Examining Character Typologies : The Hysterical Type

Following on from my last post on the various typologies we draw on in Medical Heilkunst, this post is a brief description of one particular character type, called the ‘hysterical type’, or ‘hysterical character type’.  The Character Types were most clearly developed in a therapeutic context by Dr. Wilhelm Reich, and provide one of the cornerstones we draw on to map the shortest route from illness to health for each patient.  A person’s character structure is a type of ‘force field’ which shapes the flow and function of their life energy, and is visible in terms of certain characteristic behaviours and typical situational reactions, as well as some of the physical symptomology suffered.

This ‘force field’ originates in a mix of shocks, traumas, and other blockages to the life energy during early childhood development, and remains in adult years even when the precipitating situations are no longer a real factor in the person’s life.  By their nature, the defensive patters of the character structure operate in an automatic, unconscious manner (the autonomic ‘reflex’ system in the body), and the first challenge in treatment is to raise the patient’s self-awareness of these patterns sufficiently, which involves going through the most defensive aspects of their ego structure.  There are a variety of ways such a structure is retained in the organism, including chronic contraction of the musculature and insufficient breathing habits (biological armoring) along with rigidified beliefs and perceptions about the world (psychological armoring).  All that to say, that there can be a tremendous amount of built-in resistance encountered in attempting to uproot and overturn these patterns, and at times might feel like a “life and death” battle between the patient and practitioner.

The basic structure of the hysterical type has attained a relative degree of health in terms of the stages of natural development of the child, and has been mostly rooted in ‘genitality’ (the natural conclusion of all the healthy fevers of childhood being transformed and rooted in the emerging sexual energy of puberty); however, rather than a fully healthy expression of the ‘genital character’ type, the hysterical type is also built on a permanent form of anxiety, around which the basic behaviours and reactions are built.

The hysterical type simultaneously has a drive towards healthy sexual expression, and yet a deep anxiety and avoidance of the same.  This makes for a characteristically flirtatious attitude, which then turns to withdrawal, or even blatant attacking of others in order to calm the resulting anxiety.  This seemingly contradictory conduct is best understood by seeing that the hysterical type uses flirtatiousness as a way to assess a person or situation for danger, which makes sense in the context of the character structure, but not from the point of view of healthy behaviour.  Unlike other character structures, there is a fair bit of healthy, ‘lively’ energy of the hysterical type, however it tends more towards a restless or fidgety nature.

The main goal in treatment of the hysterical type is to raise the patient’s self-awareness about the nature and origin of their current way of being, while also finding a way to “corner” them, in the sense of confronting their core defense without allowing them any way to ‘escape’ or ‘run’ from this moment of realization (which would be their normal tendency).  Much of this therapeutic structure can be set up by a correct sequence of homeopathic and homotonic remedies, along with other supportive modalities, which sets up for a much easier moment of resolution between the patient and practitioner.

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