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Lederer-Eckardt, G. (1947). Gymnastics and Personality. Am. J. Psychoanal., 7(1):48-52.

(1947). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 7(1):48-52

Gymnastics and Personality

Gertrud Lederer-Eckardt

[Foreword by Karen Horney: Most neurotic persons have one or the other disturbance in their muscular systemsspasms, backaches, neckaches, arthritic propensities, weakness in moving this or that part of the body, poor coordination in gait and posture, shaky bodily balance.

Some of these are secondary adaptations to organic deficiencies such as deformed feet, or a curvature of the spine. But the ailments under which the patient suffers are often less due to the original deficiency than to the secondary faulty use of muscles. These can be corrected by competent gymnastics.

What is of special interest to the analyst is the fact that many muscular disorders are the expression of psychological difficulties. Thus general or localized muscular tension can be the expression of psychic tension engendered by the necessity to suppress an explosive hostility. Cramps in the neck or legs of an acute nature may indicate a spell of a destructive self-condemnation. A gait in which only the legs move forward while the trunk leans back may express a conflict between aggressiveness and self-effacementand so on. The analyst may observe at least some of such psychosomatic parallels; or he may be aware that complaints about muscular pains occur at a time when certain conflicts become more acute in the analysis. But here he tends to be over-confident. Since the faulty movements or posture are determined by psychic factors, he expects them to disappear automatically when the particular neurotic difficulties are straightened out.

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