Wilhelm Reich – The Godfather of De-Armoring and Body Psychotherapy

Published: Feb 23, 2024 | Revised: Jun 15, 2024
Edited by: Marce Ferreira

Picture of Wilhelm Reich

© Image by Wikimedia Commons

Wilhelm Reich (1897 – 1957) was an Austrian physician and psychoanalyst, and arguably the “Godfather” of modern Body De-Armoring (also written Body De-Armouring) and Body Psychotherapy (Somatic Therapy or Body-Oriented Psychotherapy).

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As a student of the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (the “Godfather” of Psychoanalysis), Reich built further on the psychological concepts of libido, sexual repression, suppression, the origins of neuroses, and the subconscious and conscious parts of the mind, and developed groundbreaking theories and practices such as Character Armor, Body Armor (Muscular Armor), Orgastic Potency, Orgone Energy, Vegetotherapy, and Body De-Armoring (also called Emotional De-Armoring, Somatic De-Armoring, or Sexual De-Armoring).

Reich became particularly known for his idea that muscular tension in the body (Body Armor) reflected repressed emotions. As a result of this insight he subsequently developed Vegetotherapy, a treatment that included trauma simulation, acupressure, pressure, and breathwork practices in order to induce emotional and trauma release in his clients.

He was one of the first in the West to make an explicit connection between the body and mind in relation to therapeutic treatments, considering those two sides of the same coin, and as such he’s also appraised among the most important initiators of modern, Western Mind-Body therapies.

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Reich’s work influenced many intellectuals, psychotherapists, and a range of therapeutic domains, and he contributed to a broad variety of future somatic treatment modalities, including Body Psychotherapy, Biodynamic Psychology, Pulsing, Rolfing, Modern Breathwork, Holistic Massage therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Bioenergetic Analysis, and Primal Therapy, to give some examples.

Reich also coined the phrase “the sexual revolution.” He argued that an authoritarian and sexually restrictive society lies at the roots of many mental illnesses, unbridled aggression, and chaos in the world, and that a sexual revolution is needed to cure people and create healthy, balanced individuals and a healthy society.

Some of Wilhelm Reich’s most influential books are The Impulsive Character (1925), The Function of the Orgasm (1927), Character Analysis (1933), The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), and The Sexual Revolution (1936).

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