Book review: A Wander With a Little Wonder by Dinesh Chauhan
Case-taking in children is often considered difficult, since we, homeopaths, so often rely on the words of patients in order to understand their inner state. In his book, Dinesh Chauhan reverses this concept, stating that he finds children’s cases especially easy to take, and the results to be fast and effective. He leads us step by step through what he calls “case witnessing”: a way of putting oneself aside and entering into the child’s world, seeing through the eyes of the child; in order to tune into a child, one must be able to be as a child. His obvious love for children shines through, as he admires their boundless energy and their unique ways of expressing themselves, wondering aloud how we can best maintain that pure energy rather than diverting into illness.
Chauhan pays tribute to his teacher and inspirer, Rajan Sankaran, whose methods he has mastered and made his own. In this book, he shows how these methods are adapted to children – though in fact, much of the advice would be as applicable to adults. Like all homeopathic teachers, he admonishes us to become the “unprejudiced observer” though unlike many, he gives clear guidelines on how to go about this task. In order to find the altered pattern of energy in the child, that which will lead to the remedy, he observes how it is expressed through the child itself and not through the descriptions of the parents, even though the child might still not be speaking. As he says, 90% depends on observing the patterns and actions of the child, 9% on listening to what the child says, and 1% on listening to what the parent says. Starting with passive case-witnessing, he encourages the child to express itself as freely as possible, making sure that there is ample space in the clinic for movement and plenty of means for expression: toys, crayons and paper, puzzles, etc. If the child is old enough to be on its own, the parents are only encouraged to remain in the room as long as they do not project their own ideas onto the child. One is to listen with the whole of one’s being, emptying oneself of concepts and judgements, and hearing beyond the words. At first, the case may seem to be vague and the only information, regarding the main complaint, might be at the factual level. It proves necessary to wait patiently, while the child becomes comfortable and begins to express him/herself more freely, encouraging this by asking about daily life – habits, hobbies, etc. Meanwhile, one listens for that which does not fit; the slip of the tongue, the unguarded motion or facial expression, merely playing the words back to the child. The focus of the case is to be found in that which is repeated throughout the case: recurring words, gestures, and patterns. Gradually, the consultation becomes more active, with the homeopath asking questions about fears and dreams, two fruitful avenues for gaining insight into the child’s inner being. Many helpful tips are given for eliciting information, when it is not forthcoming. One is taught to observe in which way the child expresses fears, for instance, through projecting them onto someone else, and to continue the questioning along that line, in order to stay in touch. Drawing is encouraged and the drawings are described by the child, not interpreted by the homeopath. The child is encouraged to feel what is going on in his/her own body and possibly to draw it or talk about it in terms of how it affects him/her. The mother is also asked how the pregnancy has affected her; how she has felt differently than otherwise, since the child imprints his/her own energy onto the mother’s pattern and expresses him/herself through her. Throughout this first section of the book, clear illustrations of the various techniques are demonstrated and one can see how peculiar remedies, such as Kangaroo, that would not be found in repertories, become evident. The second section of the book gives many complete case histories; at first the children seem to be providing no information yet, with gentle and persistent nudging in the right direction, the case unfolds, seemingly by itself, and the remedy given is convincing. In one case, for instance, where some would prescribe on superficial information, such as “fear of the dark” in a child with recurrent upper respiratory tract complaints, Chauhan focuses on the more peculiar “love of his mother’s smell”, and prescribes Abelmoschus from the Malvales family, with its themes of connection and disconnection. The cases described portray children of various ages, from about eighteen months onwards. The principles of observation would apply to babies, too, though in such cases, I presume that the information would rest more strongly on the mother’s words and her situation in pregnancy.
At first glance, the advice on observation skills might seem rather basic for seasoned practitioners, but the clear step by step approach of the method allows a great depth of inquiry into children’s cases and the possibility of finding unfamiliar remedies. The application of this method requires a thorough understanding of the different kingdoms and how to recognise them, as well as a strong foundation in materia medica. One can sense the mastery behind the method; those unfamiliar with Sankaran’s work could feel daunted by this new method, or encouraged to broaden their scope by exploring the themes of the various families.
The readability of the book is somewhat lessened by an emphasis on “science” and by the use of scientific concepts, such as the laws of thermodynamics, which are not always well mastered or well demonstrated, therefore providing unconvicing conclusions. The method has no need to attach itself to scientific theories, as its brilliance stands on its own merits and demonstrates itself through its inspiring cases. The indisputable value of the book is in providing clear entrances into the inner life of our young patients, allowing the remedy to speak for itself.
A Wander with a Little Wonder By Dinesh Chauhan
Philosia Publications, 2010
268 pages, €53,50
Keywords: case witnessing method