John C. Pierrakos, MD: Age 10 to Young Adulthood

When John was 11 years of age, a sexual experience with a girl cousin caused him to fear being punished by his father. Because he excelled in school, he was placed in a French Lycee, an equivalent of an American high school and although the courses were difficult, he felt proud of his achievements. He enjoyed competing with other students and getting good grades. His father traveled for work, and when he would return to be with the family, John felt distant from him. Still afraid of him, John expected to be punished for his sexual escapades. On the other hand, these were active, enjoyable years and Jonn played volleyball and soccer daily, taking pleasure in the role of team leader.

At the age of 15, things changed for John because his father died in an accident and he was left to take care of the family and manage the family property. His father had purchased property in Athens and this property provided the family with a comfortable income. Following his father,’s death, John felt frozen; he wasn’t able to access his feelings or cry. However the guilt from his early sexual explorations diminished, and John felt  liberated from his fear after his father passed away.

At the age of 18 When he finished high school, John’s sister Catina invited him to come to the United States to study. At that time the Germans had already taken France. John left Greece on the last steamboat from the port of Pireaus. His dream to come to the United States was now coming true. He arrived in 1940 entering Columbia College where he studied for 4 years.  For the first 3 years after his arrival in the states, he felt lost, because he did not know the language, and he had to struggle with his studies at Columbia College.  He said that “In the 1st year I almost flunked out, but by the 3rd year I was on the Dean’s List and I was amazed to find out how capable I was in my studies when I wanted to apply myself.” Soon he met a female student who was very sweet and accepting. This relationship gave him a lot of confidence and feelings of self worth.

After Columbia, John was accepted to study medicine at the Downstate Medical Center in New York. In medical school he was able to concentrate and focus, and his good marks allowed him to finish in 3 years. Because It was wartime, 1943-44, studies were abbreviated so that students could be of service to the nation. John graduated from medical school in 1947. By now he was in another relationship with a woman of Greek origin, named Ragone. After 3 years, they married and John continued his post-graduate studies in psychiatry. He also met Reich in 1947 and began therapy with him. John was deeply impressed by this man and the intense way Reich worked with him, breaking down his defenses. However, John believed that he never completely resolved his transference toward Reich during the year he worked with him. Then he began Orgone therapy with Dr. Elsworth Baker and that continued for approximately  3 years. During the same time he worked as a psychiatric resident, continued his studies with Reich, and also participated in a classical psychiatric training.

John took a position as a staff member at Kings County hospital. There he felt very alone, since he was the only staff member who was a follower and student of Reich and Orgone therapy. It was very dangerous to be Reichan in those days, since Reich was ostracized and maligned by the psychiatric profession. John left his position at the hospital following an argument with the director about Reich and he established his own office for the practice of psychiatry in 1950. After he opened the office, Alexander Lowen asked to share the office. Lowen had just come from Europe having completed his medical studies there. During that time, Ragone and John celebrated the birth of Eva, their first daughter. And at the same time he started developing the Bioenergetic field with Alexander Lowen; this occurred because they were practicing together and having many discussions. John described this  stage of his life as very significant, because it helped him focus on independence and creativity, two concepts central to the later development of Core Energetics.


Holistic Professional Training Program

Holistic Professional Training Program — Mindbody, Core Energetics, Core Living Therapy
Begins, Friday, October 28 – 30, 2011

Someone recently mentioned The Celestine Prophecy to me. Remembering that book reminded me why this Two Year Professional Training in Holistic Counseling, Core Energetics, and Core Living Therapy is so important to me and to those who are enrolling in it. A sentence that stuck with me said: “When something beyond chance leads us forward in our lives than we become more actualized. We feel as if we are obtaining what destiny is leading us to become.”

Continuing Education Credits and Certificate Program

I hope that the therapists, healers, and body workers who sign up for this training experience themselves moving forward in life guided by mysterious coincidence. This training is designed for those professionals who desire to understand the psychological implications of energy and its healing qualities, and for those interested in finding their truth and experiencing tranformation.Curriculum 2011-2012 Integrative and Energy Theory for Therapists and Healers; The Holistic Treatment of Trauma; Holistic Techniques for Enmeshment and Betrayal; Reading the Body to Creat a Treatment Plan; Exploring Sexuality Through Integrative Techniques; Suptervision and Process Group — Every Weekend

Director: Karyne B. Wilner, PsyD, First Year Dates: Friday – Sunday: October 28-30, November 18-20, 2011 — January 27-29, March 23-35, May 25-27, 2012, Place: 3047 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI, 02871 Inexpensive nearby motels for those traveling from a distance. Questions and Information: 401-316-7041 or More Information at


Why Become a Holistic Therapist

This is a question I have been thinking about. I had no plans to change my practice. I loved being a humanistic psychotherapist, basing my interventions on the work of Rogers, Perls, Schutz, Gendlin, Erikson, and even Ellis. Experiences such as empty chair work and Rogerian reflection deepened the therapeutic process, and because I felt free to express myself, rather than wearing the therapist blank screen mask, I created meaningful relationships with my clients.

Yet, the process changed in an even more fulfilling way once I met John Pierrakos, MD, at a Humanistic Psychology Conference. Seeing his work with the body and his ability to help people recognize the personality and behavioral components they needed to change in order to enrich their lives let me know that there was something more that I could introduce into my practice. At first, I was my own guinea pig. And when I saw the changes in my own life, such as opening myself to love again, finishing my doctorate, adopting a child, and taking my career in a new direction, I was encouraged to try a more holistic program with my clients. Bt integrating many of the humanistic methods that I have always loved with body therapy, my clients found more fulfillment in their lives and they changed at a quicker pace than I or they thought possible.

So when other professionals ask me why they should attend trainings in alternative methods that focus on the body, meditation, and energy work, I can think of many reasons. For social workers, psychologists, and counselors whose emphasis is traditional, talk, or cognitive therapies, consideration of a more holistic methodology might take place when boredom sets in, when clients don’t change after many hours of work, when there is less pleasure in going to work, when your own life feels stuck, when you realize that therapy is about more than just problems, when DSM diagnoses are no longer working for all your clients, and when you want to help people have more pleasure in their lives, be in their truth more often, and open their hearts.

Much warmth,

Karyne Wilner


Bio: John C. Pierrakos: The Early Years

John was born in a small village in Greece in 1921. He lived there  until he was about age 6  when the entire family moved to Athens. He lived in Athens until he was 18.

A story he heard about his first year of life left the impression that he had trouble digesting food, possibly suffering a colic syndrome, with an inability to digest fats leading to infantile discomfort. A joyful early memory involved getting dressed up to be photographed with a cousin at age 2. The most significant event in the early years involved a seduction by an older cousin when he was about  5. This was traumatic because his cousin told him that he would be punished if he told. He said “I remember that after it happened I came out in the sunlight and I was surprised, because I thought that it would be dark and that the sun would fall from the sky.”  Although some sexual play continued with girl cousins the next traumatic event involved a fall from a banister of 35-40 feet that left him unconscious for 2 days. When his grandmother picked him up she thought he was dead and she wanted to die along with him. However, hearing him moan, she brought him into the house. He gained consciousness gradually and was taken to the biggest city near his village to be examined. He recovered fully and afterwards felt normal.

John’s early years were characterized by the presence of a lot of women around him and the absence of men. He was the fifth child following 4 girls and therefore he was pampered, spoiled and treated like a king. His father was away working and traveling in Europe and his two uncles lived at a distance. His grandparents doted on him. John describes his mother as “a very sweet woman” who loved him deeply. He was never afraid of her and he loved her in return. However, his oldest sister, Catina, was told by their father to teach the younger ones manners, and she would therefore discipline him and punish him. He remembers resenting her authority and battling with her.

To Be Continued……


John’s Explanation For Leaving Bioenergetics

“Now, in relation to my splitting off from the Institute: It has happened historically many times, as with Freud and Reich, etc., I believe that the reason for these patterns is unavoidable when those who innovated stay rigidly anchored in what they have found and feel threatened to go further. Whenever there is a standstill, there must be stagnation. Whenever change is denied (due to personal pride, egotism, or whatever the reason) those who want to go beyond, must part. This I believe to be good for would this courage be absent no further movement is possible.

I have no intention to abandon bioenergetics. I found through my twenty or so years of experience that it’s not enough. I believe that there are other aspects of man that need to be included and activated in order to help man go beyond his character resistances into which he’s trapped. Not by an outside factors which are historically included in his development but by his own inner processes.

I accept your wish not to want to enter my own experiences and discoveries and stay with the central reality of man in his humanness. However, what you don’t perceive is that the humanness depends upon the expansion of the consciousness of man together with the energetic experiences of life. The humanness is the perception of the consciousness of being, and it is indeed a spiritual experience since it incorporates the energetic and the consciousness dimension of life.

Anyway, I just want to add that it’s far from my mind and intention to preach a new (or old) philosophy, or religion. I intend to expand my field of operation and to show that anyone can find out what can be argued about, accepted, believed in or not accepted or believed in. There was a time when Freud came up and showed us that an unconscious mind existed. A lot of people were up in arms and protested that such a thing could not possibly exist. Yet Freud also had a way that led those who were willing and open minded to undertake the journey, to find out for themselves, as an incontrovertible fact that they indeed possessed an unconscious. It is peculiar that people rather argue in order to deny than follow, the road that might show them that what was claimed, indeed exists. By arguing, the discomfort can be avoided without having to admit that one simply feels scared to go that way. And I have to tell you David, that I object to your implications that I have now become “slightly fuzzy in my head”, with an escapist brand of evangelism looking for salvation or worse yet a mystic up in the clouds.

One more thing: you refute the “trinitarian” concept (again, you’re the one who puts a religious concept on it) view of man. You deny the fact that man has a body, a soul and a spirit. On the one hand, you’re right. These are all aspects of the same oneness of consciousness. Yet, as it manifests with the average human being, this oneness, is split off and needs to be mended. In many instances man is deliberate in his intent and aware of the fact that he’s either a body, a soul, or a spirit. Similarly, energy and consciousness are the same expressions of the same oneness of life. Energy is consciousness and consciousness is energy.  Again, this oneness is often split and needs to be integrated. Man can be of one piece and in the rare, most ideal case, he is. He can achieve this state after a great deal of hard work, honest self-confrontation and willingness to work and change. BUT HE’S NOT APRIORI OF ONE PIECE. Not only is he dualistic or Trinitarian but often he consists of many more diverse “selves” that need to be brought into awareness. I think you really know this by somehow I see an inclination on your part to interpret my basic position in a preconceived way.

In relation to how are the people who are searching to decide to go for the “bioenergetic health of the body or to accept my offer of the water of life”—my answer is, that you are making this division, not me! As I have said in my letter the dimensions of energy and consciousness are one, and that some people would like to stay in the experience of the energy level and some people would like to transverse the forest and take a longer trip into the beauty of life. There is no contradiction whatsoever.

Man has to synthesize, integrate the past, the present and the future. We are living the last few years of the century. There is a new consciousness about life in many human beings. New ways, new methods are being found to heal the wounds of our age. We cannot develop these new tools unless we have an open mind that will allow the core of man to express itself fully.”

letter written by John Pierrakos, MD to a colleague



“Throughout my twenty years of psychiatric practice, I have come to the conclusion that the old format of doctor-patient relationship is no longer sufficient to fill the needs of an emerging new consciousness in man. My own personal development had led me on a pathway that has enabled me to resolve deep-seated problems that could heretofore not dissolve. I have begun, in recent years, to use new approaches and methods that have yielded similar results in those who committed themselves to search further within themselves. This has led me to the realization that these approaches and methods could be communicated to other therapists, psychiatrists and all those who help other human beings to find their highest potentials.”

The beginning of this century was an era of the discoveries of the unconscious mind by Freud, of the concepts of the psyche by Jung, and the integration of the energy concepts of the body by Reich. Each one of these men carry a specific task in the understanding of man. All three represent the three aspects of man: the body, the mind and the soul.”

The era of integration of body, mind and soul is psychiatry has also arrived in the same manner as in politics, government, education and other disciplines.”

Within the core of man lie literally limitless creative potentials to change his life, his circumstances, his own limitations of self-expression. To reach this core, is not a simple matter. But once the resistance to finding this power of self-creation is faced and worked through, new freedoms open up in the living center of man.”

This new approach constitutes a new modality in therapy to be known as CORE THERAPY. The main purpose of the Institute for Core Therapy will be to develop new concepts in the healing process. This approach integrates the body, emotions, mind and soul with the core, or higher self. Those who explore this evolutionary process will come in touch with a higher consciousness in themselves and be able to help others in that direction.”


Sample Body Reading

Louise tells the group she hates her body and she has had spinal surgery for scoliosis.

I tell her that she may have received a dose of hate while she was still in the womb. Her body is wounded, but not ugly.

KBW “Your psychological wound seems to have been created by an early dose of hate, usually in the first 3 months of life. You may have felt you were not lovable and not wanted. At times you may have felt something like ‘what’s the use of being here; why even go on’. This is not a suicidal thought, but a sense of not belonging, not fitting in, in any shape or form. Some people who receive this wound are very spiritual. Are you spiritual? “

L “Yes, I am.“

“KBW “You also tend to detach from what is happening around you. Do you tune out some of the time?”

L “Yes, I do.”

KBW “Your chest is relatively boney and the ribs stick out. This is generally a sign of early deprivation and abandonment. Your parenting figures may not have supported you, although some of this may have happened in a past life.”

“The collapse in your feet at the arch shows feelings of unworthiness and not being able to stand up for yourself. “

L “My defense is to prove the opposite, that I am worthy.”

KBW “You stand with your feet fairly wide apart in an effort to ground and make up for the support you did not receive. The problem is that by standing with your legs and feet far apart your life energy is free to dissipate, so that it is no longer yours.”

KBW “The scoliosis in your spine shows that when you came into this world you brought with you a powerful soul or personality. You were more powerful than your family could handle, and in order to live in your family you had to squash this power. When the child squashes this power it distorts the spine and leads to scoliosis.”

KBW “You must be a very strong person, for even with this kind of wounding, you seem to function well. You did not end up in a mental hospital.”

KBW “I suggest to you work on your anger (when the young child or infant receives hate, she mirrors it back to the world in the form of suppressed anger or hate.) Once you release the anger, you are free to develop your femininity and your soft side. Your body has not yet filled in the feminine softness. Your legs are positioned apart in a masculine stance, and by keeping them so far apart you lose your grounding and your sexual energy.”

KBW “What is your purpose here on the planet? How can you achieve more personal fulfillment. With this wound, it is important to explore your life purpose and to make a full commitment to life.”

L “I exist and I fight back. I am a life coach and I am active in politics.”

KBW “What do you want for yourself? “

L “I want love, but I don’t know how to get it.”

KBW “You must open your heart, but that goes hand and hand with getting out your anger.”

We end when I ask her to open her arms toward the group of people who are observing the reading and embrace them and receive their loving feelings. Many of whom come up and hug her.


Internal Sensations

Here are several valid reasons for self-monitoring your internal sensations. Some people have physical problems that can be exacerbated by emotional problems or that are caused by the interaction between emotions and the body. People who suffer from psychosomatic illnesses or those whose illnesses lead to more emotional stress need to identify, at the earliest stage possible, internal physical processes in order to control them and divert their consequences.

Physical symptoms are used to diagnose anxiety, panic, and depression. Palpitations, dizziness, and sweaty palms indicate anxiety; whereas, the inability to sleep, exhaustion, or lack of energy help to identify depression. Depersonalization, another disorder from which certain people suffer, also has a physical aspect. In such cases, people are often disconnected from their bodies and unaware of them. A conscious awareness of the body sensations leads to emotional and physical health. However, this consciousness should be balanced, because an overemphasis on physicality is no better than a total lack of emphasis, for example, when a person is terrified by every little twinge.

If people prone to panic attacks learn to identify physical symptoms that alert them to the possibility that an attack will follow, they can manage it better. In order to teach people who suffer from hypertension how to handle their anger, they must first identify body signals that indicate they are angry. Those who suffer from unreality and detachment need to learn a gentle, non-threatening way to connect to their bodies and the feelings within them,

Biofeedback is one important way to teach body awareness. However, these machines and the technicians who operate them are not always available or feasible. In addition, if people learn how to self-monitor, they will not be solely dependent on an outside source for information about their own bodies. Here are some exercises that will help you develop self-monitoring skills.

1. Body Scanning:

Stand up or lie down. Name each part of your body, starting with the feet or toes, and describe it with a word or phrase. This exercise can be done in two ways.

a. Describe the sensation in the body part (tingling).

b. Use descriptive words, such as “cold” or “hard” to describe body part.

All answers are acceptable including “I feel nothing there.”

2. Relaxation Exercises:

a. Ask each body part to relax.

b. Tense each part and then allow it to relax.

3. Running in Place:

Run in place for one full minute as fast as possible (Do only with physician’s approval). Then lie down on a bed, mat or floor. Experience sensations in your body. This exercise allows you to get in touch with blocks in your body as well as problems with breathing and energy flow.

4. Meditation:

Begin in short sessions, 5 to 10 minutes, set an alarm clock, sit comfortably, eyes closed, focused on breathing, let all thoughts drift away, on each in breath say “in”, and on each out breath say “out”, the objective is to follow the breath in and out of the body, observe it, but do not control it.

5. Draw Your Body:

Make a drawing of your physical body. Mark an “X” where you feel tension. Place a “Y” where you feel relaxed. Place a “0” where you feel numb or have no feeling.

HAVE FUN, Karyne


Planet Body

Work with your body’s energy — if you are to be vital and alive. The energy flow in your body should make a figure eight. Up one side from the ground, cross at the solar plexus, travel up the other side, cross again at the soft palate, in the mouth, and go back down. Why doesn’t it work like this for many of us. We have one half of the figure eight or the other. The energy gets blocked for some of us in the upper body, chest, shoulders and head, and then for others in the bottom, the legs or pelvis. For the most bang for your buck, and by this I mean life energy, you need your whole body. If all your energy is upper body, you are going to be bossy and controlling, and want things your way. Not a lot of fun to be with for others. If you are bottom-heavy, you will be stuck, you are over-planted and don’t take enough risks. For those people with full body energy flow, life is full and exciting. Become one of them by freeing up your energy and making it travel through your full life circuit.

Yours truly, Karyne Wilner, PsyD


The Core Energetic Therapy Process

The goal of Core Energetics is to open the heart and experience love. This is accomplished by helping individuals remove the obstacles embedded in their personalities, heal their splits, explore their emotions at the level of truth, experience love throughout their beings, and actively cope with life. Few other body therapies integrate spirituality and the universal life force into their basic theoretical formulations and similarly, spiritual therapies rarely give emphasis to action methodologies or focus upon energy or the body. An innovator, John Pierrakos, MD, the founder of Core Energetics, broke with both traditions when he combined spiritual, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral elements, creating a psychotherapeutic system capable of mobilizing potent forces for change. The therapy which resulted strengthens the transformational process and enables people to attain love and pleasure in their lives, as well as a deeper level of truth.

Clients can expect to achieve a deeper connection with the spiritual self, the resolution of specific problems in living, and the transformation of destructive patterns of behavior. Movement, action, catharsis, and honest expression are the essential tools of this therapeutic method.

Next post: Every Body Has the Answer