Exploring Alexander Lowen’s Different Character TypesFeb 28, 2023
The primary nature of every human being is to be open to life and love. Being guarded, armoured, distrustful and enclosed is second nature in our culture. It is the means we adopt to protect ourselves against being hurt, but when such attitudes become characterological or structured in the personality, they constitute a more severe hurt and create a greater crippling than the one originally suffered.
― Alexander Lowen, Bioenergetics
As we go through life, our experiences shape us in ways that can be difficult to put into words. Our reactions to trauma, loss, and stress can manifest in many different ways. This is why it is so important to understand the different character types developed by Alexander Lowen as they provide insight into understanding how people respond to life’s challenges. Let’s explore these character types and what each of them might be challenged by.
The Schizoid Character Type
The schizoid character type is a person who has lost touch with their feelings and desires. They often feel disconnected from others, find it difficult to form meaningful connections with people, and are prone to withdrawing from social situations due to their fear of intimacy or vulnerability. People with this character type may also experience difficulty expressing themselves emotionally or feel overwhelmed when faced with too much stimulation or attention. To help a schizoid character type move towards wholeness and healing, it is important for them to learn how to express themselves emotionally and develop healthy boundaries in relationships. Exercises such as journaling can be helpful in exploring one’s emotions and understanding the root cause of their disconnection from others.
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The Oral Character Type
The oral character type is a person who seeks approval from others in order to feel loved and valued. They often rely on external sources of validation rather than finding it within themselves and they have difficulty making decisions independently without input from other people first. People with this character type may also struggle with setting healthy boundaries in relationships because they are so eager to please everyone around them all the time. To help an oral character type move towards wholeness and healing, it is important for them to focus on building self-esteem by learning how to make decisions independently without needing validation from other people first. Exercises such as positive affirmations can be helpful in developing self-confidence and self-love so that one does not rely on external sources of validation for feelings of worthiness or belongingness.
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The Masochistic Character Type
The masochistic character type is a person who has difficulty accepting pleasure due to feelings of guilt or unworthiness embedded deep within them at a subconscious level. They often internalize their pain rather than expressing themselves outwardly, believing that punishment will help them atone for their perceived sins or mistakes even though this belief is irrational or unfounded. People with this character type may also struggle with asserting their needs because they believe that doing so will lead to rejection or disapproval from others around them. To help a masochistic character type move towards wholeness and healing, it is important for them to learn how to express their needs without fear of rejection or disapproval while also recognizing that pleasure should not be seen as something bad but rather something natural that should be embraced instead of avoided at all costs. Exercises such as mindful meditation can be helpful in gaining greater awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings while also learning how to accept pleasure when it comes their way instead of running away from it out of fear or guilt.
The Rigid Character Type
The rigid character type is a person who has difficulty adapting to change and tends to cling tightly to their beliefs out of fear of the unknown or unfamiliar. They often have very black-and-white views on life, believing that there are only right answers and wrong answers, with no room for grey areas in between. People with this character type may also struggle with taking risks or trying new things, believing that there is no point in doing so since everything must be done perfectly without mistakes anywhere along the way. To help a rigid character type move towards wholeness and healing, it is important for them to learn how to open up their perspectives and try new things by allowing themselves to make mistakes and see where these mistakes may lead them.
The Psychopathic Character Type
The psychopathic character type is a person who has difficulty forming meaningful connections with others and tends to treat other people as objects or commodities. They often have very limited emotions, failing to experience feelings such as love, compassion, or empathy. People with this character type may also struggle with trusting others due to a deep-seated fear of betrayal or abandonment. To help a psychopathic character type move towards wholeness and healing, it is important for them to learn how to establish authentic connections with others by actively practicing compassion and empathy towards others. Exercises such as mindfulness lovingkindness meditation, or even Tonglen, can be helpful in increasing one’s emotional awareness while also helping one connect more deeply with their own feelings and the feelings of others.
Alexander Lowen’s different character types offer insight into understanding how people respond differently when faced with life’s obstacles based on past experiences shaped by trauma, loss, and stress endured throughout the course of life. Each individual has unique needs when trying to become more whole which require personalized approaches tailored towards each specific case depending on the individual's background story. Through utilizing specific exercises such as journaling, positive affirmations, and mindful meditation, individuals are able take steps forward towards becoming more whole regardless of which character type best describes them. Ultimately, everyone deserves love, acceptance, kindness, support, respect, safety, dignity - no matter what kind of struggles they have been through. With the right guidance - anyone can find healing.
Photo credit: Yannick Pulver @Unsplash
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