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It may seem impossible for any real use to be made of this great mass of material - as soon asit stops being simplistic, it becomes unmanageable! In practice, though, we get immense helpfrom the system of character analysis; not so much on the level of intellectual understandingas through a developing capacity to recognise character attitudes on a gut level. Much of whatwe are saying about character is embedded in the folk wisdom of our language itself, with allits body-imagery: 'stiff-necked', 'gut feeling', 'arselicker', 'pushy', 'cold-hearted'. All theseterms are direct pointers to the essence of someone's character structure.Now we turn towards what we can call the 'bridge' character positions which seem to turn upso frequently. These manifest when a person seems to exist mainly between two adjacentcharacter positions: between holding and crisis, for example, or between boundary and oral;either oscillating between the two according to circumstances, or else firmly straddling thedivide and combining elements of each into a personal synthesis.
Boundary/Oral Bridge
 This is the common intellectual character position: trying to make words and ideas into a self-sufficient reality; using them as nourishment as protection, as contact as erotic play, as asubstitute for the life of the
self-contained within the
. There is often an importantseat of tension at the physical junction between the two segments, the soft palate and theinternal cavity of the head; there can be a sense of a 'watcher' inside the head, unable to let gointo the sensuous life of the body through fear of being overwhelmed. Conversely, a valuablequality of this intellectual position is its resistance to being overwhelmed by feeling, and bypressure of other people.
Oral/Control Bridge
 Someone in this position is going to find it impossible to express any needs they may have.They may end up indirectly acting out their needs by taking care of other people - treatingthem as small and weak, whether they are or not, because that is how they feel themselvesinside. But there will be a bossy, 'for-your-own-good' quality to the supposed caring whichwill generally alienate its recipients. Some social workers, politicians and therapists are actingfrom this part of themselves.
Control/Holding Bridge
 Here the jammed-up, stuck, inflated side of each of these positions is emphasised, and theindividual may have a very off-putting 'constipated' quality to them. Rather than controllingthemselves in the holding style, they may try to control
other people
, expressing punitive,moralistic and repressive attitudes. Here we find the classic bureaucrat who secretly lovessitting on everyone else's freedom and initiative. But also, instead of letting go themselves,they may try to force other people to let go, in a style of repressive liberalism or radicalism.'PC' behaviour can be used as a channel for this sort of attitude.In the background of the control/holding bridge there is always a little girl or boy tryingdesperately, but hopelessly, to be
: good enough to be acceptable. In their drive forgoodness they may lay waste to whole families or communities.
Holding/Thrusting Bridge
 This produces the ultimate
character, binding all their energy into tense musculature andfixed attitudes: a combination of the holder's terror of opening up, and the thruster's terror of collapse. People in this position often have very strict moral codes and strong consciences,blaming themselves heavily for any slight lapse from grace. There is often an underlying
Perhaps the most important thing about this open state is that it
be pinned down; itsessence is to be mobile, responsive to a moving reality. Thus an 'open character' is notpermanently without blocks: armouring appears in reaction to events and disappears again asthe individual breathes, lets go, cries or laughs or yells or yawns, struggles or accepts - andmoves on.While we are in the open position - and all of us experience it from time to time - we haveaccess to the full range of powers and capacities appropriate to each character positiondescribed above. We manifest these qualities creatively; we can see, think, feed, enjoy, relate,hold on, take our time, assert, reach out and open up, because we are secure in our right toexist to be received, to be validated, to value ourselves, thrust ourselves forward, and choosethe contact we have with others. We have the right to be fully human.There is a special relationship, as we have said, between the open character position and theheart. It is the heart which must be open, and which fills with the sweet richness of love. Theopen heart represents that wholeness and unity of the bodymind to which we have referred;which is one way of saying what so many mystical and initiating traditions have alwaystaught - that the heart is the key to liberation.
 Perhaps all the dragons of our life are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautifuland brave.
 Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
 He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself.
 You may have found the last chapter both too complicated and too simplistic, and it issimplified in the sense that 'nobody is really like that' - it's not possible to reduce a real personto the cardboard categories of the character positions. We can recognise strong elements of anindividual's nature, but there is always a 'yes, but', some other strand or tendency whichmakes the picture richer and more complex.In this chapter we want to show how we can flesh out the bones, and use the concepts of character to generate something more like real human beings. Looked at another way, itmeans that we can use these concepts to understand real human beings. First, though, to helpwith the complex" of the material and the ramification of confusing detail, here is a summaryof the character positions described so far, together with a selection of keywords for eachposition.
A Summary of the Character PositionsBOUNDARY POSITION
 (womb, birth and first weeks)Eye segment block. Theme of existence: the right to be.
: fragility - invasion - unreality
: Perceptive - inspired - psychic
: Distant ... Blank ... Deep ... Vulnerable ... Foggy ... In pieces ... Cold ... Crazy ...Scary ... Weird ... Bizarre ... Paranoid ... Keep off!.
 (feeding, weaning, siblings)Jaw block. Theme of need: the right to be fed and supported.
: Unfair world - misunderstood -.hungry - empty
: Appetite for life - nurturing - eloquent
: Needy ... Exhausting Draining ... Love-starved ... Manipulative ... Persuasive ...Biting ... Sharp-tongued ... Greedy ... Ungrounded ... Sulky ... Arrogant ... Clever ... Tired ...Won't ... Black ...
 (independent play, beginnings of autonomy)Heart block. Theme of validation: the right to have my experience acknowledged.
: No one else is real - need to dominate, to get my way, or else to hide
: Big hearted - leadership - looking after
: Dominant ... Overwhelming ... Seductive ... Bossy ... Charismatic ... Top Dog ...How To Win Friends and Influence People ... Puffed-up ... Insincere ... Impressive ... HardSell ... Cut-off ... Politico ... Hail-Fellow-Well-Met ... Unreal ...
 (toilet training, force feeding, timetabling)Anal block, buttocks, thighs, shoulders. Theme of control: the right to value myself, to takemy time.
: Self-disgust - repression - suffering
: Grounded - patient - determined - compassionate
: Long-suffering ... Painful ... Tortured ... Enduring ... Held-in ... Stuck ... Bursting... Sturdy ... Guilty ... Full of **** ... Arselicking ... Greasy ... Oily ... Sticky ... Repulsive ...Bully, petty tyrant ... Obsessive ... Repetitive ... Maddening ...
 ('wilfulness', clash with authority)Pelvic block against softness. Theme of assertion: the right to take up space, be noticed.
: Competition - revenge - mustn't collapseCreative: Initiative - courage - physicality
: Pushy ... Proud ... Competitive ... Abrasive ... Macho ... Rigid ... Effective ...Overpowering ... Athletic ... Upright ... Golden girl/boy ... Egotistical ... Keeping their acttogether ... Driving ... Driven ... Exhibitionist ...
 (confrontation with gender roles and sexuality)Pelvic block against surrender. Theme of contact: the right to choose, right to play.
: Sexual panic - yes/no - confusion - melodrama
: Playful - graceful - complex - excitingKeywords: Jumpy ... Over-the-top ... Dramatic ... Exciting ... Sexual.. Flirty ... Stirring ...Attractive ... Frustrating ... Confusing ... Evasive/Elusive ... Frozen ... Scared ... Boundary(often first impression) ...
 (resolving of anxiety around surrender)No permanent blocks: armouring forms and melts according to circumstances. Theme of
64surrender: the right to pleasure and creativity.Reality - spontaneity - naturalness - acceptance of what isOur idea in using these keywords is not that each one applies to every person manifesting thatcharacter position. We are aiming more at a 'splatter effect', since we find in practice that if we want to use
terms from one section about a given individual (or other equivalentwords), then that person will be strongly involved with the corresponding character position.So, for example, if I find myself thinking how
a new client is, then Iwill realise that they have a strong
component in their makeup. If I find myself seeing them as
, then I am tuning in to their
material. Or if I experience them as
I am meeting a different sort of oralcharacter; and so on.Clearly, some of the keywords in each section point in very different directions, or evencontradict each other. A given character position can express itself in very different ways: forexample, as either a 'yearning' or a 'denying' attitude. Similarly, one keyword on its ownmight fit with several different character positions; for example, above we have used 'proud'for a thrusting character and 'arrogant' for an oral character. It is the appropriateness of
 keywords from one section that gives us useful information.You will perhaps have noticed that many, though not all, of the keywords have negativeconnotations. As we will explain at more length in Chapter 8, it is often through our negativereactions to clients that we can learn most about their character. But it is important to stressthat no judgement is intended. These are the emotional reactions that the unhealthy aspects of character structure tend to bring up, particularly in the intense atmosphere of the therapysession but also in everyday interactions. They are not, however, assessments of a person'sworth.As well as being differentiated through the yearning or denying attitude involved, eachcharacter position is very much affected by what is going on in the rest of the person besidesthe segment directly concerned. In this context a human being is rather like a hologram, whereeach part both reflects the whole and is reflected in the whole.Let's take as an example the holding character position. As we have seen, this position derivesfrom blocking in the pelvis, especially the anus, buttocks and thighs; this blocking becomes ageneral attitude of holding on, influencing the overall shape of the body (wide and heavy),and creating a tendency to some specific physical traits like heavy shoulders, short neck,sunken eyes and so on. Together with this goes the overall issue of self-disgust and self-control, letting go and holding on.This overall holding position may be combined with blocking in any of the other segments,both those at 'top and tail' - which we have seen as defining the character positions - and in theother 'central' segments - neck, heart, waist and belly. So the basic themes and attitudes willtake on different forms and express themselves through different issues, like a beam of lightshone through different coloured filters.A helpful way of looking at this with the holding position is that in each segment there will beeither an attempt to
hold on
(denying version) or an attempt to
let go
(yearning version),manifested through the physical and emotional repertoire
of that segment
65Thus a holding character with an eye block will either be trying to let go through the eyes andmind, or trying to hold on through the eyes and mind. The issue of boundaries, fragmentationand containment will be there, but as a way of approaching these issues of holding on andletting go. Holding on with the eye segment, then, might result in the development of complexintellectual systems, even obsessions; elaborate, essentially pointless thought processes whichare really a sort of 'mental constipation', never reaching the point. A yearning version,concerned with letting go, might either be mentally 'messy' and chaotic, or else applying thesame sort of systematic order to meditation techniques.A holding character with an oral block tends to show the anal material through the mouth,either as a denying style of tight lips, pinched nostrils and general disgust, as if other peopleleave a bad taste or smell, or as a yearning version which uses the mouth to spread shitaround, a sticky, greasy, oily, 'arselicking' character disguising an underlying spiteful malice.The same principle applies to any combination of blocks with any basic character. A thrustingcharacter with a neck block will be 'stiff-necked', rigid, refusing to bow down to anyone - andas a result refusing any softness and givingness, 'holier-than-thou'. An oral character with aneye block will have issues about being 'fed' through their eyes, and will display either a 'Teachme O Master' passivity (yearning version) or a stubborn refusal to be shown, taught or met(denying version).Thus we can build up the uniqueness of an individual character structure through thecombination of different blocks in the bodymind, and read the 'story' which that combinationtells. It would be pointless, and endless, to try to list every possible combination - likeillustrating every possible fingerprint - but the table summarises the meetings of pairs of different character positions, each of which will in practice be influenced by various degreesand kinds of blocking in all the
veterans, someone constantly in the crisis position learns to live with terror. It is likely thatalmost everyone who works in a directly life-threatening occupation is either a thruster,testing and proving themselves, or a crisis character fuelled by their own panic.It is when we are occupying the crisis position that we tend to create
expressions of ourconflicts: the well-known 'hysterical symptoms' which mimic physical illness to act out anemotional state. Yet is there a real distinction? More and more we see all physical illnesses asthe expression of a conflict, a life crisis which is potentially healing. Perhaps crisis characters,with their penchant for melodrama and stageyness, are simply the ones who get caught at it -accidentally-on-purpose!There are many attractive and creative features in the crisis character. Perhaps the mostobvious is their sexiness, but more generally there is their fun and excitement, the livelyenergy and 'game-for-anything' attitude, together with the subtle and perceptive understandingof roles and rules (the better to break them). These qualities contribute a great deal of spice tolife.Perhaps the greatest contribution of the crisis attitude in us all is its
refusal of patriarchy
, andof the gender roles forced on us. Crisis characters may find some weird and exotic modes of rebellion, but rebel they do! At root, what they are demanding is very simple: the right tochoose. To choose what sort of sexual contact they have; to choose to be playful andchildlike, not always urgent and direct; above all, to choose not to be abused.
 Exercise 20
 This is the hardest position to act out, but try the following: A stands still, breathing into their  pelvis with the emphasis on breathing out, while B alternates between trying to attract them -'Come here', 'I want you', 'Aren't you sweet' etc. - and rejecting them once they respond: 'No,no', 'Not like that', 'Come on, that's enough'. A, try to let your whole body really respond toeach message; B, let yourself be fully seductive, and then switch into complete coldness. After a while, make contact with each other before you switch roles.
Open PositionNo permanent blocks: issue of
 If, as a child or as an adult, a person can work through their panic about opening up to contactas well as all the other issues of growing up that we have described, then they may be able toexperience semi-permanently what most of us only touch at our best moments: a trueacceptance of reality and pleasure, a surrender to their own nature and to that larger Nature of which we are part.This is what Reich described as 'genitality' or 'orgastic potency', and it is hard to separate fromthe capacity for surrender to full orgasm, which in turn enables us to let go of the frustrationsand pains of daily existence and refresh ourselves in the sea of infinite joy.'Genitality', though, involves a lot more than lovemaking. It is one of many names that peoplehave given to a human condition which is, so far, quite rare: a sober, easy, relaxed andflexible attitude to life, an approach that doesn't struggle with impossibilities, but joyfullyaccepts the real state of affairs - including that person's own quirks and limitations! We call it'enlightenment', 'self-realisation', 'sainthood' - whatever we call it, it's remarkably hard to talk about, especially for people who experience it only occasionally
In adults, the crisis position tends to sexualise every issue because it is tied to a developmentphase which is itself sexual. The process is often unconscious, but it can be very obvious toother people as a sort of continual seductiveness in the person's behaviour and body language,or conversely as an 'uprightness', an extraordinary heightened sensitivity to sexualimplications which makes one scared of offending them with quite innocent remarks. Bothattitudes can even appear in the same person at the same time.It's clear that these are attitudes traditionally validated in women, either separately or incombination: the virgin and the vamp. They mask panic, and represent an inability tosurrender to deep sexual feelings for fear of being overwhelmed and losing control (whichmay literally have happened in childhood abuse). At the same time, there is a strong
forsexual contact, so there is often a teasing, flirting tone, not necessarily conscious - anexaggeration of healthy playfulness, 'sexiness', foreplay, dressing up, dancing. all sorts of creative and enjoyable behaviour which is 'sexy but not sex'. What's missing is relaxation andcommitment: the opening block sets up a constant yes/no/yes/no pattern, again traditionallyseen as 'feminine'.But men are as likely as women to occupy the crisis position - perhaps more often in apseudo-thrusting form. The yearning version will thus be an ersatz macho posturing. allleather and heavy metal, while the denying form might be hysterical puritanism. The onlysocially viable way for men to express the full crisis character is in the gay subculture.What makes the crisis position recognisable is its air of panic, of high charge. Everything islife or death. There is often either a theatrical exaggeration to the person's style, or a deathlystillness which is equally theatrical. The body type that develops with a strong crisis positionis less clearly defined than in some other cases, but in one way or another it tends to give astrongly sexual impression, which may be attractive or repulsive - or both - to other people.Crisis characters often stir people up, this being their unconscious intention as a way of sharing the panic around, camouflaging their own terror and excitement.We can think of the energy in a crisis character slopping around the body looking for someother lodging apart from the genitals; any other form of excitement is preferable, safer. So thecrisis character mimics all the other character positions - which can be very confusing fortherapists! In particular, someone deeply involved in the crisis position often comes over atfirst as a vulnerable 'schizy', boundary character. In fact crisis characters are quite tough,though they may not feel it There is a special relationship between these two extremes of thecharacter range, of head and tail, and energy can swing powerfully between them.The underlying strength and resilience often gives people the idea that a crisis character is'pretending', could 'pull themselves together if they just made an effort'. In a sense they arepretending, but the pretence is an
reaction to deep panic. The panic is completelyrational in origin: dangerous and scary things
happen. Freud worked with extreme crisischaracters who experienced 'hysterical paralysis' with no physical causation: a pretence in onesense, but outside any willed control or awareness. Often, though, the game-playing is bothconscious and unconscious: panic and anxiety fog the ability to look coolly at what one isreally doing. It can be amazing how a crisis character in a state of chaos can 'snap out of it'when asked.Yet crisis characters can play games for very high stakes. Living permanently on their nervesand by their wits, out on the edge, they develop a strange sort of coolness. Like combat
They do this at the same time as, and partly
, 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
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
-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
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
 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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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
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
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
which is enjoyable rather than compulsive, Energy can be held and used;there is a quality of determination, patience, taking your time, working
the materialworld rather than against it - a willingness to get your hands dirty.There is also genuine compassion and service, related to the
(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
.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
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
. (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
, 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
 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
 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
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
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
. 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
emanatingfrom the blocked rage, taking the form of letting people down in various ways, failing to meetcommitments
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
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
!'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
, 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
experiments with 'No', 'Not now', 'Leave me alone'. After a while stop, make contact, and reverse roles.
Control Position
 Heart segment block: issues of
 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
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
. 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
, 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
other people, by physical force or by force of will; or wecan seek to seduce and
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
, that they have feelings and needs, experience pain and pleasure. It is as if wehave been stranded on a planet of androids, and have to learn the codes by which they can becontrolled and made to serve us. This is the aspect of the control position which has led sometherapists to label it 'psychopathic': if other people are androids, we can feel free to cheatthem, hurt them, even kill them.
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