Full scale biographies and critiques will someday be written about Wilhelm Reich. He led a full life and one whose importance will only gradually dawn on people of the world. He had three marriages and three children, lived in six countries, and accumulated an unequalled knowledge and understanding of living and natural functions. He became proficient in, and increased the knowledge of, important fields of human endeavor, including psychology, sociology, religion, chemistry, agriculture, meteorology, astronomy, engineering, painting, sculpture, and music, and was a noted author. In his last years, he studied law. Besides this, he originated and developed a new science, orgonomy, the science of the functional laws of cosmic energy, and a new way of thinking which he called "functionalism." The guiding principle of functionalism is the identity of variations in their common functioning principle. He left over one hundred thousand pages of manuscript, most of which has not yet been published, although about twenty books and over one hundred articles have been. Here I wish to give only a thumbnail sketch of his life and work, with but a few excerpts from each.
Wilhelm Reich was born in the easternmost part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the German Ukraine on March 24, 1897. His parents were well-to-do farmers who had about one thousand acres of land. His early years were spent on the farm with a private tutor, and very early he became interested in, and familiar with, the life process of both plants and animals and especially the reproduction of life. He had many collections of insects which he studied under the direction of his tutor. His mother died when he was eleven, and there seems little doubt that her death to a great extent influenced his future thinking. His father died when he was seventeen, and he ran the farm for a year, until it was destroyed by the Russians in 1915. This without interrupting his school work. He then joined the Austrian Army and served as a lieutenant at the Italian front until the end of the war. He had a brother two years younger who died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-two following World War I.
Returning from the war in 1918, he began to study medicine at the University of Vienna and supported himself by tutoring other students. During this time, he organized a seminar on sexology. He soon became interested in Freud and psychoanalysis, and, after a short training analysis by Paul Ferdern, he became a practicing analyst and a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, two years before his graduation in medicine in 1922.
Reich's brilliance as an analyst and author of numerous important articles on psychoanalysis caused Freud to select him as a first assistant physician when Freud organized the Psychoanalytic-Polyclinic in Vienna in 1922. During these years, Reich married and subsequently had two daughters.
In 1924, he was appointed to the teaching staff of the Psychoanalytic Institute and conducted seminars both there and at the clinic. He set about particularly to study the cause of psychoanalytic failures. He moved down from behind the couch to sit beside the patient and look at him and allow the patient to see him. He thus made contact with the individual behind the neurosis he was treating. He repeatedly came up against resistances of the patient. Resistance was not new, but handling it was not well understood; especially latent resistance, which was frequently not even recognized. Previously, the transference had been used to overcome resistance and was thus all-important. Reich attacked the resistance directly by pointing out that the patient was resistant and how he was showing it. That is, he described the attitudes of the patient, and he handled each new resistance as it appeared. Co-workers argued against such tactics, but Reich kept on and found that, as resistances were dissolved, painful material at the root of the neurosis spontaneously began to appear in logical order until basic conflicts were met. When these resistances were overcome, the patient showed a great change both in his attitudes and his functioning, and eventually was capable of true positive transference. He thus demonstrated that the former positive transference, was actually a latent resistance designed to avoid painful material. Reich finally concluded that there was no such thing as real positive transference early in therapy. When resistances were analyzed, the character began to change, showing that not only were symptoms evidence of neurosis but that the character itself was neurotic. This was a new concept of character neurosis, and Reich called this method character analysis. By this means, he solved the problems of masochism and proved that the idea of the death instinct was a fallacy. It was not that the masochist did not want to get well because of a biological death instinct, but, rather, that his tolerance of expansion and movement interfered.
A study of patients cured and not cured, regardless of the extent of the analysis, revealed consistently that the former had developed a satisfactory sexual life, while the later had not. This brought into focus the need for regulating the organism's energy. In order to cure the patient, libido stasis had to be overcome. Sexual activity in itself did not guarantee this, but, rather, gratification in the sexual act. Reich called this capacity for gratification "orgastic potency." Previously, sexual problems were considered only symptoms and not the core of the neurosis, and erective potency was believed to be evidence of adequate sexual functioning. Some psychiatrists still insist there are neurotics with normal sexual lives. Establishment of orgastic potency, however, brought about very definite changes in the individual which are not properly recognized or understood by most psychiatrists, even today. The recognition of orgastic potency was a crucial finding. Such potency signifies ability to discharge all the excess energy and thus maintain a stabilized energy level in the organism. This process of energy metabolism takes place in a four-beat rhythm of tension, charge, discharge, and relaxation, which Reich called "the orgasm formula." This confronts one immediately with another major factor: the libido must be more than a psychic concept. It must be a real energy. Since neuroses exist only on repressed excess energy or stasis, a person who develops truly adequate sexual release cannot maintain a neurosis. Moreover, he presents certain basic features. His attitudes toward society change. Many social mores become incomprehensible. For example, living with a mate one does not love, merely because the law says you are married; the insistence on faithfulness out of duty. He has morals, true, but they are concerned with different values: he desires sex only with one whom he loves; promiscuity is uninteresting; pornography is distasteful; tolerance is felt toward perversion and intolerance toward the unbending attitude of society. He becomes self-regulating.
Furthermore, certain other changes occur. His face becomes relaxed and expressive. His body loses its stiffness and appears more alive. He becomes able to give freely and react spontaneously to situations. What has made this change? His body becomes relaxed where, formerly, it remained rigid through muscular contraction as a defense against feeling and giving. The neurosis had been anchored in this rigidity, this armor which produced and maintained the character, whose dissolution produces the orgasm reflex, the ability of the organism to yield to its functioning. With this finding came the understanding of character.
Thus Reich made three major discoveries which opened a vast opportunity for understanding human functioning and whose value cannot be overestimated: the reality of the libido (it is a flow of energy), the function of the orgasm (it regulates the flow of energy), and the muscular armor (it prevents regulation of energy). The distinction between a satisfactory sexual life and an unsatisfactory sexual life and their separate effects on the organism required serious study. What was the difference between satisfaction and mere sexual expression, that the organism could remain healthy even though analytically a patient's therapy had not been completed, while those with thorough analysis remained untouched where they had not accomplished satisfaction in sex? Somehow, this satisfaction drained off the neurosis, so ideas or complexes could no longer be considered the important factor. One was dealing with physiology, not just concepts; nor was it just a matter of expression of the sexual substance, since ejaculation occurred in unsatisfactory experiences. The determining factor in satisfaction was the experiencing of pleasure in the act.
The function of the sexual act seemed to be primarily for the purpose of maintaining an economic energy level in the organism. This did not occur adequately unless anxiety was absent and the organism could surrender completely to its pleasurable sensations. With surrender, the act ended with total convulsions of the body and momentary loss of consciousness known as the orgastic convulsion or orgasm.
Reich paused to ask why such a mechanism should be necessary. Why doesn't the body just use up its energy? In the normal course of events, more energy is built up than can be used. This is like a bank account for emergency situations. During such emergencies as battle, worry, or exhausting work, this excess energy is essentially used up, and the organism is asexual. However, ordinarily, energy would keep piling up, so that either the organism would have to grow continually or eventually burst unless some mechanism were present to discharge it after it reached a certain level. This level is known as the lumination point and, in the healthy individual, is felt as sexual excitement. Where excitation is blocked, the level of excitation is felt as tension or restlessness or other discomfort. This discharge of energy is necessary at more or less regular intervals depending on other mechanisms of handling energy (work, worry, growth, etc.). One remembers, here, Freud's concept of sublimation. Sublimation is effective to a very limited extent in preventing stasis.
Now, what happens when one is taught that sex is forbidden, and this avenue of release is blocked? Energy builds up to the point of sexual excitement, but the individual finds himself confronted with the necessity of holding back. He pulls back his pelvis, he tightens the muscles of his thighs and buttocks, he holds his breath and clenches his teeth and does not allow himself to look at anything that would disturb his resolve. Eventually he loses his sensation of sexual desire but finds his body tight from tensed muscles. He is armored. This process may continue until all the muscles of his body are involved, and still the energy increases. Eventually, the energy overflows in the form of neurotic symptoms. This process is started at birth because of the universal anti-sexual attitude of society, so that few people grow up as nature intended, and the average person is not healthy even though he may not have reached the stage of having overt symptoms. The average person's sexual life, although inadequate to release all the built-up tension, does release part of it each time and so allows many people to function without development of overt symptoms.
From the onset, Reich was impressed by the energy concept of functioning and never lost sight of it. In 1927, The Function of the Orgasm, his first major book, was published, covering what he had discovered thus far. In 1928, he became vice director of the clinic and continued to report his findings. Again, Reich asked, why is all the repression of humans necessary? Why is it so universal? This question was now so easy to answer because no one could know how or why it all started, but one finding was consistent. Every patient under therapy reacted with terror when he reached the end phase where all armor was dissolved and he was confronted with the necessity of surrendering to his bodily sensations. His body had been so accustomed to holding still, that it could not tolerate free movement. Stillness (immobility, unchangingness) was safe. It was something to cling to, to save one from destruction, like God. God was unchanging, the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yet stillness is not satisfying and never can be, for deep within man is a stirring always calling for expression.
After 1928, Reich gradually became more and more concerned with the social causation of the neuroses. He organized mental hygiene clinics and sex counseling for the youth. Recognizing a need for a change in our social mores, he joined liberal and socialistic groups, at that time believing them to sincerely stand for social reform. Freud became uneasy about this social crusading and mixing analysis with politics, and also about Reich's ideas opposing the death instinct theory, and a very close friendship began to cool.
In 1930, Reich went to Berlin and joined the Communist Party, leaving his family in Vienna and effecting a permanent separation, since his wife disagreed with his views. He felt that, if Karl Marx's concept of social economy could be combined with freedom from sexual taboos, much of the misery of the world could be relieved. He organized and assumed charge of mental hygiene clinics disseminating sexual information, and continued to extend his ideas of social reform. However, his ideas and teaching disagreed with the Party line, and he was expelled from the Party in 1933. He later became one of its most unrelenting opponents.
In this year, the first edition of Character Analysis, a classic on the understanding of character, and The Mass Psychology of Fascism, which shows the characterological structure behind fascism, were published. In 1933, with the rise of Hitler, Reich left Germany and went to Denmark but soon had to flee to Sweden because of Nazi pressure. Sweden, too, soon expelled him, and, in 1934, he went to Oslo, Norway, on an invitation from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Oslo. In 1936, he published The Sexual Revolution. During all these years, he continued to extend his theory and therapy of the emotional problems. In Oslo, he continued his research, studying the bioelectric nature of pleasure and anxiety and enigma of the origin of life. Reich was particularly concerned with what produced the muscular contraction and held it. Investigation led to the realm of the vegetative nervous system and the basic antithesis of vegetative functioning. Excitation of the sympathetic nervous system causes contraction, which is felt as anxiety. Paraympathetic excitation causes expansion, which is felt as pleasure. Chronic sympatheticatonia caused and maintained the armor. Pleasure, or expansion, is felt in the skin. Reich believed that in pleasure there was an electrical charge at the skin surface, and he set about to investigate. He used a galvanometer and found that such was the case. The greater the pleasure, the higher the charge which showed on the galvanometer. Also, in unpleasurable situations, the charge disappeared. Here was concrete evidence of a real energy. Reich called it "bioelectric energy." Later, he showed that this energy radiated out beyond the skin surface as an energy field. In a satisfactory sexual experience, this energy was somehow discharged, relieving stasis in the organism. Where anxiety was present, no charge reached the skin, and discharge could not occur. The genital could thus be looked upon as a specialized organ of the skin capable of discharging energy. With these findings, Reich left the psychic realm of psychoanalysis and entered the realm of biophysics, where he found a new concept of health. That concept was based on the energy metabolism of charge and discharge which Reich called "sex economy." He improved his therapy by working on the muscular armor directly and releasing the pent-up emotions. He called this character-analytic vegetotherapy and found that it was faster and more thorough than psychoanalysis or even character analysis, and effective in a greater number of patients.
To research into the origin of life, he studied the breakdown of food, reasoning that from food came the energy that supported life. Employing sterilization against contamination, he studied the disintegration under a magnification of 2000-3000x. He found that it broke down into tiny luminating globules which moved about freely and could be cultured. When germs or cancer cells were brought near them, the germs and cells were paralyzed and killed. These globules seemed to be an intermediate stage between the living and the non-living. Reich called them "bions". Bions are tiny blobs of energy held in a membrane and can be created from anything that can be made to swell and break down; from sand, coal, earth, and from living tissue. Reich was not the first to discover bions, nor was he the first to study them. H. Charlton Bastian, a contemporary of Pasteur, wrote about them in a book called The Beginnings of Life and argued that they were the origin of germs and disease. The world accepted Pasteur's view that germs were immutable and unchanging. But Bastian was closer to the truth. Reich did not learn of Bastian's work until several years later.
Reich studied bions all one winter (1939) in his basement laboratory and noticed that he began to tan and that his eyes burned. The eye condition, produced from looking through the microscope, developed into a conjunctivitis. It became obvious that bions must emit a radiation. He discovered that metal instruments near the bion cultures showed a charge on the electroscope. One day, he discovered that a pair of rubber gloves also had become highly charged. He remembered the Curies and radium, and he became frightened. What rays did they emit, these tiny things that showed such an effect? He tried to protect himself from them by building a metal-lined box to contain the radiation. Much to his surprise, the effect was much greater inside the box, and there were observable effects of the radiation outside of the box, also. There seemed to be no defense from this energy. It seemed to be everywhere; but as time passed and he did not appear harmed, he lost his fear and increased his research. He decided this was released energy that had first come from the sun. Later, he identified it as free in the atmosphere. He found it everywhere, in blood that was allowed to disintegrate, in tissue, and in grass. He identified it as the same energy he found at the skin surface and renamed it "life energy" or "orgone energy" from "organism" or "orgasm". Eventually, he concluded this was cosmic, primordial energy from which all matter, animate and inanimate, came: the ether man has discussed for ages. Reich considered this his greatest discovery following the discovery of the orgastic pleasure contraction. His later years were spent in studying this energy and were, thus, years spent in research in orgone physics.
Reich succeeded in developing protozoa from bions, and this gave him the idea that cancer might develop similarly. Concentrating on cancer research, he produced a motion picture film of cancer cells developing from the breakdown of living tissue and demonstrated cancer to be a biopathy resulting from sexual repression, with resignation and dying of the organism. Through these and other studies, he identified the specific life energy, which he called "orgone" (organism) energy.
In 1938, he published Die Bione and, in 1939, Bion Experiments on the Cancer Problem. A group of psychiatrists at the University of Oslo became very antagonistic toward his work and started a newspaper campaign against him. Reich maintained silence throughout, concentrating on his research. The situation, however, became untenable, and, in 1939, Reich accepted an invitation to come to America and lecture on medical psychology at The New School for Social Research in New York City. He lectured there for two years. On December 20, 1939, he was married a second time, to Ilse Ollendorff, who became a faithful assistant in his work, continuing that work even after their divorce in 1951. They had one son, Peter, born in 1944. Reich purchased a home in Forest Hills, New York, and it was here that he founded the Orgone Institute.
As "emotions" more and more came to mean to him the manifestations of a tangible bioenergy, and "character" to mean simply specific blockings of the flow of energy, he found that it was possible to change character directly by freeing biological energy, rather than indirectly through the use of psychological techniques. His therapy thus came to be called medical orgone therapy. Nevertheless, the psychological aspect was not ignored; its importance depended on the individual case. In some cases, character analysis is still the major approach; in others, it is largely unnecessary, and verbal communication, consisting of education, understanding of goals, and discussion of problems and resistances, suffices.
This concentration on freeing bioenergy by dissolving the muscular armor led to an understanding of the manner in which an organism frees itself from its restrictions and, conversely, how it develops its armor in the first place. Reich was able finally, in 1947, to identify seven segments in the organism, each largely independent of the others but at the same time, interdependent for unitary functioning. The seven segments are ocular, cervical, thoracic, diaphragmatic, abdominal, and pelvic. He also determined the importance of the eye segment in schizophrenia and epilepsy, which offered a rational therapeutic approach and hope for many patients who had previously been considered untreatable.
Reich went on to train students and to continue his research on cancer and orgone energy, particularly experimenting with the orgone energy accumulator (ORAC) on animals and humans. The ORAC was a six-sided box, consisting of alternate layers of organic material and metal, which he had experimentally determined produced a concentration of orgone energy. (One remembers, here, the construction of an atomic pile with alternate layers of carbon and uranium, as well as the Leyden jar, which is simply a jar lined with tinfoil). It was in 1940 that Reich discovered orgone energy in the atmosphere and experimented with the orgone energy accumulator, testing it with an electroscope and a thermometer and by observing the energy activity with the magnifying glass and a fluorescent screen. He could feel with his hands the rays which came from the metal walls, and his body felt warm and tingled as he sat in the box, while, over a period of time, his skin tanned. He also felt more vigorous and was not subject to colds. Blood tests showed an increase in his red cells which he had developed with wider energy fields and took longer to disintegrate. He experimented with both healthy and cancer mice, the latter living definitely longer than the control mice, which were not kept in the accumulator. Experimenting with different metals, he found that an ORAC lined with aluminum caused a loss of fur when used on mice, while a lining of iron gave the best results, probably because iron is contained in the body. Accumulator experiments with humans showed that the pain of burns was eliminated or radically diminished in a few minutes, and the healing took place quickly, without scar; skin conditions would either clear up or be made worse, depending on the type; cancer cases did not develop anemia, and the patient's blood improved. In all cases, the results seemed to be due to a building up of energy in the organism. Where the energy was already high, patients could not tolerate the accumulator; depressed patients were helped in rebuilding their energy.
Dr. Theodore P. Wolfe, who had gone to Norway to study under Reich and was instrumental in persuading him to come to America, became this translator, and Reich's books began to appear in English, published by the Orgone Institute Press. Journals were published regularly with reports of current work: The International Journal of Sex-Economy and Orgone Research from 1941 to 1945, and the Orgone Energy Bulletin from 1945 top 1953.
In 1945, Reich performed an experimental investigation of primary biogenesis, which he called "Experiment XX." He boiled screened garden soil for one hour, or autoclaved it at fifteen pounds pressure for a half-hour, and then filtered the water from the boiled soil. The yellowish liquid was then sealed in vials and frozen in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator. Freezing produced a concentration of the yellow in the center of the ice after a week, and upon thawing at this time, white and brown plasmatic flakes appeared. The flakes increased markedly in two to three weeks, and microscopic study revealed that they increased both by adding substance and by division. In a few more weeks, they changed to strongly radiating bionous heaps, and, kept sterile, the spherical bions developed into bean-shaped, immobile forms, which later became mobile protozoa. Reich was thus able to demonstrate that living protozoa forms could develop from mass-free orgone energy which was released from the soil by the boiling.
In 1947, he discovered the motor force of orgone energy, and built and successfully ran an orgone energy motor the following year. The energy was obtained by the excitation of an orgone energy accumulator by ½ volt of electricity to run a 25-volt motor. Since energy could not be stored, the motor would not work in damp weather. Research in this area has not continued, but it seems likely that someday a similar motor will be used for powering space ships, and, probably all other motored devices since, as Reich found, it ran much faster, more smoothly and noiselessly than conventional ones. It was also in 1947 that Reich discovered the emotional plague of man, a disease of bioenergetic equilibrium.
In the same year of 1947, following a vicious smear article in the New Republic by one Mildred Edie Brady, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began an investigation of the orgone energy accumulator. The Brady article had led them to believe that Reich was conducting a sex racket, and they insisted that there must be pornographic literature, also. Since they were uninterested in scientific information about the accumulator, Reich's full cooperation, which had formerly been freely extended, had to be withdrawn, and the investigation bogged down, lacking any evidence against the accumulator. (1)
Reich continued his work quietly. He had by this time (1947) trained several physicians in psychiatric orgone therapy and had many workers in other fields of orgonomy: physics, biology, education, and social work. He conducted seminars and laboratory courses. The Cancer Biopathy was published in 1948; and I succeeded in persuading him to make Listen, Little Man available to the public, a work which was not originally written for publication.
The year 1948 also saw Reich succeed in producing a lumination of concentrated orgone energy in a vacuum tube, demonstrating that orgone energy, which could exist in a vacuum, could exist in space.
In the same year, The American Association for Medical Orgonomy was formed, and the first International Congress of Orgonomy was held at Orgonon, Reich's headquarters in Rangeley, Maine. In 1949, Reich had moved from Forest Hills to remain the year round in Orgonon. In the same year, he formed The William Reich Foundation.
In 1951, Ether, God and Devil, his first book on the method of orgonomic functionalism, Cosmic Superimposition, and a monograph on "The Orgone Energy Accumulator" were published. Cosmic Superimposition was based on the hypothesis that the cosmic superimposition of two energy systems is the basis of hurricanes, galaxy formations, the aurora borealis, and gravity. Reich was by this time thinking and writing in English. This year, he initiated the Oranur Experiment to ascertain whether orgone energy could successfully combat nuclear radiation.
On January 5, 1951, Reich put 1 mg. of radium, still in its lead container, into a 20-fold accumulator in a metal-lined room. He left it there for five hours. This was repeated daily for a week, and, on the last day, it was left in for only one half-hour. The results ware described in his The Oranur Experiment, First Report (1947-1951), (an account since burned by the Food and Drug Administration). I know what happened. I was there. The count on the Geiger counter went up alarmingly and finally jammed. The building and atmosphere around it glowed at night. One physician went into shock and nearly lost her life when she put her head in a metal cabinet in the laboratory. The mice died, and a peculiar, sickening, acrid odor pervaded the atmosphere while clouds hung over the area constantly. Reich fell ill and hovered between life and death for weeks. The whole area became uninhabitable. Although the radium was finally removed to a place eleven miles away, the process did not let up. I am confident that science will one day discover that this type of reaction accounts for the radioactive layer about our atmosphere (The Van Allen Belt) due to cosmic rays (perhaps X-rays from the sun) meeting the earth's energy envelope.
Besides near disaster and disease, this experiment brought about the discovery of a new type of energy (actually already matter since it was visible) which Reich called "deadly orgone" or "DOR." This resulted from the effect of nuclear radiation on orgone energy. DOR is black, lusterless, toxic, carries a high charge, and is oxygen and water-hungry. It appears as black specks in the atmosphere, as though someone had sprinkled the air with black pepper. One can clearly see the sun through it, but photographs appear as though they were taken in shadow. Leaves droop and lose their luster, birds and insects become quiet, and even the air is still. Humans become uncomfortable, the skin blue, mouth parched, and the scalp tight, causing headache and nausea. Reich called this "DOR sickness." The blackening effects of DOR on rocks led to considerable research into the chemistry of the process, designated preatomic chemistry by Reich, and the discovery of melanor, orite, brownite and orene, all of which are described in the later orgonomic journals.
Early in 1952, to combat DOR, Reich devised a cloudbuster consisting principally of hollow pipes grounded in water, which was able to draw this energy out of the atmosphere into water. This led to an interest in weather, and he experimented with both the production and prevention of rain. On two occasions, his weather work was televised, and once, in 1953, he produced rain for a group of Maine farmers whose crops were dying because of drought. They had agreed to pay him if he produced rain within a prescribed time, and did so when he achieved this. In the early days of cloudbusting, Reich used five pipes, two above the other three. On one occasion, I saw him point the cloudbuster at a heavy cloud, and in a few moments, five holes appeared in this cloud, two above, and three below. I was convinced. Thinking a bit further, Reich decided that this principle might be of value in treating neuroses, to make energy move. He modified the cloudbuster for use on humans and called it a "medical DOR-buster." Where energy is stuck in muscular contraction, it can be moved by use of the medical DOR-buster, and, as the holding gives, the emotion pours out. It can be a dangerous tool if used irresponsibly. Fantastic? Yes. Even when you see it work you scarcely believe it; it seems too simple, too simple for science to accept, but this was so of the orgone accumulator, as well. I have seen both work effectively on many occasions, but only time can bring acceptance; now they are under suspicion and looked upon as quackery.
Reich's discovery of armor and orgasm anxiety explained many enigmas of human functioning, such as mysticism and mechanistic thinking. One of the most important of these enigmas he termed "emotional plague." This is the character structure that consistently blocks all progress towards natural functioning. No one is completely free of this malady, but there are certain persons who function essentially as emotional pests. These individuals are generally capable, intelligent, and energetic, but they are anti-sexual and prone to attain positions of authority where they can dictate rules of living; they are the bulwarks of society. They cannot tolerate natural functioning because it creates an intolerable longing in them, so their prime purpose in life is to place restrictions on any natural living. At the same time, they rationalize their behavior so very well that it is accepted as being for the common good.
As a specific example of the aforementioned, all of Reich's books were banned by the injunction brought against him, and all the orgonomic periodicals were burned, with the given reason that they represented labeling for the orgone energy accumulator; to mention orgone energy was forbidden because it was supposed not to exist. Assuming for a moment that orgone energy does not exist, one would have to ask why the ban included such volumes as Character Analysis, The Sexual Revolution, and The Mass Psychology of Fascism, all of which were written before the discovery of orgone energy. We begin to understand that there must be some other reason than the given motive for the book-banning, a hidden purpose which must never be exposed. The same hidden purpose was responsible for the persecution of people to maintain the beliefs that the world was flat, that the sun revolved around the earth, that evolution was against the ideas of God, and that children were asexual. Any finding that genuinely increases the knowledge of natural functioning and man's relationship to the cosmos is anathema and comes to acceptance only after very many bitter years of struggle and persecution.
In 1953, The Emotional Plague of Mankind, consisting of two volumes, The Murder of Christ and People in Trouble, was published. The years between 1945 and 1953 had been filled with new findings, much work, and concern with many problems: new concepts of medicine, physics, and mathematics, and a growing understanding of cosmic functions and gravity, along with the almost catastrophic events precipitated by the oranur reaction. In spite of all this, Reich found time to produce many beautiful paintings and some sculpture, and to compose music.
More ominous to Reich than any of the dangers of natural research as the constantly threatening black cloud the emotional plague of mankind. It was, therefore, no coincidence that he published the two aforementioned volumes in 1953. There were persistent rumors of a "busy, pudgy little man," who had twice failed his psychiatric boards, constantly demanding that the APA "do something" about Reich and "all that orgone stuff", and this is at a time when that august body was begging for "new ideas in psychiatry however fantastic they might be . . . " Since 1946, this little man had been frightened of Reich's work and he eventually persuaded the APA to act, which it did by instigating a reactivation of the Food and Drug Administration's investigation with its support.
The culmination of this plague activity occurred on February 20, 1954, in the form of a complaint issued through the United States District Court at Portland, Maine, charging that the orgone energy accumulator was a fraud, that orgone energy did not exist, and that all the literature on the orgonomy was merely labeling for the sale of the accumulator. Reich was stunned and for three days could not act. Eventually, he sent his Response to Judge Clifford, contending that the law could not decide scientific matters and affirming his right through common law to continue his basic research. When he asked my opinion, I told him that I had little faith that an American judge would either understand or accept his response, since the court was concerned only with the technical question of his right to distribute the orgone energy accumulator (2) and this would have to be defended in court. Reich argued correctly that the court should protect sincere scientists from being attacked; he could not grasp that the court, within our present legal structure, had no way of knowing who was sincere except by testimony in court. He, therefore, refused to allow a court of law to judge his scientific work, a shocking, all-inclusive, uncontested injunction was issued against him on March 19. Without the necessity of proof, the Food and Drug Administration succeeded in having a federal court brand the accumulator a fraud, with the added contention that orgone energy does not exist, and the proscription that all literature that even mentioned orgone energy should be burned. It became illegal to dispense any information about the orgone energy accumulator. This injunction altered no scientific facts, but did cast an official stigma on the entire field of orgonomy. The emotional plague nature of the proceedings is evident in the fact that neither the court nor the Food and Drug Administration were really interested in learning about anything in favor of Reich's work, since no attempt was made to obtain facts from Reich or his co-workers, and petition by fourteen physicians to present the case for orgonomy was refused by the court. Reich's bitterness over these events was expressed in an article he wrote, The Modju Injuncta, laden with his feelings of abandonment and bitterness.
However, Reich had little time to think about himself, and he notified the court that he would resume his activities. He had become concerned about the rapid increase in development of desert conditions in the United States and other parts of the world, which he believed was due to an increase of DOR in the atmosphere, partly precipitated by the nuclear testing, but mainly coming in from outer space. Reports of space ships interested him; he had observed several sightings at Orgonon. DOR conditions increased following each sighting, and he concluded that the space ships were responsible. In October, 1954, he went to Tucson, Arizona, with two cloudbusters to ascertain what he could do to reverse the desert process, remaining there until April, 1955. His account is recorded in his Second Oranur Report entitled Contact with Space, published in 1957. This volume must be read for a fuller understanding of the project, but I shall present three observations which I made personally.
I was making a motion picture film of Reich's work in Arizona and soon learned the necessity of using a light meter. Although the sun appeared very bright and hot, the light meter indicated a much wider shutter opening than one would judge necessary. One morning, the light meter indicated a shutter setting of 8. At this point, Reich began to draw with the cloudbuster. With no other change in weather conditions, I checked the light meter after ten minutes and I found a shutter opening indication of only 11. One other change was noticed. After the drawing, although there was actually more light, the sun did not seem so glareful or hot; DOR had absorbed the light and produced both the glare and heat.
On another occasion, we were watching the maneuvers of a military jet place which left a long, unbroken vapor trail. Ahead of it, we observed an area of DOR. At the moment that the jet entered the DOR, the vapor trail disappeared abruptly; DOR had absorbed the moisture, so no trail appeared.
My final observation had to do with space ships. None has been captured as yet, and many people still believe that they do not exist. I shall merely record here what seven of us, besides Reich, saw. At about 9:00 P.M. one evening, Reich pointed to a very bright star (3) in the southwest, about 40 degrees above the horizon. It was unusual in that it was brighter than I had ever seen Venus to be. Also, it alternated in color regularly in a sequence of red, blue, green, orange, yellow and white, then back to red. We watched it for several minutes and then observed it through a 3-inch refracting telescope where it appeared larger but still merely as a body of light. Lining up with stationary objects, we found that it was moving slowly in a northeasterly direction and changing its position gradually with relation to other stars. Reich then trained the cloudbuster on it and after three or four minutes, the red color no longer appeared. This was followed by the successive non-appearance of the blue, green, orange, and yellow colors. Now all that remained was the white, which grew dimmer and dimmer until we could no longer see it. These were my observations; interpret them as you will.
By 1954, Reich had solved many problems of cosmic functioning and was nearing the solution of negative gravity. Gravity, he found, was due to the reaction of two energy streams; actually, a manifestation of superimposition.
In the meantime, after being assured by the federal court that the injunctions applied only to Reich, Dr. Michael Silvert assumed charge of the Orgone Institute Press and distribution of accumulators. CORE (Cosmic Orgone Engineering) replaced the Orgone Energy Bulletin as the official periodical and was published in 1954 and 1955.
Reich returned to Orgonon in May, 1955, and that summer held his last conference, which was based on the medical use of the DOR-buster, a modification of the cloudbuster. At this seminar, he met Aurora Karrer, a medical technician from Washington, D.C., who became his third wife and gave him comfort and loyal support in his last years. In the fall, he moved to Washington where he spent the next two winters. He had but little peace and quiet left in which to enjoy life. The Food and Drug Administration was busy charging him and Silvert with contempt of the injunction; he was being followed everywhere; his telephone was tapped and he received numerous crank calls. He was unable to interest scientists in his weather and desert control methods since they contented themselves with old concepts of cloud-seeding and irrigation. Everywhere he was frustrated, needled, and accused. It amazed me constantly that he could still show serious concern for the welfare of his remaining co-workers and their families.
On July 26, 1955, official contempt charges were placed against Reich and Silvert, followed by criminal court proceedings. Both, although they consulted attorneys, decided to act as their own counselors. In court, Reich acted as defendant, defense counselor, accuser and teacher. Actually, Reich had not violated the injunction but believed that his trip to Arizona was a violation; his feeling of responsibility towards Silvert, whom he knew was really responsible for the contempt charges, caused him to share equal responsibility and, finally, to state in court that he was in violation of the injunction. Both were found guilty, with Reich receiving a two-year sentence, Silbert a year and a day. A $10,000 fine was imposed on the Wilhelm Reich Foundation. Reich stated openly that he would not survive his sentence. He knew that he suffered from a serious heart condition but had not told anyone; his structure could not survive imprisonment in Connecticut and was later transferred to the penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He died on November 3, 1957, one week before the date of his recommended release. While in prison, he had solved the final formula for negative gravity and had written his last book, which he called Creation. The manuscript mysteriously disappeared at the prison, and the formula died with Reich. He had planned to give the formula to his son the following week.
Wilhelm Reich was buried at Orgonon on November 6, 1957, following a simple ceremony conducted according to his written instruction. I gave the following brief oration:
Friends, we are here to say farewell, a last farewell, to Wilhelm Reich. Let us pause for a moment to appreciate the privilege, the incredible privilege, of having known him. 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 there killed him. We have witnessed it all, "The Murder of Christ." What poor words can I say that can either add to or clarify what he has done? His work is finished. He has earned his peace and has left a vast heritage for the peoples of this earth. We do not mourn him, but for ourselves, at our great loss. Let us take up the responsibility of his work and follow in the path he cleared for us. So be it.
At this point, I should like to offer a commentary on the controversy which developed concerning Reich's behavior in the final period of his life. Since 1939, when rumors that Reich was insane first started, they recurred from time to time mainly because that was the easiest defense against his work. His behavior in his last years, especially his attitude toward the court proceedings, revived and strengthened these rumors and even lent an air of some justification to them. The judge himself was doubtful and ordered a sanity test. The prison psychiatrist found him sane. Since Reich was sane, and of this there is no doubt, why did his behavior appear so erratic? I believe that this is easily explained. He was basically childlike and naïve, lacking sophistication of armored man; and he was frustrated. He thus reacted naturally, behavior not understood by armored society. Fighting desperately for his work, and even more so for suffering humanity, he was frustrated on all sides. He could break through nowhere, and yet he had so much to give to the world that he found himself becoming more and more reckless, a recklessness born of despair. His statement in court that he was guilty of violating the injunction was an example of his recklessness. The whole world seemed against him, which in fact it was, and the world called him paranoid by projection. Many aspects of this later period were confusing and caused a great deal of controversy even amount Reich's co-workers. The question that challenged everyone, even Reich himself, was whether he had conducted the case correctly and rationally. This question revolved chiefly around five points:
1. Should Reich have answered the complaint by appearance in court and fought a legal battle to prevent a rather inevitable injunction by default?
2. Was there really a well-organized, conscious conspiracy to destroy orgonomy, conducted from Moscow?
3. Were any departments and/or individuals in our government or the Air Force aware of the importance of Reich's work and secretly supporting him behind the scenes?
4. Was there, in fact, a national emergency of a kind requiring secrecy, which Reich maintained there was, and a need to defy the injunction?
5. Did Reich consciously or unconsciously martyr himself in identification with Christ?
There were those who were more certain of answers to the first four questions than was Reich himself. The first they would have answered was a decided "No;" the following three with as strong an affirmative. Another group would have felt serious doubt of the validity of such answers. Reich was at this time surrounded principally by the first group. Feelings ran high, and those who dared express doubt were accused of disloyalty and even conspiracy against Reich. At one time or another, Reich made personal attacks on each of his co-workers, although in many cases he would later change his opinion. Only the perspective of history may reveal all the facts, and discussion of these issues at this time must be undertaken with the acknowledgment that the final answers cannot now be given. My purpose is merely to throw whatever light I can upon this most misunderstood period of Reich's life, from February, 1954, to November, 1957.
In the first place, had we been living in a perfectly rational world, all these tragic events would not have occurred. It was true that The Wilhelm Reich Foundation and the Orgone Institute were renting and selling the orgone energy accumulator, a device that influenced health, and that, legally this was a concern of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We accept that they had those whom they considered experts test it and report presumably negative findings. Thus, legally, they were entitled to issue a complaint against Reich and The Wilhelm Reich Foundation. This complaint, in effect, charged Reich with being a fraud and challenged him to defend this accusation in court. Now, up until the issuance of the complaint, all the FDA investigation had been done in secrecy, by whom we still do not know. We do know that the Jackson Laboratories in Maine was one area of testing, but there were rumored to be many others. At the Jackson Laboratories, they found that cancer mice died sooner in an accumulator. The accumulator had been placed near an X-ray machine, an observation made by a student of orgonomy who happened to be working there at the time. Reich's Oranur Experiment had demonstrated that the death of the mice was to be expected under such circumstances, thus the FDA experiment actually confirmed Reich's work, even though it was officially reported as showing the accumulator's uselessness. Undoubtedly all of these tests were conducted in similar fashion by persons unfamiliar with Reich's work and methods, since there had been no contact between the testing laboratories and those physicians and laboratory workers familiar with the accumulator. One can rather obviously conclude that these experiments were done with bias concerning the fraudulence of the orgone energy accumulator, by mere virtue of the request of the FDA for the examination.
Under more rational circumstances, the FDA and any other interested parties (all medicine should have been an interested party) would have gone to Reich and asked him to show them his work and what evidence he had of the existence of orgone energy and its properties. They would have worked with him or under his direction until they were satisfied. If they had not been satisfied, they could have requested the accumulator remain a laboratory experiment until there was evidence enough for them to accept. Reich would have been more than willing to cooperate fully in this. However, from 1947 on, no serious effort was made to gain information from Reich or from physicians familiar with the accumulator. Even in the 1947 investigation, the FDA refused to listen to clinical findings and kept asking, "And what other literature do you have?" implying by their manner and their explicit questioning that a pornographic racket was connected with it. The FDA had apparently accepted Mildred Edie Brady's malicious article of 1947, mentioned previously as a factual and official estimation and was uninterested or unwilling to be shown otherwise. Actually, Brady was a free-lance writer with no scientific background and no real knowledge of Reich's work and the accumulator. She compensated for her ignorance with inference, distortion, and outright falsehoods. Unfortunately, even the esteemed Menninger Clinic accepted Brady's version without question or effort to obtain the facts, and put their official seal of approval on her slanderous article by republishing it in the clinic's official bulletin. Also, the FDA refused to release their findings and sources in spite of many requests to do so. This was hardly a scientific attitude. Especially in view of the fact that all of Reich's findings were published and had been sent to agencies and individuals who should have been interested, such as the United States Public Health Service. One can only conclude that the FDA investigation was not a bona fide, scientific endeavor to arrive at facts, but, rather, a biased design to discredit and destroy Reich's work on orgone energy. Significantly, the injunction forbade the use of the accumulator on animals as well as humans. If the accumulator were completely useless, as the FDA claimed, why the prohibition on the experimental use on animals? Might someone have discovered that it did work?
Now arise the problems as to how to meet such an attack and what was really behind it. This brings us to the question of whether Reich should have fought the complaint in court. Reich, himself, vacillated over this question. Arguments in favor of appearing in court were:
1. The burden of proof rested on the FDA.
2. Reich could insist on demonstrating his experiments to the jury.
3. There were a large number of qualified witnesses to testify to the validity of the orgone energy accumulator.
Arguments against appearing in court were:
1. It would mean the yielding of authority to a court of law in deciding matters of basic research.
2. There were good reasons for Reich's natural reluctance to become involved in legal technicalities.
3. There was uncertainty as to the extent of the conspiracy against him.
Every attorney consulted, except one, Mr. Charles Haydon, considered it a grave mistake not to appear. Mr. Haydon indicated that he could understand Reich's hesitancy in appearing and felt it rational not to appear. Reich attached himself to this attorney.
When Reich first received notice of the FDA complaint, he was completely unprepared and could not act for three days, so unexpected was this action. However, back in 1952, we had heard many reports (of which Reich was advised) that officers of the APA, including President Cameron, had stated that Reich was being investigated and would be exposed as a "quack." It was also at this time that FDA activity resumed with the questioning of patients. The FDA investigators even made an unannounced visit to Orgonon but were sent away when they admitted that they knew nothing about the accumulator. Reich refused to allow unqualified persons to judge the accumulator. At this time, I discussed the situation with an attorney, suggesting that Reich would be attacked again with regard to the accumulator. I acquainted the attorney with the fact that the accumulators were released by The Wilhelm Reich Foundation only on a physician's prescription, and that I had the responsibility to see to it that this was done in every case. The attorney advised notifying the FDA of this procedure and believed that this would be satisfactory to them. I had not yet discussed this with Reich, but the attorney wrote immediately to the FDA to arrange negotiations. He sent a copy of this letter to Reich, who was not particularly pleased over what he considered meddling into what he felt was strictly his affair. He felt that his conduct during the 1947 investigation had put a successful and permanent end to difficulties with the FDA. Therefore I canceled all further negotiations, and nothing more was done.
Nevertheless, I continued to be concerned, since the accumulator was the only technical point on which Reich could be attacked. He, himself, had always warned that anyone doing basic research must protect himself from attack on the grounds of legal technicalities, and it seemed that he was not making that mistake himself. He had also stated that frequently in fighting an enemy, one had to use the same method as the enemy, although it contaminated one to do so. Here the enemy was using secrecy and the law. Secrecy Reich could not tolerate; the law had no business deciding scientific matters, only science could do that.
After receiving the complaint, Reich notified me that he was not going to contest the action; that if the world did not want his work, it could do as it pleased. He felt that his responsibility was that of a scientist, making discoveries but not having to defend them in court. However, if the physicians wished to take any action, he said, they could. We, therefore, obtained an attorney and prepared to enter the case as "friends of the court." During preparations for this action, I received another call from Reich stating that he had decided to assume charge of the defense himself, and that the accumulators were, after all, his responsibility. He required that we drop our action, which we did.
It was shortly after this that Reich sent his Response to Judge Clifford and decided to rest his case on it, seriously expecting the judge to dismiss the case. The judge did have the authority to do this, but, undoubtedly upon pressure from the FDA, the Response was ignored, and Reich received a further notice of continued action by the court. At this point, Dr. Chester Raphael and I, accompanied by an attorney, went to Orgonon to renew our discussions with Reich concerning the physicians entering the case. Reich was adamant in his attitude that the accumulators were his responsibility and that we should not interfere. He did become interested, however, in the possibility of his appearing in court himself and discussed procedure with the attorney. The discussion was going smoothly until Dr. Silvert, who was present and opposed to Reich's appearance in court, asked defiantly, "And what happens to the truth in all this?" The attorney replied, "It comes out of all the embarrassment each side inflicts on the other." Ignoring the attorney's answer, Reich became very angry, stopped the discussion, paced the floor, and accused us of trying to entangle him in court action. His appearance in court was no longer considered, and we waited for the inevitable injunction. Reich still remained confident that the case would be dismissed and could not understand it when the injunction was issued. He had somehow trusted that his Response would be understood and accepted, and that laws would be passed protecting science and truth from pests who always tried to destroy them. On the other hand, in contradiction to his stated faith in American justice, a federal judge, and the understanding of the common man (his jurors), he had also expressed the opinion that he could never win in court in what he considered a "stacked" case. By this, he meant the impressive, though unqualified witnesses that the FDA would marshal to testify against the accumulator and influence the jury.
After the injunction was issued, Reich changed his mind again, deciding that the accumulators were in fact the physicians responsibility since they used them, not he. We petitioned to enter the case as affected parties, but it was too late. Our plea was denied on the grounds that the injunction was in personam, affecting only Reich, not the physicians. Of course, whether or not the injunction actually applied to the physicians, there was an obvious stigma implied which did affect us. However, while our case was being heard in the District Court and in Appeals, all action to carry out the injunction was halted. During this period, Reich notified the court he interpreted as consent and, with the passage of time, acquired a false sense of security; even believing that the case had been won. When reminded that he was only temporarily protected by our action, he could not believe it. Yet there must have been some awareness of the truth of our admonition, since, when some of us suggested not proceeding to the Supreme Court, which was believed to be a useless gesture, and saving the money for research instead, he accused us of wanting to expose him to attack.
Reich was insistent that our attorney expose the conspiracy behind the case. Here borders became hazy. Was there really a conspiracy and, if so, who was behind it? We did know that the American Psychiatric Association was actively supporting the FDA. The FDA later acknowledged this support. The New Jersey Neuro-Psychiatric Association had for several years been agitating to have Reich stopped, and it was largely through efforts of some of its members that the APA became active. The AMA also lent at least tacit support. Our first attorney had uncovered some evidence that the drug industry was involved, fearing that the accumulator might replace many drugs. (Subsequently there were scandals involving high officials of the FDA who were closely connected with the drug industry.) History is replete with examples of the persecution of pioneers and great discoverers by vested interests.
Were Moscow and Communism the real agitators behind all of this, using the FDA and the medical societies as tools; or was it simply the unconscious conspiracy of the emotional plague of man in general? Reich was never wholly certain, but he believed the former. He believed that Communists wished to steal his discoveries, while at the same time, discrediting and destroying him in this country. Communists never work openly, and the case contained many features typical of Communist procedure. Reich also leaned towards this view because of his faith in Americans and their sense of fair play, and he believed that Americans would not proceed in such a fashion except unknowingly, through influence from Moscow, i.e., the chain reaction resulting from triggering by Communists who are known to be adept at such practices.
The attack in 1947 was initiated by Mildred Brady, whom Reich had found to be sympathetic to the Soviet Union. Significantly, during the period of the trial, the FDA itself came under investigation and a number of its employees were discharged as Communists. Orgonomy and Communism are inimical. For a long time, Reich had been quite vocal in effectively exposing and denouncing the mechanisms of Red Fascism. The Soviet Embassy had ordered all of Reich's books, and Dr. Walter Hoppe of Tel Aviv reported treating a Russian who stated they had accumulators in some Russian hospitals. Furthermore, if we read The Communist Manual of Instructions for Psychopolitical Warfare, used for training Red agents abroad, we find a remarkable parallel to their techniques in Reich's case as follows:
It is a firm principal of Psychopolitics that the person to be destroyed must be involved at first or second hand in the stigma of insanity. . . .
Use the courts, use the judges, use the constitution of the country, sue the medical societies and its laws to further your ends.
One of the first and foremost missions of the psychopolitician is to make an attack upon communism synonymous with insanity. It should become the definition of insanity, of the paranoid variety, that, "A paranoid believes he is being attacked by communists."
The psychopolitician may well find himself under attack as an individual or a member of a group, the best defense is calling into question the sanity of the attacker.
Psychopoliticians should avoid murder and violence unless it is done within the safety of the institution. [Did Reich really die of his heart condition only a week before he was to have been released?]
Should any whisper or pamphlet against psychopolitical activities be published it should be laughed into scorn, branded as a hoax immediately and its perpetrator or publisher should be, at the first opportunity, branded insane.
Every chair of psychology in the United States is occupied by persons in our connection, or who can be influenced by persons in our connection. . . .
Now, let us appraise what was going on outside of court during these years of 1954-1957. Garbage was repeatedly strewn on Reich's lawn; air was let out of his tires; he received repeated telephone calls from anonymous people making remarks about the accumulator and then hanging up; he found microphones secreted in his radio set, and his garage mechanic discovered a small sending set under the dashboard of his car; the doors of his car were pried open, the locks broken; cars repeatedly ran back and forth in front of his place, and he was constantly followed. Reich remarked that if he revealed all that had happened to him, people would think he was insane. Was that the purpose, to harass him and wear him down? All of the related incidents were verified by persons other than Reich. In 1947, when Reich had said that Co
Courtesy of: http://www.orgonomy.org/wr/reich_bio_05.html