What is BBP Melanie d'Ursel

What is Biodynamic Body Psychotherapy?

Gerda Boyesen (1922-2005), a Norwegian Physiotherapist and Psychotherapist, founder of Biodynamic Psychology and Psychotherapy, combined Reichian ideas with her own physiotherapeutic techniques, whilst working in Norwegian psychiatric settings, primarily with Aadel Bulow-Hansen and Lillemor Johnsen. Boyesen’s method grew out of the Norwegian convention at that time for all psychiatric patients to receive massage. To Reich’s theory of the ‘muscle armour’, Boyesen introduced the concept of ‘tissue armouring’, highlighting the importance of fluidity and melting.

Beyond the physical, psychological, emotional, familial and cultural factors that influence human development, Boyesen emphasised the circulation of libido in humans, also referred to as vital energy, for the promotion of physical, emotional and mental growth. She named all the phases of human development the phases of libido circulation development and stated that it was not the release of energy she was interested in, but rather the transformation of her client’s life force. At the core of Gerda Boyesen’s technique is the peristalsis, which is the movement of the guts, the rhythmic contraction of the smooth muscle in the intestines, governed by the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). Reich taught us that the unconscious lies in the body, within the ANS and the alimentary canal; Boyesen built on this to develop her own theory that the guts have two functions: the digestion of food and the digestion of emotions. She points out that uncompleted emotional cycles will leave metabolic waste behind throughout the body, resulting in tissue and muscle armouring. Her theory, called ‘psycho-peristalsis’, implies that the alimentary or ‘ID canal’ needs to be discharged of its emotional content, through expression of these emotions and or through ‘digesting’ them. This cleansing process will alleviate emotional pressure in both the unconscious and conscious and will hopefully clear the way for the positive aspects of the unconscious to shine through. To listen to the peristalsis, the biodynamic therapist will use a stethoscope to monitor its sounds and flow.

Boyesen shared with Reich the view that we have access to our essence or core or true self, which she calls the ‘Primary Personality’. The Primary Personality is our connection with our life force, our physical and psychological aliveness. This principle of the Primary Personality is fundamental in biodynamic psychotherapy and Boyesen believed that the primary attitude of the therapist should be to look and make contact with all elements of the Primary Personality. This allows clients to find the strength to accept and tackle their ‘Secondary Personality’ – the more neurotic side of their character. The Secondary Personality is a layer of defences that have been built for good reasons – to protect ourselves against unmet basic needs, unresolved loss of all kinds, perceived or real aggression and trauma that our being could not cope with. These defences may well have saved our life and/or sanity.

Boyesen’s theory is rooted in Freudian psychoanalysis and is attuned to the energetic and pulsatory nature of human existence, which is at the heart of a Reichian tradition.

Nowadays Biodynamic Body Psychotherapy is underpinned and supported by theories of human development, attachment, affect regulation, interpersonal neurobiology and trauma.

What is BBP Melanie d'Ursel

What is Biodynamic Body Psychotherapy?

Gerda Boyesen (1922-2005), a Norwegian Physiotherapist and Psychotherapist, founder of Biodynamic Psychology and Psychotherapy, combined Reichian ideas with her own physiotherapeutic techniques, whilst working in Norwegian psychiatric settings, primarily with Aadel Bulow-Hansen and Lillemor Johnsen. Boyesen’s method grew out of the Norwegian convention at that time for all psychiatric patients to receive massage. To Reich’s theory of the ‘muscle armour’, Boyesen introduced the concept of ‘tissue armouring’, highlighting the importance of fluidity and melting.

Beyond the physical, psychological, emotional, familial and cultural factors that influence human development, Boyesen emphasised the circulation of libido in humans, also referred to as vital energy, for the promotion of physical, emotional and mental growth. She named all the phases of human development the phases of libido circulation development and stated that it was not the release of energy she was interested in, but rather the transformation of her client’s life force. At the core of Gerda Boyesen’s technique is the peristalsis, which is the movement of the guts, the rhythmic contraction of the smooth muscle in the intestines, governed by the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). Reich taught us that the unconscious lies in the body, within the ANS and the alimentary canal; Boyesen built on this to develop her own theory that the guts have two functions: the digestion of food and the digestion of emotions. She points out that uncompleted emotional cycles will leave metabolic waste behind throughout the body, resulting in tissue and muscle armouring. Her theory, called ‘psycho-peristalsis’, implies that the alimentary or ‘ID canal’ needs to be discharged of its emotional content, through expression of these emotions and or through ‘digesting’ them. This cleansing process will alleviate emotional pressure in both the unconscious and conscious and will hopefully clear the way for the positive aspects of the unconscious to shine through. To listen to the peristalsis, the biodynamic therapist will use a stethoscope to monitor its sounds and flow.

Boyesen shared with Reich the view that we have access to our essence or core or true self, which she calls the ‘Primary Personality’. The Primary Personality is our connection with our life force, our physical and psychological aliveness. This principle of the Primary Personality is fundamental in biodynamic psychotherapy and Boyesen believed that the primary attitude of the therapist should be to look and make contact with all elements of the Primary Personality. This allows clients to find the strength to accept and tackle their ‘Secondary Personality’ – the more neurotic side of their character. The Secondary Personality is a layer of defences that have been built for good reasons – to protect ourselves against unmet basic needs, unresolved loss of all kinds, perceived or real aggression and trauma that our being could not cope with. These defences may well have saved our life and/or sanity.

Boyesen’s theory is rooted in Freudian psychoanalysis and is attuned to the energetic and pulsatory nature of human existence, which is at the heart of a Reichian tradition.

Nowadays Biodynamic Body Psychotherapy is underpinned and supported by theories of human development, attachment, affect regulation, interpersonal neurobiology and trauma.

“People who have been traumatized hold an implicit memory of traumatic events held in their brains and bodies. That memory is often expressed in the symptomatology of post-traumatic stress disorder – nightmares, flashbacks, startle responses, and dissociative behaviours. In essence, the body of the traumatized individual refuses to be ignored

Babette Rothschild

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(+44) 7771-660618

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London, W11  4SQ

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