Welcome to my homepage. Here, I give a view of the issues I am working on.

Dr. Sebastian Leikert
Practicing Psychoanalyst in Saarbrücken, Germany
Member of the DGPT, DPV, DGPM
Training Analyst, Supervision DGPT
Chairman of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychoanalyse und Musik.
Head of the DPV study-group Leiblichkeit – Transformation – Behandlungstechnik
Member of the editorial board of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 

Investigations on aesthetics

Beginning with my graduation in Paris, I started publishing on the psychoanalysis of music. In 2007, together with colleagues, I founded the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychoanlyse und Musik (German Society for Psychoanalysis and Music - (www.psychoanalyse-und-musik.de). We organize a field of psychoanalytic research, holding conferences in Berlin, Heidelberg, Wien, Zürich and other cities. In our Journal –  Jahrbuch für Psychoanalyse und Musik –  psychoanalysts, music therapists, musicologists and others publish.

When I realized that the study of musical patterns meant the study of perceptual patterns, I extended my research to other areas of aesthetic experience and formulated an outline of a general psychoanalytic aesthetics (http://www.sebastian-leikert.de/wp-content/uploads/IJP_Leikert-PDF.pdf). It is based on the idea that we organize our self-structure and object relations through perceptual patterns before we use words and language to regulate our internal states and our relations with others. Thus, I distinguish between the verbal self and the sensory self. When the self is immersed in the perception of art, it returns to the realm of perception that is the original way of relating to the world. The self leaves behind its verbal identifications to return to its roots: the sensual self.


Encapsulated body engrams and somatic narration

As a practicing psychoanalyst I began to ask myself, how to make use of the patterns of perception within the therapeutic relationship. How can we take into consideration what is going on underneath the words we use in therapy? How can we forge concepts to perceive the sensual texture of the therapeutic encounter: the sound of the patient’s voice, the sound of our own voice, resonating in a specific manner to what we have heard verbally and sensually?

When I started to be attentive to bodily aspects in the patient’s chain of association, I embarked on a journey that profoundly changed the way I practice and led me to the conviction that I had overlooked defensive structures in my previous practice that are critical in our work with severely disturbed patients. Today, I think that we must distinguish between two sections of the unconscious. Besides the symbolic unconscious, producing dreams and neurotic symptoms, a second unconscious structure must be taken into account. In the bodily unconscious we can identify a barely discovered area where traumatic inscriptions in the body-self have lost contact with symbolization.

Inviting bodily perceptions to unfold in the focus of the shared attention of the analytic couple, leads to a close investigation of the way, the patient dwells in his body. If we work this way, together with our patients we discover a structure in the body-self that has never been in the focus of an attention before. We discover syndromes that I call encapsulated body engrams. This concept describes areas of the body, that are disorganized, that carry pain, vertigo, that are numb or painfully tense. Also, the perception of falling into an annihilating abime can be uncovered. In general, these structure result from early traumata.

Working clinically with these engrams demands a recalibration of our technique. Interpretation does not play a role in these periods of working. If we enter the area of the bodily unconscious, the shared attention plays the central role. Attention, however, is not a merely receptive and passive attitude. Shared perception, focusses, contextualizes, and reorganizes bodily structures. In general, encapsulated body engrams result from a traumatic absence of an empathic caregiver. Panic reactions are then frozen in within the body-self. The pain, encoded this way, is avoided by systematically shifting away attention from the body. This leads to a process of estrangement of the psyche from the body.

The central method I employ, the somatic narration, reverses this process. The attention is now redirected to the body. The absent caregiver is now replaced by the attentive and resonant analyst. This way, the fear of being overwhelmed by traumatic disorganization can slowly be worked through. Investigating the encapsulated body engram, means reorganizing a dysfunctional pattern of innervation, a pattern that often has repeated for years and decades. If the body is discharged from traumatic load, it can begin to function as a normal body, as a container to harbor, organize, and express emotions. If this level is sufficiently worked through later narcissistic and oedipal conflicts can be worked through with greater clarity and psychic growth is no longer discouraged by hopelessness and traumatic disorganization.

(2021) Encapsulated Body Engrams and Somatic Narration – Integrating body memory into psychoanalytic technique. Intern. J. Psychoanal. 102: 4, 671 – 688 https://doi.org/10.1080/00207578.2021.1927044

Symposia and Supervision

Together with colleagues, working in a similar direction, I organize an annual symposium in Frankfurt. Internet makes it possible, to organize supervision or group-supervision in Zoom-conferences.