Orgastic potency

Within the work of the Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957), orgastic potency is a human's natural ability to experience an orgasm with certain psychosomatic characteristics[1][2][3] and resulting in full sexual gratification.[4]

For Reich, "orgastic impotence" is an acquired fear of sexual excitation, resulting in the inability to find full sexual gratification (not to be confused with anorgasmia, the inability to reach orgasm). This always resulted in neurosis, according to Reich, because that person could never discharge all built-up libido, which Reich regarded as actual biological or bioelectric energy. According to Reich, "not a single neurotic individual possesses orgastic potency"[5] and, inversely, all people free from neuroses have orgastic potency.[6]

Reich coined the term orgastic potency in 1924 and described the concept in his 1927 book Die Funktion des Orgasmus, the manuscript of which he presented to Sigmund Freud on the latter's 70th birthday.[7] Though Reich regarded his work as complementing Freud's original theory of anxiety neurosis, Freud was ambivalent in his reception.[8] Freud's view was that there was no single cause of neurosis.[9]

Reich continued to use the concept as a foundation of a person's psychosexual health in his later therapeutic methods, such as character analysis and vegetotherapy.[10] During the period 1933–1937, he attempted to ground his orgasm theory in physiology, both theoretically and experimentally, as he published in the articles: The Orgasm as an Electrophysiological Discharge (1934), Sexuality and Anxiety: The Basic Antithesis of Vegetative Life (1934) and The Bioelectrical Function of Sexuality and Anxiety (1937).[11]


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