January 10, 2010

I'm Changing My Name

I've always referred to myself as a medical orgone therapist, and to the treatment approach I employ as medical orgone therapy. But I’ve decided to make a change. From now on I will now be calling myself a psychiatric orgone therapist and calling the work I do psychiatric orgone therapy. 
Why the change? Now that my blog is underway and being read worldwide, I am paying close attention to the way I use terms. For many coming here, this is their first exposure to orgonomy. Others are very familiar with Reich’s work. Regardless, knowing that I am reaching a broad audience, I want to be as clear and accurate as possible in all I present.  
The therapy Reich originated has been referred to in different ways. Reich originally called it vegetotherapy because it is directed toward normalizing the vegetative (autonomic) nervous system. However, he changed the name from vegetotherapy to character-analytic vegetotherapy. This modification combined his specific verbal technique with the somatic aspect of the treatment. With Reich’s discovery of orgone energy, he again changed the name, this time to orgone therapy. This served two purposes: it eliminated “vegetotherapy” (as it sounded too much like like “vegetables” and “vegetate”) and introduced orgone energy as the central element. After that time Reich referred to the treatment as "medical orgone therapy" and as "psychiatric orgone therapy." Since Reich's death, it has been variously called orgone therapy, medical orgonomy, orgonomic therapy, orgonomic biopsychiatic therapy, orgonomic bio-emotional therapy, and psychiatric orgone therapy. These terms have largely been used by psychiatrists. 
On a historical note, Elsworth F. Baker, M.D., in his book Man in the Trap, did not use the word “orgone” except in the preface, to define it, and in the glossary. He elected to call the treatment orgonomic biopsychiatric therapy. Why he chose to do so I do not know, as I never raised the issue with him. He might have avoided the term because of the 1954 Food and Drug Administration court injunction against Reich and Michael Silvert, M.D. This ruling ordered any material that was "misbranded" would be recalled and destroyed. Misbranded material included all books and journals issued by the Orgone Institute Press. The defendants (Reich and Silvert) were “perpetually enjoined and restrained from making statements and representations pertaining to the existence of orgone energy.” Baker (and others) surely understood the meaning of perpetual, and I believe Baker might have chosen to avoid the using the terms “orgone” and “orgone energy” to steer clear of FDA investigation and prosecution of himself and other physicians practicing orgone therapy. 
Reich died in 1957 and Baker’s book was published just ten years later. This was still a time when every physician practicing Reich’s therapy lived under the threat of an FDA investigation for claiming orgone energy existed. As I recall, I think it was in the mid 1970’s, there was talk that there would be an FDA inspection of the offices of physicians practicing orgone therapy. The doctors who had medical DOR-busters and orgone accumulators that were for their personal use only, and not for the treatment of patients, panicked. I know of many, myself included, who destroyed all their “misbranded devices.” For sure, the possibility of yet another attack, in some form, upon physicians practicing psychiatric orgone therapy remains. 
Returning to Baker, his later writings in the Journal of Orgonomy referred to orgone energy. He also used the term "medical orgone therapy." This, too, had been my choice and while there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it, I do find it problematic. Here’s why. It indicates the treatment is “medical,” but what does this really mean? “Medical,” when employed as an adjective, has become so widely and loosely used that it has lost much of its meaning unless employed within a specific context. The word “psychiatric,” because it is specific, is far more descriptive. With this change it is now clear the treatment I render is being performed by a psychiatrist and that emotional problems are its focus. My decision to call myself a psychiatric orgone therapist has good precedent. Reich used it. Morton Herskowitz, D.O., a respected psychiatrist who trained with Reich and still practices today also uses this designation. However, even the phrase "psychiatric orgone therapy" is awkward. There’s that odd word “orgone.” It isn’t common parlance and therefore provides no mental reference for those unfamiliar with Reich and his work. Furthermore, it just sounds strange. This unfamiliarity and strangeness might well cause those seeking help for their emotional problems to abandon further investigation into such a “weird” treatment. 
So, should the word “orgone” be done away with and replaced with some other designation, possibly one that indicates the treatment is energy-based, or that emotional release is involved? I know of practitioners in the field who presently refer to themselves as medical orgone therapists and are seriously considering getting rid of the “orgone” altogether and replacing it with some other more “acceptable” word or phrase. While I see where they are coming from, in my view the word “orgone,” odd as it is, must remain. Reich warned many times that although orgone energy and the function of the orgasm were the center of all his discoveries, these fundamental concepts would be removed in future generations. He said his findings would be appropriated without referring to what he called the “hot potatoes” no one wants to touch. Indeed, many of the spin-off treatments employed by neo-Reichians omit the “orgone” in both word and concept proving Reich was correct.  
To those of my colleagues who are considering taking the “orgone” out, I say that yes, the change may make your services more marketable and might well persuade people to enter into therapy with you. But such a change is made with the goal of personal financial gain. This is wrong and it would be a start down a slippery slope. What next? Will the controversial figure Wilhelm Reich be removed from marketing campaigns and literature geared toward the public? With orgone and Reich removed, as has been done by so many, Reich's therapy will be sanitized. But to do so would be a disservice to Reich’s legacy and the science of orgonomy. It is a risk to retain the word "orgone," as it was in Reich’s day and in Baker’s, but this is a risk I feel obligated to assume.
Wilhelm Reich was a true pioneer who discovered that the life energy, which he chose to call "orgone," was a real force in nature, flowing through all living things and existing in the cosmos. The therapeutic approach he developed involves emotional release and, with it, the removal of "armor"--blockages in the flow of energy. Every therapist practicing the therapy Reich originated owes him a debt of gratitude, a debt that can be repaid by crediting him and referring to his core discoveries, strange words and all.   


Steffen Frey said...

Very clear, i agree totally. I use Medical Orgone Therapy as a umbrella term to describe the totality of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy, which I think is the term to use best, and Biophysical Orgone Therapy, which includes mainly the use of ORAC and DOR- Buster.
Please let us not fall from the orgone theory for marketing reasons. what has to change is the general world view. thanks for pursuing this approach.

dunlapsr said...

Reich was a true pioneer who developed a highly effective treatment developed from his research findings. Using his terminology makes sense and shows respect for him and his important contribution.
When I first heard the word orgone, I was intrigued and interested in looking into this. I would expect others would be as well.

francesco zito said...

I believe your choice is correct in many way, psychiatric because many biophaties are inside the realm of psychiatry, orgone because if you take away this indication, is like to have fear to use a word that do the difference in many realms between Reich and the others. I want bring my personal feeling, when i meet the word orgone my first feeling was like when a child remain wonderful of a new discovery and has the pleasure to enjoy the discovery. After when i read the explanation of Reich, that the word come from orgasm and orgone, my pleasure was more big for two motive: I was adolescent and my feeling of the orgasm was high and orgone like meaning of principle of energy was perfect. So please no fear to use the word Orgone, is a nice word, light and strong in the same time. With reference to the people who don't know Reich, I remember Reich when give suggestion to don't offer the Orgonomy in a silver plate, and to leave to the people the pleasant sacrifice to discover his work and so also the words that he create. If the word orgone, is translated in the bodies of people, like a functional word for orgasm function and existence of a universal energy, this will contribute to a functional brain pulsation to elaborate words and will enter in the total functional pulsation of the body. Why fear this? i enjoy this word...very good dott. Schwartzman enjoy your choice..

energetic psychology said...

Reich changed the name of his therapy to indicate that something has changed - but if someone changes to much, none knows where the difference is.
Now it is clear what "psychiatric orgone therapy" is. But in 2011 the ACO changes the term into "medical orgonomy" and "social orgonomy", so I am confused, what the new concept will be and if the ACO keeps their profile.

This may lead into a scientific problem. Even Reich changed his concepts too often. Today people interested in Reich mixes orgonomic terms with esoteric terms without a change in the meaning. Or find new words like orgone medicine, energetic medicine and mix it with yoga, chi energy etc.

So I think it is important to stay with one term, which is clearly defined.

I use the term "Energetic Psychology" to indicate that I am not trained in the classical orgone therapy and have a different understanding of my psychotherapy which is based on Reichs and Mesmers energy concept.
Many esoteric people have find this term nice and have thought, "oh, lets take this term for our work". So they steal parts of the concept or the name and mix them with stupid techniques.

So you should be lucky to have a nice name like "psychiatric orgone therapy"!

aruhea said...

Reich was a brilliant psychotherapist who made important advances over Freud which indeed the mainstream is desperate to ignore. However, my feeling is that by insisting on the later speculative developments of his thought and on his idiosyncratic terminology, you make this easier to maintain by confining his thought to the ghetto where the mainstream wants it. Reich was a scientist, and we should be scientists too.

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.