From the book Man in the Trap, by Elsworth F. Baker, M.D., The McMillan Company, New York, 1967.

Genitality is reached in the final stage of development follow­ing the establishment of genital primacy. This occurs usually at about four or five years of age, but one must remember that long before this the genital is an erogenous zone with pleasure-giving capacity. Even the young baby plays with its genital and certainly receives pleasure from the contact and excitation. This is, pre­sumably, only a local phenomenon, since the infant is still in a pregenital stage and more complete satisfaction is available through the oral zone. However, following development into the genital stage, pleasure is directly concerned in the response of this organ and release of tension is obtained through its con­scious excitation and manipulation.

We have still too little experience with healthy children to make any dogmatic statements about the nature of childhood sexuality or about what it should be like before puberty. How­ever, those individuals who have practiced self-gratification for long periods in childhood have the best outlook in therapy and the least difficulty in establishing satisfactory genital functioning. It seems reasonable to assume that, in our culture at least, masturbation is a necessary prerequisite for later genital primacy and a satisfactory sexual life, and thus for emotional health generally. I believe, however, that heterosexual play and actual intercourse between children is a more natural expression and would be general in a sex-affirmative society, as it is in the Trobriand Islands.

Reich distinguished three groupings of individuals, with regard to self-gratification in childhood:

  1. Psychoneurotics who fully reached the stage of phallic develop­ment with genital masturbation, but later either repressed genital eroticism and became sick hysterically or withdrew libido from its genital position, regressing to earlier levels, and developed a pregenital type of neurosis. These are the average neurotics.
  2. Psychoneurotics who reached the genital level only incompletely or not at all because of powerful pregenital blocks or because of severe castration trauma which blocked development into the genital stage. In these the genital becomes emotionally charged with pregenital wishes and fantasies, acquiring the significance of some other erotic zone such as the anus, breast, or mouth, losing thereby its own im­portance. The result is the severest form of impotence and any history of childhood masturbation is lacking. These are most difficult cases therapeutically.
  3. Individuals who were symptom-free, and gave a history of long periods of undisturbed masturbation in childhood. These are the so- called normal in our society.

The kind of orgasm that takes place in children is important. Reich has described the orgasm in a child as having no sharp peak. This seems to be generally true, but in the infant the oral orgasm does appear to have a sharp peak; the oral orgasm ap­pears to be similar to the genital orgasm following puberty. In between these periods, the orgasm one observes usually involves a smoothly rising and declining curve of excitation which has no acme, although a few of my patients have insisted they ex­perienced a sharp peak in this age period. In these cases, the penis was lubricated with saliva, which gives a much more in­tense excitation. Since the oral contact of the infant with the breast is moist, as is contact in intercourse, and since few children discover this method of excitation, the common lack of moisture may explain the smooth excitation curve found in most childhood masturbation.

Masturbation should occur with regular, gentle friction move­ments of the genital. In girls up to the age of puberty, the clitoris is stimulated; following puberty excitation should shift to the vagina. Equally important are the accompanying fantasies of wishing to penetrate with the penis in the case of boys, or in girls of wishing to surrender to some male (the father). The pregenital masturbation (where full genital primacy has not de­veloped) is accomplished by squeezing or rolling the penis be­tween the hands; definite friction movements are lacking. Cases presenting this pattern are difficult therapeutically.

Adult sexual makeup may depend on the child’s first masturbatory sensation. Masochism may be the final result if an initiatory excitation appears when a child is spanked. Or, urethral pleasure and enuresis may predominate in the adult if a child who was bladder trained strictly meets his first excitation when he uri­nates. Or, there may always be an anxious expectation whenever genital excitation occurs in a person who met excitation when he overheard his parents in intercourse or when he was in some other anxiety-producing circumstances.

The sexual problems inflicted on children come from the for- biddings and dire threats of consequences which cause guilt and make complete satisfaction impossible, or even cause them to retreat from sexual expression altogether. It seems generally known in this era that masturbation is never harmful, even the so-called “excessive masturbation” (which is merely a persistent effort to obtain some relief and satisfaction in the presence of severe genital blocking). However, too often our attitude is that children should try to keep interested in subjects other than sex. From puberty on, certainly it is more natural to prefer inter­course to masturbation since the former offers a more complete release.

Masturbation is pathological where an adult prefers it to the sexual embrace and demonstrates a deficient ability to make full contact. Two important preconditionings for this pattern are an emphasis on the dangers of disease in intercourse or an emphasis on the sexual act as a sadistic one.

Adult genital love is an expression of a mutual attraction between two individuals of the opposite sex, with energic lumination, and with the goal of sexual union. Love is felt primarily in the genital. This is true even of healthy love between those of the same sex, except that in this instance genital union (even the thought of which would be distasteful) is not a goal. The difference is not well understood biologically, although it seems apparent practically. One may even speculate as to why there are two sexes. The lower forms of life do not have them. It is probable that sex differentiation is due to nature’s tendency to specialize in complex forms of life. However that may be, it is normal in the human for sexual attraction to be limited to those of the opposite sex. It seems likely that there is a deep biological basis for this, centered in the behavior of the energy in the organism.

We are so accustomed to taking natural events for granted that we forget to ask why. It seems so obvious that males should be attracted to females that we do not bother to wonder what really causes the attraction and mutual excitation. Furthermore, the healthier the individual the more specific becomes the at­traction. Why a specific mate? Certainly training and condition­ing have much to do with the selection, but this is largely on an armored basis. Yet some animals are just as selective. We also find individuals who are mutually attracted to each other sexually but who are highly unsuited in all other respects.

I believe Reich found a possible explanation when he dis­covered that individuals had different rates of orgonotic pulsa­tion. This has apparently no relationship to the rate of pulse or respiration. It varies slightly from day to day (apparently from atmospheric and emotional changes), but each individual seems to have a specific range. The significance of different rates is not yet known, but they are easily determined on an oscillograph. Male and female with harmonious rates may be attracted to each other whereas discordant rates repel.[1] (We can understand a correlation or harmonic relation among sound vibrations.) Most of us have been disturbed by some person without being able to determine why and have been able to relieve the situation only by leaving his presence. This may well be a field reaction where pulsation rates are disharmonious and therefore disturbing.

I had a young husband and wife in therapy. The wife came to me first with rather severe hysterical symptoms and complaints about her marriage: it was very unsatisfying and largely on an infantile level, including even talking baby talk to each other. Later the husband entered therapy also with some serious symptoms. As the wife improved she found it less and less pos­sible to remain with her husband although she insisted she cared for him. She simply became upset whenever he was near her.

They remained separated for a couple of months, during which time the wife showed marked improvement. Then a well-mean­ing but blundering friend persuaded her to go on a trip with her husband against my advice. She came back very upset, con­tracted, and with a return of her symptoms. The vacation, she reported, was a horrible failure. Slowly she again improved and started making dates with her husband, but each time the date ended drastically. She would become irritable and depressed, freeze on sexual contact with a feeling that she could not stand her husband even to touch her. An occasional date where they went out only to dine could be pleasant for her.

This went on for two years and I was greatly puzzled by what appeared to be such neurotic behavior toward her husband while she seemed so well when away from him and did not react this way with other men. She continued to feel love for her husband although it became more and more evident that something was seriously wrong with the marriage and the question of divorce was raised. Eventually after some time away from her husband she seriously considered divorce and marriage to another man. Though interested in this man she could not feel for him the love she felt for her husband but rather a “quieter but pleasant feeling/’ Clinically she was very well. When she visited her hus­band to discuss divorce the old feelings of love for him returned and she decided once more to try and make a go of the marriage. On the first date, as her husband approached her sexually, with her encouragement, she again became very upset, irritable, and felt she literally wanted to kill him when he insisted on his at­tentions. She decided she could never see him again. As she was describing this episode in session, it suddenly dawned on me that the difficulty had nothing to do with neurosis but was energetic. Their fields were disharmonious. It explained what had puzzled me for so long—how clinically well she seemed to me but how seemingly neurotic her behavior whenever she was close to her husband. She loved him but biophysically they were in­compatible. Both had to accept the fact. She felt relieved to find that it was not her neurotic behavior that caused the distress to both. She could then accept the divorce as necessary and with concern only for the hurt her husband must feel. Her attitude and behavior has been markedly mature and healthy—in retro­spect, it had been for some time. The husband, too, who had grown quite mature, accepted the dissolution rationally but with real sadness.

Courting exists in all higher animals and seems to be for the purpose of getting acquainted or “smelling each other out.” Fear is deeply rooted and is necessary for survival; until it is elimi­nated the organism cannot expand fully nor surrender com­pletely to another organism voluntarily and spontaneously. Courting establishes trust. It may be long or short, depending on circumstances and the individuals involved, but the healthy individual does not consider sexual union without some degree of courtship.

Once sexual union becomes an urgent goal, the activity may be divided into three stages: foreplay, genital union, and the orgastic convulsion. There are no rigid natural laws for the first two. Foreplay allows whatever may be mutually acceptable and pleasurable, with the exception of sadistic acts. Nothing can be considered perverse so long as the goal remains genital union. Foreplay may be long or short; usually the male rushes to genital union while the female prefers more foreplay. Both should be sexually excited (streamings in the genital) before even foreplay is considered. In a healthy relationship it consists largely of body contact and gentle caresses of the loved one’s body. Frantic manual excitation of the genital plays no part.

The sexual act can hardly be completely satisfying if one or the other must be excited by artificial means. Such an individual is not biologically ready for the sexual act. Either his free energy has not reached the point of lumination, or it is bound by anxiety. Or, it may be simply that the partner is not desired.

Foreplay contrives to increase the excitation to the point of urgent union (desire for penetration), a desire which should be present in both partners. Erection in the male is an obvious and accepted requirement.

Erection in the female is not so obvious nor so well considered a requirement. Yet in adequate sexual readiness the labia become erect, also the nipples where the breasts are responsive. Further, there are two types of vaginal secretion, watery and mucous. The latter offers a higher degree of contact and excitation, and unless it is present a woman is short of full sexual readiness. Too long foreplay with clitoral stimulation will tend to produce a clitoral orgasm and interfere with full vaginal response.

Many marriage counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists have gone into detail concerning the proper way to excite the clitoris and have detailed sexual positions in which the clitoris is stimu­lated, reminding readers that the clitoris is the counterpart of the penis and needs to be stimulated just as the penis does.

This advice is based on a mistaken premise. It is true that the clitoris is a vestigial penis, but being so it has lost its function. It is replaced by a much more satisfying organ, the vagina. The clitoris is important only in those cases where the female is arrested at the phallic stage and the clitoris has assumed the im­portance of a fantasied penis.[2] Interest and excitation at this level detracts from and may completely prevent a vaginal response. In healthy development, the clitoris assumes little or at least only fleeting importance, just as does the phallic stage in the male, and in maturity it is of minimum significance for sexual pleasure. Instructions for properly exciting the woman by clitoral stimula­tion, and the caution that lubricants should be used if the clitoris is dry, miss the basic point that in such cases the woman is not ready for sexual union in the first place, either because of emo­tional problems or present environmental or physical conditions. Correction should be aimed at these more basic issues.

One further point against such interest in clitoral stimulation is that during sexual union for the clitoris to come in contact with the penis requires that the pelvis be retracted; and that in itself inhibits pelvic and more particularly genital sensations.

It is still debatable whether the female feels pleasure in the vagina itself[3] or whether this is an illusion from the pleasure felt in the labia and introitus. The posterior wall of the vagina seems to be the most responsive. There is, however, a definite urge toward penetration and the vaginal orgasm as opposed to the clitoral orgasm. The latter produces only a local response, while a vaginal orgasm results in a total response of the whole organism with more complete satisfaction. Also, where there is genital potency, the vagina becomes an active organ, sucking the penis much as a mouth sucks a nipple.

Actual genital union where contact (streaming) is present carries an urgent need for friction movements, soft but aggressive and in response to breathing. Rapid harsh movements are due to contactlessness and cover up any natural sensations of surrender. Timid movements or lack of movement may be due to anxiety or to cut down sensation.

The actual sexual act lasts from three to twenty minutes, with a continued feeling of natural gentleness. The position requires only that freedom of movement be not interfered with. One may or may not proceed directly to orgasm. One may pause, alter position, etc., but at a certain point the act becomes automatic and initiates the orgastic convulsion. At this point stopping or otherwise interfering with smooth progress, such as one partner interrupting rhythm, becomes very painful and disturbing. This may occur when one or the other cannot tolerate the full swing of the orgastic convulsion and interferes by rapid, jerky move­ments or even withdrawal, or becomes frozen and immobile or even loses sensation entirely. The sexual act should be devoid of fantasies, which are in themselves a running away. Fantasies must be prohibited even at the risk of loss of desire. In the end phase of therapy, all of these problems must be gone into in detail and corrected.

One of the greatest difficulties to overcome is to remove the compulsion from sex and to accept it as a pleasure only when really desired. Women are taught to believe that men want sex all the time and must be satisfied, so they feel obliged to feel ready to submit at all times. Men must demonstrate their man­hood and satisfy women. If they could be honest with each other most would find that neither desired sex nearly as fre­quently, except in new relationships. Normal sexual activity varies from three times a week to once every two weeks depend­ing on health, work, and other environmental conditions and one may abstain for as long as a year with no serious stasis dis­turbance.

The full orgasm depends on complete absence of holding in the organism. At a certain point, excitation grasps the whole personality and its increase is not subject to voluntary control. Having spread to the entire organism, it then concentrates in the genital area and a warm, melting sensation follows. Involuntary contractions of the muscles in the genital and the pelvic floor oc­cur in waves; the crest of each wave of contraction coincides with deep penetration during expiration. The spasms that pro­duce ejaculation follow. In women, there are contractions and elongation in the vagina which are accompanied by a desire to receive completely. Because of the invagination, this is comparable to the expansive urge of the penis to penetrate fully. Next, there is a clouding of the consciousness and an increase in contractions which involve the whole body.

After the convulsion the two organisms remain united for a time while energy, which has been concentrated at the genital, flows back through the organism, which is experienced as gratifi­cation. Separation then occurs with relaxation and sleep and a tender, grateful attitude toward the partner.

Excitation dulls with constant contact; therefore husbands and wives should not always be together. They should sleep in separate beds or they lose the ability to excite each other and become emotionally sticky. In this state they feel anxious when separated, but are lacking in excitement when together.

The genital union fulfills two of the basic functions in all nature. One is universal, both in the non-living and the living.

The other is essential for functioning in the living. These two are: super imposition, where two energy systems mutually excite and attract each other and fuse into one energy system—in the living organism this revives and provides the sparkle of life— and the orgastic convulsion, which discharges excess energy to maintain a normal energy level. This process occurs in all energy systems confined within a membrane, i.e., all the living.

There has been considerable confusion about the emotions accompanying charge and discharge in the sexual act. The orgasm formula can be expressed:


When energy moves outward to the skin (expansion), pleasure is felt. When contraction against this outward flow occurs, anxiety is produced. In both cases, a state of tension exists. TENSION → CHARGE is an expanding movement. If it is uninterrupted as in genital potency, pleasure is experienced. When this expansion is not tolerated, contraction against it occurs and anxiety is pro­duced as in genital anxiety. When now discharge occurs, tension is removed and relief (from tension) is experienced.

SUPERIMPOSITION                                                                 ORGASM


(pleasure)                                                                             (relief)

In certain conditions, relaxation is not tolerated following discharge and contraction takes place instead. If discharge has been minimal (orgastic impotence), there is still considerable ten­sion and anxiety is produced. Where discharge has been appre­ciable, tension is removed and contraction without obstruction occurs, giving rise to unpleasure (sadness). This is a frequent finding and has led to the axiom that “every animal is sad after the sexual act/’

Here, the formula would be:


(pleasure)                                                                      (unpleasure)

I am not considering here the further complications possible where rage, sadism, or other neurotic mechanisms are active.

Genital Disturbances

Genital energy is the regulator, the safety valve which is closed to most people. Genital disturbances fall into two groups: the social (or non-biopathic), and the biopathic (those due to chronic armor). Desire may be greater than in the healthy be­cause of lack of adequate satisfaction.

Social Disturbances

Non-biopathic disturbances and people who have them react to education with relief. Biopathic disturbances, on the other hand, are not affected by education. Biopathically disturbed peo­ple ward off any such influence, and even tend to build up ra­tionalizations to strengthen resistance.

Social disturbances are usually due to ignorance, sometimes supplemented by economic problems. One of the most frequent problems is living conditions that do not allow privacy either in masturbation or in lovemaking. This situation creates anxiety and tension and interferes with satisfaction. In handling these disturbances, a detailed description of the circumstances sur­rounding sexual expression is necessary.

For example, where does masturbation occur? Is guilt present? Is masturbation satisfying? Do others occupy the same room? Even after marriage, is there privacy? Must the sexual act be hurried because of the danger of interruption by others? In such cases, intercourse is frequently attempted in clothes and even while standing up. Such practices interfere with contact and freedom of movement and should be eliminated.

Commonly, there is a fear of pregnancy which causes holding back. Here, one discusses the attitude toward contraception. Some are opposed on religious grounds, while others do not trust contraceptives. Those who can accept advice readily have a better prognosis. Coitus interruptus and coitus condomatus both interfere greatly with satisfaction and should be given up.

The same can be said for petting without the final act; tension builds up with no relief.

Satisfaction is also interfered with when people with dissimilar energy levels attempt to relate to each other. Individuals are born with high or low energy charges and too great a disparity between partners leads to sexual incompatibility. An individual with a comparatively low charge may be healthy in every sense of the word, but will have a lesser sexual need than a partner with a higher charge.

One cannot expect that the genital embrace will be completely satisfying to both partners in the first few experiences. Frequently considerable time and patience are necessary for partners to ad­just to each other. The healthy male may be premature and the female fail to be adequately excited because of the anxiety from the new experience, particularly if the environment is not fa­vorable.

Biopathic Disturbances

Difficulties here are due to chronic armor which inhibits the full convulsion. Particularly inhibitory are spasms of the throat and anus, which are the primitive openings of the alimentary canal. Difficulties fall into two groups:

1) Functioning has been satisfactory but has ceased to be so.

2) There never has been satisfactory genital functioning. Those in the former group have the better prognosis. We usu­ally expect at least to return a person to the level of his best former functioning. It is very important to elicit details of func­tioning though the patient tries to evade them. The following information is essential:

First, has there ever been any genital functioning, and to what extent? Has masturbation ever been pleasurable, and through what means and what fantasies? Especially heed fantasies that are sadistic, homosexual, or otherwise perverse. In the female, look for fantasies of rape.

Has there been reluctance to touch the genital? If manipula­tion has occurred, has it been with more or less rhythmic move­ments, or with pressing and squeezing which are pregenital forms of masturbation? What have been the type and regularity of genital manipulation in childhood? Puberty? Marriage?

In intercourse, is there desire before the act, or is it a duty and is artificial stimulation necessary? Is it done compulsively, such as every Friday night?

Usually the woman requires considerable foreplay while the man rushes to the sexual act, and this disparity may make it necessary to have the husband or wife come for further question­ing. Or, the man may not develop an erection unless stimulated. That may be non-neurotic because he does not desire the woman or because his energy is below the lumination point, or it may be neurotic.

What restrictions are placed on the partner? For example, the man may resent the woman moving during the act or he may prefer entry from behind. These are usually due to a running away from full contact except during the later months of preg­nancy when this position is preferable. Does either have to fight to have intercourse?

Hardness in the embrace may be present, especially squeezing, which the healthy individual will not tolerate.

The therapist must examine methods of avoiding strong excitation:

  1. holding the breath,
  2. controlling sounds,
  3. controlling movements or engaging in rapid jerky movements,
  4. arching the chest,
  5. straightening and stiffening the legs,
  6. holding the anal sphincter.

There are two types of sexual embrace: 1) with orgastic stream­ing in the genital, or 2) without it. Streaming is felt as a sweet, melting sensation and a drawing out. If streaming is present there is a very good prognosis. If not present, one is faced with orgastic impotence. Inquire as to sensation in the tip of the penis, whether it is dull, anesthetic, or painful. Sometimes it is dull because of the woman.

In orgastic impotence, the orgonotic charge in the genital is lost and contactlessness supervenes. To compensate for this, move­ments may be rapid and harsh, or there may be no impulse for friction movement at all and ejaculation will be produced mainly through pressure. In some cases even an urge for penetration is lacking. Only touch is felt. Pleasure in the genital is absent. The individual may be erectively potent but cannot surrender either to his partner or to his own organism.

Premature ejaculation occurs because of anxiety. One sneaks in and out quickly as though getting away with something. Here, the contraction due to anxiety, combined with the sexual ex­citation, increases pressure and squeezes out the seminal discharge without allowing a true orgastic convulsion. In the deepest sense a fear of the father’s penis in the vagina.

Reich states that premature ejaculation also occurs where the energy is low. Apparently the excessive excitation necessary for the act in the presence of low energy produces anxiety and so increases pressure and squeezes out the semen.

Homosexuality results from identification with the parent of the opposite sex. The identification is based on fear, and the basic cause of homosexuality is fear of heterosexuality. Extensive therapy is usually required to cure this condition. The first overt homosexual experience usually occurs at sixteen years; this is the age at which reactions against the initial push of puberty have consolidated and final sexual patterns begin to emerge. Before the age of sixteen, homosexual play may have been experienced— as it often is in young mammals—but such early play has little significance for adult patterns. In homosexual cases, I have usu­ally found that there was a desperate attempt toward hetero­sexual adjustment before the final surrender to homosexuality at sixteen.

These are the common biopathic disturbances. Occasionally one meets with rarer forms of perversion; all of them are subjects for extensive therapy.

[1] I believe that a similar mechanism may appear in conception. The ovum accepts or rejects the sperm either with or without the x chromosome. The woman may thus be responsible for the sex of the child after all.

[2] This group unfortunately comprises a large portion of the adult female population, so that one can understand why the importance of clitoral stimulation is taken so much for granted.

[3] Cf. Arnold H. Kegel, “Sexual Functions of the Pubococcygeus Muscle,” The Western Journal of Surgery, Obstetrics, and Gynecology, Vol. 60, pp. 521- 524, October 1952. Kegel believes that deep vaginal sensations come from the insertions of the pubococcygeus muscle in the vagina.