Existenzanalyse 2/2009

Me and my body

Attempt on a new interpretation of the unity of body and spirit

Emmanuel Bauer

Key words: dualism of body and spirit, unity of body and spirit, Aristotelianism, first and second realization of the body (actus primus, actus secundis), being a person, psycho-noetic antagonism

V.E. Frankl sees the relation between the spirit and the psychophysical as an antago­nism in which the spiritual person can and must defy the physical-mental organism and its ten­dencies. He therefore remains thought­lessly tied to Platonic dualism as well as the Car­tesian dichotomy of thought and extension (matter), leading to the risk of reducing the body to its mere physical dimension. New Existential Analysis is rather orientated to­wards the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of the unity of body and spirit and assumes the basic requirement for the possibility of being spirit and person in corporeity. Body expe­rience is fundamental for a personal organiza­tion of life according to Existential Analysis. This approach provides the chance to engage in the current discussion on a compatiblist or dualist anthropology and to indicate the original unity regarding the relation of spirit and neurophysiologic conditionality. The Aristo­telian inspired interpretation of the spirit as the second realization of the spiritual capacity of the soul serves as model, enabling it to attain the ontological quality of liberty, self-aware­ness and intentionality.


The Self in the Flesh

Existence and Psychosomatics

Alfried Längle

Key words: existential analysis, psychoso­matics, anthropological concept of man, existential fundamental motivations, psycho­dynamics

Existence is holistic being, i.e. embodied being in the world. Existence in EA is described by the existential fundamental motivations. They contain the psychodynamic basis which may provoke psychic disorders in the body. Drawing on clinical experience and derived from num­erous theories of psychosomatics and theories of resource-enhancement, an anthro­pological picture and an etiological understand­ing of psychosomatic diseases is developed, which also offers a subjectively felt link between the body and psyche. Hence a psychosomatic dis­order is characterized mainly by a blockage of the 2nd and 3rd fundamental motivations com­bined with an ex­aggerated reaction of the 1st and 4th FMs, thus resulting in the typical func­tional activism. Psychopathologically, one may start out with a simultaneous concurrent disorder, mutually inhibiting and therefore “masked” depression and hysteria. The personal-spiritual process of the appropriation of information is charac­terized by reduced re­ception of “im­pression” and development of “position-tak­ing”. – A case study exemplifies the descrip­tion of this existential analytical approach to psychosomatics.


Living wholeheartedly

Anton Nindl

Key words: Existential Analysis, heart fre­quen­cy variability, establishing meaning, approval

Metaphorically, overall wisdom has always been bestowed upon the heart in literature, art, religion and philosophy. Also modern natural sciences increasingly relate to the heart as a highly sensitive organ of percep­tion and communication for physiolo­gical and psychological processes, attribut­ing to it a central role concerning the regulation of emotions and of the self. Perhaps the syn­chronisation of motives, which can, atten­tively experienced in person, mark out the path towards the establishment of meaning and finding fulfilment, is steered by the hearts lively rhythm.


Partisans of the Psyche

The path of traumatic experiences going underground

Liselotte Tutsch, Heinrich Donat

Key words: neurobiological manifestation, somatoform dissociation, structural chang­es, trauma, specific therapy of traumatic ex­periences

On the basis of new scientific findings it is outlined how somatoform disorders can be generated as a result of not integrated, trau­ma­tic experiences and how one can understand this disorder as a typical posttraumatic consequence of the whole personality.


Body memory and life story

Thomas Fuchs

Key words: implicit memory, life story, Body memory, self, intercorporeality

Memory does not only comprise our distinct recollections of the past, but also the ac­quired dispositions, skills and habits which implicitly, i.e. pre- or unconsciously in­fluence our present experience and con­duct. This ‘body memory’ appears in different forms which may be described as pro­cedural, situative, intercorporeal, incor­porative and traumatic memory. The life-long plasticity of body memory enables us to adapt to the natural and social environ­ment, in particular to become entrenched and feel at home in social space. On the other hand, the structures accrued in body me­mory are an essential basis of our ex­perience of self and identity: The individual history and pe­culiarity of a person is also expressed by her bodily habit and behaviour. This concept of body memory is outlined phenomeno­lo­gi­cally and illustrated by clinical and li­ter­ary examples.


On becoming a woman…

Psychotherapy of a patient with severe endometriosis

Renate Bukovski

Key words: endometriosis, casuistry, Personal Existential Analysis, physical illness, phe­no­­menology

An existential analytical psychotherapy is introduced of a patient fallen ill with endo­metriosis against the background of psycho­patho­genetical and psychosocial aspects. The principal goal of therapeutic process was to accompany the patient towards a benevo­lent relationship with herself and her body, and to help her find a personal hand­ling of her illness as well as a good quality of life in spite of remaining symptoms. Through phe­no­me­nological

introspection onto the phy­sical and psychological ex­perien­ce of the patient and into dynamics of the relationships in her family of origin, ill­ness provoking and painful connections became visible and suited for treatment.