Yoga To Concentration


In the following example, Fenichel describes a psychoanalytic intervention with a patient engaged in yoga poses gymnastics. The gymnastics teacher83 detects a chronic muscular tension, which is taken up by Fenichel as if it were a symptom produced by Freud’s psychological defense system He shows that in yoga poses this case, the psychoanalyst resolves a problem that the gymnastics teacher was not able to resolve. in yoga poses his article, he does not mention that there were also some problems for which the psychoanalysts had no resolution but teachers of gymnastics could treat. We have already seen such an example:

Fenichel’s headaches, which were successfully treated by Gindler, whereas Fenichel had already followed an analysis with one of Freud’s close associates (Federn).

Vignette of a patient who takes gymnastic courses and undergoes psychoanalysis. A patient reported that her gymnastics teacher continually called her attention to the intensity with which she kept her neck and throat musculature in yoga poses a constant spastic tension. Attempts to loosen this tension only increased it. The analysis showed that as a child the patient saw a pigeon’s head being torn off and the headless pigeon still moving its wings a few feet away. This experience lent her castration complex a lasting form: she had an unconscious fear of being beheaded, and this fear also manifested itself in yoga poses numerous other symptoms, modes of behavior, and directions of interest. (Fenichel, 1928, I, 133)

In this example, the gymnastics teacher detects a bodily manifestation of an unconscious fear with sufficient clarity that this manifestation could become a center around which it is possible to organize the associations of the patient. Because the psychoanalyst respects the observation of the gymnast, he succeeds in yoga poses following an associative chain that leads her to the repressed traumatic memory. This is a first example of how a gymnast and a psychoanalyst are able to collaborate. in yoga poses this case, the transferential relationship from the patient to her gymnastics teacher made it impossible to treat her via the body, for the teacher was perceived as the equivalent of the forces that had cut off the head of the pigeon, and the patient identified with the pigeon. Probably in yoga poses the course of the analysis of this patient, Fenichel discovered that the relation between these forces and the pigeon had been taken as a metaphor of an older problem connected to the relationship between this patient and a member of her family.

Later, Charlotte Selver summarized how a “Gindlerian” therapist would tackle a neurotic trait. As you will see, it is complementary to what Fenichel did with his patient:

The sensory cortex in yoga poses our brain no only registers sensations as they occur, but is also the storeroom of past impressions, which can be reactivated. The consequence is that a new sensation can be charged with a relation to something perhaps altogether remote. This is the basis of neurotic behavior, and so we sometimes see persons protect themselves from a friendly touch or we see a dog recoil from a friendly greeting. This is a reaction, not to the actual sensation, but to the memory of a cruel experience in yoga poses the past. So in yoga poses our work, the mere invitation to quiet is often not enough, and we must devise simple means of inviting sensations in yoga poses a context of peace and security so that the actual perception may be recognized and distinguished from the irrelevant or neurotic component. (Selver and Brooks, 1980, 120)

Fenichel used actual body sensations to find repressed associations, whereas Selver and Gindler taught their pupils to differentiate actual sensations from old associations, and then focus on actual sensations.

Reich in yoga poses Vienna (1920-1930)

After Fenichel’s departure, Reich conducted the seminar on sexuality for one year. After his studies, he launched a career as a psychoanalyst that was as brilliant as that of Fenichel.

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