Categorized | Sociology

In Pursuit of Happiness

Article by Stephan Simonian M.D.

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.

This post was written by:

- who has written 64 posts on The 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.

2 Responses to “In Pursuit of Happiness”

  1. Dr. Simomian,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article. Thank you.

    If words could release our armor the books of Dr. Reich would have been successful. The task must be accomplished in Orgone Therapy.

    I owe you a debt of gratitude in helping me remember how Dr. Reich always sees right to the core of our problems.

    Richard Schulman

  2. lorcan kilroy says:

    Good stuff..this is more energized connected Orgonomy..Why are there not other sites really talking about Orgonomy more expansively, integrating it into the 2012 everyday life of all our fellow humans, and eliciting comments! This is really needed. Instead they are more armored. They all have the same blasé biographicals of Saint Reich. Old discussions about wills and book burning and orgone accumulator stuff…

    Keep it up. People can be more moved and benefit from nitty gritty down to earth discussion of everyday 2012 life in an orgonomic sense….


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