“To be or not to be-that is the problem.”
-an Italian friend, translating Shakespeare
In mapping out individual essence programs, we may take two different approaches-symptom or core treatment-or a combination of both. Symptom treatment, as its name implies, addresses immediate psycho-emotional issues, not physical symptoms. The symptom approach targets essences for specific events, from anything for which we are prepared to circumstances that take us by surprise. This type of essence program may be likened to peeling away the petals of a flower to reach its heart or core. Core treatment constitutes working on deeper-than-surface-layer issues and specific emotional states. This approach directly impacts underlying emotional issues behind the events surrounding them.
How do we relate the symptom and core terms to plot and theme essences? Symptom treatment programs offer peripheral plot essences. The core approach is comprised of pivotal plot essences, or peripheral plot essences that touch that emotional shades-of-gray area beyond mere passing need. Theme essences may be recommended in either core or symptom programs, depending on the assessment of the practitioner.
MARK AND DOREEN’S ADVENTURES
Let’s look at two consultations that employ the core approach. The first case study also illustrates how flower essences enhance our magnetism as reflected back to us by others. Feedback from people-who are our mirrors, especially in close relationships-is an excellent way to assess our growth through taking the essences.
Mark came for an evening consultation. We spoke at some length about his present situation. He had recently moved to the area and was seeking employment in hotel management. Having had no luck, he was battling the discouragement of one unsuccessful interview after another. For whatever reasons, he had not been drawing the career opportunities in his chosen field for many years, despite a glowing resume. It was not an easy consultation and required some verbal excavation. “Anything else going on in your life right now that seems important to mention?” I queried. “Not really,” he answered thoughtfully, “except that my dad passed away recently after having been in a coma for a few weeks.”
Sensing that his unspoken grief over his father’s passing had veiled his ability to attract a job, I suggested Grape as the first essence in his program, for bereavement and loss of love. “After taking one stock drop that evening,” he reported the next morning, “I felt different, but I didn’t know what it was. I’ve just returned from the grocery store. It was strange, but people were treating me what I would call deferentially! They were greeting me with esteem, I guess, and looking into my eyes, wanting to make contact. So even though I noticed something last night but couldn’t put it into words, I was aware of a change in my magnetism at the store this morning.” (Eye contact is a way to both draw and project magnetism.)
Mark’s Grape program is an example of core treatment, or the use of essences that address deeper-than-surface issues. We also could have used a symptom approach to his program-Pineapple, for the obvious career and self-worth issues. Instead, I chose Grape for the underlying issue most likely preventing him from successfully landing a job.
In another example of core treatment, I consulted with a soft-spoken woman named Doreen, who asked if there were also essences for her husband. She reported that he verbally abused their oldest daughter, by whom he felt threatened. The daughter, a Peach theme, excelled in sales. Doreen’s husband had lost a vice-president position in a previous job. The family now worked together in a successful sporting goods store.
Rather than recommending Grape for abusiveness (symptom treatment), we began his program with Raspberry. I chose this essence for the emotional wounds that he had sustained during childhood, a time in his life when he was made to feel unworthy. Orange followed, for finding enthusiasm within himself so he needn’t feel upstaged by his daughter or in competition with her.
Thus, we addressed core issues that ran much deeper than the more obvious, surface-level symptoms. Psycho-emotional symptoms may be treated per se by flower essences or viewed as the tip of the iceberg. These symptoms provide clues which lead to more deeply rooted and long-standing issues-in this case, the core issue of the husband’s damaged sense of self-worth from childhood.
LAUREN AND JANINE: THE PLOT THICKENS
Only last week, I consulted with Lauren, whose program employs the symptom approach. She had been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome several years earlier. To no avail, she had explored one therapy and supplement after another. Her most troubling symptom was insomnia; a close second was mourning the active, athletic life that she had been forced to relinquish. Exhausted day after day, Lauren found herself in a sort of “quiet, wound-up mental hysteria” at night, unable to obtain needed rest. We talked about Lettuce as a first essence, because it is usually mental restlessness that precludes the physical condition of insomnia. Her report the next morning-she had slept easily and well. Thus, although flower essences do not directly treat physical illness-in Lauren’s case the Chronic Fatigue-Lettuce addressed the psycho-emotional issues contributing to the insomnia and nervous exhaustion, making it, by definition, symptom treatment.
We added other essences to complete Lauren’s first program- Coconut, for developing a solution-oriented attitude toward the clinical depression caused by the CFS symptoms; Spinach, for grieving over her loss of self, even though not specifically the stage of childhood, and for the ability to trust the process of the illness and its needed lessons; Tomato, for battling food addictions to sweets and coffee as nurturance substitutes; and Raspberry, to resolve the many hurts and hardships resulting from the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Janine’s program is another example of the symptom approach, although it also overlaps with some longstanding core issues related to her parents. As we like to see at least three substantiations for each essence that is recommended, Janine explained the issues she was working on at the beginning of our consultation. She said that she felt she needed to forgive her parents, who had both passed away; that, at age 60, she was looking to return to work; and that she wanted to write children’s books for publication.
Raspberry was chosen as the first essence in her program of five. Here was a compassionate woman, still healing from her own childhood wounds while at the same time deeply sensitive to the needs of the children she worked with. (There is a saying that “what is not acknowledged, or healed, persists.”)
Her father, at one time a foreman of lemon pickers in Southern California, had been an alcoholic and her mother “relied on prescription drugs to keep herself together.” She explained further that at her last two jobs, she didn’t have the courage to speak out for herself and was fearful of her boss as an authority figure. Janine profiled several hurtful experiences, warranting Raspberry Essence.
After our consultation as an Essence Enhancer to help release the hurt she had held onto for decades, Janine taped a recording as though speaking directly to each of her parents. She reported on Raspberry that:
“I felt a little like my old self. While shopping, I heard music being played through the speakers in the store and I felt like dancing. I got some of my spunk back. I noticed I was more talkative and I planted my first garden outside.”
The second essence in her program was Orange, to restore a sense of hope and enthusiasm for her future. In the last of her most recent jobs as a social worker in an adoption agency, she had chosen to be fired and was then rehired as a substitute. She described herself like “a deer in the headlights,” unable to help the children to be placed in homes that suited their needs. The agency, sad to say, based its matches on finances. Janine felt emotionally drained with no closure with the children and families on leaving the job.
While taking Orange Essence, Janine said that she was finally able to open up to her daughter about her own mother. She continued, “I talked about a lasagna recipe I use that my mother gave me. I found myself singing about joy.”
The remainder of her program consisted of Fig, for feeling that she was “between a rock and a hard place” in being unable to deal with difficult coworkers; Peach, to support her mothering nature expressed through her ties with her biological family and the children she worked with; and Pineapple, specifically for an imminent job interview, saying she didn’t think she was assertive enough at work and that this was a part of her problem. (Although she didn’t land that particular job, she was kindly told that her resume was very impressive.)
ESSENCE PATHS AND PROGRAMS
We might say that the only difference between symptom and core treatment is one of degree, with symptom treatment addressing more surface-level issues. In consultation, I generally recommend an essence program based on the individual’s need to clear and release one level at a time. Thus, each program is determined by: (1) the client’s psychophysiological symptoms; (2) issues which have impacted his personality since childhood; and (3) an understanding and application of individualized theme and plot essences.
Which approach should you use, then-symptom or core? Both are valid and they are interconnected, providing a framework for understanding essence application. You may want to incorporate these terms in working with yourself, family, friends and clients.