The following is a case study taken from Anthroposophical Therapeutic Speech by Barbara Denjean-von Stryk and Dietrich von Bonin
Case History C: Angina Pectoris. Female patient, aged 80
1.1 Period of Treatment
Thirty-six sessions of thirty minutes each with a few breaks in between.
2.1 First Impression
Corpulent body, firm character, authoritarian manner. She talks too much and too fast.
2.2 Biographical and Medical Aspects
The patient repeatedly suffers from attacks of angina pectoris with breathing problems and chest pain which extends into her left arm. The resulting heart trouble was beginning to be very serious.
The medical diagnosis read as follows: heart failure (borderline compensated), diverticulitis, degenerative spine, as well as cataract.
2.2 Speech Diagnosis
Stance: Gestures as if beating time are interfering with the flow of speech.
Breathing: Her speech sounds hurried and breathless.
Voice: High pitched.
Articulation: Although she speaks very fast, her articulation is clear.
Thinking: She has a tendency not to finish her sentences.
3.1 Therapeutic Aims
A calm but fluent way of speaking, interspersed with intervals, is to be encouraged, so that the strong and committed nature of the patient can follow and find expression for her rich world of ideas.
By acquiring a darker tone her voice should find more calmness; the flow of speech should not be interrupted by staccato gestures; keep up the flow of breath so as to relieve the heart.
3.2 Course of Therapy
Working with sentences consisting of monosyllabic words (Dart may these boats…) a certain regularity in speaking was achieved. The next aim was to harmonize the ratio of pulse and breath with the help of exercises spoken with four syllables on one breath:
Followed by two hexameters:
(-Mile after mile through the meadows…
-Warm are the winds in the woodlands…)
In order to strengthen the heart sound /a/ was practised, both individually and in exercises and poems. The formative force of this sound can give structure to the whole human being. Later we worked with the iambic rhythm, which may be understood as a rhythm of the heart, eg in the fairy tale of the good and bad by Rudolf Steiner.
To refine her breath we worked with the loosening sounds M and L, which have a positive effect on the cataract as well. This led us into the fluid element – falling in drops, rippling or flowing quietly – which the patient could experience in many different way in exercises and corresponding examples in poetry.
To strengthen her uprightness we worked with speech exercises affecting the posture, wuch as bending and stretching with R and K (‘Mit dem Rűcken kann ich mich bűcken…’ (With my back I can roll over)). Secure and directed stepping was practised with the help of the following exercises: ‘Genesen werden stets edle Seelenwesen’ (The grey day breaks, breaks the grey day…) and ‘Wirre Wűrfe werfen wir wűrdig weg’ (Virile viewer vividly vociferates vowels). This had a positive effect also on the constitution of her back.
4.1 Findings at the End of the Therapy
A generally liberating and relieving effect had been achieved, also widening her chest. Whenever there was a sudden attack of angina pectoris the patient was now able to help herself with familiar exercises.
She has gained control over her voice, which is now pleasant to listen to and has a soothing effect.
She can continue to give courses in spiritual science, which is a considerable achievement at her age.
After an interval of six to twelve months it would be advisable for the patient to return and take a look at the way she practises on her own.