Document Sample
					 Intimacy. Inergy and Inner Relationality
 A fundamental critique of somatic psychotherapy
                                    Peter Wilberg


Not all roads lead to Rome. Not all models of life, the human organism and human
relationships are congruent and capable of being integrated in a grand biological
synthesis. What follows is a critique of the philosophical and scientific foundations of
somatic psychotherapy in its current forms, a critique that I believe is critical to its
further development, to maintaining its philosophical and scientific seriousness and -
last but not least – increasing its social relevance in the current world. The principal
message of my work is that psychotherapists should cease to regard themselves as
treating the symptoms of a disturbed early relation to another human being – an
external relation to a „primary‟ other such as the mother. Instead, they should
recognise that an individual‟s „primary relation‟ is to their own inner being and not to
another human being. Then and only then will they be able to see their client‟s
problems as the individual expression of a general social pathology of human
relations. This general pathology has two sides:

1. an inability of individuals to make intimate inner contact with the inner core of
   their being.
2. an inability to make intimate inner contact with others from the core of their

I am sure that there are many good somatic psychotherapists who are capable of
getting in touch with their own core and thereby helping others to do so (if only in the
context of their sessions and their professional relationships with clients). I must
admit, however, that I have yet to meet a somatic psychotherapist capable making
direct contact with others from their core. Most that I have met, however grounded
they may be in themselves, seem to relate to others outside the context of therapy
from their head and heart rather than from the „inner ground‟ of their being and from
the core that leads into it – from their hara. Thus whilst somatic psychotherapy lends
itself to the cultivation of „deep sensing‟ and deep, organismic resonance with clients,
I am less sure that it lends itself to the cultivation of „deep response‟. By this I mean
the capacity to respond to a client directly from one‟s core rather than with what

“comes up” from it – and to directly re-late or bear back a message to the core of
another human being rather than working with what “comes up” (see Diagram 1).


                                    with what
                                    ‘comes up’
                                    from the

                                    CORE CONTACT

Let me emphasise that by the term „core‟ I do not mean any „centre‟ from which
energy rays out from the self towards other people and the world. And I certainly do
not mean the heart, which is neither the physical nor the spiritual centre of gravity of
the human being – all Christian sentiment notwithstanding. Neither however, do I
mean the hara or abdominal centre, if by this is meant merely one radial centre or
„chakra‟ amongst others, albeit it one that is seen as a centre of strength or an
„energetic core‟.

By „core‟ I mean a centre of awareness that is precisely no centre, an „inner ground‟
that is in essence bottomless abyss (Abgrund) – for it opens into a sphere of
unbounded interiority. It is through our own unbounded interiority that we are
inwardly linked to other beings in a continuum of being.

The Four Life Paradigms

What I believe somatic psychotherapy essentially lacks – not alone but together with
psychoanalysis, science and global capitalist culture as such – is any concept of inner
relationality. This it cannot develop, as long as it accepts the standard scientific model
of the human being as a localised centre of awareness bounded by the physical body
and surrounded by an unbounded field of extensional space.

This is also the basis of Reich‟s pictorial model of the human organism: a circle with
a finite radius and a centre, nucleus or „core‟. A centre from which energy can only
lead out. A centre from which no breakthrough can be made into another type of
space: an unbounded space of inner relationality, which I call intensional space.
Reich defined „life‟ as essentially a movement outwards from an energetic core to an
organismic periphery. A definition that Alexander Lowen turned into the basic axiom
of „bioenergetics‟, though at the same time he did openly acknowledge the inherently
Western, not to say, American, bias of this life paradigm and the values it embodies:

values that encourage the individual to „reach out‟ from a bounded centre or core
towards unlimited „expansion‟ and „growth‟.

The paradigm is modified by the understanding that life also involves a pulsatory
polarity of outward and inward movements, of expansion and contraction, contact and
withdrawal, „outstroke‟ and „instroke‟. In order to straightaway offer the reader a
framework for understanding what is wrong with this modified model it is helpful to
see it as one of four basic life paradigms.


             The Second (ancient Vedic) Paradigm
                Life is an inward movement of awareness from world to

             The Second (modern Western) Life Paradigm
               Life is an outward movement of energy from self to world.

        The Third Life Paradigm (found in both Western and
        Eastern cultures)
          Life is a pulsatory cycle or rhythm of outward and inward
          of energy and awareness.

             The Fourth (mystical) Paradigm
               Life is an inward movement from self to world. The inward
               movement of awareness from world to self is the condition
The fourth paradigm is a mystical paradigm, suggesting that inward movement from
              is not to be understood merely as regressive other into oneself, but as
world to self a deep inner relatedness to theaworld and retreat people.
a movements that leads into deeper levels of relatedness to the world and other
people. It is not the contraction of an organismic periphery or the withdrawal of
energy to a core. It is an inward movement of awareness and not of energy, an inward
movement of awareness that reaches into and through one‟s own core. This inward
movement of awareness, far from being a withdrawal of energy to a core is the very
condition for the outward release of energy from that core.

Energy and Awareness

Energy is what relates things externally in extensional space – linking them as bodies
in space and time. But awareness is intrinsically an awareness of ourselves in relation
to something or someone other than self. In opposition to bioenergetics and what has
come to be known as „energy medicine‟ in general I put forward the hypothesis that
awareness is the very inwardness of energy – the medium of inner relatedness
between things and people. What I call „inergy‟ consists of patterned flows and
figurations of awareness. Organisms are not living „things‟ that we are aware of. They
are themselves organizing patterns or figurations of awareness – Awareness Gestalts.
The cell is not a thing „with‟ awareness‟. It is itself a figuration of cellular awareness
– not our awareness of cellular activity but the essentially figurations and flows of
awareness that constitute that activity. The human organism too, is not essentially an
„energetic body‟ – a body composed of energy whose patterns and flows we can be

more or less aware of. It is essentially a body of awareness, composed of those flows
of awareness that constitute what I call inergy.

To talk of a person‟s bodily „energy‟ seems to imbue it with more tangible „objective‟
reality than the mere „subjective‟ awareness we have of it. At the same time however,
it is an evasion of the basic question of what is more real or fundamental – measurable
properties of bodies or qualities of awareness as such. When we are aware of a
person‟s warmth as a human being or perceive the radiance of their gaze we are not
speaking of any physical heat or light energy emanated by their bodies. What we are
aware of is no „thing‟ at all – even a thing we like to call „energy‟. It is a quality of the
other person‟s own awareness of the world – their felt inner relation to it. That is why
it is not energy that relates things and people inwardly. It is aware inner relatedness
that energises. Energy is the outward expression of inner relatedness – of inergy. All
measurable outer energies are the expression of inergy, of qualities and movements of
awareness linking both things and people. Conversely, there is not a single form of
energy, whether light , heat or electrical charge, that does not have its own inergetic

The distinction between movements of energy and movements of awareness and their
dynamic relation - inergy – is one that somatic psychotherapy, with its continuing
attachment to the principles of bioenergetics and biodynamic, has yet to grasp even in
principle. What I term organismic as opposed to orgonomic physiology, bio-inergetics
rather than bio-energetics, is the science of these dynamics, based the understanding
that the human organism is not the physical body nor an energy body but a body of
awareness. What follows is an entirely new set of dynamic laws relating flows of
energy in the body to flows of awareness in the organism, and in particular the
principle that inward movements of awareness from periphery to the core release an
outward movement of energy from the core to periphery.

Bio-energetic or bio-inergetics

Reichian orgonomics and bio-energetics are based on the idea that character is a form
of pathology based on chronic muscular restriction of the outward movement of
biological energy from core to periphery, embodied in muscular armouring.
Understood organismically, muscular restriction of biological energy moving from
core to periphery is a substitute for true strength and depth of character. Strength and
depth of character is not muscular character rigidity but the discipline necessary to
mentally restrain an outward movement of awareness. Only through this mental
restraint can awareness be turned inward from one‟s entire organismic periphery and
concentrate at one‟s core. It is when the concentration of awareness breaks through
the core (as if through a black hole) and into the unbounded interiority of intensional
space that fresh energy is released from the core (as if from a white hole), energy
which then impels and fuels outward movements towards the world

The inward movement of awareness from periphery to core is the essence of
depressive process. Only if this fundamentally healthy movement inward is halted
before it reaches down into and through the individual‟s core, do depressive states
result. States of withdrawal are not failures to reach out and make contact with other
people and the world but the result of a mental failure to actively encourage and
deepen the depressive process - go deeper inside oneself and make deeper inner

contact with oneself and others of the sort that will then automatically release a new
outward movement of awareness and energy, that will release e-motion. Reich
understood fear physiologically, as a dominance of the sympathetic nervous system
leading to a circulatory withdrawal of energy from periphery to core, I understand fear
and anxiety phenomenologically as a highly charged awareness that is stuck on the
organism‟s periphery, fearfully oriented towards the world, or entirely lost in it and
cut off in a schizoid manner from the core of the self.

Reich opposed fear to love, identifying the latter with a pleasurable outward
streaming of energy from core to periphery, energy that is then released in orgasmic
discharge. From a bio-inergetic perspective, this is a confusion of love with sexuality
and aggression. The latter are both based on simultaneous outward movements of
energy and awareness. But love itself is an inward movement of awareness, and the
felt inner relation to another human being that comes when awareness breaks into the
intensional field linking us inwardly with other beings. It is this inward movement
that releases the flush of outward moving energy that is biologically released in sexual

Reich‟s error began with Freud, who also identified the human organism with the
human body, and therefore identified human relationality as such with sexual
relatedness – with Eros. And despite all talk of the „trans-personal‟, somatic
psychotherapy still follows in the footsteps of biological medicine in seeking an
individual biological basis for human unhappiness and relational dis-ease – for
example through looking for clues in embryology and intra-uterine life. Understood
bio-inergetically, the organism is not shaped in the womb. It is the womb that we
never leave, a matrix or organizing figurations and flows of awareness from which we
constantly give birth to our own bodies.

Following Freud, with his concept of opposing life and death instincts, of Eros and
Thanatos, Reich himself was led to the idea of a life-negative as well as a life-positive
energy. A true biology or science of life does indeed requires a true thanatology or
science of death – but this is ruled out in advance by treating life and death, Eros and
Thanatos, as opposing drives or energies. Understood organismically, thanatological
or death processes are an intrinsic part of life. They include not only the process of
aging but everyday processes such tiring or going to sleep. The chief characteristic of
these natural thanatological processes is that they involve a simultaneous inward
movement of energy and awareness, leading them back into the inergetic fields and
inner dimensions of awareness, which are their source.


         Energy is the medium of outer relationality.
         Awareness is the medium of inner relationality.
         Energy is the outwardness of awareness
         Awareness is the inwardness of energy or ‘inergy’.
         Inergetic movements are movements of awareness.
         The outward movement of energy is the condition of outer contact with the
         The inward movement of awareness is the condition for inner contact with
          the world.
         Inward movements of awareness from periphery to core release outward
          movements of energy from core to periphery.
                                                                            5
          If awareness loses itself in outward movement of energy, its own inward
          movement is blocked, resulting in a depletion or inward withdrawal of
The False Heritage of ‘Functionalism”

The essence of biology can never be grounded in biology as a science.
We cannot say that the organ has capacities but must say that the capacity has
organs. Martin Heidegger

In its implicit continuation of the search for a biological basis for human unhappiness,
somatic psychotherapy is still heavily influenced by Reichian functionalism - the
belief, shared with biological medicine, that human capacities, not least relational
capacities, are the expression of biological or organic functions. It is the other way
round. A pen has functions – it serves as an instrument of writing. But it lacks any
capacity to write. Neither has the eye any capacity to see or the ear to hear, however
much it functions as an organ of seeing or hearing. As Heidegger put it “We hear, not
the ear”. Likewise we see, not the eye. The human organism is not a collection of
organs and organic functions, but the unity of our own capacities as beings, capacities,
which are themselves embodied in organs and organic functions.

These capacities are our capacity to engage in particular movements of awareness.
Our capacity to breathe, for example, is not a result of having lungs whose function it
is to draw in air and help us to draw oxygen from it. Rather the opposite: respiratory
functioning, seen as so important in Reichian theory, is the embodiment of our
capacity to draw or „breathe‟ our own uniquely coloured and toned awareness of self
and world, absorb inner meaning from it, and in turn let our awareness of self and
other flow out and communicate through a meaningful comportment towards the
world and other people. We can practice bionergetic or Yogic breathing exercises for
years without this having any effect on our essential breathing – the in-breath and out-
breath of awareness. Yet we cannot take in a „breathtaking‟ landscape or feel „in-
spired‟ by a mental vision without this automatically bodying itself in our physical
breathing, deepening our bodily re-spiration. Breathing as a bodily function is the
embodiment of an organismic breath cycle, the in-breath and out-breath of awareness,
which constitutes our spiritedness as beings and is the basis of essential respiration.

Similarly, digestive and metabolic functions are not the basis but the embodiment of a
truly psychoperistaltic process, the digestion and metabolism, within our organism or
our body of awareness, of our lived experience of the world. This process begins with
mental „chewing over‟ but does not end until we have a gut feeling of what things
mean to us inwardly. As for the „mind‟ itself, this is not a disembodied part of the
psyche but the very musculature of the human organism as a body of awareness. With
it we can facilitate different movements of awareness or restrict them, encourage them
or block them.

Only with the help of the mind can we turn suffering from a passive experience of
psychological or physiological „processes‟ occurring within us into responsible
activity – the activity of intentionally encouraging and completing those processes by
turning them into true psychodynamics: active movements or dynamics of awareness.

Psychodynamics and Biodynamics

The term „psychodynamic‟ is now commonly used to refer to forms of psychotherapy
based on psychoanalytic theory. But its essential meaning has yet to be grasped. That
has nothing to do with the dynamic relation between various contents of the psyche –
with things we are aware of such as thoughts and feelings, sensations and perceptions,
dreams and mental images. It has to do with basic movements of dynamics of
awareness as such. It is through these movements of awareness, that the organism, as
our dynamic body of awareness, translate ontodynamics into biodynamics, what
moves us as beings of movements of and within our own bodies. Movement as such is
not essentially bodily movement in extensional, physical space. Bodily movements
are the embodiment of inner movements of awareness. The organism is the body with
which we translate our movedness as beings – what moves us inwardly – into inner
movements of awareness. For example moving closer to or distancing ourselves from
another person inwardly. The organism is the body with which we relate directly to
other people as beings – the body of inner relationality. Through it we feel their
inergetic qualities – their inner warmth or coolness, closeness or distance, luminosity
or darkness, levity or gravitas. Warming and cooling to someone, moving closer to or
further from them, making contact with and touching them, holding them in our
awareness or letting go of them, sounding out or being in resonance with someone,
are all movements of awareness involving different inergetic qualities of awareness –
qualities such as inner warmth, inner light and inner sound or resonance.

Movements such as „grounding‟ and „centering‟, which are given great significance in
„bodywork‟, are not essentially bodily movements at all. No physical exercises can
„ground‟ a person in their own being, nor is the disciplined practice of centred bodily
movement (as for example in Tai Chi) any guarantee that an individual can relate to
other human beings from and through their own core. Just as we can look into a
person‟s eyes without meeting their gaze - without encountering the other as a being,
we can touch and feel someone‟s body in a highly sensitive way, aware of its warmth
or coolness, its energetic aura, its muscle tone and texture, without in any way sensing
their organism as such – the felt tones, textures and intensities of awareness that find
embodiment in an individual‟s skin and muscle tone, cell and organ tone. The
distinction between „psychodynamic‟ and „biodynamic‟ models of the human being is
an entirely false one. The human organism, as a body of awareness consists of
psychodynamics and nothing else. What both „psychodynamic‟ and „biodynamic
„approaches to psychotherapy have failed to grasp is that psychodynamics -
movements of awareness - are themselves bio-inergetic movements and as such are
the basis of bioenergetic and biodynamic processes. Organismic awareness is not felt
sensation or felt „energy‟ but a felt sense of these basic inergetic movements of
awareness itself, examples of which are given below.

None of the description of the „inergetic‟ movements should in any way be considered
merely as energetic „metaphors‟ for psychodynamic movements of awareness. To do
so would be to imply, for example, that „warming‟ to another human being is a less
„real‟ example of warmth than being warmed by a person‟s body, That the inergetic
warmth, the soul warmth we sense emanating from a human being, is less rather than
more real than energetic warmth - the measurable temperature of their body.


Presencing and absencing - being fully ‘there’ and fully present (Da-sein) or
absent and elsewhere; inwardly nearing or distancing oneself from someone or
something; withdrawing awareness to a periphery or moving into oneself from a
periphery; letting awareness ray out from a centre towards a periphery or
concentrating and gathering awareness at a centre from a periphery, firming or
dissolving a mental boundary of awareness, expanding or contracting a field of

Becoming heavier and sinking into oneself or feeling a lighter and less dense
quality to one’s awareness; adjusting the balance of gravitas and levity, feeling
the gravitational pull of one’s own inner ground or allowing awareness to float

Warming or cooling to someone or something, psychically hotting up or cooling
down, glowing with inner warmth or seeking that warmth.

Lightening or ‘brightening up’ or being in dark mood; being aware of oneself and
others in a particular light. Turning the light of awareness inward or radiating it

Exerting ‘magnetism’ or feeling one’s awareness charged with tension.

Attuning to oneself and others, being in tune or out of tune with oneself or
others, resonance and dissonance, being in ‘sound’ health (Ge-sund-heit)
inwardly sounding others out.
From emotional somatology to a somatology of mood

Emotions are outward impulses or movements of energy expressed in physiological
activity and physical movements. But these in turn are the expression of movements
of awareness, which do not occur in the body or take place in extensional space.
These are inergetic movement from one qualitative tone, texture and intensity of
awareness to another. Inergy does not consist of indistinguishable „quanta‟ of energy
but of these qualia, which take up no extensional space but constitute the very fabric
of intensional space. Inergetic fields are specific ranges of these tonal intensities of
awareness – „feeling tones‟ in short. What I call the „self-field‟ is a specific range of
feeling tones - not intrinsically limited, but bounded only by the individual's capacity
to resonate with tones outside this range. In fact, however, each person tends to attune
only to a small part of their own self-field, capable of resonating only with a limited

range of their own feeling tones. On the other hand they can expand their
attunement to their own self-field through resonance with the feeling tones of others.

People experience feeling tones that make up their self-field as different mental-
emotional and somatic states – as different „moods‟. But perhaps the most critical
defect of psychological, psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic discourse in general, is
the failure to distinguish emotions and emotional energy from mood or feeling tone.
Moods, as Heidegger pointed out, are not anything we experience „in‟ ourselves or
„in‟ the world. They are basic tones, textures and intensities of awareness, which
permeate our overall experience of ourselves and the world, lending it a specific
colouration. Our bodily self-awareness is always coloured and tuned by a specific or
feeling tone. Such feeling tones however, are never reducible to a specific sensation,
emotions or thoughts. Instead the latter are our own cognitive, emotional and somatic
interpretations of the underlying moods or feeling tones that make up our self-field.

A problem shared by both clients and therapists, patients and psychiatrists alike
however, is the failure to distinguish between moods or feeling tones on the one hand
– the basic colouration or tones of awareness that constitute a person‟s self-field - and
the way the latter are psychically and somatically experienced. The very term 'mood'
is employed in an ambiguous and faulty way, being used both to describe an
underlying feeling tone and the mental, emotional or somatic states through which
this is experienced. Once again, however, it must be emphasised that what makes a
mood a mood is nothing that we can experience or express but that which lends our
self-experience and self-expression a specific 'tenor' – colouring it like a pair of
colour-tinted spectacles with which we both look into ourselves and out at the world

If a person has flu for example, the whole tone and texture of their bodily self-
experience is qualitatively altered. They exist in an altered field-state. What they will
tend to focus on however, is not that organismic field-state as such but specific
psychical or physical phenomena that they experience within that field – for example
a sore throat, annoyance at being ill, worries about being able to get work done,
feelings of tiredness etc. Like the experience of illness, people's experience of moods
tends to be entirely passive. They find themselves in a mood that gives rise to
pleasurable thoughts, emotions and sensations or alternatively they 'suffer' that mood,
experiencing it passively as a state of depression or despair, agitation or boredom,
excitement or lethargy. This, despite the fact that the specific tone colour and intensity
each person's „agitation‟ or „depression‟, „joy‟ or „pleasure‟ etc. is as distinctive as the
way different composers express such moods in their music.

Understanding moods as basic feeling tones makes it questionable to speak, as clinical
psychologists and psychiatrists do, of 'mood disorders'. For the only true mood
disorder is the inability to comprehend moods as moods - to attune to the basic tones
and chords of feeling (however harmonious or dissonant), which constitute a given
mood rather than interpreting or experiencing its as mental, emotional or somatic
state. There is no such as a 'mood disorder' - only a lack of attunement to moods and
a capacity to let them resonate within us.

If someone complains of 'black moods' of rage or deep depression, for example, what
they are most often referring to is not a mood but the thoughts, emotions and impulses
which a particular mood gives rise to in them and through which they

passively experience or 'suffer' it. If they then get violent or kill themselves this is a
way of giving active expression to a fundamentally passive experience of a
particular mood or feeling tone. What this person lacks is not a chemical to alter their
passively experienced mood from black to some other colour but the ability to
actively attune to the underlying feeling tone of their 'black' thoughts, emotions and
impulses, and to resonate with them. Put in other terms what they lack in their passive
experience of a 'black mood' is precisely the ability to actively blacken their mood or
tone-colouration of their self-experience. Here I am not talking of simply encouraging
people, as Arnold Mindell does, to actively amplify negative mental, emotional or
somatic states as such. This is helpful only in so far as it helps people to attune to and
then actively amplify the basic colouration or tone of feeling underlying these states.
Only in this way can they come to accept them as self-states or selves - parts of their
self-field with which they were previously afraid of or uncomfortable with.

From emotional empathy to organismic resonance

Comparing moods with colours let us say that an individual has a certain range of
moods which we can describe as intense red, blue, dull grey, black, murky brown,
radiant yellow, soft pink etc. Alternatively we could give them labels such as „anger‟,
„sadness‟, „despair‟, „depression‟, „joy‟, „warmth‟ and „softness‟ etc. Let us say that
they are familiar and comfortable with certain of these moods and less at-ease with
others, which occasion a definite dis-ease. Or that they are conscious of a conflict
between the way they experience and express themselves in one mood as against
another. Or that certain of these moods are experienced as bringing them into conflict
with the moods of others.

A therapist can focus on the patient‟s mental, emotional, somatic, social and even
spiritual experience of a mood or moods, and/or on their bodily or behavioural
expression. Alternatively, the practitioner can seek to resonate with them as moods in
the primordial sense - attuning to the specific feeling tone of this particular client's
disordered thought or language, this client's depression or despair, rage or agitation,
aggressive behaviour, this client's inner voices etc. Neither clinical detachment nor
emotional empathy are the same thing as this organismic and essentially musical
resonance. Only through this resonance however, can a therapist:

(1) get a feel of the client's self-field, of the different qualities, tones and intensities
    of awareness they emanate at different times
(2) get a sense of those qualities, tones and intensities of awareness which they are
    ill-at-ease with and which they experience and express in a negative way, and
(3) help them through resonance to resonate with these unfamiliar feeling tones rather
    than passively suffering them as mental, emotional or somatic states.

All this is quite different from 'emotional empathy' - reading the body, registering
that a client is suffering emotionally in a certain way, working to identify the
emotions involves, identifying or „empathising‟ in a bodily way with these emotions
and encouraging the client to feel and express them. Nor does it make any difference
whether such empathy is experienced in a deep somatic way and described as
„somatic resonance‟. Once again, to be aware that someone is in pain does not mean
that we feel the specific quality or tonality of this pain. Similarly, to be aware of a
feeling or emotion, whether in another person or in oneself, is not the same thing as

attuning to its specific quality or feeling tone. Someone can see that another person is
sad and genuinely empathise with their sadness without attuning to its specific
qualitative, tone and intensity – without attuning to their sadness.

The distinction between „feelings‟ and „emotions‟ on the one hand, and feeling tones
on the other is crucial to understanding the difference between emotional empathy and
organismic resonance. In previous writings I have defined the human organism as the
musical instrument or organon with which we give form to feeling tones, embodying
them in cell and muscle tone, the tone of our voice and of our language, of our gaze
and of our facial expression or look. Organismic resonance means letting the specific
tone, texture and intensity of any mental, emotional or somatic state resonate within
us and thereby permeate and colour our self-awareness. Only in this way does it cease
to be something we are aware of and instead lead us into a newly toned and coloured
awareness of ourselves. Only in this way can mental, emotional and somatic states be
experienced and understood as the mental, emotional and somatic expression of
organismic states – of self-states.

From Somatic Psychotherapy to Organismic Healing

Every person, as they experience themselves in everyday life, inhabits only a limited
portion of their own inergetic field – the larger range of tones and intensities that
constitutes what I call the self-field. When we are ill or simply ill-at-ease, we do not
„feel ourselves‟. That is not because we are victims of a bodily disease caused by
foreign bodies of one sort or another but because our dis-ease is a transition to a new
and hitherto foreign experience of ourselves, a transition from one self-state to
another. The organismic healing process is not simply one of getting back to normal
and „feeling ourselves‟ again, but of allowing ourselves to pass from not feeling
ourselves to feeling ourselves in a different way – feeling another self . By this I do
not mean a „sub-personality‟ we identify somewhere inside ourselves – a „part‟ of
ourselves that we feel. I mean instead a new mood, tone or quality of awareness that
transforms our overall or „holistic‟ experience of ourselves and the world. Giving
mental, emotional and bodily expression to this new basic mood or feeling tone is an
important part of the healing process, but only if the starting point of self-expression
is not the mental, emotional or physical state that disturbs us in the first place but our
attunement to the basic mood or feeling tone underlying it. For only then can we find
a mode of „self-expression‟ that gives form to a new sense of self in resonance with
this mood or feeling tone – rather than experiencing it as a mental, emotional or
somatic disruption of our familiar sense of self. Organismic healing is „self-healing‟
in a more essential sense that this phrase is ordinarily understood – not something „I‟
do to alter and transform a psychosomatic state, but the converse: letting that state
alter and transform my very sense of this “I”.

Organismic healing is distinct in principle from any approach to medicine or
psychosomatics, which identifies the human organism with the human body, which
seeks a biological basis for disease in genes or intra-uterine experience. For
organismic medicine understands the human organism and not the uterus itself as the
primordial womb within which we dwell before birth and in which we continue to
dwell after birth. This womb is not part of the material body but is the very mother
body (Mutterleib) from which we constantly give birth to ourselves - translating
inergy into energy, patterns of awareness into motor and mental patterns, feeling tones

into cell and muscle tone, movements of awareness into bodily movements. It is dis-
ease understood as a form of organismic pregnancy allowing us to give birth to a new
sense of self. It is healing understood as a form of midwifery or maieusis - allowing
one to give birth to a newly toned sense of self, a newly toned bearing towards the

What role can the therapist play as midwife to this organismic healing process? By
organismic healing I understand a form of therapy based on the therapist‟s own
organismic awareness – the use of their own organism or inner body to receive and
respond directly to the organism of the client. This is a quite different matter to
„working on‟ or „with‟ the client‟s mental, emotional or somatic states, and the
„issues‟ associated with them. But once again I am calling attention to a major
paradigm shift, this time in our understanding of the therapeutic relationship and of
what has hitherto been called „somatic resonance‟ or „vegetative identification‟. Just
as there is an essential difference between inergy and energy, between the organism
and the physical body, between feeling tone and emotions, organismic resonance and
emotional empathy, so there is also an essential difference between, on the one hand,
things that a therapist or client is aware of – that „come up‟ in the course of therapy –
and, on the other hand, basic qualities, tones and movements of awareness as such.

A somatic psychotherapist may become aware of a particular posture or stance, look
or facial expression, word or tone of voice that they feel is significant – indicative of a
mental, emotional or somatic state. Resonant organismic contact and communication
with the client is possible only if they (1) attune to the specific tonality of this bodily
or verbal sign (2) let this tone resonate within their own organism (3) inwardly „read‟
this resonance and (4) respond to it inwardly with their own organism before (or
instead of) responding to it outwardly through some form of therapeutic intervention
or interpretation. To do so requires an unusual capacity to modulate the tone of their
own organism, using it as a musical instrument or „organon‟ (the root meaning of
„organism‟) to respond to the music being played to them by the client. It is one thing
to hear someone strike a chord on an instrument, feel its resonance and respond by
interpreting its emotional meaning or helping the player to do so. It is quite another
thing, to respond with a chord of one‟s own. The fact that music therapy is one of the
least developed and most marginalized of all forms of therapy, has, I believe, a deep
significance. Its significance lies in the fact that music – tonality - belongs to the very
essence of the human organism, and is the basis of all human communication. A
resonant therapeutic response to a communication from a client is above all a tuned
and toned response, one that not only echoes the feeling tone of the communication
but bears back or „re-lates‟ a modulated tone..

Here we need to first of all abandon the notion that the use of the term „resonance‟ in
connection with therapy is in any way a „metaphor‟ borrowed from physical science.
The fact that vibrations are set off in the ear and in the body as a whole by sound
waves coming from a loudspeaker says nothing about a person‟s resonance with the
music being played. It may be an example of resonance in the physical sense but tells
us nothing about resonance in the essential sense – as an inner relation of beings
rather than an external relation of bodies. In this essential sense one tuning fork can
no more be said to „resonate‟ with another than a chair can be said to „touch‟ the
ground on which it stands. Resonant contact and communication with another human
being is a form of inner vibrational touch - not merely a form of deep receptivity to

another human being but of active inner response to that being, one in which what
sounds forth from our own being modifies and modulates the subtle harmonics of the
feeling tone we let resonate within us.

The condition for such a modulated tonal response is the therapists contact with their
own „inner ground‟, a contact that rests in turn on a listening attunement to their own
fundamental tone (Grundton). This fundamental tone is comparable to a grand chord
combing and supporting all the qualitatively toned intensities of awareness that
compose their own inergetic field. As such it offers infinite potentials for resonant
attunement to the feeling tones of others, for these feeling tones are essentially
wavelengths of resonant attunement linking us to others through the inergetic field of
our own organism. But just as verbal communication rides on modulations of vocal
tone, so also is there a type of wordless communication that rides on modulations of
feeling tones. This has nothing to do with what is ordinarily understood as „non-
verbal‟ communication. Indeed, the very term is meaningless – for what words
themselves communicate is in itself nothing essentially verbal but has to do with their
wordless resonances and the wordless inner communication that takes place through

It must be emphasised, therefore that in speaking of tones and tonality I am referring
essentially to organismic feeling tones – to the resonances or tones of silence that are
communicated through a person‟s words and through their tone of voice, through their
muscle tonus and through the tone of their gestures and of their gaze. Hearing these
tones of silence demands a type of listening which is the very opposite of whole-
hearted attention to others and heart-felt empathy with them. This is a listening that in
itself constitutes the inward concentration of awareness from our own organismic
periphery towards our organism centre - a still-point of silence in the hara. Going into
this still point of silence open up our hearing to a world of inner sound – to the inner
resonances and tones of silence that ring out from the client‟s own organism. Only
then can we begin to read these resonances, a process that can take anything from
minutes to days or weeks. To read resonances however, it is essential that we allow
them to linger within us, sustaining them long past the point at which they were first
conveyed to us though sensory impressions of a clients words or body language. For
this the capacity for active inner recollection of sensory impressions is vital. Letting a
person‟s words continue to echo and resonate within us long after they have been
uttered, and recalling the tone of their looks and facial expressions long after they
have changed, are two crucial elements of this recollective activity.


 a body of awareness - the body with which we breath in, digest and
 metabolise awareness allowing it to circulate within us and drawing meaning
 from it.
 an inergetic body - composed of qualitative tones and textures, intensities
 and streamings of awareness.
 a dynamic body - translating basic inergetic motions of awareness
 (psychodynamics) into energy, e-motions and biodynamic motions.
 a womb or ‘mother body’ (Mutterleib) – filled with the fluid medium of toned
 awareness and made up of organizing patterns of awareness which in-form
 the physical body
 a musical body or organon - the body with which we give patterned form to
 the fluid medium of toned awareness or feeling tone, embodying it in cell and
 muscle tone.
 a psychosomatic body - the dynamic interface between the bounded 13
 extensional space of the physical body and the unbounded interiority or
 intensional space of the psyche.
Therapy and Thinking

Sylvia Specht Boadella has spoken of the Deep Sensing and Deep Resonance that lie
at the heart of somatic psychotherapy. She has also alluded to something she describes
as Doubled Presence, and which I would understand as an awareness of the basic
twofoldness of the human being - the fundamental or primary relation between our
outer being or Surface Self (Ego and Persona) and our inner being or Deep Self - a
self from which I believe we can make direct contact with the inner being of others.
To the language of Deep Sensing and Deep Resonance I would therefore also add the
term „Deep Response‟, and emphasise also the importance of Deep Reading - our
capacity to stay with and sustain a felt resonance with a client long enough for it to
bring something new and previously unheard into view.

“Our thinking should now bring into view what has already been heard in the
intonation. In doing so it brings into view what was un-heard of before. Thinking is a
listening (Erhören) that brings something to view. Therefore in thinking both ordinary
hearing and seeing pass away for us, for thinking brings about in us a listening and a
bringing-into-view.” Martin Heidegger

Deep Sensing, Deep Resonance, Deep Reading and Deep Response are all aspects of
what Heidegger understood as deep or meditative thinking. Another, and perhaps
even more important way of understanding the general pathology of human relations
in contemporary culture that I referred to at the beginning of this article is to describe
it as Heidegger did – as a flight from thinking. And another way of understanding my
own critique of somatic psychotherapy is that it fails to recognise that thinking itself –
Deep Thinking - is what is most central to therapy. Why? Because thinking has
essentially nothing whatsoever to with the 'head' or 'intellect'. Instead it is a practice of
concentrated inward listening – a mindful attunement to felt bodily sense and
'resonance' that leads us into an awareness of our inner body of awareness – the
human organism.

An organismic understanding of thinking itself allows us to appreciate why it is that a
single deep thought, far from being a mere intellectual or philosophical 'concept',
can potentially express a more profound depth of feeling - and be more profoundly
moving and transforming - than any emotion, action or therapeutic intervention.
Conversely, the flight from thinking manifests itself primarily as an inability to listen
in such a way as to feel thoughts themselves – to sense and resonate with their deeper
meaning or significance. In somatic psychotherapy, the flight from thinking takes the
form of a flight from felt bodily sense or meaning, from our movedness as beings,
into felt bodily sensations, motions and e-motions. This flight from deeply felt
thinking can comfortably hand in hand with the shallowest and most abstract type of
intellectual or scientific theorising about feelings, about the body and the like.

Organismic Thinking and Organismic Medicine

To think the true nature of the human organism more deeply, to research its depth and
physiology and develop a deep organismic medicine requires first and foremost a new
and deeper way of thinking – an organismic thinking rooted in our own organism

itself. Organismic thinking is the articulation of the researcher‟s felt sense and
resonance with the patterned inergetic tones, intensities, movements and directions of
awareness that constitute the human organism itself. This leads us to a new inner
understanding of primary organic functions such as sensation respiration, circulation
and metabolism as the embodiment of active organismic capacities – the capacity to
breath in and metabolise sensory experience. Gone is the bioenergetic notion of
bodily life as interplay of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity. In its place is the
understanding that autonomic activity is the activity of an autonomous self – the inner
being that dwells in the womb of our own organism. This autonomic or organismic
self we cannot consciously experience in waking life. Nor is it the self we dream
ourselves to be, It is the self that dreams us – as it also bodies who we are, being the
self that breathes and metabolises our waking self-experience, not only in dreams but
continuously. Bodying and dreaming are the two principal activities of this
autonomous inner self, exercised through the instrument of the human organism. All
disruptions of organic functioning are disruptions of inner contact and communication
between the ego and outer self on the one hand, and this autonomous, organismic self
or „inner ego‟ on the other. The latter is not an „unconscious‟ but a supraconscious
self. It is only the ego that may be more or less unconscious of its very existence.

This understanding of the self and of the human organism was anticipated not by
Freud or Reich, nor even by Jung, but by Nietzsche:

“Behind your thoughts and feelings, my brother, there stands a mighty ruler, an
unknown sage - whose name is Self. In your body he dwells. The senses and the mind
would persuade you that they are the end of all things. That is how vain they are.
Instruments and toys are the senses and the mind - behind them still lies the Self. The
self also seeks with the eyes of the senses; it also listens with the ears of the mind.”

As for the development of a new organismic medicine, this is something with historic
spiritual dimensions far transcending the contemporary conflict of different models
and methods of somatic psychotherapy or „alternative medicine‟. For as Nietzsche
suggested: “…perhaps the entire evolution of the spirit is a question of the body; it is
the history of the emergence of a higher body that emerges into our sensibility.”
He adds: ”Through the long succession of millennia, man has not known himself
physiologically; he does not know himself even today,”

The organism as a „higher‟ or „inner‟ body is, paradoxically, no body at all in the
ordinary sense – it possesses no measurable physical extension, nor even a spatially
extended energetic aura. It is not a body „in‟ space at all. Rather it occupies a
transitional space between ordinary extensional space and an inverse or intensional
space, The inwardness of the organism is not a spatial inwardness but comparable to
the felt inwardness of the word – a space of meaningful intensities and resonances.
The organism is a dynamic „mental‟ surface or boundary between the bounded
extensional space occupied by the physical body and the unbounded interiority of the
intensional space of the psyche. It is through the unbounded psychic interiority of the
organism that we are linked inergetically or „etherically‟ to the inwardness of both
things and people. Paradoxically however, far from being surrounded by physical
space, the inner or intensional space of the organism actually surrounds and envelops
what appears as physical space. What we perceive as the extensional space or
energetic fields around our bodies open up within the surrounding intensional space

and inergetic field of the psyche (see Diagram 2 for an extensional representation of
this relation).

This understanding of the unbounded psychic and inergetic interiority of the organism
is the reason why Nietzsche‟s guiding words are the motto of organismic research and
medicine: “We should study the organism in all its immortality.” But this is “study” in
in the deep sense, demanding patient and profound phenomenological research, the
greatest philosophical precision and the sharpest critical acuity.

                                                                   Diagram 2
                                                                   A representation of the
                   Extensional Space                               unbounded interiority
                                                                   or intensional space of
                                                                   the organism, showing
                                                                   how it envelops its
                                                                   ‘outer’ field of
                                                                   extensional space.

                 Intensional Space
Organismic and Organisational Health

Just as the health of the individual cannot be separated from the health of human
relations, so can the health of the individual human organism not be separated from
the relational health of social organisations, the workplace in particular. A secretary
who feels bullied or demeaned by her boss, no less than a child who is dominated by
its parents, may develop symptoms – an angry skin rash for example - as a substitute
for support in resisting pathological patterns of relating in organisations. Neither her
physician nor even a body-oriented psychotherapist, however, may ask the questions
necessary to understand the fleshly organismic text of her symptoms in their
organisational context. Doing so would shift the focus of therapy from the individual
to power relations in society. And whilst a therapist may uncover the buried pain of
an adult whose childhood was dominated by a depressed parent, they may be less
willing to recognise the invisible powers that played a role in that parent‟s depression
– for example the anonymous boardroom in another continent whose downsizing
plans led to his redundancy. Just as the word „emotion‟ has become an obstacle to a
deep psychology of mood or organismic feeling, so has the word „energy‟ become an
obstacle to a deep psychology of power in social organisations.

The potential depth and richness of the therapeutic relationship is itself a challenge to
the superficiality of human relations promoted and sustained by capitalist culture. All
the more important then, that this depth and richness is not kept within the confines of
the therapeutic relationship. The very professionalisation and institutionalization of
somatic psychotherapy, like that of somatic medicine carries the danger of turning the

therapeutic relationships into a substitute for a transformation of human relations in
the social body – the corporate body in particular. For it is there, more than anywhere
else, that no value is placed on authentic human relations – as opposed to purely
professional or personal relations. An authentic human relation is an expression of
genuine inner relatedness to others as opposed to purely external role relationships. It
is a relation in which every encounter with the other is taken as an end in itself and
not a means to an end – whether this end be profit, power or therapy. A revolution in
human relations can only come about through a change in the way in which each of
us, as human beings, relates to our own inner being and other beings – not only within
but above all outside the context of the therapeutic relationship. For it is there in the
social and corporate body that the capacity for resonant organismic contact and
communication, for deep sensing, deep resonance, deep reading and deep
responsiveness is most lacking. As David Smail has argued so forcibly, it is high time
for us to stop seeing the individual as a health problem for themselves and the world
and to once again seeing the world as a health problem for the individual – including
our clients. No form of therapy, which challenges and empowers clients to change
themselves without empowering them to challenge and change the world, can have
any lasting effect on the health of the individual or social organism. This was
something that Reich, with his education in socio-critical Marxist analysis as well as
individual Freudian psychoanalysis, certainly recognized. The title of Myron Sharaf‟s
biography of Reich – “Fury on Earth” – bears testament to his outrage at what he
perceived as a general social pathology. This critique of somatic psychotherapy is
also an appeal to restore and revive the revolutionary impetus and energy of Reich‟s
work. At its heart is also a basic emotional question to somatic psychotherapists:
where has all the fury gone?

One answer is – to war – for it is war which is all too often used to give health fury its
own pathological expression. The events of September 11 and the consequent war can
be understood organismically as a conflict between an ego-centred character structure
in which head and heart are connected to each other but both lack a spiritual link with
the hara – and its mirror image, a spiritually-grounded character structure in which
both head and hara and head and heart are linked, but heart and hara are severed.
The Islamic hara is a spiritual core or nucleus worshipped with the head and heart but
kept well-contained - below the belt and below the heart. Here it simmers as a
dormant but potentially explosive power to be heartlessly released against the
institutional structures and defenses of global ego culture represented by the USA.
The explosive outburst from a contained spiritual core or nucleus leads to a no less
violent counter-reaction. For now an emotionally outraged and enraged ego wreaks
havoc – enheartened, like the Crusaders, to identify the spiritual core of the human
being with a hidden and demonic power, personified in Osama bin Laden.


Shared By: