By Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH
Scratching, biting and hitting
A five-year-old girl whom I will call Sarabi, was seen in my clinic in August of 2020 with a chief complaint of aggression towards herself and others. In particular she will bite and hit herself and scratch others when frustrated. She is the youngest of three.
"Everyone in our house except me has scars from scratches on their arms, " her mother reported. "She gets very upset with me when I cut her nails as she says they are her protection. She feels that being the smallest in her home she needs to protect herself this way."
When I asked Sarabi about her nails she said: "I have claws and I'm protecting myself! I scrape their skin off! If Mom cuts them I can't protect myself when people try to hurt me! I can defeat my (much older) brother with my claws! I scratch really hard until he bleeds! My claws are really small, but they're actually really, really good at scratching people. Sometimes when I'm angry I bite myself really hard. I get angry when my brother teases me and when he is trying to knock me over."
"Sarabi will also threaten to hit or bite herself to get her own way, even to the point of saying she will kill herself. She has bruises and bite marks on her arms where she has bitten herself when upset. Another thing that we have struggled with is that she swears a lot and makes rude gestures."
I ask her about this and she replies: "Yes, I do that a lot, but not to strangers, they might be prisoners."
"Sarabi gets upset if she can't do things herself, and if her sister does not want to play with her. She will then physically attack her sister and herself. She can be very controlling and tell her sister what to do and say during play, which also causes sister not to want to play with her.
"These behaviours intensified when her sister (who is two years older) started school and left the preschool where they had been in the same class a year ago. I also began working more around this time and I started weaning her, which all happened in autumn of last year.
"She can be quite tough and often will not cry when you think she would because she is upset or hurt. If you say no to her, she can give you a real glare.
Attached to mother's breasts
"Sarabi is and was VERY attached to the breast. She refused to eat solids and/or gagged on solids before she was one year old. She needed a lot of closeness. I carried her in a sling for the first two years.
I weaned her very slowly, she was 4 1/2 before she was fully weaned. She still wants to 'snuggle booby' at bedtime. She can get angry with me and tell me that my breasts are hers, not mine! She can feel sad sometimes about no longer feeding. She will sniff my breasts if she can. She is also very attached to me in general and is very caring and soft with me, almost like she wants to take care of me."
"An astrology chart we did showed separation trauma. We wonder if it is generational. Sarabi's father suffered separation from his family when he was young. His mother left his father when he was 2.5 and he stayed with his father. A few months later she sent police to fetch him, and then he was separated from his father. Her paternal grandfather was sent to boarding school at four or five years old.
Fear of death and abandonment
"She has had some concerns recently about 'being born last, so she will die last and be left all alone', which is a very big and awful thought to be having at her age. She has also been generally concerned about death and is very anxious about coronavirus, even though we are not. She will not drink from the same glass as anyone in our home for example and won't touch anything without checking if it's okay first.
"She even sees her own father as a threat to her security and will tell me 'You love Daddy more than me'.
"My mother died in December of 2017 after a long battle with cancer. This was very stressful for the whole family. I was always juggling caring for my mother with caring for the children, rushing back and forth between homes, then grieving. Sarabi was very young at the time, but still talks about wanting grandma not to be dead and wanting to see her again. She seems to be very aware of the fact that this means I will also someday be gone.
"We moved house in 2015 when Sarabi was 7 months old. The reason I mention this as stressful is because we have just bought a house that we will be moving into next year and Sarabi was very upset about our current house being 'abandoned'. She doesn't like change and she finds it extremely difficult to let go of things. She won't even let us throw away a piece of paper with a scribble on or an old sock with a hole in it."
Pregnancy and delivery
"The pregnancy was very comfortable, ideal. My favourite midwife was present during the delivery, we lit a candle and she was born withing 30 minutes. We went home from the hospital the same afternoon.
Weak immune system
In addition, her mother was concerned about Sarabi's immune system. She described that the girl had been frequently ill with flus and throat infections over the past few months. At one point her tonsils were very swollen and seemed to even slightly affect her breathing. Sarabi also had a history of recurring pin worms.
Sarabi is a fussy eater and likes to eat chips and crisps very much. She likes white food like milk, pasta, cream. She has never wanted to taste meat. She also likes pink lady apples and olives. She can be sensitive to smells. If someone has BBQ sauce on the table she can't eat her food.
Fear of dogs
I asked about what she is like with animals and her mother reported that she is really terrified of dogs.
"She came face to face with a Husky at age two and suddenly let out a primal scream of terror! She told me she thought the dog was a lion! She was scared of cats, too. One day, a cat followed us and she was terrified. She watched the Lion King movie three weeks ago and was very upset that Simba's parents were betrayed by his cruel uncle and might die.
"Now she really wants to have a cat though, we are waiting to get one.
"She will watch horror movies and is fascinated by scary things, like Halloween.
Here we have a five-year-old girl with intense behaviours, including aggression with hitting, scratching and biting as well as a fear of abandonment and a continuing attachment to her mother's breasts. Her symptoms intensified over the past year when, around the same time, she was separated from her sister in preschool, her mother started to work more and she was weaned from the breast, three losses or events of abandonment potentially in her mind.
The symptoms of the continuing attachment to her mother's breast, refusal of eating solids before the age of one (nursing only) and the fear of abandonment pointed to a milk remedy. The question was which one.
Her aversion to having her nails cut because she needed them to defend herself pointed towards a cat milk remedy. We have several such remedies in homeopathy, including remedies made from house cats as well as lion's, tiger's and panther's milk.
I was debating between lion's and tiger's milk, but as she seemed so attached to her sister and mother, I chose lion's milk as they are social cats in which the females stay with their mother's and sisters in a pride throughout their entire lives.
I did a bit more research and found a great article on Hpathy titled: "Review of the kingdoms with a brief Lac-leo case", which I sent to the mother for review.
This is what she wrote back to me:
"I read through the description of lion and tiger milk in the article and I honestly see so much of it in Sarabi. Just to name a few, Sarabi is very independent, will not allow us to help her even if she is struggling with something, we even jokingly called her 'struggles' for a while.
"She has a huge problem with being the youngest and was very upset to find out that she would never be older than her siblings. She defines herself as "the brave one". She growls when she doesn't get her way or things don't go her way. She is very authorititative, gives instructions like a boss, points with her whole hand or hands on hips. She often talks to us like she is the adult.
"She loves to play like a lion with her Dad, pouncing and wrestling with him and running at him and jumping on him to knock him over. This is probably her favorite game with him. She does the same with her brother, but he doesn't let her win.
"She has always drawn pictures of her family, especially when at preschool. she is very protective and will speak out against injustice. So fascinating!"
Lac leoninum 200C, twice in 24 hours, then wait.
Follow-up one month later - no more scratching!
"She has not been scratching anyone, maybe her sister just a bit. There is definitely a shift.
Her anger has not been a problem; she has not been violent or drawing blood.
She is still biting herself. She is a bit better with food, will be resistant to trying something at first, but then will eat it.
We got our cat two days after the remedy. We called him Timba, which means lion!
She has much less separation anxiety now after she went back to preschool. Before it was terrible, but now she has been fine, just going in and playing with friends. She seems much more grown up in comparison. Before she wanted to just stay home. Before she also constantly asked who would pick her up, if we were going to be there again. Not anymore.
She has been playing better with her sister, joining sister in her play more rather than needing to be so bossy all the time.
She has only said she wanted to kill herself a couple of times, it's much better. Her breathing is better, too, not as raspy sounding.
Assessment and plan:
Sarabi is much improved, both in regard to her aggression as well as with her separation anxiety. Repeat Lac leo 200C if symptoms recur.
Two months into care
After the initial very positive improvement some of Sarabi's old pattern of biting herself had returned and mom gave her another dose of Lac-leo 200C, however Sarabi got progressively worse and now is back to biting, scratching, being controlling and possessive and struggling with separation.
It seemed as if she needed a higher potency.
This is very common by the way and to be expected. Often children - and adults for that matter - need to take increasingly higher potencies of a remedy to eradicate the root imbalances in their vital force.
Plan: Lac-leoninum 1M
Three months into care
"Sarabi has improved since taking the 1M potency of Lac leo about two weeks ago, but it didn't go all the way I believe she may need another dose. I did notice an almost immediate relief of the symptoms when she took it though, it was getting unbearable as I was longing for the package from the pharmacy to arrive. She is not attacking and less controlling but she is still biting herself as soon as things don't go her way. That seems to be the last symptoms to leave and the first to arrive."
Plan: Lac leoninum 1M
Three and a half months into care
Lac leo 1M two weeks ago helped a lot, but has not cleared everything. She is still biting herself as soon as she meets any resistance. It is worst if she feels any sense of abandonment. When she was doing better she was trying different foods, including veggies, now she is back to eating just three things and it is hard to get her to go to sleep again.
Plan: Lac leoninum 1M again, order 10M.
Six months later
I had not heard from the family in about six months and reached out to see how Sarabi was doing.
"I have not given her a dose in a few months (note by Anke: good, that means she must have been doing better). Lately she is scared to go the bathroom alone or to be alone in a room. She has a feeling that something or someone is behind her. I was wondering whether to redose or if she needs another remedy?"
Here we may be seeing another remedy come up. For now we decided to have her take the Lac-leo again to see if it would help with the new symptoms.
11 months into care
I reached out again to check on Sarabi:
"I think there was an improvement, then she recently got sick and seemed to have all her old behaviours and symptoms return so I gave her Lac leo again and she has improved again. She still has some fears about spiders and zombies and thinks something or someone is going to appear behind her, but not as intense as before. "
Assessment: The remedy is still working for her. She may need a few more doses to resolve the state, but she has vastly improved from the beginning.
A great result from the milk of a lioness, for a little human lion cub! That is the magic of homeopathy!
Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH, January 2022
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Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH is a homeopath with a special interest in children with developmental and behavioural concerns. Cases are all from her practice. Names have been changed, they were published with permission and are intended for education in homeopathy only. They are not intended as medical advise or solicitation. Homeopathy treats the person, not the condition.
Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH
Classical and Modern Homeopathy
Sooke, BC, Canada
Serving families in Sooke, Metchosin, Langford, Colwood, Victoria, Greater Vancouver Island, BC, as well as internationally via zoom/telehealth.
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