Bioenergetics: The Revolutionary Therapy that Uses the Language of the Body to Heal the Problems of the Mind, Alexander Lowen, MD. New York: Penguin Compass, 1975
Page 14: Reich believed that the repression of the original trauma was maintained by the suppression of sexual feeling…. For Reich the suppression of sexual feeling together with the characterological attitude that accompanied it constituted the true neurosis; the symptom itself was only its overt expression.
Page 15: One’s energy economy or sexual economy refers to the balance one maintains between energy charge and discharge or between sexual excitement and sexual release. Only when this economy or balance is upset does the hysterical conversion symptom develop. Muscular armoring or chronic muscular tensions serve to maintain this balanced economy by binding the energy that cannot be discharged.
Page 19 He noted the common tendency of patients to hold their breath and inhibit exhalation as a means of controlling their feelings. He concluded that holding the breath served to diminish the organism’s energy by reducing its metabolic activities, which in turn decreased the production of anxiety.
For Reich, then, the first step in the therapeutic procedure was to get the patient to breathe easily and deeply the second was to mobilize whatever emotional expression was most evident in the patient’s face or manner.
I would lie on the bed and breathe as freely as I could, trying to allow a deep exploration to occur. I was directed to give in to my body and not control any expression or impulse that emerged.
Page 29 Nevertheless, the orgasm reflex does have some positive effects on the personality. Even though it occurs in the supportive atmosphere of the therapeutic situation, it is experienced as exhilarating and liberating. The person senses what it feels like to be free of inhibitions. At the same time he feels connected and integrated – with his body and, through his body, with his environment. He has a sense of well-being and an inner peace. He gains the knowledge that the life of the body resides in its involuntary aspect.
It is easy to criticize Reich for his emphasis on the central importance of sexuality, but I would not do so. Sexuality was and is the key issue in all emotional problems.
Page 30 This implies a conflict between the individual and society which we know is true for our culture. Another conflict inherent in this antithesis is the one between this striving for power (an ego drive) and the striving for pleasure (the sexual drive). The overemphasis on power in our culture sets the ego against the body and its sexuality and creates and antagonism between drives which should ideally support and reinforce each other.
The therapeutic goal is to integrate the ego with the body and its striving for pleasure and sexual fulfillment.
Page 33 Happiness is the consciousness of growth…
…therapy can do this if it provides new experiences and helps remove or reduce the blocks and obstacles preventing the assimilation of experience.
Page 34 It is only by making the past become alive again for a person that true growth in the present is facilitated. If the past is cut off, the future does not exist.
Growth is a natural process; we can’t make it happen. Its law is common to all living things. A tree, for example, grows upward only has its roots go deeper into the earth. We learn by studying the past. So a person can grow only by strengthening his roots in his own past. And a person’s past is his body.
Page 38 …the individual who is sincerely committed to his own personal salvation? If by “salvation” one means freedom from the inhibitions and restraints imposed by one’s upbringing, I could not claim that I had achieved this state of grace.
I still had many chronic muscular tensions in my body that prevented me from experiencing the joyfulness I longed for. I could feel their restrictive influence on my personality. And I wanted a still richer and fuller sexual experience – an experience I knew was possible.
Page 39 This was mainly because I largely directed the body work, but also because it was focused more on the release of muscular tension and I’m giving in to sexual feelings. Trying and controlling are aspects of my neurotic character, and it was not easy for me to surrender.
Working on myself, I developed the basic positions and exercises which are now standard in bioenergetics. I sensed the need to get more fully into my legs and so I began in a standing position rather than the prone one Reich used.
Page 40 …all patients lacked a sense of having their feet firmly planted on the floor. This lack corresponded to their being “up in the air” and out of touch with reality. Grounding or getting a patient in touch with reality, the ground he stands on, his body and his sexuality, has become one of the cornerstones of bioenergetics.
Page 41 My body gradually became more relaxed and stronger. I recall losing the feeling of brittleness. I sensed that though I could be hurt, I would not break. I also lost my irrational fear of pain. Pain, I learned, was tension, and I found that when I gave into the pain, I could understand the tension that produced it, and this invariably brought about its release.
Page 42 The life of an individual is the life of his body. Since the living body includes the mind, the spirit and the soul, to live the life of the body fully is to be mindful, spiritual and soulful. If we are deficient in these aspects of our being, it is because we are not fully in or with our bodies.
Page 43 We are not identified with our body; in fact, we have betrayed it, as I pointed out in the previous book. All our personal difficulties stemmed from this betrayal, and I believe that most of our social problems have a similar origin.
This emphasis on the body includes sexuality, which is one of its basic functions. But it also includes the even more basic functions of breathing, moving, feeling and self-expression. A person who doesn’t breathe deeply reduces the life of his body. If he doesn’t move freely, he restricts the life of his body. If he doesn’t feel fully, he narrows the life of his body. And if his self-expression is constricted, he limits the life of his body.
…culture that denies body values in favor of power, prestige and possessions…we accept these restrictions on our lives by failing to question them, and thus, we betray our bodies.
It is equally true that most people are unconscious of the bodily handicaps under which they labor-handicaps that have become second nature to them, part of their habitual way of being in the world. In effect, most people go through life on a limited budget of energy and feeling.
…help people regain their primary nature, which is the condition of being free, the state of being graceful and the quality of being beautiful
Pg 44: Freedom is the absence of inner restraint to the flow of feeling, grace is the expression of this flow in movement, while beauty is a manifestation of the inner harmony such a flow engenders. They denote a healthy body and also, therefore, a healthy mind.
To go through life with a closed heart is like taking an ocean voyage locked in the hold of the ship
We would readily acknowledge that what goes on in the body necessarily affects the mind, but that is not new. My position is that the energetic processes of the body determine what goes on in the mind just as they determine what goes on in the body.
Pg 47: The depressed individual is energetically depressed. Cinematic studies show he makes only about one-half the spontaneous movements usual in the nondepressed individual.
…many depressed patients…I try to help him build up his energy.
Pg 48: The most immediate way to do this is to increase his oxygen intake – that is, to get him to breathe more deeply and fully……as one’s respiration becomes more active, his energy level rises. When a person becomes charged up, a fine, involuntary tremor or vibration may occur in the legs. This is interpreted as a sign that there is some flow of excitation in the body, specifically in the lower part. The voice may become more resonant since there is more air flowing through the larynx, and the face may brighten. It may not take more than twenty to thirty minutes to accomplish this change and for the patient to feel “lifted up.”
Pg 49: Growth takes energy.
All activity requires and uses energy – from the beating of the heart, the peristaltic moment of the intestines, to walking, talking, working and sex. However, no living organism is a machine. Its basic activities are not performed mechanically but are expressions of its being. A person expresses himself in his actions and movements, and when his self-expression is free and appropriate to the reality of the situation, he experiences a sense of satisfaction and pleasure from the discharge of his energy. This pleasure and satisfaction in turn stimulate the organism to increased metabolic activity, which is immediately reflected in deeper and fuller breathing. With pleasure the rhythmic and involuntary activities of life function at an optimal level.
Pleasure and satisfaction are, as I have said, the immediate experience of self-expressive activities. Limit a person’s right to express himself, and you limit his opportunities for pleasure and creative living.
The avenues of self-expression through movement, the voice and the eyes must be opened up, so a greater energy discharge can occur.
Suddenly without any conscious intent or awareness, he may begin to cry.
Pg 50: He may not know at the moment why he is crying. The deeper breathing opened his throat, charged his body, and activated suppressed emotions with the result that a feeling of sadness erupted and flowed out. Sometimes it is anger that breaks through.
(he will) become aware of his “holding” and of the muscular tensions in his throat and chest that block the expression of feeling.
Thus, the emphasis is always on breathing, feeling and movement, coupled with the attempt to relate the present-day energetic functioning of the individual to his life history. This combined approach slowly uncovers he inner forces (conflicts) that prevent a person from functioning at his full energetic potential. Each time one of these inner conflicts is resolved, the person’s energy level increases. This means he takes in more energy and discharges more in creative activities that ae pleasurable and satisfying.
Every therapy is handicapped by the fact that the culture we live in is not oriented toward creative activity and pleasure. As I have pointed out elsewhere, it is not geared to the values and rhythms of the living body but to those of machines and material productivity. We cannot escape the conclusion that the forces inhibiting self-expression and, therefore, decreasing our energetic functioning derive from this culture and are part of it.
Pg 52: …we can picture sensations, feelings and emotions as currents or waves in this liquid body. Sensations, feelings and emotions are the perceptions of internal movements within the relatively fluid body. Nerves mediate these perceptions and coordinate responses, but the underlying impulses and movements are inherent in the body’s energetic charge, in its natural rhythms and pulsations. These internal movements represent the body’s motility as distinguished from the voluntary motions that are subject to conscious control.
Pg 53: A person’s emotional life depends on the motility of his body, which in turn is a function of the flow of excitation throughout it. Disturbances of this flow occur as blocks, which ae manifested in areas where the body’s motility is reduced. In these areas one can also easily palpate, or feel with one’s fingers, the spasticity in the musculature. Thus the terms “block,” “deadness” and “chronic muscular tension” refer to the same phenomenon. Generally one can infer a block from seeing an area of deadness and sensing or palpating the muscular contraction that maintains it.
Apart from the energy derived from the combustion of food, an individual gets excited or charged by contact with positive forces.
Pg 54: We all are sensitive to the forces or energies that surround us, but their impact is not equal on all people. A more highly charged person is more resistant to negative influences. At the same time he is a positive influence for others, especially when the flow of excitation in his body is free and full. Such individuals are a joy to be with, and we all sense this intuitively.
…each person is his body. No person exists apart from the living body in which he has his existence and though which he expresses himself and relates to the world around him.
If you are your body and your body is you then it expresses who you are. It is your way of being in the world. The more alive your body is, the more you are in the world.
Pg 55: Your tiredness is expressed in many visual or auditory signs – in a sag of the shoulders, a droop in the skin of the face, a lack of luster in the eyes, a slowness and heaviness in movement and flatness or lack of resonance in the voice. Even the effort to mask the feeling betrays itself, revealing the strain of the forced attempt.
…angry person…flushed face, clenched fists and snarling mouth…Affection or love produces a softening of all the features, plus a suffusion of warmth in the skin and eyes. Sadness has a melting look, as if the person were about to breakdown into tears.
A person’s attitude toward life or his personal style is reflected in the way he holds himself, his carriage, and in the way he moves. The individual with a so-called noble carriage or regal bearing can be distinguished from an individual whose bent back, rounded shoulders and slightly bowed head indicate submission to burdens weighing heavily on him.
Pg 56: Many people are similarly handicapped by an unconscious conflict between different aspects of their personality.
But in people who have this conflict the effort to be independent and responsible is undermined by unconscious desires to be supported and taken care of. The result is a mixed picture both psychologically and physically. In his behavior such a person may show an exaggerated independence together with a fear of being alone or with an inability to make decisions.
In other cases there is a conflict between the playfulness of the child and the realism of the adult part of the personality.
Pg 57: Just as a woodsman can read the life history of a tree from a cross section of the trunk showing its annual growth rings, so it is possible for a bioenergetics therapist to read a person’s life history from his body.
Pg 59: Consciousness, however, is not a detached or isolated unit of the personality. It is a function of the organism, an aspect of the living body. It develops in relation to growth of the body physically, emotionally and psychologically. It is dependent on experience; it gains depth through the acquisition of skills; it becomes confirmed in activity.
The desire for an intimate closeness underlies all feelings of love. The individual who is in touch with the baby he was which is still part of him, knows the feeling of love. He is also in touch with his heart. To the degree that one is cut off from his heart or his babyhood he is blocked from experiencing the fullness of love.
Pg 60: An adult is a person who is aware of the consequences of his behavior and assumes responsibility for them. However, if he loses touch with the feelings of love and closeness he knew as a baby, with the creative imagination of the child, with the playfulness and joy of his boyhood and with the spirit of adventure and sense of romance that marked his youth, he will be a sterile, hidebound and rigid person. A healthy adult is a baby, a child, a boy or girl and a youth. His sense of reality and responsibility includes the need and desire for closeness and love, the ability to be creative, the freedom to be joyful, and the spirit to be adventurous. He is an integrated and fully conscious human being.
Pg 61: The living body has a mind, possesses a spirit and contains a soul.
Pg 62: Unfortunately information does not become knowledge unless it has relevance to experience. We constantly overlook the fact that experience is a bodily phenomenon. One only experiences that which takes place in the body. To the degree that the body is alive, one’s experience is vivid or dull. When events in the external world affect the body, one experiences them, but what one actually experiences is their effect on the body.
Knowledge becomes understanding when it is coupled with feeling.
Pg 63: Some people become too mindful of themselves and develop an embarrassing self-consciousness. Others are so mindful of what is going on around them that they lose consciousness of the self. This is frequently true of hypersensitive individuals.
To mind your body is one of the tenets of bioenergetics, for only in that way do you know who you are – that is, do you know your own mind. In this connection the mind functions as a perceptive and reflective organ, sensing and defining one’s mood, feelings, desires, etc. To know your mind really is to know what you want or what you feel. If you have no feeling, there is nothing to mind (pay attention to), and so one doesn’t have a mind. When a person’s actions are influenced by other people and not by his own feelings, he doesn’t have a mind of his own.
Pg 65: To lose your mind, as in the case of insanity, is not to know what you feel. This happens when the mind is overwhelmed by feelings it cannot accept and dare not focus on. The individual then cuts off or dissociates his conscious perception from his body. He may become depersonalized, or he may run amok, abandoning all attempts at self-possession.
If a person is not mindful of his body, it is because he is afraid to perceive or sense his feelings. When feelings have a threatening quality, they are generally suppressed. This is done by developing chronic muscular tensions that do not allow any flow of excitation or spontaneous movement to develop in the relevant areas. People often suppress their fear because it has a paralyzing effect, their rage because it is too dangerous, and their despair because it is too discouraging. They will also suppress their awareness of pain, such as the pain of an unfulfilled longing, because they cannot support that pain. The suppression of feeling diminishes the state of excitation in the body and decreases the ability of the mind to focus. It is the prime cause for the loss of mind power. Mostly our minds are preoccupied with the need to be in control at the expense of being and feeling more alive.
The amount of spirit a person has is determined by how alive and vibrant he is, literally by how much energy he has. The connection between energy and spirit is immediate. When a person becomes excited and his energy increases, his spirits rise.
The quality of a person’s spirit characterizes him as an individual, and when it is strong, it makes him stand out from others of his kind.
Pg 66: Breathing plays an important role in bioenergetics, because only through breathing deeply and fully can one summon the energy for a more spirited and spiritual life.
Pg 71: It is the lack of feeling or a confusion about feeling that brings people to therapy.
Through therapy I was able to reach and open up my feelings and so reain some of the life of my body.
Reich: “Love, work and knowledge are the wellsprings of life. They should also govern it.”
Pg 72: Both yoga and t’ai chi emphasize the importance of sensing the body, the achievement of coordination and grace and the attainment of spiritual feeling through an identification with the body.
Pg 81: One is required to breathe deeply and fully while in it. One has to be able to maintain the functioning and integrity of the body under stress. Doing the exercise regularly helps greatly, however. It helps a person get in touch with his body, sense its disturbances and tensions and understand their meaning. It also helps him retain the feeling of harmony with the universal once he has achieved it. This is no small challenge in a technological culture.
Pg 87: Wherever a degree of dissociation exists, the natural respiratory movements do not flow freely through the body. Breathing is either thoratic, with little abdominal involvement, or diaphragmatic, with restricted chest movements. If the person is asked to bend his back in the t’ai chi arch described earlier, the line of the body does not form a true bow. The pelvis is either held forward or pulled back, causing a break in the line and in the unity of the body. A lack of unity denotes that head, heart and genitals are not integrated.
Pg 88: Releasing them by using both a physical and a psychological approach makes people begin to feel “connected.” That is their word. Head, heart and genitals, or thinking, feeling and sex are no longer separate parts or separate functions. Sex becomes more and more an expression of love with a correspondingly greater pleasure.
People come to therapy with various complaints: depression, anxiety, a feeling of inadequacy, a sense of failure, etc. But behind each complaint is a lack of joy and satisfaction in living.
Pg 90: …most people are unaware of the expression on their faces and to that extent are out of touch with who they are and what they feel.
Pg 92: Through his touch he can convey to the patient the idea that he feels and accepts the patient as a bodily being and that touching is a natural way of being in contact. For the patient, to be touched physically by the therapist is a sign that the therapist cares. It relates back to the days when being held and touched by one’s mother was an expression of her tender, loving care. Most people in our culture suffer from a deprivation of body contact dating back to their infancy. As a result of this deprivation, they want to be touched and held but are afraid to ask or reach for it. They feel a taboo against physical contact because it is too closely associated in their minds and bodies with sexuality. Since a taboo of this kind makes it difficult for people to be really in touch with each other, it is therapeutically important to eliminate it. It is incumbent on a therapist, therefore, to show he is not afraid to touch or be in touch with his patient.
Pg 93: A patient has a great need to touch his therapist since it is the patient’s taboo against touching that is the cause of his feeling of isolation. To overcome his taboo, I often ask a patient to touch my face while he is lying on the bed.
Pg 94: We clan, for example, describe an individual as having “standing” or “no standing” in a community. In the latter case, he doesn’t count as a person….The opposite of “to stand”…to slouch, slump or shift.
Pg 95: …a person who “slouches” forgoes a stand. …there are people whose bodies show an habitual slouch, others whose bodies slump or manifest some degree of collapse. Some people are unable to stand without shifting their weight from one foot to the other. When such terms describe a typical attitude of the body, they describe the person. How a person stands in life – that is, his basic stance as a human being – is dramatically revealed by his body.
The high arch diminishes the contact between foot and ground and denotes that the person’s feet are not well planted.
Pg 97: The remark that “a person has both feet on the ground” can be taken literally only in the sense that there is a feeling contact between the feet and the ground. Such contact occurs when excitation or energy flows into the feet, creating a condition of vibrant tension similar to that described for the hands when one focuses his attention or directs his energy to them. One is, then, aware of the feet and able to balance himself properly on them.
…the legs, which are our mobile roots. Just like the roots of a tree, our legs and feet interact energetically with the ground.
Pg 98: One can sense the feet becoming charged and alive when one walks barefoot on the wet grass or the hot sand. One can also get the same feeling from a bioenergetics body-experience exercise.
A mother is an infant’s first ground, or to put it differently, an infant is grounded through its mother’s body. Earth and ground are symbolically identified with the mother, who is a representative of ground and home.
My patients failed to develop a sense of being grounded or rooted because of a lack of sufficient pleasurable contact with their mothers’ bodies.
A mother who is herself uprooted cannot provide the sense of security and grounding a baby needs.
Pg 99: …words can be used to tell a lie….the language of the body cannot be used to deceive, if the observer knows how to read it. If my patient really feels fine, his body should reflect that state of being. I would expect his countenance to be bright, his eyes to have a shine, his voice to have resonance, and his movements to be animated.
Pg 100: Actually, we all respond to other people in terms of their bodily expression. We constantly size each other up as bodies, quickly evaluating a person’s strength or weakness, his aliveness or deadness, his age, his sexual appeal, etc. From a person’s bodily expression we often decide whether we can trust him, what his mood is and what his basic attitudes are to life.
Pg 101: If we distrust our senses, we undermine our ability to sense and to make sense.
Sensing another person is an empathic process. Empathy is a function of identification – that is, by identifying with a person’s bodily expression, one can sense its meaning. One can also sense what it feels like to be that other person, though one cannot feel what another feels. Each person’s feelings are private, subjective. He feels what is going on in his body; you feel what is going on in yours. However, since all human bodies are alike in their basic functions, bodies can resonate to each other when they are on the same wavelength. When this happens, the feelings in one body are similar to those in the other.
Practically, this means that if one assumes the bodily attitude of another perso, one can sense the meaning or have the feeling of that body expression. Suppose you see another person whose chest is up, whose shoulders are raised and whose brows are elevated, and you want to know what this attitude signifies. Assume that attitude. Suck in the air, raise your shoulders, and lift your brows. If you are in touch with your body, you will immediately perceive that you have adopted an expression of fear. You may or may not feel afraid. That depends on whether it evokes a fear that is in you, but you will correctly identify the expression. You will then understand that, in the language of the body, the other person is saying, “I am afraid.”
The other person may not feel afraid despite his expression of fear. If he doesn’t, it means he is out of touch with the expression of his body. That generally happens when an attitude is of long standing and has become structured in the body. Chronic holding or tension patterns lose their effective or energetic charge and are removed from consciousness. They are not perceived or experienced. The body attitude becomes “second nature” to the person, at which point we say that it is part of his character.
Our first impressions of people are body responses which we tend eventually to ignore as we focus on their words and deeds.
Words and actions are to a large extent subject to voluntary control. They can be used to convey impressions that contradict the expression of the body.
Pg 104: … “first nature,” one free of these structured attitudes. We can define this first nature negatively or positively. We can say that it is the absence, on the body level, of chronic muscular tensions that restrict feeling and movement and, on the psychological level, of rationalizations, denials and projections. Positively it must be a nature that retains the beauty and grace that all animals are normally endowed with at birth. IT is important to recognize the distinction between second and first nature, for too many people accept their bodily tensions and distortions as “natural,” not realizing they belong to the order of “second nature,” which feels natural only because of long habituation. It is my deep conviction that a healthy life and a healthy culture can be built only on a man’s first nature.
Pg 107: Only through your body do you experience your life and your being in the world. But it is not enough to get in touch with the body. A person must also keep I touch, and that means a commitment to the life of the body. Such a commitment does not exclude the mind, but it does exclude a commitment to a dissociated intellect, a mind that is not mindful of the body.
Pg 117: The self cannot be divorced from the body, and self-awareness cannot be separated from body awareness. For me, at least, the way of growth is by being in touch with my body and understanding its language.
Pg 119: The ego is the outermost layer of the personality. Typical ego defenses are:
- Rationalizations and intellectualizations
Pg 133: On the surface – that is, the ego level – the defense takes the form of an ego ideal which says, “It’s not manly to cry,” and a denial, “I don’t want it anyway.” This defense is closely tied to the muscular tensions I the throat and arms which block the impulse to open up and reach out. ON the body level the issue is not whether it is manly to cry. When the tensions are very severe, it becomes almost impossible for the person to cry. Similar tensions are found in the shoulders which make it equally difficult to reach out fully with the arms. On the deeper emotional level there are suppressed feelings of sadness, despair, rage and anger with impulses to bite, plus fear and longing. All this has to be worked though before a person’s heart can be fully opened again.
Yet the person is not dead; his heart longs for love, his feelings demand expression, his body wants to be free.
To live in fear of being fully alive is the state of most people.
Pg 135: When, however, a situation contains a promise of pleasure, coupled with a threat of pain, we experience anxiety.
Pg 136: Almost all individuals in our society develop defenses against this striving for pleasure because it has been the cause of severe anxiety in the past.
In the final analysis, death is the total defense against anxiety. But since every defense is a limitation on life, it is also a partial death.
Pg 138: …I maintain that the act of reaching out is itself the basis for the experience of pleasure. It represents an expansion of the total organism, a flow of feeling and energy to the periphery of the organism and the world.
Pain would result from the pressure created by the energy of an impulse meeting a block.
Pg 145: Every muscular tension blocks the individual’s reaching out directly to the world for pleasure. Faced with such restrictions, the ego will manipulate the environment in furtherance of the body’s need for contact and pleasure.
Pg 154: There is an inadequate sense of self because of a lack of identification with the body. The person doesn’t feel connected or integrated.
The tendency to dissociation represented on the body level by the lack of energetic connection between head and the rest of the body produces some splitting of the personality into opposite attitudes. Thus, one can find an attitude of arrogance coupled with one of debasement, of being virgin coupled with the feeling of being a whore. The latter also reflects the split in the two parts of the body, lower and upper.
The schizoid character shows a hypersensitivity owing to a weak ego boundary which is the psychological counterpart of the lack of peripheral charge. This weakness reduces his resistance to outside pressures and forces him to withdraw in self-defense….a strong tendency to avoid intimate, feeling relationships. Actually such relationships are very difficult to establish because of the lack of charge in the peripheral structures.
Pg 155: The history reveals a lack of any strong positive feeling of security or joy. In childhood, night terrors were common. Either withdrawal or nonemotional behavior was typical with occasional outbursts of rage…
Given this history, the child had no choice but to dissociate himself from reality (intense fantasy life) and from his body (abstract intelligence) in order to survive. Since the dominant feelings were terror and murderous fury, the child walled off all feeling in self defense.
…an inner feeling of needing to be held, supported and taken care of. …these traits are masked by consciously adopted compensatory attitudes.
…an exaggerated independence which, however, fails to hold up under stess.
Pg 161: The denial of feeling is basically a denial of need. The psychopathic maneuver is to make others need him so that he doesn’t have to express his need. Thus he is always one up on the world.
Pg 162: There is also a masochistic element in the psychopathic personality, resulting from the submission to the seductive parent. The child could not rebel or walk away from the situation; its only defense was internal. The submission is only on the surface; nevertheless, to the degree that the child submits openly, he gains some measure of closeness with the parent.
Pg 163: ..submissive attitude in his outward behavior, he is just the opposite inside. On the deeper emotional level, he has strong feelings of spite, negativity, hostility and superiority….He counters the fear of exploding by a muscular pattern of holding in. Thick, powerful muscles restrain any direct assertion and allow only the whine or complaint to come through.
Pg 165: On a conscious level the masochist is identified with trying to please; on the unconscious level, however, this attitude is denied by spite, negativity and hostility. These suppressed feelings must be released before the masochistic individual can respond freely to life situations.
Pg 170:…need for intimacy and closeness and for self-expression and a fear that these needs are mutually exclusive.
Pg 173: If this is done correctly, the patient would end his therapy feeling very strongly that he has the right to be in the world, needing but also independent, free but also loving and committed.
Pg 182: The psychopathic character had something his parent wanted; otherwise he would not have been an object of seduction and manipulation. As a child he must have been aware of this and got from it his first taste of power. True, he was really helpless, and so his power was only in his mind, but he learned a fact of life he used later: Whenever anybody needs something from you, you have power over them.
Pg 185: In a literal sense everyone has his feet on the ground; in an energetic sense, however, this is not always the case. If a person’s energy does not flow strongly into his feet, his energetic or feeling contact with the ground is very limited.
Pg 196: …the more a person can feel his contact with the ground, the more he can hold his ground, the more charge he can tolerate and the more feeling he can handle. This makes grounding a prime objective in bioenergetics work. It implies that the major thrust of the work is downward – that is, to get the person into his legs and feet.
Pg 197: There is a deep sadness in every person who is hung up, and many would prefer to stay hung up than face their sadness, for in most people it verges on despair.
The sadness and crying are held in the belly, which is also the chamber where the charge accumulates for the breakthrough to sexual release and satisfaction. The way to joy invariably leads through despair.
Pg 202: …the fear of falling carries with it the anxiety that he would be alone because he would fall behind or fall back. If his legs let go, he would be alone because he would fall behind or fall back. If his legs let go, he would be like a little child who suddenly sits down when his legs no longer support him, only to discover his parents have moved on and there is no one there to pick him up.
Pg 204: Whatever its origin, every holding pattern represents in the present the unconscious use of the will against the natural forces of life.
Pg 219: Neurotic anxiety stems from an internal conflict between an energetic movement in the body and an unconscious control or block set up to limit or stop that movement. Thes blocks are the chronic muscular tensions mostly in the striated or voluntary musculature which is normally under ego control. Conscious ego control is lost when the tension in a set of muscles becomes chronic. This does not mean that control is surrendered but that the control itself has become unconscious.
Pg 223: I have defined love as the anticipation of pleasure, but it is particularly sexual pleasure that lures one to falling in love. Psychologically, it involves a surrender of the ego to the loved object, who becomes more important to the self than the ego. But the surrender of the ego involves a descent of feeling in the body, a downward flow of excitation into the deep abdomen and pelvis. This downward flow produces delicious steaming and meting sensations. One literally melts with love. The same lovely sensations occur when one’s sexual excitement is very strong and not limited to the genital area. They precede every full orgastic release.
The key to this phenomenon is the release of the diaphragm, allowing a strong excitation to flow into the lower part of the body. This becomes clear to us when we realize that holding one’s breath in these activities introduces anxiety and destroys the pleasure. The same thing happens in sex. If one is afraid to go with the fall and so holds his breath, the melting sensation does not occur, and the climax is only partially satisfactory.
Pg 261: A person expresses himself in every action he takes or movement his body makes.
Actions and body movements are not the only modalities of self-expression. The form and shape of the body, its colorations, hair, eyes, sounds identify the species and the individual.
Pg 265: Spontaneity is a function of the body’s motility….Vital functions…vary in quality and intensity with the degree of excitation…In adults these involuntary movements constitute the basis of our gestures, facial expressions and other body actions. Generally, we are not conscious of this activity which expresses us even more than our conscious actions. It follows, therefore, that the greater the motility of the organism, the more self-expressive it is.
Pg 312: …it is not difficult to see that the function of consciousness depends on the aliveness of the person and that it is directly related to emotional health. More important, however, is the conclusion that the ability to be conscious is tied to the energetic processes of the body – namely, to how much energy a person has and how freely it can circulate. Consciousness reflects the state of inner excitation; in fact, it is the light of the inner flame projected on two screens – the surface of the body and that of the mind.