In my medical research into the infectious cause and origin of cancer, I never
imagined I would become enmeshed in the strange world of Wilhelm Reich. For two
decades I had studied the work of scientists linking bacteria to cancer, but
never once did I come across Reich’s important experiments with the deadly
“T-bacilli” that he discovered in cancer.
I first learned about Reich in 1982 from Lorraine Rosenthal who heads the Cancer
Control Society in Los Angeles. Her mother worked in his laboratory in the
1950s, and Lorraine was sure his cancer work was related to my cancer microbe
research. She recommended I read Reich’s two most revolutionary books: The Bion
Experiments on the Origin of Life (1938) and The Cancer Biopathy (1948). These
two volumes provide valuable and fascinating insights into the origin of the
cancer cell and his discovery of cancer “T” bacteria.
During his life, Reich was portrayed as a mad psychiatrist and scientist who
advocated free love, abortion, communism, and a multitude of other so-called
perversions. The medical establishment regarded him as quack who tried to dupe
the public into believing he had a cure for cancer. Eventually the US government
took legal action to suppress Reich’s research, and the closing years of his
life were filled with tragedy. Persecuted and hounded by the government, he was
finally sacrificed on the altar of science.
Who was Wilhelm Reich? And why was he condemned for his beliefs? Was he merely a
crack-pot psychiatrist? Or was he one of the greatest and most misunderstood
scientific geniuses of the twentieth century?
Reich’s Sex Experiments and Orgone Energy
Reich was born on
March 24, 1897, on a small farm on the eastern outreaches of the
Austro-Hungarian empire in what is now known as the Ukraine. At age twelve his
childhood was shattered by his mother’s suicide. Provoked by marital unhappiness
and infidelity, and beatings by her husband, she swallowed a kitchen poison.
Reich watched her die a slow and agonising death. His father died of
tuberculosis in 1914, and twelve years later his only brother also died of TB.
Orphaned at age 17, Reich entered the Austrian army and experienced the
brutality of World War One and the ensuing breakup of the Austro-Hungarian
After the war he resumed his studies in Vienna and entered medical school. He
was a brilliant student who developed a strong liking for the new speciality of
psychiatry. At age twenty-three he became one of Sigmund Freud’s prized
associates and began private practice as an analytic psychiatrist.
As a pioneer in the study of human sexuality, he used novel experimental methods
to examine, analyse and measure various aspects of physical lovemaking. He
concluded that the ability to love was dependent on one’s physical ability to
make love with “orgastic potency.” Reich coined this term to denote a kind of
super-lovemaking in which the mental, physical and emotional aspects of
sexuality were all functioning at a high level. Experimenting with electrical
stimulation of erogenous zones, he showed that sexual feelings of touch,
pleasure, and pain could all be measured in the laboratory.
The physiologic process of erection of the male penis provided the beginning
formula for Reich’s great scientific discoveries. Before male orgasm, he noted
four distinct and separate processes that had to take place physiologically.
First is the necessary psychosexual build-up or “tension.” Second, the “charge”
that accompanies tumescence of the penis, which Reich measured electrically.
Third, the electrical “discharge” at the moment of orgasm. And fourth, the final
“relaxation” of the penis.
Reich observed these four essential stages (tension, build-up, discharge and
relaxation) in all aspects of life forms he examined. In the orgasm process of
sex, he discovered a unique energetic life force that pervaded all nature. Reich
named this force “orgone energy.”
With Freud’s professional support, Reich quickly rose to the highest ranks of
academia. His classic book, Character Analysis (1933), recounts his original
contributions to psychiatry and introduces Reich’s novel concept of “body
armoring.” Reich discovered that unreleased psychosexual energy could produce
actual physical “blocks” within the muscles and organs of the body. These blocks
act as an unfortunate “armor” preventing the release of blocked sexual energy.
The orgasm, along with the convulsive body spasms which accompany orgasm, is the
mechanism through which “orgone energy” is released by the body.
Reich believed a healthy and loving sex life is everyone’s right. In fact, he
considered a good sex life absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of
the body. He stressed that the social and political ills of the world stemmed
largely from society’s repression of sexuality. This repression leads to
unhappiness, depression, and the inability to express joyous sexual love. For
countless people the sexual energy is blocked because of personal body armoring.
As a result of this armoring, such people often fall victim to various aspects
of the “emotional plague.”
In his practice of analytic psychiatry Reich broke with tradition. Instead of
sitting passively, notebook in hand while his patients talked, Reich took an
active role in the therapy. He frequently touched his patients, felt their
chests for breathing, and repositioned their bodies. Sometimes he badgered and
goaded them to physical action. In order to observe their body response during
analysis, he sometimes insisted that all or part of the clothing be removed. Men
were often reduced to shorts; women to bra and panties. Reich’s colleagues
publicly protested against these unorthodox and radical psychiatric practices,
and his most vociferous opponents accused him of immorality.
Reich, Communism and the Nazis
As a young man in
post-war Vienna during the 1920s and 30s, Reich was active politically.
Disliking the anti-sexual right-wing conservatives and repelled by the
fanaticism of the fascists, he migrated to Marxism and the sexual freedom
proclaimed by the communists. Although Reich was a sex expert, his expertise did
not carry over to the state of matrimony. In 1922 he married Annie Pink, a
psychiatrist. Their first child Eva was born in 1924, and a second daughter in
1928. No matter how hard he tried, it was impossible for Reich to conform to
marital convention and the marriage was chaotic.
In his writings the outspoken Reich went so far as to propose that a series of
romantic relationships (“serial monogamy”) was a better alternative to marriage.
In The Function of the Orgasm (1927) he declared: “Marriage is only one of the
many issues where social scientists go astray, especially since they fail to see
marriage for what it really is – a sexual union, based primarily on genital
love. They prefer to ignore that fact and merely view it as an economic union or
means to perpetuate the human race. Actually very few people marry for money or
to have children; marriages of today really limit peoples’ freedom and may lead
to economic deprivation.”
For professional, political, and social reasons, Reich moved his practice to
Berlin in 1930. He joined the German Communist party, convinced the sexual
freedoms of Marxism would liberate the common man and foster his mental health.
As a spokesman for the Party, Reich advocated free contraceptives, birth
control, abortion on demand, and sex education in schools.
By 1933, Reich’s marriage was on the rocks and he was already in another
passionate love relationship. The German communists were increasingly
disenchanted with the controversial Reich due to some of his outrageous ideas on
sexual-political matters. The Party finally expelled him. He was also in a
career crisis. His psychiatric writings and left-wing political activities
became progressively more out of tune with Freud’s ideas and their relationship
cooled considerably. In a supreme blow to Reich’s career, the Psychiatric
Association revoked his membership.
All this personal turbulence was compounded by the rise of Hitler and Nazism.
The Nazi press damned Reich as a radical psychiatrist, an anti-Nazi communist, a
womaniser, and a Jew. Berlin was no longer safe. Disguised as a tourist on a ski
trip to Austria, he luckily got out of the city by the skin of his teeth.
Returning to Vienna, he soon realised he was no longer professionally welcome
there either. He emigrated to Denmark but soon became embroiled in disputes with
Danish communists. From there, he relocated to Sweden, but was again harassed by
the authorities. Finally, through the help of Norwegian colleagues, he secured
residence in Oslo, where he had a new laboratory and enough money to continue
By 1934 Reich’s divorce was finalised. Escaping the Nazis, Annie and his
children resettled in Austria. Reich was madly in love with Elsa Lindenberg who
had dutifully followed him in his exodus to Austria, Denmark, Sweden, and
finally to Norway. In Norway he was determined to continue his research into the
orgone life force that he had discovered in his orgasm experiments.
Experiments and the Origin of Life
began simply by close microscopic examinations of the smallest form of cell life
known to man: the so-called “protozoa.” Reich marveled at the squirming amoebae
that developed from his grass and water “infusions.” Swimming in his microscopic
preparations, the one-celled organisms were seemingly structureless blobs, yet
they were also exceedingly complex forms that ate, digested, contracted,
expelled, and multiplied. He playfully applied a small electric current and
watched the protozoa contract and elongate.
During the years 1934-1937 Reich was totally absorbed in his experiments on the
origin of life. His preparations consisted of infusions of various substances,
such as grass, beach sand, earth, coal, iron fillings and animal tissue. He
tested various combinations and added potassium, gelatin and other biochemicals
to the mixtures. Boiling the preparations resulted in a marked increase in the
number of “vesicles” that could be cultured.
After much experimentation, Reich concluded the cultured vesicles were
intermediate “transitional” forms which were “midway between life and non-life.”
“Dead” inorganic substances (such as sand, earth, and coal) gave birth to
vesicles which pulsed with life. Reich named these energetic vesicles “bions.”
He suspected bions were a heretofore unrecognised elementary stage of life.
After cooling the boiled bion cultures, he poured some of the boiled material
onto laboratory nutrient culture media designed to grow ordinary bacteria. An
unbelievable phenomenon resulted: the boiled bion cultures gave birth to
peculiar-looking bacteria, and amoeboe!
To eliminate the possibility of contamination, Reich heated the cultures to the
intense, flaming, glowing temperatures of incandescence (150 degrees
Centigrade), and repeatedly sterilised his lab culture media by autoclaving it
at a high temperature (180 degrees Centigrade) and pressure. At the time it was
thought no known bacteria or any other life forms could possible survive such a
high temperature and pressure.
Reich believed he had discovered an indestructible life force that defied death.
He concluded: Bions are preliminary stages of life; they are transitional forms
from the inorganic and non-motile – to the organic, motile, and culturable
When Reich’s The Bion Experiments On the Origin of Life was published in Oslo in
1938, the book created a furore. His critics latched onto one paragraph in the
book that intimated Reich might have inadvertently found a cancer cure. Reich
wrote that preliminary studies showed bion-like structures could be cultured
from human blood and “bion research proved particularly fruitful for an
understanding of cancer.” He was attacked by the scientific and lay press as a
“Jew pornographer” who was tinkering with life and promoting a quack cancer
Instead of discouraging him, the attacks lured him deeper and deeper into orgone
research. Reich was determined to prove, beyond doubt, the reality of the new
life energy forms he had discovered.
Cancer and Reich’s Bions
accusations surrounding the publication of The Bion Experiments goaded Reich
into trying to solve the mystery of cancer. Weeks earlier he had placed some
sterile cancer tissue (provided by the surgeons at a local hospital) into flasks
containing liquid nutrient broth. Now in his anger, he scurried around to
retrieve the bottles. To his astonishment, “all these cultures showed a
green-blue coloration. Taking material from the margin, [Reich] inoculated a new
agar plate and saw, for the first time, the T-bacilli, the discovery of which
would help break down the mystery surrounding the cancer problem.”
The finding of bacteria in cancer filled Reich with a curious mixture of fear
and awe. With fear because he knew that solving the secrets of cancer would be a
Herculean task, further antagonising the medical establishment against him. With
awe, because he intuitively knew these bacilli were involved in the agonising
cancer deaths that affected countless millions. After much study, Reich named
his newly-discovered cancer microbes “T” bacilli, after the German word “Tod”,
The years 1934-1937 in Norway were Reich’s happiest. The bion work was
exceedingly productive, and he was deeply in love with Elsa Lindenberg. In
August 1938, Hitler annexed Austria. Miraculously, Annie and his children had
emigrated to America the month before. Reich’s lingering presence in Norway
increasingly angered the authorities, and the newspaper attacks against him were
Aggravated by depression and bouts of jealously and pettiness, his relationship
with Elsa cooled. An American colleague strongly urged Reich to emigrate to the
United States. In August 1939, on the last boat to leave Norway before the war,
Reich left for America. Half-heartedly he had asked Elsa to come, but their
tempestuous love affair was over and beyond repair. By this time Reich was also
completely disillusioned with the communists and their false promises and their
perversion of Marx’s humanitarian ideals. Never again would their philosophy
interest him, and he became an ardent anti-communist.
When he embarked for America, Wilhelm Reich was no longer young. He was 42 years
old and he would again be a stranger in a strange land. He rented a house in
Forest Hills, Long Island, and soon began a new love affair with Ilse Ollendorf,
who was extremely helpful in assisting him with his research. They were married
in 1946 and Ilse bore him a son, Peter.
The cancer work continued with the T-bacilli proving to be the key to the origin
of cancer. Reich’s experiments showed that all life contains orgone energy and
when this energy diminishes in the cells, either through injury or aging, the
cells undergo a death process that Reich termed “bionous degeneration.” As a
consequence of this degeneration, the deadly T-bacilli begin to form in the
Reich could demonstrate these bacteria microscopically in living (and unstained)
cancer cells. Cultures of T-bacilli injected into mice caused inflammation and
eventual death from cancer. The T-bacilli that formed in the cells provoked a
reaction in the tissues resulting in the formation of vesicular swellings.
Microscopically, these vesicles gave off a bluish glow, and Reich called them
“blue PA bions” because they resembled the clumped “PAcket” bions that were
experimentally produced when he heated substances (such as grass and coal) to
In degenerating cancerous tissue, the blue PA bions seriously affected the
orgone energy of the cells. In other mouse experiments, Reich injected blue
bions into the tissue and observed the resulting cancerous cell changes and the
development of actual protozoa. These cancerous changes were similar to what had
occurred in Reich’s earliest experiments during the death process of cut blades
of grass immersed in his water infusions. First the tissue cells swelled and
formed vesicles; and eventually transformed into protozoa.
Reich found that cancer cells have less orgone energy than normal, healthy
cells. As the energy-depleted cancer cells break down and degenerate into
T-bacilli, putrefaction of the body occurs. It is the overwhelming infection
with T-bacilli and the massive breakdown of cancer tissue that causes most
deaths from cancer. Cancer is literally death in the living body.
Reich discovered T-bacilli not only in the cancer tumours, but also in the
blood, the body fluids, and the excreta of cancer patients. He originally
thought the T-bacillus was the specific infectious agent of cancer. But these
cancer microbes were eventually found by Reich in persons with other diseases –
and Reich also observed the T-bacilli in the blood and excreta of normal healthy
The blood of cancer patients produced T-bacilli easily and quickly. In contrast,
normal blood produced the bacilli slowly. Reich concluded “the disposition to
cancer is therefore determined by the biological resistance of the blood and the
tissues to putrefaction. This biological resistance, in turn, is itself
determined by the orgone energy content of the blood and tissues, which is to
say, by the organotic potency of the organism.”
Reich in America,
the Oranur Experiment, and Orgone Energy
Reich’s early years in America were comparatively quiet compared to his
turbulent years in Europe, but his biomedical activities did not go unnoticed by
the authorities. In December 1941, under the guise of subversive activity, the
FBI arrested Reich and detained him at Ellis Island for three weeks. The exact
reasons for the arrest were never made clear, but the harrowing experience
further embittered him against his real and imagined enemies.
Along with his cancer discoveries, Reich had first noticed biological energy
radiating from a beach sand bion culture in his Oslo lab back in January 1939.
Now, in America, Reich would follow his hunches that would lead him to discover
a new energy pervading the entire planet.
Reich and his lab co-workers frequently experienced headaches, irritability, and
other unpleasant psychological and physical effects when working with certain
radioactive bion cultures. It was theorised the beach sand had absorbed
considerable quantities of radiation from the sun. When the sand was
experimentally heated to incandescence (1,500 degrees Centigrade), Reich
believed the solar radiation energy contained within the sand was released.
Whatever the reason, there was no doubt orgone radiation was real and bion
cultures had to be handled with extreme care because of their radioactivity.
In July 1940 Reich discovered orgone energy in the atmosphere! In order to study
the effects of this radiation, he designed a specially-constructed box to house
and concentrate this energy. Boxes were constructed to house lab animals.
Eventually larger boxes were constructed in which a person could sit
comfortably. Reich was interested in determining the effect of atmospheric
orgone energy on humans, particularly persons with far-advanced and incurable
forms of cancer.
It was this “orgone accumulator box” and its use in human cancer experimentation
that caused the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin an intensive
investigation of Reich’s scientific activities in the late 1940s. There were all
sorts of rumours that the accumulator was a “sex box” which induced
uncontrollable erections and stirred up intense and immoral sexual passions. As
a result, Reich was harassed and intimidated by the authorities. Condemnatory
articles in the professional and lay press added fuel to the fire by alluding to
Reich’s mental problems and his sex-tinged research.
In the early 1940s Reich bought a summer house and acreage in Maine. He dearly
loved the clean air, the clarity of the atmosphere, and the peacefulness of the
place. A research lab was eventually built on the site, and in 1950 he moved
permanently to the site he named Organon. He was fifty-three years old and tired
of the stress of his psychoanalytic practice. Over the years his continuing
practice had helped tremendously to support Reich’s studies and family, but now
he wished to devote the remaining years of his life exclusively to orgone
At Organon a dangerous experiment began. Reich was deeply concerned with the
planetary dangers unleashed by atomic warfare at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in
the early 1950s it was feared the Korean War might provoke another nuclear
holocaust. Reich believed orgone energy could be harnessed as a possible
antidote for nuclear radiation. He began testing the effects of orgone energy
(OR) on nuclear energy (NR), and named the experiment “Oranur.”
During the Oranur experiment, radioactive radium was brought to Reich’s lab and
housed in a special room containing orgone energy. The slow mixing of the two
energies produced a nuclear chain reaction with devastating consequences. As a
result of this nuclear accident, Reich learned that nuclear energy drastically
changes orgone energy – converting it into “deadly orgone energy” (DOR). The
laboratory accident seriously affected the physical, mental, and emotional
health of Reich and his co-workers and necessitated a complete shut down of the
lab until the dangerous radiation levels cleared.
Reich’s daughter, Eva, almost died in the mishap. Eva had been estranged from
her father for years, but after finishing medical school, she joined him at
Organon to help with the Oranur experiment. The stressful changes wrought by
Oranur, and the increasing harassment by the FDA, put Reich under great
pressure. He was never quite the same again.
The experiment undoubtedly contributed to Reich’s worsening relationship with
Ilse. The marriage become more and more stormy as he tormented Ilse with
accusations of infidelity and was physically abusive. Few people understood the
clinical nature of feelings and emotions better than Reich; and yet he could be
cruel, unyielding, and insanely jealous in his love relationships. He preached
sexual freedom for all but he practised a sexual double standard in marriage
that allowed him to be unfaithful, but never his mate.
While Reich was immersed in the problems of Oranur, Ilse developed uterine
cancer. She was convinced her cancer was connected with the radiation
experiments at Organon. While she convalesced from surgery, Reich cruelly filed
for divorce. After it was finalised in September 1951, he began another
relationship. The following month he suffered a major heart attack.
According to David Boadella’s biography of Reich, “The Oranur experiment had
exposed Reich and all those who worked with him to severe strains. The remainder
of his life was to be devoted to working on the many problems that the
atmospheric chain reaction provoked by Oranur opened up, and it was particularly
unfortunate for Reich that just at the time when he was struggling to cope with
the dislocation to the normal activities of the Institute, he should become
victim of a sustained campaign to belittle, discredit and attack his work on
Book Burning and Imprisonment
attacks by the FDA, Reich pursued his experiments undaunted. He built a “cloud
buster” in order to affect the orgone energy in the atmosphere. In the Arizona
desert he induced rain by forcing clouds to form and disperse. Like a god, he
began to control the forces of nature, as no one before him had ever done.
He was convinced the scientific world would recognise the value of his work and
would appreciate the great benefit orgone energy could bring mankind. Long
before such subjects were popular, Reich was concerned about toxic waste,
nuclear energy, and planetary pollution; he knew their detrimental and damaging
effects on the atmospheric orgone energy. He was sure the FDA would never
destroy his research which held so much promise for the planet and its healing.
Reich also had implicit faith in the fairness of the American legal system. He
fully believed that American justice would never allow his important work to be
Whether from ignorance or arrogance, or both, Reich severely underestimated the
power of the FDA and the campaign against him. In February 1954 the FDA issued
an injunction forbidding the interstate shipment of orgone accumulators. The
injunction also denied the existence of orgone energy, and proclaimed all
Reich’s books and publications were promotional materials for the worthless
As demanded by the terms of the injunction, Reich foolishly refused to appear in
court. He was adamant his scientific work could never be properly argued or
evaluated in court. His legal counsel pleaded with him to reconsider, but he
stood firm in his position. His unyielding decision had disastrous consequences.
The FDA won the injunction by default.
The legal maneuverings culminated in a trial that took place in Portland, Maine,
in May 1956. Reich was arrested in Washington, DC, on contempt of court charges,
and was forcibly brought to Portland in chains. His refusal to cooperate with
the court did not bode well with the judge.
Time was running out for Reich. Years earlier he had been abandoned by the
psychoanalytic establishment. The communists drummed him out of the Party, and
the Nazis wanted him dead. He had offended the Austrians, the Danes, the Swedes
and the Norwegians. Now the Americans would have the opportunity to destroy the
mad psychiatrist and his new god of orgone.
Reich was finally done in. He had played into the hands of his enemies, and now
they had him where they wanted him. Reich was sentenced to two years in federal
Before imprisonment, the FDA had its final vengeance. On June 5, 1956, FDA
officials came to Organon. Reich and his young son Peter watched in silence as
the federal officials axed the accumulators. On June 26, Reich’s many books and
journals at Organon were burned by government authorities. On August 23 in New
York City the final destruction of Reich’s literature took place. Six tons of
books, journals and papers were burned in a scientific holocaust. And not a
single major newspaper in the Land of the Free protested this unprecedented
action, so reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
In early March 1957 Reich was imprisoned at Danbury Federal Prison. The
psychiatrist who examined Reich recorded the diagnosis: “Paranoia manifested by
delusions of grandiosity and persecution and ideas of reference.” A few weeks
later, Reich was transferred to the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg,
The United States government won. Officially, orgone energy did not exist. Reich
was certified as a mentally ill, quack psychiatrist who tried to foist a sex box
and a cancer cure on the American public. The Reich affair was terminated.
In his prison cell towards the end of October he began to feel poorly, but he
was afraid to bring the matter to the attention of the prison officials. He told
friends that his jailers would try to kill him in prison, and believed he would
never get out alive. On November 3, 1957, Reich was found dead in his cell, an
apparent victim of a heart attack.
The body was taken
to Organon for burial. A small band of loyal followers, including Ilse, Eva, and
Peter, paid their last respects. Elsworth Baker, M.D., who had studied with
Reich for eleven years, gave the eulogy. “Friends, we are here to say farewell,
a last farewell to Wilhelm Reich. Once in a thousand years, nay once in two
thousand years, such a man comes upon this earth to change the destiny of the
human race. As with all great men, distortion, falsehood, and persecution
followed him. He met them all until an organised conspiracy sent him to prison
and there killed him.”
Years later, Dr. Baker also wrote: “Reich’s attitude, in fact his entire life,
was unconventional and as difficult for the world to understand as were his
discoveries. Many legends, probably even religions, will develop about him.
Already, some people look upon him as a superman who could not err, or as a
spaceman come to earth; others have rationalised and written articles attempting
to prove him insane, a charlatan, or a fraud, He was very human, natural, and
open, and foremost, a great and genuine scientist. He could be as soft and warm
as a summer breeze or as violent and angry as a thunderstorm.”
Was he a genius or a madman? For those who consider Reich an enemy of the
people, his official sins are duly recorded in the dusty archives of office
buildings in Vienna, Berlin, Copenhagen, Oslo and Washington. For those willing
to take the time to investigate Reich’s writings, a different sort of man
It is my feeling that Reich desperately wanted to show the world God existed in
the realm of the orgone. Through the study of orgonomy, Reich believed man and
science could prove, beyond doubt, that God is real. Like God, the orgone is
indestructible. And like God, orgone energy exists everywhere in the universe.
Man’s spirit constantly reflects the orgone, eternally imbued with new life
rising from the ashes of death.
Almost a half-century after his death, his scientific legacy persists. Reichian
(Orgone) therapy is practised by some psychiatrists and psychologists. The
American College of Orgonomy publishes the Journal of Orgonomy devoted to his
work, and maintains a web site (
www.orgonomy.org ). Reich’s laboratory and burial place at Organon is now a
Museum with a bookstore open to the public. Cloud-busting followers like Jim
DeMeo have established an Orgone Biophysical Research Laboratory in Ashland,
Oregon. The lab conducts yearly seminars reproducing Reich’s bion experiments
and demonstrating Reich’s blood test procedures.
Reich’s T-bacilli are obviously connected to still controversial and current
bacteriologic findings of so-called nanobacteria, pleomorphic bacteria,
cell-wall-deficient bacteria, and mycoplasma. In addition, newly discovered
bacteria have been found in the blood of all human beings. All of these
microbial life forms have been implicated as possible cancer-causing and
In some ways Reich was childlike and surprisingly naïve. His downfall was
overestimating the goodness of science; and underestimating the dark forces of
science. In human terms, he paid for this error with his life.
Science, as we know it, is becoming increasingly “dark.” As this new century
begins, scientists continue to discover all sorts of new ways to kill mass
numbers of people and other living things with chemical, biological, and nuclear
warfare. Perhaps it is time to take another look at Reich’s discoveries and his
dream to harness orgone energy for planetary healing. Rather than automatically
placing Dr. Wilhelm Reich in the trash bin of medical science, he might
eventually prove to be the most inventive and far-sighted physician-scientist of
the twentieth century.
Baker EF: "My eleven years with Reich". Journal of Orgonomy 18:155-171, 1984.
Boadella D: Wilhelm Reich: The Evolution of His Work. Vision Press, Chicago,
Cantwell AR, Blasband RA: "Bionous tissue disintegration in AIDS". Journal of
Orgonomy 22:220-228, 1988.
Cantwell AR: The Cancer Microbe. Aries Rising Press, Los Angeles, 1990.
Cantwell AR: "Bionous breakdown in degenerative disease". Journal of Orgonomy
Cantwell AR: "Bacteria, cancer and the origin of life". New Dawn, November 2003,
Reich W: The Bion Experiments on the Origin of Life. Ferrar, Straus and Giroux,
New York, 1979.
Reich W: The Cancer Biopathy. Ferrar, Straus and Giroux, NY, 1973.
Reich W: Passion of Youth; An Autobiography, 1897-1922. Ferrar, Straus and
Giroux, New York, 1988.
Sharaf MR: Fury On Earth: A Biography of Wilhelm Reich. St. Martin’s Press/Marek,
New York, 1983.
Alan Cantwell MD is a retired physician and cancer researcher who believes
cancer is caused by bacteria and AIDS is man-made. There is probably no other
physician on the planet whose publications are as controversial. Many of his
published writings can be found on google.com; and thirty of his published
papers can be accessed at
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/ (type in Cantwell AR).
In 1984 (the year HIV was discovered), his book AIDS: The Mystery and the
Solution was published, showing the presence of cancer-associated bacteria in
this syndrome. And in 1990, The Cancer Microbe: The Hidden Killer in Cancer,
AIDS, and Other Immune Diseases was published, which documented a century of
suppressed cancer microbe research. His other books are AIDS & The Doctors of
Death and Queer Blood: The Secret AIDS Genocide Plot.
Dr. Cantwell is now happily retired from the clinical practice of dermatology
for 10 years. He lives in Hollywood, California, with his partner of 30 years,
and their five cats. To contact him, write: Aries Rising Press, PO Box 29532,
Los Angeles, CA 90029, USA. Email:
with his wife Ilse and their son Peter, who wrote A Book of Dreams about his
close relationship with his father, how they would go cloudbusting together, and
his bewilderment when Reich died in prison when Peter was 13 years old.
Who was Dr. Wilhelm Reich
has history tried so hard to erase him?
by Jerry Morton
From the March 2003 Idaho Observer:
Before dismissing what you are about
to read, consider that the FDA did everything in its power to eliminate the
knowledge of orgone energy from the world because, it claimed, "it doesn't
exist." If orgone energy does not exist, it is, therefore, not a threat, is
it? Rather than ignore this thing that does not exist, the FDA effectively
sentenced Dr. Wilhelm Reich to death and, for at least a decade, actively
pursued a campaign to destroy all the books, notes and research papers it
could find containing the word "orgone." Judging by the government's
actions, orgone energy does, indeed, exist.
Dr. Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) is
still noted historically for his work in psychiatry and psychoanalysis.
However, Dr. Reich's work in biophysics has been stricken from the
In the mid 1930s Dr. Reich began
noticing an energetic connection that is shared by all living beings and had
the clarity of mind to not dismiss the observation as unimportant. Dr. Reich
called this energy "orgone" and worked for decades demonstrating its laws
and studying its various manifestations. His work encompassed 40 years
within six countries but in the end he suffered the indignity of seeing his
life's work banned in America and tons of his books and journals burned by
the U.S. food and Drug Administration per bureaucratic decree. It was a
brazen act of censorship that is overlooked today within the texts of
Prior to his orgonomic research, Dr.
Reich had earned an international reputation as a scientist of integrity.
Once, after he had demonstrated orgone energy to Albert Einstein, the famous
physicist exclaimed that, "this would be a bombshell to physics."
Dr. Reich spent his last days in
prison falsely labeled a quack and a racketeer by the American government
and the American medical system.
Wilhelm Reich was born in Austria in
1897 as the son of a rather wealthy farmer and, as was the common at that
time, he was home schooled first by his mother and later by a number of
tutors. He excelled in his studies because of his intelligence and also, in
part, out of fear of his father's horrible temper that would erupt over
something as trivial as an incorrect answer in his studies.
Reich's family was tragically
dysfunctional and, at age 13, his mother poisoned herself to flee the abuse
of Reich's violently-tempered father. Four years later, Reich's father died
of pneumonia -- a financially destitute and lonely man. Reich, at 17, ran
the farm himself for a short time after his father's death but the property
was destroyed by WWI in 1915.
After serving in the Austrian army
on the Italian front, Reich began attending classes at the University of
Vienna and graduated in 1922 as a doctor of medicine.
While studying for his doctorate,
Reich became a protégé of Dr. Sigmund Freud and soon after graduating became
the clinical assistant at Freud's Psychoanalytical Clinic where he, himself,
became a pioneer in psychoanalysis.
In his book, "Character Analysis"
(1933), Dr. Reich detailed a biological basis for neurosis and provided a
step toward the discovery of the cosmic orgone energy. During the years
1936-1939, Dr. Reich conducted experiments concerning the idea of airborne
infection. He showed that microorganisms form themselves from inorganic
material and disintegrating organic substances. He proved where airborne
germs came from and demonstrated the absurdity of the commonly held "air
germ" theory. It was during these experiments in 1939 that Dr. Reich
accidentally discovered radiation particles which he later named orgone.
An assistant had mistakenly taken
the wrong container from the sterilizer and heated the substance within it
to incandescence. The substance was common ocean sand and, when cultured and
inoculated on an egg and agar medium, yielded a yellow growth. When viewed
under high magnification this growth was seen as vesicles (he called them
SAPA bions) that glimmered an intense blue color that, in time, would grow
and then move about.
As he continued to experiment with
these "bions" he noticed that when he placed live cancer cells next to them
the cells would die. It was during days of observing these phenomena that
Dr. Reich came down with an extreme case of conjunctivitis and his eyes
became very sensitive to light. He noticed that it affected his eyes the
most when he was looking at these vesicles through his microscope.
During the course of this work in
the winter of 1939, Dr. Reich also noticed that he had developed a suntan
under his clothing and he knew he was being exposed to some type of
radiation and it greatly worried him. He used a radium electroscope to test
the culture tubes and it gave no reaction. It took a few weeks for him to
realize that this newly noticed radiation (that he had named orgone) was
Taking his SAPA bions into the
darkness of his basement and waiting for two hours he noticed his hair and
clothing emitted a blue glimmer and that the room was filled with a hazy,
slow-moving, gray-blue vapor.
Over time, Dr. Reich demonstrated
that the orgone radiation was the same energy that the sun gave off and that
the incandescing and swelling of the sand had released this energy once
again from its material state. He was forced to this conclusion by the facts
before him but he admitted having to overcome great emotional reluctance in
Further experiments showed that this
ever-present orgone would be repelled by metal objects and absorbed by
organic material. By making a box with alternate layers of organic (wool)
material and metal, Reich found that he could accumulate a more concentrated
field of orgone. He called these boxes "orgone accumulators" and they had a
major role in his experimentation with orgone.
Nearly 15 years later, the American
government made an attempt to wipe the very word "orgone" from the English
vocabulary, by banning the accumulator and destroying Dr. Reich's books and
Dr. Reich was able to watch orgone
in the various forms it would take on within an accumulator. The forms were:
A bluish-gray, fog-like formation; deeply blue-violet luminous dots or;
whitish, rapid rays.
He was also able to demonstrate and
measure orgone with a thermometer and an electroscope as well as with a
What astounded Dr. Reich was the
fact that for over two thousand years the presence of this orgone energy was
overlooked or argued away whenever a scholar attempted to describe what he
What Dr. Reich discovered is nothing
short of the energy responsible for the biological, orgiastic pulsation of
life on Earth (and possibly the universe). Rather than embracing Dr. Reich's
discoveries, the collective (politically-motivated) scientific community
responded with levels of anger and derision that bordered on hatred; rather
than conducting investigations of their own and furthering the knowledge of
orgone energy for the betterment of mankind, the (politically-motivated)
scientific community led the charge to destroy any documents that even
mention the word "orgone." And then the (politically-motivated) scientific
community destroyed Dr. Reich.
Though a meticulous researcher and
prolific scientist, Dr. Reich saw himself as only a pioneer in the field of
orgonomy (the science of orgone) and likened himself to Christopher
Columbus. In his book, "Ether, God and the Devil" (1950 and 1951), he said
that, as Columbus did not discover New York City or the resources on the
west coast of America, but rather a stretch of seashore that was up to that
time unknown to Europeans, so he only discovered the orgone energy of
orgiastic plasma pulsations. This phenomena, being the common etheric
energetic thread coursing through all life forms, represents a universe of
discovery of which Dr. Reich located only one small shoreline.
The object of the
(politically-motivated) scientific community's opposition of Dr. Reich's
work was his "orgone accumulator." The orgone accumulator, a "box" large
enough for a person to sit in and constructed of alternating layers of
organic and inorganic substances, was used to successfully treat his
patients for various maladies. In his book "Cancer Biopathy" (1948), Dr.
Reich recreates his carefully documented work regarding the treatment of
several cancer patients deemed hopeless and terminal by orthodox medicine.
Several of his cancer patients were "cured" but, being the careful man of
science he was, Dr. Reich was careful not to declare orgone treatment as a
cure for cancer.
After a lengthy harassment campaign
by the FDA over the medical use of orgone that began in the mid 40s, Dr.
Reich died in prison in 1957.
All of his books and papers were, by
federal decree, burned up through 1962 and may have continued on a lesser
scale until 1970. The government of the United States had declared that
orgone did not exist and orgone was the only word that was necessary to
appear in print to qualify the material as worthy of destruction.
During the course of his varied
orgone experiments, Dr. Reich touched upon many aspects of science. Among
these, the disciplines of medicine, physics, cosmology and meteorology. He
discovered atmospheric orgone and noticed that, in the presence of
pollutants of various kinds, including electromagnetic emissions, the orgone
would become stagnant and cause illness and environmental damage.
Dr. Reich called this "stagnant"
orgone, "dead" orgone or "DOR." The effects of DOR would often be that of
drought and the formation of deserts.
To counter the effects of DOR, Dr.
Reich added long pipes to an orgone accumulator box and pointed it skyward
to help balance the atmospheric orgone and bring rain. He called this device
a "cloud buster."
In one experiment starting in
October, 1954, Dr. Reich was successful in bringing rain to the desert
around Tucson, Arizona. Even before the rain fell the newly-balanced orgone
had caused the grass to grow a foot tall in the desert. This green spectacle
stretched some 40 to 80 miles to the east and north of that city. It took
tremendous skill to use the cloud buster because it drew the dead orgone
into the device and could pose serious health problems to both the operator
and the atmosphere itself.
The ability to safely use the cloud
buster died with Dr. Reich and remained buried for half a century. Science,
good or bad, historically moves forward of its own inertia-a scientist dies,
another scientist picks up his notes and continues where he left off. Not so
with orgonomy. It wasn't until almost 50 years after the
(politically-motivated) scientific community sentenced Dr. Reich to death
and erased the memory of his work from history that a new and improved cloud
buster would be developed.
Self-taught bioelectric innovator
Don Croft of has recently developed a modern cloud buster he claims is safe
for both the operator and the environment.
Dr. Reich touched upon many aspects
of the cosmic orgone energy and knew that it would take many people to
develop the many potentials of its nature. In 1948 a close friend of Dr.
Reich by the name of A.S. Neill stopped by Reich's laboratory, called
Orgonon, in the state of Maine. He saw a small motor turning over that was
attached to an orgone accumulator. He said that Reich cried out with great
joy, "the power of the future!"
When later asked if he had developed
that power source any further Reich is reported to have said that his job
was one of discovery and he was going to leave it to others to carry out the
Note: The IO understands the
controversial nature of orgone energy. Though one cannot see or smell it,
sensitive equipment can measure it. Therefore, it exists -- regardless that
the FDA determined it did not exist in 1954.
Our contemporary controversy,
therefore, has nothing to do with whether or not orgone energy exists
because the federal government's non-scientific wishing it away doesn't make
so. The controversy is the modern adaptations of orgonomy and claims by a
growing circle of people who believe that Reich's work provided a foundation
for positive changes in our embattled world.
One has to wonder if those who
worship the "DOR" and revel in its ability to cause misery recognized
Reich's discoveries as a direct threat to their globalist intentions. Is
that recognition the power behind the campaign to ruin the man and erase the
memory of his orgonomic research from history?
The answer becomes obvious when you
place into perspective what the government did to Reich. It killed him at
the age of 60 for continuing to research, without FDA approval, something it
claims does not exist; when asked to prove orgone energy does not exist, it
refused to provide the science that supports its claims or the identity of
those who conducted the experiments and reached that conclusion.
Those who have ever taken a high
school-level biology class understand the scientific method and can
determine that Dr. Reich was sent to his death by a government that ignored
science to make a political point for all those who may wish to explore
orgone energy: Do not.
Most IO readers understand energy;
that good energy that produces good things (like sunshine, positive
thoughts, healthy food and healthy bodies) occupies higher vibrational
frequency ranges and bad energy that produces bad things (rot, disease,
unhealthy food and negative thoughts) occupy lower vibrational frequency
It follows, therefore, that a world
saturated in low frequency vibrations will produce a world filled with
anger, hostility, disease and death.
What kind of world do we live in
Ah, success. Because the U.S.
government has managed to keep low, through a variety of socio/political
maneuvers, the vibrational frequencies within which Americans operate, our
people are sick, angry, frightened and living in chaos -- the environment
most conducive to totalitarian control.
Dr. Reich's work evoked the wrath of
the baby totalitarian state. It killed him to send a message to scientists
that orgone energy is off limits for further study. In the absence of
scientists developing beneficial applications for orgone energy, the
totalitarian state has come of age.
Now it appears we have nothing left
to lose -- the pretense of freedom is gone (all that remains is the illusion
of freedom being kept alive in the minds of dwindling numbers of Americans).
As the totalitarian police state
emerges, its emissions of dead, stagnant energy from
exponentially-increasing sources (both organic and inorganic) is also
increasing. Rising to the challenge are groups of people who have picked up
Dr. Reich's work and are running with it.
Next month we will continue this
story with the adventures of those who claim to be using orgone energy to
replace bad energy with good.
A small candle, when lit, can, all
by itself, overcome darkness where the same amount of darkness cannot
similarly affect light. The same is true when it comes to good and bad
energy. That's why bad energy must have outside help from government and its
duplicitous minions to prevail.
Those who have chosen to expand upon
Reich's work believe they can prove to a candid, if not doubting world, that
the following ills can be corrected by the proper application of techniques
that harness orgone energy. They believe in their ability to prove how
properly directed orgone energy will neutralize bad energy emissions from
cell towers, chemtrails and angry people. They also believe they can
reproduce Dr. Reich's experiments and bring rain to drought-ridden areas.
Can they direct orgone energy to
accomplish these things? My own personal skepticism has been extreme for
many months. However, a few things have happened to cause my skepticism to
waver and my hope begin to grow.
Besides, we haven't much else to
lose. Wouldn't it be marvelous if something as simple as overcoming bad
energy with good is the antidote for all the evil which has so saturated our
modern world? Isn't it also just like God to set things up to be so simple
even his human children can do it? (DWH)
Whatever happened to William
by Don Harkins
As Dr. Reich indicated, he only
discovered the shoreline of what could lead to a universe of potential
applications for orgone energy. Though we may never know which potential
application caused the federal government to sentence Dr. Reich to death and
zealously seek out and destroy all references to his work, a clue may be
found in the mysterious fall, 1948 disappearance of William Washington.
Reich biographer Harvard graduate
Myron Sharaf (Fury on Earth: A Biography of Wilhelm Reich ), also
pictured in the white shirt in the center of the photo at left [in the IO
newsprint edition], claims to have met “Bill” at the University of Chicago
when they were both freshmen in 1944. Sharaf explains that Bill began
working with Dr. Reich in the summer of 1947 to help him with the
mathematics of developing an orgone energy motor. “When he left Orgonon in
fall, 1948, he took the motor set-up with him in order to work on further
refinements. He was supposed to return to Orgonon in early summer, 1949, but
he did not appear, nor was there any word from him,” wrote Sharaf.
Sharaf and Dr. Reich checked out
some of the stories Bill had told them about his past and previous
employment. “None of these stories proved true,” Sharaf noted.
Dr. Reich was able to speak to Bill
on the phone once in late summer, 1949. Reich, a lifelong student of the
human mind, deduced that Bill was hesitant in his speech because he was
being monitored by some outside force, probably the federal government, a
conclusion not shared by Sharaf. “Washington was never heard from again,”
Ola Raknes, Ph.D., had observed the
orgone-force motor in action and saw that the theory was valid.
Unfortunately, no further research into this area was conducted after Bill
left Orgonon. “This would be an extremely important area of orgone energy
research,” Raknes observed in 1970.
We should begin construction of
the Museum of Federally-Buried Technologies so we can dream about what the
world would be like if problem-solving intelligence was celebrated instead
Did the FDA ban evil's antidote
Dr. Wilhelm Reich, MD, died at the
age of 60 after serving eight months of a two year prison sentence. Since
his death, tremendous energy has been expended to erase his memory from
history. One must ask, “Why?”
The following paragraph, taken from
the book, “Wilhelm Reich and Orgonomy -- The great psychologist and his
controversial theory of life energy,” by Ola Raknes, Ph.D, of Norway (1970),
sets the stage for answering that question: “The existence of such energy is
still contested -- or at least neglected -- by practically all scientists
who have not themselves made the observations and experiments, and had the
experiences, that form the basis of the discovery. An American Federal Court
has even, in March, 1954, in a Decree of Injunction, declared Orgone Energy
to be nonexistent, without, however, giving the facts on which the
Injunction is said to be based. In a correspondence with the present writer
[Raknes] the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on whose complaint the
Injunction was decreed, said that experiments executed with the most modern
equipment and methods by experienced scientists had proved the nonexistence
of orgone energy. None of these experiments has ever been published, and in
further correspondence, the FDA refused to divulge the names of those
scientists or any of the experiments on which the complaint was said to be
based. As Dr. Reich did not obey the injunction he was arraigned for
contempt of court and sentenced to two years in the penitentiary. He died in
prison after not quite eight months.”
Dr. Reich, a world-renowned
psychologist and protégé/contemporary of Sigmund Freud, was sent to prison
at age 60 to die because he insisted upon continuing his research into
orgone energy -- in defiance of a federal injunction that resulted from the
FDA's apparently unscientific opinion that orgone energy did not exist. All
Reich's books were banned and those that were found were burned by the FDA.
Any printed matter that contained the word “orgone” was subject to the ban
and burning by the FDA per the injunction. The injunction was still holding
The question now becomes, “What is
If it did not exist, why did the
federal government behave so militantly in its attempts to remove all
mention of it from the world of print and the minds of people? Why did the
federal government give a death sentence to a well-respected old man for
insisting upon continuing his studies of something that doesn't even exist?
The federal government has used its
authority to ban many viable and useful technologies. Should we accept the
FDA's position that orgone energy doesn't even exist or is it in our best
interests to take another look at Dr. Reich's work and his controversial
theory of life energy? More importantly, can orgone energy be used to help
neutralize the negative energies that so permeate our modern world?
What is orgone energy?
Dr. Wilhelm Reich was first a
protégé and then a contemporary of Sigmund Freud. Most people associate
Freud with his belief that the manifestations of being human are directly
related to sexual repression or expression.
As Dr. Reich's work began pulling
away from that of Freud, he became intrigued with identifying the specific
form of energy that made sexual expression possible. He discovered that the
formula of function that led to an orgasm was the common formula of function
for all biological processes in all living matter: tension ® charge ®
discharge ® relaxation.
Dr. Reich isolated the particle
responsible for this formula and named it “bion.” He was also able to
culture bions from inorganic matter and, quite accidentally, solved the
riddle of biogenesis: He discovered the mechanism whereby lifeless
substances transition to living matter.
He later named the energy that
resulted from bionic activity “orgone.” It's properties can be summarized as
follows: 1. Organic substances attract and absorb orgone energy; 2. Metallic
substances attract and repel or reflect orgone energy; 3. Stoppage of orgone
energy by any metallic obstacle as well as by a sensitive living organism
will result in a rise in temperature
[Ola Roakes, Ph.D, Wilhelm Reich and
"There is no proof. There
are no authorities whatever. No president, Academy, Court of Law, Congress
or Senate on this earth has the knowledge or power to decide what will be
the knowledge of tomorrow. There is no use in trying to prove something
that is unknown to somebody who is ignorant of the unknown, or fearful of
its threatening power. Only the good old rules of learning will eventually
bring about understanding of what has invaded our earthly existence."
The invasion that Reich refers to in his introduction to CONTACT WITH
SPACE is the invasion of earth by intelligences from outer space. Very few
copies of this remarkable book were made available, and Reich's
extraordinary experiences during this turbulent period have been swept
under the carpet by 'orthodox' orgonomy.
To speak openly of UFO experiences still invites ridicule or polite smiles
of disbelief. Consider then the atmosphere of the mid 1950's when Reich
was not only claiming the existence of space visitors, but carefully
documenting his battle with these 'invaders', while developing his now
well- known cloudbusting techniques.
Reich termed the space craft Ea - 'E' standing for 'Energy', 'a' for alpha
or primordial. Ea also represented 'Enigma'...
"Ea is a new event without precedent in our lives," he writes. "Humanity,
with the exception of a few philosophers, had no idea of the possibility
of visitors from outer space. Earthman had not developed any view, method
or scientific tool to cope with the problem. In addition he has developed
in his offspring a character structure and a kind of thinking which
obstructs the approach to the new fact by way of ridicule, slander and
outright threat to the existence of the pioneer of space engineering.
Therefore our new approach must start from scratch, as if no science
existed at all."
Reich's ability to 'start from scratch' had characterized his
revolutionary approach to psychoanalysis early in his career, long before
he left the restrictive climate of Europe to pursue his ideas in 'free'
America. He is best known for his research into the fundamental
life-energy and for his controversial methods of sex therapy. His greatest
contribution to real science was his discovery (or re- discovery) of what
he called 'orgone', the life energy at the very roots of existence.
Blockages in the free flow of this energy in the individual caused
'character armoring' which inhibited the spontaneous expression of joy and
pleasure in life. The nature of this cosmic energy, depending on
circumstances, functioned either as a 'life giving, life furthering, and
reproductive force (OR), or in the absence of such conditions, turns into
a killer of Life (DOR)."
During his orgonomic research Reich was able to measure this orgone energy
and he successfully treated many patients in the orgone accumulator, a
specially layered box wherein the life-energy was concentrated. It was
this unorthodox method of treatment which brought down the wrath of the
Food and Drug Administration upon Reich, an attack which finally secured
his imprisonment, and death, in a federal penitentiary.
"Orgone energy does not exist," the FDA officials said to the Judge.
Having declared that Cosmic Energy did not exist, it was obvious that its
discoverer must either be a "quack" or a "lunatic". That, after all, is
the rationale of orthodox, mechanistic science chained to its conceptions
of a dead universe.
For Reich, the Universe was very much alive and his approach to scientific
research was functional, taking into account the subjective perceptions
and emotions of the researcher. After all, he writes, "Classical knowledge
may all be wrong, such with the perfect Copernican circles, the ellipses
of Kepler, the empty space of Einstein, the airgerms of Pasteurian
bacteriologists, the atomic nature of the Universe, etc. To see new things
from scratch, to expect the impossible to be true, belongs to the
emotional equipment of the true pioneering scientist."
"We shall no longer hang on to the tails of public opinion or to a non-
existent authority on matters utterly unknown and strange. We shall
gradually become experts ourselves in the mastery of the knowledge of the
THE FIRST CONTACT
"From the historic Oranur Experiment of 1951, Reich knew that nuclear
radioactivity had a deleterious effect upon the living sea of energy in
which we all live. From the observations made of the reaction of a
milligram of radium put inside an Orgone Energy Accumulator, Reich knew
that there was an antagonistic relationship between the energy of life
(Ether, Prana, etc...) and the manmade nuclear energy so recently
unleashed upon the planet. The effect of the nuclear 'irritant' seemed all
out of proportion to the physical amount of radioactive material. The
distance of this irritating and wildly exciting Orgone anti-Nuclear effect
seemed to reach much farther than the actual radioactivity of the nuclear
material would indicate. Perhaps, Reich reasoned, the Orgone Energy was a
continuum; and this anti-nuclear reaction of the life energy (Oranur)
extended and perpetuated itself in a chain reaction fashion far beyond the
original limits of the nuclear radiation." (1)
The development of the Cloudbuster was a response to the aftermath of the
Oranur Experiment. Around Reich's Oranur laboratory near Rangeley, Maine,
the atmosphere became polluted with DOR (Deadly Orgone Radiation). The
black and bleak DOR clouds were remarkably similar to what would later be
called air pollution or smog. These clouds were present even in the midst
of sunshine, and where they gathered the atmosphere felt 'suffocating',
the sky seemed to lose its sparkle and animals and humans felt lethargy
and other symptoms of malaise.
Not only were the DOR clouds a noxious presence, but a black powdery
substance poured down onto the area, a substance that Reich came to
directly associate with the presence of Ea in the skies above Rangeley. It
was here that UFOs began to appear, big yellow and reddish pulsating
'stars' which were easily discernible from the planets and bluish colored
Previous to this Reich had no experience with UFOs and had never studied
the subject. Now he was faced with a direct confrontation. Some nights
there would be 3 or 4 Ea hanging in the sky above Orgonon. They would make
the atmosphere black, but by mobilizing the cloudbuster Reich was able to
clear the air and make the sky blue again. It was under these peculiar
conditions that the 'Spacegun' came into existence, and the war with Ea
"I made actual contact by way of the cloudbuster with luminous objects in
the sky on May 12, 1954...During this hour men on earth saw for the first
time in the history of man and his science two "Stars" to the west fade
out several times when cosmic energy was drawn from them." "Easy contact
was made on that fateful day with what obviously turned out to be a
heretofore unknown type of UFO. I had hesitated for weeks to turn my
cloudbuster pipes toward a "star", as if I had known that some of the
blinking lights hanging in the sky were not planets or fixed stars but
SPACE machines. With the fading out of the two "stars", the cloudbuster
had suddenly changed into a SPACEGUN...what had been left of the old world
of human knowledge after the discovery of the OR energy 1936-40 tumbled
beyond reprieve. Nothing could any longer be considered 'impossible'. I
had directed drawpipes, connected with the deep well toward an ordinary
star, and the star had faded out four times."
Reich had first hesitated on using the spacegun on the Ea, considering the
possibility of them being some kind of American craft, but the situation
became so intolerable with the noxious OR influence, that he finally
decided to. He found the power of the Oranur Spacegun tremendous due to
the sensitivity of the OR energy ocean. The energy equilibrium of Ea could
be disturbed or even put out of order by withdrawing energy from it
directly. The affected Ea seemed at first to struggle, pulsating
erratically, then shrink and even fade out completely. But the space
visitors seemed to be retaliating by increasing the DOR pollution in the
"There was no doubt left as to the purposefulness of the activities of Ea:
Energy was being drawn from the planet, with the consequences known now,
1956, far and wide as 'DOR-emergency'; decay of vegetation, the crumbling
of granite rock, a feverish atmosphere. OR energy laws, mostly unknown to
us earthmen, were used technically in the Ea operations."
A detailed report on the Ea problem was forwarded to the American Air
Force who appeared to be 'burningly interested' in the subject, but not
To further test the correlations between Ea and the desert forming DOR,
Reich and the cloudbuster crew made their preparations to go to the fully
developed desert, and the OROP Desert Expedition was underway.
SURVEY ON Ea
A simple chart Reich made to differentiate between stars and UFOs hovering
high in the sky. Certain facts about the appearance of the UFOs such as
their noiselessness, their shimmering lights, sometimes bluish in
appearance, rotating discs underlying their motion, fell into place with
some of the facts Reich knew well from cosmic OR functioning:
The 'CORE MEN' (CORE = COSMIC ORGONE ENGINEERS), as he came to call them,
apparently were thoroughly conversant with the laws of functioning in the
cosmic OR energy ocean. They used cosmic OR energy in propelling their
machines. Their 'blue lights' were in agreement with the blue color
characteristic of all visible OR functions, sky, protoplasm, Aurora,
sunspots, the color of OR lumination in vacor tubes, etc. The CORE MEN
were obviously riding their space ships on the main OR energy streams in
the Universe. Just as space is not empty, light does not 'come down to us
from the stars and the sun'. It is an effect of lumination in the OR
energy envelope of the planets. It is a local phenomenon.
Therefore, there is theoretically no limit to speed in cosmic space, and
the Ea were able to achieve tremendous speeds.
Driving across country to Arizona where the expedition would make its
base, Reich closely observed the atmospheric conditions. DOR tended to
concentrate over cities and became more pronounced as they entered the
desert regions. Here it was observed to sink down into the valleys and
hover low over the landscape like a ceiling. The tops of distant mountain
ridges were seen to project clearly above the DOR shell, like islands
above the ocean, and on these peaks the primal vegetation was still alive;
while the lower vegetation, covered by the low-lying DOR blanket, died
off, leaving only desert in the valleys - especially in the areas near
atomic testing sites.
Reich described the mountain ranges as being "eaten out", gnawed at by DOR
as if a monster were feeding on the rock itself. The DOR functions were
characterized by "a silent, invisible and inaudible gnawing away and
insidious consumption of the life force of a host or organism."
"The process of disintegration of trees and whole forests is due to
progressive DOR prevalence in the atmosphere. A slight DOR prevalence
causes dryness, dryness in turn increases DOR. Thus, in a vicious circle,
the water-hunger grows together with diminishing precipitation. The
process is slow and not easily discernible. Not much is known about its
secret attrition of life."
"It has great significance for the mastery of our future, that DOR surplus
causes deserts in the landscape as it does in the organism. Desert souls
will enhance desert development; and desert development will increase DOR
or staleness in human emotions."
DOR is hungry for nourishment, for water, for oxygen. As the DOR increases
it vampirizes its host, in this case the abundant life energy indigenous
to the planet.
Reich observes that "the pestilential character shows the same type of
behavior. He saps juicy, emotionally rich people, deprives them of their
strength, akin to the behavior of a tapeworm, within the host victim. The
pestilential character thrives on the energy loss in the victim, but in
the end he perishes with the host. From here to sociological conclusions
regarding the secret dynamics of political dictatorship is only a logical
step: from here, too, a bridge can be built toward understanding the
connection between desert development on our planet and visitors from
outer space. These visitors are using fresh cosmic energy for their
locomotion and pour the slag, DOR, into our atmosphere. Whether this is
being done on purpose or by accident does not matter as far as the effects
upon life are concerned."
Reich foresaw the complete destruction of life upon mother earth looming
on the horizon, unless DOR energy could be reverted again into OR or Life
OROP DESERT Ea
"Life holds only a narrow wedge as its own domain in the infinite vastness
of cosmic energy."
The desert around Tucson Arizona was chosen for Operation OROP, one of the
hottest and oldest deserts (25,000 years) of the U.S. There was no primary
vegetation growing; there had been no rain for five years. By October,
1954, the base was operating.
It was not the primary objective of the expedition to "make rain over
rainless desert". Reich had no ambition to impress anyone with rain
making. Rather he wanted to find the borderline where their artificial
efforts at a new atmospheric technology could end "and be replaced by the
self- regulatory, self-sustaining laws that governed the behavior of cloud
formation, rain cycles, cosmic energy metabolism in the atmosphere, etc,
as they do in the living organism."
He had observed that the living organism apparently metabolizes freshly
taken in OR energy into DOR, which is expelled in the form of CO2, urine,
feces and sweat. In the healthy organism the energy equilibrium between
the charge and the discharge was easily maintained, however, during
sickness more OR seemed to change into DOR. Thus, Reich concluded, a
prevalence of DOR would be a basic feature of all disease.
Subjectively Reich and his co-workers experienced the DOR atmosphere in
the desert as oppressive and irritating, with the blinding heat seeming to
draw the juice and life energies out of their bodies.
"Thus, having seen and felt the desert, Expedition OROP proceeded to begin
cloudbuster operations, in order to find out whether such a climate could
"With cloudbusting operations, much DOR was removed and fresh Orgone
Energy was brought in from the Southwest (along the Galactic Orgone
Stream). The immediate result was a freshening of the atmosphere and
environment: gone was the parching dryness and gone was the blinding
whiteness of the sky. Rainmaking was not the goal; in fact, noticeable
results occurred prior to any rain falling on the dry, sandy desert floor.
By November, the barren desert north of Tucson began to turn green with a
fine growth of new grass! In December, the greening of the desert had
spread to cover an area 40 to 80 miles from Tucson with new grass up to
one foot high! This happened without any rain falling, due solely to the
fresh atmospheric Life Energy and attendant moisture from the Pacific
Ocean, 250-400 miles to the Southwest."(1)
The arrival of denatured Radium (ORUR), from the Oranur experiment at
Rangeley dramatically increased the effectiveness of the cloudbusting
operations. "While the clearing of the atmosphere had previously been done
by drawing off the DOR clouds into a lake, now, within a few seconds,
using ORUR material, the sky cleared and became blue...The change in the
atmosphere was immediately felt by all observers. Even dirty steel-gray,
DOR-affected rain clouds seemed to fill up and become white in a
brilliant, formerly dull, stale atmosphere."
However, Ea were also observing the operations. Whenever the familiar
pulsating craft were seen in the sky, the rain clouds disappeared and
severe DOR infested the atmosphere, making conditions extremely unpleasant
for the crew. If the Spacegun was not used, the atmosphere became
unbearable. One operator at a Spacegun was paralyzed by DOR while drawing
from an Ea. Reich wrote: "There was no escape from the fact that we were
at war with a power unknown to man on earth."
But the ORUR was found to be extremely effective in combatting the Ea
menace. "One could now reach far into space with ORUR: the range was
limitless theoretically, since the OR energy ocean is endless and most
sensitive to stimuli as demonstrated by the processes of dawn, dusk, and
our actual operations over vast stretches of space."
Another DOR-creating problem was atomic testing within the desert region.
Reich was later to consider the possibility of immunizing the atmosphere
against atomic explosions, much as living systems are immunized against
infection. By creating a highly 'orurized' atmosphere, he reasoned, the
DOR energy from atomic blasts or from Ea could be siphoned off. It was
noticed that during the ORUR operations, there were 'coincidentally' many
publicly announced postponements of atomic tests.
It became apparent to Reich that although there was moisture in the
atmosphere, the lack of actual rainfall around Tucson was due to a DOR
barrier somewhere west of the experimental site in Arizona, preventing the
clouds and moisture flowing in from the Pacific. The barrier was found to
exist on the Sierra mountain divide, where a concentration of DOR was
breaking up and dissolving the rain clouds coming in from the west.
By March 1955, continuous DOR removal operations were set up just to the
west of the divide. Within two weeks the barrier was breaking up with a
black precipitate form of DOR ("Melanor") falling to the ground and
turning the white sand dark. By the end of March rain began to occur in
the desert. The breaking of the DOR barrier had accomplished the full
breakthrough of fresh OR energy into the desert basin.
The expedition was successful. The atmosphere had undergone a radical
change, breaking a five year drought and turning completely barren desert
land into green pasture again after thousands of years.
It proved conclusively to Reich that desert development was clearly and
doubtlessly reversible, that through a new kind of orgone technology,
humanity could convert life-destroying energy back into life-sustaining
Winding up his affairs, Reich left the desert in April 1955. It was to be
his last major operation. Within two years he was to die in prison,
destroyed by a system that could not tolerate the free expression of
live-giving energy. But the Enigma remains...
(1) 'The New Age' by Klark Kent, The Journal of Borderland Research,
May-June 1987. CONTACT WITH SPACE by Wilhelm Reich, Core Pilot Press, New
York, N.Y. 1957. THE WILHELM REICH MUSEUM, PO Box 687, Rangeley ME 04970.
FURY ON EARTH by Myron Sharaf, St. Martin's Press, New York. 1983.
Like Wilhelm Reich,
his biographer and fellow orgonomist Myron Sharaf died of a massive heart attack
- on the 13th of May, 1997, in Berlin, Germany. It seems appropriate to recall
once again the stunning achievement which emerged out of Sharaf's devotion to
his mentor Reich in the writing of this passionate yet thoroughly detailed and
We reprint this
review, which first appeared in the English journal Energy & Character in
April, 1986, as a way of honoring both Sharaf and the fallen leader whom he so
FURY ON EARTH,
A Biography of Wilhelm Reich
by Myron Sharaf
Paperback, St. Martin's
Press, NY (1983)
Reviewed by Mary M.
I can hardly do better in
characterizing this powerful new (1983) and, I believe, definitive biography of
Reich than to quote some of the comments of reviewers which appear on the back
cover of the paperback edition:
Remarkable and moving
biography of Wilhelm Reich....Mr. Sharaf's deep emotional engagement, in
constant battle with his urge for objectivity, conveys a powerful sense of
what it must have been like to know Reich, to experience him and his work as
The New York
Times Book Review
Reading Myron Sharaf's
passionate biography of his charismatic mentor and colleague is like being
engulfed in an ancient drama about heroic intention. True to its literary
analog and human source, Fury on Earth ends in catharsis. I felt like
crying upon closing it.
Post Book World
Sharaf...is able to
see his subject as he was seen by others - by wives, lovers, children,
friends, and enemies. ... I am tempted to say that Sharaf's admiration for
Reich is entirely functional: it has inspired him to devote long years to the
reconstruction of a life that more skeptical minds would have found unworthy
of the effort, and yet, miraculously, it has not interfered with his ability
to recount that life so that even non-Reichians can appreciate it.
- The New
I cite these reviews partly
because they speak eloquently to Sharaf's achievement in terms with which I need
not compete, but also out of an acute sense I experience of the demand for
historical redress so profoundly needed in the circumstances of Reich's own
life. It is this elemental dimension of injustice, of cosmic imbalance crying
out for rectification so poignantly captured by Sharaf which both disturbs and
stimulates my sensibilities. His faithful recounting of the life and work of
this captive giant of a man whose categories of awareness and of life are still
too large for us Lilliputian human beings addresses a paradox well understood by
Sharaf and both understood and ignored by Reich himself - a paradox which I see
as essentially the crux of this biography as characterized by its title and the
quotation by James Agee from which the title was taken. In its entirety, Agee's
quotation is as follows:
Every fury on earth
has been absorbed in time, as art, or as religion, or as authority in one form
or another. The deadliest blow the enemy of the human soul can strike is to do
fury honor. Swift, Blake, Beethoven, Christ, Joyce, Kafka, name me a one who
has not been thus castrated. Official acceptance is the one unmistakable
symptom that salvation is beaten again, and is the one surest sign of fatal
misunderstanding, and is the kiss of Judas.
- James Agee
Let Us Now
Praise Famous Men
The title of Sharaf's
biography, plus the glowing responses of Sharaf's reviewers to his biography
illustrate the point he is making - that praise of Reich, who was so calumniated
during his lifetime, hounded to a premature and lonely death in prison, may
indeed be a poignant tribute to the life and work of a great man which is long
overdue, but at the same time, is a form of cooptation and thus of taming, of
"castrating," if you will, a living, moving presence which was too disturbing
while Reich was still alive to be acceptable to these same sorts of
"authorities," of popular taste-makers, to say nothing of those professionals
whose peer, whose natural leader Reich might have - ought to have - been!
I find it supremely ironic
that the review from The New Republic should have been included among
these reviews, in the light of the crucially vicious role played by this
periodical in Reich's final fate, if for no other reason than that it provided
an inspiration and source of conviction of righteousness to the man who directed
the course followed by the Federal Department of Agriculture in pursuing Reich
to his death in prison. The poetic perspicience of Reich's own personifications
of that persecution by terms like "HIG" ("Hoodlums in government") and "Modju" (
a combination of the first syllables of the names of Mocenigo, the betrayer of
Giordano Bruno and Djugashvili, Stalin's real name), idiosyncratic, even
symptomatically neologistic, as it might appear to a classical Freudian, becomes
acceptable to us in the context of this sympathetic history. I may be reading in
an ambivalent note in the latter review, but it strikes me as such, using such
phrases as "more skeptical minds would have found unworthy of the effort" and
"even non-Reichians can appreciate it," which seem to me to be damning with
faint praise - not, to be sure, the biography, perhaps, but, I suspect, its
subject, even after all these years. Shades of the emotional plague, even if not
on a conscious level!
Sharaf's second quotation
concerns the other great paradox of both Reich's and the lives of many other
great innovators and therapists, a role which Rollo May has characterized as
that of "the wounded healer" who, like the shaman, is able to heal because of
his woundedness, not in spite of it; whose greatness is directly related to the
fact that that woundedness demands a creative response - either that or
When confronted by a
human being who impresses us as truly great, should we not be moved rather
than chilled by the knowledge that he might have attained his greatness only
through his frailties?
Following this notion, it is
Sharaf's awareness of the meaning of the "interwovenness" between the events of
Reich's life and his response to them as a source of his creative, restless,
moving energy, which struggled both to resist and to encompass each such event,
which informs this recounting of that life and sets it apart from other accounts
of it. Citing the approach of one of Reich's biographers as falling into the
trap of "psychoanalytic reductionism" in attempting to characterize it in terms
of the tragic circumstances of its early years, Sharaf demonstrates great
sensitivity to the demands of that life for depiction in terms large enough to
avoid reducing his subject in any way, and thereby remains faithful to the man
Throughout his lifetime, as
Sharaf demonstrates clearly, Reich was both aware of and blind to the
manifestations and implications of his own life circumstances. As is true of us
all, both Reich's awareness and his blindness presented him with potential entry
points into an enlarged understanding of the human condition, and ultimately, of
the life energy itself. This, as Sharaf understands so well, is Reich's genius
which made the difference between him and the rest of us "little men." Instead
of being guiltily daunted by the implications of his own deficiencies or
liabilities, throughout his lifetime he pursued these leads unstintingly and
with great scientific exactitude, tracking down the life energy which he named "orgone"
through all of its multitudinous yet unitary manifestations, from the most
elementary particles of emergent life which he discovered and called "bions,"
through the entire biological kingdom and beyond, to the "empty" realm of outer
space itself. One may call Reich's refusal to belittle himself through guilt
"psychopathic," or even "megalomaniacal," as the psychoanalysts did, but no
label one might be tempted to apply can contain the spirit or the
accomplishments of so large a nature, as Sharaf has understood very well.
Reading this biography allows us also to understand it.
Sharaf repeatedly points out
the fact that Reich's far-ranging pursuit of the life principle was consistently
systematic, led throughout its course by the internal logic of the investigative
process itself and by the very nature of the "stuff" under investigation, which
refused to stop at the boundaries of each discipline through which he pursued
it. The search, starting for Reich from his first glimpse, in his teacher
Freud's libido principle, of the "energy of the sexual instinct," a concept
which would serve to bridge the gap between the "mechanistic" and the "vitalistic"
models of life, neither of which had seemed to him a satisfactory one by itself,
was thus a logical progression of effort to resolve each issue raised by his own
observations as it presented itself to him in the contrast between his own
experience and observations and the proposed explanations offered by others.
Freud's concept of the libido
as the energy of the sexual instinct made more sense to Reich, fitted his own
experiences more closely, than did the purely empirical description of life he
had been offered in his medical training. It appealed to him initially as
providing a dynamic and affectively significant focal point for understanding
and making changes in the manner in which his patients functioned, as
exemplified by Freud's own work of psychoanalysis. It also provided Reich with
the impetus for pursuing Freud's initial suggestion - namely, that it ought to
be possible to demonstrate a proof of the objective, quantifiable reality of
this hypothesized energy, a project which seemed to Reich eminently worthy of
Sharaf is here pointing out to
us the manner in which Reich approached the solution to problems and/or
challenges as they arose naturally throughout his lifetime. Always, he started
with a topic which was of vital interest to him, both on a personal and a
professional level. Then he compared the views of others with his own natural
response. The pattern Reich followed in this instance, the issue of how to view
sexuality, is indicative of the pattern of his work throughout his life.
Comparing his own views with those of the psychoanalysts, Reich was struck
immediately by the contrast. Sharaf quotes Reich's comment on this in The
Function of the Orgasm.
Sexuality, in my
experience, was something different from the thing they discussed. Those first
lectures by the analysts and others I attended made sexuality seem bizarre and
A quotation from Reich's diary
of March 1, 1919, which Sharaf also cites in this connection, elaborates the
point, and as well, Reich's way of thinking about issues:
Perhaps my own morality
objects to it. However, from my own experience, and from observation of myself
and others, I have become convinced that sexuality is the center around which
revolves the whole of social life as well as the inner life of the individual.
Reich's confidence in his own
natural reaction allows him to stand back from these views of the
self-proclaimed experts and to formulate a hypothesis which he will then use as
a basis for further investigation. Whatever problems he encounters in this
context, whether objective or personal, built into the investigation or created
by the pursuit itself in its opposition to what has previously become
established doctrine he will weave into a furthering of the conditions whereby
his creative, always simple and unitary solutions to such problems will emerge.
Sharaf seems to me to be suggesting that one principal explanation for the utter
disbelief, condemnation, and ridicule with which Reich's findings have until now
been greeted by most members of the scientific community rests in their very
simplicity and unity. How can it be, runs the argument, that the numberless
complexities and intricacies we have been explicating all these centuries could
possibly be reduced to so ubiquitous yet so irreducible a principle as the
concept of "life energy"? Surely, this is vitalism, not science! And surely, we
laid this ghost to rest centuries ago!
Sharaf's presentation of the
progress of Reich's work and life, which details graphically just how the two
interacted with one another, is a marvel of "interweaving" in itself. He moves
from a general characterization of each period in Reich's life - e.g.,
Part I The Viewpoint of the
Part II The Development of
the Mission - 1897-1920,
Part III Reich as Insider -
Building a Career and Marriage, 1920-1926,
and so on, into the
particulars of each period. In some periods, such as Part III, the work takes up
most of the section and Reich's personal life only a small part. In others, the
historical chronology of the period is more important. In each section, the
organization of the material reflects the actual pattern of the life being led
during that period of Reich's life.
This might seem, at least
potentially, a chaotic or discontinuous way of presenting Reich's work, diluting
or obscuring the logic of its sequentiality, but Sharaf does it so skillfully
and with such loving and faithful clarity and detail, sifting, looking at every
aspect of each issue raised by those events, giving each differing view of the
circumstances its due, yet without in the least compromising the integrity of
the work itself, that a portrait of the man in all his complexity, strength and
force of character emerges more and more vividly from the on-going narrative,
and the inextricability of the work from the life of the man becomes evident, as
well as the other way around! A couple of examples may help to make this
Take, for instance, Sharaf's
handling of the oft-repeated charge against Reich that he was in the early years
of his psychoanalytic period a superior and gifted analyst whose latent paranoia
and grandiosity became more and more crippling, increasingly affecting the
quality of his judgment and his work, ultimately terminating in his "going off
the deep end" and becoming messianic, and in fact, hopelessly psychotic, as
evidenced by his monomania with this weird entity, "orgone energy."
On pages 206-210, Sharaf
describes the gradual process, starting in 1931, whereby Reich moved from his
therapeutic observations of the energy "streamings" experienced by his patients
as their anxiety and muscular spasms relaxed progressively in the course of the
therapy, to an increasing interest in the nature of these streamings. Reich saw
an analogy between this organismic response, which his patients described as
intensely pleasurable, to the plasmatic, expansive movements of protozoa in
"pleasure" as well as to the opposite protoplasmic response of shrinking,
withdrawing, contracting of self-protective "anxiety." Observing the pulsatory
nature of protoplasmic activity at rest, he postulated analogous processes at
work in human beings, which he viewed as arising from the basic organismic
commonalities of both.
Starting in 1934, following
this analogical insight, Reich began a series of investigations of the
physiological aspect of these reactions in human beings. He found the work
identifying bio-electrical charges within the biosystem which had been described
by Friedrich Kraus to be relevant to his inquiries, and developed equipment to
measure the relative electrical flow in various states, particularly in relation
to the pleasure function. His findings convinced him that he had discovered a
quantifiable basis for the energy of the orgasm, which he characterized in a
formula having four steps - tension, charge, discharge and relaxation -
demonstrating graphically the fact that the strength of that charge was
affected, not by a mechanical turgor of erotic tissues, but by the degree of
pleasure reported by his subjects! To characterize this bio-electrical charge he
coined the name "orgone," meaning the energy of the orgasm, which he considered
a unitary pleasure function of the body.
Reading Sharaf's detailed
account, both of the work itself and of the personal implications of that work,
it becomes clear how almost inevitable, considering how defensive the analysts
already felt, it must have been for men like Federn to atribute the extreme
threat and antipathy of their reactions to Reich's impact to his psychological
makeup rather than to their own. Reich was a natural target for a person with
psychoanalytic training on the grounds of virtually every analytic criterion.
What is remarkable is the length of time Freud continued to support him in the
face of such consensual intellectual conviction. Too, Reich's conflicts with his
first wife, Annie, also an analyst, led to the taking of sides against him by a
number of analysts on personal grounds, which is understandable in human terms,
especially considering what a threat his refusal to submit to the "compulsive
monogamy" he decried must have been to them, struggling as they were for
respectability. He insisted on pursuing the very most sensitive aspect of
Freud's own original metapsychology, the libido principle, which Freud himself
had by now essentially dropped in favor of ego psychology. To make matters
worse, Reich had been a very visible activist for social and political change in
a profession for whom such activity was considered "acting out" at its worst,
irrelevant to their concerns at best, and certainly, both unscientific and
Again, Sharaf makes it clear
that Reich's subsequent discovery of the "bions" did not, as so many of his
erstwhile psychoanalytic colleagues seemed to think, come from the same
characterological defect which had led him to break so many psychoanalytic
taboos. Their ad hominem bias against Reich's assertions now spread to the
entire scientific community, whose outrage was easily stirred up and channeled
into agreement with that ad hominem charge against him. Sharaf makes it easy to
understand the position of the scientific community toward Reich, emerging as it
did in response to a whole congeries of factors, personal, political, and
theoretical. Like the hypothesis that there was a special pleasure energy
hitherto unrecognized by biologists, this new assertion - that life came from
non-living matter - could have been profoundly disturbing to both. Had not this
issue been settled once and for all by the work of Pasteur, proven irrefutably
against equally unsound claims of spontaneous generation of life?
In the face of such a
challenge to their fundamental intellectual assumptions as well as their
internalized social mores, adopting the explanation offered by his
psychoanalytic colleagues and spread by the sensational press that Reich himself
was both kinky and unbalanced obviated the embarrassing necessity of taking
those findings seriously. Contrary to their beliefs, however, as Sharaf points
out, Reich's findings actually were the result of very careful, systematic
observations unimpeded by the ideological biases and societal fears which
governed his associates within those communities.
To offer the truism in
explanation of Reich's plight that he was "ahead of his time" doesn't help
expiate our collective guilt as fallible human beings in refusing to resonate to
the truths of ultimate reality but instead, turning on the one who calls them to
our notice. One of Reich's most profound insights was into what he sometimes
called "the emotional plague." The gist of this awareness was that the kind of
truth Reich was asserting cannot simply be ignored by "little men" like the
psychoanalysts and other professionals for whom it is a threat; it must be
denied by destroying the one who asserts it. The response is proportionate to
the profundity of the truth. The most poignant expression of this insight Reich
embodied in his book The Murder of Christ , written at a time when "the
world's" destructive process was well under way. Reich had a gift for seeing
into and beyond his own dilemma to the nature of the human dilemma posed by this
phenomenon. In this book, he has Christ saying to us all, "I have nothing to say
to you. You will not grasp my meaning now, as you did not grasp it before and
will not grasp it in the future." Reich's personal tragedy is that he tried to
say it, over and over. Each time, he was greeted by more and more heart-breaking
rejection - at first, by the psychoanalysts, then by the scientists, finally, by
Einstein himself, to whom Reich turned in a final last resort for confirmation
by his peers.
Sharaf describes very vividly
the gradually accelerating assaults against Reich during this last phase of his
life. These assaults can be viewed from a kind of mirror-like perspective which
reflects a feedback phenomenon at every stage of that process. Sharaf describes
Reich's manner of responding as one of moving "upward" into ever more
fundamental research. For example, during the extensive nuclear testing period
of the Cold War Reich developed a belief that orgone energy might prove to be an
antidote to nuclear radiation. His proposal to the Atomic Energy Commission in
1950 that he study the biological effect of orgone energy on radioactive tissues
led to their sending him two milligrams of radium for this purpose. This was
certainly a project for which he was highly qualified, and its potential
importance in the dangerous atmosphere of the Korean War undeniable, but the
defensive aspect of this new project came at least partly out of his
disappointment with Einstein earlier, partly in response to Mildred Brady's
attack in theNew Republic.
Thus, it was at least partly
Reich's pattern of mounting defensive self-aggrandizements following each public
humiliation that led to the waves of counter-attacks by such "little people" as
Brady, and ultimately, to the launching of the FDA campaign against him as a
pornographer and a cancer quack! Reich's belief that orgone energy might prove
to be an antidote to nuclear radiation, which led to the "oranur" episode with
all its negative consequences can thus be viewed in a double light. It also
appealed to him as providing him with a way in which he could gain recognition
by the government both as a scientist and as a loyal patriot and thereby
demonstrate graphically the falseness of the plague attacks on him. Sharaf
expresses it thus:
optimism about the course of events was to lead to some major errors. However,
it helped him rechannel his energies back to his work. The investigation by
the FDA was finished, he had won, he did not have to worry about the FDA. At
the same time, a more realistic side of him did continue to worry even if in a
less direct form than previously. One way he expressed this concern was to
search urgently for still more dramatic, socially needed applications of
Sharaf describes in detail the
full scope of the consequences of the oranur experiment. He makes it clear that
the consequences of the oranur experiment were manifold, enveloping Reich and
his entire professional community of colleagues and followers in an atmosphere
in which health, optimism, faith - even, in the case of Reich's daughter Eva,
life itself - became seriously jeopardized. Reich's increasing isolation from
all but a few of the people who had been working with him throughout his
American years could truly be said to stem initially from this event, yet there
is nothing in the event itself which can be pinpointed as directly causative.
Sharaf's account makes no attempt to blunt the impact of this tragic downward
The course of the remainder of
Reich's life takes on a sort of mythological character caught most poetically by
his son Peter's Book of Dreams and detailed no less poignantly by
Sharaf's faithful prose. It is important to remember that the charges of
insanity against Reich come from a much earlier period, and are simply being
repeated and reinforced by subsequent events, because Reich's own stability,
defined objectively, did begin to break down at this point. He gave increasing
signs of operating under stress by increased drinking and bursts of rage against
those who loved him and/or worked with him. At the same time, he resorted more
frequently to a kind of split awareness based on a sort of instinct for the
existence somewhere of support on a very high level which grew more vivid in
proportion to the actual persecution he was suffering at the hands of so many
people. If he sometimes interpreted this support as existing literally in the
government or in its embodiment in President Eisenhower, whom he admired, or in
the Air Force, it is not so very surprising, especially when one remembers how
eloquently he had written of his findings to these agencies, how little he had
Reading The Einstein Affair
, written in 1953, right in the middle of these disturbing events, about the
rejection by Einstein of his accumulator research which had occurred in the
period between 1940-1944, one is struck by the sense of deep hurt which
underlies Reich's detailing of that episode, of the depth of his need for
recognition by someone he looked up to as representing real peerhood. His final
appearance before the federal judge in Lewiston might be said to flow directly
from this ultimate drive for recognition, coupled with an equal drive for
educating human beings concerning the nature of the reality he had been
discovering and working with throughout his lifetime.
I find it necessary here to
introduce my own bias in relation to the life of Reich and the people who
surrounded him, particularly at the time of the trial. My belief is that, again
like Christ, Reich's was a life which cannot be dealt with objectively without
betraying its meaning - and especially the meaning of its ending. I keep coming
back to the feeling I get from reading the ending of Sharaf's biography in this
light, because I believe it is the real pivot around which this book turns.
Truly, the account of the end of Reich's life reads like an ancient Greek
tragedy, and the chief reason it does so is because of the sense one gets of
inexorability. It is as though the wheels were set in motion, and everything
which happened after a certain point was pre-ordained by Fate. It reads heavily.
It is only when one compares
this account with the one Sharaf wrote for David Boadella's book, Wilhelm
Reich: The Evolution of His Work, however, that the significance of this
heaviness begins to emerge, unless I am greatly mistaken. It feels to me like
the final resolution of agonizing guilt - guilt objectified, as it were - as
though Sharaf has taken upon himself the guilt of all Reich's heirs. Unlike his
earlier account of the trial in Boadella's book, in this one he does not point
fingers. By the same token, his account is less personal, more universal. It may
be important to reproduce his earlier words, if one is to understand fully
Sharaf's accomplishment. That earlier Sharaf was well acquainted with guilt.
Here is what he said then:
The situation with the
followers was a pretty bad one. They - we - knew at least our own littleness
and pettiness, our resistances, our fears, our smart-aleckiness, our laziness
or emotional indifference or hiding or whatever it might be in the individual
case. But to hang around in guilt-ridden anxious circles wasn't much help
either. Nor was it any help to stop thinking and base your reaction solely on
Reich's look or words. All the mysticism was there - Reich will find a way
out, he "knows" things we don't know, we don't understand it all. This was
partly rational, but it was also deeply sick. At one point in the judge's
summation one person in the audience said, "It looks good, Reich is smiling,"
and he genuinely expected that the outcome could be different than it was. Or
people mechanically parroted phrases or said that Reich would somehow turn the
I think Reich himself
contributed in part to this atmosphere because he was clinging staunchly to
his own line and didn't want to be disturbed by noise around him. He would
have listened to respectful, strong-minded, strong-hearted, devoted persons
who were willing to break their hearts and necks in the fight. But such
persons were not around, or were only one or two. There was submissive echoing
of "hoodlums" and "spies;" there was divergence in thinking, but mainly on the
part of those not fully in it with all its pain and hardship, who were
shallow; there were many different types but there wasn't the real thing.
But it should be said
that there was admirable behavior on the part of some who were willing to help
to the limit of their abilities, even though the fight was not being fought in
the way they would fight it. They knew that Reich was more basically right
than anyone and that his errors were the "big" fruitful kind, where theirs
would have been of the small, petty variety that does not eventually yield a
big leap into the future.
One could go on and on. It
was not simple, it was not totally a scientific situation, admixtures of many
things were involved. There was something of the atmosphere of Calvary about
the whole business and Reich may have been provoked into doing something
parallel to what Christ had done when he in desperation asserted "I can
destroy your temple in three days," and then all his enemies could gloat and
say: Did you hear him? Now we have him! He was surely wrong there. And he was
wrong on one level, but not on another, the "followers" huddled around then
and they huddle now. Can he really destroy the temple? Is there really
espionage? Do they want all the top secret information? Will he be able to
show them the importance of it all? And the Maguires [the federal prosecutor's
name] smirk and win for the moment, the jury goes home and lives as it lived,
the judge feels concerned and worried, but what can you do? And everybody is
as they were, or are they?...
And so it goes. The
world can't stand the very good or the very bad. It tries to cut everybody to
the middling path. Reich, even in this trial, could have gone an essentially
"middling" path, protesting the destruction of literature, bringing forth this
or that person to testify to this or that; he could have tried many things.
Instead, he went all out after the enemy, to put the enemy on the defensive
where the enemy belonged, and not out to "justify" what needed no
justification. He failed; in terms of conveying very much beside his own deep
sincerity and dedication to his cause I don't think the trial accomplished
very much. But for all its mistakes it was fought on the big scale and from
the whole sad history will emerge rock-strong truths and tactics for
Unlike Christ, who understood
in existential terms as well as the poetic terms of Reich's understanding that
words cannot always bridge the fatal gap in awareness which exists in the nature
of split human beings, how can we pronounce Reich's (sometimes) split awareness
as mad? If he was mad, what have we to say of ourselves? It is this insight
which springs out of Sharaf's pages, and which (for me) informs the words of the
reviewer Sholt, "Reading Myron Sharaf's passionate biography ... is like being
engulfed in an ancient drama about heroic intention. True to its literary analog
and human source, Fury on Earth ends in catharsis. I felt like crying
upon closing it."
I wonder if it occurred to
Sholt that he might "feel like crying" because of a momentary closing of the gap
in the middle of his being which our society usually encourages us to pretend
does not exist, rather than solely out of empathy for Reich himself. I would
like to believe he did, and that it might still be possible for us to learn to
live life in the unified manner Robert Persig speaks about in Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance for which he uses the ancient Greek term areté - that
quality the suppressing of which led to Persig's madness. Chogyam Trungpa calls
it "the sacred warrior path." Stanley Keleman calls it "living your dying." If
Reich was driven "mad" by his inability to ignore the split by which most of us
live, then his occasional resort to the "madness" of the child who indulges in
wishful thinking can be seen as a refuge from that vision.
There is an "est" cartoon I
like which expresses it very well. Two flying fish are arcing through the air,
looking down at the water, and one is saying to the other, "See, that's the
stuff I was talking about." It's damned hard to see it when you're swimming in
it, or so I've found! Are we really expecting Reich to have done that? More to
the point, I think, as well as more accurate, would be to ascribe the madness to
our society. Reich simply carried it for us all when the going got to be too
There is another saying I like
which seems to express the spirit of Reich's life. Alexander Lowen quotes it in
the front of one of his books:
Lord, I am a bow: do
not bend me, lest I break.
Lord, I am a bow:
bend me, but not too much.
Lord, I am a bow: bend me!
Reich was very clear within
himself on the subject of how we "murder Christ" again and again, in
compromising our truth. I find it moving indeed and a real tribute to Reich that
Sharaf has been willing to honor his subject by disclosing his own personal bias
as Reich's biographer. It is equally moving to me that he depicts with such
exact detail every incident and personal contact he has been able to get hold of
which pertains to that life, whether or not it reflects well on Reich's
behavior. One might take the view that Sharaf was doing Reich a very bad service
by speaking "badly" of him. Quite the contrary is true, I believe. What comes
through his account is the love and respect Sharaf had for this man who so often
behaved in ways that appeared blindly self-defeating, at least in the short run.
For a biographer to do this with any ill will or vindictiveness in his heart
would have turned so candid an account to poison, and this is pure gold! It is
clear to me, at least, that Sharaf has searched his heart completely and wiped
from it every vestige of such bad feeling, which would have been an
understandable human reaction, had it been there. Reich was not an easy man to
work or live with! He drove himself and his co-workers mercilessly. He was often
blind to the lack of compassion, or perhaps one should call it the
single-mindedness, with which he dealt with people whom he no longer saw as
involved in that work, such as Theodore Wolfe.
Sharaf manages to be totally
factual about Reich's failings - his jealousy and intolerance, toward women,
especially; his poor ability to evaluate the strength of support for his work by
friends; his way of badgering people; his authoritarianism - without in the
least reducing Reich's moral, intellectual, or psychological stature. The
biography would be a real achievement for this reason alone, even if it were
deficient in other ways, which it is not.
Sharaf is equally factual
about Reich's strengths: his ability to inspire followers; his dedication to the
logic of his work; his tremendous organizational ability; his intellectual and
psychological brilliance; his eloquence; his extraordinary talent as a
therapist; his willingness to keep on the course he had set for himself despite
unbelievable odds; his remarkable work skills and self-discipline; his capacity
for tenderness and affection; his emotional honesty; his generosity of spirit;
his natural buoyancy and love of life; his ability to draw strength from
opposition and crises; his incredible powers of observation.
In this context, I need to
mention the only question with which I take issue with Sharaf, and that is his
discussion, on page 218, of the "wisdom" of Reich's having followed the logic of
his research from the human response to that of protozoa, from which it was only
a short step to the discovery of the bions. Sharaf comments:
If Reich's path was
logical, one can still question its wisdom. There is something brave and
foolhardy, effective and self-defeating, about Reich's working in such diverse
fields. Brave and effective because if he was on to something in each research
realm, he was undoubtedly right that the initial breakthrough was harder than
the subsequent details. Foolhardy and self-defeating because others were more
likely to join any such effort only if a solid, well-controlled set of studies
was available for scrutiny.
This comment reminds me of A.S.
Neill's reaction, described in David Boadella's book Wilhelm Reich: The
Evolution of his Work to the same issue:
I sent the book Function of
the Orgasm to scientists, who usually dismissed it as rubbish. I tried public
men. The results were negative, and I told Reich. He was angry with me. "I
don't want anyone to be invited to approve of my work. I don't want you to try
to get anyone interested in it." But I never knew why he sent me so many
books. I think he had some self-deception here. I noted that when any magazine
published an appreciation he was much pleased. And why did he try to get
Einstein interested in orgone functionalism?
We had differences
about smear publicity. When he fought furiously against the poisonous
smearing, hateful attacks by journalists, I kept saying to him: "But why waste
your energy and time on contradicting a sensational smear? I've had articles
against me for over thirty years, but have ignored the lot."
Sharaf and Neill seem to be
saying that moving into the controversial phase of Reich's research was
"unwise," even "foolhardy" on his part because it took him so far beyond his
colleagues that in a very real sense it represented a kind of watershed beyond
which everything in his life followed a downward course whose outcome was
virtually inevitable, and somehow, he should have taken this fact into account
and avoided it. But saying this doesn't help to expiate our collective guilt as
fallible human beings in refusing, as we do, and as Reich's colleagues did, to
resonate to the truths of ultimate reality but instead, turning on the one who
calls them to our notice. Martyrdom in the name of truth is indeed what happened
to Reich. The same could be said of many martyred scientists such as Galileo,
Giordano Bruno and Nicholas Cusanus.
The poignancy of his life
comes from the fact that he recognized this human weakness while still
continuing to hope throughout its course that he would not fall prey to it. He
continued to speak his truth, over and over throughout his life, each time
presenting his "case" on a more far-reaching level. Each time, he was greeted by
more and more contemptuous discount - at first, by the psychoanalysts, then by
the scientists, finally, by Einstein himself, to whom Reich turned in a last bid
for confirmation by his peers. It was a horrifying tragedy - but I for one
cannot say he somehow "ought" not to have done as he did.
The problem is that, as Sharaf
himself understands so clearly, thus to depict Reich is to murder Christ - or
Reich - all over again! In this case, "Tout comprendre, ce n'ai pas tout
pardonner, c'est tout souffrir!" The personal cost of choosing guilt mediated by
understanding over throwing caution to the winds and just living as Reich did,
for your truth alone, for saying to God, "Bend me!," for recognizing the inner
truth of life that in reality we are all created on a "big scale," and so, if we
choose to live as though we were "little men" by compromising our truth as we
see it, we can guarantee to ourselves that we will pay the price of guilt and
suffering unless we choose, like Neill, to harden ourselves to that inner pain.
I am not really sure whether
the compromise with the world represented by the guilt trail is better or worse
than that represented by the "don't-care" one, but I feel quite sure that in
these "latter days" which we have spent after so many decades living so close to
nuclear midnight and crying out for a major paradigm shift, the meaning of
Reich's life will become ever clearer, and each of us will encounter in some
form the great moral issue Sharaf has posed for us in so faithfully depicting
this life. That he has not repeated his earlier response to the trial feels like
his gift to all of us. He has left out the issues he raised in that earlier
account, and it is for us to go through or not go through whatever we do. It is
evidence of Sharaf's personal growth that he has done so, I believe, and it is
this fact which raises the book out of the scale of one particular life and into
the "big scale" of universal tragedy, as a clear mirror of the supreme tribute
of Sharaf's own life to that life, and to the life energy for which Reich was
willing to die.
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