Circumcision from an Orgonomic Perspective

By Richard Schwartzman, D.O. and Rebecca Schwartzman, B.A.
Published in the Journal of Orgonomy, Vol. 31 No. 1
Learn more at The American College of OrgonomyThe Institute for Orgonomic Science and Schwartzman's blog.

Wilhelm Reich, Jewish Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst; Father of Orgonomics

All of nature's processes are governed by a single energy; orgone energy. This energy permeates the cosmos and courses through all living things. The emotional and physical health of human beings depends upon whether this energy flows freely in the body or whether it is blocked. When the energy is unimpeded, individuals feel alive, are able to relate well with others, and function well in their work. When it is blocked, they feel dissatisfied and every aspect of functioning suffers. From birth, and quite possibly before, humans respond to traumatic events by physically contracting, especially in their musculature. When muscular tension becomes chronic, it is known as "armoring," and its presence prevents the natural flow of orgone energy through the body. Armoring forms as a consequence of early, painful experiences of infancy and childhood. Feelings and memories are held in the armor and, as such, the unconscious resides not in the "mind" but rather in the whole human being. Thus, mind and body are united with orgone energy functioning as the common principle.

From Reich's discovery of armoring we know that even the earliest emotional experiences are biophysically held in the body as chronic muscular contractions. Adults cannot remember back to their earliest days of life, but initial feelings and experiences remain locked within them, laying the foundation for neurosis with all its untoward consequences. Medical orgone therapy seeks to reestablish the free flow of orgone energy by relieving armoring, and in so doing it brings about the expression of long-buried feelings and emotions.

Prevailing opinion holds that the human condition is almost entirely the result of either heredity or social factors. However, life's first experiences shape character most, and lay the foundation for either healthy functioning or chronic discontent. Birth and the first few days of life are the most important and decisive period of development, and the earliest traumas produce the most severe damage. This is because the newborn has not developed any means to defend against shock and injury. The trauma of circumcision produces a severe biophysical contraction, concentrated at the site of the injury. With no mechanism yet developed to defend against the excruciating pain, the infant can only scream and then withdraw into himself.

Adults, during the course of medical orgone therapy, regularly recall past traumas as armoring is released. As impossible as this may seem, sometimes a patient will relive his circumcision. It is a horrendous experience for the patient and very disturbing for the physician. If individuals could see a circumcision being relived, with all its pain and terror, there would be no question that even the earliest infantile experiences remain alive in the adult and are not at all "forgotten."

The location of armoring, the site where the flow of energy is predominantly blocked, determines the type and degree of neurosis that will develop. Thus, armoring that occurs as a result of circumcision has its own particular lasting aftereffects. The severe trauma of circumcision increases pelvic armoring and serves to block the flow of feeling into the genital; therefore the full energetic discharge that should normally accompany orgasm becomes inhibited. Dr. Elsworth Baker tells us that castration anxiety is produced originally "through the threat of castration, either with words and implications, or by circumcision."(1) In the adult, castration anxiety manifests itself as a fear of natural sexual relations, and such individuals are always orgastically impotent-they lack the capacity for complete surrender to the involuntary contractions that occur with orgasm and complete discharge of sexual excitation. Because of pelvic armoring and castration anxiety, which increases the holding in this area, one would expect circumcised men to be more likely to engage in pregenital forms of sex. Indeed, a recent study of the effects of circumcision found a relationship between circumcision and sexual activity (2). Specifically, circumcised men were shown to engage in a more elaborate set of sexual practices, particularly masturbation and oral and anal sex. The authors of the study hypothesized that this behavior may be due to reduced sensitivity of the penis. (1) While reduced sensitivity exists, from what we know of the effects of armoring, and specifically castration anxiety, it can be speculated that those who have been genitally traumatized prefer less threatening outlets for their sexual drive.

The American Academy of Pediatrics determined in 1971 that there was no valid medical reason for routine circumcision (4). However, physicians ignored this report and continued to advocate the procedure for health reasons. (2) What are the real roots of this barbaric practice? What is at work in man's structure that permits this brutalization of helpless infants? Reich has provided us with answers by elucidating what he called the "emotional plague."

Most people are rigidly armored and as such are incapable of achieving a state of natural, healthy functioning. However, at their core, they long for freedom and release from this straitjacket of armoring (5). People fear and hate what they long for most but cannot have. Reich tells us that there is "[a] terror that strikes the armored human being when he faces any kind of living expression [and this] is responsible for the systematic armoring of newborn generations."(6) Reich called this reaction "plague behavior" and it has become organized in many of our social institutions.

One can recognize the emotional plague individual by the following characteristics:
  • He is always genitally frustrated and his impulses, in particular, are sadistic.
  • He imposes his way of thinking and living on others.
  • His behavior is exceedingly well rationalized.
  • The real motive for the behavior is never the stated motive.
  • He seriously and honestly believes in the stated goal.
  • Touching upon his hidden motives always produces anxiety and anger and he strongly defends his thinking and actions.

Circumcision is a classic example of a practice rooted in the emotional plague. It fulfills every requirement of plague behavior. The very act of cutting the newborn's penis speaks to the genital frustration and sadistic impulses at work. Ideas about circumcision are imposed on others by our culture, and those who defy the practice are reproached. (You who are not circumcised are "dirty," you who are not circumcised look "ugly," you who are not circumcised shall not enter into a covenant with God.) The reasons for circumcision (health, hygiene, and religious devotion) are very well-rationalized. The real motive for advocating circumcision, the desire to kill life in newborns, is never stated. Those who advocate the practice seriously and honestly believe in their stated objectives, but if their hidden motives are touched upon anxiety and anger always appear.

Thus, it is the emotional plague in man that rationalizes genital mutilation with pseudo-hygienic pretexts; drives him to strap down helpless newborns and cut away a third of the skin of the penis, with its concentration of sensitive nerves; and allows him to say and believe that the screaming infant feels no pain or just a little discomfort. Circumcision, more than any other invention of armoring man, demonstrates our deep seated hatred of sexuality and our need to destroy what we fear most.

The emotional plague will continue to influence human behavior and therefore circumcisions will continue to be performed. Circumcision will remain a practice of cultures so long as there are love-starved individuals. Parents will continue to demand that their sons be circumcised and rationalize their conduct. Physicians will continue to scare parents with threats that their boy will develop cancer of the penis and suffer from urinary tract infections. (3) All this will be done with good intention. Reich tells us that the emotional plague "... [has] to give way when confronted, clearly and uncompromisingly, with rational thinking and with the natural feeling for life." For this reason, education and appeals to spare defenseless infants from a brutal assault will slowly bring about change.

Some parents may recognize that circumcision is damaging, and that the remote possibility of health consequences of an intact foreskin does not warrant its amputation. Yet despite this understanding, these parents may still be reluctant to leave their child intact. They fear that later in life their boy will suffer social disapproval because he was not circumcised. Parents are also concerned for themselves; what will friends and family think and say when they discover the new baby is not circumcised? These are legitimate concerns, but they need to be put into perspective.

Reich tells us:
If the rigid armoring of the human animal is the basic common principle of all his emotional misery; if it is this armoring which puts him, alone among biological species, beyond the pale of natural functioning, then it follows logically that prevention of rigid armoring is the main and central goat of preventive mental hygiene. (7) 
In light of this, it should be the goal of parents, above all other considerations, to prevent armoring in their children wherever possible. Children should not be adapted to a neurotic world by fostering the development of a rigid character. A child who grows up relatively free from armor will understand that it is society that has the problem, not he. Because of this he will be able to confront society's neurotic reactions. We must learn from children instead of "forcing upon them our own cockeyed ideas and malicious practices, which have been shown in every new generation to be damaging and ridiculous."(8) 
There is a simple solution for parents who have doubts about whether to circumcise: Let the child decide for himself. If he feels at some point that social or religious pressures warrant the operation, he can elect to undergo the procedure fully informed and with a developed ego. No lasting armoring will result. "LET THE CHILDREN THEMSELVES DECIDE THEIR OWN FUTURE. Our task is to protect their natural powers to do so."(9)


1. Moses Maimonides, the foremost intellectual figure of medieval Judaim, wrote that one purpose of the commandment to circumcise was to diminish sexual passion. Rabbi Elie Munk, in his commentary on Maimonides, states: "Thus scarcely having entered the world, the Jew is put onto the road of self control. It is the first of a long series of steps, religious and moral, all permeated with a moral purity which envelops him in an atmosphere of chastity and human dignity and prevents him from falling to the level of an animal."(3)

2. It is interesting to note here that female genital mutilation (FGM), which is practiced in Africa, the Persian Gulf, and the southern Arabian Peninsula, is also defended with rationalizations of better health, improved aesthetics, and appeals to religion and tradition. When we hear of FGM practiced in another culture we are appalled. But when circumcision which has so much in common with FGM is performed in our hospitals, with the rationalizations we give to it, the practice is accepted with hardly a second thought.

3. Some studies show that urinary tract infections are slightly more frequent in the intact newborn, but they often resolve spontaneously, without adverse long-term effects, or can be readily treated with antibiotics. A possible explanation as to why the intact child has a slightly increased incidence of urinary tract infection may be found in the over-attention paid to 'cleanliness.' Retraction of the foreskin to clean the penis (which should not be done in boys) causes or contributes to urinary tract infection. Regardless of what might account for the slight potential risk of infection, the danger does not warrant amputation of the foreskin as a preventative measure.


1. Baker, E. Man In The Trap. New York: Macmillan, 1967, p. 73.

2. Laumann, E., Masi, C., Zuckerman, E. et al. "Circumcision in the United States. Prevalence, Prophylactic Effects, and Sexual Practices," JAMA, 277(13):1052-7, April 2, 1997.

3. Munk, E. Call to the Torah. New York: Feldheim Publishers, 1969.

4. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Fetus and Newborn, "Standards and Recommendations for Hospital Care of Newborn Infants," 5th ed. Evanston, IL: kAP, 71, 1971.

5. Reich, W. Children of the Future. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1983, P. 18.

6. Reich, W. p. 18.

7. Reich, W. p. 16.

8. Reich, W. p. 20.

9. Reich, W. p. 20.



Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne of One Direction: "I am NOT circumcised."

In this B105 (AUS) interview, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne, members of the hugely popular band out of London, One Direction, state matter of factly that they do indeed still have all that they were born with. Their influence on the next generation of young adults is great, and they stand in a position to both influence future mothers-to-be on the circumcision decision, and normalize the intact male in U.S. pop culture as well.

Still think being intact will hurt your son's social status?


Painful Sex: How 8 Months of Foreskin Restoration Makes it Better!

By E. Doherty © 2012

There is a lot of information and support that exists today regarding foreskin restoration once you start looking for it. My husband's path to choosing restoration was a winding one.

I started asking questions after my husband and I had been together for about a year and sex was a mix of pleasure and pain for me -- always. My husband, being the only person I have ever been intimate with, I assumed the problem was mine. I went to the gynecologist and was told to "use lube and take it easy" as there was nothing physically wrong with me. My husband and I searched the internet looking for answers, but nothing seemed to help. Embarrassed and defeated, I gave up looking and figured this was just the way sex would be, forever.

Years later and pregnant, I began researching circumcision and began to make the connection between my lack of satisfaction and his lack of foreskin. Long story short, and without a full on anatomy lesson, without the slack skin and rich nerves, and callused over after many years (rubbing on boxers, etc.), my husband had to be a very vigorous lover in order for me to feel pleasure, but this created a fair amount of friction as well and therefore pain. Making love was vigorous and brief and often unsatisfying for us both. We both felt inadequate -- me for my lack of being able to enjoy sex, and him for his lack of being able to bring me pleasure.

When we came to the point of researching foreskin restoration, my husband feared that increasing sensitivity to the glans (head) of his penis would make him orgasm even more quickly (one of the very common reasons men choose to restore is lack of sensitivity). However, what we have found is that once the skin slackened, he no longer needs to thrust so vigorously to stimulate me, as the slipping of his skin (mimics ribbing, but has a more smooth, fluid feeling that is more of a gentle, sensual massage) increased my pleasure and as a result, he is now able to be a far more tender lover. When we choose to have more vigorous sex, the slackened skin accommodates this as well without causing me the pain that used to always come with it. It does seem that using a condom masks the early progress (i.e. sex with a condom does not seem to afford the same benefits of restoration for me or us as a couple at this point).

My husband choose to use the CAT II Q, and within a few months, sex became more comfortable for me, and even pleasurable for the first time. The first month or so of restoration was quite difficult for my husband, and he would become frustrated if the device popped off -- as it often did in the first few weeks. As the skin slackened, this has become less problematic. The first few weeks also did make the shaft skin quite tender, and using medical tape helped both the slipping off and tenderness. It helped the first few days to wear the tugger without underwear, with athletic shorts on, so it did not overly tug the skin to one side. Yes, it stuck straight out, but it was temporary, and far more comfortable in the privacy of our home.

My husband does not tug full time. Rather, he wears the device after work until just before bed, as his job requires a fair amount of physical activity. He has been restoring for about 8 months now and has a fair amount of slack. (He did not have to be fully restored for us both to begin to reap the benefits!) He has not yet committed to going 'all the way' (having a restored 'foreskin' that covers the glans completely) but as long as he is comfortable with the process, and is happy with the results, we are in no rush to stop.

He now has wearing the tugger down to a science and it no longer bothers him to wear it regularly. For those new to considering restoration for yourself, be reassured that within a few weeks, he was able to wear the device publicly without it being at all noticeable under his shorts. It helped him to check his reflection in a mirror before heading out, because from my husband's vantage point it always looked more prominent than it did to anyone else. Needless to say, we are both very happy to have found restoration and the options available today!

End Note: With all the restoration equipment options today, a lot of people ask about the particular item my husband chose. The device he opted for is the CAT II Q, specifically. He researched them all and is very happy with his choice. He feels it is a very well thought out and effective method to restoration.

Related Reading:

Foreskin Restoration (Saving Our Sons)

Beginner's Guide to Foreskin Restoration (Restoring Tally) (National Organization of Restoring Men)

Foreskin Restoration (CIRP)

Foreskin Restoration (Circumstitions) (Forum)

Sex As Nature Intended It (Kindle book)

The Joy of Uncircumcising (book)

Hello Orgasm! How Foreskin Restoration Improved Our Sex Life

Tugging Foreskin: A Painful Sex Turn-Around

CIRCUMserum: Renewal Ointment for Circumcised Men

SOS Men (Facebook group exclusively for men of all ages)

Partners of Restoring Men (Facebook group exclusively for women with male partners who are restoring or have restored)

Women Affected by Male Circumcision (Facebook page)

Male Circumcision & Women's Sexual Health (Resource page)

To share your story of foreskin restoration, or how circumcision has impacted you, write to or find us on Facebook at Saving Our Sons.

Saving Our Sons Community (group)

The Intact Network chapters (connect with others in your state)

Circumcision: A Son's Forgiveness

By Laura May

In June of 2000 I became a mother for the first time. At the small age of 18. However I knew then like I know now, that this was going to be the most important job I will ever do. I have dedicated the last 12 years since then to my children. When my daughter turned one I remember a lot of people asking me, “Are you going to get her ears pierced?” I thought about it for a moment, then came to the conclusion, what if she doesn't want them pierced? She cannot tell me yes or no. This isn't my body, it is hers. So I stood my ground and just said no, that will be up to her when she is older.

In November of 2004 I became a proud mother once again - this time to a baby boy. He was perfect and beautiful. It was a rough start for him with breathing issues and he spent some time in the NICU. I hated to be away from him and leave the hospital before he did, but I remained as close to him as possible. I remember the fateful day before he was released when hospital staff asked me, “Do you want to have him circumcised?” I said yes, of course. I figured this is what you do - this is what all good mothers do for their babies. Even a part of me thought, this is what I have to do.

Why didn't I stop and think? Why didn’t I protect him? Why didn’t I simply say no? I was smart enough to know that my daughter's ears were her own... why didn’t this apply for my son? If just one person had told me the truth, things would have been a lot different. I remember when they brought my baby boy back to me, something was different. I could never put my finger on it, but he was different. Even the bond between him and I was different.

I felt as if I failed him, and to this day I still feel that way. To make matters worse, it was a botched circumcision. However, I know that I cannot go back. I cannot fix it. I cannot make it up to him. But what I can do is educate myself. So I began to read and read and read.

In July of 2008 I once again gave birth to a baby boy. He was healthy and perfect. The day before I left the hospital a woman saw me in the hallway with him and said to me, “How did he do after his little surgery?” I looked at her completely confused. I said, “I’m sorry?” She said, “ You know... his circumcision.” Then it dawned on me. And I began to grin and replied, "Oh, he won't be getting that done.” She looked at me with complete surprise. I smiled and walked away. While I was there the nurse asked three or four more times if he was going to be circumcised. Each time I happily replied, “No thank you.” We took our whole boy home the next day.

There did come a day when my youngest noticed the difference between the two of them and pointed it out. He was two and his brother was six. My oldest looked at me and said, “Yeah mommy, why do we look different?” I knew the time had come when I would have to tell my oldest just how sorry I was. I said to him, "When mommy had you, I had you circumcised.” Naturally he asked, “What is that?” So I told him, honestly. He then said to me, “Didn't that hurt me?” I got on my knees with tears in my eyes and said to him, “Yes, and I am so sorry I let anyone hurt you.” He then put his arms around me and said, “It’s ok mommy, I’m glad you didn't let anyone do that to my brother. I don’t want him to hurt.” Of course I fell to pieces at that moment. I said to my oldest, “I wish that I had known better when I had you, or I would have never let it happen to you either.” He looked me in the eyes and said, “ I know Mommy, thank you for not letting anyone do it to him. I’m glad!”

In the 12 years that I have been a mother I know that they have taught me more then I could ever teach them. About love, about life, about forgiveness. I still struggle with the guilt that I have from my first boy. I still try to cope with it. Every time I hear of a friend or family member having a baby boy, I tell them about my experience. I am unsure if it has ever touched someone or made them think, but I will keep sharing. Maybe one day this story will save one more perfect baby boy.


Circumcision and intact care information at Are You Fully Informed?

To share your story, write to 

Join in the Saving Our Sons conversation.


The Cut

© Connie Yeager

My son was cut today
I did not question why
I did not understand
What was happening to my guy. 

My son was cut today
They took you from my arms
I trusted the doctor
That did you bodily harm. 

My son was cut today
I did not get to see
The tears or hear him crying
Out for his mommy. 

I am sorry, my son,
That I let you go
I hope some day you forgive me
For not being whole. 

Please, before you make
A decision based on lies
Get informed of the facts
If only had I... 

~Connie Yeager


Read from more parents whose sons were circumcised.

Circumcision and intact care information at Are You Fully Informed?

Join in the Saving Our Sons conversation.


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