This week in CCA1103, my final blog week, class focused on the theories of Wilhelm Reich; yet another psychoanalyst preoccupied with the relationship between sex and the mind. However before I move onto the crux of the subject, first let me introduce you to the ‘Wilhelm Scream’. Although it may have little to do with the theories of Dr. Reich himself, it was still the first thing that came to my mind upon hearing his name. The Wilhelm Scream is a well-known stock sound-effect that was named after one of the early characters to utter the sound; Private Wilhelm, from the Western movie ‘The Charge at Feather River‘. Thus far in class we have been encouraged to look at the way our mind connects concepts, such as in the activities of week 3 and week 4 – so why not now?
This is creativity class after all, so why repress the free associations of the mind…
Unfortunately today’s blog is not an in-depth analysis of the many screams of Private Wilhelm, which would not only informative but also entertaining, but rather the many theories of the sexuality by the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. Reich’s theories, much like that of Freud whom we discussed in week 4, focused his energies on the way in which sex and sexuality impact upon a person. However unlike Freud, Reich was not concerned with the information offered by his clients, so much as what they avoided and resisted discussing; it was his belief that an individual’s sexual repressions were hugely significant, and a person’s character and behaviours were symptomatic of this repression (Studsor, 2012; Visosevic, 2012). In Reich’s work he introduces the concept of a bioelectrical energy that humans produce called orgone, the release of which is ideal as it allows people to express themselves appropriately (Totton & Edmondson, 1988).
In the lecture this concept was then demonstrated in relation Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid‘, thus ruining many an individual’s childhood. However, considering the nature of Reich’s childhood I feel that for us simply to have the ‘innocence’ of a movie spoiled is not so bad. So to continue this trend of noting the potential sexual implications hidden in the simple joys of Disney, let us look for a moment at the classic movie Fantasia.
In the section of the film title ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ Mickey seeks to imitate the role of the master Sorcerer and misuses magic to create broom people in order to avoid his duties – this concept of creating a ‘homunculus’ is one that Reich describes as man’s inability to understand the orgone, and thus our attempts to construct it in a particular form (Reich, 1942/1946). Yet the energy of the orgone cannot be contained, thus as Micky sleeps he releases a powerful ‘magic’ in his dreams that cannot be controlled, wreaking havoc (Reich). This comparison may be strange to consider and easy to write off given the close association of Disney movies and childhood, but interestingly this connection between the orgone and Fantasia was actually made by Reich himself!
Childhood completely destroyed? You’re welcome XD
During the tutorial, Vanessa also noted that repression can occur in other aspects of a person’s life, which can in turn could impact upon their ability to express themselves creatively (Barnett, 2012). We then discussed (in groups, then as a class) aspects of ourselves that we may have chosen or made to repress, whether it be because they are considered unacceptable or unacceptable, or perhaps hinder us in some way. This discussion was insightful and reflective; it left me pondering a number of questions about the positive and negative implications on conforming. In forcing oneself to become socially acceptable, are we in fact denying what makes us, us? But then to what extent should it be acceptable, or reasonable to move beyond societies restraints? You know… hegemonic ideologies and all that fun stuff.
So now that Reich has confused and intrigued us, it is worth pointing out that he did give us more to work on that just “repression is bad yo”. The very recently released fourth installment of the autobiographical book ‘Where’s the Truth?: Letters and Journals, 1948-1957‘ documents Wilhelm Reich’s (1948) tips on ways in which we, as creative people, can remain sane in this very insane world. They are to:
- Keep one’s life financially independent.
- Continue unabated to exercise one’s power of creativity in concrete, strenuous tasks, always seeking perfection as near as possible.
- Carefully cherish LOVE of a partner with full gratification, of the total emotional being if possible, of the body in a clean way if necessary.
- Keep out of the trap of confusion by the average man and woman, helping others to keep out of the trap too as best they can.
- Keep one’s structure clean like brook water through knowing and correcting every mistake, making the corrected mistake the guiding lines to new truth.
- Never yield to the expediencies of life except where it is basically harmless or where the main line of development is not impeded for the duration of one’s life.
Considering the murky depths of his mind and experiences, these suggestions are surprisingly (and pleasantly) simplistic. And so it is at this point, with these simple and concise life-tips from a potentially crazy psychoanalytic that I leave you. (No, seriously. A significant proportion of the psychoanalytical community dispute Reich’s theories as that of a madman).
More updates are still to follow on this semester’s creative project, but this is the last of my class blogs.
Have fun creating’ *tips an invisible hat to you*
Barnett, V. (2012, October 12). Wilhelm Reich. Tutorial conducted from Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.
Malvern, J. (2005). Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrrgggggghhh!! Retrieved 16 October, 2012 from: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/article1980057.ece
Reich, W. (1946). The Mass Psychology of Fascism. (Wolfe, Y. P., Trans.). New York: Origone Institue Press. (Original work published 1942).
Reich, W. (1948/2012). Where’s the Truth?: Letters and Journals, 1948-1957. (Higgins, M. B. & Strick, E. J., Eds.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Studsor, R. (2012, October 14). Wilhelm Reich. Guest lecture presented in Creativity: Theory, History and Practice. Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.
Totton, N., & Edmondson, E. (1988). Reichian Growthwork. Prism: Bridgeport.
Visosevic, T. (2012, August 24). The Creative Psyche. Guest lecture presented in Creativity: Theory, History and Practice. Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.
[Image 1] Ariel from the Little Mermaid [Screen Capture]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fanpop.com/spots/the-little-mermaid/picks/results/271469/whats-fave-little-mermaid-song-ariel-sings