Bioenergetic Analysis

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The bioenergetic analysis is a so-called body psychotherapeutic procedure. It was developed from 1947 by Alexander Lowen , a doctor and psychotherapist.


The bioenergetic analysis is based on individual components of psychoanalysis , the character analysis by Wilhelm Reich (1933) as well as on Lowen's own observations and further developments. In his “Character Analysis”, when differentiating between character types (the term “character” is today largely identical to the concept of personality ), Reich assumes that the character, according to its basic function, is armored in every form against the stimuli of the outside world and the represents inner repressed instincts. The external form in which this armor becomes visible is historically determined. Alexander Lowen was a patient and later a student of Wilhelm Reich . Reich and, in his successor, Lowen, developed concepts and procedures to make the physical analogies of mental processes ("attitudes") useful both diagnostically and therapeutically.

Lowen's descriptions of the character structures are an approach to capture and understand emotional attitudes and the corresponding physical tension patterns in the concept of “posture”. In this sense, character structures represent forms of coping and security systems that the individual inevitably develops in order to preserve his own integrity in the area of ​​tension between his own needs and the reactions of his environment or his reference system. At the physical level, this essentially includes the restriction of vitality in the form of chronic tension that affects breathing and mobility.

The basis of the bioenergetic analysis is the psychoanalytic resistance and transference model ( depth psychological approach). As in psychoanalysis, an accompanied and supported process of becoming conscious is understood as "healing", with physical movement, feeling and perceiving playing a central role as the basis of emotional movement. Phenomena such as posture, muscular (tension) tension, emotional expression in physical movement, breathing patterns in relation to their function and development in childhood and inner emotional experience were divided into five character structure types by Lowen.

Character structures

The character structures are characterized by

  • typical behaviors,
  • typical inner spiritual experience,
  • and characteristic physical posture patterns

Building on Reich's concepts and his own clinical experience, Lowen developed his typology of character structures. The character structures of bioenergetic analysis are not always congruent with the personality structures of other contemporary psychological classifications. They are complemented by characteristic bodily patterns.

These ideal-typical structures are presented below. The concrete patient will never be identical to these structures. However, they can serve as a diagnostic and therapeutic orientation line for the therapist in the therapeutic process:

Schizoid character structure

According to Lowen, the schizoid character structure characterizes a tendency to split the holistic function of the personality - e.g. B. by the tendency to separate thinking and feeling. What the schizoid thinks often seems unrelated to how he feels or how he behaves. The schizoid withdraws inward (especially into the head and into thinking), which is accompanied by an interruption or loss of contact with the outside world or with reality.

The term schizoid and its meaning are somewhat similar to schizophrenia . But the schizoid is by no means and never has to be schizophrenic. Corresponding tendencies to split exist with him, but these are usually well compensated. The schizoid personality has only a limited sense of self, a weak self and significantly reduced contact with the body and its feelings. Schizoid have a weak ego boundary, accordingly hypersensitive and avoid emotional relations (see. Also schizoid personality disorder ).

Oral character structure

According to Lowen, people with an oral structure show many characteristics of the oral phase of life (baby age): lack of independence, a tendency to cling to others, reduced aggressiveness and the expectation to be held, supported and protected by others. Oral people suffer from inner emptiness and have strong feelings of longing. They often suffer from strong mood swings. In the compensated form, these people behave exaggeratedly independently (see also dependent personality disorder ).

Psychopathic character structure

Lowen describes the denial of feelings, especially sexual feelings, as a typical feature of the psychopathic structure. The psychopathic character strives for power and wants to control or dominate other people. He uses pressure or manipulation (seduction) as a means. These people strive to be “under control”. Mostly they suppress, deny and compensate for their experiences of powerlessness and helplessness, through which they feel latently threatened (see psychopathy ).

Masochistic character structure

People with this structure suffer from significant feelings of inferiority, act undemanding, behave submissively and try to adapt and subordinate themselves. However, they show a strong latent defiant and persistent passive defense, which they reveal when there is sufficient external pressure; inside, the masochistic character harbors feelings of hate, negativism and superiority. A strong muscle structure curbs the impending emotional explosion. Self-assertion and aggression are strongly inhibited in this type of character. Instead, complaints and whining prevail in the public image and the tendency to take on victim roles.

Rigid character structure

According to Lowen, the rigid character structure is characterized by a stiff, unapproachable posture, which is essentially caused by injuries to the parent of the opposite sex. In Lowen's developmental psychology, the term rigidity relates to the child's oedipal conflict situation. The rigid character is constantly on guard not to be hurt. He hopes to win and secure the love and recognition of his surroundings through performance orientation. Rigid people are competitive, strong-willed and willing to resist. Variants of the rigid character are the phallic and the hysterical character.

Phallic : The behavior is combative, rival-dominant and sometimes aggressive-hurtful. This is especially important in the formation of erotic relationships.

Hysterical : The mental life and behavior of these people is emotionally exaggerated, attention-grabbing and dramatic. They tend to exaggerated emotional reactions, the agitation of which is reflected in the vegetative body. They sexualize the contact while at the same time defending against deep involvement.


A central concept in bioenergetic analysis is the so-called "earthing" or "grounding". Lowen began standing physically with his patients in the 1950s. This had never happened before in a psychotherapeutic context.

According to Clauer and Winkler, grounding is understood as

  • standing and walking upright in the gravitational field of the earth (contact with the ground, stability and independence)
  • Sensory contact with all areas of one's own physicality, as rooted in the perception of the body itself
  • Solidarity with one's own story, understanding one's own biography
  • Ability to enter into and maintain relationships
  • Ability to get through self-delimitation (spiritual dimension, transcendence)
  • Prerequisite for containment (emotional holding power) and dissipation of excitation into the ground (as a prerequisite for a lively sexuality).

Implementation and description of the therapeutic process

In the concrete course of the therapy, the bioenergetic analyst first “reads” the body (including posture, eye and face expression, quality of breathing, overall impression of the energy level). What is seen in this way is brought into connection with the complaints, the history, the prevailing feelings and recognizable cognitive basic convictions, about which a first common understanding is developed. When working through the conflicts and the characteristic basic problems, verbal processing and physical interventions go hand in hand, complement and condition each other. In this context the therapist also understands the transference offer of the patient and pays attention to his countertransference feelings .

Components of physical interventions are: "deepening breathing", "stimulating involuntary body movements", "working on emotionally related vocal expression" and stimulating the general energy level to deepen emotional feeling and expression tolerance.

In direct body work, one becomes aware of the blocking character of one's own physical and mental “attitude to life” as well as the emotions bound in it, which had to be warded off. Often memories are awakened that are causally related to the emotions that have been warded off. The linguistic processing is about the connection of the experiences on the physical level with the mental and spiritual "attitudes" and about an integration of the now alive personality areas. The process happens carefully and can open the way to a more satisfying way of life, to more joie de vivre, enjoyment and creativity.

Further developments

The bioenergetic analysts are organized in national societies and in the International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis (IIBA). In this institutional context, A. Lowen's concepts are subject to ongoing discussion, review and further development.

This discussion process is documented in the publications

  • Bioenergetic Analysis: The Clinical Journal of the International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis : 1985 to date
  • Bioenergetic Analysis Forum : 1993 to today
  • Body and Soul , Series of publications by the Swiss Society for Bioenergetic Analysis and Therapy (SGBAT), Volumes 1 to 8
  • as well as in other journals in the respective national institutes for bioenergetic analysis in Europe, USA and South America.

Members of the DÖK ( Austrian and German Society for Body-Related Psychotherapy - Bioenergetic Analysis ) expanded Lowen's concepts to include group dynamic aspects and introduced them as models - in addition to therapeutic work - to the consultation and further training of teams and organizations.

Special areas of application

With regard to psychosomatic clinical pictures, the specialist public has become increasingly aware of the importance of physical access to the disorder and its healing. But bioenergetic analysis, as one of the most important body psychotherapy methods, has a wide range of applications also in neurotic disorders.

The bioenergetic analysis is z. B. used in the following diagnoses:

Training of bioenergetic therapists

The training to become a CBT - Certified Bioenergetic Therapist (IIBA) is aimed at doctors and qualified psychologists as well as people working in the psychosocial field with the appropriate qualifications and legal requirements (permission to work in psychotherapy; in Germany: alternative practitioners / Psychotherapy). A well-founded 4-6 year further education (minimum requirements of the IIBA curriculum) with training seminars, teaching therapy and supervision leads to the conclusion of the further education with the certificate of the international and local institute. The curriculum is divided into three phases, whereby first the self-experience, then the theory and technique of bioenergetic analysis and finally the therapeutic process and supervision are in the foreground.

Embedding in psychotherapeutic care

Bioenergetic therapists (CBTs) work in psychosomatic inpatient care facilities, in psychiatric hospitals or are established in outpatient practices.

As the sole therapeutic method, the bioenergetic analysis cannot be billed to the statutory health insurance companies. The costs for an outpatient individual session are between 50 and 100 €.

Bioenergetic exercise groups are carried out in the field of health care and health prevention. They are qualified by trained bioenergetics therapists and bioenergetics therapists in training (with appropriate approval by the training institute) as part of their practical work or offered by organizations such as adult education centers or educational institutions.

Recognition and proof of effectiveness

In Germany, the bioenergetic analysis (like all body psychotherapeutic procedures and also e.g. the procedures of humanistic psychology such as Gestalt therapy and client-centered psychotherapy ) is not a procedure that is recognized within the framework of statutory health insurance. At the European level, bioenergetic analysis is recognized as a method by the European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP); trained bioenergetic therapists can receive the European Certificate of Psychotherapy (ECP ) from the EAP through the European Federation for Bioenergetic Analysis - Psychotherapy (EFBA-P).

The studies by Ulrich Gudat (1997), Ventling / Gerhard (2000), Ventling / Bertschi / Gerhard (2006) and Komeda-Lutz et al. Have been considered scientific studies on the effectiveness of bioenergetic analysis. (2003/2006) (see: Handbook Bioenergetic Analysis , Chapter VI: Scientific Evaluation of Bioenergetic Analysis .).


Original works

  • Alexander Lowen : Body Expression and Personality. Basics and practice of bioenergetics. Kösel Verlag, Munich 1981.
  • Alexander Lowen: Fear of Life. Kösel Verlag, Munich 1981.
  • Alexander Lowen: The betrayal of the body. Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek 1982.
  • Alexander Lowen: Bioenergetics. Therapy of the soul through work with the body. Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek 1984.
  • Alexander Lowen: Joy. Devotion to the body and life. Kösel Verlag, Munich 1993.
  • Alexander Lowen, Leslie Lowen: Bioenergetics for Everyone. The complete tutorial. 13th edition. P. Kirchheim 2003.
  • Wilhelm Reich : character analysis. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1970. Paperback edition: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1981.


  • Stanley Keleman: Embodied feelings. The anatomical origin of our experiences and attitudes. Kösel Verlag, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-466-34275-9 .
  • Reinhold Dietrich, Waldefried Pechtl: Energy through exercises. Self-published, no year, ISBN 978-3-9500094-2-2 .
  • Bioenergetic Analysis. The Clinical Journal of the International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis. ISSN  0743-4804 (until 2004) / Psychosozial-Verlag , Giessen (from 2005).
  • Vita Heinrich – Clauer (Ed.): Forum of Bioenergetic Analysis . Osnabrück, ISSN  0946-8846 (until 2013).
  • Irmhild Liebau (Ed.): Forum of Bioenergetic Analysis . Psychosozial-Verlag, Giessen (from 2014).
  • Thomas Ehrensperger (ed.): Body and soul. Series of publications by the Swiss Society for Bioenergetic Analysis and Therapy. Schwabe & Co., Basel.
  • Vita Heinrich-Clauer (Ed.): Handbook Bioenergetic Analysis. Psychosozial-Verlag, Giessen 2008, ISBN 978-3-898068680 .
  • Ulrich Gudat: Bioenergetic analysis as outpatient psychotherapy. Areas of application and effects. In: Psychotherapie-Forum , 5th year, No. 1, Vienna 1997.
  • Ulla Sebastian: Psychoanalytical Theory and Bioenergetic Analysis (= Theory and Practice of Bioenergetic Analysis . Volume 1). Vlotho 1983, ISBN 3-88811-302-4 .
  • Ulla Sebastian (Ed.): Self-discovery and bioenergetic analysis (= theory and practice of bioenergetic analysis . Volume 2). Vlotho 1986, ISBN 3-88811-307-5 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Chapter 5 (GoogleBooks) From: Alexander Lowen (2011): Bioenergetik. ISBN 3-644-41361-4 .
  2. Alexander Lowen: Depression: our time sickness. Munich 1978, ISBN 3-466-34007-1 , p. 38 ff.
  3. Thomas Ehrensperger (Ed.): Between Heaven and Earth - Contributions to the Grounding Concept (= body and soul . Volume 5). Basel 1996, ISBN 3-7965-1020-5 .
  4. Jörg Clauer: On the grounding concept of bioenergetic analysis . In: Peter Geißler, Vita Heinrich-Clauer (Ed.): Psychoanalyse und Körper , No. 15, 8th year, Giessen 2009, ISSN  1610-5087 , pp. 79-102.
  5. Susanne Winkler: The grounding - considerations on its importance for self-development . In: Forum of Bioenergetic Analysis , No. 1/2011, Osnabrück 2011, ISSN  0946-8846 , pp. 90-103.
  6. The body in psychotherapy , program of the North German Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis, 2012.
  7. Waldefried Pechtl: between organism and organization: Roadmap and models for consultants and managers . Veritas-Verlag, Linz 1989, ISBN 3-85329-7161 .
  8. Christa Ventling: Introduction . In: Vita Heinrich-Clauer (Ed.): Handbook Bioenergetic Analysis . Giessen 2008, Chapter VI: Scientific Evaluation of Bioenergetic Analysis , p. 513 f.
  9. Otto Kellner: “That's crazy here!” Bioenergetic exercise groups on a psychosis ward. In: Forum of Bioenergetic Analysis , No. 1/2009, Osnabrück 2009, pp. 49–69.
  10. See also Doris Asbeck, Jens Taschen: Body psychotherapeutic interventions in patients with a borderline personality disorder - inpatient group therapy . Self-published without specifying the year.
  11. Ulrich Gudat: bioenergetic analysis as outpatient psychotherapy. Areas of application and effects . In: Psychotherapie-Forum , 5th year, No. 1, Vienna 1997.
  12. Ulrich Gudat: research project of DVBA (abstract) . In: Forum of Bioenergetic Analysis , No. 2/96, p. 81.
  13. ^ Vita Heinrich-Clauer (Ed.): Handbook Bioenergetic Analysis. Giessen 2008, p. 511 ff.