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Orgonomy and Mysticism
Richard Schwartzman, D.O.
Reprinted from the Journal of Orgonomy, Vol. 27 No. 2
The American College of Orgonomy

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 Reich's 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 it's 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 armoring.

Baker's 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 one's 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 order" (4). 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 it.

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 mystic's 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" (6). Their inner 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: Are mystical experiences purely subjective phenomena or do they have the kind of objective reality that mystics and other claim for them? A complementary question must also be considered: To what extent is it inherent in man's 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 supernatural.

Reich writes as follows, "mysticism is the changing of sense impressions and organ sensations into supernatural and unreal entities" (8). He goes on to say that "the existence of a separating wall between excitation and sensation is the basis of the mystical experience." It is the blocking of direct organ sensations and their re-emergence that produces the pathological perception of "supernatural powers."

In one of Reich's strongest statements on the matter, he writes, "Functional identity as the research principle of orgonomic 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" (9).

It is interesting to see the development of Reich's insight into mystical thinking. Part of this insight came from examining why scientists had previously failed to discover orgone energy. He wrote, "how astonishing it was that the cosmic orgone energy had been so basically and so consistently overlooked by physicists" (10). 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 of therapy.

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 reincarnation.

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 this was, "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." It's interesting that Reich uses the analogy of a mirror in more than one place in his writings, and that in "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" (12). 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 actually present.

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 energetic powers.

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? I'm not certain. When I'm in California, I think it is - when I'm 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 fulfillment.

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 individual's disordered structure. These experiences, for now, must remain without scientific explanation. 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 atmosphere. 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 Reich's 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.


1. Blasband, R.A., Editor's Page, Journal of Orgonomy, 26(1) 1992.

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

3. Konia, Charles: Personal communication to the author.

4. Underhill, E.: Mysticism. London, Collier Books, 1911.

5. James, W.: The Varieties of Religious Experience. New York: American Library, 1958, Lecture XVI, pp. 292-3.

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.

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