Metals and psychotherapy

This article deals with the metals as the backbone of anthroposophically oriented therapy of mental diseases.  The relationship of a metal to the affected organ will be discussed briefly.  For more specific and detailed information, the reader is referred to the author’s chapter on psychiatry in Vol. II Part 2, Fr. Husemann, O. Wolff, “The Image of Man as the Basis of the Art of Healing. [The Anthroposophical Approach to Medicine, vol. III]”  The examples given in this article are based on experience in the Friedrich Husemann Clinic, Buchenbach (Freiburg, Germany) observations by other psychiatrists and doctors of family medicine as well as my own experience.  These topics have been discussed in the “Hochschulwochen fuer Psychiatrie” [psychiatry week] held at the Medical Section of the Goetheanum.


Through its connection with the reproductive organs, silver points to the beginning of human life, to the embryo.  Besides the relationship to the Self—which all metals have in common—we see that silver has a strong relation to the life-building ether body which is not only active in the processes of mental and physical illnesses but also in their healing.  Silver is therefore often used at the beginning of psychotherapy.  It will be easier for a patient to find contact with the therapist and the clinic if he receives silver medication.  Through the silver process the patient will re-enter his body again as he had initially in the beginning of his life.  Silver brings about an easier flow of conversation, because through it, memories are freed from the unconscious and also stimulates the fantasy.  Caution is needed here with hysterical patients!

The silver preparation dyscrasite is recommended in this case.

Silver also leads the patient back to the beginning of his illness, creating a new situation from which to start therapy.  If the illness developed in childhood or had its roots there, one has to think especially of silver medication.

This also applies to compulsive neurosis which can originate in childhood, and for schizophrenic psychosis, with its precondition in childhood or adolescence, and to the anorexia nervosa, a condition, in which the patient does not want to grow up, but rather wants to remain a child.

A silver therapy is indicated when dealing with shock.  In experiencing a “shock” a patient’s “astral body” gets shocked out of his body, especially out of the region of the reproductive organs.  Spastic conditions in the stomach and intestinal tract point toward a displaced “astral body.” Disturbances in sexual functions indicate a malfunction itself organically in sexual neurosis with disturbance of sexual functions.  Silver will help the “astral body” to incorporate itself into the reproductive system.

Indications:  Silver

Initial medication in support of psychotherapy.  Assisting psychiatric treatment in all mental disturbances, which have their origin in early childhood.  Silver is also the main medication in the treatment of the aftereffects of shock, of hysteria and sexual neurosis.

Each metal has a regulating, equalizing effect and reveals thereby its relationship to the I, which has to maintain an equilibrium in the whole organ system.


Argentum Praep. is the foremost preparation to restore such a balance.

Argentite, through its sulfur component, is related to the metabolic pole of the body and has therefore a relaxing and healing effect.  Argentite is especially indicated for treatment of a hardened organism and hardened psychological processes.  Argentite is excellent as an initial medication in compulsive neurosis.  Caution is needed with redheads or patients with blond hair, who have a “sulfur-rich” constitution.

Dyscrasite: The antimony combination of silver is particularly useful as an initial medication in hysterical patients.  Dyscrasite has the effect of “restructuring” the overflowing body and soul forces of a patient helping to re-establish a normal relationship of those sexual forces which have invaded the soul life.


Potency: Mostly low (D6) because the effect is directed towards the metabolic system.  Give peroral or as injection (subc.)

            Bryophyllum: This sprouting, “upwelling hysteria plant”—which R. Steiner introduced to treat hysteria—can well be combined with silver.  Low potency (50%) per os, D2, D3 as injections in thin patients, higher potency (D5-D10) with obese patients.  Bryophyllum Argento cultum D2, D3 can be given in mild cases and at the start of a silver therapy.


            Copper reveals a primal relationship to the whole kidney system.  The astral body which lives in the air organism and creates the emotional life is also active in the “incretion” (collection) and excretion of urine, thereby dominating the kidney system.  With each excitement, with each tempest in the soul, the astral body lifts slightly out of the kidney system.  Left to itself, the astral body tends to succumb to its inborn polarity, pleasure and displeasure gripping it with elemental force.  Influences from the world outside stimulate the astral body to excitement having pleasure or displeasure or leading to apathy and boredom.

            These changes weaken the equilibrium of the feeling life, the emotional center of the Self.  We find the “cooling” and “graying” of emotions as an early symptom of a psychosis.  It points to a gradual loss of the patient’s feeling center.  In cases of pathological boredom, e.g. the so-called vacuum neurosis, the main problem is this dysfunction of the emotions.  Copper counteracts the polarization of the astral body and encourages the development of warmer feelings connected with the Self.


The restless, excitable or apathic, neurotic patient and schizoid psychopath.  The neurotic and schizophrenic patient who exhibits an emotional deficit and has great difficulties to get into contact with other people.  Prophylactic for restlessness and excitatory states as well as for neurotic patients with periods of apathy.


Cuprum praep. in med. potency (mostly D6).  Corresponding to argentite: Chalkosin, is the sulfur combination of copper.   This medication is especially indicated when the overflowing excitement is combined with bodily dissimilation, as can be observed in thyreotoxic conditions.  Peroral D3, as an injection D6 together with Bryophyllum D2 or D3.

Cupro-Stibium:  This medication with antimony [Stibium] helps the forming forces in situations with disruptions of the feeling life.

Cuprum-Ren D4, D6:  This preparation with ren especially aimed at the kidney system.  The copper component in this preparation stimulates the enlivening process and raises the sensitivity.

Chamomilla Cupro culta D2, D3: is indicated in cases with symptoms showing too strong a kidney radiation combined with symptoms of emotional disturbance suggestive of a copper-symptomatology (cramps, hypertonia, etc.).

Melissa Cupro culta D2, D3: should be given in cases where the kidney radiation is too weak with hypotonia, cold sensations and venous congestion.

Nicotiana Cupro culta D2, D3:  is indicated when spasms occur under conditions in which the kidney radiation is too weak.



Mercury has a primary relationship to the respiratory organ, the lung.  In the lung the astral body is active in inspiration and expiration and is less bound to the organ than in the kidney.  The environment penetrates through the air directly into the human organism.  The soul life which unfolds in connection with the lung corresponds with the intimate relationship to the environment.  Pleasure and disgust develop here into the more differentiated feelings of sympathy and antipathy, through which the astral body opens up to the world or withdraws from the world.  The withdrawal of the sensitive soul from the world may intensify and develop into “compulsatory” disease.  The soul feels itself driven into a corner, remains full of anxiety and is unable to shed the overpowering impressions of the world.  Love of the world can lead to hysteria, during which the astral body attempts to realize those illusionary concepts which are related to influences of the lung.

            Mercury exhibits the described symptoms and disturbances of the soul in homeopathic provings.  It has the effect of balancing the respiration of the “soul” which overshoots from one or the other side.  In this way, mercury medication helps to produce a contact to the world and to the psychotherapist, which is more dominated by the Self.


A labile patient with inclination to changes in mood alternating between antipathy and sympathy.  As intermediate and basic remedy in the treatment of hysteria and “compulsive” diseases.

During disturbances of contact while under psychotherapy.


Mercur. viv. nat., the metallic mercury preparation as injection in med. potency (D10, D15), per os lower pot.  For support of psychotherapy the vegetabilized metal Bryophyllum Mercurio cultum D2, D3 is recommended.


Antimony (Stibium)

This half metal brings together in itself the effects of the three planets:  moon, venus and mercury (having their paths below the sun) and the corresponding effects of the three metals:  silver, copper, and mercury.  Processes of dissociation occur in patients such as schizoid neurotics and schizophrenics resulting in a loss of structure of the soul life.  It is possible that dissolution or dissimilation of organ protein could be the underlying cause of the described changes in these patients.  Antimony stimulates the process of new formation of organ protein:  through its silver component in the reproductive organs, through its copper component, the kidneys, through the mercury component the lungs.  Antimony essentially prevents an overshooting of dissolution processes in the organs and stimulates the Self to new formation of protein.  Observing the effects of antimony medication one can see a “structuring” effect going all the way from the physical body via the ether body to the soul life.  Not only are the inner dissociation processes influenced beneficially but also the split between soul and world found in these patients.  The latter is accomplished through medication with the mercury compound of antimony.  The structure in the soul life of the manic depressive patient can be noted following the antimony treatment.


In addition to the regular schizophrenic patients, the neurotic with schizoid trends and the manic patient.


Dyscrasite (Antimony combination of silver) has already been mentioned at the beginning of therapy.

Stibium praep. D6-D10 in cases where dissolution processes are in the foreground, peroral or as injection and also intravenous 5-10ml in schizophrenia.

Antimonite D6-D10, (Antimony-sulphuratum) is better in cases showing stronger dissociation and simultaneous fixation as seen in depressive patients.

Cupro-stibium is indicated for the treatment of disturbance of sensitivity in cases of schizophrenia or patients with schizoid character tendencies.

Helleborus niger (Christmas Rose) has major relationships to brain and kidney.  It is given as an accompanying plant therapy in the treatment of episodes of excitation and depression related to soul life influenced by the kidney.  Peroral D2, D6, inj. D4-D10.


The metal in the center of the seven metals has its primal relationship to the organ in the center of the physical body, the heart, which is also the central organ for the warmth organism.  These phenomena indicate that the heart is the central organ for the Ego.  In the movements of the heart, in systole and diastole, the polar tendencies of the physical body and the soul are manifested in a most concentrated form.  The balance between the systole and diastole is created by the Self entering into the process.

In contrast to the feeling life of the lungs, which either opens itself up to the world or shuts itself off from the world, the feeling life of the heart is more centralized and radiates into the world.  Feelings originating from the heart are filled with responsibility and conscience.  Through the voice of conscience the higher Self is speaking.  Radiating into life through the heart the Self is transforming sympathy into love and antipathy into the power of cognition.  Through this process, sympathy and antipathy become tools of the Self.  Disturbances in this process affect the heart, the center of existence of the Self.  Negative memories of the depressed patient can lead to self-reproach which have their origin in spastic tendencies in the interaction of Self and heart.  This in turn can lead to suicide.  If the heart is seized by excitation—rising to rage—the patient’s life and other lives are threatened.  Physical symptoms of heart disturbances can accompany or replace psychic symptoms: feelings of being oppressed at heart are often associated with guilt and appear in place of the latter.  Tachycardia can appear prior to an attack of rage or replace it.

The neurosis of the heart which is steadily increasing in our time has two components, of which one or the other may be emphasized.  Frequently an Ego conflict can be discovered in the life of the patient.  Something he had in mind to do but was unable to realize, leading to an oppression of the heart involving both physical and soul aspects.

Sometimes a responsibility burdens a patient which his Self cannot sustain.  The experience of death or of heart-rending departure can cause a heart neurosis when it is not worked out.  Conversations between the physician and the patient can become therapeutically very effective if the heart is really reached and gold medication is able to provide support.  Through the medication of gold the Ego is called upon to find again the center of its existence.

Working with gold as a therapy makes it very clear, that medication can never replace the patient’s own efforts.  Through gold, stages are built for a new healthier connection of the Ego with the body and life.  However, the Ego must go this path alone.  In some cases it becomes evident, that gold therapy is not only supportive of Ego therapy but quite frequently a condition for the effective use of the latter.  The Ego may have so strongly entered the heart organ—creating spasmodic episodes as in patients with angina pectoris—or it may have removed itself from the heart organ too far, as in patients having convulsive tachycardia that it cannot be reached through the “word” of the Ego therapy.  In this case, it is the gold medication which has to prepare the way for the world.

While silver is very useful at the beginning of psychotherapy, gold is of great benefit to end a period of psychotherapy.  Through gold, the Ego is called upon to take the development in its own hand and to enter into body and life in a new way, particularly when new possibilities have been opened up through previous therapies.


The depressive patient with self-reproach and thoughts of suicide.  The manic patient with megalomania and tendencies towards excitation and rage.  To support the Self in existential crises.  In neuroses of the heart.  To end a phase of psychotherapeutic treatment.

Potencies are of particular importance.  Low potencies (D6) in cases of agitation of the heart including cases of mania; as a preventive measure when the agitation leads towards a frenzy.

Higher potencies (D12-D20) are used in spasmodic conditions of the heart involving both body and soul and in depressive states associated with qualms of conscience.  The higher potencies facilitate the penetration of the body by the Self.  They contribute to a dissolution of cramps without resulting in psychic loosening.


Aurum praep. is most frequently used.  Mercur. aurat. is recommended in the treatment of patients who have suffered a depressive state for a longer period of time and the disease has become stagnant (D15 inj.). 



Again, the relation to the Ego is emphasized in iron, but it is not so central as in gold.  Iron accompanies the Ego in entering the body and earthly environment.  The force of incarnation is strengthened by iron going into the blood and enabling inner respiration in the tissues.

In the lungs the formation of the lung organ itself is influenced by iron in connection with the blood.  Through the iron-carrying blood entering the lungs the Ego can develop steadiness and activity confronting the impressions of the soul life of the lungs.  Out of this activity of the Ego arises the courage, which the compulsive neurotic patient has lost, who is full of anxiety.  Iron is, therefore, the essential metal for the treatment of compulsive mental diseases.  (Following the induction of therapy with silver medication and subsequent intermediate treatment with mercury).  Iron therapy is also able to give hysteric patients strength in their souls.  In support of psychotherapy, iron medication helps to overcome inhibitions and fears of patients toward an “Ego Therapy.”


Cinis Urtica Ferro culta per os D3, as injection D6 in patients with compulsatory neuroses.  Combination with Ferrum sidereum D6-D10 as injection.  Meteoric iron, which is taken by the lungs during inspiration has a special relationship to the lungs.

Katoprite D6 as inj. or per os.  This combination of iron and antimonium is particularly indicated in cases of hysteria.  In both diseases additional medication with Pyrite D6 or Pyrite D8 as inj. is recommended.  As accompanying plant remedy Vaucheria D3 trit., D6 inj.

Iron radiates, however, into all organs.  In the kidney iron acts in conditions, in which the “kidney radiation” is too weak, e.g. hypotonia and at low levels of energy (not weakness of will).  Outstanding symptoms are resignation and apathy.  If an excitation occurs at all, it is of secondary nature.  Inj. of Solutio Ferri comp./Glandula suprarenalis.

In neurotic patients who are weak in will power and are fearful of action, patients who know everything but are unable to do anything, iron medication will stimulate the will.  Iron medication is central in the treatment of depression associated with a paralysis of will.

Prep. Ferrum/Acid. chol.D4 and D6 per os or as inj. together with Oxalis D4.  Through this combination with bile acid, which in itself has a relation to the will process, iron can be directed to the bile process.

In Scorodite, iron is combined with arsenic, the latter enhances astral forces and scorodite has a special relationship to the feeling of fear the depressive patient exhibits.  The patient may, however, be so weak in his etheric forces that he cannot tolerate iron and becomes excited.  An asthenic constitution, a tendency to become prematurely tired and exhausted are signs pointing in this direction.  Under these circumstances, iron should be replaced by the plant-iron, magnesium.  (Magnesium plays the same role in the chlorophyll of the plant as iron does in the red blood substance.)  Hepar/Magnesium D4 or D6 as inj. has proven to be a good medication together with Anagallis D3 or OxalisD4.  Magnesium is used more frequently  in the beginning of therapy.  In view of the weakened condition, in which the ether body of patients is frequently at the present time, induction of therapy with magnesium is important.

Iron has a special relationship to the heart through the blood which is collected in the heart.  Here the iron process meets the gold process, the Self in the process of incarnation. Iron opens the path to both since it strengthens the courage and will of the Self to incarnate.

Ferrum sidereum is the remedy of choice.

Indications:  The depressed patient full of fear of life whose will is paralyzed.  The hypersensitive, compulsive patient with fear of the environment.  The hysterical patient, who is so to speak flowing out into the environment.  The patient with a deficiency of “energy” with symptoms of a weak kidney radiation and fear of life.  Patients with fearlful inhibitions towards an “Ego Therapy.”


This is the metal of the liver.  It mediates between consolidation and dissolution within the fluid organism, between assimilation and dissimilation.  The Ego which radiates through the bile processes into the ether body is active in the fluid organism but is not submerged as deeply into organ processes as in silver.  IN the mercury process of respiration, the astral body has a looser relationship to the organ process (as compared to the kidney).  Similarly in the fluid respiration of the liver the Ego develops a freer relationship (as compared to the heart).  From a certain aspect there is a relationship between the Ego activity in the liver and that in the brain as shown in the formation processes of the brain and in the plasticity of thinking.

The soul life receives a stronger influence of the Ego through the liver than it is possible through the emotional soul life of the kidneys.  The emotional tensions and relaxation of the soul life of the kidneys engendered by the astral body become changes of mood in the liver.  The Ego has internalized that which has been experienced and has to struggle with the stagnation and explosion of will forces in depression or mania.  Tin helps to establish an equilibrium between depressive solidification (pathological form of assimilation) and manic dissolution (pathological dissimilation).  Such a polarity can be demonstrated to a certain extent in the metabolism of the patient.  Tin produces the basic therapy for the cyclothymic type as well as for the neurotic, who is prone to have depressive or manic changes in mood.  Tin is a particularly effective therapy when it is given between the phases of depression or mania not within the phase.


The cyclothymic patient, the neurotic patient whose changes in mood have a deeper root cause than those of the mercury patient.


In addition to Stannum praep.Arandasite has to be recommended.  With this tin-silica combination the effects on the “upper nerve sense pole” are increased through the silica portion.  It is useful in patients showing a tendency towards manic changes and in case of depressions (outflowing), potencies D6 in mania, D15 in depressions as injections or per os.

The effect of tin in vegetabilized form are quite similar.

Cichor. Stanno cultum D2, D3.  In patients who are exhausted and exhibit a certain fixation as well as in older patients with depressions, Taraxacum Stanno cultum D2, D3 is used.  Vegetabilized tin is recommended as accompanying therapy in patients who show ill feelings and depressions or manic explosive neurotics.  In depressions, it can be combined with Hepar/Stannum, in older patients with Stannum mellitum.



The last of the “upper” metals in the metals series has the strongest relationship to the head, to consciousness.  The lead process is rooted in the degradation of blood in the spleen through which forces of the Ego are freed for consciousness, for the spirit.

In this case, the Ego does not act in the ether body as in the liver, it connects itself with the astral body, which also receives stimulation by copper.  However, in difference to copper through which the Ego creates an equilibrium with the astral body, the Ego dominates the astral body through lead.  It attempts to transform the forces of the astral body.  For this reason, enthusiasm develops through the activity of the spleen.  This also makes it understandable when Rudolf Steiner relates the spleen to the spirit self, which represents the transformed astral body in the future spiritual evolution of man.

In the spleen, the strongest impulse to transform the earthly is opposed by the strongest impulse for attaining permanency in the earthly.  Through the spleen man can become a heavy mass.  Depressions which involve the spleen more strongly within the hepatolienal system develop faster signs of fixation and monotony.

This is the place for the therapeutic action of lead, which is to be used in such cases in addition to liver medications.  Moreover, lead should be considered for therapy of older patients with arterial or cerebral sclerosis.  In general, lead medication supports best a cognition therapy.  Similar to gold therapy—acting in the realm of the middle—lead therapy has a relationship to the last phases of psychotherapy, the thoughtful planning of the future.


The old arteriosclerotic patient as well as the young patient, who exhibits a stupefied soul life; who both need support of the processes underlying cognition.  In old age, depression in support of cognition therapy.


In addition to Plumbum praep. the silica combination Plumbum silicicum should be considered.  Potencies D15, D20.  To tame the astral body in younger patients exhibiting overshooting processes of assimilation and excitation associated with dull consciousness Plumbum chloratum D3-D10 is recommended.  In older patients Plumbum mellitum  D12-D20 is used.  Caution in the use of Scleron in depressed patients with cerebral sclerosis.  Here D20 is often better than D12 (Scleron).



From the above deliberations can be concluded that therapy—using medicines and psychotherapy in the sense of an Ego therapy—do not only complement and support each other but one therapy is able to amplify the effects of the other therapy.

For the therapy based on medications, psychotherapy may open up wider horizons.  More differentiated relations to personality, biography and life phases are revealed.  The therapeutic action of medicines can be directed more specifically to a particular organ and can take on a more concrete form because psychotherapy is able to contribute to a refinement of the “psychology of organs.”  The simultaneous involvement of other organs associated with the major disturbance of one organ process may be seen more clearly.

Similarly, a widening of the horizons of psychotherapy can be developed through the “sister therapy,” particularly in the direction of the cosmos.  The organ relations reveal views into the spheres of the planets, which in turn influence the seven-year periods of human life.  Psychotherapy can also take on more concrete forms.  Through the use of a certain medicine the contribution of one can become clearer for the psychotherapist and he will be able to direct his psychotherapy more specifically to one specific organ.  Through such organ aspects a counterweight is developed balancing a psychotherapy which has become too personally  involved with the patient resulting in too strong and fixed bonds of the patient to the psychotherapist.

Psychotherapy work down to the body, medicines work up to the conscious soul life.  These two therapeutic processes meet each other.  One could ask the question: in which organ sphere, in which realm of the soul do they meet in one case or another?  In the last analysis, it is the meeting, the dialogue between the word of the human spirit and the words of the worlds in the healing substance, of which the therapist may become aware of in his consciousness.

The Self, carrying out the therapy, moves always between two levels of therapy.  Through destiny therapists are more inclined to the one or other level of therapy but in each case the somatic as well as the psychic realm has to be taken into account.  Even though a therapist may not be able or willing to be active in both realms, he should have both in his consciousness.  If he wants to limit himself, he should, if at all possible, cooperate with a colleague, who has a vocational call for and experience in a different field.  In this connection, a statement by Rudolf Steiner should be mentioned that “specialization” has become a necessity, but it should be compensated by some form of “socialization.”[i]

Exchange and cooperation between therapists, who are predominantly working in the somatic field and those who are predominantly working within psychotherapy, may help that within the framework of anthroposophic medicine—the patient is not only recognized in his totality, but can also receive an evermore effective therapy.


Address of author:  Rudolf Treichler, M.D.  Friedrich Husemann Klinik, 7801 Buchenbach.  Freiburg, Germany.

Authorization for this translation has been given by the editor of “Beitraege fuer Erweiterung der Heilkunst,” Dr. Gisbert Husemann, for the use of teaching material at the summer conference in Wilton, NH, June 21-28, 1980. 

[i] R. Steiner, Spiritual Science and Medicine (The First Medical Course), lecture 18.