Health and Illness I
I. Concerning the World Situation; Causes of Illness
19 October 1922, Dornach
Dr. Steiner: Good morning, gentlemen! Have any of you thought of something you would like to ask me?
Question: Concerning the political situation, is Britain sincere in its dealings with Germany, or is it actually conspiring with France to destroy her? On the one side stand the French trying to suppress Germany with reparations, and on the other stand the big capitalists. It is the same with Russia. We know that Germany has made a trade agreement with her, but now we learn that France, too, has made one. Was this done to sabotage the German agreement? Are you perhaps in a position to make a few remarks on these and other German affairs?
Dr. Steiner. Well, gentlemen, perhaps this is the reason why lately we have been more inclined to speak about scientific matters than to discuss political problems. It is much wiser to do so for the simple reason that all these affairs you have touched upon lead to absolutely nothing. In reality, nothing at all can come of them. Just look at the present situation. Basically, none of the protagonists know where they're heading; everything they do is done from fear, is really a product of fear.
Other things are much more important than all these matters that are based, for example, on England's not knowing how to act. England cannot turn her back on France because in England the opinion prevails that promises must be kept. It is the general attitude over there that a person is obliged to keep his promises. But to what extent this notion is sincere — well, that's something that has nothing to do with the actual conditions. Sincerity pertains only to individual human beings. In regard to public life the most we can say is that a kind of basic principle is acknowledged: “Promises must be kept.” One must play the game by the rules of fair play. Therefore, England quite naturally takes the position that she cannot desert the old Entente, but this stand contradicts the whole purpose of the war. That whole undertaking was calculated to shift industrial production toward the West and to suppress the economies of Eastern and Central Europe, to turn these areas into markets. This was, in fact, the original intention. The economy of Central Europe — and the same would have eventually held true of Eastern Europe as well — was much too prosperous to suit people in the West; they simply didn't want things that way.
Now, this opinion in England exists side by side with another. If Germany is totally suppressed, a needed export market is lost. On the other hand, the French, above all else, feel their lack of money and purchasing power. Their only objective is to squeeze profits out of Germany by hook or by crook. You can understand now that the English sit between two chairs and, as a result, don't accomplish much of anything. If one thinks that Germany at some point has been hurt too much, then a little something is done here or there to brighten the general outlook a bit.
In the affairs of the Middle East, England and France are right now in sharp confrontation. England must push back the Turks because she wants to dominate the world. Granted, the English are protecting the Christians, but the sincerity of their motives is something we needn't consider. At the moment, France is not interested in that cause. First and foremost, the French want an influx of money, and for this reason they support the Turks. In the Middle East, then, these two powers are squared off. Basically, world politics everywhere are in a state of chaos today.
Added to all this is something else especially evident in England just now. With this we come to an important issue, and many people should realize its importance. Incidentally, all the things said over there carry no weight whatsoever. What Lloyd George or anybody else says, matters not in the least; it is all at variance with the facts. Of course, it isn't done consciously; people imagine they are talking about the issues, but in fact they are by-passing them. Another matter, however, is of much greater significance. In England, Lloyd George is the centre of a controversy. Should he or should he not remain in office? Now, why is the position of such a man, who can express himself most eloquently in public, so precarious? Quite simply, he no longer has strong party support; his backing is minimal. Yet, what would happen if Lloyd George were replaced? The minister taking his position would himself soon be ousted. Lloyd George has to be retained solely because he has no qualified successors. The crux of the matter is that everywhere we must settle for individuals whose past performances are a matter of public knowledge, because people can no longer discern whether or not candidates are competent and have a real grasp of the issues.
Not even the Social Democratic Party can find capable men anymore. It just continues to support the old guard and shuts the door against aspiring younger members. Because everywhere people cannot recognize human ability, graybeards, who have lost the faculty to comprehend the present situation, are being kept in office. This is why nothing is accomplished anywhere! So today it doesn't matter what party a person joins to receive this or that position; what matters is that we bring about an environment from which individuals arise who have insight into existing conditions and whose speech and actions are based only on facts. Men's awareness for what is required diminishes daily. Comments like, “Well, it would be better if the English did this, the French that, and the Germans and the Turks thus and so,” are so much idle chatter. Whatever is done merely from the standpoint of the past cannot succeed.
Take an issue of the last few days. You'll agree that Germany has suffered greatly from speculation in foreign currency. Even schoolboys have bought foreign money and have “made it” in foreign exchange. Somebody with 50 marks one day could buy foreign currency and have 75 the next. Huge sums of money could be made from speculation. So what does the German government do? As you know, it passed an emergency law controlling speculation in foreign currency. Now, let's assume that the government agencies are so clever that they themselves can succeed in speculation. I don't believe they are, but let's assume so. In the next few weeks there would then be less private trading in foreign currencies in Germany. It is no exaggeration that boys thirteen and fourteen years old were trading in foreign money. What would happen if all this were stopped for a few weeks? A huge gap would arise between the price of necessities like groceries and the amount of money people could afford to spend on them. For example, in Germany today one cigarette costs seven marks. Well, people will pay that amount. Why? Because of the speculation in foreign money. You know that today old men can't afford seven marks for a cigarette, but young people who have made all kinds of money speculating can. Now, if this source of income is cut off, soon no one will be able to buy a good cigarette. This is just one aspect of the matter; another is that wages would have to be lowered in the cigarette industry. Then you would have the discrepancy of consumer goods being kept at their former prices and consumers unable to afford them. A new crisis would arise, and this is, in fact, the next to come.
Everything is done on the spur of the moment, which insures that one crisis follows another — and all this because people see only what is closest at hand. No results can be achieved in this manner. The only way to get out of the present chaotic situation is to have competent men in office again. To achieve anything, we must have men who know what they're doing, but present conditions indicate that nowhere are capable persons being consulted. So we must see to it that qualified people are again elected. Things won't progress by the clichés and vacuities people utter; all this is worthless. Just look at any newspaper. You may even happen to like one because it represents your party, but regardless of their political persuasions the facts they publish are worthless and lead to nothing. For this reason, it's almost a waste of time to occupy oneself with world politics; the field is barren. The only thing that needs to be considered is that once again education should produce competent people. Competence is what we should aim for because today nobody knows anything.
Those powers confronting the Europeans know the most. The Turks, for example, know exactly what they want, as do the Japanese. They want to further their own cultures, solely their own. Strangely enough, Europeans are indifferent about theirs. You can see now why one is reticent to talk about politics. It's like going to a party and discovering that everyone is indulging in platitudes; you will then not want to participate. That's pretty much the situation in politics these days.
Not long ago, Lloyd George delivered a speech. If you want to give a figurative description of it and you said it resembled a pile of chaff in which a few grains of wheat yet remained, then this comparison would not be quite rate. You should say, rather, that no wheat was left, that every last grain had been flailed out. Only then would we have a true picture of the speech Lloyd George gave a few days ago. Yet, I can say without a moment's hesitation that it was the most significant address delivered by a statesman in recent weeks. You see, even though his speech was vapid, he did have his fist in it. He did not actually do so, but one can imagine his having pounded the table every so often. That's one thing he can do. His words are empty, but there is something in his fist.
It's this way everywhere. I've stopped reading the speeches of Wirth, because the few lines that appear on the front page of the Basel newspaper tell me enough. It's then quite apparent that his whole speech amounts to nothing. The situation is absolutely pathetic, and it's pointless to become elated or depressed over any part of it. The thing is, anyone who is really sincere in his regard for humanity must say to himself that everything hinges on our finding competent men who can understand something of the world's problems and who can think, truly think.
For if one considers the remarks of Lloyd George — and perhaps he is actually the most capable of all these politicians — one discovers that he has never had an original thought. He can hold on to his position just because he has no thoughts. Thus, he can vacillate in one or the other direction and what he says is really trite. Were he ever to utter a thought, were the Union Party, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party to discover how they all stood with him, he would, of course, be thrown out of office. His whole skill consists in speaking in such a way that the others can't discern how they fare with him. If somebody's speech is continually inane, no one knows what to make of it. His great asset is his lack of thoughts, and he can use it because he himself does not know where he stands.
These are the conditions today, but this wasn't the case a few years ago. Two or three years ago one always had to say, “Something must be done before it's too late,” but today it is too late. Nothing can be suggested because now it is too late; it's simply too late. The most I can say is that things will improve only when qualified men again enter public life. Germany and Russia can sign as many treaties as they want but nothing will come of them. It isn't a question of signing treaties but of unfolding a healthy economic life.
The Stinnes conglomerate is a good example. Do you think for a moment that Mr. Stinnes could accomplish anything within the German labour force? Of course not; that's impossible. Stinnes is an industrialist who has advanced through skilful manipulation of foreign currency. But that is all he knows, how to advance himself, nothing else. Many people today have noticed that the government is getting nowhere, that all its treaties have had no effect on the economy. Since Stinnes acts independently of the government, the results are probably better, some say, but in any event his ideas are based solely on the manipulation of his interests in Germany and France. This is their only basis. Look at the Stinnes agreements and you'll see what heavy financing they would require. What Stinnes intends to do must be financed. Things are at such a pass, however, that to finance such ventures would just about deplete one's resources, would “raze all the woods in Austria.”
Naturally, a person can talk about all the things he would like to do when in reality none of them can succeed. As soon as he tries to carry one out, it won't work. People have seen that government treaties lead nowhere, no economic growth results from them. Stinnes's ventures are independent of government help so it is hoped that they will produce results. But it won't work. It doesn't matter that he naturally works arm in arm with other big capitalists. His plans cannot be realized because even he will not be able to finance them. Hence, Stinnes offers no solution.
Journalists are fascinated by the columns of figures he manipulates, and you see, gentlemen, when they write their editorials or feature sections, they are under no obligation; they can say whatever they please. You probably haven't saved them, but if you compare the articles written in 1912 with those written today in the same paper, you will discover a curious thing. After all, newspaper articles are ephemeral, no one gives them a second thought, and so journalists can make them as interesting as they like. Anyone who feels responsible for his statements, however, and does not fabricate articles at random knows that all of them are nothing but rubbish. This is the situation everywhere. Because people have no original ideas things have become desperate. Above all else we need original thoughts, new ideas; without these everything will go to ruin.
In Germany today, it takes 215 marks to buy a toothbrush. But what are 215 marks? Not even one franc! This sounds cheap to us here, but where does a German get 215 marks? Other consumer goods are proportionately more expensive. Today no one can afford an umbrella, but it can't be helped. When I was in Vienna I once went by taxi because I was in a hurry and it happened to be a holiday. The distance was one half mile, no more. The fare, gentlemen, was 3600 kronen! Today it would be ten times that. The same ride would cost 36,000 kronen. This is obviously absurd, but other things are equally so, even if people don't know it. For what is done to remedy this situation? If a short taxi ride costs 36,000 kronen, 500,000 kronen notes will be printed, and if it costs 360,000 kronen, one million notes will be issued. But such measures have no effect on economic life. Nothing is altered except that those who have a little money in their pockets today have nothing tomorrow, and those who speculate cleverly have double their former amount. But speculation with currency accomplishes nothing as far as
the mint par of exchange is concerned. It merely enables some people to make money without thought or effort, and when work comes to a halt in the world, hampered by usurious speculation, then things will have indeed reached a breaking point. So it accomplishes nothing at all. People simply have to realize that capable persons with insight into the affairs of the world must again take things in hand; there is no other way out.
To accomplish this, we must start with the right kind of education. Today people must begin to learn in school to comprehend the world. The other day I was reading a textbook that recommended a certain problem in arithmetic, and when I describe it you'll say, “So what?” But the arithmetic problem posed in this textbook is indicative of the most important thing in the world. It goes like this:
One person is 5 1/2 year old
Another is 18 7/12 years old
Another is 36 4/12 years old
Another is 35 5/12 years old
What is the total number of years of these four persons?
The children are asked to add all this together; this is what the textbook recommends. Of course, they will do so and arrive at the total of 173 6/12 years. Now I ask you, gentlemen, what bearing has this sum to reality? When would you ever need to figure out something like this? For the problem to have any meaning at all, it would have to be posed so that the first person happened to die just when the second was born, and the third died when the last was born. How many years elapsed from the birth of the first person to the death of the last? The former problem is unrealistic; no one will ever have to figure it out in actuality. Giving children problems like this amounts to giving them the most abstract arithmetic imaginable. Children are required to use their good sense to compute real nonsense.
Well, the person who devised this problem once learned that things could be added up. Now let's consider this case. Someone was born on a certain date, went to school until he was 14½ years old and then served as an apprentice for 5½ years. Following that, he worked under various masters for 3 years and then got married. Four years later he had a son, and when the son was 22, the father died. By adding up the years we arrive at the man's age, which is 49. This is something concrete, something real. Children are led out into real life when they are given problems like this and this applies to all situations. Otherwise, they sit for an hour over something that never occurs in actuality, but no one is shocked by this. If you point this out to people, they reply, “It doesn't matter how children learn arithmetic.” They don't think it's terribly important. But it happens to be of prime importance, for the people who read rubbish in textbooks as children will eventually spout it as adults; they'll talk nonsense, nothing but nonsense.
From all this you can understand the need for a renewal in education. The educational method I have spoken of bases everything on reality; from the very beginning it leads the human being into reality. This is what actually counts, and this is also why conditions will invariably worsen if people do things as they have in the past. You can start as many newspapers as you like, but if they are written in the same tired spirit, the same chaos will remain. This is why it is so important today for us to occupy ourselves with matters that will turn people into thinking human beings. For this to happen, however, we must see to it that teachers and textbooks do not present arithmetic problems like the one cited but only those that apply to life. Unfortunately, children are also learning languages, science and social studies in that unrealistic way. Everything is divorced from reality.
I've told you that in England it is customary to give those who receive a Master of Arts degree a medieval gown. This had meaning a few hundred years ago and was a reality. Today, it's different. Today someone can be a consultant to the government or something else and it means absolutely nothing. Things are just the same in those countries that underwent revolutions. You must realize that a complete change in education is called for; everything depends on that.
Does anybody else have a question that concerns you?
Question: It is claimed that the appendix may be removed without harm to the patient. We know that frequently this and other organs are taken out in operations. Earlier, we discussed the significance of the internal organs, and I would like to know what effect it has on a person if he is missing any.
Dr. Steiner. I shall answer this question after we have considered something else first, which I shall gladly do now.
Question: In recent lectures we have discussed the influence of the planets on man; I am interested in hearing more about this.
Dr. Steiner: What I have to say now will have a bearing on it. I shall answer these questions today and see how far we get. But first I would like to tell you a story to demonstrate the kind of knowledge we will be pursuing from now on.
In the early 'nineties of the last century, about thirty or thirty-one years ago, an official North American Trading and Transport Company held a convention. Invited to this meeting was a prominent financier named William Windom. By the standards of those gathered there he was a brilliant man, a person whom one immediately recognized as an authority. He was expected to give an address at this convention, and indeed he did so.
Windom began his speech by saying, “We need to reform our whole trade and transport system, for as they are today they contain something unhealthy.” He then went on to explain what money is; in his fairly short speech he touched on the significance of money. He said, “Well, gentlemen, I have now analysed national economic matters for you. But the point is that one realizes that the whole thing does not work. However much the currency circulates due to commerce and passes from hand to hand, that does not determine what in fact makes a national industry a sound one. What does make an industry sound are the moral concepts that people have. Unless moral concepts also flow through commerce, and money circulates in such a way that moral concepts are tied in with it, we get no further.” That is what he said.
Windom said that immoral conceptions in the commercial and industrial life is like having poison in the human blood stream. If immoral concepts accompany the circulation of money in transportation and industry, it is as if poison were to contaminate the blood in the arteries. Just as a man becomes ill on account of poison in his system, so does the economic body become unhealthy when poison — that is, immoral concepts — runs through its network.
Now it struck his listeners that Mr. Windom became a bit gray as he spoke of arteries in the context of economic life. They were surprised that someone who had previously spoken only of matters pertaining to economy and finance, who had in fact begun his speech on these subjects, should suddenly use this rather apt analogy and even elaborate on it. He described in detail how poison penetrates the blood and referred to moral concepts. This was indeed a change of subject, and when he uttered the words, “It is like this in economic life that immoral concepts go like poison through the arteries of industrial commerce,” he collapsed. He had a stroke and died on the spot.
Here you have an example of the phenomena I have often mentioned and from which we may learn a great deal. It is quite obvious what happened here. The man certainly did not die from the speech because he was not even excited at the time. He would have had a stroke even if he had been doing something completely different; the conditions for it were simply present in his system. By no means was the stroke brought on by the speech, although it conceivably hastened it by an hour. In any event, his system had been predisposed to a stroke for a long time, and he would have had it anywhere else as well.
The other point to be observed here is that he suddenly left his topic and began to describe his own inner condition. This he did quite logically and within the boundaries of his talk. Imagine, the man stands before his audience and speaks to them about something thoroughly economic; suddenly the course of this thought changes as he turns rather gray. He keeps to the theme of his address, but what he describes now is his own condition before death. This is what he turned to; his speech took this direction on account of his own inner condition. Much can be learned from this, which also happens in other, less drastic forms.
Let us suppose a speaker loses his train of thought. This is something I have witnessed more than once. Usually, whereas at first the speaker confidently faced his audience, having lost his train of thought, he would now make a slight movement and glimpse downward. He had placed his top hat in front of him, and his speech was under it! After he found his thread of thought he could resume talking. Something like that can happen. I once saw a mayor who got stuck after the first ten words pick up his hat and bravely proceed to read the speech right off. The mayor could read, but if he had continued to talk without his notes, if he had spoken impromptu, well, nothing but twaddle would have come out. He could read; otherwise, his speech would have amounted to nothing.
How would William Windom have fared? The conditions for the imminent stroke were in his system, and if we consider man's whole constitution, it makes little difference whether we are in the situation of William Windom or of the mayor. The mayor could read, as we saw, and so could the man who suffered the stroke. But where did William Windom read? He read what was happening in his own body; he simply read that off. From this you may see that what spiritual science has discovered is correct. Whenever we talk we are actually always reading something that is going on within us. Naturally, what we say is based upon our external experiences, but that mingles with what goes on in our bodies. Our utterances are actually read off from our inner processes, which, of course, do not always have such sad consequences for us as a stroke. Every time you say something, even if it's only five words, you read it from within your body. If you jot something down, five days later you can read it in your notebook; and if you commit it to memory, then it becomes part of the script within you and you can read it from within. It is the same process as reading from a book. The act of reading is the same whether done from without or within; only the direction in which we look is different. It doesn't matter if you have noted “five nails, seven hooks” on paper or in your brain. If you have noted it in a book you can read it off from the page where it was recorded; if you have made a mental note of it, a brain cell imprinted with “five” has linked itself with others carrying the messages “seven,” “nails” and “hooks.” A whole loop has come into being in your brain, and, without being aware of it, you look at these loops within yourself and read off the mental notations. This is what we are led to realize from examining such a drastic case as William Windom's.
I have mentioned another example that we may briefly recall now. This incident concerns Karl Ludwig Schleich, a well-known doctor, and was reported by him. A man came rushing to him and said, “I've just pricked myself with this pen; look, there is still ink on me. You must amputate my right arm or I'll die of blood poisoning!”
Schleich, whom I knew well — he died just recently — told me this himself. He said to the man, “What's the matter with you? As a surgeon I cannot take the responsibility of amputating your arm! The ink just needs to be sucked out. It's really nothing, and it would be nonsensical to cut off your arm!”
The person replied, “All right, but then I will die! You absolutely must take off my arm.”
Dr. Schleich said to him, “I won't do it; I can't cut off an arm for no reason whatsoever.”
“Well,” said the patient, “then I will die.”
When Schleich let him go, the man rushed to a second doctor to ask him to amputate. Naturally, he also refused the request, and the fellow kept running around the whole evening saying, as he had to Dr. Schleich, that he would die in the night.
Schleich was quite concerned about the man. Of course, there were no grounds for amputating his arm, but the first thing the following morning Schleich inquired about him. He had easily sucked the ink out of the man's small wound, since pricking yourself with a pen is a minor matter. But when Schleich arrived at the man's house the next morning he found him dead; he had indeed died! Now, what did Schleich say? He said that the man had died of auto-suggestion, that he had talked himself into dying and that his own thoughts had killed him. It's true that in a case like this, one speaks of auto-suggestion, but I told Schleich that even though all kinds of things happen through auto-suggestion, it cannot account for a death like this. To say so is nonsense. Schleich did not believe me.
What really happened? Only one who sees completely through the human being can discover what really occurred in this case. The doctors performed an autopsy and found no trace of blood poisoning. There was no sign of anything amiss, and so they were satisfied with the conclusion that death had been caused by auto-suggestion. But here, too, the real cause was a stroke that would have been difficult to diagnose and, as you can imagine, had been building up for several days. The conditions for the stroke had been mounting in the delicate organs for days. The man dimly saw this happening within himself, just as Windom sensed that poison was penetrating his arteries moments before he was stricken. He felt that his body was about to succumb on account of the negative substances introduced into his system by some food. One can carry on for a long time without any apparent change on the surface while within, the conditions of death are maturing. The man in question somehow sensed this, became nervous and pricked his hand. He would not have done so otherwise. Up until this moment he was not aware of what was occurring within him and what was going to happen, but when he pricked himself, he said what he could not have said before, “I shall die from the pen prick!” Nobody says, “I feel death approaching me” if he feels perfectly healthy otherwise, but now he could ascribe his imminent death to the pen prick, even though it was the wrong cause. There was no auto-suggestion here; the man would have died the following night in any event. But he became nervous, and when he pricked his hand with a pen, the thought of imminent death arose in him in a completely erroneous form. He consulted doctors, but even Ludwig Schleich, who was a brilliant man, did not believe him. He thought that this was just a case of auto-suggestion and was convinced that the man had talked himself into dying. But this is nonsense. In fact, the cause of death already existed and the pen prick was but the result of apprehension.
From this you may see that much is happening within ourselves, and if these matters are not properly studied we simply cannot cope with them. Our starting point must be the origin of man. We must know in what form he existed when the ichthyosauria, the plesiosauria and the megatheria swam about in a thick fluid on what was then the earth. We cannot discover the interconnections of things without reference to and study of the human being.
There are many other aspects to be considered as well. At what age do people die most frequently? We know that infants die most often within the first few months after birth. Afterward, the mortality rate slowly decreases. Children have their childhood diseases up to the time of their change of teeth, and if they took better care of themselves by sitting up properly and the like, they would have fewer illnesses during their school years. Even so, the fewest illnesses occur between the ages of seven and fourteen. Then it starts up again. There is a great difference, however, between the diseases of infancy and those of puberty.
If we look at the illnesses that children die from during the earliest periods of life, we always find a quite definite form of blood suppuration. The blood becomes purulent. The child has a delicate constitution at that age and can succumb without it being established what develops from this suppuration. In fact, the child would develop jaundice. When an adult has suppuration of the blood, the condition progresses to the stage of jaundice, which generally can be cured quickly. The infant, however, dies before reaching this stage.
Many children get diarrhoea, which cannot be cured by the means one uses with adults. External remedies such as enemas or compresses must be used, but it's worthless to give a child medication. Children also get thrush, blisters that spring up mainly on the tongue, and all the other childhood diseases that sprout up from within — scarlet fever, measles and the like — as though the whole internal constitution were blooming. Adults can also get these illnesses, of course, but they belong essentially to childhood. They predominate during the early ages and then decline after the child gets his second teeth. These illnesses, which call for a careful diet and preferably external treatment, do not occur in this form after the second teeth. It is difficult to discover what causes purulent blood in a child. It arises from deep within the system. Convulsions, so-called childhood spasms, also frequently afflict children.
The illnesses that human beings contract during puberty are completely different. You need only consider the complaints of young girls. They develop anaemia, a problem caused by the body not properly nourishing the blood. When a child has blood suppuration, something else within the constitution contaminates the blood stream; when a girl has anaemia, the blood itself becomes ill. It is one problem if something within the system is infecting the blood and quite another if the blood becomes diseased. It is quite a different problem if the blood becomes sluggish, as it may, for example, in a boy or girl, a condition that then leads to haemorrhoids.
Thus, it is that in two periods of his life man is particularly prone to illness: up to the age of seven and between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one. In the intervening period he is predisposed to health. It is important to understand that the human being is not at all times equally prone to illness, that the times vary and that the illnesses have a completely different character at these various times. A study of this can lead us ever deeper into the human organization, and in this way we can begin to understand the functions of the inner organs.
You see, on the one hand you have the case of Mr. William Windom, who suddenly starts to speak of his organs as death approaches; on the other, you have the appearance of diseases in early childhood and the 'teens, which tell us that different processes occur during the successive stages of life. We must learn to decipher what occurs in man; we must learn to read these processes. When a child gets thrush or red patches on the body, for example, we must understand what is happening internally. Only when we have learned to read his inner processes can we arrive at a real knowledge of man.
If you merely put a dead human being on the dissecting table and only examine an individual organ, the removal of which causes no special effect, you won't discover anything pertinent. A diseased spleen, for example, can be surgically removed, and the operation can benefit the patient. He will be in better health for a period of time than if the spleen had remained in his body in its diseased condition. If you simply look at a spleen that has been surgically removed, you won't see what distinguishes it from, say, the stomach. Yet, if the whole stomach is removed, the patient has a difficult time. This is risky and in the long run someone with an artificial stomach cannot expect to have good health. There are organs that simply cannot be taken out: both lungs, for instance, and least of all, the brain. If a certain spot in the brain is hit with a mere needle, the person will die immediately. The elephant also has this spot in his brain. If you make a puncture there and hit it precisely — it need not even be cut out — this huge beast will be instantly killed. You may remove its spleen, however, and the animal will live on for many years. Thus, you see, it makes a difference which organ is removed from the body — a spleen, an appendix or something else.
To grasp this fact, we must thoroughly study the human being. Remember what I have said about these little brain creatures, these cells representing recollection that I have sketched here. They are still soft and alive in the small child and only gradually harden. Only when a child reaches his seventh year and has gone through the change of teeth have they hardened sufficiently. Then, at the onset of puberty, other cells called leucocytes start to move about more freely in the blood. They go through the whole blood stream and become more active at puberty. Before that time, they move about sluggishly. There are two periods in our lives when conditions arise that make us prone to illness. The first occurs from infancy to age seven, when the organism — or actually, the soul within the physical organism — must exert itself to mould and harden the brain cells. The second falls at puberty, when the soul must take pains to give mobility to the leucocytes, those little creatures contained in the blood.
To use an analogy, if you are building a house you must use mortar that will properly harden; otherwise, you will not succeed. So it is with the brain cells; they must harden sufficiently. When they do not, children become victims of this or that disease. We shall go further into the causes of these various illnesses next time. After puberty one is dealing with millions upon millions of white blood corpuscles. Until then, they are sluggish, and if they were a herd, it would take a great many shepherds to get them going. If this goading impulse is absent, anaemia results. So we see it depends on these aspects that in the early years of childhood and again at puberty certain illnesses may appear.
If the human being is studied like this, we can gradually comprehend all the interconnections. Indeed, we cannot accomplish anything in social life either unless we know these facts of natural science.