Bioenergetics & Biopsychology: A Different Kind of Red Pill
Bioenergetics is a system of somatic psychology created by Alexander Lowen. Lowen was a student of Wilhelm Reich, an Austrian Psychoanalyst who was a student of Sigmund Freud, the creator of Psychoanalysis. Reich as far as I can tell is the progenitor of somatic Psychology. Somatic meaning; of the body. The mind-body connection is something that Freud seemed to ignore, but I doubt he wasn’t surprised by Reich’s studies of his patients. There is another popular student of Freud’s; Carl Jung who was a gifted mystic and the most superstitious (not a knock) of the bunch.
Lowen was first introduced to Reich at a lecture in America in the 1940s after Reich had been expelled from practically all of Europe. Lowen who by this point had a law degree was in Reich’s study of Character; that people develop a character structure and body structure to shield themselves from the forces of life. In Lowen’s first therapeutic session with Reich, he was told to lay on a couch and breath deeply, not into his stomach but into his chest. After minutes of doing so, Reich told Lowen to open his eyes and when Lowen did so he burst into a scream. We all breathe but with little intention. It’s common now to hear of breath work and mindfulness, which is good, but in the mid 20’th century this thought wasn’t so common.
I was introduced to Alexander Lowen’s work through the book Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith. EBWM is a thorough manual on the Chakra system (east) and Bioenergetics (west). For the ‘average’ American it’s hard to sink fully into the idea of not just the chakra system, but the whole of Yogic philosophy - the spiritual side with its roots in Hinduism. I don’t know if Lowen reformatted Yoga to a psychological system intentionally or if this was something he stumbled into, but the similarities are numerous.
One of these similarities is that the Chakra system and Bioenergetics do not see the myriad of psychological or Neurological disturbances as a condemnation. To say one is a Narcissist or has a Schizotypal personality is far too narrow. This would be like saying because someone is suffering from cancer that they are cancer. Both of these systems see disturbances of the psyche as a continuum: by certain circumstances, we may be likely to fit a category, but the aspects of such a category can be changed. Neurosis can be cured through the body. Thoughts can be focused and a person doesn’t need medication to solve these problems (I am not a doctor).
“The map is not the territory.” - Alfred Korzybski
Bioenergetics focuses on how people’s bodies take on certain psychic and emotional stressors by tension in the muscles (yoga?) which act as barriers to protect the mind and ego. Emotional pain is the key factor here. One is not born a tyrant but is molded by emotional pain, physical abuse, and neglect. My point being we are not simply brains in a jar and talking it out or taking medication are band-aids. Too often the business of therapy acts as an enabler of the patient and the pharmaceutical industry. Emotional healing, which is a great and painful undertaking is not easy or fun, but it is worth it.
Biopsychology is a westernized term for the process of chakra work. Working from the lower chakras up. Nowadays, I tell everyone who talks about psychedelic drugs what I wish I’d known when I was abusing them and thinking It was a cure: If you’re looking to natural pharmaceuticals (psychedelic drugs) as a way towards growth you should work on your lower chakras first. When you take psychedelics you receive codes that your body is not ready for. There is an old saying - Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. I think this is a fitting metaphor.
In the title, I called these practices “Red Pills” as something which will facilitate enlightenment. I don’t mean enlightenment as in Nirvana or Satori, but a natural connection to the world around us. You are not a fool so you don’t need me to tell you we’re over-saturated in opinions, news, doom, and gloom. Too often, and I cop to this, young men in the world seek to expose or confront the problems of this modern world. I think this is a miscalculation. Pointing out flaws is helpful to a small degree, but solves practically nothing. It doesn’t help you for me to say someone is abusing you if you don’t have the emotional capabilities or the self-respect to change your situation. This is why these practices are red pills. This whole world of social media, podcasts, and culture projects run on psychic projections. I’m not into being led in circles around a promised utopia. A better life is within you and for you to discover. I can’t say what it feels like for you and I don’t believe many people online or in the media can either, but some tools can help you find it.
This website is a solid overview with modules breaking down the fundamentals of somatic psychology:
Alexander Lowen Speaking:
While I was collecting these videos I was getting ads for Better Help which clearly uses actors. I’m sure they can’t use actual footage from therapy sessions, but I feel like this solidifies my point as modern therapy as a money making scam. Do what you gotta do though, not judgement from me.