Categorized | History

On the Sexual Rights of Youth

Article by Stephan Simonian M.D.

On the Sexual Rights of Youth

Reader Lloyd Bagwell has sent an astute comment in response to an article, called “Sublimation According to Anna Freud," we published earlier:

I want to ask a serious question. Why is modern orgonomy seemingly so incapable of making a social stand against the repression of natural sexuality?

I don’t understand what prevents anyone writing anything specifically for the youth to help them deal with armoring and the sex-negative societies they live in.

Is it technically too difficult; mainly due to a fear of setting the emotional plague off on another one of its rampages against orgonomy; or something else?

One of the goals of the emotional plague in attacking orgonomy was to make any followers scared to death of doing anything that would threaten the armored world, especially any practical social work.

Things have changed for the better since Reich’s day, but its worth mentioning that this progress didn’t just happen on its own ”“ people fought and worked very hard for every bit of it. We can’t just sit back and hope humanity is naturally going to give up its armoring and all will be well; it just doesn’t work like that.

I read in the paper the other day that 49% of parents want to bring back corporal punishment in schools in the UK. The other week there was another one ”“ out of 1700 parents asked 59% said it was wrong for children to learn about sex.

In many ways it looks like were moving backwards!

If I had found The Sexual Rights of Youth as a kid it could have saved me a lot of unnecessary suffering. I already knew that natural sexuality was vitally important and needed to be protected, but I felt completely alone in that view.

Orgonomy could have giving me the much needed back up I needed to stand up for my right to a healthy sex life, and given me the chance to learn about what I just called “The Sickness” (armoring) from a scientific perspective, instead of just having to go completely on gut feeling and common sense.

It’s obvious that the answer to Reich’s question, will children in 100 years be able to live their natural lives as nature ordains it, is a definite no, unfortunately. It’s doubtful they will be able to in another 500 years time.

This comment raises the issue of present day orgonomy organizations and their shortcomings in taking a stand against sexual oppression of youth. We agree with the impression of our concerned reader and think that it would be relevant to draw a parallel between the behavior of present day orgonomy organizations and the behavior of psychoanalytic institutions which were supposed to preserve and promote Freud’s discoveries. In both cases there has been a kind of "defection" from the founding principles of each group. For Freudians, it has happened already, and there is no reason to believe this will not happen with many orgonomists.

In his three-volume "The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud," Ernest Jones quotes a moment with the psychoanalyst: "With a quiet smile, he added, "it seems to be my fate to discover only the obvious: that children have sexual feelings, which every nurse maid knows; and that the night dreams are just as much a wish fulfillment as day dreams." Under much social pressure, even Freud talked less and less about libido and sexual theories. His students and psychoanalytic organizations avoided libido theory to the extent that nowadays, very little if any of it is taught or considered valid.


Front row: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung
Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi

“Reich Speaks of Freud” contains the interview between Wilhelm Reich and Dr. Eissler, including these comments:

“Freud introduced the energy principle into psychology and in doing so he broke the barriers which separated the science of that day from that of today. [...] Most psychoanalysts were genitally disturbed and that is why they hated it. That’s it. I assure you that I do not say that in order to do damage to anybody."

Elsewhere, the conversation delves more into the topic:

Dr. Reich: Basically Freud discovered the principle of energy functioning of psychic apparatus. The energy functioning principle. This was what distinguished him from all other psychologists. Not so much the discovery of unconscious. The unconscious and the theory of unconscious was to my mind a consequence of principle introduced into psychology. That was the principle, the natural scientific principle of energy, “the libido energy.” You know that today very little is left of it. I consider my bio-energetic work with the emotions to be direct continuation of the energy principle in psychology. [...] I believe Freud definitely knew that he was betrayed in his sexual theory. Libido theory was betrayed, was gone. It is quite evident that there is no libido theory today in psychoanalytic movement. Do you agree with me? Would you agree on that? You don’t have to commit yourself.

Dr. Eissler: I don’t go quite that far.

Dr. Reich: Yes, but you would say that it is.

Dr. Eissler: One hears less and less of it.

Dr. Reich: Less and less — that’s right. Yes, that’s right. I am glad that you gave me as much as that. One hears less and less. It’s more and more of sociology. This would not be bad, do you understand. If it was not a run-away.

and, finally,

Now, how, in heaven’s name are our psychiatrists, who are influenced to such a great extent by psychoanalytic thinking — how, in heaven’s name, I ask, will they ever work to correct the psychic economy in children, in newborns, in adolescents if they leave the [libido] out? I don’t think it will stay that way because I am still around. [...] But I assure you that there is no solution to this world’s problems unless this point is cleared up sociologically, politically, economically, psychologically, structurally, characterlogically, in every single respect. I don’t believe that there will be any solution of any social problem as long as children and adolescence grew up with stasis of biological energy — haywire, irrational, with neurotic symptoms, and so on, and so on.

Reich addresses Freud’s followers’ defection from sexual theory in his book "The Function of the Orgasm," noting in detail:

“Freud feared the inclusion of psychoanalysis in the political arena. His conflict which was very deep made me feel very close to him. Today I also understand the necessity of his resignation. For a decade and a half he had fought for recognition of simple facts. His professional colleagues had slandered him, called him charlatan, and questioned the sincerity of his intentions. Freud was not a social pragmatist “only” a scientist but he was strict and honest scientist. The world could no longer gainsay the fact of unconscious psychic life, so it resorted to its old game of corruption. It sent him many students, who came to a set table and did not have to bother about the cooking. They had but one interest: to popularize psychoanalysis as quickly as possible. They carried their conservative ties to this world into his organization, and Freud’s work could not exist without organization. One after the other they discarded or watered down the libido theory. Freud was well aware of difficulties involved in championing the libido theory. But in the interest of self preservation and the consolidation of the movement, he could not permit himself to say what, in a more honest world, he would certainly have stood up for all alone”.

Regarding to Freud’s resignation, Reich describes it in following paragraphs from "Reich Speaks of Freud":

Dr. Reich: Now to get back to Freud’s despair. As I said there was this first despair after he discovered infantile sexuality. He was moving quite logically in the direction of genitallity problem, where I found myself so much later, about 15 years later [...] In our discussions it was quite clear that he was hampered by the world, which would not want him to get at the genitallity of infants and children and adolescents because that would turn the whole world upside down. Yes, Freud knew that. But he could not get at it socially. The sublimation theory, which he developed as an absolute, was a consequence of that. It was an evasion. He had to. He was tragically caught. You know with whom? With the many students, many pupils, many followers. And what did they do? They took what he had and got the money out of it. I am sorry to have to state it. I stated it publically before. They hampered Freud. He was hampered so that he could not develop further. [...] Now if my theory is correct, if my view of cancer is correct, you just give up, you resign-and then you shrink. It is quite understandable why he developed his cancer. He smoked very much, very much. I always had the feeling he smoked — not nervousness, not nervousness — but because he wanted to say something which never came out of his lips. Do you get the point?

Dr. Eissler: Yes.

Dr. Reich: As if he had “to bite something down.” Now I don’t know whether you are on my line. Bite-the biting down impulse, swallowing something down, never to express it. He was always very polite, bitingly polite sometimes. Do you know what I mean? “Bitingly” somehow coldly, but not crewly. And it was here he developed that cancer. If you bite with a muscle for years and years the tissue begins to deteriorate and then cancer develops. Now that cannot be found in psychoanalytic theory, that comes right out of my work, out of orgonomy.

There is no reason to believe that the human race, which carries 6000 years of patriarchal and anti-sexual culture, will relinquish it quickly in 70 years since Freud. There is also no reason to believe that Reich’s students may behave differently than Freud’s own, just one generation earlier. However, Reich also made many hopeful statements which should be remembered by his students, and should be followed, by insisting on what is right even in a less honest world, even all alone. After all, Reich also wrote, in "The Function of the Orgasm":

“The scientist is duty-bound to insist on the right of free speech under all conditions, this right must not be left to those whose intent is to suppress life. We hear so much about the duty of soldier to be willing to sacrifice his life for his country, we hear too little about the duty of scientist to expose a truth once it has been recognized cost what it may. The physician or the teacher has but one responsibility namely to practice his profession unflinchingly, irrespective of the powers which suppress life and to have in mind solely the welfare of those entrusted to him”.

We believe that Reich’s advice has already influenced, and will continue to influence new generation of students to promote orgonomy, as envisioned by him.

This post was written by:

- who has written 51 posts on Journal of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy.

Dr. Simonian is a general and child and adolescent psychiatrist. He completed medical school in Shiraz University, Shiraz Iran. He completed his general psychiatric residency training and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at New York Medical College, Metropolitan Hospital Center. Concomitant with his psychiatry and child psychiatry training, Dr. Simonian completed the New York Medical College Psychoanalytic School Didactic Courses, including his own required personal psychoanalysis. In 1990, Dr. Simonian started his personal psychiatric orgone therapy, Reichian therapy, with Dr. Morton Herskowitz and in 1991 became a member of the Institute of Orgonomic Sciences (IOS), an Institute which is dedicated to promote and preserve Dr. Wilhelm Reich's work. Dr. Simonian started his private psychiatric practice in Milford, Massachusetts in 1984 and he was a chief of psychiatry department of Milford Regional Hospital for several years. He started his practice in Glendale, California since 2003. Dr. Simonian is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

One Response to “On the Sexual Rights of Youth”

  1. Joel Carlinsky says:

    The social sciences are more recent than the natural sciences, and it is only in the years since World War Two that they have demanded hard statistical data comparable to that long required in such disciplines as physics or biology. Until the general adoption of the statistical method, most writings in the fields of sociology and political science were little more than the subjective analysis of the author, often based more on intuition and personal experience than on what would today be considered solid data.

    In the 1930s, Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst who had lived and practiced in Austria and Germany, wrote a series of works expounding his theories on the social developments of the times in those two countries. From his experiences, he generalized into a wide-ranging and comprehensive set of interlocking theories that he considered as of general validity for all human societies. He emphasized the important role of early childhood and adolescence in determining the adult political attitudes of individuals, and he ascribed social values and attraction to political agendas as largely the working out in the social arena of the relationships and training to which most people were subjected in the course of growing up.

    Among the many hypothesis es which Reich put forward are that young people, in the first several years`after puberty, separate themselves emotionally from their families of origin by developing a strong emotional attachment to a sexual partner, and that failure to do so during those crucial years will have the result of the childhood emotional dependence on the parents being transfer ed to a parent-surrogate such as the church or the nation-state in later years.

    Reich noted that there was severe housing shortage in Germany in those Depression years, and young people were often forced by economic factors to remain living with their parents long into adulthood. At the time, the prevailing culture strongly frowned on premarital sex and the majority of parents did whatever they could to discourage their young adult offspring from establishing a sexually active relationship. According to Reich, the resultant sexual deprivation and long-term frustration during the very years in which the sex-drive was at its’ highest, had the effect of making those young people more predisposed to identify with the Fatherland, as expounded in the political retoric of`the Right, and to accept political agendas that emphasized authoritarian solutions to domestic social problems and militaristic solutions to international disputes.

    This hypothesis attracted a considerable following among avant-garde intellectualls before, during, and after the war, but while his several books on this theme were published in English translations after the war, Reich, by this time having migrated to America, never returned to this topic in his subsequent writings. In most of his post-war writings on socio-political topics, Reich, possibly as a result of the birth of his own son in 1944, emphasized the formative role of infancy and early childhood rather than the solidification in adolescence of the personality traits that had been tentatively formed in earlier years.

    Meanwhile, starting in about 1945, sociology underwent a transformation, becoming much more of a statistically-based science, instead of a simple exposition of a thesis by an author. Nothing has been published along the lines suggested by the work of Reich that confirms his hypothesis by the statistical methodology common to the social sciences today. While there is a considerable body of post-Reich publications (I.E., The Journal of Orgonomy) which discuss his various sociological and political claims at some length, none of them have dealt with those claims from a statistical standpoint.

    The nearest to that is a 1988 Ph.D. thesis by a James DeMeo at the University of Kansas, who dealt primarily with the effects of prolonged trauma from famine and institutionalized forms of child-abuse in different cultures around the world, attempting to link the prevalence of such early negative experiences with militarism and the subordination of women in those cultures. But this dissertation concentrated on ancient history and modern-day pre-literate cultures, and the differences between cultures, and did not deal with the central issue of the work by Reich, namely, the reasons for young adults, in particular, those of the working class, in a modern industrialized state with an established tradition of democratic processes, to be attracted to totalitarian ideologies in direct contradiction to their own best interests.

    Other work, such as that of James W. Prescott, in Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence, (1975) have concentrated on the experiences of infancy and early childhood, not on the socially more controversial area of adolescent sexual activity.

    In any science, the value of a theory is its’ ability to predict. The sociopolitical theory presented by Reich should in principal be testable. If a central prediction of the theory can be shown to be correct, it would go a long way towards establishing that the entire body of work is on the right track.

    A central tenet of the thesis presented by Reich is that there should exist a strong correlation between the age at which a person first establishes a satisfactory ongoing sexual relationship, and the political ideologies that person will be attracted to in later years. If the fundamental concepts of Reich are correct, individuals who became sexually active on a regular basis in the first few years after puberty should show significantly less tendency to be attracted to authoritarian, nationalistic, or militaristic creeds and policies than those who deferred becoming sexually active on a regular basis until later years.

    It should be noted that, according to Reich, the relevant aspect of becoming sexually active is NOT the single incident of a persons’ first sexual experience. The technical loss of virginity is of relatively minor importance in the theory developed by Reich. It is the involvement in a lasting and secure relationship, over time, that is significant.

    The age of first sexual encounter is of only minor importance compared to the establishment of an adult role in life, in the form of a relationship that provides the freedoms and responsibilities of an adult, including, but not limited to, sexual gratification on a regular basis.

    In other words, the earlier the introduction to the adult role of an ongoing relationship with all the freedoms and responsibilities that implies, the more that role acts as a form of “immunization” against those social attitudes and values associated with populist dictatorships and the mass movements that bring them to power.

    Conversely, prolonged sexual abstinence, lasting for years after the young individual is physiologically mature, has the effect of a sort of “psychological castration”, making the individual highly susceptible to ideologies and agendas that offer strong leadership figures combined with group solidarity and group aggrandizement, along with displaced aggression against members of the group who do not share those values or an external “enemy” designated by the leader.

    At this time in history, as in Germany in the 1930s, any information on the reasons people are attracted to authoritarian social policies could be of supreme importance. The United States government is currently spending $120,000,000 a year on promoting sexual abstinence for young people. More than 1,000,000 American adolescents have signed a “contract with God” not to have sex until they are married. If the thesis of Reich is valid, this trend in American society, which is being aggressively promoted by certain politically powerful religious denominations and organizations, bodes ill for the ability to think independently in a significant proportion of the electorate in the future.

    It is therefore proposed that a proper statistical study be conducted of a possible correlation between age-of-onset of sexual activity and adult political attitudes and values.

    It should be possible to design a questionaire to establish the political attitudes and values of a representative sample of individuals over the age of 25, and to also establish the personal life history of those same individuals in regards to the single factor being tested for: age at which a satisfactory regular sexual relationship was first established.

    This proposal is therefore for the testing of the hypothesis outlined by Reich by means of a two-part questionnaire, part one of which would ask questions concerning the personal life history of the respondent, and part two of which would ask questions designed to elicit the respondents’ political attitudes and values.

    A numerical score would then be assigned to the answers to each portion of the questionnaire, and a statistical comparison could be made to determine if the correlation exists which would be expected from the hypothesis presented by Reich.

    If conducted in the customary manner of a modern sociological study, this investigation should result in a paper capable of publication in a peer-reviewed journal that could contribute to the scientific understanding of the appeal of mass movements and political parties that advocate authoritarian, nationalistic, and militaristic solutions to social problems.

    Additionally, if the correlation predicted by the writings of Wilhelm Reich is found, and the hypothesis is validated, such peer-reviewed publication could result in a certain amount of academic acceptance that would focus positive attention on other claims and predictions that also follow from the same works of Reich.

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