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The Schizoid Disorder of the Self

I threatened in my December post that I would continue my descriptions of character types, so I will delineate one more. That way, for February, I can assign a task for my readers to figure out their type – one that best describes their dominant propensities. You don’t have to exhibit every variable of a specific character, but more than not you exemplify many or most of the traits. This is a fun exercise for couples and educates you on the dynamics at play within the couple as the two types interact, creating their unique family ‘system’.

The Schizoid is most notably an isolated, self-sufficient type. His relationship situation can vary on a spectrum from having relations with family and friends to one that lacks any social contact. The Schizoid is introverted and more comfortable with solitary activities. He spends his mental time with an active fantasy life as a substitute for contact. He appears detached and unemotional about most of his personal issues and can seem cold and disinterested. Beneath this appearance, the Schizoid is sensitive and has deep longing to belong but may not appear that way on the surface. He has suffered pain in his life and therefore is frightened to move too close and get hurt again. So he may appear aloof.

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The Schizophrenic Character

In our daily interactions with intimate others we look into their eyes and may feel responsiveness, a steadiness and presence in their eyes as they look at us. We have a sense that we are in ‘eye contact.’ Yet for most of us there are limitations in our ability to make satisfying eye contact. If we extend our circle out from intimates we might notice how difficult it is for people to look with a steady gaze or to have clear eyes that are readable. Some ocular holding is common, meaning that our eyes, including our ability to see clearly, perceive reality, sense reality through our physical sensations, tolerate eye contact from others and come forward through one’s eyes, have been compromised. We count on the integration of the ocular segment with our other capacities of sensing, perceiving, feeling and thinking to give us a clear grasp of reality.

Reich stated that a serious eye block starts in the first ten days of life. He was referring to the mother-infant dyad and how the eye contact evolved between the two. Did the infant look into warm eyes that enveloped with safety or was the caretaker distressed, distracted or expressing meanness in his eyes? The absence of early attachment synchrony is a factor in the development of an ocular block.

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Character Analytic Couple’s Therapy

My blog has often focused on character types and I am sure many of you have recognized aspects of these types in yourself and others you know. Those of you residing in couple hood may recognize characteristics in your mate as well. Or, maybe you don’t recognize your own character flaws, but recognize your mate’s problems with greater ease. That happens too; it is easier to see and be critical of our mate than look at our own contribution to the problems. It is quite challenging to live with another person day in and day out, as we are confronted with our own discomfort, disappointment, and even despair, and become chronically annoyed, irritable and resentful. We grapple with wanting things to be other than they are and that is the human condition. “If only he (or she) was like this or like that I would feel better.” And sometimes that is true too. Yet the comforts of companionship, familiarity, and shared experiences over time are intrinsically so valuable that it helps us get through obstacles that at times seem insurmountable. The longing to be bonded with another is a primitive need as we are basically social animals. That said, couples do struggle and reach boiling points when they can’t get back or forward to a stable place of harmony and safety with each other. It is at those times that a therapist can help illuminate, clarify, clear the logjam and help create permanent ways out.

There are various approaches to couple’s therapy. This post will discuss character analytic couple therapy, which clarifies how life-long character patterns create difficulty in relationship. As each character type engages from its chronic defensive positions, a couple’s dynamic is created. So understanding each character’s propensities helps a couple to understand their dynamics – as a couple’s ’system‘ has a life of its own.

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Reich’s Character Types: Phallic Character Types & the Manic Depressive Character

This post continues our discussion of Phallic Character types. In our last post, we described the Chronic Depressive Character , a phallic type distinguished by repression in the oral segment. The Manic Depressive also has an oral block, but it is the unsatisfied type. Please refer to my post on the oral segment as it discusses the oral repressed and unsatisfied types that color all the major characters.

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Reich’s Phallic Character Types & the Chronic Depressive Character

This post continues our discussion of Phallic Character Types. In my last post, we visited the Narcissistic Character who heads up the Phallic Character Types. As we discuss these types further, I will delineate various blocks that color the basic Phallic Type.

The Chronic Depressive is a Phallic Type but, due to holding-repression in the oral segment, namely the mouth and jaw, (see post on the Oral Segment) this Phallic type suffers from depression. He has all the basic features of the Phallic but, because the block is predominantly in the oral segment, his energetic movement and expression is clamped down resulting in depression. Reich stated that this diagnosis is predominantly male, though I have seen this character type in females as well.

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Reich’s Character Types: Phallic Character Types & the Narcissistic Character

 

Reich divided his types into Categories: Genital, Phallic, Anal, Oral and Ocular Types. These are correlated with developmental phases of growth, affecting the character and their biophysical/energetic progression. If an individual does not sustain the Phallic level, he or she may drop back to a Pregenital level (an earlier level of development) because those fixations or blockages dominate the picture. I will be covering the Pregential characters according to Reich and Object Relations in future posts. For the next few posts, I will be discussing Phallic Character Types, the first one being the Narcissistic Character Type.

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Reich’s Character Types: The Hysterical Character

This post continues our discussion of Wilhelm Reich’s schema of character types. 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.

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Reich’s Character Types & The Genital Character

 

This post will begin my series on Reich’s Character Types. 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.

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