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A tribute to Richard Schwartzman

Richard Schwartzman, a psychiatrist who wrote and spoke about child rearing, including the harm of infant circumcision, passed away on July 20, 2022. He was 83 and is survived by an immediate family that includes Rebecca Wald, her husband, and their children.

For close to 50 years, Dr. Schwartzman practiced medical orgone therapy, a unique approach to restoring emotional health pioneered by Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957). Reich was a widely misrepresented physician and natural scientist who attempted to demonstrate a Western scientific basis for life energy, an animating force that he maintained flows through all living things and permeates the cosmos.

“The pain and terror of circumcision is NOT ‘forgotten’ as is said, even though it cannot be consciously recalled. I am a physician and psychiatrist who has had patients relive their circumcision in the course of Wilhelm Reich’ s body-oriented, emotional release treatment,” Dr. Schwartzman once told Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., in a personal email.

Dr. Schwartzman went on to say that he had seen at least 15 individuals who sought treatment because they felt they had been emotionally damaged by their circumcision and/or were in the process of regrowing their foreskin, noting that all but one (who terminated treatment very early) had improved their function and satisfaction with life.

Dr. Schwartzman became aware of Marilyn Milos’s important work around 1989 when one of his associates, James DeMeo, Ph.D., spoke at Marilyn’s first symposium and then several after. Dr. Schwarzman is mentioned in Goldman’s 1997 book, Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma. Dr. Schwartzman was also a friend of Intact America, and had the opportunity to speak in Boulder in 2015 at the Genital Autonomy symposium. There he explained how early infant traumas are physically locked within us at a bio-energetic level. He also showed a clip from Room for Happiness, a documentary he produced about medical orgone therapy.

Dr. Schwartzman received his Bachelor of Science degree from Philadelphia’s rigorous Central High School and thereafter matriculated directly to Temple University School of Pharmacy, graduating in 1963. After becoming a pharmacist, he attended the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He undertook two medical internships, the first at Zeiger Osteopathic Hospital (1967) and the second at Philadelphia General Hospital (1970). The second internship allowed him to pursue a residency in psychiatry and neurology at Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, which was an M.D. program.

Dr. Schwartzman was the first osteopathic physician in the United States to complete an M.D. residency, paving the way for many others to do the same. He lobbied for this opportunity and chose the burden of repeating the grueling internship year because he felt the M.D. residency would best prepare him as a psychiatrist. Dr. Schwartzman was never one to take a linear or expected path in life for its own sake, or to let established rules prevent him from doing what he felt was right.

In the practice of medical orgone therapy, Dr. Schwartzman was trained by physicians Morton Herskowitz, D.O. (1918-2018) and Elsworth F. Baker, M.D. (1903-1985) who had both been Reich’s students and were directly trained by Reich. This lineage allowed Dr. Schwartzman to practice orgone therapy as Reich had conceived it. Over the years, Dr. Schwartzman was disheartened by the emergence of many various self-taught “energy workers,” claiming to practice orgone therapy or calling themselves Reichians. He felt such offshoot approaches could be harmful to the recipient and also greatly contributed to the already misunderstood Reich.

Dr. Schwartzman maintained a private medical orgone therapy practice in Center City Philadelphia and then in Solebury, PA, from 1974 until his retirement in February of 2021. He positively impacted the lives of countless grateful patients. He also trained many physicians in the practice of orgone therapy (not just in the U.S. but also in Greece, Italy, and Germany); he wrote journal articles; he was an early blogger; and he lectured on topics related to Reich’s work.

In addition, Dr. Schwartzman was also a fellowship-trained forensic psychiatrist, serving as Medical Director of Psychiatric Services to the Philadelphia Prisons and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Hahnemann University (1978-2000). In this role he saw firsthand how criminal behavior stemmed from childhood trauma. Dr. Schwartzman had the opportunity to train many of Hahnemann University’s medical students who would rotate through the prison hospital. He also regularly testified in court, sometimes in high-profile cases, regarding competency to stand trial and post-conviction recommendations.

Dr. Schwartzman was full of energy, and full of love for his family and his work. He had an incredibly generous spirit. He also had an inquisitive and open scientific mind. Using his skills as a pharmacist, he was known to putter in his kitchen compounding medications with a mortar and pestle that weren’t available in the pharmacy. He liked to point out that many great thinkers, scientists, and artists were laughed at and scorned by the establishment during their lifetimes, only to be accepted as geniuses centuries later.

Like his mother, Beatrice, Dr. Schwartzman was an optimist who always saw his cup in life as half full. He felt extremely fortunate throughout his life, pointing out on the occasion of his 83rd birthday that he had enjoyed good health until old age had recently taken its toll. He expressed how very lucky he was to have had meaningful work that he enjoyed for so many years. He took great joy and pride in his immediate family.

Dr. Schwartzman’s message was to enjoy life whenever possible, often encouraging his family to have more fun. He very much liked Goethe’s quote: “Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.” His recipe for a successful life: Try to lead a simpler life by limiting unnecessary obligations and responsibilities. Find big work that you find meaningful and enjoy. Take pleasure in giving generously to your family and others you love. Do not strive to be “happy.”

As founding board member emeritus, Dr. Schwartzman also played an important role in founding Bruchim, a nonprofit that supports non-circumcising Jewish families. He was delighted by Bruchim and always enjoyed hearing the latest Bruchim news, frequently sharing insights with his daughter Rebecca that have helped shape the direction of the organization. Bruchim will be a lesser organization for his absence.

If you have memories of Dr. Schwartzman that you would like to share with the Wald family, or any other thoughts related to his life and work, you may send them to [email protected] The family is requesting that memorial contributions be made to Intact America, Bruchim, or the charity of your choice that benefits infants and children.

Do You Know: The causes of tight foreskin and what to do about it?

Marilyn MilosBy Marilyn Milos, RN

Sometimes the retractable foreskin of an adult male will close down; this condition is called “pathological phimosis.” Too often, when men who have developed pathological phimosis consult with a urologist or other physician, they are told that the only cure is circumcision. This is incorrect in most cases.

The word phimosis means muzzling, to indicate that the glans (head of the penis) is muzzled by the foreskin. At birth, most babies have “physiological phimosis,” a normal condition because the glans and foreskin have not yet separated. The foreskin separates from the glans over time, usually by adolescence.

But even after the foreskin becomes mobile and retractable, it is possible that a man will one day begin to have trouble retracting it, and be diagnosed with pathological phimosis.

Here are a few possible causes for pathological phimosis, along with cures that you can pursue in order to avoid the loss of your foreskin.

1. Yeast imbalance. Exposure to soap, shampoos, and chlorinated water in swimming pools or hot tubs can kill normal, beneficial bacteria on the foreskin. This can result in yeast overgrowth, inflammation, itching, and stinging with urination; it can also make the foreskin close down. A yeast imbalance can be corrected by eliminating soap and shampoo, or by using a barrier cream on the foreskin before swimming. To help the healing process. Liquid Acidophilus culture purchased from the health food store or pharmacy can also be applied to the foreskin by pouring some of the liquid into the palm of the hand, dipping the foreskin into the solution, and letting it drip dry; do this six times a day for 3 or 4 days.

2. Vigorous sexual activity. Sometimes the foreskin will close down if a male has been too vigorous sexually, which can cause small tears in the foreskin. The opening will become tight while the tissue heals. Time and gentleness are the cure for this.

3. “Lichen sclerosus” (formerly called “BXO”), is another condition that can cause the foreskin to become too tight. Lichen sclerosus is characterized by the presence of small, shiny, and smooth white patches on the foreskin. These patches may become larger, and the skin may become itchy, thin, and wrinkled, and may tear easily and bleed. A dermatologist can diagnose lichen sclerosus, which is commonly treated with two creams, Clotrimazole and hydrocortisone, both available over the counter at your local pharmacy, or by prescription, depending upon the desired strength.

If none of these conditions is present, and your foreskin is simply too tight for comfortable retraction, before considering circumcision, ask your urologist about a Y-V- or Z-plasty. These are surgical techniques in which small slits are cut in the foreskin, and then sewn together in a way that widens the opening. This surgery saves the foreskin and its specialized nerve endings that allow for full sexual sensations and enjoyment.

As you can see, finding the reason for your phimosis is a critical step to solving the problem and avoiding the loss of your foreskin.

If you have questions not covered here about problems with your foreskin, you may write to us at: [email protected].

Voices — James F. Verrees, M.D., FACOG


During my Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency, I had the opportunity to learn newborn circumcision. Because of the frequency of the procedure, I agreed to the training. Yes, the Siren on the rocks of “cultural normalcy” called me.

Immediately prior to the training, I remember a blond-haired resident giddy with excitement at being able to learn the procedure, and vividly recall her saying: “Have the nursing staff line the boys up. Go Chop! Chop! Chop! Think of all the RVUs you can make??” RVU stands for Relative Value Unit, which is a figure used for compensation. Obviously, her main concern was the amount of money that could be generated by sexually maiming newborn boys in the name of profit. 

The white Circumstraint board was on a procedure table. The baby was brought into the room. The mother’s written “consent” had been verified.

There were three of us. My assigned job was to put the safety pin through the foreskin. 

The naked baby was then placed in four-point restraint and immediately began crying uncontrollably. Someone prepped the skin. Another Resident placed the local anesthetic which resulted in further crying. Those who have children or work with newborns know that babies do “talk” in their own ways. There are cries of hunger. Cries of frustration, and cries of absolute fear and pain. Perhaps I am blocking out the other parts of the procedure that the other two doctor trainees performed.

It came time for me to place the safety pin, so I was standing directly over the baby. The screaming was just awful. I can remember starting to place the safety pin in the foreskin and small dot of blood appeared where the pin would be placed. At this point, I almost walked out of the room. Seeing a naked restrained human screaming in pain, with his head rocking back, spittle flying from his little mouth was too much. I wondered, “Now why are we doing this? Why are we violating this human being? I finished my part and stepped aside. As the shrieks of the restrained baby intensified, the third resident severed the baby’s foreskin along the edge of the clamp and placed the circular bloody specimen on side of the Circumstraint. 

I will never forget the shrieks of that baby. 

The episode left me with the knowledge that I had violated my own morals as well as the code of medical ethics. Indisputably, we had done harm to the baby that day. The baby’s normal genital anatomy at birth had been forever changed, leaving him physically altered as well as neurologically ruined. Unquestionably, it is impossible for a newborn baby to give consent for such a procedure. I still hear the screams from time-to-time.

And we call ourselves healers?

I have never performed or taken part in another circumcision.

James F. Verrees, M.D., FACOG
Las Vegas, Nevada

Interested in lending your voice? Send us an email, giving us a brief summary of what you would like to write about, and we will get back to you.

Ask Marilyn—Kiddo Is Having Painful Erections

The penis advice columnDear Marilyn,

My almost 5 year old keeps having erections and is complaining that it’s hurting. Is that normal for an intact kiddo? My oldest is circed as is hubby so this is new to me and hubby. What can I do to help him?

—Emily in Indiana

Dear Emily,

How does your son’s penis look? Are there any changes in his foreskin? Is it red or swollen? If not, then your son’s painful erections may need to be directly addressed. Erections are normal and begin in babies in utero. If your son’s erections are painful, then the development of his penis needs to be explained to him. When he understands that at birth the foreskin is usually non-retractile because the foreskin and glans (head of the penis) are attached when they develop. These two structures will separate over time. Once the foreskin and glans separate, the foreskin becomes retractable. As the foreskin becomes retractable, erections may cause sensations as the foreskin separates from the glans or because the opening of the foreskin is not yet large enough to accommodate retraction of the glans. Discussion of these aspects of his penile development should help determine where the pain is coming from so that your son can consider and accept the sensations as a part of the developmental process or something that needs to be addressed.

—Marilyn

Ask Marilyn—Can a Tight Foreskin be Treated without Circumcision?

The penis advice columnDear Marilyn:

I’m a 35-year-old man. I have been having trouble with a very tight foreskin. My doctor says it’s phimosis, and the only treatment is circumcision. Is there any other remedy? I’d really like to keep my foreskin.

—Harold, New Orleans, LA

Dear Harold:

The word phimosis means muzzled, to indicate that the glans (head of the penis) is muzzled by the foreskin. At birth, most babies have “physiological phimosis,” a normal condition because the glans and foreskin have not yet separated. The foreskin separates from the glans over time, usually by adolescence.

Sometimes a retractable foreskin of an adult male will close down; this condition is called “pathological phimosis.” From your letter, I cannot determine why your foreskin has closed down, so I will suggest a number of possible causes and cures.

  1. Exposure to soap, shampoos, and chlorinated water in swimming pools or hot tubs can kill normal, beneficial bacteria on the foreskin, which can result in yeast overgrowth, inflammation, itching, and stinging with urination; it can also make the foreskin close down. This condition can be corrected by eliminating soap and shampoo, or by using barriers creams on the foreskin before swimming. To help the healing process. liquid Acidophilus culture purchased from the health food store or pharmacy can also be applied to the foreskin by pouring some of the liquid into the palm of the hand, dipping the foreskin into the solution, and letting it drip dry; do this six times a day for 3 or 4 days.
  2. Sometimes the foreskin will close down if a male has been too vigorous sexually, which can cause small tears in the foreskin. The opening will become tight while the tissue heals. Time and gentleness are the cure for this.
  3. Pathological phimosis can result from a condition called “lichen sclerosus” (formerly called “BXO”), characterized by the presence of small, shiny, and smooth white patches on the foreskin. These patches may become larger, and the skin may become itchy, thin, and wrinkled, and may tear easily and bleed. A dermatologist can diagnose lichen sclerosus, which is commonly treated with two creams, Clotrimazole and hydrocortisone, both available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy or by prescription, depending upon the desired strength.
  4. Finally, before considering circumcision, ask your urologist about a Y-V- or Z-plasty—a surgery in which small slits are cut in the foreskin, and then they are sewn together in a way that widens the opening. This surgery saves the foreskin and its specialized nerve endings that allow for full sexual sensations and enjoyment.

So, you can see, Harold, that finding the reason for your phimosis is a critical step to solving the problem and avoiding the loss of your foreskin.

—Marilyn

Ask Marilyn—Is It Normal to Have Hair on Your Penis?

The penis advice columnDear Marilyn:

I have hair going up the shaft of my penis. Is this normal?

—Daniel F., Tulsa, OK

Dear Daniel:

Hair on human bodies varies by individual. Penile shaft hair is rare but most frequently it is the result of circumcision, which pulls scrotal skin onto the shaft. Men with this problem sometimes manually remove the hairs one-by-one with a tweezer, or resort to electrolysis to eradicate unwanted hair growth on the shaft. If we stop doing circumcisions, this problem will end.

—Marilyn