Healing Means Touch

Healing Means Touch

13 July 2023 Matthias Girke & Georg Soldner 1159 views

The annual conference of the Medical Section, to be held September 12 to 17, will address the subjective human body. Wolfgang Held interviewed section leaders Matthias Girke and Georg Soldner.

The subjective body is what is closest to us and at the same time what is most distant—isn’t it?

Matthias Girke It is interesting that we actually speak of a “lower, subjective body” (Unterleib) and an “upper, objective body” (Oberkörper). This shows me that we connect quite differently with the upper and lower human being. We have a deep soul-spiritual connection with the lower body—also the will, because we use it for our actions. Our consciousness sits in the upper body—it is not easy to move the bones that make up the head. In this respect, the contradiction within our physical basis that has, on the one hand, the character of the subjective body (Leib) and, on the other hand, the character of the objective body (Körper)—this is part of our physiology. In one instance we are more connected to it and in the other we are more alienated from it. It is precisely this alienation from the subjective body that we want to work on at our annual conference and build a bridge to the idea of the subjective body as the temple of the I. By contrast, today we understand the objective body as something external, something to be optimized.

Georg Soldner We can use the objective body as a stage, even try to change it surgically. It is different with the subjective body: this refers to the dimension in which I live. It is a living process which I cannot simply step out of. As Thomas Fuchs says, we can “have” the objective body, but we live in the subjective body. In recent centuries we have increasingly elaborated the objective corporeality of our existence, which is where we develop consciousness and self-consciousness. We have also developed admirable medical skills to repair or surgically treat the objective body after serious injuries, for example. At the same time, however, autoimmune diseases are on the increase, diseases in which what we call our immune system—that which we ourselves are—attacks this subjective body. That is why such diseases will be of particular interest to us at the annual conference.

I was touched by a comment made by the Christian Community priest Anand Mandaiker: he says that “homelessness” today ranges from the cosmic to gender, to subjective corporeality.

Girke Thomas Fuchs calls it “making oneself at home”. I find it very interesting that the former president of the Drug Commission of the German Medical Profession has written an article about the need for a medicine of touch. He also refers to Thomas Fuchs in how he defines illness: a subjective body is turned into an objective body—it becomes an object. This can be seen clearly in stroke patients: when they lift their arm from one position to another, this is objective embodiment out of the subjective body. Conversely, being healthy, in keeping with Thomas Fuchs, means, “subjective embodiment of the objective corporeality”—the objective body again becomes the subjective body and instrument of the human being.

This excerpt comes from an article originally published in the (online exclusive) English Edition of the weekly Newsletter ‹Das Goetheanum›. You can read the full article on the website of ‹Das Goetheanum›.

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Cover Image Gilda Bartel

Tagung Body and I. The Immune System and Autoimmune Disease