Ramblings – Interpersonal Neurobiology & Affirmations

Interpersonal Neurobiology.  This is a pairing of words that always gets my attention.  Some days it makes me feel inadequate because I haven’t chosen this as a field of study, per se.  Some days I feel sad because I want to have the title Interpersonal Neurobiologist, and I don’t.  But today it just makes me sit in wonder, pure awe of the universe we live in, and the things we get to do here.  

I guess I could say that I know a fair amount about interpersonal dynamics.  I could say, also, that I have made a decent attempt to inform myself about the nervous system and how the nervous systems of individuals respond to other nervous systems, and how we come into our lives here on earth with nervous systems that aren’t fully developed, and we need the nervous systems of other people, particularly our mothers, in order to develop and properly grow and mature.  I can unarguably claim over half a century of experience trying to figure out how to regulate my own nervous system, and have actually had some success in the past decade or so.  And now, from a place where I have some agency and confidence around my ability to calm my own nervous system, I am discovering that I am excited about getting even better at it.  And excited, also, that this can only be done with the help of and in the company of other people.  I can honestly say that this–at this particular moment–terrifies me almost as much as it thrills me.  I know this because of a nightmare that woke me up this morning.  I come back to that later. 

But whether it is a community potluck, a group of people sitting around a bonfire, an online class, group therapy, a 12-Step Group, or Thanksgiving Dinner at Grandma’s, people can come together and actually be better off from having done so.  Am I the only one feeling the profound potential here?  Because if I’m honest, tapping into and using this potential has not worked well for me in too many contexts in the past, and since that has only relatively recently changed for me, I want to compare notes with those of you who are still reaching and yearning and working for rich and deep and satisfying and inspiring and gorgeous and transformative interactions with other humans as the new normal.  

As I survey what I see as our dominant society and culture, as humans in the 21st Century, we have created, on the grandest scale, groups, systems, institutions and organizations that at best are failing to produce what we most need in the world today and at worst represent all of the things we loathe and wish with all our hearts to avoid. Yes, there are good things happening, but I am not willing to dismiss this overarching state of affairs right now.  Families too often fail to protect and nurture their children, churches intentionally terrify and bewilder us and extract our resources, governing bodies fail to come together to represent or serve our best interests.  And I don’t even begin to have words to talk about our economy.  Resources, time, money and life force energy is being wasted in all the ways.  We try, like swashbucklers, to make these groups and organizations work for us, to do our part; to do the right thing.  But in the end, maybe the only way to maintain our sanity is to accept that we can’t and never will be able to make these groups work for us.  And to accept that it’s actually okay, because we can get what we want and need (and have a whole lot of fun while we’re at it) anyway.  (I do realize that there are people out there whose truth it is to work in institutions, and my hat’s off to you.  I don’t diminish the value of what you are doing.  It’s just clearly not my gig.)

What if it’s true that there is absolutely nothing stopping us from convening and collaborating our intentions and energies in a different way? What if we can count on ourselves and our own senses to know what we desire, so that we can join forces and explore and create and play?  And what if organizing with safe others for creative play is actually the solution to all our problems?  That is the realm in which my interests lie at the moment.

As I push myself to do things outside of the familiar; outside of my personal comfort zone, I am benefiting in so many ways.  In preparation for our next Family Constellations Circle, I can identify, name and use my fears, my emotions, my worries, to build reassurances and encouragements and positive statements to use for myself to help me calm my nervous system (because Toni, who do you think you are to be doing something so bold and outside the box? is notably not calming my nervous system).  

Spoiler Alert: this post ends with the list of affirmations I plan to use for the next couple weeks.  Feel free to use those affirmations that have meaning for you, and use any others as seed ideas to build your own affirmations if that helps you to reassure your vulnerable inner children.

I’m pretty sure my angels and guides woke me up this morning with a dream and a realization that I need to double down on identifying and removing hidden obstacles to speaking from my heart in real time.  Because this is the reason being in groups has not worked for me in the past.

My work now is to use my dream material to help me notice and name, one by one, the things that may keep me from speaking freely from my heart in real time.  See if any of these resonate for you too.

  1. Shame about being so caught up in my own anxiety and stress that I can’t receive information from my senses about what’s happening in the moment. Disappointment in myself for not performing up to my own standards or as well as someone else who I’m sure could do it better.  Shame for not being in control of my own body/nervous system.
  2. Fear of being blindsided by a trigger reflex, which shuts down the ability to enjoy connecting with others. Fear of missing the juiciest and sweetest parts because I’m so fixated on something that “should” be and isn’t, or getting it perfect.
  3. Fear of having to pretend to be completely present, calm and relaxed, while actually feeling a bit stunned and not sure I can connect to the words I need to express what I want to express and to accomplish my goals.  Shame because I’m not feeling the calm and relaxed and grounded state I’m asking my group to feel.  Fear that I won’t have what I need when I need it.  Fear that I am inadequate, a fraud.  Fear that what I have to offer (me being me, with my ideas, my contribution, my emotions, my processes and needs) is not of value.
  4. Fear of inadequately or incompletely expressing the breadth and depth of myself, my knowledge and lived experience.  Being misunderstood.  Fear of selling myself short, fear of disappointing people, of not delivering what others want and need.  Fear that I can’t trust myself and my instincts.
  5. Fear of not having the integration I need to express myself in an engaging way when I want to.  Fear of not being healed enough or skilled enough or capable enough or worthy of attention and trust.
  6. (and get this) Fear of actually getting what I’m asking for; of truly succeeding.  Fear that if I succeed, I won’t be able to handle the big feelings and issues and problems that come with that.
  7. Chronic, unconscious muscular tension.  Unconsciously clenching muscles.  In the body in general, including but not limited to the physiological avenue of expression.  Chronic, unconscious tension in the body restricts the free flow of information from the body to the brain and vice versa.  I suspect that I have yet-to-be-identified muscular tension that keeps me from expressing emotions as they come up and advocating for myself, especially in circumstances where I feel I might be out of line somehow, or going against dominant paradigms (which is just asking for bad things to happen, right?)  Women can’t be openly powerful or successful (without paying for it).  It’s not safe to be powerful.  It’s not safe to openly be a channel for the divine.  

And at the bottom of all of that I notice a subtle but very primal fear of being cast out, being rejected, being dismissed, being exiled, or otherwise paying the price.


  • I’ve actually been experimenting with bringing more consciousness to my desires and actively manifesting more of what I desire in my life.  
  • The results I’m getting are practically immediate, mostly delightful, new and surprising, and I am learning about myself as I go along.  
  • I get to make adjustments when unexpected things crop up and I become aware of needs I didn’t know about before.  
  • I am capable of learning from my experiences.  
  • I’m actually not too bad at this.
  • It is my responsibility to value and honor myself by building in spaciousness and care and attunement around any group offering I decide to make (risks I take in new areas of my life, around tender new skills I am just developing).  
  • I accept that responsibility and make self care a priority, fully realizing that I will perform better and feel better about my performance if I am better prepared, physically, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically.  
  • I have all the support and guidance I need to adequately prepare for these events.  
  • The fact that I can imagine how it feels when I can relax and draw on my experience and knowledge to hold the space well (help my group members feel comfortable and prepared to participate in a group that goes the way I want it to go, and benefits all who attend) tells me that I am capable.  
  • I can accept myself exactly as I am as I strengthen my skills.  
  • I am worthy of consideration, kindness and patience as I learn and grow.  
  • I do not have to be perfect.
  • When I get clear on what I want and need and articulate it, my needs are met as if by magic.  
  • My feelings help me know what I want and need.   
  • I know something about emotions and nervous systems, and I can trust myself to come up with the words I need to adequately express myself.
  • This is not a competition.
  • I don’t need to compare myself with anyone else.
  • I can just be me.
  • I am good enough.
  • I’m not asking too much of myself.  
  • I do this with every client, reliably.  
  • The only thing is I am increasing the number of people I’m doing it with at one time.
  • I’m in this for the long haul.  
  • I am committed to learning how to care for myself well.
  • I am gaining more and more confidence in my ability to stay emotionally regulated and present in any group space, especially those that I call and facilitate.  

My responsibility is to hold the container knowing that I can respond appropriately, and guide the process.

  • I trust that I am adequately supported to do this, and that it is mine to do.
  • I give myself grace, knowing that I am human, and I will probably not do it perfectly, but that it will be okay.
  • Participants will be able to give me feedback that I can digest and integrate as appropriate.

What makes this risk worthwhile to me, is that in larger groups, we can accomplish extravagant healings in the context of the constellations, while learning even more about family systems and how they work, and how we’re more connected and alike than we ever knew.  And we can actually participate in and support the healing of the others in the group in ways we never imagined were possible–all while bringing that same healing to ourselves.  All of us benefit, and the effects ripple outward into our communities and the world.

Gleanings from the Dream

  • I’m pushing up against my comfort edge, learning something new.  
  • In the role of teacher/facilitator, my responsibility is to the class, ensuring safety, and making sure people have my calm and compassionate presence.  
  • This is not particularly new.  What is new is being recognized for it, asking for and receiving support for it, and getting paid for it.  
  • Neuropathways in my brain are being built, but many of the most essential ones are not even approaching finished.  
  • This could take some time.  
  • I need to pay attention to my habit of scrambling to fulfill my responsibilities to others.  I can relax and trust that all is as it should be.  I am not alone.  
  • I’m noticing that I have been efforting quite a bit, failing to recognize and honor the stage of development that I’m at.  There is risk in forcing things to happen before their time.  
  • Ultimately I have to surrender and accept that the way I need to go (the long and slow way around), while it seems cumbersome and inefficient, it is way more effective and efficient in the long run.  From where I currently stand, it is apparently the only way, and all I can do is accept that and work with it. 
  • Pay attention to the process.  There are profoundly beautiful and unexpected scenes along the way, not just at the end.
  • I am definitely not on my own.
  • I can always count on my wise, creative self who is always working behind the scenes to help me problem solve, and connect with other very capable and state-of-the-art supports so I can regroup and return to my creative goals and responsibilities.

Difficult Women – Book Review

Roxane Gay’s title, Difficult Women, speaks to any woman who has felt difficult to love.  I had long since owned that title and studied the qualities that made me “difficult” in relationships.  I had searched tirelessly to identify the conditions to which I might attribute this unfortunate state of affairs.  So when my sister, the day before her wedding, gifted me this book and began to explain her intention, maybe for fear that I would feel labeled or defensive, I waved her off.  Thank you!  I told her.  I love it already.  Gay’s writing pulled me in from the very first paragraph.  Her voice captures all the ways women might be considered difficult in intimate relationships yet at the same time looks deeper at who they are and why.  We come out of this reading experience so much richer for having explored these stories with her.  They are fiction – products of Gay’s imagination.  But for me, each is a window into a rich and ornate chamber of its author’s mind.  This book leaves me so much richer, with a stronger sense of how a woman might be loved well, even if temporarily.  It leaves me with a broader vision of how a woman can allow her difficult self to be loved and why that might add value to her life.  It leaves me with a clearer personal understanding of the complexity of myself, love and relationship and the natural grit and beauty of coupling in its infinite forms.

And I feel a little less difficult after having read this book.


Other books by Roxane Gay I plan to read:

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

An Untamed State

Bad Feminist


& several comic books in Marvel’s Black Panther: World of Wakanda series


“I vigorously encourage women and people of color to be ambitious, to want and work for every damn thing they can dream of. We’re allowed to want, nakedly, as long as we’re willing to put in the proverbial work….I am ambitious because I love what I do, not simply for ambition’s sake. Ambition is what allows me to take creative risks and try things I never thought I could do. Ambition makes me a better thinker and writer. Ambition makes me.”                       — Roxane Gay

Bioenergetics – Bodymind Pioneer, Alexander Lowen

Lowen, Alexander. Bioenegetics: The Revolutionary Therapy that Uses the Language of the Body to Heal the Problems of the Mind. New York: Penguin Books, 1975.

This book amazed me from beginning to end.  There is just so much richness in what Alexander Lowen leaves as a legacy for our continued work in the field of holistic health.  Born in 1910, and living a very productive life almost until his death at age 97, Dr. Lowen followed in the footsteps of the famed Wilhelm Reich, who influenced many in his day and whose work continues to represent the foundations of the mind-body connection in the realm of psychology.

I will highlight some of the most compelling parts of Bioenergetics below, and include some quotes to help illustrate the areas of thought that most intrigued me as I prepare to launch my book: Being In My Body: What You Might Not Have Known About Trauma, Dissociation and The Brain.  I also include a collection of exercises that employ the body’s involuntary aspect that I adapted from Bioenergetics that you may want to experiment with here: Bioenergetics Exercises

Like Wilhelm Reich, Alexander Lowen saw the first step in any therapeutic procedure as 1) getting the patient to breathe easily and deeply and 2) to mobilize whatever emotional expression was most evident in the patient’s face or manner.

It is intuitively known that the body tells us so much about the person inhabiting it, but the writers who have been able to capture this relationship rarely do so in such a thorough, elegant and informed way.

Freedom is the absence of inner restraint to the flow of feeling, grace is the expression of this flow in movement, while beauty is a manifestation of the inner harmony such a flow engenders.  They denote a healthy body and also, therefore, a healthy mind. (pg 44)

Below I include a few more excerpts regarding the ways we communicate with others without even knowing it.  I appreciate the wisdom and the knowledge that come from Lowen’s medical background. “Our first impressions of people are body responses which we tend eventually to ignore as we focus on their words and deeds.  Words and actions are to a large extent subject to voluntary control,” he says.  “They can be used to convey impressions that contradict the expression of the body.”  We might get an impression when we first meet someone, for instance, that they are fearful or anxious.  Over time, we pay more attention to their words, and don’t pay as much attention to the way their body expresses its story of anxiety and fear.

The other person may not feel afraid despite his expression of fear.  If he doesn’t, it means he is out of touch with the expression of his body.  That generally happens when an attitude is of long standing and has become structured in the body.  Chronic holding or tension patterns lose their effective or energetic charge and are removed from consciousness.  They are not perceived or experienced.  The body attitude becomes “second nature” to the person, at which point we say that it is part of his character.

Over the lifetime of the individual, the importance of being aware of the body and its wisdom cannot be underestimated, Lowen says.  “A person must also keep in touch, and that means a commitment to the life of the body.”

The self cannot be divorced from the body, and self-awareness cannot be separated from body awareness.  For me, at least, the way of growth is by being in touch with my body and understanding its language. (pg 117)

Lowen, like Reich, had a lot to say about pleasure, and the importance and impact of pleasure on the human organism.  So much negative energy still lurks in our subconscious from our culture’s roots in Calvinism, harking back to messages from our churches about the evils of hedonism so that it is almost taboo to bring it up in scholarly or “respectable” circles.  Finding such a comprehensive work like this from back in 1975, an informed person might wonder why the concept of pleasure is not more integrated into our modern healing modalities.  I have lots of ideas about this, but that may have to wait for another blog post.  In the meantime, we might just say, using Lowen’s words: “People come to therapy with various complaints: depression, anxiety, a feeling of inadequacy, a sense of failure, etc.  But behind each complaint is a lack of joy and satisfaction in living.”

Alexander Lowen believed that the restrictions in our bodies keep us from moving the way we were designed to move and that this lack of movement keeps us from experiencing anywhere near the full extent of pleasure that we are capable of experiencing–not in the sense of having ultimate experiences or in owning more symbols of material wealth, but simply in the everyday sensory experience we can potentially have of being alive and interacting with those around us.

I love that Lowen includes self-expression as an important source of satisfaction and pleasure.  Maybe that is why the arts have always been so important.  But self-expression is so much more than the arts.  Lowen says that it is connected to our mental and physical health.  “No living organism is a machine,” he says,

Its basic activities are not performed mechanically but are expressions of its being.  A person expresses himself in his actions and movements, and when his self-expression is free and appropriate to the reality of the situation, he experiences a sense of satisfaction and pleasure from the discharge of his energy.  This pleasure and satisfaction in turn stimulate the organism to increased metabolic activity, which is immediately reflected in deeper and fuller breathing.  With pleasure the rhythmic and involuntary activities of life function at an optimal level.

Our experience of pleasure also shapes our interpersonal relationships.  “Every muscular tension blocks the individual’s reaching out directly to the world for pleasure,” Lowen says.  “Faced with such restrictions, the ego will manipulate the environment in furtherance of the body’s need for contact and pleasure.” (pg 145)

When we are parenting our children, it is important to remember the importance of self-expression.  Not that children should be allowed to always have their way, or to be disrespectful, but that they need avenues, permission and often support to help them learn how to express themselves.  This has implications in the proper passage through the normal stages of child development.  Lowen says, “Pleasure and satisfaction are, as I have said, the immediate experience of self-expressive activities.  Limit a person’s right to express himself, and you limit his opportunities for pleasure and creative living.”

Supporting a child in learning to express him or herself also facilitates the development of healthy narcissism, without which the individual can grow up to be very manipulative and indirect about getting his or her needs met.  In fact, this lack of support and often a concomitant discouragement of the child’s expression of emotion is an important part of what compels a child to learn to dissociate and disconnect from his or her felt sense.  Lowen says, “There is an inadequate sense of self because of a lack of identification with the body.  The person doesn’t feel connected or integrated.” (pg 154)  Here are some more snippets from Bioenergetics of what Lowen had to say about dissociated feelings from childhood, and coping strategies individuals use when they experience early relational trauma.

Given this history, the child had no choice but to dissociate himself from reality (intense fantasy life) and from his body (abstract intelligence) in order to survive.  Since the dominant feelings were terror and murderous fury, the child walled off all feeling in self defense.

an inner feeling of needing to be held, supported and taken care of.

  …these traits are masked by consciously adopted compensatory attitudes.

an exaggerated independence which, however, fails to hold up under stess.

The denial of feeling is basically a denial of need.  The psychopathic maneuver is to make others need him so that he doesn’t have to express his need.  Thus he is always one up on the world. (pg 161)

My training in CranioSacral Therapy (CST) first introduced me to the idea of opening up the avenues of expression (in the throat and jaw), which suggests to me that John Upledger, DO was likely influenced by the work of Wilhelm Reich.  For those of you trained in or familiar with CST, here is a quote you will likely appreciate: “The avenues of self-expression through movement, the voice and the eyes must be opened up, so a greater energy discharge can occur.”  CST is one effective therapy for treating early relational trauma resulting from the denial of self-expression in childhood.

Here is how Alexander Lowen describes successful therapy.  Notice the importance he places on connecting present-day experiences with life history, and how he describes the energy effects of successful treatment.  With its emphasis on breathing, feeling and movement, it is closely related to today’s idea of mindfulness:

…the emphasis is always on breathing, feeling and movement, coupled with the attempt to relate the present-day energetic functioning of the individual to his life historyThis combined approach slowly uncovers the inner forces (conflicts) that prevent a person from functioning at his full energetic potential.  Each time one of these inner conflicts is resolved, the person’s  energy level increases.  This means he takes in more energy and discharges more in creative activities that are pleasurable and satisfying.

In the process of writing Being In My Body, I became much more aware of my infant rage and my 14-year-old rancor and disdain.  It’s almost as if the creative process of writing this book gave me a forum in which to voice these feelings, and explore the reasons for them, and the process itself allowed me to bring them to consciousness.  As with any creative endeavor, it is an example of self-expression.  The process has compelled me to reconnect with my babyhood, and hopefully open myself to the experience of greater and more satisfying interpersonal closeness.  Also from this vantage point I am beginning to see the ways I protected myself from such closeness in the past.  The message in this passage spoke to me.

The desire for an intimate closeness underlies all feelings of love.  The individual who is in touch with the baby he was which is still part of him, knows the feeling of love.  He is also in touch with his heart.  To the degree that one is cut off from his heart or his babyhood he is blocked from experiencing the fullness of love.

In the following quote, Lowen explains the reasons we must work with the entire person, including the parts that may have become fragmented in response to various early relational traumas.  He says that a healthy adult “is a person who is aware of the consequences of his behavior and assumes responsibility for them.”  However, he says,

if he loses touch with the feelings of love and closeness he knew as a baby, with the creative imagination of the child, with the playfulness and joy of his boyhood and with the spirit of adventure and sense of romance that marked his youth, he will be a sterile, hidebound and rigid person.  A healthy adult is a baby, a child, a boy or girl and a youth.  His sense of reality and responsibility includes the need and desire for closeness and love, the ability to be creative, the freedom to be joyful, and the spirit to be adventurous.  He is an integrated and fully conscious human being. (pg 60)

I am still very much processing what Lowen has to say about repressed emotions, and the pleasure of connected love.

“Knowledge becomes understanding when it is coupled with feeling.”

If a person is not mindful of his body, it is because he is afraid to perceive or sense his feelings.  When feelings have a threatening quality, they are generally suppressed.  This is done by developing chronic muscular tensions that do not allow any flow of excitation or spontaneous movement to develop in the relevant areas.  People often suppress their fear because it has a paralyzing effect, their rage because it is too dangerous, and their despair because it is too discouraging.  They will also suppress their awareness of pain, such as the pain of an unfulfilled longing, because they cannot support that pain.  The suppression of feeling diminishes the state of excitation in the body and decreases the ability of the mind to focus.  It is the prime cause for the loss of mind power.  Mostly our minds are preoccupied with the need to be in control at the expense of being and feeling more alive.

I have defined love as the anticipation of pleasurePsychologically, it involves a surrender of the ego to the loved object, who becomes more important to the self than the ego.  But the surrender of the ego involves a descent of feeling in the body, a downward flow of excitation into the deep abdomen and pelvis. This downward flow produces delicious steaming and melting sensations.  One literally melts with love.  The same lovely sensations occur when one’s sexual excitement is very strong and not limited to the genital area.  They precede every full orgastic release. (pg 223)

The result of successful body-mind therapy leaves a client feeling more integrated.  That is, parts that were cut off from one another have reconnected.  Obviously, I include EMDR  and CranioSacral Therapy among effective body-mind, re-integrating therapies.  Here is how Lowen describes such integration.

Releasing [blocks] by using both a physical and a psychological approach makes people begin to feel “connected.”  That is their word.  Head, heart and genitals, or thinking, feeling and sex are no longer separate parts or separate functions.  Sex becomes more and more an expression of love with a correspondingly greater pleasure. (pg 88)

I particularly like what Lowen says about clients and touch.  Though he had very strict boundaries about professionalism and sexual relations between therapist and client, he felt that touch was a very important part of therapy. “It is incumbent on a therapist, therefore, to show he is not afraid to touch or be in touch with his patient.”

What Lowen says about our energetic connection with the earth, through our feet, is the same message one gets when studying the Chinese healing arts and martial arts.

…the legs, which are our mobile roots.  Just like the roots of a tree, our legs and feet interact energetically with the ground.

the more a person can feel his contact with the ground, the more he can hold his ground, the more charge he can tolerate and the more feeling he can handle.  This makes grounding a prime objective in bioenergetics work.  It implies that the major thrust of the work is downward – that is, to get the person into his legs and feet. (pg 196)

Whatever its origin, every holding pattern represents in the present the unconscious use of the will against the natural forces of life. (pg 204)

The remark that “a person has both feet on the ground” can be taken literally only in the sense that there is a feeling contact between the feet and the ground.  Such contact occurs when excitation or energy flows into the feet, creating a condition of vibrant tension similar to that described for the hands when one focuses his attention or directs his energy to them.  One is, then, aware of the feet and able to balance himself properly on them. (pg 97)

I absolutely loved the following image, as it was one I had come close to on my own.  Mine included the human body as a metaphor for the earth, which I logically connected with “mother,” but not with the joy and pleasure that Lowen creates in his imagery in the paragraphs below.

A mother is an infant’s first ground, or to put it differently, an infant is grounded through its mother’s body.  Earth and ground are symbolically identified with the mother, who is a representative of ground and home.  (pg 97)

My patients failed to develop a sense of being grounded or rooted because of a lack of sufficient pleasurable contact with their mothers’ bodies.

A mother who is herself uprooted cannot provide the sense of security and grounding a baby needs.

Here is what Lowen has to say about empathy.  I like that he makes the distinction that one person cannot feel another’s feelings.  I happen to believe that we can mirror another person’s unconscious feelings if we, ourselves, are desiring at some level to bring our own unconscious feelings to consciousness.

Sensing another person is an empathic process.  Empathy is a function of identification – that is, by identifying with a person’s bodily expression, one can sense its meaning.  One can also sense what it feels like to be that other person, though one cannot feel what another feels.  Each person’s feelings are private, subjective.  He feels what is going on in his body; you feel what is going on in yours.  However, since all human bodies are alike in their basic functions, bodies can resonate to each other when they are on the same wavelength.  When this happens, the feelings in one body are similar to those in the other. (pg 101)

In this book, Lowen describes various character structures which use words like masochistic, psychotic, and narcissistic.  In this context these words are descriptive, not diagnostic, and I found many of the ideas to strike close to home.

There is also a masochistic element in the psychopathic personality, resulting from the submission to the seductive parent.  The child could not rebel or walk away from the situation; its only defense was internal.  The submission is only on the surface; nevertheless, to the degree that the child submits openly, he gains some measure of closeness with the parent. (pg 162)

..submissive attitude in his outward behavior, he is just the opposite inside.  On the deeper emotional level, he has strong feelings of spite, negativity, hostility and superiority….He counters the fear of exploding by a muscular pattern of holding in.  Thick, powerful muscles restrain any direct assertion and allow only the whine or complaint to come through. (pg 163)

On a conscious level the masochist is identified with trying to please; on the unconscious level, however, this attitude is denied by spite, negativity and hostility.  These suppressed feelings must be released before the masochistic individual can respond freely to life situations. (pg 165)

The psychopathic character had something his parent wanted; otherwise he would not have been an object of seduction and manipulation.  As a child he must have been aware of this and got from it his first taste of power.  True, he was really helpless, and so his power was only in his mind, but he learned a fact of life he used later: Whenever anybody needs something from you, you have power over them. (pg 182)

Neurotic anxiety stems from an internal conflict between an energetic movement in the body and an unconscious control or block set up to limit or stop that movement.  These blocks are the chronic muscular tensions mostly in the striated or voluntary musculature which is normally under ego control.  Conscious ego control is lost when the tension in a set of muscles becomes chronic.  This does not mean that control is surrendered but that the control itself has become unconscious. (pg 219)

Lowen believed that the life of the body resides in its involuntary aspect.  Many of his exercises involved experiencing these involuntary functions of the body.  I am including a collection of exercises adapted from Bioenergetics for you to play with here: Bioenergetics Exercises.

For a really nice interview with Alexander Lowen in his later years, you can go here.  I encourage you to read this book for yourself if you are a body worker or if you would like more information about Bioenergetics, the body-mind therapy created by Alexander Lowen, MD.  Though Dr. Lowen is no longer with us, we can access his works and legacy here.

My book, Being In My Body, is about reintegrating body function after trauma.  You can check it out here.