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Chemistry in the Consulting Room Post 9

It seems that within every walk of life the issue of sexual abuse is being thoroughly examined in the family, within the medical profession, the teaching profession, the church, and so on. There has always been the pain and suffering of sexual abuse; it just has not been talked about. It has been locked away in peoples’ bodies where it has formed an abscess which has now come to the surface. We did not know it was there and now we do. Any professional involved in a one-to-one relationship with a patient, which is, by definition, an intimate relationship from the patient’s perspective, is capable of abuse, because we have enormous power and because we are vulnerable – only being human.

There are no degrees of sexual abuse. All abuse has an effect. There are only degrees of effect. It is the breaking of trust that affects a person’s self-esteem and his/her ability to trust that creates a deep wound. People who suffer abuse feel helpless, inadequate, worthless and guilty as they blame themselves in an attempt to rationalize the experience. And they question their own experience, finding it hard to believe and harder to understand, whatever their age. They take a feeling of there being something wrong (or bad) with them into all their relationships, and then events tend to confirm their feelings as they are attracted to similar experiences, to similarly abusive relationships.

We need to make sure we don’t reinforce their negative self-image. People who have been abused lack self-definition and are often unable to validate themselves because they didn’t receive validation from others. We need to respect the trust our patients offer us, and treat it with great care. Disbelief and denial are genuine life-savers; we need to know how and when to shatter these boundaries.

Penetrating the Case?

When Dr. Chapman asked me to speak here, I was delighted and honored. When I received a letter from him suggesting that the topic for my presentation be “Penetrating the Case,” I was genuinely and thoroughly shocked! I rang and asked Ted whether it was a tongue-in-cheek title, or whether he wanted something particular from me. But when the shock had subsided. I realized what a marvelous gift he had given me. Because it led me to think about an area of homeopathic practice that I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to – our language.

There’s tremendous power in the use and misuse of words. Edward Whitmont came over and spoke to us last year. [3] He said, and I quote, “Words embody spirit. As we speak, so we also think. As we think, so we also feel.” I have never penetrated a case in my life, in or outside of the consulting room. It’s not what I do. Do I embrace a case? I don’t think so.

You know, most words have double meanings, but some are more double than others. Penetration has a lot of sexual energy. l believe we need to consider carefully the words we use to do our job. To reduce a person to a case interests me. Are we distancing ourselves?

What from I wonder? Our own fears, our own trauma? Where’s the respect here? I wonder if it enables us to do things we might not otherwise do. I suspect it is one of the ways we “rise above” patients’ traumas and side step our feelings, the effects our patients have on us.

Also, in the UK we are currently debating this issue of confidentiality with regard to “cases” presented in colleges and at conferences and seminars. I wonder how some patients, especially those who have suffered from sexual abuse, would feel about their “cases” being paraded in front of hundreds of homeopaths and then published, albeit anonymously.

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