Although Calatonia and Subtle Touch can be integrated with any psychotherapeutic approach, one of the main references in Sándor’s work is Carl Jung’s analytical psychology.
Jung did not work directly with the patient’s body; however, he did not understand psyche and soma as separate “entities” either. Instead, he postulated that psyche and soma were expressions of a single, unified totality. For Jung, this unified totality can self-regulate and maintain its balance or “homeostasis”. It is regulated at the somatic level by the laws of physiological homeostasis; and, at the psychical level, self-regulation operates through psychological phenomena such as dreams, images, fantasies, daydreaming, mind wandering, spontaneous self-reflective states and other complex cognitive processes.
Like Jung, Sándor realized that psyche-soma self-regulation is interactive and mutually influential, since there is, in fact, no real separation between them. In this sense, his method promotes the homeostatic balance of these two poles of the organism. Thus, there is no “top-down” or “bottom-up” separation in his work – it embraces both equally – as it attends to the relationship between psyche and soma.
Some aspects of the psyche-soma relationship are briefly highlighted below:
Symbolic Body (“Subtle Body”, Jung, 1996)
This is the level at which the symptom appears. Usually, there is a symbolism to a particular area of the body that ties into a psychological problem. Bodily symptoms may also symbolize dynamics that are not acknowledged (for example, children might manifest illness as a symbol of their parents’ marital issues), or dynamics that are yet to be known and accepted, which cause extreme anxiety and anticipation, such as the unfolding developments of adolescence, mid-life transitions, empty nest phase, etc.
Ego-Development and the Body as an Organ of Consciousness
Jung (1907) considered the ego as “the psychological expression of the firmly associated combination of all body sensations” (par. 83), implying that the body is, consequently, the organ of consciousness par excellence. Moreover, “the ego-complex, by reason of its direct connection with bodily sensations, is the most stable and the richest in associations” (ibid, par. 86).
It is through the body and its relationship with the environment – particularly through the skin as the organ that mediates between inner and outer environments – that consciousness develops.
“As the organ of consciousness, the body is the means of integration in space and time, and out of time as well, when we refer to the integration of symbols. The body possesses a subtle dimension that interweaves both conscious and unconscious – it lives in both and bears witness to conscious and unconscious processes.” (Blanchard, Rios, & Seixas, 2010, p. 233)
“The body contains processes that unfold independently of our will or conscious control. From the psychical aspect, when one dreams, the body participates in the dream with physiological responses: such as screams, sweats, climaxes, cries, and so on. Furthermore, the body performs the expressive needs of the unconscious life with dream-experiences of flying, walking on water, dying, and resuscitating, which are in complete contradiction with the normal possible experiences of awake life. On the physiological level, the body remains partially in the unconscious throughout life, since it performs processes which we cannot access directly (for example, the working of our internal organs). At the same time, the body is available to perform at a conscious level at one’s will. Thus, consciousness and the unconscious share representation and experience in the body – a point that, again, attests to the indissoluble unity of body and psyche.” (Blanchard et al., 2010, p. 233)
Jung (1953) emphasised throughout his writings that an individual’s free-will and decisions can ”override” the psyche’s and the body’s ability to self-regulate, leading the organism to be out of homeostatic balance (p. 79).
For Jung (1935), the psyche also had autonomous mechanisms to self-regulate, just like the body: “The dreams are the reaction to our conscious attitude in the same way that the body reacts when we overeat or do not eat enough or when we ill-treat it in some other way. Dreams are the natural reaction of the self-regulating psychic system” (p. 123).
Jung (1958) also believed that the whole organism of a person is bound by self-regulation, including the psyche, although the psyche of civilised human beings is like ”a machine whose speed-regulation is so insensitive that it can continue to function to the point of self-injury, while on the other hand, it is subject to the arbitrary manipulations of a one-sided will” (p. 5).
For Jung, (1935) “neurosis is really an attempt at self-cure, just as any physical disease is partly an attempt at self-cure… It is an attempt of the self-regulating psychic system to restore the balance [that is] in no way different from the function of dreams – only rather more forceful and drastic” (p. 190).
Jung, C. G. (1970). Structure & Dynamics of the Psyche, CW1. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Jung, C. G. (1907). The Psychogenesis of Mental Disease, CW3. London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Blanchard, A. R., Rios, A. M. G. & Seixas, L. P. (2010). The Body in Psychotherapy: Calatonia and Subtle Touch Techniques. In Raya Jones (Ed.), Body, Mind, and Healing After Jung: A Space of Questions. London, UK: Routledge.
Jung, C. G.1953 The relations between the ego and the unconscious, CW7. London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Jung, C. G. (1935). Analytical Psychology – Its Theory and Practice. New York, NY: Random House.
Jung, C. G. (1958). The transcendent function, CW8. London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Jung, C. G. (1966). Practice of Psychotherapy, CW16. London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Jung, C. G. (1996). The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga: 1932, Notes of the Seminar. Princeton, NJ: University Press.