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The Function of the Orgasm: Sex-Economic Problems of Biological Energy (The Discovery of the Orgone, Vol. 1) Paperback – May 1, 1986
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About the Author
Wilhelm Reich, a native of Austria, was born in 1897. His many other works include Listen, Little Man!, Character Analysis, and The Mass Psychology of Fascism. He died in 1957.
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He wrote in the Preface to the Second Edition of this book, "The Discovery of the orgone was the result of the consistent, clinical application of the concept of 'psychic energy,' initially in the field of psychiatry. The present volume can be considered an extensive introduction to the newly opened field of orgone biophysics." (Pg. ix)
He begins by saying, "Sex-economy became an independent discipline, having its own methods of research and its own body of knowledge. It is a natural-scientific, empirically founded theory of sexuality... The present volume is more a relation of facts and events than it is a textbook. A systematic presentation of the material could not have shown the reader how, in the course of these twenty years, problems and solutions followed one upon the other... It is not false modesty when I say that I feel myself to be merely the instrument of this logic." (Pg. 3-4)
He summarizes the theory: "Psychic health depends upon orgastic potency, i.e., upon the degree to which one can surrender to and experience the climax of excitation in the natural sexual act... Psychic illnesses are the consequences of the sexual chaos of society... Antisocial actions are the expression of secondary drives. These drives are produced by the suppression of natural life, and they are at variance with natural sexuality. People who are brought up with a negative attitude toward life and sex acquire a pleasure anxiety, which is physiologically anchored in chronic muscular spasms. This neurotic pleasure anxiety is the basis on which life-negating, dictator-producing views of life are reproduced by the people themselves... Since the emergence of patriarchy, the natural pleasure of work and activity has been replaced by compulsive duty... The structuring of masses of people to be blindly obedient to authority is brought about not by natural parental love, but by the autonomous family... The immediate cause of many devastating diseases can be traced to the fact that man is the sole species which does not fulfill the natural law of sexuality." (Pg. 6-9)
Of his early analytical work, he states, "After we had been working for two years of so, it became clear that individual psychotherapy has a very limited significance. Only a fraction of the emotionally ill patients could receive treatment. And hundreds of hours of work with those who were treated were lost in fruitless efforts because of the unsolved therapeutic problems pertaining to technique. One's efforts were rewarded in a small percentage of cases only. Psychoanalysis never made any secret about the wretchedness of actual practice." (Pg. 75) Later, he admits, "I would remind the reader that I came to Freud from sexology." (Pg. 88)
He asserts, "Since the life process and the sexual process are one and the same, it goes without saying that sexual, vegetative energy is active in everything that lives." (Pg. 116) He explains, "I have now been practicing the technique of vegetotherapy for six years with students and patients and can see that it provides great advantages for the treatment of character neuroses... A number of physicians and teachers have already learned to use character-analytic vegetotherapy." (Pg. 329) He adds, "The emergence and coming into focus of somatic vegetative impulses is no doubt the strangest phenomenon we encounter in vegetotherapy. It is very difficult to describe; it has to be clinically experienced." (Pg. 353)
He explains, "It was demonstrated that the sun emits an energy which influences rubber and cotton in the same manner in which it influences the bion culture and the human organism after full respiration in a vegetatively undisturbed state. I called this energy, which is capable of changing organic matter, orgone... For the past five years, the investigation of the bion has absorbed all available attention. The 'bions' are microscopic vesicles charged with orgone energy; they are developed from inorganic matter through heating and swelling. They propagate like bacteria... Orgone energy is also demonstrable visually, thermically, and electoscopically, in the soil, the atmosphere, and in plant and physical organisms." (Pg. 383-384)
Reich's work is always controversial. But this book is considered to be one of his "key" works, so anyone seriously studying his ideas should read it.
As far as the generalized theory of mind (psyche) and body (soma), I must quote the following to show his insight:
"The sensation of integrity is connected with the sensation of having an immediate contact with the world. The unification of the orgasm reflex also restores the sensations of depth and seriousness. The patients remember the time in their early childhood when the unity of their body sensation was not disturbed. Seized with emotion, they tell of the time as children when they felt at one with nature, with everything that surrounded them, of the time they felt 'alive,' and how finally all this had been shattered by their education. In the disruption of the unity of body feeling by sexual suppression, and in the continual longing to re-establish contact with oneself, and with the world, lies the root of all sex-negating religions. 'God' is the mysticized idea of the vegetative harmony between self and nature. From this viewpoint, religion can be reconciled with natural science only if God personifies the natural laws and man is included in the natural process." Good stuff.
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- this is just one approach to psychoanalysis.Read more