December 11, 2009

Attacking a Tiger: Emotional Plague Roars in Woods Scandal

I have been waiting for a particularly good, widely publicized, example of the emotional plague to begin writing in earnest on the subject. The ongoing events involving professional golfer and fallen media darling Tiger Woods furnishes many components of the plague, making it ideal for introducing this important topic.

The emotional plague may be Wilhelm Reich’s least emphasized and most misunderstood discovery. However, I hold it ranks (next to the discovery of orgone energy itself) as his most important. I say this because the plague permeates every aspect of armored human society and seeks out and destroys healthy ways of living. However, although the plague is ubiquitous, not every aspect of armored man’s conduct is driven by it. The plague is a very specific kind of damaged human functioning that, like the energy itself, can be identified and understood in a scientific way.

The complexity of the emotional plague cannot be overemphasized. No other subject in all of orgonomy can compare. The question I have been wrestling with is how to address the plague both fully and in a way that will be readily grasped by those with differing levels of experience with Reich’s ideas. The blog format isn’t really appropriate to address such an involved topic, and I am developing a complete course on the emotional plague that will eventually be offered on The Wilhelm Reich Center site, located at

Rather than approaching the plague in a textbook-like fashion, using a formal tone and presenting a plethora of orgonomic terms, definitions, and political analyses, the course will illustrate the plague largely through a series of vignettes. These will be relatively brief, graphic descriptions of accounts and episodes that will reveal the plague’s many faces. My goal is to help people of all backgrounds to recognize, understand, and most importantly, deal with the plague, especially when it effects their own lives. Nevertheless, I won’t ever entirely avoid the subject of the emotional plague on my blog, and today examine the Tiger Woods scandal.

Those watching the news over the past weeks could not have missed reports on Mr. Woods. Here are the facts briefly: In the early morning hours of November 27, Mr. Woods drove out of his Florida home, plowed into the hedges, jumped a curb, and smashed into a fire hydrant and then a neighbor’s tree. When police arrived, Mr. Woods was on the ground outside of his SUV. He was rushed to the hospital where he was treated and released. His wife told authorities she had used a golf club to break windows to free him. Highway patrol investigators attempted to interview him but he refused and was ultimately cited with careless driving and paid a small fine.

Instantly, the media was all over the story. There was much speculation as to what had really happened. The tabloid papers said the crash was the result of a quarrel between Mr. Woods and his beautiful young wife because of his extramarital affairs. Indeed, in days that followed the media began reporting on a number of alleged mistresses now coming forward, claiming they’ve had sexual relations with Mr. Woods. The gossip continues and the reports seem to worsen every day.

The emotional plague manifests in countless ways and under the most varied circumstances. The Tiger Woods incident is just one example of an emotional plague attack. My analysis of the assault on Mr. Woods follows, using a method I have devised for dissecting the plague.

In an emotional plague attack there are three key players. These are what I call (1) the target, (2) the direct attacker and (3) the self-righteous followers. The target is typically a single individual, well-defined group, institution, or idea that is the subject or focus of the attack. The direct attacker is the instigator of the attack. The self-righteous followers are two people, or two million, who get caught up in the excitement of the attack and join with the direct attacker, and each other, against the target.

Every emotional plague attack is unique. For this reason the target, direct attacker and self-righteous followers, while present without fail, will always be different. In a plague attack, there may be more than one way to accurately identify the players. For the purpose of analyzing the Tiger Woods incident in this blog, I have chosen to identify the players as follows:

Target:                             Tiger Woods
Direct attacker:                 The Media
Self-righteous followers:     The Public 

Here I have chosen to assign the role of direct attacker to the media as a whole. In other emotional plague attacks, the role of direct attacker can often be assigned to a specific individual. The self-righteous followers in this case are members of the general public who follow the lead of the media, and join in with the media and each other against the Mr. Woods. Included in this group is anyone who is listening with excitement and “genuine concern” to the gossip the media reports. They have become excited by the attacker and feel closely allied with others who have an interest in the scandal.

The direct attacker and followers always believe their opinions and actions are justified. A self-righteous, holier-than-thou feeling is always present in them when they join to tear down and attempt to destroy the target. They feel themselves to be morally superior, and from this elevated position they delight in watching the downfall of one who has been been held in such high esteem. (Note that the self-righteous followers have become infected by the attacker, and each other, hence Reich’s choice of the term “plague.”) The relationship between the direct attacker and the self-righteous followers (and among them) gives the emotional plague its conspiratorial aspect.

Now that the players have been identified, let’s move on to some of the more typical characteristics of an emotional plague attack, and how the Tiger Woods situation illustrates them. One hallmark of a plague attack is that the target, in some way or ways, represents natural, healthy functioning. Here, the target is a handsome and sexually attractive, hardworking, extremely wealthy and enormously successful individual with a beautiful wife. Mr. Woods can be said to be close to representing the American dream, as he embodies a great deal of what is esteemed and valued. However, the target of an emotional plague attack need not have so many admired qualities. Indeed, individuals who become the target of a plague attack will have flaws. It is these flaws that are seized upon to justify and legitimize the attack. That is, the direct attacker and self-righteous followers are correct that there is an imperfection or fault in the target, and it is this "partly right" element that legitimizes the assault.  Mr. Woods’ many outstanding, esteemed qualities have now been overshadowed by his “bad character.” The superior, morally righteous followers can now, with “good” reason, minimize or turn a blind eye to the whole of his tremendous achievements that should continue to be a cause for holding him in high regard.

What’s behind this radical shift in perception and the turning against Mr. Woods? The answer lies in two elements of the emotional plague that are always present: intense longing and hatred. Natural functioning (especially sexual functioning) arouses longing in armored man. The perpetrators of a plague attack immediately and unconsciously feel envy and then hatred. The feeling of enmity, fueled as it is by intense longing and jealousy, can be tremendous, driving the self-righteous relentlessly forward to destroy their victim.

To summarize, further elements in this emotional plague attack are as follows:

Healthy functions being targeted: Sexuality, professional accomplishment, and success.
Stated (legitimizing) reason for the attack: Public deserves the right to know. It's wrong to have affairs.      
Real reason for attack: Jealous hatred for what Woods is, a superstar and pubic darling.      
Partly right element: He has had affairs, behavior that can be destructive in a marriage.  

Most of the essential elements are in place for a full scale emotional plague attack against Tiger Woods and they are being played out before us. Whether Mr. Woods will be destroyed or merely very damaged as a result remains to be seen.

November 30, 2009

Therapy as Wellness & Beyond

As an orgone therapist, some patients come to my office seeking help for the kinds of complaints they would bring to a traditional psychiatrist. These include the gamut of emotional problems, such as anxiety, depression and bi-polar disorder. However, with time these initial complaints are resolved and patients often elect to continue with therapy to feel even better. They remain because they now have a sense of what it’s like to feel really good and, in a way, it becomes a bit like an addiction--they want to feel better and better.

Others come for therapy not because they are experiencing any pressing emotional problem but because they are either in training to become orgone therapists (therapy is part of training) or because they've heard about orgone therapy and want to experience its benefits.

The concept of wellness has become a familiar one today. Most who exercise, practice yoga, meditate, enjoy massage and explore alternative modalities do so because they are seeking ever-better states of feeling, not because they are unwell. They want not only to feel better, but to feel more. With his creation of orgone therapy, Wilhelm Reich was far in advance of his time as he developed not only a method of treating emotional disorders but a natural wellness therapy that can be used to "treat" those who are healthy.

A reason I was drawn to orgone therapy for myself so many years ago is I have always been inclined to actively participate in my health. I have always wanted to feel as good as possible. This propensity also has led me to explore and use many other natural health approaches over the years. I will be writing a little about this here.

My father was a pharmacist and I grew up over our drugstore in Philadelphia. In those days the role of physicians and pharmacists overlapped quite a bit. Pharmacists were often called “doc” and were regularly asked for medical advice, and those who came in for help became our “patients.” Our neighborhood people came in with a wide range of complaints and conditions. My father and then I, while still a high school student, recommended treatments. They included cough syrups, tinctures, powders, poultices, ointments, mustard and belladonna plasters, liniments and other remedies. Some products required compounding and others were sold as prepared “patent medicines.” Humphrey’s Homeopathic Remedy # 1 (for teething) and tincture of arnica (for bruises) were popular and effective. Multivitamins in capsule form or as a tonic were frequently recommended and those who took them regularly usually said they felt better.

Often it appeared the patient did as well with our treatment as with the physician’s. Keep in mind that in those days there were not many effective medications available. When they were used, the drug interactions so common today did not exist, as these are the result of poly-pharmacy, the giving of multiple medications at the same time. This wasn’t regular practice then.

Our patients often reported back what was effective and what wasn’t, and in this way I came to learn what worked. This early experience gave me respect for what might now be called alternative medicine. It also gave me an appreciation the value of not doing much a good deal of the time, and waiting for time and nature’s healing powers to overcome illness.

I went on to study pharmacy, which prepared me well for medicine, better I thought than the regular pre-med liberal arts programs. The courses were all science based and included mathematics; medication calculations; biochemistry; inorganic, organic and physical chemistry; physiology; pharmacology and pharmacognosy. This last is the study of medicinal drugs obtained from plants and other natural sources. Thus my background of growing up in a drugstore and becoming a pharmacist before entering medical school helped point me in the direction of prevention and natural healing.

I began taking a multivitamin about fifty-five years ago and have added, over the years, ever more supplements. I now have an extensive supplement regimen. Much of what I have incorporated is backed by published studies, many conducted in Europe. Given the nature of medical practice here in the States and the profit motive of the pharmaceutical industry, there isn’t the incentive to fund studies of natural remedies that cannot gain FDA approval. So the studies just don’t happen. Some of my regimen has been recommended by my European colleagues and patients, as they are aware of methods of treatment and supplements hardly known here in the United States. Thanks to those through the years who have offered their knowledge and advice!

My usual procedure before adding something new is to wait until I see follow-up research studies. This way I can see if the effectiveness is confirmed and if there are reports of drug interactions or adverse side effects. I now take many pills as well as some powder formulations each day. I also take some anti-aging agents. And there is never a time I look forward to swallowing them! (A carbonated drink out of a bottle will help those with difficulty getting down more than one pill at a time.) Taking so many pills everyday is a discipline, and an expensive one at that.

With all I've taken over the years, it’s reasonable to ask: How do you know your regimen is doing anything? My answer is I don’t. Even if I live well beyond my genetically programmed lifespan, without the illnesses and disabilities that come with aging, I still won’t know. As a case study of one, I will never know which, if any, supplements have been valuable and which have not, or even how they might be interacting. Also, there’s no control for whatever else I do (or don’t) that might account for my overall health.

I do know I continue to feel fine at seventy and appear (so far!) to be in all-around good health, free of arthritis or even any of the aches and pains that many of similar age experience. However, my health has not always been perfect. Medical issues have cropped up from time to time, and for the most part I have addressed them naturally and with success. Heart disease runs in my family and I experienced angina in my forties. This is when I really began to investigate and take supplements. It is decades later, and I am without evidence of heart disease. Without pharmaceutical medications, I have normalized my blood pressure, brought all my blood chemistries (including cholesterol) into normal range and improved kidney function. My vision and hearing are as good as, or even better than, in my youth. I also see an internal medicine physician and other specialists regularly for examination and testing and would never hesitate to undergo traditional treatments. 

Patients sometimes ask me what supplements they should take. There is no one-size-fits-all program so I work with them to help them develop the right plan. As a pharmacist and their psychiatrist, I am in a good position make recommendations, and I do. However, I always remind my patients that traditional medical evaluations and tests should be performed and I ask that reports of those studies be sent to me.

My knowledge of supplements is the product of probably thousands of hours of research over many years. To detail the specifics of what I take, and why, is far too comprehensive a subject for today. Also, what I take is based on my unique biochemistry and health goals and therefore it would be unwise of me to recommend it to anyone in a general sense. However, if there is an interest in what I have to say about supplements, I will write again on this topic with more detail.

There are many sources I turn to in order to learn about supplements. Those interested in doing their own research may wish to consult one source I visit regularly that publishes abstracts of worldwide scientific studies. It is located at:

November 19, 2009


The holidays are here and the TV and stores are starting to bombard us with images of happy, pajama-clad families, sipping cocoa by crackling fireplaces. While this can be a happy time, many are apprehensive about, or even dread, this season.
Several factors can lead to stress and upset. Too often, what we are really feeling is out of sync with what we think, and are told, we should be feeling. This disconnect can lead to disappointment, sadness or even depression.
One situation I encounter in my practice is adult children who feel less than positive about returning home for obligatory holiday events. Reich coined the term “familitis” to describe destructive behavior within families. This is a good opportunity to look at one aspect of this concept in the context of this all too common situation. 
Young children need structure and direction as they grow and learn to become functional members of society. Parents telling their children how they ought behave necessarily occurs in every family. But also, in virtually every family, there is to varying degrees unnecessary or improper control exerted over children's behavior. This unjustified control is always rationalized by the parent as being for the good of the child. However, unconscious motivations are at work. 
Overly anxious parents, because of their own fearfulness, may attempt to restrain their children's natural behavior. Because they can’t tolerate and manage their anxiety, they stop the behavior that’s making them nervous. Other parents simply cannot stand natural, lively behavior. It stirs up in them their own long-repressed feelings. In an attempt to manage these feelings, they exert control over their children and tell them how they must think and act.
Children, who are powerless because of their age and lack of experience, are at the mercy of parents who tell them how they must be. Children have a keen sense of unfair, irrational control and unjustified punishment. When this occurs, they feel frustrated and then angry. If this is a way of life at home the anger turns to hatred. The child is justifiably afraid to stand up to those who rule over him. Rage sometimes bursts through as tantrums and acting out, but mostly it lies buried and turns to chronic resentment.
Children grow up, move out, and finally break free from a life of fear lived under dictatorship. They and their siblings are often scattered around the globe, each thousands of miles away from their parents and each other. This physical distance is not always an accident! Then come the holidays where children, parents and grandparents are brought together under one roof and the stage is set for re-activation of childhood feelings. The daughter who always felt ignored, or the son who always felt criticized, are apt to feel that way again. Strong and deeply held emotions, much of them out of conscious awareness, become the source of discord, arguments and confusion. How did what was supposed to be a happy holiday visit turn, yet again, into a nightmare?
Familitis (an inflammation or disease of the family) is one form of what Reich called the “emotional plague.” The emotional plague is a complex topic that I look forward to addressing fully in time. The expression has been used too often to describe every kind of neurotic behavior when, in actuality, the term refers to a very specific form of social behavior with specific criteria. For now, I will say that the emotional plague is always suspect when an individual who is in a position of authority is attempting to control the behavior of others. For this reason, the family is one place where the emotional plague often occurs.
For those apprehensive about rejoining their families during the holidays, I have a few thoughts to offer for your consideration. First, consider staying at a local hotel instead of your parents’ home. Time away will give you a breather from them and allow you to maintain the feeling that you are independent. Don’t feel guilty about offending mom and dad, although they may well do their best to make you feel you are inconsiderate, citing that they see you so infrequently, etc. If this happens, don’t let it weaken your resolve. Simply saying something like, “I just feel I need my own space to be comfortable,” might work fine. No matter what, don’t give in. Do what you need to to take care of yourself and refuse to be coerced. Keep visits short and manageable. Build in time to enjoy your vacation by yourself or with your kids, away from the folks —perhaps visit a local area of interest, get a massage or go shopping.
Finally, anticipate before your visit that situations will arise to re-activate old, negative feelings. Plan to use these situations as a time to practice keeping your cool by remaining non-defensive and non-reactive. Decide in advance that when your parents begin telling you what you should do, that you will say, something like, “You may be right” or “You have a point there, I’ll have to think about it.” Do this knowing full well that you will do as you see fit. Remember, you are an adult and there is nothing your parents can do to you!
Those of you who do not have to face these situations are truly fortunate—and far too rare. If you are in this lucky position you have much to be thankful for during this holiday season.

November 13, 2009

Seeing Morton Herskowitz

I first met Morton Herskowitz, D.O. in 1962. I was a first year medical student and he was my instructor at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathy (now the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine). He taught the introductory course in psychiatry. The course wasn’t about orgonomy or Reich. I was taken with how clear and solid Dr. Herskowitz was. How everything he said, in so many areas, was right-on. I remember he spoke out against circumcision, something that was remarkable for a medical school instructor in 1962.

Back then, I was reading the core of psychiatry, people like Freud, Jung and Adler. I didn’t know much about Reich. I had heard he was crazy. Then I found out that Dr. Herskowitz was a “Reichian” from upperclassmen. Since I connected with so much of what he was saying, I felt there could well be something to Reich’s work. So I decided to go see Dr. Herskowitz for orgone therapy. I was immediately taken with him as a therapist and with the effects of the treatment. After my first session, I knew then and there that I would become a medical orgone therapist.

It was very good to see Dr. Herskowitz this past Saturday at the fall conference of The Institute for Orgonomic Science, the non-profit group he leads. Thank you to the many following my blog who joined me there. The conference was well attended. By my estimate, there were about a hundred people there. Many were grateful patients or those working in the field of orgonomy in some way. I met and connected with a number of new people, some who had travelled to the conference from as far away as Boston and California.

For me, the highlight of the conference was Dr. Herskowitz speaking about Reich. He gave a brief overview of Reich’s biography and made a number of insightful observations. For example, he remarked that Reich was tutored as a child, and that this one-on-one kind of education is really the very best kind, because it has the capacity to be very much driven by the interests of the child. If the child asks a question, the tutor answers it, and if he doesn’t know the answer, the tutor finds out and comes back the next day and tells the child.

Dr. Herskowitz also spoke about how the gossip about Reich has been a continuation of the first malicious and utterly false article that was written about him in The New Republic in 1947. He said further that, to this day, people only mention a few things when they speak of Reich: that he was born in 1897, that he trained with Freud, that he was a paranoid schizophrenic, and that he died in prison. Virtually no one reads Reich!

Dr. Herskowitz said he never felt in any way that Reich was crazy, but that even if someone has emotional problems this does not negate their discoveries or genius. He mentioned that Issac Newton was a believer in astrology, but this had nothing to do with his discovery of the basic laws of physics. I myself think of the inventor and mechanical engineer, Nikola Tesla, a remarkable genius who was extremely paranoid and died in poverty and alone.

Of course, much more was said by Dr. Herskowitz and the others who spoke at the conference, which was videotaped. At some point in the future, it will be available for purchase. I was honored to have Dr. Herskowitz sign my copy of his book Emotional Armoring: An Introduction to Psychiatric Orgone Therapy, and to have my picture taken with him.

November 6, 2009

Reich's "Followers" and Political Stance

A visitor to The Wilhelm Reich Center recently asked this question: Are all of Reich’s followers politically conservative? The word “followers” has an implication of slavish acquiescence and/or of belonging to a well-defined group. While there are groups devoted to Reich’s work, most people with an interest in him do not belong to any formal organization. That aside, the question posed is interesting and understandable, since some people have written extensively about their interpretation of Reich’s concepts, and maintain what might well be described as a conservative position.

I have known many over the years with differing degrees of interest in Reich and have found them to represent a spectrum of political beliefs. Reich addressed so many different topics—from his concept of orgone energy, to the therapy he pioneered, to the study of mass psychology, and more. Different aspects of his work tend to attract different kinds of people, and for different reasons.

Reich wrote extensively about armored man’s willingness to give up his independence and self-determination and depend on the government or political dictators to tell him what to do and how to live his life. This kind of thinking tends to engage those who consider themselves conservative. Others, who might be called “liberal-minded,” tend to be open to untraditional approaches and new ways of thinking. These individuals may be interested in alternative medicine/therapies, “New Age” ideas and the mind-body connection. The fact that Reich’s thinking tends to “jive” with those of divergent beliefs and interests demonstrates that his core ideas are broader than, and outside the domain of, the politics of left and right.

In addition, Reich drives away those on the left and right of the political spectrum. Those on the left tend not to have an intuitive sense of the biologic energy, and therefore may not connect with his energetic concepts while those on the right DO tend to have that sense, but mystify it and instead may embrace religion. There is much more to say along these lines, but I will save it for another time when it can be addressed in a more complete way.

What did Reich believe? Looking at the totality of his views, I would not describe him as a liberal or conservative but instead as a clear and functional thinker. He was FOR humanity. Period. He was for infants (opposed circumcision), for mother/infant contact, for women, for contraception, for adolescents and felt they should have privacy for sex. He was for the masses, and for decent food and living conditions. He was for the environment. He opposed race-hatred and political extremism of all kinds. In Listen, Little Man! he wrote, of himself: “I am not a Red or a Black or a White or a Yellow. I am not a Christian or a Jew or a Mohammedan, a Mormon, Polygamist, Homosexual, Anarchist or Boxer.” He said, “I want children and adolescents to experience their bodily happiness in love and to enjoy it without danger.” In a discussion with students entitled “The Pharmaceutical Industry and Medical Practice” (1953), available on CD, he spoke out against big business.

Reich wrote and worked during a time of pervasive conservatism. The Sexual Revolution was published for the first time in 1945. (It appeared decades later in the United States in English translation.) In Reich’s time, his ideas would have seemed extremely “liberal” and one could categorize them as such even today.

Reich died in 1957, and shortly before had charged his student Elsworth F. Baker, M.D. with the task of carrying the work in orgonomy forward. Baker, who was about five years younger than Reich and lived until 1985, had the opportunity to live through a very different period in history. Baker was doing his work in orgonomy during the turbulent 1960s and therefore applied Reich’s concepts to a different set of historical realities. There was widespread drug use, sex for its own sake without genuine feelings of love, rioting at Universities and in the streets, and longing for the vague and idealistic notion of “peace.” Many hippie-types were drawn to Reich’s ideas. Conservatism rises up against liberalism and vice-versa. I think Baker, who was my mentor, wanted those who worked in orgonomy to be balanced, as he wanted the world to be, but chose those around him for their conservatism, knowing that liberalism was the danger to be offset at that time.

Reich addressed political radicalism of all kinds, and there is room today for a discussion of politics in light of his thinking. However, it is my belief that other aspects of orgonomy are more important than “politics” and deserve to be the primary focus of attention, specifically the understanding of armor, its prevention in newborns and young children, and its effective treatment in adults. Both Reich and Baker felt armoring was the root cause of all human misery, including destructive politics.

I believe those working in the field of orgonomy can only do so effectively if they, like Reich, avoid political extremism and operate outside the politics of left and right. For this reason, I do not believe there should be a political litmus test for those working/training/studying in orgonomy—so long as those who undertake this work are, for the most part, moderate in their thinking. Those with more liberal views and interests can counter balance those with more conservative ones, and vice-versa.

It is important to distinguish between Reich’s original ideas and the thoughts (and beliefs) of others who have undertook to expand on them. There is no Reich to tell us whether we are on track with the direction we are taking in continuing the work of orgonomy in his name. I urge those new to Reich, and even those very familiar with him, to go back as I do, again and again, to primary source material—what he wrote—to gain the clearest and best understanding of his ideas. Reich wrote extensively and with great clarity of mind and expression. In a future post, I will offer suggestions as to reading materials, for those who are interested.

As an aside, I am planning to attend the conference this Saturday (tomorrow) at the Philadelphia Ethical Society where Dr. Morton Herskowitz will be speaking. (I have posted the specifics on the right side of this page.) I hope those who are following this blog and local to Philadelphia will also attend the event, and I look forward to seeing those of you there who do. Dr. Herskowitz, who is now in his nineties, is the last remaining medical orgone therapist to have trained with Wilhelm Reich. His comments and insights will no doubt prove interesting.

October 30, 2009

Swine Flu: A Pandemic Scare

A few days ago, President Barak Obama declared swine flu to be a national emergency in the United States and medical authorities are recommending vaccination to a large segment of the population. As soon as it becomes widely available, there will be mass inoculations.

While the authorities are urging people to get the vaccine, stating it is safe and effective for nearly everyone over six months of age, people are nevertheless confused—and rightly so. They are afraid to get the shot, and not to get it. Many know (or should) that a myriad of factors drive political action, government decision-making, the drug industry and even medical practice. It isn’t just about YOUR health.

Here’s some of what we know about the swine flu: It is a relatively mild form of flu, as of now. The vast majority of people who contract it will be just fine in a few days, but some will get very sick or even die. It will probably be peaking in November, and those who contract the illness will typically have symptoms that include a fever of 100 degrees or more, a runny nose and general malaise. Unlike the seasonal flu, the swine flu tends to attack the respiratory system in a more vigorous way and it is impacting those under age 24 to a greater extent. If you do have flu-like symptoms, see a doctor. He or she may prescribe antibiotics to ward off a secondary infection. The medication Tamiflu may also be helpful if given early.

I can’t tell you whether to get the vaccine for yourselves or your families. That is a personal decision everyone should make for themselves after diligent research and in light of their own specific health situation, views and goals. What I would like to address here is a different sort of “pandemic” we are falling victim to with some regularity—that of the national or even world-wide scare, coupled with widespread confusion.

Not very long ago, everyone was up in arms about the Y2K computer glitch that supposedly was going to wreck havoc on the entire world at the precise moment of January 1, 2000. Looking back it all seems silly, but at the time people everywhere were taking the “threat” very seriously. Many got rich from the notion that every old computer had to converted to make it Y2K compliant. Often there is a strong money-line at work in a phenomenon that I am calling “the pandemic scare.” Certainly, the drug industry benefits financially from promoting what seems to be a never ending stream of vaccines that are encouraged and sometimes even mandated for all. I often wonder how much they are advocated for their stated health benefits and how much for corporate profit.

There have been many pandemic scares in the U.S. of late, including: anthrax as a biological weapon; melamine-laced food, contaminated toys and other products from China; killer “Africanized” honey bees; bird flu; mad cow disease—and more. What is going on?

Mass psychology is a fascinating area of study, although almost no one studies it. It is one that Wilhelm Reich pioneered, and we can look to his ideas to bring some understanding to the present-day pandemic scares. Reich discovered that people, because of their armoring, have tremendous anxiety and feelings of terror trapped within them. The fear goes back to their earliest of childhood experiences. These pandemic scares, all with at least some aspect of truth, tap into that fear. Some individuals experience outright panic as a result.

Unfortunately, the media with its exaggeration and sensationalistic reporting contributes greatly to the problem. It is the fear in us that drives us to look to “authorities” and not our own resources and good judgment when determining how to proceed in any given situation. What is remarkable is that with orgone therapy, people become less fearful, more self-reliant and more self-sufficient. This happens as locked in emotions comes up and are expressed and released on the couch.

There is another important point. Charles Konia, M.D., of the American College of Orgonomy, points out in his book The Emotional Plague that significant dangers are often minimized or completely ignored on the mass scale, giving rise to pandemic tragedies, such as the Holocaust. More recently, before the Septemeber 11 attacks in the United States, most ignored the impending terrorism with an ostrich-like mentality. A cataclysmic event is taking place in the United States now, right under our noses and with surprisingly little notice or protest: the apparent shift toward a Marxist government. The general ignorance of this real and present danger serves as a contrast to the pandemic scare of the swine flu which has garnered tremendous awareness and attention.

Here is some advice I would offer those who are particularly fearful in the face of pandemic scares, no matter what kind: Don’t passively accept what you are hearing from the media. Do your research and decide what, if anything, you are going to do. Then do it. Turn off the T.V. and radio, shut down the Internet, and close the newspapers when they are not providing real, new and useful information. If you have children or loved ones who depend on you and are frightened, express confidence that everything is going to be alright, even if you are afraid. Let them know you will take care of everything and protect them.

The question is not whether there will be another pandemic scare to sweep this nation or world, or even what the next issue will be to tap into people’s inner terror. The question is whether we, for ourselves and our children, will stand up to our anxiety and fears, live our lives, and make the best decisions we can given the information we have at the time.

October 21, 2009

Marijuana: Why It's Craved

Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. relaxed the guidelines for federal prosecution of medical marijuana sales and use in the 14 states where it is already legal. Although federal laws against marijuana remain, Holder says it will not be a priority to use resources to prosecute patients and their caregivers who are complying with state law. Like all matters that involve social policy, the question of whether and to what degree marijuana should be legal is multifaceted and there is always some truth on each side of every issue. It is this “partly right” that so often causes confusion.

Rather than addressing any of the usual topics of debate, I prefer to focus on one particular question, one that is so often left out the discussion: WHY do people crave the use of such a potent drug? The answer is that people are extremely anxious.

What we know from Wilhelm Reich is that a major cause of this anxiety is lack of a fulfilling sexual life. Reich was not referring here to the opportunity to have intercourse or to its frequency, but rather whether there is periodic discharge of excess biologic energy through full and complete orgasm. Reich maintained this is impossible given the presence of “armor”—chronic muscular contractions in the body that deaden feelings and emotions. Only when armor is removed through therapy can the free flow of energy be restored and with it the potential for a truly satisfying sexual life.

Anxiety is especially high in adolescents and young adults who are at the peak of their sexual drive. With this understanding, it is no surprise that marijuana use is so high among this group. Apart from the sexual aspect, life is difficult, as it has always been, and the pressures of daily life in themselves produce anxiety.

However, anxiety and fearfulness are best reduced by head-on confrontation and by marshaling one’s drive and determination. Life’s problems are gotten the better of through action, not by deadening the anxious feelings through passively retreating into a fog of smoke. This point is crucial: marijuana causes decreased motivation in the face of anxiety when precisely the opposite is required to overcome anxiety and to function in a healthy manner.

From an energetic perspective, marijuana produces an initial energetic excitation, largely confined to the ocular segment which encompasses the brain. The drug brings about an energetic expansion, and with it a feeling of well-being. Brain armor is temporarily loosened and sensation is increased. Perceptions are altered and distorted.

However, expansions are always followed by contractions, and dullness and lethargy follow the high. Marijuana decreases one’s contact with emotions and, at the same time, the ability to connect with the feelings of others also decreases. The individual goes internal. Drive and perseverance–the will to make one’s life better–declines. With the loss of will, necessity loses its imperative force. Those who use marijuana on a regular basis become passive and lose their sense of responsibility for themselves and for society. Reich said that the well-springs of our life are love, work and knowledge, and all are severely compromised with marijuana use.

Apart from this energetic and orgonomic understanding, the dangers of marijuana are many and well-documented in the medical literature, but are often completely denied by those in favor of legalization. To name a few, it lowers testosterone and sperm counts in men and raises testosterone levels in women. It affects the developing fetus and causes developmental problems in children. It has an effect on normal maturation in preadolescent and adolescent users. In those who are vulnerable, hallucinations, delusional thought and full-blown paranoia are not uncommon. It also causes lung damage.

Easing restrictions on marijuana will likely result in more availability and usage generally (not just for “medical” reasons) and my concern is that this powerful and damaging drug will surely find its way more readily to adolescents and young children.

Marijuana, like alcohol and anti-anxiety medications, does relieve inner tension. In this age where these interventions have become accepted ways to deal with the stress of life, anxiety is not withstood. Anxiety should be viewed as something to be conquered, not quelled with drugs.

During the process of orgone therapy, as armor is broken down, anxiety most usually surfaces. What I tell my patients is to withstand what they are feeling and continue to function without resorting to illegal drugs and to avoid prescription anti-anxiety agents, unless absolutely needed. There are orgonomic “first aid” means of handling anxiety. These include exercise (which burns up energy), building muscle mass (which binds energy) and showers turned slowly to all cold. This latter intervention produces a rapid and strong biophysical contraction that reduces anxiety, often dramatically, for hours or even a few days.

October 15, 2009

Circumcision Debate

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics are now considering whether to recommend routine circumcision for all U.S. born male babies to help reduce the spread of HIV. This represents a major blow, and call to action, for all those who have been fighting on behalf of children everywhere to end this damaging practice.

Wilhelm Reich was among the first to speak against the cruelty of circumcision and we can rightly consider him the father of the anti-circumcision movement. In Children of the Future, a collection of his writings published together in 1983, Reich addresses the brutality, rationalization and consequences of the practice. "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 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."

Today's debate over circumcision touches on so many issues--medical, legal, ethical, moral, social, religious, cultural and sexual. But awareness of the most important factor has been almost lost. This is what Reich understood: the lasting psychological and emotional consequences of circumcision. What should be THE primary consideration in deciding whether to circumcise is all but ignored.

Those of us who have patients in orgone therapy and have watched them relive their circumcisions, wide-eyed with terror and shrieking pitifully as they attempt to break loose from the straps holding their limbs down, have no doubt this earliest ordeal has remained alive, locked within them. We, and our patients, also know that their circumcision has had lasting effects because after it has been re-experienced there comes about a definite and lasting sense of relief and well-being.

We are indebted to Wilhelm Reich for his discovery of the armor that binds repressed feelings and emotions. We would not know the importance of the earliest days of life if he had not discovered the existence and function of armor. Unfortunately, making this truth known seems, at times, impossible. Only we therapists, and the patients who have relived their earliest suffering, know that infant misery remains locked within us and has lasting effects. Finally, what is most important, and considered preposterous, is that the earliest traumas cause the most damage. The most critical time in one's life are the first hours, days and weeks. This is the strongest reason not to circumcise. Of course, there are other important reasons for parents to forego the practice, such as the life-long reduction in sexual pleasure that is always a consequence.

One need only look at the tortured newborn's face to know circumcision is wrong and harmful. But why isn't this readily apparent to all? The reason is that most people are so cut off from their own feelings and deepest emotions that they have lost the ability to fully connect, empathetically, with children. It is this loss of contact with self and others that allows parents to so readily accept the recommendations of "authorities," be they medical, religious or social, who tell them circumcision is a good thing. The reasons and rationales for the practice are manifold and ever-changing. Yesterday, it was to prevent masturbation, today to prevent HIV, and tomorrow there will be some other "good reason."

The pain the newborn suffers when his sensitive foreskin is cut off and when the anesthesia (which may or may not be sufficient) wears off hardly enters into anyone's thinking. In the current debate about whether to recommend circumcision, how much thought is given to the suffering from pain and irritation that follows for days?

When an adult experiences pain, such as with an injury or surgical procedure, he has a fully developed ego and comprehends the circumstances. He knows the reason for his pain, understands that it is temporary and can speak about it. Because he can talk about his pain, and because physicians understand well how to manage pain in adults, they are able to provide adequate pain relief. The infant who experiences pain does not know its source, purpose or that it will end. He has no intellectual or ego defenses to help him cope with his pain. All he feels is terror and misery. Doctors know far less about treating pain in neonates and are afraid to do so because of greater risks and complications. So pain management for newborns is minimal, if provided at all. Of course, the newborn cannot help the doctor assess his pain with a verbal description. He cannot complain to those around him, as adults so often do, and feel better knowing his pain is being acknowledged and understood. All he can do is cry and then contract away.

Pain and suffering in the newborn isn't considered important because of the false belief that since physical and emotional traumas in infancy and early childhood are not "remembered," they do not have any lasting effects. This absurd idea has persisted through the ages, despite thousands of scientific studies showing that infant and childhood trauma do cause lifelong emotional and psychological damage.

I encourage those who are reading this and opposed to circumcision to stand up for newborn babies and sign Intact America's petition to stop the CDC from recommending the procedure as a routine health measure. It's easy to do at Then return to this blog, acknowledge that you voted, and comment if you wish.

October 9, 2009

Will Orgonomy Survive?

Many people in the United States were discovering Wilhelm Reich in the 1960s. His work was at the forefront of sweeping changes that seemed to mark the beginning of a new era. His books, especially The Sexual Revolution (published for the first time in English translation in 1963) were being widely read. It seemed people everywhere were onto Reich’s work and it was going to be revolutionary. Those who were part of the early days of the Wilhelm Reich movement can recall lectures at New York University. The conference hall was full and, on occasion, communist protesters tried to shout down the speakers. It was an exciting time. But the reality is that more than 50 years after Reich’s death, the truth about who he was as a man and what he discovered is known to very few. The initial enthusiasm about Reich has faded.

Those of us still involved in orgonomy today continue to feel that the understanding of orgone energy has the potential to do immense good. I am encouraged by the power of the Internet and have noticed that even in the past few months there is more accurate information about Reich than ever before. For example, view the Wikipedia entry on him. It's at Throughout the world, there are interested individuals and small groups familiar with, and even applying, some of Reich’s concepts. Since launching my blog and Web site about two weeks ago, I have received hundreds of hits and have been personally contacted by individuals from as far away as Germany and the UK. Despite this, I fear key aspects of Reich’s work may well disappear.

What is in danger of extinction is Reich’s understanding of the prevention of armoring in newborns and children and the practice of orgone therapy as he conceived it. These fundamental aspects of his work have the power to both prevent and treat emotional illness.

With respect to the prevention of early armoring, few know of its importance or how to accomplish it. The vast majority of people interested in Reich have chosen to focus on on other aspects of his work. As to therapy, just myself and a handful of other medical orgone therapists have the knowledge and experience to carry on Reich’s method of treatment in its original form. I was trained by Elsworth F. Baker, M.D., for eleven years and Dr. Baker trained with Reich for that same length of time. Almost no one today is learning to practice the therapy as Reich conceived and pioneered it. This has led me to wonder if orgonomy—that is, the whole of Reich’s legacy—can survive.

I pose the following questions: What do YOU think is the best way to ensure orgonomy’s survival. Should the focus be on training therapists, attracting patients, replicating Reich’s scientific work, or something else? What, if anything, could make people evaluate Reich’s work on its merits and stop dismissing his claim of a universal “orgone” energy as supernatural nonsense? The future of orgonomy depends on concerned individuals coming together and at least trying to answer some of these BIG questions. I look forward to seeing your responses to the new poll and to your comments.

October 4, 2009

Anatomy Knowledge by Orgone Therapists in Perspective

I would like to thank Ed Malek for his recent comment, which I found insightful on many levels. Among other things, he addressed the need for non-physicians who endeavor to work on body armor to have a functional education of anatomy, not merely an academic one. I agree and would even go so far as to say that I do not believe thorough knowledge of anatomy is necessary. In truth, I doubt whether many physician orgone therapists working on areas of armor know the origin and insertion of the muscles they are pressing on, or even their anatomical position relevant to adjacent structures. These are the kind of mechanical facts that are typically memorized for the purpose of test-taking, but soon forgotten.

Anatomical dissection, in the training of physicians, certainly gives one an appreciation of the body’s construction, but there are countless body-workers worldwide who work with precision, bring about positive effects, and do not cause harm. I am sure very few have had the experience of a complete anatomy education or cadaver dissection.

One advantage physicians do have is they are comfortable touching and examining a patient. My training as an osteopathic physician has been a special plus in this regard, as medical physicians have not had the hands-on experience of manipulation that was integrated into my schooling. It is important to note that virtually all biophysical (or bio-psychiatric) work is confined to the head and neck (ocular, oral and cervical segments) and a sufficient knowledge of the structures in these areas (as well as a few other regions) would be adequate anatomy education for non-physicians.

While physical work on armoring requires some knowledge of anatomy, it also requires a therapist’s aptitude for working on the body, and a great deal of experience. I am aware that I may be understating all of what’s needed in this area of training, but I do so in order to de-emphasize this aspect of orgone therapy, one that I believe receives too much emphasis in such discussions.

The issue is not that a comprehensive knowledge of anatomy is needed, but rather when to work biophysically, where to work, and precisely how to work. As we know, no two people are identical, and I am sure I never worked in exactly the very same way, even on the same person. Individuals change week to week and every session brings about some reorganization. As this is so, what is said or done must be tailored to how an individual is at that moment.

What has received far too little attention in the discussion of orgone therapy is the breakdown of armor through character analysis. If I could only work biophysically or with a verbal approach (fortunately, I do not have to make this choice) I would certainly choose the latter. The right words, in the right tone, can produce emotional reactions that no amount of work on the body can—and the release of long buried feelings and emotions, and the relief that comes with their discharge, is frequently greater and longer lasting than can ever occur with just physical force applied armored areas.

A great deal must come together for any therapist to successfully treat patients with this powerful treatment, but I feel qualified students, be they physicians or not, can learn this skill and art. They need to be of good character, to want to be the best they can be, and to remain dedicated to Reich’s principles.

October 2, 2009

Boston Globe Gets it Right

Major kudos to Jane Roy Brown and The Wilhelm Reich Museum! For those who have not yet read it, on September 6, a beautifully written and—get this—a factually accurate story about the museum and Dr. Reich appeared in the Boston Globe’s travel section. Entitled, “Idyllic Grounds Belie Tussle Over Founder’s Research,” the article goes into significant (albeit brief) detail about Reich’s major discoveries and struggles with the FDA.

The fact that Ms. Brown got it right is short of amazing, considering how often the media has wrongly portrayed Reich’s life and legacy. It was no accident. Apparently, having been burned by the press many times, the Museum now maintains a strict policy for the print media. Among other requirements, writers requesting the museum’s participation must sign an agreement guaranteeing that it be allowed to fact check work before publication, at the same time recognizing that writers and editors always have the right to correct factual errors (or not) prior to publication. What a smart procedure. From a legal standpoint, this sets the museum up to effectively challenge libel. From a practical standpoint, it means writers are much more likely to get the story correct. The obvious benefit is that the public is treated to the truth, something that has, in the past, been exceptionally rare.

I strongly urge that anyone speaking to the press about Reich review the museum’s policy and implement a similar version themselves. Of course, Globe correspondent Brown deserves much praise. She avoided taking even one cheap shot—remarkable! The link to her story is and the link to the museum’s policy for print media is

September 29, 2009

Should PhDs be Therapists?

There has been a long-standing dictum among many therapists who are classically trained in Wilhelm Reich’s method of treatment that only physicians should practice this therapy. Reich was a medical doctor and felt medical training was a prerequisite, which is why he called his treatment approach “medical orgone therapy.” For most of my career, as a physician and medical orgone therapist, I agreed. However, my thinking has changed.

In the “old days” psychiatrists did mostly verbal therapy. Until the advent of psychotropic drugs in the early 1960s (Valium was marketed in 1963 and Prozac in 1987) medications were reserved for severe psychiatric illness, such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. Psychiatrists treated anxiety and depression with some form of psychotherapy, and they were reimbursed for it. Today, medications are viewed as the “only way to go” for the full range of emotional problems. Today’s psychiatrists are trained almost exclusively in psychopharmacology and they have hardly any training in verbal approaches. And, most significantly, the way that insurance companies reimburse psychiatrists does not allow for multiple extended visits. If some discussion of one’s emotions and situation is deemed appropriate, patients are referred to a clinical social worker other mental health care provider. The bottom line is today’s psychiatrists don’t learn a verbal approach and don’t want to, because there is no money in it.

As a result, it is unreasonable to continue to hold that only medical or osteopathic doctors should be trained to practice orgone therapy. In the best of all possible worlds, this would be the case but in the real world this is an ideal that is unrealistic. The sad truth is that the therapy, as Reich practiced it, is rapidly on its way to extinction. And it will become extinct, unless there is room for other disciplines to train and treat in field. In my view, Ph.d. psychologists are the natural choice when considering who should be trained. They are psychologically oriented and have had many years of training in the methods of psychotherapy. They are actively seeking innovative sub-specialties. I feel many would possess the potential to excel and would be eager to begin training in this field.

Because there is direct body-work involved in the therapy, psychologists who train would have to have knowledge of anatomy. And, of course, they must always refer any physical complaints that might arise during the course of therapy to the patient’s primary care physician.

So I pose the following questions for consideration and debate: Is it best to hold to the strict standard, knowing that the therapy as Reich practiced it will most likely disappear? Could a qualified Ph.d. psychologist be a competent orgone therapist? If not, why not? How best to attract psychologists? Should practitioners in other disciplines be trained as orgone therapists and, if so, which disciplines? I am eager to hear and discuss all views on this topic. Join the discussion and post your comments!

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.