A professional Autobiography by Leo
SAILING AGAINST THE WINDS.
The Odyssey of a psychologist. By Leo Berlips. Written in 980721, corrected 030801,
Lets start with a
spotlight on the family background:
My personal development and the background
of my family will be illustrated by factors of the Szondi test. Right from the
beginning one can state that everything points out to that the Paroxysmal
Vector was the most loaded vector in this context. This vector is characterised
by the dynamic factor (e-) and the showmanship factor (hy) which were the main dynamic
factors in my family.
The male family members in both lines
were Adventurers, Legionnaires, Soldiers of Fortune and Seamen. My mothers
father worked as a soldier for the Americans during the American- Mexican war.
I remember still the red sable-hug scar on front of his stern. He was a real
Daredevil in his younger years.
My father was 36 when I was born in 1919.
He is an example of a typical factor (e) person, explosive and extremely active
and dynamic. He was more or less sold out as a 12-year-old boy to work on a
Dutch marine sailing ship, on board of which he met my mother’s brother, they
were of the same age.
When they got fed up with the hardships
of life onboard and wanted to get out of the marine they raised a red flag on
the mast of their ship early in the 1900. All the other warships were then put
in alarm. Of course they were disqualified and thrown out of the marine, but
that was what they wanted.
Later he got a job for to work for German
millionaires on a country estate. He was foreman and private policeman to
control poachers. When the First World War was finished he lost his job and he
had to take a job as an office clerk in a bank. Such a static job was a
catastrophe for him. His energies got no outlet but he kept to the job in
order to support his family. However this had as a consequence that, although
he basically was a kind person (his e+ aspect), he was most of the time in a
very explosive mood, like a powder keg. Always potentially ready to explode. He
could then look quite frightening. Szondi was absolutely right when he
described that such e- people look like “brazing bulls” when they are angry.
That was the reason why at home there was
always the feeling that a thunderstorm was looming up at the horizon. We lived
more or less in an atmosphere of continuous thunderstorm, always with a lot of
electricity in the air. (By the way this somewhat made me feel “at home” when I
later worked with primal therapy groups. Working with such primal therapy
groups certainly gives the therapist the feeling to be in a thunderstorm with
all the patients screaming like crazy)
About my father’s brother I remember
having heard the most incredible stories, he was also a real daredevil and risk
My father was a born showman/story
teller. (hy + aspect, “need to be seen, to assert himself, to keep up with the
competition). In those days without TV. entertainment he was very popular. We
often had every week many visitors during the evening who listened to his
endless adventure stories. He was a great actor and presented his stories with
dramatic temperament. One of his cousins, Charlottte Köhler, become a
famous actress, she did theatrical solo performances and could quite alone
spellbound big audiences. (sublimation of hy+ factor)
My mother was a very good-looking woman
with Spanish ancestors. The daughter of one of her cousins became a Dutch
beauty queen. My mother was intelligent but did not get much education. However
she had a great respect for knowledge. She had an extreme verbal capacity
(fluidity). She was know to be able to slap people verbally in the face in such
a clever way that at the first moment the victims thought she was caressing
them, till they discovered what was really behind it. She played somewhat piano
and had great ambitions for her children. She several children, by illness or
At the end of 1919 my twin brother (e
factor) and I were born. She had lost another child only a short time before
and only a few days after we were born my twin brother died too. During the
first years of my life she must have had a depression which I suppose must have
influenced me strongly. It is probably the reason why behind my surface of
being an easy going person a certain morose and serious character quality can
be found. In Jungian terms it seems that Saturn is always present in my
My uncles (mother side) were all extreme
e- types (adventurers)! One became an American submarine second mate, another
Hotel owner in Canada and the
third arrived during the Second World War in Nigeria. There he successfully built up a school (in Electro technique)
with several hundreds of students. Another uncle emigrated to the States but we
lost contact with him.
My oldest brother was also a real
adventurer. He was about 19 when he went to the Dutch colonies in the East (Indonesia). There he lived a very hectic
life, partly due to rather shady business. During one of these affairs he was
shot down but survived.
However his son, my cousin who was born
in Holland, became
notwithstanding the very chaotic conditions of his early youth, and in contrast
to his father, a very respectable high-ranking officer in the Dutch army. I
have great respect for him.
Nevertheless, without his knowing, he
demonstrated for me the truth of Szondi’s ideas about the influence of our
ancestors. During one of my visits to his villa I noticed, shown on the
sidewall of the staircase, quite a large serial of portraits of notorious
pirates. His latent ancestors could not be quite so easy suppressed!
My younger brother joined the German
army, when he was only 17 years of age. When I heard this I tried to influence
him to desert from the army and cross the Swiss border with my assistance.
Unfortunately he was then already too much indoctrinated and he refused to
listen to me. He fought in Russia and died on the battlefield at only 18 years. It was a great loss
After you have read this family report
you will understand that I do strongly believe in Szondi’s theories about
Fateanalysis and the existing of an active “family unconsciousness”, (although
I also do wholly accept the possibilities of the new way of interpreting
Szondi, the contributions of Pathoanalysis to Szondis original ideas).
In the years I described above the
working population in West Europe had not much education or culture and my family was no exception. Holland was mainly a protestant country
and had no tradition at all of the great nobility as one found in England, Austria or Germany. The
Dutch folk character is very individualistic, sceptical, always in opposition,
with no respect for authority, and has a total lack of pathos. Even the
wealthier classes show a typical Anglo-Saxon “grocer” mentality.
This depended much on the protestant
Calvinistic atmosphere, which was reflected by its extreme restricting norms:
Anti-dancing. Anti-movies, Anti-theatre, Anti jazz. All pleasure of the senses
was considered the work of the devil. The only positive way to get away from
sin was to work hard. (When I think about it is hard to believe that with such
an attitude actually children were born in this protestant country!)
Due to the loss of her children and her
depressions my mother absorbed easily these negative protestant ideas and was
also influenced by the sectarian Hallelujah preachers. They got a strong grip
on her mind. However she had a “personal God” who made it possible for her to
do whatever she wanted, without any pangs of conscience. She could have spread
fake money and still be convinced she was doing an act of charity with the
blessing of the Lord. (Remember anglo-saxon polítics!)
In families with such intensive affects
and such narrow protestant moral restrictions one find a fertile ground for
neuroses and much hypocrisy. As a young sensitive and rather feminine boy, who
liked to play with dolls, I did not suit very well in a family with the
background I just described. My father certainly did not appreciate such sissy
qualities. However in contrast I easily became my mothers little sweetheart. I
was an understanding listener and counsellor when she told me about her
complaints about my father. A nice start for a five years old young to become a
Furthermore it is easy to understand that
this combination of 1) an attractive seducing mother, who more or less has
fallen in love with her gentle, understanding little son and 2) a terrible
frightening father figure coupled to 3) the extremely narrow protestant
anti-sex morals created a first class and full blown Oedipus complex. The
consequences were that it produced a young boy with a typical (hy–) type in
Szondi terms: Cameleon qualities, overloaded fantasy life, very empathic,
being able to play many roles, voyeuristic etc. etc.
However in my early adolescence the (p-)
factor, that stand for expansion, more and more showed its presence! I wanted
to become a detective! (p-). Together with some other boys we organised a
secret society and did exercises in stalking, tracking, a kind of man chases.
In this period I got trouble in school, as I often bought weapons, hunting
knives, box-irons, beating sticks etc. (e-). This rather paranoid pleasure in
the “discovery” of subtle traces became a great asset later in my life. During
the war it helped me to survive during the Nazi period and much later on a
higher level when I worked with psychodiagnostics.
I must also refer to the very strong
influence of the introjection factor (k-!!) and its shadow k+!!) factor which
in my Szondi registrations later always showed up as the most loaded factor. My
Egoprofile was continuously (k-!! p±). For how can one understand otherwise the continuous drive and
thirst for knowledge and the forever-repeated question I put forward: “ Why do
we behave as we do? What makes Sammy tick?”
At the age of 14, 15 I tried to find
answers to this question by reading cheap booklets about psychology. Other
answers I got listening to the radio doctor, a psychiatrist who solved human
problems. He was the ideal of all the working class women, living with husbands
who did not understand them often in sordid poor conditions. This doctor became
somewhat of an ideal identification object for me. I wanted to become a
psychologist and be admired by women.
My intellectual horizon started at last
to lighten up by the discovery of Freuds “Introduction to psychoanalysis”, when
I was about 15 or 16. There I found solid answers on how to understand human
problems. Somewhat later I started ploughing through the 700 pages of Jung’s
“Psychologische Typen”, written in German.
The main knowledge in the thirties about
characterology or personality-makeup was presented by the GRAPHALOGISTIS. In
their books one could find a highly differentiated description of personality.
However already then, (around 1935) I read a reference to Wilhelm Reich’s book:
Character Analyse”, which I tried then in vain to get. (It took more than thirty
years when I started to study Bioenergetics before I could get hold of his book.)
Probably based on the reading of some of
the articles on psychoanalysis (or my p-?) I decided that a study of early
childhood might be important. When I was about 16, I got quite by hazard an
English book in my hands about “Child psychology”. There I read for the first
time about the Rorschachtest. By saving my pocket money I could buy Rorschach’s
original “Psychodiagnostik” in German and ordered also the test itself. I was
then 16 years of age. The owner of the library informed me later that it was
the third Rorschach test, which was imported into the Netherlands.
I feel at present really proud that I
discovered the Rorschach test earlier then many of the prominent psychiatrists
in Holland. Anyhow I studied in
detail Rorschach’s instruction book and have still a little Cahier with my
notes from these days.
At the University in Utrecht there existed in 1936 already a
department for the study of para-psychological (occult) problems. The docent
Dr. Tenhaeffe, who was in charge, became an international well-known specialist
in this field. His book about this subject I read with great interest and
became still more interested in psychology.
I think his book was the reason that I
started to experiment with hypnosis. In those days Dr. Berthold Stokvis wrote
the best known professional introduction to hypnosis He studied at the Leiden University under Prof. Carp, who was a specialist in psychiatry. It might
interest you to learn that Prof. Carp already in 1936 was one of the few
University teachers in Europe
who dared to accept the basics of psychoanalysis which was very unusual in
those days. One of his textbooks on psychiatry was about Freud’s theory of
Stokvis discovered a suggestion method
based on the physiological visual reaction when one looks at the midfield
between two colour strips. (one blue the other yellow). A normal reaction in
such case is that the subject gradually starts to see a green colour in the
midfield. Stokvis used this to focus the subject’s concentration on one spot
and to prove to the subject that his hypnosis was having effect. I made
successfully several experiments with this method.
However I created my own technique (!),
also based on a normal sensory reaction, by putting a hidden electrical stove
behind the subjects of my experiment which I gradually could turn on. By
suggesting the subject that he would feel more and more warm I got the same
I wrote to Stokvis about my “discovery”.
He worked at a psychiatric hospital and I was invited to explain my method to
him. He received me together with his staff. They were probably very curious to
see what an uneducated teenager had to tell them. My main memory of this
meeting is that I asked them for advice how I could realise my dream to become
a psychologist. As I had not even finished the most elementary secondary school
(!) they could not tell me much more than to go to a gymnasium or to try to
become psychiatric nurse instead. I never got their psychiatric diagnosis of me
My experiments with hypnosis ended
abruptly when I got a borderline artist as a subject, who quite unexpectedly
came into a kind of psychotic twilight state. I became dead scared and stopped
with my experiments.
However having the famous Dutch
entrepreneur mentality I made a shield on the door of our home, with my name
and the title Psychologist on it. To be honest it did not help me much. I never
got any paying clients (I suppose they were lucky). The only exception was
that, thanks to this shield, I impressed the girl who initiated me in what sex
meant. So it had still some effect!
I left the secondary school without any
formal certificate and was right away dumped into the mass of unemployed
people. However typically for me was that I used this time in a very disciplined
way for reading and studies which interested me.
When the war started in 1939 between Germany and England I tried to smuggle out a German anarchist to the West Indies. At the last moment he did not
dare to take the risk so I had to go without and work some months on a tanker.
I deserted on one of the West Indiana islands but was caught and sent back to Holland in 1940 just before the war started.
The war meant no more time for studies
neither for the luxury of having a personal neurosis. Instead I lived a very
dangerous life, with many adventures, illegally crossing frontiers, I was
sometime in the Gestapo “Untersuchungshaft” (prison) in Potsdam Germany etc. etc. All these adventures would take days
At the end of the war:
In autumn 1944 I succeed, after an
illegal border crossing, to return back to Holland, where my parents lived in a small castle , outside Amsterdam as housekeepers. There they had
built secret rooms were 8 persons were hidden away from the German military
police. One of them was a German deserter, which meant that we all would have
got a death penalty if they had found out about us.
Anyhow, when at last peace came, I
suppose my Szondi Sch vector would have shown a very inflated Ego (k+! and p+)!
During the war I had successfully come out of so many sensational adventures
that I felt I could do anything. However when peace conditions and a normal
live claimed its rights I had suddenly no ground at all to stand on. I had no
certificates, no professional training and no references. It meant that I was
worth less than nothing on the occupational market. This was a terrible chock.
Moreover I got several “post traumatic” symptoms: restlessness, depression,
combined with a abrupt sexual blocking, which – I think- partly was caused by
my unexpected collapsed and low self-esteem.
My reactions to these problems were very
typical paroxysmal: I got “on the road”. Szondi reaction Sch (± -): Ausreisser
Ich= Run away Ego, Flight, Fugue:) For several years I lived as Jack Kerouac,
who described such an existence as a hitch-hiker. One of my jobs I worked with was
as a press- and street photographer in the south of France. I took as a firmaname: “The flying Dutchman”
But being aware that I had to do
something against my depression and neurosis I went back to Holland. There I worked as a free lance
photographer about a year to follow a short psychoanalysis. A humoristic note
in this connection is the fact that, when I had no money to pay my
psychoanalyst, I sometimes left my camera in a pawnshop in order to get the
money to pay my fee.
However at the end of the forties I worked,
due to my knowledge of languages at last some time as a Hotel porter but soon
took a job as a tourist guide and tour conductor for a big Dutch Travel agency
(1950-1956). In those days I spoke already fluently Dutch, German, English,
French and Spanish and could understand some basic Russian. In Szondi terms I
was “still on the roads” ( a typical quality of the e factor), but this time in
better social conditions.
In 1956, when I was 36 years, I met a
Swedish woman, who invited me to come to Sweden where I arrived in autumn 1956. Sweden was in those days for Dutchmen like America, it was very easy to get a well-paid job. In the evening I worked
in a restaurant and made in a few hours a lot of money. During the days I
studied for fun books about psychoanalysis. It was during this time at the end
of the fifties that I got the first time hold of some of Szondi’s books. This
was quite a discovery for me.
Szondi made psychoanalysis become
concrete, visible and alive for me and I started experimenting with his test.
During this time I met a young man who
told me he would start studying psychology at the University in Gothenburg.
That sounded like a dream to me. He informed me that, although I had no high
school certificates, I could get a permission to follow the courses in psychology
as a none-official attendant. I registered as such at the psychology department
in Göteborg, studying at day time and working at a restaurant in the
evening. I concentrated my studies on personality analysis, projective
techniques and especially Szondi’s books. In this period I met Docent Dr.
Gösta Fröbärj, who promised me a great future if I would
seriously continue my studies in psychology. We became friends and he
introduced me into a circle of psychologists (Inga Allwood, Gerty Freriksson,
An Marie Ebenfelt) who all were interested in depth psychology. At last I had
come in stimulating company and could exchange ideas with them, I was then already
38 years of age.
During this time I read about an
abbreviated Rorschachtest, the Zulliger test, which consists of only three
tables. I got interested in this Z-test because I had observed that many
professionals found projective testing much too time consuming.
Experimenting with the Z-test I found out
that it, notwithstanding the shortened time for registration, it could give the
same basic information as from the complete Rorschach. This was made possible
by applying psychoanalytical concepts to the Rorschach responses. (These I
learned from Roy Schafer and Dr Fritz Salomon in their books about
Psychoanalysis and Rorschach). I became convinced that the Z-test showed an
optimum relation between the registration time and the information one could
get out of it. A great advantage was, In contrast to the Rorschach test that takes
about 40 minutes to register out, the Z-test takes only about 15 minutes. Moreover
the interpretation of the Z-test takes less time for interpretation.
At the end of the fifties one of the
university teachers introduced me to the managing director of a big company for
applied psychology. This firm had 60 psychologists who worked mainly as
vocational selection counsellors. I told the director that the Z-test could
save his company a lot of time and money, but although I got a friendly
reception he did not believe me. However fortunately for me, only a few months
later a Swiss psychologist Heinz R. SCHMIDT published a dissertation for a
Doctors degree titled: "Der Zulliger-Test in der Berufsberatung" (the
Z-test in vocational selection), which proved that my reasoning was right. That
book became my passport to this company. After I showed it to the director he
gave me a contract, notwithstanding that I had no official certificate at all
as a psychologist.
In my work I specialised in projective
technique interpretation. My successes depended partly on the fact that
a. the other qualified psychologists could
not read German or French psychiatric literature,
b) never studied psychoanalysis and for
c) on my (p-) function i.c. intuition. Referring
to this period I often say that I lived on my intuition, for I had not yet any
official degree yet. But already, after some months, I got the same salary as
the certified psychologists. When my colleagues had problematic cases they sent
me their projective test registrations. Based on these results I worked out,
often very successfully, blind-diagnostic reports.
Due to my knowledge of foreign languages
I was later sent to other European countries for market research, in order to
assist the local researchers (sociologists and psychologists) there. When the
big Swedish companies afterwards, based on these reports, decided to open up
offices abroad and therefore needed new employees I got the commission to
select potential employees. (“selection des cadres”). My international
background was then a great asset for me.
During many years I travelled regularly
by plane to France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands
and Switzerland. I assisted the
local managers to select the best candidate out of about five to eight
persons. As the applicants often came from different parts of these countries
and could only be present one day at the main office I did not get much time to
work with them. I got an average time of one and a half-hour pro person.
Because the manager interviewed them I worked only with a projective test
battery and did not make myself any interviews.
My test battery was composed of 1) the
Z-test, (which I exposed two times during the same registration). 2) some
graphological tests: e.g. drawing a fruit tree or drawing a person 3) some
colour tests, e.g the Lüscher colour test or the more extended Frieling
colour test and 4) an abbreviated type of the TAT test: “the Four pictures
test” and 5) if possible three Szondi test registrations. Sometimes when I did
not get enough time I had a double check made by sending a handwriting example
to a Swiss graphologist.
Since the beginning of my work I tried to
introduce the ideas of Szondi to my colleagues. We began to discuss if we could
not make a questionnaire based on the eight Szondi factors and their affinity
to specific occupations. (Rolf Kenmo an industrial consultant in Stockholm succeeded creating such a
questionnaire nearly 35 years later, see the Forum) However only shortly after
we started experimenting with such a questionnaire, around 1964, I read in a “Szondiana”,
published regularly by the Szondi Institute, that a certain Dr. MARTIN
ACHTNICH experimented with a PICTURE SELECTION TEST, also based on the Szondi
factors. I was so happy to read this that I right away sent him a long telegram
asking for an appointment.
Soon I met Achtnich personally in Zurich. At the same time a Szondi congress
was held. There I met Szondi him self and also Prof. Schotte who later would
develop “Pathoanalyse” which gave a new perspective on Szondis theories. For me
it was inspiring to be present at this congress. Although to be honest I felt
sometimes like a cat between the ermines, as I had not any a certificate or
official qualification to be present. However, Szondi and Schotte allowed me
even to be present in some closed meetings. You will understand that I am very
happy that, by means of my Szondiforum, I afterwards can show my gratitude and
appreciation for their encouragement and goodwill.
My meeting with Martin Achtnich was the
beginning of a long friendship, which lasted for more than thirty years. Since
then we regularly exchanged letters about our experiences and development. For
me his death in 1996 was a great loss. He was an inspiring person and a great
psychologist and has contributed much to my development as a psychologist.
During the first years of 1970 Achtnich
stayed in America where he
studied the New Age therapies. He informed me about Gestalt therapy,
Psychodrama, the “Guided Daydream” (rêve éveillé) and
bio-energetics, sensitivity training etc.
The 1970’s became a very important new
phase in my development. When the socialist government nationalised our
company, in the beginning of the 70ies, I started working as a private therapist.
I also married Gunnel then my present wife. When I met her she had worked for
more then 10 years as a clinical psychologist in Göteborg at the
psychiatric Hospital. After our marriage we started together with great success
training courses in group therapy for professionals. Later on we bought a
Psychotherapy Centre, located about 10 miles away from Göteborg deep in
My STUDIES IN PSYCHOTHERAPY:
The first year of the 70’s, I went
regularly to Oslo to study
Wilhelm Reich’s “Character Analys”. His therapy technique is based on releasing
the body tension (armour) and by this loosening up the patients defence
In the beginning of 1970’s I also joined
the first psychodrama group in Göteborg, directed by Mrs Inga Allwood, who
had become a good friend of mine. This experience was to have a decisive
influence in my selection of the therapy method that suited me best. I felt
this was the instrument I wanted to use. Soon I discovered that psychodrama
could be used as well as 1) an instrument for psychodiagnostics as it could be
used as 2) a psychotherapy method. Group psychotherapy has moreover the advantage
that a private person pays only about 1/10 th. of the price his individual
therapy would cost.
However it would take some time before I
could follow at an official psychodrama training. Instead I registered at the
University to follow a course in “Creative Dramatics”. Soon afterwards I got a
chance to register at the second psychodrama training group in Sweden, directed by Dan and Dorothy
Lefterie. They had worked for more than twenty years with the great Moreno, as his assistants.
In the mean time Martin Achtnich, who had
been two years in the USA to
study new therapy forms came back to Switzerland in 1973. His picture test (BBT test= Berufs Bilder Test) was then
completed. I visited him in Zürich the same year and was present when
Achtnich opened a new Psychotherapy Centrum in Zürich: “the PHOENIX HOUSE”.
Thanks to his generosity I could live there several months during the summer. I
was present when Martin worked with groups in the evening. During the day I concentrated
on studying Jung’s “Analytical Psychology”.
The experience of being present in his groups
proved to be most valuable for me. At my return to Sweden I made some publicity (hy) in my firm about my group therapy
experience in Switzerland. This
was successful because back to Sweden, I was offered a new job to work as a group therapist. Although I
never had worked as a psychodrama director before I accepted.
This became a decisive turning point in
my development. I left psychodiagnostics to become a group therapist.
The first time I worked under very hard
conditions. Not only that I lacked the necessary experience to work with groups
but also I had to work alone. In classical psychodrama normally the director
has a co-therapist as an assistant, who helps him in “warming up” the group.
However the company I worked for did not want to pay two therapists and I had
to do the job alone.
Another difficulty was that in my first
groups the members were mainly schizoid students with problems; it was next to
impossible to get them into action. However this difficulty forced me to look
for other and more effective techniques for “warming up”. Fortunately I had
some time left for studies during the day and I read a lot of literature about
the new therapy methods ( bio-energetics, Gestalt therapy, Primal therapy etc)
During these years I went often abroad
for one week training courses, e.g. in Transactions Analys in South Germany, directed by Berrt Hellinger.
He is at present world famous by his Family Constellation groups– a structured
short psychodrama method.”. Moreover, I followed courses in Bio-energetics,
Gestalt therapy etc. All these courses I payed privately. At Home again I
experimented with these new approaches. Gradually I got better and better
In the beginning of my activities as a
psychodrama Director I tried out relaxing techniques, coupled with
visualisation instructions. This gave the group members a chance to share their
A very important and positive change was
when I started to use body-therapies, such as intensive deep breathing and body
stress exercises in order ”to warm up” the group. This was a very successful
method and my training in Reich therapy became an asset. By loosening Reich’s
“Character Armour”,these warming up methods loosened at the same time the
psychological defences of the group members. It became easier and easier to
start with psychodrama.
Some time later I came in contact with
the different “Dynamic Meditation” methods of Bagwhan Rasjnee (Osho). He was one
of the famous gurus in those days. Especially his Dynamic “Hoo-Meditation” was
effective. As far as I know I was the first in Sweden who introduced these methods in Sweden, which must have been in the midst of the seventies.
The Hoo-meditation starts with 15 minutes
of intensive breathing, followed by 15 minutes jumping up with the task when
falling down to screaming “Hoo”, and finished with some more quiet exercises.
Still more effective but also much more
dramatic was the use of Casriel’s “Scream therapy”, a kind of primal therapy. I
participated in Casriel’s first training groups when he introduced his method
in Sweden, in the midst of the
It is an extremely simple method but it
claims a therapeut who has good nerves!
Casriel’scream therapy divides the group
in two halves, an A and B part. All the A- persons lay on their back on a thick
mattress, while the B-persons act as their assistants. This is done by having
the B group members “laying on top” and being embraced by the A-members. This
is psychologically experienced by the underlying person A person as having a
Big Teddy bear on top of him. A teddy bear who he feels he can trust and embrace
and who gives him a sense of security. This facilitates the A person’s
By giving instruction to the A persons to
repeat loudly some, for them adequate, emotional hard hitting KEY sentences like
“ I am worth loving” or “I do exist”, and at the same time incite them to start
screaming, activates an emotional chain reaction of extremely high intensity in
the group. It is a real an emotional “canned-tin-opener” technique. However the
presence of the B person contribute that A avoids a complete break down.
This kind of therapy is often experienced
by the group members as a “total catharsis”. For the therapist who has the
nerves to work with such an intensive method it is an relative easy method to
make a lot of money. One can work with very large groups,10 - 40 persons and
get very satisfied clients. For many it becomes like a drug to participate in
such groups, they get a kick out of it. However I discovered soon that this
method functions like a “catheter technique”. It is an excellent emotional abreaction
(catharsis) but does not much to loose, seen in long perspective, the defence
mechanisms. After some months the inner tension has been built up again and the
neurotic trouble starts again. That was the reason why I, under much protest of
many group members (!), stopped using this method.
One can say that during the seventies
several “waves” of new therapies were introduced in Sweden by smart American therapists who made a lot of money. Different
fashions followed one after the other.
One period it was Janov’s primal therapy,
which was in the focus. Its disciples made a lot of publicity. Another time,
“total liberation” was promised by the American therapists who introduced
“rebirthing methods”. I followed several courses and paid a lot of money to see
these different methods demonstrated.
During these years I read also most of
Stanislaws Grof’s books about LSD therapy which gave me quite new perspective.
Although LSD therapy officially was forbidden I got a chance to go such through
LSD therapy several times myself (by a qualified psychoanalyst). This was a
very shocking experience. Moreover I was present when Grof started his first
introduction course in Europe
and demonstrated his LSD-replacement technique, that he called: the “HOLITROPIC
Therapy”. This method was developed after LSD therapy was forbidden. This
technique reminds very much of primal therapy and became later the core of the standard
technique we used during the first three days of my “one week primal therapy”
groups. For opening up them.
Holotropic therapy was done in the following way:
Like in Casriel’s Scream therapy the
group was divided in two halves. One half worked lying on mattresses, the other
as assistants sat at their side. During two and a half hour the whole group was
in the beginning exposed to half an hour extremely loud and very chaotic “hellish”
music . This was followed by music with different specific emotional themes:
Russian bas music could be used to activate problems with the patients Father complex,
religious music to activate relation with Mother. Type like Wagnmer’s Walkyrie
music to tune in for aggressive tendencies, etc. ´The last half hour type
integrative music was used to finish.
Those lying on their back got often,
especially in the beginning, a kind of primal experience with screaming, loudly
crying and a lot of emotional ventilation.
At the end of each 2 ½ hour
session each member had, before verbally describing his experiences, to fill in
and colour a circle on a paper. (Mandala test). This had a standard format. This
colours and the interior design facilitated later the recall and would focus the
person’s experiences when he directly afterward verbally shared with the other
group members. The content of the circle gave the terapeut during the group’s
sharing the occasion to use his diagnostic qualities, by interpreting the
colours and drawings inside of the circle, according to Jungs Mandala principle.
For most of the group members this music
and scream session was such an upsetting, shocking and knock-out experience
that after three days most of their defense mechanisms were loosed up. This
created the right conditions to work the next five days through each group member's
problem individually, as a protagonist in a psychodrama.
Even my psychodrama technique gradually
developed. Because even after I had, in the first half of the seventies, finished
my 2 years training in classic psychodrama, I still continued my training in
other countries where different psychodrama techniques were demonstrated, For
instance combined with other methods e.g. bio-energetics.
However the psychodrama method “par
excellence” which became the decisive one for me was AL PESSO’s “PSYCHOMOTOR
THERAPY” >www.pbsp.com<. When Al Pesso, around 1972 introduced his
therapy in Europe I had the
fortune to be present right from the beginning at his. During several years I
participated regularly in his – then -open trainings groups, in Holland and Belgium. The advantage of his method was had the great advance that it made
it possible for me to reduce my working time with about 100% to around one hour
only! In this way I could guarantee the members of my week-end groups that at
least 8 persons during the weekend could work through their problems as a
protagonist i.c get a personal psychodrama, instead of only four persons.
This was made possible by the fact that
Al Pesso uses a “structured” psychodrama method. He speeds up the process by
using the body tensions of the protagonist to activate an individual emotional
“chain reaction” which soon looses defences.
After I found out which methods suited me
best and gave me the best results my wife Gunnel and I organised during the
next twenty years therapy courses using a combination of Grof and Pesso’s
methods. We organised two standard courses, one during a week-end and the other
one during seven days.
The weekend group was organised in the
following way: We started with Rasjnee’s “Hoo meditation”, as a “warming up”
exercise, after which we used Al Pesso’s psychodrama method. (psychomotor
The seven day course was based on a
combination of Stanislaw Grof’s “Holotropic therapy” ( Two and a half days) and
five days with Al Pesso’s Psychomotor therapy.
THIS COMBINATION I STILL CONSIDER THE
MOST REFINED,EFFECTIVE AND PRODUCTIVE GROUP THERAPY TECHNIQUE.. Although it
requires a strong personality to work with such intensive methods.
Another advantage I had in store was the
fact that, due to all the other types of training which I had followed, I had a
reserve arsenal of other therapeutic techniques at my disposition, such as “rebirthing”,
“visualisation”, specific bioenergetic exercises”, “Assertness training”. etc
.etc. I have only met one person who could use, in addition to his standard
therapy method, the same extended arsenal of therapeutic techniques, I refer to
Bert Hellinger when he works with his Family Cosntellations.
When we sold our former Psychotherapy
Centrum in 1992, I was 72 years of age and it became too hard for me to
continue working with primal therapy. However I continued some more years with
the easier task of training groups for professionals.
In the beginning 1999 I heard that my
former Transaction Analys and primal therapy trainer, Bert Hellinger, had
developed a new form of short group therapy, which he called ”Family
presentations”. In this form of therapy the ancestors of the protagonist played
and got a decisive role. Thanks to Hellinger’s generosity, I could be present
at several of his demonstrations in Germany and Austria. My
wife and me were very impressed and introduced his test in Sweden. (You will find an article about
his method on the Leopold Szondi Forum: >www.szondiforum.com>. It is written
in German and entitled: New Developments/ Intergenerations Therapy).
We introduced this method in Sweden and successfully worked with two
workshops, but by this time I had become seventy-six years of age and I decided
definitively to “close shop” and stop all my therapeutic activities.
Getting away from the active scene gave
me at last a chance to take up again my interests in Szondi’stheory and test.
Although after 1972, I had not worked anymore with psycho- diagnostics,
Szondi’s drive schema has always been my main theoretical reference. The
reason why I started the Leopold Szondi Forum on the Internet was that I had
written, in the beginning of the sixties, a summary about Szondis ”Fate
Analysis” in Swedish with nearly 200 pages. As no publishing firm ever was
willing to publish this introduction I decided therefore in the autumn 1996, to
use the Internet to publish my manuscript in Swedish. This was the start of the
Szondi Forum on the Internet I 1996.
Since then I have continued to extend
this Forum and to promote Szondi’s and Prof. Schotte’s ideas in many languages.
In July 2002 in Zürich at a reception I officially received a Tribute
(Laudatio”, speech) and a distinction, for my work with the Forum. (At the end
of this you can in telegraphic style read the content of this Tribute).
Before finishing It might interest you to
read what I wrote in the foreword of my Szondi summary in 1962:
<The Szondi test is a first class test
instrument, which certainly may be put in the same class as the Rorschach and
TAT test. Used together with these two other projective tests one can get a
real good ”cross bearing” of the total personality, This combination makes it
possible to define the clients most characteristic behaviour and level of
functioning. The Szondi test is especially efficient in analysing the quality
of the prominent drives (needs). In this field it makes a objective and differentiated
diagnosis possible and is an excellent research instrument.
Although the Szondi test may contribute
to a dynamic personality analysis, within the framework of a flexible concept
construction, it goes further than that.
Szondis contribution to and significance
for modern psychiatry is not limited to the Szondi test only. This depends for
a great part on Szondis role as a “Pontifex Oppositorum” in depth psychology.
He succeeded in a brilliant way to assimilate and describe the theoretical
contributions of Freud, Jung and Adler in his standard works.
In ”Triebpathologie” (2 volumes), ”Lehrbuch
der experimentellen Triebdiagnostik ” and ”Schicksalsanalytische
Therapie” you can find the essentials for an insight in the existing theories
of depth psychology, as well as a description of the accumulated experience in
this field and suggestions how to apply this knowledge. Szondis drive diagram
can be considered the most original and important part of his work
Another advantage, especially for
students of psychiatry, is the fact that Szondis method and theories make it
possible to reflect very complicated dynamic processes by way of relatively
very simple formulas. These can be used to learn, (memorise) in a rather easy
way the essentials of complicated dynamic processes, which result in
psycho-pathological syndromes. (2)
Szondi stenographic shorthand can be
compared to the way chemists use formulas to illustrate and indicate physical
processes. They remind us also of the transcription of musical notes in order
to describe a melody. Szondis great discovery was that he found the eight basic
needs (radicals), which in dialectical interplay shape the themes in each
Since I wrote this, nearly 45 years have
gone, but I am still quite convinced that Szondi, together with Freud, Jung and
Adler, belongs to the group of those great pioneers, who in the 19th
century have enriched our knowledge about human personality. Or as his
successor Prof. Jaques Schotte formulated:
He was “the greatest of the unknown, and the
less known of the great post-Freudian psychoanalysts. (« Le
plus grand des méconnus, et le plus méconnu des grands psychanalystes
As for my present knowledge about the
Szondi test and its development I am sorry to disappoint you somewhat. Between
the alternative to start studying in detail the development of Szondis ideas or
building up the Szondi Forum, I decided that the Forum was more important. This
put me somewhat in the position of a morse- telegraphist who facilitates the
communication of important messages but has not enough time to digest all the
interesting information going through his hands.
Well, today the 21 of June 1998, I have
come to the end of this description of my professional Odysseus up till now.
It was not a riding on the easy road but instead a
“Sailing against the winds”.
Since then I have continued to expand the
Szondiforum more and more.
As you can read in my Newsletter from
030801, I am very enthusiastic about the possibility to introduce Szondis ideas
by showing that the inner structure of the Szondi Drive Diagram corresponds
with Piaget’s different development stages.
In this quite unexpected way Piaget might
become “the Trojan Horse” by which Szondi can enter the world of the “Cognitive
psychologists” and become accepted (Salonfähig) even in this one sided cerebral
Your editor Leo Berlips,