trauma, anthroposophically

We have discussed the anthroposophical trauma interventions earlier on this blog. I wish I had found this document long ago, but, as it happens, I didn’t. It’s the Anthroposophy Worldwide January edition, 2011. On page 3, after a list of very real trauma situations and serious symptoms:

Expressed simply, the members of the human being are loosened. When trauma is viewed anthroposophically, this persistent condition can be compared with an initiation experience, a meeting with the threshold in combination with an existential ego experience — it is just that the experience comes without preparation or consciousness.


The issue of spiritual-scientific approaches to dealing with trauma also resurfaced in the conversation about the work of the School for Spiritual Science. Here it became clear that those who pursue the anthroposophical path of schooling as therapists will have a basis for understanding the phenomenon of trauma as a threshold experience, and those who were victims will be able handle it without becoming ill.

Then there are questions that lead beyond destiny—e.g., to a relationship with the world of the dead if the abuser is no longer alive as is often the case. Something is always lost through a traumatic experience, and that brings pain. This pain itself draws attention to the need to move forward if life is to continue.

The question of why this experience gets stuck in a person also requires an answer based on knowledge of the human being.

I don’t so much object to the notion that someone sees or explains his or her own trauma this way; I think it might even be, in some cases, a meaningful pursuit. What I do take issue with, however, is that this is an approach in therapy — that supposed professionals manage their treatment of trauma victims according to these beliefs.

And, sure, superficially it does sound ok to see it as a threshold experience. To some extent, perhaps there are similarities, mostly in subjective experience though. One question is about the content of the anthroposophical threshold experience. And of how we know someone has had it, and thus possesses the ‘understanding’, and is fit to handle trauma patients — if indeed it can be said to lead to greater understanding of trauma in the first place. There’s no way to tell what this supposed threshold experiences looks like for individual anthroposophical therapists and no way of knowing how it shapes their understanding. There’s no scientific research, just spiritual speculation.


4 thoughts on “trauma, anthroposophically

  1. Even people who believe all the anthroposophical doctrines in this regard should be scared of and appalled by such therapy and should refuse to condone it. What I mean is, *even if* they were 100% right about “members” of the human loosening etc., the likelihood that an anthroposophical therapist can look at YOU and diagnose YOU correctly in this, let alone remedy it, seems about 0%. Most such people are fakes.

    It doesn’t matter whether the “anthroposophical science” behind it is right or wrong – the therapy itself is a con. Your etheric whatever may indeed by separated from your astral whatsamacallit, for all I know; all I know is you will certainly be separated from your money.

  2. That’s extraordinarily well put. The risks of abusive outcomes — both psychologically and economically speaking — must be huge.

    There’s no way to control the quality of this kind of therapy. And no vouching for the professionalism of the therapists — because how could there be?

    It’s even more scary if the therapists, like waldorf teachers with education, have little familiarity with mainstream (and hopefully science-based, I’m not talking reiki healing) theories and methods.

  3. Exactly, it’s accountability = zero, and that’s just completely unacceptable and unprofessional in any treatment context. “First do no harm” is the foundational principle of any medical or therapeutic system, and it is – theoretically, practically, and in every way – impossible to follow this principle in such a system. Even if the practitioners are well intentioned, they can’t help doing harm, because the therapy has no justification. Where children are involved, it verges on criminal, just by existing. It simply should not exist as a therapy.

  4. I would also question their ability to know when they need to refer a patient to psychiatric care. It would require both knowledge and some common sense. If they miss, the consequences could be dire for the patient.

    As far as I know, unlike anthro MDs who have regular training as a foundation, these therapists often have only the anthro training.

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