The Body in Jung’s Work: Basic Elements to Lay the Foundation for a Theory of Technique

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  The Body in Jung’s Work:Basic Elements to Lay the Foundation for a Theory of Technique  André Sassenfeld   André Sassenfeld is a clinical psychologist and adult psychotherapist in private prac-tice in Santiago, Chile, with a master’s degree in analytical psychology. He teachesin various Chilean academic settings, including graduate courses at Universidad deChile and Universidad del Desarrollo. He has published several papers in Spanish,including a paper on a relational perspective on Jungian complex theory.   Abstract This article reviews Jung’s key ideas regarding the body to lay thefoundation for a Jungian clinical approach to bodily experience. It paysspecial attention to some of Jung’s ideas on the word-association test andpsychosis, on the body-mind relation, and on the body as both shadowand self. Based on contemporary research on implicit relational process-es, the author proposes ways to integrate the somatic dimension into clin-ical work. The author suggests that analytical psychology’s historicalemphasis on the psychological side of the individual’s psychosomatictotality needs for completeness to be balanced with theoretical and prac-tical knowledge regarding the patient’s bodily side.In this article, I will examine C. G. Jung’s central ideas regardingthe body. My aim is to grant the body a larger place in Jungian clinicalpractice. I will link these ideas with some of Wilhelm Reich’s concepts,Reich being the father of psychotherapeutic body work, and with somecurrent concepts regarding the nonverbal, implicit dimension in psy- The Journal of Jungian Theory and PracticeVol. 10, No. 1, 1–13Copyright 2008 by the C. G. Jung Institute of New YorkISSN 1530-5538 Keywords Body, Jung, analytic technique, implicit relational processes.  chotherapy generally. In this way, I hope to articulate some of the neces-sary foundation for a specifically Jungian theory of integrative techniqueas regards the body and somatic experience. I will emphasize variouspossibilities of working clinically with the body from the point of view of unconscious nonverbal interactions between patient and therapist.Different researchers have noted the lack of attention given to the body and to bodily experience that has historically prevailed in analyti-cal psychology (Chodorow, 1995; Heuer, 2005; McNeely, 1987). In spite of a number references to the body throughout Jung’s works, there is anabsence of guidelines for the practical approach to including the body in Jungian psychotherapy in a systematic way. As Heuer (2005) puts it,“Jungian psychology seems marked by a theoretical ambivalencetowards the body, whilst mostly ignoring it clinically“ (p. 106), so that, ineffect, “the post-Jungians have only rarely engaged with the body in theirtheoretical and clinical work” (p. 107).Based on the findings of infant research and attachment theory,Beebe and Lachmann (2002), Orbach (2004), and Sassenfeld (2007) con-sider what they call the “relational body” to be a nonverbal vehicle of communication and interaction. This relational body has recently becomean important focus of interest for a number of depth-psychological psy-chotherapists. This interest parallels the advances in the neurosciencesthat have guided many psychotherapists towards neurobiological andpsychobiological aspects of clinical practice (Schore, 2003a, 2003b;Wilkinson, 2004). The exploration of the place of the body in Jungian clin-ical practice is becoming a genuine need if our field is to keep abreast of these developments.To be sure, specifically Jungian contributions regarding the bodyhave seemed to increase in the last two decades—in particular, clinicalaccounts of work with patients with psychosomatic disturbances (i.e.,Redfearn, 2000; Sidoli, 1993; Wiener, 1994) and attention to so-called somat-ic countertransference and enactments (i.e., Cambray, 2001; Redfearn, 2000;Samuels, 1985a; Stone, 2006; Wyman-McGinty, 1998)—but despite thesehelpful starts, contributions that approach the topic from the perspective of theory of technique are scarce. The publications of McNeely (1987),Chodorow (1995), Wyman-McGinty (1998), Greene (2001), and Heuer(2005) have included elements that could be applied to the construction of a Jungian theory of technique regarding the body. However, we do nothave at our disposal anything systematic. Jungian clinicians have limitedthemselves to presenting their own ways of including the body and somat-ic experience in psychotherapeutic work and some practical recommenda-tions. For example, somatic countertransference is usually discussed sim-ply as unconscious communication within the therapeutic field. 2 The Body in Jung’s Work  One can agree with Heuer (2005) that in analytical psychology the body is at times viewed as a vehicle for the expression of the vicissitudesof the soul, “but rarely is it regarded as the primary agent in effectingpsychological change. This avoids the question, ‘Can soul be changed by body?’ In clinical practice there seems to be a clear bias for psyche andagainst physis” (p. 107). Jung and the Body (I): Word-Association Test and Psychosis An early interest of Jung’s was the development of the word-asso-ciation test, an instrument that allowed him to carry out a set of psy-chophysical investigations whose results are published in the second vol-ume of the Collected Works, Experimental Researches.  Jung’s early studies inthis area included such unconscious bodily phenomena as electrical skinconduction and breathing patterns, and enabled him to uncover the exis-tence of an intimate connection between subjects’ emotional reactions andvarious physiological processes. He was able to show that the activation of a complex has clear and measurable physiological correspondences, a factthat opened up the way for his later understanding of body and mind asunitary (Greene, 2001; Heuer, 2005; McNeely, 1987). The word-associationtest was his main way to prove empirically the existence of unconsciouscomplexes. Jung verified that the complexes identified through word asso-ciation express themselves simultaneously in somatic ways.From the clinical point of view, this ascertainment is of great util-ity because, to the attentive and trained observer, it makes possible therecognition of the presence of a complex based on “postural characteris-tics of the body as well as chronic emotional reactions, somatic symp-toms, chronic or recurring illnesses and other physiological manifesta-tions of tension” (McNeely, 1987, p. 17). In other words, given that thecomplexes manifest themselves not only in interferences to the psychicprocesses of the patient but equally in body language, the patient’s body becomes a main indicator of complex activity in the psychotherapeuticcontext. The psychoanalyst Reich (1942, 1945 [1933]) discovered a similarphenomenon which he described in his concept of “muscular armor”:unconscious repressed emotional and psychological processes are literal-ly anchored defensively in the individual’s muscular structure.1We willreturn to these ideas further on in relationship with the shadow.As is well known, an important interest of Jung’s in his first yearsof professional experience was the psychology of schizophrenia, thencalled dementia praecox. Chodorow (1995) states that Jung always gaveattention to the repetitive and stereotyped gestures of schizophrenicpatients at the Burghölzli psychiatric clinic, “frequently [relying] on the    André Sassenfeld 3   body experience as a communicative bridge to reach patients who werecompletely withdrawn” (p. 392). More than fifty years later, owing toWinnicott’s work (Little, 1990) and that of other psychoanalytic thera-pists, there emerged among classically trained psychoanalysts heated dis-cussions over the possibility of using physical contact and somatic coun-tertransference (e.g., the bodily experience of receiving someone’s projec-tive identification) as tools for working through issues with borderlineand psychotic patients. This discussion has not yet come to resolution.What is clear is that over time, given the already mentioned influence of infant research and attachment theory, the range of patients for which the body and nonverbal communication are considered relevant haswidened progressively and now includes psychotherapy with almost anyindividual client, regardless of specific psychopathology. Implicit Processes and Psychotherapeutic Change Chodorow (1995) thinks that Jung “had an instinctive grasp of movement as the primal means of expression and communication” (p.392). In the last decades, what Jung may have instinctively grasped hasreceived empirical support from research on early interactions betweeninfant and primary caregiver and, equally, clinical support from studieson nonverbal implicit interactions in the therapeutic dyad (Beebe &Lachmann, 2002; Schore, 2003a, 2003b). The concept of implicit processesis currently used to designate a modality of psychological processing of experience (including psychic functions such as memory, perception,attention, learning, etc.) that is nonverbal, nonsymbolic, and in principlenonconscious. It is used to identify a level of interpersonal interactions(Sassenfeld, 2007) as well as of unconscious psychic representations thathave not been defensively made unconscious but are intrinsically non-conscious (BCPSG, 2002, 2005, 2007; Lyons-Ruth, 1999). Implicit representations are sometimes referred to by the some-what vague term “implicit knowing,” which is a type of comprehensionthat can be updated progressively through new experiences but whichalso contains the history of the individual’s past experiences. Explicitprocesses, as distinct from implicit processes, are verbal or verbalizable,symbolic, and conscious or relatively easily accessible by conscious atten-tion. Recent clinical discussions have centered, among other things, onclarifying in what measure and by what means implicit representationscan be made conscious in psychotherapy (Mancia, 2006; Sassenfeld, 2007). Many psychotherapists nowadays are of the opinion that thera-peutic change is determined in great measure by implicit processes thatare nonverbal and also not even conscious. Contributions from the   4 The Body in Jung’s Work

GK September 2014

Jul 23, 2017
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