Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Character Analysis Book Review

Character Analysis: Third, Enlarged Edition Character Analysis: Third, Enlarged Edition by Wilhelm Reich

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Led Zeppelin, Lou Reed, Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway, William Burroughs…they all leave me with a feeling of emptiness. Don’t get me wrong, I think they are all brilliant, and I enjoy them all (with the exception of Led Zeppelin). However, I can only take them in small doses. Why is that? I’ve come to the conclusion that they, among others, are masculine-centered. There is nothing wrong with masculinity or delving into your gender experience, but it does end up being one-sided. I would feel the same way about a book that excluded the male experience, as well. It leaves me with the feeling that something’s missing and makes me sad. I don’t think this should deter people from experiencing their art, though. It is one aspect of the rich human experience. You just have to be in the right frame of mind for it.

Reading Wilhelm Reich’s Character Analysis left me with a similar impression. He was brilliant. Wilhelm Reich was one of the first western scientists to contribute to the study of mind-body medicine. His methods and insights are thought-provoking. I hadn’t read a book this wonderfully challenging for a long time. There were vast sections, however, where I yearned to hear how his theories apply to me, as a woman. There is only so much penis talk you can take!

Although I wished for more coverage of women’s struggles, I kept reading. I kept reading, because it was strongly evident that Wilhelm Reich was on a quest to heal all people. He says, “Accordingly, the fear of orgastic contact constitutes the core of the fear of genuine, direct psychic contact with persons and with the processes of reality.” Reich wanted people to connect with and release their armor that no longer serves them. He wanted us to connect genuinely with each other. “Contemporary society, with its sex-negating morality and economic incompetence to guarantee the masses of its members even a bare existence, is as far removed from the recognition of such possibilities as it is from their practical application.” He was fighting against the malaise that continues to inflict the people of our world.

Like I said, this book was a challenging read. I think it was written for the professional psychoanalytic audience. While it’s not necessarily intended for the layperson, if one has an interest in getting to the root of their motivations and repressions, and a wish to experience full vitality, this makes an enlightening read. Wilhelm Reich was calling us to fight, too, to fight for our lives.

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  1. Oh my gosh - you tackled a Reich book...good for you! He *is* very male centered...I mean, orgone energy is said to derive from the male orgasm sooooo...but like you I find his theories intriguing, and over all for the good of human kind. I don't know if I could actually get through a book like this however. Perhaps someday! :)

  2. Hmmm I want to read this book now. Just so i can understand exactly what you are talking about. Great passionate thing you..xx

  3. Leilani, I know! It took me awhile to get through it. It was alot to take in. How do you know about Reich? I had never heard of him until a friend of mine told me about it. He wasn't even mentioned in my husband's human sexuality class!

  4. Thanks, Amber. Hee-hee. I'm not sure exactly what I'm talking about, either! Somebody intrigued me about Reich but didn't recommend reading him, because his writing is so academic. I wasn't insulted, exactly, but what did I do? I went and read it. Who knows what intrigues you?

    Here, I'll lead you to this article and website:

    This book might be a better starting point, too. I'm going to read it next. It was written by a student of Reich and may have more practical applications.

    Bioenergetics: The Revolutionary Therapy That Uses the Language of the Body to Heal the Problems of the Mind by Alexander Lowen

    The Way To Vibrant Health: A Manual Of Bioenergetic Exercises by Alexander Lowen

    Happy exploring!