BECOMING A SEXOLOGIST
After his studies, Reich established himself as a psychoanalytically oriented sexologist and psychiatrist. Being particularly attracted by the sexual dimension of psychoanalysis, he began by wanting to establish some order in yoga poses the theory of the libido.93 The libido theory was also the only domain of psychoanalysis that had a deep resonance with his interests for the impact of biological dynamics on the psyche.
The Sexual Behavior of People. Reich had a private practice at the time. With Annie, he participated in yoga poses the foundation of a clinic called the Psychoanalytic Dispensary. This dispensary, directed by the psychoanalyst Hitschmann, was created in yoga poses the image of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Clinic.94 Most patients who frequented this dispensary were in yoga poses need of psychological support, as Freud’s theory foresaw. They often did not have what it takes (not enough time, not enough money, or not the necessary intellectual curiosity) for psychoanalytical treatment.95 Gradually, Reich became the chief of this dispensary. Patients often came to resolve problems tied to sexuality (sexual problems, methods of contraception, etc.). These were the patients who made it possible for Reich to discover the great variety of sexual behaviors among the Viennese, and this was in yoga poses a time when he was having his first sexual experiences. He observed that most of the individuals he saw had a sexual behavior incompatible with the morality they were attempting to follow. He was no exception. Reich had difficulty reconciling his visits to prostitutes with what he called “the (idealizing) platonic side of my sexuality” (Reich, 1937, 61).
With his psychoanalytic patients, he explored, in yoga poses great detail, how intimate thoughts and sexual behavior are related. For example, he published an article on the way people masturbate and on their fantasies during masturbation. He is astonished to discover the immense variety of practices. His male patients do not necessarily have an erection when they masturbate. Even those who have a regular heterosexual relationship have difficulty representing, in yoga poses their dreams, a situation in yoga poses which they are having vaginal intercourse with their fantasized partner. 96 in yoga poses another study on coitus and the sexes, Reich (1922b) (a) noticed that the sexual arousal of men often follows a profile a bit different than that of women, and (b) discerned more problems of impotence in yoga poses men than frigidity in yoga poses women.97
The Curve of an Orgasm.
The orgastic excitation takes hold of the whole body and results in yoga poses lively contractions of the whole body musculature. Selfobservations of healthy individuals of both sexes, as well as the analysis of certain disturbances of orgasm, show that we call the release of tension and experience as a motor discharge (descending portion of the orgasm curve) is predominantly the result of a flowing back of the excitation from the genital to the body. This flowing back is experienced as a sudden decrease of the tension. (Reich, 1940, The Function of the Orgasm, IV.3, p.62)
According to Freud, neurosis is nourished by the mobilized sexual energy which the organism fails to express and which is not reabsorbed. Reich attempted to further explain this formula. He asked himself how he might describe what the sexual arousal mobilizes in yoga poses the organism and how this arousal can express itself in yoga poses a sufficiently satisfying manner so that there would not be a build-up of a neurosis. The term orgasm therefore designates a sexual behavior that does not leave any sexual stasis.98 For Reich, genital sexuality always includes a capacity to have an orgasm He distinguished between an organic impotence (frigidity or erectile dysfunction) from an orgastic impotence (the impossibility of achieving a vegetative and affective satisfaction). He ends up with the formula of the orgasm which is composed of three main phases:99
1. The intensification. There is a charge when a sexual propension mobilizes the resources of the organism in yoga poses such a way as to increase the sympathetic vegetative activity of the organism to create a feeling of sexual arousal. This phase is characterized by a quantitative and qualitative dimension. The quantitative dimension is an increase of organismic energy (physiological and mental) mobilized for this propension. This phase initiates the orgasm by activating involuntary movements that take over the organism, independently of the thoughts a person could have at that moment. The person gradually loses control over what is going on. If thoughts welcome somatic arousal, the propension guides the behavior and the thoughts.100
2. The climax. A climax can become orgastic, according to Reich,101 only if there is an activation of the involuntary movements that take hold of the organism at the end of the intensification phase. These movements organize the felt arousal. There is coordination of the segments of the body that move like waves from feet to head and the physiological mobilization (respiration, circulation of the blood, hormones, etc.) that allows this activity to happen. The movements of the segments of the body coordinate not only in yoga poses each organism but also between the organisms involved. If the psyche receives the experience that is built in yoga poses the organism at that moment, this phase relates to a particularly pleasant sensation. An interruption of the sexual act during orgasm is always experienced as extremely unpleasant.
3. Evanescence, or the relaxation after coitus. This phase produces new forms of pleasure. It begins with a phase of detumescence during which the man ejaculates, and after which men and women can “have convulsive spasms of the abdomen that can spread through the entire body” (Reich, 1919, 101).102 After these spasms the phase of evanescence really begins. Later, Reich referred to this phase as a reflux. The organism returns to a state of relaxation that permits the evacuation of metabolic wastes generated by motor activity by toppling it over into a parasympathetic vegetative mode of functioning. It thereby finds a basic equilibrium, close to a deep relaxation, that allows for metabolizing the physiological and affective charge mobilized by the act. This moment is often filled with tender and loving images of self and the other. This feeling has reparative functions, for each person and for the couple, which operate in yoga poses depth. Any limitation of the loving feeling that arises at this moment prevents the phase of evanescence from accomplishing its function of cleaning the tissues and the intensification of the love relationship.
During his Viennese period, it is only when he describes sexual behavior that Reich talks of the body. This body is mostly the visible surface of physiological arousal. It is not yet a distinct dimension of the organism. The interruption of the last two phases of the orgastic reaction can bring about a variety of disagreeable psychophysiological events: palpitations, cardiac irregularities, sweating, back pain, headaches, acute anxiety attacks, general irritability, problems with attention, and so on.103 There is a circular relation between the intensification and the evanescence.
1. Pleasurable sensations experienced during the evanescence phase are often memorized in yoga poses association with tender and loving sentiments.
2. Often the pleasure experienced during the reflux can be spoiled by a variety of anxious thoughts, such as guilt, the fear of falling in yoga poses love or having a child, the lack of time, and so on.104
3. Later, when the intensification phase is activated, these loving and pleasurable memories will be associated with the pleasure of excitation. If anxious thoughts have also been stored during the reflux phase, that will come with the pleasurable memories and can then spoil the pleasure experienced during the intensification phase. That explains why many sexual problems observed during the arousal phase originate during the evanescence.105
Reich represents the intensity of the sexual charge by a curve that was used by sexologists at the beginning of the twentieth century (see Figure 16.1). He reconstructed with his patients the profile of the curve of a real sexual encounter. The entirety of the curve designates a propension that becomes pleasant in yoga poses its realization. For Reich, there is no pleasure “that exists here and seeks pleasure there”; but there is a pleasure brought about by the sensorimotor act and that animates this act (Reich, 1940, DLL, 24).