Categorized | Psychiatric Illness

Excerpts from Dr. Herskowitz™ Lecture in Germany, December 1993

Article by Morton Herskowitz D.O.

Excerpts from Dr. Herskowitz™ Lecture in Germany, December 1993

Excerpts from Dr. Herskowitz Lecture in Germany, December 1993

Introduction of German interviewer of Dr. Herskowitz and of orgonomy and psychiatric orgone therapy.

Dr. Herskowitz:

“Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains. How did this change come about? I do not know.”  These are the opening lines of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s social contract. In the course of this lecture, I hope that you will find at least a partial answer to this question.

The key is the process of armoring. If one follows Reich’s emphasis on character analysis, you will come to recognize that character is represented in the body as well as in behavior.  Emotional repression is simultaneously a somatic as well as a psychological event.

Great novelists have recognized this and have generally portrayed ones character in the form of bodily terms,  the individual who draws in his breath when the events are overwhelming, the angry man who walks around with a tight jaw, the stubborn person who has a stiff neck.  These are all recognized by all for us, and all of us respond to these in our reactions to other individuals.

Armoring converts free laughter into a cackle or a twitter, it may cause a woman to speak in a little girl’s voice. It does not merely change a function by degree, but over time time, it renders behavior more predictable and more stereotyped.    Armoring puts life in constraint.

Armoring is most often revealed in muscular tension, but is also revealed in eyes that are glazed, in excessive body tact, etc…  It is a dynamic event, and it entails consumption of energy.   It constraints us physically, emotionally, and ideationally.  It is a cocoon to which we gradually become accustomed.

Reich viewed all living systems as pulsatile. In the mammal, there are many individual pulsations encompassed within the overall pulse. There is the heart’s pulse, the lung’s pulse, the gastrointestinal pulse, the brain’s pulse, and so forth. Armoring narrows the pulsation from aliveness to all aspects of existence to, in the worst case, living at a level of near existence. The heavily armored individual fears expansion, and pleasure gives him anxiety.

Armoring blocks the flow of natural impulses and bends them to new purposes. Just as light is bent when it hits glass or water, so does armoring bend impulses that come from our core and changes them into another direction.
For example, the natural aggression of a child whose parents cannot tolerate that aggression and punish him for it, turns when he armors from that punishment into anger, hatred, sneakiness, or other manifestations which Reich called his secondary manifestations.  These are covered over, by what Reich called his superficial layer, that is the layer that meets society. Therefore, his secondary layer might be covered over by compliance politeness, by characterological rigidity, or other kinds of coverups.     Thus the orgonomist uses personality not in terms of id, ego, and super ego, but in terms of core impulses, secondary layer and superficial layer.

In our therapy we treat patients going in the opposite direction. We start with treating the character as it is revealed in the superficial layer.  When we reveal and uncover that, we get to the manifestations of the secondary layer, and if we can manage to unburden the individual of the secondary layer impulses we finally arrive at the core, at the natural matter.

I’m just going to give you some very brief anecdotes of what you might witness in our office. This is the case of a patient whose history I have taken whose complaints I have listed to for the first time . I have put him on the couch and I say “I want you to breath this way. Take a long full breath in and just let go, and just keep breathing that way.”  So he lies on the couch and starts breathing like this for maybe five minutes, and then he suddenly starts to laugh.  When he tries to stop his laughter, he starts to laugh even more, and he says “What the hell am I laughing at?”  As soon as you ask the question, he bursts out laughing even more and the whole rest of the hour is consumed with him laughing, trying to stop the laughter, bursting into laughter again, and stopping it. At the end, he says, “What the hell was that?”  Then he says, “But I’ll tell you, I feel better.”

The second patient, is a patient in a brief psychotic episode. She has been referred by one of our trainees in orgonomy who is a psychiatric resident in a local hospital. He has referred her to me because he knows that she is too much for him to handle. Her story is that her husband was a physician, left suddenly with his secretary and all their money, and left her with two children, and she quickly went into a psychotic episode for the first time in her life. Interestingly, her twin sister has been psychotic all of her life. She comes into my office and she is very clearly disoriented and she keeps asking me, are you Dr. X, that is , the doctor who referred her. I say, “No, I am Dr. Herskowitz”. And every five minutes, she says “Are you Dr. X” and I say “No, I am Dr. Herskowitz” and every five minutes she says “Are you Dr. X” and I say “No I am Dr. Herskowitz,” and then she says “Are you going to hurt me, or do something bad to me?”  And I reassure her, “No I am not going to hurt you or do anything bad to you,” and then she says “Can I look into your mouth”, and I say “OK”, and I open my mouth and she examines my mouth.  When she is reassured that I am not going to swallow her, we begin to work.  I say, “follow this flashlight” and I move the flashlight in random movements in front of her eyes.  At first, she has difficulty following the light, but eventually she follows it.  She is laying supine and I say “there are four objects, one object, this wall, this wall , this wall, behind you.  Without moving your head, just move your eyes and try to see each of those objects.  And she tried to do this exercise, and then I say, “now just make your eyes soft and look into my eyes”, and she does, and we do those three things- following the light, looking at objects in the room, and looking at me. And at the end of the hour, she takes my hand and says “That was good”.

What I have worked on in each of these patients is one segment of armoring. Reich said that there are seven segments or armoring. Each of these segments is capable of its own emotional function, while practically, several segments work together to express an emotion. For example, though the eye segment can express its own emotions, very often it works in conjunction with other segments.  If one expresses anger, one not only looks angry, but clenches one’s jaw, punches one’s fist, etc.  So very often an in emotional expression, several segments are working simultaneously.

These seven segments of armoring are the Ocular, the oral, the cervical, the thoracic, the diaphragmatic, the abdominal, and the pelvic. These are the seven segments of armoring. The ocular segment is always involved in processed of psychosis and dissociative disorders.  We have known for a long time that for example in schizophrenia, there is a problem in eye tracking. That has been a well known, long time phenomenon, and in ordinary psychiatry, it is considered one of the phenomenon in schizophrenia. In orgonomy, this is regarded as a central issue.  The fact that the eyes are not in contact with the world out here to the extent that they are in normal people, we think is a factor in being able to distinguish reality from unreality, and we worked at great length with such people in establishing better eye contact with the world. What one learns when one investigates how eyes are armored is sometimes surprising.
For example, one patient reports that when she looks into a mirror, what she sees is her body outline. Another patient reports, that when he is in a painful confrontation, he has learned to endure that confrontation by focusing on one point on the other persons body, and keeping his eyes fixed at that point, and that way he is able to get through the confrontation. Another patient reports that she has no visual memory. When she looks at something  and closes her eyes, she cannot remember what she has just seen. These are things that happen not in psychotic people, but people who are walking around as if they are normal.
From my point of view, what orgone therapy enables me to do is to reach into places with patients that no other therapy can allow me and give me that kind of entree that psychiatric orgone therapy does.

This post was written by:

- who has written 16 posts on Journal of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy.

Dr. Morton Herskowitz lives in Philadelphia, USA. He is an osteopath and practices Orgone Therapy that was developed by Wilhelm Reich. He was the last therapist trained by Wilhelm Reich personally. He was the president of the Institute Orgonomic Science and author of the book “Emotional Armor – an introduction to psychiatric Orgone therapy.

3 Responses to “Excerpts from Dr. Herskowitz™ Lecture in Germany, December 1993”

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