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III: Body to Body - A synthesis of Somatherapy Translation of: Roberto Freire & João da Mata (1997) SOMA - Uma Terapia Anarquista; Vol. III: Corpo a Corpo.
Fulltext in Portuguese & English: http://www.somaterapia.com.br/soma.html Tradução: Ceri Buckmaster
Introduction ............................................................................................... 2 Part One: Soma – a revolutionary cocktail
1. The totality of being .................................................................................... 3 2. Reich and the mysteries of the organism..................................................... 5 3. 4. 5. 6. Capoeira: the mandinga of the slave with a burning desire for freedom .... 7 Living the present ........................................................................................ 8 The production of madness........................................................................ 10 The pedagogy of freedom.......................................................................... 11
Part Two: How Soma works
1. Methodology.............................................................................................. 13 2. Therapeutic process ................................................................................... 16
Part Three: Soma, anarchism and ecology .......................................... 17 Notes.......................................................................................................... 18
Authoritarian social structures are only maintained because there exist authoritarian individuals. we use the ideology of pleasure (health) as an antidote to the ideology of sacrifice (neurosis). In Soma. We soon realise that the act of living is extremely simple. In rejecting this. Without tesão. However. we make fun of our suffering. Consequently. as we need to take on any obstacles face-to-face. but rather that they don’t make martyrs of themselves. reactionaries and conservatives maintain ideologies that perpetuate the oppressoroppressed formula and conserve the authoritarianism present in all social relations. happiness. The way in which families are organised today makes the full. we play with our discomfort and we are informal when we deal with formality. there’s no solution. as love is used to limit freedom and desire. We go about undoing the authoritarian knot of our bourgeois capitalist conditioning. Only for these people does Soma have any kind of meaning and function. The only way not to get lost in the mediocrity of neurosis is to learn how to fight to 2 be free. the therapy is also a beautiful. We look to eliminate the tendency to associate therapy with suffering. It was in this spirit that Roberto Freire created Soma at the beginning of the seventies. at the same time. For this reason. of society.Introduction Soma is a therapy that also moves into the area of pedagogy. We believe that this is the only way to be healthy and full of tesão. not everyone wants to fight for the freedom to be themselves. Only these people can understand life as we see it because they prioritise love and enjoyment . Family members denounced other members. Soma is objective and practical. to the extent that no militant would trust a psychologist. This association is common because this is the way that traditional psychology functions. having lost the capacity to react. discomfort and formality. even madness. Capitalists. A healthy person fully understands what this involves. which makes their problems difficult to resolve. and has continued to develop it until today. To do Soma is to strive to be free and so to be revolutionary and happy. Surviving is the exact opposite: it means conforming within safe limits. happy. a neurotic person doesn’t. and of the market. Freire abandoned psychoanalysis and set off on a search for a . which are the components of tesão 1. This is the most powerful weapon that the family has and it is used to attend to the expectations of the state. Militants were too paranoid of being denounced to seek out psychological help. everything becomes fantastically alive and real because fighting for what we are and what we want gives us the certainty that we are alive. Our health depends on the permanent presence of everything that is tesudo (full of tesão) for us. when Freire and his comrades in the political struggle experienced the explicit repression of their freedom by the dictatorship. it’s in the formation and maintenance of the bourgeois family that this formula is witnessed in the clearest way while. It was born out of the military regime (1964-1979). Sem tesão não há solução. the consequence is marginalization. We fight for the fullness of life. However. which demanded the sacrifice of our desires in exchange for social acceptance. to those who object and to all those who identify with this urgency to be free. and in which we gain awareness of how we learn and the best way for us to learn. feel and live their pain and difficulties. This new ideology gives us energy and the tesão to fight against the bourgeois ideology that makes us neurotic. Soma is an invitation to these revolutionaries. Instead. and deliciously pleasurable act. and pleasure. Thinking and acting along these lines. This does not mean that in the therapy people don’t recognise. We work to help people identify and combat external agents that are blocking or preventing the fulfilment of dreams and goals in their lives and in doing so. we help people to truly be themselves. is at its most disguised. as soon as possible. It means transforming life by the union of three fundamental and inseparable elements: beauty. Soma exists so that people can live their lives in the widest sense possible. and work colleagues denounced each other. Living means confronting risk and enjoying freedom. vital realisation of an individual practically impossible.
for example) leads to the supremacy of some functions over others. thoughts and attitudes. personal and social life. Driven by economic power or by the state. We have no doubt that human brilliance occurs only when we are ourselves. He created Soma. We study the whole person. Somatherapy is the practical expression of somatology. our fuel is passion. such as its desires and ideals. profession and social life. In Soma. we undo these power games and individuals liberate themselves as they rescue their originality. a carefully selected and shaken cocktail of the revolutionary knowledge we have available to us in the works of Wilhelm Reich and David Cooper. including human beings. be it a military dictatorship or today’s neoliberal farce of a democracy. but never to evaluate human life. Part One: Soma – a revolutionary cocktail 1. This explains why we’ve removed the prefix ‘psycho’ from our therapeutic work. thus creating a new society. authoritarian societies need to standardise human behaviour in order to facilitate control and domination. which makes them infinitely stronger. We understand Somatology to be the study of phenomena that involve the soma in its interaction with other somas and with the environment. Only by respecting individual differences can we build a new ethic of social relations. . The totality of being This characteristic is fundamental to our work. Christianity believed the spirit to 3 We couldn’t start to explain what Soma is and how it works without first mentioning the importance of its name for our work. He thought that the therapy had to be brief. since Soma is not interested in isolated or partial aspects of a person’s life. For us. A human ‘Soma’ is everything that a person is. Repression and mass production of all things. similar to a war hospital solving problems that crop up so that the person can quickly return to the battle of life. For thirty years.therapy that was fast. We don’t practise psychotherapy as we don’t consider the mind to be the focus of therapeutic action but rather the whole soma. For us. Only the fact that lots of people allow themselves to be controlled by a few makes viable an unjust and disharmonious society such as ours. This is our dream. including the mind as it is part of the somatic whole. These divisions can serve only for didactic understanding in the study of human beings. our vehicle is tesão and our fight is the construction and experience of a tesudo. the word incorporates the body’s extensions. ‘Unicist’ thought (a branch of thought that deals with the individual as unique and complete) has been opposed in various ways during the history of humankind. and the relationship between these areas. When we eliminate authoritarianism. the whole person. we encounter the originality in the lives of each one of us. are achieved through social mechanisms that control the individual. Soma means the totality of being in the widest and most complete sense. Soma has been an instrument in the fight against the authoritarianism and limitations to human freedom present in society. It’s where understanding can be found that aids the consciousness of a soma in its personal and social life. all beings harmonise with each other. including how and with whom she or he has relationships with. And when we are complete. the indivisible unit. The division of this whole into independent parts (mind and body. the various areas in their lives. The isolating of one part of the whole in order to study some disorder leads to a limited and insufficient diagnosis. ideology and love. more inspired and more revolutionary. that is here-and-now and anarchic. Each human being is unique and different. and means ‘body’ but not just as we are used to thinking of the body. The word ‘Soma’ comes from Greek. efficient and liberating.
which determines a hierarchy with the brain at the top. It is necessary to determine what blocks a person’s life. Rationalism has been present in a good part of modern culture. We are. coherent and integrated experience. in these societies. except for the learning of social and cultural customs that are circulating at any particular moment. This is the principle of spontaneous self-regulation. Human beings who live out their uniqueness have natural mechanisms at their disposal that allow them to determine the nature of their existence. people are born knowing how to satisfactorily regulate their vital functions. It’s the capacity that we have to determine our lives.in morphology and physiology. they live with people that give them most tesão. we live with relationships that mix love and affection with blackmail and authoritarianism. These vital functions relate to the basic experiences of life. All unicist understanding is supported by the idea that each individual is a universe in itself. Heteroregulation is a direct consequence of the values that govern the present authoritarian society determining standards of behaviour for individuals. Self-regulated people determine the rhythm and form of their lives in accordance with their ideals. belonging to each being that has never been. as well as in behaviour. Our way of approaching human life. to direct our existence according to the standards. of secondary importance. One of the characteristics of the neurotic state is being unable to regulate oneself and therefore having the tendency to be heteroregulated. When we adopt external references. which is to rely on others’ expectations to determine our lives and to live our lives in accordance with the ideals of others. in order to then help this person to free him or herself. there exists something unique. Self-regulation is a biological condition of the human species. Our greatest objective in Soma is to lead people to discover who they really are and what they really want in life. It is . What exists in a person that differentiates him or her from others is the result of the infinite combinations and genetic arrangements at the time of the formation of the human embryo. From childhood. A hetero-regulated person lives out roles and characters that correspond to the expectations of others. This education is reinforced at school and extends to other social relationships in which there is always some kind of external control and regulation. The body. When he or she manages this. it becomes difficult to realise our own pleasures. serves only to sustain the mind. religion. Spontaneous self-regulation is therefore determined by the search for pleasure. The sensation of incompetence and general impotence. and exactly how he or she is blocked. especially in the areas of love and sex stem from the lack of energy wasted by heteroregulation. In authoritarian societies. of including concern for the body. the market and from the family. laws and norms that emerge from various sources: the state. A neurotic situation is very often directly related to a mechanism in which the individual gives up his or her power to determine his or her life or a part of it. of course. This is the discovery of the unique originality of each being. desires and rhythms that we feel and determine as more or less satisfactory for us. sex. a complex. and to the valuing of the aphorism “I think therefore I am”. emotions. and their social manifestations. such as love. Many of 4 the difficulties presented in therapy are related to the incapacity or inability that people have in defining what they want and like. creativity and social relationships. power substitutes pleasure. We know that. They love the people who please them most. which limit and condition our tastes. preferences and choices. is the epitome of unicity. This happens under the pretence of established morals. the vital functions reorganise themselves naturally. thoughts. they work in an area in which they feel the greatest aptitude and competence. This understanding gives us the practical and unpretentious conditions to do therapy. similar in the vast majority of our characteristics . Science has proved that nature requires the widest possible human diversity.be more important than matter. Nonetheless. The fear of losing the love of parents makes the child a defenceless victim with no options other than to conform and be submissive. there will always be heteroregulated people. nor ever will be part of another being. culture. Rationalism linked human existence to thought.
and authoritarian powers are perpetuated thanks to the existence of these submissive. Neuroses are formed in the conflict that occurs between authoritarian. Neurosis is precisely the rupture with our uniqueness caused by external blocks.000 years. we live in societies made up of mass-produced. He believed that what made neurosis take hold was an energy imbalance. As well as being a product of social heteroregulation. and even before completing the course he became a member and disciple of the Psychoanalytic Society led by Sigmund Freud. which makes a person divided. Each time that someone can’t express his or her originality. The paradox that arises is that. As neurosis is born out of social contact. standardised individuals. repressive standards of behaviour and an individual’s own standards. Freud had an urban. In the twenties he proposed profound changes in the understanding of neurosis. These relationships need to be diverse enough to show the various difficulties each person has in defending his or her unique originality with different people. our species and eco-system lose a contribution to its development and another life loses its biological purpose. it would be impossible to speak of real freedom. To achieve this. Reich and the mysteries of the organism Soma sought its political theories of neurosis from the life and work of the Austrian Wilhelm Reich. without being acquainted with ideas that had been in existence in oriental thinking for more than 5. Reich’s discoveries relating both to the origin of neurosis and to the way it is studied led to his expulsion from the Psychoanalytic Society. He never showed much interest in the social problems of his age. This understanding of neurosis explains why Soma has a specifically political content. weak and insecure. Reich believed that a person isn’t born neurotic. regulating themselves and searching for their uniqueness. Neurotic people are easily controlled and guided. Reich had always been interested in the social study of man. especially with the growing credibility of socialist ideas that burst out in revolutions like that of 1917 in Russia. and which inevitably influenced various areas of scientific and cultural activity. not just a psychic energy imbalance but an imbalance of the unique energy (which we can call bioenergy. 2. or vital energy) that circulates throughout the whole body. The reason for this paradox is simple: individuals that conform to standards of behaviour are easy prey for authoritarian organisations to manipulate. The therapy begins to take place as the individual embarks on his or her revolution to break out of the oppressed-oppressor circle and chooses relationships amongst equals in the search for pleasure. In Soma. genetics is proving that the existence of identical beings is impossible and that this diversity is necessary for the natural development of the species. 5 . uncreative. Reich was responsible for one of the biggest revolutions in contemporary psychology.fundamental to the development of the human species that each being exercises his or her unique originality. he or she becomes neurotic. In contrast to Reich. we create a micro-laboratory in which relationships are formed within the group. He discovered for the West at the end of the 1920’s the idea of vital energy. Our objective is to uncover explicit and disguised power relations and their impact on our lives. religious and bourgeois upbringing. Reich believed that neurosis took hold in the whole body and not just in the mind. it is here that it shows itself most clearly. Born at the end of the nineteenth century. not the politics of institutions. Somatherapy can only be performed in groups. Healthy people live out their originality. but the politics of everyday life present in our every relationship. Differences in understanding of these events created the split between Reich and Freud in their scientific work. and we become distant from our true and original selves. He graduated in medicine. These blockages impede the free working of our organism’s spontaneous self-regulation. repetitive people. On the other. on the one hand. This would be the biological purpose of each life. Reich stated categorically that while there existed any kind of moral regulation that limited man’s desires. This age was one of transformations in Europe.
their character. Soma works with its own physical exercises. Thus. as well as preventing its free movement to other areas. the physiological transformations start to crystallise in the body. making the direct. in other words. A response that should be specific to certain situations becomes continuous. games. allowing the individual to relate freely and directly with the world without defence shields. In adulthood. for example. thus forming a vicious circle: if there is no orgasm. and provokes involuntary movements and sounds as well as a temporary loss of the sense of time and space. and creates a posture and neuromuscular armour which determine a person’s way of being in the world. and constant threats in our emotional life. if an individual has been subjected to continual situations that involve fear or insecurity since childhood. He discovered orgasmic equivalents. the full and satisfactory sexual orgasm works upon the armour by dissolving it for a moment via a short-circuit which frees the tense musculature and restores the flow of energy. the armour starts to generate neurotic symptoms such as phobias. the neuromuscular armour is often so rigid that it prevents full orgasms and the flushing through of natural energy. such as permanently arched and tense shoulders. The full and satisfactory orgasm. dances and varied movements that work as orgasmic equivalents. the body goes through different physiological alterations (increased beating of the heart. It is characterised by a dissolving of the ego. Reich observed that emotions and thoughts always have physical equivalents and vice versa. this armour serves as a protective shield against emotional threats. This leads to an excessive consumption of our vital energy. The orgasm thus functions as a regulating agent. We know that beating neurosis is more complicated than doing . yawning. This is a natural mechanism that allows people to adapt to different stimuli. the neuromuscular or character armour is the physical expression of neurosis. especially in the musculature. for example. This armour can reveal itself through constant muscular contractions or through chronic muscular flaccidity. depression. anxiety. After the conclusion of a bioenergetic exercise. the neurotic symptoms increase and this makes the reaching of orgasm even more difficult. leads to the formation of what he called neuromuscular armour. stretching etc) and other artificial ones (massage. However. with its unblocking function. Reich discovered a natural and biological agent that is capable of dissolving this defensive armour and restoring the free flow of 6 vital energy. Apart from giving great pleasure and feelings of well-being. In clinical observation. In the search for this therapy he researched techniques that broke the vicious circle. sexuality and affection. crying. the armour limits our relationship with the world. they lead to a better perception of the body and of oneself. and also aid the identification of blockages. the armour isn’t broken down. spontaneous expression of emotions and sexuality impossible. Apart from producing a good circulation of energy. which are other means of arriving at the therapeutic effects provided by a real sexual orgasm. This allows people to enjoy a state of profound relaxation after orgasm. as social norms dictate. and impotence in the areas of creativity. For Reich. The formation of the neuromuscular armour occurs above all during our childhood development due to permanent blockages in sexuality. laughing. However. in a threatening situation. There are natural equivalents (dancing. dilation of the pupils. There are parts of the body that are constantly and intensely rigid. or. a reserve of energy starts to build up in the participant’s body. Reich affirmed that therapy was necessary to eliminate the chronic persistence of the armour.The defective distribution of bioenergy. This study gave birth to the revolutionary book The Function of the Orgasm. exercises) all of which are capable of mobilising the armour. Armoured people also have difficulty in finding satisfactory partners and involving themselves fully enough to attain a satisfactory sex life. restoring the circulation of bioenergy. muscular contraction) that prepare the soma for an adequate response to the threat. An emotion always brings about changes in the circulation of bioenergy because of localised muscular contraction and changes in breathing and in posture. is a lot more than just ejaculation in the man and vaginal pleasure in the woman. This happens. In childhood. incompetence.
Reich located seven areas. At the same time. When people can’t be themselves nor live out their ideas and desires. and this is determined by our somatic armour. These are the ocular. There is no method and it has no conceivable end. A product of the mixture with martial arts (such as karate and ju-jitsu). amongst other 7 3. In Soma. Capoeira Angola is less well-known than its variation (regional). the cervical. Capoeira is loving. the thoracic. It’s both a courteous habit that we create inside of us and something that belongs to the vagabond”. Symptoms such as anxiety and depression are alarm signals indicating that there’s something wrong going on – it’s essential not to put out this red light until its causes are understood. Capoeira Angola seeks to preserve the traditions and rituals of the past. and as a game. the fight against neurosis involves cleaning out and becoming immune to the power mechanisms that have always acted and will continue to act on people’s lives. Capoeira works as a strong orgasmic equivalent. Capoeira: the mandinga 2 of the slave with a burning desire for freedom Capoeira Angola was incorporated definitively into Soma when we realised the importance of a more constant and efficient physical exercise to help break down the muscular armour and to help economise energy in order to confront the neurosis. On the contrary. They diminish tension in the musculature but aren’t sufficient to prevent the armour taking hold again. It is only harmful and pathological when it becomes chronic. We also know that the neuromuscular armour in itself isn’t harmful. it is a natural defence mechanism we have at our disposal. dissolving muscular rigidity. most experienced capoeirista can say he knows all there is to know about it. as theatre. slow sweeping movements intended. All this is achieved through liberating bioenergetic exercises that work as orgasmic equivalents. the mother of capoeira which was developed during slavery in the forests and slave quarters on the plantations as the negros disguised their fight as a dance. not even the wisest. which was developed in the 1930s when Mestre Bimba created the ‘luta regional baiana’ (regional fight of Bahia). the oral. Mestre Pastinha is considered the guardian of capoeira Angola. mobilising practically all the muscles in the body and liberating stagnant energy. The history of Capoeira Angola is similar to that of Soma. since that constitutes the true cause and origin of the neurosis. We only work with Capoeira Angola. Capoeira Angola is characterised by low. they enter into a defensive neurotic state. thereby transforming their bodies into fighting weapons.a few bioenergetic exercises and that we need to defeat the armour’s social and political causes. which is the internalised expression of the political and ideological conflicts resulting from repressive and authoritarian behaviour. Both emerged as ways of freeing individuals in oppressive situations. or rings. we prioritise the understanding of the political and ideological conflict we face. therefore. in the armour where muscular tension is formed. The slaves invented capoeira to free themselves of the slavery imposed by the whites in Brazil. This leads to the re-establishment of the free flow of bioenergy that heralds a return to health. In the permanent struggle we engage in against authoritarianism. the abdominal and the pelvic. The movements in capoeira (the swinging ginga from side to side. The neuromuscular armour is. bioenergetic exercises are only temporary. not perverse. the movements of defence and attack) work upon each ring simultaneously as the body is in constant neuromuscular activity. The mandingas and games characterise the capoeirista’s fighting strategy. regional capoeira has undergone various modifications. regarding it as the “mandinga of the slave with a burning desire for freedom. work on political consciousness takes place during group sessions. stretching and contracting with the pulsating movement of life. Nowadays. a direct consequence of an authoritarian pedagogical game that teaches us to accept standards that are not our own. The search for these causes lead us to the discovery of the power relations that repress and block us. becoming more competitive and violent. the results of . In Soma. the diaphragmatic.
the movements. In the roda. Perls was married to a physicist who was studying the area of gestalt. the sound of the berimbau. and are involved in such a way that emotion. everything in capoeira has a playful aspect. such as Tai chi chuan. their bodies show this through posture. Capoeira Angola develops our aggression. In this way. the outcome of which is determined by playful malice and skill. The confrontation with the mechanisms of power that try to prevent self-regulation and the freedom to do and be whatever we want involves a fight. libertarian lives. mirroring this. Repressed aggression is what generates violence. and these movements activate a large number of muscles. they don’t look to become Mestres4 but are always looking to improve their game in the capoeira roda and. Soma doesn’t set out to create capoeiristas. After overcoming the initial 8 difficulties. their performance in their daily. to trip the other player up. Soma therapists constantly practise Capoeira Angola in their lives as a physical therapy and in order to instruct their clients adequately. As they are anarchists. It is an autonomous activity designed to maintain the health of those who practise it. we are repressing our impulses that will sooner or later be transformed into attitudes of violent compulsion. Life is a constant string of choices. we are also preparing our emotions and finding the courage and the belief to achieve our objectives. capoeira ends up becoming a synonym for pleasure. Besides this. the participants play with their complete somas. The disposition to fight (or to ‘play’. The other parts . If people live their daily lives with attitudes of submission. The word gestalt doesn’t have a direct translation into English.the pedagogy of bioenergy. swimming. you play it. African dance etc. indispensable factors in the process of change. This obviously depends on the desire or tesão of each individual. the roda. Being Jewish. Some wouldn’t exist without the simultaneous and constant practice of Capoeira Angola. Our physical disposition mirrors the state of our emotional life. he fled from Nazi Germany and settled in South Africa where he participated in the founding of the Psychoanalytic society. effectively massaging the body. the sociology and ethics serve to sustain and guide it. Capoeira Angola also acts upon the somatic armour. Living the present Soma found its methodology for therapeutic action in the discoveries and theories of gestalt therapy. a branch of physics. The songs. In German it means . none is as fast and efficient as capoeira Angola in triggering both the movement of the armour and the willingness to fight. capoeira Angola allows us to gain greater consciousness and awareness of our bodies. In the preparation of the body for the fight. Each time we give up on the realisation of our desires. Gestalt therapy originated in the second half of the twentieth century from the research of the German. and using aggression in its natural biological form means going out and getting what we want. However. the politics. 4. and a way of playing with the act of living. Frederick Perls. the mandinga. The roda is both a training for the fight and a diagnosis as to how we are fighting. It is the true therapeutic force and the most striking metaphor of Soma. Being aggressive is part of the act of living. but it’s important not to confuse aggression with violence. such as prejudice and the fear of risk. This is why you don’t fight capoeira. After moving to the United States. reason and the physical fully integrate with each other . He became a psychoanalyst and practised for many years. It proposes that its participants acquire the minimum necessary skills so that capoeira can be used as a diagnostic tool. It is a game. as capoeiristas call it) in the roda3 is linked to our attitudes to the fight in life. he broke with psychoanalysis and undertook the research that led him to the creation of gestalt therapy. helping the process of ideological change. Perls was a disciple of Freud and for some time a client of Reich. Capoeira is more than a simple dance or fight. Perls adapted the gestalt theories to psychology. We researched other kinds of physical exercise that produce similar effects in the disarming of the character armour.things. Capoeira Angola serves as a therapeutic tool that can be used autonomously after the therapy has been completed. it is a way of life.
from the physiological to the professional. and from . At each moment. clients acquire understanding and energy to close and open gestalts. not being able to respond to his or her natural desires and impulses as spontaneous self-regulation requires. To illustrate what a ‘gestalt’ is from the psychological point of view. In Soma. as this is where we find open gestalts. Energy reserves are low. be it for aesthetic pleasure. therefore. The gestalt of this moment is his or her dynamic relationship with the seascape.approximately ‘the form and the manner in which situations present and organise themselves in front of and inside us’. We work with the here and now. as at each moment there is always something that is of greater priority. becoming the new object of observation. more concerned with the unfinished past and the imagined future. he or she needs to acknowledge this gestalt and confess this love to close the gestalt (what the loved one does with the declaration of love opens another gestalt). Everything that is alive is permanently opening and closing gestalts. the focus of interest. which represent the physical or emotional necessity that has emerged. or with incomplete solutions. more pleasurable means of economic survival is found. So all situations in life. is an eternal process of opening and closing gestalts. although we do reflect on the past’s influence on the present. can open gestalts ranging from the simplest necessity to more complex ideological necessities. how to be. This person removes him or herself from the present. which they fill with expectations. On an even wider scale. Another example is someone who works in a job that he or she doesn’t enjoy. another gestalt can be the search for an ideology. as Reich had already affirmed. More and more gestalts inevitably open which end up accumulating and disorganising a person’s life physically and/or emotionally. If a person loves someone. A seagull then flies into view. looking at the sea. Unlike the majority of traditional therapies. how to process and react to life situations. This is the mechanism of spontaneous self-regulation. can’t obtain the profession they are suited for. There is an excessive consumption of vital energy when gestalts aren’t being closed and the organism isn’t regulating its necessities. The neurotic person is therefore no longer responsible for the act of living. A gestalt is closed when the figure disappears or we lose interest in it. don’t live out the sexuality that gives them the most satisfaction etc. how to be spontaneous and sincere in any situation. He observed that everyday situations throw up necessities that the organism determines as being more or less urgent. 9 how to act. the organism indicates its figure and background. Therefore a new gestalt is formed. We need to satisfy the hunger. Our act of living. the following example should help. but of secondary importance. If we are hungry. how to live with and relate to people socially. A person is on the beach. hunger becomes the figure or the focus of our gestalt. This lack of energy. the neurotic person finds it extremely difficult to close his or her gestalts thereby leaving life situations open and without solution. Each gestalt is always comprised of a ‘figure’ and a background. The notion of Gestalt emphasises how certain situations truly perturb and disrupt a person’s life. thereby closing the gestalt to make way for another to open. Perls noted a very close relationship between the study of gestalts and clinical observations of his clients in therapy. For Perls. we don’t propose a return to the past. as what makes a life unsatisfactory is the existence of many situations without any solution. is the main factor responsible for the appearance of neurotic symptoms and the sensation of impotence and incompetence in confronting life. The seagull becomes the ‘figure’. This gestalt will only be closed when an alternative. out of curiosity or for any other motive. The sea and the sky stay in the background representing everything that is present. and the most important and meaningful element in that gestalt. She or he feels incapable of seeking out pleasure and life becomes unsatisfactory because a person can’t realise the love they want. for example. corresponding respectively to what is of priority and what is secondary in a situation. Another fundamental contribution of Perls was to acknowledge the vital necessity of closing open gestalts in order to attain energetic equilibrium. This is why we always work by evaluating and studying the present. We ‘open a gestalt’ when the seagull becomes the target for contemplation. as lots of energy is wasted keeping the gestalts open.
the elements of antipsychiatry we use are those concerned with helping to prevent neurosis.here we work on possibilities and strategies for closing them in order to prevent the wastage of vital energy. There are damaging complications in the way people communicate and relate to each other which lead initially to confusion and. Let’s look at an example: An eighteen-year-old girl wants to leave home and live separately 10 5. and long violent internments in psychiatric institutions. as capoeiristas put it. insulin shock treatment. Soma doesn’t work with people in advanced states of emotional unbalance but with those who haven’t yet lost contact with reality and are living through neurotic conflicts and difficulties. ingenuity and a certain ‘cunningness’. The antipsychiatrists stated that what came to be known as ‘madness’ is used by authoritarian systems as a way of persecuting heretics and rebels. Useless and lamentable therapeutic processes were used. and conscious of each situation in life. It appears mainly in family and sexual relationships. Traditional psychiatry justifies the maintenance of psychiatric hospitals. and we look to raise objective awareness of how each situation happens rather than indulge in the interpretation of why each situation happens. believes that madness is produced by political mechanisms. However. a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ together. It was believed that madness was the mental illness caused by hereditary. For this reason. At the end of the therapy. It emerged at the end of the 1940s and was developed in the 1950s. and proposes coherent solutions that pose a threat to the established order. attentive to and conscious of the present moment involves agility. The practice of Capoeira Angola is also an excellent diagnostic and therapeutic agent of how we are living each gestalt moment. Any loss of contact with the present can result in suffering a blow or a fall. to the disorganisation of thought and the loss of reality. such as electroshock treatment. one always being the opposite of the other. The production of madness The understanding of political and social factors that block originality and self-regulation led Soma into contact with research on the power mechanisms responsible for neurosis and even madness. This research led to important discoveries linked mainly to the study of the pragmatics of human communication. consequently. Revolutionary studies about human behaviour led to the creation of a new science called antipsychiatry. and it is how love is used to dominate and breed neurosis in today’s neoliberal society. As its name suggests. we reunite all the hows in order to reach some whys. The roda is a permanent exercise for being in the present. transmitted by either the same means of communication (speech) or by different means (speech and physical expression / gesture). Antipsychiatry concentrated on the study of schizophrenia. which are in reality prisons with no social or therapeutic function whatsoever. two simultaneous messages are sent. It’s a way of affirming yet denying something at the same time. The necessity of being alert. We are therefore concerned with neither a clinical nor a confessional therapy. Therefore. chemotherapy. One of the main discoveries of antipsychiatry was that emotional disturbances basically result from disturbances in human communication. Franco Basaglia and Ronald D Laing. Antipsychiatry negates practically everything that traditional psychiatry says in respect of mental illness. Antipyschiatry on the other hand. . Therapy takes place through the discussion of what each person experiences in each session. the most dramatic breakthrough of antipsychiatry was to articulate how the doublebind only works when there exists a strong affective tie. biochemical or endocrinological factors. although these factors were never actually elucidated. which is most crudely and commonly labelled ‘madness’. This occurs from childhood when children are subjected to a paradoxical kind of communication called the double-bind. capoeira teaches us how to be whole and present. initially by Gregory Bateson and after by David Cooper. the best-known form of mental disorganisation.
honest language stating a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It is also used to give your consent to a proposal). In Brazil. he loves you so much . which is fundamentally where the mechanisms of domestication of individuals takes place. In the case of the eighteen-year-old. Therefore. In various situations. The mother’s unspoken communication of how this decision will affect her could lead to the daughter giving up her desire for freedom and autonomy. The double bind is the main weapon of social domination because it happens daily. Therefore. blackmail and double-binds. Every person that has been ‘double-binded’ becomes an expert ‘double-binder’. We look at how we are confused and how we confuse others. So Soma works on communication in human relations. The pedagogy of freedom Neurosis is the product of authoritarian relationships that begin in the traditional family. and the confusion that accompanies it starts to deform our understanding and our behaviour. as it is from here that the first traces of neurosis emerge. the family mirrors and reproduces the state. she merely wants to live her own life without breaking off her relationship with her family so she talks to her mother about her decision. I’m OK. this communication doesn’t result in a double bind. When a person receives mixed messages from someone with whom there is no affective tie. In the groups. a child who has been brought up using love (through the double-bind) to control natural liberating desires ends up becoming apathetic. we aim to stimulate a new way of living together in which communication is based on sincerity. What prejudices communication is the existence of two equally valid possibilities. If the mother had shown her honest opinion. In this case. The mother says she’s happy for her daughter. there is a common expression which is often used in a double-binding way. It’s rare for this child to become an autonomous. It’s necessary to transform the conventional form of social organisation based on the traditional family. leaving them weak and dependent. but be careful with him. it also guarantees the maintenance of bourgeois society. the fact that you don’t want to live with us anymore. incompetent or impotent. like I do. people agree to certain things with a ‘Tudo bem’(‘OK then’) even when 11 not liking or agreeing with them. being gregarious animals. decisive. while her tears affirm that this decision is making her suffer. in the loving relationship and in the relationship between parent and child. need others to survive. 6. you know he’s already had a heart attack. sincere. The eighteen-year-old receives a double-bind. as his or her ideas and intentions have always been questioned or disqualified. there would have been a clear deadlock. Men and women. but is lived and enjoyed. relationships become polluted by lies. there was a paradoxical. People often feel that things aren’t OK and then feel confused by or guilty about this feeling. Due to a lack of sincerity. This is the form of communication used by the majority of people who become neurotic. but we believe it needs to be ethically different from the family organisation that we know so that love isn’t used to dominate and breed neurosis. but. two channels of communication were used in the message (speech and facial expression) but the mother could have used just one channel.. It only works when the stakes are raised by emotional involvement and the giver and receiver both play the game. As soon as we start examining the double-bind and its effects. There was no direct. the only way to avoid the double bind is if one of the parties doesn’t play his or her part. double-binding message. The power mechanisms that distance . the famous ‘tudo bem’ (meaning the interrogative ‘How are you?’ as well as its answer I’m fine. “Your father will understand. we are fighting against the primary mechanism of authoritarianism in relationships.” Whatever the form. She’s saying with her words that her daughter’s choice is natural and healthy. some kind of human grouping. Such communication is constantly used in the development of individuals in our society. As Reich put it. courageous person. we study the double-binds that we receive and also apply to other people we love and have affective ties with..from her parents. needs to exist. saying. In Soma. at the same time she can’t contain her tears. and this is how authoritarianism works on the microsocial level. which leaves her confused and guilty about her choice. such as the family.
Anarchism doesn’t seek the possession of power. We are neuroticised in order to be more easily dominated and what is even more serious is that we ourselves become neuroticising agents in our relationships with others. With the fall of the communist block in Eastern Europe and the end of the Marxist dream of state socialism. Soma therefore proposes anarchism in our daily lives. In our work. Anarchism doesn’t propose any kind of predetermined social organisation. This is the condition for existing in the fullest. Anarchism is intertwined with all the psychological theories on which Soma is based. Any change in society is only possible from the roots upwards. uniqueness and originality lead to a standardisation of behaviour in which it is normal to sacrifice personal projects and dreams in order to keep the social machine working. It’s not an objective to be reached but rather a process of 12 transformation to be set in motion. Their character armours are flexible once they have lost the fear of the fight and social and personal confrontation. What we do is show people how it is possible to fight for their freedom. The word anarchy comes from Greek and means absence of authority or government. never in the opposite direction imposed by a government . the kind of order that is demanded or determined by a group of people. won’t utilise mechanisms of power in their affective relationships. This pejorative association has been used by those who believe in the necessity of an institutional power. we have no doubt whatsoever that it is only possible to change this scheme of reproduction and perpetuation of the capitalist system through the practice of anarchism. Anarchy is the expression of a natural order. The main strategy these ideologies use to try and disqualify anarchism is to associate it with disorder. Each person needs to develop and mature individually in order to become autonomous. government merely serves to maintain the privilege of minorities. People who live according to anarchist principles in their daily lives won’t subordinate themselves to any form of authoritarianism from people. This means that neurosis condemns life to a meagre pawn piece in the institutional workings of the capitalist system. but the destruction of centralised and hierarchised mechanisms so that each individual acts on their own authority. This needs to occur. Anarchism has been opposed since the end of the nineteenth century both by capitalism and by authoritarian Marxist socialism.even if the government considers itself ‘socialist’. however. then. It’s obvious. They therefore conserve energy to close gestalts and . a government or any other form of authoritarian organisation. but starting from now in people’s daily lives. anarchism functions as a methodological reference in order to identify authoritarian power games which are the source of neurosis. confusion and mess. even within an authoritarian society. As Somatherapists we look to transform our daily lives with this practice. a party. a natural phenomenon that we have at our disposal. however. They can communicate sincerely and directly. The French thinker Elisée Reclus states that anarchy is the highest expression of order. thereby truly socialising power in the process. anarchism or libertarian socialism is the only ideology that can be considered an alternative to the capitalist hegemony. proves the opposite. The anarchist revolution occurs in the building of a new ethic in personal and social relations in which domination is replaced by solidarity. most complete sense. order and discipline are fundamental for anarchism to take place. above all.people from their self-regulation. Despite what is commonly believed. the state or corporate organisations in this neoliberal society and. self-regulating and responsible for his/her life. that only an ideological change in the way we live together can break the vicious circle of capitalism. an authority in order to govern the people in which case government would be the guarantee of an organised and just society. Anarchist practice moves its participants towards a new society by eliminating authoritarian power and searching for the reestablishment of natural order and self-organised social harmony. However. History. Never. by adopting the ideology of anarchism. not in the future with the end of capitalism. In Soma. we don’t attempt to convert participants of Soma into anarchists precisely because an individual’s choice of ideology needs to be an entirely free decision.
We explore loving. There are thirty six exercises in the therapy that are chosen according to the stage in the therapy and dynamic process of the group. In short. creative and productive potential always basing new conquests on the ethic of sincerity. clients are free to agree and disagree with the therapist’s ideas. each one lasting about three hours. There are four sessions a month. The free and playful spirit of Soma stems from the participants having the space and opportunity to be themselves. Part Two: How Soma works 1. At the end of the workshop. The anarchist vision that provides us with the backbone of our methodology can be observed in the self-regulating process of the group and the relationship between the therapist and group. Methodology group dynamic to form and the therapy to start taking place. during the year / year and a half of therapy. to live out their tesão and their differences as a biological necessity. In Soma. It is not a therapy to help people adapt better to the system. really benefit from the therapy. which entails leading a life without submission and authoritarianism. exercising leadership in a non-authoritarian way. As this proposal suggests. It aims at the development of creativity that leads to the building of a new social organisation that is freer and more just. or their true nature and unique originality. they work on aggression. Let’s now see how the therapy and the group function in practice. openness and solidarity. The exercises are adaptations of drama and dance exercises and children’s games. the therapist or the group. The somatherapist socialises his knowledge and ideology to the group so that members may. working and producing with other people. sensuality and on provoking a greater sensory awareness. who could have a completely different ideology with opposing values and objectives. The transformations that occur in the micro-laboratory of the soma groups are extended to the everyday relationships of the participants. He or she participates in the group dynamic as a member of that group. be able to acquire autonomy in their lives without developing any kind of dependency on the therapy. affection. The proposal is therefore. we experiment with a new and revolutionary way of living. In the group. the participants are invited to start a new group. creativity. helping people to learn to discover their ‘Soma’. The participants enter a less armoured. This is how we achieve the revolutionary social outcome that is non-existent in all other therapies. The sessions are very varied and apart from reducing the chronic tension of the neuromuscular armour as has already been mentioned. more playful emotional state in which they physically 13 The ideas discussed up until now show why Soma is a bioenergetic therapy only practised in groups with a determined duration and an explicit political content: anarchism. The bioenergetic exercises take place in the first half of the session. while at the same time living and communicating with the other. The life of a somatherapist is exposed and open to all. New members can join up to the third month. Clients of other therapies can spend years not knowing anything about the life of the therapist. only those who are searching to change their lives and not those who are seeking relief from their neurosis. The majority don’t involve verbal communication. for revolution in everyday life. in which the act of living is not limited to mere survival. at which point the group closes for the . sensitivity.are able to discover their own form and means of creating and loving. More than a simple therapy. Soma is a pedagogy. Soma is a process of learning how to be free. The therapy groups are formed at random by interested people who take part in a demonstration workshop and discussion. People who don’t participate in the initial workshop can also join the group.
taking into consideration all the hows to reach some whys. sincerity is the most important tool. as well as what’s happening in each person’s dayto-day life. These bandeiras are studied in the next stage of the session. This consists of a warm-up. impotence. one is always reserved for Capoeira Angola. In Soma we adopt self-organisation as a basic guiding principle in the therapy. Each person is therefore responsible for the practical organisation of the work. sweating.) to the discovery of pleasure and euphoria. When people show their difficulties even though they are trying to control or hide them (in other words.literally ‘giving the flag’. always searching for how bandeiras happen and never why. as in every Soma session. As always. without the therapist in what we call grupão (big group). The group starts to experiment with a revolutionary way of relating socially. The therapist sits on the edge of the circle (as she or he didn’t directly participate in the exercise and witnesses the discussion). aiming at a new form of social production based primarily on sincerity and anarchist solidarity. These descriptions go towards a more sturdy diagnosis at a later date.communicate difficulties and blockages. Everything that a person tries to hide. Nor is the objective of the discussion the search for truth. In the big group. by controlling gestures. In the big groups. lack of centralisation and the division of profit. self-organisation can be extended to all other areas of social life. . and is characterised by mutual support. Social and political causes are brought into perspective. sensations of disequilibrium and sickness) that occur during the exercises. how the group is working and how the therapist is working. As with the other sessions. We try to describe the sensations and perceptions that we feel now. the organised material. and often more than this. but an exercise in sincerity. new bandeiras emerge. movements and expressions is revealed by alterations in the neuro-vegetative system (dizziness. These meetings are of fundamental importance to the ideology and practice of Soma. expressing precisely the way each person felt and sensed (or saw) the others. Self-organisation is a typically libertarian means of production. Of the four monthly sessions. Leaders naturally emerge to fill coordinating roles which are then rotated from time to time to prevent any fixed leaderships. Participants of the groups sit in a circle and talk about their experience of the exercise with the help of the somatic memory (everything that the whole body registered as sensations and perceptions. The therapist closes the session with a synthesis of the material that emerged from the group in the exercise. This is not to judge or qualify them but rather with the objective of facilitating understanding of these blockages. as well as some ideas on how 14 these causes can be confronted by the ideology and practice of Soma. Apart from these sessions. one which is completely new and revolutionary without the presence of authoritarianism or centralisation. It emerged initially in Yugoslavia as an industrial experiment. repression etc. education and communities. the participants discuss the therapy. the relationships between the participants are strengthened and deepened. We try to decode into words what was experienced physically. from difficulties (fear. Instead of interpreting them. should help the group in the understanding of the workings of their neuroses. Everyone participates. We could therefore also talk about self-organised love. We also talk about the bandeiras observed in other people. participants are encouraged to understand how the neurotic mechanisms surfacing in the exercises work. a training session and a Capoeira roda during which. principally because it is in these big groups that we learn how to work in a selforganising manner (autogestão). This synthesis. intervening when he or she has a comment or observation related to the exercise. The discussion of the exercise is the moment to work on verbal communication. the group meets once a month at the very minimum. giving an involuntary sign in a problem area) we call it dar bandeira . Despite having originated in factories. not just in thought). The discussion has another gestalt characteristic. Each person talks about what he or she felt. not to embark on interpretations related to the past. there is a discussion and the therapist closes the session. contributing and receiving support.
When the group has completed all of the 36 exercises after about a year. induction. Each session lasts 3 hours and is dedicated to just one person from the group.Discussions in the big group often trigger other projects following the principle of selforganisation. These meetings are also very important for the socialisation and integration of the participants. Group decisions always take into account the objectives of all. This could mean a trip to the cinema. as he or she is also susceptible to neurosis despite being better equipped to fight against it. The hot seat in Soma divides up into 4 stages. The majority of therapeutic practices sustain the image of a therapist being the only person able to deal with neuroses. a play or a newsletter etc. as has already been said. as each one represents the unique dynamic of each unique group at different moments of its development. The methodology of Soma is composed of these four elements: session. we reach consensus without voting. is fundamental for Soma. there is a session for the therapist and the assistant. we carry out two two-day sessions in the countryside. The 15 exercise of Capoeira Angola in the sessions is orientated by the therapist and / or his assistants. which are social meetings that the group (or part of it) organises. Each component is essential and needs to be engaged in throughout the therapy. However. such as rivers.the hot seat (cadeira quente). These projects could have some financial return or could be some kind of social intervention such as a demonstration. In addition. the somatherapist abandons his/her adopted role of leader. a beach or any other kind of social gathering. The characteristics of the big group are vast and varied. These two regions have similar characteristics. At the end of the therapy. such as psychoanalysis. We therefore ask members of the group to train two or three times a week. Such residues. The hot seat session was created shortly after Soma began. After all group members have taken their turns in the hot seat. an experienced capoeirista (often someone who has already done Somatherapy) is found to teach the game of Capoeira Angola competently. waterfalls. If an impasse occurs. capoeira. The sessions are generally held in a sports hall or other spaces that the group rents out. opportunism. As we adopt an anarchist ideology and are against the authoritarianism of the majority over the minority. This is the moment to close the therapeutic work. the training that takes place in the therapy sessions is inadequate to develop the practice. when Freire realised that the therapy was still incomplete. clay and areas of forest land. in the Chapada Diamantina. which we take advantage of for specific therapeutic exercises. questions and the closing stage. affirmations. We regard this vision as authoritarian and unreal. The somatherapist must also open him or herself up to be the focus and target of criticism as much as any other participant in the group. It is a moment of group self-organisation in which the therapist and the group work together to ensure that each participant gains the greatest understanding possible about the social and political factors that inhibit the expression of individuality. Capoeira Angola. whose performance during . the groups possess a strong therapeutic power. it is common that residues emerge from our bourgeois and authoritarian upbringing and education. which is the minimum necessary for any person to benefit from capoeira. In this process. it is because of some kind of authoritarian residue. a party. parasitism and domination are evaluated critically in the big group. In other training sessions. The groups in the south of the country go to Visconde de Mauá in Rio de Janeiro and those in the north and northeast go to Lençóis. the group presents all the impressions of the hotseater gathered during the therapy. submission. He created a session similar to Perls’ hot seat in which he studied dreams. This is a practice that is condemned by other therapies. Bahia. big group and social events. Soma eliminates the myth that generally surrounds the therapist. There is also what we call marrom (literally ‘brown’). To more easily attain the natural and biological objectives that Soma defends. During the process. both in front of the group. The hot seater sits beside the therapist. which allow the group to experience the therapy in direct contact with nature. the final phase of the therapy begins . accepting and respecting differences to reach unity within diversity.
Each stage has both a diagnostic and therapeutic effect. This raising of consciousness is fundamental to achieving the maturity necessary for the group to take their hot seats. cooperation and complicity in the relationships and projects of the group. The resistance to the therapy occurs in the conflict between ridding oneself of defensive strategies which are characteristic of the neurosis and the possibility of change. the dynamic phase. As each transformation in life opens new opportunities for diagnosis and therapy. no part of which can exist in isolation. the group generally meets with the therapist for an evaluation of life after the therapy. and not the symptoms themselves. 2. Firmly rooted in the ideas of anarchism. (chão quente) and as many sessions can be undertaken as the group sees fit. crisis.therapy is assessed by the group. as much on a personal level (self-awareness) as on a social level (new strategies for living together). more pleasurable kind of interaction brings out each person’s difficulties in living out his or her originality and in living with differences. getting over the crisis and the hot seat. A neurotic person. his or her creative and productive potential. Somatherapy is a dynamic and cyclical mechanism. in the most complete form possible. It establishes a state of collaboration. After the last hot seat. to experiencing risk instead of the security of old defence strategies. The group dynamic forms when an affective and political tie develops amongst the members. The socialisation stage is the beginning of the process of change which is necessary to throw out the residues of our bourgeois socialisation. It is through the group dynamic that the therapy effectively takes place. The first step in the therapeutic process is the perception and awareness of the blockages that generate neurosis. The struggle which is established between the therapy and resistance to the therapy ends up leading the groups to a point of crisis. the therapy ends. Soma is a therapy that takes effect when and if the participants enter a playful spirit. Moving out of this defensive strategy leads the person to the experience of something new. We show how neurotic symptoms are generated by blockages that prevent the free expression of a person’s unique originality. introduction to the process. The challenge of immersing oneself in a more sincere. The early exercises facilitate the socialising process of the group. Overcoming resistance is fundamental to beating the neurosis. This atmosphere allows each person to realise. having recourse to an ideological weapon. This is an unconscious fighting mechanism against the therapeutic process in which the client contradicts his conscious intention and desire to bring about change in his life. and depends upon the efficiency of the therapeutic process of the whole group. the therapy or the therapist. Participants can begin to have some control over their neuroses. The overcoming of crisis represents the therapeutic turning point. the participants of the group come to appreciate that our work is geared towards an awareness of the social and political causes that generate the symptoms. Therapeutic process Soma can be understood as having the following stages. After about a year. such as neuro-vegetative reactions when the armour is mobilised. even though he or she suffers from the neurosis. In the introduction at the beginning of the group. This is called hot ground. Participants are encouraged to experiment with a different way of relating to each other. Crisis represents something positive for us. leading to significant results in the therapy. A good group dynamic is always the product of common ideology and objectives. 16 . as it is through crisis that we face obstacles and barriers in life that we are impelled to find solutions to. With this understanding. we discuss all the theoretical and practical information necessary for the ideological and practical understanding of Soma. Resistance arises out of the fear of change and emerges in a variety of ways. or rejecting the group. collective work has more force and quality than the sum of individual works. manages to mould him or herself into finding a way to survive. socialising.
Social relations will be more ecological with a practical transformation in people’s 17 everyday lives and in the values of modern life. searching to satisfy vital human pulses in balance with the environment. fights against bourgeois society by unconventional political means. in all parties. The human being is being destroyed by the neurosis that consumes. Subjective ecology involves developing specific strategies that come to modify or reinvent ways of living out love relationships in the family.Part Three: Soma. based on individual autonomy and collective solidarity is the only possibility if we want an ecological society. standardises and distances it from its biological and natural role. Social ecology. The anarchist ethic. however. This ethic can only exist in society if it also exists in each individual. The capitalist system will not be able to find a way out of its environmental problems because. at school and at work. This is the direct relation between anarchism. in order for this to happen. True ecology can only be realised by working against what causes damage to the environment. To do Soma is to discover the future. that which is concerned with the individual. the whole ethic based on profit and authoritarian power would have to change. We are talking about subjective ecology. sign treaties and fly the flag for the environment. in the social arena. To try and preserve the environment without breaking with the authoritarian structures that generate this destruction is fruitless and only takes away from the force of the ecological movement. The economic interests of these countries prevent effective measures being taken. the social and the subjective) reunite in a process of both practising mutual support and searching to live out our individual differences to the full. The ecology of capitalism is a farce. anarchism stops being an ideological utopia and becomes a biological necessity in order to preserve the human species. We have to learn how to invent strong. The three ecologies (of the environment. stealing. anarchism and ecology The world is going through a period of stalemate in relation to threats to the environment. But the results are frustrating. This knowledge is unravelled in the search for new forms of affective and sexual relationships and in the unblocking of creative potential and unique originality. Within this vision of ecology. Men and women will only respect the environment if they learn to respect themselves. It is installed in all institutions. To accumulate wealth. trade unions. exploitation and even the destruction of the environment. it is never possible to agree as to how to stop the destruction of nature. any kind of behaviour is permitted. and won’t be able to avoid it without undoing and destroying itself. Environmental ecology can’t exist without social ecology. The ethic that destroys nature is the same one that justifies social domination and the exploitation of one person by another. Soma aims to develop our competence in life and to show how it is possible to live on the margins of this authoritarian society. and the conclusion is that intentions to save the planet never get off the paper they are written on. social (and consequently environmental) ecology. families and schools. The hope of freedom and social justice is just a dream if we insist on fighting capitalism from within these traditional institutions that are at its service. This is the essence of the market economy. We believe that in this way we are working to implant an anarchist society with its characteristic revolutionary. Soma reads the main anarchists with an ecological objective. Capitalism is on the path to suicide. We know today that of the 100. Capitalist countries stage meetings. ecology and Soma. pleasurable and self-organised ties in our community life.000 genes that compose the . The death of authoritarian socialism made capitalism the dominant ideology in the world. Revolution has to leave its normal place in political discussion and become a reality in interpersonal relations as we exchange the capitalist ethic for the anarchist. legitimising and perpetuating it. Our work is towards a real and complete knowledge of our own bodies and their spontaneous pulses of desire.
The remaining 90% appear to be asleep. 2 3 18 . It’s the force that stimulates you to do something with your utmost attention. and many mestres are authoritarian in their approach to teaching and the organisation of their groups. It is to them. love and excitement. This gives us the hope that a genetic and cultural mutation is happening. part of a circle in which the participants sit watching the games and singing until they decide to enter the roda to play themselves.genetic code. In the absence of an adequate translation. (Its adjectival form is tesudo) Mandinga is an African word meaning approximately ‘magic’ or ‘spell’. we believe that the existence of a mestre limits the freedom of each capoeirista in the group as he imposes his way of teaching rather than encouraging each capoeirista to become responsible for his or her learning of the game. we use a bare 10%. The roda is the ritual of capoeira. The true revolutionaries. I will use the word tesão throughout. The idea of having a mestre is also a fairly recent one that coincided with the greater acceptance of capoeira within Brazilian society from the 1930s onwards. These mutants are the heirs of the future and are responsible for the building of a better society. transforming the human into a being better equipped to adapt to the environment. that we offer Soma. Your tesão for a lover or friend means that you want to be with that person who fulfils you. lovers of freedom and in love with utopia. but is also much wider than this. stimulates you. are already here amongst us. we have not managed to decipher their potential functions in our lives as a species and as individuals. Notes 1 There is no word in English that is ample enough to convey the meaning of tesão. It means ‘desire’ in the sexual sense. It involves a line of musicians. In most capoeira groups. It is a mixture of passion. these mutants whom we call coyotes. In Soma. All participants in a roda rotate to fulfil the various roles of musicians. 4 Mestres are the teachers and guardians of knowledge about capoeira. care and love. or rather. sitting or standing. there is a distinct hierarchy between mestre and student. players and singers.
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