Author Topic: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton  (Read 911 times)


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #30 on: April 15, 2015, 07:41:51 am »
In adults, the crisis position tends to sexualise every issue because it is tied to a developmentphase which is itself sexual. The process is often unconscious, but it can be very obvious toother people as a sort of continual seductiveness in the person's behaviour and body language,or conversely as an 'uprightness', an extraordinary heightened sensitivity to sexualimplications which makes one scared of offending them with quite innocent remarks. Bothattitudes can even appear in the same person at the same time.It's clear that these are attitudes traditionally validated in women, either separately or incombination: the virgin and the vamp. They mask panic, and represent an inability tosurrender to deep sexual feelings for fear of being overwhelmed and losing control (whichmay literally have happened in childhood abuse). At the same time, there is a strong
forsexual contact, so there is often a teasing, flirting tone, not necessarily conscious - anexaggeration of healthy playfulness, 'sexiness', foreplay, dressing up, dancing. all sorts of creative and enjoyable behaviour which is 'sexy but not sex'. What's missing is relaxation andcommitment: the opening block sets up a constant yes/no/yes/no pattern, again traditionallyseen as 'feminine'.But men are as likely as women to occupy the crisis position - perhaps more often in apseudo-thrusting form. The yearning version will thus be an ersatz macho posturing. allleather and heavy metal, while the denying form might be hysterical puritanism. The onlysocially viable way for men to express the full crisis character is in the gay subculture.What makes the crisis position recognisable is its air of panic, of high charge. Everything islife or death. There is often either a theatrical exaggeration to the person's style, or a deathlystillness which is equally theatrical. The body type that develops with a strong crisis positionis less clearly defined than in some other cases, but in one way or another it tends to give astrongly sexual impression, which may be attractive or repulsive - or both - to other people.Crisis characters often stir people up, this being their unconscious intention as a way of sharing the panic around, camouflaging their own terror and excitement.We can think of the energy in a crisis character slopping around the body looking for someother lodging apart from the genitals; any other form of excitement is preferable, safer. So thecrisis character mimics all the other character positions - which can be very confusing fortherapists! In particular, someone deeply involved in the crisis position often comes over atfirst as a vulnerable 'schizy', boundary character. In fact crisis characters are quite tough,though they may not feel it There is a special relationship between these two extremes of thecharacter range, of head and tail, and energy can swing powerfully between them.The underlying strength and resilience often gives people the idea that a crisis character is'pretending', could 'pull themselves together if they just made an effort'. In a sense they arepretending, but the pretence is an
reaction to deep panic. The panic is completelyrational in origin: dangerous and scary things
happen. Freud worked with extreme crisischaracters who experienced 'hysterical paralysis' with no physical causation: a pretence in onesense, but outside any willed control or awareness. Often, though, the game-playing is bothconscious and unconscious: panic and anxiety fog the ability to look coolly at what one isreally doing. It can be amazing how a crisis character in a state of chaos can 'snap out of it'when asked.Yet crisis characters can play games for very high stakes. Living permanently on their nervesand by their wits, out on the edge, they develop a strange sort of coolness. Like combat


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #31 on: April 15, 2015, 07:43:24 am »
veterans, someone constantly in the crisis position learns to live with terror. It is likely thatalmost everyone who works in a directly life-threatening occupation is either a thruster,testing and proving themselves, or a crisis character fuelled by their own panic.It is when we are occupying the crisis position that we tend to create
expressions of ourconflicts: the well-known 'hysterical symptoms' which mimic physical illness to act out anemotional state. Yet is there a real distinction? More and more we see all physical illnesses asthe expression of a conflict, a life crisis which is potentially healing. Perhaps crisis characters,with their penchant for melodrama and stageyness, are simply the ones who get caught at it -accidentally-on-purpose!There are many attractive and creative features in the crisis character. Perhaps the mostobvious is their sexiness, but more generally there is their fun and excitement, the livelyenergy and 'game-for-anything' attitude, together with the subtle and perceptive understandingof roles and rules (the better to break them). These qualities contribute a great deal of spice tolife.Perhaps the greatest contribution of the crisis attitude in us all is its
refusal of patriarchy
, andof the gender roles forced on us. Crisis characters may find some weird and exotic modes of rebellion, but rebel they do! At root, what they are demanding is very simple: the right tochoose. To choose what sort of sexual contact they have; to choose to be playful andchildlike, not always urgent and direct; above all, to choose not to be abused.
 Exercise 20
 This is the hardest position to act out, but try the following: A stands still, breathing into their  pelvis with the emphasis on breathing out, while B alternates between trying to attract them -'Come here', 'I want you', 'Aren't you sweet' etc. - and rejecting them once they respond: 'No,no', 'Not like that', 'Come on, that's enough'. A, try to let your whole body really respond toeach message; B, let yourself be fully seductive, and then switch into complete coldness. After a while, make contact with each other before you switch roles.
Open PositionNo permanent blocks: issue of
 If, as a child or as an adult, a person can work through their panic about opening up to contactas well as all the other issues of growing up that we have described, then they may be able toexperience semi-permanently what most of us only touch at our best moments: a trueacceptance of reality and pleasure, a surrender to their own nature and to that larger Nature of which we are part.This is what Reich described as 'genitality' or 'orgastic potency', and it is hard to separate fromthe capacity for surrender to full orgasm, which in turn enables us to let go of the frustrationsand pains of daily existence and refresh ourselves in the sea of infinite joy.'Genitality', though, involves a lot more than lovemaking. It is one of many names that peoplehave given to a human condition which is, so far, quite rare: a sober, easy, relaxed andflexible attitude to life, an approach that doesn't struggle with impossibilities, but joyfullyaccepts the real state of affairs - including that person's own quirks and limitations! We call it'enlightenment', 'self-realisation', 'sainthood' - whatever we call it, it's remarkably hard to talk about, especially for people who experience it only occasionally


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #32 on: April 15, 2015, 07:44:40 am »
Perhaps the most important thing about this open state is that it
be pinned down; itsessence is to be mobile, responsive to a moving reality. Thus an 'open character' is notpermanently without blocks: armouring appears in reaction to events and disappears again asthe individual breathes, lets go, cries or laughs or yells or yawns, struggles or accepts - andmoves on.While we are in the open position - and all of us experience it from time to time - we haveaccess to the full range of powers and capacities appropriate to each character positiondescribed above. We manifest these qualities creatively; we can see, think, feed, enjoy, relate,hold on, take our time, assert, reach out and open up, because we are secure in our right toexist to be received, to be validated, to value ourselves, thrust ourselves forward, and choosethe contact we have with others. We have the right to be fully human.There is a special relationship, as we have said, between the open character position and theheart. It is the heart which must be open, and which fills with the sweet richness of love. Theopen heart represents that wholeness and unity of the bodymind to which we have referred;which is one way of saying what so many mystical and initiating traditions have alwaystaught - that the heart is the key to liberation.
 Perhaps all the dragons of our life are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautifuland brave.
 Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
 He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself.
 You may have found the last chapter both too complicated and too simplistic, and it issimplified in the sense that 'nobody is really like that' - it's not possible to reduce a real personto the cardboard categories of the character positions. We can recognise strong elements of anindividual's nature, but there is always a 'yes, but', some other strand or tendency whichmakes the picture richer and more complex.In this chapter we want to show how we can flesh out the bones, and use the concepts of character to generate something more like real human beings. Looked at another way, itmeans that we can use these concepts to understand real human beings. First, though, to helpwith the complex" of the material and the ramification of confusing detail, here is a summaryof the character positions described so far, together with a selection of keywords for eachposition.
A Summary of the Character PositionsBOUNDARY POSITION
 (womb, birth and first weeks)Eye segment block. Theme of existence: the right to be.
: fragility - invasion - unreality
: Perceptive - inspired - psychic
: Distant ... Blank ... Deep ... Vulnerable ... Foggy ... In pieces ... Cold ... Crazy ...Scary ... Weird ... Bizarre ... Paranoid ... Keep off!.
 (feeding, weaning, siblings)Jaw block. Theme of need: the right to be fed and supported.
: Unfair world - misunderstood -.hungry - empty
: Appetite for life - nurturing - eloquent
: Needy ... Exhausting Draining ... Love-starved ... Manipulative ... Persuasive ...Biting ... Sharp-tongued ... Greedy ... Ungrounded ... Sulky ... Arrogant ... Clever ... Tired ...Won't ... Black ...
 (independent play, beginnings of autonomy)Heart block. Theme of validation: the right to have my experience acknowledged.
: No one else is real - need to dominate, to get my way, or else to hide
: Big hearted - leadership - looking after
: Dominant ... Overwhelming ... Seductive ... Bossy ... Charismatic ... Top Dog ...How To Win Friends and Influence People ... Puffed-up ... Insincere ... Impressive ... HardSell ... Cut-off ... Politico ... Hail-Fellow-Well-Met ... Unreal ...
 (toilet training, force feeding, timetabling)Anal block, buttocks, thighs, shoulders. Theme of control: the right to value myself, to takemy time.
: Self-disgust - repression - suffering
: Grounded - patient - determined - compassionate
: Long-suffering ... Painful ... Tortured ... Enduring ... Held-in ... Stuck ... Bursting... Sturdy ... Guilty ... Full of **** ... Arselicking ... Greasy ... Oily ... Sticky ... Repulsive ...Bully, petty tyrant ... Obsessive ... Repetitive ... Maddening ...
 ('wilfulness', clash with authority)Pelvic block against softness. Theme of assertion: the right to take up space, be noticed.
: Competition - revenge - mustn't collapseCreative: Initiative - courage - physicality
: Pushy ... Proud ... Competitive ... Abrasive ... Macho ... Rigid ... Effective ...Overpowering ... Athletic ... Upright ... Golden girl/boy ... Egotistical ... Keeping their acttogether ... Driving ... Driven ... Exhibitionist ...
 (confrontation with gender roles and sexuality)Pelvic block against surrender. Theme of contact: the right to choose, right to play.
: Sexual panic - yes/no - confusion - melodrama
: Playful - graceful - complex - excitingKeywords: Jumpy ... Over-the-top ... Dramatic ... Exciting ... Sexual.. Flirty ... Stirring ...Attractive ... Frustrating ... Confusing ... Evasive/Elusive ... Frozen ... Scared ... Boundary(often first impression) ...
 (resolving of anxiety around surrender)No permanent blocks: armouring forms and melts according to circumstances. Theme of
64surrender: the right to pleasure and creativity.Reality - spontaneity - naturalness - acceptance of what isOur idea in using these keywords is not that each one applies to every person manifesting thatcharacter position. We are aiming more at a 'splatter effect', since we find in practice that if we want to use
terms from one section about a given individual (or other equivalentwords), then that person will be strongly involved with the corresponding character position.So, for example, if I find myself thinking how
a new client is, then Iwill realise that they have a strong
component in their makeup. If I find myself seeing them as
, then I am tuning in to their
material. Or if I experience them as
I am meeting a different sort of oralcharacter; and so on.Clearly, some of the keywords in each section point in very different directions, or evencontradict each other. A given character position can express itself in very different ways: forexample, as either a 'yearning' or a 'denying' attitude. Similarly, one keyword on its ownmight fit with several different character positions; for example, above we have used 'proud'for a thrusting character and 'arrogant' for an oral character. It is the appropriateness of
 keywords from one section that gives us useful information.You will perhaps have noticed that many, though not all, of the keywords have negativeconnotations. As we will explain at more length in Chapter 8, it is often through our negativereactions to clients that we can learn most about their character. But it is important to stressthat no judgement is intended. These are the emotional reactions that the unhealthy aspects of character structure tend to bring up, particularly in the intense atmosphere of the therapysession but also in everyday interactions. They are not, however, assessments of a person'sworth.As well as being differentiated through the yearning or denying attitude involved, eachcharacter position is very much affected by what is going on in the rest of the person besidesthe segment directly concerned. In this context a human being is rather like a hologram, whereeach part both reflects the whole and is reflected in the whole.Let's take as an example the holding character position. As we have seen, this position derivesfrom blocking in the pelvis, especially the anus, buttocks and thighs; this blocking becomes ageneral attitude of holding on, influencing the overall shape of the body (wide and heavy),and creating a tendency to some specific physical traits like heavy shoulders, short neck,sunken eyes and so on. Together with this goes the overall issue of self-disgust and self-control, letting go and holding on.This overall holding position may be combined with blocking in any of the other segments,both those at 'top and tail' - which we have seen as defining the character positions - and in theother 'central' segments - neck, heart, waist and belly. So the basic themes and attitudes willtake on different forms and express themselves through different issues, like a beam of lightshone through different coloured filters.A helpful way of looking at this with the holding position is that in each segment there will beeither an attempt to
hold on
(denying version) or an attempt to
let go
(yearning version),manifested through the physical and emotional repertoire
of that segment
65Thus a holding character with an eye block will either be trying to let go through the eyes andmind, or trying to hold on through the eyes and mind. The issue of boundaries, fragmentationand containment will be there, but as a way of approaching these issues of holding on andletting go. Holding on with the eye segment, then, might result in the development of complexintellectual systems, even obsessions; elaborate, essentially pointless thought processes whichare really a sort of 'mental constipation', never reaching the point. A yearning version,concerned with letting go, might either be mentally 'messy' and chaotic, or else applying thesame sort of systematic order to meditation techniques.A holding character with an oral block tends to show the anal material through the mouth,either as a denying style of tight lips, pinched nostrils and general disgust, as if other peopleleave a bad taste or smell, or as a yearning version which uses the mouth to spread shitaround, a sticky, greasy, oily, 'arselicking' character disguising an underlying spiteful malice.The same principle applies to any combination of blocks with any basic character. A thrustingcharacter with a neck block will be 'stiff-necked', rigid, refusing to bow down to anyone - andas a result refusing any softness and givingness, 'holier-than-thou'. An oral character with aneye block will have issues about being 'fed' through their eyes, and will display either a 'Teachme O Master' passivity (yearning version) or a stubborn refusal to be shown, taught or met(denying version).Thus we can build up the uniqueness of an individual character structure through thecombination of different blocks in the bodymind, and read the 'story' which that combinationtells. It would be pointless, and endless, to try to list every possible combination - likeillustrating every possible fingerprint - but the table summarises the meetings of pairs of different character positions, each of which will in practice be influenced by various degreesand kinds of blocking in all the


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #33 on: April 15, 2015, 07:45:28 am »
It may seem impossible for any real use to be made of this great mass of material - as soon asit stops being simplistic, it becomes unmanageable! In practice, though, we get immense helpfrom the system of character analysis; not so much on the level of intellectual understandingas through a developing capacity to recognise character attitudes on a gut level. Much of whatwe are saying about character is embedded in the folk wisdom of our language itself, with allits body-imagery: 'stiff-necked', 'gut feeling', 'arselicker', 'pushy', 'cold-hearted'. All theseterms are direct pointers to the essence of someone's character structure.Now we turn towards what we can call the 'bridge' character positions which seem to turn upso frequently. These manifest when a person seems to exist mainly between two adjacentcharacter positions: between holding and crisis, for example, or between boundary and oral;either oscillating between the two according to circumstances, or else firmly straddling thedivide and combining elements of each into a personal synthesis.
Boundary/Oral Bridge
 This is the common intellectual character position: trying to make words and ideas into a self-sufficient reality; using them as nourishment as protection, as contact as erotic play, as asubstitute for the life of the
self-contained within the
. There is often an importantseat of tension at the physical junction between the two segments, the soft palate and theinternal cavity of the head; there can be a sense of a 'watcher' inside the head, unable to let gointo the sensuous life of the body through fear of being overwhelmed. Conversely, a valuablequality of this intellectual position is its resistance to being overwhelmed by feeling, and bypressure of other people.
Oral/Control Bridge
 Someone in this position is going to find it impossible to express any needs they may have.They may end up indirectly acting out their needs by taking care of other people - treatingthem as small and weak, whether they are or not, because that is how they feel themselvesinside. But there will be a bossy, 'for-your-own-good' quality to the supposed caring whichwill generally alienate its recipients. Some social workers, politicians and therapists are actingfrom this part of themselves.
Control/Holding Bridge
 Here the jammed-up, stuck, inflated side of each of these positions is emphasised, and theindividual may have a very off-putting 'constipated' quality to them. Rather than controllingthemselves in the holding style, they may try to control
other people
, expressing punitive,moralistic and repressive attitudes. Here we find the classic bureaucrat who secretly lovessitting on everyone else's freedom and initiative. But also, instead of letting go themselves,they may try to force other people to let go, in a style of repressive liberalism or radicalism.'PC' behaviour can be used as a channel for this sort of attitude.In the background of the control/holding bridge there is always a little girl or boy tryingdesperately, but hopelessly, to be
: good enough to be acceptable. In their drive forgoodness they may lay waste to whole families or communities.
Holding/Thrusting Bridge
 This produces the ultimate
character, binding all their energy into tense musculature andfixed attitudes: a combination of the holder's terror of opening up, and the thruster's terror of collapse. People in this position often have very strict moral codes and strong consciences,blaming themselves heavily for any slight lapse from grace. There is often an underlying


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #34 on: April 15, 2015, 07:46:55 am »
fantasy of shitting themselves, becoming 'soiled', 'disgraced', as if their insides will fall outand be lost forever if they let go of their control. There will be deep tension within the pelvis,and usually also in the back muscles. Such people very often take out their tension on others,becoming moral arbiters and censors; at source their hateful anger is directed at the peoplewho suppressed their own natural vitality and pleasure.
Holding/Crisis Bridge
 These are not strictly 'adjacent' positions according to our system, but the bridge betweenthem seems to be a very common one; it is specifically about flight from the
 position which would come between the two. If someone is deeply unwilling or unable tooccupy the thrusting position and assert themselves in a solidly committed way, then theyoften tend to oscillate between the excitement and movement of the crisis character, and acollapse into holding self-dislike and stuckness. It's a sort of 'manic-depressive' pattern,moving from an exaggerated sense of power and charisma into a morning-after feeling of 'OhGod, what have I done, what must people think of me?'We often find a strong diaphragm block associated with this position, giving a breathless jerkiness to the person's self-expression. The block derives from panic about self-assertion,perhaps because of scary authoritarian parenting.
Thrusting/Crisis Bridge
 This is a particularly difficult combination to sustain, since the two positions are in manyways chalk and cheese. Any expression of traditionally 'masculine' attitudes which feels
(both in men and women), a performance rather than a reality, is probably to do withthis bridge position: the parodic pseudo-machismo of some gay men's circles, for instance, ormen who feel pushed to act in violent or otherwise extreme ways to 'defend' their masculinity.This is the position which classical psychoanalysis talks about in terms of 'repressedhomosexuality', but what is really being repressed is openness and contact, understood inpatriarchal terms as unmasculine. There is a flight from softness into a pretence of toughness.People in this position confront in their own bodies the
problem of combining powerand tenderness in a patriarchal society. The focus of tension in the body can be the perineum,the area between anus and genitals.
Crisis/Boundary Bridge
 Although these two positions are at opposite ends of the cycle, they are also closely linked:Alexander Lowen has pointed out a tendency for energy to swing between the two. Bothpositions are based on
: for the crisis character it is panic about contact, and for theboundary character about existence, but it is easy to see how each theme can feed into theother. The leading characteristic of someone occupying this bridge position will be chaos,together with a deep elusiveness: they are almost impossible to pin down, which is asfrustrating for them as it is for anyone else!Let's move away now from this precision and detail and get back in touch with the main issueof character: that it embodies
at the same time
our attempts to engage with existence, and ourattempts to run away from it.The 'energy-exchange segments' are our most important channels of contact with the world,including other people. Each of these segments, through the nature of the organ systems andsubtle energy channels involved and because of the phase of life during which our energy isfocused there, takes on a particular 'flavour', an innate style of being. All these flavours blend
69to make up a whole human being, able to relate to the world in a rich, complex and flexibleway.At the same time each segment, each channel, throws up its own problems and challenges;sets up the potential for fixation, for blocking - again, in the particular style and flavour of thesegment concerned. Yet neither our 'failure' nor our 'success' in negotiating the challenges of aparticular phase is going to be total; there is always a mixture, a balance of more or less freeor bound energy, which establishes the terms of a person's relationship with this particularaspect of existence. This balance is constantly shifting as the circumstances of our lives putmore or less pressure on our capacity to cope.Then there is the mixture and balance of each segment with every other segment, creating acomplex unity which expresses that person's unique style of being in the world. The first thingto do, always, with this unique character structure is to
it, as a brilliantly successfulstrategy for surviving a threatening environment.If we then start to help someone question their strategy, highlighting ways in which it limitstheir potential for growth and pleasure, then this is not to belittle the achievement, or the oftenastonishing beauty and strength of that human being. Character is a way of growing. Therapyexists only to support and to
that capacity for growth - not to undermine what someonehas already created in themselves.It remains true, though, and must emerge clearly from all that we have said in the last twochapters about the individual character positions, that character is also a way of
growing.It is a brilliant way of surviving an environment which is, let us face it, appalling. Thedeforming influence of capitalism and patriarchy corrupts even the best and most lovingfamily, so that the strength and beauty we display as adults is like the strength and beauty of aJapanese Bonsai tree: essentially a stunted caricature of what a healthy full-grown specimenwould be.
Be strong then, and enter into your own body;there you have a solid place for your feet.Think about it carefully!Don't go off somewhere else!Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things,and stand firm in that which you are.
 Robert Bly, The Kabir Book
So what can we do about all this? About the tension and defensiveness, the illusions andpretences, the inability to face life and pleasure? The ideas about people which we haveoutlined have not been plucked out of thin air: they have developed through the experience of giving and receiving therapy, and in turn they have led to new therapeutic approaches.This book is not a
 How To
... manual. Reichian therapy can't be learnt out of books, and someof our detailed techniques could be misunderstood or mishandled by someone who had onlyread about them and never seen them in action. This is not to say that everyone has to rely onspecialised experts with elite knowledge. There is very definitely a role for self-help, for peer
70therapy sessions exchanged between ordinary people, and a part of our work is teachingpeople how to do this. But such teaching, we feel, has to happen face to face and heart toheart. What we can do here is describe the background to the practice of therapy, and alsocommunicate some of the flavour of the experience.There is a central emphasis in Reichian work on
: contact between client and therapist,contact between the client and her own inner life. As therapists, we are in a sense alwaysoffering ourselves to the other person - offering our attention, our aliveness, our heart: alwaysworking to clear away the blocks on both sides against heart to heart connection. We arecoming from our own core, that central place of love and wholesomeness we described inChapter 6; trying to reach the core of the other person, their essential, undamaged health.This necessarily means that each therapist works in their own style, expressing their ownnature. And this style has to adapt itself in response to each client, meeting them in a waywhich is appropriate for
person at
moment. The wholeness of an individual can beexpressed as energy, as thought, as emotion, as body, and it may be right to meet them on anyof these levels in a given situation, depending on where they 'live' within their self, which of these channels they are able to experience.This does next mean that we always work with a person's preferred channel, of course! A'thinker' may be challenged to feel, a 'body' to connect with life energy which is not simplyphysical, and so on. But the emphasis is on finding contact, which means starting from what
, from the points of openness and closedness in the relationship which begin to manifest assoon as two people are together.Let's look in turn at how our therapy operates in each of these four spheres: body, emotion,thought and energy: remembering that the distinction is somewhat artificial, but also a usefulway of bringing out the essence of the therapeutic relationship.
Many people who have heard of Reichian therapy think of it primarily as 'bodywork'; Reichwas certainly the first psychotherapist in modern times to focus primarily on the body,reminding us that this is where and how we live. Most Reichians are strongly orientedtowards breathing, muscle tension, posture and touch, but we are not primarily trying to'correct' someone's armouring, as for instance a remedial massage practitioner might do. Ourbodywork is aimed essentially at awakening the life energy in the body, trusting that onceawake it will know what to do, how to heal.


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #35 on: April 15, 2015, 07:49:09 am »
So we encourage our clients to breathe, not according to an ideal pattern, but simply tobreathe more deeply, more freely, with less control than they are used to - to 'let breathingbreathe'. People's customary style of breathing varies enormously: what for one individualwould be a deep breath may for another be normal, or even shallow. Similarly, differentpeople tend to breathe with different parts of their body - you may see one person's belly riseand sink with the breath while their chest stays almost motionless; the next person mayexpand and contract their chest without moving their belly at all.
 Exercise 21
 Try this with a few friends: let each person in turn lie on their back and breathe, without trying to influence their breath at all. Look for the differences in depth; in comparativestrength of in and out breath; in which parts of the body move with the breathing. You may be
amazed by how variously we perform this most basic of activities! Remember that this is anexploration, not a competition ...
 We start from where each person is, encouraging them to move a little way towards a fullbreath that spontaneously stirs the whole body. Whatever form of work we are doing, part of our attention will on the clients breathing, but for bodywork as such we generally ask them tolie on their back on a mattress while we sit or kneel beside them

Then we watch, in touch with our own breath and our own naturalness, which is the only wayto encourage it to manifest in another person. After a while we perhaps start to feed back whatwe see; to point out where the breath moves and where it doesn't, how one person, forinstance, breathes
more strongly and
more weakly, or vice versa; how someone movestheir lungs only from half empty to completely empty and back again, never really lettingthem fill up; how another person never really lets their lungs empty, how someone's outbreathcatches in their throat rather than sighing out freely. Whatever we see we feed back, helpingthe client to become aware of what they do, and if possible to relax a little way into a fuller,freer breath.In a while, we may perhaps put our hands on the person's chest and belly, encouraging theoutbreath to deepen by leaning gently into them, then taking our weight back as the breathreturns. We might rock their body from side to side, or massage the chest and shoulders, all aspart of inviting a relaxed, easy but strong breathing to develop while at the same time offeringthe implicit reassurance and challenge of physical touch.For many people, a few minutes' conscious focus on their breath is in itself enough to createpowerful new sensations and emotions, as the stronger breath puts a stronger charge into theirbody. If we are loose and relaxed to start with, the experience can be pleasant, empowering
ven ecstatic. If there is a fair amount of tension, though, more difficult and perhaps alarmingfeelings appear as new energy hits the muscle blocks.The emotions that have been 'held' in the muscle armour use the breath energy to push forexpression, while at the same time the blocks themselves are taking up some of the newenergy in order to push back. The whole contradiction which armouring embodies, betweenexpression and repression, is intensified, which can be very uncomfortable both physicallyand emotionally.Thus the client will need careful support through this part of the process. Above all, they needto know that someone is there with them, and that what is happening is basically okay. Wewill also encourage them to let movement happen wherever there is a sense of stuck energy;to express that charge, maybe by stretching, wriggling around on the mattress, hitting out atthe mattress with hands or feet, screwing up or opening wide the eyes, bouncing with thepelvis. Often it's a matter of noticing and amplifying the slight movements that are alreadyhappening. At the same time, we remind them to
keep breathing
and to
make a sound
.The voice is very powerful, perhaps essential, for the release of held tension. It focuses ourawareness like a spotlight on the area of the body where we are working. It encourages us tobreathe and to 'push'; and, of course, it also directly expresses the held emotion.Often the person isn't immediately in touch with the feeling that is being held in. If wepersuade them to make a sound, it will start as a flat, toneless 'Aaaaaaa', then begin to take onemotional colouring. Without making any conscious effort it may become a yell of anger, ascream of fear, a cry of pain or grief - even a roar of laughter or a shout of affirmation. Oncethis point of connection with and commitment to a feeling has been reached, the whole senseof stuck tension in the body suddenly turns over. The energy has peaked in this act of expression and remembering - the bodymind has become whole again. As the storm passesthere will generally be a sense of release, relaxation and spaciousness.How easily such a point can be reached depends on the extent and the nature of the bodyarmouring. Very often, breathing
bodily expression of feeling will create a situationof extreme held tension. The person will start to feel a stiffness and uncomfortable tingling incertain areas, often the hands and around the mouth, and will find it hard to
breathingdeeply - a state which, if left to take its course, would gradually become both excruciating andterrifying. This state is known medically as 'hyperventilation', and is seen as something to beavoided, which in a sense it obviously is. Yet hyperventilation is the dragon which guards arich treasure. Physiologically, what is happening is that the person is 'blowing off' carbondioxide with the outbreath, altering the acid/alkali balance in the bloodstream and thussending muscles into spasm. This is why an easy and mechanical way to bring someone back to normal is to make them breathe in and out of a paper bag, reabsorbing their own carbondioxide.Some medical people draw the conclusion that it is therefore dangerous to breathe deeply! Yetthousands of people have discovered that it is possible to confront and
this processof over-breathing, so that it will not happen again no matter how deeply and strongly webreathe. Overbreathing is a gateway into a world of greater power and sensitivity, and the waythrough is to dissolve the blocks against expression which set up the tingling and cramps. Thisis the
level of the process, however we understand it physiologically.

Hands need to grip, to let power move through them, to hit out or to hold on; if they don't theywill become cramped, twisted, powerless claws. The voice needs to shout, the mouth to pumpthe sound out, to say in one way or another 'I'm here, I exist, I feel!'. Over-breathing is about
losing control
: either we lose control to paralysis and pain. or we surrender to the free flow of energy and life.So when over-breathing begins to manifest, we reassure the person that this is a naturalhealing process, and encourage them to let life flow through the stuck areas. If the stiffnessbecomes painful, they must yell and groan about that pain! We encourage them to grip on to ablanket with their hands, committing every ounce of their strength, letting power flow downtheir arms, using their voice to help them grip. As the natural process takes over, sound andmovement become natural, spontaneous, releasing. Usually, great waves of pleasure andenergy now flow through the previously stuck areas; for a little while, the person floats freeon the ocean of being. Such experiences can lead to lasting changes in the bodymind.At these and other times, some Reichian therapists will use their hands to press on tightmuscles in the client. These may be the breathing muscles themselves - the diaphragm, bellyand chest - or they may be armoured areas elsewhere in the body which are holding back expression. Pressing, poking, tickling, stretching tight muscles can help them 'overload', sothat the charge of feeling spills back into expression. This sort of stimulation usually hurts -and this itself provides a route to expression as the individual reacts to pain with anger, fear orcrying. The emotion which comes up will be the one held in the muscle tension.Pain is a powerful tool in therapeutic bodywork, but it also carries complex implications -about power, for example - and is bound to affect the relationship between client andtherapist. Only a few Reichian therapists feel easy about using heavy pressure as a way of starting release, though for many clients, as they become more experienced with the work,there are times when they will directly perceive their own holding-on and welcome thetherapist's help in releasing it, even if it does involve pain. The whole area is a complex one,and current realisations about the theme of abuse in life and in therapy make it even morecomplex - we will look at this issue again in the next chapter. We should perhaps say that thetwo authors have very different attitudes to strong physical work: Nick at the moment uses it,while Em doesn't.However, there are many other forms of direct physical interaction which come up inbodywork. As the client follows the sensations and emotions which arise, they often need topush with hands, legs, head, shoulders, pelvis; to hit out at someone (the therapist will hold acushion in front of herself); to pull against a person's strength; to hold and to be held. In thisform of work, the therapist is present with her whole being, body as well as mind, offeringherself as a resource,, creating an intimacy which, outside sex, is almost unique in adult life.


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #36 on: April 15, 2015, 07:51:25 am »
 It will be obvious already that the four spheres we are considering overlap with each other.Much of what we have said about the physical body also involves emotions, energy and ideas;once life force is on the move it functions in all modes at once. We are distinguishing only thedifferent starting points for the process.On the other hand, emotions and physical sensations have a particularly close link. The word'feeling' can be used for both kinds of experience, and in practice during a therapy session theclient may make no distinction between what they are feeling physically and what they arefeeling emotionally. Other people, however, may find it very hard to link the two - it is acommon expression of cut-offness to have bodily experiences with no emotional content, orvice versa. You can also find yourself in a separate 'witnessing' part of your being, coollyregistering the experience, deducing, 'Ah, now my voice sounds angry/sad/ frightened.' Allthese are fine as starting-points; the goal is to re-connect with the unity of our experience

Many clients do not feel ready or able to engage with bodywork when they begin therapy. Theprocess seems too intimate, too invasive, perhaps even meaningless to someone who doesn'texperience themselves as 'living in' their body.Thus therapy will always start with the sorts of contact that
available, but with the long-term goal of coming to grips with whatever is blocking bodywork. This is not meant to implythat bodywork is more 'fundamental' than other approaches; the same will apply in reverse,for example, with a client who finds bodywork easy but treats it purely physically, making noemotional connections. With a number of clients, then, the starting point will be anexploration of their emotional world, during which the therapist is hoping to bring to theirawareness how they resist specific kinds of feeling. Just as bodywork focuses on the musculararmouring against movement and breathing, so here we are looking at character armouringagainst feeling and expression.In this sort of work it is crucial that the therapist be in touch with her own feelings and herown defences against feeling, in order to explore those of her client, just as in bodywork weneed to be in touch with our own breath. One of our fundamental tools for understanding inthis area is registering the emotions which arise within ourselves during the session. Thesefeelings and attitudes will almost always reflect what is going on
inside the client
. To makeuse of this information, however, we must be clear enough to disentangle it from our owncharacter, our own habits of feeling which will 'rise to the bait', this is one of many reasonswhy therapists need to receive regular therapy!When two people are relating strongly, their emotional states are linked; a feeling in one willproduce an echo in the other without anything being explicitly stated. So our internal reactionshelp us see how the client is resisting feeling, resisting expression. Often a client will insistthat 'nothing is happening', no emotions of any sort are being experienced. If the therapistknows herself well, however, she may for example perceive a wave of sadness or of fearwhich doesn't come from her own process. She can then feed this back to the client: 'I sense alot of sadness in the room at the moment, is that to do with what you're telling me about?'What
happen is almost more important than what does. A client may find it very easyto cry, for example, but almost impossible to get angry, or even assertive. The therapist mustobviously validate and support the tears, but she must also notice, point out,
on the'missing feeling' which those tears may be covering up. An apparently inappropriate edge of anger or confrontation within
during the session is an important clue to what ishappening. It may also work the other way round: if I feel angry with a client perhaps they are
me to be angry, almost encouraging it - because this is what they are used to. Littleof the resistance to feeling will be conscious, of course. As we have emphasised, the purposeof armouring is partly to make feelings unconscious. But we still communicate thoseunacknowledged feelings all the time, and a therapist can be sensitive enough to mirror back the feelings her clients are rejecting in a way which validates their pain and defensiveness, butwhich also invites and challenges them to re-own their hidden self.
 Exercise 22
 You might find it interesting at this point to think about which feelings you yourself find it easy to express - and which ones are unacceptable or unavailable to you. Are you someonewho 'never gets angry'? Or are you apparently 'fearless'? Or perhaps you approach most situations in the expectation of being hurt? After you have made your own list, try asking oneor two people close to you how they see you; the result may be illuminating.
A slightly different way of seeing the process is that the therapist is throwing the spotlight onwhatever behaviour
resists contact
. Character is a system of defence; it rests on the childhoodrealisation that the world is dangerous, and should not be approached with honest directness.In particular we should not be open with people in authority, which is how the therapistappears. She is dangerous, because she may - indeed, is actively trying to - open up dangerousemotions. Right from the start- we as clients are unconsciously trying to control the situation,to put limits on it, to make it less spontaneous and contactful, trying in fact to sabotage thetherapy which is costing us so much money and effort!A client may, for example, enter therapy with an apparent deep trust and faith in thetherapist's ability to help them: a biddable compliance with all suggestions, and boundlessenthusiasm for the results. Wonderful! The unwary therapist basks in the satisfaction of beingadmired and appreciated, yet somehow nothing seems to lead anywhere; there is nodeepening, no discovery. Eventually the therapist is forced to realise that all this trust isinauthentic: the clients real message is 'I'm a good boy/girl, don't hurt me'. When the clientcan begin to experience their fear and suspicion of the therapist then something real can startto happen.Another client may begin therapy in a truculent, suspicious and complaining way. Nothing thetherapist does is right, no session ends in a satisfying resolved way. It's always left uncertainwhether the client will come back next week. Nevertheless they do keep coming back, theymust be getting something out of it Could it be that what they want, yet are fighting, is tosurrender, to be small and trusting and looked after?These are just two examples of the many ways in which people's conscious feelings onentering therapy can be contradicted by deeper motivations. Part of the therapist's job is tolook beyond the surface presented to them; not in a distrustful and cynical way, which wouldsimply represent their own character armour, but with heart contact and an awareness of whenand haw whatever needs to happen isn't happening. Our basic belief is that everyone enterstherapy in order to become open - however hard they may resist that openness! As therapistswe seek to ally ourselves with that wholesome and authentic aspect of our client, by revealingthe wholesome and authentic part of ourselves.Working to uncover a client's deep feelings involves being in touch with what their bodies aredoing, especially their breathing and posture, it means listening to the unconscious messageswhich may utterly contradict the words they say - 'I feel happy and relaxed', yet my shouldersare tense, my arms folded and my breathing shut down. It also involves looking at theircurrent life situation, often in consider-able detail. But even though we expect to do a gooddeal of counselling in the course of our work (in the sense of helping people develop betterstrategies for managing their lives), therapy is not counselling; our main concern with currentevents is how they illuminate a person's fundamental patterns formed in childhood and earlier,their basic expectations of how the world will be, which function like scripts to direct thecourse of their lives.
 What we have just been saying about feelings clearly concerns a person's thought processes;their ideas about how things are. Generally, however, we are less concerned with someone'sexplicit ideas than with their silent
: 'You can't expect to get what you want fromlife.' 'Everyone lets me down in the end.' 'If I want love I have to earn it,' 'Anger only gets youhurt,' 'Women are born to suffer,' 'A real man never cries.' These are a mere handful of the

common assumptions people make about life - any one of which will have fundamentaleffects upon how they go about things, and therefore upon what happens to them.Our assumptions tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies. If we believe that everyone is out forthemselves, then we will act in a suspicious and self-centred fashion which discourages otherpeople from being open and sharing with us. If we believe that anger will get us hurt, then wecan easily create that hurt - by punching a wall instead of a cushion, for example, or simply bythe way in which our fear makes us hit out clumsily and awkwardly. If we expect not to getwhat we want, then we want things we know we can't get And so on.
 Exercise 23
 Try to make a list of all your habitual, favourite assumptions about reality, on the lines of theabove examples. Do this down one half of a page - quite fast and without thinking about it toomuch; then opposite each statement, write a contradictory statement Try saying these out loud, and see what it feels like!
 It could be said that this kind of thought is fundamentally a
. Our bodymindremembers the existence-threatening situation which stamped a certain view of life onto us;the tactic which allowed us to survive then becomes our basic strategy for confronting lifenow. But life changes all the time - we are constantly meeting with new experiences, if wecan let ourselves recognise them. Through therapy, we can open up a certain spaciousness inour lives, which involves among other things the capacity to
more clearly; to perceive,to reconsider, and often to change, our lifelong assumptions about 'how things are'.Of course these are not merely intellectual notions: their power comes from their intense
charge, which is always anchored in the structure of our
, in the ways that
is allowed to move in us. Yet there is a definite role for the mind in therapy. There aretimes when it can be crucial to understand the logical flaws in our approach to existence - if for no other reason, to motivate us to carry on with the work despite its uncomfortableness.This is the constructive aspect of the way in which thinking, operating from our heads,distances us from the immediate authenticity of feeling and sensation. Our capacity foranalysis enables us to step back to gain perspective, to witness our own process rather thanimmersing ourselves in it.The question is whether this distancing effect is voluntary or involuntary; whether it is simplya flight from the anxiety which feelings and sensations can bring up in us. Many people cometo therapy needing to 'get out of their heads' - they have been affected by our culture'semphasis on sterile and exaggerated rationality, and have lost touch with their emotions. Aswe have stressed, feelings are not open to argument: they are simply
, to be lived throughand completed.But other people - or the same people at a different moment in their lives - may be excessivelyinvolved in their feelings in an addictive or a flooded way, going round and round the sameemotional cycle rather than completing it and moving on. At such a point a therapist mightwell say 'Yes, that's how you feel, but what do you
about that? Do your feelings reflectwhat is actually happening in the here-and-now?' The client is thus invited to use their powersof analysis, to clarify and peel away fossilised emotional attitudes.

Feelings cannot be
by thoughts. If we try to do this we simply repress them, andthrow ourselves into an illusion. But thoughts can help us to understand where feelings comefrom, help us open up a space between the reality of the feeling and the reality of the situationso that we can start to understand that the feeling refers to things in the past rather than in thepresent (if this is the case). Knowing this, we are encouraged to work out, express and let goof the old emotion, rather than confusing it with current reality and unconsciously trying tomake reality match our feeling.We must remember too that our head is part of our body, and thoughts are a life functionmuch like digestion or heartbeat. Moving into a 'thought space', with its flavour of cool,distant clarity, is accompanied by a shift in our breathing and posture. The breath tends tobecome more shallow, and focus in our upper chest rather than our belly. The energy focusesin our upper body and our head; the state of our whole head armouring, and our eyes inparticular, will determine to a very large extent how free and clear our thought processes canbe - how well we can 'see what's going on'.We should also mention here the very major role in therapy of fantasy and imagination.Working in any of the ways we describe in this chapter, clients are likely to come up withspontaneous imagery about what they are experiencing - not just visual images, but using anyof the sensory channels. To take a few random examples: someone might imagine their bodyas a tree, with a great snake coiling around the trunk. Or they might suddenly smell smoke, ortaste blood in their mouth, or hear the sound of bells. Whatever the imagery that emerges, itwill be rooted in that individual's history and life issues: we can see it as a message from thebodymind, couched not in language but in sensation. Working with these fantasies - eitherwithin the session, or on your own between sessions - can be a most fruitful way of developing communication with yourself.
 In the last section, and throughout this chapter, we have shifted at times into talking about'energy'. What we can perceive as bodywork, as emotional movement, or a shift of ideas, canalso be perceived as a flow of life energy, of Orgone. A Reichian therapist may focus on thislevel, watching the energy shifts in their client as a favourite 'channel' for picking upinformation about what is going on. We may also work directly to affect the flow of energy,rather than doing this through acting on physical or emotional tension. We may use our hands,for instance, not to press or poke the muscles, but to help energy move into or around theclient's body. This is an area where therapy overlaps with what is known as 'hand healing','spiritual healing', or 'subtle energy work'.In fact, as most practitioners of therapeutic touch come to realise, there is no hard and fast linebetween bodywork and energy rebalancing. Hands that are accustomed to touching bodiesbecome steadily more subtle, hinting and offering rather than insisting; out of this danceanother form of interaction will flower, letting us realise that it has been going on all the time.It is impossible for two people, two energy systems,
to interact on an energy level.Apart from focusing and channelling energy through our hands, we can use visualisation andimagery. If we imagine, for instance, a stream of clear blue water flowing through and aroundus, relaxing and clearing our energy, then this is what will tend to happen; or if we hold in ourmind's eye the image of a hot orange sun blazing into our belly, or of a white rose slowlyopening in our chests, then the appropriate energy shift is likely to occur.

Many practitioners and healing organisations work with energy while keeping quiet about it -it seems too weird, too unacceptable, to acknowledge openly. Reichian work has alwaysacknowledged the direct role of life energy, and, as we shall see in Chapter 11, Reich evendeveloped a series of devices for concentrating that energy and dissolving the blocks againstits natural flow. He was also very much aware that a human being is an 'orgone device' - as isany other living being. Energy streams constantly through our bodyminds, at times poolingand condensing, freezing and stagnating, boiling and flooding. Working with energy is reallyno different from other levels of therapy; it is just a different emphasis of perception,employing the same fundamental concepts and directions as the other spheres. If the energywithin us shifts, then our feeling state, thought processes and body awareness will also shift:the four spheres are all inter-dependent
 Exercise 24
 With coloured pens or crayons, make a picture of your body's energy patterns as you imaginethem to be. Try to let yourself loose on this; use lots of different colours. You may want tohave a body outline to work with - but remember that your energy also goes outside your skin.This is a nice exercise to do with friends, and to do occasionally over a period of time to seehow your pictures change.
The therapy relationship
 We have just described the
of the client-therapist interaction, but this is not theinteraction itself. At some stage in the work - perhaps even right at the start - the emphasisshifts crucially from the
of the therapy - melting armour, releasing feelings, revisinglife scripts, channelling energy - to the
of the therapy, and the relationship between twopeople which that form expresses.A client does a specific piece of therapeutic work; arrives at a new insight, perhaps, a newcapacity for handling charge. This is the first level of the work, and essential and valuable initself. But simultaneously, a second level is operating: the piece of work is also a
 between client and therapist.Is it, for example, an offering, like an apple for the teacher? Is it asking, for praise; orappeasing, trying to buy off criticism? Is there an unconscious goal of shocking the therapist,frightening her off with the horror of the material revealed? Is it a test? Does the client expectto be rejected if she shows her real self Is she calculatedly - but unconsciously - trying toproduce the feelings the therapist expects - or to frustrate those expectations?How, in other words, does the therapeutic work act as a
for the client's love or hatefor the therapist for her fear or anger or seductiveness or need?All this may seem a bit unlikely, a bit over the top. A therapist in touch with her own healthycore is not going around inviting her clients' love or hate. Yet over and over again, therapistssince Freud (and no doubt since the dawn of time) have found these super-intense feelingsmanifesting in their clients, bending everything to their own ends. They have had the certaintythat something
a superficially straightforward piece of work, something much moredifficult and confusing, like a great dark star bending the light from a smaller visible sun.And, even more interestingly, we discover equivalent 'over the top' responses
in ourselves;
wefeel an urge to praise or punish, seduce or reject, to need things from and do things to our clients.

This is all most alarming, or would be if we lacked an understanding of what is going on.Freud labelled this process 'transference' because, he said, the client is essentially transferringon to the therapist powerful positive or negative feelings which were originally called forth bythe important adults in their childhood. The equivalent feelings in the therapist are generallyknown as 'counter- transference'.The fundamental emotions about people which we had in childhood are the ones we tend tohave about all the important people in our lives, not just our therapists. If we were afraid of our parents' anger, we will be afraid of our lovers' anger - whether they get angry or not' Andso on with all our other feelings and relationships: rather than being able to see other peopledirectly, we tend to treat them as a screen on to which we project old memories. In the therapysituation, however, there are important and creative differences.The therapist is not, like most people, simply putting her own projections back onto the clientIn the rest of her life, she may project as readily as the next person, but she has learnt not todo so in the therapy session; or rather, to keep a distance from her projections, and to usethem as information about what is happening within the client.Also, in therapy both people are there not for any practical or emotional purpose, whichwould take their attention away from the projecting that is going on (and often sabotaging thatmain purpose). Theyare there simply in order to experience and consider what happensbetween them. There is plenty of space for projections to arise, develop, play themselvesthrough. There is space for the 'transference relationship' to reveal itself, and thus to reveal thefundamental patterns and assumptions of our lives.In classic Freudian psychoanalysis, the basic situation which arouses transference feelings isone of
. The therapist distances herself from the client in all sorts of ways: by sittingout of sight and mostly in silence, by withholding all information about herself and herfeelings, by responding with no expression of sympathy or concern. The psychoanalyst, atleast in theory, is a 'blank screen' on to which the clients project their central feelings aboutpeople - especially about people who withhold themselves!The basis of our own work is crucially different Although there are some importantboundaries in our relationship with clients (for instance, we are offering only a specifiedamount of time), we are always moving towards
. It is this active push for closeness,for deep disclosure, which provokes transference feelings - as a defence against the power andvulnerability of this contact.Because it is the relationship with the therapist which provokes such deep feelings, as clientswe find it easier to see
as responsible for
process; to see them as powerful, ratherthan recognising that the power resides equally in us and in the contact we are bothexperiencing; to see them as special - specially nice or specially nasty - rather than facingthem as simply another human being like us. Contact is only truly possible between equals.


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #37 on: April 15, 2015, 07:53:18 am »
Transference feelings develop in the course of therapy as a last ditch defence against real,equal human contact. This is why it is such a positive and creative movement The clients'unconscious resistance, their character armour, is throwing everything into the battle,manifesting all its skills of defence, evasion and control. Anything is better than the achingvulnerability of spontaneous openness! If the therapist can unwaveringly hold out this optionof openness, then the client is forced to see through their illusions about who the therapist is,forced face to face with the deep childhood hurt that has crippled their capacity to be intimateand powerful.In this intense process the therapist is no unmoved onlooker, no 'objective' technician, She,too, will be stirred to the core; all her residual unwillingness to be open, equal andspontaneous will come to the surface, all her buttons will be pressed as the client with greatunconscious skill and insight, tries to throw her off balance, to turn her from a healthy,contactful being into a manifestation of the client's childhood damage and adult expectations.The counter-transference is the experience of being a puppet for the client's fears andexpectations - usually both at once. What lays us open to this is our own unresolved childhoodmaterial; especially, of course, the distorted feelings that have contributed to our desire to betherapists in the first place - the need to help people, to have power, to be appreciated.If we can stay in touch with our wholesome, rational core, we can see the counter-transferenceimpulses for what they are. They then become a treasury of information about the client, aswe realise that our tendency to fall in love with them, or bully them, or pass judgement on

them, or feel inadequate with them, is something that
are doing: a familiar pattern whichthey are trying to impose on the situation. mainly because it feels safer than the unknownterritory of openness.So what we do with this information is, in one way or another, to feed it back to the client.The therapist's ultimate resource is her capacity to be
- with herself, with her clients,about what is actually going on. This is really the only way to avoid becoming what the clientfears yet tries to create - an oppressive authority figure, withholding knowledge as a source of power.The therapist does not always need to be in control. We have both had so many experiences of losing our balance in a session, getting hot and bothered, being on the edge of panic, and havelearnt that we can resolve the whole situation and return effortlessly to centre with somesimple statement like "I feel confused, 1 don't know what's going on here". The client'stransference reaction tries to make us into someone who
knows what's going on, forgood or ill: a parent; someone unreal. Being honest and being real is a minimum condition forbeing therapeutic. In doing this, we are also modelling for our client the possibility of beingfluid in one's approach to life, of moving between positions rather than attempting to freezeand rigidify.It should be clear by now that clients' patterns of transference will match their favouredcharacter positions. Character is a defence against spontaneity and contact; it is the force in uswhich produces transference as a last ditch defence. So, for example, someone in theBoundary position will experience the therapist's offer of contact as a threat to their existence;will perhaps 'go away inside', be unable to hear or understand properly what is being said tothem. In the Oral position, we will feel ourselves as needing to be looked after by the therapist- see them as provider or withholder of nourishment, a 'good' or 'bad' mother. Holdingcharacters will expect to be rejected if they let their feelings show; Thrusting characters willcompete for power; Crisis characters will try to stir the therapist up, to unseat or panic them,as a way of unloading their own intolerable panic about contact.There is a special relationship between the crisis character and transference. since thisposition is
contact, manifesting a yes/no anxiety around the issue. When someone isstrongly in this position at the start of therapy, then their relationship with the therapist willimmediately take on a central role - sometimes within seconds of entering the room for thefirst time.In a sense we could say that we all have to pass through this position as part of our therapeuticprocess. Therapy will stir up our tendencies to each character position in turn, but it is at the'crisis stage' that the transference relationship becomes crucially important Can we movethrough to an Open character position in relation to our therapist? Can we allow our feelingsand sensations, our thoughts and energy, to arise without making the therapist responsible forthem? Can we allow the therapist to have
feelings without us having to take them on? If so, we have an excellent model for living a sane and creative life outside therapy - which, of course, is the point of the whole exercise.
 That last sentence may beg a few questions. What
the goals of therapy? Clients may cometo a therapist for all sorts of reasons, conscious and unconscious. What is therapy
? Whereare we trying to get to through these practices and procedures?

The longer we work as therapists, the more we find our original goals failing away, revealingthemselves as illusions. The first to go was an intention of 'helping people', 'making it better'.This soon revealed itself as not only impossible to achieve, but actually harmful to attempt: if I try to 'help' you, I am defining you as helpless, myself as helpful - a systematicdisempowerment which undermines your attempts at freedom and independence, playsstraight into the transference defence, and encourages me in my delusions of grandeur!Nor is therapy really even about people getting
- if by 'better' we mean their physical oremotional ills failing away, their life becoming happier and more successful. These things dovery often happen - clients gain in acceptance, confidence, creativity, capacity for pleasure insex and life in general; serious physical ailments clear up; chronic pains disappear. These, of course, are the sorts of things people hope for when they start therapy.However, we have to face the fact that all these things are essentially by-products of therapyrather than the thing itself. Occasionally a person will end therapy feeling that it has beenvaluable and successful, and their therapist will agree, yet the original problem, their reasonfor coming, may be quite untouched. It is not uncommon that during therapy a person'srelationship may break up; a life situation which previously felt fine becomes intolerable; theycan even manifest new and major physical ailments. Yet they may well still feel positiveabout the therapeutic process.Is this a tribute to our powers of brainwashing? We don't believe so. Therapy helps people toface reality; it helps them discover what reality
, to let go of illusions. At the end of thisprocess - or rather, at the end of this phase of a never-ending process - life may feel easier orharder, tragic or ecstatic. But the person will be more in touch with their own process, theirown self. They will be in contact with 'what they came for', and working out the implicationsas fully as possible. Occasionally, as Arnold Mindell says, the successful resolution of atherapeutic process is for the client to
.We don't have a lot of clients dying at the end of therapy, though it is true that a very extremelevel of defence can manifest as a person's core starts to surface. The point we are trying tomake is that although therapy allows a person's life to deepen, to become
, it does notnecessarily make it
. They may have spent their lives ignoring and avoiding pain, bothinside and out in the real world. That pain is real; heartbreak is real; exhaustion and death arereal. In an initial interview with a prospective client, it may often seem that the therapist istrying to put the client off rather than encouraging them.It may be better to speak of
for therapy rather than goals - at any moment in theprocess of working with someone, our direction will be towards more honesty, morespontaneity, more openness, more energy, more space. Whether the specific experiences thisbrings out are 'good' or 'bad' is irrelevant, as long as our belief and our experience is that thecore of a human being is loving, joyful and creative. As therapists, our work is to midwife thebirth of this core.Can therapy fail? Certainly it can. At times there seem to be so many layers of negativeemotion around the clear core that we despair of ever reaching it, and this can be as true of ourselves as of other people. The world we live in is not exactly a welcoming home, or even a
home, for an open character. People give up and leave; the therapist can give up andsend them away. Yet even then who can say that the process is over? It often goes on workinginside someone; they may come back to therapy or find some other tool, or simply live their

lives in a different and more complete way. The idea of 'reaching the core' is really an illusionanyway: we are already there. If therapy is, or tries to be, a natural process, then like the restof nature it is never complete, never wholly separate - never, really, 'good' or 'bad'.
Being a therapist; being a client
 What we have said may make it seem that a therapist is a saint-like being, one who hasresolved all her own childhood feelings and become a permanently open character. Luckilythis is not the case, or there would be a striking shortage of therapists!What the activity
require is a practised ability to leave one's own material on one side forthe duration of the session, except in so far as it becomes an important part of what is goingon. People often talk about the therapist 'leaving her own problems outside the door'; in ourexperience it is much more a question of constantly owning up to and releasing the feelingswhich arise in us. Most of the time we can do this silently and quickly, but when we hit abigger issue it is vital that we don't try to conceal it or unload it onto the client We must beable to own up to what is going on - and this is not so much a precondition for therapy; it isthe therapy.Thus giving therapy to someone else is a bit like giving it to yourself. It becomes a form of meditation, repeatedly coming back to clear attention in the here-and-now, to focusing on theother person's experience without ever giving up or denying your own humanity. The mostimportant thing is that being a therapist is just an activity, like any other activity which isuseful and satisfying.What
we get out of giving therapy? Most therapists are rather nosy people, who like toknow what's going on for everyone. Many of us have a tendency, usually reasonably well-controlled, to enjoy feeling important, bossing people around, 'helping'. Giving therapy canalso be a very effective defence against our own therapeutic process - shifting attention awayfrom ourselves and on to other people. A lot of therapists tend to reach a plateau in their work on themselves and stay there.It is crucial that therapists continue to get regular therapy for themselves, so as to remain clearabout their own motivations and their own process. We have noticed a distinct relationshipbetween our work on ourselves and our work with other people: if one becomes frustrating, sodoes the other, and if one becomes creative, so does the other. Every therapist is also a client.And being a client can also become a career! You can become addicted to therapy: use it inmany subtle ways as a means of shoring up your defended character rather than challenging it.Every therapist meets the 'professional client' who has done a bit of everything, and nowwants to add you to their trophies.With therapy, as with every other human activity that tends towards liberation, there is aconstant gravitational pull back into unreality, back into routine. The fact that we have to do itfor money as a profession is one factor here - 'Oh God, back to work'. For clients andtherapists alike there is the constant challenge to renew the process, to come back to the core,back to simplicity, back to naturalness, back to freedom.
 In this chapter we have been talking essentially about therapy in the 'classic' setting - a one-to-one relationship, usually for an hour a week, and lasting for some months or years. There are

many other possible settings. Reich himself worked like most psychoanalysts, seeing clientsfor an hour three or five times a week. Very few people could afford such an arrangement inthe milieux in which we work!Partly because of cost, partly because of other power issues which we shall look at in the nextchapter, and partly because of other advantages, we do a great deal of work in groups: day,weekend or longer workshops, usually centred around people
Reichian sessions inpairs, with the support and supervision of one or two leaders moving between the pairs.The great strengths of this kind of work (developed by William West largely under theinfluence of the Co-Counselling movement, and also of Peter Jones) are that it is cost- andlabour-effective, and it is
, proving to people that they have the capacity to care,to give, to share. Giving such a session can itself be an important therapeutic experience.Also, the sheer amount of energy generated in a room full of Reichian sessions tends tointensify the work and increase the likelihood of stirring and worthwhile things happening.At the same time, it is obvious that this structure limits the sort of work which is possible.Generally speaking the emphasis will be on bodywork, because in this sphere the client ismore 'self-starting' through focusing on the breath. The bodywork is inevitably reduced to afew clear, simple principles, since many of the helpers may never have worked therapeuticallybefore; indeed they may never before have touched another person's body in a non-sexualway.It might seem as though the structure of pair work would have less value than working with atherapist or might even be dangerous. This is by no means the case. The emphasis becomesone of 'being there': the helper's main role is to give supportive attention, to let the personworking know that someone is with them and that whatever they are experiencing is all rightAny further assistance depends on the skills and confidence of the helpers, some of whommay have attended several groups and be quite experienced and sensitive. The group leadersare always there to handle tricky moments and deal with stuckness.Running groups is in many ways a humbling experience for a practising therapist. It puts ourskills and theories back in proportion, showing us just how much can be done through thewillingness to be open and to give attention. The distinction between 'therapist' and 'ordinaryperson' is a purely practical one - by earning our living at this work we develop a great deal of experience, but also lose out somewhat in freshness and commitment Running a group can bea bit like giving an exhibition of simultaneous chess! But at other times there may be nothingfor the leader to do at all.Especially during a longer group, the more verbal, 'character-analytic' side of the work willdevelop, through time spent with the whole group together, sitting in a circle, with peopletaking turns to share and explore what is going on for them with the help of the leaders and of other members of the group. The group itself becomes a resource for its members, a source of healing and growth, with its own inherent wisdom and sense of direction

A group is also capable of very powerful negative and destructive feelings. On rare occasions,especially during long-term groups, a 'mob' atmosphere can develop as hostile transferencefeelings towards the leaders, or the scapegoating of certain group members, becomesamplified by positive feedback. This is the sort of situation where a therapist needs all hercapacity for centredness and constructive honesty, yet the possibility of deep core contact iscorrespondingly amplified by the group situation, and many very beautiful and magicalexperiences can occur.
 Love, work and knowledge are the wellsprings of our life; they should also govern it.
 Wilhelm ReichReading what we have said about the client-therapist relationship, many people will beconcerned about issues of power. Is it acceptable for therapists to work in a way whichdeliberately lets them become such charged figures for their clients? Isn't there a tremendouspotential in this situation for exploitation? Isn't the relationship structured so as inevitably todisempower the client, stripping away their autonomy and identity rather than strengtheningthem?These are serious questions, and ones which make quite a few people steer clear of therapy,Reichian or otherwise, however much they may in some ways be drawn to it. The ultimate


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #38 on: April 15, 2015, 07:54:48 am »
fear is similar to that felt about the Moonies or the Rajneesh movement - the Svengali-like,mesmeric figure who controls our actions and perceptions.This is a highly rational fear in a society where a great deal of time and money is devoted tocontrolling people's actions and perceptions. Just as our culture is manipulative in the publicsphere, through advertising and propaganda, so in the private sphere people assert coercivepower aver each others' experience. This is especially brutal between parents and childrenwhere the child's reality can be forcibly invalidated and invaded, both physically andmentally. We don't even have to look at the sickening facts of extreme abuse, now revealed asfar more common than most people realised (and which we are increasingly meeting in ourwork); incest and torture are the logical extension of the powerless situation in which mostchildren find themselves in our culture.The intense vulnerability which therapy exposes will often bring up these sorts of childhoodfeelings and memories. It is all too easy for the therapist to push away her own distress bypushing around the client, instructing her in subtle or not-so-subtle ways what to think andfeel and remember. therapists can easily become addicted to the power thrust upon them by somany clients, who have themselves been brought up to 'need' an authority to obey: therapistscan actually start
in the positive transference they receive. Acting in this way isequally abusive, however nice it feels.There are some therapists, and some therapies, which tend to exploit their clients,emotionally, financially, or by imposing a social 'norm' upon the client's experience.Suspicions of exploitation, like any other conflicts of perception between the two peopleinvolved, need to be carefully and thoroughly examined,
any built-in assumption thatthe therapist is more likely to be 'right' than the client.It is the therapist's willingness to test out her own attitudes and feelings, and on occasion toown up to mistakes and confusions, which can above all make therapy a safe and non-abusivestructure. As we have tried to show in the last chapter, by working as therapists we are notsetting ourselves up as superior beings. People often describe the therapy relationship as'unequal'. We don't think this is right, we see it more as 'asymmetrical' - the roles of the twopeople are not the same, and their involvement is of different kinds. But the
of theparticipants can and must balance.This goal is on its own a radical and subversive one in a society which is constructed out of inequalities of power. Our work is very much concerned with the difference between 'power-over' and 'power-for'; with helping the client to feel this difference in her own marrow.Power-over is the juice upon which patriarchal culture runs - the assumption that if I amstrong, someone else must be weak, and vice versa. This is part of the myth of scarcity, whichsays that there isn't enough of anything, so we must all fight for our share of the inadequatecake.Scarcity is only a truth about the things our culture has created to be scarce: luxuries, ormoney itself. It isn't even a truth that food is scarce, only that it is unevenly distributed; and itisn't remotely true of breath, energy, love or power - in the sense of power-for-ourselves,strength and creativity, 'the force that through the green fuse drives the flower' as DylanThomas puts it.There is plenty of power for everyone!

But patriarchal society cannot allow this reality to be felt, otherwise no one would let theirpower apparently be taken away, no one would bow down to their 'betters', or work in aboring and useless job, or obey silly rules, or let other people control all the resources andactivities of society. Social oppression depends ultimately on
: we let it happen.Why do we consent to being disempowered in this way? Reich was one of the first people topoint out the vital role of family life in transmitting patriarchal ideas and ways of being. Weare made controllable by our
, which walls off so much of our energy, clarity,courage and initiative. While many people would see this as 'healthy discipline', we see it asan
education in disempowerment
. And this same armouring, by blocking our urge for lovingcontact so that it turns stagnant and vicious, sets up the conditions for people to be attractedby the violence, hatred and scapegoating of fascism and other extreme ideologies.

We can draw real parallels between different political ideologies and the different layers of the armoured personality. The liberal/democratic consensus, denying the reality of oppressionand exploitation. corresponds to the outer layer of false 'niceness' and 'civilisation'. Extremistideologies of the right and left, with all their talk of 'smashing', 'liquidating', 'seizing' and'fighting', correspond to the middle layer - the welter of hateful and distorted feelings createdthrough the frustration of our need for love and pleasure. Like all symptoms they have adouble nature, expressing both the sadistic rage of a suppressed individual and the compulsiveobedience instilled by the authoritarian parenting which suppresses them.And the healthy core? It corresponds to a way of life which exists so far only in our dreams,one which is not 'political' in the usual sense, because all power remains with the individualand the community, where people control their own lives and work, without needingneurotically to give that control away to 'specialists'. This is the social version of natural self-regulation within the individual.Of course, it is perfectly possible to 'struggle' and 'fight' for this sort of society by meanswhich are neurotic and distorted! Over and over again, in the public sphere, wonderful visionsof freedom and healing have resulted in totalitarian or chaotic societies. It seems pretty clearthat it is not possible for armoured characters like ourselves to create a healthy society: eitherwe end up giving our power away to another bunch of brutal authorities, or else we are unableto focus enough creative energy to get anything done at all!So is there any alternative to doomed attempts at pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps?Reichian therapy seeks to intervene at the other end of the process of political oppression: toexpose the precise distortions created in our individual energies, and to dissolve them so thatenergy can move freely again.Reichian therapy makes people less easy to control! They become at least partially immune tomanipulation through guilt, shame, anxiety and greed, because these secondary emotions havedissolved back into their primary sources: love, anger, grief, fear and joy. Energy is on themove, and will no longer fit into constricting and damaging containers: bad relationships, bad jobs, bad belief systems. Without any ideology being imposed from outside, the natural forcesof the human organism create change in the political situation of the individual; a process of re-empowermentHowever creative, this falling-away of a familiar context can be very painful for anindividual. Established support systems and friendships often become unsatisfying, no longerable to meet the need for new and different sorts of emotional feeding, Increasingly, we areseeing the need for support networks, ways in which people can validate and aid this sort of change in each other.But it would take a very long time to change the world through individual or group therapy.We must clearly recognise that therapy becomes a real need, or even a real option,
whenbasic needs for food, housing, security and so on have been met. In this sense, therapy doestend to be a middle class, privileged activity (though by no means ail our clients fall into thisgroup). Thus it is a good thing that, however messianic we become at times, this work is onlyone tributary of a much greater streaming of change and rebirth. What we see happening overand again is that people move from therapy with us into
areas of transformative activity;above all, they begin to change their own lives into an environment where they, and everyonearound them, can flower

Therapy also has a valuable input to make into other forms of working for change. It helpspeople to examine their
in taking on such tasks; helps them let go of thecompulsiveness about 'helping', the workaholism, the hidden authoritarianism or the oraldemandingness ('give us our rights!') which can blight so much radical work. Therapy insiststhat we can and must
ourselves; that pleasure and fun are just as much part of changingthe world.It can also suggest new structures and procedures for meetings, co-operatives and so on, basedon recognising and giving space to each person involved; paying attention to atmospheres andunspoken agendas rather than sweeping them under the carpet; creating opportunities forpersonal, face-to-face contact: giving control of work to the people who actually carry it out.Such structures both grow out of and help to nurture natural self-regulation and being-in-touch.Reichian therapy has a particular natural affinity for two issues of power: sexism and ecology.Reich was, again, one of the first people to raise issues that now come under the banner of 'ecology'; he perceived the spreading pollution and damage to nature in the early 1950s andlinked it directly with the blocking of natural impulses in human beings - only armoured anddistressed individuals would permit their environment to be poisoned. Therapy tends toliberate feelings of identification with the natural world, the sense of sacredness which mostof us lose in childhood, and which makes it impossible to tolerate the **** and torture of theearth.That image of **** brings us to the issue of sexism: the oppression of natural and spontaneousfeeling under patriarchy is tied up in many ways with gender and sex. As we have alreadysaid, the wholeness of our experience is split in two by the imposition of 'masculine' and'feminine' categories of behaviour, creating a permanent wound in both genders, butparticularly a structural oppression and devaluation of the female gender. It is no coincidencethat nature itself is associated with the female: most of us have deep-ingrained connectionsbetween 'female', 'natural', 'animal', 'dirty', 'sexual' and 'wrong'. These ideas are not remotelynatural themselves, but are the product of a society which glorifies an equally unnaturalconstellation of 'male', 'technological', 'human', 'clean', 'intellectual' and 'right'.Sexism is always a powerful presence in therapy because, perhaps more than any other formof social control and oppression, it affects our
experience. As we have already hinted,many forms of 'symptom' or 'illness' can be understood as a
against imposed realities- against abuse of one sort or another. As therapists we want to side not with the parental role,either the 'good' or the 'bad' parent, but with the confused and damaged child itself, and withits never-ending struggle for loving contact This can often mean retranslating the 'problem'with which the client arrives into the beginning of a 'solution'; this is especially true when the'problem' is about someone's inability to conform to sexist criteria of normality.The therapy session is a very unusual sort of space, very different in many ways from'ordinary life'. One big difference is that the focus of both people's attention is on theexperience of one of them - the client. In one sense this makes the client powerful, central. Inanother way, it means that the therapist is not exposing her own pain and vulnerability, so shecan
always clear and strong. We regularly draw attention to this as we are givingtherapy, and make it apparent - without using the client's time for our own needs - that we toofeel weak, confused, armoured, stuck in childhood patterns, and so on.

During the session, we are not
these things. We have made a contract to focus on theclient, knowing that we are able in most situations to keep a clear perspective on our ownmaterial when it surfaces. But we couldn't do this if we weren't getting support ourselves atother times, opportunities to panic, fall apart, act irrationally, be totally selfish. We have ourown moments, many moments, of vulnerability and unclarity in our lives.We don't try to fool any client about this; in a sense we want to draw their attention to it aspart of the human context of our interaction. We will, however, avoid any tendency to turn thespotlight on us during the session, just as with any other avoidance of the client's own feelingsand experiences, except when it becomes necessary for both people to spend time sorting outthe origins of our own responses to the clientWhat happens in therapy, although different, cannot be separated off from the rest of life;which is basically a good thing, since otherwise it could hardly affect the rest of life. Oneaspect of this is that we are almost invariably taking money from clients for the work we do.This is necessary in order for us to live; and it also creates innumerable opportunities for badpower relationships.For some clients, the financial relationship increases their sense of the therapist'spowerfulness. Not only are we seeing into their souls, we're also taking their cash! There is asense, though, in which by paying us the client is asserting her control: her choice, in thesituation - she is acting as our .employer'. This too can be turned into a messy game. We havelearnt from bitter experience not to take at face value the client who says (often in utter goodfaith) 'That was such a good session, let me pay you extra.' What happens a few weeks laterwhen the developing relationship brings up
with a session?In some ways it might be simpler and cleaner if money did not have to change hands. Wedon't really subscribe to the convenient notion that 'clients wouldn't value the work if theydidn't have to pay for it'. At the same time, though, we live in a world where money is a vitalelement of exchange and survival, and therapy is to do with recognising reality. Also, thereare certainly advantages in having a therapeutic relationship in which the state has no role of subsidy - and therefore of control. We have not yet resolved the tension between our need fora reasonable standard of living and our desire to work with people irrespective of their levelof income. Group therapy provides a very partial solution, and we certainly see it as necessaryto at least try to offer some cheap sessions.The issue of money is just one of the many ways in which our practice of Reichian therapy isconstantly struggling with contradictions around issues of power. Although we are looking forcontact with our clients, and not aiming to withhold ourselves, we still set up very definiteboundaries - of time, of disclosure - and some people find these very unsatisfactory. Althoughwe see our work as having a 'public', political dimension, we are still working in 'private' andprofessional structures; still involved much of the time with the need to generate income, toattract punters!These contradictions are not going to disappear; like so many other problems in life, we aregoing to have to live with them. It feels important to admit that they are there, yet in eachsituation still to work concretely to move away from 'power-over' and towards 'power-for'.

... What we're pressing after now was oncenearer and truer and attached to uswith infinite tenderness. Here all is distance,there it was breath. Compared with that first homethe second seems ambiguous and draughty.
 Rainer Maria Rilke, The Duino ElegiesIn some ways this chapter belongs straight after those on 'character', but we have left it untilnow to give you a rest from trying to absorb ways of looking at people! It's helpful as well tohave some idea of what goes on in therapy in order to grasp these strange experiences whichemerge from it. The ideas in this chapter are not part of 'mainstream' Reichian work, but verymuch a later development; however, they grow largely out of things that happen to peopleduring Reichian sessions.At the end of Chapter 6, we talked a little about 'regression' and 'progression', which arebound up with the fact that, at every point in life, we are internally busy reinterpreting
the present in terms of the past and the past in terms of the present
.This is such an important concept that we want to pause for a moment for you to absorb it.We reinterpret the present in terms of the past, and the past in terms of the presentWe reinterpret the present in terms of the past This is one of the central points that therapymakes: past experience of pain and vulnerability will dispose us to react defensively to newexperiences - to assume that they are 'just the same' as what happened in the past. The burntchild dreads the fire. The system of character analysis is a way of finding patterns in thisprocess, which happens not just in our minds but equally in our bodies, Not all of the past ispainful, of course - experiences of joy, nurturing and safely will dispose us to approach thepresent openly and bravely.We reinterpret the past in terms of the present. This is a more difficult but perhaps equallyimportant idea. New experiences can and do break through into our awareness and reactivate,'wake up', experiences from the past which seem to have a similar structure; difficultexperiences which until now we have managed to tolerate, or positive experiences which wehave discounted. We are constantly, unconsciously, re-writing our stories, re-summing ourlives. This goes on all through adulthood, but especially in the early years when ourcharacteristic approach to existence, the underlying bodymind beliefs, are still being formed.If we can hold these two ideas firmly in mind, then it helps us see why it is that very much the
character types we have described are seen by many therapists and psychoanalysts asbeing established in the first weeks or months of life, rather than in the first six or seven yearsas we have argued. In fact, some people derive all these character positions from whathappens during birth itself - or even in the womb before birth.One can make out a vivid, plausible case for each of these viewpoints, just as we feel we havemade out a good case for the crucial role of developmental phases up to about seven. If wefocus on birth, or on early breastfeeding relationships, or on the details of conception,implantation and gestation, we see the same patterns, the same choices, clearly delineated


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #39 on: April 15, 2015, 07:57:16 am »
How extraordinary! Or is it? Right along our lifeline we are the same human organism, livingin the same universe, and one of our basic human capacities is to make patterns and to holdthose patterns through and across time.Freud very rightly says that in the unconscious there is
no time
; no past, no future. It is anillusion to imagine that because one event is 'earlier' on an individual's lifeline, it thereforecauses events which happen 'later'. Our internal pattern-maker is constantly adjusting, re-evaluating, totalising, synthesising, condensing, so as to create a new whole.Someone who is crushed by adult authority over the issue of toilet training, say, will patternthis experience together with that of being squeezed intolerably in the birth canal. Someonewho swallows their anger at age four because they are afraid to rage at their parents willsynthesise this guilt with their feelings of hating - yet also helplessly loving - their mother'sbreast at six months, with a sense of being poisoned in the womb by toxins from theirmother's bloodstream, or a sense of being 'fed rubbish' by a dogmatic therapist whom,nonetheless, they dare not alienate by criticism.As human beings, we use all our experiences as metaphors or examples of each other, creatingwhat the therapist Stanislav Grof calls 'COEX Systems' (systems of COndensed EXperience).We can imagine great balls of clustered memories and feelings, brought together around themagnetism of a shared theme, a primal 'colour' - loss, for example, or helplessness, orexpansion, or security. These COEX systems exist not just in our minds, but in our bodies, inthe patterns of bodily expectation and defence which constitute our armouring.We can make these difficult ideas more concrete by taking up an example that arises regularlyin our work, the experience of
.Many therapists and growth workers have discovered that it is fairly easy to facilitate abodymind experience in most people which to everyone involved will seem like a 'birth'. Weuse quotation marks because we don't believe that people are necessarily re-experiencing abirth that they actually
. We think more in terms of what we call a 'birth-shapedexperience'; and it really
birth-shaped, as many mothers, midwives and obstetricians cantestify who have witnessed and experienced it.There are many effective ways to set up a birthing experience, some much more elaboratethan others. What we ourselves generally do is to lay someone on a mattress, curled up ontheir side, with a blanket over them. One helper puts both hands on the crown of the birthee'shead and gives a gentle rhythmic pressure, another helper does the same with the feet, whileone or two more people lie on or against the birthee's body to give a sense of enclosure and pressure.

Then we wait - for as long as it takes. It is crucial that the birthing should be initiated andshaped by the birthee; only then will it feel like an authentic event Sometimes there will be along wait; nothing apparently happens, at least from the outside viewpoint There are a fewsmall movements under the blanket,, once or twice the breathing will deepen and strengthen,only to fade away again.Inside the 'womb', however, a great deal may be going on. The birthee moves in and out of analtered state of consciousness; many strange and confusing feelings, images and memoriesflow through them. Eventually, there develops a genuine urge to
, which has a trulyinvoluntary and spontaneous quality, and is generally preceded by a build-up of powerfulcircular breathing (breathing with no pause between inhale and exhale).Once the birthee begins to push, it is for the helpers to follow and match the impetus whichthey experience from the birthee; to judge with their bodies more than with their minds theamount of pressure and resistance which is needed, how 'hard' or 'easy' the birth needs to be,whether a 'midwife' needs to go in and pull the birthee out The experience becomesextraordinarily real and vivid for those taking part and when the 'baby' is finally 'born'between the legs of the helper who has been holding their head, and lies floppy and dazed onsomeone's lap, perhaps sucking at their hand, it is a moving, heart-opening experience, and itcan be hard to keep in mind that this newborn creature is in fact an adult woman or man.Birthing creates a magic space, an altered state for everyone involved. Only afterwards dopeople wake up and realise how far they have travelled from everyday reality. Suchexperiences carry their own conviction, and often have profound effects on the lives of thosewho pass through them, as they gain a new level of energy and joy in their lives, a more vividsense of reality, a sense of being truly reborn.

They will also often have learnt specific lessons from the birthing about their basic lifepatterns. They may now understand in a new way their tendency to push blindly throughdifficulties, or their constant urge to give up, or the feeling that 'no one's there for me', or thesense that something always goes wrong at the last minute.All these traits and many others can be illuminated by seeing them as generalisations whichwe have built up from our experience of being born. There are indeed times, as we haveexperienced when we have been dealing with a series of birthings in the course of our work,when
about life seems to reflect our birth! We become acutely sensitive to phraseslike 'a tight spot', cutting our ties', 'no way out', 'light at the end of the tunnel'.There are often quite specific details of the birthing which relate to obstetrical events: the cordround the neck, the breech presentation, the high forceps, the delayed breathing, the caesareansection - all these emergencies can be reproduced in a birthing. Sometimes they match wellwith the biographical facts - even when the birthee only consciously discovers the detailslater.At other times, though, the events of the birthing will be quite different from what actuallyhappened, and when we go through a second, or third, or subsequent birthing, it is often thecase that the whole shape of the experience will be quite different from the first time. It seemsthat each of us is 'programmed' with a whole series of births, from the most beautiful and joyful to the most horrifically life-threatening, and with a need to experience and release allthese births at different times.So what is going on here? No one really knows, but it appears that the crucial experience of being born - perhaps the first great crisis of life (though there are those who emphasiseconception and implantation) - remains as a kind of
for the child and adult, avocabulary of fundamental feeling-shapes through which we express the later events of life.Each subsequent crisis will summon up for our pattern-maker a particular aspect of birth:magnify it, altering the biographical reality, even develop a largely imaginary birth which willthen function in our bodymind as if it had really happened.This is speculation, but what we do know is that the 'birth-shaped experience' quite oftenhappens
in therapy, with no need for any setting up on the therapist's part. Wehave learnt in practice to spot the signs that a client is moving into such an experience: a needto push with their head and neck, statements like 'I feel there's something I have to getthrough' or 'something big is going on but I don't understand it': most of all a specificatmosphere, equivalent to the so-called epileptic aura, which is hard to describe but highlyrecognisable - a dreamlike, sleepy premonition which seems to fill the room. In suchsituations we simply offer our experience and our bodies as resources for the client to shapetheir own birthing, and save the analysis for afterwards.And, of course, these birth-shaped experiences happen in
. Most human cultures apart fromours have a formal place for 'rites of passage' to mark crucial transitions - puberty, marriage,death, initiation - and these are modelled on birth. The central figure goes down into a dark enclosed place and comes back up into life; is immersed in water; undergoes an ordeal. Evenwithout this ritual enactment we all experience crisis and transition as a death and rebirth,passing through a strait and narrow place.

Another set of images which come up both in and out of therapy are clustered around theumbilical cord and its cutting: ideas of being
to someone or something - fed bythem or helplessly poisoned with bad stuff, ideas of being cut off, abandoned, irretrievablydamaged. 'Cord-shaped experiences' recur in a variety of situations, and seem to set off reactions which are outside our conscious control.Again, such themes are anchored in our
. Massaging around the navel can bring up verypowerful feelings, especially of rage and grief, and also fear of falling - our basic sense of grounding seems to be anchored in the umbilical connection, only later being transferred tothe legs and the earth. After someone has been birthed and is lying peacefully in a helper'sarms, there is often a moment of sudden shock, pain and disorientation which seems torepresent the cutting of the cord - often done brutally soon, before it has naturally stoppedpulsing as the breath takes over. Almost everyone who goes through the birthing experienceemerges as a convert to natural childbirth and as an opponent of high-tech obstetrics.Another very striking feature of the birth-shaped experience is that, time and again, itspontaneously throws up 'past life memories'. Once more, the quotation marks are to indicatethat we are not assuming these indicate a 'real' previous incarnation, simply that after birthingmany people emerge with clear and strong images of being someone else in another time andplace. These images very often parallel the birthing experience itself - for example, someonemay envision a death by strangling during a birthing where breathing is difficultThis sort of experience can be very startling - even annoying to a person who is scepticalabout reincarnation! But like birthing itself, past life imagery can be useful in helping peopleto make sense of and resolve present issues, helping them create a coherent 'story of themselves'. It is also possible to become addicted to past life material as a way of avoidingbodywork, for example, or emotional work on what is going on in the here-and-now.We have taken up birthing as an example of a much more general reality: the way in whichour bodymind holds the memory of every crisis and transition in our lives, and constantlyreinterprets each event in terms of every other event, creating dumps or clusters of imagery onthe mental level which exist physically as organisations of tension in the muscles of the body.Accompanying these tension patterns are vivid and elaborate body-fantasies, which oftenemerge in the course of therapy.For example, someone may experience themselves as being eaten up to the neck by a greatsnake-worm-monster - which is the body itself threatening to consume the ego-observer. Orthey may experience their limbs as paralysed or amputated; they may sense a **** in theirthroat or rectum; they may feel as though they have a baby inside their womb or their chest,their head might balloon out to a vast size, or their whole body become minute; they may floatoff the ground or sink through it. Again, there may be vivid 'past life' experiences of torture orviolent death. All of these are real examples from our clients or ourselves; all, howeverbizarre they may seem, are perfectly normal and healthy. This is the 'language' in which ourbodymind unconscious 'thinks' and 'speaks'; often it needs to be explored in order to heal ourwounds.We want to close this rather brief survey with a very different form of 'primal pattern'. Wehave seen how the seed-form of a person's characteristic attitudes can be sought further andfurther back in their personal history - in birth, conception, and even previous lives (and wehave questioned whether 'earlier' in this context means 'more basic'). But there is another form

of pre-history which helps to shape our lives: the history of our family, and the characteristicthemes and questions handed down and restated from generation to generation.We cannot be sure of the mechanism by which we inherit our family themes. There is theobvious effect of childhood experiences, but there often seems to be something morefundamental, more mysterious, at work - 'inherited memory' inscribed in the cells themselves?Certainly it is not uncommon for someone to have a recurring issue or image in their lifewhich relates directly to an experience, not of their own, but of a parent. In a very generalsense we have inherited the unresolved issues of our parents' lives, issues which they maywell have inherited from their parents, and so on back.Through their upbringing, children will tend either to reproduce their parents' armouring - aswhen oppressive toilet training in her childhood leads a mother to be equally rigid with herchildren because she has internalised the need for rules; or else they will tend to react
 the parental pattern - as when a father's thrusting character sets up a panicked crisis reaction inhis child.The parents' own patterns are a reproduction of or reaction to their own parents; with eachgeneration a new synthesis is created from the new couple - who, of course, are attracted toeach other partly by their corresponding character armour.Yet couples are also attracted to each other by the intuitively sensed possibility of helpingeach other towards
. However horrific the 'family theme', there is always thepossibility of resolving it, of bringing it to an end, of bringing out its creative side. Theextreme case is the family which abuses its children down through the generations, each childgrowing up to reproduce blindly its own agony. Even here it is as if the children are sent forthon their parents' behalf to try to do better; as if the parents are silently saying 'You do what wecouldn't do; you bring this family process to a close.'The same is true in the more ordinary and less horrific family situations, where there might bean inherited theme of guilt or of struggling to 'better oneself, or of separation, or of siblingstruggle. Every family is a problem looking for a solution; every family member is an elementin both the problem
the solution, elected to that role and usually unable to resign from itAnd until the process is completed the issue will re-seed and reproduce itself - because that isthe only way to avoid definitive failure. The very continuation of the family theme is a questfor its resolution, and this is the basis for hope in the family pattern which may otherwiseseem utterly helpless, the individual bound hand and foot into a 'family curse'.The set of patterns within which we as individuals live are rather like a hologram: each partcontains within itself the whole, as the pattern-maker constantly re-synthesises our life storyout of each new development.Reichian work chooses to focus on the developmental phases of the first six or eight yearsknowing that this is not the whole story, that by the time we pass through these stages a greatdeal has already happened in our personal history and pre-history. We bring a lot of experience with us as we face these developmental thresholds, and this affects how we dealwith them. Watching our own baby daughter, for instance, we have seen her manifest thewhole sequence of phases within her first eighteen months.

What seems most important is the
- that wavelike streaming of energy down fromthe head to tail which repeats itself many times from conception to death just as it recursconstantly in the therapeutic process. It is relatively easy for a child to pass through a wholesequence in infancy, as our own daughter has, or even within the womb, without significantarmouring.What seems virtually impossible within our culture is for a child to pass the threshold of socialisation and gender, the 'Crisis' stage, without being wounded. The nature of the child'sresponse to this crisis, the style of armouring which she or he develops, will be decided bytheir
history so far, by all the crises and challenges they have already faced.Unless we meet with definite mishap, we may emerge from infancy with only minor scars toface the issues of gender identity and socialisation. It is how we deal with
issues, withthe unnatural demands which society imposes on our 'original nature', that sets the seal on ourapproach to creativity, contact, openness, surrender.

We are all struggling; none of us has gone far. Let your arrogance go, and look around inside.The blue sky opens out farther and farther,the daily sense of failure goes away,the damage I have done myself fades,the million suns come forward with light when 1 sit firmly in that world. I hear bells ringing that no one has shaken,inside 'love' there is more than we know of,rain pours down, although the sky is clear of clouds,there are whole rivers of light.The universe is shot through in all parts by a single sort of love. How hard it is to feel that joy in all our four bodies!
 Robert Bly, The Kabir Book The work we have described opens people up to a whole range of new experiences, new andmore intense emotions, new bodily sensations, new thoughts and understandings. It alsoopens us up, in many cases, to experiences which are generally referred to as 'psychic','spiritual' and 'supernatural'. Discovering these experiences through therapy helps us realisethat such things are in fact profoundly
, a part of our birthright walled off from us bythe barrier of our armouring, sealed away in the distant, magical world of rememberedchildhood.


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #40 on: April 15, 2015, 07:57:59 am »
99It would appear that as babies and children we do not suffer from the illusion of being totallyseparate beings. We exist as a particular 'place' or 'focus' in the field of existence; energy anddesire sweep
us, move us, and move on. The 'spastic ego' develops partly in order toprotect this wide-open quality from the madness, hate and pain we find around us - to create awalled garden in the desert of patriarchal culture.
The tragic paradox is that putting a wall around the garden also cuts it off from its sources of life. Separateness is itself an illusion, an insanity; the barriers we put up to defend our naturallove and joyfulness also defend us against nature itself. Isolation preserves our sanity, but alsodrives us mad.This is simply a restatement in more 'metaphysical' language of what we have been sayingthroughout the book. Life energy naturally
- and our skin does not constitute aboundary to that movement. One of the forms that this streaming of energy takes is the humanneed and desire for contact: contact with other humans, with our own internal life, and withthe natural world around us. But that natural world is much larger and fuller than our walled-off adult perceptions suggest.As we grow up, our perceptions are trained by what we are
to see, hear and feel.When children show awareness of beings and forces which are invisible to the adults aroundthem, those adults usually respond with fear ('there's something wrong with our child'), anger('stop telling fibs') and incomprehension. As with sexuality, the child learns that this area of life is dangerous and not to be talked about In the long run, she usually learns
to see - andto half-forget that she ever could see.When during therapy the armouring softens and starts to dissolve, so our barrier against the'psychic' becomes softer and leakier; we begin to 'pick things up', to be more in touch withother people's thoughts and feelings, just as we are more in touch with our own. 'Pickingthings up' can happen in many other circumstances, especially with the use of certain drugs;some people do it all their lives. The focus on and trust in our own inner life which Reichianwork develops will help dissolve intellectual assumptions about what we experience, andstrengthen our grounded belief in what actually
happen. Rather than keeping 'psychic'experiences in a separate compartment of life, either as 'fantasy' or 'special', we are able tointegrate them with the rest of life.This sphere of perception is in fact profoundly
, an unacknowledged part of allhuman interaction. People can get into a real confusion of paranoia and self-importance if they fail to recognise this ordinariness - to recognise that 'extrasensory perception' flowers outof the five senses, and no authentic distinction can be drawn between the two any more than aline can be drawn on our neck to separate head from body.All the great teaching systems explain that 'psychic powers' are essentially a side-effect of something else, and that something else is what people often call 'spirituality'; the truerealisation of the unity of all being. As it grows in us, not just as a head idea but as a
,this knowledge brings up all our fear of deep contact. Psychics, spirituality, make us awarethat we are not in fact separate beings, isolated egos in bags of skin. This is simultaneously agreat joy and a great terror; the ego-illusion of separateness struggles to cling on, to saveitself, to maintain the pretence.You may notice a similarity between what we are saying here and our description in Chapters4 and 6 of the eye segment and the Boundary character. It is when we are born that we have toface most starkly and brutally these issues of separation and openness. In the womb, thefoetus is in a state of confluence with the mother's body; 'cosmic unity' is a bodily experience.At birth we must deal simultaneously with
- being cut off from our mother - andwith
on sensory, physical and psychic levels. As we have said, Boundary characters,who are constantly dealing with these issues, are also often very sensitive to energy and to


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #41 on: April 15, 2015, 08:03:29 am »
psychic phenomena. Because they tend also to be ungrounded, however, separate from theirown bodies and terrified of invasion, their perception of psychic events tends to be confusedand mixed with fantasy and paranoia.The boundary position in each of us reacts in a similar way to the realisation of unity: it seeksto protect its barriers. There is the danger of what Chogyam Trungpa calls 'spiritualmaterialism'- an empty parody of genuine openness in which the ego is secretlycongratulating itself on having 'let go of the ego'. It is fearfully easy either to become puffedup with your incredible psychic talent, or else to give the whole thing away to 'God' or tosome guru in a pompous and insipid religiosity which is a defence against the simple here-and-now reality.Both giving and receiving therapy seem to us forms of active meditation. They are aboutconstantly letting go, constantly coming back to the core, to simplicity, to what is. For both of us, at the moment, there is a special sense of connection with Buddhism, in particular withTibetan Vajrayana Buddhism and its roots in shamanic tradition.Shamanism is the archaic psychic tradition of our planet, which survives in essentially similarforms in many tribal cultures. With its focus on the body, on symbolic death and rebirthprocesses, on energy, on transformation, Reichian therapy is a thoroughly shamanic form of healing. As we go on with the work, it is sometimes as if we are discovering and re-owningall the ancient healing traditions of the world.This was very much what happened to Reich himself - though he unfortunately lacked thebackground knowledge to realise it. Following through his clear and honest perceptions of energy in nature, he ended up totally out on a limb as far as 1950s Western culture wasconcerned; a true witch doctor, creating rain, distributing magical objects, exorcising, andalchemically processing exotic substances. Tragically, he went on insisting that his work was'scientific', appealing for recognition from a scientific community which was hostile toeverything he represented.What we can most easily relate to in Reich's later explorations is his emphasis on the unity of nature and on our role as natural beings. He had a tremendous vision of the streaming of energy in the cosmos, the galaxies, the oceans, the weather - and in our own bodies. He saw itas the
energy, following the same patterns, the same dance. Although Reich condemned'mysticism' - by which he meant flight from bodily reality - his own vision is in the best sensea truly mystical one.Yet it is also highly concrete, and grew out of some very real and functional discoveries.'Orgone' is not simply some vaguely uplifting notion, but an energy that can be directly
byanyone who takes the trouble.The simplest form of orgone device consists of several alternating layers of wool (such as anold blanket - not synthetic) and steel wool (the sort of stuff brillo pads are made of, obtainablefrom most hardware shops). This multi-layer sandwich is enclosed, for convenience, in a thincotton cushion-cover. You will find that a distinct energy emanates from the top layer of steelwool; experienced by many people as warmth and tingling, it takes a few minutes to build upif you sit on the cushion or put your hand on it, a sensation which develops into a sense of 'fullness' and a natural desire to stop.

Many people have to train themselves to recognise orgone, but once we tune in to it thesensation is very recognisable - and closely akin to feelings we have during bodywork sessions. This is a natural life energy, which the cushion concentrates rather than creating.Children often sense the energy immediately, since they have no reason to think there'sanything odd about itOrgone energy in this form - a simple 'orgone accumulator'- charges up an organism. It isuseful for states of exhaustion and lowness, the sort of time wheat we're vulnerable to coldsand flu, and its use helps cuts, burns and so on to heal faster.
 Don't take our word for it
- try itfor yourself! Note that someone who is already
charged will probably get a headache orother unpleasant effects from using the cushion. It shouldn't be applied to sensitive areas likehead and heart for more than a few minutes, and when not in use it should be kept with the'active' (steel wool) side face down or folded in on itself. Do not use the accumulator aroundcolour TV, strip lighting, etc. - it will also concentrate this sort of energy.The accumulator works much better, and produces a more pleasant feeling, on clear, fresh,blue-sky days, since it condenses and concentrates the energy which is in the atmospherealready. If the weather is oppressive and polluted, then so is the orgone energy. This is howReich was led into working directly on the weather with other orgone devices - the'cloudbuster' as he rather unfortunately named it, which we prefer to call a 'cloudmelter'. Thisimplausible Buck Rogers mechanism, according to all the available evidence, actually works...We don't want to be drawn too far into the wonders of orgone physics, but we do want tomake it clear that devices like this, unlike orthodox Western technology, cannot be separatedfrom the feeling state of the people using them. In order to work effectively with the weather,a person needs to be in a sufficiently clear and open state to
the condition of theatmosphere, to perceive how blocked or mobile it is - in fact, to give it a therapy session!It seems to us that orgone may be not so much
life energy as a particular form of lifeenergy. As Reich describes it, and as we ourselves experience it, orgone has some quitespecific characteristics. It has a special relationship with water, which is why it links withwater vapour in the atmosphere, and also why it 'streams', 'pools', 'condenses' and so on. It

.flows along the length of the human body, and is deeply bound up with orgasm. Other worldtraditions describe other types of life energy with properties which are similar but
 identical: 'prana', chi' and so on cannot simply be identified with orgone, or with each other.Similarly, just because many of the great healing systems describe energy centres in roughlythe same areas of the body, it is not right to claim that they are all the same. The numbers,positions and descriptions of 'chakras' (a term from the yogic system only) can vary quiteconsiderably. At the same time, though, it is rather striking how closely our system of
parallels the yogic system of

Using Reichian work there are many other ways in which we re-contact concepts andexperiences which are a familiar part of esoteric systems from around the world. We start toperceive and to work with the aura - the energy field surrounding the physical body, which isoften more easily sensed in the hands than seen with the eyes. We become sensitive to earthenergy, the force used by dowsers and the builders of stone circles and other ancient sacredsites. Many of these have an energy which is very reminiscent of orgone, and some at least arebuilt on a similar principle of 'layering'. From Reichian therapy we can move in all sorts of directions into a new, rich universe.We must however emphasise the
of Reichian work, with its stress on beinggrounded in our own immediate experience, and in the reality of the body, from most esoteric,psychic and spiritual groupings. It is perilously easy even for experienced Reichians to 'takeflight', to soar off into ungrounded fantasies and delusions as a means of avoiding the anxietyof authentic contact. Reich himself, in the last years of his life, seems to some extent to havelost touch with the commonsense ordinariness of life. It's also very easy to enter into apassionately enthusiastic transference relationship with some teacher or guru which youwould never be able to leave unexamined with your therapist!The teaching systems of the East in particular seem to rely on and use the positivetransference relationship between disciple and guru as a means to an end, building up anintensity of need and fear which finally enables the disciple to break through to another levelof understanding. It is hardly for us to question this process when properly carried out, butsuch worship and surrender is clearly open to profound abuse in the hands of a teacher whoseown selfish ego, whose own character blocks, are still in command.Seen from the more metaphysical viewpoint that we are using in this chapter, the underlyingtheme of the work we do is
: choosing to be here, to be a body, with all the painfulawkwardness and recalcitrance of the physical world. As we have said, it is often at birth thatwe most brutally face the pain of incarnation, and may wish - and try - not to be here. Butincarnation is not something we do only once - it is a commitment that must be renewed overand over again as each crisis and challenge encourages us to retreat from life, to take refuge inillusions and fantasies.Connection with the cosmos is not a matter of floating off into visions, but of engaging withthejoy and beauty of the real world - making our visions into reality. We have each chosen tobe here; and our 'mission' seems to be to do with incarnating as much as possible of the beautywe can sense and imagine. Human beings are like trees, rooted in the ground, branchesreaching up into the sky, trunk joining the two into a unity. Some people need to be anchoredmore strongly in the physical world; others need to be 'lifted' into greater awareness of thesubtle, spiritual dimension of life. The goal is always ultimate wholeness.Entering into this therapy doesn't commit you to believing in fairies and flying saucers! Thework helps to put each person more in touch with their own authentic experience, enablingthem at every point to
test out
what they are told, and what they seem to perceive, to an extentwhich is unusual in our brainwashed and beglamoured society. Letting go of compulsivedefences, letting go of the cloud of anxiety which usually stands between us and the world,allows each of us to make our own choices about what to believe and what to explore.

To remain whole, be twisted!To become straight, let yourself be bent.To become full, be hollow. Be tattered, that you may be renewed.Those that have little, may get more.Those that have much, are but perplexed.Therefore the SageClasps the Primal Unity.
 Lao Tse, Tao Te ChingThe style of working with people which we have described is a form of psychotherapy; it isalso, as we have tried to make clear, a political and a spiritual practice; but above all, we see itas a form of
, linked with the many methods and techniques being discovered andrediscovered at the present time as part of the 'alternative healing', 'alternative medicine'movement. We very much identify with that movement, and see our work as within the greatstream of human energy, going back to the Old Stone Age, which understands healing assomething done with humans rather than with illnesses, a process of
making whole
rather thanthe elimination of troublesome symptoms.It is time to explain how we see our work within the whole web of healing and therapeuticpractices; which approaches are our natural allies and complements; to explore some possiblelines of distinction and disagreement; and to clarify how we see our own potentialcontribution to the practice of healing.It seems to us that healing takes place essentially through a
. The relationship isoften primarily that between client and healer, which comes to stand for the relationshipbetween the client and the world. This is the process which we have described in Chapter 8 as'transference', and we believe that it arises in every form of healing work. Healing stronglyencourages 'parent/child' interactions: I am coming to you for help; asking you to kiss itbetter, to feed me, to look after me, with all the positive and negative feelings that stirs up inme, all the love and the rebellion. Equally, this will stir up in you all sorts of positive andnegative parental feelings about me.As we, have argued in Chapter 8, these feelings can be an obstacle to the healing process, butmore deeply they are a unique opportunity to examine the issues at the heart of the client'sproblem - their deep feelings about power, dependency, safety, incarnation itself. A healerwho cannot or will not recognise and work with these issues of relationship is severelyhandicapped. It will be hard for them to see clearly what is going on in the healing process,the underlying transactions behind the surface. They will find it difficult to understand whysome clients 'get better' and others don't; what their
needs and demands are doing to thehealing work. The theory of transference is one of the biggest contributions that our style of work can make to the whole field of healing.It comes out of the Freudian roots of Reichian therapy, and it is still possible to understandwhat we do as a form of psychoanalysis - though a very mutated form. Our concern is stillwith the unconscious memories of childhood traumas and the unconscious structures of defence which they have created. The role of breathing in Reichian work is, in one way, very
106similar to the role of free association in classical analysis, the analyst says just say whatevercomes up' and watches the blocks to this process, while the Reichian says just breathe freely'and watches the blocks to
process.Within the range of psychotherapies, however, we would identify at least as strongly with thecluster of styles and practices known as 'humanistic psychology'. Some of the differencesbetween this and classical psychoanalysis are an emphasis on the client's own responsibilityand empowerment; an attitude of 'whatever works' rather than strictly defined techniques; anda focus on the 'here-and-now' rather than on past history. This last theme is identified mostoften with Fritz Perls' Gestalt Therapy: it is very much a position we share - that there willalways be more to uncover about the past, always more old pain to 'get out', and that the realhealing comes from letting go of the past and moving on.The influences here work both ways. The whole of humanistic psychology has been verymuch influenced by Reich's work, so that in a sense our fusion of the two represents 'whatReich might have done if he had lived into the 1980s'. Or so we would like to think! Inpractice, Reich was very much committed to the idea of the therapist-as-expert, and evenbelieved that only medical doctors should give therapy. In any case, the influence is strong;Fritz Perls, in particular, derived more of his ideas than are generally realised from Reich'swork - and we in turn use several of Perls' techniques.This 'here-and-now' emphasis is the mental and verbal expression of what we have describedas the theme of
. But incarnation, of course, means 'coming to be in the flesh', andit is through
that a person can most strongly confront, and change, their resistanceto being here and now, can make a new commitment to facing and resolving the problems of life. Although we may quite often not touch a person during a therapy session, or evendirectly engage with their bodylife, it is always a crucial foundation to the work we do. Wefeel that purely verbal therapies are handicapped in facilitating deep change.There are many forms of bodywork available these days, and although Reich was the firstperson to link bodywork into psychotherapy many people have independently since made thesame breakthrough. There are also several schools of bodywork directly descended fromReich's work apart from our own - historically speaking they are our cousins. These schoolsoften refer to themselves, or are referred to by others, as 'neo-Reichian'. We'd like to say alittle bit about two of these: Bioenergetics and Postural Integration.Bioenergetics, developed by Alexander Lowen (a therapist of immense wisdom and love whostudied with and received therapy from Reich), is in some ways very close to our own work.Some important differences are that Bioenergetics focuses more on a standing, 'verticallygrounded' position rather than a lying down, 'horizontally grounded' one, and that it worksmore with postures and exercises than with direct touch. Both of these features put anemphasis on qualities of independence, assertiveness and control, rather than on surrender andacceptance - a different route to the same goal.Postural Integration is a deep restructuring of the body's connective tissue which surroundseach muscle and muscle group: it argues that until the connective tissue is made supple andflexible it is not physically possible for muscles to relax and lengthen. Postural Integration isprofoundly influenced by Reichian ways of seeing, and emphasises the role of the breath and of armouring.

A big difference between our own work and Postural Integration - and even more so withRolfing, another form of deep massage restructuring - is that we try very hard to avoid aconcept of how someone
be: to avoid offering a model, either implicit or explicit- of how a person
to breathe,
to stand,
to move. In practice, of course, thedifference is only one of emphasis; we do have a very strong sense of the difference betweenhealth and unhealth, while any good practitioner respects the uniqueness of each individual.There is, however, a big difference between the programmatic approach of an essentially
system like Postural Integration, and our own work's focus on opening up to ourown core, to our innate capacity for growth and healing. This is the bodywork level of whatbecomes on other levels a stress on the unconscious wisdom of the individual, and its capacityto find the right path if our ego 'gets out of the way'.What in practice happens, in the course of therapy - what has happened many times to each of us - is that we begin to experience an
sense of 'not being right' in our bodies. We sense a
to be helped in expanding, lengthening, straightening, softening. This, it seems to us, isthe point at which it is fruitful to find a remedial practitioner of one sort or another, the pointat which our bodymind is ready and able to accept and use this new way of holding ourselves,rather than immediately 'snapping back' into the old shape. Without emotional change,physical change won't stick; equally, without physical change emotional change won't stick.We have discovered some forms of 'remedial' work which are tremendously gentle and subtlein style, encouraging and allowing growth rather than pushing the individual. The AlexanderTechnique is a non-invasive approach to opening us out into a more natural and relaxedposture, an effortless way of being in the world; in many ways it seems the perfectcomplement to Reichian work, approaching the same goals from the opposite direction. Itmay well be that Alexander practitioners also have something to learn from a therapy whichinvolves emotional release. Tai Ch'i, though not a therapy (and indeed the AlexanderTechnique doesn't see itself as a therapy), is another gentle and enormously powerful way of aligning us with subtle energy flows, teaching us to make less and less effort to achieve betterand better results. And the Feldenkrais Method seems to be a third, independent style of working with the same principles of non-effort, not-doing, going with the flow.If we feel slightly cautious about remedial bodywork which in some of its forms can simplyintroduce a whole new lot of tensions to cover up and mask the original ones, then we feel alot more dubious about methods of 'remedial mindwork'. By this we mean all the vast range of therapies and 'positive thinking' techniques which aim to alter our thoughts and behaviour tomatch a conscious ideal.The most obvious example of this is 'behaviour modification', a set of tricks and techniqueswhich can be highly effective in removing symptoms like phobias, compulsions, blushing,and so on. Certainly, such methods are a lot less harmful than alternatives like drugging orECT, but we are convinced that what is going on here is
, a suppression of symptomsrather than working with the problem which those symptoms
. Just as allopathicmedicine, by suppressing the symptoms of a deep problem, make it harder and harder for thebody to heal itself, so behaviour modification techniques can make it harder and harder forreal emotional healing to take place.There are other versions of behaviour modification with a very different image andappearance; these work with affirmations, with visualisation, with positive thinking. Most of these techniques assert that 'we create our own reality'.

There is very deep truth in this statement, but there is also often a very superficial illusion. We
create our own reality; we can identify and let go of the negative 'scripts' and assumptionsthrough which we constantly recreate our own suffering. But we can also impose a layer of illusion
on top of
an inner negativity, a quite false and unlived positivity which is the mentalequivalent of a new layer of physical tensions masking the original problem.What all these systems have in common is a tinkerer's approach to the human unconscious,seeing it as a box of tricks where one has only to press the right button, to find the rightswitch, in order to achieve the desired goal. The bodymind unconscious is the source of ourwisdom and the source of our life; physical or emotional symptoms of dis-ease are messagesthat our conscious behaviour is out of balance, and that we need to return to the source - not tofind some simple and effortless way of
to feel better.We are not saying, of course, that all work with affirmations and positive visualisation isdamaging. In fact, we use these techniques a lot ourselves. But what is vital is to check outour response to the new message o
n all levels
; never to suppress an inner resistance or denial,but to give it all the space it needs to express and discharge itself. As with remedialbodywork, such techniques are only healing when the emotional space exists to make use of them.The idea of
seems to come up over and over again in our work: the need to create andallow a physical, emotional, mental, spiritual spaciousness in which we can let things be, letourselves be, rather than trying to tinker all the time. The need for real change, both inourselves and in the world, can then flower out of space and quietness.Apart from the specifically 'neo-Reichian' approaches, one form of growth work with whichwe feel a special connection is Rebirthing, or 'conscious connected breathing', which iscentred on a simple and powerful bodily technique: encouraging clients to breathecontinuously in and out with no break between breaths, focusing high in the chest, andkeeping breathing no matter what feelings and thoughts come up. This is an amazinglypowerful technique, highly effective in many ways in releasing blocks and coming through to joyous, streaming sensations and spacious attitudes.Rebirthers combine conscious connected breathing with a quite elaborate set of
aboutwhich we are less enthusiastic, and which seem in many ways quite separate from thebreathing technique itself. It is as if Rebirthing has become a sort of grab-bag of whatevernotions and methods its founders and developers have come across, simply throwing them alltogether rather than incorporating new ideas around the central theme. The breathingtechnique itself, however, is very valuable, and we sometimes incorporate it into our ownwork. It brings people into contact with their core resistances very quickly, and also intocontact with their of health. In fact it is a way of breathing which often happensspontaneously, a deeply natural way of releasing trauma that one can often see in small babiesand in animals. Our own daughter 'cleared' the effects of her birth by repeatedly Rebirthingherself in the first months of life, and still goes back to this breathing in times of stress andillness.We would also like to mention Polarity Therapy, an approach based on Indian Ayurvedicmedicine which combines bodywork, energy balancing, nutrition and psychotherapy in acomplex and powerful synthesis. From our own experience of receiving Polarity sessions, it is

..working with the same body energy as Reichian therapy - though there are differences in howthis energy is understood.In relating our own approach to other healing and therapeutic techniques we find that in somecases we can pick up and use elements of other approaches, adapting them to our own needs.In other cases a healing system feels more self-contained, as if one either has to work withinthat worldview or leave it be - thus we might recommend a client to go off and work withanother practitioner, either temporarily or indefinitely.To some extent we are increasingly moving away from the 'Reichian' label as our work whilestill in tune with Reich's essential vision of the world, becomes less and less like anything hehimself did. We have to take on, as well, the fact that Reich himself came to despair of theeffectiveness of individual therapy, saying that a twisted tree cannot be straightened, and thatthe only hope was to work with infants and with the orgone energy systems of theatmosphere.It is true that a twisted tree cannot be straightened; it is true also that a human being can neverhave their past experiences
nor the imprint of those experiences on their bodymind.But this does not strike us as a cause for despair. Sometimes we feel like despairing - as musteveryone who has any sensitivity to what is happening in the world. But even a twisted treecan thrive and blossom, can take joy and heart in its own strength and survival, and can sendforth seedlings with the chance of growing straighter and more joyfully still. This assumesthat straightness is in the nature of the tree, and maybe humans are more like hawthorns,whose grace is in their twistedness as it reflects the elemental forces which have shaped them.Individual therapy and healing, as well as having an intrinsic value, are contributions to thegreat work of healing our planet, and healing our relationship with our planet. How can wefree our energies enough to work effectively at this daunting project?This book constitutes one possible answer to that question. A part of dealing with our despairabout the planet's future, as Joanna Macy has argued, is to face that despair, to reach downinto the grief and fear, to reach through to the underlying wellsprings of creative action. Thereare profound connections between our feelings about the planet and our feelings about ourindividual history. If we are sensitive to the poisoning of the biosphere, is this because itresonates with the poisoning of our own feelings and energy? If we fear explosion anddestruction, is this connected with fear of our own repressed anger and excitement?Of course, there are real objective threats, and it is precisely in order to be able to face themthat we need to look at our own material. In fact, we can even understand the great arsenals of potential annihilation as themselves the
of armouring, of repression - human orgasmicenergy, with its secondary violence and hatefulness, all exported and projected into TheBomb, because we cannot acknowledge and befriend these forces within ourselves.Thus growth work can be a force for good in the wider world, as well as in the individualinteraction of client and therapist But it can also be a force for evil. There are manytechniques discovered or rediscovered by figures in the 'growth movement' which arepowerfully effective in changing people's attitudes and behaviour, but which are inthemselves value-free, equally effective in producing almost
sort of change. Thetransference relationship can become discipleship; the crisis and surrender which can beprofoundly healing can also be the collapse and self-loss of brainwashing.

.Many therapies, and not just the dramatic cultish ones, are devoted to brainwashing. They seetheir role as one of 'normalisation', turning their clients and patients back into ordinary,passive members of society who will then play by the accepted rules, even if those rules aredestructive to life and creativity.With any growth technique it is right and sensible to ask: What is your vision? How do yousee human beings, and their place in nature? What sort of society do you want to live in, andhow do you want to move towards it? A large number of growth practitioners, it seems, areunable or unwilling to answer these fundamental questions. In this book. as well as trying toshare our techniques and insights, we have attempted to offer

This is only a small selection of possible literature: the bibliographies in some of the books byand about Reich will give you further directions. Works listed in relation to one chapter willoften be relevant to other chapters as well. but each book is only mentioned once.
Chapter 1: Contexts
 The two major biographies of Reich - both by practising therapists - are:
Fury on Earth
Myron Sharaf (Sidgwick and Jackson)
Wilhelm Reich: His Life and Work
David Boadella (Arkana)Also useful on Reich:
 Reich for Beginners
, David Zane Mairowitz (Writers and Readers)A cartoon account, enjoyable and essentially accurate, leaning over backwards to be fair evenagainst the author's own beliefs
 A Book of Dreams
, Peter Reich (Paladin)A strange, moving account by Reich's son of life with him in his last years, and then of dealing with his death.On the work and ideas:
Selected Writings
, Wilhelm Reich (Touchstone Press)
 Melting Armour
, William West (self-published, available from 12 Torbay Rd, ManchesterM212 8XD, England)A pamphlet outlining the style of work we look at in this book, intended to help peopleexchange sessions.
Wilhelm Reich and Orgonomy
, Ola Raknes (Pelican)On Reich's origins in psychoanalysis see:
The Water in the Glass: Body and Mind in Psychoanalysis
, Nick Totton (Rebus Press)
Chapter 2: Energy and Armour
The Function of the Orgasm
, Wilhelm Reich (Condor Books)Reich's own intellectual autobiography, charting the development of his work up to the mid- 1940s, and giving a relatively readable account of his central ideas.Three explorations of energy and armour by leading 'neo-Reichian' therapists:
, Alexander Lowen (Penguin)

 Emotional Anatomy
, Stanley Keleman (Center Press)
 Lifestreams: An Introduction to Biosynthesis
, David Boadella (Routledge and Kegan Paul)
Freud for Beginners
, Appignanesi and Zarate (Writers and Readers)
Children of the Future
, Wilhelm Reich (Farrar Strauss Giroux)Brings together all Reich's writings about armouring in infants and children.
Chapter 3: Surrender
Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective
, Mark Epstein(Duckworth)
Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (Shambhala)
Fundamentals of Co-Counselling Manual
, Harvey Jackins (Rational Island Press)
Chapter 4: The Segments
 Two examples from the wide range of books available on body-patterns, each giving a similarbut somewhat different version of the segments:
The Body Reveals
, Ron Kurtz and Hector Prestera (Harper and Row)
, Ken Dychtwald (Jove Books)
 Better Eyesight without Glasses
, W.H. Bates (Mayflower/Granada)A marvellous classic relating physical/emotional/spiritual aspects of vision.
The Alexander Principle
, Wilfred Barlow (Arrow)One of several good books available on the technique, which particularly illuminates thehead/neck/back relationship.
The Way to Vibrant Health
, Alexander and Leslie Lowen (Harper Colloquion)A collection of body exercises based on neo-Reichian principles.
, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (Shambhala)
The Human Ground
, Stanley Keleman (Center Press)
Chapter 5: Growing Up
 Probably the best material on these themes is in novels and stories, especially about childhoodand adolescence.By far the best book on infancy, and one which is very exciting from a Reichian point of view, is:
The Interpersonal World of the Infant
, Daniel Stern (Basic Books)Two helpful books about children's experience:
The Child's Discovery of the Mind
, Janet Wilde Astington (Fontana
Children's Minds
, Margaret Donaldson (Fontana)We have also learned a lot from the psychoanalytic ideas of D W Winnicott; for anintroduction, try
, Adam Phillips (Fontana Modern Masters.

.112Another highly stimulating therapy text, although we disagree with some of its stances, is
The Road Less Travelled
, M. Scott Peck (Hutchinson)
Chapters 6 and 7: Character
Character Analysis
, Wilhelm Reich (Touchstone)Two excellent neo-Reichian treatments:
 Hakomi Therapy
, Ron Kurtz ( Life Rhythm)
The Language of the Body.
Alexander Lowen (Collier)
Characterological Transformation
, Stephen M Johnson (Norton)In this and several other volumes, Johnson offers a synthesis of character theory andAmerican ego psychology. We strongly disagree with some of his positions, but this isprobably the fullest account of character yet produced.
Chapter 8: Therapy
 There are case histories and accounts of therapeutic work in all of the books listed by Reichhimself. As accounts of the therapeutic process in general rather than our particular style wewould recommend:
Other Women
, Lisa Alther (Penguin)
 Me and the Orgone
, Orson Bean
Working with the Dreaming Body
, Arnold Mindell (Routledge and Kegan Paul)
 In Search of a Therapist
, edited by Michael Jacobs and Moira Walker (Open UniversityPress)A series of five books, in each of which six therapists from different disciplines explain howthey would work with the same client.
Chapter 9: Power
 On 'power-for' and 'power-over'
The Other Side of Power
, Claude Steiner (Grove Press)On the oppression of children:
The Drama of Being a Child
. Alice Miller (Virago)
Thou Shalt Not Be Aware
, Alice Miller (Pluto)On character and politics:
The Mass Psychology of Fascism
, Wilhelm Reich (Penguin)A politically-aware survey of various therapeutic approaches:
 In Our Own Hands
, Sheila Ernst and Lucy Goodison (Women's Press)On running therapy workshops on political issues:
Sitting in the Fire
, Arnold Mindell (Lao Tse Press)On psychotherapy and politics:
The Political Psyche
, Andrew Samuels (Routledge)
Psychotherapy and Politics
, Nick Totton (Sage)

..113An eloquent critique of the power relationships of therapy in general:
 Against Therapy
, Jeffrey Masson (Fontana)
Chapter 10: Primal Patterns
 Realms of the Human Unconscious
, Stanislav Grof (Souvenir Press)
The Facts of Life
, R.D. Laing (Penguin)
The Voice of Experience
, R.D. Laing (Penguin)
Studies in Constricted Confusion
, Frank Lake (Clinical Theology Association)
Chapter 11 Cosmic Streaming
Cosmic Superimposition/Ether, God and Devil
, Wilhelm Reich (Farrar, Strauss)
The Cosmic Pulse of Life
, Trevor Constable (Neville Spearman)
Orgone, Reich and Eros
, W. Edward Mann (Touchstone)
 Needles of Stone
, Tom Graves (Tumstone)Another neo-Reichian synthesis, with a lot of material on auras and subtleenergy:
Core Energetics
, Dr John Pierrakos (Life Rhythm)
Chapter 12: Connections and Directions
 On the various approaches we mention in the chapter:
 Gestalt Therapy Verbatim
, Fritz Perls (Bantam)
Ordinary Ecstacy
, John Rowan (Routledge and Kegan Paul)
 Deep Bodywork and Personal Development
, Jack W. Painter (self-published)
Potent Self
, Moshe Feldenkrais (Harper and Row)
 Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain
, Al Huang
 Rebirthing in the New Age
, Leonard Orr and Sondra Ray (Celestial Arts)
Polarity Therapy
, Alan Siegel and Philip Young (Prism)
 Bone, Breath and Gesture: Practices of Embodiment
, edited by Don Hanlon Johnson (NorthAtlantic Books)A fascinating collection of classic writings on body and movement work
 Despair and Empowerment in the Nuclear Age
, Joanna Macy (New Society)
Planet Medicine
(new two volume edition), Richard Grossinger (North Atlantic Books)A vast and magnificent survey and analysis of alternative therapy and healing, with a lot of material on Reich and other body oriented.