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Weiner, H. (1974). Toward A Body Therapy. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(1):45-52.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(1):45-52

Toward A Body Therapy

Herman Weiner, Ph.D.

Man learns from his high priests that the highest wisdom is submission to the “inscrutable ways of the Lord.” This attitude, implicit among other animals, seems to be one of the most difficult achievements for man. Even when he adopts this as a philosophical attitude, it is largely confined to a small portion of his cortical mind. It remains a fitful fantasy while his muscles and viscera remain tensely vigilant. Man finds it difficult to relinquish all vigilance without courting an anxiety attack. He has internalized a constant foreboding of jeopardy. He may attempt to assuage this underlying insecurity by hoarding money and power, but to no avail. The knowledge of vulnerability and death persists.

Nor is it only the existential vicissitudes that afflict man. He is more continually threatened by the undigested traumas of his childhood than he is by existential or environmental perils. His incomplete traumatic experiences seek closure but are denied full expression and conscious recognition. In their stead, an endless variety of symbolic substitutions are somatized, verbalized, or acted out. Divested of their original, raw feelings, these symbolic ideas and repetitive actions are constantly in search of meaningful expression. Even in therapy, most often, the meaning of experience rather than meaningful experience is achieved. However, the repetitive struggle to both express and repress continues interminably. Indeed, in this sense, man is the only ambivalent animal, as he simultaneously seeks and denies the univocal expression of his feelings. That splitting off of affect seems to be the core of all his neurotic conflict.

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