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Otto Fenichel & Wilhelm Reich: The father and the hidden uncle of body psychotherapy* B Y M ICHAEL C OSTER H ELLER, D R. P HIL P SYCHOLOGIST & P SYCHOTHERAPIST.

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Presentation on theme: "Otto Fenichel & Wilhelm Reich: The father and the hidden uncle of body psychotherapy* B Y M ICHAEL C OSTER H ELLER, D R. P HIL P SYCHOLOGIST & P SYCHOTHERAPIST."— Presentation transcript:

1 Otto Fenichel & Wilhelm Reich: The father and the hidden uncle of body psychotherapy* B Y M ICHAEL C OSTER H ELLER, D R. P HIL P SYCHOLOGIST & P SYCHOTHERAPIST FSP/AVP/EABP R UE DU M AUPAS 10, CH-1004 L AUSANNE C ONTACT AND ARTICLES : WWW. AQUALIDE. CH WWW. AQUALIDE. CH *A CHAPTER IN : Michel Heller, 2008, Les psychothérapies corporelles. Louvain: De Boeck. English version to be published by Norton publishers. V IENNA, 12 TH EABP C ONGRESS

2 Even if I summarize the data, the Reich-Fenichel relationship yields so much crucial information that I may not have time to tell you all I would want to. Instead of rushing you through more data than you can take, I will put my power point presentation on my website, next week, so that you can look at the information at a leisurely space. I thank Johannes Reichmayr for some of the facts on Otto Fenichel contained in this presentation. My website:

3 1897: Birth of Otto Fenichel in Vienna, capital of the Austro- Hungarian Empire 1915: Otto Fenichel enters the Faculty of medicine in Vienna 1897: Birth of Wilhelm Reich in Galicia, which was the part of Austrian Ukraine 1915: Wilhelm Reich is enrolled in the Austrian army

4 1916: Otto Fenichel joins Jewish Marxist youth movement, who are fighting for a new way of dealing with sexual politics and morals. Otto Fenichel follows Freud’s conferences : Otto Fenichel creates the Seminar on sexology in the medical faculty 1918: Wilhelm Reich enters the Faculty of medicine in Vienna. He is an emigrant from the periphery of the empire : Wilhelm Reich becomes a student in Otto Fenichel’s seminar on sexology in the medical faculty

5 What Wilhelm Reich discovered in Otto Fenichel’s sexual seminar: -Youth movements and sexual revolution -A humanist form of Marxism -Sexology -Freud -The psychoanalysis of Ferenczi EABP Congress, Vienna 2010

6 1915: Otto Fenichel enters the Faculty of medicine in Vienna 1916: Fenichel follows Freud’s conferences : Otto Fenichel creates the Seminar on sexology in the medical faculty 1918: Wilhelm Reich enters the Faculty of medicine in Vienna : Wilhelm Reich becomes a student in Otto Fenichel’s seminar on sexology in the medical faculty

7 - Vienna is now the capital of the Austrian Republic. It remains one of the capitals of German culture (e.g. It is still the center of classical psychoanalysis, as Freud is in Vienna). - The German empire becomes the Weimar republic. It now becomes the only important German speaking country. Berlin is gradually becoming the capital of German culture. (e.g. The Berlin Institute of Psychoanalysis, directed by Karl Abraham, is becoming the center of new psychoanalytic developments) 1919

8 - Otto Fenichel and Wilhelm Reich become members of the psychoanalytic Association, and the group of Marxist psychoanalysts, directed by Paul Federn. -They have their first patients. -They both follow a psychoanalysis with Paul Federn. Reich only receives a short treatment (a few months). Reich also has a short treatment with Isodor Isaak Sadger. - Fenichel introduces Annie Pink to Wilhelm Reich. She begins a psychoanalysis with Reich. She then becomes Annie Reich. They will have two children together: Eva (1924) and Lore (1928). Annie Reich also became a member of Marxist psychoanalysts. Her friendship with Fenichel lasted until his death. 1920

9 Otto Fenichel belonged to the Austrian more socialist form of Marxism, close to Kautsky’s branch of communism, which remained close to Marx’s notion that communism should influence historical processes through democratic procedures. Wilhelm Reich belonged to the soviet Leninist branch of communism, which believed that communists should take power through a revolution. The Communism of Fenichel and Reich Among Marxist psychoanalysts, the socialist branch was dominant. Reich wanted to convert them to his point of view.

10 - Fenichel asked Reich to direct the sexual seminar and left for Berlin. - There, Karl Abraham and his colleague had created a Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute of psychoanalysis. After the war, Vienna was only the capital of psychoanalysis because Freud lived there… a bit like Washington is the capital of the USA. The New York of psychoanalysis had moved to Berlin. This where the new development were forged. This is where psychoanalysts developed the implications of Freud’s Second Topography (Id, Ego & Super-Ego) and the dynamics of transference : Berlin, I

11 -The institute offers the first serious training for psychoanalysis. It requires an in depth psychoanalysis and regular supervision. In Vienna this was not proposed because Freud did not want to be the therapist of all his colleagues. He wanted collegial relationships. In Berlin there was enough eminent psychoanalysts to carry out such a training program. -Abraham also created a psychoanalytic clinic for people who needed support from psychoanalysts but who cannot afford a classical psychoanalytic cure. Each person who wanted to become a psychoanalyst had to follow one patient for one year without pay, or support the clinic by paying 4% of what he earned in his private practice. By working at the clinic a young psychoanalyst could have practical supervised experience : Berlin, II

12 Most of the famous psychoanalysts of that generation are there. For example: Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Edith Jacobson from Germany, Melanie Klein et Helene Deutsch from Austria, Edward et James Glover from England, Sándor Radó et Franz Alexander from Hungary, Nic Waal et Ola Raknes from Norway, and Trygve Braatøy from the USA. Most of you have read at least one of these psychoanalysts : Berlin, III

13 In Berlin, Otto Fenichel fell in love with Clare Nathansohn. She soon became Clare Fenichel. They gave birth to a daughter called Hanna. This Hanna is not the same Hanna who became Fenichel’s second wife, in California. The reason why we need to include this marriage in our discussion is that Clare Fenichel was also a teacher in gymnastics, trained by Elsa Gindler, who was presented to you this morning by Ulf Geuter. Fenichel and Gindlerian gymnastics ( ), I

14 - Otto Fenichel followed Elsa Gindler’s school, where he discovered body work. There he got rid of his migraines which nobody, including his psychotherapists, could cure. - As we shall see in Johannes Reichmayr’s presentation, Fenichel began to imagine that one could use gymnastics and psychoanalysis as complementary modes of intervention for certain person’s. Fenichel and Gindlerian gymnastics ( ), II

15 To integrate gymnastics into psychoanalysis, Fenichel developed the following formulation the relation between Ego and motor functions imagined by Freud: « The ego is first and foremost a body-ego, » says Freud in The Ego and the Id, and he means by this that the distinction between ego-and non-ego is first learned by the infant in the discovery of its body in such a way that in its world of ideas its own body begins to be set off from the rest of the environment. (Otto Fenichel 1938, The drive to amass wealth: 97) Fenichel and Gindlerian gymnastics ( ), III

16 -He developed a model in which the libido coordinated the mental, physiological and body dimensions. In this model all these dimensions continuously influenced each other. -What psychoanalysts called resistances structured the following dimensions: Ways of thinking, instinctual dynamics, muscular tone (hypertone and hypotone), breathing, metabolism, and the texture of the skin. -Each of these dimensions allowed the therapist to contact specific dimensions of emotional and psychological dynamics. Fenichel and Gindlerian gymnastics ( ), IV

17 -Otto and Clare Fenichel organized seminars in the psychoanalytic institute, on psychoanalysis, gymnastics and breathing. -In 1928 Fenichel published an article on organ Libidinization, in which he described how gymnastics and psychoanalysis could be used as complementary modes of intervention to explore the dynamics of the emotions and of the mind. For him body and mind function in clearly differentiated ways, that nevertheless interact with each other within the organism. Fenichel and Gindlerian gymnastics ( ), V

18 -Because body and mind do not function in the same way, they need to be approached through different methods. This was at least the vision Otto fenichel and Elsa Gindler, who never tried to combine their methods with a single process, but who sometimes recommended to a patient that he could follow both forms of treatment in parallel. -Here is an example: Fenichel and Gindlerian gymnastics ( ), VI

19 A patient reported that her gymnastics teacher continually called her attention to the intensity with which she kept her neck and throat musculature in a constant spastic tension. Attempts to loosen this tension only increased it. The analysis showed that as a child the patient saw a pigeon’s head being torn off and the headless pigeon still moving its wings a few times. This experience lent her castration complex a lasting form: she had an unconscious fear of being behaded, and this fear also manifested itself in numerous other symptoms, modes of behavior, and directions of interest. (Otto Fenichel, Organ Libidinization, I: 133) Fenichel and Gindlerian gymnastics ( ), VII

20 In this example it is the gymnastic teacher who isolates a body phenomenon that should be explored by the psychoanalyst. The psychoanalyst discovers what unconscious situation is related to that body phenomenon. He also discovers that transference prevented the gymnastic teacher from being efficient. The patient identified herself with the pigeon and the gymnastic teacher to the force that cut the pigeon’s head. In other cases, as with Fenichel’s headaches, it is the gymnastic teacher that holds the relevant handle to explore a symptom, not the psychoanalyst. Fenichel and Gindlerian gymnastics ( ), VIII

21 It is probably in the context of these discussions that Berliner analysts became interested in psychosomatics. The most famous of these was Franz Alexander, who later, in the USA, like Fenichel, also integrated Cannon’s organismic model of homeostasis. This is the nest in which Reich developed in own form of integration of body and mind dynamics in the organism. The theme of body and psychoanalysis was a hot issue for several members of the Berlin Institute. Reich brought many creative issues into this discussion.

22 In Vienna Reich developed the following themes: 1.The libido generates stasis when it cannot express itself through orgasm. It will then generate neurosis as described in Freud’s model. Orgasm is a basic reference model of how all the dimensions of two organisms can interact with each other in a constructive and synergic way. 2.Reich participates in the creation of a Viennese clinic which more or less worked like the Berlin clinic. There he studied the sexual behavior of people. 3.He directed a training seminar where supervision of young psychoanalysts was used to improve their technique. It is in this context that he created his first model of Character Analysis. Reich in Vienna ( ), I

23 -Reich became interested in the biological concept of the organism, on the organism as an individual organism capable of self regulation while it interacted with is environment. This notion was fashionable in many intellectual circles in these days. -This individual system has its own particular biological or life energy, which forces biological organisms to evolve and look for increasingly efficient and functional modes of functioning. -For the moment he does not know what to do with this interest. Reich in Vienna ( ), II: Organismic approach

24 - The psychoanalytic Character Analysis focused on behavior and non verbal communication to contact the emotions that are associated to representations in the mind. - When I use the term body, I used it in its most restricted sense, referring to posture and muscular tone, as in Gindler’s gymnastics. This type of body work does not yet exist in Reich’s thinking, except, sometimes, when he speaks of sexual behavior and physiological arousal. Reich in Vienna ( ), III: psychoanalytic Character Analysis

25 In 1930, the Reich’s move to Berlin. There they are welcomed by the Fenichel’s. Reich is presented to every one not only as a close collaborator of Freud, but as Otto Fenichel’s best friend. - Annie and Eva Reich follow courses of Gindlerian gymnastic with Clare Fenichel. They seem to love it and speak of it to Wilhelm Reich. Annie and Eva Reich (6 years old) are thus those who introduced body work to Reich. - Wilhelm Reich falls in love with Elsa Lindenberg. She is a ballet dancer who was trained by, among others, Rudolph Laban, who is still very influential in dance therapy and a reference in studies of nonverbal communication. Reich in Berlin ( ): The discovery of Fenichel’s body

26 -It is during this period that Reich slowly but surely begins to include interventions on the body, using message and breathing techniques, during his sessions. It is therefore, once again clearly under the influence of Fenichel that Reich began to combine body work within the same sessions. Reich in Berlin ( ): The discovery of Fenichel’s body, II

27 -We thus have two forms of psychoanalytical body psychotherapy by 1933: -1. The Fenichel-Gindler way of associating a body work that is sensitive to the mind (Gindler’s gymnastics) and an approach of the mind that is sensitive to body dynamics (Fenichel’s approach). -2. The Reichian method which includes highly simplistic body techniques in a psychoanalytic treatment. Reich in Berlin ( ): The discovery of Fenichel’s body, II

28 -History now intrudes it what was a smooth story, with the following events: - Reich is also an important member of the German Communist Party and of the communist youths. He is also involved in his sexual revolution project, in which he wants to include new sexual politics, based on institutional and political reforms- -Hitler is elected, promoting war on Communism and Jews alike. The crisis : 1933 – 1935, I

29 -For political reasons he is simultaneously, within a year, thrown out of : -1. Fascist Germany, because he is a communist and a Jew. -2. The communist party because in The Mass Psychology of Fascism Reich criticizes the communist party in ways that are incompatible with the rising Stalinism. -3. The German Association of Psychoanalysis, who wants to be able to survive in Nazi Germany. Technically Reich could have been recognized as a psychoanalyst again by enlisting in the Norwegian psychoanalytic association. This solution was supported by Otto Fenichel. The crisis : 1933 – 1935, II

30 -When Adler, Jung and Lacan where kicked out of the International Psychoanalytic Association, they developed their kind of psychoanalysis, without being able to really compete with the popularity of Freud’s psychoanalysis. -Reich did not want to finish his career as an ersatz psychoanalyst. He remembered his old pasion for organismic theories, and decided to create a new form of therapy which focused on the global regulation systems of the organism. The crisis : Reich abandons psychotherapy and creates organismic therapy

31 -Reich turned his back on psychotherapy and communism, leaving these domains to psychoanalysts such as Otto Fenichel and Annie Reich. -It is in this context that he created Vegetotherapy, and ways of studying the energy of life that had fascinated him during his youth. -At the same time Reich’s seems to be so deeply wounded that he becomes bitter and hostile with all those that had been his friends. These worried for his mental equilibrium. It was the case for Otto Fenichel and Annie Reich. The crisis : Reich abandons psychotherapy and creates organismic therapy

32 -Henceforth, the psychological and body dimensions only interested him as ways of influencing the global regulation systems of the body. He had no intention of creating a body psychotherapy, for two reasons: -1. He agreed with Fenichel and Gindler that one cannot not work simultaneously on dimensions such as the mind and the body, which follow completely different procedures. -2. He was interested on the mechanisms that coordinate and structure the mind and the body. -What interested Reich was to heal the organism by working on the mechanisms that generate thoughts, behavior and body dynamics. Such work would allow him to cure whatever occurred in these dimensions. Vegetotherapy: I

33 -When Fenichel wrote this article, he still believed that one could openly discuss with Wilhelm Reich on his Vegetotherapy. -This discussion summarizes points that have recently been taken up by many body psychotherapist (E.G., Peter Levine, Pat Ogden, etc.). Fenichel clearly saw what was problematic in Reich’s approaches. What he did not realize, is that Reich did not bother to remain compatible with notions that characterize psychotherapy in general. -This discussion only takes into considerations issues related to psychotherapy, and does not take into consideration Reich’s argumentation on energy : Fenichel’s Theory of psychoanalytic technique

34 -Fenichel still believes that Wilhelm Reich is one of the best psychoanalyst alive. -Fenichel agrees with Reich’s general proposition, that body dynamics and psychological dynamics are dimensions of the organism. -Fenichel agrees with Reich’s that the vegetative dimension of the organism plays a crucial role in affect regulation : Fenichel’s Theory of psychoanalytic technique: Fenichel agrees with Reich General Theory

35 -In the Vegetotherapy model, Reich proposes an analysis of the organisms in 7 segments. Fenichel is not convinced that the human organism has an organization that is as well organized as Reich’s theory on the organism. -For Fenichel, Reich’s general conception has already been accepted by many. He can therefore leave simplifications aside, an include more complexity in his thinking. Fenichel’s approach to the body is, for example, better informed (through Gindler) than what Reich is willing to learn : Fenichel’s Theory of psychoanalytic technique: Fenichel disagrees with some aspects of Reich’s therapeutic techniques, I

36 -It seems to Fenichel that Reich believes that a defense system should be attacked, and that patients should learn to live without one. -For Fenichel, the defense system is the regulation of the mind. Wanting to destroy the defense system of a patient is as stupid as wanting to destroy is physiological immune system. He thus finds Reich recent way of working intrusive and dangerous. -If Reich could change this, it would enhance his technique, without requiring any change of Reich’s general theory : Fenichel’s Theory of psychoanalytic technique: Fenichel disagrees with some aspects of Reich’s therapeutic techniques, II

37 -The article contains several such critics which still remain valid today. They are integrated in several schools of body psychotherapy, as they were passed on by some of Fenichel’s pupils, like Trygve Braatøy in Oslo, and Laura Perls in Esalen (California). Those that use this analysis today usually do not know that these ideas initially came from Fenichel, yet his writings prove that this is the case. - Reich took this discussion as a personal insult and as a proof that Fenichel wanted to destroy him; while Fenichel just wanted to engage in a discussion on psychotherapeutic technique with some one he loved and admired : Fenichel’s Theory of psychoanalytic technique: Fenichel disagrees with some aspects of Reich’s therapeutic techniques, III

38 -In 1935 Fenichels group of Marxist psychoanalysts, which includes Annie Reich, meet in Prague. Their aim is to save their friend and colleague Edith Jacobson, who was imprisoned by the Nazi Germans. Edith Jacobson is also an acquaintance of Reich. Fenichel & Co. manage to save Edith Jacobson. They than went to America. -Reich has mean while become such an angry, bitter and hostile person, that the only thing he can think of is his ambitions. He doses not seem to have the least interest for what happens to Edith Jacobson. Only he is the victim of historical circumstances : Fenichel goes to Prague, Reich turns to vinegar

39 -All Reich can say about this episode is that all the Norwegian colleagues loved his new proposals, and found Fenichel boring. That Fenichel had used Edith Jacobson as a pretext, so as not show that he had been defeated by Reich. - He now presents Fenichel as somebody who became a Marxist thanks to Reich, and whose theory is mainly based on Reich’s ideas ( Oslo, ). From then on Fenichel was presented by Reich as an ancient student who had become a Judas : Fenichel goes to Prague, Reich turns to vinegar

40 Fenichel dies in 1945, I In Los Angeles, where he lived, Fenichel published The psychoanalytic Theory of neurosis, which is his testament. In it he shows that his interest for organismic processes is only one chapter, but an important chapter. This article states all the issues which, even today, body psychotherapists should be aware of when they work with the body in the spirit of a psychodynamic body psychotherapy.

41 Fenichel dies in 1945, II He shows that one needs psychoanalytic work for the psyche and refined body work for the body. For him, Reich’s approach has become dangerous, because it lacks respect for defense systems and the chore self. This model is relatively close to today’s models of body psychotherapy inspired by the neurosciences. Meanwhile Reich has advanced in his orgonomy, and now regularly combines body and psychological work in a global organismic model.

42 That man died of his structural cowardice, I cannot judge whether my publication of his misdeed which appeared in April 1945 gave him a push. In his book he plagiarized absolutely everything from me and since he was aware of this it must have been a terrible ordeal for him. Wilhelm Reich (1999). American Odyssey: Letters & Journals, Edited by Mary Boyd Higgins. : 335. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Chapter 16 in Character Analysis : Reich on Fenichel’s death

43 These are Reich’s final comments on Fenichel: That man died of his structural cowardice, I cannot judge weather my publication of his misdeed which appeared in April 1945 gave him a push. In his book he plagiarized absolutely everything from me and since he was aware of this it must have been a terrible ordeal for him. Wilhelm Reich (1999). American Odyssey: Letters & Journals, Edited by Mary Boyd Higgins. : 335. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux : Reich on Fenichel’s death

44 Conclusion Reich is the roc around which an organismic vision of psychotherapy could be built. When pupils of Reich (e.g., Alexander Lowen) decided that orgonomy was not a psychotherapy, they created a body psychotherapy inspired by orgonomy. To achieve this aim they began by integrating Ferenczi’s and Fenichel’s analysis to construct the psychotherapeutic dimension of what is now known as body psychotherapy. Finally, if I look at today’s discussion on body psychotherapy, I have the impression that Fenichel is the source of a river that changed as it found ways of flowing around the reichian rock. E.g.; Alexander Lowen (1958) : The language of the body

45 Modes of intervention in body psychotherapy Gindler: Body + Psy = organismic Fenichel: Psy + Body = organismic Reich : Psy -> Organism <- Body

46 Recommended bibliography Fenichel, O. (1928). The collected papers of Otto Fenichel, I. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Fenichel, O. (1945a). The psychoanalytic Theory of neurosis. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Jacoby, R., The Repression of Psychoanalysis Makari, G. (2008). Revolution in mind. The creation of psychoanalysis. New York: Harper. Reich, W. (1999). American Odyssey. Letters and journals, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Present synthesis: Michel Heller, 2008, Les psychothérapies corporelles. Louvain: De Boeck. To be published in English by Norton publishers.


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