The Rigid Type

Reichian Characterology #5 (final in series)

Fundamentals

Also known as the Rigid Pattern, Rigid character types tend to focus excessively on how they function and very little on who they really are. Doing is vastly favoured over being. This gives them a somewhat robotic aspect at a behavioural level, which may to some degree be reproduced at a bodily level.

They tend to inhabit or aspire towards archetypal forms, such as the "alpha" male or female. Thus, their world becomes strongly subdivided into behaviours and emotions that are "okay," and those that are "not okay."

They will usually aspire to be the best, whether it comes to work, finances, friendships or partners. If their self-esteem level doesn't allow them to see themselves as "the best," then they will place themselves somewhere lower down. They invariably have a strong, internal sense of a "league table" which defines where they are in comparison to others in the social hierarchy. They are thus highly pre-occupied with status.

They rigidify their body and behaviours to try and reach goals. Unlike the Aggressive type, they have little fluidity and in the face of anything which threatens them they will simply tense up and prepare to attack. In the face of difficulties, they will invariably do pretty much anything to maintain face and give an outward appearance of doing well.

Rigid character types will rarely seek therapy, for such action would involve an implicit admission that they are not doing good. Usually, they will need a life crisis to seek out help.

The way forwards for the Rigid character type is to investigate and accept their inner world of feelings, to find out who they really are as opposed to who they aspire to be. Like Aggressives, being able to show vulnerability around others will provide a major breakthrough. Acknowledging that they don't always have to keep up appearances is also very useful. The Rigid type has often been subcategorized 4 or 5 times. Subcategories of Rigids include - Hysteric Females, Phallic Narcissistic Males, Masculine-Aggressive Females, Passive-Feminine Males and Compulsives.

Appearance & Behaviour

  • Their face generally may have a mask-like appearance to it, as though they are trying to hold a certain expression.

  • Rigid patterned people tend to have a set jaw, as though determined to pursue a path in a world where they expect resistance.

  • They may experience nightly teeth-grinding to try and release emotions, usually anger.

  • Upper body rigidity is usually high, though Rigid patterned women may have considerable fluidity in the hips, to keep their sexuality accessible.

  • They tend to have a low tolerance for uncertainty and a strong need to know what's going on and where they stand.

  • Their behaviour may appear mechanical and they tend to have daily habits, any breaking of which creates high anxiety and difficulty to function.

  • Under emotional stress they may visibly appear very tense and looking as though any trigger could cause an explosion.

  • They tend to be good workers and generally high-functioning.

  • They will set high standards for themselves and expect others to simply do the same. For this reason, they are usually found in managerial roles.

  • It will usually be visibly hard for them to show human emotions, but there is generally a sense that they are present underneath.

Psychology

Rigid patterned people invariably had one or often both parents in the same category. They have often simply copied their parents behaviours.

They invariably learned as children that you only get love for what you do, and do well, rather than who you are. The notion of unconditional love makes little or no sense to them.

They tend to be heavily focussed on status.

They will struggle to attribute any value to their inner world, and to feelings especially. Human emotions will simply been seen as something that can "get in the way" of efficient functioning. When first attending therapy, rigid patterned people will often say that they just want to "get rid of" feelings.

Treatment Direction

  • Rigids will usually only seek therapeutic help in the event of a life crisis. Even then, their usual focus will simply be to "get functional" again.

  • It's very useful for them to understand how childhood conditioning caused them to invalidate their true feelings and simply seek to perform.

  • If they can make the link between their repressed emotionality and the life issues they are facing, this will definitely help them to accept that they must do more to validate their own emotions.

  • Allowing vulnerability will be a major breakthrough for rigid patterned people.

  • Allowing a full spectrum of feelings likewise.

  • They usually have sub-optimal self-esteem, due to how they were raised to perform, and so positive feedback once they have begun to open can be very useful.

  • They are usually competitive and the resourceful therapist may be able to make use of this for the client's benefit.

  • Exercises which stimulate early infant, pre-verbal feelings can be very useful. Examples include gibberish and childlike playing.

  • Parent-child type structures which make use of authority dynamics can be useful.

  • Massage to jaw and neck can be especially beneficial for the rigid type.