Pethő Sándor

PETHÖ SÁNDOR (1916 – 1992)

Sándor was born in 1916 in Gyertyamos, which was part of Hungary at the time and is currently part of Yugoslavia. He was raised in Also Gad, a city of intense intellectual ferment and multiple cultural events. It was probably from this vibrant environment that an interest in the Arts and music arose. He studied lyric singing and at one point thought of becoming an opera tenor. However, he followed his call and graduated from medical school at the University of Budapest “Paz Many Peter” in 1943, specialising in gynaecology and obstetrics.

The beginning of WWII brought a sequence of painful events that disrupted his hitherto tranquil life. The advance of Russians troops forced the family to leave Hungary in search of safety in April 1945.

During that period, Sándor worked for the Red Cross in refugee camps. There, Sándor began to experiment with gentle touch and slow manipulations to the distal parts (i.e., feet, hands, head) of the patient’s body, to help alleviate pain, stress and suffering. It was in this caring and intuitive manner that he created the sequence of touches known as Calatonia.

After the war, before migrating to Brazil, Sándor worked in German hospitals for three years. This time, he used Calatonia to treat poly-traumatised patients at the neuropsychiatric wards. He treated post-war trauma, depression, suicidal ideation, catatonic states, phantom limb pain, among many other issues.

In Brazil (since 1949), he worked as a distinguished Jungian psychotherapist, and became a leading professional within the community of psychologists due to the depth and scope of his integrative method.

He valued his privacy and was averse to any form of adulation of his personality. His lifestyle was extremely simple, quiet and devoid of any ostentation. Despite (or perhaps because of) this simplicity, his life story inspired admiration and respect in all those who met him.

Sándor usually spent every other weekend and six weeks of the summer at his ranch, in Pocinhos do Rio Verde, state of Minas Gerais. There, he divided his time between translating unpublished Jungian and depth psychology texts for his study groups, and tending to the land, in contact with nature.

A deeply spiritual man, in the beginning of 1991, Sándor announced to his groups of students that he would have “an opportunity to transition” (i.e., to pass away) within a year. Always healthy, bright, with a witty sense of humour and disposition, Sándor died naturally in his sleep at his ranch in January 1992, exactly within the year he predicted.