SPA Jesenik is known due to Mr. Priessnitz Treatment Methods

SPA Jesenik: Many thanks to Mr. Priessnitz

The eldest, Frantisek, went to study in a seminar to be­come a priest and so Vincent was the one left to take over the farm. When he was 12 his father became blind and all the work was up to Vincent, his sister Tereza and his moth­er. There was not much time left for school. Writing caused him great difficulties. His school was nature and his textbooks were the forests, springs, wild animals. Still a child he had the chance of observing the miraculous healing effects of fresh cold water. He watched how a wounded deer would heal his injury by bathing in a forest pool. The memory of this experience stayed with him and destined his future life.

He was fifteen when he was seriously in­jured - while taking lumber home his finger became squashed. He dipped it in spring wa­ter and added water wraps - the wound healed incredibly fast. Two years later his horse shied and the unfortunate young man fell straight under the wheels of a cart. The wheels ran across his chest and the doctor called did not give him much chance of sur­viving. The wounded boy decided to try wa­ter once again. With great courage, he moved back his ribs into place and put a cold compress on his chest for a long time care­fully and patiently. It took a year but Vincent was healed completely. The news of his success spread and Vincent started to help oth­ers. First patients started coming to Grafenberk to see him - he never refused anyone and fixed dislocated arms and legs, blood broken bones; later on he started to treat rheumatism, gouts, chronic constipation, liver and stomach diseases. Priessnitz was happy to travel to his patients in the surrounding villages and to Fryvaldov. This aroused an animosity from the tradi­tional physicians in the area, especially be­cause the 'water doctor'' - that is how peo­ple started to call him - did not want any­thing for his services and still people paid him gladly.

When he built a stone house in Grafenberk, his neighbors made him feel how it is to be envied. He had a smart solution to this: he suggested they could accommodate the patients who he had no space in his house for, and the neighbours soon got the hint. They could easily profit from his activities, and ail was set to right.

The greater difficulties came with the doc­tors who started up a hateful campaign against his 'non-scientific' way of treatment. Fryvaid's doctor Antonin Gunther, the sur­geon Jan Dittrich and Antonin Schonorfeil, a physicist to the prince and bishop, from Javorni'k accused Priessnitz officially. There was not enough evidence against Vincent. Priessnitz was given permission, with many limitations, to run a 'cleaning spa '. His op­ponents accused him again but the judges were cautious because some of his clients were important members of the imperial court. The whole situation was helped by an interest from the Wurttemberg's government that established a sanatorium practicing Priessnitz's methods in their country and re­quested credentials from the Viennese im­perial court. A special committee of physi­cians arrived in Fryvaldov and here they were studying the methods of treatment, talking to patients and local physicians for eight days. The Priessnitz method was declared a new remarkable discovery. On the basis of that he got a permission to officially open a spa re­sort.

In 1846 Priessnitz received a Gold Medal for civil service of the 1st class from the hands of the Emperor Ferdinand V. It was the high­est civic award and no one else in Austrian Silesia had ever received it before him.

It may be said that his personal life was not so successful. His health problems and his commitment to his work took its toll. He would get up daily at four a clock and go to sleep late. Often he would get up in the mid­dle of the night, if the call was urgent. He longed to have a son to teach him his own love for nature and healing and hand him down the developing spa business but his firstborn son Frantisek died only seven months old (1831). His second son was born, in 1847, Vincenz Pavel - but it was too late. In the meantime he turned his dreams to his eldest daughter Zofie (six daughters sur­vived). He wished she would marry one of his physicians, but she fell in love with a pa­tient from Budimir near Kosice, Josef Ujhazy and made her parents consent to the mar­riage. The wedding took place on the 26th of January 1847 and the day after Priessnitz col­lapsed. He never quite recovered from the blow and fought his growing weakness in vain. On 28"' of November 1851, late in the afternoon he got up from his bed and went to the window to look at his beloved moun­tains. He got dizzy and he died soon after... Many great and learned doctors and physi­cians asked what it was that Priessnitz's miraculous cure. But he only put into prac­tice Rousseau's thought of man returning to nature. He led the person from the dark gloomy world into the open space with a blue sky above his head, taught him to re­spect a healthy daily regime, and got rid of distracting influences. He basically returned his patients to a state of joy of life and hope. He respected the individual state of mind and health of any patient. The spring had a nat­ural shower baths close by, and a part of the treatment was work therapy - the patient cut and chopped wood and worked in the fields. He said he was treating a person not the ill­ness.

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