wilhelm reich: quack or threat?

wilhelm reich: quack or threat?Why was there a heavy-handed attempt to censor the work of Wilhelm Reich? The FDA dismissed Reich’s idea of a life force or Orgone as quackery. Was the FDA protecting the public by destroying all references to Orgone? Reich remains a significant historical figure, once a student of Sigmund Freud, and himself, a noted psychoanalyst. Reich’s work in biophysics and Orgone, however, “…has been stricken from the historical record”.

Reich believed Orgone, an omnipresent energy similar to ether, to be the biophysical basis of Freud’s libido. Orgone is visible to the naked eye, according to Reich, blue in color and responsible for the color of the sky, formation of galaxies and human emotional health. Neurosis, according to Reich, is the obstruction of this energy underlying a character armor that eventually becomes seated in the body to ward off the emotions of others and undesirable emotions from within.

In 1940, Reich constructed his first Orgone accumulator, “… a six-sided box constructed of alternating layers of organic materials (to attract the energy) and metallic materials (to radiate the energy toward the center of the box). Patients would sit inside the accumulator and absorb orgone energy through their skin and lungs. The accumulator had a healthy effect on blood and body tissue by improving the flow of life-energy and by releasing energy-blocks.” Orgone accumulators caught the attention of the Beat generation. William S.Burroughs was a proponent of the research and treated heroin withdrawal with it. Jack Kerouac included a passage about an Orgone accumulator in his book, On The Road, as a sexual stimulant.

Reich believed a depletion of Orgone energy led to cancer. By replenishing the energy, a possible cure was suggested. Reich became a target alongside others who proposed alternative cures. A negative press brought the Orgone accumulator to the FDA’s attention and eventually led to Reich’s imprisonment. In 1952, an unannounced inspection at Reich’s Orgonon research facility in Maine led to an investigation. An injunction was issued by 1954 against interstate transport of the devices. A violation of this ruling led to a 1956 trial, where Reich was sentenced to a year and a day. Just days before Reich was to receive a parole hearing, he passed away from heart failure on November 3, 1957.

An outgrowth of Orgone research was the Cloudbuster (pictured) that enjoyed, at least, anecdotal success. Maine farmers enlisted Reich’s aid, when drought threatened their blueberry crop in this 1953 story. The last book written by Wilhelm Reich, Contact With Space, describes an ongoing siege with UFOs with a last chapter in the desert around Tucson, AZ in 1955. The Cloudbuster became a space gun when radium was added, converting positive Orgone energy to Deadly Orgone (DOR). It was a two front battle against both desert and UFOs. It’s reported in a recent Tucson Citizen article, Reich was able to make the UFOs disappear and facilitate rain in an area without any for five years.

On August 23, 1956, over six tons of Reich’s books, journals and papers were incinerated in New York City by court order in one of the largest and most egregious cases of censorship. Was it a sign of the times, a kneejerk reaction to Reich’s past communist leanings? Alternatively, was Reich a perceived threat by cancer doctors?

Please enjoy a tribute to Wilhelm Reich as seen through the eyes of his son Peter in this 1985 video with Donald Sutherland and song by Kate Bush.

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