Anthroposophical Spiritual Science and Medical Therapy
Dornach, April 15, 1921
These studies will have to culminate in a description of the nature of the remedies we have arrived at and which we then need to bring into more common use. But it will not be possible to speak properly about what one must know and master with regard to these remedies if we have not fully prepared ourselves. This must be done first. Therefore today we will study a few of those things that can guide us into the whole web of man's being, which results from the cooperation between ego, astral body, etheric body, and physical body. I have already mentioned that, by means of a certain effect of arsenic, one can drive the astral body further into the organs than is otherwise the case in the human being. Of course, the astral body draws the ego in with it.
By driving the astral body further into the organs, we enhance the mineralizing process in the organs. And if we notice that the organs are indicating a proliferating etheric, are too active vitally, developing life forces that are too strong, then the introduction of arsenic would have a healing effect. One can even designate something that occurs inside the human being by means of an outer process that has a certain affinity with the human process. If you want to express this affinity of the astral body with the etheric body — and thereby with the physical — you may speak of “arsenizing.” A gentle “arsenizing” is continually taking place in the human being and is especially strong at the moment of waking. We must realize clearly that the human organism has within itself, as a system of forces, that which lies in the metals. This affinity between the human being and his earthly-cosmic environment is certainly present; certain processes that unfold outside and come to an end in the metals, for example, also occur in the human being. Hence, when we speak of “arsenizing” the human being, you must not think of the arsenic as directly active; rather the human being is itself active within in the way that arsenic is active outside.
Through this one attains insight into the way to assist such effects in the human being. When you study this “arsenizing” process — I might also say this “astralizing” process — in the human organism, you will notice that when it is too active it finds expression in a kind of warming in the region of the stomach, whereby digestion and assimilation become facilitated. When these become excessively facilitated, it can become a serious problem, because difficulties then arise as reactions to such processes that occur with too great a facility. All this is connected with a certain mineralizing process in the human being. This is a direction to pursue in our research. But such research must be done in the right way, taking all the other factors into consideration. The bodies of people who “astralize” too strongly, i.e., “arsenize” strongly in their organic physical processes, do not decompose so readily as those of people whose astral bodies are weakly connected with their organs. This is certainly something that ought to be observed. Indeed, one sees the extreme form of this tendency in bodies poisoned by arsenic; they tend to mummify and do not decompose easily.
question is: What can we do if this “arsenizing”
(or “astralizing”) process is too strong, that is
when the person mummifies himself while alive, so to speak?
One must have an eye for such things. If a person is
mummifying too intensely, how can we counter this process? If
I may express myself radically, I would say that then one
must make the whole human being partly into a tooth. This is
something that can give us many clues into the mysterious
working of the human organism. One must make the whole human
being into a tooth. In some way or other one must try to give
him the radiating force of magnesium, taking the whole
organism into account. He must be given some preparation of
magnesium, thus introducing into his whole organism the
radiating force of magnesium, which Professor Römer has
described. This is something that leads us deeply into the
relation between the astral body (which is also carrying the
ego) on the one hand and the etheric and physical bodies on
Let us now consider the opposite condition in the human being, in which the astral body and the ego have an inadequate tendency to permeate the organs. The organs, in so far as they are nurtured by the physical and etheric influences, begin to be left to themselves. The expression of this condition is that there is no proper connection between things that should work reciprocally, between the reciprocal nourishment of the human being by his environment and the inner organic processes. The inner organic processes begin to develop their vital forces too strongly. They receive no influence from outside; the permeation of the food-substance by the forces of the ego diminishes. The astral body, in consequence, has to be too active in one direction and cannot reach the etheric body properly. A proliferation of physical and etheric activity occurs, expressing itself in diarrhea, which is essentially connected with such phenomena. Blood is found in the stool, and the inner vital activity becomes so strong that small, organic tissues peel off from the intestinal walls. These are also found in the stool, which takes on the appearance of a fluid resembling beef bouillon. Finally protein is drawn into the process and excreted without being worked through in the proper way. Such phenomena clearly indicate that the vital force is proliferating, unhindered by the “astralizing” force.
The astral body and the ego must work into the physical and etheric human being if these half-conscious movements of the digestive tract, that are necessary for the organism, are to occur. Now imagine that the astral body and the ego are not inserted in the right way and that the etheric body and the physical body remain active by themselves. There then arises a nervous need to relieve the bowels, which is characteristic of such conditions. The farther you follow this matter, the farther you are from ordinary diarrhea and the nearer to dysentery. The farther you proceed with the description of this clinical picture, the more you find yourself describing in all these phenomena the opposite of “arsenization,” or “astralization.” And as the astral body is strongly implicated in all this, you will be led, by the matter itself, to the conclusion that the antidote to be used is in everything that comes from arsenic, i.e., that one must oppose these conditions by “arsenizing.”
I believe that we can deeply enrich and intensify our ideas in relation to such things if we make clear to ourselves that there are processes in the outer world corresponding to everything that takes place in the human being. And even if it must sound dreadful to one who has passed through the educational system of today, I do not want to avoid using certain expressions that have a serious meaning for spiritual science and which, if understood correctly, can lead us very deeply into these matters.
You see, the “arsenizing” (or “astralizing”) process observed in the human being, the mummification of the physical organism, its becoming brittle, is basically the same process as that which takes place when the earth forms rocks. Wherever rocks are in process of formation the earth is, in a sense, poisoned by arsenic or in the early stages of poisoning. Imagine, on the other hand, that the outer astrality that surrounds the earth everywhere (as I suggested in the last course of lectures), succeeds in avoiding the surface of the earth and rests directly on the water. Imagine that it avoids playing its part in bringing forth the blossoms, the growth and the emergence of the plants from the earth into the atmosphere. The outer astrality penetrates below the ground, and in these areas the earth gets dysentery. The process I am now describing ought to be taken into account, for there is much that is real behind it. It should be considered, because it gives information as to the connection of what takes place under the earth with a phenomenon such as dysentery, for example. In dysentery, we observe an effect on the human being of what lies under the ground, particularly in water, and it must be studied from this viewpoint. The essential thing to consider is that the astral body is very much involved in the matter, and hence to cure it it will be necessary to use intermediate potencies, because the efficacy of the astral body is through the middle system in the human organism.
Now phenomena such as those that take their course like diphtheria are especially able to teach us about certain subtleties in the human organism. Such diseases should be studied more precisely, if only for the sake of discovering remedies. I believe the opinion that has arisen from materialistic conceptions is still held that diphtheria must be treated locally as much as possible. Of course, numerous opposing opinions have also been expressed regarding this. The significance of the emergence of diphtheria — and to everything related to it — leads us to make some additions to what we studied in the last course, because at that time we were not yet able to deal so precisely with this interaction of the four members of the human organism.
In another context I have indicated that the child's acquisition of speech is accompanied by various organic processes. While he is learning to speak, and therefore while something special is taking place in his breathing organism, something also occurs polarically in his circulatory organism, which also receives into itself the metabolic processes. I also pointed out, in yet another context, how what at puberty appears in a reciprocal relationship of the human being to the outer world, takes place inwardly in learning to speak. Thus this push of the astral body, which at puberty takes place from within the human being outward, takes place from below upward in the astralizing process. The capacity for acquiring speech also develops from below upward. So here too we have an astralizing process, and we will be able to see clearly that an interaction occurs where the respiratory and circulatory systems meet (see drawing). The astralizing process working from below upward (yellow) encounters the developing organs of speech working from above downwards (red). In this encounter the organs of speech become stronger in their capacity for speech. It is what is taking place simultaneously below that especially interests us here: this tends to work upward. The whole process is one from below upward (yellow arrows). Now, if the astrality presses upward too strongly while the child is learning to speak, we have a predisposition to diphtheric conditions. It is certainly important to pay proper attention to this.
Let us now consider the outer earthly process that has a certain selective affinity for the process I have just described. Let this be the surface of the earth (see drawing above). In a plant that behaves appropriately in relation to the cosmos, the earth plays a part in the formation of its roots. With growth the influence of the earth diminishes and the extra-terrestrial influence becomes stronger and stronger, unfolding especially in the blossoms (see drawing, red). What develops here is a kind of external astralizing of the blossom, which then leads to the formation of fruit. If this process, which ought to occur in the normal course of the world processes, takes place below (see drawing below), it can only insert itself into the water, and we have what I have just called “dysentery of the earth.”
But we can also have another situation: What takes place when a plant develops properly — the blossom unfolding always a little above the earth's surface — can develop right on the earth's surface (see drawing below, red). Then fungi arise; this is the basis for fungus formation.
And now you will begin to guess that, if fungi arise from such a special astralizing process, the same process must take place from below upward when, as in diphtheria, this remarkable astralization occurs in the human head. This is actually the case. Hence you find in diphtheria the tendency to fungoid formations. It is most important to consider this tendency to fungoid formations in diphtheria, and it will also show you that a truly occult process is taking place there. Everything external is really only a sign that irregular astral currents are prevailing within the human being. This will suggest to you how a pathology, willing to consider merely outer symptoms, can know only the outer manifestations of the whole process; it then regards this process as local, for it sees only the outer aspects and does not consider what is pushing from within outward in such cases. The whole skeptical attitude adopted toward this process is certainly explicable if we trace it back to what we have just discussed.
As a matter of fact, the risk of infection in diphtheric conditions is very great. Why is it so great? Because diphtheric conditions clearly arise in connection with the acquisition of speech. Because of this they occur primarily in children from age two to four. Later the risk is very much less. However, every process that occurs as the normal course of events in the human organism at some time or other can also arise abnormally. Thus, this process, which is simply a concomitant of childhood, can also occur at another period of life, although somewhat modified or metamorphosed. Nevertheless, when a type of diphtheria occurs at a later stage in life, there is something of an infantile nature at work in the individual. The fundamental characteristic of the infantile stage is, as you know, the tendency to imitate. When expressing the facts of spiritual science about infants, it is only necessary to speak of the more psychological aspect, the external manifestation of the childhood stage is certainly this imitative aspect. The organism itself is forced to become imitative when it becomes diphtheric. Infection is due to a person becoming an imitator. Indeed, there is a very delicate sensitivity involved in this imitating. When this condition is studied with the methods of spiritual science, one finds that the ego actually plays a certain role in infection with diphtheria. For this reason, the parasitic aspect, what develops as fungoid growths, is more infectious than in other diseases. This is because the human organism, by virtue of its imitative tendency, comes to meet the trouble, adjusting itself in an imitative, receptive way as soon as it “perceives” the diphtheric poison. Hence a psychological rebuke, when it is possible in the initial stages, and psychological support by encouragement may well have a favorable effect.
But when, as here, the processes work so deeply into the organism, much more will naturally be achieved by trying to find the specific remedy with which to oppose the particular process at work. I am not aware of whether any steps have been taken to find, even empirically, a specific remedy for diphtheric conditions. One should try intermediate potencies of cinnabar. In cinnabar we will find effects that counteract all the phenomena I have mentioned. Cinnabar expresses this even in its outer appearance. The outer appearance of substances, however, is only of use when we supplement it with inner perception. The old “Doctrine of Signatures” was based on an instinctive, inner perception, and it has perished because people today no longer have the capacity to observe such things. Nonetheless it is important to be able to study these inner activities manifesting in all external appearances in the world. We ought not become involved in all sorts of mystical notions; if instead we acquire a sound understanding of such things we will recognize that cinnabar through its vermilion color is something that in a certain way brings to expression this activity opposed to the fungoid process. That which is approaching the colorless can become fungoid. While too strong an astralization of the earth's surface plays a part in the formation of fungi, in cinnabar there is a counter-reaction to this astralization and thus this reddening. Wherever a reddening appears in natural processes, we find a powerful counter-effect to the astralization process. You could express this in a moral formula: “The rose in blushing works against astralization.” These domains of pathological-therapeutic study are really interconnected in a certain way. They guide us into this peculiar relationship of the ego and astral body to the other organs, to their laying hold of organs, to their emancipation from organs, or to manifestations of the excessive working of the astral from below upward.
In this way insight can gradually be gained into the whole human body. This can be understood more thoroughly if one takes these studies to a further stage. Here you will have to take into account something that I would like to add now to what I presented to you last year. It is remarkable that the human ego, studied in its spiritual, psychical, organic, and mineral activities, is a kind of vehicle, you could say, for phosphorus. The ego creates the phosphorus-vehicle in such a way that with this vehicle it extends to the periphery of the organic human being. The phosphorization of the human organism is an activity of the ego. Through the ego, this phosphorus distribution is extended to the outermost borders, to the very periphery of the organic human being, in a most ingenious way. To a certain limit — which must not be exceeded, however — the ego can only carry phosphorus through the organism by first combining it chemically to other substances. The ego in essence hinders the chemical liberation of phosphorus by carrying it through the organism. This is one of the ego's tasks, to hinder the chemical liberation of phosphorus, of all but the traces of phosphorus required by a certain special process. This process would occur on a large scale if the ego did not succeed in preventing the liberation of the phosphorus taken in.
If the phosphorus were to be set free, inducing an intensive effect in the human organism, there would be definite consequences. I have told you in the course of these lectures that when the human being enters the world, that is, when his pre-existing soul-spiritual aspect comes into corporeality, the imprints of the etheric body, astral body, and ego are first created. I also said to you that everything constituting the imprint of the ego is actually to be found in dynamic systems, the systems of movement that are brought to an equilibrium. This is something to which we must pay special attention at this point in our considerations.
The ego requires phosphorus to bring about equilibrium between unbalanced states or those in which the balance has been disrupted. When I take a step forward, my equilibrium is disturbed and I must restore it again, but through the help of inner processes. This task in the human organism is accomplished essentially with the help of phosphorus. When the ego does not exhaust its phosphorizing activity in making static what is dynamic within the human being, it brings phosphorus to the imprint of the ego already present, to this process of making static what is dynamic. I have frequently drawn your attention to the fact that in addition to our solid constituents we must also consider the fluid man, the aeriform man, and the warmth man. Picture to yourselves the fluid man, that which is expressed in the imprinting of the ego, of the astral body, and then the ego itself, in the etheric body. This means that in the etheric body something dynamic, something not in a state of equilibrium, must continually be brought into equilibrium.
What we are speaking about here has to do with extraordinarily delicate effects. And these delicate effects are regulated by the presence in the human body of free-floating globules that are nevertheless connected with the whole movement of the organism, including the inner movement. These are the blood corpuscles. Against these blood corpuscles must beat the activity of the ego within the body's mobility — including, for example, the mobility of warmth. These blood corpuscles are not really little globules but are essentially constituted so that even their form shows that they are intended to guide movement over into equilibrium. What the ego does in working into the capacity for movement of the human organism reaches its limit at the blood corpuscles. Here it has to stop, and that most intimate interaction between the human ego and the whole human organism must occur. Here too occurs what I might call the most hidden battle between the continual phosphorizing process in the human being and the formative process of the blood. Thus, if phosphorus is brought into the human being in the free state, the blood corpuscles are destroyed by the phosphorizing process.
This is something that can lead us pictorially to this remarkable reciprocal action of the ego, which is a spiritual entity. Indeed, the ego is spiritual through and through, but it continually interacts with the physical through the blood corpuscles. In this respect, “blood is a very special fluid,” as an old saying — not Goethe — tells us. For in the blood the outer physical part of the human being interacts with his most spiritual member, the first that he carries with him, the ego. It is in the blood that the most injurious processes can arise when the ego enters into this interaction improperly. A great deal in the physical body can be ruined by such an incorrect interaction: destruction of the epithelium, fatty degeneration extending to the muscle fibers — especially the striated muscle fibers, for the ego acts especially on these — disintegration of the blood corpuscles, and so on. Indeed, this corporeal process of degeneration can extend into the bones if the phosphoric effects are not in order.
This interplay between the ego (which, of course draws the astral body with it) and the physical body (which then draws the etheric body with it), shows us clearly that there is a constant striving toward a normal and an abnormal state. The normalizing tendency attains a certain culmination and is then followed by a decline. We see this manifested when we have to do with a case of poisoning by phosphorus, for instance. In phosphorus poisoning, you will find that in the first place the astral body and the etheric body resist what is occurring in the physical body and the ego. They resist, they defend themselves with all the force, with the strongest force, of the etheric body. The etheric body tries to stand up to the over-activity of the ego; it tries to counter this by strengthening its own forces. Therefore there is an inner similarity between the process of the first stage of poisoning by phosphorus and another process, namely, the occurence of the review of life after death. As you know, this can last for a day and a half, or for two to three days. During this review the etheric body is held within the astral body. In a sense, they cling together. This also happens in the human body when phosphorus poisoning occurs. Everything that can develop through the cooperation of the astral and etheric bodies, which takes place during this review after death by means of the etheric body, is developed now. Hence through these forces that are expended in the first stage of phosphorus poisoning, an improvement will set in after a lapse of as long a time as such a review would last. There will be a kind of fatiguing or recession, and then after this recession the abnormal influence of the ego will set in with even greater intensity. An actual case of phosphorus poisoning is extraordinarily difficult to treat, because it can only be combatted by trying to find a way of inducing in the whole organism an intense cooperation of the astral with the etheric. This could be achieved by opposing the phosphorus poison with a strong application of drawing plasters applied to various parts of the body. You would certainly achieve results in this way. Of course something must be known about these things, and one has to have a feeling for how far to go.
Thus the physical organism, when the ego intervenes in it, can be intensely engaged by being involved in what we may call “phosphorization” of the human being. However, when the ego intervenes strongly in the physical organism, — that is, in a destructive way — the polar opposite must necessarily occur: what the ego normally does in the human organism, when it does not intervene too strongly, must suffer. Hence you will find a phosphorization that is too powerful accompanied by states of insomnia, due simply to an excessive proclivity of the astral body and ego to the physical. You could deduce this from everything I have said. You will find headaches and all the conditions usually accompanying paralysis. These conditions naturally arise in connection with what I have said about the interaction with the blood. What lies in the middle, and what therefore appears with phosphorization (when the ego attacks the blood corpuscles and is repelled again in the alternating process described) comes to expression in conditions of jaundice. In fact, in jaundice we can also observe an interplay of the psychological and the physical.
From what I have presented to you, you will see that the process constituting the human being is essentially a cooperation of the ego and astral body with the forces of the outer world, within the space enclosed by the skin. It is a process working in from without, and one must be able to study correctly how this process can be regulated, how one can acquire a kind of control over it.
Certain dietetic measures that would be effective occur to one when studying ailments with this perception as a foundation. If the ego is working too strongly in the human being, causing irregularities in the stomach, but at the same time an overvitalization is at work in abnormal diarrheal conditions and the like, it is necessary to combat this by appropriate dietetic measures. The actual ego process and the process of the astral in the human being are a kind of analyzing process; they fragment what is synthetically present in the outer world. Whereas we have a kind of primary synthetic process in the physical and etheric bases of the human organism, we have an analytic process in the ego and astral activities. This analytic process is a part of the normal activities of the human being, and its unusual character is expressed strongly in the necessity of keeping it within bounds. If the ego becomes too active an analyst regarding phosphoric salts, it decomposes them as far as the phosporus, and this then begins to be unhealthy for the human organism. In last year's lectures I referred to this analyzing process carried as far as iron: this is the farthest point to which analysis can be carried without harm. This process of analysis carried as far as iron is connected with the iron content of the blood. In many respects this is the polar opposite of analysis with respect to other metals, where the analytical process must, in a certain sense, be restrained.
Today I wanted to show you how outer phenomena in fact give us pictures of what is developing from the inner spiritual aspect. On this account the outer view of the human being in states of health and illness must be supplemented by what one can learn of the inner, of the spiritual human being. We now have a basis for understanding our remedies and answering many of the questions that have been asked.
We will deal with these as much as possible in the remaining lectures.