S, a seventy year old woman, presented as slim and a little rigid in her appearance. She had a thin, sallow face. She gave the impression of being prim, self-contained and careful. She dressed in a professional way, in black and gray, but with a quiet flare. Her speech was quiet, formal and controlled. She had a dry sense of humour and often laughed at herself. She seemed intelligent and warm.
Her main concern was life-long constipation. There was a lot of pressure around toilet training when she was only three months old. She remembered being seated on the pot and left till she went (which she never did). “I was criticized a lot for not being able to produce.” Stool softeners, diet, and exercise had not helped. She has a bowel motion only once a week.
She has also had under-active thyroid since childhood. She was diagnosed at 22 with hypothyroidism but felt that she probably had had it since childhood. She was always very tired and cold.
She had a hiatus hernia with burning in her throat at night, worse eating too late or too much, worse from Indian food and from alcohol.
She had arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. Five years ago she had problems with blackouts but she had lived with terrible pain in her neck and shoulders for years before that. “My artery was completely blocked but I didn’t need a surgical bypass because the artery itself sent out little streams and did the job.”
She had a history of migraines. They went away after retirement. She craved chocolate before an attack.
She woke up strongly every night at 3am and could not get back to sleep.
Other Notable Aspects
She had had a near-death experience approximately 20 years earlier, when a routine hospital test went wrong. She looked down on her body, was drawn down a corridor of light. She felt drawn into a vortex and knew that she would cease to exist and was happy with the prospect. However, she made a choice to come back because her children were young and still needed her.
Fear of heights - she would feel sucked over the edge when standing on a balcony.
Likes salty things but does not indulge the desire.
She told me that she saw herself as a “great failure” and she had a lot of sadness related to that. “I have failed my son. I haven’t lived up to my potential or done as well as I ought to have. That is the amazing thing about the near-death experience: I thought, ‘I haven’t done so badly with things’. I never felt that otherwise.”
She said that she could easily obsess about these failures, and the failure of her marriage which ended approximately 40 years earlier. “What was my part in it? It failed. I don’t know how. I go over and over it in my mind.”
“Perseverance is an important word to me,” she told me. “I’ve never accomplished it. Maybe it accounts for my fear of failure; the ways that I have failed. I often think that I just didn’t know the next step forward beyond the intermediate level. I have never had the self-worth or the energy. Perseverance is what I admire in others.” She always set high standards for herself.
She had had a very responsible position in her professional world, which she failed to defend against an ambitious subordinate who wanted to advance. “I felt resentful but never said or did anything. Then, I just retired.”
“This is a pattern, the way I deal with things,” she said. “Eventually, I just end the relationship.” Also, “I behave as though I am powerless but I don’t take a powerful role very easily.”
She felt that what she thought and said was not of interest to people. She had few strong opinions.
She felt lonely, sad, and isolated. She felt
#1- I’m writing an exam and either I’m unprepared or can’t find the room.
#2- I’m in a large department store. I’m trying to find the exit to get back to the university.
#3- I’m back in the city where I lived with my husband. I’ve found a wonderful, marvelous apartment for my husband and me. I’m trying to find it again so I can show it to him. It is always in a crumbling old house. The feeling is fear and a sense of failure. Why is this happening again? I ought to be able to find my way out of this.
Analysis of the Case
“I see myself as a great failure.”
Failure was an obvious theme. She saw herself as a great failure:
- She felt that she had failed her son.
- She had failed in her marriage.
- She had failed to defend her position as a leader.
- She had failed to produce even as a baby, when she could not pass a stool.
“I behave as though I’m powerless.”
She related her failure to a number of causes, all variants of insufficiency:
- Her inability to persevere.
- Her lack of confidence.
- Her lack of self esteem.
- Her lack of energy.
- Her not knowing what to do.
- Her feelings of powerlessness.
“I was criticized for not being able to produce.”
Certainly, under-functioning and insufficiency also show up physically:
- Lack of energy
- Lack of body heat
“Why is this happening again? I ought to be able to find my way out of this.”
Her sense of failure made her feel:
Jan Scholten’s Homeopathy and the Elements helped in my search for the remedy (Baryta bromata is very under-represented in the repertories). The Gold series has a lot of heart and thyroid pathology, as well as issues around failure. Baryta, in stage two of the Gold series, has issues of lack and insufficiency. Scholten has written that powerlessness in leadership is the essence of Baryta. That struck a chord. He also observes that “deep inside they do possess power and dignity but they don’t have the push to let it come out.”
Feelings of guilt and failure in the case made me look at Bromium and at Baryta bromata. Bromium, writes Scholten, can have a “fear they can’t fulfill their task.” He also notes, “They know they should have done better so they feel guilty.” That fits the case too.
Further, Scholten writes that Bromium may be “inclined to want to escape after failure.” When I presented this case at a BC Society of Homeopaths’ Case Conference, Iain Marrs pointed out the thematic resonance between stage 17 and the near-death experience. Stage 17 has to do with letting go, exiting, and escaping. Exiting after failure was a pattern for S.
Prescription: Baryta bromata 12C – single dose
Follow-up after two months
She had flu-like symptoms for a week after she first took the remedy. She experienced a dramatic difference in her well-being. From the start, she had regular daily bowel motions. Her sleep had improved. Her energy had improved and she felt better about herself. She had signed up for a painting class.
Follow-up one year later
She had no difficulty getting to sleep. She did not wake up and start beating up on herself anymore. Her heart symptoms had improved. She no longer had pain in her neck. Constipation had not been a problem, or only a little just recently. She had been having regular bowel movements once or twice daily. Her heart seemed to be continuing to improve, she said. The doctor had cut down on the medication. Thyroxin increased around the time of the remedy. Her state of mind was good.
Prescription: repeat Baryta bromata12C because recently, constipation is again starting to be a bit of a problem.
Follow-up five months later
Her doctor had run tests and cut both her heart and thyroid medications by half.
Follow-up a year and a half later
She was still doing well. Her doctor had again cut down her heart and thyroid medication.
Follow-up five months later
She was still doing well.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Pure barium in protective argon gas atmosphere; Matthias Zepper
Light effect; Ulrich Rahm
Keywords: constipation, hypothyroid, thyroxin, arteriosclerosis, failure, guilty, powerless, ending
Remedies: Baryta bromata