Wilhelm Reich

Cover of "The Murder of Christ (The Emoti...

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Remarks about the video

Man’s Right To Know Part 1 of 3

I’ve read most of Wilhelm Reich‘s work that’s in print and consider him a world-class philosopher, psychoanalyst, and experimental psychologist. He was at one time one of Freud’s star pupils and he did some of the first lab research on sex and libido.

Wikipedia (Wilhelm Reich) says: “Reich’s Character Analysis was a major step in the development of what today is called ego psychology. In Reich’s view, a person’s entire character, not only individual symptoms, could be looked at and treated as a neurotic phenomenon. The book also introduced his theory of body armoring. Reich argued that unreleased psycho-sexual energy could produce actual physical blocks within muscles and organs, and that these blocks act as a body armor preventing the release of the energy. An orgasm was one way to break through the armor. These ideas developed into a general theory of the importance of a healthy sex life to overall well-being, a theory compatible with Freud’s views. His idea was that the orgasm was not simply a device to aid procreation, but was the body’s emotional energy regulator. The better the orgasm, the more energy was released, meaning that less was available to create neurotic states. Reich called the ability to release sufficient energy during orgasm “orgastic potency,” something that very few individuals could achieve, he argued, because of society’s sexual oppression. A man or woman without orgastic potency was in a constant state of tension, developing a body armor to keep it in. The outer rigidity and inner anxiety is the state of neurosis, leading to hate, sadism, greed, fascism and antisemitism.[23]”

While some technical details of Reich’s work on Character Analysis are somewhat dated and/or idiosyncratic, he was a great pioneer of this line of psychology. In fact, many of his ideas are still waiting to get the attention and further research I think they deserve.

I part ways with him on “Orgone energy”, however. Much of the sexual/biological energy Reich observed is in fact neurochemically produced and conducted. Orgone theory is largely superfluous. Many of his speculations were not irrational (being based on an electromagnetism-like metaphor before the discovery of neurochemistry) but neither were they borne out. In fact, Reich was far ahead of contemporaries such as Freud and Jung with his emphasis on physiology and on empirical, scientific experimentation. He was simply too early for the lab technology he needed. Some of his questions about biological energy are still unanswered and deserve to be researched today. He was a genius who got over-excited about a particular line of inquiry and his reach exceeded his grasp.

On the other hand, his “Mass Psychology of Fascism” deserves to be read by every psychologist, social/political scientist, and all students of human nature and the human condition. His studies of authoritarianism and sexual repression and metaphors such as “the emotional plague” and “the murder of christ” have enormous utility in understanding how authoritarian pathology is transmitted from one generation to the next.

The video (part 1 of 3) doesn’t seem to make any distinction between the value of his psychological work and his Orgone obsession. I have not viewed the other two parts.

Poor Richard

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