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Homeopathy for School Phobia

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 58 - November 2000

School phobia is a term that covers a spectrum of problems that are experienced by children and their families surrounding the whole issue of school. The manifestations can include refusal to go to school, misbehaviour of various kinds or the development, or worsening, of physical symptoms.

Julia was brought to see me by her parents who were at their wits' end. Although she had not yet progressed to the stage of actual school refusal, Julia had developed a number of possibly more worrying symptoms. She was getting daily headaches, which escalated to a migraine at least once a week. She also had terrible irritable bowel-type problems. But most worrying of all, her epilepsy, which had been well controlled for many years, had become more troublesome, with her fit frequency climbing from once every two to three months, to once a week.

All these changes coincided with Julia's move to a competitive preparatory school. Although a good and keen student, Julia had begun to exhibit signs of stress almost straight away. This was all the more perplexing because she actually stated that she liked the school.

She had lots of friends and there was no sign of any bullying. It was almost as if she liked it so much that she had become worried about not getting the most out of it and not performing as well as the school deserved.

To their credit, the school spotted the problem quite early on, and liaised with the parents very constructively. It was decided that Julia would see the school counsellor, and she had a weekly session with her for the best part of a year. However, the benefit was only marginal in that, although she felt less worried, the physical symptoms did not improve and were causing her to miss quite a lot of school. On the recommendation of a doctor friend of the family, her parents decided to try homeopathy.

Talking to Julia was an absolute delight. She was a friendly and eloquent nine-year-old who gave careful and well-considered answers to my, often challenging, questions. Like most bright children, she was interested in the process of the homeopathic consultation and laughed outright at some of the funny questions that we homeopaths often ask such as 'What is your favourite food?' and 'Are you scared of thunder?' and 'How do you like to go to sleep (on your tummy or your side or your back)?'

It transpired that her favourite food was pizza, or indeed anything with proper tomato sauce (as opposed to ketchup). She was not scared of thunder; on the contrary, she liked to stay up late to watch the thunder and lightening. And she always went to sleep on her tummy. Other useful information included that she was a thirsty person and loved salt and sweet things. She usually felt hot and tended to wear fewer clothes than most of her friends, for instance she would often be in a T-shirt when others were in jumpers or fleeces.

She had always had terrible trouble getting off to sleep and would often lie awake reading until midnight or later.

Julia was especially hard on herself from the point of view of work. Anybody less easygoing would be difficult to find. Her exercise books were absolutely perfect and she would rather rewrite a whole page than hand in a crossing out. If she got less than 9 out of 10, she would be devastated and could be reduced to tears by a criticism, however kindly meant or gently delivered. Unfortunately, she had therefore developed a reputation for being a cry-baby and this simply added to her stress.

The physical manifestations of this stress were profound. She had a nervous diarrhoea, which was so urgent that it sent her dashing for the toilet, often in the middle of lessons. A day hardly went by without a headache of some kind, but she was getting right-sided migraines almost weekly with nausea and photophobia, such that she had to retreat to a dark room for several hours. When upset, she would flush tremendously and become very hot and sweaty.

Since a baby, Julia had had epilepsy. It had been investigated and no sinister cause was found. She had been well on a single anti-epileptic agent and was so well controlled that she only had occasional fits at night. This had changed since Julia had moved school and her fit frequency increased markedly. Her doctor had sent her back to the neurologist who pronounced that her drug levels were fine and that a scan had revealed no new problem in her brain. The neurologist felt that if the situation did not improve he would have to start a second medication. However, this medication had a number of nasty side effects and they agreed to wait a while to see if the fits settled again, rather than start the medication right away.

Well. Julia certainly had an impressive picture of stress-related problems, but what was interesting was that the stress seemed to be generated within her own character – by her perfectionism and her sensitivity to criticism. She was a perfect case for the nosode, Carcinosinum, but the acute picture also had many of the features of the medicine, Argentum nitricum. This medicine is made from the chemical silver nitrate and is an excellent remedy for panic attacks and nervous complaints. The important features are that the patient is, or goes, very hot, that there is the sweaty, shaky picture of excess adrenaline and that the patient often craves sweet and salty things. It often helps right-sided symptoms, is excellent for irritable bowel syndrome of the nervous diarrhoea variety and can treat headache or migraine.

Thus, Julia's symptoms were well covered by Argentum nitricum. Fascinatingly, when I checked the remedy in the Materia Medica, I found that it could also be helpful in epilepsy. So, Julia had a single dose of 30c. After a month, the report was excellent – no migraine, diarrhoea settled, sleeping better and fits down to weekly initially but now recurring. A second dose brought Julia back to normal and she never needed the Carcinosinum, although we still have it in reserve if she ever relapses and fails to respond to the Argentum nitricum. A cry-baby no more, when I last heard she was doing fine, but is still a total perfectionist about her work – except that now, this drive to excellence is no longer harming her. A very satisfactory outcome.

Comments:

  1. Sanjay KR Singh said..

    Can somebody help me:

    My daughter Named is passing through the similar phase,aged about 14 Years,wt. about 50 kg and height 5 feet 1 inch, main symptoms are:

    school withdrawal
    feeling hot even in winters
    irritable behavior
    likes salty and spices dishes
    likes to see TV on continuous basis
    sleeps more than 8-10 hrs
    no fits or migraine
    sensitive to others comments
    avoids to go for outing
    good in studies
    IQ about 105-110 %
    no medical findings
    thyroid test is in normal range

    Thanks


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About Dr Angela Jones

Dr Angela Jones works in NHS general practice and also privately, using homeopathy alongside conventional medicine. Dr Jones can be contacted via the Faculty of Homeopathy on Tel: 020-7566 7800.

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