Anthroposofie Temperamenten



[Anne Creadick-Kennedy]

What does it mean to hear someone say "She has cancer!" How does it feel when you hear "You are HIV-positive!" In each case, the dominant emotion can be, and

often is, fear. Unfortunately, fear is one of the most significant barriers to healing. Some people I have worked with choose to tell no one of their diagnosis, not because

they are in denial, but because of the debilitating nature of the fearful and negative thoughts of others. Bernie Siegel, MD, who introduced healing imagery twenty years

ago, reports of patients who don't use terms of war and aggression when imaging the healing of their bodies. War and aggression are fear-based, reactive behaviors,

rather than proactive. It is interesting to explore reactions based on the four temperaments, which transcend gender.

Paracelsus.x: proposed the four temperaments, based on the medieval concept of the four humors (contained in heart, lungs, liver, spleen).


The choleric temperament, related to the color red and the planet Mars, is definitive, and tends to take an aggressive course in the fight against illness. The predominantly choleric person profits greatly from veil painting after being given an opportunity to ventilate rage and grief with perhaps more kinetic activities.


The melancholic temperament tends to react with a statement such as, "I knew it." A patient of mine confided, "I've wanted to die my whole life." Here the task is to enkindle hope. There is an exquisite painting exercise from Dr. Margarethe Hauschka which does just that.


The sanguine temperament needs help not to exhaust themselves flying all over the world seeking the next "miracle cure." I've never discouraged a patient from exploring anything they believe might be helpful; in fact, I encourage them to try anything resonant with their nature and their (not my) intuition. BUT, a significant nursing (or physician) task is to help the patient conserve their forces and keep up their strength. Many anthroposophical therapies call on the etheric body, the life forces, to be

strong enough to enable healing to occur. Frantically exhausting oneself isn't supportive of these life forces.


The phlegmatic temperament takes a reasoning approach, carefully exploring possibilities. The problem here is motivation to activity, and not contemplation alone.

This "liver" type benefits greatly from the oft-prescribed Fragaria Vitis Comp, but also may be encouraged to walk daily and faithfully undertake the curative eurythmy exercises prescribed. The usual art therapy for this patient is clay; however beeswax modelling may be substituted for a cancer patient.


The human being who has a life-threatening illness has an enormous challenge ahead. For this reason it is important to develop a "team" around the patient optimally consisting of oncologist/specialist, anthroposophically-extended medical doctor, rhythmical massage practitioner,* art therapist, counselor (or spiritual counselor), curative eurythmist, an R.N. knowledgeable in anthroposophic hydrotherapy, a peer support group, and the patient, its Team Leader.

Ideally, the group surrounding the patient consists of colleagues who trust one another and communicate on a regular basis.

Besides treating the physical body, in anthroposophically-extended medicine we have had success in healing from the direction of the life- or etheric body; and the direction of the ego, the higher, or eternal Self. A brief look at some therapies prescribed may be seen in light of the fourfold nature of the human being.

Physical therapies can include compresses, oral- and injectable medications. Etheric or life-body therapies would include walking, painting, rhythmic massage. Music and counselling address issues of the Soul or Astral Body. A direct approach is made to the Ego or Higher Self via fever-baths and mistletoe preparations, therapeutic eurythmy and meditations.



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