More On Cancer, Orgone Energy, Orgone Therapy and Dr. Wilhelm Reich

To better understand the following article discussing Heiko Lassek’s MD further experiences in the treatment of cancer patients with Wilhelm Reich’s orgone therapy (vegetotherapy), the reader is referred to the introduction to Wilhelm Reich, orgone therapy and orgone accumulator treatment as well as to Heiko Lassek's preceding report Orgone Accumulator Therapy of Severely Diseased People, A Personal Report of Experiences (Part 1).

Orgone therapy (vegetotherapy): Experiences with the therapy according to Wilhelm Reich in the treatment of diseased people

(A Personal Report of Experiences, Part 2)

by Heiko Lassek, MD, Berlin, Germany, 1994, translated from the German original & annotated by copyright © 2009 Healing Cancer Naturally All Rights Reserved

The following article complements and enlarges upon my personal report of experiences with the "Orgonakkumulatorbehandlung schwererkrankter Menschen" [Orgone Accumulator Therapy of Severely Diseased People] published in 1987, an expanded version of which has been published in a number of places.

In my now ten years of near-daily work with ill patients whose medical diagnoses center around the syndromes of leukemia, incurable pain und cancerous ailments, I've experienced some moments of confusion, with new questions and problems arising concerning the vegetotherapeutic treatment model and the true agents at work in the energetic orgone therapy devised by Dr. Wilhelm Reich MD.

When I started researching biophysical orgone therapy, i.e. the use of the orgone accumulator and medical "DOR buster"(1), on 19 cancer patients in 1987, I observed in some of these patients - particulary in the first four weeks of accumulator use - organismic reactions which required my intervention using the plasmatic pulsation work of the late Reich. In these treatment sessions, these very ill patients (of ages 50+) showed vegetative reactions which up to that point I had only seen in "normally healthy" people following many hours of therapeutic work: they showed soft continuous pulsation waves which many Neoreichian schools call "orgasm reflex".

With the appearance of these flow movements (bodily currents) after just a few orgone medical treatments, these patients also lost their inner blockage concerning the continuation of the accumulator treatment. Since I treated these people free of charge in addition to my medical practice, the patients were glad (and so was I) that this goal of my therapeutic intervention was invariably reached very rapidly and without requiring major therapeutic efforts on my part.

The apparent contradiction of having these seriously ill patients show themselves so unexpectedly "yielding", and seemingly attaining a long-term therapy objective in such rapid a manner didn't cease to puzzle me, however. Eva Reich who was spending several months in Berlin at that time, didn't know what to think either. She pointed out however that ORAC(2) treatments at such high doses had never been administered before, and that the observed organismic reactions could possibly be connected to that fact.

Identical observations were made - and became a definitive source of confusion to me - when in the beginning of 1988 I took on the first cancer patients on a continuous basis, using both Reich's vegetative-energetic pulsation work and the ORAC on them. All patients receiving both of these treatment modalities are alive at the time of this writing (1994). This article is meant to preliminarily sketch a number of learning experiences which we made on our journey together.

A number of body-oriented psychotherapeutic treatment modalities have been derived from the vegetotherapy technique developed by Reich in the 1930s when he lived in Scandinavia. These "bodywork" modalities include Bioenergetics, Radix and Core Energetics. Experiences with these derivative techniques published until the mid-1980s were based on "discharge work", often via the application of so-called stress positions with simultaneously deepened breathing.

This type of body work has yielded impressive results to this day when the treated person suffers from mere symptoms of overload. Vibrations and fasciculations(3) of facial and bodily muscles while breathing deeply and intentionally tensing muscles can revitalise chronically tense segmental zones in the human body and in many cases will bring blocked sensations newly into the patient's consciousness.

Practitioners of all these schools, however, also kept encountering patients who experienced no or hardly any organismic reactions. For such patients, the therapeutic approach occasionally was accompanied by temporary and in some cases permanent physical disorders.

There were patients, on the other hand, who while starting their body work therapy with rather serious character or psychosomatic problems, who showed vegetative reactions as early as their first treatment sessions, i.e. who reacted according to the idea of free-flowing bodily energy held up to now in the therapeutic community. After some initial confusion at these repeatedly observed phenomena, many therapists repressed what would naturally result - the questioning of the treatment model embraced by the Neoreichian schools -, assuring their patients instead that basically everything was fine and thus allowing both patient and therapist to feel secure...

In the beginning of 1988, following my observation of my cancer patients' reactions together with the above-sketched body workers' experiences, a completely new level of understanding opened to me which I will elaborate upon in the following.

What became striking and obvious to me was the fact that while this work, felt as unusually effortless by the patients, did lead to flowing organismic reactions on their part, the normally concomitant physical manifestations of a gradually developing self-regulatory energy flux did not occur.

None of these patients experienced cutaneous eruptions (skin rashes), a radical change in their eliminatory functions, sensations in the area of the nervous system innervating the heart, or distinct modifications in their wake/sleep patterns, all of which are phenomena which are usually encountered in any highly energetic treatment period.

It appeared as if their organism was capable of accepting and tolerating the intensified charge without resistance, and of re-releasing it via autonomous reactions within the same treatment session.

It was easy to trigger the reaction resembling the orgasm reflex as described by Reich, and even doing so continuously.

[In an effort to resolve the above puzzle and arrive at a deeper understanding of what was happening, as I had done at a previous occasion when encountering many inconsistencies with Reich's descriptions while doing microbiological research], I started to re-read Reich's major works as well as his late articles.

Beginning with his two autobiographical volumes "The Discovery of the Orgone", I continued with the third edition of "Character Analysis", particularly the section discussing "breaking into the biological foundation", "Orgonomic Medicine" and "Core".

Slowly, Reich's therapeutic journey, learning curve and experiences in the treatment of diseased people began to emerge. A formative influence for most of Wilhelm Reich's teachers in the 1920s was the hydraulic model of the faulty or diminished discharge of sexual tensions in the organism. Reich himself drew up one of the most brilliant works on the subject of this energy model when he wrote the first version of "The Function of the Orgasm" in 1927.

Neuroses were invariably considered as expressions of reduced or faulty discharge of libidinal tensions - a concept Reich found fully confirmed in his clinical work as a young psychoanalyst. The issue of the inability to discharge pent-up energy runs all the way through his therapeutic and scientific research until his magnum opus The Cancer Biopathy, presenting the reaching of the orgasm reflex as synonymous with the recovery of full health of the organism, of vegetative motility.

And until 1988, I too had overlooked several times the passage which without any warning, challenges the entire model of healthy functioning he had held to that point, enlarging and elaborating upon the levels of energetic expression in humans:

“A clinical comparison between the cancer biopathy and vascular hypertension has forced me to assume that built-up sexual energy will be processed in two fundamentally different manners in the biological system:

With the vascular biopathy (anxiety psychosis due to abstinence), the sexual energy remains biologically, physiologically and emotionally permanently alive. In other words, the organism's biological core, the autonomous life apparatus, continues to produce energy to full extent.

In a state of contraction, the organism reacts against this with outbursts of anxiety or rage and with physical symptoms such as Basedow's disease, diarrhea etc.

In cancer however, the energy produced by the biological core drops.* By thus diminishing its output of energy, in time emotions and excitations become weaker and weaker. (...)

My meticulous observation of their (author's note: of the cancer patients treated by Reich) behaviour contradicted my assumption/hypothesis that there were repressed emotions present in their biological depth. There were no emotions in their depth either!

Surprisingly quickly, we were able to reach the orgasm reflex but even here we met with weakened emotions.

Emotions are an expression of bioenergetic cellular excitation.

If one breaks through the curbed breathing of a person suffering from stasis neurosis(4) and concomitant anxiety in the heart area, then without fail or delay, strong emotions will appear.

Nothing of the kind with our patient.

Correcting her breathing in the space of two months did produce spontaneous vegetative movements, but no vivid emotions.

Since her orgasm reflex was weak, she wasn't scared of it, in contrast to a person with stasis neurosis who will experience terror in this connection. So her emotional coldness was reaching deep into her biological system."

(Reich, W.: The Cancer Biopathy, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, NY, 1973)

* Note by Healing Cancer Naturally

This throttling of life energy at its core is reminiscent of the frequently observed loss of will to live in people who develop cancer (compare On Causes of Cancer) and the teaching of various spiritual, esoteric and energetic traditions according to which our basic life energy is fed to our body via a higher instance called soul or spirit (ex-NASA physicist-turned-healer Barbara Brennan for instance talks about a star of light at the center of our being). And when the soul has decided to vacate the body, it will withdraw energetic support for it...

Up to that point, Reich's therapeutic path had been characterized by viewing neurotic symptoms as diseases attributable to energetic overload due to stasis.

Here now, after "breaking into the biological foundation", with numerous organic diseases the problem of insufficient charge (respectively insufficient capacity to hold the charge) was seen to emerge.

If the periphery and the middle energetic layer of the human organism are unable to store, convert and spend the energies assimilated via food intake, solar radiation and atmospheric conditions, the biological core must utilize and discharge this energy.

The energies to be discharged by the biological core break against the other layers of the organism and will usually lead to symptoms as compensative mechanisms to discharge the energies of the organism.

In cases where the body's energetic structures exhibit an insufficient capacity to hold an energetic charge, the biological core will resort to the evolutionarily most primitive path of charge release: cell division in order to lower cellular surface tension.

According to Reich's biological research, uncontrolled cell division constitutes the last possible way to discharge endogenic (the body's own) energies on (in biological terms) the most primitive level.

Beginning in 1940, Reich's treatments started to focus on cancer patients.

As he writes to his friend A.S. Neill (founder of the antiauthoritarian Summerhill School) at that time, he can't bear neurotic patients any longer; his main interest is taken up by research involving the accumulator and new possibilities of working on the organism's biological core.

He is fascinated by the permeability of the organism's periphery, by the inability to reach a balancing of sexual tensions between the biological core and the body's periphery due to the insufficient ability to hold charges in the skin, muscles and peripheral tissues, all of which require a radical change in his therapeutic interventions. ... "Orgone therapy" becomes the generic term for the new treatment which begins to crystallize - his work on the human plasma system.

"Let's now imagine the biological, physiological and emotional functions in a three-dimensional and plasmatic manner: before us, we have a large circle with a center ('Core'). The shrinking of the circle's periphery corresponds to the setting in of emotional resignation of the personality. The core, the center of the circle, is yet untouched. This process spreads towards the center forming the 'biological core'. The biological core is nothing but the sum of all plasmatic cell functions.

When the shrinking process has reached this core, the plasma itself starts to perish. This coincides with the process of weight loss. Long before direct impairments of the plasma function itself occur, however, the peripheral, physiological and character functions are disturbed: sociability, enjoyment of life, ability to enjoy oneself and experience pleasure, fitness for work, then pulsation and vegetative excitation". (Reich, W.: The Cancer Biopathy)

The term "anorgonia", synonymous with the blocking of plasmatic motility, together with the term biopathy, becomes one of the most important terminological coinages of Reich's later work. The "lowering of the total energetic function of the organism" (Reich, W.: The Cancer Biopathy) is accompanied by a "... hitherto unknown disease state of the organism which I've encountered in a particularly pronounced fashion in cancer patients as well as in persons prone to developing cancer". (emphasis by the author)


A central topic of Reich's advice and comments (as found in tape recordings of his training and supervision of physicians who studied orgone energetic therapy with him in the 1950s) is "we go down, down down in therapy, the less the patient talks, the better" and "we always move towards the simple, to the biological core of the organism". Working on the biological core, on the living plasma convulsion is what Reich's treatment and therapy is focussing on from 1948 until his death in 1957.

1 DOR = deadly orgone energy, a form of energy hostile to life discovered/postulated by Wilhelm Reich

2 ORAC= orgone accumulator

3 A small, local, involuntary muscle contraction (twitching) visible under the skin arising from the spontaneous discharge of a bundle of skeletal muscle fibers (Wikipedia)

The anxiety caused by the stasis of sexual energy in the center of the organism when its peripheral orgastic discharge is inhibited.
All somatic disturbances which are the immediate result of the stasis of sexual energy, with stasis anxiety at its core.
(Definitions courtesy of www.wilhelmreichmuseum.org)

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