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Erica Kelley Tribute Fund
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Freeing the Feelings, Dr. Charles Kelley

Reich approached the loosening of the muscular armor structurally. He observed the armor to be arranged in seven somewhat discrete body segments: 1) ocular, 2) oral, 3) cervical, 4) thoracic, 5) diaphragmatic, 6) abdominal, and 7) pelvic. The armor forms lateral patterns of tension in each segment which interfere with the normal longitudinal flow of the life force. A specific longitudinal flow underlies each of the deeper feelings. Reich found that the armor should be loosened systematically from the top down. Problems arose when the armor segments closest to the body core were worked on before the upper segments had been freed (Reich, 1949).

 

Reich's Segmental Concept
We have found Reich’s segmental concept of the armor an invaluable tool. In Radix body work we, like Reich, work “top-down” or, more accurately, “outside in,” beginning our work not only at the eyes, but at hands and feet as well. Eyes, hands, and feet are the three most important areas of contact with external reality. We want students doing feeling work to have their “eyes open,” have their “feet on the ground,” and have a “firm grip on reality.” These are not mere metaphors, but refer to the radix flow in the body that moves from the body core toward the world around. The structural approach to us means freeing patterns of armor starting with eyes, hands, and feet, and working toward the core. This involves freeing the head and neck, feet and legs, hands, arms and shoulders before the trunk, in general but not strict accord with Reich’s top down concept.
A second approach
Opening the feelings deals not with structures but with ongoing processes, their expression and their blocking. The primary focus shifts from the organization of patterns of armor by body segment to the organization by patterns which block a particular radix process, often a feeling process. This armoring extends across the body segments with a pattern of blocking that is characteristic for each major feeling. The Radix teacher must become skilled at identifying the particular patterns of tensions associated with the blocking of a given feeling. Subtle muscular cues tell us when the student is blocking pain, fear or anger. And the way to work with process is across segments striving for an integrated expression of feeling, most significantly when discharge comes.

This second approach to understanding and opening the feelings typifies Radix work. It is rooted in radix processes, including pulsation, charge, discharge, counterpulsation and blocking and the processes which underlie the major feeling pairs: pain/pleasure, fear /trust, and anger /love. Blocks to these processes and the characterology of those blocking them are major topics of Radix work, and will be discussed later in this article.

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