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The Anthroposophic point of view on anxiety conditions /phobias, obsessions/

A lot has been written and said about anxiety disorders and their primary manifestations in the form of different situational, social and specific phobias – THE FEAR OF CONFRONTING A PARTICULAR SITUATION. This category also includes situations with intrusive thoughts and repetitive actions in our everyday personal and professional routine, as a kind of a fixed ritual of thought and behavior, which serves to calm and suppress the fears in question. Judging by its objective characteristics the phobia with all its variations is an obsessive fixated behavior towards a particular object, situation or space…

There are about 300 types of fear known so far. The research data points out that about 10% of the world population suffers from some form of a phobia, 2/3 of these people being female. One or two in 100 men and two or three out of a 100 women have a phobia. There are different levels of a fear, some of which never get to be diagnosed. Diagnosed or not, though it is a fact that the phobias and intrusive conditions /once classified as Neuroses/ are on the rise today, especially in respect to social phobias.

The fear of confrontation with a particular situation and the imaginary consequences of this confrontation form a vicious circle that fixates a person’s activity, thought and soul in situations illogical to other people, in realization of one’s own helplessness and the resulting suffering. The roots reach far back into the childhood to over-ambitious and paralysing parents, perfection seeking teachers, suppressing society – all of them injuring the vigorous impulses of the personality towards vitality, the search for new horizons, freedom. With the passing of the years the chronic self-reflection on a deep personal level turns into fear, shyness, constant doubt, low self-assessment and insecurity. This can escalate to the point of surrounding oneself with familiar and safe modes of life, behaviour, thinking, even to the absurdity of daily obsessions and fears.

They provide us with a security we find nowhere else. They “protect” us from a world, which we feel as more and more insecure, and endangering our existence and vitality. Internally we start petrifying, a stop to all sorts of circulation of thoughts and actions, other than the “secure” ones. Feelings also get blunted – that way is safer. The adopted seeking of security is not a disorder in the sense implied by the official medical classifications – ICD 10. The search for security in this manner is a way to adapt in an insecure and rejectful world.

There’s an image of a flower in my mind, which remains enclosed in an absurd way, despite of the seeming harmony of light, warmth and most benevolent conditions around it… And although this might be impossible in the natural world, within the human soul, where our thoughts, feelings and volitional impulses for action intertwine in so many complex configurations, this enclosure, cocooning and petrification within oneself is a fact. There are flowers in the floral world, which even the lightest of touch or the most shocking of environmental changes can cause to wither and die. Although they haven’t literally been physically harmed but only “touched” by the world.

From the anthroposophic spiritual science we know that in the floral world the physical injury gets tended and overcomed by the vital forces of the plant. They are a carrier of the internal healing process and thanks to them it recovers. The described above unexpected “dying” is actually a total interference in the vital forces of the plant, which, although living an isolated from the physical body life /where their internal healing force stems from/ literally wither and die in this situation, under the pressure of the external influences.

In case of external injury in the animal kingdom – the higher the complexity of the organism’s structure, the harder the regeneration on physical level. This is because in its constitution the life forces /the ethereal body/ not only feed the vitality of the physical body, they are now much more interdependent – a harmed physical body is a harmed ethereal body as well. The etheric forces “get drawn” and utilized more and more in the circle of life, by the so called astral body of the animal nature – the external disturbances influence a lot more often and deeper the internal processes of the creature, and it reacts impulsively. It is no longer as easy for the living body to concentrate by itself its own healing power and influence within its physical body. Its task becomes complicated - it is literally “attacked” by the external conditions.

”The more salient the astral activity, the more the creature opens towards the external world. Therefore, the astral body connects the internal being of a creature with the outside world. The more the astral activity grows, the more powerful forces the ethereal body needs to utilize, in order to restore from the received injuries.” /R. Steiner/

When we get to the human we are faced with its I, the part of its being, which carries physically and the spiritually inherited in the same time /from its previous incarnations, but it constructs a parental couple, within which it is born/, and in the same time chooses its present terrestrial fights, conflicts, concepts of good and evil, of right and wrong, of truth and lie… The individual impulses get combined with a degree of conscious experiences, with the unfolded temporal vision unto past, present and future.

”The human ethereal body changes according to the life it has on the verge between good and evil, borders between truth and lie and so on. All of this influences the human ethereal body greatly.” /R. Steiner/

From our birth forth our life dependent on the feelings, on our sympathies and antipathies, on the feeling of coherence and separation. From an early age we face super-correctives, which teach us how to behave, how to eat, how to laugh, how not to cry, and how to love… even that! The thing coming from without collides with the thing that is inside and we’ve brought into this life. Some call this a “conflict”, but this is only the foam that reaches the surface. The clash diffuses within us, it finds no external outlet and starts working in our soul – in our thoughts, feelings and actions, slowly and methodically. The external super-correctives get gradually accepted as our own – a defensive manoeuvre of the psyche, in order for us to physically exist in a world that doesn’t understand us. The internalised super-correctives submerge into our astral body, our feelings get dominated and dampened, from there they interweave with our ethereal body as accepted, but unassimilated and rejected by our human being forms of thought, and there they remain as mordant sores. The ethereal body of people with all sorts of phobias and anxieties is filled with such unprocessed, unaccepted from them expectations, evaluations, views of the world and forms of thought.

”In the course one’s life a human collects a lot of experiences, which she automatically with its own I. Within her they become concepts, the she refines those concepts and so on. But think of the countless experiences and impressions that never grow to the level of our concepts, that don’t reach the mind and despite that play a big role in the spiritual life of a human.” /R. Steiner/

The forms of thought that we are aware of /using the concept of a thing to construct its imagery-idea and the respective comprehension/ get selectively allowed by our psyche to live and integrated within it. But the forms that have somehow passed under the threshold of our comprehension, understanding, conceptual level rush into our psyche and start living a life of their own. There is now form of thought that is unaffiliated with some kind of feeling within us, and often some kind of conscientious experiences, which instil a feeling of imaginary guilt. Thus conscious or not, it works on an emotional level as well and from there it gets fixated into our ethereal body. The I of such a person consolidates the physical, ethereal and astral body, but that person doesn’t feel free and is unable to influence the ethereal and astral levels within. Its freedom has been taken by those same unassimilated forms of thought. It is on the edge between freedom and captivity within itself. Actually the thought-forms under the threshold dampen the internal space of our souls from a point – we don’t really have the freedom to our feelings and vital experiences, as well as the freedom of our actions – they are sucked in by them, monotonous and ritualistic. In that way the thought-forms create our fears.

”And if a person thinks about these astonishing processes, she will fathom what an infinitely great responsibility we carry for the early childhood education and significant lights, and shadows, which it projects on the later stages of life. A living part of the past ceaselessly carries forward and forms our future… It is indeed concepts, which pose no obstacle for our conscious mind that lead way more severe spiritual disorders: neurasthenia, neurosis, hysteria or directly to psychic disorders. All of these phenomena play out clearly before us as interactions between past and future events in the course of the human life.” /R. Steiner/

A perfect, yet bitter example of similar dead thought-forms doesn’t come only from the misunderstood educational parenting models but from the early childhood educational intellectualisation of children as it currently is. It is not walking heads that go to school that should be exposed to dry theory and mechanically learnt lessons but human beings, which go through extremely vital processes during the course of their maturation. These are also processes influencing the formation of the organs in a child’s body. Now imagine that this stuffing gets legal before the age of seven, while the ethereal body of the child is gradually starting to live a life separate from the Spiritual life, supported by the mother as well. Even at that moment it is under siege by the incomprehensible thought-forms of the educational surroundings, of the world around. At that moment the ethereal body gets blocked and this process continues later on, giving unfortunately birth to its troublesome products years after that…

What’s also important is the anthroposophic idea of cyclical rhythm on all levels – internal and external, in the human life. From the rhythm between the human pulse and the inhalation-exhalation, through the rhythm of experiencing the different stages of our life, to the natural rhythms, in which we all take part – the lunar phases, the rhythm of the seasons, the change of day and night, the rhythm of celebrations, to the grand planetary and universal cycles. Yes, somewhere there one human being has created a rhythm of her own, her own fixed ritual or fixated behaviour in a particular environment or situation, which bring her security but seemingly non-subordinated to all other rhythmical membranes outside of it – natural and cosmic. The thing that can enforce this creature is for it to open its senses again for this close and distant vitality of the world, from its own nucleus towards the healthy great rhythm of the world. The natural healthy rhythm, provided by nature, is the force, which strengthens the vital body, cleanses it and empowers its healing powers.

How to wreck, destroy and annihilate these dead thought forms within us? Actually they are dead to our mind but in reality they are active inside us. The first and foremost condition is to realize that we have them and that the problem with a neurosis, phobia or any other such state, stems from them. The realization, comprehension, rationalization and subsequently forgiving, after years of battle, is a difficult process, and of course it can be assisted by a therapist, whom you can trust. Due to the problem being located in the ethereal body, which fluctuates towards the astral one and is firmly bound to the physical, it is important that a person works with her physical body, thus influencing the ethereal as well. Anthroposophy gives an incredible opportunity through healing eurhythmy in this direction – to try, while listening to the music and its rhythm, to find the proper correspondence in a particular form, which we search for while venturing through space – at first with the lower limbs, on a following hearing – with the lower limbs and the hands, and after that – with the whole body. Our physical body gradually builds a free form in space, which is like a mirror reflection of the breaking of our internal captivity… The dance bears a similar importance.

The story of the ancient greek god Pan is an interesting one /where the word “panic” comes from – “uncontrollable fear” in states of phobia, but a “universe” as well!/, born half-human, half-goat. Along with his habit to terrify unexpecting travellers through the forest with his monstrous figure, he was also one of the most excellent dancers among the gods, and also played a reed flute to entertain the nymphs. One of them had thrown herself in the river Ladona, while being chased by him. One terrifying god that created beauty as well. Maybe this is one more way for a person to face and transform the horror within from the encounter with god Pan! The humane and the spiritual, the semianimalistic and the instinctive, along with that which connects us directly with the Divine world – the world of the art as a part of the real Universe.

Dorina Vasileva
Clinical and social psychologist
Anthroposophic medicinal pedagogy and social therapy

"Нека никога не те е грижа за лъжите, а търси винаги мира в истината"
антр.лекар д-р Фр.Келер към мен, за мен

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