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Against the Grain with Sasha Lilley - August 20, 2012 at 12:00pm

Against the Grain, for August 20, 2012 - 12:00pm

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Against the Grain with Sasha Lilley

Christopher Turner, author of "Adventures in the Orgasmatron: How the Sexual Revolution Came to America," discusses Wilhelm Reich, who fused Marx and Freud.

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While Reich seems to have

While Reich seems to have gone off the deep end in his later years, and while the "Orgon" box and theory is laughable, his work "The Mass Psychology of Facism" is brilliant and relevant even today. More focus on this pioneering contribution to political theory and sociology would make Mr. Turner's efforts more valuable.

As a practitioner of Reichian

As a practitioner of Reichian bodywork-assisted emotional healing work, I heard today's program with great interest. There is a whole school of therapy based on Reich, called "body psychotherapy." As a young psychotherapist, Reich's first breakthrough was in "character analysis"--working with the way we form much of our character structure in childhood as a defense against difficult situations in our families. This soon expanded into an awareness of how this character structure and the struggle to hold back unwelcome emotions becomes anchored in "muscular armor"--a system or network of chronic muscle spasms that "freeze" the muscular impulses, so that children can "get along" in the family and at school.

A good way to grasp this principle is to pretend you are a little kid trying to suppress your sobs. Actually go through the motions of crying and then imagine you are struggling to suppress this impulse. You will feel how every part of your body is involved, from your face and throat down through your neck, your shaking shoulders, and your belly. Over months and years of struggle to control your impulses, these suppressive tensions become built into a network of chronic muscle spasms that you are generally unaware of. They become part of you, although you may notice bothersome chronic physical symptoms that you do not connect with their emotional origins. It's the same with anger or any kind of emotion that as a child you needed to master.

The various physical techniques--deep tissue massage, bioenergetics, gag and cough reflex, etc--that are employed in body psychotherapy, work to loosen up these tensions so that the underlying emotions can emerge and be released in a fuller and more satisfying manner than is usually the case when talk therapy alone is used. The ultimate release is what Janov called "primals"--remarkable outbursts of childhood emotions in which you really feel like a child and can connect your adult mind with the childhood situations involved.

You can read a brief account of Reich's work in psychotherapy and social criticism in my article "An Overview of Reichian Therapy" in the Holistic Health Handbook. Reich's "The Function of the Orgasm" is a compilation of Reich's work from the early days of character analysis all the way through to his increasingly bizarre orgone work. I find his analysis of the "seven segments of armor" especially fascinating and practically useful.

no wonder mr turner doelsn't

no wonder mr turner doelsn't get reich because he is only 40!! reich was much lmuch more than his orgone box. he was a prescient psychologist and sociologist anticipating faciism and the roots of faciism in the authoriatarian family structure. he was the precursor to bio energetics and body therapies and also the understanding of mind body connections to disease. he also anticipated much of the eastern psychology of buddhism and the power of meditation and breathwork. i would recommend that you get someone who is a psychologist or sociologist and a student of reich rather than this in my opinion an advertisement for his booki.

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