August 22, 2010

Corporal Punishment in Schools

I received a note from a blog follower who read my recent post on exerting parental authority. She asked my views on the matter of corporal punishment in schools. This issue gained national attention this summer when congressional representative Carolyn McCarthy introduced in Congress the “Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act.” It seeks to ban corporal punishment in public and private schools that receive federal funding or services. 
My view is that corporal punishment in all schools should be banned. The role of schools is to educate children and to reinforce the good social behavior that children should be learning at home. Students unacceptable behavior in school, verbal or physical, should first, of course, be dealt with by counseling and other measures. All such actions should involve the parents. If this fails to bring about the necessary changes in behavior, schools should exert their authority with steps that escalate, including suspension and finally expulsion. 
It is the duty and responsibility of parents to control their children’s egregious behavior, not an organization acting in their stead. As I noted in my previous blog, Reich tells us that neurotic behavior forces authoritarian measures. When parents fail to exert such control, the burden shifts to school personnel putting them in the role of disciplinarian.  
If a minor has committed a criminal act, it should be addressed through the juvenile justice system. Terroristic threats, just as assaults, whether they are made by children or adults, in or out of school, are crimes and should be dealt with as such. 
Children in school who conduct themselves appropriately, as well their teachers, have the right to live without fear and be protected from verbal or physical assault. For this reason, educators should have recourse to send children to special schools if they will not, or cannot, control their behavior. 
As for the parents of a child who refuses all efforts at control, they must look to themselves to see what they did or did not do that has brought the situation to such a sorry state. Unfortunately, many children in the school system do not have parents who are capable of such insight. Children are not born a “bad seed.” They become disobedient because their upbringing was not what it should have been.  
Reich states in Children of the Future that “all disciplinary measures are due to helplessness and ignorance of how to proceed rationally.” (Emphasis in original.) Corporal punishment in schools, as well as at home, is yet another example of the consequences of armoring, which affects the individual, the family, and all institutions of society. So long as the focus remains on what to do as a result of improper parenting, we will forever be hacking at the branches rather than going to the root of the problem--man’s armored state.

1 comment:

Thomas Wind said...

As a child psychiatrist, I could not agree with you more.
Dr. Wind
Media, PA

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.