2009 March

Heteractis malu; The Sea Anemone: Exposed and vulnerable, must protect by withdrawal inward

by Marty Begin
In April of 08, a 33 year old male, husband and father of a toddler, who worked long hours in TV and radio production, told me of his irritable bowel complaints, which were at first being caused by stress, as is typical, but then had begun to worsen to the point of him feeling very emotional in a bitter and defensive way, then sad, after a painful flair up. With the help of a psychologist he tried to get in touch with his gut, and he had “the image of a cowering boy, that needed my protection.” He also said of the experience, “I didn’t like the idea of talking about myself, it just dredged things up”

His last flair up involved not feeling enough confidence to meet the pressure and deadlines of his job, feeling like an imposter in his work, and he further tells: “I feel my guts when things are out of balance and stressful, last time, it involved a contract and a (co-worker) becoming not nice, and it hit me directly in my stomach, I get cramps, have to go 10X a day, really gassy, its not the best version of me, it was knocking down my confidence, nothing was really balanced.” His first flair up was triggered by bacon and stress. A “not nice” coworker on the production of a “reality” TV show our patient worked on, would exploit the real-life participants, and thus create real problems for them. In one case he felt like he was becoming this woman participant’s “protector” even when she was naïve about what was happening to her. There were other shows too, he worked on, that he couldn’t ethically agree with, and he’d feel bad for leaving his family life to go on set at a distance from his son and wife he felt he should be there for. These situations are “the perfect storm” to cause a bad episode, and he described it as “pretty deadening”.

He is very protective of his 2 year old son, “over-parenting” him and diligently keeping him away from other raucous children. He hates conflict, will ceaselessly mentally correct even potential conflict while he restlessly tries to sleep, or anytime. He grinds his teeth at night, and has a nervous eye twitch. He says. “I’m in my head and drag my body along”

He talks about how he puts others needs in front of his, saying, “My approach is to give into you even if I don’t agree with it, or I don’t want to behave that way because it’s easier for me to make you happy, more than anything, its a way out of that conflict…”

He also went to the psychotherapist and then to me because of his reactions to conflict with his wife when he would fear she would leave him: “…we have a fight and my subconscious mind feels she’s going to leave, then I want to protect my belly.” He traced this to his childhood when his parents would fight and he’d want to “disappear” and he got the “image of a little kid hiding behind a rock”.

While he’s holding his guts he goes on describing the sensation: “Its connected right there, and gets occasionally manifested. Something like hollow and heavy at the same time. As I talk about it I cover it, but when I don’t cover it there’s a vulnerability. Exposed.” I ask what do you protect that kid from? And he says, “Somehow emotionally (my wife) kicks my ass, but I tend to close up and not let people in, that putting up a wall. It builds up unconsciously, seeps in to how I interact and that makes it more uncomfortable, its petty, but dire for me the way I’m approaching it…”

He had a recurring dream of losing his shoes when he really needed them, and a nightmare when he was very young of being in some sort of Alice and Wonderland scene where a bunny was getting his skin getting taken off, the image still very clear in his mind.


I got a fast start on this case by remembering another case I consulted on for a student homeopath whose patient went quite deep into her levels of sensation (Sankaran method) including her recollection of the Stevens-Johnson syndrome she had as a kid, a Staph condition where outer layers of the skin fall off. Her confluence between body and mind had to do with being exposed, in the context of not wanting to expose herself as an individual but rather wanting to be a part of a community, a repeating unit or cycle, finishing the analogy by mentioning the sea anemone. The bunny dream and exposure element in my case reminded me of this former case, which I had suggested giving sea anemone to. Unfortunately, that case wasn’t followed through and therefore wasn’t so reliable, but I found many other commonalities with my case and wasn’t going to dismiss the correlations just yet.

Then I studied Cynthia Shepard’s proving of Anthopleura xanthogrammica, the giant green (sea) anemone. She says the anemone family of invertebrates named the Cyndarians which were the Coelenterata (Gr. for hollow intestine) have but a single body cavity, which serve to provide digestive, excretory and respiratory functions. When they are exposed to air for a reasonable time period, they adapt by withdrawing their tentacles and contracting their columns, which reduces the surface area exposed to evaporation.

This idea of withdrawal is seen in different ways in the proving, for instance one prover said, “I feel at a much lower level as a person. My thinking, emotions and intuitiveness is not coming to the surface” Another prover reported this feeling: “Insulated from others on outside, in own world on inside, numbed, a wall between” This wall between thinking and feeling or sensing and no senses was expressed elsewhere: “…I like to sense, feel and be 100% where I am, and now that's taken away (by a numbness taking over part of his brain), there's no way you can "be."

Especially tropical sea anemones often have symbiotic relationships with algae and certain fish, like the clown fish for instance. These fish will be protected from predators by the fish-eating anemone because they can avoid its neurotoxic tentacles just enough to build immunity to the poison, can take advantage of the leftovers, and in turn clean up the anemone’s dead tentacles.

I wanted to give him an anemone that would be symbiotic with fish so that the element of protection was included, quite strong in his case. The remedy I had available demonstrated some of that behavior, so I started with it, a 200C of Heteractis malu, repeated once in 2 weeks after the first dose.

Follow Up after 6 weeks

My patient starts:

“A couple days after the remedy I saw the film Finding Neemo, the clown fish having to be protective of his son, …all about a journey to life outside the coral reef…and then at some point I recognized that one of the characters in the reef was a sea anemone…

The most exceptional thing was when I was taking the remedy there was this feeling of clarity that lasted a week, I could focus on things, my head was less cloudy, I had this precise focus on everything and felt a lot lighter which I continue to feel. I recognize work problems but don’t internalize.

My stomach has also been better. Looking at what would cause me to flair up, which was stress related, I’m not internalizing it, so it hasn’t set off the other chain of events….

The environment has been OK, but things within that, which would normally bother me aren’t. My mind at night isn’t going around, problems don’t become me, before these flair ups would get obsessive for me, weigh on my mind at all points. In that first wonderful week less face tension, has come back a little.

…. There’s still ridiculous corporate things gong on but it doesn’t bug me the way it used to, I can put it away, and there’s something liberating about being able to intellectualize it but not internalize it….

I want my son to be safe, not be around hostility, and I’d react to kids on the playground who were being obnoxious, its probably related to when my parents were divorcing and me witnessing them yelling, so I’ve always been cautious about exposing (my son) to arguments. The other night (my wife) and I got in an argument and he was in the back of the car, and I hardly noticed he was there. And he asked me why I was angry. It didn’t affect me...I didn’t really feel so concerned, I felt less sensitive, and more passive than I thought I would. I felt… I’m doing the right thing as opposed to something I have no choice but to do.

And after the argument I didn’t feel insecure about the relationship. I put (my son) to bed, and we never resolved it until the next day, and then I thought we’ll talk about this later and it’ll be OK, before my head would have went to figuring out our divorce plan, but I just didn’t.

I feel more confident, and less protective of the work I do, I’m more open to the criticism I get, everything can be made better, so I’m probably more open to changing everything if that’s what it requires….”

I was impressed with the result, and found his watching of the Disney animated movie Finding Neemo a nice bit of synchronicity. It made me want to give him an anemone that protected clown fish. I ended up giving him the same remedy however in a 1M, (Heteractis malu) but I ordered Stoichactis kenti, a favorite amongst clown fish.

Later Follow Ups

I’ve now been seeing this patient for 9 months and he’s done very well in every way. He’s gone through and continues to go through a big shift. I did change the remedy to Stoichactis kenti after the third follow up, and he had some very pertinent dreams and a good response. In general he remains less protective, letting go of what he can’t do for his son, or other harming inequities he has no control over, and is dealing with conflict very well, “getting it out”. He is definitely integrating his body and mind, which remains quiet for the most part. His confidence has improved a lot, not taking things as personally and thinking of himself more.

Summary of Sea Anemone

Considering the case consult I drew from, the proving, and my case, I would say the most important points of the sea anemone are as follows:

The contact and integrity of community
Integrity of body and mind,
Single body cavity
Trying to control the body with the mind, but losing control, and then the body threatens to disintegrate leaving an exposure that must be protected, so it must withdraw, close up and disappear or deaden
Mind needs to come out to the surface
Hunger to integrate, need for nourishment if there’s disintegration
Mutual protection
Spare the protector
Algae or clown fish symbiosis
Hollow and heavy
Seeping in, absorbing, need protection
Survival, nourishment, safety and comfort in integrity
Survival dependent on tactile stimulation
Sensing and feeling: all or nothing
Unfair situations, discords
My needs, your needs/ effort, no effort

Marty Begin mbegin2@netzero.com

Categories: Remedies
Keywords: sea anemone, exposed, protect, withdraw, irritable bowel disease, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Heteractis malu, Stoichactis kenti


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Posts: 6
Reply #2 on : Mon May 12, 2014, 17:00:30


Posts: 6
sea anemone and nasal polyp
Reply #1 on : Sun April 08, 2012, 10:52:52
Did any one ever find a relation betweeen the sea anemone and the nasal polyp? They seem so a like!