Tag Archive: challenger

The Psychopath 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, 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 .