2011 July August

Backtracking to go in a new direction; a case of Amphisbaena vermicularis

by Doug Brown

A young woman, B., who I had been treating with partial success since she was 13 years old, for dysmenorrhea, allergic rhinitis, and social anxiety, returned to me at the age of 18 in March 2008. She was now married and 36 weeks pregnant. She told me that she was upset, congested, and not happy about anything. Fortunately, this visit provided me with the opportunity to perceive her state more deeply. These are her words:

“I have a bad attitude. I’m not happy about making myself beautiful, getting dressed in the morning. I’m angry at everything and I don’t know why. I asked M. (my husband) to stir the oatmeal, and he didn’t use the spoon I had in mind. I’m used to my routine and am not willing to allow any variation.  Something is off, wrong. It’s not going like normal.

“I find something wrong in everything, in little details that don’t matter. I act superior, as if I have a better method. I don’t state my expectations and then I blame others, even though it’s my fault. I have to change in the middle, and figure out how to deal with a different situation. I have difficulty dealing with change.  I put so much into planning; I always have to have a plan, otherwise I feel unprepared and then I don’t know what to do. It’s a mental thing, getting my mind around an idea. I’m not ready to go in that direction. It’s a struggle…how to let go of what I had in mind. I can’t SWITCH from one idea to another. There’s a step-by-step thing I have to follow.

“I have to backtrack to go in a new direction. I have to go back and get rid of what I had in mind. Then I can go in a new direction. It’s a complex process. If I don’t get rid of what I had in mind…I’m trying to keep….it’s just not compatible. I feel stubborn. I just don’t want to let go. Switching is like a regrouping. There’s a stop in the middle. There’s no smooth transition.

“I dreamt I was in charge of a woman who was working for me. I explained something for her to do, and she didn’t quite get it. It took a long time and I had to redo everything she did. She was happy and positive but never managed to get things done right. I was incredulous! How does she stay happy? She never gets it right!

“All my energy comes from everywhere, and goes to my abdomen. That makes me feel weak. There’s no energy anywhere else. I can’t lift my hands, get up, and walk. The energy is all in one spot.

“Some days, I’m absolutely miserable, on other days I’m fine. I go Back and Forth (HG). It’s like there’s a choice, to go from one experience to the other.”

worm lizardThemes from Previous Consultations:

Fear of outsiders coming in (wolves), fear of spiders

Wrong vs. right

Alone, left out

Successful, Superior vs. Insecurity

Not acting civilized

Singled out, persecuted

Although her rigidity and difficulty with change had previously led me to remedies from the Mineral kingdom, I now understood that B. was experiencing a deep division within herself, an inner conflict, which is an aspect of the Animal Kingdom. Also, the rigidity she identifies is not an expression of a need for structure; rather, she says, it is the byproduct of a “complex process”. She lives in a universe where success is equivalent to having one’s way in the trifling details of life, being part of the in-group and not being excluded, being either the good, right person or alternatively being the one who is bad and blamed. Her dream reflects the aspect of dominance vs. submission: she is in charge of another person. But the division within is reflected in these two archetypes: one who is ineffective but happy, the other who is dominant and effective, but perpetually miserable.

The key to this case is her description of the “complex process” of changing direction. It is as if these two archetypes are like two Beings, two sides of herself, who wish to go in opposite directions. She cannot drop one idea for the other, because to drop an idea is to submit one Being to the other.

A group of Animal remedies which includes themes of Right v. Wrong and In-group vs. Excluded is the lizard family.  The theme of persecution also is present in the snake remedies. The Worm Lizards, Family Amphisbaenidae, look like huge earthworms, and their way of moving, either backward or forward, suggests the action of one. Amphis, from the Greek, means on or both sides. Baino means ‘step go’. Thus Amphisbaena means going at both ends by steps. The Liddell and Scott Lexicon translates Amphisbaino as a “kind of serpent that can go both ways.” Indeed, they have been seen to travel in both directions in their subterranean tunnels, moving both forwards and backwards. Locally, they are often called “two-headed snakes” (From Natural History of Animals, in Reference Works, KHA). The best-known rubric for this remedy, “Delusions: body, feet, brain, are in, with headache”, beautifully reflects this confusion of which part of the body leads the way: which is up, or which is down?

Prescription: Amphisbaena 200C, with a daily dose of Sac lac.

Four months later, in April 2008, she told me that her labor had lasted only 3 hours, and that her recovery exceeded all expectations. “I was never in pain, or too upset or concerned. I was able to stay really relaxed. I’ve been happy, never angry or upset. Not having a routine doesn’t bother me at all. I feel productive and happy. Although I’m mostly alone (with my baby), I’m happy and doing my own thing. I can’t believe that I’m ME, the way I’ve dealt with the past few weeks. It seems like there’s nothing wrong” (said incredulously).

B. has continued to stay in touch and to do well since then. In Feb. 2010 a 200C was repeated because of a recurrence of some allergy symptoms. In June of that year, I gave her a 1M when she experienced a partial relapse during her second pregnancy, with excellent response.

Lizard remedies are not so well known and easily missed. This, perhaps, is a reflection of their propensity for camouflage and hiding in our natural world. It took me five years and many remedies to find this patient’s simillimum but the results since then have been unequivocally positive. The key to uncovering the remedy was, as usual, an attentiveness to the process and experience behind the facts, the story, and the emotions. Only when we simultaneously grasp both the Whole and the Center can we open the doorway for healing consciousness in our patients.                                               

How do any of us choose our direction? How do we decide whether to attune ourselves to one thought, goal, or impulse, versus competing ideas? The sphere of consciousness of Amphisbeana seems to encompass one way in which this process can become mired in a dualistic struggle reminiscent of Hegel’s Thesis vs. Antithesis, but from which no Synthesis can arise. Prior to receiving the curative remedy, B.’s life was essentially a living expression of this question. Once the simillimum was correctly perceived, she was free to live out a satisfying answer to this question.

Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Image of two Iberian worm lizards (Blanus cinereus) in a garden near Seville, Spain; Richard Avery
Wall lizard in the Donnersbergerbrücke Station in Munich; Np Holmes

Keywords: going back and forth at once, right versus wrong, in-group versus excluded, dominance versus submission
Remedies: Amphisbaena vermicularis

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