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  Two "Problem Children" - Individual Destiny and Karma of the Age

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By: Gisbert Husemann, M.D.
pgs. 59-63.docFor a long time now, the problem child has proved a fruitful topic in education, in educational advice given to parents, in many books and newspaper articles. The concept has been known for years in homeopathy, with a number of homeopathic medicines available on the indication.

When we, as physicians, hear of a child who does not come up to parental expectations, and when certain symptoms suggest that this is not just a matter of impatience where one party is concerned and disobedience for the other, but a genuine medical and educational problem, such a child will not infrequently make us think back from the present situation to the threshold of birth, which involves tremendous changes, externally and in the internal organs. I am sure this is something every physician who works with parents and children knows from experience. Such experience was taken into account when the decision was made to consider the two cases observed by Rudolf Steiner, basing ourselves on existing notes. The actual data are quickly presented, but if we wish to gain real understanding, we are faced with challenges that go much further, though only brief mention can be made of them in the present paper.

The first case was reported to me by Sofie Bauer, Bad Cannstatt, on December 14, 1941 and again in 1947. Mrs Bauer was a painter by profession. She had done wood-carving on the First Goetheanum and later been asked to make the eurythmy costumes in Dornach and look after them, getting them ready for rehearsals and performances. She also gave painting therapy to patients sent to her by Dr Ita Wegman from the Institute of Clinical Therapy. One was a boy of whose history she knew only as much as Dr Wegman told her. The first child in the family, a girl, had died. The second child was this boy, who had a talent for painting and was now of primary school age. He was a problem child and was therefore presented to Rudolf Steiner who said words to the effect that the girl had died (literally) "because she could not gain her mother's acceptance". According to Mrs Bauer the mother was "somewhat unusual". Please note that the girl had lived for a time, but the obstacles that arose in the relationship to her mother proved insurmountable, so that the child withdrew from life. The individuality who had been the girl was then born again to the same mother as this boy. He was the difficult child in question. Rudolf Steiner identified the child's particular nature in the above terms. His advice was to let the boy paint, and this is why he was sent to Mrs. Bauer.
Light extends into the body via the eye. The painting hand takes hold of colors, and mind, soul and body enter into the harmonizing activities of the colors. The boy willingly took up the examples given by Mrs Bauer. He was now ready and able to imitate, showing no resistance, and this had probably been the heart of the medical and educational problem. Through imitation, growth principles are incorporated in the body. The child's physical and emotional relationship to his mother predominated. He had to overcome resistance when imitating anything relating to his mother, but encountered no resistance with the colors. We look beyond the threshold of birth and into reincarnation and learn that there is a rational treatment involving art and medicine that will overcome obstacles to incarnation.

We have considered the psychological situation of a child with "behavioral problems" and then gone beyond birth and death. We came to assess the role played by the mother and as physicians were required to clearly understand the profound significance of colors both in the sphere of the senses and beyond it. The medical and educational aspect of the case extends the physician's and the teacher's horizon beyond birth and death. The creative powers of colors were used to strengthen the boy's own powers, just as we may prescribe other, medicinal roborants, or baths, perhaps. The color element has a breath that extends far back, and it addresses the soul directly. The painting hand holds the will of the individual to let the I find its way into the body.

The notes concerning the second case were made by the undersigned in 1936, the occasion being a visit to a cancer patient, 2 months before his death. He spoke of his life, and this included a reference to his now grown-up son. He had been a rascal as a child - what boy does not go through that stage? When he had to get used to regular attendance at school, however, it became apparent that as time went on he was increasingly irritated by something in his environment as a whole, and his conduct would be problematical. He was not overchallenged intellectually but was not able to adopt the manner expected of young people within a school and classroom. His teachers did not know how to deal with this. Rudolf Steiner was finally consulted when the young miscreant had actually attracted the attention of the police. His advice was to set the boy tasks that went beyond his age, and they should be such that in working on a task he would feel responsible for finding the solution. It sounds rather easy, doesn't it? Surely this was more by way of general advice? It gains significance, however, and wisdom-filled meaning, if we realize that the cause of the problem actually lay elsewhere in the boy. Steiner told the mother, "He was prevented." The parents confirmed that this was so. Not once in his life had the boy been able to experience his innate I-development age to be properly in agreement with his environment. The older he got the greater the lack of harmony between himself and his environment. The I was forced to cope with a time shift of several years, and that was the reason for his refractoriness and centrifugal disruption and chaos. The method proposed, to set tasks prematurely, caught up with the boy, as it were; those tasks let him be older, they addressed a boy older than he was. The feeling of responsibility was to be a sheet anchor for the I when time was thus anticipated. He would then be momentarily more mature, and this was the crux of the matter, the educational therapy. The shift in the boy's life plan was balanced out.

The teacher is given a wonderful task here, something quite outside the sphere of a physician's way of seeing things. On the other hand a physician works to quite a different degree with the set of causes indicated above than a teacher does. If we use such cases to broaden our medical and educational horizons and at the same time see education as a field of permanent study for both teachers and school physicians, we need not despair or make it a (convenient) excuse that Steiner, of course, knew everything. The challenges offered to us generally also produce the ability to meet them.

The above case is highly symptomatic. It presents a vast number of questions that go far beyond the work of teachers and physicians and are quite daunting for our thinking and understanding, let alone our ability to take action. This shows itself the moment terms like "contraception" and "legal abortion" are mentioned. 300,000 terminations per annum in Germany (Prof. J. Pechstein, 1992). We have to realize that human beings have themselves brought about this and many other situations which they are no longer able to cope with. These situations have long since assumed a life of their own, and people can no longer find the active will to deal with things which they know only too well ought to be tackled. At bottom, humanity is bound up with all that happens on earth and in the cosmos. The non-physical world is part of human nature and part of the world. Human beings generate tensions and reactions in the world of the elements and fail to see that they are responsible. The parents of that boy had no idea as to why they had such a problem child. Today we cannot avoid external disasters in the chemical industry, in physical energy production, even if we take responsibility. Our own products are turning against us. We have to ask ourselves how many people are still born at the right time, at their kairos, and allowed to live. Many have been deprived of what their karma had laid down for them.

The following words of Rudolf Steiner, historically very much to the point, can show us how profoundly the conditions of life have changed. The question as to how far this applies outside western civilization may be left open. On 8 August 1924 Rudolf Steiner spoke of hidden trends in modern history, at a time when humanity has for centuries turned entirely to the sphere of matter:

In the time between the founding of Christianity and the age of the spiritual soul, which is signalized above all by the 9th century and the year 869 AD, the karma of human beings came into disorder. This is one of the deepest and most important statements that can possibly be made with regard to modern history. Chaos has entered into the history of recent times.(1)

Those words were preceded by a lengthy exposition on the relationship of human beings to the third hierarchy. A certain spiritual balance has to exist between the human sphere and that of the spiritual entities. It was upset, and this has brought disorder into historical life. Every individual has a genius who belongs exactly to the hierarchy, the relationship to whom is out of balance with humanity. This genius stays with the individual through births, incarnations, and life after death.

How does the modern practice of keeping or driving the human individuality away from the birth threshold affect the relationship to the spirits who guide us? Does it serve to harmonize the spiritual balance? Or does it in fact do the opposite? The case reported above provides an excellent example of how today it is often only possible to perceive a problem that exists for thousands by considering a single instance. The emergence of the new problem also shows very clearly that we must have new knowledge concerning the threshold to the world of the spirit and the gates of birth and death if we are to awaken a feeling of responsibility and the ability to take responsibility in an effective way. The further away we are from the reality of the spirit the greater must be the inevitable chaos. New knowledge will bring concepts to the conscious mind that enable us to perceive the karma of our age and find the right therapeutic measures. The significance an individual case holds for creating a healthy situation can only be judged by considering the whole.

Apart from their medical and educational aspects, the stories of the two children also point to more profound spiritual realities. Rudolf Steiner referred to these in the chapter on Details from the Domain of Spiritual Science in his Occult Science. He refers to the decision to incarnate, which precedes physical birth by a long way. Wishing to reincarnate, the core of the individuality's being must have a sufficient "thirst" for a new existence. When that thirst has "reached its full intensity" there may be no possibility of finding an incarnation that is "well adapted", with physical conception not providing a suitable body at the time. These problems of adaptation, which are quite general, will after birth result in "the prevailing mood and attunement to life" of the individual. The core of being may be said to be anchored in its own right moment in time.

For the two children, their moment in time had resulted in an unfortunate mood and attunement to life. Their physical birth had made the problem of adaptation highly problematic. The moment of birth had shifted in time, with the result that the development program may be said to have broken down after birth. The adults connected with the child found themselves helpless.

What can we learn from these two childhood parables? The core of the human being has its karmic moment of incarnation. When we perceive a spiritual reality that lies outside the world of the senses, in the present case concerning a human being, we can only see it as something sacred in the earthly world. In other words, parents, teachers and physicians perceive a sacramental idea of occult maintenance of health.
Gisbert Husemann, MD Friedrich-List-Str. 27, D-73760 Osfildem Germany

1S R K T G A

The prevailing mood of an individual in relation to the time of incarnation
The re-entry of the human being into earthly life is an outcome of these two factors: the inner thirst of the soul for incarnation, and the cosmically given possibility of finding a suitable bodily nature. Two factors therefore have to work in conjunction. Hence in one instance incarnation may result even before the "thirst" has reached its full intensity, a well-adapted incarnation being within reach; while in another it may have to wait till the thirst has outlived its normal culmination, since at the proper time no opportunity was given. Insofar as it is due to the whole character and quality of his bodily constitution, a man's prevailing mood and attunement to life will also be the outcome of these conditions.
- Rudolf Steiner, from Occult Science, an Outline.

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