Psychology :: Homoeopathy in Paediatrics & Child Psychology

Knowledge of psychology is an asset for a homoeopath. As homoeopaths we treat the individual child by taking his mental, emotional and physical generals and particulars. Our masters Dr. Hahnemann and Dr. Kent had laid stress in their teachings that the mental symptoms are the most important. Interpretation of physical activity or symptom into a mental symptom or its reflection is very difficult task which is not possible unless one has acquired sufficient vision towards human psychology.

Here I shall discuss about the Homoeopathy and psychology in young children and infants in which it is much more difficult to understand as a child is believed to be a tiny creature or soul simple-minded, devoid of any sense of good or evil, incapable of communicating the state of its mind or body in words through the experience I gathered here at home and abroad.

The common behavior problems which make them “The Problem Child” and children suffer from are listed according to age at which they are most likely manifest.

1) INFANCY (0-2 years)
(i) Persistent Weeping and Crying.
(ii) PICA (mud, chalk, sand etc eating) and other eating disturbances.
(iii) Head Banging, Pulling of hairs
(iv) Breath Holding.
(v) Thumb Sucking
(vi) Excessive fear.
(vii) Fear of separation or of left alone or excessive dependency.

(2) PRE SCHOOL AGE (2-6 years)
(i) Nightmares or sleep disturbances.
(ii) Tantrums and temper with aggressiveness, Hyperactivity
(iii) Crying, shouting, jealousy to siblings clinging to mother or emotional reactions.
(iv) Enuresis (Bed wetting) and Encopresis
(v) Masturbation.
(vi) Nail biting and Thumb sucking.
(vii) Stammering, stuttering lolling or speech disturbances.
(viii) Tics or habit spasms.

(3) SCHOOL AGE (6-13 years)
(i) School Phobia.
(ii) Comprehending or learning difficulties. Dyslexia
(iii) Obstinacy, stubbornness and dependency.
(iv)Anti-Social behavior like lying, stealing and vandalism etc.

(4) ADOLESCENCE (13 years and above)
(i) Masturbation.
(ii)Sexual indulgence like homosexuality, lesbianism, incest and heterosexuality.
(iii) Criminal activities or delinquent behavior.
(iv) Suicidal thoughts and tendency.

To start with, I will take up this case of infants who cannot communicate in any other way than Crying. So crying with different degrees means different things and accordingly a physician evaluates it as a symptom in various degrees. Excessive crying is a common problem in children. its cause is often baffling and to an uninitiated physician often frustrating. A thorough understanding of physiological needs and pathological procedures which may lead to crying is essential while trying to discover the causes of crying in a given child. Now any child who is crying can not be quieted necessarily with the dose of Chamomilla.

Crying as a presenting problem is more common in infancy. It is largely because the infant has no other means of communication. So whether he is thirsty, hungry, uncomfortable, insecure, lonely, frustrated, and afraid or having any pain, he just cries. And any situation which leads to crying if not properly understood and resolved may lead to persistent crying. Of course, personality of individual child has also a great influence in the frequency and persistence of crying.
Thirst is a common cause of crying in our country. It is often understood that infant require comparatively much larger volumes of fluids than adults. The high sodium content of cow’s and buffalo’s milk also dictates that the infant on top milk be given more water. Similarly, when solid foods are started, free water requirement go up. If an infant is crying because of thirst, he is unlikely to be satisfied with milk. He may briefly go in for the bottle or breast, but rejects it soon as he discovers it is milk and not water. I have seen this behavior particularly in infants who are suffering from diarrhea and dehydration. Though at times, a dose of Arsenic Album or Bryonia also helps.

Hunger is becoming a more frequent cause with increasing urbanisation, adoption of top feeding and adoption of strict Victorian principle of timed feeding. Very often one sees very educated mothers, worried about child’s discipline and their own freedom of movements allowing the child to cry even when he is hungry because of the clock does not say that the child should be hungry still. Happily the scientists have proved that the rigid time and scheduling of feeds leads only to development of frustrated personality in adulthood and is contributory to the development of disciplined habits of the child. Thus it would appear that the time honored method of “On Demand Feeding” is the Best. In late infancy, crying late at night is often because of hunger, because of mother’s reluctance to give night feeds at “Such a Late Stage”. The problem can usually be resolved, if the child is given a semi-solid diet late in the evening – followed by a milk feed just before sleeping. Otherwise a dose of Psorinum for midnight hunger and China for voracious appetite may be the answer.

Wetting is common cause of crying. In fact, it is surprising how often children do not cry even when they are wet. Quite often the infants cry before passing urine. As we find this in Lycopodium. This usually has no pathological significance and may be only considered as a “Signal from the infants” before the stream comes. The problem of parineal and perivulval rash and ulceration is likely to increase with increasing use of impermeable plastic napkins for maternal convenience
Very often infants cry because of loneliness, particularly if left in the dark room, especially if they are separated from their mother. As in the case of Cina, Pulsatilla, quite often the infant cries just because he wants to be cuddled and picked up, which again with present Western modes of infant rearing is considered as spoiling the child. Like when the child stops crying on being carried as in Chamomilla.

An important but poorly recognized cause of crying in infants is frustration. The frustration is often due to inability to perform developmentally learnt tasks. If the infants has learnt to manipulate his hands, but gets no toys to practice then he may cry. Alternatively, he may go for the household objects like knife, matchsticks etc. which are potentially dangerous and so forbidden. This often leads to excessive crying and temper tantrums. Obviously, appropriate needs of a developing child must be recognized and necessary objects and toys made available so that the infant does not cry unnecessarily. Wanted thing may be refused later like in Cina, Capriciousness.

An important cause of crying in an infant or a child in the clinic situation is the Doctor himself. Most of the graduating doctors having spurned Pediatric wards and out patients as unnecessary appendages of medicine during their periods of training, feel totally unsure in fact are even afraid to handle a child. They start practicing the art of examination learnt in adult wards in the children in a most tentative manner and this often leads to excessive crying in the child. A perspiring physician handling a howling child is a common enough clinical problem. Once the physician himself keeps some patience and listens and gives enough time to the child to adjust and make himself friendly to the child by using various methods and then do the examination and prescribes the Homoeopathic medicine, Later on after receiving the sweet pills and sweet behavior from a Homoeopath the child is very unlikely to cry with a fear of a doctor.

Excessive crying in later infancy and early pre – school age is a Behavior problem. This is more likely to occur in a border line retarded child. Resolution of behavior problem requires a careful assessment of parental attitude and a thorough constitutional Homoeopathic remedy.

In young children, problems like nail biting, puling one’s hair, lip sucking, thumb sucking, bed wetting, startling or speaking during sleep, holding some one’s or mother’s hand etc., all are psychological fears, anxiety and certain excitement, frustration, expression of retaliation and to understand them in detail let us take these separately.
Nail Biting: In certain children, they do this with excitement e. g. while watching T. V. Few children develop this habit permanently. At the time when they can not answer a question, then in disgust with guilt feeling, they start biting their nails, and in another group of children, it is just one of pass time kind of a thing. The homoeopathic remedy may be different in considering the psychological background of the case rather than the alone guiding symptom. It is an early sign which develops into lack of confidence.

Pulling of one’s hair: It has a definite psychological basis when the child is full of anger and he is helpless to show it, then under the expression of showing his anger in the form of a protest, he starts pulling his hair. Children at times develop the fancy of pulling the hairs of other people also with the feeling of pleasure and contentment of showing their superiority over the other person.

Thumb sucking: Thumb sucking is again an expression of contentment regarding their hunger and security or safety. Child feels all right in his own sense. At times, children do thumb sucking only at bed time when they get the utmost satisfaction.
Bed wetting: Though it can be a physical problem also like laxed urethral sphincters or reaction of the climate or extreme cold weather. But more often, it is again 80-90% psychological in origin. On going in detail a Homoeopath can point out that child is fearful in nature. A child normally has the fear of darkness, fear of being harmed. in certain cases, I have seen children draw pleasure whenever the mother gets irritated by this kind of act. Hence it is very important for a doctor to explain the irritating mother about the whole psychological development and should suggest some ways to tackle this nasty problem.

Startling or Speaking during sleep is commonly seen in those children who are not given enough opportunity to speak their own views or complaints or being silenced by their teachers or parents. And those suppressed views and desire to speak possible during sleep in their sub conscious mind.

Holding the finger of mother almost all the time is the reactionary effect when the child has the fear to loose his mother and wants more affection and love.

Signs and symptoms of an adult human being’s temperament can be traced back to his early childhood where the psychological development of a child in proper way can prevent a psychological wreck in adulthood with appropriate homoeopathic treatment in childhood.

Prof. Dr. A. K. GUPTA
DHMS(Dli), MIHL(Geneva),
MGN(Med. )PH, PG(London)
Director-OVIHAMS ( Om-Vidya Institute Of Homoeopathy and Allied Medical Sciences)
Internaional Hahnemann Award of the Millennium; Lord Dhanwantri Award2003;
Life Achievement Award 2004
Member- Homoeopathic Advisory Committee Govt. of NCT Delhi.
Author- The Problem Child and Homoeopathy
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