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Four Decades of Sophrology and its Scientific Status

Indian Journal Social Science Researches
Vol. 6, No. 1, March, 2009, pp. 1-3
ISSN 0974-9837
The problem of neologism in the psychology is
neither new nor surprising, as it has been
observed from time to time in the existing
scientific as well as popular psychological
literature. Among a number of new terms that
have found a place in the field of psychology,
sophorology is one that probably does not
adequately satisfy the criteria required for its
inclusion in the field of scientific inquiry.
The introduction of the term sophorology can
be traced back to 1960s when a Spanish
neuropsychiatrist Dr. Alfonso Caycedo coined
it by synthesizing three Greek words SOS
(harmony, serenity), PHREN (consciousness)
and LOGOS (science, study) which literally
means science or study of the harmony of the
consciousness. Since then, it has occupied
sufficient space and attention on the internet
literature as a mean to address a wide variety of
problems including problems of stress,
i n so m n ia , e m o ti o n m a na g em e n t,
inte r p e rsonal relatio n s h ip e t c. S u ch
information are available on several web sites
including the following: y.
l o g i c .c o . u k / so p h r o l o gy . h t m l a n d
Despite its popularity on the internet
literature, it is less represented in the scientific
literature such as standard journals, textbooks
or reference books even after more than 40
years of its introduction. Moreover, the
literature available on the internet has also not
Four Decades of Sophrology and its Scientific Status
Rakesh Pandey
Department of psychology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
been authenticated by providing proper
references. Probably this may be a reason
behind the reluctance of the researchers to
include it in the mainstream literature. The
problem of scientific validation of this
construct becomes further complicated as
some researchers have included this term in
scientific literature based on less authenticated
definitions available on internet. For example,
Doung and Zulian, (2007) have cited a
definition of sophrology based on information
available at
Th e cite d defi niti on is qu oted h ere
“Sophrology is the science which studies the
human conscience, its modifications and the
means of varying it, with a therapeutic,
prophylactic, and teaching aim, to make it
possible to be in harmony with itself and its
environment” ( p. 141). Such attempt may
encourage the acceptance of the term with the
assumption that the term has some validity. In
fact this is reflected in the application of
sophrology as a technique to deal with a
variety of psychological problems. It has
become a recognized medical therapy in
Western Europe (Doung & Zulian, 2007) and
has been successfully used to decrease stress
among health professionals and anxiety in
patients (Cycedo, Carsi, & Van Rangelrooy,
Besides the issue of authentication, defining
the boundary of the construct of sophrology is
another problem. It has been defined as both a
science as well as a technique. As a science, it
refers to the systematic study of the various
states and levels of consciousness irrespective
of the mode or agent of its induction
(Godefroy, 2001). However, as a set of mind
controlling or regulating technique it is defined
as “a series of easy physical and mental
exercises, created specifically to provide a
holistic method to manage the speed and
st res s of mo der n lif e.” (Int ernational
s o p h r o l o g y F e d e r a t i o n :
/4204826.htm). The Body Logic Health web
site defines it as a technique based on
relaxation and concentration to help an
individual to become more aware of one's
body and mind and the way they both
f u n c t i o n . h t t p : / / w w w . b o d y - Similarly, as a
technique, Cycedo (1964) defined sophrology
as the combination of relaxation, yoga, and
meditation to increase health awareness and
harmonious living.
An overview of these definitions clearly
demonstrates that the term has been very
loosely defined and includes so many
techniques from both Eastern and Western
perspectives that it becomes difficult to define
the boundaries of this construct. This becomes
evident in such statements given in the
literature as “……sophrology is a science,
concerned not only with hypnosis, but with all
related phenomena- relaxation, yoga, Zen
meditation-in fact, all techniques aim to
induce changes in our ordinary states of
consciousness. So as you can see, sophrology
covers a much broader range of phenomenon
than hypnosis alone” (p.44).
To gain the status of a scientific construct, the
sophrology must have a clearly defined
boundary along with its goals, assumptions
and its own methodology. However, the
survey of scientific literature suggest that
without making such efforts researchers have
started evaluating its application for dealing
with various types of mental health problems.
For example, the search of the term sophrology
(in the title of various articles abstracted) on
PubMed yielded 82 published research papers
of which almost all dealt with the application
of sophrology for various types of medical and
psychosomatic ailments. Attempt to search
this term in various journals published by Sage
yielded 5 results (research articles) in which
the sophrology appeared in text but not in title.
The review of the content of these articles
(published by Sage) revealed that all the
authors have either used sophrology as a tool
of healing or therapy or have reviewed and
compared the therapeutic value of sophrology
with other techniques.
The preceding discussion, thus, brings to fore
the fact that despite the increasing popularity
of sophrology as a technique of healing various
types of psychological and health problems, it
has not captured the attention of researchers of
the mainstream psychology. Further, it is also
evident that without making any serious effort
to clearly define and develop the field itself,
researchers have made premature attempt to
apply it. Moreover, as the available literature
defines sophrology as an amalgam of several
Eastern and Western techniques; it is difficult
to evaluate which particular technique
brought the reported changes in the clients. Is it
the sophrology or the constituent techniques
such as relaxation, concentration, meditation
etc. that brought the change? Is it a new science
or a new label to the amalgam of the various
techniques collected from well-established
Indi a n yo g i c tr a d i t ion a n d W e s t ern
2 Pandey
psychological tradition? Such questions are
difficult to answer until the clear boundaries
and subject matter of the science of sophrology
are established.
The sophrology is here being used just as an
example to highlight the increasing trend of
neologism in the field of social science in
general and psychology in particular. Owing
our responsibility as researchers, rather than
being trapped into neologism we have to be
very careful while including such new terms in
the field of mainstream psychology. Such
watchfulness becomes necessary in the light of
the increasing trend of hiring or importing
psychological constructs from popular
literatu r e in cluding u n a u t h enticated
information from internet. Such literature
often presents constructs and facts that lack
adequate empirical support or database
backing. Introduction of new constructs, just to
make an impression of introducing something
new or merely to catch the attraction of the
re a d er s , w i t ho u t c a r in g ab o u t t he
contemporary standards of the construct
explication appears to be a dangerous trend in
the co ntemporary social s cience and
psychological literature. Such attempt will do
less good and more harm to the field of
psychology unless the researchers would care
for the scientific rigor for introducing new
constructs, techniques or theories. Further,
rather than being fascinated by the wide claims
made about such new constructs and going
into its mindless application, it is our prime
responsibility as social scientists to verify the
validity of such construct and their claims
before including them into the mainstream.
B o d y - L o g i c : h t t p : / / w w w . b o d y -
Caycedo, A. (1964). Sophrology and psychosomatic
medicine. Americal Journal of Clinical Hypnsis.
Caycedo, N., Carsi Costas, N., Van Rangelrooy K.
(2005). Sofrology. Rev Enferm.28, 30-38.
Doung, P. H., & Zulian, G. B. (2007). Disappearance of a
Stutter Shortly Before Death. American Journal of
Hospice & Palliative Medicine, 24, 141-143.
Godefroy, C. H. (2001). How to use and control your
unlimited potential. France: Mind Powers.
I I n t e r n a t i o n a l s o p h r o l o g y F e d e r a t i o n
The Scientific Status of Sophrology 3
... Sophrology comes from three Greek words: "SOS" meaning free of diseases, balance, harmony; "PHREN" meaning diaphragm, affective soul and by extension, mind, conscience and "LOGOS" meaning science, study, speech (9). ...
Full-text available
Background: Interventional radiology procedures in cancer patients cause stress and anxiety. Our objective was to relate our experience in the use of sophrology techniques during interventional radiology procedures and evaluate the effects on patient's pain and anxiety. Methods: We present a prospective observational study on 60 consecutive patients who underwent interventional radiology procedures in a context of oncologic management from September 2017 to March 2018. Forty-two patients were asked if they wished to benefit from the sophrology and hypnosis techniques during their procedure. A control group was also made including 18 patients. Anxiety level and pain were evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS) before and during procedures. Results: We observed a significant decrease in anxiety experienced by patients during interventional radiology procedures compared to before procedures in the sophrology group (P=3.318E-08), and a level of anxiety and pain during gestures inferior to that of the control group (P=2.035E-06 and 7.03E-05 respectively). Conclusions: Relaxing therapies, such as sophrology and hypnosis, seems to be an interesting additional tool for the management of patients in interventional oncology, inducing a decrease of stress, pain, and anxiety in patients.
... Clients are encouraged to practice sophrology techniques at home and include them in their daily activities. Evaluations of sophrology are limited, but the technique is shown to produce therapeutic benefit (Pandey, 2009). In the sophrology clinic, the therapeutic technique was provided by five qualified sophrologists (length of training 24 months). ...
Unlabelled: This study investigates three common factor mechanisms that could affect outcome in clinical practice: response expectancy, the affective expectation model and motivational concordance. Clients attending a gestalt therapy clinic (30 clients), a sophrology (therapeutic technique) clinic (33 clients) and a homeopathy clinic (31 clients) completed measures of expectancy and the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) before their first session. After 1 month, they completed PANAS and measures of intrinsic motivation, perceived effort and empowerment. Expectancy was not associated with better outcome and was no different between treatments. Although some of the 54 clients who endorsed highest expectations showed substantial improvement, others did not: 19 had no change or deteriorated in positive affect, and 18 had the same result for negative affect. Intrinsic motivation independently predicted changes in negative affect (β = -0.23). Intrinsic motivation (β = 0.24), effort (β = 0.23) and empowerment (β = 0.20) independently predicted positive affect change. Expectancy (β = -0.17) negatively affected changes in positive affect. Clients found gestalt and sophrology to be more intrinsically motivating, empowering and effortful compared with homeopathy. Greater improvement in mood was found for sophrology and gestalt than for homeopathy clients. These findings are inconsistent with response expectancy as a common factor mechanism in clinical practice. The results support motivational concordance (outcome influenced by the intrinsic enjoyment of the therapy) and the affective expectation model (high expectations can lead for some clients to worse outcome). When expectancy correlates with outcome in some other studies, this may be due to confound between expectancy and intrinsic enjoyment. Key practitioner message: Common factors play an important role in outcome. Intrinsic enjoyment of a therapeutic treatment is associated with better outcome. Active engagement with a therapeutic treatment improves outcome. Unrealistic expectations about a therapeutic treatment can have a negative impact on outcome.
The prevailing worldview in the West is dualist. For some, this reductionism is materialist: there is only what science can measure, and mental states (such as beliefs or emotions) are nothing but the manifestation of physical states in the brain. For others, mostly in the computer science domain, the essence of reality does not belong to the spectrum of the physical but to information. However, the dualist view is inconsistent with current scientific findings which highlight the intricate relationship between physical and emotional health. Particularly relevant examples of this are the importance of gut microbiome on mental health or the key role of the vagus nerve both in the regulation of the activity of internal organs and on the management of stress. There is a need to develop more sophisticated models of embodiment which can support better approaches to mental and physical health, as well improving decision-making. Some existing cultural models of the body, particularly in the East, could be a good starting point for these new conceptions. This paper presents this need for more elaborated understanding of embodiment and presents models that have emerged in other cultures and that can serve as a basis for this project.
A patient with a stutter caused by the trauma of the death of a loved one was able to recover normal speech 1 week before her death, which resulted from intestinal obstruction caused by ovarian cancer. The stutter appeared to have been overcome using a combination therapy of sophrology, self-regulation, and drug therapy. During a genuine resilience process, the patient was able to overcome an earlier existential fracture. In this final phase of life, health professionals and the family fully respected the patient's independence to remain in control of events. She repeatedly refused to have a nasogastric tube inserted to extract fecal matter from the stomach. This patient consequently repossessed her own language of expression in a body that was shattered by cancerous illness and the consequences of treatments. She thus managed to find a successful balance between the body, the spirit, and the brain.
  • N Caycedo
  • N Carsi Costas
  • K Van Rangelrooy
Caycedo, N., Carsi Costas, N., Van Rangelrooy K. (2005). Sofrology. Rev Enferm.28, 30-38.
How to use and control your unlimited potential. France: Mind Powers
  • C H Godefroy
Godefroy, C. H. (2001). How to use and control your unlimited potential. France: Mind Powers. o n 826.htm PubMed: Wikipedia: The Scientific Status of Sophrology 3