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 http://www.boston.com/travel/explorene/maine/articles/2009/09/06/idyllic_grounds_belie_tussle_over_founders_research/ and the link to the museum’s policy for print media is http://www.wilhelmreichmuseum.org/07_04_update.html#print.

1 comment:

Ed Malek said...

First, I would like to thank you for this new site and blog. It is refreshing, has openness and hopefully will continue to be exciting.

I would like to respond to the question you posed about “ orgonomic lay analysis”. Ever since the start of modern psychiatry-which was founded by physicians-there have been non-medical practitioners using psychoanalysis; they also had the overt approval of Sigmund Freud (The Question of Lay Analysis). So, it is not so much a question of “only physicians”, but of who are best qualified.

While it is true that a physician has had many years of training in anatomy which makes this the perfect groundwork for bio-psychiatric work, I don’t think it precludes others from understanding the body with proper training. This includes one's restructuring with the capacity for fluid emotions and their containment, and an open pelvis to be able to sustain deep contact with the client. If such a future candidate has shown intelligence, a strong desire to help others by psychotherapy, and is approved by a training orgonomist, these attributes are adequate to allow one to practice orgone therapy.

I would hope one day, that there will be a governing orgonomic body composed of various institutions (that can work out all their differences regarding minimum requirements for students), that will create a study course for schools or institutions to follow. I also think that it would be important to train non-physicians in these “future schools” in anatomy as it relates to orgone therapy. Even though doctors have had anatomy lessons and the actual practice of working on bodies, they were taught in a mechanistic way leaving out the functionalism. So, in effect, the doctors have had to re-learn anatomy as it applies to orgone therapy. Functional biologist or physicians can do this training, and it would definitely shorten the amount of time necessary for a bio-psychiatric understanding of the organism.

Not every patient wishes to see a psychiatrist, nor does every psychology student want to be a psychiatrist. I think a post-graduate degree student has at the minimum shown an interest and maturity in the discipline. Even the American College of Orgonomy-which only trains specialized physicians-includes a few PhD’s on their staff, and perhaps they too realize the possibility of medical orgone therapy disappearing without inclusion of others in their field.

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.