This section is from the book "Melting Armour: Some Notes On Self-Help Reichian Therapy", by William West. Also available from Amazon: Melting Armour: Some Notes On Self-Help Reichian Therapy.
Reich's theory of the segmental nature of the armour is a basic element in Reichian therapy and understanding how our armouring works in segments and how to undo it is a vital part of the therapy. Reichian work 'head downwards' i.e. from the ocular segment down (see diagram,) but this isn't a rigid approach as there is a need for spontaneous work once things start to move. The best guide is to take what's closest to the surface. Once your client is calm again once more work head downwards. Listen for where the sounds are trapped in discharge or for a sign of where the energy is blocked—clenched muscles, etc., and help free it if you can (e.g. neck massage, or sometimes merely saying to your client "You are holding the sound in your throat.", or get them to say "AAAAAAAAAAH" which often opens the throat). After discharge check whether all the segments involved in the discharge are now looser, or did some energy trap at say the neck or in the jaw.
Reich's beautiful, moving, and indeed poetic chapter in 'Character Analysis' called 'The Segmental Nature of the Armour' is well worth reading and re-reading, also Elsworth F.
Baker's 'Man in the Trap' - 'Armouring' chapter, an update of Reich's chapter. Reich's 'Function of the Orgasm' which has a chapter on 'The Orgasm Reflex and the Techniques of Character-Analytic Vegetotherapy' is very useful as well.
What follows are brief notes on some of the techniques involving the segments that I use. Some of these are very powerful techniques and must be used cautiously, with sensitivity and love.
The Seven Segments of the Body
OCULAR: expressed in tightness around the eyes, a flat forehead, and a tight scalp. Do Reichian massage of the scalp, forehead, around the eyes and over the cheekbones, giving extra attention to any tight spots. While so doing maintain eye contact and look for changes of expression in and around the eyes (especially the eyebrows) and comment on what you see, trying to get them to own up to and to put a word to the feeling involved. Also watch their breathing which is likely to go shallow when a feeling is about to come up. If they seem anxious get them to open their eyes wide and make a sound "AAAAH". Look for yearning and softness to appear in the eyes. For deeper work use the finger movement exercise, again watching their breathing. The eyes often 'give away' deep feelings especially softer ones which aren't always ready to come up, and it is very useful to watch the eyes, indeed give eye contact as much as possible while working elsewhere. In the Ocular segment we find crying, fear, suspicion, mistrust, pleasure, longing, held back. The forehead is said to be the realm of the Superego and often negative stuff about the self will be held there, especially in a tight thoughtful forehead which Reich often saw as a defence against wishing to masturbate.
ORAL: tight jaw, mouth, throat. The jaw is an important area for holding back emotions, especially of anger and crying Help your client to breathe out through their mouth, holding the jaw open if necessary. Manipulate the jaw, move it open and closed and side to side to see how loose it is, knead it and go with any discharge that occurs. Also look at what they say how they say it, and what they don't say, and watch for and stop them if they are talking too much to avoid feeling. Most people have angry biting—use a towel or a cushion—and often a desire to suck—use the edge of your hand or a finger.
Also work on the 'sour milk' muscles -those lines from the nose to the corner of the mouth which usually indicate a feeding disturbance.
An extra tight jaw can be loosened by holding it closed and getting them to try and open it, growling at the same time, or hold it open and get them to close it—but do this carefully and with consent. Another deep spot is working either just below the cheek bones where energy often sticks and also inside the jaw where the lower jaw connects to the face—work in on the muscle there forcing the jaw open. It can help to hold this last one for a while. For one of my clients it was the only way through to deep breathing after the discharge involved. Jaw work can produce gagging and very occasionally vomiting. It is often quite threatening. People will feel under attack and will often get angry -treat it therapeutically (!). Sometimes just touching the jaw will produce angry tears. Either way unless the jaw is somewhat loosened it will be hard to get anything out in the session.
If your client resists the work and they have a proper expression on their face get them to pull faces and to express the sound that goes with it -disgust, contempt, or whatever. The gag reflex can loosen the jaw and the throat and it is particularly useful if you notice your client is swallowing feelings but it is a strongish technique and there will be a fear of vomiting which in fact will only rarely occur from gagging.
Note that the oral segment can only give if the ocular one is sufficiently loose, so maybe recheck the ocular segment and also be aware of conflicting emotions in the two segments -typically a softness and sadness in the ocular segment with determination around the jaw not to give in to this feeling.
CERVICAL: Massage on the neck muscles especially those running from shoulders to neck (special attention at the point at the top of the spinal column), the band of muscles beside the spinal column in the neck, especially at the base of the skull, and the muscles up to where the lower jaw meets the face. Careful light pressure at the front of the neck can help, but be careful working anywhere near the windpipe. Taking the weight of the head from side to side and up and down can help relax the muscles, also stretching the neck. People sometimes want to bang their heads against a pillow to loosen their necks. Crying, anger and fear are held in the cervical segment and a different strength of massage and approach will be needed for each. Sometimes when people won't express anger or rage they draw energy into the neck region from their hands and arms and it often sounds like they are being throttled, which is their way of defending against a desire to throttle someone else. If this happens—and another sign is often cold hands, again showing removal of energy—get them to grip a pillow and throttle it, and encourage them to let angry sounds come out.
They will often need a lot of verbal encouragement, i.e. feed them the sound you think they are trying to make, also vigorous neck massage will help. This reluctance to be angry is often involved in asthma, and if you ask your client you will often find some sort of breathing or throat problem going back a number of years.
THORACIC: We do some brief work on the chest at the start of a session to get the breathing going, and also at points during the session when the breathing goes shallow. In an alive person there is a lot of power and strength of a natural kind in the chest segment, also tenderness and love. In an armoured person the chest can hold back anger, sobbing (heartbreak) and a longing, a need to reach out to the world, to give and to receive. Check for any 'hidden' sounds at the end of the outbreath and ask them to let the sound build up. Find any ticklish or tense spots, particularly in the pectoral muscles and irritate them till they discharge. Ticklishness is often a sign of overcharge. See how they are holding their shoulders—usually tight—are they too high, forced down, held back or forward and work on the muscles involved, particularly around the shoulder blades. Also work on their arms, and look for the need for movement in the arms, to maybe express anger or to hold, etc. If you are aware of their resistance, especially when pressing on the chest to hold their breathing, get them to express it, e.g. by saying "I won't" or perhaps push down on their hands, and get them to resist, or hold their shoulders down. Look for any involuntary movements in the hands and arms and encourage them to develop the move. There is also quite a painful spot on the breast bone between the breasts, but this is a very powerful spot and should be used carefully—often people can't handle what it brings and will cut off from it. It can help in any segment to get people to talk about how they feel about that part of their body and this often works well with the chest. If you turn your client over later on in the session you'll often find anger bound up in the shoulder blades.
Note also that the arms are included in this segment. Getting people to express themselves with their arms is very important. Reaching out with longing and love, hitting out with anger, holding close and crying, etc. So often people don't express themselves through their arms.