There are two types of Armoring:
- Natural, temporary muscular contraction
- Permanent, chronic muscular contraction
Natural Temporary Armoring occurs in amoeba (as they withdraw from painful stimuli) and any animal when it is threatened, but goes away when the threat is gone.
Permanent, Chronic Armoring also starts with a threat, but because of continued threats is maintained and becomes chronic. It then remains when the threat is gone, reacting to permanent inner dangers rather than external threats in the environment. Often, the adult sustains this chronic, unconscious habitual defense to a childhood threat that has long been gone.
Armor includes contraction of all tissues, but primarily the muscles. Amoring is caused by the necessity of the child to conform to unnatural attitudes and training conditions of the parents. The muscular contraction allows the child to hold back it's desires. Armored parents raise armored children. Pleasurable situations yield decreased armoring. Painful stimuli yield increased armoring. The specific type of armor reinforced determines the specific type of character that develops. Therefore, it can be referred to as character armor.
With severe armoring, one only tolerates contraction, and experiences terror when significant expansion and movement occur. Reich called this terror around loss of control the “terror of being.”
Repression yields armoring of a functional group of muscles. A child has rage at unkind, early toilet training. In an anxious effort to please his demanding parent, he contracts the muscles of the buttocks and pelvic floor. From fear of punishment, natural impulses (id) are stifled and repressed.
The child's ego is strengthened, because the natural impulses are controlled by the armoring. The armored muscle tissues contain memory of a traumatic event, and this memory can reappear when the muscles are mobilized. An example of this is the unexpected emotional response or recall of a suppressed memory that occurs with Rolfing or other deep tissue mobilization. Armor is there to hold back, assist the child to conform, and theoretically to reduce anxiety. The armor says "no" to surrendering to natural impulses.
In this example, if the contraction of the buttock and pelvic floor muscles becomes permanent chronic armoring, then as an adult this person will be unable to surrender to the natural impulses and pelvic movements of orgasm. If a male, the chronic muscular contraction could lead to prostate conditions resulting from decreased blood circulation and inhibition of energy flow and discharge of energy.