One of Wilhelm Reich’s greatest achievements was his differentiation of core from secondary impulses. He discovered that there were two different types of impulses--one that was natural or core since it is primal, and the other, which was neurotic or secondary since it is a distorted attempt at fulfilling a need. This has such importance for proper therapy that it cannot be overstated.
Reich’s searching into the riddle of health started as a young student of Freud with the amazing world of the unconscious. That the unconscious existed was literally a shattering revelation given to the world, it revealed a part of man that denies himself. Reich followed this path to a deeper level by analyzing his patients’ inability to freely confide in the therapist (resistance); he noticed the way he/she resisted and what he/she was saying. Reich took the “split-second photograph” of the psyche, noticed what he saw, and explored it further on the therapeutic canvas.
Reich was not content with only digging deeper into the negative aspects of the unconscious, he intuitively believed that man was born rational and well mannered. Perhaps the fact that his mother died early, followed by his father’s death a few years later had an influence. Maybe this led him to seek “justice” in an imperfect and unfair world, and find the best in man. Unlike Freud who grew morose and pessimistic with the two world wars and his cancer, Reich always fought for and believed in the possibility of a more humane world. Conceivably, the sole reason for this paradigm might have been that he was just a healthier person, and that was enough reason for questioning the status quo.
The watershed of separating core from secondary feelings was made during Reich’s study of his patients’ sexuality. He followed Freud’s initial theory of the libido in which an orgasmic discharge is required for health (and conversely a damming up leads to stasis-neurosis), and discovered that the only patients who maintained their newfound health (from analysis) were the ones who were able to fully surrender in sex. Unlike the then-popularly accepted understanding of sexuality where all orgasms were the same and of equal value, Reich saw differently. Up till then, analysts did not take into consideration whether sex was pleasurable or not, nor whether there were any inhibition in the act. But Reich learnt that the ones who bragged about their sexual prowess (i.e. multiple partners and orgasms) were as he called them, orgastically impotent, that is they did not discharge fully and were still sick. This is where Reich discovered much to his amazement that there is an impulse that masquerades as health. These patients were narcissistically involved in their sexual exploits and many times did not receive any satisfaction or felt contempt towards the act.
Knowing that there is a rational core where the values of love, work, and knowledge reside is of monumental help for every psychologist, teacher, honest politician, parent and all human beings. But just as important, Reich showed that this core becomes damaged and distorted by an early hostile environment. The organism now behaves irrationally and can be brutal; this fits well with the unconscious hell of Freudianism. So it is not an either-or, or even both good and bad existing side-by-side as in religion, but a healthy person being forced to become neurotic. Neurosis was a monumental discovery of Freud but he accepted this state as a “given” for the necessity of a culture. Reich disagreed, stating that unnecessary repression causes emotional disturbance, which then factually results in cultural chaos. Disorder only develops after repression, which then necessitates a punitive morality. In concurring with Reich’s sexual thesis, Malinowski (The sexual Life of Savages) offered proof for this noble-savage with his ethnographic work.
The core is the guiding post in this confused world, and without this knowledge one just guesses at Life influenced by the latest cultural or political ideology, instead of relying on what one what literally sees and senses inside. Orgone therapy can help remove these blocks to perception.
The level of anxiety has increased dramatically in the last few decades making life challenging for everyone. We can see that society is on the path to deterioration by the doubling of psychotropic users (including the very young), a major spike in violence, the general lack of civility and ethical behavior--all the way from our leaders to the common person, and the non-stop entertainment distractions that are a major part of our economy.
Before the 1960’s, anxiety was more of a “personal matter” that was hidden under the cloak of individual responsibility. It was thought of as a “character weakness” and the person tried to conceal it as much as possible. Additionally and highly significantly, society was relatively stable which helped individuals cope better. Just as individuals have coping mechanisms, so does society—in the form of social defenses (social armor). Some examples of social armor are religion and authority: Religion was followed and not questioned—as was the existence of God, and the nuclear family was the norm with the father in authority, while the mother was in charge of sexual morality.
The mores of the past that have been with humanity for thousands of years under the patriarchal system served to control the child through sexual repression. The authoritarianism of the family was the micro unit of the larger social and political order; like political control over the masses, the parents subjugated their children, which in turn made them obedient workers (see W. Reich, Mass Psychology of Fascism). True, there was repression and lack of freedom, but stability and a predictable world existed (wars and other brutalities were the exceptions, which will be addressed at another time). Additionally, the modern working person had a decent income from a fertile manufacturing, service, and executive economy. This income allowed for an ample home and a made it possible for the mother to exclusively look after the children, further adding to social cohesion.
But the most important anchor for the masses was the family authoritarianism, which brought guidance and order to the unit. The authority of the father was also significant for the major development stage of childhood known as the Oedipus Complex. To refresh ourselves about the Oedipus Complex: this psychosexual stage occurs between four and six years of age where the boy who adores the mother wishes exclusivity to it, while at the same time wanting to eliminate the father who is his rival. According to Sigmund Freud, the child cannot win this battle and must repress his jealousy and fear for the rival and identify with him to achieve sexual maturity. (The Electra Complex is the female version of Oedipus, where the young girl desires the father).
This identification was possible until the middle of the 20th century since the parents were respected and followed, and thus could be role models. But with the breakdown of the authoritarian family and its replacement by the anti-authoritarian one, identification with the same-sex parent is no longer feasible. Because the parent is not respected as someone powerful and knowledgeable, but is challenged and ridiculed, he (she) is psychologically weakened and thus inept at parenting. This leaves the parent with no real authority, and the child responds to the above with anxiety and hatred since he/she needs guidance from their caregivers in a world that is large and ominous. This hatred for the father is transferred to all authority figures in society: the state, the “bad” leader, and the established order. Rebelliousness for its own sake ensues, with the marketing corporations exploiting this unconscious behavior for their own gain.
What has replaced the authoritarian family is one where the parents are overly permissive due to their own anxieties, and thus allow irrational behavior of the child the same freedom as life-positive ones. Under these circumstances, the children are directionless, anxious and thus angry for not being properly understood, all the while acting-out inappropriately.
The child brought up without structure is what we see today: alienated from life-positive values.
The behaviors that originate from the biological core furnish the child with the capacity for healthy creative living (e.g., vital play and work, strong emotional bonds and genitality). Without a positive environment, the core impulses become distorted, and instead there is hyperactivity, disdain for Life and acting out. These negative behaviors emerge from the secondary layer, which binds repressed feelings and the ensuing anxiety, and distorts a natural impulse. Adults are more capable of suppressing these negative feelings than children since they use intellectual rationalizations, medications, compulsive work, and entertainment. All a young child can do to cope with anxiety is to bully a weaker child, emotionally collapse, or make some kind of trouble.
Anxiety is a signal that there is danger and serves to protect the individual, but anxiety that is bio-physically anchored and manifests itself with irrational ideas serves no productive purpose. On the contrary, it is the root cause of all our psychological and psychosomatic symptoms. To the therapist who is somatically (i.e., biological energy) oriented, a new patient who complains of anxiety signifies that their defenses are inadequate allowing their negative feelings to reach the surface. In these clients, their ego strength must be built up first: a) to enable them to function at a higher level, and b) to use their more functional defenses without using overly destructive ones. Only after the client gains ego strength and becomes more stable, can character analytic therapy begin in earnest. Since there is usually an admixture of different defenses and levels of ego rationality in each person, support and dismantling of defenses happen side-by side.
During ongoing therapy, anxiety symptoms have a different etymology, signifying a breakthrough of repressed sensations, which need to be further probed for their forgotten feelings. In an important way, this is a therapeutic improvement for the client since it means the armor is loosening and there is energetic movement occurring. As stated in the opening remarks, the magnitude of social anxiety today is extremely acute which causes the client to suffer even more excessively than in previous eras. Thus, all the more reason to work on a deep biological basis to help overcome this disorder.
Why do we always search for and admire beautiful people? A strong erotic component compels us to consume them either with our skin or via looking. This need seems instinctual in that there is an underlying physiological push that emanates on survival, as the need for ocular pleasure.
Without pleasure, life loses all meaning. The average person feels a physiological change when in the company of a beautiful person—but especially if that person in some form or another acknowledges them. A warmth over the skin, an excitement that can cause sexual arousal, and a sense of general well-being inundates the person. Sounds like a sexual experience in many ways--maybe it reminds us of our FIRST sexual experience. What everyone desires in possessing beauty is a return to the pleasurable early state of pre-natal and peri-natal existence. The fetus was swimming in a warm sea where all its needs were cared for. The first person that the newborn has a deep contact with is the mother, whose face and eyes imprint the child for life. If the mother is warm, loving and breastfeeds, a state of bliss ensues and the infant falls into a fulfilling dream state after nursing; a state that Freud likened to post-orgasmic pleasure.
Beauty must be matched with caring in order to evoke the earlier love symbolism of the mother. If there is any hint of distrust, the desire vanishes, and turns into disappointment, or even contempt (the basis for pornography,) For example, a diva can only excite someone that has masochistic characteristics; most men would eventually be repulsed by the narcissism and dominance. Men would rather choose a beautiful, non-threatening woman who is there for them; without the element of concern, the wish disappears.
Some may object that there are mothers who are unattractive and even "homely”, so how can they be called beautiful? Aside from the fact that pregnant women and new mothers typically glow with life and actually do become “prettier,” her emotional love is the basis of her being beautiful. While it is true that there are homely mothers, too many times it is because of their emotional pain, which twists natural beauty into unsightly shapes.
When a stranger offers someone help without any compensation, we call it a “beautiful act.” When a client transforms her life into one of productivity, it is a beautiful creation. When mother loves her child, there is no one more beautiful than her. These common expressions of language are based on reality; an act of intense love transforms everything into beauty.
Unfortunately, the role models of attraction are becoming increasingly pornographic and pathological due to a general disassociation from deep, core feelings. Coupled with the anti-parent (anti-establishment) character attitude of our society, young people have no base to understand healthy love. They cannot rely of fantasy from the entertainment world, while at the same time do not want to trust their elders. Thus, there is lust without love that satisfies a shallow sensuality, but does not meet our personal need for our own beautiful love.