The 'Sex Economic' Point of View

Most discourse about sexuality, either 'conservative' or 'liberal,' concerns either the morality of sex, or the nature of the erotic. The Reich and Lowen tradition, first, posits that whatever is healthy is moral, and then addresses sex in terms of health as described throughout this section. The tradition really does not speak to the nature of the erotic, because it assumes that a healthy and varied eroticism is always available if there is a healthy sexual function.

Rather the Reich and Lowen tradition speaks to the functional role of sexuality within the health of the person. It is a basic premise that sex is a fundamental and constructive drive that while it is based in biology, forms the basis of psychology, relationships, creativity and spirituality. Where sexuality is negated, biology, psychology, relationships, creativity, spirituality, the person and the larger culture all suffer. This point of view Wilhelm Reich termed 'sex economy.'

Now a little semantics are in order. The word economy originally means 'the running of the household', that is., the inputs, the outgoes, the functional relationships of the the things within. The sex economic point of view has noting to do with money, but only with the functional relationships of the elements of sexuality.

The sex economical point of view asserts that sex occurs according to natural and biological laws rather than according to human goals. Accordingly, if the ego gets involved in sex it is to the detriment of everything involved. This contrasts with a more will-based point of view that everything that happens in sexuality happens because of the meaning of what happens. Under this point of view, sexuality can only be 'made good' by the intents and wills of the people involved falling in line with moral precepts.

From the sex economic point of view, the motives of sex are important to the extent that a power or ego motive can dampen the physiology, but the quality of the sexual encounter is not proportionate to how hard people are trying to be good, but rather proportionate to the feeling and honesty brought to the encounter.

It has been noted that restrictive sexual mores and violence are correlated within a culture. Perhaps a relevant example is the intolerance in the American people for a long war in Viet Nam during the sexually permissive 1970s, but endless patience for a longer war in Afghanistan during the sexually conservative 2000's.

Without question, the Reich and Lowen tradition proposes a freer sexuality, once emotional health is in place.

The question of fertility and pregnancy should be addressed. During the twentieth century large families imposed considerable material deprivation and suffering on people, and Wilhelm Reich was acutely aware of this. One of the drivers of negation toward sex is the fear of pregnancy, especially in adolescence. Reich was very devoted to the availability of birth control and abortion. He also latched on to a fascinating but unproven idea. Malinowski, writing about the Tobriand Islanders, stated that fertility was very low in adolescent females despite a very frequent intercourse rate. Fertility increased markedly once these women married and desired children. A possible hypothesis is that the high fertility rate in industrialized cultures independent of human wishes is actually a stress response. This is of course, untested and untestable.