THE ANALYSIS OF A DYNAMIC TOTALITY SEPIA. The technique which was used for the interpretation of the pathogenesis of a drug is in many respects similar to the way in which analytical psychology unravels the symbolic context of the unconscious material of patients as found in dreams, visions and associations.

In an attempt to integrate the diversified material of provings and clinical symptoms into an organic whole, we proceed on the hypothetical assumption that the diversity of physical, chemical, biologic, morphologic and behavior characteristics of a potential medicine-namely, a substance of mineral, plant or animal origin-represents but different phases of expression of one and the same formative functional entity; we assume that this same functional archetypus also manifests itself in the mental and somatic symptoms of a proving as well as in the clinical disorders of the patient.

In order to understand the diversity of symptoms as a part of a functional whole, one has to integrate them into the general context not only of biologic but also of psychologic functions. A short discussion of some relevant findings of modern analytical psychology will be in order, therefore, to assure a full understanding at certain points. Jung’s approach to psychology may strike many a reader as rather strange. Yet, in a truly surprising way, what formerly was a maze of unrelated and often contradictory details of provings and clinical findings becomes a chain of logically related events once a ratio is applied to it which stems from a deeper understanding of the human soul.

In order to grasp the essence of the principle underlying all the different manifestations, the most outstanding characteristics or unusual features are used as starting points. Those key symptoms through which we try to unravel and interpret the context of related pharmacodynamic, mental and physical functions may be symptoms of the patient (e.g., the aversion to company of Natr. mur), physiochemical properties of the substance itself (e.g., the luminescence of Phosphor), or life expressions of the plant or the animal (e.g., the dryness of Lycopodium or the production of the ink cloud in Sepia).

In the case of Sepia, our attention is drawn to its extraordinary configuration and the contradictory phenomena of light and darkness which the animal produces.

The cuttlefish (Sepia off.) belongs to the family of mollusks which is comprised also of clams, oysters, mussels and snails. All mollusks represent variations of a definite basic form pattern, namely, a soft, gelatinous, unsegmented body encased in a calcareous, horny shell. The metamorphosis of this form pattern culminates in an extreme polar opposition of oyster and cuttlefish, with the snail holding an intermediary position.

Of the whole family, the oyster has the most undifferentiated body and possesses no limbs whatsoever. The animal is completely encased in its shell and is absolutely immobile, since it is attached to rocks and stones. Its only visible life expression consists in the slight opening and closing of the shell. The snail is more differentiated and has a semblance of limbs which it can pull in and out of the shell. It is also capable of a, however proverbially sold, locomotion.

The cuttlefish, in turn, goes to the opposite extreme of emancipating itself from the passive immobility of the oyster. Its life activity centers in the relatively overdeveloped limbs which cannot even be withdrawn into the shell at all. It has a pair of fins which allow it rapid locomotion; eight arms and two tentacles are attached directly to the oral opening upon the head. The tentacles are shot out together with lightning speed, acting like a pair of tongs, when prey is to be caught.

Comparing the different configurations of the shell-encased body, basic morphological model underlying the mollusks, one may feel that this prototype undergoes a process of aversion: from the simplest pattern as expressed in the oyster an expansion takes place which reaches its culmination in the cuttlefish. The cuttlefish is an expanded, extroverted oyster; the oyster an introverted cuttlefish. The dominant tendency of the configuration of Sepia strikes us like an overturning of the form pattern from which it evolved, a rebellion against the shell- enclosed, soft, immobile and impassive quietness.

The formative principle, as expressed in the archetypus of the immobilised shell-enclosed jelly represented by the oyster, we find again in the configuration of the human skull which encloses and protects the jelly-like, morphologically relatively undifferentiated brain suspended and immobilised in the cerebrospinal fluid; and in the pregnant uterus enclosing and protecting with its rigid shell the but gradually differentiating fetal substance. The analogous tendency of function lies in the general ability of walling off and protecting the inside against the outside.

Biologically, this means resistance against infection and the tightening of the tissues against the overflow of liquids. When this function fails we have a susceptibility to infection and the exudative diathesis, both of which are typical for the patient who needs Calc. carb. (potentized oyster shell). Psychologically, introversion and walling oneself off mean separating and individualizing oneself towards the world from without and from within. Even as the conscious function of the brain is dependent upon its being walled off by the hard skull, so in the functional activity of the soul the personal consciousness, the ego, emerges from the primordial chaos of the unconscious by the process of walling off and separating.

The correctness of this interpretation of the dynamic meaning of the pattern of the shell-enclosed jelly seems to be attested by analytical psychology. An analogous symbol pattern appears as the alchemistic “unum vas” or “hermetic vessel” containing the prima materia, the undifferentiated creative matrix. In dreams we find it represented by a vessel filled with a gelatinous mass. All these patterns are variations of the same symbol which represents the source of physical or spiritual creativeness from which the central self can strive for its expression out of the amorphous. Therefore the “vas” principle is inherent in the head but also, representing the matrix, in the uterus, the place of physical creation. As a general tendency this form complex also represents the earthly, physical and, particularly, the feminine principle.

This principle in its purest, undisturbed form is embodied in the oyster, as is attested by the pathogenesis of Calcarea carb. The dynamic life expression of Sepia, on the other hand, which turns introversion into extroversion, thus basically rebels against the contemplative, passive, protected feminity.

Yet, an absolutely complete overthrow of the form pattern from which it originates cannot be accomplished. Even as a half of the cuttlefish’s body must remain within the enclosing shell, in spite of all attempts to break loose, so also the temperamental, sexual and emotional tendencies which one would disown cannot simply be cast off; they can only be slowly and gradually transformed by developing a conscious understanding with which to complement the world of instinctive feeling which is woman’s primary expression and experience. Wherever the gradual expansion gives way to a violent, protesting attitude, suppression takes the place of gradual transformation and pathology arises. Challenge to and suppression of the quiet, contemplative and receptive feminine qualities, symbolized by the “creative vessel,” thus become the keynotes of the Sepia pathology.

However, those qualities, which must suffer suppression, continue in existence and gain, moreover, a negative perverted rule over the manifest functioning. Biologically, the suppressed sex function distorts the whole of the life activities of the body, bringing about circulatory and congestive disorders (stasis), as well as a state of general rigidity and spasticity, involving any voluntary and involuntary muscle group and organ, along with a state of nervous hyperirritability. Emotionally, the suppression of the sexual and feminine traits, leads to anxiety, restlessness, depressive states, opinionated dogmatism and incontrollable, erratic, unreasonable and contradictory neurasthenic conditions.

Specifically, the “masculine protest,” if we may use the psychoanalytic term, makes the woman who suppresses her feminity a bustling, nervous, fidgety and opinionated shrew. The man who would suppress (or fails to develop) his feminine side becomes hardened, mean, egotistical and narrowminded; he may fall victim to unaccountable emotional or even hysterical impulses when the dammed up function suddenly takes its revenge. We shall later see how all these well known Sepia traits find their corroboration in the disturbance of the ductless glands representing the manifestation of the same process in its biological metamorphosis.

In passing, we may point to the fact that the nonacceptance of one’s being is the expression of a highly individualistic attitude. Probably upon this fact rests the complementary relationship between Sepia and Natrum mur., the latter representing the emancipating force of the individual personality. In differentiating the two, one might feel, however, that the Natrum mur. personality tends to be asocial in consequence of finding himself emotionally isolated by circumstances and inner needs; Sepia’s isolation bears much more the mark of either deliberate withdrawal and willful moodiness or of utter vital exhaustion demanding solitude to nurse one’s wounds.

The problematical attitude towards the feminine principle, as expressed in the morphological archetype, is complemented by a similar polar tension in the biological functioning in respect to light and darkness.

The following is a quotation from a description of the cuttlefish:

“Particularly when irritated and during copulation a dazzling display of colours takes place…. During the fecundation period the female swims at the surface at night, emitting quite a bright luminescence. Males rush on her like luminous arrows…. When alarmed, a cloud of black ink is injected into the water… Originally it was thought that the ink

formed a smoke screen behind which the animal retreated. Recent observations, however, suggest that the jet of ink when shot out does not diffuse rapidly but persists as a definite object in the water and serves as a dummy to engage the attention of the enemy while the cuttlefish changes its colour and darts off in a different direction”.

This ink, which in its dried form furnishes our medicines, is essentially melanin and, interestingly enough, has a very high content of sulphur and calcium salts.

Sepia thus has the quality of luminescence. It shares this ability to generate light with the inorganic Phosphor. In a former essay, the pathogenesis of Phosphor in the human organisation was explained as the disturbed metamorphosis of the light principle throughout the soul and body levels. Even as on the morphological plane Sepia evolves the polar antithesis to the creative feminine principle of the oyster, so upon the functional level it incorporates the activity of light, yet also develops its polar counterpart, the dark double.

The study of Phosphor showed that on that on the soul level light manifests itself as consciousness, intellect and self control; biologically it expresses itself in general vitality, blood formation and firmness of the physical structure with a particular effect upon the adrenal glands and the portal as well as the respiratory system. This pattern is largely shared by Sepia which, clinically, is complementary to Phosphor.

Darkness, on the other hand, represents the unconscious, feminine, earthly principle. What, however, underlies the force process by which the dark double, the direct antithesis to the light forces inherent in Sepia, is projected into the foreground? It is suggested in another essay that we might hypothetically consider biologic and morphologic phenomena as determined by nature’s tendency to give objective form in its manifestations to tendencies which we otherwise experience through symbols; thus nature, the great symbolizer, would invite an approach of interpretation analogous to the technique of analytical psychology. If we proceed upon this hypothesis, we may say that under stress the darkness (namely, the unconscious) is projected and occupied the foreground. The individual as we know him “changes colour” and becomes completely removed from our sight.

In a most interesting and fascinating way C. Jung describes this occurrence as an actual psychological situation:.

All of a man’s traits become visible under the stress of an emotion which affords the ideal conditions for the manifestation of unconscious contents. Under its possession one is “besides oneself” and the unconscious gets a chance to occupy the foreground.(Italics are mine-E.W.) As a matter of fact the emotion is the intrusion of an unconscious personality…..To the primitive mind, a man who is seized by a strong emotion is possessed by a devil or a spirit…The character that summarizes a person’s uncontrolled emotional manifestation consists, in the first place, of his inferior qualities or peculiarities.

Even people we like and appreciate suffer from certain imperfection of character that have to be taken into the bargain. When people are not at their best such flaws becomes clearly visible. I have called the inferior or less commendable part of a person the shadow.(Italics are mine-E.W)…But the shadow is not all that becomes manifest in emotional disturbance; and it is not sufficient to explain why a man has the rather definite feeling that “he is not himself” or that “he is beside himself.” There is at such times a peculiar strangeness about a man, which we positively dislike to attribute to him in our ordinary thought of him……

The strangeness is due to the emergence of a different character, (Italics are mine-E.W.) one that we hesitate to ascribe to the ego personality…If we compare a number of emotional events, we can easily see that the same character reappears in every one of them. For this reason we can attribute continuity to the unconscious personality and ascribe to it the emotional intrusions…..

When people are at their best there is not much chance of seeing anything of their other side. But when you observe a man when he is caught in a mood you find him to be a different person. The observer who has sharpened his eyes and acquired a good deal of practical experience begins to discover symptoms of the man in the woman and the woman in the man. Sometimes the changes is quite remarkable; a man who is ordinarily altruistic, generous, amiable and intelligent becomes, when a certain mood seizes him, a slightly mean, nastily egotistical and illogically prejudiced character.

A woman of an usually kind and peaceable disposition becomes an argumentative, obstinate, narrowminded shrew. It is easy to observe that woman at a more advanced age develop masculine qualities, develop a mustache, acquire a rather acute and sometimes obstinate mind and often develop a deeper voice. Men of advanced age, on the contrary become mellow, “lovely” old men, soft, kind to children, sentimental and rather emotional. Their anatomical forms become rounded, they take interest in family and homelife, in genealogy, gossip, and so on. It is by no means rare for the wife to take over business responsibilities in later life while the husband plays merely a helpful role……..

Should you study this wide experience with due attention, and regard the “other side” as a trait of character, you will produce a picture that shows what I mean by the “anima,” the woman in a man, (Italics are mine-E.W.) and the “animus,” the man in a woman. (Italics are mine-E.W.).

It may strike the reader that my description of the shadow does not markedly differ from my picture of the anima. This is due to the fact that I have spoken only of the immediate and superficial aspects of these figures.

It is, however, just this “immediate and superficial aspect” in which the “shadow” is still conjoined to the contra-sexual soul impulse with which we deal in the Sepia phenomenology. If we use Jung’s terminology, the “shadow” denotes man’s “after darker ego,” namely, the inferior, unacceptable, undeveloped or suppressed part of his being. It has found its symbolic representations in the figures of Satan, the devil, the “dark double, the spirit or demon of evil, Shakespeare’s Caliban, etc.

Such a “dark double” is literally produced by the “emotional eruption” of the cuttlefish. The anima or animus with which the shadow appears conjoined in this immediate superficial aspect is the heterosexual psychic driving impulse. Jung stresses the fact that the driving and leading personality aspect of everybody’s unconscious soul life bears the character marks of the opposite sex; within the unconscious it thus performs a function which is balancing and complementary to the manifest, conscious attitude.

The following quotation from analytical literature may be helpful for a better understanding:

The archetypal figure of the soul image stands for the respective contrasexual portion of the psyche, showing partly how our personal relation thereto is constituted, partly the precipitate of all human experience pertaining to the opposite sex…The soul image is a more or less firmly constituted functional complex and the inability to distinguish one’s self from it leads to such phenomena as those of the moody man, dominated by feminine drives, ruled by his emotions, or of the rationalizing, animus-obsessed woman who always knows better and reacts in a masculine way, not instinctively.

A will strange to us makes itself within us at certain times, which does the opposite of what we ourselves would want or approve. It is not necessarily that this other will does the evil; it also may will the better and be experienced then as a guiding or inspiring higher being, as a guardian spirit or genius in the sense of the Socratic “daimonion”.

Just as the anima is not merely a symbol and expression of the “snake,” of the dangers of the drives waiting their chance for seduction in the dark of the unconscious but at the same time signifies man’s light and inspiring guide, leading him onwards, not downwards, so is the animus not only the “devil of opinions,” the renegade from all logic, but also a productive, creative being albeit not in the form of masculine productiveness but as fructifying work as “logos spermatikos.”

As the man gives birth to his work out of his inner feminity as a rounded whole and the anima thereby becomes his inspiring muse, so the inner masculinity of the woman often brings forth creative germs able to fertilize the feminine in the man….If the woman has once become conscious of this, if she knows how to deal with her unconscious and allows herself to be guided by her inner voice, then it will largely depend upon her whether she will be the “femme inspiratrice” or a rider of principles who always wants to have the last word, whether she will become the Beatrice or Xantippe of the man.

What, now, does the blending of the “shadow” with the “animus” or “anima” mean” When one disapproves of certain of one’s qualities, the reaction is usually suppression, rather than a patient acceptance of one’s dark sides, transforming and out growing them gradually by furthering the underdeveloped positive qualities.

By virtue of suppression, the negative qualities persist and continue in the unconscious as the shadow; they may distort and poison the unconscious soul life by merging with and engulfing the heterosexual complementary personality which is destined to be the leading force of the soul in its evolution. The animus or anima which might be an impulse leading forward becomes an obsessive force, a fiendish tempter and seducer when “contaminated” with the shadow. In mythology, this psychic process appears described as Lucifer’s fall from heaven into the pit of the earth (the unconscious).

The angle of light (consciousness, Phosphor), by virtue of his challenge and revolt against the evolution of man, is transformed into the prince of darkness (the unconscious) and henceforth as Satan, the adversary and seducer, rules over fire and brimstone (Sulfur: sol-sun, ferre to carry, actually denotes the shackled sun forces within the interior of the earth in volcanic activities, coal deposits, etc). Thus, hell, the realm of Sulfur, is the unconscious, the psychic under world, which all too often is rules not by the sun of the higher self but by that part of our personality which, instead of being given the chance for expression and evolution of its problems, is held in scorn and suppression.

The psychological expression of the erupting “dark double” of Sepia thus is the complementary, heterosexual, psychic factor which by virtue of its suppression taken on a dark character; coalescing with the shadow, it appears as a negative ad fiendish quality. (The peculiar quality of the devilish tempter and seducer, appearing in the vestments of the opposite sex, we find expressed as psychological entities in the “succubi” and “incubi” of the Middle Ages.-E.W.).

Since, as outlined above, the suppressive tendency of Sepia is directed particularly against the feminine character, its particular difficulty will be found more frequently in women with a rather masculine tendency; this fact is fully born out by clinical experience. Also a close functional relationship to Sulphur is to be expected from the above analysis of their psychic correlation.

As though nature wished to summarize the two main direction of the Sepia problem, namely towards the feminine per se, as represented by the oyster shell (Calc. carb.), and towards the psychological expression, as symbolized by the fiendish tempter or Stann (Sulfur), calcium salts and sulphur appear as the two main components of the melanin which makes up our Sepia clouds. Since melanin itself is an intermediary product of adrenalin formation, we are led to seek the physiologic aspect of the above psychological manifestations in disorders of the adrenal function. Endocrinology confirms our hypothesis and furnishes us with the key for the understanding of the correlated physical aspects of the pathology.

It is accepted that sex is determined by a preponderance of male or female producing genes in the combined chromosomes of sperm and ovum after fertilizations; thus, even biologically, every person contains elements of the opposite sex. Even the hormones of ovaries and testes are not considered absolutely sex specific but are only stimulators of a preexistent sex character which is determined by the chromosomal structure. The total personality, as it were, determines sex. The gonads only execute or accentuate it.

While the gonads protect and intensify the preponderant disposition, the adrenal glands, on the other hand, promote the opposite, concealed sex character. The clinical condition called interrenalism (cortico-adrenal tumors) tends to produce feminism in men and masculinism in women. However, the female genetic structure seems to be more susceptible to this transmutation than the male one, since this transformation of the sex character is more frequent in women than in men. This agrees with our finding from the psychological symbol interpretation that Sepia’s “revolt” is against the feminine character. Also, clinically, we have found Sepia as a medicine more often indicated in women than in men.

Edward C. Whitmont
Edward Whitmont graduated from the Vienna University Medical School in 1936 and had early training in Adlerian psychology. He studied Rudulf Steiner's work with Karl Konig, later founder of the Camphill Movement. He researched naturopathy, nutrition, yoga and astrology. Whitmont studied Homeopathy with Elizabeth Wright Hubbard. His interest in Analytical Psychology led to his meeting with Carl G. Jung and training in Jungian therapy. He was in private practice of Analytical Psychology in New York and taught at the C. G. Jung Training Center, of which he is was a founding member and chairman. E. C. Whitmont died in September, 1998.