July 7, 2014

International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children’s Rights

The 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children’s Rights will be held on July 24-26, 2014 at the University of Colorado in Boulder Colorado, USA.

The conference is being presented by the U.S. groups NoCirc and Intact America, as well as several other European groups. 

With respect to infant circumcision in the U.S. and Israel, what has been an accepted procedure is now being questioned, and the movement against it is now worldwide and growing.

I will lecture on Unconscious cruelty: Exploring the emotions behind genital cutting. The central themes will be Reich’s discovery of the lifelong effects of early infant trauma and the central role the emotional plague plays in continuing this brutal practice. A video will be shown of a patient in a typical orgone therapy session and another of him describing what he experienced when he relived his circumcision in treatment.

My daughter, Rebecca Wald, is a pioneer in the movement to question Jewish circumcision. Her topic, An unlikely activist’s journey Beyond the Bris, will discuss her website, which provides timely news and opinion articles on this topic.  

In a second lecture she and her co-author will talk about their forthcoming book, Celebrating Brit Shalom. The book provides the information needed to enable families to welcome their infant boys into the Jewish religion—without circumcision. There is an active Kickstarter campaign to help fund and promote the completion of the book

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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.