Reichian Character Structures – The Oral Structure

Jun 20, 2018
Anam Kat

The Oral Structure

by Kat Langer & Prema McKeever


During the first couple of years of a child’s life, they are completely dependent on their primary caregiver (usually the mother) to fulfill their basic needs for food, comfort and affection. Ideally in this phase the child learns to trust that their basic needs will be fully met when expressed, leaving them feeling relaxed, happy and satisfied. Different circumstances may lead to the caregiver being unable to adequately fulfill these needs during this stage, such as the mother being ill, exhausted or otherwise unavailable for the child. This in turn leaves the child feeling anxious and their nervous system unable to relax back into a state of calm. Over time, the message the child picks up is that it is not safe to ask, or that asking may in fact lead to them feeling worse, and with that the child gradually loses trust that their mother (or indeed anyone) can meet their needs. The difficulty arises if later in life a person becomes stuck in this sense of deprivation and continues to rely on others to fill them up, leading to a pattern which Wilhelm Reich refers to as the “Oral Structure”, also known as the “Needy Child”.

An important part of a child’s development is the internal connection to their own body signals and messages. This includes recognizing core needs like food, sleep, attention, touch and time alone. The child doesn’t feel these as separate needs but rather as a discomfort in their body. Infants learn through attuned attention to actually identify what their needs are and start to develop the felt sense of satiation. For the Oral character structure, this attuned attention to needs didn’t happen enough. If needs are not met the discomfort in their body continues and grows to pain, and the natural response to this chronic situation is to lose contact with the body.  As an adult this leads to an inability to identify needs and a disconnect from the felt sense of satiation, the ability to relax, and to receive.

Their early experience of Not-Getting-Enough weaves itself as a theme through their adult relationships, in which this person stays focused on the other in an attempt to seek fulfilment from the outside, rather than through their own internal resources. Feelings of emptiness and longing at the core of their body are avoided through an external focus on connection with others, leaving them disconnected from their own feelings and needs. This person will often appear needless and express themselves through selfless action as they become very attuned to others’ feeling states and skillful at pleasing others and fulfilling their needs. This type is generally very heart-centered and generous, sensitive and compassionate. They are good listeners, helpful and supportive and will often take on caring roles in their professional and private lives. When in the gifts of this pattern, this person will experience an abundance of love, joy and happiness in their lives, as well as an ability to genuinely comfort and uplift others.

The oral character structure can therefore take on two very different patterns – that of an outwardly needy person who sucks on others’ energy, or a pattern whereby the person compensates their neediness by becoming needless and focusing on the needs of others. The latter expression is commonly referred to as the “compensated oral structure” and this person may in fact appear extremely self-sufficient with an underlying belief that they do not need anyone or anything, relying completely on themselves. This is similar to and may play out through strategies displayed by later developmental structures, such as the need to control and manipulate others (Psychopathic Structure), carrying the burden of taking care of others resentfully (Masochistic Structure), or the need to be perfect and highly successful (Rigid Structure). Regardless of their expression, the oral type is ruled by an underlying fear of abandonment, isolation and a strong resentment at not being held and nourished. Consequently, they have difficulty expressing their anger in a healthy way for fear of being rejected and cut off from others.

The body of this person tends to develop much like the body of an infant, with a sunken chest and soft, rounded shoulders slumping downwards and inwards to protect the heart. The hands and feet are small in relation to the rest of the body which will appear as lacking energy and strength, with the musculature being under-developed and flaccid. This person will often be too thin or too fat and energetically imbalanced, appearing not grounded and connected with the earth. Their head may be thrown forward with large outward-focused eyes and full lips reaching out for nourishment. They will give the impression of being weak and depressed, and unable to stand up for themselves. Their protective posture prevents them from breathing fully and feeling their core which is where they feel empty and helpless.

In a therapeutic context, this person needs to learn to acknowledge and claim their own needs, experience how it is to ask and to take in and feel satisfied on the level of their body’s felt sense. They need to be encouraged to express their needs and also be validated in their expression of strong emotions, particularly in their anger, without collapsing into sadness and depression. Touch is an important tool to give them a sense of being met and nourished, and this type will often crave physical connection through touch. However, their tendency to merge with others and dissolve in connection leaves them with weak energetic boundaries, so it is also essential for them to learn to feel themselves in their bodies without relying on others. Focus on grounding techniques and on feeling their core will help this type to stand on their own two feet and to feel energised from within themselves. Importantly, they need to feel entitled to having needs without feeling ashamed, guilty or anxious and find ways to nourish and comfort themselves.

These clients will often present a challenge to their therapist for their tendency to become dependent and suck energy from others. It is therefore just as important for the therapist to have clear boundaries and internal resources when working with an oral person, and notice any tendency to be sucked into their client’s field or feeling depleted by them.  Conversely, many people with this structure become therapists or other helping professionals.  For them it is important to be aware of when the pattern to take care of others to the detriment of your own boundaries may be kicking in.  This can show up as feeling overly exhausted after working with someone or working too much but also not having the ability to say “enough” and give yourself the care and nourishment you give others.

Related Articles

The BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release System® 6-Element approach empowers your body’s natural process for healing.

Created specifically for those interested in improving their ability to sense and interact with what’s happening within their own bodies, our PERSONAL GROWTH & HEALING curriculum focuses on personal experience. Treat yourself to a journey of communion and healing.

Our professional curriculum is tailored for individuals from a wide variety of specialties—or those interested in new beginnings—who wish to offer BBTRS to clients and/or groups. Add to your existing practice or start one now!

Our Special Skills Courses guide participants through an embodiment practice using breath, felt sense, and movement and bring awareness to the physical sensations and feeling states throughout the entire body.

BBTRS® practitioners create a safe setting to breathe, sense your body, and explore feelings in a productive way. You’ll be supported to learn how to identify and connect with your own internal resources, which you can turn to for support and comfort whenever necessary.

In these online, home-practice courses, BBTRS® Faculty Members personally guide Practitioners and Facilitators through the Biodynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release System to fully experience its transformative effects.

©2023 - Biodynamic Breathwork | All right reserved

Privacy Policy

Effective date: October 16, 2018

The BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release Institute operates the website.

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data when you use our Service and the choices you have associated with that data. Our Privacy Policy for BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release Institute is managed through Free Privacy Policy.

We use your data to provide and improve the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms and Conditions, accessible from

Information Collection And Use

We collect several different types of information for various purposes to provide and improve our Service to you.

Types of Data Collected

Personal Data

While using our Service, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you (“Personal Data”). Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Email address
  • First name and last name
  • Phone number
  • Address, State, Province, ZIP/Postal code, City
  • Cookies and Usage Data

Usage Data

We may also collect information how the Service is accessed and used (“Usage Data”). This Usage Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol address (e.g. IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

Tracking & Cookies Data

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our Service and hold certain information.

Cookies are files with small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a website and stored on your device. Tracking technologies also used are beacons, tags, and scripts to collect and track information and to improve and analyze our Service.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Service.

Examples of Cookies we use:

  • Session Cookies. We use Session Cookies to operate our Service.
  • Preference Cookies. We use Preference Cookies to remember your preferences and various settings.
  • Security Cookies. We use Security Cookies for security purposes.

Use of Data

The BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release Institute uses the collected data for various purposes:

  • To provide and maintain the Service
  • To notify you about changes to our Service
  • To allow you to participate in interactive features of our Service when you choose to do so
  • To provide customer care and support
  • To provide analysis or valuable information so that we can improve the Service
  • To monitor the usage of the Service
  • To detect, prevent and address technical issues

Transfer Of Data

Your information, including Personal Data, may be transferred to — and maintained on — computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including Personal Data, to United States and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

The BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release Institute will take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your Personal Data will take place to an organization or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

Disclosure Of Data

Legal Requirements

The BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release Institute may disclose your Personal Data in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to:

  • To comply with a legal obligation
  • To protect and defend the rights or property of BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release Institute
  • To prevent or investigate possible wrongdoing in connection with the Service
  • To protect the personal safety of users of the Service or the public
  • To protect against legal liability

Security Of Data

The security of your data is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Data, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Service Providers

We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate our Service (“Service Providers”), to provide the Service on our behalf, to perform Service-related services or to assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.


We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyze the use of our Service.

  • Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google uses the data collected to track and monitor the use of our Service. This data is shared with other Google services. Google may use the collected data to contextualize and personalize the ads of its own advertising network.You can opt-out of having made your activity on the Service available to Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on. The add-on prevents the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js, analytics.js, and dc.js) from sharing information with Google Analytics about visits activity.For more information on the privacy practices of Google, please visit the Google Privacy & Terms web page:

Links To Other Sites

Our Service may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.

Children’s Privacy

Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 (“Children”).

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Children has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes To This Privacy Policy

We may update our Privacy Policy from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our Service, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the top of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please:

  • Email us at
  • Submit our Contact Form

Terms and Confidentiality Agreement

Please make sure that you read the full text and that you agree with every detail mentioned here. It is very important that you confirm this agreement before attending any of our events.

By registering, I understand that I am required to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of demo clients and my fellow participant’s attendance regarding anything they’ve shared or processed.

By registering, I agree this will be a safe space of openness where cultural, historical, generational, societal, and personal differences are respected without verbal or physical judgment, criticism, or harm.

By registering, I am aware that recording equipment maybe be present during this workshop. If I ask a question my voice will be recorded and I may appear on video. This video may be posted on the Biodynamic Breathwork and Trauma Release™ website, YouTube, FaceBook, and other media outlets.
If I do not want to appear on video it is my responsibility to inform the course facilitators at the beginning of course. In this case I will not be videoed.

By registering, I understand that I may be presented with the opportunity to participate in a recorded demonstration session in front of the class. I understand that my participation is voluntary. We may pause or discontinue my participation at my discretion or the discretion of BBTRI course facilitator or another Faculty member. I acknowledge that demonstration sessions may include questions about my personal trauma history and/or my emotional and psychological states. My decision to reveal such information is entirely voluntary. I am under no obligation to share anything I do not want to.

II understand that the BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release Workshop & Training can be physically and emotionally intense. By registering, I agree that neither Alexander ‘Giten’ Tonkov, Biodynamic Breathwork and Trauma Release™ Institute, nor any of its staff, coordinators, assistants, faculty members, technicians, affiliates, the venue, or representatives have any responsibility or liability for physical or emotional harm, property loss or damage that may result from attendance at or travel to and from the Workshop and I hereby release them from all claims in connection with my attendance of this workshop.

I acknowledge that I am required to inform the staff about relevant psychiatric history, infectious diseases, drug use, and all present health conditions before participation in the training. I understand that no refunds are provided under any circumstance after the beginning of the workshop. I understand that BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release Institute (BBTRI) Staff reserve the right to request termination of my participation if I have not complied with all of the above guidelines, and/or if BioDynamic Breathwork and Trauma Release Institute’s staff deems it not suitable for me to continue at any point in the workshop.

Add Your Heading Text Here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.