trauma therapy (‘trauma as a threshold experience’)

Anthroposophic art therapy to help with trauma? Yes, indeed. This art therapy conference (pdf) in January focused ‘on the will aspect in trauma work’.

Lectures and panel discussions will enhance our understanding of the traumatized person’s particular “threshold situation” from a spiritual scientific point of view. How can therapists and physicians consciously help in this situation?

According to Michaela Glöckler, anthroposophic MD, the trauma work ‘depends on the science of initiation’. She was supposed to lecture about ‘trauma as a threshold experience’.

There were several seminars to attend. Among them, one about singing therapy, where ‘[p]erception and exercises on the “inner foundations”’ serve ‘as diagnostic and therapeutic tools.’ Another one focuses on ‘anthroposophic inner development’ as a means to improve the work with ‘soul injury’ — art therapy supposedly builds bridges over ‘[t]ime phenomena that evoke abyss and threshold experiences.’

These are some samples of group work sessions; they include the twelve sense, the four temperaments and the seven life processes:

Perceiving the perceived. Diagnostic picture observation in art therapy: How do we perceive the four levels of observation and the four members of the human organization? How do we recognize the influence of the twelve senses at the four levels of observation? Approaches in the work with traumatized patients.

The four elements. Nature reveals its soul in the four elements; these elementary forces are reflected in the human soul where they “temper” our temperament. By engaging through painting with these outer natural processes we create our own inner world and can then actively return to the world around us. Using particular colour sequences we experience fiery passion, oppressive heaviness, airy lightness and restful movement whilst learning to balance this one-sidedness according to our own temperament. This approach allows traumatized patients to experience, stimulate and strengthen their own will.

Research Group on the seven Life Processes. Awareness of process is vital in therapeutic work with traumatized individuals. Steiner’s contribution in the capitals of the Goetheanum and his presentations of the life processes provide the substance of this understanding. We have so far researched the processes of breathing, warming, and nourishing. This year we will work on secretion; sorting out… discriminating, discerning, decision making, related to the workings of Mars and Sun. Research questions are: How do I engage in this process? How does the client engage in this process? […] Clay modelling.

I particularly like how ‘the workings of Mars and Sun’ are illustrated (or? made relevant, somehow?) through clay modelling. In the general program we find this intriguing lecture:

Remembering the Dead. The light-soul process and the development of our will

There are also lectures about anthroposophic class work and class membership (and the significance thereof) and about finding meaning in traumatic events. And, as already mentioned:

Trauma as a threshold experience

medical conferences (2011)

The medical section at the Goetheanum hosts a conference in August/September. On the program, among other topics:

The Expression of the Zodiac and the Planets in the Forms of the Plant Kingdom

Cosmological knowledge of the Human Being and the Concepts of Macrocosm and Microcosm in Anthroposophic Medicine

Very medical and scientific, no doubt. See pdf-flyer. There’s also another conference later in September, but the program isn’t available yet.

In addition, the medical section advertises a conference in May, hosted by Department of Biodynamic Agriculture at Kassel University (a previous post), on the benefits of raw milk (and the risks, though anthroposophists believe more in the benefits… and, as you’ll notice, try to find scientific support for this belief).

There are several local conferences too, among those one in Sweden in June. On the program [pdf]:

Praktische Übungen zur Verbesserung der Wahrnehmungsfähigkeit von Pflanzen und Substanzen

Das metabolische Syndrom und die Entwicklung der Bewusstseinsseele

Substanzen in ihrem Verhältnis zu den Wesensgliedern

Off topic, but did you have any idea that all these eye conditions can be treated with curative eurythmy? This is from the description [pdf] of a therapeutic eurythmy course in January:

mit Grundelementen der Toneurythmie wird gearbeitet an Periphere Netzhautdegeneration, Ablatio, Katarakt, Presbiopie, Glaukom, Augenentzündungen, Trockenheit der Augen, Retinopathia pigmentosa, Maculopathie, Diabetische Netzhauterkrankungen. Es wird auch toneurythmisch an diesen Themen gearbeitet.

fever (reading wala’s october newsletter)

Illness is good. Thus, vaccination is bad, to name just one example. We suffer fever for reasons. Among other people, one anthroposophic doctor in Sweden, Jackie Swartz, promoted abstention from vaccines since diseases like measles assist children in their development. This is not an unusual viewpoint among followers of anthroposophy. The recent newsletter (October 2010, pdf) from Wala (Dr Hauschka) intends to inform parents about fever in children, and what anthroposophical options that are available to treat it. The common antipyretic medication should not be applied, unless as a last resort. Fever, according to the anthroposophic midwife, can often benefit the child. She says:

Fever also helps a child to become more of an individual. Parents often report that their child’s development has taken a marked step forward after a bout of fever: he or she may have grown a few centimetres or changed their way of drawing or painting, with the figures now having hair or limbs. Suddenly the child is seeing the world with new eyes.

Instead of paracetamol, for example, she recommends a number of actions be taken (keep child warm, drink tea, et c), among them to

help the child get through the fever and support the natural immune response with potentised medicines.

It’s just that potentized medicines don’t contain anything that will actually help the child or the immune system.

therapy with a long-term perspective

‘Anthroposophic counselling and psychotherapy (therapy) arises out of the immediate needs of the Age of the Consciousness Soul: an age which began in 1413 and will last until approximately 3500. [. . .] Anthroposophic therapy has arisen as a response to deteriorating social and psychological conditions in the world as a result of materialism, consumerism, and excessive rationalism. It also addresses the ‘threshold’ stresses caused to human psychology by the growing potential for spiritual awakening. It recognizes that [. . .]  humanity is getting worse in spite of 100 years of therapy. It is anticipated that the importance and relevance of anthroposophic medicine and therapy will systematically increase as we enter the heart of the Age of the Consciousness Soul over the coming 1000 years.’

Read more on the website of ACPWA, The Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists Working out of Anthroposophy, an organization that is, according to the website again, ‘recognized by the Medical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum’.

Looks promising. The dangers of materialism (materialism encompasses practically everything percieved as negative by anthroposophists — they think the entire society is materialistic, and practically everyone who doesn’t share the very specific spiritual beliefs of anthroposophy is a materialist, no matter what religious or spiritual creed he or she subscribes too), the culture of consumerism (of the wrong goods, mind you), and ‘excessive’ rationalism (overall, rational thinking tends to undermine quite a number of anthroposophic beliefs, thus avoiding it is, to some people, an anthroposophic virtue). The predictions for the future are less grounded in reality than in foundational anthropsophic beliefs; this goes, as well, for the ‘fact’ of the Counsciousness Soul Age and its needs. It’s a concept which makes little sense outside anthroposophy, not surprisingly.

spritual risk and benefit analyses

a while ago, Die Welt reported that a girl, who would soon celebrate her 13th birthday, had died from cancer. Her mother had opted out of conventional cancer therapies; instead choosing to rely on anthroposophical mistletoe therapy in combination with diet changes. The mother didn’t think conventional treatment, offering a 70% chance of survival, was good enough; she also believed that conventional treatments would have side effects and that the daughter would possibly become sterile from them. She also believes, apparently, that the cancer had been caused by her divorce from the girl’s father.

Die 70-prozentige Überlebenschance, die man ihr zunächst in Aussicht stellte, empfand die Mutter als nicht ausreichend für ihr Kind. Dazu mögliche Nebenwirkungen wie Unfruchtbarkeit: „Dabei wollte Susanne mal eine eigene Familie haben.“ Daraufhin stellte sie Susannes Ernährung um, begann mit der anthroposophischen „Misteltherapie“. Sie glaubte fest daran, dass die Krankheit ihrer Tochter durch die Trennung von ihrem Mann im Jahr zuvor ausgelöst worden sei – und dass ihr durch alternative Heilmethoden abseits der Schulmedizin beizukommen sei.

Worth noting is that the ‘wunderheiler’ was likely not a registered physician. He may not have had any conventional medical training at all (it seems plausible he didn’t). And although he apparently recommended anthroposophical remedies, such as mistletoe therapy (iscador), he can’t have been an anthroposophically trained doctor. As far as I know, they always have conventional medical training. In contrast, this guy was just a quack, nothing more. I have yet to come across an anthroposophical physician who would recommend giving up conventional treatment of a child’s cancer and replacing it entirely with alternative ‘healing’ methods, such as mistletoe and diet. I do know of anthroposophical doctors who are in favour of abstaining from childhood vaccinations, though. To benefit spiritual maturity, among other reasons.

The question is, what can be said about parental responsibility for health, well-being and even survival of children? A parent, who honestly believes that immunizations cause greater spiritual evils (or the risk thereof) than the physical good these immunizations confer, as far as physical health is concerned, will perhaps decide not to have the child vaccinated. As long as his or her own child, or any other child in the vicinity, is not harmed by this decision, there can hardly be any formal responsibility.

One could, however, still debate the ethical implications of this decision — because making it inevitably means that the parent, knowing the risks of disease and even long-term damage or death, voluntarily consents to these risks on behalf of a child, who is too young to make his or her own decisions . But as long as there’s no actual harm, the most severe accusation would be that the parent is knowingly endangering his or her own child and other children.

Does it matter how high the risk is? How severe the potential damage is? The parent who opted out of cancer treatment effectively condemned the child to death — the risks of not receiving proper treatment were very high and the final result quite alarming. A parent who chooses to avoid vaccines also takes a risk, but a comparatively minor one. Would the morality of such a choice depend on the kind of vaccine, or the kind of disease, we are considering? Is there a difference between, e g, polio and measles? Smallpox (luckily eradicated by vaccines, thus no longer part of the vaccination programs) and chickenpox?

I’m saying the endangerment is willful, because parents who refuse to vaccinate, for example, usually know — and accept — the risk of disease and (at least) a mild form of harm. But their intent isn’t evil; in fact, they’re committing an act which could (and sometimes does) lead to what would objectively be considered an evil consequence, but they do it to achieve something good (a good whose foundation in reality is most often untenable, from an objective or scientific viewpoint). The important thing to remember, however, is that the parent acting under such beliefs — e g, that the child would suffer spiritual harm, perhaps extending into a subsequent incarnation! — would find the vaccination an unacceptable risk to take. This parent could not, in good conscience, subject his or her child to this procedure, even if objective knowledge indicates there are short term gains (but long time negative effects as far as the reincarnating spirit is concerned…).

Unlike the person acting under mental delusion, the believer knows fairly well the consequences of these actions — there are no mistakes and no pathological lapses in the perception of reality. If there’s a delusion, it’s shared by a whole community. Of course, the spiritual-medical beliefs held by members of these communities differ from the beliefs more generally held in society. The anthroposophic community in Järna, Sweden, saw a polio epidemic — the last one in Sweden — in 1977. Among waldorf families — and naturally in anthroposophic communities — refraining from vaccination is socially accepted. There’s a culture of shared beliefs which allows this particular risk-taking. In fact, some waldorf parents go to great length to ensure their children enjoy the supposed advantages of disease, for example by arranging ‘measles parties’ or get-togethers where sick children may infect still healthy children.

One would ask, of course, who in their right mind would subject their children to unnecessary risk or possibly lethal diseases and painful treatments? Well, clearly, if you believe immunizations to be a means of Ahriman to take hold of children’s souls or if you believe the word of god prohibits blood transfusions by penalty of eternal damnation, then the cost incurred by your actions may seem minor in comparison. It may even be understandable — even if one can’t condone it — that people believe suffering through disease has certain material or spiritual merits, e g, maturity, and that they’re prepared to value these merits highly. Even if they aren’t realistic about it, they may think the gains outweigh the risks.

Parents, no doubt, have to make decision all the time. Sometimes they end up making wise decision, sometimes unwise. Sometimes the consequences are dire.

But if we assume, for the sake of the argument if nothing else, that parents have duty — if not a legal duty, then at least a moral one — to make choices with the child’s interest as the paramount concern, then is there a moral difference between choosing to, e g, avoid vaccination because one believes in some vague idea about living ‘naturally’ and of choosing to abstain because of a conviction that vaccines carry ahrimanic forces destructive to the child’s spirit?

misteltoe as cancer remedy

in anthroposophic medicine, mistletoe is used not as christmas decoration but to heal, treat or alleviate the symptoms of cancer (and thus supposedly assist in a conventional cancer treatment scheme). The Quackometer blog has a new post on mistletoe treatment in the UK, apparently supported by the NHS (that is, through the social welfare system). In Sweden, I am unsure whether these mistletoe therapies are subsidised by state authorities. The anthroposophic hospital, Vidarkliniken, is supported, however.

According to Rudolf Steiner, cancer tumors appear

primarily from the actual enmity of certain processes within the physical body, against the action of the etheric body; these processes rebel as it were, so that the etheric body ceases to act in certain regions of the physical body.

By helping natural forces or processes, the tumor can be “overcome” through the “very great powers of regeneration” of the etheric body once the

counteracting physical processes which oppose the etheric body [has been removed], so that the etheric body may once more extend its working to the region where it had temporarily receded.

Continue reading “misteltoe as cancer remedy”

secrets not well kept and a few medical miracles

the Steiner Storehouse writes

Rudolf Steiner has been referred to as “one of the best-kept secrets of the 20th century” — but this is not a good thing.

I guess somebody who held about half a billion lectures can’t really be said to be a secret. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing would depend on what you fancy…

Steiner Storehouse sells this amazing product: Lightroot Comp.

The unusual properties of Dioscorea batatas, a wild yam, are confirmed by ancient wisdom, modern research and spiritual science.

The spiritual scientist Rudolf Steiner reveals what is probably the main reason for its effectiveness, i.e. that it has the unique property of storing the so called light ether. R. Steiner called this light ether an indispensable necessity for modern people. This quality helps our understanding of its overall tonifying effect on bodily functions, but also clarifies the beneficial role in strengthening the memory and helping the meditative work.

Continue reading “secrets not well kept and a few medical miracles”