Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A walk on the Wilhelm side, 15 Oct 2007
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This review is from: Character Analysis (Paperback)
This is a challenging book especially for a lay person such as myself. Reich may have been on to something but he may also have been going mad.

The first two parts of "Character Analysis" cover Reich's move away from classical psychoanalysis as he decided his patients were sustaining their "mental" illness by means of chronic muscular tensions: the "character armor". He decided that talk therapy was unproductive: due to resistances people were not reporting genuinely. So he turned to direct physical activities.

The third and final part of "Character Analysis" is as extraordinary as it may be baffling. Reich believed he had found a cosmic life force, "orgone energy", the disturbance in the flow of which in a person led to neurosis or psychosis. He believed that an invention of his, the "orgone accumulator", might help a person by providing orgone energy to them. He provides details of the body work he conducted with a psychotic patient in the intense chapter "The Schizophrenic Split". He concludes with his concerns about "emotional plague" as an explanation for mass movements such as Fascism. Reich appears to be struggling in this third part of the book, at times he seemed brilliant to me, at times he seemed quite disturbed. To what extent he was reaching to find ways to express important findings is unclear. He seems to have overreached but that may not invalidated some or much of what he presented. It's hard to tell.

Although Reich's use of the "orgone accumulator" led to his imprisonment, body work based on his ideas and techniques has continued. Alexander Lowen developed the psychotherapy Bioenergetics based on Reich's findings. Charles Kelley created Radix, a personal growth practice, also based on Reich's work. Lowen has published exercises for one or two people The Way To Vibrant Health: A Manual Of Bioenergetic Exercises which may be used to become familiar with the kind of body work Reich pioneered. Reich believed that some form or other of character armoring was common among many people, not just the mentally ill: at least some of what he presents in "Character Analysis" may be useful for anyone.
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