Tag Archive: armoring

Trauma and the Body

When any of us experience a traumatic event (sometimes leading to PTSD) – even once if it’s great enough – it isn’t something that is only emotional or mental. It’s also physical, because when we’re traumatized, we armor physically.

Resilience is something greatly discussed today, because we know now that some people who experience trauma do not armor as much as others.  The reason lies in how they were supported after the traumatic event; and this support, in turn, helped them reduce their physical, and then mental and emotional armoring.

Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist from the Netherlands, became interested in how to successfully help Viet Nam veterans. As a young practitioner, he was introduced to a vet who was having nightmares; he offered him drugs to help him sleep, and after a few weeks, the vet gave the drugs back to him, saying he preferred to have the nightmares as a living testament to those who suffered the trauma with him. He realized then that trauma sufferers hold that trauma in their hearts, minds and also their bodies.

From his ensuing work with vets, he came to appreciate that traumatized people don’t remember the story. Instead they re-experience the event, as if it was happening right now. The images, sounds, smells – all physical sensations – are as real now as they were at the time of the event.

Yet, for those vets who were able to move on, their stories changed over time, eventually being  integrated into their past. Those vets were able to move on.

From studies in neuropsychology, we know that the Amygdala is involved in registering and holding trauma, by either becoming hypersensitive or shutting down. This means the person experiencing a current event may be hypersensitive to it and react as if it were traumatizing and life-threatening, and at the same time, be insensitive to the consequences of their reactions to those around them.

Trauma, being held, cuts us off from our bodies.

Wilhelm Reich, in the 1950’s recognized this and developed his theory of Character Structures as a result. Others refined his work – Alexander Lowen, Stephen Johnson, Jack Painter, and many others more recently, base their work on this recognition. Much earlier, shamanic traditions recognized this phenomenon and learned to effectively deal with it.

These practitioners, including van der Kolk, prior to working with the traumatized person on integrating their story, help them reconnect with their bodies. Van der Kolk uses yoga; others use different kinds of massage and exercises, similar to yoga. The mind-body movement popular today is, in some part, an effort to reconnect mind and body, recognizing the essential need to be able to feel in a sensual/perceptual way, how an experience impacts a person.

If you’ve experienced trauma and it continues to impact you, then a way to begin to work with it is through some form of exercise that begins the process of de-armoring. This may be through yoga or some other physical activity that stretches and tenses different parts of your body. It may be working with a therapist who can support you as you learn to regain mastery over your physical actions and reactions. It’s my specialty, and that of many others.

Whatever you decide, know that it is possible to live free of trauma, and to regain that part of yourself that was once lost.

Our society and PTSD

 

Quote of the Week 

Armor: It’s how we protect ourselves from vulnerability. We just engage in a behavior that confirms our fear.”
― Brené Brown

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co .

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

Trauma and the Body

When any of us experience a traumatic event (sometimes leading to PTSD) – even once if it’s great enough – it isn’t something that is only emotional or mental. It’s also physical, because when we’re traumatized, we armor physically.

Resilience is something greatly discussed today, because we know now that some people who experience trauma do not armor as much as others.  The reason lies in how they were supported after the traumatic event; and this support, in turn, helped them reduce their physical, and then mental and emotional armoring.

Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist from the Netherlands, became interested in how to successfully help Viet Nam veterans. As a young practitioner, he was introduced to a vet who was having nightmares; he offered him drugs to help him sleep, and after a few weeks, the vet gave the drugs back to him, saying he preferred to have the nightmares as a living testament to those who suffered the trauma with him. He realized then that trauma sufferers hold that trauma in their hearts, minds and also their bodies.

From his ensuing work with vets, he came to appreciate that traumatized people don’t remember the story. Instead they re-experience the event, as if it was happening right now. The images, sounds, smells – all physical sensations – are as real now as they were at the time of the event.

Yet, for those vets who were able to move on, their stories changed over time, eventually being  integrated into their past. Those vets were able to move on.

From studies in neuropsychology, we know that the Amygdala is involved in registering and holding trauma, by either becoming hypersensitive or shutting down. This means the person experiencing a current event may be hypersensitive to it and react as if it were traumatizing and life-threatening, and at the same time, be insensitive to the consequences of their reactions to those around them.

Trauma, being held, cuts us off from our bodies.

Wilhelm Reich, in the 1950’s recognized this and developed his theory of Character Structures as a result. Others refined his work – Alexander Lowen, Stephen Johnson, Jack Painter, and many others more recently, base their work on this recognition. Much earlier, shamanic traditions recognized this phenomenon and learned to effectively deal with it.

These practitioners, including van der Kolk, prior to working with the traumatized person on integrating their story, help them reconnect with their bodies. Van der Kolk uses yoga; others use different kinds of massage and exercises, similar to yoga. The mind-body movement popular today is, in some part, an effort to reconnect mind and body, recognizing the essential need to be able to feel in a sensual/perceptual way, how an experience impacts a person.

If you’ve experienced trauma and it continues to impact you, then a way to begin to work with it is through some form of exercise that begins the process of de-armoring. This may be through yoga or some other physical activity that stretches and tenses different parts of your body. It may be working with a therapist who can support you as you learn to regain mastery over your physical actions and reactions. It’s my specialty, and that of many others.

Whatever you decide, know that it is possible to live free of trauma, and to regain that part of yourself that was once lost.

Announcements 

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up  for my insider newsletter, click here. If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

Maryanne

 

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 

Inner temple

 

This is the time of year – this late December season – when we are at or best and at our worst.  Expectations and desires for what might be are high, and for that reason alone, lead to joy and gratitude for some, or disappointment and pain for many others.

You might be among the many, away from family, in a new and unfamiliar place, separated from those you love, or confined with those you feel you ought to love. It’s tempting to wallow in what we believe “should” be, whatever that is: a beautiful tree buried in gifts, a large table overladen with festive food and surrounded by cheerful loving people, back home in familiar surroundings. Then we shake that longing and pain off, telling ourselves that we can do better than that, and don our coping mechanism armor, putting on a “happy” or brave face.

Our armor might be a mask of joviality, or a sharp knife. It may be stoicism, or any number of faces and physical stances.  It’s our armor, and for better or worse, it will get us through this time. And for that we can be thankful.

Armoring is something we all do when we feel the need to protect ourselves. We mask what we are feeling, not only from others, but also from ourselves. We do this by tensing up, not even allowing certain feelings to surface. There’s a price for armoring, and there are better ways of coping that don’t require it. But before rejecting this mechanism that has got you through so many difficult times, remember that it did get you through, and that it was the best you could come up with at the time.

For me, this time of year is a time of deep gratitude, for all I’ve been through, survived, experienced, learned from and grown through.  “We build our inner temples with the stones we have at hand.” – Richard Moore.

Best wishes to you.

Ram Dass – Dissolving the Fear

Quote of the Week 

Seek the temple within, the silent place you can go in the midst of it all.
― Nikki Rowe

Announcements 

Need more? At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

 

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 .

Inner temple

 

This is the time of year – this late December season – when we are at or best and at our worst.  Expectations and desires for what might be are high, and for that reason alone, lead to joy and gratitude for some, or disappointment and pain for many others.

You might be among the many, away from family, in a new and unfamiliar place, separated from those you love, or confined with those you feel you ought to love. It’s tempting to wallow in what we believe “should” be, whatever that is: a beautiful tree buried in gifts, a large table overladen with festive food and surrounded by cheerful loving people, back home in familiar surroundings. Then we shake that longing and pain off, telling ourselves that we can do better than that, and don our coping mechanism armor, putting on a “happy” or brave face.

Our armor might be a mask of joviality, or a sharp knife. It may be stoicism, or any number of faces and physical stances.  It’s our armor, and for better or worse, it will get us through this time. And for that we can be thankful.

Armoring is something we all do when we feel the need to protect ourselves. We mask what we are feeling, not only from others, but also from ourselves. We do this by tensing up, not even allowing certain feelings to surface. There’s a price for armoring, and there are better ways of coping that don’t require it. But before rejecting this mechanism that has got you through so many difficult times, remember that it did get you through, and that it was the best you could come up with at the time.

For me, this time of year is a time of deep gratitude, for all I’ve been through, survived, experienced, learned from and grown through.  “We build our inner temples with the stones we have at hand.” – Richard Moore.

Best wishes to you.

 

 

Announcements 

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up  for my insider newsletter, click here. If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

Maryanne

 

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 

The Psychopath Character Structure

psychopath

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.   For the past few weeks, I’ve introduced you, in broad terms, to Character Structures in general, and to the Masochist, or Endurer, the Oral, the Schizoid, and the Rigid.  This week I’ll introduce you to the Psychopath body and character type, the 5th and fnal main type.

The Psychopath, or Challenger, structure is most often triangular – broad shoulders, puffed out chest, narrow hips. Like Superman, or even Wonder Woman.

The main issue with the Challenger is trust: where their self-expression as a child was either not enough or too much, resulting in being put down or idealized. As with the other character types, parents do this unintentionally for the most part, but done during a given developmental period, it will likely result in the child armoring themselves in a particular way – in this case, by way of the Challenger. This child learns quickly to produce a false self that is designed to please others and manipulate them, and never or rarely reveal their true self.  The Challenger is the one with his back to wall, in a position to survey all who enter.

At his worst, he truly is a characature, puffed up in self-protection and self-importance. At his best, he is a natural leader, and if he is able to learn how to trust and reveal his true self, is a positive influence on any group he belongs to.

For the past few weeks, I’ve introduced Character Structures very briefly. If you find this series interesting, and want to know more, 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 .

The Rigid Character Structure

rigid character 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.   For the past few weeks, I’ve introduced you, in broad terms, to Character Structures in general, and to the Masochist, or Endurer, the Oral, and the Schizoid.  This week I’ll introduce you to the Rigid body and character type.

The Rigid structure is sometimes depicted as square, or rectangular: squared shoulders, straight back. Somewhat military. When I try to imagine a rigid stance, I imagine someone like General Montromery, or Spock.

The main issue with the Rigid is early control: of being exploited by (usually) one parent – often unawares – to fulfill that parent’s own needs.  The father, for instance, who insists his son follow in his footsteps, or become a doctor, or go to a particular school – regardless of the child’s wishes and needs.  The child finds that they must swallow this parent’s beliefs, whether he believes them himself. To do so, he learns to separate his own feelings from his thoughts, developing a “stiff upper lip”, calmy and effectively doing what’s needed, regardless of what he may be feeling.

The Rigid, in separating feelings from beliefs, may find himself in dry long-term relationships and passionnate short-term ones, never reconciling his emotional needs with his life goals.  He’s the person who needs different partners for sex and for love.

At their best, the Rigid person is the righteous, clear-headed thinker. Reliable. Organized. Thorough. (And the best of all character types, according to my Rigid friend.)

The primary challenge for the Rigid is to learn to recognize, and then trust, his own beliefs and feelings.

Next week, I’ll introduce the Psychopath, or Challenger character Type.  If you find this series interesting, and want to know more, 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 .

The Schizoid Character Structure

schizoid

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.   For the past few weeks, I’ve introduced you, in broad terms, to Character Structures in general, and to the Masochist, or Endurer, and to the Oral.  This week I’ll introduce you to the Schizoid body and character type.

The Schizoid structure is disjointed: one shoulder higher than the other, for instance; the person who has this structure is often much stronger, physically, than they look.

The main issue with the Schizoid is early rejection.  This differs from feeling abandoned (like the Oral): the Oral knows her parents love her but have abandoned her; the Schizoid doesn’t know this and feels rejected by her caregivers. Alone and afraid in a world they never made.  As with the Oral, the parents of the Schizoid may have done something unawares that created this lack for their baby, and sometimes it’s overt – like when the baby is the product of a rape. Covert or overs, the end result is that the child has a felt sense of not being wanted, and not having a safe place in this new and scary world.

The Schizoid is inwardly anxious, and armors herself in a way that protects whatever she feels is being attacked in that moment; as a result, the schizoid will tend to pull inward, away from her extremeties. To the external world she shows a calm demeanor; while inwardly she is trembling.

At their best, the Schizoid person is the visionary, able to see beyond the every-day mundane to the bigger picture. Creative and well-grounded, she is connected to her surroundings in multiple ways. The only true multi-tasker.

The primary challenge for the Schizoid is to learn to love herself – and know she belongs.

Next week, I’ll introduce the Rigid character Type.  If you find this series interesting, and want to know more, 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 .

The Oral Character Structure

Oral Character Structure

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.   For the past few weeks, I’ve introduced you, in broad terms, to Character Structures in general, and to the Masochist, or Endurer.  This week I’ll introduce you to the Oral body and character type.

The Oral  structure is characterized as rounded: rounded shoulders, rounded breasts and hips. Often, an oral is generous in their proportions, but not always.  In the diagram above, you can see that the Oral body type very often holds themselves so that their chest is concave.

The main issue with the Oral is early abandonment. It might have been because they were born prematurely, or that their mother was ill, or any number of reasons; the end result is that the child felt abandoned and developed a neediness from that point onward for the connection they missed as a young infant.

Neediness isn’t something that’s encouraged in our society, so the Oral will often over-compensate for this need, they becone super independent, and the caregivers of others – giving to others what they crave from others.

At their best, the Oral person is the nurturer –  Earth Mother or Earth Father. Open-hearted and truly generous to others.  They tend to see things differently from the rest of us – a refreshing change and valuable addition to any group or team.

The primary challenge of the Oral is to learn to nurture themselves – to learn true self-dependence. When they are trudy self-dependent, any service they do for others is solely from their heart and not invested in developing dependencies form others.

Next week, I’ll introduce the Schizoid 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 .

The Endurer

endurer

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 .