Wilhelm Reich was born in 1897 on
his fathers Austrian farm where as Reich himself put it "
The natural functions of life were never hidden from view".
He was taught at home until the age of 13 when his mother
committed suicide after being found out having an affair with
Wilhelms tutor. This early period of his life, and his observations
of to the natural order of things would spark his interest
in the natural world and the human beings place within it.
After serving in the Austrian army during the first world
war the young Wilhelm became interested in the work of Sigmund
Freud. Reich's own work came to the attention of Freud when
Reich held a seminar on Sexology. Wilhelm Reich went on to
become a member of the renowned Vienna Psychoanalytic Association
and later still was able to open his own private practice
as a psychoanalyst.
Soon after setting up his practice,
Wilhelm Reich met and married Annie Pink, and together they
had two daughters. However Dr. Reich was unable to control
his desire for other women and this led to an unhappy marriage
and ultimately divorce. It was from his own life experience
and his understanding of the nature of existence that Wilhelm
Reich studied the science behind sexual attraction and the
He attempted to measure the male
orgasm and noted four distinct phases during which a distinct
electrical charge could be noted. This charge he believed
to be an undiscovered form of energy that was
present in all life forms and he named it Orgone Energy.
T-bacilli - The Cause of Cancer.
In 1936, in Beyond Psychology, Dr. Reich wrote that:
- Since everything is antithetically
arranged, there must be two different types of single-celled
organisms: (a) life-destroying organisms or organisms that
form through organic decay, (b) life-promoting organisms
that form from inorganic material that comes to life.
This idea led Dr. Reich to believe
he had found the cause of cancer. He called the life-destroying
organisms "T-Bacilli," with the T standing for Thanatos,
Greek for death. He described in The Cancer Biopathy
how he had found them in a culture of rotting cancerous tissue
obtained from a local hospital. He wrote that T-bacilli were
formed from the disintegration of protein. He claimed they
were 0.2 to 0.5 micrometer in length, shaped like lancets,
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" or death. 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.
accumulators, Cloudbusters and UFOs.
In 1940 Reich built the first Orgone Accumulators, which were
boxes that could concentrate Orgone energy in the atmosphere.
Some of the accumulators were designed for small lab animals,
others big enough for a human being to sit inside. He now
believed the Orgone energy was a type of Primordial Cosmic
Energy and was responsible for the weather, the color of the
sky, gravity and the biological expressions of emotion and
The Orgone Accumulators were constructed with layers of ferrous
metals and insulators with a high-dielectrical constant. They
had the appearance of large hollow capacitors. Dr. Reich believed
that sitting inside the accumulator might provide a treatment
for cancer and other illnesses. Unfortunately the boxes came
to the attention of the press who's vivid imagination helped
spread rumors that the accumulators were "Sex Boxes"
which cause uncontrollable erections.
Dr. Reich's other famous device was the Cloudbuster which
he said could manipulate streams of Orgone energy in the atmosphere
to induce rain by forming clouds then dispersing them. During
one drought relief expedition to Arizona he claimed to have
observed UFOs and speculated that the Orgone might be used
for the propulsion of UFOs.
In 1941 after having written
to Albert Einstein and saying he had made a discovery he wanted
to discuss, Dr. Reich visited the Professor in Princeton.
They talked for five hours solid and Albert Einstein who's
was intrigued by the idea of Orgone energy agreed to test
an Orgone Accumulator.
Dr. Reich supplied an Orgone accumulator during his second
visit and Einstein began testing it in his basement. A rise
in the temperature within the box was noted with no source
of heat present. This baffled Einstein and Reich claimed it
was the Orgone Energy causing the change in temperature. In
a published letter Einstein could offer no explanation as
to how the temperature had changed. This letter along with
Dr. Reich's belief seemed to be the first step in having Orgone
Energy acknowledged by the scientific community.
However, one of Einstein's colleagues at Princeton, the Polish
physicist Leopold Infeld, interpreted the phenomenon as resulting
from thermal convection currents, though he failed to provide
an experimental demonstration of his contention. Einstein
concurred that the experiment could be explained by convection.
Over the next five years Dr. Reich and Einstein wrote to each
other discussing and disagreeing on the interpretation of
the experiment. What at first seemed to be a confirmation
of the the existence of Orgone Energy turned out to be a depletion
of Dr. Reach own energy.
Turmoil and the FBI
Wilhelm Reich's Ultraliberal
politics met he was constantly in disfavor with the establishment.
Whether it was the Nazis in Germany, The Socialist Parties
throughout Europe and later the Religious Conservative influenced
U.S. Government. This meant his theories which called for
a radical change in both our governing bodies and within our
own homes made him a threat to the system. This was at a time
when his ideas were mainly theoretical, long before he conducted
We can now see how Wilhelm Reich was targeted by the FBI Declassified
documents from 1940 show that Director of the Orgone Institute
was being investigated as a
communist sympathizer. However by 1947 the investigation concluded
that neither Reich, nor anyone associated with the Orgone
Project were Communists.
In 1954, and still seen as a threat to the established system
of the time, the U.S attorney general filed a complaint seeking
a permanent injunction that would stop the interstate transportation
of devices and literature distributed by the Orgone Institute.
That same year, Dr. Reich was arrested for a Contempt of Court
for violation of the Attorney General's injunction.
Imprisonment of the Father of Orgone Energy.
After being found in contempt of court
Dr. Wilhelm Reich was brought in chains to the courthouse
in Portland, Maine. Representing himself, he admitted to having
violated the injunction and arranged for the judge to be sent
copies of his books. He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment.
While in prison, the FDA (food drug administration) who had
investigated Dr. Reich as being a "purveyor of a quack
cure cancer" arrived at Dr. Reich's estate Orgonon. They
ransacked the place destroying Orgone accumulators, and burning
tons of literature relating to Orgone energy.
Reich died in his sleep due to heart failure on November 3,
1957 in the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania,
one day before he was due to apply for parole. He was buried
Not one of the Psychiatric publication carried an obituary
for Dr. Reich. The Times magazine published the following:
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 which supposedly gathered energy from the atmosphere,
and could cure, while the patient sat inside, common colds,
cancer and impotence.
Reich's life and work continue to influence popular culture,
with references to Orgone and cloudbusting found in songs
by Clutch, Hawkwind, Pop Will Eat Itself, Turbonegro and
Patti Smith. Kate Bush's song, "Cloudbusting,"
describes Reich's arrest and incarceration through the
eyes of Reich's son, Peter, who wrote his father's story
in A Book of Dreams, published in 1973. Frank Zappa was
also influenced by Reich's work..
Reich and Orgone Energy Resources.
Links to external websites:-
Orgonon - The Wilhelm Reich Museum.
Orgonomic Research Exchange.
Biophysical Research Laboratory.
College of Orgonomy.
- The Science of Massfree Energy.
FBI Files on Dr. Wilelm Reich.
English Books by Dr. Wilhelm Reich:-
American Odyssey:Letters and Journals 1940-1947
Beyond Psychology:Letters and Journals 1934-1939
The Bioelectrical Investigation of Sexuality and Anxiety
The Bion Experiments: On the Origins of Life
Function of the Orgasm (Discovery of the Orgone, Vol.1)
The Cancer Biopathy (Discovery of the Orgone, Vol.2)
Children of the Future: On the Prevention of Sexual Pathology
Contact With Space: Oranur Second Report
Cosmic Superimposition: Man's Orgonotic Roots in Nature
Ether, God and Devil
Genitality in the Theory and Therapy of Neuroses
The Invasion of Compulsory Sex-Morality
Listen, Little Man!
Mass Psychology of Fascism
The Murder of Christ (Emotional Plague of Mankind, Vol.2)
The Oranur Experiment
The Orgone Energy Accumulator, Its Scientific and Medical
Passion of Youth: An Autobiography, 1897-1922
People in Trouble: Emotional Plague of Mankind, Vol.1)
Record of a Friendship: The Correspondence of Wilhelm Reich
and A.S. Neill (1936-1957)
Reich Speaks of Freud
Selected Writings: An Introduction to Orgonomy
The Sexual Revolution