L. Szondi

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The Latin Section

A professional Autobiography by Leo Berlips.


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 taker.

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 accident.

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 background.

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 for me.

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 psychotherapist!

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 neuroses.

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 results!

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 (sic).

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 to describe.

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 another part

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 the woods.


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 mechanisms.

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 results.

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 experiences.

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 70’s.

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 emotional release.

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 therapy)

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 ” andSchicksalsanalytische 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 individual’s life.


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 post-freudiens »)


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 world.

Your editor Leo Berlips,


© 1996-2002 Leo Berlips, JP Berlips & Jens Berlips, Slavick Shibayev