This time, I know that my husband’s demons have escalated the skirmishes and declared war.  With that cold, insulting lettergram he pulled up one of his own deep roots and is leaving it to dry up and die in the sun.  He would retreat into the shadows.

I will not.  Our family is at stake.

Herb does not want couple counseling.  He insists that there is nothing wrong with me and that he alone will go to therapy.  He will handle it.  He has done it before.

It is time to call Dr. Lowen.

When we were newlyweds and living on cloud nine in New York City, Alicia, a friend of Herb’s, comes to see us.    She is so excited, she says, because she is leaving for a new life in California.

She owns a successful art gallery, but she is packing it up.  She has a Modigliani to sell.   The money will help her get started.

She is going to be part of the world of Reichian therapy.  She is going to Esalen.   This is the 60’s.  Body therapies sprout like psychedelic mushrooms in spiked soil.

Alicia goes shopping with me.  I pick her brains.  She gives me a book, Man in the Trap by Ellsworth Baker.

I go on to read Wilhem Reich.   Then I discover Alexander Lowen.   He uses no jargon.  He is clear as a summer sky.  I read all his books.

I see that all that angst about the absurdity of life and the meaninglessness of existence is a cover-up.

The problem is just the opposite.  Life has too much meaning.  It is coursing through our bodies.   We feel and we know.  Sometimes the feeling is so unbearable that we have to stop it.  Any way we can.  The history of our feelings is in our bodies.

Dr. Lowen is not about touchy feely consolation therapy.  He is above all a clinician.   He works with the body as a part of analysis.   He has learned from thousands of patients.  He is tough.

The work is new, but it is not random.  There is a structure.  I think that someday we will map the meaning of the body the way we map the genome.   We will track energy coursing through the body and understand where it has been and what it leaves in its wake.

This energy has gone by a lot of names.  Dr. Lowen calls it bioenergy.   Whatever it is called, uncovering its mysteries is probably more dangerous than splitting the atom.

Well, I think, maybe someday I will undergo this therapy and see for myself.  But someday later, maybe.


My husband does not believe in talk therapy and balks at taking any kind of drugs.  I know he will go to a therapist only to reassure me.  At heart he believes that he can solve his own problems.

He is healthy and fit.  He is used to working out in the gym.  He was a wrestler in college.   I think that a therapist who combines analysis with body work could help him.

I look up Dr. Alexander Lowen, M.D. for Herb and discover that besides a practice in New York City, he is also in nearby New Canaan.   The woman who answers the phone says that he had a heart attack and refers me to another bioenergetics psychiatrist.

Herb goes to therapy every week.  Things do not get better.  Finally, I discover that he has quit therapy weeks ago.  Why?  Well, he says, the doctor said that if his patients had a relationship like ours two thirds of them would not need him.

Then his doctor asks to meet me.  That’s when Herb quits.

We invite his doctor for lunch, after which I go for a separate session.    Herb goes back to therapy.   I also insist that I go for therapy on my own.

Out of the blue,  I get a hunch to call Dr. Lowen again, just in case.   He answers the phone.  No, he says, he did not have a heart attack.  It was only a cold, something minor.


1 Comment

  1. I love this idea:

    “I see that all that angst about the absurdity of life and the meaninglessness of existence is a cover-up.

    “The problem is just the opposite. Life has too much meaning. It is coursing through our bodies. We feel and we know. Sometimes the feeling is so unbearable that we have to stop it. Any way we can. The history of our feelings is in our bodies.”