Case Study: A Comparison of Anthroposophic and Homeopathic Approaches to Illness
By: Peter Hinderberger, M.D., Ph.D.
Two distinct medical approaches are presented in the following case study: classical homeopathy with repertorization and anthroposophy looking at man and illness using the basic principles of the three- and four-fold nature of man, as well as the similar principle of man and plant. This case demonstrates that both methods can lead to the same remedy.
History of present illness: A 37 year old woman [DOB 10/12/50] came to my office in 5-13-88 with the chief complaints of grand mal seizures, 40 lb. overweight, and mistrust of medical doctors.
Description of seizures: ("<" = "aggravated by")
<ovulation <with menses <stress <usually come on during sleep <strobe light <anger, "when I see red" <alcoholic beverages
She describes them as "psychic seizures, probably psychosomatic". The aura goes along with numbness of tongue and hands, tunnel vision and seeing lightning bolts. She hears, but cannot just prior to the seizures. During seizures: tongue biting, rolling eyes upward, paleness, shaking, distorted face, urinary incontinence. She also screams at the onset of seizures.
The seizures started when she was 23 years old (12-73). She was married to a philosophy student when she was 18 years old. They moved from Baltimore to Ithaca, NY where her husband enrolled in a post graduate program at Cornell. At 23, her husband was a successful philosophy professor and national champion in debating. They had a 2 year old daughter, who was: "testing me, hated me and kicked me". Her husband was embarrassed with her, because she did not have a college degree. He would not take her anywhere, "so I was stuck in the house, my husband would come home and argue and argue, and I could not talk. I held my ears closed with both hands, curled up and put my head between my knees, so I wouldn't hear nor see. I was a sex object three times daily. I was stuck in the house. I wanted another baby. I felt isolated. I did not believe in God. I had no friends."
She called her father, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, after the seizures started. He asked her to come back to Baltimore, where she would receive first class treatment by his friends. She was put on Dilantin and Phenobarbital, from which she developed hallucinations and schizophrenia (6-74) wanting to have a baby with every man. Then she was given Valium and Stelazine and occasionally a straight jacket. They then tried Thorazine which put her into a three month catatonic coma with her eyes open and hands and feet twisted outward. She was given eleven ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatments. Finally all medications were discontinued and she came out of the coma (9-74). At that point she weighed 89 lb. Her hands and feet were twisted and paralyzed. She was discharged to her parents home on Haldol, Benadryl, and Synthroid. In 1975 and 1976 she had extensive orthopedic reconstructive surgery on her hands and feet. She can use her extremities normally today.
Discharge diagnosis from JHU was: Generalized recurrent clonic seizures of unknown origin.
Past Medical History:
Migraines began at age 11. "My mother had migraines." "She was only nice to me when I was sick." Tonsillectomy at 4 years of age, two concussions and recurrent earaches
One uncle and one aunt had seizures
She ran away from home with a boyfriend at 16 years. Married from 18-34 years of age. After she had her surgeries and regained her strength, she went back to her husband. Just prior to her divorce, she had another child, a girl, by him. In 1986 she met Michael, a "chronic liar" who fathered Jason. At the time of the interview she was in a relationship with a "traveling scientist". She earned some money reading palms and was on welfare.
ROS: HEENT: Extremely photophobic; she has a bedroom with all windows shut and taped with black material. The walls are painted black, too. "I like to go to bed at 2am and feel like I'm in the womb. I wake up at noon." Mind: fear of needles "I'm obnoxious" "I can't keep my mouth shut" arguing too dependent loves to be held loves to be pregnant and having little babies fear of losing psychic ability hurried critical disappointed cynical "I have a need to fill up myself, with food, babies, men" "I am very powerful, determined and intense"
In the third curative education lecture Rudolf Steiner gives us a picture of epilepsy:
The epileptic is able to dive down with his ego-organization and astral body into the physical body and ether body - that, he can do; but he does not come forth into the physical world, he is held fast within. Let us consider then how it will be if the astral body enters into the lung, and is holdfast there, cannot get out again. The astral body will remain pressed against the surface of the lung: astral body and ego-organization will be, so to speak, dammed up, congested beneath the surface of the organ. This condition then manifests outwardly as a fit. That is what fits really are. Every time a fit occurs, an inner congestion is taking place at the surface of one or another organ. These congestions are to be found, above all, in the brain. But we know how the parts of the brain are related to the other parts of the body; a congestion in the brain may be due entirely to the fact that congestion is present in the liver, or in the lung, in which case the cerebral congestion is only a projection, a feebler copy of the congestion in the bodily organ.(1)
Besides Rudolf Steiner's description of epilepsy we need to understand why this patient became ill in the first place. This will help us determine where in the physical body the astral body is "damned up", and only then can we look to nature to find the corresponding plant.
There is a theme that goes through her biography: rejection and disappointed love/inability to love. Her mother was only nice to her when the patient was sick. She ran away at age sixteen and got married at age eighteen in her restless quest for love. When the seizures started she was without friends, her husband was always away, and her two year old daughter turned against her. Her intimate relationships were unstable, and her desire to be filled up with "food, men and babies" came out of this lack and desire for love. Obviously her rhythmic system - especially her heart - needed primary healing.
Where in nature can we find a plant that "simulates " the illness picture of this patient? We need to find a plant that has a "compressed " astrality within and works primarily on the rhythmic system.
Rudolf Steiner prescribed Belladonna and or Hyoscyamus repeatedly - in cases of epilepsy.(2) The nightshade family presents itself as an ideal plant family for seizures, because of the strong astrality contained in the alkaloids and solanines. In this patient's case, her extreme desire for darkness could also point us into the direction of the solanaceae. A plant that works especially on the rhythmic system is Hyoscyamus niger. It is the mediating plant in Cardiodoron and Plantago Primula cum Hyoscyamus. It does not have a strong root system like Mandragora and does not express itself through striking blossoms. The first impression of Hyoscyamus is that of a very strong rhythmic structure: there is an abundance of leaves but contained in a well defined rhythmic order.(3,4)
Rudolf Steiner mentions that the astrality is compressed in henbane. He describes the action in this plant in the human organism as follows:
"Suppose some human being has a brain with a structure that is not properly maintained. He tends to lapse into clouded, somnolent states because his astral body is not established firmly enough in the physical body of his brain. He drinks the juice of henbane and that produces in him a firm plant form which in turn gives rise to a strong negative. And so by energizing the etheric body of his lower body and bringing into it a firm form through the taking of henbane, clearly denned thoughts may arise in a person whose brain was, so to speak, too soft, and the clouded state may pass away."(5)
Can it be that in this patient the astral body is not "firmly established" in the brain because it is held back and compressed in the heart?
Using the classical homeopathic approach by repertorizing the symptoms, Hyoscyamus comes up very strongly, too: it is listed under convulsions- without consciousness, during menses, during sleep, photophobia; involuntary urination during convulsions. Quite a few remedies are listed under these rubrics. However there are two rubrics that characterize this case perfectly: convulsions from disappointed love, and catalepsy from remitted love. Only Hyoscyamus is listed in the first, and only Hyoscyamus and Lachesis are listed in the latter rubric.(6)
Considering the hereditary disposition and the questionable compliance due to the arrhythmic lifestyle of this patient I decided to give one dose of Hyoscyamus 200C.
7-14-88 - She had two episodes of what she described "like a seizure coming on, but did not." She lost her ability to palmread, "but I feel I am further along on the spiritual path."
I see her regularly, because I see her two young children as patients. So far (as of 8-94) she has not had another seizure since the initial visit. Her lifestyle is more rhythmic, and she is more grounded. However she still has a long way to go to find the trust and love she lost.
Peter Hinderberger, M.D., Ph.D. Ruscombe Mansion 4801 Yellowwood Ave. Baltimore, MD 21215
References: 1 Rudolf Steiner: Curative Education, 3rd lecture
2 Hilma Walter: Case presentations 101,103,108,109,114,115
3 Wilhelm Pelikan: The solaniceae - HI, Journal of Anthroposophic Medicine, 5(2), Autumn 1988
4 Jochen Bockemuehl: Lebenswsammenhaenge 5 Rudolf Steiner: Die Impulsierung des Weltdeschichtlichen Geschehens durch Geistiy Maechte, 6th lecture.
6 TyIerKent: Repertory ofHomeopathic Materia Medico