The Thuja personality is very easy to miss, partly because it is uncommon, but mainly because it is so closed and secretive. Many Thuja patients, particularly the male ones, give so little away during the interview that one is left with the impression of a mystery-man. Thuja is by nature aloof, distant and self-absorbed, (Kent: 'Averse company', 'Avoids the sight of people') and he allows very few, if any people to get to know him. He usually does not realise it explicitly, but the main reason for his guardedness is a deep sense of guilt and self-loathing (Kent: 'homeopathic anxiety remedies with guilt', 'Reproaches self'). There is generally a strong sexual component to Thuja's guilt, even though it may be impossible to isolate the origin of this guilt from an analysis of the patient's life. Whatever its cause, it leaves the Thuja person feeling as if he has committed a crime, and afraid of being found out.
I have found Thuja to be equally represented in men and women, but to be expressed somewhat differently according to gender. In women there is usually more awareness of sexual guilt, and often a sense of being dirty. One young woman came to see me for treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease,
and reported the usual symptoms of chronic vaginal discharge and deep pelvic pain. The overwhelming feature of her mental history was the sense of disgust and self-loathing that she felt, to the point of feeling dirty all the time, and thinking that she smelt foul, when she did not. This sense of disgust was similar to that seen in women who have recently been raped, but this woman had not, and her self-loathing had continued for several months. She was a very classic Thuja, having additional confirmatory features including a past history of cutaneous warts, a family history of gonorrhoea, and dreams of falling. Even without these features, the pelvic focus of her disease, combined with the extreme sense of self-disgust, would be enough to prescribe Thuja with some confidence. I gave her Thuja 200c daily for three days, and her pelvic pain and discharge both became worse for about three weeks, and then settled. She later needed a dose of Thuja 1M to deal with a mild relapse. Her sense of guilt gradually receded along with her other symptoms.
Another young woman came to see me for psychotherapy. She was a very nervous woman, who had been sent into a crisis of guilt after being promoted at work to a position of supervisor. Her position demanded that she assess the performance of the workers under her, and make constructive criticism where necessary, including punishment and dismissal if warranted. However, she felt such an avalanche of anxiety and guilt whenever she attempted to criticise one of them, that she was put into a perpetual state of fear, and was always on the verge of tears. During psychotherapy it emerged that she had always felt that she was a bad person, that she was selfish, and that her strong sexual desires were improper. As a result, she had always tried to please people, in order to avoid being found out to be the awful person that she thought she was. At the time of entering therapy she had also just entered a new relationship, with a man whom she felt very happy with, and she resented the guilt feelings which arose when she spent time with him. She could not explain this guilt, except to say that perhaps she didn't deserve to be happy. In the course of the therapy it emerged that her guilt feelings were primarily centred around sex itself, and eventually she began to remember an episode of sexual abuse in her early childhood. The sheer terror which she felt in facing this trauma was even greater than that normally seen in such cases, since she was constitutionally more sensitive and nervous than the majority of women who have been abused as children (i.e. than abused Natrum women). I had realised during the therapy that she was probably Thuja constitutionally, and I found that a dose of Thuja 10M greatly steadied her and enabled her to face the trauma and deal with it.
I have had two Thuja psychotherapy patients, both female, and unfortunately both had been sexually abused as young children, hence it is difficult for me to get a clear picture of Thuja separate from the effects of this. Nevertheless, both Thuja patients reacted in a similar manner to their ordeal during psychotherapy, which was different from that of most other women. Both were far more secretive, and had to be constantly pressured to reveal what they remembered, and what they felt, because they were so ashamed of it. The terror that they both felt in confronting their past trauma was far greater than that of most other women in the same situation, and it affected them far more outside of the therapy sessions. Furthermore, both women were manifestly psychic, and prone to visions both during the therapy sessions and afterwards. They came to realise that these visions, which were generally frightening, were their minds' way of avoiding the actual memories from childhood of their abuse. Better a frightening nightmare than reality. I found that both had an unusual degree of perceptiveness and insight into not only their own minds, but also the minds of others. This was in part an intuitive or psychic ability to pick up what another person is feeling or thinking, and partly the result of a subtle intellect that could see beneath outer appearances.
The degree of self-loathing that arose during the therapy was so great in one case that the woman longed to hurt herself, and had frequent visions of cutting her body to pieces, or of burning herself. On a couple of occasions she did cut her wrists with a knife, but only very superficially. She said that she did not want to die-only to hurt herself. Over the course of therapy she came to see how she had repeatedly tried to hurt herself subconsciously throughout her life by putting up with abusive relationships, and by denying her own needs. Even though she came to see that her problems in life stemmed from her mother's neglect of her, and the sexual abuse she had endured in the hands of a friend of the family, she still felt that it was all her fault for a long time, until near the end of her therapy, when she was able to accept herself and vent her fury where it belonged.
The self-loathing that we see in many Thuja women is similar to that seen in many Natrum women, but on a deeper level. There is a sense of darkness and ugliness that is truly 'nightmarish' or transpersonal when compared with the vague sense of unworthiness or badness that we often see in Natrum. This is partly because Thuja is a psychic type, like Medorrhinum, and is hence more directly in touch with normally subconscious contents. Natrum is also psychic sometimes, but not so frequently as Thuja women, who all appear to be psychic. Furthermore, the essence of Natrum's emotional pathology is a sense of being unloved and abandoned, whereas that of Thuja is more specifically being dirty and wretched.
One Thuja patient of mine had very little emotional pathology. She was bright, sensitive, loving and spiritual in her orientation. I thought she was Thuja constitutionally as soon as I set eyes on her, since her appearance was so similar to the previous two Thuja patients I had treated, who were not so healthy emotionally. She even had the same soft lisp as my previous Thuja patient. The only evidence, apart from her appearance, that she was Thuja, was a toenail fungal infection. Thuja is prone to these, but it was the way she reacted to her toenail that made me sure of the remedy. She felt that her toenail was so ugly that she would not show it to me. (This reminded me of a previous Thuja patient, who had a lump in her breast, but was very reluctant to let me examine it, because she felt an ugly freak. The reason she felt a freak was because her nipples were unusually long.) She had consulted me for help with a general feeling of being 'stressed out' after a difficult time in her life. A dose of Thuja 1M brought her back to her old self within a week. This relatively healthy Thuja woman could easily have been mistaken for a Medorrhinum woman. The appearances are similar, but Medorrhinum does not have such a sallow skin, nor such a tendency to have dark moles and freckles on the face and body. Furthermore, Medorrhinum's physique is seldom as slim as that of most Thuja women. Psychologically, there was a subtle difference between this woman and the majority of Medorrhinum women I have seen. She appeared more sensitive and delicate than Medorrhinumn, who is generally more robust than Thuja emotionally and physically.
Thuja men are like brick walls when it comes to letting people in. They are even more closed than Natrum and Aurum men, and will generally say very little about their inner life, sticking almost exclusively to physical symptoms during the homeopathic interview. Because of this, they are difficult to spot, and I can only make assumptions about what goes on behind their high defensive walls. When the homeopath does question them about their personality, they will reply 'normal' or something to that effect, and will only answer 'yes' or 'no' or 'maybe' to specific questions (Kent: 'Speech monosyllabic'). Thuja men are very reluctant to interact verbally with other people, unless it is on a safe, impersonal level, and I suspect this is as a result of them fearing that others will begin to suspect that they have dark skeletons in the closet.
It seems as if Thuja men react in much the same way as Natrum men to their inner fears. They become hard on the outside, unapproachable, and evasive. Again, Thuja seems more defensive in this respect than Natrum, presumably because his guilt is greater.
Thuja is a remedy that covers venereal disease more than any other. There is generally a great deal of shame involved in venereal diseases, and also very often deceit, and I believe that these two features are reflected in Thuja's personality. One man who came to see me for treatment of chronic prostatitis admitted to me that he had continued having sex with his wife after he had caught venereal urethritis, and did not tell her until she had caught it herself, because he was too ashamed to tell her that he had slept with another woman. This scenario is hardly confined to Thuja men and their spouses, but it seems to me to be a natural consequence of the kind of secrecy that surrounds Thuja's sex life. Wherever there are secrets we can expect to find something rotting, and in Thuja's case the rot is generally so deep that he is not aware of it himself, but only of a more general sense of self-loathing in the case of women, and evasiveness in the case of men.
Some homeopaths have reported a kind of hardness in Thuja people. In my limited experience of Thuja men, this appearance of hardness is a result of their closing off to other people. I once had a neighbour who had cancer of the lung, and was gravely ill. The cancer was inoperable, and chemotherapy had failed to stop its spread. I did not know the man well, but my wife knew his wife, and having heard of his condition I went round to his house and offered to treat him homeopathically and nutritionally, saying that these measures were sometimes effective where orthodox therapy had failed. He said that he would rather give the chemotherapy another chance, and his wife told me afterwards that he was very closed when it came to anything unorthodox. His demeanour put me in mind of Thuja, since he was both serious and aloof, and his dark eyes showed neither interest nor appreciation for my visit. I had the impression that I was talking to a man who was not there, but was hiding somewhere, having given up on leading a rewarding life (Kent: 'Loathing life'). His appearance was also suggestive of Thuja, since his complexion was very dark, and he had two large moles on his face. Furthermore, his wife told me that he had always suffered from asthma, as many Thuja people do.
Fear and paranoia
Several of my Thuja patients showed signs of mild paranoia, and this is not surprising, when one remembers that Thuja tends to feel that he has committed a great crime. One Thuja patient was paranoid about police, and panicked whenever he saw a police car, even though he had not committed a crime. Usually he had some small misdemeanour like a faulty tail light on his car to hide, but he reacted as if he was wanted for murder, sweating and trying to avoid being spotted by the police (Kent: 'Delusions-that he is a criminal). When he was pulled over for speeding he had visions of going to jail, when all he was liable for was a routine fine. Thuja helped his asthma, and also seemed to make him a little less paranoid, but such reactions are slow to disappear even with homeopathy when they are deep-seated and chronic, since this requires a resolution of unconscious psychological trauma.
One of my female Thuja patients had a different kind of paranoia. She was very psychic, and felt that her house was haunted. During the process of her psychotherapy she often saw faces in the room which looked evil and terrifying to her (Kent: 'Delusions-images, phantoms'), and she told me that this had happened before, whenever she was under great stress. She believed that these 'spirits' were real, and had various mental techniques for protecting herself from them, but at the same time she understood that they would leave her alone once she had completed her own personal 'house-cleaning' by exorcising the traumas of her past. At times both she and my other Thuja therapy patient were in a state of sheer panic, the kind of panic that is characteristic of those who are close to the edge of insanity. They were both afraid of people, which was not surprising given the abuse in their childhood, but this fear was greater than that normally seen in such cases. One of the women could not go shopping alone, because she felt so vulnerable (Kent: 'Fear of strangers'), yet she could converse in a relaxed way with those she knew. Even so, at certain times during the period she was in therapy, she would feel that none of her friends understood her, that she could trust nobody, and that some of her 'friends' were against her for various reasons. At these times she did not even trust me enough to tell me what she was feeling. One of the results of this fear was that she became very isolated, and this only made her more afraid. At times she withdrew into herself and felt no affection for her son and daughter, and did not want contact with them (Kent: 'Averse to being touched'). At other times she was filled with love and peace, floating on a 'high' which made everything appear beautiful. Thuja shares this propensity for ecstasy with other clairvoyant types like Medorrhinum and Lachesis, but I have not seen it described by Thuja men.
On the verge of madness
I have not seen a Thuja case that deteriorated into madness, but it seems as if the potential is there. The materia medicas are full of references to the strange perceptions that Thuja is prone to, especially the delusion that her legs are made of glass, or that there is a foetus in her stomach. I did not take these references very seriously for years, having never come across them in my Thuja patients, but when I came to have Thuja patients for psychotherapy, I began to encounter these strange perceptions. In particular, when one patient was beginning to get in touch with distressing emotions which had been suppressed, she would feel it first as strange physical sensations. There were many of these, but the most frequent were movements in her abdomen, sometimes like a whirlpool inside of her stomach, and sometimes like a feeling of a moving lump. At other times she would have a vision that her pelvis was filled with blood, or that something was rotting inside of her. These experiences would no doubt be alarming to a great many Thuja people if they had them, but in the context of psychotherapy we were able to make sense of their symbolism, and this made them far less threatening.
My Thuja patients were certainly far less stable psychologically than most of my psychotherapy patients. At times they would 'flip out', entering dreamy, almost comatose states when they could not face the emotions that were surfacing (Kent: 'Stupefaction'). At other times they would rage, and their anger was again more dramatic than I am used to seeing in my Natrum patients. Like Lachesis, Thuja can be thought of as something of a taut string or a volcano waiting to go off, but whereas Lachesis either becomes nervous as a result of suppressing this tension, or loses her temper, Thuja tends to be more self-destructive. I once saw a video case of a Thuja patient who was suffering from AIDS. He reported that he used to have sex with up to twenty men in a single night. He was strangely unemotional about it, as if it were a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and I suppose it was in the circles in which he mixed. The follow-up video a few months after taking Thuja 10M showed him looking very different. He no longer had the hard impassive expression, and spoke more from the heart about his sadness and his regrets, and the guilt he felt about his previous sexual activities. His AIDS-related symptoms appeared to have improved considerably during this time. The remedy seemed to have not only improved his physical health, but also made him more open, and more in touch with his feelings. Only by facing himself can Thuja learn to accept himself, and hence to cease self-destructive behaviour.
Anger and sexuality
Thuja is generally a very highly-sexed person. This is to be expected in a remedy that is one of the principal homeopathic treatments for a wide range of venereal diseases. Medorrhinum is a very closely related remedy, with numerous similarities in both the physical symptomatology, and the personality. Both have strong sex-drives, but I have the impression that in general Medorrhinum is more able to integrate his libido into normal and satisfying relationships, since his personality as a whole tends to be more integrated. In contrast, Thuja is often so busy hiding from his guilt (especially his sexual guilt), that it is difficult for him to make intimate contact with anyone, and hence sex is more likely to be divorced from emotional intimacy. In the case of Thuja women, the sense of sexual guilt is often so great that they can hardly enjoy sex at all, despite very powerful sexual urges, which often lead them to masturbation, which then aggravates the sense of guilt that they feel.
I have said before that a high libido tends to go hand in hand with a greater potential for anger, and I believe Thuja to be no exception. Thuja women are often too timid to show their anger publicly, but they often say that they have a habit of losing their temper at home, especially with the children. Like Sepia and Medorrhinum women, their emotional instability can result in explosive outbursts, especially premenstrually, when tension can rise to the point where she feels like screaming. Although Thuja can be very closed publicly, she is better able than most Natrum women to let out her emotions at home, and although this can make for an unstable atmosphere in the home, at least it helps the Thuja woman to retain her sanity. (Kent: 'This irritability is likely to be shown towards individuals about the house. She is yet able to control herself amongst strangers'.)
Thuja men are more closed than the women, and often irritability is the main emotion that they show. It is a great strain to hide oneself from the world, and from one's own guilt, and it is this strain which results in the Thuja man becoming irritable (Kent: 'Irritable' in black type in the Repertory, 'Jealousy, ugliness, quarrelsome', 'anger from contradiction').
The Thuja personality is not easy to spot. Often the physicals and generals will suggest the remedy, which can then be confirmed in the case of the Thuja man by noting his extreme degree of resistance to disclosing personal information, his serious, no-nonsense attitude, his high sex drive, and any degree of either paranoia or manipulation that he reveals. The Thuja woman is more open, but still often very wary, and very prone to feelings of shame, especially in regard to sex. She tends to feel panic easily, particularly if she feels she has upset someone, and tends to be introverted and withdrawn. The Thuja woman is relatively psychic, being prone to strong intuitive feelings, and also visions. She is often very self-critical, and tends to be conscientious, in order to avoid the guilt and self-recrimination to which she is so prone.
Thuja women tend to have sensitive, perceptive minds, and to be caring people who can feel for others, including actually feeling what others feel, in the same way that Phosphorus does. Some are healthy emotionally, apart from isolated traits, such as shame related to certain physical characteristics. (Some degree of malformation or abnormality on the skin is common in Thuja. This may take the form of large moles and warts, distorted nails, or the elongated nipples and large bulbous nose of one of my patients.) The healthy Thuja woman is sensitive, introspective and caring.
One fairly reliable Thuja characteristic is recurrent dreams of falling. This is presumably a symbolic representation of Thuja's fear of falling from grace and being found out and punished for her 'crimes'.
Thuja generally has a dark complexion, and a sallow skin. There are often freckles and moles on the skin, and warts are also common. Thuja women are more sensitive than the men, and this is reflected in their faces, which tend to have more refined, delicate features. The face is more angular than rounded, and for some reason the Thuja women I have treated had a light sprinkling of freckles on their faces, whereas the men did not. The men had 'average' physiques, whereas the women all had very light builds, which reflected their quick lively minds.