De-Armoring | Difference between Body, Muscular, and Emotional De-Armoring

Published: Jun 4, 2024
Edited by: Marce Ferreira

Dearmouring the buttocks

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The current practice of De-Armoring as developed by the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich is often synonymously referred to as Body De-Armoring, Muscular De-Armoring, or Emotional De-Armoring. In this article, we’ll discuss the meaning of the differences between these terms.

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But first this. You will often find De-Armoring written in British English as De-Armouring or Dearmouring. This is not only common in countries such as the UK, Canada, and Australia, of course, but actually throughout the whole of Europe. Nevertheless, in German speaking countries it’s rather common to use the original German terms such as first written down by Wilhelm Reich, thus referring to Pantzerung and Entpanzerung.

Now, according to Reich, our body can develop physical tensions, constrictions, and contractions as a result of undigested, unexpressed i.e. repressed or suppressed emotions and trauma. Reich called this phenomenon the creation of a Body Armor (in German Körperpanzerung). To face, digest, and release these stuck emotions and trauma Reich proposed that one needs to De-Armor the body, hence the term Body De-Armoring (in German Körperentpanzerung). By the way, you will also find the term Somatic De-Armoring instead of Body De-Armoring.

Yet, Reich noticed that tensions and constrictions in the body notably materialized themselves in the muscles. This gave rise to the term Muscular De-Armoring (in German Muskel-Entpanzerung). Today, you also find De-Armoring practitioners and therapists who talk about Myofascial De-Armoring because they belief that the tensions and constrictions that are held in the body are rather found on the level of the fascia i.e. myofascial tissues (connective tissues) that surround muscles, internal organs, bones, joints, blood vessels, and nerve fibers, and so on.

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Now, to understand the term Emotional De-Armoring we need to go a bit further. According to Reich, the Body Armor prevents repressed and suppressed emotions to (re)surface by keeping the disturbing emotions in check through certain bodily holding patterns (muscular tensions, restricted breathing, typical postures, and so on). So, depending on the point of view taken, we could say that the tensions and constrictions in the body form an Emotional Armor — also called Emotional Body Armor — rather than “just” a Body Armor. Hence, the existence of the term Emotional De-Armoring.

To grasp the above somewhat better, we also need to realize that at the core of Reich’s theories was the idea of the Character Armor, which expresses itself twofold as physical manifestations (Body Armor) and as specific psychological or character traits (Psychological Armor or Emotional Armor) and serve as a combined, interrelated emotional defense mechanism.

Therefore, Muscular or Body De-Armoring is likewise Emotional De-Armoring and — on its highest, holistic level — also Character De-Armoring, the latter seen as healing from trauma, becoming able to express ourselves naturally and with inner freedom, attaining physical and sexual health, and enjoying life again to its fullest potential.

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