Inter-somatic Libidinal Economy: Excitation and Power

Was spricht die tiefe Mitternacht?

Contrary to academic belief, one does not gain an understanding of libidinal economy by reading books. In Ether, God and Devil, Wilhelm Reich explains that the most powerful research tool in the orgonomist’s arsenal is subjective organ sensation (1). In fact, one’s perception depends upon one’s sensory awareness of the soma’s dynamics. For instance, the reductionist scientist can’t entertain the possibility of libidinal energy because his entire character structure, notwithstanding his subliminatory occupation, serves to repress it. Thus he perceives the world to the degree he perceives himself; his cosmology is an allegory and a confession of a repressed tragedy. In the beginning, there was a singularity of pure energy. It became imprisoned in matter and now slowly peters out into oblivion, in accordance with “laws.” He is no better than the mystic with his Eden and Fall, but at least the mystic believes in the Resurrection!

Moreover, we are confronted with the unusual perceptions associated with the failure of armoring in psychosis. The schizophrenic’s inability to identify his visceral sensations and subsequent attribution thereof to the external compromises reliable navigation of the world. Though a feeling of cosmic unity is gained, it is impractical, to say the least. Again, we find that perception has a relationship to sex-economy, particularly to armoring: less is more. What then can be said about the anomalies allegedly observed at Orgonon outside of Rangley, Maine? Were Reich and his associates suffering from mass psychosis, or had they to some degree escaped Plato’s cave through the deconstruction of inhibitory mechanisms?

Let us look to the Orient and find techniques which both seem to counter armoring and are purported to enhance perception. For instance, in the tradition of kundalini yoga, there are thought to be several energetic loci, the chakras, situated on the spine. An energy originating at the base of the spine is said to ascend through these loci to the forehead, this coinciding with the practitioner’s endowment with divine understanding and awareness (2). Similarly, orgone therapy is tasked with the dissolution of seven segments of muscle armoring oriented perpendicularly to the spine. Armoring and the emotional plague are accused of preventing mankind from discovering the cosmic orgone energy. Moreover, the practitioners of qigong, which in Chinese means ‘bio-energy work,’ are concerned with “opening the qi gates” through which qi, a biological and atmospheric (4) energy, passes. According to qigong master Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, one purpose of his art is to prevent energetic stagnation and subsequent damage to the organs. This is done by assuming various postures, some of which are reminiscent of movements from Alexander Lowen’s somatic psychotherapy, bio-energetic analysis. The traditional Chinese medical paradigm is similar to orgonomy, because in orgonomy, stagnation of somatic energy is thought to cause diseases such as neurosis and cancer. Like kundalini yoga, qigong is sometimes concerned with “enlightenment” by means of energy ascending the spine. The Daoist method for this entails the direction of qi from the kidneys up into the brain (5). Here, without explaining the enormous difference between orgonomy and these traditions, I hope to illustrate that the consideration of biological energy with regards to pathological, ordinary and extraordinary perception is much older than orgonomy. Reich came to his conclusions independently of his ancient Eastern counterparts through investigation into the quantitative problem of libido and the inadequacies of Freudian psychoanalysis.

It is not my intention to convince the skeptics, though I anticipate the day when every tool with which they evade this energy is stripped away from them. To the practitioners of yoga and qigong, to the convalescent and many ordinary people, a somatic and inter-somatic biological energy is obvious, as evidenced by colloquial language. In his The Mystery of the Cathedrals, philosopher Fulcanelli says of such language which he calls cant, this:

…cant is spoken by the humble people, the poor, the despised, the rebels, calling for liberty and independence, the outlaws, the tramps and the wanderers. Cant is the cursed dialect, banned by high society, by the nobility (who are really so little noble), the well-fed and self-satisfied middle class, luxuriating in the ermine of their ignorance and fatuity…I would add that argot (cant) is one of the forms derived from the Language of the Birds, parent and doyen of all other languages – the one spoken by philosophers and diplomats…To them [the ancient Incas – M.G.] it was the key to the double science, sacred and profane. In the Middle Ages it was called the Gay Science…men spoke it before the building of the Tower of Babel.

In other words, cant is rejected by high society and descends from a sacred and profane tongue which can unite men in a construction project so ambitious, it would make God Himself fear His usurpation. The Language of the Birds, from which cant is derived, refers to the hidden, communicative order inherent to nature, viz. the inter-somatic libidinal economy (ILE). It is a language only understood by the likes of the dragon-killer Siegfried (7), who symbolizes the confronter of repressed pelvic terror. Clearly, the academy since its inception has been unequipped to study this phenomenon, despite a few heroic efforts by Lyotard, Deleuze and others. Is reading, writing and lecturing not vanity and sublimation? Academia is not so honest with itself. Its research is an escape from the body and its conventions are couched in the very politics it claims despise, an inescapable politics. Academia can never happen upon ILE because of its thoroughly subliminatory nature.

The Physiology of Cathexis

With academia surrendering its duty to explore this subject-matter, politics eagerly takes its place. Or perhaps it is better said that politics has been concerned with libidinal economy since before the first humans stood erect. Let us begin our investigation by exploring the process of cathexis, to wit, libidinal investment. First, it must be said that there is a fundamental erotic pulsion in organisms which inspires their reaching out into the world. Reich believed the pulsion to be a consequence of organismic orgonity (א). The default mode of orgone is characterized by gentle motility and cosmic superimposition, viz. the union of orgonotic systems and infinitesimals. Superimposition, the most basic function of the orgone is most notably recapitulated in sex but it is also thought to underpin a variety of material, biological, atmospheric and galactic processes.

Thus the default mode of this energy is pulsatory and erotic. Similarly, parasympatheticonia is the default autonomic disposition of organisms. However, under certain circumstances, the organism is inspired to hide that which makes it alive from the covetous and predatory who wish to assimilate such vitality into their own beings. In physiology, this is called the sympathetic response. Here the organism is sympathetic to some perceived danger it must anticipate and react to. It must be noted that all organisms, whether they have nervous systems or not, display these two modes of being in the same circumstances: parasympatheticonia in perceived safety and sympatheticonia in perceived danger. That being said, the organism is perpetually under the implied threat of death, it seems; if homeostasis is ceased, death ensues, it seems. Biological blackmail. Therefore, as long as they respire, organisms exist in a constant low-grade sympatheticonia, an arousing dialogue with the environment (8).

In other words, staying alive seems to require work and if that work is ceased, death must follow. Presumably, such work consists of the displacement and deformation of biological molecules, e.g. in signal transduction, protein folding, muscle fiber recruitment &c. The body has many ways of adapting to environmental stimuli including regulating temperature, developing immunity, hypertrophy and atrophy of the muscles &c, many of which seem to require work. Other adaptations, like the habituation of a slime mold to the presence of a bitter substance (9), seem to entail a relaxation of the organism, although this may only be possible by virtue of a labor concerned with absorption and cataloging of such substances (10). In higher animals, we find more sophisticated behavioral adaptations.

I have treated on the homeostatic function of sympatheticonia, but let us now explore the acute stress response, something which is not entirely distinguishable from homeostasis. Across all phyla, we see a general contraction of the organism in acute stress, from the shy amoeba retracting its pseudopods, to the tortoise withdrawing its limbs. This response coincides with the fortification of organismic boundaries, an increase in separateness from the environment and, I would argue, increased individual subjectivity. Its function is to prepare the organism to destroy or escape that which frustrates its parasympathetic existence. The therapy character analysis first showed that these mechanisms employ libidinal energy and their activation necessarily creates a state of tension; the organism is aroused and suspended above the default parasympatheticonia.

Since parasympatheticonia is characterized by regenerative processes, all sympathetic processes carry opportunity costs. Evidently, the expenditure of energy on sympathetic processes can be beneficial insofar as prolonging incarnation is a benefit. Thus the organism invests energy in the upholding of adaptive states to meet environmental demands. Once whatever inspired such defensiveness is gone, the organism must divest if it would resume its erotic life. Whoever fails to liquidate such investments in their lifetime, assuredly, their children will inherit them. That is the curious situation of the emotional plague, the epidemic of armoring whose effects are all its causes and whose causes are all its effects.

The armoring described by Wilhelm Reich is a pathological extension of our natural autonomic faculties. However, the stimuli to which the armored character has adapted are not exactly immediate. Ostensibly, they have long since passed. Strangely enough, their anticipation invites analogous stimuli into the life of the armored character. If such anticipation is somehow forgone, an acute terror arises. It is as if the anticipation itself is a vital necessity. Inquiry into the economic problem of libido has elucidated this seemingly absurd situation. Reich discovered that healthy emotional expressions of all kinds roughly mirror the orgastic function in that tension is accumulated and then completely discharged, ad infinitum. Neurosis is caused by some stasis at any point in the cycle. Ideally, pulsions should manifest as outward expressions but, because of the pervasive atmosphere of biophobia throughout history, children have always had to conceal their desire under perceived threat of destruction, usually by the same-sexed parent. Because the pulsions must take place regardless, they are directed inwardly through the perpetual contraction of the muscles which would otherwise be mobilized in the outward expression of such pulsions. The act contraction consumes the libido of the now repressed pulsions.

Let us recall that, for a child, the historic family setting is characterized by wild oscillations between libidinality and terror. This results from the antithesis between the vitality of the unarmored child and the character structures of the caregivers (ב).The infant is unarmored and, notwithstanding the morphological investments that together are the material soma, its libido is basically un-invested and apparent. The character structures of the armored caregivers are anti-libidinal and are therefore disturbed by the infant’s unbounded expression. Just as they would quell any unbounded libido within themselves through sublimation and other types of repression, they similarly offend the vitality of their children through circumcision, schooling, encouraging relative affectnessless, and most importantly, signaling disapproval or terror at various libidinal franchises. Thus the libidinal economy of the individual caregiver does not end with the skin, but rather extends to other bodies, as evidenced by the child’s disequilibration thereof.

As I said before, the default mode of being for organisms is parasympatheticonia, this being characterized by growth, regeneration and eroticism. Therefore, the most natural thing about children and life in general is at odds with the anti-libidinal character structure and evokes hostility therefrom. This hostility constitutes an aggression against the child, who, as a consequence, naturally enters a state of sympatheticonia, a general contraction of the organism. Analysis of neurotics’ repressed complexes has shown that children often perceive a threat of destruction, castration or abandonment (11) when their caregivers act with such belligerence. In this state of adrenalism, biological energy is invested in the contraction of the muscles and other sympathetic processes. Divestment from this state entails the return to baseline eroticism and parasympatheticonia. Especially in the denouement of the oedipal situation, such divestment is sure to evoke ire from caregivers and other self-murdered characters. Simultaneously, more and more responsibilities are foisted upon the child, these serving to consume frustrated libido as well as prepare him or her for initiation into the workforce, which is to say, those who force themselves to work. To adapt to a life-negating culture in which they are constantly under duress and discouraged from being themselves, children take refuge on the sympathetic pole of these aforementioned oscillations. Thus they enter into and remain in a pre-cathartic state of perpetual vigilance, censoring authentic motor expressions of sexuality through muscle armoring.

Thus the typical person, Homo normalis as Reich would say, is in a constant state of anxiety. In fact, the object of historic child-rearing is the transvaluation of pleasure and anxiety. In the scenario described above, true pleasure becomes almost inseparably associated with destruction while discomfort and anxiety become pleasurable in comparison. Relaxation subsequently becomes intolerable to a degree and, depending on individual differences, a certain portion of somatic energies must always be employed or anxiety will result. Therefore, we uphold cathexes in order to equilibrate sex-economy when orgastic impotence precludes the discharge of libidinal stases.

What is Power?

Many disparate facts have been put forth thusfar; eventually, they will be tied together…

Not only is orgone energy the currency of libidinal economy; it is also the currency of political economy. I believe that all power relations are quasi-fatalistic epiphenomena of the orgone. Let us explore the misunderstood concept of power before these dynamics are explained. Power, even political power, is energy’s capacity to do work in time. Field guns are rolled, pencils are pushed, skulls cracked &c. However, power is not something that we have, but something that has us. We are only powerful, viz. full of power, insofar as we surrender to this energy. This is the source of power in the animal kingdom. With humans, what is called power is actually weakness, as the princes of Earth despise the most precious thing. Abetting their subjects in their own miserable occupation, these princes are able to keep themselves in a perpetual state of excitation. This ensures the perpetuation of their neuroses and that they never divest from their characterological defenses. They are rigidified and libidinally incontinent and their lives are hell because they must drown any inkling of authentic vitality in sublimation as soon as it arises. They can never let go. There is no greater poverty than to be Oedipus Rex, Rex Oediporum.

Remarkably, these people seem to have control over others. In actuality, they have merely by birth, effort or chance found themselves atop what amounts to a festering tumor leeching the vitality from of our races. Moreover, their subjects are responsible for their own misery and we must never insult them by attempting to deprive them of this honor. We must now ask the classic Reichian question: how do people come to desire their own repression? The same mechanism whereby children take refuge in sympatheticonia to “identify with the father” is the source of all tyranny. The character structure of Homo normalis is held in armoring by an acute fear of divestment. As soon as the people become more free, the ILE, itself arising from the collective of somatic libidinal economies, becomes disequilibrated. The freed or unemployed energy is quickly exhausted with either a Reign of Terror, a Red Terror or some other kind of terror; they are truly tiresome! This is universally followed by the reinstitution of a despot who is charged implicitly with equilibrating the ILE. In fact, the state is itself a cathexis which serves to, on the one hand, exhaust the intolerable energies of all those who labor to uphold it, and on the other, repress libidinality (freedom) as much as it can without jeopardizing its own continuity. Historic child-rearing instills in Homo normalis a craving for repression and authority which in turn functions to conceal the erotic energy conditionally associated with destruction (castration). For all these reasons, the masses coalesce under the princes into the great machine tasked primarily with burning its fuel – the motley cow.

In order to understand human political economy, we must first explore animal political economy, something that is very different in some regards, either by lack of complexity or because of the absence of the emotional plague. Animals are subject to various pulsions which are probably consequent to incarnation and orgonity. In the words of Deleuze and Guattari, “Desire does not express a molar lack within the subject; rather, the molar organization deprives desire of its objective being (12).” Here, desire (orgone) is a fundamental substance whose coagulation as material begets a morphology animated by desire according to structural properties. Animals accumulate orgone energy by virtue of its negentropic action. The energy is exhausted through inspired behaviors which seem to promote continued incarnation and reproduction. Further, the nature of these behaviors depends upon specific capabilities based in morphology. There seems to exist an intolerance of energy across the whole biosphere whereby organisms must always work and move, if only at the cellular level. Onlookers say that the organism desires something which it does not have and then works to get it. I believe that desire is a function of orgonotic superimposition, wherein the fundamental energies of two systems merge, e.g. with predator and prey. All ascriptions of negative, lack-based desire arise from the armored character structure that has transvaluated pleasure and anxiety and mistakes the advent of true life for death. To such characters, being itself is abhorred while disembodying bromides are sought to approach some Apollonian ideal. That is what the vulgar call ‘want,’ which means ‘lack.’ True “desire does not lack anything… it is rather the subject that is missing in desire, or desire that lacks a fixed subject. There is no fixed subject unless there is repression (13).”

So we have a multitude of animal pulsions expressed through various actions. The observable portion of a pulsion, the expression, is inherently cathartic. An animal “seeks above all to discharge its strength (14),” says Nietzsche, and descend from excitation (into parasympatheticonia) in order to profit from whatever cathexis it has just divested from. However, in the natural world, there are scarce opportunities to relieve the tension which arises from incarnation. These include mates, food, spatial positions, movements and visceral expressions, some having certain social meanings. In many of these opportunities, only a limited number of individuals and a finite quantity of tension can be relieved. Therefore, in animal ILE, certain individuals exhaust themselves in cathartic opportunities more immediately than others. The submissive animals who have deferred to these must, until the more dominant animals are satiated, exhaust their own energies with various gestures. These gestures are conversions – sublimations – of the rage arising from the frustration of their wills by animals whom they cannot overcome (ג.). This means that in animal hierarchy, the most dominant individuals have the most honest expression, the smallest quantities of chronically invested libido, and the least complicated sex-economies. Conversely, the archons of historic human society seem to have the most chronic investments; many of these characterological defenses are externalized onto property and institutions.

Every Political Economy is Orgonotic

Wherever there is sensation or perception, there is somatic excitation. In Ether, God and Devil, Reich tells us that“sensation is a function of excitation; that, in other words, there is a functional identity between the [ordinal – M.G.] quantity of excitation and the intensity of sensation (15).” Although it is not that useful to delineate so, sensation here can be thought of as the subjective element of this functional identity. Excitation, on the other hand, refers to an objective and physical orgonotic charge in the soma. The degree to which an organism is armored is inversely correlated with its tolerance of somatic excitation and by extension, sensation. Therefore, the armored character, and to a lesser extent, the submissive animal, is handicapped in sensation. If it were to perceive certain stimuli, the concomitant excitation would disequilibrate its sex-economy, creating an uncomfortable tension which the organism would seek to resolve by avoiding, escaping or destroying said stimuli. This desensitization functions to protect the autonomic investments which guarantee the organism’s continued sex-economic equilibrium, this usually coinciding with “survival.”

In animal and human political economy, it is the intolerance of excitation which makes one individual defer to another. Let me outline this ancient episode of which the fundamental transactions of historic society are hideous distortions. First, cathartic opportunities arise in nature and individuals become attracted to them, perhaps via cosmic superimposition. Next, sympathetic arousal occurs in these individuals, presumably because of the finitude and infrequency of the opportunities and the fact that others are attracted as well and would have them for themselves. As I said before, the sympathetic response prepares an organism to destroy or escape that which frustrates its erotic parasympatheticonia – in this case, the competitors. What is it then that makes an organism either fight or flee in such situations? It is the degree to which it can tolerate the excitation evoked by its perception of the frustrating agent. Rarely, this perception includes the mechanical sensation of the competitor’s body in combat. Usually it is a glance, an odor, a subpoena or something to that effect – some kind of non-violent, albeit aggressive contact. To the deferring individual, the intolerance of this contact is greater than the intolerance of the initial tension which inspired its attraction to the cathartic opportunity. Therefore it restrains or represses desire through subliminatory gestures (ד). This is the same reason why destructive rage felt towards the same-sexed parent is repressed and transmuted into anxiety bound in muscle armoring.

To varying degrees, all subordinate animals seem to be afflicted by something that resembles armoring in which expression and concomitant pulsation of the soma are inhibited. The pursuit of such ideas may give us insight into the origin of the emotional plague. Though armoring is a function of our natural, autonomic faculties, there are, in practice, significant differences between the politics of history and those of animals. For instance, the most influential, formative experiences of children in historic society are determined not by rational anticipation of the environment, but by pathological biophobia in adults. These experiences lay the groundwork for a neurotic, constipated ILE complete with the gross excesses of historic political economy. Many of our investments serve to abet society’s ignorance and concealment of its obvious mass sexual dysfunction and general absurdity. The child’s expression is not stifled to avoid alerting some wild beast. It is stifled to spare everyone from realizing that they were formerly living, pulsating beings that were afflicted with a disease supposed not to be a disease. The animal’s intolerance pertains to immediate, concrete threats rather than temporally displaced potentialities and long passed events.

Neurosis in humans is synonymous with orgastic impotence (16), the inability to have the orgasm reflex (ה). The convulsions of this reflex discharge libidinal stases through mechanical work but are precluded by muscle armoring, especially of the pelvis. Its function? to equilibrate sex-economy. When the environment encourages the repression of eroticism, sex-economy must be equilibrated through armoring and sublimation. The neurotic sex-economy, overloaded with investments, binds energy in corpuscles which can only be accessed through expression of the repressed. Since divestment is conditionally intolerable, a constant, unconscious effort is made which, being a labor, itself prevents the parasympatheticonia prerequisite to the orgasm reflex. The neurotic cannot discharge a quantity of libido equal to that which he or she has accumulated. Since almost everyone is an orgasically impotent neurotic, intolerable erotic energies must be exhausted in production, commerce, war, bureaucracy, religious ritual &c. What then can be said about the mammalian “tournament species” in which most males never have sex? Are most bighorn rams neurotic? Why are their gestures of deference sufficient to equilibrate their ILEs such that they don’t spiral out of balance, into civilization? Perhaps they haven’t been given enough time … What are we?

Homo normalis’s intolerance of excitation makes him vulnerable to various political and economic devices. For instance, the reservoirs of repressed drive energy existing in populations of young men are vented through war. Mass orgastic potency would theoretically prevent such tensions from arising in the first place. Similarly, this intolerance inspires his excessive laboring. In the absence of the repressive family structure, the labor situation takes on its role, ensuring the integrity of the cathexes and libido-metabolic pathways hewn in childhood and adolescence. All Homo normalis has ever known, save the antelapsarian ecstasy of infancy (this not merely reducible to the breast), is the squandering of libido such that the terror and purity of erotic being is escaped. Therefore, and as we know from history, he is perfectly reconciled to “oppression,” which is merely the epiphenomenon and complementary aspect of repression, the latter resulting in and inviting the former. Furthermore, he is vulnerable to talismanic words and images published by the media which convince him to equate repressed desires, fears and characterological dispositions with people those “in power” want to destroy or alienate (17).

As Blake’s Devil says in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, “Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained… And being restrain’d it by degrees becomes passive till it is only the shadow of desire (18).” That is to say, desires are identical to actions which take place, not hopes and dreams. Fantasy is an expression of a desire to fantasize, not of a desire to experience the fantastic content. Our language even betrays this; we say “I will…” which once meant both “I desire…” and “I am going to…” Moreover, when energy is invested in armoring – characterological, muscular, institutional armoring – instead of expression, a congestion of the libido-metabolic pathways occurs. This results in a pathological sex-economic equilibrium whose disturbance evokes dread. Following this encrustation is anorgonity and a withering away of the organism. The constant rejection of power unsurprisingly ends in helplessness. Eventually we get today’s absurd situation: people who hate power using what little power they have to exhaust their power under the guise of demanding power – power which continually offers itself to every living organism for free. Next to them, the damned trying to save. Until Homo normalis rewrites the past and transmutes every “it was” into a “thus I willed it (19),” until he accepts that his character structure, over which he has control, is inseparable from the conditions he inhabits, and that his choices ultimately created the conditions, he will always be a slave and love it. Many people may already be too traumatized to do this and it is ridiculous to expect the living to contort their modes of being into something easily digestible to them because to do so would be a repressive negation of life.

Inter-somatic Armoring

If libidinal economy exists between bodies, it follows that inter-somatic armoring exists as well. Obviously, we are not connected to each other by muscle tissue. And though I am ignorant about the atmospheric orgone, its motility and stagnation, I believe these things influence ILE if only because the climate determines the quality and frequency of cathartic opportunities in nature. However, what I want to treat on is the inter-somatic repression of pulsions whereby individuals irrationally aggress against each others’ expressiveness. Unlike those in animal political economy, the offenses inherent to historic society are irrational from a sex-economic point of view. That is to say, the aggression an animal employs to capitalize on scarce, cathartic opportunities is necessary for the greatest possible discharge of static libido. The expressions of the competitors are in part repressed by the victorious animal, but for a rational, life-affirming reason. Conversely, the hostility of Homo normalis towards the expressions of children, strangers, eccentrics, psychotics and other undesirables does not usually guarantee an opportunity to divest from sympatheticonia. Its purpose is rather to safeguard and prolong the investments which together form the historic character structure and, by extension, the culture and state. In theory, a predictable cultural milieu should allow for catharsis because of the infrequency of shocking events. In our situation, it does not, partly because culture’s signature predictability itself arises from the aggregate of neuroses which only persist because catharsis is forever delayed.

Culture is identical to and inseparable from ILE, complete with adaptations, investments, repressions and sublimations. The labyrinthine route libido traverses through armoring in convalescence may be recapitulated in the complicated rituals of courtship and marriage. The compulsive mannerisms of the neurotic may be recapitulated in manners, religious ritual and other anti-libidinal conventions. The violent contraction of the muscular system against pulsions is recapitulated in law enforcement. The layered structure of character and the congested libido-metabolic pathways are recapitulated in bureaucracy. The madhouse is society’s pelvis. All the various institutions function to manage our antisocial pulsions through repression, primarily in the form of sublimation, foolishly guaranteeing their immortality.

Inter-somatic armoring is visible when somebody is doing something unusual which evokes the disapproving glances of others. Having so glanced, I realized this behavior arises from an aversion to empathizing with such actors which itself is indistinguishable from a fear of acting as they have acted. Often this is done under the pretext of curiosity but it functions to arouse within the eccentric anxiety regarding his standing within the group. The eccentric is implicitly expected to alleviate the tension his actions evoke through self-censorship (repression) or be ostracized. If his repression of his self is insufficient, assuredly the ILE will equilibrate itself by cutting him off, in the same way a child in the oedipal situation cuts off his or her genitals from the rest of the body by chronically contracting the pelvic muscles. Thus the eccentric’s libidinality is akin to orgonotic currents in the body politic, challenging inter-somatic armoring. One must only look at the life and career of Wilhelm Reich to understand this.

Absconded from the rational, mutually utilitarian social dynamics which effortlessly result from the honest expression of pulsions, Homo normalis has created a paranoiac political economy characterized by conformity, inauthenticity, repression and fear. People will do the most self-destructive and cowardly things if only they are considered normal. Medically optimal modes of living are often antithetical to these standards. However, I have found that because most people today are so ridden with guilt and uncertainty about how-one-ought-to-act, and because of the increasing scrambling of societal codes, expressions of libidinality are now more likely to be met with avoidance than with hostility. Today, Homo normalis has at his disposal more avenues of escape than ever before. Historically, hewas forced to look at the eccentric and be affected by his contact therewith. These new avenues of escape allow him to repress through distraction the sensations corresponding to his perceiving of the eccentric. Moreover, this avoidance is much easier than his former persecution thereof and doesn’t require repression on the eccentric’s end. In other words, incredible opportunities never before seen in history are arising as the weary neutralize themselves with technological bromides.

Furthermore, the externalization of characterological defenses onto technology continually atrophies peoples’ capacity to tolerate visceral excitation. Not only is visceral excitation repressed by the operation of technology; technology creates precarious spaces which deceive our senses and inspire our divestment from beneficial cathexes. Atrophy of this tolerance necessarily coincides with the atrophy of perception and the capacity to wield power (orgone). On the substrate of our propensity to escape, technology, the seducer, quietly grows like a cancer. It makes our load lighter but the despisers of energy need to carry heavy weights. If things are too easy, we will make problems for ourselves; is that not the essence of neurosis? Problems, the despisers maintain, require machines, which make our loads lighter ad infinitum, this accursed ring, until the Rhine overflows its banks at Ragnarok and baptizes the new world (20).

But until and after then, the lovers of being will refine their science and discover better ways to live. One account has it that the prophet Zarathustra told the higher men this on the evening they dined in his cave:

…the hour approaches—the hour when I shiver and freeze, which asks and asks and asks, “Who has heart enough for it? Who shall be the lord of the earth? Who will say: thus shall you run, you big and little rivers!” … The purest shall be the lords of the earth—the most unknown, the strongest, the midnight souls who are brighter and deeper than any day (21).

The lovers of being will become more natural than nature herself. Man is the animal that can shape his perceptions, design his environment and thereby revise his investments … an exhortation sure to confound! I have not said anything new, but merely published it. When Prometheus stole fire from the gods, he knew that some would burn themselves with it!


(א) Orgonity is the “condition of containing orgone energy; the quality of orgone energy contained” according to the glossary of Wilhelm Reich’s Selected Writings published by the Noonday Press.

(ב) The oedipal situation is ensconced in a greater rhizome of armoring which unites it with various repressive processes operating throughout the social field and possibly the cosmos in general. Thus the social milieu inspires the oedipalization of the vital infant through the general rejection of expressiveness and biological pulsation. Meanwhile, the next generation of Oedipuses and Elektras come to uphold the repressiveness of society by seeking to employ, and therefore repress, all antelapsarian energies, especially those of their own children.

(ג) Orgonomy has shown that the natural function of rage is to destroy whatever frustrates parasympatheticonia, something the cathartic opportunity guarantees. Moreover, it has shown that when a pulsion does not manifest outwardly as an expression, its libido must be consumed in some other way.

(ד) I make these claims after almost six years of investigation into autonomic function and libidinal economy. It was not done in a library or a laboratory, but through thousands of social experiments and observations of people of all kinds as well as domestic and wild animals and plants. I ascribe my findings to all species because of the universal conservation of autonomic function in life. Of course, there are many ethological variations and nuances outside the scope of this article. Moreover, I may be wrong about everything.

(ה) The orgasm reflex is “the unitary, involuntary convulsion of the total organism at the acme of genital embrace. This reflex, because of its involuntary character and the prevailing orgasm anxiety, is blocked in most humans in civilizations that suppress infantile and adolescent genitality” according to the glossary of Wilhelm Reich’s Selected Writings published by the Noonday Press.

(1) Reich, Wilhelm – Ether, God and Devil pg. 61


(3) Yang, Jwing Ming – The root of Chinese Qigong pg. 58

(4) Yang – The root of Chinese Qigong pg. 38

(5) Yang – The root of Chinese Qigong pg. 75

(6) Fulcanelli – The Mystery of the Cathedrals pg. 42-44

(7) Wagner, Richard – Siegfried Act II, Scene 2



(11) Lowen, Alexander – Fear of Life pg. 32-33, 166-171

(12) Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Félix – Anti-Oedipus pg. 27

(13) Deleuze and Guattari – Anti-Oedipus pg. 26

(14) Nietzsche, Friedrich – Beyond Good and Evil paragraph 13

(15) Reich – Ether, God and Devil pg. 80

(16) Reich – The Function of the Orgasm pg. 102

(17) Reich – The Function of the Orgasm pg. 244-247

(18) Blake, William – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Plate V. The Voice of the Devil

(19) Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra discourse XLII. Redemption

(20) Wagner – GötterdämmerungAct III, Scene 3

(21) Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra discourse LXXIX. The Drunken Song


Corrupting the Youth

The most glaring similarity between Wilhelm Reich and Socrates is that the two men were put on trial for crimes that were not crimes at all. Socrates was accused of blasphemy and corrupting the youth, ancient analogues of questioning the status quo and interfering with culture’s manufacture of docile workers. His defense consisted of claiming that he was rather a priceless benefit to society and that people’s anger towards him arose from their desire to wallow in ignorance. Reich, on the other hand, was arrested for contempt of court, among other things, after being accused of shipping orgone accumulators across state lines without FDA approval. He wrote to the court saying that it had no authority to evaluate scientific claims, something that can only be done by the scientific community. He allegedly died of heart failure in prison (1).

Like Socrates, Reich is certainly guilty of what some people would call corrupting the youth. He believed that providing privacy and contraception for adolescents is one of the most effective ways of combating all social ills. For a long time, the idea that sexual activity is not a medicine but a corrosive agent has enjoyed great popularity. After a failed sexual revolution, the idea is returning. But what is the mechanism of its corrosion? Let us look to the conclusions of clinical orgone therapy and its antecedent, character analysis.

Briefly, there is nothing mystical about orgone, despite what slanderers and New Age appropriators would have you believe. Reich discovered that upon an analysand’s divestment from cathexes, strange pulsations would occur in the soma. In other words, when one’s ego defense mechanisms are disarmed, various physiological phenomena such as flushing of the skin, vomiting, tremors, improved digestion, sensations of currents in the soma, &c. temporarily appear. I have listed the symptoms most relevant to our purposes: those which indicate waves propagated in the super-saturated fluid that is the human body. According to classical mechanics, waves do not propagate and bodies do not move without energy. This is the bare-minimum, most conservative definition of orgone I can conceive of. Reich’s more fantastic-sounding claims about orgone energy can be discussed later, but for our purposes, this will suffice. From a psychoanalytic framework, the ego is shown to exist in the soma as the sum of chronically held muscular contractions (muscle armoring) which conceal and consume this energy, while the pulsions of the id – the emotions – are identical to the freely circulating currents.

Now, back to sexuality’s corruption of the youth. We know from orgone therapy that muscle armoring functions to limit one’s vitality, desire and expression. It is the somatic component of the anti-libidinal character structure, whose erection is erroneously called psycho-sexual development. Rather, the historic character structure is for the most part pathological, hence the world it has created. It is founded on the negation of the pulsions that allow us to fulfil our needs and attain that which is necessary for survival. The goal of character analysis was to deconstruct the pathological character structure insofar as it inhibits the body’s natural, spontaneous convalescence and sex-economic self-regulation.

That is to say neuroses would spontaneously begin to resolve themselves were it not for the fact that the ego constantly disrupts this process. As soon as a child is wounded by the negation of his or her vitality at the hands of historic child-rearers, convalescence begins as it would with any other wound. It is identical to the expression of emotion, this itself entailing the pulsation of the soma and the movement of biological energy therein. And yet, this most basic reaction, exhibited by all life, is intolerable to the dysfunctional witnesses, the alleged guardians. Since children love their parents and fear disapproval, violence and abandonment, and since their displays of aliveness elicit hostility and disgust, they adapt to the situation by entering into and remaining in a pre-cathartic state. It is a chronic sympatheticonia, hence the contraction of the muscles which would otherwise be involved in the expression of emotion. Until these emotions are expressed, the muscles which are used to repress them will remain contracted, it has been found.

Neuroses, now known to be symptoms of more fundamental biopathies, are caused by this interruption of the cycle of arousal and relaxation proper to the expression of pulsions. Therefore, the purpose of Reichian therapy is to have the analysand divest from unnecessary energetic investments in sympatheticonia (libidinal cathexes). This is easier said than done because our character structures are comprised of layered defense mechanisms which form biographically. The structure’s oldest, most fundamental layers repress the rage any organism embodies when its sovereign libidinality is unjustly aggressed against, e.g. in the parent-child conflict. Due to socio-familial intolerance of expression, a pantheon of subsequent defenses must be formed to exhaust, divert and conceal libido. These manifest as segments of muscle armoring. The libidinal stases upheld by the oldest characterological layers cannot be accessed until the overlying layers are broken through. This is so because the overlying layers are themselves defense mechanisms which repress the more fundamental layers.

Orgone therapy and character analytic “vegetotherapy” have shown that libido, i.e. biological energy, is the only agent that can corrode the segments of muscle armoring which comprise the pathological, historic character structure. An increase in orgonotic charge, accomplished by deep breathing (א), always brings about a state of discomfort (feelings) and the orgonomist’s concomitant application of pressure to certain muscle groups is sure to bring about a cathartic expression.

The rigid sexual mores, technically persisting through the so-called sexual revolution (ב), even up to the present, are an extension of the historic character structure. This character structure functions to repress libidinality wherever it exists. I have found that it externalizes its characterological defenses onto all historic institutions. It is no surprise that various cultures have sought to handicap their members’ sexuality through customs such as circumcision, draconian punishments for adultery and general hostility towards infant vitality. Things like adolescent sexuality, whereby youths’ drive energy is exhausted in the most therapeutic, enriching way, deplete the libidinal reservoirs which have historically been channeled towards production. Since all the institutions of society are technically cathexes, their preservation requires a constant input of energy from individuals. Love, not the contactless orgies of the 1970s, makes us less like hydroelectric dams through the discharge of neurotogenic libidinal stases. Therefore, from the standpoint of the vulgar, the armored murderers of life, sexuality corrupts the youth through the corrosion of maleficial character investments.

Herr Doktor

The Socratic Method and Character Analysis

What does this have to do with Socrates? While it is true that any account of the Athenian directly expounding on sex-economy would have been neglected or destroyed, we do not need to make such incredible leaps in order to compare him to Wilhelm Reich. The Socratic interrogation is uncannily similar to the therapeutic method of character analysis.

According to legend, the oracular pythoness, intoxicated on natural gases venting out of a fissure in Delphi, stated that Socrates was the wisest man in the world. When this news was relayed to him, he was perplexed, believing that he really knew nothing. And so he began to interrogate various experts and found that they too knew nothing, but unlike Socrates, they did not know that they knew nothing. It seems that Socrates’s philosophy was concerned, at least in part, with destroying the inconsistent narratives people create to navigate the world. His student Plato, perhaps sensing the yawning void, worked in the opposite direction, endeavoring to construct a complete theory of everything. Philosophy since then can be considered a battle between those seeking “firm ground” to stand upon and those seeking to shake things up.

To understand the most profound implications that the figure of Socrates projects, be it historical or apocryphal, we must examine others’ reactions to his deconstructive methods from a sex-economic standpoint. The character analytic method begins by disturbing the most superficial layer of the character structure, the general appearance and presentation of the analysand. The superficial persona, like every characterological layer, has a specific, libido-metabolic function. It conceals an immediately underlying disposition by exhausting the drive energy that would otherwise be consumed in the expression of that underlying disposition. Should the superficial layer be surrendered, the libido it consumes will become apparent to the analysand and demand expression. We read about a case of neurosis described in The Function of the Orgasm:

Overtly, he was very polite; covertly, his fear caused him to be very cunning. Thus, he yielded in everything. The politeness represented the topmost layer of his structure. He produced material on his sexual tie to his mother in superabundance. He “produced” without any inner conviction. I did not enter into any of this material but continually focused his attention on his politeness as a warding off of the really affective insight. The concealed hate appeared more and more in his dreams. As his politeness diminished, he became insulting. Thus, the politeness warded off hate. I brought it out completely by breaking down everyone one of his inhibitions. Until then, hate had been an unconscious attitude. Hate and politeness were antitheses. At the same time, his excessive politeness was a disguised expression of hate. (2)

Reich’s disturbance of the analysand’s foremost characterological layer compromised its capacity to repress the underlying disposition of hatred. The superficial layer and its accompanying mannerisms served to consume the energy of the hateful pulsion, thereby preventing its honest manifestation as a discernible expression. The analysand dispensed with the polite defense, and that which it repressed was expressed. Disturbance of the character structure often evokes hostility and the expression of hatred. After all, armoring is inherently defensive and its disruption must be interpreted as an act of aggression. Since the historic character structure is formed partly to repress destructive pulsions (these themselves ultimately functioning to repress the erotic pulsion), its disturbance must result in the expression of this rage or other intermediary defenses.

It seems that Socrates’s interrogation had a similar effect. What then does this say about the libido-economic role of beliefs? A belief is a doubt turned inside out. An orgonomist might say there is an antithetical functional identity shared by belief and doubt, in that any belief is antithetical to its corresponding doubt, but its exposition is a disguised expression of doubt. For instance, when Socrates catches Gorgias contradicting himself about whether rhetoric is just or unjust, Polus, student to Gorgias, becomes enraged, presumably because he holds Gorgias’s opinions. Initially, Gorgias states that rhetoric is an art defined by its concern for justice. He later backpedals on this, disclaiming that the teacher of rhetoric cannot be held responsible for the student’s evil use of rhetoric, thus implying that rhetoric is not, in fact, centrally concerned with justice (3).

We can guess that Polus constructs some part of his identity from his relationship with Gorgias and is personally offended by Socrates’s logical cornering of him. He invests many hours listening to Gorgias’s instruction and doesn’t want to hear that it won’t pay off. Moreover, Polus seems to rely on the idea that he himself is just and a rhetorician as well and therefore, rhetoric must be just. His vehemence towards Socrates suggests to me that he is, on some level, quite uncertain of his own justness and on a deeper level, certain of his iniquity. In this case, his belief in the goodness and importance of rhetoric is a characterological defense. When its integrity is threatened, the anger and terrifying feelings of uncertainty which it represses come to the surface.

I am not any kind of physician, but I believe that Polus was disturbed orgastically. He is shocked to hear that anyone would forswear the seduction of tyranny if given the opportunity. Perhaps his ideas about rhetoric’s inherent justice conceal his lust for power or serve to mislead those he would manipulate with his rhetorical abilities. His failure to grasp Socrates’s ideas regarding the pitiful nature of tyrants is indicative, to me, of an impenetrable disconnect between ego and body. It is significant that Polus envies the tyrant’s ability to gratify his every whim. What Polus fails to understand is that the tyrant’s gratification nourishes his characterological defenses by exhausting the libidinal energy that would otherwise threaten the integrity of those defenses. The tyrant is therefore at liberty to keep himself in a perpetual state of excitation by exercising his powers and escaping convalescence and embodied being through distraction. Like a heroin addict who has just won the lottery, the tyrant is in deep doodoo, as it were. Viscerally, viz. unconsciously, he knows that in order to become healthy, he needs to descend from his excitation and express his repressed pulsions. He needs to relax his armored muscles. However, his character structure has been established for the purpose of preventing this and thus it chooses to resist convalescence. It is in the best interest of such a man to renounce his so-called power and allow his neurosis to resolve itself. Socrates correctly states that the tyrant is the most powerless person in the city; he is a slave to the intolerance of excitation, libidinally incontinent, rigidified and brittle. Polus is also a slave to libidinal intolerance and therefore envies the tyrant, who can escape to a higher degree. Weakness corrupts but absolute weakness corrupts absolutely!

Furthermore, Polus seems to be in a constant state of paranoia which prevents him from comprehending the nuance of Socrates’s opinions. He is apt to see the world in black and white, like a vigilant soldier guarding his encampment at night, anxious to see if some figure cloaked in darkness is a friend or a foe. An acute tension is evoked by the unknown and foolish assumptions are often made to collapse the uncertainty, so to speak. Armoring, though it is composed of discernible defense mechanisms, functions in a unified fashion to shield our biological cores from any external influence. The armored character is too inflexible to respond to the various elements of the outside world. Conversely, the genital character, he who has convalesced from neurosis, employs sympatheticonia partially or completely depending on the situation. There is nuance in his defensiveness and his relaxation is thorough. The armored character on the other hand, is constantly in a contracted, paranoiac state no matter what is going on in the environment. Either he upholds his armor, or the pulsions which the armor represses will come through, these at first being experienced as acute anxiety. This dilemma, the choice between numbness and terror, I believe is recapitulated in cognition, hence the armored character’s black or white thinking. That being said, I cannot guess the material mechanism for this. Even still, Polus is somewhat honorable because, although he is iniquitous, he is so in an innocent, naive way, making little effort to conceal it. This is the secret to his capacity to converse with Socrates for such a long time, despite Socrates’s frustrating deconstruction of the beliefs he has adopted. The clowns of the modern world employ so much energy concealing their twistedness that their tolerance for differing opinions often lasts less than one second.

The Doctrine of Socrates

Socrates’s doctrine is corroborated by Wilhelm Reich’s discoveries. The Athenian holds that it is better to suffer injustice than to commit injustice. The unjust character’s lack of empathy arises from his rejection of the world at large. ‘Empathy’ is from the ancient Greek ἐμπάθεια (empátheia, literally “passion”) (formed from ἐν (en, “in, at”) combined with πάθος (páthos, “feeling”)(4). Therefore, the degree of empathy must be inversely proportional to the degree of armoring, a disease which inhibits feeling and prevents contact with others and the world at large. Armoring is a foreign middle-layer situated between an erotic, biological identity and a personal facade. In the unjust character, armoring corrupts the erotic pulsion as it emanates from this somatic identity, transmuting it through refraction into thanatosic (ג) pulsions such as sadism. These are in turn repressed by the moralistic outer layers of the character structure. To many nescient people, virtue is thought to be a constant struggle of the “higher” values against the lower “base” desires, a struggle of the smart brain above against the yucky genitals below. One must perpetually exhaust one’s self treading water and resisting what is seen as natural and primary. I believe that a man becomes unjust after he is totally exhausted in this struggle and can no longer repress his sadism. Thus the committer of injustice is biopathically disturbed and of greater evil.

Conversely, the sufferer of injustice is open to the influence of the world, hence his vulnerability to injustice. Such is the genital character, who generally chooses remaining open and risking being hurt over the upholding of absolute defensiveness. His advantage over the unjust lies in the flexibility and spontaneity of his character structure. For the genital character, virtue arises effortlessly as a consequence of biological incarnation. The thanatosic drives erroneously considered inherent to man are absent in such a character because, in the well-ordered sex-economy, drive energy has no reason to actualize as sadism. This is so because sadism is merely a putrefied, delayed, and misdirected variant of the legitimate rage exhibited in sympatheticonia. There is no libidinal stasis from which the sadism can arise, because (theoretically) this rage would be completely and initially expressed to whatever agent inspired the rage. The vulgar hold that descending into a relaxed mode ends in ruin because they have no awareness of their armor and its devices. Thus they attribute perversion to the unconditioned because they cannot perceive anything behind their perversion. Obviously, not everyone who suffers injustice has a genital character structure, but one’s capacity to be vulnerable is a sure sign of strength and indicates a lesser degree of armoring. According to Devin Stauffer, Socrates believes that everyone except he himself has adopted a superficial belief in justice which conceals a hidden doubting of justice that in turn conceals an innate belief in justice (5). This is analogous to the Reichian theory of the triune psycho-soma, composed of a mask-like layer, a pathological layer of armoring, and a benevolent biological core.

Socrates diverges from Reich with his distinction between soul and body. By ‘soul,’ he seems to mean what we commonly refer to as ‘psyche,’ but the things he considers proper to the body in itself are really proper to the armoring of the body, to wit, the ego or character structure. For instance, while trying to convince Polus that rhetoric is not an art but merely flattery, he says this:

… for if the body presided over itself, and were not under the guidance of the soul, and the soul did not discern and discriminate between cookery and medicine, but the body was made the judge of them, and the rule of judgment was the bodily delight which was given by them, then … ‘Chaos’ would come again, and cookery, health, and medicine would mingle in an indiscriminate mass.

To me, such mind-body dualism seems incompatible with Socrates’s doctrine. I suspect this comes from Plato’s adulteration or fabrication. Regardless, Socrates seems to be unaware of the transvaluation of pleasure and anxiety which occurs in children born into societies afflicted by the emotional plague. To the armored caregivers, the libidinality of children is intolerable because it is a manifestation of the same energy which their character structures functions to repress. Therefore, children are punished, neglected or otherwise discouraged for exhibiting aliveness. The parent-child situation is characterized by wild, autonomic oscillations between spontaneous libidinality and terror regarding destruction (castration) and abandonment. As I said before, children take refuge in chronic sympatheticonia, thus armoring against their biological identity. Consequently, divestment from sympatheticonia, this necessarily resulting in true eroticism, becomes associated with the destruction of the subjective observer! Therefore, things that make a person anxious, viz. contracted, are called pleasurable in relation to the acute terror of relaxation. We mistakenly call that which postpones catharsis pleasurable. The things which Socrates thinks the body prefers are really preferred by the ego, while that which the “soul” supposedly prefers is preferred by the body prior to its affliction with the armor biopathy.

Being prevented from postponing catharsis is what Socrates calls punishment. He and Polus come to agree that punishment is to the health of the soul as medicine is to the health of the body. Therefore, it is a great misery for an unjust man to escape punishment. Socrates even goes so far as to state that he would prefer that his enemies forever evade punishment and further become immortal, that they may be damned to an eternity of misery. This would imply that criminals are in a constant state of excitation, living a fast life in order to suppress the visceral feelings – these being identical to emotions – that would arise should their stimulation be ceased. The longer this goes on for, the greater the degree to which their beings are eroded, until they are reduced to mere conduits for volatile urges. Their abstinence from the mode of parasympatheticonia degrades their bodies while their souls, as Socrates would put it, become chiefly concerned with self-deception. Ideally, punishment is supposed to interrupt this behavior like some sort of drug-use intervention and equilibrate the sex-economy. To explore one sort of punishment, there is (in theory) simply nothing that exciting in the ice box and therefore, a convict should descend to a state of health through the expression of the repressed. Obviously, this does not work because being in prison increases paranoia and, if such expressions could take place, they would probably be interpreted as rebellion or madness, or elicit violence from other inmates. Perhaps it would inspire a prison-break! Regardless, this is one of many examples showing how the armored characters at the helms of institutions are largely ignorant of the functioning of the human organism. That being said, they still operate in a quasi-rational way, although such rationale is buried under unfathomable amounts of macabre irony and ignorance. Perhaps in the ancient world, prisons were more effective at correcting the unjust, to their benefit.


If Socrates really went about irritating everybody as he does in Gorgias, his fate is unsurprising. As I hope to demonstrate in my upcoming book History & Desire, all the institutions of civilization are externalizations of characterological defenses. The armor biopathy extends deep into the macrocosm, and with it, all its myriad contradictions. The middle layer of the psycho-soma is utterly twisted, composed of diametrically inverted desires which war against each other for no reason other than to conceal the most basic and natural thing about us. Moreover, these defenses are inherently dishonest, each one tasked with preventing the visible manifestation of desire. For the psychologist who acknowledges both the layered structure of character, and the antithetical functional identity shared by psycho-somatic defense mechanisms and the pulsions they repress, the therapeutic process should consist of exploring these contradictions and liberating the energy invested in them. Similarly, the philosopher should challenge the contradictions inherent to the historic social fabric, not arbitrarily as it is now done in academia, but proceeding from functional knowledge of the living organism.

Socrates certainly possessed this knowledge to a degree, as evidenced by his above-described assertions and his claim that no one does wrong willingly. He consistently directs people’s attention towards profound questions. What is our essential nature? Are we naturally good or evil? Can we know anything? Who should rule? The state and its companion institutions have their own answers. We are naturally evil. There are those who know best and they should rule … did you not choose them? They are not thrilled to have such questions percolating in the citizenry because consistent, diligent and honest discussion thereof, as it exists in Wilhelm Reich’s oeuvre, eventually jeopardizes the state by calling its legitimacy and necessity into question. Similarly, consistent, geological inquiry into character structure will resolve neuroses and psychoses of all kinds. Socrates and Reich, like many other figures in history, are therefore akin to currents of libidinal energy in the macrocosmic soma, the body politic. But in the words of Jesus Christ, “every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither come to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved (6).” Thus when men such as Socrates and Reich shine light upon the world, they must be put to the cross.

The state, being the armor of the body politic, cannot tolerate such libidinality and must arrest it to preserve itself to the detriment of the citizenry. Regardless, such characters must be honored for their refusal to adopt the backwards ways of the masses and for their creation of new ways of being. I will try to cut this short before it becomes hagiography. The situation of the emotional plague is perfectly captured by this question put forward by Callicles:

Tell me, Socrates, are you in earnest, or only in jest? For if you are in earnest, and what you say is true, is not the whole of human life turned upside down; and are we not doing, as would appear, in everything the opposite of what we ought to be doing?


(א) Suppose one takes a relatively conservative position and claims that all somatic orgone is reducible to bio-electricity. The reducing of oxygen gas in electron-transporting membrane bound protein complexes is responsible for the maintenance of voltage across a cell membrane. The less oxygen reduced, the less voltage, and the less an organism can do work, allegedly through the breaking of molecular bonds. This means it has less potential energy. Wilhelm Reich would have believed that all the micro-biological machinery is secondary to the functioning of orgone energy. Regardless, it is clinically irrefutable that neurotics have chronically contracted diaphragms which fulfil the sex-economic role of limiting organismic energy and repressing emotions. Thus when this respiratory block is challenged, psychic content, catharsis and expression result.

(ב) I write not of people’s erroneous conceptions, but of the mores as they materially exist: the armored muscles of the historic character, unfazed and perhaps strengthened by the so-called sexual revolution. There has been no sexual liberation yet.

(ג) Thanatos or death drive, sometimes called “death instinct” is not an instinct at all. It results from the frustration of the instinctual sympathetic response and the inability to divest therefrom. The most important conclusion of character analysis is that antisocial pulsions dissipate after the deepest layer of repressed rage is expressed. Once this happens, orgastic potency appears.

(1) (click Wilhelm Reich on the right-hand side)

(2) Reich – The Function of the Orgasm pg. 141

(3) Plato – Gorgias (my edition has no line numbers)


(5) Stauffer, Devin. “Socrates and Callicles: A Reading of Plato’s ‘Gorgias.’” The Review of Politics, vol. 64, no. 4, 2002, pp. 630. JSTOR,

(6) John 3:20