- Much of my work is concerned with somatic metaphor, a
term which for me embraces physiological and
psychological reality. A somatic metaphor is an energetic
pattern in the body which both symbolises and expresses
an unconscious conflict. It can be an illness, or a set
of symptoms, pain, tension, or just a fleeting energetic
- Thinking through the body is really all about
exploring somatic metaphor - whether that means trying to
understand its psychological/physiological mechanisms
(see The New Anatomy at http:/website.lineone.net/~thinkbody);
feeling its presence and potential meaning in a clinical
setting (see Embodying Psychoanalysis at http:/website.lineone.net/~thinkbody
); working with it in a psychotherapeutic
relationship and/or with biodynamic massage (see body
psychotherapy or biodynamic massage at http:/website.lineone.net/~thinkbody
); or allowing it to be elaborated in Authentic Movement
(see Movement at http:/website.lineone.net/~thinkbody).
"And let me wring your heart" : Hamlet, and the
- This is from the middle of a talk I gave at the AGM
of the Association of Biodynamic Massage Therapists on
October 4th 1998..I am very grateful to Chris Reedyk,
Lisa Schmidt and Diane Chipperfield who took on the
Herculean task of transcribing two hours of talk. It
assumes a working knowledge of biodynamic massage, but it
does not address in depth the full psychodynamic and
physiological complexity of the issue.
- Now I'm going to tack in a different direction for a
while, because I want to talk about language. The
limitation of medical language is that the client's body
experiencing their symptoms become very objectified and
very isolated as things in themselves, as things without
meaning. 'Cirrhosis of the liver' : there you are -
labelled; biological events happening to you.
- There are also problems with the language of
psychotherapy. I've had an ongoing struggle with this and
I think a lot of you have as well. Whether or not you're
trained as a psycho-therapist or working principally with
massage, the language that's associated with counselling
and psychotherapy often doesn't fit in the biodynamic
massage world. Sometimes it's just too complicated,
sometimes it's too conceptual; s psychotherapy language
tries to embrace a complex dynamic between people. And I
think for the biodynamic massage client there is not
always what I would call the willingness to be
psychological. This isn't true necessarily for
psychotherapy clients either.... [laughter].
- It's a good start when somebody is interested in
thinking about then and now; you and me - that sort of
interweaving process whereby we look at dynamic
- But very often unravelling con-nections about the
past or the intricacies of present dilemmas can feel
though as if it's taking away from the immediate feeling
the client comes with which is 'my knees hurt', 'my
shoulders are stiff - do something:' The pain and the
tension are in the foreground otherwise they wouldn't be
- So I'm going to leap from that point to talk about
what I'm calling the somatic metaphor. The somatic
metaphor carries the energy of what might be quite a
complex conflict to do with the person and their past. It
is an energetic pattern in the body, which may in the
course of time (especially if the conflict remains
unconscious) become symptoms, whether they be a
constellation of symptoms like an immune disorder, eg.
lupus or a particular symptom like a frozen shoulder. It
can be acute - a metaphor of the moment; or chronic - an
expression of a long term conflict.
- So some basic examples. Somebody comes and they have
angina. There is heartache in their life so it is
manifesting in some kind of heart problem. Or they have
cystitis, which might be about being pissed off. Or
somebody comes in and says 'my neck is hurting' and
complains about difficul-ties with their boss, and you
think ' oh yes, there's the pain in the neck'
[laughter]. At this point I'd like to collect
some of these. Has anybody got any recent examples from
their own experience - you know anecdotally - these kind
of embodied phrases that carry the conflict but connect
it to the body?
- Aud. Can you say more about lupus?
- R. Lupus is an auto-immune disease which means that
the immune function is overactive. Other examples of
auto-immune illnesses are: rheumatoid arthritis, multiple
sclerosis, certain thyroid diseases and AIDS. What's
interesting about this whole set of auto-immune diseases
which are really on the increase in our society is that
the body is attacking itself. It is unable to
discriminate between something that is harmful to it and
something that is part of it. Commentators have noticed
that there is a high prevalence of auto-immune in people
who feel excluded because they are gay or they are black
or isolated in some way. Such people who have often
carried a high level of negative projection which then
becomes internalised. But then of course you always come
down to people's own individual life story. What is it
that is being attacked?
- Aud. Lupus is the Latin name for wolf. I had a client
with lupus and she literally needed more wolf in her life
- she needed to own her own internal wolf.
- R. Yes, that makes a lot of sense.
- Aud. I thought of not an actual illness, but a fear
of illness. Fear of cancer.
- R. A fear of destructiveness in the self....What's
significant is the area you fear it will attack......Now
what about some phrases? You may not even have an
anecdote or experience but common phrases that involve a
part of the body, like 'That's close to the bone'.
- Aud. 'I nearly put my foot in it'
[laughter].... 'Makes me sick'...
'Browbeating'....' I blew my top'...' Tightass'
[laughter]... 'Carrying a whole load on your
shoulders'... 'Nose out of
- Aud. What strikes me is that a lot of these
expressions have a negative con-notation. That's quite
important in itself.
- And. 'Bite your head off....' 'Cold feet'...'Warm
heart'....'Heartache'.... '..Gut feeling' .....'weighted
- Aud : I'm trying to remember one about getting very
excited [laughs]; but I can't get any'.. 'getting
out of my head...'
- Aud.' Getting on top of things'.... 'Tickled
pink'...'Cloud nine'....'Hitting the spot'....'Out of the
- Aud. Sick as a parrot [laughter]
- R. Well, actually , I think in terms of somatic
metaphors - expressions that refer to animals are also
very relevant, like your lupus one; sick as a parrot...
sick as a dog.. Aud. 'Dog tired'.. .'Cat that got the
cream'.. .'Sharpening your claws'...'Eagle
eyes'...'Waiting to pounce'.... 'Goose pimples'.....
'Head in the sand (ostrich)'....'Monkey business'.....'A
web of deceit'...'Catty'....'Like a bitch on
heat'...'Busy as a bee'.....'Stung by that remark'
- R. I think also metaphors that relate to the body in
space are interesting. Having to do with going up or
coming down, going forward and so on. What's the metaphor
for going forward? Must be lots...
- Aud. Pushing the boat out..?' Banging your head
against the wall'.....' Shoulders to the
- R. Backed up against the wall....Cornered. These
metaphors are so fundamental. They are to do with
primitive senses, such as the need to orient to danger,
food, shelter (bad/good objects) etc They are embedded in
a deep experience of the natural world. And part of
what's happening now is our culture is changing, in
part-icular becoming more urban and more alienated from
nature. So the kind of metaphors we use may be more
technological - from computers, or planes or machines. I
mean, I've had a few clients come in and say "I went
ballistic". [laughter] It's quite different isn't
it? I went ballistic to..
- Aud. 'I went berserk' .....'Ape shit'.
- R. This is very much a historical phenomena of today.
We are simply in a different world - more urbanized, more
alienated from the body. Which is part of the reason we
have so much hunger for work which is about connecting to
the body as a ground, as a rich source of knowing and
feeling. But if we go back 400 years to 1598 - the year
Shakespeare is believed to have written Hamlet - we find
that the language was very different. It was very richly
embodied. The Renaissance was an extraodinary era
culturally - all the mythology and superstition of the
Middle Ages still around, but with powerful new ideas
about what it was to be human emerging too - a very
expansive and creative time.
- I want to spend a little time quoting a few lines
from Hamlet, just to give you an idea of the
colourfulness of the language, of how much blood and guts
and sinews and muscle and organs were part of the
language, part of everyday expression. It's so visceral;
perhaps that's why its lasted. So, for example, there are
lots of references in Hamlet to the heart, not just to
his heart metaphorically but directly to the heart. He
addresses his own heart as a living organ, a living
thing. Let me just very very briefly remind you of the
story of Hamlet. The play opens after the king of Denmark
has died and his brother has ascended the throne and
married the former queen, i.e. his brother's wife, rather
hastily -especially in Hamlet's view. Hamlet is the son
of the former king and his wife Gertrude, who has just
married his uncle. In the first scene, at the court, the
king is basically saying well, it's sad my brother has
died but we'll get on with life now. And Hamlet just
mutters sarcastic remarks in the background. But as soon
as the king and queen go off stage, he says, more
- But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue
- This refers to an ancient belief that not being able
to talk about and express grief is what breaks the heart
(and this is a premise of modern psychotherapy, 'the
talking cure'). Later, Hamlet meets the ghost of his
father who tells him that he didn't die by accident; he
was in fact murdered by his brother, the now king. This
is pretty shocking, naturally, and Hamlet says:
- Hold, hold, my heart, And you, my sinews, bear me
stiffly up (95,v,l)
- He's telling his heart to get a grip, and he's
telling his tendons (sinews) to tighten up so he can
remain standing, rather than collapsing with shock and
grief at this news. In Act three there is a scene with
his mother where he tries to make her feel guilty. He
accuses her of being in league with the king and
murdering his father. And he says to her:
- And let me wring your heart; for so I shall
- If it be made of penetrable stuff,
- If damned custom have not braz'd it so,
- That it be proof and bulwark against sense. (35, iv,
- Well, the first bit 'and let me wring your heart...',
a nice physical metaphor here - he wants to put her
through the wringer. 'If it be made of penetrable stuff'
- what he's really saying to her is: does your heart have
any feeling in it? Does it have any blood in it? Is it
alive? Can I squeeze some feeling out of it? 'If damned
custom have not braz'd it so. 'Braz'd' means to be
covered in brass, so again if habit or familiarity has
not covered your heart in brass. Brass was a cheap metal
so there is an indication of cheapness and hard-ness.
'That it be proof (i.e. that it can resist)... sense'.
And here he doesn't mean sense as in common sense; he
means it as feeling. Do you have any feelings at all in
you mother? It's powerful stuff, isn't it? [sounds of
agreement] Imagine if your clients came in and said
- Aud. . brassed off..
- R. Yeah. Well, he is. And Gertrude says
- 0 Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain
- so she's got the message...
- Its a play about - among other things - failures in
communication, deceitfulness, intrigue, and impotence.
The information from the ghost about the murder of his
father stirs up an awful lot of feeling in him, but he
can't quite do anything about it. He's actually very
depressed. He keeps coming up against self doubt - is the
ghost real, or can I do this to my mother, or
everything's so corrupt including me. The tragedy of
Hamlet is that although theoretically the line of action
is clear - he needs to avenge his father - in practice,
he is paralysed by conflicted feelings. He says near the
end of the play
- In my heart there is a kind of fighting
- That will not let me sleep (5, ii, 5)
- Finally, after lots of people get killed and Hamlet
is dying of his wounds, he begs his friend Horatio
- If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
- Absent thee from felicity awhile
- And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
- to tell my story. (351, ii, 5)
- And Horatio says a few lines later as Hamlet dies,
"now cracks a noble heart" (364, ii, 5).
- So that just gives you a taster, it's just some of
the references to the heart in the play. It's a play
about loyalty, a broken heart, an Oedipal crisis. And
then there's the whole thing about Hamlet and Ophelia,
can he love her because she's a woman, and women have
been contaminated by his mother's behaviour.
- There's a lot of anger in the play too. Shakespeare's
language is full of very embodied expressions for anger.
For example, he says when he meets Laertes, Ophelia's
brother, and one of the other prime male figures in the
- Though I am not splenetive and rash
- Yet I have in me something dangerous. (255, I,
- Splenetive refers to the spleen, and the spleen was
associated in Shakespearian language with wild,
aggressive impulses. This is interesting because the
spleen is a central part of the immune system, and when
its activated, it is designed to attack. At another
point, the famous bit where he finds Yorick's skull
("alas poor Yorick!") he says "My gorge rises at it"
- Aud. Is that to do with bile, 'gorge'?
- Aud I think it's a swelling of the throat.
- R: That's it, a swelling, engorgement. It's the
movement of the blood upwards. Up the id canal, as Gerda
- He also says of himself, quite contemptuously, "for I
am pigeon-livered and lack gall". There's another aspect
of anger, the liver was associated with powerful
feelings, such as rage, and the production and movement
of gall (bile), is the embodied chemistry for
- The association of the organs with psychological
functions in Shakespeare's times derived from the
medieval theories about humours, which in turn derived
from the ancient Greeks. The point is these associations
were living and real. It isn't just fancy language, it
isn't just metaphor. I think they actually lived in that
reality, which we've very much lost touch with. Today in
Britain we retain traces of this understanding in phrases
like, 'to vent your spleen' or 'to feel galled' -
although I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone say these
things - they're in our literature. In Traditional
Chinese Medicine there are very clear theories of the
psychological function of the organs, which I find
intruiging, and which I think are just beginning to
permeate our culture. Another of Hamlet's famous phrases
is "the time is out of joint", and I relate that to being
dislocated, his proprioceptors aren't effectively
orienting him in space. He can't get it together, that's
basically the story of Hamlet. Who knows what would have
happened if he'd had a biodynamic massage therapist!
- Do you want some more of this stuff? Are you enjoying
it? I've got two slightly longer speeches. There's a
speech to Horatio, who is Hamlet's best mate, and he's a
sort of stalwart figure really. I'll read it and then go
into it a bit more. Hamlet says to Horatio:
- Let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
- And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
- Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
- Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,
- And could of men distinguish her election,
- Sha'th seal'd thee for herself; for thou hast
- As one in suff'ring all, that suffers nothing,
- A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
- Has ta'en equal thanks; and blest are those
- Whose blood and judgement are so well commeddled
- That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
- To sound what stop she pleases. Give me that man
- That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
- In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart
- As I do thee (60, ii, 3)
- There's so much physicality in this language. It's
also very complicated and psychologically intricate. So
'the candied tongue licking absurd pomp' - people are so
obsequious, boot-licking, arse-licking. 'And crook the
pregnant hinges of the knee'... that means... what does
that mean? [laughter] In Shakespeare the word
pregnant is used for something that's easily stirred, a
pregnant pause, something that's full with life force,
portent or meaning. So in this case the pregnant hinges
of the knee means the knee that's quickly bent, i.e.
someone who's quick to get down on their knees. "Oh yes,
your Majesty! Oh yes, sir!", you know, 'fawning'. And
he's really complaining about the hypocrisy of
power....Tony Blair and the Labour party, nothing changes
really does it? And then he contrasts this with Horatio's
behaviour, He is blessed with "blood and judgement so
well commeddled". In Shakespeare blood means passion,
impulse, the kind of force which makes things happen,
which prompts us to do things. Basically, the life force
is very strong if your blood is rich and flowing, and
therefore you embody your life, you live your beliefs or
whatever. Too much blood means a mindless acting out of
impulses. But Horatio, being a cool kind of guy, has got
blood and judgement 'commeddled' - ie. blended,
- Dianne: There's quite a lot about blood, you know
- Roz: Absolutely. Lots of blood metaphors. And lots of
blood is spilled in the plays. It's very literal. There's
that lovely image from Macbeth about him wading through a
stream of blood, then getting halfway and thinking, "this
isn't such a good idea":
- I am in blood
- Stepp'd so far, that, should I wade no more,
- Returning were as tedious as go'er....(Macbeth, 135,
- Its interesting, in Chinese Traditional Medicine,
illness is a disorder of the blood. And Gerda Boyesen
writes in one article "the blood circulation itself can
be seen as the link between consciousness and
- So back to Hamlet complaining about these very
servile people..... "a pipe for Fortune's finger". Even
something as abstract as the concept of Fate is embodied
in a very physical metaphor of a pipe being played and a
finger having control. He's saying that people who's
feelings overrun them are not only not in control of
themselves, they're not in control of their fate.
Hamlet's concluding tribute to Horatio reflects his
distrust of feelings "give me that man that is not
passion's slave and I will wear him in my heart's core",
the deepest part of my heart. And there's a kind of
paradox in the fact that Horation, the man who is not
passion's slave, is trustworthy enough to take into
Hamlet's heart of hearts.
- A last example of blood, and anger, and internal
conflict. The last speech I'm going to quote. This comes
at the end of Act III, scene 3, where Hamlet has known
for two whole acts that his father was murdered and he
still hasn't really got round to doing anything about it.
He's preparing himself to go and confront his mother.
He's got himself all worked up after his encounter with
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and he says:
- Now could I drink hot blood,
- And do such bitter business as the day
- Would quake to look on. Soft, now to my mother.
- Oh heart, lose not thy nature. Let not ever
- The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom.
- Let me be cruel, not unnatural.
- I will speak daggers to her but use none.
- My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites:
- How in my words some ever she be shent,
- To give them seals never my soul consent. (381, iii,
- I love this phrase, 'now could I drink hot blood'!
This is an angry man. 'And do such bitter business' -
bitter refers again to the liver, the liver being stirred
up and therefore a bitter taste in the mouth. ' The day
would quake to look on' -here it is again this marvellous
way that Shakespeare takes an abstract-ish concept like
daytime and fleshes it our with a metaphor: the day
itself is shaking with fear at the horror of what he
might do. 'Soft now to my mother' - he's going to
confront his mother, so he addresses his own heart: 'Oh
heart lose not thy nature, let not ever the soul of Nero
enter this firm bosom' - Nero actually did kill his
mother. What Hamlet is saying to himself is: don't
actually kill her, lose not thy nature, i.e. it's
unnatural to kill your mother. 'Let me be cruel, not
unnatural. I will speak daggers to her'. He will kill her
with words only. We still use 'to look daggers', don't
we? 'I will speak daggers to her but use none. My tongue
and soul in this be hypocrites'.
- What is fascinating about Hamlet is that Hamlet is
already in the dilemma that we could now call something
like a body-mind split. Tragedy has always explored the
hero's character, and the tensions between reason and
passion, natural justice and man-made law. But Hamlet is
peculiarly contemporary - he's neurotic, not heroic. He
has an impulse to act, and all these things that hold him
back. We would say today that he is depressed. He has
fantasies about doing something but instead he criticises
himself, he's full of self-hatred. He's constantly
frustrated because he's inhibiting his impulses, and in
the end it doesn't work out. I mean in the end, you know,
everyone gets killed. The king gets killed, but so what?
Because Hamlet is killed too and so are half a dozen
other people. Its a bloody mess.
- But I want to hear from you now. What kind of body do
you think Hamlet has? Imagine Hamlet is coming as your
- Aud: 'Engorged'......'Masochistic'
- Aud: I don't think he's masochistic. I think it
sounds like a lot of the pulse is showing, the charge is
pushing right up against the surface, and that's not
masochistic in my understanding. .... they'd look much
more pallid and thickened.
- R: Let's have a bit more fantasy about his body. If
he's not thick-set and masochistic, what is he?
- Aud : I'm trying to combine it in my head with the
fact that he's also described as depressed because I'm
not sure about that.
- R: Well that's just my interpretation.
- Aud. : Does he cry?
- R: Well he might do. But in the text there is no
specific indication that he cries.
- Aud : I'm thinking about sinew, about rigid, or
- Aud: I imagine him as thin, I don't know why, and I
imagine him as having trouble with the knees
- Aud : All this mind-body stuff, and not being able to
act, that's quite schizoid, so you would expect a lot of
problems with the knees.
- R: Yes, and he's suicidal, you know "to be or not to
be". I think he's quite schizoid too.
- Aud: And he's using his mind to control his
- Aud: I agree with Judy that he probably had a lot of
ripeness and a lot of charge that was visible but he was
holding it back at the same time. So maybe a little bit
of emptying or something would just do the trick....
[laughter] He'd probably kill Claudius straight
- R: So, this is the next question: what kind of
massage would you give him? [laughter]
- Aud: Well first of all I'd contract with him that he
wouldn't go and kill anybody. I'm not doing a massage
that results in murder.
- Aud: Slow....
- R: Slow would be...?
- Aud: Opening ...I don't know.
- Aud: It depends on which part of the play you're
talking about. Where is he in his process?
- Aud: I think you should do deep draining on his
knees. .. Or just have him on the floor kicking
- Aud: I think he needs to talk.
- R: He does a lot of talking though.
- Aud: He discharges a lot through talking. He needs to
discharge through the body.
- R: And he needs containment.
- Aud: I don't know I'm searching. Don't think it's
about containment. He needs something else to bring the
discharge into the body and then through....
- R: So what kind of massage?
- Aud: I'm also thinking of his breathing. I'd want
very much to focus on his breathing.
- R: How do you imagine him breathing?
- Aud: On two levels in the sense that the superficial
breathing is quite full, but there's another underlying
level, and I think that would be very important, that
would be a key, before I almost worked on anything
- Aud: I agree with that. I think he's so pushed to the
edge and I would affirm in him his need to reflect, and I
think working with the breath would bring that
containment and space, without it being....without
denying the conflict, the charge.
- R: OK, so....how would you work with the breath?
- Aud: I'd do a lot of listening to the breath, and
- R: What type of thing? Hypotonus?
- Aud. Lifting, thinking of those stiff tendons.
- R: Anybody else? You can choose any point in the
- Aud: Also pushing with the hands and feet. Not
encouraging pushing against but something like being with
the feet and being there with a very slight hint of
provocation so there's some meeting there.....
- Aud: I think he's kind of borderline ...So I'm not
sure.... He's suicidal and not sure what his reality is.
He's not sure what's him and what's outside him. Am I
trembling or is the world trembling? Need to be
- Aud: Well I was thinking of the shock he must have
undergone. Its too early for melting
- Aud. Does he wear a suit of armour? You could tell
him he's too armoured! [laughter] Aud: It's a
difficult one because I always associate Hamlet with the
aspect of him that can't act. I see him as someone who
thinks, thinks, thinks, but doesn't get anything done. On
one hand I would like to liberate his life force, but on
the other hand I'd have more of an impulse to hold or
- R: You're mirroring his conflict. How would you
- Aud: I don't know
..I suppose by holding. It
could bring a lot out.
- Aud: There's a lot of fear of what would happen if he
lets go, that's my sense. Fear of explosion.
- Aud: Yes. Holding can bring all that to quite a point
..explosion, if its in
- Aud: That's where I think he's a masochist. He's
holding it all inside. He isn't acting, he isn't crying,
. building up a charge.
- Aud: I'd want to work with boundaries and physical
embodiment. Close tracking of his moment to moment
experience of himself. Its about finding that edge where
he feels contained and then where he's in danger of going
over the edge.
- Aud. Also his fear of the unnatural, not retaining
- R: Have we got Hamlet sorted then? [laughter]
It would take quite a lot, we're talking about a couple
years here. So who's going to take him on then?
- Aud: No reduced rates!He's a prince!
- R: I want to link this back to somatic metaphors.
They're not just expressions. We actually live out these
metaphors. And for the metaphor to be comprehended I
think, it's not just a matter of verbally unpicking the
symptom, the person also has to have some type of bodily
experience of it.
- I'll give an example. A client came in and actually
said to me "I've got cystitis. I guess I must be pissed
off. " This is a common association to cystitis but for
this client it was a theoretical idea but she didn't have
any connection to what she might be angry about.". So we
explored things in various ways particularly by using her
awareness of her body and the first image that came up
was of having to sheath her claws, of having to hold
something back. Later on in the process she came up with
another image of snakes and constriction, she actually
used the word constrictor, "there's a constrictor here".
And then she went into a sort of state of sleep,
daydreams in which she had many images, and when she
unravelled them she suddenly remembered something that
had happened the day before that had made her very angry.
But that anger had been repressed. And it really did take
her following her body impulses and going into them,
quite a labyrinthine journey, to get down to this place.
As she was telling me this her hand was like this
[gestures a fist]. She was completely unconscious
of it, until I drew it to her attention. So even then,
getting to the experience, the connection of how
absolutely furious she was, it was reluctant to come to
- So, how does this work in practice with biodynamic
massage clients? In the initial interview, which includes
taking a medical history, you're scanning for symptoms.
What I find is people tend to forget symptoms had
something so I actually take people from their head down
to their toes. Do you have any problems with your eyes?
Mouth? Nose? I mean, I play it by ear [laughter]
sometimes I wouldn't go top to toe, but if you suspect
something, some niggling symptoms that the person's not
telling you about, it's one way to dig them out. In the
first interview you can ask lots of questions in the
spirit of general enquiry, and not give them particular
weight. At this point you don't want to go into the
meaning, you're just picking up information. So I always
ask people about their sleep, appetite, energy, and it's
just very much a fact at that point.
- When you get into the massage the experience of the
symptom can be brought into reality as an experience, an
experience of pain that they can have that pain with you
and see how they are with that pain and what that pain
means and where it is and what happens when you do this
and do that. And then at some point it may be possible to
give the client back their own metaphor. Sometimes it
will be there in their language.
- I can remember one of the first massage clients I
had. She had frequent headaches, and one day she was
talking about a problem in her life and she said "it
doesn't bear thinking about". At that moment I just
thought, "ah, she can't bear thinking about it so she's
got a headache" and I suggested that to her, and it
really went in. So in giving back the metaphor to your
client, it has to be very personal and real, and
something they can relate to, otherwise it sounds like
you've just swallowed Louise Hay, which is not a good
idea. [laughter] It must be appropriate to the
client, in a language that is meaningful to them.
- My favourite example of this is not from therapy it's
from a contemporary play by the Liverpudlian poet Tony
Harrison. The opening line is "What's a crie de coeur,
cunt?" The reason I like that line is you immediately
have a picture of two characters with completely
different backgrounds and perspectives on life. So
there's no point in talking to your client about their
crie de coeur if it doesn't mean anything to them. And
likewise it's no good referring to your client's "cunt"
if that language is going to be offensive to them. But if
it means something to them, they might feel really
- Aud: So important
.your universe and their
- R: Are they going to meet or collide, or miss each
other entirely? So the metaphor has to be capable of
helping the client recover something which has been lost
or ignored. Some conflict or situation that they don't
want to know about, or just can't see because they're in
it so much. It must be appropriate, it must be congruent
with their experience of their body. If someone has a
pain in the neck
.they have to know they feel pain
in the neck, it's no good you knowing that it's there.
The advantage of biodynamic massage is that in that
moment when they're actually feeling that symptom or
pain, you can just drop in your somatic metaphor and
sometimes there's a profound kind of click and sometimes
there isn't. Sometimes you drop it in skilfully and
brilliantly and they completely fail to pick it up.
They're not there yet. And also we can give clients
positive metaphors, as well as looking for metaphors that
are part of their conflict or symptom, we can give them
back something like "it's good to feel your legs and
stand your ground".
- That's the end of part two, are there any questions
or comments about that bit? [pause] How are you
doing in terms of saturation?
- [There is a call for a tea break.]
Contact Roz at email@example.com