August 25, 2013 | Posted in Concepts in Anthroposophic Medicine

It is only if we have an accurate picture of the human being, that we can then strive to understand health and illness. Today we underestimate the human being by thinking the sick human being is a broken machine. If a symptom occurs, we simply make it go away (anti-inflammatory medicines, anti-depressants, etc). If a part is broken, we replace it. Machines are not alive; they do not grow, or change.

So immediately we see that we must consider ‘being alive’ in addition to any mechanical metaphors. The human being is more than a machine.

Machines do not have awareness or feeling. They do not have desire or curiosity or hunger or love. They do not have self-awareness or understanding or intention or judgment. They cannot choose between good and evil. They cannot sacrifice or create art. So human beings are much more than machines. Any approach to healing for humans must be based on an accurate definition of human make-up.
Rudolf Steiner’s insight as to the nature of human make-up provides a framework for understanding health and illness. He pointed out four aspects to human makeup: the physical body, the etheric body of life forces, the astral body of consciousness and desire, and the essential individuality of “Ego.”

The essential individuality of each person is eternal and does not die. It is called is the “I” or “Ego” or “Self” and is a spiritual part of the human. The everyday terms egotism and selfishness represent the instinctual — commonly fearful and greedy — aspect of human nature which is distinct from the eternal spiritual essential “Ego” or “Self” or “I.”

Egotism and selfishness have no sense of the eternal as real, and grasp at the material present reality only. Causes of illness are complex, and among them is egoism, not being connected to the eternal nature we carry.
Steiner pointed out that the word “I” uniquely is spoken by the person about him/herself; it is the name that shows self-awareness. I cannot call anyone else “I.”

A key to be noted in child development is the age at which the child begins use of “I”: ‘Johnny wants juice!’ becomes ‘I want juice!’ This signifies an early stage of the Ego’s presence in the young child.

Usually a child develops the beginning ability to walk in its first year of life, to talk in its second year of life, and to think in its third year of life. It is this beginning thinking that makes self-awareness possible and the use of the word “I.” Animals do not have this capacity, though they walk and make sounds.
It is the orderly working of the spiritual make-up in the rest of the human being that is the foundation for health. The spiritual essence — Ego – brings order and organization to the feeling life (soul or astral body) and the life forces (etheric body) and the physical body in a healthy person. It is simple to write this, and hard to accomplish.  See Physical body, Etheric body, ethers, Astral body, Picture of the human being

As human beings, we are unfinished projects.

Every lifetime is an opportunity for growth and learning, which means we make mistakes in order to learn, we get out of balance in order to learn how to be in better balance. What’s bad is good, in a certain way, because we become VERY conscious going forward from the bad experience. Usually as the result of a struggle, we are stronger, and often humbled. New awareness and strength and humility are spiritual qualities, and the stronger Ego forces feed the order and harmony of the entire human being, creating health.
There are twelve senses in the human being, according to Steiner. One of these is the Ego Sense, which means it is built into human beings to know when another Ego is present: We are not fooled by a radio or mannequin or robot. We sense: another human being is present. Or we know the reproduction is good or poor, or we walk by knowing we are not ignoring a person. This is the opposite of egotism / selfishness, which can function as though only oneself as real, even in the presence of other human beings.
Each member of creation carries unique form and qualities that are reproduced over and over. We recognize quartz as quartz, and elm trees as elm trees, lions as lions, over expanses of time and space. This consistent blueprint is the Ego of the quartz, the elm tree, the lion. It is the spiritual structure that assures they are themselves, through accurate reproduction and behavior, and recognizable to the rest of reality who interacts with them.
The Ego of minerals, plants, and animals, is carried for the group, while the Ego of the human is individual to each person.
Individuality is not identical with the genome, just as the brain is not identical with the mind. Spiritual realities, like individuality and mind, use the physical body make-up for their full expression. The individuality uses the physical genome to faithfully refresh cells over and over in my body according to the spiritual blueprint for my own individuality. The genome also guarantees orderly reproduction from generation to generation.

As the Ego directs the healthy physical-etheric-astral processes, it in particular works through the metals and trace minerals. See 7 metals, Trace minerals.  The sense of self is related to the Sun, the center of the solar system, and the heart, the center of our circulation.  See Heart.

Practitioners in anthroposophic medicine learn that reverence is a keyword in approaching a patient.  The individual being seen as a patient has a unique destiny.  Out of freedom, each person unfolds that destiny.

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