Lipton’s Journal/February 22, 1955/694

From Project Mailer

More on laughter. A baby walks across a room for the first time and laughs in pleasure when it reaches its mother’s arms. Why does it laugh? Because the discrepancy between thought and idea is immense. The baby may say OOOOOO, but its murky vast thoughts have elaborated a universe of space, of its own changing relationship to its environment because it can now give walking, it can locate, its relation to the world has been drastically and dramatically altered. So it laughs in the relief of repressing such a vast thought. Or it weeps if it cannot repress it. And weeping is often the expression of the throbbing of a thought which cannot be suppressed until the muscular tension is expressed/released through tears.

Laughter and weeping are very close. If er consciousness persists we weep, if sup consciousness takes over we laugh. Often we do both. We laugh until the tears come. But this is always in the condition of sustained laughter, the joke we cannot stop laughing at. Hence, if a substance in tears is an anti-cancer agent, what is suggested about cancer is that like all disease only much more intensely so, it is the product of a frightfully cruel repression, a condition of muscular or tissue tension which cannot be released. Hence, Reich’s[1] cancer biopathy may actually have done a lot.


  1. An Austrian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who worked with Freud, Reich (1897-1957), and was the author of many clinical works, including The Function of the Orgasm (1942). He fled to the U.S. when the Nazis came to power. His eccentric and controversial theory of orgone energy, and the phone-booth size orgone accumulators he invented, got him into legal trouble and he was sent to federal prison where he died. Mailer was influenced by Reich’s ideas about sexual repression and character armor, and built his own orgone box.