Most helpful critical review
38 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, thought-provoking, but not scientific
on April 13, 2009
I really enjoyed this book by Alexander Lowen, as I have done with many of his other works. He has a good writing style and he has much of interest to say. But his work is overshadowed by a few crucial flaws. Firstly, his ideas are presented in isolation from other discoveries and work done by scientists on the mind-body area throughout the 20th century, so it lies almost entirely outside, and unconnected to, the scientific exploration of the area. He writes as if he is the only one studying this topic. He doesn't even reference other somatic-orientated writers, either to agree or disagree. The lack of footnotes to other researchers at the end alone bear this out. Second it must be recognised that his theories boil down to personal conviction and not scientific rigour. His theories are based exclusively on his own case studies. So the research base is immediately limited and biased. For instance, his idea that body shape correlates to personality is laid out in great detail and "supported" by his own case studies and little more. His theories are never subjected to any peer-reviewed scientific investigation. It should be recognised that it would be possible to test some of his hypotheses around personality and the body, but he has never pursued this throughout his career. And therefore much of his theory is unsubstantiated and remains little more than conjecture (i.e, the contrary could easily be the case). Apart from this, his ideas on approaches to treatment is questionable. No doubt some might be beneficial to some, but as to what parts might be the basis for addressing psychological problems can not be examined impartially at this point. In summary, Lowen is no doubt interesting and influential, but his ideas are far from laid on a firm scientific foundation. And in a world swamped by competing incompatible psychotherapies, we need and should seek just that.