2012 November

Two cases of snapping and closing down

by Laura Burr

Case 1: Boy, age 10

17 February 2011
He comes in with his father and grandparents. Previously, I have treated his 17 year old sister, who is doing well on Hepar sulphuris for cystic acne. It was she who told me of the current family situation. The children’s mother has left the family and is living with her boyfriend, and the father, sister and brother are living with the father’s parents. This is one of the reasons the boy is seeking help.

He is having difficulty with the divorce and his mom leaving, feeling abandoned by her. His sister is not required to stay at the mother’s house, since she is older; however, against his wishes, he is required to spend every other weekend with his mother.

In my office, the father does most of the talking. I observe a young boy who keeps yawning, stretching and rubbing his eyes.  He seems uncertain about being at the appointment. He is wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.

 He cracks his neck from side to side, and cracks his fingers. He says he is tired, even though his father says he gets plenty of sleep.

He hardly says a word unless spoken to.

Dad says he was on Prozac, and they did not like the result; it totally changed him, and seemed to take his personality away, so they stopped the medication. The reason for the medication was anxiety about the divorce: “He is having a hard time with things.” Dad also says the boy has ADHD. He has grown out of the hyperactivity, and now mostly finds it difficult to focus.

The boy pulls at his long eyelashes. He is round-faced, with spiky hair and a pierced ear. It almost looks like he has make-up on.

He is shy and timid, and his eyes are half open.  He twists around, cracks his neck and stretches, saying he is stiff.

The dad mentions that his son wets the bed, saying that this runs in the mother’s side of the family.

The boy is active in baseball, which his father has coached for 7 years. He has not had any serious injuries or hospitalizations. He has some ear infections from time to time in winter, as well as colds, but no pneumonia. Digestion is fine, no problem with milk. No problem with cutting teeth.

What about the anxiety?
“His father speaks: “He gets moody, ornery and ‘crabby’. He still has emotional times; it hits easily and then starts to cry. He is not too violent, he is growing out of that, bu he has a hard time at school. He gets down on himself. He wants it done the right way, his way. If it is not done right, he gets crabby and will snap at you, then he shuts down. If he is having a hard time at school, he will just shut down. He needs time to be by himself and then he will come back and join in.

I ask about the past year and his mom.
“He deals with it in his own way. Once a month, he will open up and talk about it (the boy stretches and looks away). He is pissed off at his mom and the stuff she puts us through. He gets angry and he swears, but he doesn’t throw things. It just comes out and he can’t control it. He doesn’t want to go to his mom.” The boy: “I just don’t want to see her; she argues and yells at me.” (He closes his eyes at this point.)

“He is sad and angry, mostly about family. He is not especially nervous or fearful; he just does not like to watch scary movies.” Dad says she (mother) left him and he is mad at himself.

He loves animals: dogs, cats, lizards, and snakes.

At school, everything happens so fast, it is hard for him to keep focused; he does not want to do it. He’s happier at home with his dad and grandparents.

He does not like cold weather and he is not a winter person; he stays inside and plays video games.  During the consultation he rubs his eyes, often, and at one point he raises his hooded sweatshirt and pulls it so that his whole head is inside the body of the coat.

Summer is a different story. He is out all summer, swimming and fishing. He plays baseball and is very competitive; he does not like to lose, getting mad and down on himself if the team loses a game. If it doesn’t go the way he wants, he will take it out on others, throwing down his helmet and his bat. When they win, he is proud of himself. Dad says he is fine if he is redirected and can stay focused.

Sleep and dreams?
He gets more than eight hours of sleep. He recalled one dream: on Mother’s Day, he dreamt that his Grandma died – someone shot her. He was very upset; sad and crying. He is really unhappy and depressed about the divorce, the fact that his mother left. He does not have a good relationship with her anymore. He acts up when it is time to visit her, just wanting to stay at home. He has a hard time at school.

The father does most things with his children, taking them out and doing things with them. He said that his wife hardly interacted with the children when she lived at home. She would yells at the children and verbally abuse them. She lives with her current boyfriend, and both of them smoke and drink. When the mom lived at home, she would clean and do “house stuff” and that was all.

Food cravings?
Desires fish, crab, salmon, tilapia, shrimp, eggs of all sorts (boiled, omelets), and corn. No broccoli or greens.
Music: he likes Lil’ Wayne; Bruno Mars; rap or rock.
Movies: he likes “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”.

During most of the case, the image of the snapping turtle was strong. A proving of the remedy has recently been posted on the Northwestern Academy of Homeopathy website[1]

The focus of the case is on the mother leaving, which is what the mother snapping turtle does. There is an evident animal energy in the case.

Averse to winter (reptile), swimming in lakes, loves fish, and very competitive. As well as being a cute boy, with the long eyelashes, earring, and looking almost as if made-up. All of it speaks to the attractive quality of an animal remedy.

He did not seem very snake-like, yet he did seem reptile like.

Turtles are corn-fed.

Also, with the cracking and turning the neck, it is easy to think turtle. Sinking into his sweatshirt, it looked as if he were going into his shell.

Imagine someone reaching and picking up a turtle and redirecting it, like his father redirecting him when he was upset. However, if you anger him, he will snap at you.

Here are some excerpts from the proving:

Forsaken by mother
The Chelydra female lays her eggs in the sand. The baby turtles hatch and have to make their way to water and safety as best they can. Chelydra has the theme of being forsaken, which is common to reptiles. They are very sensitive to feeling left out and left behind. They can feel ignored and forgotten. They have dreams of people ignoring them or of teachers not noticing them. They have fears that they will be “kicked out” and everyone will go on without them. They are sensitive to abandoned children. They want to care for and protect these children left defenseless by their parents.

Desire to be home
The snapping turtle lives in his home. He carries his shell and protection around with him on his back. Dreams and just normal thoughts relay the importance of home. People dreamt of being in houses, thought about their houses, noticed more in their houses and recognized the significance of home. Often, they desired to return home. Home is a place of comfort and protection. There are times when someone in this state just prefers to be alone, preferably at home.

Irritable/ Snappish
A common expression for irritability, “he snapped at me,” brings to mind the snapping turtle. In fact, the turtle becomes quite irritable and snappy, when removed from his watery habitat.

Provers experienced irritability, anger, resentment, and annoyance. They were easily offended and angered. They often felt this in response to people not meeting their expectations, or being forced to do something they did not want to do.

Prescription: Ovum Chelydra serpentina 200C, one dose - and to repeat the dose if needed.

Follow-up 5 April 2011
Father and grandparents arrive with the boy. He comes in with a Mohawk hairstyle and dyed hair.

I ask if the father wants to come into the office and the boy says: “No, I will go.” (Smiles).

During the next 30 minutes the boy talks, saying that he feels great.

He says he is behaving better and his temper is fine. He is not becoming so angry anymore. He is listening to his teachers, grandma and grandpa, and getting good marks at school. He had talked with his father about having to visit his mother, and they agree that he did not have to go, which he was happy about. He talks about his sister and how they get along. He is a happy kid, riding his bike, and loving the gatherings with his father’s extended family.

He asks me: “So, what do you think about the price of gas?”

He is really involved in current events and I ask him: “So, anything else?”

He says: “Well. How was your weekend?”

Clearly, a very charming 10-year-old kid.

After about 20 minutes he asks: “So, do you think my dad should come in here?”

From a boy who hardly said a word in the first interview, to an insightful, inquisitive kid - after the remedy. He has taken 2 doses of the remedy in the 6 week period.

The father confirms what his son has said: His grades have shot up and his teachers say that he has changed. Everyone is pleased, the boy himself, his father, his teachers, and his grandparents. He is pleased, teachers and grandparents are pleased; grandparents. Various family members make appointments.

Update October 2012
Last time I saw the boy was December 2011, and he was doing really well. His father made several phone-calls over the year, requesting repeats of the remedy, saying that his son responded to it well every time. There was a time when the boy mentioned some physical growing pains and I recommended Calcium phosphoricum.


Case 2

J.H.H. Female, aged 40

I have been seeing this patient for quite some time and she has been doing very well. She has gone from a debilitating depression to starting her own production company and is quite a successful businesswoman.

Recently, on September 6th 2012, she came to my office for a follow-up. She usually likes to come in before the light changes. She has had a history of Seasonal Affected Disorder and was on bupropion in the past to help palliate her symptoms during the dark season. She states that she has just returned from a river trip where she and her husband camped and canoed: “It was magical. The water was like an aquarium. I saw 3 or 4 turtles. The water was clear and shallow; not dangerous, no rocks or strong currents.”

Her chief issue right now is that for a few weeks some emotions have come up, which “start so slowly.” There is tension, irritability, worthlessness, and depression. This is different from her previous experience with depressive symptoms. “It just crept and crept and crept. Eleven to twelve days of hell.”

She took a dose of her current remedy: Hypericum 1M

“It took the edges off, and I felt support; so subtle. I’m still having anxiety, though, and heaviness in the chest.” A lot of the anxiety revolves around the project she is working on. As the project manager, she is feeling “bullied and becomes snappish.” It is a sustained, persistent stress. She gets heartburn. She puts things in a “rigid pattern” with an “idea of how things go” and, if the plans deviate, “it pisses me off.” She is “angry and anxious”, “overwhelmed with anxiety”, and easily startled by noise. She grinds her teeth at night. People… “pick, pick, pick on me.” She gets “snappy” and snaps back at the people she is working with on the project; “Don’t push me and don’t push me around.”

As for physical symptoms, she is having some stuck spots in her back, pain and strain, for which she sees her chiropractor.

I ask about her recent trip again. “It was enchanting. The rocks, the feel of the water; I could just watch the water. I would dissect the environment. It felt so good to be in the water; it felt safe. Fish would get out of my way. I don’t really like rivers, I usually like lakes.”

I ask if she swam a lot as a child. “Oh, yes! Every day in the summer – for about 10 hours – I would swim in the tributaries. It was such a pleasure.”

She mentions being bullied as a child and getting stomach aches before school. Lately, she is having dreams of being busy and of struggles. She is sleeping, but not deeply.

It is not hard to think of the snapping turtle here: being so snappish and bullied, the slow onset of symptoms, the love of water and swimming, and  the aquarium. The idea of using Ovum chelydra serpentina for Seasonal Affected Disorder is appealing, since turtles hibernate. Lastly, this is a woman who has chosen to never have children. The snapping turtle abandons its eggs once they are laid.

Prescription: Ovum chelydra serpentina 1M

I had a follow-up with this client on October 3rd, 2012, a little earlier than scheduled because of an upcoming surprise trip to Italy. “After I took the remedy, I thought my ovaries were throbbing and pulsing. I had some stomach problems and a couple of days of being really tired.” She had some cold symptoms, (runny nose for two days) which subsequently resolved, while her husband’s cold is still lingering on.

Amazing, good stuff. I feel confident, centered, and comfortable taking risks. "She rode her horse in what is typically a scary area of the trail; usually she takes lorazepam before she rides, but this time she did not and everything was fine. Her most recent project after taking the remedy has been going well: “No problems. I just did it. It was a positive work experience.”

So, things seem to be back on track for her now and we will follow-up again in 6 weeks.

Laura Burr lives and practices in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Common snapping turtle; Willy Logan

[1] http://www.homeovista.org/provings/html/chelydra_proving.html

Keywords: abandonment, timidity, closing off, protection, anger, snapping turtle
Remedies: Ovum chelydra serpentina


Write a comment

  • Required fields are marked with *.