The following excerpts are taken from the book “The Function of the Orgasm” by Wilhelm Reich, M.D., Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, 1973.
- The orgasm formula: Tension → Charge → Discharge → Relaxation
- Pleasure (expansion) and Anxiety (contraction): Primary Antithesis fo Vegetative Life
The unknown “something” I was looking for could be nothing other than bioelectricity. This occurred to me one day when I tried to understand the physiology of the process of friction which takes place between the penis and the walls of the vaginal mucous membrane in the sexual act. Sexual friction is a fundamental biological process. It is found throughout the animal kingdom wherever reproduction takes place in the union of the two sexes. Two surfaces of the body rub against one another. In this process, biological excitation occurs, together with congestion, expansion, “erection.” On the basis of pioneer experiments, the Berlin internist Kraus ascertained that the body is governed by electrical processes. It is made up of countless “border surfaces” between membranes and electrolytic fluids, having various densities and compositions. According to a well-known law of physics, electrical tensions develop at the borders between conducting fluids and membranes. Since the concentrations and organization of membranes are not homogeneous, differences develop in the tensions at the border surfaces, and, simultaneously, differences in potential of varying intensity. According to a well-known law of physics, electrical tensions develop at the borders between conducting fluids and membranes. Since the concentrations and organization of membranes are not homogeneous, differences develop in the tensions at the border surfaces, and, simultaneously, differences in potential of varying intensity.
In 1933, my idea of the unity between psychic and somatic functioning became clear in the following direction.
The fundamental biological functions of contraction and expansion were applicable to the psychic as well as to the somatic realm. Two series of antithetical effects emerged, their elements representing various depths of biological functioning.
Investigation shows that the impulses and sensations are not produced by the nerves, but are merely transmitted by them. Impulses and sensations are biological actions of the total organism. They are present in the living system long before the development of an organized nervous system. Protozoa demonstrate fundamentally the same actions and impulses as metazoa, in spite of the fact that they do not have an organized nervous system. The great achievement of Kraus and Zondek was in demonstrating that the functions of the autonomic nervous system can not only be stimulated or retarded by chemical substances; more important, they can be replaced by them.