October 7, 1917
“The time will come – and it may not be far off – when quite different tendencies will come up at a congress like the one held in 1912 and people will say: It is pathological for people to even think in terms of spirit and soul.
‘Sound’ people will speak of nothing but the body. It will be considered a sign of illness for
anyone to arrive at the idea of any such thing as a spirit or a soul. People who think like that will be considered to be sick and – you can be quite sure of it – a medicine will be found for this. . . .
The soul will be made non-existent with the aid of a drug. Taking a ‘sound point of view,’ people will invent a vaccine to influence the organism as early as possible, preferably as soon as it is born, so that this human body never even gets the idea that there is a soul and spirit.
Rudolf Steiner on Traditional Childhood Illnesses and Vaccines
Rudolf Steiner on Traditional Childhood Illnesses and VaccinesCompiled by David AdamsThe following quotations include virtually all of the references to these topics I was able to find in English translation. Rudolf Steiner generally portrayed the traditional childhood diseases as signs, aids, trials, and accompaniments of the natural process of child development and maturing immune systems. He helps us to understand their deeper meaning and management within human development. Probably because vaccines for suppressing these diseases were far less common, varied, and widespread in Steiner’s day, he says comparatively little about them –with one particularly significant warning for the future in the final quotation. Although I checked several German indexes of Steiner’s work to try to make sure I found everything, I no doubt have missed at least one or two references or private conversations. Please let me know of any you know about. firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Measles –Scarlet FeverPolarityFrom Course for Young Doctors(Spring Valley, NY: Mercury Press, 1994: GA 316), pp. 128-133.0Also translated as: Understanding Healing: Meditative Reflections on Deepening Medicine through Spiritual Science(Forest Row: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2013; GA 316).April 21, 1924129 –“. . . To begin with, the cosmos is copied. This is what the human being wants, in reality, to do when he has come down from the pre-earthly into earthly existence. Why does he not do it? Because a model is already provided. And in accordance with this model, with the substances received, he transforms the pre-earthly during the first seven years of life. His inherent tendency would be to form a more spherical being, a being organized into a sphere. This is transformed in accordance with the model and so the pre-earthly forces work out this second physical man who is there from the seventh to the fourteenth years, but to begin with by adhering to the model which comes from the forces of heredity.”130 –“In the first [seven-year] life-period, therefore, there is a perpetual struggle between what comes from us out of the previous incarnation and what comes from hereditary development [“the model”]; the two elements fight with each other. The illnesses of childhood are the expression of this fight. Justthink how intimately the whole inner being of soul and spirit is bound up with the physical organization during early childhood. When the second teeth appear you can see how they push up against the first, how they still have tussles with each other, and in this same way the whole second man has tussles with the first. But within the second man there is the super-earthly being; in the first a foreign, earthly model. These two work into each other, and if you observe this inter-working truly, you can see how, if the inner man who as a being of soul and spirit was present in pre-earthly existence, has too much the upper hand for a time, working into the physical very strongly and having, willy nilly, to adjust itself by dint of effort to the model, that it damages the model by striking up against it everywhere, saying: I want to get this particular form out of you –then the fight expresses itself as scarlet fever. If the inner man is tender, so that there is a continual shrinking back, a wish to mold the in-taken substances more in accordance with their own nature, and resistance is put up to the model, the struggle comes out as measles. What is, in reality, a mutual struggle expresses itself in the illnesses of childhood.”131-132 –“. . . The fact is that one being is weaker, directs himself more in accordance with the forces of heredity, builds up the second man with a greater resemblance to the model. This naturally comes out in the appearance, but the same thing has been going on when the being has adjusted itself more in accordance with the model. On the other hand, there are human beings who after the change of teeth become very unlike what they were before. In such cases what comes from the pre-earthly life of soul and spirit is strong and they adhere less to the model.”132 –“Everything that has to be taken in [during the first seven years] must, in the first place, be taken in by the child and elaborated inwardly in such a way that the ego and astral body enter into intimate contact with the foodstuffs. Later on this need not be the case any longer. . . . During those years he must work up in his ego and astral body everything he takes in . . . in such a way that it can be molded in accordance with the model. This process must be helped; and the world has arranged for it, inasmuch as milk is able to bear a very great resemblance indeed to an etheric structure. Milk is a substance which really still has an etheric body and because this substance, when it is taken by the child, still works up into the etheric, the astral body is able at once to take hold of the milk and then there can arise the close inner contact between what is thus taken in and the astral body and ego organization. . . .“In the whole way in which the child drinks milk you can actually see how his astral body and his ego are taking hold of the milk –you can see it with our very eyes. . . . Picture to yourselves how the being of spirit and soul comes down and makes its way to the physical foodstuff, ignoring the model to begin with,and then picture what is going on between the being of spirit and soul and the foodstuff –a process that is now directed in accordance with the forms contained in the model. If you form a true picture of an excessively strong working of the spirit and soul, the picture crystallizes into that of scarlet fever. A picture of a too feeble working of the spirit and soul, which wavers, in fact of the model, becomes the picture of measles. If you picture these things in meditation you carry over ordinary meditation into medical meditation. . . .“You cannot notice this process in a grown-up person. The digestive tract takes over the food stuffs –it is a process transacted inwardly, whereas in the child, astral body and ego take over the foodstuffs.”Childhood Illnesses, Rickets, Phosphorous and the UterusFrom The Healing Process: Spirit, Nature and Our Bodies(Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 2000; GA 319), pp. 172-173.August 29, 1924172 –“When a child enters the world, the astral body and I come from the spiritual world, while the physical and etheric bodies come from heredity, from the child’s ancestors. A struggle takes place as these two elements attempt to merge. The various types of childhood diseases are outer manifestations of this struggle. We see childhood diseases in the right light only when we view them as the attempt of the eternal core of an individual’s being to adapt to what heredity has provided. Especially when the ether body has difficulty adapting to the astral body and the I-being, we see illnesses developing as a consequence of the ether body’s preponderance over the approaching I and astral body. Rickets is an expression of the ether body’s predominance –its resistance to the invaders, as it were.“Tracing the spiritual aspect in addition to the physical allows us to discover specific means of negating the power of the ether body that blocks the astral body. What deprives the ether body of this power in the normal course of events, as an individual gradually approaches the physical world from the spiritual world during the embryonic period? When we study this period, we discover a specific relationship between forces present in phosphorous or its compounds and forces in the uterus that resist embryonic development. If these forceswere not present in the uterus, every child would develop rickets. The uterus contains the same type of forces that are present in the outer, natural world in the mineral substance phosphorous and its compounds. Thus, the uterus constantly works like a physician to prevent rickets. Once we have understood these revealed mysteries, we will be able to treat rickets with phosphorous in the outer world after birth to compensate for insufficient phosphorous effects in utero.”Scarlet Fever, Interventions, Etc.in the First 2-3 YearsFrom Soul Economy and Waldorf Education(Spring Valley, NY: Anthroposophic Press, 1986; GA 303), p. 109-110, 112.109-110 –“If we wish to find out what the soul of a child is like between birth and the seventh year, we have to observe the child’s development from the seventh year onward. For then, in the child’s soul, we are able to observe the very same forces which previously were active in its physical organization. And we shall find that their hidden organic activity of moldingand shaping the child’s brain as well as its remaining organization is of a very special significance. For, through birth or conception, the child carries down into its physical organization what it has brought with it from the worlds of soul and spirit.“When the child is thus fully engaged in building up its physical organs, it must be left free to do so and consequently, the doors leading to the outer world remain closed. It is essential that we refrain from interfering in our clumsy ways with these inner activities of the child, for it is doing what it has to do, with the effect that it is not accessible to external will forces.“. . . we must never forget that what will work in the realm of the child’s soul after the seventh year is directly involved in the organ-building processes before that age. This means that up to the seventh year any impressions coming from the outer world will directly affects its physical constitution –the lungs, stomach, liver and all kinds of other organs. . . . will have a decisive effect upon its future constitution of health or illness.”112 –“What the child learns during the first two-and-a-half year period is of utmost importance for its whole life. It does so, through an inward-bound activity, out of what it hasbrought with it from its prenatal existence. Only consider how during the this first short period the child learns to speak and to walk, the two human faculties closely connected with an individual’s maintaining a proper self-confidence, both from a personal and a social point of view. These two importance faculties are achieved while the etheric body is still engaged in shaping the brain and while it is still raying out into the remaining organism. If these etheric forces ray out too strongly into the remaining organism so that they disturb the infant’s still delicate processes of metabolism, of breathing and blood circulation, if they surge too powerfully within the baby’s organism, scarlet fever and kindred children’s illnesses may occur already at this young age. Fundamentally speaking, through all that is at work within a child at that stage, the child remains inaccessible to any conscious and will-directed approaches or demands coming from outside. It wants to be left to work on its own organism.”Diphtheria, Influenza, Measles, Scarlet Fever, etc.FromComets to Cocaine: Answers to Questions (London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000; GA 348), pp. 237-251January 20, 1923237 -. . . the flu . . . is related to all the diseases, such as bronchitis, that can afflict the human head or the organs of the upper chest, but I will refer particularly to illnesses such as diphtheria and influenza that are so widely prevalent just now. These diseases afflict the upper part of the human body, and they have a definitepeculiarity. They can best be studied by examining diphtheria; here one really can learn the most.“. . . When I see people suffering from influenza, I must always turn my attention to something other than the symptoms that the doctors pay heed to, because the flu is actually a kind of brain illness. The flu is really an illness of the brain! I shall say more about this later.“The following points must especially be taken into consideration regarding diphtheria. First, if you look at a child suffering from diphtheria –adults can also suffer from it, you know –you can see a membrane in the throat. (238) This membrane, this formation of tissue, is usually what can cause suffocation in diphtheria. . . . The second thing one notices in diphtheria is that the heart of a diphtheria patients is always attacked. The heart does not function properly. The third aspect of diphtheria is that even if the patient is not strongly afflicted by the membrane in his throat, he nevertheless has a hard time swallowing because of a kind of paralysis of the throat that occurs in addition to the membrane. Finally, the same symptom that is nowadays observed in those suffering from influenza also appears in diphtheria patients: their eyes begin to cross and they see double. These are the most important symptoms of diphtheria that can be noted in the upper part of the body. A form of kidney ailment, unobserved in those who suffocate and die, appears as an after-effect in the diphtheria patients who recover.“What does diphtheria really consist of? Diphtheria can be understood only when one knows that Man is actually kept alive from two directions –from the outside in and from the inside out. Man lives first from within his skin . . ., within his surroundings. . . .The skin is constantly in contact with the outer air, with the external world, which causes it to become calloused. In humans it only becomes a little calloused and then sloughs off. The skin all over Man’s body constantly sloughs off. . . . He is constantly exchanging his physical body because of outside influences. . . .239 -“Aside from this life proceeding from the outside in, there is also a life passing outwards from inside, particularly from the kidneys. Both must be active in the human being. (240) Activity both from the skin inwards and from the kidneys outwards must be at work. The heart occupies a position in between and is highly sensitive to too much activity from outside or within. The heart can sense when the kidneys begin to be overactive, and it also senses when the skin’s activity begins to be too strong or too weak.“Now, what happens in the case of diphtheria? In diphtheria the skin suddenly becomes weak and subdued. The activity of the skin is too weak, so a person with diphtheria suffers from too little exchange of air through the skin. Indeed, this is the main problem. The skin, including the skin of the nose exposed to the external surroundings, does not breathe enough, and it becomes too weak. The instreaming activity . . . no longer functions properly, and the heart senses this. The heart also senses that the kidneys’ work is rising would call the outer digestive tract–where substances still strongly resemble the form they have in the outer world and where our inner processes have as yet taken only a weak hold of them. . . .“When the I first grasps the forces of external substances this is accompanied by taste sensations, . . . the subjective experience of tasting. . . . Then the process works its way inward. But tasting also extends inward. The inner digestive organism–in other words on the other side of the intestine, leading over into the blood –is still an attenuatedtasting. And this really continues upward, until tasting is countered in the head. Here tasting is deadened. . . .“What occurs, in a sense, in the external digestive tract is strongly influenced by the mineral or salt element. . . . “The most palpable and fully developed forms of, say, anemia are often accompanied by the following concomitant symptoms: tiredness, lethargy, difficulty falling asleep or in waking up. Given all these symptoms, which can affect most children between second dentition and puberty, we first have to try to remedy the condition in the external digestive tract. Here we have to use mineral substance, still entirely mineral in character. And we will find this to be beneficial. Initially these things may be observed as . . . strong symptoms, which all indicate how the I is seeking to grasp hold outwardly of the forces of external substances, and how it can be supported in this endeavor by, say, carbonated iron. Iron carbonate is something that supports the organism in combating lethargy whenever the I needs to get an outward grip.“If we take this a stage further, we find the I intervening too weakly in the circulatory system. Then we will see how the I’s lack of engagement in the circulatory organism can, for example, be supported by Ferrum muriaticum [FeCl3, called Ferrum sesquichloratum], thus by a medicine enhanced and intensified in the purely mineral realm.“If we continue to the respiratory organism, thus advancing another stage higher, we can give very particular support to the I by using vegetable acid. Rising further, to the head system, we can do this with the pure metals –not of course as pure metals in an external sense, for initially these have no proper relationship to the human organism, but instead in their subtlest powers. . . . the human organism . . . is itself a homeopath. In the ascent from the digestive system to the head organism, it fragments the metals itself –and we can of course support the organism in this process by potentizing a substance.“But you will find . . . that we can learn something here about potentization. We have to ascertain the actual locus of the deficiency. The lower and further away from the head the deficiency or lack of engagement is centered in the human organism, the lower should be the potencies we use. The nearer we find it to be to the head organization, the higher are the potencies required. . . .“How the I grasps hold of the external world is a real point of departure which will enable us to fathom the symptomaticphenomena we encounter. . . The human organism is largely also organized fluid, organized air and organized temperature. And now, you see, the I has to engage and grasp hold of these different aspects of the organism. Especially important, and subtle in nature, is the engagement of the I in the body’s different temperature conditions. The I has to engage in these temperature variations within the body in the following way. “At birth we have an image of the I. The image of, the imprint of the I is present in the head . . . .The I is present there as image and works throughout childhood. And now, alongside this, the I must as it were give reality or existence from below, must engage in the organism. This is expressed in the fact that this image of the I we have in our head permeates our organism with warmth in childhood, . . . However, this permeation with warmth fades –it is strongest at birth in so far as the warming process issues from the head, and then falls away. And later on in life we need to maintain at a peak, from below, the warmth that develops in this way, and to do so through the engagement of the I in these temperature conditions. As we grow older we have to oppose this lapsing graph of warmth with the other, rising one, which largely depends on a capacity to grasp hold of rising forces made available from food substance, and to lead these into circulation, breathing, and the head system.“Now let us assume that this does not happen in the proper way, that there is insufficient strength to assimilate the inner forces of external substances into the human organism. . . . In that case you are not, as you should, introducing enough warmth into the organism via the I. The head, developing only the declining graph of warmth, allows the body to grow too cold. This becomes apparent firstly at the extremities. So please observe, now, how the state of flagging energy derived from all I described today is intensified in such people –in symptoms of chilled hands and toes. This is very tangible, for you can feel here how the process that was accomplished in childhood from above downward through the image of the I is not adequately met or countered with what needs to arise from and be developed by the active I, which should carry warmth through into thefurthest extremities of the limbs. This is something that will show you how, as soon as you see things in images, as soon as you take note of how the different powers above and below are subtly interacting so that images arise, . . . In chllled hands and feet you find images of what is occurring in the whole human organism. . . .“. . . What first happens when we learn to raise ourselves upright expresses a power of uplift which is in a certain sense only external. It is supported by what streams down from above. Once the change of teeth has been completed, the power to raise ourselves has correspondingly used itself up; this primary power of uplift has come to a conclusion and then the self-raising energy passes into our interior, where a balance must be created between what rises from below upward and what streams from above downward. And then the forces coming from above and those coming from below enter into mutual opposition, encounter each other. In this one-dimensional encounter, as I will call it,. . . we can see particularly well what is happening at this age. And now observe how people with, say chlorosis or anemia grow very tired. They do not feel most tired when they walk on level ground but when they’re climbing stairs. This points us directly to these phenomena. People with a tendency to anemia are especially taxed by climbing stairs; and so, in such symptoms, and in what comes to living expression as a child grows, we can grasp hold of spiritual realities underlying our existence. And then we can come to the point of simply ‘reading off’ what we need to do to remedy abnormal conditions from what diagnostic pathology can tell us in this way.”