My approach is a synthesis of classical psychology, psycho-spiritual energy healing and archetypal astrology. The psychological model I use is Wilhelm Reich's concept of Characterology, the energy healing model I use is based on Brennan Healing Science and the astrology from my training in Jungian based psychological astrology. Now I am writing a series of articles hoping to make clear some of these very big concepts. Here is, What is Characterology?

Not all that many people have heard of Characterology yet in my own life and in my work I have found Characterology invaluable as a way of helping me to understand people. Characterology is a psychological approach, based in understanding the impact of childhood experiences on the development of the personality. It describes five different character types, which emerge from five stages of child development. Clearly there are more than five types of people in the world so Characterology is a simplification of something which is highly complex. Knowing how to recognise the five character types provides a very clear way of understanding a person's behaviour and can greatly expand awareness for counsellors, psychotherapists, astrologers and healers.

The idea of the five character types was developed by Wilhelm Reich one of the great psychologists of the 20th century. In his work with his clients Reich noticed that the psychological effect of trauma experienced in early infancy was different to the effect of trauma experienced in an older child. Based on these observations Reich mapped out the psychological development of the personality through five stages of childhood. Each stage was associated with the emergence of a particular character type. Each of the five character types has a distinct recognisable physical and psychological profile including specific patterns of defence, which block the healthy expression of the Self.

Everybody has been through the five stages of child development so everybody has some signs of all five of these character types. However, some people have a dominant emphasis on one of the types; most people have an emphasis on a mixture of two or three. Character Structure, or Characterology, is the term used to describe the balance of these five personality types in a person’s make-up.

The 20th century psychologists tended to focus on mental health problems resulting from trauma experienced in childhood. More recently psycho-spiritual practitioners have understood that Characterology is not just about wounding but each of the character types have specific gifts of soul to express and these will be outlined in a separate article on The Creative Process.

Below is a brief outline of the psychological view of the five character types with the focus on the specific issue presented by the developmental stage and the kind of defence that will result from any trauma experienced during that stage:
• The Schizoid Type: The ‘Schizoid’ type is associated with the stage extending from conception through the gestation period and on into the critical time of labour, birth and the earliest days of life. Wounding and defence in this stage arise from the primal experience of mortality, the terror of being in a physical body and the fear of physical death and annihilation. A person in the Schizoid defence will disassociate from their feelings and body sensations and they will split away from physical reality and escape into a state of extreme mental detachment and fragmentation.
• The Oral Type: The ‘Oral’ type is associated with the period that extends from birth through the first year of life while the baby’s survival remains totally dependent on receiving care and nourishment from others. Wounding and defence arising in this stage centre on the experience of neglect or deprivation – the fear of abandonment and hunger. This can develop into a chronic feeling of inner emptiness, lack and unmet needs. The Oral type will try to get their needs met through others and the defence is associated with extreme emotional dependency and collapse.
• The Masochist Type: The third type is the ‘Masochist’ type, associated with the second and third year of life when the child develops mobility and speech and begins to assert their autonomy. Wounding and defence in this stage arise from experiences of being over-controlled, dominated and humiliated by the parents. This can leave the child with deep rooted feelings of powerlessness and shame. A person in the Masochist defence will try to protect themselves by hiding behind some kind of mask and withholding their spontaneous self-expression. They may try to assert their autonomy by going into stubborn resistance but this often leads to a repeating pattern of defeat.
• The Psychopathic Type: The fourth type, the ‘Psychopathic’ type, is associated with the older child, aged three to five who is ready to focus on the area of relationship and begins to explore their sexual identity in relationship to the parent of the opposite sex. Wounding and defence in this stage occurs when the child is drawn into a triangle of seduction by one parent and rivalry with the other. When there is uncertainty of safe boundaries being held by the parents the whole experience of relationship becomes overcharged from fear of betrayal. The child in the Psychopathic stage gets stuck in an unwinnable struggle to win the love and approval of the beloved parent. This develops into a life pattern of obsession with winning, overly aggression behaviour and repeated experiences of betrayal.
• The Rigid Type: The fifth type, the ‘Rigid’ type, is associated with the child between five and seven years old, who is learning the social rules of how to fit in and achieve success with their family, their tribe and their community. Wounding and defence in this stage occurs when the code of rules and expectations in the family are overly rigid and wounding in this stage centres on the fear of being criticised and rejected – the fear of failure. The overly-controlled child will give up on their inner sense of knowing and instead, they become focused on the prevailing codes of behaviour in their family and culture. The Rigid defence is associated with issues of control and judgement.

Learning about the different character types is fascinating but it is easy to have a negative reaction to the uncomfortable descriptions of childhood trauma, distortion and defence. Reich named the five character types using terms from classical analytical psychology so the names themselves have unpleasant associations with madness. People reading the descriptions quickly find themselves identifying with one or more of the Characterological types. Almost without exception readers go into a state of judgement – against themselves for being flawed – against their own parents who ‘wounded’ them and/or into a state of guilt about their own failings as a parent! Yet Characterology only describes the results of a child’s struggle to deal with their circumstances as they grow through the developmental stages. We go into defence as a way of coping when difficult things happen and it is a simple fact that in life, difficult things happen. While it is clear that some people suffer appalling neglect and abuse in childhood and become profoundly damaged, even children from stable and loving homes have their issues. The development of individually distinct patterns of Characterology is as intrinsic to human psychological development as the growth of ten fingers with unique finger prints is to physical development.

Two things came to me in the years when I was studying Characterology. One was the awareness that there is much more to Characterology than trauma, wounding and defence. Each of the five types also bring specific gifts such as mental brilliance; empathy and compassion; creativity and communication skills; courage and leadership; authority and wisdom built of experience. I will explore the whole area of the gifts of soul that come with each of the character types in a separate article on The Creative Process.

The second realisation was that, as an astrologer, once I understood that every person has their own individual character structure then I started wondering if this would show up in a person's horoscope. I did some small scale research, looking at the charts of fellow students at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing. What I discovered were consistent patterns of planets in a horoscope representing the different character types. I found that bringing in the archetypes of the planets brought me both a new understanding of the Character types and a fresh approach and new information into my understanding of astrology.

For astrologers, below is a brief outline of which of the planets are associated with each of the character types.
• The Schizoid type - associated with Uranus, Mercury and Chiron
• The Oral type - associated with Neptune and the Moon
• The Masochist type - associated with Pluto and 'afflictions' to the Sun
• The Psychopathic type - associated with Mars, the Sun and Jupiter
• The Rigid type - associated with Saturn and Venus

The relationship between the planets and the different character types will be discussed in a separate article, The Astrology of Characterology. And for anyone particularly interested in this subject please read my book, 'Charting the Soul: Astrology, Characterology and the Human Energy Field'.