Mental diseases (1 of 3)

It is folly simply to use the expression “mental disease”; the spirit is always healthy, and cannot fall sick in the true sense of the term. To talk of mental diseases is sheer nonsense. What happens is that the spirit’s power of expression is disturbed by the bodily organism, as distinct from a disease of the spirit or the soul itself. The manifestations in question are symptoms, and symptoms only.

Now one must sharpen one’s eye for the concrete separate symptoms. Perhaps you will be in a position to see the primary tendency or disposition, and then the further development of, for example, a religious mania: — of course the technical terms here are none of them precise. There is great confusion of terminology in this field, but let us for the moment use an accepted term. As I have said, these manifestations are only symptoms. But let us assume that this condition develops — we must be able to form some picture of how it develops. And, having found this picture, we shall require to keep a sharp look-out for any abnormalities in the formative process of the lung of those individuals who display this symptom of “religious mania.” Note; not anomalies in the process of breathing but in the process of lung formation, in the pulmonary metabolism.

For even the current term “brain disease” is not wholly correct; “mental disease” is a wholly false and misleading term, and “brain disease” at least half mistaken; for all phenomena of cerebral degeneration are secondary. The primary elements are never manifested in the upper organic sphere, always in the lower. The primary factors always lie in the organs belonging to the four main groups or systems, the liver, kidneys, heart and lung systems. In the case of an individual inclined to those forms of insanity in which all interest in the external world and active life dies out, and man begins to brood and follows delusions, it is before all things necessary to obtain precise knowledge of the pulmonary process. This is extremely important.

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 312 – Spiritual Science and Medicine: Lecture XIII – Dornach, 2nd April, 1920