The remedy Arsenicum is made from arsenic, which is a metal on the periodic table, and has long been used as a poison. As a poison, it affects the nervous system, and has characteristic burning pains, particularly throughout the digestive tract. Profuseness of sweat, of vomiting, and of diarrhea are common results of being poisoned by it. There is an extreme thirst, which is best relieved by small sips of cold water. During this physiological process of processing the poison, there is an intense feeling of fear which is felt.
Fear is actually one of the keynotes to the use of Arsenicum as a remedy for this phenotypical state. It is a fear which compensates through all manner of control mechanisms – they are the ultimate “control freaks”, who fear losing control as much as they fear death itself. On that note, it can be a very useful remedy to use in palliative care, where a patient is having difficulty “letting go” and accepting that they are approaching the end of life. In everyday life, they have an aversion to being alone, and are driven to always have company in one form or another, as part of how they try to dispel their anxiety.
This is the ultimate fear, but Arsenicum possesses many types of fear, large and small, and for every fear exists a corresponding control behaviour to try to compensate. They are extremely germ-o-phobic, for example, and will constantly be washing their hands, and spraying every common surface in their house with germicidal sprays.
The theme of physical security in the world is an offshoot of this primary level of fear. They can be obsessed with orderliness in addition to cleanliness, and are always compulsively “doing” something and can never sit still and truly relax. The intense neurotic energy they are driven by goes back to their primary fear of death. They are extremely miserly, and compulsively save items “just in case” they’ll come in handy, to buttress their security in the world. This form of hoarding is based on fear for survival and has a different motivation from Natrum Muriaticum, who hoards for reasons of sentimentality.
They are extremely fastidious, and exacting of their environment, and everyone in it, making sure that every detail is planned and accounted for, never leaving anything to whim or chance. On the positive side, they may often be the person who takes control of a situation or project, and makes sure that all hands are working towards the common goal. On the more negative side, they can irritate everyone through their micro-managing tactics, and drown the whole project in a sea of details, losing sight of the bigger picture.
Their fear extends into the realm of health, and they can be quite hypochondriac. As Heilkunst patients, they are frequently phoning or emailing their practitioner between regular visits providing “updates” about every detail, and seeking reassurance that every turn of event doesn’t signal a worsening of their condition. Always being in (the illusion) of control, and being unable to ever “let go” can be rooted in a potty training which was too early, and created a neurotic need to “hold on” for life.
The physical symptoms of Arsenicum affect the gastro-intestinal tract, the mucous membranes, as well as the lungs, which may be prone to asthma attacks. Panic attacks are not foreign to this state. They may suffer from various forms of physical tension and being “wound tight”.