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Characer Analytic Body Psychotherapy elsewhere in Europe

Escuela Española de Terapia Reichiana (Es.Te.R.)´

Sociedad Italiana de Análisis Reichiano, Roma

Greek Institute for vegetotherapy and character analysis

IFeN Istituto F. Navarro

Association Française de Végétothérapie Caractéro-Analytique

Norwegian Institute of Vegetotherapy

Character Analytic Body Psychotherapy

The word "therapy" originates from the Greek (therapeia) which means "nurture" and "treatment". According to its name, Character Analytic Body Psychotherapy (Character Analytic Vegetotherapy) treats both the mind and the body. "Character analysis" conveys the idea that an individual character can be examined, that it is open to changes. "Vegetative" refers to the soma, that is, to the organism, the body. Body Psychotherapy has a holistic view of the human being. This means that therapy includes working with verbal expressions, thoughts and fantasies, emotions, bodily feelings and sensations, as well as established, harmful reactions patterns of the autonomous nervous system. Body Psychotherapy can also be helpful for people suffering from traumatic experiences.

Our way of being in the world, to a great extent, is determined by our genes, the society and family in which grew up in, as well as by our life experiences. The basic functions of the organism, as well as our emotions and behaviour, are regulated by the autonomous nervous system and the limbic system. These systems are effected by and bear permanent traces of our past experiences and thus form the basis for our present behaviour. Our present behaviour is more or less automatic, and often we are not aware of this. The organism keeps repeating the same physical and physiological reactions as always, that is, reactions that are familiar to it. Our organisms, bodies and minds follow old well known paths, even though the world around us changes. It is exactly due to this autonomous nature of functioning of the autonomous nervous system that changing our behaviours is so difficult, even though we are willing to do so. Therefore, we may need therapeutic support in this work.

We tend to reach towards things that attract us, and avoid things that put us off. An emotion is a signal of the body that prepares the organism to function in a relevant way in a given situation. A naturally healthy person lives according to his/her inner feelings and sensations, that is, his/her bodily signals. However, something may have caused disturbances in this system, and we do not feel what we could feel. We lose our emotions, we keep repeating the same emotion from one situation to another in spite of the fact that situations are changing, or our emotional life is in a state of chaos. Something in us is blocked, our acts do not further our own or anyone's good; our emotions do not function as our compass any more. We keep repeating old patterns at the present moment - new paths and purposeful behaviour are beyond our reach. We have lost our innate freedom of action.

Our way of being and behaving reflects our character. Character is not, however, the essential nature of a human being, his or her real self. The original reason for character formation is to protect an individual from frustrations caused by the outer world, and to bring the conflict between one's inner instinctual demands and the demands of the outer world to equilibrium. Our character expresses itself in our states of mind, attitudes, thoughts, emotions and behaviour. It also manifests itself in our bodily posture, movements and immobility.

Our bodily expressions are effected by our history. As tension becomes a chronic state of the body, one begins to take this as a natural state of the organism. A chronically tensed muscle works continuously to maintain habitual manners and attitudes. This consumes a lot of energy and binds inborn joy of life in us. A tensed or enervated body keeps blocking free currents of emotions, thus inhibiting a purposeful experience.

There are no elements of forcing in this method of psychotherapy, a gradual integration process progresses along with discoveries and insights of the client. The corner stone of therapy is the interaction between the therapist and the client. Therapy includes conversation, as well as getting to know one's own body and its expressions through movement, voice and breathing. "Self" is not thoughts and images of one's own self; our experience of our selves is first and foremost bodily. As we will gradually discover our selves behind our character and habitual patterns of behaviour, we will find out something new and constantly renewing. The real me, my self, is always to a certain degree unknown and surprising.

A permanent change will take place, when we discover our own life-force, when we stop identifying with our characters and being prisoners of our histories. Then we will regain our ability for self-regulation and choice. As a result, more energy will be released for us to live at the present moment and our thirst of life will increase. This leads to the deepening of genuine contacts with other people and the world.