(Extract from the Circling Guide)
Developmental trauma refers to various kinds of psychological damage that occur during child development when a child has insufficient or detrimental attention from the primary caregivers. Developmental Trauma has become a large field of study and the primary focus of at least four popular therapy modalities: Hakomi, Somatic Experiencing, Core Energetics and Attachment Theory. However, all therapy modalities must deal with developmental trauma at a root level, if they are to be effective. Note as well that the idea of early trauma that is stored and locked-up in the body, usually outside of consciousness and yet with profound impact on our behavior, goes at least as far back as Wilhelm Reich and his student Alexander Lowen, founder of Bioenergetics which was a precursor to the modern Core Energetics.
Developmental Trauma is the fundamental problem of human psychological maturation, and hence is at the root of the Circling inquiry as well. One of the important distinctions that Wilhelm Reich (and later Alexander Lowen) brought is the classification of human characterology into one of five types: Schizoid, Oral, Psychopathic, Masochist, and Rigid. It’s also possible to have a combination of these. The fundamental characterologies relate to a person’s defense system, which is their “go-to response” to different types of existential and emotional stresses. According to Reich, it is possible to clear our so-called “character armor” leading to vastly increased life-force and joy of living, which has a particularly strong impact on our sexual relationships, even leading (potentially) to the so-called “full-body orgasm”.
I am not an expert on this, and there is enough here to fill an encyclopedia, so I will stop there after having named the problem. Wilhelm Reich was one of the greatest psychological geniuses of the 20th century and his work is as relevant today as it was 70 years ago. He died in prison in 1957 following persecution by the US Food and Drug Administration. His work is relevant to Circling as he was the first to put Developmental Trauma on the map, along with the concept of body armor. Circling can be extremely effective for clearing developmental trauma, and particularly in conjunction with a somatic therapy modality.
The question of “trauma awareness” is key to Circling effectively, and is a topic that is beginning to receive significant attention in the community. Another important teacher in this area is Dr. Gabor Maté.