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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Reich. 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.


Ed Malek said...

I found it challenging to take your poll since all the answers were important and correct, and I don't think that there can/should be the "most important".
Even to this day, Reich's work in totality-from therapy to orgone physics-has stood the test of time and numerous doctors and scientists have replicated his findings and are carrying on this work. The problem is that nothing new has emerged (there are exceptions) that can capture the interests of modern man. What are people looking for these days? There are both healthy and unhealthy desires abounding and as an educator, one has to flesh out the core needs from the secondary ones and align with the former. But this is too simple an answer and the correct one might shed some light as to why is it that mankind dismisses Reich. In reading Reich and his journals, we are faced with man’s fear of himself, and I’m not sure how a “new” method of communication will attract the public. All the subjects you posed have their place in the improvement of society, but to be able to implement them on a grand scale is the difficulty. Even the most important one-the prevention of armoring in newborn and infants-needs a willing audience, and this is more possible as individual parents vs. school boards. I think we are essentially up against the hindrances posed by the emotional plague and this has to be fought as best as possible by truth. At the same time, all the workers who carry on Reich’s legacy should continue to teach others that are interested or curious; this is where the internet comes in handy.

kunnukun said...

Hello, I am from Germany, and I have used an 'orgone accumulator' for twenty years.
1)I am sure that whoever tries - and it is a passive kind of trying! -, will experience the ORAC as really effective. What prevents the sciences from doing more research on it is that the most impressive effects are subjective. That means: They are of the kind of effects which are not regarded as 'valid'. And as long as one does not make these experiences he won't be interested in reading what kind of experiments have been made by Reich and others, even in universities (temperature, electroscopic effects, ...).
2) I am really angry about the fact that most Reichians are not aware of the fact that one of the aims of sciences is to substitute any metaphoric usage of linguistic expressions by non metaphoric usage of expressions. They say "energy", "blue energy", and so on, and that's what a scientist MUST avoid - not because he should ignore facts. I know the blue sensations and so called feelings of 'irradiation' inside the ORAC, but such sensations do not mean that "Orgone is blue, ...".
A scientific description should always make a distinction between sensations and what is taken for a cause of sensations. And if you find out that using the ORAC is somehow related to changes in the body during a longer period of time (accompanied by psychiatric methods in the sense of orgone therapy at best) this is really a reason to assume an 'objective' force which is 'accumulated' inside the ORAC.
Instead of dealing with the philosophy of sciences most Reichians have a disposition to some kind of New Age.

Dr. Schwartzman said...

The assertion that orgone energy does not exist is understandable. Only scientific, replicable experimentation can serve to establish its existence. I refer those who are interested to The Einstein Affair which is available from The Wilhelm Reich Museum. This, and many other published experiments, especially in The Journal of Orgonomy, can be performed, often with little equipment. Only those who are justifiably skeptical, can decide if the results will convince them that such an energy does exist.

Anonymous said...

Yes, certainly. And it also depends on the language you use. Even "flowing energy" is a metaphor - most Reichians are not aware of this. It's suitable for the description of sensations and feelings but not for the assumed cause of typically 'orgonotic' feelings.

francesco zito said...

Orgonomy will survive and will do slowly for a simple motive: is not a religion: Mystic and mechanicistic feeling go fast...functional feeling is a ray inside our armor and need time. I think that in 1960 the work of Reich appear like an ideology and , like all the ideologies have followers, but followers create only the cult of orgonomy. We know how many danger is a cult. Now who have done personal orgone therapy know how many difficult is the road to find his natural contact and how many destructive was the religous and mechanic repression of natural sexuality. Actually orgonomy cannot be popular for a simple motive, we live in the second layer of armor, how can be popular a discover who help you to live in the core? But this is what permit to Orgonomy now and in the future to grow slowly but really, because everyone who was in contact wih real orgonomy grow slowly and understand how many difficult is the road. Naturally also me i know many people that in their small and complicate world search to don't miss the occasion to remain in contact with their core. So my suggestion to dr. Scwartzmann is to continue to do what are you doing, discovering how many important has been the work of serious orgonomic organization, and how many people in small scale are searching with the help of orgonomy to come out from emotional disaster. We need more courage, but not you, need more courage the people who enjoy orgonomy to find more connection to create new spaces for orgonomy. We can enjoy for orgonomy, it is not popular , is individual growth and many more healthy individual can create new spaces for less armored children

Tore Næss said...

You could write a book that goes further in debt and detail than Herskowitz and Bakers books on medical orgon therapy. If the knowledge of the treatment dies out, as you suggest it may, at least the book will be there, which is better than that the knowledge disappears all together.

Lloyd Bagwell said...

All the things you mention are really important.

One way to help with prevention though would be for someone to write a book or a load of articles specifically for the youth – designed to help them understand armoring and how best to avoid losing their power and emotional health.
I already knew our species was emotionally sick as a kid; obviously no one wanted to hear it. What I needed was backup – for some adults to validate my own sense for things, explain the underlying processes, and how best to deal with the problem. It would have been priceless.
Obviously its better when parents can understand this stuff, to have them ‘on side’, but many parents and teachers etc are not structurally capable of backing up the health of the youth.
Does that mean that the youth that could handle, understand, and benefit from Reich’s discoveries and the wisdom of the people who’ve worked with orgonomy should just go without; because their parents cant handle it?...

I’m not saying this is THE answer but its one way of dealing with the problem of armoring. By ‘sidestepping’ armoured adults sometimes and talking directly to the youth you can avoid bashing your head against that particular brick wall.
Adults have many vested interests in ignoring orgonomy; primarily they don’t want to have to look at issues that will dredge up their own pain that’s buried under their armor. Children and teenagers have much less invested in the armoured way of life…

Anonymous said...

Now Fukushima: I would be glad to gather some information concerning your personal experiences with ORANUR or DOR in these days; especially from those who have used ORAC's for years. Thanks in advance!
Claus Schlaberg

energetic psychology said...

There are only a few people interested in Reich today. The Cult of "Orgonomie" in Germany is esoteric, so it is more important, that one can see, read and feel, what the ACO do about orgononmy. We need another book on orgontherapy and how you work with clients practically. Even Bakers or Herskowitzs book gives too less answers about the use of characteranalysis, vegetotherapy and orgontherapy in the process work with clients.
The use of the medical Dor-Buster, if one should use it at all, is rarely mentioned.
The themes must go into details, superficial and summarizing desriptions are no longer needed. Every therapist has its own way of understanding and practicing, so we should learn more about different styles.

The orgonomy of today and tomorrow needs your experience. Videos of lectures and therapy settings over a longer period with a view patients would be a great idea!

Maybe some experiments can be shown at video ...

People in the world have to less money to travel to America and learn from you, therefore we need the internet to correspond with each other -

And you should be careful that the ACO will not follow the way of Richard Blasband or Myron Sharaf who opens up to the Berlin/german group and becomes without knowing a part of esoteric orgnonmy cult. We do not need showmasters in Reichs work but authentic information so that people will grow in their personality and give this to their children and friends.

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.