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.
- Biosemiotics: A New Framework for Understanding Medicine
- Examining Character Typologies : The Hysterical Type