Mental Illness in a Child and Homeopathy: A case study

Joseph Kellerstein, DC, ND

Seven-year-old Mary presented to my office like a cherub painted by the Renaissance artist Raphael. Rosy cheeks and golden blond hair with a smile that could melt butter. Mom, however, looked serious and had come prepared with notes.

The presenting complaints for Mary were described by her mother as “behavior and nervous habits”. As I looked up from having read through the intake form, Mom tells me that her concern for Mary is that she actually suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and she wants to help her child while she is still young.

Mom says that things need to be done in a certain way exactly all the time. Some of her concerns include:

If Mary kisses you she must be the one doing the kissing and in a very certain way.

At the dinner table everyone needs to eat in a coordinated way. Mary will say “Ready, set…eat” and we all must chew at the same time.

On falling asleep there is repeated swallowing.

She is purposely messy with food. There seems to be an enjoyment of the textures on the hand. She will often smell her fingers.

Eating can go on seemingly without a voluntary conclusion. She needs to be stopped.

Mary says she feels excitement in her stomach. Lots of emotion is felt in the stomach. Every evening in bed there are complaints of a “sick stomach”, without any vomiting and really not a clear definition.

She wets the bed every night. It seems she sleeps so deep that she does not notice. There is moaning and holding of the breath on falling asleep.

Anger is displayed in sudden extreme outbursts. In the middle of such an outburst she will tense up and stop the episode. There is a lot of tension.

Generally when she becomes angry it goes straight to yelling

There are times of indecision.

Her hands will tremble with emotion.

She does not smile a lot.

If spoken to she may not answer.

There is a past history of UTIs. Generally when sick there is a high fever. This has not been the case for 2 years.

There is a fear of spiders (strong) and a sensitivity to movies (very strong). Movies are very liable to frighten, sometimes even innocent scenes in a cartoon will cause fright and lead to nightmares.

She may have nightmares related to seeing “bad guys”.

The sensitivity to movies was very striking to me.

So I decided on Calcarea carbonica because of its preeminence in that rubric. The fears and the feeling of stubbornness that were expressed in the story seemed to confirm this. I felt good about this one. But wait a minute. According to Hahnemann in the article entitled “The Medical Observer”, we are supposed to doubt our perceptions. To be critical of ourselves so as to be truly congruent with nature.

Ok, so what’s wrong here?

Well, there is no perspiration from the head at night. There is no constipation.

Still I felt it was the best choice I had. I like very much what Hahnemann says on this topic in the Organon. When there are too few symptoms to allow for certainty in the choice of a remedy, choose the one most indicated and nature will lead you in the right direction by gradually making it more apparent as time goes on. So make your mistakes, but allow yourself to be corrected in the classroom of nature.

One month later…

She seems worse. The rituals are aggravated. “Ready, set, try”. Indecision, swallowing. The nausea is still at night and now all day as well.

The anger and frustration are still the same, but it seems to be easier to get her to stop eating.

Because the compulsion to eat was improved I was confused, and so being cautious about my own impulsive desire to switch remedies too quickly, I did nothing. (This is what my wife complains about so often).

One month later…

The coldness in the morning has stopped! (What coldness?) After some questioning, it appears there has been chill after breakfast!

Bedwetting is less. General restlessness is down 50%. Her stomach has bloated up hard (a keynote of Calcarea).

There is a new habit. Little breaths in and out through the nose.

There are still emotional outbursts (perhaps less). She will cry easily. Every day is “the worst day ever”.

The lying is less (again, I seem to have lapsed).

There are big separation issues at school.

She is urinating frequently.

There is constipation. She spends longer on the toilet and feels as if she’s not finished.

She now talks in her sleep.

There is the complaint of vaginal pain (mother is unsure of the accuracy).

Sensitive to bad smells like the smell of her own breath.

Shakes and trembles with anxiety and pokes her sister.

Mary makes a very troubling statement. She “wants to be hurt, to bleed, to get scratched, to be hit by a car.”

So it seems that between the newly acquired facts (chill after breakfast) and the desire to do oneself in along with the OCD, we now have:

So Veratrum seems quite interesting. Veratrum album 200C, one dose.

One month later…

Mary has stopped wetting the bed for the past 3 weeks now. She has had far fewer outbursts and she is much calmer. She also smiles more and there is less biting (huh?). Her appetite is under control. There have been only 2 episodes of coldness after breakfast. No complaints of vaginal discomfort.

That was about 8 months ago. Under stress there has been the need to repeat the remedy. On average, once per month or two, but improvement thus far has been continuous.

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