Column

News from the AD(H)D front

By Henning Köhler, September 2015

Shortly before his death, the US psychiatrist Leon Eisen­berg, one of the “inventors” of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, confessed that this was a prime example of a fabricated illness. He deeply regretted his error because the actual (mostly psychosocial) causes for the symptoms were ignored if an inherited neurochemical imbalance is assumed and methylphenidate prescribed. [more]

Column

Democratic games

By Henning Köhler, November 2013

We are permitted, from time to time, to “register” (revealing verb) our vote to influence the composition of parliament. In doing so, the much-vaunted responsible citizenry has technically done its democratic duty. Of course our “representatives of the people” cannot afford to fall out of favour with the voters – careers and sinecures are at stake – so they have to pretend for four years that electoral promises are more important than staying in power. A favourite phrase is to refer to “painful decisions for the public good”. When “pain” and “public good” are quoted in the same breath, it is pretty safe to assume that this really refers to machinations on behalf and for the benefit of powerful lobby groups.  Hence many critical intellectuals... [more]

Column

Uplifting moments

By Henning Köhler, December 2012

“The consciousness soul strives to assert itself to its full antisocial extent,” Rudolf Steiner says. Did he therefore share the full neo-Darwinist dogma of innate egoism? Of course not. He was only clarifying that the invocation of natural social instincts misses the point at the heart of the social question as it presents itself today. His socio-psychological observations relate to an ethical attitude of a higher order which presumes inner freedom. Only a person who in a certain respect grows beyond anything that is biologically determined or is conventional sociality can develop true social competence. Steiner uses the word “antisocial” in a twofold meaning. Positively it describes the gesture of autonomy – with special emphasis of the striving... [more]

Column

Inferior life?

By Henning Köhler, September 2012

A debate was held in Philosophie-Magazin 04/12 on the question: “Is it morally defensible to abort a child with Down’s syndrome because of his or her disability?” Dieter Birnbacher, a specialist in medical ethics, thought it was. Peter Radtke, a member of the German Ethics Council, disagreed. [more]

Column

Children cannot be trained in social behaviour

By Henning Köhler, May 2012

“While people generally believe that they can be an awful lot to children, the point, above all, is to disrupt as little as possible what wants to emerge [from the child],” Rudolf Steiner says. Hence we need an educational method “exercised in love through which the child ... can educate himself or herself through us without its freedom being put at risk.”  If we argue in favour of an education in freedom, it triggers a peculiar flurry of “yes, buts” in many people. Yes, but ... children need boundaries! Yes, but ... they have to learn to fit in! Yes, but ... if everyone does what they want there will be chaos! Yes, but ... children are egocentric, they don’t know what to do with freedom! Yes, but ... you first of all have to teach them to... [more]

Column

Poor children

By Henning Köhler, March 2012

A growing number of children in Germany is living in poverty. The figures vary. If we take an average, then about 2.4 million out of 13.6 million children are classed as poor. We are deemed to be poor if we fall below a threshold of 60 percent of the average monthly per capita income, so have less than 870 euros to spend. Approximate calculations suggest that the children concerned have to make do with about 200 euros per month. That will not kill anybody but is sufficient, as UNICEF has noted in its report on the situation of children in Germany, to lead to social exclusion, exclusion from cultural involvement and educational disadvantage. The poverty-related increase in chronic diseases and behavioural problems was also... [more]

Column

Icy normality

By Henning Köhler, February 2012

Every ten seconds, a child under ten dies from malnourishment. Three million children die of hunger before their fifth birthday each year. Ninety percent of these deaths do not occur from acute famine but from chronic hunger which could be prevented. [more]

Column

Pills which change the child

By Henning Köhler, January 2012

The Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics (NEK-CNE) published an opinion at the end of last year called: “Human enhancement by means of pharmacological agents”. The scandal of the ever increasing use of drugs such as Ritalin or Concerta for children diagnosed with ADHD is commented on in detail.  [more]