Important note: Simeon Pressel Massage Therapy has been recognised as Anthroposophic Body Therapy by the Medical Section of the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland since 2017.
As a young homeopathic physician in the 1930s, Pressel learned that by massaging the back, in the prone and lateral positions, he could quickly gain an impression of his patient's overall health and personal condition, and further that through his massage, together with other therapeutic means, he could intervene directly and effectively.
He therefore rarely wanted to do without this remedy, even then, and it turned out that he massaged many, up to thirty patients a day, but very briefly and purposefully.
This was also the time of his first contact with the spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner, in whose writings he found answers to the questions that arose from his work with patients.
His experience with this kind of massage deepened during his camp work in the 1940s in the Russian prisoner of war, where he had only a few other "remedies" at his disposal apart from his hands.
In the 1950s, his massage underwent a profound expansion:
He worked as a school doctor at the reopened Free Waldorf School in Stuttgart at the Uhlandshöhe and experienced that children and adolescents traumatised by war were able to reconnect more harmoniously with their bodies and overcome traumas by massaging their calves.
Based on these experiences, his therapy was given a basic structure: an alternation from time to time between calf massage and back massage. Pressel also found this approach reinforced by Rudolf Steiner's lecture of how massage of the lower limbs stimulates elimination, while massage of the arms and upper back addresses the forces building up the body (1).
At this time Pressel took part in courses with Dr Bernard Lievegoed, Dutch anthroposophic psychiatrist, on the so-called planetary qualities, an anthroposophic way of looking at seven basic qualities in the cosmos, nature, the human being and therapy. Here Pressel found the spiritual core of his work. He experienced and communicated this sevenness as "our oldest and most future teachers", right down to the grip qualities and movement sequences of his massaging hands.
His way of treatment was still short, direct and inquiring.
Through his association with his wife Lies Pressel in 1957, elements of Rhythmical Massage Therapy were added to his practice, mainly at the opening and conclusion of a treatment, but also through the development of the so-called "low-back-massage" as a complement to the calf massage. These additions made the massages much longer and with enveloping, invigorating, relaxing elements.
In the 1970s, Simeon Pressel also gave courses in this healing massage. About ten days before his death in October 1980, already severely marked by his cancer, he concluded his last course with the words: "We want to be too good for half measures."
His colleague, the doctor Gretl Stritzel, and his wife Lies Pressel, continued the therapy and also the course activities after his death.
Basis of the method
Based on Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science, Simeon Pressel's concern was to accompany people not only in terms of health but also biographically and spiritually. He developed this therapy from the understanding of the muscle as "crystallised karma" (2), and strove to make the person more permeable to the spirit by working on the body.
Alternating between "leg massage" and "back massage", the "metabolic limb pole" and "sensory pole" are alternately addressed, whereby the rhythmic system, as the actually healthy and wholesome in the human being, can be strengthened.
Fields of work
Today, this massage has proven its worth in accompanying young people, handicapped youths and adults, as a socially stabilising force in village and work communities, as care and prevention in families, and last but not least as individual therapy or part of a more comprehensive therapy for a wide variety of illnesses:
These include stress-related diagnoses, metabolic disorders and diseases, cycle disorders, circulatory disorders, muscle tension, organic weaknesses and/or damage, biographical crises and healthy coping with any kind of illness or challenge.
Pressel himself regularly practised a wide variety of art therapies and referred his patients to appropriate colleagues. The musical, creative and moving essence of this therapy can also be experienced and practised in the courses.
If necessary, the massage can be prepared e.g. by oil dispersion baths.
In the spirit of Pressel, patients can be inspired to care for themselves through, for example, wraps, diets, outdoor exercise and study of spiritual content.
Through cooperation with medical competence, a healing process can be supported by medication, any cooperation with other therapeutic interventions can be an enrichment depending on the situation.
Forms of organisation
The Professional Association for Massage according to Dr. med. Simeon Pressel e.V. was founded in 2014, with its headquarters in Kassel:
Berufsverband für Massage nach Dr. med. Simeon Pressel e.V.
Contact: Dr. Rainer Werthmann, Executive Board: werthmann.rainer@t-online.LÖSCHEN.de
A circle of teachers regularly works on the further development of this massage.
- (1) Steiner, R. "Geisteswissenschaft und Medizin", 16. Vortrag
- (2) Steiner, R. Inneres Wesen des Menschen und Leben zwischen Tod un neuer Geburt", 1. Vortrag
- Pressel S. "Bewegung ist Heilung" Stuttgart: Verlag Freies Geistesleben; 1984
- Keyserlingk Graf A von. Simeon Pressel. In: Selg P (Hg). Anthroposophische Ärzte. Lebens- und Arbeitswege im 20. Jahrhundert. Dornach: Verlag am Goetheanum; 2000: 341-344
- Stritzel G. Die Strömungsmassage nach Dr. med. Simeon Pressel. Der Merkurstab 2007; 60 (6): 560-565
- Pressel L. Massage nach Dr. med Simeon Pressel. Einblick in Hintergründe, Entwicklung, Durchführung und Wirkungsweise. Der Merkurstab 2007; 60 (1): 45-49
- Pressel E. Massage nach Simeon Pressel. Wirkung auf den weiblichen Zyklus - 4 Kasuistiken. Der Merkurstab 2014; 67 (2): 143-147
- Pressel E. Massagetherapie. In Glöckler M (Hg). Meditation in der Anthroposophischen Medizin. Salumed Verlag; 2016
- Herrero F. Indikation, Durchführung und Wirkung der Massage nach Dr. Simeon Pressel. Der Merkurstab 2013; 66 (2): 141-144
- Robert A. Massage nach Dr. Simeon Pressel - Hilfe und Begleitung. Medizinisch-pädagogische Konferenz 2016; 79:99-106
- Robert A. Die Massage nach Dr.med.Simeon Pressel - Hilfe und Begleitung für den heutigen Menschen. Der Merkurstab 2018; 71(6):454-458