According to Lise Bourbeau, all the inner demons we deal with come from five core wounds related to one of the parents (listed in the chronological order of arrival in a child’s life): rejection, abandonment, humiliation, betrayal, and injustice. The wounds are not necessarily caused by real-life events, what counts is how the experiences were perceived by the individual. People adopt mask personalities to endure the pain of their wounds: withdrawal, dependence, masochism, control, and rigidity. The ego creates these masks, believing that they protect the person from pain once it is activated. However, in reality, the masks maintain and feed the wounds. They need to be replaced with sustainable and mature mechanisms. The masks manifest themselves in the body and they can easily be observed in the physical properties of the person. In order to break free from the sorrows of the wound and the inauthenticity of the mask, the person has to go through a journey of self-acceptance and compassion.
Bourbeau describes the origin of our wounds as follows:
1 . Rejection: The “Withdrawal” mask
Rejection is the first wound in life. A child can feel rejected in their right to existence. This pattern can start even before birth if it is an unwanted pregnancy. The rejection wound is related to the same-sex parent and leads to the “Withdrawal” mask. The withdrawer feels worthless and has low self-esteem. They often feel misunderstood so they prefer loneliness and don’t like to draw attention to themselves. They are afraid to bother or bore others and they don’t talk much in a group. They have the feeling that their existence is a burden to others. The withdrawer adopts different escape mechanisms such as drugs, alcohol, sleep, daydreaming and virtual games. The material world is not very important to them, and they value the intellectual world instead. Their greatest fear is panic whereas their greatest need is establishing a sense of belonging. They can suffer from sexual difficulties. The fugitive has a weak, tense and small body with asymmetrical parts. They have a tendency to suffer from the following problems:’ “anorexia, skin problems, diarrhoea, arrhythmia, cancer, respiratory problems, allergies, low blood sugar, diabetes, depression”.
2. Abandonment: The “Dependent” mask
This wound originates during the ages of 1 to 3. This wound occurs when the child feels that they are deprived of good enough nourishment and support in their love-affection relationship with the same-sex parent. The abandonment wound causes the dependent mask. The dependent wants to rely on someone and looks for ways to draw attention. They cause drama to attract attention, and they want people to feel sorry for them. They are good at social life and close relationships. They can act as the victim or the saviour to attract more attention. They frequently feel drowned in their sadness without knowing the cause of it. They cry when they are alone and often feel sorry for themselves. They talk about themselves a lot. The dependent doesn’t like to make decisions on their own. They do favors for others hoping that the person will help them in the future in return. They have emotional ups and downs. According to the dependent, agreeing with the person is proof of their love. Their greatest fear is loneliness and their greatest need is attention. The body of the dependent is long and thin with weak legs and a curved back. They have big sad eyes. The dependent person can suffer from “back problems, asthma, bronchitis, migraines, low blood sugar, diabetes, agoraphobia, problems with adrenal glands, and depression”.
3. Humiliation: The “Masochist” mask
The humiliation wound wakes between the ages of one to three and it is associated with the primary caregiver who most of the time happens to be the mother. Children can feel shamed and degraded by their parents after experiencing sensual pleasures. For example, getting called ‘’a little pig’’ by the parents when the child wets themselves, can lead to feelings of humiliation. The repressive response from the parent causes impairment in the child’s sense of freedom. The mask of humiliation wound is the masochist. The masochist finds pleasure in suffering. Expressing their needs is a hardship for them because they are afraid of being shamed. Thus they repress their impulses in sex and food. The masochist is afraid of feeling limitless and can feel inferior, unworthy and dirty. They have self-blame tendencies and punish themselves often. They are willing to do anything to be seen as worthy in the eyes of God and their loved ones. They make it their duty to serve people and put others first, but they don’t like to be mothered in return. They try not to say anything that can potentially offend someone. They find excuses for others. They are afraid of getting punished if they enjoy themselves too much. They are afraid of going overboard and being ashamed if they don’t repress their urges. According to them being free is being boundaryless and overindulging in pleasure. They know their needs but they don’t listen, and they believe that they need to sacrifice themselves. The masochist is usually chubby or fat with round, innocent eyes. They have lots of blocked energy. They store tension in their neck, throat, jaw, and pelvis. Their greatest fear is freedom and ironically their greatest need is freedom as well. They can suffer from problems with the back, shoulder, throat, respiratory system, liver, thyroid gland and heart.
4. Betrayal: the “Controller” mask
Betrayal originates from the experiences at the ages of two to four and is related to the parent of the opposite sex. Bourbeau suggests that the controller suffers from an unresolved Oedipus complex. The child felt manipulated or betrayed because their phallic expectations weren’t fulfilled they the opposite-sex parent. The betrayal wound leads to the controller mask. The controller has a responsible, strong and demanding personality. They believe that they are right and try to convince others into submitting to their point of view. They don’t trust others, and they like to direct and control everything. The controlling person is good at lying, manipulating and seducing others. They would like to believe that they are indispensable to others. They can’t stand their plans getting disrupted. They can lie easily however they hate to be lied to. The controller cares a lot about their reputation. They are impressed by famous and rich people, and they seek to be special and important as well. They don’t trust easily, especially the opposite sex. They are afraid of someone taking advantage of them so they don’t like to disclose their weaknesses. They jump to conclusions quickly, thinking they have figured things out. They can be spiteful, intolerant and impatient. They like to criticise dependent people and position themselves as being very independent so that they can hide their fear of abandonment. The controller wants to be a responsible person since it is a character trait of a leader. However, they are far from being responsible since they have a tendency to blame others instead of themselves. Their greatest fear is dissociation and denial (because denial means betrayal in their eyes) and their greatest need is freedom. The most distinctive bodily characteristic of the controller is that their bodies look thick. The body of controlling men is strong in the upper body. The controlling women on the other hand have thicker thighs, hips, and buttocks. Their eyes look intense and seductive. They can suffer from illnesses related to loss of bodily control such as diarrhoea, sexual impotence and paralysis.
5. Injustice: the “Rigid” mask
This wound occurs between the ages of four to six and it is related to the parent of the same sex. If the same-sex parent is harsh, cold and critical during the development of a child’s individuality, the child separates themselves from their sensitive side and tries to become as efficient and perfect as possible. The mask of the injustice wound is the rigid mask. The most important characteristic of the rigid is that they are perfectionists. They don’t like to ask for help or admit that they are in trouble. They can act cold, insensitive, envious and angry. According to the rigid, knowledge is more important than feelings. They don’t like to feel and show their sensitive side because this might mean losing control and being perceived as less than perfect in the eyes of others. They want everything to be fair and justifiable. When they are at fault, they easily justify themselves. They don’t see how unfair they can be to others. The rigid is always optimistic and dynamic even when they are sad and tired. They hate admitting they are sick, and they often brag about not seeing the doctor or using medication. They have a tendency to engage in self-sabotage. They have very extreme demands from themselves and they always aim to reach beyond their boundaries. They don’t like lazy people. The greatest fear of the rigid is coldness and the greatest need is freedom. Their bodies are stiff and well-proportioned with a straight posture and flat stomach. They talk in a sharp and mechanical way. They carry lots of tension, especially in their neck, back and flexible parts such as knees. They can suffer from “burnout, premature ejaculation, cramps, liver-related problems, dry skin, nervousness, insomnia, and poor vision”.
In adulthood, people have the strength and wisdom to handle their wounds with mature mechanisms and they can choose to let their masks down. To reverse the process of adopting a mask, the person needs to practice:
-Self-compassion: feeling less resentment, shame and anger towards oneself which helps to achieve greater inner peace.
-True love or the experience of being ourselves: accepting oneself as who one really is.
-Emotional autonomy: knowing what one wants and working on achieving this
At the end of each day, the person needs to observe which mask has taken over and forgive themselves. Once the wound is activated, the mask takes over in no time, causing discomfort for the person and their surroundings. To heal from a mask, the person needs to come to the realisation that they are no longer acting like themselves. The person needs to identify the activated wound and accept that wounds are normal and everyone has some. Later, the person needs to thank their masks for helping them deal with the pain and they can put their shields down now. After these steps are accomplished, the person can feel at peace and stop the reactive behaviours.
Bourbeau advises four steps to reverse and heal the wounds:
-Learning about the masks and identifying which ones are activated.
-Accepting responsibility for the part they have played.
-Allowing oneself to feel resentment the person experienced as a child towards one and both parents and starting to have compassion. Forgiving the parents involves acknowledging the pain the parents have gone through as well.
-In the last step, the person becomes themselves again. Self-love, self-acceptance and authenticity are at their peak. The person comes to peace with the hardships of life and learns to see them as teaching experiences.
According to Bourbeau, there are different indicators of healing for each wound and the person can audit their progress by identifying those indicators:
The wound of rejection:
The wound of abandonment:
The wound of humiliation:
The wound of betrayal:
The wound of injustice:
Are you tired of wearing a mask, both physically and emotionally? Are you looking for a way to release the stress and traumas that have been holding you back? If so, then we invite you to enrol in our Breathwork Teacher Training.