The Self-regulating Capacity of the body. – in SOV Vegetotherapy – By Kjell Standal Norway
One of Reich’s (1371,1976) basic theories was that the organism possesses a self-regulating mechanism which pervades it on all levels and that this is functioning independently of whether it may develop freely or not. lt is the biological life of the organism.
A great deal of this self-regulating capacity/ability is, as it seems confirmed in infant research, Stern (1985) and Trevarten (1987), show that the child’s self-regulating ability is very well developed already from birth. This is true not only for the ability to take the initiative in and to enter into communicative relations on the emotional level, but also in the capability to say stop if it goes too far. (Turning away, closing the eyes, writhing, crying etc.) This capability to say stop if things become too difficult has not disappeared in the patients, but it must have the opportunity to work and develop. Precisely this ability to speak up, bodily, emotionally and verbally is in my opinion, basically the self-regulation of the organism. Development of this ability tells us that the therapy is on the right road.
This involves among other things, the capacity of setting limits for others in relation to oneself as an individual, but also for oneself in relation to others, something which can only occur if the individual has developed its own limits.
It seems to me that this self-regulating ability/capacity is always intact in man, even if it occurs in a stunted adaptation to life, severe somatic dysfunctions, psychic tragedies and similar things. First and foremost, we notice this in the child who tries to survive in the way which is for him the best possible, and that he makes use of the existing resources in the best possible way. That this may lead to withdrawal, denial, dysfunction etc., can only be regarded as what was then the best solution to life crisis’s, and a way to go on living.
In my view, this self-regulating capacity is present in the most damaged, and always accessible as a healing force. This does not mean that any individual without help can make use of the potentials which this self-regulating force has, but it is there. It is the patient’s biological vitality and therefore unconscious in its function.
Then: Self-regulation is working, even in the organism’s dysfunction.
Regarding the body’s self- regulating capacity, touching/manipulating of the patient’s body by the therapist will be contra-indicated. The patient himself will return to his own growth promoting self- regulating capacity if he is permitted to do this in his own tempo.
This also implies a consistent attitude to the fact that the patient if allowed to develop freely in the therapeutic relationship, “does not take on more than he can carry”. In my opinion, you may risk disturbing, eliminating or hampering this growth-promoting self-regulating capacity in the patient if you interfere with the organisms bodily boundaries.
There may as well be a danger that a sort of opinion about and a demand for how the patient should function may develop. This can happen through the transference of a scope of understanding which the therapist has, and may be implanted in the patient through unconscious bodily demands from the therapeut. A struggle also may arise between the therapeut and the patient about what is “right”, and the patient may again be exposed to demands about “what is right” and “how he ought to behave”, and maybe worst, the demand that the patient’s body must be accessible to the therapist.