Paul Bindrim popularised nude psychotherapy in the 60s and 70s. Ian Nicholson explains further*
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Bindrim was a licensed psychologist with academic qualifications from Columbia and Duke University and he was careful to package his therapeutic innovations in the language of scientific advancement. He had spent most of his career on the edge of professional respectability and he was thus not especially troubled by the idea of being at odds with mainstream psychology.
Bindrim was convinced that the “natural state” of humanity had been lost and that disrobing would reestablish a healthy connection with one’s body and the true self. Where possible, the sessions were held at sites that contained just the right blend of modernist comfort and mystical possibility. Bindrim sought out locations that combined “abundant trees and wildlife” with the conveniences of a “high class resort hotel”
modernist comfort found here
Drawing on his experience as an encounter group leader, he carefully structured the sessions and alternated the pace. The sessions usually consisted of 15–25 participants who paid $100 per person for the weekend or $45 for a 24-hour marathon. Participants were invited to “eyeball” each other (stare into each other’s eyes at close range) and then to respond in some physical way (hugging, wrestling, etc.)
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Bodies were exposed and scrutinized with a science-like rigor. Particular attention was paid to revealing the most private areas of the body and mind—all with a view to freeing the self from socially imposed constraints. “This,” Bindrim asserted gesturing to a participant’s genitalia and anus, “is where it’s at.
Determined to squelch the “exaggerated sense of guilt” in the body, Bindrim devised an exercise called “crotch eyeballing” in which participants were instructed to look at each others genitals and disclose the sexual experiences they felt most guilty about while lying naked in a circle with their legs in the air. In this position, Bindrim insisted “you soon realize that the head end and the tail end are indispensable parts of the same person, and that one end is about as good as the other”
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Although Bindrim worked hard to package his therapy as a legitimate science, reporters approached the topic with a combination of prurient fascination and skepticism. Information about the size, duration, and gender composition of the marathon was reported in detail as was the policy on sexual activity. At the same time, many reporters had difficulty taking the issue seriously. Bill Sluis, a reporter for the SantaBarbara News, concluded his story on nude therapy by asking facetiously whether Bindrim might have discovered the way to end the Vietnam War. “How about getting Ho Chi Minh and LBJ together?” Sluis asked. “I’d love to,” Bindrim said. “I would love to have them experience each other in a nude therapy session.”
LBJ found here
Sensing a trend, and undoubtedly anticipating a spike in newsstand sales, Psychology Today put nude therapy on its front page using a racy picture of a naked woman with large breasts and the caption “The Quest for the Authentic Self.” Feasting on a steady diet of zealous enthusiasm, Bindrim became increasingly enamored with his own therapeutic skill. “Frigid females, impotent males and sexual exhibitionists have become, at least temporarily symptom free. Arthritics have been relieved of pain. Long standing bachelors who could not commit themselves emotionally have married” he said.
image found here (NSFW)
Nude psychotherapy’s claim to professional legitimacy was damaged by a gradual shift in public attitudes in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although his work had once been greeted with enthusiastic endorsements and outraged denunciations, there was now silence. With no fresh ideas, and with therapeutic nudism now constructed as an “unethical” sexual act, Bindrim was soon forgotten by a field that he had formerly enthralled.
* this is an excerpt from a scholarly look at nude psychotherapy. I admit to having extracted the most salacious bits for their comedic value