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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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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January 2022: The Pandemic Chase

Many of us feel the darkness. The pandemic has been chasing us; absorbing us in its tracks. There is no way to avoid it as it is now endemic; it has become our reality; it is our future.

Yet, we must cherish our lives; increase our creativity and not sacrifice to our fears, that are haunting shadows.

How do we live and find our muse? Let’s continue forward with joy of friendship, and camaraderie, while staying attentive to our health needs.

There is data about advances in vaccines and boosters and we are advised to get boosters. Possibly new pills to ward off the next round will emerge.  Omicron is an epidemic at this moment yet there are clear projections it will wane.

We must realize the new phase of our lives, living with the virus and not fighting against it. Then we can cherish our goals, accomplishments and venture forward to new adventures in our mind and soul.

November 2021: Dreams – Connecting with Your Unconscious Mind

Dream life is perturbing, provocative, at times symbolically cohesive as we enter a settled place of symbolic equanimity.

Dreams give us entry to the mystery of the psyche; we can identify our fears and terrors, unfinished business with friends and family; and take a look into our future landscape, premonitions or glimpses of what may unfold. Dreams are the window into the soul.

Dr. Frisch’s blog from March 2016 explains dreams and how our conscious and unconscious minds connect:

Dreams: Reorient Toward Your Inner Life

Dreaming is a pathway into the mysteries of our psyche. Dreams and dream analysis help us establish an illuminated relationship with our unconscious. Our relationship with our unconscious is important as our unconscious is often in the driver’s seat affecting many aspects of our life – even if we don’t realize it. Our conscious mind may be, at times, in the backseat as our unconscious emotions, drives and impulses take over. Dr. Carl Jung, a brilliant dream expert, teaches us that the unconscious mind is a powerful internal force that must be responded to and respected or it can flood us – resulting in a feeling of being overwhelmed by our own inner thoughts and feelings. When the psyche is not reckoned with, it may express itself through a persistent variety of physical and mental symptoms that we have difficulty understanding. Tuning into our dreams is a way to develop a relationship with our unconscious; to listen carefully to the messages we receive in our dreams.

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October 2021: Last chance to sign up for the new Interactive Book Club, Chapter 3 on Character Analysis!

The new session of the Book Club will start on October 21st, 2021! For more information and to register: Click Here

Here’s some information about Character Analysis from one of Dr. Frisch’s prior Blogs: How Does Character Analysis Differ from Traditional Analysis?

A major difference between these two modalities is that character analysis lives and breathes in the here and now and interacts spiritedly with the blatant defensive style and chronic approach of the client.

We learn basic coping strategies early on that are reinforced throughout our lives.

These strategies are carved into our being both mentally and biophysically and create our interface with others. We unconsciously hone patterns of thought, feeling reaction, and behavior that keep us afloat, but not as the master of our ship. Sometimes those patterns are hurtful both to ourselves and others because they are repeatedly destructive.

To read the entire blog: Click Here

If you are considering joining the Book Club and would like more in-depth information about Character Analysis, here is another of Dr. Frisch’s Blogs: The Art of Character Analysis

Character analysis, as defined by Wilhelm Reich, is an essential component of my method. I often quote Reich as his explanations make vividly clear the nuances of his clinical approach. I picked a selection for you that describes an aspect of character analysis and how it works in practice.

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September 2021: Extreme Weather Coupled with Covid-19 Delta Emergency Creates Adversity in our Fall Season

Coping with Adversity

We are haunted and hunted by weather conditions that defy and deny normalcy; normalcy no longer exists and we are stunned by the immediacy of events. We are thrust into an altered reality that immediately becomes a new norm. We have been warned.

We have been paralyzed in the West by vicious wildfires that devour everything in their paths as dried-out brush and terrain due to ongoing drought create a massive fuel supply.

Nothing and no one are spared. 

We have witnessed catastrophic flash floods in the Northeast, New York, and New Jersey as climate disaster slams our psyches with visceral images. Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on Pennsylvania and Connecticut, leaving death in its wake.

We read about the horrific deaths in NY basement apartments, where individuals were trapped, drowning almost instantly in the rush of water, with a moment of consciousness, as they knew there was no way to escape. Low-income rentals, not up to code and sometimes illegally created, crushed immigrants and others who needed cheap rent.

NY Subways were flooded and became unusable. Power outages became the new norm. Individuals have died in the heat without air conditioning and lack of refrigeration.

How do we not become discouraged and helpless? That is my question. How do we cope with the onslaught of these climate disasters; how do we respond internally?

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