When I was in Fifth grade our teacher read us a story about the Greek warrior Achilles. I was fascinated by the story but couldn't understand how someone so strong could be vulnerable or have some weakness. I didn't consciously relate it to my own vulnerability at the time, but I knew somehow there was a connection. There was something about the story that was both frightening and soothing. I guess if it was acceptable for Achilles to have some weakness than it was a little more acceptable for be to have some weakness as well. ( suspect that anytime another male has shared vulnerability, sadness, or weakness it has been helpful for me.). After all I was a male child growing up in an environment where men would not show weakness or vulnerability. I was very interested in hunting, spears, bows and arrows , shields and armor. Never thought of these things in an emotional way. As human beings we have this amazing capacity to armor our selves emotionally, and this armor may extend to our physical bodies. Wilhelm Reich termed the phrase "Character Armoring". He said that we have coping mechanisms which we begin to develop very early in our life to protect ourselves emotionally. Our defensive structure can be either adaptive or manipulative. Reich believed that our emotional armoring extends to and includes our bodies. Our bodies may contract and become rigid as a way of protecting ourselves. Unfortunately this rigidity can cause us to be less flexible and we can become both emotionally and physically debilitated, however, we do have the ability to devolve our body armoring and restore our emotional and physical flexibility.. Reich's theory regarding emotional armoring was likely influenced by Eastern philosophies related to healing. This was the beginning of "Bioenergetics", His predecessor Alexander Lowen further developed a system of using the body itself to reintegrate health into the body. The system or treatment modality, "Bioenergetics", has things in common with Hatha yoga and Chinese Medicine.. How do we deal with our vulnerabilities. We don't want to leave ourselves vulnerable to those who might want to hurt or injure us, at the same time vulnerability is a prerequisite to intimacy. If we are not open, shut off, or generate energy blocks within our bodies we, ultimately injure ourselves. Denial of emotionality and vulnerability can create energy blocks within our bodies which may have devastating effects on our health and our intimate relationships. We now have evidence that when we do not allow ourselves to experience intimacy are immune function is depressed, and there are many other health related consequences of emotional isolation.
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