George, forty years old, was divorced three years before seeking homeopathic treatment. He seemed mild and soft-spoken, slightly plump with dark hair. His troubles started when his ex-wife invited him over. She wanted to make love, but he was reluctant because he no longer loved her. Against his better judgement, he gave in to her and had regretted it ever since. During their love making he sustained an abrasion on the shaft of his penis which was very slow to heal. His ex-wife had yeast vaginitis. Fearing that he had contracted a yeast infection from their sexual contact, he applied soap, neosporin, and camphophenique topically to his penis. It became quite inflamed. Desperate to stop what he assumed was an increasingly serious infection, he applied kerosene. His penis became quite red, sore and swollen. He consulted a dermatologist who advised him to leave it alone and let it heal.
George felt quite embarrassed that he had injured himself, and angry at himself for having made love to his ex-wife again. He became quite depressed and began to doubt himself sexually. About this time he also developed urethritis, which was treated with antibiotics. He sought therapy and tried to resolve the guilt feelings which continued to plague him. He began to feel good enough to begin a new relationship, which he was enjoying very much.
The inflammation of his penis resolved. The only residual symptom was a brownish discoloration of the skin on the shaft. About eight months later, George suddenly developed a bright red inflammation of his penis and scrotum, close to the anniversary of his marriage to his ex-wife. It felt like a bad sunburn. He could not touch it or tolerate tight underwear. He became very worried. He saw a number of doctors and had many tests. The diagnoses were varied, including contact dermatitis, yeast allergy, seborrheic dermatitis, and antibiotic allergy. After four months the condition resolved using topical tea compresses.
A year later, he made love with his girlfriend who subsequently developed a vaginal yeast infection and cystitis. Five days after the intercourse, George developed a sore on the shaft of his penis. He took antibiotics. A few days later his scrotum turned bright red again. It felt hot and burning, and profuse perspiration which caused stinging. The skin in the genital area became dry. He used Hypericum tinture topically, which seemed to help.
George again began to feel guilty about having had sex with his ex-wife. He obsessed over the injury he had done to himself. He started psychotherapy again. He began to avoid sex, fearing that his symptoms would return. He worried that it would never go away. He couldn’t stop thinking about it, and felt like kicking himself for it. He felt sad and moody, and frustrated that he couldn’t enjoy sex anymore.
George had married at twenty-five. He and his wife had a child, but the relationship began to go sour after his wife had an affair and left him. They got back together and had another child, but eventually divorced, with shared custody of their two children. After the divorce, George felt lonely and like a failure. He felt guilty for having relationships for “just sex”. He felt particularly bad about the last sexual encounter with his ex-wife. During his marriage, his wife didn’t want to have sex with him very often. He felt angry that he had to ask for it. He felt pressured into having a child too early. “It robbed me of the joy of the whole experience.”
He felt a great deal of buried hostility toward her. He felt she had abandoned him and his daughter. “She made me feel like there was something wrong with me.” His anger was turned inward. It was hard for George to realize that he was angry and what he was mad about. He blamed himself for everything.
George also felt guilty during his teens about masturbation-which he considered to be “secret sin” at the time. He masturbated from an early age. At times he had been very religious, or had rebelled, but he had always sought a spiritual connection and a loving relationship.
George was angry at his birth father, who had abandoned him soon after he was born. He felt that his father didn’t love him, and he was never able to bond with his stepfather. He felt lonely as a teen, never quite fitting in.
When asked about dreams, George related one about a “rat man” growing out of his groin from an embryo. This was related to a movie he had seen in which a man had to face his deep fear of rats. George’s deepest fear was castration or genital mutilation. It was the worst thing he could imagine.
George’s scrotum was still inflamed, dry and flaky. His penis was discolored in a ring behind the glans. Whether sex would make his symptoms worse was a big issue for George, and he mostly avoided it, or used a condom to prevent excess irritation. His sexual anxieties were eased somewhat by his girlfriend’s supportive stance.
George desired salty food, and had an aversion to eating too much meat.. He avoided red meat. Alcohol made his nose and penis numb. His hands and feet were chilly. He slept on his back or left side. He also complained of anal itching, at night or in the morning.
The focus in George’s case is more on the emotional level than on his actual physical symptoms. Although his scrotal irritation was not so severe at the time of the first visit, his anxiety about his symptoms was. The significant inflammation in the past made him worry about having sex in the present. He feared that his symptoms would only become worse.
We gave George a single dose of Staphysagria 200C. We assessed that his main issues were anxiety, guilt and suppressed anger, with a strong genital focus. His genitals seemed to respond like a red flag, his body waving it at him to alert him to the anger, guilt and self-reproach within. George was mild and soft-spoken, and it was difficult for him to express what he really felt inside. He tended to hold it all in. The state of his genitals reflected the intensity of his inner state.
The Staphysagria state centers on the issues of humiliation, indignation and suppressed anger, often with a relationship or sexual focus. People who need this remedy often have strong sexual desire from childhood, resulting in early masturbation. It is difficult for them to express their sexuality, resulting in a submissive approach to sex or using fantasies as a substitute for sex. Staphysagria patients have a lot of difficulty with emotional expression in general, presenting a sweet or pleasing demeanor outwardly, but inwardly feeling anger, grief and indignation. It is difficult for them to stand up for themselves and confront someone who has angered or insulted them. There is a tendency to turn anger inward, feeling guilt or self-criticism instead.
In this case, George had difficulty asking his first wife for sex. After the divorce, when she asked for sex, he couldn’t say no, and felt guilty afterwards, leading directly or indirectly to his physical symptoms centering around the genitals. Although Staphysagria is not in the repertory for inflammation of the scrotum, the state of the remedy was clearly present, and we could prescribe it with confidence.
At his six-week follow-up, George reported that the irritation on his scrotum had disappeared. He had some dry, cracking skin behind the glans for a few days, which responded to Vit. E oil. He used a condom during sex to prevent any abrasion. He continued to go to therapy. He reported that he feels more stable emotionally. He was dealing with the anger toward his ex-wife and letting it out. He was trying to let go of the guilt. He recalled a recent dream about releasing anger.
The anal itching became intense for a week. Now it was just there slightly at night. His sexual energy was good. Once he got furious during sex because the condom he was using was too thick to feel anything, but he expressed the feelings and they soon passed. He wasn’t avoiding sex now, but he still worried that he would not completely recover.
We assessed that George had an initially positive response to the remedy and waited. In six weeks he returned and reported a setback for a week after dental work, with some scrotal redness. His stability had returned, however, and now the redness was only occasional. He had intense dreams of fearful, frantic or angry and violent situations during the week after the dental work. He awoke with hypersensitivity of the genitals. He became moody and irritable. He felt that his feelings were directly tied into the symptoms of his genitals. If he suppressed his feelings, the symptoms would appear. In therapy, George recovered a vivid memory of being four years old, and an aunt lowering him onto her hot, red genitals. He felt that this memory directly related to the inflammation he had been experiencing. He also recalled that anger had not been permitted in his family and he had to earn back his mother’s approval if he expressed his anger.
Two months later, George returned. He was no longer having any problems with sex, and he did not feel guilty about what had happened with his wife. His scrotum got red briefly once when he had to take on more responsibility at work and give a talk to a large group. He managed his anxiety and the talk went well. His anal itching had returned mildly with some flaking around the opening. He seemed much less anxious about his health. A few applications of calendula cream helped the itching. Some red spots behind the glans had appeared for a day, but now were gone. He had a dream of a woman with a red, peeling penis. Another dream was of a woman telling him not to pick apples.
We assessed that George was much better mentally and emotionally, but he was having mild physical symptoms which were either stress induced or a return of old symptoms.
George continued to do well. He one minor irritation of his penis after sex and one patch of reddish dry skin on his thigh which came and went without treatment. He was proud of the changes in himself. He felt that he had grown a lot in the past year. He felt positive, together, no longer guilt ridden. Her could express his feelings much more easily. His relationship continued to blossom and he felt very good about his sexual life. He began to explore meditation and relaxation techniques to reduce stress at work and grow spiritually.
Drs. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are board certified diplomates of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians. They are instructors in the Professional Course of the International Foundation for Homeopathy, of which Judyth is President. They teach and write widely. They are completing their first book, The Patient’s Guide to Homeopathic Treatment. They can be reached at The Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, WA.