The Psychosomatic Process
Free Flow vs. Blockages
With health, all the biological processes that keep a person healthy flow freely, and unneeded energy can be freely released to avoid symptom formation. Mind and body function seamlessly together. But people block the free movement of health by means of chronic muscle tension and rigid attitudes. Then blockages give rise to physical symptoms and emotional issues.
Chronic muscle tension results in stress ailments such as headaches, TMJ jaw pain, digestive problems, or such. But I’m not a physician. I’m a holistic psychologist, and I’m limiting my focus to mind/body knowledge I use daily in my practice.
Rigid attitudes lead to problems in relationships, work, learning, and basic instincts like self-preservation. People whose thinking is rigid become their own worst enemies. Their perception suffers. They can’t see the world as it is. Their emotions get distorted and then they either hold back everything, or they say or do something that makes things worse. A lot of people end up feeling nothing, but with a nagging sense that there’s more to life and somehow they’re missing out.
A Tight Jaw
Consider a person with a tight jaw. A person’s hardened jaw may contain age-old impulses to bite. Does this seem odd? It’s not uncommon for a disappointed or angry baby to bite before learning to hold back. This learning process leads to armoring.
Armor: Impulse and Defense
Armor begins when impulses flowing outward to the muscles get blocked. The child defends against the unwanted impulse by tensing his or her jaw. At first, it’s a conscious effort, but later with chronic jaw tension, armoring is completely unconscious and becomes permanent.
There’s always an impulse and its defense. Defenses block impulses. The total mind/body defense adds up to emotional armor. Armoring keeps both the impulse and its defense out of the person’s awareness and control. Armor is the common functioning principle underlying mind/body disorders.
It might surprise you, but a blocked impulse stays right there. In our example, the impulse to bite remains bound and forgotten in the growing child’s jaw muscles. Old emotions don’t just go away. They get stored up in ones armor. Eventually, they form the underlying root of adult emotional issues and illness.
Certain somatic symptoms are widely recognized. For example, an armored jaw leads to higher levels of anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, pain from grinding one’s teeth, etc. The person may make mean, biting comments that push others away. The vicious cycle of tension, trouble, and pain is often seen.
The Deeper Disorder: Disturbed Pulsation
The underlying problem is rarely recognized. With blocked energy, a stasis develops. This stasis deadens normal pulsation so that periodic orgastic discharge of excess energy is not possible. Symptoms become worse.
The Psychosomatic Process
Backed up energy is the culprit. Mind/body armoring deprives the living organism of pulsation and circulation, leading to stagnation, lack of orgastic release, and psychosomatic disorders. This is the common situation. What symptoms an individual will suffer depend largely upon the pattern of blockages (armoring) in his or her body. Symptoms usually don’t develop in childhood but later in life when armor can no longer bind enough energy to contain the emotion or impulse. Relieving armor, when possible, allows greater health.
These observations are based on original research and writings by Wilhelm Reich.