Rebirthing (breathwork)

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Rebirthing-breathwork is a type of breathwork invented by Leonard Orr.[1] Rebirthing's practitioners claim that the technique can heal suppressed emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, etc. Orr proposed that correct breathing can cure disease and relieve pain.[1]

Orr devised rebirthing therapy in the 1970s after supposedly re-experiencing his own birth while in the bath.

Rebirthing (breathwork) has sometimes been confused with a technique used by some psychotherapists that is also called rebirthing, in which clients are restrained with blankets and sheets and held down. Orr's form of rebirthing, however, consists solely of breathing in what is called a circular manner (i.e., there is no pause between the exhale and the inhale and the inhale and the exhale). The theory is that this allows for suppressed emotions to become "activated." The rebirthee then has the opportunity to become aware of the suppressed emotions and to permanently and completely let them go (this is called "integration"). Hence, rebirthers claim a rebirthee may experience a major healing in the space of approximately one hour.[2][3]

Rebirthing-breathwork is one of the practices critiqued by anti-cult experts Margaret Singer and Janja Lalich in the book Crazy Therapies: What Are They? Do They Work?.[1] Singer and Lalich write that proponents of such "bizarre" practices are proud of their non-scientific approach, and that this finds favor with an irrational clientele.[1] In 2006, a panel that consisted of over one hundred experts participated in a survey of psychological treatments considered rebirthing therapy to be discredited.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Carroll RT (2011), "Psychotherapies, New Age", The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions (John Wiley & Sons): 317, ISBN 978-1-118-04563-3 
  2. ^ Radford B (2000). "New Age 'Rebirthing' Treatment Kills Girl". Skeptical Inquirer 24 (5): 6. 
  3. ^ Turner S (30 May 1988). "Echoes of the age of Aquarius; Festival of Mind-Body-Spirit". The Times. 
  4. ^ Norcross, J.C., Koocher, G.P., & Garofolo, A. (2006). Discredited Psychological Treatments and Tests: A Delphi Poll. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 37: 515-522.

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