Tag Archive | "Orgonomy"

Kleptomania, a Case Discussion

In 2007 a middle age woman came to see me.  She told me that she was feeling very tense, never could relax, she said she never felt happy.  She was feeling as if her head was exploding.  The bright point of her life was her young daughter.  She was well educated, nice and kind and compassionate towards her.  She was proud of her daughter and said that she was very supportive and appreciative of her.

She was an immigrant and came to the United States at age 18 years old.  Among other things she told me she said when she arrived to the United States, she was greeted by her brother and was living with her brother and brother’s wife.  She did not feel welcomed there by her sister in-law.  Her sister in-law was unhappy by her presence at their home and by different ways implied that she wished her to leave.  Under that circumstance she was introduced to a man by a relative.  She said that by the coaxing and encouragement of her relatives and pressure by different family members in spite of her reluctance and doubts she married him. Her marriage was significantly influenced by her desire to leave her brother’s home as soon as she could.  She described her marriage as an unhappy one and stated that her husband was unpredictable and was demanding, harsh, rude and insulting toward her and toward her parents and relatives.  She was feeling sad and angry with him and guilty because she could not make her parents happy as she wished to.  She felt helpless, alone and could not invite them to their home and make them proud of her.  She said she stayed in this marriage for the sake of her daughter.  She said that in front of her relatives and friends she often had to find excuses to justify her husband’s behavior.  Later on husband had a nervous breakdown and was unable to work.  This was another burden for her.  She now not only was trying to find an excuse to justify her husband’s behavior but also had to try to make up stories to pretend as if her husband was working to avoid relatives gossip.  She did not want to subject herself to the gossip of family and friends.  She herself, however, continued her school and progressed and found a job and eventually became an office manager and was earning a good salary.  She was supporting the home both financially and in other aspects of house affairs.

After giving this information to me, she then with some hesitation and trepidation said that she in order to relieve her tension and anxiety, leaves her home and goes shopping.  She said shopping gave her some relief.  Later in the session I found out that she had episodes of shoplifting as well and she felt deeply embarrassed and ashamed of this behavior.  She said that she picks up things that she often does not need.  Later on I found out that because of these habits she also had been arrested several times.  She was ordered by the Court to seek psychological treatment.  She also had attended certain classes and programs, recommended by the Court for this behavior.  She said that she was given fines and ordered to perform community service as punishment in lieu of detention and was ordered psychiatric treatment in the past for which she sought treatment and received suggestions and medications.  She had followed all these therapeutic suggestions but now she was again in trouble. I found out that now she again was under prosecution for shop lifting for the fourth time.  She was dreading the prospect of imprisonment but the possibility of imprisonment was high because of previous similar offenses.  She was a respectful woman, an office manager with a responsible job supervising many financial transactions and was respected in her community and in her church.  When she saw me in the first session, she already had an attorney.  In subsequent sessions I learned that she changed her attorney and eventually found an attorney and later on found another attorney and she was hoping that with consultation and retaining two attorneys she would have better chances to avoid imprisonment.  She was referred by the attorneys to see a psychologist who was familiar with court proceedings and necessary reports in such matters.  She paid a heavy price to her lawyers and psychologist for reports.

Her mental status examination during the initial visit was unremarkable for any thought disorder.  She was a middle aged woman properly and neatly dressed, age appropriately groomed and initially came across friendly and pleasant.  As the interview progressed she started to show some anxiety and had episodes of crying spells.  She wanted to know why in spite of her awareness of wrongness of stealing and legal consequences of it she was still unable to resist her impulse and had to face the embarrassment and dangers of such a behavior.

Before discussing the treatment and outcome of it in this particular patient, let us review some of the contemporary definitions, concepts and descriptions of this condition, which is called kleptomania.

Kleptomania in the diagnostic and statistical manual of psychiatry DSM IV is defined under the category of impulse control disorder.  Under the diagnostic features, the DSM IV defines kleptomania as follows:

“The essential feature of kleptomania is the recurrent failure to resist impulses to steal items even though the items are not needed for personal use or for the monitory value.  The individual experiences rising subjective sense of tension before the act and feels pleasure gratification or relief in committing the act.  The stealing is not committed to express anger or vengeance, is not done in response to a delusion or hallucination and is not better accounted for by conduct disorder, manic episode, or antisocial personality disorder.  The objects are stolen despite the fact that they are typically of little value to the individual who could have afforded to pay for them and often gives them away or discards them.  Occasionally the individual may hold the stolen objects or surreptitiously return them.  Although individuals with this disorder will generally avoid stealing when immediate arrest is probable, they usually do not preplan the act or fully take into account the chance of apprehension.  The stealing is done without assistance from or collaboration with others.  The individuals with kleptomania experience the impulse to steal as egodystonic and are aware that the act is wrong and senseless.  The person frequently fears apprehension and often feels depressed or guilty about the theft.  The disorder may cause legal, family, career and personal difficulties.  The kleptomania appears to be much more common in females.”

In the psychiatric text book 8th edition of Kaplan and Sandok, kleptomania is defined and described as; “The essential feature of kleptomania is a recurrent failure to resist impulses to steal objects not needed for personal use or for monitory value.  The objects taken are often given away and returned surreptitiously or kept hidden.  People with kleptomania usually have the money to pay for the objects they impulsively steal.  Like other impulse control disorders, kleptomania is characterized by mounting tension before the act, followed by gratification and easing of tension with or without guilt, remorse, or depression during the act.  The stealing is not planned and does not involve others.  Although the thefts do not occur when immediate arrest is probable, people with kleptomania do not always consider their chances of being apprehended, even though repeated arrest leads to pain and humiliation.  Those people may feel guilt and anxiety after the theft, but they do not feel anger or vengeance.  Furthermore, when the object stolen is the goal, the diagnosis is not kleptomania, in kleptomania the act of stealing is itself the goal.”

In psychiatry text books, the etiology of kleptomania, like many other psychiatric illnesses is described in a vague manner.  In the textbook of psychiatry it states:  “The symptoms of kleptomania tends to appear in times of significant stress, for example losses, separation and ending of important relationships.  Some psychoanalytic writers have stressed the expression of aggressive impulses in kleptomania, others have discerned libidinal aspects.  Those who focus on symbolism see meaning in the act itself, the objects stolen and the victim of the theft.  Kleptomania is often associated with other disturbances, such as mood disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and eating disorder.  It is frequently associated with bulimia nervosa, in some reports nearly 1/4 of patients with bulimia nervosa met the diagnostic criteria of kleptomania.”  Under the biological factors, the book states that brain disease and mental retardation have been associated with kleptomania, as they have with other disorders of impulse control.  Focal neurological aspects, cortical atrophy and enlarged lateral vesicles have been found in some patients.  Disturbances in monamine metabolism, particularly of seratonin have been postulated.

As one can see there is no meaningful description of the etiology of this illness in the textbooks of psychiatry and this is not only specific for kleptomania but many other psychiatric disorders.  This disorder is attributed to a wide variety of postulations.  However, this is not the case in Orgonomy and Reichian approach – We will discuss theories and treatment approach in Orgonomy later – for now I will return to describing the client who was suffering from kleptomania and inconsistencies in contemporary psychiatric theories.

The description of kleptomania in the DSM IV, as well as its description in psychiatric text books as the reader may recognize is vague.  In the DSM IV as well as in text books of psychiatry kleptomania is described as a recurrent failure to resist the impulse to steal items, even though the items are not needed for personal use or for monetary value.  The text book definition and description of it is also similar.  However, neither DSM IV nor psychiatric text books describe the origin of the impulse.  The text books and DSM IV descriptions do not say where and why this impulse appears in a person.  Science and scientific thinking dictates that every impulse must have an origin and must have energy attached to it.  Neither of these characteristics of an impulse has been dealt with in contemporary medicine, psychiatry or psychology.  The impulse is vaguely defined without description of its characteristics, qualities and its origin.  This shortcoming is not limited to the description of impulses in kleptomania, but it exists in all other psychiatric illnesses as well. Medicine, psychiatry and psychology have avoided dealing with energetic aspects of such impulses and source of its emergence.  From our point of view that is the reason why the pathologic process, the development of these illnesses are poorly understood and treatment of psychiatric illnesses has been hindered.  A recent article in the March 1st issue of New Yorker Magazine titled, “Head Case” by Lewis Menand pointed to disappointing results in psychiatric treatments, is an example of this hinderance.  A similar article titled, “The Assault on Freud” was also published in Time magazine November 29th, 1993 regarding disappointing results in psychoanalysis.  On the contrary, Orgonomy deals head on with the matters of impulse and energy.  Orgonomy considers these impulses, i.e.: impulse to steal as a secondary impulse or drive, the distortions of primary healthy impulses which is distorted because of armoring of the organism.  The theory which has been developed in Orgonomy is based on the experimental work of Dr. Reich and also based on clinical observations and treatment trials, which proves itself applicable in clinical work.  Our theoretical approach to these impulses is that the impulses originate from the core of the organism, which we regard to be autonomic ganglions in the center of the organism and propagates toward the periphery in a pulsetory manner.  As a consequence of persistent outer and environmental inhibitions against expression of natural primary impulses, sexual and aggressive impulses, mechanism of armoring sets in, which permanently prevents expressions of anger, rage, and sexual emotions.  The original healthy impulses then split and get distorted and manifest themselves with different neurotic and anti-social manifestations.  Schematically in Orgonomy this process is explained as the following schema (courtesy of the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust):

Our treatment approach is based on these schemas.  Ideally the clinician who is conducting the treatment, will need to acquire the knowledge experience and skills of psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy as well as psychiatric orgone therapy. In restoring the orderly flow of the energy in the organism, to loosening up and removing the armoring and establishing the organismic capacity to express primary and undistorted drives, the clinician finds himself working as an electrical engineer restoring the proper energy flow in the human organism.  The ideal psychiatric orgone therapy treatment is considered complete when the armoring is resolved and orderly flow of energy is restored in the body.  In such a case patients become capable of expressing primary unadulterated and undistorted impulses as he or she wishes to.  Parallel with it, the patient develops sexual potency, potency to love and have genital embrace, be affectionate and in the final stages of treatment develop full orgastic potency.  The patients who achieve such a level of health as Dr. Reich has described, attains qualities of Jesus Christ, incapable of lying and incapable of harming.

However, achieving such a level of health is not always possible.  In fact psychiatrists and clinicians conducting psychiatric orgone therapy rarely are able to resolve the armor of a patient which is heavily ingrained throughout their lives to achieve full orgastic potency.  We often have to content ourselves with resolution of armor to a certain extent.  By some resolution of armoring, the patient senses relief and some normality is brought to their lives.

The treatment of this patient started and progressed based on principles of psychiatric orgone therapy, with recognition that stealing impulse was a distortion of patient’s ability to express her primary impulse of anger, rage and sexual drives.  The treatment of this patient lasted one year with an average of one session every week.  In this vignette I do not intend to explain step by step the treatment process, which has been described in this journal by Dr. Reich with annotation and in other Orgonomy literature by Dr. Reich as well as by Dr. Herskowitz.  I only will mention some cardinal points and developments that happened during this treatment process.

I began the treatment of this patient from the most superficial and conspicuous feature of the patient, her facial expression as is customary in psychiatric orgone therapy.  Her excessive politeness and apologetic and pleasant appearance was the surface manifestation.  This was a feature that had been with her since childhood, she all her life was trying to please others, trying to avoid any confrontation, but at the same time this apologetic and agreeable mask was the mask that was hiding her anger, rage and sadness.  As treatment progressed the patient recognized this attitude, events in her life that caused this attitude were expressed by the patient.  She recognized her fear of expressing anger, which started from the relation with her own parents and later on with her brother’s wife and then with her husband.  She gained insight on her inability to express anger.  By the techniques specific to psychiatric orgone therapy her excessive pleasantness, politeness and appeasing attitude was uncovered from her facial expression.  She became able to express her anger and frustration toward different people including her husband that she all along was fearful of.  Attaining this ability and insight surprisingly translated itself to actions in her life and at her home.  She became capable of speaking up against her husband, she even threatened her husband to throw him out and divorce him and to her own surprise, the husband complied and suddenly changed his attitude.  She gained power that she all along longed for.  She also dared to talk about the oppressive environment that she grew up in since her teenage years.  By her ability to express her anger and speaking up against her husband a significant change happened in her life.  She became more relaxed and more expressive.  During this time with the help of her attorneys she completed her legal obligations properly and became free of legal threats.  She also lost the impulse to steal or commit other transgressions, such as frequent traffic violations that she used to do.  Several months later she was invited by her relatives to return to her country of origin.  She accepted the invitation and went to visit her relative.  For a while she kept contact with me and as of the last I knew about her, her condition was stable and she did not have impulses to steal.  She, while in treatment, told me with horror that she was assigned to attend programs and saw many people who were attendees of those programs for numerous times without improvement, becoming revolving doors in institutions.

This is one example of thousands, who suffer from such illnesses but because of a poor understanding of the illness by present day psychiatry and psychology, they remain poorly treated, constantly struggling with their impulse, which continues to seek reappearance and ruins their potential to live, work and love.  Dr. Herskowitz, in a speech he gave in commemoration of the 50th year of Dr. Wilhelm Reich’s death in Rangely Maine said: “I lived long enough to know that life is too short to be wasted with sickness.”

As described earlier we consider the psychiatric orgone therapy complete when armoring is widely resolved and the patient develops orgastic potency.  In the case, which was described, although some resolution of armoring took place, but because of the patient’s departure to her country of origin and interruption of the treatment process , armoring was not adequately resolved.  In such cases there is always the danger of reemergence of unhealthy and pathologic impulses as a consequence of redevelopment of the armor.  Therefore, we cannot in confidence claim a successful completion of treatment in this case.  Nevertheless, considering the educational value and theoretical discussion of it, its presentation was judged to be worthy.

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Dr. Bennett on “Work Democracy” (Part 5 & 6)

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Dr. Bennett on “Work Democracy” (Part 3 & 4)

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Dr. Bennett on “Work Democracy” (Part 1 & 2)

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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.

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History of Orgone Therapy (Part 7)

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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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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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Wilhelm Reich – Founder of Orgone Therapy

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

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