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July 2022: Inspired by Adversity, We Create our Own Intrapersonal Shift

inspired by adversityFor July and August, I am taking a break from writing a blog. I am taking time to relax and spend time with family and friends.

There are difficult situations we all face: rising rates of Covid, Putin’s atrocities in Ukraine that challenge us on a daily basis, and shootings and gun violence that are painful and horrifying to witness.

Other difficult challenges invade our psyches, be that health issues, personal challenges, hardships and stress.


Let’s take our moments to breathe and relax. I always love a good book to fall into and enjoy the saga! I particularly like historical fiction.

Thanks for your continued support and I hope you are all taking time to relax and enjoy the summer months!

June 2022: Reich’s Character Types: The Hysterical Character

Climate change is and should be our number one priority. Because it is so difficult to face, we turn the other way; it is too challenging to grasp. We may make small efforts, but they pale in comparison to what is actually needed. It is not a top priority across the globe because winning elections is more important than issues of climate change.

The school shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde have horrified us. The death of the children is intolerable! The shootings in Buffalo were an outgrowth of blatant racism. In both shootings, the offenders were 18 and able to procure guns at their young age.

Ukraine is in a phase of the war where it’s faltering as Putin continues to absorb land. These are hard times, it’s difficult to look anywhere in the world and feel encouraged.

Despite all of this we will find resilience in the face of darkness: hopefulness in the face of pain. We will keep our faith in all that is good.

Reich’s Hysterical Character Type

Continuing on with character types from last month, we revisit another blog from June 2014, Reich’s Character Types: The Hysterical Character.

This post continues our discussion of Wilhelm Reich’s schema of character types, with a focus on his Hysterical Character. As I stated in the last post, I will add further types from Object Relations Theory to complete the typology at the end of this series. I will present Reich’s types initially as he delineated them to give you a clear sense of his system and how he evolves the types out of the psycho-sexual developmental stages. I will eliminate some of the extensive elaboration and specificity within his typology so my readers don’t bog down. This post will include historic contextual markers relevant to Reich’s theoretical evolution and the development of this specific character type.

As part of the Genital character which we discussed in the last blog, Reich includes the Hysterical Character type, referenced as: genitality with anxiety as a subset. This diagnosis has roots in ancient history and the Middle Ages where hysteria was discovered and designated as a medical condition thought particular to women. When Sigmund Freud began his seminal work in the field of psychoanalysis, hysteria was at the forefront of his developing understanding that “medical pathologies” can be traced to the mind. Freud’s launching pad was the work of French neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot, who investigated hysteria in-depth. Serious symptoms like paralysis and fugue states (behaviors displayed, but later not remembered), became an impetus for Freud’s research and he published a series of articles on hysteria and the mental etiology of these conditions. Freud delineated how hysterical symptoms are a conversion of psychological stress into physical symptoms, i.e. paralysis, fugue, or selective amnesia. Freud and his student Reich attributed hysterical symptoms, including overdramatic behaviors and emotions, as the unconscious mind’s attempt to protect from psychic disturbance.

Reich’s discussion of the hysteric type is, of course, influenced by the times he lived in. During the period of his mentorship with Freud and after separating from Freud (1918-1934), Reich incorporated Freud’s analytic concept of libido or biological sexual energy and, after years of research, expanded on it and scientifically validated the existence of biological energy. He ultimately named it Orgone Energy. Freud, on the other hand, moved away from his earlier concept of libido and reduced it to a psychic concept without physical basis.

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May 2022: Reich’s Character Types: The Genital Character

In these difficult times, we endure Putin, who slams us against the wall of a most unhealthy character presentation: a psychopathic, brutal bully.

We watch the tenacity and determination of Zelensky who represents integrity as the world watches; wanting him to succeed.

Many battles to be won; many in the world have united and that is promising.


We make our way through the ongoing pandemic with new variants that cause continued fear and vigilance.

On top of everything, we enter the controversy of Roe vs. Wade; and the issues of women’s reproductive rights and freedom.


The following is a comprehensive blog that I originally posted in June of 2014. It introduces Reich’s entire system of character typology. It begins with the healthiest of characters: the genital character.

Our character types are relevant, and I hope you enjoy the blog.

This post will begin my series on Reich’s Character Types; starting with the Genital Character. I will utilize additional input from Object Relations theory to amplify the content, particularly at the end of the series. Reich’s character type typology gives us a map of how developmental passages combine with nature and nurture to influence formation of our defensive structures and, over time, define our consistent way of being. This system of organizing character types is functional in that it does not pigeonhole people in a black and white way. Most people fit into a defined character type with some consistency, yet we are also all unique, therefore adding shading to an individual’s description. Reich’s character typology creates an elegant map that correlates with his schema of body armoring. This is a comprehensive and integrated approach to the mind/body: the character types organize the body structure and vice versa, affecting the entirety of the body, including the autonomic nervous system.

In classical analytic theory, it is understood that development is a complex interaction between our genetic, energetic template combined with early attachment progress, family dynamics, external situations (i.e. war, death, relocation, medical issues, etc.) and other influences that effect how our lives progress. Reich wove all these factors together and defined the inevitable fixations and resulting armoring as they occur during various developmental stages. This tapestry defines how and where the energy can get concentrated or blocked. Symptoms occur when there is blockage at various points of development.

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February 2022: An In-Depth Look at Character Analysis

character analysisWe started the new year in a bit of a fog. January was challenging what with the Pandemic, threats of Russian incursion into Ukraine, and Putin’s ever-present KGB style, polarized politics that could not even pass a Voting Rights Bill.

Now we wander tentatively into February. Thich Nhat Hanh passed at 95 in Vietnam. I will dedicate my next blog to him.

As a kick-off theme for February, this blog will focus on my ongoing book club; the theme is character analysis, character armor, character defenses, and how to derail destructive styles that alienate others and prevent the Self from emerging. Working with Character armor is a mainstay of Reich.

Utilizing my book: Whole Therapist, Whole Patient: Integrating Reich, Masterson, and Jung in Modern Psychotherapy, I have hosted an online Book Club for the past 3 years. I pick a different segment: one or two pages that allow for a specific focus on each detail, so one doesn’t need to rush through the passages. Each passage is quite dense.

Our most recent session of the Book Club has centered around Character Analysis and I would like to extend our discussion to the general audience.

Discussion points from January book club:

  • Discuss the importance for a therapist to state the obvious.
  • Discuss ways in which patients use character defense to hide real issues, feelings and pain.
  • Discuss various characteristics that describe the patient in therapy sessions.
  • Describe ways to break character defenses.

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August 2020 Reich’s Phallic Character: The Compulsive – The Case of Brewster

compulsive character type Compulsive Character Type

Brewster is the epitome of the compulsive character type in that he rigidly controls all of his personal habits and attempts to control all the basic actions of his family members, particularly his wife Sara. The function of his behavior is an unconscious attempt to manage the deluge of anxiety through over-managing every detail of his life in an exacting manner. He chronically fends off the fear of chaos as if his life is guarding against a pending tsunami, as he furiously sets-up bulwarks. Terrified feelings underwrite this character but are out of view due to the compulsive behaviors that mask them. For example, if all surfaces are immaculate, he is relieved; if there is extreme order, he feels “better”.

Brewster, 50 years old, is an intelligent, responsible and dedicated accountant whose methodicalness is appreciated by his clientele. He is the breadwinner of the family and supports an ample lifestyle.

His wife, Sara is not a devotee of tidiness and cleanliness, so finds his preoccupations stifling. She has outbursts of rage in response to his constant requirements and demands. Yet his other attributes keep her somewhat content in the marriage. Brewster’s daughter Chelsey is 12. Sara protects her daughter from his over-controlling behaviors and fortunately limits his infringement. Chelsey has a both a playroom and a bedroom which are officially off limits to Brewster. This containment is important as it will help her grow up without developing her father’s compulsive habits.

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July 2020 Reich’s Phallic Character: The Paranoid- The Case of Sandra

manic depressive

Sandra, 42, was a highly intelligent wiz with numbers who has excelled in mathematics since she was a youngster. She was accepted into an Ivy League university and ended-up with a lucrative position in a top-tier brokerage firm in Manhattan.  Sandra’s relationship with math had always been straight-forward and involved no interpretation; it was a pure and simple proposition. As long as her mind focused on numbers she managed well.

The problems arose in other areas of her life and there she did not cope effectively. Sandra was known among her work associates to be difficult, and, at times, stridently combative. She misread cues, created “stories” in her head about other people’s trespasses; and was convinced they were calculating ways to undermine her. Frequently, she would provoke others in a misguided attempt to prove that her suspicions were correct. She couldn’t resist setting up others and relishing the sense of vindication.

Paranoid Symptomology

She often squinted her eyes, peering out through tiny slits – a sign of ocular holding or eye armoring. ( ). Particularly, at those times her perceptions were compromised as she could not accurately assess reality through her eyes. With an ocular block, one’s vision can be blurred, resulting in less visual acuity and the mobility of the eye is diminished. Sandra’s eyes looked frozen, wide-eyed with alarm and terror. Her eyes also expressed anger as she peered into her alienated landscape.

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June 2020 Reich’s Phallic Character: The Manic Depressive – The Case of Delia

manic depressive

Delia, 40, has been called “high-strung” for most of her life; one might say she is “wired”. She expresses predominantly the manic side of this character type although she can fall into depressive episodes. She is known to over-talk, over-eat, over-shop, as she flits from topic to topic during conversations, and is chronically over scheduled. She moves from event to event, project to project — on good days. Delia thrives on impulsive ideas and manifests them quickly without sufficient contemplation, manifesting a textbook manic depressive personality.

Delia has a disorganized quality that permeates her life although she is perceived as functioning well at her job as a sales manager in a start-up.

She is excitable, eccentric and mimics a hot-air balloon that stays up indefinitely until she performs a crash-land. She experiences panic when her instability moves to a breaking point and she feels like she is spinning in circles. She has difficulty maintaining any type of schedule, tends to be undisciplined and “unregulated”, and is not likely to calm down unless she drops from sheer exhaustion. Over time this up-and-down process is wearing her thin as she unravels more with each bout.

She has been married for fifteen years and although he is patient with her ups-and-downs, she causes problems; her hyper-quality creates havoc as she moves about the house at record speed with a mile-long to-do list. She lapses into irritability; she is easily frustrated and impatient, and at times becomes caught in obsessive thinking that traps her in spirals as her thoughts take over and she becomes immobilized and confused.

Delia’s style is volatile. The chaotic elements spin her into a depression where life feels meaningless and empty, and her body becomes laden with exhaustion and pain from the extreme tension. Then she might stay in bed, tossing and turning, throughout her day, in a restless stupor.

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May 2020 Reich’s Phallic Character: The Chronic Depressive – The Case of Bob

chronic depressiveLife in Quarantine – the Global Pandemic

We are living and dying in the midst of an historic, once-in-a-century event — a global crisis, the proportions of WWII with stark reminders of the food lines and poverty of the Great Depression. Many of us are facing immediate financial ruin as businesses collapse, and jobs are lost; the anxiety of faltering resources pervade our consciousness.  We read the news and know we are tumbling into a free fall, over the cliff of uncertainty; the unknowable surrounds us, leading to chronic depressive tendencies.

We struggle through a multitude of feelings as they bounce off each other on our own psychic pool table. The early morning might elicit depression: “I will stay in bed, I feel too lethargic to move. I feel like I am sinking, I don’t want to face another day feeling low”; the next moment invites some energy with the thought of an inspired activity: “OK I am going to clean house today, or plant flowers in my garden, I will feel better if I do something, anything productive. I must stay in the moment”.

Mid-morning: “I need to sign in to my remote work as I am lucky to have a job”. Exhaustion sets in from Zooming. “I feel angry and irritable by late afternoon and my mate is getting on my nerves.” “You are too controlling, demanding – please stop and give me some space”. Tempers flare like sizzling fireworks only to fizzle leaving a kind of emptiness and feelings of abandonment. Later a realization emerges: “I could be alone going through this, that might be challenging too. Is it happy hour yet?“ “OK! I feel better, it is time to watch Netflix”. “I better turn off the TV that compels me to watch for hours.” “Time to sleep except I am up at 2:00 tossing and turning for what feels like hours – thoughts of everything crowd my mind. I am sick of staying home; I miss my extended family; I yearn to hug them. I feel a panic in the middle of the night, I have a cough –do I have the virus or is it my allergies?” Sleep deprived I start yet another day in quarantine. “I hope we continue to flatten the curve but the politics of all of this is making me crazy. I am furious at the government’s response – grrrh!” “One positive in all of this is I am perfecting my cooking, eating, cooking, eating, cooking, although it is exhausting – oh if only I could go to a restaurant and eat with others.” The beat of the quarantine goes on.


Many of us can be prone to chronic depression which may have existed all our lives. A few suffer from a biological, endogenous depression that therapy and medication can lift. Many have had significant trauma that has resulted in a lifelong battle with depression. Depression can manifest as lethargy, difficulty finding meaning and purpose, feeling waylaid through various significant periods in a life until the losses accrue, the missed opportunities pile up and strong depressive symptoms weigh us down; insomnia, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness to conquer rather than collapse in the battlefield. We may feel historic loss from early trauma that haunts us; a loneliness that is at the base of our existence.

This blog is about a character type called the Chronic Depressive which is a style that differentiates a situational depression as a character marker, from the tendency to exist in a semi-state of depression.

Bob has suffered depression all his life to varying degrees. He has been successful in his career as an engineer and advanced to managing ten people in a successful start-up.

He is married and has two children, 5 and 8, and enjoys family life, although at times he feels he doesn’t meet the expectations and lacks the energy to sustain all his commitments. He feels guilty with his wife and his kids. He simply can’t do enough and falters, feeling badly about himself. He is not measuring up.

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March –Reich’s Phallic Narcissistic Character: The Case of Mark

Mark, 48 moves aggressively in the world with a swagger. He wants what he wants when he wants it. He is an accomplished VP of sales in a successful start-up. Colleagues gravitate toward him, not for his intrinsic likeability but because he has a glow that they attempt to use to their advantage– he has charisma and is boastfully confident so they need to keep in his good graces. (Frequently some business cultures are based on using others for gain without the cultivation of more meaningful values.)

Mark is an opportunist who positions himself well and strives to maintain a top-dog position. He can charm a room with his blazing smile of perfectly aligned white teeth and trendy yet seemingly careless clothing.

Mark has a wife, two kids, a home in a posh neighborhood; he has all the trappings of ultimate success. He has succeeded because of his strong energy system, drive and discipline. He is heading for a fall, though, as his attitudes of grandiosity and inflation give him a false sense of untouchability, as if he can get away with anything, soaring above the clouds without consequences. However, he recently spread himself too thin by purchasing a vacation home while making poor investments, causing him anxiety, an unusual state for him to experience.

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February –Reich’s Hysterical Character: The case of Melanie

Reich’s Hysterical Character: The case of Melanie

Melanie, 41, is an active, vibrant, heterosexual woman with an abundance of energy coursing through her body. She has had a successful career as an executive and is financially secure. In spite of her career success, she suffers from debilitating anxiety that manifests in compulsive nervous habits, for example, chewing her nails or obsessively twisting her long auburn hair.  Her defensive style of laughing over everything, entertaining with a dramatic flair coupled with a chattery superficiality, leads her down an empty path. She focuses on her appearance and has a seductive flair obvious to those around her to the detriment of developing depth. Melanie over-exercises and is hyper busy; these character patterns are wearing thin internally and with her friends and colleagues. She lacks a central core, is suggestible, and can be easily influenced. She stands out as attractive and charming, yet embodies a sense of frantic frenzy that bubbles beneath the surface.

As she moves into her 40’s, aging issues are surfacing. She is in a transition from the young, driven woman climbing the ladder of success to one that is crossing over to critical junctures that are underdeveloped. She is externalized and has little connection with her interior. Melanie’s character patterns are no longer functional.

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