by Rosângela Teixeira

Editor's note: This is an FES certification case study as submitted by Rosângela Teixeira upon her completion of study at Instituto Cosmos in Brazil. Deep analysis on the part of the practitioner is required for case studies submitted for FES certification. The analysis utilizes concepts as put forth by Patricia Kaminski in her teachings, and include "The 4 R's" and the "MetaFlora" process for healing. Links to more information about these concepts can be found at links in the text below. This case has been edited for web presentation.

This case depicts the one-year period in the treatment of a fifty-nine-year old married woman, S. It illustrates the importance of using flower essence therapy in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). With this work, I hope others with OCD can benefit from this healing modality, by recovering patience, will, perseverance and hope in their search for inner peace.

The main essence in this therapeutic process was Filaree, which I consider the flower for OCD. By itself, it works on perfectionism, control, obsessions, rituals, compulsions, ticks, and anxiety; that is, all the themes that afflict a person with this disorder. It enlarges perspective and gives back the right balance to situations. Filaree especially speaks to everything that is obsessive, compulsive and repetitive. I see that when Filaree enters the formula, it provides a subtle detachment, as if a switch has been turned off or a rope has been loosened.

My goal was met after one year of treatment; the flower essences gave comfort to S., as well as self knowledge, and consequently, self-control. She still resorted to some of her ritual behaviors; it was not expected that she could, in so little time, reach the strength to abandon them completely. It is known that OCD sufferers live imprisoned in their minds and a one-year treatment is little time for her to have found the key to her “prison.”

What my client and I owe to flower essences is the achieved success in so little time, and the maintenance of her quality of life. OCD is a chronic and progressive anxiety disorder which in order for results to be achieved, medical and psychotherapeutic treatments are necessary. Over the course of treatment, S. did not need to look for medical help; she kept herself well with the flower essence treatment only. According to Ana Beatriz Barbosa da Silva, in her book  Mentes e Manias (Minds and Manias), Ed. Gente, “OCD is considered an auto-immune disease of the mind, which imprisons the person into a false feeling of safety, stealing from this person all possibility of freedom and peace.” These people suffer a great deal. That is why I thought we could reach great results with the flower remedies: bringing peace to her mind without medical intervention.

An internal conflict expressed through panic and depression


Analysis of the case of S. utilizing the 4 R's
Releasing fear and anxiety
Recognition of OCD

Working through past traumas and suffering

 

The role of faith in combating fear


S.'s journey through the MetaFlora Levels of healing

Structuring of a home in her body
Cultivating the learning, growing and change of conscience
Finding out her purpose, social service
Recognizing and facing the shadow
Cultivating her spiritual Self


Stress and tension no longer trigger symptoms of OCD

 

About Rosângela Teixeira

 

An internal conflict expressed through panic and depression

S. came to me with signs of panic and heavy depression. I realized immediately that the panic represented the expression of an internal conflict of some sort and in order for these episodes to no longer occur, we needed to find out the underlying trigger. Given the gravity of the case, we agreed to have sessions once a week.
         
The flower remedies helped her to reorganize herself and overcome her panic without resorting to chemical drugs. Her routine went back to normal with her traveling and going out as she had always done: “I feel great.” Her depression had also improved, with high spirits and a disposition to perform her daily chores. My goal with this case, however, was not to linger on this phase of S.’s therapy.

As the therapy went on, she started showing persistent and excessive worrying about her family’s health and her own, and also about a possible loss or distancing involving family members. The stress originated by these thoughts caused her great anxiety and nervousness: “I think a lot, that’s why I cannot be still. I have to find something to keep myself busy.” I realized that her mind was repeatedly invaded by unpleasant and improper thoughts which caused great affliction and anxiety. In addition, she had thoughts with tragic content in relation to her family and herself.

The following sessions indicated that I could have a case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder on my hands. With frequency, people suffering from this kind of disorder hide ideas and behaviors from their friends and family, either because of shame or because they are also aware of, the absurdities of the self-imposed demands. S. ignored the fact that her symptoms could be part of a specific psychopathology. Therefore, I knew my flower and psychotherapeutic approach should be very cautious. That is why my first specific formula had the goal of alleviating her anxiety and obsessive thoughts:

  • White Chestnut for ruminating thoughts and obsessive worries which do not allow the mind to rest and are independent from her will
  • Rock Water for the excessively rigid pattern of perfection, based on ideals of discipline and control; the flower essence was used to make her more flexible by allowing her to accept the obstacles that could appear in her life
  • Cherry Plum to control her thoughts and herself
  • Red Chestnut for the exaggerated preoccupation with her family’s health
  • Chicory for detachment from her family
  • Aspen for the constant fear that something could happen
  • Mimulus for the fear of death and general fears
  • Impatiens for the impatience, nervousness and restlessness that her clinical picture generates
  • Scleranthus to bring balance in moments of extreme instability and affliction which are common in these cases
  • Walnut for diminishing her sensitivity and being able to eliminate behaviors that harmed her
  • Sweet Chestnut for the heavy desperation and anguish which her state made her feel
  • Cerato because people who suffer any kind of anxiety disorder have great insecurity; to allow her to trust her own inner orientation
  • Arnica important essence which must be part of formulas for people who suffer any kind of anxiety disorder, because these people have a negative view of the world, and become pessimistic and hopeless
  • Filaree for relief of anxiety and also because of my suspicion that S. could be an OCD sufferer, and this flower remedy represents, for me, the archetype of such a disorder
  • Canyon Dudleya was used because of my suspicion of anxiety disorder in which there is excessive fear that exaggerates situations. And also, so that S. didn’t overestimate the content of her thoughts to the point of considering them the cause of tragic happenings. To me, this essence is fundamental in all flower remedy formulas for sufferers of any anxiety disorder.

This formula was administered orally, 4 drops, 4 times a day during two months. After that, she became much more tranquil and reported feeling sleepier than normal.

Filaree; photo by Wayne Lewis

Analysis of the case study utilizing the 4 R's

For a summary of the 4 R's, read here

        Stage 1 – Release, Relaxation or Rejuvenation

Releasing fear and anxiety

As the formula was basically indicated for fear and anxiety, I believe that my patient completed this initial stage of healing; she did not get so absorbed in these emotions, was breathing in a much more relieved way and feeling sleepier than normal.

But, she surprised herself when she started looking back on her past, talking about her wedding and the trauma of the separation. Using the time of our sessions together in trivial conversation was a habit, which I knew was a way she found to deviate my attention from the main theme for which she had come to me: OCD. I’ve always respected her actions and decided to wait for the moment in which she would feel the need to speak. The formula to alleviate her thoughts and fears continued until she started speaking of her cleaning and tidying manias: “I sweep the porch all the time.” “I can’t allow myself to leave dirty dishes in the sink.” “I can’t stand seeing anything that is dirty.” “I have two slippers to use at home: one for the porch and another for using inside the house.”

Stage II – Realization and Recognition

Recognition of OCD

When she realized that her repetitive behavior was part of a picture of anxiety, by identifying thoughts and emotions, and recognizing them as necessary in the search for a false “tranquility,” she entered this stage of healing.

From that moment on, S. started talking about her rituals and the uncontrollable need to follow them. She said that her thoughts were tragic and that she needed to perform some actions in an attempt to prevent them from happening: her slippers needed to be aligned in a symmetric way (symmetry mania) and she felt uncomfortable when she saw pictures or objects not straightened out, which provoked an uncontrollable impulse to straighten them so that nothing bad would occur.
    
At this moment in therapy, she confirmed my suspicions: S. suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a mild form, but that nonetheless caused great suffering and anguish.

Alchemically, at this moment, S. realized that her process was part of a disorder known as OCD. She identified her obsessions and compulsions as necessary to alleviate her anxious mind.

My client needed to enlarge her life perspective, and restore the balance in her daily life. In the next formula, I kept the same flower remedies and added the following essences:

  • Crab Apple to eliminate the feeling of impurity and contamination. For the self-destructiveness caused by the obsession with perfection. For the compulsive cleaning and tidying of the house, with aversion to anything that was dirty or misplaced
  • Sulphur Flower for clinging to negativity; because of fear, negative mental images are created

Filaree from this moment on would reveal itself as the greatest essence for OCD, essential to work on her perfectionism, her exaggerated preoccupation with details, the anxiety, and the compulsion in repeating movements, her methodical and obsessive behaviors and other rituals.
         
During this period, S. suffered another great trauma: her youngest daughter separated from her husband after just one year of marriage. The situation was repeated in the family again: she had gotten through a separation, and her two daughters as well. It was a moment to which I remained very attentive and S. questioned herself a lot: “Why did the three of us have to go through a marriage break up?” “None of us gets to stay married.”
However, this time, she had the help of flower remedies to overcome this pain. According to her, if she hadn’t been going through flower essence therapy, “I would be desperate.” I don’t know what I’d do now if it weren’t for the flower remedies.” It was important to realize that there wasn’t a worsening of the obsessive symptoms, and neither of the compulsions. The flower remedies gave her the necessary support.
         
I begin to realize that S. was less anxious. She continued under great stress, due to her daughter’s separation, but she managed to keep herself balanced. Her speech was more paused and coordinated. This was a very important period to observe the work of flower remedies in a crisis situation, where the OCD symptoms could be aggravated. The flower remedies did not allow her to lose focus, by giving her the due proportion of the facts and letting her be free to act and think (she greatly helped her daughter in the process of separation) without being involved in the confusion of emotions and negative thoughts. Not for a single moment did S. lose control of herself or the situation. She even reported the surprise of her daughters with her self control and effective help in the legal and emotional matters of the separation. In the past, her desperation would be of such a degree that her daughters would be the ones who needed to help her.
         
At this point in the therapy, S. already accepted and spoke more comfortably about the disorder. This was one of the effects of the flower essences as well.
         
Together, we discovered that the cleaning and tidying mania started soon after her marriage. It became clear that she “contaminated” herself with it, which got aggravated by a miscarriage episode that made her feel “disgust” at her ex-husband and at herself. The strong feelings of guilt for the miscarriage and the betrayals of her ex-husband were extremely powerful traumas for S. and they remain in her memory up until today as generators of the feeling of impurity and disgust at herself.

Stage III – Reaction, Resistance and Reconciliation

Working through past traumas and suffering

By working with the traumas and sufferings from the past, my client entered this stage of healing when she identified her marriage as violent and injurious; it caused her great tension for many years. It was the cause of great corrosion to her nervous system, and as time went by transformed her into an excessively anxious and stressed person.

Here, S. remained for a long time in the alchemical phase of calcination, feeling anger and resentment towards her ex-husband, the cause of her inner process.

The flower essences included (again, I did not exclude any flower) in the subsequent flower formulations were:

  • Pine for guilt about the miscarriage and for the condemnation toward her past
  • Willow to stop mourning the broken marriage and the miscarriage and start taking responsibility for her actions in each one of these moments
  • Holly for the devastation that she suffered with her marriage and the miscarriage episode, and also because she was still stuck at that time in her life

The role of faith in combating fear

For about five months, S. remained well and kept her commitment to the therapy (she used to miss many sessions). She no longer felt the need to have trivial conversations with the intent of avoiding the central treatment issue, which I consider another result of the flower remedies.
         
From that moment on, I started to direct the psychotherapy and the flower remedies towards faith; because the people who suffer this type of disorder really need to work spirituality, with whatever beliefs they have.
         
According to S., it was faith that had kept her going during the traumatic situations, although I questioned this point of view. For this reason, I decided to work on her “anchoring.” According to S., her faith was unquestionable, until that moment. But the anxiety disorder, the flower remedies, and the psychotherapy forced her to re-evaluate her points of view.
         
She told me that when her thoughts tormented her a lot, she sang “pontos de macumba” – which are “prayers in the form of music;” they are mantras that allow contact with the spiritual world. S. made use of this “strategy” to calm down in moments in which she considered herself to be desperate. What she failed to recognize was the fact that this was just another of her manias. This particular one, known as mental mania, includes involuntary acts of a mystical nature to fight away bad ideas. There is no real faith in this behavior; it is just a mechanical act to prevent suffering, and it is unfruitful, because it lacks confidence in God’s power. S. was surprised when she said that if she didn’t do some type of ritual to get rid of a bad thought, “God would punish her.” Her reaction was instantaneous: she became frightened by her own words. This was a very rich moment for both of us. She truly needed to determine the importance of faith as an inner force. “If he is pure love and forgiveness why would he need to punish one of his children?”, I asked. That was a moment of great insight for her. It was fundamental for the evolution of her treatment that she awaken to the conscience that there is something bigger and that, up to that moment, she hadn’t been in synchrony with that power. And the biggest proof of that was that she let herself drown in so many fears.

From that moment on I included the following flower essences:

  • Wild Oat for her to discover her life’s purpose and commit to it
  • Gentian for perseverance when facing challenges, by neutralizing the despair and the tendency to give up when facing obstacles; for lack of faith
  • Purple Monkeyflower because she thought she was supported by her religion (Umbanda) but which in reality, she did not believe enough to alleviate her pain; for her to find spirituality based more on love than on fear; to get her rid of the feeling of punishment which religion imposed on her

From that moment on, S. experienced moments of consciousness, understanding the way she lived with faith and how much it could determine or prevent the influence of fear in her life. She started reevaluating her beliefs, that is, the way she saw, thought and experienced the world. She also started recognizing that the only way out to overcome her fears would to face them. And to achieve this, she needed to believe.

S.'s journey through the MetaFlora Levels of healing

For more explanation of the MetaFlora Levels, read here.

S. came to therapy with the MetaFlora levels 1 and 5 activated, that is, she was in need to expand her emotional repertory (1), work her relationships and build a chalice for her soul (5).
         
However, the MetaFlora levels that I chose to focus on, and the ones which I consider the most problematic were: 2 (structuring of a home in her body), 3 (cultivating the learning, growing and change of conscience), 5 (finding out her purpose, social service), 6 (recognizing and facing the shadow), and 7 (cultivating her spiritual Self).
         
During this period, S. did not reach MetaFlora level 8 (connection with nature and recognition of the Earth as a living being).
         
S. reached MetaFlora level 2, when she became aware of messages in her soul in the form of physical symptoms (sciatic, labyrinthitis) and, that they needed to be understood and respected. From there, she renewed her care of her physical body, through walking, diets and acupuncture, making an option for an adequate medical and nutritional control.
         
The key flower essences for this MetaFlora level were: Arnica, Mimulus and Crab Apple.

The main issue for S. was related to MetaFlora level 3. Here she found out that her clinical picture was part of a specific anxiety disorder and that past traumas made her use thoughts (obsessions) and rituals (compulsions) with the goal of bringing relief to her mind. She reached this MetaFlora level when she was led to search for new ideas with the goal to make her mental obsessions more flexible, realizing that she needed to develop imaginative thought to go beyond her pessimistic and negative thoughts. To achieve that, she introduced changes in her life style that facilitated mental control, trying to transform her fear and anxiety experiences into something useful. She tried to make use of positive mental image exercises, with which she could gain back control of her mind and not be controlled by it anymore.         

The key flower essences for this MetaFlora level were Chestnut Bud and Impatiens.
         
MetaFlora level 4 was activated when S. discovered a way of mental occupation in her work (“I can’t even think of retiring”). Here, the exercise of her work is essentially in tune with her mental condition. It is also in this MetaFlora level that she found out the importance of being part of a group volunteer action: by helping children, S. distances herself from her mental world. Now, the greatest life purpose for her is to bring relief to her mind. The key essence for this MetaFlora level is Wild Oat.

In MetaFlora level 6, S. became conscious of her issues, that is, she understood the conflict with her ex-husband as the cause of her “contamination” and subsequent fears. The hate she felt towards him due to their break up, the guilt and sadness about the miscarriage, the betrayals and the undone marriage caused her great pain. S. came to this MetaFlora level when she awoke to forgiveness, understanding and accepting the difficulties which led the couple to that end. At this moment, she stopped complaining and transformed bitterness and resentment, discovering that each life story holds learning and that the continuity of life depends on it. Here, she stopped seeing a relationship between her separation and her daughter’s marriage separation. She understood from that moment on, that each one of them had her own responsibility in the way they lived their marriages, and consequently, the way they ended up.
    
The key essences for this MetaFlora level were Pine, Rock Water and Willow.

MetaFlora level 7 was another great moment in S.’s treatment, because here she began to use her beliefs in a positive manner, not based on fear. But she will only have completely reached this MetaFlora level when she is able to integrate true spiritual values into her daily lifestyle, that is, when her negative and pessimistic thoughts are replaced by a religions orientation that makes her feel relaxed and safe. This MetaFlora level is still being constructed in therapy and S. will only have reached it when she contacts the Divine, developing deep communication that will make her find inner forces for helping overcome her fears, replacing thoughts, manias and rituals. 

The key essence for this MetaFlora level: Purple Monkeyflower.

Stress and tension no longer trigger symptoms of OCD

When we started the treatment, S. felt it was impossible to overcome her issues. However, we were on the right path; although we were still far from reaching the self confidence needed to suppress S.’s fears, the flower remedies acted in a very objective way, involving changes in behavior and modification of distorted ideas.

The treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is not a quick process. It is in fact, a struggle, where the role of the flower remedies is to provide support, flexibility, acceptance, self-knowledge and motivation to engage and participate in this fight. What became very clear to S. with the use of flower essences, was the perception that the treatment depended on her and not the other way around.

We continued the therapy and my goal was to focus on her thought processes, because they influenced her view of the world, reflecting on her emotions and behaviors.

S. still had, though at a minor level, a negativist, pessimistic and self-deprecating thought pattern that actually did not interfere greatly in her life. Grateful for the results, S. agreed to share her case in the research program of the Flower Essence Society. And, as she would say in her personal testimony:

For one year I have been treated with flower remedies and I am sure that I will get to where I want to be, totally focused… Thanks to God, I have had a great response; I cannot say that I’m cured from everything that afflicts me, but I’m much better. I feel great. I let the flower remedies work on me naturally, I allowed them to help me and I could not live without them today.”

S. was responding so positively to the flower essence treatment that her sessions passed from every week to every 15 days and finally to every month. We do not see each other in therapy anymore, but we continue to be in touch by email or telephone, according to her needs. We determined that she could walk on her own, and agreed that she would continue making use of a basic flower formula (Five-Flower Formula/Rescue Remedy, Elm, Rock Water, Crab Apple, Cherry Plum, White Chestnut, Wild Oat, Gentian, Gorse, Filaree, Canyon Dudleya, Red Clover, Arnica, Yarrow and Pink Yarrow). Following therapy, S. went through many difficult situations, such as the prolonged illness and death of a very dear aunt, the case of a niece with cancer, and worries about her mother’s health showing signs of debility. S. went through all these situations under much stress, with the usual anxious pattern. But impressively, she did not feel them as hyper-dimensioned as before. Without the exaggeration, S. did not trigger OCD, that is, no mania and no rituals were necessary, thus reaffirming to S. and me, the extreme benefits of the flower essences in the relief for her symptoms, and consequent change in the way she lives her life.
         
Additionally, S. no longer shows obsessive concern about her oldest daughter’s health (she had cancer years ago). The therapeutic process along with the flower remedies made her understand that it is impossible to control life’s events and that the best help she could give to herself and to her daughter is to live life, facing all the difficulties that by any chance may come up, by understanding and accepting them.

Read Rosângela Teixeira's archetypal character study of Filaree.


 


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