SÁNDOR PETHÖ: His story and legacy

Summary by Maria Elci Spaccaquerche

1 – Hungary and the World War II

Pethö Sándor was born in Southern Hungary, region of current Yugoslavia, on April 28th,1916. His family consisted of 5 people: Sándor, his 2 brothers, his mother Sarolta and his father Tibor, a judge. He had a refined education and taste for the arts, specially music, which led him to study lyrical singing. He graduated as a medical doctor from Budapest Medical School in 1943, specializing in Gynecology and Obstetrics.
Still as a student, he married Marieta Marton, with whom he had two children: one in 1943 and the other in 1944. In April 1945, Sándor and his family were forced to leave Hungary. During the train journey, Sándor landed in one of the stops in search of water for the others, who remained aboard. During this brief period of time, the train was mistaken by American troops for a military train and was intensely fired. Sándor was the only doctor present and promptly started to attend to the countless injured; his parents were amongst them and passed away.
In the following winter his 26-year-old wife Marieta died due to respiratory complications. That was how, in less than a year, Sándor lost his home, his country, his parents and his wife, left with two almost baby children, aged 2 and 3, to take care of.
Already in Germany, Sándor worked in the refugee camp as a Red Cross doctor. At the time, he started to become interested in and study subjects such as astrology, esotericism and depth psychology. He met then the couple Irene and Jozseph Buydoso, who became close to Sándor and his children. Together they came to Brazil.

2 – São Paulo- Brazil

Sándor arrived in Brazil on June 14th, 1949 and worked then as a laboratorist. Sándor was always grateful for the responsiveness he received in São Paulo, and tells that one of his favorite hobbies was to go to the street market and admire the abundance of Brazilian fruits and vegetables.
Shortly after their arrival in Brazil, his friend Jozseph died. In 1955 Sándor married Irene, taking responsibility for fatherly care of his friend’s family – which he did even after Irene’s death in 1966.
In 1985 Sándor married Maria Luiza Simões, also a psychologist and collaborator. He used to spend the weekends in his ranch at Pocinhos do Rio Verde, where he said he recharged through the contact with nature. It was in this ranch that on January 28th, 1992 he passed away in his sleep.

3 – The history of Calatonia

At the time of World War II Sándor worked attending to the wounded and refugees in displacement through Europe.
Even though his specialty was in Gynecology/Obstetrics, he was assigned to the care of poly-traumatized patients.
It was practically impossible, facing these people, to establish a limit between the physical trauma and the psychological suffering that affected them. It was in these rather dramatic work conditions that he tried to use what he had previously experimented: The Calatonia, to not only relieve the physical pain of the injured but also to help them towards a physio-psychic harmonization.
Calatonia is an expression that “indicates a relaxed, loose tonus, but not only from a static and muscular point of view”. Its actions go beyond the muscular level, promoting also “psycho-physiological reorganizations” on several grades.

4 – Sándor: Therapist, Professor, Master

Shortly after his arrival in Brazil, Professor Sándor brought together study groups with people interested in his culture and in C. G. Jung’s studies in Analytical Psychology, besides bodily approaches such as the ones of Lowen, Reich, Michaux, Jacobson, Schultz. In his psychotherapeutic work, at his practice, he included bodily works, structuring Calatonia.
In the late sixties, the Psychological Society of São Paulo held the first Relaxation course open to public, whose content was published in the Psychology Bulletin in 1969 and then turned into book in 1974 with the title “Relaxation Techniques” (PETHO SANDOR, et al), edited to this day by Editora Vetor/Vector Publishing.
From the seventies to the eighties, Prof. Sandor organized and taught many courses at the School of Psychology at Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo. According to Motta (2005), the time Professor Sándor spent at PUC–São Paulo influenced the constitution of what can be considered one of the main centers of Jungian training in Brazilian universities.
In 1982, Sándor opened the specialization course “Jungian-oriented Psychotherapy Associated with Body Techniques” at the Sedes Sapientiae Institute of São Paulo, which he led until 1991. This course exists until today with the name “Jung and the Body”. In parallel, he inaugurated a specific course about his approach called “Psychological Cinesiology” (currently entitled “Calatonia and the Physiopsychic Integration). From the works of the courses’ students, he arranged the “End of the Year meetings” in his own Institute, when the students would report the results of their own practices and researches.
Sándor also carried on study groups at his own practice, preparing and translating texts, besides groups for Full Moon meditation meetings, when he provided texts written by him.
After his death in 1992, many of his students maintained his courses and study groups to keep exchanging Professor Sándor’s ideas and lessons, in addition to setting up new groups and thus spreading such knowledge.


- Calatonia website : – Review made by Rosa Maira Farah

- Jung e Corpo – Estudos de Calatonia e praticas integrativas – org. by Maria Elci Spaccaquerche - ed. Vetor – SP -2012 (Jung and the Body – Calatonia Studies and Integrative Practices)

- Calatonia e Integracao Fisiopsiquica – by Fernando Cortese Ed. Escuta – SP – 2007 (Calatonia and the Physiopsychic Integration)

- Psicologia analítica no Brasil: contribuições para a historia -by A.A. Motta ( tese de Mestrado – PUC-SP ) 2005 (Analytical Psychology in Brazil: Contributions to History – master’s thesis)

- Técnica de Relaxamento – Sandor et. Al. Ed. Vetor 1982 (Relaxation Technique)