What is the energy in energy psychology?
Orgone Energy -
the contribution of Wilhelm Reich, developed further by Karl Welz
In energy psychology approaches we work with subtle energy in its informational signalling functions, rather than direct work with the tissues as in bio-energetic and other forms of body psychotherapy. But what is the 'energy' in 'energy psychology'? There have been many names - such as: Chi, Prana, Life Energy, Bioelectrical Energy, Libido, Eros, Animal Magnetism - but the most highly developed of these concepts is that of Wilhelm Reich, the psychoanalyst* who discovered 'orgone energy' (the name alluding to the energy of orgasm) and explored it in the human body, as well as in biological and societal systems, and in the wider cosmos.Whilst appearing somewhat like a kind of biological electricity, Reich found that orgone energy has a range of strange characteristics. These include the following:
- It is mass free and is present everywhere, filling all space
- It is in constant motion. When blocked or stale, as in a rigid character-armoured human body or when in contact with harmful forms of radiation, it can turn into an opposite life-toxic quality that Reich called 'Deadly Orgone' [DOR].
- It displays negative entropy - rather than dissipating its charge, flowing from higher to lower potentials (as ordinary electricity or heat does), and losing information, orgone energy flows towards the already greater concentrations, builds up complexity and information. Thus orgone energy provides the basis for evolution of life forms and increase of complexity.
- Streams of orgone energy can be attracted to each other - human mating and the ecstasy of orgasm, in turn leading to new life, being one instance of this.
- It is possible to gather orgone energy in 'orgone accumulators'. Reich used boxes composed of layers of metal and organic material.
The contemporary researcher and inventor, Karl Welz, has made two fundamental further observations. First, in 1991, he found a means of generating orgone energy (as opposed to merely accumulating it). This involves the creation of a proprietary blend of metal and resin which is electrically stimulated in a particular way. Second, he discovered that orgone displays striking features of 'action at a distance' - phenomena known to occur between entangled particles at the quantum level. Welz found that if an object, such as a piece of paper or other material, is placed on one of his orgone generating devices, and an identical 'twin' of this is taken somewhere else (whether another room or the other side of the world), this twin will also generate a stream of orgone energy. This startling phenomenon of entanglement and remote action appears to follow the principle Welz formulated of 'a structural link', such that space as we normally perceive it is collapsed. As Welz puts it, the shortest distance between two objects is a structural link.By creating an experimental 'Deadly Orgone' device, Welz also discovered that his orgone generators could restore the DOR to healthy orgone.
Welz' observations of of remote action of orgone energy through a structural link provide the core principle around which many diverse phenomena (that are not congruent with conventional paradigms) can be understood - traditional forms of 'magic', remote healing, healing effects of prayer, telepathy, etc. More information about Welz' work and devices**can be found on his websites, such as:
Other experiments support Welz' observations. For example, in his book The Heart's Code, Paul Pearsall  reports an experiment carried out in 1993 under the auspices of the US army. Cells were taken from inside the mouth of a volunteer and were then placed in a test tube and connected to a polygraph. Then the volunteer was taken to another room and shown a film with many violent scenes. As he watched these, the cells in the other room showed signs of extreme excitation. This effect occurred even when the cells were 50 miles away from the person, and even after two days from the time they were taken. Thus the cells remained informationally and energetically connected to the donor despite gaps in space and time - illustrating the non-local 'action at a distance' recognised in quantum physics.
Pearsall postulates the existence of 'L energy' - travelling faster than the speed of light, and, like Reich's 'orgone energy', radiates everywhere simultaneously and displays negative entropy - being formative and organising in its effects - and, whilst often accompanied by an electromagnetic field, it has various features that are different from conventionally recognised energie. Stamford physicist, William Tiller, in his book Science and Human Transformation  quotes a study showing that both high intensity magnetic fields and the subtle energetic fields of healers accelerated the activities of enzymes, yet no significant magnetic energy could be detected around the healer's hands. On the other hand, James Oschman, in his book Energy Medicine  reports studies with a SQUID magnetometer, designed to measure weak human biomagnetic fields. When a practitioner of therapeutic touch went into a meditative state, a huge magnetic field emanated from his hands. Others, such as Marco Bischof have postulated the biological energy is based on photons of light - proposing that the body's internal system communicates through tiny amounts of biologically generated light.
Wilhelm Reich's groundbreaking insights and observations regarding orgone energy and its negentropic nature remain seminal*. They are highly relevant to the combination of information and energy that we encounter and work with in the various modalities of energy psychology. Moreover, his discernment of 'deadly orgone' [DOR] within the human body and character structure has much in common with the energy psychological observation of 'reversed energy', as well as Freud's original postulation of a deep tension between life and death instincts. Referring to characterological armour as 'sequestered DOR energy' - the 'dead stale bio-energy' - he wrote of the 'negative therapeutic reaction' as driven by a fear arising from a sharpened awareness of this sequestered realm*** [see the section on the Emotional Desert, in Wilhelm Reich: Selected Writings]. Fortunately, the modern energy psychology modalities appear to make alleviation of the 'stale energy' of character armour considerably easier than the methods available to Reich.
Charles Kelley's excellent summary of Reich's findings on orgone energy can be found here
*However, the vast majority of psychoanalysts do not accept Reich's orgone theory - although his work on Character Structure was well recieved.
**Welz' devices are not sold as medical products and are not intended to treat any illness or disease.
*** It is quite common for emotionally troubled people to feel that aspects of themselves are 'disgusting' - often deriving in part from a sense of containing deeply shameful qualities and of having been rejected by significant others in some profound way. However, Reich's work suggests the possibility that this feeling is also to do with an unconscious awareness of the DOR energy trapped in their system. Thus, Reich wrote in 1952:
"Investigation of a more recent date revealed the fact that people in general are aware not only of their being blocked emotionally, but that, in the form of 'hiding', they are more or less dimly aware of what they are hiding: DOR energy. Armoured people are aware of the potential expressions of the amour: its blocked emotions are felt as 'shameful', 'intolerable', 'unclean' or outright 'dirty'. This kind of self-awareness seems to be the very essence of the typical withdrawnness, bashfulness, embarrassment of people, especially of the reluctance to understand oneself. They have not only sequestered off the dead stale bio-energy in their organism; they have not only put up 'defenses' (psychologically speaking), 'armour blocks' (bio-energetically speaking) against the DOR energy and its expressions in their organisms, they are aware of the situation and hide as best they can even in the best of psychiatric treatment. The 'negative therapeutic reaction', in other words, the getting worse upon successful treatment can now be easily understood as a manifestation of a sharpening of the awareness of the organismic ugliness, of the ill smell, as it were, of what threatens to come forth with a final improvement of things. There is no other way to get to health than through the complete revelation and experience of the ill smelling, blocked off, sequestered realm of the self. And to do so, to have to face this humiliation, one gets worse instead of better on the approach to health. This is comparable to the 'crisis' in diseases characterised by high temperature, such as sepsis, pneumonia, etc."
[p 464-465 of Wilhelm Reich: Selected Writings (Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux 1960) and reprinted from the Orgone Energy Bulletin vol 4, no 4, October 1952]
Whilst very few contemporary psychotherapists would fully endorse Reich's perspective, his ideas were highly original and remain of historical interest.