The Founders of Heilkunst, and Romantic Medicine (Dr. Wilhelm Reich)

While Dr. Hahnemann provided Heilkunst with the very grounded principles of therapeutics, both Dr. Wilhelm Reich and Rudolf Steiner created the most extensive framework of understanding the functioning of the human organism, both in health as well as in disease. They did contribute many specifics of therapy, as well, but in the greater context of Heilkunst, their bigger role was in the philosophical framework they constructed. While our Upper Man was most illuminated by Steiner, the Nether Man was presented to the world by Reich, who is the subject of today’s blog post.

As a young man in rigid Viennese society, Reich had some personal experiences with a woman who was much more sexually alive than most, and profoundly experienced the function of the orgasm (which was the title of one of his later books). This drew him to the lectures of Sigmund Freud, who was revolutionizing medicine of the day by actually acknowledging the existence and importance of sex to health. While initially Freud’s star pupil, a few key disagreements gradually put a wedge between them, and Reich was eventually kicked out of the Psychoanalytic Association. The essential difference between Reich’s and Freud’s views was that Reich was driven by wanting to explore a true science of life (living functions), while Freud, as all allopaths, are fixed on dead forms. This includes the difference between building a system of healthcare around healthy physiology versus around dead forms. Think of the way that med students study anatomy and physiology on the basis of cutting open cadavers.

The most incredible scientific journey followed, taking Reich through many seemingly unrelated fields, such as psychology, biology, cancer research, meteoroloigcal research, social-political theory, and so on. Rather than understanding that he was a mad scientist, a careful study of his life’s work reveals a continuity of thought through everything he did, which was all built on the foundation of his key discovery and articulation of ‘orgone energy’, which was his term for life energy.

Reich’s contributions to the structure of Heilkunst are vast, and difficult to offer in summary form. To keep our focus on practical implications of therapeutics, his work with de-armoring his patients provides a very important orientation for treating Heilkunst patients, and having a framework for following the direction of cure as patients go through their sequential treatment. Likewise, the understanding of the natural developmental stages leading a developing child and then teen towards genital primacy, and then being able to convert that to orgastic potency provides a framework for health, and then likewise for pathology when one or both of these stages are blocked, and lead to neurotic or psychotic patterns.

The depth and clarity of his scientific observations are truly breathtaking, and he is in very good company with both Hahnemann and Steiner on this front. There was a brief period in his life when he had a correspondence and some meetings with Einstein, who was initially very interested in Reich’s work, but whose character structure could not ultimately hold the charge or implications of it, and he quickly retreated and cut off all future lines of correspondence. The level of health implied by a patient’s successful journey utilizing Reich’s principles is at the highest end of the definition of health in Heilkunst, which every practitioner should be internalizing as their own goal in their own journey of health.

One thought on “The Founders of Heilkunst, and Romantic Medicine (Dr. Wilhelm Reich)

  1. Stephen Cobb

    Thank you, Wm Reich! For bolding going where no man had gone before.

    Looking at Reich’s life, it’s a wonderful study of individuation toward the evolution of consciousness. As a younger man, he embraced the group soul and tried to work in mass organizations. Later, he embraced workplace democracy where everyone is responsible for their own work and initiative. Late in his life, he became a solitary pioneer, acting on his love function and his own resonant desires, which evolved the consciousness of the entire noetic community, by championing the rights of the Wesen for the Nether Man.

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