One of the most common and potent ways to denigrate a human being or a group of human beings is to identify them by a disparaging label. To achieve its intended effect, the label, if chosen well, need not be complicated or creative. It must merely serve two purposes: to quickly conjure up in the listener's mind a negative image or association and, just as importantly, to put in place a barrier that hinders meaningful communication.
A woman we shall call Elaine first came for a homeopathic consultation a number of years ago. A teacher and artist in her 50's, she had struggled with depression for nearly her entire life, along with bouts of severe insomnia when she would go sleepless for days. A few years earlier, she had seen another homeopath who had been able to help her to a certain degree. But since Elaine had moved out of the area and was still prone to frequent relapses, the homeopath suggested she consult with someone else.
Most of the time after meeting a patient for the first time, I don't prescribe a remedy immediately at the conclusion of the consultation. It is my habit to study the information gathered during the session - my notes, observations and impressions - afterward, in order to integrate it all together, come up with a treatment strategy and an initial remedy.
During a consultation, it is easy to have a remedy come to mind and color my perspective. So, step backing affords me the opportunity to drop my prejudice and gain a more objective frame of reference. It also affords time the opportunity to study not only the patient's information, but medical and homeopathic literature relevant to the case as well.
A patient we'll call David came for a consultation seeking help regarding a mood disorder. Variously diagnosed as depression or anxiety - or both, it had plagued him for most of his adult life. Most of his emotions seemed tied up with his working. As a middle aged professional who ran his own small firm, he placed a great deal of pressure on himself to perform up to his own high standards and easily fell into despair about what he perceived as his professional inadequacies.
Beth was an 11-year-old girl whose mother brought her in for a consultation mostly to address behavioral and emotional issues. Over the years she had a number of neuropsych evaluations that led to an alphabet soup of diagnoses - ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder), ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), AS (Asperger Syndrome) and my personal favorite PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified).