Can you have a tumor in your feeling life?

There is a very unusual description of a tumor in
anthroposophic medicine.  It comes from
some comments made by Rudolf Steiner, who helped to found anthroposophic
medicine with a group of physicians about 100 years ago.  It says that a tumor is a “sense organ”—like
an eye or an ear—in the “wrong place.” 
That sounds very bizarre, until you start to spend some time thinking
about the process, the activity of a sense organ, which is create a space where
the outside world can penetrate into us, undisturbed.  Our eye, or our ear, should accurately convey
our surroundings without altering them. 
That is not the only way the outside world comes in: we breathe air, but
warm and humidify it, and what we breathe in is different than what we breathe
out; we take in food, but it is (necessarily) radically transformed through our
digestion.  Our sense impressions,
however, really should come in without disruption or distortion.   So our eyes, and our ears and our
smell,  can truly be thought of as little
“harbors” where the outside world comes into us.


What we do with these sensory impressions varies.  Some we take deeply inside and make our own,
such that we go through a kind of intellectual or emotional digestion of our
experiences.  It is very possible to
learn facts by rote memory, and be able to parrot them back without really
understanding their significance or application.  But that kind of learning is very short-lived
(like cramming for a test the night before the exam, and having forgotten it
all two days later).  What you have
really worked through and understood in a deeper way, however, becomes your
own.  It is yours.  And that usually stays with you for
years.  An emotional experience works
similarly—some are met and let go of quickly without much consciousness.  Others resonate very deeply and sculpt who we
are as individual human beings.  Real
learning comes when we take those important experiences in and work them
through, both those that are joyful and those that bring pain.  It is related to the distinction between
being “conscious” and being “self-conscious.” 
When we are merely conscious the sense impression from the outside comes
in and we are aware of it, though we may not act on it.  But when we take the time to see how we are
in that interaction, and see what we do (or don't do), we can learn from it and
truly make it our own (hopefully thereby learning to prioritize the things that
make us happy and connected, and avoiding the patterns that are destructive or


Now, there are certain times in life when an experience is
so strong that when it comes in we are not able to quickly let go (it is not
trivial in that way), but we are also not able to fully take it in and do
something with it.  Instead it gets “tucked
away.”  It becomes something that we
are conscious of on a deeper level–we are still holding it–but we don’t have
the time, energy, or tools to know what to actually do with it.  An event from the outside world is inside of
us, but not really yet part of us.  We
could use the word “harbor” again, but really a better word might be “hole” or
“vacuum” because a part of our feeling life becomes walled off, separated out,
and is not incorporated into our healthy feeling life.  If this same process happens on the level of
our organs and tissues–that a part of us becomes separated off, holding its
own process and not being incorporated into the healthy physiology of our
body–that actually gives us a functional kind of definition for a tumor.  It is in us, of us, but not part of us in a
healthy way.  And as there are known
immunologic connections between our feeling life and our bodily health, it is
not good to carry around these “not us” experiences in our soul life if we can
avoid them.  This should please not be
interpreted to mean that someone you know, who has a tumor, has developed it as
a result of an imbalance in their feeling life. 
But it does mean that when we have a tumor, or we are wishing to prevent
a tumor, working on our soul life and working to warm and integrate all the
aspects of our life is helpful. 
Mistletoe extracts are often given as a supportive anthroposophic
treatment for cancer.  Rudolf Steiner
described mistletoe’s activity as “creating a mantle of warmth around the
tumor” which helps it to be met by the immune system and transformed so that it
can reintegrate into the whole.


The work of creating a “mantle of warmth” around our
experiences comes not through reliving painful past events, but by growing our
healthy sense of self for the future. 
Three resources that can be helpful:


Dr. Blanning

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