Soma: An anarchist therapy

Body to body (A synthesis of Somatherapy)
tradução: Ceri Buckmaster

Introduction
Soma is a therapy that also moves into the area of pedagogy, and in which we gain awareness of how we learn and the best way for us to learn. To do Soma is to strive to be free and so to be revolutionary and happy. It means transforming life by the union of three fundamental and inseparable elements: beauty, happiness, and pleasure, which are the components of tesão 1. Sem tesão não há solução. Without tesão,there’s no solution. Our health depends on the permanent presence of everything that is tesudo (full of tesão) for us. For this reason, the therapy is also a beautiful, happy, and deliciously pleasurable act. We look to eliminate the tendency to associate therapy with suffering, discomfort and formality. This association is common because this is the way that traditional psychology functions. Instead, we make fun of our suffering, we play with our discomfort and we are informal when we deal with formality. We believe that this is the only way to be healthy and full of tesão. This does not mean that in the therapy people don’t recognise, feel and live their pain and difficulties, but rather that they don’t make martyrs of themselves, which makes their problems difficult to resolve. In Soma, we use the ideology of pleasure (health) as an antidote to the ideology of sacrifice (neurosis). We go about undoing the authoritarian knot of our bourgeois capitalist conditioning, which demanded the sacrifice of our desires in exchange for social acceptance. This new ideology gives us energy and the tesão to fight against the bourgeois ideology that makes us neurotic. Consequently, everything becomes fantastically alive and real because fighting for what we are and what we want gives us the certainty that we are alive. Living means confronting risk and enjoying freedom. Surviving is the exact opposite: it means conforming within safe limits. We fight for the fullness of life, as we need to take on any obstacles face-to-face. A healthy person fully understands what this involves; a neurotic person doesn’t, having lost the capacity to react. The only way not to get lost in the mediocrity of neurosis is to learn how to fight to be free. Soma exists so that people can live their lives in the widest sense possible, as soon as possible. We soon realise that the act of living is extremely simple. Thinking and acting along these lines, Soma is objective and practical. 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.

However, not everyone wants to fight for the freedom to be themselves. Authoritarian social structures are only maintained because there exist authoritarian individuals. Capitalists, reactionaries and conservatives maintain ideologies that perpetuate the oppressor-oppressed formula and conserve the authoritarianism present in all social relations. However, it’s in the formation and maintenance of the bourgeois family that this formula is witnessed in the clearest way while, at the same time, is at its most disguised. The way in which families are organised today makes the full, vital realisation of an individual practically impossible, as love is used to limit freedom and desire. This is the most powerful weapon that the family has and it is used to attend to the expectations of the state, of society, and of the market. In rejecting this, the consequence is marginalization, even madness. Soma is an invitation to these revolutionaries, to those who object and to all those who identify with this urgency to be free. Only these people can understand life as we see it because they prioritise love and enjoyment . Only for these people does Soma have any kind of meaning and function. It was in this spirit that Roberto Freire created Soma at the beginning of the seventies, and has continued to develop it until today. It was born out of the military regime (1964-1979), when Freire and his comrades in the political struggle experienced the explicit repression of their freedom by the dictatorship. Militants were too paranoid of being denounced to seek out psychological help. Family members denounced other members, and work colleagues denounced each other, to the extent that no militant would trust a psychologist. Freire abandoned psychoanalysis and set off on a search for a therapy that was fast, efficient and liberating. He thought that the therapy had to be brief, similar to a war hospital solving problems that crop up so that the person can quickly return to the battle of life. He created Soma, a carefully selected and shaken cocktail of the revolutionary knowledge we have available to us in the works of Wilhelm Reich and David Cooper. For thirty years, Soma has been an instrument in the fight against the authoritarianism and limitations to human freedom present in society, be it a military dictatorship or today’s neoliberal farce of a democracy. When we eliminate authoritarianism, we encounter the originality in the lives of each one of us. Each human being is unique and different. Driven by economic power or by the state, authoritarian societies need to standardise human behaviour in order to facilitate control and domination. Repression and mass production of all things, including human beings, are achieved through social mechanisms that control the individual. In Soma, we undo these power games and individuals liberate themselves as they rescue their originality, which makes them infinitely stronger, more inspired and more revolutionary. We have no doubt that human brilliance occurs only when we are ourselves. And when we are complete, all beings harmonise with each other. 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. Only by respecting individual differences can we build a new ethic of social relations, thus creating a new society. This is our dream; our fuel is passion, our vehicle is tesão and our fight is the construction and experience of a tesudo, personal and social life, that is hereand-now and anarchic.

All unicist understanding is supported by the idea that each individual is a universe in itself. ‘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. This explains why we’ve removed the prefix ‘psycho’ from our therapeutic work. since Soma is not interested in isolated or partial aspects of a person’s life. We know that. thoughts. the indivisible unit. profession and social life. but never to evaluate human life. and to the valuing of the aphorism “I think therefore I am”. Somatherapy is the practical expression of somatology. a complex. coherent and integrated experience. These divisions can serve only for didactic understanding in the study of human beings. people are born knowing how to satisfactorily regulate their vital functions. and the relationship between these areas. is the epitome of unicity. For us. ideology and love. The totality of being We couldn’t start to explain what Soma is and how it works without first mentioning the importance of its name for our work. of secondary importance. For us. Our way of approaching human life. The division of this whole into independent parts (mind and body. such as its desires and ideals. thoughts and attitudes. We understand Somatology to be the study of phenomena that involve the soma in its interaction with other somas and with the environment. and their social manifestations. This characteristic is fundamental to our work. the word incorporates the body’s extensions. culture. Rationalism linked human existence to thought. and means ‘body’ but not just as we are used to thinking of the body. It’s where understanding can be found that aids the consciousness of a soma in its personal and social life.Part 1: Soma – a revolutionary cocktail 1. Human beings who live out their uniqueness have natural mechanisms at their disposal that allow them to determine the nature of their existence. for example) leads to the supremacy of some functions over others. . We don’t practise psychotherapy as we don’t consider the mind to be the focus of therapeutic action but rather the whole soma. This is the principle of spontaneous self-regulation. the various areas in their lives. The word ‘Soma’ comes from Greek. We study the whole person. The body. including how and with whom she or he has relationships with. the whole person. emotions. Christianity believed the spirit to be more important than matter. The isolating of one part of the whole in order to study some disorder leads to a limited and insufficient diagnosis. which determines a hierarchy with the brain at the top. except for the learning of social and cultural customs that are circulating at any particular moment. including the mind as it is part of the somatic whole. A human ‘Soma’ is everything that a person is. Rationalism has been present in a good part of modern culture. of including concern for the body. serves only to sustain the mind. Soma means the totality of being in the widest and most complete sense.

Science has proved that nature requires the widest possible human diversity.This understanding gives us the practical and unpretentious conditions to do therapy. to direct our existence according to the standards. power substitutes pleasure. Our greatest objective in Soma is to lead people to discover who they really are and what they really want in life. We are. This education is reinforced at school and extends to other social relationships in which there is always some kind of external control and regulation. there exists something unique. Self-regulated people determine the rhythm and form of their lives in accordance with their ideals.in morphology and physiology. the market and from the family. Many of the difficulties presented in therapy are related to the incapacity or inability that people have in defining what they want and like. Self-regulation is a biological condition of the human species. This happens under the pretence of established morals. the vital functions reorganise themselves naturally. When he or she manages this. sex. of course. in these societies. it becomes difficult to realise our own pleasures. They love the people who please them most. desires and rhythms that we feel and determine as more or less satisfactory for us. they live with people that give them most tesão. especially in the areas of love and sex stem from the lack of energy wasted by heteroregulation. laws and norms that emerge from various sources: the state. It is necessary to determine what blocks a person’s life. which limit and condition our tastes. preferences and choices. Heteroregulation is a direct consequence of the values that govern the present authoritarian society determining standards of behaviour for individuals. Nonetheless. which is to rely on others’ expectations to determine our lives and to live our lives in accordance with the ideals of others. similar in the vast majority of our characteristics . It’s the capacity that we have to determine our lives. This is the discovery of the unique originality of each being. When we adopt external references. These vital functions relate to the basic experiences of life. they work in an area in which they feel the greatest aptitude and competence. such as love. belonging . religion. One of the characteristics of the neurotic state is being unable to regulate oneself and therefore having the tendency to be heteroregulated. as well as in behaviour. creativity and social relationships. The sensation of incompetence and general impotence. A hetero-regulated person lives out roles and characters that correspond to the expectations of others. Spontaneous self-regulation is therefore determined by the search for pleasure. 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. From childhood. there will always be heteroregulated people. and exactly how he or she is blocked. in order to then help this person to free him or herself. 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. The fear of losing the love of parents makes the child a defenceless victim with no options other than to conform and be submissive. we live with relationships that mix love and affection with blackmail and authoritarianism. In authoritarian societies.

Healthy people live out their originality. we create a microlaboratory in which relationships are formed within the group. He never showed much interest in the social problems of his age. These blockages impede the free working of our organism’s spontaneous self-regulation. Our objective is to uncover explicit and disguised power relations and their impact on our lives. To achieve this. This would be the biological purpose of each life. Reich was responsible for one of the biggest revolutions in contemporary psychology. it is here that it shows itself most clearly. weak and insecure. Freud had an urban. This understanding of neurosis explains why Soma has a specifically political content. He graduated in medicine. standardised individuals. Each time that someone can’t express his or her originality. regulating themselves and searching for their uniqueness. Born at the end of the nineteenth century. It is fundamental to the development of the human species that each being exercises his or her unique originality. especially with the growing credibility of socialist ideas that burst out in revolutions like that of 1917 in Russia. our species and eco-system lose a contribution to its development and another life loses its biological purpose. As neurosis is born out of social contact. In Soma. and authoritarian powers are perpetuated thanks to the existence of these submissive. genetics is proving that the existence of identical beings is impossible and that this diversity is necessary for the natural development of the species. uncreative. not the politics of institutions. On the other. Neurosis is precisely the rupture with our uniqueness caused by external blocks. In contrast to Reich. nor ever will be part of another being. and we become distant from our true and original selves. which makes a person divided. Neurotic people are easily controlled and guided. on the one hand. In the twenties he proposed profound changes in the understanding of neurosis. 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. we live in societies made up of mass-produced. 2. and which inevitably . and even before completing the course he became a member and disciple of the Psychoanalytic Society led by Sigmund Freud. 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. Somatherapy can only be performed in groups. Reich and the mysteries of the organism Soma sought its political theories of neurosis from the life and work of the Austrian Wilhelm Reich. religious and bourgeois upbringing. Reich had always been interested in the social study of man. The paradox that arises is that. This age was one of transformations in Europe.to each being that has never been. but the politics of everyday life present in our every relationship. The reason for this paradox is simple: individuals that conform to standards of behaviour are easy prey for authoritarian organisations to manipulate. repetitive people.

Differences in understanding of these events created the split between Reich and Freud in their scientific work. without being acquainted with ideas that had been in existence in oriental thinking for more than 5. not just a psychic energy imbalance but an imbalance of the unique energy (which we can call bioenergy. as well as preventing its free movement to other areas.000 years. the body goes through different physiological alterations (increased beating of the heart. and creates a posture and neuromuscular armour which determine a person’s way of being in the world. 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. dilation of the pupils. In clinical . for example. A response that should be specific to certain situations becomes continuous. the neuromuscular or character armour is the physical expression of neurosis. their character. it would be impossible to speak of real freedom. making the direct. leads to the formation of what he called neuromuscular armour. repressive standards of behaviour and an individual’s own standards. he or she becomes neurotic. the physiological transformations start to crystallise in the body. in a threatening situation. such as permanently arched and tense shoulders. The formation of the neuromuscular armour occurs above all during our childhood development due to permanent blockages in sexuality. sexuality and affection. Neuroses are formed in the conflict that occurs between authoritarian. if an individual has been subjected to continual situations that involve fear or insecurity since childhood.influenced various areas of scientific and cultural activity. as social norms dictate. especially in the musculature. and impotence in the areas of creativity. Reich observed that emotions and thoughts always have physical equivalents and vice versa. in other words. He discovered for the West at the end of the 1920’s the idea of vital energy. or vital energy) that circulates throughout the whole body. As well as being a product of social heteroregulation. An emotion always brings about changes in the circulation of bioenergy because of localised muscular contraction and changes in breathing and in posture. This happens. and constant threats in our emotional life. This leads to an excessive consumption of our vital energy. Reich believed that neurosis took hold in the whole body and not just in the mind. However. the armour starts to generate neurotic symptoms such as phobias. Reich stated categorically that while there existed any kind of moral regulation that limited man’s desires. This armour can reveal itself through constant muscular contractions or through chronic muscular flaccidity. This is a natural mechanism that allows people to adapt to different stimuli. muscular contraction) that prepare the soma for an adequate response to the threat. The defective distribution of bioenergy. depression. In childhood. or. spontaneous expression of emotions and sexuality impossible. incompetence. this armour serves as a protective shield against emotional threats. anxiety. For Reich. In adulthood. Thus. the armour limits our relationship with the world. There are parts of the body that are constantly and intensely rigid. He believed that what made neurosis take hold was an energy imbalance. Reich believed that a person isn’t born neurotic.

thus forming a vicious circle: if there is no orgasm. In Soma. therefore. and also aid the identification of blockages. The orgasm thus functions as a regulating agent. Armoured people also have difficulty in finding satisfactory partners and involving themselves fully enough to attain a satisfactory sex life. The search for these causes lead us to the discovery of the power relations that repress and block us. the neurotic symptoms increase and this makes the reaching of orgasm even more difficult. is a lot more than just ejaculation in the man and vaginal pleasure in the woman. they lead to a better perception of the body and of oneself. it is a natural defence mechanism we have at our disposal. they enter into a defensive neurotic state. allowing the individual to relate freely and directly with the world without defence shields. We also know that the neuromuscular armour in itself isn’t harmful. we prioritise the understanding of the political and ideological conflict we face. a reserve of energy starts to build up in the participant’s body. with its unblocking function. Apart from producing a good circulation of energy. and provokes involuntary movements and sounds as well as a temporary loss of the sense of time and space. for example. It is only harmful and pathological when it becomes chronic. games. Soma works with its own physical exercises. the neuromuscular armour is often so rigid that it prevents full orgasms and the flushing through of natural energy. On the contrary. Reich discovered a natural and biological agent that is capable of dissolving this defensive armour and restoring the free flow of vital energy. laughing. crying. We know that beating neurosis is more complicated than doing a few bioenergetic exercises and that we need to defeat the armour’s social and political causes. dances and varied movements that work as orgasmic equivalents. When people can’t be themselves nor live out their ideas and desires. There are natural equivalents (dancing. Reich affirmed that therapy was necessary to eliminate the chronic persistence of the armour. stretching etc) and other artificial ones (massage. the armour isn’t broken down. The full and satisfactory orgasm. since that constitutes the true cause and origin of the neurosis. 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. The neuromuscular armour is. and this is determined by our somatic armour. a direct consequence of an authoritarian pedagogical game that teaches us to accept standards that are not our own. Apart from giving great pleasure and feelings of well-being. However.observation. He discovered orgasmic equivalents. yawning. This allows people to enjoy a state of profound relaxation after orgasm. exercises) all of which are capable of mobilising the armour. This study gave birth to the revolutionary book The Function of the Orgasm. In the search for this therapy he researched techniques that broke the vicious circle. which is the internalised expression of the political and ideological conflicts resulting from repressive and authoritarian behaviour. It is characterised by a dissolving of the ego. restoring the circulation of bioenergy. . which are other means of arriving at the therapeutic effects provided by a real sexual orgasm. 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. After the conclusion of a bioenergetic exercise.

In the permanent struggle we engage in against authoritarianism. The mandingas and games characterise the capoeirista’s fighting strategy. dissolving muscular rigidity. Both emerged as ways of freeing individuals in oppressive situations. not perverse. These are the ocular. most experienced capoeirista can say he knows all there is to know about it.In Soma. 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. in the armour where muscular tension is formed. It’s both a courteous habit that we create inside of us and something that belongs to the vagabond”. thereby transforming their bodies into fighting weapons. the abdominal and the pelvic. work on political consciousness takes place during group sessions. regarding it as the “mandinga of the slave with a burning desire for freedom. This leads to the re-establishment of the free flow of bioenergy that heralds a return to health. the cervical. the thoracic. 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. becoming more competitive and violent. Capoeira Angola seeks to preserve the traditions and rituals of the past. or rings. A product of the mixture with martial arts (such as karate and ju-jitsu). All this is achieved through liberating bioenergetic exercises that work as orgasmic equivalents. the oral. stretching and contracting with the pulsating movement of life. At the same time. The movements in capoeira (the swinging ginga from side to side. mobilising practically all the muscles in the body and liberating stagnant energy. Capoeira works as a strong orgasmic equivalent. There is no method and it has no conceivable end. 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. the results of bioenergetic exercises are only temporary. which was developed in the 1930s when Mestre Bimba created the ‘luta regional baiana’ (regional fight of Bahia). the movements of defence and attack) work upon each ring simultaneously as the body is in constant neuromuscular activity. and as a game. the diaphragmatic. Nowadays. as theatre. Capoeira is loving. They diminish tension in the musculature but aren’t sufficient to prevent the armour taking hold again. not even the wisest. . Reich located seven areas. Capoeira Angola is less well-known than its variation (regional). Mestre Pastinha is considered the guardian of capoeira Angola. The slaves invented capoeira to free themselves of the slavery imposed by the whites in Brazil. We only work with Capoeira Angola. 3. regional capoeira has undergone various modifications. The history of Capoeira Angola is similar to that of Soma.

they don’t look to . to trip the other player up. the outcome of which is determined by playful malice and skill. In the roda. Life is a constant string of choices. It is a game. reason and the physical fully integrate with each other . but it’s important not to confuse aggression with violence. we are also preparing our emotions and finding the courage and the belief to achieve our objectives.the pedagogy of bioenergy. However. In the preparation of the body for the fight. the sound of the berimbau. and a way of playing with the act of living. none is as fast and efficient as capoeira Angola in triggering both the movement of the armour and the willingness to fight. Soma doesn’t set out to create capoeiristas. After overcoming the initial difficulties. as capoeiristas call it) in the roda3 is linked to our attitudes to the fight in life. indispensable factors in the process of change. and these movements activate a large number of muscles. and using aggression in its natural biological form means going out and getting what we want. you play it. Repressed aggression is what generates violence. the movements. As they are anarchists. This obviously depends on the desire or tesão of each individual. Besides this. Soma therapists constantly practise Capoeira Angola in their lives as a physical therapy and in order to instruct their clients adequately. it is a way of life. we are repressing our impulses that will sooner or later be transformed into attitudes of violent compulsion. the roda. The disposition to fight (or to ‘play’. swimming. 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. such as prejudice and the fear of risk. their bodies show this through posture. It is the true therapeutic force and the most striking metaphor of Soma. We researched other kinds of physical exercise that produce similar effects in the disarming of the character armour. slow sweeping movements intended. It proposes that its participants acquire the minimum necessary skills so that capoeira can be used as a diagnostic tool. If people live their daily lives with attitudes of submission. Being aggressive is part of the act of living. The other parts . helping the process of ideological change. capoeira Angola allows us to gain greater consciousness and awareness of our bodies. Our physical disposition mirrors the state of our emotional life. the participants play with their complete somas. Capoeira Angola also acts upon the somatic armour. effectively massaging the body. everything in capoeira has a playful aspect. The songs. Capoeira Angola serves as a therapeutic tool that can be used autonomously after the therapy has been completed. the sociology and ethics serve to sustain and guide it. In this way. such as Tai chi chuan. This is why you don’t fight capoeira. the mandinga. Some wouldn’t exist without the simultaneous and constant practice of Capoeira Angola.Capoeira Angola is characterised by low. and are involved in such a way that emotion. Capoeira Angola develops our aggression. amongst other things. the politics. Each time we give up on the realisation of our desires. African dance etc. capoeira ends up becoming a synonym for pleasure. It is an autonomous activity designed to maintain the health of those who practise it. Capoeira is more than a simple dance or fight. The roda is both a training for the fight and a diagnosis as to how we are fighting.

Our act of living.become Mestres4 but are always looking to improve their game in the capoeira roda and. he broke with psychoanalysis and undertook the research that led him to the creation of gestalt therapy. their performance in their daily. He observed that everyday situations throw up necessities that the organism determines as being more or less urgent. We need to satisfy the hunger. This gestalt will only be closed when an alternative. Another example is someone who works in a job that he or she doesn’t enjoy. A person is on the beach. Each gestalt is always comprised of a ‘figure’ and a background. If we are hungry. the organism indicates its figure and background. 4. After moving to the United States. In German it means approximately ‘the form and the manner in which situations present and organise themselves in front of and inside us’. becoming the new object of observation. libertarian lives. out of curiosity or for any other motive. therefore. Perls was a disciple of Freud and for some time a client of Reich. This is the mechanism of spontaneous self-regulation. Perls was married to a physicist who was studying the area of gestalt. hunger becomes the figure or the focus of our gestalt. On an even wider scale. the following example should help. how to act. more pleasurable means of economic survival is found. Everything that is alive is permanently opening and closing gestalts. Perls adapted the gestalt theories to psychology. the focus of interest. how to live with and relate to . 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). The seagull becomes the ‘figure’. To illustrate what a ‘gestalt’ is from the psychological point of view. is an eternal process of opening and closing gestalts. The sea and the sky stay in the background representing everything that is present. mirroring this. thereby closing the gestalt to make way for another to open. how to be. If a person loves someone. another gestalt can be the search for an ideology. Therefore a new gestalt is formed. The gestalt of this moment is his or her dynamic relationship with the seascape. for example. corresponding respectively to what is of priority and what is secondary in a situation. We ‘open a gestalt’ when the seagull becomes the target for contemplation. A gestalt is closed when the figure disappears or we lose interest in it. A seagull then flies into view. a branch of physics. and the most important and meaningful element in that gestalt. as at each moment there is always something that is of greater priority. which represent the physical or emotional necessity that has emerged. be it for aesthetic pleasure. he fled from Nazi Germany and settled in South Africa where he participated in the founding of the Psychoanalytic society. Living the present Soma found its methodology for therapeutic action in the discoveries and theories of gestalt therapy. Gestalt therapy originated in the second half of the twentieth century from the research of the German. The word gestalt doesn’t have a direct translation into English. looking at the sea. He became a psychoanalyst and practised for many years. Perls noted a very close relationship between the study of gestalts and clinical observations of his clients in therapy. how to process and react to life situations. Frederick Perls. Being Jewish. At each moment. but of secondary importance.

and we look to raise objective awareness of how each situation happens rather than indulge in the interpretation of why each situation happens. although we do reflect on the past’s influence on the present. 5. the neurotic person finds it extremely difficult to close his or her gestalts thereby leaving life situations open and without solution. don’t live out the sexuality that gives them the most satisfaction etc. She or he feels incapable of seeking out pleasure and life becomes unsatisfactory because a person can’t realise the love they want. as lots of energy is wasted keeping the gestalts open. The necessity of being alert. So all situations in life. clients acquire understanding and energy to close and open gestalts. ingenuity and a certain ‘cunningness’. For Perls. and conscious of each situation in life. We work with the here and now. attentive to and conscious of the present moment involves agility. capoeira teaches us how to be whole and present. as Reich had already affirmed. This lack of energy. More and more gestalts inevitably open which end up accumulating and disorganising a person’s life physically and/or emotionally. This person removes him or herself from the present. We are therefore concerned with neither a clinical nor a confessional therapy. is the main factor responsible for the appearance of neurotic symptoms and the sensation of impotence and incompetence in confronting life. and from here we work on possibilities and strategies for closing them in order to prevent the wastage of vital energy.people socially. Therefore. can open gestalts ranging from the simplest necessity to more complex ideological necessities. we don’t propose a return to the past. Therapy takes place through the discussion of what each person experiences in each session. Energy reserves are low. There is an excessive consumption of vital energy when gestalts aren’t being closed and the organism isn’t regulating its necessities. Unlike the majority of traditional therapies. can’t obtain the profession they are suited for. In Soma. as capoeiristas put it. The notion of Gestalt emphasises how certain situations truly perturb and disrupt a person’s life. Any loss of contact with the present can result in suffering a blow or a fall. The neurotic person is therefore no longer responsible for the act of living. how to be spontaneous and sincere in any situation. as what makes a life unsatisfactory is the existence of many situations without any solution. or with incomplete solutions. This is why we always work by evaluating and studying the present. from the physiological to the professional. Another fundamental contribution of Perls was to acknowledge the vital necessity of closing open gestalts in order to attain energetic equilibrium. which they fill with expectations. as this is where we find open gestalts. more concerned with the unfinished past and the imagined future. not being able to respond to his or her natural desires and impulses as spontaneous self-regulation requires. At the end of the therapy. The production of madness . The roda is a permanent exercise for being in the present. The practice of Capoeira Angola is also an excellent diagnostic and therapeutic agent of how we are living each gestalt moment. we reunite all the hows in order to reach some whys.

It was believed that madness was the mental illness caused by hereditary. which are in reality prisons with no social or therapeutic function whatsoever. It emerged at the end of the 1940s and was developed in the 1950s. One of the main discoveries of antipsychiatry was that emotional disturbances basically result from disturbances in human communication. transmitted by either the same means of communication (speech) or by different means (speech and physical expression / gesture). believes that madness is produced by political mechanisms.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. It appears mainly in family and sexual relationships. a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ together. the most dramatic breakthrough of antipsychiatry was to articulate how the double-bind only works when there exists a strong affective tie. initially by Gregory Bateson and after by David Cooper. For this reason. This research led to important discoveries linked mainly to the study of the pragmatics of human communication. and long violent internments in psychiatric institutions. Let’s look at an example: An eighteen-year-old girl wants to leave home and live separately from her parents. This occurs from childhood when children are subjected to a paradoxical kind of communication called the double-bind. Antipyschiatry on the other hand. the elements of antipsychiatry we use are those concerned with helping to prevent neurosis. Franco Basaglia and Ronald D Laing. Antipsychiatry concentrated on the study of schizophrenia. It’s a way of affirming yet denying something at the same time. she merely wants to live her own life without breaking off her . chemotherapy. to the disorganisation of thought and the loss of reality. Revolutionary studies about human behaviour led to the creation of a new science called antipsychiatry. the best-known form of mental disorganisation. two simultaneous messages are sent. although these factors were never actually elucidated. which is most crudely and commonly labelled ‘madness’. However. and it is how love is used to dominate and breed neurosis in today’s neoliberal society. Traditional psychiatry justifies the maintenance of psychiatric hospitals. The antipsychiatrists stated that what came to be known as ‘madness’ is used by authoritarian systems as a way of persecuting heretics and rebels. Antipsychiatry negates practically everything that traditional psychiatry says in respect of mental illness. such as electroshock treatment. As its name suggests. consequently. insulin shock treatment. one always being the opposite of the other. Useless and lamentable therapeutic processes were used. biochemical or endocrinological factors. There are damaging complications in the way people communicate and relate to each other which lead initially to confusion and. 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. and proposes coherent solutions that pose a threat to the established order.

we study the double-binds that we receive and also apply to other people we love and have affective ties with. It only works when the stakes are raised by emotional involvement and the giver and receiver both play the game. There was no direct. but.” Whatever the form. while her tears affirm that this decision is making her suffer. The eighteenyear-old receives a double-bind. In Brazil. As soon as we start examining the double-bind and its effects. he loves you so much . So Soma works on communication in human relations. we aim to stimulate a new way of living together in which communication is based on sincerity. In the case of the eighteen-year-old. as his or her ideas and intentions have always been questioned or disqualified.relationship with her family so she talks to her mother about her decision. the only way to avoid the double bind is if one of the parties doesn’t play his or her part. honest language stating a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’. decisive. Due to a lack of sincerity. there is a common expression which is often used in a double-binding way. a child who has been brought up using love (through the double-bind) to control natural liberating desires ends up becoming apathetic. and this is how authoritarianism works on the microsocial level. incompetent or impotent.. What prejudices communication is the existence of two equally valid possibilities. In various situations. Such communication is constantly used in the development of individuals in our society. which leaves her confused and guilty about her choice. leaving them weak and dependent. In this case. I’m OK. saying. the fact that you don’t want to live with us anymore. She’s saying with her words that her daughter’s choice is natural and healthy. When a person receives mixed messages from someone with whom there is no affective tie. In the groups. blackmail and doublebinds.. We look at how we are confused and how we confuse others. relationships become polluted by lies. as it is from here that the first traces of neurosis emerge. . 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 famous ‘tudo bem’ (meaning the interrogative ‘How are you?’ as well as its answer I’m fine. you know he’s already had a heart attack. at the same time she can’t contain her tears. two channels of communication were used in the message (speech and facial expression) but the mother could have used just one channel. This is the form of communication used by the majority of people who become neurotic. courageous person. “Your father will understand. people agree to certain things with a ‘Tudo bem’(‘OK then’) even when not liking or agreeing with them. In Soma. and the confusion that accompanies it starts to deform our understanding and our behaviour. there would have been a clear deadlock. It is also used to give your consent to a proposal). If the mother had shown her honest opinion. like I do. People often feel that things aren’t OK and then feel confused by or guilty about this feeling. double-binding message. sincere. Therefore. Every person that has been ‘double-binded’ becomes an expert ‘double-binder’. It’s rare for this child to become an autonomous. there was a paradoxical. The mother says she’s happy for her daughter. but be careful with him. we are fighting against the primary mechanism of authoritarianism in relationships. this communication doesn’t result in a double bind.

then. being gregarious animals. Never. a party. it also guarantees the maintenance of bourgeois society. This means that neurosis condemns life to a meagre pawn piece in the institutional workings of the capitalist system. This pejorative association has been used by those who believe in the necessity of an institutional power.The double bind is the main weapon of social domination because it happens daily. government merely serves to maintain the privilege of minorities. the kind of order that is demanded or determined by a group of people. some kind of human grouping. Despite what is commonly believed. such as the family. in the loving relationship and in the relationship between parent and child. 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. need others to survive. With the fall of the communist block in Eastern Europe and the end of the Marxist dream of state socialism. that only an ideological change in the way we live together can break the vicious circle of capitalism. however. Therefore. 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. confusion and mess. The pedagogy of freedom Neurosis is the product of authoritarian relationships that begin in the traditional family. proves the opposite. a natural phenomenon that we have at our disposal. order and discipline are fundamental for anarchism to take place. a government or any other form of authoritarian organisation. however. the family mirrors and reproduces the state. It’s necessary to transform the conventional form of social organisation based on the traditional family. The main strategy these ideologies use to try and disqualify anarchism is to associate it with disorder. The power mechanisms that distance people from their self-regulation. History. an authority in order to govern the people in which case government would be the guarantee of an organised and just society. needs to exist. The word anarchy comes from Greek and means absence of authority or government. . Men and women. 6. anarchism or libertarian socialism is the only ideology that can be considered an alternative to the capitalist hegemony. but is lived and enjoyed. Anarchy is the expression of a natural order. Anarchism has been opposed since the end of the nineteenth century both by capitalism and by authoritarian Marxist socialism. It’s obvious. In Soma. 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. As Reich put it. The French thinker Elisée Reclus states that anarchy is the highest expression of order. 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. which is fundamentally where the mechanisms of domestication of individuals takes place.

anarchism functions as a methodological reference in order to identify authoritarian power games which are the source of neurosis. The life of a somatherapist is exposed and open to all. 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. People who live according to anarchist principles in their daily lives won’t subordinate themselves to any form of authoritarianism from people. He or she participates in the group dynamic as a member of that group. It’s not an objective to be reached but rather a process of transformation to be set in motion. by adopting the ideology of anarchism. most complete sense. This is the condition for existing in the fullest. . but starting from now in people’s daily lives. In our work. However. who could have a completely different ideology with opposing values and objectives. clients are free to agree and disagree with the therapist’s ideas. They can communicate sincerely and directly. In Soma. above all. exercising leadership in a non-authoritarian way. thereby truly socialising power in the process. As Somatherapists we look to transform our daily lives with this practice. self-regulating and responsible for his/her life. Anarchism doesn’t seek the possession of power. Each person needs to develop and mature individually in order to become autonomous. Soma therefore proposes anarchism in our daily lives. during the year / year and a half of therapy. not in the future with the end of capitalism. never in the opposite direction imposed by a government . the therapist or the group. even within an authoritarian society. 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.even if the government considers itself ‘socialist’. the state or corporate organisations in this neoliberal society and.Anarchism doesn’t propose any kind of pre-determined social organisation. 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. The anarchist revolution occurs in the building of a new ethic in personal and social relations in which domination is replaced by solidarity. They therefore conserve energy to close gestalts and are able to discover their own form and means of creating and loving. This needs to occur. Any change in society is only possible from the roots upwards. The somatherapist socialises his knowledge and ideology to the group so that members may. Anarchism is intertwined with all the psychological theories on which Soma is based. Clients of other therapies can spend years not knowing anything about the life of the therapist. won’t utilise mechanisms of power in their affective relationships. but the destruction of centralised and hierarchised mechanisms so that each individual acts on their own authority. be able to acquire autonomy in their lives without developing any kind of dependency on the therapy. 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.

Soma is a process of learning how to be free. while at the same time living and communicating with the other. People who don’t participate in the initial workshop can also join the group. each one lasting about three hours. The proposal is therefore. It is not a therapy to help people adapt better to the system. Methodology 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 free and playful spirit of Soma stems from the participants having the space and opportunity to be themselves. they work on aggression.In the group. The transformations that occur in the micro-laboratory of the soma groups are extended to the everyday relationships of the participants. Soma is a pedagogy. in which the act of living is not limited to mere survival. sensitivity. We explore loving. The therapy groups are formed at random by interested people who take part in a demonstration workshop and discussion. the participants are invited to start a new group. There are four sessions a month. The bioenergetic exercises take place in the first half of the session. creativity. This is how we achieve the revolutionary social outcome that is non-existent in all other therapies. openness and solidarity. creative and productive potential always basing new conquests on the ethic of sincerity. working and producing with other people. New members can join up to the third month. The sessions are very varied and apart from reducing the chronic tension of the neuromuscular armour as has already been mentioned. which entails leading a life without submission and authoritarianism. affection. At the end of the workshop. It aims at the development of creativity that leads to the building of a new social organisation that is freer and more just. Let’s now see how the therapy and the group function in practice. really benefit from the therapy. In short. More than a simple therapy. for revolution in everyday life. or their true nature and unique originality. There are thirty six exercises in the therapy that are chosen according to the stage in the therapy and dynamic process of the group. helping people to learn to discover their ‘Soma’. Part 2 How Soma works 1. As this proposal suggests. we experiment with a new and revolutionary way of living. at which point the group closes for the group dynamic to form and the therapy to start taking place. sensuality and on provoking a greater sensory awareness. only those who are searching to change their lives and not those who are seeking relief from their neurosis. to live out their tesão and their differences as a biological necessity. .

should help the group in the understanding of the workings of their neuroses. These bandeiras are studied in the next stage of the session. Each person talks about what he or she felt. participants are encouraged to understand how the neurotic mechanisms surfacing in the exercises work. The participants enter a less armoured. but an exercise in sincerity. 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. more playful emotional state in which they physically communicate difficulties and blockages. The therapist sits on the edge of the circle (as she or he didn’t directly participate in the exercise and witnesses the discussion). by controlling gestures. from difficulties (fear. intervening when he or she has a comment or observation related to the exercise. Nor is the objective of the discussion the search for truth. without the therapist in what we call grupão (big group). The majority don’t involve verbal communication. movements and expressions is revealed by alterations in the neuro-vegetative system (dizziness. the participants discuss the therapy. The discussion has another gestalt characteristic. Of the four monthly sessions. as well as some ideas on how these causes can be confronted by the ideology and practice of Soma. giving an involuntary sign in a problem area) we call it dar bandeira . how the group is working and how the therapist is working. impotence. This consists of a warm-up. These descriptions go towards a more sturdy diagnosis at a later date. and often more than this.literally ‘giving the flag’. not just in thought). As with the other sessions. We try to decode into words what was experienced physically. . The discussion of the exercise is the moment to work on verbal communication. repression etc. We also talk about the bandeiras observed in other people. as in every Soma session. a training session and a Capoeira roda during which. new bandeiras emerge. not to embark on interpretations related to the past. Social and political causes are brought into perspective. one is always reserved for Capoeira Angola. In the big groups. Apart from these sessions. sweating. sensations of disequilibrium and sickness) that occur during the exercises. When people show their difficulties even though they are trying to control or hide them (in other words.The exercises are adaptations of drama and dance exercises and children’s games. Instead of interpreting them. always searching for how bandeiras happen and never why. the organised material. as well as what’s happening in each person’s day-to-day life. taking into consideration all the hows to reach some whys. We try to describe the sensations and perceptions that we feel now.) to the discovery of pleasure and euphoria. 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. principally because it is in these big groups that we learn how to work in a self-organising manner (autogestão). there is a discussion and the therapist closes the session. These meetings are of fundamental importance to the ideology and practice of Soma. Everything that a person tries to hide. the group meets once a month at the very minimum. This synthesis. expressing precisely the way each person felt and sensed (or saw) the others.

it is because of some kind of authoritarian residue. At the end of the therapy. the relationships between the participants are strengthened and deepened. Leaders naturally emerge to fill coordinating roles which are then rotated from time to time to prevent any fixed leaderships. In this process. a party. submission. it is common that residues emerge from our bourgeois and authoritarian upbringing and education. The characteristics of the big group are vast and varied. We could therefore also talk about self-organised love. sincerity is the most important tool. Group decisions always take into account the objectives of all. Despite having originated in factories. The group starts to experiment with a revolutionary way of relating socially. education and communities. Such residues. If an impasse occurs. contributing and receiving support. 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. This is a practice that is condemned by other therapies. As we adopt an anarchist ideology and are against the authoritarianism of the majority over the minority. We regard this vision as authoritarian and unreal.aiming at a new form of social production based primarily on sincerity and anarchist solidarity. accepting and respecting differences to reach unity within diversity. It emerged initially in Yugoslavia as an industrial experiment. In the big group. These projects could have some financial return or could be some kind of social intervention such as a demonstration. a beach or any other kind of social gathering. These meetings are also very important for the socialisation and integration of the participants. As always. selforganisation can be extended to all other areas of social life. There is also what we call marrom (literally ‘brown’). as each one represents the unique dynamic of each unique group at different moments of its development. one which is completely new and revolutionary without the presence of authoritarianism or centralisation. Discussions in the big group often trigger other projects following the principle of selforganisation. such as psychoanalysis. parasitism and domination are evaluated critically in the big group. as he or she is also susceptible to neurosis despite being better equipped to fight against it. the groups possess a strong therapeutic power. Everyone participates. In addition. Each person is therefore responsible for the practical organisation of the work. The majority of therapeutic practices sustain the image of a therapist being the only person able to deal with neuroses. which are social meetings that the group (or part of it) organises. Soma eliminates the myth that generally surrounds the therapist. opportunism. lack of centralisation and the division of profit. In Soma we adopt self-organisation as a basic guiding principle in the therapy. This could mean a trip to the cinema. . Self-organisation is a typically libertarian means of production. the somatherapist abandons his/her adopted role of leader. we reach consensus without voting. a play or a newsletter etc. and is characterised by mutual support.

clay and areas of forest land. After all group members have taken their turns in the hot seat. Each component is essential and needs to be engaged in throughout the therapy. Each session lasts 3 hours and is dedicated to just one person from the group. which is the minimum necessary for any person to benefit from capoeira.the hot seat (cadeira quente). getting over the crisis and the hot seat. This is the moment to close the therapeutic work. big group and social events. which allow the group to experience the therapy in direct contact with nature. Each stage has both a diagnostic and therapeutic effect. 2. The hot seat session was created shortly after Soma began. crisis. Therapeutic process Soma can be understood as having the following stages. induction. socialising. capoeira. in the Chapada Diamantina. When the group has completed all of the 36 exercises after about a year. These two regions have similar characteristics.Capoeira Angola. This is called hot ground. 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. In other training sessions. Bahia. After about a year. waterfalls. The hot seat in Soma divides up into 4 stages. To more easily attain the natural and biological objectives that Soma defends. questions and the closing stage. is fundamental for Soma. After the last hot seat. the final phase of the therapy begins . the group presents all the impressions of the hot-seater gathered during the therapy. The sessions are generally held in a sports hall or other spaces that the group rents out. we carry out two two-day sessions in the countryside. the therapy ends. affirmations. However. 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. We therefore ask members of the group to train two or three times a week. introduction to the process. (chão quente) and as many sessions can be undertaken as the group sees fit. The methodology of Soma is composed of these four elements: session. there is a session for the therapist and the assistant. which we take advantage of for specific therapeutic exercises. the training that takes place in the therapy sessions is inadequate to develop the practice. an experienced capoeirista (often someone who has already done Somatherapy) is found to teach the game of Capoeira Angola competently. as has already been said. During the process. such as rivers. The exercise of Capoeira Angola in the sessions is orientated by the therapist and / or his assistants. when Freire realised that the therapy was still incomplete. The hot seater sits beside the therapist. whose performance during therapy is assessed by the group. The first step in the therapeutic process is the . He created a session similar to Perls’ hot seat in which he studied dreams. the group generally meets with the therapist for an evaluation of life after the therapy. the dynamic phase. both in front of the group.

This raising of consciousness is fundamental to achieving the maturity necessary for the group to take their hot seats. The socialisation stage is the beginning of the process of change which is necessary to throw out the residues of our bourgeois socialisation. more pleasurable kind of interaction brings out each person’s difficulties in living out his or her originality and in living with differences. This atmosphere allows each person to realise. Moving out of this defensive strategy leads the person to the experience of something new. cooperation and complicity in the relationships and projects of the group. As each transformation in life opens new opportunities for diagnosis and therapy. Resistance arises out of the fear of change and emerges in a variety of ways. such as neuro-vegetative reactions when the armour is mobilised. 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. We show how neurotic symptoms are generated by blockages that prevent the free expression of a person’s unique originality. Somatherapy is a dynamic and cyclical mechanism. in the most complete form possible. In the introduction at the beginning of the group. The group dynamic forms when an affective and political tie develops amongst the members. The struggle which is established between the therapy and resistance to the therapy ends up leading the groups to a point of crisis. It establishes a state of collaboration. manages to mould him or herself into finding a way to survive. A good group dynamic is always the product of common ideology and objectives. the therapy or the therapist. 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. Firmly rooted in the ideas of anarchism. 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. It is through the group dynamic that the therapy effectively takes place. collective work has more force and quality than the sum of individual works. leading to significant results in the therapy. Soma is a therapy that takes effect when and if the participants enter a playful spirit. The overcoming of crisis represents the therapeutic turning point. Participants can begin to have some control over their neuroses. The early exercises facilitate the socialising process of the group. having recourse to an ideological weapon. With this understanding. and not the symptoms themselves. . A neurotic person. even though he or she suffers from the neurosis. or rejecting the group. as much on a personal level (self-awareness) as on a social level (new strategies for living together). his or her creative and productive potential. and depends upon the efficiency of the therapeutic process of the whole group. The challenge of immersing oneself in a more sincere.perception and awareness of the blockages that generate neurosis. no part of which can exist in isolation. to experiencing risk instead of the security of old defence strategies. Overcoming resistance is fundamental to beating the neurosis. Participants are encouraged to experiment with a different way of relating to each other. Crisis represents something positive for us. we discuss all the theoretical and practical information necessary for the ideological and practical understanding of Soma. as it is through crisis that we face obstacles and barriers in life that we are impelled to find solutions to.

and won’t be able to avoid it without undoing and destroying itself. Capitalist countries stage meetings. it is never possible to agree as to how to stop the destruction of nature. 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 whole ethic based on profit and authoritarian power would have to change. exploitation and even the destruction of the environment. The death of authoritarian socialism made capitalism the dominant ideology in the world. that which is concerned with the individual. This is the essence of the market economy. any kind of behaviour is permitted. The economic interests of these countries prevent effective measures being taken.Part three Soma. This ethic can only exist in society if it also exists in each individual. The ethic that destroys nature is the same one that justifies social domination and the exploitation of one person by another. 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. fights against bourgeois society by unconventional political means. The human being is being destroyed by the neurosis that consumes. trade unions. in order for this to happen. however. It is installed in all institutions. The anarchist ethic. 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. Environmental ecology can’t exist without social ecology. families and schools. The capitalist system will not be able to find a way out of its environmental problems because. To accumulate wealth. But the results are frustrating. Social ecology. True ecology can only be realised by working against what causes damage to the environment. based on individual autonomy and collective solidarity is the only possibility if we want an ecological society. We are talking about subjective ecology. Subjective ecology involves developing specific strategies that come to modify or reinvent ways of living out . and the conclusion is that intentions to save the planet never get off the paper they are written on. in all parties. Men and women will only respect the environment if they learn to respect themselves. standardises and distances it from its biological and natural role. The ecology of capitalism is a farce. sign treaties and fly the flag for the environment. stealing. Capitalism is on the path to suicide. anarchism and ecology The world is going through a period of stalemate in relation to threats to the environment. legitimising and perpetuating it. Social relations will be more ecological with a practical transformation in people’s everyday lives and in the values of modern life.

To do Soma is to discover the future. ecology and Soma. or rather. It is to them. that we offer Soma. The true revolutionaries. are already here amongst us. these mutants whom we call coyotes. we have not managed to decipher their potential functions in our lives as a species and as individuals. we use a bare 10%. Our work is towards a real and complete knowledge of our own bodies and their spontaneous pulses of desire. We know today that of the 100. The three ecologies (of the environment. lovers of freedom and in love with utopia. social (and consequently environmental) ecology. . Soma aims to develop our competence in life and to show how it is possible to live on the margins of this authoritarian society. 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. searching to satisfy vital human pulses in balance with the environment. These mutants are the heirs of the future and are responsible for the building of a better society. This is the direct relation between anarchism. transforming the human into a being better equipped to adapt to the environment. Soma reads the main anarchists with an ecological objective. pleasurable and selforganised ties in our community life. The remaining 90% appear to be asleep. 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.000 genes that compose the genetic code. in the social arena.love relationships in the family. We believe that in this way we are working to implant an anarchist society with its characteristic revolutionary. We have to learn how to invent strong. anarchism stops being an ideological utopia and becomes a biological necessity in order to preserve the human species. Within this vision of ecology. This gives us the hope that a genetic and cultural mutation is happening. at school and at work.

there is a distinct hierarchy between mestre and student. 2 3 4 . care and love. It involves a line of musicians. In most capoeira groups. sitting or standing. 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. (Its adjectival form is tesudo) Mandinga is an African word meaning approximately ‘magic’ or ‘spell’. Your tesão for a lover or friend means that you want to be with that person who fulfils you. but is also much wider than this. In the absence of an adequate translation. and many mestres are authoritarian in their approach to teaching and the organisation of their groups. It is a mixture of passion. It means ‘desire’ in the sexual sense. It’s the force that stimulates you to do something with your utmost attention. The roda is the ritual of capoeira. 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. stimulates you. part of a circle in which the participants sit watching the games and singing until they decide to enter the roda to play themselves. I will use the word tesão throughout. players and singers. In Soma. love and excitement. Mestres are the teachers and guardians of knowledge about capoeira.Notes 1 There is no word in English that is ample enough to convey the meaning of tesão. All participants in a roda rotate to fulfil the various roles of musicians.

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