Dynamic Physiology : Reich’s Four-Beat Cycle

In a previous post in this series, I described an aspect of Dynamic Physiology which relates to our four bodies (physical, etheric, astral, and ontic). There’s another aspect of our physiology which relates to the number four, and that’s Reich’s biological four-beat cycle. All natural, biological processes follow a fundamental four-beat pattern, which Reich described in the following stages : tension – charge – discharge – relaxation. To start to get a feel for this as a living process, you can begin, as Reich did, by mapping these four beats onto the stages of sexual excitation and climax. In those terms, the climax can be identified at the point where the charge reaches its peak, and begins to spill over into the next phase of discharge.

There are multiple practical applications to this model throughout medical Heilkunst, including these examples:

  • Studying Materia Medica — students and practitioners of homeopathy and Heilkunst are all too familiar with the long “laundry list” style of symptoms which are presented for each remedy in the traditional materia medicas. How does one begin to make sense of all this information, and turn it into knowledge? Consciously applying the understanding of the four-beat cycle to all of the symptoms listed in a remedy starts to lift the two dimensional list off of the page into something which is a three dimensional, living, breathing entity, which can now be known in its uniqueness.
  • Assessing the patientas a patient moves through a series of remedies, and corresponding healing reactions, the key question is always whether they are moving towards a state of greater or lesser health. Identifying a progression of symptoms which map out onto this four beat cycle gives a much more clear feedback as to whether they are progressing, or stagnating. Symptoms may be changing, for example, but if they all are emerging from the same “beat” of the cycle, then it may be more an indication of stagnation rather than movement.
  • Anticipating how long a healing process might take — if the symptom(s) which a patient is describing represent the second stage (charge), or third stage (discharge), then it is more likely that the remedy has a much shorter distance to take the patient through completion of the fourth beat, than if their symptoms are in the first stage (tension), and have a longer way to go to complete all four beats of the cycle. In some very early first stage (tension) symptoms, however, the remedy will sometimes actually work extremely quickly, as it can effectively abort the whole disease cycle without having to go through the full four-beat cycle.

These are just a few examples, but the main point is that this is one of the tools or models which we use to understand health and disease as actually living processes, rather than as abstractions which cannot so easily be linked to understanding change and movement.

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