by Richard Schwartzman, D.O.
I neither hold a prejudice against
mysticism nor do I claim to understand it fully. The purpose of this
paper is to bring about a clearer view of the subject in the light
of our knowledge of natural orgone energy functions.
Orgonomy is the natural science of orgone energy and its functions.
This energy obeys certain laws, and Reich described the functions of
the energy and its effects very specifically. To date, we know of no
scientific evidence that has been presented that allows us to
overturn or even modify any of Reichís original premises or
formulations. His energetic theory provides a unified scientific
explanation for the development of all living organisms and the
structure of the physical world - from the formation of a
single-celled protozoa to the construction of the cosmos.
Reich foresaw that his scientific discoveries risked distortion at
the hands of armored man. He particularly warned against the
mystification of natural energetic functions, for he believed that
such distortions are the consequence of armoring. It is the blocking
of the free flow of biologic energy that is the source of both
mystical and mechanistic thinking, and without this hindrance, we
would think functionally, that is, as nature functions.
Anyone interested in the study of
orgonomy is at risk of mystifying
lawful orgone energy functions, and Reich cautioned against those
who would modify his discoveries for their own ends, because of
their character armor. The basic principles of orgonomy continue to
hold true and the American College of Orgonomy is not ready, yet, to
advance and develop orgonomic science along unproven paths. We are
not prepared to replace orgonomy by another "functional science"
(1), especially one rooted in
mysticism. Some might accuse us of
rigidity, and itís hard to argue against the admonition that we
should be more open to "change and development." But we must not
necessarily assume that a shift in direction, in and of itself, is
desirable. Development can take the wrong direction, and unless we
are clear-headed, we will have set ourselves on an unsound course.
There is no end to the manifestations of energetic phenomena, and
for this reason there is no end to what one can examine. While an
open mind is essential for honest investigation, it is not
synonymous with a lack of discrimination.
Reich tells us that the human condition is the result of armoring.
It is armoring that determines our individual character, lays down
the foundation for the development of neurotic and physical
pathology, and shapes our social behavior and political
inclinations. It also inclines us to function mechanistically or
mystically. Each of us thinks and functions more one way than the
other, most probably according to the extent and distribution of
Bakerís description of the social character types forms the
cornerstone of our understanding of the liberal and conservative
(2). The liberal character tends toward a mechanistic explanation of
natural phenomena and the conservative toward a mystical one. The
mechanist, separated from his core, lives largely in his intellect.
He cannot penetrate through to natural functioning, except in a
machinelike manner. This is because he is cut off from sensation and
emotion. His energy is largely drawn up into his head and his
thinking is stuck in a narrow, superficial realm - in the realm of
secondary material functioning. He cannot make contact with his core
because his biologic energies are severely blocked.
The conservative individual, on the other hand, tends to be
mystical, and lives in the core and middle layers of his structure.
But because of the distribution of his armoring, full contact cannot
be achieved. He thinks and functions in quite a different fashion
than does the mechanist and is disposed toward spirituality and
religion. He yearns to merge with the cosmos because he has retained
core contact. Unlike the mechanist, the mystic tends to deal with
concepts not of this world and comes to use words that do not
correspond to anything real. This leads to a paradox, because his
thinking, while giving the appearance of going very deeply into the
very essence of all things, really remains superficial. He only
seems to be furnishing a deep and profound understanding. By seeming
to enter the depths, mysticism provides an illusion of well being.
This serves to reduce anxiety and promote the feeling of oneness
with the universe.
The eye-block, which is intrinsic to
mysticism, alters perception
and thought and brings about a state of decreased contact. A great
attraction of mysticism is its power to stop thinking. Altered
perception, and with it altered thinking, allow oneís energy to
become diffused and extended outward. This produces the feeling of
merging with God or with the Absolute.
Mysticism has been defined as,
"the expression of the innate tendency
of the human spirit towards complete harmony with the transcendental
William James, a pioneer investigator of the paranormal
and author of The Varieties of Religious Experience, has suggested
four known characteristics of the mystical experience
(5). They are
ineffability, a noetic quality, transiency, and
passivity. Transiency and passivity are self-explanatory. Ineffability refers
to the experience defying expression - that no report of its content
can be given in words and that its quality must be directly
experienced. A noetic quality, although similar to a state of
feeling, is defined as a state of knowledge to those who experience
What does happen in the mystical experience? Countless volumes on
every aspect of the subject have been written but there is clear
agreement on at least on point: the mystic undergoes an altered
sense of perception. This is a true alteration of perception and it
is not simply an extension of ego consciousness. In fact, ego
boundaries and the sense of individual self are lost. There occurs a
subjective mode of awareness. It is non-conceptual. The shift away
from the worldly is extra-ordinary. This altered state - this
mystical experience - defies description. All efforts to do so must
fail, just as any attempt to touch an object seen in a mirror must
fail. The alteration in perception produces a split, and it is this
that makes the mysticís takes of communicating his experience
impossible. He cannot make his own truth real to those who have not
had an experience based on a personal occurrence. When he makes
interpretations to give meaning to the experience, they lead
directly to the supernatural and to God.
It is in this state, which can be transient or habitual, that the
shift to a different way of seeing occurs. The individual enters
into a state of knowledge, and mystics are convinced that they have
been in contact with objective reality. W.R. Inge write that mystics,
"are convinced that they are or have been in contact with objective
reality, that they have connected with the supreme spiritual power
behind the world of our surface consciousness"
experience is radically changed when this occurs, and it is a
confirmation to them that the soul has an affinity with the primal
source of all reality. It has been said,
"Mysticism, in its pure
form is the science of union with the Absolute, and nothing else,
and the mystic is the person who attains to this union, not the
person who talks about it (7). It has also been said of mystical
prayer that it is "naught else but yearning of the soul."
The central question that follows from all of this is:
experiences purely subjective phenomena or do they have the kind of
objective reality that mystics and other claim for them?
complementary question must also be considered:
To what extent is it
inherent in manís armored structure, when he has reached the limits
of his knowledge, and because of his unfilled yearning, to try to
penetrate what is beyond understanding?
I, myself, remain unconvinced that there are mystical forces at work
in the universe. But I suspect that were I to experience an altered
state, with the perception of "knowing" truth or experiencing the
presence of God, or a unity with the universe, I might be inclined
differently. For hose having had a mystical experience, even once,
it is not hard to see how it could be interpreted as a calling to
embrace God and religion or lead one down the path of the
supernatural. The experience must be extraordinary. However, these
altered feeling states are the result of distortions in the
perception of our biologic energy. The feelings are projected and
are perceived as coming from outside the body. This is the mechanism
by which these sensations come to be attributed to God or the
Reich writes as follows,
"mysticism is the changing of sense
impressions and organ sensations into supernatural and unreal
He goes on to say that,
"the existence of a separating
wall between excitation and sensation is the basis of the mystical
It is the blocking of direct organ sensations and their
re-emergence that produces the pathological perception of
In one of Reichís strongest statements on the matter, he writes,
"Functional identity as the research principle of
functionalism is nowhere so splendidly expressed as in the unity of
psyche and soma. This unity or identity as the basic principle of
the concept of the living excludes completely and conclusively the
"other-worldliness" or autonomy of the psychic"
It is interesting to see the
development of Reichís insight into
mystical thinking. Part of this insight came from examining why
scientists had previously failed to discover orgone energy. He
"how astonishing it was that the
cosmic orgone energy had
been so basically and so consistently overlooked by physicists"
This, in turn, led to his understanding of why some
individuals cannot effectively work with orgone energy. He writes
that there is an identity between the "fear of organ sensations, and
the fear of scientific orgone research"
(11). And he goes on to say
that, "It is this fear of the autonomic organ sensations which
blocks the recognition of orgone energy." Such armored individuals
can only have, at best, an intellectual "interest" in orgone
science, but can never really enter deeply into the work.
Leaving the question open, for now, as to whether there are those
who can perform paranormal feats, it is interesting to examine the
parallels between mystical thinking and the thinking of some
individuals drawn to orgonomy. It is my contention that those who
become interested in Reich, including many who have gone on to
pursue medical orgone therapy, have necessarily preserved a fair
degree of core contact and, therefore, continue to have a longing
for cosmic union. They have read Reich and understand intuitively
the validity of orgonomic theory. However, they are often prone to
mystical thinking and practicing medical orgonomists are frequently
approached for treatment by those so inclined. These patients, being
mystically disposed, too often expect magic - that treatment will
bring about heaven on earth - and usually with not too long a course
There are some intriguing parallels between the mystically inclined
and some individuals drawn to orgonomy. The mystic hopes to find
some universal spiritual resource to give meaning to his life. The
student of orgonomy also comes seeking answers and a way out of the
trap. Both recognize an energy, the mystic crediting God or the
spirit world, and the serious student of orgonomy objectifying the
energy scientifically, crediting no one. Both assert that there is
more at work that the "visible world." The mystic seeks answers in
the supernatural. Those in treatment must guard against seeking
miracles and putting their faith in orgone therapy, as though it
were a religion, to provide all the answers and to bring unending
happiness. This is magical thinking. The mystic forms cults and has
his gurus. Such behavior in our midst, i.e., idealizing the medical orgonomist, must be resisted.
The mystical individual and individuals drawn to orgonomy show some
further interesting comparisons in their thinking and perception.
Both hold, though in a different sense, that purification is
necessary for right perception: the mystic through right living,
moral means, meditation, etc. and the student of orgonomy by
dissolution of the armor in therapy. Both seek relief from anxiety,
a sense of freedom, and a feeling of joy. Both yearn for cosmic
contact. The mystic attempts to achieve the ecstatic experience by
union with God or a universal spirit. The individual in therapy does
so by striving to achieve a genital mode of functioning.
Both pursue the apprehension of reality and the attainment of
perfection - the mystic by seeking to achieve fusion with the
ultimate, and the other, holding genitality as a cornerstone,
through the ability to superimpose bioenergetically in the genital
embrace and discharge sexual excitement in the acme of the sexual
act. The mystic attempts to achieve total awareness through contact
with the universe beyond; the patient in treatment seeks to achieve
fuller contact with himself, others, and his environment by ridding
himself of armor and by re-establishing the free flow of his own
biophysical energy. We feel that through the removal of armoring, in
this lifetime, an individual can move toward more natural
functioning and develop his or her inherent potential. The theory
that we adhere to remains in and of this world. (The mystic strives
to achieve evolvement supernaturally, if not in this lifetime, then
after death, with subsequent re-incarnations.) We hold that the
improvement of the human condition will only be brought about by the
prevention of armoring in infants and children. We put no faith in
I have spoken about the parallels between the mystical individual
and a type of individual drawn to orgonomy. Now let us look at some
of the similarities between the mystic and the schizophrenic. As
noted previously, Reich felt that the blocking of direct organ
sensations led to the perception of supernatural powers and he said
"valid for spiritualists, schizophrenics, religious
physicists, and for every form of paranoia."
Mystics are not
necessarily schizophrenic, but common distortions in perception, and
therefore thinking, make them allied.
Reich felt that the mystic was "structurally close to the schizoid
character" and that "he usually comprehended orgonomic facts,
although only as in a mirror" (12). He says, in a somewhat different
context, that "mystics reach a picture of reality in which real
processes are distorted, as if in a mirror, and are not in harmony
with what is objectively so." Itís interesting that Reich uses the
analogy of a mirror in more than one place in his writings, and that
"Shinto temples [there] stands a mirror symbolizing the fact that
to see reality one must see both oneself and the illusory nature of
the self, see the reality of the separate entity and see that - from
another viewpoint - it is not reality but an illusion"
Coleridge described the split more succinctly and poetically when he
wrote, "the mind half sees and half creates."
A review of psychiatric textbook descriptions of paranoid
schizophrenic thinking reveals that the illness shares quite a bit
of common ground with mystical thought. The psychotic and the mystic
both believe that they are endowed with great powers, often
God-given. Both are known to hold to the absolute belief that they
can control natural events - events such as earthquakes. The
schizophrenic holds to fixed beliefs, not grounded in reality. This
is the very definition of delusional thinking. These beliefs
frequently extend to the conviction that their actions are governed
by some external force. Thinking is magical and tends to be
superstitious. Mystical thinking runs along the same lines. The
schizophrenic and the mystic both believe in clairvoyance and
telepathy and both may sense the presence of a force or persons not
Delusions of reference are common in psychosis and the schizophrenic
attaches particular and unusual significance to events or objects.
He commonly reports that he gets "signs" when he looks at things.
The mystic thinks in a very similar manner and draws connections
between unrelated events and attaches to them profound significance.
Events have for him deep meaning and provide understanding.
Coincidence is rarely ascribed and seriality, synchronicity, and
unseen supernatural forces are given the credit. The worker in orgonomy with a tendency toward mysticism must be on guard not to
fall into this kind of omnipotent thinking. This is especially so if
he is working directly with the energy. Extensive work with the
medical DOR-buster or the cloudbuster can cause persons working with
these devices to feel godlike. Mystifying the process, they believe
it is they who are affecting the patient or influencing the
atmosphere, and that the device is only a conduit for their
In severe manifestations of the psychotic breakdown, the individual
can experience a fusion of the senses - and this sometimes also
occurs in the mystic. Colors can be heard and sounds seen. LSD and
other chemicals can induce such altered states and many individuals,
if not whole cultures, prescribe that this chemical path be taken to
achieve the mystical experience.
Is mysticism on the rise? Iím not certain. When Iím in California, I
think it is - when Iím here on the East Coast, I think not. However,
I do see there is a resurgence of religion. Perhaps this is a
reaction against the modern-day technological advances that have not
delivered on their promise to bring us contentment and a sense of
It is my contention that the great majority of mystical thinking is
the product of a disordered energy flow within the individual. I
hold, as did Reich, that there is a biopathic process at the root of
mysticism. However, what can be said, in the context of orgone
energy functions, to account for the small percentage of
inexplicable mystical experiences and occurrences that have been
reported? It would be arrogant to write off every unexplainable
experience or event as the product of an individualís disordered
structure. These experiences, for now, must remain without
However, discounting out-and-out fakery and
hysteria. I contend that most unexplained occurrences are the
product of natural energy functions and will be found to obey
physical laws, laws as yet undiscovered. We do know this: There is
an ether - space is not empty, but is filled with a continuous
intervening medium - cosmic orgone energy. Also, we know that we are
each a source of energy with field that extends beyond our skin
surface. It, therefore, follows that energy fields between
individuals could, at a distance, make contact through the
Given this continuum of energy, it would not seem so
improbable that individuals could come into concordance and
resonate, so to speak, and make some form of contact through the
continuous atmospheric ether. It is possible that an energy transfer
occurs through this medium and that, perhaps, energy can even be
directed to produce effects on matter.
But, having said this, it certainly behooves us to continue to have
the greatest skepticism of those who lay claim to supernatural
abilities and mystical powers.
Some individuals who become involved in orgonomy may be predisposed
toward mystical thinking. A degree of core contact in the presence
of armor are key contributing factors. This is found, not
infrequently, in those who have failed to reach their goals through
orgone therapy. They turn to mysticism with the hope of finding some
universal spiritual resource that will bring meaning to their lives
and a greater feeling of well-being.
The longing to be healed is universal, and it will continue so as
long as man is armored. On all sides, there are treatments advanced
that lay claim to heal, but medical orgone therapy and the
preservation of Reichís discoveries remain our central focus. Until
such time as we have reason to alter our course, this will remain
the work of the American College of Orgonomy.
R.A., Editorís Page, Journal of Orgonomy, 26(1) 1992.
2. Baker, E.F.: Man in the Trap. New York:
3. Konia, Charles: Personal communication
to the author.
4. Underhill, E.: Mysticism. London, Collier
5. James, W.: The Varieties of Religious
Experience. New York: American Library, 1958, Lecture XVI,
6. Elmwood, R.S.: Mysticism in Religion.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1980.
7. Underhill, E. op. Cit. Pp. 72.
8. Reich, W.: Ether, God and Devil. New York:
Orgone Institute Press, 1949.
9. ibid. p.73.
10. ibid. p.68.
11. ibid. p.69.
12. Reich, W.: Character Analysis. New York: Orgone
Institute Press, 1949.
13. Le Shan, L.: The Medium, the Mystic, and the
Physicist. New York: Viking Press, 1974.