Author Topic: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton  (Read 94 times)

truthaboutpois

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2015, 07:27:54 am »
Keep breathing as you circle your pelvis first one way then the other, try large circles andvery small ones, fast and slow movements; centring on one hip and then the other. But keepbreathing! Notice what you feel while doing the movement, and while standing still for amoment or so afterwards. Where else in your body are you aware of sensations?Tension in the pelvis is likely to set up the conditions for ailments of the reproductive andeliminatory systems - piles, constipation or diarrhoea, thrush, cystitis, cervical cancer, periodpains, and problems with the change of life.Grounding, Centering, FacingThis, then, is the body in pieces: the body split up, in self defence, into watertightcompartments. Some segments are empty of charge, some overfull, some sour and stagnant,some at boiling point some frozen, some yearning, some hidden and fearful, Before we moveon to look at how character assembles itself out of these fragments, we want to suggest someunifying themes for the whole bodymind.Three issues identified by David Boadella are Grounding, Centering and Facing: threecapacities which help create our health and openness to the world. Grounding, we havealready mentioned: this is our capacity to take a stand, to get a purchase on the world, toanchor ourselves ready to put out effort. Bodily grounding, a strong and flexible relationshipwith the earth and with gravity, corresponds to emotional grounding; one will not be foundwithout the other. The grounded body says 'Here 1 am'; it takes a middle way betweenanxious stiff uprightness ('uprightness') and slumped inertia - a springy, reciprocalrelationship with Mother Earth which draws on the depth and solidity of the ground for asense of nourishment and belonging as well as for physical support As Stanley Keleman putsit, 'if our relationship with the ground is tenuous, then our instinctual life and our body willalso be tenuous. Our connection with the mystery of life will be tenuous.'At times we need to ground ourselves in other ways: in relationships; in groups; in principleslike loyalty and truth. The basis for all of these is a degree of freedom from armouring in feet,legs and pelvis; also in the buttocks, the back and shoulders, and in the head and neck. Themore we look at grounding, the more we see how it involves a fundamental stance of theentire bodymind.The same is true for Centering, which is a capacity for wholeness and singleness in ourbodymind. For most people the centre - or its absence - is around the solar plexus. If thediaphragm is too frozen with fear, then there will be a conscious or unconscious emptiness, avacuum where the centre should be.An armoured diaphragm splits the body into an upper and a lower half, cutting through unity.Like ungroundedness, it may relate to the severing of the umbilical cord - a sense of being cutoff from the sources of nourishment and meaning.For many people, there is also a sense of division between left and right sides, or betweenfront and back, accompanied by deep, subtle twists in the posture. Thus grounding andcentering are fundamentally linked; and we need both in order to face the world and otherpeople, which we do with the whole front of our body, face, heart, belly and sex.Facing is incomplete if our navel area feels empty and vulnerable, say, or if inadequategrounding puts a twist in our stance. If the eye segment is armoured then, as we have already
 
39indicated, there can be a sense of unreality and fragmentation. You may feel that you have nocore or boundaries, that you are open to being invaded, swept off your feet, or leaking away.Thus these three capacities are very much intertwined with each other. We can only feelsecure enough to open up and face the world if we are confident of our strength, the capacityto defend ourselves, which is embodied in our backs, shoulders and buttocks.Then we can face things as they are, rather than as we would like them to be, and respondappropriately by opening or closing, reaching out or fending off, advancing or retreating. It isthis capacity for appropriate action which armouring damages or eliminates entirely: itrepresents one form or another of compulsive defence. We are now going to look at thedifferent blends and combinations of strategies for self-defence which make up the individual character

truthaboutpois

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2015, 07:31:18 am »
5 GROWING UP
These children are not your childrenThey are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself You can strive to be like them But you cannot make them just like you ...
 Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
We cannot solve life's problems except by solving them.
 M. Scott Peck, The Road Less TravelledFacing things as they are is the essence of growing up; owning and using new capacitieswithin ourselves; recognising and responding to new features of the world around us; copingrealistically with the gains and losses to our well-being that these changes bring.Or at least that's the idea. For many people, however, the phrase and the associated idea of 'growing up' carry such a mass of pain and anger that they will already have turned off fromreading these words, and are responding by reflex. 'Why don't you grow up?' 'Stop being sucha baby!' 'When I grow up I can do what I like, I'll understand everything and have power atlast.' 'I don't ever want to grow up and be like
them
.'Growing up is a process, not a state; we never reach a point of 'grownupness', certainly not onour eighteenth birthday. Neither is being physiologically adult a measure of how muchgrowing up we have managed to do. As children we are fed a lot of images of grownupnessthat may seem both enticing - power, freedom, status, knowledge - and discouraging -conservatism, rigidity, responsibility, worldweariness. These are images and not reality, but of course they impose a certain reality on most of us. The process of growing up becomes one of growing into a set of shared beliefs and attitudes, many of which in our society are crippling.Even in the healthiest environment there are always losses alongside the gains in skill andenjoyment which growing up brings. Apart from anything else there is the simple loss of
 familiarity
, which we tend to equate with security. However limiting and impoverished aparticular situation may be, we are at least surviving it, and it's often tempting to choose thefrying pan rather than the fire, a known and survivable limitation rather than an unknownmixture of promise and threat.
 
40So it's a genuine question: do we
want
to grow up? Physically, we may have little choice - thefirst great example is the foetus who simply grows too big for the womb to hold it, and ourgrowth process continues with the same irresistibility (though some people do seem to keep a'childlike', underdeveloped physique which corresponds to an emotional unwillingness togrow up). As far as feeling and behaviour go, however, we can choose at any point to stop,not to pass through the next gateway in our developmental process. Although we apparentlycontinue with life, our being has said 'No' on a deep level: inwardly we are committed topreserving the attitudes and values of the past.In childhood, this refusal is clearly not literal. We can't, for example, go on breastfeeding forour whole life. But we
can
go on manifesting the attitudes which are appropriate to thebreastfeeding or bottlefeeding period and which, if maintained, become negative andunhelpful. Genuine dependence becomes a clinging, weedy behaviour; we act as if the worldowes us a living.This is quite different from the way in which one stage can and should act as a
 foundation
forthe next To continue the breastfeeding example, we should be able to build on the securefeeling that we can be fed by the universe, while breastfeeding itself builds on the deepsecurity of the previous experience of being continuously nurtured through the umbilical cord.We move from continuous, effortless feeding into a situation of dependence on a reliablesource of nourishment, where we become more and more capable of actively asking for itThus by stages we move gradually into the adult situation of having to create our ownnourishment. If all goes well there is a safe and gradual progression, even if there are somedifficult moments, like weaning, or adolescence.Growing up isn't just about childhood. True, it is most obvious and intense early in life, butthe
opportunities
to grow continue throughout our existence. Physically, our body goes onchanging and developing both emotionally and mentally. We face new situations whichchallenge us to respond in new ways, to reconsider ourselves and reintegrate our values. Howwe cope with these opportunities depends a great deal on what has happened in our childhood,because by the time we are physical adults most of us have made some basic decisions
not
togo on changing. At one or more of the crucial developmental thresholds, we have rejected thenew in favour of the old; not through wilfulness or inadequacy, but because our world did notgive us the necessary support in a deeply scary and demanding situation.As we have already suggested, these 'decisions not to change' are what creates armouring.Once made, such choices are not easy to unmake, especially since we are normally unawareof having made them. They are frozen into the basic pattern of our bodymind; secretly,tenaciously, they warp our responses to every new situation, enforcing a particular style of limitation of our bodily and emotional mobility.We may be unable to raise our arms easily over our head, for example - unable to ask for help.Or we may be unable to push our jaw forward - and to defy authority; unable to balance onone leg - and to feel securely grounded in the world.There are limitless examples, but as we shall see they tend to be organised within each personinto a few basic patterns, a few main styles of defending against the world and our ownimpulses, each relating to a major threshold of development over which we stumbled inchildhood.
 
41We use 'character' as the name for these patterns - for the inflexible, protective structures builtinto our ways of being in the world; the armoured bodymind which people often falselyidentify with the real self.The irony is that many of the attitudes which physical adults hold up to the young as examplesof 'grownupness' are in fact pieces of character armouring. The caution, the conventionality,the exaggerated politeness and deep habitual patterns which are supposed to indicate'maturity' are really more like the first stages of death. Young people who instinctivelyrecognise this shrink In horror from the cold rigidity of adults, retreating into destructivenihilism - 'I'm never going to grow up'.Armouring forms different patterns in each person; each of us favours some styles of expression and of holding more than others. In a very real and remarkable way our armouringpresents a fossilised history of its own development: old feelings that have turned to stone,layer upon frozen layer, like the rings of some prehistoric tree. It is possible systematically tobring these fossil feelings back to life, liberating the energy that is trapped in holding themdown - trapped in the past.It's a great help in this task of creative archaeology to realise that character, though differentlyconstructed for each person, falls into patterns. We can look at a particular way of relating tothe world, of holding tension in the body, and connect it with other similar patterns, and soapproach the individual with some sense of what feelings are being frozen and why, someidea of which era of childhood the process relates to. Of course, we can never deny thatperson's uniqueness, the very uniqueness we are trying to help them liberate, but the
armour
,as distinct from the human being within it, will almost always fit into one of relatively fewpatterns.There are many different ways In which theorists can and do classify character for purposes of recognition - and no way to say that one is 'right' and another 'wrong'. It's like sorting buttons:we can put all the red ones together, or all the ones with four holes, or all the wooden ones - itdepends entirely on what we are aiming to do with the buttons. We can, however, point outthe different values which different modes of character analysis hold up as 'normal' and'healthy'. What do they think human beings are 'really' like?Some approaches to grouping character are attempting to say something about the origin andfunction of the attitudes involved: what they protect against, for example, and why. We feelthat these approaches are powerful and potentially useful, for they have direct implicationsabout how character can be melted and loosened. But at the same time they are dangerous,because if we go off at the wrong angle we are likely to miss the real person completely, andbecause they create the possibility of manipulating individual personality into what we regardas 'good for them'. Our own work with character starts from the belief and experience thathuman beings are originally and fundamentally loving; that our primal impulses are forcontact and creativity; and that character armour represents our response to the
 frustration
of these original impulses. So rather than trying to 'turn people into' healthy and loving beings,we are trying to help them melt the layers which obscure their original healthy and lovingnature.Of course, it's a rare individual whose character consists of one pure type, who reacts all thetime to every situation along the same groove.

 
42Generally, each character can be seen as a complex interweaving of strands, often with manylayers of defences lying 'on top of' each other, so that as one dissolves the next comes into view
These layers represent phases of historical development in each person, ways of reactingwhich get frozen into us in a sequence of attitudes. Thus, in a crude example, there might be alayer of frozen fear which the person protects with violent anger, and then covers
this
up witha sneering politeness, which she tries to control with a stance of sweet reason - and so on.Reich saw each of us as consisting of three major layers which show up in our characterattitudes and in our musculature. He referred to these as Core, Middle Layer, and Surface. TheCore is our 'original mind' as Buddhists sometimes call it our innate, organic capacity for loveand creative work. For an infant growing up in our society, her attempts to express her corenature, to move this loving and enthusiastic energy outwards, are often met with systematiccoldness and repression. Love, by its nature, turns to anger when frustrated, the organism'sway of focusing energy on blasting through whatever obstructs its satisfaction.But if this anger is
itself
suppressed, we end up with a superficial layer of socialised 'niceness'covering up all sorts of hateful and vicious feelings, created out of anger which cannotdischarge itself, stewing and stagnating under the Surface. It is this Middle Layer which manypeople take to be their 'real innermost self' - a terrifying idea, which naturally enough makesthem feel they must stay concealed at all costs!A dim awareness of the Middle Layer, without any direct sense of the Core, is what stops a lotof people from working at their own growth. 'If I let go of my control I might attack people

 
43with an axe, or have sex in the middle of the road', is a common attitude. The core may beseen as if it was outside ourselves rather than inside, so that goodness is in
other
people, or inHeaven. Will I like what I find? Will other people like it? Am I
normal
? These are the fearsthat police our separation from our own core nature.Character defends against outside threats ('they won't like it'); but equally, or even moreimportantly, it defends against inside feelings which seem too dangerous to express or even toacknowledge ('I won't like it').Hate and violence, though, are only a distorted version of love and pleasure. Once we contactour original nature, with its primary feelings of wholesomeness, we, can find the courage torelease what Reich called 'secondary emotions' without feeling overwhelmed by them. Of course, to contact the Core we need to explore some of the Middle Layer which is in the way,so it is a delicate process of opening up as much as we dare, and seeing that we gain atremendous amount from doing so. At the same time our Core offers a natural self-regulationof how much we open up at any given moment. Once again, our feelings are not the problem,but our feelings
about
our feelings most certainly are.This is particularly true when the feeling is of guilt, manifesting itself in a belief that ourdefensive character structure is 'our fault'. But we are not to blame for our decisions to 'nevergrow up'; and nor, really, is anyone else. Everybody at all times does their best; all energystarts out from the clear core and struggles to reach expression. If we have decided to say 'no'to some of life's demands, it was always the result of an accurate judgement that we couldn'thandle them -
at that time
.However, circumstances have changed. As adults our potential powers and capacities havegreatly increased, and it would probably make sense to revise some of those past decisions.One thing this means is becoming
conscious
of them - re-owning the frozen history of ourcharacter armour

truthaboutpois

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2015, 07:32:31 am »
So what stopped us growing up?No single incident will bind us into a straitjacket of character armouring. Often a singleincident becomes the focus, and this may emerge in the course of therapy, sometimes withstunning force. But that memory usually stands as a symbol for the whole
context
in which wegrew up - or rather, failed to do so. We recall one occasion on which our anger, say, wasswallowed back through fear of adult power. But if it only happened once we could easilycope with it - it's the constant repetition of swallowed anger which creates the adult characterunable not only to express anger but even consciously to feel it.As we have said, the whole purpose of armouring is to remove conflict from consciousness.We could see this as a sort of
learning
, not very different in principle from the way we learnto walk or to talk, so that the actual mechanics of the operation become automatic andunconscious: we 'just do it'. In the case of armouring, though, it's the tensing of the muscles to
 prevent
action (including breathing) which becomes automatic, coupled with the equivalentmental 'act' of blanking out thoughts and feelings.Tension in a particular muscle system will tend to produce
more
tension as the musclesshorten to fit in with how they are being used. A wider range of muscles thus becomesaffected, so that eventually the movement we are inhibiting tends to become physically

truthaboutpois

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2015, 07:33:03 am »
impossible, a defensive habit imprinted on the body, just as it becomes mentally 'impossible'to feel and express the repressed emotions. Changes take place in the sheaths of connectivetissue that surround our muscles. What started off as
doing
- tensing muscles as a deliberateact - has become a state of
being
: 'that's just the way I am'.We are going to show how these character patterns - 'just the ways we are' - emerge out of specific stages of development that we all go through, and which in turn correspond tospecific areas and organs of the body. These patterns, found in particular segments or ourarmour, first formed during the phase of childhood when our energy was focused in that areaof the body, a result of the work of growing up that was going on there. The body armour is amap of character - but an
archaeological
map.In the womb, the embryo grows from the head down. This is the direction of the energystream around which we develop. After birth, the process is repeated on another level in ourformative interactions with the world. The energy of our need, our interest, our desire, streamsthrough one body system after another, tracing in the first few years of life a path down thebody from head to pelvis. This is partly a metaphor, but to a remarkable extent - as we shallsee - it is a simple statement of fact

truthaboutpois

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2015, 07:33:35 am »
Clearly there are many 'stages of growth' - as many as we choose to name - but our system of character analysis focuses on some main stages relating to those parts of the body where we'exchange energy' with the universe: places where we take things in and give things out - andwhich are, therefore, sites of pleasure and frustration, satisfaction and loss. These partssurround what we call the 'heartlands' of the body: our torso and belly, the inner areas of which, the great involuntary muscles of the heart, the diaphragm and the intestines, we canidentify on a bodily level with the Core. The word 'core' in fact comes from the Latin for'heart' and there is a very special relationship between the heart segment and our primaryfeelings of love, contact and creativity.Thus the places where character is defined are the places where energy moves between theheartlands of our body and the outside world: eyes, mouth, chest, anus and genitals are themain systems involved, with other areas like legs, throat and back taking their cue from thesorts of charge, blocking and investment that happen at the two ends of the organism, headand tail. Armouring elsewhere will give a particular 'flavour' to the character, but it is whathappens in the head and tail that defines the essential character attitude.Since we all go through much the same biological process of growing up, we have allexperienced the essential attitude towards the world that goes along with each character type.These attitudes are all part of a healthy life function; we all need an energetic connection withseeing and thinking, with feeding and speaking, with self-regulation, assertion and love.What keeps us stuck in
negative
versions of these attitudes is when some of our growthenergy is still trapped back in that phase of our development, never having satisfactorilyresolved the issues that arose there. At each stage we need help, validation and support fromthe world. Without these, a certain part of us never makes it through to the next stage: likePeter Pan, we just can't face growing up.That part of us will then tend to identify every new situation which comes along as beingnothing but a new version of that same issue from the past. So, to use the same example asearlier, someone who hasn't properly dealt with the experience of being weaned will see everynew person in their life as a potential provider or witholder of nourishment - 'Are you myMummy?' is the unconscious question. Every crisis of life will then be understood as beingbasically a threat to nourishment, whatever the actual issues may be. The process of creativelearning, whereby we use the past to draw lessons for the future, has here gone out of control.In a sense no future exists, only action replays of the past. We will return to some of theseissues in Chapter 10.The same sorts of pattern correspond to each phase of development over the first few years of life, up to the point at which our basic character is pretty well formed. To each bodily functionof exchange with the world there corresponds a basic
need
, which must be satisfied before thebodymind can fully move on. Insofar as that need is denied or left unsatisfied, a part of ourlife force is 'left behind' in the form of muscular armour and character structure, and futureissues will be comprehended largely in terms of that unmet need. For the eyes it is the senseof existence and reality; for the mouth, feeding and support; for the chest, validation; for theanus, grounding and self-management; and for the genitals, assertiveness, love and surrender.The great majority of us have to some basic extent made it through to the end of the process,the beginning of independent life, with the ability to be open, accept reality, and have genitalsexual relationships, Bruised and battered, tattered and tom, we've made it; but not

truthaboutpois

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2015, 07:34:45 am »
Clearly there are many 'stages of growth' - as many as we choose to name - but our system of character analysis focuses on some main stages relating to those parts of the body where we'exchange energy' with the universe: places where we take things in and give things out - andwhich are, therefore, sites of pleasure and frustration, satisfaction and loss. These partssurround what we call the 'heartlands' of the body: our torso and belly, the inner areas of which, the great involuntary muscles of the heart, the diaphragm and the intestines, we canidentify on a bodily level with the Core. The word 'core' in fact comes from the Latin for'heart' and there is a very special relationship between the heart segment and our primaryfeelings of love, contact and creativity.Thus the places where character is defined are the places where energy moves between theheartlands of our body and the outside world: eyes, mouth, chest, anus and genitals are themain systems involved, with other areas like legs, throat and back taking their cue from thesorts of charge, blocking and investment that happen at the two ends of the organism, headand tail. Armouring elsewhere will give a particular 'flavour' to the character, but it is whathappens in the head and tail that defines the essential character attitude.Since we all go through much the same biological process of growing up, we have allexperienced the essential attitude towards the world that goes along with each character type.These attitudes are all part of a healthy life function; we all need an energetic connection withseeing and thinking, with feeding and speaking, with self-regulation, assertion and love.What keeps us stuck in
negative
versions of these attitudes is when some of our growthenergy is still trapped back in that phase of our development, never having satisfactorilyresolved the issues that arose there. At each stage we need help, validation and support fromthe world. Without these, a certain part of us never makes it through to the next stage: likePeter Pan, we just can't face growing up.That part of us will then tend to identify every new situation which comes along as beingnothing but a new version of that same issue from the past. So, to use the same example asearlier, someone who hasn't properly dealt with the experience of being weaned will see everynew person in their life as a potential provider or witholder of nourishment - 'Are you myMummy?' is the unconscious question. Every crisis of life will then be understood as beingbasically a threat to nourishment, whatever the actual issues may be. The process of creativelearning, whereby we use the past to draw lessons for the future, has here gone out of control.In a sense no future exists, only action replays of the past. We will return to some of theseissues in Chapter 10.The same sorts of pattern correspond to each phase of development over the first few years of life, up to the point at which our basic character is pretty well formed. To each bodily functionof exchange with the world there corresponds a basic
need
, which must be satisfied before thebodymind can fully move on. Insofar as that need is denied or left unsatisfied, a part of ourlife force is 'left behind' in the form of muscular armour and character structure, and futureissues will be comprehended largely in terms of that unmet need. For the eyes it is the senseof existence and reality; for the mouth, feeding and support; for the chest, validation; for theanus, grounding and self-management; and for the genitals, assertiveness, love and surrender.The great majority of us have to some basic extent made it through to the end of the process,the beginning of independent life, with the ability to be open, accept reality, and have genitalsexual relationships, Bruised and battered, tattered and tom, we've made it; but not
 
46completely. We've left a considerable part of our potential power and pleasure back in thosegrowth stages, locked up in the armouring that forms around our frustrations.We can only fully let go to reality and pleasure, it seems, when we replay and release this oldhistory, re-own our existence, nourishment, self-regulation, validation, assertiveness and love.What we then achieve is the
wholeness
of our bodymind from top to toes, able to focus andexpress itself through each and every organ, able to carry on with the open-ended process of growing.We can achieve a relationship of wholeness with our entire developmental process. There is aperfectly healthy 'regression' that goes on all the time: every night we return to a womb-likestate to sleep and dream, and at different moments in our daily life we are using the attitudesand feelings appropriate to every phase of life. Even a six-month old baby can at times beseen regressing to earlier phases for reassurance and comfort. And there is also a process of what we might call 'progression' along our lifeline - the times when we feel old as the hills, orwhen a child suddenly shows unexpectedly adult attitudes. This is all a natural part of beingalive. The important thing is to have the capacity for free movement, rather than beingcompelled to enter or stay in a particular state.It is our character structure which can make some forms of 'release therapy' verydisappointing after a while. It's a tremendous relief to cry, to rage, to scream and to shake,especially if we have spent years being unable to do so. But eventually it is brought home tous that there has been only a limited change in our ways of living our life; that we still havemost of the problems we came with, and we don't seem to have
that
much less need todischarge emotion.Our character is like a sponge which soaks up and holds on to certain kinds of feeling, It'scomparatively easy - and very important - to learn how to let those feelings go - likesqueezing out the sponge. In itself, however, this won't alter
the structure of the sponge
: itwill soak up the same feelings again at the first opportunity. Working to change the characteritself is a much harder and more subtle task. In the following chapters we shall show how wego about it.
6 CHARACTER POSITIONS
 Most people have very little tendency to look at their character objectively.
 Wilhelm Reich, Character AnalysisWe shall now work down the body again, as we did in the chapter on the segments, but thistime looking only at the head and tail 'energy exchange' segments, which the Freudians call'erogenous zones'. We add to these the heart segment, which also reaches out to exchangeenergy with the world.We shall describe the sort of character attitudes which accompany aserious block in each segment. In this way we will set up some caricature figures, stiffer andmore one-dimensional than almost any real person, but from a blend of which, and influencedby armouring elsewhere in the body, our individual character is formed.We call these attitudes character
 positions
to emphasise the fact that, for most people, theymanifest only at certain times and in certain conditions. Most of us are pretty healthy andcreative in our best moments, though even at these times we may tend to show a certain
style
 of creativity which reflects a favoured character position. We may be better at standing our

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2015, 07:35:29 am »
ground than at flowing, for example, because of an emphasis on the 'holding' position, or wemay be better at looking after than at being looked after because of unresolved oral feelings.At other, more stressful, moments we may get stuck in the less creative versions of these samecharacter positions: compelled to try and hold our feelings in, perhaps, or feeling totally weak and unable to function independently.All of this should become clearer as we go along. The main point is that each of us containswithin us the potential for
each
character position, because they take their being from lifeexperiences we have all had. The specific events of our individual lives, however, determinewhich one or two or three positions are strongest in us, because we have had the mostdifficulty crossing those particular developmental thresholds.In each segment we can see two different kinds of block, one based on
 yearning
and the otheron
denial
of that yearning. To use an example from the last chapter, someone may beeternally looking for nourishment ('are you my Mummy?'), or, in a further act of repressionthey may be eternally pretending that there is no such need, and closing down their energyflow so as to numb their feelings. These repressed feelings will come out indirectly in oneway or another, however, perhaps in the end as a physical symptom. In order to dissolve this'denying block', it must turn back into a yearning' one; that is, the individual must becomeaware of the need they are repressing as the first stage towards letting go of it In this example,the hard clenched jaw must become a soft sucking one.Character positions fall easily into two groups: those organised around armouring in the head,and those organised around armouring in the pelvis. Head segment characters tend to be
under-grounded
in their attitudes - 'up in the air' in one way or another - while pelvic segmentcharacters tend to be
over-grounded
, rigid and immobile. The heart segment stands betweenthese two extremes, and is concerned with
 facing
.The terms used for the character positions are mainly our own, rather than those used byReich or by other schools of psychotherapy describing essentially similar ways of seeingcharacter. We have developed new names because we see the orthodox ones either as abusive('Masochistic', 'Passive Feminine'), confusing, or over-technical

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2015, 07:36:31 am »
Boundary Position
 Eye segment block: issues of
existence
 In the first days of our life outside the womb, we urgently seek contact with those who carefor us, usually our mothers. We need to receive unspoken messages which tell us 'Yes, you'rehere, you exist, I recognise and care for you'; to see and be seen, touch and be touched, hearand be heard. The focus for this affirmation that we exist seems to be the whole skin surfaceof our bodies, and more specifically, the upper head and particularly the eyes.We are not really describing anything mysterious here; you can see parents and babiesinstinctively drinking deep in each others' eyes right from the start, especially during feeding,and there have been several studies of how badly affected a baby is if the parent keeps turningtheir attention away. The same happens if she is not held and stroked enough - enough to feel
real
.We depend utterly on this fundamental validation, and if we don't get it at the start of lifethrough our eyes and skin, there will be a long-term incompleteness and fragility built into our

 
49bodymind development A part of our energy will stay back in those first days of life, stillseeking that primary contact which says 'you exist'. This insecurity can be seen in the eyes of the adult, and sensed in their interaction with the world. At least part of the character will bebuilt upon a basic uncertainty about their own wholeness and reality, and every crisis of lifewill be experienced as a threat to
being
.If the person stays in the same family situation this lack of warm human contact in earliestinfancy is likely to be continued in childhood, and may be reinforced by frightening orconfusing experiences that need to be shut out of awareness. This kind of history puts aparticular stress on
boundaries
. Do I have any? Where are they? These are very real questionsfor someone with a strong eye segment block. With a 'yearning block', someone will feel alack of wholeness. They may experience themselves as 'in bits', fragmented, 'all over theplace', liable under pressure to flee or fall apart- There will be a drive to find some form of themissing primary contact: 'I must see, 1 must understand', a compulsion to make sense of things, to find an answer. There will be a 'seeking', intense expression in the eyes, which canbe frightening to other people whose own deep feelings are sparked off by this demand forcontact.Does this sound familiar? It is partly this need to understand which draws someone to read -or to write - about the structures of the bodymind. You may also recognise in yourself the'denying eye block', which seeks to repress this frightening need for contact, understandingand validation. Its message is 'I can't or won't see or understand'. The fear of what's out there,or what's inside, is so great that the person closes down their perception in some way, cloudsor fogs or confuses, 'goes away in the eyes' as Reich puts it.A small example is the otherwise sensible person who 'just can't see' some area of reality.Because of our training, for women it is often mathematics or mechanics; for men, it isemotions. We can't understand it because it stirs up too much: we cannot bear to keep ourattention on it and re-experience the anger, say, of being put down in childhood, or theanguish in our own heart. For many people, psychic and spiritual realities fall into thiscategory: 'I won't look because there's nothing there.'On a wider scale, the denying eye block puts people severely out of touch with the world andwith other humans. They feel 'cut off', 'unreal', but may well be giving out conscious orunconscious messages of 'stay away'; a coldness and an invisible wall which is their responseto intolerable
 fear
.Fear is very much the key emotion with the boundary character position: fear of beingoverwhelmed. of exploding or imploding, of one's fragile foothold on existence crumbling. Asource of denying eye blocking is very often the need, as a child, to escape adult scrutiny, tonot be seen
into
. There is a lack of fundamental confidence which means a natural boundarybetween inside and outside fails to develop, so that a harsh and exaggerated cut-off is createdin its place.A good sign that we are occupying the boundary position is if we become confused aboutwhat is
outside
and what is
inside
. Perhaps we find ourselves seeing other people as feelingangry or afraid when that is what
we
are feeling, or perhaps we let other people's ideas take usover and dominate our own sense of things. Or maybe we mix up one kind of reality withanother, mistaking our own energy for some sort of psychic or science-fiction 'attack' fromoutside.
 
50All these experiences are seen in orthodox psychiatry as reflecting 'schizoid' characterStructures. This is
not
the same thing as 'schizophrenia' but, one might say, a very mildversion of the problems for which that label is used. These are the sorts of experiencesdescribed so well in R.D. Laing's earlier books, like
The Divided Self
. In a sense, though,Laing perpetuates the split he describes by writing only about the
mind
, and not the body.This is one boundary that tends to exist very strongly in such characters.Eye segment blocking makes it hard to live in the body - one form it can take, as we havealready noted, is the 'ivory tower' intellectual. It also makes it hard to achieve wholeness; thebodies of people with strong boundary characters often have an unfinished or unintegratedlook to them - different parts may give contradictory messages. Sometimes there is achildlike, undeveloped physique, perhaps the large head and spindly neck of the baby who inessence is still present still seeking wholeness and validation. Someone really stuck in theboundary position will give off a deep sense of 'wrongness' with their bodymind; other peoplewill instinctively tend to avoid them, which of course reinforces their isolation and fear.Another form which this 'flight from the body' often takes is an extreme sensitivity to, andinterest in, the 'psychic', 'spiritual' realm. However, because the boundary position is severelyundergrounded, the very real sensitivity is quite undiscriminating. Genuine contact gets mixedup with complete fantasy, often projecting the person's own feelings and sensations 'out there'on to other people or 'spirits'. The awareness of energy, however confused, is real and strong;in particular, the boundary character will often be strongly conscious of the energy fieldsurrounding the body - the 'aura'.It is important to see how the needs and concerns of the boundary position as with every othercharacter - are basically quite rational and universal. Every baby passes through a phase of contacting the world and other people through eyes, ears, nose and skin, and a phase of settingboundaries, making a sense of self which is secure against outside invasion or 'leaking'. Everyadult can develop out of this 'eye energy' a creative enjoyment of looking, thinking, discovery,eye contact, flirting, visions, inspiration and meditation.What we are calling an eye block, a boundary position, is a state where someone has not yetfully managed to create a basis for this adult creativity. They are still partially stuck in anearly childhood crisis, and are reducing adult experience to these terms. By their very over-sensitivity, though, they are many of our artists, our mediums, our prophets, our seers.Exercises to give a direct experience of the character positions necessarily involve workingwith another person, since the positions are fundamentally about relationship. If you have afriend with whom you feel happy to try it, then the following exercise should put you in touchwith your boundary material (for the idea of these exercises and some specific details, we aregrateful to Helen Davis)
Exercise 15
 Person A, stand with your back close up against a wall, pressing yourself against it and coming up on tiptoe, so your whole posture is 'up and away'. Open your eyes very wide,breathe high in your chest, without ever fully emptying your lungs. Person B, stand a few feet away, and holding eye contact slowly advance on A.Person A, experiment with saying thingslike 'No', 'keep away', and so on; let yourself go into the feelings that come up.

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2015, 07:37:19 am »
After a few minutes stop, make contact with each other's real self, perhaps by hugging and talking for a minute, and try the exercise in reverse.
Oral Position
 Jaw segment block: issues of
 feeding and support
 The primary infant experience connected with our mouths is breast or bottle feeding. At itsbest this is an experience of profound contentment and pleasure, the nearest thing to gettingback inside the womb, reuniting with the mother's body. That floating, drifting, relaxeddreaminess is often maintained long into childhood with thumb sucking, comfort blankets andso on. It is also a crucial component of our adult well-being. If all goes well we grow up withthe secure conviction that the universe can nourish and support us, that there will be goodtimes, that life is fundamentally
 possible
. This conviction enables us to move out effectivelyinto the world. We can mobilise our energies because at other times we are able to let go andbe supported.For very many people, though, the weaning process and infant feeding will have beendisturbed and damaged in some way. This is not really anyone's
 fault
- there is so much guiltin this area. It is very hard - though not totally impossible - for us as parents to give ourchildren more than we had ourselves; the mother or father with distress around feeding issueswill have difficulties in making their own child feel secure.Of course, the parents may have real problems in their own life, or simply too much to do,distracting them from giving full attention to the baby. Their own instincts may have beendistorted by bizarre 'expert' theories of when and how to feed. The birth of more children mayspeed up the weaning process together with the closely related process of 'standing on yourown feet', which is often beyond what the child can handle.The 'oral yearning' character position, then, seeks to be
 fed
. The whole message emanatingfrom the person is 'feed me, hold me up'. There is often a sense of physical weakness; a thin,stringy, weedy body like a plant deprived of light, which has bolted and stretched itself out -the child eternally reaching to be picked up and cuddled. Less commonly, there is the fat oralcharacter, with a jolly grin concealing their resentful, sadistic determination to chew up anddevour the whole world.With the oral position there is almost always an aggressive edge, a profound bitterness. Whywon't people look after me? How can they expect me to fend for myself in this cold, cruelworld? Can't they see how important and special I am? In the oral position, we tend to be 'onstrike', withdrawing our labour from life in the hope that people will see how unfairly we arebeing treated, Sulking, in other words!The infantile nature of these attitudes is very obvious, and often very irritating, Part of theirritation, though, is that we are uncomfortably reminded of feelings we have ourselves, Rareis the person who, as a child. felt fully satisfied and nurtured; who spontaneously initiatedtheir own weaning and every other stage of their independence; who truly feels they have had
enough
. When we refer to feelings as 'infantile', we must remember that they are fullyappropriate for infants to have: we
did
need looking after, we
were
special and important.Many of us, in order to survive, have developed a 'denying oral' block, contradicting ourneeds. We present clenched teeth, stiff lips - the Clint Eastwood, 'strong silent type'. Here is a

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2015, 07:38:07 am »
undamental stance of 'I won't' - eat, cry, ask, speak, get angry - give myself away as needyand yearning.Alongside oral blocks we often notice an
irritability
that is both emotional and physical - apeculiar hot prickliness to the skin, and a general difficulty in becoming comfortable. It is asif the person's teeth are being set on edge, and teething can be a very serious factor indeveloping an oral position. Suppressed anger commonly comes out in 'biting', 'sharp-tongued' speech. There is a big overlap between weaning, teething, standing and learning totalk, often with a lot of tension around trying to ask for or demand the feeding we need, tryingto articulate the unfairness we are experiencing.The child may grow up to be a smooth, glib talker, with many rationalisations for theirdependence on others - a 'sponger' or a con artist. Or - and sometimes at the same time - shemay be caught in a trap, since expressing the rage she feels just makes adults withdraw evenmore, so that she feels forced to 'bite it back', 'swallow it down'. Stammering is one possibleresult of this contradiction - 'I can't (mustn't) say what I want to say' - so is tight-lippedsilence. The discomfort already referred to may mean 'It isn't
right
!'You may have already noticed how people often react against their real character so as toconceal it; what we can call a 'flip' into a polar opposite position. With the oral position, thereis often a tendency to become a 'compulsive carer', someone who looks after everyone in sight- whether they like it or not. We can recognise this attitude by the absence of openheartedlove. People in this position are often the social workers and official carers from whomeveryone runs a mile! What such people need to recognise is that in caring for others they aresecretly acting out what they want for themselves, yet their caring is undermined by theconcealed aggression and resentment of the oral position.Oral blocking, as we have said, makes it difficult to feel fundamentally secure in the world.While the boundary character often feels unreal, in danger of annihilation, the oral character ishere and real, but often terribly lonely, empty and cold. 'Empty' is the key word: an inner gulf,an absence of energy for self-starting or carrying through projects. No petrol in the tank; nomilk in the tummy! Most of us have at least occasional experiences of this state.An oral block will interfere with creative enjoyment of activities like eating, drinking, talking,kissing, singing. We will either dislike them, or compulsively over-indulge them - always thetwo fundamental tactics for dealing with any kind of stuckness. The yearning oral charactercan try to fill herself up with almost anything - food, drink, TV, music, drugs, sex, ideas, orlooking after other people!When oral energy is freed, it expresses itself creatively in an
appetite for life
, a capacity forgusto and enjoyment including, but not restricted to, the sorts of oral activities describedabove. Often there is a genuine eloquence, which can serve other functions than wheedling. Inparticular there is a genuine concern with
 justice
, that no one be left out or rejected, and a truecapacity to nurture others, based on a sense of security in yourself.
 Exercise 16
 To experience your oral position, work with person B standing on a chair, and person Areaching up to them with their arms and their whole body - again, tending towards tiptoe. Breathe fairly deeply, one breath at a time, with pauses at the end of the inhale and theexhale. Person A says things like 'Please', 'Play with me', 'Feed me', while person B
 
53
experiments with 'No', 'Not now', 'Leave me alone'. After a while stop, make contact, and reverse roles.
 
Control Position
 Heart segment block: issues of
validation
 A good experience of the oral position means that we have felt enough support from thosecaring for us to move forward into a more independent role in the world. Small children wantto start playing 'away from' their parent - but still in visual range, with the sense of being seenand validated: 'Did you see me on the swings, dad?' Support is still crucial, but less
direct
thanin the oral stage: the child is being held, not by the arms of the carer, but by their attention andtheir acknowledgement of the child's experience.Through the kinds of experiences we - hopefully - have at this stage, we are learning about'other minds': learning that other people exist, that they have roughly the same kinds of experiences we do, and that we can project ourselves imaginatively into their experience asthey can into ours. Through play - especially play in which we are held in the parent's gaze,and play in which we ourselves 'control' and 'manipulate' the parent ('Now you be the baby,and you're sad because the mummy's not there, and then I'm the mummy and I come back...') -we develop a sense of 'mental space', of an inner world, and that other people also have innerworlds. Through adults' support of our play and fantasy, we learn to engage with aninterpersonal reality.What can go wrong at this point is that, instead of our experience being supported, it can be
denied
. The important adults don't join in with us, don't let us be at the centre of a playfulinterpersonal space. This may be simply because they are themselves tired, drained andemotionally preoccupied. Or they may have a compulsion to dominate, 'You will do what Isay and like it'. Or often they are caught up in a mistaken kind of caring, which is deeplyundermining of our reality: 'You don't really mean that, dear'; 'Of course you're not sad,nothing to be upset about'; 'There's mummy's brave boy'... All these sorts of interactionsmasquerade as contact, but are actually profoundly out of contact with the child's trueexperience.These reactions to our need for supported play hurt our heart. It becomes bruised, frozen,withered, numbed. On another level, it also damages our cognitive development, and preventsus, perhaps permanently, from learning about the existence of other selves - from learning toempathise. Ultimately, we may give up on any expectation that contact with other people willbe
 possible
, that anyone will see and hear and touch our reality. Yet we still have needs, of course; how are we to get them met?Really only two techniques lie open to someone whose heart and mind have been blocked inthis way. We can seek to
dominate
other people, by physical force or by force of will; or wecan seek to seduce and
manipulate
them. (These options each relate to another later characterposition, as we will see.) Underlying either strategy is a fundamental lack of belief that otherpeople are
real
, that they have feelings and needs, experience pain and pleasure. It is as if wehave been stranded on a planet of androids, and have to learn the codes by which they can becontrolled and made to serve us. This is the aspect of the control position which has led sometherapists to label it 'psychopathic': if other people are androids, we can feel free to cheatthem, hurt them, even kill them.

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #25 on: April 15, 2015, 07:38:45 am »
This belief stems, of course, from feeling treated like an android ourselves; it stems fromother people's apparent lack of belief in our reality. We are seeking
revenge
. (We are alsostuck in repeating what was originally an age-appropriate need to be in charge and the centreof attention.) And yet there is no satisfaction in that revenge: our victories over others arewithout savour, because they fail to meet our underlying yearning for empathy, for heart-to-heart contact, for the recognition of our needs. If we deny that yearning, we are left with theoption of hiding ourselves behind a 'false self', an outer persona which acts at being caringand loving and good, while inside we are silently saying to ourselves 'keep quiet, don't showanything, keep your head down, stay safe...'The jammed-up heart of the control character usually manifests physically as a sense of bulkiness and inflatedness in their upper torso, especially in the yearning version: their chestis pushed-out in a dumb-show of domination, like a cartoon sergeant-major or societydowager. They are often fleshy in a rather smooth way, and there can be a shark-like mirthlessgrin permanently in place. Mussolini's bodily appearance is an exaggeration of the controlposition.But of course very few people in this position are Mussolinis, or psychopaths. More generally,they are struggling with difficulties around making contact and directly expressing need:sometimes closer to recognising other people as real, sometimes further away. Creative use of control energy comes out in
leadership
, in being able to take responsibility for group needs.Control characters can be wonderful hosts, the life and soul of the party, able to remembereveryone's name and favourite food; they can be charismatic performers, basking in the loveof the audience and able to repay that love by making everyone feel good. The potentialdownside of this is the contempt that leaders or entertainers can feel for the crowd; the coldcalculation behind the host or hostess's smile.The heart centre plays a very special role in the human energy system: in many ways wecould see all of the character positions as representing different ways in which the heart triesto express itself. So the control character with their locked-up heart is wounded in a very deepplace. But always, the wound represents the potential for growth: people whose energyfocuses in the control position are people whose energy focuses in their heart - people with'big hearts', with the capacity for big expression, the capacity to look after others, to have 'thewhole world in their hands'. What is often harder for them is to be looked after themselves: tobalance out their bigness by daring to feel
small
.
 Exercise 17
 Person A stand with knees bent, leaning forward from the waist with back arched so that head is upright; arms stretched forward in front of you. (This is very uncomfortable. If it feels easy, you're not doing it right.) Person B stand in front, just out of reach. Person A tells B what ishappening for them - e.g., 'my back's hurting' - and person B systematically denies everythingthey say - e.g., 'No it isn't, you're fine'. Continue for as long as you can bear it, then makecontact and reverse.
 
Holding Position
 Anal block: issues of
self-regulation
 Now we move to the other end of the torso, and the other arena of our energy-exchange withthe world: the pelvis. Here the next big issue that creates character arises around learning tocontrol our own bodily functions, in particular those related to what we take into and out of
 
55our bodies. For most of us the key event is toilet training; learning to recognise the sensationsof full bowel or bladder, and to respond in the appropriate way at the appropriate time andplace.Acquiring these skills is a great milestone in our development, and can go along vvith atremendous new sense of power and worth as we are gently encouraged and praised by theadults around us. It's part of identifying with our own bodymind, and its natural processes andrhythms. More often, though, the impatience, distress and disturbance of adults interferestragically with this development, damaging - perhaps permanently - our sense of power,rhythm and timing.We must remember that there is an innate pleasure in moving our bowels and emptying ourbladder when we are ready to. Many adults find this hard to accept, because their own contactwith this part of their body has been so much injured. It's a pleasure both of
letting go
and of
 pushing out
, which in adult life translates into qualities like groundedness, decisiveness,certainty, balance. The muscles of the pelvis and buttocks are, during the same phase of childhood, learning to ground and balance us as we begin to stand, walk and run.All of these amazing processes can be wrecked by the effort of massive tension demanded inforcing a too-young child to control their bowels and bladder. The pressure of fear, the desireto please one's parents, push the child into tightening up the whole pelvic floor, the buttocksand thighs, saying 'no' to her own natural functions. Along with this goes the message that herinsides, her body contents, are bad and must not be shown to the outside world - the belief, infact, that she is 'full of ****'.The messages given by bad toilet training are drastically contradictory, and the child caneasily become totally confused. If I **** at one moment they praise me and tell me howwonderful it is; the next moment they shout at me and tell me it's nasty! This gives rise to twosimultaneous reactions: that it's my fault and I have to try harder to please everyone; and thatit's
their
fault and I hate them.Remember that small children have a positive, proud attitude towards their **** and ****, anattitude that will later be transferred naturally to other functions, other products of their innerprocess. But if this possessive pride is attacked by adults' incomprehensible anger, that personmay well start to despise themself and all their inner experience; or may becomecompulsively self-centred, unable to share themself with others. Shame and self-contempt areoften part of the holding character which has become stuck around anal issues - and 'stuck' isa particularly apt word here.Another important factor is likely to be
rage
against adult prohibition and control. The rageitself will be controlled, held in the tight muscles of buttocks and thighs, shoulders and neck -'my anger is nasty, like ****, and must be contained'. Anger turned inwards often becomesdirected at the self in the form of guilt - this is the emotional correlative of physical holding,the person 'feels like ****', like dirt, worthless, foul.The unsatisfied need, then, is to
let go
and to
 push
. It can emerge as adult messiness of allkinds - untidiness, a rushed and confused life style, bad timing, missed appointments.Associated with some of these, there is often a concealed and passive
spitefulness
emanatingfrom the blocked rage, taking the form of letting people down in various ways, failing to meetcommitments

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #26 on: April 15, 2015, 07:39:26 am »
This may be concealed under a thick layer of fawning niceness which is a common feature of the holding character: 'greasy', 'oily', 'arselicking'. It is as if the holding character is smearingshit all over themselves and us, in an attempt to please which is equally a concealed attack. Inthis position, we don't expect to be liked. We try hard to appear likeable, with our unreal,constipated smile, but people are not taken in and we end up
being
unlikeable.The denying holding character manifests in compulsive, rigid, over-controlled attitudes - whatwe call 'tight-arsed'. The rage has been more or less successfully bound inside as a layer of rigid muscle; the person is being a 'good boy' or a 'good girl', but at a tremendous cost in lostspontaneity and self-regulation. Everything is done by the clock, by the numbers, by the book,by the timetable: 'it's one o'clock, so 1 must be hungry'. Again, spitefulness can come throughin concealed ways: the petty bureaucrat who sits heavily on his office potty and finds deviousways of saying 'no'!A strong holding position often goes along with heavy, wide body, especially weighty aroundthe shoulders and thighs, and a short neck. There is a tendency for the eyes to retreat into thehead within bony, cavernous eye sockets, part of the overall sense of deep suffering oftenconveyed by the holding character's face. Along with this there is a great strength to endurethis suffering, which is composed of desperation, self-hate and hopelessness.Even a badly-stuck holding character will often be very well-grounded; a good, hip-swingingdancer. A successful integration of the themes of holding and control give to the personality acapacity for
effort
which is enjoyable rather than compulsive, Energy can be held and used;there is a quality of determination, patience, taking your time, working
with
the materialworld rather than against it - a willingness to get your hands dirty.There is also genuine compassion and service, related to the
 fullness
(full heart) of the holdingposition. Such traits can often be seen, at least in embryo form, in people with anal stuckness -especially the capacity for effort and service. Praising and encouraging these qualities can bevery important in developing that crucial, missing sense of self-worth -'my insides are okay!'
 Exercise 18
 Person A sit on a chair, with the whole body constricted and held, head pulled in to theshoulders, and breathing constricted. Focus on the inhale and don't completely breathe out. Breathe into the belly rather than the chest. Person B stands by them and alternates betweenstatements like 'Come on', 'Please', 'There's a lovely boy/girl', etc.; and statements like 'Ugh!' 'That's horrible!' 'How could you!' Again, try to let yourself go into the feelings that come up.
 
Thrusting Position
 Pelvic block against softness: issues of
assertion
.The traditional psychoanalytic name for this position is 'phallic', which comes from the Greek word for '****'. In many ways this is seriously misleading, since what is being described is aquality shared equally by girls and boys, though with different effects on the adult character.It arises from the widespread sexist attitude that only those with penises can, or should, thrust.Once children have developed some sense of holding themselves up and grounding throughthe buttocks and backs of the legs, they can start literally and symbolically pushingthemselves forward. As mobility develops, so does the need for recognition and praise, thedesire to assert yourself, to take up space, to show off. Direct sexual exhibitionism is very

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #27 on: April 15, 2015, 07:40:18 am »
much part of this: children of four or five are sexual beings, often very hotly so, and needacknowledgement especially from their parents, on whom such feelings will largely befocused. More generally, there is the need to have a say in things, to have some sense of power and autonomy: bed-times, TV, playing outside are all typical opportunities forassertion.What so often happens is that adults treat this natural and healthy assertiveness as 'badness','wilfulness', 'impudence'. There may even be a conscious intention to crush and overpower thechild's will, to frighten it into submission. The classic form of this happens when the father ishimself locked into a thrusting position, so that he sees any assertiveness and independence onthe part of his children as a threat to his identity, and reacts with physical or emotionalviolence, the belt or the vicious put-down.In this situation the child will generally submit - there is little alternative. But built into theircharacter from then on will be a quality of
hatred
and
revenge
that subtly flavours everythingthey do. A 'yearning thrusting' character will, as an adult, be competitive, pushy, achievement-oriented - a career man or woman.This is most often a middle-class position; working class people who are unable to use theirangry energy for worldly success throw their weight around on the domestic, social andsexual fronts instead, or become involved in the machismo of the underworld. Many of theseattitudes are strongly encouraged in our culture, primarily in men; thus they are transmitted tothe next generation, as a compulsively thrusting and authoritarian parent represses their child'sindependence and sets them up for the same script.The ability to push and thrust with the pelvis - in a soft and feeling way - is essential tosatisfying sex for both women and men; and the corresponding life capacity is equallyimportant In the thrusting-block character position, there is an overlay of hate and fear in suchpelvic movement, a fear of
collapse
(in the face of adult power), leading to an attitude whichReich called 'genital revenge'. If the person is a man, then they may be a rapist, overt orindirect, if a woman, what men call a 'ballbreaker', using sex to humiliate (though men oftenuse this label to attack any woman who scares them with her healthy sexual assertiveness).The soft easy thrust becomes a violent harsh movement - 'screwing'.Sexually speaking, the yearning thruster will be a Don Juan character who uses sex to 'score'-for conquest and ego satisfaction rather than pleasure and melting contact. Similar attitudeswill colour their attitude to life in general - enjoyment takes second place to status. Ourculture tends actively to encourage such distortions in men, to the extent of seeing them asintrinsically manly, macho, butch. A woman or girl who shows such traits vvill often be metwith disapproval and invalidation (tomboy', 'unfeminine') even though the thrusting may beentirely healthy, the natural urge for assertiveness and achievement.The body type that goes with the thrusting character is quite highly rated in our society: ittends to be large, well-muscled, energetic, athletic - at any rate in milder versions of theblock. The stronger the block, the more the body tends to be rigid, musclebound andovercharged. Someone who
denies
their need to thrust will necessarily have a rigid body andcharacter, often sex-negative, self-righteous and moralistic. This is a different strategy forgenital revenge - 'stamp out this menace!' The absence of pleasure is even clearer with thesecompulsively 'good' people. Thrusting characters often suffer from 'stress-related ailments',because they put themselves through so much stress

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #28 on: April 15, 2015, 07:40:42 am »
The creative side of the thrusting character is its energy, drive, courage, physical and mentalelan; its willpower and discipline. The distortions stem from insecurity, from the fear of beingsmashed down which is hidden under an exaggerated 'strength', able to brook no equals, letalone 'superiors'. In its obsession with rank, pecking order, competition, and in its assumptionthat every situation must involve a winner and loser, the thrusting block is clearly a centralfactor in patriarchal society.
 Exercise 19
 Person B stands on a chair; person A stands looking up at them, legs braced stiffly, jaw stuck out, chest stuck out, fists clenched. Use your breath to puff yourself up. A says things like 'No','I won't'; B says 'Oh yes you will', 'You better had', 'Do what 1 tell you', etc. After a while,make contact and reverse.
 
Crisis Position
 Pelvic block again opening: issues of
contact
 This is what psychoanalysts call the 'hysteric' character; just as 'phallic' comes from the Greek for ****, 'hysteric' comes from the Greek for womb. Again this represents a
social
reality, forin our culture there is much more scope and acceptance for women in the crisis position thanthere is for men. All children however, boys as much as girls, have to confront the issuesaround pelvic opening, which arise when self-assertion begins to encounter the reality of another person, and of the social world.A fundamental fact about human beings is that they have gender. In our society, gender has avery particular set of
meanings
attached to it. Saying that someone is a man or a woman, a girlor a boy, is doing much more than stating what is between their legs. It establishes a whole setof expectations about their appearance, their range of movements and sounds, their activities,their attitudes, their personality, their 'nature' - it is not too huge a simplification to say thatour society splits the range of human behaviour into two halves, allowing one half to malesand the other half to females.We can't go into the possible reasons for this process here, beyond pointing out that mostsocieties, perhaps all, do something like this, though they often give very different
contents
tothe male and female halves. From the point of view of a small child, coming face to face withthis reality for the first time, its implications are disastrous.A little girl, even today, is asked to accept that she is cut off from the world of power andfreedom offered to her brother - and usually represented by the father. A little boy is asked toaccept that he is cut off from the world of warmth and softness usually represented by themother (an important way in which this is expressed is that he 'can't have babies'). Each ispresented with huge deprivations and huge compensations, but the whole issue is handledindirectly and inexplicitly, and is coloured by adults' own, often unconscious distress aboutgender.The issue is also tied up, both developmentally and by its nature, with that of opening up toloving and pleasurable contact other human beings. The self-asserting little child focuses itserotic energy on the close adults around, usually its parents. The parents themselves havesuccumbed to gender roles, and are openly or unconsciously telling the child to conform

truthaboutpois

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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #29 on: April 15, 2015, 07:41:17 am »
They do this at the same time as, and partly
through
, openly or unconsciously reacting to thechild's intense sexual energy, either pushing it away or encouraging it - often both at once!One powerful way of describing all this is to use Freud's term, the 'Oedipus Complex'. Thisfocuses on the issues of power, possession and jealousy in the classic nuclear family. Itdescribes very real events, though in a way that does not sufficiently question genderstereotyping or bring out the underlying issues of social conformity. This is the point at whichthe child is about to emerge into the social world; its acceptance of gender conventions, andall the subtle seductions and abuses which they imply, is the price of entry.It's no surprise that a child faced with these vast ramifications, with this elaboratecombination of carrot and big stick, will generally react with some degree of panic. The coreof this will be what we can describe as 'biological' panic, a response to the opening-up of energy that accompanies the 'first puberty' at around five or six. This involves an increase incharge, similar to that of the teenage 'second puberty', of which anyone will be aware who isaround young children with open eyes.Surrender to pleasure, to the streaming of energy in our bodies, is for almost all of usaccompanied by anxiety and fear. We want to open, yet are desperately scared to, Instead wereact with some version of freezing or exploding, fighting or fleeing, under- or over-activity;with a frantically erotic style of being (the yearning block) or with retreat, denial of sexualfeeling altogether.For a very large number of children, this natural response gets very much amplified by theinterference of
adult
sexuality. The innocent erotic energy of children at this age can producesexual excitement in a lot of grown-ups whose own sexual development has been damaged.We are finding out in this decade just how many children have been sexually abused byadults, often during this first puberty but sometimes much earlier. The natural anxiety of opening-up then becomes a fully-fledged panic, as the, child is forced to deal withexperiences that are wholly inappropriate for them.This adult invasion can take very subtle forms as well: it is often an atmosphere of flirting andseductiveness, rather than any overt physical act. The child knows in her bodymind what isgoing on, but has no way of verbalising it even to herself. Both physical and emotionalinterference plug into the general sexual violence' of the situation - the child is beingpressurised in many ways to fit his or her erotic energy into the straitjacket of sociallyaccepted gender roles.The 'crisis character' is a component in all of us, though usually stronger in those who havehad to deal with a heavier dose of sexual abuse, physical or emotional (the holding andboundary positions seem the other response to abuse). As we have said, its main tactics arefreezing or exploding - opposite ways of trying to flee an intolerable excitementThese responses generally get submerged in children. After the flurry of sexual charge andinterest at about five, six or seven, they enter a 'latent phase' of apparent asexuality (in ourculture at least) until puberty recurs in the form of physical sexual maturity. But the sexualattitudes which then emerge are essentially
re
-emerging: they were formed during the 'firstpuberty', on the basis of how the child's already existing character armour confronted the issueof pelvic opening in the context of adult sexual pressure