Mental Illnesses / Heredity

People are surprised that mental illnesses are hereditary. In fact, mental illnesses are always based on physical ailments; they arise from a malfunctioning of the body. Neither the spirit nor the soul can fall ill. Though mental illnesses are always rooted in physical problems, people wonder how they can occur through heredity, which indeed they can do. If a parent, particularly the mother, suffers from tuberculosis or another disease like arteriosclerosis, which admittedly occurs rarely in younger persons, the children do not necessarily become afflicted with these illnesses but instead can suffer from mental deficiencies. 

People are surprised about this, but need it puzzle us, gentlemen? Whatever the child can inherit must be inherited first of all from its head. Therefore, if the mother is consumptive, one need not be surprised that her condition is not passed on to the lungs of the unborn child, which, after all, are not even functioning yet. The condition is rather carried over into the head and comes to expression in the brain. 

Thus, nobody should be surprised that the disease inherited is quite different from that of the parent. Venereal disease, for example, can appear in children as an eye disease. It is no wonder, for when the child’s head is developing, its eyes are exposed to what afflicts the parents; its eyes are in an environment that’s venereally diseased! So it is not at all surprising.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 348 – Health and Illness I: Lecture II: Illnesses Occurring in the Different Periods of Life – Dornach, October 24, 1922

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The images of feelings and passions

Feelings and passions are (in the astral world) expressed by plant and animal forms. When man begins to behold his passions in the astral world he sees them as animal forms. These forms proceed from himself, but he sees them as if they were assailing him. This is because his own being is objectivised — otherwise he could not behold himself. Thus it is only in the astral world that man learns true self knowledge in contemplating the images of his passions in the animal forms which hurl, themselves upon him. A feeling of hatred entertained against another being appears as an attacking demon.

This astral self-knowledge occurs in an abnormal way in those who are troubled with psychical illnesses which consist in constant visions of being pursued by animals and menacing entities. The sufferers are seeing the mirror images of their emotions and desires.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 –  An Esoteric Cosmology – Lecture IX: The Astral World – Paris, 2nd June 1906

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on July 31, 2016

In the woods there are wild animals, but sometimes they are also somewhere else…

Feelings and passions are (in the astral world) expressed by plant and animal forms. When man begins to behold his passions in the astral world he sees them as animal forms. These forms proceed from himself, but he sees them as if they were assailing him. This is because his own being is objectivised — otherwise he could not behold himself. Thus it is only in the astral world that man learns true self knowledge in contemplating the images of his passions in the animal forms which hurl, themselves upon him. A feeling of hatred entertained against another being appears as an attacking demon.

This astral self-knowledge occurs in an abnormal way in those who are troubled with psychical illnesses which consist in constant visions of being pursued by animals and menacing entities. The sufferers are seeing the mirror images of their emotions and desires.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 94 –  An Esoteric Cosmology – Lecture IX: The Astral World – Paris, 2nd June 1906

Translated by Rene Querido

Previously posted on May 20, 2014