A Brief History
Biodynamic Massage was developed by Gerda Boyesen, a Norwegian psychologist who introduced her theories into Britain in 1968. Her thoughts were original but the influences on her work can be traced back to Wilhelm Reich.
Reich, who was a student of Freud, moved to Norway in 1935. He believed that our bodies reflect our life history, that all neurosis is embodied in some way, a process which he called ‘muscular armouring. He introduced ways of working directly with the body armour in psychoanalysis using touch, movement and breathing.
While completing her degree in psychology at Oslo University, Boyesen received her training analysis from a psychiatrist who had been part of Reich’s circle. Her experiences of this integrated approach convinced her of the importance of addressing the body alongside more traditional ‘talking therapy’.
It is not unusual in Norwegian psychiatry for patients to receive physiotherapy. Boyesen, who was now working as a clinical psychologist in psychiatric hospitals, became curious about the changes that she observed in her patients who received massage as part of their treatment. As a result of this she decided to study to become a physiotherapist.
In her private practice, where she combined massage with psychotherapy, she developed her ideas based on her observations and a wealth of experience with patients. What emerged was a comprehensive way of working psychotherapeutically called Biodynamic Psychology, of which biodynamic massage is a fundamental part.