On the Illnesses of our Time

There is one remedy and one alone that is capable of countering illnesses of the age - of whatever nature.


by Dr. Karl Konig


IF we want to describe the modern age in the form in which we experience it as human beings, a single word really sums up everything there is to be said. There is, indeed, no better characterisation of this present time than the word confusion. Among human beings, in topical events, in the relationships between the world and man in every direction there is confusion. And to realise where the origin of this confusion lies is a deep and urgent necessity.  

If we ask how the confusion comes to expression, it is evident, when we think of it, that the human soul in the modern age is confronted with everything that has been achieved in the past and is now within reach of achievement. For there is really nothing that is not accessible to the soul to-day. All the perceptions, all the thoughts that have ever arisen in human beings, practically everything that has been born in the womb of the ages is with us to-day.

No matter in what direction we turn, we find this abundance of facts. Buddhists live side by side with modern Americans, representatives of ancient Indian wisdom side by side with Nationalists, Kantian philo­sophers side by side with Mystics. Forms of architecture reminiscent of ancient Egypt are erected beside typically Gothic structures; buildings constructed according to the most modern utilitarian principles stand by the side of residences which seem to have been transported from ancient Rome. There are the faith healers and the surgeons, magnetic healers and specialists of every description; educationists who aim at pure rationalism and others who believe firmly in the principle of authority. There are Democrats, Monarchists, Liberals and those who would like to see the conduct of affairs given over entirely into the hands of the masses. In gigantic museums we have exhibits from the civilisations of every epoch. Egypt and Babylon can be visualised as minutely as Greece and Rome. And since the excavations on the site of Troy the gaze of archaeology has penetrated further and further into the days of antiquity. Ur and Chaldea have come to light, the civilisations of Tell-Hallaf have been discovered, the scripts of Mani have become known, and what was once regarded as phantasy little by little becomes history.

Whatever information modern man desires, is accessible to him. Everything is known: the kind of food eaten in ancient
Rome, the methods of embalming corpses in Egypt, well nigh daily events in the life of Alexander the Great, the writings of Aristotle, the books of Hermes, the rites of the Egyptians, the Mysteries of Greece. The world of nature has been investigated in all detail. The butterfly's wings, the cellular structure of marine animals, the digestive process in insects, the sensory life of mammals, the constituent parts of plants, oceans, mountains, land from the equator to the poles-everything has been investigated and there is scarcely a blank area upon our maps.

A vast, seemingly infinite panorama lies outspread before the soul of man. If we remember that a hundred years ago the individual human being was practically limited to the region where destiny placed him at birth and compare this with the possibilities open to a man living at the present time, we can realise the fundamental difference. In our days it is necessary for man not only to inform himself of the events taking place in his own neighbourhood but to try at any rate to include the whole of the Earth in his orbit of vision. Events in Manchuria
have become as important for Europeans as harvests in the Argentine, the political situation in Northern Europe, the views of a Turkish autocrat and the injunctions of Gandhi to his followers. The opening of power-works in Russia and the closing of factories in England, the discovery of oil fields in Persia and the abandonment of coal mines in Turkestan - all these things are of significance, it might almost be said, for every single individual, no matter where he happens to live. The world lies open before us and every event has become a door through which the individual human being has to pass. However specialised his personal destiny, he has become a citizen of the whole Earth, not really limited to the nation into which he has been born and certainly not to the family in which he was brought up. The whole Earth has become of significance to him.

The history of humanity right down to the present day lies open before man. All this means confusion. Man is placed in its midst and he must find his way through with alert and wide-awake vision.

Such is the age in which we are living and the confusion is an essential factor which must always be remembered in considering the nature of its characteristic illnesses. If we ask what 'illnesses of an age' really are, then first of all we must understand something of the nature of illness itself.

What modern science speaks of as illness or disease is really nothing but a description of conditions in the human organism. Science as it is to-day has not so far been able to evolve any true conception of the nature of illness nor will be capable of doing so until man is recognised as a spiritual being. In clear and precise words Rudolf Steiner has indicated that the incapacity to understand the nature of illness is due to the mode of thinking current at the present time. He says the following: "Anyone who reflects on the fact that the human being can be diseased, will find himself involved in a paradox which he cannot avoid if he wishes to think purely on the lines of Natural Science. He will have to assume to begin with that this paradox lies in the very nature of existence. For, outwardly considered, whatever takes place in the process of disease is a process of Nature. But that which replaces it in health is also a process of Nature.  .  .  . Here, however, a question emerges which is quite unanswerable from this point of view: How do there arise in Man processes of Nature which run counter to the healthy ones? "*

* Fundamentals of Therapy. By Rudolf Steiner and Ita wegman, M.D. Chapter II, p.13. Anthroposophical Publishing Company, London.

This is the question which confronts modern science when it is speaking of illness. The contradiction is entirely the result of ignorance of the real nature of the human being. For ordinary thinking there are, in this case, only two polarities: Illness and Health. The two conditions run counter to each other but according to modern science and medical theory they are both to be regarded as processes of Nature. Illness and health, so it is said, arise from one and the same Nature, but are polarities. Where does the solution of this riddle lie? It lies in the understanding of the true polarities. For the fact that illness and health are regarded as opposites is due to the kind of thinking that is current to-day and which altogether leaves out of account the essential factor of healing. It is illness and healing that are the true polarities and health is simply an instable condition that can be present because the forces of illness and of healing strive all the time to maintain mutual balance. Drastically expressed it must be said that from the side of Nature, man is not healthy, but ill. For it is the disease-processes above all that are at work in the human being and the processes of healing are a different group which, striving all the time to hold the disease-processes in check, are able to call forth the state of health. Health is a state, a condition. Illness and healing are the real processes at work in the human being and in Nature outside him.

If we study man in the light of Rudolf Steiner's teachings, we find that he is a threefold being. Above, in the head, there are the processes of the nerves-and-senses organisation, and running counter to them the forces working in the metabolic limb system. The head-processes, connected as they are with the senses and nerves, are so organised that they lead all the time towards hardening. The head is rounded, permeated with bone, full of salt deposits; its organs are closely knit, practically lifeless. The architecture of the head is that of death, and from the head the death-processes go forth continually into the rest of the human organism. If we were beings consisting merely of head, we could neither grow nor develop because the origin of life is elsewhere, namely, in the region of the metabolic-limb system. This system is the seat not of the hardening process nor of the death-processes, but of exuberant, rampant life which produces chaos.

If we were composed only of a metabolic-limb system we could never unfold consciousness; we should be vegetative beings impelled by animal instincts. Both the processes above and those below contain within themselves tendencies to illness. The upper processes bring about the hardening that is akin to the nature of death and the lower processes give rise to life, exuberant and rampant. Ever-present in both there is the possibility of illness.

But between these polarities there is a middle organization - the rhythmic system-which brings about constant balance between the above and the below. This 'middle man,' the system which owes its existence to the perpetual contact of breathing lungs with beating heart, adjusts the conflict between the nerves above and the blood below. For the stream of breath which passes through the lungs receives into itself the downstreaming death-forces of the head and mollifies them. The beating heart takes into itself the rampant metabolic forces streaming upwards from below and brings them to rest. The tranquilisation effected by the heart and the mollifying influence of the breath meet each other and this meeting is the seat of that constant process of healing which runs counter all the time to the upper and the lower disease-processes in the being of man.

We find, therefore, that illness is of an altogether
human origin. Illness is present as a natural force in the human organism as a whole and it is only because healing forces proceeding from the middle system are at work all the time that health can ensue as a condition. This shows us, however, that disease is a process fundamentally connected with the being of man, belongs to him alone and actually makes him, perhaps, what he is.

And now comes the question: What are 'illnesses of an age?'
Certain illnesses are connected with definite periods, for instance, the various phases in the life of a human being. There are illnesses of old age and of youth; illnesses too that are connected with the seasons - with spring, winter, autumn and summer. All these illnesses are associated with time but not in the sense of the present writing. Illnesses characteristic of an age or a time are not connected with any one period in human life, nor with definite rhythms of the yearly cycle, but they run through certain epochs of human history. They appear and pass away again like a comet in the sky, pouring through mankind and then vanishing. One thinks, for instance, of the outbreak of syphilis in Europe at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Starting in Naples and Lisbon, this disease spread with desperate rapidity through the whole of Europe, snatching millions of human beings as its prey.

Similarly, in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, the plague broke over humanity like a wave in a storm. With the methods of modern scientific observation alone we shall never be able to understand the appearance of epidemics of this kind. Only when we remember the whole condition of consciousness as it was in those times and try to read the meaning of every single sign will the epidemics of plague and of syphilis appear also as symptoms. The basis of the outbreak of syphilis is to be seen in the forces working in the human soul in those times and in all that was taking shape, for example, in the age of discoveries when every human being was striving to reach self-consciousness. Factors of equal importance were the new conception of the world created by Copernicus and its application by Giordano Bruno, the discovery by Galileo of the laws of the pendulum, the discovery of the microscope and telescope, the establishing of the principles of perspective by Albrecht Durer, Lionardo da Vinci's excavations of the corpses of pregnant women in order that he might study the stages of embryonic development. This was the age, too, of the Reformation and the birth of Humanism, leading on then to the Thirty Years' War. All these things, as the psychological basis, were preliminary to the appearance of syphilis and the plague. True, science is able to prove the existence of syphilis among the Aztecs, but in them it did not take the form of an epidemic. It was an illness like any other at the present time. It found fostering soil for the first time among European humanity in the birth-throes of the Consciousness Soul. An 'illness of an age' in the real sense, therefore, is one which has as the basis of its existence, changes in the life of soul of human beings living in a given epoch of history.

And now, if we return to the study of the human organism and consider how it contains within itself the forces of illness and of healing, we can learn the following. - The head, as the bearer of the death-processes at work in the nerves-and-senses system, is at the same time the bearer of all those impulses of the
past which are there in the human being in the form of destiny. The head-organisation (as Rudolf Steiner has repeatedly indicated) is formed in such a way that it represents the product of the past of the being of soul-and-spirit. In contrast to this, the lower, metabolic-limb organisation is so constituted that it contains, in germ, all that is of the future, all that has yet to take shape. In the head there is working the picture of the past; in the metabolic-limb system, the germ of the future. The middle system in the being of man is the principle which represents the present, which constantly holds the balance, separating and again uniting past and future.

We are able, now, to say that illness arises in the human organism when either the forces of the past in the head or the forces of the future in the metabolic-limb system become so strong that what ought to be the regulating factor of the present cannot assert its influence. All rigid adherence to the past and also all wildly premature attempts to pirate the future, alike beget illness.

Man is only healthy when he can so harmonise the conservative forces of the past and the revolutionary forces of the future within him that a free 'present' is all the time coming into being. This leads us one step nearer to an understanding of the nature of illnesses of an age. At every great turning-point in human history and in man's life of soul, past and future play into one another in such a way that man and man alone can create from them a free 'present.' If he fails in this, illnesses of the age arise and these illnesses take a different form in every epoch. Every turning-point of time has a different past and a different future - both with their characteristic forms of illness.

In accordance with these principles we shall understand why the illnesses of the age in which we ourselves are living are of a specific character. The number of these illnesses is infinite, because the confusion around us is practically infinite. Insomnia, mental abnormalities in children, encephalitis, infantile spinal paralysis, diabetes, high blood-pressure-all such troubles are caused either by elements of the past that have remained too long or by elements of the future that are breaking in too soon. If we study the outbreak of influenza by which the whole of
Europe was swept immediately after the War, or the encephalitis which first broke out in the form of an epidemic in the trenches of France and Russia in the years 1916 and 1917, we shall recognise both as characteristic illnesses of the age. It is not within the scope of the present article to describe these forms of illness in detail. The object is rather to lay down the principles of subsequent study. Another factor of fundamental importance, however, must at this point be taken into consideration.

At the beginning of the article it was said that our age may be characterised as an age of confusion, and mention was made of certain signs of this confusion. But now we must ask: What is the spiritual foundation of these many signs?

On more than one occasion Rudolf Steiner said that another characteristic of the modern age is the fact that the Earth today is peopled by such a vast number of souls. He spoke of a veritable 'gathering of souls' upon the Earth. These numberless human beings, however, bear within them the revelations of all the epochs that are now rising again before the eyes of man. The products of all civilisations, all the thoughts, all the feelings, all the impulses of will that have ever existed among human beings - everything is there. But this suggests something that must be faced and understood with the clear light of knowledge. If we envisage the modern age in a picture and see the whole previous history of mankind reappearing in the human beings who have gathered as souls upon the Earth, we shall realise that humanity to-day is passing through the same experience as that undergone by the individual when he passes through the Gate of Death. From the spiritual investigations of Rudolf Steiner we know that when the physical body has been laid aside at death, a tableau of the whole life that has just passed arises before the soul. All the details of childhood, youth, adult life and old age appear before the eyes of the soul, not one after the other as they occurred, but as if time had become space. The events and meetings, the thoughts and feelings, the hopes and disappointments in the life of the individual stand there side by side before the human soul immediately after death like a picture unrolled. But what happens at death again and again to the individual, is taking place in humanity to-day as a unique process. The whole evolution of mankind through the centuries and millennia is there around us in pictures of space. Every­thing that has ever been stands before us. Because the whole Earth has become our home, the history of mankind stands before our eyes like a scroll of destiny unrolled. And it is this that creates the confusion. During the years of the twentieth century, humanity as one whole has passed through death and is gazing at the tableau of its life hitherto as at a revelation. We might also use the words of Rudolf Steiner when he said that humanity of the twentieth century has passed over the threshold leading into the spiritual world. All that ever was is being unrolled before us. But we have taken the step leading into the spiritual world; as humanity we have passed through death and as humanity we must awaken in the spiritual world. But because we still bear the forces of the past within us, and because the future is beating mightily in upon us in the many supersensible phenomena of which human beings become the channels, in all the ideas of a future social order which people are striving already today to put into practice, the actual present is forgotten. The 'present' in modern humanity now is constituted by the passing through death, the crossing of the threshold leading to the spiritual world. The whole history of humanity lies outspread in space; space has become the mirror of the ages. And all illnesses which befall us to-day as epidemics are simply temporary phenomena which endeavour to rebuff hidden impulses of the past or clamorous shoutings of the future. This veil that is striving to overlay the present must be rent asunder. Every individual must be able to perceive and understand that humanity is crossing over the threshold to the spiritual world.

There is one remedy and one alone that is capable of countering illnesses of the age - of whatever nature -.
It is the content of the book by Rudolf Steiner which bears as its title this monumental question:
Wie erlangt man Erkenntnisse der hoheren Welten? (How can we attain knowledge of the spiritual world ?).*
*      Published in English under the title: Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and  its Attainment.


This is a question put to every single human being as a kind of ultimatum. For the age in which we are living has itself led us across the threshold and realisation of this fact is essential in modern existence. But the struggle in the life of soul that takes place in this experience of the threshold is at the same time the soil for all the illnesses of the age.

Every human being who experiences his tragic loneliness in these modern days, every human being who has advanced to the zero-point of knowledge, who stands before a void, the many who find suicide the only way out, who give themselves up to despair or to the intoxication of passion - all of them are facing, inwardly, this crossing of the threshold. As humanity, death has come upon us. If every human being knows this clearly and recognises it in the situations arising in his life, then in the midst of the confusion he will find the straight path of his destiny, and he will understand the death that has befallen humanity with its numberless abysses and paradoxes. Those who have gazed at Grunewald's portrayal of how amid manifold temptations St. Anthony maintains his manhood among a brood of misshapen monsters, animals and demons, will be able to understand the meaning of the present age. And this meaning must be clear to us before we can consider the nature of the illnesses that have insinuated themselves into the destiny of the human race.

In connection with the illnesses characteristic of our time we have spoken of conditions in the world in general and of the place of the human soul within that world. We have considered this from a point of view which would seem to provide a clue for understanding this subject.

We have also tried, by studying the nature of man, to discover the way in which he is connected with the times in which he lives, and it was said that the human head is the bearer of impulses of the
past, whereas the metabolic-limb man is the germ of a future that is coming into being. In his rhythmic system alone man lives as a being of the present.

In order to understand prevailing illnesses in a definitely organic sense, we must now endeavour to speak of man's being in still greater detail, if we are to be capable of forming a judgment of characteristic mani­festations of illness. Rudolf Steiner has spoken from many different aspects about the physical-supersensible nature of the three members of man's being. He has indicated the existence in the human head of processes in polaric contrast to those working in the lower man. Intelligent study of these indications gives rise to the conception of a twofold nature at work both in the human head and in the metabolic-limb system.

If we think merely of the physical picture presented by the head, everything suggests passivity-in the hardness of its bony structure, in its low temperature, in the quiescence with which it is poised upon the rest of the body. Our consciousness is withdrawn from the head as such, for we neither hear nor see it and are only aware of its actual presence in a dim consciousness of life. The head has itself withdrawn in order that it may act as a mirror for something else. We do not see our eyes, but the colours of the surrounding world. We do not hear our ears, but the sounds and tones of nature. We smell and taste, not our organs, but the substances round about us. The head must be regarded as passive-a mirror of colour, sound, smell, taste. We do not perceive the head in itself, but the picture it reveals.

In contrast to this, the limbs make manifest the active side of our being. They take hold of, work and intervene in the processes of the earthly world. Our will lives itself out through the limbs, using them as its instrument. The head is shaped as a sphere by the forces of the vaulted heaven of stars, whereas the limbs, with their pillar-form, represent the formative powers of the forces of earthly gravity. If we think of it in a picture, we may say: the form of the head is such that everything strives
towards a centre, and this centre lies, organically, at that point in the middle of the brain where the pineal gland is situated. By contrast, we may conceive of the form of the limbs as radiating outwards from a centre and this centre too is to be found, organically, in the region of the heart. The pineal gland, therefore, is the organ towards which the formative forces of the head are directed; the heart is the structure whence the formative forces of the limbs radiate outwards. Thus we have discovered two centres in the human organism-one centripetal and the other centrifugal in action, the one situated in the head as the bearer of the past, and the other-the germ of the future-in the lower man. Forces streaming into the being of man give shape and form to the head, work downwards to the heart and from thence radiate into the world through the limbs.



From another angle of perception, however, we can envisage the being of man in exactly the opposite way. The head is a passive organisation. But another picture arises when we remember that there can be no sense-perceptions, no life of thought or ideation without the development of some act of will. Rudolf Steiner has indicated repeatedly that the sense-organs themselves, in their supersensible form, can be regarded as 'limbs' in active interplay with the surrounding world, thus enabling us not only to have purely mental images but real pictures of that world, to distinguish objects, to observe phenomena and grasp them with intelligence. Physically, the head is passive, but supersensibly it must be conceived as an organisation of enhanced activity. These invisible 'limbs,' streaming from the central point of the head-the pineal gland-stretch actively into the environment by way of the sense-organs.

And now let us think of the limbs themselves-the physical limbs. Rudolf Steiner indicated once that these limbs are nothing but organs through which the supersensible forces and influences from the environment stream into the interior of the body. The essential part of the limbs is not physical substance but instreaming supersensible force. We may think of the limbs as sensitive organs, and the forces streaming into them meet again in the lower man to build up the organisation of a supersensible head. All the organs below the diaphragm are physical petrifactions of this supersensible head-activity. The wisdom manifested by the forces of digestion in these organs is the expression of the thinking of the supersensible head-organisation.

In this way, a different picture of man's being arises. In the limbs we recognise instreaming, centripetal forces, giving shape to a supersensible head in the lower man, rising upwards from thence and taking active hold of the surrounding world through the senses.




We now have an idea of the twofold working of the being of man. The one stream is from above down­wards; the head is passive, the limbs are active. The second stream is from below upwards; the limbs here are passive, the sense-organs and the head active. If, now, we ask ourselves in what way these two streams are physically perceptible, we must speak of two organisations working as polar opposites in our being. The stream working from above downwards is represented by the nervous system.  And this nervous system in its totality is the picture of our past, of the destiny we bear with us as beings of soul-and-spirit when we are born on the Earth. The whole of our past destiny streams through the nerves, forming the head as a passive organ and giving shape, through the limbs, to the earlier impulses that have lived within us.

The basis of the other stream, however, is the upbuilding process connected with lymph and blood. We cannot say that anything is actually brought into existence here, but there arises, in germ, the future destiny we shall some day fulfil. The supersensible forces flow into our limbs, shaping and forming the future; they flow upwards to the head as germinal will-force and through the senses take hold of the otherwise passive environment. It is possible, therefore, at this ponit, to speak more concretely of a being of the past who is working within us by way of the nerves, and of a being of the future who is shaping this future within us in the processes connected with lymph and blood. Our life of thought and ideation bears the forces of our past destiny. This life of thought is nothing but a remembrance of what once was. But our life of will works actively and unceasingly as a renewing force, and is none other than a prescience of future destiny. Forces of antipathy work in the nerve-stream; forces of sympathy in the processes of lymph and blood.

We see how the human being is placed between his own past and future destiny, between the workings of blood and nerve, and the rhythmic organisation is again revealed as the system by means of which balance is created between the other two. The rhythmic man is the creator of the present. The present is a power which man must unceasingly master, by uniting, and again separating, past and future. This is precisely what takes place in the rhythmic system, for the breathing receives into itself the forces of the past as they flow from the nerves, and bears them into the limbs. And the heartbeat receives the germinal forces of the future and pours them into the germinal will in the sense­organs. Heart-beat and breath unite and separate, creating that arena of the present wherein the human soul can experience freedom.

This preliminary study will throw light on the nature of characteristic illnesses of our time. Different diseases have been mentioned, and, broadly speaking, two groups may be distinguished.

Certain illnesses are invariably accompanied by a characteristic mood or attitude of soul, best described by the word resignation. Fear, or anxiety, on the other hand, is a symptom in those who suffer from a second type of illness. We all of us have these elements of resignation and fear within us to-day and they are the archetypes of the illnesses symptomatic of modern times. The typical manifestations are two increasingly common diseases, namely, encephalitis and angina pectoris.

Encephalitis-also known in non-medical circles as cerebral influenza - is an illness first described during the time of the war. It became prevalent in the trenches of the Western and Eastern fronts. Many different symptoms make their appearance in the incipient stages. The sufferers lose consciousness, have high fever, and frequently lie for weeks in a kind of cataleptic state. In many cases the rhythm of sleeping and waking is disturbed; the patients sleep by day and wake at night. Activity of the will is completely lacking. It seems no longer worth while to have any real contact with the environment.

Listlessness increases to such an extent that death becomes more desirable than life. After some weeks, when the acute symptoms have abated, a period of complete recovery apparently sets in, but after this interval, of varying duration, there is the onset of a new disease-process which may be described as the after-stage but is, in reality, the actual outbreak of the disease. In the early stages the patient is incapable of co-ordinating the movements of his limbs. This condition, varying in degree with different patients, gradually intensifies until the limbs become cataleptic and every movement seems to be checked. These patients appear to have lost all impulse for action. Their capacity for thinking, however, remains unimpaired, indeed in most cases it is clear and even enhanced, but any activity of will proceeding from the life of thought is altogether lacking. If we set such patients a goal, they can achieve it, but they are quite incapable of setting one for themselves. The impression they make is that their whole body has become a head that is still capable of thinking but can no longer will. Their existence runs its course in a state of complete quiescence. Impressions come to them but produce no reaction. Their whole being - like the organs of sense-has surrendered itself passively to the environment. What is it that has been lost ?-Not only all stimulus to action but also the possibility of living out past destiny-for such patients are incapable of activity. Life has come to a standstill for them. They have no present but only a past which is spreading itself over the organism and preventing the germ of future destiny from coming into being. Because they are all head, all nerves, these patients have bec6me altogether bearers of the past; present and future are no longer there.

Quite the opposite picture appears in the case of angina pectoris. These patients are people who can do nothing whatever without fear and anxiety in their hearts.

If one can say of those who suffer from encephalitis that they are capable of action but incapable of will, so one can say of patients suffering from the fear and anxiety characteristic of angina pectoris, that they are capable of will but incapable of action.

The impulse for action is certainly not lacking, but at the moment of fulfilment an obstacle is placed in the way of the deed by the fear which creeps from the heart into the soul, hindering the deed. Such patients have a sensation of constant pressure in the region of the chest ; they are full of anxieties and are aware of trembling in the limbs. They cannot rid themselves of these organic sensations which have crept into their life as forces of obstruction. Such patients can only will; they cannot act. The impulse for action is there but not the possibility of fulfilment. They are like men always on the point of springing but never daring to spring.

What is happening here? Just as the encephalitic type has become only past, so is the sufferer from angina pectoris only future. The destiny to be fulfilled at a later time is already intervening in the present life, hindering the forces of destiny belonging to an earlier life from inscribing themselves in the earthly world. The impulse for action is there, but the action is not fulfilled. A patient of this type has succumbed to the forces of his blood and is like a germ hovering in existence, without the past and without the present. The condition grows in intensity and the torment of anxiety becomes so great that all clear thinking is clouded and irrational actions are the result. The patients are often stupefied by fear and incapable of a sane outlook upon life.

These two pictures reveal the nature of the under­lying forces running through our time as opposing powers. We have characterised them in the words 'resignation' and 'fear.' The encephalitic patient, fettered as he is to the past, has renounced real existence in the present; the sufferer from angina pectoris, chained to the future, is afraid of the present. Existence is torn asunder in both cases. The sufferers are incapable of really taking hold of the present and for this reason the freedom which must be the goal of all activity and endeavour in our times, is beyond their reach.

Every human being stands before these two portals on which the words 'fear' and 'resignation' are inscribed in monumental signs. The one portal leads into the past, the other into the future. If one of the portals only is closed upon him, man can no longer be a free being. Illness overtakes him and he becomes a representative of the woes of modern life.

In a further article an attempt will be made to continue the subject of illnesses characteristic of the times in which we are living.


(To be continued.)


These articles by Dr. K6nig are appearing, in German, in the periodical issued by the Anthroposophische Arbeitsgemeinschafi, Stuttgart, and are published by kind permission.


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