Life in a social environment, societal rules, and interpersonal relationships demand that an adult does not show his feelings every time he feels them in himself. Through growing up, we learn which feelings we can show and which we can’t, which are expressed externally, how and when. The membrane participates in this through the superficial transverse muscular system, which controls our consciousness. We are talking about self-expression. The suppression of emotions occurs right under the skin’s surface, right before expressing our body (emotional reaction). Then the muscles that are supposed to be activated and allow the movement needed to express the emotion are contracted with a mind’s command. The inhibitory command of the mind, however, does not affect the other components of the emotion. We are aware of the desire to express ourselves; we are in touch with emotion; we observe our thoughts. The very act of expressing emotions is that which is restrained by muscle tone. Restraining the expression of emotions thus requires an immediate change in muscle tension in the membrane.
NEED AND THE SUBCONSCIOUS If the need to restrain the expression of emotions is strong and prolonged, the conscious need to block certain emotional reactions gradually turns into an unconscious behavioral pattern. We suppress emotions, which works deeper and has a different purpose than blocking the expression of emotions. In suppressing emotions, all emotion components are retained, not just the last active part on the membrane’s surface. We push impulses even deeper inside, under the surface level, where the conscious perception of reality occurs. With the need for a stronger and longer blockade of emotions, our muscle tone raises and orders a decrease in energy production. This weakens the impulses’ strength and reduces the membrane’s required muscle tone; energy expenditure to suppress emotions increases. Thus, the system fights the awkward situation on two levels. First, it reduces energy production through a distortion of respiration. Second, it increases the muscle tone in the membrane and lowers its presence against the consciousness, and its sensitivity to impulses from the body’s inside. By continuing this activity, our consciousness creates a “virtue” while developing an unrealistic resistance to those who express that feeling.
An example of increasing the efficiency of suppression is expressing feelings through crying. A person blocks crying even when it should be normal and required, which makes the ego create an illusion that he is rock solid and can’t cry. At the same time, he is disturbed by others’ crying, and regardless of the reason behind the crying, he acts disapprovingly.
INCREASE IN SUPPRESSION The person is less aware of the desire to express emotions and has less contact with their feelings. Such a relationship is maintained, as it does not transfer the sensations from the membrane to the mind – so the person ceases to be aware of the desire to express himself and loses contact with the sensation. When a thought or memory about an impulse (feeling) is pushed into the subconscious, away from the membrane, we are talking about the repression of emotion. Memories and thoughts are pushed away from the consciousness, while impulses and feelings get suppressed and blocked through the deadening of certain parts of the membrane. Suppression of emotions is no longer a conscious selective process, as the initial act of holding back emotions, but holding emotions long enough to become a habit and a subconscious pattern integrated into the body. The area of the membrane active in expressing emotion is numb due to the onset of chronic subconscious muscle tension that develops due to frequent retained pattern. Due to the loss of normal feelings and emotional reactions to a condition in the body or surroundings, the area is increasingly cut off from consciousness. What is created is a neurotic division which can be seen in different shape and spontaneousness of movement.
Deadening parts of the membrane harms the general behavior of the body. Every deadened area of the membrane decreases the body’s vitality. It limits and makes its natural mobility more difficult; it decreases the efficiency of body energy conversion, transportation, and usage while increasing negative thoughts and misconduct. Energy decreases in the body and directly weakens the impulses and fullness of life processes. Spontaneity, creativity, and the ability to enjoy life are limited. This limitation affects everything – it limits the feeling of positive emotions and negative emotions. As a result, power, suitability, variety, and control of emotional reactions are reduced. The person becomes numb and loses the ability to make realistic responses to reality that are neurotic in a more severe form losing contact with reality.
CHILDHOOD INFLUENCES A large number of emotional suppression happens during childhood. That’s when we are dependent on our parents for survival and vulnerable to threatening or limiting impulses from our surroundings. At the same time, we are inexperienced in self-expression and often encounter a negative reaction from our surroundings to our expression of real feelings and emotions.
In situations similar to those in which the child has experienced a negative reaction from the environment to his or her expression of emotions, they will try to hold back or limit the response to a negative impulse from the environment. Simultaneously, the membrane’s muscle tone increases, and the sensitivity of the membrane to external and internal stimuli decreases. This way, he decreases the power of fear and helplessness, which he perceives as threatening and limiting but can’t respond to them with fighting, resistance, or running like how an adult does it. Eventually, he gets used to his surroundings’ patterns and habits, which are the opposite of the child’s way of thinking and acting. This adaptation and discipline go beyond the limits of the necessary education, which would be sufficient for society’s normal functioning. Such behavior is the result of neurotic patterns of parents, educators, and teachers who adapted equally in their childhood. Alienation from others also does its part: company becomes unnatural while making raising your child less spontaneous. Often, in a desperate maneuver of survival, the child numbs the whole body. If this deadening continues and lasts for a longer amount of time, bad habits, misconduct, disturbing behavioral and mental patterns begin developing. Such a person is prone to depression.
SUPPRESSION OF THE IMPULSE FOR CRYING Due to the strong influence on the development of chronic congestion and prevalence, I will discuss the process of suppressing the crying impulse in more detail. The same can be observed with all negative emotions. We begin crying if pressure develops on the bottom side of our diaphragm, which results from an increase of energy in the abdominal cavity. However, we did not redirect this pressure into action.
The next part of the process that leads to crying is simplified. We react to a change in the internal state or to the pressure from the surroundings by raising the tone of the muscles of the lumbar part of the back, buttocks, and the back part of the thighs. Chemical processes are converted into biological energy and create conditions for anger. The anger creates pressure in the abdominal cavity. This condition allows us to react to impulses and situations that disturb, hinder, or threaten us. Suppose we cannot influence them with anger. In that case, we are prevented from a sympathetic reaction of struggle, persistence, or flight, or if we feel a negative reaction when trying to influence, we must limit the expression of anger. We succeed this by contracting our abdominal muscles, diaphragm, and the front part of our thighs, which we fear. However, a longer period of fear and greater internal pressure must be at least occasionally released through a more acceptable form of anger – crying. Crying in a child usually triggers compassion and mercy. Still, if he cries too often, it triggers resistance in the environment, suppressing this way of expression in the child.
EXAMPLE OF LOSING A MOTHER A child who lost his mother in a crowd will begin to cry for losing a person vital to his survival. He will only cry for a certain amount of time and then stop because crying is too exhausting for him. If the mother’s absence will continue for much longer while no adult would come and console, hug and calm the baby, then the painful and overwhelming feelings would cause the child to suppress his emotions. This would occur with increased membrane stiffness and hyperventilation. This numbness reduces the feeling of pain and fear and lowers the pressure in the abdominal cavity; the baby will stop crying. When he forcibly calms down and becomes aware of reality, he will start to raise his inner energy and pressure again due to the increased awareness of threat and anger because, in a numb state, he does not emit them into the surroundings. This will re-emerge the need to cry, which is also a re-attempt to call the mother and seek mercy. With every repeat of this process, his crying will become weaker and weaker. The child forgets the trauma after he finds his mother or if another person offers security.
But suppose a baby’s mother isn’t lost but instead dies or abandons the child for whatever reason, and the child becomes unloved in his primary family. In that case, his condition of numbness becomes chronic and very serious. No matter how much the baby cries, each outbreak only serves to increase the pain of that loss because the mother will not return. The baby will sooner or later stop crying, and the membrane will chronically harden and distort the conductivity and perception of impulses from inside and around. The child will limit his self-expression and energy that he needs for growth, wishes, and his will to see those wishes through. This will eventually lead to self-isolation and will slip into an illusion, becoming unresponsive or in a state of depression, which will cause serious psychophysical damage if it takes too long.
EXAMPLE OF COLD MOTHER If a present mother is emotionally unresponsive to her child’s needs, then the situation is less tragic than the one mentioned above. She gets lost in illusions because she cannot accept the current real situation or cope with life demands. This usually happens if her childhood and upbringing were full of trauma (war, sexual and emotional abuse, unwanted pregnancy, the child’s gender being the opposite of what she had hoped for).
The child will cry for her emotional and physical presence, which the mother, in her inner division, cannot provide, which will force the child to cry until it becomes too painful for him. Such a long-term relationship will cause blockages in expressing his emotions between the membrane and his mind and create many unreal behavioral patterns and relationships in his adult life. The child learns to express emotions mainly through touches and the transfer of feelings between his and the mother’s membrane.
I will now quote my mother’s self-analysis, which turned to me to help her frequent migraines. It became more and more clear to her how bad she felt about herself. She understood more and more why her daughter’s behavior was also problematic. “All the paths lead back to me. I can see that I still have a lot of work to do. With the help of learning the AEQ method, I realize that all my feelings pass to the child. How much fear, discomfort, and problems I had during pregnancy and immediately after giving birth: fear, what will be the reaction at work because I got pregnant soon after employment, constant cramps at work due to unfriendly co-workers, fear of childbirth, wrong position of the child or premature birth. I was too worried about whether the baby might not gain enough weight or feed him well enough. I blamed myself for the problems with breastfeeding. I did not associate this constant fear and worry with my general psychophysical condition. Now I know, the more I understand myself, the more I will understand the child. At the moment, I find it difficult to perceive and schedule all my different reactions and feelings that are currently occurring to me, from anger, rage, irritability to sadness, tears for no reason, complete fatigue, apathy, insomnia, feeling of loss of sexual desire. Fortunately, bright moments are appearing more and more often in my mood. ”
A baby or toddler can’t accept, understand, or come to terms with the absence of a mother’s love, which is their first natural need. He is completely dependent on it because it’s crucial for his survival. He cannot mourn a loved one as adults do. Often, adults also have problems with mourning and crying. Usually, an important reason for this is the suppression of crying in early childhood, and so this expression of emotions becomes inaccessible to them.
EXAMPLE OF A MOTHER THAT CAN’T HANDLE A CHILD CRYING A baby will suppress the impulse to cry if his mother cannot stand it. Because she cannot react accordingly due to her own suppressions and blockages, she responds to a child crying by retreating or negotiating with him. By doing so, she is trying to teach/force a child that she will not be bossed around with crying since she feels forced. A mother’s negative reaction to crying, which aims to attract people’s attention, love, and pity, is quickly felt by the child. When a mother responds with anger and aggression, the effect of her reaction on the child is even stronger. In the beginning, the child will cry harder and harder until he realizes that this does not lead to the desired change, and it is better to calm down and suppress the crying.
EXPRESSING ANGER, NEGATIVITY, AND HOSTILITY The following emotions, which kids usually aren’t allowed to express, are anger, negativity, and hostility. Not too long ago, kids were punished for displaying such behavior, which leads to an unequal relationship between kids and parents. This is less and less common today. Some kids are even allowed to go too far.
The child does not have a sufficiently developed ego for conscious rational control of emotions and lives in a rather black and white world. By constantly confronting a system of parents’ values and beliefs that he does not understand, that limits and disturbs him, and he develops anger. Parents all too commonly perceive it as a threat to their authority. That’s why the child will suppress their negative and hostile feelings, from which suppression of similar feelings will develop. When that happens, parents think that they raised their child well. Parents and teachers describe this child as good, golden, or don’t know that he exists. This, of course, is just a portrait of automation, which strongly influences the way we breathe, as it is based on fear. It is associated with a hard abdomen and tense muscles of the neck and jaw, leading to asthma, bronchitis, headaches, and migraines.
A CHILDS SEXUAL FEELINGS Maybe it seems old-fashioned to discuss how parents used to suppress a child’s sexual feelings. In fact, this is still happening and probably even more often today than before. Suppressing a child’s sexual feelings serves to be dangerous to them. They presented danger when a parent was consciously or subconsciously flirtatious towards his child. Such behavior is even more common than it was in the past. Simultaneously, the fast-paced lifestyle puts more pressure on parents, which hinders the proper flow of attention between parents. Usually, one of them pays too much attention to the child, who is not ready for it and does not know how to control the feeling of comfort well enough. We are not talking about the sexual sensations of the body that originate from the genitals, but about the bodily sensations that are suppressed by the contraction of the abdomen and the muscles that connect the pelvis to the chest. This defensive maneuver is to cut off the feeling of the lower part of the body, which prevents the person from making good contact with reality. At the same time, it distorts and limits the function of respiration.
In the examples above, we can look at the most common emotional reasons for chronic congestion when learning the AEQ method. Of course, there are many more possible causes and circumstances, but they all follow the same physical laws regulating internal and external pressures between the membrane and the environment. These laws allow man to react to changes in him and the environment. This, in turn, enables and determines life.
The model of thinking and understanding of life’s processes written above, was first taught, described, and defined by Wilhelm Reich.