Author: Pieter Kuiper
Using dreams in the analysis of a case By Pieter Kuiper.
We tend to underestimate the action of our remedies. Some of us pretend that when a remedy is not well selected it doesn't act at all, in other words we wouldn't notice any action. This is not what I see. Almost every remedy tends to create order and it depends largely upon the perception of the homeopath to be really able to see that.
Of course we are very much interested in the main complaints of the patient. But in chronic cases we often see a kind of 'silent incubation period' of recovery, which may choose a kind of unexpected course, which is an important diagnosis as such. My main tool to register that (apart from our normal inquiry of the registered 'symptoms') is a lucid perception of the dreams and the life situations patients encounter after taking the remedy. We should investigate every change and wonder whether this is a change to a better state of health.
The following case may illustrate how the sequence of a few consultations in the period of almost one year teaches us more about the evaluation of the depth of pathology and how a gradual cure is not only reflected in the amelioration of symptoms but especially in the dreams. We often want to achieve complete cures and 'immediate results' without realizing that the steps taken in between may be miracles on their own and that every step will need careful understanding. In our world we are dealing more and more with deep psychological processes in our patients. We often must be able to really perceive that and not seldom share it. We hardly read one word about these matters in whatever older writings we know, be it of Kent, Clarke or Hahnemann or even more recent ones like Vithoulkas. With this case I hope to give some example what kind of psychological contents can be responsible for a woman who struggles with her supposed infertility. It may be (as just a moment in time) one of the many illustrations of how our profession and perception is gradually changing.
Female, Laura G., 33 years.
Her main complaint is that she cannot get pregnant and she's trying for 6 years already. The IVF- procedure starts in a few months, but she is hopelessly anticipating this. For 6 times already she tried artificial insemination and alternative medications like Oenothera. "Gradually it's like the pressure is increasing." She's working as a police officer. Have irregular schedules and many night shifts. Menses: many cramps, even with vomiting (2). Those cramps were gradually increasing during the years. It's also present in her family: aunts, mother, they all have cramps with vomiting in connection with their cycle. Menarche at her 5th. Menses was regular from the beginning but already painful then. The cramps are in the uterus, ovariae and inguinal region during the first day of her menses (2) and also before her menses (2). Concomitant with that she has a tired and cramping feeling in the sacral region before the menses and during the 1t day. There is also a 'hardening' in/of the mammae before the menses. To relieve the pains somewhat she uses painkillers (Naproxen). Warmth is agreeable, but does not >. She lies with the knees drawn up. Likes to sleep on her abdomen. After the ovulation she feels the contours of the uterus and a kind of pressure on it. Then she also is conscious of the ovariae.
"On the 1st day of my menses I feel a mean and cunning pain as if somebody is scratching inside like you are getting goose-flesh from it. In the past when I had kidney stones (left side) I had that too. That feeling is also like a cramping feeling. I had to cope with that and not give up. I used a warm- water-bottle then. On her 18th she started using the birth control pill and then it was better. When I stopped after some time everything was like before." Physically the menses asks a lot of her, like her work. "And I know it is not good for me, physically." She describes her former family situation as lovingly. She had a good youth, but she doesn't remember well. Her father is an economic adviser and her mother is a manager in 'home-care'. She has two younger sisters, one of which just had a baby. She admires her mother because she always managed to do a full-time job and the family as well. She 'worked herself up' from a minor secondary school to higher social work and president of a Company council. "She has such a lot of energy! She is the hard working type. Come on, don't complain, and go on! My mother was the oldest child of five in a farmers family and was never allowed to study."
During primary school she already chose to become a police officer. She always wanted that. She likes the changes, people, challenges, and excitement. When she was 6 years old she and her family were on holiday in France together with a foster-child. She fell ill during that holiday with trombopenia. The symptoms were epistaxis, ecchymoses and petechiae. The doctor in France suspected her to have leukaemia. He did not say anything but they kept her there for 7 weeks in hospital. While being alone there the medical staff did several punctions of the bone marrow and she had to be held by 5 adult people. Also she remembers examinations with her slip held down. Her mother visited her regularly, but still she felt betrayed because she had to undergo quite a lot alone. Her mother also thinks she made some mistakes there and then. After this period her foster-sister was placed any- where else and after that she was very anxious she would also be taken elsewhere.
Fat food <. She may have diarrhoea after whipped-cream. Fatty milk and Camembert will also give rumbling in the abdomen and diarrhoea. All milk- and animal-fats <. Aversion fat and meat (2), sweets (). Desires chips, savoury food and cheese.
Always had anaemia like her mother. Lots of nosebleeds and ecchymoses after jar. Easily tired, has to go to bed in time, because loss of sleep < (2). Chilly, coldness of feet in winter. Difficult to keep warm during the night shifts. After night shifts she may get leucorrhoea often (2), which gives cramping in the uterus. Leucorrhoea is whitish and transparent. No itching. Gets easily coryza with lachrymation. [Seems to have a slight swelling of the thyroid gland].
Viburnum opulus 200K (2-7-1999).
After the 1st remedy she gets a throat infection which she used to have when she was young. However, she had this treated by antibiotics and had a vaginitis thereafter. Was rather disappointed by her husband: "I've got something and you bet: he's not there."
For years already she has a feeling that she is standing at the bus stop, as if she's not progressing and she has to pull her husband with his heels through the sand. Menses lasted shorter than usual, but the pain didn't ameliorate.
Magnesium phosphoricum 200K (3-8-'99).
After another remedy her menses were less profuse. Apart from that the pain was much less and also the pains in the back before and during menses are gone. Especially the scratching pain during the menses is not anymore there. However, she withdraws a few days before the menses and she likes to be on her own. She didn't get vaginal discharge. Still has < by fat food.
She starts telling about dreams she got: She holds the baby of her sister and falls down the stairs. This happened actually when she was young in her grandmothers house when she was staying there. When she is descending the stairs in the dream with the baby and she is falling she thinks: "Oh, the baby!" She extra tries to hold the banisters because it's such a creepy stairs! She has to do everything alone. In reality her sister has such a creepy staircase also. I ask her about her own birth. She was lying reversed and was rather small. It was a home-birth and she was put aside for quite some time (had meconium) without her mother taking any initiative to have her.
Borax 200K (27-9-1999).
She starts telling about her dreams: It is about a colleague in the police of the Mobile Unit, who fell off a motor cycle. She was consoling him with the words: "It's only your nice wallpaper. He only had some grazes on his legs. Within the MU he is her best mate. She regularly dreams of uniforms, this keeps on coming back. She experiences much in uniform.
In another dream she is in a big empty house on the 1st floor. She is in a woollen army-uniform. The house is neat and clean. She's looking outside through the window. She has an army-green small backpack (Nomad), which is her husbands. Inside there is a baby. The baby is looking ill with rings under the eyes. She has a gigantic automatic gun with her. Outside she sees a kind of sandy-street and she perceives several people with the same army-green-uniforms. These are people of her 'side'. She was mowing them down with that gun as if this was her work. They kept on appearing; she couldn't keep up with it. She herself got a grazing shot, but she was not wounded. At once she is downstairs and she is trusting somebody completely there. It is a long fellow and he resembles her husband. Then she passes this child with the backpack (that was good). She then walks out the door triumphantly and satisfied. Another dream: Again she's in uniform, in her office at work. There is a Surinam colleague of her who is very black. He is sitting next to her in the patrol car. He relates that he has got four children and he is very happy. She comes on a crossing of roads. She sees a car with all the doors open. On a corner of the crossing a woman is lying in pillows. A doctor is sitting at her side and he tells that she is having a child and that it may still take some time before the labour sets in so that it will be possible to take her to the hospital in the meantime.
During the consultation she tells that she experiences hardly any pain during her menses. She only had a candida infection after a night shift on duty. She is also tired after every 'cycle' of having hope and the experience of not being pregnant. In her youth she was always tired. She had the idea of being a 'weak puppet'. Mercurius vivus 200K (23-11-1999).
Again she comes with a dream: Now she dreams about a house with several floors. About a staircase to the cellar. There were knives on the middle-floor and on the way to the cellar. Dangerous! She is standing there again in uniform. There is somebody who cannot be found. Furthermore in the dream there is a kind of neutral (androgyny, neither male nor female) type, who is being accompanied by a man and a woman. The three of them went to the cellar, over the path with the knives. She herself in the dream was curious, but, being in uniform, she didn't have the authority or competence to go with them, especially not to go to the cellar. The house has much wood, is very cosy and warm and there were a lot of flat knives. I ask her what knives are meaning to her. Knives mean danger to her! Like fights on the streets, which she is experiencing often, when she's on duty, like broken bottles of glass with which people on the street can use as a threat to fight with.
Regarding her menstrual complaints she mentions not to have any pain at all, neither in the hypogastrium, nor in the back. Her menses is regular and also the hardness of the mammae has gone. Still can have easy ecchymoses. During the consultation we are dealing with the flashbacks of the past when we are discussing her dream.
When her mother brought her to the doctor in France, when she was 6, there was the threat of having to go to hospital. First they isolated her in hospital behind glass walls. She didn't know what was going on. Her parents were afraid she would die. Her mother only visited her for one hour and had to be behind the glass wall in the beginning. She herself felt fear and anger. "What are they going to do!? It's so mean and cunning, not honest!" She saw a screen standing and asked whether they would use this for her and they denied it and reassured her. But the day after they used it for the bone-marrow punctions. Every day she got injections against her will. She developed a great suspicion. Also towards her mother: "Don't touch me!" She felt very betrayed, also by her mother. Therefore as a child she used to rather play at the neighbour-woman than at home with her own mother.
Mercurius corrosivus MK (6-1-2000).
The dreams keep coming: Dream of a train, which is delayed. The train is riding from the police- academy to her home, together with her buddy Frank. They are in a queue. He has a baby in his hands, which he found there. Another dream of a tunnel with in the end a beautiful landscape.
A third dream: It was during the war. It was her task to keep a certain street closed, together with her husband according to a certain plan. It was closed with tanks. At last the street got free and open. She was in charge of that. In a dream she saw a girl like when she was small. The girl was going to leave (this is her former foster-sister). She brings her to the garden exit. Then she leaves. In this dream she cried endlessly.
Mercurius dulcis MK (29-5-2000).
She experiences sighs of grief after taking the remedy for 3 days. During the 3 months after the Mercurius dulcis she was brooding to leave the police, because she realised this has not been suiting her life physically and neither covered what she really wanted in her life. In August '00 she actually stopped as a police officer and started a study as a communication coach in health care.
Apart from many other possible medications like Arnica or Ferrum, this case is only presented as an illustration of the analysis of the development of a case with the aid of dreams.
We notice that during the treatment she is strongly dealing with her emotional defences. It may be clear that she created and needed her defences in her youth, when she was 6 (for example) to protect herself. In a way subconsciously she has been timelessly experiencing her world as a threat and a war in which it is necessary to arm herself. Her early desire to join the police in fact was an extension and a confirmation of that. In the dreams we can see how she is dealing with that issue and how this may need the right understanding and suitable remedies. So first we may analyze the development of a case by just the content of the dreams. Dreams can secondly be used as an important and true tool to work with during the consultation. It is also a valid kind of diagnosis (we saw various positive hints for the prognosis), with the very important condition that the homeopath doesn't allow any form of theorising with the dreams. An important third side of the dreams may be a kind of emotional discharge or expression. And of course I do not pretend to be complete with these three points. A crucial aspect of my consultations is the importance of the words the patients use in their expressions and descriptions of their symptoms and experience of their situations. For example the expressions of this woman of the menstrual pains are mean and cunning. She also used the word 'false'. These words turned out to exactly cover the youth situation where she used exactly the same words. In that way we see that pains are unconscious 'discharges' of old grieves and emotional trauma's. The way these are experienced in the 'here and now' are always expressed by certain words which will cover exactly the corresponding past experiences. These experiences frequently repeat themselves during someone’s lifetime in order to be heard as a symptom.
Another vital point is the truthful perception of dream-symbols. As an example I take the symbol of the uniform which repeatedly is experienced in the dream. I never use any book or dream dictionary to understand the dreams. The only thing I do is trying to understand what content to the symbol is given to it by the dreamer. It may take months to really discover this together. But you know when you know, so to say. In this case I started to ask her how she felt in the dream in the uniform. She said that she didn't have any authority or competence to do certain things, like going to the cellar. It reminded her strongly of the ever occurring side in her mother which she despised so strongly, namely that her mother did not stand up for her during the crucial moments in her life: during and after birth and in the hospital. She was left alone in a threatening situation. Her mother said that in these situations she thought she was not allowed to and was very hesitant to really get closer to her. So the formal side in her mother (the uniform) predominated the natural motherly instincts to love and care. We could say that this is the case in the mother and in Laura. After all she chose for the police when she was very young (about her 9th). Strikingly her mother always resisted this and in that way she confirmed and strengthened the problem, not at all being conscious of what was really going on. Laura's instinct simply needed this uniform with its whole content as an emotional protection, as we both have understood during the consultations. She was not allowed with the uniform to go to the cellar! The cellar clearly had to do with male and female (the bodily cellar) and her discovered path with the knives. I leave it to the reader to further understand all the symbolic implications. The fact in the later stages of the treatment that she left the police altogether is (in this respect) a very important symptom of healing.
It is so striking to see that someone's dream life is so often in line with reality. In fact there are no boundaries at all. So, understanding a symbol is not only understanding a concept, but it is a matter of understanding the person as a unique whole. A second example is the staircase. Of course such a symbol has many archetypal meanings and these may give us all kind of ideas to understand her situation. Nevertheless it is astonishing how, in different life periods, she encountered her own fate 'in reality' in dealing with stairs or staircases. And more in particular how she was prone to fall or had a fear to fall into her cellar (for how long already?). So our question is, what/whom are we treating?
Now after each consultation it is important to see whether the case develops in the right direction, based on the development of the symptoms. What we saw in Laura's case is not only a dramatic improvement of her menstrual cycle, being an important condition in cases of infertility. Therefore we must also try to incorporate the perception of other dimensions of the 'state' of the patient which in this case is a series of dreams with very important expressions. In that way an analysis whether the case will develop itself in the right direction may include a truthful way of understanding the dreams also, as I have explained with the symbol of 'the uniform'.
In a situation where somebody does well and dreams are coming like we have described, we can choose to wait, but it is also worth 'experimenting' in really trying to stay with the 'here and now' situation of that moment and see whether a remedy will suit that situation better than the already given one. A kind of standard for me is that if this 'new' and actual situation doesn't have enough similarity with the former situation we have the choice of 'confirming' this change in giving a more 'similar' remedy. This may satisfy the susceptibility of the patient, as H. Roberts called it in "The Art of Cure". Especially when we discover an emotional painful pattern, which keeps on repeating itself in a timeless way, it is very important to consider a remedy which fits exactly that pattern. This is generally far from easy, because this topic is hardly discussed as such in our science. It doesn't mean that I am prescribing in this way in every case. There are many cases in which it is quite natural to just wait. However, we must not hesitate to feel free whenever we are finding ourselves in a much more dynamic situation where patients are in an acceleration of deep subconscious and conscious changes. This way of treating I have also seen in all the 'terminal cases' I have dealt with.
When we start giving our remedies it happens often that patients who tell us never to have had any dreams will start having them. And, if they had any, they tell us not to be able to remember them. After a remedy they usually tell us they are able to remember some. In the above case we see that a good remedy will open the patient up towards the unconscious in general: dreams are coming and are even remembered. In Laura's case these dreams are even regularly coming the night before the consultation! This is an important sign as such and we should use these kind of expressions in the form of dreams. Let us give them the place they earn! In that way I could almost say that I consider symptoms and dreams as a person who needs to be heard and understood in their way.
I didn’t learn from anybody to work with dreams and homeopathy. The available knowledge and rubrics in the repertory are very scarce. We also do not know much of the real mental-emotional indications of our remedies and how to differentiate them with the aid of dreams. Let's all feel free to discover this wonderful inner world of us and be able to really use homeopathy in an even more refined way!
Although Laura may not be pregnant yet, and in that sense this case does not fit the many success- stories, we must not close our eyes for the progress she has made as a woman. As such it is very impressing to see that she developed in such a way that she didn't need the protection any more of 'the uniform' and resigned as a police officer! Maybe this turns out to be a vital step towards her being 'receptive' as a woman. And we could also consider the fact that this problem intrinsically is going on for generations (her mother and aunt also had the same menstrual problems). We often tend to forget this or overlook it. Dreams (and many other dimensions of our perception) often are such a good tool to confirm that we may not underestimate our choice and the beneficial action of all our remedies! Many remedies do sò much more than we are prepared to perceive. But to be really able to use those dimensions of our perception we have to 'only' know ourselves respectively.