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Wilhelm Reich

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Wilhelm Reich

Wilhelm Reich
Reich in his mid-20s
Pronunciation English ; German
Born (1897-03-24)24 March 1897
Dobzau, Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine)
Died 3 November 1957(1957-11-03) (aged 60)
United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, United States
Cause of death Heart failure
Resting place Rangeley, Maine, United States
Nationality Austrian
Education M.D. (1922), University of Vienna
  • Annie Reich, née Pink (m. 1922–1933)
  • Elsa Lindenberg (1932–1939)
  • Ilse Ollendorf (m. 1946–1951)
  • Aurora Karrer (1955–1957)
  • Eva Reich (1924–2008)
  • Lore Reich Rubin (b. 1928)
  • Peter Reich (b. 1944)
  • Leon Reich (father)
  • Cecilia Roniger (mother)
Relatives Robert Reich (brother)
Medical career
  • Psychoanalysis
  • neuropsychiatry
Notable works

Wilhelm Reich (24 March 1897 – 3 November 1957) was an Austrian psychoanalyst. Author of several influential books – most notably Character Analysis (1933), The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933) and The Sexual Revolution (1936) – Reich became known as one of the most radical practitioners of psychiatry.[1][n 1]

Reich's idea of "muscular armour" – the expression of the personality in the way the body moves – influenced innovations such as body psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, bioenergetic analysis and primal therapy.[5] His writing influenced generations of intellectuals; he invented the phrase "the sexual revolution".[6] During the 1968 student uprisings in Paris and Berlin, students scrawled his name on walls and threw copies of The Mass Psychology of Fascism at police.[7]

After graduating in medicine from the [9]

From the 1930s, he became increasingly controversial; from 1932 until his death in 1957 all his work was self-published. His teaching of sexual liberation disturbed the psychoanalytic community and his political associates, and his Woody Allen's Sleeper (1973).

Bob Dylan's "Joey" from Desire (1975), the eponymous gangster spends his time in prison reading Nietzsche and Reich. Reich is also a character in the opera Marilyn (1980) by Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero.[179]

  • Baker, Elsworth F. (1967). Man In The Trap. Macmillan.
  • Corrington, Robert S. (2003). Wilhelm Reich: Psychoanalyst and Radical Naturalist. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Chesser, Eustice (1972). Reich and Sexual Freedom. Vision Press.
  • Chesser, Eustice (1973). Salvation Through Sex: The Life and Work of Wilhelm Reich. W. Morrow.
  • Dadoun, Roger (1975). Cent Fleurs pour Wilhelm Reich. Payot.
  • De Marchi, Luigi (1973). Wilhelm Reich, biographie d'une idée. Fayard.
  • Gebauer, Rainer and Müschenich, Stefan (1987). Der Reichische Orgonakkumulator. Frankfurt/Main: Nexus Verlag.
  • Greenfield, Jerome (1974). Wilhelm Reich Vs. the U.S.A.. W.W. Norton.
  • Herskowitz, Morton (1998). Emotional Armoring: An Introduction to Psychiatric Orgone Therapy. Transactions Press.
  • Johler, Birgit (2008). Wilhelm Reich Revisited. Turia & Kant.
  • Kavouras, Jorgos (2005). Heilen mit Orgonenergie: Die Medizinische Orgonomie. Turm Verlag.
  • Kornbichler, Thomas (2006). Flucht nach Amerika: Emigration der Psychotherapeuten: Richard Huelsenbeck, Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm. Kreuz.
  • Lassek, Heiko (1997). Orgon-Therapie: Heilen mit der reinen Lebensenergie. Scherz Verlag.
  • Mairowitz, D. & Gonzales, G. (1986). Reich For Beginners. Writers & Readers.
  • Makavejev, Dusan (1972). WR Mysteries of the Organism. Avon Publishers.
  • Mann, Edward (1973). Orgone. Reich And Eros: Wilhelm Reich's Theory Of The Life Energy. Simon & Schuster.
  • Mann, Edward & Hoffman, Edward (ed.) (1980). The Man Who Dreamed Of Tomorrow: A Conceptual Biography Of Wilhelm Reich. J.P. Tarcher.
  • Martin, Jim (2000). Wilhelm Reich and the Cold War. Flatland Books.
  • Meyerowitz, Jacob (1994). Before the Beginning of Time. Rrp Publishers.
  • Mulisch, Harry (1973). Het seksuele bolwerk. De Bezige Bij.
  • Ollendorff, Ilse. (1969). Wilhelm Reich: A Personal Biography. St. Martin's Press.
  • Ritter, Paul (ed.) (1958). Wilhelm Reich Memorial Volume. Ritter Press.
  • Robinson, Paul (1990). The Freudian Left: Wilhelm Reich, Geza Roheim, Herbert Marcuse. Cornell University Press, first published 1969.
  • Rycroft, Charles (1971). Reich. Fontana Modern Masters.
  • Seelow, David (2005). Radical Modernism and Sexuality : Freud, Reich, D.H. Lawrence and Beyond. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Senf, Bernd (1996). Die Wiederentdeckung des Lebendigen (The Rediscovery of the Living). Zweitausendeins Verlag.
  • Sharaf, Myron (1994). Fury on Earth: A Biography of Wilhelm Reich. Da Capo Press; first published by St. Martin's Press, 1983.
  • Sinelnikoff, Constantin (1970). L'Oeuvre de Wilhelm Reich. François Maspero.
  • Strick, James E. (2015). Wilhelm Reich, Biologist, Harvard University Press.
  • Turner, Christopher (2011). Adventures in the Orgasmatron. HarperCollins.
  • Wilson, Robert Anton (1998). Wilhelm Reich in Hell. Aires Press.
  • Wilson, Colin (1981). The Quest for Wilhelm Reich. Doubleday.
  • Wright, Paki (2002). The All Souls' Waiting Room. 1st Book Library (novel).
  • Wyckoff, James (1973). Wilhelm Reich: Life Force Explorer. Fawcett.
Books about Reich
  • Brian, Denis (1996). Einstein: A Life, John Wiley & Sons, pp. 326–327.
  • Clark, Ronald W. (1971). Einstein: The Life and Times, Avon, pp. 689–690.
  • Correa, Paul N.; Correa, Alexandra N. (October 2010). "The Reproducible Thermal Anomaly of the Reich-Einstein Experiment under Limit Conditions," Journal of Aetherometric Research, 2(6), pp. 25–31.
  • Reich, Wilhelm (ed.) (1953). The Einstein Affair, Orgone Institute Press.
Einstein experiments
  • "Biography of Wilhelm Reich" and "Last Will & Testament of Wilhelm Reich", Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust.
  • "Mikrofilm-Bestand der Staatsbibliotheken in Berlin, München und Bremen aus dem Nachlaß Wilhelm Reichs" (Wilhelm Reich archive on microfilm, from the private archive of Dr. Eva Reich).
  • "Material published by Dr. Wilhelm Reich," Firestone Library, Princeton University (microfilm from Eva Reich).
  • "Man's Right to Know", documentary on Reich, Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust.
  • Recording of Reich speaking, Orgonon, 3 April 1952.
  • Dabelstein, Nicolas, and Svoboda, Antonin (2009). Wer Hat Angst vor Wilhelm Reich? ("Who's Afraid of Wilhelm Reich?"), documentary, Coop99, Austrian television (IMDb entry).
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Dr. Wilhelm Reich" (also see here).
  • The Journal of Orgonomy, The American College of Orgonomy.
  • The Journal of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy.
  • Folder of the FBI about Wilhelm Reich
External links

Further reading

Abrahams, Ian. Hawkwind: Sonic Assassins, SAF Publishing Ltd, 2004.
Bauer, Henry H. (2000). "Wilhelm Reich," in Science or Pseudoscience?, University of Illinois Press.
Blumenfeld, Robert (2006). "Wilhelm Reich and Character Analysis", Tools and Techniques for Character Interpretation. Limelight Editions.
Bocian, Bernd. Fritz Perls in Berlin 1893–1933, Peter Hammer Verlag GmbH, 2010.
Brady, Mildred Edie (April 1947). "The New Cult of Sex and Anarchy", Harper's.
Brady, Mildred Edie (26 May 1947). "The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich", The New Republic.
Brian, Denis (1996). Einstein: A Life, John Wiley & Sons.
Bugental, James F. T., Schneider, Kirk J. and Pierson, J. Fraser (2001). The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology, Sage.
Cooper, Kim (26 September 2011). "Very Different Tonight: The Contagious Nightmares of Wilhelm Reich", Post45.
Cordon, Luis A. (2012). "Reich, Wilhelm" in Freud's World: An Encyclopedia of His Life and Times, Greenwood, pp. 405–424.
Corrington, Robert S. (2003). Wilhelm Reich: Psychoanalyst and Radical Naturalist, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Danto, Elizabeth Ann (2007). Freud's Free Clinics: Psychoanalysis & Social Justice, 1918–1938, Columbia University Press, first published 2005.
DeMarco, Donald and Wiker, Benjamin D. (2004). "Wilhelm Reich", Architects of the Culture of Death, Ignatius Press.
Edwards, Paul (1977). "The Greatness of Wilhelm Reich," The Humanist, March/April 1974, reprinted in Charles A. Garfield (ed.) (1977). Rediscovery of the Body. A Psychosomatic View of Life and Death, Dell, pp. 41–50.
Elkind, David (18 April 1971). "Wilhelm Reich -- The Psychoanalyst as Revolutionary; Wilhelm Reich", The New York Times.
Encyclopaedia Britannica (2012). "Wilhelm Reich".
Foucault, Michel (1978). The History of Sexuality, Volume 1, Vintage Books.
Freud, Sigmund (1928). "Letter from Freud to Lou Andreas-Salomé, May 9, 1928" in Ernest Jones (ed.), The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 89, pp. 174–175.
Greenberg, Leslie S. and Safran, Jeremy D. (1990). Emotion in Psychotherapy, Guilford Press.
Grossinger, Richard (1982). "Wilhelm Reich: From Character Analysis to Cosmic Eros", Planet Medicine: From Stone Age Shamanism to Post-industrial Healing, Taylor & Francis.
Guntrip, Harry (1961). Personality Structure and Human Interaction, Hogarth Press.
Isaacs, Kenneth S. (1999). "Searching for Science in Psychoanalysis", Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 29(3), pp. 235–252.
Karina, Lilina and Kant, Marion (2004). Hitler's Dancers: German Modern Dance And The Third Reich, Berghahn Books.
Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (4 January 1971). "Back Into the Old Orgone Box", The New York Times.
MacBean, James Roy (1972). "Sex and Politics: Wilhelm Reich, World Revolution, and Makavejev's WR", Film Quarterly, 25(3), Spring, pp. 2–13.
Moy, Ron (2007). Kate Bush and Hounds of Love, Ashgate Publishing.
Murphy, James M. (4 January 2012). "The man who started the sexual revolution", The Times Literary Supplement.
Reich, Peter (1973). A Book Of Dreams, Harper & Row.
Reich, Wilhelm (1920). "Über einen Fall von Durchbruch der Inzestschranke," Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, VII.
Reich, Wilhelm (1942). The Function of the Orgasm.
Reich, Wilhelm (1953). People in Trouble.
Reich, Wilhelm (1957). Contact with Space: Oranur Second Report, 1951–1956.
Reich, Wilhelm (1973). Ether, God and Devil. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Reich, Wilhelm (1974). The Cancer Biopathy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1948).
Reich, Wilhelm (1982). The Bioelectrical Investigation of Sexuality and Anxiety.
Reich, Wilhelm (1988). Leidenschaft der Jugend/Passion of Youth. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Reich, Wilhelm (1994). Beyond Psychology: Letters and Journals 1934–1939. Farrar Straus & Giroux.
Reich, Wilhelm (1967). Reich Speaks of Freud. Souvenir Press.
Roeckelein, Jon E. (2006). "Reich's Orgone/Orgonomy Theory," Elsevier's Dictionary of Psychological Theories. Elsevier.
Rubin, Lore Reich (2003). "Wilhelm Reich and Anna Freud: His Expulsion from Psychoanalysis", Int. Forum Psychoanal, 12, pp. 109–117.
Sharaf, Myron (1994). Fury on Earth: A Biography of Wilhelm Reich, Da Capo Press; first published by St. Martin's Press, 1983.
Sheppard, R. Z. (14 May 1973) "A family affair", Time magazine.
Sterba, Richard F. (1982). Reminiscences of a Viennese Psychoanalyst, Wayne State University Press.
Søbye, Espen (1995). Rolf Stenersen. En biografi, Forlaget Oktober (in Norwegian).
Strick, James E. (2015). Wilhelm Reich, Biologist, Harvard University Press.
Time magazine (18 November 1957). "Milestones, Nov. 18, 1957" (obituary).
Turner, Christopher (6 October 2005). "Naughty Children", London Review of Books, 27(19).
Turner, Christopher (2011). Adventures in the Orgasmatron, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Turner, Christopher (8 July 2011). "Wilhelm Reich: the man who invented free love", The Guardian.
Turner, Christopher (23 September 2011). "Adventures in the Orgasmatron", The New York Times.
United States Department of State (2 March 2000). "FBI adds new subjects to electronic reading room".
Yontef, Gary and Jacobs, Lynn (2010). "Gestalt Therapy" in Raymond J. Corsini and Danny Wedding (eds.), Current Psychotherapies, Cengage Learning.
Young-Bruehl, Elisabeth (2008). Anna Freud: A Biography, Yale University Press, first published 1988.


  1. ^ For radicalism, magazine) 1973TimeSheppard (; Danto 2007, p. 43; Turner 2011, p. 114.

    For The Mass Psychology of Fascism and Character Analysis, Sharaf 1994, pp. 163–164, 168; for The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Turner 2011, p. 152; for The Sexual Revolution, Stick 2015, p. 1.

  2. ^ Young-Bruehl 2008, p. 157.
  3. ^ Sterba 1982, p. 35.
  4. ^ Guntrip 1961, p. 105.
  5. ^ For Anna Freud, see Bugental, Schneider and Pierson 2001, p. 14, and Sterba 1982, p. 35. For Perls, Lowen and Janov, see Sharaf 1994, p. 4
  6. ^ a b Strick 2015, p. 2.
  7. ^ ) 18 April 1971New York TimesElkind (; Turner 2011, pp. 13–14; Strick 2015, p. 2.
  8. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 66; Danto 2007, p. 83.
  9. ^ For Danto's description of Reich, Danto 2007, p. 118.

    That he visited patients in their homes, Grossinger 1982, p. 278, and Turner 2011, p. 82.

    For the issues he promoted, Turner 2011, p. 114, and Sharaf 1994, pp. 4–5, 347, 481–482.

    For orgastic potency and neurosis, Corrington 2003, p. 75; and ), 23 September 2011New York TimesTurner (; that he wanted to "attack the neurosis by its prevention rather than treatment," Turner 2011, p. 114.

  10. ^ For self-publication from 1932, Sharaf 1994, p. 169; for violating psychoanalytic taboos, pp. 234–235. For his sexual permissiveness disturbing certain groups, Danto 2007, p. 120.
  11. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 301–306; that Reich said God was the spiritual aspect of orgone and the ether the physical, p. 472; Reich, Ether, God and Devil, 1949, pp. 39ff, 50.
  12. ^ For the articles, Brady, April 1947; Brady, 26 May 1947. For "fraud of the first magnitude," Sharaf 1994, p. 364.
  13. ^ "Wilhelm Reich", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015; Sharaf 1994, pp. 460–461.
  14. ^ Strick 2015, p. 1.
  15. ^ a b c Sharaf 1994, p. 477.
  16. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 36.
  17. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 37.
  18. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 39, 463; Corrington 2003, pp. 90–91; Reich, Passion of Youth, p. 3.
  19. ^ Corrington 2003, pp. 5, 22; Reich, Passion of Youth, pp. 6, 22, 25, 42, 46.
  20. ^ a b Turner 2011, p. 323.
  21. ^ a b Turner 2011, pp. 42–43; Corrington 2003, pp. 6–10; Sharaf 1994, pp. 42–46; Reich, Passion of Youth, pp. 31–38; Reich, "Über einen Fall von Durchbruch der Inzestschranke," Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, VII, 1920.
  22. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 47–48; Reich, Passion of Youth, pp. 46–47.
  23. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 47–48; Turner 2011, pp. 47–48; Reich, Passion of Youth, p. 50.
  24. ^ Turner 2011, p. 50; Reich, Passion of Youth, p. 58.
  25. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 23–26, 31–32, 34–35.
  26. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 54–55.
  27. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 18–19, 39.
  28. ^ a b Turner 2011, pp. 55–57; Corrington 2003, pp. 23–25; Reich, Passion of Youth, pp. 125–126.
  29. ^ Turner 2011, p. 56.
  30. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 57–59.
  31. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 108–109.
  32. ^ Strick 2015, p. 1; Turner 2011, p. 59.
  33. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, p. 67.
  34. ^ Danto 2007, pp. 2, 90–93, 241; ), 6 October 2005London Review of BooksTurner (; Danto 1998.
  35. ^ Danto 2007, p. 138.
  36. ^ Danto 2007, p. 137. For the description of character armour, see Yontef and Jacobs 2010, p. 348.
  37. ^ Blumenfeld 2006, p. 135.
  38. ^ Danto 2007, p. 137.
  39. ^ Bocian 2010, p. 205ff.
  40. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 131.
  41. ^ Reich, Der triebhafte Charakter, 1925.
  42. ^ Danto 2007, p. 125.
  43. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 84.
  44. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 194.
  45. ^ Turner 2011, p. 167.
  46. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 73.
  47. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 91; for "Steckenpferd," Danto 2007, p. 138.
  48. ^ Strick 2015, p. 11.
  49. ^ Reich, Reich Speaks of Freud, p. 24, quoted in Turner 2011, p. 80.
  50. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 178–179. For Reich's view that psychic health depends on orgastic potency, Reich, The Function of the Orgasm, p. 6.
  51. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 86.
  52. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 87–88, 103–108; Corrington 2003, pp. 96–97.
  53. ^ Turner 2011, p. 108, quoting Reich, People in Trouble, p. 7.
  54. ^ Danto 2007, pp. 118–120, 137, 198, 208; Sharaf 1994, p. 129ff; ) 2013)GuardianTurner (.
  55. ^ Danto 2007, pp. 115–116.
  56. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 91–92, 100.
  57. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 100–101.
  58. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 154.
  59. ^ "Freud to Lou Andreas-Salomé, May 9, 1928", The International Psycho-analytical Library.
  60. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 142–143, 249.
  61. ^ Lee Baxandall (ed.),Sex-Pol: Essays, 1929-1934, London: Verso.
  62. ^ a b Sharaf 1994 pp. 169–171.
  63. ^ a b Corrington 2003, pp. 133–134.
  64. ^ a b Greenberg and Safran 1990, pp. 20–21.
  65. ^ Strick 2015, p. 18.
  66. ^ Corrington 2003, p. 90.
  67. ^ For Lindenberg, see Karina and Kant 2004, pp. 54–55.
  68. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 170.
  69. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 150–154.
  70. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 154–155.
  71. ^ Danto 2007, p. 270.
  72. ^ Turner 2011, p. 158.
  73. ^ Corrington 2003, p. 181.
  74. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 234–235, 241–242.
  75. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, p. 242.
  76. ^ Turner 2011, p. 9.
  77. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 238–241, 243; Reich, Function of the Orgasm, p. 5.
  78. ^ Rubin 2003.
  79. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 166–167.
  80. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 187, citing his own interview with Grete Bibring, 30 May 1971. Also Turner 2011, p. 167.
  81. ^ Turner 2011, p. 172; Søbye 1995, p. 213.
  82. ^ Søbye 1995, p. 194; Turner 2011, p. 173.
  83. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 209–210.
  84. ^ Strick 2015, pp. 57–59; Sharaf 1994, pp. 209–210.
  85. ^ Strick 2015 p. 65; Turner 2011, pp. 173–175.
  86. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 173–175.
  87. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 228, 230.
  88. ^ Strick 2015, p. 10.
  89. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 220ff.
  90. ^ Sharaf 1995, p. 223; Reich, Beyond Psychology: Letters and Journals 1934–1939, p. 66.
  91. ^ Cordon 2012, p. 412; Reich, The Cancer Biopathy, chapter 2, section 3.
  92. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 231–232.
  93. ^ a b c Brady, April 1947; Brady, 26 May 1947; Turner 2011, p. 272ff.
  94. ^ Strick 2015, p. 230.
  95. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, p. 233.
  96. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, p. 228.
  97. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 230.
  98. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 232–233.
  99. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 245–246.
  100. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, p. 253–255.
  101. ^ Turner 2011, p. 206.
  102. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 257–259.
  103. ^ Corrington 2003, p. 187.
  104. ^ a b c Turner 2011, pp. 220–2212.
  105. ^ a b Sharaf 1944, pp. 263–265; Elkind, 18 April 1971.
  106. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 273–274.
  107. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 17, 352; Reich, The Function of the Orgasm, pp. 384–385.
  108. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 222–223.
  109. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 302–303.
  110. ^ Turner 2011, p. 231.
  111. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 230–233.
  112. ^ Turner 2011, p. 232.

    Grossinger 1982, pp. 268ff, 293.

  113. ^ a b Brian 1996, pp. 325–327.
  114. ^ a b c Einstein's letter to Reich, 7 February 1941, in Reich, The Einstein Affair, 1953. For Reich's argument, Sharaf 1994, p. 286.
  115. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 286–287
  116. ^ Corrington 2003, pp. 188–189.
  117. ^ Corrington 2003, p. 189.
  118. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 226–230.
  119. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 230–231.
  120. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 271–272; Turner 2011, p. 241.
  121. ^ a b "FBI adds new subjects to electronic reading room", U.S. State Department, 2 March 2000.
  122. ^ Turner 2011, p. 240.
  123. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 242–243.
  124. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 340.
  125. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 356.
  126. ^ Obituary: Eva Renate Reich, MD", Bangor Daily News, 25 September 2008.
  127. ^ "Rental cottages", Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust.
  128. ^ Brady, 26 May 1947.
  129. ^ Turner 2011, p. 274.
  130. ^ Reich, Orgone Energy Bulletin, April 1950, 2(2), cited by Kevin Hinchley, letter to the editor, New York Times Book Review, 16 October 2011 (Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust).
  131. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 360–361.
  132. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 281–282.
  133. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 363–364.
  134. ^ a b c d Sharaf 1994, pp. 410–413.
  135. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 314, 317–319, 321.
  136. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 315–316.
  137. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 325–326.
  138. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 338–339.
  139. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 11, 333, 365–367.
  140. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 379–380; Turner 2011, p. 367.
  141. ^ Sharaf, p. 379.
  142. ^ Interview of Arthur Dickerman, 28 January 1981, Food and Drug Administration, p. 39.
  143. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 418; "Complaint for injunction", 10 February 1954, USA v. Wilhelm Reich, 1954–1957.
  144. ^ "Wilhelm Reich's Response to FDA's Complaint for Injunction", 25 February 1954, USA v. Wilhelm Reich, 1954–1957.
  145. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 458ff; "Decree of Injunction Order", 19 March 1954, USA v. Wilhelm Reich, 1954–1957.
  146. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 370–374; for "thin cigar shape with the little windows," p. 376; Reich, Contact with Space: Oranur Second Report, 1951–1956, p. 199.
  147. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 370–376.
  148. ^ Turner 2011, p. 406.
  149. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 30; Turner 2011, p. 397.
  150. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 398–400.
  151. ^ Turner 2011, p. 380–381.
  152. ^ a b Turner 2011, pp. 401–408.
  153. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 458–461.
  154. ^ a b Turner 2011, p. 410.
  155. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 460; "Book Order Appealed; Liberties Unit Asks U.S. Not to Destroy Reich's Writings", The New York Times, 13 July 1956.
  156. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 419, 460–461.
  157. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 461.
  158. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 458.
  159. ^ Turner 2011, p. 417.
  160. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 465–466.
  161. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 480; Turner 2011, p. 421; "Two Scientists Jailed; Pair Sentenced in Maine in Sale of 'Accumulators'", The New York Times, March 12, 1957.
  162. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, pp. 469–470; Turner 2011, pp. 419–421.
  163. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 476.
  164. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 425–426.
  165. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 5; Turner 2011, pp. 398, 427–428.
  166. ^ "Milestones, Nov. 18, 1957", Time Magazine, 18 November 1957.
  167. ^ Sterba 1982, pp. 34–36.
  168. ^ a b Sharaf 1994, p. 8.
  169. ^ Cordon 2012, p. 405.
  170. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 78.
  171. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 11, 60, 167–169.
  172. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 4–5, 347, 481–482.
  173. ^ a b Turner 2011, pp. 430–431.
  174. ^ a b Turner 2011, introduction; also see ), 8 July 2011GuardianTurner (; ), 4 January 2012Times Literary SupplementMurphy (.
  175. ^ Foucault 1978, p. 131.
  176. ^ Edwards 1977, p. 43
  177. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 481.
  178. ^ Turner 2011, p. 445; ), 23 September 2011New York TimesTurner (.
  179. ^ For "Birdland," Cooper, 26 September 2011; for Hawkwind, Abrahams 2004, p. 257; for Marilyn, "Marilyn as Opera," High Fidelity, 33(1-6), 1983.
  180. ^ Moy 2007, p. 99.
  181. ^ DeMarco and Wiker 2004, p. 231.
  182. ^ "Four-Beat Rhythm: The Writings Of Wilhelm Reich", AllMusic.
  183. ^ "Orgone chair",
  184. ^
  185. ^ Isaacs 1999, p. 240.
  186. ^ Bauer 2000, p. 159.
  187. ^ Roeckelein 2006, pp. 517–518.
  188. ^ Strick 2015, p. 3.
  189. ^ Lehmann-Haupt, 4 January 1971; MacBean 1972; Sharaf 1994, p. 480; Strick 2015, p. 1.
  190. ^ Sharaf 1994, pp. 479–482; "The College", American College of Orgonomy; The Journal of Orgonomy, The American College of Orgonomy.
  191. ^ Sharaf 1994, p. 482.
  192. ^ For DeMeo, see Sharaf 1994, pp. 380–381; Cordon 2011, p. 422; and Orgone Biophysical Research Lab, Ashland, Oregon. For Morton Herskowitz, "Institute for Orgonomic Science".
  193. ^ Turner 2011, pp. 519–520.
  194. ^ Strick 2015, p. 10.
  195. ^ Wilhelm Reich, Biologist, Harvard University Press.
  196. ^ Strick 20125, p. 3.
  197. ^ Turner 2011, p. 376.


  1. ^ Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, 2008: "Reich, a year and a half younger than Anna Freud, was the youngest instructor at the Training Institute, where his classes on psychoanalytic technique, later presented in a book called Character Analysis, were crucial to his whole group of contemporaries."[2]

    Richard Sterba (psychoanalyst), 1982: "This book [Character Analysis] serves even today as an excellent introduction to psychoanalytic technique. In my opinion, Reich's understanding of and technical approach to resistance prepared the way for Anna Freud's Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (1936)."[3]

    Harry Guntrip, 1961: "... the two important books of the middle 1930s, Character Analysis (1935) by Wilhelm Reich and The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (1936) by Anna Freud."[4]

  2. ^ a b Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015: "From 1956 to 1960 many of his writings and his equipment were seized and destroyed by FDA officials. In the 21st century some considered this wholesale destruction to be one of the most blatant examples of censorship in U.S. history."[13]

    James Strick (historian of science), 2015: "In 1956 and again in 1960, officers of the U.S. government supervised the public burning of the books and scientific instruments of Austrian-born scientist Wilhelm Reich. This was one of the most heinous acts of censorship in U.S. history, as New York publisher Roger Straus was heard to remark many times over decades afterward, explaining why his firm, Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, steadfastly brought all of Reich's published works back into print beginning in 1960."[14]

  3. ^ Myron Sharaf, 1994: Sharaf writes about Sandor Rado's diagnosis of an "insidious psychotic process" that Reich's personality and views were seen as "dangerous," that Federn regarded Reich as a "psychopath," and that Annie Reich and Otto Fenichel concurred.[44]

    Christopher Turner, 2011: "Paul Federn, who had lobbied to exclude Reich from the executive committee since the late 1920s, now went so far as to call him a psychopath who slept with all his female patients. 'Either Reich goes or I go,' he said. [Sandor] Rado, who in 1930 had described Reich as suffering from a 'mild paranoid tendency," now claimed to have observed signs of an 'insidious psychotic process' at that time, and Federn also later maintained he had detected 'incipient schizophrenia" during his analysis of Reich."[45]

  4. ^ Freud's letter read: "Dear Dr. Reich, I took plenty of time, but finally I did read the manuscript which you dedicated to me for my anniversary. I find the book valuable, rich in observation and thought. As you know, I am in no way opposed to your attempt to solve the problem of neurasthenia by explaining it on the basis of the absence of genital primacy."[57]
  5. ^ Einstein to Reich, 7 February 1941: "I have now investigated your apparatus ... In the beginning I made enough readings without any changes in your arrangements. The box-thermometer showed regularly a temperature of about 0.3-0.4 higher than the one suspended freely."[114]
  6. ^ Einstein to Reich, 7 February 1941: "One of my assistants now drew my attention to the fact that in the room ... the temperature on the floor is always lower than the one on the ceiling."[114]
  7. ^ Reich to Einstein: "The original arrangement of the apparatus results, under all circumstances, in a temperature difference between the thermometer in the box and the control thermometer, in the absence of any known kind of constant heat source."[117]
  8. ^ According to his estate, Reich rejected the idea that the accumulator could provide orgastic potency. He wrote in 1950: "The orgone accumulator, as has been clearly stated in the relevant publications (The Cancer Biopathy, etc.), cannot provide orgastic potency."[130]
  9. ^ Bangor's Daily News reported on 24 July 1953: "Dr. Reich and three assistants set up their 'rain-making device off the shore of Grand Lake, near the Bangor hydro-electric dam ... The device, a set of hollow tubes, suspended over a small cylinder, connected by a cable, conducted a 'drawing' operation for about an hour and ten minutes ...

    "According to a reliable source in Ellsworth the following climactic changes took place in that city on the night of July 6 and the early morning of July 7: 'Rain began to fall shortly after ten o'clock Monday evening, first as a drizzle and then by midnight as a gentle, steady rain. Rain continued throughout the night, and a rainfall of 0.24 inches was recorded in Ellsworth the following morning.'

    "A puzzled witness to the 'rain-making' process said: 'The queerest looking clouds you ever saw began to form soon after they got the thing rolling.' And later the same witness said the scientists were able to change the course of the wind by manipulation of the device."[141]

  10. ^ Kenneth S. Isaacs (psychoanalyst), 1999: "Orgone—a useless fiction with faulty basic premises, thin partial theory, and unsubstantiated application results. It was quickly discredited and cast away."[185]


    Jon E. Roeckelein (psychologist), 2006: "The current consensus of scientific opinion is that Reich's orgone theory is basically a psychoanalytic system gone awry, and is an approach that represents something most ludicrous and totally dismissible."[187]



  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Wilhelm Reich at Wikiquote

See also

Selected early papers
  • "Über einen Fall von Durchbruch der Inzestschranke" ("About a Case of Breaching the Incest Taboo"), Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, VII, 1920
  • "Triebbegriffe von Forel bis Jung" ("Forel's Argument Against Jung"), "Der Koitus und die Geschlechter" ("Sexual Intercourse and Gender"), Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, 1921
  • "Über Spezifitaet der Onanieformen" ("Concerning Specific Forms of Masturbation"), Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, VIII, 1922
  • "Zur Triebenergetik" ("The Drive for Power"), Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, 1923
  • "Kindliche Tagtraeume einer spaeteren Zwangsneurose" ("Childhood Daydreams of a Later Neurosis"), Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 1923
  • "Über Genitalitaet" ("About Genitality"), Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, IX, 1923
  • "Die Rolle der Genitalitaet in der Neurosentherapie" ("The Role of Genitality in the Treatment of Neurosis"), Zeitschrif für Aerztliche Psychotherapie (Journal for Medical Psychotherapy), IX, 1923
  • "Der Tic als Onanieequivalent" ("The Tic as a Masturbation Equivalent"), Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, 1924
  • "Die therapeutische Bedeutung der Genitallibido" ("The Therapeutic Importance of Genital Libido"), and "Über Genitalität vom Standpunkt der psa. Prognose und Libidotheorie." ("On Genitality From the Standpoint of PENSA. Prognosis and Libido Theory") Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, X, 1924
  • "Eine hysterische Psychose in statu nascendi" ("Hysterical Psychosis in Statu Nascendi"), Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, XI, 1925
  • Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend, Sexpol Verlag, 1932 (pamphlet)
  • "Dialektischer Materialismus und Psychoanalyse", Kopenhagen: Verlag für Sexualpolitik, 1934 (pamphlet)
  • Der triebhafte Charakter: Eine psychoanalytische Studie zur Pathologie des Ich, Wien: Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag, 1925
  • Die Funktion des Orgasmus: Zur Psychopathologie und zur Soziologie des Geschlechtslebens, Wien: Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag, 1927
  • Sexualerregung und Sexualbefriedigung, Münster Verlag, 1929
  • Geschlechtsreife, Enthaltsamkeit, Ehemoral: Eine Kritik der bürgerlichen Sexualreform, 1930
  • Der Einbruch der Sexualmoral: Zur Geschichte der sexuellen Ökonomie, Kopenhagen: Verlag für Sexualpolitik, 1932, 2nd edition 1935
  • Charakteranalyse: Technik und Grundlagen für studierende und praktizierende Analytiker, Berlin, 1933
  • Massenpsychologie des Faschismus, 1933
  • Was ist Klassenbewußtsein?: Über die Neuformierung der Arbeiterbewegung, 1934
  • Psychischer Kontakt und vegetative Strömung, 1935
  • Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf: Zur sozialistischen Umstrukturierung des Menschen, 1936
  • Experimentelle Ergebniße Über Die Elektrische Funktion von Sexualität und Angst, 1937
  • Menschen im Staat, 1937
  • Die Bione: Zur Entstehung des vegetativen Lebens, Sexpol Verlag, 1938
  • Die Entdeckung des Orgons Erster Teil: Die Funktion des Orgasmus, 1942
  • Rede an den kleinen Mann, 1945
  • (ed.) Zeitschrift für Politische Psychologie und Sexualökonomie (Journal for Political Psychology and Sex-Economy), using pseudonym Ernst Parell, 1934–1938
  • (ed.) Klinische und Experimentelle Berichte (Clinical and Experimental Report), c. 1937–1939
  • The Discovery of Orgone, Volume 1: The Function of the Orgasm, 1942 (Die Entdeckung des Orgons Erster Teil: Die Funktion des Orgasmus, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
  • Character Analysis, 1945 (Charakteranalyse, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
  • The Sexual Revolution, 1945 (Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
  • The Mass Psychology of Fascism, 1946 (Massenpsychologie des Faschismus, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
  • The Discovery of Orgone, Volume 2: The Cancer Biopathy, 1948
  • Listen, Little Man!, 1948 (Rede an den kleinen Mann, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
  • The Orgone Energy Accumulator, Its Scientific and Medical Use, 1948
  • Ether, God and Devil, 1949
  • Cosmic Superimposition: Man's Orgonotic Roots in Nature, 1951
  • The Invasion of Compulsory Sex-Morality, 1951
  • The Oranur Experiment: First Report (1947–1951), 1951
  • The Murder of Christ (The Emotional Plague of Mankind), 1953
  • People in Trouble (The Emotional Plague of Mankind), 1953 (Menschen im Staat)
  • The Einstein Affair, 1953
  • Contact with Space: Oranur Second Report, 1951–1956, 1957
  • (ed.) International Journal of Sex-Economy & Orgone Research, 1942–1945
  • (ed.) Annals of the Orgone Institute, 1947–1949
  • (ed.) Orgone Energy Bulletin, 1949–1953
  • (ed.) CORE – Cosmic Orgone Engineering, 1954–1955
  • Selected Writings: An Introduction to Orgonomy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1960
  • Reich Speaks of Freud, Souvenir Press, 1967
  • Sexpol. Essays 1929–1934, Random House, 1972
  • The Sexual Struggle of Youth, Socialist Reproduction, 1972 (Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend)
  • Early Writings: Volume One, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975
  • The Bion Experiments: On the Origin of Life, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979 (Die Bione: Zur Entstehung des vegetativen Lebens)
  • Genitality in the Theory and Therapy of Neurosis, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980
  • Record of a Friendship: The Correspondence of Wilhelm Reich and A.S. Neill (1936–1957), 1981
  • The Bioelectrical Investigation of Sexuality and Anxiety, 1982
  • Children of the Future: On the Prevention of Sexual Pathology, 1983 (the chapter entitled "The Sexual Rights of Youth" is a revision of Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend)
  • Reich's autobiographical writings in four volumes:
  • Mary Boyd Higgins and Chester M. Raphael (eds.), Passion of Youth: An Autobiography, 1897–1922. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988
  • Mary Boyd Higgins (ed.), Beyond Psychology: Letters and Journals 1934–1939, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994
  • Mary Boyd Higgins (ed.), American Odyssey: Letters and Journals 1940–1947, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999
  • Mary Boyd Higgins (ed.), Where's the Truth?: Letters and Journals, 1948–1957, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012


He was a nineteenth-century scientist; he wasn't a twentieth-century scientist. He didn't practice science the way scientists do today. He was a nineteenth-century mind who came crashing into twentieth-century America. And boom!

Speaking to Christopher Turner, Reich's son, Peter, said of his father:[197]

There was renewed interest in November 2007, when the Reich archives at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University were unsealed; Reich had left instructions that his unpublished papers be stored for 50 years after his death.[193] Strick began studying Reich's laboratory notebooks from the 1935–1939 bion experiments in Norway.[194] In 2015 Harvard University Press published Strick's Wilhelm Reich, Biologist, in which he writes that Reich's work in Oslo "represented the cutting edge of light microscopy and time-lapse micro-cinematography."[195] He argues that the dominant narrative of Reich as a pseudoscientist is incorrect and that Reich's story is "much more complex and interesting."[196]

[192] From 1960, apparently in response to the book burning, the New York publisher

The mainstream scientific community dismissed Reich's orgone theory as pseudoscience.[n 10] James Strick, an historian of science at Franklin and Marshall College, wrote during 2015 that the dominant narrative since Reich's death has been that "there is no point in looking more closely at Reich's science because there was no legitimate science from Reich."[188]


In the science horror role playing game, [184]

[183] Reich continued to influence popular culture after his death. Turner writes that the evil Dr. Durand Durand in

Orgone chair

by Marc Newson (1993)

cover of Kate Bush's single, showing her sitting astride a reproduction of a 'cloudbuster'
"Cloudbusting" (1985) by Kate Bush

Popular culture

[173] Several well-known figures used orgone accumulators, including

The Austrian-American philosopher Paul Edwards said that the FDA's pursuit of Reich had intensified Edwards' attachment to him. He wrote in 1977 that for years he and his friends regarded Reich as "something akin to a messiah."[176] Paul Mathews and John M. Bell started teaching a course concerning Reich in 1968 at New York University through its Division of Continuing Study, and it was still being taught at the time Sharaf was writing Reich's biography in 1983, making it the longest-running course ever taught in that division.[177]

Reich's work influenced a generation of intellectuals, including Saul Bellow, William Burroughs and Norman Mailer, and the founder of Summerhill School in England, A. S. Neill.[174] The French philosopher Michel Foucault wrote in 1976 that the effect of Reich's critique of sexual repression had been substantial.[175]

monochrome photograph of a man in an open-necked shirt


Despite Reich's precarious mental health, his work on character and the idea of muscular armouring contributed to the development of what is now known as ego psychology, gave rise to body psychotherapy, and helped shape the Gestalt therapy of Fritz Perls, the bioenergetic analysis of Reich's student Alexander Lowen, Transactional Analysis in the book Personality Adapatations (Stewart & Joines, 2002) and the primal therapy of Arthur Janov.[172]

Sharaf argued that psychoanalysts tended to dismiss as ill anyone from within the fold who had transgressed, and this was never done so relentlessly as with Reich. His work was split into the pre-psychotic "good" and the post-psychotic "bad," the date of the illness's onset depending on which parts of his work a speaker disliked. Psychoanalysts preferred to see him as sane in the 1920s because of his work on character, while political radicals regarded him as sane in the 1930s because of his Marxist-oriented research.[168]

There were inaccurate rumours from the late 1920s that he had been hospitalized.[170] Paul Federn became Reich's second analyst in 1922; he later said he had detected "incipient schizophrenia" and termed Reich a psychopath. Similarly, Sandor Rado had Reich as an analysand in 1931 and declared him schizophrenic "in the most serious way." Reich's daughter Lore Reich Rubin, a psychiatrist, believed that he was bipolar and had been sexually abused as a child.[171]

The psychoanalyst Richard Sterba wrote in 1982 that Reich had been a brilliant clinician and teacher in the 1920s; even the older analysts had wanted to attend his technical seminars in Vienna.[167] But according to Sharaf, they came to consider Reich as paranoid and belligerent.[168] Psychologist Luis Cordon wrote that Reich's slide from respectability concluded with the consensus inside and outside the psychoanalytic community that he was at best a crackpot and perhaps seriously ill.[169]


Reception and legacy

Died. Wilhelm Reich, 60, once-famed psychoanalyst, associate and follower of Sigmund Freud, founder of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation, lately better known for unorthodox sex and energy theories; of a heart attack; in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, Pa; where he was serving a two-year term for distributing his invention, the "orgone energy accumulator" (in violation of the Food and Drug Act), a telephone-booth-size device that supposedly gathered energy from the atmosphere, and could cure, while the patient sat inside, common colds, cancer, and impotence.

Reich failed to appear for roll call on 3 November 1957 and was found at 7 a.m. in his bed, fully clothed but for his shoes. The prison doctor said he had died during the night of "myocardial insufficiency with sudden heart failure."[15] He was buried in a vault at Orgonon that he had asked his caretaker to dig in 1955. He had left instructions that there was not to be any religious ceremony, but that a record should be played of Schubert's "Ave Maria" sung by Marian Anderson, and that his granite headstone should read simply: "Wilhelm Reich, Born March 24, 1897, Died ..."[165] None of the academic journals included an obituary. Time magazine wrote on 18 November 1957:[166]


He applied for a presidential pardon in May, to no avail. Peter visited him in jail several times, where one prisoner said Reich was known as the "flying saucer guy" and the "Sex Box man."[164] Reich told Peter that he cried often, and wanted Peter to let himself cry too, believing that tears are the "great softener." His last letter to his son was on 22 October 1957, when he said he was looking forward to being released on 10 November, having served one third of his sentence. A parole hearing had been scheduled for a few days before that date. He wrote that he and Peter had a date for a meal at the Howard Johnson restaurant near Peter's school.[15]

I am in Lewisburg. I am calm, certain in my thoughts, and doing mathematics most of the time. I am kind of "above things," fully aware of what is up. Do not worry too much about me, though anything might happen. I know, Pete, that you are strong and decent. At first I thought that you should not visit me here. I do not know. With the world in turmoil I now feel that a boy your age should experience what is coming his way – fully digest it without getting a "belly ache," so to speak, nor getting off the right track of truth, fact, honesty, fair play, and being above board – never a sneak ... .

On March 19, Reich was transferred to the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary and examined again. This time it was decided that he was mentally competent and that his personality seemed intact, though he might become psychotic when stressed.[162] A few days later, on his 60th birthday, he wrote to his son, Peter, then 13:[163]

The patient feels that he has made outstanding discoveries. Gradually over a period of many years he has explained the failure of his ideas in becoming universally accepted by the elaboration of psychotic thinking. "The Rockerfellows (sic) are against me." (Delusion of grandiosity.) "The airplanes flying over prison are sent by the Air Force to encourage me." (Ideas of reference and grandiosity.)

Reich appealed the lower court's decision in October 1956, but the Court of Appeals upheld it on 11 December.[158] He wrote several times to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, requesting a meeting,[159] and appealed to the Supreme Court, which decided on 25 February 1957 not to review the case.[160] On 12 March 1957 Reich and Silvert were sent to Danbury Federal Prison. (Silvert committed suicide in May 1958, five months after his release.)[161] Richard C. Hubbard, a psychiatrist who admired Reich, examined him on admission, recording paranoia manifested by delusions of grandiosity, persecution, and ideas of reference:[162]

Reich's record card from the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary.


All the expenses and labor had to be provided by the [Orgone Institute] Press. A huge truck with three to help was hired. I felt like people who, when they are to be executed, are made to dig their own graves first and are then shot and thrown in. We carried box after box of the literature.

On August 23, six tons of Reich's books, journals and papers were burned in New York, in the Gansevoort incinerator, the public incinerator on 25th Street. The material included copies of several of his books, including The Sexual Revolution, Character Analysis and The Mass Psychology of Fascism. Although these had been published in German before Reich ever discussed orgone, he had added mention of it to the English editions, so they were caught by the injunction.[156] It has been cited as one of the worst examples of censorship in U.S. history.[n 2] As with the accumulators, the FDA was supposed only to observe the destruction. The psychiatrist Victor Sobey (d. 1995), an associate of Reich's, wrote:[157]

On June 26, the agents returned to supervise the destruction of the promotional material, including 251 copies of Reich's books.[154] The American Civil Liberties Union issued a press release criticizing the book burning, although coverage of the release was poor, and Reich eventually asked them not to help because he was annoyed that they had failed to criticize the destruction of the accumulators. In England A.S. Neill and the poet Herbert Read signed a letter of protest, but it was never published. On 23 July the remaining accumulators in New York were destroyed by S. A. Collins and Sons, who had built them.[155]

On June 5, 1956, two FDA officials arrived at Orgonon to supervise the destruction of the accumulators. Most of them had been sold by that time and another 50 were with Silvert in New York. Only three were at Orgonon. The FDA agents were not allowed to destroy them, only to supervise the destruction, so Reich's friends and his son, Peter, chopped them apart with axes as the agents watched.[153] Once they were destroyed, Reich placed an American flag on top of them.[154]

Book burning

Representing himself in the hearing, he admitted the violation but pleaded not guilty and hinted at conspiracies. During a recess the judge apparently suggested a psychiatric evaluation to Reich's ex-wife, Ilse Ollendorff, but this was not communicated to Reich. The jury found him guilty on 7 May 1956, and he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Silvert was sentenced to a year and a day, the Wilhelm Reich Foundation was fined $10,000, and the accumulators and associated literature were to be destroyed.[152]

While Reich was in Arizona in May 1956, one of his associates sent an accumulator part through the mail to another state, in violation of the injunction, after an FDA inspector posing as a customer requested it.[151] Reich and another associate, Dr. Michael Silvert, were charged with contempt of court; Silvert had been looking after the inventory in Reich's absence. Reich at first refused to attend court, and was arrested and detained for two days until an endorser posted bail of $30,000.[152]

Contempt of court

In late 1954, Reich began an affair with Grethe Hoff, a former patient. Hoff was married to another former student and patient of his, the psychologist Alban Towers, Washington, D.C., to live with her, using the pseudonym Dr. Walter Roner.[150]

He and his son would spend their nights searching for UFOs through telescopes and binoculars, and when they believed they had found one would roll out the cloudbuster to suck the energy out of it. Reich claimed he had shot several of them down. Armed with two cloudbusters, they fought what Reich termed a "full-scale interplanetary battle" in Arizona, where he had rented a house as a base station.[147] In Contact with Space (1956), he wrote of the "very remote possibility" that his own father had been from outer space.[148]

Turner writes that the injunction triggered a further deterioration of Reich's mental health. From at least early 1954, he came to believe that the planet was being attacked by UFOs, or "energy alphas," as he termed them. He said he often saw them flying over Orgonon – shaped like thin cigars with windows – leaving streams of black Deadly Orgone Radiation in their wake, which he believed the aliens were scattering to destroy the Earth.[146]

colour photograph of the green aurora borealis over an icy landscape
Reich argued that northern lights.

Chasing UFOs

The injunction was granted by default on 19 March 1954. The judge ordered that all accumulators, parts and instructions be destroyed, and that several of Reich's books that mentioned orgone be withheld.[145]

My factual position in the case as well as in the world of science of today does not permit me to enter the case against the Food and Drug Administration, since such action would, in my mind, imply admission of the authority of this special branch of the government to pass judgment on primordial, pre-atomic cosmic orgone energy. I, therefore, rest the case in full confidence in your hands.

[144] Reich refused to appear in court, arguing that no court was in a position to evaluate his work. In a letter to Judge John D. Clifford, Jr. in February, he wrote:[143] In February 1954, the United States Attorney for the District of Maine filed a 27-page complaint seeking a permanent injunction under Sections 301 and 302 of the

[134] The attention of the FDA triggered belligerent responses from Reich, who called them "HiGS" (hoodlums in government) and the tools of red fascists. He developed a delusion that he had powerful friends in government, including

Over the years, the FDA interviewed physicians, Reich's students and his patients, asking about the orgone accumulators.[134] A professor at the University of Oregon who bought an accumulator told an FDA inspector that he knew the device was phoney, but found it helpful because his wife sat quietly in it for four hours every day.[142]


He conducted dozens of experiments with the cloudbuster, terming his research "Cosmic Orgone Engineering." During a drought of 1953, two farmers in Maine offered to pay him if he could make it rain to save their blueberry crop. Reich used the cloudbuster on the morning of 6 July, and according to Bangor's Daily News – based on an account from an anonymous eyewitness who was probably Peter Reich – rain began to fall that evening. The crop survived, the farmers declared themselves satisfied, and Reich received his fee.[140][n 9]

In 1951, Reich said he had discovered another energy that he called Deadly Orgone Radiation (DOR), accumulations of which played a role in [139]

Reich and Ilse Ollendorff divorced in September 1951, ostensibly because he thought she had had an affair. She continued working with him for another three years. Even after the divorce, he suspected her of having affairs, and persuaded her to sign confessions about her feelings of fear and hatred toward him, which he locked away in the archives of his Orgone Institute. He wrote several documents denouncing her, while having an affair himself with Lois Wyvell, who ran the Orgone Institute Press.[138]

monochorome photograph of a man stood alongside of a device which comprises mainly a series of vertical pipes
Reich with one of his cloudbusters

Divorce, cloudbusters

The sexual allegations apart, several people discussed how the vegetotherapy had hurt them physically as children, as therapists pressed hard on the body to loosen muscular armour. Reich's son, Peter, wrote in his autobiography, Book of Dreams (1973) about the pain this had caused him.[136] Susanna Steig, the daughter of William Steig, the New Yorker cartoonist, wrote about being pressed so hard in Reichian therapy that she had difficulty breathing, and said that a woman therapist had sexually assaulted her. According to Turner, a nurse complained in 1952 to the New York Medical Society that an OIRC therapist had taught her five-year-old son how to masturbate. The therapist was arrested, but the case was ended when Reich agreed to close the OIRC.[137]

Reich established the Orgonomic Infant Research Center (OIRC) in 1950, with the aim of preventing muscular armouring in children from birth. Meetings were held in the basement of his house in Forest Hills. Turner wrote that several children who were treated by OIRC therapists later said they had been sexually abused by the therapists, although not by Reich. One woman said she was assaulted by one of Reich's associates when she was five years old. Children were asked to stand naked in front of Reich and a group of 30 therapists in his basement, while Reich described the children's "blockages."[135] Reich's daughter, Lore Reich Rubin, told Turner that she believed her father was an abuser, although she did not say she had been abused by him, and she acknowledged that she did not have any evidence. She believed that Reich himself had been abused as a child, which is why he developed such an interest in sex and childhood sexuality.[20]

Orgonomic Infant Research Center

In July 1947, Dr. J. J. Durrett, director of the Medical Advisory Division of the [133] From that point on, Reich's work came increasingly to the attention of the authorities.[134]

Of Reich, she wrote: "Orgone, named after the sexual orgasm, is, according to Reich, a cosmic energy. It is, in fact, the cosmic energy. Reich has not only discovered it; he has seen it, demonstrated it and named a town – Orgonon, Maine – after it. Here he builds accumulators of it, which are rented out to patients, who presumably derive 'orgastic potency' from it."[93][n 8] She claimed, falsely, that he had said the accumulators could cure not only impotence but cancer.[6] Brady argued that the "growing Reich cult" had to be dealt with.[131] On his copy of the New Republic article, Reich wrote "THE SMEAR." He issued a press release, but no one published it.[132]

His reputation decreased suddenly in April and May 1947, when articles by journalist Mildred Edie Brady were published in the magazines Harper's and The New Republic, the latter entitled "The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich," with the subhead, "The man who blames both neuroses and cancer on unsatisfactory sexual activities has been repudiated by only one scientific journal."[93] Brady's ultimate target was not Reich but psychoanalysis, which Turner writes she regarded as akin to astrology.[129]

Until 1947, Reich enjoyed a largely uncritical press in the United States. One journal, Psychosomatic Medicine, had called orgone a "surrealist creation," but his psychoanalytic work had been discussed in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Psychiatry, The Nation had given his writing positive reviews, and he was listed in the book American Men of Science.[128]

typewritten letter on Food and Drug Administration headed paper
August 1947 letter from the FDA about Reich, referencing the Brady article

newspaper article with a monochrome photograph of a woman
Mildred Brady's The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich, The New Republic, 26 May 1947

Brady articles, FDA

1947–1957: Legal problems

Orgonon still houses the Wilhelm Reich Museum, as well as holiday cottages available to rent, one of which is the cottage Reich lived in with his family.[127]

[126] The artist [125] In 1950, he decided to live there year-round, and in May that year relocated from New York with Ilse, their son Peter, and Reich's daughter Eva, with the idea of creating a centre for the study of orgone. Several colleagues relocated there with him, including two physicians with an interest in orgone, and Lois Wyvell, who ran the Orgone Press Institute.

[124] In November 1942, Reich purchased an old farm for $4,000 on Dodge Pond, Maine, near

photograph of a stone-built house in 'International' style, with blue woodwork
Wilhelm Reich Museum, Orgonon

Purchase of Orgonon

This German immigrant described himself as the Associate Professor of Medical Psychology, Director of the Orgone Institute, President and research physician of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation and discoverer of biological or life energy. A 1940 security investigation was begun to determine the extent of Reich's communist commitments. A board of Alien Enemy Hearing judged that Dr. Reich was not a threat to the security of the U.S. In 1947, a security investigation concluded that neither the Orgone Project nor any of its staff were engaged in subversive activities or were in violation of any statute within the jurisdiction of the FBI.

Turner writes that it seems Reich was the victim of mistaken identity; there was a William Reich who managed a bookstore in New Jersey, which was used to distribute Communist material. The FBI acknowledged the mistake in November 1943 and closed Reich's file.[123] In 2000 it released 789 pages of the file, which said:[121]

[120], a biography of Lenin and a Russian alphabet book for children. After threatening to go on hunger strike he was released, on 5 January, but his name remained on the "key figures list" of the Enemy Alien Control Unit, which meant he was surveilled.My Life's Trotsky, Mein Kampf He was questioned about several books the FBI found when they searched his home, including Hitler's [122], who Reich feared might kill him, but when his psoriasis returned he was transferred to the hospital ward.German American Bund He was at first left to sleep on the floor in a large hall, surrounded by members of the fascist [121] On 12 December 1941, five days after

Reich lost his job at the New School in May 1941 after writing to its director, Alvin Johnson, to say he had saved several lives in secret experiments with the accumulator. Johnson was aware of Reich's claims that he could cure cancer, and told him the New School was not an appropriate institution for the work. Reich was also evicted from Kessel Street after his neighbours complained about the animal experiments. His endorsers, including Walter Briehl, gave him $14,000 to buy a house, and he settled into 9906 69th Avenue.[119]

Arrested by the FBI

Reich responded with a 25-page letter in which he tried to change Einstein's mind.[115] To rule out the influence of convection he told Einstein that he had taken certain measures, including introducing a horizontal plate above the accumulator, wrapping it in a blanket, hanging it from the ceiling, burying it underground and placing it outside. He wrote that in all these circumstances the temperature difference remained, and was in fact more marked in the open air.[116][n 7] Einstein did not respond to this or to Reich's future correspondence – Reich would write regularly reporting the results of his experiments – until Reich threatened three years later to publish their previous exchange. Einstein replied that he could not devote any further time to the matter and asked that his name not be misused for advertising purposes. Reich believed that Einstein's change of sentiment was part of a conspiracy of some kind, perhaps related to the communists or prompted by the rumours that Reich was ill. Reich published the correspondence in 1953 as The Einstein Affair.[118]

[114] Einstein concluded that the effect was simply due to the temperature gradient inside the room. "Through these experiments I regard the matter as completely solved," he wrote to Reich on 7 February 1941.[n 6] One of Einstein's assistants mentioned that the temperature was lower on the floor than on the ceiling.[n 5] Reich was much encouraged by the meeting and hoped he would be invited to join Princeton's

In December 1940, Reich wrote to Albert Einstein saying he had a scientific discovery he wanted to discuss, and, in January 1941, visited Einstein at his home in Princeton, where they talked for nearly five hours. He told Einstein that he had discovered a "specific biologically effective energy which behaves in many respects differently to all that is known about electromagnetic energy." He said it could be used against disease, and as a weapon "in the fight against the Fascist pestilence". (Einstein had signed a letter to President Roosevelt in August 1939 to warn of the danger of Nazi Germany building an atom bomb, and had urged the United States to establish its own research project.) Einstein agreed that if an object's temperature could be raised without an apparent heating source, as Reich was suggesting, it would be "a bomb."[113]

A photograph of Albert Einstein, with flowing, white hear
Reich discussed orgone accumulators with Albert Einstein during 1941.

Experiment with Einstein

Although not licensed to practise medicine in the United States, he began testing the boxes on human beings diagnosed with cancer and schizophrenia. In one case the test had to be stopped prematurely because the subject heard a rumour that Reich was insane; there were stories, which were false, that he had been hospitalized in the Utica State Mental Hospital. In another case the father of an eight-year-old girl with cancer approached him for help, then complained to the American Medical Association that he was practising without a licence.[111] He asked his endorsers to remain sympathetic with him through the criticism, believing that he had developed a grand unified theory of physical and mental health.[112]

The accumulators were tested on plant growth and mice with cancer.[109] Reich wrote to his supporters in July 1941 that orgone is "definitely able to destroy cancerous growth. This is proved by the fact that tumors in all parts of the body are disappearing or diminishing. No other remedy in the world can claim such a thing."[110]

[108] In 1940, he began to build insulated

It was soon after he arrived in New York in 1939 that Reich first said he had discovered a biological or cosmic energy, an extension of Freud's idea of the protozoa, red corpuscles, cancer cells and the chlorophyll of plants are charged with it.[104][107]

photograph of a woman, sitting on a chair which is in a large, wardrobe-sized  box, the open door of which has a small window. A man stands nearby, holding a breathing apparatus.
Orgone accumulator


Sharaf writes that Reich's personality changed after his experience in Oslo.[95] He became socially isolated and kept his distance even from old friends and his ex-wife. His students in the United States came to know him as a man that no colleague, no matter how close, called by his first name. In January 1940 he wrote to Lindenberg to end their relationship once and for all, telling her that he was in despair and that he believed he would end up dying like a dog.[106]

[105] Five years later, in 1944, they had a son, Peter, and were married in 1946.[104] They began living together in the Kessel Street house on Christmas Day 1939. She was eight weeks pregnant, but according to Turner he insisted that she have an abortion.[105] He began teaching at The New School, where he remained until May 1941, living first at 7502 Kessel Street, [102], the last ship to leave for the United States before the war began on 3 September.SS Stavangerfjord He received the visa in August 1939, and steamed out of Norway on 19 August on the

I am sitting in a completely empty apartment waiting for my American visa. I have misgivings as to how it will go. ... I am utterly and horribly alone!

It will be quite an undertaking to carry on all the work in America. Essentially, I am a great man, a rarity, as it were. I can't quite believe it myself, however, and that is why I struggle against playing the role of a great man.

When Hitler annexed Austria in March 1938, Reich's ex-wife and daughters had already left for the United States. Later that year, Theodore P. Wolfe, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, traveled to Norway to study under Reich. Wolfe offered to help Reich settle in the United States, and managed to arrange an invitation from The New School in New York for Reich to teach a course named "Biological Aspects of Character Formation." Wolfe and Walter Briehl, a former student of Reich's, put up $5,000 to guarantee his visa.[101] Wolfe also pulled strings with Adolph Berle, an official in the State Department.[102] Reich wrote in his diary in May 1939:[103]

Teaching, second marriage

1939–1957: United States

Despite the affairs, Sharaf writes that, as the newspaper campaign against Reich increased, he developed an intense jealousy toward Lindenberg, demanding that she not have a separate life of any kind. He even physically assaulted a composer with whom she was working. Lindenberg considered calling the police but decided Reich could not afford another scandal. His behaviour took its toll on their relationship, and when Reich asked her to accompany him to the United States, she refused.[100]

In 1937, Reich began an affair with a female patient, an actress who had been married to a colleague of his. According to Sigurd Hoel, the analysis would stop because of the relationship, then the relationship would end and the analysis would start up again. The patient eventually threatened to go to the press, but was persuaded that it would harm her as much as it would Reich. Around the same time, Reich also had an affair with Gerd Bergersen, a 25-year-old Norwegian textile designer.[100]

According to Sharaf, 1934–1937 was the happiest period of Reich's personal life, despite the professional problems. His relationship with Elsa Lindenberg was good and he considered marrying her. When she became pregnant in 1935, they were initially overjoyed, buying clothes and furniture for the child, but doubts developed for Reich, who believed the future was too unsettled. Sharaf writes that, to Lindenberg's great distress, Reich insisted on an abortion, at that time illegal. They went to Berlin, where the psychoanalyst Edith Jacobson helped to arrange it.[99]

photograph of a two-storey, white, mid-terrace house
Reich's home in Frogner, Oslo. A blue plaque, in Norwegian, may be translated as: "The physician and psychoanalyst WILHELM REICH (1897–1957) lived and worked here 1935–39. Developed character analysis and the body-oriented therapy."

Personal life

Norway was proud of its intellectual tolerance, so the "Reich affair," especially after the country's 1936 expulsion of Leon Trotsky, made Nygaardsvold's government defensive. A compromise was therefore found. Reich was given his visa, but a royal decree was issued stipulating that anyone wanting to practice psychoanalysis needed a licence, and it was understood that Reich would not be given one. Throughout the affair Reich issued just one public statement, when he asked for a commission to replicate his bion experiments. Sharaf writes that the opposition to his work affected his personality and relationships. He was left humiliated, no longer comfortable in public, and seething with bitterness against the researchers who had denounced him.[98]

By February 1938, Reich's visa had expired. Several Norwegian scientists argued against an extension, Kreyberg saying, "If it is a question of handing Dr. Reich over to the Gestapo, then I will fight that, but if one could get rid of him in a decent manner, that would be the best."[97] The writer Sigurd Hoel asked: "When did it become a reason for deportation that one looked in a microscope when one was not a trained biologist?" Reich received endorsement from overseas, first from the anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski, who in March wrote to the press in Norway that Reich's sociological works were "a distinct and valuable contribution toward science," and from A.S. Neill, initiator of Summerhill, a progressive school in England, who argued that "the campaign against Reich seems largely ignorant and uncivilized, more like fascism than democracy ..."[92]

Reich sent a sample of the bacteria to a Norwegian biologist, Theodor Thjøtta of the Oslo Bacteriological Institute, who also blamed airborne infection. Kreyberg and Thjøtta had their opinions published in the country's largest newspaper, Aftenposten, on 19 and 21 April 1938, Kreyberg referring to "Mr. Reich" and alleging that Reich knew less about bacteria and anatomy than a first-year medical student. When Reich requested a detailed control study, Kreyberg responded that his work did not merit it.[96]

In 1937, the Norwegian pathologist Leiv Kreyberg was allowed to examine one of Reich's bion preparations under a microscope. Kreyberg wrote that the broth Reich had used as his culture medium was indeed sterile, but that the bacteria were ordinary staphylococci. He concluded that Reich's control measures to prevent infection from airborne bacteria were not as foolproof as Reich believed. Kreyberg accused Reich of being ignorant of basic bacteriological and anatomical facts, while Reich accused Kreyberg of having failed to recognize living cancer cells under magnification.[96]

Scientists in Oslo reacted strongly to Reich's work on bions, deriding it as nonsense. Tidens Tegn, a major liberal newspaper, began a campaign against him in 1937, endorsed by scientists and other newspapers.[93] Between March and December 1938, more than 165 articles or letters appeared in 13 Norwegian newspapers denouncing him.[94][95]

monohrome photograph of a man, wearing glasses
Bronisław Malinowski wrote to newspapers in Norway in support of Reich.[92]

Opposition to his ideas

In what Sharaf writes was the origins of the orgone theory, Reich said he could see two kinds of bions, the blue vesicles and smaller red ones shaped like lancets. He called the former PA-bions and the latter T-bacilli, the T standing for Tod, German for death.[90] He wrote in his book The Cancer Biopathy (1948) that he had found T-bacilli in rotting cancerous tissue obtained from a local hospital, and when injected into mice they caused inflammation and cancer. He concluded that, when orgone energy diminishes in cells through aging or injury, the cells undergo "bionous degeneration." At some point the deadly T-bacilli start to form in the cells. Death from cancer, he believed, was caused by an overwhelming growth of the T-bacilli.[91]

From 1934 to 1939, Reich conducted what he termed the bion experiments, which he published as Die Bione: Zur Entstehung des vegetativen Lebens in Oslo in February 1938 (published in English in 1979 and later termed The Bion Experiments on the Origin of Life).[88] He examined protozoa and grew cultured vesicles using grass, sand, iron and animal tissue, boiling them and adding potassium and gelatin. Having heated the materials to incandescence with a heat-torch, he wrote that he had seen bright, glowing, blue vesicles. He called them "bions" and believed they were a rudimentary form of life, halfway between life and non-life. He wrote that when he poured the cooled mixture onto growth media, bacteria were born, dismissing the idea that the bacteria were already present in the air or on other materials.[89]

monochrome photograph of six men and a woman, standing
Cancer specialist Leiv Kreyberg (third from right; picture circa 1937) dismissed Reich's work.[87]

Bion experiments

[86]).The Bioelectrical Investigation of Sexuality and Anxiety (Experimentelle Ergebniße Über Die Elektrische Funktion von Sexualität und Angst Reich described the oscillograph experiments in 1937 in [85] In 1935, Reich bought an

[84] Reich was influenced by the work of the Austrian internist

[83] During his time in Norway, Reich attempted to express his orgasm theory in terms of biology, exploring whether Freud's metaphor of the

In October 1934, Reich and Lindenberg relocated to Oslo, Norway, where Harald K. Schjelderup, professor of psychology at the University of Oslo, had invited Reich to lecture on character analysis and vegetotherapy. They stayed for five years.[81]


1934–1939: Norway

Just before the Lucerne conference, Reich was asked to resign from the International Psychoanalytical Association for prioritizing his revolutionary agenda over Freud's ideas.[78] He arrived at the conference furious about his treatment. Turner writes that he confirmed his reputation as a madman, camping in a tent outside the conference hall and reportedly carrying a large knife in his belt.[79] According to the psychiatrist Grete Bibring, Paul Federn declared, "Either Reich goes or I go."[80]

The method eliminated the psychoanalytic doctrine of neutrality. Reich argued that the psychoanalytic taboos reinforced the neurotic taboos of the patient, and that he wanted his patients to consider him as human.[75] He would press his thumb or the palm of his hand hard (and painfully) on their jaws, necks, chests, backs, or thighs, aiming to dissolve their muscular, and thereby characterological, rigidity.[74] He wrote that the purpose of the massage was to retrieve the repressed memory of the childhood situation that had caused the repression. If the session worked, he would see waves of pleasure move through their bodies, which he called the "orgasm reflex." According to Sharaf, the twin goals of Reichian therapy were the attainment of this orgasm reflex in sessions and orgastic potency in intercourse. Reich briefly considered terming it "orgasmotherapy," but thought better of it.[77]

He first presented the principles of what he termed character-analytic vegetotherapy in August 1934, in a paper entitled "Psychischer Kontakt und vegetative Strömung" ("Psychological Contact and Vegetative Current") at the 13th International Congress of Psychoanalysis at Lucerne, Switzerland.[75] His second wife, Ilse Ollendorf, said vegetotherapy replaced the psychoanalytic method of never touching a patient with "a physical attack by the therapist."[76]

From 1930 onwards, Reich began to treat patients without the limits of psychoanalysis's restrictions. He would sit opposite them, rather than behind them as they lay on a couch (the traditional psychoanalyst's position), and began talking to them and answering their questions, instead of offering the stock, "Why do you ask?" analyst's response. He had noticed that after a successful course of psychoanalysis his patients would hold their bodies differently, so he began to try to communicate with the body using touch. He asked his male patients to undress down to their shorts, and sometimes entirely, and his female patients down to their underclothes, and began to massage them to loosen their body armour. He would also ask them to simulate physically the effects of certain emotions in the hope of triggering them.[74]


Reich and Lindenberg relocated instead to Malmö in Sweden, which Reich described as "better than a concentration camp," but he was surveilled when police suspected that the hourly visits of patients to his hotel room meant he was directing a brothel, with Lindenberg as the prostitute.[72] The government declined to extend his visa, and the couple had to move briefly back to Denmark, Reich under an assumed name.[73]

He tried to find endorsement among psychoanalysts in the UK so that he could settle there, and was interviewed in London by Ernest Jones, Melanie Klein, Joan Riviere and James Strachey. They decided that he had been "insufficiently analysed" and had an unresolved hostility toward Freud.[70] Anna Freud, Freud's daughter – whom Jones had contacted about Reich's desire to relocate to England – wrote in 1938: "There is a wall somewhere where he stops to understand the other person's point of view and flies off into a world of his own ... He is an unhappy person ... and I am afraid this will end in sickness."[71]

Reich had several affairs during his marriage to Annie Reich, which ended in 1933 after he began a serious relationship in May 1932 with Elsa Lindenberg, a dancer and pupil of Elsa Gindler.[67] He was living with Lindenberg in Germany when Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933. On March 2 that year the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter published an attack on Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend.[68] Reich and Lindenberg left for Vienna the next day. They relocated to Denmark, where Reich was excluded from the Danish Communist Party in November 1933 (without ever having joined it) due to his promotion of teenage sex and the publication that year of The Mass Psychology of Fascism, which they regarded as "counterrevolutionary." There were multiple complaints about his promotion of abortion, sex education, and the attempted suicide of a teenage patient. Turner writes that when his visa expired, it was not renewed.[69]

Part of a series of articles on
Unofficial psychoanalysis symbol

End of first marriage

Reich proposed that muscular armour was a defence that contained the history of the patient's traumas.[65] For example, he blamed Freud's jaw cancer on his muscular armour, rather than his smoking: Freud's Judaism meant he was "biting down" impulses, rather than expressing them.[66] Dissolving the armour would bring back the memory of the childhood repression that had caused the blockage in the first place.[64]

For Reich, character structure was the result of social processes, in particular a representation of emasculational and Oedipal anxieties playing themselves out within the nuclear family.[63] Les Greenberg and Jeremy Safran write that Reich proposed a functional identity between the character, emotional blocks, and tension in the body, or what he called character (or muscular/body) armour (Charakterpanzer).[64]

Reich published what Robert Corrington termed his masterpiece, Charakteranalyse: Technik und Grundlagen für studierende und praktizierende Analytiker, in 1933. It was revised and published in English in 1946 and 1949 as Character Analysis. The book sought to influence psychoanalysis toward a reconfiguration of character structure.[63]

Character Analysis

His subsequent involvement with a conference promoting adolescent sexuality caused the party to announce that it would no longer publish his material. In March 1933 Freud told him that his contract with the International Psychoanalytic Publishers to publish Character Analysis had been cancelled. Sharaf writes that this was almost certainly because of Reich's opinions concerning teenage sex.[62]

Reich and his wife relocated to Berlin in November 1930, where he established clinics in working-class areas, taught sex education and published pamphlets. He joined the Communist Party of Germany, but became impatient about their delay in publishing one of his pamphlets, Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend (1932), published in English as The Sexual Struggle of Youth (1972). He set up his own publishing house, Verlag für Sexualpolitik, and published the pamphlet himself.[62]

a steel plaque etched with several paragraphs in German
Plaque on Schlangenbader Straße 87, Berlin-Wilmersdorf, the house in which Reich lived, 1931–1933.

Verlag für Sexualpolitik

1930–1934: Germany, Denmark, Sweden

In 1929, Reich and his wife visited the USSR to make a lecture tour, leaving the two children in the care of the psychoanalyst Berta Bornstein. Sharaf writes that he returned even more convinced of the association between sexual and economic oppression, and of the need to integrate Marx and Freud.[60] In 1929 his article "Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis" was published in Unter dem Banner des Marxismus, the German Communist Party journal. The article explored whether psychoanalysis was compatible with historical materialism, class struggle and proletarian revolution. Reich concluded that they were compatible if dialectical materialism was applied to psychology.[61] This was one of the central theoretical statements of his Marxist period, which included The Imposition of Sexual Morality (1932), The Sexual Struggle of Youth (1932), The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), “What is Class Consciousness?” (1934) and The Sexual Revolution (1936).

Visit to Soviet Union

We have here a Dr. Reich, a worthy but impetuous young man, passionately devoted to his hobby-horse, who now salutes in the genital orgasm the antidote to every neurosis. Perhaps he might learn from your analysis of K. to feel some respect for the complicated nature of the psyche.

Reich published Die Funktion des Orgasmus ("The Function of the Orgasm") in 1927, dedicating it to Freud. He had presented a copy of the manuscript to Freud on his 70th birthday on 6 May 1926.[56] Freud did not seem impressed. He replied "that thick?" when Reich handed it to him, and took two months to write a brief but positive letter in response, which Reich interpreted as a rejection.[57][n 4] Freud's opinion was that the matter was more complicated than Reich suggested, and that there was no single cause of neurosis.[58] He wrote in 1928 to another psychoanalyst, Dr. Lou Andreas-Salomé:[59]

Die Funktion des Orgasmus

He also took to the streets in a mobile clinic, driving to parks and out to the suburbs with other psychoanalysts and physicians. Reich would talk to the teenagers and men, while a gynaecologist would fit the women with contraceptive devices. Lia Laszky, the woman Reich loved at medical school, would speak to the children. They also distributed sex-education pamphlets door to door.[55]

Partly in response to the shooting he had witnessed in Vienna, Reich, then 30 years old, initiated six free sex-counselling clinics in the city in 1927 for working-class patients. Each clinic was overseen by a physician, with three obstetricians and a lawyer on call, and offered what Reich termed Sex-Pol counseling. Sex-Pol stood for the German Society of Proletarian Sexual Politics. Reich offered a mixture of "psychoanalytic counseling, Marxist advice and contraceptives," Danto writes, and argued for a sexual permissiveness, including for young people and the unmarried, that unsettled other psychoanalysts and the political left. The clinics were immediately overcrowded by people seeking help.[54]

Sex-pol movement

As if struck by a blow, one suddenly recognizes the scientific futility, the biological senselessness, and the social noxiousness of views and institutions, which until that moment had seemed altogether natural and self-evident. It is a kind of eschatological experience so frequently encountered in a pathological form in schizophrenics. I might even voice the belief that the schizophrenic form of psychic illness is regularly accompanied by illuminating insight into the irrationalism of social and political mores.

Reich's brother died of tuberculosis (TB) in 1926, the same disease that had killed their father. Turner writes that a quarter of deaths in Vienna were caused by TB in the 1920s. Reich himself contracted it in 1927 and spent several weeks in the winter of that year in a sanitorium in Davos, Switzerland, where TB patients went for rest cures and fresh air before antibiotics became widely available about 1945. Turner writes that Reich underwent a political and existential crisis in Davos; he returned home in the spring angry and paranoid, according to Annie Reich. Some months later, he and Annie were present during the July Revolt of 1927 in Vienna, when 84 workers were shot and killed by police and another 600 were injured. It seems that the experience changed Reich; he wrote that it was his first encounter with human irrationality.[52] He began to doubt everything, and in 1928 joined the Communist Party of Austria:[53]

Rest cure in Switzerland

Whereas Reich's work on character was well received by the psychoanalytic community, Sharaf writes, his work concerning orgastic potency was unpopular from the start and later ridiculed. He was termed the "prophet of the better orgasm" and the "founder of a genital utopia."[51]

Beginning in 1924, Reich published a series of papers on the idea of "orgastic potency," the ability to release the emotions from the muscles and lose the self in an uninhibited orgasm, an idea that Freud came to term Reich's "Steckenpferd" (hobby horse).[47] Reich argued that psychic health and the ability to love depended on orgastic potency, the full discharge of the libido: "Sexual release in the sex act must correspond to the excitement which leads up to it."[48] He wrote: "It is not just to fuck ... not the embrace in itself, not the intercourse. It is the real emotional experience of the loss of your ego, of your whole spiritual self."[49] He argued that orgastic potency was the goal of character analysis.[50]

Reich lived for a time on Berggasse in Vienna (seen here in 2010), where Freud lived at number 19

Orgastic potency

Reich's first book, Der triebhafte Charakter: Eine psychoanalytische Studie zur Pathologie des Ich ("The Impulsive Character: A Psychoanalytic Study of the Pathology of the Self"), was published in 1925.[41] It was a study of the anti-social personalities he had encountered in the Ambulatorium, and argued the need for a systematic theory of character.[42] The book won him professional recognition, including from Freud, who in 1927 arranged for his appointment to the executive committee of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.[43] The appointment was made despite the objection of Paul Federn, who had been Reich's second analyst in 1922 and who, according to Sharaf, regarded Reich as a psychopath.[n 3] Reich found the society dull and wrote that he behaved "like a shark in a pond of carps."[46]

Der triebhafte Charakter

The moment he starts to speak, not at the lectern, but walking around it on cat's paws, he is simply enchanting. In the Middle Ages, this man would have been sent into exile. He is not only eloquent, he also keeps his listeners spellbound by his sparking personality, reflected in his small, dark eyes.

Reich joined the faculty of the Psychoanalytic Institute in Vienna in 1924, and became its director of training.[37] According to Danto, he was well-regarded during this period for the weekly technical seminars he chaired at the Ambulatorium, where he gave papers on his emerging theory of character structure, arguing that psychoanalysis should be based on the examination of unconscious character traits, later known as ego defences.[38] The seminars were attended, from 1927, by Fritz Perls, who went on to develop Gestalt therapy with his wife, Laura Perls.[39] Several commentators remarked on how captivating his seminars were, and what an eloquent speaker he was. A Danish newspaper stated of him in 1934:[40]

Sharaf writes that working with labourers, farmers and students allowed Reich to transition treating neurotic symptoms to observing chaotic lifestyles and anti-social personalities.[33] Reich argued that neurotic symptoms such as obsessive-compulsive disorder were an unconscious attempt to gain control of a hostile environment, including poverty or childhood abuse. They were examples of what he called "character armour" (Charakterpanzer), repetitive patterns of behaviour, speech and body posture that served as defence mechanisms. Danto writes that Reich sought out patients at the Ambulatorium who had been diagnosed as psychopaths, believing that psychoanalysis could free them of their rage.[36]

When Reich entered the [Ambulatorium's] conference room after a full day at the clinic, his relative youth vanished. He spread an electrifying energy all his own; his deep-set eyes, wavy hair and high forehead of the rebellious German intellectual barely tempered by the military mannerisms of a Prussian army official. Under his leadership the analysts developed not only path-breaking clinical protocols but also attended to the more mundane aspects of running a clinic.

Reich became the assistant director of the Vienna clinic under Hitschmann in 1924 and worked there until his relocation to Berlin in 1930. He was only in his twenties of age when he began at the Ambulatorium, but Danto writes:[35]

In 1922, Reich began working in Freud's psychoanalytic outpatient clinic, known as the Vienna Ambulatorium, which was initiated on 22 May that year at Pelikangasse 18 by Eduard Hitschmann. Between 1922 and 1932 it offered free or reduced-cost psychoanalysis to 1,445 men and 800 women who could otherwise not afford to pay for it, many of them suffering from shell shock after World War I. It was the second such clinic that had opened with Freud's direction; the first was the Poliklinik in Berlin, initiated in 1920 by Max Eitingon and Ernst Simmel.[34]

monochrome photograph of eight seated people, with a row of six people standing behind them
Staff of the Vienna Ambulatorium, 1922. Eduard Hitschmann is seated fourth from the left, Reich fifth, and Annie Reich first on the right.

Vienna Ambulatorium

Because he was a war veteran, Reich was allowed to complete a combined bachelor's and M.D. in four years instead of six, and graduated in July 1922.[32] After graduating he worked in internal medicine at the city's University Hospital, and studied neuropsychiatry from 1922 to 1924 at the hospital's neurological and psychiatric clinic under Professor Julius Wagner von Jauregg, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1927.[33]

Two months after Kahn's death, Reich accepted her friend, Annie Pink (1902–1971), as an analysand. Pink was Reich's fourth female patient, a medical student three months before her 19th birthday. He had an affair with her too, and married her in March 1922 at her father's insistence, with psychoanalysts Otto Fenichel and Edith Buxbaum as witnesses.[30] Annie Reich became a well-known psychoanalyst herself. The marriage produced two daughters, Eva (1924–2008) and Lore (b. 1928), both of whom became physicians; Lore Reich Rubin also became a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.[31]

First marriage, graduation

It was a serious allegation to make against a physician. Reich wrote in his diary that the mother had been attracted to him and had made the allegation to damage him. She later committed suicide and Reich blamed himself.[28] If Kahn did have an abortion, Turner wrote, she was the first of four of Reich's partners to do so: his first wife had several, and his long-term partners Elsa Lindenberg and Ilse Ollendorf (his second wife) each had one at Reich's insistence.[29]

One of Reich's first patients was Lore Kahn, a 19-year-old woman with whom he had an affair. Freud had warned analysts not to involve themselves with their patients, but the warnings went unheeded. According to Reich's diaries, Kahn became ill in November 1920 and died of sepsis after sleeping in a bitterly cold room she had rented as a place for her and Reich to meet (both his landlady and her parents had forbidden their meetings). Kahn's mother suspected that her daughter had died after a botched illegal abortion, possibly performed by Reich himself. According to Christopher Turner, she found some of her daughter's bloodied underwear in a cupboard.[28]

Reich first met Sigmund Freud in 1919 when he asked Freud for a reading list for a seminar concerning sexology. It seems they left a strong impression on each other. Freud allowed him to start meeting with analytic patients in September that year, although Reich was just 22 years old and still an undergraduate, which gave him a small income. He was accepted as a guest member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association, becoming a regular member in October 1920, and began his own analysis with Isidor Sadger. He lived and worked out of an apartment on Berggasse 7, the street on which Freud lived at no. 19, in the Alsergrund area of Vienna.[27]

Introduction to Freud

The question, "What is Life?" lay behind everything I learned. ... It became clear that the mechanistic concept of life, which dominated our study of medicine at the time, was unsatisfactory ... There was no denying the principle of creative power governing life; only it was not satisfactory as long as it was not tangible, as long as it could not be described or practically handled. For, rightly, this was considered the supreme goal of natural science.

Myron Sharaf, his biographer, wrote that Reich loved medicine but was caught between a reductionist/mechanistic and vitalist view of the world.[26] Reich wrote later of this period:[26]

Reich joined the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War, serving from 1915 to 1918, for the last two years as a lieutenant at the Italian front commanding 40 men. When the war ended, he went to Vienna, enrolling in law at the University of Vienna, but found it dull and switched to medicine after the first semester. He arrived with nothing in a city with little to offer; the end of the Austria-Hungarian empire a few weeks earlier had left the newly formed Republic of German-Austria in a state of famine. Reich lived on soup, oats and dried fruit from the university canteen, and shared an unheated room with his brother and another undergraduate, wearing his coat and gloves indoors to stave off the cold. He became enamored of with another medical student, Lia Laszky, with whom he was dissecting a corpse, but it was largely unrequited.[25]

Undergraduate studies

1919–1930: Vienna

With the tutor ordered out of the house, Reich was sent to an all-male gymnasium in Czernowitz. It was during this period that a skin condition appeared, diagnosed as psoriasis, that plagued him for the rest of his life, causing several commentators to remark on his ruddy complexion. He visited brothels every day and wrote in his diary of his disgust for the women.[22] His father died of tuberculosis in 1914, and because of rampant inflation, the father's insurance was worthless, so no money was forthcoming for the brothers.[23] Reich managed the farm and continued with his studies, graduating in 1915 with Stimmeneinhelligkeit (unanimous approval). The Russians invaded Bukovina that summer and the Reich brothers fled, losing everything. Reich wrote in his diary: "I never saw either my homeland or my possessions again. Of a well-to-do past, nothing was left."[24]

Reich was taught at home until he was 12, when his mother was discovered having an affair with his live-in tutor. Reich wrote about the affair in 1920 in his first published paper, "Über einen Fall von Durchbruch der Inzestschranke" ("About a Case of Breaching the Incest Taboo"), presented in the third person as though about a patient.[21] He wrote that he would follow his mother when she went to the tutor's bedroom at night, feeling ashamed and jealous, and wondering if they would kill him if they found out that he knew. He briefly thought of forcing her to have sex with him, on pain of threatening to tell his father. In the end, he did tell his father, and after a protracted period of beatings, his mother committed suicide in 1910, for which Reich blamed himself.[21]

Death of parents

It is impossible to judge the truth of these diary entries, but Reich's second daughter, psychiatrist Lore Reich Rubin, told Christopher Turner that she believed Reich had been a victim of child sexual abuse, and that this explained his lifelong interest in sex and childhood sexuality.[20]

As an adult, Reich wrote extensively in his diary of his sexual precocity. He maintained that his first sexual experience was at the age of four when he tried to have sex with the family maid (with whom he shared a bed), that he would regularly watch the animals have sex, that he used a whip handle sexually on the horses while masturbating, and that he had almost daily sexual intercourse from the age of 11 with another of the servants. He wrote of regular visits to brothels, the first of which occurred when he was 15 years old, and said he was visiting them daily from the age of about 17. He also developed sexual fantasies about his mother, writing when he was 22 that he masturbated while thinking about her.[19]

His father was by all accounts a cold and jealous man.[17] Both parents were Jewish, but decided against raising the boys as Jews. Reich and his brother, Robert, were brought up to speak only German, were punished for using Yiddish expressions and forbidden from playing with the local Yiddish-speaking children.[18]

Reich was born the first of two sons to Leon Reich, a farmer, and his wife Cäcilie (née Roniger) in Dobzau, Galicia, then part of Austria-Hungary, now in Ukraine. There was a sister too, born one year after Reich, but she died in infancy. Soon after his birth the family relocated to Jujinetz, a village in Bukovina, where his father gained control of a cattle farm leased by his mother's uncle, Josef Blum.[16]

monochrome photograph of a child with a rocking horse
Reich in 1900.


Early life


  • Early life 1
    • Childhood 1.1
    • Death of parents 1.2
  • 1919–1930: Vienna 2
    • Undergraduate studies 2.1
    • Introduction to Freud 2.2
    • First marriage, graduation 2.3
    • Vienna Ambulatorium 2.4
    • Der triebhafte Charakter 2.5
    • Orgastic potency 2.6
    • Rest cure in Switzerland 2.7
    • Sex-pol movement 2.8
    • Die Funktion des Orgasmus 2.9
    • Visit to Soviet Union 2.10
  • 1930–1934: Germany, Denmark, Sweden 3
    • Verlag für Sexualpolitik 3.1
    • Character Analysis 3.2
    • End of first marriage 3.3
    • Vegetotherapy 3.4
  • 1934–1939: Norway 4
    • Bioelectricity 4.1
    • Bion experiments 4.2
    • Opposition to his ideas 4.3
    • Personal life 4.4
  • 1939–1957: United States 5
    • Teaching, second marriage 5.1
    • Orgonomy 5.2
    • Experiment with Einstein 5.3
    • Arrested by the FBI 5.4
    • Purchase of Orgonon 5.5
  • 1947–1957: Legal problems 6
    • 6.1 Brady articles, FDA
    • Orgonomic Infant Research Center 6.2
    • Divorce, cloudbusters 6.3
    • Injunction 6.4
    • Chasing UFOs 6.5
    • Contempt of court 6.6
    • Book burning 6.7
    • Imprisonment 6.8
    • Death 6.9
  • Reception and legacy 7
    • Psychotherapy 7.1
    • Humanities 7.2
    • Popular culture 7.3
    • Science 7.4
  • Works 8
  • See also 9
  • Sources 10
    • Notes 10.1
    • Citations 10.2
    • Bibliography 10.3
    • Further reading 10.4

After two critical articles about him in the magazines The New Republic and Harper's in 1947, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration obtained an injunction against the interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and associated literature, believing they were dealing with a "fraud of the first magnitude."[12] Charged with contempt in 1956 for having violated the injunction, Reich was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, and that summer more than six tons of his publications were burned by order of the court.[n 2] He died in prison of heart failure just over a year later, days before he was due to apply for parole.[15]


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