There was certainly something seriously wrong with this little three year old girl. B. was sullen, easily offended, obstinate, envious, clingy, and she seemed to have no desire to live. She had a poor appetite and was consequently emaciated and had low energy. She was chilly and suffered from constipation and retention of urine.
At first, it was not clear what had brought on this emotional state until the mother told me, hand on doorknob style, what had happened during the last two weeks of her pregnancy with B. a close acquaintance, who she saw every day, had committed suicide after killing her husband and then her children with a kitchen knife; a terrible case of post-partum depression of a stay-at -home mother gone terribly wrong. B’s mother cried uncontrollably and inconsolably for the last two weeks of the pregnancy. The suicide/homicide was an enormous shock for the whole country at that time, let alone for the people close to it. B’s problems became evident almost as soon as she was born: she screamed ceaselessly if she was not being held safe and sound in her mother’s arms. Three years later, little B. still seemed to be stuck in that state of shock and grief. Her mother described her as “disconnected, in her own world.” She did not want to go to kindergarten, becoming angry and sullen if told to do so. At the kindergarten, she stayed at the edge of the playground rather than interacting with her peers. If asked to do anything that she did not want to, she would stand and glare at her parents, and if that did not elicit the right response, she would have tantrums. She was jealous of her sister and would even bite her in the back. She would threaten to break things that she knew were dear to someone, or say “I want to kill you”, or “I want you to die.” B’s mother said that she would then have a hard, stony look on her face. At one point, it even seemed that she had tried to drown herself; she was found floating face down in the swimming pool, with her mother and sister close at hand, while her mother briefly busied herself with her other daughter. (Ignatia: “Suicidal thoughts (drowning) and desire to escape; in melancholia after great grief and much domestic trouble.”)
Many things pointed to Ignatia as the remedy of choice for B. “Biting in the back” seemed to be a rare, strange, and peculiar behaviour. Ignatia is the only known remedy in the literature, which covers that symptom. She had a pronounced fear of birds, especially of chickens, for which Ignatia is also known. Ignatia is noted for some eating disorders in Farok J. Master’s “Children’s Remedies”: “Bulemia when sad, or anorexia nervosa due to grief.” The mother’s state during the pregnancy was obviously a most shocking experience for the unborn child. Master points out in “State of the Mind Influencing the Foetus” (1999, B. Jain Publishers) “Transmission of the artificial state takes place under (the) following circumstances: 1: Prolongation of the exciting cause which ultimately continues. 2: Transmission of the mother’s state during pregnancy to the unborn child.” With the latter, “one has to determine in what month of pregnancy the state develops.” Lou Klein has stated in his Master Clinician Course, Year Two, Session one (2009, Toronto, Canada), that some of the most influential times which can affect the foetus are at the time of conception, during the first trimester, the last two weeks before birth, and the birth itself. The Ignatia state that was transmitted to B. during the last two weeks of pregnancy is worded well in Farok Master’s “Clinical Observations of Children’s Remedies (3rd edition, 2006, Rene Otter, Lutra Services BV): Ailments from being offended, punished or reproached... confronting the death of near and dear ones (grandparents, parents, or friends); contradiction...emotions like fright, indignation, jealousy, or mortification; failure.”
This was a case of both fright and shock, being confronted with the results of the most horribly gruesome deaths, via the mother’s experience. Six months after B.’s birth the mother had not only had to contend with the terrible loss of her friend, but had also had to prevent her own mother from taking her life with a kitchen knife. She stood, baby in her arms, pleading with her depressed mother to not take her life in front of the baby. It later seemed that the grandmother’s state, with her epileptic spasms and her obsession with knives, also fitted the Ignatia picture.
Little by little, with various potencies of Ignatia, her behaviour started to change dramatically. She no longer talked of death or threatened to kill herself over tiny incidents. She began to take an interest in her school related activities and showed a desire to learn to read. Her concentration improved markedly and she was less likely to draw attention with her clingy behaviour. Her eating and sleeping improved and her stools and urination normalised – in the past she had had to be urged to urinate before and after school. Within a week she began to gain weight and she was less chilly. She was more calm and comfortable at school and generally more communicative. She began to play with dolls for the first time, having never shown an interest in dolls or babies before. She even talked about “When we have our baby.” The potency was increased after a period of regression, back to the former tantrums. After this, the tantrums ceased and it was as though a new child has been born: bright, sparkly, and sociable, where there was once a serious frowning little girl.
As a relatively new practitioner, I feel truly blessed to have had this experience, as it lays the base for my future practice, helping me to integrate my views and ideas with my philosophy and spirituality.
Keywords: trauma in utero, no desire to live, poor appetite, fright, shock
Remedies: Ignatia amara