A history of abuse: a case of Magnesium bromatum
Abuse and trauma are sensitive issues to society and to homeopathy as well, since as the person who has suffered abuse or any mental trauma is so shaken, his or her entire life is so overpowered, that it is difficult to bring him out of the impact of the situation. Given that my approach changes somewhat in non-verbal cases, childrens’ cases or elderly patients, I wondered how I would approach cases which have a strong history of abuse and trauma.
The difficulties I faced when seeing these patients are:
- Such patients are so much under the influence of this painful situation that their entire life seems to be stuck in this situation; everything they describe during the case revolves around it, as if this situational state is a part of their very being.
- Secondly, in cases where the abuse has happened in the far past or when the patients were children, most victims internalize the trauma. They form strong psychological defenses in order to repress it, rationalizing it, projecting it, denying it or somatizing it.
- Another obstacle is the shame and humiliation associated with cases of abuse; can the patient overcome it to reveal his vulnerable self? Will he or she ever want to go there? Most victims, especially in India, are unwilling to talk about it, at least initially.
The following case gives an example of how the treatment of an abusive history. It has been edited for brevity.
The patient is a forty-year-old woman who came with skin allergies and acne rosacea. We started to slowly discover that the real problem was much deeper.
Passive case witnessing process
Patient (P): “I am not happy. I’ve never had any skin issue before and I don’t like to see my face like this, it’s a little hard to adjust. I am very social; I was a very good student. In my childhood one main issue for me was that my parents were always fighting; even small things would bother my mother and father. In my dreams I don’t want such things in my relationship to happen.
“I don’t remember my dreams but I know I am scared, sometimes of animals.
She spontaneously goes to her childhood and her dreams, indicating that she is travelling through different areas of her life naturally.
Dinesh Chauhan (DC): What else?
P: “I believe that if I pray to God when I want something that I can’t get, like asking Him to clear my face, I need to stop eating a certain food for the rest of my life.
“My second child has lot of issues, I am still blaming myself. I did something wrong, that’s why he struggled so much. He wasn’t breathing when he was born, so I prayed to God that if he is fine I will never eat ice cream again; if I sacrifice something I will get something. I used to feel I was not spending enough time with my oldest child.
“I keep asking myself why I have done things in the past. ‘Why didn’t I think before I talked? Why do I get so temperamental?’ I say things to my son then blame myself.
“My Mom was always sick, she had all the responsibilities at home like cooking and cleaning. She wasn’t loving, she didn’t hug or praise us kids. I do so many things for my children but I never got this love from my Mom, she didn’t love me that way.
“My sister never calls me, this is something that really bothers me. I don’t know what I have done wrong that she doesn’t talk to me. I miss everything in India, my family; I always think about them. Mom has diabetes, she doesn’t take care of herself.
“My maternal grandfather was very sick; when I was in India I planned to go and see him but he passed away last year. I miss him a lot and still think “Why do I live so far I away that I couldn’t even go and see him in his last days.’
“My Dad isn’t polite. I have seen him abusing my Mom, saying that she is not a good lady and that she has an extra-marital affair. I didn’t want to marry, but Raj is good, he allows me to do everything. I am so free, he doesn’t interfere in what I want to buy when I go shopping. My father is very egoistic, he was drinking and smoking. I wanted to go to college but he restricted me.
“Being the oldest, I have seen a lot of fights. My Dad had a fight with my grandfather; my Mom says grandfather passed away because of that. She says Dad was very rude, he said bad things and grandfather passed away. Dad was never nice to me, my sister and my brother. He has a business, got bankrupted and didn’t have money to pay, so now the bank will take the factory.
“My father-in-law is very good, I wish I had known him in my childhood.”
DC: What else?
P: “My brother started a business but it is not working, I keep wondering why it isn’t working and what we can do about it. I think of my sister, she is divorced and she has a daughter. The in-laws are not affectionate to her. I do a lot for them, I sleep and wake up at their time, I think about why granddaughter has got glasses. I take care of everything in the house, I think I blame myself too much, that’s my fault.
“If I do good cooking I want my husband to see it, I like to hear praise. He never calls me by my name or holds my hand in front of others. I want a lot of appreciation from him, it’s for him that I stay home and take care of the kids.”
DC: Can you tell me about your dreams?
P: “I suddenly get up as if I am falling from a height, like from a mountain or something. I start shouting and my husband wakes me up; this happens quite often, once or twice a week. I see lots of snakes in my dreams.
“Sometimes, I dream of weddings, especially my brother’s wedding. I am at his wedding and I am doing everything, then something goes wrong. People are not ready on time. I ask them to give me more time but I am not able to manage and everyone is shouting at me. I am running and running.
“In another dream I have to go somewhere at 10am and I see that I am unable to get there. All night I dream that I am really late and my son will not get admission, I was begging them to please take me inside.”
Here, we see that in different areas, in the conscious and subconscious areas, the feeling of doing something wrong, blaming herself comes repeatedly, hence we become active with the focus.
Active case witnessing process
DC: You feel you are doing something wrong, it is your fault, and you blame yourself often?
P: “During childhood my father physically abused me, he physically tortured me. I blame myself for that, I could have stopped him, I could have slapped him. I was in 7-8th standard, I thought I should tell my Mom, but was afraid that she would fight with my Dad and get upset. When I got pregnant, I prayed I wouldn’t get a girl child, I want my first child to be a boy. I thought that if I had a girl and my husband would be bad with me, I would take him to the police.”
She takes us to another very sensitive issue, which indicates we are on the right track, we will completely explore and understand this feeling of having done something wrong.
DC: What you mean “you have done something wrong?”
P: “If anyone in the family gets sick, I blame myself for that, as if I have done something wrong. I tell my younger son that one day, when he can do everything on his own, I will die and leave him.”
DC: What you mean “take care?”
P: “To handle themselves. Now, he is always saying “Mom, Mom, Mom”; when he no longer needs me I will leave him.”
Active-active case witnessing process
DC: Can you explain to me “doing something wrong” in terms as abstract as possible? What are all the things that can be done wrong, according to you?
P: “I associate it with myself, I can tell you what wrong I have done. For example, I had a crush on a boy but my father restricted me, he came to know about him and was mad at me. He said ‘I will kill you if I see you again with that boy.’ He scared me so much, he would always check my phone to see who is calling, which boys’ numbers I have got.”
DC: Explain that whole feeling of having done something wrong.
P: “Once, my husband sent me an email saying ‘You have cheated on me, I want a divorce.’ Our son was two years old, I had nothing to do with that guy, but my husband was not ready to listen to me. I was about to cut my vein. He told me ‘You torture me all the time by saying you will kill yourself.’ I have never done anything wrong…”
DC: Do you pray to God if anything goes wrong?
P: “If I pray, I always get what I want. I always wanted to be a gold medallist, I was a topper. When I was with the doctor, I prayed he would tell me that everything is good, then I would walk straight to the temple.”
DC: In the dream you mentioned something you had done wrong…
P: “Everybody is calling me at the wedding, they are asking me “Where are the bangles?” Everybody is shouting, telling me to get ready or they would leave me behind, alone…”
DC: What is “leaving alone?”
P: “I’m all alone, am I not worth much. I want everyone to be with me. I don’t want everyone to leave me. I am very social and my husband is the opposite, I always want to go out and sit with a friend…”
DC: What is this feeling of “not worth much?”
P: “I am not good looking or good in talking, am I harsh to people. Why are they leaving me? I am shouting at them to take me with them but they leave me and go, just closing the door in front of me. Like at the wedding, I am all alone, nobody is there to get me ready and I am all alone.”
DC: Tell me about “Not worth much, alone, not good looking?”
P: “I am good, see how I am taking care of the kids. I love my kids, I am so nice, why are they leaving me behind? Being late is not because I was stuck somewhere, I just didn’t realise the time. I am doing so much for everyone, why are they still leaving me?”
DC: Describe that feeling of being blamed for doing something wrong.
P: “To be blamed for something you haven’t done. For example, people say that my youngest son has done something wrong: he hasn’t done anything yet he is being blamed.”
DC: How does a person feel after being blamed?
P: “If you are blaming someone you are hurting him physically, mentally and emotionally.”
DC: Physically abused?
P: “In general, all girls like sitting close together, but I don’t like it. Still, my father used to do it. He used to watch me changing clothes, opening the closet and seeing my clothes. I have my own identity. Why are you hugging me, kissing me, hurting me? Everything is abuse.”
DC: Showing affection, hugging and kissing is abuse if you don’t like it?
P: “Mother and daughter, mother and son, there is a difference. If you are rubbing your hands on the thigh, this is not parents’ love, you are satisfying yourself at the cost of others. If I don’t want to be kissed and hugged, why are you doing this? If I want to hug my son I can’t do it forcefully.”
DC: What do you feel?
P: “I feel shattered, broken, unwanted. I feel disrespected because I don’t work.”
DC: What you missed from childhood was the love and affection you later got from your in-laws. You give with all your abilities, but you feel “Maybe it’s me, I am doing something wrong”, you blame yourself and you start praying. Can you tell me about the dream of snakes?
P: “There are lots of snakes, they don’t hurt me but I am in the middle of them and I’m scared. I see a temple and I offer Prasad to the goddess and ask her for forgiveness.
Here, we see that she connects the dream to feelings that she has done something wrong and asks God for forgiveness.
DC: So, you want love, care and affection. If you don’t give, you feel you are doing something wrong, so you do something to come out of it. The love, care and affection from your parents was actually abusive. In your dream you feel you have done something wrong, you are late, so you ask people to not leave you. In the snake dream you ask for forgiveness, too. You feel that if you don’t give love or don’t take care, something wrong will happen; taking love more than required is also abuse. So, did this interview help you in anyway?
Active-active case witnessing process with awareness
P: “I feel relaxed, I haven’t spoken to anyone like this. I don’t have respect for my parents and I don’t like my father.”
DC: How does it feel to bring the truth out?
P: “I connect everything to myself and blame myself for everything. But now I realise it’s not me, I haven’t done anything wrong, I am punishing myself. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, my father was wrong. Why should I blame myself? I am a good parent, I shouldn’t blame myself. Until now I was blaming myself and punishing myself and shouting at my child. Now I feel it’s not because of me.”
During the passive case witnessing process we saw that in different areas she spoke of how she takes so much care of her family, thinks about them and prays for them. If anything goes wrong she wonders why it has happened and what wrong she has done; she blames herself for everything.
During the active case witnessing process we saw that this feeling of having done something wrong was connected to her childhood situation of being abused by her father, not receiving the appropriate love, nurturing, care and affection of her parents, being tortured and always seeing them fighting. She also connects this feeling to the dream where she is being left alone by her family.
During the active-active case witnessing process until awareness we see how the entire centre of the case comes out with everything from her dream, to the incident in her childhood which connects to this feeling of blaming herself, being left alone, with no care, affection, unwanted, tortured, shattered, no respect, etc. As we see in this case, the patient talks about the abuse on her own and connects the whole incident to her centre. Ultimately, she even becomes aware of the incident and how it is her father to be blamed and not her, which was the centre of the case.
Level of Experience of the case: Emotion
She is in touch with herself, goes spontaneously to other general areas of her life: potency required would be 200C.
Kingdom: Mineral; she finds it a lack in herself that all this is happening to her family.
Row: 3 and 4. The feeling of not being loved, having no affection and care, being forsaken, left alone, where person starts to express his choice but cannot, brings us to Magnesium. The other part, with the feeling of guilt, issues of conscience, hitting and delusions of a crime he has committed, etc, bring us to the halogen Bromine.
Prescription: Magnesium bromatum 200, single dose
In Jan Scholten’s book “Minerals in Homeopathy”, he gives the following understanding of Magnesium bromatum: the essence of the remedy is the idea that they are guilty of quarrels and they will do anything to avoid them; they feel other people are fighting because of them, especially people they love and who protect them.
Follow ups: after a month of treatment she says that physically she is very active, mentally she is doing very well; now she doesn’t think much about her father. She’s pretty happy and not blaming herself for each and every thing. Her facial eruptions have reduced by 40%.
After 3 months of treatment: she says that the biggest change is that her relationship with her husband has improved a lot, as well as with her children. “I used to fight and try to avoid mistakes. There was always love, but a lot of blaming – the blaming is much less now.” After asking about how she used to live, she says “Earlier I would think my husband only wanted physical relations with me; now I know it is much beyond that.”
On asking her about her memory of father physically and sexually abusing her she says earlier it would always be on the surface, “I would connect that to everything, it would be on my mind, and I would be rude with my children. Abuse is abuse, but now I don’t connect that to the present moment. It doesn’t affect my mind as much now.” She can now talk about the sexual abuse which she used to keep hidden, and it doesn’t affect her as much.
After a year of treatment, I asked her she felt about blaming herself. “It used to happen a lot in my dreams, not being able to reach a place, but now I don’t dream that. Energy-wise I am really fine and I can do a lot of work. Everything used to be a task for me but now I enjoy doing stuff. I didn’t see that I was alone; I was a very sad person earlier. I felt I was always stuck in my past, my present was governed by my past and I was blaming myself. Now I don’t feel like I am not getting love and affection. My brother’s business is doing well. This past year I have understood things differently, that I was the one blocking myself from love, care and affection because of my past memories.
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