This is an exchange I had with an FPL reader in Ireland, who I will refer to as "G." G is curious to understand more about combined character structures.

Here's G:

"Dear Peter

My name is G and I am from Ireland. I am facinated by your website on character structures. I am a third year student of biodynamic psychotherapy in Ireland.

My question for you is : I am a masochistic structure myself and am working hard on healing but I wonder how you deal with combination character structures? For example when I go back in October I will be role playing with my classmates. One man in particular is combined of rigid/hysteric/psychopathic tendencies. What kind of theraputic approach would you use for him and what kind of theraputic tasks could be used for him?

I have found your website the best so far.

Thanking you.


Here's PL:

Hello G - Thank you for contacting me. The question of combined character structures is a fascinating one. The rigid character structure does have substructures, depending on the exact nature of the childhood wounds at around age 4-5, that combine with other pre-oedipal structures, such as masochism, and also vary depending on gender. In women, the "masculine-aggressive" character structure, and the counterpart in men, the "passive-feminine" are common combinations of rigid-masochistic character structures, though these are rarely written about. 

Generally speaking, everyone is a combination of character structures. Rare is the individual who manifests only one character structure. Rather, there are predominances. In terms of  therapeutic approaches, I would say that in any given session or set of sessions, you use the approaches that are appropriate to which character elements are being presented at the time. This is somewhat of an art as well as a science.
Thank you for your thoughtful question and kind words. Feel free to write any time.

All my best,

Here's G again:

"Dear Peter

Thanks for your reply. I am grateful for your information on the rigid masochist. In my email I asked about the male rigid psychopath , can you give me any thoughts on tendencies from this combination structure?

Thanking you."

Here's PL:

G - One thing I can certainly say about a rigid-psychopath or a psychopathic-rigid is you're dealing with an enormous amount of will and pride, and a tremendous need to be in control and to be right, not to mention the slew of broken promises. Don't get into arguments with this person. Address their behaviors and their tone, not the content of what they say, and by all means, do not take them at their word when they make a "commitment."

In terms of treatment, as I said earlier, with any combo, you deal with what's up as per the therapeutic approaches for that structure at any given time.
Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Dear PL, what about the Oral-Rigid mix female? This structure has some masochistic traits but the oral deprivation is more dominant, so the women are largely passive rather than aggressive - but can flare up.

Edward Smith refers to this structure as "not named":

In Lowen's "The Language of the Body" it is given a single page, the last one in the chapter on the passive-feminine structure.

I would LOVE to understand this structure more - can you perhaps expand on it a little bit?

TIA :)

Isabel Pareja said...

I've just seen the movie about Steve Jobbs and from what I know about his biography, etc, I'd say he had psychopath structure with a schizoid component too. Would you agree?

I'd like to know what you think about it.

Isabel Pareja said...


Isabel Pareja said...

No answers?


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