus feels wounded. This is frequently accompanied by nausea.
A: "It's my emotions; my emotions make me want to throw up.
"I am most disturbed by injustice, like when I see something and others ignore it. I must have rules, to know what I am due to do the next morning. A stain on the wall irritates me, I need order. I must have everything lined up and in its place. Without rules I feel ungrounded."
MY: Example of injustice?
A: "A friend lied in order to be relieved from duty. Management is aware of this but they turn a blind eye, yet when I requested to be relieved they refused me. In the past, I experienced injustice. Why did my parents divorce? Why did my father end up where he is (in prison)? I worked on myself to not let it bother me. I used to have many outbursts, to scream. Today, I keep a distance; I restrain myself and ignore things.
“I perceive people right away and immediately judge them and cut them off from my life. I really want to work on myself. I want to be cool about things and not so hard, because I am very sensitive and conscientious. Even if a friend does something improper I feel bad about it. Maybe I was not fair? Maybe something isn’t right in the way I had done it?
“In general, something in me bothers others. I lose all my girlfriends and those are the things that are important for me."
MY: Why do you lose your girlfriends?
A: "I cannot handle people who lie. I start with full trust, but if someone doesn’t live up to this, she automatically doesn’t exist for me. She is like air. I cannot deal with mistrust in relationships, and as soon as I feel any mistrust, I disconnect."
MY: What is the feeling?
A: “Emptiness. Unpleasant, I want to run away, escape. It hurts when people ignore you, as though you don’t exist, when they make you feel like you’re not there. I feel a whirlwind, confusion, overwhelmed, wrung out (gestures toward her heart). I feel pricking in my body and chest and I want to run away."
MY: Where do you want to run away to?
A: "To the sea".
MY: What is the feeling at sea?
A: "It is a calming feeling, it allows you to release everything you hold, like a mother who hugs you. I don’t want to leave, I want to stay in this feeling as long as I want. I don’t have the most loving mother, she’s never known how to really hug, and she doesn’t know how to say a good word. I don’t feel that I have someone to talk to, I feel alone. You say ‘damn it, may something happen to me so that they pay attention to me.’ I want to get drunk, to forget it all. Despair. I am fed up with everything, I wish for something new. I want to enlist in the army, it will give me some security!"
MY: What stresses you most?
A: "I cannot handle being shouted at. I cry and lose my temper."
A: "Fear. I have a fear that something might happen. I am not strong, I am unstable emotionally (cries and covers her face with her hand). It is related to injustice: my father was into drugs; I witnessed it as a child and went to mother and told her, but the fact that I told her destroyed me; I felt ungrateful. I saw how he beat mother up, how they quarreled. I went on and said that my action was right. Even if it destroyed the family! I felt tortured, burning up, but I understood that I’d done the right thing by telling her. Only she wasn’t there with me at the time, she didn’t hug me…"
A: "Turning 18. Feeling grown up - I still want a mother who will be there for me and help me out.
"Often when I step outside to smoke and look around I see a thin, wilted tree, without leaves, without fruit, just fallen branches, and I identify with it. One reaches a place of despair, and one cannot have belief anymore. This has been going on for a long time."
She often speaks in the third person, which suggests disconnection and distancing from the emotion of the situation.
In this case, we see the plant-kingdom quality of development that at some point has been arrested. The basic feeling in this case is: “There is no mother, no nurturing. “Mother wasn’t there even when I most needed her; she didn’t hug me, didn’t say a good word, and didn’t love me.” The patient speaks of the feeling of not having a mother who was present and nurturing. The misatunement happened early on, with the mother not providing basic existential security. The patient experienced betrayal from her mother and developed mistrust, and she is now projecting it on everyone in her life, feeling that if she would trust her girlfriends, she would be betrayed by them. She expects everyone to betray her, therefore she is quick to judge and she cuts of relationships all too readily; in this way, she loses all her friendships. Even her physical issues (constipation, hemorrhoids, and nausea) are related to the digestive (nutritive, nurturing) system.
In the Table of Plants, the column relating to ‘nurturing’ is the fourth column. It relates to the ability to maintain equilibrium with the nurturing, feminine quality, which translates into the ability to give and receive without feeling short or deficient of anything.
When the nurturing column meets the infancy row (the second stage, at which the child requires for its development rest, sleep, love, warmth, and food in order to gain basic existential security), the resulting feeling is that of not having received one’s basic life needs. This produces a fundamental sense of lack, mistrust in life, suspiciousness, isolation, and hopelessness. There is an expectation of being betrayed, and any disappointment shatters their world view. This feeling becomes more acute when their basic needs truly have not been provided.
It is at this intersection that the Sarraceniales order is located; a carnivorous group of plants which have evolved to consume insects due to inadequate nutrition (lack of nitrates) in the acidic soil in which they live.
The remedy that fits this case is Drosera rotundifolia, whose essential feature is the sense of perpetual disappointment by a close one on whom one nevertheless depends, which leads to general mistrust of others: “If my mother lied to me and betrayed me then, in whom can I put my trust?”
In addition, there is a concern with justice and morality. "One tries one’s best to be perfectly moral amidst the rampant immorality of others. There is a sense of obligation to maintain both one’s own and others’ morality, leading to anger at others’ bad behavior," (Masi) as in the present case: “I told my mother about my father because it was right to do so – even if it destroyed our family!”
Consumption of the plant by sheep leads to tubercular cachexia (wasting), i.e. lack of nutrition. Indeed Drosera was used as a remedy for this disease, which is expressed in the patient’s identification with the wilted, forlorn tree, “without leaves, without fruit, just fallen branches”. Actually, this "consumptive tree image" was the thing that struck me as the deepest description of her inner-most case, and eventually led me to Drosera – a consumptive remedy in the nurturing 4th column. The deep-rooted lack of nurturing begins on the spiritual level, eventually coming to manifest on the physical level.
“There were cases in poor, under-nourished children of casual laborers, out of work, who could not be given extra nourishing food or extra milk, as the parents could not afford it. All the change that was made, was an occasional dose of Drosera 30 and the gain in weight followed, on the same diet as before.” (Drosera by Dorothy Shepherd)
Prescription: Drosera 30C twice daily, for a few days, and then wait.
22nd June 2011 (phone): increased irritability, much anger, cannot tolerate anything. Hemorrhoids receding. No prescription, wait.
15th July 15, 2011 (phone): intermittent hemorrhoids, mood same.
Prescription: Drosera 30C every other week.
4th September 2011: "A friend said to me: even your mother will not help you. I felt alone, lonely, abandoned. No one wants me, no one really knows me."
No hemorrhoids for the past two-and-a-half weeks, but severe constipation for the past two days. Observation: looks better overall, more joyful, seems better able to handle things, talks less of her mother. Better flow of conversation in the clinic, less clingy, and laughing along.
Prescription: Drosera 200C once a day for three days.
6th October 2011 (phone): normal mood, less despondency and frustration: "I am over it." Happiness level 8/10, noticing a positive change. Hemorrhoids reappeared. No prescription, wait.
30th October 2011 (phone): "Since the remedy, everything is brighter, alright, just flowing."
Some hemorrhoids disturb her, still very dry stool but less hard. "In terms of my mood, I am on an upswing, more joyful, laughing at stupid things. My father told me that when I start laughing instead of crying about life it will be a sign that I am maturing. Since the remedy, I’ve stopped using drugs, it is a challenge but I am able to control myself.” (Most of the girls in this institution use drugs. She was told that in order for the remedy to work, it was better to stop). "I have gained weight." (starting weight was below average).
Prescription: Drosera 200C single dose
8th November 2011: feeling good, very positive change, no hemorrhoids for a while. "I feel addicted to the remedy."
25th December 2011: general regression, feeling less well.
Prescription: Drosera 200C in water, once a day for a week before bedtime.
15th January 2012: "Feeling normal" (i.e. well). Even a day after taking the last dose, I felt less depression. I continue to avoid drugs. Hemorrhoids three days ago after riding a bicycle during a school trip, but it (the trip) was fun
Prescription: Drosera 1M single dose
6th February 2012 (phone): during the last two weeks, I’m feeling even better than before, as if I’ve introduced colour into my life. I tell my mother that I love her, and even if she doesn’t reciprocate, I know that she loves me, too. I don’t quarrel with her. Lately, I notice myself looking around when walking down the street, noticing the trees and saying to myself how beautiful they are. This is strange, because prior to the remedy, I never use to look at such things. I feel OK for a while now, without hemorrhoids or constipation. No prescription, wait.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
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