Excerpted from Materia Medica Viva (12 Volumes) by George Vithoukas.
Aurum foliatum, Aurum Purum
English: Gold leaf, Pure gold
French: Or en feuilles, Or pur
German: Gold, Blatgold
THE ESSENTIAL FEATURES
Gold imprints upon the human organism the idea of self-destruction, of annihilation, of death. When introduced into the living organism, it tends to deprive the person of the will to live. It is the principle remedy to develop the state of loathing for life, desire to die, and tendency to commit suicide. As several other remedies correspond to suicidal depression, we must here concentrate upon a description of the particular type of person, the character of the individual who requires Aurum.
The Personality of Aurum
The central theme of Aurum is extreme depression and loathing of life which progress to suicidal thoughts and, finally, self-destruction. These elements are clearly described in earlier literature. An extreme depression does not develop overnight, and not without earlier stages. For homeopathic practitioners the very best strategy is to prevent the final stage of the Aurum depression, to prevent the possibility of suicide. To facilitate this recognition we must identify the various characteristics that coincide with the earlier Aurum states such that the patient’s desire to live and capacity to enjoy life can be reinstated.
The pathological Aurum condition usually arises in people who possess a serious and introverted character. They are generally closed people, responsible and quite refined. At the early stages of pathology one can sense that they avoid superficial and tend to remain rather aloof or sell-contained. Generally they are very disciplined and highly ambitious. They seem to have the fundamental conviction that they are destined for a superior and esteemed position in life.
Aurum, we must not forget, is the metal gold. Using an analogy, gold, if it were personified, we would feel that it held the highest position possible.
It is as if these individuals think that a high position in life is their birthright. This characteristic illustrates the egotistical quality of Aurum, and it is this egotistical element that will cause difficulties for these people later in life. They want to be, and feel they are, more capable than others; they have that conviction. Because they feel that they have a high intrinsic value, like gold, they set very high standards for themselves and work hard to achieve those standards. In fact, their high opinion of themselves is often justified, for Aurum individuals tend to be serious-minded, mentally clear, responsible and intelligent. But through this seriousness, ambition, diligent self-application and industriousness they seem to lose the sense of lightness about life, cheerfulness. They will often say or convey the impression that throughout their life there has been a pervading sense of seriousness with a touch of sadness. It is as if a constant background of sad music had been playing in accompaniment to the events of their life. As the pathology develops, they will eventually go into a state of self-reproach, self-criticism and, finally, a feeling that they are worthless and incapable of accomplishing anything.
Aurum children tend to be serious and aloof. Even at an early age it is difficult for them to establish close friendships. These children usually are ambitious and frequently attain prominence in their class at school. Their parents will describe them as serious. At the same time one can see a sensitivity and refinement in these children. The weak point of these children, and of Aurum patients in general, lies upon the emotional level. They are vulnerable emotionally, though they are intellectually quite strong. Externally one sees a person who appears quite normal; the vulnerability and extreme sensitivity is inside and not readily apparent on the surface. Once they leave the shelter of the home and enter school, they inevitably encounter some difficulty, be it a critical remark by a teacher or fellow students, some problem with schoolwork, etc. Critical remarks will have a tremendous and immediate effect upon these children. Their emotional body cannot tolerate such remarks, and they seem to break down very easily. A normal child will not be so significantly affected by so slight a remark as is the Aurum child. They will not show his reaction however. Instead, an internal doubt about his own abilities begins to grow, and he begins to feel that the world is not a fit place in which to live. He will not express his doubts and concerns but will continue trying to attain the goals of his ambition – further education, money, positions of prominence, etc. Yet throughout his entire life a sense of bitterness remains, and he continues to feel that the world is a cruel, uninviting place. The world seems to him an environment in which it is not worth living. Eventually this attitude leads to deep depression and a suicidal disposition.
These children are not emotionally expressive, not affectionate or warm. As mentioned, they are introverted and serious; however, they do need and demand affection. Later in life, when they have established for themselves a prominent position in their career or in society, they seem to receive affection because they are esteemed by others. They will receive praise and commendations from parents, teachers, and, later, society. They need this affection and approval in order to survive; it represents food for their weak emotional nature, enabling them to maintain balance. Their exaggerated self-confidence causes them to believe that they deserve the adulation they receive. But with the first grief they encounter they become very hurt and disappointed. They will react angrily to the situation, but the anger remains inside, unexpressed. Eventually they develop resentment.
Aurum and Natrum muriaticum children would seem to have many characteristics in common. Contrasting the two, one sees that the Natrum muriaticum child can be recognized early because of his reserved demeanor and his tendency to be easily offended and resentful. The Aurum child is difficult to recognize unless exposed to significant stresses; he usually looks quite normal and well-behaved. Natrum muriaticum is very closed; also, the hysterical element is quite prominent; he creates an atmosphere about him that clearly states, “Leave me alone!” His parents may describe him as terrible, throwing screaming tantrums whenever he is punished or even worse when somebody is trying to calm him down while in a tantrum.
Natrum muriaticum does not seem to want company; more accurately, he finds it impossible to engage company even if he wants it. When at a party, Natrum muriaticum will sit alone and just observe – a typical wallflower. Nonetheless, the Natrum muriaticum child can be very receptive. To justify presribing Natrum muriaticum to a child one needs to see some shade of the typical aggravation from consolation. Both remedies want affection. Natrum muriaticum may show a liking for an affectionate grandmother if he feels safe with her. In such a relationship the child will open up, revealing the beauty and sensitivity dwelling inside. At the end of the homeopathic interview, if the practitioner has acted very concerned, the Natrum muriaticum child might open up; the Aurum child will never open up.
The Aurum child seeks the company of older persons. He exudes seriousness and most probably wants to understand intellectually what it is that “is causing so much pain in the world.” It is amazing how many questions an Aurum child has and how much he understands without his parents realizing it. It is because of this sensitive nature that he suffers silently with even the slightest of reprimands.
The Aurum child is sure to have been emotionally wounded from his very early years by virtue of the contrast between his own sense of self-importance and the actual degree of importance others seem to attribute to him. He believes in himself, and, if it appears that others do not believe in him, he is destroyed. This is how the conflict emerges from the very beginning. It is interesting to observe that an enormous number of tragedies have unfolded in the history of mankind because of the inflated belief in the significance of gold. Human beings have attached tremendous importance to gold, and when they lose it, they all too readily feel that life is not worth living. Interestingly, it is this very theme, when prominent in mental illness, that gold will cure in high potencies.
The Aurum Adult
The Aurum adult we have described – possessed of high ideals, great self-confidence, self-discipline, a serious mind and the desire to both dispense and receive justice in life – will at some point experience his first romantic encounter. The dynamics in such a relationship are the following: the idealistic Aurum enters the relationship with the whole of his energy; he gives himself to the relationship entirely. He immerses himself totally in the idealism of the romance. The relationship provides him with the warmth of affection that his Aurum nature needs. After a time in this relationship he will begin to observe various untoward details about his partner, becoming inwardly critical. He begins to withhold his affection for the least thing; such as, if his partner were to just look at another man. Finally he comes to feel that the relationship is not ideal and will at some point abruptly terminate the relationship without the least previous indication of dissatisfaction.
He is loathe to face an impending future failure of the relationship; consequently, he tries to paradoxically avoid such a failure by being the one to end it first, but he does so at tremendous emotional cost. Subsequent to the rupture of the relationship he will feel torn to pieces with grief. He will suffer insomnia, often talking to himself when trying to fall asleep. This talking will occur in fits and jerks; it is not continuous. On closing his eyes he will see or relive a scene from the relationship and, in a fit of emotion, will blurt out something; e.g., “No, No, Go away!” This example illustrates an important characteristic of this remedy: when under stress or suffering a grief, Aurum may begin talking to himself. It is an aggressive form of talking, erupting as thoughts come to him. The words seem to jerkily escape from his mouth. During that period he will remain closed, silent, non-communicative and brooding. True to his Aurum nature, he may soon begin to lose his ambition in life, eventually reaching a state of complete lack of ambition with the hope that he will soon find an exit from this wretched and disappointing world.
Resentment and Vengefulness
After such a grief, resentment and vengefulness lay claim to his character. He takes his revenge on his next lover, acting very coldly toward her. He gives nothing of himself in this relationship like Natrum muriaticum and lgnatia, Veratrum album and Hyosyamus, but for different reasons. The relationship is primarily established on an intellectual level, the Aurum individual being considered attractive especially because of his mental capabilities. However, he may display great sexual excitement in this relationship (though not so great as would Platina ). Eventually, at some point in the relationship when he feels that his lover has become quite attached to him, he begins to take advantage of her and to treat her coldly and cruelly. He inflicts suffering on her while at the same time suffering himself because of his behaviour. This suffering leads to deeper grief which augments the earlier depression. He feels that there is no possibility in this world to have a successful love affair because he recognizes his own weakness in that regard – his fear of rejection. [Still, that which Aurum fears most is a downfall and the loss of his self-esteem and the respect of others.]
He feels that he will not survive if he is rejected by his lover; in consequence, his thoughts immediately turn to the ultimate destructive recourse – suicide; however, paradoxically, he also refuses to accept the least flaw in a relationship. (Gold does not accept impurities.) This lack of acceptance on his part is not, of course, the result of some [alchemical] incompatibility between Aurum’s “purity” and his partner’s “impurity,” rather it is an expression of his essentially critical nature, tinged with malice and vindictiveness.
Because Aurum so coincides with the state of depression, it should be strongly considered when a patient presents deep grief without more definitive indications of another remedy and when earlier prescriptions of such remedies as lgnatia, Natrum muriaticum and Staphysagria have failed to act.
The Reasons for Suicide and the Means
Business and financial success are very important to Aurum. They go into business because of a financial dream. Despite being competitive, hard-working businessmen, they retain a high degree of sensitivity. They are very sensitive about their obligations, so much so that when faced with a serious financial failure, with no way to meet their obligations, they will be unable to see any way out of their predicament. They cannot tolerate the possibility of a financial downfall or bankruptcy because of the implications of personal and professional imperfection, the possibility that they are no longer credible to others, the fear that they have lost the esteem in which they were previously held by their colleagues and business associates. They feel that they must ascend the ladder of success; if not, if they fail, they feel that all is finished. They become deeply depressed and want to leave this world. It appears to them impossible to consider starting over again, attempting to rebuild their financial fortunes to the extent that they can repay their debts. When this attitude becomes deeply entrenched and the depression very deep, they will be prone to commit suicide, mostly by jumping from a high place.
It is interesting to observe in this desperate, final act how the idea of an abrupt “fall” from a high place overtakes the individual. The Aurum individual repeatedly displays the tendency to suddenly fall from one psychological state to another. This tendency of Aurum is obviously a very pathological one, the extreme sensitivity to reversals equating with a form of fragility – when put under a specific type of stress, the organism falls down and may self-destruct.
Aurum invests his belief in high ideals, typically wealth, justice and prominence. If disappointed by any of these ideals, he can become quickly disillusioned and depressed. For instance, were he to be treated unjustly by someone in a position of authority, he would react strongly. His painful experience might motivate him to seek reforms in society, to re-establish order and justice in the world, according to his own ability and influence. Such a preoccupation with idealism provides a common ground between those who have attained some success in their lives and those who are disillusioned; consequently, both highly successful young people and passionate anarchists with idealistic attitudes can be Aurum individuals.
The successful Aurum businessman will work diligently towards prominence within the establishment, Aurum being one of the major workaholic remedies. He quickly attains considerable heights in his profession due to his capacity for constant work; however, should something go wrong, should he be unable to meet his financial obligations, he will be totally devastated. The thought of possibly being disgraced is unbearable to him; in his despair he immediately seizes upon the ultimate and absolute solution: suicide.
Constant criticism, especially from his closest associates, can also crush Aurum. He expects everyone to understand his high ideals, his high aspirations and his inborn sense of justice, and he is sorely disturbed when others misunderstand or criticize him.
It is really amazing to see how quickly in such a case Aurum, in high potency, will restore order, remove the extreme emotional coldness, lend warmth and courage to the person so as to enable him to see the positive side of life, providing him the will to try again and to choose to continue living. Margaret Tyler, who lived as a homeopathic physician through the world’s greatest financial crisis, writes: “some of us could tell tale after tale of patients, in these days of world-wide commercial depression, who, reduced to despair by straightened means and anxiety, threatened suicide, and yet were rapidly restored to life, to hope, to renewed effort by a few doses of homeopathic gold.”
In the development of the pathology of such an individual we must keep sight of his cachectic emotional life, the emotional coldness that eventually develops, the continuous “emotional winter’ that shapes so much of his actions and decisions. It is, perhaps, of interest to note that countries in the extreme North, with almost “constant winter” climates and prolonged periods of relative darkness, report high suicide rates. An Aurum patient feels that he lives constantly without the sun in his life, without the rays of light, hope and warmth.
The anarchist follows another path. He can be quite passionate about his cause; he can be an extremist or even a terrorist, seeming at times to court death by his activities. Caught in his Aurum psychopathology, he feels no joy in life, and he usually mistakes his inner joylessness for that of the world at large; he projects all of his gloomy perceptions upon the world. Thus, in his eyes, the world is a doomed place, lacking in happiness, and tainted by immorality and rampant injustice. In many instances the Aurum individual will decide to do something about it, even to the point of risking his own life; in fact, the thought that he may die for a good cause actually comforts him. He is excited by the idea of death and even invites it.
Consequently, in pursuit of this needed stimulation, he may engage in underground activities that create the risk of death. Interestingly, when such a person arrives at the brink of success, such as when he is just about to assume a position of leadership in his group, he will usually drop out of the group for fear of failure. In such instances one does not see the more typical successful Aurum who may have suffered from a setback, but rather one who avoids success because of his fear of failure and who at the same time carries the idea of death inside him most of the time. Such individuals, after leaving one group, will seek another group, another ideal to serve, eventually with the same consequences.
Aurum, during his depression, thinks that the sun, the light has completely faded from his life, that there is no hope for him; he even believes that in the afterlife he will be lost, that he will not find salvation. All avenues for a reversal of his situation in life seem closed. He feels that “he has failed in every department of his life.” Nothing can give him joy. A cold “metallic stillness” prevails over his emotions. This stillness is complete; there is no movement of feelings. There seems to be a hardness, an “induration” of the feelings which can in the end produce a “malignant emotional ulcer.” After having reached such a state, self-destruction is unavoidable.[This very same idea of hardness, induration, ugly ulceration runs throughout the remedy, affecting the organs, especially the uterus and testes, the organs that physically express the emotion of love.] An Aurum individual in such an advanced state of depression, without any hope of change, without any reason to live, may remain in this condition for years. Then some incident, even a relatively trivial one, may occur which upsets his tenuous emotional balance; it is then that the well-known impulse to jump from a high place occurs. When he finds himself in a high place and looks down, he thinks that if he jumps he can put an end to his sufferings. He almost hears a voice murmuring to him, “Jump. Jump. Now is your chance.” At this point he has reached, as Kent says, a state of insanity of the will. Now the very thought of dying brings relief, almost joy. He feels that by jumping he will be jumping into freedom and ending his unbearable sufferings. He experiences no fear of death.
An important point to note is that such a patient may not tell the physician that he suffers from a suicidal depression! He neither believes that anyone can help him nor that he can be saved by a medicine, so he sees no point in mentioning his severe depression. He is convinced that his emotional state is the end result of his factual situation in life, not a reflection of any emotional weakness or illness on his part. Should the physician inquire directly of the patient about any suicidal thoughts or depression, he may answer in the affirmative, but typically not very overtly. Similarly, Aurum will never ask for help or advice from a friend or relative with regard to his problems. Asking for help would be too degrading, and, furthermore, he considers his problems his and his alone.
It is very seldom that we see in Aurum a fear of dying. When it exists, the patient will exhibit a definite loathing of life while at the same time abhorring the idea of death. In such instances the fear of death is so intense that even the mention of the word “death” is tremendously upsetting.
Aurum suicides very often catch others by complete surprise. The depressed Aurum hides his depression from others and offsets it with industriouness. Despite his emotional turmoil, he maintains control over his mind, and he engages in mental occupation to avoid his emotional woes. His work is not in the least compromised by his sadness; he performs very competently right up to the moment he commits suicide. His sense of responsibility is so strong that he cannot do otherwise even though he might secretly wish to quit working. It is for this reason one should think of Aurum when confronted with a workaholic with a constant background depression.
In other cases, along with the depression, the patient may feel that he has lost all ability to think and perform; he feels weary and listless yet does not find relaxation by resting. His sleep is disturbed. He feels that he is incapable of meeting his obligations, yet this “incapacity” is not easily perceived by others because his work is essentially still quite good.
Aurum is especially indicated if the patient senses such changes within himself and is, as a result, extremely disturbed. Well before reaching a state of actual imbecility Aurum will commit suicide. However, on occasion the pathology can rapidly progress towards imbecility, imbecility being within the sphere of action of this medicine.
Anger, Violence and Self-Reproach
Self-reproach, self-criticism and anger are common to Aurum. The self-reproach can take a self-destructive turn – excessive smoking, drug and alcohol abuse are examples of this. For example, a depressed executive with a hectic emotional life might be criticized by his boss. He says nothing to anyone, instead sitting silently and brooding. His wife perceives the change in him, but when she asks him about it, he replies that nothing is the matter. He sits there and tries to find solutions by himself, but the more he thinks, the more dejected and depressed he becomes. He becomes intolerant of being pressured, intolerant of any kind of contradiction. If his wife should begin to nag him or interfere with his silent brooding, he flies into an outburst of violent anger.
When in the grip of anger, Aurum can be quite violent, breaking objects, striking walls or windows with his fists; he loses his self-control, becoming hysterical and possibly very nasty toward others. However, he is very seldom physically violent toward others. Soon after an hysterical outburst of anger he feels great exhaustion, remorse and, eventually, deep sadness; it is at this stage that physical symptoms will begin to surface. The primary organ to suffer will be the heart, angina pains being a common result.
Usually Aurum directs his anger at himself rather than others; he will never have the urge to kill another but often wishes to annihilate, to destroy himself. Deep down, he views his own suicide as an act of revenge toward those who care about him, who love him and who will be hurt deeply by this final act. He contemplates such a course of twisted vengeance because he believes that his loved ones do not care enough about him.
One rather common scenario the Aurum patient describes is that when in a fit of despair and anger, he will go for a drive in his car. In his despair he accelerates the car faster and faster with the thought in mind of disappearing from the face of the earth, of having an accident, of smashing the care against a tree or wall. The acceleration, imminent danger and possibility of death eventually relieve him enough that in time he calms down, sees the irrationality of his behavior and slows down the car… but Aurum can also kill himself in this situation.
Another aspect of Aurum is the praying in which they engage. But before describing this characteristic of the remedy, let me stress that it is incumbent upon us to understand the different reactions of the remedy-patient in a logical and sequential manner.
A disease or remedy imprint upon a human being has its own “logic,” its own seal that is unique and that has a specific personality. It is our duty to understand and unravel this “logic” if we really want to relieve our patients of their suffering.
Aurum people pray as a result of different psychological states and for different reasons. In certain cases they themselves have difficulty explaining and understanding their need for prayer. It is usually manifest in younger people: they pray and pray for hours, being unable to stop without really knowing why. The fact of the matter is that they are unconsciously depressed, dejected, and disappointed by life. If one inquires about the possibility of prayer with seriousness and concern, they may confess their need. They find that praying diverts their attention from their background depression, enough to almost provide them with a deep sense of relief and joy. The compulsion to pray in such a fashion – for hours on end without stop – occurs several years before the deep suicidal depression appears. These patients will confess that they like to pray, and they find nothing wrong with their praying apart from the fact that it consumes too much time and they cannot stop themselves. This excessive praying usually occurs when they have established with some religious group. Apart from this habit, they behave rationally in every other way. One should be careful not to confuse this protracted and almost mechanistic praying with the natural tendency and need that certain pious or religious people have to pray; Aurum prayer is truly pathological.
There is another type of praying which arises out of the deep suicidal depression of Aurum, depression characterised by tremendous hopelessness and worthlessness and a profound sense of alienation from all others, even those close to them. Those in such a depression feel totally isolated from any form of life on this earth. They also fear that spiritually they are so undeserving that they will not win God’s salvation after death; they feel completely lost. It is then that the conviction comes upon them that the only thing that can save them is God, the only being upon whom they can rely is God. Having completely given up all connections with actual life, God becomes their only recourse, their only source of hope; nothing else matters. This conclusion is not a derivative of logical thought, but rather of instinctual impulse, a desperate final impulse to survive.