Text von Patrick Frottier

Auszug aus der englischen Übersetzung von Kraft der vier Tiere entdecken – Discovery the energy of the four animals

working with animal images

As a psychiatrist, specialized in forensic psychiatry and child-psychiatry and having worked with mentally disordered offenders and aggressive children for most of my career, I have experienced different approaches to understand and treat people, whose ability and motivation to change their behaviour is seriously limited or wanting.

Quite often the classical therapeutic approach is based on language which is asking, listening and responding. It is a talking cure. And more often than wished for, this approach is not successful, as talking in these cases is not the way of communication these people are used to. To react is not to talk but to do something, to hit, to run or to ignore, to fight, to flight or freeze.

What can we do if the talking cure is not possible anymore?
One option is working with images instead of words, working with your body instead of your thoughts, working with emotions instead of your intellect.

Since 2004 I have been trained to use images, emotions and the body as tools by Gertrud Schröder and Thomas Brendel, who are the two founders of Affect-Control-Training, to make the difficult task of changing aggressive behaviour happen. They taught me that body posture, inner values and emotions are cohering with each other. Changing the posture will change your emotions and on the long run your inner values. Body, soul and mind are an in- teracting unity, so that changing one of these three artificially se- parated units will include a change in the other units. So instead

of words we have a set of images that are associated to body pos- tures and to emotions. The images are furthermore symbolizing the basic needs, which have to be satisfied to enhance personal development and growth.

As images the founders of this special way of treating personality traits and behaviour choose four animal-images: the bear, the crane, the tiger and the snake.


The bear stands for my personal integrity: ‘who am I, where do I stay, what do I stay for?‘ The bear represents the need for the provision of inner and outer stability: the physiological needs as all the basic issues of survival and security. In the representation of the body it is visible in the stability of one’s body posture and in the representation of his mind it is observable in the way one is de- fending his opinions and values. The emotion of defending oneself is anger, as anger is felt whenever somebody is trespassing my li- mits. Expressing anger is therefore a way of restoring my personal limits. And it means resisting contempt as an unsuccessful und unfavourable way to re-establish the weakened self-value whene- ver it has been hurt.


The crane is a symbol for the intended movement, the first step in a direction: “where do I want to go, what is my goal, what do I want to achieve?” The crane represents the need for self-actuali- zation, the readiness to challenge oneself, to leave the safe ground and to explore the world. The representation in the body is the way we move and react, supple or stiff, fast or slow, light or cumberso- me. In the representation of the mind it is observable as the skill to observe attentively without being judgemental, to anticipate what is going to happen and to make plans to realize what you whish for. The emotions of exploring the world are surprise and fear: the willingness to be surprised expands the need to explore, fear limits this need. Fear signals possible danger. Whenever the danger is real, the fear is adequate and a way to protect myself has to be found. Whenever the fear is independent of any danger, the origin of the fear has to be explored. Otherwise every develop- ment is hampered through my fears.


The tiger is the symbol for effectiveness, action and goal-oriented behaviour: ‘what is my duty? and: what is to be done has to be done now‘? The tiger represents the need for self-actualization and for achievement. It is therefore connected to the need of self-esteem. Positive self-image and self-respect, recognition and respect from others are the issues of the tiger-imago. The representation of the body is visible in the physical fitness, strength and training-state of the person. The representation of the mind is observable in the discipline within the every day life, how structured a conflict is ma- naged, in the capacity of analysing a problem. Joy is the emotion of self-actualization and achievement, sorrow the emotion of loss and fail. To accept loss and defeat as necessity of life, to mourn for some time and to continue the work, that has to be done, with joy and courage, this is the tiger-mentality.


The snake is the symbol of integration and mutuality: “how am I connected to the world, how does the world reflect on me? How do I evolve from the ”I” to a “we” and “us”? What does it mean to love or to be loved?” The snake represents the need for “be- longingness”, for social acceptance, friendship, love and corporate identity. The representation of the body is visible in one’s agility and ductility. The representation of the mind is observable in the capacity to adapt oneself to various settings and situations, to in- tegrate adverse opinions or viewpoints, to accept ambiguity as a basic fact of life. The emotions of belongingness are interest and acceptance and in its strongest mark is love. To share your interest, to be interested in others, to be mutually committed in every as- pect of the world is the aim of the snake.

For more than 12 years I have been working in numerous and different settings with the concept of the four animal-images that has been created by Gertrud Schröder. It has been a highly successful approach to treating people, who are sometimes supposed to be untreatable. And it has been a continuous path of learning and personal growth for myself. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to become a part of the four-animals family.