March 2014

A confrontation with a dominant male makes you feel vulnerable: a case of Columba palumbus

by Carolyn Burdet

The initial consultation was at short notice, a request for a home visit, as she was too anxious to leave the house. It sounded like an acute situation – she was suffering severe anxiety since a family funeral, but it turns out the funeral was two years ago. She is in a broken down state, unable to leave the house or go to work. Counselling did not help.

Initial Consultation

The patient is a woman aged 59. Her house is very tidy, everything in the decor matches – wallpaper, curtains, cushions, air freshener. She has neatly styled hair, nail varnish, and it is evident that she takes a great deal of care about appearance.

The case unfolds in a very scattered, disjointed way. She struggles to gather her thoughts. Her legs are jiggling constantly and she makes flapping hand movements. She weeps and picks at her nails.

Patient (P): My daughter has given me Ignatia (50M!) for anxiety and situations when I feel I’m going to be stressed. I get palpitations. When I take it, I’m not aware of it working.

Two years ago, my ex-husband died of cancer. It was stressful for my daughter, it affected her afterwards.

I tend to pick up on anxiety, my own and that of other people. I can’t shield myself. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is my response to it. It kicks off and I can’t control it (HG: lots of hand gestures - bringing her hands near the sides of her head with her fingers splayed wide apart, fluttering her fingers).

Anxiety about family

P: I pick up on anxiety from other people, my family. It builds up. The fear of not knowing builds up stress in you. I have problems with my son. He had a head injury. He got involved in a fight – he was in hospital. (It is very disjointed, she is visibly distraught and trying to contain herself.) You don’t know what the situation is, what you’re going to find. Anxiety kicks off the IBS. I can’t control it. It’s like that in any situation. Not knowing triggers it and I can’t control it. You don’t know which doctor you’re going to see (HG hands flapping).

Fear of dominant people

P: My dad was strict. I remember being fearful of him. Fear of him as an adult male (HG).

He was dominant. Strong dominant people, adult men give me the same feeling. I didn’t like going to see a male doctor. If I saw I was going to see him, I’d be worse. He was like, “what’s wrong with you today then...” (HG, as if dismissing her).

Overprotective of her children

P: I told him what happened when I was little, and he sent me for counselling. I’d never mentioned it before to a doctor. I never mentioned it when I was little to my mum or dad. (She explains this incident later.)

It gave me a problem of being over-protective with my children. It was ok when they were children, I could control it, I could control them, but when they got to the age when they want to go out and about, teenagers, that caused me a problem.

Affected by terrible stories in the news

Carolyn Burdet (CB): What is the feeling?

P: It makes me have a fear of something happening (HG, legs jerking, she is very agitated).

I didn’t have the trust that they could make decisions about what people are like out there. If I see or hear anything that happens to children on the news, it affects me.

The pressure you feel in your head. I get headaches. I’ve got an appointment at the Ear Nose Throat department at the hospital for my sinuses. I had an ear infection; it led to labyrinthitis and tinnitus. I feel pressure when there are health things, I have tension in my neck and shoulders, I stand like this... (she sits up rigidly with stiffened shoulders).

CB: What’s ...this?

P: Hunched. (It looks the opposite of hunched; rigid, upright, stiff, very high shoulders.)

I’m not breathing properly, I’m holding my breath.

CB: If I say ‘Being in control’, what comes to mind?

P: It’s all to do with safety. It’s being aware of what’s around me, of what imposes a risk. Fearing what will happen if I’m not in control.

CB: ‘Dominant people’...?

P: My ex-husband was not dominant, but he had a drink problem. You are the main person who controls responsibility. The difference with this husband is that he is a stronger person. He can be quite dominating (HG flapping). I have a problem with that. I can’t stick up for myself with a dominant male, if it’s a confrontation with a male. My husband is not going to reject me if I stand up to him – he won’t like it, but he won’t reject me (tearful, HG: legs jerking).

Fear of making errors

P: I have a fear of making mistakes, of making errors. I’m quite pernickety, conscientious – not obsessive – but if I’m doing something I’m responsible for at work, I’m meticulous. I check and re check. I’m not a meticulous housekeeper as you can see. (This is the opposite – there is not a thing out of place). I have so many family items that need sorting out and getting rid off. I’m holding onto them. I’ve lost a lot of my family (weeps).


P: There’s an underlying fear as I get older, it happens more and more, it’s closer and closer, my own mortality, and people in the family, I’ll not be able to cope with it. Cancer is so dominant. I’ve lost people close to me in a really short time, two years (weeps).

Estranged from family

P: My father didn’t have anything to do with family. There were skeletons with his family.

The family didn’t talk about it. My father was estranged from his family.  It affected how he treated me. He felt over-protective of me. That made it worse. If we did something naughty he would threaten to put me in a children’s home. I remember clinging to his legs pleading with him not to put me in a children’s home (weeps).

Responsibility for family problems

P: My son’s getting divorced. He has two girls, but he doesn’t see them. He had another boy with another relationship but he doesn’t see him and I can’t see my grandson (weeps). He doesn’t care about anything. He doesn’t send me a birthday card or a Mother’s day card. I feel hurt. I’ve always tried to be there for him. I tried to sort out his financial things but I end up taking on responsibility, there’s only so much you can do. My fear is that he’ll get into trouble. My children don’t tell me a lot of what goes on. They know I worry, so they don’t tell me anything. They are protecting me like I used to do to them. It’s a rejection (weeps).

Poverty background

P: My father was strict. He was dominant. We weren’t well off. We lived in a caravan, like a shed. There was no electricity. I shared a bedroom with my brother and we fetched water in a bucket. We lived in quite poor conditions.

We were always worried about upsetting my dad – he’d get angry. My mother couldn’t afford to get us presents at Christmas so she ordered things from a catalogue that you pay week by week, and my dad went mad at her. He didn’t like buying things we couldn’t afford to pay for.

It made me afraid, fearful in situations where people get angry, people who fight. It gave me a lot of fear. I can’t comprehend the way people are, the way the world is. I watch detective programs on TV, gory murders. There is no value on life at all.

I am secure here. I am in a financial situation where I don’t have money worries. I still have a job. My husband says I don’t have to work but it’s security. I’ve been on my own as a single parent. I had to do it to survive. I don’t need to work but it offers me security. My husband takes responsibility for bills. 


P: I used to sing but I lost my confidence. I don’t know if I can perform now. The nerves take over, I’m worried if I’m going to forget it, make a mistake that puts you under pressure. IBS upsets my tummy. Like my son being in hospital. I find it affects you.

Fear of the Edge

P: My counsellor talked to me about taking responsibility. For instance, when there was a couple with a toddler at the harbour, there was nothing preventing him falling over the edge. Why don’t they see he’s in danger? Why aren’t they taking any notice of this little one – they are responsible for making him safe. (She also talks about her husband’s driving and fear of him going too near the edge.)

CB: What about heights? (She mentioned fear of heights on her form.)

P: Looking over the edge of a cliff to the bottom or looking down a building, there is the fear of falling off. I feel vulnerable. It’s dangerous – to fall over the edge.

(We spend time with this, the image is very vivid for her, she goes deeper into Sensation).

Dry throat

P: My IBS kicks off, I get pain and it makes me go to the toilet. Sharp pain, cramp. I can feel all the sensitivity like a build up of wind. It creates pressure. Going to the toilet releases the pressure.

CB:  Any other symptoms?

P: Problems with my throat, a dry throat. Sore, dry, red, like there is no moisture in it. A virus normally goes from a sore throat to a cold and a cough, and my sinuses get infected. Sinus pressure across my nose and pain across my face. I wake up as tired as I go to bed. I can’t seem to get myself motivated. I feel under pressure to do things. The headaches are a sharp pain across the nose.

You have to take control of it - you don’t give in, it makes you feel vulnerable if you give in. If I give in I feel weak, I get upset.

Fear of flying

P: I don’t feel safe flying. I can’t bring myself to do it, flying. I lost my dad two days before my 20th birthday. It badly affected me. That feeling comes back. Fear of flying, fear of something happening in the aeroplane. I have a lack of trust in the people responsible for the aircraft; pilots, people make mistakes.


(She has been fiddling with her nails and continues spontaneously...)

P: I used to bite my nails until they bled. I pull the skin around my nails and thumb until it bleeds. I don’t like talon sized nails. I don’t want them to look ugly, like my nails used to. It makes me stronger not to bite them. I don’t know how you can function with talon sized nails. 

I’m a worrier. But I can pick up on the things people say if they make fun of me.  I use humour as defense, so it feels like they weren’t the ones making fun of me and I don’t feel vulnerable. It’s a defensive reaction. It’s the vulnerability. It’s the control thing; I feel better when I take control.

Trying to get family together

P: But I can’t deal with my own family so easily. I want them to be happy. When I see they’re not, I can’t do anything about that. I can’t take control. I try and get them together. I’ve got 8 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. I’m happiest when they’re all together. I worry if when I’m not here, they won’t see one another, they’re so busy with their own lives (cries).


P: My brother moved away. My fear is dying ultimately. I haven’t had any contact. I know if anything happens to him I couldn’t cope with that. I know what I felt like when my dad died. That’s when it started.

I must have had the disposition in my own mentality for anxiety. My mum didn’t cope with it very well. I might as well not be here now. She wasn’t strong. She didn’t support me. I didn’t have a close loving relationship. When you have a mum and dad, everything is going to be all right. Now you’re the one like that. We couldn’t afford a holiday. We were just living, just surviving. I was so fearful of dad. 

I’d like to get to the point where I’m happy. I’m happy when my children are all together here. I like to help other people. There’s a neighbour whose husband has skin cancer. I feel good about myself when I do something small to help somebody else. I feel better about myself. I don’t feel better about the other side of myself. I had an affair because of the drinking. It was with (her second husband). The complication caused its own problems. I don’t feel good about myself. I feel I’m a bad person (weeps, her legs fidget frantically).


P: Antibiotics don’t work any more, they’ve been abused. The tablets the doctor gives you (antidepressants) numb you out. I weaned myself off them. In the morning I was awful, zombified.

I’m angry with myself and with my father too, I blame him. My father was so dominant, so I didn’t stop the man because I was fearful. (She describes a childhood incident age 7 where she was taken from the fairground by a stranger, and he made her touch him sexually.) He gave me 10 shillings. My counsellor says it was child abuse, but I didn’t know that’s what it was, he didn’t do anything to me, he got me to do something to him. It’s had an effect on my relationships (HG: waves to where her husband has just come in). 


Repertorisation using Radar

The central issue is fear and anxiety after being dominated and abused:

Estranged from her family 

Delusion: forsaken feeling

Ailments from mortification

Ailments from domination

Fear of losing control

Conscientious about trifles + Fastidious - Arsenicum Staph Thuja Falco Pulsatilla Sepia

Fear of Impending Disease, Cancer

Fear of High Places 

Ailments after being abused - combined with

Ailments after sexual abuse- 

Top Repertoristion results include:

Lycopodium, Carcinosin, Arsenicum, Nat mur, Staphysagria, Sepia, Calc, Ignatia, Arg nit, Staphysagria, Medorrhinum, Platina, Falco-p.

Lycopodium would treat the anticipatory anxiety and IBS symptoms but it does not cover the central issue of the case; a partial remedy for a handful of symptoms. Carcinosin meets her need for control over details, but it seems like a suppressive prescription. We can cover the cancer miasm of the case by working with sensation, kingdoms and miasms.

You are unlikely to come to a bird remedy via repertorisation alone. 

Which Kingdom?

Any Mineral Kingdom themes? Incapacity for the burden of responsibility

“Not knowing if I’ll not be able to cope with it.” (incapacity); “She didn’t support me.” (Stage 2? – need for support). “I am secure here. My husband says I don’t have to work but it’s security.” (Series 4, stage 2?). “If I give in, I feel weak.” (Weak could be mineral or animal).

Plant kingdom themes? Sensitivity

She is “sensitive” to others’ distress, she has sinus problems, exacerbated by chemical air fresheners, but her anxiety is not triggered by her environment, rather by her family.

Animal Kingdom themes? Domination

Aggressor / victim, dominant / submissive, power, being in control/being controlled, being dominated, dominant men, violent fights, confrontation, weaker/stronger, survival issues

“My father was strict, he was dominant.” “This husband is stronger, he can be dominating.” “I can’t stick up for myself with a dominant male, if it’s a confrontation with a male. It makes you feel vulnerable if you give in.” (Dominating/submissive).  

“I don’t feel better about the other side of myself.” (Split will - instinctive animal sexual side, giving in to her sexuality, deceit of an extramarital affair - all animal themes).

“I’m angry with myself and with my father. My father was so dominant, I was fearful. I didn’t stop the man because I was fearful.” (Dominated, overpowered, manipulated, sexual abuse).

“We were just living, just surviving.” (More than a security issue, it is a survival issue).

Animal Themes in the case

Dominated by a dominant male

Control / being controlled

Confrontation, conflict



Bird Themes

Responsibility for looking after family

Sex abuse, incest, anger shame (pigeon themes)

Environmental sensitivity

Flying, heights

Restless extremities, jiggling legs, HG flapping

“I can’t deal with my own family so easily. I want them to be happy, when I see they’re not, I can’t do anything about that. I can’t take control. I try and get them together.” (Concern for the family and trying to keep the flock together is a Bird theme).

Materia Medica - Birds  


Dominated and trapped, domination or the victim of domination

Ailments after rape

Horrible things, sad stories affect her, worries that something bad will happen, and a sense of having no shield 

Fear in family settings, lacking control in life, chaos when control is taken away

Cleaning, order and organisation


Falco-p is the only bird remedy covered amply in the repertory - just as Calc is the most repertorised mollusc and Lachesis is the most repertorised snake. But there are other birds ... I think she needs a victim bird, who fears the talons, rather than a bird of prey.

Columba palumbus known as the Staphysagria of the bird kingdom

Trapped by helplessness; vulnerable

Suffering domination by others; fear of men

Sensitivity, the world is harsh and violent; people are cruel.

Guilt shame, delusions has done wrong, shame, mortification; feels judged and criticised. 

History of abuse, feels bad about herself after abuse, sexuality subdued.

Protective of themselves, withdrawn from world

Feels they have neglected their duty, and deserves reproach, remorse, mortification.

Grief suppressed, sadness, despondence, depression, melancholy

Suppression of anger, they console their aggressor.

Maybe religious but not spiritual like high flying birds

Poverty, vermin

Hands busy, full of mindless conversation - when I speak no one hears.

Anxiety dealing with others, timid yielding to domination


Pigeons are survivors, they live in the city, in a flock. She wants her family to be all together.

The physical symptoms of tympanic abdomen, flatulence, diarrhoea, dry throat, painful sinuses and pressure in the head – are all physical symptoms of bird remedies.

Pigeon is in the cancer miasm and has a central issue of having been abused.

The pigeon roosts on ledges on high buildings, or cliffs.


Prescription: Columba palumbus 30C - 1 dose daily for 5 days

Follow up

Six weeks later: we went to France and I could remember places we’ve been before. You have to be observant if you’re going somewhere unfamiliar, trying to find your way around. I remembered where a house was that we’d been to years ago, and found it again. 

The soreness in my throat is not like it was. It dries up if I talk a lot but I haven’t had a  bad sore throat like the one I was waking up with. Right behind my nose it was irritable, I don’t think it’s as bad now.

There’s not someone else on my back - it’s me thinking I’ve got to get this done. I don’t like to feel preyed on, vulnerable, things going round in my head, trying to find a solution.

What kind of thing preys on someone?

A person... men preying on vulnerable girls. Abuse. Men abuse girls.

If you’re controlled, you’re vulnerable. That’s weakness, if you can’t face up to situations or people, not dealing with things, no one else can do it for you.

Prescription: Columba palumbus 30C - 1 dose daily for 3 days of the month before stressful week at work

Follow up

Six weeks later: doing the payroll is pressure, trying to do it right. Last time, it was more complicated, this time it was less stressful. I’ve been wondering, shall I give up work or shan’t I? It’s not taking me too much time, it’s the stress I put on myself.

There’s not been much communication with my family. My daughter has been telling me funny things that happen at work. She seems more in control of what happens to her.

My son is another issue, he had a head injury. (She mentioned this before but she doesn’t seem so worried about family problems now. She is more able to go in and help with the family and has found ways to mediate and bring them together).

A friend asked me what remedy I’d taken. I told her you’ve got to have an individual one, go to a homeopath to talk about it.

The main difference with what you’ve given me is that things don’t drag me down in the same way, it controls the anxiety side of things. It’s a lot better. I’m getting there with the things I’m trying to deal with.

The tingling in my legs is better.

I’ve been out in the garden, doing more; before I didn’t feel like doing anything.

My husband is going on about sorting things in the house. We’ve accumulated things, holding on to past memories, but it clutters your head. Letting go of them feels better.

I’m a lot happier, it goes back to being a bit more in control of things.

Follow ups continued for a year

This is one of those cases where so much more unfolds after taking the remedy. There were many disclosures and so much has been resolved as more and more came to the surface of her awareness. What was most surprising was how well she was able to deal with even worse situations as they came to light, after having the remedy – despite the distressed state at our first consultation she was much stronger and more capable emotionally.

Physical symptoms of unease had been suppressed by inhalers and repeated medication. The truth in the situation had been repressed for many years. When she went away over summer and missed taking the remedy for a few months, she realised how much it had been helping her deal with situations in her family. After the next dose of remedy she became aware of how the symptoms of sinus and throat pain had occurred with the need to not say anything about what had been happening. She understood the link and stopped requesting medical tests and more medications.

She continues to become psychologically stronger and now shows a playful side of her nature, singing in a choir and spending leisure time with her family. The house is still immaculate!

Peter Fraser - Birds - Seeking the Freedom of the Sky
Jonathan Shore - Birds - Remedies from the Avian Realm
Jonathan Shore - Bird remedies and case receiving - interview with Debby Bruck
Jonathan Hardy - on birds
Alicia Lee - Mind Maps
Sankaran - Structure

Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Columba palumbus in flight; Snowmanradio; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
Adult ringduva; Erik Stålfors; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Categories: Cases
Keywords: sexual abuse, domination, victim, weakness, poverty, survival, world is harsh, suppressed, anxiety, cancer miasm, tympanic abdomen, sinuses, cystitis
Remedies: Columba palumbus


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