Angry and violent: the case of a destructive young girl
“Anna” was twelve when she came for the first time, along with her mother, but she had in fact been under homeopathic treatment for a large part of her life. Her mother had even taken up the study of homeopathy in order to help find something for her daughter, as the situation was running completely amok. Having heard of this “demon child” for several years from a previous homeopath, I was well-warned, and put away anything breakable or of value in my clinic. Anna sat beside her mother, visibly discontent at having been dragged to yet another therapist. “It’s not me, it’s my parents. My mother is terrible, she only gives us prison food to eat.” One would think that the girl had been beaten, starved and tormented in every possible way, from the way she talked about her parents. And yet, her mother must be one of the sweetest and patient women I have ever encountered, doing all that she could do to find help for her daughter, and for the family, which was suffering badly from the girl’s behaviour.
Everything had to be on Anna’s terms, in her own time and in her own way, with no consideration for anyone around her. She would for instance get something in her mind, and then “have to have it”, otherwise she would throw a full-blown temper tantrum, no matter where she was, complete with cursing, swearing, attacking people and smashing everything around her. She was known to completely demolish anything in her sight – the television, the computer, or the dinnerware. In fits of anger, she would tug the tablecloth off the table, and the family’s meal would end up on the floor, while the other children would scream and cry. Her mother wrote: “Every time I disappeared into another room, she would rip up my work. She won’t listen, but at the same time blames me for not helping. It’s like a no-win situation with her. She has written awful stuff on my desk with a permanent marker, ripped up all my note pads, letters, used up all my cello-tape, staples, ink on stamps, and so on.”
She would be so insistent that her parents often ended up giving in, even to her most expensive and excessive demands. For years, she said that if she could only have a horse, she would be happy, and finally, her parents bought her one. Anna ended up spending all her time with her horse, which she much preferred to the girls of her age: “They’re all mean!” She would make friends, then always have a fall-out with them. She was failing badly at school, and ended up being home-schooled, but most of the time, she simply lazed about and lay in bed, as she said that she was “too tired” to do her schoolwork.
There was always time and energy for her horse, though; she would spend days at a time with her horse, neglecting all else. She insisted on having only the best for her horse – the best food, the best stable, the best saddle, otherwise another fit would follow. Once, when driving home with her mother after buying horse fodder, she went into a rage on the highway, shrieking and pulling her mother’s hair. “You have not bought the right food! It’s not good enough! You are starving my horse!” Her mother tried to explain that the “right food” was sold out at that moment, but that what they had bought was in fact perfectly fine. This, however, brought on even more rage, and Anna tugged at her mother’s hair until she nearly fainted from pain, almost losing control of the car.
Anna was extremely picky about her own food, as well. She would not eat Indian food, although the family was of Indian origin, and the mother was an excellent cook. She would demand certain foods, such as ten Big Mac hamburgers, and then eat one bite and throw the rest away. “It is as though she is simply trying to torment us all the time – nothing we do is ever right for her, and we get blamed for her bad moods all the time.”
Meanwhile, she was gaining weight, and was diagnosed with a thyroid condition. Her skin was greasy and pimply, and her stools smelled putrid. Her personal hygiene was atrocious – she refused to wash or shower, and no one dared to touch food that she had put her hands on. She was continually scratching herself, picking her nose and her bottom, much to the disgust of her siblings.
The relationship with her father was especially fraught – anything that her father asked her to do ended up escalating into fights between them. Of this she said: “If I do what he says, I would be giving in, and then, I would have lost the battle.” If he misplaced anything that had to do with her horse, all hell would break lose, as though he was personally abusing her.
The family’s history was revealing. Anna’s mother described the situation of her husband’s parents, in particular. They had been born in India, but had moved to Fiji in order to better themselves financially. Once there, however, they found themselves going from the frying pan into the fire. They were treated like slaves – having to scrounge for even poorly paid work, and living in squalor. The husband was maltreated by his boss and in turn, he beat his wife at home. She had already been beaten by her own father while living in India. The husband also beat their son, the father of Anna, who carried a deep resentment towards his father.
Anna’s father managed to free himself from the situation, marring a loving and caring wife, also of Indian origin, and founding a family. He worked extremely hard, and became very successful, but suffered from his pent-up anger.
Anna’s mother often compared her daughter to her mother-in-law: “They are both so wilful. Nothing that anyone ever does is right. They have the same fits of anger, and they blame everything on someone else.”
Given Anna’s extreme attachment to her horse, I started with Lac Equinum 200C, one dose. Her behaviour reminded me of a horse gone mad from abuse, kicking and lashing out. After this, she settled down immediately, getting along with her siblings much better and getting her schoolwork done. Her mother noted that her sense of playfulness and humour returned – she joked instead of snarling, and asked to snuggle with her mother. Her “obsession” with her horse diminished: she no longer needed to spend all her time with him, nor did she go into rages around his care. Some things remained, though: she was still picky about her food and refused to wash. She continued to clash with her father.
Her habit of demanding things she later refused led to the next remedy, perhaps one that she needed all along: Cina, in ascending potencies. After the first dose, she expelled a lot of threadworms and stopped picking her nose. Gradually, her behaviour settled even more and she considered going back to school instead of staying at home. This posed many problems, as she easily felt bullied and misunderstood. It was becoming easier to reason with her about the need for her to complete her homework, though she did it with reluctance and a fear of failure. Repeated doses over time led to a calming of the situation at home and at school, much to everyone’s relief.
Despite this, she still refused to wash and she still clashed with her father. The final remedy was then Ammonium carbonicum. According to Jan Scholten, this corresponds to “resentment for the father”, along with the well-known “uncleanliness”.
In the course of two years, Anna has gone from a “demon child” to a friendly young woman, who has friends of her own, and gets along well with her siblings. Her thyroid condition normalised.
In this case, the family dynamic was the most crucial aspect of the case. One would wonder why a girl with such loving parents would take on the behaviour she did, until one looks at the situation of her grandmother, with whom she was so often compared. Beaten as a child, and then later as an adult, put down, humiliated and made to live in impoverished conditions while working hard, she carried a pent-up rage. It would seem that this rage was transmitted to her son, who channelled it into hard work, climbing the ladder of success. This rage, however, found its expression in Anna, who behaved as though she herself had been beaten and tormented. One could say that Anna carried the family pain, forcing the family to look at it and heal the family history of abuse rather than push it away by sheer hard work.
Interestingly, as Anna began to reintegrate into the family, her paternal grandfather became ill with heart complaints, reminiscent of Aurum. Anna’s father was reluctant to visit him, as he was unresolved about the relationship. I suggested Aurum carbonicum for Anna’s father, since his wife was concerned that he was going in the same direction as his father, and would end up with heart complaints himself. He took the remedy and things became steadily more harmonious at home. I no longer receive panic emails, only mails to say how well things are going (note that nearly the whole treatment has taken place by email, after one initial in-person consultation, since we live on opposite side of the globe).
Cina belongs to the Compositae family (Asteraceae), along with Arnica, Bellis perennis, Calendula and other trauma remedies. Often, the response of someone needing a remedy from the Compositae family is to become tough and independent, fighting back and not giving in. The Cina reaction is one of anger, and even violence, at anything that they perceive to be an intrusion of their boundaries. Jan Scholten places Cina in stage 13 of the Compositae, similar to Mercurius, the stage of fighting, as though everyone is their enemy. He writes of Cina, in his new book “Wonderful Plants”: "They cannot stand to be interfered with or taken over. They easily feel violated, for instance by doctors who decide over them, or by parents or teachers who overrule them. It feels like a threat, as if they are violated and even as if they are threatened with being killed. It is a blow to their integrity and autonomy. It makes them very angry. They can express their anger very violently, but often they retire into themselves, feeling grudging and bitter. They can be very snappish and sarcastic about the world.”
Happy Halloween; Amisrobot; Flickr
Girls and horse; MTSOfan; Flickr
Keywords: temper tantrums, contrary behaviour, violence, tormenting, threadworms, family dynamics
Remedies: Ammonium carbonicum, Cina, Lac equinum