Theoretical Parallels Between CM and Reich's Theories
Reich's theory was contrasted with the main theories used in TCM: yin yang, five element, zang fu and meridian theories. The following is an overview of the main parallels found.
The yin yang symbol and the Orgonomic Functionalism symbol may be associated with similar significance. Chinese medicine's symbol represents the interplay between the yin and yang qualities. Reichian theory has a symbol of the interaction of opposite energy flows. The two symbols both represent interaction between opposing energies that are mutually dependent. The energies described are capable of inter-transformation, mutual consumption and have a unitary source. The two halves of the yin yang symbol represent the two aspects of the unified Tao. The two directions of the Orgonomic arrows represent two aspects of the unified orgone.
The most commonly found shape in orgone research, the orgonome bion shape, appears to mirror one half of the yin yang symbol:
Bions have many different shapes when they develop. They go through a process of differentiation dependent upon the energetic and structural nature of the material from which they are formed. They can develop sphere and rod shapes and can cluster to become simple protozoa. When they first emerge however, the most common shape taken is the one described by one half of the yin yang symbol, which Reich called the orgonome shape. The yin yang symbol could be said to have geometrical biological significance from a Reichian viewpoint.
Using five element and zang fu organ theory, certain colours have been found to have similar associations in both Chinese and Reichian understanding. Blue corresponds with kidneys, which are the foundation of the body’s biological energy in zang fu theory. Blue is also thought to be the basic colour of healthy orgone energy. The deepest energy system in TCM, the kidney, has the same colour association as healthy orgone in Reichian theory. orgone, like qi, has many functions and its colour can change in different circumstances to reflect this. However, the base colour of healthy orgone energy is always blue. This parallels the foundational function of the kidney energy in zang fu theory and its five element association with the colour blue.
Reich conducted experiments that charted the spontaneous appearance of matter from orgone in his Experiment XX (Higgins, 1960). Reich noted that the colour yellow was usually observed in the Bion water preparations used in this experiment. In five element theory the earth element is associated with the colour yellow and is involved with transformation of qi into matter. The spleen in zang fu theory also correlates to the colour yellow and is again associated with energy-matter transformation. In both theories, there appears to be an association between matter formation from energy and the colour yellow.
The colours red and purple correspond to bio-energetic overcharge in both TCM diagnostics and Reichian experimental observations.
Movement of Energy in Organisms
Reich thought that biological energy has two basic directions of movement - expansion and contraction. Expansion of energy correlates to the dynamic yang element and contraction of energy correlates to the coalescent yin element. However, yin and yang elements are too abstract to provide detailed clinical information on their own. The movement of qi is of the utmost importance in TCM diagnostics. Therefore, as the main movement parallel, free flow of qi versus stagnation of qi in TCM diagnostic theory has been paralleled to expansion versus contraction of orgone in Reichian theory. To illustrate further, when qi is free flowing we note the muscles and organs can expand and pulsate in a healthy manner. Likewise, when qi is stagnant a contraction of energy and then matter has occurred resulting, for example, in tight and contracted muscles. Releasing a muscular stagnation always involves an expansion of qi.
CHINESE AND REICHIAN MOVEMENT OF ENERGY ANTITHESIS
FREE FLOW OF QI (health) EXPANSION (pleasure)
STAGNATION OF QI (disease) CONTRACTION (anxiety)
The basic antithesis of expansion and contraction is expanded to a four-beat pattern in Reich’s Life Formula. Reich thought that all life pulsation follows a four-beat pattern. This pattern corresponds to the four stages of yin and yang.
FOUR STAGES OF YIN AND YANG AND REICH’S LIFE FORMULA
| ORGASM FORMULA|| 4 STAGES of YIN & YANG|| Combined Characteristic|
| TENSION|| YANG WITHIN YIN|| Energy gathers|
| CHARGE|| UTMOST YANG|| Energy peaks|
| DISCHARGE|| YIN WITHIN YANG|| Energy dissipates|
| RELAXATION|| UTMOST YIN|| Energy rests|
In both TCM and Reichian theories, feelings characterised by emotional contraction (e.g. resentment, depression) can have contracting effects on matter within the body. In TCM terms, this is often viewed as the muscular effects of chronic liver qi stagnation. In Reichian terms, the same muscular knotting and hardening can be described as Armouring. This parallel will be explored further in the Liver Energy and Armouring section below.
In both theories, breathing and the lung energy are seen to connect the organism to the environment both emotionally and physically. Breathing is also the first step in the regulation of an organism’s energy in both views.
Both TCM and Reichian views regard the various organs/functions of the body as being equal. There is no recognition of a higher control centre (as associated with the brain) in either theory.
Kidney Energy and Sexuality
TCM theory views sexuality as a function of the primordial qi that belongs to the kidneys. Reichian theory regards the biological and cosmic orgone as being essentially of a sexual nature. Although orgone can be compared broadly to the general functions of qi, there is also a specific parallel between the sexual functions of orgone and kidney qi.
Both theories view the primal energies of the organism as the basis of sexuality. Reproduction is seen as a separate function of this primal energy. In other words, sexuality is not seen as a by-product of the need to reproduce. In both theories, sex is also seen to perform a regulatory function in the economy of an organism's energy. However, very different emphasis is given to this particular function. Reichian theory emphasises the harmonising effects of sexual energy release whereas TCM theory generally notes the depleting effects of the loss of biological energy (in the form of kidney qi or jing) as the major point.
The sexual aspect of kidney energy has been paralleled to Reich's notion of a sexual orgone energy centred in the abdomen. Fear and anxiety are expressions of deficient kidney energy in TCM theory. In Reichian theory, fear and anxiety result when there are blockages in the sexual expression of orgone.
Taoism, on which much of acupuncture practice is philosophically based, likens sexual union to the cosmic intertwining of yin and yang. Reich believed that the sexual embrace, posited streams of energy in the environment, and other natural functions, all follow a basic law of sexual fusion that he called Super-Imposition. Both theories view sexual frustration as a cause of disease and maintain that the universe is sexual in nature.
The Liver Energy and the Function of Blood
TCM theory maintains that stagnation of qi can lead to blood stagnation. Blood stagnation results in lumps and masses. Reich believed that when biological energy becomes stagnant, lumps or masses occur. He thought that stagnant orgone allows a negative Bion, the T-Bacilli, to develop from within the tissues of the body. The T-Bacilli is black and cigar-shaped. Reich viewed it as being the result of the break down of bodily matter. The opposite positive Bion (Sapa-Bion) is luminous blue and spherical.
Reich believed the body uses the energy charge of its positive Sapa-Bions to counteract the negative T-Bacilli Bions. Both are able to neutralise each other. Reich thought the actual lump or mass was the result of a build-up of weakened positive Bions. He believed the weakened Bions may then form into cancer cells (Higgins, 1960). In Reichian theory, a cancer tumour is a secondary process resulting from the body's attempts to fight the auto-infection with T-Bacilli.
Cancer in Chinese and Reichian Theories
Cancer is firstly an unseen bio-energetic stagnation and only later an actual physical mass. The physical mass represents a lowered form of cellular order - the body trying to slow down an energetic disintegration. Reich's process of the gathering of matter in degenerative disease and cancer appears to have parallels with the blood stagnation process in TCM theory. In blood stagnation, it is also firstly the qi that stagnates and only later the mass that appears due to this stagnation.
TCM theory maintains that blood has an energy charge. Blood is inseparable from qi, without which it would be a lifeless fluid. Reich also believed that blood carries an energy charge. He developed bio-energetic blood tests that measured the field of light emitted by the possible Bions and by blood cells. Other parts of the tests measured the breakdown rates of blood cells in the belief that these may also indicate their level of vitality and, by implication, their resistance to cancerous processes (Sharaf, 1983). Reich's blood tests pre-date the first Pap smears by over a decade.
The Liver Energy and Armouring
In TCM theory, stagnation of liver qi can lead to muscular hardening and emotional volatility or depression. The same processes of energetic stagnation leading to identical effects are described by the Reichian theory of Armouring. For in-depth detail on this parallel please refer to Mann (1973).
To summarise, Reich believed that Armouring is an organism's response to pain or fear. The organism creates a barrier that is at once both physical and emotional in order to protect itself. Reich thought that if the physical Armouring is removed then the emotional aspect also disappears. Again in the TCM view, if muscular hardening from liver qi stagnation is released the emotional flow will also be restored. Both theories view the psychic and the somatic as unified in the bio-energetic. The release of muscular Armouring in orgone therapies corresponds to the release of ashi points in TCM practice (Mann, 1973).
The orgone strives with whatever level of force necessary to break through its imprisonment by the Armouring. This creates destructive tendencies. If the energy is instead stagnated internally, it then becomes neurosis, psychosis or depression. The parallel with TCM diagnostics is that when liver qi stagnates, the lack of movement in the liver energy creates anger. It could be said that the liver qi is striving to break through the muscular tension created by the energetic blockages. Again, as in Reichian theory, if the biological energy stagnates completely there is depression.
In Reich's theory, the orgonome diagram describes the common movements of energy in an organism. Parallels have been found between the movement of energy in the meridians, particularly the Ren (Conception) and Du (Governing) meridians. The location and functions of certain acupuncture points (particularly Ren 4 guanyuan and Du 4 ming men) and movements of energy in the orgonome diagram (Southgate 2002).
MERIDIANS & THE ORGONOME
Since the writing of the academic paper some new parallels have come to light.
Both theories separate the male orgasm reflex from the physical discharge of semen (Reich 1973). Additionally the physical fusion of two energy systems during sex (superimposition in Reichian theory) is briefly mentioned in one Chinese medical text (Maciocia 1998).
It has been suggested by Ferdinando (2004) that Reich's seven horizontal segments of energy stagnation form a dialetical counterpoint to TCM's vertical segments of energy flow. The two views may form one system; vertical flow of energy versus horizontal stagnation.
Both CM and Reichian medicine use metal to attract biological energy. It can be argued that acupuncture is a sophisticated form of orgone manipulation.
Finally, both theories state that biological energy has inherent anti-gravity properties. I have misplaced the full details of the CM reference but I believe the author I found was called Lee and the book was published in 1992.
Summary of Parallels
Certain shapes for example, the Yin Yang symbol and Orgonomic Functionalism symbol, may be associated with similar functional significance.
The Orgonome shape may mirror aspects of the Yin Yang symbol.
Certain colours for example, blue (pure life-force) and yellow (life-force in its creative earth-bound phase), red/purple (overcharge/stagnation) may have associations with similar functional significance.
Movement of Energy in Organisms
- Stagnation versus free flow of Qi in Chinese medicine may correlate to Expansion versus Contraction of energy, in Reichian medicine.
- Energy can transform into matter.
- A universal energy may have a lifting and holding effect on matter.
- The deepest of the body’s energies resides in the lower abdomen.
- There are optimum orders to the progression of a treatment process.
- For matter or lumps to congregate energy must first stagnate.
- Foetal energy pathways determine the development of an organism.
- The regular positioning of ‘energy breakouts’ (see Figure 8 Item 5) may parallel the regular positioning of acupuncture points.
Emotions characterised by contraction (e.g. resentment, depression) can have contracting effects on matter within the body.
- Lung energy connects the organism to the environment emotionally and physically.
- Lung energy regulates an organism’s energy.
- Organs in the body are functionally equal.
- Kidney Energy and Sexuality
- The primal energies of the organism are the basis of sexuality.
- Reproduction is a function of the primal energies.
- Sex regulates an organism’s energy.
- Fear, anxiety or neurosis can be expressions of the dysfunction of a primary energy that pertains to Kidney energy/sexuality.
- Lack of sexual fulfilment can cause disease.
- The universe is sexual in nature.
There appear to be four main areas of theoretical difference:
As far as we know Chinese medicine has not attempted to objectively measure or accumulate a biological energy (Hoffman and Mann, 1980).
Pleasure versus Pain
TCM elucidates a need for harmonious emotions. It identifies the effects of a lack or an excess of joy, on the person. However, it appears not to include a concept of pleasure versus pain. It could be argued that joy is a form of pleasure and therefore related to the heart energy to which the emotion of joy is associated in TCM zang fu organ theory. It could also be argued that the specific organs feel pleasure when they are in harmony. This however, appears a superficial imposition of concepts. Utilising pleasure-pain concepts within TCM theory would allow a broader application of Chinese medical diagnostics. If free-flowing or expansive qi is directly related to the experience of pleasure and stagnant or contracted qi to that of pain, the TCM diagnostic model could encompass broader emotional and psychic realms.
Excess and Deficiency
TCM maintains that the kidney energy cannot be in a state of excess or stagnation. It states that the kidney energy can only be in disharmony when in a state of deficiency. Reichian theory may not support this view. A lack of movement within the sexual orgone energy is thought to be a primary cause of energetic stagnation. The excess created by stagnated sexual energies in Reichian theory would suggest that the kidney energy (which is the basis of sexuality in TCM zang fu theory) could itself be in a state of excess or stagnation. This argument, however, assumes that sexual expression is related to the kidney functions.
The liver ensures free flow of energy, stagnates easily and is also related to sexual function. The kidney stores the sexual energies but perhaps the liver expresses these energies. In TCM theory, the liver and kidney energy share the same root. It could be argued that the root of the stagnation could arise from blockages in the kidney's sexual energy but is then expressed elsewhere in another system such as the liver. Stagnation in the kidneys could be mediated through the liver or other organs. Nevertheless, there still appears to be a fundamental difference between the theories as regards the roots of energetic stagnation. In Reich's terms it would be hard to comprehend stagnation within the liver functions without a corresponding stagnation within the sexual aspect of the kidney energy.
Chinese medicine has developed a system of the comprehension and mapping of subtle energies and the effects on these energies of elements in nature, diet and lifestyle that is probably unparalleled in human history. Hammer (1990) notes that Reichian theory is elementary in this regard when compared to TCM.