Bitten in the Soul: Experiences With Spider Remedies In Homeopathic Medicine
By Massimo Mangialavori and Hans Zwemke.
“A Real Materia Medica Viva”
In quite an unusual beginning to a book about spiders as homeopathic remedies, the two authors feel the need to tell us about themselves. Massimo tells us how wonderful he is. Then Hans tells us how wonderful Massimo is! This theme continues to some extent as patients in the book sometimes remark how wonderful he is. Then Massimo tells us how useless George Vithoulkas is. In fact he makes more than one swipe at George and his Materia Medica Viva; Massimo’s is a real Materia Medica Viva (P.76). This is repeated in the introduction where Massimo says George only taught polychrests. This isn’t true. Then we are told George’s and other materia medicae are only copies and George offers nothing new. Having studied some of George’s Materia Medica Viva I have to disagree. Nor is it true that George never uses metaphor. Hans however did appreciate his time with George.
Even the great Hahnemann gets blasted. Hahnemann was well aware of Signature (Doctrine of Signatures) and the necessity to treat more than a “patient’s words”.
Hahnemann prepared over a hundred remedies from scratch so he would have been aware of the poetic and symbolic associations to remedies. Hahnemann chose a different approach, he wanted a grounded system. They assume to know what Hahnemann knew or didn’t know. Hahnemann’s teachers at school and university were so impressed with him they didn’t charge fees. However, the authors do try to give Hahnemann some credit by referring to Hahnemann’s introduction to Pulsatilla. “Hahnemann made a rare statement suggesting we treat more than the words of the patient”. Apart from similar advice in his writings, from memory I can think of two other remedies where Hahnemann gave the same advice in his introductions; Aconite and Chamomilla. By the way, miasms are out, glibly passed over. I would have liked an explanation though to understand Massimo’s and Hans’s thinking better. Once you transcend a lot of this unnecessary baggage you get to the realy useful information.
Need for a Holistic View of Spiders and Remedies
The main point in presenting these cases is that the proving information is often inadequate or even false. Therefore we need extra information from other sciences; mythology, anthropology, biology, ethology and toxicology. His criticism of George and Hahnemann etc is because they didn’t use knowledge from other such disciplines. They feel such information is needed to prescribe for lesser known remedies. Perhaps other homeopaths have other ways of coming to the same prescription…
Regarding the main body of the book, we are initially treated to the common themes and symptoms of spiders generally, what Hahnemann may have called the genus epidemicus. Symptoms such as; activity, complaining, hypochondriasis, persecution complex, aversion to touch, hypersensitive, stinging pains, music/vibration, aversion to food or prefers liquid food, great thirst, rhythm,periodicity, female dominance, dyskinesia. Other symptoms which run trough the cases presented later are U.F.O.s and spaceships and a liking for knitting and climbing. Other important revelations are a tendency (not in every case but is worth mentioning here) to tonsillitis and even arthritis as a sequel to tonsillitis.
Having understood the generals, we are treated to three case with long term follow-up for each of the six chosen spider remedies. These presentations show the characteristic nuances that differentiate each remedy. These are thoroughly done, in depth and over a number of years and so are reliable information. I’m not so sure every acute should be treated with the same remedy, the chronic. Can’t people change? Can’t acutes vary?
Having studied the book twice I now have a thorough grasp of spider remedies generally and will easily think of using them in the future, particularly for children, (although the authors don’t emphasise spiders specifically for children) particularly when you consider how many children: kick the covers off at night; fall out of bed; are restless; grind their teeth; climb; refuse food. Also, in the future, if someone has a keynote of sulphur, “drinks much, eats little,” I’ll remember it as equally a keynote for spiders.
Apart from the good quality cases and hard work researching spiders, the authors have worked tremendously hard to put the information together. This was not easy when Hans’s first language is German, Massimo’s Italian and to translate it yet keep the correct meanings into English. Of course when you have a grand young man like Hans senior (87) to translate for you it’s a big help.