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.


Mary Lou said...

It's my understanding that marijuana causes ones energy field to become spacey, which is an energetic problem because effective action (including sexuality) requires a firm energy field with good boundaries.
Mary Lou MacIlvaine, PhD
Orgonomist, San Diego

Dr. Schwartzman said...

I do not have experience with the extent to which marijuana affects energy fields. It would be interesting to know if the effect Mary Lou writes of has been captured with Kirlian photography. (Assuming this technique captures the extent of the energy field.) I have a fairly good ability to see auras that are close to the body (some can see them extending out for many feet.) I have noticed a dramatic increase in luminosity and the extent of patients' fields after they experience strong emotional discharges. After such a session they report feeling clearer and more solid and connected in their body.

Ed Malek said...

As Dr. Schwartzman noted, marijuana (like other psychotropic medication) is increasingly consumed due to the high level of social anxiety we are facing. School-aged children quell their anxiety with it since it is touted as a natural “non-drug” alternative and also has the additional fancy of being anti-authoritarian. The other “choice” they face to help them normalize in school is Ritalin, which is astonishingly prescribed to over five million children--some as young as three. Ritalin is an amphetamine closely related to cocaine, wherein the side effects include: developmental damage, and life-long addiction. Choosing between the two, the youth might prefer the “natural” one, although it does not preclude the use of both. Either way, marijuana covers up anxiety and does not solve the problem; it also prevents therapy from succeeding since it distorts perception.

I believe in the long run, drugs destroy self-regulation since we do not rely on our own core impulses to feel what we are interested in, but instead are mechanically depressed/stimulated. This unnatural activity sidesteps the learning that is required to regulate ourselves. In addition, without normal anxiety, we do not learn from our mistakes and failures, which again is a necessary input to understand our environment. Instead, we rely on secondary (destructive) and superficial behavior.

I would also like to suggest two online courses for the future that directly stem from this article. The first, how does medications affect us orgonomically (i.e., pulsation, autonomic system)? With the correct knowledge, we can have a functional idea of what clients might be experiencing in the contexts of therapy; it would also be helpful to know what medication might be of assistance at a particular time.

The second topic has to do with the emotional plague in the political policies of Attorney General Holder. He is the same person who a) threatened to reveal the highly sensitive and potentially embarrassing CIA interrogation photos b) prosecute the CIA for interrogating terrorists c) revive the discredited policy of racial preferences, and now semi-legalize marijuana. His actions point to methods of undermining society.

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.