In the first part of the 20th century, Austrian Psychoanalist Wilhelm Reich developed a theory explaining how we respond both physically and emotionally to the challenges we meet in life, especially in early life. From his studies.
Last week, I introduced you, in broad terms, to Character Structures – what they are and how they develop. This week I’ll introduce you to the Edndurer body and character type; also known as the Masochist type. In the diagram above, the Endurer is depicted as someone who is somewhat heavy-set with slightly rounded arms and a solid base from the waist down. While this isnt always so pronounced in this character type, it’s generally so.
Why is this body type called a Masochist, or Endurer (I will use these 2 terms interchangably)? Because the person who armors in this way does so by holding in instead of expressing their displeasure or discomfort. They hunker down, waiting out any nlslaught that comes their way. They keep their opinions to themselves – and they have a lot of their own opinions.
In fact, if this kind of person doesn’t find a way of expressing to the rest of the world what’s on their mind, it begins to eat away at them, and they grow angry. But because they never express themselves, this anger comes out in surrepticious ways – often cruel and petty ways – like biting remarks, leaving someone waiting, not showing up.
On the positive side, Masochists are powerful thinkers and doers, often chugging along when everyone else has long since left the scene. They are reliable. Atlas carying the world on his (or her) shoulders.
The primary challenge of the Masochist is to speak what is on their mind, without anger. This is a challenge, because the longer something is left unsaid, the more it’s laced with anger. Often this means learning to speak up in stages: first speaking up to a tree or to nature or in your car, letting out all the anger – no holding back. Then speaking up to a trusted friend, with the understanding that this is to help you learn to re-empower your voice and nothing else. Finally, speaking up once more to the world, re-owning that voice that somehow got silenced.
Next week, I’ll introduce the Oral character Type. If you find this series interesting, and want to know more, and I along with my friend and colleague Jane Mactinger will be holding a workshop on Character Structures in the near future. Stay tuned for a date and time.
Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist. To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .