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

Articles by Author | Articles by Topic

Wildfire Interview
Richard Schwartzman, D.O.
Interview with Wabun Wind
The American College of Orgonomy

When Wilhelm Reich died on November 3, 1957 one of the most remarkable and productive careers of the twentieth century ended. A major contributor to psychoanalytic theory and practice in the 1920s, Reich became the first to combine direct bodywork with psychotherapy. His clinical work convinced him that emotional health ultimately depends on how an individual handles his or her sexual drive, and that central to this regulation is the ability to release excess energy through a full and gratifying orgastic discharge.

With a genius for natural science and a Renaissance-like facility for grasping different disciplines, Reich followed the energy source of human emotions into physiology, biology, physics and, finally, into the very atmosphere of the Earth. He proved, through a series of experiments, that there is a single energy that is experienced as emotions, that is released in sex, that generates life, and that is the basis for primary physical processes in nature and out into the cosmos. He found that this energy has distinct physical characteristics, can be measured, and that it can be concentrated under certain conditions. For ages, humankind has sensed and tried to understand this primordial universal energy. It has been identified as "chi" in China; "kupuri" among the Huichols of Mexico; the "e1an vital" in the Western vitalist tradition. Reich called this energy "orgone," a name derived from the words organism and orgasm, and he named the science of its study "orgonomy."

Following the death of Reich, a small group of physicians founded the American College of Orgonomy as a training and research center for the continuing study of orgone energy functions in living and non-living nature. Among the College's many research and educational interests is the raising of healthy children.

To explore the views of orgonomy on raising children, we asked contributing editor Wabun Wind to conduct this interview. Wabun has a long-time interest in the child raising practices of traditional peoples, is a new mother herself, and is also familiar with the work of Wilhelm Reich. Dr. Richard Schwartzman of the College agreed to be interviewed, and showed himself to be a direct, practical and thought provoking man who does not shy away from addressing the most controversial problems in the raising of healthy children. We hope you will join them.

Wabun Wind: Dr. Schwartzman, perhaps we could begin by acquainting the readers of Wildfire with your background and the work that you do.

Dr. Richard Schwartzman:I'm a medical orgonomist practicing medical orgone therapy in Philadelphia. My practice is in treating patients (adults, children, and infants) with medical orgone therapy. I'm a physician trained in psychiatry and Board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology as well as by the American Board of Medical Orgonomy, which is the accreditation board for physicians of the American College of Orgonomy.

Wabun Wind: What is the American College of Orgonomy?

Richard Schwartzman: The American College of Orgonomy was established in 1968 and founded by Dr. Elsworth F. Baker at the request of Wilhelm Reich who asked him to assume responsibility for the future of orgonomy. Its purpose is to set and maintain standards for all work in orgonomy, to promote and encourage scientific work in the field of orgonomy, and to provide training, education and information to those who are interested.

Wabun Wind: And orgonomy is the study of orgone, or life energy.

Richard Schwartzman: Yes. Orgonomy is the natural science of orgone energy and its various functions. It is the study of orgone energy in the human organism, in all living things, in the atmosphere of the Earth, and out into the cosmos as well. Orgonomy also offers an understanding of disciplines seemingly far removed from science, such as religion, politics, and social issues.

Wabun Wind: Many Wildfire readers are familiar with the Chinese concept of the chi energy, or the Native American concept of the sacred energy that moves through all things and is referred to as the Great Spirit or the Great Mystery. Do you feel that with orgone energy you are talking about the same energy?

Richard Schwartzman: Yes. This is the same energy that is described also as Prana. But Wilhelm Reich's contribution is that he has demystified energetic functions and has put its investigation on a scientific basis. This enables us to rationally see its functions within the individual, in nature, and in the atmosphere.

Orgone energy is primordial, cosmic energy. It's universally present. It is able to be demonstrated visually, thermically, electroscopically and with the Geiger-Muller counter. In the living organism it is biological energy, that is, it is in energy that is within us and is the source of our emotions and feelings; it's the energy that runs us. It's our life energy.

Wabun Wind: Would it be fair to say Reich's contribution was to make this energy understandable in the context of Western civilization?

Richard Schwartzman: Yes, he has made it understandable. To the extent that if individuals are willing, they can look at his work, duplicate his scientific experiments, and see it - orgone energy - for what it is.

Wabun Wind: I know that there is an increasing interest in Reich's work today, but during his life his discoveries were quite controversial and not well accepted.

Richard Schwartzman: I'm fond of Johnathan Swift's observation: "When a true genius appears in the world, you can know him by this sign that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him." Reich was maligned and then attacked. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) literally hounded him to death. He was incarcerated and died in the Lewisburg federal prison. He was sent to prison because he failed to obey a court injunction, not because any of his work was ever proven to be fraudulent. He simply refused to submit his scientific discoveries to a court of law for judgment. And because he held to that belief he was jailed.

The FDA mounted an intensive campaign to get Reich, and based it primarily upon claims they said he had made for the orgone energy accumulator. They maintained that he held out all kinds of promises, that he profited from the sale of the accumulators, and so forth. These claims were not true, but they were out to get Reich and of course they did.

Wabun Wind: Reich defined a form of behavior, which he called the emotional plague. Can you explain a little about that behavior and whether this campaign against him was an example of it?

Richard Schwartzman: The emotional plague is marked by destructive behavior on the social scene, and it is carried out by those people, or their institutions, who put themselves forth as doing something that is right and proper. They firmly believe they are serving a good purpose and that they do it for the "good" of others. However, the motives they give are not the real ones. They are rationalizations. Plague characters can't tolerate living life, especially sexuality, because they are themselves so sexually starved. They are intelligent and aggressive and are driven to block and control joy, aliveness, and the natural sexual expression. It was the emotional plague that killed Reich.

He wrote about sexuality and was bold enough to use the term orgasm and speak of infant and childhood sexuality. The plague came out against him claiming he was sexually perverted himself, that in his therapy he promoted sexual promiscuity and so forth.

Wabun Wind: What is Reich's therapy, or what is now called medical orgone therapy?

Richard Schwartzman: Medical orgone therapy involves both psychological interventions through talking, and direct biophysical work on the body. In the verbal part of the treatment we don't hark back to the past a great deal, but rather focus on present-day problems. We look at the individual's character attitudes and their defense mechanisms. Reich made the remarkable discovery that it wasn't always what the patient talked about but rather how he or she presented the material.

For example, some individuals are aggressive and "know it alls," others are always nice and polite, some are superior and sarcastic, while still others are overly accommodating, or act always as good little boys or girls. The ways we act are many and no two individuals are the same. How we now present ourselves to the world reveals how we had to be when we were growing up. This was the way we adapted to avoid anxiety and to survive. It's the character defense, or character armor as Reich called it, which is still alive in the present, that is dealt with in treatment. When this is done correctly it automatically leads the patient into deeper realms of repressed emotions, feelings and often memories. This is the characteranalytic aspect of therapy in very simplified terms.

Later Reich introduced direct work on the body to relieve the spasms and contractions that are held within the body. This is what Reich termed the "muscular armor." Reich was the first to work in this manner but he's rarely acknowledged as the pioneer of all body-oriented therapies.

What Reich discovered was that the character attitudes and the biophysical holdings in the body, what we call the armor,are two sides of the same coin. What we hold in our bodies biophysically is really the repressed emotions and feelings that Freud called the unconscious. The unconscious is not somewhere in the mind, wherever that might be, but is held physically within the body in the armor.

With the body work the repressed rage, fear and sadness and other feelings and emotions are released to free up the chronically contracted state and allow expansion and the experience of pleasure. When this occurs the energy naturally flows downward into the genitals and strives for periodic release. The loosening of the armor allows a fuller and more complete orgastic discharge. This is the endpoint of therapy and we always strive for it. When the individual can periodically release their energy buildup in the genital embrace they will be able to maintain a state of health and be free of their neurosis.

All this might sound quite complicated, but it's really straightforward. It boils down to this: the individual is blocked from full functioning by both the character armor and by the physical armor; and the treatment attacks both sides of the problem. And I would add one last word: the treatment is often not easy on the patient nor is it short.

Wabun Wind: Would you give an example of what would cause an armoring?

Richard Schwartzman: Well, let's say we have a child who is very angry at a parent. Of course, the child cannot express that rage because of the repercussions that would come down upon him. So he holds it in by tightening his jaw and clenching his teeth, stiffening his neck and holding his breath. The rage remains stuck in his arms and shoulders because it can't be expressed.

When this process is repeated over and over, when it is necessitated by the conditions under which the child is forced to grow up, the holdings become chronically anchored in the body and the person develops muscular spasms (involuntary muscular contractions and tensions) throughout the body which serve to bind up the repressed emotions.

Wabun Wind: Are people aware that they have these spasms, that they are holding these feelings in their musculature?

Richard Schwartzman: Most times not. Their armorings are within them, but they're not too aware of them. If the armoring is tight enough the individual is not aware that he's rigidified. It's when the armor doesn't completely hold that the person develops headaches or a stiff neck or tight shoulders, and so on.

This is why we so much enjoy exercise or a massage. It relieves the armoring temporarily, but unfortunately it returns quickly. Only the release of the chronic spasms through the expression of long repressed feelings and emotions will bring permanent relief. But mostly these holdings are so anchored in the body people are not aware they have them except to the extent that they have some physical symptoms of discomfort. For example, they don't know that their headaches are the result of bound up rage in their head and neck. When the rage is gotten out their headaches are relieved.

Wabun Wind: Will chronic armoring lead to physical illness?

Richard Schwartzman: It certainly can. That's another aspect of Reich's remarkable discoveries: armoring is the basis for most physical diseases as well as psychological illness. Herein lies the solution to the riddle of the "psychosomatic" diseases that are so little understood and so difficult to treat.

When we talk about armoring, we generally refer to it as being in the muscles themselves, but that's not strictly true. The armoring goes through and through the entire organism; it goes into the parenchyma of the brain, it goes into the plasma system the armor affects every organ and every structure in the body.

Wabun Wind: I'd like to turn to Reich's work with children and his interest in their welfare which I know he was very concerned with.

Richard Schwartzman: Reich felt very deeply that the future of the planet depended upon how we raise up succeeding generations of children. To that end, he established the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust Fund for the purpose of carrying forth the work of preventing armoring in infants and children, which can begin at birth or even before.

Wabun Wind: Why don't we start with the parents', particularly the mother's state of emotional health during pregnancy.

Richard Schwartzman: During the pregnancy itself, it would, of course, be best if she could avoid situations that stress her emotionally. From the moment of conception onward, the mother's bioenergetic system is interacting constantly with the developing infant. Consequently, mother's orgonotic, that is, energetic, state is reflected in the energetic state of the fetus. If the mother is happy and expansive and feeling well and the energy is able to flow down into her pelvis and into the baby more readily, then baby is going to have more energy and be more pulsatile, be more alive and have more feeling.

Wabun Wind: From an orgonomic point of view, what would be the ideal birth conditions?

Richard Schwartzman: The ideal birth would be one that was natural in that there would be no medications used to sedate the mother and subsequently affect the child. Those assisting mother would intervene as little as possible and allow the process to go forward in natural way without the labor being rushed or forced. The surroundings would be conducive to comfort and well-being for the mother and she would be allowed to walk around and to assume any position that's comfortable. She would have her baby without a great deal of medical intervention and without the current vogue of electronic monitoring that all too often only serves to impede the natural birth process, and can lead to a Cesarean section.

Wabun Wind: What about at the moment of birth and right after? For instance, many hospitals, as a matter of course, put antibiotic ointment in a baby's eyes at birth, cut the cord immediately, and then take the baby away from the mother.

Richard Schwartzman: The moment of birth and the period of a few days shortly thereafter shortly are the most critical and important moments in an individual's entire life. It is essential that this time be handled well to insure the least possible outcome for the baby. So certainly the birth process should be as natural as possible.

The cord should never be cut until well after it has stopped pulsating Immediately after delivery the baby should be given over to mom to continue the contact that is so necessary between mother and child. The placenta will usually deliver by itself and often only then should the cord be cut.

What is actually done now, however, what is the usual hospital practice, is just horrendous. It's the murder of life as Reich called it. Taking the child, handling it roughly, taking it away from mother, putting silver nitrate which is terribly caustic and burning, into the child's eyes and then carting it off to the nursery to be bundled and stacked up with other children under harsh lights. It is just horrendous.

There are few situations that would necessitate the separation of mother and child. If mother wants to be with her baby, and is at all able to do so, they should be allowed to remain together.

The contact between the mother and child, is necessary to keep the child in energetic contact and to keep the aliveness and biological pulsation of the infant intact. If the child is separated from mother he's going to feel the separation, go off in the eyes, and become contracted, lonely, and frightened. We see that in the nursery where babies are lined up, screaming in terrible discomfort. And of course, baby can very quickly give up, withdraw, and go out of contact. Therein lie the seeds for schizophrenia, depression, withdrawal and the other psychological or medical illnesses that will follow through the individual's life.

Wabun Wind: Within the first day or first few days of life, the foundation for these illnesses would be set?

Richard Schwartzman: Reich felt that the first ten days of life laid down the roots for schizophrenia. It's my feeling that the first few weeks of life are certainly the most critical period. We know the character structure of the individual is formed by age five at the latest, and we now know this very, very early contact is necessary to keep the child in the best possible state as he matures.

I might note for the record that here, too, Reich was the pioneer who first stated 50 years ago that the very earliest periods of development in the pre and prenatal states were critical for future health. This is all just lately being discovered and is the subject for much current research.

Wabun Wind: How long should the mother and child have that close contact and bonding?

Richard Schwartzman: For as long as they can. If a woman must undergo a hospital birth, it's my feeling that the hospital is only for the purpose of having the birth, then the mother should check out as quickly as everything is determined to be okay with her and with the baby. I would recommend that that would be within hours after the delivery.

Wabun Wind: Should the mother or father allow the doctors to take the child to check its health?

Richard Schwartzman: Well, that's what they would do and that's what they will do, and that's where it becomes so difficult to stand strong and say, I don't want my baby to be separated from me. The hospitals will give good reason to take the child away. There's always good reasons given for what is done.

They'll say, "Well, baby has to be checked. Baby may suffocate. We have to make sure that the breathing is okay." They'll give other rationalizations. "Mother needs her rest. We can watch the baby more carefully in a nursery. We have to perform a PKU test." Now, these are all reasons that have some bit of truth to them. But they're really rationalizations and justifications for doing what they do, and they have to be fought.

You see here the emotional plague we talked about before. This is institutionalized plague behavior. It meets all the criteria. Plague reasoning and behavior always have some bit of truth that makes it plausible, some part that makes us say, "Well, maybe they are right." The plague knows how to hook into our fears and guilt.

Baby should not be taken away from mother. The contact must be maintained and to that end everything should be done to promote it.

Wabun Wind: How do you feel about the justifications for male infant circumcision?

Richard Schwartzman: Circumcision is a brutal, sadistic act of genital mutilation. There are no routine indications for circumcision, although we are finding that it is being advocated again for "good" reasons... this is the emotional plague at work again, that is, the "good" reasons are not the real reasons at all. It is simply not true that it is necessary or that it is preventive of cancer or the penis, or of infections and so forth. Circumcision is another assault, a genital assault, under the guise of good health or under the avocation of some religious group or another. But in fact, circumcision need almost never be performed.

Wabun Wind: Does having been delivered by Cesarean section have an adverse effect on a child?

Richard Schwartzman: I don't know how or even if children delivered by Cesarean are deprived of their later natural functioning. I've seen quite a number of children so delivered who were quite open and appeared to be free of armoring, at least in their early years. So I'm not sure that Cesarean is such a bad thing for the child.

However, it wouldn't be so frequent a procedure if mothers had more open pelvises and could go through the birth process naturally. But because of pelvic armoring, which is virtually universal, there is a holding in the pelvis that can ultimately lead to the need for a Cesarean section.

Cesarean sections are performed for varying reasons, but most of these surgical interventions could be averted. Armoring in the pelvis hinders mother from opening up and makes natural delivery difficult. The origin of armoring goes back thousands of years, but in addition to the armoring, there are the other, more recent artifacts of our culture that inhibit natural childbirth. There is the interference with mother's privacy, the imposition of an artificial and often hostile environment, and most recently the mechanization of obstetrics. Dr. Michel Odent states that fetal monitoring produces only one consistent consequence: an increased rate of Cesarean section.

Wabun Wind: But when a mother delivers a baby by Cesarean, she's under anesthetic. Isn't that going to interfere with establishing the maternal-infant bond?

Richard Schwartzman: Yes, that is true, but under that circumstance father or some other contactful person can stand in for mother. But when mother comes out of her anesthesia, she should have baby straight away.

Wabun Wind: Can a father have the same kind of bond as a mother with a baby in those early days?

Richard Schwartzman: I think there might be something special about the energetic relationship that was between mother and baby through all of the pregnancy that makes that continued contact after birth unique. However, father, of course, also bonds with the baby, and that bond is an important one.

Wabun Wind: What are some of the things a father might do or be attentive to at the birth and in the first days?

Richard Schwartzman: Father's job is to allow mother and baby to continue to remain in contact with each other. He should take care of the chores, keep friends and relations at bay, and keep Mother and baby as comfortable as possible.

Wabun Wind: How important is nursing to a strong maternal-infant bond?

Richard Schwartzman: It's certainly helpful, and it should be encouraged and promoted. Unfortunately, all too often, it isn't although the La Leche League is a wonderful organization that does encourage mothers to nurse. But it is the contact between mother and infant in nursing that is so critical, it's not the antibodies or the vitamins that are in mother's colostrum or breast milk that are so important. Rather, it's the orgonotic charge. If mother has an alive, erectile nipple with feeling and enjoyment, she can experience the nursing as pleasurable, and have genital feelings and streamings as a result of the nursing. And it is the baby's mouth and lips that enjoy the feeling that comes from suckling. It is this bonding and this energetic charging of each other that is so critical for baby in nursing. Now if mother is unable to nurse for some reason, and that would be the exception, that doesn't mean that the child is forever destroyed. The bottle can be given and if the contact with mother is good there, then that can be quite okay too.

Wabun Wind: How long in an infant's life is that close bond critical? For example, if a mother is planning a pregnancy should she plan that she will be with the child for the current paid maternal leave in this country of six weeks? Or would it be ideal if she could have a year with the child?

Richard Schwartzman: Well, it's hard to measure this in a time frame. It gets to be mechanical when you do that. Mother and child should be together for as tong as they are comfortable being together, and that could extend well past one year. Unfortunately, economics play a big part in this and a mother is often forced back to work, cutting short the period of close contact that she should continue to have with her infant. When possible, parents should plan to take off as much time as they can to cater to baby's needs.

Wabun Wind: How would a mother know that the child no longer wanted that much close contact? What are the cues?

Richard Schwartzman: Well, the baby would want distance and could become irritable with the closeness and indicate that by not wanting to be with the mother quite so much. Everything depends upon the mother's, ability to sense what the child wants and needs. That becomes difficult because a mother's needs often confuse the issue. If mother is needing contact, she may use the child for that even though the child doesn't particularly want that closeness at a certain stage of development. The contact is most needed in the first days of life and goes toward more and more separation. I would think that the first six months would be a very good start for the child.

Wabun Wind: But if the mother has to work?

Richard Schwartzman: The most important thing is to find herself a good baby-sitter who will handle the child well and be kind and decent and loving and stand in for mother and do a good job.

Wabun Wind: Yes, that would be ideal, but the real situation with most child care in this country is that at six weeks old babies go into an institutional setting where there four or five or six or more infants being taken care of by one underpaid person.

Richard Schwartzman: Yes, that's tragic.

Wabun Wind: Would you consider a one-on-one childcare situation preferable to a group situation?

Richard Schwartzman: Again, you can't be mechanical about this about this I could see a one-on-one with a bad child care worker being a terrible situation for the infant. And a good childcare worker might be able to take care of a number of infants. So it comes down not to just the ratio but the quality and the character of the worker who is caring for the child.

You'd want someone who has raised up some children and is decent and loving and open and is competent. The individual certainly does not have to be brilliant but has to have retained his or her own natural functioning.

Wabun Wind: Reich often talked about the concept of self-regulation in children. What does that mean?

Richard Schwartzman: Self-regulation is a function of the unarmored individual. If an individual is allowed to grow up without environmentally induced inhibitions and armor, they will be able to find their own way and meet their own needs in a functional fashion.

Self-regulation means that children regulate themselves. That is, as adults we must do our very best not to impose what we think is the right thing for the child versus what the child seems to want to do. So in feeding, for example, the child should be offered all kinds of foods and allowed to eat when he wants to. If he doesn't want to eat, then he doesn't have to eat. He can pick his own diet, he can pick his own clothing. Essentially, we as parents should be interested in aspects of health and safety, and in other regards let the child find his or her own way. Reich was very clear on that. He felt the child should shape his own self. He said that children should decide their own future and that it was our job to make them capable of making their own decisions and not destroy their natural powers to do so. The problem is we impose what we think is right, always in the best interests of the child of course, or so we tell ourselves. But then children lose their spontaneity, they lose their aliveness, their creativeness. We make them into individuals as armored as we are. And the cycle perpetuates itself generation after generation.

Wabun Wind: How does this actually work out? Say you have an infant just beginning to eat who can't even feed herself. You offer her food, and if she takes it fine, and if she doesn't, you don't struggle to make her eat something?

Richard Schwartzman: Right. Food should be offered and the first time they may pull away from it, and if they don't like it, that's fine, just offer it again at a later time. But certainly a parent would not force feeding or criticize or holler at the child. You don't want to scare her and make her contract and become fearful.

Wabun Wind: But how do parents know when they are imposing their way of thinking on the child rather than looking out for the child's health and safety?

Richard Schwartzman: Well that's the problem, isn't it? The parent will often limit the child's behavior and justify it as necessary for the child's health or safety. But in reality the limitation comes out of the parents' anxiety and then they control the child. For instance, if a child is jumping around and having a lot of fun a parent may say, "Stop that, you're going to get hurt." But it really isn't so much that the child is going to get hurt as it is the parent cannot stand the aliveness and the movement. It makes them anxious and it makes them fearful. So they stop the behavior in the child in order to quell their own anxiety. A parent should at least be able to say, "Stop climbing on that fence. It makes me nervous and I think you're going to fall." That's a lot better than "stop climbing on that fence, you're going to fall." At least it puts the reason for stopping in some part back upon the parent.

Wabun Wind: But will a toddler understand that?

Richard Schwartzman: All of these things are age appropriate, of course. One can speak to a child who is of an age to understand, and one has to do things without explaining with a child who is much younger.

Wabun Wind: I understand that in the Japanese culture, they advocate the mother talking to the child for, I believe, three hours a day. Do you think this sort of verbal communication with the infant is important?

Richard Schwartzman: Well, the Asian culture tends to be terribly rigid and I'm not surprised they would come up with a mechanistic approach of three hours per day. But mother should indeed communicate with the child from birth onward, although it needn't only be in words, it can be in the child's own vocabulary which is gurgles and grunts and so forth. It's the tone of the voice, the inflection that is communicated to the child much more so than the words. So in the case of the toddler, if it's a kindly tone, but persistent and understanding, that's going to be much better than a harsh tone or a shout that's going to be upsetting to the child.

Wabun Wind: Let's talk about the two's. People call them the "terrible two's." Why do you think that is?

Richard Schwartzman: The "terrible two's" are an artifact of culture. It's the time when the child starts to exert his or her own independence, and the parents then try to exert their dominance. That causes the terrible two's. If children were allowed to be themselves and to be their own way at that age, there would be less of the stressful interactions between parent and child. This is not to say that children should be allowed to go their own way and to do anything they want to do. They'll grow up wild, constantly testing their environment, constantly pushing and quite anxious themselves. So we need to provide structure, again age appropriate, for children. I'm not by any means advocating letting children just grow up wildly.

Wabun Wind: What do you mean by structure? For instance, with the two-year-old, what would be an appropriate way to give them structure and promote their self-regulation at the same time?

Richard Schwartzman: Well, if they're throwing something around, you just tell them they cannot throw these things around and you can give them some reason as to why. Don't give them a long intellectual dissertation on what they're doing and why they shouldn't. But you need to stop them from throwing things around, breaking furniture, or breaking objects. Again, persistently and firmly, so that they know they cannot just do anything they want to do any time.

Wabun Wind: A lot of parents have trouble with the word no, and that's the word you usually hear a two year old shouting back at parents. Is no an appropriate thing to say to a child? Or is that parent dominant? For instance, a child walks over to it vase in somebody's home and you need to be able to stop them before they break it. How do you appropriately do that?

Richard Schwartzman: Ideally the vase wouldn't be within their reach, and that's why we childproof houses, so we don't have to be constantly saying no to our children. But in such a situation you'd just have to tell the child he can't touch that vase because you're afraid it could break. It depends upon the child. Children, if they're free from neurotic aggression and not filled with repressed impulses, will naturally be aware of property and not break things, or do things that are out of line. You don't have to constantly tell a naturally raised up self-regulating child what not to do. They have a sense of what not to do.

Wabun Wind: And that just comes form within naturally?

Richard Schwartzman: Yes. You see, Reich made the point, quite contrary to Freud, that the child is not a wild animal that has to be tamed, that his impulses do not have to be sublimated into other areas for productivity. That is, if just left the child alone and allowed it to grow tip, it would find its own way quite naturally and quite functionally and shape the world around itself so that it would be able to live in that world. We don't need to constantly be telling the child what to do.

True, the child would not act or be the way the parent feels it should be, but rather it would be its own person. So many of the song lyrics and the themes of plays and great literature are about this. We're told to be individuals, trust our feelings, find our own way, follow the path less traveled by, and soon. But we shape and mold our children to how we think they should be, and then wonder why they end up unsure of themselves and unhappy.

Children will grow up quite all right if they're left alone. They'll feed themselves, they'll dress themselves, they'll be decent, they'll be polite, they'll be courteous, they'll even share. The healthy child will not function well unless he has freedom.

The neurotic child can't tolerate freedom and needs discipline. It's the armored children who have to be told what to do and what not to do because they've lost their spontaneity. They've lost their natural functioning ... they've lost their natural pulsation.

Wabun Wind: But you said a moment ago that if you don't give structure to children, they will grow up wild.

Richard Schwartzman: Reich tells us that sick functioning crowds out healthy functioning. It all comes down to what is neurotic and what isn't. In theory, if left alone, children would grow up just fine. But the reality is that children grow up with parents who are themselves armored and in a culture too that is armored. Therefore they pick up neurotic behavior. When we can correctly identify a child's neurotic behavior we must step in and stop it. But that depends upon our ability as parents to differentiate between behavior which is healthy and that which is neurotic. So you see our ability to raise up healthy children is determined by the degree of health we, as parents, possess.

Wabun Wind: So Reich's contention assumes a culture where children are not armored. And you're speaking now to the fact that you don't think children who live in our culture are growing up unarmored? Richard Schwartzman: An unarmored condition is, I think, impossible. The environment and the culture are such that they do impinge on the child and produce armoring.

We know we can't raise children who are totally unarmored. Reich stresses that the prevention of rigid armoring is the main and central goal. We're not out to raise unarmored children. We're out to prevent the chronic armoring that gets solidified and limits functioning. Armoring in itself is not possible to totally prevent. But we can, at least we should try to, prevent the rigid, chronic contractions that are commonplace. If you tried to raise an unarmored child would you in fact be raising a child who could not navigate through the world today?

It is better to raise an open, relatively unarmored child and have him or her come upon the reality of the armored world. The idea that we have to toughen up children and make them strong to live in this hard world is an erroneous one. We don't want to toughen them up and armor them to live in this world. We want to leave them as unarmored as possible so that they can best navigate their way through life. This way they'll be better able to deal with armored individuals and the structural armoring in institu-tions that will be inevitably encountered.

Wabun Wind: What would be appropriate ways of disciplining a child who is self-regulating?

Richard Schwartzman: To the extent a child's self-regulating they won't need discipline. More often, you would find that it is the parents who will have to discipline themselves, that is, the parents will have to find the way to provide the best possible environment to raise up the child. There will be some compromising, for sure, but if the interest of the child is paramount then the parents will do whatever they can to affirm the self-regulation. And I want to be clear; it's very difficult to do this.

Wabun Wind: With respect to self-regulation, how do you view toilet training?

Richard Schwartzman: There should be no toilet training. A child will train himself. Pay no attention to bowel function whatsoever. The child will see the parent on the toilet. They'll emulate the parent. And they will naturally train themselves probably somewhere between two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half years of age. They want to be clean and they will be. And it will come about without intervention.

Wabun Wind: I think a point I'd like to make here has to do with the distinction Reich made between freedom and license. I see in some parents' attempts to promote self-regulation that they seem to be encouraging license instead. How would you distinguish between the two?

Richard Schwartzman: A child or an individual is not to be allowed to do whatever they want to do. That's license. With freedom, you see, comes responsibility. The difference between the two is the responsibility that comes with freedom.

Children will have a natural sense of responsibility if they are, again, raised up relatively free from armoring. It's just part of their nature to be decent and responsible.

Wabun Wind: Then you don't contrive responsibilities for the child? You let the child choose what he or she wants to be responsible for?

Richard Schwartzman: Again, it's age appropriate. You may at a certain age assign responsibilities to clean off the table or do some chores around the house. I don't think too many children would naturally and spontaneously undertake these things. But you do tell them they have to do it and you explain to them that that's their job, just as you do your work, and you can tell them that work isn't necessarily something to like.

Wabun Wind: How can you protect a child who has other caretakers who might not understand self-regulation and perhaps don't want to?

Richard Schwartzman: Well there you're up against the constant problem of finding good caretakers ... but I don't know that you can discuss it with them. It will be in the character of themselves a good reason for it. But in reality it is their anxiety that forces them into preventing the child from masturbating.

Wabun Wind: What should a parent who is made anxious by this do?

Richard Schwartzman: Go away. Leave the child alone. It's none of the parent's business. What a child does with his or her genitals has nothing to do with the parent. A parent should pay as much attention to masturbation as they do to a child rubbing its nose or elbow. It's the child's own business. The child will immediately know and sense that there is something bad about masturbation, that there's something wrong in sexual genital feeling, if the parent prohibits it by attitude or even tone of voice, and that's the starting point for how we end up with self-consciousness and guilt over sexual feelings.

Wabun Wind: So ignoring masturbation is better than trying to be positive about it if, in fact, you have mixed feelings?

Richard Schwartzman: Yes. You don't have to say anything about masturbation. You don't have to promote it. The child will naturally do it. And that's all that's important. The fear of parents is that, if they allow it, the child will grow up masturbating openly in public. That's nonsense.

Wabun Wind: How can most babies today who are put in tight disposable diapers accomplish masturbation?

Richard Schwartzman: That's quite a problem. What effect that has I don't know, but I've thought about it myself and probably it is quite a bad thing to be constantly diapered up and not able to touch the genitals.

It would be a good idea if parents let the child go without clothing when possible. Of course, that has its downside in a practical way, but after all, we weren't born with clothing. This again is an artifact of our culture.

Wabun Wind: How would you discuss the issue of masturbation with a potential caretaker? If it's not mentioned, there could be a potential dilemma for the child if the caretaker sees them touch their genitals and says that that's a bad thing.

Richard Schwartzman: You could find out what their attitude is toward genital play, toward masturbation.

Wabun Wind: Just by asking?

Richard Schwartzman: Yes. Directly. It's very important to find out their attitude and not to leave the child with someone who is sex-negative.

Wabun Wind: The problems about their children's sexual expression seems even more severe when the children reach puberty.

Richard Schwartzman: Well, puberty is when sexuality emerges in strong measure and presses for release, and this is exactly why and when society comes down strongly to prohibit it ... and then we wonder why we have juvenile delinquents and children who are so disturbed. Their sexual needs are not met and they're driven crazy and into irrational behavior and actions because they have no outlet for their sharp rise in energy and their need for release through sex. The problems of juveniles can be directly and indirectly traced to repression of natural sexual strivings, strivings that are thwarted by society. Undischarged sexual energy fuels juvenile delinquency, rape, and drug and alcohol use.

Wabun Wind: An adolescent should have the right to private time to fulfill his or her own sexual needs. But this goes against just about everything this culture stands for. Some of the hottest issues in education are about sexual education. Some of the most virulent attacks on people come about if they're advocating contraception for teenagers or knowledge of that. Why is this?

Richard Schwartzman: Sexuality is something that just strikes terror into the hearts of armored men and women. So it is stopped wherever it shows itself. It's the emotional plague again, where individuals on the social scene dictate what they feel is right and proper for others to do, and they justify it as necessary. But the key to the emotional plague is that the reason they give for what they do is not the real reason.

Although individuals will talk about pregnancy and preventing venereal disease and establishing a strong family and so forth, that's not the real reason why they prevent sexuality. They stop it because it makes them nervous; they must stop it because it awakens in them their own perverse fantasies, their own unfulfilled sexual desires, and their own unsatisfied sex life. And that's intolerable for them. So what they do is stop that behavior outside of themselves in the environment; only then can they be at peace and at rest.

Now the average neurotic will simply suffer the emotional pain and unhappiness of their dissatisfaction, but the emotional plague individual acts socially to prevent sexual expression.

It is on this point that Reich's work hinges, the individual's energetic pulsation, their natural liveliness, must be protected if we are ever going to get away from the misery of armored life. Everyone who talks about adolescents, won't handle what Reich called the "hot potato," which is sexuality.

Wabun Wind: Yes, I've found that even people who agree privately about this, won't say so publicly because of the fear of what some others may say or do. Is there a way of fighting the emotional plague on issues like this?

Richard Schwartzman: The emotional plague is only fought by exposing it for what it is. When you have a plague individual you have to expose them for their irrational actions. That's the only way to get rid of them. Of course the plague is everywhere and one is up against a terrific challenge in trying to fight it on all levels ... fortunately individuals can be raised up relatively healthy even in an armored society, and that's very encouraging.

Wabun Wind: Is there anything else you'd like to add about raising up fairly healthy children in an armored society?

Richard Schwartzman: Let them be themselves and find their own way and develop to their own abilities and talents and don't try to make the child into something that he or she is not. Each of us have our own native intelligence, we each have different energy levels, we each have different inclinations and abilities. That must be respected in our children. If we just let them grow up to develop what they are, they'll be quite fine and quite happy and functional. The problem comes when we want to make them into something that they're not, something that we feel they ought to be, maybe something that we ourselves want or wanted to be.

Wabun Wind: Do you see reasons for hope for the children in the way society seems to be going at this point?

Richard Schwartzman: Yes. I think there is hope.

When we look back into history just a few hundred years ago, children had the same status as an animal on a farm. They could be bought and sold, they could be killed, they had no rights whatsoever. We've come a long way through child work laws and now we see (especially after 1945) keen interest in the United States and the Western world in the rights of children. It's really quite remarkable that there's such a focus on protecting children and advocating for them. The hopes are good if we can continue.

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