The concept of ‘salutogenesis’ (from the latin salus, health and greek genesis, origin) was developed in the 1970s by Aaron Antonovsky (1923-1994), an American-Israeli medical sociologist. He describes ‘health development’ as a process of discovering and using the sources of health.
Salutogenesis as a science of health development focuses on factors that support human health, in contrast to factors that cause disease. The salutogenetic model is concerned with the relationship between health, stress and coping. According to Antonovsky, human health is not static, but is a continuous process of development. This means that every person discovers their own health sources and decides for themselves what needs to be done to maintain mental comfort and overall well-being.
Scientific knowledge about the importance of biological rhythms in nature and people is of great significance to anthroposophic therapy, which is aimed at harnessing the self-healing powers of humans. Patients are encouraged to be their own source of health, which they can activate and strengthen to recover from an illness, to get fit and continue healthy or to have a better quality of life when suffering from a chronic illness.
The meaning of salutogenesis in anthroposophic medicine is to develop a clear ‘sense of coherence‘ (a feeling of comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness). With this in mind, patients, though temporarily ill and weak, have the capacity being at peace with themselves and their environment, consciously knowing they have found the right place in life and society.
If we are able to live a fulfilled life during periods of illness then we are less likely to perceive these life challenges as a form of punishment or guilt. Instead illness presents the opportunity to accept the disease through active exploration and examination, while our personality grows through the experience. This, in turn, strengthens our internal health-promoting forces and has a positive effect on objectively measured ‘health’.