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 2011 for intense fears of the dark, water and dogs.
"She absolutely hates getting her face wet," the mother reports. "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 may be easy to think that the child was scared because the mother modeled this behaviour, but let's see how the 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 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.
She is also very sensitive to noise and wakes easily from it.
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, which is very entertaining, but I could see that she was definitely a real handful.
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 she has bad dreams in which something is chasing her.
At the end of the hour I ask the mother if this was how Grace is at home and the answer is affirmative, which might partially explain why her mother, who is also a patient, is so tired all the time.
Inside a Wolf
The mother tells me that Grace often likes to play that she is inside a wolf like Little Red Riding Hood and wants mom 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.
Grace's mother is also a patient, so I was already aware of an interesting remedy connection. She suffers from menstrual issues 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 had recurring dreasm that she was diagnosed with cancer, that she would die, of bodies floating in ditches, decapitated heads and 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."
She would of being lost and alone in a dark, deserted, dangerous neighbourhood.
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.
The Hair of the Dog that bit Him
At this point I asked her if she had ever been bitten by a dog, or 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 then in my office. Her mother answered the phone and immediately denied that such a thing might have happened to her or her husband.
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 such warnings in the 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, also called Hydrophobinum, 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 contributed to her life-long fears and now the problems in her daughter. 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, 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 it indefinitely. 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, as the victim knows what is coming, but now when, and how bad it will be the next time, or if they will even survive. Complete helplessness, just waiting to be attacked.
Often the result is post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. The dream the mother reported is exactly the feeling of a torture victim. She was given a note describing what was about to happen to her, that she would be tortured and killed and that there was nothing she could do about it.
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.
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. Cases are all from her practice, names have been changed, they were published with permission and are intended for education only.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Physician
West Sooke, BC, Canada
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