The main idea characterizing Staphisagria is SUPPRESSION OF EMOTIONS, particularly those centering around romantic relationships. Staphysagria patients are very excitable, very easily aroused; Their problems are then compounded when they do not allow natural outlets for their arousal. It can manifest in basically two ways which are typified by women and men. In women, the emotional suppression results in a state of sweet passivity and resignation – a kind of timidity. In men, this sensitivity may not be so obvious; to the outside world they may appear masculine, even hard, but inside they experience the same kind of delicate sensitivity and romantic vulnerability.
The Staphysagria woman is rather delicate and highly strung. She is a nice person, very considerate of others. She is a person who feels her problems belong to her alone. She would never presume to be a burden to others. At the outset of the homoeopathic interview, the Staphysagria patient offers very little information. She tends to talk only about the specific problems. It is not that she is a closed person in the true sense; she is merely reluctant to become burdensome to the prescriber. The Staphysagria woman is not outgoing or forceful. She is reserved, but with a sweetness. If the prescriber shows sincere interest and sympathy, the patient will open up quickly. This is in marked contrast to Ignatia, which is truly reserved; the Ignatia patient is aloof and guarded- difficult to open up. The staphysagria patient is never egoistical, harsh or proud. Even staphysagria man who appear strong and masculine to outward appearance, is very sensitive and timid inside. There is true humility arising from an internal assumption of powerlessness. The staphysagria patient feels unable to fight even for her own rights. In early years she experiences a few confrontations- however minor- and quickly learn to submit to any quarrel or imposition.
Even when she is in the right- when someone treats her unjustly- she will not fight back. She swallows her indignation, but the key distinction in staphysagria is that there is no bitterness. The passive suppression of emotion is then the trigger for the pathological picture of staphysagria. Although she remains sweet in her sense of powerlessness, there is deep weakening of the healing process internally. A kind of hardening or induration develops on the mental plane. The emotional wound never quite heals, and the patient’s innate sensitivity increases to an even higher degree. She feels even more vulnerable, less assertive, and consequently suppresses her emotion even more than previously.
The process of induration as a result of suppression is particularly visible on the physical plane. Wounds do not heal easily. It is not that they fester or become “bitter”, to carry further the analogy from the emotional plane. Instead, the damaged tissues becomes hardened and indurated. There is the development of hard, dead tumours, or chronic indurations of various kinds. This is particularly true in relation to sexual organs (ovaries, uterus, testes- – as one might expect considering the romantic/sexual arousal and sensitivity in the Staphysagria patient. A good example of this process is found in the evolution of styes. In Staphysagria, styes not only come and go as in other people, but they leave small hardened spots of induration which do not go away with time. Staphisagria is one of several remedies which are characterized by ailments from grief. Again, in Staphysagria there is a kind of “sweetness” in the face of grief. By contrast, Ignatia and Natrum mur. patients who have experienced many griefs become bitter; it is as if there is a thorn inside, and they become hard to reach. If you probe deeply in such patient’s you see a bitterness, a harshness, which is prickly like a thorn. In Staphysagria, on the other hand, your probings encounter a kind of sweet resignation.
A key aspect of the Staphysagria ailments from grief is that they are always in regard to romantic relationships. The long term suffering they experience rarely arises out of such griefs as professional setbacks, financial reversals, or even deaths in the family. They are nice people, and they get along well with people; if there is an occupational reversal, they recover easily and move on. By contrast, Aurum patients collapse totally after a business failure; they suffer a loss and shoot themselves or jump from a high building. In Ignatia or Natrum mur., a careful past history will reveal the onset of problems after deaths of relatives or loved ones. In Staphysagria, the suffering occurs more commonly in regard to romantic disappointments.
The Staphysagria patient’s sweet resignation is a kind o timidity, even though Kent does not list Staphysagria in the rubric Timidity. The reason for this is that such patients may not appear timid in public, in their occupations, at parties etc. They are nice people and they can be quite friendly. Their timidity occurs whenever they meet someone to whom they feel romantically attracted. Then they develop an active fantasy life, but they fear too much closeness; this is the origin and setting for their timidity.
The Staphysagria patient, as I have said, is highly excitable. He or she is easily aroused in a romantic relationship. The mental realm of fantasies and romantic imagery is greatly stimulated. She thinks about her lover all day long. Before falling asleep at night, she replays in her mind past encounters with her lover and imagines future possibilities. Her problem arises, however, when the relationship comes to the reality. She is more comfortable at a distance. She can be easily and fully satisfied by a purely platonic relationship. Such a patient can derive great pleasure from such a mental relationship for many years.
Because of her high degree of arousal and the fact that no natural outlets are allowed for her feelings, the Staphysagria patient places too much importance on little things; Small gestures, whether her lover greets her with the expected enthusiasm, etc. become exaggerated out of all proportion to reality. She can be easily satisfied by small things, but she may also suffer great agony over them. For this reason – and also because of her reluctance to proceed beyond the realm of metalized romanticism – many of her relationships fail to last. She experiences disappointments, and her vulnerability increases.
Thus, in Staphysagria patients you see many romantic griefs. They become easily aroused, fantasize, and then are disappointed. It is after repeated such episodes that they develop pathology on the physical level. After a disappointment – or a confrontation – they suffer diarrhoea, frequent urination, the development of hardened tumours, enlarged prostate, etc. They may suffer from headaches, especially a peculiar wood-like sensation in either frontal or occipital regions. This sensation of wood is highly characteristic, and it corresponds to the process of induration found on other levels as well.
It is important to emphasize that Staphysagria patients are very easily excited; All five senses can be aroused to fever pitch. This, coupled with their fear of intimacy, naturally leads to the strong tendency toward masturbation for which Staphysagria is famous. The Staphysagria patient’s fantasy reaches such a great intensity that it demands an outlet, so the patient satisfies this demand by masturbation.
Because of their high degree of sensitivity, Staphysagria patients are often artistically inclined. This inclination, however, usual y involves solitary artistic activities – painting, music, poetry. It would be very unusual to find Staphysagria indicated in an extroverted stage actor or singe. You may encounter, for instance, a sea captain requiring Staphysagria. Your first impression would never suggest Staphysagria for a man in a position requiring such assertiveness and hardness. But then you discover that internally he has a quite refined aesthetic sense, he spends his leisure hours writing romantic poetry. Such an image could lead to Staphysagria.
I remember a 35 year old man who responded very well to Staphysagria. He was nice man, he made friends easily, but he had a chronic reluctance to becoming involved in a real love affair. It was not that he was homosexual; he merely feared intimacy. He admitted to me that his major problem was masturbation. He felt compelled to masturbate daily from the age of 7 to the age of 35. At some level he felt that this was excessive, and he repeatedly resolved to control himself; but by the next day his will was weak, and he continued his habit. This had become a tremendous problem for him. I believe, if he had not received Staphysagria, he would eventually have degenerated into a terrible condition.
Such sensitive people, when they experience griefs or direct confrontations, are strongly affected in the nervous system in particular. They immediately suffer internal trembling, and this may eventually evolve into outright chorea. The circulatory system may also be affected; there may occur high blood pressure or unequal distribution of blood in the body. The face may be red or white, and the lips may be blue.
From the image presented so far, the reader can easily predict the effects of Staphisagria on the sexual sphere. At first there is great arousal, particularly when not actually in the presence of the lover. This arousal is released through masturbation. But whenever confronted with an actual sexual situation, the patient becomes impotent or frigid.
In children, of course, we do not see the same image as in adults.
Nevertheless suppression is still the major theme; You may see mental retardation caused by suppression of natural inclinations brought about by parent or teachers. I recall a case of an 11 year old child who had been intelligent, friendly and outgoing until he went to school at the age of 6. By his second year in school he was already falling behind in his work. By the time he saw me, he appeared to everyone to be mentally retarded. He had completely missed 3 full years of school. His behavior was very troublesome. He used to strike his mother so much that at first I prescribed Stramonium, without effect. Finally, I realized that the turning point in this case occurred when he entered school, so I probed persistently about the circumstances around that time. It turned out that the mother and father used to fight a great deal, which undoubtedly affected the child, but this had been true over a period of years. Finally, I discovered that he had been left-handed by nature, until the teacher forced him to write with the right hand “like all the other children”. From past experience I knew that such a suppression could be a powerful influence. On this basis, I gave Staphysagria and this child is now not only able to keep up with is schoolwork, but he is rapidly making up the 3 years he had lost.
In later stages of Staphysagria pathology, the over sensitivity can manifest as excessive irritability. Staphysagria can become destructive and violent – not as much as Stramonium, but to a significant degree nevertheless. In this stage, one can easily mistake Staphisagria and Coffea. Both are very excitable. Their senses, especially hearing, can become very sensitive; although not comparable with Stramonium.
The stages on the mental level are quite predictable from the basic Staphysagria image. At first, after a strong grief or confrontation, there is internal trembling. Later, this may develop into chorea; I have seen several cases of chorea cured by Staphisagria. Next, one may see loss of memory. The patient becomes mentally fatigued and forgetful. He or she may read something and cannot remember what has just been read; The induration which is so prominent on the physical level eventually reaches into the mental level as well. The intellect becomes “indurated”, inflexible. A kind of dementia develops; The patient cannot properly receive new ideas or external impressions, and e or she just sits and stares. Again, along with many other remedies, Staphysagria can be indicated in senility when the previous history shows a process of chronic suppression and induration.
Sex may degenerate into lasciviousness or lustfulness. An enjoyment beyond what is natural. Overindulging into sex relationships. Finds himself in a state where everyone dictates what he is doing with them (if in a lot of relationships). May create in his mind a state where he has no reigns on his life; everyone can do whatever they like. Let themselves get into situations that they did not really approved of. Cannot say no. So, a mess may develop after a while. Enlargement of the prostate gland can come about because of promiscuity, lustfulness, or maintaining long erections to satisfy others. So, forces the hormonal system to work in an unnatural way. Impotent after all the previous exertions – corrected by Staphysagria (with Lycopodium being the main remedy for impotency). May have painful erections in the night, out of the blue, long-lasting ones that are very painful.