Healing as a Skill and as a Form of Art


Healing as a Skill and as a Form of Art


Robert Gorter, MD, PhD.

December 24th 2020


Rembrandt van Rijn: “Heilkunde” and “Heilkunst” united

The Dutch painter and personal student of Christian Rosenkreutz Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) changed his style of painting dramatically after he met with Christian Rosenkreutz in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (the only Republic in Europe for centuries while all other countries were rules by nobility and no democracy) with no Head of State) at age 25 or 26.

From painting traditionally still lives and landscapes, he now paints as we know him: a confrontation of Light and Darkness with Man in the middle; exposed to both light and darkness. And when one stands in front of one of his paintings and one asks oneself: “where does the light come from?” one cannot really tell. In this painting, Rembrandt wanted to express that real healing comes about when a skilled doctor has developed intuition, and receives blessings from another world; here portrait by an angel (Archangel Raphael?).

The concept of healing of Rembrandt van Rijn goes far beyond “Evidence Based” medicine, as is it is fashionable nowadays.

In all Northern European languages there are two words used for what a medical doctor practices: “Geneeskunde” and “Geneeskunst.” (German: “Heilkunde” and “Heilkunst”). One wants his doctor to be skilled: that a surgeon knows exactly how to cut or an internist how to apply an infusion (Heilkunde). But one wants his doctor also to have mastered the art of healing (Heilkunst). To master medicine as an art comes by the years and wisdom is included in Heilkunst.

In antiquities, several of the priests at the temple were doctors as well. Through artefacts discovered at archeological sites we have proof that at least 3000 years ago priests-doctors were able to do brain surgery successfully. We tend to believe that before 1950’s men was primitive and one’s live was led by superstition.

As a doctor, to master the Art of Healing, he/she must go a path of inner development. And which doctor nowadays dares to go beyond “evidence based” medicine. In statistically manipulated “evidence based” medicine there is no place for the art of healing as this can only be based on an individual approach to the needs of the patient.

Which severely ill patient want to be treated by a doctor who trust manipulated statistics only versus a doctor who knows all “evidence based” medicine but incorporates additionally his clinical experience and compassion towards the needs of his patient?

Probably, each practicing doctor should have been critically ill once him/herself before he/she is let loose on patients and understand the desperation and the search for hope of that patient.

rembrandt vab rjin

Rembrandt van Rijn (1609-1669)

Doctors who practice Anthroposophic Medicine try to combine “Heilkunst” with “Heilkunde” by choosing to go a path of inner development as indicated by Rudolf Steiner. Art is an important component of that.

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