Categorized | Sociology

Your Religion and The Best Religion

Article by Stephan Simonian M.D.

Your Religion and The Best Religion

Recently an email was circulating on the internet with the title of “Your Religion is Not Important.”  The e-mail was a description of a brief dialogue between a Brazilian theologist Leonardo Boff and the Dalai Lama.  The content of the email was the following:

In a round table discussion about religion and freedom in which the Dalai Lama and myself were participating I maliciously asked him, “Your holiness, what is the best religion?”  I thought he would say, “Tibetan Buddhism” or the “Oriental religions much older than Christianity.”  The Dalai Lama paused, smiled and looked me in the eyes which surprised me because I knew of the malice contained in my question.  He answered, “the best religion is the one that gets you closest to God.  It is the one which makes you a better person.”  To get out of my embarrassment with such a wise answer, I asked;  “What is it that makes me better?”  He responded, “Whatever makes you more compassionate, more sensible, more detached, more loving, more humanitarian, more responsible and more ethical.  The religion that will do that for you is the best religion.”

In orgonomy all above mentioned qualities are desirable, however we consider the best religion, the best social structure, the best teacher, the best leader the one that unfolds self regulation in the human structure.

Reich talked about self regulation extensively.  In orgonomy self regulation is defined as:  the capability of the organism to regulate himself not because of fear of punishment, but because of its effect on his happiness.  The person who’s psychological structure is governed by self regulation does not act on his desires if it is not going to make him happy. We will describe this type of psychological structure in the following pages.

When Dr. Reich initially discovered the character armoring and found a treatment approach to resolve this armored condition he described the emergence of a core in the human organism which was free of antisocial motives.  In The Function of the Orgasm he says the following, [courtesy of The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust]

I overcame my reserve towards the patients actions and discovered an unexpected world.  At the base of the neurotic mechanism, behind all the dangers, grotesque, irrational fantasies and impulses, I discovered a simple self evident dissent core.  I found it without exception in every case where I was able to penetrate to a sufficient depth….  Psychoanalysis had unquestionably accepted the absolute antithesis between nature, (instinct, sexuality) and culture, (morality, work, and duty) and had come to the conclusion that “living out of the impulses” was at variance with cure.  It took me a long time to overcome my fear of these impulses.  It was clear that the asocial impulses which filled the unconscious are vicious and dangerous only as long as the discharge of biological energy by means of natural sexuality is blocked.  When this is the case, there are basically only three pathological outlets;  Unbridled, self destructive impulsiveness (addiction, alcoholism, crime due to a feeling of guilt, psychopathic impulsiveness, sexual murder, child rape, etc).  Instinct – inhibited character neurosis  (compulsion neurosis, anxiety hysteria, conversion hysteria); and the functional psychosis (schizophrenia, paranoia, melancholia, or manic depressive insanity.  I am omitting the neurotic mechanisms which are operative in politics, war, marriage, child rearing etc.  All of which are consequences of the lack of genital gratification in masses of people.

With the ability to experience complete genital surrender the patients personality underwent such a total and rapid change that initially I was baffled by it.  I did not understand how the tenacious neurotic process could give away so rapidly.  It was not only that the neurotic anxiety symptoms disappeared – the patients entire personality changed.  I was at a loss to explain this theoretically.  I interpreted the disappearance of symptoms as the withdrawal of sexual energy which had previously nourished them.  But the character change itself eluded clinical understanding.  The genital character (healthy, mature character) appeared to function according to different hitherto unknown laws.  I want to cite a few examples by way of illustration.

Quite spontaneously the patients began to experience the moralistic attitudes of the world around them as something alien and peculiar.  No matter how tenaciously they might have defended pre marital chastity beforehand, now they experience this demand as grotesque.  Such demands no longer had any relevancy for them;  They became indifferent to them.  Their attitude to their work changed.  If until then they had worked mechanically, had not demonstrated any real interest, had considered their work a necessary evil which one takes upon oneself without giving it much thought, now they became discriminating.  If neurotic disturbance had previously prevented them from working, now they were stirred by a need to engage in some tactical work in which they could take a personal interest.  If the work which they performed was such that it was capable of absorbing their interest, they blossomed.  If however, their work was of a mechanical nature, then it became an almost intolerable burden.  In such cases, I had a hard time mastering the difficulties which arose.  The world was not attuned to the human aspect of work.  Teachers who had been liberal, though not essentially critical of educatioal methods, began to sense a growing estrangement from, and intolerance of, the usual way of dealing with children.  In short the sublimation of instinctual forces in one’s work took various forms, depending upon the work and the social conditions.  Gradually, I was able to distinguish two trends.  (1), a growing immersion in the social activity to which one was fully committed;  (2), a sharp protest of a psychic organism against mechanical, stifling work….

Thus, I learned the important rule that not everything unconscious is asocial and that not everything conscious is social.  On the contrary there are highly praise worthy, indeed culturally valuable attributes and impulses which have to be repressed for material considerations just as there are flagrantly asocial activities which are socially rewarded with fame and honor.  The most difficult patients were those who were studying for priesthood.  Inevitably there was a deep conflict between sexuality and the practice of their profession.  I resolved not to accept anymore priests as patients.

The change in sexual sphere was just as pronounced.  Patients who had felt no qualms in going to prostitutes became incapable of going to them once they were orgastically potent.  Wives who had patiently endured living with unloved husbands and who had submitted to sexual acts out of, “marital obligation” could no longer do so.  They simply refused;  They had enough.  What could I say against such behavior?  It was at variance with all socially dictated views, for instance the conventional arrangement whereby the wife must unquestionably fulfill her husbands sexual demands as long as the marriage lasts, whether she wants or not, whether she loves him or not, whether she is sexually aroused or not.  The ocean of lies in this world is deep!  From the point of view of my official position it was embarrassing when a women correctly liberated from her neurotic mechanisms began to make claims upon life for the fulfillment of her sexual needs, not troubling herself about morality.

After a few timid attempts I no longer ventured to bring up these facts in the seminars or in the psychoanalytic associations.  I feared the stupid objection that I was imposing my own views upon my patients.  In this case, I would have had to retort that moralistic and authoritarian influencing by means of ideologies lay not on my side, but on the side of my opponent….  I no longer had a clear conception of relation of the psychic structure to the existing social system.  The change in the patients attitude with respect to this moralistic code was neither clearly negative nor clearly positive.  New psychic structure appeared to follow laws which had nothing in common with the conventional demands and views of morality.  It followed laws that were new to me of which I had no inkling prior to this.  The picture which these laws offered when taken all together corresponded to a different form of sociality.  They embraced the best principle of official morality e.g. that women must not be raped, and children must not be seduced.  At the same time they contained moral modes of behavior which though slightly at variance with conventional conception, was socially un-impeachable.  One such attitude, for instance, was that it would be abase to live a chaste life due to external pressure, or to be faithful solely for reason of marital obligation….  The attitude that it is unsatisfying and repulsive to embrace a partner against his or her will appeared to be un-assailable, even from the strictest moralistic point of view.  Yet, it was incompatible with the legally protected demand of, “marital obligation”  This other form of morality was not governed by “thou shalt” or “thou shalt not”, and  it developed spontaneously on the basis of demand of genital gratification.  One refrained from an un-gratifying action not out of fear, but because one valued sexual happiness.  These people abstained from sexual act even when they felt a desire for it, if the external or internal circumstances did not guarantee full gratification.  It was as if moralistic injunctions had been dispensed with and replaced by a better and more tenable guarantee against antisocial behavior.  They were guarantees which were not incompatible with natural needs, indeed they were based precisely on principals which foster the joy of life.  The sharp contradiction between, “I want” and “I must not” was eliminated.  It was replaced by something which might almost be called a vegetative consideration; “True, I would very much like to, but it would mean little to me;  It would not make me happy.”  This was an entirely different matter.  Actions were carried out in accordance with self regulating principles.  This self regulation, in turn brought with it a certain amount of harmony because it eliminated the obviated struggle against an instinct which, though inhibited, was constantly obtruding itself.

From an orgonomic point of view, from the point of view of the principles set forth by Dr. Wilhelm Reich, the best religion, the best teacher, the best social structure, would be the one that promotes self regulation in its followers.  A principle that functions in the individual not by the doctrine of “thou shalt not” or “thou shalt” but by a principle of genuine happiness and full gratification.  A religion which uncovers the potential of  self regulation will also inevitably make it’s followers independent of it.  As Aristotle said, “The best teacher is one who makes his students independent of him.”  The same can be said for the best religion.

This post was written by:

- who has written 63 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.

3 Responses to “Your Religion and The Best Religion”

  1. H. Saeid, M.D. says:

    On Etymology of the word, Religion: Joseph Campbell, famed mythologist, favors the derivation from ligare “bind, connect”, probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or “to reconnect,” which was made prominent by St. Augustine.

    As such, the religious function of the psyche from a depth psychological prospective is to serve as relating function between the ego and Self. In biblical tradition and theological language this is interpreted as rejoining man with God. Self regulation, from this perspective is essentially the same concept as surrendering to the will of God. It signifies, in depth psychological language a freedom of choice and action from unconscious instinctual compulsions of egoic consciousness. I believe it is important to bear in mind that incorrect assumptions by followers of a certain religion – due to inadequate hermaneutical understanding – does not negate the essential truth that underlies that religion’s wisdom. In my humble opinion, it is the responsibility of psychologists as healers of psyche (soul) to apply apt and proper hermaneutical linguistic interpretations to mend the perceived gap between theological and psychological notions.

  2. Ed Malek says:

    A much-needed definition to “religion”; I think self-regulation explains true morality better than institutional religions and in addition, stems from humanity’s physiological core. One wonders about the religious compulsion on one hand, and on the other hand about the hatred that is so in vogue for Judeo-Christianity in America these days. If religion would disappear (as some on the left would wish), chaos and not self-regulation would ensue, which many would find surprising. But, just as in personal armor, social armor (religion) also has an important function–that is to keep anxiety at bay and to allow for limited functioning (albeit at a heavy price). Until society is capable of self-regulation, religion will play an important role.

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The Living Body: Wilhelm Reich’s Influence on Contemporary Psychotherapies

 

In pursuing the development of psychosomatic medicine and an energetic model of health which respected the importance of psyche and soma equally, Wilhelm Reich created the foundation for what ultimately came to be known as the fields of Body Psychotherapy, Somatic Psychology and others.

Building upon the conference we presented in the summer of 2021, Wilhelm Reich and Psychoanalysis, the goal of this conference is to map the field of body-centered therapy today. Speakers from the Americas, Europe and Australia, representing Reich’s Orgone Therapy as well as a variety of schools which are heirs to Reich such as Radix, Bioenergetics, Biodynamic Therapy, Biosynthesis, Gestalt, Navarro, Core Energetics and other modalities based in important ways on his approach, will present and describe their respective theories, training processes and therapeutic methods.

Historians will present an overview of Reich’s evolution from psychoanalysis to character analysis, to the more body-centered character analytic vegetotherapy, and beyond.

By exploring this field through the common denominator, the theories and techniques developed by Wilhelm Reich, we hope to generate interaction and exchanges and highlight the similarities, differences and relationships between traditions.

With so many schools of therapy represented, there are bound to be some differences of opinion about theory and practice. By bringing them together, we hope to give participants a comprehensive overview of the field and build bridges between individuals and groups who have much in common and might benefit from direct, respectful interaction with one another.

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