He’s holding himself back by the scruff of the neck.

He’s holding himself back by the scruff of the neck.

The neck hold, scratch, or rub, is a response to negative feelings and self restraint. It is a restraint posture as in “holding one’s self back” as one might do to a wily cat or dog by grabbing them by the scruff of the neck. In this case, though, we are doing it to ourselves. While not a full blown emotional displacement posture it does serve to alleviate the negative sensation we have. Like taking medicine fixes illnesses, and an itch fixes a scratch, a gesture treats an underlying emotion. All body language allows us the opportunity to do the gesture so we can treat our underlying emotion. This is what makes gestures and postures in body language so predictive of emotional roots. They are connected. When we reach for our scruff, we are showing an evolutionary throwaway to a time when our hair would have stood on end!

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