During a clients first bionenergetic session, the healer will most likely have their eyes half-focused in a healers gaze, reading the patients energy field, body type, posture, mannerisms, and even speech patterns to figure out what are the primary defense structures at work. For bioenergetic practitioners, these defense systems provide both the car keys and road map for navigating the clients return journey to health and the higher self.
Going beyond talk therapy, bioenergetics is an intuitive science that combines psychoanalysis and hands on energy healing. It considers our entire emotional history to be crystallized in the body and that our blocks and difficulties in accessing our own power (and a deeper connection in our lives) are the results of unfinished business from early childhood. While growing up, we develop defense systems to prevent us from being overwhelmed by difficult experiences. The only problem is that we dont release the fear and resistance afterwards, which leads to tension, constriction, illness, and a skewed worldview. We, to some degree, perceive our reality through the lens of a traumatized child.
Developed by Alexander Lowen as an extension of Wilhelm Reich's vegetotherapy, bioenergetic analysis utilizes several central personality types, each consisting of different body characteristics, defenses, life tasks, and gifts. A brief overview of these personalities reveals the provocative titles of the schizoid, oral, masochist, psychopath, rigid," and, in some modalities, "narcissist." (Each of these character structures is complex and worthy of articles in themselves, which I hope to address in the future). According to bionergetic philosophy, every person has at least a portion of each personality type within their character make-up but typically one or two of these defenses will be more predominant than the others, requiring more attention in the healing process.
Becoming a bioenergetic practitioner, I soon realized it wasnt just individuals who held these energy defense structures, but that these characteristics were also prevalent in communities, groups, organizations, institutions, and even nations. When looking at the US government, it didnt take long to perceive the primary defense system at work in the land of the brave. First and foremost, America was a psychopath.
In the bioenergetic model, psychopaths will generally have athletic builds with inflated chests and upper bodies. They are ungrounded and disconnected from their legs and the earth energies below them. If we look at America as a body, we can see how it has built up its own biceps and pectorals, spending trillions on armaments and military fortification while putting few resources into environmental efforts and natural preservation, which ground us in the earth plane. Psychopaths have fierce, piercing eyes that keep watch for the next threat against their existence. On a national level, this can be seen in the proliferation of surveillance cameras, FBI profiling, and domestic spying upon a public that is not to be trusted. In foreign policy, this manifests in satellite spy technology, CIA operatives, and a general suspicion of the United Nations.
According to bioenergetics, the psychopath suffers from an excessive, over-charged third chakra (the energy center at the solar plexus), which is a masculine force of ambition, achievement, and willpower. Lacking a deeper sense of self, they are only as good as their achievements. They must be special or better than others in order not to feel like a failure. The space race, the drive to build New Yorks Freedom Tower over Ground Zero, or the desire to win Survivor can be seen as examples of societal psychopathy. Its all about being on top. In America, we are defined not by who we are, but by what we do. Profession, career, and economic status become far more important than family, community, self-understanding and personal/spiritual growth. The psychopath stays busy to avoid facing the suppressed fear and anger that may arise from connecting with the present moment. They work hard, wrangle kids to soccer practice, watch blockbuster films, and buy material things in order to avoid the terror of being still.
Often, the psychopaths need to achieve is a result of a manipulative parent (especially of the opposite sex) who says that the child is special one moment, only to treat them as worthless the next. This takes away inner feelings of trust, confidence, and safety. One simply is not good enough being who they are and therefore, must prove themselves to be worthy of love. Western Civilization itself seems to suffer from this condition due to its mythological underpinnings. According to The Book of Genesis, humans were once in their Fathers favor, but that love was revoked and they were kicked out of their home (the Garden of Eden) and forced to toil in the fields. Cain and Abel, the offspring of those in exile, had to prove their worthiness to God by bringing him offerings from their hard work at harvest time. The fierce competition between these two sons led to the first recorded act of psychopathic violence in the Fertile Crescent, which just happened to be the birthplace of agriculture and civilization as we know it.
Future generations inherited this false energetic construct, spreading it like a virus wherever western civilization expanded. Empires rose and fell, only for new ones to take their place. The disfunctional energetic patterns continued on to the thirteen colonies of North America, where the condition may have been exacerbated by the violent disapproval from Mother England when the young colonies asserted their independence. In order to survive this trauma, Americans began thinking in absolutes, such as Give me liberty or give me death, warning their own parent, Dont tread on me. Nobody could be trusted after that.
In order to ensure their special status, psychopaths feel they must dominate others. They have an immense drive for power, bullying everyone around them. Since its beginnings, America has lived by a sense of manifest destiny, decimating the Native Americans, enslaving blacks, and invading Cuba, Mexico, the Philippines, Afghanistan, and Iraq to name a few places. This imperialism can be seen in our domestic policy and societal hierarchies where corporations privatize resources and control the citizenry, leaving few social nets for those unwilling to participate in the endemic psychopathy within these systems. Living within this defense structure, one can believe it is "normal" to have poor, disenfranchised citizens in society, as these individuals simply have not proven themselves worthy of love and success.
Psychopaths can also be very charming and charismatic, using seduction as a means of gaining power and control over others. Hollywood and Madison Avenue have become masters of this tactic, fashioning a media landscape that constantly informs us how we are not sexy enough, healthy enough, rich enough, or good enough unless we buy their products. For the psychopath, sex is not primarily about pleasure and connection, but conquest over another.
Being right is essential to the psychopaths egoic self. They create an idealized view of themselves where they are better than everyone else around them. They become rugged individualists, believing in God, guns, and country, chant USA #1, and claim that America is the best country in the world. The need to be right has become especially prevalent in the rise of the Christian fundamentalist movement, where evangelists claim to know the one true way. Although this superiority complex can be vast, it actually masks deep insecurities and an unstable foundation.
Typically, it is only after the psychopath has experienced some type of personal collapse that they will seek help. They dont want to believe that there is a problem, nor do they trust others to help. Psychopathy can be one of the most challenging personalities to work with, because the fear of betrayal always lurks in the patient's subconscious, even toward the healer.
People often feel the need to judge the psychopath, since their defense system overtly hurts others. In bionergetics no personality structure is better than another. They all create walls of disconnection and dis-ease and although it may seem hard to believe, especially when they appear to be at the top of the social ladder, the psychopath is a suffering individual. Since psychopaths can be externally violent, connecting with the guilt of their behavior is one of their basic fears. Therefore, it is important for healers to create an environment where the clients feel safe and free of judgment.
The healer holds the space for psychopaths to face, experience, and process transgressions against others (and themselves). This work can be quite beautiful and revealing when the client expresses (and releases) real emotional regret, and not simply false pride about not living up to a self-idealized image. From this point, clients may be able to confess and make restitution for their actions, as the healer helps them name specific examples to release karmic bonds. Finally, the client learns to recognize destructive pleasure (like living on adrenaline) and replace it with actual pleasure within oneself and a community of people.
By staying neutral and focused, the healer assists the psychopath in letting down their guard and opening to be present with stillness and intimacy. The psychopath learns to feel safe and trust in the moment, being receptive to the energies around them. They learn to receive, and conversely give, love. This part of the process is much more about allowing than doing. It is not about proving the psychopath wrong, which only inflates their defense response. For example, arguing against Fox News, Dick Cheney, or the Iraq War, may only bring out more of the defense structures at work. But if one stays present during the conversation, giving eye contact and connecting from the heart center, the healing power of spirit comes in and expands a once tightly controlled reality. With this approach, battling ideologies dissipate, as we simply become humans sharing an intimate moment together. We feel loved, trusted and supported.
All it takes is a dent in the psychopaths ego for the entire house of cards to come crashing down. And we are due for a karmic reckoning thats been several thousand years in the making. Much like the psychopathic client, western civilization (and especially the US) are coming upon a time where we will have to face and feel the pain of our transgressions against mother Earth, each other, and, in the end, ourselves. The aggrandized belief in the rightness of the capitalist system or Americas own power and glory is tottering on the thin wooden stilts holding it up. And with the faltering economy, the walls created by our national psychopathy are cracking wide open.
Countries, communities, and individuals could react by pointing fingers and saying, We told you so, but that would simply put the psychopath back in their defenses, making them want to lash back in potentially dangerous ways. Instead, Im hoping a growing transformational network on the planet can serve as helpers, healers and guides. Those whove already embarked on the healing path can reach out to those just stepping onto it. Its like the story of the prodigal son in The New Testament. Rather than criticize and chastise the lost soul, we welcome our relations back into the unity of the world family tree. After all, none of us are without sin since we were all raised within this corrupted system.
We need to look at our own patterns and see where the need for specialness, control, and manipulation emerge. As we learn this process for ourselves, we can then hold space for others to connect with and release their guilt, confess and make restitution for their actions, and experience the exponential healing power of forgiveness. This stage is usually difficult for my individual clients and I can only imagine how challenging it might be with entire nations processing the environmental wreckage and karmic devastation weve laid upon our home, and each other.
Grounding is essential for healing the psychopath. They are trapped in an overcharged third chakra, and bringing in soothing earth energies can free up their internal circuitry. We, as a society, need to reconnect with the planetary rhythms and vibrations that have supported life for over four billion years, reintegrating that wisdom into our daily lives. Fortunately, there seems to be a growing mobilization to make this happen with various organizations and individuals engaging in permaculture, slow food, green design, eco villages, and other sustainable practices.
Perhaps those who hold the most grounding vibrations are the ones who have not fully strayed into the dominator model of civilization. Many tribal elders are carrying these earth frequencies of the first and second charkas (and the heart center) and have been coming together to hold space to heal our planet in crisis. This can be seen with Return of the Ancestors Gatherings in Sedona, The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, and The Gathering of Nations, not to mention the emergence of shamanic practices and teacher plants into western culture.
Ceremony may be the greatest antidote to the psychopath. If done in a safe space and with sacred intention, a circle of joined hands brings the psychopath out of their head and into the loving energetic field of the communal heart. Ive especially seen this manifest when singing is involved, harmonizing the individual with the frequencies of the larger collective voice.
Many yogis believe it is the powerful furnace of the third chakra that thrusts us up into the heart center -- the gateway between spirit and matter, the ultimate unifier of opposites that brings heaven onto hearth. In our adventure through civilization, we have walked through the planetary fires of over-charged third chakra energies. Now, as we face our own demise, we are being asked to purify ourselves in these flames and let go of limiting egoic constructs. As the shell of materialist consumerism dries up in front of us, we open up to spirit and the mystery of the inner self. Rather than filling our lives with actions, accolades, and appliances, we uncover the treasury within our own hearts and its connection to all beings around us.
Of course, some would argue that we should physically stop the psychopath in their tracks, putting an immediate end to America's plundering of the planet before it's too late. Admittedly, I'm not qualified to answer this question (no martial arts training here) and there are likely potentialies for doing this. However, given my own experience as a healer, I do question the effectiveness or current necessity of fighting the psychopath head-on. Recently, I've been astounded by the number of "psychopathic" friends and clients who are having their own personalized egoic break-downs that lead to an opening of the heart center, allowing them to connect with grace, themselves, and their community. Although I'm hesitant to believe it, I feel that after centuries of seemingly unmitigated rule by psychopath energy patterns, the vibrational environment is changing around us due to a collective rise in globlal frequency. As healers and helpers, we can access, or channel, these higher frequencies to assist others embarking on their evolutionary journey.
To do this, well need to unlearn what has been handed down to us and liberate ourselves from dangerous and dysfunctional paradigms. We can begin by re-imagining the nuclear family, taking out the fission of sibling rivalries and domestic abuse while allowing for divine presence, joy, and revelation within community. Instead of giving shallow rewards of grades for outstanding achievement, we could introduce yoga, meditation, and healing courses to cure the divisive habit of cliques, competitiveness, and popularity contests in our educational institutions. We could even resurrect the ancient model of the Mystery Schools, where studies in reading, writing, and arithmetic were balanced with the intuitive wisdom of the initiatory process.
And as strange as it may sound, given the seriousness of the global situation, were most likely going to need the psychopaths assistance in actualizing a worldwide healing effort. In a positive light, the psychopath is also known as the defender, since they are aces at championing causes. Once their heart fully opens, the defenders become extremely sensitive to those who are suffering, especially the underdogs, who they feel they have an affiliation with. Not only do they feel their pain, but they also know how to act to alleviate that suffering. If you want someone to kick-start a nonprofit, pass human rights legislation, or spearhead an environmental campaign, a defender would be your best bet. They are natural team leaders who have a knack for manifesting the visions and intentions of entire communities. That is their gift. (Its just important that they dont get lost in the uniqueness of their role.) Given their past transgressions, they often see their work as a matter of service with those around them.
Feeling true remorse for consuming more than our fair share of resources, the United States (and western culture in general) could move beyond ineffective ego-guilt and transmute these energies for engaging in a type of joyful restitution and devotional service to humanity and our great mother. Connecting our inherent motivation and entrepreneurial spirit with the greater needs of the world community, we can play our part in cleaning up the planet, and birthing equitable, compassionate societies. I believe we are already seeing this with the mass proliferation of NGOs in our culture.
Ironically, the psychopaths who got us into this planetary mess may assist us in reaching a new level of global awareness. Once theyve received the message that its not me against them, but just us, the defenders become champions of the shift in consciousness. They help spearhead that bioremediation project, open the yoga school for at-risk kids, coordinate the neo-tribal festival, and invite the elders to guide us in sacred ceremony.
I realize it may seem a challenge to love the psychopath, but Ive seen miracles in my healing work, and I know that they can become vessels of great love and beauty. The thing Ive come to admire most about the defender personality type is that they dont merely dream up new worlds, they help us build them.
Image: "God Bless America" by japetonida, courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.