Author: Devang Shah
I am not free to do what I want: a case of Sepia
by Devang Shah
This is a case of thirty-four-year-old female, a yoga instructor by profession. She was diagnosed with vasomotor rhinitis which she had for the past three months. She was into the fourth month of pregnancy when I saw her first in February, 2014.
The patient said that her nose was frequently blocked and was worse on lying down, from dust, and in a cold environment. She felt better when she exercised, did aerobics, and climbed stairs. This rhinitis resulted in tremendous fatigue, as a consequence of which she found it very difficult to remain motivated and energized, a must in her profession.
She felt a lot of anger towards her mother. She described herself as a person who brooded about small things and would weep easily. She had to take a lot of responsibility at an early age due to which she felt that she was forced to grow up very early on in life. She did not have her freedom, the freedom to choose what she wanted to do. This led to lot of pent-up anger towards her mother. She loved to be active, doing exercises like aerobics, but her rhinitis drained her of all energy, restricting her from being active. She is afraid to be herself in front of others.
At this point, she was asked to describe her dreams.
Patient: I dream of anger and resentment towards my mother. Running in the forest to escape from evil.
It was apparent that the issue of anger and resentment, which the patient had at a conscious level, is emerging in her dreams as well.
Devang Shah (D): Describe this issue with your mother?
P: My mother is a very controlling type and has made my life miserable. She would threaten and hit us.
D: What was your experience then?
P: I felt powerless, vulnerable, and helpless. There was no control in my life. I felt that the relationship with my mother should have given me comfort, security, and warmth.
D: Describe this comfort, security, and warmth?
P: It is physical affection, connection, like snuggling in a blanket, cozy, protected, warm and secure. Like a vault with a thick strong layer that no one can penetrate.
D: Describe cozy and protected?
P: Curled up, in a safe zone of comfort, no harm.
D: What you mean by ‘harm’?
P: Someone doing something to me; forcing me, lifting me.
D: Talk more about this harm.
When asked about the harm, her memory goes to the experience of her childhood where she was scared of robbers.
D: What did you experience there?
P: They can violate our space; they can rob, kill or rape me. Robbers made me feel vulnerable.
The experience of vulnerable for her is of being under power, helpless like a baby who is innocent, dependent and delicate. If this is her core experience then it has to be seen in other areas of her life as well, so I ask a question which is not related to this aspect – a very lateral question.
D: What items in news, movies and serials are you sensitive to?
P: I cannot see violence, someone hitting someone, heartless people, a weaker person being hit by stronger one.
At this point, she immediately connects with her trauma as a child where her mother used to hit her. Once, she saw a man hitting a nine-year-old on the road and after this sight she developed fever for four days. The feeling that people can be so violent and heartless is something that she cannot see.
We see in a completely different situation of her life that she comes back to the same experience of ‘weak and strong, victim and aggressor’, which is the theme of Animal kingdom.
The patient has desire for fish, and an aversion to idli (a South Indian fermented dish made of rice). She has a strong thirst for water and is chilly.
Understanding the case
We see the experience as vulnerable, powerless, and helpless, like a delicate baby and wanting to be safe, secure, cozy, protected like in a vault and warm. There is someone who is controlling or harming her. This is the language of a victim. An aggressor wants to harm and the victim experiences vulnerability and powerlessness and wants to be in safe secure protected zone of comfort. This points to the Animal kingdom.
Once the kingdom is clear, we go on to analyze the subkingdom. Her experience is of feeling vulnerable, powerless, helpless, delicate, harm versus protection, safe, secure, cozy and warmth. The particular sub-kingdom that corresponds to this is the mollusks.
The mollusks are soft bodied animals covered by a shell. The softness or delicateness of their bodies makes them vulnerable to the external world; as result they have a protective covering, the shell, which provides them with safety and security. Mollusks are further divided into gastropoda, cephalopoda, and bivalves. Some evolved mollusks have lost their shell and hence are very mobile.
Each subkingdom of the mollusks has their individual features. In this case, the kingdom and subkingdom were very clear. The question was which mollusk to prescribe. Here the symptoms were well represented, too, pointing directly to Sepia.
Roger van Zandvoort, Complete Repertory, Mac Repertory, 8.2.01, Professional, Kent Homoeopathic Associates
We see Sepia coming up most prominently in the Repertorisation and it belongs to the mollusk subkingdom of remedies. On reading Rajan Sankaran’s ‘Soul of Remedies’, we see: “The main feeling of the Sepia woman is that she is forced to undertake things opposed to her intentions, to do what she doesn't want to do. It is a chronic situation in which she has been dominated and not allowed to have her way. She feels forced to accept situations against her will, because of her feeling of not being good enough. This makes her miserable and she feels unfortunate.”
She felt controlled by her mother, unable to have her own freedom. She was forced to on a take lot of responsibilities at an early age.
Sepia has also the theme of rape (dreams of rape).
The main fear with robbers was of being robbed but more important was of being raped, violating my space.
Prescription: Sepia 200C
She received Sepia 200 twice a day for two days a month for period of nine months. In the first three months, there were a couple of acute relapses of the cold, which subsided with a repeat of the remedy.
After six months, the cold was more than 80% better. Her energy levels improved; she could sleep well without any nasal congestion. She delivered a baby boy by normal birth. More importantly, the sensation of being controlled reduced by half. Her relationship with her mother improved so that she was able to cope with her controlling behavior more easily. She is enjoying a life free of vasomotor rhinitis.
 Rajan Sankaran, The Sensation in Homoeopathy, second Edition, 2005, Vital Sensation and the Kingdoms, Miasms, Homoeopathic Medical Publishers
 Rajan Sankaran, Survival – Mollusks, Homoeopathic Medical Publishers
Keywords: vasomotor rhinitis, resentment towards mother, vulnerable, fear of robbers and violence, mollusc