Dr Wolfgang Luthe (1922-1985) was born in Lubeck, attending Kiel and Hamburg universities to qualify in medicine in 1947. As a junior doctor he met Schultz (as well as Brodmann and Hess). He told London AT students in 1982:
‘I was a sceptic – how could closing eyes and relaxing do anything significant for the asthma patients in my care? But Schultz visited the ward, invited by the chest physician consultant who was my boss, and I too joined in with the ‘heavy arms’. The results were astonishing. After only a few weeks, many patients reduced their medication. I saw firsthand how Autogenic Training reduced anxiety so effectively that damaged respiration could recover. I was a convert!’
After Luthe’s death John Stoyva wrote:
‘Although Luthe had received a long exposure to psychoanalytic therapy, he was much more favourably impressed by the psychophysiological treatment approach embodied in the Autogenic Training of J H Schultz. … he began a programme of active research and writing that was to grow into a lifetime of commitment.’ From ‘Wolfgang Luthe: In Memoriam by Johann Stoyva, Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986. Read more.
Luthe emigrated to Montreal, Canada in the late 1940s, with his young family (we understand he sought to live in a neutral country, unlikely to engage in war), becoming Assistant Professor at the University of Montreal in 1951. He described himself (1982) as ‘active in experimental physiology, psychology, internal medicine, psychiatry, psychophysiology’.
Qualifications and Positions held:
1947 MD Hamburg University
1951 – 1958 Assistant Professor, Université Montréal
1959 Gained LMCC, Ottawa (Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada) in Psychosomatic Medicine
1969 Scientific Director of the Oskar Vogt Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Kyushu University, Japan
1977 Visiting Professor Psychophysiologic Therapy, International Institute of Stress, Montreal.
Luthe found himself at first in conflict with Dr Hans Selye, who as founder of the International Institute for Stress (see above), was pioneering research on the links between stress and illness. Selye, in time, fully appreciated the significance of Luthe’s work, and welcomed the teaching of AT to physicians at Selye’s establishment.
Luthe’s major contribution to Autogenic Training was the development of the Intentional Off-loading Exercises, now an integral part of the British way of teaching AT. His premise was simply that our social conditioning interferes with what the body and mind do naturally when in distress. Through using these off-loading exercises, it is possible to enhance the autogenic process by using body and mind awareness to acknowledge and accept, and then to manage emotional release safely and constructively.
Luthe pioneered AT in Japan as well as the UK. He developed the use of AT in education, sport and aviation. He has been author, co-author or editor of nine books on AT (Read more).
He set up the International Committee for the Co-ordination of Clinical Application of Autogenic Therapy (ICAT); and the International Committee for the Co-ordination of Teaching the Creative Mobilization Technique (IC:CMT).
It was with Luthe’s blessing that the British Association for Autogenic Training and Therapy (now the British Autogenic Society) was founded in 1984.