Healing with Homeopathy: A Woman with Episodic Paranoid Schizophrenia

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Healing with Homeopathy: A Woman with Episodic Paranoid Schizophrenia

Gwen had been a patient in our clinic for the past eight years and also previously during Judyth's stint as a naturopathic student in the Bastyr Clinic. Having treated her for nearly ten years, we thought we understood Gwen quite well. Following our month-long training in Bombay with Rajan Sankaran, we were able to view Gwen in a new light and to select a much more effective remedy for her.

Gwen, a kindergarten teacher, first sought treatment for her recurrent headaches. She also suffered from urinary incontinence, muscle twitching and considerable flatulence. She had a history of cystitis early in her marriage with infrequent recurrences in recent years. She had always described herself as a passive person who avoided confrontations and went out of her way to please others. Gwen was meek and did not stand up for her ideas. She told us that she repressed a lot of feelings and had never been an outwardly angry person. She felt that she had an even temperament. "I'm an eel. I move around things. If one thing doesn't work, I'll try another." She had always followed her husband's decisions and choices.

Gwen had a good childhood. Her father never expressed his emotions much. There was never any tension between her parents. She was always introspective and deep. She was a good child, and both as a child and an adult, she always did what was expected of her.

From 1986 to 1989 we treated Gwen with Staphysagria (stavesacre) with considerable success. Her incontinence, muscle twitching, cystitis and headaches were much better over that period of time. Subsequently, even though she had a retiring personality, Gwen benefited from infrequent doses of Phosphorus over the next four years. We switched to Phosphorus because Staphysagria no longer helped her. In January of 1990, Gwen's complaints shifted to chronic hoarseness, throat clearing and severe, violent belching with gastric reflux, which was ameliorated by drinking.

Then a very curious thing happened. We hadn't heard from Gwen for a year. She returned in July of 1993, now 56 years old, and said, "I think I need more Phosphorus." She explained that she had some dental work done the previous fall which "shook her up." "I had an acute psychotic episode in February. It pushed me into another reality. I wasn't cooking on all burners. I'm seeing a psychiatrist and he has me on Stelazine. He encouraged me to come back and see you.

"I'm having certain problems at the school where I teach. I don't have very good boundaries (2). People's stuff sticks to me (2). I pick up people's stuff, say too much, give too much. Because I contain so much and I live a quiet, inward life, I don't have many outlets for my social life. I'm afraid I'll contribute too much, be too self-disclosing.

"I had a dream about a really solid foundation of floor which needed a fire to keep it going. The plywood walls were separating from the solid tongue and groove floor."

Listening to Gwen speak, it was apparent that she was very hoarse again. She also complained of terrible headaches before and after the psychotic break. "The past few weeks they've been terrible...excruciating pains in the head and neck."

We asked her more about her recent experience. "I work with a 300 lb. Asian woman. She's as superficial as I am deep. She's the maternal archetype. I try to withdraw from her. She demeaned me. I was terrified. My principal also started teasing me. They seemed to work together to make things hard for me, to cut me off from my job satisfaction and effectiveness. It caused me to feel more terror."

Her mouth was completely dry for a whole month. She felt adrenaline rushes and found it hard to focus her mind. She had unquenchable thirst and drank copious amounts of water, but she rarely urinated. She had night sweats, which were very unusual for Gwen.

"People at work gave me false work to do. I had a frustrating computer experience where nothing worked. I thought that was deliberate. I thought they were saying `they have a special machine for you.' I thought the FBI was after me, that my daughters were framed for using drugs. It was like the Karen Silkwood story. I thought people might plant drugs on us. I was in utter agony. I couldn't go out in crowds. I thought people were watching me. It was hard to go out in public, to the grocery store. I thought my house was bugged so I started writing notes to my husband. I felt demeaned, diminished. I felt that I had to adapt to things that I couldn't adapt to. My line was crossed, my ethics. The meaning of my job was threatened. Now it all seems terribly egotistical."

Stelazine had broken that train of thought. She stayed on it for one month. Gwen had been on and off medical leave from school for six weeks.

During the year in which she had not come for homeopathy her incontinence, belching and hoarseness had returned. She now desired salty food (2) and fruit (2).

At that visit, we gave her one dose of Phosphorus 30C. Gwen had benefited from Phosphorus during the several years previously. Her hoarseness, her difficulty with boundaries and extreme thirst, all pointed to Phosphorus, which previously had clearly helped her.

We saw Gwen five weeks later. "I'm doing really good. I experienced some light, brief replays of the break. The headaches and neck and shoulder pain passed. The whole experience is opening up in my dreams." She had an aggravation of canker sores after the remedy. Her belching was also a lot better. Her incontinence variable. She reported that her boundary issues were improving. She appeared very happy.

Treating Gwen around the time of her psychotic episode was particularly interesting to us. For one thing, Gwen is very intelligent, articulate and self-aware. She was able to describe her experience of paranoia in an unusually clear way. Secondly, prior to becoming naturopaths and homeopaths, we both did considerable work with schizophrenic patients. It was our desire to find a gentler, more effective alternative to psychotropic medications that led us to become homeopaths. Gwen's was the third case of schizophrenia in which we have found homeopathy to produce a lasting cure.

Gwen came back to see us two months later. The incontinence (2) had gotten worse. "I'm really standing up for myself. I'm having sharp pains in my head (2). A sense of fullness (2) which wipes out my concentration. I space out when I have the headaches (2). I'm having some upper back tremors (2) and twitches (2). I'm having some muscle cramps in my legs (1). The belching and gas are gone." She had just completed a 60 mile backpacking trip.

She had a dream of being told to wash her boss's dirty dishes. "It was a mountain of dishes. I didn't do them either in the dream or at the office the next day." We decided to give Gwen a dose of Phosphorus 200C.

At her visit two months later, she reported having had a tough two months. "The past ten days I've felt terror and anxiety triggered by certain little things at my office. I was thinking too much that others were thinking about me. I'm just real sensitive to what everyone has on their plates. Everybody's under stress. I want to make sure they don't have to carry me, too...I want to please people if I can." When asked about injustice, Gwen told us that it was very hard for her. "I get really upset about the U.S. robbing the indigenous people. This came on during my break. I cried for the indigenous people." Due to her strong concern for injustice, plus her history of hoarseness, incontinence, twitches, warts and skin tags, we prescribed Causticum 30C. We were about to leave for Bombay to spend a month studying with Rajan Sankaran and colleagues and also gave her a dose of Causticum 200C to take if needed during our absence.

We next saw Gwen seven weeks later. She had taken the Causticum 200C six weeks before. She experienced another mild psychotic episode which kept her home from work for three days. She had again been on Stelazine for the past month. Having just spent a solid month learning how to delve into the core state of illness, we interviewed Gwen in depth to see if we could find another remedy which might be her simillimum.

"I have a recurring dream of being in New Mexico in a house that I built. I have many dreams of houses (3). Some have beautiful rooms...too expensive to buy. There's room for everything and everyone. Or our apartment suddenly becomes larger. I recently had a horrific dream. A gangster type and a woman were in the room. He seemed to have power over her. There was a dead body in the room. The eyes have been cut out. The face is unrecognizable. A long arm reaches up. A mutilated man has a knife. He stabs the gangster. There's blood. I also have other dreams about a little girl in a frilly dress."

We asked Gwen what she felt was her core issue throughout her life. "It's being the victim, the outcast (3). Separation from my family(3). I was the outcast, the black sheep, the scapegoat, the schoolyard victim. I was generally not popular or pretty. It's more of a feeling of not being part of the group (3). We moved a lot. I envied the people who had friends.

"I was rejected by my parents. My husband and I were in the counter culture. They rejected us when we moved to intentional communities and especially when we moved to Alaska. My parents were conservative Republicans. They would talk to us like children. They wouldn't talk about anything we were doing in our lives. All of my adult life I have gotten weary of being against so many things, so I haven't been so courageous anymore. I was a Quaker.

"Last spring, during my psychotic break, I had a terror that I was being framed, imprisoned, condemned for being who I was. I felt more and more threatened because of the outer differences. Suddenly I couldn't do my yoga anymore. I still feel on the outside in terms of rock bottom attitudes and feelings. We don't watch T.V. so I don't keep up on the news. I don't know the current music anymore. I don't know who the current actors are. I feel very out of the mainstream. It should be okay but I lost my courage (3). I withdrew more and more in order to give others the forefront. Now I have my courage, self-respect and dignity back.

"My main issue is not being part of the group...feeling like an outcast. I became sensitive to being shunned, excluded, not doing my job well. The hardest thing in my whole life was the parental rejection and not being able to transcend it. My parents live far away. I haven't seen them for many years, I have felt terribly guilty that I couldn't give them what they wanted. You know, I'm a people pleaser. I write them regularly. We didn't have a phone for 2 1/2 years because my husband wanted a contemplative lifestyle. I didn't really want the phone cut off. It was hard for my daughters."

We were impressed by how much more we learned about Gwen through this line of questioning. She was a patient we had known for years, but some of this key information was new to us. We felt that the two key rubrics were "Mind; Delusion; that he is persecuted", "Mind; Delusion; that he is accused." We confirmed the remedy which we selected by Gwen's muscle twitches in her legs on lying down at night. This was a symptom which she mentioned only once when she came back for treatment in the fall of 1986 and is probably the most well-known keynote of the remedy which we gave her. We felt that Gwen's paranoia and persecuted feelings stemmed from her long history of feeling excluded, like an outcast. She felt cut off.

We gave Gwen Zincum metallicum 30C to take every two days. We also considered Hura braziliensis because of her feeling of being shunned. Sankaran, in The Substance of Homeopathy, describes Zincum as having similar feelings to Cuprum, the remedy next to it on the periodic table. Both have the feeling of being attacked. Other rubrics which apply to Zincum are "Delusion; thinks she is about to be arrested," "Delusion; thinks she is to be murdered," "Delusion; pursued by police or enemies," and "Escape, attempts to, is restrained with difficulty." Sankaran describes the person needing Zincum as having a constant anxiety that someone is behind him, which causes a constant restlessness manifested most often by a restlessness of the lower limbs.

Gwen's progress over the past nine months, since she began taking Zincum, has been remarkable. It has shown us the difference between giving remedies that are close (similia) and the one best remedy (simillimum).

At her follow-up visit five weeks after beginning the Zincum, Gwen gave the following report. "I think I'm doing quite well. I'm generally stronger. More mentally together. I am more willing to be courageous...to be myself again. I am a more solid person since the remedy...I had a collapse from 30 years of being different. Last week I read some of my poetry in public. It was a little scary, but went well. I'm creating more poems. I seem to be more in touch with where the poems live. I think I might be able to do more drawing again." She was still on 0.5 mg Stelazine b.i.d., "the lowest possible dose. I haven't taken any the past three days."

The incontinence was terrible. Her psychiatrist thought it was aggravated by the Stelazine. "I've had more pains here and there since the remedy. Some night headaches like I had in the past, but they aren't bad. I feel more connected spiritually. I can pray again since the remedy. It's something I've really longed for. I am more in touch with my spirit and integrity. I'm going out more to art museums and galleries. I'm more willing to help my partner by being who I am."

She'd had some new dreams. "Nature healing dreams. A reconnection. I'm in a cave with gems and there's water flowing into the cave. I had a dream two nights ago that my daughters had surreptitiously arranged a family reunion. My mother told me she loved me. I was skeptical."

We all agreed that Gwen was much improved. We suggested that she spread out her dosage to Zincum 30C once every three days. We felt that Gwen's expression of creativity signified a very positive turning point.

Gwen called two weeks later to say that she was off her Stelazine. We saw her again seven weeks later. "I'm basically good. Really good. I've been really centered, really focused at the office...handling a million details. Before I couldn't keep the thread together. I gave a poetry reading. One of my poems was published recently. I seem to be in touch with the muse. I don't know how to talk about it, but I'm letting so much into my life. Making room to carry it is a challenge. I used to resist or wall off things. I notice now that's what I'm doing and I make room for it instead. I'm doing work in English mythology, my heritage. I'm not putting myself down. I'm accepting myself. I'm doing a lot of feminine stuff." The incontinence had gradually improved and was now markedly better. "My dreams are harder and harder to pull into consciousness and remember. Do you know that zinc is a bonder of different metals? My psychiatrist believes in homeopathy now."

Two months later Gwen was still doing very well. She was preparing for a two-week backpacking trip. She had climbed 90 flights of stairs every day in preparation. "I'm having a lot of anxious dreams about getting ready for the trip. It's a very dry dream time." We continued the Zincum 30C every three days and gave her a dose of Zincum 200C to hold in the unlikely case that the 30C dose would stop working while she was out backpacking.

We last saw her six weeks ago. She had a wonderful trip. "I'm still doing really, really well. About two weeks ago I was dealing with some fears and I took the Zincum 200C. It really helped my mental clarity. Work's been extremely busy-nonstop and breathless. I can do it very well. I feel really good about being able to do it. All the pieces are fitting together. I'm painting again. [Gwen showed us two extremely beautiful oil paintings of the mountains which she had recently completed.] The past few weeks my mental thought processes and creativity are returning and work isn't draining me anymore. I have more energy for creative evenings and weekends. My artist's eye is coming back.

"I dreamt that my husband and I adopted a four year-old girl and an aviary of birds. I nurtured her in the dream." At this point we did not prescribe because she was doing so well. She will return in two months.

This is one of our most satisfying and heartwarming cases. Gwen's creativity and mental abilities have been reborn. She is experiencing a deep healing and inner acceptance of what she had always considered unacceptable about herself. How much more satisfying it is for us to see such profound healing compared to the robot-like placidity and flat affect which we used to see so often in psychotropically-medicated schizophrenic patients. Gwen's case reminds us very clearly why we find homeopathy so gratifying.

Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients.

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By Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman

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