Violent children The same day I began writing this article, I read yet another news headline of a German teen, expelled from school, who returned with a gun and murdered 17 people. It seems that these stories of extreme destruction and violence are becoming more and more commonplace. The horror we feel at these kinds of events is profound. It is unimaginable how ones so young become capable of such inhumanity. In an attempt to grasp and make sense of these horrific acts, we tend to oversimplify the causes. By attributing this kind of behavior to environmental factors such as violent movies and video games, or poor parenting, it then seems possible to eradicate the offending agent.
In my clinical experience as a pediatrician, I have observed families that struggled for years with behavioral modification, rehabilitation, psychotherapy, or psychiatric medication, resulting in some improvements in the child's outward behavior. But often the child continued to suffer with the underlying emotional state that drove the behavior.
Deep roots I have come to understand that the root of the problem lies much deeper within the individual. Homeopathy understands that we have inherited predispositions to certain disease, termed "miasms." These "weaknesses" are often inherited from suppressed illness or intense emotional trauma in previous generations. It is this underlying emotional state or miasm that drives the lust for violence.
If the miasm is not addressed, the urge for violence may be suppressed and contained, but lies dormant until it is expressed in deeper problems in the next generation. And the patient and society continue in their suffering. And so it goes.
Homeopathy offers hope! Homeopathy can fundamentally alter the roots of violence (miasm) and relieve a patient from their suffering. I have been privileged to work with such children and their families, and I watch with awe as homeopathy transforms their lives.
A girl who tried to drown her brother One of the first cases I treated was a young girl with a history of extreme violence from a very young age. At age three she had attempted to drown her brother in the bathtub and could not be left alone with her siblings because of repeated attempts to choke them. By age five she was unable to learn in a classroom setting because of extreme restlessness, anti-social behavior, violent hitting and biting. She was mostly in a world of her own, and had no peer relations. Academically, she was significantly behind her classmates, in reading especially.
During the initial visit she entered my office, eyes downcast, sliding her body against the wall. Her hair was matted and unkempt (she became violent if grooming was attempted). She climbed all over the chairs and under desks, never ceasing. During the two-hour interview she avoided all eye contact. She also suffered nightly from intense, violent nightmares of being pursued by monsters. What stood out as peculiar in her case was both an intense fear and a fascination with spiders. Her violent behavior calmed down with rhythmic music, and she loved to dance. She had a very strong craving for whole lemons. She was extremely restless. She slept with her hand covering her face. One of her parents had a strong history of violent behavior spanning generations.
The remedy I gave was Tarentula hispanica 1M. At her one-month follow-up visit she was completely transformed. She was bright-eyed, smiling, with her hair well-groomed. She made consistent eye contact, remained seated for the entire interview, and answered questions openly and coherently. Her violent behavior had ceased. She was no longer having nightmares. At the end of the session she said, " I have peaceful days now."
She continued to improve socially and academically. To date she is happy and well adjusted. She has advanced from special education classes to being evaluated for the gifted program in her school district. Over a period of almost two years she received 2 doses of Tarentula 1M and 2 doses of Tarentula 10M. In the eyes of a conventional pediatrician evaluating this child, the long-term future for her looked bleak. A few doses of homeopathic medication later, and this child and her family can optimistically look forward to a very different future.
Anxious children I recently reviewed the statistics of children suffering from the most common mental illnesses diagnosed in childhood: Anxiety Disorder 13%. Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 10%. Depression 15%. Conduct Disorder 7%. The number of school-age children taking psychiatric medication varied from 10% to 40% depending on the population reviewed. I have seen children as young as one year old on Ritalin and Prozac. In the short term, these medications may alleviate some of the symptoms, but they offer no long-term solution. And at what price? It has been so rewarding for me to use homeopathy with these children and "snatch" them from a lifetime of psychiatric medications.
A boy with panic attacks Recently I treated a five-year-old child with intense anxiety, panic attacks, and phobic disorders. From the time he was born he wanted to be held. He had been with one of his parents continuously since birth. He had never been left with a babysitter because his anxiety from even anticipating the parents being gone was enough to incite a panic attack, or sleeplessness from anxiety. He was unable to socialize with his peers because he was afraid of other children. He had an impressive list of fears: bees, bugs, children, dogs, strangers, the dark, monsters, new situations, getting dirty, slides, his parents leaving. Any one of these could trigger a full-blown panic attack. The strongest fear was being apart from his parents. At his initial visit he arrived carrying a very large stuffed animal, which he hid behind for the entire interview. He never addressed me directly, but would whisper to one of his parents. He sat in his chair for two hours. He was clearly a highly intelligent child, but refused to dress himself, go to the bathroom on his own, feed himself or play on his own. Essentially he had no drive toward independence and insisted the parents do everything for him. He was also wetting himself several times a day. A psychiatrist had evaluated him, and anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication had been suggested. Both parents had wrestled much of their adult lives with shyness and anxiety.
This boy was given the remedy Baryta carbonicum 200C, one dose, followed by Baryta carbonicum 1M, one dose.
At the follow-up appointment two months later, he was accompanied by a smaller stuffed animal, answered all my questions directly and confidently, and spent some time alone with me. He was no longer having panic attacks, had stayed overnight with a babysitter without anxiety, engaged people more openly, was taking care of his personal hygiene, and had stopped daytime wetting. To date he is an exceptionally bright, engaging child with an impressive command of language for his age. He is excited to be starting pre-school this fall.
Children with Post-Traumatic Stress since birth Children who have problems from the moment they were born have two main causes for their "dis-ease": inherited miasms or an intense emotional state or trauma in the mother during the pregnancy. So, in my evaluation of cases like these, I focus on the emotional state, feelings, and traumatic events in the pregnancy.
Often I find that the remedy state that was "imprinted" on the child during pregnancy persists into childhood, and sometimes even remains into adulthood, as a kind of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Even in my adult patients, if possible, I try to obtain as much information about their in-utero environment, labor, and newborn period.)
This approach has led me to more unusual constitutional remedies for infants that have produced effective results; whereas, in the past I might have ended up using acute remedies or polychrest remedies, and prescribing mainly on physical symptoms and modalities.
An infant with projectile vomiting
One such case was an infant of 10 months who was suffering from persistent projectile vomiting, colic, and sleep problems from the day he was born. Both parents were exhausted and desperate. The only way he would sleep was if he was being vigorously jogged up and down. If the constant motion stopped or he was laid down, he would immediately waken and wail inconsolably. Despite being exhausted, he would fight sleep. He had also been vomiting violently and frequently since birth—sometimes so intensely that it would shoot from the back seat of the car to the windshield. He had been seen by a gastroenterologist and diagnosed with reflux, but he had had no response to medication. His colic was worse at night and accompanied by large amounts of gas. His pain was intense; he would get red in the face and arch his back. Up until this point in the history I would have been inclined to give Dioscorea as his remedy, as it is a remedy indicated for colic that is better from bending/arching backwards (see repertorization chart below).
The story of the pregnancy emerged. In the second trimester of pregnancy, the mother was rear-ended by a truck. She was trapped in the car for a long time while rescuers tried to free her. Her feeling at the time was of a sudden violent attack from behind, a sense that she was trapped and going to die, and fear that the baby would be deformed as a result.
During the examination of the child, I observed intense, driven restlessness. He was moving around, got into everything, and was unable to focus his attention. For a 10-month-old, with two adults constantly after him, he still managed to create havoc in my office.
I now had additional information that pointed to a different remedy. The remedy given was Belladonna 200C, one dose daily for three days.
I believe that the intense emotional experience of the mother during her pregnancy imprinted on the child, thus creating an acute miasm in him. If the miasm had not been a key consideration in this selection of a remedy, the outcome would likely have been less profound.
At the follow-up appointment, his mother reported that he was sleeping restfully, waking only at night to feed and then going back to sleep easily. His colic and gas were much better, and he was no longer arching with pain. In the past two months, he had only two episodes of vomiting, and these were much less severe. His food allergies disappeared, and his overall temperament was much calmer. My office was still in good order on his departure.
Over the course of treatment he took Belladonna 30C for an ear infection, followed by Belladonna 1M. To date he has had no recurrence of symptoms, and has two well-rested parents.
Homeopathy offers hope These three cases demonstrate some important points. As a former conventional pediatrician using allopathic medication, psychotherapy, and perhaps surgery, I know that the possibility of permanent relief for these suffering children was extremely unlikely. And yet with a few doses of non-toxic homeopathic remedies, their lives were completely transformed.
The vitality of children is usually high, so their response to homeopathic treatment can be rapid and profound. With my skeptical allopathic background, I am often astounded and delighted by what is accomplished with homeopathy.
The state of disease in a patient can have an inciting cause that predates conception in one of the parents, or was established during gestation. That is the bad news. The good news is that if we treat the parents with homeopathy, before conception or during pregnancy, we can circumvent many of these issues. Also, every child we treat lessens the miasmatic burden they carry, and in turn transmit to their offspring. So when we treat an individual child, we also positively affect the health of their future offspring. What an incredible bargain!
The immensity and depth of pathology in our young people continues to worsen, and sometimes the situation feels hopeless. I wonder what difference one patient here or there can make in the long run, and so I remind myself of the story I heard a while ago (apologies to the author who is unknown):
The Starfish One year in a sleepy seaside village there was a storm with strong wind and tides. In the wake of the storm thousands of starfish were washed up on the beach. As the sun warmed the day the starfish would surely die. An old man was seen hunched over at the water's edge, repeatedly plucking a single starfish from the flotsam and tossing it back into the ocean. A boy went up to him and firmly declared, "It's no use you know. There are too many. What you are doing will make no difference." The old man bent yet again, tossed another into the waves, looked the boy in the eye and replied, "It will to that one."
About the author: Melanie Chimes, MD, MD(H), a board certified pediatrician, received her medical degree from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa in 1985. She then completed a rotating internship in internal medicine, surgery, and orthopedics, followed by a pediatric residency and Chief Residency at Case Western Reserve University. She is a graduate and adjunct faculty member of the American Medical College of Homeopathy, and has a private homeopathic practice in Tucson, AZ.