From Psychoanalysis to Character Analysis

This blog is part of a series; its original title was Heilkunst Basics : University, 3rd Year (From Psychoanalysis to Character Analysis)

Dr. Hahnemann railed against the abstract, speculative, and ultimately dangerous nature with which the doctors of his time attempted to treat disease, and if born in a different era, he probably could have been a good friend of Dr. Reich, who was also an extremely meticulous and careful scientific observer.

This same issue played out between Dr. Reich, and Dr. Freud who was his teacher — although Freud’s initial insights into the human energy system in general, and sexuality in particular were revolutionary, he ended up drifting into the abstract and speculative realm as he further developed his system. Dr. Reich refused to go along with this, and instead dug down deeply into the implications of Freud’s original insights.

Where Freud founded the method of ‘Psychoanalysis’, Reich, instead, took this process in a more grounded and curative direction, into what he called ‘Character Analysis’. The latter proved to have much more depth, and ultimately was able to effect an actual change in the state of health of the patient, whereas the Psychoanalytic approach may have produced superficial gains, at best.

The key insight that began Reich’s investigation for a better method was in realizing that the Psychoanalytic method was doomed to recycle the same inner content of the patient, and stay trapped within the confines of the patient’s deeper and unconscious defense mechanism. Think, for example, of Woody Allen joking about being in Psychoanalysis for 2 or more decades. Rather than focusing on what the patient could recall into their conscious mind, Reich realized that it was the unconscious mind which held the key to maintaining the patient’s illness. The unconscious mind was all too happy to let the contents of the conscious mind take part in a futile cat-and-mouse game with the therapist.

The insight that Reich moved forward on, was that it wasn’t the inner psychological content of the patient that needed to be “analyzed” (ie what is accessible to the conscious mind in “talk therapy”), but rather it was the outer, virtually “invisible” (ie unconscious) defense mechanism which permeated the entire character of the patient. Thus, Reich’s motto at this phase of his life could have been “to follow the path of most resistance” – meaning, that the design and nature of the character structure was to maintain a stasis within the pathology, and do everything within its power to ward off any external attempt to penetrate past it. Every time the therapist comes close to the core defense, the patient “resists” in certain characteristic ways.

Never letting the patient rest for a moment within the complacency of talking about their ‘content’ ad nauseum, Reich kept bringing the patient back, over and over again right into the heart of their resistance. If you thought Olympic wrestling was intense, it’s nothing compared to one of Reich’s sessions spent wrestling with his patient’s character defense! The nature of the character armour is that when attacked, it literally behaves as if it is in life or death battle, and does anything to try to wriggle its way out of the choke hold. I’m sure you’ve experienced this in your own life anytime you accidentally stepped onto someone’s core belief, and witnessed them have a meltdown over it.

In the next part of our 3rd year Heilkunst university curriculum, we’ll trace Reich’s development from chracter analysis into medical orgone therapy.

What’s in Your Remedy Kit for Labour Day Weekend?

We’re approaching Labour Day, which many people consider to be the last long weekend of the summer. People tend to try to pack a lot in to this weekend, whether the last time up to the cottage, or other forms of “weekend warrior”, or just plain partying.

Here are some of the remedies which you may find useful to have with you this weekend:

  • Arnica – for any strains or sprains you may suffer in a sporting or recreational accident, or merely for “overdoing” it, and pushing yourself too hard.
  • Nux Vomica – for the other kind of overdoing it, and you end up with a hangover to deal with the morning after.
  • Walnut (Bach Flower Remedy) – to help with all aspects of the transition back into another school year. Getting the kids ready for the first day of school, and keeping your composure while the entire house routine is turned upside down in preparation.
  • Natrum Muriaticum – If you are acutely feeling the emotional “loss” of the summer, and aren’t feeling ready to let it go yet.
  • Hornbeam (Bach Flower Remedy) – If Tuesday morning comes, and you’re having a really hard time responding to the call of the alarm clock, this can help put a little mental focus and energy into your morning.

What else would you carry with you in your remedy kit this weekend?

An Introduction Medical Orgonomy

This blog is part of a series; its original title was Heilkunst Basics : University, 3rd Year (Medical Orgonomy, Introduction)

So far in the Heilkunst university curriculum, I’ve been presenting issues of the ontic (sense of self), as seen more from the psychological side of health. Issues of the false ego, and general considerations about cognitive blockages due to belief structures and myths have filled out some of the content here. In this third year curriculum, I’ll shift to some of the more biological aspects of these same issues, particularly as they were most astutely illustrated by Dr. Wilhelm Reich.

Reich’s career began as a student of Sigmund Freud in the 1920s, as he was pursuing his interest in a medical curriculum which explored the subject of sexuality. Without going into a full historical account of their relationship, and ultimately what led to their divergent paths of thought and practice, I’ll mention that Reich far surpassed Freud’s work, and brought some of Freud’s initial insights into a very grounded and practical approach to therapy, which provides part of the ultimate framework of Heilkunst, and its definitions of health.

As I outline the 3rd year curriculum of Heilkunst university in the upcoming blog posts, I’ll spell out some of the specific details which Reich brought into therapeutics, and how we use them within a treatment context. We’ll be surveying some of the key Reichian concepts, such as “character armor”, the meaning of “neurosis” and “psychosis”, as well as the seven segments which form the insights and therapeutic orientation for every body-centred therapy since.

Through all of this, we’ll begin to see how everything we’ve examined previously from the Junior Kindergarten level all the way up through high school graduation, starts to come together and appear as a coherent whole, when seen through some of these higher-level lenses.

Epistemology and True Scientific Method

This blog is part of a series; its original title was Heilkunst Basics : University, 2nd Year (Epistemology and True Scientific Method)

 

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“I am trying to convince the serious reader that principles of thought do not represent a philosophical luxury, but that on the contrary they decide questions of life and death, health and disease for humanity.”

-Dr. Wilhelm Reich

The general view of philosophy is that while it may provide fodder for lively debate and even a certain type of entertainment for some, it doesn’t actually give anything of value in terms of practical real life issues, or science. Philosophical positions are seen to be subjective and changeable like opinions, and only having a relationship to the personalities expressing them, rather than to an actual objective access to truth. Although not everyone works in a scientific field, this is still an important common cognitive blockage for everyone to recognize and overcome in themselves, as it clouds our relationship to our ability to “know”.

Your final assignment in 2nd year of the Heilkunst university curriculum will be to survey the philosophy of science and epistemology, in order to begin to lay a foundation for a true scientific method. The issue that we’re stuck with in modern science is that it actually has no solid foundation, and has reverted to the non-scientific stance of “empiricism”. The 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant lay one of the most thorough frameworks for this empirical form of science which continues to be the working method in today’s sciences.

The issue with claiming pure empiricism (ie merely observing without adding any conceptual content) is that it is an illusion. Rudolf Steiner pointed this out in great detail in his early epistemological texts, and very masterfully overturned the unobserved presumptions built in to Kant’s thought process. The problem with the claim of pure empiricism, is that it pretends that it is possible to simply observe, or take in the data of the world provided to our sense organs without the use of any concepts on our own part. “Thinking”, or adding our conceptions to what we’ve observed is thus presumed to be “subjective”.

It is well worth reading Steiner’s train of though on these points, as he comes to a very remarkable observation which can act as a foundation for true observation and science — that is, if we experience what he calls the “exceptional state”, where we apply our own thinking to our thinking process itself, we come to discover that there is indeed a very solid foundation to stand on, upon which we are able to make objective observations within a scientific context. It forms a foundation, because when we are using our thinking to observe our own act of thinking, rather than an object outside of our selves, it is the only time we know for certain what the origin of the object under observation is. Taking this insight further brings us into what Steiner calls “etheric thinking”, which emerges out of this state of “thinking about thinking”, and which is necessary for truly entering into an accurate observation of a living process.

Working through all of these thought exercises, it becomes very empowering to realize that we are, in fact, capable of objectivity, and that science can be so much more than “mere” empiricism fluffed up with statistical method. The basis of medical Heilkunst (ie NON-allopathic medicine) can now proceed correctly, on the basis of natural law, and on objective observation and thinking. The solid basis of principles can be relied upon instead of the shifting sands of empiricism.

Theory of Evolution

This blog is part of a series; its original title was Heilkunst Basics : University, 2nd Year (Theory of Evolution)

Approaching the end of the second year of the Heilkunst university curriculum, I need to prepare you for your big term paper. This subject is ‘Evolution’, and the usual assumptions and dogmas cannot be drawn on in your research. Your first resource will be the book Tornado in a Junkyard by James Perloff. He initially set out in his research to prove the Darwinian theory over creationist theories, but the more evidence he collected, the more he ended up systematically disproving every point of the Darwinian argument. Through his research, in essence, he ended up converting himself.

One of the bigger conceptual differences between the two camps is whether evolution follows a path of ascent or descent. Darwin’s second book, entitled The Descent of man, is built around the central concept of evolution proceeding from a common origin of all life, which evolves into more and more complex biological systems. The human being, in this model, has successfully emerged from the primordial slime, and successfully evolved to be the most complex and intelligent species on the planet.

The opposite view of evolution being an ascent, is that the human being is the original species, and from which all the other living forms have emerged. As the human being develops and ascends on its evolutionary path, it has cast off various forms from itself, creating the three kingdoms of nature and all of its differentiations.

One way to think about it is that we have jettisoned much unnecessary cargo along our journey, in order to free ourselves up to more fully evolve. The three kingdoms of nature (mineral, plant, and animal), then, form the basis for the homeopathic materia medica, as any disease forms which we suffer can be traced back to a point in our individual evolution where we haven’t successfully completed a given developmental step. Likewise, the resonance which we feel for various parts of nature is a function of the fact that in its entirety, nature is an outward, concrete manifestation of the various aspects of human nature. “Dog lovers”, or “bird watchers”, for example, are loving a specific part of outer nature as a function of an aspect of themselves which they are developing.

Rather than an ‘evolution of matter’, then, this understanding illustrates that it is consciousness which is the true subject of evolution. The healthcare goals of Heilkunst are aligned with this understanding, where addressing this fundamental level (consciousness) is what drives healing changes at all other levels, including of physical symptoms. Some specific therapeutics involve a direct intervention at the physical level, but always understood within this broader hierarchy, so that the results can be healative rather than suppressive.

Emergence of the Nether Being

This blog is part of a series; its original title was Heilkunst Basics : University, 2nd year (Emergence of the Nether Being)

Previously in this blog series, I’ve introduced the concepts of the deepest diseases (chthonic realm), and the highest diseases (ideogenic realm). As much territory as has already been covered in these blogs, they truly represent only the tip of the iceberg as far as these ultimate realms of disease extend. Looking at the eight mapped out remedies of the chthonic realm, or the range of hallucinogenic substances used in the treatment of the ideogenic realm is only the beginning of the incredible depths and heights beyond these introductory layers.

While an even further exploration of suitable medicinal substances is currently being researched to go deeper and higher into these realms, ultimately, it will be the capacity of the mind itself to grasp and reach into these phenomena directly as the ultimate expression of Heilkunst attaining its full therapeutic potential.

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I recently visited the Miners Museum in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, where I participated in a tour of one of the old mine shafts. The working conditions that existed here, and continue to exist in other mining sites around the world are truly horrendous, and can only be equated with a form of slavery. I was absolutely fascinated to learn about one particularly significant unionized strike action, and the especially violent retaliation by the police which occurred on July 1st, 1923. Understanding the significance of that year in Heilkunst illustrates what was behind the phenomenon of the particular violence inflicted on these strikers at that point in time.

J. B. McLachlan, the Secretary-Treasurer of the miners’ union provided this report of the event:

“On Sunday night last the provincial police,

in the most brutal manner, rode down the

people of Whitney Pier, who were out on

the street, most of whom were coming from

church. Neither age, sex, nor physical disa-

bility were proof against these brutes. One

old woman over 70 years of age was beaten

into insensibility and may die. A boy of nine

years old was trampled under the horses’

hooves and had his breast bone crushed in. A

woman, being beaten over the head with a po-

lice club, gave premature birth to a child.

The child is dead and the woman’s life is

despaired of. Men and women were beaten up

inside their own homes.”

In 1923, towards the end of his life, Rudolf Steiner delivered a lecture entitled The Pathology Underlying Therapy, in which he introduced a radically new concept into his medical insights : that the human being is actually double, and that the “invisible man” within us underlies a complete understanding of our physiology and all of its polaric processes. This very same year also gave birth to Wilhelm Reich’s orgasm theory, which he spent his life developing to a tremendous depth and detail, and which acts as the master regulatory switch for this nether being, housed in our autonomic nervous system.

Phenomenologically, such an event as the violence surrounding the miners’ strike had to burst out at this point in history, as a representation of the emergence of this nether being into the light of day, demanding its rights to walk on the surface of the earth in freedom. We can also get hints about the deeper chthonic themes, and higher ideogenic themes surrounding this event by closely examining one of the dangerous elements of the working conditions in the mines:

  • Methane gas – is one of the many dangers of working in the coal mines, and is composed of carbon and hydrogen. Examining these two source elements as homeopathic remedies, we see that methane would relate to the dual aspects of the grounded, earthy element of carbon (which is necessary for every aspect of biological life and our incarnation), and the more cosmic meaning of hydrogen, which represents the origin and structure of our consciousness itself. These coal miners were literally the “canaries in the coal mine” for the frontier of consciousness which humanity is now poised upon.

Every age in human history unfolds through particular cultural, industrial, and technological developments, and when viewed from a higher phenomenological perspective, reveals the inner workings of the evolution of consciousness which are manifesting at that moment. Training our mind to see cultural and even our own personal life events in this way helps to raise our consciousness, and reveal the path we are meant to unfold for ourselves.

Lanthanides, Part Two

This blog is part of a series; its original title was Heilkunst Basics : University, 2nd Year (Lanthanides, part two)

Continuing on from yesterday’s presentation on the Lanthanides, I’ll outline the second half of the remedy series, along with the 9 fear or conflict remedies.

The second group of 7 lanthanides are as follows:

8. Terbium — Feeling that their autonomy is dependent on protecting it in others. Healthy state : Help to contribute to others’ autonomy out of generosity, rather than fear.

9. Dysprosium — Fear that autonomy can be lost at any time. Healthy state : Calm vigilance.

10. Holmium — Feel the need to hide their autonomy. Healthy state : Quiet confidence.

11. Erbium — Becomes indifferent or stoic. Healthy state : Graceful and realistic.

12. Thulium — Resignation; surrender freedom for another. Healthy state : Surrender to the directive of their higher self.

13. Ytterbium — Hermit-like state of rejecting things. Healthy state : Letting go of attachments.

14. Lutetium — Avoid commitments which may compromise freedom. Healthy state : Higher love function without attachments.

Any of the 14 lanthanide remedies may be fruitfully combined with any of the fear/conflict remedies below. They each relate to the specific fears or inner conflicts we may experience at the prospect of gaining a greater degree of freedom.

  • Oxydataum: The fear of being unable to handle the power of freedom, and becoming abusive.
  • Phosphoricum: The fear or threat of loss of friendship due to autonomy.
  • Sulphuratum: Fear that autonomy will negatively impact one’s marriage.
  • Iodatum: Fear of not fitting in, and being rejected.
  • Carbonicum: Fear that one will lose one’s self-worth. Related to “father” issues.
  • Bromatum: Underlying feeling of moral guilt and consequent fear of being rejected by community.
  • Fluoratum: Fear of discovering an amoral monster inside.
  • Muriaticum: Afraid that the integrity of the family will suffer. Related to “mother” issues.
  • Nitricum: A form of “Peter Pan” syndrome – fear of growing up and taking the responsibility that comes with freedom.

Lanthanides, Part One

This blog is part of a series; its original title was Heilkunst Basics : University, 2nd Year (Lanthanides, part one)

The periodic table offers a tremendous wealth of medicinal substances related to treating the various issues which our ontic organization faces on its journey. The structure of the periodic table relates to different stages of development, as seen in the different rows of the table, and particular conflicts or blockages which are seen along different columns.

As I continue to explore treatment approaches to the problem of the false ego, the lanthanides come into play, which are a part of the sixth row of the periodic table, representing issues of the self in terms of autonomy.

There are 14 specific lanthanide remedies useful for this purpose of helping us work through specific blockages the ontic encounters, along with 9 specific adjunct remedies related to the fears of the false ego in letting go of its power. The first seven lanthanides relate to the initial descent of the upper ontic down to meet the nether, where the outward biological goal is to reach “genital primacy”, and any blockages create the energy of neurosis. The second group of seven relates to the second movement of our development, where the nether ontic moves upward to meet with our upper ontic. This results in the transformation of our genital primacy into the broader function of the orgasm, or “orgastic potency”. Blockages along this path are what contribute to the energy of any psychoses.

The first seven lanthanides represent these themes:

  1. Lanthanum — The beginning of the journey into autonomy. Confusion as to whether it is possible, or not. Healthy state : Realization that freedom is the goal.
  2. Cerium — Wants autonomy, but plagued by hesitation. Healthy state : decisiveness.
  3. Praseodynium — Sets out on the path of autonomy, but easily discouraged by setbacks. Healthy state : perseverance.
  4. Neodynium — Try to prove their autonomy through reckless action. Healthy state : Being firm.
  5. Promethium — Falsely takes up role of saving others. Healthy state : Willing to share their experiences, when asked.
  6. Samarium — Feel they need to constantly guard their freedom from perceived threats. Health state : Apply self-defense as necessary.
  7. Europium – Seeking approval through cleverness. Healthy state : Command of scientific logic.

Homeopathic Mercury

This blog is part of a series; its original title was Homeopathic Mercury [Heilkunst Basics : University, 2nd Year (Mercurius)]

There are a number of therapeutic approaches in Heilkunst designed to address the problem of the false ego. Today’s exploration will be of the use of the homeopathic remedy mercurius in this capacity.

Mercury is one of the most toxic substances known on the planet, and it is quite alarming to consider the implications for many people who have had it drilled into their oral cavity as part of their dental amalgams (fillings). It is the byproduct of many industrial processes, and is a common toxin found at measurable levels in our air, water, and food supply. It is a component of many common commercial products, including adhesives, antiseptics, batteries, commercial cereals, cosmetics, fabric softeners, paper products, and seafoods (especially tuna and swordfish), just to name a few.

Its toxic effects centre primarily in the brain and the nervous system, and produce many disease conditions related to the mental and emotional levels. Given our current discussion on the false ego, it makes sense that mercurius would be a remedy quite helpful in treatment, as the primary locus of the ontic organization is in the nervous system, and likewise, the false ego’s activity works at this same level. Mercury appears on the sixth row of the periodic table, which contains all the homeopathic remedies primarily concerned with the issue of autonomy.

Remember that the law of similars will generally work on the basis of such a match between a given disease process, and a toxin or poison which produces a similar effect. The negative influence which mercury has on the nervous system, including symptoms of twitches, or other more significant impairments to our basic co-ordination are also related to the fundamental negative blockage which the false ego creates in our system.

The mythological god, Mercury, ruled over commerce as well as thieves, which is a fascinating connection to think of in terms of our mediation on the function of the false ego, and how it works through the world on manipulative terms. Making “a deal with the devil” is something which the false ego, and not the true self, will engage in.

Mercurius is characteristically very elusive, and difficult to connect with in terms of a natural social relationship. At the extreme end of this would be the total withdrawal, and non-communication status of an autistic individual, who has often been very much affected by some form of mercury exposure.

In general, mercurius is a remedy used for a broad variety of issues related to the identity (as in true versus false), particularly where it is either weak or confused. There is a great deal of changeability or instability in this disease state, as would make sense in terms of the false ego which is always adapting opportunistically to its surrounding environment, rather than being guided more surely by an inner principle of self.

Emotionally, mercurius is highly sensitive, and will perceive slights or criticisms which may not exist in an objective sense. For this reason, amongst others, it is very difficult to form a true relationship with someone in a mercurius state, or at least one which goes past the outer surface.

The False Ego

This blog is part of a series; its original title was Heilkunst Basics : University, 2nd year (The False Ego)

The progressive curriculum of Heilkunst therapeutics moves logically up the chain of our four bodies, from the physical up to the etheric, then astral, and finally into the ontic organization, which is our sense of self. The lower three bodies correlate to the three kingdoms of nature (physical body = mineral; etheric body = plant; astral body = animal), and then our ontic organization is uniquely human.

This ontic organization can be called our true self, and is the seat of our self-consciousness, and sense of “I am”. Like all aspects of physiology, it functions as a living polarity, and we have both an “upper” and “nether” ontic organization. Think of the horse costume you rented for halloween, where your spouse filled in the head portion, and you wore the back end. Walking around gracefully required a well-choreographed movement between the two of you, in order to properly portray the horse as if it were one unitary being.

This very same living polarity which we must mimic inside the horse costume is also a real phenomenon within us, and one of the higher goals and expressions of health is to display a true sense of co-ordination of all our functions. Even at the physical level, you can usually quickly identify if someone moves their physical body around the world with smooth, graceful movements, or if there is more of an intrusion of awkwardness or clumsiness. The same can be transposed into observations of the functions of the etheric and astral bodies, as well.

This co-ordination is a by-product of a healthy relationship between our upper and nether ontic, who represent a form of marriage within us. The false ego, who is another character on this scene, acts as a kind of chaperone who is always getting in between them, and keeping them from having a complete conjugal relationship. There is an important function that the false ego has in our early development, but it generally overstays its welcome, and must be forcibly removed from its post at the time it has fulfilled the course of its duties, when we reach the age of maturity.

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When it does overstay its welcome, we will be witness to any number of blockages in our health from the physical level, through the functional level, and all the way up into the psychological level, as well. The type of energy which the false ego runs off of is one which drives us towards choices based on attraction rather than resonance, and you can think of sugar or junk food cravings as the archetypal model for this.

In the next blogs in this series, I’ll present some of the Heilkunst approaches used in dealing with this false ego, and how we work to actively destroy its function, and allow the true self (conjunction of the upper and nether ontic) to take its dominant position in our make-up.