Patterns of behaviour of Metal Constitutional Factors

19. Patterns of behaviour of Metal Constitutional Factors

Chapter contents


Patterns of behaviour of a Metal CF142

The main issues for a Metal CF143

Responses to the issues144


This chapter describes some of the most important behaviour patterns that are typical of a Metal CF. Some aspects of a person’s behaviour can be observed in the treatment room. Others can only be discerned from the patient’s description of themselves and their life. As stated in the previous chapters, behaviour can be an indicator of a patient’s diagnosis but it can only be used to confirm the CF. It should always be used in conjunction with colour, sound, emotion and odour, which are the four primary methods of diagnosis. Once the CF is confirmed the patterns of behaviour may, however, support the practitioner’s diagnosis and be used for feedback.

The origin of the behaviours was described in Chapter 7. The imbalance of the Element of the CF creates instability or impairment of the associated emotion. Thus specific negative emotional experiences are more likely to occur to one CF as opposed to another. The behavioural traits described in this chapter are often the responses to these negative experiences. In the case of Metal, people often experience feelings of loss and being worthless and are responding to this.

Patterns of behaviour of a Metal CF

The balanced Element

People with a healthy Metal Element can both feel loss and move on. They take in the richness of life in order to feel satisfied and accept that when something is over they must let go. The Lungs allow people to take in qi from the heavens. The Large Intestine allows them to let go of all that they have accumulated and that is no longer of use. When a person is able to take in and let go, their life has quality and meaning. If they don’t take in, they feel empty inside. If they don’t let go they become congested with waste.

People form attachments as they move through their lives. They become especially attached to the things that are important and nourishing to them. The attachment may be to people, such as parents, friends and partners, but can also be to a beloved pet or possession, to a religious belief, or to certain beliefs or ideas. The Metal Element allows people to connect with these aspects of life and to experience their significance and value. This connection allows people to fully participate in life.

At different stages of life people change their attachments. They must be able to let go and move on. For instance, when children leave home both the parents and children may experience sadness and a sense of loss. Experiencing the sadness allows them to loosen the bonds of their attachment. They can grow and mature from the experience and move on to become connected to whatever becomes significant in the next stage of their life.

Formative events for a Metal CF

Metal CFs may feel that something is lacking in their lives but find it difficult to put their finger on what it is. This is because they may not have really lost anything at all. Their longing is for something that is there but of which they are unaware.

Although it is likely that people are born with their CF, many of their experiences, especially emotional ones, are also coloured by it. Many Metal CFs feel that they weren’t given positive acknowledgement as children, however much they actually received. As a result they reach adulthood never really knowing that they are worthwhile human beings. They may grieve that this quality is missing, although they may only be aware of a vague sense of melancholy and lack of self-worth.

Traditionally it is the father’s role to instil in children a sense of their own value. It can be early events in relation to the father or a ‘father figure’ that are connected to the Metal CF’s feelings of worthlessness. Metal CFs may have been given cuddles, love and security as children but they especially need to be told how well they did and how important they are. Because Metal is their constitutional imbalance, they may always feel they lack true value, but sensitive parenting can partially compensate for this.

Often, from the viewpoint of a child, the father is the ultimate authority and arbiter of right and wrong. The relationship to the father is vitally important to Metal CFs. A few lose their fathers early in their lives and may be unable to come to terms with the loss. Some may have a distant connection and be aware of a lack of closeness. Many yearn to feel more connected with their father during childhood. They may still yearn for that intimacy when they are adults.

Sometimes there has been a strong bond but they are in awe of their father. They may have difficulty letting go of this as they fail to see him as an ordinary flawed human being. Later in life nobody can ever live up to the idealised vision they have of their father. This can create difficulties in their marriages and working lives.

The main issues for a Metal CF

For the Metal CF certain needs remain unmet. This situation creates issues that centre on these areas:

• recognition

• approval

• feeling complete

• feeling adequate in the world

• finding inspiration

The extent to which someone is affected in these areas varies according to the person’s physical, mental and spiritual health. Relatively healthy Metal CFs have less disturbance with these aspects of life, whilst those with a greater energetic imbalance end up with their personalities being strongly influenced by this imbalance.

Because of these issues they may consciously or unconsciously ask themselves various questions such as:

• What will give my life meaning?

• Am I really OK?

• What do I need to be complete?

• How can I connect to the world?

• How can I find inspiration and meaning?

Responses to the issues

So far we have described how a weakness in the Metal Element leads to a lesser capacity to accept loss and move on or to take in the richness of life and feel satisfied. The issues that subsequently arise lead to a spectrum of typical ways of responding to the world. These are common, but not exclusive to Metal CFs. If other CFs have patterns of behaviour that seem similar it may indicate that there is a different set of issues underlying them or that their Metal Element is also imbalanced but is not the CF. Noticing these responses is therefore useful but does not replace colour, sound, emotion and odour as the principal way of diagnosing the Constitutional Factor.

The behavioural patterns are along a spectrum and can go between these extremes:

1fragile –––––––––––– unyielding
2cut-off –––––––––––– seeking connection
3resigned or inert –––––––––––– over-working and achieving
4craving quality and purity –––––––––––– feeling messy and polluted
5deeply moved –––––––––––– nonchalant

These are discussed below.

Fragile – unyielding

Thin-skinned and delicate

Chinese medicine refers to the Lungs as the ‘fragile’ or ‘tender’ Organ. The skin is also associated with the Lung. When the Lung is weak the Metal CF can feel very ‘thin-skinned’ and delicate.

This emotional fragility is also connected with the po, which is the mental-spiritual aspect of the Lungs. In the previous chapter it was discussed that the po protects us from unwanted mental or psychic influences. Physically we are protected by the Lung’s defensive (wei) qi and psychically by the po. When the Lungs are weak a person becomes more vulnerable to outside influences.

Many Metal CFs describe being easily wounded. Some show this vulnerability whilst others appear to feel confident. Underneath, however, they may feel inadequate and lacking in self-esteem. If they admit how they feel many Metal CFs say that few people understand the depth of their fragility and weakness.

Over-protected and unyielding

Because most Metal CFs hate to show how delicate they are they will over-protect themselves. This enables them to appear to be ‘normal’ to the outside world even when they are feeling fragile inside. Whilst Fire CFs often leave themselves vulnerable, Metal CFs usually go to great lengths to defend themselves before the attack comes. It is almost as if they carry a shield over their lungs or have put up a ‘Keep Out: Private’ sign on their chest.

To other people Metal CFs can seem critical, harsh, cold or brittle. They may push people away by putting up a hard front and sometimes even cut off communications completely. This is in an effort to try to show that they don’t care and they may even believe their own story. It reduces the intensity of feelings of disappointment and lack of self-esteem. Denial is a marked characteristic of many Metal CFs. They may keep defending themselves even when it is unnecessary and no attack is being made.

One form of defence can be ‘nit picking’. For example, a Metal CF may feel hurt and criticised by some idle or imprecise comment that has been said about them. A person with a different CF might recognise the comment as incorrect but let it go or gently rebut it. Fragile Metal CFs, however, may feel injured and misjudged. On the surface they might not show their feelings but may immediately ask specific questions about the truth of this ‘judgement’, picking out any aspects of language or content that are incorrect. If all goes well the critic backs down and takes back the comment. The Metal CF may even be able to turn the criticism back on to the person who is finding fault and ‘prove’ that it is not the Metal CF who is in the wrong but the one who has made the comment.

Similarly many Metal CFs may feel personally threatened when someone attacks their opinions and/or beliefs. In this case they may not be able to ‘let go’ or give any ground about what they believe in. Stubbornness becomes an emotional necessity. By digging their heels in they prove to themselves that they are OK. If they give way they feel fragile and weak.

Nov 30, 2016 | Posted by in PHYSICAL MEDICINE & REHABILITATION | Comments Off on Patterns of behaviour of Metal Constitutional Factors
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