My visitors today

Sunday 6 March 2011

A whole day with AP in my thoughts

"Lower Bavarian clinic with clear blue skies"
March 5th 2011

On 1st December 2010 I wrote a posting about some articles that I have, written by András Petö:

Below is a snippet of what I wrote there:

Sanatoriums and clinics, remedies and cures

András Petö was working in Austria where clinics and sanatoriums were not only the places where 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.

Today I visited a clinic in Lower Bavaria that was built between 1898 and 1908, when it was opened as a tuberculosis sanatorium. It was built away from civilisation, as this was considered best to discourage the spread of TB.

It was set into the side of a hill, as the fresh, cold, air of the Alps was also thought to be beneficial for the healing and the well being of the clients.

Today the building remains, from the outside anyway, almost unchanged, despite additions and renovation over the years. It has changed hands several times but has always remained in use as a rehabilitation clinic.

Many of my stroke clients spent several months here after being discharged from the hospital where they spent the first few weeks after their stroke. Most of the clients I know who stayed in the clinic were there until they could take a few steps unaided, and a few of them have since returned for further weeks' rehabilitation.

I was not there just to visit my stroke clients

Two of the clients from my after-work adults' group had decided to take the four-week Kur (rehabilitation) that their payments to the health insurance company entitles them to once every two to four years. The insurance company, once it has accepted the request for rehabilitation, suggests which clinics can offer the most suitable therapies and activities for the clients. My clients asked whether they could go together, and this clinic in Lower Bavaria was suggested as being beneficial to them both.

Many people never take up this entitlement, and for one of the two I met today it was their first time at such a clinic. They are both enjoying the time there. They do not have to go to work but their days are very full. Some days there have been six different appointments from swimming, physiotherapy, massage, cognitive training, speech therapy etc., with breakfast lunch and supper also to be fitted in.

With this busy timetable they are learning to organise themselves and to be responsible for their own lives, there being no one around to take the responsiblity for them. They have no one to keep appointments for them but themselves.

I had decided to visit them on Saturday for two reasons. One of the clients was celebrating her birthday. Her parents are on holiday and therefore could not visit. I thought that it would be nice to surprise her and join her for coffee and cake, which is exactly what happened.

Secondly, the clinic has connections with Hungary and the my client’s doctor in charge knows about “Petö”, so I was interested to find out more about this. There are of course no doctors available to speak to at the weekends but I could still get a feel of the place and pick up some brochures. I discovered no mention of Petö and only a bit about the training of doctors, in Hungary and in Hamburg.

The clinic belongs to the Asklepios group which are based in Hamburg where it lecture rooms for the medical school that works together with the Semmelweiss University in Budapest and training courses for many other professions.

This clinic in Bavaria is described on its Website:

The Asklepios Clinic lies on the edge of the Bavarian Woods. The building sits on the side of a stone out-crop called Haussteins. There is a view over the Danube Plain and on clear days the Alps are visible in the distance. Surrounded by natural forests and is often described as the Bavarian Davos (ski/rehabilitation resort in Switzerland). The climate in the area is particularly beneficial to recovery, convalescence and general health.

I have read repeatedly in the several articles that I have in my procession and also in Unfug about András Petö’s experiences in clinics such as the one I visited this weekend.

In AP's time, and now

While I was soaking up the atmosphere I had time to imagine how it must be to work in such a clinic, or to be there for a month convalescing. I thought a lot about AP and about the different rehabilitation methods that he would have come across in his life while working in such clinics, and also about the many different illnesses and conditions that he would have encountered in each of the different clinics that he worked in.

I get the impression that not much has changed over the last hundred years. There is still a wide range of habilitating and rehabilitating therapies and activities offered, some more and some less controversial than others.

In the brochures that I picked up I read that today’s clients can benefit from:

Massage, traction, movement therapy, movement and medicinal baths, physiotherapy, inhalation therapy. Psychotherapy, warm/cold therapy, body-dance therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, training for incontinence, dietary advice, electro-therapy, psychological counselling, pain therapy, advice for health and well-being, for reducing the risk of further occurrences of illness.

Swallowing therapy, sport therapy, special therapy in the centre for mobilisation, (walking), therapy to improve balance and reduce dizziness, riding therapy, chiro-practise, nerve therapy and acupuncture.

Natural healing processes, relaxation methods, social advice, creative activities and art therapy.

That list reads a bit like the contents pages in AP's Unfug!

When I saw this list of therapies available now I thought about how AP would have experienced so many different approaches wheile he worked in Austria in different sanatoria, and of how many years later he went on to include many of these approaches and methods in the Unfug.


The approach to rehabilitation in Austria in AP's days and nowadays in Germany too, has changed very little. Now as then in AP's days, the aim of the staff at the clinics and sanitoria is to treat the clients not only for the illness and symptoms that they have but at the same time to help them to learn how to live healthily. It is the aim to prepare them in methods of prevention at the same time as healing. Clinics aim to provide clients withn as many opportunities while they are in rehabilitation to bring their whole state of being in balance in order to achieve a state of "wellness". Clients work towards regaining their strength, and not just their physical strength, but social and psychological strength too, so that they can return to taking take an active part in their chosen lives.

I wandered through the clinic and I wondered

AP learnt and observed much in his early working life. He lived and worked in medical/ rehabilitation culture (in Austria), that put huge importance not only on curing illness but also preventing it. They were aware of the importance of well-being and of treating a client, not only specifically for tuberculosis and other illnesses but for training the body and soul to live healthily in the future.

As I wondered as I wandered I thought that it is hardly surprising that András Petö, when working alone in Hungary, developed a conductive approach to his work, an upbringing that is preventative and rehabilitative.

Back to the present day

It was a joy for me to visit my clients and experience their own enthusiasm for the restorative atmosphere that they are living in. with the minimum of help, with the greatest amount of independence, and with a programme that that is restoring their energy, stroking their souls and perhaps also improving their mobility. Most of all, it is doing their social and psychological development a power of good.


Susie Mallett - A.P. again, just before Hong Kong -

Early references in my blog to the Unfug, (there are many others) -

Karl Otto Bärnklau (1965) Unfug der Krankheit—Triumph des Heilkunst, Hannau/Main, Verlag Karl Schustek

Rehabilitation clinic

Its logo includes the words “Prevention and wellness, together towards health”.

The Asklepios Group and Semmelweiss University offer medical students from Hungary and Germany the chance to study in Budapest and in Hamburg.

Davos -

No comments: