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Bodywork Therapies and POIS => Bodywork Therapies & Techniques and POIS => Topic started by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 06:50:13 am


Title: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 06:50:13 am
PLEASE READ THIS FREE COPY OF THIS GREAT BOOK...written by Nick Totton.
It is all VERY relevant to Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome. Once you start the therapeutic process to end your POIS, you will come to understand this. 
Apologies for the way the wording goes wrong every now and then- it should still be readable though.


Reichian Growth Work has been out of print for some years, and we have not yet managed tofind an English language publisher to reprint it, although editions have appeared in Spanish(Argentina) and in Dutch (Karnak Press). However, we frequently get asked where copies canbe found; and although our own work has moved on, along with our lives, we still feel thatthis book has a valuable contribution to make. Therefore we are making it freely available onthe Internet, in a version which almost exactly matches the most recent (Dutch) printed text:this offers some important updates to the original book, without attempting to incorporateeverything we have found out since 1988.We would be happy to hear from anyone interested in discussing the book with us, or infinding out more about our current work.(Click herefor Nick Totton's website,herefor EmEdmondson.)

CONTENTS
 Chapter 1: ContextsChapter 2: Energy and ArmourChapter 3: SurrenderChapter 4: The SegmentsChapter 5: Growing UpChapter 6: Character PositionsChapter 7: More on CharacterChapter 8: TherapyChapter 9: PowerChapter 10: Primal PatternsChapter 11: Cosmic StreamingChapter 12: Connections and Directions
Further Reading



1 CONTEXTS
 
In this book we describe a form of therapeutic work with groups and individuals whichderives originally from the work of Wilhelm Reich, but also from a number of otherdevelopments in therapy and healing, especially since Reich's death in 1957. It is the style inwhich we, the authors, were trained, but which we have also developed in new directions.Although Reichian therapy has always attracted great interest - and still does - there is verylittle written about it which is useful for the ordinary reader.Some of Reich's own books areinspiring and moving, but those on the therapy itself and the theory behind it are verytechnical and hard to follow, aimed at an audience of medically-trained psychoanalysts. Theyare also very dated in relation to the sort of work actually being done at the presentIn writing this book, we have tried to avoid jargon as far as possible. New words aresometimes needed to describe new ideas and experiences, but we have defined each of theseclearly when it first appears, and remind you of its meaning when we use it again. Moregenerally, we have tried never to use a long word when a short one will do. We have writtenfor the sort of people who, we find, are interested in the work we do, many of whom are by nostretch of the imagination intellectuals. The new interest in therapy and growth work is part of a very broadly based concern with
change, on an individual level and on a social one. Manypeople in our society are deeply dissatisfied with their conditions of life, and more and moreof them are no longer willing to be the sort of person that society expects and forces them tobe - mentally, emotionally, spiritually, even physically.This book is for people who want to change.

Who Reich was

 If you want to know about Reich's life and work, several books are listed under 'FurtherReading' at the end of the book. In brief, Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) trained as a young manwith Freud in Vienna, and worked as a psychoanalyst. Besides making some importantadvances in technique, he soon 'burst the bounds' of psychoanalysis, moving into a deeperconfrontation both with the clients themselves, and with the social conditions which he saw ascreating and maintaining their problems.An energetic, combative and 'difficult' man, Reich managed in a few short years to attract theenmity of the Nazis, the Communist Party (of which he was a member for several years), andthe psychoanalytic establishment. As he travelled around Scandinavia and eventually to theUSA as a refugee from the Nazis, he managed to achieve some fundamental breakthroughs intherapeutic methods; in particular, he created the whole new field of bodywork.Reich became increasingly focused on life energy itself, and on finding ways to unblock,condense, channel and strengthen that energy, both in the human body and in the atmosphere.Above all, Reich was a person with open eyes: he noticed a lot of things which most peopleprefer to ignore, and this led him into many exciting new areas of enquiry - and attracted a lotof hostility.As well as giving therapy to individuals, and becoming involved with the healthy upbringingof children, Reich created devices like the 'orgone accumulator' (to concentrate life energy)and the 'cloudbuster' (with which he believed he could affect pollution and weather). Hebecame acutely sensitive to oppressive conditions in the physical and social atmosphere, andstruggled to find ways of combating these 'plagues'
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 06:53:21 am
 At the same time, Reich continued to come up against anger and aggression; very largelybecause of his open and celebratory approach to sex, which got him in hot water throughouthis life. In the last few years of Reich and his circle, there was a steady 'darkening', adistortion of feelings and perceptions, which derived at least partly from a disastrous 'oranur'experiment using orgone accumulators to neutralise radiation, but also from the constantpressure of both outside enemies and internal disciples.Finally, Reich was prosecuted by the US federal authorities, accused - quite falsely - of peddling his accumulators as a fake cancer cure. Reich could almost certainly have won thecase if he had fought on legal grounds: instead he refused to recognise the court's jurisdictionover 'issues of scientific truth'. The legal system in turn saw Reich as an awkward, suspectforeign crackpot; he was jailed for contempt, and died in prison of a heart attack shortlybefore he was due for release. His accumulators were destroyed, and his books burned by theAmerican government.Using Reich's techniques and reading his books, it is sometimes hard not to fall intodiscipleship. He was a person of extraordinary perceptions, and of great compassion andcourage: a big-hearted man. He was also, clearly, an extremely awkward customer, andsomeone who expected to get his own way. He also had his own hangups - an anti-homosexual stance, for example, with which we very strongly disagree.

Who we are
 We live together in Leeds with our young baby daughter and with Em's son. We both work astherapists and group leaders, moving into this work through doing a training in Reichiantherapy led by William West. This training, which finished in 1982, was only the beginning.As we started to work with clients, we found much that we didn't know, and searched outways of learning it, through books, through further training, and through talking out ourexperiences together and with other people.A result of that first Reichian training led by William was the creation of 'Energy Stream: thePost Reichian Therapy Association'. Three training courses later - one led by William, two byourselves - Energy Stream includes some thirty practising therapists, all working in their ownpersonal style and with a range of techniques, but all sharing the same commitment toReichian work.We talk about 'Reichian work', but what is it? There are many approaches which could claima right to that label. During his career Reich worked differently at different times, and thereare several schools of therapy descended from people he trained in various ways. There arealso several schools developed after Reich's death which have consciously changed his ideasand methods; many of these call themselves 'neo-Reichian'.We see our own work as very close to the essence of Reich's, but not everyone would agreewith us. We certainly don't know whether Reich would agree with us! We sometimes like tothink that he might be working in this sort of way if he was still alive, but there are manythings we do of which he strongly disapproved. So this book is about
our work; and not,either, specifically about Energy Stream's methods. However. we are very grateful toeveryone in Energy Stream for their support, stimulation and encouragement, especiallyWilliam West who originally trained us and gave us therapy; Annie Morgan, Rika Petersen

 and Sean Doherty, who helped lead the last training course; Mary Swale; and HollyClutterbuck, Maxine Higham and Pam Wilkinson, with whom Nick sorted out many of theseideas in a supervision group.This book is not intended to be a manual for therapists - although we hope it will be useful fortherapists. It is aimed mainly at anyone trying to change, searching for ideas about how tochange, about how we are and why we are like that. We are writing about 'human nature',human beings as part of nature, as natural beings. It is for a vision of
naturalness
, above all,that we thank Reich; and it is in pursuit of naturalness (which ultimately cannot be pursued)that we have learnt from and adapted many other ways of perceiving and working withpeople. Thank you to everyone who has helped us learn.We want to make it very clear that in writing a book about therapy we are not claiming to be'super shrinks'. Still less are we claiming to be totally clear, enlightened individuals who havesorted out all our problems. Anyone who knows us would find such an idea laughable. Wefelt that the book needed writing, and we felt able to do it. Now we have to go on trying tolive up to these ideas.You may notice that there are no case histories included in this book. It's always good fun toread about a therapist's clients and their sessions - as good as a novel - and in some ways it isvery informative. But it is also very easy - in fact, inevitable - to over-simplify the wholenessof a person's life and struggle. We felt that any of our clients would be bound to recognisethemselves, and that this sort of thumbnail sketch would be disrespectful to their courage andcomplexity. However, all our clients do of course feature in these pages, and we want to thank them as well. together with those who have attended our workshops, and especially thosewhom we have trained. There could be no book without you.Our method of collaboration has been for Nick (the verbally oriented one) to write chunks of it and show them to Em (the feeling oriented one), who has read them and explained to Nick how no ordinary person could make head or tail of it. Nick then went away and re-wrote untilit passed the test. Of course. we don't always agree on every detail, and some of what followsreflects more the views of one or other of us. But to a remarkable extent we do agree aboutpeople and therapy (after all, it was through Reichian therapy that we met in the first place).Meanwhile our own work moves on. Like the rest of Energy Stream, we have other interests,other skills. We have recently formed a separate identity, 'Selfheal', as a vehicle for the wholeof our healing work, including but not restricted to the 'Reichian' element. This doesn't meanthat we have turned our backs on anything we describe in this book. simply that the streamgoes on flowing, broadening and deepening, meeting with other streams, merging into agreater river, on the way to the sea.We hope that what follows helps you to flow
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 06:57:38 am
2 ENERGY AND ARMOUR
 
Our feelings and our bodies are like water flowing into water. We learn to swim within theenergies of the senses.
 Tarthang Tulku, Kum Nye Relaxation

He who remains passive when overwhelmed with grief loses his best chance of recoveringelasticity of mind.
 Charles Darwin, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and AnimalsLife has energy.Or rather, life
is
energy: moving, vibrating, seeking, pulsing. We may not be able to definelife energy, but we all experience it in our own beings, and perceive it in other people:watching a fine dancer or mime or Tai Chi exponent, making love, meditating, expressingstrong emotion, receiving or giving hand healing. Many people over the ages have givennames to the life energy and its different forms - 'prana'. 'magnetic fluid', 'vital essence', 'chi','od', 'archeus', 'kundalini', and many more. Reich's name for it was Orgone, which he made upfrom words like 'orgasm' and 'organism'.This life energy is the vitality of our being: when we are moved, this is what moves. Emotionsare e-motions, movements out; they are not just in our minds, but in our bodies, in the chargeof energy that builds up and. with luck, discharges; in the flooding of hormones, the surge of bodily fluids and electrical potential, expanding from deep within us towards the surface, orretreating into the caves of the abdomen, or flowing through and out via head and hands andlegs and pelvis, shifting form easily between muscular or electrical tension, fluid, sound,movement sensation, emotion.For example: I feel sorrow, but am inhibited about showing it. So as it 'rises' in me, maybe mythroat contracts - I'm 'all choked up', mucus forms and my throat aches; my chin tightens andtucks in as part of the effort to restrict flow in my neck; maybe my fists tense, and transmitthat 'holding' up my arms to my shoulders and throat - I'm 'keeping a grip on myself'.If my grief starts to break through the holding, probably I'll first sigh, cough or groan, releasewhat I'm 'swallowing down' in the form of sound or mucus. As a channel opens up, asensation of softening and melting flows up the sides of my throat and jaw. Another personcan actually watch my cheeks suffuse with fluid and colour, my face softening as the emotionex-presses (pushes out) through my eyes in the form of tears, with the piercing sweetness of release. At the same time my hands will open, my shoulders come forward in a vulnerable'giving' gesture as my chest heaves with sobs, my 'full heart melts'. As I surrender physicallyto my grief, my mind may fill with corresponding thoughts, memories and images.Thoughts, emotions, sensations, changes in electrolytic fluid, muscle tension and hormonebalance, flow of life energy: there is no point in saying that any one of these causes or comesbefore the others. They are different aspects of a single whole event in a single wholebodymind. We will focus on one or other of these aspects depending on what we are trying tofind out or do.Focusing on the play of life energy has the advantage of being fresh and uncompromised byour society's dubious assumptions about what feelings are. It gives the space to include manydifferent aspects of the bodymind. It's a good starting point, but we don't want to give theimpression that we think energy 'causes' thoughts. feelings or bodily changes. There is onlythe endless dance of transformation.



In fact we are all used to speaking about ourselves in energy-images. These metaphors areoften very literal, as when we say we feel full of energy, or drained and empty; our head iswhirling or stuffed up; we feel electric; someone else is magnetically attractive; we have itchyfeet; we melt with desire.If we look at the human being as an organism among other organisms, to see what it shareswith the rest of life, from amoebae to elephants, then we will almost certainly notice the role of pulsation.

Life is constantly expanding and shrinking, reaching out and pulling back inresponse to internal needs and to outside influences - the 'friendliness' or 'hostility' of theenvironment. These continuous wavelike vibrations are the organism's ongoing 'conversation'with the rest of the universe. In humans, one expression of this continuous pulsing is ourheartbeat, sending oxygenated blood out to the extremities of the organism and bringing wasteproducts back. Another, and particularly important for our purpose, is the breath.

Watch a small baby breathe, and you'll see how the whole of her body is involved, committed,swept up in the smooth wavelike expansion and contraction that reaches from top to toes. Forthe healthy baby there's no resistance, no avoidance of the involuntary breath-pulse; at the topof the out-breath the in-breath is born and the top of the in-breath turns out again, Yin fromYang and Yang from Yin, a constant exchange of polarities with the universe (Yin and Yangare ancient Chinese names for the two complementary poles of existence, the Active and the Receptive).As we grow up and confront this difficult world, however, a voluntary element soon creepsinto our breathing, a hesitation, a holding-back, which likewise affects our whole body fromtop to toes. In-breath and out-breath begin to separate from each other, to lose their seamlesscontinuity, to become more shallow and jerky, without the generous graceful flow. We maydevelop a tendency to constantly hold our breath, never fully emptying our lungs or,contrariwise, to keep our lungs permanently half empty. And so we lose our basic groundingin the universe, our identification with it. We become separate, lost, lonely, anxious beings.Why does this happen? If we
breathe freely and fully, then we feel freely and fully.

Openbreathing washes emotion through and out into expression; we are unable to hide it, eitherfrom ourselves or from each other. Yet from a very early age, most of us experience a need tosuppress some of our feelings.This is because our environment - initially mainly the adults who are caring for us - does notsupport us in our feelings. They reject our neediness or tears or anger. They threaten us withpunishment - including the withdrawal of love. Or they simply do not give the validation andcare which our baby-self needs in order to cope with powerful feelings. This process canbegin at birth or even sooner, as we shall see. It's no one's fault , generally speaking; all of uswho are parents know how our own anxiety and pain and practical problems interfere with thesincere wish to nurture our children. But the effect
is that children learn to hold back onfeeling - by holding back on its expression - by holding back on breathing.Don't worry if you are finding this difficult to follow: it is a theme to which we'll be comingback over and over again. But to make it a little more concrete, consider two examples.Imagine a baby who cries out as her natural way of expressing a need - hunger, cold, a desirefor company - and no one comes. It will take a long time for this to sink in: she will cry andcry again, but eventually she will stop. She suppresses her crying by holding her breath -which holds back her grief and anger, not identified consciously as feelings, but implicit in the whole state of her body.

Now imagine another baby who is picked up and manipulated by cold hands: not so much physically cold, but emotionally
cold, uncaring. Babies feel thesethings, and there will be a reaction of shock, a gasp, like the way we gasp if we step into coldwater. If this experience of cold touch is repeated often enough, then that gasp, that heldbreath, will become built in to that baby's body nature.These are only examples from among many ways in which an unfriendly environment caninterrupt the full, whole-body, involuntary pulsation of natural breathing. Muscles tenseagainst it, first in the diaphragm, which is our primary breathing muscle (see Chapter 4), andthen spreading into the chest, throat, back, belly, pelvis, arms and legs, face, head. The entirebody is drawn into a battle against itself, against its own natural impulse to breathe and feel.In effect the energy 'splits'. turns back on itself and blocks its own natural movement; likeIndian wrestling with ourselves.Sometimes the battle is conscious - whenever we deliberately tighten our jaw, tense our belly,swallow down emotion. But the infant's basic holding-back against breathing quite soonbecomes unconscious. If you think about it, this must happen: the purpose of the holding isprecisely to stop us feeling our feelings, and this can only work if it stops us knowing whatour feelings are. Emotions are bodily events; if they are blocked in the body, then they don'thappen in the mind either. The fundamental holding acts as a pattern
around which every laterdenial of feeling organises itself; we get very good at it indeed, artists and technicians of self-deception and self denial.
 Exercise 1 Take a moment now to check out how you are feeling and breathing. It's very likely that, whilereading the above, you've tightened yourself up to resist the inward stirring these ideascreate. So first put your attention in your belly and diaphragm - all around your navel. aboveand below. Is it gently rising and falling with your breath; or have you been holding it rigid? Are you able to deliberately relax it and let the tension flow out - perhaps with a sigh or agroan to help it along? Check out whether your chest, too, moves as you breathe - as part of acontinuous wavelike flow with your belly. If not, you are probably holding your shoulders,hands, and/or jaw stiff. Try to let them go, and experience the feeling they have been holdingon to. Allow yourself to breathe easily and fully; just watch where the holding is, if anywhere,and what thoughts cause an interruption to the flow. As you go on reading, try to come back  periodically to a conscious awareness of your own breath and body state.
 


 
Blocked breathing is the essence of armouring:
Reich's name for the state of chronic muscle tension and emotional holding-back by which almost all adults in our society are imprisoned.
Along with the suppression of breathing goes the suppression of specific impulses - to cry, to yell, to laugh, to hit to reach out for love, to run away. The muscles are tightened to stop us e-moting. moving out, and if this tightening happens regularly enough it becomes a chronic,unconscious habit, built into the structure of our bodies - part of our sense of ourselves, asfamiliar as an old scar.In fact, a lot of what we customarily identify as a person's 'self' is really their pattern of armouring: their high. tight shoulders, or stuck-out chest, or pulled-back jaw, or wide-open or narrowed-down eyes. 'Well, that's just the way I am,' they'll say. But in fact it's the way that person has
become, by cutting off certain forms of self-expression and emphasising others.Maybe one individual is constantly angry and aggressive, never letting herself feel soft, sad and small. Another is continuously polite and meek, censoring any assertiveness. As we shall see later, there are specific relationships between muscular armouring and emotional armouring: these cut-off emotions are locked into tense muscle patterns, locked in permanent,frozen battle with the suppressing impulses. They are imprisoned there like genies, bottled upin the rigid 'no' of our bodies. And, like genies, they can often be released by rubbing!Our held-in feelings have power.

When we liberate a feeling we can liberate not only the energy of the feeling itself, but also the split-off energy which has been devoted to holding it down. In doing this, we allow our breathing to open up, drawing on the infinite energy of the universe around us.
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 06:58:33 am
The 'Spastic I'
 Unfortunately this empowering process has a frightening side to it. It also involves releasingthe fear of consequences which made us shut down our feeling in the first place: the fear of adult anger or coldness or withdrawal, the fear of a dangerous universe. Even more, it meanschanging the whole basis of our identity - the sense of 'I' upon which our life is founded.Opening up can sometimes seem like a threat to our very survival.As Freud pointed out, our sense of 'I' (he used the German
 Ich
, though it was translated intoEnglish with the Latin word
 Ego
) starts out in the
body
. As the infant grows, she begins toorganise bodily sensations and impulses into a whole, to 'take command' of them and developan image of 'me' - when she looks in the mirror she realises that this image is herself, that thisis how other people see her. In a healthy and supportive situation, she can grow into apowerful, realistic capacity for self-management, based on a strong but relaxed sense of identity and wholeness.Tragically, our culture doesn't generally let this process of self-management happen naturallyin its own time and rhythm. Most children are fed and put to bed and toilet-trained to fit inwith the needs and timetables of adults. They are often forced with threats to learn rigidcontrol of processes like excretion which should be developing spontaneously. Small childrenliterally
cannot
control their anal sphincters: the muscle-nerve connections aren't formed. Sothey must tense up the whole pelvic floor in a massive, straining effort to 'hold it in', a tensionwhich easily becomes chronic, extending to the whole body and tightening the breath, so thatthe person 'holds themselves in' on every level.
 
11Similarly, if our feeding is controlled by timetable, or if we are forced to eat food we don'tlike, then we 'swallow' an external regulation of our bodily processes. and have to swallowdown our rage if we want to get fed at all. These are all examples of the way in which thewhole business of attaining self- management in our own body, which can be a proud and joyful affirmation of autonomy, very easily gets entangled with patterns of denial andnegative, so that our very sense of 'I' is bound up with bodily tension. Like boys at an old-fashioned public school, we learn to 'get a grip on ourselves'. and to
identify
with that grip.Feeling tense becomes part of our continuous background experience, so that full relaxationseems like a threat to our existence, as if we are going to melt and drain away completely.Just as muscles are forced into chronic spasm in order to comply with external restrictionsrather than inner self-regulation, so our 'I' develops a 'spastic', uncontrollably rigid emotionaltone - a set of fixed attitudes towards the world and other people which we are unable to varyin response to changing circumstances. The 'I' becomes identical with the body armour.'Armouring' is a good name for this process of physical and emotional rigidification. Musclearmour, like its medieval counterpart, is hard, stiff, restrictive, suffocating; also like ironarmour, its original purpose was
defence
. We have no reason to feel guilty and inadequateabout being armoured; on the contrary, it represents our skill and courage to survive in verydifficult circumstances.We have always done the best we can. making a rational decision to protect our vulnerableinsides from an unsafe world - and. since we're still here. we have succeeded! But the pricehas been high in lost pleasure and potential. Now that we are bigger and stronger we have theoption of melting our armour, re-experiencing our feelings in a safer way - and letting our softpink insides out to play in the sunshine!Of course, even now there isn't always sunshine; it isn't always safe or appropriate to be soft.People often get the idea that Reichian-type therapy will leave them vulnerable to whatevercomes along. But the whole aim is to regain the power to choose, the power to be loving andopen, or to scorch with righteous rage' or to close off totally for a while. Very few of us haveaccess to the whole range of possible reactions.Another way in which muscular armouring resembles its iron counterpart is that it tends to bearranged in
segments
: bands of tension that wrap horizontally round the body. constrictingflow along the head-to-feet axis. If you imagine how a worm or snake moves, in wavy pulses,this gives a good image of the free unarmoured body. But if something pins the serpent downat one point in its length, the graceful undulation turns into jerking and thrashing.

 
12This is like a human body becoming armoured in one segment: it can no longer expand andpulse in a smooth, expressive. unified way - expression becomes distorted and ugly, bothphysically and emotionally.Most of us are armoured in more than one place. It's as if the snake is a child's wooden toy,split up into separate stiff lengths and able to bend only at the joints between the segments, ina parody of undulation. Having lost our sense of unity with the world through disjointedbreathing, we lose our sense of
internal
unity through the disjointing effects of the armouring.We'll look in much more detail later on at the segments and what they mean, but it's worthemphasising here that the specific details of armouring, as Reich described them or as we usethem doing therapy - so many segments in such and such places - are rules of thumb ratherthan gospel truth. The human organism is immensely rich and complex, full of subtlechannels, links, patterns and mirrorings, and each human individual is in many ways unique.But the more each of us is armoured, the less freedom of expression we have, the lessindividuality and richness; and the more we tend to operate in a groove to correspond to themechanical system of the segments. It's the armouring that has segments, not the person; andthe process of therapy is precisely one of rediscovering our individual uniqueness.
Armouring and Illness
 We've used the word 'healthy' once or twice to describe the state of natural, unarmouredopenness. It's also the case that being armoured is the precondition for being ill in the medicalsense. When energy can't flow freely through the body, we get areas that are over-charged,where energy 'sticks' and stagnates, and other areas that are under-charged, where energy can'tget to at all. Over time, this sets up a chronic imbalance in the tissues and organs, whichallows infection or functional disorder to take hold.

 
13The sort of ailment which results is by no means random: our illnesses express, in vividdumb-show, the issues around which we tense and close off. To pick some trivial examples,most people who have a cough are suppressing anger - if you pretend to cough, and thenexaggerate it, you will find yourself roaring. Similarly, most colds have to do withunexpressed grief - the tears have to find some way out.This is a tremendous over-simplification: every illness is the expression of a complex andlongstanding set of issues. But we do see physical symptoms as the bodymind's attempt toresolve conflict, to break free from the constraints of the armouring. In Chapter 4 we shalllook in more detail at the relationship between specific illnesses and specific forms of armouring.
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 06:59:20 am
3 SURRENDER
 
 Disappointment is a good sign of basic intelligence. It cannot be compared to anything else: it is so sharp, precise, obvious and direct ... Once we open ourselves, then we land on what is.
 Chogyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual MaterialismIn the last chapter we saw that what Freud (or his translators) called the Ego can beunderstood as 'the grip we get on ourselves', the self-image which knits together bodilyimpulses and sensations into a whole. In practice we do this by rejecting a whole crowd of impulses as 'not
really
me', thus making these feelings unconscious. This is what happensmentally; the bodily parallel is that we take on a pattern of chronic tension which is constantlypreventing certain movements and expressions - they 'just don't feel natural'. The 'spastic I',with its terror of letting go, is identical with the spastic musculature,
unable
to let go becausethe holding-on isn't even conscious.But the 'I' doesn't
have
to be like this - or we would be in a real mess. It is possible to have asense of self that is relaxed, flexible, open to change and spontaneity, able to surrender to ourown impulses and to the reality of the world around us.Any sort of self-awareness and intention is going to carry muscle
tone
- the differencebetween a limp, flaccid arm, and one which is relaxed but energised and ready for action.However, if we keep ourselves
 permanently
ready for action, we tend to lose the capacity torelax; this is what is called a chronic anxiety state, or stress. It produces a rigid, inflexiblebody, and an 'I' to match.So what makes possible a relaxed 'I', a subtle, flexible, pulsating bodymind? The keyword is'surrender': not to anyone or anything
else
, but to
ourselves
.For some people the idea of surrender to ourselves, to our own feelings, will make immediatesense. For others it needs more explanation: it involves one of the central ways in whichtherapy is different from everyday ways of being in our society - one of therapy's
radical
 aspects.If it's raining outside, we don't generally say - or not at least without conscious childishness -'But it
mustn't
rain any more, it's been raining all day and I don't
want
it to!' However, peopleconstantly take this sort of attitude towards their emotions: 'I can't go on crying like this'; 'I'veno right to feel so angry'; 'I must stop being frightened'.

 
14We suggest that your feelings are like the weather: there's no sense in arguing with them.If I am in a state of sorrow, for instance, then it makes no difference how 'good' or 'bad' thereasons are. The sorrow is
there
, a unitary bodymind state, woven of ideas, emotions,physiological changes, energy flows. I can't expunge it by an act of will. All I can do is stopmyself
expressing
it, and perhaps blank out my consciousness of it. What this ensures is that
my sorrow will continue
- forever, quite possibly; locked up in the muscles I've tensed to stopmyself sobbing and weeping; locked up in my unconscious mind. It won't simply go away.The paradox is that feelings change through and in their expression. It's by opening to mysorrow, or anger, or fear, or whatever, by truly accepting that this is, for now, my reality, thatI am able to move beyond it. To complete themselves, feelings generally have to pass throughconsciousness and out again: it seems to be the only exit.We experience this extraordinary miracle over and over again: just by surrendering to ourfeelings, we see them change. The trap that seemed inescapable, the wound that seemedunhealable, the dilemma that seemed insoluble - suddenly they are different - smaller, softerand more malleable; because our whole bodymind is softer and more flexible in its approachto the world.Surrendering to our feelings is not about giving in to difficulties, but about liberating ourenergies to confront them in whatever way is appropriate. To face the world we need to faceourselves, as we are rather than as we would like to be. Neither is this to say that we shouldswitch off our intelligence. We have to acknowledge sometimes that our emotional reaction isover the top, irrational, that we are responding to old memories and not to present facts. Butthis acknowledgement provides the context in which we can effectively let go to the feelingsand thus let go of them - knowing them for what they are.Emotions
always
have a rational basis. Fear is the bodymind's shrinking away from realthreat; anger is the mobilisation to blast away whatever blocks our creative expression -nature's Dynorod! Often, though, this rational basis is in the past not the present: we areresponding in ways that were appropriate for vulnerable children, but are no longerappropriate for adults with a potential for strong and independent action.So it is often helpful to have a safe space in which we can express our feelings away from thepeople who may have sparked them off: for instance, a therapy session where we can beat upa cushion rather than our lover. At other times, though, the appropriate form of discharge is inreal life action, by getting angry with whoever is oppressing us and making them stop.We can use our heads, and other people's, to work out which sort of situation is which, todisentangle the mixture of past and present which is usually involved. We can deal with theSocial Security much more effectively if we aren't seeing them as our mother, giving orwithholding vital nourishment! Often it's good to try hitting the cushion first and see whatrational here-and-now core of feeling is left afterwards.The key point is that emotions are e-motions, movements
out
, their natural function isprecisely to clear what stops us moving on. Feelings are value-neutral, neither good nor bad,simply
there
. It's not our feelings that cause us trouble, but our feelings
about
feelings, ourshame, embarrassment, denial - our resistance.
 
15'Resistance' is a word for all the ways in which people seek to avoid their own movement,their own living process. And one paradoxical form that resistance can take is to beatourselves up about our own resistance! 'Oh God, I'm so blocked. why can't I let go, why can'tI change?' It is important to see that resistance in therapy is like resistance in politics - itoriginates in
 fighting oppression
.If a child finds its feelings invalidated by the adult world in the ways we discussed in the lastchapter, this is oppression of a very powerful kind. It's a life-threatening experience, and thechild responds like a resistance movement in an occupied country - by going underground.We have all built up defences against outside threat and inside emotion for the best possiblereasons, and in the best possible way. So let's congratulate ourselves, and respect ourresistance as we might respect a guerrilla leader from some past war of liberation. The onlytrouble is that the guerrilla leader may have got stuck in a posture that actually obstructs theliberation for which she was fighting!Therapy is one way of investigating this sort of situation. Almost certainly our circumstanceswill have changed since childhood, and it would probably make sense to revise some of ourpast decisions, let go of some of our resistance, let go of some of the limitations we haveplaced on our self-expression.What we are really talking about is surrender to
reality
, the reality of our own feelings, and of the interactions which spark them off: the reality of the past, and of the present; the reality of our body's need for breath, for pleasure, for rest, for activity. Because the reality whichconfronts us is constantly changing, we need to be very flexible in order to deal with it: weneed to be secure enough to face the bad along with the good, rather than run away intofantasy. That security and flexibility are rooted in a sense of
belonging
, being part of theuniverse, being fed by it in a constant pulsating exchange of energies: a sense that is part of our natural birthright, and is inherent in full free breathing.
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:01:40 am
Sex and Surrender
 To stay soft and open, we need the capacity to discharge tension that builds up in us throughthe stresses of living. Free breathing helps to minimise this build-up - we let go of tensionwith each out-breath. But the 'I' needs periodically to let go completely, to 'melt' as thearmoured muscles melt, to relinquish control and allow the spontaneous rhythms of theorganism to emerge. A natural, innate, powerful way of doing this is through lovemaking andorgasm: insofar as we can surrender to our own body, its pleasure washes us free of thetensions and blockings that have built up. The movements of orgasmic release are wavelike,pulsating, an involuntary contraction and relaxation of the whole body that transcendsconsciousness.So can we all get healthy or stay healthy by making love? If only it was that simple. For a fewpeople it is, or nearly so. It's one of those Catch 22 situations: the more soft and open you arealready, the easier it is to stay so. The way our body seeks to move in orgasm is totallydifferent in nature from the controlled, circumspect movements of the armoured bodymind.The 'spastic I' perceives involuntary movement - in sense, quite rightly - as a dreadful threat toits survival. It panics, and clamps down even harder - perhaps tries to take control of theorgasmic movements, to 'let go on purpose'. For most of us, making love creates tension at thesame time as releasing it.

 
16Orgasmic surrender cannot really be separated from surrender to life and spontaneity ingeneral, surrender to our selves. The way we relate to sexual excitement matches the way werelate to other sorts of stimulus: the way we live our lives. So the work that we do is not 'sextherapy'; but neither do we seek to disguise the central role of sexuality in life, and of orgasmas a form of discharge. We are also well aware that much of people's unconscious anxiety andtension has a specifically sexual content.Orgasm in the sense of surrender to the involuntary is something rather different from simplemechanical spasm or heavy breathing. Many people influenced by Reich's ideas have madesomething of a fetish out of the 'Total Orgasm', treating it as a specific goal, something youeither 'get' or 'don't get'. This is unrealistic, and very much at odds with Reich's central pointabout letting go and saying yes to our pleasure wherever it takes us. (Reich himself was notable to follow through consistently with his own best insights.) Sexual release is a primaryform of discharge, a way to stay soft and sweet. But it can be directly worked for and learntonly in limited ways: it is above all a function of our overall openness and capacity to handlepleasure and excitement.So our therapy doesn't simply work on sexuality as such, or on tension in the pelvic areaalone. It seeks to encourage an overall loosening of the armour, a release of anxiety whichwill make it possible to give in to our own impulse for genital pleasure. Breathing is anaccessible yardstick of openness and spontanei- ty, and Reich noticed that when a person isrelaxed and breathing freely and fully, the movement of her body is similar, in a gentle andunchanged way, to the movement of orgasm. As we breathe out, lying on our backs, thepelvic rocks
 forward
and
up
, while at the same time our throat comes forward as if to meetour pelvis. Our head and shoulders fall back and open in a vulnerable gesture of surrender.This is identical for men and women
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:02:55 am
 
17'correctness'. Reich called this full, free breath the 'orgasm reflex'; by definition, a reflex issomething which bypasses conscious control.Full, free breathing is not a state, but a direction: we can always breathe more or less than weare doing at the moment. Exploring what happens as we try to alter or increase our breath - orrather, to stop holding it back and distorting it - is a direct route to the heart of therapy,involving us in a long term project of melting armour in all parts of our body, all aspects of our character. When we find ourselves, for a while, breathing very freely, we experience allsorts of strange and pleasurable sensations in our bodyminds, an opportunity to directlyperceive the flow of life energy in ourselves, which Reich called 'streaming'.The flow of Orgone is immediately experienced as pleasure; its blocking as unpleasure.But pleasure, for most people, is very often bound up with anxiety. It makes the 'Spastic I' feelthat it is losing its identity; it brings back bodymind memories of childhood situations whereour pleasure was frustrated, together with the associated feelings of grief, fear and rage. If ourfirst reaction to pleasure beyond 'a certain limit is
no
rather than
 yes
, then our wires needuncrossing. We need to unpeel, layer by layer, the different negative feelings that have cometo overlay our innately joyful, playful response to energy flow.But it's plain too that making love isn't
vital
to being in a good state (as Reich seems to say itis). There are many people, for example, who are celibate but who use meditation or otherbodymind disciplines to keep themselves soft and clear. It's also
very
plain - as Reich waswell aware - that sexual activity as such is no measure of health or pleasure - frantic fuckingcan be precisely an avoidance of surrender.So if you don't seek orgasmic surrender, perhaps the best question is 'Why not?' Some reasonsare better than others. A long term relationship may go through effectively 'asexual' phases -and yet both partners feel it would be destructive to look for sexual satisfaction elsewhere.Also. sex and sexuality in our culture carry a tremendous weight of
 political
meanings whichmake it hard to simply follow our feelings - our feelings may be contradictory. Above all,heterosexual love - and therefore, homosexual love in a hetero society - is intimately boundup with power and patriarchy. We'll come back to these matters in Chapters 6 and 9; for now,we just want to say that because of this political charge, sexual surrender becomes even morefrightening. Surrender to our own feelings is not easily separated from surrender to someoneelse, or to a particular sexual ideology. It can be difficult to disentangle saying 'yes' to ourbodies from saying 'yes' to patriarchy, because in a sense we may experience our bodies ascolonised and imperialised by society's models of sexuality, power and pleasure.The way forward through this jungle, hard though it is, is surely to stay with exactly whatcomes up for us when we try to let go, breathe, and feel ourselves. If we can accept and ownour sensations and emotions, without judgement or denial, then we can eventually find theway through to our truth, a truth based on far more solid foundations than any intellectualmodel. This means being able to face the pain and fear of our original childhood confrontationwith sexual roles and rules.In the next chapter, we shall look at the way we tighten up each area of our body, eachsegment of armouring, against surrender to feeling, to pleasure, and to reality
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:03:59 am
4 THE SEGMENTS
The segmental arrangement of the muscular armour represents the worm in man.
 Wilhelm Reich, Character AnalysisNow let us look at how armouring works in practice; where the different 'segments' arelocated, the sorts of emotions that tend to be stuck unexpressed and unexperienced in thetense muscles of each body area, and the sorts of physical symptoms that tend to accompanythese tensions. We need to remember that people usually don't know about their ownarmouring: the muscle tension exists to protect us from conscious realisation of our needs andfeelings, which may come as an extreme shock to us when the armouring gives way. It alsotends to make us unaware of the tension itself, which through long familiarity feels 'normal'.We must also bear in mind that as well as being choked up with intense held feeling, asegment can in effect be 'emptied' of charge by spastic muscles around the area keepingenergy and feelings
out
, in an alternative strategy for self-control. There is more than onelayer of musculature in any given area of our body; we may be relaxed at one level, tight atanother.What follows is necessarily simplified. Although the seven segments can be a tremendouslyuseful way of seeing patterns of holding, they are only a tool - only one way of seeing things.As we go through the segments, we will be constantly pointing out interlinkings betweenthem - other, equally valid, ways of understanding our bodies. The segments are to a largeextent artificial, reflecting the artificial bodymind pr~ of self-armouring.The seven segments, as shown in the illustration, can be identified by the main feature of eacharea: the eyes; the jaw; the neck; the heart; the waist; the belly; and the pelvis and legs. Weshall look at each in turn, working down the body in the direction that an embryo grows in thewomb, the direction that our bodywork tends to move, from crown to base.
 
19
The eye segment ('ocular')
 The first and uppermost segment includes the scalp, forehead, eyes, cheeks, ears, and the baseof the skull. It is an area of intense charge, containing as it does two crucial 'windows' on theworld, our organs of sight and hearing. Whether because of this, or because of the location of the brain, most people mentally place their '1' in this segment; this is where we watch the
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:04:54 am
Such notions and experiences are themselves a product of armouring. They show the extent of cut-offness from our heart, guts and sex. The mind is a bodymind - not a headmind - however'natural' it may seem to be 'in our heads'.One very common effect of working to melt the armour is that people's centre of awarenessshifts downwards, into the 'heartlands' of the body. We begin to experience our heads, weirdlyat first, as just another limb like our arms or legs. We start to realise how stiffly we have beenholding our head, so as to stay's' it; and how tension in and around our eyes represents theneed to 'hold ourselves up' through seeing, rather than through the support of our legs and feet- desperately gripping on to the world with our eyes, in the same sort of way that whenwewere learning to stand we kept ourselves erect by gripping onwith our hands.As well as being a vital channel for information and contact eyes and ears have also been asource of
threat
in our lives. Scary and existence-threatening energy has invaded us throughour sight and hearing - the coldness in the look of adults who should be caring for us, forexample, the anger or pain in their voices. Most of us came into the world in the agonisingglare of hospital lights, the cacophony of hospital noises, later, we may have tried to minimisedangerous excitement by 'not looking', 'not seeing' stirring images, 'not hearing' the confusingsounds of our parents making love.So very often the eyes and ears are in a permanent state of blocking which says 'I won't see -won't hear - won't understand'. Muscles inside and around the eye sockets, and at the base of the skull, are in constant tension, stopping us from really focusing on the world around us,from opening up to reality.
 Exercise 2
 Try an experiment yourself.. sit upright, and bum your head as far as it will comfortably go toone side. When it reaches a stopping point let your eyes carry on round until they too reach

 
21
their comfortable limit - no need to strain, then bring the eyes very slowly back round until, asthey face forward again in the head, they 'pick up' the head and both continue moving back round to the front of the body. The illustration should make this clear. The point is that theeyes should move continuously, without jumping, so they 'sweep' the field of vision, carryingthe head along with them. Keep breathing while you do it!
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:05:29 am
 
21
their comfortable limit - no need to strain, then bring the eyes very slowly back round until, asthey face forward again in the head, they 'pick up' the head and both continue moving back round to the front of the body. The illustration should make this clear. The point is that theeyes should move continuously, without jumping, so they 'sweep' the field of vision, carryingthe head along with them. Keep breathing while you do it!
 Most people find this exercise very difficult - to let their eyes move slowly and continuouslyrather than jumping forward in spurts, impatient to see 'what's next'. This impatience has aquality of fear in it, and repeating the experiment a few times to each side can make usconscious of a great deal of anxiety about seeing,
really seeing
, the world around us. We tendto filter reality through a screen of prior judgement so as to protect ourselves from dangerousexcitement or pain, and this anxiety is bound into tense muscles around the eyes.A similar process happens with the ears, and with our thinking processes. The words we useabout thinking embody these connections: 'I see what you mean', 'I don't like the sound of that'. In French, 'entendu' means both 'heard' and 'understood'.The core of the armouring is actually
inside
the head, in the small muscles that move our eyes,and in the muscles behind our ears and at the base of the skull, some of which are reflexly co-ordinated with subtle eye movements. Blocking in all these areas can give a hard, blank,superficial expression to the eyes, or a cloudy 'absent look - both masking deep fear.Shortsightedness, longsightedness, deafness, etc., are very much bound up with armouring of the eye segment, and the same goes for inability to smell - a very powerful and fundamentalsense linking us with our animal heritage.Repression of contact with the world through eyes, ears and thinking covers up a deeper
neediness
. Eye contact which is loving and supportive gives us a fundamental anchoring inthe world: it says 'you exist, I see you'. When the channels are open, the heart speaks throughthe eyes, and comforting sounds and smells can give an almost equally deep reassurance. If this sort of validation is missing in very early childhood, then someone's ability to make


 
22proper contact through the eye segment can be profoundly injured. They tend to 'go away inthe eyes' and in their thinking: closeness can be experienced as invasive, threatening - only inisolation are they safe.Similarly. they may develop ideas which are bizarrely isolated from how most people see theworld.With less extreme damage, the urge for contact may simply take a diversion, and expressitself in a way which is distorted and therefore less threatening: as with people whose life isorganised around a
need to see
- voyeurs, intellectuals, detectives, journalists - and therapists!Which is a good moment to stress that reaching out with eyes, ears and mind is a healthy,creative process - unless it coincides with a block to making deep emotional contact.As well as being windows, the eyes are doors: they are a channel for emotional expression.
 All
feelings, to be fully released, need to come out through the eyes. Besides the obviousexample of crying, the eyes must release fear, anger, joy, and so on in appropriate ways inorder to stay soft and open. Different people tend to be able to show different feelings throughtheir eyes, and to block other ones; and these tendencies can often be seen in the way we holdthe muscles of this segment
 Exercise 3
  Look in a mirror, and raise your eyebrows as far as you possibly can. What does this look like? What emotion does it convey? Now screw your eyes up tight, lower the brow: see what the apparent emotion is now. Keep breathing, and move as fast as you can between these two positions, several times; how does this make you feel? Is it easy for you to do? Is one positionharder than the other? Relax into your normal eye position for a moment, let yourself breathe,and see how you look in the mirror and how you feel inside.
 As we hope you will agree, the wide open eyes show an expression of
 fear
; and if you keptbreathing in this position, you may even have felt some of this fear. People who habituallykeep their eyes like this are generally unaware of it, getting them to exaggerate, or converselyto screw their eyes up tight can make them suddenly aware of the extreme tension there, andof the underlying fear and sadness. It's a position which helps one cope with being seen, andis common in politicians, but also in people who have had very frightening visual experiencesin childhood.Screwed-up eyes may convey several different emotions: anger. desperation to see, anxiety.Notice whether your cheek muscles also screw up tight, turning your face into a mask. Whenpeople habitually use their faces in this way. it's as if their eyes have retreated into their head -'I can see out, but you can't see in'. Flat, stiff, heavy cheeks, on the other hand, are oftenholding tremendous grief and unshed tears.Another emotion often held in the eye segment is
worry
: the wrinkled brow and fixed gaze of compulsive thinking. It doesn't matter what the person is thinking about
now
- it could beabsolutely anything; but originally they will have taken refuge in thinking as an escape routefrom intolerable childhood pressures - for example. trying to work out how to satisfycontradictory demands from mother and father.The 'ivory tower intellectual' is demonstrating a similar, perhaps more successful, form of escape: the skull is a literal ivory tower, high and dry above the scary and confusing world of
 
23the body. Intellectuals who try to ignore body and emotions have concentrated on the genuineerotic pleasure of thought to the exclusion of most other things.Thinking is a real, healthy pleasure, but surely only in harmony with other functions, not inisolation from them. Often there is considerable panic bound up in this stance - about sexualfeelings, and also about bodily assertiveness and rage. The opposite form of defence is foundin people who fog up their own thinking processes as a protection against painful realities,
making
themselves stupid and incompetent, and giving their eyes either a dull smug look, or apeering vagueness.These are some examples to stimulate your own observation of what people do with theireyes. The eye segment will be involved in suppressing any and all feelings; but thefundamental blockings here are of very
 young
emotions and experiences, our primalinteractions with the world, starting at birth or earlier. Through the crown of our heads and thespace between our eyes, we are linked to sky and cosmos, to webs of subtle energy, tosomething much bigger than our individual self. Pain and danger may make us close thesechannels down, or may make us retreat into a 'spirituality' which is ungrounded in the realityof our bodily life.Apart from defects of vision and hearing, the most obvious physical symptom connected witheye segment armouring is chronic headaches - stemming from tense muscles at the base of theskull and around the eyes. We believe as well that specific ailments like styes, conjunctivitis,sinusitis and so on can be linked with eye segment armouring; often they all occur when aspecific feeling is being held back about some life situation, and in particular when someoneis not allowing themselves to cry
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:06:11 am

 
25
 Exercise 4
 You can experiment in front of the mirror, pushing your chin forward and pulling it back as far as possible - while still breathing. How do these positions make you feel? What effect dothey have on the rest of your face, if any? Does one feel easier or more natural than theother? Move between them a few times, then let your jaw relax and see how it looks and feels . And while you're at it, do what a child does when trying to hold back tears: tighten your chinmuscles up, clamping your lips together.
This 'stiff lower lip' is an expression we can all recognise in children, and in very many adultswho keep these muscles permanently stiff, holding back a deep and by now unconscioussadness. This may be combined with a tension
under
the jaw, an area linked with the tonguemuscles, which should be soft and supple but in adults seldom is. The sound held in thisregion is the angry yell of a baby whose needs are not being recognised.
 Exercise 5
 The simplest way to check out the armouring of your jaw segment is to look in the mirror,raise your chin slightly, and let your mouth drop open. Don't force it, but just see how far it  fails under its own weight. If your jaw is free, then the 'hinge' muscles in front of the ears willlet it drop wide open - enough, say, to insert three fingers sideways on between your upper and lower teeth; but more likely, there will be one or another sort of holding that keeps your mouth half closed. Breathing freely with your jaw dropped like this could put you in touchwith the specific emotions and tensions around your jaw.
 As with the eyes, under the hard blocking in the jaw are soft feelings of need. Naturallyenough, these are very much bound up with feeding, and the baby's pleasure in sucking: any

 
26disturbance in this phase of life will be reflected later in jaw armouring - especially anger anddisappointment about not being fed when hungry, harsh or premature weaning, or a generallack of warm contact in the feeding relationship.It is widely accepted that we pick up many of our mother's emotions through her milk - thehormone balance varies with her state of being. And more generally, both breast and bottlefed babies are highly sensitive to the feeling-connection with their mother or any nurturingadult: her involvement or preoccupation, her happiness or sadness. Our reactions to this, ourfeelings of not getting what we need from her, will lodge among other places in the jawsegmentThe muscles which move our jaw link in to the base of the skull, which is thus a point of connection between eye and jaw segments: a crucial body area which often collects a gooddeal of tension, and sometimes has to deal with real contradictions between the two segments:a person's face may be split in two. so that the eyes and mouth express quite differentemotions - happiness in the mouth and fear in the eyes, for example.Migraine headaches have recently been linked with tension in the jaw, causing a displacedbite which transmits up into the head. Tooth and gum problems of all kinds are related tosuppressed emotions and the resulting tension; in particular we have noticed a relationshipbetween tooth abscesses and the need to express hidden anger. Coughs and colds can be partof a suppressive or releasing process in this area.
Neck and throat segment ('cervical')
 In each segment it is possible and often helpful to distinguish a soft, inside, 'Yin' aspect (oftenin the front) and a hard, outside, 'Yang' aspect. For the jaw this is represented in the differencebetween the sucking, melting impulses of the tongue and palate, and the assertive biting andgrowling of the teeth and chin. With the next segment the difference is particularly clearbetween the softness of the throat and the hardness of the neck.

 
27Much of the expressive energy which develops in our torso has to work its way up through thenarrow channel of the throat in order to emerge through the mouth and eyes. It's not surprisingthat this passage easily becomes jammed up, and the word anxiety itself comes from the Latin
angustus
, which means narrow'. The choking, strangling, 'can't get through' feeling of jammedup energy can set up tremendous anxiety in the throat area, sensations which we probablyassociate unconsciously with birth - with being stuck, half-suffocated, in another narrowpassage, perhaps even with the cord around our neck, certainly with our throat full of mucus.In bodywork therapy a huge amount of coughing is sometimes necessary to 'clear the throat',both energetically and emotionally. Mucus has a strange capacity to create itself. as it seems,out of nowhere, as a representation or embodiment of held feelings.In fact, one of the most powerful and therapeutic tools can be to induce someone to retch andgag, while breathing and letting the sound come. All the swallowing down' of feelings thatwe've been doing for a lifetime is turned round; the energy starts to move up and out, and weexperience it directly as a melting and softening of throat, jaw and eyes all at once. There isalso a fat of fear released - many people hate gagging. and are scarcely ever sick, mainlybecause they unconsciously feel they must keep their feelings down at all costs. Whensomeone becomes secure and strong enough to let themselves retch, the effect can beastonishingly liberating. On the other hand. there are people who retch and gag very easily,and often, as a way of avoiding having to take in and digest feelings.The fear held in the throat seems to have a different quality from that of the eye segment Theeyes are afraid of invasion and dissolution on what we can call an 'existential' level, while thethroat often seems to hold a fear of real bodily death rather than ego-annihilation. It's as if ourbirth process is also our introduction to the reality of death - and the throat is a place wherethis death-fear roosts in us. Then, later on, it attracts to itself our fear of our own murderousimpulses. We strangle ourselves on our own hatred as the urge to hit and hurt and tear, whichdevelops in our hands if our love and pleasure are frustrated, gets pulled back up our arms and jammed into the muscles round the base of our throat We turn our anger on ourselves, andstrangle ourselves rather than someone else.This is a complicated and important sequence, an excellent example of how armouring forms,and it's worth going over it again to help make the process clear. Notice, to begin with, thatfrom our viewpoint the anger and aggression are not
 primary
(as they would be for someother therapies): human nature does not involve wanting to hurt people, but wanting to loveand be loved, to make warm contact. It is when this warmth is rejected that anger - quiteappropriately - comes, but children's fear of adult violence then intervenes to block any direct'hot' expression of anger. The
outward
movement, first of love and pleasure then of rage,becomes an
inward
retreat, which tends to stick at the base of the throat. Warmth turns tocold, and freezes our muscles.Thus because we can't vent frustration, we block off our search for love as well. Hands can'treach out for contact, throats can't open in a giving, surrendering way as they want to do.Often, before they can have soft feelings in their throat, people need to act out a state very likethe stereotype fairytale witch with her strangled cackle, claw-like hands and spiteful hate,which very accurately portrays a throat block!
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:21:50 am
Although hands and arms connect mainly with the heart segment, we have just seen that theyalso relate strongly to the throat. You can see too how the throat links in strongly with themouth and jaw: sucking and voice both involve both segments. One could say that the neck
in contrast, links via the base of the neck to the eyes. The neck has the job of supporting thehead, and the attitude which the eye segment takes towards the world will very much affectand be affected by how the neck operates.If the eyes are holding on desperately, then the neck will tend to be correspondingly rigid andinflexible - a proud, 'stiff-necked' attitude may manifest, covering up deeper fear. The morethat someone is stuck in their head as opposed to inhabiting the whole body, the more tensionwill be found in their neck - it has to stop the head from failing off, or from being floodedwith body-feelings. The neck may be stretched out nervously into the world, or protectivelyscrunched up into the shoulders like a turtle.So the combination of eye-linked neck and jaw-linked throat can produce all sorts of differentpostures in this segment Two very important muscles are the big sternocleidomastoids, whichrun on either side from the base of the skull just behind the ears, round the side of the neck,down to the front of the breastbone holding the entire segment together. You may notice thatwhen you are tired and tense these muscles become painful; many headaches originate hereand slowly work their way up into our heads as we try to force ourselves to feel all right bystiffening the posture of our head and neck-Often there is a tendency in people to pull the head back, scrunching up the base of the skullas if to say 'I'm undefeated, 1 won't bow down', but at the same time retreating from facing theworld in front of us. In fact this posture is often associated with short-sightedness, and long-sightedness with pushing the head forward.Many of us are afraid to let our necks go fully, and (as the Alexander Technique emphasises) holding on here can be the central cause of tension and contraction patterns throughout the body.


Exercise 6
You can explore the state of your neck by lying on your back with your head on somethingsoft, and turning it from side to side as rapidly as possible. Don't hold your breath; if you can,let your head flop completely from side to side - and leave your shoulders flat on the floor, just move head and neck. Does this make you sick and dizzy? If so, it's an indication of tension. Also, try lifting your head and bringing it down strongly onto a pillow. Repeat several times; keep breathing, and again, don't use your shoulders. What does this feel like? If  possible, get a friend to help by putting their hands round and under your head, and lifting it gently, moving it from side to side and up and down. Can you let them control the movement,or do you involuntarily help them with your own muscles? Do you have a similar need to stayin charge in your life?
Heart segment ('thoracic')
 The chest, shoulders and upper back, arms and hands, between them make up the heartsegment which must be open for us to express 'big' feelings, strong, expansive emotions,coming out in full resonant voice and powerful gestures. For most of us the heart is to agreater or lesser extent closed off, injuring our capacity for deep feeling and deep contact;because, consciously or unconsciously, it feels bruised, or broken, or frozen, or imprisoned, orhiding.Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan teacher, tells us that true contact means taking on andowning a certain painfulness that goes with being open: 'The genuine heart of sadness comes
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:24:10 am
rom feeling that your nonexistent heart is full ... Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart.You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willingto share your heart with others.'What accompanies this opening up on a bodily level is a melting of the muscular armour inchest and shoulders, so that we are able to breathe fully into our chest - and out again. There isvery often some interruption to this full cycle of inbreath and outhbreath. As we have seen,one person may hold her chest permanently half-full of air, never breathing out, while anotherperson may never really breathe
in
. Often there is a prolonged pause between breathing in andbreathing out, or vice versa.


Exercise 7
  If you return to the mirror, you may be able to see what these two opposite forms of holdingmean. Breathe in as deeply as you can, and hold it: what does this look like? Now push all theair out of your lungs, and hold this position: what attitude to life are you portraying?
 You may well find that with your chest held full, you look
afraid
. Gasping air is a reflexaccompaniment to a frightening shock. A permanent gasp goes along with high tightshoulders, and often with clenched hands. These are all part of the same fear pattern, inscribed

on the body by repeated frightening experiences in early life. The fear is often covered upwith
defiance
- sticking out your chest to make yourself look big, clenching your fists to look aggressive - but there is a tension, and often a look of powerlessness, in the arms whichreveals the underlying meaning. It's a common result of having an authoritarian father, andcan often be seen in skinheads and other teenage gang members.When you breathe out as far as possible, your chest now caves in and your shoulders slumpdown and forward: an image of
defeat
. People who are stuck in this sort of posture havegenerally given up. Through constant frustration, especially in early life, they have formed theidea that it is safest and least upsetting to have as little energy as possible in their bodies so, asfar as is compatible with staying alive, they've given up breathing in,Which of these postures felt more natural and easy to you?There are many styles of protecting our heart from the world. Some people's chests scarcelymove at all as they breathe: if you press down gently on the breastbone, it feels like a solidplate of armour, or a thick layer of rubber. With others, the chest gives completely to the leastpressure - there is no assertiveness at all, no sense of 'here I am'. Sometimes one feels afraid topress at all, there is such a sense of brittleness and fragility. Some people are 'pigeon-chested'or 'barrel-chested' - two different ways of sticking yourself out rigidly and ungivingly into theworld; not allowing the easy natural exchange of energies represented by the in-and-out of thebreath. Everyone has their personal style of armouring.Whatever else may be going on in a person, their shoulders are usually a reservoir of unexpressed rage. This rage, again, can be held in many different styles: high and tight, orpulled back to scrunch between the shoulderblades, or screwed up in the armpits. Generally itneeds release via the arms, smashing your fists down on to a cushion, beating a mattress withyour elbows (often necessary before energy can come down into the forearms and hands),scratching, tearing, pinching.
 Exercise 8
 You can find out how free your shoulders and arms are by moving them around: 'shrug' your shoulders in a circular movement from back to front, and then from front to back, working your elbows like a clucking chicken. Raise your arms slowly in front of you until they point right up in the air, then open them out at the sides to shoulder height Remember to breathewhile you do it! Are any of these movements difficult, physically or emotionally?
 As the armouring of our chest and shoulders starts to dissolve, we come into our power. Wesense ourselves as strong, real and formidable, without being aggressive or having anything toprove: a
soft
power, which asserts our need for contact yet is able to deal with hostility orcoldness.Crying is done with the chest as well as with the eyes and mouth. Sometimes people think they are crying when a few tears leak out, but without any deep sobbing that moves the heartand the whole being. The pain here may be much more profound and shaking, and along withthis comes a much deeper release, a sense of inner cleansing and lightness on a different levelfrom the effect of simple weeping.The heart segment is the seat of much of our passion, our intensity and vibrancy. Only whenwe are willing and able to let our chest and shoulders move -
be
moved - with our breath, can
we deeply and seriously engage with reality. We say 'seriously', but this doesn't implyanything solemn: among the emotions of the heart segment is robust, hearty laughter, oftenheld back in 'ticklish' irritable muscles in the sides and under the arms. Tickling can be aremarkably effective bodywork technique; it helps to 'unstick' the ribs from each other,opening up the independent movement of the intercostal muscles.Armouring in this segment has a negative effect on the functioning of the heart and lungs,predisposing these organs to disease. In particular we see a relationship between suppressedanger and bronchitis and chronic coughs; between deep fear and asthma; and betweenphysical heart failure and 'heartbreak'.
Waist segment ('diaphragmatic')
 As the illustration shows, the diaphragm is a big, dome-shaped muscle that runs right throughthe body at waist level, separating our upper and lower halves(with holes for the oesophagus,veins and arteries, etc.). Above it are the heart and lungs; below, the stomach, intestines, liver,pancreas, kidneys, and so on
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:25:38 am
It is primarily with the diaphragm that we breathe - or that at least is how our body isdesigned! If our diaphragm is mobile, then each in-breath starts with its contraction, so thatthe upward, domelike bulge flattens out. This increases the space in the chest cavity, and thelungs automatically expand into the semi-vacuum, sucking in air. As the diaphragm relaxes, itbells out upward again, firmly pushing the air out of our lungs. Muscles in the ribcage,shoulders, etc., can
stop
us breathing by being too tight, but their role in
causing
us to breatheis secondary to that of this great, powerful sheet of muscle. Really, our chest muscles justhave to get out of the way.

It is the diaphragm, therefore, which first tightens and freezes in unhappy babies, interruptingthe spontaneous natural flow of breath. Thus this segment stores the intolerable primal terrorwhich first made us cut off from our own energy; the sensation which, in a much diluted form,is familiar to most of us as 'butterflies in the tummy'.A more intense version is often referred to as a 'sinking' feeling, a 'lurch' around the stomach,as if 'the bottom is dropping out'. This is a very accurate description of sudden movement inthis boundary between our upper and lower internal world. The sinking feeling corresponds toa sense of failing
down into ourselves
- into the realm of 'gut feelings', emotions andsensations which are far less easily translatable into rational language than are those of ourhead and upper body.The more frozen the diaphragm, the more of an absolute division there will be between headand belly, between reason and instinct, between conscious and unconscious, 'heaven' and'hell'. The diaphragm is turned into a 'floor'; and if the floor starts giving way as bodywork enables the diaphragm to move again, the experience can be deeply disturbing. People withtight diaphragms very often breathe with
either
chest
or
belly, or if both move, they can bequite unsynchronised, so that the belly may even be sinking as the chest rises and vice versa(though this is nothing to do with the yoga technique of 'paradoxical breathing').
 Exercise 9
 To get a sense of what is happening in your diaphragm, you can try rapidly panting from thisarea of your body. You need to breathe firmly in and equally firmly out again, rather than putting the emphasis on either one. Be aware that your sides and back around waist levelshould expand and contract as well - imagine a wide sash around your waist, stretching allround as you breathe in. Make the breathing continuous, breathing in again as soon as the

outbreath is complete, and vice versa. You may find that a very few such breaths make you feel distinctly strange, with your head becoming dizzy and highly-charged, and perhaps aslight nausea. This will pass off as soon as you stop - which you should obviously do when you start getting uncomfortable. This is a very early stage of panic, as you not only pass morebreath-energy through your body, but also start to join up areas that you may habitually keep firmly separate.
 The diaphragm often holds murderous rage as well as fear: a blind, total anger against theearly repression that makes our breathing armour up. This anger can often be located in thesides and back of the waist segment, where the diaphragm anchors itself to bone - WilliamWest calls the side muscles here the 'spite muscles'. Lower back tension, that classic twentiethcentury problem, can often be related to a frozen diaphragm, and to conflicts between 'higher'and 'lower' needs and feelings - especially those involving the pelvis.Thus a fundamental issue with the diaphragm is one of control. Problems in this area usuallyarise out of a struggle to 'control oneself' - that central, impossible instruction which ourculture gives its children. Our nature as an organism demands spontaneity: only death ispredictable, and predictability is death. The attempt to 'get a grip on ourselves' very muchinvolves the diaphragm, one of the body's great core muscles, and seat of theinvoluntary/voluntary crossover at the centre of the breathing process. Only a few people cancontrol their heartbeat, but all of us can control our breathing. In doing so habitually, we doourselves great damage, yet the ability to be
aware
of our breath, to gently 'ride' its waves, is adeeply healing one. When the diaphragm is free and mobile, we are open to spontaneouslyarising material from 'the depths' - open to our bellythink.There is a powerful reflex relationship between diaphragm and throat, such that armouring inone will be reflected in the other, and melting in one will likewise encourage melting in theother. If you listen to a 'catch' in a person's breath, you may be able to hear how it happens inboth these places. Gagging and retching can be initiated in either the throat or the diaphragm,but they involve both. This is only one example of the elaborate system of reflex mirrorings inour body.Tension in the waist will lay us open to
all
the stress-related ailments, since it disturbs ourentire breathing pattern, with destructive effects on our metabolic processes. Morespecifically, it will tend to influence ailments like chronic nausea, ulcers (held-back frustration and rage), gall and kidney stones and, as we have mentioned, lower back pain.
Belly segment ('abdominal')
 The belly is a storehouse of unexpressed, unacknowledged feelings, images, ideas, desires andintentions - in effect a bodymind unconscious. The very word 'belly' is unspeakable to somepeople! Here are the 'gut feelings', the instinctive self, and the more we are armoured higherup the body, the more these feelings are repressed. New material is being added all the time aswe swallow down what we cannot say or do or feel.The gurgling, bubbling belly is a place of water - the waters of life. Water needs to flow, or itbecomes sour and stagnant and then this great subterranean sea turns into nothing but a hugeseptic tank. There is often much bitterness and stagnation down here in the body'sunderworld, expressed in toxicity, 'acid stomach', colitis and constipation - all of which reflectan inability to let go of waste and poison

Our belly is vulnerable: the 'soft underbelly' of our stance towards the world, insofar as we areinsecure in the world, we tend to tense up our belly muscles, creating the macho, 'go on, hitme as hard as you like', image: or the flat, sucked-in little-girl tummy which women areencouraged to strive for. This impossibly flat, anorexic tummy is quite a recent invention.Renaissance and mediaeval paintings show a much more realistic womanly mound. Similarlyin the East a relaxed rounded belly is (or was) highly valued as a sign of spiritual achievementthe ability to operate in a grounded and centred way. Many people, both men and women, findit very hard to deliberately relax their bellies.
 Exercise 10
 Take a deep in-breath, letting it fill your tummy area, so that it visibly and tangibly expandswith the breath (you may need to do a few pants with the diaphragm to loosen up first). Thenbreathe out, without pulling in your tummy. Try a few breaths like this, and see what sensations and feelings emerge. Focus on relaxing as many muscles in your lower torso as you can - including the sides and back.
You will probably discover from this how closely your belly links with the diaphragm aboveand the pelvis below: muscles will stretch, and hopefully release, in both these areas as yourbelly expands. You can expect a few gurgles as well! Particularly important are the abdominirecti, two long muscles that run down the belly from ribs to pelvis on either side of your navel- these seem to be linked by reflex with the sternocleidomastoids in the neck
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:26:46 am
Belly segment: showing the rectus abdomini muscle (left) and internal oblique muscle (right).There are several more muscle layers running at different angles.
 Gently massaging the belly area while breathing freely and easily can bring up all sorts of pains and emotions. Often there are specific sore spots carrying particular ideas andmemories. The overall tone of the belly armour is frequently
tiredness
: old, tired grief; oldtired anger; old tired fear. The emotions may have been curdling away down there for a verylong time indeed.But the belly, when it is alive and functioning, is an agent of release and elimination - it helpssort out the nourishing from the threatening, and channel each appropriately. As the belly'wakes up' in bodywork, we hear all sorts of gurglings and rumblings - usually a sign of healthy activity as it resumes its functions of absorption and discharge. Gerda Boyesen hasworked for many years with the belly's wisdom; she has found - and we can confirm - thatwhenever the belly emits a particularly energetic gurgle, it signals some important thought,feeling or memory which may be below the threshold of awareness unless we take up thebelly's cue and look within.One particular set of feeling-memories in this segment is going to be about the cutting of theumbilical cord; there are usually very tender spots all around the navel which can restimulatethis experience. It is also very closely linked with the waist segment - the shock of cutting thecord makes the diaphragm contract with a great gasp which is the first breath, so differentfrom what that breath would have been had it been allowed to come naturally in its own time,with the umbilicus left to stop pulsing before it was severed.For many people - perhaps more obviously for women in our culture - there is a particularissue around the relationship between mouth and belly. Appetite in one does not necessarilyreflect hunger in the other: and often there is a good deal of confusion here, as we eat tosatisfy all sorts of needs apart from bodily nourishmentAmong these needs can be the need to push feelings down out of awareness. Familymealtimes can be excruciating, and can set up a permanent association between eating,suppression and pain. A lot of us are so busy nibbling all day for the comfort of our mouthsthat we wouldn't recognise belly hunger if we encountered it The poor, unloved, devaluedbelly has to bear the brunt of everything we shove down it. It needs restoring to its rightfuland central role in the bodymind.Pelvic segmentAnd so we arrive at the final section of the body armour - and an exceedingly important one.From the pelvis comes a whole other fundamental mode of relating to the world: oursexual@, which expresses itself in ways that cannot be readily turned into words. As Reichsays, it is not really possible to attach a rational label to the expressive movements of thepelvis. Sexuality expresses itself rather than anything else, and its involuntary, mysteriousquality is very frightening to the 'spastic I'.Before the pelvis can surrender to spontaneous sexual movement its armouring needs to besoftened; this will release feelings which, although they often colour our lovemaking, are notessentially sexual in nature. Our pelvis often holds a good deal of fear and rage. this meansthat in lovemaking the easy soft swing takes on a frantic tone - either shoving and grinding, ormoving very gingerly, like a person getting into a cold bath

In Chapter 6 we shall be looking in more detail at this pelvic fear and rage, and consideringhow and why such emotions develop. For now, let's just notice that pelvic armouring has adeep effect on how we stand and walk, the legs and feet are so closely linked with the pelvisthat we can treat them as part of the same segment If the pelvis is too stiff to sway freely aswe move, there will be a corresponding stiffness and a brittle or numb feeling lower down. AsAlexander Lowen says, sexual feeling to a great extent comes out of the ground, and our feetand legs need to be soft enough to let it rise.Exercise 1To help you understand what this means, stand with feet firmly planted and knees slightlybent and breathe down into the pit of your belly for a minute until everything has loosened upa little. Now explore the contact between the soles of your feet and the ground (this exercise isbest done barefoot): shift you weight gently around your feel so the ground is massaging yoursoles. Now let your weight press down on the ball of one foot, as if taking a step forward - butdon't take the step. What will happen is that your knee will start to straighten - but don'tdeliberately straighten the knee. Now your pelvis vvill want to rock forward and up: theimpetus is transmitted from your energy exchange with the ground. Play with this movementfor a while, and notice how important it is in graceful, dancing - and how sexual dancing canbe.If our legs, feet and pelvis are relaxed, then there is a constant sense of exchange betweenourselves and the ground: Mother Earth is really there under us, supporting and conversingwith our bodymind. But not many of us feel this conversation much of the time. The processof learning to stand and walk, coinciding as it does with intense emotional events, has led usto cut off some sensation, from our lower limbs - tensing knees, ankles, and hips in particular,and often twisting our legs out of alignment. We've learnt to 'stand up for ourselves', 'on ourown two feet' - but at what price in missing flexibility and sensitivity.Many of us have great unconscious terror of the ground, developed as we learnt to stand. Thiscan show up in all the many phobias of snakes, mice, spiders, and so on - all fast-movingticklish, unstoppable creatures which we fear will run up our @ and into our bodies - like theearth energy itself and the uncontrollable feelings associated with it Other associated fantasiesare those of the ground giving way, of quicksand, water and so on. There is often a fear of falling involved too - the ground seems a very long way down when we first pull ourselveserectIn particular, our 'groundedness' or lack of it is connected with eye armouring. We mayunconsciously try to hold on to the world with our eyes, rather than resting securely on ourfeet.Exercise 12Try closing your eyes, and really 'letting yourself down' into your feet: the sensation can berather like entering water. Your knees will need to be loose and bent. Take a few steps, veryslowly, with eyes still closed, and explore the sensation. Perhaps you feel as though you aregoing to fall over, or be hit What do your arms want to do?We have so far only looked at the front of the pelvis, the energy in and around our genitalarea. Also very important is the energy at the back, in our buttocks and anus, which may beextremely tight and tense. As we said in Chapter 2, children are very often pressured to

control their bowels before they are naturally ready, before they are physically capable of closing the sphincters. So they learn to tense up the whole pelvic floor and buttocks in adesperate attempt to 'hold themselves in', 'pull themselves together'.Such holding frequently becomes chronic and unconscious, leading to 'tight-arsed' attitudes inlife, as we shall see in Chapter 6. A great deal of resentful hate is held here, which can takevery brutal forms - both sadistic and masochistic - and involve a lot of stubbornness. This is aform of armouring which slows down our life energy and binds it in, and this sort of holdingvery much affects the energy in the back of our whole body.The back of the body is our reservoir of strength: it's where we push from, where we hold on,support and endure. We can only be soft and open in the front if we feel, strong and secure inthe back. But this all depends on being able to 'dig our heels in' and transmit this solidstrength through and up. A tight bum generally means that this flow gets stuck, and the backsof the legs will usually be tight too.Exercise 13Stand with feet forwards, a shoulderwidth apart, and with your knees slightly bent Rigidlystraight knees are a basic way of blocking off from the ground. Join your hands looselybehind your back in an 'at ease' posture; now bend from the hips - not from the waist - and letgravity carry you as far forward as possible. Breathe easily, and let the out-breaths help yourelax and lean further forward. The idea is that head, neck and back stay in the same straightline as when you were upright,- you simply fold at the hinge of your hips.You will no doubt immediately feel a stretch on the backs of your legs, which can be quitepainful. Don't strain yourself, just bend as far as you comfortably can, and if necessary holdthe position for just a few seconds. It's important to breathe down into your belly as far aspossible. With luck, if you maintain this position, your legs will start to tremble. This issplendid, it means that your muscle tension is letting go and your legs are lengthening,becoming literally more 'vibrant'. When you straighten up, still breathing into your belly andwith knees loose, you may well feel a much deeper contact with the ground - almost as if yourfeet are sinking into the floor.An important muscle in joining up the whole pelvis, front and back, is the psoas, which runson either side from the lower spine, right through the pelvis, and into the thighbone. This isthe muscle which lets our pelvis rock back and forth in the orgasm reflex we described in thelast chapter; often it is extremely tense and tight.As we suggested, there is a strong relationship between looseness or tightness in the pelvisand in the jaw: this is one of the body's strongest reflexes, and an armoured jaw will stop thepelvis being free. It can be a bit of a bootstrap situation. Any release at either end creates afeedback of release at the other, and so on. We can even imagine a head superimposed on thepelvis, facing forwards but upside down: so that the chin coincides with the pelvic bone.Many other interesting relationships emerge - for instance, between nose and anus, soimportant for our learnt sense of disgust - often encouraging a tense pull-back of the face,away from 'down there'.Exercise 14The simplest possible exercise for checking out your pelvic segment is to stand with yourknees loose, and rotate your hips as widely as you can - as if you were doing a hula dance.
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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.
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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.
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
need
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
involuntary
reaction to deep panic. The panic is completelyrational in origin: dangerous and scary things
did
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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
bodily
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
surrender
 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:44:40 am
Perhaps the most important thing about this open state is that it
can't
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.
7 MORE ON CHARACTER
 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.
 Nietzsche
 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.
Stuck
: fragility - invasion - unreality
Creative
: Perceptive - inspired - psychic
Keywords
: Distant ... Blank ... Deep ... Vulnerable ... Foggy ... In pieces ... Cold ... Crazy ...Scary ... Weird ... Bizarre ... Paranoid ... Keep off!.
63
ORAL POSITION
 (feeding, weaning, siblings)Jaw block. Theme of need: the right to be fed and supported.
Stuck
: Unfair world - misunderstood -.hungry - empty
Creative
: Appetite for life - nurturing - eloquent
Keywords
: Needy ... Exhausting Draining ... Love-starved ... Manipulative ... Persuasive ...Biting ... Sharp-tongued ... Greedy ... Ungrounded ... Sulky ... Arrogant ... Clever ... Tired ...Won't ... Black ...
CONTROL POSITION
 (independent play, beginnings of autonomy)Heart block. Theme of validation: the right to have my experience acknowledged.
Stuck
: No one else is real - need to dominate, to get my way, or else to hide
Creative
: Big hearted - leadership - looking after
Keywords
: 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 ...
HOLDING POSITION
 (toilet training, force feeding, timetabling)Anal block, buttocks, thighs, shoulders. Theme of control: the right to value myself, to takemy time.
Stuck
: Self-disgust - repression - suffering
Creative
: Grounded - patient - determined - compassionate
Keywords
: Long-suffering ... Painful ... Tortured ... Enduring ... Held-in ... Stuck ... Bursting... Sturdy ... Guilty ... Full of **** ... Arselicking ... Greasy ... Oily ... Sticky ... Repulsive ...Bully, petty tyrant ... Obsessive ... Repetitive ... Maddening ...
THRUSTING POSITION
 ('wilfulness', clash with authority)Pelvic block against softness. Theme of assertion: the right to take up space, be noticed.
Stuck
: Competition - revenge - mustn't collapseCreative: Initiative - courage - physicality
Keywords
: Pushy ... Proud ... Competitive ... Abrasive ... Macho ... Rigid ... Effective ...Overpowering ... Athletic ... Upright ... Golden girl/boy ... Egotistical ... Keeping their acttogether ... Driving ... Driven ... Exhibitionist ...
CRISIS POSITION
 (confrontation with gender roles and sexuality)Pelvic block against surrender. Theme of contact: the right to choose, right to play.
Stuck
: Sexual panic - yes/no - confusion - melodrama
Creative
: Playful - graceful - complex - excitingKeywords: Jumpy ... Over-the-top ... Dramatic ... Exciting ... Sexual.. Flirty ... Stirring ...Attractive ... Frustrating ... Confusing ... Evasive/Elusive ... Frozen ... Scared ... Boundary(often first impression) ...
OPEN POSITION
 (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
several
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
 pushy
,
 proud
and
rigid
a new client is, then Iwill realise that they have a strong
thrusting
component in their makeup. If I find myself seeing them as
needy
,
negative
and
exhausting
, then I am tuning in to their
oral
material. Or if I experience them as
clever
,
 persuasive
and
arrogant
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
several
 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
other
segments
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
body
self-contained within the
head
. 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
: 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
rigid
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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
thrusting
 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
hollow
(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
 political
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
 panic
: 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
celebrate
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
extend
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
not
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.
8 THERAPY
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
: 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
this
person at
this
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
is
, 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.
Body
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.
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
in
more strongly and
out
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
without
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
stop
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
complete
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
energy
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.


Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois on April 15, 2015, 07:51:25 am
Emotion
 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
are
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
doesn't
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,
insist
on the'missing feeling' which those tears may be covering up. An apparently inappropriate edge of anger or confrontation within
herself
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
expecting
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.
Thought
 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
assumptions
: '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
memory
. 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
think
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
emotional
charge, which is always anchored in the structure of our
bodies
, in the ways that
energy
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
there
, 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
think
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
changed
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.
Energy
 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,
not
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
terrain
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
content
of the therapy - melting armour, releasing feelings, revisinglife scripts, channelling energy - to the
 form
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
transaction
 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
container
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
underlies
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
absence
. 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
contact
. 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
them
as responsible for
our
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.
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
they
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
honest
- 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
always
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
about
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
their
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.
Goals
 That last sentence may beg a few questions. What
are
the goals of therapy? Clients may cometo a therapist for all sorts of reasons, conscious and unconscious. What is therapy
 for
? 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
better
- 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
is
, 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
die
.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
richer
, it does notnecessarily make it
easier
. 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
directions
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
 possible
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
does
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
do
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.
Groups
 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
exchanging
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
empowering
, 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.
9 POWER
 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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
believing
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,
without
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
 power
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
consent
: 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
armouring
, 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,
only
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
other
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
motives
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
enjoy
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
bodily
experience. As we have already hinted,many forms of 'symptom' or 'illness' can be understood as a
rebellion
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
appear
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
being
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
dissatisfaction
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'.


10 PRIMAL PATTERNS
... 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
same
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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
birth
.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
had
. We think more in terms of what we call a 'birth-shapedexperience'; and it really
is
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
 push
, 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
everything
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
resource
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
spontaneously
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
life
. 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
connected
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
bodies
. 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
against
 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
healing
. 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
and
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
sequence
- 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
whole
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
these
issues, withthe unnatural demands which society imposes on our 'original nature', that sets the seal on ourapproach to creativity, contact, openness, surrender.

11 COSMIC STREAMING
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
natural
, a part of our birthright walled off from us bythe barrier of our armouring, sealed away in the distant, magical world of rememberedchildhood.
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
through
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
moves
- 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
expected
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
not
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
does
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
ordinary
, 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
reality
,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
isolation
- being cut off from our mother - andwith
invasion
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
Title: Re: Reichian Growth Work by Nick Totton
Post by: truthaboutpois 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
same
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
 felt
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
over
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
contact
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
the
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
not
 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
segments
parallels the yogic system of
chakras


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
difference
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
incarnation
: 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.



.
12 CONNECTIONS AND DIRECTIONS
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
healing
, 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
relationship
. 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
own
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
this
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
incarnation
. But incarnation, of course, means 'coming to be in the flesh', andit is through
bodywork
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
should
be: to avoid offering a model, either implicit or explicit- of how a person
ought
to breathe,
ought
to stand,
ought
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
remedial
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
inner
sense of 'not being right' in our bodies. We sense a
need
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
masking
, a suppression of symptomsrather than working with the problem which those symptoms
express
. 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
can
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
 pretending
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
space
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
ideas
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
erased,
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
result
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
any
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
our
answers.



.FURTHER READING
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:
 Bioenergetics
, Alexander Lowen (Penguin)


.111
 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)
 Bodymind
, 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.
Shambhala
, 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
Winnicott
, 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.


..