“Let There be Peace on Earth”
The atrocities that we are witnessing today–the destruction of cities, mass murders, people fleeing war-torn countries for unknown destinations–have recurred throughout history and are not much different from the atrocities that Reich described during both World Wars. Reich explained that this violence and destruction was a consequence of denying the natural, healthy impulses of human sexuality. In The Function of Orgasm (1973), he stated:
There is ample evidence to support the contention that the cultural upheavals of the 20th century are determined by mankind’s struggle to reclaim the natural laws of sexuality. This struggle for naturalness and harmony of nature and culture is reflected in the various forms of mystical longing, cosmic fantasies ‘oceanic’ feelings, religious ecstasies, and above all, in the advance toward sexual freedom. It is unconscious, imbued with neurotic contradictions and anxiety, and is often manifested in the forms that characterize the secondary perverse drives. A humanity which has been forced for thousands of years to deny its basic biological law and, as a consequence of this denial, has acquired a second nature which is anti-nature and can only work itself up into an irrational frenzy when it wants to restore the basic biological function and, at the same time, is afraid of doing so. The patriarchal, authoritarian era of human history has attempted to hold the asocial impulses in check by means of compulsive moralistic prohibitions. It is in this way that civilized man, if he can be indeed be called civilized, developed a psychic structure consisting of three layers. (p. 233 )
The most superficial layer, according to Reich, is the artifice, the mask of sociability that is presentable, polite, and kind. Hidden below this layer are distorted emotions, perversions of all kinds, rage, hostility, sadism, and lust, all of the feelings associated with Freud’s description of the unconscious. These distorted feelings are masked by the superficial layer of politeness, but still contain all of the repressed energy that is submerged. This second, unnatural layer is a product of the authoritarian and anti-sexual upbringing of children. However, in the third layer at the depth of the human structure, is the core of natural love, genuine sociability and natural sexuality. Reich considers this third layer the core of the human organism and believes that it remains the best hope for humanity.
During the social upheavals of his time, Reich states that after World War I European governments wanted to establish democracies, but they failed to see that human structures that were the product of thousands of years of suppression of human’s natural longings had deformed the structure of the people to a creature who carried with him under the mask of sociality, rage, hate, and distorted, antisocial impulses. These impulses broke through the superficial mask of the same people who were striving for freedom and democracy. Reich gives an example of these atrocities. He states that these repressed, antisocial feelings were manifested:
. . . in the concentration camps; in the persecution of the Jews; in the annihilation of all human decency; in sadistic, playful moving-down of entire cities by those who are capable of feeling life only when they goose-step, as in Guernica in 1936; in the stupendous betrayal of the masses by authoritarian governments claiming to represent the interest of the people; in the engulfing of tens of thousands of young people who naively and heedlessly thought that they were serving an idea; in the destruction of billions of dollars’ worth of human labor, a fraction of which would have been sufficient to eliminate poverty the world over. In short, in a St. Vitus dance which will return again and again as long as those who work and have knowledge fail to destroy the mass neurosis in themselves and outside of themselves, the neurosis which calls itself ‘“high politics”’ and thrives upon the characterological helplessness of the citizens of the earth. (In The Function of Orgasm 1973 pp. 233-234)
Depiction of Guernica by Picasso
Seventy-five years later, similar atrocities are recurring, the “St. Vitus dance” that Reich predicted would recur, repeated itself with the destruction of lives and a homeland for millions, dashing the hopes of a people who long to live their lives as they were ordained to do so. As we helplessly witness the eradication of all human decency, we are seeing only a fraction of the immense injustices around the world.
Reich’s theories were largely ignored in his time as well as in the 21st century. Not surprisingly, the same catastrophes and tragedies that plagued the 19th century continue to recur in the 21st century. According to Reich and orgonomists following him, authoritarian, anti-sexual child-rearing practices, the norm in most countries, produce people whose psychological structure is distorted, neurotic, and susceptible to fascist ideologies. In fact, this wide-scale, repressed upbringing creates individuals who are ripe for fascism. Psychopathic leaders then use this susceptibility to manipulate and mobilize the masses to fulfill self-serving profits and antisocial, destructive goals.
In Reich Speaks of Freud (1967), Reich asks and answers the proverbial question:
How is it understandable that a single Hitler or a single Diugashvili [Stalin] can control eight hundred million people? How is it possible? That was the question I introduced into sociology in 1927. And I discussed the whole thing with Freud. How is it possible? Nobody asked that question. You don’t hear about it. How is it possible that eight hundred million grown-up, hardworking, decent people can be subjugated by a single Modjue? [a character like Stalin and Mocanigo] The answer is this –and it’s quite sure and safe, and in hundred years people will know it, I hope—because infants are ruined in their emotional wanting, in their natural, emotional life expression right before their birth and after their birth. (p. 30)
… I don’t believe that there will be any solution of any social problem as long as children and adolescents grow up with stasis of biological energy—haywire, irrational, with neurotic symptoms, and so on, and so on. That is why I offered my help. Do you understand? Is it quite clear why I’m interested? I have a great interest in getting this point of view into the psychoanalytic movement.(p. 26 )
Reich states: I believe that there will be no lasting peace on our earth, and that all attempts to socialize human beings will be in vain, as long as politicians and dictators of one kind or another, who have not the slightest awareness of the actualities of the life process, continue to lead masses of people who are endemically neurotic and sexually sick Function of Orgasm (1973) (p. 12).
Reich believed that authoritarian, anti-sexual families distort and destroy the human psyche through the process of armoring during the early stages of a child’s life. This process has been discovered and discussed by Reich and by other orgonomists as well. Elementary school tragedy. During a recent lecture in Spring, 2014, Dr. Morton Herskowitz stressed the significance of the concept of armoring, stating that its discovery is one of the most important in psychiatry Dr. Herskowitz’s Speech in IOS 2015 Spring Conference. Unfortunately, this discovery has gone unnoticed in mainstream psychiatry, medicine, and scientific institutions, a consequence of the distorted characterological structure that prevails in scientific circles responsible for recognizing this discovery and implementing measures to prevent this phenomenon of armoring. Many sociological factors contribute to raising children against their natural needs. Among important sociological factors in perpetuating such upbringing of the children is the influence of the religion. In The Function of Orgasm (1973), Reich states:
Freedom of religion is dictatorship when it does not go hand in hand with freedom of science; for, when this is not the case, there is no free competition in interpretation of life process. It must be decided once and for all whether ‘God’ is a bearded, all- powerful, divine figure, or whether he represents the cosmic law of the nature, which governs us. Only if God and the laws of nature are identical is an understanding possible between science and religion. It is but one step from the dictatorship of an earthly representative of God to the dictatorship of divinely ordained savior of peoples. (p. 17)
What should be done? Reich realized that children and adolescents who grow up in oppressive, anti-sexual, families become damaged and neurotic, and acquire a second nature alien to their core nature, so he addressed youth directly in a pamphlet entitled “The Sexual Rights of Youth” (1932) The Sexual Struggle of Youth. In this pamphlet, he encouraged youth to demand their rights and gave them direction for their struggle. In The Function of Orgasm (1973), he reminded scientists, physicians and sociologists to rise to their responsibility and not to be afraid to speak scientific truth, regardless of the consequences. He says, “There is so much talk about the soldier’s duty to give his life for his country. There is too little mention of the scientist’s duty to defend, under all circumstances, what has been recognized to be true, no matter at what cost” (p. 16).
As students of orgonomy we are committed to destroying mass neurosis within ourselves as well as outside ourselves. We are well aware of the depth of emotional armoring and the immense challenge that Reich confronted to promote a healthy, unrepressed, society. As followers of orgonomy, we are committed to continue this struggle with the conviction that logic, science, and truth will ultimately prevail and “love, work, and knowledge are the wellsprings of our life. They should also govern it.” – W.R.