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3rd Unit : First Study Group Session

3rd Unit : First Study Group Session

Naturopathy and Modern Medical Science in Germany: The Theory of Self-Healing and the Artificial Healing Theory.

3rd Unit : First Study Group Session

he first study group session of the third unit was held on Friday, July 22, 2011. Takashi Nagashima reported his study, entitled “Naturopathy and Modern Medical Science in Germany: The Theory of Self-Healing and the Artificial Healing Theory.” Working on the natural and social philosophy in the tradition of German idealism, his research has focused on natural and folk therapies, with an awareness of the problem that studies on natural philosophy require not only a history of theories but also an understanding of social and cultural history. This presentation traced the history of naturopathy in Germany, highlighted its principle, and examined the relationship between natural therapists and the German Medical Association as the leaders of modern medical science. The summary is as follows.

Natural and folk therapies, which are currently spread around the world, have a long history, and their predecessors include Hippocrates and Paracelsus. In Germany, this sort of therapy is characterized by the fact that it is directly derived from the modern medical science of the nineteenth century. For example, the so-called founder of modern medical science, Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland (17621836), opened up the study of macrobiotics, whereas Samuel Hahnemann (17551843) originated homeopathy, a sort of vaccine therapy.

The theoretical basis of “self-healing” was the concept of a “vital force.” This concept was proposed during the controversy between vitalism and mechanism in the eighteenth century. In addition, vital force was assumed to be a “principle,” different from that of movement of matters. However, Hufeland suggested an organic combination of components, arguing that vital force internally combined with state change to form unique matter. This concept of vital force seems to have been under the continuing influence of vitalism in the eighteenth century. The vital force proposed by Christian Reil (17591813), on the other hand, was different. He pointed out that an understanding of vital force depended on the development of chemistry. He suggested that, contrary to eighteenth-century vitalism, no more could be mentioned about vital force at that point, and he believed that it would be explained based on a scientific understanding of life activities. It should be noted that both arguments were based on the natural scientific findings of the time, and that the concept of vital force was put forward from the perspective of combination and movement of matters.

3rd Unit : First Study Group Session

Naturopathy was largely featured around 1900. Naturopathy, still influential today, emerged in the context of the natural healing movement (Naturheilbewegung) including the nudist movement and balneotherapy, which were diffused in the late nineteenth century, as well as the life reform movement that derived from it. In this process, naturopathy was so diversified as to even generate something like magic, so a sense of crisis emerged due to its efficacy, and some therapists began providing professional education on their own. Facing the prosperity of naturopathy, modern medical science was also alarmed by the possible collapse of the foundation of modern medical science. Furthermore, while modern medical science had been carried out as so-called experimental medicine, the breakdown of experimental medical science—the problem of victims in experiments since the late nineteenth century typically exemplified by the Lübeck disaster in 1930—resulted in the surging recognition that medical science was at a crisis. The controversy between the theory of self-healing and the artificial healing theory underlay the confrontation between modern medical science and naturopathy. Moreover, the idea that anyone can treat their own disease by themselves with naturopathy posed a question of economic self-reliance for physicians.

Naturopathy in Germany was based on the theory of self-healing. It can be categorized into weak and strong versions: the moderate natural healing ability and the ultra-natural power, respectively. Although the latter includes magic and charms, the former can include modern medical science. Given this situation, it may be pointed out in the current developments that the German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) and natural therapist groups are generally in a cooperative and collaborative relationship with each other. In fact, acupuncture and chiropractic therapies are approved of in Germany, where the medical associations on the side of German modern medical science also cooperate with natural therapists. Regarding natural therapists, Heilpraktikergesetz in 1939 survived the World War II, and natural therapists are required to receive professional education there. This provides the license system under which therapists work as certified therapists or Heilpraktiker, with independent rules for preserving their quality.