Johannes Schultz was a German psychiatrist who developed a form of self-hypnosis called autogenic training.
Johannes Schultz was born in Germany in 1884. He studied medicine at Gottingen and received his PhD in 1907.
After graduating, Schultz began practicing at the Medical University Clinic, where he worked until 1911. Next, he moved to Frankfurt to work at the Paul-Ehrlich Institute and later took a position at the Psychiatric University Clinic at Jena. Schultz also worked as a professor of neuropathology and psychiatry at Jena, as chief doctor in a sanatorium in Dresden before establishing his own psychiatry practice in Berlin in 1924. Schultz developed autogenic therapy, a relaxation technique, in the 1920s, a practice that he outlined in his 1932 book, Autogenic Training.
From 1936–1945, Schultz worked as an assistant at the German Institute for Psychological Research, also known as the Goring Institute, in Berlin. Schultz showed support for Nazi ideas by promoting and publishing his controversial beliefs about homosexuality, forced sterilization, and extermination of the disabled. Schultz claimed that homosexuality was curable, and he led a project that forced gay men to have sex with prostitutes; those found “guilty” of homosexuality were sent to concentration camps. His essay “Psychological Consequences of Sterilization and Castration Among Men” promoted the law that required sterilization for men who showed potential for passing on hereditary diseases, such as neurological conditions or mental retardation. In 1940, Schultz publicized his diagnostic scheme for annihilating “hereditarily degenerated psychopaths.”
Schultz founded the German Society for Medical Hypnosis in 1959. He also edited the journal Psychotherapie.
Contribution to Psychology
Schultz is best known for his development, along with Wolfgang Luthe, of autogenic training. This form of self-hypnosis was designed to help a client achieve a deep sense of calm and relaxation, reducing stress and decreasing any accompanying symptoms. Autogenic therapy is intended to alleviate symptoms from many different psychological and physical issues, including gastritis, ulcers, asthma, hyperventilation, cold extremities, headaches, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and over or underactive thyroid.
Conducted three times per day in 15-minute sessions, autogenic training is similar to meditation and yoga. The technique teaches a person how to instruct the body to react to specific verbal cues, all designed to relax and control the body’s systems. Heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and breathing are all influenced and affected by this method of relaxation. Visualization is used to enhance the experience, and the client is instructed to lie or sit in any comfortable and unrestricted position.
Autogenic therapy has been studied and used since its inception in Germany, and it gained recognition worldwide in the 1980s. It has also inspired other forms of body psychotherapy.
- Autogenics history. (n.d.). Durham University. Retrieved from http://www.autogenictherapy.com.au/autogenics_history.html
- Brunner J, Schrempf M, Steger F. (2008). Johannes Heinrich Schultz and National Socialism. Israel Journal of Psychiatry & Related Sciences, 45(4). Retrieved from http://doctorsonly.co.il/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/2008_4_5.pdf