|Anyone know what the "eye block of the schizophrenic" is?|
I can have a go at this one, Not correcting anyone above, just adding to it. Basically, rather than locating our pathologies as solely existing in the psyche, separate from our somatic side, Reich believed that they were best addressed through the body, and that they led to distinct “symptoms”. He conceived of the body as having a series of “blocks” impeding the flow of energy, sensations and emotion, the eye block being one. Think about how we hold back tears, or the habitual expressions that some people hold (furrowed brows, unexpressive faces etc), or think about how hard it is to gaze into someone’s eyes without tensing, and you get an indication of what Reich is talking about.
I don’t disagree with what Sekhmet has written above, but I’ve always found those psychoanalytical maps of development very abstract and “cookbooky” and instead of approaching Reich’s stuff in this way, I think it’s best to go with one’s own experience of our bodies and sensations. (In fact, Reich might well say this abstract approach was a result of a very Western pattern of armoring in itself, pulling all our energy up into the head and approaching everything through the intellect). Eye armoring might be best thought of as our ability to reach out and make contact with the world through our gaze. In a situation where a child (or baby) is experiencing a lot of hostility towards them, it’s understandable to think of how one might block the gaze, and the quality of contact through the eyes. Think about times when you’ve really “seen” and felt connected with what one gazes at, and you might see what he means be being “unarmored”. Don’t know if this will make sense to anyone, but I hope so.
In this sense, the schizophrenic is someone who retreats from contact with the world (through no fault of their own, I might add – rather they are compelled to do so by their armoring). The tensions around the eyes and abstraction of the gaze are ways of avoiding further contact, as it stirs up sensations that this person cannot deal with. (Character Analysis for an amazing account of therapy which expands on this issues a lot better than I can.
The eyes are responsible for 70% of all our sensations, and play a big part in interpersonal communication and expression of the emotions – “windows of the soul”. A friend who worked as a therapist for many years said that they did seem to “bind” an incredible amount of emotion and experience.
The therapy for it, as far as I can make out from what I'm reading, includes eye and facial exercises (rolling the eyes, wrinkling the forehead, opening the eyes wide, etc.)
That’s correct as far as it goes, but the therapist would (hopefully) be looking for the quality of contact and openness, and any other emotions that came up (surressed rage etc) through working with the block. Just as an “exercise” it doesn’t make much sense, like most of Reich’s ideas.
I’ve done a little work with my own eye block, and found it very powerful. I do it as follows - while breathing in a very “free” manner, I’ve get my (long-suffering) partner to move a small torch or fingertip in an erratic pattern around my head, which I then follow with my eyes, the idea being the randomness of movement would break habitual patterns and tensions. This continues for 5-10 minutes or so. I found this produced alarming “leaps” in sensation for me, and the occasional rapid deepening of emotions. It served to “move” and mobilize feelings in my chest, in a way that hadn’t happened previously and break some of the unpleasant tensions I’d become aware of in my neck. Sorry, if this is a bit vague but it’s hard to describe. Anyway, chalk me down as a believer.
One final point – Reichian therapy isn’t just getting someone to breathe deeply and wiggle parts of their body around. I’m not saying what I’m doing is “proper” therapy. One would find, certainly with treatment of a schizophrenic, these physical techniques working in tandem with depth psychoanalysis.