Biodynamic psychology is the branch of psychology developed by Clinical Psychologist Gerda Boyesen (1922-2005). Her unique insight (which she called the ‘great secret’ of vegetative release) is that we can dissolve the impact of stress and nervousness, and resolve any emotional conflicts that may be related, often without psychotherapy or analysis.
After some years she found that this healing mechanism resided in the gut or gastro-intestinal tract. She discovered that the gut has an additional function, not only to digest food, but also stress, life experiences, emotional and psychological events.
Gerda Boyesen named this function “psycho-peristalsis”. This term was chosen to indicate the psychodynamic aspects of the peristaltic wave and to acknowledge the neurological, psychological and emotional components of the digestive process.
A wide range of biodynamic methods have been developed over 50 years, all of which are designed to optimise the function of psycho-peristalsis and restore the spontaneous flow of life energy between the mind and body. (bio means life, dynamic means movement).
As life-energy is liberated within a person it can bring “streamings” and a feeling of connectedness and well-being whilst simultaneously relieving pain and symptoms. This experience brings tonus and vitality for life – leading to a feeling of being able to move forward with renewed confidence and strength.
Where conflicts remain unresolved, biodynamic psychotherapy can help to clarify and work through all unconscious material.
Repressions are held in place by tension in the muscles (‘armouring’) and this in turn leads to inhibition of the diaphragm and respiratory function, causing shallow breathing. The biodynamic psychotherapist incorporates a range of methods including biodynamic massage and bodywork, vegetotherapy, ‘deep-draining’ and work with the bio-field in order to systematically unravel muscle tension and restore full breath.
This comprehensive and holistic approach loosens repressed material safely. We assist the client to complete emotional cycles and to resolve, once and for all, any remaining inner conflicts.
Extract From “The Biodynamic Theory of Neurosis”
“Through my research and clinical experience I quite unintentionally related the visceral armour to the alimentary canal and came to look upon it as the conductor of instinctual and emotional energies as well as the dissolving mechanism for regulation and discharge of nervous tension.
Considering that the alimentary canal belongs to the most primitive embryological layer, it did not seem too far-fetched to consider the instinctual, primitive energies and impulses being transmitted through this canal. I must confess that I was very reluctant at first to take this theoretical consideration into account.
But as my clinical experience with patients, as well as my own therapeutic process consistently pointed to the vital reactions of the alimentary canal, I began to look at psychodynamics more from a biological point of view and from the angle of evolution.”
by Gerda Boyesen
Extract From The “Three Hollows”
The concept of the ‘three hollows’ helps us to understand and work more efficiently a) with unconscious emotional and repressed energy, and b) towards a cerebral integration and a cleaning out of any particular emotional trauma. With the concept of the three hollows I refer to the three big and main hollows in the organism: the ventral hollow, the chest hollow, and the head hollow. All three of them contain organs, nerves, and blood vessels.
In my view, emotional energy is basically stored in the pelvic bone; where it lies, neutralised and static. When it is activated it starts to move upwards, towards the head, the mouth and the brain. This emotional energy becomes dynamic as soon as it enters what I call the first hollow (ventral).
When these tissues are activated, the general vegetative responses related to the repressed affects are also activated. At this stage the patient only feels a tension, and perhaps some pain, in the ventral hollow; but he usually has no idea of the content that is buried behind this tension. In other words emotions are for the moment aroused in so raw a form they cannot yet be integrated.
When the emotion enters the chest hollow, the patient feels the emotional quality of what is building itself up in him: whether it is fear, rage, depression, etc. At this stage, you immediately notice that the patient’s face and breathing change, clearly becoming very emotional.
Freud used to say that anxiety is the form emotions take when repressed in the unconscious. This feeling is often felt in the chest, associated to modifications of breathing or heart behaviour, as in anxiety neuroses. Patients usually find it difficult to deal with such affective manifestations and are victims of their own fears, emotions and strong vegetative reactions.
Medication can help one to master these feelings; but in biodynamic therapy one will mostly try to help the feelings to reach the head hollow, so that they can be actively expressed and integrated through conscious procedures. Thus affects that have been repressed for more than thirty years can at last follow the paths they were always meant to take.
Several difficulties must be taken into account when dealing with the last stage that leads emotions towards their fulfilment. Between the chest and the head emotions must pass through a narrow door: the neck. The whole process that leads emotions towards their fulfilment can get stuck there.
I like to compare the body in this dynamic moment to a champagne bottle where the throat is the champagne bottleneck. The therapist must sometimes not only help the cork to come out of the bottle, but also consider various ways this might happen. Integrating an emotional event in one’s conscious thinking and expressed behaviour is an important area.
by Gerda Boyesen