Welcome to the home of Fredericton Bioenergetics, the somatic psychology part of my psychology practice in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Bioenergetic therapy is a pretty venerable tradition, at least in psychotherapy terms. Contemporary practice of bioenergetics owes its name and lot more to Alexander Lowen, who developed and named the model in the 1950’s. Prior to that, Lowen was a student of Wilhelm Reich, who had been a student of Freud. Reich broke with Freud around a number of issues, but one of them was a belief that there is a real form of energy that gives life to the body. Freud had originally postulated this “libido” but backed off to framing it as metaphoric. Reich persisted, though, and spent much of his life exploring orgone energy.
For Freud and his followers, character structures referred to characteristic patterns of psychological and behavioural defenses. Reich took this a step further, suggesting strongly that people’s bodies would take on characteristic tensions and armouring as a result of the behavioural defenses they employed. Thus people who were round-shouldered, for example, could reasonably be expected to use collapse and helplessness as a defense when stressed.
This concept of body-as-character bloomed under Lowen. He kept Reich’s concept of energy, though leaving the name “orgone” behind, and developed clinical skill at reading energy patterns in the bodies of his patients. He also developed a number of body-based interventions to help people to become “self-aware, self-expressive, and self-possessed.” To be all of these three things was to be fully human, and fully oneself, and the goal for Lowenian bioenergetics.