General Introduction to the use of Character Typologies within Medical Heilkunst

There are a number of typologies that we utilize in the diagnosis and treatment of a patient.  Elsewhere on this site, we’ve written about some of the typologies that we use, such as the Genotypes (homeopathic constitutions or “personality types”), as well as Dr. D’Adamo’s Blood Type Diet.  This article will serve as an introduction to a series of posts I’m doing on the Character Types, as developed by Dr. Wilhelm Reich, and explored in depth in his book Character Analysis.  In general, Dr. Reich’s work has provided a tremendous foundation and therapeutic orientation for the way we understand and apply medicine, particularly as the majority of our patients are suffering from issues of a complex and chronic nature, where a clear road map to health is needed.  Although Reich’s use of Character Typologies changed quite a bit over the course of his life (and was largely replaced by other understandings and approaches he developed), it still provides us with a valuable insight into a foundational aspect of the human being, and how our energy system is organized in health and disturbed in disease.

This brings up a good point to keep in mind as we explore various aspects of the system of Medical Heilkunst – that there is a clear distinction between how things function in a state of health versus how they function in a state of disease.  That is to say, that health and disease are not merely two opposite ends in a spectrum, but that a qualitative shift is needed to move from one state to the other.  Without such a distinction, health can only be measured in relative or subjective terms, and you can never be certain how a case is actually progressing on this basis.

Reich’s approach with Character Typologies was built around such a sharp distinction between health and disease, and his therapy had a clear map of whether the patient had yet been restored to a state of health or not.  With the understanding of what a healthy character type looked like (what Reich called the ‘Genital Character Type’), there was an objective reference point for how any of the pathological character types differed, and where the main disturbances were rooted in each case.  Any character type (either the healthy ‘Genital Type’, or any of the neurotic types) is defined both in terms of a biological structure (free flow of life energy through the system, contraction or relaxation of the musculature, sexual function operates on a natural basis or not, etc.) and a psychological structure (ability to respond appropriately to various situations and people, connection to inner and outer love function, clear sense of self, or not, etc.).  Any of the neurotic character types exist as some form of defense mechanism which was created during various stages of early childhood development in response to any number of factors, including severe stresses and traumas, as well as the general emotional dynamics in the family, and ability of the parents to allow the natural impulses of the child to be expressed, or not.  Even though the original childhood situation has passed, the defense mechanism of the character structure in the adult is retained, and stands between the patient and therapist as a block towards restoring health.

Reich used the term ‘genital’ as the reference point for this healthy character type, based on the idea of childhood development generally following a descent beginning from the primacy of the ocular function after birth, and completing with the rooting of the life energy into the maturation of the genital function at the time of puberty.  The Genital Character Type (healthy type) is what naturally emerges from a course of childhood development which is not unduly blocked by strong emotional or physical shocks or traumas, and which was allowed by the parents to develop according to natural emotional and sexual impulses.  Generally, parents who are any of the neurotic character types can not allow for their child to follow this natural course of development, and will suppress or repress the course of natural development in one way or another.  Even when the conscious intention is otherwise, the unconscious defensive pattern of the neurotic parent will aim to similarly block the child.  This is why it is often necessary for the parents to undergo treatment while treating a child for a chronic issue.

In studying Reich’s Character Analysis, it is clear from his case examples that it took an intense amount of therapeutic effort to break through the patient’s neurotic character defense.  It was not unusual for his patients to see him 2 or more times per week over the course of many months, before the neurotic character defense could be fully eliminated.  The fact that Reich had to go to so much effort in his process meant that his work provided a very thorough understanding of the energy dynamics in this context, and the road map is now very clear in this area.  Reading through these cases, I’m very thankful for the medical tools that I now have available (homeopathic and homotonic remedies along with understanding of other supportive modalities), which greatly reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to break through this layer.  You could say that a homeopathic remedy, in this sense, is one of the greatest labour-saving devices ever invented.  Not that the need for proper Therapeutic Education of the patient is eliminated, but that so much work can be accomplished in between sessions by the remedies that the patient is taking, and the actual therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient can be much more focused on dealing with the core issues.

In the following posts in this series, I’ll outline in more detail the characteristics of some of the neurotic types, such as the Hysterical Type, and the Passive Feminine Type.

Biosemiotics: A New Framework for Understanding Medicine

Despite numerous accounts of clinical success, homeopathy remains at the periphery of Western medicine. The expressed reason for its marginalization is that it violates accepted principles within the current biochemical paradigm. Through the process of potentization – – serial dilutions of a substance interspersed with vigorous shaking – – homeopathic remedies are often altered beyond the point of there being a single molecule of the original substance left. Subsequently, the claim that remedies (with potencies higher than a 12c or 12x) can have anything more than a placebo effect violates Avagardo’s number, which stipulates that the dilution at which no molecule of the original substance persists is 10 -24. The prevalent result: the efficacy of homeopathy is either discounted a priori as impossible or readily accepted in blind faith, reinforcing the persistent schism between materialism and mysticism.

Both reactions fall short of the ideal Hahnemann upheld when he developed homeopathy as the foundation of rational medicine. He was critical of close-minded dogmatism as much as he abhorred “blind empiricism.” Originally trained as a chemist, Hahnemann recognized that his use of “dynamized” medicine carried the health sciences beyond the explanatory force of chemistry. Rather than discount his findings or discredit the laws of chemistry, however, he focused his criticism on the over-extension of chemistry, which he found to have “taken upon itself to disclose a source at which the general therapeutic properties of drugs are to be ascertained.”[i] Delimiting the explanatory force of chemistry, he stressed that it may help find the medicinal powers of substances, but it cannot reveal anything about its functions in the human body, which is of a living nature.[ii] He recognized that, as a method originally developed to study inorganic material, chemistry was necessarily limited in its capacity to illuminate living processes.

Recently, a new field has developed in the life sciences, which reinforces Hahnemann’s delineation of chemistry, called biosemiotics. One of its central tenets is that living entities do not interact like mechanical bodies, but rather as messages. That is, living systems always exhibit certain organizational characteristics, which enable them to react to differences in their surroundings, and thus to “create” and exchange information. Without this basic difference between life and non-life, evolution as we understand it, would not be possible. In light of this observation, biosemioticians employ methods that follow the model of semiotics – – the study of signs, symbols, and their interpretation- – rather than applying the chemistry and physics of lifeless matter to processes created by life.

As the science of signs in living systems, biosemiotics invites the medical community to reconsider the physicalist terms in which biomedical researchers have traditionally explained the efficacy of medicine. If we endeavor to not only observe (with statistical precision) but to also understand the ways in which medicine informs the operation of the living organisms with which it interacts, then our explanations must extend beyond the physical laws operative in medicine to the information they introduce to living organisms. Within the biosemiotic framework we can legitimately question whether potentized medicines alter the health of organisms by locally controlling the physical laws according to which a diseased body is operating, a consideration that brings us beyond the limitations of physical discourse and into the domain of language.

[i] Samuel Hahnemann, Lesser Writings, ed. and trans. R.E Dudgeon, (New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers Ltd., 2006), 114.

[ii] Ibid., 115.

Using the typologies of nature to find our way through health and disease

One of our newsletter subscribers recently asked me a question about whether there is a correlation between the Genotypes (personality types), and the blood types.  Here is part of the answer I sent:

That’s a great question!  In the case of the blood types, and the genotypes, there are no apparent correlations, but who knows what a carefully organized research project could reveal about a more general pattern of correlation.

Heilkunst medicine works as well as it does, because it works though the correct application of corrective therapeutics applied at the right time to various dimensions of typologies of health and disease that we’re all made up of.  If nature herself did not work on the basis of typology, then it would not be possible to have any system of medicine, as each individual would be a completely unique phenomenon governed by laws uniquely their own.

Personally, I have always been drawn to various typology systems, and is partly what brought me to Heilkunst medicine, which treats at a variety of levels of typology, such as:
•    Blood type diet (D’Adamo)
•    Glandular type diet (Abravanel)
•    Metabolic type diet (Walcott)
•    Genotype (healthy constitution)
•    Phenotype (highly stressed constitutional states)
•    Character typologies (Dr. Wilhelm Reich)
•    Jurisdictions of disease causation:

  • Homogenic (specific physical or emotional trauma)
  • Pathogenic (includes both acute miasms such as measles, and chronic miasms, such as tuberculosis)
  • Iatrogenic (disease caused by doctor’s error)
  • Ideogenic (disease caused by belief)
  • Geogenic (disease caused by natural phenomenon, such as magnetic lines of the earth)

•    Temperaments (Ancient system of “earth, air, water, and fire” giving rise to Phlegmatic, Sanguine, Melancholic and Choleric personality types)
•    etc.