April 9, 2019

Where is the Truth About Milk?


Nat Farbman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Guest Blog By JOSEPH R. HECKMAN

Readers of Wilhelm Reich’s book, The Cancer Biopathy, (pages 63-64) may recall that Reich examined many fluids fluorophotometrically as an indicator of their “orgonotic potency,” i.e., their energetic charge.  On a scale of 1 to 100, distilled water was set at 1. When comparing milks on this scale, pasteurized had a value of 55 and milk that was not pasteurized had a value of 100+. Among all fluids, milk that was not pasteurized measured well above all others. Except for reporting of this data in a table, Reich did not discuss the specific findings as related to milk. But it is not unreasonable to assume that, concerned as he was with natural energy, he valued highly charged foods. As an interesting side note, Reich’s son Peter wrote a book entitled A Brief History of Milk (published at Smashwords) in which he recalls drinking Certified Milk — unpasteurized milk produced under supervision of a Medical Milk Commission.

In 2006 in response to increasing public interest, I began organizing educational programs that dealt with local, natural, and organic foods. These presentations evolved into a series of seminars focused on raw milk and the need for informed consumer choice. I had also wanted to address the concerns of New Jersey dairy farmers who wanted to be able to legally market fresh unprocessed milk. In New Jersey it is illegal to distribute raw milk, which is not the case in most other states as well as most countries in Europe. 

Once this raw milk educational program was announced, I soon found myself at the center of a huge controversy. To deepen my understanding of the subject matter in question, I conducted an extensive literature search to uncover the scientific, legal, political, and historical facts concerning fresh unprocessed milk. I wanted to be able to thoroughly address the opposition to my outreach program and do so with documentation. My literature search turned up a number of essential facts that must be understood regarding raw milk.  

First, there are two kinds of raw milk: raw commodity milk intended for processing and fresh unprocessed raw drinking milk for human consumption. Commodity milk is mass-produced — with the understanding that it will be pasteurized. Raw drinking milk is produced for those who want their milk fresh—not processed. Unpasteurized drinking milk requires a much higher standard of production. In some respects “raw milk” is an unsatisfactory term but it is a commonly used term. Although rather long and wordy, we sometimes instead refer to it as Whole Fresh Unprocessed Milk.  

With freedom comes responsibility. The careful production of fresh milk is carried out chiefly by dedicated dairy farmers who are proud of their product. However, unscrupulous producers can provide unsanitary milk to the public, putting both the customer and the fresh unprocessed dairy business at risk. To remedy this situation, several non-government organizations have, in a self-regulated way, stepped forward to provide education and training on how to provide careful production practices. Rather than banning access to fresh, unprocessed milk — too often the first impulse of government officials — this type of coordinated oversight is incumbent upon the producers. However, in its absence, there may be a legitimate role for government to inspect and regulate its production.
        
Secondly, it is widely assumed that no illnesses or deaths are ever linked to pasteurized milk. This is not surprising since the proponents of mandatory pasteurization imply that this treatment of milk guarantees its safety. However, the food safety record for pasteurized milk clearly shows otherwise. Here are just a couple of notable examples documented in JAMA: In 1985 a massive outbreak of salmonellosis traced to pasteurized milk resulted in over 168,000 illnesses and in 2007, Listeria from pasteurized milk was linked to three deaths.

Thirdly, roughly 12 million people in the US population drink unpasteurized milk regularly and on average less than 150 illnesses per year are associated with its consumption. A recent study of the frequency of outbreaks associated with unpasteurized milk has declined significantly since 2010.  This seems remarkable since during that same period legal distribution and the number of consumers have both been steadily increasing. This particular study concluded that, “Controlling for growth in population and consumption, the outbreak rate has effectively decreased by 74% since 2005.” The study suggests that the improving food safety record is the result of expanding safety training for raw milk dairy producers.

Fourth, dietary health benefits can only come from foods that people choose to eat. Among the many reasons people give for choosing to drink fresh unprocessed milk, taste ranks highest. This fact may partly account for the steady decline in market demand for highly processed pasteurized milk over the last 40 years.

Fifth, in my search and review of the scientific literature (1917 to present) comparing the health benefits of unpasteurized versus pasteurized milk, I found over twenty studies providing evidence for health benefits uniquely associated with unpasteurized milk.  Some of the evidence comes from studies with unpasteurized human breast milk. In instances where the mother cannot breast feed, hospitals nearly always recommend pasteurization of the donor milk even though the research shows that babies have better health outcomes from being fed unpasteurized breast milk. Recent studies with bovine milk, mostly from research conducted in Europe, finds increasing evidence that drinking unpasteurized milk provides protection from allergies, asthma, and respiratory infections.

For context, it is useful to know that leafy greens — and not raw milk — are at the top of the list of most risky foods. Education and training programs are now being offered to vegetable producers to address this concern. When the Food Safety Modernization Act became law, it was assumed that this new FDA authority would lessen the number of outbreaks, yet numerous illness and deaths continue to be linked to eating leafy greens.  In a November 2018 FDA press announcement Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. released this statement: “Earlier this year, we experienced the largest E. coli O157:H7 outbreak the country has seen in the last decade, leaving hundreds sick and claiming the lives of five people who consumed contaminated romaine lettuce.” Outbreaks like this raise an interesting question: why despite having the highest safety risk of any food, has no one called for a prohibition against eating raw leafy greens or any other food for that matter? 

No other fresh food has been singled out and is so disparaged as fluid raw milk. The irrational behavior of regulatory agencies towards raw milk dairy farmers is recorded in several excellent documentary films: Farmagedon, Organic Hero or Bioterrorist, and Milk War.  

Since there is no way to guarantee the safety of any food, one is compelled to ask, why are government agencies like the CDC and FDA so strongly opposed to the consumption of raw milk? Why does it elicit such strong emotional reactions? The reasons remain obscure, but could it be that “natural, unprocessed milk” brings with it sexual connotations, particularly as it relates to human breast milk? Or possibly the reason lies in raw milk being a highly charged “alive” food?

Ten years ago, after attending one of a series of lectures I hosted at Rutgers University, Richard Schwartzman, D.O. wrote a blog post entitled Government vs. Raw Milk. In that post he suggested that irrational opposition and legal challenges that producers and customers of fresh unprocessed milk are met with may be explained by what Wilhelm Reich called the Emotional Plague. To have an understanding and appreciation for the nature of the emotional plague, the reader should read not only Dr. Schwartzman’s post which summarizes it, but should also become familiar with Reich’s original writings on the subject. They can be found in the following five books: The Emotional Plague of Mankind Vol 1 (The Murder of Christ) and Vol 2 (People in Trouble); The Function of the Orgasm; Character Analysis; and Listen Little Man

Taken together, these facts suggest the opposition to the sale of raw milk and the public’s freedom to choose what they wish to consume is in reality driven by the emotional plague. As Dr. Schwartzman said in his blog post, the emotional plague is “a force that drives authorities to exert control over the lives of others for their own good.… Those suffering with the plague cannot tolerate actions that don’t conform to their rigid ways of thinking.” 

Beneath the stated motive that these individuals act purely for the benefit of others there is always an unconscious intolerance of natural functioning. Reich believed that fighting back against the emotional plague was central to establishing greater health and wellbeing among people. To be effective in this battle one must stand up for the truth and have the courage to expose the falsehoods used by the emotional plague.   

My academic research and teaching about raw milk has since evolved into a scholarly article based on this experience. Published as an open access journal article, I reference and briefly discuss Dr. Schwartzman’s blog post titled Government vs. Raw Milk. My article, available on the web, is published in Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, Cambridge University Press: Securing Fresh Food from Fertile Soil, Challenges to the Organic and Raw Milk Movements.


Joseph Heckman, Ph.D. Professor of Soil Science, Rutgers University, teaches courses in Soil Fertility, Organic Crop Production, and Graduate Student Seminar. He conducts research and extension programs on optimizing nutrition and soil quality in support of plant, animal, and human health. Dr. Heckman has authored numerous publications on soil fertility and organic farming. He was the lead author of a chapter on Soil Fertility in Organic Farming published by the American Society Agronomy. He is co-author of the books Fresh Milk Production, The Cow Edition and Fresh Milk Production, The Goat Edition.  Most recently he published a review and analysis of the raw milk movement: Securing Fresh Food from Fertile Soil, Challenges to the Organic and Raw Milk Movements

Related works:




January 30, 2017

Summer Conference at Orgonon



This summer, from July 10-14, the Wilhelm Reich Museum is offering a unique program, "The Voice of Wilhelm Reich," which offers an opportunity to participate in a conference with Reich himself. 

Reich recorded a series of lectures and meetings with his students between 1949 and 1955. Now "The Voice of Wilhelm Reich" will present five of those audio tapes for study and discussion. Topics include: The importance of Method in Scientific Research and Reich's Discovery of the Armor; Reich Speaks of Freud; Problems of a New Medicine; The Oranur Experiment; and Man’s Roots in Nature.

The tapes will be introduced by science historian James Strick, Ph.D., author of Wilhelm Reich, Biologist (Harvard U. Press, 2015). Programs will take place during the morning hours and there will be special evening activities. Afternoons will be free so that participants can vacation in the beautiful Rangeley Lakes Region in the Western Mountains of Maine.

October 22, 2016

Preserving or Improving on Wilhelm Reich's Work?


I was recently asked by a prospective student of orgone therapy if the Institute of Orgonomic Science (IOS) has as its mission to preserve Wilhelm Reich’s work or to build upon it. For those who are not aware, the IOS was founded in the early 1980s and I've been an honorary member of this organization for some years.


This is such an important issue for any organization dedicated to the study of Wilhelm Reich’s findings, and especially for those that train orgone therapists.


Orgonomy is the study of what Reich termed "orgone energy"—the life energy he scientifically proved to exist. He found it first in living things, then later in the atmosphere, and finally theorized that it extended through the cosmos. Reich felt his discovery of orgone energy was his principal finding and all his other work flowed from this.


An analogy can be made to Max Planck, the father of quantum theory, whose work led to the development of the laser, transistor, MRI, and so much more. Just as the field of quantum mechanics has grown and developed over time, and will continue to do so, its foundation, quantum theory, remains essentially unchanged.


Here is where the question of whether an organization is—or should be—preserving Reich's work or building upon it has relevancy. The theory governing the practice of orgone therapy needs no modification. The central element of treatment is the removal of the body’s chronic muscular contractions that Reich called “armor.” This process re-establishes the free flow of the body’s energy and moves patients forward to living a more natural, satisfying life.


Methods to make orgone therapy more effective are welcomed, and certainly needed, but they should only be in the service of advancing the therapy more quickly to its goal and end point as outlined by Reich.


There is a line between preserving and furthering Reich’s work—and distorting it. This is the challenge. It's been my experience that those groups that will preserve and further his findings have as their focus a rigorous study of the body of his work. This includes the scientific experiments that test the validity of his observations and his assertion that the effects of orgone energy are real and measurable.


May 10, 2016

Fundraising Continues for Film on Wilhelm Reich

In November of 2014, I alerted blog followers to a documentary film that is in the works about the life and work of Wilhelm Reich. More than $180,000 was raised on Kickstarter and production went forward. The film is now ready to go into the editing and post-production phase and another fundraiser is underway. Please consider supporting this groundbreaking film

March 12, 2016

Summer Conference on Wilhelm Reich's Research

The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust will sponsor a very valuable course on Reich’s origin of life and cancer research. Lectures and hands-on laboratory work will allow students to gain an understanding of some Reich’s most important discoveries. 

The conference will be held at Orgonon in Rangeley, Maine July 11-15, 2016.  Early registration is advised. 

For more information visit WilhelmReichTrust.Org

September 8, 2015

New Book on Wilhelm Reich Could Be The Game-Changer

Wilhelm Reich, Biologist (Harvard University Press, 2015) by James E. Strick is an extremely important book because it has the potential to overturn a number of fundamental beliefs in science. One of these, that is set in stone and if refuted will prove a bombshell, is that life must develop from preexisting life. Reich certainly appears to have proved this age-old maxim false. Exactly how he conducted his groundbreaking experiments—almost 80 years ago—can now be found in this book.

Drawing upon archival material never before available, Strick has provided documentation that confirms Reich was a serious scientist. Material taken from unpublished laboratory notebooks and published reports show his research was conducted with meticulous care. 

Working with living matter rather than with dead preparations that had been fixed and stained, Reich was able to produce microscopic vesicles that were non-living, yet capable of replication in culture media. This, according to classical scientific theory, is impossible. If these experiments can be duplicated—and this should not be too difficult as Reich’s methods are clearly set forth in Professor Strick’s book—the implications are staggering! 

These “bions” as Reich called them were not just transitional life forms. More importantly, they appeared to be involved in health and disease. This finding has opened the way to an entirely new understanding of why people become ill, or remain well. 

Later, taking it even a step further, Reich was able to record with time-lapse filming that dying autumnal moss could lead to the natural organization of life as protozoa. Life from non-life! From this he hypothesized that cancer cells might form in a like manner from dying animal tissue that had disintegrated into bions. 

Wilhelm Reich, Biologist calls into question other accepted tenets of biology and medicine, too many to cite here. We can only hope this new publication will interest researchers worldwide and stimulate their curiosity. What remarkable benefits might come from examining health and illness from this different perspective remains to be seen. Now, those wishing to test Reich’s findings need only familiarize themselves with his concepts and then exactly follow the straightforward steps outlined for each experiment.

James Strick has done a masterful job in presenting the development of Reich’s research in a most engaging way. He has deftly interwoven science with history and set both against a backdrop of what Reich was to experience all his life—the reactions of the established “experts” who refused to examine findings they “knew” to be wrong. 

Wilhelm Reich, Biologist is so well written that readers may not realize they are absorbed in a scholarly book about a scientific revolution. Rather, to their surprise and enjoyment, they may think they are involved in a fascinating mystery novel, and are eager to find out how the plot unfolds.

For more information, visit the book's website

August 26, 2015

Annals of the Institute for Orgonomic Science


Volume 12, No. 1, (2014)

The latest issue this valuable journal is now available. It is dedicated to the science of orgonomy and the work of Wilhelm Reich, M.D. Since 1984 it has been providing information to the public on topics related to all aspects of the science of orgonomy.

This volume of the Annals of the Institute for Orgonomic Science is reasonably priced and available online.

This issue includes the following five articles and one major book review:

Contents:

•  Toward a Scientific Study of the Healthy Child: The Orgonomic Infant Research Center (1948-1951)

Philip W. Bennett, Ph.D. reviews the background,   development, promise, and achievements of this   research project on infant and child development that   was initiated by Reich and his professional colleagues.   He also describes the factors that ultimately led to the   project’s demise.

  The Relevance of Wilhelm Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism to the Struggle Against Fascism, a Project Shared by Herbert Marcuse

David Brahinsky, Ph.D. describes significant parallels between the social visions of both men, while also detailing the potential significance of Reich’s later discoveries for achieving these goals; discoveries which were, however, dismissed by Marcuse.
   • Orgone Therapy: Functional Method, Creative Art, and Open Questions

Dorothea Fuckert, M.D. describes marked changes in the nature of armoring and character structure in her patient population in recent decades, and the modifications of therapeutic technique that she has introduced to address the needs of her patients.
  •  Emotional First Aid: Applications of Orgone Therapy in a General Medical Practice

Drawing on clinical vignettes from her medical training and from her long-term private medical practice in rural Maine, Eva Reich, M.D. movingly describes her therapeutic use of expression of repressed emotion in patients presenting with acute somatic symptoms.
  •  Addressing Disturbances in Contact in the Beginning Phases of Orgone Therapy

Daniel J. Schiff, Ph.D. employs a case study to illustrate the essential role of contact in the early phases of therapeutic process, describing a pivotal session in which the client was encouraged to maintain contact with emerging emotion in his eyes by means of focused awareness and direct expression of feelings toward a distinct object.
   •  Adventures in Defamation

Morton Herskowitz, D.O. provides a detailed review of journalist Christopher Turner’s recent book Adventures in the Orgasmatron, and its historical antecedents in the distortion and misrepresentation of Wilhelm Reich and his work.
     In Memoriam

Memorial tributes to two late founders of the Institute for Orgonomic Science, Courtney F. Baker, M.D and Louisa Lance, M.D.

Communications and Notes:
Recent lectures and publications by members of the Institute

Announcements of forthcoming conferences and educational programs involving members of the Institute

Listings and / or brief descriptions of recent orgonomy – related books

An announcement of the Training Program in Orgonomic Therapy offered by the Institute

Manuscript preparation instructions for papers submitted to the Annals

March 6, 2015

Upcoming Orgonomy Conference: University of Pennsylvania


On Saturday, April 11, 2015, a one day conference titled "Science, Love, and Society: An Introduction to Orgonomy, the Work of Wilhelm Reich" will be held at the University of Pennsylvania. 

The conference is being sponsored by the Institute of Orgonomic Science (IOS). These conferences for the public are rare, and it's an excellent opportunity to learn more about Wilhelm Reich and his legacy. I will be attending the conference and look forward to meeting friends old and new.

Location

249 S 36th St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104 – Claudia Cohen Hall, room G17

Cost

$40, students $15. No one will be turned away due to financial hardship. Early registrants receive a discount. For more information, map to the location, pre-payment option, etc., click here

Schedule:

9:30 AM – 10:00 AM: Registration

10:00 AM – 10:30 AM: Welcoming: An introduction to the IOS, the speakers, the format of the day.

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM: Who was Wilhelm Reich and what is Orgonomy? An Overview.

(Presenter: Harry Lewis, Ed.D, LCSW)

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM: What is Psychiatric Orgone Therapy?

(Presenter: Hugh Brenner, MSN, CRNP)

12:30 AM – 1:30 PM: Lunch Break (on own)

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM: Wilhelm Reich’s Social and Political Insights.

(Presenter: Philip W. Bennett, PhD)

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM: Orgone Energy: Theoretical and Practical Implications.

(Presenter: Kevin Hinchey, MFA)

3:30 PM – 3:45 PM: Break

3:45 PM – 4:15 PM: Round table discussion with presenters: Current and past misrepresentations of Reich’s life and work and its influence on the current teaching of orgonomy.
4:15 PM – 4:30 PM: Closing

Presenters:

Philip W. Bennett, PhD: Philip W. Bennett has a PhD in philosophy from New York University. He has published a number of articles about aspects of Reich’s life, including recent ones in The International Journal of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalysis and History. He has lectured about Reich here in Philadelphia, in New York City, at the Reich Museum center in Maine, and in Germany, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Mexico, and most recently in Finland. When not traveling and lecturing, he continues to work on his book, From Communism to Work Democracy: the Development of Wilhelm Reich’s Social and Political Thought.

Hugh Brenner, MSN, CRNP: Hugh Brenner was born into the Orgonomic Infant Research Center. He started Nursing School in 1980 and spent over 15 years working in various psychiatric settings. In 1994 he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing with a MSN in Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing and soon started a private practice, combining traditional psychiatric modalities with psychiatric orgone therapy. In 2010 he graduated from Rutgers University with a post-graduate certificate as a Family Nurse Practitioner. He holds three Board Certifications. He has been involved in The Institute for Orgonomic Science for 15 years and is the current President.

Morton Herskowitz, DO: Dr. Morton Herskowitz, DO, graduated Temple University in with a BA in 1938. He attained his D.O. from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1943. After his internship at Harbor Hospital in Brooklyn, NY he worked as a General Practitioner for 3 years. In 1945 he began formal supervision in psychiatry. He began his personal therapy and training with Wilhelm Reich, MD in 1947, continuing until Dr. Reich imprisonment. Board Certified in Psychiatry, Dr. Herskowitz has been practicing psychiatric orgone therapy for more than 60 years. Currently he has a practice consistent with his age and energy. He is the author of the book Emotional Armoring: An Introduction to Psychiatric Orgone Therapy.

Kevin Hinchey, MFA: Since 2002, Kevin Hinchey has been one of the directors of the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust which administers Reich’s archives at the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University; works with New York publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux to publish Reich’s books; and operates the Wilhelm Reich Museum in Rangeley, Maine. He has an M.F.A. in Film from the New York University Graduate Film School and over the past ten years has been a film professor in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Mr. Hinchey is now involved in the production of a full-length documentary on the life and work of Wilhelm Reich with location filming and on-camera interviews in the United States and Europe.


Harry Lewis, Ed.D, LCSW: Harry Lewis is an orgone therapist in private practice and the co-director of The Institute for the Study of the Work of Wilhelm Reich. He has been a member of the faculty at the New School for Social Research for the past twenty-six years.

November 27, 2014

A Discussion of Children, Circumcision and Trauma

The following interview was conducted after my presentation at the 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children’s Rights, held at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, Colorado July 24-26, 2014. James Loewen, the filmmaker, has been documenting intactivist issues since 1993.


November 2, 2014

Wilhelm Reich Film Project

A documentary film on the life and work of Wilhelm Reich is planned for production under the auspices of the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust Fund. Kevin Hinchey, who is its co-director, has written the storyline and will head up the project.

Mr. Hinchey may be the only person who has had full access to Reich’s closely held archives that are stored in the medical school library at Harvard University. Because of this the film will present facts, not theories about Reich and his scientific work. It will also set the record straight by dispelling the many myths that have been repeated through the years—the falsehoods that have painted Reich and his work in a bad light. 
Should this film become a reality and have wide distribution, it will go far to make people aware of a remarkable man who for too long has been an unappreciated genius whose discoveries could benefit all humankind. It would also be a stimulus for scientists worldwide to undertake a fair examination of Reich’s work.

A Kickstarter campaign is underway to fund the production of the film. As of this writing, there are 19 days left to fund the project. Below is the Kickstarter video. The full campaign can be accessed by clicking the "K" on the upper left corner of the video box. 

September 5, 2014

Exploring the Emotions Behind Genital Cutting

62 years ago, in 1952, Wilhelm Reich said, “Take that poor penis. Take a knife—right? And start cutting. And everybody says, “It doesn’t hurt.” Everybody says, “No, it doesn’t hurt.” Get it? That’s an excuse, of course, a subterfuge. They say that the sheaths of the nerve are not yet developed. Therefore, the sensation in the nerves is not yet developed. Therefore, the child doesn’t feel a thing. Now, that’s murder! Circumcision is one of the worst treatments of children. And what happens to them? You just look at them. They can’t talk to you. They just cry. What they do is shrink. They contract, get away into the inside, away from that ugly world.”
Reich lived from 1897 to 1957. He was an Austrian physician who was a pioneering psychoanalyst and considered one of Freud’s best students. However, over time, he became disappointed with the results that could be achieved with Freud’s method of free association. This prompted him to develop a very different framework for understanding people and emotions.
I am a board-certified psychiatrist and for more than 40 years have been using the unique and very effective treatment that Reich created. I also train psychologists and other psychiatrists to practice this therapy. It’s very different from any other treatment for emotional disorders that you may have heard of.  And even if you have heard of Wilhelm Reich, or have some knowledge of the therapy that he pioneered, his method of treatment is often misunderstood and, unfortunately, misrepresented. It makes use of a verbal interchange that’s different from other methods of psychotherapy. It seeks to make the patient aware of the particular manner in which they approach the world. Reich called it “character analysis.” The treatment also allows the release emotions, primarily sadness and anger, in a controlled way, in the safety of the therapist’s office.
Reich discovered that emotional traumas are not forgotten, even when they occur very early in life and remain out of conscious awareness. Physical pain is traumatic for everyone, but for an infant or young child, the shock to their system can be terrible. This is the reason why Reich, although Jewish, spoke out so vehemently against circumcision.
Just how it is that events from the distant past can be locked away somewhere in the body remains a mystery. Nevertheless, the traumas of childhood, if severe enough, are never forgotten. They stay stuck in us—in our “armor” as Reich called it—and exert their damaging effect throughout life. This fact, that the past is not forgotten, is virtually unknown. Early childhood traumas, not chemical imbalances, are the root cause of lifelong dissatisfaction and unhappiness, as well as many severe emotional disorders, including schizophrenia.
Now what is very interesting and remarkable (and in fact this still amazes me, as it did Reich) is, in the course of this therapy, patients may actually re-experience their earliest traumas. I have seen men re-live their circumcision, with all the pain and terror they suffered. In a few minutes I am going to play a clip of one of my patients speaking about his experience when he re-lived his circumcision during therapy. I had him filmed for this conference.  
But first, I am going to show you a clip of him on the therapy couch during the course of a typical session. This clip comes from a documentary film that was made some years ago. What you are going to see may be a bit shocking, but please know that Bob has always left every session much relieved and in fine shape.




As this clip showed, the past remains alive. Now as for circumcision, it is so extremely harmful because it occurs so early in life. The younger the child, the less are the defense mechanisms to deal with pain. As an adult, or even an older child, we have the sum of our intellect and our experiences to put shocking events in some context and perspective.
The next clip I am going to play shows Bob telling about re-living his circumcision. This was just filmed.



So now I want to turn to a different subject, and the topic of my talk, which is the unconscious cruelty that drives humans to circumcise newborns and children.
All of us here today understand that cutting the genitals of children is not just unnecessary—-but barbaric—-and there’s not a single, rational argument to support it. However, because there are so many sides to the issue, people can’t see circumcision for what it really is. They are confused because of the social and cultural factors, the demands of religion, the medical justifications—and so on. But I’d like to touch on one aspect that is almost never considered— the forces that drive people and institutions to support this practice.
Can any sense be made of what it is that impels people to brutally cut the genitals of defenseless newborns and young children, male and female alike? For the answer to this question I again look to the work of Wilhelm Reich. One of his most important contributions is his exposition of what he termed the “emotional plague.” It’s a very complex subject and I will try to do it a bit of justice in the next few minutes. But if any audience can grasp this concept, I think this one will.
Reich maintained that within our society, and in fact in all patriarchal societies, there are certain individuals that he called emotional plague characters. These people have very specific characteristics and ways of behaving. They are intelligent, extremely competent, aggressive, and endowed with a high energy level. And they are very good at getting themselves into positions of authority and power so they can tell others what to do for their own good.
Emotional plague characters, big and small, have existed throughout history. They are not just the Hitlers and Stalins, but also the petty tyrant school teachers who terrorizes the children in their class; the religious leaders, who mandate right and proper behavior; the supervisors everywhere that keep those under them in constant fear; the heads of organizations that put into effect policies that restrict personal freedom, and so on.
The emotional plague is not just confined to individuals but also becomes institutionalized. This can be seen in many of our law-making bodies that, more and more, dictate how we should live, again, for our own good.
The reasons behind this behavior are too complex to go into here, but what can be said is that plague characters, because of the particular way they were raised, are disturbed and very angry people. But they are unaware of their anger. They are not like the average neurotic who suffers quietly to themselves. In fact, they don’t suffer much at all because they act out their anger, which is unconscious, on the social scene. This is not something they choose to do. They are driven to act this way. And they really believe they are doing the right thing.
Seeing others who are lively, happy, and enjoying themselves creates in them not pleasure, as it would with a healthy person, but jealousy and resentment. These feelings are so intense that the only way they can stop them is by going out into the world and stopping people from having pleasure. This is what makes these individuals feel better.
What makes the emotional plague so effective, and so dangerous, is that their arguments are extremely well rationalized and always “partly right.” We can see with regard to circumcision how this “partly right” confuses: Maybe my boy should look like the other boys. Maybe, as a Jew, I should have my son circumcised. Maybe the doctors are right that my boy could get infections. It’s the partly right that confuses, and prevents us from seeing what’s right in front of our eyes.
Because the emotional plague hates pleasure in others, and seeks to stamp it out, children, who by their very nature are lively, happy people are a prime target. So is natural sexuality. Circumcision targets both children and natural sexuality.
So what can be done? Reich said the only way to combat the emotional plague is to expose it. This doesn’t mean pointing fingers and calling people “plague characters.” It means exposing the work of the plague to the truth. Consistently making people aware of the lies that allow this practice to continue.
Also, to keep our focus on educating the public and the upcoming generation of doctors and others who will re-shape existing policies. We have truth on our side, and the children of the future will be the beneficiaries of our efforts.

This lecture was presented at the 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children’s Rights, held at the University of Colorado in Boulder on July 24-26, 2014. The conference provided a forum for discussion about the genital alteration of infants and children from religious, medical, human rights, and other perspectives. Speakers from around the world reported on the approaches they have taken, and the progress that has been made, for protecting male, female, and intersex children from medically unnecessary genital alteration.


July 7, 2014

International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children’s Rights

The 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children’s Rights will be held on July 24-26, 2014 at the University of Colorado in Boulder Colorado, USA.

The conference is being presented by the U.S. groups NoCirc and Intact America, as well as several other European groups. 

With respect to infant circumcision in the U.S. and Israel, what has been an accepted procedure is now being questioned, and the movement against it is now worldwide and growing.

I will lecture on Unconscious cruelty: Exploring the emotions behind genital cutting. The central themes will be Reich’s discovery of the lifelong effects of early infant trauma and the central role the emotional plague plays in continuing this brutal practice. A video will be shown of a patient in a typical orgone therapy session and another of him describing what he experienced when he relived his circumcision in treatment.

My daughter, Rebecca Wald, is a pioneer in the movement to question Jewish circumcision. Her topic, An unlikely activist’s journey Beyond the Bris, will discuss her website, which provides timely news and opinion articles on this topic.  

In a second lecture she and her co-author will talk about their forthcoming book, Celebrating Brit Shalom. The book provides the information needed to enable families to welcome their infant boys into the Jewish religion—without circumcision. There is an active Kickstarter campaign to help fund and promote the completion of the book



Psychiatric Orgone Therapy

One of Wilhelm Reich’s most important and lasting contributions is a unique treatment for emotional disorders called psychiatric orgone therapy. Reich began as a psychoanalyst and was a member of Freud’s inner circle, but moved away from Freud’s method of free association when he developed a more effective verbal approach he called character analysis. Later he came to recognize the existence of a specific biologic energy in living organisms that he called “orgone,” which was coined from the word “organism.” With this discovery Reich was able to combine his verbal method with a technique that could normalize a person’s energy. The result was an entirely new approach to treating emotional disorders that he named orgone therapy.

Reich’s work with patients convinced him the disturbance in an individual’s energy state is caused by contractions in the body, especially in the musculature. He called these contractions “armor,” and established that they begin to develop in infancy as a way to block out emotionally painful events.

Past traumatic experiences are locked in the body--and they remain throughout life. How this happens is not fully understood, but there is no question that anxiety, anger and sadness, as well as the other upsetting feelings and emotions from childhood are not forgotten. Armor not only holds the disturbing past, causing it to remain alive but out of consciousness awareness, but it also affects how one feels and functions. Because living a natural healthy life depends upon whether a person’s energy flows freely or is blocked, the aim of psychiatric orgone therapy is to free up energy by breaking down armor. As these areas of holding dissolve, patients release their long buried feelings and emotions in the safety of the therapist’s office. They most usually surface spontaneously with the specific method Reich innovated, without the need of urging or any intervention on the part of the treating psychiatrist. However, occasionally, pressure needs to be applied to spastic muscles, or other techniques used to normalize the body. Because this treatment combines a verbal approach with a physical technique, it addresses both the mind and the body to bring about profound changes in how one thinks, feels and functions.

Today almost all people seeking treatment from a psychiatrist are given medications to reduce their symptoms. However, with psychiatric orgone therapy it is usual that patients, over time, find themselves able to wean themselves off medication and function without pharmacologic treatment. Reich’s therapy is unique in that it not only relieves distressing symptoms, but also does much more. It enables individuals to expand and feel pleasure, and better enjoy the many satisfactions life has to offer.

There are people who claim to practice some form of “Reichian” or “orgone” therapy, even though they have had no formal training in medicine or psychology. Often the techniques used by these self-proclaimed therapists have little or nothing to do with the very specific methods Reich developed and taught. The value of such therapies is questionable and may even harm those who get involved in them.

Qualified psychiatric orgone therapists have extensive training. They are physicians who have gone on to specialize in psychiatry and then in the very unique subspecialty of orgone therapy. They practice in much the same way as Reich did more than a half century ago. Ph.D. Psychologists who have had proper training can practice a form of orgone therapy safely and effectively. However, it is crucial they have supervision by a qualified psychiatric orgone therapist.