THE REMEDY: ARSENICUM ALBUM
Please note: the “Complaints/Background” sections of both Phase One: Arsenicum Album and Phase Two: Ignatia Amara feature symptoms I experienced at the beginning of treatment. The symptoms I list below can be attributed mainly to those remedy types. I jumped back and forth between remedies for various reasons I delineate on here.
Phase Three: Phosphorus and Phase Four: Sulphur include only those symptoms specific to each respective remedy. At this point in treatment, I only took one remedy at a time, resulting in the unraveling of each “layer”. Classical homeopathic prescribing will function in this way: heal fully with one remedy, and then move onto the next when a new constitutional picture becomes apparent.
RESTLESS EXHAUSTION. Burning pains. Excessive thirst; sips little at a time. Excessive urination. Mildly sharp pain in gallbladder with burning, like rounded object pressed up against skin. Pain in spleen mirrors pain in gallbladder. Burning in the stomach and rectum. Fullness in abdomen. Reduced appetite. Excessive belching. Excessive gas coming from small intestine. Severe bloating. Severe hypoglycemia. Chronic fatigue; movement causes anxiety. Constipation with dry colon walls. Hates the “toxicity” of constipation: i.e. desires control. Loss of menstruation (Ignatia). Persistent skin rash on hands: red, bumpy, itching, burning. Craves sweets. Craves fats. Craves burnt things and skin on potatoes (pica). Unsteady on feet. Vision unsteady and movement causes vertigo. Vertigo when eating; feels as if she’s moving with the room. Vertigo while lying in bed. Racing thoughts interposed with brain fog. Anxious morning and night. Full of fear, even when fear cannot be pinpointed. Feels as if falling, as if getting lost inside herself. Desires to escape body (Phosphorus). Incessant heart palpitations. Fear of the heart and its malfunction (it is the “lifeforce”). Heart sounds loud and oppressive; takes over the whole body. Fear, then, is centralized at the heart, no matter where it originally stems from (Phosphorus). Movement on television screen worsens onerous anxiety, as do heights. Resurfaced fear of heights (due to the heightened subconscious). Insomnia; moves from room to room seeking sleep. Feels as if swinging back and forth while lying in bed. Heart jolts awake with pounding just as falling asleep. Fears of not being able to sleep (Ignatia), which is fretful and unrefreshing. Awakens in early morning (12am to 2am) with heart palpitations; feels as if she’s having a heart attack. Leery of spending money; every dollar spent is accounted for. Fears of financial insecurity, of not being prepared for the future; always planning for the unforeseen as a result. Control and restriction in every facet of life due to insecurities. Finds what little comfort can be had in accomplishing tasks, writing, getting work “done” (yet it’s never finished, and always returned to). Always has television on simultaneously at low volume (Phosphorus; comforted by pseudo-presence of others); overly-sensitive to external and internal impressions, as the extrinsic amplifies the intrinsic. Sensitivity notably marked by an aversion to disorder and confusion. Craves cleanliness: everything must be in its place. Perfectionistic and always feels as if she’s underperformed. Is never good enough for herself. Critical nature with an eye for detail. Highly irritable; desires company of family but does not want to be spoken to. Remorseful when not warm to them but constantly feels as if fighting a barrier. Utter lack of vitality, engagement, and even compassion; there is very little emotion to begin with. Knows how to feel others out and gauge their motives–far too suspiciously, however. Always aware of right and wrong herself (Ignatia). Because there is no emotion, and everything is analyzed, her morality is based on principle. Alienates herself from friends despite great yearn to experience life. Waiting to get better before she can “live” again. Feels like she’ll never recover; envisions eternal sickness. Pessimistic. Worrywart. Fears for health of family (Phosphorus). Suicidal thoughts due to anguish. “Over” being sick, can’t handle the hard stuff, does not believe she can. Cries when she speaks of this. Hasn’t felt like herself in a long time; doesn’t know who she is. Dreams* of being held down, of evil, of paranormal. Resurfaced sleep paralysis, with recurrent scenario since childhood: suffocated by an unforeseen force while lying in bed as a dark, hooded figure enters room; yells out for help, but cannot move nor make a sound. Helplessness. Resurfaced fear of evil at night; imagines things creeping out of every corner (Phosphorus). Knows when nightmares will occur. Premonitions (Phosphorus). Dreams of her wrongs, of past strife, of absent loved ones. Constant solitude in household due to mother and father tending to grandfather in Michigan for months. Feels must suffer alone and turn to herself for solace (homeopath thinks manifests as feeling of neglect; I wouldn’t realize I felt this way until Ignatia). Dreams of grandmother, “Manny”, who passed in 2015 whilst away at Fordham. Extremely homesick at school; greatly desired comfort of family but landlocked: helplessness ensued. Desire for control. Suffocation by impermeable boundaries. Deep connection to Manny, but did not cry at her funeral. Doesn’t understand why she hasn’t mourned, why she has not felt her death (Ignatia). Stress at Fordham due to grandmother’s death, from loss of boyfriend, from trying to perform, from missing home. No control. Attempt to gain control through perfectionism and restriction.
Bolded words are especially applicable to the Arsenicum constitution.
Description of Remedy:
It’s interesting to note that Arsenicum types are actually quite balanced in good health, and often rather confident in their well-being. They may even suffer from an invincibility complex, pushing themselves beyond limits they don’t think exist. Serious illness, however, brings out the worst in them (as it does everyone, yet Arsenicum’s lower self is distinctly apparent, and not to mention abrasive), destroying their false sense of security; utter fear then arises out of lost stability, from which they develop personalities that rarely resemble their former selves. Such fear guides them, as well as control–only now, their control is directed at restriction in order to negate their fears, to minimize the chaos that now subjugates them, as opposed to the limitless attitude they had always seemingly commanded.
Arsenicums in a moderate state of disequilibrium, whose bodies and minds remain relatively intact, will also feel stable. Arsenicums who do not know they possess any form of “disorder” (for example, mild digestive issues) will feel no need to regulate it. Indeed, some Arsenicums are “cooler” than others, but all of them love to dominate their lives in one major way or another. And yet, it is not until Arsenicums lack all control, when oppressive limitations obviously restrict them, that their personalities become severely compromised by their yearn for regimentation.
(Surely there are Arsenicums who are somewhat high-strung in decent health, as a certain amount of spectrum marks all constitutional types, but restoring harmony within the totality of the being will nonetheless reduce Arsenicum’s anxious, controlling tendencies, usually until they no longer exist.)
Arsenicums are “…affectionate, sensitive, and stable in good health, but… Illness brings rapid physical and mental exhaustion and chaos, which heightens their fears and vulnerability” (Lockie, “Encyclopedia” 68). Ambitious. Detail-oriented. Highly intelligent and highly attuned to critical thinking. When ill, the discriminant mind becomes too cutting, too cynical, and too “sensitive to external impressions” (an idiom commonly associated with Arsenicum, to which I will add sensitive to internal impressions), prompting evaluation, a marked tendency toward over-analysis, and anguish. Worry ensues, as every symptom, every character trait, and every behavior–within themselves and others–is dismantled and dissected. Negative connotations are often attached; even reassurance from loved ones is not actually reassuring (although Arsenicum craves it, in contrast to Phosphorus, who both craves reassurance and benefits from it). Arsenicums make great psychoanalyzers–I would say in sickness and in health, except they are far too suspicious when disordered to be accurate… Arsenicums will pace back and forth, changing places continually until utterly exhausted, as they often suffer from a rapid degeneration of sorts, followed by total prostration, wherein fidgeting takes the place of movement until they must remain totally still, not unlike a cadaver (Arsenicum is full of cadaveric inclinations). The health of self and family figures strongly in Arsenicum’s mind, with germaphobic, obssessive ruminations following suit. Arsenicums can be manipulative, the great psychoanalyzers that they are; they also fear being left defenseless, for which control (perhaps of others), order, and restriction ensue. The imagination is vivid; the attitude, all-or-nothing. Arsenicums’ tendency to perfect knows no bounds. They need organization and cleanliness to calm their inner restlessness when ill, as their environment classically generates much irritation and anxiety.
The mind of a depleted Arsenicum is wired and dysfunctional. It is excitable, the thoughts calculated, regulated, enumerated, specific–yet restless and thus weak-memoried.
Insecure and defensive, Arsenicum does not like to be perceived as incompetent. Desires company despite irritability. Irritable when spoken to, irritable with lack of control, irritable with those that perpetuate disorder. Fears of being left alone, ghosts, robbers, incurable disease, and death (although death may eventually be desired to escape torment). Fears getting themselves worked up. Fears the very idea of disorder. Depressed; loathes life and monotony. Suicidal due to fear; does not want to die, but cannot live lest anguish consume them. Despair of recovery. Driven by fear and the need for control.
Burning sensations relieved by warmth, except for the head, which is relieved by cold. Burning in the stomach, in the rectum, in the throat. Sea-side complaints (feels as if swaying back and forth, in my experience). Stinging, particularly in skin affections, which feature open cuts and clusters of red, scaly bumps. Pale or yellow tint to skin, with dryness, roughness, itch. Appears deathly. Swelling of facial bones (“moon face”). Nose stuffed up. Cramping, burning pains. Diarrhea and vomiting often accompany each other in the acute; diarrhea, constipation, or constipated diarrhea occur in the chronic, with small, hard, dark stools passed with must prostration. Color of stools may vary with some orange and green-gray tones. Heartburn, indigestion, nausea and vomiting. Food aversion. Cannot bear the sight or smell of food, particularly in the acute stage of illness; everything tastes rancid. Bloating with enlarged liver. Heart palpitations and frequent fainting. The heart beats loudly in the chest. Thirsty; sips little at a time. Craves fats, sweets, sour foods, vinegar, as well as warm food and drink. Trouble breathing; feelings of suffocation while lying down. Vivid dreams that bring worry and fear, featuring heights, deaths of loved ones, robbers, and demons. Sensitive to cold, which chills to the bones; “This patient knows that if he could just get warm, all will be well” (McCabe, “Practical Homeopathy” 374). Right-sided ailments. Emaciation, both with loss of appetite and ravenous appetite, although Arsenicum typically loses nir appetite. Worse from midnight to 2am, from eating, and exertion.
The physical, and even mental/emotional symptoms I have listed thus far are nowhere near exhaustive. Please consult a homeopath for more information.
PHYSICALITY: Refined features with oval lips. Arsenicum often has an upturned, or otherwise narrow, aquiline nose. Bony faces; may even appear hawk-like in the extreme with deep set eyes, structured cheekbones, and an evaluative, detached stare (especially when the lower self is exacerbated!). Most are thin and delicate, neat and tidy; others are sturdier, but taut, and agile nonetheless. Both seek perfection. “Hurry, hurry, hurry” demeanor. Walks erect, swiftly, with a purpose. May look “pissy”; Arsenicums can’t believe they have to “deal with this shit”–i.e. their failing health. When utter exhaustion settles in, and wired and tired is the norm, heavy melancholia will replace Arsenicum’s former fire. Eventually, as life knocks the wind out of them, the type’s fight will be taken too.
EXAMPLES: Kate McKinnon (see her in interviews? Characteristic delayed response with a high level of intelligence to match. Dry humor, great wit, consistent, topnotch performance on SNL. Efficiency, precision, staying power). Arsenicum is often divided between the “thoroughbred and the drawhorse” (Bailey 27); Kate exemplifies the former. Dakota Fanning as Ray in Uptown Girls is certainly Arsenicum, and probably quite imbalanced at that… At least until Molly, a Phosphorus type, helps balance her out. Uptown Girls really demonstrates how Arsenicum and Phosphorus can act as a foil for one another.
Sigmund Freud must have also been an Arsenicum, according to Bailey.
*Dreams are highly indicative of the subconscious and thus unaddressed manifestations of a compromised vital force.
- Bailey, Philip M. Homeopathic Psychology: Personality Profiles of the Major Constitutional Remedies. North Atlantic Books, 1995. Print.
- Lockie, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Homeopathy. London: D. Kindersley Pub., 2006. Print.
- Lockie, Andrew. Homeopathy: The Principles and Practice of Treatment. Dorling Kingdersly, 1995. Print.
- McCabe, Vinton. Let Like Cure Like. St Martins Press, 1997. Print.
- McCabe, Vinton. Practical Homeopathy. St Martins Press, 2000. Print.