Denis Ramos

The Transduction of a Symptom: from Emotion to Consciousness

It is noticeable that profound existential or traumatic situations can provoke unconscious emotional and organic excitability which hardly can be verbally expressed. This excitation, a reaction either of freeze, fight, or flight a threatening stimulus or strong emotional charge are not under the control of superior brain structures and stays fixed in the organism as a complex, as an uncoherent physiological state, producing a rupture of the organism’s homeostasis. Accordingly, a seemingly harmless stimulus (when associated to a complex) can be transduced by the organism as adverse and menacing.

The dilemma for us psychotherapists is how to reach these organic, unconscious levels where words have no effect because the excitation is registered on primitive regions of the cerebral structure? How to transduce this emotional excitability to the conscious level?

If the disorder is psycho-physiological, the language is that of sensation and motricity, which obliges us to work on the physiological and corporal level, as well as with non-verbal expressive symbology. Once the lesion is fixed in pre-verbal structures, we will hardly be able to provoke alterations using psychoanalytical techniques.

This proposal addresses the concepts of complex, transduction, and symbol as the main axis for understanding the psyche-body phenomenon by resorting to a symbolic view of the somatic symptoms, regardless of their causality. The goal is always to find a state of coherence in the organism by means of interventions at various levels, from psychic to soma and vice versa, specially using non- verbal techniques. Clinical cases illustrate how the theory can be applied by using techniques from the Jungian field.


Denise G. Ramos, Ph. D. is a clinical psychologist, Jungian analyst member (IAAP), and former director of the Brazilian Society of Analytical Psychology and teacher member of the International Sandplay Society. She was a Fulbright recipient at New School University in New York City and has been full professor at Graduation Program in Clinical Psychology at Catholic University of São Paulo, and chair of the Center of Jungian Studies. At this center she coordinates research groups on psychosomatics and cultural complexes from Jungian point of view. Several master and doctorate thesis have been produced annually under her counseling. Her main field of interests is the psychosomatic phenomenon and cultural complexes as the basis of social pathologies, in special corruption and racial prejudice. International lecturer, she has published several books and articles in the field, among them the book the Psyche of the Body (Routledge, 2006) translated to several languages. She has been politically active in the Jungian community, having been a member of the executive committee and vice president of the IAAP and the International Society of Sandplay Therapy (ISST) for several years. In Brazil, she was elected member of the Academia of Psychology of Sao Paulo, chair 27.


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