3-D Massage – Disease, Disposition & Destiny

In my last blog piece, I outlined three realms of massage/bodywork – wellness, orthopedic, and holistic.  We can also look at three purposes for massage and bodywork.  These relate to the “3 D’s” – Disease, Disposition and Destiny.


People come to us with dis-ease.  It may be a physical disease – an injury or physiological issue – which massage may help.  Certainly we have come a long way in learning how massage can relieve or even assist the cure of disease, injury and tension patterns.  These theories and techniques form the basis for much current massage education.


After years of addressing dis-ease, a therapist sooner or later notices clients often persist in choosing lifestyles and behaviors that reproduce their problems.  This is more a matter of disposition.

The psychotherapist, Wilhelm Reich, used the term character structure for disposition and recognized as “character armor” chronic tensions held in the body for psychological reasons.  Due to early conditioning, we are all perfectly adapted to circumstances which no longer exist!


A skilled therapist, educated and sensitive to the specific patterns of muscular tension associated with dispositional character armor, can systematically work the most important areas and with a spirit that optimally facilitates the individual client’s safely letting go of long-held but no longer functional bodymind habits.

Whereas the origin, the presenting complaint, of the client is often physical or psychological, the destination, the goal, of any therapy ultimately has to be the abundant presence of health, not just the absence of disease.

Thus, lastly, we encounter destiny.  Often when I’m working I feel an almost overwhelming sense of what a miracle this person is.  What would this client be fully realized and fulfilled?  What would the blossoming of this individual’s body, mind and spirit look like?

Massage and bodywork nourish destiny through what early massage history called “nutritive acts.” Clients have their own natural “driving forces” that propel them forward from within.  We nourish these driving forces through compassionate touch.

Michelangelo said,Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”

Similarly, each client has their essence inside of them and it is one task of the therapist to assist the client in self-discovery.

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Each massage therapist has these three opportunities: to help relieve disease; to assist in letting go of dispositional challenges; and, in some lucky moments, to be a midwife to the shining forth of destiny.