Gerda Boyeson was a 20th century psychologist who developed biodynamic psychotherapy.

Professional Life

Gerda Boyeson was born in Bergen, Norway, on May 18, 1922. A book by William Reich first piqued her interest in psychology. She was so fascinated with his field of body psychotherapy that she began seeing a therapist trained by Reich. Soon after, she began to delve into the study of psychology. She explored various approaches and found a particular interest in physiotherapy. Through her therapy and training, she developed an interest in the connections between the physical body and emotional states. She began to develop her specific theories based on the teachings of Jung, Freud, and Reich, as well as her own experiences. The culmination of her work led to the creation of biodynamic psychology and psychotherapy.

Boyeson eventually left Norway and traveled throughout Europe to teach her approach. She spent most of her career in the practice of body psychotherapy and was the first female psychologist in Europe to found her own training organization dedicated to body psychotherapy techniques.

Contribution to Psychology

Boyeson developed biodynamic psychotherapy after her own training and personal therapeutic experience with various forms of therapy, including vegetotherapy. Vegetotherapy, like biodynamic psychotherapy, is a form of body psychology that aims to mimic the bodily reactions associated with strong emotions. 

Boyeson believed that psychological problems are concentrated in the digestive system, and argued in favor of massage to help alleviate physical problems caused by emotional states. According to Boyeson, massage could help people express unhealthy emotions, and that such expression would result in noises similar to those produced by the body during digestion—a process Boyeson termed psychoperistalsis. Biodynamic therapy also utilizes a technique called “deep draining,” a deep form of massage intended to access deep-seated emotional distress.

Biodynamic psychotherapy is a controversial practice that has not been proven effective in empirical studies. However, health insurance plans in some countries, such as Switzerland, cover biodynamic therapy.