Author Topic: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton  (Read 895 times)


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Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
« Reply #30 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.