Language of the Body
Homayoun Shahri, Ph.D., M.A., LMFT
Wilhelm Reich, M.D.
● Student of Freud, and president of Vienna
● Recognized as the father of somatic psychology
“Only the liberation of the natural capacity
for love in human beings can master their
sadistic destructiveness.” Wilhelm Reich
The CHARACTER is the totality of the mechanical, automatic
and unconscious ways of reacting, by which the individual maintained
his or her psycho-physical balance; a balance that makes
sure that the feelings, emotions and bodily impulses which
for various reasons have been blocked, remain separated
from the consciousness of the individual. (Alexander Lowen)
Reich named this CHARACTER STRUCTURE -
the Character armor, because of its function as a defense.
This armor has a bodily side in the form of chronic
muscular tensions, where the repressed material is hidden.
Alexander Lowen, M.D.
● Student of Reich and founder of Bioenergetic
(My teacher, mentor, and therapist)
“For every person the basic reality of his being is
his body. It is through his body that he experiences
the world and by his body that he responds to it.
If a person is out of touch with his body, he is out
of touch with the reality of the world.” – From
Depression and the Body by Alexander Lowen, M.D.
A Body Model
“The Body is not an object,
it’s not even a concrete event,
it’s not even materialistic.
It’s a molecular process,
it’s a moving event.”,
Stanley Keleman, Emotional Anatomy
The Schizoid Character Structure
● Spastic muscles (and/or stringy muscles)
● Usually walks awkwardly
● Split in the body (top and bottom half, or twisted, or split around the center)
● Breathing is very shallow
● Feelings are repressed
● Eyes are dull that do not connect
● Tensions in the joints
● Tendency to live in the head and fantasy
● Has sex to feel alive
“Love is the absence of Anxiety.” ― Wilhelm Reich
The Oral Character Structure
● Elongated and narrow body
● Child-like face and body
● Dependent personality
● Knees are locked
● Not much body hair (child-like)
● Complains of lack of energy
● Breathing is not full
● Collapsed chest
● Has sex to seek contact
“Despair is the only cure for illusion”, Alexander Lowen
Narcissistic Character Structure
● Body is top heavy (energy in the upper half of the body)
● Tends to control using power or manipulation
● Tension in the neck (resulting in disconnecting from body)
● Tension in the waist separating two halves of body
● Tension in genital disconnecting it from feelings
● Inflated chest in Power Narcissist, and raised shoulders
or squared shoulders in manipulative type
● Grandiose image of himself
● Has sex to control and manipulate
“We live in a community of people not so that we can suppress and dominate each other or make each other miserable but
so that we can better and more reliably satisfy all life's healthy needs.” ― Wilhelm Reich
Masochistic Character Structure
● Body is muscular and big (may also be fat – stagnant energy)
● Tendency to complain
● Holds in feelings
● Thick/short neck
● Peripherals of the body are not charged
● Pelvis is tucked in, and back is collapsed
● Has a lot of energy but bound in his structure
● Does not enjoy sex!
“The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will not cease to ring as long as man feels himself captive.”, Wilhelm Reich
The Rigid Character Structure
● Body is well proportioned
● Very energetic and industrious (achiever)
● Heart and sexuality are not connected (diaphragmatic tension)
● Suffers from sexual anxiety
● Holds tension in long muscles of the back to “stand tall”
● He is free (in energetic sense), but cannot “let go”,
else he has to open his heart!
● Has sex to conquer
“Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom
more than party line or public opinion”, Wilhelm Reich
Guest House (Rumi)
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.