The Full Wiki

Wilhelm Reich: Wikis

  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wilhelm Reich

Born March 24, 1897(1897-03-24)
Dobrzanica, Galicia
Died November 3, 1957 (aged 60)
Lewisburg, PA
Residence Rangeley, ME
Citizenship Austrian, American
Fields Psychoanalysis
Alma mater University of Vienna
Known for Freudo-Marxism, body psychotherapy, orgone
Influences Max Stirner, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx
Influenced Saul Bellow, William Burroughs, Paul Edwards, Arthur Janov, Paul Goodman, Alexander Lowen, Norman Mailer, A.S. Neill, Fritz Perls

Wilhelm Reich (March 24, 1897 – November 3, 1957) was an Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, known as one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry.[1] He was the author of several notable textbooks, including The Mass Psychology of Fascism and Character Analysis, both published in 1933.

Reich worked with Sigmund Freud in the 1920s and was a respected analyst for much of his life, focusing on character structure rather than on individual neurotic symptoms.[2] He tried to reconcile Marxism and psychoanalysis, arguing that neurosis is rooted in the physical, sexual, economic, and social conditions of the patient, and promoted adolescent sexuality, the availability of contraceptives, abortion, and divorce, and the importance for women of economic independence. His work influenced a generation of intellectuals, including Saul Bellow, William Burroughs, Paul Edwards, Norman Mailer, and A. S. Neill, and shaped innovations such as Fritz Perls's Gestalt therapy, Alexander Lowen's bioenergetic analysis, and Arthur Janov's primal therapy.[3]

Later in life, he became a controversial figure who was both adored and condemned. He began to violate some of the key taboos of psychoanalysis, using touch during sessions, and treating patients in their underwear to improve their "orgastic potency." He said he had discovered a primordial cosmic energy, which he said others called God, and which he called "orgone." He built "orgone energy accumulators" that his patients sat inside to harness the reputed health benefits, leading to newspaper stories about "sex boxes" that cured cancer.[4]

Reich was living in Germany when Adolf Hitler came to power in January 1933. On March 2, the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter published an attack on one of Reich's pamphlets, The Sexual Struggle of Youth.[5] He left immediately for Vienna, then Scandinavia, moving to the United States in 1939. In 1947, following a series of articles about orgone in The New Republic and Harper's,[6] the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) obtained an injunction against the interstate sale of orgone accumulators. Charged with contempt for violating it, Reich conducted his own defense, which involved sending the judge all his books to read and arguing that a court was no place to decide matters of science. He was sentenced to two years in prison, and in August 1956, several tons of his publications were burned by the FDA,[7] arguably one of the worst examples of censorship in U.S. history.[2] He died in jail of heart failure just over a year later, days before he was due to apply for parole.[8]

Contents

Early life

Childhood

Reich was born the first of two sons to Leon Reich, a prosperous farmer, and Cecilia Roniger, in Dobrzanica, a village in Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father was by all accounts strict, cold, and jealous. He was Jewish, but Reich was later at pains to point out that his father had moved away from Judaism and had not raised his children as Jews; Reich wasn't even allowed to play with Yiddish-speaking children.[9] As an adult, Reich corrected anyone who referred to him as a Jew. His biographer, Myron Sharaf, writes that this was in part because of his rejection of what he called "Jewish chauvinism," in part because he disliked being forced into any position he had not chosen for himself, and in part because he never wanted to be an outsider.[10]

Shortly after his birth, the family moved south to a farm in Jujinetz, near Chernivtsi, Bukovina, where Reich's father took control of a cattle farm owned by his mother's uncle, Josef Blum. Reich attributed his later interest in the study of sex and the biological basis of the emotions to his upbringing on the farm where, as he later put it, the natural life functions were never hidden from him.[11] He also spoke of having witnessed the family maid having intercourse with her boyfriend, and asking her later if he could "play" the part of the lover. He said that, by the time he was four years old, there were no secrets about sex for him;[9] in his early memoirs, Passion of Youth, he writes that he had intercourse for the first time at the age of 11½, though elsewhere said that he was 13.[12]

I had read somewhere that lovers get rid of any intruder, so with wild fantasies in my brain I slipped back to my bed, my joy of life shattered, torn apart in my inmost being for my whole life! — Wilhelm Reich.[13]

He was taught at home until he was 12, when his mother committed suicide after she was discovered having an affair with Reich's tutor, who lived with the family. Her death was particularly brutal: she drank a common household cleaner, which left her in great pain for days before she died.[14][15]

Reich wrote in 1920 about how deeply his mother's affair had affected him. Night after night he had followed her as she crept to the tutor's bedroom. He would stand outside listening, feeling ashamed, angry, and jealous; he wondered if they would kill him if they found out, and briefly thought of forcing her to have sex with him too. Torn between wanting to protect her, but also to tell his father, he later blamed himself for her death, waking in the night overwhelmed by the thought that he had killed her. The tutor was sent away, leaving Reich without a mother or a teacher, and with a powerful sense of guilt.[14]

Education

He was sent to the all-male Czernowitz gymnasium, excelling at Latin, Greek, and the natural sciences. It appears to have been during this period that a skin condition developed that plagued him for the rest of his life. When it began is unclear, but it was diagnosed as psoriasis; Sharaf speculates that it may have been triggered by his mother's suicide. He was given medication that contained arsenic, now known to make psoriasis worse.

His father was devastated by his wife's suicide.[16] In or around 1914, he took out a life insurance policy, then stood for hours in a cold pond, apparently fishing, but in fact intending to commit slow suicide, according to Reich and his brother, Robert.[17] He contracted pneumonia and tuberculosis, and died in 1914. Despite the insurance policy, no money was forthcoming.[17]

Sigmund Freud and Reich met in 1919.

Reich managed the farm and continued with his studies, graduating in 1915 mit Stimmeneinhelligkeit (unanimous approval). In the summer of that year, the Russians invaded Bukovina and the Reich brothers fled to Vienna, losing everything. In his Passion of Youth, Reich wrote: "I never saw either my homeland or my possessions again. Of a well-to-do past, nothing was left."

Reich joined the Austrian Army after school, serving from 1915-18, for the last two years as a lieutenant. When the war ended in 1918, he entered the medical school at the University of Vienna. As an undergraduate, he was drawn to the work of Sigmund Freud. The men first met in 1919 when Reich visited Freud to obtain literature for a seminar on sexology, Freud making a strong impression on him. He became one of Freud's favorite students.[18] Freud allowed him to start seeing analytic patients in 1920, when Reich was accepted as a guest member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association, becoming a regular member in October that year at the age of 23.[19] He was allowed to complete his six-year medical degree in four years because he was a war veteran, and received his M.D. in July 1922.[20]

Early career and first marriage

Reich worked in internal medicine at University Hospital, Vienna, and studied neuropsychiatry from 1922-24 at the Neurological and Psychiatric Clinic under Professor Julius Wagner-Jauregg. In 1922, he set up private practice as a psychoanalyst, and became a clinical assistant, and later deputy director of Freud's Psychoanalytic Polyclinic. He joined the faculty of the Psychoanalytic Institute in Vienna in 1924, conducted research into the social causes of neurosis, and became Deputy Director of Training.[18]

A plaque on the house Reich lived in with his wife and children at Schlangenbader Straße 87, Berlin-Wilmersdorf, from 1931 until February 1933.

It was in Vienna that he met Annie Pink, a medical student who came to him for analysis, and who later became an analyst herself. They married on March 17, 1922, when she was 20 and Reich one week short of 25, with Otto Fenichel as a witness.[21] The marriage produced two daughters, Eva in 1924 and Lore in 1928.[22] They moved to Berlin in 1930, where he set up clinics in working-class areas, taught sex education, and published pamphlets. He joined the Communist Party of Germany, and his book, The Sexual Revolution, was published in Vienna, but he became too outspoken for the communists, and was expelled from the German party in 1933 and a year later from its Danish counterpart. He was also expelled from the International Psychoanalytical Association in 1934 for political militancy.[23]

Reich had several affairs during his marriage, including one with his wife's friend, Lia Lasky, in 1927. He and his wife finally separated in 1933 after he began a serious relationship in May 1932 with Elsa Lindenburg, a choreographer and dance therapist, trained in Laban movement analysis, and a pupil of Elsa Gindler. He and Lindenburg were living in Germany when Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933. On March 2, the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter published an attack on Reich's Der Sexuale Kampf der Jugend (The Sexual Struggle of Youth).[5] He was derided as a womanizer, a communist, and a Jew who advocated free love. He and Lindenburg left for Vienna the next day. They moved to Scandinavia, first to Denmark where Reich ran into trouble, accused of corrupting Danish youth with German sexology, then to Sweden, and in the fall of 1934 to Norway.[24]

1934–1939: Oslo

Vegetotherapy and the orgasm

Reich's home in Drammensveien near Olaf Kyrres plass at Frogner, Oslo. A blue plaque reads: "The physician and psychoanalyst WILHELM REICH (1897-1957) lived and worked here 1935–39. Developed character analysis and the body-oriented therapy."

Reich stayed in Norway for five years, working under the auspices of Professor Schjelderup of the Psychological Institute at the University of Oslo.

He first presented the principles of his vegetotherapy in a paper called "Psychic contact and vegetative current" in August 1934 at the 13th International Congress of Psychoanalysis at Lucerne, Switzerland, and went on to develop the technique between 1935 and 1940. Vegetotherapy involves the patient physically simulating the effects of certain emotions, in the hope of triggering them. Reich argued that the ability to feel sexual love depended on a physical ability to make love with what he called "orgastic potency." He tried to measure the male orgasm, noting that four distinct phases occurred physiologically: first, the psychosexual build-up or tension; second, the tumescence of the penis, with an accompanying charge, which Reich measured electrically; third, an electrical discharge at the moment of orgasm; and fourth, the relaxation of the penis. He believed the force that he measured was a distinct type of energy present in all life forms.[25]

He was a prolific writer for psychoanalytic journals in Europe. Originally, psychoanalysis was focused on the treatment of neurotic symptoms. Reich's Character Analysis was a major step in the development of what today would be called ego psychology. In Reich's view, a person's entire character, not only individual symptoms, could be looked at and treated as a neurotic phenomenon. The book also introduced Reich's theory of body armoring. He argued that unreleased psychosexual energy could produce actual physical blocks within muscles and organs, and that these act as a "body armor" preventing the release of the energy. An orgasm was one way to break through the armor. These ideas developed into a general theory of the importance of a healthy sex life to overall well-being, a theory compatible with Freud's views.

His idea was that the orgasm was not simply a device to aid procreation, but was the body's emotional energy regulator. The better the orgasm, the more energy was released, meaning that less was available to create neurotic states. Reich called the ability to release sufficient energy during orgasm "orgastic potency," something that very few individuals could achieve, he argued, because of society's sexual oppression. A man or woman without orgastic potency was in a constant state of tension, developing a body armor to keep it in. The outer rigidity and inner anxiety is the state of neurosis, leading to hate, sadism, greed, fascism and antisemitism.[24]

He agreed with Freud that sexual development was the origin of mental illness. They both believed that most psychological states were dictated by unconscious processes; that infant sexuality develops early but is repressed, and that this has important consequences for mental health. At that time a Marxist (see Freudo-Marxism), Reich argued that the source of sexual repression was bourgeois morality and the socio-economic structures that produced it. As sexual repression was the cause of the neuroses, the best cure would be to have an active, guilt-free sex life. He argued that such a liberation could come about only through a morality not imposed by a repressive economic structure.[26] In 1928, he joined the Austrian Communist Party and founded the Socialist Association for Sexual Counseling and Research, which organized counseling centers for workers.

The bion experiments

From 1934-39, Reich conducted experiments looking at vegetative energy in the body, especially the Galvanic skin response, which became research into the origins of life. These he called the "Bion Experiments."

He examined protozoa, single-celled creatures with nuclei. He grew cultured vesicles using grass, sand, iron, and animal tissue, boiling them, and adding potassium and gelatin. Having heated the materials to incandescence with a heat-torch, he noted bright, glowing, blue vesicles, which, he said, could be cultured, and which gave off an observable radiant energy. He named the vesicles "bions" and believed they were a rudimentary form of life, halfway between life and non-life. When he poured the cooled mixture onto growth media, bacteria were born, he said, dismissing the idea that the bacteria were already present in the air or on other materials.[27]

T-bacilli

In 1936, Reich wrote that "[s]ince everything is antithetically arranged, there must be two different types of single-celled organisms: (a) life-destroying organisms or organisms that form through organic decay, (b) life-promoting organisms that form from inorganic material that comes to life."[28] This idea of spontaneous generation led him to believe he had found the cause of cancer. He called the life-destroying organisms "T-bacilli," with the T standing for Tod, German for death. He described in The Cancer Biopathy how he had found them in a culture of rotting cancerous tissue obtained from a local hospital. He wrote that T-bacilli were formed from the disintegration of protein; they were 0.2 to 0.5 micrometer in length, shaped like lancets, and when injected into mice, they caused inflammation and cancer. He concluded that, when orgone energy diminishes in cells through aging or injury, the cells undergo "bionous degeneration," or death. At some point, the deadly T-bacilli start to form in the cells. Death from cancer, he believed, was caused by an overwhelming growth of the T-bacilli.

Nudity and touch during sessions

From 1930 onwards, Reich became more interested in his patients' physical responses during therapy sessions, and toward the late 1930s, he began to treat patients outside the limits of psychoanalysis's restrictions, though well within the scope of general medicine. He began to sit next to his patients, rather than behind them, in order to make stronger 'contact.' He started touching them, to both increase awareness of tension and contraction and to relieve it directly. He would ask his male patients to undress down to their shorts, and sometimes to undress entirely, and his female patients down to their underclothes. He began talking to them, answering their questions, rather than the stock, "Why do you ask?" analyst's reponse.[29]

From a psychoanalytic point of view, this undermined the position of neutrality. The analyst is meant to be a blank screen onto which the patient projects his old desires, his loves, his hates, his neurosis-- a process known as transference. Reich wrote that the psychoanalytic taboos reinforced the neurotic taboos of the patient. He slowly broke away from them, writing that he wanted his patients to see him as human.[30] He would press hard on their "body armor," his thumb or the palm of his hand pressing on their jaws, necks, chests, backs, or thighs, aiming to dissolve their muscular, and thereby characterological, rigidity.[31] He wanted to see their movements soften, their breathing ease. This dissolution of the "body armor" also brought back the repressed memory of the childhood situation that had caused the repression, he wrote. If the session worked as intended, he wrote that he could see waves of pleasure move through their bodies, a series of spontaneous, involuntary movements. Reich called these the "orgasm reflex." The two goals of Reichian therapy became the attainment of this orgasm reflex during therapy, and orgastic potency during intercourse. Reich called the flow of energy that he said he observed in his patients' bodies, "bio-electricity," and considered calling his therapy "orgasmotherapy," but thought better of it for political reasons.[32]

Opposition to his ideas

Scientists in Oslo reacted strongly to his work on bions, deriding it as nonsense. Tidens Tegn, a leading liberal newspaper, launched a campaign against him in 1937, supported by scientists and other newspapers.[24] Between September 1937 and the fall of 1938, over 100 articles denouncing him appeared in the main Oslo newspapers.[33]

In 1937, Leiv Kreyberg, the country's top cancer specialist, was allowed to examine one of Reich's bion preparations under the microscope. Kreyberg wrote that the broth Reich had used as his culture medium was indeed sterile, but that the bacteria were ordinary staphylococci. He concluded that Reich's control measures to prevent infection from airborne bacteria were not as foolproof as Reich believed. Kreyberg accused Reich of being ignorant of basic bacteriological and anatomical facts, while Reich accused Kreyberg of having failed to recognize living cancer cells under magnification. Thus, Sharaf writes, an opportunity for scientific exchange degenerated into name-calling.[27]

Reich sent a sample of the bacteria to another Norwegian biologist, Professor Thjötta of the Oslo Bacteriological Institute, who also said they resulted from air infection. Kreyberg and Thjötta had their views published in Aftenposten on April 19 and 21, 1938, Krayberg referring to him as "Mr. Reich," alleging that Reich knew less about bacteria and anatomy than a first-year medical student. When Reich requested a detailed control study, Kreyberg responded that his work did not merit it.[27]

Reich's The Bion Experiments on the Origin of Life was published in 1938, leading to attacks by the scientific and lay press that he was a "Jew pornographer," who was daring to meddle with the origins of life. Alan Cantwell writes that Reich's detractors focused on one paragraph in which Reich wrote that his research had "proved particularly fruitful for an understanding of cancer," which led to the claim that he was promoting a quack cancer cure.[25]

By February 1938, his visa had expired. Several Norwegian scientists argued against an extension, Kreyberg saying, "If it is a question of handing Dr. Reich over to the Gestapo, then I will fight that, but if one could get rid of him in a decent manner, that would be the best." The writer Sigurd Hoel wondered when it had become a crime to perform amateurish biological experiments. "When did it become a reason for deportation that one looked in a microscope when one was not a trained biologist?" Reich received influential support from overseas, first from Bronisław Malinowski, who wrote to the Norwegian press in March 1938 that Reich's sociological work was a "distinct and valuable contribution to science," and from A.S. Neill, founder of Summerhill in England, a progressive school known throughout the world. Neill also wrote to the Norwegian press, arguing that "the campaign against Reich seems largely ignorant and uncivilized, more like fascism than democracy ..." Norway was proud of its intellectual tolerance, so the "Reich affair" put the government on the spot. A compromise was therefore found. Reich was given his visa, but a royal decree was issued stipulating that anyone wanting to practice psychoanalysis needed a licence, and it was widely understood that Reich would not be given one.[33]

Throughout the affair, Reich had issued just one public statement, when he asked for a commission to replicate his bion experiments. Sharaf writes that the scientific opposition to his work affected his personality and relationships. He was angered and humiliated by the notoriety he had inadvertently achieved. His self-confidence undermined, he felt like a marked man, hunted and tormented, no longer comfortable in public, and seething with bitterness against the researchers who had denounced him.[34]

Personal life

Sharaf writes that, at a personal level, 1934–1937 had been the happiest period of Reich's life. His relationship with Elsa Lindenberg was good and he considered marrying her. When she became pregnant in 1935, they were initially overjoyed, buying clothes and furniture for the child, but doubts developed for Reich, who felt the future was too unsettled. Sharaf writes that, to Elsa's great distress, Reich insisted on an abortion, at that time illegal. They went to Berlin, where Edith Jacobson, a psychoanalyst, helped to arrange it.[35]

In 1937, Reich began an affair with a female patient, an actress who was the ex-wife of a colleague. She had entered therapy with the explicit intention of seducing him, which he told her was impossible, but she succeeded. The analysis stopped because of the relationship, then the relationship ended and the analysis began again, a highly unprofessional situation. She eventually threatened to go to the press, but was persuaded that it would harm her at least as much as him. When a colleague asked him why he had behaved this way, he replied, "A man must do foolish things sometimes."[36] He also had an affair with Gerd Bergersen, a 25-year-old Norwegian textile designer.[37]

During the same period, as the newspaper campaign against him gained pace, he suddenly developed intense jealousy toward Elsa, demanding that she share his work with him, and not have a separate life of any kind. He even physically assaulted a composer she was working with on some choreography; Elsa briefly considered calling the police but decided Reich couldn't afford another scandal. His behavior took its toll on their relationship, and when Reich asked her to accompany him to the U.S., she said no, writing later that it was the hardest "no" she had ever had to say.[38]

1939: Move to the U.S.

Teaching; meeting his second wife

Reich in 1944 with his second wife, Ilse, and their son, Peter. Peter wrote A Book of Dreams about how he and Reich would go cloudbusting, and his bewilderment when Reich died in prison when Peter was 13 years old.

In March 1938, Hitler annexed Austria. Reich's ex-wife and daughters had already left Austria for the U.S. Later that year, an American psychiatrist at Columbia Medical School, Theodore P. Wolfe, traveled to Norway to study under Reich. Wolfe offered to help Reich settle in the U.S., and managed to arrange an official invitation from the The New School in New York. Wolfe and Walter Briehl, an old student of Reich's, put up several thousand dollars to guarantee Reich's salary. Wolfe also pulled strings with Adolph Berle, an official in the U.S. State Department. He finally received his visa in August 1939, and sailed out of Norway on August 19 on the Stavenger Fjord, the last boat to leave for the States before the war began on September 3.[39]

He began teaching at The New School, where he remained for two years, living first at 75-02 Kessel Street, Forest Hills, Queens, then settling into a two-story brick house at 9906 69th Avenue in the same area. It had a basement that he used for animal experiments, a large room on the first floor that served as an office, dining room, living room, and a place for his seminar students every other week. The room that would normally have been a dining room became his laboratory. Two bedrooms on the top floor were shared by his maid and his secretary, Gertrud Gaasland, and three rooms on the second floor became Reich's bedroom and therapy rooms.[40]

It was Gertrud Gaasland who introduced him to Ilse Ollendorf, 29 years old at the time. Reich was still in love with Elsa, but Ilse threw herself into organizing Reich's life for him, taking over the secretarial and bookkeeping tasks, learning laboratory techniques, and showing herself willing to mold herself completely to his lifestyle, something Elsa had been unwilling to do. They began living together on Christmas Day 1939, and she began to work for him on January 2, 1940. They had a son, Peter, in 1944, and were married in 1946.[41][42]

Reich's personality changed after the onslaught of the press in Oslo. He became socially isolated, and decided to keep his distance even from old friends and his ex-wife. He told a friend he was going to follow the "remarkable law": be distant, even a little haughty, withhold love, and then people will respect you. His students in the U.S. came to know him as a man that no colleague, no matter how close, called by his first name. He wrote to Elsa in January 1940 breaking off their relationship once and for all, telling her that he was in despair, and that he believed he would end up dying like a dog.[43]

Allegations of mental illness

Rumors had been rife since the late 1920s that he was mentally ill in some way, and had even been hospitalized, though Sharaf writes that he had not. He was seen as paranoid, remote, belligerent, and fanatical. Sharaf writes that psychoanalysts have had a tendency to dismiss as ill anyone from within the fold who has digressed, and that never was this done so relentlessly or destructively as with Reich. His work was split into the pre-psychotic "good" Reich, and the post-psychotic "bad," the date of the illness's onset depending on which parts of his work were disliked by the speaker. Psychoanalysts wanted to see him as sane in the 1920s because of his solid work on character; political radicals regarded him as sane during the 1930s because of his Marxist-oriented psychology research.[44]

Orgonomy

Freud had argued that there was a sexual energy called libido, which he initially described as "something which is capable of increase, decrease, displacement and discharge, and which extends itself over the memory traces of an idea like an electric charge over the surface of the body," but by 1925 he had rejected the idea that it was a physical energy.[20] Reich took the idea further, arguing that he had discovered a primordial cosmic energy. He called it "orgone," and the study of it "orgonomy."

Orgone is blue in color, he wrote, omnipresent, can be seen with the naked eye, and is responsible for such things as weather, the color of the sky, gravity, the formation of galaxies, and the biological expressions of emotion and sexuality. He argued that St. Elmo's Fire is a manifestation of it, as is the blue color of sexually excited frogs. Red corpuscles, plant chlorophyll, gonadal cells, protozoa, and cancer cells are all charged with orgone, he said.[24]

He argued that humankind had previously split its knowledge of orgone in two: "ether" for its mechanistic, physical aspects, and God for the spiritual, the subjective.[45] He wrote that, "God-Father is the basic cosmic energy from which all being stems, and which streams through (the) body as through anything else in existence."[46]

Orgone accumulators

In 1940, he built boxes called "orgone accumulators" to concentrate atmospheric orgone. Some of the boxes were for lab animals, and some were large enough for a human being to sit inside. Composed of alternating layers of ferrous metals and organic insulators with a high dielectric constant, the accumulators had the appearance of a large, hollow capacitor. Based on experiments with them, he argued that orgone energy was a negatively-entropic force in nature responsible for concentrating and organizing matter. The construction of the boxes caught the attention of the press, leading to wild rumors that they were "sex boxes" that caused uncontrollable erections.[25]

According to Reich's theory, illness was primarily caused by depletion or blockages of the orgone energy within the body. He conducted clinical tests of the orgone accumulator on people suffering from a variety of illnesses. The patient would sit within the accumulator and absorb the "concentrated orgone energy." He built smaller, more portable accumulator-blankets of the same layered construction for application to parts of the body. The effects observed were said to boost the immune system, even to the point of destroying certain types of tumors, though Reich was hesitant to claim this constituted a cure. The orgone accumulator was also tested on mice with cancer, and on plant-growth, the results convincing Reich that the benefits of orgone therapy could not be attributed to a placebo effect.[citation needed] He had, he believed, developed a grand unified theory of physical and mental health, a claim regarded by the psychoanalytic community as quackery.[47]

Experiment XX

In December 1944, Reich began the 20th (Roman numeral XX) in his series of bion experiments.[48] He filtered all the earth out of an earth bion preparation so that all that remained was clear yellow water, then buried the test tube outdoors in the frozen ground. When he retrieved it three weeks later and examined it under a microscope, he saw pulsating plasmatic flakes. Since the yellow water had not contained visible particulates before it had been frozen, Reich concluded that free orgone energy had condensed out to form the lifelike flakes. This experiment formed the basis for Reich's later theory that all matter in the universe had derived from orgone energy via cosmic superimposition.[49]

Cloudbusters

Reich with one of his cloudbusters, which he said could manipulate streams of orgone to produce rain.

Reich posited a conjugate, life-annulling energy in opposition to orgone, which he dubbed Deadly Orgone or DOR. He wrote that accumulations of DOR played a role in desertification, and he designed a "cloudbuster" with which he said he could manipulate streams of orgone energy in the atmosphere to induce rain by forcing clouds to form and disperse. It was a set of hollow metal pipes and cables inserted into water, which Reich argued created a stronger orgone energy field than was in the atmosphere, the water drawing the atmospheric orgone through the pipes.[20]

Reich conducted dozens of experiments with the cloudbuster[citation needed], calling the research "Cosmic Orgone Engineering." In 1953, a drought threatened Maine's blueberry crop, and several farmers offered to pay Reich if he could make it rain. The weather bureau had reportedly forecast no rain for several days when Reich began the experiment on at 10 a.m. on July 6, 1953. The Bangor Daily News reported on July 24:

Dr. Reich and three assistants set up their "rain-making" device off the shore of Grand Lake, near the Bangor hydro-electric dam ... The device, a set of hollow tubes, suspended over a small cylinder, connected by a cable, conducted a "drawing" operation for about an hour and ten minutes ...

According to a reliable source in Ellsworth the following climactic changes took place in that city on the night of July 6 and the early morning of July 7: "Rain began to fall shortly after ten o'clock Monday evening, first as a drizzle and then by midnight as a gentle, steady rain. Rain continued throughout the night, and a rainfall of 0.24 inches was recorded in Ellsworth the following morning."

A puzzled witness to the "rain-making" process said: "The queerest looking clouds you ever saw began to form soon after they got the thing rolling." And later the same witness said the scientists were able to change the course of the wind by manipulation of the device.[50]

The blueberry crop survived, the farmers declared themselves satisfied, and Reich received his fee.[20]

Orgone experiment with Einstein

Reich discussed orgone accumulators with Albert Einstein in 1941.

On December 30, 1940, Reich wrote to Albert Einstein saying he had a scientific discovery he wanted to discuss, and on January 13, 1941 went to visit Einstein in Princeton. They talked for five hours, and Einstein agreed to test an orgone accumulator, which Reich had constructed out of a Faraday cage made of galvanized steel and insulated by wood and paper on the outside.[51] Einstein agreed that if, as Reich suggested, an object's temperature could be raised without an apparent heating source, it would be a "bombshell" in physics.[52]

Reich supplied Einstein with a small accumulator during their second meeting, and Einstein performed the experiment in his basement, which involved taking the temperature atop, inside, and near the device. He also stripped the device down to its Faraday cage to compare temperatures. In his attempt to replicate Reich's findings, Einstein observed a rise in temperature,[53] which Reich argued was caused by the orgone energy that had accumulated inside the Faraday cage.[54] However, one of Einstein's assistants pointed out that the temperature was lower on the floor than on the ceiling.[55] Following that remark, Einstein modified the experiment and, as a result, concluded that the effect was simply due to the temperature gradient inside the room.[56] He wrote back to Reich, describing his experiments and expressing the hope that Reich would develop a more skeptical approach.[57]

Reich responded with a 25-page letter to Einstein, expressing concern that "convection from the ceiling" would join "air germs" and "Brownian movement" to explain away new findings.[54] The correspondence between Reich and Einstein was published by Reich's press as The Einstein Affair in 1953, possibly without Einstein's permission.[58]

Arrested by the FBI

On December 12, 1941, five days after Pearl Harbor, Reich was arrested at his home at 2 a.m. by the FBI, and taken to Ellis Island, where he was held for over three weeks, because he was an immigrant with a communist background. He was furious, and blamed his first wife, with whom he had a very poor relationship, for having reported him in some way, though there is no evidence that she was involved. His psoriasis erupted, and his doctor persuaded the authorities to transfer him to the hospital ward, where Ilse was allowed to visit him twice a week. Wolfe and a lawyer did their best to find out what the charge was, Wolfe traveling several times to Washington to protest, but it was not until December 26 that a hearing was held, and still it remained unclear why he had been picked up. He was questioned about several books the FBI had found in his home, including Hitler's Mein Kampf, Trotsky's My Life, and a Russian alphabet book for children. Eventually Reich threatened to go on hunger strike, and he was released on January 5, 1942. The FBI released 789 pages of its files on Reich in 2000, which said:

This German immigrant described himself as the Associate Professor of Medical Psychology, Director of the Orgone Institute, President and research physician of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation and discoverer of biological or life energy. A 1940 security investigation was begun to determine the extent of Reich's communist commitments. A board of Alien Enemy Hearing judged that Dr. Reich was not a threat to the security of the U.S.[59]

Purchase of Orgonon

Using money from his income as a therapist, and contributions from students, Reich purchased an old farm near Dodge Pond, Maine in November 1942. He called the 160 acres of fields, forests, and hills "Orgonon." He built a laboratory there in 1945, and in 1948 began construction of the Orgone Energy Observatory, which included another laboratory, a library, and observation decks to study atmospheric orgone.[20]

Controversy

1947: The Brady article and the FDA

Until 1947, Reich enjoyed a largely uncritical press in the U.S. His psychotherapy practice was flourishing, his psychoanalytic theories were taught in universities and discussed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the American Journal of Psychiatry. He was listed in American Men of Science, and The Nation gave his writing positive reviews. Only one science journal, Psychosomatic Medicine, had criticized him, calling his ideas about orgone a "surrealist creation."[24]

Mildred Brady's The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich, The New Republic, May 26, 1947.

His reputation took a sudden downturn in May 1947. On May 26, an article by freelance writer Mildred Edie Brady appeared in The New Republic entitled, "The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich," with the subhead, "The man who blames both neuroses and cancer on unsatisfactory sexual activities has been repudiated by only one scientific journal."[24] Brady wrote: "Orgone, named after the sexual orgasm, is, according to Reich, a cosmic energy. It is, in fact, the cosmic energy. Reich has not only discovered it; he has seen it, demonstrated it and named a town—Orgonon, Maine—after it. Here he builds accumulators of it which are rented out to patients, who presumably derive 'orgastic potency' from it."[24] Sharaf writes that the implication was clear: the accumulators gave orgastic potency, the lack of which causes cancer. Therefore, the claim for the accumulators was that they cured cancer. Brady argued that the "growing Reich cult" had to be dealt with.[60]

August 1947 letter from the FDA about Reich, referencing the Brady article

The regulation and advertising of medical devices is shared and coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration. On July 23, Dr. J.J. Durrett, director of the Medical Advisory Division of the Federal Trade Commission, wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking them to look into Reich's claims about the health benefits of orgone.[61] The FDA assigned an investigator to the case, who learned that Reich had built 250 accumulators; the FDA concluded that they were dealing with a "fraud of the first magnitude."[62] Sharaf writes that the FDA suspected a sexual racket of some kind; questions were asked about the women associated with orgonomy and "what was done with them."[63]

I would like to plead for my right to investigate natural phenomena without having guns pointed at me. I also ask for the right to be wrong without being hanged for it. — Wilhelm Reich, November 1947[64]

In November, Reich wrote in Conspiracy. An Emotional Chain Reaction: "I would like to plead for my right to investigate natural phenomena without having guns pointed at me. I also ask for the right to be wrong without being hanged for it ... I am angry because smearing can do anything and truth can do so little to prevail, as it seems at the moment."[65] Sharaf writes that Reich came to believe that Brady was a Stalinist acting under orders from the Communist Party, a "communist sniper," as Reich called her.[66]

1954 injunction

Over the years, the FDA interviewed physicians, Reich's students, and his patients, asking about Reich's use of orgone accumulators. On July 29, 1952, an unannounced inspection was conducted at Orgonon. One inspector was a regular FDA inspector, another an FDA medical expert, and a third an FDA device expert. Reich was known to abhor unannounced visitors; he had once chased some people away with a gun just for looking at an adjacent property. He shouted at the FDA men, told them they had to read his writings before he would interact with them, and ordered them to leave.[67]

The visit began a period of investigation by the FDA, triggering belligerent responses from Reich, who called them "higs," hoodlums in government, and the tools of red fascists. He developed a delusion that he had powerful friends in government, including President Eisenhower, who he believed would protect him, and that the U.S. Air Force was flying over Orgonon to make sure that he was all right.[67]

On February 10, 1954, the U.S. Attorney for Maine filed a complaint seeking a permanent injunction under Sections 301 and 302 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, to prevent interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and to ban some of Reich's writing promoting and advertising the devices.[68] Reich refused to appear in court, arguing that no court was in a position to evaluate his work. In a long letter to Judge Clifford, he wrote:

My factual position in the case as well as in the world of science of today does not permit me to enter the case against the Food and Drug Administration, since such action would, in my mind, imply admission of the authority of this special branch of the government to pass judgment on primordial, pre-atomic cosmic orgone energy. I, therefore, rest the case in full confidence in your hands.[69]

Maine was granted the injunction by default on March 19, 1954.[70] His ruling was more extensive that the original complaint. He ordered that all accumulators and their parts were to be destroyed. All written material of promotional information and instructions for use (labeling) on the accumulators was also to be destroyed. This included ten of Reich's books that mentioned orgone energy, until such time as references to orgone were deleted; the list included Character Analysis and The Mass Psychology of Fascism.[71]

May 1956: Trial

In May 1956, Reich traveled to Arizona to experiment with the cloudbuster. In his absence, and without his knowledge, one of his students, Dr. Michael Silvert,[72] moved some accumulators and books from Rangeley, Maine to New York, in violation of the injunction.[20] Reich and Silvert were both charged with contempt of court. Once again, he refused to arrange a legal defense. He was brought in chains to the courthouse in Portland, Maine. Representing himself, he admitted to the violation and, in his defense, arranged for the judge to be sent copies of his books. He was found guilty of contempt of court on May 7, 1956, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Silvert was sentenced to a year and a day. The Wilhelm Reich Foundation, which Reich's students and friends had set up in 1949, was fined $10,000.[20]

Dr. Morton Herskowitz, a fellow psychiatrist and friend of Reich's, wrote of the trial: "Because he viewed himself as a historical figure, he was making a historical point, and to make that point he had conducted the trial that way. If I had been in his shoes, I would have wanted to escape jail, I would have wanted to be free, etc. I would have conducted the trial on a strictly legal basis because the lawyers had said, 'We can win this case for you. Their case is so weak, so when you let us do our thing we can get you off.' But he wouldn't do it."[73] Reich appealed in October 1956, but the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision on December 11. He appealed to the Supreme Court, which decided on February 25, 1957 not to review the lower courts' decisions. Reich and Silvert then asked for a suspension or reduction of their sentences; a hearing was set for March 11, to be followed by jail if the request did not succeed. The judge later wrote to the U.S. Board of Parole that he had been inclined to suspend or reduce the sentence, but the government established that Reich would not discontinue promoting the orgone accumulator. Reich then appealed to the President, to no avail.[74]

1957: Book burning

On June 5, 1956, as Reich was arranging his first appeal, two FDA officials traveled to Orgonon to supervise the destruction of Reich's accumulators. Most of them had been sold at that point, and another 50 were with Silvert in New York. Only three were at Orgonon. The FDA agents were not allowed to destroy them, only to supervise the destruction, so Reich's friends, and his son Peter, chopped them up with axes as the agents watched. On June 26, the agents returned to supervise the destruction of the promotional material, including some of his books. On July 9, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a press release criticizing the book burning, although coverage of the release was poor, and Reich ended up asking them not to help him because he was annoyed that they failed to criticize the destruction of the accumulators. In England, a letter of protest signed by A.S. Neill and Herbert Read also failed to find a publisher. On July 23, the remaining accumulators in New York were destroyed by S.A. Collins and Sons, who had built them.[75]

On August 23, six tons of his books, journals, and papers were burned in the 25th Street public incinerator in New York's lower east side, the Gansevoort incinerator.[citation needed] Among the material destroyed were titles that were supposed only to be banned, including 12,189 copies of the Orgone Energy Bulletin, 6,261 copies of the International Journal of Sex Economy and Orgone Research, 2,900 copies of Emotional Plague Versus Orgone Biophysics, 2,976 copies of Annals of the Orgone Institute, and hardcover copies of several of his books, including The Sexual Revolution, Character Analysis, and The Mass Psychology of Fascism.[20] This action has been cited as of the worst examples of censorship in U.S. history.[2]

As with the accumulators, the FDA was supposed only to observe the destruction, while his colleagues carried it out. One of them, Victor Sobey, wrote: "All the expenses and labor had to be provided by the [Orgone Institute] Press. A huge truck with three to help was hired. I felt like people who, when they are to be executed, are made to dig their own graves first and are then shot and thrown in. We carried box after box of the literature."[76]

1957: Imprisonment and death

On February 10, 1957, Reich signed his last will, naming his daughter, Eva, as his executrix[77] On March 12, he was sent to Danbury Federal Prison, where Richard C. Hubbard, a psychiatrist who admired Reich, examined him, recording paranoia manifested by delusions of grandiosity, persecution, and ideas of reference:

The patient feels that he has made outstanding discoveries. Gradually over a period of many years he has explained the failure of his ideas in becoming universally accepted by the elaboration of psychotic thinking. "The Rockerfellows (sic) are against me." (Delusion of grandiosity.) "The airplanes flying over prison are sent by the Air Force to encourage me." (Ideas of reference and grandiosity.)[78]

On March 22, he was transferred to the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where there were better psychiatric facilities, and was examined again. This time, it was decided that he was mentally competent, and that his personality appeared intact, though he might become psychotic under stress.[78] Two days later, on his 60th birthday, he wrote to his son, Peter, then 13:

I am in Lewisburg. I am calm, certain in my thoughts, and doing mathematics most of the time. I am kind of "above things," fully aware of what is up. Do not worry too much about me, though anything might happen. I know, Pete, that you are strong and decent. At first I thought that you should not visit me here. I do not know. With the world in turmoil I now feel that a boy your age should experience what is coming his way—fully digest it without getting a "belly ache," so to speak, nor getting off the right track of truth, fact, honesty, fair play, and being above board—never a sneak. ...[79]

Peter did visit him at Lewisburg several times. Reich told him that he cried a lot, and wanted Peter to let himself cry too, believing that tears are the "great softener." His last letter to his son was on October 22, when he said he was in good spirits, and looking forward to being released on November 10, when he would have served one third of his sentence; a parole hearing had been scheduled for just a few days before. He wrote that he and Peter had a date for a meal at the Howard Johnson restaurant near Peter's school.[8]

Reich failed to appear for morning roll call on November 3, and was found dead in his bed at 7 a.m., fully clothed but for his shoes. The prison physician said he had died during the night of "myocardial insufficiency with sudden heart failure."[8] He was buried in a plot of land he had chosen in the woods at Orgonon, in a coffin he had bought a year earlier from a Maine craftsman. He had left instructions that there was to be no religious ceremony, but that a record should be played of Schubert's "Ave Maria" sung by Marian Anderson, and that his granite headstone should read simply: "Wilhelm Reich, Born March 24, 1897, Died ..." Dr. Elsworth F. Baker, a physician friend, said at his funeral, "Once in a thousand years, nay once in two thousand years, such a man comes upon this earth to change the destiny of the human race. As with all great men, distortion, falsehood, and persecution followed him. He met them all, until organized conspiracy sent him to prison and then killed him."[80] A replica of a cloudbuster stands next to his grave, and the building that housed his laboratory is now the Wilhelm Reich Museum.

None of the psychiatric and established scientific journal carried an obituary. Time Magazine wrote on November 18:

Died. Wilhelm Reich, 60, once-famed psychoanalyst, associate and follower of Sigmund Freud, founder of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation, lately better known for unorthodox sex and energy theories; of a heart attack; in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, Pa; where he was serving a two-year term for distributing his invention, the "orgone energy accumulator" (in violation of the Food and Drug Act), a telephone-booth-size device which supposedly gathered energy from the atmosphere, and could cure, while the patient sat inside, common colds, cancer and impotence.[81]

Legacy

Status of his work

The study of Reich's work has been hampered by the instruction he left that his unpublished papers were to be stored for 50 years after his death, "to secure their safety from destruction and falsification ...," which has meant that researchers, even scholars, were not able to access them until 2007.[82]

New research journals devoted to his work began to appear in the 1960s. Physicians and natural scientists with an interest in Reich organized small study groups and institutes, and new research efforts were undertaken, though the mainstream scientific community remains largely uninterested in his ideas. William Steig, Robert Anton Wilson, Norman Mailer, William S. Burroughs, Jerome D. Salinger and Orson Bean have all undergone Reich's orgone therapy and there is some use of orgone accumulators by psychotherapists in Europe, particularly in Germany.[83] A double-blind, controlled study of the effects of the orgone accumulator was carried out by Stefan Müschenich and Rainer Gebauer at the University of Marburg and appeared to validate some of Reich's claims.[84] The study was later reproduced by Günter Hebenstreit at the University of Vienna.[85]

Reich's influence is felt in modern psychotherapy. He was a pioneer of body psychotherapy and several emotions-based psychotherapies, influencing Fritz Perls's Gestalt therapy and Arthur Janov's primal therapy. His pupil Alexander Lowen, the founder of bioenergetic analysis, and Charles Kelley, the founder of Radix therapy, ensure that his research receives widespread attention. Many practising psychoanalysts give credence to his theory of character, as outlined in Character Analysis (1933, enlarged 1949). The American College of Orgonomy,[86] founded by Dr. Elsworth Baker, and the Institute for Orgonomic Science,[87] led by Dr. Morton Herskowitz, still use Reich's original therapeutic methods.

Nearly all his publications have been reprinted, apart from his research journals which are available as photocopies from the Wilhelm Reich Museum. The first editions are not available: Reich continuously amended his books throughout his life, and the owners of Reich's copyright will only allow the latest revised versions to be reprinted. In the late 1960s, Farrar, Straus & Giroux republished all his major works.[88]

In popular culture

The cover of "Cloudbusting" by Kate Bush, released in October 1985. In the video accompanying the single, Donald Sutherland plays Reich.

Reich continues to influence popular culture, with references to orgone and cloudbusting found in songs by Clutch, Hawkwind, Pop Will Eat Itself, Turbonegro, Bob Dylan, and Patti Smith ("Birdland" on Horses).

  • Kate Bush's song "Cloudbusting" describes Reich's arrest and incarceration through the eyes of Reich's son, Peter, who wrote his father's story in A Book of Dreams, published in 1973. The video for the song was directed by Julian Doyle, conceived by Terry Gilliam and Bush, and has Donald Sutherland as Reich, and Bush as Peter.[89]
  • An article about the female orgasm by Reich provided the inspiration for "Little Man Within" by Welsh singer/songwriter Karl Wallinger of World Party.
  • Author Robert Anton Wilson wrote a play, Wilhelm Reich in Hell, partly based on Reich's life; it was also published as a book in 1987. Wilson frequently referred to Reich and Reich's works in both his fiction and non-fiction. Notably, one character in Wilson's Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy is a witness to the 1957 book-burning.
  • Reich's work is described in Italian writer Valerio Evangelisti's The mystery of Inquisitor Eymerich, in which Reich is described as a visionary whose ideas were ahead of his time.
  • A film about his teachings called W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism was made in 1971 by Yugoslavian director Dušan Makavejev, and was listed by film critic Roger Ebert in his "Great Movie" series in 2007.
  • A short drama film about Reich by Jon East, called "It can be done," was nominated for a Silver Lion at the 1999 Venice Film Festival.
  • The superhero "Orgone Lad", a member of the League of Infinity is Wilhelm Reich, Supreme by Alan Moore(2000).
  • "He did ten years in Attica, reading Nietzsche and Wilhelm Reich"—from the song "Joey" on the album Desire by Bob Dylan.
  • In Jack Kerouac's autobiographical novel On the Road, written in 1951, Old Bull Lee (modelled on William Burroughs) extols the benefits of the orgone accumulator he owns and considers how it may be improved by building it from "more organic" wood. Burroughs makes several references to Orgone energy in his own novels and essays.
  • The final episode of series 5 of British TV series Peep Show featured two main characters becoming enamoured of a religious cult that expounded Reich's orgone theory.
  • Reich is the subject, along with real estate developer Del Webb, of the 2008 documentary Wasteland Utopias by filmmaker David Sherman.
  • The Australian product designer Marc Newson has produced several 'Orgone' items of furniture, most famously his 'Orgone Chair.'
  • The American indy band Volcano Suns released a live record called "Live at Orgonon" in 1985.

Works

German-language books
  • Der triebhafte Charakter : Eine psychoanalytische Studie zur Pathologie des Ich, 1925
  • Die Funktion des Orgasmus : Zur Psychopathologie und zur Soziologie des Geschlechtslebens, 1927
  • Dialektischer Materialismus und Psychoanalyse, 1929
  • Geschlechtsreife, Enthaltsamkeit, Ehemoral : Eine Kritik der bürgerlichen Sexualreform, 1930
  • Der Einbruch der Sexualmoral : Zur Geschichte der sexuellen Ökonomie, 1932
  • Charakteranalyse : Technik und Grundlagen für studierende und praktizierende Analytiker, 1933
  • Massenpsychologie des Faschismus, 1933 (original Marxist edition, banned by the Nazis and the Communists)
  • Was ist Klassenbewußtsein? : Über die Neuformierung der Arbeiterbewegung, 1934
  • Psychischer Kontakt und vegetative Strömung, 1935
  • Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf : Zur sozialistischen Umstrukturierung des Menschen, 1936
  • Die Bione : Zur Entstehung des vegetativen Lebens, 1938
English-language books
  • American Odyssey: Letters and Journals 1940-1947 (posthumous)
  • Beyond Psychology: Letters and Journals 1934-1939 (posthumous)
  • The Bioelectrical Investigation of Sexuality and Anxiety
  • The Bion Experiments: On the Origins of Life
  • The Function of the Orgasm, 1942, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe
  • The Cancer Biopathy (1948)
  • Character Analysis (translation of the enlarged version of Charakteranalyse from 1933, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
  • Children of the Future: On the Prevention of Sexual Pathology
  • Contact With Space: Oranur Second Report (1957)
  • Cosmic Superimposition: Man's Orgonotic Roots in Nature (1951)
  • "Concerning Specific Forms of Masturbation" (essay)
  • Ether, God and Devil (1949)
  • Genitality in the Theory and Therapy of Neuroses (translation of the original, unrevised version of Die Funktion des Orgasmus from 1927)
  • The Invasion of Compulsory Sex-Morality (translation of the revised and enlarged version of Der Eindruch der Sexualmoral from 1932)
  • Listen, Little Man! (1948, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
  • The Mass Psychology of Fascism (translation of the revised and enlarged version of Massenpsychologie des Faschismus from 1933, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
  • The Murder of Christ (1953)
  • The Oranur Experiment
  • The Orgone Energy Accumulator, Its Scientific and Medical Use (1948)
  • Passion of Youth: An Autobiography, 1897-1922 (posthumous)
  • People in Trouble (1953)
  • Record of a Friendship: The Correspondence of Wilhelm Reich and A.S. Neill (1936-1957)
  • Reich Speaks of Freud (Interview by Kurt R. Eissler, letters, documents)
  • Selected Writings: An Introduction to Orgonomy
  • Sexpol. Essays 1929-1934 (ed. Lee Baxandall)
  • The Sexual Revolution (translation of Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf from 1936, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
  • The Einstein Affair (1953)

Notes

  1. ^ Sheppard, R.Z. A family affair, Time, May 14, 1973.
  2. ^ a b c "Wilhelm Reich," Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved July 26, 2009.
  3. ^ Sharaf, Myron (1994). Fury on Earth: A Biography of Wilhelm Reich. Da Capo Press, pp. 4–5.
  4. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 4, 8; see also Obituary notice for Wilhelm Reich, Time Magazine, November 18, 1957.
  5. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, p. 170.
  6. ^ Fredric Wertham, Calling all Couriers, The New Republic, Dec 2, 1946, a review of The Mass Psychology of Fascism; Brady, Mildred Edie. The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich, The New Republic, May 26, 1947; Brady, Mildred Edie. The New Cult of Sex and Anarchy, Harper's, April 1947; also see "The New Coast of Bohemia" (editorial), Saturday Review of Literature, August 16, 1947, and Henderson, Harry and Shaw, Sam. "Greenwich Village: Tourist Trap," Collier's, December 6, 1947.
  7. ^ 50 years ago in 1956: the burning of Reich's publications, The Wilhelm Reich Museum, June 2006. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  8. ^ a b c Sharaf 1994, p. 477.
  9. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, p. 39.
  10. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 463.
  11. ^ Reich, Wilhelm. "Background and scientific development of Wilhelm Reich," Orgone Energy Bulletin V, 1953, p. 6, cited in Sharaf 1994, p. 40 and p. 488, footnote 10.
  12. ^ Reich , Wilhelm. Passion of Youth, Paragon House, New York, 1990, p. 25; also see Sharaf, p. 49.
  13. ^ Reich, Wilhelm. "Über einen Fall von Durchbruch der Inzestschranke in der Pubertät," Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, VII, 1920, 222-223, cited in and translated by Sharaf 1994, p. 43 and p. 448, footnote 12.
  14. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 42–46.
  15. ^ In his book Passion of Youth (p. 36-37) Reich says that his mother died by the end of September 1910. She took an unknown poison on a Monday, which corresponds to September 26. Based on his further comments one easily concludes that she died three days later, in September 29, 1910, at 2.00 a.m. Her first suicide attempt, with ingestion of Lysol (the afore mentioned household cleaner) had occurred in January 1910, the same evening Leon Reich came to know about the adultery (Reich, idem, p. 31).
  16. ^ Reich, Wilhelm. Über einen Fall von Durchbruch der Inzestschranke in der Pubertät, op cit, cited in Sharaf 1994, p. 47 and p. 489, footnote 21.
  17. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, p. 48.
  18. ^ a b Blumenfeld, Robert. Tools and techniques for character interpretation. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006, p. 135.
  19. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 58.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h Biography, The Wilhelm Reich Museum. Retrieved August 14, 2006.
  21. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 108–109.
  22. ^ Biographical notes on his family: Annie Pink, born April 2, 1902, Vienna, died January 5, 1971, New York. Eva Reich became a doctor and applied orgonomical techniques to the care of newborns. Lore Reich Rubin became a doctor and psychoanalyst.
  23. ^ According to his daughter Lore Reich, Anna Freud and Ernest Jones were behind the expulsion.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Brady, Mildred. The Strange case of Wilhelm Reich", The New Republic, May 26, 1947, cited in Sharaf 1994, p. 360. "In this state of outer rigidity (expressed in muscular tensions) and inner anxiety he becomes “sadistic, “ “masochistic,” “anti-Semitic, “ “fascistic, “ “reactionary,” “hateful,” “submissive,” “authoritarian,” “greedy,” “power-motivated” and “perverse.”"
  25. ^ a b c Cantwell, Alan. Dr. Wilhelm Reich", New Dawn Magazine, 2004. Retrieved December 3, 2007.
  26. ^ D'Aloia, Alessandro. "Marxism and Psychoanalysis: Notes on Wilhelm Reich’s Life and Works", Marxist.com. Retrieved August 14, 2006.
  27. ^ a b c Sharaf 1994, p. 228.
  28. ^ Reich, Wilhelm. Beyond Psychology: Letters and Journals 1934-1939. Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1994, p. 66
  29. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 234–235, 242.
  30. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 242.
  31. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 234–235.
  32. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 238–241, 243.
  33. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 230–233.
  34. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 233.
  35. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 245–246.
  36. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 253.
  37. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 255.
  38. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 254.
  39. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 257–259.
  40. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 263.
  41. ^ Sharaf 1944, pp. 264–265.
  42. ^ Elkind, David. "Wilhelm Reich -- The Psychoanalyst as Revolutionary; Wilhelm Reich", The New York Times, April 18, 1971. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
  43. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 274.
  44. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 8.
  45. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 352.
  46. ^ Reich, Wilhelm. Murder of Christ. Orgone Institute Press 1953, p. 41.
  47. ^ Klee, Gerald D. "What ever happened to orgone therapy?", The Maryland Psychiatric Society, Summer 2001; Vol. 28, No. 1; Pg 13-15, retrieved August 14, 2006; Grossinger, Richard. Planet Medicine: From Stone Age Shamanism to Post-industrial Healing, Taylor & Francis, 1982, p. 293.
  48. ^ Reich, Wilhelm. The Cancer Biopathy, chapter II, section 6. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (January 1, 1974).
  49. ^ Reich, Wilhelm. Ether, God & Devil & Cosmic Superimposition, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (January 1, 1972)
  50. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 379–380.
  51. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 285.
  52. ^ Brian, Denis (1996). Einstein: A Life. John Wiley & Sons, p. 326.
  53. ^ "I have now investigated your apparatus ... In the beginning I made enough readings without any changes in your arrangements. The box-thermometer showed regularly a temperature of about 0.3-0.4 higher than the one suspended freely," Einstein's letter to Reich, February 7, 1941, English translation, in The Einstein Affair, Orgone Institute Press, 1953
  54. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, p. 286.
  55. ^ "One of my assistants now drew my attention to the fact that in the room ... the temperature on the floor is always lower than the one on the ceiling," Einstein to Reich, February 7, 1941, op.cit.
  56. ^ "Through these experiments I regard the matter as completely solved," Einstein to Reich, February 7, 1941, op.cit.
  57. ^ "Ich hoffe, dass dies ihre Skepsis entwickeln wird, dass Sie sich nicht durch eine an sich verständliche Illusion trügen lassen," ("I hope that this will sharpen your skepticism so that you're not taken in by one of these understandable illusions"), Einstein to Reich, February 7, 1941, op.cit.
  58. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 288.
  59. ^ "FBI adds new subjects to electronic reading room", U.S. State Department, March 2, 2000.
  60. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 361.
  61. ^ FDA file on Reich, cited in Sharaf 1994, p. 363 and footnote 6, p. 513.
  62. ^ FDA file on Reich, cited in Sharaf 1994, p. 364 and footnote 11, p. 513.
  63. ^ Greenfield, Jerome. Wilhelm Reich Vs. the U.S.A.. W.W. Norton, 1974, p. 69, cited in Sharaf 1994, p. 364 and footnote 13, p. 513.
  64. ^ Reich, Wilhelm. Conspiracy. An Emotional Chain Reaction, item 386A, cited in Sharaf 1994, p. 367 and footnote 14, p. 513.
  65. ^ Reich, Wilhelm. Conspiracy. An Emotional Chain Reaction, item 386A, cited in Sharaf 1994, p. 367 and footnote 14, p. 513.
  66. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 367.
  67. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 410–413.
  68. ^ Complaint for injunction by FDA, Feb 10, 1954, part1, USA vs WILHELM REICH 1954-1957.
  69. ^ "Wilhelm Reich's Response to FDA's Complaint for Injunction", February 25, 1954, posted on orgone.org.
  70. ^ DECREE OF INJUNCTION ORDER (USA vs Wilhelm Reich) by JUDGE CLIFFORD MARCH 19, 1954 - USA vs WILHELM REICH 1954-1957
  71. ^ Wilhelm Reich: Man's Right to Know, Wilhelm Reich Museum. Retrieved July 27, 2009.
  72. ^ Michael Silvert (1906-1958), born Meyer Silverzweig in Poland. He was arrested with Reich and committed suicide in 1958 when he was released from prison.[1]
  73. ^ Herskowitz, Morton. The Trial, The Institute for Orgonomic Science. Retrieved July 26, 2009.
  74. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 458, 465, 466, 473.
  75. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 458–461.
  76. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 461.
  77. ^ There is some discrepancy between the sources on this. Myron Sharaf writes that Reich signed his last will on February 10, 1957, naming his daughter Eva as executrix, which meant she controlled the publication and republication of his work. The Wilhelm Reich Museum writes that his last will was on March 8, 1957, naming the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust Fund as the entity charged with running Orgonon as the Wilhelm Reich Museum, transmitting his legacy, and housing his archives. See Sharaf 1994, p. 465 and Biography, The Wilhelm Reich Museum. Retrieved August 14, 2006.
  78. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 469–470.
  79. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 476.
  80. ^ Sharaf 1994. p. 5.
  81. ^ Obituary notice for Wilhelm Reich, Time Magazine, November 18, 1957.
  82. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 6.
  83. ^ For example: Kavouras, Jorgos: Heilen mit Orgonenergie: Die Medizinische Orgonomie, Turm Verlag, Bietigheim, Germany, 2005; Lassek, Heiko. Orgon-Therapie: Heilen mit der reinen Lebensenergie, Scherz Verlag, 1997, München, Germany; Müschenich, Stefan: Der Gesundheitsbegriff im Werk des Arztes Wilhelm Reich (The Concept of Health in the Works of Wilhelm Reich, MD), med. Diss., Marburg, Görich & Weiershauser, 1995.
  84. ^ Müschenich, Stefan & Gebauer, Rainer: Der Reich'sche Orgonakkumulator. Naturwissenschaftliche Diskussion, praktische Anwendung, experimentelle Untersuchung. Frankfurt/Main: Nexus-Verlag 1987
  85. ^ Hebenstreit, Günter: Der Orgonakkumulator nach Wilhelm Reich. Eine experimentelle Untersuchung zur Spannungs-Ladungs-Formel. Univ. Wien, Dipl.-Arbeit, 1995
  86. ^ The American College of Orgonomy
  87. ^ Institute for Orgonomic Science
  88. ^ A good overview of Reich's work is Wilhelm Reich: The evolution of his work by David Boadella. A bibliography on orgonomy gives full citations to university dissertations, and to controlled experiments replicating Reich's work on bions, the orgone accumulator, and the cloudbuster.
  89. ^ "Cloudbusting", YouTube. Retrieved July 26, 2009.

Further reading

The Einstein experiments

  • The Einstein Affair, Orgone Institute Press, 1953.
  • Aspden, H. (2001). "Gravity and its thermal anomaly: was the Reich-Einstein experiment evidence of energy inflow from the aether?," Infinite Energy, 41:61.
  • Bearden, T. (2002). "Energy from the vacuum," Cheniere Press, pp. 333–337.
  • Brian, Denis (1996). Einstein: A Life, John Wiley & Sons. Reich is discussed on pp. 325-327, 382, 399.
  • Clark, Ronald W. (1971). Einstein: The Life and Times, Avon. Reich is on pp. 689–690 of the paperback edition.
  • Correa, P and Correa, A. (1998, 2001). "The thermal anomaly in ORACs and the Reich-Einstein experiment: implications for blackbody theory," Akronos Publishing.
  • Correa P and Correa A. (2001). "The reproducible thermal anomaly of the Reich-Einstein experiment under limit conditions," Infinite Energy, 37:12.
  • Mallove, E. (2001). "Breaking Through: A Bombshell in Science," Infinite Energy, 37:6.
  • Mallove, E. (2001). "Breaking Through: Aether Science and Technology," Infinite Energy, 39:6.

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Love, work and knowledge are the well-springs of our life. They should also govern it.

Wilhelm Reich (24 March 1897 - 3 November 1957) was an Austrian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He became a controversial social theorist and researcher, who believed that he had discovered a "vital energy" which he called "Orgone energy". He died while in a U.S federal prison on a two year sentence for failing to comply with court orders prohibiting some of his activities, just days before he would have been eligible for parole.

Contents

Sourced

Most intellectual people do not believe in God, but they fear him just the same.
  • Liebe, Arbeit und Wissen sind die Quellen unseres Lebens. Sie sollen es auch regieren.
    • Love, work and knowledge are the well-springs of our life. They should also govern it.
    • His personal motto, the English translation used at least as early as The Function of the Orgasm (1948), a translation of Die Funktion des Orgasmus (1927).
  • It is sexual energy which governs the structure of human feeling and thinking.
    • Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf [The Sexual Revolution] (1936)
I am well aware of the fact that the human race has known about the existence of a universal energy related to life for many ages. However, the basic task of natural science consisted of making this energy usable.
  • Unless we proceed cautiously, there might well arise a few generations of mystics who conceive of the orgone metaphysically, divorced from non-living nature and who do not comprehend it from the standpoint of natural science. And it seems to me that we have more than enough mysticism as it is.
    • Orgonotic Pulsation in International Journal of Sex-Economy and Orgone-Research, Vol. 3, No. 1, (March, 1944); Reich throughout his writings seem to use the word "mysticism" in a sense strongly related to claims of "mystical authority over others" and on the impositions made by such faith, rather than in its more common use as a word denoting a respect for "mystical insight apart from others" without necessarily any claim to authority over them.
  • The discovery of orgone energy was made through consistent, thorough study of energy functions, first in the realm of the psyche, and later in the realm of biological functioning.
    • Ether, God and Devil (1949)
  • Rooting in work is crucial to any accomplishment. Rooting in mere enthusiasm will in the long run force illusory measures to keep the fires of empty enthusiasm going. And this makes politics and politicians.
    • Writings (19 April 1951)
  • Most intellectual people do not believe in God, but they fear him just the same.
    • As quoted in Philosophy : An Introduction to the Art of Wondering (2005) by James Lee Christian, p. 556
  • I am well aware of the fact that the human race has known about the existence of a universal energy related to life for many ages. However, the basic task of natural science consisted of making this energy usable. This is the sole difference between my work and all preceding knowledge.

The Function of the Orgasm (1927)

Die Funktion des Orgasmus : zur Psychopathologie und zur Soziologie des Geschlechtslebens (1927)
Psychic illnesses are the result of a disturbance of the natural capacity for love.
The vital energies regulate themselves naturally without compulsive duty or compulsive morality — both of which are sure signs of existing antisocial impulses.
The unity and congruity of culture and nature, work and love, morality and sexuality, longed for from time immemorial, will remain a dream as long as man continues to condemn the biological demand for natural (orgastic) sexual gratification.
Only the liberation of the natural capacity for love in human beings can master their sadistic destructiveness.
  • Psychic health depends on orgastic potency, i.e., upon the degree to which one can surrender to and experience the climax of excitation in the natural sexual act. It is founded upon the healthy character attitude of the individual's capacity for love. Psychic illnesses are the result of a disturbance of the natural capacity for love.
    • General Survey
  • Psychic disturbances are the consequences of the sexual chaos of society. For thousands of years, this chaos has had the function of psychically subjecting man to the prevailing conditions of existence, of internalizing the external mechanization of life. It has served to bring about the psychic anchoring of a mechanized and authoritarian civilization by making man incapable of functioning independently.
    • General Survey
  • The vital energies regulate themselves naturally without compulsive duty or compulsive morality — both of which are sure signs of existing antisocial impulses.
    • General Survey
  • The character structure of modern man, who reproduces a six-thousand-year-old patriarchal authoritarian culture is typified by characterological armoring against his inner nature and against the social misery which surrounds him. This characterolgical armoring of the character is the basis of isolation, indigence, craving for authority, fear of responsibility, mystic longing, sexual misery, and neurotically impotent rebelliousness.
    • General Survey
  • Nature and culture, instinct and morality, sexuality and achievement become incompatible as a result of the split in the human structure. The unity and congruity of culture and nature, work and love, morality and sexuality, longed for from time immemorial, will remain a dream as long as man continues to condemn the biological demand for natural (orgastic) sexual gratification.
    • General Survey
  • A living creature develops a destructive impulse when it wants to destroy a source of danger. In this case, the destruction or killing of the object is the biologically purposeful goal. The original motive is not pleasure in destruction. Rather the destruction serves the "life instinct"...and is an attempt to avoid anxiety and to preserve the ego in its totality. I destroy in a dangerous situation because I want to live and do not want to have any anxiety. In short, the impulse to destroy serves a primary biological will to live...
    • Ch. V : The Development of the Character-Analytic Technique
  • Every seemingly arbitrary destructive action is a reaction of the organism to the frustration of a gratification of a vital need, especially of a sexual need.
    • Ch. V : The Development of the Character-Analytic Technique
  • Sexual anxiety is caused by the external frustration of instinctual gratification and is internally anchored by the fear of the dammed-up sexual excitation. This leads to orgasm anxiety, which is the ego's fear of the over-powering excitation of the genital system due to its estrangement from the experience of pleasure. Orgasm anxiety constitutes the core of the universal, biologically anchored pleasure anxiety. It is usually expressed as a general anxiety about every form of vegetative sensation and excitation, or the perception of such excitation and sensations. The pleasure of living and the pleasure of the orgasm are identical. Extreme orgasm anxiety forms the basis of the general fear of life.
    • Ch. V : The Development of the Character-Analytic Technique
  • Only the liberation of the natural capacity for love in human beings can master their sadistic destructiveness.
    • Ch. V : The Development of the Character-Analytic Technique
— Not yet placed by chapter —
  • Scientific theory is a contrived foothold in the chaos of living phenomena.
  • Honest pioneer work in the field of science has always been, and will continue to be, life's pilot. On all sides, life is surrounded by hostility. This puts us under an obligation.

The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933)

Massenpsychologie des Faschismus (1933), first translated into English in 1946
To be radical, according to Marx, means "going to the root of things." If one goes to the root of things, if one understands their contradictory character, the means of mastering the reaction become plain.
  • In its pure form, fascism is the sum total of all irrational reactions of the average human character. To the narrow-minded sociologist who lacks the courage to recognize the enormous role played by the irrational in human history, the fascist race theory appears as nothing but an imperialistic interest or even a mere "prejudice." The violence and the ubiquity of these "race prejudices" show their origin from the irrational part of the human character. The race theory is not a creation of fascism. No: fascism is a creation of race hatred and its politically organized expression. Correspondingly, there is a German, Italian, Spanish, Anglo-Saxon, Jewish and Arabian fascism.
    • Preface to the Third Edition (August 1945)
  • The elimination of individual capitalists and the replacement of private capitalism by state capitalism in Russia has not in the least altered the typical helpless and authoritarian character structure of the masses of people.
    • Preface to the Third Edition (August 1945)
The suppression of natural sexual gratification leads to various kinds of substitute gratifications.
  • It is obvious that the fascist mass pestilence, with its background of thousands of years, cannot be mastered with social measures corresponding to the past three hundred years.
    The discovery of the natural biological work democracy in international human intercourse is the answer to fascism. This will be no less true even if not one of the living sex-economists, orgone biophysicists or work democrats should live to see its general functioning and its victory over the irrationalism in social life.
    • Preface to the Third Edition (August 1945)
  • Revolutionary practice in any field of human existence develops by itself if one comprehends the contradictions in every new process; it consists in siding with those forces which act in the direction of progressive development. To be radical, according to Marx, means "going to the root of things." If one goes to the root of things, if one understands their contradictory character, the means of mastering the reaction become plain.
    • Ch. 1 : Ideology As Material Power, Section 1 : The Divergence Of Ideology And Economic Situation
  • The suppression of natural sexual gratification leads to various kinds of substitute gratifications. Natural aggression, for example, becomes brutal sadism which then is an essential mass-psychological factor in imperialistic wars.
    • Ch. 1 : Ideology As Material Power, Section 4 : The Social Function of Sexual Suppression
  • If the psychic energies of the average mass of people watching a football game or a musical comedy could be diverted into the rational channels of a freedom movement, they would be invincible.
    • Ch. 1 : Ideology As Material Power, Section 4 : The Social Function of Sexual Suppression
Natural work democracy is politically neither "left" nor "right." It embraces anyone who does vital work; for this reason, its orientation is only and alone forward.

Ch. 10 : Work Democracy

In this chapter which is rather anarchistic in nature, Reich expands on ideas of all political parties as both creatures and perpetrators of oppression, which were presented in a pamphlet Die natürliche Organisation der Arbeit in der Arbeitsdemokratie [The natural organization of work in a working democracy] (1937), published anonymously, of which he states:
Two things seemed to stick in the memory of those who had read it and seemed to appear again and again in their conversations and discussions. One was the word "work democracy." The other was two sentences. They sound out-of-the-world, Utopian and basically hopeless: "Put an end to all politics! Turn to the practical tasks of real life!"
  • Natural work democracy is politically neither "left" nor "right." It embraces anyone who does vital work; for this reason, its orientation is only and alone forward. It has no inherent intention of being against ideologies, including political ideologies. On the other hand, if it is to function, it will be forced to take a firm stand, on a factual basis, against any ideology or political party which puts irrational obstacles in its path. Yet, basically, work democracy is not "against," as is the rule with politics, but "for"; for the formulation and solution of concrete tasks.
    • Section 1 : Give Responsibility to Vitally Necessary Work!
What is new in work democracy is: that for the first time in the history of sociology, a possible future regulation of human society is derived not from ideologies or conditions that must be created, but from natural processes that have been present and have been developing from the very beginning.
  • What is new in work democracy is: that for the first time in the history of sociology, a possible future regulation of human society is derived not from ideologies or conditions that must be created, but from natural processes that have been present and have been developing from the very beginning. Work-democratic "politics" is distinguished by the fact that it rejects all politics and demagogism. Masses of working men and women will not be relieved of their social responsibility. They will be burdened with it. Work-democrats have no ambition to be political führers, nor will they ever be permitted to develop such an ambition...
    • Section 1 : Give Responsibility to Vitally Necessary Work!
    • Variant translation: What is new in work democracy is: that for the first time in the history of sociology a possible future order of human society is deduced not from ideologies or from conditions yet to be created, but from processes which are naturally given and which have always been in operation. What is new in it is the renunciation and rejection of any kind of politics and demagogy. New is that, instead of the working masses of people being relieved of social responsibility, they are being burdened with it. Further, that the work democrats have no political ambitions nor are allowed to develop any. Further, that it consciously develops formal democracy — which means merely the voting for ideological representatives without any further responsibility on the part of the voter — into genuine, factual and practical democracy on an international scale; a democracy which is borne, in progressive organic development, by the functions of love, work and knowledge.
  • Work-democracy adds a decisive piece of knowledge to the scope of ideas related to freedom. The masses of people who work and bear the burden of social existence on their shoulders neither are conscious of their social responsibility nor are they capable of assuming the responsibility for their own freedom. This is the result of the century-long suppression of rational thinking, the natural functions of love, and scientific comprehension of the living. Everything related to the emotional plague in social life can be traced back to this incapacity and lack of consciousness. It is work-democracy's contention that, by its very nature, politics is and has to be unscientific, i.e., that it is an expression of human helplessness, poverty, and suppression.
    • Section 1 : Give Responsibility to Vitally Necessary Work!
    • Variant translation: Work democracy introduces into liberal thinking a decisive new insight: the working masses who carry the burden of social existence are not conscious of their social responsibility. Nor are they — as the result of thousands of years of suppression of rational thinking, of the natural love function and of the scientific comprehension of living functioning — capable of the responsibility for their own freedom. Another insight contributed by work democracy is the finding that politics is in itself and of necessity unscientific: it is an expression of human helplessness, impoverishment and suppression.
If "freedom" means, first of all, the responsibility of every individual for the rational determination of his own personal, professional and social existence, then there is no greater fear than that of the establishment of general freedom.
  • Only a work democracy can create the foundation of genuine freedom. Long experience in sociological disputes leads me to expect that a great many people will take offense at the disclosure of this miscalculation. It makes the highest demands on people's will to veracity; it puts a heavy burden on everyday living; it places all social responsibility on those who work, be it in the factory, in the office, on the farm, in the laboratory, or wherever.
    • Section 2 : The Biological Miscalculation in the Human Struggle for Freedom
  • If "freedom" means, first of all, the responsibility of every individual for the rational determination of his own personal, professional and social existence, then there is no greater fear than that of the establishment of general freedom. Without a thoroughgoing solution of this problem there never will be a peace lasting longer than one or two generations. To solve this problem on a social scale, it will take more thinking, more honesty and decency, more conscientiousness, more economic, social and educational changes in social mass living than all the efforts made in previous and future wars and post-war reconstruction programs taken together.
    • Section 2 : The Biological Miscalculation in the Human Struggle for Freedom
The fact that political ideologies are tangible realities is not a proof of their vitally necessary character. The bubonic plague was an extraordinarily powerful social reality, but no one would have regarded it as vitally necessary.
  • In the course of thousands of years of mechanical development, the mechanistic concept, from generation to generation, has anchored itself deeply in man's biological system. In so doing, it actually has altered human functioning in the sense of the machine-like. In the process of killing his genital function, man has become biologically rigid. He has armored himself against that which is natural and spontaneous within him, he has lost contact with the biological function of self-regulation and is filled with a strong fear of that which is alive and free.
    • Section 2 : The Biological Miscalculation in the Human Struggle for Freedom
  • Work democracy does not wish to prevent or prohibit anything. Its only intention is the fulfilment of the biological life functions, of love, work and knowledge.
    • Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague.
  • The fact that political ideologies are tangible realities is not a proof of their vitally necessary character. The bubonic plague was an extraordinarily powerful social reality, but no one would have regarded it as vitally necessary.
    • Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague;
    • Variant translation: The fact that political ideologies are tangible, active realities does not prove their necessity. The bubonic plague was an extremely potent social reality. But nobody would have argued that, because it existed, it was necessary and nothing should be done about it.
  • It is an essential part of our social tragedy that people, like farmers, the industrial workers, the medical profession, etc., influence the social process not only by their work, but also — and even predominantly — by political ideologies. For political activity hampers objective, rational activity; it splits professional organizations into warring ideological groups; it disorganizes the industrial workers: it restricts the work of the physician and harms the patients, etc. In brief, political activity prevents precisely what it pretends to achieve: peace, work, security, international cooperation, objective expression of opinion, freedom of belief, etc.
    • Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague
The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will not cease to ring as long as man feels himself captive.
  • MAN IS FUNDAMENTALLY AN ANIMAL. Animals, as distinct from man, are not machine-like, not sadistic; their societies, within the same species, are incomparably more peaceful than those of man. The basic question, then is: What has made the animal, man, degenerate into a machine?
    When I say "animal," I do not mean anything bad, cruel or "base"; I am stating a biological fact. Man has developed the peculiar concept that he is not an animal at all, but, well — man; a creature which long since has shed that which is "bad," which is "animal." He demarcates himself in all possible ways from the bad animal and points, in proof of his "being better," to culture and civilization which distinguish him from the animal. He shows, in his whole behavior, his "theories of values," his moral philosophies, his "monkey trials" and such, that he does not want to be reminded of the fact that basically he is an animal, an animal, furthermore, which has much more in common with the "animal" than with that being which he asserts to be and dreams of being. The theory of the German Übermensch has this origin. Man shows by his maliciousness, his inability to live in peace with his kind, his wars, that what distinguishes him from the other animals is only his unbounded sadism and the mechanical trinity of the authoritarian concept of life, mechanistic science and the machine. If one looks at the results of civilization as they present themselves over long periods of time, one finds that these contentions of man are not only erroneous; more than that, they seem to be made expressly for the purpose of making man forget that he is an animal.
    • Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague
  • The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will not cease to ring as long as man feels himself captive. As diverse as the cries for freedom may be, basically they all express one and the same thing: The intolerability of the rigidity of the organism and of the machine-like institutions which create a sharp conflict with the natural feelings for life. Not until there is a social order in which all cries for freedom subside will man have overcome his biological and social crippling, will he have attained genuine freedom. Not until man is willing to recognize his animal nature — in the good sense of the word — will he create genuine culture.
    • Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague;
    • Variant translation: The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will never cease as long as man feels himself to be trapped. No matter how different the cries for freedom may be, at bottom they always express one and the same thing: the intolerableness of the organism's rigidity and the mechanical institutions of life, which are sharply at variance with the natural sensations of life. ... Not until man acknowledges that he is fundamentally an animal, will he be able to create a genuine culture.
The responsibility for war falls solely upon the shoulders of these same masses of people, for they have all the necessary means to avert war in their own hands. In part by their apathy, in part by their passivity, and in part actively, these masses of people make possible the catastrophes under which they themselves suffer more than anybody else.
  • Under the influence of politicians, masses of people tend to ascribe the responsibility for wars to those who wield power at any given time. In World War I it was the munitions industrialists; in World War II it was the psychopathic generals who were said to be guilty. This is passing the buck. The responsibility for war falls solely upon the shoulders of these same masses of people, for they have all the necessary means to avert war in their own hands. In part by their apathy, in part by their passivity, and in part actively, these masses of people make possible the catastrophes under which they themselves suffer more than anybody else. To stress this guilt on the part of masses of people, to hold them solely responsible, means to take them seriously. On the other hand, to commiserate masses of people as victims, means to treat them as small, helpless children. The former is the attitude held by genuine freedom-fighters; the latter the attitude held by the power-thirsty politicians.
    • Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague;
    • Variant translation: Under the influence of politicos, the masses blame the powers that be for wars. In the first world war it was the munition magnates, in the second the Psychopath General. This is shifting the responsibility. The blame for the war belongs only and alone to the same masses of people who have all the means of preventing wars. The same masses of people who — partly through indolent passivity, partly through their active behavior — make possible the catastrophes from which they themselves suffer most horribly. To emphasize this fault of the masses, to give them the full responsibility, means taking them seriously. On the other hand, to pity the masses as a poor victim means treating them like a helpless child. The first is the attitude of the genuine fighter for freedom, the latter is the attitude of the politico.
It remains to be seen what part politics will play in the eradication of the political emotional plague and what part the consciously organized functions of love, work and knowledge.
  • Rulers and generals muster their troops. Magnates muster the sums of money which give them power. The fascist dictators muster the irrational human reactions which make it possible for them to attain and maintain their power over the masses. The scientists muster knowledge and means of research. But, thus far, no organization fighting for freedom has ever mustered the biological arsenal where the weapons are to be found for the establishment and the maintenance of human freedom. All precision of our social existence notwithstanding, there is as yet no definition of the word freedom which would be in keeping with natural science. No word is more misused and misunderstood.
    To define freedom is the same as to define sexual health. But nobody will openly admit this. The advocacy of personal and social freedom is connected with anxiety and guilt feelings. As if to be free were a sin or at least not quite as it should be. Sex-economy makes this guilt feeling comprehensible: freedom without sexual self-determination is in itself a contradiction. But to be sexual means — according to the prevailing human structure — to be sinful or guilty. There are very few people who experience sexual love without guilt feeling. "Free love" has acquired a degrading meaning: it lost the meaning given it by the old fighters for freedom. In films and in books, to be genital and to be criminal are presented as the same thing.
    • Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague
  • For a decade, the politics of the European dictators was unrivalled. In order to comprehend the essence of politics, one only has to remember that it was a Hitler who, for many years, was able to keep the world breathless. Hitler as a political genius was a magnificent unmasking of the essence of politics in general. With Hitler, politics reached the peak of its development. We know what were its fruits and what was the reaction of the world. In brief, I believe that the twentieth century, with its gigantic catastrophes, ushers in a new social era, an era free of politics. It remains to be seen what part politics will play in the eradication of the political emotional plague and what part the consciously organized functions of love, work and knowledge.
    • Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague.

Listen, Little Man! (1948)

You are "free" only in one sense: free from education in governing your life yourself, free from self-criticism.
I tell you: "Only you yourself can be your liberator!"
Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion...
Follow the voice of your heart, even if it leads you off the path of timid souls. Do not become hard and embittered, even if life tortures you at times. There is only one thing that counts: to live one's life well and happily...
  • They call you "Little Man", "Common Man"; they say a new era has begun, the "Era of the Common Man". It isn't you who says so, Little Man. It is they, the Vice Presidents of great nations, promoted labour leaders, repentant sons of bourgeois families, statesman and philosophers. They give you your future but don't ask about your past.
  • I have never heard you complain: "You promote me to be the future master of myself and the world, but you don't tell me how one is to be the master of oneself, and you don't tell me the mistakes in my thinking and my actions."
  • Every physician, shoemaker, mechanic or educator must know his shortcomings if he is to do his work and make his living. For some decades, you have begun to play a governing role on this earth. It is on your thinking and your actions that the future of humanity depends. But your teachers and masters do not tell you how you really think and are; nobody dares to voice the one criticism of you which could make you capable of governing your own fate. You are "free" only in one sense: free from education in governing your life yourself, free from self-criticism.
  • You let men in power assume power "for the Little Man". But you yourself remain silent. You give men in power or impotent people with evil intentions the power to represent you. Only too late do you realize that again and again you are being defrauded.
  • See yourself as you really are. Listen to what none of your leaders and representatives dares tell you: You are a "little, common man." Understand the double meaning of these words: "little" and "common."
    Don't run. Have the courage to look at yourself!
  • "What right do you have to tell me things?" I can see this question in your apprehensive look. I hear this question from your impertinent mouth, Little Man. You are afraid to look at yourself, you are afraid of criticism, Little Man, just as you are afraid of the power they promise you. You would not know how to use this power. You dare not think that you ever might experience your self differently: free instead of cowed; open instead of tactical; loving openly instead of like a thief in the night. You despise yourself Little Man. You say: "Who am I to have an opinion of my own, to determine my own life and to declare the world to be mine?" You are right: Who are you to make a claim to your life?
  • You are different from the really great man in only one thing: The great man, at one time, also was a very little man, but he developed one important ability: he learned to see where he was small in his thinking, and actions. Under the pressure of some task which was dear to him he learned better and better to sense the threat that comes from his smallness and pettiness. The great man, then, knows when and in what he is a little man.
  • The Little Man does not know that he is little, and he is afraid of knowing it. He covers up his smallness and narrowness with illusions of strength and greatness, of others' strength and greatness. He is proud of his great generals but not proud of himself. He admires thought which he did not have and not the thought he did have. He believes in things all the more thoroughly the less he comprehends them, and does not believe in the correctness of those ideas which he comprehends most easily
  • Your liberators tell you that that your suppressors are Wilhelm, Nikolaus, Pope Gregory the Twenty Eighth, Morgan, Krupp or Ford. And your "liberators" are called Mussolini, Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin.
    I tell you: "Only you yourself can be your liberator!"
    • "Pope Gregory the Twenty Eighth" may be an error, or may be a satirization of the Roman Catholic Church as both an eternal oppressor and scapegoat for oppressors; there are as yet only 16 Popes who have been named Gregory.
  • This sentence makes me hesitate. I contend to be a fighter for pureness and truth. I hesitate, because I am afraid of you and your attitude towards truth. To say the truth about you is dangerous to life.
  • My intellect tells me: "Tell the truth at any cost." The Little Man in me says: "It is stupid to expose oneself to the little man, to put oneself at his mercy. The Little Man does not want to hear the truth about himself. He does not want the great responsibility which is his. He wants to remain a Little Man. He wants to remain a Little Man, or wants to become a little great man. He wants to become rich, or a party leader, or commander of a legion, or secretary of the society for the abolition of vice. But he does not want to assume responsibility for his work..."
  • You are afraid of life, Little Man, deadly afraid. You will murder it in the belief of doing it for the sake of "socialism," or "the state," or "national honor," or "the glory of God."
  • The kindly individual believes that all people are kindly and act accordingly. The plague individual believes that all people lie, swindle, steal and crave power. Clearly, then, the living is at a disadvantage and in danger.
  • You beg for happiness in life, but security is more important to you, even if it costs you your spine or your life. Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion; when your thinking will be in harmony with your feelings; when the teachers of your children will be better paid than the politicians; when you will have more respect for the love between man and woman than for a marriage license.
  • You will no longer believe that you "don't count." You will know and advocate your knowledge that you are the bearer of human society. Don't run away. Don't be afraid. It is not so terrible to be the responsible bearer of human society. Inflated leaders would have no soldiers and no arms if you clearly knew, and stood up for your knowledge, that a field has to yield wheat and a factory furniture or shoes, and not arms.
  • You are Great, Little Man, when you are not small and petty. You are great when you carry on your trade lovingly, when you enjoy carving and building and painting and decorating and sowing, when you enjoy the blue sky and the deer and the dew and music and dancing, your growing children and the beautiful body of your woman or your man, when you learn to understand and think about life.
  • Follow the voice of your heart, even if it leads you off the path of timid souls. Do not become hard and embittered, even if life tortures you at times. There is only one thing that counts: to live one's life well and happily...

Ether, God and Devil (1949)

  • The absolute and static were even taken over by such dynamically oriented psychological schools as the Freudian in the form of the permanent unconscious ideas. In Jung, the unconscious psychic life was enlarged to the static "racial unconscious" and to the static "collective unconscious". Along with the static viewpoint, these psychologies took over the idea of guilt, even after their separation from philosophy. In so doing, they fell into a cul de sac from which there was no way out.
    • On Jungian psychology, in Ch. 2 : "The Two Basic Pillars of Human Thinking: "God" and "Ether".

Response to FDA complaint (1954)

Response to the FDA's Complaint for Injunction (22 February 1954)
Man's right to know, to learn, to inquire, to make bona fide errors, to investigate human emotions must, by all means, be safe, if the word FREEDOM should ever be more than an empty political slogan.
  • No man-made law ever, no matter whether derived from the past or projected onto a distant, unforeseeable future, can or should ever be empowered to claim that it is greater than the Natural Law from which it stems and to which it must inevitably return in the eternal rhythm of creation and decline of all things natural. This is valid, no matter whether we speak in terms such as "God," "Natural Law," "Cosmic Primordial Force," "Ether" or "Cosmic Orgone Energy."
  • The present critical state of international human affairs requires security and safety from nuisance interferences with efforts toward full, honest, determined clarification of man's relationship to nature within and without himself; in other words, his relationship to the Law of Nature. It is not permissible, either morally, legally, or factually, to force a natural scientist to expose his scientific results and methods of basic research in court. This point is accentuated in a world crisis where biopathic men hold in their hands power over ruined, destitute multitudes.
  • Inquiry in the realm of Basic Natural Law is outside the judicial domain of this or ANY OTHER KIND OF SOCIAL ADMINISTRATION ANYWHERE ON THIS GLOBE, IN ANY LAND, NATION, OR REGION.
    Man's right to know, to learn, to inquire, to make bona fide errors, to investigate human emotions must, by all means, be safe, if the word FREEDOM should ever be more than an empty political slogan. Wikiquote-logo.svg QOTD 2007·11·03 Sound file
  • My discovery of the Life Energy is today widely known nearly all over the globe, in hundreds of institutions, whether acclaimed or cursed. It can no longer be stopped by anyone, no matter what happens to me.

Quotes about Reich

  • On top of the world,
    Looking over the edge,
    You could see them coming.
    You looked too small
    In their big, black car,
    To be a threat to the men in power.
    • Kate Bush in "Cloudbusting" sung from the perspective of Reich's son Peter, as his father was being arrested for contempt of court.
  • He had a great capacity to arouse irrational hatred obviously, and that's because his ideas were radical in the most extreme sense of the word "radical." His ideas have something to offend everybody, and he ended up becoming the only heretic in American history whose books were literally burned by the government.
    Timothy Leary spent five years in prison for unorthodox scientific ideas. Ezra Pound spent 13 years in a nuthouse for unorthodox political and economic ideas. Their books were not burned.
    Reich was not only thrown in prison, but they chopped up all the scientific equipment in his laboratory with axes and burned all of his books in an incinerator. Now that interests me as a civil liberties issue.
    When I started studying Reich's works, I went through a period of enthusiasm, followed by a period of skepticism, followed by a period of just continued interest, but I think a lot of his ideas probably were sound. A lot probably were unsound. And, I'm not a Reichian in the sense of somebody who thinks he was the greatest scientist who ever lived and discovered the basic secrets of psychology, physics and everything else, all in one lifetime. But I think he has enough sound ideas that his unpopular ideas deserve further investigation.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Wilhelm Reich
BornMarch 24, 1897(1897-03-24)
Dobrzanica, Galicia, Austria-Hungary
DiedNovember 03, 1957 (aged 60)
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
ResidenceOrgonon, Rangeley, Maine, United States
CitizenshipAustria, United States
FieldPsychiatry, Psychoanalysis
Alma materUniversity of Vienna
Known forFreudo-Marxism, body psychotherapy, Orgone
ReligionAtheist

Wilhelm Reich (March 24, 1897November 3, 1957) was an Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He made important contributions to Psychotherapy. His work also contributed to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.








Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message