Tag Archive | "Freud"

Who was Wilhelm Reich and what is orgonomy?

The following is a transcription of the lecture given by Dr Harry Lewis at the Institute for Orgonomic Science Conference on April 11, 2015 at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

I’m pretty much the only orgonomist working in New York City these days; which tells you something about the state of Orgonomy! But there are many who are interested in Reich’s work and it’s beginning to spread.

I’m pretty much the only orgonomist working in New York City these days; which tells you something about the state of Orgonomy! But there are many who are interested in Reich’s work and it’s beginning to spread.

More important than my personal website is that we have a group in New York that has been going for some at least 20 years or more. I want to mention that it is primarily been supported and made possible by David Silver who is up front here videoing. If you go to our website, wilhelmreich.net, you can get access to over 20 years of lectures we have run; regular lectures, dozens and dozens of lectures — both by myself and others including Dr.Victor Sobey (a close close and longtime associate of Dr. Reich) and Dr. Michael Rodenberg, who was one of Reich’s students; not trained by Reich, because Reich died before Dr. Rothenberg finished medical school; but Dr. Rodenberg was a pediatric psychiatrist and orgonomist. He was the head of pediatric psychiatry in Washington State University Medical School and was contemporary of Dr. Herskowitz. He died, unfortunately quite young from ALS. But there is wonderful range of subjects all recorded on CDs and then we have film or video, but many of these things are now on YouTube or Twitter. So I think I would recommend that you go to www.wilhemreich.net or to my own website which basically talks about our work. And I spoke to couple of people who contacted me earlier in the day before we got started, feel free if you’re in New York area to get in touch with me, we have periodic lectures. We just did, Dr. Bennett, myself and few others just did a major presentation at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, on the influence of Reich on psychoanalysis from the beginning to the end which, I guess, is a preface to my talk. Let me state, just briefly, asking me to give a presentation on who was Wilhelm Reich is a little bit of overkill! I want to point out that we have two outstanding historians present in the room and both of them will be talking a little bit today, both of them can tell you in far more precise detail who Reich was historically and development of his work. One is James Strick who has just published a spectacularly wonderful work on Reich as a scientist “Wilhelm Reich Biologist”, the other is Dr. Phillip Bennett, who is an active social historian of Reich’s work and archivist in a sense of, he’s the guy we go to get information and find out if we’re right or wrong, I’m sure he’s going to tell me about 20 or 30 things that I got wrong in my talk some of them I argue with him about. But that said, you’ll have an ample opportunity to ask questions; you’ll also have, if he stays around Dr. Morton Herskowitz, who was there for much of it. So the first thing I want to say specifically about Reich’s life and work is that really his Life and Work are functionally identical and if you know what functionally identical means in terms of orgonomic study that will be obvious in terms of what I’m trying to say. Functionally identical means that they have just different expressions of the same totality in this case the organism “Wilhelm Reich”.

So the first thing I want to say specifically about Reich’s life and work is that really his Life and Work are functionally identical and if you know what functionally identical means in terms of orgonomic study that will be obvious in terms of what I’m trying to say. Functionally identical means that they have just different expressions of the same totality in this case the organism "Wilhelm Reich".

And Reich himself often commented on the fact that from the earliest days, as James Strick points that out in his introduction, that Reich often felt that from almost birth on (he was born on a farm) that he was interested in natural phenomena in life and life forms and he was introduced to natural biological behavior and sexuality through seeing and identifying and interacting with the life on the farm. So in a sense Reich’s work is consistent from beginning to end and the thing that unifies it as Reich himself comments, towards the end of his career, looking back; the thing that unifies it all — and you’ll hear talked about actively today — is energy and the attempt to understand energetic function and not just the philosophical concept of energy which had been around from the romantic period on or even going further back this general idea of energy or life energy; elan vital. Reich was really interested in what makes us run, and not just us, but what makes life possible and what life is; and for him life is also functionally identical with energy and energetic function.

Reich was really interested in what makes us run, and not just us, but what makes life possible and what life is; and for him life is also functionally identical with energy and energetic function.

Towards the end interestingly he began to think that possibly the line between life and nonliving is not as clear as humans tend to rather arrogantly assume that the line between so called lower forms of animal life and human life is significant. For Reich I think it becomes clear that that significance is greatly diminished over the years.

Reich was born March 24, 1897 he lived to be 60. He lived a relatively short life, but it was jam packed.

Reich was born March 24, 1897 he lived to be 60. He lived a relatively short life, but it was jam packed.

He grew up on a farm in what was loosely called Russo Poland; an area of the Austro-Hungarian empire that tended to switch hands between the Russians and the Poles and the Germans and the Austrians. He lives there until he’s forced out by World War One. He joins the Austrian army becomes a lieutenant in a gunnery outfit. He makes the comment, if you read his “Passion of Youth”, that seeing real war and real fighting convinced him that the best place to be was up in the mountains looking down on it rather than being in it. So he finishes that and goes to Vienna because his farm has been confiscated. He enters, as it seems typical for many, Freud did this too; his first study at university was law. He quickly became quite disenchanted with that, moved into medicine and it’s there that I think one of the most significant points in Reich’s life begins which is not just the meeting with Freud but the sudden interest connecting to his interest in life function and biology. Actually in many ways he goes into medicine probably James Strick and Philip Bennett can address this more accurately, but he goes into it probably more because it’s connected to biology or biological research and biological knowledge then it is simple a desire to practice medicine. In a very real sense, and interestingly, (including a number of people who I know) — and I have a number of patients believe it or not who were seen by Reich and they’re still alive — he wasn’t as interested in doing clinical work per se as he was in finding out what happens and how people function and what the connection to biological life and function are or were. So in Vienna at this time, living in a cold-water flat, basically supporting himself while he did medical school, I’m saying this to give you some idea of the amazing capabilities of his mind you get a very good sense of this if you read the four volumes of his autobiography. He not only consumes masses of information while in medical school, he also supports himself by tutoring other medical students and begins to connect with a group of very very radical young clinicians or medical school students, most significant of them being Otto Fenichel who became a close friend and associate and they begin to decide that they cannot get enough information from their medical school studies or in the laboratory, their education; primarily there is no one willing to discuss human sexuality or sexual function at all or just about no one except some guy who has a seminar that meets every once in a while named Sigmund Freud and a small group around him and they begin to attend those meetings. It’s there that Reich finds the primary direction in his life in the Vienna years particularly Vienna and Berlin from roughly 1918 when he arrives to 1930 or so when he goes to Berlin in 1933; it’s the contact with the psychoanalytic community and the psychoanalytic left; the younger more vibrant and more radical thinking psychoanalysts around Freud. He is seen by Freud immediately as one of the most gifted of the potential students and at one point it’s recorded that Freud saw him as the next in line for leadership.

He is seen by Freud immediately as one of the most gifted of the potential students and at one point it’s recorded that Freud saw him as the next in line for leadership.

Why and how that changes is a very interesting question, which I think again some of the other speakers can address or you can ask questions once I finish. He gives one of his first lectures on to the general psychoanalytic community and is criticized for being a little bit too interested in sex which is an interesting comment, but he continues with Freud’s approval through the initial stages and most significantly during this period of his historical rundown. He encounters the fact that training is almost nonexistent so the way one became a psychoanalyst as Reich enters this community, was — you met one of the older guys who thought you were bright and they said to you, “you seem like a bright young fellow or young woman”, –Freud was very supportive of women entering psychoanalysis and often he is not given enough credit– you seem like a bright young fellow or young lady, here is a card and tomorrow someone will come and present my card to you and start doing treatment and listen and when you have a question and don’t understand something come to me and we’ll talk about it. That was how you became a psychoanalyst. Reich very quickly said that this wasn’t adequate and began to appeal to Freud for permission to set up a training seminar and this led to the founding of the first formal training seminar in psychoanalysis. Reich, a little bit to his dismay, was not chosen to be the leader but moved into that position and became a dominant figure in that group; and is out of that group that he produces his first two significant works, one would be the “Impulsive Character” and the other being “Character Analysis” which is in a sense our textbook to some degree for doing not only character analytic treatment but orgonomic treatment;

Reich began to appeal to Freud for permission to set up a training seminar and this led to the founding of the first formal training seminar in psychoanalysis. Reich, a little bit to his dismay, was not chosen to be the leader but moved into that position and became a dominant figure in that group; and is out of that group that he produces his first two significant works, one would be the “Impulsive Character” and the other being “Character Analysis” which is in a sense our textbook to some degree for doing not only character analytic treatment but orgonomic treatment.

Although most people are always shocked that it’s not at all a textbook in a way that you would expect a textbook to be, it doesn’t tell you how to do it, it really tells you how to engage and what questions to ask and what to think about and what to expect in studying the human organism and its behavior and its ways of basically weaseling out of responsibility for being alive. It offers as Dr. Reich would later say: A Method of Approach! It is also during these years, between early 1920’s to 1930, that Reich becomes significantly radicalized; meaning that he becomes actively involved with the left in Vienna and Berlin; but mostly in Vienna. This might not seem very significant to people today since the left is who knows where these days; not the kind of organized movement that it was when Reich encountered it. He joins the left socialist and communist movement. He becomes active. He also becomes very interested in how you can bring treatment to the masses and becomes very involved in the leadership of the movement called the SexPol, in which they created mental health hygiene and sexual health hygiene clinics throughout Vienna;

He also becomes very interested in how you can bring treatment to the masses and becomes very involved in the leadership of the movement called the SexPol, in which they created mental health hygiene and sexual health hygiene clinics throughout Vienna;

in the ghettos, in the working communities and brought treatment but most importantly brought the ability for individuals to come in and get answers to questions that they wanted to ask. He also starts giving active speeches to the young and to youth and from all accounts these gatherings were equivalent to rock concerts today; they were very well attended, and very active. He even allowed people who were not supporters to come, provided that they were respectful and he answers to all questions seriously. This was a very unique kind of event. He was obviously a very charismatic and a strong leader.

He was obviously a very charismatic and strong leader. I would say that Reich was a psychoanalytic Marxist and basically always, through his entire work, a radical, not conservative, not left not right but radical; that means active, energetic, Reich was actually one of the early phenomenologists in the sense that he was interested in studying phenomena, particularly the energy that drives phenomena.

It’s during this period of time that he also sits down and begins, and this is typical of the way Reich works; and I think James Strick makes the point that he works this way as a scientist too; that’s all of a piece. He decides that he’s going to write about and access Marxism; so what he does is — he consumes the entire works of Marx and Engels. I think it is significant to mention Engels here since all too often he is pushed to the side; but Reich was very interested in Engels; Engels made some very salient and very important contributions to understanding of mass behavior, and it’s out of his studies for about six months or so (his intensive studies of Marx and Engels) that he begins to come up with a way to connect his psychoanalytic character analytic studies and work and at the community activism with Marxist theory and Marxist socialist action. As a result of this he begins to write on the subject and I think Dr. Bennett will give you more details on his early attempts to write on the connection between Marxist materialist theory and psychoanalysis. This sets the pattern for the rest of Reich’s life; which angers a significant portion of the psychoanalytic community particularly the older, more established psychoanalytic community; it also disturbs the more conservative elements of the left, particularly the communist party and some of the socialist adjuncts; so again Reich tends to be on his own, he has some clear supporters, he’s very charismatic, he attracts both young people and other scholars and artists, he was very involved with arts and he begins to build a circle around him and gain great deal of attention, but also a great deal of distrust by the psychoanalytic establishment as well as the leftist establishment in that he’s pushing for a kind of initiative that they’re not comfortable with; that is a little bit unsettling. Reich is not a communist! I would say that Reich was a psychoanalytic Marxist and basically, always, through his entire work, a radical, not conservative, not left not right but radical; that means active, energetic, actually with one of my colleagues here, Dr. Bingham, who is working phenomenology, Reich was actually one of the early phenomenologist in the sense that he was interested in studying phenomena, particularly the energy that drives phenomena. So as things would have it, you know it’s pretty obvious by 1933 he is not really welcome anywhere near Vienna or Berlin and has to escape! and there is a very dramatic escape under false names and on trains at night and he winds up after various attempts getting established first in Denmark, where he is not welcomed, finally settling in Oslo Norway. Now it’s very important to understand that the Norwegians, the Scandinavians in general, were extremely supportive of Reich and many of them had come to Vienna and Berlin to study with Reich specifically. So it’s very hard for us, who have a small and nice group, but small, to understand that for Reich was one of the key figures; but that as Reich himself later said, it’s wonderful to be the shark in the waters until the goldfish realize that they can organize and stop you and he begins to get attacked both from the social activists political side as well as from the psychoanalytical movement and unbeknownst to him, Freud is persuaded to abandon his support for Reich and gradually Reich is isolated in the psychoanalytic community, and without going into great detail, is essentially expelled, although he would argue that he quit before they expelled him; again Dr. Bennett has been researching some of the history of this as to the exact details. What happened specifically is that Anna Freud acting as her father’s agent arranged for him to be removed from the International Psychoanalytic Association; with a promise from the Scandinavians that he can join the Scandinavian Norwegian analytic community. He arrives in Oslo and decides that he no longer wants to be a formal member of the psychoanalytic community and establishes at this point an independent organization. In Oslo, where I’ve been beginning to work actively and where there is still a deep connection to Reich’s work. In Oslo Reich accomplishes two major shifts in his work that will determine the latter part of his life. First, he begins to build an organization that begins to incorporate his discoveries in character analytic work and in biology and physiology; he begins to develop a technique that he calls vegetotherapy. Some of you might have heard of this. In Norway it is still one of the primary forms of clinical practice. He begins to work actively on the human body; he begins to work actively on the human character structure and the armor and he begins to set a goal that will become central to orgonomic practice and one of the big problems, that non-orgonomist have with Reich’s work, is he sets a goal that health requires full pulsation of the organism — meaning: the ability of the organism to expand and contract freely or fully to its fullest potential and that can only be regulated through work but most significantly through the orgasm reflex the orgasm function.

He sets a goal that health requires full pulsation of the organism—meaning; the ability of the organism to expand and contract freely or fully to its fullest potential and that can only be regulated through work but most significantly through the orgasm reflex the orgasm function.

He is particular and meticulous in his study of this and he begins to do laboratory research on the nature and function of the orgasm, attempting to demonstrate the existence of Freud’s theoretical premise of the libido; the libido energy. Remembering that Freud very specifically states that he believed eventually somebody would study the human organism and proof the existence of libido energy as a real substance, not as a theoretical or philosophical premise.

He is particular and meticulous in his study of the nature and the function of the orgasm, attempting to demonstrate the existence of Freud’s theoretical premise of the libido, the libido energy. Remembering that Freud very specifically states that he believes eventually somebody would study the human organism and prove the existence of libido energy as a real substance not as a theoretical philosophical premise.

Reich, in a sense, always had this quality of being at the right idea at the wrong time; he decides to demonstrate this and he does; he successfully demonstrates the existence of this energy and its function at the very time that the psychoanalytic community and most other scientists are moving away from that, because it’s not comfortable and it’s leading to attacks by the moderates and the conservative right. This leads in Norway (if you’ve never been to Norway– it’s a small community where everybody knows everybody and it was smaller even so in his day. So he becomes a target for increasing attacks, he retreats more and more into his laboratory. I was there this last summer and it’s unusual for those of us who are interested in Reich.(But used to his being very marginalized here in the United States…) His home and laboratory has a plaque on it which is continuously stolen and replaced but it says that this was the home of Wilhelm Reich and this is where his laboratory was and this became an active center and landmark. He became active and he was so active he complains in “Beyond Psychology” that he couldn’t go out to a café without being either attacked or adulated and so he felt that he didn’t have any private life; which he longed for. But in Norway as he becomes more and more visible, more and more active, more and more central to the issues in Norway; key figures begin to emerge and become his students. He begins to attract so many students that move away from the center of psychoanalytic study that psychoanalysts begin to attack and particularly his closest associate and friend Otto Fenichel begins to organize an active campaign against him. Reich was often accused of being paranoid but we now know, from the archives and from the letters and from the writings, that this was not Reich’s invention. Fenichel was actively plotting against Reich and using Reich’s first wife, Annie Pink, to slander him; and Eric Fromm, another great hero of American new left, was also one of the people, who had been a student of Reich’s, and who begins to spread rumors about Reich at that time. The only one of Reich’s students, (…if you saw a list of Reich’s students and people who studied and attended his seminars, it’s quite amazing in terms of American intellectual life in the 60’s) who doesn’t lie and spread rumors is Karen Horney. Eric Fromm, Herbert Marcuse and on and on and on. Fromm actively steals and lifts, plagiarizes, work of Reich, changes bits and pieces; and then spreads the rumor along with Fenichel, in the United States, that Reich is psychotic. So Reich becomes more and more surrounded and he begins to spend more and more time,and this solution will become consistent with the rest of his life, he goes to the laboratory and work. For him work becomes central and it’s while doing this work and studying the libido where he attempts to prove the function of energy in the organism that he makes what he considers next to or even more important than his initial two major discoveries: the “Function of Orgasm” in the human organization of life function, and the discovery of what he will to name orgone energy or life energy. It is in Oslo, just before he leaves in his laboratory that he — and I won’t go into specific detail! ( If you want the actual details, which is an astounding story of science and science betrayed, by those who called themselves the keepers of science, you should read Dr. Strick’s book that was just published from Harvard University Press). It’s during this time that he discovers the existence — the literal and material existence — of this energy which he names orgone; the name is of no great significance the discovery is what it’s important. He discovers this just roughly at the time that he has to pack up and leave; literally has to pack up and leave, because the Nazi’s are coming to Norway; they’re in Scandinavia and are moving down and he gets out just in time. His choices are to move to England, where AS Neill, the founder of Summerhill, his closest and longest lasting friend, has offered him asylum and a future. I often speculate that had he gone to England he probably would’ve lived much longer and a more independent life. But he chooses the United States, basically encouraged by the idea that this is the place where democracy has the greatest opportunity, plus he has a number of students who have come from United States who have been very devoted to him; probably the most significant of which is Theodore Wolf, who is the first translator of most of Reich’s works into English;

Reich chooses the United States, basically encouraged by the idea that this is the place where democracy has the greatest opportunity, plus he has number of students who have come from United States who have been very devoted to him probably the most significant of which is Theodore Wolf, who is the first translator of most of Reich’s works into English.

although much of the translation becomes increasingly collaborative in the sense that Reich again in quite typical fashion his one of those guys who just consumes and seems to be able to incorporate knowledge. He gets English down very quickly and begins to use it very actively both in his writing and in his presentations. I’ve talked to a number of people who were present in New York City when Reich arrived by boat. In those days you can’t come by plane…so it was a long trip. When Reich arrived they reported it in the newspapers as a major event. A lot of exiles were coming from Europe. He was significant enough to be noted and his arrival was attended to by many of the key intellectuals in the Columbia and basically in Manhattan intellectual community or the East Coast intellectual community. One of the things that Reich points out in the “American Oddesy” and in some of his letters is that he chose not to socialize very much. He’d been very social in Europe in interpersonal relationships; in Europe he was referred to as Willie even by students. In United States he becomes more formal as Dr. Reich and he removes himself from active social process causing hostility. I’ve spoken to a number of people who were around when he was invited to parties that he declined to be the guest of honor and people were offended, but he removes himself actively into research and immediately sets up his laboratory again begins research on his discoveries and begins to train new and young therapist many of whom we’ve had contact with. Many of these young people came into contact with Reich very much the way Reich came into contact with Freud; they were told that there is this guy in New York who has some really interesting ideas that no one else is talking about and they went to hear lectures at The New School and these lectures were by all accounts often standing-room only and he begins to build a circle around him and he begins to train orgonomists. The more he sees at this point that the training is, for him, a means of earning the money needed the fund his research into his discovery of orgone energy. Now it’s very important I think to understand that Reich arrives in the United States at the beginning of The Second World War with the idea that he is now a major presence in the scientific world; the world of natural science, and his discoveries are, if controversial, significant and taken seriously. This will change over the war years and the events that take place in the 1950’s and on, but he begins to do more active research into the nature and function of this energy and makes incredible discoveries that will lead to his studying of what he later called the shrinking biopathy… although he’s best known to most of you, if you know it at all as the cancer biopathy, the study of cancer and its function. He later felt that cancer was too limited a focus that it was a much more profound and complex natural process of shrinking in living organisms. He begins to experiment and do treatment in this area.

He felt that the cancer was too limited a focus that it was a much more profound and complex natural process of shrinking in living organism. He begins to experiment and do treatment in this area.

Things begin to turn in on him again from both directions: both the medical establishment, and the pharmaceutical establishment, which is in its infancy. He warns, by the way, as early as the 1940’s, that the great threat to American health and wellbeing is the pharmaceutical industry and he sees it coming and of course it doesn’t gain the support of those corporate interests. But the scientific community has also moved, as James Strick points out, away from the line that Reich’s natural science is following. He increasingly becomes marginalized, for variety of reasons… and you can ask questions about that and explore that as others will present. And he demonstrates another quality I think that’s very crucial to understanding Reich as a person as well as scientist. He’s very open and trusting… sometimes too trusting and he allows reporters particularly, Mildred Eddy Brady to come in and very politely introduce herself as a friend, has a very lovely conversation with him and then publishes a scurrilous article condemning him as a crank and fraud and charlatan! This is often used as a key to Reich’s downfall. It is actually only a trigger. In fact what was behind this interestingly enough were groups like the Menenger brothers the famous Menenger clinic, who were actively participant in attacking Reich and in going after Reich. The American Psychoanalytic Association also supported by Otto Fenichel, who dies shortly around that time… very young — from a massive heart attack. He was writing letters actively throughout the psychoanalytic community undermining Reich and accusing him of all sorts of things. Reich’s wife and younger daughter become enemies; Lauri Reich, who is still alive is in her 80’s. She has now, finally after reading a number the archival materials; Laurie Reich, his daughter, has come to the conclusion that she was wrong, her father was not “the bad man” that she thought he was. The older daughter, Eva Reich, remains very close to him and becomes an orgonomist; becomes involved with the orgonomic work.

As a result of these attacks, these organized attacks; and it’s hard to understand how big these attacks were, he was sent to jail formally for failure to adhere to injunction.

So that brings me to the final stages, when, as a result of these attacks, these organized attacks; and it’s hard to understand how big this attack was… I could remember being 12 years old or so and hearing a news report on television, in Brooklyn, about this guy being sent to jail in 56 and so he was a significant player and that’s something often sadly lost on contemporary audiences or in the limited number of people who even know who Reich is and care; but he is sent to jail. And this is very important to understand: He is not sent to jail for anything to do with his scientific work, although behind it this is clearly the backdrop. He is sent to jail formally for failure to adhere to an injunction. ..and actually he never violated the injunction he just technically violated the injunction in a sense that he was the President of The Trust and since he was the President and signed off on it the fact that one of his associates, Dr. Silvet, continued to do work with the research and treatment of illness with orgone accumulators, he was found guilty of violating the injunction and he was sentenced, to everyone’s surprise, sentenced to 2 years in jail; to which even the judge who imposed sentence, thought was extreme. There were petitions signed by international circles of people who you would quickly recognize by name saying that this is a serious scientists and to not take action. He was sentenced to jail. He went to jail and he died in jail. He died essentially… probably from complications from the flu.

He died in jail essentially probably from complications from the flu.

There are conspiracy theories that continue to insist that there were something else but all indications in the evidence appear that he died from complications of the flue and heart failure. Then all hell broke loose: the estate was in disarray, the doctors and people working with him didn’t know what to do. Eventually things stabilized and through the intercession of one of the orgonomist who knew a young woman who was interested in, was interested in the work and wanted to find some real vital work in her life, took on the incredible task of saving and preserving Reich’s legacy, that was Marry Higgens who is still alive and up in Orgonon.

A young woman who was interested in the work and wanted to find some real vital work in her life, took on the incredible task of saving and preserving Reich’s legacy, that was Marry Higgens who is still alive and up in Orgonon.

Kevin Hinchy when he arrives will present that. Kevin Hinchy is the co-director now of the Wilhelm Reich Trust. The archives were slowly and arduously found and preserved with some missing sections and that’s a historical side track… but overall those archives have now been collected standardized and are as you have been told at the Countway Library, at Harvard; and for serious scholars there is access to an amazing amount of vital material.

Overall those archives have now been collected standardized and are as you have been told at the Countway Library, at Harvard, and for serious scholars there is an access to an amazing amount of vital material.

I’ll end with one anecdote… since I’m famous for my anecdotes — or infamous for my anecdotes: Dr. Sobey, who I studied with many years and who spent the last 12 years of Reich’s life very close to him and was at times his assistance, once asked Reich about his reputation as a lover and who he had been with and this and that and he told Dr. Sobey that… “You know I have a black book that I keep privately and which I listed every woman I have been with and every detail of each… and I will not allow it to be released for at least a 100 years after my death!” I asked Mary Higgens and Kevin Hinchy and I’ve asked everyone else who have been in the archive if they found such a book and evidently it doesn’t exist. We can assume that this was Reich’s way of saying that this is a stupid concern. He was evidently a very deeply committed father and husband and as deeply committed in his relationships as he was in his work. If you listen to the tapes of Reich and if you ever have an occasion to see some of the little active footage you’ll be shocked and surprised as many of you I think have been to know that he was quite lively… I felt when I first heard him I was going to hear this deep dramatic and Germanic power but he is very lively… and that’s my overview of who Reich was I don’t know if it serves you but hopefully it gets you started.

If you listen to the tapes of Reich and if you ever have an occasion to see some of the little active footage, you will be shocked and surprised to know that he was quite lively… and that’s my overview of who Reich was, I don’t know if it serves you but hopefully it gets you started.

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The Tragic Life, Depression and Suicide of Mindy McCready – Post-mortem analysis

On February 17, 2013, the U.S. media reported the suicide of country singer, Mindy McCready. She was once known to be a Nashville superstar, but reportedly addiction, arrest, and her boyfriend’s death culminated in her suicide at age 37. She suffered from long-standing problems, according to recent newspaper and magazine articles, and had a poor relationship with her mother. She had been in abusive relationships and was arrested in 2005 with charges of drunk driving.  In September of the same year, she was treated for her second suicide attempt, and six months later gave birth to her first son. In 2007, she was arrested for brawling with her mother while intoxicated. She was sentenced to a year in jail and two more years of probation and community service and served five months of this sentence. In 2008, when she was hospitalized for a suicide attempt, her mother gained custody of her son. More recently, in 2013, she entered a court-ordered rehabilitation center, checked herself out one day later and shortly  thereafter, she shot herself in the mouth, on the porch of her home, where her boyfriend, Wilson, had committed suicide.  Journalists reported that the suicide marked a brutal end for a singer who had once been among Nashville’s brightest stars before a toxic spiral of reckless relationships, arrests, addictions, and family fights began nearly a decade ago. People magazine quoted her former fiancé: “This is a woman who had so much talent and just self-destructed.” People reported, “A once vivacious beauty whose big voice matched her outsized confidence, McCready had fallen so far into the abyss that when local law enforcement arrived at her house on February 17th, after neighbors heard gunshots, they encountered a harrowing scene. ‘Food was out, it smelled really bad, the dog had pooped everywhere on the floor,’ says a police source. McCready was filthy. The TV was on, everything was a mess. The bed wasn’t made–it was just a bare mattress. The kitchen counter, nightstand, and bathroom were full of prescription pills.”

A short biography printed in People magazine stated the following:

“A native of Fort Myers Florida she tousled from an early age with her parents, who split when she was nine. She moved to Nashville at seventeen, and helped care for her younger brothers, Tim and Joeseph. ‘It’s a miracle that all of us survived,’ she told People magazine in 2010. ‘By the grace of God we all made it.’ But at age 18, she met veteran Nashville producer, David Malloy, and her life changed forever. The former head of RCA Nashville had said, ‘She was charming, she was drop-dead gorgeous, she was sweet, she could connect and people went nuts, and she was a great singer.’ ‘But cracks in the wall soon began to surface,’ says Morses (her music manager). ‘I think she had some emotional scars from her childhood, and she had a tumultuous relationship with her mother.  She didn’t know honesty could come with love.’  Her romance with Chan, now 46, fizzled in 1998 after a year. The former Lois and Clark star remembers her as ‘Poisonous. She was never abusive or addictive with me, but red flags were everywhere. I saw all the bad signs and told her to get out. She would start arguments, start drama. Things weren’t allowed to be good.’”
Mindy McCready: People Magazine Cover Page

People also reports that Galanti dropped her from the label after her third album. Starting with an arrest in 2004 for faking prescriptions, she spent the next four years in and out of court, particularly as her volatile relationship with aspiring singer Billy McKnight turned ugly. (She also waged a long-running custody battles over their son, Zander, who was placed in her mother’s care during McCready’s rehab and jail stint). “I lost myself in that relationship,” she told People in 2010. Everybody turned their back on me because they couldn’t stand to watch me. I was killing myself.” In between arrests, suicide attempts, and rehab stays, she would resolve to start over. “I’ve done things that are completely stupid and wrong,” she said in 2010. “But I wasn’t crazy. I was doing crazy things. I was just really empty and searching for anything to latch onto.”

There are thousands of McCreadys with similar, tragic lives, in and out of rehab and psychiatric hospitals, who eventually end their lives by suicide or self-destructive behavior.  One of my patients,  molested as a child with deep emotional wounds from childhood, had later begun abusing street drugs and was in and out of psychiatric hospitals for depression and suicidal behavior.  Few years into treatment, he stated, “Doctor, three of my friends who were doing drugs with me are dead now; it’s a miracle that I’m not dead or in prison by now.”

Sadly, we will never hear these words from Mindy Mcready.  After several psychiatric hospitalizations along with hospitalizations in rehab and detox centers, McCready’s condition continued to decline, ultimately leading her to suicide. This history is not unique to McCready; millions of lost lives throughout the world reflect the failure of the medical and psychiatric professions. We attribute this shortcoming partly to the profession’s departure from Freud’s—and by extension—Reich’s discoveries.

Among the range of medical and psychological treatment approaches, only psychiatric orgone therapy and psychoanalysis or analytical psychology can understand and penetrate a patient’s unconscious mind and explore deep emotional wounds buried in the unconscious. Other treatment modalities, although comforting and helpful to the patient,  are incapable of impacting the unconscious mind, let alone healing the wounds buried within it.

Psychoanalytically, it is not difficult to trace back McCready’s problems to her early relationship with her parents as evidenced in her later life conflicts with her parents, particularly her mother. Of course, psychoanalytic theory and technique dictate that “interpersonal” conflicts such as the one between McCready and her mother may not necessarily reflect the unconscious intra-psychic conflict within the patient. Likewise, a superficially harmonious relationship with a parent may still, in the process of psychoanalysis, reveal a deep intra-psychic unconscious conflict. Nevertheless, more likely than not, the chronicity of the conflict reflects a deeper intra-psychic conflict. In classical Freudian psychoanalysis, parental conflicts can be traced back to the early ages of three or four years old when, according to classical psychoanalytic theory, the child must experience and resolve the conflict when tensions with the same-sex parent heighten.   An unresolved conflict—referred to by Freud as the Oedipus complex—impacts the individual’s later life.  In psychoanalytic treatment, resolution of this conflict is of central importance. A psychoanalytic technique dictates that the patient lie on a couch. He or she is encouraged to “free associate”—to say whatever comes to his or her mind without censoring thoughts. Through free association and interpretation of dreams, symbols and thoughts, unconscious memories, fear, anger, and sadness associated with this period of life become conscious and by resolving these feelings of the early conflict, the patient is expected to improve.  According to Reich, the goal of psychiatric orgone therapy is the same as in psychoanalysis: to revive the earliest childhood memories.  However, the approach and technique differ enough that the approach can no longer be described as psychoanalysis.

In The Function of Orgasm, Reich states,

“The goal of my work is the same today as it was twenty years ago: the reawakening of the earliest childhood experiences. However, the method of achieving this has changed considerably, so much so in fact that it can no longer be called psychoanalysis.”

In psychiatric orgone therapy, psychiatrists place greater emphasis on a patient’s physical appearance, demeanor, speech and behavior than on the information that the patient discloses. In other words, psychiatric orgone therapist attributes less importance to what the patient says than to how he or she says it. Even the most subtle physical cues are significant and reflect a patient’s character.

For example, in The Function of Orgasm, Reich stated,

“It never ceases to be surprising how the loosening of a muscular spasm not only releases the vegetative energy, but, over and above this, reproduces a memory of that situation in infancy in which the repression of the instinct occurred. It can be said that every muscular rigidity contains the history and the meaning of its origin. It is not as if we had to derive from dreams or associations how the muscular armor developed; the armor is the form in which the infantile experience is preserved as an impairment of functioning. For example, the neurosis is not solely the expression of a disturbance of psychic equilibrium; it is, rather, in a far more justified and deeper sense, the expression of a chronic disturbance of the vegetative equilibrium and of natural motility.”

In psychiatric orgone therapy, the psychiatrist traces the pathologic changes in the patient starting far earlier than the ages of 3 or 4 years when the Oedipus complex begins. In contrast, the orgonomic psychiatrist believes that traumatic events can begin at—or just prior to—birth; nevertheless, he or she acknowledges that events in later life can—and do—exacerbate  earlier trauma.

In Reich Speaks of Freud, Reich states,

“You break the will of the infant, of the child. Not when it is in the Oedipus phase. That’s a consequence. That’s later. No, before it’s born and soon after, in the first two weeks of life. And, then, the child withdraws. It resigns with a big “NO.” It doesn’t say, “No.” It doesn’t scream, “No.” But there is an expression of “No.” It’s a giving up. You can see it in the hospitals. There’s no doubt about it. The damage is being done right there, in the very beginning –right before and after birth. There is the disposition for all the rest of it.”

Freud also discovered pre-genital developmental stages in children such as oral and anal stages that occur prior to the development of the Oedipal phase. In fact, he described issues of conflicts and fixations from those earlier stages that leave their sequelae in the later life of the child. However, psychoanalysis relies on words, and words are incapable of penetrating the stages before language development; therefore, even in successful cases, psychoanalysis is unable to penetrate beyond language development, which doesn’t begin until approximately two years old.

In a taped recording, Freud stated that he hoped his discovery of the unconscious would be a decisive help in treating neurosis. However, considering the lengthy process of the psychoanalytic technique in unearthing unconscious material, numerous obstacles and difficulties in that process and its dubious results have disappointed mental health professionals, and Freud’s techniques are no longer widely used for psychiatric treatment. In previous articles, I sited the 1993 article, “Is Freud Dead?” from Time magazine. After extensive research, the author of the article concluded that perhaps psychoanalysis is no better than many other approaches that provide false solace.

In the November 29th, 1993 Time Magazine, there was an article titled, “Is Freud Dead”? By the end of the article, the author concludes that “psychoanalysis and all of its off shoots, may in final analysis, turn out to be no more reliable than countless other pseudosciences that once offered unsubstantiated answers or false solace.”

This failure of psychoanalysis can partly be attributed to the fact that psychoanalysis relies on words, which are usually incapable of penetrating the physical or somatic domain—the tissues and fibers of the body where conflicts are anchored. Psychoanalysis and analytical psychology are unable to dislodge these conflicts from this anchor and thus become stuck, eventually stagnating while the therapeutic process falls apart. Thus, a different understanding and technique are necessary. Psychiatric orgone therapy provides this theory and technique.

As orgonomic psychiatrists, we work on a patient’s character and its counterpart, the physical and somatic domains that are reflected in a patient’s character.  We try to uncover and unmask the patient’s superficial, deceptive behavior that hides the genuine, underlying feelings and acts as a defensive structure. Like Mindy McCready, patients with superficial, vivacious personalities or those with other charming behaviors no longer deceive us. We see those behaviors as armor behind which patients hide their deeper conflicts and emotions.

In treating patients, we often face the defensive surface behavior and attitude that psychological improvement cannot be achieved, except by chance, if this defensive structure is not dealt with. The patients resist and frustrate the therapist’s efforts if the surface behavior, the armor, is not resolved.

In The Function of Orgasm, Reich states,

“I found that people reacted with deep hatred to every disturbance of the neurotic balance of their armor . . . .  The patient would complain about the emptiness of his experiences. But when I pointed out the same emptiness in the nature of his communications, in his coolness, in his grandiloquent or hypocritical nature, he became angry. He was aware of the symptoms, headache or a tic, as something alien but his character was the person himself. He was disturbed when it was pointed out to him. What was it that prevented a person from perceiving his own personality? After all it is what he is! Gradually I came to understand that it is the entire being that constitutes the compact, tenacious mass which obstructs all analytic efforts. The patient’s whole personality, his character, his individuality resisted analysis. But why? The only explanation is that it fulfills a secret function of defense and protection.”

With reasonable certainty, we can attribute Mindy McCready’s signing out from the hospital after one day—against medical advice—and her suicide a day later, to this resistance of accepting her own emptiness and her own inner conflict and refusal to face it. In other words, her unresolved armored structure prevented her from seeking genuine psychological help.

Mindy McCready and Dr. Drew

When a defensive surface layer is unveiled, repressed emotions are stirred up and moved.  A patient recognizes this movement in their organism and when there is movement, there is hope.  As painful and saddening as it may be, the release of the hidden emotions in the patient brings relief. It brings hope to the patient, making her or him feel that change is possible, that there is a movement toward healing. This changes the hopelessness that could plunge a patient to suicide. In fact, Reich stated, “However the fact speaks for itself that, as extensive and protean as my practice has been, I have not had a single case of suicide. It was not until much later that I came to understand the cases of suicide that happened during treatment. Patients committed suicide when their sexual energy had been stirred up but was prevented from attaining adequate discharge.” Of course, as therapists, we modulate the resolution of armor and the release of a patient’s repressed feelings incrementally, to ensure that he or she is capable of assimilating the feelings.

In spite of many years of conventional treatment, Mindy McCready and thousands of others like her suffered from severe depression and ultimately committed suicide, a clear indication that conventional psychiatry fails in many cases. Most physicians choose the profession with the intention to help and to heal. They feel the pain of the patients and want to alleviate it. It is painful to see the pain, suffering, and sadness that eventually destroy the person and his or her potential. It is painful for physicians to see that the patient does not improve in spite of their efforts—that the patient’s life ends tragically. Hence, it is prudent to include psychiatric orgone therapy as an extension of psychoanalysis. We believe that such an inclusion will save many lives, strengthen the profession and, of course, bring great satisfaction to psychiatrists and therapists.

Mindy McCready



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In Pursuit of Happiness

“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” is a widely-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. It is one of the most influential and frequently cited phrases in the English Language. This phrase is “meant to exemplify the ‘unalienable rights’ with which all human beings are endowed by their creator and for the protection of which they institute governments.” (Wikipedia).

Why is there such a widespread unhappiness among the masses, manifesting itself in so many different forms? The prevalence of criminal behavior, alcohol and substance abuse, all types of perversions, wars, and the killings of innocent people as if it is a pleasurable sport. Despite being much talked about, why have the people, their governments and their institutions alike nonetheless failed to pave a clear path of happiness, which is sought for by individuals and masses?

Philosophers and pioneer thinkers have long contemplated this enigma. Jean Jacques Rousseau, in the preface of his book The Social Contract states, “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains. How did this change came about? I do not know.” The well-known Persian poet and philosopher, Haféz, crystalizes the meaning of Rousseau’s statement in a single line of poetry when he says:

“A human being worthy of his name cannot be created on this earth,
A New world is needed and a human being anew.”

According to legend, Diogenes, a Greek philosopher, (412-322BC) was seen walking through the streets of Athens in the bright light of the day carrying a lantern. When questioned as to why he was doing this, he responded, “I’m looking for a true human.”

In his 1929 book Civilization and Its Discontent, Freud, in a sign of resignation, states “Life as it is imposed on us, is too hard for us, full of pain and disillusionment and impossible task. In order to bare it we cannot do without palliatives. There are perhaps three of these powerful palliatives, diversions of interests which make us think little of our misery, substitute gratifications which lessen it and narcotics which make us insensitive to it. Something of this kind is indispensable.”

In The Function of the Orgasm, Reich says the following:

While it is true that in his book, Civilization and Its Discontent, Freud reaffirmed that natural sexual pleasure is the aim of human striving for happiness, it is also true that he tried to demonstrate the untenability of this principle. His basic theoretical and practical formula continued to read: “man normally, and of necessity, advances from the ‘pleasure principle’ to the ‘reality principle.’ He has to forgo pleasure and to adjust himself to reality.” The irrational components of this ‘reality,’ which today celebrate orgies of annihilation, were not questioned, nor was a distinction made between those pleasures which are compatible with sociality and those which are not.

In the same book, Reich goes on to describe his view of the happiness that man can expect. He states:

I was accused of being a utopian, of wanting to eliminate unpleasure from the world and safeguard pleasure only. However, I had put down in black and white that conventional upbringing makes people incapable of pleasure by armoring them against unpleasure. Pleasure and joy of life are inconceivable without struggle, painful experiences, and unpleasurable self-confrontations. Psychic health is characterized, not by the Nirvana theory of the Yogis and the Buddhists, the hedonism of the epicureans, the renunciation of monasticism; it is characterized by the alteration between unpleasurable struggle and happiness, error and truth, deviation and rectification, rational hate and rational love; in short, by being fully alive in all situations of life.

The authoritarian and anti-sexual upbringing of children, as is currently prevalent in most cultures around the world, makes them characterologically armored and incapable of flexibility, and thus incapable of experiencing pleasure and love to its fullest. The authoritarian and sex-negating upbringing that our children are molded with is the primary source of characterological armoring which, even under the best of conditions, renders them incapable of experiencing healthy and natural pleasure in adulthood. As adults, they then turn into the harshest enemy of any freedom which once they themselves longed so dearly in their childhood and adolescence. Such a process of armoring destroys the very possibility of attaining happiness. Declaration of Independence cannot make people happy simply by announcing the slogan of man’s ‘unalienable’ right to be happy.

From the book Listen Little Man by Wilhelm Reich, with illustration by William Steig

Once the armoring process is set into motion in the human organism, it becomes a source for a vast array of pathologies. Reich in The Cancer Biopathy states:

Biopathic shrinking begins with a chronic preponderance of contraction and an inhibition of expansion in the plasma system. These are the result of physical and emotional armoring. Once this process has started, this dysfunction can manifest itself in a variety of symptomatic disease patterns. A biopathy can result in carcinoma (carcinomatous bipoathy) but it can just as easily lead to angina pectoris, asthma, cardiovascular hypertension, catatonic or paranoid schizophrenia, anxiety neurosis, chronic alcoholism etc. We are still ignorant of the factors that determine the direction in which a biopathy will develop. However of prime importance to us is the common denominator of all these diseases: a disturbance in the natural function of pulsation in the total organism.

In a lecture given in Germany, Dr. Morton Herskowitz described armoring in this way:

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 by kind. It renders behavior more predictable, more stereotype. Armoring puts life in constraint. Armoring is most often revealed in muscular tension, but it is also revealed in eyes that are glazed, in excessive body tension etc. It is a dynamic event and it entails consumption of energy. It constrains us physically, emotionally, and ideationally. It is a cocoon to which we gradually become accustomed.

A child who has been brought up under the suppression of authority, with the fear of pleasure in general, and the fear of sexual pleasure at its core in particular, becomes armored and becomes incapable of attaining happiness, which in biological and physical domain is identical to expansion. Such a creature becomes distorted, hateful, neurotic, and suffers from within. He may become inflicted with emotional plague and develop impulses to destroy the happiness he sees in others. Such characaterological distortions lay the grounds for dictatorship and prepares masses for a leader who can manipulate them.

From the book Listen Little Man by Wilhelm Reich, with illustration by William Steig

In the introductory section of The Function of the Orgasm, Reich says:

The character structure of a modern man, who reproduces 6000 years old patriarchal authoritarian culture, is typified by characterological armoring against his inner nature and against the social misery which surrounds him. The characterological armoring is the basis of isolation, craving for authority, fear of responsibility, mystical longing, and sexual misery. The neurotically impotent rebellions, as well as pathological tolerance. Man has alienated himself from and has grown hostile toward life.

Therefore, let’s be honest: Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness cannot be achieved by merely a slogan; it also needs a social reform. One has to comprehend the changes that are necessary to create healthy human organisms capable of happiness. To create such circumstances, one has to revamp his thinking. The cultural upbringing of children that makes them incapable of healthy and natural happiness should be comprehended and addressed. Hurdles in the way must be identified and removed out of the way if we are serious to claim happiness as our and our children’s “unalienable” right.

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Reich’s Point’s of Departure from Freud

Following article transcribed from a lecture given by Dr Simonian at UCLA in 2009.

I want to tell you how I was introduced to Dr. Reich and how I came to know Dr. Wilhelm Reich.  When I was in my second year of residency training, there were a lot of  different psychiatric theories and psychoanalytic theories. There was a lot of confusion about these different approaches and students of psychiatry were generally lost in these theories. I accidentally came across a book in the library with the title of Reich speaks of Freud.

He knew what he was talking about, his ideas were precise, to the point, and clear. So I couldn’t free myself from him and I continued pursuing his theories and writings. I did it all alone because there were no teachings of Reich in any of the institutes or psychiatry residency programs.  So I was all  by myself,  however I kept reading Reich and kept experiencing his theories on my own, until I discovered his museum.  I started going to the museum every summer for conferences. At one of the summer conferences, I met Dr.  Morton Herskowitz who was a student of Reich himself and he was and still is practicing Philadelphia.  So I was driving from Boston, MA to Philadelphia, seeing him every 2 weeks or so.  I progressed to the extent that I don’t think it is possible for me to practice psychiatry without Reichian Theories.

I wanted to give this lecture because I benefited tremendously from Dr. Reich’s teachings and treatment approaches both in my personal life and in my practice, and I think that we are obliged to share it with others when we ourselves benefit from something.

Reich vs Freud

Orgonomy, which is a body of knowledge that Dr. Reich has set forth, actually grew in the womb of  Freud’s psychoanalysis.  Dr. Reich was a student of Freud and was first a psychoanalyst himself, but later on they split from each other. Actually, in one of his books, The Function of the Orgasm, Reich describes his relationship with Freud.  He says that he first saw Freud when he was a medical student.   They were studying sexuality in medical school, and he approached Freud to get more information about sexuality.  This is Reich’s description of Freud, “Freud was different, whereas the others played some kind of a role, he did not put on any airs. He spoke to me as a completely ordinary person. He had bright intelligent eyes, which did not seek to penetrate another persons eyes, but simply look at the world in an honest and truthful way. I had been apprehensive in going to him but I went away cheerful and happy.  From that day on, I spent 14 years in intensive work in psychoanalysis.  In the end I was severely disappointed in Freud, fortunately the disappointment did not lead to hatred and rejection . I am happy to have been his student for such a long time without having criticized him prematurely and with complete devotion to his cause.”

Freud’s major theories

  • Libido theory (economic theory).
  • Topographic theory (theory of consciousness and unconsciousness)
  • Structural theory, (theory of Id, ego and superego).

To tell you how Reich’s theories evolved, I have to tell you about Freud’s theories first.  Freud had proposed 3 major theories.  The Libido theory was one of his initial theories. By observing children he realized that there is an innate energy in the child that initially is concentrated on the oral area, children put things in their mouth, suck things.  Then later on as they grow in the second year, that energy moves to anal area, then around age 3 the energy gets concentrated on the genital area. The topographic theory is a theory of conscious and unconscious, and the structural theory is a theory of id ego and super ego.

Freud’s 2 types of neurosis

  • Stasis neurosis or actual neurosis caused by disturbance in sexual life and damming up of sexual energy
  • Psychoneurosis has an underlying core of stasis neurosis

He postulated that because of an unhealthy sexual life or abstinence, the libido energy gets blocked and damned up , accumulates and causes toxic reaction in the body which causes palpitations and hyperventilation. So he called it stasis neurosis.  Counseling and helping the person not to be abstinent may improve the stasis neurosis.

However  psychoneurosis is caused when a person has obsessional  thoughts or phobias, and is a result of  unconscious conflicts and needs psychoanalytic techniques for treatment.  Nevertheless, psychoneurosis also has a core of stasis neurosis, an accumulation of damned up energy.  Reich later on says if psychoneurosis had a core of stasis neurosis and stasis neurosis had a superstructure of psychoneurosis, then was there any need for differentiation of these two?

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Treatment

For the treatment of neurosis, Freud suggested that when the unconscious conflicts become conscious the neurosis should improve.  When the unconscious roots of neurotic symptoms become conscious, the patient must improve, however later on he changed his statement and said “ the patient may improve”.

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Technique

Freud’s psychoanalytic technique was that the patient lays on the couch and  is encouraged to free associate.  The assumption is that by talking, one idea will bring another idea, like links of a chain, and eventually will get to the unconscious.  The analyst helps and gives suggestions, and when  the unconscious becomes conscious, the neurosis should improve and symptoms should improve.
Also, the interpretation of dreams was something that Freud suggested as a tool to get to the unconscious. Because dreams symbolically reflect unconscious conflict but needs interpretation.  So these were types of therapeutic techniques that were suggested by Freud.  However the treatment results have not been encouraging.

Freud discovered libido energy, childhood sexuality and presence of unconsciousness which promised treatment of neurosis
But his theory and technique did not always lead to improvement. He himself changed his statement later on and said, “when unconsciousness roots of the neurotic symptoms become conscious patient’s may improve” Perhaps these failures led to today’s abandonment in psychoanalysis

In the November 29th, 1993 Time Magazine, there was an article titled, “Is Freud Dead”? By the end of the article, the author concludes that “psychoanalysis and all of it’s off shoots, may in final analysis, turn out to be no more reliable than countless other pseudosciences that once offered unsubstantiated answers or false solace.”
Now this is a heavy word, because Freud’s discoveries are major discoveries.  Freud is the one that discovered libido energy, childhood sexuality, and presence of unconscious which promised treatment for neurosis.  However this was the result, that after several decades, Time Magazine’s article concluded that this is a pseudoscience that offers false solace or false hope.

These failures of psychoanalysis caused Reich to depart from Freud. His aim was to further psychoanalysis, to make it work better, and to refine it. That is what Reich was trying to do.

Character Analysis

Reich moved from psychoanalysis to character analysis.  In character analysis, the most importance was given to the way the patient talks  versus what he says. Reich focuses on how the person is talking, he says words can lie, but expressions never lie.

Reich’s Major Theories

In the pursuit of furthering Freud’s achievements Reich proposed two major theories

  • Orgasm theory
  • Theory of armoring

These two theories  developed concomitantly and parallel to each other, but later on they merged and became integrated with each other.

Orgasm Theory

Reich realized that patients who were able to achieve sexual satisfaction visibly improved, and as long as this sexual potency and satisfaction persisted, the symptoms did not come back. He presented his findings of the patients he was treating, but he was rebuffed by psychoanalysts. Many psychoanalyst said that they have patients who are sexually very potent, but have neurotic symptoms. Reich says that until 1923, only erective potency and ejaculation were known without the inclusion of other aspect of sex economy.
In other words anyone who was able to have sex was considered to be sexually potent.  He says that at that time he started to analyze this matter in detail and realized that there was a difference in what he was describing as orgastic and sexual potency and what the prevailing concept of sexual potency was.

In the book, Function of Orgasm, in explaining his orgasm theory, Reich says, “Until 1923 only ejaculation and erective potency were known without the inclusion of other aspects of sex economy and experiential components” Unfortunately the situation is not changed even today in contemporary medicine and psychiatry

Very little importance has been given to the matter of sexuality and orgastic potency in medicine. You can not find one medical book that deals with it, but it is well dealt with in the Reichian theories and Reich’s writings.

Erective and ejaculative potency are merely indispensable conditions for orgastic potency.  But that alone is not enough.

What is Orgastic Potency?

The orgastic potency is the capacity to surrender to the flow of biological energy free of any inhibition and fantasies
It is the capacity to discharge completely the dammed up sexual excitation and energy through involuntary pleasurable convulsions.

I’ll give you an example.  Once I was treating a patient who was very promiscuous, she was having a lot of sexual relations, she was also using substances and drugs, she had a very unhealthy and disturbed life. One day I asked her that when she has relations with men, does she have sexual satisfaction?  She said no, I said how do you get sexual satisfaction.  She said that “I get sexual satisfaction when I masturbate”.  I said “then what is the fantasy of your masturbation”.  She said “doctor, I don’t know why this is, I have to fantasize that a small child’s throat is slashed and blood is coming out to be able to have an orgasm”. So there are lots of strange fantasies which go with orgasm, but this is not a healthy sexual orgasm, this is not what Reich was talking about when speaking of orgasm.  So these matters are not dealt in medicine, there are no books about it,  they never talk about it, and they never analyze it. The reason is that I think even today, these matters are still taboo, and even in medicine people don’t want to deal with it. But people’s health is at stake here in these matters.  That is why I think Reich is very important and should be studied much more deeply and thoroughly.

Orgasm theory  encompasses concepts of:

  • Expansion and contraction of living protoplasm and its psychological expression as pleasure and displeasure and its relation to autonomic nervous system.
  • Sex economy, the metabolism of biological energy (orgone energy) in the organism.
  • Pulsetory nature of living organism.
  • Capacity of self regulation of living organism by regulating the energy metabolism.
  • Formula of mechanical tension, charge, discharge and relaxation.

If you go to a doctor and ask what the difference is between someone who is capable of having an orgasm and someone who is not capable of having an orgasm, they don’t know.  But there must be a difference, there must be some reason, it’s a physiological reaction, but they don’t give any significance to it.

Theory of Armoring

Armor is defined as total defensive apparatus of the organism consisting of the rigidities of the character and the chronic spasms of the musculature, which functions essentially as a defense against the break through of the emotions – primarily anxiety, rage and sexual excitation, sadness and fear.
Armoring happens in the process of the interaction of the child with environmental prohibitions in the process of the struggle of primary motives with outside inhibitions.

There is drive, and an inhibition that opposes that.  A child pushes, asks for something, or wants something, and when comes to the inhibition, initially puts up a fight and protests, but then gradually submits to it.
A part of the drive disassociates, then it turns against itself, then that part itself acts as the inhibition force. This is the mechanism of why children become like their parents.  I have many patients that ask me, “doctor, I hated what my father and my mother did, but I catch myself doing the same thing.” Why? Because of this mechanism.  The person becomes armored and part of the outer qualities becomes ingrained in it and acts against itself and assumes the inhibition that the world was dictating.

Patients were armored against therapeutic suggestions and treatment in general. The character armor was the mechanism which was blocking the affect

However this character that the person shows has a somatic and psychical component, a muscular and physical component.

Theory of Armoring:  Physical and Muscular Armoring

Somatic counterpart of the armor: Functionally identical with character armor but rooted in the physical realm.  They cannot be separated.

Character armor functions in the realm of psychology, but it has physical and somatic components that acts in the realm of the body.
In 1933 Reich was treating a man who offered considerable resistance to uncovering his passive homosexual fantasies. This resistance was overtly expressed in an extremely stern and stiff attitude of his neck and throat. Reich says that constant attack on his defensive attitude and the stiffness of neck and throat caused him finally to yield.  Although in an alarming way. For three days he became shaken by manifestations of vegetative autonomic shock. His skin was spotted and mottled. The pallor of his face changed from white to yellow and blue. He experienced violent pains in his neck and back of the head. His heartbeat was rapid and pounding, and he had diarrhea and felt tired, and seemed to have lost control.  the musculature, the muscles that were stiff and contracted had the function of inhibiting. When the neck muscles relaxed, powerful impulses as if  unleashed from a taut coil broke through. Biological sexual energy can be bound by chronic muscular tensions.  Anger and anxiety can also be blocked by muscular tensions. So from here on, Reich realized that there was a physical component on the persons character attitude that was manifesting.  These two armorings, one in the psychological realm and one in the physical realm, are functionally identical, they can not be separated from each other, they have identical function and they are interrelated with each other.

Muscular Armor is Defined As:

Total muscular and physical attitudes and chronic muscular spasms. Develops as a defense against breakthrough of organ sensations and emotions. In particular rage, sexual excitation, etc.

Muscular Armor

The inhibition of the primary impulses produces secondary impulses and anxiety.
This is a schematic manifestation of the human organism. Here is the center of the organism, this is the primary impulse, and when it hits the armor, it changes and changes it’s quality.  It develops secondary impulses or neurotic symptoms and from here on it can change to anything, it can become a sadistic impulse, it can turn into unhealthy impulses. So from here on, this armor becomes the base of the pathology in the person and causes all sorts of sicknesses and behaviors such as passive-aggressive behavior.

Psychosomatic Identity & Antithesis

Now you see here how psychology, which is the patients character attitude, and somatic and physical condition are getting integrated with each other, one is attached to the other, they can not be separated. The man with a stern neck also had a defensive attitude. Defensive attitude is something in the psychological realm, while the stern neck is the muscular and physical realm.  So you see how these two are related to each other. From here on, the concept of psychosomatic illnesses develops, but this is unique to orgonomy, you can not find this understanding in general medicine. That’s why they are helpless when it comes to psychosomatic illnesses.
In any medical or psychiatric book, in the section of psychosomatic illnesses, you will see that the author talks of  how psyche and soma are related, and that there should be a psyche and soma unity, but if you keep going down a few paragraphs, you see that again that he is talking as if psyche is something here and soma is something there, in a duality type of manner, and they soon loose what they were talking about, the unity of psyche and soma. They don’t have the concept of unity, this is specific to orgonomy.

Integration of Orgasm Theory & Theory of Armoring

Disturbance of flow of bio-psycho-sexual energy  (orgone energy) which causes disturbance in orgasm and happens mostly by the process of armoring.

The libido energy, that Reich later on called orgone energy, the disturbance of its flow, which also causes disturbance of  orgasm, happens by the process of armoring. Armoring is one of the major reasons that the flow of energy becomes disturbed.  So you see how these theories are getting integrated and fitting into each other, the theory of armoring and theory of orgasm.

In  psychoanalysis, the model for the treatment of the patient is conscious and unconscious, and also id, ego, and super ego, which we talked about earlier.  While in orgonomy, our model is core, middle layer, and outer layer.    Outer layer is the way that the person presents. Middle layer is the different impulses that are conflicting with each other and then there is the core.

Pathogenesis of Armoring

Armoring disturbs and distorts the orderly flow of bio-sexual energy in the body. This becomes the pathogenic base for many emotional and physical illnesses. It also causes emotional plague

Emotional Plague

Armoring causes secondary drives that may present itself as sadistic and destructive impulses that harms society in general
From here on Reich’s theories gain significance in sociology

Reich called emotional plague the impulses that get distorted by armoring. Secondary motives that get distorted and become sadistic and destructive to society.  From here on Reich’s theories transcend  psychology, psychiatry and medicine, and it enter into social work and sociology.


The body of knowledge that was set forth by Dr. Wilhelm Reich is collectively called orgonomy.  This is an extension of Freud’s libido theory

Psychiatric Orgone Therapy

Based on resolution of armor, re-establishment of orderly flow of energy and orgastic reflex. Its technique is different from psychoanalytic technique.

The treatment that is offered by Dr. Reich’s techniques are called psychiatric orgone therapy. This is based on the resolution of  the armor, if the armor is the main pathologic entity that disturbs the flow of the energy , then our work in treating the patient should be in removing the armor.  Resolution of armor is done in two ways.  One is by character analysis, which is in the realm of psychology, and the other is by the resolution of muscular and physical armoring, analysis of the physical armoring and resolution of this armoring, which is in the realm of the body. This technique is different from psychoanalysis.

Orgone Energy

In the pursuit of identifying and quantifying this energy, Reich discovered its existence in all living organisms as well as in the atmosphere. He called it orgone energy. Why orgone energy? Because of its relationship to body organs and its relationship to the orgasm theory and organism.

Harvesting Orgone Energy

Reich tried to improve and strengthen the energetic state of his patients by accumulating and harvesting orgone energy from the atmosphere and making it available for his patients
He designed accumulators of orgone energy

“….The basic theory belonged to Freud, but I furthered it so much that he himself could not recognize it anymore”
Wilhelm Reich

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Reichian Theory in Compulsive Disorders

Wilhelm Reich was a student of Freud, who departed from psychoanalysis and proposed a different treatment approach called “Psychiatric Orgone Therapy.”

Many of Freud’s disciples departed in different ways from Freud. Most moved away from certain aspect of Freudian theories, while elaborating on other aspects. Jung, for example, elaborated on the theory of unconscious and extended it to the concept of universal unconscious. However, almost all of his disciples minimized the significance of his Libido Theory and gradually moved away from it to the extent that nowadays in psychoanalytic schools there is very little talk, if any, about Libido Theory. One can say that Freud’s Libido theory is almost abandoned. Reich, however, took a different approach. Reich considered Freud’s Libido theory the most basic theory, that other theories, such as topographic theory-the theory of conscious and unconscious-and structural theory-the theory of Id, Ego, and Super Ego-are based on it and are consequence and secondary to it.

Reich’s definition and distinction of health or sickness of the human organism is based on the proper movement of energy in his organism, the energy that Freud called “Libido Energy” and Reich named “Orgone Energy.”

In order to explain certain phenomena that he was observing in children and in his patients, Freud had to hypothesize an existence of a psycho-sexual energy that flows in the body and gets concentrated in certain areas. The concentrated areas of this energy, Libido Energy, were considered to be Erogenous zones, such as mouth, anus and genitals. The investment of this energy on different areas is in relation to the developmental stage of the child. In the newborn this energy is mostly concentrated around the oral area, later between the ages of one and two, the investment of Libido Energy is mostly in the anal area and the sphincters and around age 3, Libido energy moves into the genital area. Freud hypothesized that this energy energizes instincts. Emotions get its power from instincts. As Freud’s disciples gradually moved away from this theory and elaborated endlessly on other aspects of his theories, such as the theory of conscious and unconscious and the theory of Id, Ego, Super Ego, Freud himself also moved away from his own Libido theory.

Reich contended that Libido theory, the theory of psychosexual energy, is the basic and central theory and understanding of the functioning of human organism depends on this theory.

Reich called this energy “Orgone Energy” because of its Function in the body organs and its pertinence in the function of the orgasm. Reich realized that the proper metabolism of this energy, production and discharge of this energy, the proper economy of this psychosexual energy is an essential factor in human health. Any hindrance in the flow of this energy from center toward periphery, from head toward pelvis, disturbs the physical and emotional functioning of the organism and causes psychiatric as well as physical illnesses. Freud himself described stasis neurosis, the neurosis which manifests itself by palpitation, hyperventilation and anxiety, the result of abstinence; an unhealthy sexual life, which causes accumulation and stagnation of Libidinal energy.  Based on Reichian theory hindrance to the flow of this energy mostly is caused by physical and muscular contractions as well as by psychological means, which happens concomitantly.

Children control their emotions, their sexual and aggressive impulses or their sadness in different ways, including psychological repression and physical contractions. The children usually breathe shallowly; develop contractions of the throat muscles to hide their sadness or anger. They contract their abdominal muscles and they develop stomach and abdominal pains and aches. These somatic features gradually become chronic and do not go away by the patient’s will, even when the external factors that had caused these contractions disappear. These physical and muscular contractions, which after a while become permanent in the Reichian school of thought, are called “muscular and physical armor.” These physical contractions have psychological counter parts. They have a counter part in character armoring. The child, and later the grown up adult’s character structure is a reflection of their muscular and physical contractions and visa-versa. They are inseparable from each other; they are two sides of the same coin. Tense and serious attitudes, or over-friendly smiles, or indifferent and apathetic attitude and so on are all part of the person’s character, which has physical and muscular counterpart. Character armor and physical armor are functionally identical with each other and serve the same purpose. They both prevent expression of emotions from within and protect the person from without. Armoring of the human organism becomes the most important factor that distorts and impedes the flow of biological sexual and physical energy of the body, the organismic orgone energy or as Freud called it “Libidinal Energy.”

This distortion of the flow of energy then causes different pathologies and symptoms. It causes wide range of different physical illnesses, as well as psychiatric and psychological illnesses including compulsive disorders. Those who work in the field of psychiatry, and those who see patients in psychiatric hospitals or clinics are aware of the stubbornness of psychiatric symptoms. They know how psychiatric patients become a revolving door in hospitals and in clinics and how their symptoms persist in spite of conventional treatment and in occasions, they become loaded with different psychiatric medication so much that the side effects of the medications make them worse than the illness itself. This is also true for compulsive disorders. From the Reichian point of view the reason for this difficulty is the fact that psychiatry and psychology have failed to recognize the roots of the symptoms that partially is anchored in the body, the physical armoring.

In the treatment of patients by Psychiatric Orgone therapy, the goal is to restore the healthy and orderly flow of energy in the human organism. The most important factor in achieving this goal is the resolution of muscular and character armor. The psychiatric orgone therapists have to recognize the armoring of the patient and try to resolve it with different techniques that are available in this treatment approach. The character armoring as well as physical armoring responds to some extent to different psychotherapeutic measures. This is why patients show some improvement by psychotherapeutic approaches, however, the improvement in many cases is only partial and in some cases no improvement happens and the illness continues to progress and destroys the person’s life. In psychiatric orgone therapy, the recognition of the somatic and physical roots of the illness and the resolution of the physical armoring brings quicker and more profound and pronounced improvement, symptoms disappear quickly and fundamentally.

Unfortunately, Wilhelm Reich who is the founder of this treatment approach, and the body of knowledge that he left behind, which is called Orgonomy, has been largely unknown to psychiatric disciplines, residency training programs, psychology training programs, and social workers training programs. Nevertheless this body of knowledge offers a theory based on which many psychiatric and physical symptoms can be explained, which is inexplicable with present theories and it also offers techniques that is able to penetrate deeper and cure the illnesses which is not been attainable by other approaches.

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Wilhelm Reich – Founder of Orgone Therapy

Annals of The Institute for Orgonomic Science (December, 2015)

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