Bodymap Reading & Interpretation

Disclaimer: The content of this article may be dated and does not necessarily represent current Bodynamic teachings. It's purpose is to show how some of the material has been understood and used in the past and how it has contributed to the evolution of the system as a whole.

The personality test of Bodynamic Analysis
Steen A. Jorgensen and Lisbeth Marcher

In Bodynamic Analysis, we use a Bodymap as a starting point for the evaluation of the personality of the client. It also helps us find out how they might benefit from different kinds of therapy. On the Bodymap form, which is a drawing of a figure of the human front and backsides, we make a color-coded depiction of the muscle responses of almost all the muscles of the client. By muscle response, we mean the elasticity of each muscle, as measured by palpation. We differentiate nine degrees of response: 4 degrees of hypo-response, 4 degrees of hyper-response, and 1 neutral response.

Each category of response is marked on the map with its own color. When finished the Bodymap appears as a colored map, shades of red indicating hyper-responses, shades of blue indicating hypo-responses, and green indicating neutral response. The Bodymap is a nonverbal, non-projective test, and there is no exercise that the client has to solve. It shows the different muscle-responses of the client directly, as palpated by the therapist. The Bodymap is the Bodynamic way of doing a psychological test.

Use of muscle palpation maps has a long history in Norwegian physiotherapy/ Body psychotherapy, where different traditions of making muscle palpation maps exist and Danish studies show that it is possible to determine criteria for different muscle responses, and to teach therapists (testing personnel) to achieve nearly identical results when mapping the same client (Bunkan and Sundsvold 1971, Ollars 1980).

The Bodymap can be interpreted using the theoretical and empirical knowledge developed in Bodynamic Analysis. Research through many years by Lisbeth Marcher and her colleagues’ shows that there is a connection between the patterns of muscle responses you see in a Bodymap, and the motor development patterns and personality/ego-functions of the client. When the Bodymap is interpreted using the theory of Bodynamic Analysis, it is possible to describe the client’s ego structure and his personality development, and to describe the way the client functions in his daily life.

In psychological tests, one differentiates between tests aimed at different fields of use: Cognitive tests, dementia tests, and personality tests. The Bodymap is a personality test that primarily can give information about the personality and ego-functions of a client, his weak and strong sides. It also gives information about which kind of psychotherapy will be most suitable for the client. Bodynamic Analysis uses the Bodymap similarly, to how the Rorschach test is used in clinical psychology and psychiatry.

One uses the Rorschach test to diagnostically differentiate between different types of clients – and to get information concerning which type of treatment (therapy) is most suitable for them. Besides this the Rorschach test can give detailed information about the ego structures of the client (Killingmo, 1988), which you can use as basis for evaluating the suitability of the client for different kinds of therapy. It also indicates which aspects of the ego functions of the client it is important to focus on in psychotherapy.

A pilot-study has been done, in which the same client had both a Bodymap and a Rorschach test, in order to compare the personality descriptions. The study shows that it is possible to give a precise personality presentation from the Bodymap, and that both the Bodymap and the Rorschach, each in their way, give compatible information that can be used to determine which kind of therapy treatment is most appropriate. Besides this, the two tests appears to supplement each other, since a Bodymap gives more precise and detailed information than the Rorschach, about the development of the client, and from which age levels his problems stem. The Rorschach on the other hand gives a more detailed description of the processes of consciousness and the associative connections of the client. In addition to its use in psychotherapy, the Bodymap has been used as a diagnostic tool in an examination of torture victims.

Interpretation of the Bodymap as starting point for preparation of a Bodynamic Analytic therapy process (test reading, prognosis and treatment plan).

The work with test reading, prognosis, and treatment plan builds on: 1) an interview with the client, 2) a Bodymap, and 3) on the therapist’s impression of the client and the contact they have during the interview and during the body mapping.

The interpretation of the Bodymap consists of a systematic evaluation of the personality and ego-functions of the client, a prognosis based upon these, and an articulated treatment plan. The interpretation is based on an systematic analysis of the clients patterns of muscle responses based on Bodynamic Analytic theory, and supplemented by the therapist’s accumulated experience and intuition concerning the test, the client, and contact with the client.

Test Reading

The result of a test reading is a description of the client with his present difficulties and his resources. We also have a description of the reasons for these, based on an interview, the Bodymap, and an experience of contact with the client.

It is important to evaluate and be clear about the following points:

  • The ego structure of the client
  • Neurotic/suppressed (dominated by hyper-responsive defenses
  • Normal-healthy/balanced (light/medium balance between hyper/hypo defenses)
  • Psychotic or psychosis-threatened/resigned (dominated by hypo-responsive defenses)
  • Existence structure (light balance between hyper/hypo defenses, supple mented by specific signs of existence structure)
  • Psychotic (dark, strongly polarized patterns of hyper/hypo defenses, “crispy” muscle responses)
  • Shock dominated (shock signs, or anomalies in some of the muscle re sponse patterns related to different developmental stages)

You make an evaluation of this based on the balance of hyper-responsive, hypo-responsive, and neutral muscle responses, compared with a series of specific signs

  • The background, education and present life situation of the client.
  • Background of class (sociological), culture and life style
  • Present class (sociological) and life style seen in relation to the culture and life style of partner and friends
  • Present situation of work, residence, and family
  • Friends, both close and more distant (social network)
  • Resources – especially unconscious resources (so called “white holes”)

The present situation of life and background indicate important lines of directions for a psychotherapy process. These conditions show the resources and difficulties from which the client must develop.

  • Specific conditions and difficulties
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Hash abuse – especially as a teenager
  • Use of neuroleptics – and other forms of medication, that affect the body and the mind
  • Physical and especially psychiatric diseases. Physically we think of asthma, neurological diseases, allergies, etc. Psychiatrically, of psychosis (schizophrenia, manic-depressive, psychosis, paranoia), borderline psychotic states, phobias and intense neurotic signs and character deviations/psychopathy.
  • Significant shock and traumatic experiences i.e. abuse (physical/ sexual), early hospitalization, sudden loss of an intimate person, traffic accidents
  • Repeated abuse, incest, repeated physical abuse during upbringing, torture etc.
  • Imbalance after other treatments or spiritual experiences
  • Incomprehensible or unresolved extrasensory experiences

Our evaluation of the above is based both on the Bodymap and on knowledge from the interview and from the evaluation of the contact with the client

Personality description based on the Bodymap

A personality description based on a Bodymap is based on a series of different, partly overlapping, analyses. These analyses have 3 categories.

  • A general evaluation of the client and the most beneficial psycho-therapeutic treatment form
  • An evaluation of the present level of function of the client (in Bodynamic Analysis this means an assessment of different ego functions)
  • An estimation of the development of the personality of the client (in Bo dynamic Analysis this implies an assessment of the Character structure of the client)

The analyses of ego functions and of Character structure are overlapping and each has a different focus. We work simultaneously with both and how they influence each other.

  • A general evaluation of the client and the most beneficial psychotherapeutic treatment form.

From the balance between hyper-, hypo-, and neutral muscle responses in the Bodymap you can estimate the major personality structure of the client and the directions for the most appropriate psychotherapy.

When you use a Bodymap as a starting point for a Bodynamic psychotherapy process you have information about a) the clients ability to function in daily life during a psychotherapy process, b) a superior categorizing of the ego structures of the client (which make it possible to estimate if the ego structure is neurotic, psychotic, borderline or characterized by intense shock experiences), and c) an evaluation of the client’s ability to plan, sense his body and maintain emotional control. These go into evaluating which kind of psychotherapy will be relevant for the client, and whether you have to pay attention to specific conditions during the treatment. (You will find a detailed description of this evaluation in Appendix 1.)

An evaluation of the present level of function of the client (in Bodynamic Analysis this means an assessment of different ego functions)

The analysis of the ego structure is based on a careful mapping of the muscles and their connection with different personality functions. This mapping has been researched and developed by Lisbeth Marcher and her colleagues over the last 25 years. Based on this mapping we are now able to give a precise description of the client’s resources and restraints in connection to a long series of intrapsychic personality functions, and in connection to a series of interaction skills in relation to other people. (You can find a more detailed description of this evaluation in Appendix 2.)

An estimation of the development of the personality of the client (in Bodynamic Analysis this implies an assessment of the Character structure of the client)

The analysis of the client’s personality development is described in Bodynamic Analysis as Character development. It includes having healthy, stiff, or undeveloped patterns of experience and behavior characteristic of a series of different age levels. The analysis is based on a precise mapping of those specific muscles that are connected with different personality functions. This research, like the mapping of the ego functions, has been done by Lisbeth Marcher and her colleagues over the last 25 years.

Additional information can be obtained by a reading of a series of specific muscle responses related to shock (PTSD), and/or traumatizing experiences around his birth time. (You can find a more detailed description of this estimation in Appendix 3.)


Based on the reading of the test it is possible to assess whether and how it is possible to work with this client. Will it be possible to work through the difficulties in a problem oriented or characterological therapy – or a form of compensation therapy or substitution therapy? Depending upon the client’s desires and goals, his economic and practical situation, along with the test reading, it is possible to make a contract with the client. This contract will include what to work with and an estimate of how long the therapy might take.

It is important that you as a therapist estimates if you can work with the difficulties or problems of the client. Can you as a therapist/human being take a stand concerning these problems? Do you have the knowledge and personal resources for this? Do you have the time it takes? Do you want to be in the transference relationship it takes? Do you want to work with this client? It is important that you are honest with yourself. Exactly how you report your decision to the client, and whom you choose not to work with is a more individual matter.

Treatment plan

The preparation of a treatment plan requires a detailed estimation of the client’s difficulties and resources – both a functional analytic Bodymap interpretation and a character structure analysis – and an estimation of the present life situation and motivation of the client.

Another important factor is an estimation of the client’s body awareness and habits of interpersonal contact, both in his life and as a client. If these abilities are poorly developed it is necessary to focus the therapy work on them, before deeper regressive work can take place.

Similarly, it is necessary to build up or improve a social network if it does not exist – preferably at the beginning of and at least at the same time as the therapy process. Having fairly functional friendships is a necessary condition for being able to work with and integrate deeper regressive material.

Making a treatment plan involves deciding which themes the client has to work with, and the optimal order to in which to work with them. Finally, you have to estimate when in the process it is best to work with problem-oriented psychotherapy, characterological psychotherapy, or with shock issues.

Test reading and presentation for the client

In Bodynamic Analysis the therapist and client makes a contract concerning the structure (time, place, duration, money, etc.) and content of the therapeutic process. After the Bodymap has been made, the test and the interpretation of the test – including the problems – will be part of a conversation between therapist and client about the contract. It is seldom important that the therapist report all details about the interpretations and hypothesis he gets from working with the Bodymap.

It is important to discuss with the client the most important perspectives of the therapist concerning the therapy process (based on 2A, above). Besides this, it is important to tell something about what the Bodymap more precisely indicates about the client. When you analyze a Bodymap, you get an analysis of both ego functions and character structure. Then you have to consider which of these two points of view will have more meaning for the client, in light of goals in therapy and his personality structure.

An analysis of ego functions is often the best starting point for a dialogue with the client. A description from this point of view often is closest to his own understanding of himself. An analysis of ego functions is easiest to share with a client who is not very aware of theory. It gives a concrete, “here and now”, description that is a good starting point for making a contract about present-time therapy (here-and-now) or problem-oriented therapy.
An analysis of the character structure can be hard to understand or comprehend for clients with no knowledge of the developmental theory of Bodynamic Analysis, or who do not have a well-developed observing ego. A character structure analysis of- ten makes more sense for the therapist, since it gives a picture of the resources and patterns of defense. It is also a good basis for predicting the transference of the client. It can be of lesser relevance to share this interpretation with the client, especially if you deal with present-time therapy or problem oriented therapy.
In any case, before a test reading of the Bodymap to a client it is important to:

a) estimate what it is most appropriate to communicate; what is of relevance and how much do you think the client can cope with.
b) to check what the client is interested in knowing, and how much time he wants to spend doing this.

Appendix 1. A general evaluation of the client and the most beneficial psychotherapeutic treatment form.

Evaluation of the client’s ability to function in daily life during a therapy process.

1.1 The muscle response of the posture muscles.

In referring to posture muscles we primarily mean m. semispinalis, m. erector Spinae , m. semitendinosus and m. soleus; and secondarily m. quadriceps femoris medialis and m. rectus abdominus. The first muscles are active posture muscles Semitendinosus in a normal standing position. The last ones are activated as alternative to m. in specific postures (hanging forward with the belly).

The response pattern of the posture muscles reflects the ability of the person to keep standing on his own, from his own resources (and by doing that providing a starting point for his activity and energy).

If you have hypo-responsive posture, muscles this means that this part of the personality does not function automatically and is not integrated. You can expect the person, consciously or unconsciously, to use willpower to function. Hypo-responsive muscle posture muscles often indicate that during the therapy process the client will experience a disruption in their life. They may get overwhelmed by emotions and sensations, or lose energy and power to act. Thus, over short periods of time, they will experience difficulties in their daily functioning. In these cases it is important to make certain that the client has enough good friends (social network), or you must help the client to build a network. You must advise the client that such experiences may occur during the process, and discuss ways to handle the possible difficulties.

Neutral or light hyper-response (that we call Al) in the posture muscles are interpreted differently depending on whether the Bodymap in general is “light” or “dark”. If you deal with a light Bodymap, this response indicates that the client is relatively healthy. If you deal with a darker Bodymap, the response indicates problems concerning “standing on your own”, or “feeling powerless in relation to life”. In general, the darker the Bodymap, no matter if it is mostly hypo- or hyper-responsive muscles – the more problematic it will be with a light or neutral muscle response in the posture muscles. A Bodymap has to be very light (N, A1 or B1) before you can consider neutral or light hyper-responsive muscle response in the posture muscles to be healthy and appropriate.

For most people in our culture it is most appropriate to have hyper-responsive (A2 and A3) responses in the posture muscles. This hyper-response indicates that the person can stand on his own without much conscious effort, even under harsh conditions, although at times with some rigidity. If the pattern is more hyper-responsive than this (primarily A3 and A4) it indicates a major rigidity. If the Bodymap in general is dominated by dark hyper-responsive responses work with “letting go” will be an important element in the therapy. If the Bodymap in general is light, it is important to respect the hyper-responsive posture muscles, meaning not to provoke them to change their elasticity. Here you should help the client consciously train to stabilize the tension of the musculature. In these cases, the tension often serves as a part of a defense against “shock experiences”, or “holes” under a seemingly healthy personality.

1.2 The muscle response in m. serratus anterior

This muscle is mapped in three places at each side of the body, so you get six different test results. M. serratus anterior reflects early aspects of reaching out for contact. A hypo-responses in these muscles reflects problems concerning connectedness and contact at a very deep level (bonding).

If one of the test places is B2 and the others are B1, it is a warning sign – and if at least two of the test places are B2, we regard the person as vulnerable to psychosis. This means that as part of a deeper regressive psychotherapy process the person cannot avoid having psychotic experiences. This does not necessarily mean that the person either gets psychotic in a psychiatric diagnostic sense or has to be hospitalized during the therapy process. Yet, it does mean that the person’s ability to make a deep bonding contact is relatively “given up”, with the result that the ego structure of the person and his ability to “reality-test” is weakened.

If this is the case, it certain guidelines govern therapeutic process: Building up good relationships (social network) is mandatory; the therapy work must be slow and non-provoking. You should build up the ego structure and focus on body awareness, especially body sensations of the physical body. You should dialogue beforehand with the client, alerting him that he may experience so-called psychotic experiences, and also informing him of their possible meaning in such a way that they become demystified.

The Ego structures of the client

The evaluation of the ego functions of the client primarily comes from an evaluation of the balance in the Bodymap (between hyper- and hypo-responses; between different degrees of responses; between different sides and parts of the body) and the following signs.

2.1 Estimation of different degrees of hyper- and hyporesponses in the Bodymap

This general evaluation shows the relative degree of health in the client. Normally when most responses are functional muscle responses (Al, B1 or neutral N), a Bodymap indicates relative health, except when you are dealing with a person with a dominant existence structure, or a history of drug abuse. A Bodymap where most responses are A2 or B2’s is very common, and rarely indicates any serious pathology. A Bodymap with a lot of nonfunctional or dysfunctional muscle responses (A3,B3,A4 and B4’s) always indicates serious problems: a) in the direction of serious neurosis, if dominated by hyper-responsive muscle responses; b) in the direction of psychosis or psychosis-threatened, if dominated by hypo-responsive muscle responses; or, c) in the direction of borderline, if the muscle responses are balanced or if they are both very dark hyper- and hypo-responsive muscles.

In general, a Bodymap dominated by hyper-responsiveness (a “red” test) indicates a client whose primary mechanism of defense is holding back. A Bodymap dominated by hypo-responsiveness (a “blue” test) indicates a client who primarily uses resignation as a mechanism of defense.

The possibilities for treatment and the useful treatment forms available are different depending on the nature of the client. In general: a) with a healthy, normal, balanced client you can use many different methods; b) with a neurotic and/or restrained client you work to have them understand the defense in a conscious way and to let go of it, sometimes using confrontation; c) with a psychotic/psychosis threatened and/or resigned client you have to work with support and strengthening the observing ego, in order to mobilize the clients resources. Less confrontation is used.

2.2 Estimation of the balance between left and right sides in the Bodymap.

Generally speaking the left side shows the clients possibilities for experiencing, and his contact with his own emotions, and the right side shows the clients possibilities for actions.

Dominating hyper- and/or hypo-responsive muscles on the left side indicate that it may be difficult for the person to experience how situations and interactions with other people affects him. This might be experienced as inner emptiness or lack of emotions. If the right side is more neutral/normal, the person still can act and function in interactions without major problems. The main problem is the diminished experience of his own reactions and emotions, and the meaning of the interaction.

Dominating hyper- and/or hypo-responsive muscles on the right side indicate that it may be difficult for the person to act and express himself in interaction with other people. If, at the same time, the left side is more neutral/normal, the person can easily experience his own reactions and emotions, and the importance of the interaction. He will have problems acting relevantly in relation to others and his own emotions.
In the first case, an important theme of the psychotherapy will be to feel and sense his own experiences and emotions. In the second case, a central theme will be to work with acting and expressing oneself in relation to others.

2.3 Estimation of the degree of symmetry in the Bodymap.

When we talk about symmetry in a Bodymap, we mean that the responses of the muscles in the left and right sides are identical – both left and right m. deltoideus anterior are “B2”, left and right m. brachialis are both “A2” etc. Different degrees of symmetry and asymmetry can exist in a Bodymap.

If there is a high degree of symmetry between the left and right sides, the client is likely to be less aware of his problems. When experiences and actions corresponds to each other, as in this case, you experience your options (in a given area) as non- problematic or natural. Seen from outside, this corresponds to the person having a character structure they do not recognize as such. There will often be limited understanding of the importance or the contact functions in question, or of the possibilities of being able to change in that area.

It is more difficult to treat a symmetrical structure than an asymmetrical, since the latter is much more aware of the problems in the contact with himself and others. If a client has a very symmetrical structure, he will have to spend time understanding and acknowledging the problems he has in relations with others (being conscious about the restraining form of the structure). This often leads to situations where, for a period of time during the therapy process, the client will function less effectively (with more problems) in relation to others. This necessitates high motivation in the client, and it is important to inform him about these problems before and during the therapy process. This will ensure that the client does not believe that this necessary process is a sign that the therapy is making him worse.

In a Bodymap that is asymmetrical, it is possible to find lesser areas with symmetrical muscles – i.e. certain body parts with symmetrical muscle responses. The tendency here will be the same, but of course in a less radical degree.

The client’s ability to plan on his own.

The muscle response of galea aponeurotica, on the back of the head, reflects the person’s ability to plan and act according to his own planning.

A hyper-response in the left side indicates that it is difficult for the person to consider own emotions and needs in his planning. A hypo-response indicates that he gives up making space for them in his planning. A hyper-response in the right side indicates that it is difficult for the person to be flexible when carrying out his plans and a hypo-response indicates that it is difficult for the person to stick to his plans and act on them.

In general, hyper-tonic muscle responses indicate rigidity in planning and a lack of ability to plan according to your own needs and emotions. Neutral or light muscle responses indicates a healthy ability to plan, and hypo-tonic muscle responses indicate a loose, disconnected, or unbounded planning.

The client’s ability to plan is important in the contact between the therapist and the client, in his ability to work with his contract/homework, in his ability to make his daily life function while being in a regressive therapy process, and in his ability to use his willpower to act and get new experiences.

The client’s relation to his own body and his own strength.

The “muscle responses” of the tendons on the top of the head show the persons experience of his own body and his relation to his own body and power.

If the muscle responses are A2 , B2 or darker, it will be important to work with strengthening his body awareness or heightening the sense of his own power(depending on the kind of muscle response).

The client’s emotional control.

The breathing musculature in the chest and abdomen, along with the diaphragm, determine the emotional control in the structure of the client.

Hyper-responsive muscles indicates restricted emotions or emotional expressions, and hypo-responsive muscles indicates emotional flooding or resignation. If the client is dominated by restriction, it is appropriate to work with emotional release techniques. If the client is dominated by flooding or impulsivity, then a high degree of structure, support, and understanding will be necessary in the working with their emotional reactions.

Specific personality problems revealed through the Bodymap.

“Crisp” muscle responses (hyper-tonic muscle responses that give in when touched, like a crunchy surface that breaks when pressure is building up) indicate psychotic or borderline elements in the ego structure. It is important here to work with strengthening the ego and work in a non-provoking way.

Normally the relaxation of a hypertonic muscle relaxing is connected to breathing out, and a hypotonic muscle getting more tone is connected to breathing in. When you find muscle responses where the normal connection between respiration movement and changes in muscle response is absent, it indicates psychopathic features with roots in the prenatal period. If many of these responses are present in a Bodymap, Bodynamic Analysis is not directly appropriate for the client. Therapy with this kind of clients is quite special.

If while testing hyper- and hypo-responsive muscles you pick up vibrations during palpation with the fingers, we call these muscles “active”. They are connected with presently activated life tasks, with difficulties and problems in the actual situation. If such muscle responses are dominating in the Bodymap, it is advisable to work with the corresponding activated issues before others.

Appendix 2. An evaluation of the present level of function of the client (in Bodynamic Analysis this means an assessment of different ego functions).

The interpretations are based on the following theory of connections between muscle responses and conscious, pre-conscious and unconscious psychological patterns:

N: neutral. In general this indicates a healthy or resourced ability.
B1/A1: often conscious or easy to make conscious, fairly flexible patterns in di rections of resignation/restriction.
B2/A2: patterns that normally are unconscious, except sometimes when just used. They are more rigid patterns of resignation/restriction. It is possible to make these patterns conscious. If you tell a person he did so and so, he will not remember at first, but then slowly it comes back. In this way, the patterns are pre-conscious.
B3/A3: Unconscious patterns of resignation/restriction, that are often difficult to make conscious
B4/A4: Deeply unconscious patterns – if there is any consciousness about them at all, they are experienced as unchanging, “that’s the way I am”, with no felt possibility for changes.
B3/A3 and B4/A4 patterns often come to awareness, when others comment on them. They are seldom conscious from one’s own observing ego.

At level 1 it is possible to describe the client’s functioning at the present time. This is the starting point from which he desires change.

By interpreting the Bodymap, you can give a description of the resources and difficulties of the person. This is described from the following 10 ego functions or categories of functioning of the human being.

  • Connectedness
  • Posture
  • Centering
  • Boundaries
  • Reality testing
  • Balances
  • Cognitive skills
  • Management of energy
  • Self-expression
  • Habits of interpersonal contact

At level 2 you can differentiate the specific muscles that belong to each main category. They are affected in specific age levels (or character structures) and based on the Bodynamic theory you can then:

  • first of all, give an interpretation as to which part of the development of an ego function has been insufficient, stopped, or completed. This can give you ideas concerning the age-level you have to go back to in therapy in order to further develop the ego functions,
  • secondly (from the typical defense connected to age/character structure) you can get information about how to work,
  • thirdly, you can get ideas about how to start work with the problems using the body.

Appendix 3. An estimation of the development of the personality of the client (in Bodynamic Analysis this implies an assessment of the Character structure of the client).

The analysis of the personality development of the client – in Bodynamic Analysis called character formation (i.e. acquisition of healthy, rigid or undeveloped experience- and behavior patterns connected to a series of different age levels) is based on a precise mapping of which muscles in the body are connected to which personality functions. This mapping – like the mapping of the ego functions – has been developed by Lisbeth Marcher and her colleagues during many years of research.

You can find a description of the development theory of Bodynamic Analysis and the different character structures in two articles (Waking the Body ego 1 and 2) by Bernhardt, Bentzen, and Isaacs (1996-97) and an earlier one by Bentzen, Jorgensen and Marcher (1992).

In the Bodynamic character structure model, there are seven developmental stages. These stages overlap each other in ages. For each stage, a person may occupy one of three positions: an early position dominated by resignation; a late position dominated by control; and a resourced position distinguished by flexibility. The seven stages or character structures are named after their ongoing main themes:

Existence 2nd trimester – 3 months old
Need birth – 1 year 6 months
Autonomy 8 month – 2 years 6 months
Will 2 years – 4 years
Love-sexuality 3 years – 6 years
Opinion 5 years – 9 years
Solidarity-performance 7 years – 12 years

You can also determine whether the muscle responses that are connected to each developmental stage indicate that the person has been exposed to general traumatizing through the period, or if the difficulties seems to be caused by occasional shock traumas at the age in question or later. It sometimes is possible to determine that the major disruptive influence does not come from developmental problems during childhood (before the teen years), but appears to be reinforced or created later in life (either in the teens or in adulthood).

Evaluation of a series of specific muscle responses gives information about the characteristics of the client from shock and/or traumatizing experiences at the time around his birth (perinatal).

Level 1: A description of the character structures includes a description of which resources and defense patterns are characteristic for the person (character positions); how flexible or shut down (locked) they are; the degree of character structure/shock; which transference will typically be presented; which life themes are strained and where the resources are.

Level 1 makes it possible to describe the emotional themes of the client in interactions with others, and the related resources /defense patterns; and to see which age levels/character positions can be worked with in psychotherapy and physically.

Level 2: Within each character structure you can deepen the work by bringing in the knowledge of the ego functions: which functions are influenced and how. Of course, this makes it possible to find different parts that may be worked on in connection with the work of a character structure.

Bodynamic Institute, Denmark, 1997, copyright


  • Bentzen, M., Jorgensen, S., & Marcher, L: The BODYnamic Character Structure Model. In Energy and Character, Volume 20, No. 1, april 1989. Corrections in volume 21, No. 1, april 1990.
  • Bernhardt, P., Bentzen, M. & Isaacs, J.: Waking the Body Ego, Parts 1 & 2. Originally published in the journal “Energy and Character” 1996 and 1997 and reprinted in the book “Embodying the Mind & Minding the Body” edited by Ian Macnaughton, published by Integral Press, Vancouver: 1997.
  • Bunkan, B. & Sundsvold, M. analyse af palpation som undersøgelsesteknik. Problemer ved palpation af muskulatur. Fysioterapeuten, 38. årgang, 1971 .
  • Killaingmo, B.: Rorschachmetode og psykoterapi. Universitetsforlaget, Oslo: 1980.
  • Ollars, L.: Muskelpalpationstests pålidelighed. Own print, Copenhagen: 1980.
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2017-12-29T21:37:29+00:00 October 20th, 2017|Bodymap|