Psychoanalysis and body-oriented psychotherapy

In addition to classic psychoanalysis, the object relations theory, self psychology and bonding theory, I have been fascinated by body psychotherapy since a young age.
I discovered Wilhelm Reich at the age of 17, and was immediately fascinated by his work. As a pupil of Sigmund Freud, he opened up completely new opportunities in psychoanalysis and was the first to introduce work with the body into the therapy. Early on, he demonstrated that the classic separation of medicine into psychic and physical illnesses is an artificial separation, that basically any illness is psychosomatic since we are an inseparable functional physical and mental unit.
Numerous successful schools of body therapy influenced by Wilhelm Reich’s work have grown up in the past 50 years. His pupils Alexander Lowen and John Pierrakos founded the bioenergetic analysis, in which I trained. These days, it is hard to imagine an effective psycho-traumatic therapy without including the body, for example. Stress, trauma, depression, anxiety and all emotions go on in our body and in deeper regions of the brain than the neocortex, which is responsible for cognitive thinking – including the neurophysiology of the body and the autonomous nervous system allows them to be treated more efficiently.

In recent years, neurobiology has made many fundamental discoveries which have influenced and altered psychotherapy. Researchers and authors such as Alan Schore, Daniel Siegel, Antonio Damasio, Joachim Bauer, Gerald Hüther to name but a few are some important teachers for me.
All his life, Reich was also engaged in social policy and fought for the practical implementation of knowledge about the healthy and sick functioning of humans. One of his final projects was called «Children of the Future» and its objective was to research conditions under which our children can grow up with as little trauma and as healthily as possible right from the outset. This is also my objective in my work in pre- and perinatal psychology.

Excerpt from a mural of the Buddhist chapel of Lukhang, Lhasa, Tibet. (© photo: Thomas C. Laird)
Excerpt from a mural of the Buddhist chapel of Lukhang, Lhasa, Tibet. (© photo: Thomas C. Laird)