A case of Vanessa Atalanta
H, a 57 year old woman, presents with severe rash in genital area that spreads up her belly. It itches terribly, and as she scratches, welts appear right above the pubic hair line. The more she scratches the more it itches; she often scratches till it bleeds. She had this many years ago and then it returned 4 years ago when her mother was dying. Over past 4 years H has helped both her parents die. After her mother died, rash went away and it returned 6 months ago She says she is slow to acknowledge what is happening in her body—she just soldiers through stuff. She has not had a chance to really grieve her father’s death.
She is the head of a non profit organization that does violence prevention for youth. She is retiring in a month – wants to figure out what parents’ deaths mean for her. Lots of change and loss. Mother died of cancer, was in and out of hospital for 40 years due to alcohol and pharmaceutical addiction. Father had mesothelioma and was a highly functional alcoholic. Was in the Navy, proud to be a veteran, had a 21 gun salute at his funeral.
H is a compulsive overeater and exercise bulimic. Has been depressed her whole life She believes she exhibits the behavior of someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She has a public self and an internal self -- the internal 3 year old says : I don’t deserve to live; I don’t know anything; I’m not pretty. She says that much like her mother, her sense of validation is completely tied up with men loving her. She weeps throughout interview.
H is in a relationship with a man. “I married my father and I’m not sure I need to be married to him now that he is dead…” A friend has told her that the rash is because H “doesn’t want to open her legs.” The relationship she is in is plagued by infidelity and lying. Power imbalance in relationship – she pays him off to love her. He will not be seen in public with her.
Daddy’s little girl
When she was little, the world revolved around her father but they had a falling out and the relationship was contentious for 25 years. Once he was diagnosed with cancer “I fell in love with him like a little girl…He loved me. I am his baby and he always protected me. He always had my back. I fell in love with his fabulousness.” H went on to say that she was “grieving the Daddy and the man who didn’t show me what to expect from a man in an intimate relationship. I don’t have those skills.” (Emphasis added.) She said she knows she needs help – she has never grown up emotionally and is a “pretty good 3 to 5 year old, the baby, the princess.”
She loves butterflies and never lets her cats catch them.
Prescription: Red Admiral 30c.
Analysis: It was extraordinary to hear a 57 year old
woman describe falling in love with her father.
This attachment to her father and the confusion between being a daughter
and being a romantic lover clearly pointed to Red Admiral butterfly. Many butterfly qualities are also present:
- feeling abandoned, unprotected
- feeling like one is a child
- concern about death, grief
- concern for children – her organization is all about protecting children from violence
- skin rash
At 4 months: physically she is doing well. She and the man she was involved with have separated. She retired from her work. Her ex recently approached her asking to resume a sexual relationship and the rash immediately flared up. Repeated remedy and it went away. She is having a bad acne outbreak because she “figures she is in her teenage years!” Doing yoga, writing every day, trying to have life be enough even if it is “just her.” Doing well with food and eating. Is beginning a relationship with a long ago boyfriend. Realizing it’s possible to be with someone she likes.
At 9 months: doing okay. Clearing out parent’s house, very much an emotional trigger. Feels more self contained, more grown up. Learning how to be an adult in a relationship – revolutionary!
Sleeping better. Genital itch much better, just a couple of bumps that come and go.
Has taken the 200c of Red Admiral when it flares up. Acne is gone – she’s doing a better job of taking care of her skin.
At 11 months: Not sleeping well, worrying about mortality. Not doing well with aging. “ Where did 58 years go? I haven’t been present to my life…”
Red Admiral 1M. After two weeks H reports that the rash is flaring up but “Overall, I feel pretty strong - quiet, internal, no clarity about future, but not really thinking about it much either…"
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Admiral, Vanessa atalanta; Jacob Hubner (1761-1826)
Keywords: genital rash, post traumatic stress disorder, attachment to the father, abandonment, concern with death and grief
Remedies: Vanessa atalanta