The Ecology of Human Systems: A phylogeny of psychosocial intervention for the New Paradigm
Xavier Serrano Hortelano
Valencia (Spain) 2012
Psychologist Specializing in clinical psychology (CV141), sexologist. Character-analytic Psychotherapist specializing in brief psychotherapy, vegetotherapy, and human systems. (Graduated Orgontherapist from la Scuola Europea Di Orgonterapia founded by Ola Raknes and Federico Navarro.) Director of The “ Escuela Española de Terapia Reichiana” (ESTER). Professor of in schools specializing in psychotherapy in Europe and Latin America and author of several books. The latest being: "Deepening the Reichian Couch. The Vegetotherapy in Character-analytic psychotherapy" Edit.Biblioteca nueva. Madrid 2011. Member of EABP, EAP, EFS, FEAP, SEPTG and FOC.Actualizing his clinical, preventive and educational activities principally in Valencia Spain since 1980
I elaborate the theory and upon an organized form of intervention in human systems (family, school, institutions) that facilitate the "ecology of nurture" and a humanization of human relations that I call "Ecology of Human Systems" (EHS) whereby we may recuperate our ecological perceptional and conscience and of our essential contact thereby contributing to the prevention of health and global change necessary for the mammalian - human being to regain his/her humanity and true nature. It stems : systems theory, Wilhelm Reich's theory of self-regulation and from Alexander Neill, and other authors of the "new ecological paradigm" of autors Fritjof Capra, Humberto Maturana and Edgar Morin, and others.It also stems from all the experience gleaned from 30 years of post-Reichian clinical practice(Brief psychotherapy and character-analitical Vegetoterapy) and through the practice of preventive intervention (from pregnancy through adolescence) within interdisciplinary teams of the Spanish School of Reichian Therapy (Escuela Española de Terapia Reichiana (ESTER).
Ecology of nurture, bonding, human relations, human ecology, systems ecology, auto-regulation, Wilhelm Reich, Alexander Neill, Edgar Morin, Fritjof Capra, character-analyticalal Psychotherapy, new paradigm
A Sioux leader once said: "As long as humans are incapable of feeling the pain a tree feels from the fire of a conflagration or evn more so from the cuts of a lumberjack's hatchet we will continue to burn down forests and destroy trees indiscriminately, or for economic interests".
In fact it is something that happens in Spain, and in diverse locations worldwide, especially in the amazon. The suffering of those who are still capable of feeling this torment, the indigenous peoples to those regions, is such that some of them have committed suicide in desperation or otherwise have died as a consequence of the bullets of those who have invaded their territories with neither diffidence nor solicitude and who come to the point of killing in the pursuit of their objectives: constructing infrastructures for the exploit of diamonds, gold, or whatever other commodity will show a return in dollars or domination.
In doing so they destroy our foundations of life; nature itself. In the last 150 years humans have modified dramatically the ecological process of millions of years of our planet gaia, with irreversible consequences.
Oddly enough, it is that being the most intelligent creatures we are also the ones who raze, uproot, and destroy all that lives. We have lost the great opportunity to take advantage of the marvels of technology, fruit of this intelligence, to the benefit of all that lives, and not only of a small handful of humans who impede sustainability and consequently the guarantee of a habitable future.
For some this is the major symptom that we are lost, without an identity as a species, as human beings, which leads to irrationality and actual madness. As E. Sabato describes it: "having split magical thinking and logical thinking man remains exiled from his primordial unity; the harmony between man and himself and with the cosmos has been broken interminably"
We are, then, clever, but we have lost our identity, placing us at a crossroads that leads to self absorption, ignorance of the essential, and what Wilhelm Reich called "loss of interior contact" (vegetative).
In fact, revisiting some of the ideas from neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio or Joseph Ledoux and from neurologist Karl Evers, we find avenues of approach that can explain this behavior. As they demonstrate, the emotions are at the base of our values in that they provide for preferences to certain stimuli over others and make conscience possible. One can, thereby, deduce that we are extremely blocked emotionally, and that impedes the adequate perceptual development of our conscience and, therefore, of our "ecological conscience".
All throughout the last century, based on their clinical experience, authors like Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Reich, John Bowly, and Rof Carballo have explained the influence of the repression of affections and emotions, such as the absence of physical contact and loving touch in emotional and psychosomatic suffering and in the genesis of neurosis, depression and up to and including psychotic states.
Hence, it is our first years which are the most decisive in organizing our psyches and identity as well as generating our first possible blocks to emotional perception and conscience, depending upon which have been our maturing development and our relationships established first and foremost with our parents and teachers.
Accordingly, political, ecological and environmental changes must go hand in hand towards a radical change in our form of education and of being present for the mammalian, human baby. In the end, this means recuperating our humanity, reshaping both the way we relate in business as well as in everyday coexistence. We must regain love of self as a species in order to feel love for nature and for all life, in order to feel ourselves part of it.
Along these lines arose what I defined as “the ecology of human systems” (ESH) in so much as it is systematic of preventative and psychological intervention from intrauterine to adolescent life, the principal object of which is to facilitate the growth of auto-regulation of the human mammal by applying the general laws of ecological functionality so that they might realize their vital functions while satisfying the necessities of all member beings, and at once always cognizant of personal, structural and social limitations in each case.
The aim is to facilitate the means for the development of an “ecology of nurture" and proposes ways that allow for the recovery of human relations or the humanity in relatedness, establishing, thereby, "ecological atmospheres" in any given social space, be they between a couple, a family, in learning institutes, forms of communication, institutions, businesses, etc.
I consider the "ecology of human systems” (ESH) part of the new paradigm that Fritjof Capra defines as "ecological" in that it "recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena and the fact that as individuals and as societies we are immersed in the cyclical processes of nature from the perspective of deep ecology"
The E. S. H., along with my experience acquired through decades of clinical and psychosocial practice in multidisciplinary teams, draws on the ideas of Wilhelm Reich and A. S. Neill with his theory of "self-regulation", and of current authors working in the paradigm such as Edgar Morin, Michel Odent and Humberto Maturano among other
What is becoming evident is that a new paradigm is developing and within it "ecology of nurture" is both a radical and realistic alternative to combat our current state of things, along with social and political changes, also ecological by necessity.
But we must assume that "Ecology of nurture" is not only a creative and transcendent challenge but also very complicated, demanding the help and collaboration of many individuals y professionals. It can not be only a question of wanting to, or of ideology, or of intuition alone. It requires the training of specialists.
By way of example; a few years ago a handful of pediatricians started advocating the return to breastfeeding according to the rhythm of the baby. However, on many occasions breastfeeding is not fully understood. Nor are all the variables in play taken into consideration; (a woman's build, the exigencies of work and economics, and the affect it might have on the family structure and others). So that by simply presenting the dictum "let the baby breastfeed as much as he/she likes" without a systematically worked out approach to applying this general law to specific cases it provoked a series of "collateral" conflicts.
This is the case for women who, in spite of a willingness to breast-feed, have personal or job-related difficulties impeding them from doing so. What happens for these women who cannot abide by this call to act, this dictum to breast-feed? Are they culpable? Bad mothers? It's possible many are going to feel like they are for not being able to do "what's best" or do what is "expected of them" which will lead to distress that might predispose them to depressive states which, in turn, would affect the baby who will manifest it through crying or biting the nipple, reactions that would medically justify weaning.
We could site multiple examples referring to pregnancies, deliveries or whatever other aspect of nurturing or education we choose but the determining factor is that when it comes time to apply general laws of ecology to human systems it is paramount to take into account the limits of each individual concrete reality in such a way that the same objective does not have to be considered "healthy" for all cases in a mechanical or inflexible way.
In the above sited example it would be more of a priority to facilitate a calm and stable relationship between mother and baby and for that what would serve best is to breastfeed during the first year of life and continue with bottles with the same loving presence on the part of all involved. while in another case nursing could continue until the child weaned him/herself somewhere in the third of forth year.
The object is to escort the child, respecting his/her pace, satisfying his/her nutritional, affective, contact needs as well as his/her exploration and discovery of the world. Departing on the basis that, like any other sentient being, they have the capacity to auto-regulate as they grow which implies that, innicialy, it is their instincts that drives the process and we see how, gradually, they pass from total dependence to primary autonomy learning, at their own pace, via contact with things, via exploration, taking pleasure, laughing, enjoying or crying to proclaim their needs or discomfort.
Auto-regulation implies liberty of expression, liberty to express the sexual impulse, emotional and verbal liberty as well but it also implies relational interaction and limits which are punctuated by the child's own rhythm within each system but both by social conditions as well as for received education as well as our own ignorance in the field, many times we need the council of a specialist in E.S.H and the support of others in familial as well as in social networks which further that process of nurturance. This implies a tribal attitude and the overcoming of an individualism to which we have become accustomed.
In this sense we, as health and educational professionals, have a great responsibility and many thing upon which to ponder, debate a decide. One cannot educate by decree, nor by council, nor by intuition. Neither, as is habit, by taking the name of "god" or "science" in vain. As Wilhelm Reich indicated we are agents of society and as such we must assume our responsibility and take the consequences of our actions and not hide behind a supposed and false professional or technical neutrality" •paraphrase
The capacity for pleasure, cooperation, mutual support, solidarity, respect and a ethics based on love, together with a functioning sense of assertiveness would be some of the natural attributes of a new Human Structure that contrasts with sickly and sadomasochistic systems that have prevailed for centuries and that are fruit of a form a relatedness and of childhood education repressive, anti-ecological and foreign to that which is human.
Our civilization has drifted far from many of the essential values of that which is human consequent of centuries of patriarchy and religious fanaticism. At the same time we maintain this state of affairs with our characterological attitudes. As long as loving communication is impeded hate will take it's place.
Every tender look of which a child is robbed forms in him/her a new bereavement; each "no" to his/her living expressiveness and legitamacy debilitates his/her confidence in self and makes him/her submissive and reactionary. Each imposition of "neurotically conditioned reasons" blasts his/her small initiatives. Each loving touch that his/her skins misses imprints in him/her the signals of war. .or of death. Each hardened gesture against his/her active sexuality diminishes a little more his/her capacity of this natural pleasure that produces such "Joie de vivre", generating a defensive organization that Reich called "armor".
This rigid armor begins to generate in Intrauterine life and goes on to organize itself during the rest of our process of psychological maturation (ontogenesis). up to the end of adolescence. To prevent it's formation it is necessary to change our way of relating with babies and children and among ourselves, our parent, educators, professionals in that we are their points of reference and are their matrix throughout the essential ecosystems of family and school.
Starting a few decades ago professionals from diverse disciplines have taken this vision into consideration, proposing respectful ways of assisting at births, of facilitating emotional relationships, of regarding the passage through sexual fazes, a change in our way of relating and an freedom in education.
But, from the perspective of our professional practices, we have left out a discussion on human maturation that gels all these investigations and alternative interventions. To be able to do so, together with a unified base of ample data from all groups and professionals that work in this discipline, is the principal objective of the "International Institute for The Ecology of human systems". Professionals in pregnancy, ecological childbirth, attachments, natural lactation, childhood sexuality, familial mediation, violence in general, institutional conflict resolution as well as psychosocialogical groups, etc. need to pool their experience in order to generate methods of intervention based on this collected evidence and on the empirical contrast and not on supposition or ideologies. The information and investigation complement the functioning of said institute.
We see, then, as necessary, the interrelation and complementing of the practice of social ecology and political ecology with the ecology of the human systems with the objective of facilitating the planetary, global and enduring change that we need for the survival and development of the human being.
It is, therefore, a job for which all of us - us being mothers, fathers, educators, health professionals, consultants, experts on human resources, citizens - have a leadership role and a responsibility.
Because, in the end, the object of life, in the words of E. Morin is supposed to be:"live poetically, live intensely, live in communion, live in community, live in play, live in beauty, live in understanding, live both with affection and rationality, live in life, live assuming fully the destiny of homo sapiens "demens, vivri", live immersed in the trinity of purpose; instinct, affection, reason."
Practice of the specialists in Human Systems Ecology
"The individual structure is predisposed to social structure and the social structure predisposed to individual structures that maintains it." (Wilhelm Reich)
The objective is to lend our experience and knowledge as psychotherapists to break out of this dynamic. From there the work is to combine our clinical, caracter-analitica (crisis intervention, brief character-analytic psychotherapy, caracter-analitica Vegetotherapy) with preventative and psychosocial intervention, applying our clinical knowledge to the prevention of pathology and armor, just as Reich proposed with the creation of OIRC Orgonomic Infant Research Center (1949) and as other ergonomists(Eva Reich, Michael Silvert, Chester Raphael, Elworth Baker, Federico Navarro,etc) and professionals, have developed as partial aspects for the new paradigms (pregnancy, birth, education, etc.)
The ESTER (Spanish School of Reichian Therapy), has folioed this line of practice for 30 years; pregnancy intervention with mothers, couples y groups, assisting in ecological deliveries and in postpartum, facilitating bonding, gouts and parents od children ages 0-6, a free school "Els Doñets", professional workshops, adolescent workshops, couples workshops, conferences, etc…
After all this time I have worked along the lines of auto-regulation, applying the orgonomic function which I now define as "Human systems Ecology”, a system of intervention".
Focus of intervention:
a) The prevention of armoring in the essential human system: ecological nurturance
This deals with the prevention of the formation of present structures:
And putting in it's place an adequate means from intrauterine life through adolescence so that the mammal-human being might develop his/her fullest human potentials by auto-regulatory means in an ecological environment (with respect to his/her own rhythm, loving instincts, cares, protection, alimentation, ecological habits, limits and interaction with others and with nature and to his/her functional psychosomatic integration; visceral, limbic, and cortical). That is to say recuperate a Human Structure both functional and ecological.
To do this we need to raise awareness and develop psychosocial interventions in the family and educational systems by applying the general laws of the “Ecology of Human Systems” to each case in particular, acting in a cogency: respectful of rhythms, taking into account the needs and possibilities of all the members of the system, assist in the processes, structure, support, strengthen..…
Individual psycho-corporal intervention with baby and child (massages, games, audio-psycho-fonologia) as well as with couples and family systems by systemic and caracter-analitic means both psychological and corporal.
B) Prevention of the "emotional plague" (sic) Wilhelm Reich,1940 in complementing human systems; institutions, collectives, societal
Clear the musty atmosphere, saturated with the emotional plague of social institutions and collectives. More effectively manage resources based on self-managment, recognition of functional authority and of the leadership role of all its members. Apply orgonomic functionality through character-analytics and both psycho-corpral and group-analytical work.
C) Crisis intervention and care of the individual's body
Applying the principals of vegetotherapy and of focused psycho-corporal intervention with “brief character-analytical psychotherapy”,P.B.C. (Serrano, 1990,2007). We tackle psychopathological y existential crisis in order to reduce the consumption of psychoactive drugs and use these crisis as psychosomatic points of inflection, augmenting awareness and the capacities of the ego in facing a rigid character and the brutalization of perception.With conferences, journals and workshops dealing with rhythm, pleasure, death, couples, sexuality etc. we reduce suffering and recuperate contact, changing characterological habits and attitudes, contributing to our process of psycho-somatic auto-regulation with nature, our planetary identity, our secular spirituality, as Capra called it.
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