Wednesday, September 7, 2016
The connection between postures and paradigm
I am continually fascinated by how intricately the personality of the person is related to the function and appearance of her or his body. From lines and shapes of features on a face that indicate organ function, to the length and width of one's fingers indicating the body's dominant organs, there are many different signifiers that assist in diagnosis of what is going on inside, both emotionally as well as physically. Dr. John Pierrakos is credited with categorizing personality structures and posture and how they relate through a theory called Core Energetics. This brief overview of Core Energetics touches upon each character structure type, and briefly illuminates how simple habit changes such as posture adjustment can alter and heal personality tendencies in an integrated approach. It is important to note that these categories are not the same as commonly used psychiatric diagnoses by similar names.
Great resources for learning more about these structures is “Hands of Light,” by Barbara Brennan, which includes graphs (pp. 111-113) that summarize the Core Energetics categories, and “Characterological Transformation,” by Stephen M. Johnson, PhD.
"I see why I think so much. If I feel my body, all I feel is pain." (Characterological Transformation: The Hard Work Miracle, Stephen M. Johnson, p 108).
" I would rather not feel anything than feel this pain. I'd rather be special than feel good. I'd rather hurt me than hurt you" (Brennan, p109).
The greatest time of trauma for this character structure was at or prior to birth (such as trauma during pregnancy), and is often experienced as hostility or anger from a parent, or a traumatic or difficult birth. I have always thought of it simply as lack of attachment to the attachment figure (mother). This character lives in either a withdrawn, disconnected state of reality (“s/he is always in the clouds..."), or in a hyper intellectualized state measured by numbers or "facts." Questions about deserving to exist is at the core of the Schizoid thought paradigm. Barbara Brennan found that those with this character structure tend to present as thin (although they don't have to be), with imbalances in strength (one side of the body being stronger than the other). Pilates can help transform thinking patterns while working to balance the left and right sides. I have also found tailored grounding exercises, such as walking on grass barefoot, jumping rope, and running, helpful. Gently and consistently coming out of the head into the body, can help transform these dominant patterns.
Oral Character Structure:
"If I ask, it's not love; if I don't ask, I won't get it" (Brennan, p 116).
Characterized by a lack of attachment to the attachment figure (mother) in regard to feeding, the Oral personality’s greatest life lesson is around feelings of abandonment. This can happen through the child's mother being ill, dying, or otherwise withdrawing from her baby. Life revolves around need, and the ensuing emotional conflict/rage that need is associated with denial and emotional pain. The posture of someone with this character structure is an upper back that curves forward, stooped shoulders, a concave chest, and hips that roll forward to encourage a protruding abdomen. Stretching the back and chest muscles by lying face up across an exercise ball is a great way to re-learn how to stand up straight and can help reconfigure and release these mental and emotional struggles. Exercises to tighten the core muscles of the abdomen and low back rotate the pelvis into place, benefiting the second chakra. Different from the Schizoid type that uses sex to feel connected to life force, the Oral type experiences sex in order to feel closeness to another, and very often has a weak sex drive. There is an energetic, “no,” that can be felt from these individuals--it dominates that person’s energy field, thereby feeding the feeling of being victimized by the world. Posture adjustments can be a powerful tool to change these thought patterns.
“You should.. bend to my will”
This character structure type is indicative of an inappropriate sexual signal sent by the opposite sex parent in early childhood. This can include actual sexual contact or sexually provocative exchanges, where the child sexualizes very early in his or her development. The ensuing feeling is a deep sense of betrayal followed by a need to manipulate the provocative parent to get the child’s needs met. The child then begins the cycle of going through life trying to bend other people to his or her purposes. Sexuality becomes a tool for conquest. The body type of the person with this character structure is a full, inflated chest and legs that seem smaller and weaker. There is a lack of connection or energy flow between the top and the bottom halves of the body. The pelvis is tight, and there is a difficulty with grounding. As with the Schizoid type, tailored exercises to encourage grounding can be beneficial, as can work to open the pelvis, such as yoga and chiropractic work. This stimulates connection with sexuality in genuine way. Helpful flower essences are Easter Lily, Lady’s Slipper, Sticky Monkeyflower, and Yerba Santa. Strengthening of the legs, and opening and releasing the chest, complete the main approaches to the very individualized programs necessary for balancing this character structure.
The Masochistic Character Structure:
“I will hurt myself long before you get the chance to”
This structure occurs when a child tries to exercise will and is stealthily crushed by the more powerful will of an oppressive parent. What follows is deep resentment of the child for having to give in. Those with this character structure are unable to experience adult love. These individuals hold everything in, not only their anger, and may be frequently constipated. S/he appears submissive on the outside but will never allow himself to submit. Women can have difficulty with orgasm and feel that they are not clean, either in her body or in her femininity. (A great flower essence for this is Crab Apple, which will balance her feelings of disgust with her physical presentation). Men can have erectile dysfunctions, and a strong interest in pornography. They are involved in competition, but not love, with the object of affection. They remain uncommitted while demanding love and sexuality from others. These individuals unconsciously provoke circumstances where they can release their rage and feel “justified.” This physical presentation includes a soft layer of water over the musculature of the body, in part due to the back-up of the liver and kidneys from the emotional holdings. Because of this, internal work is beneficial to breaking Masochistic Character holdings. Kinesiology is my favorite tool for working with the Masochistic Character Structure’s belief patterns. Feeding the internal filter organs, mostly liver and kidneys, will help move bowels more efficiently and allow for the drainage of excess water, encouraging a new flexibility of emotions. Forward head carriage, or the propensity to stand with head jutting forward, can be alleviated with neck stretches that allow the head to come back slowly over the shoulders. When work has progressed and is moving along nicely, dance is a wonderful exercise in both posture and trust of her or his own body around others.
Rigid Character Structure:
“I am superior, and I know everything”
“I won’t surrender” (Brennan, p 123)
This character structure began around puberty with a wound of feeling betrayed and/or rejected by the opposite sex parent. The wound manifests by splitting whom they love either platonically or romantically from whom they love sexually; in some ways, this structure resembles a Madonna/Prostitute Syndrome. It can be illustrated by a double-standard, societal belief that some men still carry, which has them encouraging sex early on in a dating situation and then deciding that the woman “gave it too soon”. The life lesson of these personality types, that are unable to be in both the heart and in the genitals at the same time, can manifest as erectile dysfunction when a man is with a woman that he thinks he could love. The physical manifest of this character structure is as it sounds, the body is incredibly tight and rigid in muscles and joints. Cognitive work to commit to a relationship entirely, including sexually, in conjunction with yoga and stretching, and a talented massage therapist specializing in rolfing is an excellent start. A good supplemental calcium, and a lot of water daily to hydrate the musculature and help release the locked down muscle fascia, is recommended. This structure can be a difficult one to work with, because these thought paradigms can be very subtly supported by societal viewpoints. Rigid structures have an overabundance of pride. This pride needs to be negotiated first to secure a connection between patient and practitioner to move forward successfully.
There is a tremendous amount more that can be written on each of these character structures. We are often conglomerates of these types, although one or often two of the structures will dominate in one person.
The types that dominate in your particular structure are the ones that, when addressed, will offer wonderful healing in the way you view the world and move through your personal relationships. Is it easy? No. But the best achievements in life often aren’t; this is very worth the effort.
Lots of love to you..