Wilhelm Reich

Wilhelm Reich

Overview
Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

, known as one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry. He was the author of several notable books, including The Mass Psychology of Fascism
The Mass Psychology of Fascism
The Mass Psychology of Fascism, originally Die Massenpsychologie des Faschismus in German, was a book written by Wilhelm Reich in 1933...

 and Character Analysis, both published in 1933.

Reich worked with Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 in the 1920s and was a respected analyst for much of his life, focusing on character structure
Character structure
A character structure is a system of relatively permanent traits that are manifested in the specific ways that an individual relates and reacts to others, to various kinds of stimuli, and to the environment...

 rather than on individual neurotic
Neurosis
Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms. It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic...

 symptoms. He tried to reconcile Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 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.
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Quotations

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.

It is sexual energy which governs the structure of human feeling and thinking.

Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf [The Sexual Revolution] (1936)

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

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
Encyclopedia
Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

, known as one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry. He was the author of several notable books, including The Mass Psychology of Fascism
The Mass Psychology of Fascism
The Mass Psychology of Fascism, originally Die Massenpsychologie des Faschismus in German, was a book written by Wilhelm Reich in 1933...

 and Character Analysis, both published in 1933.

Reich worked with Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 in the 1920s and was a respected analyst for much of his life, focusing on character structure
Character structure
A character structure is a system of relatively permanent traits that are manifested in the specific ways that an individual relates and reacts to others, to various kinds of stimuli, and to the environment...

 rather than on individual neurotic
Neurosis
Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms. It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic...

 symptoms. He tried to reconcile Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 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
Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born Jewish American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts...

, William S. Burroughs
William S. Burroughs
William Seward Burroughs II was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th...

, Paul Edwards
Paul Edwards (philosopher)
Paul Edwards, born Paul Eisenstein, was an Austrian American moral philosopher.-Life and career:Edwards was born in Vienna in 1923 to assimilated Jewish parents, the youngest of three brothers....

, Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer
Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S...

, A.S. Neill, and Robert Anton Wilson
Robert Anton Wilson
Robert Anton Wilson , known to friends as "Bob", was an American author and polymath who became at various times a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic...

, and shaped innovations such as Fritz Perls
Fritz Perls
Friedrich Salomon Perls , better known as Fritz Perls, was a noted German-born psychiatrist and psychotherapist of Jewish descent....

's Gestalt therapy
Gestalt therapy
Gestalt therapy is an existential/experiential form of psychotherapy that emphasizes personal responsibility, and that focuses upon the individual's experience in the present moment, the therapist-client relationship, the environmental and social contexts of a person's life, and the self-regulating...

, Alexander Lowen
Alexander Lowen
Dr. Alexander Lowen was an American psychotherapist. A student of Wilhelm Reich in the 1940s and early 1950s in New York, he developed Bioenergetic Analysis, a form of mind-body psychotherapy, with his then-colleague, John Pierrakos...

's bioenergetic analysis
Bioenergetic analysis
Bioenergetic Analysis is a form of body psychotherapy , based upon the work of Wilhelm Reich, but adding a number of innovations...

, and Arthur Janov
Arthur Janov
Arthur Janov is an American psychologist, psychotherapist, and the creator of primal therapy, a treatment for mental illness that involves repeatedly descending into, feeling, and expressing long-repressed childhood pain. Janov directs a psychotherapy institute called the Primal Center in Santa...

's primal therapy
Primal therapy
Primal therapy is a trauma-based psychotherapy created by Arthur Janov, who argues that neurosis is caused by the repressed pain of childhood trauma. Janov argues that repressed pain can be sequentially brought to conscious awareness and resolved through re-experiencing the incident and fully...

.

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, e.g. developing body psychotherapy
Body Psychotherapy
Body psychotherapy, also referred to as body-oriented psychotherapy and somatic psychology, is a significant branch of psychotherapy, with origins in the work of Pierre Janet, Sigmund Freud and particularly Wilhelm Reich....

, thus using touch during sessions. After some years of microbiological research ("bions") he said he had discovered a primordial
Primordial
Primordial may refer to:* Primordial sea . See abiogenesis* Primordial nuclide, nuclides, a few radioactive, that formed before the Earth existed and are stable enough to still occur on Earth...

 cosmic energy, which he called "orgone
Orgone
Orgone energy is a theory originally proposed in the 1930s by Wilhelm Reich. Reich, originally part of Sigmund Freud's Vienna circle, extrapolated the Freudian concept of libido first as a biophysical and later as a universal life force...

". 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.

Reich was living in Germany when Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 came to power in January 1933. On March 2 that year the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter
Völkischer Beobachter
The Völkischer Beobachter was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers' Party from 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from February 8, 1923...

 published an attack on one of Reich's pamphlets, The Sexual Struggle of Youth. 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, 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 requesting the judge to read all his books 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
Book burning
Book burning, biblioclasm or libricide is the practice of destroying, often ceremoniously, books or other written material and media. In modern times, other forms of media, such as phonograph records, video tapes, and CDs have also been ceremoniously burned, torched, or shredded...

 by the FDA - a notable example of censorship in U.S. history. He died in jail of heart failure just over a year later, days before he was due to apply for parole.

Childhood


Reich was born the first of two sons to Leon Reich, a prosperous farmer, and Cecilia Roniger, in Dobrzanica
Dobrzanica
Dobrianychi, also written as Dobryanichi or Dobrjanici , German: Dobzau, Polish: Dobrzanica) is a village in Lviv Oblast near the town of Peremyshliany in Ukraine. Dobrianychi is formed from the village of Dobrianychi and the villages of Ploska and Tutschne .-External links:**...

, a village in Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

. 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
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 and had not raised his children as Jews; Reich wasn't even allowed to play with Yiddish-speaking children. As an adult, Reich corrected anyone who referred to him as a Jew. His biographer, Myron Sharaf
Myron Sharaf
Myron Ruscoll Sharaf was an American writer and psychotherapist. He taught in the Department of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, and was the director of the Center for Sociopsychological Research and Education, Boston State Hospital and assistant clinical professor of psychology, Department...

, 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.

Shortly after his birth, the family moved south to a farm in Jujinetz, near Chernivtsi
Chernivtsi
Chernivtsi is the administrative center of Chernivtsi Oblast in southwestern Ukraine. The city is situated on the upper course of the River Prut, a tributary of the Danube, in the northern part of the historic region of Bukovina, which is currently divided between Romania and Ukraine...

, Bukovina
Bukovina
Bukovina is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains.-Name:The name Bukovina came into official use in 1775 with the region's annexation from the Principality of Moldavia to the possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy, which became...

, 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. 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; 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.
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.

Reich wrote in 1920 about how deeply his mother's affair had affected him. Night after night he followed her as she crept to the tutor's bedroom. He stood 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.

Education


He was sent to the all-male Czernowitz gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

, 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
Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that appears on the skin. It occurs when the immune system mistakes the skin cells as a pathogen, and sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis is not contagious. However, psoriasis has been linked to an increased risk of...

; Sharaf speculates that it may have been triggered by his mother's suicide. He was given medication that contained arsenic
Arsenic
Arsenic is a chemical element with the symbol As, atomic number 33 and relative atomic mass 74.92. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and metals, and also as a pure elemental crystal. It was first documented by Albertus Magnus in 1250.Arsenic is a metalloid...

, now known to make psoriasis worse.

His father was devastated by his wife's suicide. In or around 1914, he took out a life insurance
Life insurance
Life insurance is a contract between an insurance policy holder and an insurer, where the insurer promises to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money upon the death of the insured person. Depending on the contract, other events such as terminal illness or critical illness may also trigger...

 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. He contracted pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

 and tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

, and died in 1914. Despite the insurance policy, no money was forthcoming.

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
Bukovina
Bukovina is a historical region on the northern slopes of the northeastern Carpathian Mountains and the adjoining plains.-Name:The name Bukovina came into official use in 1775 with the region's annexation from the Principality of Moldavia to the possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy, which became...

 and the Reich brothers fled to Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, 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
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

. When the war ended in 1918, he entered the medical school at the University of Vienna
University of Vienna
The University of Vienna is a public university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the German-speaking world...

. As an undergraduate, he was drawn to the work of Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

. The men first met in 1919 when Reich visited Freud to obtain literature for a seminar on sexology
Sexology
Sexology is the scientific study of human sexuality, including human sexual interests, behavior, and function. The term does not generally refer to the non-scientific study of sex, such as political analysis or social criticism....

, Freud making a strong impression on him. He became one of Freud's favorite students. 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. He was allowed to complete his six-year medical degree in four years because he was a war veteran, and received his M.D.
Doctor of Medicine
Doctor of Medicine is a doctoral degree for physicians. The degree is granted by medical schools...

 in July 1922.

Early career and first marriage


Reich worked in internal medicine at University Hospital, Vienna, and studied neuropsychiatry
Neuropsychiatry
Neuropsychiatry is the branch of medicine dealing with mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system. It preceded the current disciplines of psychiatry and neurology, in as much as psychiatrists and neurologists had a common training....

 from 1922-24 at the Neurological and Psychiatric Clinic under Professor Julius Wagner-Jauregg
Julius Wagner-Jauregg
Julius Wagner-Jauregg was an Austrian physician, Nobel Laureate, and Nazi supporter.-Early life:...

. 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
Neurosis
Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms. It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic...

, and became Deputy Director of Training.

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
Otto Fenichel
Otto Fenichel was a psychoanalyst of the so-called "second generation".Otto Fenichel started studying medicine in 1915 in Vienna. Already as a very young man, when still in school, he was attracted by the circle of psychoanalysts around Freud...

 as a witness. The marriage produced two daughters, Eva in 1924 and Lore in 1928. 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
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

, 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.

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
Laban Movement Analysis
Laban is a way and language for interpreting, describing, visualizing and notating all ways of human movement. Created by Rudolf Laban, LMA draws on his theories of effort and shape to describe, interpret and document human movement...

, and a pupil of Elsa Gindler
Elsa Gindler
Elsa Gindler was a somatic bodywork pioneer in Germany.Born in Berlin, gymnastics teacher, student of Hedwig Kallmeyer ....

. He and Lindenburg were living in Germany when Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933. On March 2, the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter
Völkischer Beobachter
The Völkischer Beobachter was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers' Party from 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from February 8, 1923...

 published an attack on Reich's Der Sexuale Kampf der Jugend (The Sexual Struggle of Youth). 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 was accused of corrupting Danish youth with German sexology, then to Sweden, and in the fall of 1934 to Norway.

Vegetotherapy and the orgasm




Reich stayed in Norway for five years, working under the auspices of Professor Schjelderup of the Psychological Institute at the University of Oslo
University of Oslo
The University of Oslo , formerly The Royal Frederick University , is the oldest and largest university in Norway, situated in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. The university was founded in 1811 and was modelled after the recently established University of Berlin...

. 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 have sexual intercourse with what he called "orgastic potency". He tried to measure the male orgasm, noting that four distinct phases occurred physiologically: first, the psycho-sexual buildup or tension; second, the tumescence
Tumescence
Tumescence is the quality or state of being tumescent or swollen. Tumescence usually refers to the normal engorgement with blood of the erectile tissues, marking sexual excitation and possible readiness for sexual activity...

 of the penis, with an accompanying electrical charge that Reich measured; 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
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

.

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 is called ego psychology
Ego psychology
Ego psychology is a school of psychoanalysis rooted in Sigmund Freud's structural id-ego-superego model of the mind.An individual interacts with the external world as well as responds to internal forces. Many psychoanalysts use a theoretical construct called the ego to explain how that is done...

. 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 his theory of body armoring. Reich argued that unreleased psycho-sexual energy could produce actual physical blocks within muscles and organs
Organ (anatomy)
In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in structural unit to serve a common function. Usually there is a main tissue and sporadic tissues . The main tissue is the one that is unique for the specific organ. For example, main tissue in the heart is the myocardium, while sporadic are...

, and that these blocks 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
Human sexual behavior
Human sexual activities or human sexual practices or human sexual behavior refers to the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts from time to time, and for a wide variety of reasons...

 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.

He agreed with Freud that sexual development was the origin of mental illness. They both believed that most psychological states were dictated by unconscious
Unconscious mind
The unconscious mind is a term coined by the 18th century German romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge...

 processes, that infant sexuality develops early but is repressed, and that this repression has important consequences for mental health. At that time a Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 (see Freudo-Marxism
Freudo-Marxism
Freudo-Marxism is a loose designation of several twentieth-century critical theory schools of thought that sought to synthesize the philosophy and political economy of Karl Marx with the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud....

), Reich argued that the source of sexual repression was bourgeois
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 morality and the socio-economic structures that produced it. As sexual repression was the cause of the neuroses
Neurosis
Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms. It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic...

, the best cure was 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. In 1928, he joined the Austrian Communist Party
Communist party
A political party described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism through a communist form of government...

 and founded the Socialist Association for Sexual Counseling and Research, which organized counseling centers for workers.

Bion experiments


From 1934-39, Reich conducted experiments looking at vegetative energy in the body, especially the Galvanic skin response
Galvanic skin response
Skin conductance, also known as galvanic skin response , electrodermal response , psychogalvanic reflex , skin conductance response or skin conductance level , is a method of measuring the electrical conductance of the skin, which varies with its moisture level...

, which became research into the origins of life. These he called the "Bion Experiments". He examined protozoa
Protozoa
Protozoa are a diverse group of single-cells eukaryotic organisms, many of which are motile. Throughout history, protozoa have been defined as single-cell protists with animal-like behavior, e.g., movement...

, single-celled creatures with nuclei
Cell nucleus
In cell biology, the nucleus is a membrane-enclosed organelle found in eukaryotic cells. It contains most of the cell's genetic material, organized as multiple long linear DNA molecules in complex with a large variety of proteins, such as histones, to form chromosomes. The genes within these...

. He grew cultured vesicles
Vesicle (biology)
A vesicle is a bubble of liquid within another liquid, a supramolecular assembly made up of many different molecules. More technically, a vesicle is a small membrane-enclosed sack that can store or transport substances. Vesicles can form naturally because of the properties of lipid membranes , or...

 using grass, sand, iron, and animal tissue, boiling them, and adding potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 and gelatin
Gelatin
Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle , flavorless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, pharmaceuticals, photography, and cosmetic manufacturing. Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar...

. Having heated the materials to incandescence
Incandescence
Incandescence is the emission of light from a hot body as a result of its temperature. The term derives from the Latin verb incandescere, to glow white....

 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
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

 were born, he said, dismissing the idea that the bacteria were already present in the air or on other materials.

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." This idea of spontaneous generation
Spontaneous generation
Spontaneous generation or Equivocal generation is an obsolete principle regarding the origin of life from inanimate matter, which held that this process was a commonplace and everyday occurrence, as distinguished from univocal generation, or reproduction from parent...

 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
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 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
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

; 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' 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 response.

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, loves, hates, and neurosis - a process known as transference
Transference
Transference is a phenomenon in psychoanalysis characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another. One definition of transference is "the inappropriate repetition in the present of a relationship that was important in a person's childhood." Another definition is "the...

. 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. 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. 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
Sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...

. 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.

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. Between September 1937 and the fall of 1938, over 100 articles denouncing him appeared in the main Oslo newspapers.

In 1937, Leiv Kreyberg
Leiv Kreyberg
Leiv Kreyberg was a Norwegian pathologist. He was a professor at the University of Oslo from 1938 to 1964. Among his scientific studies was the development and typology of lung cancer...

, 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.

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, Kreyberg 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.

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.

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
Sigurd Hoel
Sigurd Hoel was a Norwegian author and publishing consultant, born in Nord-Odal. He debuted with the collection of short stories Veien vi gaar in 1922...

 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
Summerhill School
Summerhill School is an independent British boarding school that was founded in 1921 by Alexander Sutherland Neill with the belief that the school should be made to fit the child, rather than the other way around...

 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. Throughout the affair, Reich 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.

Personal life


Sharaf writes that, at a personal level, 1934–1937 was 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
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

, at that time illegal. They went to Berlin, where Edith Jacobson
Edith Jacobson
Edith Jacobson was a German psychoanalyst. Her major contributions to psychoanalytic thinking dealt with the development of the sense of identity and self-esteem and with an understanding of depression and psychosis...

, a psychoanalyst, helped to arrange it.

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. 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." He also had an affair with Gerd Bergersen, a 25-year-old Norwegian textile designer.

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.

Teaching; meeting his second wife


In March 1938, Hitler annexed
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

 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 New School
The New School
The New School is a university in New York City, located mostly in Greenwich Village. From its founding in 1919 by progressive New York academics, and for most of its history, the university was known as the New School for Social Research. Between 1997 and 2005 it was known as New School University...

 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.

He began teaching at The New School
The New School
The New School is a university in New York City, located mostly in Greenwich Village. From its founding in 1919 by progressive New York academics, and for most of its history, the university was known as the New School for Social Research. Between 1997 and 2005 it was known as New School University...

, where he remained for two years, living first at 75-02 Kessel Street, Forest Hills, Queens
Forest Hills, Queens
Forest Hills is a neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City, New York, United States.-Neighborhood:The neighborhood is home to upper-middle class residents, of whom the wealthier residents often live in the neighborhood's Forest Hills Gardens area...

, 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
Animal testing
Animal testing, also known as animal experimentation, animal research, and in vivo testing, is the use of non-human animals in experiments. Worldwide it is estimated that the number of vertebrate animals—from zebrafish to non-human primates—ranges from the tens of millions to more than 100 million...

, 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 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.

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.

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.

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 a speaker disliked. 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.

Orgonomy


Freud had argued for the existence of a sexual energy which he called "libido
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

", 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 Freud had rejected the idea that the libido represented a physical energy. 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
Omnipresence
Omnipresence or ubiquity is the property of being present everywhere. According to eastern theism, God is present everywhere. Divine omnipresence is thus one of the divine attributes, although in western theism it has attracted less philosophical attention than such attributes as omnipotence,...

, visible to the naked eye, and responsible for such things as weather, the color of the sky, gravity, the formation of galaxies, and the biological expressions of emotion and sexuality. Reich argued that St. Elmo's Fire
St. Elmo's fire
St. Elmo's fire is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a coronal discharge from a grounded object in an electric field in the atmosphere St. Elmo's fire is named after St. Erasmus of Formiae St. Elmo's fire (also St. Elmo's light) is a weather phenomenon in which luminous...

 is a manifestation of it, as is the blue color of sexually excited frogs. Red corpuscles
Red blood cell
Red blood cells are the most common type of blood cell and the vertebrate organism's principal means of delivering oxygen to the body tissues via the blood flow through the circulatory system...

, plant chlorophyll
Chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in almost all plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. Its name is derived from the Greek words χλωρος, chloros and φύλλον, phyllon . Chlorophyll is an extremely important biomolecule, critical in photosynthesis, which allows plants to obtain energy from light...

, gonad
Gonad
The gonad is the organ that makes gametes. The gonads in males are the testes and the gonads in females are the ovaries. The product, gametes, are haploid germ cells. For example, spermatozoon and egg cells are gametes...

al cells, protozoa
Protozoa
Protozoa are a diverse group of single-cells eukaryotic organisms, many of which are motile. Throughout history, protozoa have been defined as single-cell protists with animal-like behavior, e.g., movement...

, and cancer cell
Cancer cell
Cancer cells are cells that grow and divide at an unregulated, quickened pace. Although cancer cells can be quite common in a person they are only malignant when the other cells fail to recognize and/or destroy them. In the past a common belief was that cancer cells failed to be recognized and...

s are all charged with orgone, he said.

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. 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."

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
Electrical insulation
thumb|250px|[[Coaxial Cable]] with dielectric insulator supporting a central coreThis article refers to electrical insulation. For insulation of heat, see Thermal insulation...

 with a high dielectric constant
Dielectric constant
The relative permittivity of a material under given conditions reflects the extent to which it concentrates electrostatic lines of flux. In technical terms, it is the ratio of the amount of electrical energy stored in a material by an applied voltage, relative to that stored in a vacuum...

, the accumulators had the appearance of a large, hollow capacitor
Capacitor
A capacitor is a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store energy in an electric field. The forms of practical capacitors vary widely, but all contain at least two electrical conductors separated by a dielectric ; for example, one common construction consists of metal foils separated...

. Based on experiments with them, he argued that orgone energy was a negatively-entropic
Entropy
Entropy is a thermodynamic property that can be used to determine the energy available for useful work in a thermodynamic process, such as in energy conversion devices, engines, or machines. Such devices can only be driven by convertible energy, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency when...

 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 erection
Erection
Penile erection is a physiological phenomenon where the penis becomes enlarged and firm. Penile erection is the result of a complex interaction of psychological, neural, vascular and endocrine factors, and is usually, though not exclusively, associated with sexual arousal...

s.

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
Placebo effect
Placebo effect may refer to:* Placebo effect, the tendency of any medication or treatment, even an inert or ineffective one, to exhibit results simply because the recipient believes that it will work...

. He had, he believed, developed a grand unified theory of physical and mental health, a claim regarded by the psychoanalytic community as quackery.

Experiment XX


In December 1944, Reich began the 20th (Roman numeral XX) in his series of bion experiments. 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.

Cloudbusters


Reich posited a conjugate, life-annulling energy in opposition to orgone, which he dubbed Deadly Orgone Radiation or DOR. He wrote that accumulations of DOR played a role in desertification
Desertification
Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands. Caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems.-Definitions:...

, 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.

Reich conducted dozens of experiments with the cloudbuster, 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 at 10 a.m. on July 6, 1953. The Bangor
Bangor, Maine
Bangor is a city in and the county seat of Penobscot County, Maine, United States, and the major commercial and cultural center for eastern and northern Maine...

 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

Ellsworth, Maine
Ellsworth is a city in and the county seat of Hancock County, Maine, United States. The 2010 Census determined it had a population of 7,741. Ellsworth was Maine's fastest growing city from 2000-2010 with a growth rate of nearly 20 percent...

 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.



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

Orgone experiment with Einstein



On December 30, 1940, Reich wrote to Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 saying he had a scientific discovery he wanted to discuss, and on January 13, 1941, went to visit Einstein in Princeton
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton is a community located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. It is best known as the location of Princeton University, which has been sited in the community since 1756...

. They talked for five hours, and Einstein agreed to test an orgone accumulator, which Reich had constructed out of a Faraday cage
Faraday cage
A Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure formed by conducting material or by a mesh of such material. Such an enclosure blocks out external static and non-static electric fields...

 made of galvanized steel and insulated by wood and paper on the outside. 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.

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, which Reich argued was caused by the orgone energy that had accumulated inside the Faraday cage. However, one of Einstein's assistants pointed out that the temperature was lower on the floor than on the ceiling. 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. He wrote back to Reich, describing his experiments and expressing the hope that Reich would develop a more skeptical approach.

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. The correspondence between Reich and Einstein was published by Reich's press as The Einstein Affair in 1953, possibly without Einstein's permission.

Arrested by the FBI


On December 12, 1941, five days after Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

, Reich was arrested at his home at 2 a.m. by the FBI, and taken to Ellis Island
Ellis Island
Ellis Island in New York Harbor was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States. It was the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1954. The island was greatly expanded with landfill between 1892 and 1934. Before that, the much smaller original island was the...

, 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
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

, Trotsky's My Life
My Life (Leon Trotsky autobiography)
My Life - An attempt at an autobiography is the name of the Russian revolutionary Communist leader Leon Trotsky's autobiography. The book was first published in 1930 and was written in the first year of Trotsky's exile in Turkey...

, and a Russian alphabet book for children. Eventually Reich threatened to go on hunger strike
Hunger strike
A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids but not...

, 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
Enemy alien
In law, an enemy alien is a citizen of a country which is in a state of conflict with the land in which he or she is located. Usually, but not always, the countries are in a state of declared war.-United Kingdom:...

 Hearing judged that Dr. Reich was not a threat to the security of the U.S.

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 acre (0.6474976 km²) of fields, forests, and hills "Orgonon
Orgonon
Orgonon was the home, laboratory and research center of the Austrian-born psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich . Located in Rangeley, Maine, it is Reich's burial place, and is now open to the public as the Wilhelm Reich Museum....

". 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.

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".
His reputation took a sudden downturn in May 1947. On May 26, an article by freelance writer Mildred Edie Brady
Mildred Edie Brady
Mildred Edie Brady was a freelance writer for The New Republic who is mostly known for writing the May 26, 1947 article The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich about psychiatrist William Reich's controversial...

 appeared in The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

, 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." 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
Orgonon
Orgonon was the home, laboratory and research center of the Austrian-born psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich . Located in Rangeley, Maine, it is Reich's burial place, and is now open to the public as the Wilhelm Reich Museum....

, Maine—after it. Here he builds accumulators of it, which are rented out to patients, who presumably derive 'orgastic potency' from it." 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.
The regulation and advertising of medical devices is shared and coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

 and the Food and Drug Administration. On July 23, Dr. J.J. Durrett, director of the Medical Advisory Division of the Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

, wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking them to look into Reich's claims about the health benefits of orgone. 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." 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."
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
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 for it ... I am angry because smearing can do anything and truth can do so little to prevail, as it seems at the moment." Sharaf writes that Reich came to believe that Brady was a Stalinist
Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 acting under orders from the Communist Party, a "communist sniper," as Reich called her.

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.

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.

On February 10, 1954, the U.S. Attorney
United States Attorney
United States Attorneys represent the United States federal government in United States district court and United States court of appeals. There are 93 U.S. Attorneys stationed throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands...

 for Maine filed a complaint seeking a permanent injunction
Injunction
An injunction is an equitable remedy in the form of a court order that requires a party to do or refrain from doing certain acts. A party that fails to comply with an injunction faces criminal or civil penalties and may have to pay damages or accept sanctions...

 under Sections 301 and 302 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
The United States Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act , is a set of laws passed by Congress in 1938 giving authority to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to oversee the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics. A principal author of this law was Royal S. Copeland, a three-term U.S. Senator from...

, to prevent interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and to ban some of Reich's writing promoting and advertising the devices. 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.


Maine was granted the injunction by default on March 19, 1954. His ruling was more extensive than 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.

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, moved some accumulators and books from Rangeley, Maine to New York, in violation of the injunction. Reich and Silvert were both charged with contempt of court
Contempt of court
Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority...

. Once again, he refused to arrange a legal defense. He was brought in chains to the courthouse in Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

. 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.

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." 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.

1956: 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
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 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
Herbert Read
Sir Herbert Edward Read, DSO, MC was an English anarchist, poet, and critic of literature and art. He was one of the earliest English writers to take notice of existentialism, and was strongly influenced by proto-existentialist thinker Max Stirner....

 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.

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. 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. This action has been cited as one of the worst examples of censorship in U.S. history.

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."

1957: Imprisonment and death


On February 10, 1957, Reich signed his last will, naming his daughter, Eva, as his executrix. On March 12, he was sent to Danbury Federal Prison, where Richard C. Hubbard, a psychiatrist who admired Reich, examined him, recording paranoia
Paranoia
Paranoia [] is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself...

 manifested by delusions of grandiosity, persecution, and ideas of reference
Ideas of reference
Ideas of reference and delusions of reference involve people having a belief or perception that irrelevant, unrelated or innocuous phenomena in the world refer to them directly or have special personal significance: 'the notion that everything one perceives in the world relates to one's own...

:

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
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

 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.)Sharaf 1994, pp. 469–470.


On March 22, he was transferred to the federal penitentiary
Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary
The United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg is a male inmate high security federal penitentiary and satellite minimum security prison camp housing some 1,000 and 500 respectively, just outside Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The Lewisburg Penitentiary was opened in 1932...

 in Lewisburg
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
Lewisburg is a borough in Union County, Pennsylvania, United States, south by southeast of Williamsport and north of Harrisburg. In the past, it was the commercial center for a fertile grain and general farming region. The population was 5,620 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Union...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, 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. 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. ...


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
Howard Johnson's
Howard Johnson's is a chain of hotels and restaurants, located primarily throughout the United States and Canada. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Howard Johnson's was the largest restaurant chain in the United States, with over 1,000 restaurants...

 restaurant near Peter's school.

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." 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"
Ellens dritter Gesang
Ellens dritter Gesang , in English: "Ellen's Third Song", was composed by Franz Schubert in 1825 as part of his Opus 52, a setting of seven songs from Walter Scott's popular epic poem The Lady of the Lake, loosely translated into German.It has become one of Schubert's most popular works under the...

 sung by Marian Anderson
Marian Anderson
Marian Anderson was an African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century...

, 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." 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 journals carried an obituary. Time magazine wrote on November 18, 1957:
A postmortem FBI chemical analysis report documents formaldehyde poisoning, but lists the cause of death as "unknown."

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.

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
William Steig
William Steig was a prolific American cartoonist, sculptor and, later in life, an author of popular children's literature...

, Robert Anton Wilson
Robert Anton Wilson
Robert Anton Wilson , known to friends as "Bob", was an American author and polymath who became at various times a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic...

, Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer
Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S...

, William S. Burroughs
William S. Burroughs
William Seward Burroughs II was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th...

, Jerome D. Salinger
J. D. Salinger
Jerome David Salinger was an American author, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his reclusive nature. His last original published work was in 1965; he gave his last interview in 1980....

 and Orson Bean
Orson Bean
Orson Bean is an American film, television, and Broadway actor. He appeared frequently on televised game shows in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, including being a long-time panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth....

 have all undergone Reich's orgone therapy and there is some use of orgone accumulators by psychotherapists in Europe, particularly in Germany. 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
Philipps University of Marburg
The Philipp University of Marburg , was founded in 1527 by Landgrave Philip I of Hesse as the world's oldest university dating back to a Protestant foundation...

 and appeared to validate some of Reich's claims. The study was later reproduced by Günter Hebenstreit at the University of Vienna.

Reich's influence is felt in modern psychotherapy. He was a pioneer of body psychotherapy
Body Psychotherapy
Body psychotherapy, also referred to as body-oriented psychotherapy and somatic psychology, is a significant branch of psychotherapy, with origins in the work of Pierre Janet, Sigmund Freud and particularly Wilhelm Reich....

 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
American College of Orgonomy
The American College of Orgonomy was formed as a nonprofit institution by Dr. Elsworth F. Baker in 1968. The purpose of the College is to advance the scientific work in the science of orgonomy, originally developed by Dr. Wilhelm Reich.The A.C.O...

, founded by Dr. Elsworth Baker, and the Institute for Orgonomic Science, 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 only allow the latest revised versions to be reprinted. In the late 1960s, Farrar, Straus & Giroux republished all his major works. Later in the 20th century, Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

 wrote that the impact of Reich's critique of sexual repression was substantial.

In popular culture



Reich continues to influence popular culture, with references to orgone and cloudbusting found in songs by Kate Bush
Kate Bush
Kate Bush is an English singer-songwriter, musician and record producer. Her eclectic musical style and idiosyncratic vocal style have made her one of the United Kingdom's most successful solo female performers of the past 30 years.In 1978, at the age of 19, Bush topped the UK Singles Chart...

, Clutch
Clutch (band)
Clutch is an American rock band from Germantown, Maryland, formed in 1990. The band's first release was an EP entitled Pitchfork, which debuted in October 1990. Their first studio album, Transnational Speedway League, was released three years later in 1993. To date, Clutch has released nine studio...

, Hawkwind
Hawkwind
Hawkwind are an English rock band, one of the earliest space rock groups. Their lyrics favour urban and science fiction themes. They are also a noted precursor to punk rock and now are considered a link between the hippie and punk cultures....

, Pop Will Eat Itself
Pop Will Eat Itself
Pop Will Eat Itself are an English alternative rock band, originally formed in Stourbridge in 1986, with members from Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country. Initially known as a Grebo act, their style changed to incorporate sample driven indie and industrial rock...

, Turbonegro
Turbonegro
Turbonegro is a Norwegian punk rock band that was initially active from 1989 to 1998, and later reformed in 2002. Their style combines glam rock, punk rock and hard rock into a style the band describes as "deathpunk"....

, Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

, and Patti Smith
Patti Smith
Patricia Lee "Patti" Smith is an American singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist, who became a highly influential component of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album Horses....

 ("Birdland" on Horses
Horses (album)
"Horses" is often cited as one of the greatest albums in music history. In 2003, the album was ranked number 44 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. NME named the album number 1 in its list "20 Near-as-Damn-It Perfect Initial Efforts"...

).
  • He is a character in the opera Marilyn (1979) by Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero
    Lorenzo Ferrero
    Lorenzo Ferrero is a contemporary Italian composer with a predilection for opera, a librettist, author, and book editor. He started composing at an early age and wrote over a hundred compositions thus far, including twelve operas, three ballets, and numerous orchestral, chamber music, solo...

    .
  • Kate Bush
    Kate Bush
    Kate Bush is an English singer-songwriter, musician and record producer. Her eclectic musical style and idiosyncratic vocal style have made her one of the United Kingdom's most successful solo female performers of the past 30 years.In 1978, at the age of 19, Bush topped the UK Singles Chart...

    's song "Cloudbusting
    Cloudbusting
    12" single CD single -Charts:-External links:* * *...

    " 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
    Terry Gilliam
    Terrence Vance "Terry" Gilliam is an American-born British screenwriter, film director, animator, actor and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe. Gilliam is also known for directing several films, including Brazil , The Adventures of Baron Munchausen , The Fisher King , and 12 Monkeys...

     and Bush, and has Donald Sutherland
    Donald Sutherland
    Donald McNichol Sutherland, OC is a Canadian actor with a film career spanning nearly 50 years. Some of Sutherland's more notable movie roles included offbeat warriors in such war movies as The Dirty Dozen, , MASH , and Kelly's Heroes , as well as in such popular films as Klute, Invasion of the...

     as Reich, and Bush as Peter.
  • An article about the female orgasm by Reich provided the inspiration for "Little Man Within" by Welsh singer/songwriter Karl Wallinger
    Karl Wallinger
    Karl Edmond De Vere Wallinger is a Welsh musician, songwriter and record producer. He is best known for leading the band World Party and for his mid-1980s stint in The Waterboys...

     of World Party
    World Party
    World Party is a British pop/alternative rock band, which is essentially the solo project of its sole member, Karl Wallinger. He started the band in 1986 in London after leaving The Waterboys.-Career:...

    .
  • Author Robert Anton Wilson
    Robert Anton Wilson
    Robert Anton Wilson , known to friends as "Bob", was an American author and polymath who became at various times a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic...

     wrote a play, Wilhelm Reich in Hell
    Wilhelm Reich in Hell
    Wilhelm Reich in Hell is a play and book written by author Robert Anton Wilson, and published in 1987. The book is one of Wilson's 35 volumes, and the play has been staged several times, with productions in Dublin, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The many factual and fictional characters in the...

    , 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
    Schrödinger's Cat trilogy
    The Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy is a trilogy of novels by Robert Anton Wilson consisting of The Universe Next Door, The Trick Top Hat, and The Homing Pigeons, each illustrating a different interpretation of quantum physics...

     is a witness to the 1957 book-burning.

Reich's work is described in Italian writer Valerio Evangelisti
Valerio Evangelisti
Valerio Evangelisti is one of the most popular Italian writers of science fiction, fantasy, historical novels and horror. He is known mainly for his series of novels featuring the inquistor Nicolas Eymerich and for the Nostradamus trilogy, all bestsellers translated into many languages...

's novel Il mistero dell'inquisitore Eymerich ("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
    W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism
    W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism is a 1971 film by Yugoslav director Dušan Makavejev that explores the relationship between communist politics and sexuality, as well as exploring the life and work of Wilhelm Reich.-Narrative and documentary elements:The film intercuts documentary footage with,...

     was made in 1971 by Yugoslavian director Dušan Makavejev
    Dušan Makavejev
    Dušan Makavejev is a Serbian film director and screenwriter, famous for his groundbreaking films of Yugoslav cinema in the late 1960s and early 1970s...

    , 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
    Supreme (comics)
    Supreme is a fictional superhero created by Rob Liefeld and first published by Image Comics, then Maximum Press, and later by Awesome Entertainment...

     by Alan Moore
    Alan Moore
    Alan Oswald Moore is an English writer primarily known for his work in comic books, a medium where he has produced a number of critically acclaimed and popular series, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell...

    (2000).
  • "He did ten years in Attica, reading Nietzsche and Wilhelm Reich"—from the song "Joey" on the album Desire by Bob Dylan
    Bob Dylan
    Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

    .
  • In Jack Kerouac
    Jack Kerouac
    Jean-Louis "Jack" Lebris de Kerouac was an American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic...

    's autobiographical novel On the Road
    On the Road
    On the Road is a novel by American writer Jack Kerouac, written in April 1951, and published by Viking Press in 1957. It is a largely autobiographical work that was based on the spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends across mid-century America. It is often considered a defining work of...

    , 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
    Peep Show (TV series)
    Peep Show is a British sitcom starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb. The television programme is written by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, with additional material by Mitchell and Webb themselves, amongst others. It has been broadcast on Channel 4 since 2003. The show's seventh series makes it...

     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
    Del Webb
    Delbert Eugene Webb was an American construction magnate, real estate developer and sports-team owner, who is most significant for founding and developing the retirement community of Sun City, Arizona.-Early life:...

    , of the 2008 documentary Wasteland Utopias by filmmaker David Sherman.
  • The Australian product designer Marc Newson
    Marc Newson
    Marc Newson was born in Sydney, Australia. Now based in London, he is a successful industrial designer who works in aircraft design, product design, furniture design, jewellery, and clothing. He incorporates a design style known as biomorphism to his various designs...

     has produced several 'Orgone' items of furniture, most famously his 'Orgone Chair.'
  • The post punk band Devo
    Devo
    Devo is an American band formed in 1973 consisting of members from Kent and Akron, Ohio. The classic line-up of the band includes two sets of brothers, the Mothersbaughs and the Casales . The band had a #14 Billboard chart hit in 1980 with the single "Whip It", and has maintained a cult...

     credited Mayan
    Maya civilization
    The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

     technology and Reich as the sources of inspiration for their 'energy dome' hat
    Hat
    A hat is a head covering. It can be worn for protection against the elements, for ceremonial or religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status...

    s in an interview with Stephen Colbert
    Stephen Colbert
    Stephen Tyrone Colbert is an American political satirist, writer, comedian, television host, and actor. He is the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a satirical news show in which Colbert portrays a caricatured version of conservative political pundits.Colbert originally studied to be an...

     on June 16, 2010.

Further reading



  • Baker, Elsworth F., Man in the Trap, Macmillan, NY, 1967.
  • Bean, Orson
    Orson Bean
    Orson Bean is an American film, television, and Broadway actor. He appeared frequently on televised game shows in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, including being a long-time panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth....

    , Me and the Orgone
    Me and the Orgone
    Me and the Orgone – The True Story of One Man's Sexual Awakening is an autobiographical account written by American actor and award-winning director Orson Bean about his life-changing experience with the controversial orgone therapy developed by Austrian psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich.The book...

    , St. Martin's Press, NY, 1971.
  • Boadella, David. Wilhelm Reich, The Evolution of his Work, Henry Regnery, Chicago, 1973.
  • Boadella, David (ed.). In the Wake of Reich, Coventure, London, 1976.
  • Corrington, Robert S.
    Robert S. Corrington
    Robert S. Corrington is an American philosopher and author of several books exploring human interpretation of the universe as well as biographies on C.S. Peirce and Wilhelm Reich. He is currently employed as professor of philosophical theology at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey...

     (2003). Wilhelm Reich: Psychoanalyst and Radical Naturalist, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, NY, 2003
  • D'Aloia, Alessandro (2004). Marxism and Psychoanalysis: Notes on Wilhelm Reich's life and work, first published in FalceMartello, International Marxist Tendency, October 15, 2004.
  • DeMeo, James (1989). The Orgone Accumulator Handbook: Construction Plans, Experimental Use and Protection Against Toxic Energy, Natural Energy Works.
  • DeMeo, James (1989). Response to Martin Gardner's Attack on Reich and Orgone Research in the Skeptical Inquirer.
  • DeMeo, James (ed.) (1993). "On Wilhelm Reich and Orgonomy", Pulse of the Planet, No. 4, Natural Energy Works.
  • DeMeo, James & Senf, Bernd (eds.) (1998). Nach Reich: Neue Forschungen zur Orgonomie: Sexualökonomie, Die Entdeckung der Orgonenergie (After Reich: New Research in Orgonomy: Sex-Economy, Discovery of the Orgone Energy), Zweitausendeins Verlag, Frankfurt.
  • Greenfield, Jerome (1974). Wilhelm Reich vs. the USA, W. W. Norton, NY, 1974.
  • Guillon, Claude (1978). Pour en finir avec Reich, Alternative diffusion, 1978.
  • Herskowitz, Morton (1998). Emotional Armoring: An Introduction to Psychiatric Orgone Therapy, Transactions Press.
  • Kendrick, William (1983). “The Analyst as Outsider”, a review of Myron Sharaf's Fury on Earth: A Biography of Wilhelm Reich, The New York Times, April 3, 1983.
  • Laska, Bernd A. (1981). "Sigmund Freud contra Wilhelm Reich", Wilhelm Reich. Bildmonographie. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1981, 62008.
  • Mann, Edward (1973). Orgone. Reich and Eros: Wilhelm Reich's Theory of the Life Energy, Simon & Schuster.
  • Mann, Edward & Hoffman (ed.) (1980). The Man Who Dreamed of Tomorrow: A Conceptual Biography of Wilhelm Reich, J.P. Tarcher, 1980.
  • Martin, Jim (2000). Wilhelm Reich and the Cold War, Flatland Books.
  • Meyerowitz, Jacob (1994). Before the Beginning of Time, rRp Publishers.
  • Ollendorff, Ilse. (1969). Wilhelm Reich: A Personal Biography, St. Martin's Press.
  • Raknes, Ola (1970). Wilhelm Reich and Orgonomy, St. Martin's Press.
  • Reich, Peter (1973). A Book of Dreams, Harper & Row.
  • Ritter, Paul (ed.) (1958). Wilhelm Reich Memorial Volume, Ritter Press.
  • Sharaf Myron : Fury on Earth, 1983
  • Senf, Bernd (1996). Die Wiederentdeckung des Lebendigen (The Rediscovery of the Living), Zweitausendeins Verlag.
  • Wilson, Robert Anton
    Robert Anton Wilson
    Robert Anton Wilson , known to friends as "Bob", was an American author and polymath who became at various times a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic...

     (1998). Wilhelm Reich in Hell, Aires Press.
  • Turner, Christopher (2011). Adventures in the Orgasmatron: How the Sexual Revolution came to America, Farrar, Straus & Giroux
  • Wyckoff, James (1973). Wilhelm Reich: Life Force Explorer, Fawcett.
  • -------
  • Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust home page
  • Man's Right to Know: The Story of Wilhelm Reich, Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust (video), includes footage of Reich.
  • Reich's FBI file Also see here.
  • Los Orgones, Argentinian site of Orgonomy
  • Bibliography on Orgonomy, a full listing of scholarly works on Wilhelm Reich
  • Orgone Biophysical Research Laboratory
  • PORE, Public Orgonomic Research Exchange (Includes a Biography (Timeline) of Wilhelm Reich and his Orgonomic Research)
  • The American College of Orgonomy
  • Wilhelm Reich Gesellschaft
  • Wilhelm Reich Orgon Institut Deutschland
  • Wilhelm Reich Akademie
  • Reichian therapy.
  • Works by Wilhelm Reich


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.


External links