Observations placeholder

Taking the waters



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Extract from FASEB J. 2007 Jul;21(9):1948-50."Taking the waters"--springs, wells, and spas. Frosch WA. Department of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, 525 East 68th St., New York, NY 10021, USA. wafrosc@med.cornell.edu

PMID: 17592155

In France and Germany, people were drawn to particular spas because of their reputations as centers of healing for specific problems.

Forges was the haven of the nephritic and the infertile; Vichy and Bourbon were the resorts of the paralytic and apoplectic. Louis XIII and Anne of Austria went to Forges in their (successful) search for an heir; Mme de Sevigné traveled to Bourbon when, at age 50, an attack of rheumatism made her unable to bend her fingers and deprived her of the ability to write.

The French baths were relatively crude, open to the air, unisex, and socially mixed.

At the hot springs patients both bathed and drank; at the cold springs they only drank the waters.

Generally, treatment was supervised by a physician which began with bleeding and purging, and ended with purging again. After an early start, most of the morning was spent taking the waters as prescribed.

Patients then had a light dinner, an afternoon rest, an evening promenade, a light supper, and went to bed early.

It was a sober and serious life, regimented and often humiliating. Mme. De Sevigné was disgusted at having to shower naked, and was not allowed to have her hair done before her morning dose of water:

I started to shower this morning and it is a great rehearsal for purgatory …one is completely nude in this little underground place and there one finds a tube with hot water that a woman aims at different parts of her body. It is a very humiliating thing

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps