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Curative Education

Schmidt Number: S-5790

On-line since: 21st August 2004


27th June, 1924

We have been speaking of the connection between etheric body, physical body, astral body and ego organisation, and of different ways in which this connection may manifest in the so-called abnormal child. We explained yesterday how the etheric body can be abnormally formed as a result of its not being in right correspondence with the thought-system of the World Ether, and we went on to show how this can lead to irregularities in many different directions. If you can grasp this, then the conviction may also be brought home to you in the course of these lectures that while the mood of soul with which you approach your task as educators is the same for all, you will yet have to find the method of treatment for almost every single child individually. But you must first have some knowledge — and it is important to realise that the whole of modern psychiatry can have no true knowledge of so-called illnesses of the soul. When once we learn to recognise these illnesses for what they really are, then we can go on to consider methods of treatment in detail. It is, therefore, a matter of less importance for you to receive advice of particular measures to be adopted. What is of far greater importance is that you should come to see how in this domain too, sound pathological knowledge, sound diagnosis, lead of themselves into therapy.

Now, as you know, many cases of so-called mental disease are of such a nature that, for reasons which you will understand as you follow these lectures, they cannot be healed — or at any rate could be healed only under conditions extremely difficult to provide. And this would still be true if one were able to call in the help of Spiritual Science. For, in order to treat these illnesses, we would need, in the first place, to have our own sanatoria; and even then the healing of adult patients would still be attended with extraordinary difficulty. I am thinking here of illnesses of a particular kind, and especially of those cases that have important bearing on our work with children. On the other hand, you will come to see that help can most decidedly be given in such forms of illness in childhood, by a right educational treatment; and we shall find that in an illness which is one of the most difficult of all to treat in adults, namely epilepsy — if a patient is brought to us in early childhood and we are able to acquire a correct perception of how it stands with the illness, then there is good ground for anticipating very considerable improvement; indeed the illness may in some cases be got rid of altogether. When once we understand how to make the transition from what underlies the illness to what ought to be done, we shall find our way, in any particular case, to the right measures. But it is essential first of all to know what underlies the illness, to know how it has come about.

Modern psychiatry cannot help us here, for the reason that the men of our time have no notion that there is such a thing as a real ego organisation or a real astral body. The existence even of the etheric body is still widely denied — although science is in fact pressing forward today from the physical to recognition and knowledge of the organic and etheric. I will not stress names but when some people advance theories like those of Driesch [Hans Driesch, 1869 – 1941, Zoologist and Philosopher — Neovitalist.] they show that they have no knowledge of the ether body because they are afraid of it. But the very thing that is of first importance for us to know, when we set out to understand these illnesses, simply cannot be known, if we know nothing of the astral body and of the ego organisation. For we have to proceed with our investigation in the following way.

Take, first, the connection between physical body and etheric body. This connection is maintained throughout life, from conception, from the embryonic state, right until death; for it continues also through all the periods of sleep. On the other hand, the connection of these two with astral body and ego organisation is broken every time we fall asleep. Now it is essential for us to have a correct picture of how it is with ego organisation and astral body in the waking state, when they are within the physical and etheric bodies. An accurate perception of the particular way in which astral body and ego are membered into the physical and etheric bodies is indispensable if we are to be able to think intelligently about those who are suffering from so-called mental disease. It is commonly believed even among Anthroposophists — not that Anthroposophy, which is very precise in its statements, gives occasion for such a belief, but because it is so easy to cling to old and accustomed habits of thought — it is, I say, commonly believed that when the human being wakes up, his astral body and ego organisation go straight over into his physical body and etheric body, combining with them in very much the same way as hydrogen and oxygen combine in water. It is not like that. Seen clairvoyantly, it is like this [A drawing was made.] If we have here the physical body, and here the etheric body, then, at the time of awaking, the astral body does certainly come in, the ego organisation also comes in; yes, they come in, and one can perceive how astral body and ego organisation, entering in, proceed to lay hold of the physical and the ether body. But this is not all. For here we meet with a fact of human life that is of great importance.

Take first the ego organisation. When, at the moment of awaking, the ego organisation returns, it does not lay hold merely of the etheric body and physical body; within these, it lays hold of the external world, of the forces of the external world. What does this mean? Imagine we have here the force of gravity. It works in this direction. When we are awake, we stand up in the direction of the force of gravity. [An arrow pointing upward was drawn.] Picture to yourself gravity simply as a force working in this direction — the direction of the forces of weight. Now there are two ways of looking at the matter. Let us be quite clear about these two ways. The first is as follows. The ego, we could say, lays hold of the physical body (for the moment, we will leave the etheric body out of the picture), and the physical body adapts itself to gravity. We place ourselves, do we not, into the forces of gravity when we walk; we have to find our equilibrium, and so on. This is one possible way of looking at what happens: on awaking we lay hold of the physical body with our ego, and the physical body being heavy, being subject to the gravity of the earth, we are now subject with our physical body to the gravity of the earth, we are connected — indirectly, through the physical body — with the physical force of gravity. Seen from this point of view, it is something like what happens when I take up a book: the weight of the book connects me indirectly with the force of gravity. That, then, is one possible picture of the situation. It is however false, it is incorrect. Let us now consider the other. Here we have to see what takes place, in the following way. The ego slips into the physical body, lays hold of the physical body — slips in so far that it makes the physical body light. Through the ego's gliding into it, the physical body loses its weight. And so when I, as an awake human being, stand upright, then for my consciousness — for my ego, for my ego organisation which has also its physical expression in the warmth organism — gravity is overcome. There is no question here of the ego entering into indirect connection with gravity. The ego, the I, enters into direct connection, places itself as ego right into gravity, shutting the physical body completely out of the process. And that is how the matter really stands. When you walk, you place yourself, with your ego organisation, right into the actual gravity of the earth; and you do not do this via the physical body, you yourself enter into direct connection with the earthly.

It is the same with the etheric body. The etheric body too is inserted into forces. Take one of these forces. I have often drawn attention to the fact that we human beings, as we go about on the earth, are subject to a strong force of buoyancy. We have a brain which weighs, on the average, 1,500 grammes. If the whole weight of the brain were to press on its base, the delicate blood vessels of the latter would be crushed at once. The brain does not do this, but swims in the cerebral fluid and becomes thereby subject to a force of buoyancy. It loses as much of its weight as the weight of the fluid displaced. The fluid displaced weighs about 20 grammes less than the brain itself; therefore, the brain presses on its base with a weight only of 20 grammes. So we have a heavy brain that is however not borne down with its weight, but has buoyancy. In this buoyancy we live. Our ether body lives in the buoyancy. But when we with our ego organisation slip into our ether body, then our ego is within the buoyancy, not merely indirectly, but directly. We are in the buoyancy with our ego. Our human organisation stands, in fact, in connection with all the forces of the earth, with the whole physical world, and not indirectly, but directly.

Let us follow this out in more detail. Our ego organisation is connected, firstly, with gravity — that is, with the element of “earth”. For there is no such thing as what the physicists call matter. In reality there are only forces and the forces — as, for example, gravity (there are other forces too, of course; magnetic and electric forces are all alike in this, that the ego organisation is in direct connection with each one of them and, in the normal human being, is so during the whole of waking life. All that we include under the term “earth” is, really, these forces. Then the ego organisation stands in direct connection also with all that is comprised under the term “water” and is in a state of equilibrium; and it is moreover directly connected also with all that is of the nature of “air”, with all that is gaseous. You know how in physics one has to learn, in addition to ordinary mechanics, a hydro-mechanics and also an aero-mechanics, the reason being that the processes of equilibrium (in water) and the meteorological processes in the air have each their own peculiar character. Finally, the ego organisation is directly connected with a part of the all-pervading “warmth” through which we are continually moving as long as we live in the physical world.

   :   WATER
   :   WARMTH

I draw a line through the word “warmth”, because it is with a part of it only that the ego is connected. We wake up, and place ourselves with our ego organisation — place ourselves as spirit — into the world of earthly forces. Our connection with these forces is in reality not a physically mediated, but a magical connection, a magical connection however which can take effect only within a particular space — namely, within the boundaries of our organism. When you have begun to understand that this connection is not a physical, but a magical connection, then you have taken a good step forward.

Now let us pass on to the astral body. The astral body is also connected with certain forces that work upon us when we are awake, and here too the connection is direct — not indirect, not merely through the ether body. Among these forces we have again a part of the force of “warmth”. (You must remember, throughout, that the warmth element works in two directions; part of it reacts on the physical body, and part on the etheric body.) Then, the astral body is directly connected also with the forces of “light”. You must know however that what Spiritual Science speaks of as forces of light is not identical with what modern physics understands by the term. We do not want here to enter into a discussion of theories, but let me suggest the following. You look out upon the world around you, and perceive it all lit up. What enables you to do this? Something gives you the capacity to perceive the world illumined in this way, and it is something in the ether. Light is, in fact, an ether force. Modern science speaks of light as of something that is present where we see things illumined. Spiritual Science speaks of light in another way. It calls “light” that which underlies other sense-perceptions too; it speaks, for example, of the light of perceptions of sound. Present-day physics, when it speaks of perceptions of sound, is in reality speaking merely of their external correlate — namely, the vibration of the air. The movements in the air are but the medium of the real sound or tone, which is something etheric; the vibrating that goes on in the etheric brings about the vibration of the air. Light lives also in the perceptions of smell. In short, all perceptions have as their basis a light of a kind that is much more all-pervading than the light that is spoken of in the physics of the present day. I admit, people are liable to grow confused when we speak of light in this way. For, although it was so spoken of in ancient spiritual knowledge and even as late as the 12th and 13th centuries, all understanding of it was then lost and people began to use other names for it, which are still less intelligible! This is what makes all the alchemical books written after the 12th century so very difficult to follow. What is important for you, however, at the moment is to know that this is what we mean by “light”. Now the astral body is connected with this light; that is to say, it has direct relation — not indirect through the etheric body — with all that underlies sense-perception on the earth. This is a most interesting fact. Outside lives the light in the ether, but we have also the etheric within us. The light works upon our ether body. When we wake up, we not only come into connection with the light that is within us; but, turning aside as it were from the light that is within us, we member ourselves into the light that streams through the external world. It is the same with the external “chemical forces” that are at work in the world around us. Into these too we member ourselves, directly. And this is very important, for it means that, while he is awake, man is membered into a kind of cosmic chemistry. Modern science knows the chemistry of the lifeless, but has very little understanding of organic chemical processes; it has no knowledge at all of the chemistry that is a universal world-chemistry. And this cosmic chemistry it is, of which we become part and member when we awake from sleep. Similarly, we become part and member of the all-pervading cosmic life, the “life ether” — again, directly.

   :   WATER

All that we have been describing — necessarily only in outline — has to be achieved, has to be brought to fulfilment, while the human being is gradually building up, first his second body, and then his third. He has to dive down into himself, and through very penetration of his own being, immerse himself at the same time in the earthly-cosmic forces, the earthly-cosmic active forces. Entering into himself, he must in so doing be able to lay hold of the world.

In one domain, and in one only, modern science has still a clear perception of how things really are. In its study of the organisation of the eye, physics proceeds in a way that one could only wish might be followed in many domains. The eye is regarded, as you know, in physics as a contrivance, a mechanism, an instrument that works in accordance with the laws of physics. In order to come to a clear comprehension of the eye, the physicist makes drawings of it, in which he demonstrates the refraction of light through a lens, the formation of the objective picture, and so forth — the very same kind of drawings as he would make for a mechanical instrument. What the physicist is unable to do is to pass on then to the way in which the element of soul enters into this mechanical instrument. The whole thing is exceedingly interesting. The physicists have before them this complete picture of the eye. But there they come to a standstill. What they would like to do is to find their way to the element of soul through the brain. Just look at all their queer somersaults in thought, all those interesting, but in fact nonsensical theories of psycho-physical parallelism or interaction! The truth is that the ego organisation and the astral body come straight into the physical eye itself, the eye that we can draw and describe; there, within the eye, the ego and astral body take immediate hold of the physical. Nevertheless, just in the case of the eye, the scientists do, as you see, come very near understanding the true state of affairs. They can, in fact, hardly help doing so, owing to the peculiar seclusion of the eye; for the eye lies almost outside the body, it is built in from without during embryonic development. And so, in the case of the eye, a certain measure of understanding is attained. But the fact is, what is thus seen to be true of the eye holds good for the whole human organism. The whole human organism has to be understood in the light of an inner physics, a spiritual physics, a physics that allows for the subtle, more fleeting light-forces to be added to the earthly forces. We must learn to recognise the presence within the human organisation of something which comes in reality from the environment, something of which the soul-and-spirit of man lays hold, directly, notwithstanding that it is purely physical, having been constructed in accordance with the laws of physics.

But now, how will it be when abnormal conditions are present? It can quite well happen that in the case of some organ (it cannot be the whole organism) the human being has no possibility of making direct connection, by means of this organ, with the external world. The organ stands in the way, as it were, making it impossible for the human being to find contact with the external world via that organ. What will be the result? Let us take, for example, the lung. The lung may be so placed in the human organism that when the human being wakes up, he is not able to make contact with the external world. Imagine he is asleep. While he is asleep something happens in his lung which has the effect that if he were now to wake up, he would come down into the lung but would not be able to get out again, to get through to the external world. His ego and astral body would be under necessity to press into the lung, to squeeze themselves into it; but they would not be able to come forth again. What the human being should be able to do, as you know, is to come down with his astral body and then come forth again into the world in all directions. The lung should be merely the way through. But in this case, the lung does not provide any free passage; it holds fast the ego and astral body — that is to say, it will do so if the human being wakes up. The unfortunate thing is that when such a condition is present, he always does wake up. For, owing to the special way that the chemical processes are at work in such a case, and infiltration of some substance in fine distribution enters into the lung; the lung organisation which is already in some way misplaced, gets filled with a fine substance that has special affinity for it. The lung is then irregular; consequently the human being wakes up. But how? He wakes up, without gaining consciousness. In order to gain consciousness he would have to come forth from the lung; for he can acquire consciousness only when he has succeeded in penetrating right through. If he has merely come in, he wakes up; if he succeeds in pressing his way through, he gains consciousness. In the case we are considering, he stops short, he remains in the organ; and sleep which is healthy unconsciousness, passes over into pathological unconsciousness. The human being wakes up, but remains unconscious.

You see, we have come in this way to an exact description, drawn from within, of the condition of the epileptic. Epilepsy is just the condition I have been describing — and especially so in the years of childhood. The epileptic is able to dive down with his ego organisation and astral body into the physical body and ether body — that, he can do; but he does not come forth into the physical world, he is held fast within. Let us consider then how it will be if the astral body enters into the lung, and is held fast there, cannot get out again. The astral body will remain pressed against the surface of the lung; astral body and ego organisation will be, so to speak, damned up, congested beneath the surface of the organ. This condition then manifests outwardly as a fit. That is what fits really are. Every time a fit occurs, an inner congestion is taking place at the surface of one or other organ. These congestions are to be found, above all, in the brain. But we know how the parts of the brain are related to the other parts of the body; a congestion in the brain may be due entirely to the fact that congestion is present in the liver, or in the lung, in which case the cerebral congestion is only a projection, a feebler copy of the congestion in the bodily organ. Whenever a fit occurs, this congestion of ego organisation and astral body within an organ can be observed. And so we have at last found our way to the true cause of epileptic fits. Everything else that can be said about them amounts to no more than a description of the external phenomena. You see now how impossible it is to come to a true knowledge of epilepsy unless we are able to go beyond physical body and etheric body and take into account also ego and astral body. Nothing of any real value can be said about fits if we do not know that at the surface of some organ, astral body and ego organisation are being terribly squeezed and crushed. They cannot get out, they try to make their way out, they push and are held back.

And now you will naturally ask: What am I to do when symptoms of epilepsy show themselves in a child — lapses of consciousness, associated with fits, or other phenomena of which we have still to speak? What can one do in an individual case? You must investigate the case out of your own instinctive insight, you must put it to the test. Find out, to begin with, whether the disturbances in consciousness are nearly related to the phenomena of ordinary giddiness. In many epileptics this is decidedly the case. Phenomena of giddiness show themselves; one notices in the child a disposition or tendency to giddiness. If we should find that the gaps in consciousness are only brief, but that there are on the other hand very marked symptoms of giddiness, we would be able to know with certainty where the trouble lies. For in such a case, the ego organisation and the astral body would be failing to enter into direct relation with the forces of balance. You must, therefore, proceed first of all to investigate whether this is so in the child with whom you are dealing — namely, that the ego organisation and astral body do not make right connection with the forces of balance.

If you find this to be the case, let the child do gymnastics or Eurythmy, but giving him always at the same time objects to hold, such as dumb-bells or the like. Especially during the period between change of teeth and puberty are such exercises for balance important. If you give the child two dumb-bells of exactly the same weight — you must have them weighed on a chemical balance — and let him do exercises with them, making Eurythmy movements, or other gymnastic movements, this will be one thing achieved. Then you can go on to something else. Let the child hold in his left hand a dumb-bell that is lighter than the one in his right hand, and again let him do exercises; then let him take in his right hand a dumb-bell that is lighter than the one in his left, and once more do exercises. Then tie some object — it need not be particularly heavy — to one of his legs, and let him walk about with it, so that he becomes conscious of the force that is pulling at his leg. When he walks in the ordinary way, he is not conscious of the force of gravity. It is, however, important for him to place himself, with his ego organisation, right into the force of gravity. When you attach something to his leg, he at once becomes conscious of gravity. You can then hang the weight on to the other leg. And now, to produce an activity that comes nearer to the mental or spiritual, let him feel movements that he makes with his arms; let him think himself into a stretching movement made with the left arm, and then again into a stretching movement with the right arm; finally, with both arms at once. Another way of helping him to become conscious of gravity is to get him to lift one leg while keeping the other still. To sum up, in cases where you perceive, from the attacks of giddiness, that the child does not enter properly into the earthly forces, you get him to make movements in which he is obliged to learn control of his external balance. Similarly, you will find methods of treatment that will help epileptic and epileptoid children to adapt themselves to the other forces.

So you see, there is certainly something you can do. Good results can often be achieved also in the case of epileptics in whom you perceive that their circulatory system is disturbed, and that the whole way in which the fluids are circulating is really the cause of the phenomena. If you notice that in connection with the attacks of epilepsy (which take the form of fits and perhaps also of giddiness), feelings of sickness or nausea are present, then you will know that you have to do with an incapacity to combine properly with the element of water. In such a case it will be good to bring the watery element as much as possible to the notice of the child, before he receives it into his organism. Try to prepare the child's food in such a way that he tastes it quite specially. Something could also be achieved by letting the child learn to swim. Learning to swim is very good for epileptics; only, we must understand what is involved and be intelligent and sensible in the use of such a treatment.

When cloudings of consciousness occur unaccompanied by any marked feeling of nausea, carefully regulated breathing exercises are not bad, in order to restore connection with the air. And to establish a right connection with warmth, we should accustom epileptic children — really all children, but particularly epileptics — to feel the warmth. It is, as a matter of fact, quite wrong to allow any child to go about half naked, with nothing on his legs, and is often the cause in later life — only, people do not know it — of irritation of the appendix and even appendicitis; for epileptic children it is a downright poison. Epileptic children should be clothed in such a way as to induce a tendency to sweating; sweating should be always mildly present in them in nascent state. They should, in fact, be a little too warmly clad. This is real therapy. All the talk we hear nowadays about “hardening” — to what does it lead in the end? People who have been thoroughly hardened as children, when they grow old, cannot even walk across a sunbeaten market square without tottering. A person has not been made hardy if he cannot walk safely over a sunbeaten pavement. Watch some old man taking off his hat while he is walking across an open square on a hot summer afternoon! You are afraid his knees will give way any minute. Such, as a rule, are the consequences of this modern hardening.

So far we have been considering mainly the things that in early childhood lead the ego organisation into the elements into which it needs to be led. Here however begins the sphere where the doctor must come in, and co-operate with the teacher. For we shall not get to the heart of the trouble, when epileptic phenomena are present, without employing remedies, nor should we shrink from doing so. As soon as the epileptic phenomena show signs that the astral body is involved — that is to say, that the higher elements, the ether elements, are holding up the astral body from penetrating to the external world — then naturally it is upon these higher elements in the human being that we must work. And it will be a question of finding the way to do this. But first of all we have of course to be able to recognise whether the astral body is involved or not. How can we know whether the astral body is involved?

Anyone who has observed many epileptic children, or many children with a tendency to epilepsy, will have noticed two conditions which differ very considerably from one another. There is, first, the condition where the child does not defy moral judgements; he adapts himself to the moral and ethical standards that one would desire to impart to every child. When we have to do with epileptic or epileptoid children who readily adapt themselves in this way to the moral order, then the indications that have already been given will perhaps suffice. But if we have to do with children who are not accessible to moral influence, who, for example, readily become violent during their attacks — for epileptic attacks may disguise themselves as outbursts of violence of which the child has afterwards no memory — if, in short, there seem to be moral defects, then it is important to intervene in early childhood with actual remedies. In these cases, we shall quite definitely try to fight the epilepsy with the remedies that are in general use for the purpose, or with remedies prescribed by us under certain conditions, remedies like sulphur or belladonna — thus entering here upon a systematic therapy. As to this more medical part of the treatment, we shall be speaking of it later. Today I want only to show you how the things we can perceive externally in the child may be a sign to us that we need to pass from the more educational treatment to the more medical. There will, in fact, be some epileptic children who are thoroughly well adapted to fit into the external world, and with whom we shall have on this account actually to avoid the use of external methods and exercises, and work primarily by means of internal therapy.

This brings us at the same time to the point where epileptic phenomena pass over quite naturally into other phenomena. You remember what I said yesterday, that thoughts cannot themselves really ever be false; and today I have been speaking more fully of the way in which the human being members the thoughts into his organism. For, a phenomenon like that of the astral body becoming congested in the lung is due to the fact that the thought of the lung has not been properly membered into the organism. All such phenomena are accordingly due to defects of thought! They are the result of our being unable, as we descend into our organism, to gain the control of it that we require to gain in order that we may be able to build it up a second time. But now, we bring with us also our will nature, that is distributed over the several organs; we bring it with us from our former earthly life. And whereas the thoughts cannot of themselves be false, but are always true and correct — that they appear distorted in us is due entirely to our own organism; and this, as we have seen, can go so far that organs framed by such thoughts are liable to be distorted in their structure — whereas the thoughts cannot be false, of the will we have on the contrary to say that when it comes from pre-earthly into earthly existence, it hardly can be right and true. It arrives in complete uncertainty and has to build itself up within the thought system. Of the thought system we can say with truth that never in all the world is it wrong; on the other hand, it is scarcely possible for the will system to be in any way right unless we ourselves take it in hand. We invariably bring into the world a faulty will system, consequently we never under any circumstances descend to earth to become physical human beings, bringing with us morality.

We have to acquire morality, little by little. The morality we had in our last incarnation we used up between death and new birth, when we were engaged in that wisdom filled building activity; we spent it all before we came to birth. Ethics and morality have to be acquired anew in each single earthly life. This has a very significant result, namely, that inasmuch as we come from pre-earthly existence without morality, we have to develop intelligence in our will. We enter with our will into our organs, and in our will we must develop intelligence for what is brought to us in the way of ethics and morality. We must develop a “sense” for it.

It is quite wonderful, how moral and ethical impulses pour into the child when he is learning to speak! For imitation reaches into the most intimate things of life, and it is exceedingly important that we be conscious of this; we must never forget it. If teachers and parents in the environment of the child are immoral, if their talk is immoral, then not what they do outwardly, but the immoral quality and import of what they say and are, will be imitated in the deep inner organisation of the child. Here too, you see, it is once more a question of the human being's entering into connection with the external world, but this time via the whole organism, not by way of the single organs. And if there is again congestion, it will arise from the fact that, whereas in the previous case we failed to come forth in every direction with our thoughts, this time we fail to come forth with our will. And the failure to press through with the will finds expression in moral defects. You see now what are the inner causes of moral defects. These occur, namely, when what enters in from pre-earthly existence and should find its way through to an ethical and moral relation to the world around us, gets stopped up or congested in the whole human organism. For we should be able to receive into us the ethical and moral principles of the world around us; but this we cannot do if there is this congestion, if we come to a standstill with our spirit and soul, remaining within the physical organisation, unable to push our way through.

We are here right in the sphere of the moral and ethical in human life; and we must be clear what that means. When you meet with the characteristic phenomena of epilepsy, then you will have to make your diagnosis from the symptoms I have indicated — attacks of giddiness, obliteration of consciousness, etc. — that is, you will make your diagnosis from transitory phenomena of this kind. If, however, you want to be able to recognise moral defects, you will have to think, not of passing temporary symptoms, but of permanent symptoms. The really serious disturbances — what can cause these to arise? Everything is conditioned, of course, by karma. We have accordingly to speak of two aspects of a human being. There is his physical and mental constitution that shows itself to us when we meet him; and then we have to discern within this the working of his karma.

Suppose the embryo lies in such a way in the organism of the mother that there is pressure at a certain point, and the brain, when it is formed, is narrow in comparison with the rest of the organisation. What can we observe as a result of this? If those influences from the brain which are of particular importance between the ages of seven and fourteen proceed from a brain that is too narrow, they become disturbed and congested, and a reflection of the pressure and congestion makes its appearance in the functioning of the spleen. And then in consequence of this kind of congestion the child will develop no feeling of any kind of moral principle or standard. Just as colours are simply not there for the man who is colour-blind, so the moral and ethical impulses contained in our words, when we speak in admonishment or reproof, are simply not there for such a child. He has been rendered morally blind. And we have then the task of dispelling this moral blindness.

We shall find, if we proceed carefully in our investigation, that external deformations can never fail to be for us most significant symptoms. Although there will always be a great deal to be said against the charlatan phrenology that is commonly practiced, a genuine phrenology really should be studied by anyone who wants to form his conclusions correctly about moral defects. For it is indeed most interesting to see how moral defects which are connected with karma are forces of such strength that they manifest themselves quite unmistakably in deformations of the physical organism. And whenever we find in a child this evidence of what may be described as karmically conditioned immorality, there is a special call for us to come in with our curative education. If we bring with us to our work the qualities of which we were speaking yesterday — inner courage, readiness to face decisions — then we shall be able to imbue the warnings and admonitions that we have to give with the requisite inner strength. For we need inner strength and power, in order to give our admonitions in the right way. That healing is possible is clear from the following example which I have often quoted. A German poet, who had already made his name, went once to a professional phrenologist. The latter was expecting to make all kinds of interesting discoveries, but all of a sudden, when he touched a certain place on the poet's head, he turned deathly pale and could not trust himself to speak. And as; a rule he would become quite talkative if he found anything of interest. The poet began to laugh and said: “I know what it is, you have found the tendency to thieving; and I did have it quite strongly.” The phrenologist had in fact discovered that the man could have become a kleptomaniac. He had however transformed his kleptomania into the art of writing poetry.

Matters of this kind have to be approached in the manner I explained yesterday. We must not be so ready as we usually are, to jump to conclusions. For it is, you see, like this. Man develops his human qualities mainly in two directions — towards the pole of thought and ideation and the forming of mental pictures, and towards the pole of will. Now as for the mental process, the thought process — that is ill if it is not a thief, and a persistent thief too! The brain-mental-organisation, the whole life of ideas, has to be a downright thief and apply no moral considerations whatever in connection with what it must and should receive. It must have the intention and habit of acquiring everything for itself. And it will even be found that there is a tendency to epilepsy or to some other illness, if the mental organisation does not snatch and grab at things in all directions. But this aptitude for thieving must not, for heaven's sake, slip down into the will organisation! The will has to be modest and restrained. It has to be sensitive, and have a feeling for “mine and thine” — a feeling which develops only gradually in contact with life in the outside world. The animals, who live more in the life of mental pictures than man does, would starve if they did not possess the habit of acquisitiveness, the impulse to get everything for themselves. These things need to be understood. But in man the propensity must not be allowed to find its way down into the will-organisation, it must remain in the finer, mental-picture-forming activity. If the astral infiltration of our brain (if I may so express it), which is, as we said, entirely justified in seeking to acquire everything for itself — if this astral infiltration makes its way down into the metabolism-and-limbs organisation or into the rhythmic system, then the urge to seize hold of everything for itself begins to manifest in the will. The urge may at first show itself in a comparatively harmless manner. You may notice a child beginning to take whatever he can lay hands on, gradually piling up for himself a little store or collection. Naturally one tries to check such a habit whenever it begins to show itself, and so it does not assume large proportions. We must accustom ourselves however to detect the tendency. As a rule of course the child does not achieve his end, because someone starts thrashing him. But we must be on the watch for this predisposition, we must take careful note of any inclination on the part of a child to collect things, to save up things for himself. And we must be sensitive for the point at which the tendency begins to be pathological; for if it goes beyond a certain limit, it becomes pathological.

People who follow the ordinary, conventional standards, have no judgement as to how far collecting may legitimately go — unless some particular occasion brings it home to them. One can be an exceptionally proper and correct person in every way, and collect postage-stamps; the collecting mania is here relatively harmless. If however a child begins, in imitation, to do the same kind of thing, you may take it as a sign that he has pushed down this quality of acquisitiveness into the sphere of the will. And then it is important that you should take particular care to see whether you have here to do with moral defects that are due to the working of karma. You should be able to discover for yourselves whether this is so, in the light of the connections I indicated yesterday. You will then have to approach the child with this understanding in your soul, and to proceed to educate him morally and ethically, doing it as effectively as you can, and with the utmost inner vitality — never in a dull or heavy manner! Working thus with inner vitality, you will make up stories in which the kind of thing the child does is carried to an absurdity. You will tell him a story about stealing, and you will go on doing this again and again. In this way you will actually intervene in the child's karma, you will be working right into his karma.

If we are really awake and “on the spot”, following with intense interest, in each individual case, to see just how the child does the things, then we shall be doing curative educational work of a kind that can remain in the sphere of the moral and ethical. Every kleptomaniac is exceedingly interesting. Qualities which are in their right place in the sphere of ideas have, you see, sunk down, in such a child, they have gone right into his toes, into his finger-tips. Naturally we must know this if we want to educate him. Under some circumstances it will even be good to introduce into the stories gestures that come natural to the kleptomaniac himself. We must transplant ourselves wholly into the particular case we are dealing with, and then invent legends or tales in which the things that are done by the child are shown to end in absurdity.

Think over all that I have been saying. Later on, we shall show you some kleptomaniacs. Think it over well, and you will see how, when such an understanding is present, the diagnosis itself can lead us straight on to the therapy.

Last Modified: 03-Jul-2017
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