Today we have Part 1 of a 3-part interview I recently did with Will Tuttle, author of the book The World Peace Diet.
Will Tuttle is a nationally recognized writer, educator, pianist and composer devoted to providing words and music that inspire insight and compassion. An award-winning author and Dharma Master in the Zen meditation tradition, his Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley focus on educating intuition, and he has taught college course in music, philosophy, mythology, and creativity.
His book, The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony, has been called one of the most important books of the 21st century: the foundation of a new society based on the truth of the interconnectedness of all life.
It is the first book to make explicit the invisible connections between our culture, our food, and the source of our broad range of problems – and the way to a positive transformation in our individual and collective lives.
It is a brilliant book, and I highly recommend it. It is far-ranging in its scope, and leaves no stone unturned in its quest to help us all understand who we are and where we are going.
To learn more about Will Tuttle, and to buy his book, go to his website, http://willtuttle.com
Part 2 of this 3-part interview will be next time…
The Low Density Lifestyle book is now out! You can check out an excerpt from the book, and buy it, at the Low Density Lifestyle bookstore.
The Low Density Lifestyle book is now out! You can check out an excerpt from the book, and buy it, at the Low Density Lifestyle bookstore.
In an act of cowardice that only evil terrorists are capable of doing, an American icon, Ronald McDonald, was recently kidnapped and is being threatened with execution by Feb. 11, 2011, unless the demands of the terrorists are met.
What is wrong with these people? Don’t they understand that Ronald McDonald represents the pinnacle of American living? You can’t get much more Americana than Ronald.
I mean, if we allow this dastardly act to succeed, then we are all doomed – because then nothing will be sacred.
Who are these cowards who have committed this heinous act? Not much is fully known about them, except that they go by the name of the “Food Liberation Army.”
We do know the details of the crime. The perpetrators marched into a restaurant in Helsinki, Finland on Jan. 31 posing as maintenance personnel, and then kidnapped the statue of Ronald McDonald.
Since committing this reprehensible act, the group has posted a video on YouTube where, wearing hoods over their heads and holding the statue with a bag over its head, they demand that the world’s largest food chain answer questions about its corporate responsibility and food production. You can watch the video above.
“We love burgers, fries and McDonald’s, but we can no longer watch in silence as the food we love is being destroyed and brought to shame because of greed and indifference,” one of the terrorists said, speaking in Finnish.
And that’s the thing about terrorists. They can make themselves sound like they have a reasonable case, but we all know they are madmen bent on destruction.
For what are we without McDonalds? What would happen to our way of life?
I ask all of you, pray that Ronald McDonald is saved before the execution date of Feb. 11. But yet, we can never cave into the demands of terrorists.
For if they get their way, next they’ll be making demands that we have to eat things like brown rice and organic vegetables and locally produced foods.
And if that were to happen, it would be devastating to all the businesses that make mega-gobs of profits off the unhealthy living habits of people.
Today I take a break from the series on the Masters of Enlightenment, to share with you this story that was in today’s, Jan. 24, 2011, New York Times.
Jack passed away yesterday, Jan. 23, 2011, at the ripe age of 96, so as a tribute to him, I thought it would be best to republish the story from the NY Times.
Jack LaLanne, Founder of Modern Fitness Movement, Dies at 96
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN
Jack LaLanne, whose obsession with grueling workouts and good nutrition, complemented by a salesman’s gift, brought him recognition as the founder of the modern physical fitness movement, died Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay, Calif. He was 96.
The cause was respiratory failure resulting from pneumonia, said his son Dan Doyle.
A self-described emotional and physical wreck while growing up in the San Francisco area, Mr. LaLanne began turning his life around, as he often told it, after hearing a talk on proper diet when he was 15.
He started working out with weights when they were an oddity, and in 1936 he opened the prototype for the fitness spas to come — a gym, juice bar and health food store — in an old office building in Oakland.
“People thought I was a charlatan and a nut,” he remembered. “The doctors were against me — they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.” But Mr. LaLanne persevered, and he found a national pulpit in the age of television.
“The Jack LaLanne Show” made its debut in 1951 as a local program in the San Francisco area, then went nationwide on daytime television in 1959. His short-sleeved jumpsuit showing off his impressive biceps, his props often limited to a broomstick, a chair and a rubber cord, Mr. LaLanne pranced through his exercise routines, most notably his fingertip push-ups.
He built an audience by first drawing in children who saw his white German shepherd, Happy, perform tricks.
“My show was so personal, I made it feel like you and I were the only ones there,” he told Knight-Ridder Newspapers in 1995. “And I’d say: ‘Boys and girls, come here. Uncle Jack wants to tell you something. You go get Mother or Daddy, Grandmother, Grandfather, whoever is in the house. You go get them, and you make sure they exercise with me.’ ”
His show continued into the mid-1980s.
“He was perfect for the intimacy of television,” Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, told The San Jose Mercury News in 2004. “This guy had some of the same stuff that Oprah has and Johnny Carson had — the ability to insinuate themselves in the domestic space of people’s lives.”
Long before Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda and the Atkins diet, Mr. LaLanne was a national celebrity, preaching regular exercise and proper diet. Expanding on his television popularity, he opened dozens of fitness studios under his name, later licensing them to Bally.
He invented the forerunners of modern exercise machines like leg-extension and pulley devices. He marketed a Power Juicer to blend raw vegetables and fruits and a Glamour Stretcher cord, and he sold exercise videos and fitness books. He invited women to join his health clubs and told the elderly and the disabled that they could exercise despite their limitations.
At 60 he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat. At 70, handcuffed and shackled again, he towed 70 boats, carrying a total of 70 people, a mile and a half through Long Beach Harbor.
He ate two meals a day and shunned snacks.
Breakfast, following his morning workout, usually included several hard-boiled egg whites, a cup of broth, oatmeal with soy milk and seasonal fruit. For dinner he took his wife, Elaine, to restaurants that knew what he wanted: a salad with raw vegetables and egg whites along with fish — often salmon — and a mixture of red and white wine. He sometimes allowed himself a roast turkey sandwich, but never a cup of coffee.
Mr. LaLanne said he performed his exercises until he experienced “muscle fatigue,” lifting weights until it was impossible for him to continue. It produced results and, as he put it, “the ego in me” made the effort worthwhile.
The son of French immigrants, Jack LaLanne was born in San Francisco on Sept. 26, 1914, and spent his early years on his parents’ sheep farm in Bakersfield, Calif. By the time he was 15, the family having moved to the Bay Area, he was pimply and nearsighted, craved junk food and had dropped out of high school. That is when his mother took him to a women’s club for a talk by Paul C. Bragg, a well-known speaker on health and nutrition.
That talk, Mr. LaLanne often said, turned his life around. He began experimenting with weights at the Berkeley Y.M.C.A., tossed aside cakes and cookies and studied Gray’s Anatomy to learn about the body’s muscles. He graduated from a chiropractic school, but instead of practicing that profession he became a pitchman for good health.
He opened his first health studio when he was 21, and a decade and a half later he turned to television. He was first sponsored by the creator of a longevity pill, a 90-year-old man, but it sold poorly and he obtained Yami Yogurt as his new sponsor. “It tasted terrible, so I mixed it with prune juice and fruits,” he told The New York Times in 2004. “Nobody thought about it until then. We made the guy a millionaire.”
Mr. LaLanne, 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds or so with a 30-inch waist, maintained that he disliked working out. He said he kept at it strictly to feel fit and stay healthy. He built two gyms and a pool at his home in Morro Bay, and began each day, into his 90s, with two hours of workouts: weight lifting followed by a swim against an artificial current or in place, tied to a belt.
“The Jack LaLanne Show” may have run its course in the mid-1980s, but it had a second life in reruns on ESPN Classic. “We have over 3,000 shows,” Mr. LaLanne said in 2004. “I own everything.”
In September 2007, “Jack LaLanne Live!” made its debut on the online VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Radio Network. He appeared on it with his wife and his nephew Chris LaLanne, a personal trainer.
In addition to Dan Doyle, he is survived by his wife, Elaine; their son, Jon; and a daughter, Yvonne.
Mr. LaLanne promoted himself and his calling into his final years, often accompanied at events by his wife, a physical fitness convert but hardly a fanatic. He brimmed with optimism and restated a host of aphorisms for an active and fit life.
“I can’t die,” he most famously liked to say. “It would ruin my image.”
Today is the final segment in this three-part interview with Ashley Gonzalez of PETA.
In this interview we talk about talks about PETA”s mission; animal cruelty in slaughterhouses and on farms; the prevalence of E. coli and salmonella in animals and why this occurs; the detrimental effects of eating dairy foods; and PETA’s sexiest vegetarian over 50 contest.
After you watch this video, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it is a very enlightening discussion.
Today I give you the second part of a three-part interview with Ashley Gonzalez of PETA.
The other day was part 1 of this interview, and in this interview we carry on from there.
In this interview we talk about PETA’s outrageous billboard they put up in downtown Glasgow, Scotland; the health benefits of not eating meat; the relationship between eating meat and climate change – meat production is the number one cause of climate change; animal cruelty and the meat industry; how far removed we are from the source of our food; PETA’s educational outreach programs in schools; the origins of the swine flu; and much, more more.
I’m sure when you watch the above video you’ll agree with me that the discussion is an enlightening one.
To learn more about PETA, go to peta.org
This interview will be continued next time…
Last week I mentioned that PETA had announced their 2010 sexiest vegetarian male and female over 50 contest, and today I follow that up with the above video, which is the first part of a three-part interview with Ashley Gonzalez of PETA.
I’ve written about PETA in the past – I wrote articles about Mimi Kirk and Julian Winter, the winners of PETA’s 2009 sexiest vegetarian female and male, and I also did a three-part interview with Mimi.
I’ve also written about some of the outrageous things PETA has done with the article The PETA Hijinks. The article covered such things as their banned Super Bowl ad “Veggie Love,” their attempt to pay the city of Topeka, Kansas $6,000 to fill potholes in their streets and mark the repairs with messages condemning Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the billboard they put up in Glasgow, Scotland linking meat eating to man-boobs.
Today’s interview discusses PETA’s mission, their origins, their work in animal rights, their sexiest vegetarian over 50 contest (and their sexiest vegetarian next door contest), the benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet, and their famous “Veggie Love” ad.
To be continued next time…
Last week I started a new series on Spirituality, and started it off with poetry by Vermont-based poet David Tucker.
Before I continue with the series, I have some news to pass on, courtesy of PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PETA has launched the 2010 SEXIEST VEGETARIAN OVER 50 CONTEST, with the tagline:
Healthy, Hot, and Compassionate—After Five Decades, These Folks Are Just Getting Started
Why am I passing on this news? Because in 2009, I wrote articles profiling the winners of PETA’s 2009 Sexiest Male and Female Vegetarian Over 50 contest.
In addition, earlier this year, I did a three-part video interview with Mimi Kirk. Here’s the interviews:
So here’s the news, directly from PETA:
Norfolk, Va. — Ask most vegetarians over 50 if they’ve ever been complimented on their healthy and radiant appearance, and you can bet the answer is, “Yes.” It’s no wonder, when you consider that many of their meat-eating contemporaries are suffering from heart disease, high cholesterol, and other diet-related health problems. That’s why PETA Prime is showcasing just how vibrant and appealing older vegetarians can be through its 2010 Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50 contest.
“Vegetarians—of any age—are, on average, healthier, fitter, and trimmer than meat-eaters are, and that makes them sexier too,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “And because the fat and cholesterol in animal-derived products can slow the flow of blood to all the body’s organs, vegetarians’ love lives can go full throttle for years—even decades—longer.”
PETA Prime is accepting contest entrants from now until October 29 with public voting rounds to help PETA pick winners running until December 3. On December 10, PETA Prime will crown two winners, one male and one female, as this year’s Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50. Each winner will receive a five-night stay at the luxurious and eco-friendly Laguna Lodge in Guatemala.
More and more people are kicking the meat habit after learning that going vegetarian is the best thing that they can do for their own health, the planet, and animals. According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians are less likely to suffer from obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Also, going vegetarian is one of the most effective ways that people can slash their carbon footprint. And, each vegetarian saves the lives of approximately 100 animals every year.
Today’s article is the last of a three-part article on Wilhelm Reich. The first article in this series, Wilhelm Reich – Putting the Body in Mind-Body Medicine, Part 1, discussed who Reich was and why his ideas were so radical and pioneering for his time, the early to mid 20th century.
In the second part of this series, Wilhelm Reich – Putting the Body in Mind-Body Medicine, Part 2, I discussed Reich’s discovery of orgone energy, and his development of the orgone energy accumulator, or orgone box.
The box was used to heal cancer and other chronic, degenerative illnesses.
Today, in the last part of this series, I’ll discuss why the U.S. government, threatened by Reich’s orgone energy, went after Reich with a vengeance.
Reich’s downfall began in 1947 with an article entitled “The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich” that appeared in New Republic magazine.
Authored by freelance writer Mildred Edie Brady, it was filled with distortions and innuendos about Reich’s sexual theories and orgone research. Brady’s most inflammatory claim was that Reich was building accumulators of orgone energy “which are rented out to patients who presumably derived orgastic potency from it.”
Implying that Reich was a danger to the public, Brady challenged the medical authorities to take action against him. Two months later, the article was brought to the attention of the Food and Drug Administration. The result was a ten-year campaign by the FDA designed to destroy Reich’s work.
The FDA focused on the orgone energy accumulator which Reich and his physicians were using experimentally with patients. Convinced that the accumulator was being fraudulently promoted as a sexual and medical device, FDA agents spent years interviewing Reich’s associates, physicians, students and patients, looking for dissatisfied users. None were ever found. As the FDA’s investigation continued, so did Reich’s work.
Reich continued to develop new ways to visualize, measure, and harness orgone energy from the atmosphere. The cloudbuster, for example, was an experimental instrument that could affect weather patterns by altering concentrations of orgone energy in the atmosphere. It comprised a set of hollow metal pipes and cables inserted into water, creating a stronger orgone energy system than that in the surrounding atmosphere.
Water, which strongly attracts and absorbs orgone, draws the atmospheric orgone through the pipes. This movement of orgone from a lower to a higher energy system was used by Reich to create clouds and to dissipate them.
Reich used the cloudbuster to conduct dozens of experiments involving what he called “Cosmic Orgone Engineering (C.O.R.E.).” One of the most notable occurred in 1953. During a long drought that threatened the Maine blueberry crop, several farmers offered to pay Reich if he could bring rain to the parched region. The weather bureau had forecast no rain for several days when Reich began his cloudbusting operations.
Ten hours later, a light rain began to fall. Over the next few days, close to two inches fell. The blueberry crop was saved, and in local newspaper articles the farmers credited Reich.
In February 1954, the FDA filed a Complaint for Injunction against Reich in the Federal Court in Portland, Maine. The Complaint declared that orgone energy does not exist, and asked the Court to prohibit the shipment of accumulators in interstate commerce and to ban Reich’s published literature which they claimed was labeling for the accumulators.
After considerable thought and discussion of this matter, Reich responded with a lengthy letter to Judge John Clifford, explaining that he could not appear in Court, since doing so would allow a Court of law to judge basic scientific research.
“Scientific matters can only be clarified by prolonged, faithful bona fide observations in friendly exchange of opinion, never by litigation… Man’s right to know, to learn, to inquire, to make bona fide errors, to investigate human emotions must, by all means, be safe, if the word FREEDOM should ever be more than an empty political slogan.
Furthermore, Reich asserted, if his painstakingly elaborated and published findings “…over a period of 30 years could not convince this administration, or will not be able to convince any other administration of the true nature of the discovery of the Life Energy, no litigation in any court anywhere will ever help to do so. I, therefore, submit, in the name of truth and justice that I shall not appear in court as the ‘defendant’ against a plaintiff who by his mere complaint already has shown his ignorance in matters of natural science.”
Judge Clifford did not accept Reich’s letter as a valid legal response, and on March 19, 1954, a Decree of Injunction was issued on default as if Reich had never responded at all. But the Injunction itself was even more excessive than the initial Complaint:
• it ordered orgone energy accumulators and their parts to be destroyed
• it ordered all materials containing instructions for the use of the accumulator to be destroyed
• it banned a list of Reich’s books containing statements about orgone energy, until such time that all references to orgone energy were deleted
After the initial shock, Reich continued his research, traveling to Arizona to experiment with the cloudbuster in the dry desert environment. While he was there, and without his knowledge, one of Reich’s students—Dr. Michael Silvert—moved a truckload of accumulators and books from Rangeley, Maine to New York City, a direct violation of the Injunction.
As a result, the FDA charged Reich and Silvert with criminal contempt of court. Following a jury trial, both men were found guilty on May 7, 1956. Reich was sentenced to two years in federal prison, Silvert was sentenced to a year and a day. The Wilhelm Reich Foundation—founded in Maine in 1949 by students and friends to preserve Reich’s Archives and to secure the future of his discovery of the Cosmic Life Energy—was fined $10,000.
While Reich appealed his sentence, the government carried out the destruction of orgone accumulators and literature. In Maine, several boxes of literature were burned, and accumulators and accumulator materials either destroyed or dismantled.
In New York City, on August 23, 1956, the FDA supervised the burning of several tons of Reich’s publications in one of the city’s garbage incinerators, including titles that were only to have been banned. Among the materials burned were:
• Orgone Energy Bulletin (12,189 copies)
• International Journal of Sex Economy and Orgone Research (6,261 copies)
• Emotional Plague Versus Orgone Biophysics (2,900 copies)
• Annals of the Orgone Institute (2976 copies)
• The Oranur Experiment (872 copies)
• Character Analysis
• Cosmic Superimposition
• Ether, God, and Devil
• Listen, Little Man
• People in Trouble
• The Cancer Biopathy
• The Function of the Orgasm
• The Mass Psychology of Fascism
• The Murder of Christ
• The Sexual Revolution
This destruction of literature constitutes one of the most heinous examples of censorship in United States history.
On March 8, 1957, Reich signed his Last Will and Testament. Among its stipulations was the establishment of The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust Fund as the legal entity charged with operating Orgonon (Orgonon was Reich’s 160-acre farm in Maine) as The Wilhelm Reich Museum; protecting, preserving, and transmitting his scientific legacy to future generations; and safeguarding Reich’s Archives.
All appeals denied, on March 12, 1957—two weeks shy of his 60th birthday—Wilhelm Reich was temporarily incarcerated at the Danbury Federal Penitentiary in Connecticut. On March 22, he was taken to the Federal Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He died there of heart failure on November 3, 1957, and was buried at Orgonon.
In the last article, Wilhelm Reich – Putting the Body in Mind-Body Medicine, Part 1, I discussed how Reich, an Austrian-American psychiatrist who trained under Sigmund Freud, is the person most responsible for uniting mind and body and pioneering mind-body medicine.
And as I mentioned in the article, he is largely forgotten now. Reich died in 1957 a broken man, in prison, having been persecuted by the U.S. government.
The year he went to prison, in 1956, the U.S. government burned tons of his writings and papers. And as a consequence of that, Reich wrote in his will that his remaining papers were to be sealed and not opened for 50 years, in 2007, because he felt that by then a more enlightened society would exist that could appreciate his ideas better.
And what was Reich’s terrible crime that had the U.S. government coming after him?
His crime was his promotion of what he called orgone energy. In the 1930s Reich discovered a physical, biological energy in all living matter that he called “orgone,” and for the next two decades devoted his life to the investigation of its laws and properties.
Through his research, Reich confirmed the existence of this energy in the human body, verified its presence in the atmosphere, developed instrumentation to observe and collect it, and harnessed it for a variety of purposes from cancer treatment to motor power to weather experimentation.
This is what he had to say about orgone energy:
“I am well aware of the fact that the human race has known about the existence of a universal energy related to life for many ages. However, the basic task of natural science consisted of making this energy usable. This is the sole difference between my work and all preceding knowledge.”
Reich had started his career as a protege of Sigmund Freud, but broke with him over differing views of libido and sexual energy.
Freud had originally discovered that neuroses are caused by the conflict between natural sexual instincts and the social denial and frustration of those instincts. Freud had also hypothesized the existence of a biological sexual energy in the body. He called it “libido,” and described it as “something which is capable of increase, decrease, displacement and discharge, and which extends itself over the memory traces of an idea like an electric charge over the surface of the body.”
But over the years, Freud and his followers diluted much of this concept, reducing the libido to little more than a psychological energy or idea. By 1925, Freud had concluded that “the libido theory may therefore for the present be pursued only by the path of speculation.”
But Reich’s clinical work and research led him to believe otherwise. He observed that sexual energy is more than just an idea, and that sexual gratification, in fact, alleviated neurotic symptoms. He discovered that the function of the orgasm is to maintain an energy equilibrium by discharging excess biological energy that builds up naturally in the body.
As he continued his research into primordial sexual energy, using technical equipment to measure biological activity and phenomena related to sexual energy, what he found was at the root of this energy was a type of radiation emitted that did not obey any known laws of electricity or magnetism. Reich called this energy “orgone,” because its discovery had evolved from his investigation of the orgasm function, and because this energy could charge organic materials.
He determined that orgone radiation seemed to permeate all substances, which led him to constantly confront questions about the origins of this energy. Where did orgone energy come from, he wondered?
To isolate and collect orgone, Reich relied on the results of several laboratory experiments. These experiments demonstrated that organic or non-metallic materials—such as cotton, wool or plastic—attract, absorb, and hold the energy. Metallic materials —like steel and iron—attract the energy and quickly reflect it in both directions.
On the basis of these findings, Reich constructed small boxes with alternating layers of organic and metallic materials, with the inner walls lined with metal. By looking through a specially designed lens inserted into a wall of each box, one could observe orgone radiation within the enclosure.
Reich now faced the daunting possibility of having discovered a biological energy that seemed to be everywhere, while still pondering the perplexing question of where orgone energy originated.
Reich was living in New York City by this time, and the accumulator quickly became an increasingly vital tool for his research. The accumulator’s organic layers attracted the atmospheric energy which was directed inward by the metal layers. Any energy reflected outward by the metal layers was immediately re-absorbed by the organic material, attracted back to the metal, and directed toward the inside of the box. The result was a higher concentration of orgone energy inside the box. The more layers, the stronger the concentration.
The accumulator now allowed Reich to test the effects of orgone radiation on cancer mice, by simply placing the mice inside the metal-lined enclosure. Because his results with cancer mice were so promising, Reich decided to test the effects of orgone radiation on humans. He constructed accumulators large enough for a person to sit in, and in 1941 began experimental treatments with cancer patients.
They were all terminal cases. Reich promised no cure nor charged any money, as shown by the affidavit that his patients and/or their family members were required to sign:
“I state herewith that I came to see Dr. Wilhelm Reich for possibly helping the case of my _____ who suffers from cancer. I came because I was told of the experiments that Dr. Reich has made with cancer mice and human beings. Dr. Reich did not promise me any cure, did not charge any money, and told me that only during the last few months has he tried the orgone radiation on human begins who suffer from cancer. Death or abscesses could occur as a consequence of the disease. I told Dr. Reich that the physicians have given up the case of my _____ as hopeless. Should death or abscesses occur during the time of the experiment, it will not be because of the treatment.”
Over a period of time, the patients showed marked improvement: relief of pain, healthier blood condition, weight gain, and the shrinkage and elimination of tumors. Despite these positive results, the patients died, reinforcing Reich’s conviction that cancer is a bio-energetic shrinking following emotional resignation, and that the tumors themselves are not the disease, but merely a local manifestation of a deeper systemic disorder. Once again, Reich’s focus became prevention.
Next time: Why the U.S. government, threatened by the concept of orgone energy, went after Wilhelm Reich.
Today I will veer away from discussing systems of healing to discuss a pioneer in the field, someone who put the body back in mind-body medicine.
His name was Wilhelm Reich, and he was a man far ahead of his time, but unfortunately he is for the most part forgotten.
Born in 1897 in the part of Europe that was once the Austro-Hungarian empire, he went to medical school and became a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. In the 1920s he became a protege of Sigmund Freud, and was considered one of his top underlings.
Yet as the years progressed, Reich saw limitations in the traditional psychotherapeutic approach, and felt that just working with the mind was insufficient in helping people free themselves of their burdens. He maintained that the body needed to be involved in psychotherapy also, and he founded the entire approach of body-centered psychotherapy, of which to this day there are many schools of thought.
Thus, the entire realm of mind-body medicine has Wilhelm Reich to thank, because he was willing to break with the convention and doctrine of his time and take medicine and healing into new frontiers.
Many well-known psychiatrists and psychologists followed Reich’s lead and developed new body-centered psychotherapies.
The first generation of Reich followers were such people as Alexander Lowen, who developed Bioenergetic Analysis; Fritz Perls, who developed Gestalt Therapy; Arthur Janov, who developed Primal Therapy; and Ida Rolf, who developed Rolfing.
Thus, without the pioneering work of Wilhelm Reich, there would have been none of these other breakthrough therapies.
Yet today, Reich is sadly forgotten. Part of that is because he died in jail a broken man, in 1957 at the age of 60, completely humiliated by the U.S. government. He was sentenced to two years in prison in 1956, for the crime of inventing something called an orgone energy accumulator, which he claimed could heal illness and restore a person’s energy field.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated the orgone accumulator and decided it had no merit, and put a cease order on their sales. When an associate of Reich’s violated the order by selling some, the FDA came after Reich and threw him in jail.
Also in 1956, in conjunction with Reich being jailed, in one of the worst incidents of censorship in U.S. history, several tons of Reich’s publications were burned by the FDA.
Reich was living in Germany in 1933 when Hitler and the Nazis came to power, and he immediately left, going to Vienna, then Scandinavia, and then eventually settling in the U.S. in 1939.
His pioneering work broke many taboos of psychiatry. The field was dominated by the work of Freud, and focused on individual neuroses. But Reich was more interested in character structure.
From 1930 onwards, Reich became more interested in his patients’ physical responses during therapy sessions, and toward the late 1930s, he began to treat patients outside the limits of psychoanalysis’s restrictions, though well within the scope of general medicine.
He began to sit next to his patients, rather than behind them, in order to make stronger “contact.” He started touching them, to both increase awareness of tension and contraction and to relieve it directly. He began talking to them, answering their questions, rather than the stock, “Why do you ask?” analyst’s response.
From a psychoanalytic point of view, this undermined the position of neutrality. The analyst is meant to be a blank screen onto which the patient projects his old desires, his loves, his hates, his neurosis—a process known as transference.
Reich wrote that the psychoanalytic taboos reinforced the neurotic taboos of the patient. He slowly broke away from them, writing that he wanted his patients to see him as human.
He would press hard on their “body armor,” his thumb or the palm of his hand pressing on their jaws, necks, chests, backs, or thighs, aiming to dissolve their physical and mental rigidity. He wanted to see their movements soften, their breathing ease.
This dissolution of the “body armor” also brought back the repressed memory of the childhood situation that had caused the repression, he wrote. If the session worked as intended, he wrote that he could see waves of pleasure move through their bodies, a series of spontaneous, involuntary movements. Reich called these the “orgasm reflex.”
The two goals of Reichian therapy became the attainment of this orgasm reflex during therapy, and orgastic potency during intercourse. Reich called the flow of energy that he said he observed in his patients’ bodies, “bio-electricity.”
He felt this could free their body, mind and emotions, and lead to a full recovery of their health problems.
And herein is where Reich touched a raw nerve: he delved into the taboo area of sex in a way that Freud had never. Whereas libido and sexual repression was an important part of Freudian psychology, it was all still conceptual, and the work with patients was all conventional psychotherapy.
Reich took it one step further, and worked with people to break free of what he called the body armor, the holding patterns that caused rigidity of the body, mind and emotions.
Reich’s work was like a breath of fresh air for 1940s America, and he enjoyed a largely uncritical press in the U.S. Along with that, his psychoanalytic theories were taught in universities and discussed in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Psychiatry.
To be continued next time…