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Ogden, P. (2012). Commentary on Paper by Ellen F. Fries. Psychoanal. Dial., 22(5):606-615.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 22(5):606-615

Commentary on Paper by Ellen F. Fries

Pat Ogden, Ph.D.

In Perchance to Sleep: Minding the Unworded Body in Psychoanalysis, Ellen F. Fries masterfully articulates the complexities of right-brain to right-brain, body-to-body interactions between herself and her patient. Her work highlights the dominance of the nonverbal implicit self over the verbal, explicit self and provides an excellent example of clinical work in which she thoughtfully attends to the unspoken, bodily based communication that takes place within the therapeutic dyad. In this discussion, I offer perspectives from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy on the impact of early attachment on the procedural organization of action sequences that reflect and sustain the implicit self, and embody unconscious relational expectations. The following topics are addressed: (a) Physical actions that provide avenues of exploration into the implicit self, especially actions such as reaching out, making eye contact, or maintaining an upright posture that are abandoned or distorted when they are ineffective in eliciting the desired response from attachment figures; (b) Body-oriented interventions that target the involuntary physical spasms that Fries' patient experiences, which are associated with unresolved physiological arousal originally stimulated in the face of trauma; and (c) The nonverbal manifestation and negotiation of enactments that emerge from the body-to-body dialogue between the implicit selves of patient and therapist.

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