Reich Turns His Back on Psychotherapy to Help the Organism Find Its Pulsation
A First Discussion of Vegetotherapy: Pulling Back the Veils that Hide the Manifestations of the Vegetative Experience of an Organism
Let us also remember why magic is a constant enemy of analysis. ‘The surprise performs the cure.” This statement is used unwisely by many patients who, given their resistance, count on magic. And in yoga poses the mind of analysis, a dangerous element cooperates with this hope placed on magic. The temptation to play the prophet is largely widespread. (Fenichel, 1941, Psychoanalytic Technique, Introduction, 12f; translated by Marcel Duclos)
If Reich regretted the network of his psychoanalyst friends with whom he had been close, he did not have the impression of being an Adam, chased out of Paradise! in yoga poses Berlin, his attempts to blend body and mind in yoga poses a psychoanalytic frame had not appeared conclusive to him He was finally in yoga poses agreement with Fenichel and Gindler that it was not easy to relate these two dimensions of the organism into a single treatment. He did not have the time to occupy himself with such a complex problem, because he felt that he finally had the freedom to concentrate on what really interested him He was, in yoga poses fact, interested in yoga poses neither the psychology of the psychoanalysts nor in yoga poses the body of the gymnasts. His creativity was focused on the implications of his theory on the orgasm, on that zone that spontaneously coordinates mind, body, and behavior. At first, he associated this zone to the sympathetic and parasympathetic vegetative systems. For him, it consisted in yoga poses going beyond Freud’s psyche and Gindler’s body so as to work on what animates and links these two dimensions. His strategy was to focus on the large regulators of the organism to heal the organism as a whole. He “is essentially a biotherapist, and no longer merely a psychotherapist” (Reich, 1949a, second introduction: xvii).6
Reich started with the idea that the theory of the libido is the core of Freud’s thought. He therefore had the impression that he is more faithful to Freud’s thought than the psychoanalysts because, by focusing on the vegetative dimension, he could clarify Freud’s model of the libido and drives. Reich left to the psychoanalysts the task of exploring the representations in yoga poses detail. We saw that at the beginning, psychoanalysts had a tendency to think that the body could imitate the fantasies. Reich contended that thoughts are but the marionettes of the affects.7 For this research, he focused on the following components of the orgastic reflex:
1. The emotion and the instincts.
3. The coordination of the segments of the body.
4. The capacity of the psyche to integrate the impact of the vegetative system.
Two of his technical innovations are particularly difficult for his psychoanalytic colleagues:8
1. More and more, Reich touches his patients.
2. He asks his patients to undress. Influenced by the nudist movements, he and Ola Raknes often asked their male patients to be completely naked (the women could keep their underwear).9 They do this to be able to observe, in yoga poses a detailed fashion, the dynamics of respiration, the muscular masses, and the changes in yoga poses the quality of the skin. To be naked was also for them proof that the Christian morality and the taboos it imposed had been abandoned.
After the war, when some of Reich’s students wanted to create a form of body psychotherapy based on his organismic approach, this second technique was abandoned. The shyness and the protection of the private and intimate life are henceforth considered as some healthy and useful feelings. Most of Reich’s students, like Alexander Lowen, required that his patients at least wear their undergarments. in yoga poses a conference in yoga poses Geneva, Lowen explained that total nudity had too large an impact on the transference of the therapist. He is not able to manage such an impact in yoga poses the psychotherapeutic frame. For him, an individual who likes to present in yoga poses the nude to strangers lacks a necessary defense, has a weak ego, and lacks maturity. in yoga poses our cultures (Europe and North America), only little children walk around naked without any embarrassment. From puberty onward, to act as if one believes that nudity has no sexual impact on others is a form of apparent innocence that hides a serious lacuna in yoga poses the structure of the identity, the sexual body, and the relationship to others.
Having said this, it remains useful, in yoga poses certain cases, to ask a patient in yoga poses body psychotherapy to strip down to their underwear to observe the impact of the vegetative system on the body. Today, this is done by elaborating on the embarrassment (or the lack of it) felt by some patients when this is asked of them A patient who is not certain if he can have confidence in yoga poses a therapist who requests this disrobing is not necessarily neurotic, because the press occasionally publishes articles pertaining to therapists for whom this request is a first step to eventual abuse. On the other hand, it is useful to note that therapists who abuse their patients are found in yoga poses all schools of psychotherapy, including the verbal therapies. There is therefore no cause-and-effect connection between asking that the patient wear only underclothing when it is relevant to the treatment and the abuse that occurs in yoga poses therapy. By default, the recommended rule, in yoga poses this case, is to respect everyone’s shyness and be attentive to the lack of modesty. Generally, this request is only justifiable when the work is centered on the vegetative reactions of the skin, the details of muscle tone and respiration, and the use of massage. Within the frame of body psychotherapy, it is rare that all of the sessions require this focus.
Reich had an intrusive side that did not always respect the defenses of his patients. For him, all forms of defenses were pathological. Only when a strategy required it, did he approach a defense with apparent respect. Even when he was a psychoanalyst, he had the tendency to think that the defense system was necessarily a neurotic introject of social oppression. Once he began to practice Vegetotherapy, this position became even more explicit. The patient must be able to live without a defense system, without false modesty, seeking a total transparency in yoga poses his relationships with others. The capacity to be naked and candid, at the level of one’s being, as at the level of the body, was for Reich proof of good health. Here, he applies, in yoga poses extreme fashion, the foundational rule of the psychoanalytic method,10 which requires that the patient say everything. Freud had also recommended that the therapist have the necessary tact for this rule to be used constructively. This is a nuance that has important implications: saying everything that one feels is not the same thing as expressing everything with one’s body and vegetative system What is possible in yoga poses purely verbal therapies may need to be reformulated in yoga poses approaches that work with bodily expression.
Like Ferenczi, Reich revisited Freud’s early notion of catharsis as soon as he looked for ways of mobilizing affects that connect conscious and unconscious dynamics, vegetative regulation, and the body. He kept the traditional notion that catharsis mobilizes powerful tragic affects until the organism can get rid of them and acquire the impression that it is been cleaned, like the summer air that becomes transparent after a storm. However, he preferred to use the term discharge instead of catharsis. in yoga poses most schools inspired by Reich, a full emotional discharge is a way of helping the organism to throw away all forms of toxins, repressed emotions, and negative impressions. in yoga poses other words, discharge is a form of abreaction that can clean all the tissues of the organism, and bring clarity to the psyche.