Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Panic, and Fear: Threshold Experiences, Crises of the Soul, and Healing on the Anthroposophical Path



By  Rudolf Steiner
Harald Haas

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SELF-HELP / General

Selections from various lectures

Mental and emotional disorders have reached epidemic levels in Western societies. Self-doubt, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, and personal fears of all kinds present major challenges to contemporary medical science. Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research offers a startlingly original and complementary contribution to this problem. True insight into psychological issues requires knowledge of the influences of spiritual beings, he suggests. In everyday life we are all confronted with metaphysical entities that can hinder or aid our development. Many forms of anxiety and self-doubt derive from such meetings on the border—or threshold—of consciousness. Furthermore, these “threshold experiences” are exacerbated today by a general loosening of the subtle bodies and components of the human soul.

As these constitutional changes persist, according to Rudolf Steiner a condition of “dissociation” becomes increasingly common. A healthy emotional life will never be possible unless individuals engage in a conscious practice of personal self-development, strengthening their constitution through the action of one’s “I.”

The expertly selected and collated texts in Self-Doubt offer numerous cognitive and practical ideas for the improvement of everyday mental and emotional health.

C O N T E N T S:

Introduction: Seminal Ideas and Historic Moments, by Stephen E. Usher

1. The origin of error, fear, and nervousness
2. Crossing the threshold in the development of humanity and the individual
3. The polarity of shame and fear
4. The polarity of doubt and terrifying disorientation
5. The polarity of skepticism and claustrophobia, astraphobia, and agoraphobia
6. The origin of panic
7. Worry and anxiety
8. The multilayered nature of terrifying disorientation/confustion
• Memory and memories
• Compulsive thoughts and depression resulting from trauma
• Nightmares and elemental beings
• Association and dissociation
• Loosening of the subtle bodies
• Demons, spectres, phantoms and their effects on the subtle bodies
9. Healing aspects of the anthroposophic path of training
• Development of organs of supersensory perception
• The soul process of light
• Wonder, compassion, conscience
10. The spiritual-scientific qualities of fear


Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.


Harald Haas, MD, is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist in Bern, Switzerland.