I have a collection of papers in my hand for what must be the umpteenth time in the weeks since I received them.
I have been reading and re-reading and trying to deduce of what importance they are to me and what I can write about them.
They are articles written by András Petö during the time that he lived and worked in Vienna that were published in the “Biologische Heilkunst” and the “Wiener Medizinische Wochenschaft”, in 1921, 1925 and 1930.
How do I know they are written by A.P.?
I do not know for certain, how can I? I can believe it or not, as his name is written on them. I have another paper that has a long list of names that could possibly or possibly not be pseudonyms used by A.P. in the same newspapers. It is any bodies guess too whether any more articles that I am lucky to get my hands on in the future, with any of those others names on them, are genuine A.P. works or not.
The papers were collected by a fellow student when we were studying together in Budapest. We went on a trip to Vienna together to see the Keil Institute and my colleague also did some research for a paper that he was writing, in the city library. On this and subsequent visits he dug out some A.P. works.
I have a colleague from Vienna and I think that we will be making another trip there together sooner or later to see what more we can unearth.
For me the papers are interesting because they were written by AP and also because of the content. The content is very much the same as what can be read in the two books that A.P. wrote. He described numerous different methods of healing through natural methods and he wrote about the holistic approaches used by various doctors in the clinics of the day. The methods used at many clinics then, and still today, combining psychological and biological treatments.
Sanatoriums and clinics, remedies and cures
András Petö was working in Austria where clinics and sanatoriums were not only the places were sick or recovering people spent time but also where well people spent time to prevent illness, or new symptoms, developing. This is very much how it still is here in Germany.
A close friend of mine is in such a clinic in the lower hills of the Alps at his very moment. She is not ill she is on a course of preventative treatments. Including psychotherapy, walking, art therapy and clown therapy. She has physiotherapy, meals are nutritionally worked out for her own personal needs, and the regime is strict. If she does not appear for breakfast dinner or tea someone is out looking for her and the doors of the clinic are locked at ten pm!
All this goes on for six whole weeks and is paid for by the health insurance company. A.P. mentions in one of the articles in my hands that there was the need for health insurance to pay for such healing and preventative measures.
Many of the treatments still in use in clinics here today have much in common with what AP describes in his books and in these articles. Kneipp treatments, Schüßler Salz and the use movement baths, to name a few.
What in the English language would probably be described as alternative medicine, even by some as quack medicine or snake oil remedies, are often the first treatments used in rehabilitation clinics, sanatoriums and also by the local GP.
Homeopathic medicine is the first line of attack used by most of the German doctors who I have seen for illnesses such as tonsillitis and other throaty, coldy, winter illnesses. Many people these days choose to go only to a GP who uses homeopathic and natural remedies. It is not at all uncommon for parents to decide that their young children are only treated for colds and coughs with natural remedies from their GPs. It is not quack remedies in Germany and Austria it is still “how things are done”.
It is these natural remedies and the combination of biological and psychological treatments that András Petö describes in the newspaper articles that I have acquired and in his books.
I think his involvement in these natural ways of looking at the body and soul and the imbalances that cause illness must have had a great influence on how he decided to develop his methods of treatment for clients with physical disabilities too.
It could be possible to say having read some of his work, books, articles about natural treatments to bring a balance to body and soul, and his plays that reflect dramatically life at its most damaging to the psyche, that András Petö was very much influenced by the Germanic culture he had been studying in and lived in.
He not only came into contact with the treatments used in the sanatoriums where he worked, he also worked with psycho-drama groups and developed interests in other cultures whose methods of healing were natural and holistic. Organs of the body and the soul having equal importance.
The papers I have are full of such statements, as are his books too and all written in a high fluting old fashioned German. The same German that is used in the wonderful Naturheilkunst text book from 1920 that I recently discovered in the antique bookshop at the end of my road and long to own!
In one of his magazine article AP describes the developments in Vienna of methods used by Missriegler, a student of Stekel. AP says that it was through the work of these two that the concept that there is a connection between the health of body and of the soul was first made known and established.
Stekel developed the use of homeopathic, natural healing methods and therapies for the whole constitutions as part of psychotherapy. Missregler went on to further developments in a treatment called psycho-biology in which the disturbance of bodily energies and the symptoms this causes are attacked with healing methods aimed at the whole body and soul of a person.
In this article AP tells us that these two doctors claimed that disturbances in the balance of the soul, and in the amount of energy, in the will and intellect of a person, will produce symptoms of fear, worry, fear of change, changes in sexual energy, sleep disturbances and speech difficulties (stammer) impulsiveness and addictiveness and psychological disturbances. And Missregler’s work laid the ground stones for a meeting between those seeing illness as purely psychological and those seeing it as purely biological. He brought the two into a whole.
Is there anything here yet that could link Petös writing to conductive practice?I have been reading and jotting down notes on this handful of papers since I received them many weeks ago, when I put them in my bag for times when I sat in the café beside the duck pond with a cup of coffee and two minutes to spare.
I have had three or four attempts at writing something about them for the blog. Then it got hidden because of being busy with the book or busy with the school children and also not knowing what more I can say.
In between my attempts at reading the articles and writing these notes there came the discussion on Andrew Sutton’s blog and then on Sözgeszki Laci’s blog about the Hungarianess of Conductive Education.
Perhaps the concept of Conductive Education is a concept that the countries created that were removing what they thought they saw, from Hungary, and in doing so created, something quite different to konduktiv nevelés for themselves.
Many people from other lands were putting conduction into a school setting and removing it from an upbringing setting where it had its roots. Whether it was taking place with parents or in an institutional setting at the PAI, I believe that it was upbringing that was taking place. But whether that upbringing was Hungarian or Austrian or German or Russian it is anyones guess, A.P. did not tell us.
Once in schools it was often where it reamined.In other case it was done differently. The others, like I, do it a bit differently, developing a method of bringing children up conductively; using konduktiv nevelés and pedagogy while doing so.
There seems to be a movement at the moment setting out to put conductive education back in the upbringing court, where as far as I am concerned in my work is where it has always remained ,and I believe is where it belongs.
Back to A.P.
“Is Conductive Education Hungarian?” the recent discussion between readers in the bloggersphere asked. “How Hungarian was András Petö?”
From reading the articles that have recently come into my procession, and having read my A.P. books countless times, I can quite confidently say that A.P., however Hungarian he thought he was, was greatly influenced by the methods and treatments being developed in the clinics and by doctors and therapists in Austria and Germany. As I have already mentioned above. A.P. was working in these clinics in Austria that used many of these methods that are still used today.
How does this all influence me and my work? And perhaps also my understanding of A.P. and condcutive upbringing?
I am not quite sure, but sometimes as I read what A.P., allegedly, wrote I get a little bit of insight, a tiny bit more understanding and just a little bit more knowledge that could perhaps, at sometime or other, help me in my work; in conductive upbringing. Especially as that work is taking place in Germany.
Living in Germany and having experienced many of the alternative treatments on offer in rehabilitation clinics, with my friend who has multiple sclerosis, I have been able to observe firsthand many of the things that A.P. describes. I have observed many doctors and therapists working with the alternative treatments that have been developed over the years.
Many of these treatments based on an understanding of the imbalance and balance of body and soul, and on the need for the treatment of symptoms to be holistic and natural.
13th October 2010
A fascinating post, Susie. How I wish I had your linguistic skills and could read for myself the source material.
The papers Susie talks about here are all in the National Library of Conductive Education. I would think they are now reference only but may be worth a trip to Birmingham, Norman, to have a read.
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