A discipline called Bodynamic Analysis helped me come to terms as an adult with the cruel taunting I experienced as a ‘crippled’ child
GUEST COLUMN: CAROLE LAROCHELLE, 2nd of 3 parts —
In reconstructing the timeline for this article I discovered I wore the twister cables for 15 to 18 months. I was still wearing the cables when I entered kindergarten in the fall of 1972. (In the photo to the left I’m the blonde beside the teacher).
Until that time I had been relatively sheltered at home from the type of harsh teasing that can happen when one is “different” from their peers. We, as humans, seem to have a primitive instinct that informs us if someone’s legs are funny or they walk abnormally then they may be mentally challenged.
Thus, similar to Forrest Gump climbing on the school bus for his very first day of school, I was ostracized and cruelly mocked by some older children. I tried my best not to show how much it hurt me and vowed to never make fun of someone else’s disability.
Wearing the braces at the age I did, and having to cope with difficulties like being teased by older children helped to reinforce an earlier defense strategy in my character structure known as Late Will. This terminology, as I use it here, comes from Bodynamic Analysis, a form of body-oriented psychotherapy from Denmark.
They have defined a seven phase character structure model starting from the 2nd trimester through the age of 12. Their model puts a more positive spin on character structure than previous models developed by Freud, Erikson and Lowen.
Indeed, in Bodynamic Analysis, each developmental stage represents a central issue or theme dealt with during a particular age period. In fact, each theme can also be viewed as a basic human right.
Bodynamic Analysis developmental stages
Existence (2nd trimester to 3 months): The right to exist in one’s physical environment.
Need (1 month to 1 1/2 years):The ability to sense one’s own needs and that one’s needs can be met.
Autonomy (8 months to 2 1/2 years):The ability to engage in independent movement and explore the world.
Will (2 to 4 years):The ability to make choices and state one’s own power through actions and emotions (i.e. control) and still be loved.
Love/Sexuality (3 to 6 years):The ability to create a balance between feelings of the heart (love) and the genitals (sexuality).
Opinion (5 to 8 years):The ability to form and express one’s opinion.
Solidarity/Performance (7 to 12 years):The ability to balance being one’s best with being a member of a group.
Bodynamic Analysis was developed by Lisbeth Marcher and a group of 10 Danish therapists who studied and worked together for 20 years. I have studied this system’s character structure model as well as their approach to working with shock/trauma.
I continue to study Resource Oriented Skill Training with Merete Holm Brantbjerg, (pictured at right) one of Bodynamic’s co-creators.
Leaving my braces behind
At some point during kindergarten the doctors deemed the braces no longer necessary and I was set free. I chuckle now to think about it, but they gave my mother instructions to stretch me.
Of course my Bound Angle Pose wasn’t perfect. My knees were much higher off the ground than they should have been. I would sit in this position with my back against the hallway wall while my mother would push down on my knees. It hurt, and I didn’t know how to relax. I would push up with my knees as hard as my mother would push down. I’m not sure we made much progress in changing my pattern.
As you may imagine, going through all of this at such a young age created in me quite an awareness of body structure and alignment. After we stopped torturing me with stretches my leg issues faded more into the background.
The next time I can remember a significant Aha! Moment that led me down the path to become a Rolfing practitioner was in high school.
In the 1980s I used to listen to a morning radio program called The Alex Bennett Show out of San Francisco. One morning Alex was talking about getting “Rolfed.” Since his show featured standup comedians as his guests, he was making fun of the funny sounding name. However, he also said some things that burned into my memory.
He said the work was literally changing the structure of his body, that he had better posture, was more flexible, and had more energy. That information got stored in my brain. . . there’s something out there that changes structure. . . being able to change structure in a positive direction is a good thing.
And then, I promptly forgot about Rolfing® SI until many years later.
Being put into twister cable braces at the age of four to correct “pigeon-toed” walking was the spark that ignited the fire of Carole LaRochelle’s life-long interest in the structural organization of the human body.
In private practice as a Rolfing practitioner since 1996 Carole has also studied pilates, craniosacral therapy and somatic approaches to healing trauma. She has a deep and abiding interest in body-oriented psychotherapies. Carole sees clients in Santa Rosa, San Francisco and Berkeley, California. Please visit her website.
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