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Character Analysis

  Character Analysis is one of the main concepts developed by Wilhelm Reich (1897 - 1957), who brought together in his work the theories of psychoanalysis and Marxism. Character traits, according to Reich, were the physical symptoms that the patient brought into therapy. The character was formed as a result of resistances to sexual (genital) longings and prohibitions. The ego or character armour had to be dissolved for the sexual person to emerge; Reich believed that if you cure the body the mind will follow.

Reich was able to identify symptoms, resistances and character traits as sharing the same source and mechanism. By retaining Freud\'s original concept of sexual libido as life\'s sole driving instinct, he supported a pan-sexual view of human nature. For Reich the Pleasure Principle was all; sexual energy and frustration explained all human neuroses. Anxiety arose from sexual frustration and aggression was a rechannelling of the libido. He disliked Freud\'s distinction between genitality and pre-genitality, and regarded the former as the only true sexuality. Fantasies during sex were regarded as abnormalities—he propounded the need to experience fantasy-free orgasmic potency. He disagreed with the idea of sublimation and thought creativity to be synonymous with an uninhibited sexual life. Reich did eventually add Thanatos, the death instinct, and a return to the inert state as the other, opposite driving force.

Reich\'s writings attempted to show that psychoanalysis had a dialectical materialist nature and could be called a science in that sense. He wanted the social revolution to facilitate the sexual revolution.

Reich also conducted a search for the tangible source of life\'s energies. His resulting Orgonomic therapy was aimed at dissolving the musculature armature in a systematic way. He saw the body as divided into segments (like a worm) and said that his task was to release each section in turn so that life energies could be restored. MJ

Further reading Wilhelm Reich, Character Analysis; , Charles Rycroft, Reich.



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