What is it that is not well in a mentally ill person?

What is unwell in a mentally ill person?  In the case of someone who is mentally ill it is the body that actually is sick; the body is unable to use the soul and the spirit in the right way. In the case of someone of whom it is said that he is mentally ill, it is always the physical body that in reality is ill; when the brain is not able to function in the right way it is understood that the person concerned will not be able to think normally. In the same way the feelings of a person with a sick liver cannot function in the normal way.

And so to call someone “spiritually ill” (in German it is called Geisteskrank) is actually the most incorrect expression to use. Someone, of whom it is said that he is mentally ill, actually suffers from a bodily ailment. The body is so ill, that the spirit, which is never ill, cannot be utilised in the right way.

Above all, you must clearly understand that the spirit is always healthy. Only the body can get sick in such a way that it cannot take hold of the spirit in the right way. If someone has an ailing brain it is the same as when someone uses a hammer that keeps on breaking when he uses it. If I call someone who does not have a hammer lazy and tells him he is incapable to function as a woodworker, it goes without saying that I am talking nonsense. He might be able to function as a woodworker if he had a hammer at his disposal. In the same way it is utter nonsense to say that someone is mentally ill. The spirit is perfectly healthy, but his body, his tool, lets him down.


Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 350 – VORTRÄGE FÜR DIE ARBEITER AM GOETHEANUMBAU – Dornach, 28th June 1923 (page 144-145)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on July 6, 2015

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Present-day knowledge considers only the outside

In relation to obtaining knowledge of the human being nowadays, it must be said, that it is as if people attempt to understand how a watch works, by only looking at it from the outside. One can learn how it indicates time by looking at it, one can also get to know whether it is made of gold or silver, but one cannot become a watchmaker by observing it from the outside. What we currently call biology, physiology or anatomy, is still only knowledge obtained by way of observing the human being from the outside. A true understanding of human nature will only arise through observing body, soul and spirit. And only then can the human being be treated according to knowledge of body, soul and spirit.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 303 – Die gesunde Entwickelung des Menschenwesens -Eine Einführung in die anthroposophische Pädagogik und Didaktik – Dornach, January 2,  1922 (page 199)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on August 1, 2017

Theories have no practical value

Nowadays people feel pleased with themselves when they hear Goethe’s maxim: matter in spirit, spirit in matter. – It is good that people feel comfortable with this saying, because after all, it really corresponds to reality. But for those who are used to seeing the spiritual and the physical together everywhere, it can also be a triviality, if one exhorts him to recognise that which is a matter-of fact truth. And when people feel so pleased with such a theoretical aphorism that is drawn up for them, it just proves that they do not themselves possess the reality that is expressed in the theory. As a rule, categorically stated theories are proof that we have not made it our own in practical life, as history shows. People only started to discuss theories about the Lord’s Supper, when they no longer could muster the necessary feeling for it in practice. Theories are generally drawn up for what we do not have in life, not for what we do have.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 303 – Die gesunde Entwickelung des Menschenwesens -Eine Einführung in die anthroposophische Pädagogik und Didaktik – Dornach, 28 December 1921 (page 103-104)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on July 8, 2017

The theories are very ingenious and astute, but cannot grasp reality

These days human beings speak of the soul and the spirit, for sure; they speak of the body and its physical qualities. And then great philosophies on the relationship between soul and body are engendered. There exist comprehensive theories by the cleverest people. The theories are ingenious, very perceptive, but they cannot grasp reality, for the simple reason that the only way to grasp reality is when the whole human being, the all-inclusive human being, can be seen in direct perception, when the interweaving activity of both the spiritual-psychic and corporal-physical is considered. And the person who truly contemplates contemporary perceptions grasped by humanity, will likewise discover how grey and hazy both outer and inner human knowledge is.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 303 – Die gesunde Entwickelung des Menschenwesens – Eine Einführung in die anthroposophische Pädagogik und Didaktik – Dornach, 28 December 1921 (page 102-103)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on June 21, 2017

Thinking and manual work

I know that I would not have acquired the insights which I today represent with full responsibility for the world, if I had solely worked with the head and not performed my whole life what is commonly known as handwork, because working with the hands, after all, also has a certain effect on the human being.  The so-called headwork alone, which only occupies the intellect, does not reach the spirit.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 333 – Gedankenfreiheit und soziale Kräfte – Stuttgart, December 19, 1919 (page 102)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on October 12, 2016