Contact Us          |       Glossary       |     Join Our Mailing List      |     Frequently Asked Questions

Articles by Author | Articles by Topic

Etiology, Prevention, and Early Treatment of Armoring
Richard Schwartzman, D.O.
Reprinted from the Journal of Orgonomy, Vol. 29 No. 1
The American College of Orgonomy

Introduction

Each new generation vows that it will raise its children better than they were raised. Recalling their own childhood unhappiness, parents want the best for their children and want to treat them better, so that they not suffer the same misfortunes. But notwithstanding the good intentions, the children turn out no better off. Dissatisfaction and dysfunction remain more or less the same. And so it goes that, through succeeding generations, there is no change. As far back in history as can be traced we find unchanged the incidence of anxiety and depression, neurosis, psychosis, and suicide. Alcohol and illicit drugs may well be in greater use now than ever before. This is certainly the case with psychotropic prescription medications. On the social scene man's irrational and destructive behavior show no sign of lessening.

What perpetuates this never ending cycle? Only if this question is answered can there be some hope for steady progress toward a better life for succeeding generations. The reason for the human condition is armoring. Not until armoring is seen to be the culprit and its causes understood will mankind be able to penetrate through to why humanity behaves neurotically and continues to suffer chronic discontent.

There can be no widespread prevention until the science of orgonomy is brought to the world. Almost none know of Reich's discovery - that there is such a thing as armoring. The notion that an individual can physically bind and repress feelings and emotions in their body is foreign to accepted theories. To social scientists and psychologists, and most certainly to the new wave of pharmacologically-oriented psychiatrists, orgone energy theory make no sense and is dismissed as crazy. But to the fortunate few who have experienced the effects of treatment, and especially to the practicing medical orgone therapist who every day sees patients improve, there is no doubt. Armoring and its effects are fact, not theory. Continuing therapy, properly conducted, moves individuals in the direction of more natural functioning. And parents who have sustained the positive effects of treatment always raise up children who are less armored than they were.

The causes of the human condition are not rooted in the fast pace of modern life, inferior education, television violence, street drugs, or economic and social conditions. These are the effects of armoring. Mysticism won't provide a way out of the trap, and neither will the mechanistic treatments. Advances in technology, and here I include the biochemical drug therapies, have not, and will never fulfill their promise to bring happiness. The proof of this lies in the fact that, with all the advances that have come with technology, there is no evidence that the human lot, as measured in terms of emotional satisfaction, has improved at all.

Factors That Influence the Development of Armor Prior to Birth

Strictly speaking, we reserve the term "armor" for "the sum total of muscular attitudes" that develop at the time of and after birth (1:xxvii). But does armor form only because of the traumas of infancy and childhood, or are there factors that influence its development before birth that must be considered? We say an individual is "predisposed" to developing a biopathy, but what is it that causes this predisposition? Reich tells us that "The make-up of a person is the functional sum total of all his past experiences"(2:121). Every experience has a lasting effect and the earliest experiences are the most important and consequential. When positive they lay the groundwork for future healthy functioning; when negative they produce the armoring that lasts through life and cripples. Reich held that schizophrenia was laid down in the first ten days of life and he addressed some of the effects of the prenatal environment, but it is interesting to extend this line of thought and speculate further on what energetic factors - at the time of conception or even before - might be at work to predispose and shape development.

Heredity may not be the result of only the mechanical combination of chromosomal material. It may in fact be, at least in part, the result of the effects of the parental orgone energy on the developing child. Orgone energy moves through the entire body, but it is also contained in and affects the functioning of every cell. An analogy can be drawn to the hologram wherein the whole is contained in the smallest subdivision. Parents each bring to and contribute their energy to the formation of the zygote as sperm and ovum unite. It follows therefore that the biological, that is, the energetic state of the parents prior to and at the time of conception imparts to the developing child his or her particular energetic characteristics. That is, the formed organism is, in its energetic aspect, the product of the parents' energies.

We know every individual has an energy level that exists independent of character type, and it may well be that every human is unique not only through the combination of genetic material, but also through the superimposition and combination of the two parental energies. We do know that the superimposition of energy streams, in and of itself and without the formation of life, produces new forms that are quite different. The planets and all other celestial bodies are each unique, and they were formed solely through the superimposition of energy streams. We can draw from this that, even without the fusion of (living) genetic material, structures with unique characteristics do form solely from energy. What is here being postulated is that a new individual is the result of both the fusion of mechanical (chromosomal) material and orgone energy.

This has important implications and allows for a number of intriguing speculations. Why is it that the newly formed zygote goes on to grow and develop at all? We do know that orgone energy flows from weaker or lower to concentrations of stronger or higher orgonotic charge. 1 Given this fact, might we not postulate that the developing embryo, which is the more highly charged energy system, draws its energy from its lesser charged environment - mother's energy stream - and develops because it is obeying the primary law of the orgonomic potential.

Another thought to consider. The generative cells develop in the pelvic segment, where biologic energy concentrates before discharge in sex, and we know that those more free of armoring in the upper segments can go on to develop a stronger charge in the pelvis. Might it not follow that such individuals, able to discharge their energies more fully through orgasm, could better impart a stronger charge to their generative cells? The fusion of sperm and ovum under such favorable conditions might then produce, from the moment of conception, a more highly charged individual, one with more drive or better able to resist armoring.

Two final speculations on how parental energy might influence development at the time of conception. We know that a child often favors one or the other parent or a particular "side" of the family. Might it be that this is determined by which parent has the stronger energy charge at the moment of conception? We might even speculate further that the very sex of the child may be determined by the parent with the predominate charge at conception.

Maternal Bioenergy As It Effects Development

Organisms resonate with and influence one another - and energies interact. Mother's energy state most certainly has an effect on the developing child in utero. A pelvis that is energetically alive and that periodically convulses in orgasm surely produces expansions and contractions in the child. These prenatal pulsations might set the stage for a more pulsatory life, possibly one in which the individual is better able to defend against the armoring process.

You might ask at this point what all of this has to do with child rearing and the prevention and treatment of armoring. It is presented here as theoretical speculation as to how and why humans develop as they do. It opens us up to the idea that a fair amount of what is now attributed to the mechanical combination of genetic (DNA) material might actually be the product of parental energy levels and prenatal energy interaction with the mother. However, this overview is presented for another reason. And that is to lend a much-needed perspective to childhood development, to suggest that there are factors at work over which parents have no control. Better appreciation of this can serve to relieve some of the guilt parents carry They too often wrongly blame themselves for how their children turn out, not appreciating the factors about which little is known, that work and come together to form the individual's final structure.

Labor and Birth

Up to the time of labor and delivery the parents cannot much influ-ence the developmental process, but with birth this changes. The effects of the birth itself and the impact of the earliest days of life are critical to character development and all future function. Here much can be done to make the child's transition to the outside world less traumatic thereby reduce early armoring. It is vitally important that the child remain untraumatized in the first hours, days, and weeks of life. This brief period is crucial to all further development and its importance cannot be too strongly emphasized. The murder of life begins at birth.

Unfortunately, the idea that a child can be so profoundly and permanently affected in its first few days remains virtually unknown. That labor and delivery, and how one is treated immediately after birth, can permanently shape character is met with disbelief - and most usually ridicule: It falls into the category of "another theory." The fact is that most people still believe that infant and early childhood experiences, because they cannot be consciously recalled, do not exert any lasting effect. This belief will continue to remain as one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. Until early trauma is recognized to be the cause of dysfunction there will be little change in the treatment of infants.

But how does one get society at large to realize the truth of these facts - and then to change their ways? I really don't know. Parents are at the effect of their own armor, and are blocked in their ability to be in contact with the child and to respond appropriately to his needs. They cannot see, think, or act functionally. It is really unrealistic to expect or demand of parents, themselves blocked, to raise up healthy children. This is yet another reason why armoring perpetuates itself from generation to generation.

However, for those who accept and understand that every traumatic experience produces a contraction, and that these contractions can become permanently anchored, there is much that can be done to prevent armoring. If we accept that the first day of a child's life is his most important, and the second, the second most important and so on, then it follows that every effort should be directed toward making birth and the earliest experiences positive for both infant and mother. If mother feels well, that is expanded, it will have a positive effect on her infant. It really is not complicated. There is only expansion and contraction - and we want to promote an expanded state in both mother and child. Pleasure expands. The loss of contact and traumatic experiences contract. To the extent that contactlessness and contractions can be prevented, children will not armor. Most damaging to the child is loss of contact with mother. All stresses and traumas, and no child goes through birth and early life without them, could be better tolerated if the infant remained with the mother and could be comforted and allowed to reexpand in her presence.

Children should be birthed by midwives at home or in a comfortable setting, with an obstetrician close by to perform any necessary interventions. Father should not be with mother during labor or birth unless she asks for him. 2 And after the birth both mother and child should be immediately left alone together. Father's role is to remain outside the room, guarding against intrusion from family and well--wishers. In the days following the birth his function is to take care of household chores and assist mother in every way so that she will be free of worry or concern.

If the birth is in a hospital, the child should never be separated from mother. Routine care such as eye drops, injections, heel sticks, weighing and measuring should be foregone. As soon as mother and child are stable, and this is often within hours, they should leave the hospital. The rare instance of hyperbilirubinemia can sometimes develop and most usually occurs in premature infants. Well-informed parents, alert to the signs and symptoms of this condition, can readily contact their pediatrician. Too often the risk of a rare condition is given as the reason for many preventative measures that are traumatic and interfere with the baby's contact with mother.

The Role of Parental Education in the Prevention of Armoring

Parents have preserved, to a greater or lesser extent, a natural sense of what is right for their infant. But because of inexperience, and out of anxiety, they turn to others for advice. If this advice is given by one who is clearheaded and has retained a high degree of natural feeling, the counsel can be helpful. Generally, advice can be judged valuable and correct to the extent it moves the parent toward being on the side of the child, rather than on the side of what is socially acceptable or what child rearing "authorities" have decided is right. To some extent sound advice - the "do this", "don't do that"- can be helpful, but often it is a clearer perspective that is needed - a different way of seeing that permits the parents to grasp a new concept. Also, the books on how to raise children, and the advice of family, friends, and pediatrician come from individuals whose thinking is too often unsound. For example, parents are often told that their child needs to be circumcised to prevent urinary infections or cancer; or that it's okay to let him cry because it's "good for his lungs" or "you don't want to spoil him." Thus they can be persuaded to accept the word of the "authority" or yield to pressure, and act against their own better judgment.

Counsel and guidance is best if the parent is open to an exploration of what it is about them in their attitudes and feelings that colors their thinking. With these characterological interventions therapy serves its highest function. If at least one parent, preferably mother, is in medical orgone therapy, it will directly benefit the child. With the dissolution of armoring in the parent by both characteranalytical and biophysical means, a clearer perspective is realized. Therapy promotes better contact with the child.

Of course contactfulness and clear thinking are not the province of only those familiar with Reich and orgonomy. But if there is an orgonomic framework for understanding what is best for the child, so much the better. The principles of contact, expansion and contraction, and the formation of armoring have, for the first time, put child rearing on a functional scientific footing. Reich's discovery of orgone energy has taken child rearing out of the realm of opinions rooted in character structure and cultural bias. The whole range of child rearing problems can now be better understood and rationally dealt with if approached from an orgonomic energetic perspective.

Discipline

Self-regulation is an ideal and is realized to the extent that a child remains free of armoring. But self-regulation does not translate into allowing a child to do as he pleases. There is the mistaken notion, especially prevalent among those who have some knowledge of Reich's theories, that a child should not be disciplined because to do so will produce armoring; that with enough love he or she will grow up healthy and self-regulating. They believe that a child should be allowed to "express himself" in every way, lest he lose his individuality and become "inhibited." This is nonsense.

Love is not enough. Children require discipline. They require it because almost none grow up free of armoring and therefore there are very few who do not act defiantly. When this kind of neurotic behav-ior appears it is the parents' duty to step in. Parents who do are, in reality, interceding in a character-analytic fashion. Neurotic behavior, either in attitude or action, is pointed up for the purpose of bringing about its elimination.

But unfortunately all too often this behavior, which should be seen and felt as unacceptable by the parents, is permitted to continue. It is all well and good to try to understand why a child acts in an unacceptable fashion, and this should be done, but understanding must not block the demand for proper conduct. When misconduct is addressed and stopped, impulsiveness is brought under control, anxiety is relieved, and the child is redirected in the path of correct behavior.

Discipline is a strong word and it connotes strictness, or even brutal behavior. This is not what is being advocated. Discipline begins with a gentle reminder to the child and becomes more forceful, increasing as necessary, to bring about the desired result. Parents who are themselves clearheaded and relatively free of armor are the best ones to justly demand, and apply, discipline. Unfortunately this is not usually the case. Blocked by guilt and at the effect of their own emotions, parents either do not act or act inappropriately to the child's behavior. The child then develops ways of acting or behaving that become chronic. That is, they become armored, and both child and parent fall into a fixed, neurotic pattern of interaction.

The Emotional Plague

No discussion of children and armoring is complete without the inclusion of the emotional plague. The plague is at the bottom of it all. It is the root cause of the continuation of armoring. Plague individuals and their anti-life, anti-sex institutions are as powerful a force now as ever in the past.

True plague characters are rather rare and must meet strict criteria to be so described. But if we relax the definition of the emotional plague and extend it to those who tell others how they should behave, it becomes clear just how universal this behavior is.

On the individual level, parents who usually have little of value to tell their children, as attested to by the degree of misery and lack of satisfaction in their own lives, dictate to the child how he should be. They are driven to do this because of their structure and they always justify their behavior as being in the best interest of the child. On the social level the plague is everywhere institutionalized; especially in religion, education, and medicine. These enormously powerful establishments continue the plague in society. Thus, children are at the effect of plague-like behavior from both parents and social institutions, and this continues the armoring that passes down through succeeding generations.

This is and will always be an imperfect world. There are no perfect parents and no child can be raised to be totally healthy. But children can develop more naturally. With Reich's discovery of armoring there is now an understanding of why man is neurotic and this opens the door to a gradual reversal of the condition. If these discoveries come to be accepted there will be future generations of individuals with less armoring who lead more satisfying and productive lives.

Medical orgone therapy of children, with its direct biophysical work on armoring, prevents neuroses from developing, or at the least from becoming deep-seated. This is an integral part of the treatment of children. The prevention of the armoring process cannot begin too early. Relatively few sessions when a child is young will do what hundreds of sessions later cannot.

Footnotes

1. This is the orgonomic potential. It is clearly seen in the formation of clouds.

2. This idea has less acceptance today because of prevailing cultural influence. However, in all the animal kingdom the mother goes off alone to birth the young and drives away all who encroach, including the father. Also, the mother in labor is best not forced to remain in contact with the baby's father, so that she can better give in to the orgastic experience that may come with birth if she is unarmored or lightly armored.

References

1. Baker, E.F. Man in the Trap, New York: Macmillan, 1967.

2. Reich, W. The Function of the Orgasm, New York: Orgone Institute Press, 1942.


The Americal College of Orgonomy | P.O. Box 490 Princeton, New Jersey 08542 | 732.821.1144 | © The American College of Orgonomy. All rights reserved.