Energy Psychology and Psycho-Somatic Phenomena

Published on 4 February 2023 at 15:53

Energy Psychology and Psycho-somatic Phenomena

In his book Experiences in Groups [1961 London: Tavistock Publications], the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion described a 'proto-mental' level, where the mental and physical are not clearly differentiated. A perturbation [to use a Callahan term] in the proto-mental system could manifest either as a mental or physical dis-ease. Thus Bion wrote: "Since it is a level in which physical and mental are undifferentiated, it stands to reason that, when distress from this source manifests itself, it can manifest itself just as well in physical forms as in psychological." [p 102] As J & N Symington put it [The Clinical Thinking of Wilfred Bion: 1996 Routledge. London] "With Bion, an illness, an accident or a vocal utterance are all 'speech' of the proto-mental system." [p 138]. Bion's concept seems somewhat related to our observations of an energy system containing information that manifests in both body and psyche.

One way of working with the energy system is to locate the particular meridians underpinning a mental state, guide the client to tap on these, and invite him or her to say whatever comes to mind. In this way the meridians are allowed to 'speak'. The information condensed in the meridian system, stimulated by a physical action of tapping, is thereby enabled to evolve into the form of communicable thought and symbol. Bion also considered the proto-mental system to be one that communicates between individuals - corresponding to the common observation of the way in which people form intercommunicating energy fields. He wrote: "in my opinion the sphere of proto-mental events cannot be understood by reference to the individual alone, and the intelligible field of study for the dynamics of proto-mental events is the individuals met together in a group." [page 103] However, whilst Bion's concept is theoretical, the procedures of energy psychology, including PEP, are atheoretical, being based essentially on observation of tangible and replicable phenomena.

Bion's concept of the proto-mental system helps us understand how somatic symptoms and illness can form. A state of perturbation may be denied access to the mind and go straight into expression in the body. These potential thoughts and emotions  have not been repressed from the mind, but have never entered the mind at all. Such phenomena can be observed rather directly through acupoint tapping, particularly if the target focus is bodily sensations. Using a simple phrase such as 'the emotions in my body' whilst acupoint tapping and making reference to somatic sensations, and encouraging the client to speak of whatever comes to mind, will frequently result in startlingly intense emotions and related thoughts emerging.

It becomes apparent that the meridian energy system may be the pathway that the proto-mental system takes when emotions are channelled into the body rather than into the mind. For example, a client reported frequently waking with violent pains in his chest. A thorough medical investigation found no cardiac problems. However, energy testing revealed significant perturbations in his heart meridian. Guiding him to tap on the little finger, heart meridian acupoint, and speak of whatever came to mind, resulted gradually in the emergence of intense rage relating to childhood experiences that had been triggered and re-activated by recent events.

Another important aspect of Bion's proto-mental system is his recognition that disturbance can be foreclosed from one person's mind but manifest in another person's mind or body. Such processes can be observed in groups, in families, and in couples. One person in a family may be unconsciously selected to receive and express the emotions disavowed by the others. In a couple relationship, one partner may hold and express the emotional perturbations that are barred from the other's conscious experience - and in this way one person may suffer another person's psychosomatic illness. Again, acupoint tapping with references to these processes can be both illuminating and relieving.

Phil Mollon PhD