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Wolfgang Luthe (1922-1985) was a German physician and psychotherapist, who brought autogenic training to the attention of the English-speaking world.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

His contributions to autogenic training, and collaboration over several decades with JH Schultz, its founder, sometimes result in Luthe being credited as one of the originators of the method.[4][9][10][11] Luthe's writing and training courses championed the method as a therapeutic modality in several diseases.[12][13][14]


Early careerEdit

Luthe was born in 1922 in Lubeck.[15] He received his M.D. degree in Hamburg in 1947.[15] As a junior trainee, he met JH Schultz, who was the founder of autogenic training (AT), a system of self-hypnosis, which was confined to Germany and Austria before and during World War Two.[16] Luthe was impressed by the effects of AT in asthma and became Schultz's protégé.[10][17] Their collaboration continued throughout Schultz's lifetime,[2][11][16][18] despite Luthe emigrating to Canada in the late 1940s.[8]

He was in clinical practice in Montreal.[8] As a member of the International Institute of Stress, founded by Hans Selye, he demonstrated the stress-reduction effects of autogenic exercises.[8] He taught at both l´Université de Montreal and McGill University, including the psychology and the psychiatry postgraduate training programs.[8]


His first book, Autogenic Training: A Psychophysiologic Approach in Psychotherapy, jointly authored with Schultz, appeared in 1959.[7][8] This was based on Schulz's 1932 book, and its subsequent updates, available only in German.[7] It was the first book-length presentation of autogenic training in English.[7][8] A six-volume series, Autogenic Therapy followed; the first three volumes were coauthored with Schultz; the last three were written independently following Schultz's death.[2][8][19] His numerous publications included journal articles and a training manual.[1][14]


In Luthe's view, social conditioning interferes with what the body and mind do naturally when in distress; off-loading exercises enhance the autogenic process by using body and mind awareness to acknowledge and accept, and then to manage emotional release safely and constructively. Accordingy,[clarification needed] natural homeostatic mechanisms regulate not only physiological processes, for example fluid and electrolyte balance and temperature, but functional disorders of a cognitive or emotional nature.[14][20] He considered autogenic techniques a means of stimulating and better applying the natural homeostatic mechanisms of the brain.[14][20]

He contributed a number of innovations of his own to autogenic therapy, such as techniques of autogenic neutralization,[21] autogenic abreaction, autogenic verbalization, and intentional off-loading exercises.[8][15] He encouraged autogenic training as a therapeutic modality in several diseases.[12][13][14] In 1961, he described the therapeutic significance of “autogenic discharges”, which had been considered to be mere “training symptoms” or side effects of basic autogenic training.[8]

He assisted in the formation of the International Committee for Autogenic Training and Therapy (ICAT).[8] His training center at Lac du Deux Montagnes, near Montreal, attracted international students like Malcolm Carruthers, founder of the British Autogenic Society, and José Luis González de Rivera, founder of the Asociacion Española de Psicoterapia.[5][8][22][23] He frequently visited Japan, where he was scientific director of the Oskar Vogt Institute and visiting professor at the Kyushu University School of Medicine and Hospital.[8]

Late careerEdit

In the 1970s, he worked on methods to mobilize individual creativity, as described in his 1976 book, Creativity Mobilization Technique.[8][24]

In 1979, Luthe moved to Vancouver, British Columbia.[8] He continued clinical work and writing, and was associated with Simon Fraser University.[8] He was involved in the application of autogenic methods to competitive athletics. At the time of his death, he was preparing a German edition of Autogenic Therapy, as well as writing a biography of Oskar Vogt, the Berlin neurologist and brain researcher, who, around the turn of the 20th century, had made observations on autohypnosis that were pivotal in Schultz's formulation of the autogenic standard exercises.[8][10]


  This article incorporates text by José Luis González de Rivera available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Changes include some wording and content ordering.

  1. ^ a b Wolfgang Linden; edited by Lehrer PM, Woolfolk RL, Sime WE. "The Autogenic Training Method of JH Schultz." Chapter 7 in Principles and Practice of Stress Management, Third Edition page 152 Guilford Press, 2007 ISBN 9781606238288
  2. ^ a b c Stoyva, Johann (June 1986). "Wolfgang: In Memoriam". Biofeedback and Self Regulation. 11 (2): 91-93. doi:10.1007/BF00999976.
  3. ^ Berger N; Devinsky O, Pacia SV, Shachter SC. (eds.) "Autogenic training" Chapter 7 in Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Epilepsy. Demos Medical Publishing, 2005 page 58. ISBN 9781934559086
  4. ^ a b "Autogenic Therapy." Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. (2009). [1]
  5. ^ a b Gould, D. "It's all in the mind." New Scientist Dec 14, 1978 pages 840-841 [2]
  6. ^ Dale E. "This Month We Try...Autogenic Training." Health & Fitness Magazine, April 2006
  7. ^ a b c d Suter S. Health Psychophysiology. Psychology Press, 2014. page 169. ISBN 9781317757528
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q José Luis González de Rivera. "Wolfgang Luthe - Biografia Corta". Instituto de Psicoterapia e Investigación Psicosomática.
  9. ^ LA Times. "Dealing With Stress: Cope Or Prevent" LA Times, as carried by Lakeland Ledger, Jun 1, 1989
  10. ^ a b c Friis RH, Seaward BH, Dayer-Berenson L. "Managing Stress." Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2015 page 498 ISBN 9781449688455
  11. ^ a b Clark CC; editors: Gordon RJ, Harris B, Helvie CO. "Encyclopedia of Complementary Health Practice." Springer Publishing Company, 1999. page 317. ISBN 9780826117229
  12. ^ a b Alexander J. "Clear away the stress." October 1999 Daily Telegraph
  13. ^ a b Kenton l. "Hanging Loose" Harpers and Queen Magazine, September 1980
  14. ^ a b c d e Luthe W; de Rivera L (editor, epilogue, introduction), Selye H. (foreword). "Wolfgang Luthe Introductory Workshop. Introduction to the Methods of Autogenic Training, Therapy and Psychotherapy" (Autogenic Training & Psychotherapy) (Volume 1) January 7, 2015
  15. ^ a b c British Autogenic Society. "About Luthe".
  16. ^ a b Jane Bird. "I Could Do with Some of That!: The Power of Autogenics." Publisher Jane Bird, 2015 ISBN 9781906796983 [3]
  17. ^ Hainsworth K. "Become Your Own Doctor." The Independent May 3rd 2004
  18. ^ Prakash O. (2012) "From Change to Transformation and Beyond: Maintaining Balance on the Fast Track of Life" pages 63–64 2012 ISBN 9781469746586[4]
  19. ^ Luthe, W; Schultz, JH. Autogenic Therapy. Vol. 1 Autogenic Methods Vol. 2 Medical Applications Vol. 3 Applications in Psychotherapy Vol. 4 Research and Theory Vol. 5 Dynamics of Autogenic Neutralisation Vol. 6 Treatment with Autogenic Neutralisation. Grune and Stratton, Inc., New York (1969); republished by The British Autogenic Society (2001).
  20. ^ a b Luthe, W. "About the methods of autogenic therapy." Ancoli S, Peper E, Quinn M (eds.). Mind/Body Integration: Essential Readings in Biofeedback Springer Science & Business Media, 2012 ISBN 9781461328988
  21. ^ "Autogenic Neutralisation". British Autogenic Society. 2013.
  22. ^ "de Rivera, L; editor Guimón J. "Autogenic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis." The body in Psychotherapy. Karger, Basilea, 1997. pp. 176-181".
  23. ^ de Rivera, L (2001). "Autogenic Analysis: The Tool that Freud was Looking for". International Journal of Psychotherapy. 6: 71–76.
  24. ^ "Creativity Mobilisation Technique". British Autogenic Society. 2013.