Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale
Photograph by Abe Goodale

Wilhelm Reich and Energy Healing

The work of Wilhelm Reich is often referred to in the history and teaching of energy as a vehicle for healing. Energy healing is based on the theories of his primary study of energy which is known as Orgonomy. "Orgonomy is the science of the Orgone, a name given to the primordial energy, which is also called the Life Energy " (Raknes, 1971, p. 72). His definitions of body armoring and character typology are also essential models in Healing Science. But clearly Reich was more than a psychologist; how his theories relate to politics, philosophy, religion and astrophysics are throughout his writings. In this paper I will discuss the overall ambience of Reich's writing, an introduction to his concept of energy and body armoring and finally a reflection on his thoughts about the nature of thinking.

Reich's unconventional style:

Reich was a forward thinker, most probably ahead of his time. He "had the reputation of an outstanding clinician and teacher and of a remarkable though somewhat wild theorist" (Raknes, 1971, p. 61). His psychological theories, which include a strong sexual component, were reflected in his generalized opinions about social reform, politics, and religion. "Reich promoted an end to the housing shortage, abolition of abortion, homosexuality, free handing out of contraceptives, social reform, protection for mothers and children, sex counseling, abolition of laws prohibiting sex education and home leave for prisoners" (Raknes, 1971, p. 55). As he spoke freely about his radical opinions as well as sexual orgasm he was not widely accepted and was eventually imprisoned (where he died).

Reich seems to feel betrayed by the government, by the people who worked for him, his colleagues, and mankind in general. His language is often blaming of and disgusted with the behavior of people - he attempts to convince his audience of his accurate assessment, but at the same time, his vehemence towards others is exactly what he complains about; there is a hypocritical flavor to his writing.

You can only ladle in and only take, and cannot create and cannot give, because your basic bodily attitude is that of holding back and of spite; because pain strikes you when the primordial movement of LOVE AND OF GIVING stirs in you. That is why you are afraid of giving. Your taking, basically, has only one meaning: You are forced continuously to gorge yourself with money, with happiness, with knowledge, because you feel yourself to be empty, starved, unhappy, not genuinely knowing nor desirous of knowledge. (Reich, 1965, p. 53)
He appears resentful, angry, and mad at himself for not being able to break through to the masses with his knowing. The forcefulness and demanding nature of his writing brings up defense in the listener, making it understandable why he was excommunicated from his countrymen and colleagues.

Energy, Body Armoring and Orgasm:

Reich reiterates repeatedly that the misery of mankind is due to armoring, which inhibits and eventually distracts us from our innate potentials. When we are armored, restricted or otherwise separated from our natural (Reich would emphasize sexual) tendencies, our yearning to love, or our innate blessedness, a block in energy flow results. When energy is blocked in the body, suffering follows. Conversely, healthy functioning is indicated by "The free flow of orgone within a living organism - a free energy metabolism" (Raknes, 1971, p. 89). Reich examines how we deny our natural harmony with one another which leads to the deeper question of "Why DID HE START RUNNING AWAY IN THE FIRST PLACE" (Reich, 1973, p. 180)?

Reich discusses the function of superimposition which is the bio-energetic fusion of two orgonotic systems. It seems evident that he will be bringing this all back around to the restriction of sexual orgasm but the path that he follows leaves the language of psychology and enter into a combination of quantum physics, biology, and sacred geometry. While I don't doubt that in the brilliance of his mind there was a complex and perfectly logical sequence of facts, the acceptance of the theory of life based on the shape we assume while orgasming and that restriction of copulation is the cause for all wars and all self denigration is extremely far-reaching and easy to disregard; but there is, eventually, much wisdom in his propositions.

Reich's theories regularly come back to the orgasmic nature of humans and the lack of fulfilled sexuality. He suggests, "All your life you were bothered by your impotence. It invaded every thought of yours. It interfered with your work. Your wife left you because you were unable to give her love. You suffer from phobias, nervousness and palpitations. Your thoughts revolve around sexuality" (Raknes, 1971, p. 43). Reich explains at length his theory of the form and function of the sexual orgasm and how it relates to human suffering, to war, political and religious problems. Finally, he concludes that "Orgastic longing, which plays such an enormous role in animal life, now appears to express this "striving beyond one's own self," this "yearning" to escape from the narrow confines of one's own organism" ( Reich, 1973, p. 222). I interpret this to mean being orgasmic with another living being fulfills the desire to reach beyond the physical form and merge with the divine.

Where did we stray?

I hear Reich pondering why we deviated from our divine nature. Why did humans, amidst all the other animals, turn away from our natural sexual tendencies and desire to merge with one another; why do we consistently armor ourselves and why did we learn to think? Reich suggests that it is the act of thinking itself, and thinking about himself, that caused man to turn against himself. In his introspection, man involuntarily became amazed with his thought, even frightened with his ability to think and this act of reasoning turned inward resulted in the beginning of his armoring, feeling the need to protect himself and masking his authenticity. "The conclusion following from these thoughts is clear: in attempting to understand himself and the streaming of his own energy, man interfered with it, and in doing so, began to armor and thus to deviate from nature" (Reich, 1973, p. 294).

This explains why so many people are afraid of doing personal process work! To investigate the nature of one's own life fills us with fear. To really experience oneself may lead to a separation from the physical and a movement toward the divine and/or the unitary system or it may lead to a separation from the divine and a confinement to the physical. Are those that are willing to delve into the mystery of themselves, the exception to the rule or are they of the natural function that mankind is meant to move toward?

If man believes "I think therefore I am," he is attached to his being as dependent on his thinking. I believe Reich is suggesting that as man learned to think, he quite involuntarily became frightened (perhaps of the expansive potential of this own thinking) and thereby began to armor himself. This armoring became second nature and the majority of people now armor. This armoring took people away from their natural course, it separated them from their true nature; people got stuck in their minds and lost contact with listening through their bodies and organic or oragasmic nature.

In many civilizations there has been and is a tendency to attribute greater importance to the brain than to other parts of the organism. Especially the reproductive and other pleasure - provoking organs have been neglected, even despised, and the feeling and emotions stemming from them condemned and as far as possible suppressed and blocked off from consciousness. It seems that the neurosis and psychoses, as seen in man more than in any other animal, are a consequence of this lopsided evaluation of human qualities. (Raknes, 1971, p. 142-143)
Reich's work informs my personal proposition and current course of inquiry: if this course of evolution continues, it would be easy to see that humankind might continue to armor more and get further and further removed from their inherent nature and from their emotions. Intellectual intelligence began to supersede emotional or kinesthetic intelligence long ago and appears to be on the increase. We are seeing this in contemporary society. Thinking has led to technological advances. Technological advances lead us away from interpersonal connection and increase our relationship to machines. Recreational and medicinal drugs, for instance, have led to further suppression of emotions as well as removal from physical pain. If we are not regularly feeling our bodies or our emotions as indicators to our presence, and are using our thinking to further separate from our totality, will the armoring increase to an extent that makes it more and more difficult to return to this wholeness? If thinking, as Reich suggests, is what originally took us away from our instinctual - body oriented way of being (like that of most other sentient beings), then aren't we indeed heading further away from our emotions as well?


My practice of energy healing works with unblocking or freeing up the orgone energy. One of the primary intentions in healing work is to address the faulty beliefs learned when we were very young that take us away from being exactly who we truly are. As we begin to think the beliefs are real, this distortion permeates our being and eventually leads to mental, emotional or physical illness. Healing happens when the energy is unblocked sufficiently to allow the true essence of the person to come to the forefront; this is the natural state of the human. Part of the healing process is helping clients to be in touch with the signals from their bodies that indicate defense or armoring, to allow the discomfort to be present, rather than to ignore it or change. As Reich professed, when a person is in his natural state, the body wisdom informs him, there is access to a full range of emotions and we do not think our way into separation with ourselves. Being in presence rather than doing what we think is expected of us, is closer to our natural state of wholeness.

Wilhelm Reich relates his theory about the form and motion of copulation and the superimposition of two energy fields, to the creation of hurricanes, the aurora borealis, gravitational pulls, galaxies and cosmic creation itself. With his attempt to tie his theory of human psychology onto the physics of the greater natural realm Reich obviously had an understanding of or at least a yearning to comprehend the relationship between mankind and the greater cosmos. He clearly indulges the concept of the microcosm being a reflection of the macro:

In penetrating to the greatest depth, and the fullest extent of emotional integration of the self, we not only experience and feel, we also learn to understand, if only dimly, the meaning and function of the cosmic orgone ocean, of which we are a tiny part. (Reich, 1973,p. 280)


Raknes, O. (1971). Wilhelm Reich and Orgonomy. Baltimore: Penguin Books.

Reich, W. (1965). Listen, Little Man! New York: The Noonday Press

Reich, W. (1973). Ether, God and Devil / Cosmic Superimposition. Toronto: Doubleday Canada Ltd.


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