“Live life in Excess” are the four words that set the stage for an unparalleled experience. Excess is for the select few that savour the extra special in life, with the perfect blend of Progressive Global Cuisine, an International Live Band, an In House DJ and World Class Bartenders. Excess is a lifestyle, so Indulge, Live it up and Experience life in Excess”.
Does this ad represent the mantra of the modern man? Should we define whether this is normal / abnormal, physiological / pathological, individual / social, miasmatic /demiasmatic etc.? You may ask me why I am making the things perplexing. You may argue that these issues are already difficult. You may also render the philosophy – ‘Just go ahead’, ‘Indulge’. ‘Don’t think further’. ‘Just flow yourself’. ‘Life is large and a human being is too small to enjoy the excess of life’.
What is excess? Excess is a relative term. Individual priorities and resources have a big say in the issue of excess. Still excess can be defined, provided we do study interconnections and parameters well! The social parameters should not be brushed aside. The conscience, which judges inside, is the individual parameter.
We will try to discuss the issue of excess in two ways – inter-personal relationship and hoarding. For a homoeopath, it is essential know the dimensions of excess. He has to first define what is normal and then has to decide what is excess or abnormal.
We will begin with relationships. It is said that life is nothing but relationships. An interpersonal relationship is an association between two or more people that may range from fleeting to enduring. It may be based on several factors like love, business or some other type of social commitment. Interpersonal relationships are formed in the context of social, cultural and other influences and the context can vary from family or kinship relations, friendship, marriage, relations with associates, work, clubs, neighbourhood, places of worship, rather, any subject .
Relationships usually involve some level of interdependence. People in a relationship tend to influence each other, share their thoughts and feelings and engage in activities together. Because of this interdependence, most things that change or impact one member of the relationship will have some level of impact on the other member. The study of interpersonal relationship involves several branches of the social sciences, such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc.
Interpersonal relationships are dynamic systems that change continuously during their existence. Like living organisms, relationships have a beginning, a life span and an end. They tend to grow and improve gradually, as people get to know each other and become closer emotionally, or they gradually deteriorate as people drift apart, move on with their lives and form new relationships.
George Levinger’s Model
Psychologist George Levinger proposed one of the most influential models of relationship development. According to the model, the natural development of a relationship follows five stages:
Acquaintance – Becoming acquainted depends on previous relationships, physical proximity, first impressions and a variety of other factors. If two people begin to like each other, continued interactions may lead to the next stage, but acquaintance can continue indefinitely.
Buildup – During this stage, people begin to trust and care about each other. The need for intimacy, compatibility and such filtering agents as common background and goals will influence whether or not interaction continues.
Continuation – This stage follows a mutual commitment to a long-term friendship, romantic relationship or marriage. It is generally a long, relative stable period. Nevertheless, continued growth and development will occur during this time. Mutual trust is important for sustaining the relationship.
Deterioration – Not all relationships deteriorate, but those that do tend to show signs of trouble. Boredom, resentment and dissatisfaction may occur and individuals may communicate less and avoid self-disclosure. Loss of trust and betrayals may take place as the downward spiral continues, eventually ending the relationship. (Alternately, the participants may find some way to resolve the problems and reestablish trust.)
Termination – The final stage marks the end of the relationship, either by death in the case of a healthy relationship or by separation.
The benefit of this model is that one can see the stage in which the quality of relationship exists and one can anticipate the outcome.
Relationships: New and Too many
Every new relationship opens up new explorations, new worlds, new avenues, new possibilities, new responsibilities, new learning and it adds to the repertoire of life. When a person is unrelated he is alone, but with relationship, sharing begins. This addition may be positive, negative or neutral. If the relations are positive, it fostering the relations. Negative relations result in severing the relations and finally cutting them off. It is necessary that the objective of relations should be clearly defined. Many good relations wither, out of no common goal or the relations remain at a frivolous level. It is interesting to note that a person creates relationship and is also shaped by the relationship.
Some people don’t see the demerits of too many relations. They get swayed by the influences relations exert upon them. Remember, relationships cause a lot of chaos in life and there is the extra burden of maintaining them. “We are more affected by our relations to each other, than by our physical environment…The serious dangers and troubles of human life arise from difficulties of adjustment with our social environment” (Perkins, 1898 as cited in Appelrouth & Edles, 2008). Perkins lends support to the idea that human evolution is no longer based on the natural environment, but the social environment, which we have created.
It is important to figure out who are the most significant people in our lives who demand our attention and time, and which relationships are keeping us occupied for no reason. Managing the relationships is as important as managing time. The best example in this digital world is the use of social media like Facebook! There are many people in the friends list whom we do not even remember, yet we are still sharing our personal matters with them. Life will become more complex if one enters in more and more relationships. The relations should be based on quality rather than on quantity. It is better to be truly loved by few rather than just liked by all. Do we want to be known by a lot of people who hardly understand us? In business, one can understand the gathering more people. There is a qualitative difference between business relations and intimate relations. Intimate relations are based on the foundation of trust, love and personal sharing.
People often seek new relations as they get bored very soon. They may flow between old and new relations. Most people are discontented and they run after new relations in search of happiness. Some relations are fixed ones, given to us by Almighty. Our parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, even neighbours are fixed! In the work area too, we have the same people with us for a long time.
Discontentment results if the rhythm doesn’t match in the relationship. A person’s wishes, intentions, aspirations, ambitions, motives, needs and greed – all play a role in being discontented. People put their priorities first and try to fulfill them at the cost of others. Then mutual symbiosis disappears and one-sided affairs end the relationship. Once fulfilling the demands becomes a burden, harmony is affected. Limitations of the concerned people are a matter not to be overlooked. In the capitalistic world of today, the ‘usability’ concept has become so dominant that everyone has to bear the brunt of it. Capitalism dehumanizes people and that is becoming a major concern in terms of health now.
Active conflict in the relationship may cause relations to be toxic. It is compulsive for many people to continue with toxic relations. Remember, toxic relations are major causes of illness and they outweigh the infectious diseases. In the so-called life style related diseases, the role of toxic relations can’t be underestimated.
The homeopathy interview that explores the inter-personal relationship yields rewards! Exploring each individual family member in terms of characters and then portraying the concerned patient’s image is one of the rewarding techniques of interview.
It is the underlying miasmatic activity which is responsible for the quality of relations. The relations in the psoric miasm are strained due to emotional over activity, but they don’t go for cut off. Meeting the emotional needs of the concerned reduces the strain in the psoric miasm. The sycotic relations are associated with many negative emotions that are hoarded inside; grudges, resentments, disappointments, jealousy, internalization of anger etc. characterize the phase of sycosis. Tubercular and syphilitic relations take on deviant and perverted routes and represent the human species’ animal instincts.
Let us deal with our remedies, the living, throbbing individuals of our Materia medica.
Ars-alb longs for company in an obsessive way, chiefly to alleviate his inner fears and anxieties. He can’t tolerate being alone. His demand for order in even a trifling matter puts others in a ‘driven state’. His miserly, malicious, selfish and censorious disposition put relationships under strain. Ars-alb may make the relations toxic, especially close relations. His excess is pushing, anxiety, harping on mistakes of others and demands for perfection.
Pulsatilla craves company out of her abandoned feeling need for attention. Inter-personal relations are like oxygen for Puls. She is after too many relations. Her indecisiveness also plays a part. She is not all sugar. Her excessive, importunate but passive demands and craving for something more, make the relationship uninteresting. Puls is “given to extremes of pleasure and pain, of sentiments or moods.” Puls doesn’t make the relations toxic. Out of her coyness and infantile character, she withdraws from annoying and threatening relations. Her excess is being a leech and being greedy.
Kali-carb also craves company, but she has some say in relations. She likes company but may treat the persons disgracefully. Attachment is the basis of Kali carb and she can’t tolerate separation. She likes to continue harmonious relations with others. Kali carb puts too much anxiety in relations and this disturbs close relatives. She withdraws from toxic relations. She suppresses her anger in relations and becomes sorrowful. Her excess is attachment, anger, anxiety and sensitivity. Kali-iod is, however, different. Her family relations are strained and her excess is abusiveness towards her family members (like Scorp.).
Anacardium – It is interesting to observe how family dynamics affect individuals in the family. I had a family in which an Anacardium was born and the whole family lost their peace and the honour. It became increasingly difficult to control the rage and destructiveness of Anac and courts, criminality and jail became often repeated occurrences. Whenever we will think of toxic relations, remedies like Anac, Acid-nit, Hyos, Verat-alb, Merc-sol, Lach etc. should be thought of. I recall a case of a family’s only daughter who did an inter-caste marriage against the wishes of the parents. The father, an Acid-nit type, literally wanted to kill the couple. Life for this couple was about threat and torture. The father didn’t forgive and couldn’t deviate from his Acid nit. behavior. Toxic prolonged relations were the chief cause of chronic grief for the daughter.
Hyoscyamus craves company, but it is more for sexuality. He may be generous towards strangers, but avaricious towards his own family members. There is a rubric under Hyos, ‘Grasps greedily with both hands anything offered to him’ and this indicates his avaricious state. He has a strong delusion that he is not at home, and he can’t recognize his relatives. These two aspects indicate his state of detachment. His excess is his foolishness, sexuality, jealousy and suspiciousness, which all contribute to making relations toxic.
Hoarding and Excess
Hoarding is a natural and adaptive instinct, basic for survival. People take joy in hoarding. They feel honoured. They feel worthy that they are able to collect something out of this prodigious universe! Humans always feel a shortage of mundane goods. Insecurity hovers, for insecurity is also basic. Humans are sensitive to shortages. They are after filling the gaps, perpetually! They feel empty, vacant, unfilled and incomplete! How can I be incomplete in this world? I will do everything possible to make me adequate. The journey continues…
Hoarding has two sides–physiological and pathological. It’s like need and greed. The demarcation line between them is distinct but thin for many people. Hoarding to what extent? What have the people been collecting? Stockpiling of unnecessary things in an obsessive way is certainly pathological. Hoarding may have varying degrees depending on abundance, but this is not always true. Humans are nostalgic. They are the only species that take hoarding to a pathological level of excess.
Are we turning into a generation of hoarders? A recent survey in Britain has suggested that half of the space in Brits’ homes is occupied by what could only be deemed junk, ranging from toys to old computers and even clothes. The growth in consumerism, globalization and availability of money go for junk and clutter. One should not only blame external causes. The real cause springs from the human psyche. I would like to quote, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak” – Hans Hofmann (Introduction to the Bootstrap, 1993). Steven Anderson and his fellow neurologists at the University of Iowa found a link between indiscriminate hoarding and injuries to the brain’s right mesial prefrontal cortex.
For a homoeopath, it is necessary to study what makes a person hoard pathologically. One of my patients was a shopaholic and it was an overt reaction of the lady towards the husband who was humiliating her. Hoarding was the revengeful act! Another case : A fellow from a well-to-do family was begging for money and he used to become restless if he had little money. This was an embarrassing situation for the family and Platina helped this case. Still another case : An exuberant lady with psychosis would go on visiting malls one after another and return after she has exhausted her money. Her house was filled with all kinds of stuff, and everything was crammed into shelves, cabinets, on top of tables and counters or even piled up in rooms, entryways and hallways throughout the house. Her husband said that in their small apartment, it had become difficult even to walk! Veratrum album helped this case.
Calc’s selfishness is rooted in his insecurity, coupled with a very ordinary intellect. He knows that he is not capable to delivering excellence and he has to depend on others. In addition to this, he is idle and averse to work. His excess fat body makes him indolent. Calc hoards in order that the collected objects can be of use when needed. He hoards also the people on whom he can lean upon. He is a routinist and conformist and hence more self-centered also. He engages himself more in his family and his home and deprives himself of vivacity in life. Calcareas are cheerful when things are worked out by others and they fall into the trap of “my happiness is your responsibility”.
No remedy matches Sulphur in being selfish! The concept with Sulphur is ‘what is mine is mine and what is yours is also mine’. He is unconcerned with others and just thinks of himself. He constructs a model of the world in his head and there is fixity about it. He is a great collector and doesn’t want to give his things to the others. His house is like a shop and too many objects make him messy and disorganized. Mean mindedness, egocentricity, haughtiness and detachment characterize his life. He is a great gambler. Sulphur has two sides – one, which is materialistic, and the other non-materialistic. He hoards objects but is indifferent to using them. His excess is also ‘indifference to external things’ and philosophical leanings. He hoards knowledge more and that makes him excessively egoistic.
Lycopodium – What can be said about vegetable Sulphur, our opportunistic and pompous Lycopodium? His journey is for excessive appreciation. Inflation of ego and encroachment on others for satisfying his ‘id’, is his way of life. He hoards objects of a highly expensive type and boasts of his achievements. He has excessive lust of power and he uses all tricks to remain in power. He is a charlatan and a cheater who uses others. Lyc may be called a representative of the modern capitalistic society where people are valued on the basis of their usability. Prolonged sycotic miasmatic activity is at the basis of this excess.
Plumbum met is self-indulgent in excess. It is indicated for the types who have been egoistic, selfish throughout their lives and enjoyed the best of everything. They hoard expensive objects, decorate their homes and they gain money by deceiving and cheating people. Plumbums are usually found in politics and high finance society, and they are unconcerned with the sufferings of the poor.
There is an interesting rubric, Mind, desire, more than she needs and the remedies are Arsenicum Ars-s-f, Bar-s, Bry, Zinc-p. Arsenicum’s greedy disposition demands more and more and that too in a perfect manner. In Ars-s-f, both Ars and Sulph make a double expression of greed. Bry is calculative and money minded and his demands are centered on his inner insecurity. Zinc has fear of robbers, of being imprisoned or buried alive and these fears play a big role in ‘desires’ and excess.
Excess has been discussed in terms of inter-personal relationship and hoarding. As a matter of fact, excess touches every field of our life. Excess has to be defined in an individual instance. Miasmatic assessment of excess is necessary for perceiving it in all dimensions. All miasms-Psora, Sycosis, Tubercular and Syphilis represent excess. In tubercular and syphilitic miasms there is perversion of excess. The homeopathic interview should be deep enough to perceive the essential characters that make a person unique.