Tag Archive | "orgone therapy"

Orgone Energy: Theoretical and Practical Implications


The following is a transcription of the lecture given by Dr Kevin Hinchey at the Institute for Orgonomic Science Conference on April 11, 2015 at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

When Harry called me couple months ago asked me to present I was a little reluctant, I am not a scientist, I am not a science historian Jim Strick is the science historian also it is customary for me when I do presentations to write them all out ahead of time, I am more comfortable doing that and I knew because of my busy schedule I would have no chance to do that but I also knew that in the last few years I spent 4 years researching, writing out the story line for the documentary film which I am now in the middle of production  and so I thought what I would do I would extract selections from that body of research and storyline which is essentially my bible for moving ahead with the film project.

I spent 4 years researching, writing out the story line for the documentary film which I am now in the middle of production  and so I thought what I would do I would extract selections from that body of research and storyline which is essentially my bible for moving ahead with the film project.

As I tell my 2 film classes in the first lecture I thought very fast I am going to do that today, I want to move through a huge amount of material but I want to go into more detail about four specific episode which I think is very significant in terms of Reich’s medicine and science and the implications of it and those are his interaction with Einstein, his initial experiments, with orgone treatment. Treatment of terminal cancer patients, a significant 47 day experiment that he did in the summer of 41 in Organon and finally a little known episode from the Fall of 1942 Reich’s efforts to bring his empirical and scientific research to the attention of the national research council on behalf of the war effort which is a little known episode that I am particularly fond of. So just very briefly we really have to talk about the beginnings of Reich’s scientific research. Let’s just go back very briefly to put it in context so you appreciate the chronology, the drama. The facts and the narrative go back to March 1933 in Berlin when Hitler consolidates his power and in the Nazi newspaper in an article condemning Reich’s book the sexual struggle of youth at which time Reich realizes he has to leave Germany and so that night he and his first wife, Annie, take a night train to the border and over the next few days they will cross over the border and each of them will eventually make the way back to Vienna, this is early March 1933. In Vienna it is a very hostile environment for Reich, it is a right wing government, the Dolfuss Regime, Freud is continuously trying to distance himself from Reich for psychoanalytic and political reasons and in fact when he gets there Reich learns that Freud has cancelled his contract to publish character analysis so it’s a very hostile environment and in this hostile climate a young Danish physicians, Tage Philipson, came to Reich for psychoanalytic training. He encouraged Reich to move the Copenhagen where others wanted to train with him. Reich secured a permit to work in Denmark for 6 months, on April 30, 1933, so he’s only been in Vienna for few weeks Reich left Vienna alone by train traveling north to Poland and then west across the Baltic City arriving in Copenhagen and on May 1st shortly afterwards his lover, Elsa Lindenburg would join him and this really signals the end of Reich and his wife living together and he later moved to Prague so he is with Elsa at this point.Now it’s in Denmark according to Reich there he first begins to formulate in writing a series of laboratory experiments he wish to conduct to determine if the libido was identical with bioelectrical charge and if orgasm was an electrical discharge and these experiments drew upon Reich’s 12 years of clinical findings

Now it’s in Denmark according to Reich there he first begins to formulate in writing a series of laboratory experiments he wish to conduct to determine if the libido was identical with bioelectrical charge and if orgasm was an electrical discharge and these experiments drew upon Reich’s 12 years of clinical findings

plus the publish research of and he lists well over dozen scientists in his publish works about this. It’s one of things I am really impressed about is the bibliography in the references to the science that has come before him. And these studies that he sites, these are studies about the autonomic nervous system, the effect of various stimuli on amebic movement, bioelectricity in living matter, and the effect of emotions on electrical potential of skin. These are crucial for Reich’s experiments which would start in 1935. So you see he’s drawing upon an existing body of work at this time. Now what happens when he’s living in Denmark, his 6 month visa is not renewed so he decides he is going to move to Malmo, Sweden and before he actually makes the move he embarks on a four weeks solo trip through a variety of cities what he’s really looking for is a permanent place to relocate at this period of time, at some point he ends up in London meets with Ernest Jones of the psychoanalytic association, but he also visits renown physiologist name Wright who has a research institute in university of London. I am a little unclear, I have to do more research as to which Wright this is but Reich discusses his experiments with this individual. He is 6 months in Malmo and then his visa will not be renewed so he ends up living illegally in Denmark in the spring of 1934. And that summer, a gentleman by the name of Harald Schjelderup, director of the psychological institute of university of Oslo and a colleague of Nic Hoel who is one of the students comes to one of Reich’s courses. He also wanted to learn the techniques of character analysis. Reich was more eager than ever to begin laboratory experiments to explore the possible electrical nature of the libido.

Reich was more eager than ever to begin laboratory experiments to explore the possible electrical nature of the libido.

Schjelderup, who also had a background in physics, planted the seeds for Reich possibly moving to Oslo where he could train psychoanalyst in character analysis, lecture at the university and had an access to a scientific laboratory. We know that few months later Reich is expelled from the international psychoanalytic association at their big meeting in Lucerne in August 1934 and by the invitation of the Norwegian psychoanalysts Reich will move to Oslo. Reich and Elsa drove north to France and from Lucerne back to Denmark at the end of October at the invitation of the Norwegian psychoanalysts they move to Oslo Norway. This is the 5th time that Reich has moved in 20 months. He has gone from Berlin to Vienna, Vienna to Copenhagen, Copenhagen to Malmo and illegally back to Denmark and now he is in Oslo. He also visited London and Paris. So now we are in the Fall of 1934 in Oslo and Reich writes in his journal after one and three quarters years of rowing a place to live again in Oslo 36 hours from the children, it is hard being away from the children and his reasons for moving was there in a very clear letter to his ex-wife, Annie, written shortly after his arrival, he said “I came to Oslo with some firm agreements to carry out my experiments”. So it’s very clear why he is in Oslo, he wants to go into the laboratory and this will be the first time he goes into a laboratory since medical school and these are Reich’s propose experiments about the possible electrical nature of sexuality. Now Reich had subsequently published two scientific papers in the first half of 34. All his papers he ultimately publishes are collected in this book. (Bion experiment and origin of life).

Now Reich had subsequently published two scientific papers in the first half of 34. All his papers he ultimately publishes are collected in this book. (Bion experiment and origin of life).

The first one was called The orgasm as an electrical physiological discharge, the second one was The basic antithesis of vegetative life functions and these two articles provide a theoretical framework for these laboratory experiments. In Reich’s two scientific papers in 34 again he draws upon 14 years of psychoanalytic and psychiatric clinical work plus his study of a leading biological and physiological research. In his first paper Reich identifies what he would come to call the four beat orgasm formula, mechanical tension, electrical charge, electrical discharge, mechanical relaxation and so in addition to the orgasms intimate and procreative aspects, Reich hypothesized that this four beat function was a fundamental biological function in all living matter

In his first paper Reich identifies what he would come to call the four beat orgasm formula, mechanical tension, electrical charge, electrical discharge, mechanical relaxation and so in addition to the orgasms intimate and procreative aspects, Reich hypothesized that this four beat function was a fundamental biological function in all living matter

“the orgastic function must be an integral part and a very elementary one at that of the world of nature, it contains in clear form the basic functions of all living substances; tension, relaxation, charge and discharge.” Reich also discussed in this article scientifically accepted facts about the human body as an electrolyte system that generates and conducts electricity. The fusion of two bodies in the sexual act is in itself an electrolyte system “the arrangement of membranes, boundary surfaces and fluids and joy in coituis points to the presence of a complete electrolyte system.” In his second scientific paper that year the basic antithesis vegetative life functions Reich said “In my opinion sexual excitation and anxiety are antithetical functions of all living substances in general and of the psychic apparatus in particular”. Reich also built upon prior

In his second scientific paper that year the basic antithesis vegetative life functions Reich said “In my opinion sexual excitation and anxiety are antithetical functions of all living substances in general and of the psychic apparatus in particular”

biological and physiological research to argue for an empirical fundamental link of the mind and the body body “we will try to prove that the known primary psychic and somatic functionings are absolutely identical with regard to basic life processes. It seems obvious that physiological and psychological research must meet in certain problem fields if they proceed correctly, the meeting ground is that of a vegetative nervous system with its relationship on the one hand to the basic biological functions and on the other to psychic mechanism”.

“we will try to prove that the known primary psychic and somatic functionings are absolutely identical with regard to basic life processes. It seems obvious that physiological and psychological research must meet in certain problem fields if they proceed correctly, the meeting ground is that of a vegetative nervous system with its relationship on the one hand to the basic biological functions and on the other to psychic mechanism”.

In this experiments Reich hoped to expand upon the experiments of those who had already previously verified and measured electrical potential of skin surfaces, pioneering 19th century physiologists Emil Dubois-Reymond Carl Ludwig, Ivan Tarchanoff, the neurologist Otto Veroguth, C.P. Richter, Hermann Rein in the early 20th century and the physiologist Victor and Rine of 1920’s, but their research of the skin’s electrical potential Reich said “fail to investigate how the specifically erogenous zone differ from the rest of the skin” so in another words Reich wanted to measure the skin surfaces of erogenous zone which had never been done in skin experiments before. So electrodes are placed on different skin surfaces of human subjects hooked up by wire leads to osilogram. The electrical charges of the skins resting potentials were recorded by osilogram light tracings onto a moving film strip. Significantly a few spikes stand out as having a much higher potential. Reich is referring to the genitals, nipples, lips, tongue and earlobes, “the sexual zone repeatedly showed deflections up to 20milivolts or one fifth of a volt” he says. So in other words the resting potentials of erogenous zones are already a little bit higher than just other skin surfaces. In subsequent experiments the pleasurable stroking and tickling of the subject’s tongue, lips, palm and nipple increase the electrical surface charge of the skin surfaces but unpleasurable pressure exerted upon these areas decrease their charge.” Reich also measured the electrical response to other sources of anxiety and pleasure. For example subjects who were purposely frightened by sudden noises shouts, popping bags or gongs showed a sudden drop in the electrical charge of the erogenous zone and experiments where salt was unexpectedly placed on the subject’s tongue causing unpleasure sense produced a decrease in the tongue’s electric charge, but the subjects’ pleasurable responses to sugar on the tongue are expressed by increases in electrical charge. Reich wrote “experimental investigation of skin potential  and pleasure and anxiety have supported the hypothesis that the process of excitation gives rise to two opposite directions of flow a bioelectrical current toward the periphery and toward the center.

Reich wrote “experimental investigation of skin potential  and pleasure and anxiety have supported the hypothesis that the process of excitation gives rise to two opposite directions of flow, a bioelectrical current toward the periphery and toward the center.

These two directions of current corresponds with his clinical observations of psychic and somatic movement toward the world during pleasure and away from the world during unpleasure, thus “the concept of libido as  a measure of psychic energy no longer remains a metaphor but refers to measurable electro energetic phenomena”. Now as for the specific origin of this electrical energy Reich concluded in his paper that the ganglia of the autonomic nervous system together with bodies’ membrane electrolyte biosystem functions as the source of the electrical surface charge. Reich was looking ahead for further research, he hypothesized” assumed that the orgasm is a fundamental manifestation of living matter, the orgasm formula a tension, charge, discharge relaxation must represent the general formula of all biological functions” and Reich now starts to plan his next series of experiments to study this biological rhythm of tension, charge, discharge and relaxation in the most basic form of all, single cell protozoa, ameba. So those will all be called his bioelectrical experiments. In future experiments so I am not going to move on to these experiments with protozoa and ameba but he says “the psychological institute at the university of Oslo with the work had been started was not equipped for this kind of work”. He neglects to say that he has had a falling out with Harald Schjelderup at this time and I have been in touch with Harald Schjelderup’s son, Dr. Wilhem Schjelderup in Oslo, we will be filming in a few weeks and he was initially little reluctant even to be involved in the film. He seems more amiable now but I am not sure our schedule is going to allow. This is because as I understand it Reich and his father parted with some very bad feelings. So it is really left to Reich and his supporters to put together a private laboratory. Reich’s laboratory including lights microscopes capable of magnifications of up to 45 hundred times, higher than what most biologists were using at the time. This was essential not only because Reich wanted to observe the formation of protozoa but he wanted to observe the internal functions and this is what he writes, “The vegetative currents which I had encountered in the course of my character analytic work and in my bioelectrical experiments on sexuality, struck me as so important that I decided to study them microscopically in protozoa.” So he is drawing a link between his clinical work and the bioelectrical experiments in his proposed experiments. Other equipment included autoclaves, dry sterilizes, significantly time lapse filming apparatus fixed to the microscopes and other equipment. Now according to the accepted air germ theory, protozoa developing in water and hay infusions from air germs as spores are everywhere. But Reich’s observation recorded on time lapse films captured a biological process not found in any scientific literature. In Reich’s water and hay infusions pieces of the water swelled hay disintegrated into sacks or vesicles, there were lively and motile. These vesicles grew larger and eventually detached themselves from the hay as ameba, a type of protozoa. In further experiments Reich observed that other organic substances which were infusing in water such as plant or food stuff also swelled up and broke down into these same motile vesicles which gradually evolved into ameba.

Reich observed that other organic substances which were infusing in water such as plant or food stuff also swelled up and broke down into these same motile vesicles which gradually evolved into ameba.

Since no biological literature made any mention of these organisms developing from steril decayed matter and evolving into ameba, Reich was perplex as to whether these vesicles were in fact living matter “As I grew more familiar with these preparations, I became more and more convinced that they were probably living forms which were so to speak complete.” So he concluded that these vesicles, these sacks is microorganisms were preliminary stages of life i.e. transitional forms from the inorganic and non-motile to the organic and motile state. He also gave a name to these vesicles he says, “My own convenience I call them bions” and he derives the word bions after the Greek word for life.

So he concluded that these vesicles, these sacks is microorganisms were preliminary stages of life i.e. transitional forms from the inorganic and non-motile to the organic and motile state. He also gave a name to these vesicles he says, “My own convenience I call them bions” and he derives the word bions after the Greek word for life.

Now what Reich finds is some observations that some of these bions when they are in proximity to bacteria, staph, strep and cancer cells will immobilize or kill these cells. This is something that he discovers which leads him into an entirely other area of research, and so for Reich these observations open up new and promising possibilities in bion research. The fact that they had this immobilizing and sometimes destructive affect on bacteria and even cancer cells. So by these new possibilities Reich realized that he needed major financial support for bion research. Now I’ve concluded that he has been doing this research for about a year, he is spending a lot of his own money and realizes he needs some official research and with the help of his good friend Malinofsky, the anthropologist, he has put in touch with someone working for the Rockefeller institute over in Europe and so Reich applies for funding to the Rockefeller institute in March of 1937 and this is what he writes in his application, “I have succeeded in producing and culturing steril colloidal lifelike structures, there is every reason to believe therefore that this is a successful experiment that does not merely imitate living products but also actually produces them.”

Reich applies for funding to the Rockefeller institute in March of 1937 and this is what he writes in his application, “I have succeeded in producing and culturing steril colloidal lifelike structures, there is every reason to believe therefore that this is a successful experiment that does not merely imitate living products but also actually produces them.”

In his privately funded laboratory he said “up to now friends and I have invested about 30,000 crowner which is over $100,000 today with monthly expenses of  3 to 4 hundred dollars which is anywhere to 6,000 dollars today.” But the development of bion research, he writes in his application, is proceeding so quickly that it is no longer possible to manage with private funds. Reich also tells the Rockefeller foundation that initial experiments” with staph, strep and cancer cells seem to indicate that the bions are produced and cultured in a thorough and comprehensive manner some hopeful prospects are opened up. And he says these phenomena indicate that every effort should be made to determine what affects the bions have on pathogenic states. The work should be focused essentially in the first instance on cancer research. Reich’s application is turned down and Jim Strick discusses this in great detail in his new book “Wilhelm Reich Biologist”. Now we’re talking about late into 1937 still in Oslo, over the next few weeks Reich’s research took a major leap forward. In the bion disintegration of sterilized liver sarcoma which are tumors of the connective tissue Reich observed not only the usual bions but also the presence of smaller reddish rod shape microorganisms with a putrid ammonic like odor. Reich injected these tiny rod shape bions into healthy laboratory mice. Some mice, died within 24 hours, those had survived developed cancer tumors in approximately 10 days. Consequently Reich would call this second type of bion the t-bacilli after the German  word “tod” for death and he speculated that they might be one of the cause of the of cancer. So we’re talking about two different kinds of bions, bions that seem to kill and immobilized bacteria and cancer cells and a smaller one that has in fact caused cancer in some mice.

In February of 1938, 2 years of his experiment, Reich publishes the bion clinical and experimental result and it’s this book here which is available in America, “Bion Experiments and the Origin of Life”, the original one was called “bion clinical and experimental report”. One of the things I find so fascinating about this book which I think sometimes gets overlooked, is it’s amazing bibliography, its scientific bibliography at the end in terms of all of the different materials that Reich has been researching, I think that’s sometimes forgotten by people who kind of diminish Reich’s scientific work. It is originally a 205 page book with 50 photographs all reprinted here, in it Reich presents basic experiments about the development and cultivability of these microorganisms called bions but he does not discuss his more recent research in canner and that was very customary of Reich to when he was getting into a new area of research to withhold the publication until he had more results, so there is no mention of the rather interesting results of interaction between bion and cancer cells in this particular book, this book galvanize Reich’s psychoanalytic scientific and political opponents in an effort to discredit his work and revoke his residency permit in Oslo. And so there are some articles in newspapers and all kinds of disparaging comments.

Now we are in March of 1938 and at this time Reich writes to two of his former American psychoanalytic students I guess you would call them who studied with him in Vienna, psychiatrist  Walter Brellin in New York City and Spurgeon English in Philadelphia. He write the same letter to both of them. “You’re indoubtedly sufficiently informed about the situation in Europe to understand the following question,” he is talking about the eminence of war and what’s going on with the rise of Nazism and he asks both of them “what opportunities currently exist in New York or Philadelphia for me to carry out my work.” So this is the first record that we have of him making inquiries to two of his former students for the possible immigration to America. And Reich also writes “increasingly my work involves biological experiments not to mention my clinical activities” which they’re very well aware of and he wish to know under what condition “I can consider moving to America with my entire laboratory.” So this is March of 1938 and really within the next couple months a major press campaign breaks out against Reich,

So this is March of 1938 and really within the next couple months a major press campaign breaks out against Reich

dozens upon dozens of articles attacking Reich’s reputation, competence and sanity appeared in moderate leftist and fascist newspapers in Oslo. Article authors included Leiv Kreyberg, a cancer pathologist, geneticist Otto Mohr, bacteriologist Theodore Thjotta and many others. Some of the titles were inflammatory i.e. Genius Deletant or Psychopath, proof that Reich is a fraud”, another one saying “God Reich is Dr. Reich an honest scientist” and among the more shameful articles was one recommending that Reich be sent to a concentration camp and another that called Reich a Jewish pornographer. So this is some of the reactions to his work in the press. He also has a number of people also writing on his behalf and two of them are the anthropologists Malinofsky and A.S. Neil and this is what Malinasky writes in a publishes letter and the press, “I consider his sociological works to be a distinct and valuable contribution towards science.

He also has a number of people also writing on his behalf and two of them are the anthropologists Malinofsky and A.S. Neil and this is what Malinasky writes in a published letter in the press, “I consider his sociological works to be a distinct and valuable contribution towards science.”

It would be very great loss if Dr. Reich could be in any way prevented from obtaining a full opportunity to work out his ideas and scientific discoveries” and there is this threat here that he is going to have his visa revoked and from England we hear from A.S. Neil who met him few years ago. This is what Neil writes in a published letter.“To me the campaign against Reich seems largely ignorant and uncivilized more like fascism than democracy the question is, is Reich a useful person who is bringing new knowledge to the world? From my part I feel that he is.”

This is what Neil writes in a published letter.” To me the campaign against Reich seems largely ignorant and uncivilized more like fascism than democracy, the question is: is Reich a useful person who is bringing new knowledge to the world? From my part I feel that he is.”

So Reich is going to step up his efforts to leave Oslo and he writes again to his students he says “now I think the moment has become acute to transfer my work to the USA”. And again he is writing to Brill and Spurgeon English and he has a wonderful quote where when he is talking about the horrible political situation here in this letter, he says “prominent Norwegian authors, physicians etc. begin to prepare immigration, fascism is sitting here in the far edge of Europe under the nose of socialist government like a cat waiting for victims.” So by January 1939 Reich’s bion and cancer research had included experiments with hundreds of healthy laboratory mice over period of 2 years and what he sees in this healthy laboratory mice is close to 200 of them are subjected to bion injections test the effects of these bions and to test the effects of these smaller T-bacilli and his getting some very favorable results in terms of beneficial effects of these bions.

Now let’s talk about his actual discovery of orgone energy. A lot of people don’t realize that orgone energy was discovered in a microscopic culture and so we’re now in January 1939 for the first time Reich use sea sands to cultivate bions and that sterilized sea sands heated to incandescence put in a potassium chloride solution to promote swelling, and this solution was inoculated on agar and egg medium to form another growth that under the microscope showed large packets and he called them packet bions for the shape large packets of bions glimmering with an intense blue color, Reich called them SAPA bions, and packet bions. He observed that there were much bluer than these other bions and that they had even stronger biological effect than any previous bion cultures. The effect of sapa bions he writes “on rod bacteria, protozoa and the T-bacilli was more powerful than the other bions. Brought together with cancer cells they kill or paralyze the cells even at a distance of approximately 10 microns and Reich filmed all of these processes with time lapse movie photography. Soon Reich’s eyes began to hurt, he develops a conjunctivitis and starts to feel other effects and he begins to suspect he puts them in a dark room and they fog up the plate and all kinds of things from these subjective and objective observations over four weeks, Reich initially believed that this radiation was radioactive and this was not an unreasonable assumption given that radio activity had been discovered in other natural substances such as Uranium salts at the end of the 19th century and in pitchblend by the Curreies in 1898 so he initially feels that there is perhaps radioactivity coming from these sand packet bions. Reich was also exploring what he had first thought to be electromagnetic properties of this radiation. Here he was following the thread of his earlier bioelectrical experiments that I talked about sexuality which verified electrical properties in the bodies in the biological system and one of Reich principle tools for determining if these sapa bion radiation was electricity was the Faraday cage. Faraday cage was invented in 1836 by Michael Faraday and it is a metal lining closure it could be mesh it could be solid; it blocks electromagnetic energy from the outside to insure that the enclosure is free of electrical charge and in inside of the cage you can use electroscopes to confirm the absence of any influx of electricity. Reich used faradae cages of various sizes including one large enough to sit in in which he worked and observed things and to isolates sapa phenomena from any electrical energy,

Reich used faradae cages of various sizes including one large enough to sit in in which he worked and observed things and to isolates sapa phenomena from any electrical energy,

Reich placed test tubes in pittry dishes of the sapa bions cultures inside faradae cages from microscopic work in observation and he documented his observations in his laboratory notebooks in his journals and various letters at the time. But he said to a Dutch physicist who was sharing some of ideas with Reich in some of his letters even though there is this amazing phenomena he says, “I do not wish to abandon the true subject of my work, the canner experiments” so he’s been working on these cancer experiments but the discovery of this what could be a radiation is taking them off at least temporarily into a different direction. Investigating the properties of sapa radiation was already a major focus of Reich’s laboratory but he soon came to conclude that this radiation might be an entirely different form of radiation, that it’s not radioactive, it’s not electricity, it’s not electromagnetism and so he in a follow up letter to this physicist says “our mysteries, something does not appear to be ordinary electricity or ordinary magnetism but it influences matter in such a way that phenomena resembling magnetism and electricity manifests themselves with the electroscope and for example, metal such as copper and iron seem to attract the radiation and then to reflect it and the one experiment metal objects that in proximity to these SAPA bions such as scissors, pencils, needles they become highly magnetize. So something is going on here. Around this time Reich realized that sapa radiation was not electromagnetism. He gave this energy a name, and when we go into the archives and look at his letters, his diary entries and his entries from his laboratory notebooks, we can pinpoint the actual days when he first started using the term “orgone” and it was in March of 1939 and so he is calling this radiation orgone energy.

Around this time Reich realized that sapa radiation was not electromagnetism. He gave this energy a name, and when we go into the archives and look at his letters, his diary entries and his entries from his laboratory notebooks, we can pinpoint the actual days when he first started using the term “orgone” and it was in March of 1939 and so he is calling this radiation orgone energy.

He derives the word orgone from two words orgasm because its discovery from his study of the orgasm function tension, charge, discharge, relaxation and the word organic because this radiation seems to highly charge organic materials.

And now he is again stepping up his efforts to get to America, he is now in touch with a man named Theodore Wolf who has studied with him who is in America, a Swiss psychiatrist and is trying to also get Wolf helping him out to move to America.

And now he is again stepping up his efforts to get to America, he is now in touch with a man named Theodore Wolf who has studied with him who is in America, a Swiss psychiatrist and is trying to also get Wolf helping him out to move to America.

Now this letter I think is particularly important because it really shows you where Reich’s interests are, this is a letter that he writes to Wolf in May of 1939”, absolutely essential laboratory work swallows enormous sums of cash. I assume that by doing about 4 hours of vegeto-therapeutic work each day”, and that’s his therapy “by doing four hours of this work a day I will be able to earn enough to carry the cost of the laboratory. At the present time my aspirations are concerned solely on concluding the cancer research and the radiation work.” This is where Reich’s mind is in May of 1939 when he comes to America he wants to work a few hours a day doing the therapy so he can support the orgone research and the cancer research. Anyway he arrives in America on August 28, 1939, arrives just a few days before the Nazis march into Poland and it’s always interesting to speculate what would have happened if Reich hadn’t come over here. Here is a man who has spoken anti-fascist anti-Nazi very outspoken, he had been a member or very active with socialist and communist parties, he has a Jewish background although he is not practicing Jew and he has been a psychoanalysts. At that time psychoanalysts was considered by the Nazi’s to be a Jewish scientist so it seems pretty clear that Reich probably would not have survived the war. He gets his laboratory up and running very quickly in New York, he had transferred over before he’s ever even come and what he wants to do is he wants to continue his work with the sapa bions and to see what effects they have on mice. But he had never before actually experimented with cancer mice, he had experimented mice but he had never experimented with mice that actually had cancer, he had experimented with cancer cells and cancer tissues. So what he does gets here in August by December he has some cancer mice that have some tumors and he now starts to inject the sapa bions into cancer mice. His first injection is in December of 1939. Injects sapa bions into his first mouse with existing cancer to test the effects of orgone radiation, has a tumor there the size of a bean. Over the next few days Reich records in his laboratory notebook and journal that the mouse’s mammary tumor was now shrinking. Six days after the injection on December 22 he recorded that the tumor was 50% smaller, the size of a small pee and he writes “This was an enormous success but past experiences warn me not to be overly optimistic.” He will continue for the next few months to inject sapa bions into cancer mice with some rather interesting results. He continues to try to isolate orgone energy using faraday cages but he realizes that he needs to adapt the faradae cages because of variety observations that he has and so he concluded of course that the radiation is not electricity. He has already concluded that over there and so to help keep the radiation inside a small faraday cage, Reich replaced the mesh walls of a faraday cage with sheet metal and then he also starts to add organic material on the side of this faraday cages and we’re talking about this like one cubic foot accumulators and a faraday cages and so by adding these external organic layers to an existing faraday cage Reich has essentially transformed a traditional faraday cage into something new, into what really will become his most important research tool what he calls an orgone energy accumulator and he had actually first coined the term orgone energy accumulator back in April in Oslo, he wrote in a journal that one of his tasks was “the invention of an orgone energy accumulator”. So orgone energy accumulators first very small, evolved from an existing technology very acceptable one called faradae cages but what he finds out in these modified faradae cages and that’s what I call them, his orgone accumulators is that even without sapa bions in there he is seeing some radiation phenomenon, and even when he cleans all the walls in dismantles them and puts them together he still seeing the phenomenon of some radiation in there and this is when he starts to think, is this energy everywhere? Where does it come from? And I’m just going to kind of move ahead quickly, so that’s where he is, in June and July of 1940 he is speculating that orgone energy may be everywhere and now he is on a camping trip up to Maine with his wife, a trip he’s been wanting to make for months and he ends up in a cabin on the shores of Mooselookmeguntic Lake which is the largest of six rangely lakes in western Maine and it is here over the lake where he makes observations through tubes of flickering phenomenon in the atmosphere similar to what he saw in these modified faradae cages, his orgone accumulators and concludes in fact that this is an atmospheric phenomenon that this is where the energy comes from and so that is a discovery that he makes in July of 1940 up in the Rangeley lakes region. And so Reich’s conclusion that this biological energy which he had first discovered radiating from sapa bions was also a ubiquitous atmospheric energy and so these accumulators not only hold in the radiation from sapa bions but they can attract atmospheric orgone energy because of the alternating layers of metallic and organic material.

And so Reich’s conclusion that this biological energy which he had first discovered radiating from sapa bions was also a ubiquitous atmospheric energy and so these accumulators not only hold in the radiation from sapa bions but they can attract atmospheric orgone energy because of the alternating layers of metallic and organic material.

Reich’s discovery that orgone was an atmospheric energy together with his conclusion that orgone accumulators attracted and contained atmospheric energy lead him logically to his next inquiry; could orgone accumulators be effective as a way to treat cancer mice and so what he does instead of injecting sapa bions into cancer mice he starts to put mice into small orgone accumulators and sees that this has an even better affect in terms of a immobilizing cancer cells, immobilizing tumors reducing tumors than the sapa bions do. So that’s his first use of orgone accumulators for cancer research which was with mice. And then what he does is by November 1940 and this is just a few months after coming back from Maine and after doing these experiments, he has the first large orgone accumulator built. November 18 Reich writes in his diary “today the first orgone accumulator for human being arrive and works very strongly a 150 x 80 x 100 cm which is 5 by 2 ½ by 3 ¼ feet.” So now there is a large orgone accumulator and Reich had his first large accumulator built to study people’s subjective reactions inside the accumulator, he is also noticing these accumulators there is some sort of temperature differences above the accumulators and so he has concluded that this is a ubiquitous energy and so at the end of 1940 I picture him sitting alone at night some winter night it’s December 30, he writes a letter to Albert Einstein who is now in Princeton, he says “Dear Professor Einstein I would very much like to meet with you to discuss the difficult and urgent scientific matter.” Goes into little bit more detail and wants to meet with him. Now when I studied Reich’s life and work chronologically one of the thing is an unfolding narrative one of the things that really impresses me is all of the drama that can be infused in a single year and you can say that about many years but I find 1941 and 1942 infused with so much work so much drama so much progress forward. So for example 1941, he will begin 1941 with two meetings with Albert Einstein. He will end that year in about the 3rd week of his incarceration of Ellis Island as a possible enemy alien. So this is a quite a year for Wilhelm Reich. He meets with Einstein twice, I’m just going to kind of skip over some of these, he meets with him in January explains some of these things, returns brings him a small accumulator Einstein will eventually do some experiments with the accumulator. There is a temperature difference above the accumulator. Einstein will come up with a whole different explanation. Reich will send him a 26 page letter refuting these findings with all his experiments. I think it’s a mistake most people make when they think of Reich and Einstein they tend to focus on this issue of about the significant scientific temperature difference above the accumulator than in the surround air. There is much more going on here in terms of the subsequent correspondence. If you look at all of the correspondence that Reich sends to him he is trying to bring all of his research to the attention of Albert Einstein, telling them about the some of the beneficial effects. Einstein does not return his letters, and in March of that year Reich will begin his first experiments with terminal cancer patients. I just want to go into a little more detail about that because he has written 2 or 3 letters to Einstein talking about his bion research and the potential of it, Einstein hasn’t returned anything and then Reich now starts to see of variety of cancer patients. And when you look at his first terminal cancer patients it is significant as to what he is looking for what he is measuring and what some of the results are, so for example, his first experiment is with a woman who has been bed ridden she has a large tumor in her breast, she has several compressed vertebrae, her respiration is severely impaired, Reich uses all his psychiatric and psychoanalytic skills to draw an entire profile of this woman her emotional past, her health past, her sexual past everything to get a real feeling and this woman starts to sit daily in a large orgone accumulator for 30 minutes a day and these are some of the results that Reich will record from his first patient. One of the things he does with all of his patients before they start, he establishes a base line for their hemoglobin content, hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen form the lungs to the tissues. In healthy woman the normal count is 12-15 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter which is a 10th of a liter. Hemoglobin tests are often used to test for anemia and significantly low counts are symptoms of more severe health problems and so these are some of the results that he will record here.” I began with sessions with 30 minutes”, he writes in one of the case histories.” During the first session the skin between her shoulder blades became red from the second session on the pain in the region of the 12th dorsal vertebrae which was I believe crushed, decrease during the treatment and this improvement usually lasted until the next session. After the second session her hemoglobin content rose from 35% normal before she ever gotten accumulator, after the second session it’s up to 40% normal. After 4 sessions it rises 51% normal after 7 sessions it’s at 55% normal, the tumor in the left breast was no longer palpable after the 8th orgone radiation and he would also take blood test that he had evolved to which could sort of gage the Vigor of the blood. After few weeks the woman who was bed ridden who had to be brought there by relatives is now taking a subway to his house. The second patient he takes on a few days later and again these are from people who had heard about his promising mice experiments. This is a 57 year old widow with numerous tumors localize mainly in the cranium, in the bones of the arms and her hemoglobin content was 33% normal, on the 3rd day was 41%, on the 6th day it was 55%, on the 8th day it’s 85% normal, so something is going on here and I always call attention to these results because I hear too many people talking about using accumulators, oh I felt warm inside I felt something. So what if I was in an enclosure I’d feel warm too but Reich is taking objective data here of hemoglobin content, the results of various blood test, of the palpability of tumors. So he has several indicators which you see are consistent with all of these terminal cancer patients and they are terminal and every single one you see that hemoglobin content rising with each use of the accumulator and tumors softening and sometimes dissolving. Reich never claims he has a cure for cancer and there are all signs and affidavits saying he doesn’t have a cure for cancer. Reich writes a letter to Einstein summarizing some of this and saying look how important this is, what I’ve been doing here and he says that things that have happened in the course of the past ten weeks “since my last report to you are of such importance that I feel I should let you know about them” and he is always caution that there is no way of telling how long these beneficial results are going to be but he’s trying to get the attention of Einstein and Einstein never responds to any of this.

I am just going to go another brief episode and if you have any questions then we’ll do in question and answer because this is significant. Here I think and someone should do a monograph about this I think it’s very important. So this is early 1941and the next brief episode from the summer of 1941 is when I find so impressive and instructive in that Reich is connecting his scientific research with its medical implications. So Reich left New York at the end of June by that time he was treating a total of 7 terminal cancer patients in New York, he left them all within the care of doctors who were working with them and he goes to Maine. He has a “make shift” laboratory in a cabin he’s bought on Mosselookmeguntic Lake. He hasn’t bought the farm yet that will become Orgonon but he is working. He writes a letter to each of his cancer patients from Maine, “I did not leave the city and you without good reason and not merely for pleasure purposes. In this year since September 1940 so many things which have tremendous importance that happened that I had to find several weeks of quietness to coordinate and to write down the results achieve thus far. I have learned so much from what you had experienced that I dare hope to be able to apply your contributions to scientific research upon other sick human beings.”

He writes a letter to each of his cancer patients from Maine, “I did not leave the city and you without good reason and not merely for pleasure purposes. In this year since September 1940 so many things which have tremendous importance that happened that I had to find several weeks of quietness to coordinate and to write down the results achieve thus far. I have learned so much from what you had experienced that I dare hope to be able to apply your contributions to scientific research upon other sick human beings.”

Now he had discovered that electroscopes discharge more slowly inside the accumulators than outside of them and this he considers significant evidence that there is some sort of radiation there. And he also is hypothesizing or seeing in some preliminary results a connection between the orgone tension in an orgone accumulator and atmospheric conditions and times of day so all these doctors in New York are taking care of seven terminal cancer patients of his, Reich is up in Maine in a make shift laboratory and he conducts a 47 day experiment. For 47 days from July 5 to August 20th from 8:00 AM until midnight Reich measured the speed of electroscopic discharges in the open air and inside a small accumulators and he’s brought several of these one cubic foot accumulators. The data confirmed Reich’s earlier findings that significant variations in electroscopic discharges occur during changes of weather indicating a higher orgone energy tension on sunny days, lower orgone tension during precipitation. These experiments in Maine also showed significant variations in electroscopic discharges at certain times of day indicating a generally high orgone tension from noon to 4pm and a lower orgone tension in an early morning and late evening and this is really a good example of all of Reich’s research orgone energy research its continual observations over long periods of time. While he is in Maine he writes letters also to the doctors tending to his terminal cancer patients back in New York and to one them he wrote “I have found some very important and significant features of the atmospheric orgone tension, it isolates very strongly between the morning hours and the evening hours with the high point at around 4 PM”. Reich was also realizing the importance of this Rangely lakes region to his work. “I do not regret spending so much time here; I am even more convinced now that this research work which can be done in quietness here is of the greatest importance for the effectuation of the radiation on sick people.” So what he is doing is his experiments up there in terms of the optimum times for orgone tension weather condition, times of a day, he is relaying back to the doctors there and he is telling them this has some sort of effect on how we will treat people with orgone radiation that there are certain weather conditions you need to do within, there are certain times of day to do within So I really like this link that he is making between the research he is doing up there and its implications. He passes all this information on to Einstein in yet another letter and of course gets nothing back. There are a couple more episodes I want to talk about but I am out of time I apologize for going so long. Thank you.

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Who was Wilhelm Reich and what is orgonomy?


The following is a transcription of the lecture given by Dr Harry Lewis at the Institute for Orgonomic Science Conference on April 11, 2015 at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.


I’m pretty much the only orgonomist working in New York City these days; which tells you something about the state of Orgonomy! But there are many who are interested in Reich’s work and it’s beginning to spread.


I’m pretty much the only orgonomist working in New York City these days; which tells you something about the state of Orgonomy! But there are many who are interested in Reich’s work and it’s beginning to spread.

More important than my personal website is that we have a group in New York that has been going for some at least 20 years or more. I want to mention that it is primarily been supported and made possible by David Silver who is up front here videoing. If you go to our website, wilhelmreich.net, you can get access to over 20 years of lectures we have run; regular lectures, dozens and dozens of lectures — both by myself and others including Dr.Victor Sobey (a close close and longtime associate of Dr. Reich) and Dr. Michael Rodenberg, who was one of Reich’s students; not trained by Reich, because Reich died before Dr. Rothenberg finished medical school; but Dr. Rodenberg was a pediatric psychiatrist and orgonomist. He was the head of pediatric psychiatry in Washington State University Medical School and was contemporary of Dr. Herskowitz. He died, unfortunately quite young from ALS. But there is wonderful range of subjects all recorded on CDs and then we have film or video, but many of these things are now on YouTube or Twitter. So I think I would recommend that you go to www.wilhemreich.net or to my own website which basically talks about our work. And I spoke to couple of people who contacted me earlier in the day before we got started, feel free if you’re in New York area to get in touch with me, we have periodic lectures. We just did, Dr. Bennett, myself and few others just did a major presentation at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, on the influence of Reich on psychoanalysis from the beginning to the end which, I guess, is a preface to my talk. Let me state, just briefly, asking me to give a presentation on who was Wilhelm Reich is a little bit of overkill! I want to point out that we have two outstanding historians present in the room and both of them will be talking a little bit today, both of them can tell you in far more precise detail who Reich was historically and development of his work. One is James Strick who has just published a spectacularly wonderful work on Reich as a scientist “Wilhelm Reich Biologist”, the other is Dr. Phillip Bennett, who is an active social historian of Reich’s work and archivist in a sense of, he’s the guy we go to get information and find out if we’re right or wrong, I’m sure he’s going to tell me about 20 or 30 things that I got wrong in my talk some of them I argue with him about. But that said, you’ll have an ample opportunity to ask questions; you’ll also have, if he stays around Dr. Morton Herskowitz, who was there for much of it. So the first thing I want to say specifically about Reich’s life and work is that really his Life and Work are functionally identical and if you know what functionally identical means in terms of orgonomic study that will be obvious in terms of what I’m trying to say. Functionally identical means that they have just different expressions of the same totality in this case the organism “Wilhelm Reich”.

So the first thing I want to say specifically about Reich’s life and work is that really his Life and Work are functionally identical and if you know what functionally identical means in terms of orgonomic study that will be obvious in terms of what I’m trying to say. Functionally identical means that they have just different expressions of the same totality in this case the organism "Wilhelm Reich".

And Reich himself often commented on the fact that from the earliest days, as James Strick points that out in his introduction, that Reich often felt that from almost birth on (he was born on a farm) that he was interested in natural phenomena in life and life forms and he was introduced to natural biological behavior and sexuality through seeing and identifying and interacting with the life on the farm. So in a sense Reich’s work is consistent from beginning to end and the thing that unifies it as Reich himself comments, towards the end of his career, looking back; the thing that unifies it all — and you’ll hear talked about actively today — is energy and the attempt to understand energetic function and not just the philosophical concept of energy which had been around from the romantic period on or even going further back this general idea of energy or life energy; elan vital. Reich was really interested in what makes us run, and not just us, but what makes life possible and what life is; and for him life is also functionally identical with energy and energetic function.

Reich was really interested in what makes us run, and not just us, but what makes life possible and what life is; and for him life is also functionally identical with energy and energetic function.

Towards the end interestingly he began to think that possibly the line between life and nonliving is not as clear as humans tend to rather arrogantly assume that the line between so called lower forms of animal life and human life is significant. For Reich I think it becomes clear that that significance is greatly diminished over the years.

Reich was born March 24, 1897 he lived to be 60. He lived a relatively short life, but it was jam packed.

Reich was born March 24, 1897 he lived to be 60. He lived a relatively short life, but it was jam packed.

He grew up on a farm in what was loosely called Russo Poland; an area of the Austro-Hungarian empire that tended to switch hands between the Russians and the Poles and the Germans and the Austrians. He lives there until he’s forced out by World War One. He joins the Austrian army becomes a lieutenant in a gunnery outfit. He makes the comment, if you read his “Passion of Youth”, that seeing real war and real fighting convinced him that the best place to be was up in the mountains looking down on it rather than being in it. So he finishes that and goes to Vienna because his farm has been confiscated. He enters, as it seems typical for many, Freud did this too; his first study at university was law. He quickly became quite disenchanted with that, moved into medicine and it’s there that I think one of the most significant points in Reich’s life begins which is not just the meeting with Freud but the sudden interest connecting to his interest in life function and biology. Actually in many ways he goes into medicine probably James Strick and Philip Bennett can address this more accurately, but he goes into it probably more because it’s connected to biology or biological research and biological knowledge then it is simple a desire to practice medicine. In a very real sense, and interestingly, (including a number of people who I know) — and I have a number of patients believe it or not who were seen by Reich and they’re still alive — he wasn’t as interested in doing clinical work per se as he was in finding out what happens and how people function and what the connection to biological life and function are or were. So in Vienna at this time, living in a cold-water flat, basically supporting himself while he did medical school, I’m saying this to give you some idea of the amazing capabilities of his mind you get a very good sense of this if you read the four volumes of his autobiography. He not only consumes masses of information while in medical school, he also supports himself by tutoring other medical students and begins to connect with a group of very very radical young clinicians or medical school students, most significant of them being Otto Fenichel who became a close friend and associate and they begin to decide that they cannot get enough information from their medical school studies or in the laboratory, their education; primarily there is no one willing to discuss human sexuality or sexual function at all or just about no one except some guy who has a seminar that meets every once in a while named Sigmund Freud and a small group around him and they begin to attend those meetings. It’s there that Reich finds the primary direction in his life in the Vienna years particularly Vienna and Berlin from roughly 1918 when he arrives to 1930 or so when he goes to Berlin in 1933; it’s the contact with the psychoanalytic community and the psychoanalytic left; the younger more vibrant and more radical thinking psychoanalysts around Freud. He is seen by Freud immediately as one of the most gifted of the potential students and at one point it’s recorded that Freud saw him as the next in line for leadership.

He is seen by Freud immediately as one of the most gifted of the potential students and at one point it’s recorded that Freud saw him as the next in line for leadership.

Why and how that changes is a very interesting question, which I think again some of the other speakers can address or you can ask questions once I finish. He gives one of his first lectures on to the general psychoanalytic community and is criticized for being a little bit too interested in sex which is an interesting comment, but he continues with Freud’s approval through the initial stages and most significantly during this period of his historical rundown. He encounters the fact that training is almost nonexistent so the way one became a psychoanalyst as Reich enters this community, was — you met one of the older guys who thought you were bright and they said to you, “you seem like a bright young fellow or young woman”, –Freud was very supportive of women entering psychoanalysis and often he is not given enough credit– you seem like a bright young fellow or young lady, here is a card and tomorrow someone will come and present my card to you and start doing treatment and listen and when you have a question and don’t understand something come to me and we’ll talk about it. That was how you became a psychoanalyst. Reich very quickly said that this wasn’t adequate and began to appeal to Freud for permission to set up a training seminar and this led to the founding of the first formal training seminar in psychoanalysis. Reich, a little bit to his dismay, was not chosen to be the leader but moved into that position and became a dominant figure in that group; and is out of that group that he produces his first two significant works, one would be the “Impulsive Character” and the other being “Character Analysis” which is in a sense our textbook to some degree for doing not only character analytic treatment but orgonomic treatment;

Reich began to appeal to Freud for permission to set up a training seminar and this led to the founding of the first formal training seminar in psychoanalysis. Reich, a little bit to his dismay, was not chosen to be the leader but moved into that position and became a dominant figure in that group; and is out of that group that he produces his first two significant works, one would be the “Impulsive Character” and the other being “Character Analysis” which is in a sense our textbook to some degree for doing not only character analytic treatment but orgonomic treatment.

Although most people are always shocked that it’s not at all a textbook in a way that you would expect a textbook to be, it doesn’t tell you how to do it, it really tells you how to engage and what questions to ask and what to think about and what to expect in studying the human organism and its behavior and its ways of basically weaseling out of responsibility for being alive. It offers as Dr. Reich would later say: A Method of Approach! It is also during these years, between early 1920’s to 1930, that Reich becomes significantly radicalized; meaning that he becomes actively involved with the left in Vienna and Berlin; but mostly in Vienna. This might not seem very significant to people today since the left is who knows where these days; not the kind of organized movement that it was when Reich encountered it. He joins the left socialist and communist movement. He becomes active. He also becomes very interested in how you can bring treatment to the masses and becomes very involved in the leadership of the movement called the SexPol, in which they created mental health hygiene and sexual health hygiene clinics throughout Vienna;

He also becomes very interested in how you can bring treatment to the masses and becomes very involved in the leadership of the movement called the SexPol, in which they created mental health hygiene and sexual health hygiene clinics throughout Vienna;

in the ghettos, in the working communities and brought treatment but most importantly brought the ability for individuals to come in and get answers to questions that they wanted to ask. He also starts giving active speeches to the young and to youth and from all accounts these gatherings were equivalent to rock concerts today; they were very well attended, and very active. He even allowed people who were not supporters to come, provided that they were respectful and he answers to all questions seriously. This was a very unique kind of event. He was obviously a very charismatic and a strong leader.

He was obviously a very charismatic and strong leader. I would say that Reich was a psychoanalytic Marxist and basically always, through his entire work, a radical, not conservative, not left not right but radical; that means active, energetic, Reich was actually one of the early phenomenologists in the sense that he was interested in studying phenomena, particularly the energy that drives phenomena.

It’s during this period of time that he also sits down and begins, and this is typical of the way Reich works; and I think James Strick makes the point that he works this way as a scientist too; that’s all of a piece. He decides that he’s going to write about and access Marxism; so what he does is — he consumes the entire works of Marx and Engels. I think it is significant to mention Engels here since all too often he is pushed to the side; but Reich was very interested in Engels; Engels made some very salient and very important contributions to understanding of mass behavior, and it’s out of his studies for about six months or so (his intensive studies of Marx and Engels) that he begins to come up with a way to connect his psychoanalytic character analytic studies and work and at the community activism with Marxist theory and Marxist socialist action. As a result of this he begins to write on the subject and I think Dr. Bennett will give you more details on his early attempts to write on the connection between Marxist materialist theory and psychoanalysis. This sets the pattern for the rest of Reich’s life; which angers a significant portion of the psychoanalytic community particularly the older, more established psychoanalytic community; it also disturbs the more conservative elements of the left, particularly the communist party and some of the socialist adjuncts; so again Reich tends to be on his own, he has some clear supporters, he’s very charismatic, he attracts both young people and other scholars and artists, he was very involved with arts and he begins to build a circle around him and gain great deal of attention, but also a great deal of distrust by the psychoanalytic establishment as well as the leftist establishment in that he’s pushing for a kind of initiative that they’re not comfortable with; that is a little bit unsettling. Reich is not a communist! I would say that Reich was a psychoanalytic Marxist and basically, always, through his entire work, a radical, not conservative, not left not right but radical; that means active, energetic, actually with one of my colleagues here, Dr. Bingham, who is working phenomenology, Reich was actually one of the early phenomenologist in the sense that he was interested in studying phenomena, particularly the energy that drives phenomena. So as things would have it, you know it’s pretty obvious by 1933 he is not really welcome anywhere near Vienna or Berlin and has to escape! and there is a very dramatic escape under false names and on trains at night and he winds up after various attempts getting established first in Denmark, where he is not welcomed, finally settling in Oslo Norway. Now it’s very important to understand that the Norwegians, the Scandinavians in general, were extremely supportive of Reich and many of them had come to Vienna and Berlin to study with Reich specifically. So it’s very hard for us, who have a small and nice group, but small, to understand that for Reich was one of the key figures; but that as Reich himself later said, it’s wonderful to be the shark in the waters until the goldfish realize that they can organize and stop you and he begins to get attacked both from the social activists political side as well as from the psychoanalytical movement and unbeknownst to him, Freud is persuaded to abandon his support for Reich and gradually Reich is isolated in the psychoanalytic community, and without going into great detail, is essentially expelled, although he would argue that he quit before they expelled him; again Dr. Bennett has been researching some of the history of this as to the exact details. What happened specifically is that Anna Freud acting as her father’s agent arranged for him to be removed from the International Psychoanalytic Association; with a promise from the Scandinavians that he can join the Scandinavian Norwegian analytic community. He arrives in Oslo and decides that he no longer wants to be a formal member of the psychoanalytic community and establishes at this point an independent organization. In Oslo, where I’ve been beginning to work actively and where there is still a deep connection to Reich’s work. In Oslo Reich accomplishes two major shifts in his work that will determine the latter part of his life. First, he begins to build an organization that begins to incorporate his discoveries in character analytic work and in biology and physiology; he begins to develop a technique that he calls vegetotherapy. Some of you might have heard of this. In Norway it is still one of the primary forms of clinical practice. He begins to work actively on the human body; he begins to work actively on the human character structure and the armor and he begins to set a goal that will become central to orgonomic practice and one of the big problems, that non-orgonomist have with Reich’s work, is he sets a goal that health requires full pulsation of the organism — meaning: the ability of the organism to expand and contract freely or fully to its fullest potential and that can only be regulated through work but most significantly through the orgasm reflex the orgasm function.

He sets a goal that health requires full pulsation of the organism—meaning; the ability of the organism to expand and contract freely or fully to its fullest potential and that can only be regulated through work but most significantly through the orgasm reflex the orgasm function.

He is particular and meticulous in his study of this and he begins to do laboratory research on the nature and function of the orgasm, attempting to demonstrate the existence of Freud’s theoretical premise of the libido; the libido energy. Remembering that Freud very specifically states that he believed eventually somebody would study the human organism and proof the existence of libido energy as a real substance, not as a theoretical or philosophical premise.

He is particular and meticulous in his study of the nature and the function of the orgasm, attempting to demonstrate the existence of Freud’s theoretical premise of the libido, the libido energy. Remembering that Freud very specifically states that he believes eventually somebody would study the human organism and prove the existence of libido energy as a real substance not as a theoretical philosophical premise.

Reich, in a sense, always had this quality of being at the right idea at the wrong time; he decides to demonstrate this and he does; he successfully demonstrates the existence of this energy and its function at the very time that the psychoanalytic community and most other scientists are moving away from that, because it’s not comfortable and it’s leading to attacks by the moderates and the conservative right. This leads in Norway (if you’ve never been to Norway– it’s a small community where everybody knows everybody and it was smaller even so in his day. So he becomes a target for increasing attacks, he retreats more and more into his laboratory. I was there this last summer and it’s unusual for those of us who are interested in Reich.(But used to his being very marginalized here in the United States…) His home and laboratory has a plaque on it which is continuously stolen and replaced but it says that this was the home of Wilhelm Reich and this is where his laboratory was and this became an active center and landmark. He became active and he was so active he complains in “Beyond Psychology” that he couldn’t go out to a café without being either attacked or adulated and so he felt that he didn’t have any private life; which he longed for. But in Norway as he becomes more and more visible, more and more active, more and more central to the issues in Norway; key figures begin to emerge and become his students. He begins to attract so many students that move away from the center of psychoanalytic study that psychoanalysts begin to attack and particularly his closest associate and friend Otto Fenichel begins to organize an active campaign against him. Reich was often accused of being paranoid but we now know, from the archives and from the letters and from the writings, that this was not Reich’s invention. Fenichel was actively plotting against Reich and using Reich’s first wife, Annie Pink, to slander him; and Eric Fromm, another great hero of American new left, was also one of the people, who had been a student of Reich’s, and who begins to spread rumors about Reich at that time. The only one of Reich’s students, (…if you saw a list of Reich’s students and people who studied and attended his seminars, it’s quite amazing in terms of American intellectual life in the 60’s) who doesn’t lie and spread rumors is Karen Horney. Eric Fromm, Herbert Marcuse and on and on and on. Fromm actively steals and lifts, plagiarizes, work of Reich, changes bits and pieces; and then spreads the rumor along with Fenichel, in the United States, that Reich is psychotic. So Reich becomes more and more surrounded and he begins to spend more and more time,and this solution will become consistent with the rest of his life, he goes to the laboratory and work. For him work becomes central and it’s while doing this work and studying the libido where he attempts to prove the function of energy in the organism that he makes what he considers next to or even more important than his initial two major discoveries: the “Function of Orgasm” in the human organization of life function, and the discovery of what he will to name orgone energy or life energy. It is in Oslo, just before he leaves in his laboratory that he — and I won’t go into specific detail! ( If you want the actual details, which is an astounding story of science and science betrayed, by those who called themselves the keepers of science, you should read Dr. Strick’s book that was just published from Harvard University Press). It’s during this time that he discovers the existence — the literal and material existence — of this energy which he names orgone; the name is of no great significance the discovery is what it’s important. He discovers this just roughly at the time that he has to pack up and leave; literally has to pack up and leave, because the Nazi’s are coming to Norway; they’re in Scandinavia and are moving down and he gets out just in time. His choices are to move to England, where AS Neill, the founder of Summerhill, his closest and longest lasting friend, has offered him asylum and a future. I often speculate that had he gone to England he probably would’ve lived much longer and a more independent life. But he chooses the United States, basically encouraged by the idea that this is the place where democracy has the greatest opportunity, plus he has a number of students who have come from United States who have been very devoted to him; probably the most significant of which is Theodore Wolf, who is the first translator of most of Reich’s works into English;

Reich chooses the United States, basically encouraged by the idea that this is the place where democracy has the greatest opportunity, plus he has number of students who have come from United States who have been very devoted to him probably the most significant of which is Theodore Wolf, who is the first translator of most of Reich’s works into English.

although much of the translation becomes increasingly collaborative in the sense that Reich again in quite typical fashion his one of those guys who just consumes and seems to be able to incorporate knowledge. He gets English down very quickly and begins to use it very actively both in his writing and in his presentations. I’ve talked to a number of people who were present in New York City when Reich arrived by boat. In those days you can’t come by plane…so it was a long trip. When Reich arrived they reported it in the newspapers as a major event. A lot of exiles were coming from Europe. He was significant enough to be noted and his arrival was attended to by many of the key intellectuals in the Columbia and basically in Manhattan intellectual community or the East Coast intellectual community. One of the things that Reich points out in the “American Oddesy” and in some of his letters is that he chose not to socialize very much. He’d been very social in Europe in interpersonal relationships; in Europe he was referred to as Willie even by students. In United States he becomes more formal as Dr. Reich and he removes himself from active social process causing hostility. I’ve spoken to a number of people who were around when he was invited to parties that he declined to be the guest of honor and people were offended, but he removes himself actively into research and immediately sets up his laboratory again begins research on his discoveries and begins to train new and young therapist many of whom we’ve had contact with. Many of these young people came into contact with Reich very much the way Reich came into contact with Freud; they were told that there is this guy in New York who has some really interesting ideas that no one else is talking about and they went to hear lectures at The New School and these lectures were by all accounts often standing-room only and he begins to build a circle around him and he begins to train orgonomists. The more he sees at this point that the training is, for him, a means of earning the money needed the fund his research into his discovery of orgone energy. Now it’s very important I think to understand that Reich arrives in the United States at the beginning of The Second World War with the idea that he is now a major presence in the scientific world; the world of natural science, and his discoveries are, if controversial, significant and taken seriously. This will change over the war years and the events that take place in the 1950’s and on, but he begins to do more active research into the nature and function of this energy and makes incredible discoveries that will lead to his studying of what he later called the shrinking biopathy… although he’s best known to most of you, if you know it at all as the cancer biopathy, the study of cancer and its function. He later felt that cancer was too limited a focus that it was a much more profound and complex natural process of shrinking in living organisms. He begins to experiment and do treatment in this area.

He felt that the cancer was too limited a focus that it was a much more profound and complex natural process of shrinking in living organism. He begins to experiment and do treatment in this area.

Things begin to turn in on him again from both directions: both the medical establishment, and the pharmaceutical establishment, which is in its infancy. He warns, by the way, as early as the 1940’s, that the great threat to American health and wellbeing is the pharmaceutical industry and he sees it coming and of course it doesn’t gain the support of those corporate interests. But the scientific community has also moved, as James Strick points out, away from the line that Reich’s natural science is following. He increasingly becomes marginalized, for variety of reasons… and you can ask questions about that and explore that as others will present. And he demonstrates another quality I think that’s very crucial to understanding Reich as a person as well as scientist. He’s very open and trusting… sometimes too trusting and he allows reporters particularly, Mildred Eddy Brady to come in and very politely introduce herself as a friend, has a very lovely conversation with him and then publishes a scurrilous article condemning him as a crank and fraud and charlatan! This is often used as a key to Reich’s downfall. It is actually only a trigger. In fact what was behind this interestingly enough were groups like the Menenger brothers the famous Menenger clinic, who were actively participant in attacking Reich and in going after Reich. The American Psychoanalytic Association also supported by Otto Fenichel, who dies shortly around that time… very young — from a massive heart attack. He was writing letters actively throughout the psychoanalytic community undermining Reich and accusing him of all sorts of things. Reich’s wife and younger daughter become enemies; Lauri Reich, who is still alive is in her 80’s. She has now, finally after reading a number the archival materials; Laurie Reich, his daughter, has come to the conclusion that she was wrong, her father was not “the bad man” that she thought he was. The older daughter, Eva Reich, remains very close to him and becomes an orgonomist; becomes involved with the orgonomic work.

As a result of these attacks, these organized attacks; and it’s hard to understand how big these attacks were, he was sent to jail formally for failure to adhere to injunction.

So that brings me to the final stages, when, as a result of these attacks, these organized attacks; and it’s hard to understand how big this attack was… I could remember being 12 years old or so and hearing a news report on television, in Brooklyn, about this guy being sent to jail in 56 and so he was a significant player and that’s something often sadly lost on contemporary audiences or in the limited number of people who even know who Reich is and care; but he is sent to jail. And this is very important to understand: He is not sent to jail for anything to do with his scientific work, although behind it this is clearly the backdrop. He is sent to jail formally for failure to adhere to an injunction. ..and actually he never violated the injunction he just technically violated the injunction in a sense that he was the President of The Trust and since he was the President and signed off on it the fact that one of his associates, Dr. Silvet, continued to do work with the research and treatment of illness with orgone accumulators, he was found guilty of violating the injunction and he was sentenced, to everyone’s surprise, sentenced to 2 years in jail; to which even the judge who imposed sentence, thought was extreme. There were petitions signed by international circles of people who you would quickly recognize by name saying that this is a serious scientists and to not take action. He was sentenced to jail. He went to jail and he died in jail. He died essentially… probably from complications from the flu.

He died in jail essentially probably from complications from the flu.

There are conspiracy theories that continue to insist that there were something else but all indications in the evidence appear that he died from complications of the flue and heart failure. Then all hell broke loose: the estate was in disarray, the doctors and people working with him didn’t know what to do. Eventually things stabilized and through the intercession of one of the orgonomist who knew a young woman who was interested in, was interested in the work and wanted to find some real vital work in her life, took on the incredible task of saving and preserving Reich’s legacy, that was Marry Higgens who is still alive and up in Orgonon.

A young woman who was interested in the work and wanted to find some real vital work in her life, took on the incredible task of saving and preserving Reich’s legacy, that was Marry Higgens who is still alive and up in Orgonon.

Kevin Hinchy when he arrives will present that. Kevin Hinchy is the co-director now of the Wilhelm Reich Trust. The archives were slowly and arduously found and preserved with some missing sections and that’s a historical side track… but overall those archives have now been collected standardized and are as you have been told at the Countway Library, at Harvard; and for serious scholars there is access to an amazing amount of vital material.

Overall those archives have now been collected standardized and are as you have been told at the Countway Library, at Harvard, and for serious scholars there is an access to an amazing amount of vital material.

I’ll end with one anecdote… since I’m famous for my anecdotes — or infamous for my anecdotes: Dr. Sobey, who I studied with many years and who spent the last 12 years of Reich’s life very close to him and was at times his assistance, once asked Reich about his reputation as a lover and who he had been with and this and that and he told Dr. Sobey that… “You know I have a black book that I keep privately and which I listed every woman I have been with and every detail of each… and I will not allow it to be released for at least a 100 years after my death!” I asked Mary Higgens and Kevin Hinchy and I’ve asked everyone else who have been in the archive if they found such a book and evidently it doesn’t exist. We can assume that this was Reich’s way of saying that this is a stupid concern. He was evidently a very deeply committed father and husband and as deeply committed in his relationships as he was in his work. If you listen to the tapes of Reich and if you ever have an occasion to see some of the little active footage you’ll be shocked and surprised as many of you I think have been to know that he was quite lively… I felt when I first heard him I was going to hear this deep dramatic and Germanic power but he is very lively… and that’s my overview of who Reich was I don’t know if it serves you but hopefully it gets you started.

If you listen to the tapes of Reich and if you ever have an occasion to see some of the little active footage, you will be shocked and surprised to know that he was quite lively… and that’s my overview of who Reich was, I don’t know if it serves you but hopefully it gets you started.

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From Psychoanalysis to Vegetotherapy


I first got interested in Wilhelm Reich in 1962 when I read The Function of the Orgasm, and in 1963 I started therapy with someone trained by Dr. Reich, someone known to people in this room, Dr. Victor Sobey. So I was familiar with the material, but I took a break from it for a long time. There was a period of my life when I felt knowing this stuff was useless, there was nothing I could do with it except weed my own garden and I was doing that. But in 2004, I got reenergized and for the last few years I’ve been working on a book on Reich’s social and political thought. It is that material which I’ve mostly spoken on in the past. Today I’m going to branch out a little bit.

I have a Ph.D. in philosophy from NYU, so we’re going to start with a philosophy class. There are four philosophical commitments that Wilhelm Reich manifests in his work. I would like to say a few words about each of them.

Reich was a naturalist. What this means is that he had a commitment to the belief that what is natural is good. In fact, he didn’t think you really needed to teach morality or teach people to do the right thing. He felt that if people were not interfered with, they would naturally do the right thing, and what they would do would be a good thing. So for example, with children his belief in self regulation wasn’t just about eating and sleeping; it was also about their interaction with other children. If the kids had not been emotionally and sexually repressed, they would naturally do the right thing. What is natural is good for Reich, but what is not natural is not only bad but also irrational. Here’s a quote from Reich Speaks of Freud. I went back and reread this carefully because I’m talking about psychoanalysis; this is the book where Reich is reflecting on his relationship with Freud. So if you haven’t read this book it’s a really interesting book. Basically, half of the book is an interview that Reich gave to Kurt Eisler to be stored in the Freud archive.

“If you have a stream, a natural stream you must let it stream. If you dam it up somewhere it goes over the banks. That’s all. Now when the natural streaming of the bio-energy, is dammed up it also spills over, resulting in irrationality, perversions neuroses and so on. What do you have to do to correct this? You must get the stream back into its normal bed and let it flow naturally again.”

So you here the word “natural” being used and the assumption that, if it’s flowing naturally that everything is fine, and it’s only when it gets dammed up and when you move away from what’s “natural” that problems occur. This puts Reich on a direct collision course with Freud as we will see, because Freud as you may know believed that repression of sexuality was absolutely necessary. It was necessary because the young child was polymorphous perverse, it was also necessary because he felt civilization was impossible without the damming up or what he called the sublimation of sexual energy.

It’s interesting that Freud’s clearest statement of this is in the book Civilization and its Discontents. The last time Reich spoke in Freud’s inner circle was Thursday, December 12th, 1929, when he spoke of the prevention of neurosis. (The next night Reich caused a riot, and you’ll hear more about this in the third talk of the day.) It is in this book that Freud discusses at length the necessity for repression in society; and in Reich Speaks of Freud, Reich claims that Freud wrote Civilization is response to what Reich said about the prevention of neurosis in December, 1929.

In any case, It’s clear that there is a big difference between Freud and Reich on this issue of what’s “natural.”

Now there’s a related concept that’s not philosophical but there was a movement in Europe called Naturism. Naturism is this notion that being exposed to the sun is very good. It gave rise to nude sunbathing in a very popular way, not at all in the way it sometimes gets translated in more repressive cultures like ours, like how the nude beach is hard to find. Naturism was about getting out into the woods, etc, etc. There’s this great picture of Reich with Elsa and Eva and they are stripped to the waist dancing on the beach, and there are these wonderful pictures of Reich sitting and you have the impression from the way he’s sitting that he himself is probably naked, etc. That’s different from Naturalism. So I think this movement of Naturism which was very popular in Europe may explain the easy move towards having patients disrobe. Having patients disrobe, which he stared around 1937 or 38, was not such a big deal in Europe the way in this country–you’re going to jail, you’re abusing your patients, you’re doing this terrible stuff. Naturism is different from naturalism; naturism is about going out into nature and taking off your clothes. Naturalism is this whole notion that what is natural is good.

Reich is also a materialist. That is, he clearly believes that there are no disembodied psychic entities, there’s no such thing as a mind, there’s no such thing as a soul. Whatever psychological entities we talk about, like thoughts, emotions, and feeling, he had a philosophical commitment to the belief that those were instantiated in some physical way, even if we didn’t know quite how they were instantiated. That is for Reich, and he ultimately comes to believe this, psyche and soma are one, they are just two different ways of thinking about one thing. You know the famous orgonomic symbol (you have it on your schedule today), you see these two arrows pointing at each other. Well you can put psyche and soma on those two antithetical but nonetheless identical beings or aspects of the underlying reality. This means that if you recognize something on a psychological level, for example characterological armor, he had to believe that this would be manifested physically somehow. And he eventually develops this concept of muscular armor. He came to believe that when working with patients you could work either way, you could work characterologically, or you could work on the musculature, but you would be working on one and the same thing: it’s not like there two different things, they are just two different ways of working on the one thing.

In any case, he was a materialist. Next he was a rationalist, and this is more complicated. It combines with his naturalism; as I said earlier for Reich, what is natural is also rational, and what is irrational is unnatural. Reich believed that there was a rational universe the secrets of which one could come to understand, could uncover through scientific investigation. He had certain fundamental commitments, for example he believed that if two things appeared the same, there was probably a reason that would explain it and thus he draws incredible analogies between the formation of galaxies and the formation of hurricanes. etc… He also talks as if he’s an instrument of the logic of his discoveries. It’s funny language, let me read it, it’s from The Function of the Orgasm; “Everything owes its existence to the remarkable course of scientific logic. It is not false modesty when I say that I feel myself to be merely an instrument to thislogic.”

That language could be very confusing or sound mystical. Like someone or something is guiding Reich, but he’s not saying that. He’s just saying that he was following this thread, and that lead him to great inferences, but there was a logic to the world and a logic to his uncovering the world. He’s also a rationalist in the sense that he has certain fundamental commitments such as this notion of antithetical aspects being at the heart one, so you have two things like sexuality and anxiety they seem antithetical, but they are both expressions of life energy, and the life energy can either express one way or another, so beneath the antithetical there’s a unity, and that’s almost a direct quote from Reich. This is a quote; “Out of a unitary force a splitting, an antithesis develops, that is my way of thinking about natural scientific things.” Well that’s what I’m calling a rationalist commitment which he then has to instantiate empirically, he has to get out and do the work.

And finally he was an empiricist. From everything I’ve heard, Reich was incredibly intuitive as a therapist; he was brilliant that way and I think also intuitive about the universe. He might attributed that to his contact-fullness or to his orgonomic sense, but what ever intuitions he had, they then needed to be substantiated empirically. He was a scientist.

I want to now move to the relationship between Freud and Reich and then I’ll turn to the movement from psychoanalysis to vegetotherapy. First, both Freud and Reich were natural scientists. Freud’s laboratory was the treatment room initially in hospitals and then later in his own private treatment room and then his incredible intellect; he just read a lot and synthesized a lot. Reich’s laboratory was the private treatment room, the clinic, because in addition to working in Freud’s free clinics he started his own clinics in Vienna in 1929, the streets because he was in the streets, the political organizations he belonged to and his non-political organizations, but eventually the laboratory. And of course his great intellect; he also read a lot and synthesized a lot.

In terms of the sciences relevant to both Freud and Reich, Freud was very much interested in chemistry and the biology of his day, he even considered at one point that psychology could be put on a neurological basis. Some of you may know The Project for a Scientific Psychology, that he wrote in 1895; it was never published in his life. All this is discussed at length in Frank Sulloway’s book, Freud: Biologist of the Mind. He was very much interested in evolutionary biology, Freud that is.

Reich read widely on chemistry, physics, biology and when he comes to the U.S. he develops orgone biophysics, but that’s beyond our talk today– we’re going to stay in Europe. They were both materialists. Freud never doubted for a second that there was some physical basis to libido, that there was some physical basis to the unconscious, etc..He just didn’t know exactly what it was, he looked various places. Neither Freud nor Reich believed that there was such a thing as a mind trapped inside the body or that it could somehow live beyond the body except maybe through their works. (There was a guy in Germany who makes accumulators who insisted that for years he was channeling Reich, he would go into séances and speak to Reich. Well he didn’t agree with Reich because Reich was clearly a materialist.) Though there were some points at the very end of his life when Reich said things that sounded potentially mystical, but I don’t see him as a mystic.

Both Freud and Reich focused on human irrationality in a variety of ways. For Freud the focus was on the neurotic symptoms, for Reich it was more character structure, etc. They were both therapists, and they used a variety of therapeutic modalities. Freud used cocaine initially. He then studied with Charcot in France and became interested in hypnosis, so he then used hypnosis. Later he hears of this incredible case from his friend Breuer about this poor young women Anna O. and she in fact says what went on between them was a “talking cure”, and out of that grows psychoanalysis. So he moves from cocaine to psychoanalysis.

Reich also was a therapist who used different modalities. Reich started as a psychoanalyst as you know: his therapeutic mode was initially psychoanalytic though he quickly adapted psychoanalysis into what can be called character analysis, and then developed this embodied form of therapy which came to be known as vegetotherapy. But they were both therapists using a variety means and a variety of modalities.

If you read the book Freud: Biologist of the Mind, you can see clearly that Freud assumed that there was some physical basis for all this stuff. But there’s a difference between believing there’s a physical basis of something but then what kind of explanation do you use. Let me give you a quick example. It’s actually from my Ph.D. dissertation; you can go to NYU and read it. I’m going to bend over. When I did that, certain muscles tensed certain muscles relaxed, neurons fired, so you could explain what I did from a purely physiological level, but you can also explain it psychological, why did he do this, he was looking at his shoes, he wanted to greet his Japanese business partner and was showing respect, he was stretching his lower back… In other words, you could explain what I did in a variety of ways, but clearly what I did was a physical thing. Thus Freud offered psychological or psychoanalytic explanations for human behavior, but he certainly believed that beneath them or behind them was some physical reality even if he didn’t know what that reality was.

In this first talk, I’m going to focus just on therapy, I’m not going to talk about Reich’s problems with the psychoanalytic organization, I’m not going to talk about the history of that, I just want to focus on therapy.

One key feature is the existence of infantile sexuality. A second key feature is repression. Freud wrote a book called, The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement, and in this book he said “repression is the corner stone on which the whole of psychoanalysis rests.” Originally Freud believed that all neurosis were sexual in origin; Reich never gave that belief up. Freud does eventually when he introduces the concept of a death instinct that might explain human behavior, but originally, Freud and Reich were on the same page about the sexual origin of all neurosis. For Freud, we live in a culture where the repression of that sexual energy or libido is necessary, and this gives rise to an unconscious which often motivates our beliefs and actions and this unconscious has it’s own kind of language and reveals itself often symbolically. So through the use of free association to get past the censor, dream analysis, slips of the tongue, etc., the psychoanalyst interprets or looks at what the patient is saying and comes to understand the hidden meaning, and through this, the coded language of the unconscious. For example, as I recall, if you have a dream about a train, that’s always about sex. There are these standard kind of symbolic elements. You try to bring the unconscious to consciousness and hopefully when that occurs, the client has some kind of emotional expression, some kind of emotional release, abreaction, and then the symptom is diminished, that’s sort of psychoanalysis in four minutes. Takes a little longer to learn it and to practice it.

As for Reich’s relationship to psychoanalysis, Reich was born in 1897, so in 1918 he’s 21. He’s in the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He develops psoriasis and is given a furlough and goes to Vienna to get treated for his psoriasis. He’s in Vienna when it’s clear that the war is over, and while still a soldier because he was never formally removed, he enters the University. The University had an arrangement where if you are a veteran you could do courses in a less time consuming way. He enters law school, quickly decides that that’s not for him, then enters the medical school and almost immediately starts practicing psychoanalysis. In those days you didn’t have to go through formal training, you would do it and then consult with your therapist. So he starts doing psychoanalysis while he’s a medical student. Reich’s major contributions to psychoanalysis
The first contribution was the movement from symptom to character structure, and this shows up in his very first book. The first book that Reich publishes is in 1925, The Impulsive Character, and in the introduction, let me read a sentence, this translation is by Dr. Koblenzer. This is Reich in 1925: “For a long time, psychoanalysis has not been a merely symptomatic treatment, rather it has consistently been evolving into a therapy of the character. This technical change dates from Freud’s first realization that what is essential in the analytic work does not consist of guessing the unconscious meaning of the symptom and communicating it to the patient but a detecting and removing resistances.” It’s interesting he attributes this to Freud, but actually Reich continues to focus on resistance, and if you think about resistance, that’s something that underlies the symptom, and that’s how he saw the resistance. There was a characterological way of resisting life energy that gives rise to the symptom, but Reich begins to see the importance of character structure as opposed to symptomology as early as 1925.

Here’s a quote from Reich speaks of Freud where Reich is looking back on psychoanalysis, he says “You see in the psychoanalysis of the early 20′s, the neuroses or the neurotic symptom was considered to be something sick in an otherwise healthy organism. That was the idea then. It was my character analysis which introduced the basic concept that the character structure is ill or sick while the neurosis, the neurotic symptom, is only an outgrowth of a general characterological condition.”

It’s very interesting, there’s this interesting parallel between symptom and character structure like the symptom is a growth of the deeper character structure. It is analogous to Reich’s later work on cancer, where the cancer tumor is a symptom of a deeper pathology. In any case, there is an interesting parallel you see between saying that the tumor is an outer symptom of a deeper illness and in saying the neurotic symptom is one sign of a deeper characterological structure. In any case you have Reich’s movement from symptom to character.

The second contribution is Reich’s continued focus on resistance. This is very important because one of the things that Reich quickly observed is that while you could bring the unconscious material to consciousness–the patient can recall “the primal scene” (“Oh I remember now when the dog bit me”), but if there was no emotion, there would be no relief from the neurotic symptom–there had to be an emotional expression. So what was getting in the way? Well the resistance to giving in to the emotions. So Reich just kept focusing on the resistance, and that was also one of the roots of later vegetotherapy. What do I need to do to get this person capable of expressing emotion, if for example, their chest is constricted or something else is getting in the way of their expression.

So you have the movement from symptom to character structure, you have the focus on resistance, and then of course Reich felt it was incredibly important to focus on the negative transference, that is, all of the ways in which the therapist in the eyes of the patient becomes the abusing parent or whatever. Most of my time in therapy with a certain therapist who will remain nameless involves hating his guts and trying to kill him. And that’s the negative transference part. (He and I’ve come to a reconciliation; I only mildly loath him now.) So that’s Reich’s contribution to psychoanalysis. To the body The movements of the body has three major players. First there is Sandor Ferenczi, a Hungarian. He was part of the original circle of Freud’s, dismissed by Jones of being mentally ill. I don’t know if he had any basis for that dismissal, but then the use of the phrase “mentally ill” for people in that circle was pretty liberal. As you know it was used to describe Reich. So Ferenczi is one of the sources. Another source is a name that may be new to you and that’s Elsa Gindler, and then the third source is Elsa Lindenberg.

Reich refers to Ferenczi in The Function of the Orgasm. Reich says, “Ferenczi was that talented and outstanding person who was perfectly aware of the sad state of affairs in therapy. He looked for a solution in the somatic sphere and developed an “active” technique directed at the somatic tension states but he did not know of stasis neuroses and failed to take the orgasm theory seriously.”

In 1928, Otto Fenichel, Reich’s good friend at the time, wrote an article called, “Organ Libidinization Accompanying the Defense Against Drives.” In it he summarizes all the ways in which people have hinted at a muscular basis for neuroses. This is as early as 1928, and Ferenczi was the main person Fenichel is summarizing in this article.

Obviously Reich read what Fenichel had read, so he knew this literature; moreover it’s inconceivable he didn’t read this article by his then close friend, Fenichel (a friendship which disappears some years later. I just want to call your attention to some aspects of this article. This is Fenichel about Ferenczi: “In the study of the organic phenomena accompanying instinctual conflicts of the psychic apparatus, Ferenczi talked about what he called “pleasure physiology.” He observed that with progress in the analysis and the consequent resolution of psychic tension, the somatic tensions may also vanish.” So he’s beginning to see some correlation between musculature and psychoneuroses. This is again quoting from Ferenczi in the Fenichel article: “Sometimes we find it necessary to call the patients attention to his bearing, the tensions of his musculature, and through this to some extent to mobilize him. As a result, he usually begins to talk about something that was hidden or unconscious.” And he actually used “relaxation” exercises. Ferenczi also came out from behind the couch. You know in the classic psychoanalysis the patient is lying and the therapist is back here sleeping or texting, writing letters.

Ferenczi had the therapist sitting right next to the patient and he saw therapy as much more of a collaborative effort between patient and therapist, so you see a lot the roots of what later becomes standard in Reich’s therapy is in Ferenczi’s work. And maybe it’s no accident that Jones, who from all that I’ve learn was one of the most rigid, uptight Britishers, dismissed Ferenczi as being mentally ill. (Jones’ behavior in regards to Reich was just unbelievably lacking in integrity. But that’s another story.)

One of the things that Ferenczi noted was a pelvic block; he said, this is again Ferenczi’s observation, “The most extreme degrees of cramp occur in the musculature of the pelvis.” An observation which is in agreement with the fact that what succumbs to repression is in the main representative of sexual drive. So Ferenczi is seeing all this stuff but he never develops a therapy around it. But he’s making these observations. If you’ve read Reich or if you’ve been in therapy, this whole idea of a pelvic block being very important. There’s two other names I want to quote. One is Vilma Kovacs, another Hungarian psychoanalyst. In a 1925, Kovacs says, “The continuing spasm of her [that is, a patient's] total skeletal musculature served the purpose of maintaining and hiding sexual excitement.” So here is the insight that not only is psychoneuroses manifested muscularly but it has to do with sex, it has to do with a way of binding up sexual excitation. Again this will become incredibly important to Reich’s therapy. Also Felix Deutsch had talked about somatic health: he said it “means, in the psychoanalytic sense, freedom from pathologically bound organ libido.” So you see all of these fascinating things. Sometimes people think Reich was a genius, which he was, but he didn’t make this stuff up, he was a very smart reader. He absorbed and took in so many different things, and out came his unique therapy. I really encourage you to someday read this Fenichel article. Now Reich clearly read all of this.

Now movement therapy. This woman Elsa Gindler who I mentioned a moment ago, and that may be a new name to some of you, she developed a form of therapeutic movement and breath. She like Reich suffered at one point from TB. I don’t know if you’re aware that both Reich’s father and brother died of tuberculosis, and Reich himself got tuberculosis early in 1927; he went to Davos where he finished writing The Function of the Orgasm, the first one. While she was curing herself from tuberculosis she made observations about breath, and the way movement could facilitate breath. So that’s Elsa Gindler. Now she wasn’t doing this out of yoga, she was doing it this with her own body.

When Fenichel moved to Berlin in 1922 (I don’t know what took him to Berlin), a woman named Clara Nathenson who later becomes Clara Fenichel studied with Gindler and apparently Fenichel himself studied with this woman. Apparently when Annie and Wilhelm Reich moved to Berlin in the fall of 1930 (they moved together though there relationship wasn’t too strong) according to Eva Reich (I don’t know if this is correct), Annie studied with Clara, together with Eva. Eva must have been 6 years old, and when they would come home, Reich would always ask questions, what is this thing that you’re doing, what is this movement stuff, so if this is correct Reich is getting this idea through Annie and Eva and through the Fenichels that there is some kind of muscular, there’s a way of addressing this muscular correlation or correlative of neurotic symptomology or neurotic character.

Mayday, 1932, Reich meets Elsa Lindenburg, who becomes his second “wife;” he never legally married her but she was his wife. She was a dancer, she studied with Laban in Berlin, and he believed in democratizing dance, dance for the masses. He also developed this elaborate notation system for noting the choreographed piece. (He was also a Nazi, but we’ll leave that out.) So you have this sense that perhaps Reich, through his relationship with Elsa, through his learning about this Elsa Gindler, is developing this notion that we can do therapy on this bodily level.

Indeed, in turn he is influencing Elsa. So Reich leaves for the states in August 1939, Elsa stays behind in Norway, and this was a pretty iffy thing even though she wasn’t Jewish, but she was certainly a communist, and you know the Germans occupied Norway pretty easily and quickly. My buddy, known to some in this room, Bjorn Blumenthal, after the war when Blumenthal entered the University, he took classes with Elsa Lindenberg and it was through taking these classes that he first came to Reich; that’s how he learned about Reich and now he runs the Norwegian Institute of Vegetotherapy– I guess it’s one of the main training institutes in Oslo for new therapists. So his contact with Reich was through Elsa Lindenberg and again this bodily therapy.

So you have a theoretical commitment, things must be instantiated on the body, you have the influence of Ferenczi and these other people I mentioned, also this notion of breath, and slowly Reich begins to develop this therapy. In 1937 he writes an article about the respiratory block, so he’s already noticing a correlation between the musculature and breathing and the way this is inhibiting the flow of life energy. And by 1938 his patients are disrobing so he can more clearly see the armor, but also call it to their attention perhaps by touching or something of that sort. Reich by the way, I forgot to mention this earlier, was an incredible mimic: he was a very very good actor, so he could play back to his patient their typical facial or bodily expression or something like that to try to make it public. When Neill comes over, Neill and Reich meet in Oslo, Neill comes over in the summers for therapy, he talks about disrobing. So this disrobing begins around 1938, but remember folks were much more casual about nudity than they are in the U.S.

When Reich first comes to the U.S., he puts out his English language journal, The Journal of Sex Economy and Orgone Research. The first issue occurs in 1942, and the opening article is The History of Our Institute, and in that article he says, “We’re relatively new here, there is as yet no pedagogical group nor anyone doing therapeutic gymnastics.”

What is this therapeutic gymnastics? Well, the following year, and article appeared in the IJSO, by Lucille Bellamy, and I’ll just read a few paragraphs: “The principles of vegetotherapeutic gymnastics was first worked out by Elsa Lindenberg, a coworker of Dr. Reich’s in Norway, beginning in 1936. Thus although I developed my method independently, during a time I myself underwent vegetotherapy, I am not the first to use such a method.” And then she says, “The underlying principle of vegetotherapy is the establishment of the orgasm reflex. This is also my goal as a teacher of vegetotherapeutic gymnastics, however it would be untrue for me, to assert that orgastic potency may be achieved through gymnastics; it must be plainly understood that I consider such results for my work impossible. It is only through the treatment of the vegetotherapist that orgastic potency is made probable. I consider vegetotherapeutic gymnastics as a correlate of vegatotherapy.” The point here is that Reich recognized the need for or possibility of a correlative to the ongoing therapy in the form of exercises of various sorts, at least at this point.

My final thing I would like to show you, In Reich Speaks of Freud, there is an article of Reich’s from 1938 where he distinguishes vegetotherapy from psychoanalysis. And you can read it yourself. Where psychoanalysis talks about repression, vegetotherapy talks about vegetative block. Where psychoanalysis talks about sexual origin of neurosis etiology, vegetotherapy talks about the function of the orgasm and emotional disturbances caused by disturbances to this function, etc. So the goal of psychoanalysis is the discovery of unconscious emotional mechanisms, the goal of vegetotherapy is discovering the vegetative physical mechanisms, etc. All of this is in Reich speaks of Freud, I strongly encourage you to read it in that book on pages 270-274.

 

Dr. Philip W. Bennett Biography:

Philip W. Bennett, PhD, has a long standing interest in Wilhelm Reich which began in the mid-sixties and included therapy with Dr. Victor Sobey. His main focus these days is on Reich’s social and political thought, in an attempt to understand fully what Reich means by work democracy. His recently published article, “Wilhelm Reich’s Early Writings on Work Democracy: A Theoretical Basis for Challenging Fascism Then and Now,” appears in the current issue of Capitalism. Nature. Socialism. (March, 2010). His article, “The Persecution of the Dr. Wilhelm Reich by the Government of the United States,” appeared in the International Forum of Psychoanalysis, earlier this year (Vol 19, #1, 2010). His article, “Double-Blind Controlled Experiments and the Orgone Energy Accumulator,” will appear in the next issue of the Annals of the Institute of Orgonomic Science. Prof. Bennett has spoken a summer conferences at Orgonon and at one-day conferences in New York City, sponsored by The Institute for the Study of the Work of Wilhelm Reich.

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Dr Sobey on Einstein’s Affair – December 1994 Part 5 & 6


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Dr. Sobey on Einstein’s Affair – December 1994 Part 3 & 4


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Dr. Sobey on Einstein’s Affair – December 1994 Part 1 & 2


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Sublimation According to Anna Freud


One part of Reich Speaks of Freud is a transcript of an interview between Dr. Wilhelm Reich and Dr. Kurt Robert Eissler. Dr Reich says:

Will our children, in a hundred years, when they are five or six years old, be able to live their natural lives as nature or God ordains it? Or will they sublimate according to Anna Freud?

In psychology, sublimation is defined as the process of modifying an instinctual impulse in such a way as to conform to the demand of society. Sublimation is a substitute activity which gives some measure of gratification to the impulse; the impulse has been repudiated in its original form.  In other words, sublimation is a form of desexualization  in which the instinctive impulse is in some way deflected into socially acceptable channels, instead of requiring control by constant counterforce. The aim or object of the underlying drive is changed without blocking an adequate discharge.
With sublimation, contrary to the mechanism of repression, it is assumed that the impulse or the wish is modified in such a way that gratification can be achieved without disapproval or disapprobation. In sublimation, the ego is not acting in opposition of the instinctual force or Id; on the contrary, it helps the Id gain external expression by modifying and changing its form to conform the social structure.
Since its inception psychoanalytic psychology in praxis has advocated sublimation as the answer to the sexual demands nascent to childhood and adolescence.  The majority of child psychiatry and child psychology, along with most psychoanalytic books and literature, typically all respond to  children and adolescent sexual demand in the same way: Most all texts refer to the process of sublimation, and in turn advocate for adolescents and children to desexualize their impulses and express this demand in a socially acceptable manner.
In her well-received book Normality and Pathology in Childhood: Assessments of Development Anna Freud writes about a child’s developmental capacity for sublimation as the initial process for developing the capacity to do the actual work later on.
Sigmund Freud with his daughter Anna Freud.
In contrast to psychoanalytic psychology, a field that claims sublimation of the sexual drive is effective in an adequate discharge of libido energy in desexualized and socially acceptable channels, those of us who work in the field of orgonomy (but also those who keep in contact with his or her inner feelings) recognize that sublimation is only rarely capable of providing adequate discharge for sexual energy. This energy is incessantly produced from the core of the organism; if mishandled either by repression or another kind of deflection, a child will end up simply feeling like he or she will explode.
The child or adolescent has to find a way to conform his biological needs to cultural and social demands. Orgonomy, in contrast to psychoanalytic psychology that accepted the social and cultural norms and demands, suggests that the social and cultural institutions should adjust themselves and conform to the needs of children and adolescents. Not the other way around. Orgonomy posits that people who are sexually content and happy are most productive and behave and act in accordance to  natural moral codes that are self regulated. In general, the process of productive work is far higher among people who are sexually happy and satisfied in contrast to those who have to struggle to repress their sexual demands.
Work and Sexuality: The following is a diagram of reactive and sex-economic way of working from The Function of the Orgasm by Wilhelm Reich.
Dr. Reich had discovered the process of psychological and physical armoring. This develops as a natural consequence of a young person’s struggle with repressing their natural and instinctual primary drives. This has a devastating effect on their structure. Once the process of armoring begins, all types of psychological and physical illness ensues.
Recognizing the general misery of youth, Dr. Reich published a booklet for this audience called The Sexual Struggle of Youth, in 1932. The booklet’s introduction states:
The following pages were written for young people without any upper or lower age limit. My purpose in setting down these remarks is not to provide the usual kind of ‘sex education’ which avoids the question of adolescent sexual intercourse; instead it is my intention, based on well founded scientific conviction, to give young people a definite answer to the serious question that they have about their maturing sexuality.
He goes on to write:
Many a young person approaching puberty must develop a moralistic, defensive attitude against the unconscious urges of his sexuality, as well as against any knowledge from outside, simply in order to give himself an artificial prop to cling to. He is unaware of the relationship between his sexuality and the daydreams that torture him, his moodiness, his states of excitation, and other plights; he acts and thinks under the compulsive authority of a foreign will that forbids him to obtain sexual knowledge. This foreign will stems from education and has become a part of his own character, which now acts contrary to his natural bodily needs.
“Young people are contaminated on the one hand by moralizers and advocates of abstinence and, on the other hand by pornographic literature,” Dr. Reich continues. “Both influences are extremely dangerous, the former no less than the latter.” In recognizing this, he writes, “The sexual misery of modern youth is immeasurable, but most of it is out of sight, beneath the surface.”
In his book The Function of the Orgasm, Reich writes the following:
Viewed socially, Freud’s discovery of child sexuality and sexual repression was the first dim awareness of the sexual renunciation which had been going on for thousands of years. This awakening consciousness still appeared in a highly academic garb and had little faith in its own movements. The question of human sexuality had to be shifted from the dark corners of the social framework, where for thousands of years it had been leading a filthy, distorted and festering life, to the very front of the shiny edifice grandiosely called “culture” and “civilization.” Sexual murder, criminal abortions, the sexual agony of adolescents, the killing of all vital impulses in children, perversions en masse, pornography and the vice squad that goes with it, exploitation of the human longing for love by a cheap and prurient consumer industry and commercial advertising, millions of illnesses of a psychic and somatic nature, loneliness and psychic deformity everywhere, and—on top of this—the neurotic politicizing of the would-be saviors of mankind could hardly be looked upon as showpieces of civilization.
In the same book, Dr. Reich sites the work of anthropologist Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski. In his 1929 book The Sexual Life of Savage, Malinowski described his observation in the primitive tribes. For example, in the Trobriander primitive tribe who live in an archipelago of coral-based atolls off Eastern New Guinea, the sexual life of the children developed naturally, free and without interference throughout all stages of life, with full sexual gratification,  Malinowski found them to be ignorant of sexual perversions, functional mental illnesses, psychoneurosis or sexual murders. They had no word for theft; the strict, compulsory neurotic toilet training was unknown to the Trobriander child, hence the Trobriander is spontaneously clean, orderly, naturally social, intelligent and industrious. Another observation was that the Trobrainder people took part in non-compulsive, voluntary monogamous marriage that could be dissolved at any time without difficulties. This kind of marriage was the observed, prevalent social form of sexual life; there was no observed promiscuity.
1918 Bronislaw Malinowski with Trobriand Islanders
A few miles from the Trobriand Islands, on the Amphlett Islands, there lived a tribe having a patriarchal, authoritarian family arrangement. All the characteristics of the European neurotics (distrust, anxiety, neuroses, suicides, perversion, etc.) were already evident in the natives of this island.
Upon noting this, Dr. Reich asks “To what extent does a population enjoy natural sexuality? It is the pivotal question of mental hygiene.”
The sexual life of a European or American in his or her early twenties, for example, is currently far advanced than in the early 1900’s or even prior to WWII, when Dr. Reich was struggling to establish his theories. At that time sexual relations outside of marriage were expressly and implicitly prohibited for young men and women, regardless of the notion of “legal age.” Virginity was strictly imposed as a standard for women, which now seems foolish and disgustingly inhuman in western societies. The changes that have occurred in relation to sexuality reflect the gradual progression of social trends. Dr. Reich predicted and advocated for these same ideas since the 1920s:
The question is: Will our children in a hundred years, when they are five or six years old, be able to live their natural lives as nature or God ordains it? Or will they sublimate according to Anna Freud? [...] If I can help it, the first will be the case [...] Sublimated work or good cultural achivement is possible only after the basic needs are satisfied.
Nevertheless, and despite advances, sexual needs of adolescents and children remain repressed to the widest degrees, though there have been some timid movements to establish their rights in western societies.
We in orgonomy believe that the prediction of Dr. Reich will come true. It is something which is reflected by historical changes that we see now, and in fact, it must come true if there is any hope for a world free of human psychopathology, and all other ills that stem from it.

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Conspiracy Period (Part 7 & 8)


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Conspiracy Period (Part 5 & 6)


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Conspiracy Period (Part 3 & 4)


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Conspiracy Period (Part 1 & 2)


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Our Teenage Suicide Bombers


Hardly a day goes by without a newspaper or television news report of a suicide bombing incident. Here, a selection of those incidents from 2010.

- On October 18th, the BBC reported from Northwest Pakistan that police shot and killed the teenage driver of a Toyota Surf jeep. The unnamed, suspected bomber was “about 13-15 years old,” and had been speeding toward a checkpoint when the police opened fire.

- Last December 9, there was an AFP report: “Teenage suicide bomber kills 17 in Pakistan’s northwest.” In this incident, “a teenage suicide bomber killed 17 people at a busy Pakistani market Wednesday, the third attack in three days blamed on Islamist extremists bitterly opposed to the US-allied government. Three boys were among those killed when the bomber struck in Kohat, a city of at least half a million and one of the main army garrisons, in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

- On April 19, 2010, The New York Times reported that “[a] teenage suicide bomber struck near a protest rally in the northwestern frontier city of Peshawar on Monday, killing a prominent police officer and as many as two dozen protesters, the police said.  A bomb disposal official said the young bomber was wearing a vest with as many as 15 pounds of explosives. “Television cameras showed a frenzied scene of Islamic youths from the protest helping people on to stretchers and clapping their hands in grief.”

Bombing in Islamabad, Pakistan

- On July 26th, a report from France International News: “Teenage suicide bomber targets anti-Taliban minister, kills 7.”  During this incident, “seven people were killed by a teenage suicide bomber on Monday in an attack on a senior anti-Taliban minister. The minister and other officials were unharmed.” Elsewhere in the same report it is stated that while “there was no immediate claim of responsibility, suspicion fell on the Islamist militants who have wrought carnage across Pakistan, killing more than 3570 people over the last three years.”

- On November 5, 2010, Reuters News reported “A teenage suicide bomber kills 10 in Afghanistan.  It describes the following, “A teenage suicide bomber killed at least 10 people and wounded 30 in an attack at a market in Afghanistan’s remote northwest, a provincial governor said on Friday.  The suicide bomber was a 16 year old boy and the attack was launched in a bazaar in the Khoja Sabz Posh district of Faryab, about 600 kilometers northwest of Kabul.

- On April 2, 2010, The New York Times reported on one of the two female suicide bombers who had killed 40 people in Moscow subway station attacks carried out during morning rush hour.  One of the bombers was a 17-year-old woman, Dagestani Dzhanet Abdullayeva; she detonated a belt of explosives inside the Park Kultury station. “Baby-faced, she looks barely a teenager,” reports the New York Times, “but the pistol she is holding in the photograph suggests the violent destiny that she would choose: blowing herself up in a subway station in Moscow during the morning rush on Monday.”

- On December 31, ABC News issued a report an intervention attempt for would-be bombers, “Rehab for terrorists,” read the headline, “Pakistan Tries Reintegration Program on Teen Extremists.” The report described the effort of Pakistani military officials in their attempt to “rehabilitate more than 150 teenage extremists” with “psychiatry, education and religion,” with an uncertain effects. “The opinion on whether terrorists can be rehabilitated are still mixed,” the article asserts. “Saudi Arabia has tried to reeducate known Jihadist’s for the past few years with limited success, but the Pakistani military believes its program can teach young men, ages 14-17, how to think for themselves and how to become productive members of society.”

Elsewhere the news goes on, endlessly depicting young teenagers blowing themselves up into pieces, with one excuse or another. The website Human Rights Today even has a separate page devoted to teenage suicide bomber reports. Perhaps surprisingly, most of these teenagers are not from areas with a history of violent conflict or genocide, places in which their homes were destroyed and their lives were dismantled. No reports exist that justify these suicidal missions.  Instead, most of these incidents occurred as a direct result of ideological differences, such as one religious sect against another; Sunni against Shiite, Muslim against Christian, Shiite against Sunni, or one political sect against another political sect, all under one nation and similar culture.

If these political and religious differences are so crucial and intense, necessitating this radical action, then why aren’t the parents and grandparents of these teenagers carrying out these missions?  The parent and grandparents must be more ideologically convinced of their righteousness.  One may ask, why wouldn’t their parents or community leaders carry out these missions on their own in order to let their youngsters live happy and full lives?  Furthermore, this trend raises the question of what is it about adolescents that makes them so readily available and prone to accept such missions, to blow themselves up, killing themselves and others.

Pakistani military official Pakistani Col. Iman Bilal explains the effort to “rehabilitate” young extremists as such: “The basic concept is to provide them all their comparative education, where they are able to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, that whatever was told to them previously is not true. Imam Bilal continues, “It is not all about being radical, it is about being a decent human being first.”

The orgonomic and Reichian point of view in this matter is rather different from the Pakistani officials. We believe that without the inclusion of the orgonomic principles, the vulnerability and risk of youngsters taking up such actions will continue, and with it will continue endless incidents of suicide bombings.

The vulnerability of these teenagers and young men to volunteer themselves so readily for such suicidal missions can be explained in terms of Reichian ideas.

Comprehension of the human psychological structure is essential for understanding both rational and irrational, social or anti-social, and healthy or sick behavior. Orgonomy recognizes the basic significance of bio-psychosexual-energy functioning in every living organism. It recognizes its pulsating quality and other characteristics of such an energy, the life energy, the orgone energy. This is the same energy that Freud named libido energy. In the book, Reich Speaks of Freud, Reich states  “Freud introduced the energy principle into psychology, and, in doing so, he broke the barrier which separated the science of that day from that of today.”

Elsewhere in the same book, Reich says the following “Basically, Freud discovered the principle of energy functioning of the psychic apparatus. The energy-functioning principle. This was what distinguished him from all other psychologists. Not so much the discovery of the unconscious. The unconscious, the theory of the unconscious, was, to my mind a consequence of the principle he introduced into psychology. That was the principle, the natural scientific principle, of energy – the ‘libido theory.”

Reich says the following, “Now, what are these social consequences? What are the social consequences of the libido theory? You have it in all of my publication.  I would like to summarize it in a few words: If you have a stream, a natural stream, you must let it stream. If you damn it up somewhere, it goes over the banks.  That’s all. Now when the natural streaming of the bio-energy is damned up, it also spills over, resulting in irrationality, perversions, neurosis and so on.”

Without recognition of the significance of this theory – the libido theory, or the theory of the psycho-sexual energy, orgone energy – human psychological structure can not be comprehended adequately; the disciplines of Psychology and Psychiatry will continue to be lost in convoluted and confusing theories.  For further information please see Reich’s Points of Departure from Freud.

Every human organism shares a basic function with all other living organisms starting from the protozoa. It is of the sharing the function of the pulsation.  This pulsating energy flows from the center of the organism to its periphery and it requires orderly metabolism.  In orgonomy, we describe it as economy of the energy.  Proper production and discharge of the energy is crucial in the healthy functioning of the living organism including humans.  Reich also called it “Sex Economy”, since biological energy and sexual energy are of the same and one entity, referring to the proper production and discharge, proper metabolism of this energy.  When the flow of this energy – when the economy and metabolism of this energy – is disturbed, it causes numerous psychological and physical disturbances in the body and psyche.  Energy production is highest in childhood and adolescence, and unfortunately its economy is also most disturbed during those years because of social restrictions.  If it is not discharged properly, this pulsating energy that constantly and incessantly springs inside the human organism will make the organism resemble a grossly over-inflated ball. Reich made the analogy of such an elastic ball with an organic bladder. In a section of the book The Function of the Orgasm, under the description of masochistic behavior, he describes the following;

“How would an organic bladder behave if it was inflated with air from within and was unable to burst – in other words, if it’s covering was capable of being stretched but not being torn? The picture of the human character as an armor around the core of the living organism was extremely significant. If such a bladder were put into an unresolvable condition of tension and it could express itself, it would complain, rendered helpless, it would seek the causes of its suffering outside of itself and make reproaches. It would beg to be pricked open. It would provoke its surroundings until it believed it has reached its goal. What it had failed to bring about spontaneously from the inside it would passively and helplessly expect from the outside.”


Discharge of this psychosexual energy is most complete and satisfactory by orgastic convulsions of the organism.  Without such satisfactory discharge of energy, significant part of the energy remains accumulated, and makes the teenager feel ready to explode.  Most of these teenage suicide bombers are from the cultures that are the most repressive and disapproving of sexuality in adolescence, causing the most severe repression of sexual discharge and consequently a sense of hopelessness of any prospect of pleasurable encounter and discharge of the energy. Making them vulnerable to the ideas of explosion, a sense that they already feel from within.  Such an idea of explosion would be appealing since it would relieve them from the painful pressure inside, let alone the prospect of pleasurable scenarios depicted for them after the explosion with sexual innuendoes.

We wonder if educators in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who want to rehabilitate these youngsters will have the structural health capable of gaining insight and courage to implement these principles and include them in their programs for their rehabilitations of the youth. We wonder if the public of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Pakistan will support them in including such principles in their rehabilitation program.  We wonder if educators in the United States will be able to take a leap and have the courage to incorporate these principles in the upbringing of youth as Reich has suggested some 70 years ago, to prevent incidents like Columbine High School and other mass killings that have occurred in the United States.  Or will we wait for another 50 years, if we haven’t blown ourselves up by then.

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