Put It To The Test
By Joel Carlinsky
I recently ran into a 60-year-old man who has been in Reichian therapy for 22 years and is still working at resolving issues stemming from his childhood and upbringing. I would think that at this stage, or perhaps long before this time, he would have concluded that it is not working and he should try something else. But no, he is still convinced, despite the lack of any evidence, that he needs more therapy. This devotion strikes me as a bit fanatical.
But it is far from unusual in orgonomic circles. Many people go into therapy with such high expectations that they can never quite bring themselves to admit it is not working. They remain in therapy for a lifetime, often at great expense that they can ill-afford, at at the cost of relationships that are often severely strained by their commitment to therapy. In the relatively few cases of eventual success, the beneficial results seem much more likely to depend on the individual personality of the particular therapist than on what type of therapy he happens to be providing.
These therapy-junkies typically consider therapy the most important aspect of the comprehensive legacy of Reich, and refuse to get involved in, or even to take seriously, any of the scientific, socio-political, or ecological issues that derive from that huge body of work. By devoting themselves solely to their own personal salvation, they ignore the stark need of the world for a body of workers in the broad field of orgonomy and focus on introspective self-gratification to the neglect of the health of the society they live in and the planet they live on. As far as anyone else is concerned, if they had taken up Yoga or some other form of meditation, or, for that matter, any religion, the results would be the same.
Reich was not very successful in developing a method of psychotherapy. I think he was correct about psychosomatic unity and the functioning of the chronic muscular tensions as a form of defense. I think he was right about how armoring forms and the role of sexual repression in the process. But when it came to inventing an effective way to remove armor in the adult, nothing worked very well. Reich knew this. He was never satisfied with any of the techniques he developed, and was constantly changing his methods. He finally gave up doing therapy and went into laboratory research full-time, years after he wanted to, because he had been forced to stick to therapy to make a living long after he knew it did not work.
Throughout his career, starting right from the beginning, in 1927, he insisted that treating already sick, damaged adults was not cost-effective and he urged his collegues, and later, his students, to forget about treating adults and focus on prevention of neurosis by changing the way children were brought up. He was saying this in 1927 to other psychoanalysts, and he was still saying it in 1953 in the Murder of Christ.
None of his followers took him seriously. They all had come to him, not just for job training, but more importantly, for solving their own personal hang-ups. They could not bear to think their own case was hopeless and they were doomed to go through life as they were. They HAD to believe the therapy worked.
Only one orgonomist, Michael Rothenberg, took seriously what Reich kept saying and went into child psychiatry as a specialty. Rothenbergy was the only pediatric orgonomist in the world. And he was the only one of them who made it to the big time in the big world outside orgonomy. Rothenberg became the partner of Dr. Benjamin Spock and co-author with Spock of the last edition of Spock's famous book on how to bring up babies. As the designated successor to Spock, he became the most influencial pediatrician in America.
All the other orgonomist continued treating adults, even though they must have known they were not having any success. They just could not tolerate the knowledge, so they blotted it out and convinced themselves they were practicing an effective method of treatment when all the evidence was that they were not. And even though they could have made just as good a living, possibly even better, if they had gone into treating children instead.
I too have met several hundred ''graduates'' of Reichian therapy. None of them struck me as emotionally any healthier than the general run of the population. Many of them were in fact, obviously very neurotic. I have met Reichians who are hard-core right-wingers, and Reichians who are hard-core leftists, Reichians who are born-again Christians, orthodox Jews, Buddists, atheists, and into New-Age beliefs. I have met Reichians who keep very messy houses, wear glasses, and live with their mothers. I have met people who still, after therapy, are alcoholics, watch football games, and consider orgone energy a fantasy of one man. I have never met a person who had had Reichian therapy and could convince me he was any better off for it, although almost all of them think they are.
I have personally observed the effects of orgone energy in the orgone accumulator, the orgone blanket, the cloudbuster, oranur experiment, melanor, orene, Experiment XX, and other demonstrations. I am as fully convinced of the validity of orgone biophysics as I am of the existence of the planet earth. Anyone saying cloudbusters do not work is just as silly as someone saying airplanes cannot fly. But when it comes to therapy, I think Reich never developed a method that did much good and he himself knew it.
I have suggested that those who promote Reichian therapy and make a living from it should put it to the test. A new medical treatment must be shown to be effective before it can be marketed. Orgone therapy should be required to meet the same standard that any other form of medical treatment is required to meet. And the practicioners must be prepared to give it up and practice some other method of treatment if it does not pass the test.
There are two ways to test orgone therapy statistically. One would be to have patients fill out a standard personality profile questionaire before starting therapy, and again at set intervals while in treatment, and at the final conclusion of treatment. Before and after changes in personality should be obvious.
The other way would be to compare a sample, say about 100 individuals, who have successfully completed therapy with a similiar sized group of people who have never had any form of psychological treatment, selected at random from the general population.
I consider it highly unlikely that graduates of Reichian therapy would score any healthier than the control group. And until some such formal test has been done, there is simply no evidence that Reichian therapy has any better effect that any other form of therapy or other method of inducing personality change, such as religious conversion or reading self-help books. The subjective opinions of persons who are emotionally involved in it as patients, or economically dependent on it as therapists are not evidence.
For what it is worth, Eva Reich agreed with me. I spoke to her about it, and she said that was why she had gone into working only with children, not adults.
Orgonomists are selling something they cannot deliver. At least if you buy an orgone accumulator, you get something for your money.
There is a song that seems appropriate here:
You can't buy your way to Heaven from a preacher on T.V. /
He's just another businessman is how it seems to me /
He can't get you into Heaven or keep you out of Hell /
He's just another salesman with merchandise to sell /
He's cashing in on Jesus, that's all he's standing for /
So pass the tar and feathers, Hallelujah, praise the Lord! /