Understanding Lise Bourbeau’s Five Wounds and Their Masks: How Emotional Wounds Manifest in Our Physical Bodies

In the realm of self-help and personal development, few frameworks offer as profound an understanding of human behaviour and emotional healing as Lise Bourbeau’s concept of the Five Wounds and their corresponding masks. Bourbeau, a renowned author and founder of the “Listen to Your Body” series, delves into the deep-seated emotional wounds that shape our lives and intriguingly, how these wounds manifest in our physical bodies. Let’s explore these five wounds, their masks and the physical manifestations that accompany them.

The Five Wounds and Their Masks

1. Rejection: This wound leads to the mask of the Withdrawer. Individuals with this wound often avoid situations where they might face rejection, leading to emotional detachment and physical withdrawal. They might appear aloof and isolated, creating a barrier to protect themselves from potential rejection.

2. Abandonment: This wound results in the mask of the Dependent. People with this wound have a deep fear of loneliness and seek constant support and reassurance, struggling with independence. They may cling to others and exhibit behaviours that ensure they are not left alone, often compromising their own needs to maintain relationships.

3. Humiliation: Formed from experiences of shame, this wound creates the mask of the Masochist. Those affected often engage in self-sabotaging behaviours and endure mistreatment, fearing further humiliation. They may seek to please others excessively, even at the cost of their own well-being and tend to belittle themselves.

4. Betrayal: Linked to trust issues, the betrayal wound leads to the mask of the Controller. Individuals with this wound strive to dominate situations and people to avoid being hurt again, exhibiting controlling behaviours and mistrust. They often feel the need to be in charge and can become frustrated when things don’t go according to their plans.

5. Injustice: Stemming from experiences of unfair treatment, this wound results in the mask of the Rigid. People with this wound tend to be perfectionists and very critical, both of themselves and others, striving for justice and fairness. They may have a strict, disciplined demeanour and find it difficult to relax or go with the flow.

Physical Manifestations of the Wounds

Bourbeau emphasises the mind-body connection, highlighting how emotional wounds manifest in our physical bodies.

1. Rejection: Individuals may have a frail or thin body, with skin issues like eczema or rashes as the body tries to “reject” itself. They might also display a closed-off posture, as if physically shielding themselves from others.

2. Abandonment: Physical signs include a slouched posture, respiratory issues and weight fluctuations due to emotional eating. These individuals may also experience chronic fatigue and a general sense of heaviness in their bodies.

3. Humiliation: This wound often shows through weight issues, particularly obesity and digestive problems, reflecting the body’s processing of emotional shame. They might have poor posture and exhibit signs of stress in their facial expressions and body language.

4. Betrayal: Those with this wound might have a robust and muscular build, tension headaches, back pain and heart problems due to constant stress. They may also exhibit tight, tense muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders, reflecting their need to stay alert and in control.

5. Injustice: Physical manifestations include a rigid posture, joint problems and skin issues such as psoriasis, symbolising emotional inflexibility. These individuals might also suffer from chronic stiffness and discomfort, reflecting their struggle with rigidity and perfectionism.

Healing the Wounds

1. Acknowledge the Wound: Recognise and accept the wound’s presence. Awareness is the first step towards healing.
2. Identify the Mask: Understand how the mask influences your behaviour and how it has protected you.
3. Seek Professional Help: Therapy and counselling can aid in healing by providing tools and support for emotional processing.
4. Practice Self-Compassion: Cultivate a loving and accepting attitude towards yourself. Acknowledge that these wounds are a part of your journey and not a reflection of your worth.
5. Mind-Body Practices: Engage in yoga, meditation and mindful breathing to reconnect with your body and release stored emotional tension. These practices help to integrate and heal both emotional and physical aspects of the wounds.


Lise Bourbeau’s insights into the Five Wounds and their masks offer a profound understanding of the interplay between our emotional and physical selves. By recognising and addressing these wounds, we can heal holistically, transforming our wounds into wisdom and leading a balanced, fulfilling life. Through this journey, we can develop greater self-awareness, compassion and resilience, ultimately creating a more harmonious and authentic existence.