The Compliant Husband by D.A.F. (Marquis) de Sade

 THE COMPLIANT HUSBAND

 All of France knew that the Prince of Bauffremont had more or less the same tastes as the cardinal we mentioned earlier. The Prince had been given a very naïve young woman in marriage, a young woman who, according to custom, had been instructed regarding her daughter’s wedding night duties, by her mother, of all people, only the day before the wedding.


– Without further explanation, her mother had said, because decency prevents me from going into certain details, I have only one very important thing to recommend to you, daughter. Beware of the first request that your husband makes in the bedroom. Say very firmly to him: No, sir, that is not the way that an honest woman comports herself. You may avail yourself to anywhere else as much as you like, but with regards to that, no, certainly not...


Not entirely certain as to what anywhere else referred to, (actually, completely confused on that point), the young woman nonetheless went to bed that night determined to use her mother’s interdict, should it be needed.


They lay in bed and the Prince, in order to demonstrate principles of honesty and decency which no one would have suspected he even possessed, requested thatTH they do things (at least for the first time) in the traditional manner. In other words, he merely offered his wife the chaste pleasures associated with the hymen.


But the newly-educated young woman immediately recalled her mother’s advice, and hastily deploying all of her resolve, she said to the Prince:


– No, Sir, that is most definitely not the way that an honest woman comports herself. You may avail yourself to anywhere else as much as you like, but with regards to that, no, certainly not...


– But, Madame… the Prince protested.


– No, Sir! No matter how hard you may persist, you shall not alter my decision!


– Very well, said the Prince, confused, but nonetheless impressed by the similarity of his bride’s taste to his own, and by her single-minded insistence on him providing her with that pleasure.


– Madame, I sincerely hope that it will give you the same satisfaction it gives me. I should be very upset and angry if it were said that I had done anything to displease you!


Without further ado, and following her interdict, the Prince drove his manhood home between the twin globes of his bride’s beautiful derriere.


And let it be clearly stated that it is best if mothers do not to instruct daughters who are newly-married as to what duty they owe their husbands.


The result will inevitably be consternation, with the daughter possibly resenting her mother for some time after.



Donatien Alphonse François, (Marquis) de Sade (2 June 1740–2 December 1814) was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher and writer famous for his novels championing libertine sexuality. His works include novels, short stories, plays, essays, dialogues, and political tracts. In his lifetime some of these were published under his own name, while others, which de Sade denied having written, appeared anonymously. De Sade is best known for his erotic works, which combined philosophical discourse with pornography, depicting sexual fantasies with an emphasis on violence, suffering, crime. These works include The 120 Days of Sodom, Philosophy of the Bedroom, Juliette and Justine. De Sade was a proponent of absolute freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion, or law.


 

RJ Dent is a poet, novelist, translator, essayist, and short story writer. As a renowned translator of European literature, he has published modern English translations of The Flowers of Evil (Baudelaire, The Songs of Maldoror (Lautréamont), Poems & Fragments (Alcaeus); The Dead Man (Bataille). As a poet and novelist, he is the author of a poetry collection, Moonstone Silhouettes, a novel, Myth, and a short story collection, Gothiques and Fantastiques.

Interview with Chris Kelso by Tom Bland

INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS KELSO

Chris Kelso has a startling original voice who crisscrosses genres from horror to sci-fi, from transgression to nonfiction works. Here we talk about his new book, Burroughs and Scotland.




Beatdom Books has recently published your monograph, Burroughs and Scotland, how did this work come out?

 

Well, as someone who has been totally obsessed with Burroughs for years it just made sense to locate a connection. I have always discussed WSB in my work – and his creative philosophies underlie, even motivate and dictate, my fiction. Although I’m aware of the abstract notions of borders and the complete fallacy of nationalism, nonetheless my identity is shaped by my experience of being ‘Scottish’. Being Scottish, like in any other country, means a set of specific cultural values are imposed upon you from birth. It just so happens that the two seemingly disparate subjects (Burroughs and Scotland) have been inextricably linked for decades. I felt like I might be the man to explore and document this forgotten chapter in a committed way.


 

You suggest that the serial killer, Peter Manuel, inadvertently prepared the ground for Burroughs’ work in Scotland. How do you understand this?

 


Really he was just a spiritual precursor to a seismic shift in the collective psyche. An American-born Scot who came over and caused a fuss by killing a lot of young women. There was a lot of animosity and mistrust among Presbyterian Scots and American towards interlopers like Manuel and Burroughs. Scots can see and relate to the same possessing ugly spirit they both harboured.


 



Who is William Burroughs to you?

 


The ultimate outsider.

 


How do the themes of your work and Burroughs crossover?

 


Well, we both deal with identity and struggle. We both deal with yearning and deconstruction. We live in the darkest corners of our own minds and are incapable of compromise artistically. There’s also a bit of genre-hopping going on that we both share, but I learned a lot of lessons from WSB about stretching out my own flaws and wounds and reanimating them with some kind of new creative energy.

 


What is your favourite work by Burroughs?

 


It sounds so lame to say it but I love Junkie. I have such nostalgic affection for it, being the first work of Burroughs I ever read front to back. It’s very linear and autobiographical, and there could be a case made that it’s his least innovative work – but I don’t care. It’s spectacularly written and is a great jumping off point. The Soft Machine and The Job are close seconds.


 

What three books would you mention outside of Burroughs?

 


I’d mention Lanark by Alasdair Gray, Hogg by Delany, and The Sluts by Dennis Cooper.

 


You mentioned Alexander Trocchi, who was a very early influence on me, how has he influenced you?


 

He was less of an influence. He wrote a few lovely books – Cain’s Book, Young Adam, and the pornographic novel for Maurice Girodias’ Olympia Press, White Thighs, are all divine gems – but he wrote so sparsely and so infrequently that his roll feels thin. Trocchi was a great prose stylist, but a horrible human being. His connection to Burroughs is far more interesting than anything else about him (to me at least).

 


Burroughs was very influenced by dreams. I wonder if your dream process has influenced your work?

 


Absolutely. I have profoundly vivid and disturbing dreams, I always have. I feel so doused in their residue when I wake up yet my conscious memory squashes them minutes later and they disappear into the abyss of my cluttered prefrontal cortex. I think I am still haunted by the ‘feeling’ or ‘residue’ from my early childhood nightmares that they informed my later writing. But it feels intangible. Hard to explain. I know I was warped and traumatised and that my brain contuse to throw up hellscapes whenever I close my eyes, but because they are so spectral, so transient that it’s hard to speak about in any cogent manner. For sure my psyche is burned and scarred by bad dreams.

 


What are you working on next?

 


Interrogating the Abyss is coming out soon, another non-fiction collection of essays and interviews. Beyond that, I have a few things in the vague distance, but nothing set in stone. Some of it is very exciting though.





Interview with Vanessa Sinclair by Tom Bland

INTERVIEW WITH VANESSA SINCLAIR


Vanessa Sinclair is a psychoanalyst, poet, writer, publisher, and cultural theorist, who has a new book out, Scansion in Psychoanalysis and Art: The Cut in Creation, published by Routledge. Her work and practice combines different disciplines to create unique pieces of art, visions and psychoanalytic insights, and links to the variety of mediums she works in can be found at the end of the interview.





So your new book Scansion in Psychoanalysis and Art: The Cut in Creation recently came out. How did the work come about?



This book has been a long time in the making. In 2011, my friend Adel Souto asked me to write an introduction to a piece he was creating in Dada style. So I began researching and reading a lot about Dada. At the same time, I was asked to write a review of a book that had just come out celebrating 100 years of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA), so I was reading 100 Years of the IPA: The Centenary History of the International Psychoanalytical Association 1910-2010: Evolution and Change edited by Peter Loewenberg and Nellie Thompson. In this book, representatives from all the various IPA psychoanalytic institutes around the world contributed a history about their specific institute. So it was really interesting to see how the IPA institutes formed and spread around the globe. And as I was reading, it became clear to me that psychoanalysis and dada were forming and spreading around the same time and in the very same cities. It was one of those moments where it all seemed to come together in this wonderfully synchronous way, and I was really excited about this discovery. I wrote a paper about it and submitted it to this candidate contest at the psychoanalytic institute I was attending at the time. But of course that went nowhere. They didn’t appreciate what it was I was going on about. But then in 2013, I met Carl Abrahamsson at a talk he was giving in NYC about his first novel Mother, Have a Safe Trip, and he invited me to contribute to his anthology series The Fenris Wolf. He said the deadline for submissions for the next book had already passed, but that if I had a paper already ready that needed a home he’d be happy to take it. So my first paper on psychoanalysis and dada found its home there.


Also in 2013, I was hanging out with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge a lot. I’d be co-teaching a class on Gender, Sexuality and Perversion at The New School for Social Research with Jamieson Webster, and had invited Gen to be a guest speaker in the class. That was quite an experience in itself, introducing all these undergrad psychology students to Gen and h/er work, as most of the students weren’t even familiar with industrial music, let alone Pandrogeny. Anyway, Gen and I became fast friends after that and were pretty inseparable for a while there. During that time, I started writing about psychoanalysis and pandrogeny. So those were the two anchors for the book: Dada and Pandrogeny.


It began to occur to me that most of the artists and musicians I enjoy use the cut or scansion in their work in some way, whether it be in the cutting up of language, collage work, the cutting of the body, or the disruption of sound. So I began to immerse myself more and more in the cut-ups of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, the Beat poets and filmmakers, performance artists and actionists, and artists who make life itself into a work of art. While I was watching a lot of videos of Burroughs on Youtube, I started hearing him differently. I began to notice that when he’s giving talks he’s always encouraging the audience to try cut-ups for themselves. “Go! Cut up!” He doesn’t want people to just watch him and tell him how cool he is and how great his art and writing are. He wants people to try it for themselves, to see how life changing it is. So I started cutting up my own writing, specifically the writing I’d done about artists who cut up. The first piece I cut up was the paper on polymorphous perversity and pandrogeny. Then I cut up a piece about John Zorn, and so on. This is the result of that first cut-up I did.


click on the image to enlarge

Also around this time, in 2013-2014, I’d been hanging out with a lot of occultists, tarot readers, and so forth. I met Carl, for example, at Catland Books in Brooklyn, which at the time was owned by Phil English and Joe Petersen. And all the tarot readers and occultists I spoke to kept telling me I was working on a book, or there was a book that was going to come out. So after 4-5 years of immersing myself in cut-ups and rearranging my entire life, getting married, moving from New York to Stockholm, etc. I decided it was high time I get back to that book I was apparently working on. And by then I found that with all the talks I’d given on the subject of cut-ups and psychoanalysis and magic over the years, I had a good outline or base for the book. Of course I left the overt magical aspects out of this book and focused on psychoanalysis and art for this one, which is published by Routledge. I made sure to write it in a way that’s accessible both for people interested in psychoanalysis and for those interested in the artists therein. I’m a big believer in making psychoanalytic concepts accessible, as they can really be useful for people in their lives. And for the analysts, I hope they’ll be exposed to some artists whose work they may not have been aware of. I love Freud’s saying that wherever he goes, he finds a poet had been there before him. The same is true for these artists. They may not use the same language or terminology, but they are exploring these concepts way before the psychoanalysts and theoreticians get to them.



Ballard was obsessed with his obsessions as a means of writing. What are your obsessions/themes?



Well cut-ups, definitely. Even when I was writing the Scansion book, I got to a point where I was feeling overwhelmed and stuck with it and wasn’t sure how to best order or sequence my points to create the best narrative arch for the reader, so what did I do? I cut up the book itself! I printed out all the chapters and cut them up and rearranged them that way. It’s a great way to put the theory into practice and really helps me get my neurotic ego out of the way so the unconscious can come through. The unconscious always knows best.

 


Who is Jacques Lacan to you?



I discovered Jacques Lacan rather late compared with a lot of people I meet and people I interview for the podcast. Most, it seems, discover his work in grad school, but I went to a clinical psychology program in Florida. I have a PsyD, and what I learned in that program was really how to work in mainstream psychological settings: clinics, hospitals, schools – institutions, really. There was little Freud, no Jung, and definitely no Lacan. I actually first came upon Lacan when I was in formal psychoanalytic training in New York City, and Jamieson Webster invited David Lichtenstein to come in and teach a short course on Lacan at the institute. Jamieson was fortunate to go to a psychoanalytically-oriented grad program in NYC in which David was one of the supervisors. That course changed my whole trajectory. After reading Lacan there was no way I could sit through the courses at the institute any longer. I was already bored before then, but studying Lacan was an epiphany. He brought psychoanalysis back to focus on language and dreams, which was really what it was all about initially, hence his “Return to Freud,” whereas what we were learning at the institute was all ego-psychology based, and really as I see it now ego psychology, which is what psychoanalysis largely turned into in the United States, is all about the analysand learning to make their ego stronger so they can keep going to work and have a nuclear family and be a good little cog in the massive machine of capitalism. To me, that’s exactly the opposite of what psychoanalysis is or should be. Psychoanalysis is a process that can help people break out of those structures and the stifling mind-frames that we’ve internalized from living in these capitalist empires. Psychoanalysis is a way out. Or it can be. And that’s what Lacan showed me.



How has the cut up method shaped your work?



Cut-ups have changed my life. As did psychoanalysis. As a practice, they have helped me break out of the bonds of so-called normality, so that I can feel more free to be myself and be more creative. And it’s like a butterfly effect. Once I started, I can see the reverberations. And it seems to resonate with other people, and they start cutting-up and seeing the magic in their lives, too.


 

Israel Regardie advocated that therapy is required before beginning magical practice. Do you agree with this and what do you see as the relation between the two?



I think Regardie’s idea that everyone should undergo a year of analysis/therapy before delving into magical practice is a great one. But I think everyone should delve into analysis, whether they practice magic or not. It’s a great way of getting to know oneself or at least understand oneself better. Contrary to popular thinking, it’s not necessarily a way to “fix” yourself or solve all your problems, but just by better understanding why you are the way you are, why you might be procrastinating, for example… maybe you’re not “lazy”… maybe you’re trying to force yourself to do something that you don’t really want to do or don’t really give a shit about but you’ve internalized some authoritative voice that tells you what you “should” or “should not” be doing. Maybe you don’t need to listen to that voice anymore. By figuring out whose voice that is, you can better set it aside and learn to listen more to your own voice rather than these internalized voices of others. I think the psychoanalytic process can help one learn to do this, as can the creative process and magical practice. They are all processes that you go into with one idea or intention in mind, and then through the process of creating/ psychoanalyzing/ practicing witchcraft, you learn a lot about yourself and your true desires, but après-coup, sort of after the fact. You learn by doing. The process is the product.

 


Transgression in the arts has become an idea that arises throughout history. How do you see/understand the need/desire for transgressing the norms of society as being integral to making art?



I think in line with what I just described, creating art is a way of identifying, working with and breaking down these norms that we’ve internalized, in order to create something new. That’s why I’m not such a fan of overly-thought-out artist statements, or overly conceptual art. I don’t want the ego or the conscious mind of the artist creating their work. I much prefer art that the artist creates in a sort of trance, and then when it’s all done, steps back from and takes a look at to then understand what s/he’s saying in the piece. I want the unconscious. That’s why I love Francis Bacon’s work, for example.


Artists also have this sort of pass from society wherein they can do or say things that the average person won’t dare to do or say, yet. “It’s art!” Artists are allowed to be weird or eccentric. That’s why when I created the first Psychoanalysis, Art & the Occult conference in London, 2016 (www.psychartcult.org) I made sure to have the “art” in there. Because psychoanalysis and occult alone is a big leap, but if it’s art, it’s ok!



Is there anything further you’d like to add?



I’d just like to thank you for inviting me here. These are great questions and it’s been fun answering them. It was wonderful having you on the podcast. You’ll have to come back again soon!



Vanessa’s bio and links to her work



Vanessa Sinclair, Psy.D. is a psychoanalyst based in Stockholm, who sees analysands internationally. Dr. Sinclair recently authored the books Scansion in Psychoanalysis and Art: the Cut in Creation (Routledge, 2020) and The Pathways of the Heart (Trapart Books, 2021). She is the editor of Rendering Unconscious: Psychoanalytic Perspectives, Politics & Poetry (Trapart Books, 2019) and co-edited Outsider Inpatient: Reflections on Art as Therapy (Trapart Books, 2021) with Dr. Elisabeth Punzi, On Psychoanalysis and Violence: Contemporary Lacanian Perspectives (Routledge, 2018) with Dr. Manya Steinkoler and The Fenris Wolf, vol 9 (Trapart Books, 2017) with Carl Abrahamsson. Dr. Sinclair is the host of Rendering Unconscious Podcast and is a founding member of Das Unbehagen: A Free Association for Psychoanalysis. www.drvanessasinclair.net

 

Art available via www.trapart.net

Music available via https://highbrowlowlife.bandcamp.com

To follow the more creative side of her practice join her at www.patreon.com/vanessa23carl



 



Reading Jeremy Reed’s Poetry by R J Dent

READING JEREMY REED’S POETRY

 

It’s taken me many years to find them.

Now that I have, there is a charge –

discrete amounts written on purple

labels, the strings of which are tied

in bows to fleets of hovering clouds.

 

Eyes follow the lines, the mind follows

the eyes and then overtakes. Images

become a short series of juxtaposed film

rushes, shown daily in a large, deserted

open-air theatre. When people arrive,

 

they are each comprised of perfectly-

joined silver/gold symmetrical halves –

their bodies of fire and their faces

of facetted ice. They have a cat’s amber

eyes and an intrinsic fluid inner grace.





R J Dent is the author of a poetry collection, Moonstone Silhouettes, a novel, Myth, and a short story collection, Gothiques and Fatastiques. He is also renowned translator of European literature, including the Poems & Fragments of Alcaeus (2012), and Georges Bataille’s The Dead Man (2020).


R J Dent's website

Interview with Dan Lowe by Tom Bland

 INTERVIEW WITH DAN LOWE


I met Dan online when I posted a quote from Wilhelm Reich. Reich was one of the most important thinkers on the relation between the body and mind in Sigmund Freud’s circle before being kicked out for the controversy of his views. Dan has trained in integrative psychotherapy, with a strong Reichian component, and below is the interview I conducted with him around Reich, therapy, and magick.


Dan Lowe


Tell me a bit about yourself?



I'm 48, I've been working in education for the last 12 years. Two kids, live in a small flat in London with my partner. Tried to implement some Reichian ideas with my daughter - breastfeeding, bedsharing and constant carrying. At the very beginnings of launching my own private psychotherapy practice.


Wilhelm Reich


How did you first hear of Wilhelm Reich?



Basically, I first heard of Reich through I think reading Robert Anton Wilson. He mentioned The Mass Psychology of Fascism, as well as some of his therapy experiences. The mention of Mass Psychology intrigued me because I'd always been interested in politics, but it never seemed ... enough somehow? Always had a tendency towards the managerial or the superficial solution. Reich's connection of politics to mass emotional life seemed so on point. I later was able to write my University dissertation on Reich, when I had a class that studied Mass Psychology amongst other texts. Through this, I met Peter Jones as I was casting around for people to interview, who is a mine of information on all things Reichian (or "orgonomic" as it should be- you can tell if someone is really into Reich if they use this word). 



Who is Wilhelm Reich to you?



He’s someone I think who said something really fundamental about life. You might not get really get this on first look at his writings (it;s easy to get distracted by the fascinating biographical details – and his legal troubles meant he never got to do that end of life retrospective summing up) but Reich is concerned with the basic simple processes of life as he saw them. He says that life is basically characterised by movement, specifically pulsation, and  in the human realm, there’s lots of social forces at work that stifle this. And once you get this you can see it playing out in all sorts of fields. Not just in therapy, but in biological processes, in childbirth, childrearing, in education, even mapping out into areas such as metrology and physics. A Reichican methodology is always looking for free movment in all of these situations (he actually referred to this characteristic of looking for the energetic movement in any given situation as a common functioning principle, and developed his own method of scientific enquiry based on this).  Most people tend to intuitively get his ideas about armoring straight away – they understand that their emotional lives are a bit constrained in some way, and we can feel there’s a connection between our emotion and our physicality, and I think that’s an example of how he speaks to life’s fundamentals.


One of my big influences in thinking about Reich has been my friend Peter Jones. Peter worked as a midwife, and used Reich’s concepts in and around birth and the early days of life. This again is such a vivid, human concern and that’s part of what Riech speaks directly to.



What happens in an orgone therapy session?



In an orgone therapy session - well, the kind of classical model, described by Reich, the therapist would try to raise the patient's energy level, mostly via breathing. The idea is that the increased in energy would stress the patient's armouring i.e. points where they're blocked and bring them to the therapist's attention.  Therapist Nick Totton described this process as the riot police coming out when the citizens become unruly! You can think of it as the "armoured" structure clamping back down and trying to hold on.  An easy way to relate to this might be to think of how conscious you become of your own tensions when stressed. The therapist would take note and work on this with a combination of physical and verbal therapeutic work. I don't think in practice a therapy session has to look like this at all but it's a useful guide. I used to work with my therapist 20-30m of talking and then a bodywork session where (perhaps) some of themes discussed earlier would be enacted physically. I tended to have familiar points of blockage (my stomach for one) which we had to work with again and again. 



What does Reich mean by body armour and how is it released?



By "body armour" (or muscular armour) Reich means tensions in the body that are held out of awareness. Might be a stiff jaw, a tense, overloud voice, a tight stomach or other tensions that are less easily noticeable. These are the physical corollary to "character armour" which are taken to be "points of tension" or hangups in a person's character. Orgone therapy works on both with the goal of the restoration of the organism's free pulsation. Muscular armour can be seen as localised contractions that prevent this from happening. This is expressed in the diagram on the front of all of Reich's books. One arrow, the body's energy, splitting into psyche and soma. It's released via a combination of physical work - relaxation, massage, movement, enactment - and mental - the direction of attention, characterological work. 


Wilhelm Reich and his Orgone Energy Accumulator 


Does images/memory arise when body armour is released?



Yes, though it's not guaranteed. I've seen it happen and had it happen myself (though with me only on an emotional level - the emotion arose, but not a related memory).



What made you choose this therapy over another?



I was always interested in Reich, like I said, starting with my awareness of his fusion of psychoanalysis and politics. So it was just a fruiting of that interest which has been long term. An old mentor suggested I try some of the "self help" end of Reichian exercises, which I did, but that only took me so far. Then pretty much luck I think, finding someone talented who understood his work and lived in the same city as me.



Was Israel Regardie right to advocate that therapy needs to happen before a person begins magickal work?



I think that’s pretty solid advice. As far as I can judge, that position arose from seeing Crowley first hand and up close, and seeing both how capable he was, alongside being hugely damaged. Any process that might mitigate the effects of the latter while increasing positive benefits of the former seems very worthwhile to me.


Israel Regardie

 


Magick has been dominated by Crowley’s definition with minor variations, but I want ro escape definitions in this conversation, and ask, how do you understand magick on an experiential level?



Well first thing I’d say is that if we’re talking about Reich and psychoanalysis, that those disciplines would be quite hostile to the idea of magic. And I think maybe magicians and occultists could learn quite a lot from that. What fantasies – in the psychoanalytical sense – are bound up with one’s practice? What does it mean, to take on the identify of “a magician”? What does that enable? What does it conceal? All worthwhile questions I think.


I’d add that magic is I think a floating signifier that means so many different things to so many different people.  On one level I think it’s about keeping a romantic vision alive in a materialist society.  And a lot of  it is just social theatre, in groupery, or straight up delusion and bullshit. But if you’re lucky, you might chance on a set of practices that has the potential to trigger some level of change or that allow you to build personal meaning in a way that’s new for you.  


I’m a big fan of Spare’s The Book of Pleasure – there’s a great quote in that where he’s slagging off the ceremonial magicians “They have no magic to intensify the normal, the joy of a child or a happy person”. I think they’re pretty good goals.


Austin Osman Spare



How do you understand the relation between magick and therapy? Are they the same thing?



Um, well one thing I’d say is that some of the internal process might be similar but their social positioning is very different. Therapy has to appear respectable and ethical (actually, it has to *be* ethical), people are making their livings from it, have to justify themselves to professional bodies etc etc. Magical practitioners don’t have to deal with all this, they can stay disreputable if you like.


I think one of the biggest differences is  actually the relational aspect. Lots of magical texts encourage solo practice (a spin off of marketing books I guess) and it’s easy when doing magic to isolate yourself ‘cos the prevailing culture has nothing to say about it. And that’s obviously quite a dangerous place to be. Therapy obviously has a built in relationality, from the off. You can’t do it on your own, and the role of therapist is to challenge blind spots, to ground you, to provide that warmth, contact and comfort that only another persona can bring. That’s why I think Eastern traditions have the idea of the guru – to encourage a social, relational aspect around these processes of change.


The body has been lost in much contemporary therapeutic and magickal discourse. Reich proposed that memories and traumas are trapped in the body causing restrictions and tensions which need to be released. How do you work with this?


Well, I'm kinda constrained at the moment because of where I practice (mostly in a voluntary setting) I can’t ethically practice orgone therapy – this isn’t what the organization I work for is about, nor is it what the clients are expecting. So I offer an integrative approach that draws on person-centred counselling but with an emphasis on the body. I’ve had good results using Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing (which rests of drawing attention to the body and allowing sensations and imagery to emerge). But I think the key thing is to establish a strong therapeutic relationship – the therapeutic alliance it’s often referred to as. Every client is different but if you’ve got that container where you can establish they’re liked and valued, I think you can do good work.


That same holds true when I work with clients in a more “Reichian” way  – everyone is different, every armouring pattern is different, but I’d still try and establish a strong relationship. And then I’d work gently with the client to see what emerges. I would work actively with the breath more and with the eyes – the starting point of “classical” Reichian work is with what Reich calls the ocular segment. There’s a lot of similarities between Reichian work in this segment and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprogramming) which is very therapeutically “in vogue” at the moment - only Reich discovered the same processes nearly 100 years ago!



Wilhelm Reich’s therapy has often been a part of the psychedelic discourse. With the increasing legalisation of psychedelics in the USA [and hopefully the UK will follow], do you think this will change therapy and bring us back to Reich’s vision?



I haven’t seen much discourse that connects the two – would welcome some links or references? Reich died in 1957 so a while before a drugs culture and the ideas of drugs as tools for self-exploration took hold. So he has nothing to say about them, as far as I’m aware.


I think that the potentiality of psychedelics in therapy, and MDMA therapies are both really exciting. I’m supportive of both, particularly because of the efforts the researchers involved are taking to manage set and setting and establish a research base. Potentially great work though it’ll run into the social armoring that Reich describes – the emotional plague” - at some point as it moves towards the mainstream. I imagine the research is surviving at the moment because it’s quite marginal.


On a personal level, I'm not that interested in drugs. I think they can amp up my nervous system and I think you need to be relaxed to tune into the subtle processes at work in bodywork. Psychedelics are very strong medicine and getting into Reichian therapy showed me that there’s so much in the body that you can tap into just with attention and breath.  You don’t always need the nuclear warhead, much as might be useful sometimes.



Do you work with dreams?



Absolutely. I've always had a meaningful dream life and my time in therapy was no exception. A recurring symbol was a dog which I took as the animal part of my self. I've rarely worked with them with clients though flor some reason - don't quite know why this should be. Probably because I tend to work more person-centred than psychoanalytically.



What projects are you working on next?



I'm currently mostly working on freeing myself from my current job so I can practice full time, which has been tough under current conditions! There’s a couple of Reichian-related writing projects ongoing. I’m also very interested in the Alexander Technique and am studying that – there's some almost direct lines of connection with Reich’s work as well as many points of difference. I did an “integrative” MA – where you look at how to “integrate” the different philosophical positions underlying therapies (if you can – if you can’t, at least you’re aware of it!) . I’m kinda applying the same process to Reich and FM Alexander’s work.



Is there anything you’d like to add?



One thing – if one is tempted to read Reich. And that’s that  central to understanding Reich is to take his statements on orgone energy as absolutely real and valid, even if this is just seems like a thought experiment at first. This is where a lot of people fall down with Reich, they see it as the point he becomes delusional. But it’s fundamental to his work.