Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Fundamentals of Therapy
GA 27

XI. The Forming of the Human Body and Gout

Ingestion of albumen is a process connected with one aspect of the inner activities in the human organism. This is that aspect which comes about on the basis of the absorption of physical substance. All such activities result in growth, creation of form, or new formation of material content. All that is related to the unconscious functions of the organism, belongs to this domain.

The processes of this kind are opposed by those which consist of excretion. These may be excretions directed outward; but they may also be processes of secretion where the product is further elaborated internally, in the forming or laying down of substances in the body. These are the processes of secretion where the product is further elaborated internally, in the forming or laying down of substances in the body. These are the processes which provide the material foundation of conscious experience. Through the first kind of processes the force of consciousness is muted if it exceeds that which can be held in balance by means of the second kind of processes.

A most remarkable excretory process is that of uric acid. The astral body is active in this excretion. This has to take place throughout the whole organism. It takes place to a particular degree through the urine. In a very finely divided way it takes place for example, in the brain. In the secretion of uric acid in the urine the astral body is mainly active, while the part played by the ego-organization is only subsidiary. In the secretion of uric acid in the brain, on the other hand, the ego-organization is the important factor and the astral body is in the background.

Now in the organism, the astral body is the intermediary between the activity of the ego-organization and the etheric and physical bodies. The ego-organization must carry lifeless substances and forces into the organs. Only through this impregnation of the organs with inorganic material can man become the conscious being that he is. Organic substance and organic force would lower human consciousness to the dim level of the animal.

The action of the astral body inclines the organs to receive the inorganic impregnations of the ego-organization. Its function is in fact to prepare the way.

We see, therefore, that in the lower parts of this human organism the activity of the astral body has the upper hand. Here the uric acid substances must not be received into the organism. They must be excreted copiously. Under the influence of this excretion the impregnation with inorganic material must be prevented. The more uric acid is excreted, the more lively is the activity of the astral body, while that of the ego-organization impregnating the body with inorganic materials is correspondingly diminished.

In the brain, on the other hand, the activity of the astral body is slight. Little uric acid is excreted, whereas more inorganic material in the sense of the ego-organization is deposited.

The ego-organization cannot master large quantities of uric acid; and thus they fall under the action of the astral body; small quantities, on the other hand, enter the organization of the ego and there provide the foundation for the forming of the inorganic in the sense of the ego-organization.

In the healthy organism there must be a correct economy in the distribution of uric acid in the different regions. Whatever belongs to the system of nerve-sense organization must be provided with as much uric acid as the ego-activity can make use of and no more; while, for the system of metabolism and the limbs, the ego-activity must be suppressed and the astral enabled to unfold its action in the more copious secretion of the uric acid.

Now since it is the astral body that makes way for the ego-activity in the organs, a correct distribution in the deposition of uric acid must be regarded as an essential factor in human health. For in this is expressed whether the correct relationship between the ego-organization and astral body exists in any particular organ or system of organs.

Let us assume that in some organ, in which the ego organization should predominate over the astral activity, the latter begins to gain the upper hand. This can only apply to an organ where the excretion of uric acid beyond a certain measure is impossible by virtue of structural arrangement of the organ. The organ becomes overloaded with uric acid uncontrolled by the ego-organization. Nevertheless, the astral body begins to bring about a secretion of uric acid. Since the organs of excretion are lacking in such a region, the uric acid is deposited not outwardly but in the organism itself. And if it finds its way to places in the body where the ego-organization is unable to take a sufficiently active part, we find inorganic substance i.e. something which is only proper to the ego-organization, but which the latter leaves to the action of the astral activity. Foci arise, where subhuman (animal) processes insert themselves into the human organism.

We are dealing with gout. If gout is frequently reputed to develop as a result of inherited tendencies, it is due to the simple fact that when the forces of inheritance predominate the astral-animal nature becomes especially active and the ego-organization is thereby repressed.

We shall, however, understand the matter more clearly if we look for the true cause of gout in this: substances are introduced into the human body in the process of nourishment, which the activity of the organism is not strong enough to divest of their foreign nature. The ego-organization, being weak, is unable to lead them over into the etheric body, and they thus remain in the region of astral activities. If an articular cartilage or a portion of connective tissue become over-charged with uric acid and, as a result, overburdened with inorganic materials and forces, it shows that in these parts of the body the ego's activity lags behind that of the astral. And since the whole form of the human organism is an outcome of the organization of the ego, this abnormality must necessarily give rise to a deformation of the organs. In effect, the human organism will then strive away from its true and proper form.