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Orgastic potency


I am now thinking of setting a preliminary point for this column with a theme quite close to Wilhelm Reich himself: his notion of orgastic potency.

A fairly common misconception of Reich is that he was a crazy sex guru who thought sex and orgasms were more important than anything else in life. In the 1930 century, when Reich lived in Oslo, these kinds of performances were also widespread. More conservative psychologists and medics, with Harald Schjelderup in the lead, called Reich's thinking for sexualism, and believed that Reich laid too much emphasis on the role of sexuality in the development of neuroses. Ola Raknes tried in vain to clear up the misconceptions that lay in the term sexualism, but to little avail. The prejudices against Reich tell a great deal about the society we live in and about the conditions of sexuality in this society – the time now.

Inflamed. Now it is true that Reich put sexuality in a special position among biological functions, but he still believed that sexuality was as prosaic as other necessary life functions, such as eating or going to the bathroom. When sexuality works as it should, there is no need to make such an awful lot of it, we believe Reich. It becomes a bit like the wheezing and bladder function – it goes away by itself, until something doesn't work properly. When sexuality does not work properly, it can become a violent rebellion, just as it might if something mechanically impedes the flow of the urinary bladder and the tension and pressure builds up. To talk about a good and proper sexual function is to curse in the church in today's society – the theme is far too inflamed. The dysfunctional man does not like to have his dysfunction pointed out, so it turns on all plugs.

Structure. Here we can make an interesting digression into Freud's little book from 1920, Beyond the principle of desire. Now I'm not a big Freud reader, I mostly read Freud through Reich, and it certainly gives a crooked look. But in the little book where, according to Reich, Freud seriously breaks his original program with the introduction of the death drive, Freud writes a bit about repetition and repetitive patterns. His point of departure is that people who have experienced something very difficult tend to get stuck in the difficult, and repeat it for themselves – including in dreams, as seen with World War I veterans, a theme that is otherwise put Freud on the track that runs through the book. Like Reich, Freud tried to approach these issues in an organismic way, that is, he raised questions such as: what is it about this organism that makes it remain by the difficult it has experienced, and why does it repeat it? an almost mechanical way? We might see it as an insect trapped behind a glass pane and flying into the glass pane again and again. The free, dynamic and vibrant movement, which characterizes a free biological function, is replaced by something free, repetitive and mechanical.

According to Reich, the sexual function is characterized by the build up of desire and excitement over time, and "requires" a form of ejaculation. This release then ideally consists of a "complete orgasm", where the charged voltage is discharged to a zero point. Just as when you gradually get hungry, and eventually it feels like relatively urgent to get some food. As long as you can get food, the eating and hunger function will continue to function in a dynamic way. On the other hand, if you starve an individual for a long time, or coerce him or her in a way that does not harmonize with the gradual build-up of hunger, the hunger and eating function will be disturbed – for example, by going around and being hungry and thinking about food for everyone time. Or maybe you don't get hungry at all.

Health. In the 1960s and 70s, when Reich's thinking gained a relatively high popularity – not least here in Norway – many were curious about how Reich himself was in bed. Since he went out to sit with all the answers to various questions about sexuality, one might have imagined that his own sexuality was something quite peculiar and incredible. This curiosity is linked to the question of what Reich really means by "orgastic potency". According to anecdotes we may well trust black women who had been with Reich, such as dancer Elsa Lindeberg or sociologist Grete Hoff, when asked, that there was nothing very extraordinary about Reich in bed. He was a warm and close man, and not much more to say on that matter.

A fairly common misconception of Reich is that he was a crazy sex guru.

So what exactly does Reich mean by the term orgastic potency? What does it mean to be orgasmic potent? If you could sum it up in a few lines, Reich might not have bothered to write multiple books on the subject. When Reich claims that sexual function is the mother of all biological functions, it means that he is trying to trace that function all the way back to the movements and behavior of single-celled organisms. In humans, this means that sexuality is given a form of orchestration function, which affects all other biological functions, not least the reproduction, which in Reich's opinion is subordinate to sexuality. Being orgasmic potent is simply having a good sexual function, which given Reich's premise also provides health and wellness. I can not try any more in-depth description here.
Næss is a doctor and philosopher. Regular commentator in Ny Tid.

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