The Physical Self

Core WoundingThe training will introduce the theoretical framework of Wilhelm Reich who created a model of character structures built into the body based upon blocks, i.e. chronic, unconsciously held contractions which defend against awareness of painful feelings. All blocks result from trauma – the developing child has their needs frustrated and thwarted by parents and learns to restrict and deny the strong feelings which are evoked. Reich suggested five basic character structures, each one of which is represented with its own body type developed as a specific defence to the strong feelings being denied. We will study each of these five basic character structures:

The schizoid structure is created by not feeling wanted by unavailable or hostile parents, even in the womb. There is a fragmentation of both body and mind with this structure.

The oral structure which is created from deprivation of warmth and milk from the mother. The core attitude is “you do it for me, because you didn’t nurture me when I was young.” Shoulders are usually hunched, head bent forward, wrists and ankles weak, as if to say, “I can’t get it for myself.”

The psychopath is created by the child feeling manipulated, emotionally interfered with and/or being seduced by a parent into feeling “special,” based upon the parent’s own narcissistic needs. The child decides never again to allow themselves to be vulnerable and rather manipulates and overpowers others. The upper body is well developed whereas the lower body is weak as the psychopath pulls away from the ground and attempts to overpower from above.

The masochist structure is created when the parent refuses to allow the child to say “no,” the first step in setting boundaries. The child seeks relief from the rage that builds up underneath bounded muscle and fat, by provoking punishment from others.

The rigid is created when the child’s sexuality is not affirmed by the parent, but instead shamed or denied. The body type seeks to prove to the parents and others that the child is worthy of love. The rigid structure is often beautifully harmonious, but there is a physical split around the diaphragm between heart and pelvis: love and sex. This person has trouble with being aware of their emotions, which are strong, yet buried.

We will also study the theoretical models developed from Reich’s work by Alexander Lowen (the founder of Bioenergetics); David Bodella (founder of Biosynthesis) and Moumina Jeffs and Agni Thalgott (specialists in Body Types and Body Reading Training). Whereas in Reich and Lowen each body type is essentially a pathology hiding the unresolved pain and hurt, in the work of Moumina and Agni each body type reveals a particular quality and hidden treasure concealed behind the defence.

Practical Exploration

The training will invite participants to focus on accessing body memory (deep cellular memory) which is holding onto painful memory and trauma. This will be done through paying attention to breath, exploring tension and actual pain in the physical body, movement, psycho-drama and dynamic meditation. Just as we all utilise a number of psychological defences; eg denial, rationalisation, projection, splitting etc, we also construct many layers of body armouring to defend against future threat based upon actual and imagined past trauma. An individual’s body language can be more revealing than their words. The tone of voice, the way people move and the tensions and holding patterns in the body form a kind of body armour which we create to protect ourselves, not only from the blows (imagined and real) of the outside world, but also from our own desires and instincts.