Chapter 19 — The four “wives” of “Sherlock-Holmes”

Bruce Dickson
19 min readSep 1, 2022


Updating and serializing more of Growing Sustainable Children; and, K-12 Schools Worthy of Our Affection (2018). Earlier chapters can be found around Jan-Feb 2022 in my Medium archive, going back from there.

Between 1900 and 1999, psychology arguably evolved more than any other science or discipline. Perhaps only astronomy evolved more. The 20th century was a period of on-going upheaveal and upgrade of old knowledge and ideas; replaced with, more workable knowledge and ideas. Where was psychology in December 1899? Since its early days, mid-1850s, “psychology” was hobbled by:

- Dense metaphysical-philosophical thickets about “will” and “willpower,”

- Being wedded to medical pathology (corpse dissection; and, the overly-simplified Germ Theory of Pathology), and

- Intellectual power abused to converge church and state, religion and politics.

Fast-forward to 1955–1995. Most of the upgrade psychology receives in the 1900s occurs during this period. 1955 was the start of Humanistic Psychology summer conferences; and, group therapy going more mainstream. The 1990s saw significant new literatures arise around Best Practices in healthy group processes, Choice Theory; and, Solution-Focussed-Brief Therapy.

In the 1990s, as word processing facilitated knowledge gathering and sorting, the worst, most out of date, least-workable ideas and research of early psychology were released and trashed. This was necessary de-cluttering.

In 2022, mainstream psychology is still groping its way to Best Practices in Wholeness. Much work remains to be done to reconcile and show the utility of both the magical optimistic life-oriented thinking of the Land of Childhood (right hemisphere); and, the rigorous serious, death-oriented thinking of Adult Nation (left hemisphere). Since 2009, Iain McGilchrist has been the leading proponent of more whole-brained psychology.

Steiner of course wanted more balance too. What about Goethe? Even in Classic Waldorf, as much as Goethe and his approach was praised, the significance of Goethe’s approach to science and Nature was under-estimated. This only became more clear in 2014 with publication of Goethean Holistic Science; Everyday, We Use Three Simple Orders of Science (third ed 2022).

How did even the most ardent Waldorf Goetheans under-estimate Goethe? A metaphor I find useful to explain this is Sherlock Holmes, the thinking man’s thinking man. Holmes can stand for all of 19th century left-brain-only, male-dominated, control-mad Thinking.

Why are you distorting Holmes?

I was a middle-school fan of Sherlock Holmes; also, H.G Wells and Conan Doyl’es Lost World. Holmes was a positive male role-model for many for about 150 years. I even like the Enola Holmes (2020) movie, where a girl benefits from Holmes as a positive role model. It’s strange now to knowingly posit a negative “shadow Holmes.” Strange — yet useful.

The whole century of the 1900s paid little attention to Jung’s ideas about role models, projections and the Mythological level. The significant good work, which was done, was little-read. For those readers able to conceive of a negative, shadow Sherlock Holmes, this is one of few ways we have to gain purchase on many slippery ideas related to MIS-use of the ego-bound intellect in science and toxic male-dominated clubs.

In the realm of Shadow Holmes

In this realm we find Holmes’ rival Dr. Moriarty, is only the tip of the iceberg of the Mr. Hydes hiding behind Sherlock Holmes’ positive face. We also have:

- Comic book super villains of the 1960s-1990s, the “take over the world,”control-mad, super-villains,

- The physical-materialist rationals aligned with atheism,

- The knowingly deceitful actions of Orwellian fake news and Orwellian political posturing.

Given this, let’s consider the ‘Four Wives’ of Sherlock Holmes.

Between 1820–1850 early psychology was like a beautiful, fragile damsel-in-distress in a Victorian novel. Let’s call her Psyche. Psyche had no (intellectual, academic) home, no (intellectual) dowry. Her talents were access to Feeling, iNtuition, Inspiration and Imagination.

She was too inarticulate and weak to accomplish much on her own besdes Romantic poetry and painting. Her relatives wondered if she would even survive in a harsh man’s world. She needed support; she required a strong male benefactor.

dg-sherlock 1904

When Sherlock Holmes came to court her, Psyche agreed to marry him, even knowing he already had three wives already. As in British Victorian novels, she knew it might not be a good marriage; yet, she had no other suitors. It was either Sherlock or — abject poverty (no intellectual standing at all).

Psyche knew marriage to Holmes was a bad marriage for her. She recognized Sherlock as a Know-It-All. This was toxic to Psyche. She knew he obsessed on narrow measurements, focused on only the deadest quantitative aspects of Nature. In the 1800s, she knew his interest in human beings was limited to pathology alone. Human health held no attraction for him. “Where’s the profit in that? he asked. She knew he stood only for left-brain intellectual perception and mathematical-intelligence only.

What other choice did she have? She had no other support. And so as many other women in England of the 1800s, she made the best of a bad marriage.

What women had Sherlock-Holmes already married?

Sherlock Holmes’ wife #1 — charter business corporations

Sherlock Holmes’ first marriage was after the Dark Ages, in The West’s Age of sea-going Exploration and Discovery (1450–1550). Corporations, chartered by a king, were petitioned by Progressive Protestant Belgians, Scandinavians and Portuguese, for protection from risk; and, the uncovery of more of Earth’s minerals and profitable products. Corporate charters were written and organized around profit for the king and investors. Later corporate charters only required bank loans.

The managing of these charters, the distribution of profits and losses, required precise accounting. Left-brain, logical-sequential mathematical thinking, was indispensable for accounting, dividing up shares of profit, tracking inventory and quantifying rate of return on investment. Sherlock Holmes first wife, international commerce via corporation charters, made him rich.

Sherlock Holmes’ wife #2 — science

Sherlock-Holmes’ second wife was Natural Science. As late as the 1950s-1960s, several dozen histories of science were written. These were pro-science accounts, characterized by discussion of how the science of Galileo, Descartes, Newton inevitably led to the triumphs of cars, manufacturing industry, medicine and the Atom Bomb used for peace. By the way, the triumphal march of Science out-competed superstition, old wive’s tales and the more balanced, humanistic, whole-brained science of Goethe. This was “proven” by how Newton bested Goethe in color theory. This supposedly disproved Goethe’s whole approach to human experimenting.

Sherlock-Holmes’ second wife gave him status, social standing in the religion of Rational Science. The male-dominator establishment, 1650–2022?, wishes to persuade us only ‘Sherlock-Holmes science’ (Second Order Science) is “real science,” for now and ever more, Amen.

1951 also produced the premier holistic critique of one-sided science, Ernst Lehrs’ Man or Matter (1985 3rd ed. preferred). Until 2014, Lehrs’ history of science was the ONLY history of science to give Goethe his rightful place — IF — a whole-brained, Iain McGilchrist science is what you want and wish to pass on to future generations. Lehrs first ed is free online.

Wife #3 — medicine

Sherlock-Holmes’ third wife was patent (pharmaceutical) medicines. During the USA Civil War, medical tech was at the level of Civil War surgery and “medicines” with only anecdotal reports of their effectiveness. It was also common for doctors to certify each other as professionals. There was almost no medical infrastructure.

In this period, in both the US and Europe, a plague of unscrupulous entreprenurial salesmen sold mostly fake “patent medicines” to uneducated consumers. Many “medicines” were simply hydrogen peroxide or turpentine (two of the best). History knows this period as the era of “snake-oil,” fake medicines sold as magic pills and as cure-alls for every ailment.

Sales pitches were made on public streetcorners, wherever a crowd could gather. Pitches included “plants” in the audience who; according to a script, would volunteer to try the medicine; and then, loudly report instant relief.

At this same time (1860–1920), Homeopathy was spreading widely. The modest, honest and humble Homeopathy in the 1800s was no match for wealthy German and USA drug makers with huge cash flows and even greater potential profits from creating a monopoly in healthcare based exclusively on patent drugs (pharmaceuticals) and surgery. Excess cash from Big Pharma patent medicines was used to fund medical schools in the US.

Sherlock-Holmes’ third wife gave him increased social status and credibility.

Wife #4 psychology

With her access to Feeling, iNtuition, Inspiration and Imagination, Psyche held the keys to the missing half of intelligences useful for science, the intelligences of the right hemisphere and the heart. Alas, when Psyche married Sherlock Holmes, she was tied onto the Procrustean Bed of one-eyed, color-blind, rational-material science. Like al else, her dimensions made to fit the rack. Not until the 1970s was this injustice significantly corrected.

Some good came out of Holmes’ marriage to Psyche. Counseling psychology, group psychology, psychotherapy and documenting of Waldorf pedagogy came out of this marriage.

Yet as competitive, macho-males perceive value, Sherlock-Holmes’ fourth wife gave him — little of value compared to his other wives. The legitimacy and reality of subjective Feeling did not gain professional acceptance until the 1980s when for the first time women comprised a very large fraction of career positions in all forms of Psychology. iNtuition, Inspiration and Imagination, prime right-hemisphere intelligences, were still generally dismissed and dishonored, not given permission or support to mature.

To summarize, the positive face of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is “the coming into its own” of the conscious Self, what Steiner terms in older language, the “consciousness soul.” Holmes’ popularity does indeed mark a period where these left hemisphere intelligences were exercised, matured-up and spread more widely world-wide.

1990s de-cluttering of psychology

1991–1993 I was at Cal. State Dominguez Hills finishing my BA and doing conventional teacher training. I also edited RS’s Fifth Gospel in Story Form and wrote a 400 page first version of this book. I was at the huge library a lot. The “stacks” held thousands of unused books which were open to students.

For psychology, the humanistic revolution of the 1970s, was a sea change. Since the 1970s, the vast majority of Psych lit has a whole different quality, more balanced between Thinking and Feeling. Psych lit prior to WW II is nothing like the literature of psych journals since the more practical, more grounded self-help movement of Psychology Today magazine and the 1970s.

Old psych lit is hundreds of volumes of printed research papers by students, many of them in pursuit of MAs and PhDs aligned with the activity of Pavlov and Skinner. Prior to the 1970s, many of these were male authors and women slaved to think like men, in search of a Masters or doctorate in psych. Thousands of papers. They were published in annual and semi-annual collections of science experiments in psychology. Who bought these collections? Nobody. Only colleges where they functioned like legal case study precedents. For psych students, this body of literature was primarily useful only to learn if your thesis topic had already been written up or not. A paper chase. Not much about psychology as learning and growing, as we know it since the 1970s.

I was curious. After reading a good deal of psych lit 1880–1965, I could understand why libraries were literally trashing these bound volumes of antique psych research papers. They were useless, archaic, unworkable, one-sided, psychologically out-of-balance, sometimes to an extreme. No one was reading them. Psychology really had moved on — dramatically — had turned a page. The same process did not happen in medicine, where two-tiers of healthcare evolved, one where healthcare was an art and science, holistic, alternative, complementary care; and, one tier where only drugs, surgery and expensive high-tech healthcare was practiced.

To readers with no academic background in history of psychology, or psych lit, it may be news how virtually all early psychology, prior to WW II, experiments and conclusions — except for Pavlov — have been tossed out of college libraries, onto the scrapheap of history. Literally whole libraries of old psychology books, papers, journals tossed out.

Our task: to remarry Psyche to Goethe

Our task, for the second 100 years of Waldorf? To annul Psyche’s marriage with Sherlock Holmes. Connect her back with Goethe.

  • Goethe will permit her to use qualitative measurement, which she highly prefers. One-sided feeling et al is not the endgame. The endgame is rhythmic alternation between quantitative and qualitative measuring, between intelligences on both sides of the brain.

Another endgame is local communities worthy of our affection. The more whole-brained persons around, the easier this goal becomes.

Q: Was there nothing of value to be salvaged from Psyche’s earlier marriage to Sherlock?

A: Oh yes. In her large trunk she carries with her treasures, something borrowed, something blue, from her first marriage:

- The value of honest intellectual rigor,

- Willingness and intention to measure even invisibles precisely,

- Love of the clarity of Sherlock-Holmes-Thinking.

Q: How does the love-life of Psyche pertain to K-12?

A: All K-12 theory-method devolves from two sources:

- whatever-whichever image of the human being adults in charge have; and

- whatever-whichever image of science adults in charge have.

- Whatever habitual inner state teacher trainers, admins, teachers, parents subscribe to inevitably shapes how children shape their own inner life.

In the West, outside of Waldorf and home-schooling, to 1995, K-12 was easily captured-incorporated into the sphere of Sherlock Holmes and Team Machine.

SIDEBAR — Horizon: Zero Dawn

The life-threatening aspect of this economic landscape is powerfully and artfully depicted in the robot dinosaurs of Horizon: Zero Dawn video game (2017). Aloy, the main character, fights to rid the world of life-destroying machines.

dg-HZD meme

Harder to dismiss is the on-going pernicious effect of science-married-to-psychology promoted by Edward Bernays. Edward Louis Bernays was an American theorist, considered a pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda. He is referred to in his obituary as “the father of public relations”. Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life — Wikipedia

In the 1930s, Bernays promoted how to use psychology to manipulate people. Hitler himself was very interested in and tried to emulate in Triumph of the Will, etc.

Bernays was nephew to Sigmund Freud. This suggests Bernays as Freud’s destructive shadow. Bernays was a real-world Frankenstein not held accountable for his monstrous creations until the early 2000s.

While no single person can claim exclusive credit for the ascendancy of advertising in American life, no one deserves credit more than a man most of us have never heard of: Edward Bernays — The manipulation of the American mind: Edward Bernays and the birth of public relations —

dg-lucky in love cigarette-propaganda

“the 20th century’s foremost salesmen of ideas.” … Born in Austria in 1891 … Bernays was also Freud’s nephew twice over. … Bernays in 1928 published his seminal work, Propaganda, in which he argued how public relations is not a gimmick but a necessity

Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America (2017) recounts the great interest Hitler had in learning from the Hollywood propaganda machines. In the 1930s, Hitler saw the utility of Hollywood propaganda techniques to his dreams of Nazi expansion.

Will Sherlock Holmes marry a fifth wife? K-12 education?

Since the shape, look and feel of K-12 education devolves from adult ideas of both science and psychology, during 20–30 years of “high stakes testing” in factory-style public schools, it appeared Sherlock Holmes was going to marry a fifth wife.

High-stakes multiple choice, machine-scored tests was a corporate profit center which only Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Frankenstein could dream up. The search for measurable perfection in children would also appeal to Procrustes, the owner of his famous bed.

According to the character of Second Order Science, ‘Sherlock-Holmes K-12 ed’ wished to observe, measure, set objective standards and measure children according to “objective” standards. Whose standards should be used? Why, standards set by scientists, not by teachers. Only scientists can be trusted to be objective about children, right?

Hard science used external measures, such as IQ tests and exams, to justify factory-style K-12 education, production line schooling.

Making K-12 into “hard” Science

In the period 1920–2005, Sherlock Holmes tried to make K-12 into a hard science.

Starting with IQ tests, as it went along, while attracting more and more political support and corporate investment, this project worked less and less well.

Why? You can only make K-12 into a hard science the way agriculture and animal husbandry do. That is, you can only make K-12 into a hard science, if you treat children as herd animals.

What disrupts this is the main purpose of whole-child K-12: evoking and develop capacity for independent rational Thinking and Rational Feeling.

Sherlock Holmes scientists did not understand efforts to succeed at treating children as herd animals would inevitably have the opposite result. The more higher education people consume, the further they progress along the stages:

Imitative Thinking ==>

Taking truth on the authority of another ==>

Independent-critical Thinking and critical Feeling in support of free choice.

When in the 1980s Sherlock Holmes wanted more testing in schools, Cultural Creative Progressives wanted more choice. The stage was laid for the fight for school choice and charter schools.

Sherlock Holmes by himself was too un-sophisticated to artfully manage the recursive transition from the pliable herd nature of younger children to growing individual independent thinkers-feelers in Grade 12.

One of the appeals of the book, Teaching as a Lively Art (1986) is a lovely vision of how this elaborate transition can be handled and managed artfully by teachers.

Why five wives? Command and control

We [left hemisphere dominant people] are today, by virtue of our psycho-physical structure, more or less a world-spectator. What characterizes the state of man’s mind when engaged in scientific observation is how it is restricted to a one-eyed, color-blind approach (Lehrs 31).

Lehrs characterizes Enlightenment left-brain-only scientific method as “one-eyed, color-blind conception of the world.” This poetically characterizes the excesses of Enlightenment-Sherlock-Holmes science, which despoiled our natural Earthly Commons in the 1800s and 1900s.

Why did Sherlock Holmes want or need five wives? It will help to use Ernst Lehrs’ characterization. What is this character’s greatest fear? It is he will be overwhelmed by Nature, too much Nature, too much Feeling — this is his great fear. By 1950, Lehrs intuited how too much Nature, too much Feeling must threaten the “new religion” of “modern science.” In this Lehrs throws forward to McGilchrist 2009, 2022.

Why was too much Nature, too much Feeling a threat to the religion of modern science? These threaten the male ego, based as it is on left-hemisphere domination and control over right hemisphere, over Feeling, over women, over children, over Nature. In the 1950s, car drive-in movies were popular. The vast majority of menaces were giant ants, giant, plants (Triffids), giant lizards (Godzilla), giant moths, giant birds. The polarity in these movies is always between the white, no feeling scientist and Nature in its scariest forms. For males raised in this old male paradigm, too much Nature is scary.

Sherlock-Holmes and Mr. Hyde

Do you have any limit on what you will do for money?

What are the limits of what you will do for money? If you have no limits, you are not a benefit to this planet and the 99% of people on this planet ~

Whole-brain version: What are the limits of what you will do with Thinking? If you have no limits, you are out of balance with Feeling, iNtuition and heart.

Is our universe dead or living?

Gunther Wachsmuth summed up the endgame of left-brain-only, quantitative-mechanistic research:

Quantitative-mechanistic research into the world has brought us to conceive of the cosmic system as a [clockwork] corpse in which, nevertheless, we are alive [the only active agents]. This is the conception of something unreal [a fantasy, a projection, not reality]. If we progress to conceiving of a living cosmic system, in which we also live, we begin fashioning for ourselves an image closer to reality ~ Wachsmuth, EFForces Ch 8, P 142.

He who recognizes [the danger of conceiving of the universe as dead], feels impelled to look beyond a one-eyed, color-blind conception of the world (Lehrs 30).

SIDEBAR ~ Benefits of test-taking strategies

Mr. Google suggests the backlash to constant high-stakes testing in K-12 schools succeeded around 2003–2005. It’s less onerous now. What I hope is, the baby is not thrown out with the dirty bathwater here too.

Test-taking strategies were one of the most valuable and empowering things I improved on in my tour of 13 community colleges and universities. I practiced test-taking strategies in my spare time. Doing well on tests built up my self-confidence as a problem solver. This applied directly to problem solving in the realms of:

- Child study on individual children,

- Energy Medicine sessions on myself and with clients.

I hope every high school student is has ample opportunity to learn the rich resources available to problem solvers. I have fond memories of the tactics of:

- use one or more variables,

- complete a table,

- consider a special case,

- look for a pattern,

- guess and test,

- draw a picture or diagram,

- make a list,

- solve a simpler related problem,

- use reasoning,

- work backward,

- solve an equation,

- look for a formula,

- use coordinates.

Some of the above strategies I’ve used in child study. All of the above I’ve used as an Energy Medicine practitioner with clients. Whoever uses the above tactics gradually comes to learn even the most opaque-seeming problems have patterns. Once you perceive them, options appear. Using problem solving strategies earns us insights into the patterns of a problem. Then we can begin reframing it in terms we can solve.

Helping student learners exercise schemas, tweak them, reframe them, improve them, examine them — makes their thinking and feeling stronger and more flexible.

We want learners who can make meaning and attach it to action in this world; instead of, sheeple who dully accept ready-made meanings and significance, corporations assign to the same topic.

When sheeple hear the Emperor say, “I’m wearing clothes so refined you can’t even see them!,” we want graduates who can see the Emperor is naked and speak up in their own voice.

PS: No, I never got good enuf at problem solving strategies to do well at all with Graduate Review Exam (GRE) graduate entry level tests. Those intricate analogies defeated me. I also felt they existed to develop intelligences I could not conceive a use for in my life.

GRE exam questions require more skill in introverted Thinking (Ti) than I ever developed. My experience is if you can get comfortable with and have fun with test taking skills and math skills up thru all of pre-algebra; such as fractions with negative numbers, et al, you’re unlikely to be thrown off balance in most workplace settings.

-=+ -=+ -=+

Gothean psychology is more compatible for K-12

In the future, I predict K-12 will get a divorce from Team Machine Psychology and marry Goethean Holistic Psychology. K-12 will unite with the science of experiments, uncovery, documentation and application of natural, lawful Unconscious Patterns applicable, practical and workable to K-12. Classic Waldorf has uncovered perhaps up to 80% of the Unconscious Patterns pertinent to K-12 ed, far more than any other ed system.

Male intolerance-competition-territoriality disguised as Science

When K-12 ed divorces from corporate science and measurement, it goes back to being parented by all Three Orders of Science; which is, perhaps a more precise and useful concept than the more vague word, “Humanities.”

Readers already exposed to the Three Sciences book will know it rectifies a good deal of psychology. Once grasped, it makes clear how much of what passes for psychology is male intolerance-competition-territoriality using Second Order Science as a mask-disguise to hide behind. The Three Sciences makes Science more psychological; and, extends the science of Psychology into the softer science of Sociology. This is where we have to go if at some point we wish to integrate actual practice of methods of interpersonal competency in students, faculty and administration.

SIDEBAR ~ Two sides of Students Will Be Able To (SWBAT)

Attempts by Sherlock Holmes teacher trainers to make the delivery of curriculum content “scientific” in lesson planning can be misleading.

These efforts can be out-of-balance, using only “one hand,” left-brain thinking only. SWBAT is one of these ideas. Teacher trainees can be damaged by this idea, mis-lead to believe 100% of their lesson planning should be practical to summarize in a goal for each lesson. I can conceive of classroom lessons where the goal for the current 45 minute period of instruction could be so clear, it can and should be written on the blackboard, for any school admin or mentor teacher to walk in, see the goal, and understand what is the goal of the current lesson activity. I cannot conceive of this being useful, practical or possible for all classroom lessons. Well, maybe in a school for robot children, yes.

On the negative side, in SWBAT, we boil down teaching and lesson planning to nor more nor less than “students will be able to.” If we do ONLY this, we have a wonderful example of the one-eyed color-blind Sherlock Holmes left-brain-only thinking at work. The onlooker consciousness wishes to define education in terms of observable-measurable student outcomes.

Yet there is another side.

SWBAT could have saved a dozen Waldorf schools

Now we turn the tables: In the period 1975–1995, more vigorous and rigorous use of SWBAT could have saved a dozen Waldorf schools from closing and/or failing to grow beyond Grade Three or Grade Five.

“Students will be able to” is EXACTLY the robust left-brain thinking upper elementary grades maths hopes to stimulate in children, given this is their Sensitive Period for more procedural and methodological rigor-precision in simpler concepts like fractions and long division, prior the even greater conceptual rigor-precision needed to hander negative numbers and fractions with negative numbers. Get it?

I don’t know the history of SWBAT. My guess it developed in the 1980s when public school teacher unions were very strong. The unions abused their power organizing to make it less and less possible for principals to fire or replace their worst-performing laziest teacher-bureaucrats. i believe SWBAT was an effort from college teacher trainees to give school admins a tool to evaluate teaches more clearly and accurately — on the lowest level of instructional performance.

SWBAT alone can not lead the way to a quality learning environment. SWBAT can help you measure student’s takeaway from the lesson. It can help you measure skill transfer, skill development — very useful in math grades 4–8. Learning and memory are connected but not yet “using both hands.”

SWBAT is a “conceptual boot camp” to encourage in teachers rudimentary capacity to plan lessons. Yet, SWBAT is only one thread on the loom of a quality learning environment.

To use “both hands” teacher trainees need a wider loom. It won’t kill you to learn the basics, especially if you will be teaching math in any form to children.



Bruce Dickson

Health Intuitive, author in Los Angeles, CA