© 1997 -- Amy L. Lansky, PhD. Renaissance Research. Portola Valley, California.
Amy L. Lansky, PhD
This story was written many years ago, in 1997. I have gone on to write a general introductory book about homeopathy, which includes my family's story along with many more stories of homeopathic cures for a wide variety of ailments. It was published in 2003 and has gone on to become the best-selling book about homeopathy at Amazon.
For more information about Homeopathy and my family's experience, please buy my book:
Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy.
Contact information, information about autism treatment, and referrals to homeopaths can all be found at the www.impossiblecure.com web site.
Most homeopaths come to this great art of healing because of some "conversion" experience. Typically, some miracle -- large or small -- has alerted them to the mystery and monumental nature of Hahnemann's discovery. In my own case, my younger son Max was cured of an "incurable" condition: mild autism. He began treatment at age 3.5. A year later, none but the most discerning would suspect that he had had any kind of problem at all. Obviously, this miracle changed the entire dynamic and potential future of my family. It also propelled me to alter my career course and devote myself to the study and promotion of homeopathy.
Max's story is an interesting and unusual one for several reasons. First, we were incredibly blessed that our family homeopath found the correct remedy on the first try: Carcinosin. This remedy was his similimum if there ever was one. Fitting him like a glove, he has suffered from barely any aggravation in the two and a half years he has been on and off this remedy. The posology chosen for Max was similarly fitting -- the LM dose. Over the course of his treatment, he has shown well-defined patterns of response to this approach. One of the reasons I decided to write this article is to provide further enlightenment to the homeopathic community about the nature and merits of this less-well-known but increasingly important remedy. The same can be said of this method of dosing -- less commonly used and understood, the LM dose is surely on its way to prominence for deep chronic cases.
Since Max's story is long and involved, the best way to tell it is chronologically. I have decided to also include details about other treatments we tried and changes we made in educational environment and family dynamic. All of these factors had an impact on Max. They may thus provide useful information for homeopaths and other families dealing with childhood behavioral problems. At the end of his story I will conclude with my own personal observations about the essence of Carcinosin, a summary of his symptoms, and brief discussions about LM dosing and the treatment of behavioral conditions in children.
My husband, Steven Rubin, and I both have doctorates in computer science and have worked in various research laboratories in the Palo Alto area for many years. We are also both semi-professional musicians and have sung in several local rock bands. Our first son, Izaak, was born in 1988. A precocious child, Izaak has always been extremely verbal, mature, and intellectually inclined. My husband and I have always made our kids our first priority, each of us working shortened four-day weeks. Before they attended school, we each spent a full "work" day at home with the kids. The other three days, we typically had a nanny come to our house. We now use childcare three days a week.
As far as medical background, Steve's family has a strong history of cancer on both sides of his family (many cousins, aunts, grandparents, etc.) His father is mildly diabetic and his brother has adult-onset Type 1 (insulin-taking) diabetes. This coupling of cancer with diabetes is a characteristic miasmatic background for Carcinosin. In my case, there is a strong history of heart disease on both sides of the family. My father died of a heart attack at age 71 and before that suffered from gout. My mother, still living, nearly died of rheumatic fever at age 10 and has suffered from heart problems since. As per common practice at one time, she took daily doses of antibiotics for many years. My brother is schizophrenic and there is other evidence of mental illness in my father's family.
Steve and I are both physically healthy and now much more emotionally-healthy after a year or so of consitutional homeopathy for ourselves! We both had bouts of mononucleosis in college. Both of us also suffered from appendicitis and tonsillitis.
Max was born in July 1991. A planned pregnancy, there was still some uncertainty on my own part about whether I wanted a second child. However, once he was there inside me, I was extremely happy to have him. The pregnancy was uneventful except for a CVS test at 11 weeks (chorionic villus sampling -- an early alternative to amniocentesis) and an ultrasound at 20 weeks. In the last three months of my pregnancy I sought out a midwife to help me achieve a successful vaginal birth; my first son had been a C-section delivery after the classic medical fiasco of induction/failure-to-progress. The goal of a VBAC birth (vaginal birth after caesarean) was a central focus for me during the last trimester of my pregnancy with Max.
I was successful. After 28 hours of labor (including epidural, pitocin, and one hour of pushing), Max was born without complication. However, after the standard application of antibiotic ointment to his eyes, he developed a skin rash on his face. I remember the flurry of pediatricians checking him out. The rash disappeared in a few hours, but I realize now that it foretold of his innate sensitivity.
Max's first month of life began normally. He breast-fed well, was circumcised at eight days in Jewish ceremonial fashion, and was of good size and weight. However, within a couple weeks, he began to vomit up the milk he took in. The vomiting increased in severity each day. By the time he was nearly four weeks old, he had begun to lose weight. Finally, he was brought in for pyloric stenosis surgery at 28 days. Interestingly, we were not surprised by this turn of events. Max was the third-generation child with this condition in Steve's family. Steve had the same surgery (also at 28 days!), and his mother's twin sister died from this now-routine procedure.
Though Max and the rest of us went through a bit of hell with his surgery, he quickly recovered and showed no signs of problems for the next two years. He received all the standard immunizations on schedule and was average in height, weight, and motor development. In general, he has always tended to be thin, muscular, and coordinated. However, by age two, he was still not speaking. He knew the entire alphabet, could count to twenty, and could stack blocks like nobody's business, but he did not know more than about 10 words. Temperamentally, he was friendly and cheerful, but also showed a kind of detachment. He was less cuddly than his brother Izaak and was content to play on his own and watch TV, not seeking to be the center of attention. At the time, I thought he was merely late to talk, mature, and self-contained. One unusual characteristic was his attachment to his milk bottle; it was his "lovie". He wanted a "baba" so often that it was not unusual for him to drink 8 bottles (a half gallon!) of milk in a day.
On the physical plane, Max has always been fair-skinned, with straight dark brown hair and very large beautiful brown eyes. (The characteristic Carcinosin moles and blue sclerotics did not really "bloom" until after he was on the remedy). Other general symptoms already present as a baby and toddler included early eruption of teeth (at five months, four teeth erupted at the same time) and a hairy back, neck, and legs. On the front top of this skull, he has a slight ridge, as if his skull fused in a strange fashion on the midline suture. He also has two other birth "defects": a partially formed anorectal fistula -- a very deep indentation above the anus that does not, however, penetrate into the rectum; and a partially formed third nipple on the right side of his chest -- a short horizontal crease. On his neck and groin, Max has always had a couple of enlarged lymph nodules. And even as a baby, he sweated profusely when sleeping. His hair would be drenched when waking in the morning or from a nap. His favored sleep position was on his back with his hands over the top of his head (this preferred sleep position has diminished since being on the remedy). Though not the stereotypical Carcinosin genupectoral position, this alternate position has been mentioned in several references on Carcinosin and, in my opinion, should be given added weight in the materia medica.
Besides his early love for cow's milk, Max has also always had a strong desire for salt as well as a liking of fatty/spicy and sour foods. As a toddler he would willingly eat spicy dishes and suck on lemons. Though he rejects spicy foods now, he still covets salt and will even resort to shaking the salt shaker into his mouth! As a young child, he loved fatty meats (no longer), enjoyed sucking on ice cubes, and enjoyed chocolate (he now prefers vanilla ice cream over chocolate!) . All of these cravings are characteristic of Carcinosin.
Finally, though he did not crave to eat eggs, he did have an usual relationship to them -- an almost fetish-like interest in them. He would point to them in the refrigerator and would try to get them out. At about two and half years old, he actually got a whole dozen raw eggs out of the refrigerator, carried them to his brother's room and gleefully smashed them all into the carpetting! Our nanny found him playing happily in the mess, saying "Eggs! Eggs!" (We later had to have the entire flooring replaced!) Even now, at age 6, Max enjoys playing with egg-related things -- e.g. Easter eggs. For many years, he has also asked to play an egg-related game with me, of his own creation. He hides under the covers, scrunched up into an "egg"-shape (the chick in the egg), I sit on him and hatch him, and he pops out!
Though non-verbal, Max was a happy toddler. It was not until he began in preschool that his problems began to crystallize. When he was two, we enrolled him in a 2-day/week 2-hour preschool program. At about this time, our nanny suddenly left without notice to tend to her mother dying of cancer. Our new nanny was kind but, in retrospect, detached emotionally and probably did not engage with Max very much.
Max was initially joyful in his preschool program. His teacher remarked upon his "joie de vivre". However, he did not settle in and relied on his "baba" for comfort. Among the behaviors that emerged at school were the following: he could not sit at circle-time unless held in someone's lap; he would tend to wander off to other places in the classroom or to other classrooms; lowered eye contact; self-stimulation activities such as spinning; and unresponsiveness to questions. At the same time, he clearly showed signs of great intelligence. If he was engaged in something that interested him, he could sit for very long stretches with intense concentration. He could build complex structures with amazing skills of symmetry and balance; he also showed sophisticated strategic and dexterity skills at computer games. At age 2.5, when our usual nanny was gone for a month and a far more engaging replacement nanny stepped in, Max finally began to talk more. It was single words, but it was a start.
At this point, Max was still a happy child at home. However, it became increasingly clear that this was not the case at school. I myself began to sense the teaching staff's judgement of him. Some of the teachers did not greet him in the morning with a welcoming tone. I also sensed that Max was keenly aware of their attitude and that it was harming him. Eventually, the teachers began to drop hints that something was wrong with Max. At the time, I suspected they were thinking it was autism, but I convinced myself that Max's problem was ADD. At home, he had become increasingly antsy. Though he did not run about the house, he could not sit still. He would fidget, as if an engine were running inside him. He could not sit quietly and let me read a story to him. Instead, he would squirm all over the bed -- he would even stand on his head, with his feet against the wall. He would run his fingers up and down things, the table, the wall. He also developed a habit of repeatedly poking or stabbing his finger against people's chest -- not to hurt them, but a kind of nervous poking contact. Sometimes he would also butt his head against them. This kind of "poking" contact is characteristic of autistic children. It is also mentioned in Hoa's article on Carcinosin that appeared in the British Homoeopathic Journal in July 1963:
"... I have noticed that Carcinosin often has bizarre tics; one of my patients constantly tapped his brothers' skulls with his fingertips; another used to gently bite the tips of children's fingers, one after the other; he had not lost this habit at the age of 40."
I myself had the sense that something in Max was bursting to get out -- trying to make contact.
As Max approached his third birthday, I knew that something was truly wrong. The teachers at his school called us into conference and suggested we get professional help. I was on a mission. On the advice of a speech therapist friend, we opted against having Max tested at a highly-medicalized child development center attached to the university. Instead, we took him to see a respected speech and language therapist, a woman considered to be the best in the Palo Alto area, Donna Dagenais. Donna did not label Max as autistic or as anything at all -- she merely began working with him. In addition to his private therapy sessions, she also placed him into a group session with two other children -- one who had been diagnosed as PDD (mild autism) and the other with a severe fear-related disorder. Of the three, Max was the best behaved but the least verbal.
At this time and after much soul searching, we instituted several other changes, all of which had a beneficial effect on Max. First, we took him off of cow's milk. I had read about milk being suspect in cases of hyperactivity and naturally was concerned, given his intense predilection for it. Max went from nearly a half gallon of cow's milk down to one cup of goat's milk per day. This step alone had a dramatic effect. Before it had seemed that Max was behind a curtain; now, the first veil lifted. He began to talk more. At age three, he finally built two-to-three word sentences. He was clearly more "present" than before. At this time, we also made a modest effort to eliminate food coloring from his diet.
Next, we closely examined our family dynamic and other social factors. On Donna's advice I decided to take him out of the school facility he was in (which was highly socially-oriented) and place him into a Montessori school. The one I chose was extremely structured and focused on reading, writing, and mathematical skills -- things that Max himself was interested in. Though he could not talk well, he LOVED letters and numbers. Next, our "disengaged" nanny totally disengaged -- she left town and we got a new nanny who was extremely sweet and loving towards Max. We also made sure that this nanny would focus a bit more on Max than on his highly verbal and precocious brother.
Finally, and most importantly, we examined ourselves. We realized that we had to make a concerted effort to spend more concentrated focussed time with Max. We decided to take turns, each of us spending intensive time with one child or the other. We tried to teach Izaak to "share the limelight" with his brother. We also closely examined our own attitudes. I recognized in myself feelings of rejection towards Max in his current state. I clearly saw that I had to learn to accept him unconditionally as he was; I instinctively knew this was critical for his recovery. This was later confirmed upon reading "Son Rise: The Miracle Continues", Barry Neil Kaufman's book about his own son's amazing recovery from very severe autism. The Kaufmans developed a strategy for their son based on what might be called healing intentionality -- unconditional love and acceptance and an intense focus and connectedness with the child. I highly recommend this book to any parent. Because of the Kaufman's work and my experience with my own children, I have grown to believe that a positive accepting attitude towards a child can be the single most powerful force in their development and cure.
In the fall of 1994, Max continued with his speech and language therapy and, after testing, qualified for special education benefits. He also entered his new Montessori school, where he was much happier and better accepted by the teaching staff. Allowed to work completely on his own (as per Montessori doctrine), he was content to sit quietly working on his numbers, letters, and puzzles. The teachers felt he was bright and merely a quiet child. I knew that he was NOT inherently quiet, just non-verbal and socially unskilled because of it!
Max continued to make slow and steady progress in his speech therapy. However, the sense of internal "energy" remained. He still could not answer questions except about objects directly in front of him. For example, he could answer literal questions ("What color is this?") but not abstract questions ("What color do you like?"). He also had another characteristic autistic symptom: echolalia. Rather than answer a question, he would merely repeat the last few words the other person had said. This was remarkably effective for him in some cases! ("Is this blue or red?" "Red") Even now, he still resorts to some echolalia and disengages some days, when he is tired or feeling out of sorts.
In January 1995, I was curling up in bed with the latest issue of Mothering, a counter-culture parenting magazine. In it, I ran across an article by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman about homeopathy for childhood behavioral problems. I will never forget the moment I finished reading it. A bell went off and I knew something important had happened. "Read this!" I said to Steve. Although I had read Deepak Chopra's books, knew a bit about ayurveda, and practiced qi gong and tai chi, I knew almost nothing about homeopathy. Like most people, I thought it was some kind of herbal medicine and I had occasionally popped a Boiron mixed remedy for colds. I didn't have the bias against the potentized dose because I didn't even know about it!
The next day I called an acupuncturist friend of mine, and she referred me to John Melnychuk, a professional homeopath new to the Palo Alto area. We quickly got an appointment and went with high hopes and expectations.
John is now one of my closest friends and my mentor in homeopathy. (I am also finishing up the foundation course of Misha Norland's Devon School and studying with Simon Taffler in San Francisco). Recently, John told me that he was stumped when Steve, Max and I walked out of his office that day in January. In addition to Max's intense craving, yet aggravation, from milk, what led him to choose Carcinosin was a rubric with a single remedy in it:
Talented, very: Carc.
Apparently, I had mentioned 10 times in the interview that Max was talented! Perhaps I was an overly proud Jewish mother who was defensive of her "special needs" child, but I was quite certain of his innate talents (which are now much more evident). First of all, he showed amazing strategic skills at computer games and for things visual in general. For example, at age three he could play "Concentration"-style matching games (where you have to find matching pairs of pictures in a grid of 25 hidden tiles), and he could play it better than Steve or I. Now we suspect he has a photographic memory. Max also showed an uncanny musical, dancing, and acting ability. He had (still has) a perfect sense of rhythm. He could watch things on TV and perfectly imitate nuances in various characters' behavior and mannerisms. He would memorize dance routines he saw and dance for us. These skills foretold his current talents in performance, singing, and precision in things artistic.
Looking through John's notes from our first interview with Max, a few other symptoms were highlighted. One was his desire to do things by himself -- an innate stubborness, which he still has. This, of course, is coupled with his desire for perfection and precision. During the interview, he got very upset because he didn't successfully write "Mom" on a piece of paper the way he wanted to. Several other signs of his internal energy and restlessness also came out in the interview: difficulty falling asleep at night (which I also have), a habit of twirling and pulling on his hair -- to the point of pulling some hair out! (a habit now long gone), teeth grinding, fearlessness, and impulsivity. On outings we had to keep a close rein on him; he would think nothing of simply running off gleefully without looking back. When he was two, a neighbor found him running down the street, singing happily. He had gotten out the back screen-door and off he went!
Max has also always possessed a strong sexual energy, an important feature of Carcinosin. He enjoyed masturbating, taking his clothes off, and running around the house naked. Jokester that he is, he still has a particular fondness for "mooning" people! (Thankfully, he only does this at home!) Although he was fairly distant before the remedy, he now is extremely affectionate and even passionate. He enjoys a light caress on his back rather than strong back rub. These and other general symptoms are summarized at the end of this paper.
At the end of John's case notes for that first interview in January 1995, his choice of Carcinosin was underscored by the following symptoms:
- Desires milk which aggravates
- Very talented
- Head, hot on waking
He also considered some of the other nosodes: Syph, Med, and Tub. He suggested starting with a daily dose of Carcinosin LM1. The following recounts Max's amazing road to recovery.
Max began taking the remedy on a Thursday. We always gave him his dose in the morning, at least fifteen minutes after eating or drinking anything -- usually just before we left the house for school. We followed a typical LM-dose methodology: we would succuss the bottle 10 times and use a single dilution cup. By the first weekend on the remedy (about two days later), Steve and I began to notice some changes. Max was using some phrases he had never used before and was displaying slightly more social awareness. It was subtle, but something had definitely changed. In addition, Max's speech had always been (and is still somewhat) "cogwheel" or staccato in nature -- as if he had to think about each word he said. That weekend we noticed that his speech was a bit more fluid than usual. Over time, speech and social-awareness changes have become Max's "earmark" for improvement on Carcinosin.
The following Tuesday (five days later) Max had a session with his therapist Donna. She noticed something had definitely changed . "What did you do?" she asked me. One of Max's exercises was to try to follow a list of instructions. For example, "Put the ball on the red chair and bring the green block to me". Prior to this, he had only been able to follow a single command, rarely two. This day he was suddenly able to perform two commands consistently, and even three commands in succession!
This trend continued. Each day we saw slightly more improvement. When Steve and I gave Max his daily dose, we tried to imbue it with added love and intentionality -- a teaspoon of Carcinosin mixed with healing thoughts. As time went by and we went through successive bottles of remedy, progressing from LM1 to LM2, etc. and changing dose about once a month, we began to see a definite pattern of improvement and degradation. First, at the beginning of a new bottle, Max would show some increased signs of hyperactivity. These aggravations were not extreme but were noticeable to myself and Donna. This period would usually last 3-5 days, at most a week. It was followed by a sudden jump in verbal, cognitive, and social ability -- a discrete step upwards. At this point, the hyperactivity would also tone down. Max would become more contained and relaxed within himself. This was followed by a period of continued gradual improvement for about two weeks. About the last week or so of each month, as we neared the end of a bottle, we would begin to see a gradual slipping backwards. Donna and I used to call it "end-of-the-bottle behavior." This heralded the need to continue on to the next dosage level.
It is interesting to note that besides Steve, John, and myself, our nanny and Donna are the only two adults who really believe, without a doubt, that the remedy is what changed Max. We are the only adults who saw him on a daily basis and saw the direct correspondence between changes of dose and improvements in behavior. To this day, Max's grandparents and our friends remark -- "Oh, perhaps he was just late to develop." However, Donna, who is extremely experienced with children's behavioral and language difficulties, has repeatedly assured me that this was not the case for Max. When he was clearly back on track, after a year of taking the remedy, she confided to me that he had been autistic. She told me that she has seen autistic kids improve, but never become "not autistic" like Max had. Our pediatrician made the same confession to me. Donna was so convinced that it was the homeopathy that did the trick for Max that she stated this fact to the head of county social services the day I signed papers releasing Max from eligibility for special education.
Being the scientists that we are, Steve and I, of course, had our own initial skepticism about the whole affair. Was it the remedy that was changing Max? Was it our own expectations and attitude? We decided to conduct a simple test. For two weeks, I would make daily observations about Max's behavior. Steve would give Max his morning dose, changing from one dosage level to the next at a time unknown to me. The bottle would be hidden so that I could not see what dose he was taking. Truthfully, I expected Steve to change doses fairly early on in the two week period. Each day I made my observations in a notebook. I strained to see some shift in Max, but could see none. However, the second to last day of the experiment it happened. I noticed a sudden improvement in his speech. And, indeed, this occurred three days after Steve had changed the dose!
Six months after starting on Carcinosin, Max continued to improve in speech, cognition, and social awareness. However, much of the inner restlessness and social distance remained. At age four, I took Max to see a traditional osteopath on John's recommendation. Max had a course of three treatments in a single month, followed by a treatment about once a month for several months. Even now, two years later, I take him for a treatment about once every three to four months. Our osteopath, Mark Rosen, found that Max had signs of cranial compression. Indeed, he felt that this compression was probably related to Max's pyloric stenosis as well.
While the homeopathic remedy had its primary affect on Max's language production and comprehension and social awareness, it was the osteopathy that created the first major effect on his "internal engine" and desire for physical affection. The night after his first osteopathic treatment, Max crawled into my lap and said, "Mommy, sing me rock-a-bye baby." This was the first time he had directly asked me for this kind of physical loving affection. Although he did not usually push me away, he never really craved this kind of contact. From this point onward, Max did. He is now extremely affectionate and likes to crawl into bed with me in the morning or at bedtime and snuggle. He sometimes even cries if he does not get enough hugs and kisses when my husband, Izaak, or I leave the house. What a change from the distant "self-contained" Max!
At age 4.25, after having been on the remedy for nine months, Max began his second year at the Montessori school. At this point, his speech had definitely become more complex, spontaneous, and fluid. Donna tested him and found he was approaching age level. We discontinued our biweekly sessions, but he remained "on the books" as far as eligibility for special education.
Now that Max was talking, he was also trying to "join the crowd" socially. However, having started so late, he was awkward in these initial attempts. He was stubborn and he cried too easily when he didn't get his way. To get attention he often resorted to excessive "toilet talk". Of course, as a parent, I was thrilled that Max was beginning to reach out. But the school was not as supportive. They had pegged Max as a "quiet" child and were not thrilled to see the real Max emerge. They gave him no support in making the awkward transition towards social acceptance and savvy. One of this teachers even said to me: "Max was such a nice boy before. Can you put him back the way he was?"
Although it was awkward to change schools in the middle of the year and to cope with his teachers' lack of support, I had learned from my experiences the year before that not changing to meet Max's needs would stall his progress. It was clearly time to make some changes on the school front.
At this point we were also having some nanny difficulties, with two nannies coming and going in quick succession. Max was also beginning to be aggravated more than helped by the remedy. He was consistently more hyperactive and revved up. It took us a few months to realize that it was indeed time to decrease the dosage frequency and eventually stop the daily dose. Now I am more tuned into his subtle changes and know when it's time to stop and start the remedy. When I consistently feel like I WANT to give Max the remedy, it's time to start. When I consistently feel like I DON'T want to give him the remedy, it's time to stop.
Thus, at age 4.5, in the middle of the school year, we again made several adjustments to meet Max's own need for growth and change. First, we found a new school for Max -- an excellent socially-oriented school that followed the Montessori-style but not as strictly. His new teachers had no preconceptions or biases towards Max, and helped him adjust socially.
Next we stopped using nannies, opting instead for after-school childcare three days per week. This change had many beneficial side-effects. The most important was that we now ate dinner together as a family each evening. Given the hectic schedule of families with two working parents, the institution of the family meal has gone by the wayside in many American homes. Returning to this tradition has created a feeling of greater coherence in our family life. It has also assured a better diet for our kids; we had less control over what the nannies fed our kids.
Finally, in January 1996, Max stopped taking Carcinosin. Just like the step-function quality of Max's improvement with each monthly change of dose, going off the remedy after a year led to a huge leap in language and social ability. This leap continued for at least four months until it evened out. Max's true personality began to emerge full force. He is an entertainer. He is sociable and sensitive. Although he was still immature at this point, he was quite ahead in academic skills and respected and liked by his teachers and classmates. Though he came into the new school in the middle of the school year, by the end of the year he had friends, knew everyone at the school, and was interested in what was going on in "the social scene."
In May Donna tested Max once more. At age 4.75, he was testing above age level (5.5 year-old level). We went through the formal process of releasing Max from eligibility for special education. It was a joy to sign those papers! Donna was so excited for us and invited me and John to present Max's case to her speech and language clinic, which we did in July 1996.
By the time he was five, it was easy for Steve and I to believe that Max was fully cured. However, John was less sure and he turned out to be right. There were still vestigial signs of his former autism, though they were not really apparent to teachers or anyone else besides us. For example, his language production continued to be awkward at times. In times of stress (e.g. if he was sick), he would still retreat into himself and utilize echolalia as a speech strategy. He was also still a bit hyperactive at times, not being able to sit in his seat through an entire meal. Even now, at age six, all of this is still true of Max, though to a lesser degree.
However, functionally Max was doing excellently. He engaged in real discussions with family and friends. He asked for explanations about his body and his environment. He related stories about his day at school and TV shows. He was fascinated by fantasy play and dress up. He could memorize show tunes and sing perfectly on tune. He was becoming truly popular at school, with the children running up to him and greeting him enthusiastically. He adjusted well to new social situations the summer of 1996, readily adapting to two new camps. He had also become an avid reader (another lesser-known Carcinosin quality). Before he even began kindergarten, he could easily read simple Dr. Seuss books. Now, at the end of kindergarten, he can read at a Grade 2 level.
Nevertheless, several events of the summer of 1996 alerted us to the fact that we were still engaged in an ongoing process with Max -- that he still has ways to climb to full recovery. The year before, during the summer of 1995, we went to Club Med in Mexico (Pacific coast) and I had sensed that Max had had a mild amelioration there. During the summer of 1996, we went to Club Med in the Bahamas (Atlantic coast) and he had a noticeable aggravation. This bicoastal seaside aggravation/amelioration pattern has been noted for Carcinosin. After the 1996 trip, I felt his language had definitely begun to decline.
Another thing that was quite peculiar about our trip to Club Med was a noticeable aggravation Max experienced in the company of a particular child. An older rather odd boy (about age 8 or 9) formed a strange attachment to Max. He would constantly look for Max during the course of the day. When he found him, he would grab him and play quite vigorously with him; they would wind each other up into a frenzy. It was almost as if they were resonating. Perhaps this boy was also Carcinosin and their matched energy attracted and aggravated each other? In any case, we were glad to leave by the end of the week!
After the Club Med visit in 1996, though Max showed some decline in speech, he was still doing well for the most part. Near the end of the summer, I took him in for his five-year-old checkup. For the first time, I declined the routine vaccinations (at age five, it is traditional to give the full battery). Although our pediatrician did not argue with me about this (she too had borne witness to the changes in Max and probably didn't want to rock the boat either!), she convinced me to have him take the TB-test, required for kindergarten entry.
Although Max did not have a "TB" reaction, this test (administered as a subcutaneous injection rather than as the standard tine test) led to a marked aggravation in Max's state. For the next week, he became increasingly sensitive, crying for no reason. The teachers at camp and at his school remarked about the change in him. He had become more withdrawn, fearful, and cried for the least reason. He was not his normal self. This experience ("Worse, vaccination" -- another Carcinosin keynote) has made us wonder if vaccination was causative of Max's problems in the first place. After a couple of tries with other remedies, John decided it was time to return to Carcinosin. After a single dose of LM13, Max was back to his normal self in a matter of hours!
We breathed a sigh of relief, and started Max back on the remedy. After an initial period of LM13, we recognized it was too high, returned to LM1, and started back up the ladder again. This worked wonderfully, and once again we saw the characteristic pattern of "jumps" at the beginning of each month, with "end-of-the-bottle behavior" at the end. Although Max's improvements were really only noticeable to me and Steve at this point, they were still there.
Max remained on the remedy from August 1996 until early March 1997, during which time he progressed from LM1 to LM7. At that time, I recognized the aggravation coming on and stopped the remedy. Once again, this was followed by a long period of noticeable improvement. Right now (June 1997) I am noticing a subtle decline in speech and anticipate I will reintroduce the remedy sometime this summer. All said, however, Max is doing wonderfully. He is a robust, cheerful, and *talented, very* child. He is no longer autistic but he is still probably Carcinosin!
Carcinosin is not a proved remedy. Therefore, we only have cured clinical cases from which to gleen its essence. Given that Max is clearly an excellent representative of this state, what can we learn about Carcinosin from him?
Looking at the remedy from the standpoint of its source (cancerous breast tissue), Don Webley points out in his excellent article on Carcinosin (Homeopathy Online, Issue 1) that cancer is a disease of intensity:
"This heat, this intensity, this fire kept barely within check, suggests something of the essence of Carcinosin. Carcinosin is the name we give to the pathological picture that arises when the life force itself, present in an individual with great intensity, is thwarted and turns upon its host organism, consuming it in its mad search for outflow and resolution."
To me, this is the essence of Carcinosin and of Max. It is an individual with great inner intensity, passion, and talent -- an intensity that is burning to get out, be seen, be heard -- that is nevertheless too easily thwarted and suppressed. Although the remedy is stereotypically associated with child abuse, this clearly need not be the case. Carcinosin can be so sensitive that they can be suppressed by common life experiences as well. When this happens, they retreat and their energy erupts within, manifesting in physical symptoms and internal restlessness. Sociologically, one is also reminded of the common view of cancer as a disease of individuals who repress their emotions. It is not hard to see why this remedy is often confused with Staphisagria. Indeed, as Don Webley pointed out in his article on Carcinosin, the remedy can be viewed as a great masquerader, often being confused with many other remedies, including Natrum Muriaticum, Sepia, Phosphorus, Tuberculinum, and Medorrhinum.
Max's Carcinosin fire and intensity could be seen in numerous physical, emotional, and mental signs:
Another possible symptom of Carcinosin's internal intensity may be the trademark blue sclerotics. One is reminded of the blue eyes of characters in the novel Dune; those who partook of the spice drug benefited from inner wisdom and powers and also developed blue sclerotics!
Despite their fire and intensity, Carcinosin is easily suppressed. Given their great sensitivity, circumstances which might even be stimulating to another child might be suppressive to a Carcinosin. For example, the highly interactive and lively family environment Max experienced as a baby may have been suppressive for him, given his difficulties with language production and comprehension. His early experience with pyloric stenosis surgery, including the loss of so much milk through vomiting, was certainly quite a shock to his system as well. (Given his early difficulties in retaining breast milk, it is interesting that Carcinosin is derived from cancerous breast tissue!) Max's subsequent great desire for cow's milk (perhaps arising out of these earlier losses) also ended up being suppressive to him, because of an innate sensitivity to it. Another suspect suppressive influence was vaccination.
In addition to these factors, Max has always been quite sensitive to reprimand, a typical Carcinosin trait. Even now, if he is scolded about something (and he doesn't succeed in making a joke out of it with his typical charm), he has a tendency to withdraw and sometimes even fall asleep. This tendency to withdraw in the face of suppression is perhaps the root of Carcinosin pathology. What could be more symbolic of withdrawal than the autistic state? Max's autism, in particular, was coupled with a great inner restlessness. This combination is quintessential Carcinosin, since it combines inner intensity with withdrawal. Other signs of Max's inner-held tension include: his tendency to be tidy; his desire for precision (he loves coloring books and colors perfectly within the lines, with amazing attention to detail); perfectionism (he is especially adept at creating perfectly symmetric designs and structures); stubbornness; his desire to learn to do things by himself; teeth grinding; his earlier propensity for hair twirling and pulling; and his problems with cranial compression.
Also related to this inward intensity may be some of Max's mischievous qualities -- particularly a love of hiding. He loves to tease us by hiding and suprising us, and also enjoys performing magic tricks involving hiding and slight of hand. His general tendency towards things visual rather than oral may also be related to an inwardizing tendency. Visual observation can be intense and creative, yet can be more passive than oral interaction.
Don Webley's article on Carcinosin also points out the bipolar nature of the remedy -- for example, the tendency to shift from loving some food to suddenly hating it. In my view, this stems from the intrinsically yin/yang or dualisitic nature of the Carcinosin state: of wanting to simultaneously explode with intensity and, at the same time, to hold it all in. Symbolic of this tension is the ebb and flow of the sea. Perhaps this is the reason why Carcinosin can be both ameliorated and aggravated at the seashore.
To summarize Max's case, I've compiled and organized his symptoms below. Many of these can be found in most sources on Carcinosin. Others are less typical. Hopefully Max's case will lend extra weight to these less common symptoms so that new cases of Carcinosin can be more easily recognized.
MIND. *Sensitive. Sensitive to reprimand or disapproval. Sensitive to music. *Love of dancing, acting, singing. Desire for attention. Imitation: voices, accents, behavior. Excellent sense of rhythm. Sings on key, in young children. *Desire to hide (playfully). Mischievous. Desire to run off (in children). Passionate. Sexual intensity. Desire to run about naked. Desire to "moon" others. Desire for "toilet talk." Fascination with eggs. Emotional distance/lack of desire for physical affection. Affectionate/desire for physical affection. Sympathetic. *Difficulty in producing speech. Late to speak. "Cogwheel" speech. Difficulty answering questions. Echolalia. Difficulty comprehending speech. Telepathy. *Visual/geometric/balancing abilities. Photographic memory. *Love of symmetry. *Precision. Fastidiousness. Concentration good. Perfectionism. Stubbornness. Restlessness. Fidgetiness, especially at meals. Gestures: - Pokes finger or bumps head into another's chest. - Runs fingers back and forth across table or chair. Love of insects. Willing to pick them up, and sometimes desires to squash them. Love of cats. Love of letters and numbers. *Love of reading. *Love of writing. Desires a light caressing touch. GENERALS. Warm. Thin, muscular build. Worse, vaccination. Tendency to easily scar. Tendency to form lymph nodules in neck and groin. Aggravation and amelioration at seaside. BIRTH. CVS test. Ultrasound. Low amniotic fluid during last week of pregnancy. VBAC. Epidural. Pitocin. PATHOLOGY. Pyloric stenosis. Autism. FAMILY MEDICAL BACKGROUND. Cancer. Diabetes. Heart Disease. Gout. Rheumatic Fever. Schizophrenia. Tendencies towards substance abuse. Mononucleosis. Appendicitis. Tonsillitis. HEAD. Ridge at midline suture. Cranial compression. EYES. Large eyes. Blue sclerotics. Right eye remains half-open during sleep. MOUTH. Early eruption of teeth. Development of extra tooth (between two front teeth). Teeth grinding, especially during sleep. CHEST. Partially formed third nipple, right side of chest. STOMACH. Desire: *salt, *cow's milk, ice cubes, chocolate, nuts, lemons, sausages. Aggravation: *cow's milk MALE. Desire to masturbate (in children). RECTUM. Partially formed anorectal fistula. PERSPIRATION. Warm perspiration on top and back of head, back, chest during sleep. SLEEP. *On back, with hands over top of head. Sleeps on top of covers. Difficulty falling asleep. Difficulty awaking from afternoon nap. SKIN. Allergy to erythromycin eye ointment at birth. Hairy back, neck, extremities. Dark brown macules on face, torso, and extremities.
Hahnemann's final contribution to homeopathy, the posology of the LM dose, is still not commonly used and understood by most homeopaths. However, it is slowly gaining in acceptance and usage. Of course, the ultimate goal in choosing any potency level is to match the "intensity" or "potency level" of the client. If a case needs a 10M jab, then give a 10M! However the LM dosing methodology has several unique characteristics that make it attractive for many cases:
I believe that all of these factors make the LM dose quite useful for deep chronic cases, especially those characterized by sensitivity. In such cases, a person has become habituated to a state that they are not readily moved from. The LM dose can subtley and gradually shift such individuals out of their habituated posture. Perhaps, if the healing process is gradual, the body puts up less resistance to it. If the individual is also sensitive, the dose can be suitably adjusted to their needs (rather than "stabbing" them brusquely, as a high potency centisimal dose sometimes can).
Daily LM dosing also has the advantage of providing a daily "injection" of remedy that can override antidotal factors if they are present. For example, if the patient must remain on allopathic drugs or if they cannot escape from an environment that is aggravating, a daily dose of remedy can provide an energetic "nudge" on a more regular basis.
I believe that the daily dose also adds an important psychological or intentionality factor into the healing process. In our experience with Max, I feel quite certain that the healing intention we placed into each teaspoon we administered was instrumental to his cure. Moreover, in a world that is accustomed to the daily administration of allopathic medicines and vitamins, a daily dosing methodology can provide patients with the feeling that they are really "doing" something to cure themselves. This alone can have a positive psychological and thus positive curative effect. If patients are familiar with and confident about homeopathy, they can more readily accept the infrequent dry dose. But if they are not (or if their condition is truly deep and problematic), the daily process of taking a remedy can engage them more actively in the homeopathic healing process.
Any parent knows that childrearing involves constant attention to the child's changing needs and the concommitant adjustment of routines to meet those needs. However, as children grow older, required changes are usually less frequent. It thus becomes quite easy for parents to become entrenched in patterns of behavior or in choices about education and environment.
One of the things I tried to stress in Max's story is our periodic need to "rethink" things and adjust his schooling, our childcare setup, our family dynamic, and our own attitudes. This is still an ongoing process for us -- and it is still easy for us to get entrenched!
The need for dynamic reexamination and readjustment is even more pronounced if a child is undergoing homeopathic treatment for behavioral problems. They will be shifting! They will be changing. Although, as parents, we can try to adapt as best we can on the home front, it is sometimes impossible for teachers or classmates to change their expectations and attitudes towards a child. Sometimes a certain environment may simply become unsuitable for a child once they have changed. In such situations, schooling or childcare changes must also be made.
Perhaps even more important is the need to constantly and truthfully examine our own feelings towards our children. It is incredibly hard to accept and cope with the fact that ones child may be experiencing difficulties. I still struggle with such issues, with respect to both my children -- with respect to friends and family as well! I heartily recommend the aforementioned book by Barry Kaufman on how to accept and unconditionally love your child as s/he is. This ability can help both the parent and the child achieve happiness in spite of difficulties. By engaging with the child on their own terms, we can more fully understand them. And by engaging in happiness and love, we take a step towards healing both the child and ourselves.
Amy L. Lansky, Ph.D.
1000 Fremont Ave. Suite Z
Los Altos, CA 94024