By Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH
Fear of Dark, Water and Dogs
There can be many reasons for fears in children. Some are more obvious than others. This case required a little detective work.
I saw Grace, a very pretty and lively four-and-a-half-year old girl, in September of 2011 for intense fears of the dark, water and dogs.
"She absolutely hates getting her face wet," the mother reported. "Even as a baby. And she is terrified of dogs. The other day we went to visit someone who had two small dogs that came to greet her at the door and it was the end of the world."
Even as an infant she would scream and cling to the mother if she saw a dog She is also scared of cats, if a little less so.
Interestingly, the mother also had a strong fear of dogs as well as a fear of the dark as a child and somewhat less even now. Now it's easy to think that the child was scared because the mother modeled this behaviour, but let's see how this story unfolds.
Grace has a history of bad dreams and will often come to the mother in the middle of the night. In fact, she has many sleep issues which are disrupting to the family.
She is very sensitive to noise and wakes easily from it.
She has difficult going and falling asleep and the parents have to adhere to a very strict bed and sleep routine or else Grace becomes very hyper, silly and overstimulated.
An Excitable Child
Meanwhile, the action in my office is unfolding. Grace and I are playing with a stuffed rabbit puppet and she is becoming more and more intense and silly, laughing and giggling like mad! She is making all kinds of noises and sounds, it's very entertaining, but she is definitely a real handful.
At the end of the hour I asked the mother if this was how Grace was at home and the answer was affirmative, which might partially explain why the mother, who is also a patient, is so tired all the time.
The girl is very imaginative and looks highly intelligent. She has many imaginary friends and proceeds to tell me all their names.
"She comes up with the greatest names for people," says Mom. Now Grace is making up names for princesses, and telling me all kinds of complicated stories. She also tells me that in her bad dreams something is chasing her.
Inside a Wolf
The mother tells me that Grace often likes to play that she was inside a wolf like Little Red Riding Hood and wanted the mother to cut the wolf open and get her out.
Physically she also suffered from stomach aches due to gas pain, sometimes causing her to writhe in pain. She was a colicky infant.
Already, we have a very interesting story here of a highly intelligent and imaginative child who is hyperexcitable and hyperactive and has distinct fears of water, dogs and the dark.
The mother is also a patient, so I was already aware of an interesting remedy connection. She suffers from severe endometriosis as well as severe weakness with a feeling of withering away. She is easily winded from even slight exertion.
Ever since childhood she has suffered from very violent and disturbing dreams. As a child she dreamed that she was diagnosed with cancer, that she would die, of bodies floating in ditches, decapitated heads, someone attacking her with a knife. She was terrified to go to sleep.
Her current dreams are not much better: " I saw a wolf or dog running towards me, it looked like it was going to devour me, but there was actually an animal standing behind me which it attacked."
"In another dream I was sitting in a restaurant, and someone gave me a letter describing my demise via torture in great detail. There was nothing I could do, I was in that restaurant and I knew what they were going to do to me! Torture and kill me. I was totally helpless and woke horrified."
In another dream she fell off a cliff in a car, crashed and turned completely black, her eyes were black, it was the end of ends. She dreamt of being lost and alone in a dark, deserted, dangerous neighbourhood. She had violent dreams after reading the Old Testament.
Difficult Teen Years
She reported difficult teen years with depression, intense aggression, suicidal ideation, cutting herself, acting out, shoplifting and belonging to a gang.
She told me that she was afraid of going insane as a teen. The parents knew none of it, she was able to still get straight A's in school. She ended up studying psychology and related subjects to help herself and also developed a strong spiritual faith.
Her father was a very angry, authoritarian and controlling man as well as physically and verbally abusive. He used to badly beat her brother.
She has an exaggerated startle reflex with a feeling of someone coming up behind her who is going to attack her.
Now, one might think that this woman's nightmares and fears were perhaps the result of her father's abusive behaviour. But I had another idea.
The Hair of the Dog that bit Him
At this point I asked her if she knew of her parents of grandparents having been badly bitten by a dog and/or ever having had a rabies shot. She offered to call her parents right there and the mother quickly denied it.
I said: "Your mother answered too quickly, go home and ask her again, really ask them both." The next day I received an email, her father had been badly bitten by a dog in his early 20s and given a rabies shot. Bingo!
Years ago my main teacher of homepathy taught us to be persistent, to ask and ask again. He said, if someone answers too quickly they have not really thought about it enough, ask them again.
Now you might ask, what does all this have to do with rabies? Rabies used to be referred to as 'hydrophobia', because an affected animal or person can have a strong aversion and fear of water, even to drink it.
Rabies is transferred through an animal bite, nowadays usually a wild animal like a fox, racoon, or bat, but it used to be common in dogs before widespread vaccination of course and still is in some parts of the world. In Germany, where I grew up it is called 'Tollwut' and I remember being often warned against it and seeing signs with warnings in forests.
One of the first symptoms a person infected with rabies experiences is intense fear and apprehension, followed by excitability, restlessness, loss of muscle function and insanity with intense terror and violence.
Let's look carefully at these two stories for hints. Both mother and daughter were intensely afraid of dogs. The mother dreamt of being attacked by a wolf or dog and of feeling attacked in general.
The child liked to play that she was inside a wolf's stomach and wanted the mother to cut her out. The daughter suffered from bad dreams and the mother from intense, violent nightmares since childhood, including dreams of being tortured. The mother felt as if she was going insane as a teen. She experienced muscular weakness and a feeling of withering away.
Looking through the homeopathic repertories, our data bank for correlating symptoms to remedies I checked the following:
Mind, fear, of the dark
Mind, fear, alone of being
Mind, fear, water of
Delusions, imaginations, attacks and insults, imagines himself
Mind, fear, animals, of dogs
The main remedies were Lyssimun, a homeopathic preparation of rabies, Stramonium, which I have written about here before, Hyscyamus and Belladonna, two other remedies from the nightshade family.
A Dead Giveaway with a Twist
Most homeopaths, even complete beginners, might have been able to solve this case easily based on the three main fears the child had, namely, water, the dark and dogs. A dead giveaway, really.
What made it all so much more fascinating for me was that she wanted to be cut out of a wolf's stomach, the whole history of the mother, and of course, the confirmation of a dog bite and rabies shot in the father.
In fact, that bite and/or shot may have caused the father's bad temper as well as the developmental delay in his other child, the lifelong fears in his daughter and now granddaughter. Once again, I refer the interested reader to my article on epigenetics and homeopathy.
As an aside, a bite from a mad or angry dog, cat or other wild animal can apparently have similar effects to that of an actually rabid one. In this case, it may have been either the actual bite or the rabies shot, or both, which started the whole process.
Rabies is a terrible disease and the vaccination, first created by Louis Pasteur, who accidentally killed quite a few patients with his experiments in the process, see photo, has certainly saved untold lived, however, as with other vaccines, in some cases they can leave energetic or maybe epigenetic imprints on the organism and disturb in indefinitly. This should be food for thought, especially in all cases of mental illness.
A Remedy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Interestingly, lyssinum is one of our great homeopathic remedies for torture victims. Torture creates an intense feeling of apprehension as well as fear, the victim knows what is coming.
Often the result is post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. The dream the mother reported is that of a torture victim exactly. Homeopathy is indicated for a certain feeling which can be caused by the actual situation as well as an energetic imprint as in this case.
Of course the mother also did have an abusive father, so there certainly was an element of actually being abused as well.
Follow-up December 2011
Grace received two doses of Lyssinum 200 CH. The mother had the same remedy as well as other interventions.
Grace is sleeping much better and is not nearly as afraid of the dark. She is less afraid of dogs. I would expect her fears to totally clear over the next year and for her to become less hyperactive.
The mother no longer suffers the feeling of withering away and has more muscular strength. The endometriosis has a way to go, but there is a little less pain.
Most of all she is greatly relieved that all her fears and teenage trouble could be related back to a rabies shot rather than being a deficiency within herself and that her daughter won't have to suffer the same torments that she did. A wonderful resolution.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Physician, Victoria, BC
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Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH is a naturopathic doctor with a special interest in developmental and behavioural disorders, vaccine injuries, homeopathy and CEASE Therapy.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Pediatrics
209-1061 Fort Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 5A1
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10-6 and alternating Saturdays from 10-4