Three Paragraph Newsletter, November 2012
This question strikes at the very heart of anthroposophic medicine, because the answer is: yes! This is done out of the fundamental understanding that the human being's physical body is indeed a miraculous structural and biochemical organization. But there is more to a person than the physical body with its bones, muscles and organs, and this “more” can be observed and worked with. This larger perspective is actually part of almost every healing tradition around the world–what makes anthroposophic medicine unique is that it is trying to bridge that broader spiritual understanding with modern scientific insights. Everyone who practices anthroposophic medicine has done a full conventional medical training, and then does extra study and training to incorporate a truly holistic picture (body, soul and spirit) into medicine.
Can this be put into practical use? Again, yes. Larger perspectives allow for the opportunity to frame a particular problem or symptom in a larger context. Sometimes the larger context is the continuing rhythms of biographical growth and crisis (such as feelings of isolation, or fear of death or injury that come consistently at age nine when a child appropriately becomes more self-aware, or the desire to get practical and really commit to certain aspects of life like location, vocation, and relationship around the biographical node at age 28). Sometimes the context is the body as a whole, seeing that there is one process showing up in multiple situations (like a tendency to tighten or cramp, which can be seen in anxiety, asthma, abdominal or menstrual cramps, tics, trembling upon waking or trouble falling asleep). Sometimes the context is inside and outside (like an inner organ and an outer behavior, because a heart imbalance can bring rage and/or guilt; a liver problem heavy, stagnant, molasses-like depressions). Creating a holistic picture of the situation helps open up new methods of treatment.
Anthroposophic treatments try to address each person on an individual basis, because no two situations are quite alike. The treatments are really seeking to treat the whole person. These treatments include conversation (respecting you as a person, and not just a body part, is the first aspect), natural and homeopathic medicines (because there are parallels between processes within the body and the processes found outside in the world of nature, which are very helpful for addressing an imbalanced function), as well as therapeutic eurythmy (a kind of movement therapy), rhythmical massage (which is very light in touch, but provokes deep changes) and art therapy (exploring the relationships of light, color and darkness). The ultimate goal for all of the therapies is to open a door so that something new can happen. It's very different from focusing only on the removal of symptoms. It takes time to understand each situation and then some commitment and participation to make a change. But its a possibility that we feel is important to try to offer to the world. In fact in Italy, anthroposophic medicine has been recognized as a distinct medical specialty (like neurology, cardiology, or dermatology)!