Tag Archive | "Dr Harry Lewis"

A Time Line – Wilhelm Reich and the Science of Life Energy


"Wilhelm Reich: A Time Line"
Contribution to the orgonomy conference, "Wilhelm Reich and the Science of Life Energy-Orgonomy" November 9, 2019, NYC.

Introduction of Dr. Harry Lewis by Dr. Alexander Bingham, moderator of the conference:

The first speaker who is Doctor Harry Lewis and he is my mentor as well as one of the only practicing orgone therapists on the planet. And they are few of us and he is most senior at this point and I would like you to welcome him up here for William Reich time line.

Dr. Harry Lewis:

Let me just quickly start by saying that I may be senior but I am not the only orgone therapist in this plant and there a number of others who are present here today. I just want to make a quick remark and give thanks to a couple of people. Dr. Simonian, who really pushed and organized the idea of having a conference in New York. Being a new Yorker I tend to be somewhat skeptical, but being an enthusiastic Californian visionary, he insisted on pushing through and getting it done. It is very pleasing to see so many people here. There is a whole group of people who I know, Dr. Daniel Schiff, who is in Oregon and also works in Mexico City and the group from Mexico City who are here, Patricia Estrada is one of the directors of the training program in Latin America. There are also a number of others very devoted orgone therapists and practitioners which will come up during the conference, but mostly I am pleased to see that there are many people here that I do not recognize and I'm pleased to see them. I'm used to speaking to groups of people in New York whom I have known for the last frothy or fifty years, and they have heard almost everything that I have to say, but since I am seeing you anew, I can repeat myself.

I want also to thank Philip Bennett, who went through the trouble of doing technological work for me which I couldn't even conceive of in writing down my timeline which I have on old fashioned way with a note and on yellow paper. At any rate I want to talk about how we got here today and the key is the work of Wilhelm Reich which started very early in his life. So, the first thing to consider is that Reich's life and work really fundamentally are identical. He is very clear about that; he says that in many occasions in lectures and discussions and some of the tapes which are available through the Museum and the Trust. Reich always felt that the key to his work and his life was that from the very early age, on a farm in Glaicia, he was focused on energy and he was fascinated with the energy of the animals and the energy of nature. In the first volume of his autobiography “Passion of Youth” he states clearly that instead of fallowing money that he was not very good at, he fallowed the energy and that took him to many diverse and strange and wonderful places even to the space.

So, his life and work always revolved around energy. He was born in 1897, in Galicia, which when I was a kid growing up was referred to by most Jewish people as Russ Poland meaning that Russia took over and Poland took it over and the Austro-Hungarian Empire took it over and it was never really settled, but it is very important to understand that it is an incredibly beautiful lake region , farm region and Reich commented on that later in life and part of the reason he ended up in Rangeley , is that when he first saw Rangeley, on a hiking trip it remined him of his ancestors' home. So he goes to Vienna in 1918 and this is the result of a special scholarship that was awarded to veterans of the first world war, as a lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian Empire army, realizing that the war was a disaster and futile, he took a job up in the mountains away from fighting and eventually got out and got to Vienna, broke and destitute, and started studing law, got bored with it , which is also true about Freud, he started studying law and philosophy and got bored with it. Reich moved to medicine because that was where biology was and where they were talking about the forbidden topic on some level, of sex and he was interested in that. He becomes a medical student, and pays his way by tutoring other medical students while he was studying medicine and gets his degree. He moves on, is noted by Freud's inner circle in 1919 and is invited into the psychoanalytic movement, which was for young people the place to be in Vienna, where things were really happening. The response of the old guys was that Reich was brilliant and talented except that he used the word “sex” too much. Anyway by 1922-23 he begins to publish and make himself known as very talented researcher and scholar as well as a clinician. He gets to be noticed by Freud, who begins to think of him as as potential person on the rise. During this time, he begins to become interest in social activism. Things were very unstable and radically violent during this period in Vienna, Berlin as well as the whole German and Austrian Empire. He becomes increasingly radicalized and finely becomes deeply associated with the Marxist leftist movements. Unlike most people who become enthusiastic leftist, Marxist or radicals Reich did what he always did, he studied. So, he pulled back and spent a few months, reading all of the Marx and incorporate into his work. I am convinced that he was also reading Engels, because I think Marx is less important for Reich in some ways than Engels. Engels is a central influence in Reich's thinking and development, as well as William Darwin, but Darwin was way ahead of Freud. Freud was frightened that Darwin was going to do it and he was, except that he got it in 1972 and Freud gained all Darwin's notes and information to develop his “Primal Scene”. Reich understood that Darwin was really a central force in all of this and looking in Reich's development, I would say Marx, Engels, Darwin and then Freud, even though Reich would say Freud was central, but Freud probably is less important as many other's for Reich. Again, people whom Reich seemed most interested in, were those who were most interested in energy. By 1930 or so he was risen to a position of leadership in the psychoanalytic movement, particularly in Vienna, that he was the founder of first clinical seminar, he goes to Freud and says the problem is that there are no quantified or empirically establish technique, and the way of learning then was that one of the older members of the community would give you a card and say be in such and such time in this place and a patient would appear, and they would say talk to them, and when you get into a problem come to me and ask me what to do! That was the way you would be trained. Reich talks about it in “Reich Speaks of Freud”

Reich established the technical seminar, out of that technical seminar emerges his first major work which is “Character Analysis” which has profoundly affected the development of psychoanalysis.

Character analysis is still fundamental text in psychoanalytic training. So, Reich becomes the go to person in terms of the movement in psychoanalysis. By 1934 he became clearly identified as a Marxist, but reality is he is active in the communist party and in the streets organizing. He is also active in developing psychoanalytic work with population and real people in general. He is instrumental in the movement of public health clinics called the “sex pol” movement, with his wife Annie Pink and his close associate Otto Fenichel. This gets him lots of attention but it also begins to upset Freud who remains aloof but orders Anna Freud his surrogate to take him down and they did. By 1934 at the Lucerne International Conference of Psychoanalysis they organize a movement to oust him out of psychoanalytic movement.

I will refer you to a very good book in terms of a timeline by David Bodella “Wilhelm Reich Evolution of his work “is available and how step by step Reich developed. So, hopefully when Philip Bennett's book comes out will add to it. But Reich responds to the attacks and to the attempts to remove him he pulls back settles down, organizes his own movement,

At this point he is primarily focused on character analysis, social activity of mass psychology and beginnings of biophysical work which latter on he called vegetotherapy , which in our language sounds a bit strange but it implies the work with the vegetative nervous system, which is the beginning of what he formally moved beyond psychology. One of the crucial things that I will emphasis is that Reich is not at the end a psychologist. From this point on he becomes less and less of psychologist. Orgone therapy is not a psychological system, it uses psychology as the byproduct as a way of understanding human experience in the world but it is not a primary way in. So, Reich is very clear about this by this time, this corresponds to the fact that he is also known as a wanted man, he is in Berlin where his roommate is Willy Brant, who later became the president of the west German Republic after the war. Brant was a leading leftist and a close friend of Reich and remained very positive and loyal to Reich. In those days Reich was known as Willy, he began to go only as Dr. Reich when he moved to the United States. So, he begins to realize that he has to get out of Berlin in 1933. He is very clear that it is not going to last very long before he will be hunted down, so under a pseudonym he gets back to Vienna, takes care of his affaires and begins to travel. He becomes a wondering orgonomist, he goes to Denmark where they actively work to get him asylum but he is refused. He finally goes to Oslo where with the influence of many individuals, who were very powerful he became a resident, and under a resident visa begins to do active work. In this period of time, he begins to pull more and more away from active therapy and becomes primarily focused on vegetotherapy and character analysis and training of therapists. I work in Norway couple of times a year and it is amazing to realize the influence of Reich on Scandinavian mental health which is profound. It is one of the central bodies of work that informs many of the institutes and hospitals, and to tell someone that you are a student of Reich's work or you work in orgonomy is not something which will get you in trouble but will command respect and interest. So, his students at the end of the war took over the mental health movement in most of the Scandinavian countries. People like Nic Waal, Ola Raknes, and others, the development of mental health concept in child development in Scandinavia particularly Norway and Denmark. So, Reich, while becomes increasingly central in these countries becomes less and less interested in teaching people to be psychologists or therapist and increasingly becomes interested in biological research and study of the nature of energy and human existence and life in general. Jim Strick will talk about that very eloquently and I recommend his book, “Wilhelm Reich Biologist” from Harvard University Press. So, In Norway, fascist elements and movements in Scandinavia eventually made Reich realized that it is the time to get out of Norway. He decides that his choices were either he could go to England, as A.S. Neil, his close friend suggested or he could go to the US, where his friend Bronislaw Malinowski was inviting him. Reich decided to come to US since it was less likely that the Germans could invade the US. It was expected that they would take England and soon after would take the continent. So, he emigrates to the US, with the visa to teach because he was invited to teach in the New School, but they do not want to talk about Reich, although there is some information in their archives. In the United States he founds a medical psychiatry seminar and lecture, at the New Scholl for social research and begins to do private practice in Forest Hills New York, Queens, and begins to create a new movement known as orgonomy , orgone science, and moves deeper and deeper into research. So, the doctors would train with him the last one who died few months ago was Dr. Morton Herskowitz.

In United States he became increasingly involved in understanding of the nature and function of orgone energy which he discovered. So, I will sum up and say for Reich, two fundamental principles that he felt he discovered was the function of orgasm, and the discovery of orgone energy. He was clear that he is not the first who recognized the existence of this energy, but he was the first to materially demonstrate as a collectable, workable and useable form of energy with very specific characteristics. This research and work and increased interest in biopathies or illnesses ,diseases and how they can be treated, gets him into position to be attacked by the existing authorities , he is attacked by the groups on the left, groups on the right, and by the Food and Drug administration and medical association who began to actively and persistently attack. It is hard for us to understand how vicious this was and how massive this was. As a kid I will remember seeing the New York Post which was a leftist liberal newspaper in New York City at that time writing articles about this crazy Doctor who was very dangerous and how to get rid of. So, this leads to the finale which is his being attacked by the Food and Drug Administration, with charges that he is a quack and a charlatan, and a fraud, and eventually he was convicted of refusal of honoring the injunction. He sentenced against every body's recommendation including prosecution, to eighteen months in prison, where he dies in November 3rd 1957 in federal prison, dies officially of heart attack. There are some conspiracy theories, that it was staged but there is no evidence of that. At the end of his life this man who was supposedly a fraud and a quack, and a money hustler died totally destitute and broke , three hundred thousand dollars in debt, eventually a woman who was a patient of one of the doctors , Mary Higgins who recently died ,took this on as her life's work and saved what was remaining of the estate and put it back in shape and managed by 1960 to get Reich's work back in print. Reich's books under this prosecution were banned, all of them were banned, and taken out under the supervision of Dr. Soby whom I worked with for years to be burned in incinerator. He and Dr. Handelman used to throw books into laundry bags when they were pouring the books to be burned in the incinerator. Dr. Soby said one of the guards was crying and he asked him why he was crying? Said, I don't understand, I just came back from the war, I was in Germany, we were there to stop this kind of thing and here I am doing it now. That was the end of Reich's work for close to ten years and Marry Higgins in the 1960's slowly started to bring the books back in with the help of Farrar, Straus and Giroux publisher, so; that was my quick run through.

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The End of an Era, A Reflection on Dr. Morton Herskowitz


 

On Monday, August 6, 2018, members of the Institute of Orgonomic Science received the sad news that Dr. Herskowitz had passed away that morning. "He gave so much and brightened so many lives,". After this news, Dr. Harry Lewis, a member of the IOS, wrote the following:

 

 

Dr. Morton Herskowitz died, it was announced this morning.

While many of us knew it was coming and were expecting it, it is still a great loss of a great person. I was fortunate to know him and share time with him. He will be missed, and this ends an era.

He was smart, funny, a gifted clinician, and a damn good person, which is very rare in this day and age–or maybe at any time.

My condolences to his family and those close to him.

Yes, Lewis’s words are indeed fitting: the end of an era. Dr. Herskowitz’s death meant that all of the second generations of Reich’s students are gone now. Yet the end of an era inevitably means that a new era is beginning, the continuation of Reich’s work by the third generation of his followers.

A few months before Dr. Herskowitz’s death, we celebrated his 100th birthday. During the celebration, Dr. Herskowitz expressed his gratitude for being able to pass the knowledge from Reich to the next generation of students. We thanked him for being the link between Reich and us. We are grateful that we had him for many years and were able to experience Reich’s teachings and therapy techniques through him. He transferred the knowledge through numerous articles, speeches, and a book, all significant contributions to the literature and science of orgonomy. Many of Dr. Herskowitz’s articles, lectures, and teachings have been recorded, transcribed, and published for the first time in this journal. However, there are many other publications which will be introduced to the public in the IOS annals, as promised by its editor, Dr. Grier.

We all mourn the loss of our leader, Dr. Morton Herskowitz. It is the end of an era, but with it comes the start of a new era, the one that obligates us, the students of Reich and Herskowitz, to work tirelessly to preserve, promote, and introduce orgonomy to the world. It is our opinion that the theories of orgonomy are the best and only hope for humanity. We urge you to reacquaint yourself with his work listed and linked below: his lectures, papers, and recordings published in this journal and a touching letter from Dr. Huthsteiner, expressing her feelings about this great man who has indeed ended an era.

My mentor, therapist, friend, father-figure, mother-figure Mort Herskowitz, D.O,  has died  on August 6, 2018.  He was 100 years old.  For those of us who had the gift of his care and his teaching, we often resisted the idea he could be old enough to retire, and have avoided considering that he would depart this world.  What made Mort so special?  So very special?

I read an article he wrote about "The Treatment of an Episode of Catatonic Mutism" for the Journal of Orgonomy, Vol 2, in 1968.  In it he described his own unique style of orgonomy, that for me epitomizes his gift.  "At one point, deep sadness appeared momentarily in the patient’s eyes.  The therapist seized the moment to lay the patient’s head upon his shoulder and give him mother comfort.  At this point, the patient cried briefly, a stifled tearless sob, but breathed a little more freely." "A move to touch the patient’s lips gently with a finger was met with physical withdrawal….An hour passed in this manner, the patient moving away from the therapist whenever an attempt was made to establish body contact.  After a time, however, the patient did not move away when the therapist stroked his forehead and periocular area for several minutes."    "This seemed to quiet the anxiety, and the patient could now be induced to lie down with his head on the pillow.  The therapist lay his cheek upon the patient’s and cuddled the patient to him.  In this manner, the patient fell asleep and slept for five to ten minutes.  He awoke with a start and asked, "Where am I?" The catatonic mutism abated.

Mort’s gift was one of compassion and carefully expressed physical loving affection and care.    This quality is rare to encounter in any setting.   In Mort’s case, he was able to penetrate the patient’s barriers with gentleness and physical affection.  Removing layer after layer of defense, he helped people feel deeply and fully, and embrace what life was giving.

When I heard the news of his passing, I went into a room to grieve.   His kindly penetrating eyes, the serious and concerned look on his face, comes immediately to my mind’s eye.  I am glad I can see him still, helping me to move through a feeling, not holding me back in any way, expressing comfort, approval, support.  He is able to stay with me, in eye contact as I can tolerate it.  He does not look away.  He has a remarkable ability to stay and witness and share my grief, my pain, my horror, my fear.  He has the courage and confidence to move in and make contact, despite resistance, rejection, fear, or even hatred or aggression he might encounter.    He strikes just the right the balance between intervention and quiet observation.

So much more could be said about Mort Herskowitz: a leader in orgonomy, a student of Reich’s and a teacher of many.   I will leave that for others to tell.   But what I will always remember him for is his heart.   Thank you, Mort.

 

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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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Wilhelm Reich – Founder of Orgone Therapy

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