Radix Institute

Our Roots In Vision

Our Roots In Vision

Written by Erica Kelley


A feature that distinguishes Radix personal growth from other neo-Reichian disciplines is the attention given to vision. Although one aspect of vision is seeing in the literal, sensory sense, the word “vision” carries the implication of a larger context. We talk about being able to see ahead, of envisioning our future. We talk of seeing and understanding, of external reality, of seeing clearly what is in front of our eyes at this moment. And we talk of internal reality, seeing clearly into ourselves and acknowledging the truth about our self-image and our memories.

The very first group of five Radix students participated in an experimental class with Chuck and Erica Kelley in 1969 called “Education in Vision and Feeling.” This was a unique synthesis of two systems of bodywork: natural vision improvement methods derived from William H. Bates, and emotional release techniques derived from Wilhelm Reich. As Bates was the pioneer in freeing the senses, Reich was the pioneer in freeing feelings. Chuck brought a long background of research and experience as an experimental psychologist specializing in vision, and was a certified instructor of the Bates Method. Bates had identified stress and muscular tension around the eyes as a significant cause of visual dysfunction and had devised a variety of techniques, developed further by Chuck’s teacher, Margaret D. Corbett, to bring relaxed tone to those muscles, thus affecting the shape of the eye for better vision. This concept correlated naturally with Wilhelm Reich’s discoveries about “muscular armor.” Reich described the “ocular” segment as the first of seven segments in the body, each of which encompassed specific patterns of muscular armor. Kelley saw it was important to release ocular armor in his students so that they could see and be seen as their work progressed.

Exploring Vision
This original group spent the first half of every class doing Bates relaxation techniques, gentle breathing, and tachistoscopic training, in an atmosphere of serenity. In the second half of every class the whole group worked in a small sound-proofed room, receiving individualized Reichian work for his or her specific bodily blocks to emotional expression. In these “Intensives” emerged the underlying anger, the pain, the fear and also the joy. The most important aspect in each session was to allow feelings to show fully in the eyes.

These students were primarily near-sighted (myopic). They came hoping to improve their poor vision and were intrigued by the notion of working with the emotional causes underlying it. After twelve weeks there was indeed significant improvement in their vision, but what gave everyone greater pause – teachers and students alike — were the general improvements in the students’ character, functioning, relationships and their overall sense of aliveness. These factors were more important to the students than their improved vision! (Kelley, New Techniques of Vision Improvement)

Vision as the Starting Point
From that time, Chuck decided to pursue primarily the neo-Reichian work, using the armoring of the eyes as his starting point. “Vision Improvement” required a great deal of time and patience, and although formal programs were offered they attracted only a few trainees with that particular patience. Janet Goodrich, who later founded her own effective program worldwide, was one of these. Others have developed unique approaches to vision and feeling work, but Laura DeNuccio is the only one to receive a Certificate in Education in Vision Improvement. Nonetheless, all Radix teachers are well versed in both Bates’ and neo-Reichian concepts and techniques for vision enhancement. They are familiar with the particular visual characteristics that identify particular blocks to feeling expression, and they know, too, that no matter where feelings may originate in the body, they must be integrated in the ocular segment to make significant change.

Other ocular techniques include voluntary movements of the eye muscles in coordination with the breath and pulsation of the life force through the body, such as closing tight and opening wide, following a flashlight in random movements, visual contact with others using phrases such as “Look at me” or “I don’t understand.” Other exercises leading to involuntary movement and expression of feeling often combine thinking with feeling, such as when the student remembers “not being seen” as a teenager or “having to watch out” as a child. The ability to visualize plays an important role. Having imagination means having the capacity to see images; visual scenes and guided imagery have always played their part in Radix ocular work. Early “trips of the imagination” were designed specifically to enhance vision, perhaps by seeing grains of sand in one’s hand then following a seagull down the beach and away over the ocean to the horizon. They were usually designed, too, to enhance as many senses as possible – touching that sand, hearing the waves, and so on.

Clarify Vision Concepts
Visual imagery is not to be confused with fantasy that is disconnected from awareness, however. As Chuck said, “Memory and fantasy are powerful tools to aid getting into the feelings. Creating the fantasy image of figures from our past (e.g., mom, dad), and saying our feelings to them, can not only loosen a flood of feelings, it can be an aid in straightening out attitudes and clarifying emotional relationships. Fantasy is a useful secondary technique for opening the feelings, but should never replace direct work on the armor. We employ memory and fantasy techniques freely in our work, subject to the condition that the student become able to sustain the feeling discharge with eyes open, body soft, with awareness directed to a partner in the here-and-now.” (Kelley, Education in Feeling and Purpose)

It is apparent, then, that the functions of the ocular segment are not only seeing and sensing the environment. Blind people still have most of the functions of this first segment working for them, functions such as perceiving, thinking, fantasizing, imaging, imagining, understanding, conceptualizing, visualizing, looking ahead, and foresight. It is not surprising that, as Chuck developed his program of Self-Direction and Purpose along with Feeling, “vision” remained an integral part of the work.

As surgical technology makes it increasingly easy to correct the mechanical aspects of seeing, it will be interesting to assess the impact such corrections have on psychological and emotional functioning. Does the sudden ability to see without glasses impact emotional behavior? Do “new eyes” bring a spontaneous flow of radix to the ocular segment, and improve functioning beyond limited sensory behavior? Perhaps a Radix teacher will study such changes and offer observations in the future.


Bates, W.H., 1920, The Cure of Imperfect Sight by Treatment Without Glasses. New York: Central Fixation Co., 1920.

Corbett, M.D., 1949, Help Yourself to Better Sight. New York: Prentice-Hall.

Huxley, A, 1942, The Art of Seeing. New York: Harper.

Kelley, C.R., 1971, 1980-81, Segment One Program, a Pre-training Radix course (unpublished).

__________, 1974, 1970, Education in Feeling and Purpose. Vancouver, WA: K/R Publications.

__________, New Techniques of Vision Improvement. Vancouver, WA: K/R Publications.

Reich, W., 1961, Character Analysis. New York: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy.





www.eyerobics.net (Jerriann Taber Ph.D.)

Our Reichian Roots

Our Reichian Roots
The clouds seemed to be expanding in a most unexpected fashion over the woods and hills near Rangeley Lake in Maine. “I’ve withdrawn the orgone energy from them; now they will dissipate,” said Wilhelm Reich. Those clouds did indeed lose their clear boundaries, disintegrate, evaporate into the air and disappear from the sky. “We can destroy clouds in the same way that we eliminate symptoms in Orgone Therapy. We withdraw the orgone energy from the symptom and the symptom disappears. That’s just what I’ve done with those clouds. I’ve withdrawn their orgone energy and so the clouds have disappeared. It’s very simple.” Thus spoke Wilhelm Reich to Charles Kelley when he visited Reich as a student in the fall of 1951.

“It’s very simple,” he had said and yet, by pointing “a bunch of pipes” at the sky, generations of established scientific beliefs about the weather were crumbling before his humble but knowledgeable student’s eyes.

Now imagine Reich giving a session of Orgone Therapy. Unlike his teacher, Freud, he is sitting beside and in reach of the patient, rather than out of sight above the couch. He is looking into the patient’s eyes, noticing if they look away from him as significant material emerges. He observes the breathing – is it slowing down, or is it racing? He notices the tone of voice, the agitation or stillness of the body as the patient recounts emotional events. He notices when tears break through, or when they are blocked from expression. When his patient is silent, the body expresses the truth. The fists may clench, eyes open wide, breath stop. He is identifying specific tensions, and he is more interested in the process than he is in the content. He is becoming the first body-oriented psychologist. The scene will sound very familiar to clients and practitioners of Radix growth work.

Recognizing Freud's influence
Reich recognized Freud’s libido as the life force, Reich’s orgone energy, and went on to develop systematic associations between physical and emotional holding, bodily and characterological rigidities, and their relationship to the pulsation of the life force. He was a major pioneer of sex education, research and therapy. The primary goal of his therapy was to establish “orgastic potency” or a “genital character structure,” which to Reich was the epitome of emotional health. Notwithstanding Kelley’s criticism of the genital character concept, the capacity to surrender to orgasm involving the whole body indicates a capacity for aliveness and integration of the head, heart and genitals. This capacity for aliveness and integration of all levels of functioning lie at the heart of Radix work.

Fast-forward forty years from the last scene. Imagine Charles (Chuck) Kelley giving a Radix bodywork session. He is kneeling beside a mat on which lies a man who is stiff, blocked and remote. Chuck suggests to him a sequence of voluntary exercises – with the breath, arm and legs movements, sounds — that help him to contact his blocked feelings and to soften his barriers to their expression. During their thirty minutes together, the feelings develop, intensify, and overflow in a strong involuntary expression of anger, fear, crying, or pleasurable emotion – whatever is there. Afterwards there is relief and relaxation and, beyond that, a greater acceptance of his own feelings.

Alternatively, picture Chuck standing in a lake in the Berkshires of Massachusetts wearing swimming trunks and cotton gloves. He is holding a movable assemblage of hollow parallel metal tubes, a Reichian cloudbuster, that he directs, as if he is pointing a large telescope. He points it first to one section of sky, then another, lingering longer here, more briefly there. After a few minutes he swings up and stays several minutes on a carefully chosen setting near the zenith. While he works, the sky changes, the wind shifts, a new pattern of clouds begins to form. A different weather process has developed. He puts the equipment away. – In two days there is unpredicted large-scale rain in the whole region.

Chuck Kelley's realization
Kelley has said that knowledge and practice in an area like Radix bodywork seems to most people to be something entirely different from the knowledge and practice of Radix weather modification. Kelley-Radix work is with life force processes in a living universe, just as Reich’s was. Skill in working with these processes can be developed and used in the context of enhancing the lives of people, and can also be used in the context of radix atmospheric research, perhaps to modify climatic processes. Formations of cyclonic storms and hurricanes follow similar patterns to human matings as two life force systems interweave. Reich and Kelley called this “superimposition.” It is discussed more fully in the article on Radix Science.

Thus the foundation of Kelley-Radix was laid by two of Wilhelm Reich’s major discoveries: the existence of the life force in the body and in all of nature, and the muscular armor, the patterns of chronic tension in the body that block the flow of the life force and hence the expression of feeling and the full sexual experience.

Reich’s legacy lives on in a multitude of disciplines in the mind/body arena, now in the second and third generations since his death in 1957. Radix was blessed with the first-generation experience of its Founder, Charles Kelley, just as Bioenergetics was founded by a first-generation student of Reich’s, Alexander Lowen, and Gestalt Therapy by Fritz Perls. The Human Potential Movement of the 1970’s produced pioneers and disciplines that moved from classic “medical/psychiatric-model” orientation to mainstream “growth” models, and made the work of Reich, among others, accessible to countless numbers of people who were not “sick” but wanted to deeply change and enrich their lives. Kelley has written extensively about why he dissociated from Reich’s medical model with its focus on “sickness” and “cure,” just as he has explained his separation from Orgonomy, which freed him to develop Radix Education’s concepts and programs.

Reich’s untimely death
After Reich’s untimely death in prison in 1957, the Reichian movement fell into shock and confusion, and it was several years before a semblance of continuity emerged among his followers. As we honor the man to whom we are so indebted in this 50th Anniversary year of his death, we celebrate the resurgence of his work worldwide, the 1,950,000 results from a Google search for him, and the programs of the American College of Orgonomy and the Wilhelm Reich Museum. Above all, we are proud of our own role in applying his work to help people and the planet. Our enduring gratitude to you, Dr. Reich.
Boadella, David, 1973, WILHELM REICH: The Evolution of his Work. Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery Co.

DeMeo, James, 1998, SAHARASIA: The Revolutionary Discovery of a Geographic Basis to Human Behavior. Greensprings, OR. www.orgonelab.org.

Kelley, Charles R., 1991, Personal Growth and Psychotherapy in Radix Work. Reprinted in THE RADIX 1992

_______________, 1977, Reich, Radix, and the Enhancement of Sexuality. Reprinted in THE RADIX 1992.

_______________, 1965, Orgonomy Since the Death of Reich, The Creative Process Vol. V.

_______________, 1963, The Life and Death of Wilhelm Reich, in The Creative Process, Vol. III No. 1.

Sharaf, Myron, 1983, FURY ON EARTH. New York: St. Martin’s Press/Marek.

Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust and the Wilhelm Reich Museum, P.O. Box 687, Rangeley, Maine. www.wilhelmreichmuseum.org.

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