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BIONOMICS, MOTIVATIONAL SYSTEMS AND THE AUTOGENIC STATE

Autor/autores: Luca-Gionata Zannino
Fecha Publicación: 30/03/2017
Área temática: Psicología general , Tratamientos .
Tipo de trabajo:  Artículo original
Department of Mental Health, ASL TO3, Regione Piemonte, Italy

RESUMEN

Schultz attributed the therapeutic action of autogenic training to an increase in the self-regulatory capacities of the organism, facilitated by the systematic and repeated achievement of the autogenic state. This particular state of consciousness, induced by the autogenic training technique, is accompanied by brain-mediated psychological and physiological modifications. According to the author, in the central nervous system, autogenic commutation, namely the passage from the ordinary state of consciousness to the autogenic state, corresponds to the modulation of specific motivational systems involved in the physiological, emotional and cognitive self-regulation of the organism. This paper describes the psychoneurophysiology of the autogenic state according to an evolutionary perspective, adopting the triune brain model of Paul MacLean. The main therapeutic effects of the autogenic techniques are explained as the impact of the autogenic state on the motivational systems of the reptilian brain, the limbic brain and the neocortex.
At reptilian brain level, the autogenic state acts on the motivational systems that regulate homeostasis, defence behaviour, consummatory behaviour and exploration behaviour. At limbic brain level, the autogenic state mainly influences the activity of the attachment motivational system which is deactivated. Finally, at neocortex level, the autogenic state modifies the activity of the superior cognitive motivation system whose evolutionary mandate drives the individual along the road to self-knowledge, self-awareness and self-realisation.
Though based on consolidated scientific evidence, many of the considerations in this paper are to be taken as mere hypotheses awaiting confirmation. It is the author’s hope that these considerations can be a stimulus and starting point for new, targeted research in the field of autogenic psychotherapy. Thus, for example, the study of autogenic training in the different attachment styles could provide interesting data for the use of autogenic psychotherapy in the different psychopathological conditions.

Palabras clave: autogenic


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International Journal of Autogenics Research
Vol. 1 - Núm. 3 - 2017

BIONOMICS, MOTIVATIONAL SYSTEMS AND THE AUTOGENIC STATE
Luca-Gionata Zannino, MD
ABSTRACT
Schultz attributed the therapeutic action of autogenic training
to an increase in the self-regulatory capacities of the
organism,

facilitated

by

the

systematic

and

repeated

achievement of the autogenic state. This particular state of
consciousness, induced by the autogenic training technique, is
accompanied

by

brain-mediated

psychological

and

physiological modifications. According to the author, in the
central nervous system, autogenic commutation, namely the
passage from the ordinary state of consciousness to the
autogenic state, corresponds to the modulation of specific motivational systems involved in the
physiological, emotional and cognitive self-regulation of the organism. This paper describes the
psychoneurophysiology of the autogenic state according to an evolutionary perspective, adopting
the triune brain model of Paul MacLean. The main therapeutic effects of the autogenic techniques
are explained as the impact of the autogenic state on the motivational systems of the reptilian
brain, the limbic brain and the neocortex.
At reptilian brain level, the autogenic state acts on the motivational systems that regulate
homeostasis, defence behaviour, consummatory behaviour and exploration behaviour. At limbic
brain level, the autogenic state mainly influences the activity of the attachment motivational
system which is deactivated. Finally, at neocortex level, the autogenic state modifies the activity
of the superior cognitive motivation system whose evolutionary mandate drives the individual
along the road to self-knowledge, self-awareness and self-realisation.
Though based on consolidated scientific evidence, many of the considerations in this paper are
to be taken as mere hypotheses awaiting confirmation. It is the author's hope that these
considerations can be a stimulus and starting point for new, targeted research in the field of
autogenic psychotherapy. Thus, for example, the study of autogenic training in the different
attachment styles could provide interesting data for the use of autogenic psychotherapy in the
different psychopathological conditions.
Department of Mental Health, ASL TO3, Regione Piemonte, Italy.
INTRODUCTION
The theory used by J.H. Schultz to explain the general function of the mind, the development of
the personality and the process of therapeutic change, is based on the concept of "bionomics",

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understood as the set of "laws of life" which regulate the function of the organism in its biologicalpsychological-spiritual totality. These "laws of life", which Schultz describes in his work "Bionomic
Psychotherapy - An Essential Experiment" of 1951 (1), are innate, binding and goal directed.
They lead the organism, along a multistep path, towards a state of dynamic balance and the
completion of its potentials. Failure to adhere to the laws of life or improper adherence to them
lies at the origin of the pathologic developments of the organism.
Schultz's description of the "laws of life" considers to all intents and purposes bionomics to be
an original theory of motivation, which differentiates itself from Freud's drive theory which was
prevalent at that time. Instead, in contemporary psychology, it is surely the evolutionary
perspective of the motivational processes which is closest to Schultz's bionomic concept. In
particular, J. Bowlby, starting from the 60s, making reference to ethological studies, experimental
psychology and neurophysiology, formulated a motivational theory from an evolutionary
perspective (2-4). This author identified the elements which determine the mental function in
innate predispositions or tendencies to action, a result of the long evolutionary history of the
animal species. According to the evolutionary perspective, the motivational processes developed
by each human being during their life-time are founded on innate, universal dispositions, the
antecedents of which are already present in the animal species closest to man in terms of
evolution.
These dispositions to action shaped by evolution, or evolutionary mandates, widely correspond
to Schultz's "laws of life". They are innate tendencies to act, which steer the organism towards
specific biological, social or cultural goals. Collectively, evolutionary mandates steer the organism
towards survival and adaptation to the ecological niche in which its species lives. However
powerful and often ineluctable, they are not fixed and rigid action schemes like those traditionally
associated with the concept of instinct. In a single individual, from birth, the tangible expression
in the behaviour of the different evolutionary mandates encounters redefinitions and
modifications according to experience.
J. Bowlby conceived the evolutionary mandates as behaviour regulation systems that he called
"behavioral systems". After J. Bowlby, different authors further developed the research on human
motivational systems (MS) (5-7). Most of the behaviours and activities regulated by Motivational
Systems are activated by internal or environmental stimuli, are feedback controlled and stop
once the goal has been achieved. In the literature on autogenic techniques, this Motivational
Systems regulation function comes close to the research of W. Luthe who focuses on the cerebral
mechanisms of the autogenic state and formulates the concept of "self-regulatory brain-directed
processes" (8).
Over millions of years, the evolution of the animal species, contemporarily to the laws of life or
evolutionary mandates, has also moulded the brain of the different species of vertebrates (9).

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Throughout the course of evolution, the different MS neural networks have formed and organised
(10, 11). In neurobiology, the evolutionary perspective was developed and formalised by P.
MacLean in his famous theory of the triune brain (12-14). According to MacLean, man's central
nervous system (CNS) includes three anatomo-functional levels that bear witness to the long
evolutionary path of the nervous system through the different species of vertebrates: the
reptilian brain, the limbic system or paleomammalian brain and the neocortex (fig. 1).

Figure 1. From the frontispiece to MacLean, 1990.
As investigated by W. Luthe (8), the therapeutic effects of the autogenic state, and therefore of
all the different autogenic techniques, are mediated by the brain. In the pages that follow we
will see how the autogenic state in the human organism modifies the function of the reptilian
brain, the limbic system and the neocortex. Through brain mediation, the different autogenic
techniques act on the entire human organism, in its corporeal, psychological and spiritual
dimensions. To describe and analyse the effects of the autogenic state on the human organism,
we will refer to G. Liotti's evolutionary approach to psychotherapy (7, 15-17). This author
developed a classification of human Motivational Systems, connecting them to MacLean's triune
brain (Table 1). His approach allows us to describe the effects of the autogenic state on the
different anatomo-functional levels of the brain in terms of modulation of the corresponding MS.
According to this approach, we can explain autogenic commutation as a change in the biological,
psychological and spiritual set up of the human organism, supported by contemporary functional
modifications (activation, stimulation, inhibition or deactivation) of the MS of the brain which
control the expression of the laws of life.

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MOTIVATIONAL SYSTEMS
Reptilian Brain

Limbic System

Neocortex

Attachment
Physiological regulation

Caregiving

Defence

Social dominance

Consummation

Mating

Exploration

Peer Cooperation

Superior Cognitive

Table 1. The motivational systems in the triune brain according to G. Liotti (7, 15-17).
AUTOGENIC STATE AND REPTILIAN BRAIN
In MacLean's model, the reptilian brain represents the oldest phylogenetic section of the human
CNS. It is formed by brainstem, hypothalamus, thalamus and basal ganglia and it functions
below consciousness. In ancestral reptiles these structures represented the entire CNS with this
single, fundamental, brief law of life inscribed therein: "Survive and replicate!" Thus, from
reptiles to Homo sapiens, these nervous structures have regulated the primary needs of the
body (food, water, shelter and rest) and the connected behaviour of exploration, consummation
and defence.
Four MS are inscribed in the reptilian brain: physiological regulation, defence, consummation
and exploration (tab. 1) (7, 15-17). Their activity is manifested objectively on the physiological
and behavioural level and subjectively with sensations (hunger, thirst, satiety, hot, cold, etc.),
but not with emotions. Each MS of the reptilian brain regulates a single "article" of its
fundamental law of life. All MS of the reptilian brain are directly or indirectly modulated by the
autogenic state and consequently involved in the manifestations and efficacy of all autogenic
techniques. The modulation of their activity by the autogenic state primarily affects the
physiological dimension of the organism.
The first reptilian MS, as described by J. D. Licthenberg (5), is that of physiological regulation.
It includes the vegetative nuclei of the brainstem and provides for the homeostatic regulation of
the organism. Receiving information continuously through the circulatory system, the endocrine
system and the nervous system, it guarantees the constancy of the internal medium by
maintaining a dynamic balance. The activity of this MS is tonic and can be momentarily increased
or decreased, by transitory inhibition or stimulation. We can describe the well-known prohomeostatic effect of the autogenic state (18,19) as the effect of modulation of the activity of

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this first reptilian Motivational System.
The second reptilian brain Motivational System (MS) is the defence MS, formed during evolution
to control the behavioural and physiological responses aimed at protecting from danger. W.B.
Cannon coined the phrase "Fight or flight!" to summarise the reptilian law of life article controlled
by this MS (20, 21). Its activation is phasic. The activating stimulus was originally represented
by running into environmental obstacles which threatened the survival and/or satisfaction of
primary needs, usually the accidental meeting with predators or conspecifics penetrating one's
territory. As the evolution of the species progressed to Homo sapiens, psychological threats took
on the value of defence system activators, in addition to physical dangers. Starting with the
studies by H. Selye (22-27), in modern psychology and medicine, we commonly refer to all these
activating stimuli as stressors. In the reptilian brain the neural networks of the defence MS are
included in the ergotropic zone of the hypothalamus which was identified by the physiologist
W.R. Hess in the 30s and 40s (28-31). The nuclei of this portion of the hypothalamus regulate
the expression of defensive behaviour and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. The
activation of this MS corresponds to the alarm response described by W.B. Cannon in his
behavioural

(fighting,

fleeing,

freezing)

and

physiological

(sympathetic

activation

manifestations) components (20, 21). As subsequently described by Selye, when the threat is
not removed and the activation of the defence MS persists, the alarm response is continued by
the stress response which, on a physiological level, adds the activation of the HPA axis (22, 23,
and 25). The chronic activation of the defence MS and of the connected stress reaction, are
unfortunately frequent in contemporary Homo sapiens, who is forced to cope with the
increasingly complex challenges of modern life, rather than with the predators of the forest.
Unfortunately, it is precisely the chronic activation of this system that represents an important
pathogenetic mechanism of the so-called stress-related illnesses (23, 24, 32).
In nature, the defence system is deactivated when the evolutionary mandate is achieved and
blocking obstacles are overcome or, in other words, when the stressor is removed. In humans,
the autogenic state can also deactivate the defence MS, producing a direct physiological antistress effect. This effect had already been recognised with regard to transcendental meditation
(27) which, just like autogenic training, is mediated by a state of amplified consciousness and
falls within the techniques de Rivera called ASCI therapies (Therapies by amplified states of
consciousness induction) (33). Hans Selye thus wrote on the subject:
"The physiological effects of transcendental meditation on metabolism,
breathing, electrical skin resistance, plasma lactic acid levels, brainwaves and
the cardiovascular system, are the exact opposite of those of the stress
response" (27).
In the autogenic state, this third reptilian MS, the consummation MS, also contributes to this

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anti-stress effect. Unlike the defence MS, this reptilian third MS is activated by the autogenic
state. Its activation constitutes a trophotropic stimulation of the organism and manifests itself
physiologically in the form of the relaxation response described by H. Benson in 1975 (34-36).
The consummation MS was selected by the course of evolution to control the behavioural
responses following achievement of the adaptive object with respect to nutritional and
reproductive needs. As for the defence system, functioning is phasic. In nature, the availability
of food or of a sexual partner represent the activating stimuli for this reptilian MS. Subsequently,
the consummation system is deactivated at the end of the assimilation of food and sexual
activity. The article of the law of reptilian life regulated by this system is usually summarised by
the imperative "Rest, digest, feed and breed!". This law of life reminds us how rest and restoring
energy are among the essential needs of our organism. In the reptilian brain the neural networks
which regulate consummatory behaviour and the underlying physiological modifications are
located in the hypothalamic trophotropic zone. As discovered by W.R. Hess, the nuclei of this
hypothalamic region, regulate consummatory behaviour, as well as the activity of the
parasympathetic nervous system (29-31). The activation of the consummation MS corresponds
to an increase in parasympathetic tone.
As already highlighted by H. Benson in his studies on the physiological modifications of
transcendental meditation (35, 36), the consummation MS and therefore the relaxation response
in humans can be activated by a modification of the state of consciousness like that of the
autogenic state or of the other ASCI techniques. In the autogenic state, the simultaneous
deactivation of the defence system and activation of the consummation system regulates the
autonomic nervous system, shifting the neurovegetative balance towards a relative prevalence
of parasympathetic tone. On the physiological level, this contemporary modulation of the defence
and consummation system expresses itself as a relaxation response or anti-stress effect (3739).
The fourth reptilian MS system is the exploration MS, which activity is also modulated by the
first autogenic commutation. This reptilian MS has a tonic activation. It formed during evolution
to control the active movement of the organism in the external environment to satisfy nutritional
and reproductive needs. In relaxation states the external environment exploring behaviour is
usually inhibited. We can therefore consider that the autogenic state, acting on the exploration
MS, contributes to inhibiting the behaviour of exploring the outer world in favour of exploring
the inner world. This introversion facilitating effect is probably supported by other hierarchically
superordinate MS activated or deactivated by the autogenic state and functionally connected to
the exploration MS.
From what we have discussed thus far regarding autogenic commutation in the reptilian brain,
an important characteristic of the autogenic state emerges: its particular ability to act diffusely

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in the deepest layer of personality. In fact, the autogenic state acts on all the reptilian brain MS
and many of the therapeutic effects of the bionomic techniques are produced at this level. The
following table summarises the therapeutic effects of the autogenic therapies mediated by
modulation of the reptilian MS and by the consequent facilitation of the expression of the
corresponding evolutionary mandates.
Reptilian MS

Law of life

Effect of autogenic commutation

Physiological regulation

Homeostasis

Pro-homeostatic effect

Defence

"Fight or flight!"

Consummation

"Rest, digest, feed and

Anti-stress effect

breed!"
Exploration

Exploration of the

Facilitation of introversion

territory
Table 2. Effects of the autogenic techniques mediated by the reptilian brain.
The effects of the autogenic state mediated by the reptilian brain primarily involve the corporeal
dimension of the organism, above all through the regulation of neurovegetative tone. These
effects represent the basis for the medical use of autogenic training (40, 41). Still at corporeal
level, by inhibiting the exploration system, the autogenic state inhibits the general motor activity
of the organism, predisposing the subject to introversion. In this last case autogenic
commutation produces

a modification of the corporeal dimension of the organism which aims

at an effect on its psychological-spiritual dimensions.
AUTOGENIC STATE AND LIMBIC SYSTEM
About one hundred million years ago, above the structures that constitute the reptilian brain, a
second nervous structure appeared: the limbic system or paleomammalian brain. This anatomofunctional unit of the CNS characterises the brain of birds and primitive mammals (11). The
elements of the limbic system are arranged in different zones of the cerebral hemispheres and
include the MS which control dyadic interpersonal relationships. In animals these regulation
systems are called social MS and in humans interpersonal MS (IMS) (7, 15). Their activation not
only organises social/interpersonal behaviour, but also the corresponding emotional experience
and representation of self-with-other. In vertebrates the level of motivation regulated by the
social MS is common to birds and to all mammals, including Homo sapiens. The motivations or
laws of life of the limbic system are added to and integrate with the functions of the lower level,
organising and deploying the activity of the reptilian MS for the increasingly complex social
purposes determined by the evolutionary history of the species. In birds and in mammals the

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fundamental law of life inscribed in their brain by evolution is therefore longer and more complex.
In words, it would read something like: "Survive and replicate together with other members of
your own species!".
The single articles of the law of life which regulate dyadic inter-individual behaviour are inscribed
in the neural networks of the single MS of the limbic system. G. Liotti describes five interpersonal
motivational systems (IMS) which control distinct aspects of the dyadic interhuman exchange
(Table 1) (7,15-17).
Among all the IMS, it is the attachment system that is subject to the action of the autogenic
state.

The emotional component of the psychological manifestations of the autogenic state

originate from its modulation. We can describe the autogenic commutation in the limbic system
as a deactivation of the attachment.
As defined by J. Bolby the attachment system in humans is operational "from the cradle to the
grave" (42). The neural circuits forming the attachment system include different structures of
the limbic system (43). As regards the neurophysiological and emotional correlates of the
autogenic state, H. Kraft highlights above all the possible role carried out by the amygdala (44).
The attachment system regulates the search for protective closeness to conspecifics when we
are suffering, in danger or feel vulnerable (2, 5-7). In words, the article of the law of social life
regulated by this MS would read: "When in trouble move closer to a member of your social group
who appears stronger or wiser than you!".
In nature, the attachment system is activated by different stressful conditions which share the
perception of being vulnerable to environmental dangers, or of not being able to personally
satisfy the requirements for survival. The typical emotional experiences of attachment activation
are those of suffering and danger: anxiety, fear and pain. Proximity to a significant other who is
willing and able to provide caring and protection deactivates the attachment system and modifies
the connected emotional experience. The emotions generated by the deactivated attachment
are those of well-being, comfort, joy, safety and trust.
The transformation of the emotional experience promoted by attachment deactivation,
represents a process of emotional regulation. In nature, for example in a child who has hurt
himself or a child who is frightened, the regulation of his emotional experience is
mediated/facilitated by the caring provided by his mother. In the mother's arms the pain and
fear of the child transform into feelings of well-being and safety while his attachment system is
deactivated.
This experience of emotional regulation shows numerous similarities with the emotional
experience of autogenic commutation due to its nature and to the way it is produced. At the
emotional level,

once the autogenic state is achieved, well-trained individuals experience a

transformation of basic affective tone and reach a feeling of well-being and satisfaction that is

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difficult to describe (45, 46). This experience seems to be the psychological opposite of anxiety.
The emotional experience of the autogenic state consists in a generalised and diffused feeling of
safety and protection; in the feeling that everything is in order and nothing bad could possibly
happen. It witnesses the deactivation of the attachment and constitutes the psychological
component of the autogenic state anti-stress effect (37-39).
The evidence of a connection between autogenic commutation and attachment deactivation is
also supported by significant similarities found between the effective mother caregiving that
deactivates the child's attachment and the autogenic training technique. In particular, the
preliminaries and the two fundamental exercises of autogenic training show an interesting
resemblance with the prototype of effective human caregiving: the soft and warm embrace of a
mother who is sensitive and responsive to her child's pain.
In nature, effective caregiving responds with sensitivity and proportionally to the needs of the
young and deactivates the attachment system by means of soft, warm, rhythmic and repeated
contact. In animal caregiving the rhythmic repeated licking of the puppy is added to body
contact. In humans, the significant adult's embrace is usually complemented by rhythmic
cradling and/or caressing of the child and frequently by the repetition of kind simple words or
short sentences. During autogenic commutation these characteristics of human caregiving are
mimicked by the induction technique of the autogenic state. The calming entrance of a child into
tender maternal embrace is recalled at the beginning of every autogenic training session by
taking the specific posture described by Schultz with cessation of motor activity, immobilisation
and initial skeletal muscle relaxation (47). The subsequent passive concentration on the
sensation of heaviness and the following increase in muscle relaxation during Schultz's first
exercise recall the touch by the soft maternal body in an embrace which holds and supports the
child. Finally, the sensation of superficial warmth during the second exercise and the rhythmic
repetition of the formulas, recall the feelings of staying and receiving (physical and emotional
warmth, and repeated pleasant words) in the reassuring maternal embrace.
To summarise and bear in mind, with the preliminaries and the first exercise we enter the
embrace and with the second exercise and the repetition of the formulas we stay in the embrace
and we feel it. Like a sensitive maternal embrace, the two fundamental exercises of autogenic
training deactivate our attachment, transforming our emotional experience. Collectively, the
technique of performing the two fundamental exercises, with its behavioural (immobilisation),
proprioceptive (relaxation/softness of the skeletal muscles and superficial warmth) and verbal
(rhythmic repetition of the formulas) characteristics, recalls the protective closeness to
attachment figures.
It is no coincidence that this powerful effect of attachment deactivation is one characteristic of
the first two exercises of Schultz's sequence which are considered fundamental. They represent

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the first, mandatory step to entering the autogenic state and the starting point of all autogenic
therapies.
AUTOGENIC STATE AND NEOCORTEX
According to MacLean, the most recent anatomo-functional level in terms of evolution of the CNS
is the neocortex or neomammalian brain which characterises the most evolved mammals (Fig.
1). Throughout the course of evolution, the mammalian brain has been characterised by the
progressive maturation of the cortex which has achieved complete differentiation in humans only
(9, 48). In primitive mammals the neocortex constitutes 20% of the telencephalon. In the most
evolved mammals it is much more developed and in human species it constitutes 80% of the
telencephalon.
The neocortex plays a very important role in bionomic metapsychology and autogenic
psychotherapy. The cognitive component of the psychological manifestations of the autogenic
state originates at this level (46). And it is again at this level that the existential and spiritual
aspects of the bionomic theory of Schultz are expressed too.
During the autogenic state the neocortex of the telencephalon presents significant functional
modifications which are demonstrated by characteristic brainwave changes (49, 50).
Neurophysiologically, the autogenic state increases the cognitive processing by the right frontal
lobe and the functional connection between the hemispheres of the neocortex, promoting cooperation between right and left hemispheres, an effect that de Rivera terms the "second
autogenic shift", which forms the basis of the characteristic amplification of consciousness of the
autogenic state (33, 51) (Fig.2).

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Fig 2. Map of States of Consciousness (from (52)).
The superior cognitive MS are inscribed in the neocortex. They regulate the relationship of the
individual with the group, society and culture. Quoting Schultz, the superior cognitive systems
regulate the relationship of the individual with "the human community" (1). This superior level
of human motivation deals with the cognitive dimension of knowledge and awareness of self and
of others and with self-realisation (53, 54). Thanks to the development of the neocortex, the
human brain in this way expresses an essential law of life which is even longer and more
articulated than that of primitive mammals. In words, it would read something like: "Survive
and replicate together with other members of your own species! And find a meaning in all this,
share it with others and become yourself!"
Superior cognitive MS present a tonic activity which is stimulated by the autogenic state. In
autogenic psychotherapy this stimulation effect produces an increase in the introspective
abilities, favouring a patient's self-knowledge and self-awareness. We can therefore consider the
autogenic state as a technically-induced "state of regression at the service of the ego"
characterised by a marked increase in the awareness of internal processes (55).
On a spiritual and existential level, in Schultz's view, the stimulation of the superior cognitive
MS produces an increase in creativity and in vital self-realisation in connection with the human
community and God.
Almost 70 years ago, Schultz's bionomic theory considered aspects of human motivation in
psychological, existential and spiritual terms which come very close to the modern conception
of superior cognitive systems. In the following passage of his book "Bionomic Psychotherapy An Essential Experiment" of 1951 (1), in the context of psychotherapy, we can for example
recognise the description of the neocortical motivation to affiliation with the group, with society
and with the culture of the "human community":
"At times it is the patient himself who makes the battle for an authentic
community spirit and true renunciation, without reservation, of small personal
gains and petty egotistical interests difficult for the physician. The physician
is entrusted with huge tasks in two different directions: re-conducting to a
respectful and vital relationship with what is natural and is a gift of God and
the tiresome battle for a healthy adherence to the community".
As is known, in Schultz's thought, psychological disorders originate from a failure to adhere to
the laws of life or from a not proper adherence to them; consequently, the therapy is aimed at
supporting the patient in recovering the correct adherence to the evolutionary mandates in order
to reach their "natural" goals.

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We also recall the well-known metaphor of the gardener in which Schultz describes the
neocortical motivation of self-realisation and the connected concept of personal growth in
psychotherapy. H. Ellenberger reports that using this metaphor Schultz supposedly answered
Freud, who questioned the efficacy of the autogenic method (56): "I think that, like a gardener,
I could remove obstacles hindering a person's true development." "Then we will understand each
other," answered Freud.
Finally, after Schultz, the neocortical theme of self-realisation and that of the connected
maturation of personality by means of autogenic psychotherapy were investigated by H.
Wallnöfer (57).
CONCLUSIONS
J.H. Schultz and W. Luthe attributed the therapeutic effects of autogenic training to the increase
in the organism's ability to self-regulate, mediated by the brain. Today, the subsequent discovery
and characterisation of Motivational Systems enables us to describe the influence of the
autogenic state on the self-regulatory ability of the organism with greater accuracy and to
investigate the action mechanism of autogenic techniques on the corporeal, psychological, and
existential dimensions of man.
Through modulation of the activity of all motivational systems of the reptilian brain, the
autogenic techniques carry out their effects primarily on the corporeal dimension. This action of
the autogenic state is at the base of the use of autogenic techniques in clinical and psychosomatic
medicine.
By impacting on the limbic MS of attachment, the autogenic state acts instead on the emotional
component of the human psychological dimension. This effect surely explains the widespread
diffusion and success which autogenic training has enjoyed over time as symptomatic
psychological therapy for anxiety disorders or as an "anti-stress" technique. However,
considering the importance of attachment in the healthy psychological and pathological
development of the individual, the study and use of this powerful effect in the fields of
psychopathology and depth oriented psychotherapy is much more interesting and potentially
fruitful.
Finally, at neocortical level, the autogenic state modifies the activity of the system of superior
cognitive motivations, the evolutionary mandate of which pushes the individual along the path
of self-knowledge, self-awareness and self-realisation. Consequently, at this level, autogenic
commutation expresses itself on the cognitive component of the human psychological dimension
and on the existential dimension. The enhancement of the introspective ability is surely one
advantage of autogenic psychotherapy over other psychotherapeutic methods. However, the
effects of the autogenic state on neocortical motivation also go beyond the psychological

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dimension and their use in treating psychopathology. As described by Schultz, they also reach
the cultural, existential and spiritual dimensions of man and consequently form the basis for the
use of autogenic techniques in healthy individuals to promote creativity and personal
development.
Though based on consolidated scientific evidence, many of the considerations in this paper are
to be taken as mere hypotheses awaiting confirmation. It is the author's hope that these
considerations will be a stimulus and starting point for new, targeted research in the field of
autogenic psychotherapy. For example, he particularly believes that the study of autogenic
training in the different attachment styles could provide interesting data for the application of
autogenic psychotherapy in different psychopathological conditions.
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