The following is a case study taken from Anthroposophical Therapeutic Speech by Barbara Denjean-von Stryk and Dietrich von Bonin

Case History D: Borderline/Anxiety Neurosis. Female Patient Aged 47

1.1 Period of Treatment

Fourteen therapy sessions of thirty minutes each, once a week.

2.1 First Impression

There is a certain weakness of posture and the patient has an aura of scepticism.

2.2 Biographical and Medical Aspects

The patient comes from a difficult family background. Her father needed care and attention. When her mother remarried after his death, the patient had jaundice (aged five). She had five step siblings, one of whom was an alcoholic. The new father used to beat up the whole family. Her mother later died of an atrophy process in the brain.

At the age of nineteen, stomach ulcer, anxiety, fits of rage. At the age of twenty-two first hospitalisation in a psychiatric clinic. Later frequently readmitted.

At present she is a single mother (unable to work), suffering from a chronic subjective state of exhaustion. She needs a lot of sleep. No organic results. Anorexic behaviour.

2.3 Speech Diagnosis

Stance: Leptosome build, weak posture.

Breathing: The breath finds support neither in the body nor in the articulation placements, and consequently does not go very deep.

Voice: Her voice sits far back, with a dark colouring and strength which is hardly audible in her everyday speech.

Articulation: Very weak consonants.

Thinking: Her attitude basically seems to be sceptical and reluctant.

3.1 Therapeutic Aims

Strengthen her personality and/or will in order to allow the strength she really has to become effective.

Work on supporting the sound with the help of the consonants. Bring about a feeling of security by clear articulation and by working with lip sounds strengthening her ego and helping to set boundaries.

3.2 Course of Therapy

At the beginning exercises for a better orientation in space – above/below with the verses:

Auf und ab Up and down

auf und ab Up and down

wallt die Welle Swells the wave

schwipp and schwapp. Splish and splash

For backwards and forwards:

Hin und her To and fro

hin und her To and fro

fährt das Schiff Goes the ship

übers Meer. Over seas.

This was followed by dynamic speaking to liberate her soul from the different anxieties. Practising the palate blown sound CH (like in the Scottish ‘loch’) and experiencing her own strength of breath, the patient was able to identify more strongly with herself. The voiced consonant V stimulated her own inner strength (vibrating the lower lip), step by step leading it outside. This was following by the vowel sequence: ach, ech, ich, och, uch. This gave support and order to her soul.

Her strong need to yawn when speaking (a sign of her hunger for air) could be checked with the help of the impact sounds M, K and B with corresponding exercises. Gestures or stepping supported the strength to make these sounds, which were then brought into movement with the flowing L.

The sound /u/, which is particularly good for stimulating the peripheral circulation and brings ego presence to the lips, gave the patient courage and grounding (accompanied by gestures and feeling with the feet). With the help of u-exercises she learned to give herself support and strength in particularly difficult situations (for instance after a long drive). Moreover, this sound help to improve her sleeping problems.

A new quality of balance, which the patient would not want to miss any more, was created by working on the text ‘In the beginning was the word…’ which was spoken line by line forward and backwards, ultimately just thinking the lines silently.

A declamatory, alliterated text (M and L prevailing) gave the patient a new confidence in the power of the speech to carry her.

Her anxiety was reduced working with the sound NG in words she chose herself.

4.1 Findings at the End of the Therapy

The patient has learned to help herself with certain sounds and exercises which she uses intermittently during the day to keep the forces generated by speech alive. She has also become aware of the necessity to conserve these forces.

5.1 Recommendations and Comments

If the patient takes further lessons every now and again and practises consistently, she will be able to strengthen herself and gain new soul and life forces that will carry her and enable her to keep developing.