2008 June

Cerium oxydatum: Cocoon

by Mary van der Steur
A 44-year-old Dutch woman came to me suffering from depression, allergies, eczema and asthma after recently splitting up with her boyfriend. She is a stout woman with a dark complexion and long black hair. She talks in an animated way, with an imaginative and visual use of language. She is somewhat chaotic; she often shows up late for her appointments, or forgets about them all together. Nevertheless, I always enjoy our consultations about herself or her children, because she is very perceptive, reflective and has a warm sense of humor.
She ended the relationship with her boyfriend because she didn’t feel supported by him, and she felt sexually abused by him. She had wanted to leave him for a long time, and finally felt able during a brief relationship with another man. Her boyfriend left without a word, leaving her to care for their two children, 2 and 4-years old, by herself. She felt the weight of this constant responsibility. She was left feeling friendless, although she also wants to be alone and even tends to push people away.
She has suffered from her allergies, eczema and asthma since infancy. Her worst reactions are to eggs, nuts and peanuts. When she eats these, she feels the mucous membranes of her nose and throat swelling up and her asthma worsens to the point where she feels like she is suffocating. It is like a frightening fever dream. She feels like a fish out of water. She describes how the atmosphere seems to change; it is almost like a physical barrier rising up around her like a pliable, translucent rubber wall, pulsating. It is “like an egg swelling up and smothering (her), the little chick inside.” It is so suffocating that she wonders, “Will I survive?” It also feels very dirty when this happens; like the inside of the bag of a vacuum cleaner. She “wants to crawl out, like a snake shedding its old skin.” She wants “fresh purity, like a waterfall.”

Personal history:
She attended the art academy for a few years, but didn’t complete the program. Afterwards she trained as an art therapist. It has been her dream to set up a cultural center for young people, where they can express themselves. The purpose would be for them “to speak the truth, to show their shit”. She hasn’t been able to realize this idea, mostly because she would like to crawl under her blankets and lie in bed all day. She looks at other people and wonders how they function, how they do it, “how do you step into the world?“ Her mother always said the patient was like a weight lifter—preparing for a long time before doing something; then suddenly doing it and succeeding very well. She likes to meditate and says it helps to “scrape away the shit”. She attends workshops on Shamanism and family constellations. She has always felt an outsider— “either I’m crazy and the rest of the world is normal, or the other way around”.
She describes herself as a “big mama”. She is always caring for everyone, for partners, children and also for friends; she’s ever willing to cook lots of food and have everyone stay for dinner. She constantly has her refrigerator full of food in case someone wants to stay and eat. She says, “I want everyone to love me”.
Her relationship with her mother was difficult; it was a relief to her when she died a few years ago during cardiac surgery. She felt like her mother’s heart was closed off; she felt abandoned and alone in the world. She hated her mother because she was very controlling, dominating and unpredictable. The patient’s mother had come from Indonesia and had a very difficult life herself: her mother having died when she was 8 years old, so she was raised by her father and stepmother. The patient’s mother was sexually abused by her stepbrothers, but this wasn’t believed. The patient’s father was a Dutch man, sweet and helpful. Her mother thought he was boring and was very critical of him. She was like a caged lioness and he withdrew from her critical eyes.
The patient’s relationships with men have always been tumultuous. She is attracted to strong, independent men, rebellious men who are more exciting than her father. They tended to come from dysfunctional, abusive families. She would care for them “his shit is more important than mine”. These men tended not to show compassion toward her; if she would start talking, they would think she was a “whiner”, complaining too much. She feels that these men drained her, that she has allowed them to breach her boundaries. She was always afraid they would leave her, and figured “as long as they are in my bed, they love me”. She had learned to turn off her own feelings during sex. She also used food and money to bind the men to her.

Case Analysis:
Briefly I can summarize that this is a sensitive and artistic woman, with a yearning for the truth, who struggles with the responsibility of raising her children. She does not know how to enter into the world—how to fulfill her potential. The recurrent theme is one of abuse and neglect. She suffers from depression, asthma, eczema and allergies. When she has an allergic reaction, she feels herself enveloped by a translucent wall, like a cocoon.

In the differential diagnosis I considered:
A plant remedy, because she is sensitive and adapting. I.e. Liliales with the themes of sex, dirt, and allergies.
An animal remedy, because she has strong energy, like an animal. Also the themes of sexual abuse and the poor relationship with the mother fits this.
Natrum Fluoratum, because of her mother’s secret sexual abuse.
The Silver series, because of her artistic qualities.
A Lanthanide, because she suffers allergies, which are connected to the immune system; she is sensitive, seeks self-knowledge and honesty, and is a responsible person with artistic qualities and a sense of humor.
When one considers the stages as developed by Jan Scholten, one can see some elements of stage 4: needing a long time to prepare, and not knowing how to step into the world. Stage 4 of the Lanthanides is Cerium. This is very appropriate, because the sensation of a cocoon is typical for this remedy—as described in the book on Lanthanides by Jan Scholten. Elements of stage 16 are also evident: abuse, neglect, shit, dirt, and abandonment. The Carbon series seems to fit, because her survival appears to be at stake when she has an asthma attack. Stage 16 in the Carbon series is Oxydatum. Oxydatum themes are also recognizable: abuse, neglect, “shit,” suffocation, and “whiner.”

Prescription: Cerium Oxydatum MK, once every 2 weeks.

Initially, there was quite a severe aggravation, not only of her hay fever, but also of her depression. A lot of emotional pain came to the surface and she cried a lot. She relived the pain of having a mother who was closed off and also of the (sexual) abuse she allowed. She realized she was always ready for other people, never said “no” and that she felt damaged by her ex-boyfriends.
Then she noticed that she had started locking her door at home, that she would be the one to decide who comes in. “Now I can set a boundary in my relationships without feeling closed off.” “My house is a home again.” She realized she didn’t always need to have a refrigerator full of food.
Later, it felt like she was emerging from a deep depression, crawling out of a cocoon. Standing in a hard, frightening world, naked and vulnerable, but open, strong and rooted and independent. “My pieces came together.”
She found she was sleeping much better; before she was always waking at 5 am. She no longer wonders how other people do it. She also tells me her financial situation is back under control, and her hay fever has vastly improved.

The reaction to the remedy confirms what we know of the remedy. She mentions the sense of independence that fits with all Lanthanides; she remarks how she crawls out of the cocoon that belongs to Cerium, and has overcome her difficulties stepping out into the world as described in stage 4. The Oxydatum qualities are confirmed when she relives the abuse and neglect she suffered, and when she takes steps to prevent further abuse. Also the financial theme fits Oxydatum.

Mary van der Steur

Categories: Remedies
Keywords: Cerium oxydatum, cocoon, abuse, neglect, shit, suffocation, whiner


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Posts: 3
Reply #1 on : Mon June 01, 2009, 05:40:01
Dear Mary, hope you are well. I have started incorporating Lanthanide cases and provings into the Complete Repertory. While working on the related case i missed information about the improvement of some of her physical symptoms as listed. Any more you can write about this?

take care,