Everything I touch hurts: a case of Taraxacum
A four-year-old male child came to us with chief complaints of recurrent cold, coryza, abdominal pain and tooth decay.
He entered the consulting room with his mother and grandmother. When his mother started narrating his complaints, the patient interrupted and said, “Mumma, allow me to speak, I want to talk.” So, we allow the patient to speak.
He tells us that every day he gets stomach pain. His stomach hurts when he is in the house and also when he is outside. Then, he repeatedly told us that many parts of his body are hurting. Whenever he talked about the pain, he made a hand gesture of continuous hitting. This gesture was repeated at least six times.
He further tells us that when he wakes up in the morning he has a headache, and when he touches anyone, he gets pain. He vividly describes that on touching many things he feels pain. It is interesting that he has come because of recurrent colds and coryza, but when we listen to him, we find this problem, that whatever he touches, he feels pain!
He is a very expressive child, and very loquacious. He says he talks so much that he gets pain! And he talked constantly, till the end of the case.
As we move further in the case, he tells us that he touched his toy penguin and he got pain. Then, he spoke about a monster coming at night - he touches the monster and it hits him, and he gets pain. By this point his loquacity was very clear. Then, he said there are worms in his stomach and they throw stones at his throat. He says that his whole body is hurting and when there is pain, he hits the table. Then, he said that he, his dad and mom were getting smaller, and that he falls out of bed and he applies calendula.
Then, he went to a different area, and said when a robber hits, that is also painful. He said that everyone hit him here and there, and as he talked about hitting and getting beaten, he was making the same hand gesture of hitting. At this point, he connects this story to his chief complaint, saying that when the robber hit him he got pain in his abdomen. Thus, at this point in the case, he has connected one of his chief complaints with hitting, injury, and pain. With this, we see the loquacity which is also running through the case. He says that when he talks his mouth hurts, so here his symptom of loquacity also becomes connected with the pain.
He then tells us that when he goes into water, or when he uses a computer, or if he touches photos or wire, he gets pain. So, here again, he is relating touch with pain. Then, he talked about being on a mountain and throwing stones - and there also he got pain. Then, he says that it hurts tightly, like a jelly getting hard; his stomach and legs get hard, the way it hurts when a robber hits, and at this point, he shows the same hand gesture of hitting. Then, he said he has a hunter and the hunter hits the robber, then the robber has a sword but his sword is sharper. He talks again about a monster who comes – he throws stones at the monster and it bleeds. Then, he says that worms are throwing stones in his throat and his throat swells, and they are also throwing stones at his teeth, so that his one tooth broke – here, he connects to his third complaint, tooth decay.
Then, he goes into different areas: he said he went into a lift and fell down and bled. Then, he described touching a light bulb and getting burnt; as he tells about this, he hits his legs.
He gets dreams of ghosts and monsters, and they come and start fires which burn him, and when they touch him he gets pain. He has a fear of skeletons and of fire, of getting burnt.
His mother says he is aggravated by touch, and that when he was four months old, he kicked his grandmother as she was wrapping him in a cloth. When he falls down, he never cries, he just gets up and says: “I am strong.”
Analysis and understanding of the case
The child was very loquacious. This gave us an excellent opportunity to allow him a free-floating, non-judgmental space, in which he would feel completely safe to express his distress.
The first peculiar thing in this case is the child’s behavior. As he came into the consulting room and his mother started narrating the chief complaint, the child insisted on relating his complaints on his own. In a country like India, it is very strange for a four-year-old child to wish to speak for himself. I have observed that approximately eight out of ten children allow the parents to do the talking, and they just sit clinging to mother or father. Since he wished to speak for himself, it was the right time to request the mother to sit outside in the waiting room.
The child was given a free space to talk and express himself. He talked continuously for almost an hour, hardly needing to be asked any questions. He is extremely loquacious; one cannot afford to miss this aspect of his individuality. For a child of four years to talk for so long, alone in front of the doctor, is very, very strange. What made this loquacity even more characteristic is the manner in which he was talking. It was not the kind of talk which makes the listener feel irritated or bored; rather, his talk was pleasant. He is a cheerful child. One can enjoy his company; one would love to spend time in his presence.
Then, comes the other significant aspect of his case: the narration of his complaints. He has come for the main problems of stomach pain and recurrent colds. The most troubling for him is the stomach pain. He describes his stomach pain in a very peculiar way – he says that when he touches something, it hurts. Not only does his stomach hurt, but his being is so much occupied with pain that whatever object he touches gives him pain. If he touches a television, a remote control, a video game, a pen, a piece of paper, a pencil – all of these things give him pain. Now, this is completely absurd! One cannot make any logical reasoning out of this; it is complete nonsense.
As we move further into the case, he creates a fantasy where a monster comes, telling how the monster injures him, and there is bleeding. He fantasizes that there are worms in his throat and they hit his throat by throwing stones. He is completely into the nonsense world.
By this time it was already one hour into the case-taking, and we could understand that his complaint, his talk and his fantasies all have a pattern, and that pattern is that he is very sensitive to pain. Whatever he touches gives him pain.
Once we have established this as the most striking, peculiar, singular and rare feature of his individuality, coupled with the cheerful nature of his loquacity, our next aim is to understand the exact nature of the pain. This will clearly give us the kingdom and subkingdom, taking us close to the remedy.
Thus, the second part of the interview was directed towards understanding the full nature of this pattern of pain on touching things. In this part of the case, he will give us the exact description. As we inquire about the pain, he gives multiple images: being injured with a huge stone; a hunter; a sword; a fall; being hit by a robber; touching a bulb and getting burnt. All these images, when we look at them as a group, convey an experience of being injured. This is the deepest level of his experience - his Sensation. The main theme running through all his fears, delusions, and chief complaints is ‘getting injured’.
He spontaneously went into another area of delusion - his dreams. Here, we saw that his major concern was that ghosts will set things on fire. Even this is a kind of absurdity in a four-year-old boy. At such a tender age, ghosts are normally scary in themselves, and the fear is simply of a ghost appearing, but his peculiar worry is that they will set things on fire. This again confirms that his pattern is about being injured or burned, whether in his stomach pain, his fantasies, his fears or his dreams. The main thing that is running through his physical complaints and his mental state is the theme of injury.
This common point where the body (physical complaints) and the mind (fears, dreams and fantasies) both reflect the same phenomenon is the Vital Sensation. When we see that a specific pattern is running through both the physical symptoms and the mental aspects of a case, we are seeing the Vital Sensation.
For example, we know that in the remedy Bryonia, at the physical level, there is aggravation from least motion, and at the level of mind it has an aversion to being disturbed. A little close attention to these two apparently different aspects allows us to see that aversion to being disturbed and aggravation from the least motion both convey a sensitivity to disturbance. The commonality between mind and body shows us that this sensitivity to disturbance is the Vital Sensation of Bryonia. The level of Vital Sensation is beyond mind and body, beyond emotions and situations; it is the meeting point of mind and body.
Similarly, in this case we see that the chief complaint and the mental state are both speaking the language of ‘pain from injury’. This ‘pain from injury’ is the Vital Sensation of the case.
Vital Sensation can be classified, at the most basic level, into plant, mineral and animal kingdoms. Each kingdom has its own characteristic kind of sensation.
A Mineral Sensation has to do with structure. The patient feels something lacking in himself, or that he will lose something of himself. Thus, a mineral person sees the problem as being within himself - either as a lack, or as a potential loss. For example: ‘I may lose my money’ or ‘I may lose my voice’ are typical mineral expressions. (Note: one does not conclude the kingdom from one or two lines – the same sensation has to run through all the different aspects of his life.) Everywhere in a case needing a mineral remedy, the Vital Sensation, the common phenomenon, would be ‘I lack’, or ‘I will lose’.
An Animal Sensation has to do with survival. An animal patient has the issue of ‘me versus you’. The problem is seen as ‘someone is doing something to me’; the problem is personified as someone who is attacking, or who is in competition. For example: “The pain is killing me”; or “My mother in law is stronger and I am weaker.” The entire pattern of his life will be experienced in the form of ‘me versus you’; victim versus aggressor, strong versus weak.
A Plant Sensation has to do with sensitivity. Sensitivity means that things affect him/her. For example: “My husband’s screaming affects me.” We see here that the husband is not the problem; rather she is affected by a quality or a behavior in her husband. She is sensitive to his screaming and shouting. In the plant kingdom, there is a stimulus and a reaction, and this reactivity comes from an underlying sensitivity.
In this case, we see that when the patient touches anything at all, he gets pain. This is plant sensitivity. This child is very sensitive to things happening around him, and he immediately reacts to the things to which he is sensitive. Whatever he touches produces an instant reaction. This kind of reactivity is a characteristic feature of the plant kingdom. In this case, the Sensation is of being injured, and the reaction is to injure in return.
Once the kingdom is clear, then, we need to understand the subkingdom. The nature of his pain will give us the idea of the subkingdom.
Consider once more the images he has given: pain as if injured with stone; a hunter; a sword; falling from height; being hit by a robber; getting burnt on touching a bulb. Along with this, you have his experience in the pain of ‘hard and swollen, like jelly’, and aggravation from touch. This sensation of injury and this kind of sensitivity to touch is seen in the Compositae family.
We need to find a remedy from the Compositae which is loquacious, since the loquacity is a strongly evident, objective observation, and prominent in his personality. This child spoke continuously for about an hour! Further, it is a pleasant kind of loquacity. He is a happy, joyful kid.
So, the remedy must have this joyous kind of loquacity, along with the theme of injury of the Compositae family. After a thorough study of all the remedies from this family, we found that the following references regarding Taraxacum resonated with the disposition of the patient:
From Allen’s Encyclopedia, “Generalities”: “Inner feeling as if very sick, all limbs painful on touch or when in an uncomfortable position.”
From Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura: Very much inclined to laugh. Loquacity and CONSTANT CHATTERING…. Religious, CHEERFUL DISPOSITION, HAPPINESS, contented with himself and his position.From Lippe’s Keynotes: Painfulness of all the limbs by touch.From Phatak’s Materia Medica: Inclined to talk, laugh and be merry.
Prescription: the remedy selected was Taraxacum. His level of experience is that of delusion, thus the potency we chose was 1M.
Comments: in this case, the miasm did not stand out very clearly. One, however, should not feel handicapped because of not being sure of the miasm. One has to see what is characteristic in each case. In this case, it was his joyful, happy loquacity that stood out, along with the theme of injury. Here, the sensation method took us as far as the plant kingdom and the Compositae subkingdom. The remedy could not be concluded on just the sensation approach; we needed to go to the materia medica. This is an example of how the sensation approach is a tool to be included within the methodology of classical homoeopathy, and is not something detrimental to it.
Follow-up after 6 months:
Grandmother (GM): Now, he has become a little loving.
D: He has become loving?
Mother (M): I think, I have mentioned also that with my mother-in-law and my husband, basically he used to be like, you know… since childhood, very angry. Once, he even raised a hand to her, and that time, he got lot of beating from me. I had mentioned it at that time…
M: Now, that problem is not there.
D: Good…What else? What other changes?
M: His height has increased.
M: I told you that his concentration has increased.
D: His concentration increased?
M: Yeah, now, he can sit in one place. And your suggestion of putting him into karate class also has helped, because his energies are diverted.
D: He is watching less cartoons now, no?
M: I can’t say less cartoons, but I would say that when he comes from school, for one hour he is watching cartoons, but when I tell him, ‘Now, let’s switch off the TV’, he switches it off without throwing so many tantrums. Before, he used to throw a lot of tantrums. And sometimes he will get bored and go to another room, and he will get out his toys to play with. And some more change: he has become a little organized… like one day, he was playing with his toys and afterwards, he arranged all the toys.
Follow-up after one year:
For the initial six months, the patient received Taraxacum 1M once every month, and in the next six months, he
received only two doses.
After one year of treatment, his frequency of colds has decreased by almost 100%, with only two attacks in the past year. The stomach pain seems to have vanished like magic, as he does not complain of it at all.
The most significant change is that he has become more loving. Previously, he was not so comfortable with his father or paternal grandmother. He has now become very loving towards them. There were times when he used to hit his grandmother; this behavior has disappeared. He has become more organized now; after playing with his toys, he tidies up his things instead of leaving them strewn about. His concentration has improved; before he was very restless and would do things only half way, whereas now, he can sit in one place and finish the work at hand.
The whole sensation of being injured has been very much diminished. He no longer complains of pain on touching things; his violent dreams have reduced, as well as his fantasies. His talk is now more appropriate to the situation. Overall, there is a significant improvement at the physical, mental/emotional and holistic levels.
This case also demonstrates beautifully the way in which, when the child is allowed a free-floating space, he comes out with his whole individuality. This case needed very little of doing and much more of being. I had to be patient and simply witness what was happening, while holding on to my deep belief that in the end, everything would connect at one point. My role was that of catalyst – all that the patient needed was a space of his own, in which to be his own self, not judged and not analyzed, but purely heard and observed. It reminds me of a saying by Lao Tzu: “Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?” This case was all about waiting and listening to the pure expressions of this innocent, cheerful child, and in the end everything got connected to the kingdom, subkingdom and source, and to the rubrics and the materia medica.
Such cases give me more and more encouragement to be just a witness and to see the whole pattern emerging, simply by Being.
This case has been previously published in VOICE: e magazine of the other song http://theothersong.wordpress.com/
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