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Alfonso Caycedo (born November 19, 1932) is a Colombian neuro-psychiatrist and the founder and creator of sophrology. Professor Caycedo is the head of 'Sophrocay International', and is based in Andorra and Barcelona, where he teaches the upper levels of sophrology training.
Alfonso Caycedo was born on November 19, 1932 in Bogotá, Colombia. After his early education in Colombia, Caycedo moved to Spain to study in the faculty of medicine at the University of Madrid where he became a doctor of medicine and surgery. He specialised in psychiatry and neurology under the direction of Lopez Ibor, a Spanish professor of psychiatry.
From Hypnosis to Sophrology (1960)
Caycedo was working as a psychiatrist in Spain just after World War II and became frustrated with the way traumatised war victims were treated with pills and chemicals, many of which had worse side-effects than the illness itself. Caycedo began to look for a better way of healing them. He also observed the effects of the sometimes violent treatments used in psychiatry at the time (for example, insulin comas, electric shock therapy without anesthetics), and began to question the necessity of modifying or altering the consciousness in this way. He researched other options and turned initially to clinical hypnosis. In 1959, he created the Spanish Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis in Madrid.
After much research and experimentation, Caycedo began to notice that his clinical observations did not always coincide with the theories of hypnosis. He also noticed that many people were wary of the term ‘hypnosis’ as it is often associated with something mysterious and even magical.
For this reason, he coined the term sophrology in October 1960 and the same year he founded the first department of clinical sophrology at Madrid University.
At this time, sophrology was in fact very close to hypnosis, although sophrology advocated a more humanist approach to the patient.
Alfonso Caycedo met Ludwig Binswanger, the Swiss founder of phenomenological psychiatry, in 1963. Caycedo became a neurophsychiatric doctor at the Bellevue sanatorium in Kreuzlingen and was a student of Binswanger’s. He became familiar with the method of investigation of the consciousness proposed by Husserl and Heidegger and this definitively influenced the direction of his research on the consciousness. Caycedo tried to democratise existential phenomenology through sophrology. He proposed to rediscover phenomena of modified states of consciousness with a phenomenology-inspired approach.
In 1963 the International Sophrology and Psychosomatic Medicine Society was created and presided over by Caycedo.
Sophrology became progressively a less inductive method. Each person’s subjective experience, the personal deduction of phenomena, takes precedence over the inductions of the therapist.
The Far East (1965-1968)
Caycedo travelled to the Far East, encouraged by L. Binswanger, and no doubt influenced by his wife, Colette, who was passionate about Yoga and whom he married in 1963.
He spent time in India where he learnt Yoga beside the great Yogis whom he met through Indian doctors. In the Himalayas, he met one of the doctors of the 14th Dalai-Lama, and discovered methods such as Tummo which allows one to reach modified states of consciousness. Caycedo also visited Japan where he was equally impressed by Zazen. Caycedo recognised the importance of the body in these different methods.
On his return he wrote: ‘Sophrology is not trying to transplant eastern methods. It is trying to adapt the contents of these processes, with lot of respect for the disciplines. I propose the name ‘Dynamic Relaxation’ to describe a method of Sophrology training that is practiced in groups with therapeutic and preventative aims and objectives. This training does not require any particular belief system.’
Caycedo removed the philosophical or religious characteristics of the methods he had learned and combined the aspects that he found to have a healing effect with the western knowledge of therapy that he had accumulated. Following his research and experiences with the eastern masters, he developed the first three levels of Dynamic Relaxation or Caycedian Dynamic Relaxation (CDR) which were adapted for western culture.
The first level (CDR 1) is inspired by Indian Yoga. The Second (CDR 2) is inspired by Tibetan Yoga, and the third (CDR 3) by Zazen.
Caycedo gained his Professorship at the School of Psychiatry at the University of Barcelona in the faculty of medicine. During this period, Caycedo did extensive experimentation and research on his principle of Dynamic Relaxation. Sophrology must prove reliable.
Caycedo began holding the first Sophrology sessions in 1974. Certain people reproached Caycedo for no longer limiting sophrology to the therapeutic field and to official therapists.
- 1970 first World Congress of Sophrology in Barcelona with 1400 specialists and 42 countries represented. The future king of Spain, Juan Carlos is the president of honour along with the future queen, Sofia.
- 1973 European Symposium in Lausanne
- 1973 European Symposium in Brussels
- The first collective sophrology training takes place in Paris
- 1975 second World Congress of Sophrology in Barcelona
- 1977 first Pan-American Symposium of Sophrology in Recife (Brazil). Caycedo is nominated as professor honoris causa of the University of Pernambouc. Declaration of the Values of Mankind (the Declaration of Recife).
Caycedo created social sophrology in Bogotá in order to aid developing countries. The third World Congress of Sophrology was held in Bogotá in August 1982. The fourth level of Dynamic Relaxation (CDR 4) was created around this time. It was presented in 1985 at the Salpetrière hospital in the Charcot amphitheatre.
Professor Caycedo continues to develop and improve the sophrology method. In 1989 he created the new level of Master of Caycedian Sophrology and in 1992 he founded the International University of Caycedian Sophrology (Sophrocay International).
Sophrology is well-established in France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and South America. In 2005 a sophrology centre was set up in Geneva and London to bring sophrology to the English-speaking world.
- GAUTIER, Pascal, La Sophrologie, Wikipedia, article, September 2006
- WILSON-REVIE, Dorna, Professor Alphonso Caycedo, article, August 2006
- Sophrologie Caycedienne en médecine et en prophylaxie sociale, official revue of the Fondation of Alfonso Caycedo, since 1995, Sophrocay S.A., PAL (La Massana), Principality of Andorra
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