New England School of Homeopathy

Anacardium Fundamental Segments: The Mental Sphere

The New England Journal of Homeopathy
Summer 1996, Vol.5 No.3

By Paul Herscu ND, DHANP, MPH  (from part of a class lecture on Anacardium)

The Segmented Personality

Anacardium finds two voices for his personality. The famous keynote of this remedy is confusion of identity a sense of duality.  The one that needs to be social to do the right thing, even though he does not feel it and the other, what Jung called the shadow personality, the side that does not recognize the good self.  The dichotomy leads to the famed symptoms in the remedy, the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other.  Of course it is the extremely rare patient who will give this symptom but all Anacardium patients have an aspect of this segment, a manifestation that is either slight or severs, changing in severity the more ill the patient is.  Other forms of this severe manifestation are hearing imaginary voices calling him and bidding him to do different things.  Hearing voices that are cursing in his ear or telling him to ‘do certain things or you will be punished.  Others see things following them, or feel the presence of someone in the room or in the bed with them.  Others may only describe a feeling of a ghost, or a fear of ghosts, or a fear that some type of power will come and take them. Yet others see their doubleganger following them, thinking that they see themselves or parts of themselves else-where, or that they are divided, that their soul has left them.  This last image can also be found in Thuja occidentalis.

A milder form is the person who is of two minds, who thinks in two trains of thought simultaneously and therefore can see two diametrically opposed sides of an argument. This leads him to be capricious, to vacillate between both points of view, seemingly fighting himself, not being able to make decisions.  It leads him to be indecisive, not form any opinion, and seem really wishy-washy, agreeing with anyone who has a strong opinion.  The Anacardium patient has lost their integral self and has at the very least, two sides that see the world differently, not clearly at all.  They may have become this way.


The Dullness/Confusion Segment

Dullness in various forms increases as the patient becomes more ill.  They have weakness in memory for what they just said or thought or for what they just did.  The repertory lists many rubrics that all mean the same such as weakness, dullness, and prostration.

There are many symptoms having to do with communication, such as difficulty in putting thoughts together and comprehending speech, as well as forgetfulness, poor memory, mistakes in speaking, writing and mistakes in time.  The person may be so prostrated that his memory is completely gone and he does not recognize anyone.

One of the deepest aspects of this fundamental segment is unconsciousness.  In the office you can see representations of this segment in the manner in which they may feel that you have to extricate information or read into their every response.

They walk like automatons, not knowing who or what they are – what they really want, going through the motions in a way which might confuse the prescriber to give Thuja occidentalis as they both lack individualization and self-esteem.

The confusion is not just in speech but also in perception.  They make mistakes in time, confusing the past and the present as well as confusing distances and sizes.


The Guilt Segment

Strange to say there is a strong aspect to the remedy where reproach plays a large role.  They feel like they did something wrong and feel badly about it, guilty as would Thuja occidentalis.

This idea may show up as a sort of acceptance of something being wrong with them.  In this segment, it is all about feeling bad about themselves, about blaming themselves for what they have or have not done.  They experience a helplessness in that they feel this is just the way they are – that there is something wrong with them.  In archetypal language, a close approximation is a part of the story of Job.  They are beseeched by skin boils and pustules.  Of course back then it was Satan’s test.  Now it is poison oak and poison ivy.  But the effect is the same.  They feel there is something wrong, that they will never be well and why does it have to be me who gets this god forsaken disease.  They may even dream of having some sort of illness, that there is something wrong with them and that they will not be well.

In Anacardium, the impulse to hurt or damage comes before the actual violence manifests and so the side of him that imagines the violence is given voice, but so too is the other side that knows what they are thinking is wrong.  The guilt is that he feels evil, that he is the devil and that he does bad things.  As this side degenerates it may become increasingly difficult to know what is real, what they have done or simply imagined.  And after a while the guilt diminishes to be replaced by more thoughts of control that he must obey, that tell him not to hurt.  It shifts from guilt to a moral feeling to a delusion of voices that he must heed.


Lack of Confidence Segment

Lack of confidence will be a major aspect of the patient from the very beginning.  This lack of confidence plays into a great deal of their lives in various forms.  For example, in the interview, they may be very quiet which has led me to confuse this remedy with Lycopodium, Thuja offidentalis and Staphysagria.

As it continues, the person becomes more cautious which makes the teenager and child closed mouthed and nervous, as may be seen in Silicea.  However, in Silicea, the nervousness is palpable and can be easily tied to the perfectionism, they want to understand what exactly you want form them and want to give it correctly.  The Anacardium is a hard anxiety; it is solid and foreboding.

They may worry about their abilities and their judgment abilities.  They worry about their performance and may anguish over their predicted failures, seeing the future as already having occurred.  This lack of confidence may lead to a cowardice, a passivity where they cannot stand up for what they see as right.  After a while they no longer know what is right, perhaps because the duality segment becomes more prominent.

High among the confidence symptoms is the famed keynote of stage fright, being so nervous before taking tests (or any other form of anticipatory anxiety) that they feel they are not be able to do it.  In fact they may collapse from the sheer pressure of having to take the material and yet every time they are in the testing situation, their mind goes blank.


Oversensitive to Offense

With a lack of confidence, he feels the slights of the world ever more keenly.  He takes offense easily.  The symptoms are numerous but they all point to being oversensitive.

Because he cannot read other people’s intention, he gets hurt a lot.  One aspect of the offense is that he feels like others are out to get him, to hurt him.  He develops a fear of people intentionally hurting him.  Because he gets hurt a lot he starts trying to protect himself, with fears arising as a mechanism of protection.  He fears thieves and becomes suspicious of others doing bad things to him, trying to kill him or poison him.  It is a type of paranoia.  Here Anacardium can be mistaken with Lachesis.  They both also may be jealous as well as paranoid making the differentiation even more difficult.  The main difference is that the quickness and deep awareness of Lachesis is one of the things that leads  to these symptoms whereas it is the lack of connection to others that make the Anacardium develop these feelings.

The offenses, though slight, still sets him to anger and to violence.  He feels he has been harmed, and becomes incensed and will react as he sees appropriate, becoming violent in return.


Lack of Moral Feeling/Hard-hearted

There is an increasing of a lack of conscience.  Here we find more and more the lack of decorum and a lack of being aware of the difference between right and wrong.  It is a type of indifference – a type of amorality which first takes place He simply is not sure what is expected of him.  But after awhile he may not even care.

It is this lack of moral connections that leads to a feeling of estrangement, of separation from others in the family, groups and eventually to people in general.  This is where the fine keynote of estranged from society comes in.

This type of amorality, of indifference and estrangement eventually allows them not to care. The conscience is stilled and they no longer care what others – even God – think of them.

It is during this fundamental segment that the cursing really becomes a feature. He no longer has morals that are in check, and the curses begin to be uttered, first as thoughts of curse words and finally the words themselves.


The Violent Retaliation Segment

Violence plays an increasing role in the Anacardium’s life.  At first the child or adolescent may be shy or timid outside the family but inside the family he may be complaining, or may be strict, contrary-talking back to his parents-in short sharp defiant tones.  Later his temperament becomes increasingly irritable and impatient.  He becomes domineering and bossy, telling others what to do and becoming upset if they do not do it.  Even the children can become quite irritable, and cruel.  The child takes offense easily and can strike out at siblings and parents who offended him.  Likewise, the adults can turn on their spouses and berate them.  And slowly the violence escalates, as the inhibitions are loosened.

The abuse may be planned and premeditated.  For example, slights and emotional hurts can lead to this aggressive side. When he feels hurt or offended, the impulse is to retaliate to do back to those who have hurt them in the first place.  This is why they are violent to those who they have been hurt by. (But also this is why they become irritable when they are in pain.  The headache or stomach-ache hurts them and they respond in the fashion of this segment – with irritability).

Originally, it may be in this heated state that they become angry and violent. (Likewise they become irritable and may become manic during fevers or during fevered delirium.  Likewise it is the itching of the poison ivy that irritates him and drives him to distraction and he may take it out on those around him, becoming increasingly short with them).

Eventually, the aggressive segment may become truly violent and premeditated.  For example, the teenage boy may wait until the parents leave before locking the door and turning around and facing his younger sister and saying, “Now your mine,” and torturing her for a few hours until the parents return and she dare not tell anyone.  Or the child who will seek out animals to mutilate, or the adult who will hurt those that he can control.