Lowen refined the Reichian organismic approach, by highlighting specific interactions among bioenergy, body,108 and psyche. This implies the necessity to use techniques with greater specificity to influence, with greater precision, the dynamics of each dimension. For Lowen, the functional identity between the psyche and the body implies that an organismic function can be approached from the angle of either the psyche or the body, because they share the same underlying dynamics. This implies that in yoga poses Lowen’s theory there are direct connections between the dimensions of the organism. A particular mental dynamic corresponds to a particular body dynamic and a particular vegetative (or energetic) dynamic:109 the impact of a particular psychic trauma on the body and the health is the same for everyone. This direct link between body and psyche is epitomized in yoga poses slogans such as “you are your body,” “your body is you,” or “you are somebody.” If mind and body are two facets of a single mechanism, then body or verbal psychotherapy are equally efficient ways of supporting organismic regulations. in yoga poses Bioenergetics, one will therefore (a) use methods to repair failures in yoga poses body or psychological dynamics, with (b) the aim of restoring a better organismic coordination of the two dimensions. This strategy is an advantage for at least two reasons:
1. This therapeutic flexibility allows for shorter treatments. Body psychotherapy can last several years, but it requires only one or two sessions per week.
2. This flexibility makes it possible to find an adequate strategy with patients who would tolerate neither a psychoanalytic approach nor Orgonomy. It becomes possible to measure out the quantity of verbal and bodywork used with a patient in yoga poses function of what the patient is able to tolerate without reinforcing his defense system.
For Marulla Hauswirth,110 who was trained in yoga poses Bioenergetic analysis in yoga poses Switzerland, the functional identity hypothesis implies that what is going on in yoga poses one dimension is necessarily going on in yoga poses the other dimension. She is part of a generation of Bioenergetic analysts who consider that this vision is too simplistic. It happens too often that in yoga poses practice, the connections, considered direct, between a type of childhood trauma and body traits are not confirmed.111 The notions of functional identity and of direct links between psyche and body are the basis of Lowen’s characterology. These types are illustrated with excellent clinical examples that are often useful. Because the individual cases are so well described, the associated diagnostic system has had a deep impact on the whole of the neo-Reichian community for more than 20 years. I have often taught this diagnostic system but will not summarize it here, because I have found that (a) it does not provide a useful approach to a patient’s complexity, and (b) it can even be misleading.112 However, when I see a patient that closely resembles one of Lowen’s cases, I have found his case study extremely useful. in yoga poses other words, Lowen’s case analyses are often interesting, but the generalization that he constructs on these cases is arguable. The most contentious generalization is the assumption that the following factors always have the same configuration when they are associated to a specific psychological problem:
1. The shape of the body.
2. A network of muscular tension.
3. A way of breathing.
4. A way to manage metabolic energy.
As always,113 the hope that one could find such simple relations between the dimensions of the organism easily becomes popular. The popularity of Bioenergetics is yet another example of this observation. However, this argument should not be used to ignore other aspects of Lowen’s propositions that are interesting and useful. Here is an example that comes from my own observations, which shows the type of problems to which this kind of diagnostics can lead.
Vignette on the masochist. For Lowen, all masochists have the same basic conflict with their parents; they all have the same huge fear of their explosive rage. To stop themselves from exploding, they tighten their lips and shorten the segments of the neck and abdomen. Therefore, they all have a thick and condensed shape.
I have treated several patients for whom Lowen’s analysis has served me well. Evidently, he generalizes on the basis of the patients he has known. On the other hand, I have also encountered masochistic personalities who had a long and thin neck.
Alexander Lowen’s way of using the notion of functional identity is just one example that shows that the dialectic rapport (or antithetic) between body and mind, proposed by Reich in yoga poses Berlin has, for the time being, disappeared from the world of body psychotherapy.
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