Biological conflict: motor conflict (“feeling stuck”). The conflict can be associated with the entire body or with a single muscle or muscle group.

Brain and Organ Level: Motor conflicts correspond to the striated muscles of the skeletal musculature and the ability to move. The motor function of the left side of the body is controlled from the right side of the motor cortex; the motor function of the right side of the body is controlled from the left side of the motor cortex (view the GNM diagram showing the motor homunculus).

NOTE: A person’s biological handedness and whether the conflicts are mother/child or partner-related determine on which side of the motor cortex the conflicts register.

The constellation is established, the moment the second conflict impacts in the opposite brain hemisphere. The conflicts could also occur simultaneously. With localized motor conflicts affecting both sides of the body the person is instantly in constellation. The constellation can be permanent or recurring due to tracks or conflict relapses.
The Motor Cortex Constellation causes motor hyperactivity and a compulsion to move. The compulsion to move presents as not being able to sit still, squirming in the chair, excessive fidgeting, hand or feet tapping, finger drumming, leg-swinging, pacing, weaving, or rocking. The degree of hyperactivity is proportional to the intensity of the conflicts. The purpose of the constellation is to counteract the distress of feeling stuck with maximum movement. Moving calms the person and reduces the anxiety.

In psychiatry (DSM-5), a persistent urge to move is classified as a Hyperactivity Disorder (HD). With GNM we learn to understand why in today's society more and more children show this behavior. It has nothing to do with a diet high in sugar, as suggested, but rather with feeling stuck – in daycare, in kindergarten, in school, or in a difficult family situation. Being stuck in the house most of the day (watching TV, playing computer games, excessive cell phone use) can cause motor conflicts on a strictly biological basis because humans, particularly children, are meant to move! NOTE: In conventional medicine, a “Hyperactivity Disorder” diagnosis might also be made when a child is manic (see primary mania) or manic-depressive with a dominance of the manic mood; just like an ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) diagnosis might be made when the child is depressed (see primary depression; see also ADHD).

Motor conflicts can already be experienced in utero, for example, when the fetus feels stuck in the womb because of unbearable noise in the immediate surroundings (chainsaws, jackhammers, loud traffic, yelling, screaming). As a result, the baby is born with hyperactivity. A distressing vaccination experience (not being able to escape, feeling tied down) could lead to motor hyperactivity in early infancy.
The so called restless legs syndrome, an irresistible urge to move the legs, originates from leg-related motor conflicts (localized conflict) of feeling stuck (behind a school bench, behind a desk, behind a counter) or not being able to escape a place or an uncomfortable situation. During daily activities, the symptom is usually not noticed, but all the more during periods of rest. With an intense constellation, a person has also difficulties sleeping due to the mental and physical restlessness caused by the conflict-active, sympathicotonic state. NOTE: The weakness of the leg muscles that occurs with a prolonged constellation (hanging conflict) might show as a quick leg fatigue or an abnormal gait.
Claustrophobia, a fear of having no escape and of being trapped or enclosed (in a windowless room, a locked room, an elevator, a place crowded to capacity) is linked to a Motor Cortex Constellation (compare with agoraphobia, a fear of open places and crowds related to a Kidney Collecting Tubules Constellation). The “feeling stuck” conflict(s) might have already occurred at a young age, for example, through punishment or during play.  

It has been observed that people who are claustrophobic are often hyperactive and vice versa. From a GNM point of view, this makes perfect sense. Hyperactive individuals need motion and, therefore, panic when they feel trapped (see also anxiety attacks and panic attacks).  
Motor tics with sudden, rapid, repetitive, compulsive movements also reveal a Motor Cortex Constellation. The specific tics such as head or neck jerking, shoulder shrugging, hand and arm flapping, gesturing, compulsive touching, movements of the legs (jumping, skipping, hopping) reveal the original conflict situation (a fight, a rape, wanting to push away an offender, distress of not being able to hold someone back or escape a dangerous situation). In children, the motor tics might originate from “feeling stuck” at school (being teased, bullied, not wanting to go to school) or stuck in a distressing family situation (abuse, domestic violence). This explains, why the majority of children resolve the tics when they reach adulthood.

GNM offers an explanation as to why motor tics develop at a particular time in a person’s life, why they differ from person to person, and why they vary in severity.


My aim was to show that the symptoms of mental diseases also had a human meaning” (C.G. Jung)
Case about a seventy-five-year-old patient,
making “mysterious movements” for almost 50 years

“The case concerned an old patient in the women’s ward. She was about seventy-five and had been bedridden for forty years. Almost fifty years ago she entered the institution, but there was no one left who could recall her admittance; everyone who had been there had since died. Only one head nurse, who had been working at the institution for thirty-five years, still remembered something of the patient’s story. The old woman could not speak, and could only take fluid or semi-fluid nourishment. When not eating, she made curious rhythmic motions with her hands and arms. I did not understand what they meant. I was profoundly impressed by the degree of destruction that can be wrought by mental disease, but saw no possible explanation. At the clinical lectures she used to be presented as a catatonic form of dementia praecox, but that meant nothing to me, for these words did not contribute in the slightest to the understanding of the significance and origin of those curious gestures … Late one evening, as I was walking through the ward, I saw the old woman still making her mysterious movements and again asked myself, Why must this be?’ Thereupon I went to our old head nurse and asked whether the patient had always been that way. Yes’, she replied.  But my predecessor told me she used to make shoes.’ I then checked through her yellowing case history once more, and sure enough, there was a note to the effect that she was in the habit of making cobbler’s motions. In the past shoemakers used to hold shoes between their knees and draw the threads through the leather with precisely such movements. When the patient died shortly afterwards, her elder brother came to the funeral. Why did your sister lose her sanity?’ I asked him. He told me that she had been in love with a shoemaker who for some reason had not wanted to marry her and that when he finally rejected her, she had gone off’. The shoemaker movements indicated an identification with her sweetheart which had lasted until her death” (C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections).
Facial tics such as facial grimacing, excessive blinking, nose wrinkling, or mouth movements originate from the distress of “having lost face” due to a loss of dignity, humiliation, shame, or because of being teased or ridiculed. Tongue tics (tongue thrusting, tongue rolling) involving the tongue muscle point to the conflict of “not being able to move the tongue” (figuratively, not being able or allowed to say something). Jaw tics (jaw chattering) related to the jaw muscles indicate a bite conflict of not being able or not being allowed to “bite an opponent” (a family member, relative, teacher, classmate, a bully) or “snap” something that one desires.

NOTE: Animals develop motor tics too. With a Motor Cortex Constellation horses engage, for instance, in weaving and stall walking. Dogs present jaw or teeth chattering, for example, when someone throws a ball or when they are hoping for a few table scraps. Cats show jaw twitching, typically, when they hear a bird (watch Droppy’s jaw twitching in this video). The tics are triggered by a track (the ball track, the food track, the bird track).
Vocal tics, also known as phonic tics, involve both larynx relays, including the Broca’s area (speech center) embedded in the control center of the laryngeal muscles (left cortical hemisphere). Depending on a person's gender, laterality, and hormone status, the conflict linked to the larynx is a scare-fright conflict or territorial fear conflict. The specific conflict associated with the Broca’s area is a speechless conflict, experienced as an acute fright and being “speechless with fear”.   

The vocal tics occur with simultaneous conflict activity linked to a brain relay in the right temporal lobe (see Autistic Constellation and vocal tics). The specific repetitive vocalizations (throat-clearing, grunting, squeaking, barking, or complex sounds such as words, phrases, or complete sentences) reveal the underlying conflict.

Compare with Stuttering Constellation: Stuttering is the result of a speechless conflict related to the Broca’s area (left cortical hemisphere) combined with a conflict that corresponds to the right temporal lobe (territorial fear conflict, territorial loss conflict, territorial anger conflict, territorial marking conflict, scare-fright conflict, sexual conflict, identity conflict, depending on gender, laterality, and hormone status).  

The stuttering is caused by the laryngeal muscle spasms during the Epileptoid Crisis. A moderate speechless conflict with a short Epi-Crisis causes clonic muscle contractions. In this case, the flow of speech is disrupted by quick repetitions or prolongations of sounds, syllables, or words. Typically, the person speaks fast and unintelligibly. A strong speechless conflict with an intense Epi-Crisis causes tonic muscle contractions resulting in a disruption or blocking of speech with silent pauses in which the person is unable to produce sounds.

The encounter with a conflict track exacerbates the motor or vocal tics. The tics also tend to worsen during stress since the enhanced sympathicotonic state amplifies the constellation. Similarly, tics usually diminish when a person is calm (vagotonic) or focused on a particular activity. Recurring bouts of tics with symptom-free periods in between indicate that one of the two conflicts (or both) has been temporarily resolved.
So called Tourette syndrome is a clinical diagnosis for the presence of multiple motor and vocal tics (in the Middle Ages Tourette’s was considered a “possession”; today, it is believed to be a genetic disease or caused by a chemical imbalance of the neurotransmitter dopamine).

In his publication An Anthropologist on Mars (1995), Oliver Sacks, former professor of neurology at the N.Y.U. School of Medicine, tells the story of Dr. Carl Bennett, a surgeon with Tourette’s syndrome (“his Tourette’s had started when he was about seven”!). Astonishingly, Dr. Bennett's incessant tics vanish once he engages in the rhythmic routine of surgery. His vocal tics include vocalizations that sound like “Hi Patty!” (“Patty, I learned later, was a former girlfriend, her name now enshrined in a tic”). He (“I am a loner”) also displays characteristics of an autistic behavior (“His moustache had constantly to be smoothed and checked for symmetry, his glasses had to be ‘balanced’ – up and down, side to side, diagonally, in and out – with sudden ticcy touchings of the fingers, until these, too, were exactly ‘centered’. The touching has to be symmetrical’, he commented”).

Oliver Sacks: “It is almost as if the Tourette’s body becomes an expressive archive – albeit jumbled – of one’s life experience.”

“The Town that caught Tourette’s”

In October 2011, 12 girls at Le Roy Junior/Senior High School in the town of Le Roy, upstate New York, developed acute motor and vocal tics resembling symptoms of Tourette’s. By December 2011, 18 girls (7th to 12th grades) and one boy were affected. By June 2012, most of them had recovered and graduated from high school that month.

Click on the image to watch the documentary.
It has been suggested that the girls' condition was caused by the exposure to industrial toxins (an old spillage from a train crash in the 1970s), by the HPV vaccine, or by a “viral(!) throat infection”. Because of its purported spread, neurologists from the DENT Neurologic Institute in Buffalo and Rochester diagnosed the affliction as “conversion disorder” and “mass psychogenic illness” (modern terms for “mass hysteria” that predominantly afflicts women).

Questions from the GNM perspective:

Why did the “outbreak” occur in that town and in that school?
Why in October 2011?
Why did it affect those particular students?
What motor conflicts (not being able to escape, not being able to defend oneself, “feeling stuck”) did the students experience shortly before the onset of the symptoms?
Some girls developed vocal tics, which points to a concurrent scare-fright conflict or speechless conflict. What happened?