Primitive Bodily Communications in Psychotherapy: Embodied Expressions of a Disembodied Psyche

Editor : Raffaella Hilty

Primitive Bodily Communications in Psychotherapy: Embodied Expressions of a Disembodied Psyche

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : May 2022
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 224
  • Category :
    Individual Psychotherapy
  • Catalogue No : 96157
  • ISBN 13 : 9781913494308
  • ISBN 10 : 9781913494
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With contributions from Gabrielle Brown, William F. Cornell, Raffaella Hilty, Brett Kahr, Mark Linington, Salvatore Martini, David O’Driscoll, Valerie Sinason, and Tom Wooldridge.

Every psychotherapist will be familiar with what it means to experience the hatred and despair of their most vulnerable patients in the midst of a psychotherapy session. Most often these patients will manage to express their feelings verbally, but what about those who never developed the capacity to speak? Or those who are capable of talking, but carry a complex range of unprocessed embodied feelings that cannot be verbally expressed?

Some patients must rely on another type of language in order to communicate their dissociative states of mind.

Primitive Bodily Communications explores how the ‘talking cure’ can still work when words fail and the body ‘talks’. Non verbal communication can be thought of as a form of body language and, even though this is a topic not frequently discussed, many practitioners have experienced working with people who communicate through the use of their bodies. The book does not refer to bodily communications as primitive because we see them as inferior to verbal language, but simply because they point to the beginnings of psychological development, to primary ways of being and relating, as well as to enduring aspects of ourselves.

The contributors explore the topic of primitive bodily communications in the context of intellectual disability, eating disorders, and bodily neglect, focusing on the communicative aspect of bodily expressions within the therapeutic relationship. A wide spectrum of clinical cases illustrates how these patients can reach a state of better physical and emotional containment and, when possible, of verbal communication.

Reviews and Endorsements

This is a ‘must read’ book for any therapist interested in understanding communications from the body. The papers cover a wide range of therapeutic approaches and focus on the interface between body and mind in working with trauma, abuse, dissociation, eating disorders, autism and disability ... The authors bring the body back into the foreground of the work, not just as an equal to mind, but as one end of a spectrum where psyche and soma are both aspects of an underlying deeper reality.
Martin Stone, training analyst and former chair of the Association of Jungian Analysts

This is a remarkable book that brings together a number of authors presenting their thinking with examples of an important truth: bodily communication from the patient and from the therapist. This theme appears in different presentations and contexts to integrate the human being at depths not explored before.
Stella M. Acquarone, PhD, Parent-Infant, Child and Adult Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Founder of The Parent Infant Centre

This enlightening book dares to tell the stories of patients often avoided or neglected by psychotherapists … It will be invaluable to experienced mental health professionals and trainees alike, as diverse psychoanalytic approaches are combined to offer a vivid and deeply moving picture of the treatments of those shamefully forgotten by so many and from whom we can learn so much.
Dr. Carine Minne, Consultant Psychiatrist in Forensic Psychotherapy

These essays show us the tensions, challenges and opportunities that occur when our clients use their bodies as a primary means of communicating their distress. These highly skilled psychotherapists give us a remarkable insight into how these complex communications can be received and understood in the consulting room.
Graeme Galton, Consultant Psychotherapist, Clinic for Dissociative Studies

Despite Freud’s dictate that the ego is first and foremost a bodily ego, theories of the mind came to supplant a more holistic approach in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis ... More recently, we’ve rediscovered that psyche and soma are indeed inseparable, and must be approached as such in order for treatment to succeed. Raffaella Hilty’s brilliant new collection makes this abundantly clear in crisp, compelling writing that is broad and timely in scope.
Dr. Steven Kuchuck, author of The Relational Revolution in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and Past President, International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP)

Table of Contents

About the authors
Foreword by Susie Orbach
Use of terms
Introduction by Raffaella Hilty

1.The spitting patient: speaking with sputum and free-associating with saliva
Brett Kahr

2. Working with primitive bodily communications in the context of unbearable trauma in non-verbal patients
Valerie Sinason

3. The sound of silence. Working with people with an intellectual disability who self-harm
David O’Driscoll

4. Patients who smell: olfactory communication and the mephitic other
Gabrielle Brown

5. Body odour in a psychoanalytic treatment: bridge or drawbridge to a troubled past?
Raffaella Hilty

6. In corpore inventitur: embodied countertransference and the process of unconscious somatic communication
Salvatore Martini

7. Revisiting the entropic body: when the body is the canvas
Tom Wooldridge

8. When the psyche shreds and the body takes over
William F. Cornell

9. Responding to trauma-based communication in psychotherapy
Mark Linington


About the Editor(s)

Raffaella Hilty M.A. (Phil) is an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist with The Bowlby Centre. She has worked as an Honorary Psychotherapist within the NHS for a number of years, and she now works in private practice in London.

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