This article provides and understanding of the Industrious/Over-focused and Expressive/Clinging Character Strategies of Body-Centered psychotherapy.
Traditional Name: Rigid
Stage of Development: Phallic Stage (3.5 years to 6 years)
Function Truncated: Acceptance and Approval
- rejection from the caregiver (usually of opposite sex)
- parents expectations around performance
- growing up too soon to win parents approval (trying harder, doing better)
Experience: Love is conditional on performance
The Industrious/Over-focused strategy is more often found in males, and the Expressive/Clinging is more of a female archetype. Both are traditionally classed as rigid because these types tend to display their will and have contained boundaries. They hold back their feeling and actions; they are afraid to surrender because it means releasing feelings. They feel a deep sense of betrayal and avoid being vulnerable for fear of being hurt. They may hold a strong ego position to avoid letting go.
The rigid types have a straight backbone and hold their heads high with pride. Their bodies are well proportioned and integrated, reflecting their sense of outer control. They are comfortable in physical reality and tend to be worldly with a lot of ambition, competitiveness, and desire for adventure. They have high energy, even to the point of hyperactivity. Their good energy is reflected in their strong, wide, and even etheric field. Mentally they are developed and bright. They are natural leaders, who can inspire others with their passion for life.
Industrious/Over-focused Character Strategy
Traditional Name: Perfectionist
- takes refuge in action; work hards
- avoid distractions and keeps going
- “I have to perform.”
- “I have to work to be ok.”
- “No matter how hard I work it is not enough.”
- “If I don’t show my feelings I won’t be hurt.”
Relationships and Emotions:
- strives for perfection
- not spontaneous, won’t take risks
- earns love through accomplishment
- can never do enough
- won’t say how they feel
- quick to feel frustration and anger
- strong and often athletic
- alive and enthusiastic
- leans forward (ready to go)
- guards the heart
- high energy
- out in the world
- at attention, can’t relax
- high achievers
- down to earth
- exciting to be with
What They Need:
- appreciation and love for who they are
- to avoid problem-solving
- relaxation and play
- to make contact with their senses and feelings, especially sadness
Synthesis of the Industrious/Over-focused Character Strategy
The Industrious/Over-focused is a hard working type that strives for perfection and success. During the developmental stage where this strategy formed, they did not get praise unless they performed, they feel that they must perform to get approval and always strive to be better. They have a constant need for achievement and recognition and do not feel that they can be loved for being oneself. They question whether they are worthy and competent.
They are enthusiastic and ready to go. Their body tends to lean forward giving the impression that they can mobilize at any time. They are out in the world people and have a hard time relaxing because they love action and doing. They are serious and tend to be workaholics who want to get the job done right. They may seem cold and business-like and choose professions which make them work too much.
When under stress they make more effort and work harder. The Industrious/Over-focused needs to feel appreciated and not pressured to perform, they have a longing for tenderness.
This is a pretty successful strategy; Industrious/Over-focused types tend to be popular, engaging, and socially adapted. They are the “good ol’ boys” who do what is expected of them; having a code of behavior that they follow. They will do anything for you, except tell you their feelings. They have blocked their heart so much, and may no longer know what they are feeling. They guard the heart and stiffen their bodies to avoid criticism.
Their blocked heart and the fact that they are always looking for perfection often causes them problems in long-term relationships. They have difficulty integrating sex and can’t share feelings well, but they are sexually charged and may perform well on this level.
Working in the arts can help an Industrious/Over-focused; they need to avoid talk and problem-solving because that is how they are used to doing things. Introducing more of a sense play, especially when it can get them into their senses, will help the Industrious/Over-focused to relax.
Expressive/Clinging Character Strategy
Traditional Name: Hysteric
- dramatizes events and feelings to get attention and avoid separation
- “I can’t get the attention I need.”
- “You can’t hurt me.”
Relationships and Emotions:
- looks for proof of caring in a relationship and will test it
- may sabotage with unreasonable demands
- can be reactive, dramatic/theatrical
- able to form good relationships
- life is centered around home and family
- hides feeling
- is indirect in conversation
- looks for the perfect mate
- may have problems with long-term relationships/afraid of deep emotional involvement
- difficulty integrating sex and love
- may have trouble ending conversations or relationships
- full, seductive, and attractive (especially in women)
- upper body is more rigid, while the lower body is soft
- head is held up with pride
- good energy
- is usually explosive and uneven (highs and lows, ups and downs)
- draws people in
- movements may be sexually provocative
- highly organized
- competent and successful
- good energy
- warm, caring, loving
- receptive and sensitive
- may have psychic abilities
- make good actors
What They Need:
- to talk about their feelings rather about their stories about what has happened to them
- witnessing of their feelings
- to feel heard
- to not have to struggle for attention
- to be able to freely give love and attention
- to slow down
- relaxation rather than excitement
Synthesis of The Expressive Clinging Character Strategy
The Expressive/Clinging character strategy formed as a way to get the attention and approval that the child did not receive in a particular stage of development. They felt rejected by their caregiver (usually of the opposite sex) and have a sense of betrayal or abandonment. They have feelings of being a disappointment or of being disregarded and there is a yearning to be protected and loved. As a child, they may have only gotten attention when they were ill, hurt, or concerned about something and learned that crises = attention. They will become excitable or dramatic to get the attention. They can become very loud or emotional and even hysteric, getting upset easily and making a show of it. They have a need to feel heard, and will keep upping the volume because they think the other is not hearing them.
Due to their separation anxiety, they can become clingy if they feel they are losing the others attention. They may feel they are not loved or cared about for exactly who they are, so they may keep making drama.
The Expressive/Clinging type experiences rapidly changing moods and highs and lows. In the extreme, this may look like bipolar disorder. They are prone to sudden increases in energy. They may be anxious and are very sensitive; having the ability to amplify small feelings or sensations.
They can be seductive and expressive, or girlish and innocent, whatever works for them to continue receiving attention. Their language and movements may be sexually provocative; they get attention from being irresistible. One tell-tale sign that you are dealing with an Expressive/Clinging is that you are very drawn into what they have to say.
The Expressive/Clinging type may have sex in one place and their heart in another. They need to link their heart with their other feelings and be able to share feelings. Once they get over their uncertainty of whether they are interesting, attractive, or wanted, they can show themselves without the drama.
This type needs to feel they are seen and listened to, but going deeper into discussing their stories is not helpful because they are crises oriented and talking about the same thing, again and again, will just reinforce their belief systems. The Expressive/Clinging needs to develop a capacity to distance themselves from and witness their feelings. This can be achieved by slowing things down; ending the cycle so they can get out of it. It is difficult for them to relax, but slowing things down will actually speed up their progress; when they can relax, they can take up space without needing to be loud about it.
What the Industrious/Over-focused and Expressive/Clinging Need to Thrive
What the Industrious/Over-focused and the Expressive/Clinging need to learn is to allow their feelings to flow, to share those feelings, and be seen by others. When they can open their hearts, they can connect with others and have a deeper sense of contact with the universe. They need to move from an attitude of “I won’t love you”, to “I love, I commit”. When their aura is softened, they can play in the world and enjoy life fully.
To learn more about how we form character strategies and read about other character types please read the article Character Strategies of Body-Centered Psychotherapy.
Photo: Nejron Photo