CROSSROADS: Dr. Rudolf Hänsel – (Man) Is Not Ill, He Is Not Properly Enlightened (Part I)

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  • …The future of our culture will largely depend on whether there will be enough “enlightened minds” capable of removing from the population those prejudices that are the ideological background of humanity’s catastrophes….At a time when the threat of the atomic bomb makes the self-destruction of humanity seem possible, we need more than ever the “free spirits” who teach us what is truth and what is a lie”

Man Is Good, But Irritated

He is not ill, he is not properly enlightened (Part I)

By Dr. Rudolf Hänsel


Dear readers! As citizens you have a right to be properly enlightened, to acquire psychological knowledge of human nature and to learn the truth, even if many things seem incomprehensible at first.

The therapeutic legacy of my esteemed teacher Friedrich Liebling always prompts me to raise my voice and pay homage to the truth. Because of his lifelong search for peace and humanism, this great psychologist and psychotherapist is also to be ranked among the universally known peace fighters (1).

According to his student, the Swiss psychotherapist Gerda Fellay, Friedrich Liebling instructed all his co-workers to “try out humanism and prove that humanity is social, good and able to live together without weapons and wars.” (2) Then he added: “If you remain united in research, you will punch a hole in the world.” (3)

Liebling called his psychological and psychotherapeutic approach “learning to think”, as opposed to believing. On this Fellay writes in her book on his life and work:

“Believing in God, believing in science, believing in authorities, believing in parents, etc., prevent thinking”. This approach of Friedrich Liebling to “teach his students and patients to think” was taught within the “teaching of reasoned thinking” in the therapeutic relationship in the small and large groups. This approach is based on the fundamental realisation: ‘People are not sick, they are not properly enlightened.’

– People are not ‘sick’, they do not need to be cured, they should be enlightened.

– When man knows the method of rational thinking, he is enabled to relate to others, to feel connected with them, and thus he becomes capable of shaping his life in freedom.

– He will become aware of his erroneous behaviour, his neuroses and their rootedness in the mystical ideas of his upbringing. With this he becomes capable of change.

– Attitudes do not change from one day to the next.” (4)


When we look around in the world, we see that people are good, but psychologically irritated. No human being can solve his problems in marriage, with the children or in social life. We beat the children and wage murderous wars.

Since people are programmed by all institutions – starting from education at home and school up to the recruit school and the “field of honour” – it is difficult to make them aware of their problems and help them.

People are programmed in such a way that they then do whatever those in power ask them to do. This is how the German people of about 100 million people – a people of poets and thinkers – cheered and agreed with Adolf Hitler. Everyone went along with him – starting with the Pope, the Catholic Church and the other churches, to all the scholars, the philosophers and psychologists and all the workers and socialists. They were so well programmed that they allowed themselves to be led to their deaths.

Peace, Freedom and Justice Continue to be Desired Goals of All Human Beings

Therefore, it is our task to give all people the psychological knowledge about themselves and their fellow human beings so that they can solve their personal problems and begin to lead the world into a peaceful path. A peaceful world can only come about by changing people and changing the present social and economic conditions.

In this sense, I continue to point out the great importance of enlightenment and try to explain what is meant by psychology. Since the standpoint of humanistic psychology is relatively new and not yet thoroughly elaborated, it is difficult to communicate and not in the interest of the ruling class.

But without psychology, the world will not progress!

On the importance of enlightenment

Since politics is prepared in people’s minds and hearts, people will act tomorrow as they think today. Therefore, the importance of the Enlightenment cannot be overestimated.

The purpose of Enlightenment efforts is to purify human consciousness of individual and collective prejudices. The elimination of prejudice means more than a mere intellectual endeavour. The “enlightened mind” is capable of envisaging healthy life goals.

The future of our culture will largely depend on whether there will be enough “enlightened minds” capable of removing from the population those prejudices that are the ideological background of humanity’s catastrophes. Intellectuals have a great responsibility in this, because it would be their duty to think for other people (Romain Rolland) and to proclaim freedom in general with the freedom of thought.

At a time when the threat of the atomic bomb makes the self-destruction of humanity seem possible, we need more than ever the “free spirits” who teach us what is truth and what is a lie.

Paul-Henri Thiry d’Holbach already wrote in his 1878 book “The Common Sense of Father Meslier. Critical Thoughts on Religion and its Effect on Cultural Development” about the origin of prejudice (spelling, punctuation and sentence order as in the original):

“The human brain, especially in childhood, is like soft wax, readily absorbing any impression. Education hands down to man almost all his opinions, at a time when he himself is not yet capable of any judgement. We believe that we have caught true and false ideas from nature or at birth, which have been imprinted on our minds at a tender age; and this “reservation” is one of the main sources of our errors.

The prejudice reinforces in us the opinions of those who have occupied themselves with our instruction. We believe that they are superior to us and hold them convinced of what they teach us. We place the greatest confidence in them. As a result of the care they had for us when we were not yet able to care for ourselves, we consider them incapable of wanting to deceive us. Today we find the motives which burden us with a thousand weighty errors without any other reason than that of the shameful word of those who educated us; even the prohibition not to think about what they told us does not diminish our confidence, and rather often contributes to increasing our respect for them.

The teachers of the human race are so wise as to implant their religious principles in men before they are yet able to distinguish the true from the false, or the right hand from the left. It would be as difficult a task to impress upon the mind of a man of forty the perverse notions which are given us about the Deity, as to withdraw these notions from a man which he imbibed in childhood.” (5)

The science of psychology

Psychology is a science about man, about human nature: how he becomes, how he grows up, how he finds his way in life. His experiences are imparted to him above all by his parents and teachers. It is then the product of his experiences and impressions in childhood.

Already in the first years of life – at the age of five to six – the child has a compass. When it comes to kindergarten, it already knows how to behave. It also has an opinion about the other child, the father, the mother and the siblings. It already has its character traits and knows its position in the world.

Scientific psychology wants to explore this mental and spiritual life of the human being: his thoughts, his feelings and his experiences. Once you have recognised the human being’s feelings and ways of reacting and understood how he grows up, then you understand yourself, the other person, society and the whole world.

Medicine, too, only progressed after it had studied and recognised the functions of the body. At first, man was not allowed to get to know the human being – his organs and his whole interior – not to study him. The Church was against studying the human being for certain reasons. It was only when the necessity was recognised that corpses were stolen and doctors began to study the human being.

If we learn to understand man, then we also understand the problem of war, because we can assess man’s actions and deeds and understand what is going on inside him. We then find an answer to the question: Is it people like us who cause the wars or is it completely different people?

All the questions of our life, our thoughts, our feelings, our experiences can be explained if we understand the human being, know his ways of reaction and feelings and know how he grows up, how he sees the world and what is going on in him. We then have a different way of thinking and feeling.

So let’s get involved and go the way of acquiring psychological knowledge of human beings.

Part II:

No man is. He will be…!

Common sense versus magical worldview.

War is good business and the glorification of violence.


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Dr. Rudolf Lothar Hänsel is a school rector, educationalist (Dr. paed.) and psychologist (Dipl.-Psych.). After his university studies, he became an academic teacher (professor) in adult education: among other things, he was the head of an independent school model experiment and a trainer of Bavarian counselling teachers and school psychologists. As a retiree, he worked as a psychotherapist in private practice. He was rapporteur for Germany at a public hearing on juvenile delinquency in the European Parliament. In his books and articles, he calls for a conscious ethical-moral education and an education for public spirit and peace. For his services to Serbia, he was awarded the Republic Prize “Captain Misa Anastasijevic” by the Universities of Belgrade and Novi Sad in 2021.


(1) Fellay, Gerda (1977). Friedrich Liebling. Life and work – an introduction. New York, Paris, Bern, p. 187.

(2) op. cit., p. 55

(3) op. cit.

(4) op. cit., p. 51

(5) D’Holbach, Paul-Henri Thiry (1976). The common sense of the priest Meslier. Critical thoughts on religion and its impact on cultural development. Zurich, p. 19. Original 1878.

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