Flower Essence Therapy and Psychiatric Emergency


by Bárbara Espeche, edited by Jann Garitty

Editor's note: This is a narration of a case presented by flower essence practitioner, Barbara Espeche, Buenos Aires, Argentina, which has been edited for publication. It was originally presented in Spanish at the last Floral Congress in 2007. The fundamental essence in this case is Glassy Hyacinth.

Personal information

Psychiatric emergency

First diagnosis: Moderate Autism

Second diagnosis: Severe Autism, with risk to himself and others

Detailed essence selection

About Barbara Espeche



Personal Information

Maxi — Male, 21 years old, only son of elderly parents, 1,75 meters tall (5.74 ft.), white, blue eyes and blond hair. He walks wearily, bent and with a balancing movement from side to side.

Psychiatric Emergency

Maxi is seeing me due to his mother’s decision; she knows about the benefits of flower essences and wants to try them, because she senses that Maxi suffers a lot and she can do nothing else to ease his pain. Her son is at a "crossroad" because the psychiatric medication he has been taking has reached its upper limits and she hopes that flower essences might help him at this point of crisis, at least until his case is reviewed by a medical clinic.

His first episode occurred when he was 3 years old; prior to that, he was not able to adapt to and/or integrate with other children or groups. He almost stopped talking with his already basic vocabulary.

First Diagnosis: Moderate Autism

Maxi experienced crises during all stages of his life, and was always treated with psychiatric medication. He attended a special school since he was 4 years old up until now, where he hardly learned to write his name, “mommy,” “daddy” or other words. His means of expression and communication were drawings and colours.

The only moments when he is calm and focused are while drawing. Sometimes when he finishes his drawings he tears them up, or shows them to his mother insistently. From insistence he turns violent, against himself and his parents. In those moments of violence he has an enormous strength.

As years went by, his language and communication skills became less than basic. When out of control, he walks bent, slipping one foot as monkeys do. He hurts his head by hitting the wall until it bleeds. He has a history of very noticeable mood changes at specific hours of the day, and especially when night comes. Thereafter, he hides in a corner of the room, trembling and scared, groaning as if crying, but with no tears. His language and communication are rather deteriorated.


Second Diagnosis: Severe Autism, with risk to himself and others

Following this diagnosis, he had several stages of full hospitalization for about 4 to 6 month periods, and other periods of time in day-hospital. What is most shocking and frightful is to listen to the guttural and terrifying sounds he makes, groaning like a wounded animal.

At the present time, he is provisionally in day-hospital and might be hospitalized for an undetermined period of time, according to his doctors´ decision. Most of the symptoms were controlled by increasing the medication:

Risperidona, anti-psychotic
Tegretol, anti-psychotic
Rivotril, for convulsions, anxiety; hypnotic and muscle relaxing

It is expected that during the next medical clinic assessment, the drugs will be changed.

In view of such a depressing evolutional picture, his mother asked me for an appointment, attended alone and narrated this story. She says that she needs more than “hope” for Maxi and herself. Her husband prefers the hospitalization, and that could be for life! 


Addressing the underlying severe trauma

His mother took with her the first flower formula for Maxi, without my having met him personally; the essences were:

Star of Bethlehem – for the traumatic aspects
Sweet Chestnut – for the extreme anguish
Saint John´s Wort – for general and night fears
Glassy Hyacinth – for the frozen horror

His mother called and asked if she could come for an appointment with Maxi, and said he was more quiet and less aggressive.

Star of Bethlehem
Sweet Chestnut
Saint John's Wort
Glassy Hyacinth

Trapped in darkness and great suffering

I met Maxi. He is hand in hand with his mother and does not greet me. They both sit. While his mother talks and talks, Maxi moves his hands compulsively as if fluttering. I give him white paper, crayons and colour pencils. He stops trembling and draws in black his first piece; all of it in black. He then takes his drawing, puts his head back with his mouth open and makes guttural sounds— “OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.” In his drawings I perceive he is trapped in his darkness and in great suffering.

His first drawing automatically reminds me of the black sketches of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, that enormous mouth in an “O” shape, sunken in a wild and desperate shout.


The second flower essence selection was: Star of Bethlehem, Sweet Chestnut, Saint John´s Wort, Glassy Hyacinth plus Cherry Plum because he is sometimes immovable and other times is out of control.
Cherry Plum

Artwork as a vehicle of commmunication

This was the second meeting with Maxi and his mother. They sat, he was quiet, and his mother referred to being hopeful because Maxi is not aggressive nor hurts himself.

Maxi made slow noises and his mother asked me to give him paper and pencils. Again I gave him one paper and he concentrated on his second drawing; he painted with black and some yellow, a mouth in oval shape and the eyes with a touch of yellow. He handed it to me and grasped my hand very strongly. I looked straight into his eyes and with my other hand I caressed his hand. He relaxed and released very slowly and with care. Wonderful! I believed we had found a communication code with Maxi through drawings, eyes and hands.


The third formula for Maxi was Star of Bethlehem, Sweet Chestnut, Saint John´s Wort, Glassy Hyacinth, Cherry Plum plus Golden Ear Drops for his permanent painful innocence.
Golden Ear Drops

"Now I listen”

We had the same basic routine. His mother told me she noticed some soft but very important changes. Maxi grabbed my hand and shook it a little (he is asking for paper and colour pencils). The mother relates having seen him looking through a window; after eating he cuddled in the armchair and was very passive, sleepy and silent. He already had an appointment to visit his psychiatrist.

Maxi handed me his third drawing, which follows the E. Munch standards for drawings made by psychiatric patients during stabilization periods. He colours the oval face, mouth and eyes with yellow strokes. Amazingly, in his new drawing, he adds red in the ear zones, which in our communication code tells me, "Now I listen.” Then, he rests his hands on the desk and does not move them until I realized what it meant, and then I placed one hand on his; so he stayed until the end of the session.


The fourth formula was similar to the previous one with the addition of Angelica, which I presumed would give him security and protection.

Serenity comes forth

Maxi had gone to his psychiatrist. We followed the same routine as before with paper, colour pencils, drawings, and visual and tactile contact. The mother was very happy because Maxi went to the doctor and he asked, “What had happened?” She explained about the flower essences, the drawings, the window, his serenity, his non-aggressive behavior, and also his drowsiness. The doctor then lowered the dose of the medication due to the sleepiness and told the mother to "continue with the flower drops."

Maxi handed me his painting, and I saw that he had used more colors—orange, red, green, brown and a lot of yellow, resembling waves coming out of his ears.

Fifth formula: Glassy Hyacinth, Golden Ear Drops, Angelica, Cherry Plum, plus Wild Rose (to awake in him some other interests) and Madia (to focus his consciousness).
Wild Rose

A new being emerges

We went through the same routine. Maxi drew using colours with great intensity, and for the first time paints his eyes blue.

He has qualified to attend a special school for 6 hours everyday. Although he has drastically improved, he is still inhabiting two worlds. He has a better quality of life, has not lost control again, does not attack nor shout painfully; he has come out into the sun, laughs, interacts with some people, dresses and bathes himself, and is not ashamed to be seen. 


A delicate balance between two worlds is possible

Maxi is continuing to take flowers; all of them are important, but I think that Glassy Hyacinth helps him live with a delicate balance between his two worlds, a certain light has flooded his soul, and it’s possible that Maxi knows more than I have access to knowing about him. Maxi is a special adult, but not unhappy; he is now “illuminated.”

I considered using Black Cohosh essence, but I didn’t dare to, because it is a complex psychiatrist case, with violence and self aggression.

I wanted to help Maxi improve his gestural and verbal communication, and reinforce his creativity. Maxi is taking Cosmos, which has been very positive—his speech fluency is improving, Iris helps to liberate his creativity, and Madia helps to maintain his attention. In the same formula, I continued to add Cherry Plum and Glassy Hyacinth.

See all of Maxi's drawings here.

About Bárbara Espeche

Bárbara Espeche is a flower essence therapist who specializes in psychosomatic disease. She is the author of ten books on flower essence therapy and is the Director of the Institute of Floral Therapy of Argentina, which was founded in 1988.


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