Tag Archive | "psychosomatic illnesses"

Annotation on the Orgonomic Concept of The Carcinomatous Shrinking Biopathy.

Introductory Notes:

Doctor Reich in the book of Function of Orgasm, explains the evolution of Ogronomy from psychoanalysis. This evolution has been summarized in articles which were published in this journal (1). Evolution of psychoanalysis into orgronomy reveals that the Psyche and the Soma grow out of one entity and are functionally identical. They both originate from biological plasma system which functions autonomously. Schematically, this concept is depicted in orgonomy by Dr.Reich with the following diagram.

Diagram depicting psychosomatic identity and antithesis (2)

Doctor Reich, in the book “The Cancer Biopathy” relates many physical and psychological illnesses to the malfunction of this primary and basic life apparatus, the vegetative nervous system. In the book, “The Cancer Biopathy,” as well as articles that Doctor Reich wrote in the “International Journal of Sex Economy and Orgone Research,” in the years between 1942 to 1945, he described the illnesses which originates from malfunction of vegetative nervous systems as “biopathies.” Dr. Reich defines biopathy as the following: "The term biopathies refers to all disease processes caused by a basic dysfunction in the autonomic life apparatus. Once started, this dysfunction can manifest itself in a variety of symptomatic disease patterns. A biopathy can result in a carcinoma, (carcinomatous biopathy), but it can just as easily lead to angina pectoris, asthma, cardiovascular hypertension, epilepsy, catatonic or paranoid schizophrenia, anxiety neurosis, multiple sclerosis, chorea, chronic alcoholism, etc. We are still ignorant of the factors that determine the direction in which a biopathy will develop. Of prime importance to us, however, is the common denominator of all these diseases: a disturbance in the natural function of pulsation in the total organism.” (3).

This concept corresponds with clinical manifestations of the patients in medical practice, i.e., patients who develop psychological problems such as depression, anxiety or other forms of neurotic or psychotic illnesses, often develop physical illnesses and physical deterioration as well. Many patients used the phrase ‘Doctor, I am falling apart’. The phrase “He/She died of a broken heart” is a familiar phrase in the English language. Similar phrases are used in other languages reflecting the recognition of the relation between the psyche and soma among different cultures and societies.

Comprehension of the concept of biopathies lead Doctor Reich to do research in the disease as we know in medicine as “cancer”. To familiarize the reader to Doctor Reich’s concept of the disease “cancer” I will reflect in this article parts of the paper that Reich wrote, in the International Journal of Sex Economy and Orgone Research which was published in 1942 under the topic of “The Carcinomatous Shrinking Biopathy.” (4) This was also incorporated in the book “The Cancer Biopathy” under the same title. In reviewing parts of this paper, I have made annotations explaining some of the concepts for the reader who may not be familiar with theories of Dr. Wilhelm Reich. Annotations are in italic; the bold characters signify the emphasis which is done by Dr. Reich.

Here is the Paper of Dr. Reich with my annotations:


The cancer tumor is no more than a symptom of the cancer disease. Therefore, local treatment of tumor-be it operation or irradiation with a Radium or X Ray – affects not the cancer disease as such but only one of its visible symptoms. Similarly, death from cancer is not due to the presence of one or more tumors. Rather, it is the ultimate expression of the systemic biological disease “cancer” which is based on a disintegrative process in the total organism….

Annotation: From the ogronomic point of view the tumor is only the end stage of a systemic disease, cancer, which has been in progress far before the tumor becomes evident.

Under the term biopathies, we subsume all those disease process which takes place in the autonomic apparatus. There is a typical basic disturbance of autonomic apparatus which – once it has started – may express itself in variety of symptomatic disease pictures. This basic disturbance, the biopathy, may result in a cancer (cancer biopathy) but equally well in angina pectoris, asthma, cardiovascular hypertension, an epilepsy, a catatonic or paranoid schizophrenia, an anxiety neurosis, a multiple sclerosis, a chorea, chronic alcoholism, etc. What determines the development of a biopathy into this or that syndrome we do not yet know. What interest us here primarily is that which all of these diseases have in common; a disturbance of the biological function of pulsation in the total organism.

Annotation: Here, Reich is explaining the term “Biopathy” that did not exist in the medical literature prior to its use by him. Reich stated that it was necessary to introduce this new terminology because it encompasses a new concept of all illnesses which are caused by the disturbance of the functioning of the autonomous nervous system and hence the capacity of pulsation. (5)

A fracture, an abscess, a pneumonia, yellow fever, rheumatic pericarditis…etc.; are not biopathies. They are not due to a disturbance of the autonomic pulsation of the total vital apparatus; …

Annotation: Although, the cardiac pulsation is the most conspicuous pulse in the human organism, however, each body organ has its own pulsation. Rhythmic pulsation is a reflection of the propagation of a biological energy; a disturbance in the propagation of this energy causes the emotional and physical disturbances that were named under biopathies.

We shall speak of biopathies only where the disease process begins with a disturbance of the biological pulsation, no matter what secondary disease picture it results in…..

The cancer disease lends itself particularly well to the study of the basic mechanism of biopathy…

The confusing variety of manifestations presented by the cancer disease only hides a common basic disturbance. The same is true, as we know, of the neurosis and functional psychosis which- in all their variety of form- have one common denominator: sexual stasis.

Annotation: Sexual function is an essential biological function of the living organism which adjusts energy equilibrium in the organism. Disturbance of this ability, disturbance of orgastic potency, disturbs the energy equilibrium in the living organism and causes different biopathies. Here, Dr. Reich is referring to sexual stasis which is the common denominator in all psychiatric illnesses of neurosis and psychosis.

Sexual stasis represents fundamental disturbance of biological pulsation. Sexual excitation, as we know, is a primal function of the living plasma system. The sexual function has been shown to be productive life function per se. Thus, a chronic disturbance of sexual function must of necessity be the synonymous with biopathy.

The stasis of bio-sexual excitation may manifest itself, basically, in two ways. It may appear as an emotional disturbance of psychic apparatus, that is as a neurosis or psychosis. But it also, may manifested itself directly in the malfunctioning of the organs and express itself as organic disease. As far as we know it can not produce actual infectious disease. The central mechanism of biopathy is a disturbance in the discharge of bio-sexual excitation.

Annotation: Discharge of bio sexual excitation is a crucial function which is necessary to brings the energy system of the body to its equilibrium and prevent stasis of energy or excess stagnated energy in the body.

Biopathic Shrinking:

Living functioning in man is basically no different from that in the ameba (6). Its basic criterion is biological pulsation, that is alternating complete contraction and expansion. … In metazoan it is most readily seen in the cardiovascular system; The pulse beat represents the pulsation unequivocally. In various organs, it takes the different form, according to their structure. In the intestine, it shows itself as a wave of alternating contraction and expansion as “peristalsis.” In urinary bladder, the biological pulsation functions in response to the mechanical stimulus exerted by the filling of the bladder with urine. It functions in the striped muscle as contraction, in the smooth muscle as a wave-like peristalsis. In the orgasm, the pulsation takes hold of a total organism in the form of orgasm reflex… The autonomic movements are comprehensible only under the assumption that the autonomic nervous system itself is mobile.

Annotation: Based on the observations of the worms under the microscope, Doctor Reich indicates that the automatic nervous system is mobile and pulsates. This is also reflected in the paper published in 1961, by Zamiatine,N (7).

Biopathic shrinking begins with a chronic preponderance of contraction and inhibition of expansion in the autonomic system. This most clearly manifested in the respiratory disturbance of neurotics and psychotics: The pulsation (alternating expansion and contraction) of lungs and thorax is restricted; the inspiratory attitude predominates. Understandably enough the general contraction (sympatheticotonia) does not remain restricted to an individual organ. It extends to the whole organ system, their tissues, the blood system, the endocrine system as well as the character structure. Depending on the region it expresses itself in different ways: In the cardiovascular system as high blood pressure and tachycardia, in the blood system as shrinking of erythrocytes (formation of the T- bodies poikilocytosis, anemia), in the emotional realm as rigidity and character armoring, in the intestine as constipation, in the skin as pallor, in the sexual function as orgastic impotence, etc….

Annotation: Respiratory disturbances in neurotics and psychotics is often evident in patients by shallow breathing and, specially, difficulty of expiration. This difficulty is reflected in the common expression of the people as "I was so scared, I couldn’t breathe" or "I couldn’t exhale." I had psychotic patients with significant difficulty of expiration which was unexplainable by pulmonologist. Holding the breath is a common way for children and adults to suppress their feelings and impulses…

The biopathic shrinking in cancer is, in fact, the result of chronic contraction of autonomic apparatus.


The connecting link between sexual function and cancer disease is formed by the following facts with which sex- economic clinical experience has made us familiar:

Annotation: The term vegetotherapy was coined by Dr. Reich to emphasize the shift in the treatment of patients from the psychological realm (character analysis) to the physiological and somatic realm to stimulate bio-energetic movement in the organism, which is mediated by the autonomic(vegetative) nervous system. The phrase "sex economy" in ogronomy is used by Dr. Reich to reflect the body of knowledge which deals with the metabolism and movement of biological energy (orgone energy) in the organism.

1. Poor external respiration which in turn leads to the disturbance of internal respiration in the tissues.
2. Disturbed function of bioelectrical charge and discharge of autonomic organs, particularly the sexual organs.
3. Chronic spasm of musculature.
4. Chronic orgastic impotence.

Up to now, the connection between disturbances in the discharge of sexual energy and cancer has not been investigated. Experienced gynecologists are well aware of the fact that such connection exists….

Sex economic observation of character neurosis showed again and again the significance of muscular spasms and the resulting devitalization in the organism. Muscular spasm and deficiency in bioelectrical charge are subjectively experienced as "being dead". Muscular hypertension due to sexual stasis regularly leads to diminution of vegetative sensations; the extreme degree of this is sensation of the organ "being dead". This corresponded to a block of biological activity in the respective organ. For example, the blocking of bio-sexual excitation in the genital always goes with spastic tension of the pelvic musculature as is regularly seen in the uterine spasm of frigid women. Such spasms often result in menstrual disturbance, menstrual pains, polyps, and fibroma. The spasm of the uterus has no other function than that of the preventing the bio-sexual energy from making itself felt as vaginal sensation.  Spasms representing inhibition of vegetative currents are seen particularly frequently wherever we find annular musculature, for example, at the throat, at the entrance to and the exits of the stomach, at the anus, etc. These are also places where cancer is found with particular frequency… The spasm prevents biological energy from charging the respective site.

Annotation: Physicians are familiar with patients complaining of spasms in the throat which they can find no medical reason for, or spasms of the stomach, inability to eat, or complain of numbness in different parts of the body and pains that can not be explained by any conventional medical evaluations. Such complaints often lead to numerous medical evaluations and often unnecessary procedures including surgeries.  Physicians are also familiar with the complaints of patients that feel numb or dead. Once a patient of mine, while under analysis, laying on the couch, was manifesting such an apathetic facial feature resembling a dead person. I have been a physician for many years and I have seen many dead corpuses. His face was pale, dry, immobile and sunken, he was unmistakably reflecting a dead person. When he opened his eyes, I held a mirror in front of his face and asked him what he thought of his own facial expression. He didn’t answer then, but at our next session he said "Dr. I was frightened when I saw myself in the mirror, I thought I had died." In orgonomy, we try to help the patient recognize the expressive language of his body. The patient first has to recognize the expressive language of his body in order to recognize the defensive function of that expression.

In a woman whom I treated vegetotheraputically, Xray showed a beginning cancer of the 4th costal cartilage on the right side. This was due to a chronic spastic contraction of the right pectoralis muscle. This contraction represented as strong holding back in the shoulders because of repressed beating impulse. The woman had never experienced an orgasm and suffered from compulsive flirting.

Annotation: The fundamental principle in treating patients with psychiatric orgone therapy is the dissolution of body armoring. The armoring manifests itself as a character armor in the realm of the psyche, and physical and muscular armor in the realm of the soma. They are counterparts of each other. The technique of the dissolution of muscular armor is called vegetotheraphy because it is mediated by vegetative(autonomic) nervous system.

In vegetotherapy , we see not only character neurosis, but also ,of course ,schizophrenic ,epileptic, Parkinson-like, rheumatic and cancerous disturbances. If an organic disease develops, this may take place during the course of treatment or afterward; in the latter case, one will remember the signs that foreshadowed the disease. The most frequent finding is spasm in the pelvic musculature in women, resulting, in the majority of cases, in benign tumors of the genital organs.

Vegethotheraputic clinical observations raised the question as to the faith of the somatic sexual excitation when its normal discharge is barred. We know only that the biosexual excitation can be reduced or inhibited by chronic muscular tension. In female patients, these tensions often show in the form of hard lumps in the uterus. The spasm of uterus usually spreads to the anal sphincter and the vagina, and beyond that, to the adductors of the thigh. The pelvis is always retracted, the sacral spine often stiff and ankylotic. Lumbago and pathological lordosis are typical manifestation of this condition. In the pelvis any vegetative sensation is absent. During expiration the wave of excitation is inhibited by pulled up chest and tense abdomen. The excitation of the large abdominal ganglia does not progress to the genital organs and thus, a disturbance of biological functioning necessarily results. The genitals are no longer capable of biological excitation.

Many women who suffer from genital tension and vaginal anesthesia complain of feeling that "Something is not as it should be down there". They relate that during puberty they experienced the well-known signs of biosexual excitation; and that later they learned to fight these sensations by way of holding their breath. Later, so they relate in the typical manner, they began to experience in the genitals a sensation of "deadness" or "numbness" which in turn, frightened them.

Annotation: One female patient of mine, was constantly complaining of an uncomfortable and irritating sensation in her vaginal area whenever she was sexually stimulated. She explained it as" when I get sexual, I feel an uncomfortable sensation down there, as if my cat is angry"-referring to her genitals.  She was not willing to go through psychiatric orgone therapy and sought a gynecologist’s advice, who ended up giving her injections in the area to block or kill the local nerves to stop those feelings.

As the vegetative sensation in the organs are an immediate expression of the actual biological state of organs, such statements are of extreme importance for an evaluation of somatic processes. (The fact has to be kept in mind that patients are rarely able to comprehend or describe their organ sensation spontaneously; it takes character-analytic exploration to make them able to do so).

Annotation: Patients often either do not realize certain organ sensations or features as alien or unnatural or don’t know it’s significance. An example of it will be the aforementioned man who was manifesting a facial feature as a dead person. Another example would be a patient that always keeps his neck in a contracted and stiff manner often who may not know that he is presenting some unusual feature of stiffness of the neck as if he is ready to defend himself. Similarly, a patient who keeps his eyes squinted, usually is unaware of this feature, let alone knowing it’s functional meaning. Patients should be made aware of these features so that he or she can understand their defensive function.

The generally prevailing sexual inhibition of women explains the prevalence of cancer in the breast and genital organs. The sexual inhibition may have existed for decades before it manifests as cancer.

The following case illustrates in a singularly simple manner the immediate connection between character armoring, muscular spasm and the onset of cancer tumor.

Annotation: Character armor is a term used by Dr. Reich to depict the character attitude and rigidities of a person which serves as a defensive measure against his own emotional impulses as well as against others’ emotional states. Character armor which operates in the psychological realm has a physical counterpart, by muscular attitudes and contractions which is called muscular armor.

A man of 45, came to my laboratory because of complete obstruction of the esophagus by cancer tumor. He was unable to take solid food at all; liquid food he soon vomited. X-Rays showed a shadow the size of a small fist and the complete obstruction in the middle of the esophagus. The patient was rapidly losing weight and strength; there was a severe anemia and T-bacilli intoxication. The anamnesis revealed the following facts: Several months previous to the unset of the complaint, his son had been drafted for the army. This son, was the patient’s favorite; he became worried and deeply depressed. (He had always had a tendency to depression.) In the course of few days, he developed a spasm of esophagus. He had difficulty in swallowing; this disappeared, however, when he took a drink of water. At the same time, he had a sensation of oppression in the chest. These disturbances, kept coming and going for some time, until finally they became stationary. The difficulty in swallowing increased rapidly. He went to see a physician who found the constriction and small tumor. Treatment by X-Ray did not help, and in the course of a few months the man got to the point of starving to death. I should like to add that he had suffered since childhood from severe spasm of his jaw musculature; His face had a hard, rigid expression. Correspondingly, his speech was inhibited; As a result of the tension in his jaw muscles, he talked through his teeth.

Annotation: T-bacilli, is a product of decomposition of the cancer cell which is observable under microscope. Reich has described the presence of T-bacilli in the blood of cancer patients and the detailed description can be found in the book "The Cancer Biopathy."(8) Also, Armando Vecchietti, MBiol, has described it in the article which was published in this Journal under the topic of "Reich Test for Early Cancer Diagnosis" (9)

The extent of the devastating results of the inhibition of the natural biological rhythm- as it is expressed in respiration and the alternation of sexual tension and gratification- can as yet not even be guessed at. Deficient external respiration must of necessity lead to deficient internal respiration of the organs, that is, a deficient supply of oxygen and elimination of carbon dioxide.

When some years back, I began to comprehend the significance of the respiratory disturbance for emotional disturbances, I remembered the findings of Otto Warburg (10) concerning the metabolism in cancer tissue. Warburg found that all the various cancer producing stimuli have one thing in common: They produce a local oxygen deficiency as a result of which there is a disturbance of respiration in the respective cells. Thus, the cancer cell is a poorly breathing cell. … From this correct finding of Warburg, we cannot, however, draw the conclusion that the cancer cell is nothing but a normal cell taking on a different mode of growth under the influence of oxygen lack. In reality the cancer cell is- biologically speaking- basically different from the normal cell.  It is nothing but a protozoal formation. (This will be shown in detail elsewhere).

As stated before, these facts form the connecting link between the autonomic functions and the disease of cancer.


I shall now, give the history of a cancer patient which lends itself particularly well to a demonstration of the nature of the shrinking biopathy.

The patient’s brother related that her first complain was a violent pain in the right hip bone. The pain was constant and "pulling". At this time, her weight was about 125 lbs. Her physician diagnosed a sacro-iliac spasm. She was incapable of rising from the examination table. She was given injections of morphine and atropine, to no avail. The pain continued unabated and the patient was unable to leave her bed, where she lay flat and immobile. Three months after the unset the patient began to vomit. At about the same time, the pain moved to the region of the fifth cervical vertebra. X-Rays showed a collapsed vertebra. An Orthopedic surgeon put the patient in a plaster cast. He was the first, to find a collapse of tenth dorsal vertebra, a metastasis from a cancer of the left breast. A biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of cancer. The patient was given X-Ray treatment of the pelvis and the spine and was sterilized by X-Ray. She was constantly in bed. When she left the hospital after the X-Ray treatment, the patient weighted 90 pounds.

The hospital case history showed, the following data: Four months before admission, there were pains in the right hip which increased with walking and which made it difficult for the patient to sit down. The following is striking: The pain which kept the patient in bed for over two years did not set in originally at the place where the tumor was diagnosed. The pain was in the right hip: The primary tumor however was in the left breast and several metastases were in the spine.

The patient also suffered from vomiting. The records states that she would lie flat in bed and was unable to move on account of her pains. She had no enlarge lymph gland. The tumor of the breast measured about 3x2x6 cm. Her legs showed limited motility, the sacrum was dislocated and stiff. Most of the spine was painful. The hospital diagnosis was: Carcinoma of the left breast with bone metastasis.  Four months after the onset of the pains, the hospital physician pronounced the case hopeless.

Annotation: The Sacrum bone is strongly anchored and the dislocation of it, literally speaking, is unlikely. Dr. Reich might have meant that the sacrum bone had an unusual appearance and was out of place.

26 months after the discovery of the breast tumor, the patient was brought to my laboratory, hardly able to walk, being supported by two relatives. The color of her skin, particularly of her face was ashen gray. The pain in the back sharply localized at the twelfth dorsal vertebra, was violent. The left breast showed a tumor of the size of a small apple, hardly moveable. Blood examination: Hemoglobin 35%: T-bacilli culture in bouillon strongly positive after 24 hours, there were rot bacteria; the erythrocytes were largely in bionous disintegration and showed T- bodies; there were small nucleated round cell and numerous T- bacilli. The autoclavation test gave predominately blue bions, but the vesicles were small and showed very little radiation. Inoculation of the bouillon culture on agar resulted in clear cut T- bacilli growth. (11) These blood findings pointed to the extreme biological debility of the blood system.

Annotation: Medical science today measures blood hemoglobin as gram; per deciliter and the normal value of hemoglobin ranges between 13g/dl to 17g/dl. However, Dr. Reich is giving the value of blood hemoglobin on a Percentage basis. In the beginning of 1900 until the 1960’s Hemoglobin was measured by Haldane standards based on colorimetric techniques. Estimation was expressed as percentages. In the original Haldane method of 1901, "normal" was 100%=13.8 g/dl. (12)

The description of other blood parameters in the above paragraph, are explained in the book "The Cancer Biopathy "under the topic of "Orgone- Biophysical Blood Tests" (13)
Mr. Armando Vecchietti, MBiol,(14) regarding the blood picture stated: Reich’s accurate description of the bio-energetic condition of a patient is the same that can be observed today in our ill patients. Positive culture, blood disintegration, bacteria from purification and autoclave tests are all pieces of a pathologic picture that can be outlined and defined only by resorting to Reich’s tests.

The X-Ray showed the following: The fifth cervical vertebra is collapsed. No significant findings at the other cervical vertebrae.

The dorsal spine shows collapse of tenth and twelfth vertebrae and narrowing of the joint space between the third and fourth vertebrae. There is also strong suggestion of a metastatic lesion at the medial third of right ninth rib.

No lesions are present at the lumbar spine, but there are three round areas of lesser density at the right ilium near the Sacro-iliac joint which are very suggestive of metastatic lesions, although they might be gas shadows of the cecum.

Conclusion: Multiple metastatic bone lesions.

On the basis of the X-Ray picture, the physician to whom I had send the patient for a general check-up, considered the case hopeless. I was less impressed by X-Ray picture then by the biological debility of the blood. Two physicians, friends of the family, declared that the patient would live hardly more than two weeks, while another physician, on the basis of the information from the hospital, thought it was a matter of at most two months.


The vegetative habitus of the patient when first seen was as follows: The chin seemed immobile; the patient talked through her teeth, as if hissing. The jaw muscles were rigid, as was the superficial and deep musculature of the neck. The patient held her head somewhat pulled in the thrust forward, as if she was afraid that something would happen to her neck if she were to move her head. This vegetative attitude of the head and neck seemed at first glance, sufficiently explained by the fact that her fifth cervical vertebra was collapsed. She had been wearing a plaster collar for some time, and there was a good reason for fearing a fracture of cervical spine with rapid or extreme movements. The patient’s neurosis made the best of this situation. As was shown later, the fear of moving the neck had been present long before the collapse of vertebra. More than that: this attitude of the neck was part and parcel of a general vegetative attitude which was not a result but the cause of her cancer disease.

Annotation:  The vegetative attitude that Dr. Reich is talking about is the muscular and physical appearance and demeanor of the patient, revealing her character structure, that had developed throughout the years of her life, far before the appearance of the cancer.

The reflexes were normal. Respiration was severely disturbed. The lips were drawn in and the nostrils somewhat distended, as if she had to draw in air through the nose. The thorax was immobile. It did not perceptibly participate in respiration and remained constantly in a inspiratory position. When asked to breath out deeply the patient was unable to do so; more than that she did not seem to understand what she was asked to do. The attempt to get the thorax into expiratory position, that is, to push it done met with a vivid active musculature resistance.

Annotation: Difficulty of free expiration is common in patients with neurotic and psychotic symptoms. Patients usually hold their emotional impulses in check and repress them by taking a breath in and holding it in and only expiring in small increments. They are often unable to blow the air out in full or let the lungs collapse in a relaxed way to its full extent. The free, complete and relaxed expiration results in the loosening of the suppression of impulses and the danger of its eruption.  Physiologically speaking this might be in relation to the lessening of pressure in the diaphragm on the lower abdominal area which is rich in autonomic ganglions.

It was found that head, neck and shoulders form a rigid unit, as if any movement in the respective joints were impossible. The patient was able to move her arms only very slowly and with great effort. The handclasp, both left and right, was very weak.  The scapular muscle was extremely tense, standing out like taut cords. The muscles between the shoulder blades were sensitive to touch.

The abdominal wall was also tense and reacted to the slightest pressure with a marked resistance. The musculature of the legs seemed thin, as atrophic, compared with a rest of muscular. The pelvis was immobilized in a retracted position.

Annotation. Retracted pelvis and immobilized pelvis are also a common feature of the armoring of the pelvis, indicating blocking of sexual impulses.

Superficial psychological exploration revealed the following: The patient had been suffering from insomnia for many years previous to the discovery of the cancer. She had been a widow for 12 years. Her marriage, which had lasted 2 years had been unhappy. In contradistinction to the many cases of marital misery, where the awareness of the unhappiness is absent, the patient had always been fully aware that her marriage was a failure. During the early months of her marriage, she had been much excited sexually and at the same time unsatisfied. Her husband had shown himself to be impotent. When finally, the sexual act succeeded, he suffered from premature ejaculation, and the patient continued to be unsatisfied. During the first few months, her lack of sexual gratification made her suffer keenly; later however, she "got used to it". She had always been fully aware of the necessity of sexual gratification, but had found no way of obtaining it. After the death of her husband, she devoted herself to education of her child, refused any contact with men and withdrew from social activities. Gradually, her sexual excitation subsided. In its place, she developed anxiety states; these she combatted by way of various phobic mechanisms.

Annotation: In ogronomy, we know that sexual excitation and anxiety originate from the same energy source but they work in opposite directions. Sexuality is energetic flow toward the outside, toward the world, and in contrast, anxiety is the same impulse directed toward the inside and away from the world.

At the time when I first saw her, she no longer suffered from anxiety states, she appeared emotionally balanced and somewhat reconciled to her sexual abstinence and her personal faith in general. She presented the picture of a neurotic resignation with which the character analyst is so familiar; she no longer had any impulse to change her life situation. I avoided going any deeper into the patient’s latent conflict and concentrated my attention on the organic changes which soon took place.


A detailed presentation of the technique of orgone therapy will be given elsewhere. Here, I shall mention only the essentials. Our orgone therapy experiments with cancer patients consists in their sitting in an orgone accumulator. Orgone energy which is concentrated in the accumulator penetrates the naked body and is also taken by way of respiration. The duration of the individual session depends on the atmospheric Orgon tension which is measured electroscopiclly (The technical details of electroscopic measurements of the orgone concentration will be dealt with in a special article). I began with the sessions of thirty minutes.

Annotation: In the book "The Cancer Biopathy", Reich states "But the spurting of every plant, the development of every embryo, spontaneous movement of muscles, and productivity of every biological organism demonstrates the existence of incalculable energies governing the work of living substance". (15) To identify and harvest this energy Reich brought the organic and inorganic matters to incandescence and in that process, he discovered energy vesicles which he named  "Bion." Reich says "The bion is the elemental functioning unit of all living matter." While experimenting with these bion cultures and isolating these cultures in enclosed boxes with metal lining inside and organic material such as wood or cotton outside, Reich discovered radiation and illumination in the box which persisted after he removed the bion cultures out of the box. Reich experimented by injecting the bion culture solutions into the cancer inflicted mouse with positive therapeutic effect. He also realized the same or even stronger therapeutic effect when he put the mouse inside the box without the bion culture. From here on, Reich discovered the functional relationship between bions which are the energy vesicles with atmospheric orgone that can be concentrated and accumulated in the box with a certain arrangement structure of organic material outside and metal lining inside. Reich describes the therapeutic effect of the orgone accumulator in his experimental trial of treatment of cancer inflicted mice in the International Journal of Sex Economy and Orgone Research, Volume 2, on 1943. Also reader can see the articles in this Journal titled" Orgone Energy: Theoretical and Practical Implications, by Kevin Hinchey (16). Although there is no systematic research regarding the therapeutic effect of orgone energy on different illnesses, there are ample anecdotal reports which cumulatively can serve as a scientific body of evidence for the therapeutic effect of orgone energy on the human organism. The most recent report was published in this Journal, under the title of "Orgone Blanket as a Complementary Support In The Treatment Of an Atrophic -Cancer Biopathy" (17)

On the website of Institute for Orgonomic Science, there is a published bibliography entitled "Clinical Observations on Physical Orgone Therapy in Humans" https://orgonomicscience.org/bibliography/

Interested readers are also referred to Bibliography (18)  which contains English language citations but does not include other works which are available in other languages.

During the first, session the skin between shoulder blades became red; this was a region which two months later was to play an important role in the patient’s functional disease. From the second session on, the reactions in general were more distinct and intense. The pain in the region of the tenth dorsal vertebra regularly decrease during the treatment; this improvement usually lasted until the next session. Humid and rainy weather always intensified the pains. During the second session, the redness of the skin spread to the upper part of the back and the chest. When the patient interrupted the irradiation for a few minutes, the redness disappeared, to return as soon as she went back in to the box. Beginning with the third session, the patient felt that the air in the box was "closer and heavier". She said, "I feel as if I were feeling up," "I have a buzzing around the ears from the inside," "Something clears up in my body." During the third session, she began to perspire, particularly under the arms; she related that during the past few years she had never perspired.

All these reactions of the organism to the orgone radiation are typical in all cancer patients. In one patient, one reaction will predominate, in another a different one. Such phenomena as redness of the skin, lowering of the pulse rate, warm perspiration, and the subjective sensations of "something in the body getting loose, filling up, swelling," etc. admit of only one interpretation: The cancer habitus is determined by a general sympatheticotonia, that is vegetative contraction. For this reason, we find in most cancer patients’ rapid pulse, pallor, the dryness of the skin, often with a cyanotic or livid coloration, reduced motility of the organs, constipation and inhibition of the sweat glands.  The Orgone radiation has a vagotonic effect, that is, it counteracts the general sympatheticotonic shrinking of the organism. In the accumulator the pulse will come down from 120 to 90 Or from 150 to 110 within 20 minutes; This without any medication. Similarly, there is a redness of skin and perspiration; The peripheral blood vessel dilates and the blood pressure decreases. Expressed in the terms of biological pulsation, this means that the plasma system relinquishes the chronic attitude of contraction and begins to expand vagotonicly. This expansion is accompanied by a reduction of the typical cancer pain.

Annotation: For the reader unfamiliar with the human nervous system anatomy and physiology, I should state that the human nervous system has two branches, a voluntary nervous system which is under the command of the brain and functions voluntarily, composed of motor and sensory branches, and the autonomic or vegetative nervous system which functions involuntarily and is not under control of the brain cortex. This autonomic nervous system is responsible for involuntary functions in the body such as involuntary rhythmic respiration, pulsations of different organs. The autonomic or vegetative nervous system itself has two branches, the sympathetic branch and the parasympathetic branch. The sympathetic branch is generally responsible for contractions, and the parasympathetic one is responsible for expansion and relaxation. Doctor Reich in this statement indicates that while armoring of the body and contraction of the body in general is a result of an overworking sympathetic nervous system which he called sympatheticotonia, the administration of concentrated orgone energy on the body has a parasympathetic effect, which brings expansion and relaxation to the body and consequently one can sees its physical effects such as sweating, redness of the skin, sensation of heat etc. One of the major parasympathetic branches in the body is vagus nerve. Therefore, the term vagotonic is also applied for a parasympathetic effect of orgone energy.

The cancer pains are usually ascribed to local mechanical tissue lesions caused by the tumor.  Doubtless this explanation is correct in one or other case, when the tumor presses on a nerve or a sensitive organ.  The typical cancer pain, of which I am speaking here, however, has to be strictly distinguished from these local, mechanically caused pains. Let us call it "Vegetative shrinking pain". In order to understand its nature, we have to review as few hitherto generally overlooked facts.

Annotation: Here, Doctor Reich is explaining the pain that a cancer patients and non-cancer patients alike are experiencing, as a consequence of the general contraction in the body. As described earlier the contraction is a function of sympatheticotonia. In other words, over stimulation of sympathetic nervous system which causes contraction in the body as a whole or in the different organs of the body. Reich attributes the pain to a general contraction of the body which is experienced by a patient as "Pulling pain" or "tearing up from within" when autonomic nervous system is contracting.

Sex economy had to give up the view generally held by medicine that the autonomic nerves in metazoan only transmit impulses but are themselves rigid. Such phenomena as the "Pulling" pains remain unintelligible unless one realizes that the autonomic nervous system expands and contract, that, in other words, it is mobile. This is confirmed, as stated before, by direct microscopic observation. We can see the fibers of autonomic ganglia expand and contract; they move independently of the movements of the total organism; their movements precede those of total body. The impulses appear first in the movement of the autonomic nervous system and are transmitted secondarily to the mechanical locomotor organs of the organism. This fact sounds revolutionary and strange. Yet, it is really, only a simple conclusion which I had to draw from the function of pulsation in the organism and which afterward I was able to demonstrate by direct observation. In the metazoan, the contracting and expanding ameba continuous to exist in the form of contracting and expanding autonomic nervous system. This autonomic system is nothing but organized contractile plasma. Thus, the emotional, vegetative, autonomic movement is the immediate expression of the plasma current. The prevalent concept of rigidity of the autonomic nerves is incompatible with every single phenomenon of biophysical functioning, such as pleasure, anxiety, tension, relaxation, and the sensation of pressure, pulling, pain, etc. On the other the hand contractility of the autonomic nervous system, which forms the functional and histological unity(syncytium), explains in a simple manner our subjective vegetative sensations. What we experience as pleasure is an expansion of our organism. The autonomic nerves, in pleasure, actually stretch out toward the world; The whole organism is in a state of vagotonic expansion. In anxiety, on the other hand we feel a crawling-back into the self, a shrinking and tightness. What we experience here is the actual process of contraction in the autonomic nervous system.

The orgasm we experience as an involuntary expansion and contraction; this reflects the actual process of expansion and contraction in total plasma system. The pain in cancer patients reflects the fact that the autonomic nerves retract from the diseased region and "Pull" on the tissues. The expression "pulling" pain describes an actual process. It takes a mechanistically rigid, unalive, unbiological and unpsychological attitude to deny the simple and unequivocal fact that our organ sensations are identical with the actual processes in the autonomic system. Such a mechanistic concept relegates our organ sensations to the realm of metaphysics and can not do justice to a single aspect of the cancer syndrome.

We understand now the seemingly strange phenomenon that in the orgone accumulator cancer pains regularly diminish or disappear. If the pains are not the expression of a local mechanical lesion, but of a general contraction of the autonomic nervous, of a "pulling" at the tissues, then we understand that with the vagotonic expansion of the nerves the pulling, and with it the pain, subsides.

This fact revels an essential effect of the orgone energy: It charges living tissues and causes an expansion of the autonomic nerves (Vagotonia).

Annotation: Biological energy or orgone energy, in human organisms, emits from the autonomic ganglion centers and propagates through the body in a pulsating manner by the autonomic nervous system. Orgon energy as Dr. Reich mentioned in the above paragraph, has a vagotonic effect. In other words, it brings about the expansion of the organism by parasympathetic effect. Infusion of orgone energy in the organism causes expansion which consequently brings about reduction or alleviation of pain.

The general vitalization of biological functioning by the orgone radiation is also reflected in the blood picture.

Our patient came with the hemoglobin of 35%. Two days later it was 40%; after four days 51%; after a week 55%; after two weeks 75% and after three weeks 85% that is normal. The patient got up took her child back to live with her and, after years of being bed ridden began to work again. She was inclined to overdo things; she went shopping, spending times at a stretch in department stores. She was free from pain, slept well and felt entirely well. She did her housework all by herself. I had to remind the patient of the fact that she was getting over a very serious illness and had to warn her to take it easy. My warnings were justified. After about six weeks, the patient began to feel tired, and hemoglobin dropped to 63%. The pain in the back did not return, but she began to complains about difficulties in breathing and about a "Wondering" pain in the ribs, in the diaphragmatic region. She was prescribed bed rest, and hemoglobin content soon improved, returning to 83% after another week. The weight remained constant at about 124 pounds. After another four weeks the hemoglobin was still 85%.

The patient was no longer brough to me by car; she came everyday by subway. Her relatives and physicians were amazed. As to the physicians, I met with a peculiar attitude which is incomprehensible from a rational point of view, an attitude which appears when, for a change, the case of a cancer patient is not hopeless. They did not ask how the improvement had been brought about. At the beginning, I had sent the patient to a physician who predicted that she would die in a few days. Now, the same patient was up and around and her X-Ray pictures showed compete ossification in a previously cancerous spine; Similarly, the shadows in the pelvic bone had disappeared after two weeks’ treatment. Yet, none of the physicians showed any interest in what was going on.

These X-Ray pictures showed the healing process unequivocally. They confirmed what I had seen so often in my cancer experiments with mice: The orgone energy arrests the growth of the tumor and replaces it by a hematoma which-under favorable conditions-is eliminated by connective tissue or if the tumor is in the bone, by calcification.

Biological Blood Test

I shall give here a brief resume of what will be presented in detail elsewhere: The Orgon energy charges the red blood corpuscles.

Every individual erythrocyte is an independent orgonotic energy vesicle. It follows the same pulsation and function of tension and charge as the total organism and each of its organs. With the magnification of about 3000, expansion and contraction of erythrocytes can easily be observed. Under the influence of Adrenalin, the erythrocytes shrink, with potassium chloride they expand; that is, they follow the antithesis of pleasure and anxiety.

Annotation: In protozoa or single cell living organisms including blood corpuscles or erythrocytes, there is no organized autonomic nervous system as it can be seen in metazoan. Therefore, the function of the autonomic nervous system is achieved by the chemical molecules as described by Doctor Reich above.

Our blood tests in cancer patients are done as follows:

  1. Culture test. A blood sample is tested for bacterial growth in bouillon or in a mixture of 50% bullion plus 50% KCI (o.1 n). The blood of advanced cancer patients regularly gives a strong growth of T-bacilli (cf. "Bion experiments on the Cancer Problem, 1939).
  2. Biological resistance test. A few drops of blood in bouillon and KC1 are autoclaved for half an hour at a steam pressure of 15 lbs. Healthy blood withstands the autoclavation better than the biologically devitalized blood of cancer patients. Biologically vigorous erythrocytes disintegrate into large blue bion vesicles. Devitalized erythrocytes in cancer blood disintegrate into T-bodies. Depending on the degree of devitalization, the content in T- bodies increases and that of blue bions decrease. The orgone treatment charges the erythrocytes. This is shown by the fact that the T-reaction changes into a B-reaction; that is, the blood becomes more resistant to destruction by high temperatures.
  3. Disintegration in physiological salt solution. A small drop of blood is put on a hanging-drop slide in 0.9% NaC1 solution. According to their biological resistance, the erythrocytes disintegrate slowly or rapidly. The more rapidly they disintegrate, and more rapidly their membrane shrinks and they form bion vesicles on the inside, the lower is their biological resistance. Biologically vigorous erythrocytes can retain their shape for 20 minutes or longer. Disintegration within 1 to 3 minutes indicate extreme biological weakness. In the case of marked anemia, the erythrocytes show the typical T-bodies, i.e., shrinking of the membrane.
  4. Blue orgone margin. When observed with apochromatic lenses at a magnification of 2-3000x, biologically vigorous erythrocytes show a wide margin of an intense blue color. Devitalized erythrocytes with a tendency to rapid disintegration show a very narrow margin with a weak blue coloration.

Annotation by Armando Vecchietti,(14) These are the tests used by Reich to detect the bio-energetic charge of the cells.

Blue Orgone Margin of the Blood cells:" In vivo, the red blood cells have an energetic halo that is visible under the microscope. The more the red blood cell is charged, the stronger and more visible is the energetic halo. On the contrary, when the red blood cell is weak, the halo is almost non-existent.

In our patient, the blood tests showed a general biological strengthening of the blood. When the patient first came, the blood cultures were strongly positive, that is, they showed intensive growth of T-Basile. Three weeks later the cultures were negative and remained so. The erythrocytes no longer showed shrinking and had a wide margin of deep blue. The autoclavation tests resulted in 100% bionous disintegration and no longer in a T reaction. The disintegration in salt solution now took place very slowly without the formation of T- bodies.

The patient was free from pain and felt generally well, except she reacted with malaise to rainy weather. She regularly came for her daily orgone treatment. The blood pressure remained constant at about 130/80. The pulse rate was and remained normal. There was only onesymptom which not only failed to disappeared but became more pronounced. This was a respiratory disturbance which at first, was ill-defined.

The Appearance of the Cancer Biopathy

I shall proceed now, to a description of cancer biopathy which made its appearance only after the elimination of the tumors and the restoration of the normal blood picture…  What happened was this: After the cure of the local cancer tumor, a general vegetative disease picture appeared which previously had been hidden and which formed the actual background of the cancer disease: the shrinking biopathy.

Annotation: As described earlier, the cancer tumor is only the end stage manifestation of the disease. Doctor Reich here describes the disease cancer biopathy, which existed before tumors had appeared and persisted after the tumor was eliminated.

The patient seemed to have regained her complete physical health. This happy state of affairs lasted about six weeks and was objectively confirmed by the blood test and X-Ray pictures. The tumors had disappeared. The blood remined healthy, the anemia did not recure. Tumor in the left breast was no longer pulpable after the eight orgone irradiation. With purely mechanistic pathological concepts, one would have proclaimed a "cure" of this cancer case. At the same time, however, certain emotional symptoms became more and more pronounced and kept one from jumping to premature conclusions.

At the time when the patient first came, she had not felt any sexual desire for a long time. About four weeks after the beginning of orgone therapy I observed in her signs of sexual statis.  Up to that point she had been gay and full of hope for the future; now, a depression began to set in and she developed signs of stasis anxiety. She began to withdraw from people again. As I learned from her, her attempts to straighten out her sexual situation had failed. She related that for sometime now, she had been suffering from intense sexual excitation; these excitations were much more intense than those which she had experienced fourteen years earlier at the beginning of her marriage, and which she had fought then. To judge from her description, it was a matter of normal vaginal excitations. During the first two weeks of getting well, she had made a few attempts to establish a sexual contact; failing in this, she became depressed and felt physically exhausted. These attempts, which were entirely healthy, were continued for several weeks. One day, she asked me whether it would be harmful to have a sexual intercourse "Once a month". The question had an apprehensive ring to it and was at variance with her sexual knowledge. It pointed to an irrational fear: She began to develop the fear that a dangerous accident would happen to her in sexual intercourse, since, as she said, "her spine was demolished in two places". She was afraid of what might result from the violent motions connected with sexual excitation. It is to be noted that this idea did not appear until after the failure of her attempts to find a sexual partner. She had met a man who proved impotent. She became furious but fought back her hatred and disillusionment. When another attack of anger would come, she would "swallow her anger". Now, the patient presented the complete picture of stasis neurosis.

Annotation: Stasis neurosis is a term used in psychoanalysis when the libido energy (which is called orgone energy in orgonomy) is accumulated but is not discharged by sexual release. Accumulation of this energy based on psychoanalytic theory described by Freud, causes a toxic reaction with manifestations of physical symptoms of anxiety such as palpitation of the heart, high blood pressure, tightness of the chest, hyperventilation and other subjective feelings of anxiety neurosis.

The depression became more sever and she suffered from uncontrollable crying spells; she felt "a dreadful pressure in her chest- it goes through and through".

One might have been tempted to explain this "Pressure in the chest" on the basis of collapse twelfth dorsal vertebra.  But simple consideration contradicted this assumption. For six weeks the patient had no pain in spite of working hard; it was inconceivable that a mechanical pressure of the collapse vertebra on a nerve should now suddenly become effective after not having made itself felt for weeks. What followed showed that the patient was developing an anxiety hysteria. This neurosis made use of spine lesion as a rationalization. It was to be expected that from now on every psychiatrically untrained physician would ascribe all symptoms to the collapse vertebra, overlooking the fact that the same vertebra had been no less collapsed at the time when the patient was going around without pain for a number of weeks.

After about ten orgone irradiation, the patient had begun to experience sexual excitation.  The orgone energy had charged her bio-sexually, but she was unable to handle the sexual excitation. The anxiety neurosis which she now developed was only a reactivation of the old conflicts; in puberty, she had suffered from similar states. The patient now found herself in the tragic situation of waking up to a new life, only to be confronted by a nothingness. As long as she was ill, the tumor and the resulting suffering had absorbed all interest. Indeed, her organism had used up a great amount of biological energy in the fight against the cancer. These energies were now free, and in addition were amplified by the orogonotic charge. In a phase of particularly intense depression, the patient confessed that she felt herself ruined as a woman, that she felt herself to be ugly and that she did not see how she could suffer this life. She asked me whether the orgone energy could cure her anxiety neurosis also. This, of course, I had to deny, and the patient understood the reason.

Annotation: Charging the human organism with orgone energy while the orderly flows of the energy is impeded and blocked by body armoring, cannot bring resolution to neurotic symptoms but on the contrary may exacerbate the neurotic symptoms as we see in this particular patient.

Summarizing the sequence of events, we have the following:

  1. In the beginning of the marriage a sever stasis neurosis due to the husband’s impotence.
  2. Repression of sexual excitation, resignation, depression, and a decade of abstinence.
  3. The sexual excitations disappear while the cancer disease develops. As we shall see later, the cancer metastasis developed exactly in those organs which played a dominant part in the muscular armor which repressed the sexual excitation. Annotation: Although systematic research to support the above statement is not available at this time, there is research to indicate the reduction of breast cancer in nursing mothers which can contingently support the above statement (19)
  4. Elimination of the tumors by the Orgone energy, physical recovery of the patient and reappearance of the sexual excitability.
  5. The high-pitched sexual excitation ends in disappointment; the old stasis neurosis reappears.

This constellation then resulted in a general shrinking of vital apparatus.

One day, there occurred a mishap. The patient, left the orgone box and began to dress. She bent over to pickup a stocking and suddenly, let out a shriek.  We found her pale, with a thready pulse, on the point of fainting. We became frightened because we did not know what had happened. We, too, felt the collapsed vertebra to be a Damocles’ sword. Nobody knew when the patient might suffer a fracture of the spine. Just because this fear seemed justified, it lent itself so well to a rationalization of the patient’s neurosis. When the patient calmed down, it was shown that she had only experienced a fright. For a moment she had believed that by her swift movement she had really broken her spine. Actually, she had only suffered a slight strain at the shoulder blade; She had made too swift a movement with a hypertonic muscle. During the next few days, the patient felt well, but four days later she complained of heavy "pressure in the chest" and "weakness in the legs". During these days the reflexes were normal. Three days later she again felt more strength in her legs, but the pressure in her chest persisted. On one of the following days, during a conversation in the treatment room, the patient suddenly cried out and doubled up so that everybody present immediately thought of a fractured vertebra. Yet, all reflexes were absolutely normal. But now there was a new symptom which kept the patient in bed for many months and which deceived a number of physicians.

When the patient doubled up, she stopped breathing; she no longer could breathe out properly and kept gasping for air. I had the impression of a spastic contraction of the diaphragm, the diaphragmatic block.

Annotation: "Diaphragm Spasm" or "Diaphragmatic Block", means, the contraction of the diaphragmatic muscle which prevents free breathing and blocks natural energetic flow in the body.

The pain in the lower ribs about which the patient now complained could ascribed either to this spasm or to the mechanicalpressure of the collapse vertebra on thesensory nerve. The collapsed 12th vertebra corresponded to the costal insertionof the diaphragm. What happened during the ensuing months was essentially a clash of opinions as to which of the two interpretations was correct. I advised the relatives to take the patient to the orthopedic surgeon whom she had consulted previously. The surgeon declared that the spine and the pelvic were free of shadows and metastasis and that the patient’s condition was due to mechanical lesion at the twelfth dorsal vertebra. What had made the metastasis disappear he did not inquire about. He prescribed bed rest in a plaster cast. The patient’s brother refused to take this advice because he had followed the course of his sister’s disease with great understanding and was convinced of the correctness of my interpretation.

It was during this period that I first began to understand the connection between the lesion of the twelfth vertebra and the biopathic contraction of the diaphragm. It could be no accident that the diaphragmatic spasm- the symptom so well known to the vegetotherapist- should appear just at this time. There also seemed to be significance in the fact that one of the main metastases had appeared just at the insertion of the diaphragm. This concurrence of diaphragmatic spasm and the lesion of the vertebra complicated the clinical diagnosis considerably; on the other hand, it opened an avenue of approach to the understanding of extremely important connection between emotional muscle spasm and the localization of metastasis. One of the tasks of this series of articles will be to demonstrate the fact that the localization of a cancer tumor is determined by the biological inactivity of the tissue in its immediate neighborhood.

The orgone treatment had to be interrupted because the patient was again bedridden. Renewed examination at the cancer hospital and by private physicians reveled calcification of the defects in the spinal column and the absence of the cancer growths. The original breast tumor did not reappear. But nobody could foresee whether or not new cancer growths might appear. I saw the patient repeatedly at her home. She complained of violent pains in her lowermost ribs. The pain was neither constant nor definitely localized; it appeared at various places along the costal margin and could always be eliminated by correcting the breathing. The whole thing looked like a neuralgia with a marked hysterical component. The patient lay flat in bed and gave the impression of being completely unable to move. If one tried to move her arms or legs, she would cry out, become pale and would breakout in cold sweats. A few times I succeeded in getting her out of bed into an easy chair by making her breathe deeply for about ten minutes.

Annotation: Breathing deeply as described earlier, is one of the techniques that is used to counter the general contraction of the body which in turn causes shallowness of the breathing and decreases the energetic charge in the body. Conversely, breathing deeply brings about the flow of energy in the body. Occasionally an unexpected outburst of emotions may happen during the process of psychiatric orgone therapy as a result of a period of deep breathing. This is a consequence of the movement of energy and the therapist must be aware of it and able to manage it

The relatives were amazed that I should be able to eliminate the pain so easily.They had seen the tumors disappeared and had had this confirmed by outside physicians. As I worked without drugs or injections, my orgone therapy seemed mysterious. In order to counteract this impression, I tried to explain to the relatives the mechanism of the disturbance. They realized very soon that the pain could not be due to the lesion of the vertebra, otherwise it would have been sharply localized and it could not have been eliminated by the improved respiration. At that time, I had as yet no idea of the fact that in reality the patient did not have any pain but a panicky fear of the onset of pain.

An Intercoastal injection of anesthetic was tried at the point where the pains were most violent. The anesthetic had no effect; shortly after the injection the pain appeared at another rib. The physicians who had been convinced that the pains were the result of vertebral lesion finally had to admit that they were essentially "functional". But nobody could tell what was the "meaning "of the "functional symptom". In addition, to most physicians "functional" means "not organic". That is not real but imaginary.

One day, I found the patient again in violent "pain.’ She was gasping for air and produced peculiar groaning sounds. The condition seemed serious, but gave way promptly when the patient succeeded in breathing down and when the spasm of the jaw muscles was released. I turned over the work on the respiration to a colleague because I was going away for two months. He reported later, that again and again it had been possible to eliminate the pains by establishment of full expiration.

The patient was taken to a cancer hospital once more. The hospital physician confirmed again the complete absence of metastasis in the bones. He doubted that X-Ray therapy would eliminate the pains or the surgical procedure at the nerve of twelfth segment would help. This was five months after the initiation of the orgone therapy, and three and half months after its interruption. When the patient’s brother told the hospital physician about the results of orgone therapy, he became very reserved. He said, he could not go into that until it was "recognized by official medicine". He overlooked the fact that he himself was a representative of "official medicine" to which he shifted the responsibility for the recognition of the results of the orgone therapy in this cancer case.

The patient soon returned home and continued to lie flat in bed. The atrophy (of disuse) of her muscles progressed, and the danger of recurrence of the tumors was considerable. A month later, I saw the patient again. I succeeded again in eliminating the pains by improving respiration. The patient was able to get out of the bed but felt very weak. One day, during one of these attempts to stay out of bed, I saw the patient develop severe anxiety; she implored me to be allowed to go back to bed. At that moment, she had no pains. I insisted on her staying up. All of the sudden, she began to tremble violently, was scared, broke out in cold sweat and turned pale. In other words, she experienced a violent, shock- like reaction of the autonomic system to the standing up. I did not let the patient go back to bed because I noticed that Some fear made her want to go back to bed.A few moments later, there were visible convulsions in the upper abdomen, and she gasped for air; the chronic spasm of the diaphragm dissolved itself into clonic convulsions of the abdominal musculature. After this, she felt greatly relieved and was able to move about freely.

Now, I understood a basic feature of biopathy. The biological charging of her organism by the orgone had resulted in sexual excitations; to these, she had reacted with contracture of the diaphragm. (The repression of sexual excitation by way of a chronic attitude of inspiration is a phenomenon well known to the vegetotherapist.) This contracture of the diaphragm apparently caused the "pressure in the chest" and the pain- like sensation which were ascribed to the collapsed vertebra. The pressure in the chest disappeared every time I succeeded in overcoming the inspiratory spasm and thus in restoring the pulsatory movement of the diaphragm.

Annotation: Contracted muscles in the body often represents the chronic armoring of a segment. When techniques of psychiatric orgone therapy are applied, including deep breathing and especially free and relaxed expiration, often those contacted muscles starts to show a softening and dissolving of the armor by clonic convulsions, or fasciculation which is often pleasurable for the patient, although initially, it may be unfamiliar and rather frightening.

But it was just these contractions and expansions of the diaphragm which caused violent anxiety which the patient tried to escape by falling back into inspiratory attitude. As was shown now, the "danger" of a clonic dissolution of the contracture was too great when the patient was standing up or walking around. The danger consisted in the violent convulsions which threatened to dissolve the diaphragmatic spasm. She did not dare leave her bed because she was very much afraid of these convulsions. It was this fear, then, which kept her in bed, although it was not the exclusive motive for staying in bed.

Doubtless the diaphragmatic spasm created neuralgic pain in the ribs and at the insertion of the diaphragm. But this spasm accounted only in part for her enormous fear of motion; the more important part was her fear that if she moved, she would "collapse" or "break her back".

The involuntary convulsions of the diaphragm which threatened to set in when she got up only seemed to justify this fear. Thus, she really did not suffer from acute pain, but from a tremendous fear of sudden violent pains. This fear was further increased by the experience of a few months before, when "something seemed to crack when she moved too suddenly." In other words, she suffered from a misinterpretation of normal vegetative sensations such as accompany the movement of the diaphragm. Her staying in bed was a strong defense mechanism against the fear of "breaking a part". This fear would arise as soon as the diaphragmatic spasm was about to dissolve itself into clonic movements. This she would counter with an intensification of the diaphragmatic contracture. Of course, this fear and her reaction to it had far- reaching physical results, for it led to a general muscular tension which was to prevent any motion; The long duration of the consequent immobility led to an atrophy of musculature. For example, she was hardly able to lift her arms; when she lifted her left arm, she lifted it with the aid of her right. She was unable to lift her legs and hardly able to bend her knees. The head was kept rigid. Passive movement of the head was strongly resisted. The patient was afraid of "breaking her neck." All physicians had warned her against rapid movements because the fifth cervical vertebra was collapsed.

On one of the following days, I found the patient in a very bad condition. In spite of a strong urge to defecate, she had not gone to the bathroom for several days, in order not to have to leave her bed. As on previous occasions, the "pains" disappeared when the patient was made to breathe, and she was able to get up. She had an enormous bowel movement without any difficulty.

I told her brother that I would undertake an attempt of vegetotherapy for two weeks (without remuneration), but that I would have to stop if it showed no results. She moved to my neighborhood and for next few weeks I worked with her for about 2 hours every day. This work disclosed the phobic background of her biopathic condition.

The characterological expression of the shrinking biopathy

Six months after the collapse in my laboratory, the patient developed a paralysis of the rectum and the bladder. The question was whether this was due to a local mechanical lesion or, as I suspected, to functional shrinking of the automatic system. In the first case, emotional motives would be absent and the symptoms would point to a sharply localized lesion. In the second case, one would expect prominent emotional and character disturbance and inconsistency of the paralytic symptoms.

When I explained to the patient again and again her fear of the pains, she became capable of moving in her bed without any pain. In order to be able to move, however, she always first had to mobilize her respiration and to loosen up the spasm of her jaw musculature. As she put it, she always had first "to get rid of the fear of moving." In the case of mechanical lesion of the nerve this would not have been possible.

When she succeeded in turning on her side or her stomach, she always seemed extremely exhausted. We looked for the reason for this peculiar exhaustion and finally found it in an extreme tension of the musculature of the neck and throat. The patient looked as if her head were being pulled into the thorax. It was the same attitude one involuntarily assumes to protect oneself against a sudden blow on the head. This musculature attitude was completely autonomic; the patient could neither control nor consciously loosen it. When this contraction of musculature of the neck and throat occurred, respiration ceased and the patient’s throat rattled as if she were choaking. In order to loosen up the spasm, I had her to stick her finger down the throat. To this she promptly reacted with a gag reflex which was so violent that she turns blue in the face. After a while she felt "greatly relieved in the throat."

Annotation: Sticking the finger in throat by the patient and producing gag reflex is one of the techniques of psychiatric orgone therapy which loosens up the contracted musculature of the throat as well as relaxing the spasm of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.

In connection with these throat reflexes, she began to tell me spontaneously about her anxiety dreams. She dreamed every night, with intense anxiety, that she was falling into an abyss; that she was choaking or that something was falling on her and she was being destroyed. With such dreams of falling the vegetotherapist is very familiar. They occur typically toward the conclusion of the character- analysis, at a time when pre- orgastic sensations in the abdomen and genital begin to appear and are suppressed before becoming conscious. These sensations of anxiety- laden, are experienced as falling. This is based on the following mechanism:

Pre- orgastic excitation is the onset of an involuntary convulsion of the plasma system. If the organism is afraid of these convulsions, it will develop – in the midst of the expansion which should end in a convulsion – a counteracting contraction, in other words an inhibition of the expansion. This results in a sensation like that which one experiences when an elevator suddenly starts down or an airplane drops rapidly. The sensation of falling is the perception of a contraction of the autonomic system in the process of inhibiting an expansion. The typical falling dreams are often accompanying by a sudden contraction of the total body.

Annotation: In psychoanalysis, dream interpretation is used to reveal the patients’ unconscious thoughts. In orgonomy, dreams also reflect the movement of energy. For example, sometimes a patient who is under psychiatric orgone therapy, may have dreams of driving fast toward the top of a hill, or being in an elevated place with some fear and apprehension. They may have dreams of acting out of character by speaking confidently and defending themselves courageously, or acting kind and loving etc. which are harbingers of change in their character and manifests breaking up of the armor and movement of stagnated energy. Dreams of falling as mentioned in the text by Reich, are a manifestation of expansion as a result of the movement of energy, but also contraction as a result of fear, which translates in the dream as falling from heights.

In the case of our patient, this means the following: She reacted to vagic sensation of expansion regularly with spastic contraction; her organism became fixated, as it were, in the muscular spasms in the throat and the diaphragm, as if "not to lose hold." The fear of the convulsions diminished considerably when I succeeded in eliminating the spasm by eliciting the gag reflex. Then, the movements which she executed in bed no longer resulted in spasm but in pleasurable sensations.

Every plasma current begins with a central contraction (tension) which dissolves itself into a vagic expansion; (this can be directly observed in the ameba limax at a magnification of 2000x) the vagic expansion goes with the sensation of pleasure; in the case of orgasm anxiety, it is inhibited and results in muscular spasm. We understand now: the patient suffered from a spastic reaction to vagic expansion as the result of orgasm anxiety. Biopathic shrinking begins with a spastic restriction of biological pulsation.

Annotation: Reich Refers to the expansion that results by stimulation of the vagus nerve which is one of the main parasympathetic nervous branches. It is synonymies with the parasympathetic expansion which causes pleasure. However, in the case of the patient who is fearful of the expansion and is heavily armored, this expansion, triggers fear and anxiety and brings about a sudden contraction which causes falling sensation as a consequence.

It differs from the simple sympatheticotonic stasis neurosis insofar as, here, the impulse to expansion gradually subsides, while in the stasis neurosis they maintain their intensity. A sharp distinction however cannot be drawn.

This mechanism of spastic reaction to the vagotonic impulses of expansion functioned in a different manner in different muscle system. For example: When I tried to move the patient’s arms passively, she always reacted with a contraction of the shoulder musculature and the flexors of the arms; the reaction was similar to the muscular negativism and rigidity in catatonics. The patient presented the picture of flaccid paralysis of the arms. When I asked her to hit my arm, she was at first unable to do so. But when I made her imagine that she was now letting out her suppressed anger, she was able, within five minutes, to get rid of her paralysis and to hit quite freely. At the end, she experienced pleasure in the motion and the action. The paralysis seems to have been eliminated to a considerable extend. Thus, the patient was able to overcome her fear of expansion and of the plasmatic pulsation temporarily. This regularly improve her general condition considerably.

The same thing could be observed when I sat her up passively in bed. She always became frightened, began to gasp for breath, turned pale and repeated several times, with an expression of severe anxiety, "You shouldn’t have done that." But when I repeated the procedure several times, she even became able to sit up by herself. She was absolutely amazed and said, "It is a miracle how this is possible."

From then on, I had the patient continued to elicit the gag reflex, bite the pillow, hit my arm, etc.; All these in order to produce clonic contractions in the musculature of the throat and the shoulders.

Annotation: What Dr. Reich is explaining here by asking the patient to do the gag reflex, bite the pillow or hit his arm, are techniques of psychiatric orgone therapy which are designed to overcome the inhibitions of the patient which is a result of the patient’s muscular armoring".

I knew from vegetiotheraputic experience that biological energy which is bound in spastically contracted musculature can be released only by clonisms. So, it was in this patient. After about half an hour of active production of various reflexes, involuntary clonic spasms began to set in in the musculature of the arms and shoulders.

Annotation: The signs of involuntary clonic spasms of the musculature is observed by the psychiatric orgone therapist usually by trembling and tremor or fasciculation of the muscles which is observable and the patient can also sense it subjectively.

The legs also began to tremble. This trembling could always be intensified by gentle flexion and extension.

When these spasms appeared for the first time, the patient became very much frightened. She did not know what was going to happened to her. It was the very same fear of involuntary contractions which she avoided by her spastic contractures. After a few minutes, however, she began to enjoy the spasms. Gradually, the musculature of the throat began to participate in the spasm; the patient was afraid she was going to vomit. At one point, she looked as if she were going to faint. I asked her to give free rein to the spasms. After a while, they became less intense: The biological energy had been discharged. She sank back in the bed exhausted; her face was red, her respiration deep and full. The gag reflex could no longer be elicited, and the patient said, "My throat is peculiarly free- as if a pressure had been taken away." Similarly, the pressure on the chest had disappeared.

On the following day the patient breathed normally, and I proceeded to relieve the paralysis of the legs by producing clonisms of the leg musculature. This was possible to a certain degree by slowly moving the legs, which were bent at the knees, apart and again together. I had not prepared the patient for the pre -orgastic sensation which are likely to appear with the dissolution of contractures in the leg musculatures. All of a sudden, she inhibited her respiration, set her jaw, turn pale and developed the facial expression which I can only describe with the world "dying." The reaction was so violent, that I became frightened. There could, however, be no mechanical lesion, for I had moved the legs only very slowly and gently. The patient emitted sounds such as one makes with the most sever pains in the chest. The sounds were a mixture of groaning and rattling. From vegetotherapeutic experience I knew that this was patient’s rection to vegetative currents in the genitals. We know from vegetotherapy that orgastic sensations, when inhibited by orgasm anxiety are experienced as a fear of dying; "dying" in the sense of falling apart, melting, losing consciousness, dissolving, nothingness."

The patient groaned heavily, was pale and blue, turned her eyes up and seemed exhausted. Never before had I seen the neurotic reaction of dying so realistically. With all the work on disturbances of the orgasm I had done during twenty years, I had still underestimated the depth at which the disturbances of the function of biological pulsation are at work. True, my contention had always been that the orgasm is "basic biological function per se." But never before had I seen an organism "die" so realistically as a result of orgasm anxiety. I told the relatives that quite possibly the patient would not survive more than a few days. It was clear to me that the shrinking of her vital system might well continue into actual death. This being the case, I would have relinquished any further efforts had it not been for the fact that seven months earlier, when the patient first came to me, she had also been on the point of dying. There was nothing to be lost by going on and a great many insights into the nature of shrinking biopathy to be gained.

Annotation: It is my opinion that here in this passage Doctor Reich is implicitly expressing his regret in relinquishing caution and underestimating the power of the psychiatric orgone therapy in eliciting impulses that might, in reaction to it, patient respond with catastrophic results. The technique he used as he described earlier by trying to relieve the paralysis of the legs that producing clonism of the leg musculature which triggered pre- orgastic sensations is a technique that brings about loosening of the armoring in the pelvic area which Reich himself had cautioned in his teachings and writings that it is to be done at the end of treatment when armoring of the other segments are dissolved. He also indicates that he did not prepare the patient for the impulses that she may experience. He states that he underestimated, after twenty years of working in this field, the depth which the disturbance of the function of biological pulsation are at work. So, in a way in this passage perhaps Dr. Reich is indicating that premature strong movement of the orgastic currents into the pelvis triggered strong contraction in the patient. (20)

The following day, I was called on the telephone by the relatives’ who said the patient was actually dying, that she was hardly breathing at all and was unable to have a bowel movement. When I saw the patient, she really seemed to be dying. Her face was blue and sunken. She emitted rattling sounds and whispered, "This is the beginning of the end." I found her pulse to be rapid but forceful.

In the course of about fifteen minutes, I was able to establish a good rapport with the patient. I asked her whether she had had- at any time previous to her developing tumors- the feeling that she was going to die. Without any resistance she related that as a child she had often rolled her eyes up and played at "dying". The rattling and groaning sounds which she made now were also familiar to her from childhood. She used to make them when she felt a constriction in her throat; as she put it, "when something pulled together in her throat." Now, it became clear that the localization of one of the cancer metastases at the fifth cervical vertebra was due to the spasm of the musculature of the throat which had been present for decades. The sensation of constriction in the throat, the patient continued, went hand in hand with a pulling in the shoulders and the tension between the shoulder blades, that is, at exactly the region were later the cancer pains developed.

Now, that the patient talked with me wide awake and lively, I made her "play at dying". Within a few seconds, she succeeded in producing consciously the same picture by which she previously had been overcome involuntarily. She turned her eyes upward so that the lids were closed except for a narrow slit through which the white of the eyes were just visible, fixed her chest in inspiratory position and emitted groaning and rattling sounds.  It was not easy to bring her back out of this dying attitude; but the more frequently she assumes this attitude consciously, the easier it became for her to give it up again. This was entirely in accord with vegetetherapeutic experience: by practice, an autonomic function can be made objective and finally subject to conscious control.

Annotation:  Psychiatric orgon therapist often asks the patient to assume attitudes or features that the patient normally is unable to assume. For example, a psychiatric orgone therapist might ask a patient who has a rigid, stern and angry facial attitude to relax his face and assumes a softer or accepting and loving attitude. Although this feature might be unusual for the patient, by a voluntary practice the patient becomes capable of changing the vegetative involuntary features and becomes capable of expressing an attitude and often feeling the emotions that are attached to it which he was incapable of feeling before such treatment.

I asked the patient whether she thought that she was unconsciously committing suicide. She started to cry and said there was no point in going on living. Her illness had ruined her sexual attractiveness; she could never again be happy; and without happiness she did not want to live. I had the patient again elicit the gag reflex. Promptly the clonic trembling in the arms and the throat reappeared, though not as strongly as the day before. She even succeeded in sitting up by herself, but her legs failed her. I had the impression that upper part of her body was functioning while the lower part, from the hip down, failed to function.

For several days after this, the patient felt well and gay. One day however she suddenly relapsed into the dying attitude. I saw immediately that it was not playacting, but that she was overwhelmed by the biopathic reaction. Her respiration was shallow and labored, her nose pointed, her cheeks were sunken and her throat rattled heavily. I did not understand why this happened just at this point. She complained of violent pains and was completely unable to move. I succeeded again in restoring normal respiration. Again, intense clonic spasm occurred in the throat and torso, but the lower extremities remained "death." I had her again elicit the gag reflex. After this, the spasm became more intense.

I noticed that the pelvis tended to participate in the spasms but that she held back. The spasms lasted for about ten minutes and then subsided. While previously one had had the impression of suffocation, now the patient showed definite vagotonic reactions: The face was flushed, the skin over the body was no longer pale. The pains due to the diaphragmatic spasm subsided. After a while the patient began to talk. She was, as she said, afraid that "something was going to happened down there." She related that up to the time when she came to me for treatment, she had occasionally obtained sexual gratification by masturbation. This was a very belated correction of her earlier statement that she had been living in complete abstinence for over ten years. As early as the first week of orgone treatment, she had suppressed every impulse to masturbate because of fantasies of sexual intercourse with me. Since then, she had not dared to touch her genital. The inhibition of masturbation, together with the fantasy, led to a stasis of sexual excitation, which, furthermore intensified by the biological charge by the orgone. The intensification of her sexual needs increased her anxiety. Thus she developed the fantasy that she might break her spine. The straining of the shoulder muscles when she tried to pick up her stocking seemed to confirm this fear, as if she had said to herself, "See, I knew it was going to happen".

The day after she had told me about her masturbation fantasies, I found her in the best of moods, full of hope and without complains. The talk of the day before had made it possible for her, for the first time in months, to masturbate again. She had experienced a good deal of satisfaction. She was now able to control her diaphragmatic spasm very well. She was constipated, but felt the urge for defecation; only her fear of motion kept her from going to the bathroom. She moved much more easily in bed. She was even able to sit up all by herself, which amazed and pleased her a good deal. For the first time, she understood the chain of causes and events: fear of spinal fracture -> fear of pain -> inhibition of respiration by diaphragmatic block -> pain in the chest -> fear of spinal fracture. Now, however, the inhibition of motion by the fear of pain did not set in so ready. The fear did not appear until the motion required a good deal of effort. We now understood the connection between her fear of spinal fracture and her fear of "motion".

On the next day, I found the patient again with poor respiration, full of complains, and assuming the dying attitude. She could not say what had brought this about. The relatives told me that the day before she had felt very well until the evening. Then things had taken a turn for the worse after the following episode. Her boy was in the bathroom adjoining her room. She heard a noise and got terribly frightened. All of the sudden she had the idea that the boy was closed in in a very small space and was going to be smothered. During the night she slept poorly and had a number of severe anxiety dreams, some of them falling dreams. All I could do on this day was improve her breathing which reduced her complaints about the "pains."

During the next few day, the patient felt much better, being able to move without pain and to lift her legs. During a treatment hour, she happened to get near to the edge of the bed, whereupon she became pale stopped breathing, and cried out. She was afraid of falling out of bed. Her reaction was clearly exaggerated and did not correspond to any real danger. She related spontaneously that the summer before, at the hospital, she had asked to have an additional bed put at each side of her bed, because she was afraid of falling out of bed. I lifted her toward the edge of the bed, and although I held her firmly, she yelled with fear. The fear of falling which was at the basis of her fear of motion was now quite evident.

On the next day, she sat up in the bed. She had no pain, but developed violent anxiety, broke out into a sweat and hysterical crying. She said, she was going to die; that she had been fighting death for so long, but this was the end. She cried for her boy. She asked me for an injection which would make her die so that she did not have to suffer any longer. "I don’t want to get out of bed, I want to stay right here." After a while, she quitted down and found to her great surprise that she was able to sit up without any effort. But gradually she developed violent clonic spasms all over her body, particularly intense at the shoulders. She was extremely afraid of these spasms; that was the reason for her staying in bed. Whenever she was forced to sit up, she felt the spasms coming. She no longer had her fear of falling, but connection was clear. The violent clonic spasm of her musculature formed the physiological basis of her neurotic fear of falling. During the night, she had nightmares of falling into a great depth, of heavy things falling on her, of men attacking and threatening to choak her. Now, she remembered that she had suffered from exactly the same anxiety states for a long time in adolescence. She also remembered a phobia she used to have at that age. When she would walk onthe street and hear foot steps behind her, she would begin to run, for fear that "somebody was after her". This fear usually was so intense that her legs "failed her" and she always had the feeling that she was going to fall down. She recognized in this the very same bodily sensation which she experienced when she had to sit up in bed now. Then also, her legs would fail her and she became afraid of falling. With that, she would have the sensation of spasm of the diaphragm and would be "scared to death".

All these shows unequivocally that the motor paresis of the legs was caused by a phobia, a phobia which had dominated her as far back as puberty, long before she had developed cancer. The paresis which she now developed, was nothing but an intensification of this old motor weakness in the legs. This old fear of falling became associated with the idea of the spinal fracture and was thus thoroughly rationalized. The old phobia of falling was the real forerunner of her later paresis.

The day before, she had had to go the bathroom all the time. The movement of her intestines and bladder were "extraordinarily lively." The previous night she had been restless. In the late forenoon, she felt unable to urinate. She felt her legs were without sensation. On examination, I found a reduced sensitivity to pin pricks up to the 10th segment. The kneejerk, the Achilles reflex and the abdominal reflexes were normal. I had been told on the telephone that she was unable to move her legs. In reality, the motility of the legs was only reduced, but not absent. The deep sensitivity of the joints of the toes was reduced. It was the picture of a functional paresis. There were no definite symptoms either of a flaccid or spastic paralysis. The only point in support of the assumption that the lesion of the twelfth vertebra had something to do with it was the fact that the sensory disturbance in the upper abdomen had fairly sharp upper limit.

The next day, the patient was again able to urinate but three days later, she became unable to control her anal sphincter. The reflexes were normal but the patient’s fear of sitting up returned.

She was again taken to a hospital for a general check-up. X-Rays showed the spine, pelvis and legs free from metastasis, but there were new metastasis in the cranium and in the humerus. That is, the new tumors made their appearance far away from those regions which showed the paresis. Functional biopathy and carcinomatous growth had nothing to do with each other.

Annotation: In other words, Doctor Reich is stressing the fact that it was not the cancer lesion or tumors that was causing some of the symptoms that she experienced earlier; such as weakness in the legs and fear of falling, but it was a general biopathy of the organism, a contraction of the vegetative system, unrelated to the effect of the tumor that was causing the above symptoms.

The patient remained at the hospital for two weeks. No neurological examination was done. The paresis of the legs was considered a result of the vertebral lesions; none of the physicians discovered its functional nature. They told the relatives that the patient would live for two weeks at best.

As nothing was done for the patient at the hospital except that she was given morphine injection, the relatives took her back home. I saw her on the day of her return. She was very apprehensive about her motions and stressed the fact that the hospital physicians had warned her to be extremely cautious in her motions because "the spinal column was pressing on the nerve and it might break." This admonition on the part of physicians naturally confirmed and reinforced the patient’s phobia. The relatives wished me to undertake another experiment with orgone in order to eliminate the tumors of the cranium. On that day, I was not able to palpate any tumor at the cranium.

I observed the patient for another four weeks at her home. During this time, all reflexes at the legs were normal, the bowels and the bladder functioned normally again. However, the atrophy of the musculature and the bones progressed rapidly. She had developed putrid bed sore at the buttocks. The legs moved in reaction to painful stimuli, but showed few spontaneous impulses. She continued to have nightmares of men falling into an abyss, of an elephant charging at her and of being "as if paralyzed", unable to move. During the day, also, she felt anxiety in the eyes and in the chest. The pains had completely disappeared, but the fear of motion and the spinal fracture persisted.

We had a special orgone accumulator built for her bed. The effect of orgone showed itself in a reduction of the pulse rate from about 130 to between 80 to 90, in general feeling of well-being and the disappearance of the anxiety. The blood picture which in the past few months had taken a turn for the worse (50% hemoglobin, T-buddies, positive T cultures, about 50% T on autoclavation) also improved rapidly. The impulse in the legs increased in frequency and intensity.

Then there occurred a sudden and unforeseeable catastrophe which sealed the fate of the patient. One night, as she moved in the bed, she fractured her left femur.  She had to be taken to the hospital. The physicians were amazed at the thinness of the femur. They could not understand how the breast tumor could have disappeared. The patient was given morphine, declined during the following four weeks and finally died.

The orgone therapy had prolongs her life for about 10 months, had kept her free of cancer tumor and cancer pains for months and had restored the function of her blood system to normal. Interruption of the orgone treatment by the biopathic paralysis interdicts any conjecture as to a possible favorable outcome. What is certain is that in this case the real cause of death was the biopathic shrinking, and not the local tumors.

This case has given us important insights into the emotional and vegetative background of the cancer disease. Now, we are confronted by the important question as to what takes place in the blood and the tissues as a result of the biopathic shrinking; in other words, the question as to how the general shrinking of the autonomic system produces local tumors. I may anticipate: the general result of biopathic shrinking is purification in the blood and the tissue. The cancer tumor is only one of the symptoms of this process of purification. These finding requires extensive clinical and experimental substantiation; This will be given elsewhere.

Annotation: The purification of the tissues as a result of contraction of the vessels, poor oxygenation of the tissue, poor removal of the carbon dioxide, results in decomposition, especially the proteins with the production of foul-smelling compounds. This term applies especially to the decomposition of the organic matter.


Let us briefly review our observations. The "dying" of the patient in the biopathic attack did not in the least give the impression of hysteria or simulation. The autonomic system reacted in such fashion that actual death was by no means improbable. The sunken cheeks, the cyanotic color, the faint, rapid pulse, the spasm of the throat, the failure of motility and the general physical debility were dangerous realities.

I venture the statement that each of these attacks was the beginning of an actual cessation of the vital functions. It was possible, by dissolving the spasms and by breaking the diaphragmatic block again and again to interrupt the process of dying. Death was again and again counteracted by vagotonic expansion.

This cannot be matter of suggestion. Suggestion in the usual sense could not possibly penetrate into these depths of the biological apparatus. What was possible, however, was to elicit the biological impulses to expansion in various bodily systems and thus, month after month, to arrest the shrinking process again and again. In order to do this, a good rapport with the patient, as a part of vegetotherapeutic technique, was, of course, indispensable. Only in this aspect of the procedure might one be justified in speaking of suggestions.

Let us go back to our familiar diagram of psychosomatic functioning and try to find out at which place in the vital apparatus the biopathy (in contrast to a mechanical lesion), as well as vegetotherapeutic experiment, takes effect:

Every lasting energy stasis in the biological system (a) must of necessity manifested itself in somatic as well as psychic symptoms (b1 and b2). Psychotherapy attacks the psychic symptoms, chemico- physical therapy the somatic symptoms.

Vegetotherapy has as its starting point the fact that psyche as well as soma have, from a point of few of bio-energy, the same root in the pulsating plasma system (blood and autonomic system). Vegetotherapy thus influences not the psychological function itself, but the common basis of psychic as well as somatic function; it does this by eliminating the inhibition of biological functioning, such as respiratory block, the inhibition of the orgasm reflex, etc. Thus, vegetotherapy is neither psychic therapy nor a physiological- chemical one; it is biological therapy directed at the disturbance of pulsation in the vital apparatus.

Annotation: The body of knowledge of ogronomy which is discovered by Doctor Reich, in contrast to conventional medicine and biology which describes human structure by dividing and compartmentalizing the human structure to several separate parts, sees the human structure and different compartments of it united in core. In the book The Function of Orgasm, Dr. Reich explains the unity between the psyche and the soma and how these two are united in depth in the biosystem and has offered the above schema for the unity of the psyche and the soma. This schema and this comprehension of human structure is very useful for understanding the unity between the psyche and the soma and for the treatment of psychosomatic illnesses in general.  Therefore, while conventional medicine and psychiatry do not have any techniques to penetrate to the depth and core of human biological functioning, vegetotherapy by its theory and technique is able to penetrate to such depth and bring fundamental changes to both, the psyche and the soma.

Since these disturbances show their effects in all the more superficial layers of psychosomatic apparatus- for example, as hypertension and cardiac neurosis in the somatic, as phobia in the psychic realm- vegetotherapy, of necessity, reaches these symptoms in the superficial layers also. Vegetotherapy, thus, is the most advanced existing method for the influencing of biopathic disturbances. For the time being, its field is limited to the biopathies.

In the cancer biopathy, the vegetotherapeutic treatment of the disturbances of respiration and of the orgasm is supplemented by the orgone therapy which is directed at the anemia, the T- bacilli in the blood and the local tumors. As succeeding articles will show, we are fully aware of the enormous complexity of the problem as well as the largely experimental character of this cancer therapy.

According to the prevalent concepts they are only mechanical or chemical lesions of somatic apparatus on one hand and functional disturbances of the psychic apparatus on the other. Sex economic investigation of the cancer shrinking biopathy reveals a third, more deep-reaching disturbances: The disturbance of the plasma pulsation at the common biological basis of soma and psyche. What is fundamentally new here is the finding that the inhibition of the autonomic sexual function can produce a biopathaic shrinking of the autonomic nervous system. The question remains whether this etiology can be found in all forms of cancer.

There is a general misconception that the organism is divided into two independent parts: one is physico-chemical system, "soma," which is destroyed by such agents as a cancer; the other is the "psyche" which produces hysterical phenomena, so- called conversion symptoms, in the body, and which "wants" or "fears" this or that and has nothing to do with the cancer. This artificial splitting up of the organism is misleading. It is not true that psychic apparatus "makes use of somatic phenomena"; nor is it true that the somatic apparatus obeys only chemical and physical laws, but does neither "wish" nor "fear." In reality, the function of expansion and contraction in the autonomic plasma system represents the unity apparatus which makes the "soma" live or die. Our patient demonstrated the functional unity of psychic resignation and biopathic shrinking exceedingly well. In her, life began to function poorly; the function of expansion began to fail.

To express it psychologically: there was no impulse behind motion, action, decision, and struggle. The vital apparatus was, as it were, fixed in the reaction of anxiety; psychologically, this was represented in her fear that motion might result infracture somewhere in the body. Now, motion, action, pleasure, and expansion appeared to be "a danger to life". The characterological resignation preceded the shrinking of the vital apparatus.

The motility of the biological plasma system itself is damaged by biopathic shrinking. The fear of motion has its basis exactly in this vegetative shrinking. The plasma system shrinks, the organism losses its autonomic balance and the self-regulation of locomotion. Finally, a shrinking of the body substance sets in.

The inhibition of plasmic motility by the shrinking fully explains all aspects of the disease picture; it explains neurotic anxiety as well as functional paresis, the fear of falling as well as the muscular atrophy, the spasm as well as the biological disturbance which breaks through as "cancer" and finally ends in general cachexia.

For it was possible again and again to make the patient develop new living impulses by vegetotetherapeutically correcting her breathing. The diaphragmatic spasm is the central defense mechanism in the biopathic disturbance of the organism: The patient really breaths poorly; she really ventilates her tissues insufficiently; the plasmatic locomotor impulses are actually insufficient for the maintenance of coordinated movements; the fear of falling and of suffering damage has a real basis and is not "imaginary"; more than that the imagined catastrophe of falling has itself a real basis in the restriction of biological motility. The hysterical, functional character of the paresis thus gain the factual biopathological basis.

Annotation: In the conventional medicine and psychiatry when physician does not find any organic and physical finding reflecting reason for loosing balance, or generalized weakness, or pain etc. usually labels the symptom as psychosomatic, which basically reflects the fact that its all "is in your head" and there is no tangible reason for it. However, based on orgonomic understanding as Dr, Reich is explaining here, such psychological symptoms also have tangible reason, for the vegetative contraction and poor energetic pulsation does, in fact, create disturbance of coordination and balance and as well as muscular weakness and pain. Therefore, from orgonomic point of view, such fears by the patient have a real and tangible reasons.

Thereis a difference only in degree between hysterical paralysis and paralysis as a result of biopathic shrinking.

In medicine, functional paralysis is usually looked at, with some irony; the concept is still prevalent that functional paralysis is more or less "simulated." I would like to state that functional disturbance of motility is much more serious and farreaching then are paralysis which results from mechanical lesion. In the case of mechanical lesion, the biological functioning of the total organism is not affected. A functional paralysis, on the other hand, is expression of the total biological disturbance. In this case, the function of plasmatic impulse formation in the biological core of the organism is itself disturb and may result in more or less extensive loss of tissue (muscular atrophy, anemia cachexia, etc.). To say that the mechanical lesion cannot be influenced by suggestion, while the functional disturbance is amenable to suggestion, means nothing. For the "suggestion" which may bring about an improvement in the functional paralysis is in reality nothing but a pleasurable stimulus for the biological system and thus, causes it to reach out for new life possibilities and to function again.

The basic disturbance in functioning of the body plasm, represented by chronic sexual stasis, character rigidity and resignation and by chronic sympatheticotonia, is to be take much more seriously than mechanical lesions. The mechanistic and purely materialistic concept of medicine of today have to be partly replaced and partly overcome by functional concept. This functional concept made it possible to make a breach in the wall which hitherto has made the cancer problem in- accessible. Succeeding articles will show to what extent this functional concept is generally applicable. We shall next, turn our attention to the local changes in blood and tissue which are caused by the biopathic shrinking.

Annotation: This article is concluded here on February 10, 1942. There are succeeding articles that is published in 1943, 1944, and 1945 in the international journal of sex economy and orgone research which is published by William Reich Infant Trust and is available.


  1. Simonian, S.
    a. From Libido to Orgone –
    August 29, 2020
    b. Transcription of speech given on November 17, 2018 , Evolution of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy from Psychoanalysis and its Medical Psychiatric and Social Consequences.
    c. From Freud’s Psychoanalysis to Organe Therapy June 29, 2018.
  2. Reich, W.: The Function of Orgasm, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1961, Page 294.
  3. Reich, W.: The Cancer Biopathy, New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1973. Page 151.
  4. Reich, W.: The Carcinomatous Shrinking Biopathy, International Journal of Sex Economy and Orgone Research, 1942, Vol:1, page 131.
  5. Reich, W.: The Cancer Biopathy. New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1973. Page:152.
  6. Cf. W. Reich "Der Urgegensatz des vegetativen Lebens" 1934.
  7. Zamitine, N. 1961. Electrophysiological Analysis of Excitation Conduction Through a Solar Plexus. Journal of Physiology of USSR.
  8. Reich, W.: The Cancer Biopathy. New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Page 31
  9. Vecchiatti, A.: Reich Test for Early Cancer Diagnosis. Journal of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy. February 28, 2021
  10. Cf, e.g.,, Biochemische Zeitsehr, Bd. 317.
  11. Cf, "Bion Experiments on the Cancer Problem."1939
  12. Farr, A.D.: Some Problems in the History of Hemoglobinometry (1978-1931). Journal of Medical History 1978, 22: 151-160.
  13. Reich, W.: The Cancer Biopathy. New York, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 1973. Page 170
  14. Vecchiatti, A.  Biography.
  15. Reich, W.: The Cancer Biopathy. New York, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.  Page 11.
  16. Hinchey, K.: Orgon energy: Theoretical and Practical Implications. The Journal of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy. December 7, 2015.
  17. Campania Felix Group.: Orgon Blanket as a Complimentary Support in Treatment of an Atropic -Cancer Biopathy. October 2018. The journal of psychiatric orgone therapy.
  18. Bibliography on Clinical Observations on Physical Orgone Therapy in Human. Attached
    (This bibliography contains only print-media English-language citations, and does not include other works which are available only online or in other languages.)
    • Anderson, W. (1950) Orgone Therapy in Rheumatic Fever, Orgone Energy Bulletin, 2: 71-73.*
    • Baumann, S. (1986) My Experience with the Orgone Accumulator, Energy and Character, 17(1): 65-68
    • Bremer, K. (1953) Medical Effects of Orgone Energy, Orgone Energy Bulletin, 5: 71-84.*
    • Brenner, M. (1991) Orgonotic Devices in the Treatment of Infectious Conditions, Pulse of the Planet, 3: 49-53.
    • Cott, A. (1951) Orgonomic Treatment of Ichthyosis, Orgone Energy Bulletin, 3: 163-166.*
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    • Hoppe, W. (1945) My First Experiences with the Orgone Accumulator, International Journal of Sex-Economy and Orgone Research, 4: 200-201.*
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    • Hoppe, W. (1950) Further Experiences with the Orgone Accumulator, Orgone Energy Bulletin, 2: 16-21.*
    • Hoppe, W. (1955) Orgone Versus Radium Therapy of Skin Cancer: Report of a Case, Orgonomic Medicine, 1: 133-138.
    • Hoppe, W. (1973) The Treatment of a Malignant Melanoma with Orgone Energy, Energy and Character, 4(3): 46-50.
    • Lassek, H. (1991) Orgone Accumulator Therapy of Severely Diseased People, Pulse of the Planet, 3: 39-47.
    • Levine, E. (1951) Treatment of a Hypertensive Biopathy with the Orgone Accumulator, Orgone Energy Bulletin, 3: 25-34.*
    • Moise, R. (2009) Household Use of the Orgone Energy Accumulator, Energy and Character, 37: 19-25.
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    • Reich, E. (1979) I Was the Strange Doctor, International Journal of Life Energy, 1: 32-42.
    • Reich, W. (1942) The Carcinomatous Shrinking Biopathy, International Journal of Sex-Economy and Orgone Research, 1: 131-155.**
    • Reich, W. (1943) Experimental Orgone Therapy of the Cancer Biopathy (1937-1943), International Journal of Sex-Economy and Orgone Research, 2: 1-92.**
    • Reich, W. (1945) Anorgonia in the Carcinomatous Shrinking Biopathy, International Journal of Sex-Economy and Orgone Research, 4: 1-33.**
    • Reich, W. and Reich, E. (1955) Early Diagnosis of Cancer of the Uterus (Ca V) (Case No. 13), C.OR.E (Cosmic Orgone Engineering), 7: 47-53.*
    • Senf, B. (1979) Wilhelm Reich: Discoverer of Acupuncture Energy?, American Journal of Acupuncture, 7: 109-118.
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  19. Anesty, Erica.: Breast Feeding and Breast Cancer Reduction. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. September 1, 2017. volume 53 issue 3.
  20. Reich, W.: Process of Integration in New Born and Schizophrenic. Journal of Orgonomic Functionalism. Volume 6, 1968, Page 7.
    Reich, W.: Orgone Therapy: Critical Issues in Therapeutic Process, Special Characteristics and Dangers of the End Phase. 1949, Recorded Lectures by William Reich infant trust.

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“Contemporary somatic psychology – an overview of the field”

Based on a talk given on April 28th, 2012 at the conference entitled Somatic Psychology: Its Origins and Development.

Daniel Schiff, PhD

I want to start off by just giving you a sense of where the idea of this particular workshop or seminar came about as many of you, as I have just learned, have participated in orgonomy or have been in orgone therapy for a long time. Actually when I was thinking about the creation of this seminar I was thinking about addressing people who weren’t aware of Reich’s work, with the idea of presenting what is beginning now to emerge in the field of psychology – somatic psychology – a field of psychology that incorporates the understanding of the central role of including the total organism in the understanding of the person, of culture, and of practice of psychotherapy. It is an approach that is gradually moving into the forefront in the field of psychotherapy. Personally it is been a wait for me, and maybe for those of you who have been part of the therapeutic community and are familiar with Reich’s work. A wait for the reemergence of that which was beginning to emerge in psychology in the late 50’s and 60’s.  A reemergence of looking at human beings as not only is cognitive beings but as total beings. And a wait for the recognition in the field of psychology of Reich’s work and his role in the development of psychotherapeutic technique beyond character analysis. So I waited for a while, a good number of decades, and I have been quite pleased, especially in the past 10 years, to see this emergence happen. And I’ve also been quite pleased that Reich is noted as central in the development of somatic psychology.

To illustrate the latter I turn to the greatest source of knowledge in our planet – Wikipedia. I will read from their entry on somatic psychology.

“Whilst Pierre Janet can perhaps be considered the first Somatic Psychologist due to his extensive psycho-therapeutic studies and writings with significant reference to the body (some of which predated Freud), it was actually Wilhelm Reich who was the first person to bring body awareness systematically into psychoanalysis, and also the first psychotherapist to touch clients physically, working with their bodies. Reich was a significant influence in the founding of Body Psychotherapy (or Somatic Psychology as it is often known in the USA & Australia) – though he called his early work "Character Analysis" and "Character-Analytic Vegetotherapy"). Several types of body-oriented psychotherapies trace their origins back to Reich, though there have been many subsequent developments and other influences.”

So Wikipedia here acknowledges Reich as seminal in the development of somatic psychotherapy or body-oriented psychotherapeutic approaches. Now if you look at different curriculum on somatic psychology, and I will shortly introduce what somatic psychology is, you’ll often see reference to Reich. However, in my speaking to people who have come through some of these somatic psychology programs the representation there of Reich is often not all that accurate or not all that extensive. And yet there is the realization of the role of the body in therapy and the role that Reich played in introducing the body into psychotherapy. As a result of the current understanding in the working with trauma, where it is increasingly recognized that bringing the body back into psychotherapy is an essential element, along with the greater understanding of neurological structure and neurological development, and the development and recognition of attachment theory, many different kinds of somatic therapies have developed, a few of which are direct descendents from Reich and many are not. Many come from different routes, different origins, and as a result have different slants. As a person who has studied Reich for so many years some of these slants are not in line with that was being proposed by Reich while some seem to be nice additions to the basic frame which Reich outlined. As an aside, one of the things I really love about Reich was that he was continually updating and introducing and integrating new information into his theory even as he maintained the essential elements, central common functioning principles, present in the earliest of his work.  So now we have a lot of new understandings coming from the field of somatic psychology, some of which augment some of the principles that Reich first elucidated.

So now I will briefly introduce what somatic psychology is. Some of what I will say was inspired by a course I have been teaching for a number of years at Lewis and Clark College entitled “Somatic psychology and the art of body-mind psychotherapy”. This is a course for master’s level students in counseling psychology. They come to the course because of their interest in their bodies, their interest in working with trauma, their personal meditation experiences, their work with yoga, their work with movement. They come to this course saying “we don’t hear about this anywhere else in the program, why not?” or “how is this in any way relevant to the field of psychology?”  After this short introductory course to somatic psychology I often hear said “this course has been central in organizing my understanding of psychology, my work, and where I want to move in my life.”  How does this come about?  I believe in part it is in the organization of the course, in the inclusion of experiential exercises that students follow during the week, in a similar way to what Hefferline did with his class when he was teaching gestalt therapy,  that allows this course to be such a profound experience for the participants. Each week students write down in a weekly journal their reactions to these experiential exercises, and then in class, as a group they share their reactions.  Through a combination of personal experience, sharing of their experience, and witnessing of their fellow students’ experiences, in a short time they make contact with more of what is happening in their organism, and they begin to feel major shifts in their understanding of themselves, their emotions, and their experience of themselves and their directions. So in introducing somatic psychology to you today a missing element here will the lack of experiential exercises that allow for one to make contact with the central ideas in somatic psychology as not just as ideas but as ideas grounded in experience and emotion and feeling.  A grounding that is necessary for an understanding of what somatic psychology is truly about. For in somatic psychology there is often the use of the term embodiment, and what that means is the localizing of experience and feeling and sensation and knowledge in one somatic core. These exercises provide a ground for such localization to occur.

Now to define the field of somatic psychology let me back to Wikipedia where it states that:

“Somatic psychology is an interdisciplinary field involving the study of the body, somatic experience, and the embodied self, including therapeutic and holistic approaches to body. The word somatic comes from the ancient Greek root somat (body). The word psychology comes from the ancient Greek psyche (breath, soul hence mind) and -logia (study). Body Psychotherapy is a general branch of this subject.”

Now another way of putting this is that the field of somatic psychology focuses on the complex relationship between our bodies and our minds. Now I want you to notice the language. This language doesn’t totally go along with what Reich was proposing with orgonomic functionalism. For we see that in this language our bodies and our minds are already framed as split. So somatic psychology attempts to bridge that split but in their attempt they are still within it. In general the field of somatic psychology focuses on the complex relationship between our bodies and the many ways that our bodies provide clues to our psychological histories, the emotional responses, and interpersonal relationships. Now that is directly what Reich was talking about. Remember that Reich felt that our history was in our bodies, a history we could see. We could see our character, our defensive structure, and how it molds the way in which we interface with the world and the way we regulate our emotions. Somatic psychology, drawn from Reich, focuses on this relationship.

Now I will give you another quote, and this is from the website of Meridian University, one of the universities that has a somatic psychology graduate studies program.

“As an emerging specialization within clinical psychology, somatic psychology focuses on how embodied experience serves as an important but often neglected source of knowledge and insight into psychological concerns and interpersonal issues.”

So again here we have that same theme stated. Now I will give one more quote which will further demonstrate the breadth of somatic psychology. This one from the website of JFK University.

“From a somatic perspective, life experiences are embodied experiences; breath styles, movement patterns, musculature tensions, cognitive style, emotional expression, and relational patterns are shaped by and express past and present whole-body experiences.”

Coming back to what I do with my classes, I have students get a sense of how crucial it is to understand that all experience is influenced by that what occurs in our body. We may not be aware that our body is in the background. We often don’t know that. In the language of gestalt therapy, it is not figural, it’s not in the forefront. It’s in the background but it’s continually shaping our experience though most of us are not in contact with that. Life experiences are embodied experiences, influenced by and influencing how we breathe and our emotional expression. Every emotion compasses a particular bodily expression and how we breathe shapes our emotions, influences our feelings which then further influence our body. It’s all than one and the same. Cognitive style, emotional expression, relationship patterns – thoughts, feelings, and actions – are shaped by and express our past and present whole body experiences.

(continuing the quote from the JFK website)

“Somatic Psychology incorporates the body into its psychological investigations, considering bodily states of consciousness, postures and gestures, muscular patterns, chronic contractions and tensions, movement range and shapes, ways of breathing, skin and color tones, somatic habits, energetic qualities, use of space, and body pulsations and rhythms as a potential part of the therapy process.”

Now clearly as I read these quotes I imagine that those of you who are familiar with Reich’s work would say that these are all points that Reich has already elaborated upon. And this is the case.

Now let me just briefly do a little exercise with you that I give in my classes to give you a sense of how I try to introduce my class an understanding of the relationship between physical movement, sensation, cognition, and the feeling of emotion, and what it means when we say embodied experience.  Let’s give it a run, give it a try, and see what happens.

So what I like you to do as you’re sitting there is to just imagine a pleasant experience. Just allow yourself just for a moment to imagine a pleasant experience, I’m just going to give you a second for you to anchor that.  That’s a phrase used now, anchor that; everybody got that? As you’re imagining that pleasant experience I am going to ask you to breath in and open up your eyes wide. Breathe in and hold it with eyes wide open, hold it.  Then as you exhale and I would like you to relax your eye and make a little smile. Ok? Ok so go back to your imagined experience, bring it here, and see if you can re-enter that place. Now while you’re in that place, inhale open your eyes wide, keep holding onto that imagined experience… Now exhale lower your eyes make a little smile holding onto that imagined experience. Ok we just went through one round. What did you notice?

Student’s reply: the smile felt forced
Dr. Schiff: What happened with your imagined experience?
Student’s reply: it stayed.
Dr. Schiff: Anybody else? What did you notice?
Student: I had a hard time holding the breath that long. I wanted to exhale.    
Dr. Schiff: Ok and what happened with the imagined experience?
Student: It went away.
Student: I could feel the breathing change and felt relaxation.
Dr. Schiff: When you inhaled or exhaled?
Student: Exhaled.
Dr. Schiff: What happened with the imagined experience?
Student: It stayed there actually. I remembered more of it.
Dr. Schiff: From the inhalation or exhalation?
Student: I don’t remember. 
Dr. Schiff: So in asking these questions I’m modeling what they do a little bit in somatic psychology and what Reich did when he helped his patients focus upon their somatic experiences. Ok somebody else…
(no other responses)

Ok. So one of the things that you can hear is that people experience different things, it’s not uniform. Secondly, there is a relationship between very brief changes in one’s facial expression and breathing and one’s feelings.  For students in my class sometimes this insight is a great “aha” moment. A great “aha” that altering one’s breathing and bodily expression can change or effect so much.  So it’s through these kinds of in-class exercises and others that we begin to introduce to students something that somatic psychology does on a regular basis in its psychotherapeutic approach. What it introduces is how physical experience, heightened physical experience and breathing, influences our emotions, our feelings, our sensations, our cognitions. When many people come in for therapy they’re not aware of that, in fact the introduction of this is new to even therapists.  They’re not aware of it either. So what’s been happening in the body psychotherapy movement, which is part of somatic psychology, is an attempt to bring more and more of these somatic elements into therapy sessions. Now as many of you know, this is not anything new for students of Reich, but it is now beginning to be incorporated in non Reichian based therapies in much more direct way.

Let me generally describe what happens in somatic psychotherapy. Lets say a person comes in to therapy and they’re talking about a certain kind of feeling.   The focus in the session toward the client’s somatic experience then might heightened.  The therapist might ask questions such as, ‘ok as you say that what do you notice in your body?  What do you notice physically in the manner by which you are now speaking to me? If you take a breath right now what happens? Can you feel emotion as you’re speaking?  Where do you feel that emotion in your physical self?  If a client is talking and saying ‘I’m really excited about that’ while at the same time shrugging his or her shoulders, the therapist might say ‘can you pay attention to that shrugging of your shoulders and begin to feel that?  So while describing this process to you, based upon your knowledge of Reich’s work, you probably can see that there are certain central elements of his character analytic – vegetotherapeutic approach that are incorporated into current body psycho-therapeutic approaches, elements that help a person to begin to focus on their somatic experience and in focusing on their somatic experience become more in contact with themselves, their emotional experience, and their relationship with themselves and others.

So I’ll just read you a few more quotes describing somatic psychology.  This is from the website of Meridian University speaking to those people who are looking for graduate programs in somatic psychology.

“Somatic psychotherapists incorporate a skillful attention to breath, gesture, muscle tone, and sensation into the process of psychotherapy.”
The process of helping a client attend to their experience of muscular tension or sensations is similar to very brief interchange I had with you concerning your experience in exercise we did here.  Asking you to notice your experience.

(continuing with quotation)

“By attending to the nonverbal felt experience of the client,” this is another key word – ‘felt experience’ – “ somatic psychotherapists help clients to “get in touch” with important psychological or emotional material that had previously been inaccessible through words alone.”

Here again we see the influence of Reich, who introduced the idea that words alone cannot truly touch our affect.  When we make contact with our affect, our emotions, through our somatic experience then our affect becomes amplified and we begin to have better contact with it.

Central to somatic practice is the emphasis upon focusing on embodied experience in the present moment.  This is another teaching in somatic psychology that came directly from Reich. In therapy the client and therapist focus on what happens, what the client experiences in the present moment.  It could be between the client and therapist as they sit together.  It could be between the client and some other in his world contacted in the session through active imagination. The therapist might ask, “as you’re talking about this what do you feel right at this moment? Or “as you imagine your discussion with that person, what were you experiencing?” Again from Meridian University:

“Focusing on the embodied experience in the present moment also allows somatic psychotherapists to facilitate the expression and integration of material that addresses all aspects of the problem or issues. Aspects that have been embedded in the nervous system, muscle tissue, movement patterns and bodily habits.”

Here again we come back to the central idea that our experience is embedded in our soma, in our totality, which becomes available to us as we begin to attend, as we begin to make it our focus. Through active concentration, something Reich introduced so many years ago, comes a wealth of potential knowledge, a wealth of information that has been cut off from us. This wealth of information allows us then to have more contact of who we are in the world, what we are doing in our relationships, and with the connection between past and present experience.

So briefly that’s the field somatic psychology in a very tiny nutshell. It is highly integrated and comes from many, many different sources.  What we’re going to do today is to look some of Reich’s work and attempt to show what aspects of the field of somatic psychology developed from Reich’s work, which of his ideas were incorporated in somatic psychology, how the field progressed in different routes then did Orgonomy, and what benefit some of these different paths may have in advancing orgonomic science.

Posted in SociologyComments (1)

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