Imposition and Correction

In self-directed work, the act of imposition does not arise, but in any deliberate relationship--therapist-client, guru- disciple, trainer-trainee, it may. Imposition is the 'expert' introducing any technique or topic that doesn't come naturally from the participant. Strong bodywork is by definition of this category. In times and in small communities where bodywork is fashionable, it may be requested by the participant. But most commonly, participants will be directed to sensory and kinesiological activities because the 'expert' wants to change their experience. The Reich and Lowen tradition started with a great deal of probing and poking in the setting of minimal clothing. This is the format of most medical exams, but given the sensitivity of the subjects and the duration of the treatment, this can be invasive.

And then there is the practice of correction. This sets the therapist up as an expert. Attempting a correction of the participant's ideas is usually socially acceptable but therapeutically ineffective. Correcting the body makes a nice end-run around the ego, although the ego can hit back indirectly if the participants feels shame and avoids bodywork. Generally the more benefit to be had by bodywork, the more the person'e ego hates its body. Bodywork literally and physically can seem to be "hitting below the belt."

Most active bodywork boils down to doing a movement a new way. But for an adult, the old way is well established neuro-muscularly. Thus, unlike a child learning to walk at the appropriate jucncture, an adult has a much greater difficulty learning something new. It is not just a question of willingness to move a new way, but the capacity. In body work the strongest nerves and muscles will highjack the movement. . If there is a coach or guide, then he or she must constantly block the movement to keep it from being done in the old way.

On a matter-of-fact basis, imposition and correction are the very reasons why someone pays or employs a therapist or trainer. Realistically though, most people only want to be told to do what they already believe they should do. However, if the change to be effected includes a harmonizing of the person, then imposition is a sort of paradox. It is famously Carl Rogers and other humanists' position that all imposition and correction was to be avoided. Reich and Lowen work is notably non-Rogerian! It is 'corrective. Body psychotherapy has been attempted on a permissive basis and the results fall short. Even if one is taking on the practices in this section on one's own initiative, it is a self-imposed attempt at correction. This dilemma can never be settled in a philosophically pure way. Imposition needs to kept in mind but not feared.