chapter  9
Pages 28

Basic to vegeto-therapy and bio-energetics is the view that the discharge of feeling and the mobilisation of energy is an essential tool in the softening and dissolving of the neurotic character patterns and muscular armour. Reich’s discovery of the physiological basis of the Freudian ‘stasis neurosis’ in dammed-up biological energy, trapped behind repressive defences, opened the way to a deeper understanding of ways of releasing bottled-up emotions. From the original cathartic approach of Josef Breuer, working with hysterics, there is a direct line through the work of Reich to the ‘primal scream’ therapy developed by Arthur Janov.Many of these cathartic and emotion-releasing techniques have found their way into the practice of humanistic psychology and to the newer styles of group therapy popularised by the ‘growth movement’. Gradually it was discovered that, whereas powerful techniques of provoking anger or fear, sadness or excitement, may help break down the tight armouring of a rigidly organised compulsion-neurosis for a borderline psychotic person, such methods are fraught with grave hazards. The very encouragement of ‘letting go’, surrender to the involuntary and giving up of ego-control, which proved so helpful with rigid neuroses, were found to be questionable at the least and in some cases totally damaging and destructive, causing ego-fragmentation and precipitating psychotic breakdown with this type of person.