Freud’s Theory About the Body

Body analysis began in the late 1890s, starting with Freud, when he wrote about sexual problems that resulted from blocked sexual energy, which he called “libido.”  He theorized that personality problems resulted when energy did not flow in the body.  Unfortunately, he developed this theory during the Victorian era when it was not politically correct to discuss sexuality. So he stopped writing about it, fearing that libido theory could hurt his popularity.

In the 1930s, when society had become slightly more accepting, Freud’s student, Wilhelm Reich, MD, embraced libido theory, stating that the flow of biological energy in the body heightens pleasure, happiness, and sexuality.  In fact, he saw it as the key to a healthy body and mind. In his research, Reich looked at the bodies of dozens of his clients, hypothesizing that the energy in their bodies (called chi in acupuncture) flowed differently depending upon the relationship they had with their parents. When things were good, energy shaped the body in harmonious ways, and when the situation was cold, scary, critical or abusive, the energy created distortions in the body.

By the late 1960s, my future mentor, John Pierrakos, MD and another psychiatrist, Alexander Lowen, MD, drew on these ideas and developed a new way to work with the body, called Bioenergetics. With their understanding of energy patterns, they were able to help people decrease negative emotions, like anger, and take more responsibility for their lives. They taught people to stand tall, to breathe correctly, and to move in an assertive manner. In the late 1970s, Pierrakos founded a new school called “Core Energetics,” When I became his student he taught me that energy in the body has a spiritual dimension. A strong spiritual presence in one’s life helps facilitate energy flow. .  

I have built on these traditions in my own practice and in the techniques and exercises that I will share with you in this blog and on my website

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