Large-headed and small-headed children

Michaela Glӧckler MD is an anthroposophical doctor and head of the Medical Section at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland (Steiner international headquarters). She has been sharing pseudoscience sorry, revelation, all over the world with her activities for the Anthroposophical Medical Movement;

  • Establishing an International Network of Anthroposophic Medicine world-wide.
  • Founder of Numerous Training Facilities.
  • Prolific Publication Activities.

We have speculated here before about how apparently intelligent people with medical degrees can become entangled in anthroposophy and spout complete nonsense about, among other things, medicine.

Michaela wrote an article called Constitutional types in school age children, in which she expounds on how and why Steiner’s ideas should be implemented in Steiner schools.

She begins with “The large-headed and the small-headed child.”

She says children need to be categorised according to their temperament, and refers to a Rudolf Steiner lecture from 1923 entitled “Menschenerkenntnis und Unterrichtsgestaltung”2 (Knowledge of Man and the Form of the Lesson).

“…he describes children in terms of six constitutional types: large-headed and small-headed, earthy and cosmic, fantasy-rich and fantasy-poor.”

She says that with these six, together with the four temperaments Steiner picked out from medieval ideas on medicine (choleric, melancholic, sanguine and phlegmatic) the “constitutional characteristics connect” and the child can “reveal his inner being”.

Does that sound ok to potential Steiner parents? Well maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t matter either way, because they won’t be told about this until later, when they’ve already signed up, if at all. There is nothing about it on the school websites or in the leaflets proponents give out.

Here we focus on details about the head size, and will save the sections on earthly/cosmic and fantasy poverty for another time.

Steiner made the “fundamental statement “on this subject;

“Steiner bases his description of large-headed and small-headed children on the three-fold nature of the human being… viewing the nature of the human being as threefold must become second nature to the teacher and the physician…in order to understand what they need in the classroom.”

She goes on to quote Steiner on characteristics of large-headed children; they have a tendency to dream because their

“astral body and ego do not really want to take hold of the nerve/sense system…. find it somewhat difficult to concentrate and to differentiate precisely, and tend to listen and grasp things in a superficial way… In terms of his temperament, he is predominantly sanguine/phlegmatic.”

And the treatment for these problems?   cold water.

“Steiner recommended creating sensations of cold, especially in the area of the head, to help these “large-headed” children. For some children, wiping the head with cool water in the morning is sufficient; others need to be wiped down to the waist.

If…strong stimuli are given which encourage a differentiation in perception and shake the child out of his hazy dreaming, then the astral body and the ego are stimulated to a stronger connection with nerve/sense activity. The child would really prefer to just dream and let things pass before him rather than go into something that hurts, bites, is cold, that engenders consciousness and self-awareness… we are helping him into the world of the senses – the world of differentiation, of coldness, of hardness, of clarity. This is one aspect of the therapy.”

Not only must large-headed children suffer cold, but they must also be given salt. The teacher is advised to find out about the family’s eating habits and ensure sufficient salt in the diet, or medication may be prescribed in the form of lead compounds…

The small-headed children also need attention, according to the head of the Medical Section;

Because they often “eat greedily”, they will have irregular bowel movements, and need help;

“Sometimes they may have no bowel movement for two days… A marvelous way is through warmth in the form of a warm tummy wrap after the noon-day meal or in the evening before bedtime.”

They also need sugar to stimulate their metabolism;

“the important thing is the invigorating effect which sugar originating in the blossom and fruit warmth of plants has on the metabolism”.

Finally there is a homeopathic remedy for both large and small-headedness;

“These aids can be complemented medicinally by giving homeopathic doses of silver (argentum). Silver is a substance that completely conforms to this will to synthesize of the metabolism, giving the child’s astral body and ego the opportunity to find a connection to the digestive processes.”

Michaela advises (anthroposophical) school doctors to be careful about giving advice and recounts an instance where as a school doctor  the “revelations and suggestions” she shared were not well received.

All this about constitution is of course utter nonsense. Steiner teachers are being urged to take the words of a charlatan from 100 years ago as gospel, and apply them in the classroom, and this advice comes from the top.

I really do find this kind of thing not just ridiculous, but offensive. It is not only patent rubbish, but also discriminatory and potentially harmful. She should know better as a Medical Doctor, than to quote Steiner on medical matters, and in the case of school children this seems particularly repulsive.

Do parents know this is what they are letting their families in for when they sign up for Steiner education? Of course not, the information is not shared, but concealed. Only later when teachers perceive a problem with a child’s “astral body” will the anthroposophy they have been trained to use show its face.





  1. we escaped!

    Non steiner parents are definitely not aware of such things.

    We only know it’s true and actually happens because we have the documentation from the school (otherwise we’re sure they would deny it, as they have done with everything else that is not documented and recorded) We’d still really like someone to tell us what it all means, as non anthro folks such ourselves, we simply cannot comprehend it?

    We are obviously more aware now, but at the time, we weren’t sure why it was relevant to point out that our child was –
    *Small headed
    *Bright eyed
    *Preference to right side
    *Unaware of himself
    *Likes drawing in black
    *Interested in poisonous animals

    Then we met the eurythmy teacher who told us that –
    *He did not know himself
    *He had no skin
    *He must eat root vegetables, but no potatoes
    *He is a tormented soul
    *He must have daily eurythmy sessions to ground him
    *He must have weights strapped around his ankles (we still dont have an answer as to why this was done or why they thought it was ok to do it without our knowledge or consent )
    *He must wear a wool hat at all times
    *He must have a concoction of gold and Lavendar rubbed on his chest in a particular motion each night, as his astral being kept him awake (he sleeps 8pm to 7am) we were not aware he was awake all night, and we live with him!
    *He must have art therapy and rhythmical massage, but it could only be done by the people they suggested to us.

    We most definitely had a lucky escape, but we remain tormented as to why this all happened. As parents we feel very let down and unsupported as we have no where to go and nobody with any power wants to listen or do anything about it. Steiner schools are aware of this fact, that is why they are so arrogant and unsympathetic-they are getting away with it!

    All i can say and will continue to say is RUN! Do not consider this type of education/brainwashing for your children (or worst enemies)

  2. David Clark

    Yes. This is clearly a tragic narrative of events and I am very disturbed that your family is still tormented by the experience. By citing an article for specialists, Helen has drawn our attention to the less visible therapeutic intentions of Waldorf schools. With a background study of anthroposophical matters, I felt able to make a clear choice, either to take such advice on trust or to challenge its relevance for our needs. Of course, I recognise that this background knowledge placed me in a fortunate position of understanding the advice at that time.

    These comments are not intended as a criticism of your family’s robust and wholly understandable decision. Likewise, I am not seeking in any way to offer a defence of the school.

    I have commented elsewhere on the fundamental importance of adult education and parent engagement.

    • Helen

      David – instead of coming here with pompous remarks about “adult education and parent engagement” you could more usefully employ yourself campaigning from within the world of anthroposophy for openness from the Steiner movement about what they do with children in their schools.
      All this distress could be avoided if only parents were informed instead of misled and lied to by anthroposophist teachers and the others on “initiative groups” who go along with the pretence that Steiner schools are not using anthroposophy.
      If you are really “disturbed” then stand up and be heard like Gregoire Perra and tell parents before they sign up exactly what they are letting their families in for.
      Tell the authorities too.
      Any other stance and inaction on your part is false and deceitful.

    • alan

      I realise you are straining to give an impression to us outsiders, David, as if you were a judge in your own cause, or someone who condescends to consider neutrally the point of view of the less enlightened. But a person who understands something has no need to take it or reject it on trust. You don’t have to be very wise to know that. In any cult, members are conditioned to accept without question what those initiated at higher levels say.

      You shouldn’t campaign within the cult; you should leave it and apologise to the parents and children who have been involved with Steiner schools. If that’s hard, try to talk to other people who’ve been in cults and how they’ve managed to get themselves deprogrammed. You should also expose its doings, especially aspects which aren’t widely known, preferably giving lots of examples. If you’ve got real guts, stay inside, photocopy documents, take photographs, bug rooms, etc., collect a mountain of material and then go public with the lot of it.

      I hope this advice is of some help!

      Here are words of wisdom I sometimes tell my minions to teach to my subminions when they’re ready (this is a joke!): value truth and don’t do harm.

  3. David Clark

    Hello Helen,

    I appreciate and respect your comments.

    Haning accepted the burden of your last sentence some time ago, I am tackling these essential questions of open-ness, rights and the needs of vulnerable families, both locally and in the Anthroposophical and Waldorf contexts.

  4. we escaped!

    Yes, we feel silly and stupid for not knowing, especially as we were kept in the dark as to the reasons behind their methods. We weren’t given the opportunity to understand. We were told repeatedly that anthroposophy played no part in school life and was not relevant.
    We believed what they said. We fell for the sales pitch and paid a lot of money for our child to be physically and mentally abused.

  5. we escaped!

    David- we would also like to add, that it is highly insulting to insinuate that because we don’t agree with steiner methods and anthroposophy, means that in some way we a less intelligent than you? Do you feel that you are better than us? Do you know something that we don’t know? What makes you better than us? What you say is typical of steiner followers and it is disgusting for you to presume that you and your methods are correct. How dare you and your cult like beliefs try to justify the abuse that is condoned in steiner schools, just because you are enlightened and we are ignorant? We have experienced lies and abuse. Are you saying that, because we dont understand, means that its ok? If we believed, would it make everything alright. If you believe in such nonsense, that is your choice. We were not given the choice to make an informed decision. The moment we realised what was going on, we left.

  6. Helen

    Actually Alan – I was hoping we had heard the last of David, but you make a good point ; “stay inside, photocopy documents, take photographs, bug rooms, etc., collect a mountain of material and then go public with the lot of it.” That is the most useful advice to a Steiner person I have ever seen.

  7. Helen

    Reblogged this on Stop Steiner in Stroud and commented:

    As there is discussion going on in Stroud about why it is wrong to support biodynamics if you do not support anthroposophy (Steiner) in general, this is a good time to reblog this article.
    The comments below highlight the dangers of becoming involved with the Steiner system if you do not understand why Steiner people do what they do. Biodynamics in Stroud is promoted and run by people from anthroposophic families who involve themselves with all aspects of Steiner including education, and the harm being done to unsuspecting families can be catastrophic.

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