2015-12-27T18:26:13

Selected Writings from Wilhelm Reich

Here are my notes from book Selected Writings: An Introduction to Orgonomy from Wilhelm Reich

  • p38 Among the hundreds of patients (with psychic disturbance) I observed and treated within a few years, there was not one woman who did not suffer from a complete absence of vaginal orgasm.
  • p42 … misinterpret the human longing for happiness and overlook the human fear of happiness.
  • p43 Orgastic potency is the capacity for surrender to the flow of biological energy without any inhibition, the capacity for complete discharge of all dammed-up sexual excitation though involuntary pleasurable contractions of the body.
  • p57 However, the dynamics of the analytic affect do not depend on the contents but on the resistances which the patient puts up against them and on the emotional experience in overcoming them.
  • p62 …, the character represents the specific way of being of an individual, an expression of his total past.
  • p63 Since the neurotic character, in its economic function of a protecting armor, meas established a certain equilibrium, albeit a neurotic one, the analysis presents a danger to this equilibrium.
  • p66 What is specific of the character resistance is not what the patient says or does, but how he talks and acts, not what he gives away in a dream but how he censors, distorts, etc.
  • p87 Most patients have a very slight tendency to look at their character objectively. This is understandable because it is a matter of loosening the narcissistic protection mechanism, the freeing of the anxiety which is bound up in it.
  • p95 The difficulty consists in bringing out the aggressivity.
  • p98 For one must realize that the character-analytic destruction of the characterological compensation temporarily creates a condition which equals a breakdown of the personality.
  • p103 There is a sharp conflict between natural demands and certain social institutions. Caught as he is in this conflict, man gives in more or less to one side of the other; he makes compromises which are bound to fail; he escapes into illness or death; or he rebels-senselessly and fruitlessly-against the existing order. In this struggle, human structure is molded.
  • p106 The masochist's provoking to punishment became clear an expression of the deep wish to be brought to gratification against his own will.
  • p108 Suffering and wanting to suffer are the results of having lost the organic capacity for pleasure.
  • p115 Only one thing was clear: the experience of pleasure, that is, of expansion, is inseparably linked up with living functioning.
  • p118 Sexuality and anxiety are one and the same process of excitation, only in opposite direction.
  • p120 I found that, whenever I dissolved a muscular inhibition or tension, on of the three basic biological excitations made its appearance: anxiety, anger or sexual excitation.
  • p122 The loosening of the rigid muscular attitudes resulted in peculiar somatic sensations: involuntary trembling, jerking of muscles, sensations of hot and cold, itching, crawling, princkling sensations, goose flesh, and the somatic perception of anxiety, anger and pleasure.
  • p148 The living expresses itself in movements, in "expressive movements." …
  • p148 The literal meaning of "emotion" is "moving out," which is the same as "expressive movement."
  • p149 Music is wordless. Nevertheless, it is an expression of movement and creates in the listener the expression of being "moved." The wordlessness of music is generally considered either a sign of mystical spirituality or of deepest emotion incapable of being expressed in words.
  • p149 If one lets the patient talk at random, one will find that the talking leads away from the problems, that it obscures them in one way or another.
  • p150 These examples may suffice to show that word language very often also functions as a defense: the word language obscures the expressive language of the biological core. In many cases this goes so far that the words no longer express anything and the word language is no longer anything but a meaningless activity of the respective muscles.
  • p155 At the moment of the orgasm, the organism "gives itself over" completely to its organ sensations and involuntary pulsations. Therefore, the motion of the orgasm reflex inevitably contains the expression of "giving."
  • p155 It would, of course, be useless to preach the patient "to give," because he is incapable of doing so. If he were not, he would not need our help.
  • p163 The crying expression may change into a hateful grin. It is an expression of desperation, of utter frustration. This is an illustration of the following general fact: as soon as the expression of giving meets armor blocks, so that it cannot freely develop, it changes into destructive rage.
  • p163 If the gag reflex develops fully or the patient even reaches the point of actually vomiting, the emotions which are held back by neck armoring are liberated.
  • p166 It should be noted that these patients are not paralyzed, mechanically; they are capable of moving their arms very well. But as soon as the movement of the arms becomes associated with the expression of longing or desiring, the inhibition sets in.
  • p173 Like so many children, his severely compulsive mother had given him enemas. Like other children, he suffered this with horror and inner rage. In order to subdue his rage, in order to be able to submit to the torture at all, he "restrained himself," pulling up his pelvic floor, holding his breath, and generally developing the bodily attitude of NO-NO.
  • p174 As soon as, however, one single armor block inhibits this function, the expression of giving is disturbed. Then we have infants who cannot give themselves fully to their play, adolescents who fail in school, adults who function like an automobile with the emergency brake on. The observer then has the "impression" of laziness, spite or incapability. The individual with the block experiences himself as "failing in spite of all his efforts."
  • p178 The pleasure sensations turn inevitably into rage impulses because the armor does not permit the development of involuntary movements.
  • p182 In the orgasm, the living is nothing but a bit of pulsating nature.
  • p190 In its quickly alternating expansions and contractions, the orgasm shows a function which is composed of tension and relaxation, charge and discharge: biological pulsation.
  • p190 The need for gratification, or, in biophysical terms: for the discharge of the surplus energy in the organism by way f fusion with another organism - makes itself felt at more or less regular intervals.
  • p191 Thus, the function of the orgasm is expressed in the four-beat: mechanical tension → bio-electrical charge → bio-electrical discharge → mechanical relaxation. We shall call it for brief the function of tension and charge.
  • p195 If I should … give a scientific credo which as yet is impossible of proof, I must say: the existence of a specific life force seems highly probable to me! That is, an energy which is neither heat, electricity, magnetism, kinetic energy nor a combination of any or all of them, but an energy which specifically belongs only to those processes that we call "life." That does not mean that this energy is restricted to those natural bodies which we call "living beings"; it is present certainly in the formative process of the crystals. Perhaps, for this reason, it would be better to term it "formative energy" instead of life energy. But this energy is nothing "supra-physical," although it is unlikely any of the known physical energies; it is no mysterious "entelechy", but a genuine, natural energy; only, as electrical energy is linked up with electric phenomena, chemical energy with chemical processes, so is this energy linked up with phenomena of life and of the conservation of energy; it is convertible into other forms of energy as, for example, heat is converted into kinetic energy and vice versa. --Kammerer
  • p197 Nevertheless, the sprouting of every plant, the development of every embryo, the spontaneous movement of every muscle and the work done by every biological organism daily demonstrate the existence of gigantic energies governing the working of the living substance. "Energy" is the capacity to do work. There is no known energy that could compete with the work of the total life apparatus of our planet. The energies which achieve this work can derive only from non-living matter itself. They have remained a closed book to science for thousands of years.
  • p201 The bions are not complete living being, but only carriers of biological energy; they are forms of transition from non-living to living.
  • p207 The SAPA bions had originated from ocean sand. Ocean sand, however, is nothing but solidified sun energy. The process of heating and swelling had liberated this energy from the matter.
  • p217 What we observe objectively is existing - but it is unalive, dead. In the interest of scientific objectivity, we have learned to kill the living even before we proceed to make any statements about it. Thus we build, of necessity, a mechanical machine-like picture of the living, a picture in which is lacking the most essential quality, the specific aliveness.
  • p218 Let us put down four important principles of a functional concept of nature: 1. Every living organism is a functional unit; it is not merely a mechanical sum of total of organs. The basis biological function governs every individual organ as it governs the total organism. 2. Every living organism is a part of surrounding nature and functionally identical with it. 3. Every perception is based on the consonance of a function within the organism with a function in the outer world; that is, it is based on vegetative harmony. 4) Every form of self-perception is the immediate expression of objective processes in the organism (psychophysical identity). Nothing is to be expected of the philosophical speculations concerning the reality of our sensations as long as the principle is not recognized that the perceiving subject and the observed and perceived object form a functional unity.
  • p243 What we experience as pleasure is an expansion of our organism. The autonomic nerves, in pleasure, actually stretch out toward the world; the whole organism is in state of vagotonic expansion. In anxiety, on the other hand, we fell a crawling-back into the self, a shrinking and tightness.
  • p249 The patient now found herself in the tragic situation of waking up to new life, only to be confronted by a nothingness.
  • p275 What is sensation? How can matter perceive itself? What is sensation bound to? Under which conditions is there sensation and under which is sensation absent?
  • p275 For it was clear to every investigating spirit that it is solely our sensation of the natural processes inside and outside ourselves, which holds the key yo the deep riddles of nature.
  • p278 The typical mechanistic physicist thinks according to the principles of machine construction, which he essentially has to serve. A machine has to be perfect. Hence the thinking and acts of the physicist must be "perfect." Perfectionism is an essential characteristic of mechanistic thinking. It tolerates no mistakes; uncertainties, shifting situations are unwelcome. The mechanist works on artificial models of nature when he experiments. The mechanistic experiment of the 20th century has lost the essential part of genuine research: the handling and imitation of natural processes, which stamped the work of all pioneers in natural science. All machines if the same type are alike to the finest details. Deviations are observed as errors. That is fully correct in the realm of machine construction. But this principle, when applied to processes in nature, inevitably leads into confusion. Nature is inexact. Nature operated not mechanically, but functionally. Hence the mechanist always misses nature when he applies to it his mechanistic principles. There is a lawful harmony in natural functions, which penetrates and rules all being. But this harmony and lawfulness is not the strait-jacket of mechanistic technology into which mechanistic man has forced his character and his civilization. Mechanistic civilization is a deviation from natural law; more, it is a perversion of nature, a life-inimical variant, as a mad dog represents a sick variant of the species, dog. Hence mechanistic man can find no access to nature, outside the constriction of machines. Natural processes are characterized by the lack of any kind of perfectionism, in spite of the lawfulness of their functions. In a naturally thriving forest, to be sure, a unitary principle of growth functions. Yet there are no two trees, and, in the hundreds of thousands of trees, no two leaves which would be photographically identical. The realm of variation if infinitely wider then the realm of uniformity. Although the unitary natural law functions and is to be detected not only in the basis of all nature, but also in each single and smalles detail, there is nothing in nature that could be traced to perfectionism. Natural processes are uncertain, in spite of their lawfulness. Perfectionism and uncertainty are mutually exclusive. One cannot advance the functions of our solar system as a refutation of this assertion. To be sure, the orbits of the sun and the planets have not changed for thousands of years. But thousands of years, indeed millions of years, play only a small role in the natural process. The origin of the planetary system is as uncertain as its future. This is widely known. This even the planetary system, this "perfect" mechanism of the astrophysicist, is imperfect, in the :unlawful" fluctuations of thermical periods, sun spots, earthquakes, etc. Neither weather formation nor the tides function according to mechanical laws. The failure of scientific mechanism in these realms of nature is plain; their dependency on the functions of a primordial cosmic energy is basically just as clear. There is a natural law, so much is certain. But this natural law is not mechanical.
  • p282 The accomplishment of orgonomy lay in the fact that it succeeded in functionally equating pleasure with biological expansion, and unpleasure or anxiety with biological contraction.
  • p291 I know that the human mind is only an executive organ of investigating, living plasma feeling out its environment.
  • p296 I can kill an animal and dissect ir as I please. No one would think of saying that the animal is made up of the parts into which I have dissected it. This is basically valid as a criticism of every kind of mechanistic research: The experimental interference changes the object of research. The staining of cancer tissue extinguishes its living quality. The decomposition of light by a prism only tells us how the light behaves under the influence of refraction but not how light behaves without such an influence.
  • p302 I have experienced again and again, in myself and many of my co-workers, that the holding tight to rigid boundaries and laws has the function of sparing psychic unrest. While we keep the moving rigid, we fell remarkably less threatened than when we observer a moving object.
  • p314 I earnestly believe that in the rigid, chronic armoring of the human animal we have found the answer to the question of his gigantically destructive hatred and his mechanistic as as mystical thinking.
  • p314 Since every plasmatic current and orgonotic excitation, in its striving for contact, hits on a wall, the unmasterable urge arises to break through the wall, under all circumstances and with all means. In so doing, all life impulses are changed into destructive rage. The organism is driven to break out of the armor with force, as if it felt itself imprisoned in an iron cell. I earnestly believe that in the rigid, chronic armoring of the human animal we have found the answer to the question of his so gigantically destructive hatred and his mechanistic as well as mystical thinking. We have found the realm of the devil.
  • p346 There is only one possibility of flowing out in the tended forward direction: by fusion with a second organism.
  • p348 In dying, too, the biological energy reaches beyond the boundaries of the material sack which holds it prisoner.
  • p355 The human mind has always conceived of love as being capable of coping with hate and destruction. It was also always clear that hate can kill love and that love, in its struggle against evil, can turn into hate by mere frustration.
  • p357 Only the open, free, truly scientific mind will be able to follow this report without prejudice or fear.
  • p375 It became increasingly evident that the workers who were in contact with the Oranur effects reacted in a highly specific manner. It seemed as if the high-pitched charge in the atmosphere attacked each person at his or her weakest spot.
  • p380 It is a well-known and common thing that a healthy, upright, honest man while fighting evil and death, may himself change and develop the quantities of exactly the same evil that he is fighting with all his vigor. It is equally well known that love easily, through frustration, turns into bitter hatred, it's exact opposite.
  • p392 The "something," which congests toward a diseased part of the body, which creates heat and keeps its level constantly higher than the remperature of the environment, which shifts within the organism from place to place irrespective of any nerves and membranous boundaries, which twitches and convulses as in the orgasm, is the organismic orgone energy, the life energy.
  • p434 Every bit of sparkle or luster disappears from the lakes and the air. The trees look black, as though dying. The impression is actually that of blackness, or better, bleakness. It is not something that "came into the landscape." It is, rather, the sparkle of Life that went out of the landscape.
  • p435 If they are not completely dead emotionally, i.e., far below the normal bioenergetic level of functioning, people are usually aware of the "changing in the weather," too; in vegetation and in the "general fell" of things.
  • p440 The orgonomic potential is most clearly expressed in the maintenance in most animals on this planet of a temperature higher than that of the environment, and in the function of gravitational attraction. In both cases, the stringer energy system draws energy from or attracts a weak system nearby; in both cases the potential is directed from low to high, or from weak to strong. Gravitation obviously functions on this basis.
  • p444 One may create clouds in the cloud-free sky in a certain manner, by disturbing the evenness in the distribution of the atmospheric OR energy; this clouds appear upon drawing energy from the air. … No matter what the variations, the principle remains the same as described: Drawing from an existent cloud destroys the cloud. Drawing from its vicinity makes it grow.
  • p448 "Withdrawal of energy" meant loss of energy in on place, but it also meant increase of the energy level in other places or functions of the living organism. The better the result in the withdrawal of energy from rigidities, muscular armor, symptoms, the more alive and mobile became the organism, until the "contact anxiety," in the genital sphere, "orgasm anxiety," emerged as the last major obstacle to the establishment of the equilibrium in the organismic energy household.
  • p452 To the free-moving, pulsating, luminating Life Energy in both the organism and in outer nature we must attribute the crucial role of maintaining life. Water and rain in the desert are useless unless there is OR energy active to make the soil absorb and hold the fluid…
  • p457 Armored life lives only, and can only live, on the basis of a strict negation of bodily natural love. Therefore, whenever and wherever armored life meets with natural live, especially with the most outstanding function in this realm, the natural genitality of children, adolescents, men and women, it will exert the pressure of "social ostracism," of a negative, threatening public opinion, of slander, gossip and defamation or, worse, injunction. Armored life will this still try to sequester and eliminate the menace to its existence on the basis of a primordial function of the living, in defense of its organismic integrity and persistence.
  • p458 The structure of the human character presented itself as it if were composed of three distinct layers: the outer, socially adjusted layer; the middle layer, which contained all the armor blocks, "repressed impulses"; and the core which functioned as the highly excitable, responsive and mobile autonomous plasmatic life system, including the organized autonomic nerve system which seemed to be governed only by primordial charge-discharge functions in balancing the energy system.
  • p460 The greater the mystical admiration had been before, the more fanatic seemed the following hatred, as if the haters had decided that I had frustrated or, worse, cheated them out of a promise of some paradisiacal fulfillment.
  • p468 Humanity has run after very bit of hope and knowledge. Yet, after three thousand years of search and worry and heartbreak and murder for heresy and persecution of seeming error, it has arrived at little more than a few comforts for a small sector of humanity, at automobiles and airplanes and refigerators and radios.
  • p469 After thousands of years of concentration upon the riddle of the nature of man, humanity finds itself exactly where it started: with the condession of utter ignorance.
  • p469 It is commonly agreed that science reveals no permanent truth.
  • p470 How ever, in order to break out of a prison, one first must confess to being in a prison. The trap is man's emotional structure, his character structure.
  • p471 It turns out that the trouble is not within the trap or even with finding the exit. The trouble is within the trapped ones.
  • p476 There is nothing more devastating than Life which was irritated and thwarted by frustrated hope. Let us never forget this.
  • p478 Man is basically good, but he is also a brute. The change from from good to "brutish" actually happens in every single child. God is, therefore, INSIDE man, and not to be sought for outside alone. The Kingdom of Heaven is the Kingdom of the inner grace and goodness, and not the mystical "beyond" with angels and devils into which the brute in the human animal has turned its lost paradise.
  • p479 Life is plastic; it adjusts to every condition of its existence with of without protests, with or without deformation, with or without revolt. This plasticity of living Life, one of its greatest assets, will be one of its slave chains when the Emotional Plague will learn to misuse the plasticity of Life to its own ends.
  • p488 Everything exists for itself, and yet it is an integral part of a whole.
  • p489 The church is no more responsible for creation and maintenance of the methods of the emotional plague than was Nero or Caligula or Genghin Khan or, in modern times, the Hitlers and the Stalins. The plague has developed its rampant malignancy wherever leaders had to face the grave task of holding sick, deadened, cruel multitudes together in unity and cooperation.
  • p496 You do not strive to make your heart beat or your legs move, and you don not, by the same token, "strive" for or seek truth. Truth is in you and works in you just as your heart or your eyes work, well or badly, according to the condition of your organism. … Truth, therefore, is a natural function, just as is walking or running or hunting the bear by the Eskimo or finding the tracks of the enemy by the Indian. It is, within the framework of the totality of natural functioning, and intergral part of the organism and it depends on the integrity as well as integration of all the senses.
  • p497 There are certain truths which are a prior given by one's senses and movements. That Life, Living, is constant motion, is such a self-evident truth itself. That Love is the merger of two organisms, is another such truth, self-evident from the sense of longing for merger, actual merging and loosing one's circumscribed individual identity during the embrace. That there exists something very alive and emotionally enlivening and vibrating and life-giving in the atmosphere around us, is another such self-evident truth, no matter whether it is called God or the Universe Spirit of the Great Father or the Kingdom of Heaven or Orgone Energy.
  • p499 Truth is being evaded because it is unbearable and dangerous to the organism which is incapable of using it.
  • p499 Truth means full contact with oneself as well as with the environment. Truth means knowing one's own ways as distinct from the ways of others.
  • p499 To force upon the fellow man truth which he cannot live, means stirring up emotions impossible for him to carry; it means endangering his existence; it means kicking off balance a well-set, even if disastrous, way of live.
  • p505 The truth must be a piece of your Self as is your leg of your brain or your liver. Otherwise, do not try to live a trith which is not akin to your whole being. It will turn into a lie in no time, and into a worse one to boot, then the lie which has grown organically in the makeshifts of social living. … Don't preach truth. Show people by example how to find the way to their own resources of truthful living. Let people live their own truth, not your truth. What is organic truth to one is not truth at all to another man or woman. There is no absolute truth just as there are no two faces alike. And yet there are basic functions in nature which are common to all truth. But individual expression varies from body to body, from soul to soul. It is true that all trees have roots in the soil. But the concrete tree A could not use the roots of the concrete tree B to draw nourishment from the soil since they are are not his. To maintain the special in the common, the variation in the rule is the essence of wisdom.
  • p512 As long as people fear the streaming of living Life in their bodies, they will fear truth and avoid it by all means.
  • p518 Yet, there lives and thrives in us a quest for knowledge which is stronger than any philosophical thought, be it life-positive or life-negative. This burning yearning for knowing can be felt like a streaming out of our senses beyond the material framework of our body; we understand the rational in the metaphysical view of existence.
  • p527 We know that is is mostly socio-economic influences (family structure, cultural ideas on nature versus culture, civilization requirements, mystical religion, etc.) which reproduce the armor in each generation of newborn infants. These infants will as grownups force their own children to armor, unless the chain is to be broken somewhere, sometime.

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