Somatopsychic Unconscious Processes and Their Involvement in Chronic Relational Trauma

Somatic transference and its Manifestation in Relational, Family, and Power Dynamics


  • Elaine Tuccillo



projective identification, chronic relational trauma, somatic transference, relational power dynamics, transgenerational trauma


In this paper the author introduces the concept of chronic relational trauma as a pervasive relational source of personal suffering intrinsic to pathological development in children and in family dysfunctional dynamics. Unconscious processes such as various forms of transference are the vehicle by which distortions, prejudices and abuses of power in dependency relationships are perpetrated and perpetuated. This paper details unconscious mechanisms such as projective identification, the somatopsychic dynamics of these mechanisms, and provides clinical examples of these dynamics at work. Dr. Tuccillo opens the analysis of transference to reveal it as a source of a legacy of transgenerational abuse; projective identification, a complex form of transference, is understood as a relational power mechanism that can distort and obstruct healthy growth of self-esteem, self-authenticity and self-value. Bioenergetic therapists can learn to recognize the operation of the distorting, pathological effects on the person, and his or her unconscious ability to continue a legacy of abuse of self and others through both analysis of transference dynamics somatically as well as psychologically. The author adds the passion born of more than thirty years of practice as a Bioenergetic therapist in appealing for a general raising of consciousness about chronic relational trauma and its effects. Awareness of these unconscious mechanisms experienced somatically and intrapsychically in the client and the therapist is key in working with and ameliorating core destructive issues in the personality, and in all spheres of human relating.

Author Biography

Elaine Tuccillo

Elaine Tuccillo is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice in NYC. She is a certified Bioenergetic psychotherapist, an International Faculty for IIBA, and local faculty for the New York Society for Bioenergetic Analysis. She has worked with and taught body-oriented psychotherapy for over 30 years. Recent article: A Somatic-Relational Model for Growing an Emotionally Healthy, Sexually Open Body from the Ground Up in Bioenergetic Analysis, (2006). Elaine has devoted her whole professional life to understanding and teaching about healthy parent­ child relationships and to the investigation, prevention and healing of chronic relational trauma.
017-062 36095


How to Cite

Tuccillo, E. (2022). Somatopsychic Unconscious Processes and Their Involvement in Chronic Relational Trauma: Somatic transference and its Manifestation in Relational, Family, and Power Dynamics. Bioenergetic Analysis, 23(1), 17–62.