Biodynamic Psychotherapy was conceptualized by Norwegian psychologist and physiotherapist, Gerda Boyesen, and analyst Reichia. It is a based on Wilhelm Reich’s seminal theories, in which he proposed the idea of a motivating life energy found universally in the body and the external environment, referred to it as bioenergy. In healthy individuals bioenergy flows through the body in a pleasurable way and is also connected to a natural feeling of aliveness, emotional and physical well-being, and is far beyond the generally understanding of modern Western society as the experience of ‘normal’ health.
What to expect?
In Biodynamic psychotherapy this is called the neurotic compromise, where a person sacrifices their aliveness and their ‘birthright of pleasure’ for a safe, yet limited and repetitive way of functioning in the world. The cost of this compromise is sometimes quite high for the individual, leading to different kinds of psychosomatic disorders, and emotional unhappiness.
How does it work?
Biodynamic psychotherapy is a humanistic approach in that it has an assumption of basic trust in the existence within the natural drive towards well-being and emotional truthfulness; Provided the right help both physically and emotionally, the alive core begins to ‘impinge from within’ in its own best way, making the client aware of itself and its real needs, and initiating a break down of the neurotic equilibrium of tension and repression.
Various methods can be employed to engage with the primary personality, and to start to free the life force that is trapped in the neurotic compromise: Frequently therapy will follow the form of counselling, in which the client will be encouraged to talk about current or past experiences, the emotions are allowed to come through to expression in the safe situation of the therapy relationship.
As soon as the blocks and defences are melted and relaxed by offering massage and emotionally connected talking, clients begin to become less impermeable, and there occurs a ’ripening’ of the client; This very emotional ‘updrift’ from the core can be insistent and is sometimes painful and harrowing to experience at the beginning. The client might find that he or she needs to ground it in bodily expression, sometimes through crying or beating her fists on a cushion, without even knowing why, before he or she can begin to make mental connections between the emotions and their respective lives.
When is it used?
The biodynamic therapist’s aim is to help the client towards his or her own real potential beyond the neurotic compromise. Gerda Boyesen indicated to this as the ‘primary personality’.
Role of therapist:
The therapist primarily should be very respectful with the unfolding of events, and should establish a balance between ‘supporting and pushing’ the client towards expression sometimes, and ,holding and containing, emotional work at others times. The main pathway to the equilibrium of the client’s process is the pleasure that the client gains in expansion and recuperation of the primary personality, given there is time to work through or ‘digest’ any negative emotions and memories that may be surfacing.
Finally it is important for the biodynamic therapist to be aware about the areas in the therapeutic relationship from where difficulties might arise. Because the relationship includes pleasure and touching in massage and vegetotherapy, and also pleasure anxiety when powerful and deep feelings of connection with id energies occur, there exists a chance of transference and counter-transference feeling, about which the therapist should be clearly aware.
2. Boyesen, G. The Primary Personality. Journal of Biodynamic Psychology, Vol.
3. Maslow, AH. ‘Motivation and Personality. Harper and Row.