Categorized | Sociology

Homosexuality and The Emotional Plague

Article by Stephan Simonian M.D.

Homosexuality and The Emotional Plague

Recently, the American media was barraged with news of the harassment of homosexuals and suicides that followed.  The New York Times on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010, reported the following regarding the suicide of a young promising violinist:

“Tyler Clemeni was an 18 year old Rutgers University freshman when he jumped from the George Washington Bridge in an apparent suicide in September 2010, days after he had been secretly filmed during an intimate encounter which was then broadcast on the Internet.

Mr. Clementi’s roommate and another classmate were charged in the case.  Authorities say the students used a camera in Mr. Clementi’s dormitory room to stream an intimate encounter involving Mr. Clementi live on the Internet.

Three days later, Mr. Clementi, an accomplished violinist, jumped into the Hudson River.  Witnesses told the police they saw a man jump of the bridge just before 9 p.m., said Paul J. Browne, the New York Police Department’s chief spokesman.  Officers discovered a wallet there with Mr. Clementi’s identification, Mr. Browne said.”    - The New York Times, Wednesday October 27th, 2010.

Another newsletter reported the following;

“Either way, Clementi’s death marks the fifth suicide by a gay teen in the past month.  Justin Aaberg, openly gay and just 15, committed suicide after being bullied in school.  Billy Lucas, also 15 wasn’t out, but was mercilessly bullied in school.  He hanged himself.  Asher Brown, 13, who told his parents he was gay the morning he shot himself in the head, was also bullied.  Ash Seth Walsh, also just 13, hanged himself after suffering from years of bullying.”  - Julie Gerstein, The Frisky.com, October 1st, 2010.

An abnormal condition in which a person takes pleasure in hurting another, an unwholesome love of cruelty, excessive cruelty, in the Webster dictionary is defined as sadism.  In psychiatry and psychoanalysis, sadism is attributed to different psychological mechanisms, for example, a sexual impulse which is manifested as a tendency to strike, abuse, or humiliate the object.   It is also defined as a defense against castration, fear, and the fear of ones own sexual excitement.  What might occur within the subject passively, is instead done actively to others-  “identification with aggressor”.  It is also described that the perversion of sadism depends upon the fusion of destructive energy with libidinal energy.  The discharge of aggression is in itself pleasurable, but sadism further implies pleasure in destruction of others.

There is no satisfactory explanation in general psychiatry and psychoanalysis of how this mechanism occurs, where and why the destructive energy appears, nor how it fuses with sexual energy.

In orgonomy however, we consider such behavior to be a consequence of the distortions of primary drives, which in orgonomy are called secondary drives.

We have described the emergence of secondary drives from primary drives in different articles in this journal.  In short, character analytic techniques in orgonomy  lead to the comprehension of  the human psychological structure, which schematically is composed of core, middle layer and outer layer, or periphery.  The  primary impulses which are emitted from the core of the organism, the impulses of love, sexuality, and rational anger, are fiercely blocked by outer prohibitions.  In due time, such environmental and outer inhibitions through the process of armoring, become internalized within the structure of the person. Suppression of primary motives in turn causes distortions and its distorted version in orgonomy is called secondary drives.  Secondary drives may turn inward and cause neurotic symptoms that agonize and torment the person with neurotic symptoms such as obsessional thoughts, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, etc., or it may turn into a destructive force which operates  in the social scene. The latter in  orgonomy is called  “the emotional plague”.  The development of the secondary drives are related to the mechanism of armoring which is described by Dr.Reich in different books, most essentially in Character Analysis and The Function of The Orgasm and also is described in different articles in this journal.  Hence, the orgonomic model of the human psychological structure is the following: On the surface layer, the personality of the average man is polite, compassionate and conscientious.  At the core, he is honest, benevolent and longing for love. However the surface layer and the core are separated from each other by the middle layer, an intermediate layer which is the product of the outcome of forces that are on one hand primary and genuine, and  on the other hand opposing forces from the outer layer, from the armor. As a result of this conflict and stagnation, secondary motives develop in the  intermediate layer, which  consists of cruel, sadistic, lascivious, rapacious and envious impulses.  These secondary layers represent the Freudian “unconscious”, or that which is repressed.  In the language of orgonomy and sex economy, it represents the sum total of all secondary drives.

Dr. Reich, in The Function of the Orgasm, under the topic of destruction, aggression, and sadism, states the following:

“In psychoanalysis, the term aggression, sadism and destruction and death instincts were used randomly and interchangeably.  Aggression seemed identical with destruction which in turn was “the death instinct directed against the world”.  And sadism remained the primary partial instinct which begins to be active at a certain stage of sexual development.   On the basis of their origin and intentions, I attempted to assess all the human actions that are included under the concept of “hate”.  In my clinical work, I never encountered a death instinct, a will to die, as a primary instinct corresponding to sexuality or hunger.  All psychic manifestations that could be interpreted as “death instincts” proved to be a product of neurosis. Such for instance was the case in suicide, which was either an unconscious revenge on another person with whom one identified, or an action to escape the enormous unpleasure caused by an extremely embroiled life situation.

The patients fear of death could always be traced back to a fear of catastrophe and this fear, in turn, could be traced back to genital anxiety.  Moreover, analysts who  accepted the theory of the death instinct frequently confused anxiety and instinct.  It was not until 8 years later that the matter became clear to me; fear of death and dying is identical with unconscious orgasm anxiety.  The alleged death instinct, the longing for disintegration, for nothingness, is the unconscious longing for orgastic resolution of tension….

A living creature develops destructive impulses when it wants to destroy a source of danger. In this case the destruction or killing of the object is a biologically meaningful goal.  The original motive is not pleasure in destruction. Rather the destruction serves the “life instincts”…. In short, the impulse to destroy serves a primary biological will to live. As such it does not have a sexual connotation.  It’s goal is not pleasure, even though liberation from unpleasure is an experience similar to pleasure.  ……. An animal does not kill another animal because it takes pleasure in killing. It would be sadistic murder for the sake of pleasure.  It kills because it is hungry or because it feels that it’s life is threatened. Thus, here too,  the destruction serves the “life instincts”.

Aggression in the strict sense of the word, has to do neither with sadism nor with destruction, the word means “approach”.  Every positive manifestation of life is aggressive, the act of sexual pleasure as well as the act of destructive hate, the sadistic act as well as the act of producing food. Aggression is the life expression of musculature, of the system of movement.  The reassessment of the aggression is of enormous importance for the rearing of children.  Much of the  inhibition of aggression which our children have to endure to their own detriment, is the result of equating “aggressive” with “wicked” or “sexual”. Aggression is always an attempt to provide the means for the gratification of a vital need.  Aggression is not an instinct in the strict sense of the word; rather it is an indispensable mean of gratifying every instinctual impulse. The latter is inherently aggressive because the tension demands gratification. Hence there is a destructive, a sadistic, a loco-motor and as sexual aggressiveness.

If aggressive sexuality is denied gratification, the urge to gratify it in spite of denial continues to make itself felt.  Indeed, the impulse arises to experience the desired pleasure at all costs.  The need for aggression begins to drown out  the need for love. If the pleasurable goal is completely eliminated, ie. made unconscious, or imbued with anxiety, then aggression which originally was only a means, becomes a tension releasing action in itself.  It becomes pleasurable as an expression of life, thus giving rise to sadism.  Hate develops as a result of the exclusion of original goal of love. And the hate is most intense when the act of loving or being loved is blocked.  This is what brings the sexually motivated destructive intention into aggressive actions. An example of this would be sexual murder. Its precondition is the complete blocking of the ability to enjoy genital pleasure in a natural way. Thus the perversion of sadism is a mixture of primary  sexual impulse and secondary destructive impulse.  it does not exist anywhere else in the animal kingdom and is exclusively a characteristic of a man acquired late in development, a secondary drive.

Every seemingly arbitrary destructive action is a reaction of the organism to the frustration of a vital need, especially a sexual need.”

As we described earlier, these destructive impulses in the social scene, in orgonomy are called the emotional plague .  In character analysis, there is a chapter that Dr. Reich devoted to the description of the emotional plague.  He gives examples of specific reactions of inflicted people with emotional plague. Here is the description of such behaviour in the area of sexuality:

“The sexuality of the genital character (normal healthy character) is essentially determined by the basic natural laws of biological energy. He is so constituted that naturally takes pleasure in the sexual happiness of other, in the same way, he’s indifferent to perversion and has an aversion to pornography. The genital character is easily recognized by the good contact he has with healthy children. He considers it quite natural that children and adolescents are essentially sexually oriented.  The same way he foresees or at least strives to fulfill the “often socially restricted” demand which result from those biological facts.  This attitude exists spontaneously, whether a corresponding knowledge has been acquired or not….

In the plague-ridden character, the process is usually as follows;  The secondary drive held in check by the cultural and religious ideals break through.  The sexuality of the character afflicted with emotional plague is usually sadistic and pornographic. It is characterized by parallel existence of sexual lasciviousness (owing to the incapacity to achieve gratification) and sadistic moralism. This dualism is a part of his structure;  The plague afflicted individual could not change it even if he had insight  and knowledge.  In terms of his structure he cannot be anything but pornographically lascivious and sadistically moralistic at the same time.  This is the core of the character structure of the plague afflicted person.   This structure develops viscous hatred against every process which provokes its own orgastic yearning and hence orgasm anxiety…..

Clinical investigation leaves no room or doubt that sexual gossip or defamation afford these emotionally plagues individual a kind of perverse sexual gratification; they can thus attain sexual pleasure without the natural genital function…..”

Looking to the problem of homosexual harrasment from this point of view, from the point of view of irrational hatred attributed to the emotional plague, raises the following question; If the distortion and sickness is part of the emotional structure of the perpetrator of the harassment, then why should the victim feel ashamed and guilty and commit suicide?

One of my patients, who was a lady in her late 70’s, and had chronic depression with many hospitalizations and later committed suicide, once told me that in her youth she had a sexual encounter and was made to feel ashamed of it.  Another middle-eastern patient who had a pregnancy out of wedlock and  later  had a psychotic breakdown, upon admission to the psychiatric ward, in her confused and psychotic state, painted the word “whore” all over her face with lipstick.

The answers to these questions need individual analysis of the structure of each victim.  However, we can rationally speculate that a significant part of it is the anti-sexual upbringing of children that plants the seed of guilt and shame around sexual activity.  It is however their right and naturally constituted.

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.

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