Tarentula hispanica, although it has many symptoms in common with other remedies mentioned, it also has a particularly distinctive personality.
The primary focus of action of Tarentula, especially in the first stages, is on the nervous system. The nervous system in Tarentula seems wound up tight like a coiled spring, tense with boundless energy which must be expended to prevent it from breaking. The Tarentula patient is compelled to be busy, to act, to move constantly without ceasing. The early stages may be found most characteristically in people in occupations requiring much detailed work while under great pressure and responsibility, such as air traffic controllers or news journalists confronted with deadlines. The constant pressures results in a keyed up, oversensitive nervous system. Like Nux vomica, the Tarentula patient may initially be a compulsive worker. Such people seem to have super-human stamina, capable of and even compelled to work day and night, perhaps without sleep for weeks on end. They are industrious, capable, efficient; but unlike Nux vomica which is driven by a mental ambition and competitiveness, the Tarentula patient is driven by the nervous tension, the sheer compulsion to move and to keep busy.
Tarentula is – along with Sulphuric acid – the most hurried of all the remedies listed in the Repertory; many are listed in this rubric in strong grades, but Tarentula and Sulphuric acid lead them all. There is constant restlessness, most particularly of the lower extremities, but also of the entire body. Other remedies are characterized by such restlessness, but not to the extreme degree of Tarentula. The Tarentula patient will spend the whole night tossing and turning in bed until he finds himself with his head at the foot of the bed and the sheets tied in knots.
The Tarentula restlessness and nervous tension affects primarily the nervous system from the cerebellum and downward into the spine. Reading the Materia Medicas, the collection of symptoms belonging to it seem often inseparable from Arsenicum, but the Arsenicum restlessness arises from the mental/emotional plane, and it never has the excessive energy of Tarentula; it is an anxious anguished restlessness which only secondarily causes the characteristic restless changing of positions. Veratrum is also very hyperactive, but from an overactive mind. In Tarentula, the restlessness arises out of a need to release extreme nervous energy, which results in anxiety and activity of the mind as secondary effects to the disturbance in the nervous system itself.
The Tarentula activity is always very fast. Everything must be done with the greatest speed. He is even impatient with slowness in other people; if someone is walking slowly on the street, the Tarentula patient may become angry and urge the person to move along more quickly. On his way home, the Tarentula patient may walk faster and faster, until finally he is actually running the last leg. This arises not so much out of a sense of anticipation but out of a compulsion for sheer rapid motion.
Because of the wound-up state of the nervous system, the Tarentula patient is relieved by rhythmic activities and influences. Particularly striking is the soothing and calming influence of the rhythmic vibrations of music. Rhythm seems to channel and release the tension, thereby calming and quieting the nervous system. This is a different mechanism from the improvement from music seen in Aurum, which soothes more directly the mental level, or in Natrum mur. in which music produces a relaxing harmonious environment. Of course, the wrong type of music, particularly at a time when the Tarentula patient is under great pressure, can also trigger off and aggravate the wound-up state. The need for rhythm is the reason for the tendency of Tarentula patients to dance, to jump, and to run; and these movements are not merely gentle and slow.
Tarentula patient are driven to wild, frenzied, rapid and vigorous movements. At the same time, however, the movements are graceful, rhythmic and flowing; thus Tarentula is a prime remedy to consider in choreas, such as St. Vitus’ Dance of Huntington’s Chorea. Such a wound-up nervous system is not surprisingly affected by external pressures and influences. As mentioned, music of the wrong type may aggravate the condition. For the same reasons, Tarentula patients are markedly aggravated by touch. A striking feature is aggravation from bright or strong colours – red, yellow, green, black.
There is a lot of anxiety in Tarentula, anxiety that things will not get done, that something will go wrong. It is often an irrational fear, but it is a fear that again arises out of the wound-up state of the nervous system. On the other hand, the Arsenicum anxiety is a primary state on the emotional plane itself.
In the first stage, Tarentula is also a hysterical remedy. When the tension and external pressures become too great, the system collapses and produces physical symptoms which prevent the person from continuing. There may be spasms, fainting attacks, convulsive or choreic states, and other physical symptoms. These may last until the pressure is lessened, then disappear only to return again when the tension becomes unbearable. Merely removing stress, however, is not ultimately adequate in Tarentula patients, because the primary problem is the wound-up and tense nervous system.
In the second stage of Tarentula illness, the person begins to lose control and becomes destructive. In such a state of tension, if the restless Tarentula patient is restrained in some way, he becomes violent. At first, the destructiveness occurs only when the patient is alone. It is done in secret, hidden as much as possible from the knowledge of others. This leads to the well-known Tarentula state of fox-like cunning, and the fox-like look in the eyes.
Ultimately, however, the destructiveness becomes more uncontrolled and publicly evident. Tarentula may tear his clothes or break things. Most typically, the violence is directed at himself – selfinjury, banging the head, etc – but it may also be directed at others, Stramonium also has a destructive violence, but this violence usually focuses on others and on objects, and it arises from an uncontrolled eruption from the unconscious mental levels rather than from an overly wound-up nervous system.
In the third stage of Tarentula pathology, we see two characteristic types on insanity. These may occur separately in different Tarentula patients, or at separate or alternating times within the same patient; On the one hand, there may be severe and outright violence similar to Stramonium – desire to strike and to kill, and destructive violence with superhuman strength and stamina. On the other hand, there is an erotic mania in which the person is driven to make overt sexual advances to other people, even to strangers. Hyoscyamus also has an erotic mania, but it is more of a passive shamelessness, rather than the active and aggressive, advances of Tarentula.
On the physical level, Tarentula has varied and profound actions on virtually every organ system. It is very much like Arsenicum in its symptomatology and modalities on the physical level. There is chilliness and great emaciation. There is also periodicity and paroxysmal ailments. There is a profound action on the heart, with anxiety and palpitations, and mirtal valve degeneration with dyspnoea and palpitations. There are boils and carbuncles on the skin, particularly on the back between and on the scapulae. The genital organs are powerfully affected. In the female, there are fibroids, menorrhagia and nymphomania, with extreme itching of the vulva and high into the vagina. In the male, there is also great sexual desire, with pains and tumours in the testicles.