Arsenicum Album: A Patient’s Perspective

 Riley Coules
December 11, 2016

(This piece is rather old).

 

The initial portion of any homeopathic regimen will feature a confounded picture of the various mentalities associated with each layer of illness, especially when the disease process has progressed considerably. The dismantling of these layers one by one will present the need for new remedies concomitant with any symptoms that emerge; similarly, those symptoms that have been eradicated can be correlated to the works of previous remedies. I have particularly enjoyed dissecting the different facets of my mental state throughout treatment as it has given me the chance to make sense of those that contributed to how lost I was. Here I will explicate my findings regarding the inner workings of the Arsenicum Album psychology, as well as how the impressions of other remedies involved in my journey restored my identity.

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It is important to understand that the qualities I mention below will not apply to all Arsenicums, as is the case with any constitutional picture; the “interwoven complex” of the disease process imbues the psyche with variation in expression in terms of the remedy types that comprise it. The complex of behaviors that characterize an individual owes itself to the way in which various essences exacerbate or pacify one another, as well as how severely they are expressed. An acute ailment will typically affect the mind less than one that has subjugated the vital force for years (perhaps due to miasms); similarly, the extent to which a chronic ailment has taken place, as well as how well the vital force has resisted the progression of indisposition, will determine how significantly the personality has been altered. Even further, the propensity of one to overcome their lesser qualities will modify the expression of the lower self; the moral compass is an entirely separate facet of the being that no remedy can speak to, even as certain types identify with spiritual and/or philosophical ideology more than others. 

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THE PROGRESSION OF DISEASE

I became sick with an acute ailment at age 14, at which time Arsenicum, and perhaps Phosphorus would have cured me (I also would not have just spent the last two years of my life utterly debilitated, a homeopathy supporter by default– so is the case with a society dominated by allopathic medicine). During the initial phase of my illness, I regurgitated the Mexican food I had eaten the night before, lost my appetite, fainted a few times, and embodied some of the typical characteristics associated with Arsenicum (fear, fret, worry); my complaints lasted for about a week and a half before I began to recover. I don’t remember my personality being that “off” at the time beyond my obvious preoccupation with my present state, but I did change after the event ceased. The effects of an acute ailment, one powerful enough to permanently disorder bodily processes, morphed into a chronic condition, due to which my warped identity could be treated in part by Ignatia, a remedy often used for loss– whether that be loss of a loved one, a former lifestyle, or the sense of self. Interestingly, some of the mentalities associated with any collection of constitutions may utterly oppose one another in an individual, leading to conflicts within the personality. For example, Arsenicum seeks restless fulfillment, while Ignatia cannot be motivated; contradictory, forcible behavior results, such as my disposition to write when I don’t feel like doing so (which only produces poor-quality work I later edit anyway).

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Fast forward a few years and I never regained my appetite fully (although I didn’t think much of it; I remember wondering how some girls could eat so much when I got full off of little despite my activity level, but that was about it), I craved sweets like there was no tomorrow, I maintained a little pudge, and I was absolutely more irritable. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that most of our vital forces have been thrown off at some point our lives (think of all the people that can’t lose weight even when they eat very well, who feel chronically fatigued and fight it with stimulants, who crave foods their bodies don’t want, who suffer from insomnia, chronic constipation/indigestion/upset tummies or other GI complaints, who are hooked on medication touted to properly treat their depression/anxiety/mood disorders, who constantly feel as if they are fighting something [quite often negativity]; these are signs of a disharmonized vital force people!!), but we never do anything to restore equilibrium because we have fallen victim to the profit-oriented motives of the pharmaceutical industry. We’re told we’re unfixable, our disorders destined to afflict us the rest of our lives, a consequent reliance on external sources to function (or malfunction) necessary; as a result, many of us quietly go about our lives suffering from urges (i.e., tendencies unsatisfactory to the soul) that may not otherwise exist had our personalities not been altered at some point in the past. All the while, nature patiently waits for us to evolve beyond what we have been lead to believe connotes evolution, for The Soul to overturn evil, for the majority as opposed to the relative few to rightfully claim what has been bestowed upon the suffering: self-actualized welfare, both by our own accord through the manifestation of the morale we aspire to hold as well as with the aid of mechanisms put on this earth to guide us through turmoil. We have not been left defenseless, and don’t you believe it for a second!!

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I feel like I’ve uncovered the key to life, the key to happiness, the key to spirituality and vitality– and all I had to do was get low enough to explore a final resort, a premise all too common with those who seek the advice of a homeopath. I could never have imagined how much I could change, how much better I could be, both due to the growth I actuated for myself throughout my journey as well as the restoration of my entire being, a state that precedes even high school. Despite the severity of what I’ve gone through over the past few years, I was not tormented in my younger years, nor was I debilitated. In fact, I was very active, I played soccer, I ran near-half marathons every other day, I was stable, and I felt strong. But the irritability following my initial bout of the stomach bug– or whatever it was– remained, and it impacted how I treated my family. I learned to grow past my frustrations, but they were certainly there, and because I didn’t realize a less-than-optimal digestive system exacerbated my negativity, I treated my heightened lower self as intrinsic. This scenario reveals the only benefit of a society ignorant to the curative effects of homeopathy: we grow past our amplified lesser traits until they no longer remain facets of our personality because we don’t know an alternative exists.

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Due to the fact that I began my treatment at such an exaggerated Arsenicum state, in which all qualities associated with this remedy expressed themselves heavily in my mind, I am now able to pick up on certain thought processes that just aren’t there when I feel well– the function of the veiled lower self (and The Growing Tolerance Phenomena). Sensitivity to external stimuli has been a major player in my journey toward whole-fulfillment. My response to irritants, even following the initial blow to my vitality back in high school, used to feature a heavy dose of criticism as well as the reflection, “what is wrong with this situation?“; when I vowed to stop letting my negativity affect those I love, I modified this phrase into, “what is wrong with my perception of this situation?“. My inner monologue both exemplifies and defies the classic Arsenicum outlook: things are what they are, and Arsenicum is inclined to feed into the “realities” of present circumstances, which is why objectively contriving my reality has been so central to my growth. Because Arsenicums are so critical, any “wrong” associated with a specific scenario quite often ends up being something or someone other than them. And if the fault is theirs? Well, they beat themselves up more than they would ever let anyone know (they also won’t let anyone know they’re aware of their role in the matter).

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In high school I was not afraid of microbes. Once I became seriously sick my second year of college, however, I embodied the Arsenicum germaphobe to a tee– and I wasn’t even afraid of “germs”; I was afraid of parasite eggs. Literally. I cleaned the outside of my groceries with tile cleaner, I washed my hands in between touching the refrigerator door handle and my food, and every time one of my family members rummaged around the kitchen without washing their hands I would A) scold them and B) wipe down all surfaces after they left (or while they were still there if I wanted to “show them” what their actions had forced me to do). I was incredibly off, in more ways than one… My struggle to overcome my neuroses, which my strife reinforced time and time again, represents the plight of an individual in a deep Arsenicum state to function beyond earthly limitations. Because I felt so out of control, so out of tune with myself, so out of tune with merely living, I attempted to control every minute detail within my grasp, lest I fail to abate the fears that threatened to consume me every time I let my guard down. Tiptoeing around any scenario with the potential to worsen my condition applied to the foods I consumed, how strenuously I moved my body (I directed all of my fears at my incessantly-loud, palpitating heart), as well as how much experience I allowed myself to (halfass) engage in. My overwhelming anxiety actually forced me to relinquish this grip as it progressed into more oppressive stages; I just could not handle my extreme sensitivity to the extrinsic when the intrinsic was so disordered, nor could I manage to clean all of the surfaces that tormented me. Interestingly, because I eventually trained my brain not to react to certain situations with self-destructive thought processes, to feed into my lower self, some (I repeat: some!) of my reflections weren’t drastically different when they were no longer brought on by serious disequilibrium– just brighter, lighter, happier, and wholler.

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The mild Arsenicum state I assumed in high school differed considerably from that I assumed in later stages of the disease process, which completely altered my personality as well as my physicality throughout 2015 and 2016. As I mentioned before, the initial impact of illness suppressed my appetite. This notion would reign true the majority of the past six or so years; however, nothing has compared to the last two. Since the onslaught of the first “healing crisis” in February of 2015, my hunger and zest for life dwindled drastically as I resembled myself less and less (physically, mentally, and emotionally). It’s amazing to me that my body would compel me into such a severe calorie deficit: I consumed roughly 400 calories a day at 88 pounds, active 24/7 (restless fulfillment), yet I could not muster up an appetite to gain weight… not that I wanted to. I saw how underweight I was, and even “came to” a few times, questioning what the hell was wrong with me; I succumbed to the fear of dealing with present circumstances, however, and not knowing how to change them, did nothing. This is control for you: recognition that something is wrong, even dislike that something is wrong, but comfort in the fact that it heirs more toward the preferable side (skinny) than it was previously (“heavy”, by my formerly-self-destructive standards). Emotional detachment furthered all of my self-destructive mentalities, for vitality no longer compelled me to relish in the present tense. I also saw more than a few doctors that didn’t guide me toward equilibrium, so I accepted my present condition as such. When I thought about the future and if I’d spend the rest of my life suppressing my cares away, I pushed any insecurities aside by dreaming them into the realm of the unacknowledged (Phosphorus). It seemed destined that my body would eventually reject this premise; by December, in sheer survival mode, I could not satiate myself. My hypoglycemia had morphed into a complete and utter inability to regulate my blood sugar within even a few hours’ time.

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One time at band camp at Kroger I was trying to buy an eggplant (only one; I would rather go to the grocery store everyday to buy a single item than once a week to buy seven items– made me feel like I was spending less money), when I realized I didn’t bring my wallet into the store. I went back out to my car only to be followed by the woman who had waited behind me in line. She offered to buy me the eggplant, probably because A) she thought I couldn’t afford it, and B) because I looked like I was starving. And I was starving- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I was so disconnected from myself… disorder had stolen my identity from me. Emaciation has a way of messing with the body’s ability to maintain a comfortable temperature, but also a comfortable psychospiritual space; I not only starved for food, but for warmth– on so many levels. I lacked nourishment, love, and a desire for anything that extended beyond my carefully-controlled existence. While I had maintained my body heat quite well in high school, I avoided the cold like the plague in 2015, for I could not stay warm. No matter how many blankets I covered myself in, the chill of suppressed vitality remained. I slept in multiple Under Armour shirts, a layer of long-sleeves, a hoodie, leggings, sweatpants– all the while in a cocoon under the covers, nice and secure. Only after Ignatia did I start to feel like I could actually produce my own body heat, a bit of an odd phenomena after what I’ve gone through. Makes me proud of my body, and very, very thankful.

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I’ll probably add more to this piece as I go along, but for now, read more on Arsenicum here and here.

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Thank you 🙂

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Resources:

  1. Coulter, Catherine R. Portraits of Homoeopathic Medicines: Psychophysical Analyses of Selected Constitutional Types. North Atlantic Books, 1986.
  2. McCabe, Vinton. Let Like Cure Like. St Martins Press, 1997. Print.
  3. Personal Experience.