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Wilhelm Reich’s Bion Experiments: an unusual origin of life research program

"Wilhelm Reich: Bion Experiments"
Contribution to the orgonomy conference, "Wilhelm Reich's Bion Experiments: an unusual origin of life research program, 1934-1939" November 9, 2019, NYC.

Abstract: Wilhelm Reich’s "bion experiments," conducted in Norway from 1934-1939 represent an unusual intersection of many important developments and changes in life sciences research in the 1930s, and it is a case previously overlooked by professional historians of biology and medicine.  The case merits historical research as an addition to the literature on biologists in the 1930s who explicitly used dialectical-materialist philosophy in their work, as a unique chapter of controversy in the development of origin of life ideas originating from psychoanalytic ideas, as a serious critique of the contemporary trend toward increasing reductionism in the life sciences (particularly under the influence of Rockefeller Foundation funding), and for other historiographic issues such as the inclusion of close study of laboratory notebooks.  New narratives about Reich’s work are needed since historians of science have shown recently how problematic are such categories as "pseudoscience," to which Reich’s laboratory work has formerly been relegated.

Dr James E. Strick:

I am originally a microbiologist by training, then I retrained as a PhD in the history of biology and medicine. My research has been in the history of ideas and experiments about the origin of life. I have written about Darwin and his chief scientific supporters debating amongst themselves about the implications of his evolution theory for what was the original origin of life on Earth. Also about origin of life research from the 1950s to the present and how the field was influenced by its first big money patron ever: NASA, the American space agency.

In my 2015 book with Harvard U. Press, I am looking in detail at the origin of life experiments Wilhelm Reich conducted in Oslo, Norway (where he was in exile from the Nazis) in the late 1930s. My aim is to describe the logic of these experiments, and also to explain how this work fits into the context of biology and medicine at that time. Biology and medicine were undergoing a major change of direction beginning in the late 1930s, especially under the influence of funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. I will argue that this and several other pieces of historical context strongly conditioned the reception of Reich’s work by the scientific community.

Reich is well known as a psychoanalytic innovator, founding father of "body therapies," campaigner in the 1920s-30s for reform of restrictions on abortion and birth control, incisive political analyst, whose book The Mass Psychology of Fascism pressed so directly on the political sore spots of both right and left that it was burned by the Nazis and also got Reich expelled from the Communist Party. But Reich’s biological work has been largely overlooked by historians, notwithstanding that his archives at the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard opened in 2007. Historians of biology are either unaware of Reich the biologist, or, more often, have been convinced by a widespread narrative created after Reich’s conflict with the U.S. government in the 1950s, which led to the burning of his books by the U.S. government. Namely, that Reich’s theory of orgone energy has been used so many times—not least by Martin Gardner and the skeptics groups—as an example of pseudoscience. So often, indeed, that it may prove very interesting to study the origins of that theory in the laboratory. The term "pseudoscience" has been used in an extremely broad-brush way — especially since the "science wars" of the late 1990s — to tar much history and philosophy of science with the same brush as creation science and UFO abduction studies. Thus, this may serve as a test case for whether the label "pseudoscience" does more to clarify or more to distort the history of what occurred.

Reich was originally trained as a physician, then as a psychoanalyst. His interest in biology, like many in the 1920s, began with trying to imagine a middle way between the extremes of neo-vitalism and of mechanism. Like many of those whom Garland Allen has called "holistic materialists," Reich eventually found his way to dialectical materialism as a tool of thought he found quite useful for life sciences trying to find such a middle path. (1) As psychoanalyst, early in his work he recognized that the sexual orgasm was an energy discharge function and that the quantity of energy built up and not discharged was directly proportional to the severity of neurotic symptoms in his patients. This led Reich from 1926 to 1934 to think that what Freud called libido was a tangible something that could be measured quantitatively in a physiology laboratory. Reich hypothesized that the normal sequence of events in sexual excitation was swelling and mechanical tension in the genitals, followed by buildup of electrical charge, then electrical discharge, and finally mechanical relaxation as the swelling of the tissues subsided. Invited by Professor Harald Schjelderup to use a laboratory in the Psychological Institute at Oslo University, Reich began his experiments there early in 1935. He found in human subjects that emotional changes, including those accompanying sexual excitation, were correlated and quantitatively parallel with movement of bioelectrical charge in the body. Reich concluded, furthermore, that the movement of this energy from the core of the body (the ganglia of the autonomic nervous system) out to the skin surface—and the corresponding expansion of the autonomic nervous system—was the physiological action that constituted the pleasure response. Conversely, anxiety was functionally identical with the withdrawal of this energy from the periphery to the core and the contraction of the autonomic nerves and ganglia. Reich hypothesized as a result that this bioelectrical charge moving outward from the core to the periphery was libido.

Reich next asked the question: is this energy common to all living organisms, even a simple ameba with no autonomic nervous system (ANS)? Could one measure a similar increase in charge at the surface of an ameba where it extended a pseudopod "out toward the world"? Was the orgasm formula a general formula for all living organisms?

During this time Reich also pursued another line of logic. Following the logic of Berlin internist and cardiology pioneer Friedrich Kraus, he gathered and systematized knowledge about certain biochemical substances (such as potassium, lecithin, choline) that produce swelling and stimulation of the parasympathetic responses (pleasure, expansion) of the autonomic nervous system; contrasting these with other substances (such as calcium, cholesterin, adrenaline) that produce dehydration and shrinking of the tissues and simultaneously stimulate the sympathetic (anxiety, contraction) responses of the ANS. Thus, in parallel with his thinking about the movement of bioelectrical charge as central to life, he also wondered whether paired combinations of antagonistic biochemicals in a test tube could simulate the alternating expansion and contraction of simple living cells.

Study of amoebas

When Reich went to a biology lab at Oslo University to find out how to culture amebas for his experiments early in 1936, he was told that all he need do was put some old dead hay or grass in water and let it soak for a week or ten days. The amebas would grow in there from "spores in the air." Reich found himself skeptical of this explanation and so he watched the grass for hours and days on end under the microscope, to see whether the amebas came from such spores. What he saw, he says, shocked him.

Over days and even weeks, the grass blades slowly swelled up in the water and began to disintegrate into tiny round vesicles about the size of small bacteria. (He later termed these vesicles "bions.") Many of the vesicles would break free and drift off into the fluid. But sometimes a clump of vesicles would form near the edge of a disintegrating grass blade, and gradually a membrane would form around it.

Over time the vesicles within became more active, pulsating and moving around within the clump, until eventually the entire clump broke free from the margin of the grass blade and moved off into the fluid, with a crawling, "pseudopod"-type movement. These clumps were then indistinguishable from the amebas Reich had been given by the biologist.

Reich performed numerous control experiments to exclude the possibility that his amebas could have come from "germs" falling into his cultures from the air. One was to develop a time-lapse microcinematography setup, to film the entire process over many days. Since at the time there was no standardized equipment for such a procedure, Reich needed considerable technical ingenuity to construct such a system.

In the end, he concluded he had discovered—contrary to biological dogma since Pasteur and Tyndall in the 1860s and ’70s—that protozoa could come into being by "naturally organizing" from dead plant tissues.

Basic Antithesis of Vegetative Life, properties of bions, controls for sterility

In the second, parallel series of experiments, falling within the tradition of what were called "cell model experiments," combining paired antagonistic substances such as potassium and calcium, lecithin and cholesterin, or choline and adrenaline (or combinations of these pairs), Reich found these mixtures often produced active, motile bions. The bions pulsated, moved around from place to place, budded and divided to increase their numbers—Reich was eventually able to transfer them to sterile culture media and grow up a pure culture of a new generation of the same type of bions (a thing never seen in cell model experiments before). They often developed a measurable electrical charge (a strong charge and increased possibility of successful culturability was seen if the bion mixture remained colloidally turbid for hours or more.

The bions also accepted biological stains such as the Gram stain. In other words, they had many properties of living organisms. Reich thought the bions were a transitional stage he had discovered between the nonliving and the living. We cannot know, perhaps, what process Reich was seeing without repeating these experiments; however, these observations, and Reich’s interpretation of them share a great deal in common with the work of nineteenth century scientists such as Pouchet, Hughes Bennett, Bastian and Bechamp.

In order to assure himself that these bions did not come via infection by germs in the air or in the ingredients, Reich sterilized the separate ingredients and then again sterilized the fresh bion mixtures, using boiling, a dry sterilizer at 180 C, and/or autoclaving (sterilizing with steam at 121 C and 15 psi of pressure). To his amazement, all the lifelike properties of the bions were greatly enhanced by these processes. Bions examined immediately after the mixture was taken from the autoclave had a stronger charge, more motility, and a greater likelihood of culturability, for instance. In a still more convincing control experiment, Reich heated some of the soot, coal, iron filings, etc. (used to swell and disintegrate) to incandescent heat in a Bunsen burner flame before plunging them into autoclaved culture media. More lifelike bions still were the result.

Reich called some of these PA (or "packet") bions since they often appeared in packet-like clusters.

These experiments convinced him that almost any kind of matter could be made to break down into bions if it was made to swell vigorously enough by heating, autoclaving, soaking in a potassium solution, etc. The electrical charge of the bions, he believed was energy originally contained within the starting material but released when it swelled and underwent bionous disintegration.

Thus these new experiments seemed to Reich to open up startling new possibilities in biology for understanding the origin of life. Not surprisingly, since he seemed to be making a renewed claim for "spontaneous generation," most biologists who heard of the experiments ridiculed the results and assumed only careless, nonsterile technique could account for them. There was also a significant backlash in the Norwegian press from conservative religious and political quarters, the flames of which were further fanned because of Reich’s fame as a sex researcher. Later even the socialist press joined in the press campaign about Reich’s experiments. More on that in awhile.

Roger DuTeil and key technical issues

In early 1936 Reich met Professor Roger DuTeil of the Mediterranean University Center in Nice, France. A professor of philosophy, natural philosophy, especially biology, was DuTeil’s strongest interest. He had long been interested in vitalism and mechanism, for example. DuTeil took a great deal of interest in Reich’s experiments on bioelectrical charge and emotions, and Reich apprised him in December 1936 of the development of the bion experiments, just as he was tackling the problem of whether the bions could be cultured through successive generations on sterile media. Reich agreed to DuTeil’s offer to carry out replications of key bion experiments and to give a report on them in March 1937 to the Natural Philosophy Society in Nice. More than any other scientist—indeed, almost alone among all other scientists—DuTeil took the time, trouble, and expense required to learn key details of Reich’s technique, spending two weeks at Reich’s lab in Oslo in July and August 1937 in order to fully resolve all his questions and actually see and practice the procedures under Reich’s instruction.

DuTeil also initiated several important control experiments, including a completely closed system in which all ingredients of a bion mixture could be autoclaved in a single, multi-compartmented container, then opening a stopcock to allow the sterile ingredients to combine in a sterile environment. This conclusively proved, in yet another independent way, argued Reich and DuTeil, that no germs or spores from the air could be the source of the bions seen in sterile samples immediately after the mixture was prepared.

"!!!! Wir haben nicht der Naturprozess zu zerteilen—zu verkünsteln, sondern einzig ihn zu rekonstruieren, zu entschlüsseln, in unsere Gewalt zu nehmen—ihn vorwärtszutreiben." Strick: We need not split up the natural process, to overdo it. Rather, only to reconstruct it, to decipher it, to gain control over it— to move it forward.]

DuTeil and Reich exchanged dozens of letters, most between Feb. 1937 and October 1938, just after the Munich crisis and Chamberlain’s capitulation to Hitler, in which many crucial details of experimental technique are discussed. For example, in a letter of 26 April 1937, Reich writes DuTeil:

"Please… tell me whether your microscope is an inclined binocular microscope, or whether the binocular tube is straight like a monocular tube. I believe I have determined that the microscopic observation of bions is very difficult with a single tube and with a non-inclined binocular tube. In contrast, the inclined binocular tube gives wonderfully 3-dimensional [or vivid] images and makes possible observations that cannot be had with a straight tube."

Most essential of these observations was seeing clearly and unambiguously that the pulsatory movement within the tiny bions is sharply distinguishable from the purely physical Brownian movement exhibited by all microscopic objects in this size range. The Brownian movement is a random, place to place motion understood in current physics to be caused by statistically uneven bombardment of the object on all sides by molecules of the fluid. DuTeil took this distinction on board quickly and, as soon as he could see the bions through Reich’s expensive, state of the art Reichert Z research microscope, he agreed that the instrument was crucial to making that distinction decisively. The unusually high magnification this microscope could offer, well above the usual 1000-1500x, was also crucial to seeing these things clearly. None of Reich’s critics ever used a comparable microscope—either failing to appreciate the distinction (even though Reich said in the published report "one cannot repeat the observations unless the same optics are used.") or being unable to afford such an expensive instrument and thus wishing to ignore or talk past Reich’s claim. Reich’s time-lapse films were also remarkably convincing, when audiences saw them, as when DuTeil showed them to some members of the French Academy of Sciences and of Medicine in August 1937 (he also showed the bions through one of Reich’s Reichert microscopes, loaned for the purpose).

Yet none of Reich’s critics ever directly addressed the films. And the difficulty of widely disseminating such films (they could not be published in the book or journal articles discussing the experiments) meant Reich’s critics were at an advantage with audiences who had not seen them. This kind of story occurred repeatedly with many other key technical issues.

Another important scientist who aided Reich and replicated bion experiments was Dutch physicist Willem Frederik Bon.

In November 1938 after reading Reich’s book on the bion experiments, Bon contacted Reich to ask whether he had seen any radiation phenomena in the bions. At that point (though he had been thinking about the possibility since at least May 1937 and thought several observations implied there might be radiation released in bion formation) Reich replied in the negative. Not so just a few months later, however. In January 1939 a new bion culture was prepared serendipitously when Reich’s lab assistant mistakenly heated sea sand instead of carbon to incandescence and added it to nutrient broth and potassium chloride solution. This produced PA bions of a very highly charged, radiating type (Reich called them SAPA, sand-packet bions)

SAPA bions

after successfully culturing them and studying them under the microscope for several weeks, Reich developed severe inflammation of the conjunctiva of his eyes. Complete avoidance of microscope work for days was needed for them to improve. If he looked through a monocular microscope, only the eye looking into the single eyepiece became inflamed. He found the cultures placed on a quartz slide and held on the skin could redden the skin within a few minutes. They could also communicate a strong charge to insulating materials, such as rubber; the charge could be measured with an electroscope. A similar charge could be communicated to the same rubber by allowing it to lie for a few minutes on the bare abdomen of vegetatively lively patients, Reich found, though a far lower charge was picked up by the rubber from patients who were emotionally deadened—reactions parallel to what he had measured via bioelectrical charge of the skin in the erogenous zones in his earlier experiments on emotion.  The powerful biological effects of the energy being radiated by the bions were frightening, and Reich sought help and advice from the physicist Bon, since he had some experience studying radiation.

With both DuTeil and Bon, the imminent European war led to breaking off of contact between Reich and these important scientific collaborators, since both France and Holland were soon under Nazi occupation and neither Bon nor DuTeil had the leisure to think about doing science again for several years. Reich left Oslo for America in late August 1939, on the last ship out before the outbreak of the war, having sent his laboratory on to New York City to be set up by his assistant some weeks earlier. The loss of contact with his two most important scientific supporters and constructive critics was highly unfortunate—especially since the radiation experiments Bon was discussing with Reich are those which led Reich to conclude that the SAPA bion radiation was a previously undiscovered type of energy (he named it orgone energy because of its connection with his orgasm research and because it was capable of charging organic/ insulating substances. Reich believed it was the specific life energy, the energy of all biological organisms). Only a couple of months after reaching this conclusion did Reich lose contact with Bon, and the discussion about this energy with a trained physicist only resumed more than a year and a half later, with Albert Einstein in the US.

We should note that two features sharply distinguish Reich’s research program from the beginning: his pursuit of an energy principle behind emotions and other life phenomena and, most importantly, that his central line of investigation as physician and psychoanalyst was to understand the function of the orgasm. As I said at the outset, Reich made use of the dialectical materialist system of Marxist thought in his biological research program to find a middle way between mechanism and vitalism, as numerous biologists did in the 1930s (such as J.B.S. Haldane, J.D. Bernal, Joseph Needham—the British scientific socialists—as well as Alexander Oparin, Julius Schaxel and numerous others). In 1929 Reich visited the Soviet Union and penned an ambitious synthesis between Freud and Marx titled "Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis" in the Communist Party organ Unter dem Banner des Marxismus.

In discussing Oparin’s 1936 use of dialectical materialist thinking in origin of life research, John Farley pointed out three laws from Frederick Engels’s writings that were important for Oparin: first, the law of transformation of quantity into quality (about origin of life, this amounted to a "greater than the sum of the parts" claim). Second, the law of unity and conflicts of opposites (for Oparin, the dynamism of life arises from the fundamental tension between anabolism and catabolism; that was the driving force behind "genetical change, rather than the static DNA template."(2) Third, the law of the negation of the negation. Again from Farley: "The emergence of new qualities as a consequence of quantitative changes, implies the ‘negation’ of the previous quality, which thereby may prevent the appearance of this quality again. Oparin’s assumption that the very existence of life on this planet negates any further emergence of it, reflects this law."(3)

Though he was careful to separate his experimental results from theory in his 1938 book on the bion experiments, Die Bione, Reich felt it important to include an entire chapter near the end of the book on "The Dialectical-Materialist Method of Thinking and Investigation," claiming it was crucial to conceptualizing and carrying out the bion experiments. But from the outset, and even in his 1929 paper, it is clear that for Reich the pursuit of a quantitative energy principle is a key methodological focus. He seems to see this as an implicit conclusion from dialectical materialist science as he understood it. Only gradually, perhaps not until 1938 or 39, did Reich come to recognize that other "dialectical materialist biologists" did not share this key element of his own approach.(4)

For Reich, the "not just the sum of the parts" logic of dialectical materialism meant that the difference between living and nonliving matter was "not constituted by the addition of something new in living matter that makes it alive. Instead, the difference lies in a special combination of functions which are found singly in nonliving matter as well….[Namely,] the specific combination of the rhythmic alternation of tension, charge, discharge, relaxation, renewed tension, charge, etc. is the fundamental distinguishing characteristic of life."(5)

Like Oparin, Reich concluded that the origin of life was only conceivable as a series of developmental stages. But unlike Oparin and Haldane, Reich did not feel compelled to assume either that the process must always require millions of years, or that it could no longer be occurring under the conditions of present-day Earth. Development, Reich concluded, was driven dialectically "by the presence of opposites within matter which cause an antagonistic contradiction." He went on:

[t]he opposites force a change in the situation, and something new is formed. This new something…develops new contradictions, which in turn force further solutions, and so on…In the mechanistic view, [Reich said, by contrast], the opposites are absolute and irreconcilable. In dialectical materialism, opposites are viewed as identical [i.e., different manifestations of a common, deeper substratum], and as a consequence one can develop out of the other. Hate is not merely an opposite of love, it can develop out of love; much conscious love is unconscious hate, and vice versa.(6)

Further, claimed Reich,

Mechanistic science…represents the standpoint that development [can only be] a gradual process….There are no sudden changes. The materialistic dialectic, on the other and, recognizes that gradual development can become sudden development, that evolution prepares the way for sudden change in development…Mechanistic as well as idealistic philosophy denies that it is possible for quantity to develop out of quality, and vice versa. In contrast, dialectical materialism asserts that not only can quantity convert into quality…but that this change-over is one of the fundamental principles of any natural process.(7)

Unlike Oparin and Haldane’s basically biochemical approach, Reich, coming from a physician’s viewpoint, claimed "a fundamentally dialectical materialist approach requires that the organism be examined as it is, that is to say, that life be studied in the living state," first and foremost. Moreover, said Reich:

This approach is diametrically opposed to the mechanical one in which, for the sake of reliability, living objects are killed in order to study life in the dead organism, a procedure that is bound to result in a mechanical view of life…If scientific research is to be truly productive, it should be continuously motivated and guided by the need to view the whole without losing sight of the detail. Mechanical concepts of life must of necessity be methodologically defective; they rely on the synthetic movements of the living substances becoming more complex and perhaps giving rise to life. The important thing about life, however, is not the complex substance but the complex function. Concepts such as Biogen, molecule, energid, etc. are only practical aids to understanding….They try to substitute the action of "substance" for the understanding of function. They tell us something only about the mechanical-chemical process, but they become metaphysical when called upon to explain function.(8)

This is certainly a more aggressive, fundamental critique of physical-chemical reductionism in biology than Oparin, Haldane or Bernal were making in 1938 (or perhaps, ever). But for Reich it was this aspect of mechanism that led physiologists to describe the nerve pathway by which an impulse traveled and yet to think that explained the impulse itself. And to viewing the organism "in sociological terms," with the brain as "the ‘central agency,’ the ‘controller’…, rather like the ruler of a country."(9) For Reich, since the brain is a phylogenetically recent structure and since numerous organisms have no brains but still live quite successfully, the brain is unlikely to be the origin of living functions. Indeed, the "tension/charge" formula basic to living functioning was present in all living tissue; it was the sine qua non of life, Reich claimed.

Thus, it is important to understand how different the two features I mentioned made Reich’s approach to these questions from all other biologists of the time—so much so that by 1939 or so Reich realized these differences were more important than what he shared in common with dialectical materialism and so he decided to call his approach by a different name—energetic functionalism (or orgonomic functionalism), to reflect its key features and to make clear that (as he put it a few years later) "energetic functionalism of today has as much to do with dialectic materialism as a modern electronic radar device with the electric gas tube of 1905." Reich’s understanding of how truly unique his research approach was, emerged and crystallized through responses such as Bernal’s, and through the fierce campaign of opposition that developed in Norway to his bion research. Let us turn to a look at those who became Reich’s opponents.

Otto Lous Mohr was a prominent geneticist, well-connected in international biology circles (including having been a grantee of the Rockefeller Foundation) from having trained with T.H. Morgan’s famous Drosophila research group at Columbia U. twenty years earlier. Mohr was a prominent liberal/socialist voice in shaping reforms in Norwegian society based upon scientific knowledge. His wife Tove, an ob/gyn, was (as her mother had been before her) the nation’s most outspoken advocate for legalized abortion, women’s economic independence, and for sex and birth control education in the schools. Mohr was her partner in all these causes and was a critic of the over-simplistic use of eugenic ideas, for example to justify laws for sterilizing the insane. Since Reich was famous as a left-wing advocate of these very same causes, it seems at first blush quite puzzling that Mohr should not only not find Reich a natural ally, but quickly became a leader among Norwegian scientists opposed to Reich. There are several pieces of this story.

Havard Nilsen has argued persuasively that Norwegian socialists turned against Trotsky in late 1936 (after having enthusiastically welcomed him as a guest to Norway a year before) because of intense pressure from their Soviet superpower neighbor, and that after Trotsky’s expulsion in Dec. 1936, the perception of Reich as a Trotskyite also led him to fall out of favor among those in power in the Norwegian Labor Party. Mohr was well aware of the Trotsky situation. But secondly, once he believed Reich’s bion work to be scientifically flawed (in Sept. 1937, based at least in part on the opinion of Kreyberg, which I will discuss in a moment)—after reaching that conclusion, Mohr would have been extremely anxious to distance himself from Reich, lest by association, Reich would bring ill repute to those causes Mohr held most dear. Max Hodann, famous sex reformer and a supporter of Reich (he witnessed some of Reich’s bion expts on 2 April 37 in Oslo), had given a public talk in Oslo at Mohr’s invitation in January 1937, and Mohr had thought Hodann excessively ambitious in his ideas for sex reform, naïve about the local details that really mattered in building effective alliances. Hodann had also, without asking Mohr’s permission, prematurely announced after his public talk a sex education program Mohr told him about for which Mohr had not yet gotten final approval from the Oslo School Board. Mohr was quite miffed and said so in a letter to Hodann, since this might endanger the delicate alliances Mohr had labored to forge, and cause victory to be snatched out from under him at the last moment. In this context, it’s entirely possible that—even before ever knowing about Reich’s laboratory science—Mohr viewed Reich as similarly over-ambitious in his sex reform propaganda and feared that his activities in conservative, Lutheran Norway could undermine Mohr’s painstaking investment of years’ work to create solid laws for sex reform there.

Leiv Kreyberg was a young scientist who’d already made a name for himself as a researcher on gentics of cancer in experimental mice. He was a protégé of Mohr, who was campaigning in Fall 1937, while Rector of Oslo University, to get Kreyberg appointed to the Chair of Pathological Anatomy (in which he succeeded in early Dec. 1937). In Sept. 1937 Reich (not knowing this) approached Kreyberg at the Oslo Radium Institute Hospital, trying to obtain fresh cancer tissue from patients there for his research. Kreyberg took an interest in Reich’s experiments and visited his lab to witness some, but then after taking a bion culture back with him to his own lab he abruptly pronounced that it contained "nothing but staphylococci from common air infection." This despite the fact that Reich had been studying Staphylococci for a year (obtained from a patient with osteomyelitis), and he pointed out that they had a positive electrical charge, while the bions in the culture he had given Kreyberg were negatively charged. Kreyberg then used his influence to prevent Reich from getting cancer tissue samples from the Radium Hospital and publicly claimed (based only upon that single culture Reich gave him) that he had "controlled" Reich’s bion experiments and found Reich’s sterile technique inadequate. In an independent assessment 15 years later, US Embassy representative William Kerrigan—we are extremely lucky that the State Department undertook this investigation, that Prof. Jerome Greenfield obtained these documents from their files with FOIA, and that the embassy official was so thorough in his investigation and resourceful in documenting information about motives the participants in the debate did not publicly admit to:

An assessment of the scientific standing and reputation of Professors Kreyberg and Thjøtta is extremely difficult and possibly of questionable accuracy. This is so because there is no precise yardstick by which the attainments of either man can be measured. For example, Professor Kreyberg is the only professor of pathology in the whole of Norway, and Professor Thjøtta is the only professor of bacteriology.

The biographic data contained in the Norwegian Who’s Who for Professor Kreyberg shows three published works, two of them published in 1937, the third in 1947. On the other hand, Professor Thjøtta’s biography in the Norwegian Who’s Who shows a long list of published works and memberships in several learned societies, including the Society of American Bacteriologists.

In an attempt to assess the reputations of the two men, Professor Harald Sverdrup, Director of the Polar Institute of the University of Oslo was consulted. Professor Sverdrup is a world famous explorer and authority on the arctic. He has an unassailable position in the scientific world and a reputation for the highest type of intellectual integrity. In commenting on Professor Kreyberg, Professor Sverdrup said that he would accept Professor Kreyberg’s scientific opinions only if they were accompanied by corroborative evidence from some other source. He said that Professor Kreyberg tended to be hasty and careless in his judgments and was also a very high strung and emotional person. He stated that Professor Kreyberg tended to take very strong personal likes and dislikes and if, for example, in the Reich case he had taken such a dislike to Reich or his theories, his emotional reactions would override any scientific objectivity he possessed."   [Ask me in Q&A, and I will tell Froydis Langmark story, who independently said the same about Kreyberg’s animosity toward Reich, based on personal knowledge of Kreyberg as his own student]

Theodor Thjotta, a bacteriologist, had looked at a few sample cultures of Reich’s bions in April 1937 when Reich’s assistant Odd Havrevold [SLIDE 33] had persuaded Reich to send them to Thjotta for identification by a professional bacteriologist. Thjotta had little to say until a major press campaign against Reich’s work broke out a year later. [SLIDE 34] Then he, like Kreyberg, publicly opined that the cultures contained "nothing but common air infection bacteria." Kerrigan (1952) again:

As to Professor Thjøtta, Professor Sverdrup said that he had considerable confidence in his scientific judgments, and said that Thjøtta was not the man to utter any hasty and ill-considered judgments on any scientific questions. He said that Professor Thjøtta was personally a somewhat difficult and abrupt person, who would be very likely to give a more curt and unpleasant answer than the situation might call for, but that basically he would be very careful in expressing his opinions in scientific matters."

Johann Scharffenberg was a psychiatrist by training who was well-known for twenty-five years already for participating in just about every public polemic that occurred in Oslo by the time Reich came. He declared Hitler a psychopath in 1935, while simultaneously lobbying hard for a eugenic sterilization law for criminals and the insane in Norway, almost as forceful as the 1935 German law. Almost a generation older than Reich, he had a highly moralistic approach to psychiatry. Again, from Kerrigan:

His attacks on Reich were the most violent and sustained of the entire controversy." (1952 US Foreign Service Despatch, Greenfield papers) "Mr. Sigurd Hoel – a novelist and one of Norway’s most outstanding literary figures] described the press attacks by Dr. Scharffenberg…and ascribed them not to Scharffenberg’s disagreement with Reich’s biological theories, which were the ostensible subject of Scharffenberg’s attacks but rather to Scharffenberg’s fright and horror at Reich’s sexual theories. Mr. Hoel described Scharffenberg as being an extremely eccentric man who has refused to marry because, as Scharffenberg once publicly stated, there had been insanity in his family background and he was afraid that the strain of insanity might be transmitted to any possible offspring that he might have. Mr. Hoel obviously considered that Scharffenberg did not have the normal adult attitudes toward sexual matters and his attack on Reich was actually an indirect attempt to cover up for his own personal inadequacies in that direction….Professor Sverdrup professed the very highest regard for his [Scharffenberg’s] intellectual and moral honesty. I put the question to him as to whether in the Reich case Dr. Scharffenberg’s personal ethical attitudes and his attitudes on the subject of sex might not have been deeply offended by Reich’s very unorthodox views and that those views might not have furnished the actual basis for Scharffenberg’s attacks on Reich. Professor Sverdrup said that in view of Scharffenberg’s opinions on sexual and ethical questions it was by no means unlikely that he may have found Reich’s sexual ideas deeply disturbing and as a result have used them as a basis for his attacks on Reich, which attacks of course had another ostensible basis."

In a case in which the experimental outcome is underdetermined by the evidence, Kerrigan, though not a trained historian, realized it is appropriate to explore other possible motivations for objections to Reich’s work, such as the religious reaction to Reich’s sexual theories or to experiments that suggest a naturalistic origin of life. In this case, much more local circumstances are also suggestive. Another major one of these is Rockefeller Foundation research funding. In January or February of 1937, the famed anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, now living in London, a colleague of Reich who greatly respected his work, contacted the Rockefeller Foundation office in Paris to urge Foundation officials to consider funding Reich’s bion research. In late February, Foundation officer Tracy B. Kittredge interviewed Reich on a visit to Oslo and encouraged him to apply for a grant. On the same trip, Kittredge visited other Rockefeller Foundation grantees in Oslo and asked them their opinion of Reich’s bion work, including geneticist Otto Mohr and physiologist Einar Langfeldt at Oslo University. Though Mohr and Langfeldt had not visited Reich’s lab or seen any of the experiments in progress, the University Medical Faculty was asked by the Norwegian government in early 1938 to pass on whether the importance of his research justified an extension of his visitors visa, and on that occasion the faculty had heard enough through the rumor mill to convince them that "there was no reason to extend his stay."  Kittredge’s inquiry to Mohr and Langfeldt produced the reply that in their opinion, as a laboratory scientist, Reich was "a charlatan."(10) (All this, from Rockefeller Foundation Archives). As a result, the Foundation turned down Reich’s grant application fairly quickly after he submitted it in early March. At a time when the Rockefeller Foundation, during the Depression, was basically the only major source of large-scale funding for life sciences research, and when Mohr, Kreyberg, Thjotta and Langfeldt were all themselves at just this time applying for large RF grants, it seems at the very least suggestive that these Oslo University scientific allies should work together to so unanimously torpedo the chances of an outsider, to compete with them for that pot of funding.

As a result of the organized campaign against him, Reich eventually found his ability to work in Oslo so limited that he opted to emigrate to the US.

Conclusions, Changes In Biology and Medicine in the 1930s

First, let me say that based on my work so far, including examining most of Reich’s laboratory notebooks and time-lapse films for 1935-1939, it seems clear that Reich’s bion experiments were serious, careful science, fully up to the standards of sterility of the period. Based on all the evidence to date, I conclude that Reich’s experiments did not get a fair scientific hearing. Most of his opponents overlooked or talked past Reich’s most important replies to their criticisms, or were unaware to begin with that they were missing crucial details of his technique. No researcher besides DuTeil ever came close to adequately replicating even a single experiment during the 1930s debate. And because of their large implications for biology, these experiments deserve a serious scientific reevaluation.

The lab notebooks show, furthermore, that the experiments developed pretty much in just the order Reich reports them in his book Die Bione (The Bion Experiments), up through Sept. 1937 or so when that book went to press. Reich did not indulge, in other words, in that habit common to many scientists, of retrospectively reconstructing the sequence and the logic of events in order to present a story that looks more as if the scientist foresaw the outcome (the part afterwards seen as important) at the outset and ordered all the experiments in just the most logically compelling sequence to lead to that outcome. All dead ends, groping in the dark, wrong hypotheses abandoned when one suddenly realized another explanation more likely—in other words all the messiness that actually constitutes the laborious work of science—often disappears entirely from these retrospectively polished accounts. Reich criticizes this approach as dangerously misleading, especially to the public and to young scientists in training. And it appears that he lives up to his self-imposed standard in his own publication. The danger is particularly great in pioneering science that is truly off the beaten track—what Thomas Kuhn calls "revolutionary, or paradigm-changing science," as opposed to workaday "normal science" filling in pieces within an existing paradigm. And this distinction seems potentially relevant to Reich’s line of research.

One of my most important interpretive offerings has to do with the Rockefeller Foundation. The director of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Natural Sciences Program, physicist Warren Weaver, had an outspoken agenda for decisions about what research would get funding. His goal was to import the tools of physics and chemistry (the ultracentrifuge, electron microscope, electrophoresis, Xray crystallography, etc.) into the life sciences and thus to make them more reductionist and more mechanistic. Only thereby did he think progress could be made on the central problems of the life sciences, which he believed would all yield to explanations based on the structure of critical macromolecules, like proteins and nucleic acids. Because Rockefeller Foundation money was "the only game in town" during the Depression years, the influence of Weaver’s agenda was greatly magnified. Reich’s emphasis on an energy principle, his insistence on giving priority to studying tissues in the living state, and his belief in the older doctrine of colloids as important (rather than macromolecules) were in sharp distinction with this agenda. Thus, it is not surprising that Reich’s ideas might find themselves "outside" of the Old Boy network of peer reviewers for RF grants. [Mitogenetic radiation had similarly been discredited by 1935-37 experiments funded by the RF; similarly, "field theory" in embryology.]

Reich’s research agenda, as described, pursues a fairly clear, straight line of logical development from his initial inquiry into the function of the orgasm and the physical nature of the energy behind psychic drives. Vitalism by contrast was in many ways becoming completely discredited by the late 1930s. Its association with Nazi ideas further guaranteed its absolute loss of any scientific respectability by the 1940s. So research programs like Reich’s, attempting to create a middle way between vitalism and mechanism, looked much further "away from center" after the mainstream shifted so far in the other direction under the influence of RF funding, and of MANY other forces. Haldane, Bernal, etc. followed the mechanistic current, and any non-mechanistic understanding of "energy flow in living organisms" was soon lost to view by the mainstream, so powerful was the new chemical-physical tide, especially at generating profitable products for the increasingly powerful pharmaceutical industry. The net result: a research program that could have seemed like a respectable, if minority view in the mid-1930s, would look almost hopelessly old-fashioned and out of date by only a decade later in the new world of "molecular biology," with the gap widening further ever since. Hopefully this historical study contributes to understanding how that chasm developed and has shown it is not primarily because Reich’s bion experiments ever got a fair hearing before the scientific community. It may turn out that orgone energy does not exist, but that would still not necessarily indicate that the bion experiments were pseudoscience, nor that Reich saw nothing but contaminant bacteria from inadequate sterile technique. It would be fascinating to find out what he actually did see.


(1). Garland Allen, "Mechanism, Vitalism and Organicism in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Biology: The Importance of Historical Context," Stud. Hist. Phil. Biol. Biomed. Sci. 36: 261-283 (2005); idem., "Rebel with Two Causes: Hans Driesch," in Oren Harman and Michael Dietrich, eds., Rebels, Mavericks and Heretics in Biology (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 2008), pp. 37-64; also Anne Harrington Reenchanted Science (Princeton U. Press, 1996).

(2). Farley, J. The Spontaneous Generation Controversy from Descartes to Oparin (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1977), pp. 171-172.

(3). Ibid, p. 172.

(4). By 1940 or so, Reich was explicitly avoiding the language of dialectical materialism and using the new term "energetic functionalism" to emphasize the break that he now recognized from his earlier intellectual roots. He left instructions for future editors of a second edition of Die Bione, insisting that "dialectical materialism" should be changed throughout to "energetic functionalism." See Reich (1979), p. v. On Schaxel’s version of dialectical materialist biology, see Hopwood (1997).

(5). Reich, Die Bione (1938), Engl. trans. The Bion Experiments on the Origin of Life (1979), p. 137; emphasis in original..

(6). Reich (1938), Engl. trans. (1979), pp. 153-154; emphasis in original.

(7). Ibid, p. 154; emphasis in original.

(8). Ibid, pp. 150-151.

(9). Ibid, p. 151.

(10). RF Archives, Albert Fischer of the Rockefeller Institute in Copenhagen would also likely have given Reich a thumbs down if he was consulted, based on a disagreeable exchange he had with Reich after Reich visited his lab in December 1936 to demonstrate bion preparations. Reich, PT, p. 269.

Posted in History, Orgone BiophysicsComments (5)

On Reich’s Social and Political Development: Treatment, Cure, and the Patriarchal Family

Contribution to the conference: Wilhelm Reich and the Science of Life Energy: "Orgonomy" November 9, 2019

On the 12th of December 1929 Wilhelm Reich gave a lecture to the inner circle of the Vienna psychoanalytic association on the prevention of neurosis.

"I gave my talk on the prophylaxis of neuroses to Freud’s inner circle on December 12, 1929. These monthly meetings in Freud’s house were open only to the officers of the Psychoanalytic Society. Everyone knew that words of far-reaching importance were spoken here and that important decisions were made." The Function of the Orgasm

Psychoanalytic treatment at best could only have impact on a distinct minority of the population. Freud and his colleagues knew this, and attempted to broaden the population of those who benefitted from psychoanalysis by starting a free clinic, the Ambulatorium.

See: Elizabeth Danto: Freud’s Free Clinics: Psychoanalysis and Social Justice, 1918-1938. Columbia University Press, 2005.

At the clinic analysts would donate at least an hour every week giving free therapy to members of the working class. Given his own personal experiences with abject poverty as a medical student – Reich and his younger brother lived in an single unheated room–it is not surprising that he was drawn to the Free Clinic, and before long Reich became an assistant director of it.

But still, even free therapy to the working classes was a very small drop in the bucket over and against the deeply entrenched social, political and religious values of Catholic Austria. In the east revolution was in the air. With the Russian Revolution of 1917 came the promise of an economic revolution that would address widespread poverty, but also a social revolution that would eliminate religious domination and traditional authoritarian patriarchy.

Reich lived in Vienna for twelve years. Politically it was dominated by the Austrian Social Democrats. They were Marxist in ideology, but strongly anti-Communist. Vienna was known as Red Vienna, and the city was clearly the most socialist in Europe outside the Soviet Union.

Reich, like many psychoanalysts, was a member of the Social Democratic Party. In July 1927, following a scandalous acquittal of some Christian Socials…  that was the dominant conservative political party… some Christian Socials had shot and killed some Social Democrats and got off scot free. Riots spread in Vienna, the Palace of Justice was set afire, and Reich watched first hand as the local police shot into the crowds. Over eighty people were killed and a thousand wounded. Social Democratic police shooting Social Democratic workers in the streets. Furious with the passivity of the Social Democratic leaders and their tendency to attempt compromise with the right-wing Christian Socials, Reich secretly joined the Communist Party.

Active political parties in Austria during the 1920s:
Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Austria Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Österreichs
Christian Social Party Christlichsoziale Partei
Communist Party of Austria Kommunistische Partei Österreichs

(You can read all of this in his political autobiography, People in Trouble.)

Wilhelm Reich: People in Trouble, Volume Two of The Emotional Plague of Mankind.
Orgone Institute Press, 1953; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976.

Back to 1929 and Reich’s presentation on prophylaxis, on prevention rather than treatment. In the beginning of that year, together with Communist physician Marie Frischauf, Reich founded the Socialist Society for Sex Counseling and Research (Sozialistische Gesellschaft für Sexualberatung und Sexualforschung), a small group of physicians, educators and lawyers, who gave lectures and provided their own free clinics.

In August of that year Reich spent a month living in Moscow. He lectured, and visited schools and factories. Whatever reservations Reich had–by this time Stalin was well entrenched enough to banish Trotsky, the former head of the Red Army–Reich wrote a very positive account of his study tour, given orally in November, and later published in The Psychoanalytic Movement.

"Die Stellung der Psychoanalyse in der Sowjetunion. Notizen einer Studienreise in Rußland" (The Position of Psychoanalysis in the Soviet Union: Notes from a Study Tour in Russia) was published in  Die Psychoanalytische Bewegung (The Psychoanalytic Movement), Nov/Dec. 1929. In Wilhelm Reich: Sex-Pol Essays: 1929-1934. (New York: Vintage, 1972 and Verso, 2012).

A key feature of this study tour centered on Reich’s optimistic hope that the social revolution would begin the demise of the patriarchal family and with it the end of the engine of neuroses, the Oedipus Complex.

In the notes about his tour he refers to his speech before the Communist Academy, where he attacked the psychoanalytic dogma of universality of the Oedipus Complex:

"Even the Oedipus relationship is not a biological but a social phenomenon, determined by the patriarchal structure of the family."

Reich wrote very much the same thing in his essay from, once again, from 1929, "Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis."

("Dialektischer Materialismus und Psychoanalyse" Unter dem Banner des Marxismus  October 1929. "Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis." Studies on the Left,  1966.)

In that article he cited for the first time the work of Malinowski, whose 1927 Sex and Repression in Savage Society includes an explicit critique of the oedipus complex. Rather than a timeless universal principle of human psychology, Reich asserts that "the Oedipus complex must disappear in a socialist society because its social basis–the patriarchal family–will itself disappear…."

(Bronislaw Malinowski: Sex and Repression in Savage Society. (New York: Meridan Books, 1964; first published in 1927) Part III: Psycho-Analysis and Anthropology)

The patriarchal family structure, the key, the linchpin, the focal point of human misery, and the source of all fascist ideology. Or so Reich firmly believed.

If it were possible to change social conditions, to eliminate the authoritarian role of the father in the family; to eliminate the subservient role of women in the family unit and in society at large; for women and men to be on equal economic footing, equal pay for equal work; if abortion were legal so that parents would be in a better position to plan their families; if children would have equal status whether or not they were conceived within a married unit or outside of marriage–eliminating of so-called illegitimacy; if divorce were as easy as ripping up a piece of paper; if sexuality were embraced for all regardless of age or orientation… there would be no oedipal conflict and no mass neuroses. It was precisely this vision that drew Reich to the Communists, since all of these social ideals were legalized initially after the Russian Revolution.

Abortion: legal; homosexuality: decriminalized; economic parity across gender; marriage: no church weddings–no churches!, instead marriage as simple to signing a card which could later be destroyed.

Sadly, after Lenin’s demise and Stalin’s solidification of his hold on the Communist Party, things changed, dramatically, and by 1936 these socially enlightened policies were whittled away and to a great extent destroyed.

Back to 1929: an important and exciting year in Reich’s deepening social and political vision. As I mentioned, in the very beginning of the year Reich organized his Socialist Society for Sex Counseling and Research.

In that same year he published his Sexual Excitation and Sexual Satisfaction. (Sexualerregung und Sexualbefriedigung. 1929, 66 pp.)

It is the most widely circulated writing by Reich during his life-time; well over 10,000 were distributed. The English version is not yet in print, though there is a fine translation thanks to Dr. Jonathan Koblenzer. I will briefly say something about it, mainly because it gives you a taste of the kind of revolutionary thinking Reich was promoting at the time. The booklet begins with the claim that Sexual misery cannot be alleviated by social programs as long as they remain within the confines of "bourgeois social policy." Sexual distress can only be ended by a successful proletarian revolution–the economic and the sexual go hand in hand:

A consistent analysis of the causes of sexual misery leads in a straight line to a devastating, revolutionary, critique of the social order; the same is true of a consistent analysis of the causes of economic misery. Bourgeois social policy is incapable of addressing poverty, because, objectively speaking, it cannot touch its root origin; indeed,  on the contrary, it disguises the true situation. Similarly, bourgeois sexual reform and so-called "sexual enlightenment" only signify a hopeless attempt to master the constantly growing crisis.

While capitalism is at the heart of sexual misery, the more immediate cause is the bourgeois conception of marriage, legally institutionalized and enforced, with its demands that sexual contact occur only within the marital unit, and where pre-marital and extramarital sexual contact is strictly verboten:

[M]arriage is not a natural phenomenon, but only emerges after the development of private property has advanced to the point that even the sexual connection between two humans can be treated as a commodity. The history of marriage begins with pillage and exchange: women were stolen, bought and sold. Women were the property of men—as they still are in bourgeois society

Here Reich is following Frederick Engels’ The Origins of the Family, which Reich later cites extensively in his 1932 book, The Invasion of Compulsory Sexual Morality.

(Friedrich Engels: Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State, 1884; Der Einbruch der Sexualmoral. Zur Geschichte der sexuellen Ökonomie, Berlin, Leipzig, Wien: Verlag für Sexualpolitik, 1932: The Invasion of Compulsory Sexual Morality, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971).)

The bourgeois family, understood to be patriarchal, is not only the source of sexual misery, the oppression of women, and the sexual double standard, it is also the prototype for the fascist state, the place where young people are trained to be "good citizens," to obey those in authority. For Reich, marriage has a political function, as well as an economic and social one, and it is the political function that is

the least acknowledged but certainly not the least important: it is the backbone of the bourgeois family, whose structure becomes the model for the bourgeois state. From an early age, the child absorbs bourgeois ideology. In this ideological factory, the child learns early to cower before the authority of the father, who is the model for all later authority. A dependent youth, crushed by the bonds of the family, becomes the well-behaved bourgeois citizen.

You can find that same phrase, "the ideological factory," in the opening chapter of the original 1933 Mass Psychology of Fascism.

The role of the patriarchal family as the crucible out of which are forged obedient followers of authoritarian government leaders, is one of the key elements of Reich’s analysis of fascism.

I wish we had more time to go into Sexual Excitation and Sexual Satisfaction  in detail, but I do want to quote from the very final paragraphs, in which Reich lays out his demands:

that the young be completely scientifically enlightened about everything about sexual life;
that contraception be distributed free of charge through health insurance;
that the sexual life of unmarried youth be considered in housing allocations;
that the laws against abortion be completely rescinded;
that marriage be able to be dissolved when a partner no longer wants to remain married;
that there be no distinction between the married and unmarried.

"that the young be completely scientifically enlightened about everything about sexual life": Reich tried to do this in both the 1932: The Sexual Struggle of Youth. And the pamphlet The Club of the Chalk Triangle Investigates the Secrets of Grown-Ups. There is a translation by Prof Strick and a German colleague, Manfred Fuckert. What the Sexual Struggle is for adolescents the Chalk Triangle is for prepubescent children. I hope that it too will be published before long.

"that contraception be distributed free of charge through health insurance":
Do I need to point out that this remains a global challenge as well as in the United States of America? The Affordable Care act covers contraception, but now the Trump Administration has asked the Supreme Court to review this aspect of Obamacare in the hope of overturning it. Given the make-up of the Court, it is certainly possible, maybe likely, to have this overturned.

"that the sexual life of unmarried youth be considered in housing allocations":
According to Malinowski Trobriand Islanders maintain common spaces within their villages where teenagers can have privacy for their love making. Do dormitories in college campuses play that role?

"that the laws against abortion be completely rescinded":
The same supreme court that might abolish the affordable care act with reference to contraception is the same Catholic dominated court that, many suspect, will overturn Roe v Wade.

I don’t need to point out just how radical these demands were then and remain today.

Sexual Excitation and Sexual Satisfaction was first published in 1929. It came through four editions, and in 1930 was banned successfully in Germany. This will not be the last of Reich’s books to be banned.

The lecture on prophylaxis was given on 12 December 1929. The very next night, Friday the 13th, Reich spoke before the organizing meeting of the Revolutionary Social Democrats, a left-opposition to the Social Democratic Party. The meeting was attended in a large hall; Reich wrote that two thousand people attended. The police report put it at 1500. Yes, all public events of a political sort in Vienna where carefully monitored by the police, and their logs actually help historians to get a fuller picture of what was happening.

At some point the meeting degenerated into a riot.

You can read about this in People in Trouble,  pp. 116-117.

Two weeks later Reich was expelled from the Social Democratic Party, the first time he was expelled from an organization. There will be others.

The following year, 1930, Reich wrote Sexual Maturity, Abstinence and Marital Morality, which is now available as Part One of The Sexual Revolution. (The Fiasco of Compulsory Sexual Morality)

Once in Berlin–he moved there at the end of 1930–Reich continued his political activism. He gave public speeches, taught classes at the MASCH, The Marxists Workers School, and continued to write books challenging the social status quo. In addition to the book just mentioned he published The Sexual Struggle of Youth, and The Invasion of Compulsory Sexual Morality.

Working along with members of the Communist Party he drafted a pamphlet, Forbidden Love. This widely circulated pamphlet (over 100,000 copies were distributed) was the organizing tool of a Communist front organization, Unified Association for Proletarian Sex-reform and Protection of Motherhood. Einheitsverband für proletarische Sexualreform und Mutterschutz

This is the organization that Reich refers to as his "sexual political organization" in People in Trouble. It was "his" in the sense that the ideology of this organization was drawn from Reich’s writings, but it was not "his" in the sense that he was not its explicit leader. Fortunately for him, but tragically for others, the leaders of the sexpol group were liquidated by the Nazis once Hitler was given "extraordinary powers" following the burning of the Reichstag in February 1933. Reich narrowly escaped that fate.

Returning back to the tension between prevention and treatment, it is worth considering the preface for the first edition of Character Analysis, dated by Reich as January 1933, Berlin. As a reminder, Hitler was made chancellor at the end of that month. In the Preface Reich imagines a serious challenge to his entire enterprise. Character Analysis’s original subtitle was Technique and Fundamentals for Studying and Practicing Analysts.

The challenge:

In a city the size of Berlin, there are millions of neurotic people, people whose psychic structure and capacity for work and pleasure have been severely impaired; every hour of every day fresh thousands of neuroses are produced by family education and social conditions. In view of the present lack of interest in such matters, is there any point in printing detailed material on individual analytic technique, relations between various psychic structures, character dynamics, and similar matters?

Reich’s reply to this challenge:

From a social point of view, the position of individual psychotherapy is a hopeless one…. I have endeavored to demonstrate that neuroses are the results of a home atmosphere that is patriarchal and sexually suppressive; that, moreover, the only prophylaxis worthy of serious consideration is one for the practical implementation of which the present social system lacks every prerequisite; that it is only a thorough turnover of social institutions and ideologies, a turnover that will be dependent upon the outcome of the political struggles of our century, which will create the preconditions for an extensive prophylaxis of neuroses. Hence, it is clear that a prophylaxis of neuroses is out of the question unless it is prepared theoretically; in short, that the study of the dynamic and economic conditions of human structures is its most important prerequisite…. To make a study of human structures in a way that would have relevance for the prophylaxis of neuroses, it is first necessary to perfect our analytic technique…. Hence, the chief concern of psychotherapy, insofar as it wants to prepare itself for the future tasks of the prevention of neuroses, must be to derive a theory of technique and therapy based on the dynamic and economic processes of the psychic mechanism…. Thus, we are concerned with the technique of individual analysis not because we have such a high regard for individual therapy, but because, without a good technique, we cannot gain the insights which we need for the more comprehensive goal of research on the human structure.

When I read these passages, I see a difference from the earlier assessments in the 1929 passages from Sexual Excitation and Sexual Satisfaction I quoted earlier. There I see an assumption that it in short order the kinds of changes that occurred after the 1917 Revolution are at hand. But by 1933 Reich is clearly thinking that this kind of reform is not about to happen anytime soon. The rapid rise of the National Socialist Workers Party, i.e., the Nazis made that clear.

By this time, in 1933, Reich was finished with the Communist party, but he still toyed with the idea of finding a different political party, one committed to a truly liberatory socialism. In October, while living in Copenhagen, he turned to Trotsky. Through letters he introduced himself, sketched out his sexual political work in Germany and the difficulties he had with the German Communist Party. He noted that he was still a member of the Party, but anticipated his expulsion, which in fact came in November 1933. Since "the Communist Party cannot perform the sexual-political work," and since "without the support of a political party it cannot develop to its fullest potential," Reich solicited Trotsky’s interest in collaboration. (He had already sent Trotsky a copy of Mass Psychology.) "I’m asking for your opinion, and, in case of your fundamental agreement, for your political and organizing help…." Voicing doubt about any future possible unification of the various factions of the Communist Party, he confessed that he could not "yet form a clear opinion about the founding of a new party." Though Reich was about to separate from the Communist Party proper, he was still looking for a political home, a longing that would continue for some time.

At one point in People in Trouble (204) Reich offers an explanation as to why he stayed with the Communist Party long after he came to see the rigidity of its leadership and the problems with its policies. "Against my better judgment, I myself clung fast to the organization to which I had belonged and for which I had fought. The party became my second home…"

Trotsky did not propose that Reich and he form a new party and Reich did not go on to join any other political party. The closest he came was to the circle of those who identified with his sex-pol work, and followed his publication, the Journal of Political Psychology and Sex-economy and its offshoot, a privately circulated Bulletin.

(Zeitschrift für Politische Psychologie und Sexualökonomie, 1934-1938. Mitteilungsblatt der Sexpol, 1936-1938.)

In 1935 he published anonymously The Masses and the State (Masse und Staat. Zur Frage der Rolle der Massenstruktur in der sozialistischen Bewegung) which is an open attack on Stalinism and, in 1936 he wrote, Sexuality in the Cultural Struggle. On the Socialist Restructuring of Humanity. The original title was "Family and Sexuality in the Cultural Struggle," and when this book was translated into English in 1945, its new title was The Sexual Revolution: Toward a Self-Governing Character Structure. Note the change from a "Socialist Restructuring" to a "Self-governing character structure."

Back in 1935, once Reich was lecturing at Oslo University in Norway, he began his first direct laboratory experiments summarized in the article, "Experimental Results on the Electrical Function of Sexuality and Anxiety." You can find the article in this book.

(The Bioelectrical Investigation of Sexuality and Anxiety, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1982.)

This led to his biological investigations which gave rise to his discovery of the orgone, all of which I defer to Prof James Struck who will share about this and much more after lunch.

At the end of 1936, Reich wrote of the tension he felt between his longing to make a difference on the political realm and his new and exciting scientific empirical research. In a diary entry dated 14 December 1946 Reich wrote,

"I am confronted with the question: Can the real sexual-political task at hand be combined with my scientific work on a long-term basis? It is obvious that my [scientific] work is more important" (Reich, Beyond, 1994, 84).

A number of factors led Reich to this dilemma. By this point he had cultured bions–again I leave that to Prof Strick. Also, he had acquired a state-of-the-art microscope that permitted the high magnification necessary for observing the inner motility of bions. At the same time we was in conflict with his partner/wife, Elsa Lindenberg, concerning his political work. At one point Elsa "flew into a rage over ‘filthy Sexpol.’" The following day, he told Elsa that sexpol would be the "end of all politicizing." That diary entry ends:."The death crisis for Sexpol has begun."

Reich’s final diary entry for the year, dated 26 December, reads:

The temptation to put an end to all of this filthy politics is too great. But then what was the purpose of these fifteen years?

To me it sounds reminiscent of the earlier passage about his clinging to the Communist Party well after he saw it to be hopeless.

With the new year, 1937, Reich gave up editing his journal for political psychology and sexeconomy, turning over the editorial duties to Sigurd Hoel.

That year Reich wrote an addition to the 1932 Sexual Struggle of Youth. It was printed as a loose leaf insert to copies of the booklet and printed in his Zeitschrift. In it he completely disassociates himself with the word "Communism." Not Marxism, but Communism.

And in 1938, again in his journal, he announced a new version of the Sexual Struggle of Youth to be called "The Sexual Rights of Youth." You can read it in the volume The Children of the Future.

(The Children of the Future: On the Prevention of Sexual Pathology, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983.)

The Sexual Rights of Youth is a much shorter version of what you might call the "Soviet version" of The Sexual Struggle of Youth, but the new Sexual Rights of Youth still includes the following passage:

This sexual suppression of the children by their parents, to which is added the intellectual suppression by the school, the spiritual stultification by the Church, and finally the material suppression and exploitation by employer of employee, is the primary source of youth people’s emotional and sexual misery.

215, Children of the Future.

With its reference to economic "material suppression and exploitation" some of the old Marxist ideas remain. And those Marxist concepts, with a twist, get full blown in The Natural Organization of Work in Work Democracy published the following year.

(Die natürliche Organisation der Arbeit in der Arbeitsdemokratie. Oslo: Sexpol-Verlag, (Jan.) 1939, 83 pp

This pamphlet, the first part of which can now be read in Orgonomic Functionalism #7, includes a new concept of democracy as well as a new version of fascism. Previously, in the 1933  Mass Psychology of Fascism, Reich refers to fascism as the ideology of particular groups, like the National Socialists, i.e., the Nazis, or the original Fascist Party in Italy.

But in The Natural Organization of Work, fascism is seen as a characterlogical feature rather than a political movement: "It exists in our very being."

In man’s fear of happiness, which turns into romantic dreams; in his helplessness and irresponsibility; in the education of life by irrational feelings and actions; in the art of lying, fraud and circumvention, whose peak is reached in diplomacy and politics. Fascism is the abomination of human structure in the form of revolutionary ecstasy, a compromise between the most sacred yearning and brutality formed in millenniums of human oppression…. Fascist mentality and sentimentality manifests themselves … in the pedagogical arrogance of helpless and … authoritarian teachers and parents

That way of seeing fascism, as a characterological structure rather than a political ideology, calls into question the efficacy, the viability, of any political activity. It is in the Natural Organization of Work that Reich’s banner phrase, which you can still see in the conference center at Orgonon, Work, not Politics! occurs.  In the Natural Organization he writes:

The most essential demand of the new movement will be: Make an end, finally make an end to all politics! Let’s start real work for our social life!!

And shortly thereafter::

The conception of socialism has altered; for it no longer means a party – "conviction" but practical, real, and honest work for the tasks of life.

We started with preventing neuroses by a radical change aligned with revolutionary left politics on the family but now, with the end of politics, how are we going to change the roots of what Reich soon after came to call the emotional plague? It is not as if patriarchal authority has faded away. Sadly it is all too prevalent. Do I dare I offer you a few reminders about the family?

According to the national coalition against domestic violence, In the United States, an average of 20 people experience intimate partner physical violence every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

According to the Brookings Institute, More than 70% of Americans agreed in 2012 that, "it is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a good, hard spanking."

Spousal abuse, child abuse, both are evident, and if we widened our scope, not from the US or Europe but globally, all this is clear, sadly clear.  I would suggest that part of the ideology behind this is conservative religions, with the spare the rod poisonous pedagogy and the demand that males "protect their women" by ruling the roost. And on top of that all, every dominant religious systems  continue to sow confusion about sexuality.

In the original 1933 Mass Psychology of Fascism, roughly half of the text was devoted to the harmful role of religion. Chapter Six in the original is entitled "The Church as the International Sex-political Arm of Capitalism." Following Marx, Reich argues that religion serves to divert attention away from one’s present-day misery with its promise of eternal reward, but he goes further, maintaining that psychoanalysis has proven that religious experiences have the same effect on the autonomic system as do drugs:

This is in accord with Marx’s statement that religion acts on the masses like opium. This is not a mere simile. Psychoanalysis [in his later version he replaced psychoanalysis with vegetotherapy: p. 130]

demonstrated that the religious experience in fact sets in motion the same processes in the autonomic life apparatus as an opiate. They are processes of excitation in the sexual apparatus which cause conditions similar to intoxication and which call for orgastic gratification.

Opiate of the masses confirmed!   

As for patriarchy, in this same section of Mass Psychology of Fascism Reich writes:

Both patriarchal family attitudes and mystical attitudes are the basic mass-psychological elements of fascist and imperialist nationalism. Thus the fact that mystical education prepares the soil for fascism is demonstrated on a mass-psychological scale when a social crisis sets the masses in motion.

A social crisis: in the later translation crisis is replaced by catastrophe. The crisis, the catastrophe facing us today: Science is irrelevant in the face of religious dogmatism.

Over a third of evangelical Christians say there is "no solid evidence" that climate change is happening. Others acknowledge the reality of a warming planet but see it as part of God’s plan, who is now showing us signs that the end-times are upon us. If the apocalypse is around the corner or already has begun, why bother?

If we are to have any hope of addressing the climate crisis, the catastrophe, we need all of our intelligence and scientific acumen. But here, in the 21st century, we are still having to fight on behalf of evolutionary theory over and against creationist religious dogma.

According to the National Law Review:

The Trump administration, the most notoriously anti-science administration in modern memory, has only added fuel to the creationist fire. With multiple high-ranking cabinet members being outspoken creationists, state legislatures and individual teachers have been reinvigorated in their efforts to push forward religious legislation that denies accepted evolutionary science. However, this surge of anti-evolution and pro-creationist sentiment has the potential to have an enormous negative impact on students and the American educational system as a whole.

Reich warned of this in the Mass Psychology of Fascism. There he wrote of the conflict between religion and science, and the quote "withholding of scientific findings from the masses of the population," using evolution as a case in point. He refers to the Scopes "monkey" trial in the U.S. an example–the trial occurred in 1925.  Reich wrote that the lack of a proper scientific education encourages "humility, lack of criticism, renunciation and hope for happiness in a hereafter, belief in authority, recognition of the holiness of asceticism, and the inviolability of the authoritarian family" (Reich, Mass, 1946, 147). He reports that during his Moscow visit in 1929 he was told that "the only organized counter-revolutionary groups were the religious sects" (Reich, Mass, 1946, 151).

How can one best counteract religious mysticism? You cannot argue with it, since it isn’t based on reason. The only way to loosen the grip of mysticism in an individual is to get that person to develop "sexual consciousness," an awareness of the contradictions between the yoke of religiously enforced conventional morality and one’s deepest desires. He reports, based on his own therapeutic practice, that as patients becomes aware of their inhibiting unconscious beliefs and fears, the hold of mysticism lessens. "The strengthening of the personality dissolves the God-fixation which is a continuation of the father-fixation" (Reich, Mass, 1946, 155).

But now we are back to individual therapy, and it just doesn’t seem enough. When I first began orgone therapy as an undergraduate, my therapist, Dr. Sobey, would say, shaking his head,  that I was a freedom peddler and that I needed to let go trying to save humanity. More than once he said, quoting Reich himself, "weed your own garden."

All fine and good: I do. I live a good life. I take care of my actual garden, my environment.

But I still long for ways to help myself and others: selfishly, I do have grandchildren who will have to deal with the problems we have left before them. Would their reading Reich and understanding Grandpa Philip’s way of thinking help them? I don’t know, but I kind of doubt it. Maybe you’ll have some thoughts as to how to make the world better through work and not politics. Thanks for listening.

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Transcription of the speech given on November 17, 2018 by Dr. Stephan Simonian

The followings are the transcription of the speech given on November 17, 2018 by Dr. Stephan Simonian at an Orgonomy conference in Glendale, CA.

"Evolution of psychiatric orgone therapy from psychoanalysis and its medical, psychiatric and social consequences."
By: Stephan Simonian M.D.

Thank you all for coming. The part that is now on my shoulder in this conference is to describe how from psychoanalysis Reich developed into this Orgonomy. So it is rather a tall order since I only have 45 minutes to describe all this. I am going to put up on a slideshow and walk you through it. This process is described in the book "Function of Orgasm" which is about 400 pages and I’m going to walk you through this slideshow but I have to go a little fast and hopefully I’ll be able to describe it all. The title of my talk is "Evolution of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy from Psychoanalysis and its Medical Psychiatric and Social Consequences" so it ends up from psychoanalysis to all these different aspects that affects our lives.

Orgonomy grew in the womb of psychoanalysis.

Orgonomy grew in the womb of psychoanalysis, the founder of psychoanalysis was Sigmund Freud, Reich was a student of Freud and in the book "Function of orgasm" Reich praises Freud and says: "I spent 14 years of intensive work in and for psychoanalysis but in the end I was extremely disappointed in Freud. Fortunately this disappointment did not lead to hatred and rejection. Quite contrary today I can appreciate Freud’s achievement in a far better and deeper way then I could in those days of youthful enthusiasm I am happy to have been his student for such a long time without having to criticize him prematurely and with complete devotion to his cause". Freud gave a picture of himself as a remembrance to Reich, under the picture he  inscribed " to Dr. Wilhelm Reich as a kind remembrance from Sigmund Freud dated 1925". This picture is at the Wilhelm Reich Museum in Rangeley Maine.

Sigmund Freud. The photograph is in inscribed (in German): "To Dr. Wilhelm Reich as a kind remembrance of Sigm Freud. March 1925."

To talk about how Orgonomy developed from psychoanalysis I’m quickly going to go over some of the psychoanalytic major theories.

Freud developed 3 major theories throughout his life.

Freud’s major theories
Libido theory (the theory of psycho-sexual energy)
Topographic theory (theory of Conscious and Unconscious)
Structural theory, (theory of Id, Ego and Superego).


The first theory is the libido theory which is the theory of energy. The second theory is the Topographic theory or theory of conscious and unconscious and the third theory is the Structural theory so called the theory of Id, Ego and Super ego. Freud had to assume an existence of an energy that operates in the newborn which is the source of propagation of life and neurosis develops when this energy is blocked. Instincts get their power from this energy.


Libido theory
Hypothetical psychosexual energy operating in newborn
Is the source of propagation of life
Neurosis develops when this energy is blocked
Instincts get their power from this energy source.


Topographic theory is a theory of conscious and unconscious. Freud stated that under the conscious mind there is a large segment hidden which is unconscious and it affects our lives.  Neurotic symptoms are manifestation of conflict rooted in the unconscious and Freud postulated that by psychoanalytic technique, when the unconscious becomes conscious, neurotic symptoms should improve.

Topographic theory
Under the conscious mind there is a larger hidden segment of unconscious
Psychoneurotic symptoms are manifestations of conflict rooted in a person’s unconscious
Freud postulated that by psychoanalytic technique when the unconscious becomes conscious neurotic symptoms should improve.

The structural theory which is the last theory of Freud divides human psychological structure to three components: Id, which is the component that is composed of instinctual strivings, Ego which is the part which faces the word and negotiates with the word and Superego which is the internalized social parental and religious values which causes approval or disapproval and creates guilt and demands punitive measures.

Structural theory
Freud divided human psychological structure to 3 components
Id – Which are instinctual strivings
Ego – Face and interact with the world
Superego – Which is internalized social, parental and religious values, causes approval & disapproval, creates guilt and demands punitive measures.

Freud also proposed two types of neurosis, first type he called it stasis neurosis. This is caused by disturbance of the sexual life when there is damming up of the libido energy, because of poor sexual life or poor discharge of sexual energy and accumulation of the libido energy which causes toxic reaction such as palpitation, hyperventilation, high level of anxiety and that can be cured by counseling and by helping the patient not to be abstinent. Freud also proposed the second type of neurosis which he called it psychoneurosis which develops because of an unconscious conflict that needs psychoanalysis to resolve the conflict. However Freud agreed that underneath of each psychoneurosis there is a core of stasis neurosis and then with each stasis neurosis there is a component of psychoneurosis, so really there is no need for differentiation since each has part of the other one.

Freud suggested 2 types of neurosis
Stasis neurosis or actual neurosis, which is caused by disturbance of sexual life, damming up of libido energy (psychosexual energy) which causes toxic reaction in the body such as palpitation, hyperventilation and high level of anxiety and can be cured by counseling and helping the patient not to be abstinent
Psychoneurosis which develops because of unconscious conflict and can be cured by psychoanalysis.

However Freud agreed that underneath of each psychoneurosis there is a core of Stasis neurosis and with each Stasis neurosis there is a component of psychoneurosis. By this consideration no differentiation between neurosis and psychoneurosis seems necessary.

 Freud’s technique, how we can go into unconscious and make the unconscious conflict conscious is the psychoanalysis. The technique that Freud proposed is that patient lies on the couch and the patient is encouraged to talk and say whatever comes to his mind, so called free associate. By free association one though brings another though like links of chain and eventually leads to the unconscious conflict. Freud suggested that when unconscious conflict of the neurotic symptoms becomes conscious, the patient should improve.

Freud’s Psychoanalytic Technique
Patient lies on couch and is encouraged to say whatever comes to his mind
By free association ideas and thoughts like links of chain will lead to unconscious conflict
Dream interpretation
This technique is to make unconscious roots of the conflict conscious and according to Freud patient should improve. 

Freud also suggested dream interpretation because he says that there is some component of unconscious in a symbolic way in a dream and by the interpretation of the dream if we can decode the dream we will be able to help make the unconscious conscious. According to Freud when the unconscious conflict becomes conscious, patient will improve.

In psychoanalytic setting, the psychoanalyst sits on the top of the couch and the patient lies on the couch. Freud suggested by lying on the couch the free association happens more easily and patients are able to talk more easily. However psychoanalytic theory and technique does not always work. There is resistances and sometimes patients don’t free associate, they talk about irrelevant things and this process gets halted in the middle or even when the unconscious conflicts becomes conscious patient don’t always improve. In other words patient cognitively, intellectually understands why he/she feels miserable but he/she still feels miserable and things does not improve. Reich was following Freud’s technique; he realized that some patients do not get better when their unconscious becomes conscious.

Psychoanalytic theory and technique does not always work
Reich gives 2 examples of treatment of patients with conflicting results.

Reich gives two examples of many cases that he had seen. In the first example, the patient, was a student that Freud referred to him. He was suffering from obsessive thoughts and was constantly counting numbers. Reich followed the exact suggestions of Freud and did the analysis as Freud suggested. After a period of treatment, an incest fantasy broke through and after that patient was able to have a healthier sexual life and was able to have a gratifying sexual relation after which the symptoms improved. This was a proof that Freud’s theory and technique was correct. He was concomitantly analyzing a waiter. I’m going read this case because it illustrates what we want to say and how Reich started to depart from Freud. Reich was analyzing a waiter who was totally incapable of having an erection. Reich says:  "During the third year of psychoanalysis we arrived at a perfect reconstruction of primal scene [means the scene that caused initial trauma to the patient]. He was 2 years old when this occurred. His mother gave birth to a child and from the adjacent room he had been able to observe every detail of the delivery. The impression of a large bloody hole between the mother’s legs became firmly ingrained in his mind. On a conscious level they remained only the sensation of emptiness in his own genitals. Based on psychoanalytic knowledge of that time, I mearly connected his inability to have erection to his severely traumatic impression of castrated female genitalia. This analysis was no doubt correct, at that time I incorrectly assessed the total personality of my patient. He was a very quiet, well mannered, well behaved person and did everything that he was asked to do. In a course of three years of treatment he never once became angry or exercised criticism, thus according to prevailing thought he was fully integrated adjusted character with only one acute symptom, monosymptomatic neurosis". Reich presented this case to the older analysts and was praised for his precise analytical work and they considered the analysis to be successful. However Reich wondered that if the treatment had in fact been successful then why had the patient not improved? Reich says: "It did not occur to anyone of us that it was precisely this emotional tranquility and unshakable calmness which formed the pathological characterological basis to which erectile impotence could be maintained. I terminated the analysis several months later and the patient had not been cured. The patient accepted the termination of treatment as he accepted everything else in his life with politeness, placidity and passivity".

From here on Reich moves to character analysis vs. symptom analysis
Patient’s whole character resists the treatment
It is not important "what patient says", It is important "how he says it".

From here on Reich moved into character analysis versus symptoms analysis. He realized that the sickness was the patient’s character that everyone thought it was an asset. In fact that was what was preventing him from getting better, so he moved from the symptoms analysis to character analysis. In another word Reich realized that it was not important "what the patient says", it is important "how he says it". If the character is intact then even if the patient discovers the unconscious reasons of his neurosis, the patient will only gain an intellectual insight to his problem, but the problem will persist. The first case proved correctness of Freud; the second case indicated that this technique does not always work.

The first case reflects correctness of Freud’s theory of neurosis and psychoneurosis (patient improved after having satisfactory sexual release) and after unconscious conflict became conscious
The 2nd patient, the waiter did not improve.

Hence Reich developed two major theories: Theory of armoring and Theory of orgasm. Both theories developed concomitantly and at the end they converge and become part of each other.

Hence Reich developed 2 major theories
A. Theory of Armoring
B. Theory of Orgasm

In other words armoring of the body, the character armoring, prevents the flow of energy and prevents the possibility of orgastic potency so these two theories they become integratal part of each other. The theory of armoring developed in the process of Reich’s work with the patient’s resistance to treatment. The treatment was sometimes successful and sometimes the patients were resisting the process of treatment. Reich realized that the character of the patient was what blocked the process.

The theory of armoring
The theory of armoring developed in the process of Reich’s work for psychoanalytic society in the process of dealing with patient’s resistances to treatment.

Reich discovered that the patient’s whole character resists the process of psychoanalysis, it resists the change like that aforementioned waiter who was able to discover the unconscious reason but his symptoms persisted.

Reich discovered that the patient’s whole character resists the process of psychoanalysis. It resists the change like aforementioned polite and agreeable waiter.

Reich discovered that to bring a fundamental and meaningful improvement to the patient the character resistance should be dissolved first. He developed a technique for character analysis to break that character resistance and bring the movement of emotions. He defined the character resistance as the character armor.

Reich discovered that to bring a fundamental and meaningful improvement to the patient, the character resistance should be dissolved first. He developed a technique of character analysis and called character resistance as character armor.

He defined character armor as sum total of character attitudes which an individual develops as a defense against his emotional excitements resulting in rigidity of the body and lack of genuine emotional contact.

Character armor is defined as the sum total of character attitudes which an individual develops as defense against his emotional excitations resulting in rigidity of the body and lack of genuine emotional contact.

As you may realize, Reich now is moving away from Freud by not doing symptom analysis but doing character analysis first. Although he is moving away from Freud, he is still working in the realm of psychology.

However the character of the patient has a physical counterpart, character armor has a physical and muscular counterpart which is functionally identical but works in the physical realm.

Character armor has a physical and muscular counterpart which is functionally identical with it but works in the physical realm.

In another word a patient who has learned to assume a pleasant attitude by constantly smiling, will develop muscular rigidity in his or her fascial muscles, the cheeks will become stiff, or a person who is constantly defensive and keeps the neck uptight, there will be a muscular contraction in his neck muscles and as time goes on the muscular contraction will become chronic and will becomes part of his personality. Reich gives an example of a muscular and physical armor in the book of Function of Orgasm,

Reich gives an example of muscular and physical armor in the book of "Functional Orgasm":
I treated a man who offered a considerable resistance to the uncovering of his passive homosexual fantasies…..

Reich says: "I treated a man who offered a considerable resistance to the uncovering of his passive homosexual fantasies. This resistance was overtly expressed in the extreme stiffness in his throat and stiff neck. A concentrated attack on his defense finally caused him to yield though in an alarming way. For three days he was shaken by acute manifestation of vegetative shock the paler of his face changed rapidly from white to yellow to blue, his skin was spotted and mottled, he experienced violent pains in the neck and back of the head, his heartbeat was rapid and pounding and had diarrhea. He felt tired and seemed to have lost control. I was uneasy, true. I had often seen similar symptoms but never in such a violent form. Something had happened here that while somehow a legitimate part of the work was not immediately intelligible. Affects or emotions had broken through somatically and physically after the patient had relinquished his attitude of psychic defense. Apparently the stiff neck which emphasized austere masculinity had bond vegetative energies, biosexual energy which now broke loose in an uncontrollable and chaotic manner. A person with an ordered sexual economy, healthy and natural sexual function, is not capable of such reaction only continues inhibition of damming up of biological energy can produce it. The musculature has served the function of inhibition when the neck muscle is relaxed powerful impulses as if unleashed from a taut coil had broken through".

Emotional armor and physical and muscular armor are counterpart of each other and are functionally identical with each other, one in the realm of psyche and the other in the realm of body.

From here on Reich is moving into muscular realm, he is moving from psychology into biology, into body. Emotional and physical armor are counterpart of each other and functionally are identical with each other. One in realm of psyche the other one in the realm of body but as you see he is moving away from Freud more and more, he is going into the physical biological realm..

This is a schematic depiction of how we see in the Orgonomy the relation between the body and psyche. There is a source of biological energy and psychosomatic identity but it divides, into Psche and Soma, but in the depth they are both merge together and are one. Dr. Reich developed and described a technique to dissolve the character armor and its counterpart physical armor. He developed a technique to break the character armor but for physical armor he also developed a technique and the technique is described in the book Function of Orgasm and Character Analysis and also Dr. Herskowitz who was his last student and recently passed away at age 100 had a book called Emotional Armoring that he described the technique in that book as well.

Dr. Reich developed and describes a technique to dissolve the character armor and its counterpart physical armor in the books of "Character Analysis" & "The Function of Orgasm" and Dr. Herskowitz described it in the book of "Emotional Armoring".

Armoring hinders the orderly flow of psychosexual energy (orgone energy, feeling and emotions) in the body and hinders orgastic potency armor should be dissolved. Therefore the theory of orgasm and the theory of armoring are inseparable from each other and are integral part of each other.

Reich says that in the cases that he was able successfully dissolve the armor and restore healthy sexuality, patients significantly changed and they changed unexpectedly, he gives some example of the changes that happens in the patients.

Reich says in the cases that he was able to successfully dissolve the armor and restore healthy sexuality changes in the patients were intense and unexpected. He gives the following examples:

Dr. Reich stated" quit spontaneously patients began to experience the moralistic attitude of the world around them as something alien and peculiar, no matter how tenaciously they might have defended premarital chastity beforehand now they experience this demand as grotesque. Such demands no longer had any relevance for them, they became indifferent to them. Their attitude towards their work changed. If they had previously worked mechanically not demonstrating a real interest now they became discriminating. The change in the sexual sphere was just as pronounced. Patients who had felt no qualms about going to prostitutes became incapable of doing so… wives who have patiently endured living with unloving husband and had submitted to the sexual act out of marital obligation could no longer do so and they simply refused, they had had enough". Reich says that when the armor is resolved and the sexual potency is restored the people developed characters like "Jesus Christ character".

Reich also developed the theory of orgasm. This theory corresponds with theory of neurosis of Freud. Freud said that when the libido energy is blocked neurotic symptoms develop. So the theory of orgasm also corresponds with theory of neurosis of Freud.  Reich says that the orgastic impotence is not just one of many symptoms of neurosis but it is the most significant symptom as well as the cause of neurosis.

The Theory of Orgasm
This theory corresponds with Freud’s theory of neurosis
Reich says: That orgastic impotence is not just one of many symptoms of neurosis but it is the most significant symptom as well as the cause of neurosis.

In other words Reich said that every neurotic patient is sexually disturbed. Reich’s contemporary psychiatrists and psychoanalysts disagreed with him saying that they have many patients that are sexually very potent but they have neurotic symptoms. However that sexual potency when analyzed and probed little bit deeper, showed not a genuine potency. True they were capable of having sex but they either couldn’t reach orgasm or there were pre mature ejaculation or they had all types of strange fantasies. In Orgonomy healthy orgastic potency is defined as person’s ability to surrender to the flow of biological energy free of any inhibition or fantasy and its capacity to discharge completely the dammed up sexual excitation through involuntary pleasurable convulsions.

In Orgonomy healthy orgastic potency is defined as person’s ability to surrender to the flow of biological energy free of any inhibition or fantasy and its capacity to discharge completely the dammed up sexual excitation through involuntary pleasurable convulsions.

Orgasm theory is a rich theory and it encompasses concepts of expansion and contraction of living protoplasm and its psychological expression of pleasure and displeasure as well as its relation to autonomic nervous system. While the autonomic nervous system in the body that is responsible for pulsation and is involuntary and is causing expansion and contraction of the body.

Orgasm theory is a rich theory and encompasses concepts of expansion and contraction of living protoplasm and its psychological expression of pleasure and displeasure as well as its relation to autonomic nervous system.

So as you see, we are going from the psychology which is the highest order to character analysis then to the muscular attitude and body and then even deeper into the nervous system into the autonomic nervous system, so you see how deep and basic is Reich’s theories in the psychiatric treatment. It does not stop on psychology, it goes into the body and brings changes which are much deeper and therefore the changes in the patients are much basic and fundamental changes.

Sexual potency and the process of armoring both in deeper level are connected to function of autonomic nervous system which governs the involuntary process of contraction and expansion of the body by sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous branches.

Sexual potency and the process of armoring both in deeper level are connected to function of autonomic nervous system which governs the involuntary process of contraction and expansion of the body by sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous branches.

Now that we recognize the physical armoring by contraction of the muscles of the body tissues and its relation to autonomic nervous system, it is logical to conclude that many of the physical illnesses also arise from the armoring of the body. In other words, I want to show how logically Reich’s theories are progressing, how logically and scientifically it is progressing. Now if there is physical armoring, if there is a contraction in the muscular of the body as a result of armoring then there must be some changes in the physical domain in the physical area, in the body tissues.

Now that we recognize the physical armoring by contractions of muscles and body tissues and its relation to autonomic nervous system, it is logical to conclude that many physical illnesses can also arise because of the armoring of the body.
Reich in the book of cancer biopathy used the term biopathy for such physical conditions.
Reich says:

In the book of Cancer Biopathy Reich used the term biopathy for such physical conditions. Reich says: "The term biopathy refers to all disease processes caused by basic dysfunction in the autonomic or vegetative nervous system of life apparatus. Once started, this dysfunction can manifest itself in variety of symptomatic disease pattern. A biopathy can result in carcinomatous biopathy, but it can just as easily lead to angina pectoris, asthma, cardio vascular hypertension, epilepsy, catatonic or paranoid schizophrenia, anxiety neurosis, multiple schorosis, choria and chronic alcoholism etc. We are still ignorant of the function that determines the direction in which biopathy will develop". In another word why in someone biopathy causes angina pectoris and in other person cancer still needs to be understood. "Of prime importance to us however is the common denominator of all these diseases as disturbance in the natural function of pulsation".

Now if armoring of the organism is detrimental to its health then why does it happen?

Now, if armoring of the organism is such a detrimental thing to our health, if it’s such a bad thing then why does it happen? From here on we are entering into sociological sphere of Orgonomy, where Mr. Howard will talk about how Orgonomy enters into sociology. Armoring happens in the process of child’s interaction with his environment. The anti-sexual and authoritarian upbringings of the children which are prevalent in most cultures are the main cause of armoring. Schematically the process of armoring is as follows:

Armoring happens in the process of a child’s interactions with his environment.
The antisexual and authoritarian upbringings of children prevalent in most cultures are the main cause of armoring.
Schematically the process of armoring is as follows:

Schematically there is the drive of the child "D" and there is the inhibition that is exerted from the world "W". Initially the child protests, cries a bit, throws a temper tantrum but eventually submits to it. Part of the drive splits from the main drive and turns against it, so after a while there is no need for outer inhibitory force. The child’s organism itself does the work of inhibition. In some ways this is the schematic depiction of it. Many times patients tell me "doctor I hated when my mother or father was doing this to me but I find myself doing the same thing to my children". 

Orgonomic model for a healthy organism is composed of core, middle layer and periphery. 

The psychoanalytic theory has a model for the human psychiatric structure. Their model is based on, Id, Ego and Superego of Freud’s structural theory. Our model the orgonomic model, of human

psychological structure is based on core, middle layer and periphery. In a healthy organism where there is no armoring the impulses originates from the core and can manifest itself in the surface without distortion. An unarmored person is able to show the love, pleasure or the anger in an undistorted way if he wants to.

Diagram depicting basic function in armored organism. The inhibition of primary impulses produces secondary impulses and anxiety.

This is the depiction of the armored organism. In the armored organism however the person is unable to show what initial primary drive is. The armor prevents and distorts the feelings and changes them to something different. On the surface the person shows an exaggerated politeness like the waiter we talked about and manifests character traits but inside there is a distorted feelings and secondary drives that are different from the original impulse.

Once the organism becomes armored the primary impulses that are natural, rational love, natural sexuality, rational anger and rational hate becomes distorted.

Once the organism becomes armored the primary impulses that are natural, rational love, natural sexuality, rational anger and rational hate becomes distorted and it can show in a different ways. From here on sociological branch of Orgonomy develops which deals with sociocultural norms that causes armoring. Reich in the book of "Function of Orgasm: says:
"The patriarchal authoritarian era of human history has attempted to hold the asocial impulses in check by means of compulsive moralistic prohibitions. It is in this way that civilized man if he can be called civilized developed a psychic structure consisting of three layers. On the surface he wears an artificial mask of self-control compulsive insincere politeness and pseudosociality. This mask conceals the second layer the Freudian unconscious in which sadism, greed, lewdness, envy, perversions of all kinds etc. are held in check without however being deprived of the slightest amount of energy. This second layer is the artificial product of sex negating, culture and is usually experienced consciously as a gaping inner emptiness and desolation. Beneath it in the depth natural sociality, sexuality, spontaneous joy in work and capacity for love exist and operates. This third and deeper layer which represents the biological core of the human structure is the unconscious and it is feared. It is in variance with every aspect of authoritarian education and control. At the same time it is the only real hope man has of one day mastering social misery".

From here on sociological branch of Orgonomy starts which deals with socio-cultural norms that causes armoring.
Reich in the book of "Reich Speak of Freud" says that following:

 But I assure you that there is no solution to this world’s problems unless this point is cleared up sociologically, politically, economically, psychologically, structurally, character logically, in every single respect. I don’t believe that there will be any solution of any social problem as long as children and adolescents grow up with a stasis of biological energy.

The biological energy that operates in the human organism in a pulsating manner originates and propagates throughout the body from autonomic ganglions and by autonomic nervous system.
Reich identified same energy, orgone energy in the atmosphere and tried to harvest it by different devices and use it medically.
From here on the biophysical branch of Orgonomy develops.

The biological energy that operates in the human organism in a pulsating manner originates and propagates through the body from the autonomic ganglions and autonomic nervous systems. Reich identified the same energy, orgone energy, in the atmosphere and tried to harvest it by different devices and used it medically. From here on biophysical branch of Orgonomy develops.

This is depiction of the function of the autonomic nervous system that originates and propagates biological energy in the human body. There is the core and the ganglions which are mostly prevalent in the hypogastric area and solar plexus in the lower abdomen and emittes the pulsating energy through the autonomic nervous system and causes expansion and contraction in the body.

Reich says: the basic theory belongs to Freud but I furthered it so much that he himself could not recognize it anymore.

 Reich said "The basic theory belonged to Freud but I furthered it so much that he himself could not recognize it anymore".

Thank you and I hope I was able to present the content as it is promised in the title of this talk.

Posted in Biopathies & Psychiatric Orgone TherapyComments (3)

Orgonomy Conference November 17, 2018 in Glendale California

On November 17, 2018 an Orgonomy conference was held in Glendale, California titled, "Wilhelm Reich and the Science of Life Energy – Orgonomy".

Dr. Conny Huthsteiner gave welcoming and introductory remarks. She stated:

I want to welcome everybody here. If there is any problem with the sound please let me know. My name is Conny Huthsteiner. I am psychiatrist. I want to welcome you all. I am very happy so many people are interested in coming to hear our conference here today. I want to start thanking people who are central to this organization, the main person being Dr. Simonian, who was the driving force and really made this conference happen in all ways, shapes and forms. And I want to thank our speakers. One has come from Oslo, Norway, and the other has come from the country side near Milan, Italy. I very much appreciate them both taking the time and the trouble to take a long flight to participate. I wanted to just start by saying I had hoped that in some way this conference would be sort of a celebration. Wilhelm Reich is known to most of you in some way. He was an incredibly prolific thinker, writer, inventor and unfortunately tragically died in a terrible situation in a United States prison after his books were burned multiple times. And yet, despite much public disparagement of his work and his character, and many lies about his work, it has persisted.

I was hoping today we would be able to talk about some of the ways we are actually moving his work forward. His work seems to be surviving all the various and sundry developments in multiple fields of science with a great degree of strength. In other words, this man was writing his ideas in the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, and yet they’re all holding up under scrutiny. As our own concepts in science have advanced since his death in 1957, I can’t think of one idea that he had that is not still legitimate, which I think is extraordinary. I don’t know many thinkers who are able to cut so sharply with a knife conceptually that they get so many things right even with very few tools at his disposal to work with. And so as a consequence I really hope that this conference would be more of a celebration of what he has done and where we see this potentially moving forward in the future. In many ways I feel Reich’s work and life represent the ultimate revolution. And certainly he wrote very famous book, although he effectively never receives credit for that phrase, called "The Sexual Revolution", even though that defined cultures in Europe and United States in an extraordinary way since the 1940’s 50’s and 60’s. I think that’s maybe because he addressed the core issue that all humans grapple with, and that is how to find true love, how to be capable of true deep satisfaction and find love that we all find fulfilling. Now you might obviously ask a question, well how we go from talking about love to talking about atmospheric physics? It does not appear as if there is a logical direct connection between the two, and yet there is; and that’s what’s so remarkable and revolutionary about his thinking. His thinking was able to really introduce revolutions not just in the field of human relationships but also in psychotherapy approaches. In many aspects of healthcare, he has introduced things that could be potentially truly completely altering of our healthcare landscape. He really developed a concept of energy that would allow us to use an unlimited source of energy without destroying our environment through its utilization, which, in of itself, at this time, when we are having so many problems with our energy utilization, it’s obviously of absolute importance. There is also the issue that he had ideas for how actually influence weather events so as to lead to a healing of our atmosphere, and a resetting of our atmosphere to a status that would be still conducive to living here on the planet longer. Ultimately in some ways Reich did toward the end of his life speak more even just about issues of consciousness. Scientist are often put in pigeon holes or pockets, the same with psychologists or psychiatrists, and same with philosophers. One of the things I think he was quite extra ordinary at was spanning so many fields of inquiry, successfully. So, it’s very hard to pigeon hole him in some ways. But as I said at the beginning his life ended pretty tragically, very tragically by anybody’s standards. I think that has left an impact on his legacy. I know in the years following his passing many physicians who worked with him were quite intimidated or frightened about the possibility themselves of coming under professional scrutiny or harassment. I think the question often remains for many people, why would he be so aggressively attacked? And, who would be behind it? What are the factors at play on our planet that would lead to this? I think that has held people back. But as I said, today I was hoping we could try to focus instead more on what he did create and what we could do with it. Will we be able to bring it back into the foreground successfully enough to use it going to the future? I feel it’s our responsibility to try to do that, to try to either teach more about it, influence people in some way, try to show people what he really did. But I realize also, if there is going to be a change happening in human consciousness or in our understandings of science, and the relationship between our emotions and our physical world and our happiness in general, that’s a revolution that’s going to have to happen on its own time. Unfortunately, none of us are going to be able to force it but certainly it’s worth an effort. So, we have kind of mixed program today and we are trying to address some issues of research going on right now. I wanted to show a little bit of a film: "A Man’s Right to Know". It was created by the Wilhelm Reich Museum. It gives a more general biographical history of Reich, maybe more detailed than I’m giving right now. I wanted to also introduce a little bit of our speakers just so people know who they are. Dr. Simonian is a psychiatrist here in Los Angeles. He grew up in Iran and he has translated "The Function of Orgasm" from English into Persian and in that way really came to know some of the fundamentals of Reich’s theories very well. He practices Orgone therapy here in Los Angeles and also has lectured at different conferences about Reich and psychiatry. We have Roberto Maglione is a colleague from Italy. Roberto is quite an interesting person and very sweet person and has an interesting background. He actually is a mining engineer but he got very interested in Reich’s work in the 1990’s and has since written 10 books on Reich which most of them are in Italian but there are four books in English that he has here, all of which I think are very very interesting books and they are for sale out in the lobby. He has worked extensively in the field of weather research but also has studied issues of physical tests and issues that Reich discussed toward the end of his life: the inter play of orgone energy with nuclear material, the "Oranur experiment" as we call it; and also some of Reich’s experiments on biogenesis or the evolution of life. His books are also available out there in the lobby to look at. We also have Havard Neilson from Oslo. He is an associate professor at the Norwegian University in Oslo area. He has a PHD in political science history and also is a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge for several years. He is going to be speaking on the political history of Reich in the period in the interwar years. My name is Conny Huthsteiner I’m a psychiatrist. I can say when I first got interested in Reich I was actually working as a singer and in film. I remember I had enrolled in a theater class. In that theater seminar the leader used some Orgone therapy techniques that were very, very intense. They elicited a lot of emotion in me and I was interested in what he had done. I had known Reich’s name as a child as growing up because my father was a psychiatrist so I basically started doing research into his life. and that was back in 1980. I ended up then enrolling in medical school and became a psychiatrist. So, it’s been a long road getting here but it’s an issue that’s never let me go. In other words, the study of the knowledge that Reich brought forth is that important that I would continue on this path. I’m not sure about everybody’s background in Reich. I have often hoped that we can put together a project in which we can talk about Reich’s major theoretical developments. Although it is hard to get into it right now, he really was the father of body-integrated psychotherapy which is now manifested in many forms, many different schools of body oriented psychotherapy. It’s a psychotherapy form that works much more intensively often than normal talk therapy. Through that work he really came to understand what energy in the body is, and was able to see the connection between the energy in the body and the energy in the atmosphere at large. These are just a few of some of his basic trends of thinking. Maybe I could start the Man’s Right to Know film.

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PO Box 687 – Rangeley, ME 04970

December 2018

Dear Friends of the Work of Wilhelm Reich:

As the time for year-end charitable contributions approaches, I urge you to remember the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust in your giving. The generosity of so many of you earlier this year has helped us begin to stabilize our urgent financial crisis. And our Board of Directors has raised additional funds by selling one of our cabins and by harvesting some of the timber on the property at Orgonon.

Thus we are able to move forward with plans for next year’s exciting summer conference at Orgonon, 8-12 July 2019 on the topic of Reich’s writings on Work Democracy.

In addition, volume 7 of our journal Orgonomic Functionalism, the only publication where Reich’s previously unpublished writings can be found, is in preparation and will appear within the next few months, available both in digital and in paper format. We have also just re-issued Reich’s hard to find final book, Contact with Space, in both digital and paper format. It can be purchased through the Museum Bookstore at this link.

We are moving forward in our discussion with the Countway Library of Medicine in Boston, home to Reich’s Archives, to digitally preserve and catalog the collection and to make much of the material available online for scholars to access from anywhere in the world. Stabilizing the future of the Archives is an urgent goal at the moment, for which we have so far raised $22,000 of the needed $450,000—a good start, but only a start. (If you would like your donation to go to this purpose, please write "Archives Preservation Fund" in the memo section of your check.)

In addition, in 2019 the Orgone Energy Observatory will celebrate its 70th year. It’s a truly unique building architecturally and captures a lot of history. But as a result of its age, it is in need of significant structural renovation. The architectural assessment by a professional alone will cost $3,000-5,000.

Page from Reich’s lab notebook showing bion experiment work

Accomplishing these important tasks can only be done with your financial support. Reich’s work continues to depend on support from those who realize its importance. That has never been more true than today. Please consider donating. And please consider planned giving through a bequest in your will, or by signing up as a monthly_donor on our website. We cannot thank you enough for your continued support of Reich’s important legacy.

Dr. James Strick
Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust

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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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Progress in the Juvenile Justice System

Wilhelm Reich had personal experience with the American prison system when he was incarcerated at Ellis Island, New York, in 1941 – 1942; in Danbury, Connecticut, for twelve days in 1957; and finally in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he died in 1957. Upon release from his detention as a suspected “enemy alien” at Ellis Island from December 12, 1941, to January 5, 1942, Reich wrote about the emotional and physical misery that he suffered, saying that it “…undoubtedly affects the life apparatus like toxic poisoning. Rage must be curbed, crying suppressed, sexual excitation is displaced or very painfully endured. The life apparatus is subjected to an extreme exertion, to an energy stasis, which expresses itself in spasmodic shivering (trembling). The trembling goes out from the solar plexus” (1:225).

In 1957, during his final imprisonment at Lewisburg Penitentiary, he wrote about men and women being “railroaded into prisons” through “pranking up their environments.” (1:241). He felt he would not survive his sentence and he in fact died in the penitentiary.

Wilhelm Reich escorted to prison, March 1957

Currently there are about two million people, many of them juveniles, behind bars in the United States. The United States has the largest incarceration rate of any country in the world and, unfortunately, some of this mass incarceration rate reflects the problem of the “school to prison pipeline.” Prison conditions vary, with some prisoners enduring beatings and rape while some who are incarcerated for white collar crimes have better surroundings. About ten thousand children are housed in adult prisons where they are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted and more prone to suicide than children housed with other young people (2: 152). Some are in solitary confinement, which is considered to be one of the most difficult punishments to endure in prison, sometimes leading to suicide attempts (3: 442-443).

Wilhelm Reich strongly advocated emotional contact between children and caring, loving adults, recognizing the deep psychological damage that results without that closeness (4). Reich’s colleague, the highly respected educator, A. S. Neill, established the Summerhill School, basing it on the assumption that children, including children with behavioral problems, should be nourished rather than punished, and certainly not isolated socially or physically (5).

For many years, the American prison system has contradicted these principles by putting juveniles in solitary confinement. This practice has been labelled “torture” by human rights organizations. Numerous studies have found that solitary confinement causes serious psychological damage and physicians document negative medical consequences as well.

Although there are many negatives about the current patterns of incarceration, there has been progress on the issue of solitary confinement as it has been acknowledged and addressed by President Obama. On January 25, 2016, the president banned solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prison. (He also limited its use for adults.) Not only is this important for juveniles, but hopefully it will encourage a re-examination of this practice in all American jails and prisons. President Obama said “he hoped his reforms at the federal level will serve as a model for states to rethink their rules on the issue” (6).

Reich always argued for freedom for young people. In his book The Sexual Revolution, he noted the problems that juveniles face when they are put in the hands of the police, recognizing that some young people had been “psychically healthy and endowed with rational rebellion up to the moment they fell into the clutches of the police and the welfare authorities. From that moment on, they became psychopaths and were socially ostracized” (7:257). Although he was writing about conditions in the Soviet Union in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he understood that the system for handling juvenile crime was not solving the problem of juvenile delinquency.

There have been victories in the U.S. courts in the last few years for a more rational treatment of juveniles. Until 2005, juveniles could be given the death penalty, but in that year, the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the death penalty for juveniles (8). Until 2010, a child might commit a crime, be convicted, and even if rehabilitated while serving the sentence, not be allowed a hearing for parole. In essence, some juveniles were being condemned to die in prison. “In 2010 in Graham v. Florida, the court ruled that sentencing juvenile offenders to life without the possibility of parole was… unconstitutional, but only for crimes that did not involve killing” (8).

In 2012, the Supreme Court had ruled in Miller v Alabama “that automatic life sentences for juvenile offenders violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Life-without-parole sentences would remain permissible, the court said, but only after individualized consideration” (8). However, it was left to each state to decide whether to apply the ruling retroactively. In a January, 2016 decision regarding Montgomery v. Louisiana, the Supreme Court “ruled that its 2012 decision banning mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile killers must be applied retroactively, granting a new chance at release for hundreds of inmates serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for murders they committed in their youth” (8). This will provide the opportunity for juveniles who are incarcerated to prove that they can change, that they can be rehabilitated, and therefore could be freed from a life and death in prison.

Scientific research shows that the adolescent brain is not fully mature and often not capable of making the kinds of responsible decision that are expected of adults. Unfortunately, adolescent lack of judgment and foresight is compounded by the fact that many young people have troubled lives, growing up in poverty and drug-infested communities, with mental illness, cognitive disabilities, and inadequate parenting. Some make decisions with horrendous consequences for themselves and others. Reich argued for the rational treatment of juveniles who have gotten into trouble. These recent court decisions show progress in the right direction.


1. Reich, W.: Where’s the Truth, Letters and Journals, 1948-1957, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2012.

2. Stevenson, B.: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015

3. Kaba, F., Lewis, A., Glowa-Kollisch, S., Hadler, J., Lee, D., Alper, H., Selling, D., MacDonald, R. Solimo, A., Parsons, A. and Venters, H.: Solitary Confinement and Risk of Self Harm Among Jail Inmates, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 104, No. 3, 2014, pages 442- 447.

4. Reich, W.: Children of the Future: On the Prevention of Sexual Pathology, New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1983.

5. Neill, A. S.: Summerhill: A New View of Childhood, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.

6. Eilperin, J.: Obama Bans Solitary Confinement for Juveniles in Federal Prisons, The Washington Post, January 26, 2016.

7. Reich, W.: The Sexual Revolution: Toward a Self-Governing Character Structure, 3rd Edition, New York, Orgone Institute Press, 1945.

8. Piptak, A.: Justices Expand Parole Rights for Juveniles Sentenced to Life for Murder, The New York Times, January 26, 2016.

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The Future of Orgonomy

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

The essence of life as I have learned is change and one of the first things that struck me as I walked into this room today is that I recalled a time probably 30 or 40 years ago when we used to give speeches and talks about Orgonomy at NYU. Now I forget how frequently we did it whether it was once a week or once a month, I do remember that a room almost as large as this was filled, and I walk into this room and it’s hardly filled, and I think what the hell has happened. Why is this room not more full than they were in NYU? And the fact is that at that time Reich was hot and the village was full of Reich, Greenwich village that is. Intellectuals talked about Reich and that was a hot subject. And today Reich is spoken of by relatively few intellectuals. Very few people are applying to become therapists in the psychiatric orgone therapy and the scene is totally different. It doesn’t worry me particularly because I remember many years ago when the decline was already in progress and I had a speaking engagement in Montevideo and the opening session was held in a room not dissimilar to the academy of music with one balcony after another and on opening night the city hall was filled in Montevideo which was amazing to me, and as I have spoken to many places around the world I know that for example there is immense popularity of Reich in Finland and in Spain, so I think the fact that we are a few is simply a phase. One thing I think is that the praise of Dr. Strick’s book is going to start a little fuss and perhaps our numbers will increase again.

I want to talk about something that I can’t get out of my mind which is a book review written by the head of psychiatry at Columbia University called Shrink, and I had not yet read book I have only read the book review in the New York Times. The thesis of the book is that psychiatry is finally awakening from a time almost of stupor, he thinks that we spend a half a century listening to Freud who he thinks is full of empty talk and finally we have arrived at a time of scientific psychiatry that is medicine. Included in his review is a brief section on Reich who he includes in a section devoted to fakes, magicians, quacks and he describes Reichian therapy thus, “people put tubes around our throats and squeeze into orgone accumulators for various sensations.” Now that’s his description of psychiatric orgone therapy. It’s wild and it’s the fantasy of a sick adolescent and I can’t get it out of my mind. The fact that the head of psychiatry of Columbia University first of all had such a fantastic imagination to think that his description describes psychiatric orgone therapy but secondly to have the chutzpah to put Freud down who has awakened the lives and minds of people all over the world as easily as he does, can’t help but make me think of this guy standing at the judgement of Copernicus, or Galileo or Bruno and yelling “burn them! burn them!” Because that’s essentially the kind of character type who would write such a book. I think that’s all I’m going to say now.

To watch the video, please click on the link below

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Wilhelm Reich, Biologist.

Harvard University press recently released a catalogue copy of a new book written by James Strick, PhD on Reich&#39s bion experiments. The title of the book is Wilhelm Reich, biologist. This book is written on Reich&#39s bion experiments soon to be published by Harvard University press. The catalogue states:

Wilhelm Reich, Biologist
James E. Strick

Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) gained fame and notoriety in the course of an unusually adventurous career. Psychoanalyst, political theorist, pioneer of body therapies, prophet of the sexual revolution—all fitting titles, but Reich has never been recognized as a serious laboratory scientist, despite his experimentation with bioelectricity and unicellular organisms. Wilhelm Reich, Biologist is an eye-opening reappraisal of one of twentieth-century science&#39s most controversial figures. Refuting allegations of "pseudoscience" that have long dogged Reich&#39s research, James Strick argues that Reich&#39s lab experiments in the mid-1930s represented the cutting-edge of light microscopy and time-lapse micro-cinematography and deserve to be taken seriously as legitimate scientific contributions. Strick also sets Reich's work in the context of other 1930&#39s work on origin of life, such as Herrera, Oparin and others, including the influence of dialectical materialism.

Trained in medicine and a student of Sigmund Freud, Reich took to the laboratory in 1934 to determine if Freud&#39s concept of libido was a quantitatively measureable substance. His electrophysiological experiments confirmed Reich's concept of biological pulsation and his tension-charge formula. This work became the conceptual basis for experiments in which Reich discovered microscopic vesicles (he called these "bions"), which Reich hypothesized were transitional stages in originating life from nonliving matter. Studying Reich&#39 laboratory notes from recently opened archives, Strick offers a detailed account of the bion experiments, tracing how Reich eventually concluded he had discovered an unknown type of biological radiation he called "orgone." The bion experiments were foundational to Reich&#39s theory of cancer and later investigations of orgone energy.

Reich&#39s experimental findings and interpretations were considered discredited, but not because of shoddy lab technique, as has often been claimed. Scientific opposition to Reich&#39s experiments, Strick argues, was based largely on resistance to Reich&#39s unorthodox sexual theories and his Marxist political leanings.

This is an important book in introducing Dr. Reich&#39s biological experiments on living organisms. Mainstream biology and science never has given fair chance to replicating the experiments and never in an unbiased way considered his conclusions. In fact in the book The Function of the Orgasm, Reich quotes one of his close scientist helpers and colleagues, du Teil, stating "Scientific objectivity is not of this world. Indeed its existence is all together doubtful". In the same book Reich regarding to his own method of thought states, "A general hypothesis was derived from a series of clinical observations. There were gaps in it here and there; it was open to objections which appeared justified. One&#39s opponents seldom fail to ferret out such gaps and on the basis of them, to reject the hypothesis as a whole." Dr. Strick, himself a biologist and science historian, discusses Reich&#39s experiments and points out biased approaches to his scientific work by contemporary scientists.

James E. Strick
James E. Strick

Dr. Reich, in Function of Orgasm, states that his work as a psychiatrist and his research on human psychic function led him to series of discoveries that are all connected with each other. In the process of furthering and expanding Freud&#39s sexual theory—the libido theory, the theory of energy—Reich entered into the realm of biology. For those who are familiar with his theories and have worked on the clinical aspects of his psychiatric approach, the accuracy of his theories of human psychological structure is unquestionable and every treatment case is a testament to correctness of his theoretical understanding of the human psyche. Each and every scientific verification of his findings is another proof in the chain of experiments that demonstrates the correctness of his human psychological and physical functioning based on the concept of energy. Dr. Reich as a psychiatrist recognized the significance of human sexuality and the role of the function of the orgasm as a basic and central function. A function that is based on the principle of pulsation, charge and discharge of energy, constitutes a central importance in the organism. These discoveries led him into realm of biology and biophysics and his discoveries after that is related to his psychiatric theories. Dr. Reich in the book The Function of Orgasm states, "To most people it is a riddle that I can be active simultaneously in disciplines as different as depth psychology, sociology, physiology and now even biology"…. Then he continues "The subject of sexuality virtually cuts through all scientific fields of research. In its central phenomena, the sexual orgasm, we meet the questions driving from the fields of psychology as well as from the physiology from the field of biology no less than from the sociology. Natural science offers hardly another field of research that is so well equipped to exhibit the fundamental unity of everything that lives and guards against narrow, fragmentation specializations."

Dr. Reich in pursuing and furthering the libido theory of Freud recognized and discovered the pulsating nature of the life energy in every living organism and called it orgone energy. In The Function of Orgasm, Dr. Reich says, "In an unusual way the knowledge of the biological tension- charge function led me to the discovery of energy process in bions, in the human organism, and in the radiation of the sun."

"The bions are microscopic vesicles charged with orgone energy; they are developed from inorganic matter through heating and swelling. They propagate like bacteria. They also develop spontaneously in the earth or as in cancer, from decayed organic matter. My book, Die Bione, 1938 shows the importance of the tension-charge formula for the experimental investigation of the natural organization of living substance from nonliving matter."

As mentioned earlier, Reich&#39s theories of human psychic structure, its function, its development, and the discovery of bions and orgone energy are interrelated, constituting a chain of knowledge, each link reinforcing the entire field of Orgonomy.

The atrocities, violence, abuse, torture and murder; the disregard for all life, that we are witnessing today, and to which history has attested for millennia are all a consequence of the distortion of the human psyche stemming from a disturbance in the natural flow of energy with the natural charge and discharge function that a healthy organism is ordained to have. This disturbance is caused by the armoring of the human psyche. As students of Reich, it is our belief that as long as the psyche is distorted by armoring, no permanent peace will be achievable and will thus remain only a dream.

We congratulate Dr. Strick in his success; every discussion, introduction and publication focusing on Reich&#39s work is significant to the human race in every aspect of life.

Pre-order this book though Amazon: Wilhelm Reich, Biologist – Hardcover – April 1, 2015

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Weather Engineering in Contact with Space: Global Warming and the Planetary Emergency

Editor’s Note:

The following is an article that is written by Dr. Conny Huthsteiner and was published in Annals of Institute for Orgonomic Science, Volume 10 December 2005. Considering its importance and relevance to our climate changes, we decided to post it in our journal. This article was initially published in the Annals of the Institute for Orgonomic Science Volume 10. December 2005. Dr. Conny Huthsteiner and Annals editor both granted us the permission for this posting and we are grateful for this permission.
This article has several appendixes at the end which because of consideration of its size and volume we refer our readers to review it in the main published article in the Annals. The title of the appendixes is written at the end of this article.

Here is the article.

Wilhelm Reich’s (1897-1957) weather engineering research raises many questions to those interested in the veracity of his findings. His reported in great detail his procedures to influence weather events, both explaining the theoretical underpinning and describing specific weather engineering projects. He conducted a number of operations in New England, including an attempt to influence the course of Hurricane Edna in 1954.1 His largest project, an attempt to break the drought in the desert region of Arizona, is described in his book, Contact with Space.2


In this report I have compared Reich’s record of events, as described in Contact with Space, with official data from news agencies and government sources, to see where there might be discrepancies, and where they correspond. Reich often quoted radio and newspaper reports in his literature. In doing so, several things were accomplished. First, I could confirm that Reich was indeed reporting changes that were in fact documented by independent sources. These changes appear extremely significant, even given that fact that weather events are notoriously unpredictable.
Second, I could observe that weather changes occurred in Arizona after Reich’s departure that he no longer was aware of and did not even report, as he had to return to Maine to appear in court on contempt of court charges. Those weather events were also massive. Reich never claimed any credit for them. Their occurrence interrupted military maneuvers and probably caused significant concern.
I gained a sense of the political atmosphere of the time–McCarthyism was rampant, public opinion was broadly supportive of the bomb, and above-ground atom bomb tests were extremely frequent. I also saw how the local news media reported UFO sightings, which puts Reich’s UFO observations in their historical context. Although I do not discuss his UFO observations in depth, it is important to note what the tone of public discussion of UFO events was at that time. Detractors of Reich often have more “fuel for the fire” of ridicule when they hear of his interest in and observation of UFO activity. Even some of his closest coworker found this interest of Reich’s one that they could not share or understand. What is important to see is that during the specific years of 1954-1955 public discussion and news reporting of UFO observations were remarkably open and frequent.
Clearly, with the scientific community warning international leaders about the danger of global warming, the issue of weather modification in our time takes on particularly great significance. Reich foretold of the change in our atmosphere, and warned the spectators in court at his trial that there was a “planetary emergency.”3 He believed it would endanger the planet were he not allowed to continue with his research. In light of the information I am presenting, his warning was remarkably prescient. His death and political destruction is a tragedy that extends far beyond the death of a great man, since his knowledge and insight have essentially remained lost to the scientific community since that time.
I have included graphs of weather events for the months Reich was working in Arizona, to compare daily results gleaned from the local newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star, with daily events as he recorded them in Contact with Space (Appendix C). After he left Arizona, there are only weather records taken from the daily newspaper and governmental documents. For the months of April through August of 1955 I have transcribed sections of the daily paper to convey a fuller sense of the effects of the monsoon storms that hit Tucson that summer (Appendix D). I have also included a map of Arizona to aid with geographic orientation (Appendix E).
A time line of events for the years Reich was involved with weather engineering is provided (Appendix B) to help the reader keep historical events in focus, as many things were happening very quickly for Reich during this time. His research included many weather modification experiments before the move to Tucson, which were also significant and of historical interest. This article does not address those experiments, so I have not cited any sources. I have, however, compared most of those experiments with national weather data for the time and can confirm that the events he described took place, although one could argue whether or not his efforts influenced their occurrence. For the purpose of this paper I have restricted my discussion to events as described in Contact with Space.
A primer on the physics and execution of weather modification as described by Reich is also included (Appendix A). This primer may be of particular interest to readers who have not had access to the now-rare journals he published, as well as readers who are now to the field of orgonomy. Hopefully, it will provide insight into Reich’s understanding of the process of weather modification.
There was a bizarre congruence of events at this time. Operation Teapot, a series of aboveground A-bomb tests, was carried out in Yucca Flats, in the area northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada, during 1955, starting on February 18. Altogether at least 14 tests were conducted, taking place on February 18 and 22, March 1, 7,12,22,23, and two on the 29th, April 6, 9, and 15, and May 5 and 15. I have included documentation on what was thought to be the radioactive spread of these tests across the United States (Appendix F).4 Reich and his team were cloudbusting through the month of February and March, and sometimes saw and heard the tests taking place. Future articles will need to address the question created by these events: how have bomb tests and nuclear events affected weather in the past? What role do these events play in global warming? Have they created over time a massive hyperexcitation of the planetary orgone energy field, as Reich feared? Are the hyperexcitation and DOR-like transformation responsible for the warming, drought, and weather extremes we are presently experiencing? Are these weather extremes and storms– in the form of typhoons and hurricanes–an attempt of the atmosphere to cleanse itself and regain its balanced orgone energy charge and pulsatory function? One chart (Appendix F) that displays the distribution of radioactive iodine indicates that the Tucson area was only mildly affected by the Teapot Series, compared to other areas around it. Cloud this be a validation of Reich’s belief that ORURizing the atmosphere protects it against radioactive transformation?
Another striking congruence was Reich’s relationships with members of the President’s Advisory Commission on the Weather, which was formed in December of 1953. This federal commission under President Eisenhower established a research facility at the University of Arizona in Tucson for Atmospheric Physics and held a conference there in August 1954, a short time before Reich’s arrival. This center was the preeminent weather research facility in the country, at a time when Eisenhower was deeply interested in and committed to weather research. Dr. James McDonald, Associate Director of the facility and prominent meteorologist, later became a vocal spokesperson, on UFO phenomena for much of his career.5 Lewis Douglas, President of the South Arizona Bank and Trust Company–as well as a politically influential financier and Commission member–was in contact with Reich and assisted with his relocation to Tucson. The significance of these relationships may need to be addressed in future articles.

Tucson Weather: Validity and Significance of Changes

Reich spent November 1954 through March 1955 in Tucson, Arizona, embarking on intensive weather research to see if he could bring rain to a desert region. Since his first attempts at weather modification in 1953 he appeared to have had significant success influencing weather patterns in the Rangeley Lake region of Maine. At that time he was very concerned with UFO observations as well, and he addressed both subjects in the book, Contact with Space–often in diary form–giving daily readings for humidity, precipitation, wind conditions, etc.

Reich was extremely disciplined in his approach to collecting information for evaluation, emphasizing many points to reduce the possibility of error and deepen his capacity observation. He trained his co-workers to observe without preconceived notions and emphasized that one had to let observations force themselves upon the observer–they must return again and again. He tried to define the qualities of what needed to be measured. He routinely drove a certain daily route (80-100 miles) to become acquainted with the region, its vegetation, the details of its topography, and its landscape.
He emphasized and tried to be cognizant of the basic rule that there is relation between the observer and the observed, and an inevitable influence of sense impression and emotional structure of the observer on the observed.
He chose Tucson because the 25,000-year-old desert is 250-400 miles from the Pacific Ocean, at the southwest entrance of the galactic stream onto the continent. The galactic stream is an atmospheric orgone energy current that Reich believed flowed from the southwest to northeast.6 Tucson is location in a valley,and the surrounding mountains provided good observation points for Reich’s crew-especially Mt. Catalina, located to the northeast. The valley is open to the southwest, west, north, and northeast. It had not rained there from 1949-1954, was in fact suffering a drought, and the river beds had been dry for 50 years.7

Reich recorded weather data on almost a daily basis from November 1954 through March 1955, and there were a number of anomalous weather conditions during that time. The accompanying charts note how his records correlate with newspaper reports published in the Arizona Daily Star and governmental publications that report on weather events.
Reich’s approach to weather modification differed fundamentally from that of others working in the field, as he applied his understanding of the atmospheric orgone energy field to effect change. For those readers who are not familiar with orgone energy concepts and how weather engineering is theoretically understood, I refer you to the “Primer on Weather Engineering” (Appendix A). Reich emphasized repeatedly that he was not simply trying to “make it rain” in Arizona, but was trying to unblock the barriers to natural weather events in the region by drawing stagnant orgone energy from the atmosphere. By doing so he hoped to re-establish the natural flow of energy around the planet, thereby allowing rain cycles to seasonally occur.
Reich initially sought to increase the general humidity level for those months. He hoped to encourage plant growth enough to prepare the soil for later heavier rains, thereby minimizing erosion. Influencing humidity is a goal unique to ergonomic clord engineering. Weather engineering efforts traditionally focus primarily on cloudseeding and make no claim or effort to affect humidity. Cloudseeding involves weighing down clouds with chemical substances that encourage droplets of water to form and fall before they might otherwise do so. Cloudseeding can only cause rain to occur where clouds already exist. In places where the humidity is low, or no clouds are present, cloudseeding is a useless effort.

Events in Arizona

In Arizona, Reich focused on drawing energy into the direction of the galactic stream, which some researchers compare with the jet stream because they follow a similar path. He strove to draw moisture from the western or southwestern Pacific coast. He also considered fusing that with Atlantic moisture.8 Around the time Reich did his research, meteorologists thought that the Southwest’s rainfall originated in the Gulf of Mexico.9 Only many years later, in the 1970’s, did academic meteorologists conclude that the sources of tropical moisture were the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California-the regions Reich drew from.10
In November, Reich initially used the cloudbuster as designed and used in Maine, 11 although the response was slow compared to his experience on the East Coast. The DOR (Deadly ORgone energy, a form of orgone that Reich believed had been transmuted by the effects of radioactivity and stagnation so as to be drought-producing and life-inimical) levels in the desert were much higher than in Maine.
He believed the desert environment itself showed signs of protracted DOR exposure, so much so that any attempt at rain would only lead to massive erosion due to the incapacity of the environment to even begin to absorb moisture. The frequent sighting of UFO’s, which Reich referred to as “Ea’s” (Energy alphas) as well as the frequent above-ground mom bomb tests, created DOR levels that were very high. Reich thought it possible that the UFO’s were using the atmospheric orgone energy to motorize themselves and, in the process, transforming it to DOR.
In Contact with Space12 Reich describes the environment’s response to the first days of DOR-busting (his term for the process of drawing DOR out of the atmosphere with the use of a cloudbuster). In the first days of November the surrounding desert region, particularly Mount Catalina, reacted to DOR removal with greening-spreading toward Mount Catalina, climbing up the mountain slopes, extending slowly toward the north along the highway, and to the east and west. By December the greening was several inches to a foot deep, in a territory about 40 to 80 miles from Tucson with prevalence to the east and north. He noted that grass was growing deep where no grass had been before, where only barren sand had been for as long as people could remember. He noted that this occurred without a drop of rain. 13 The weather report in the local newspaper confirms there was no rain in November.
There is often a noticeable difference between humidity readings taken at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the airport south of Tucson, and the readings taken at noon and 5 p.m. in downtown Tucson at the University of Arizona weather station, both of which are reported by the newspaper.
At the University of Arizona, where the Institute of Atmospheric Physics had located its research center, readings are always higher by about 5 percentage points. I assume that Little Orgonon, Reich’s base camp, which lay even farther north of Tucson, might have had consistently higher humidity readings as well.
He noted on November 7 that moisture had risen from 15 percent to 65 percent relative humidity, 14 which was very high for that time of year in the region. Humidity levels in the desert were rarely above 15 percent in that era of drought. Reich noted strong cloud formation on November 9; the newspaper reported that on November 10 there were “unexpected gusts up to 30 mph … despite lightly overcast skies, humidity 6%.” On November 12, the weather bureau reported rain was corning to the west of Tucson, over Mexico, San Diego, and Los Angeles, corresponding with Reich’s efforts to draw orgone energy from the west. Rain seemed to fall all over the Southwest, including Mexico, California, and Utah, but not in Tucson.
Toward the middle of November Reich observed more UFO activity. Correspondingly, the humidity levels seemed to drop, and readings were in the high 20’s and 30’s until December 1, when they were up in the 40’s and 50’s. There continued to be clouds and increased humidity, but no rain. Reich observed very heavy DOR, with high Geiger-Mueller counts at the cloudbusters; one operator of the cloudbuster fell ill, presumably due to exposure to heavy amounts of DOR. The time needed for operating the cloudbuster was much greater than his team had experienced in Maine, where 30 minutes or an hour could profoundly influence weather conditions. In Arizona they let the cloudbuster open and operate the entire night, and still the atmosphere was droughty with only temporary improvements in humidity.
In December, Reich decided to have an ORUR needle delivered to Arizona to expedite the drawing process. The ORUR needle is a one-milligram radium needle that has been exposed to a stro ng orgone energy (OE) environment for an extended period of time; Reich found that the use of the needle worked to increase the drawing capacity of the cloudbuster significantly. After the needle was delivered in December, the change in the weather effects seemed to accelerate and to remain, despite what appeared to be persistently extreme DOR conditions. Temperatures dropped to record lows. Erratic winds occurred.
Humidity levels remained above 20 or 30 percent throughout the day, for more consecutive days. Reich had the sense that the change they were trying to accomplish would have been very difficult to achieve without the potentiating effects of the ORUR needle.
He did observe that while there was little actual rain in the southwest during November and December, there were very heavy rains in the northeast. He assumed this was due to the galactic stream picking up the moisture in its course toward the northeast.
January began with many days of continuous rain in the Tucson area, which Reich believed was a direct result of the use of the ORUR needle in cloudbusting. Extraordinarily high relative humidity values were reported for most of the month, both at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., as well as record levels of precipitation. Generally it was very cold with plenty of snow. There was a stretch of record cold days. The precipitation and heavy storms were also apparent in Mexico and southern California, where flooding resulted in highway closures. Rain was also hitting Texas 1and other southern states hard. Reich refers to the “Oranur rain” which he feels was induced by the strongly energetic draw made possible by the ORUR needle. The January weather chart shown in Appendix C includes notes from the February 2nd newspaper report, stating that January was a record record-breaking month for low temperatures and high precipitation. Interestingly, UFO sightings in Oregon were reported in the Arizona newspaper on January 29.
February was a striking month, not only because of the onset of above-ground A-bomb tests. I have wondered if there might have been bomb tests that have not been reported publicly by the government. Reich thought one had occurred on February 15, and the newspaper reported tests on the 18th and the 19th, but the official governmental report included a bomb test only on the 18th. Many days in February had comparatively high relative humidity values, both at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. More noticeably, the temperatures stayed extremely low, with a total of nine record-breaking low temperature days. Reich drew on the 15th and the 17th, and there was rainfall or snow in Tucson on the 17th. He held off from further work to allow the rodeo to take place without disturbance. However, there were two atom bomb tests on the 19th and 22nd. I assume because of them he chose to draw again on the 24th, and there were showers in Tucson on or around the 25th. This was despite high background radiation counts, and presumably more DOR, created by the above-ground atom bomb tests that had occurred.
March was an interesting month for many reasons. First, there were an unprecedented number of above-ground A-bomb tests taking place not far from where Reich and his team were working. Second, it was the month Reich believed they successfully broke the “atmospheric armoring,” that paralleled his medical/ psychiatric work with character armoring. He and his team moved west to Jacumba, in the California Sierras, where he thought there was a barrier to the flow of fresh orgone energy from the west. At that site he worked with the ORUR needle. They drew until they felt the gentle breeze or wind they associated with the initiation of a free flow of energy. His team worked several days in Jacumba and neighboring towns, which are in the western “Sahara,” a desert region drier than Tucson. When he returned to Tucson, Reich observed unusually high Geiger counts in open atmosphere, which dropped significantly during the evening hours. The high counts were observed for four to five days toward the end of March, in an atmosphere that was otherwise grey-blue, and pleasant.
Reich took this as an indication of having succeeded in his goal- to reestablish the natural rain cycles to the desert region. He felt the elevated Geiger counts were indicative of “atmospheric fever” that would result in a
cleaning out of the atmosphere, the same way a fever can be a sign of the body’s effort to combat and drive out infection. He saw the beginning formation of dust devils as an indication of the movement of DOR out of the region. These dust devils became much more apparent in April.
One might assume the elevated Geiger counts Reich reported were due to the A-bomb tests, but it is unclear whether Reich used Geiger counters that he had “soaked” in an orgone accumulator. He reported in other articles that Geiger counters so treated respond differently to the atmosphere and to nuclear radiation, and he used them to measure orgone energy activity. Perhaps more information regarding this aspect of the research will become available in the future.
The newspapers, while focusing on slightly different parameters, were basically consistent with Reich’s reports regarding rainfall and the A-bomb tests. His co-workers became ill on the day of an A-bomb test. From March 8-11, Reich noted the increasing wind and cloud buildup that coincided with newspaper reports of storms starting in San Diego and eventually extending to the southwest. Reich’s observations on March 20 were also confirmed by the newspaper reports. Reich did not note that there were unusually low temperatures throughout the month; but, in fact, historic lows were registered in March. Significant drops in temperature often accompanied cloudbusting work in Arizona. It seems Reich was unaware of this effect. I assume it can occur in places where significant DOR removal is taking place. DOR tends to create drought conditions with unbearable heat. Relative humidity values were well above 25 percent for most of the month, which was consistent with Reich’s goal to increase the humidity-a reflection of increased fresh orgone energy in the atmosphere. The newspapers wrote on March 19 and 26 that dust occurred the days prior with wind on most of the days between. These were the beginning signs of the dust devils previously mentioned. Reich believed the dust devils formed when the healthy OE tried to move out the unhealthy DOR ahead of it-a sign of the atmosphere’s attempt to heal itself.
From my reading of Contact with Space, I suspect that Reich left a permanent weather station in Jacumba, which operated continuously, helping to keep the energy moving eastward from the Pacific Ocean. “I concluded our operations on March 24th, 1955. We established a base at Jacumba, equipped with two Cloudbusters, a truck and sufficient laboratory equipment. We wound up our affairs during April and started on the way homeward to Orgonon again at the end of April, 1955.” 15
He still was not attempting to “create rain” specifically but, rather, to unblock the flow of energy in the atmosphere. Reich did not report on weather conditions in Arizona after his departure.

After Reich Left Arizona

Based on the newspaper accounts, April was characterized by many dust storms, severe windstorms, low temperatures, dust devils ripping off roofs, freak blizzards in Texas and New Mexico, frequently overcast conditions without rain, and some of the worst dust storms seen in Colorado, Texas, and northeast New Mexico since 1935. A Pacific cold front was noted to be approaching. I have charted newspaper weather highlights and statistics from April, May, and June (Appendix D).
In May there were cool winds and some flash floods in surrounding states. It was frequently overcast with no rainfall. There were record low temperatures and it was very windy. The average temperature was 71.8 degrees, 1.3 times lower than normal. Temperatures rose in June, with several days of record heat and at least one day of record cold. Tucson experienced freak thunderstorms and rain. Certain regions reported record rainfall, as well as hailstorms and tornado strength winds. Remarkably large temperature spans were reported for many days in June, with high and low temperatures differing from 37 to 41 degrees for seven or eight of those days.
This trend continued in July, with record highs and lows, the most extreme on the 8th with a high of 108 and a low of 60, a difference of 48 degrees. This extreme variability in temperature is consistent with weather changes characteristic of “global warming.” It is interesting to note that temperatures overall were abnormally low. Also noteworthy was the funnel-like wind formation that never hit the ground. High winds and heavy rains started on the 11th. Monsoons started on the 13th, bringing 5-6 inches of rain in one day, with hail and a massive dust storm followed by rain. High humidity and high temperatures were reported on the 19th. Several highways were flooded and roads washed out.
August was a month to remember: lightning, floods, trees blocking roads, hail, hurricane winds, dust devils, roofs ripped off the top of the University of Arizona weather station and the hospital-what more could happen? It was monsoon season with a bang! Most interesting, however, is the climatological data provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which notes that the record rainfall actually hit Tucson the hardest. One cannot help but wonder if these events were the result of Reich’s weather modification efforts, focused on Tucson-or was it just a coincidence?


Statistical significance of local weather events is extremely difficult if not impossible to determine, given the great variability of a multitude of factors involved. That being said, extreme abnormalities were apparent in temperature, humidity, wind, and various forms of precipitation during and following Reich’s stay in Arizona. Additionally there was a significant “aggressiveness” to the storms. Monsoon rains are inherently more aggressive than other weather events; however, local observers found the rainstorms throughout this period to be remarkable in their intensity. The rainfall recorded in the first four months after Reich left Arizona (May, June, July, and August of 1955) was the heaviest since the 1800’s. The monsoon storms that occurred in July and August are not mentioned in Contact with Space. I assume Reich was not aware of them, as he was facing increasing stress from court proceedings. The total rainfall for 1955 was the second highest in the history of Tucson weather, recorded since 1895 (the third highest rainfall was recorded in 2003). 16
Monsoon rains are typical for the Arizona desert region, so given that Reich was trying to bring the “natural rain cycles” to the desert, it appears he was successful since these were the heaviest monsoon rains seen in more than 100 years. Additionally, extreme precipitation events occurred in Mexico and extended over the entire Southwest. These events did not go unnoticed-in fact, Tucson was declared a national disaster area and the military was called in for assistance because the floods that occurred were so severe.
The severe precipitation of 1955 came in the middle of a climactic drought phase in Arizona that lasted from 1947-1977. Modern meteorology ascribes this drought to a phenomenon called “negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation,” in which ocean temperatures affect general climate conditions. This is a weather phenomenon only recently recognized and not yet well understood by meteorologists. 1947 was the second driest year on record, and 1953 the third driest. Clearly, the drought that preceded 1955 was itself historically significant. Nonetheless, 1955 was the third wettest year, with a record rainfall of 15.90 inches. 17 Also noteworthy is the fact that the drought, which was expected to last 20-30 years, picked up again and continued in its “cycle” until its conclusion.
Again, although significance is hard to determine, Tucson reported an extraordinary number of days with record low temperatures in 1955-three in January, ten in February, two in March, one in April, three in May, four in June, three in July, and two in August. 18 In other words, 28 out of 365 record low temperatures were reported in 1955, primarily in the months Reich was actively working to influence weather conditions . I find this interesting, although its significance is still unclear. However, temperature extremes are more likely to occur with global warming.
Also, record humidity levels were maintained in the region, which was Reich’s primary goal. Humidity summaries are not commonly included in newspaper reports, and there appeared to be a consistent variability in humidity readings specific to the location in which they were taken. It is certainly of value to be able to induce increased humidity, particularly if it leads to enhanced seed sprouting, or protozoal life development, which Reich believed he observed.
I have speculated that the DOR conditions Reich observed in Arizona were possibly a precursor to the widespread atmospheric degradation we are currently experiencing on a planetary level. At the time, he thought this degradation was taking place and sought to “warn officials” of the potential crisis. Of course, at the time he was thought to be extraordinarily irrational in his thinking in this regard, even by those who otherwise supported his scientific inquiries.
Erik Pytlak, meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Tucson, spoke with me by telephone. He reported there was a legend about a man who manipulated the weather in 1955 -a year that was characterized by a neutral El Niño and La Niño, and a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation, conditions which would normally create weather that was dry. Mr. Pytlak confirmed that 1955 was an extremely anomalous year, one that meteorologists “normally observe every 25-50 years to occur spontaneously.” This seems to be a remarkable coincidence, even without statistical evaluation.
Despite the flooding that occurred, it was reported that the increased rainfall generally had a positive effect on the economy since there was such a tremendous increase in grazing. The Arizona Star reported on September 2, 1955: “Crops appeared to be approaching last year’s record yield-damage not as bad as expected,” and on September 18, 1955: “Arizona’s economy generally derived tremendous benefit from near record July and August rainfalls this year, according to Louis R. Jurwitz, meteorologist in charge of the state’s weather center here. The average rainfall in the state during the two months was 6.70 inches. This figure has been exceeded only twice in 60 years. Once in 1919, when state average was 8.04 in., and once in 1921, when average was 8.40 inches.”

Discussion: Modern Meteorological Understanding and Global Warming in Light of Reich’s Research

If we take the U.S. Sahara as an example of what can occur if global warming continues, it is important to observe the process that took place in 1954-1955. It could serve to clarify some issues.
Reich was not the only scientist to approach the atmosphere from a “healer’s perspective.” Dr. Ben Santer, a key researcher in the field of global warming today, also “likens his approach to that of a doctor looking for the telltale diagnostic pattern of a specific illness to explain a general rise in body temperature.” 19
Certainly, it is well known that weather and air quality affect emotional, physical, and mental health in a multitude of ways, including increased arthritic joint pain with humidity, seasonal affective disorder, asthma, and skin cancer rates-the list is long. It is common for us to speak about the feelings we have in particular “atmospheres,” in which we experience a sense of well-being or lack thereof. Why should we not approach the atmosphere as if it were also ruled by laws of biological function, and seek a way to heal what has clearly been damaged? Political arguments abound as to the etiology of the damage. Ultimately, what matters most is to find solutions.

Does the atmosphere strive for “self-regulation” or self-repair, as do all other biological organisms? If so, some of the qualities we experience with global warming might be the “fever” of the organism trying to heal. Noteworthy weather phenomena that occurred in Tucson that recall the “symptoms” of global warming include: extreme variability in temperatures from one day to the next; frequent spreads of temperature difference on one day; extreme temperature lows; increased intensity and frequency of wind and wind storms; ultimate increased precipitation and normalization of extreme drought conditions via violent rainstorms. Possibly we can take this experience in the desert and conclude that increased wind activity and temperature lows might be signs of the natural process of atmospheric self-repair and regulation at work in a situation where the atmosphere has become desert-like.

An abundance of research has been conducted and data collected in atmospheric sciences since Reich’s death. We know in great detail the qualities of different strata of our atmosphere. We can measure a variety of variables, plug them into computer models that attempt to describe potential weather events, and come out with projected forecasts. Without getting into an extensive discussion of modern concepts of weather functions and how they compare to Reich’s concepts, I would like to discuss some observations I made while reading The Change in the Weather: People, Weather and the Science of Climate, by William K. Stevens, Science Editor at The New York Times. The author offers a well-written summary of the history and science of the climate change we call “global warming” and the history of the theoretical and research development in meteorology- particularly since the 1950’s.

I was struck by the fact that the author described weather in terms that were similar to Reich’s concepts; for example, “sometimes high pressure systems remain in place for days or weeks. These ‘blocking highs’ … can wreak damage by allowing too much or too little precipitation … one such gridlock in the skies was responsible for the flood of l993.”20The author presumably uses language that is common in meteorological circles, inasmuch as it is descriptive of phenomena, but clearly the origin of the “blocks” of high pressure systems is not understood. Reich used the cloudbusters to eliminate the “blocks,” which he considered barriers to the free flow of orgone energy in the atmosphere. He felt that a change in the quality of orgone would render it susceptible to such blocking. Also, a physical barrier such as a mountain range would have an influence on the free flow of energy.

Mr. Stevens also writes, ” … a number of periodic climate changes interact with seasonal changes. A few variations have been identified. They all involve oscillations between alternative semistable climactic states that combine to make the atmosphere pulsate to perpetually interacting rhythms.”21 Mr. Stevens sounds somewhat poetic as he describes what Reich tried in vain to express to the larger scientific community-that the atmospheric pulsations he measured with oscilloscopes, pendulums, and Geiger counters were manifestations of orgone energy. Reich’s ideas were disregarded during his lifetime. He described this pulsation as a basic quality of orgone energy, and characteristic to all living systems as well as to the atmosphere at large. Since orgone penetrates all things, like ether, it can be extrapolated that all things, including our atmosphere, are part of the “living” or, at least, infused with orgone energy. Reich perceived this pulsatory quality in our atmosphere and concluded that its free movement was indicative of healthy atmospheric states.

Mr. Stevens reports that computer models of the atmosphere that try to calculate climactic changes by integrating as many influencing factors as possible, have grids that span 150 miles horizontally and one-half mile vertically. This “resolution” is twice as detailed as it was a decade ago, but still misses many processes that take place between grid points, such as cloud formation. 22 He writes, “How well do the simulations made by general circulation models match up with the real world? The answer is, pretty well on the largest planetary scales but not at all well when one gets down to the regional scale and poorly to not at all on finer regional details.”23 This is quite different from Reich’s research, which allowed him to evaluate, predict, and influence local events. Reich understood these local events in the context of the larger planetary streams, and his ability to make this connection was unique.

Skeptics might question how it is possible for a device as small as a cloudbuster to influence weather patterns over apparently such broad areas. This seems less “incredible” if one considers what happens to the flat surface of a piece of cloth if one catches and pulls one string out of its middle. If orgone exists as a “field of relatedness,” this would make sense. The inexorable interrelatedness of all things is an assumption we rarely consider in physics but are more aware of in biology and psychiatry, since living systems exist in complex interwoven relationships to their physical surroundings and each other. One can also consider the butterfly effect, described as “the sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” which is the essence of chaos theory as identified by Lorenz in 1963. It also describes how broadly spaced meteorological events can theoretically be influenced by a very small event in one location. In light of this theory, even a device as localized as a cloudbuster could have considerable impact.

Reich was revolutionary in his holistic understanding of the body, intellect, and emotions in the field of medicine. His ability to understand our physical world in terms of life and the living was unique. Unfortunately, his discoveries were discarded and the knowledge he could have offered has remained obscured and, in some cases, has been lost. This detailed analysis of his weather engineering efforts in Arizona would suggest that a re-evaluation of his work could be invaluable for maintaining the atmospheric health of the planet. In his time, as in ours, abuse of weather modification efforts is always a possibility, with its associated dangers.24 Even without malicious intent, a poorly planned or unsuccessful episode of weather engineering can create enormous damage to life and property, and have repercussions of gravest significance.

Reich took his research seriously, with a profound sense of responsibility for whatever effects he could have influenced. I hope this information can serve researchers by introducing them to atmospheric orgone energy and inspiring them to examine how this concept can be applied in practical ways-to heal what has been damaged.

List of Appendexis:(Please refer to Annals of the institute for orgonomic science – Volume 10).

Appendix A: A Primer on Weather Engineering
Appendix B: Time Line of Events
Appendix C: Reich’s Experiments
Appendix D: Newspaper Weather Reports
Appendix E: Map of Arizona
Appendix F: Per Capita Thyroid Doses for the Population of East County, Test Series: Teapot (1955)

1Reich, W.: “OROP Hurricane Edna,” CORE, Vol. 7, Nos. 1-2, 1955, p84.

2Reich, W.: Contact with Space, New York, Core Pilot Press, 1957.

3Greenfield, I.: Wilhem Reich vs. the U.S.A., New York, W.W. Norton Company, 1974.


5See Obituary of James E. McDonald, Bulletin American Meteorological Society, 1971, p 735. Available at http://ncas.sawco.com/mccarthy/orbit.html

6For a comprehensive explanation of how Reich came upon the concept of the galactic stream please see: Reich, W.: Cosmic Superimposition, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1951, Chapter 7.

7Reich, W.: Contact with Space, Orgone Energy Press, 1955, p 132..

8Ibid., p 162.

9Bryson, R.A. and Lowry, W.P.: “The Synoptic Climatology of the Arizona Summer Precipitation Singularity,” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 36, Sept. 1955, pp 329-339.

10Hales, J.E., Jr. , “Surges of Maritime Tropical Air Northward Over the Gulf of California,” Weather Review, Vol. 100, April 1972, pp 298-306; “Southwestern United States Summer Monsoon Source, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean,” Journal of Applied Meteorology, Vol. 13, April 1974, pp 331-342.

11See Appendix A, “Primer on Weather Engineering,” for a detailed explanation of the function of the cloudbuster.

12Reich, W.: Contact with Space, Orgone Energy Press, 1955, p 158.

13Ibid., pp 158-159.

14Ibid., p 161.

15Ibid., p 259.

16National Weather Service Forecast Office, Tucson, Az.

17Smith, B.: Arizona Daily Wildcat, Feb. 15, 2000. wildcat.arizona.edu/papers/93/98/0 1_ 4 m.html.

18Data for Tucson, Az taken from Davis/ Monthan AFB. www.weather.com/activities/other.

19Stevens, W. K.: The Change in the Weather: People, Weather and the Science of Climate, Dell Publishing, New York, NY, 1999, p 223.

20Ibid., p 107.

21Ibid., p 113.

22Ibid., p 210.

23Ibid., p 212.

24“The Convention on the Prohibition of Military or any other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques” was signed by the U.N. General Assembly in Geneva in 1977, and ratified by the U.S. President in 1979. An August 1996 report of the Air Force on weather modification, “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025,” can be seen at www.au.f.mil/au/2025/volume3/chap15/v3c15-l.htm.

Posted in Orgone BiophysicsComments (0)

Sex Politics

In the orgonomy literature, specifically literature that has been written by Dr. Wilhelm Reich, we come across  the term “sex politics”.

Sexual oppression and authoritarian systems, according to orgonomic theories, are two inseparable entities and one can not exist without the other. Fascistic and dictatorial regimes therefore would not exist without the sexual oppression of the masses and without the anti-sexual upbringing of children and adolescents. Hence the political movements that revolve around sexual freedom gains significance in establishing democracy in society and in orgonomic literature is called sex politics. All oppressive regimes must also sexually oppress  the masses, otherwise they would not survive.  A generation that grows without the denial of embracing love and by the inclusion of sexual satisfaction in their lives, will grow healthy and will not submit to authoritarian fascistic regimes. Recent history witnesses such sex political movements in Europe and USA.  These movements are spreading to different corners of the world and continue to be met with reactionary forces that are harshly fighting to suppress them.

Today we see political movements and political struggles for freedom and democracy parallel with the struggle for sexual liberation.  This matter has been well described in The Sexual Revolution written by Dr. Wilhelm Reich some seventy years ago.  Although other books of Dr. Wilhelm Reich also reflect aspects of the political struggle for sexual freedom, it is described most extensively in the book The Sexual Revolution.

Dr. Reich in The Sexual Revolution describes sex politics by giving many examples. Here we will use one example given by Dr. Wilhelm Reich.  Although some 70 years have passed from the initial publication of the first edition of this book, similar events are present today around the world, of course far more viciously wherever dictatorship is ravaging.  In this book, Dr. Reich under the topic of revolutionary youth states the following:

Courtesy of the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust:


“In the Russo-Turkish republic of Azerbaijan the revolution had claimed an enormous number of victims.  It is true that the laws were changed by the revolution, that the economic foundation was restructured, that religion had been declared a private matter of the individual, but ‘under the newly built roofs, the old cruel discipline of the harem was still raging.‘   Girls were sent to religious institutions; they were forbidden to learn how to read and write, for a literate girl might establish contact with the outside world by writing a letter, she might escape from the institution, and bring disgrace down on her family.  Girls were their fathers’ serfs.  When they were sexually mature, they became serfs of their husbands, who  they were not allowed to select themselves, whom they had never even seen prior to marriage.  Women and girls were not allowed to show their faces to a man; fully veiled, they looked through the window on to the street. They were carefully guarded on the rare occasions when they were allowed to go outside. they were not allowed to work any more than they were permitted to read a book or a newspaper. It is true that they were legally entitled to divorce, but they did not know it. Although the knout had disappeared from Russian jails, women in the harem were still being beaten. These women had to give birth unaided because there were no midwives or women physicians, and to show oneself to a male doctor was forbidden by their religion, which they practiced in secrecy.

In the middle of the 1920’s, Russian women founded a central women’s club which organized education. Gradually, education spread.  The schoolrooms became crowded and girls listened to white-haired teachers (young men were not permitted to teach). Thus, many years after the outbreak of the social revolution, the “revolution of mores” began. These girls learned that there were countries with a coeducational system where women engaged in sports, went to the theater unveiled, attended meetings and took an active role in them, and generally participated in the life of their time.

This sex-political movement became widespread. Fathers, brothers, and husbands felt their interests were threatened when they learned what was being discussed in the women’s club. They circulated the rumor that the club was a whorehouse. As a result, it became dangerous to visit it. According to a report by Balder Olden, girls who attended had been scalded with hot water and had dogs set on them. Even in 1923, girls who wore sports shirts that exposed arms and legs risked death. Hence it is understandable that even the idea of a love relationship outside of marriage was far from the thoughts of even the most courageous women. In spite of all, there were many girls who, within themselves, had broken with tradition and were determined to take up the fight for the sexual liberation of young women.  They were exposed to incredible martyrdom. They were of course immediately recognized; public opinion considered them lower than prostitutes, and none of them could ever expect that a man would marry her.

In 1928, the twenty-year-old Sarila Haliliva ran away from home, called meetings, and proclaimed the sexual emancipation of women.  She went unveiled to the theater; she addressed  the women in the clubs; she walked around in a bathing suit at the beach and in sports arenas.  Her father and brothers held court over her, condemned her to death, and cut her up alive.  This happened in 1928, eleven years after the outbreak of the social revolution. Her murder provoked a tremendous upsurge of the sex-political movement among women.  Her body was taken away from her parents and was placed in the club, where an honor guard of boys and girls guarded it day and night. Girls and women streamed in droves to the club.  Sarila’s murders were executed, and since then neither fathers nor brothers have dared to take similar measures against women’s and youth movements.

Balder Olden describes these events as a general cultural movement. More concretely, it was unquestionably a sex-political upheaval which, for the first time, stimulated the cultural consciousness of women and girls.  By 1933, 1,044 girls were studying at the university; there were 300 midwives as well as 150 women’s and girls’ clubs, which produced many writers and journalists.  The chairman of the Supreme Court was a woman; another woman presided over a Soviet commission.  Women were trained as engineers, doctors and airplane pilots. Revolutionary youth had won it’s right to live.”


Sex political movements are important political movements that inevitably leads to democracy in society and physical and emotional health in individual. From our point of view, from orgonomic point of view, these political movements should be supported by all who prefer democracy over dictatorship and health over sickness.

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Be part of the progress. Help to preserve and promote Wilhelm Reich’s legacy and his infant trust fund, the best and only hope for peace, health and prosperity of human race. Make financial contributions to promote orgonomy and its institutions. All contributions are tax deductible.

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