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taken from  GOOD THERAPY

Alexander Lowen's work was influenced by that of his mentor, Reich, and the personality theory they developed together. This theory was grounded in Reich's concept of character armor—the psychological defenses, constructs, and physical manifestations that make up a person's character.


Lowen described these character structures as a systems of defenses used for survival and security. These defenses, which develop over time, can manifest into psychological symptoms, chronic muscle tension, and other patterns of physical and emotional distress. From his observations of how these defense systems manifest, Lowen identified five basic character structures loosely based upon Freud's developmental stages. These classifications are not individual classifications of people, but of character structures only. 

  • RIGID -  Sometimes referred to as The Perfectionist, the Rigid character type might have experienced intense rejection from a caretaker at a point in their childhood when they were most vulnerable. In response, they may reject their own nature and strive for unattainable ideals in order to satisfy the rejecting caretaker. Attractiveness, athleticism, and intelligence are of primary importance to The Perfectionist. Impeccable grooming, issues with anxiety low self-esteem, black-and-white thinking, sex issues, and a suppressed immune system are all common in this character type. 

  • MASOCHISTIC -  Also called The Endurer, the Masochistic type might have dealt with a controlling or needy parent from an early age. Crushed attempts toward independence may result in a docile, compliant child. Rage suppression, dependency, and powerlessness can result in self-defeating and self-humiliating behavior. Thick musculature, stomach blockage, tight facial muscles, and slow movements are common in this character type.  

  • PSYCHOPATHIC - Also known as The Controller or The Leader, the Psychopathic character type could have experienced constant criticism from direct caretakers. In order to cope, this character type may lead people to develop a false self to avoid rejection. This false self can manifest as narcissistic traits, but low self-esteem typically lies under the surface.  Additionally, this character type often learns to control the critical parent to protect from further abuse, and this can result in a tendency toward manipulative behavior. Puffed-up appearance, muscle rigidity in the pelvic region, and tightened, raised shoulders are common with this character type.  

  • SCHZOID - Sometimes referred to as The Unwanted Child or The Dreamer, the Schizoid type most likely experienced real or perceived rejection and hostility from caretakers, even while still in the womb. Neglect, undernourishment, or abuse may have impacted this child on a molecular level.  Poor posture, shallow breathing, chest tightness, and low energy affect are common in this character type.

  • ORAL -  Also referred to as The Needy Child, the Oral type often experienced some interruption of care, loss of sense of security, or failure to have basic needs met. This character type seem empty or in need of “filling up," and some may take on overwhelming caretaker duties or develop addictions. Shallow breathing, chest tightness, thin build, weakness in limbs, and chronic tightening of the abdomen are common in this character type.

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