Anxiety Disorders - Case Studies


Case #1

Emotional addiction, fear of abandonment, dependence and
dissatisfaction in love masked by hypochondriasis


Case #2
"Emptiness" disguised as claustrophobia and panic


Case #1: Emotional addiction, fear of abandonment, dependence and dissatisfaction in love masked by hypochondriasis

Melisa. 26. Married. She has two children, 4 and 3 years of age. Zodiac Sign: Scorpio. Date of first consultation (the only one): May 15, 2003

Melisa came to the office encouraged by her mother (a person involved in natural healing). I think she came out of mere curiosity and not because she really believed it would solve her problem. That may be why she attended only once, although it is enough to illustrate the point of the work presented in this paper.

She says that she has been under psychiatric treatment for a year because she has “fantasies of death” whenever she has simple physical symptoms. Her fears are all related to health. She believes she will die. She is acutely hypochondriac. Obviously, all her health tests showed good results. She calls her therapist to consult regarding even simple symptoms. Although her feelings are always the same, in the end what she fears (her death), never happens. She takes only one-fourth pill of Clonax (Clonazepan).

She is a teacher but stopped working when the first symptoms appeared. However, staying at home causes her weariness and discomfort. She is a completely controlling and demanding person, with a tendency to dramatize (according to her words). She is extremely dependent on all of her family members: “my husband – my children – my mother – my father (they are separated and although both lead individual lives with no problems she is concerned about that) – my brothers.”

However, the major object of her complaints is her husband (he is a teacher too). She claims he works too much and has little time to be with her. On the other hand, her husband says he has had to increase his workload because she stopped working.

“I always argue with my husband.” She doesn’t have a good relationship with him. And, Melisa is an insecure person in situations that involve her making decisions, changes, etc. Perhaps, this is one of the underlying reasons that drove her to “abandon” her work as the “symptoms” arising at that very moment were suitable and produced a secondary benefit. But, as she is always dissatisfied, she does not feel happy staying at home.

However, there is “one more detail” which outlines clearly the essence of this conflict. Osvaldo, her husband, was her boyfriend since she was a teenager. When he was seventeen, he was unfaithful to her, and because he was sorry about that, he confessed to her. Melisa was upset over the situation, although she went on with the engagement and finally they got married.

A long time ago, Melisa “found again” a friend from her adolescence; she had experienced a brief romance with him during a time of interruption in her relationship with Osvaldo. Nevertheless, she had no sexual relations with that person, since it was a short “love affair.” Then, there was reconciliation with Osvaldo, their engagement went on and the other relationship ended.

When Melisa encountered the man again, she had the chance to “conclude” the story with the romance and “take revenge” on the adolescent infidelity by Osvaldo. She was fine with the relationship as it was but the man wanted something more: he asked her to marry him. Although Melisa was not happy with her husband, she did not dare to abandon him and take on the new relationship completely. However, she continued with her secret meetings and also with her complaints to Osvaldo, strengthened by the symptoms of “her fears.”

Do you see clearly the true issue of the conflict?

I prescribed for her the following:

Bleeding Heart, Magnolia, Chicory, Heather, Walnut and Vervain.

The first four essences are different aspects of her emotional addiction, fear of abandonment, dependence and dissatisfaction in love, which is the core of the problem. Walnut can help her to detach herself from the symbiosis and to be actually “independent,” it may aid her to choose the way she wants to follow, but with actual freedom of choice. Finally, Vervain has to do with her eagerness and impulsiveness which are misdirected, and with her tendency to impose her whims (as Chicory does).

Bleeding Heart

Melisa did not come to the office again. She wished perhaps a “magical solution” to her “fear of death,” something that the psychiatric drugs prescribed a year ago, could not overcome. Nevertheless, she “needs” her fears to attract even more of her husband’s attention. Her usual complaints and demands are not enough. Besides, healing for her would mean not only stopping her fears but also, more importantly, to stop complaining, begin working again, to be responsible for her life, to grow up emotionally and decide what to do with her marriage and her future.

Case #2: "Emptiness" disguised as claustrophobia and panic

Gladys, 37. Married. She has two children, a girl aged 6 and a boy aged 3. Date of first consultation: Feb. 2, 2001.

She came to consult for “Claustrophobia and Panic.” These feelings arise when her husband takes her children anywhere. She is distressed when “they are not with her.” She is also fearful for her own mother, who lives in a town 110 km away; at the time of our consultation, this area was flooded.

Gladys has other fears when she has to leave her home or own familiar territory when she has to go somewhere or actually go on a journey. She is afraid of death. “The word death overwhelms me…”.

Her first symptoms appeared ten years ago, when “I had a job that I did not like and I did not want to work any more.” Once, she “got sick” at work; “I thought I’d died.” Later, the workplace was robbed and she was locked with her coworkers in a room. ”I became breathless.” In the end, she gave up working. She was under psychiatric treatment and was given Aropax (Paroxetine), which made her feel sick. Today, she takes Rivotril (Clonazepan), although this medicine has not helped to overcome her fears.

Considering her family history, Gladys has a twin brother, and she had a traumatic birth; she was in a breech position. She is wholly sensitive to anything that may make her feel emotionally excluded. She clearly states having feelings of abandonment. Loneliness has always been a key issue in her life.

I speak with my friends on the phone for hours”

Since she stopped working, she has not been involved in other activity, she has too much spare time and nothing appeals her. She does not even do the chores, as there is a hired person to do them for the family. She assures me that she gets on “very well” with her husband who is fifteen years older. Although, it is not true; on the contrary, the relationship is very tense.

Considering the information from the first appointment, we see that while there is a personality prone to fear, sensitive to these types of situations, there have, in fact, been some traumatic situations—a breech position birth, and the robbery and confinement in her workplace, which may be the foundations for the “causes” of her phobic symptoms. The patient refers later to her exclusion, abandonment and loneliness feelings, which are clearly obvious.

Another important aspect to mention is the “secondary benefit” her fears provided her when she left her job where she did not feel comfortable.

The first prescription was the following:

Rescue Remedy: To control her “attacks” and make her stable

Star of Bethlehem: An aid to the traumatic situations already experienced

Rock Rose: To control her panic

Red Chestnut: Because most of her fears are related to her family

Chicory: To overcome her deep exclusion and abandonment feelings

Star of Bethlehem
Rock Rose
Red Chestnut

Second appointment: March 8, 2001

During the month, she experienced two or three occurrences of claustrophobia. She speaks about her husband’s attitude which is not at all supportive of her symptoms. There is a clear submissive tendency to her husband’s will. He is involved in an illegal activity to earn his living; he earns his money through secret games of chance.

On this occasion the prescription was as follows:

Star of Bethlehem: To keep working on the trauma, this time without Rescue Remedy

Rock Rose: To overcome her fears (she continues with this essence)

Red Chestnut: To heal her fears and symbiosis with her family

Heather: For her feelings of loneliness (instead of Chicory)

Cherry Plum: To overcome her fear of feeling out of control when feeling panic

Centaury: For her submission to her husband

Third Appointment: April 6, 2001

She arrives and says: “a very good month.” She traveled to the city where her family lives for one of her nephew’s birthdays. At first, she did not want to go because of the distress she feels when traveling, leaving her own “environment.” Her brother invited her. “I liked that my brother called me”.

She did manage the situation, though there were several factors acting against her: the distance, traveling at night and the rigid attitudes of her husband, who drove her but refused to go to his in-law’s house because he “can’t stand them.” She took a little dose of Rivotril before departure. She felt comfortable. There was no fear when she traveled back home.

The following day, after the birthday, she visited a friend who, during the conversation, told her about a traumatic episode that frightened her, so she took her psychiatric medication.

She felt stronger in setting limits with her husband. When he made an inappropriate remark, she answered: “You should think about the way you speak to me…”.

During the consultation, she claims: “I have to accept that Oscar is getting older.”

She gets up feeling very positive in the morning and does not have negative expectations about how her day will be, although she says she is afraid of “being surprised” by her fears.

She also expresses: “I have things I wish to do with my time.”

The new prescription consists of:

Star of Bethlehem - Continued

Rock Rose - Continued

Red Chestnut - Continued

Heather - Continued

Centaury - It is kept to strengthen her

Aspen - Avoids feelings of anticipation


Fourth appointment: May 5, 2001

On the 20th of April 2001, she broke the bottle prepared the previous month. Therefore, she took the flower essences only for 14 days, and was without them for 15 days prior to this consultation.

The results are very positive. “I was fine.” “I did not get sick.” She frequently went out. She drove her car (she usually needed somebody to take her). She had the opportunity to go out, she was ready to go, but decided not to, because of a conflict with her husband. However, she says: “I responded to this episode in a different way.” In spite of that, it is clear she cannot decide to be independent of her husband. She could have gone alone but she did not. She is making other changes such as not taking Rivotril. She continues getting up with optimism, she dances and has fun at home.

Her fear for her children has diminished notably. She says that physically she feels well. She had just gotten a little cough. We have to take into account that she smokes twenty cigarettes a day and more when she is alone. (This is a very common feature of Heather patients, eating or smoking a lot when being alone, to fill their emotional emptiness.)

She also dares to face up to her husband and expresses: “I know I should separate from my husband.” She accepts her dependence: “I have all I need,” “I satisfy all my whims.” Despite the stressed relationship with her husband, he gives Gladys all the money she needs, which she wastes compulsively. She is thinking of having her teeth repaired because she is concerned about their appearance. So, she will go to the dentist, although this scares her. This may be the only issue with which she has no complaints or conflicts. Oscar uses his money for Gladys because he feels a fear of losing her, too. She is younger. However, with respect to affection, he is very hurtful with his words and as I mentioned before, he never helps his wife when she experiences a phobic crisis. On the contrary, he usually complains that “she will never be cured from that…”.

The prescription is the following:

Rock Rose: She continues with this essence but I’ve withdrawn Star of Bethlehem

Red Chestnut: It is necessary to continue with it

Centaury: It is necessary to continue with it

Chicory: I alternate this essence with Heather, to work on her needs

Cherry Plum: To treat her compulsive waste of money

Crab Apple: I add this essence to treat her undermined image (regarding her teeth)

Fifth appointment June 8, 2001:

She traveled again, but with her husband as usual, whose company she cannot do without. But, she felt very well.

She visited an aunt, who suffers from cancer and that night she could not sleep.

She started worrying about her mother again.

She is receiving dental treatment and is doing well.

She only has had brief moments of fear.

When I inquire of her how long her unbearable feelings of panic last, she answers that in all cases, “three or four seconds,” and that generally, they are not recurrent.

She states that she is more sexually disposed towards her husband; she usually refuses this interaction because of their ongoing conflicts.

Her symbiotic attachment to her children arises again. She also says she is missing her friends (from Buenos Aires) and she is becoming bored with where she lives.

Her conflictive relationship with her husband comes up again and she admits her convenience in staying with her husband although, she says, “I can’t stand him any more…” (She has already told a friend about this.)

She comments that she uses different “charms” for traveling, which actually are ordinary things to which she has given such value (a book, her walkman and a crucifix).

I try to encourage her to engage in any type of pleasant activity, to take care of herself, since as I mentioned before, Gladys does nothing for herself, not even household chores. I am not referring to a job because I am sure she will not do that. However, Gladys has an apathetic and passive attitude, because of her own “emptiness.”

On this occasion, I give her:

Aspen: Due to the “magical” content of her so called “charms”

Cherry Plum: Because her only pleasure appears to be compulsive shopping

Heather: To treat her emotional needs

White Chestnut: To treat her insomnia and the concern about her mother and her aunt

Wild Rose: To overcome her apathy and recover her interest in life

Sweet Chestnut: Because, though she is better, she is afraid of taking decisive steps in her “transformation”

White Chestnut
Wild Rose
Sweet Chestnut

After this fifth appointment, Gladys has not come back, despite her achievements and results.

I think there are two reasons for this resistance:

First, her “panic attacks,” as she calls them, have decreased. They no longer serve her as a “secondary benefit.” Considering this, let’s recall her words: “I have all I need” and “I satisfy all my whims,” referring to the money her husband supplies her, in contrast to other phrases like “I know I should separate from my husband…” and “I can’t stand him any more.” Evidently, in the conflict between these two tendencies, the first won and Gladys has chosen the more “comfortable” option, even though this decision thwarts her own healthy development.

Second, her absolute passivity and her lack of motivation in life, in relation to her resistance: during the last appointment, I had suggested that she do something with her life, according to her interests, (but her sole interest appears to be wasting her husband’s money). I advised her to look for any activity, not necessarily a job, but a hobby or something to study. I’m afraid that she did not like my last suggestion, (she would have had to work at it) and it could be that it was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” If her symptoms are not manifesting, she must take a leading role toward maturity and independence and all that would be too much for her. As with any phobic patient, the condition itself is an avoidance mechanism.

Aside from her marriage conflict which Gladys refuses to face, if she could at least channel her creative energy, it could provide her with some new dimensions to her very empty life. This “emptiness” can drive her before long, if she does not take care of herself, toward a strong condition of depression, adding to the emotional needs she has had since childhood and from her present marriage. Although she wants to cover them up, she has actually admitted to having them. She has not worked on these needs enough; five months is not a suitable period of time to consider this type of treatment completed.

Through the clinical history of the two examples cited above, we can perceive and appreciate the validity of the hypothesis set forth in this writing.

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