Excerpt About Repression

Repression and the Defenses of the Ego are Not Just Mental Attitudes

A major necessary part of awareness training is the sensitization of the body. The tendency toward insensitivity needed to support unconsciousness has to be reversed. Repression and the defenses of the ego are not just mental attitudes. They are, more than anything else, tensions and tension patterns in the body. These physical blocks and tensions are what keep emotions and ideas unconscious. This point was emphasized by Wilhelm Reich in his formulation of the concept of character armor and muscular armor. His main insight was that the defensive functions of the character are identical with muscular rigidities in the body: “In character-analytic practice, we discover the armor functioning in the form of a chronic, frozen, muscular-like bearing. First and foremost, the identity of these various functions stands out; they can be comprehended on the basis of one principle only, namely of the armoring of the periphery of the biopsychic system.” Emotions and feelings are primarily sensations, and these are sensations of the body. If the body is insensitive, there will be no awareness of these sensations and hence no awareness of feelings. This will preclude the possibility of understanding. So sensitization of the body is required via the dissolution of muscular armor and its tension patterns.

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