Academic journal article Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal

Individuation, Mutual Connection and the Body's Resources: An Interview with Lisbeth Marcher

Academic journal article Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology Journal

Individuation, Mutual Connection and the Body's Resources: An Interview with Lisbeth Marcher

Article excerpt

Because of new research into child development, the developmental perspective has captured the attention of the therapeutic community for the last 15 years, and it is transforming the way therapy is being carried out. Most schools of body psychotherapy have also been deeply impacted by this shift, but most have had to rely on theories that address primarily psychological development to inform their work. In this interview I discuss the formation of a truly somatically based theory of human development with its founder, Lisbeth Marcher. While this theory complements the ideas of Mahler, Stern and other modern developmental theorists, it has also arrived at unique conclusions about the nature of being human.

Marcher is a Danish body psychotherapist who has conducted her own extensive research into psychomotor development over the last 20 years. By testing the psychological content of each muscle independently of others, and by studying when each of these muscles first becomes activated in the sequence of psychomotor development, she has acquired enormous range and accuracy in interpreting body structure and process. She is comfortable on the one hand exploring intrauterine, birth and early infant states, and on the other, having done original research on somatic aspects of peer and group relations, she is at ease exploring the territory of later childhood and adolescence, areas often ignored by other developmental theories. David Boadella, the noted Reichian scholar, has called her "the Scandinavian legacy of Wilhelm Reich" and goes on to say that her system, called Bodynamics, offers one of the most advanced character structure models to come out of the new generation of body therapies emerging in Europe.

In this interview we focused on what might be called the "metasomatics'Ofher theory, the over-arching ideas from which she works. One of these is her belief that the driving force in humans is the desire to be connected to others and to the larger oneness that surrounds us. She calls this the drive toward mutual connection and holds that the essential field for this connection resides in the body. Another central idea is that of somatic resource which relates to the potential integrating function of the psychomotor patterns which she evokes in her clients. It is not enough, she says, to re-experience traumatic situations to heal them. We need then to go on and create a new psychomotor imprint and activate resources hidden in the body. I spoke with her as she was preparing a presentation of her work on rebirthing infants and children at the 1991 pre- and perinatal-psychology conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Peter Bernhardt: As I see it, body psychotherapy has been in something of an identity crisis for the last ten years. Many therapists I know have distanced themselves from the emotional release work so prevalent in the sixties and seventies, and are moving away from working with the body to a more purely psychotherapeutic stance. On the other hand, I see a number of systems emerging that reeducate or retrain the body which don't really make the therapeutic-in the sense of resolving "psychological conflicts"-a clearly stated goal. From what I know of your work, it seems that you have managed both to keep therapy at the heart of what you do, and to have kept the body at the center of the therapy process. How is this possible for you?

Lisbeth Marcher: It comes from my belief that our basic drive is toward being connected to other people, what I have called the drive toward mutual connection. This means that people who come to me are ultimately struggling to be in relationship. Opening relationships is the essence of therapy-and of life-so I can't abandon that goal. And I can't separate my understanding of relationship from the body and body awareness. It is through body awareness that we sense ourselves in retotion to the other. The more body awareness we can attainwhich includes an awareness of sensation, energy and emotion-the more we are able to establish deep connections to others. …

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