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When Healing Becomes Educating, Vol. 2 - Waldorf Research Institute

When Healing Becomes Educating, Vol. 2 - Waldorf Research Institute

In waking

In waking consciousness—especially when there is an illness or other crisis—people can and should set themselves aims and learn to distinguish between what is essential and what is not, which will give them a degree of certainty in their own inner attitude to the external life situation in which they find themselves. Old attitudes, opinions and expectations have to be reviewed and possibly corrected or revitalized. This is only a brief indication of a path along which one can accompany a patient in psychosomatic or psychotherapy. It is an extremely demanding, difficult, lengthy and fulfilling path along which the psychotherapist may only accompany the patient for as far as that individual can or wishes to go. The patient must invariably be the one who sets the pace and the distance, while the physician or therapist provides suggestions, support, companionship, assistance founded on knowledge, experience and ability. These serve the patient’s development (Greek therapeuein = to serve) but still leave him to do it himself, without laying down the law, a mistake made all too often, to the detriment of the patient. This is the point where the family practitioner of the old school differs from the therapist who is treating mature patients. The sphere of expression and communication Expression and communication are important capacities in social life. In the animal kingdom they are firmly tied to instinctual patterns of behavior, whereas by comparison human beings possess far greater possibilities of communication and the freedom to express themselves and behave in a sociable, helpful, unhelpful, unsociable, autistic or aggressive manner or indeed “more inhumanly than any animal.” This freedom to make use of so many contrasting possibilities naturally results in the most varied and differing modes of expression and behavior. Two aspects are important as far as the physician is concerned. On the one hand it is a matter of one’s own perception of the patient and on the other the patient must be allowed to speak for himself, with relatives and other people connected with the patient also drawn into this if possible. On no account must we fail to observe the patient’s attitude, movements, gestures, facial expression, eyes, or speech. The way the patient is dressed and also the atmosphere projected by him belong to this overall impression, or rather, expression. How do all these things relate to the situation in which the patient finds himself, how much do they fit in or how much are they at odds with the situation? The way people express themselves in situations of conflict or crisis, or how they do this when they are ill, the human relationships they have, 26

the extent to which they can verbalize their inner experiences, feelings and moods, or express them non-verbally, the effort they make or fail to make in this respect, the degree to which the various states of consciousness come into play: All these have a bearing on diagnosis and therapy. Can the patient use artistic means in order to apply or extend his range of expression? This is a sphere where much can be gleaned about the patient’s psychological and spiritual as well as the physical possibilities in general or in a particular situation, and it all has a bearing on health and sickness. To enable, stimulate and expand possibilities of expression and communication is always an important element of therapy. The sphere of relationships Interhuman relationships arise naturally out of the way we communicate with and behave towards one another. They range from the intimate togetherness of two people via the family, friendship, partnership, acquaintance and colleagueship to the relations between neighbors; from fleeting “chance” meetings to encounters pregnant with destiny. Humans are social beings who cannot live by themselves. We need our fellows. To live in our interrelationships is both the simplest and the most taxing, the most imprisoning and the most free, the most natural and the most complicated potential and need we have. It ranges between letting our relationships “develop as they like” or consciously shaping them, between experiencing the most wonderful fulfilment or the deepest misery, between receiving decisive impetus or encountering the greatest resistance. One of the discoveries of psychosomatic medicine is the recognition of how important human relationships can be with regard to the genesis and evolution of disease. Here, too, anthroposophic psychology can provide an extension of our view about various aspects that affect our relationships such as, for example, the theory of the senses and of “social and anti-social drives,” the processes of speaking, listening, understanding and feeling oneself understood, as well as the qualitative differences of sentient soul, intellectual soul and consciousness soul. I believe the question of relationships also extends to supra-personal relationships expressed in causes, ideas and ideals. I think that a number of psychopathologic phenomena such as phobias, obsessions, ambition, irritability, avarice, aggressiveness, fanaticism, boredom, fear and depression can also be investigated and even partly defined in terms of relationships. The supra-personal relationships expressed in religions and world philosophies are very important in connection with health and disease. 27

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