What is the Point?

Neither Reich or Lowen defined a permanent desireable state of existence, that is, they did not define "happiness." Rather, they both conceived of psychotherapy as restoring the basic conditions of obtaining good-feelings.

Much is made about he importance Reich gave to the orgasm reflex. The orgasm reflex is a respiratory phenomenon, not a sexual one, and perhaps it would have been better to name it differently. Still, some take this to mean that the orgasm reflex is the goal of therapy. It seems rather, that Reich used the orgasm reflex as an objective sign of de-armoring and a good point to stop therapy. The client then was free to go on and build a desireable life. Two goals that Reich did define are contact and self-regulation.

Lowen came to believe that building a good life required more capabilities than this respiratory wave. He developed several concepts, such as satisfaction, grounding, surrender, joy, and his important 'trio', self-awareness, self-expression, and self-posession.

Finally, I have defined two goals that may seem to arise more generally from the humanist tradition in therapy: flexibility and vulnerability. These are strongly implied in this tradition, but sometimes, because of the robust way of living encouraged by Reich and Lowen, they are mistaken to be at odds with it.

The reader may well ask, "What about love." The search for love is what underpins the search for emotional healing. Love, however, is a bigger subject than emotional healing. The Reich and Lowen tradition cannot subsume love. Love is notoriously difficult to define, probably no single or perhaps no ten definitions can quite 'get it all.' Lowen did, however attempt one definition: "Love in the strictest sense can be described as the deepest feeling of tenderness expressed with the strongest aggression.*" From that it may be seen that the goals of this tradition are really the underlying capacities necessary to love. From there it is still a matter of finding a way to love.

The capacity to give and receive love implies good contact, and an open heart, literally and biologically. Whatever else love is, it is a biological phenomenon that can be felt.

* Language of the Body, Chapter 17, Paragraph 30.