Moving from fear to love: a case of Lac humanum
Danielle is a lovely woman born in 1952, who is a Buddhist and bird watcher. She has worked with her husband in his financial investment firm, but has little interest in this field. She has rosy, high cheekbones and simple, short hair. As many women do in Seattle, she dresses for the outdoors, in a somewhat sporty and utilitarian manner.
I present this case as an illustration of profound healing, not in the flash of an eye or the downing of a single dose of a remedy, but to show how the patient can transform beautifully over many years through the process of taking a good remedy and the therapeutic relationship, which in this case fostered self-reflection and a touchstone to explore and acknowledge healing.
(Editor’s note: this case has been considerably condensed for the sake of brevity, retaining as much as possible the gist of nine years of consultations.)
Danielle (D): “My first priority is ‘not top’ physical health. I have a contemplative calling. I would like to resolve how to have more joy and be of more service, but I do not have enough equanimity to face these things. Sometimes, I can’t bear it (tears). Is there any point in asking for help?
“I have been a Buddhist since 1986, with a committed meditation practice of two hours daily. I feel homeopathy complements meditation.
“My father was huge – a deep voice filled with anger. He threatened to hit us; he abused us verbally. I was very intimidated by him but I stood up to him all the time. I was deeply afraid of him. I believed what he felt about me was deserved. In his old age, we became very close. He died in November 2001. The night he died, he became unnerved by my visit; he expressed his hatred, mistrust and negativity towards me. This brought me to a bare state of intimidation. I have been a mess since he died. I accept his ‘gift’. I can’t be with my friends because I pride myself on living honestly…”
Krista Heron (KH): Living honestly?
D: “Any friendship is based on a lie because they don’t like me. I don’t trust them enough to tell them how fragile my mental state is. There is always an underlying feeling of unworthiness. If I believed my mind and body would both die if I walked off a cliff I would, but I believe the mind would suffer. This self-absorption and self-consciousness is so painful. I have found ways to be lost. The only joy I feel is alone on a long retreat and my pain is uncovered at those times.
“I feel inadequate, intellectually inferior, unattractive and socially inept. In my teens, I barely talked at all. In my twenty’s, I lost myself in work and married someone I didn’t like, so I wouldn’t have to connect with him. I would never marry him today. My husband doesn’t understand.
“I have two sisters, both older than I. We have similar bodies; we all have plantar fasciitis. Mine is from damage to my right sciatic nerve after a long meditation sitting. I grew up barefoot in the Philippines but I don’t go barefoot any more.
“I have constipation, it has been life long, and I have hemorrhoids.
“I have a tendency towards sinusitis and I get chest colds. If I drink milk my eyes and sinuses swell, and I get colds. I also have allergies to moulds and will sneeze and get an itchy roof of my mouth. Sometimes, I get springtime allergies and I am possibly allergic to wheat. If I eat less, I have less of these symptoms.
“I also have circulation problems. My mother had high blood pressure, TIA’s and small strokes.
“When I was a child, I frequently had the flu with high fevers; I was treated with penicillin. I used to run behind the pesticide truck while it spewed out pesticides.
“I was afraid of people when I was little. I wouldn’t speak to adults. I was a loner.
“My father worked for the Navy. I lived on the naval base until I was fifteen. Every two years, families rotated in and out. A few stayed. I went to Catholic school.
“My mother was extremely busy; everyone came to our house. She would pile us into a car and take us places. It was like a troop of girl scouts. She didn’t care for babies; she treated us like adults.
“My parent’s relationship was terrible, yet she protected him. I felt betrayed by her. It became a war zone between my father and me. I always knew my mother liked me. She had an inability to come to terms with him…. like I do in my marriage. We both have the positive ability to recognize the that other person is suffering, and a commitment to not damage them more, but at the expense of ourselves. It would be damaging to my husband to leave him.
“I never wanted to be in a relationship but always found myself there; I even tried women. When I met Sam, I knew I had to marry him. I hated him on the day of our wedding. His power comes because I give it to him. There is something here about masochism, about giving it up, of not being pulled into it. He is rude and selfish, yet I love him like my father. I feel bound, trapped, I want out. I have been looking at nunneries. I already have one man who hates me, who is dead; it might no be so bad to have another… There aren’t clear boundaries between my father and my husband. I take responsibility for what they feel. They think I am wrong, and they are right.
"I want an open heart. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone. ”
KH: Fighting with father?
D: “It was nasty. My whole life became a fight. Early on, I slept with servicemen; I became what my father hated. I egged my father on to strike me. I felt glee and said: ‘Go ahead’. I felt such awful hatred and it turned against me.”
KH: Recurrent dreams?
D: “I am paralyzed and there is someone in the room who will kill me. I can’t wake up to escape.”
D: “That I will be killed violently by a man. As a child, I had a fantasy where I would leave my body; I would dissociate from the experience.
“Social situations are painful. I am afraid that people - babies too - will guess my lack of worthiness and not respond, not connect with me. I never wanted children.
“We don’t have sex; I have been celibate since 1989. I had a hysterectomy due to uterine fibroids at the age of forty-five, which led to hot flashes. It was emotionally devastating. My childbirth window had been taken out, that place where children could come through. I feel the uterus is a nurturing woman organ.”
D: “I get quiet. I block people out; I wall them off.”
Prescription: Lac caninum 200
I recognized Danielle needed a Lac remedy and I heard some familiar words to suggest this particular Lac: lie, mask and unworthiness.
The remedy helped to provide a relief from the depression, and the courage to continue. She felt less need for comfort food. Some time later, though, the depression returned, and she questioned and criticized herself. “Why can’t I love Sam? What is wrong with me? Why don’t I do what I like in life? I feel foolish asking for help.”
Prescription: Lac caninum in 200 then 1M helped her emotionally.
D: “I am feeling more emotionally comfortable, more accepting of my anger and rage. I am not so self-judging.” Physically, only her allergies have improved. During the following months, though, she continues to struggle. “I am so afraid of saying something wrong, of saying something stupid. The underlying message is self-hatred. I have already decided I wouldn’t be good at whatever I love, so I do administrative work and get a reputation for being competent. I am really constricted; I am shy and mistrustful. I fear I won’t make it because I am not intelligent enough or empathetic enough.”
In March 2004, Lac defloratum was given based on the following symptoms, among others: desire to go into a nunnery, bearing insults yet still giving to others.
D: “I am craving milk.
“I am crashing into depression. I am connecting my life with my mother’s: she has suffered from low esteem like me. There are astonishing parallels: her mask that allowed no one to know her; how she felt about her husband; she didn’t have a lot of friends but many people liked and admired her; they thought she was competent. She was depressed but with incredible endurance. I am afraid my own endurance will win; that none of this has anything to do with my dad or with Sam; it is really just fear, low self-esteem and an endurance to stay alive. There is little joy in the day to day.
“I have always had a loathing for my physical body. I feel fat and ugly especially my thighs. I had a dream. A bus driver looked at me and drove away. I felt disconnected from everyone.”
Prescription: Lac humanum 200
It is clear that Lac defloratum is incorrect: she crashes into depression and she feels she must endure – like a beast of burden – her miserable life. She feels more disconnected, as seen in the dream and she is still asking for a Lac remedy by drawing the parallels with her mother and their lives, and by explicitly craving milk.
She improved at various levels over the next months.
D: “My self-awareness has increased and my self-flagellation has lessened, as has my self-loathing. I feel I can find my way back to myself easily. Sam and I have been doing so much better. I am trying to shift out of being a victim.
“My plantar fasciitis is almost completely gone; my energy is better, as is my constipation and headaches. I am not meditating cross-legged any more so my sciatica is improved.”
A year later, her relationship is again in question.
D: “A day doesn’t go by without him criticizing me. I feel more and more trapped. I can’t create something that is not there. It is like the question of how to love Israel when I am Palestine.
“I am not feeling self-hatred; I do not harm myself anymore. My relationships with my friends are better.
“I am afraid of loneliness. I don’t trust myself to choose well; I will ask to get hurt again. The remedy has allowed me to see Sam as a good man.”
Her depression resurfaced: she felt she was not bee heard or seen, she felt helpless and disconnected. Still, she is starting to gain more healthy introspection.
D: “Before, I felt like nothing could get better, now I am aware of why I have been disliked. Some of it I have earned, some is because my self-absorption has been misunderstood. I used to roll over people, discount them if I felt their ideas were unworthy. Now, I feel I have more understanding of how I can be someone who can care and be cared for.
“My heels are sore, my back is sore, I am constipated and I have allergies. I can’t stop eating dairy.”
After a brief return to Lac caninum, Lac humanum was repeated in 1M.
D: “I almost didn’t come because I feel so great. Immediately after taking the remedy, my constipation was better, my feet were better, and so was my depression.
“I have been feeding my mother. She can’t feed herself because of her stroke. Sometimes, I eat off her spoon.
“There is a shift in how I see the world. The worry that people do not like me is crumbling. I am more in touch with my honest feelings. My mother is more real to me. I feel less guilt saying no to her; I like her; I feel gratitude for her; I no longer feel pulled in to fix her. My personality is expanding. There is a side of me that I have been incorporating. I want to be called Danni. I am becoming fierce. I can be nurturing but it is not my strong point. Before I would have been embarrassed about this, now it just is.”
In the course of the following months she says: “In terms of overall happiness, I am doing wonderfully. I am feeling so much compassion. There has been a huge shift this past year. I have faced a constant storm of negativity my whole life and now, I have the awareness to shift this.”
Meanwhile, she decides to separate from her husband.
D: “It is wonderful and at the same time I am raw, unsettled. Sam wants to talk, I just want it to be over. It is difficult to discuss money. I used to want him or me to die.
"My allergies are in full force but my neck is better. I have sciatica again.”
Prescription: Lac humanum 10M
Over the next months, her relationship with her husband was off and on.
D: “Sam and I are trying again. He was at a retreat and I was blue. I was lonely; I only had the cat.
“I don’t trust him enough. I am more frank, less intimidated. I don’t want a connection with him. There is a good deal of caring and a good deal of dislike.
“I can also see Sam as a real person, someone I don’t have to dislike for not being who I want him to be. I am getting fierce and he is backing off. I am taking baby steps.”
Meanwhile, her mother died. Her relationship to her religious organization changes over time, as well as with her friends.
D: “I have found my practice in my meditation but not in the organization. It acts like the Catholic church: the ‘only’ path. I am slipping out of my roles in the organization.
“I am making more friends. I am more available. I am taking risks. I am aware I am different.”
D: “I am experiencing a lot of ‘deep liking’, which is new for me. I feel more gladness about being alive. I have never done meaningful work before. I still feel stuck about leaving. I am doing more of what I want. I can still feel amazed that any one wants to be my friend but I just feel the sensation without getting caught up in it.”
D: “I really want to let people know I love them. I haven’t done this before. I am more affectionate.”
During this time, Lac humanum 10M was repeated as deemed necessary, then Lac humanum 50M.
D: “Now, I have friends and I talk to them. This has been a huge shift. Not only do I talk with my friends but I am also making new friends. My practice is hugely different without the panic attacks. There has been a lot of unraveling of old patterns.”
D: “I see myself in the world differently…I never noticed that I am angry when I am depressed. Now, I don’t want to put a mask on any more.”
D: “I think this is a good time to leave Sam.”
It takes more than a year before this actually takes place.
D: “I have been working at the retreat center. It is a hard place to work. People label you, people think about where you are in your practice, that you are bigger than you are. I feel a driving need to be involved with community, organic food and sustainable lifestyles. It is a driving force to do something so beneficial for the planet. It is the same with meditation; the planet needs it.”
D: “I feel embarrassed by my self-righteousness. I can block communication. I feel they are wrong, so I appear judgmental. I think people might feel bullied.”
D: “My practice is more relaxed; blockages are falling away. It has been a long time since I wished I were dead. I have always sought the most difficult path and pushed through but now I find myself without the background chatter saying that I have to do something. I found myself feeling attracted to someone but I fear it might be a trap, falling into someone else’s life and doing what they are doing.”
D: “This morning I had a dream: I was walking with a friend in a rural area and thought there was a group of guys after us. As we were slipping down into some woods, I captured an elfin boy and put my hand over his mouth. He gave no struggle. When the group of guys came by, they looked down into the woods and one of them gazed at the boy in my arms and said: ‘Hi David’. So, I took my hand off the boy’s mouth and he asked if he could go walk in the moonlight, and I said yes, then I woke up. So, I slipped from fear into life.”
This is an interesting dream: she is with a friend, while she is usually alone in life in her dreams). They are being chased by men (a primary fear for her). She captures a boy who gives no struggle (this boy seems to be a part of herself: it might be noteworthy that both her name and the boy’s share similar sounds). The threatening men see the boy in her arms and say “hello” (a non-threatening action). The boy is released and asks to walk in the moonlight – a sweet and relaxed image. When she wakes, she feels she has been released from fear and is allowed to be in life.
D: “When one person changes everything changes. Sam is being so respectful of my space, we are friends. He is gently calling me on my black-white-ism, whereas before I would recoil.
“I am no longer meditating two hours a day and am no longer worried about the requirements of the organization. I am aware of when I might be labeling the organization negative as a means to leave it. I don’t feel the need to burn bridges, no need to push something away.
“My sister seems put-off by me. I have had two dreams of her dying. In one, we were walking on a frozen landscape. She turned to disagree with me and then slipped under the ice. I thought ‘she is going to die’ and then, she froze in place.”
Analysis of the dream
The frozen landscape is most likely an image of her difficult family environment.
When the sister disagrees (asserts herself) she slips under the ice; this is the risk that Danielle fears, that disagreeing, individuating, would cause her to be trapped and frozen in place. I see this dream as an expression of healing, and suggestive of the next self-image she will need to integrate.
Over the next months she continues to grow.
D: “My dreams of late have been around becoming more comfortable with the male aspect of life. Dreams are one of the things I suppressed, so it is good to have them back in my life. My dreams are battles between my two names: Danni and Danielle. I used to think it was just male and female, but I think of Danni as deeper, intuitive, introverted; the one who sits. Danielle is more of a mask; she is not happy being out of tune with the culture. Now, there is a third name - Daniella - who is softer, someone who is more available to people. I feel a quiet joy in me; I feel more.
"I have an ability to be around people in ways I have never been able to before. As I become friendlier and more connected with other human beings, I feel it to be nurturing. I feel a sense of community with myself as well as with others - a sense of abundance rather than a lacking.
I am hardly at the Centre at all anymore.”
This patient continues to do well. I see her on occasion and hear regularly from her friends who tell me how well she is doing.
I have studied with Massimo Mangialavori since 1996 and much of how I perceive remedies are seen through his lens, informed by my own experience of some nearly thirty years of practice. We have worked together on many projects, and for the last five or six years we have been writing his Materia Medica Clinica, along with Betty Wood, MD and John Sobraske. Our first publication in this series is about the Milk remedies; it should be going to press any day.
Massimo suggests there are three Motifs, or observations, one easily makes upon first meeting with the Lac humanum patient: Abandonment, False Oblativity (a word Massimo uses to suggest a giving or altruistic nature, where the focus is not on the self but others) and Ambition. Danielle spoke of these motifs in several ways. In the initial case, she states: “I would like to resolve how to have more joy and be of more service…” In the retake of her case, she says: “My primary struggle is doing what I am called to do, avoiding my own intimacy with myself, and getting caught up in tasks rather than following my bliss.” And: “ My heart doesn’t know what the right action is. I fear being selfish, of making a choice out of selfishness rather than what is correct for everyone.” We see this theme of service, oblativity, and ambition demonstrating healing and repair in her later statement: “I feel a driving need to be involved with community, organic food and sustainable lifestyles. It is a driving force to do something beneficial for the planet. It is the same with meditation; the planet needs it.”
Massimo further outlines four Fundamental Themes that should be seen in patients requiring a Milk remedy:
The patient has difficulty in seeing their lives and identities as separate from their family; instead they are still enmeshed and defined by them. They still see their defining reference to be their parents. There is also an ambivalent relationship with individuation. They ask themselves: “Should I become my own person? Will this disappoint my parents? Is it even possible to be my own person? Do I know who I am? Can I detach from them, can I separate; can I cut the umbilical cord?” Massimo often finds that his patients who respond to Milk remedies come from an over-caring family. However, I have seen both – some families who have been extremely neglectful and abusive and others who have wanted to keep the child/adult close and undifferentiated.
We see this theme expressed in the early case in the following statements:
“The night he died he became unnerved by my visit, he expressed his hatred, mistrust and negativity towards me… I have been a mess since he died….I believed what he felt about me was deserved. I accepted his gift.”
“I am connecting my life with my mother’s: she has suffered from low esteem like me. There are astonishing parallels: her mask that allowed no one to know her; how she felt about her husband; she didn’t have a lot of friends but many people liked and admired her; they thought she was competent. And she was depressed but with incredible endurance. I am afraid my own endurance will win.”
“I became what my father hated. I egged my father on to strike me. I felt glee and said, “Go ahead.” I felt such awful hatred and it turned against myself.”
“…Yet I love [my husband] like my father. I feel bound.”
And then, in the retake of her case, she says: “I don’t know the correct steps, I am not able to walk or, like my mother, I am unable to talk.”
There is often an experience or a fear of abandonment in the patient requiring a Milk remedy. They may fear or feel disconnected from their family or others and this is often coupled with a feeling of unworthiness or inadequacy.
In this case Danielle tells us: “Mother didn’t care for babies; she treated us like adults.” As well as: “I am afraid that people - babies too - will guess my lack of worthiness and not respond, not connect with me.”
Later, she says: “I have been feeding my mother. She can’t feed herself because of her stroke. Sometimes I eat off her spoon. … My mother is more real to me. I feel less guilt saying no to her; I like her; I feel gratitude for her; I no longer feel pulled in to fix her.” And when discussing her surrogate family, her Sangha: “I am slipping out of my roles in the organization.”
These patients have difficulty expressing themselves, whether it is being angry or intimate; just having their own having needs or desires can create an internal conflict. They fear that if they did this they risk their familial relationship and this could lead to separation and abandonment. And because life is about serving ideals, they feel conflicted when having a personal need because they interpret this as being selfish.
Danielle demonstrates this theme in the following statements: “I married someone I didn’t like, so I wouldn’t have to connect [with him]…I hated him on the day of our wedding.” And in the retake of her case, “I turn joy into work.”
We also see indecision, where the patient struggles with the questions of who are they: Should I be myself or should I be who my mother wants me to be? Should I be an idealized child? Should I break free and create my own destiny? Is it even possible to do so?”
When I ask Danielle about her dreams, she reports: “I am not awake but I am not asleep. I fear I can’t move. I struggle out of sleep and I can’t. I am paralyzed and there is someone in the room who will kill me. I can’t wake to escape.” We see in this statement her irresolution to move away from her family, and that if she were to escape she would risk great peril. We also see her irresolution when she says: “I know what I want to be doing but I am not doing it. I am living a constipated life.” And we see this irresolution repairing when she tells us after taking the remedy for some time: “I want to be divorced by the end of the year. I know I am not going back.”
In addition to the Fundamental Themes, Massimo lists Characteristic Themes that differentiate one Milk from another. The Characteristic Themes for Lac humanum are:
Ambition / Dissatisfaction
My patient felt dissatisfied with her life. She felt she should be doing more but felt inhibited to assume a role of leadership. Yet she could be assertive, or more accurately aggressive. She wondered if she was, in fact, a bully. She tells us this in her statement: “I feel inadequate, intellectually inferior, unattractive and socially inept.” And: “I have already decided I wouldn’t be good at whatever I love.”
She felt a great deal of unworthiness and inadequacy, despite receiving a great deal of recognition by her Sangha, in particular. She says: “Father threatened to hit us; he abused us verbally. I was very intimidated by him … I was deeply afraid of him. I believed what he felt about me was deserved. I accepted his ‘gift’.” And: “Any friendship is based on a lie because they don’t like me. There is always an underlying feeling of unworthiness. Everyone has a lot of masks.” And again: “I am so afraid of saying something wrong, of saying something stupid.” The underlying message is self-hatred.
Later, we see this symptom in her statement: “My self-awareness has increased and my self-flagellation has lessened… I am not feeling self-hatred; I do not harm myself anymore. My relationships with my friends are better.” And she further states: “Before I felt like nothing could get better now I am aware of why I have been disliked. Some of it I have earned, some is because my self-absorption has been misunderstood. I feel I have more understanding of how I can be someone who can care and be cared for.”
Rigidity / Laxity
Rigidity is expressed somewhat in this case. Certainly she chose a spiritual path that is very rigid and somatically she had some cervical complaints. She tells us: “I am really constricted; I am shy and mistrustful. I don’t trust I will be liked or treated kindly, or be good enough. I feel constriction in my chest and stomach and abdomen.” And we see healing and repair of her wound after the remedy when she says: “The remedy has allowed me to see Sam as a good man.”
Danielle’s congestion can be seen in her constipation, sinuses and fibroids. When she first came in she says: “I have constipation, it has been life long, and I have hemorrhoids. I can go days without passing much.” And in the retake: “My physical symptoms feel so much like my mental process. I feel blocked.” Danielle also states a common Milk remedy aggravation: “If I drink milk my eyes and sinuses swell…”
Almost two and a half years later Danielle continues to confirm a successful prescription in her exclamation: “I almost didn’t come because I feel so great. Immediately after taking the remedy, my constipation was better, my feet were better and so was my depression.”
Fullness / Emptiness
This theme can sometimes be seen as bulimia. My patient had issues with eating too much, and eating for comfort in a way she felt was problematic.
Symmetry / Asymmetry
We often see a sidedness in Milk remedies, such as Lac caninum’s headaches, which can alternate from side to side. This symptom is a reflection of a deeper theme of duality: two sides, self and family, selflessness and selfishness. We see this represented in Danielle’s statement: “There is a side of me that I have been incorporating. I want to be called Danni. I am becoming fierce. I can be nurturing but it is not my strong point. Before I would have been embarrassed about this, now it just is.”
The first book of Massimo Mangialavori’s Materia Medica Clinica will be published soon and is titled “The Milk Remedies”. It includes a natural history, Materia Medica and two cases for each remedy. The Materia Medica includes a list of common ailments, an in depth exploration of the motifs, fundamental and characteristic themes, and coherent groups of symptoms and an Organization of Personality, and Differential Diagnosis for each remedy. The remedies included in this book are: Lac caninum, Lac felinum, Lac vaccinum defloratum, Lac equinum, Lac caprinum, Lac delphinum, Lac glama, Lac asinum, Lac ovis, Lac suis, Lac lupinum, Lac leoninum, Lac humanum and Lac loxodonta Africana.
..."oblativity", a term used by some psychoanalysts to designate a mature form of love in which one loves the other person for what he is rather than for what he can give….oblativity - "everything for the other."
Deep meditation; Frankie's
Frightened dog; Bambara
Trapped under the ice; SueC
Keywords: depression. abusive father, unworthiness, inadequate, socially inept, desire milk, aggravation from milk, lack of mothering, overly helpful, lack of boundaries