Back to Publications | Back to Home Page 

Love and Sexuality in Human Functioning

by John Lawson © 1987, 2007

Body and Mind

Preliminary Considerations

    In spite of the apparently sophisticated times in which we live, a genuinely frank discussion of human sexuality is often an uncomfortable affair.  True, one can talk about sexuality - even one's own - but to speak honestly from the depths of genuine sexual awareness is a rare phenomenon.  Nevertheless, with respect to sexuality, many individuals consider themselves to be experts, and perhaps this is not without reason, for who knows more about the sexuality of a person than the person himself?  Yet there is obviously much variation in sexual experience and behavior from one individual to the next. If we are all experts concerning our own private sex lives, we may be somewhat in the dark about what it means to talk seriously about genuinely healthy sexuality as it applies to the human species as a whole.  In this regard, prevailing sexual views and popular wisdom unfortunately offer little to satisfy real curiosity.  Under the circumstances, it may be well to commence a discussion of human sexual functioning with a review of some basic biological details. 

    For purposes of clarification, a distinction must be drawn between the terms "reproduction," "sex," and "sexuality." [1]  Of these three basic natural phenomena, reproduction is primary.  This is evidently the case since asexual reproduction is operative at the simplest stages of biological development.  Reproductive behavior, however, increases in complexity in a degree proportionate to the developmental complexity of the organism.  Thus, the amoeba, a single-celled organism, reproduces itself by a process of division, and the "offspring" are identical in composition to the parent cell.  Some unicellular organisms, however, may reproduce asexually on certain occasions and sexually on others.  This is true, for example, of the paramecium.  With respect to multicellular organisms that reproduce asexually, N.J. Berrill has commented: "Certain jellyfish, sea anemones, marine worms, and other lowly creatures bud off parts of the body during one season or another, each thereby giving rise to populations of new, though identical, individuals." [2]  Reproduction may thus be defined as the biological production of offspring. 

    In contrast to reproduction per se, sex allows for the production of offspring resulting from the fusion of reproductive cells of different parentage.  The contemporary view, based on evolutionary considerations, is that under circumstances of environmental change sexual reproduction carries with it a selective advantage due to the fact that the transfer of genetic material that takes place in copulation enhances the variability of the genes of the offspring.  Under these circumstances, " least a few of these offspring are likely to have new genetic combinations better suited to survive in the changing conditions." [3]  This view is supported by the study of unicellular organisms such as paramecia, which periodically undergo what appears to be a primitive form of copulation which is referred to as "conjugation."  In this process, two paramecia fuse and exchange nuclear material.  After a period when the paramecia have conjugated, they may then revert to a process of asexual reproduction.  This may take place over the course of several generations until external circumstances, such as harsh weather or difficult living situations, stimulate a new period of conjugation.  Such a process suggests that the phenomenon of conjugation is in part explicable as a response to stress.  The activity of mutual attraction, fusion, interpenetration, and separation revitalizes the rudimentary organism.  Alexander Lowen has called attention to the fact that the phenomenon of conjugation involves "...a convulsive reaction that results in two renewed individuals." [4]  The analogy to sexual orgasm in humans is evident.

    Sex proper, involving the differentiation between body plasm and germ plasm, is found among primitive organisms in the volvox.  The volvox, classified by biologists as a metazoan, is comprised of a colony of cells.  Within this colony of cells there are two distinct groups.  One group constitutes the basic organism in its integral functioning as a unit of living matter.  Ingestion of food, movement, and reaction to stimuli are carried out by this group.  The other cells in the colony are sexual in nature, and it is by means of these cells that reproduction is effected. 

    Among the more simply developed organisms, hermaphroditism is common.  Sponges, for example, produce both egg cells and sperm cells.  Male and female cells, however, are not produced at the same time, and self-fertilization does not take place.  Hermaphroditism is characteristic of earth worms, which possess testes and ovaries at opposite ends of the body.  Some arrow worms appear to reproduce solely by means of self-fertilization.    Based on the variability of sexual characteristics in the animal kingdom, it has been suggested that "...primary sex, which is generally all that distinguishes one kind of individual from another in the case of many lower animals, denotes the capacity of the reproductive gland, or gonad, to produce either sperm cells or eggs or both...  An individual, therefore, is male or female or hermaphroditic primarily according to the nature of the gonad." [5]

    As distinct from reproduction and sex, "sexuality" may be taken to refer in a basic sense to "...the different structures, functions, and activities associated with the sex glands." [6]  The term "sexual dimorphism" is used to designate the clear differentiation, at a biological level, between males and females of a species.  Exactly what constitutes male and female sexuality is a subject that is investigated by observing and studying the sexual behavior of animals.  Such behavior is extremely diverse, and a general survey includes lifelong attachment to a single mate with male and female cooperation in the rearing of offspring.  It also includes nuptial cannibalism, vampirism, and other forms of violent activity, as among the arthropods (e.g., spiders, mantises, and scorpions).  In some animals, such as frogs, insemination occurs with male and female pressing together their respective "cloacae," primitive orifices which serve to discharge excretions from the intestines and kidneys as well as from the sexual glands. 

    The development of external genitalia can be traced through various groups of the animal kingdom.  As one author has written: "The penis was 'invented' by reptiles, rejected by the majority of birds, and rediscovered by mammals." [7]  Evidence suggests that the penis may first have developed as a tubular projection in the wall of the male anus, the tube being capable of extrusion during copulation and withdrawal afterwards.  This method of copulation remains generally characteristic of lizards and snakes.  The vagina, in turn, has undergone its own evolutionary history.  The specifically differentiated female genital, for example, is absent in the frog.  Herbert Wendt remarks: "Among the lowest mammals - the spring anteaters and the duckbills - the cloaca has continued to function as the female sexual orifice.  In the marsupials, however, the practice of conceiving and giving birth through the anus is finally abandoned." [8] 

    The variety of sexual behavior - the diversity of animal sexuality - is remarkable.  This variability has been depicted graphically in terms of the plethora of anatomical arrangements that facilitate copulation between male and female.  Dolores Keller writes:  "Animals have sacs for ova, sucker-like pads for attachment, and mucous secretions to assist in bringing sperm and egg together.  Others have clinging or sticking organs to facilitate copulation.  Hooks, barbs, palps, antennae, claws, nippers, papillae, stilettos, stingers, and modified legs, as well as threads of webs and sticky gum-like secretions - there is no end to the devices for bringing male and female together." [9]

    In the case of human beings, it is clear that reproduction, sex, and sexuality are all intimately interwoven.  What distinguishes humans from other animals is the increased influence of cultural factors in the development of sexuality.  One characteristic which human beings share with the other anthropoids (i.e., monkeys and apes) is the absence of a specific rutting season.  The alternation between ovulation and menstruation in the female is related to year-round sexual activity.  With the use of contraception, sexual intercourse among human beings can be more or less divorced from the prospect of childbearing.  In fact, evidence suggests that birth control of one kind or another - including abortion and infanticide - has been extensively practiced throughout history. [10]  Some anthropologists have considered the basis of human society itself as rooted in the need to regulate sexual activity.  This need is taken to be reflected in kinship organization, which is all but universally governed by some form of incest prohibition. [11]  Human culture, in any event, has its foundations in biological factors, for it is clear that the sexual needs of the organism are part of the animal nature of the species.  A satisfactory consideration of human sexuality, therefore, calls for an understanding of some of the deep biological processes which find their expression naturally in reproductive sex.  One such process is the development of sexual identity on the basis of gender differentiation.

    Various authors have addressed the significance of gender in the growth and development of human beings.  According to Stanley Keleman, "Gender is the given of human nature.  We are all endowed with gender, some weakly or poorly, others strongly or excessively, but endowed we are..." [12]  Some biologists have suggested that at the embryological stage of human development there are important somatic factors which influence psycho-sexual development in human beings.  It has been pointed out, for example, that "After embryonic differentiation of testis or ovary, the presence of sufficient amounts of androgens (as secreted in the normal course of male development by the testis) largely determines whether sexual differentiation of the sex organs will go along male rather than female lines." [13]  Other researchers have commented, in a similar vein, that "Sexual differentiation of reproductive and behavior patterns is largely affected by gonads.  In many higher vertebrates, an integral part of this process is the induction of permanent and essentially irreversible differences in central nervous system function, in response to gonadal hormones secreted early in development." [14]  The same authors contend that the hormonal effect on the central nervous system of the developing embryo takes place " the structural as well as the functional level." [15]  How one may best interpret the experimental data upon which such conclusions are based is open to debate, especially since one must draw inferences concerning human development on the foundation of limited and highly circumscribed investigations of laboratory animals.  Nonetheless, Keleman suggests that there may be said to be " embryologically based hormonal and anatomical thinking awaiting sociological experience." [16] 

    Whatever one's point of view regarding the degree of innate, gender-based elements in human behavior, a subject considering which there is substantial controversy, it is apparent that learning and environmental factors play a considerable role in the development and expression of human sexuality.  Human beings, owing to a relatively greater degree of neurological malleability after birth, compared to other animals, are more subject to the influence of environmental factors on behavior and experience.  This has been pointed out in a popular fashion by Carl Sagan, who writes: "We have made a kind of bargain with nature: our children will be difficult to raise, but their capacity for new learning will greatly enhance the chances of survival of the human species." [17]  Moshe Feldenkrais has commented on one aspect of the biological basis of this "bargain" in the following words: "...the nearer the weight of the brain at birth to that in the adult animal, the nearer the capacity for functioning at birth to that of the adult animal...  In this respect, the human baby occupies a unique position.  He, of all animals, is born with the smallest fraction of the ultimate weight of the adult brain.  Herein lies the most significant of all the differences between man and animals." [18] 

    The implications for human sexual development are clear.  The human organism grows under the influence of the postnatal environment.  The possibilities for variations in sexual behavior among human beings are greater than with other animals.  To some extent, this allows for greater freedom of sexual expression, but the likelihood of sexual disturbance is also greater.  This is due to the fact that human beings are both sexual in nature and cultural in development.  It makes sense, therefore, to inquire what factors impinge upon the developing human being in such a way as to affect sexuality.  Such an inquiry involves a discussion of love.

The Significance of Love

    It is interesting that love and sexuality are frequently viewed as separate entities.  For the Victorians, love was ethereal, a subject for romanticism, offering a promise of bliss, often at the price of martyrdom.  The dark side of love, however, was sex.  The mere mention of the word "sex" was considered sufficient to send a "lady" of this historical period into a state of shock.  Nonetheless, sexuality existed then, as now; and there was an underground of sexual activity in society at large, just as there was an undercurrent of sexual feeling in the individual, including those ladies for whom the mere mention of sexuality was abhorrent.  Indeed, it was precisely the repressed sexual impulses which came so prominently into view for Sigmund Freud during this period, in the guise of the hysterical and obsessive traits of his early patients and in the presence of neurasthenia as a common problem.  As one writer has remarked: "Most 'neuroses' were thought to stem from weak and delicate nerves, literally stretched or lax, overworked or overexcited." [19]  Freud's perspective suggested, on the other hand, that "neuroses" were the product of unconscious sexual desires struggling to find expression in the face of repression.  In this manner, Freud indicated that the problem of the neuroses was based upon the denial of sexuality and the undue sublimation of sexual desire.  In Freud's words: "If one passes over the less definite forms of 'nervousness' and considers the actual forms of nervous disease, the injurious influence of culture reduces itself in all essentials to the undue suppression of the sexual life in civilized peoples..." [20]

    Today, after the passing of the Victorian period, sexual ignorance and squeamishness have been supplanted in large part by sexual "sophistication," in terms of which the subject of sexuality is not only permitted to emerge in open conversation but has become almost a necessary part of conventional small talk. [21]  This situation reflects in part, the liberalizing effects of psychoanalysis, while in a larger sense it is indicative of broad social and cultural changes which have taken place during the past century.  The age of sexual sophistication has given way, in turn, to an emphasis on pornography and sexual violence.  Evidence that such an emphasis is widespread can be found in the entertainment media such as television, movies, and mass publications, as well as in the accumulation of sociological data regarding incest and other forms of sexual abuse of children.  Present trends, however, are subject to alteration, just as were previous trends.  The real question that must be asked is: what issues are central to healthy human sexual functioning?  One such issue, it may be suggested, is the relationship between love and sexuality.  The importance of this issue has been underscored by Alexander Lowen in his observation that "Sexual behavior cannot be divorced from the overall personality of the individual." [22]  To understand the significance of this viewpoint, it is helpful to consider the evolution and development of the human species.

    Of all animals, human beings are perhaps the most in need of love.  This need for love is the result of the helplessness and dependence on adult nurturance of the newborn infant, a dependence which extends over a considerable period of childhood.  In the animal kingdom, the nearest living relatives of human beings are considered to be the chimpanzees.  The chimpanzee baby in the wild nurses from four to five years and is very reliant on nurturing social contact with the group.  What is true for the young chimpanzee is equally true for human children, if not more so, in the sense that the young human is helpless and is dependent upon the social group - especially the parents - for nurturing.  The difference between human beings and chimpanzees is that in humans there is a greater plasticity with respect to personal development, due in part to neurological complexity and increased sensitivity to environmental factors.  The science writer, Herbert Wendt, has attempted to explain the bond between parents and children in terms of the evolutionary pressures of natural selection.  He writes: "It is no easy matter to bring up young apes and monkeys.  Because of their keen intelligence, their insatiable curiosity, their playfulness and spirit of enterprise, they can become a veritable torment to anxious parents.  Thus the intense affection of grown primates for all the young animals of their family group, or herd, whether or not these are their own offspring, is dictated by bitter necessity." [23] 

    Wendt's point is that among primates, affectionate care of the young has selective advantage.  Those members of the species not engaging in such behavior would not produce offspring that would survive.  In reference to human beings, Wendt writes: "...this instinct to care for the young applies not only to his [i.e., mankind's] own babies but to all young animals which have large eyes, look plump and soft, and make clumsy movements.  At the sight of such creatures every normal person is stirred to tenderness and affection. [24]

    In human beings, the growth and development of the organism are functionally identical to growth and development of personality.  This process of personal growth, which is both physical and psychological, is widely acknowledged to occur in its most formative stages during the first several years of life.  In the language of psychoanalysis, this epoch is referred to as the oral stage; Feldenkrais has characterized it as the dependency period. Both designations are accurate.  It is the case that for the infant, nursing is a primary need, and the oral zone represents a localization of feeling and a center of awareness for the new human being.  The need of the infant to nurse and the young child's dependence on adults for support and care during this time are essential factors which influence the growth of personality.  One of the features of personality development that can be described in terms of the satisfaction or lack of satisfaction experienced by the young person during this period is the establishment and unfolding of the capacity to love.  What, however, is meant by the word "love"?

    From a bioenergetic vantage point, love involves the expansion of the living organism toward contact with another living being who is recognized as a source of pleasure.  The first great source of pleasure for the infant is the mother, and she is recognized by the infant as a source of gratification.  A mother may remember her baby's first smile of genuine recognition.  Such a smile stems from the identification of the mother as a source of pleasure by the infant.  We might say that the child "opens up" in the presence of the mother.  This opening up is an expression of love, just as love, for the infant, is an embodiment of life.  The relationship between love and life can be appreciated based upon the etymologies of the two words.  The term "love" is derived from the Latin root word lubere, which means "to please."  The English word "life" can be traced to the Icelandic term lif and the German Leib, both of which mean "body."  Pleasure in life is embodied in love.  If we wish to be more specific, however, we may ask: is there a center in the body that is a focus of experience for the emotion of love?  The answer to that question is found in the heart.

    It is clear, based on the investigations of various researchers as well as on common sense, that the heart is an organ of the body that is very sensitive to the well-being of the person.  This sensitivity has been described in some detail with respect to the phenomenon of stress.  The thesis that undue stress on the cardiovascular system  - owing to emotional and behavioral factors such as a "chronic sense of time urgency" and "excessive competitive drive" - may lead to heart disease has gained considerable medical acceptance. [25]  The relationship between oxygen deprivation and heart attack is well known, as is the relationship between stress and inhibited respiration.   Norman Cousins has called attention to vasospasm as a possible major component of heart attacks. [26]  Interestingly, William Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, may be credited with having drawn attention over three hundred years ago to the heart's sensitivity to emotional factors.  According to Harvey, "Every affection of the mind that is attendant with either pain or pleasure, hope or fear is the cause of an agitation whose influence extends to the heart." [27]  One psychologist has emphasized the sensitivity of the heart to emotional and stress factors by suggesting that, in his view, " inner tactile sensation in the sensory nerve endings of cardiac tissue...reads the environment for its anxiety potential." [28]  Granted that the cardiovascular system is sensitive to emotional factors and stress levels in the individual, the question remains: to what extent and in what sense is the heart a center of love in the individual?  An answer to this question bears upon the issue of human sexuality. 

    If we wish to evaluate the heart as a center of feeling in the human being, it is necessary to take into account the responsiveness of this organ to pleasure.  Alexander Lowen has commented: "We must realize that the heart is probably the most sensitive organ of the body.  Our existence depends on its steady, rhythmical activity." [29]  With respect to the heart's responsiveness to the environment, Lowen writes: "The primary channel of communication for the heart is through the throat and mouth.  It is the infant's first channel, as it reaches with its lips and mouth for the mother's breast." [30]  The second avenue of communication, according to Lowen, " through the arms and hands as they reach out to touch.  In this case the image of love is the gentle, tender and caressing touch of a mother's hand." [31]  In the same manner, love is involved in the reaching out and touching of the mother by the infant and young child.  Because such contact between the child and mother is pleasurable, the organism of the young person opens up and expands.  The heart itself opens, in the sense that there is a strong parasympathetic stimulation in the autonomic nervous system.  In pleasure the heart expands, just as it contracts and closes off in anxiety.  The early experiences of the growing human being, therefore, involve an education of the heart in which the person learns to open up to pleasure based on the deep gratification of basic needs.  In the absence of such an education, the result is a fear of love and a corresponding fear of life.  If gratification is obtained, based upon warm and caring contact with the mother and others in the formative environment, the result is the ability to love and the courage to live.

    How, then, are we to define love?  It is difficult to define love, since love - like life - is a primary experience.  Moreover, love is not normally considered a subject appropriate to the rigorous requirements of scientific analysis, since the basis for knowing love lies in subjective awareness.  R.D. Laing has called attention to this dilemma in the preface to one of his books.  He comments: "The main fact of life for me is love or its absence...  When one studies biology, one will hardly ever come across the term or concept and very little evidence of it.  Here is a contradiction." [32] 

     It may be that the contradiction to which Laing refers owes not merely to the limitations of contemporary scientific methodology, but to the relative scarcity of a thoroughly loving childhood as an aspect of modern civilization.  Alexander Lowen has offered a description of the hero as "...a person who has no fear of life, who can face life squarely." [33]  In order to embody such an attitude, one must be able to love life, and only on the basis of the experience of love itself can such a capacity unfold.  Precisely for this reason it is necessary to comprehend not only the importance of love in human life, but the manner of its genuine expression.  The foundation for the capacity to love is laid during the dependency period of infancy and early childhood.  It may well be, as Lowen suggests, that the consequence of loving care and guidance during this period of early growth is, quite literally, a heart capable of remaining relatively open in spite of the pressures and vicissitudes of life.  In bioenergetic terms, such a heart beats freely, expanding and contracting without the burden of chronic anxiety so characteristic of contemporary personal experience.

    The relationship of love to human sexuality becomes apparent based on the primacy of the dependency period in human life.  While it may be argued that there is an erotic component for the infant in such activities as breastfeeding, this is not an expression of sexual feeling as an adult would comprehend it.  It is more accurate to say that the infant experiences pleasure during nursing and that such pleasurable nursing results in gratification.  Sexuality proper, involving pleasurable sensations strongly focused on the genitals, emerges at a later time.  The importance of love in relation to sex is that sexuality in human beings follows upon a dependency period during which the expression of love is crucial to the development of uninhibited functioning.  Disturbances during the dependency stage will necessarily interfere with later sexual experience and behavior.  Lowen writes: "The love of an infant for his mother is the prototype of all later love relationships...  Since the pattern of growth and development in the child is from the head downward, any lack or deprivation of these supplies will seriously affect the functions of the lower part of the body, that is, those functions associated with the legs and genitals." [34]

    Lowen's observations concerning the importance of love during the dependency period of individual human development are complemented by the outlook of Moshe Feldenkrais.  Feldenkrais writes: "In general, the later the new patterns of doing are called into action, the greater our tendency to use the old, established ones with as little change as possible.  Because of this, sex relationships and the social function and adjustment of people are the two domains of activity in which maladjustments are the most frequent." [35]  Just as we learn to crawl before we walk (with the pattern of the latter activity building on the pattern laid down by the former one) we also learn to experience and express our sexuality based on patterns of behavior and awareness that have been acquired in the period of early dependency.  The expression of our sexual urges thus finds its orientation, at an important level, in the capacity for love that has grown out of our closeness and connectedness with another human being as the principal source of our gratification in life.  If, on the other hand, our early love relationships, particularly with the mother, have been disturbed, it is inevitable that the disturbance will affect sexual functioning in ways that are specifically related to the nature of the early deprivation.  When coupled with the problems that arise during the period of sexual apprenticeship per se, these early experiences contribute to the determination of specific character types which may be classified more or less in terms of the degree of sexual maturity that has been attained. [36]  Since the genital sexual function is established following the earlier apprenticeship of the dependency period, sexual functioning is a mirror of the general functioning of the person.  The recognition of this developmental sequence is related to Wilhelm Reich's emphasis on the central nature of the function of the orgasm as an indicator and expression of the degree of integrated functioning of the individual. 

    Consideration of the importance of orgastic potency, as formulated by Reich, raises interesting questions regarding the human need for sexual intercourse.  The role of love in sexuality, however, can at this point be clarified to a significant degree in terms of the importance of the dependency period for growth and development of the human individual.  We may say that for humans the meaning of love is life.  Without some love, there can be no joy in life.  Without the experience of unconditional love, there can be no real trust in life. The natural foundation for human life is love.  Thus the significance of love is life itself, just as the meaning of life is found in love. 

The Function of Sex

    A consideration of the dynamics of human sexuality must take into account the fact that sexual behavior and experience, in humans, entail a biological drive filtered through a cultural apprenticeship.  As cultures vary in their particular aspects, so human sexuality manifests itself in differing modes of expression.  Yet it must be true that some modes of sexual expression are more gratifying than others.  The standard for making a judgment in this regard must be based on biological considerations, for culture is simply the medium in which human beings grow.  That medium may be conducive to sexual gratification, or it may impede sexual development and satisfaction.  It is not enough to say that there is any number of modes of sexual behavior that are satisfactory in terms of meeting the needs of human beings, since sexuality is a basic aspect of human biological functioning.  In order for the needs of the organism to be met, satisfactory sexual experience must be enjoyed at the biological level.  The organism may survive without such experience, yet we may question whether it can thrive in such circumstances.  The issue, therefore, presents itself: how may we satisfy the needs of the organism with respect to sex, and precisely what are those needs?  Another way to pose this question is to ask: what is the function of human sexuality with respect to the needs of the organism?  This is a biological question with social and cultural implications.

    Concerning human development, it is now generally recognized that, roughly during the period of from three to seven years of age, the human child goes through a stage of development in which the genitals become centers of awareness that serve to provide the young boy or girl with a positive sense of identity either as male or female. [37]  On the psychological level, this means that the sexual identity of the child becomes incorporated into the self-image of the young boy or girl on the basis of a positive identification with the functions and sensations associated with the sexual organs.  That there is an anatomical and physiological basis for the formation of such a positive self-awareness seems well established.  Quite apart from any cultural considerations, males and females are different.  The hormonal balance is not the same in  men as in women.  The tissues of the body are basically recognizable as male or female.  This is clearly evident with respect to the bony structure; in fact, the difference in shape between the male and female pelves allows anthropologists examining the remains of human beings and hominids dead for thousands or even millions of years
to determine their sex.  Anatomy and physiology texts are replete with examples of the biologically based differences between the sexes in human beings.  These differences in anatomy and physiology are necessarily translated into psychological differences.  The fact that such differences have been associated with value judgments regarding the worth of men as opposed to women - or vice versa - is not a reason to deny the difference that exists.  Men and women are clearly not the same.  This does not mean that one sex is somehow more valuable than the other.  One must grant the reasonableness of Stanley Keleman's viewpoint: "The sensations coming from the uterus and vagina and the sensations coming from the penis are different.  Sexual identity is strengthened by the brain's recognition of these internal sensations and movements." [38] 

    One of the basic issues relating to the development of male and female sexuality would appear to be whether the emerging sexuality of the child (and, later, of the young adult) is respected and affirmed.  Young children are naturally sexual, as any unbiased observer can convince himself.  There is nothing prurient or shameful about the sexual interest of children.  It is as reasonable and healthy to be interested in the functioning of one's own body as it is to be interested in why clouds move through the sky or what makes the wind blow.  It has been said that it is easier for a scientist to talk to another scientist than to talk to a child, the reason being that the child asks the important questions.  One can validate this statement for oneself by conversing with an intelligent child and taking his or her questions seriously.  The problem that many adults face in attempting to relate honestly to children is that the openness of the child makes the adult uncomfortable.  This seems to be especially true with respect to issues concerning sexuality.  Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to this problem.  The difficulty faced by many adults is a lack of self-acceptance at a sexual level.  Consequently, the sexual conflicts of the adult are communicated to the child through the adult's attitude, and not by words alone.  Such an attitude may be conveyed by means of expressive qualities of the voice and by body movements.

    It seems clear, in any event, that during the period of the child's sexual development any suppression of the natural sexual curiosity of the young person due to adult disapproval and coercion will result in a repression or "holding back" of the sexual impulses, involving inhibitions in sexual behavior.  On the other hand, over-stimulation of the child as a result of direct or indirect seductive behavior on the part of adults will elicit sexual feelings and impulses which are difficult to suppress and which intensify an inner feeling of conflict with a tendency to seek relief from a state of inner tension. [39]  This interference in the sexual life of children - as opposed to respect for childhood sexuality - may provoke either repression or impulsiveness, or a combination of both types of behavior.  Such behavioral disturbances result from a lack of environmental support for the natural needs of the developing child.

    Under positive circumstances, the basic sense of gender identity which is established during the early childhood years continues to develop during the years leading to puberty.  Lowen writes that "From about 4 or 5 years of age to puberty the child passes through a stage which is known in analytic literature as the latent period.  The latent period is characterized by the child's growing awareness of the genitals and recognition of its role as a boy or a girl." [40]  Freud, in introducing the term, described the latency period as one in which sexual development is "...overtaken by a progressive process of suppression..." and is "...organically determined and fixed by heredity." [41]  There is, however, substantial current opinion that sexual interest during this period, if not restricted by social and cultural factors, remains lively.  In exactly what manner the sexual development of the child will be expressed during the latency period depends largely on forces of a social nature.  In some cultures, where sexual play among children is permitted, heterosexual contact between children is the norm. [42]  In any event, it is during the period of puberty (roughly between the ages of eleven and fourteen) that secondary sexual characteristics clearly emerge.  At this time, reproductive capacity is established, and the drive for sexual intercourse is strongly felt.  It is at this time that the sexual orgasm presents itself in human beings as the biologically natural expression of the drive for sexual gratification.

    It is in the work of Wilhelm Reich that one finds the first systematic analysis of the significance of the sexual orgasm as an aspect of integrated functioning in human beings.  In Reich's account, the orgasm is understood to involve a series of involuntary convulsions of the total organism following upon an intense build-up of excitation.  In conventional physiological terms, the sexual orgasm is seen as an involuntary response involving particularly the autonomic nervous system and the lumbar and sacral areas of the spinal cord. [43]  In fact, the orgasm is a global, psycho-physical event serving in an important way to help regulate the energetic functioning of the person.

    That there is an energetic factor involved in the sexual orgasm seems difficult to deny.  It is possible to analyze sexual functioning in terms of the accumulation and release of tension, but it is evident that the sexual orgasm encompasses an excitatory process.  Such a process involves the build-up and discharge of excitation.  The excitatory process, in turn, can be understood in terms of energy dynamics.  This is why researchers such as Masters and Johnson declare that neuromuscular tension or "myotonia," occurring during sexual activity, is to be conceived of as a " of energy in the nerves and muscles." [44]  These authors, however, do not discuss the precise nature of the biological energy involved in the sexual orgasm.  Yet the question regarding the nature of the biological energy expressed in the phenomenon of excitation - with its phases of energy build-up and discharge - is a significant one.  While this subject will be discussed in greater detail elsewhere, some consideration of this matter is called for in the present context. [45]

    One way in which the bioenergetic processes involved in human sexuality can be understood is with respect to bioelectrical phenomena.  It is commonly known that biological  activities in human beings can be measured in various instances by recording electrical potentials registered at the skin surfaces.  The use of such recordings in the electroencephalogram  and the electrocardiogram is a standard medical practice.  Other measures of electrical potentials at the skin surface are taken in order to evaluate emotional states in the human organism.  The use of such measurements is one technique employed in biofeedback programs.  Wilhelm Reich suggested that the sexual orgasm may be viewed, in one of its aspects, as an electrophysiological discharge following upon an intense build-up of bioelectrical charge in the body. 

    According to Reich's argument, the normal course of energy build-up in human beings leads to a state of tension and excitation in the organism, manifested in an increasing turgor of the body tissues.  This state of turgor - involving a parasympathetic dominance in the autonomic nervous system - is accompanied by an urge for sexual intercourse in which intimate contact between male and female leads to a discharge of excess bioelectrical energy through orgasm.  Reich comments: "We may consider the penile and vaginal surfaces as the two boundary surfaces or electrodes of the system.  The acid vaginal secretion (which is an electrolyte) represents the contact medium (a conductor) between the two surfaces.  The male and female circulations and the mutually stimulating plasmatic excitations in the autonomic nervous system represent the inherent sources of electrical charge on the organs of contact." [46]

    The point of Reich's investigation into the bioelectrical phenomena associated with sexual orgasm is that sexual contact between male and female - even if such contact results in ejaculation for the male and the experience of climax in the female - does not necessarily lead to a discharge of energy and tension that can be considered adequate to the basic needs of the organism.  The measurement of electrical potentials at the skin surface taken at various erogenous zones of the body during pleasurable and unpleasurable stimulation indicates a bioelectrical response to pleasure and pain.  According to Reich's interpretation of data derived from his investigations, such responses vary in intensity in direct proportion to the state of vegetative motility of the organism.  Thus the degree of tension and energy discharged in the sexual orgasm will vary according to the capacity of the organism to tolerate a heightened state of motility and a high degree of bioenergetic charge.  If this is true, then the build-up and release of energy to which researchers into human sexuality are accustomed to refer has a concrete significance with respect to basic bioelectrical excitatory functioning.  In light of this understanding, sexual pleasure becomes comprehensible as the direct experience of concrete energetic processes in the body, while sexual disturbances must be seen as the result of the damming-up or stasis of sexual energy.  

    Another indicator of the capacity to achieve sexual gratification at a fundamental biological level is the ability of the human organism to surrender to the coordinated, involuntary movements which are characteristic of uninhibited orgastic response.  In this regard, the sexual orgasm may be understood as a fundamental response of the total person to the build-up of excess biological tension.  In order for an unimpeded discharge of excess biological energy to occur, certain conditions must be met.  The presence of these conditions on a functional level is related to the existence of what Reich has called the "orgasm reflex."  The term orgasm reflex, as it is intended to be understood in the present context, does not refer to the sexual orgasm itself.  Rather, in the words of Elsworth Baker, it signifies "...the unitary involuntary expansion and contraction of the total organism seen when the organism is at rest and energy flow is uninhibited." [47] 

    The orgasm reflex is intimately related to the quality of a person's respiration.  In order to allow for the observation of such a reflex, an individual may be asked to assume a relaxed posture - such as the supine position with the knees drawn up and feet flat against a mattress.  One may then request that the individual breathe freely and naturally.  If there are no significant restrictions in the respiratory process, a gentle wave-like motion will be seen to engage the musculature running along the axis of the body.  During inspiration, this wave-like motion commences in the region of the diaphragm and upper abdomen (solar plexus) and extends into both the lower and upper portions of the body, somewhat as a wave ripples out concentrically from the spot where a stone is dropped into a pond of water.  In this process, the body extends itself gently as breath is inhaled.  With complete expiration, on the other hand, the body is seen to "fold up" ever so slightly.  There is a soft tilting forward of the pelvis, and at the same time there is a gentle dropping back of the head.  As these movements are noted by the observer, the subject may report a deepening of sensation experienced as pleasurable waves of feeling flowing through the body.  Taken as a whole, the feeling of an energetic expansion (inhalation) followed by a soft sensation of "streaming" through the body (exhalation) characterizes the experience of relaxed, unrestricted breathing. 

    The significance of Reich's discovery of the orgasm reflex is that the presence or absence of this involuntary, integrated bodily movement during the process of relaxed respiration is an important index of the capacity for sexual pleasure and gratification.  The actual capacity to discharge all excess biological tension through sexual orgasm depends upon the ability to breathe deeply and freely.  This, in turn, depends upon an absence of patterns of chronic muscular tension in the body.  In the sexual situation, such freedom of functioning indicates an absence of internal conflicts in the individual and the presence of an appropriate partner in circumstances conducive to mutual self-expression.  Given these requirements, it can be appreciated that full sexual surrender under conditions of present sexual apprenticeship and prevailing social and cultural circumstances can in most cases only be approximated. [48] Nevertheless, it is important to understand the fundamental basis for integrated sexual functioning in human beings.

    In terms of the human nervous system, the sexual orgasm may be seen as a basic regulator of organismic homeostasis.  The two branches of the autonomic nervous system (parasympathetic and sympathetic) function largely as an antithetical unity.  Basing himself on the studies of the German physiologist L.R. Müller, Reich associated the action of the sympathetic branch with contraction of the organism and the action of the parasympathetic branch with expansion.  In Reich's words: "Upon detailed examination of the highly complicated vegetative innervation of the organs, one finds the parasympathetic operative wherever there is expansion, elongation, hyperemia, turgor and pleasure.  Conversely, the sympathetic is found functioning wherever the organism contracts, withdraws blood from the periphery, where it shows pallor, anxiety or pain." [49]  It is known that the sympathetic system is associated with the secretion of adrenal hormones and the alarm response (fight-or-flight) of the organism, while the parasympathetic system is associated with the "rest response" and the secretion of acetylcholine.  The parasympathetic system is involved in resting and conserving energy.  In terms of current physiological understanding, "When the body is in homeostasis, the main function of the sympathetic division is to counteract the parasympathetic effects just enough to carry out normal processes requiring energy." [50]  In Reich's view, the homeostasis of the human organism is maintained by a smooth oscillation between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system.  It is the function of the orgasm to relieve the tension that builds up due to the activation of the sympathetic branch.  This regulatory process taking place in the nervous system can be understood in terms of basic biological drives.

    If one considers biological functioning with respect to instinctual gratification, hunger and sex may be considered the two primary drives active in human beings.  While sex is associated with survival of the species, hunger is related to the self-preservation of the individual.  Both drives are important to the maintenance of smooth personal functioning.  The  force of hunger and the concern for self-preservation mobilize the person to struggle to satisfy his or her basic needs.  In this struggle, the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is activated.  The tension accumulated in the process of living, however, charges the organism with desire, and this impels the individual to seek the pleasure of sexual release, thus bringing about the relative dominance of the parasympathetic system.  The dynamics of this interrelationship have been described by Moshe Feldenkrais, who comments: "For proper functioning, all nervous structure needs full activity followed by full rest...  Nothing can relieve and rest the sympathetic more than intense stimulation of the parasympathetic and the other way around." [51]  In Reich's terms, one might say that for the human being, both work and love are necessary, and if conditions are satisfactory, each activity reinforces the other. 

    Exactly how deeply the function of the orgasm is rooted in nature as a sexual phenomenon is a basic question of biology.  Herbert Wendt has suggested that the sexual orgasm first appears clearly in the animal kingdom among the mollusks.  He writes that "...the curve of excitement in the sex life of snails can scarcely be interpreted in any other way. [52]  Wilhelm Reich has compared the sexual orgasm in human beings to the contractile movements of the jellyfish: "The most primitive and the most highly developed plasmatic functions exist alongside of each other.  The development of complicated structures in the organism, of 'higher' functions as we call them, does not change the existence or function of the jelly-fish in man." [53]  Reich's  basis for considering the sexual orgasm in human beings as rooted in primitive phylogenetic functions is best understood in reference to the involuntary nature of the orgastic convulsion.

    That the orgasm is basically an autonomic response of the organism triggered by accumulated excitation is pointed out by Feldenkrais, who writes that the orgasm involves "...a complex reflex discharge of motor impulses which effects a release of vegetative tensions." [54]  During the orgastic convulsion there is an automatic thrusting forward of the pelvis which occurs simultaneously with a dropping back of the head.  These movements alternate with a retraction of the pelvis and a movement of the head forward.  The orgastic rhythm, with its expansion and contraction phases, is serpentine in nature and can be seen as being functionally identical to the undulating movements of the jellyfish and other primitive life forms.  In the biologically charged context of sexual excitation, it is the natural reflexive movement which serves to discharge sexual tension.  In terms of the human nervous system, Reich has described this process in the following manner: "Thus we may say that during the sexual act, excitation shifts increasingly from the vegetative to the sensory nervous system and finally, from the moment of climax, takes hold of the motor nervous system and the musculature.  This transition involves unburdening of the vegetative nervous system and discharge of sexual excitation in the sensory-motor system.  The transition from the sensory to the motor system and the ebbing of excitation into the entire body is experienced as satisfaction." [55] 

    The interested reader can find in Reich's published writings a detailed description of the various stages and phases of excitation that constitute the natural arousal curve during sexual intercourse.  What is clear from considering issues relevant to the physiology  of sexual functioning in human beings is that such functioning is not merely an extraneous or secondary feature of human existence.  On the contrary, it can be argued that sexual functioning reaches down into the deep levels of human nature and that adequate sexual functioning is integral to the furtherance of the overall, psycho-physical well-being of the individual.  Human beings, however, cannot be reduced simply to the energetic dynamics of their existence.  A question, therefore, remains unanswered: what is the meaning of the relationship between sex and love in the life of the person?  A response to this question may help to draw together some of the themes of the present inquiry.

The Force of Desire

    It is worth remembering that while human sexuality may be discussed in terms of anatomy, physiology, comparative biology, psychology, and anthropology, the truth of the matter lies in the realm of human experience.  Sex is important to human beings not simply because it is a means of reproducing the species or because it provides a basis for understanding some significant aspects of social organization or history, but because it is the expression of a deep and abiding human urge.  In a world in which intense pressures are numerous and existence requires considerable struggle, one might think that sexuality would recede into the background of human concerns.  Yet this does not seem to be the case.  Indeed, even in the Victorian period when the official mores of respectable, bourgeois society demanded that the importance of sex be obliterated from serious consideration, both in practice and in fantasy sexual issues were of overriding concern.  It was this realization which gave rise to the theory of psychoanalysis and prepared the soil, at one level, for the reaction of the Roaring Twenties and the beginning of the so-called "sexual revolution."

    If one surveys the sexual scene in contemporary society as it is reflected in the electronic communications media, the popular novels, the advertising slogans, and the behavior of men and women when they congregate together in public places, it seems evident that there is much sexual ignorance, misery, dissatisfaction, and hostility.  Although times have changed greatly during the past century, the title of one of Wilhelm Reich's books - written, in part, over fifty years ago - seems aptly to describe the predicament of many present-day individuals with respect to sexual matters: "People in Trouble." [56]  It is also true that sexual behavior in many segments of society has passed through the stage of sexual sophistication into the impulsive phase of sex linked with violence and abuse.  Perhaps sexual violence is, in part, the offspring of sexual sophistication.  In any case, despite the obsession with sex that characterizes much of modern experience, genuine sexual feeling capable of providing real satisfaction seems generally lacking.  It may be that this is due, to a considerable extent, to an incapacity to feel the force of desire.  D.H. Lawrence has suggested as much in his novel The Virgin and the Gypsy.  In that work, the following passage may be found

        "I think," said the major, taking his pipe from his mouth, "that desire is the most wonderful thing in life.  
        Anybody who can really feel it, is a king, and I envy nobody else!..."
        "But Charles!" she cried.  "Every common low man in Halifax feels nothing else!"
        "That's merely appetite," he said. [57]

    If the necessary condition for sexual satisfaction is genuine desire, then desire itself is the product of a tension which seeks gratification and release in pleasurable merger with a member of the opposite sex.  Because of individual differences in temperament, personality, and history, not simply anyone will do as a sexual partner.  One must discriminate, therefore, on the basis of the experience of desire and the possibility of achieving fulfillment.  But what is to be done if one experiences only appetite, at best?

    The key to desire lies in the experience of the body.  Machines, although they are capable of complex operations, do not possess feeling, which is characteristic of life.  The spirit may long for what is divine, but sexuality can be experienced only as a bodily state.  In spite of a preoccupation with performance and with one's physical image, a feeling experience is missing from what passes for sexuality in the lives of many people today.  Alexander Lowen has investigated the dilemma faced by individuals in whom the striving for power and status has supplanted the need for human sexual contact.  In such a situation, a person may develop a self-image of being a great lover and engage in sexual relations with many partners; yet real contact, desire, and satisfaction are absent. [58]  Interestingly, D.H. Lawrence has described this situation also.  Lawrence writes:  

    "Life is only bearable when the mind and the body are in harmony, and there is a natural balance between them, and each has a natural respect for the other.  And it is obvious there is no balance now.  The body is at best the tool of the mind, at worst the toy.  The business man keeps himself 'fit,' that is, keeps the body in good working order, for the sake of his business, and the usual young person who spends much time on keeping fit does so as a rule out of self-conscious self-absorption, narcissism...  The body of men and women today is just a trained dog." [59]

    It would be a mistake to presume that the sexual difficulties of men and women are easy to understand or simple to overcome.  Nonetheless, we can agree with Lawrence when he writes: "Men and women aren't really trained dogs; they only look like it and behave like it.  Somewhere inside there is a great chagrin and a gnawing discontent.  The body is, in its spontaneous natural self, dead or paralysed.  It has only the secondary life of a circus dog, acting up and showing off: and then collapsing." [60]

    From the vantage point of the present discussion, sexuality is a central aspect of human experience, and yet it is not the only aspect of experience, nor can it reasonably be divorced from the fabric of life as a whole.  Sex and personality are interrelated.  One cannot expect to bring about significant changes in sexual experience and behavior in the absence of corresponding changes in overall functioning.  Deepening and expanding sexual experience is part of the process of deepening and expanding personal functioning in general.  This means that improvements in the quality of respiration, affecting the energy level of the individual, will have repercussions on the sexuality of the person.  The same relationship holds between deepening sexual experience and reducing patterns of chronic muscular tension which impede and distort the natural movements that are integral to uninhibited sexual expression.  It is clear that an increase in personal energy and a reduction in chronic tensions will provide a more potent quality to sexual functioning.  It follows that genuine improvement in individual functioning and authentic personal growth necessarily involve a sexual dimension.  As Wilhelm Reich has consistently pointed out, that dimension is a significant one. 

    If the depth of sexual functioning is expressed in the force of desire, it is also true that the meaning of sexuality, in human beings, is found in love.  Indeed, based on the present discussion, we may venture to conclude that sex, love, and life are so integrally interwoven in the fabric of human existence as to be functionally identical with the core of our being.  Certainly, we love life, and in sex we find an expression of both our love and our life.  Likewise, our life was conceived in sex, and the sexual act in human beings is most meaningful as an expression of love.

[1] See Berrill, N.J., "Sex and Sexuality" in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1981), Vol.
16, p. 585, et. seq.   

[2] Berrill, p. 585.

[3] Arms, K. and Camp, P. Biology (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979),
p. 484.

[4] Lowen, A. Love and Orgasm (New York: Collier Books, 1975), p. 58.

[5] Berrill, p. 585.

[6] Berrill, p. 585.

[7] Wendt, H. The Sex Life of the Animals, trans. R. and C. Winston (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965), p. 237.

[8] Wendt, p. 237.  It should be pointed out that in nature, prior to the differentiation of the vagina, the cloaca is an independent functional unit.  It is only by means of comparison of the cloaca to a later stage of development (vagina) that Wendt can speak of "conceiving and giving birth through the anus."       

[9] Keller, D. Sex and the Single Cell (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1972), p. 55.

[10] See Tannehill, R. Sex in History (New York: Scarborough Books Edition, 1980), pp. 31-32.

[11] This does not mean that incestuous behavior is uncommon. See deMause, L. "The Universality of Incest" and Finkelhor, D. "Commentary on 'The Universality of Incest'" in The Journal of Psychohistory, Vol. 19, No. 2, Fall, 1991.

[12] Keleman, S. In Defense of Heterosexuality (Berkeley, California: Center Press, 1982), p. xiv.

[13] Erhardt, A. and Meyer-Bahlburg, H. "Effects of Prenatal Sex Hormones on Gender-related Behavior" in Science, Vol. 211, March 20, 1981, p. 1312.

[14] MacLusky, N. and Naftolin, F. "Sexual Differentiation in the Central Nervous System" in Science, Vol. 211, March 20, 1981, p. 1294.

[15] MacLusky and Naftolin, p. 1294.

[16] Keleman, p. 52.

[17] Sagan, C. The Dragons of Eden (New York: Ballantine Books, 1977), p. 3.

[18] Feldenkrais, M. Body and Mature Behavior (New York: International Universities Press, 1975), p. 37.

[19] Drinka, G. The Birth of Neurosis: Myth, Malady, and the Victorians (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), p. 12.

[20] Freud, S. "'Civilized' Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness" (1908) in Sexuality and the Psychology of Love, ed. P. Rieff (New York: Collier Books, 1963), pp. 23-24.

[21] For a discussion of sexual "sophistication," see Lowen, Love and Orgasm, p. 19.

[22]  Lowen, A. Sex and Personality: A Study in Orgastic Potency (New York: International Institute for Bioenergetic Analysis, 1963),
p. 38.   

[23] Wendt, p. 321.

[24] Wendt, p. 249.

[25] See Friedman, M. and Rosenman, R. Type A Behavior and Your Heart (Greenwich, Connecticut: Fawcett Publications, Inc., 1974).

[26] Cousins, N. The Healing Heart: Antidotes to Panic and Helplessness (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1983), pp. 59-63. See also The Healing Force
(Los Angeles, California: Fox Hills Video, 1987), in which Cousins and others discuss at length their understanding of emotional factors and stress in relation to cardiovascular disease.

[27] Cited by B. Lown in his Introduction to Cousins, The Healing Heart, p. 23.

[28] Jaynes, J. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976), p. 118.

[29] Lowen, A. Bioenergetics (New York: Ballantine Books, 1976), p. 118.  See also the discussion in Lowen, A. Love, Sex, and Your Heart (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988).

[30] Lowen, Bioenergetics, p. 86.

[31] Lowen, Bioenergetics, p. 86.

[32] Laing, R.D. The Facts of Life (New York: Ballantine Books, 1976), p. ix.

[33] Lowen, A. Fear of Life (New York: Collier Books, 1980), p. 202.

[34] Lowen, Love and Orgasm, p.66; p 33.

[35] Feldenkrais, M. The Potent Self (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985), p. 43.

[36] See Reich, W. Character Analysis, 3rd edition, trans. T. Wolfe (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969) and Reich, W. The Function of the Orgasm, trans. T. Wolfe (New York: Orgone Institute Press, 1942).

[37] See Caplan, T. and Caplan, F. The Early Childhood Years (New York: The Putnam Publishing Group, 1983), pp. 213-214; p. 257.

[38] Keleman, p. 36.

[39] See Lowen, A. Narcissism: Denial of the True Self (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1983), pp. 183-187,  passim.

[40] Lowen, Sex and Personality: A Study in Orgastic Potency, p. 38.

[41] Freud, S. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), trans. J. Strachey (New York: Avon Books, 1962) pp. 70-71.

[42] See Malinowski, B. Sex and Repression in Savage Society (New York: Meridian Books, 1955), pp. 56-59.

[43] See Tortora, G. and Anagnostakos, N. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology (New York: Harper & Row, 1981), p. 745.

[44] Masters, H., Johnson, V., and Kolodny, R. Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1985), p. 59. 

[45] For Reich's views concerning the existence of a specific biological energy, see Reich, W. The Cancer Biopathy, trans. A. White (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973).

[46] Reich, W. "The Orgasm as an Electrophysiological Discharge" in The Impulsive Character and Other Writings, trans. B. Koopman (New York: New American Library, 1974), pp. 133-134.

[47] Baker, E. Man in the Trap (New York: Avon Books, 1967), p. 26.  Baker further notes that the orgasm reflex is "...also seen at the acme of the sexual act, suppressed in most humans." (p. 26)  For Reich's discussion of the orgasm reflex, see Character Analysis, 3rd edition, Chapter XV, section 2, and The Function of the Orgasm, Chapter VIII, section 3.

"It is important to make clear that today there are no people with a fully developed, integrated, sex-affirmative structure, because all of us have been influenced by the authoritarian, religious, sex-negating machinery of education."  Reich, W. The Sexual Revolution, trans. T. Pol (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974), p. 25.  Reich's declaration concerning the absence of full sexual health in the overtly repressive cultural environment of the early twentieth century holds equally true in the pornographically oriented, "permissive" social order of the present day, though the characteristic dynamics of sexual disturbances have changed.   

[49] Reich, The Function of the Orgasm, p. 225. (Part of the original passage is in italics.)

[50] Tortora and Anagnostakos, p. 380.

[51] Feldenkrais, The Potent Self, p. 170.

[52] Wendt, p.104.

[53] Reich, Character Analysis, p. 397.

[54] Feldenkrais, Body and Mature Behavior, p. 130.

[55] Reich, W. Genitality in the Theory and Therapy of Neurosis, trans. P. Schmitz (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980), p. 84.

[56] Reich, W. People in Trouble, trans. P. Schmitz (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976).  The original title in German is Menschen im Staat.

[57] Lawrence, D.H. The Virgin and the Gypsy (
New York: Bantam Books, 1968), pp. 87-88.

[58] See the discussion in Lowen, Narcissism: Denial of the True Self, Chapter 6.

[59] Lawrence, D.H.
"A Propos of Lady Chatterley's Lover," included as an appendix in Lady Chatterley's Lover (New York: Bantam Books, 1968), p. 335.

[60] Lawrence, "A Propos of Lady Chatterley's Lover" in Lady Chatterley's Lover, p. 335.

Back to Top