MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

No, this post is not about the pop duo ‘EURYTHMICS’, it is about ‘EURYTHMY’ which pre-dates the pop duo by a few decades.

Eurythmy is a movement therapy of anthroposophic medicine which, according to its proponents, has positive effects on a person’s physical body, spirit, and soul. It is involves expressive movements developed by Rudolf Steiner in conjunction with Marie von Sivers in the early 20th century. It is used as a performance art, in education, especially in Steiner schools, and – as part of anthroposophic medicine – for therapeutic purposes. Here is what one pro-eurymthy website tells us about it:

Eurythmy is one of Rudolf Steiner’s proudest achievements. To better understand what Steiner says about eurythmy, you should read his self-titled “A Lecture on Eurythmy” Not always one to boast, Steiner says:

EURYTHMY has grown up out of the soil of the Anthroposophical Movement, and the history of its origin makes it almost appear to be a gift of the forces of destiny.

Steiner, Rudolf. A Lecture on Eurythmy, 1923

Clearly, Steiner felt that eurythmy was something very special, and of great importance. As such, eurythmy is a tool of Anthroposophy used to reveal and bring about a certain “spiritual impulse” in our age:


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For it is the task of the Anthroposophical Movement to reveal to our present age that spiritual impulse which is suited to it.I speak in all humility when I say that within the Anthroposophical Movement there is a firm conviction that a spiritual impulse of this kind must now, at the present time, enter once more into human evolution. And this spiritual impulse must perforce, among its other means of expression, embody itself in a new form of art. It will increasingly be realised that this particular form of art has been given to the world in Eurythmy.

Steiner, Rudolf. A Lecture on Eurythmy

 

The question is, of course,  whether as a therapy eurythmy works. A recent publication might give an answer.

The aim of this systematic review was to update and summarize the relevant literature on the effectiveness of eurythmy in a therapeutic context since 2008. It is thus an up-date of a previously published review. This paper  found 8 citations which met the inclusion criterion: 4 publications referring to a prospective cohort study without control group (the AMOS study), and 4 articles referring to 2 explorative pre-post studies without control group, 1 prospective, non-randomized comparative study, and 1 descriptive study with a control group. The methodological quality of studies ranged in from poor to good, and in sample size from 5 to 898 patients. In most studies, EYT was used as an add-on, not as a mono-therapy. The studies described positive treatment effects with clinically relevant effect sizes in most cases.

For the up-date, different databases like PubMed, MEDPILOT, Research Gate, The Cochrane Library, DIMDI, Arthe and also the journal databases Der Merkurstab and the European Journal of Integrative Medicine were searched for prospective and retrospective clinical trials in German or English language. There were no limitations for indication, considered outcome or age of participants. Studies were evaluated with regard to their description of the assembly process and treatment, adequate reporting of follow-ups, and equality of comparison groups in controlled trials.

Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. These included two single-arm, non-controlled pilot studies, two publications on the same non-randomized controlled trial and one case study; six further studies referred to a prospective cohort study, the Anthroposophic Medicine Outcome Study. Most of these studies described positives treatment effects with varying effect sizes. The studies were heterogynous according to the indications, age groups, study design and measured outcome. The methodological quality of the studies varied considerably.

The authors who all come from the Institute of Integrative Medicine, anthroposophical University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany draw the following conclusions: Eurythmy seems to be a beneficial add-on in a therapeutic context that can improve the health conditions of affected persons. More methodologically sound studies are needed to substantiate this positive impression.

I am puzzled! How on earth could they reach this conclusion? There is not a single trial that would  allow to establish cause and effect!!! The way I read the evidence from the therapeutic trials included in this and the previous reviews, the only possible conclusion is that EURYTHMY IS A WEIRD THERAPY FOR WHICH THERE IS NOT GOOD EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER.

5 Responses to Eurythmy: too weird for words

  • One might suspect that the first thing done with these studies is to write the conclusion. The rest of the information in the publication is then created from that. The fact the conclusions are at the end is just traditional journal format. A true pseudoscientist knows how to properly order their approach.

  • I read somewhere that eurhythmy was Steiner’s antidote for the African rhythms of jazz, which, as a racist crackpot, he considered spiritually damaging for more evolved (i.e. white) people. Anyone come across a source for this?

  • I find eurythmy rather strange, but harmless and at least it is some mild form of exercise. An art form, mmm.

    Healing Eurythmy again is probably also harmless and as mentioned seems to be used as an add on to other treatments.

    I was told that healing eurythmy practitioners study for 5 years (thats after 5 years of studying normal eurythmy!) and that in Germany and other European hospitals it is recognised as a valid medical qualification. Does anyone no if this is the case?

    • ED, I guess by “Healing Eurythmy” you are referring to “therapeutic eurythmy” / “curative eurythmy”.

      What leads you to think that healing/therapeutic/curative eurythmy is harmless to persons who actually need, or are otherwise seeking, improvements to their health? If the fully-trained instructor teaches only the movements then it is probably harmless. If the instructor also teaches “anthroposophic medicine” [aka quackery] then it is far from being harmless.

      “Eurythmy is a component of anthroposophic medicine,[1] a system of alternative medicine which has been characterized by some critics as unscientific,[12] pseudoscientific[13] and as “pure quackery”.[14]”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurythmy#Therapeutic_eurythmy

      Please read that section of the Wikipedia article plus reference [1] by Roger Rawlings:
      http://www.quackwatch.org/11Ind/steiner.html

      I’m very happy that I was ‘indoctrinated’ during my childhood with things such as learning the alphabet, times tables, mathematics, and science. I’m very grateful that I was NOT indoctrinated with the plethora of nonsense that Rudolf Steiner simply pulled out of his arse instead of bothering to actually learn science and medicine.

  • Pete I think “Healing Eurythmy” (HE) (known as Heil Eurythmy I think in German) is the same as “therapeutic eurythmy” / “curative eurythmy”. Eurythmy itself (not HE) should be considered more as an “art” form and separately from Anthro medicine, though it comes under the Anthro umbrella.

    Practitioners of HE dont have to be qualified doctors, whilst Anthro doctors do. I would find it odd if HE is used as a cure for an actual medical illness, but I assume (maybe wrongly!) it is used as a movement therapy, in a similar way as physiotherapy.

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