One of the joys of practising medicine, according to the teaching of Hahnemann, is being able to correct the mental state of our patients, to help relieve the fear, anxiety, sadness, fits of anger or impatience from which they suffer. So many people come to years of maturity with lack of self-control, or with some bad mental habit that has persisted from childhood. Faulty parental training is undoubtedly many times responsible for this; but the parents may be suffering from like tendencies and may not realize that they can be eradicated.
It should be our invariable rule, in taking a case, either of an adult or a child, to get the mental symptoms. If we do this with children and make successful prescriptions, we shall help to establish in them a stable mental and emotional condition which will go far toward their lives useful and happy.
Children often suffer much from fear, from bashfulness and lack of self-confidence, and sometimes an attitude of bravado, or of redness, is assumed to cover up these very feelings. A careful physical examination will often reveal some bodily defect, or some fault in function, which is causing the mental suffering; or we may find that it is due to a lack of understanding on the part of the child. Environment, too, comes in for its share in causing mental symptoms.
After the case has been gone over carefully, explanations made and adjustments of environment arranged, there will usually still be need of some medicine to accomplish a cure, and the one which covers both the physical and mental symptoms will do the deed. Let us consider a few remedies.
Under the symptom of “Fear” we meet our old friend Aconite. This is a wild fear with frantic tossing about. Belladonna has fear of imaginary things and wants to run away from them. The child imagines that he sees faces, insects, or animals especially black ones. He is frightened by pain. I remember a case of inflammation of the middle ear with great anxiety which quieted at once under Belladonna.
Fear of downward motion directs our attention at once to Borax. All downward motion is dreaded. Children awake suddenly, without apparent cause, screaming and grasping the sides of the bed. They are excessively nervous, easily frightened by a slight sharp noise, as a cough or sneeze.
A number of remedies appear under the rubric “fear of the dark”, but Cannabis indica and Stramonium are in the largest type. Phosphorus and Pulsatilla are also often helpful with that symptom.
Anger and irritability are symptoms that very frequently call for help Violent bursts of anger may be relieved by Aconite, Belladonna, Chamomilla, Nux vomica, or Staphisagria. Peevishness and irritability may be found under the same remedies, as well as many others. If a child cannot bear to be looked at, we think of the Antimoniums, especially Antimonium crudum, or Chamomilla, China and Cina.
When the disposition is naturally sweet, but has changed to marked irritability, peevishness and despondency, we may see if Tuberculinum does not fit the patient. I remember the case of a boy whom I treated at long distance, and about whom I knew little except that he had had an attack of stupor, followed by a complete change in disposition. Tuberculinum 200 quite restored him to his happy self.
One of the most trying mental traits to deal with is bashfulness a form of timidity. Under that rubric Kent gives only two remedies in largest type, Coca and Pulsatilla. The former would seem less suitable for children, although Hering speaks of its use in marasmus, and Pulsatilla, ofcourse, is timid and weepy. However, there are other drugs for this symptom, especially Baryta carb, with its shrinking from company, lack of desire to play, etc.; Calcium carb., fat and chilly; and Sulphur with its irritability and aversion to being washed.
The obstinate child tries the patience of physician and parent alike. Especially is he annoying to his parents because his obstinacy is usually inherited from one or both of them; and nothing is harder for us to bear than the sight of our own faults in other people!.
Calcium carb. usually occurs to our minds first as we think of a stubborn child stubborn, fat, slow in developing, perspiring head and feet, but we may find the symptom first in a Belladonna case, which later will need its chronic Calcarea, or we may need to go through the succession of Sulphur, Calcarea and Lycopodium.
The very cross, irritable remedies, Chamomilla, Nux vomica and Tarentula have also great obstinacy.
A case of mine that improved greatly under a remedy was that of Billy, a boy of thirteen, the oldest off our children. His parents, brilliant people, were both tall and heavy, and their children were all a good deal larger than their playmates of the same age. This in the first place made Billy feel awkward and he came to think that the other boys did not care for his company. His strength, physical and mental, had not kept up with his growth. In company he was bashful and rude; in school, inattentive; at home, contrary, stubborn, teasing and cross, especially in the morning. Always he lacked self-confidence. Lycopodium was followed by a wonderful change for the better.
As you can see, this paper offers you nothing new. I have only tried to fix your attention for a few minutes on the mental needs of the child and on our ability to meet those needs with the homoeopathic remedy.
DR. J.W. OVERPECK: I would like to mention two cases. Mention was made today of a person who stammered, saying what he couldnt speak he could sing. I knew of such a child. She stammered greatly. She could sing before an audience, but she had great trouble in saying what she wanted to say in an ordinary voice. She would often stop trying to talk and would sing whatever she wanted to say. It was an obstinate case. Euphrasia was the principal remedy.
Another child of about two years of age, who, if he didnt get his wishes or if anybody crossed him, would throw himself on the floor and kick and scream as hard as he could, as though he were crazy. Chamomilla soon brought him out.