R.D. Laing's Dream:
Dissolving Emotional Knots
One of the most magical healing systems I've encountered is the use of homeopathically-prepared flower essences. They slowly, subtly and permanently erase the somatic and energetic traces of past emotional trauma.
This gives us an important tool we can use to address the dysfunctional mindsets that take root in repressed feelings. Either alone or in combination with therapy they address the painful chains of self-reinforcing events set in motion by constant recycling of those old feelings.
When used correctly, flower essences can speed and consolidate the healing found through conventional therapeutic processes. Talk therapy, EMDR and a wide range of process and cognitive therapeutic approaches are all enhanced by gentle, gradual flower essence therapy.
What Are They?
Flower essences are very light sun teas made by cooking flower petals in sunlight, usually in an enclosed glass container, preferably next to the plant from which they've been harvested. The essences made in this way are preserved with a few drops of brandy; they dissolve in water, they're very gentle and safe to use.
Homeopathic Flower Essences
with Essential Oils
It's important to take a moment to look at the difference between flower essences and essential oils. The two are sometimes confused. Essential oils are made by a process of distilling, that is, turning the oils in plants into vapor by steaming them, collecting the vapor, turning it back into liquid and then separating out the highly concentrated oils from the condensed water (oil and water don't mix, so this isn't too difficult.) Essential oils are very strong, can be highly toxic and dangerous when used incorrectly.
Flower Essences. Essential Oils. Two very different critters, although easily confused because their names are similar and they're both used to work with emotional issues and stress.
Flower essences are one of the easiest, simplest and direct ways of changing our emotional outlook. Flower Essences erode dysfunctional mindsets. They help us get over our stuff and learn new ways of making choices, so subtly sometimes that it can be hard to notice. To the degree that we create the world around us by the choices we make, Flower Essences help us remake our world.
When we create a more harmonious world around us by dissolving and outgrowing our dysfunctional behaviors we end up better nourished and supported by that world. This can be profoundly healing. At a minimum it's less stressful.
But at first it can be a bumpy ride. Undoing the dysfunctional habits of a lifetime can be a bit jarring at first. Read on.
of Homeopathic Flower Essence Use
Flower essences were developed as a healing tool by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930's.
Dr. Edward Bach was a British doctor with a London practice that involved working in various London hospitals during the 1910s and 20s. He noticed that most of his seriously ill patients also had serious emotional problems, but that on those occasions when the inner conflicts resolved the physical disease would sometimes heal as well. In 1929 he began looking for a way to address those emotional issues directly, on demand.
Eventually he emerged with emotional portraits for 38 different flowers. Prescribing in the homeopathic tradition, he would cure medical diseases by giving his patients extremely dilute homeopathic preparations of his sun teas.
In one sense flowers are the high point of a plant's development. They are the most colorful part of the plant; they don't last very long; they're involved in reproduction. Intuition and naturopathic tradition led Bach to surmise that taking flower energies into human bodies might help the humans flower and realize their full potential.
How To Use
Homeopathic Flower Essences
Bach flowers are the only homeopathics I prescribe on a regular basis. When used correctly they tend to be very gentle.
One places a few drops of the flower essence into one's drinking water or favorite bottle of juice. Because homeopathics become more powerful the more dilute they are, their effect is not greater when you take a larger dose. The frequency with which you come into contact with their energy, however, does have an impact--the more often, the better. That's why it's better to sip them all day long.
Bach flowers can be easily self-prescribed. Simply get one of the books listed below and review the emotional descriptions of each flower. There are flowers for fears of different types, over-critical behavior and for people who are space cadets. The more closely the emotion described matches the one you have, the more powerfully the flower will work for you. Most people, upon reviewing the flowers' descriptions, have little difficulty determining the ones they need. If you are in doubt, ask a friend or loved one to give you their opinion. Be sure you're ready to hear the answer and make that clear.
Individual Bach flowers appear to have no effect whatsoever on people who don't need them. One of the advantages of the homeopathic custom of using extremely dilute medicines to trigger the body's own healing response is that they seem to leave undisturbed people whose disordered energy patterns don't resonate with them.
Curiously, I've noticed a sea change in people's reaction to the Bach flowers in the last twenty years. In the past, when patients who'd been given the flowers returned for a followup visit they'd often report that they'd noticed no change.** Then I'd ask them detailed questions about the emotional symptoms they'd complained of before I'd given them flowers. Each and every time, asked if they still had the specific feelings they'd complained of when first coming to me, they'd say, "No . . . now that you mention it, I don't feel that way any more. Isn't that funny." Things had often changed profoundly, just so gently that they hadn't noticed any differences until I pointed them out. When we wake up in the morning feeling good, we want to forget that we ever felt any other way.
These days that doesn't happen so much. People seem to notice the changes the Bach Flowers bring right away. And they notice something else as well--increased synchronicity. This is the experience of meaningful coincidence--life bringing you an odd experience, such as running into somebody that you were just talking about. The hallmark of synchronicity is that its emotional meaning makes the coincidence feel like more than just a random occurrence. Over and over again people taking Bach Flowers report that the funniest things start happening to them. These are usually (but not necessarily) pleasant coincidences that end up bringing them opportunities, new insights or contacts that address the emotional reasons they were taking the flowers in the first place.
The Bach Center people suggest taking no more than three flowers at a time. I can understand this way of thinking, because the flowers work very quickly and very powerfully. Society functions in part by teaching us to suppress awkward feelings. If one has family responsibilities or has to show up every day on time ready to work, it's probably best to avoid dissolving one's customary armor too abruptly. It can take time to gracefully integrate the changes Bach Flowers create, and the changing world that follows. Who among us doesn't indulge in some self-deception? Bach Flowers dissolve our denials; they help us lose our excuses. One do this at one's own pace.
Most of us don't wake up and jump right out of bed in the morning--it's too much of a shock. Waking up too quickly from a lifetime of dysfunctional mental habits can be even more of a shock. We have to keep the bills paid and everyone fed while we do it. Finding ways of handling our responsibilities that allow us the time and energy to explore our full potential as humans takes some doing.
Should, on the other hand, one already have few responsibilities and attachments, the picture can be different. In times of crisis, when there's little to lose, some have told of taking thirty or more flower essences at a time. They invariably report a rough ride, something like going over a waterfall and surviving (at least the ones who come back to tell the tale.) Like whitewater rafting, making the most of such an experience requires a delicate balancing act between mental and emotional discipline and flexibility. It's a lot like jazz improvisation. Jazz players take their musical mistakes and turn them into launching pads for flights of creativity. It's like scrambling down a slope of loose pebbles a little too quickly. Sometimes this is a good idea. Sometimes it's not.
In their more standard dosages of 3-6 flower essences at a time, Bach Flowers are an excellent support for anyone's process of personal confrontation and growth. Used as an adjunct to therapy they can help speed the integration of insight into practice. One can't substitute for the other: erasing dysfunctional mindsets does little to help us discover and accept new ways of going about things. Good therapists can do that.
Still, the Bach Flowers are amazing, powerful, gentle, and magical. They're cheap, easy to use, and they work. They're almost too good to be true. The fact that they exist at all makes the world a much cheerier place for me. Let them do that for you.
Just please don't confuse the Bach and other flower essences with essential oils. Taking essential oils internally without professional guidance could be fatal.. Personally I think I'd want to be working with a physician trained in France if I was going that route myself.
Ed Bach discovered 38 Flower Essences and their uses, interpreted below. Since Bach others have gone on to investigate hundreds of other flowers and their uses. But Bach's 38 flowers are still a good place to start.
To use your flower essences, take a few drops and put them in a 1 or 2 liter bottle full of liquid. Water, juice or anything else (without a strong aroma) will do. Shake the bottle vigorously by tapping it against the heel of your hand, a countertop or tabletop. One doesn't have to use a lot of force to do this . . . moderately light tapping/shaking will do the job. But simply shaking the bottle won't ... it needs the shock of the gentle strike against something firm. Do this tapping 100 times. Then sip from the bottle all day long. With Bach Flowers, it's not how much you drink, it's how often you come into contact with the energy of the plant.
The 38 remedies are grouped under seven headings. Find the ones that seem to describe your situation most clearly and try them. You can use up to 6 at a time.
- Fear:Rock Rose, Mimulus, Cherry Plum, Aspen, Red Chestnut
- Insecurity, Indecisiveness: Cerato, Scleranthus, Gentian, Gorse, Hornbeam, Wild Oat
- Attention and Focus problems: Clematis, Honeysuckle, Wild Rose, Olive, White Chestnut, Mustard, Chestnut Bud
- Isolation: Water Violet, Impatiens, Heather
- Hypersensitive, Too Easily Influenced: Agrimony, Centaury, Cerato, Walnut, Holly
- Depression, Exhaustion, Giving Up:Larch, Pine, Elm, Sweet Chestnut, Star of Bethlehem, Willow, Oak, Crab Apple
- Controlling Behavior, Hostility: Chicory, Vervain, Vine, Beech, Rock Water
This flower is for people who are wound up inside and anxious but keep smiling through it all. Most of the time their friends and associates have no idea of the inner turmoil Agrimony suffers, they're so good at hiding it. Agrimony is the type who goes along to get along. This flower helps Agrimony relax and start sharing their real feelings. From Dr. Amen's descriptions this action would seem to be having its effect on the dorsal-lateral (beneath the upper outer corner of the forehead) prefrontal cortex.
This flower is for generalized anxiety; specifically a fear of unknown things. In Dr. Amen's terms this would correspond to overactive basal ganglia. Even though Aspen-types are full of apprehension, fear and dread, they can't identify anything specific that's the source of their feeling. They'll jump when doors slam; they might have difficulty leaving the house.
Beech people are finger-pointers. They see the faults of others in excruciating detail, and sometimes even their own. Beech tends to be perfectionist; if highly evolved they may not express their judgmental thoughts out loud, but they're still often seething with irritation deep within. This flower helps these people develop some empathy for the merely mortal among us, finding reasons to like us even when we're silly, slow and stupid.
Centaury people are doormats. They have a hard time standing up for themselves, and so tend to be dominated by others. Centaury types like to avoid conflict and hate saying "no", so they're often being taken advantage of by more narcissistic self-centered people. Centaury people may overwork themselves into exhaustion trying to keep up with all the obligations they take on. This flower helps these gentle people to set better boundaries for themselves so they can gain the respect they deserve.
Cerato types can't make up their minds. They don't trust their own judgment, and so are constantly asking for advice from those around them. This gets them into trouble because their trust in others is not always well-placed. Scleranthus is also indecisive, but Scleranthus likes to keep their uncertainty to themselves whereas Cerato doesn't try to hide their lack of clarity at all. Larch can also be indecisive, but Cerato is different because while Larch will miss opportunities through delay, procrastination and discouragement, once Cerato does decide they often rise to the challenge and succeed at what they attempt.
This flower is for people who've reached the end of their rope and are afraid they may act out in rage, fear, despair or violence. Often by the time someone's reached this point they've been stressed or exhausted for a long time; they may actually be close to having a nervous breakdown. Cherry Plum is also good whenever there are sudden mood shifts or emotional outbursts.
Chestnut Bud is for people who keep making the same mistakes over and over again. This type has trouble connecting the dots between their choices and the results those choices bring. Oftentimes Chestnut Bud blames everyone but themselves for what happens to them. This flower helps relax the cognitive inflexibility that keeps these people from examing their assumptions and seeing options they may not have perceived before.
Chicory types are very loving and kind . . . too loving most of the time. They tend to be very possessive and controlling of those they love. This is the classic overly-concerned matron type; always fussing, organizing, telling their family and friends what to do. This can be offputting, so Chicory can be easily hurt by rejection, feeling that no one loves or appreciates them. Chicory can also be the whining, clinging child who demands constant attention. This flower helps these over-controlling types to let go and love without demanding anything in return.
Clematis is classic Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). They have trouble staying in the present. They're easily bored and it can be difficult to sustain their attention in a conversation or classroom situation. Often perceived as dreamy and oblivious to their surroundings, they actually have a rich inner life and are often creative, artistic people. Clematis helps bring these people back into their surroundings so they can reconnect with the people and life around them. Impatiens is the flower for ADHD.
This is the flower for obsessive compulsive behavior. Classic Crab Apple is always cleaning or worrying about something. There is often a feeling of being dirty, and Crab Apple's self-image is often (but not necessarily) poor. Crab Apple will keep a spotless house with everything just so; furniture may be covered in plastic. This is the type that becomes fixated on avoiding infection at all costs; sometimes they feel contaminated with poisons or parasites within, and become obsessed about detoxifying and cleaning their bodies and digestive tracts. Sexuality can be a problem; many Crab Apple folk have a hard time accepting and celebrating their sexuality or other natural body functions as they feel too "dirty."
This is the flower for those who have taken on more responsibility than they can handle. Elm is usually a very capable person, but they have times when they're just overwhelmed by the enormity of what they attempt. Elm sometimes burns out and feels personally inadequate; one sometimes encounters them in a state of nervous panic. Elm essence calms overcommitted minds so that the person can think rationally, see things in perspective, and return to the tasks they've taken on with a more productive, one-step-at-a-time approach.
When we've given something our best and things don't turn out the way we expected, it's easy to get discouraged and give up. Gentian is the flower for disappointment and discouragement after a setback such as losing a job, a relationship, or failing a test of some sort. Winners and losers both experience setbacks and failure; the difference is that the winners learn from their mistakes and keep trying while the losers give up. Gentian helps us remember this when we're struggling with a personal challenge. It creates an optimistic feeling that it's possible to keep trying until we get things right and finally succeed. See also Chestnut Bud
Gorse gives up. In psychological terms Gorse is the remedy for learned helplessness. Some of us are taught at a very early age that when we're frustrated nothing we do will change the situation. It can take lifetimes to really unlearn this lesson. In one sense we can think about Gorse as the remedy for Gentian types if they don't get help in time and surrender all hope. When Gorse is sick, broke or loveless, they think it'll last forever. Gorse essence dispels the dark clouds and helps us realize that the whole point of life is the way our spirit and character grows when we accept our personal challenges, carry on and refuse to surrender to self-doubt.
Heather is the narcissist who buttonholes you and then doesn't let you get a word in edgewise for the next fifteen minutes. Most of their conversation will be about themselves, their concerns and worries, their friends and family. If you try to steer the conversation onto something more interesting, Heather promptly changes the subject back to themselves. When Heather gets ill all they want to talk about is their disease. Heather isn't comfortable with solitude; they need the energy and vitality of others. Often they leave those others drained and disgusted. Heather remedy helps these folks forget a little bit about themselves and start taking an interest in others and the larger issues of life.
Holly is for bigots, punks, me-first and you-last types - the ones who hate. It's the classic remedy for cognitive inflexibility that leads to the kind of smoldering resentment that harbors grudges until they're finally acted out. Road rage, family cutoffs, acrimonious divorces with drama-filled scenes: this is Holly's world. Willow types hold on to their grudges but usually don't act on them whereas Holly does, sometimes very loudly and self-destructively.
Honeysuckle gets lost in the past. Honeysuckle's days are filled with memories of childhood, of bygone times and people, reminiscing about the good old days and wishing things had turned out differently. "If only" are Honeysuckle's two favorite words. While Clematis disappears into distraction and daydreams of things to come, Honeysuckle is firmly stuck in things that are over. This essence is useful for traumatic stress disorders resulting in disturbing dreams or inappropriate defensive reactions to people, animals, situations. It helps people savor the good memories they have without becoming dominated by them, putting the past in perspective and moving forward in life.
This is the Monday morning remedy. Hornbeam is for those who have a hard time getting started because it's just too much to contemplate. Work and activities that might bring pleasure become unpleasant chores instead. Olive is the remedy for the real physical fatigue caused by overwork; Hornbeam is for those whose thoughts about the work exhaust them to the point where they have to go to enormous lengths to overcome procrastination. But once they actually get started Hornbeam usually does just fine.
While Clematis is the essence for ADD, Impatiens is for ADHD. Clematis is easily distractable and lost in their private dreamworld; Impatiens is very much in the here and now . . . they're just in too much of a hurry. Impatiens can't wait for anything. They talk and move quickly and abruptly. They'll finish your sentences for you (often getting things wrong), they'll muscle in on what you're doing and try to finish it for you. There's a lot of self-stimulating behavior: finger or foot tapping, checking watches or cellphones. One can see them thinking about the next thing they want to do even while they're still trying to pay attention to you. This essence helps calm restlessness and tension so that people can take life at its own sometimes leisurely pace. This syndrome would correspond to the overactive basal ganglia Dr. Amen associates with restlessness, ADD and ADHD.
Larch people give up and stop trying. They lose self-confidence. This is also called learned helplessness (see also Gorse.) They're often competent people, but something has robbed them of their ability to trust themselves and so they become wallflowers, watching life take place around them. Opportunity rarely knocks twice, and Larch usually misses the cue. Larch essence helps these people believe in themselves again. It helps them get moving, taking the right risks and gets them back into the stream of life.
Mimulus is for fear with a known cause, for specific phobias. It can used by anyone whose fear is getting the best of them but its most interesting effect is on timid people. The self-conscious bloom when taking Mimulus; it's one of the most vivid expressions of what taking the homeopathically potentized energy of flowers into one's body on a regular basis can do.. People who stammer, get embarassed and red-faced in front of a group; people who avoid taking their place in society because of a fear of others' judgment . . . Mimulus essence helps these retiring types stand up and take their place in the social world.
Aspen is the flower for fear of unknown origin.
Mustard might have it all. But it doesn't matter. Mustard gets into funks. The dark clouds descend when they will and all Mustard can do is wonder why. Mustard depression doesn't have a specific reason. The mood can last for hours or months and then lift again for no less obvious a reason. But even when they're feeling good Mustard wonders how long it can last because the black moods return over and over again unpredictably. Mustard essence helps these folk break through their personal blackness, letting the light back into their lives.
Oak soldiers on and never quits. Oak never stops when life, the body or the mind starts sending signals that it's time for a rest. Oak doesn't even think about it; when something needs doing, Oak just does it. Nothing gets in Oak's way. And Oak is one of the most dependable types; they'll always show up on time on moving day, usually with a truck. Obviously it's easy for Oak to push themselves too hard and overdo; they don't notice the stop signs. Eventually they collapse, and then they're often annoyed at their own weakness. Oak essence helps this type make it ok with themselves to take a break, rejuvenate and relax themselves. Sometimes they even find out there's more to life than getting things done.
Olive is for exhaustion: mental, emotional and physical. Olive is so weak they can't go on. Drained of all strength, Olive finds even the lightest exertions overwhelming; making any attempt is out of the question. That's the extreme. On a more everyday note, Olive can be good for those who have to push on in spite of their exhaustion like truckers, college students and graveyard shifters. Olive is indicated after trauma like major accidents or surgery. Olive can give a second wind to mind, heart and body. Olive usually finds this an eye-opening experience.
It's always Pine's fault, at least as far as Pine is concerned. Pine beats themselves up endless for everything that's ever gone wrong in their lives. Pine blames themselves for the mistakes others make. It's does little good to point out to them that they're really blameless; Pine will look at you with a mix of deep empathy and utter incomprehension and then just carry right on with their self-pitying guilt. This essence helps break the cycle of self-flagellation that keeps Pine locked in cycles of failure. In Dr. Amen's work this would correspond to an overheated basal ganglia / underactive inferolateral prefrontal cortex: self-stimulating worry keeping the ADD mind from getting bored.
If we're human, we all worry a bit about our loved ones. Red Chestnut can take this to suffocating extremes. Red Chestnut fusses, wants to be called three times a day, and wants to know where you've been and who you've seen and what you did and was it safe? Red Chestnut is overprotective. Amen would classify this as overheated basal ganglia (anxiety) and limbic system (negativity, creating worries out of nothing.) Red Chestnut helps bring some perspective so that these people can let go gracefully and do their care-giving appropriately, leaving plenty of room to be missed. Sometimes a little too little is much better than a little too much.
The Rock Rose type is Mimulus gone over-the-edge. This is the essence that protects from terror. There may be a good reason for Rock Rose's fear and panic, there may not be ... it can be hard to tell sometimes. But Rock Rose is truly terrified no matter the reality of what's scaring them. They may be shaking or sweating. Something in the present may be reminding them of some terrible thing that happened to them in the past; post-traumatic stress disorders are Rock Rose types. Amen would consider this extreme limbic and basal ganglia overheating. Rock Rose is good for nightmares, stage fright, etc. It works well with Mimulus, the essence for known fear.
Rock Water is the cognitively-inflexible, self-righteous person. Everything is black and white, reduced to its simplest us vs. them terms without nuance, subtlety or appreciation for differences. Rock Water is the perfectionist who doesn't stoop to criticizing others; instead they martyr themselves for their careers, families, cause ... trying to set an example for others to follow. They might take masochistic pleasure in their strict lifestyle. In Dr. Amen's terms this reflects an overheated or underactive cingulate gyrus. Rock Water can help these people loosen up and be more at ease with themselves, with life and with others.
Scleranthus can't decide. They quibble, they go back and forth, they take aeons to order in restaurants, they ask endless questions of exasperated salespeople. In their personal lives they can't make up their minds either, blowing hot and cold. This can be disruptive to their personal relationships; friends and loved ones often just find them too frustrating. One face of Scleranthus is classic bipolar disorder. They can go from hilarious belly laughs to genuine, full-blown tears in a few seconds. Scleranthus essence helps bring a calm clarity to these people's minds, helping them see their options better so their decision-making becomes more effective.
This essence is for shock, trauma and acute or chronic postraumatic stress disorder. It's an excellent flower for the newly-bereaved. Shock may be suppressed by some at the time, events years later can trigger feelings that have been deeply buried and start surfacing and being projected inappropriately. Star of Bethlehem can be good for those who act out inappropriately or even violently for no apparent motive, for those who've been sexually molested. People who have been traumatized may have trouble expressing their memories and feelings about the traumatizing events. Star of Bethlehem helps these folks put the past in the past. It redirects their attention to the here and now. It helps them shed their heavy emotional and psychological loads.
Sweet Chestnut has major depression with suicidal thoughts. These folks feel as if they've lost everything and there's no point in going on. They don't actually do much about it most of the time, however ... they think about it but they're so unmotivated they can't bring themselves to start the process. This would correspond to major glucocorticoid release, the result either of hippocampal degeneration or severe, unremitting stress ... the kind you'd get in situations where danger is always a threat. This essence lightens the mind and heart and allows an optimistic sense to return.
Vervains are true believers. Like Rock Water they have strong, black and white feelings about things. But Vervain is usually on the side of the little guy whereas Rock Water is usually all about themselves. Like Rock Water, Vervain can trend toward perfectionism. But here this endless drive to improve things tends to to channel itself into public causes. Many grassroots political organizers are Vervain types, always in motion, always going to meetings and returning phonecalls and e-mails. This activity gives them a healthy outlet for their strong feelings about society; without that outlet things can sometimes take a nasty turn. Now ... a lot of good comes to society from the work of social organizers, particularly the ones with a sense of mission. Vervain helps when this gets out of control. And if you've been there, fighting the good fight just a little too hard, you already know just what I mean. In Dr. Amen's terms: overheated basal ganglia, some limbic overheating, and cingulate gyrus under- or over-activity.
Vine is for dictators. They know what they want and they know how to get it. Vine is determined and takes life head-on. Vine has strong opinions like Vervain, but doesn't have the patience to explain like Vervain. Vine says, "this is the way it is. Period." Vine can be a terror to work for: if you don't stand up you lose your self-respect, if you do you lose your job. Dominating, demanding children are Vine types. They have difficulty working in teams unless they're in charge. Vine lends some empathy to this type, so that they can get what they want in a more co-operative, win-win fashion.
Walnut is usually resisting or in the midst of change. Walnut is the link-breaker. It's very good for sensitive people who work as therapists or healers because it will offer a degree of protection from the tendency of chi to move from the healed into the healer. Walnut is helpful during the transitions of life: birth and death, puberty, menopause, retirement, marriage or divorce. Children starting school or moving from grade to junior high or high school to college; people starting new jobs ... these are all people who could benefit from Walnut. It helps us navigate the rapids of life without taking a spill into the drink.
Water Violet feels superior, and often moves with a grave dignity. They generally don't involve themselves in the problems of others or ask others to help them. They prefer their own company or small, intimate groups to large social gatherings. Others find them unapproachable and may be starstuck when in their presence; this makes it hard for Water Violet to find good companionship. So they spend their time in quiet pursuits, keeping their distance and wishing it wasn't so. Water Violet essence helps dissolve their alienation, allowing them to become more approachable without losing their self-esteem.
White Chestnut has motor-mind. It's the remedy for constant unwanted thoughts. Annoying tunes that won't stop, nagging worries ... unbroken monkey-mind chatter can leave us drained and distracted. As a rule White Chestnut keeps their worries to themselves; these are not the Heather buttonholers who start talking and don't stop. In Dr. Amen's terms this is classic over-focused overactive cingulate gyrus, usually working together with an overheated basal ganglia.
Wild Oat has trouble getting a sense of direction in life. They can't commit. They're usually at a decision-point in their career or personal life and having trouble making up their minds. Sometimes this becomes a way of life in itself and there are Wild Oat folks who never figure out what they want to be when they grow up. They can drift from unsuccessful money-making schemes to unsatisfying attempts to realize a life-long dream; they might never get anything off the ground, but they'll try. A large part of the problem is often Wild Oat's follow-through. Wild Oat doesn't persevere enough to get through the inevitable setbacks and mistakes that happen when any career or business is in the early stages of being built. Personal relationships can drift with indecisiveness as well. Wild Oat doesn't have the day-to-day indecisiveness of Scleranthus; Wild Oat can deal with details just fine. It's the big questions that stump these people. This essence helps Wild Oat get clearer about just what they need and what they have to give so they can get on with the day-to-day work of building their lives.
Wild Rose may look a lot like Wild Oat upon first meeting. They're ... losers. But where Wild Oat will often be running from one thing to another, Wild Rose makes little attempt at all. Wild Rose folk make great couch potatoes. They're passive and greet their inevitable setbacks with resignation and apathy. Opportunities are invariably lost. They have little affect and may not appear all that sad or depressed, so deep is their resignation to their lot in life. They go with the flow and don't make waves; Wild Rose folk would make good followers if you could ever get them out of the house. This is the face of the learned helplessness that can characterize glucocorticoid oversecretion. Wild Rose essence can return the spark to these people, so that they can surf their lives with a sense of play instead of boredom.
Willow complains. And complains. Everything has worked against them; if it wasn't for bad luck ... that routine. Introspection has grown into a disease for Willow. Finger-pointing everywhere, Willow refuses to accept responsibility for their situation even in the sense of being the only one who can change things. Willow thinks that to accept responsibility is to accept blame and guilt, which of course confuses two very different senses of the word. English can be so cruel. So of course things keep going badly because Willow's ideas aren't growing; Willow bears grudges. Willow can't look on the sunny side, can't let things go. In Dr. Amen's terms this would be another form of cognitive inflexibility with associated cingulate gyrus overactivity. Willow essence helps these folks see their role in things and come to an understanding that change for the better starts within.