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Case Study

The Superman Zombie
Dr (Ms) Chetna Shukla
' Anha

A young boy of 20, consulted me in Nov '94 for his colds and pimples. The preliminary data on the case paper indicated that he was a science student with interest in physics and computers. He went on to describe his complaints as :
'I have these colds. They come every year and last very long, nearly 4-5 months. I have suffered from pneumonia before. It made me weak. Another problem is these pimples, they leave my face totally dry. My father died of T.B. After his death I fell sick and developed pneumonia. Since then these colds. I want a permanent cure.' 

Observation : He was very slow and dull in his speech and movements and his eyes were lifeless- he looked like a zombie.
I am allergic to buttermilk, yogurt and anything cold. I want to be cured. I am depressed.' He paused long. 

Q: What is this Depression?
I am quiet and serious. I talk less and observe more. I am curious about human nature. If I talk less I will know more. I like science. Computers refresh (But his face didn't light up) Computers are an exercise for my brain. I can work full night on computers and yet feel fresh. But if I don't like anything my mind goes dull. I feel sleepy and I go to sleep. I used to like reading and I had plenty of hobbies but now none interest me. I have become dull and lifeless. I have lost all interest.' 

Q: What is the reason?
Family problems and tiffs at home must have been the cause. We were joint family. I was very lively. My father died. MY mother had to be hospitalized. I had nobody. I was only 9 years old. I developed pneumonia. I got depressed. I was put on psychiatric treatment. I felt better but I didn't change as a person. I still maintain that seriousness. I didn't feel like changing, some kind of resistance was in me.
I am very sensitive. When I was young my father died. He loved me very much. He would fulfill all my desires. I lost a big support when he died. He died and everything was lost. I was very scared. I had nobody to rely on. That love and comfort was taken away suddenly, I felt like a child forced to grow suddenly, become mature suddenly, not allowed to enjoy childhood. It took me years to stabilize, but that seriousness I have retained.' 

Q: Why?
'I was not open to everyone. I don't trust anyone easily. I judge how much to tell? I don't make friends easily. I feel they are not there to understand my feelings. They ignore me. So I only listen. They may say your views are sickening, orthodox and old - fashioned. I read Vedas. I see the scientific view of everything. I also meditate. They think I am crazy. They criticize without understanding. I feel insulted and my communication with them stops. When I talk they laugh at me.'
On enquiring about his dreams, he said:
'My dreams are wild. I dream of flying, going to outer space and exploring something, something that is not ordinary, but supernatural. I like robots. I dream of competing my robots against others. I sometimes dream I am a superman. I have supernatural powers. I have a ticket to Jupiter and I go Jupiter flying like a superman'.
'Sometimes I dream that I am dead and my soul is roaming around. I can go through people, through things, through walls. Nobody can see me. My mother too cannot see. I cry desperately to her. 'Look at me' , but she cannot. I often dream of lands one has never been to, where there is peace and tranquility. I feel like going away from all this, go somewhere very far off, to lands where nobody can reach me.' 

Remedy Chosen : Anhalonium-lewinii 1000----single dose with placebo for two weeks.
He saw me after a month instead, and said 'I am not better in my colds and pimples' But his demeanors conveyed that he was better somewhere. On further examination he admitted that there was improvement in his dullness and sleepiness. He was prescribed for a month after which he reported saying: 'I am obsessed with computers. I get lost when working on them. This is not good, right doctor? Now I have started mixing with friends, I am making new friends. The fantasy kind of dreams have gone. I dreamt of being a big businessman. I dream of reality now'.
By March he was a changed man, well shaven, smiling often, vibrant with life, not obsessed with computers anymore and said 'I am no more cut off from reality as I was' His colds and pimples have been cured and the seriousness changed into liveliness. 

Understanding Of The Case;
From the history narrated, I took the following attributes into consideration:
1. Feels friends are laughing at him
2. Feeling of loneliness, isolation
3. Intelligent and great mental energy but otherwise dull
4. Dreams of FANTASY - Superman flying, supernatural, not ordinary, unrealistic.
5. Dreams of self - disintegration (being a spirit)
6. All pervading dryness, dullness, depressed state. The obsession with computers and dreams of robots suggest lifelessness.
As I understand, he was a robot with powers of a superman. A Zombie (dry, lifeless) but at the same time he fantasized of supernatural powers. He would not cope with the PAIN in his life and instead of resorting to the FIGHT mechanism, he chose to resort to the FLIGHT mechanism. He was running away from reality. OPIUM also has PAIN but it resorts to anaesthetizing himself and hence the symptoms Painless, Somnolency. Cannabis resorts to beautifying everything around him.
Our patient was also trying to cope with his own way with the pain in his life. The inherent Anhalonium state made him resort to FANTASY as seen in his dreams.
Clarke's Dictionary of practical Materia Medica writes of Anhalonium:
'Distrust and resentment, thinks companions are laughing at him: Consciousness of unusual energy and intellectual power.
'Drowsiness; followed by consciousness of unusual energy'
P.S: This prescription I was able to make because I already had a smothering knowledge of Anaholium, so I could go through the drug picture and check out that it fitted the Patient's picture. Without this knowledge I confess I would not have been able to prescribe this remedy.