Mystery of the Orgone

Wilhelm Reich was one of Freud’s inner circle — some say he was being groomed to take over leadership of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) — but he was ultimately centrifuged out of that organization for his social reform and anti-Nazi work. Historians have since documented the general capitulation of German psychoanalysis to the Nazis, but not so Wilhelm Reich, an Austrian-Ukrainian of Jewish background. Freud’s early work strongly suggested emotions and sexuality were expressions of a tangible energetic "something", but it was Reich who provided the clearest evidence that the Freudian libido was a real energy, discharged during emotional expression and sexual orgasm. Parental or social punishments against the youthful expression of emotion, or of sexual love, led to internalized repression — but this was accomplished only by literally tightening one’s muscles, binding the energy down within the body and creating a powerful conflict of internal bioenergetic tension. If repression became chronic, the consequent chronic internal tension formed a neuro-muscular armoring (much like the metal armor of a Medieval knight) by which the individual protectively walled himself off from an outer world of painful experiences. Reich developed therapeutic methods to help people give up their emotional armor; but he also approached the problem from the social and political side of things, working to pass laws against child abuse, to give women equal rights and pay, and to make divorce and contraceptives more freely available. For this, he was severely attacked by the Nazis, who were in fact very extremist "moral majoritarians".

By the mid-1930s, Reich had been kicked out of the IPA, his books attacked and burned by the Nazis and German Communist Party. He fled to Denmark, and later to Scandinavia; while there, he undertook some of the first bioelectrical experiments on the subject of human sexuality and emotional expression. Reich’s bioelectrical experiments proved that human emotion, sexual excitation and orgiastic discharge were measurable phenomena. It was a breakthrough discovery in the field of human sexuality and psychology — but the first of a series of discoveries that would increasingly put him at odds with the prevailing academic/scientific status quo of his time, and of the present time as well. Science of the 1930s was intolerant of open discussion of "orgasm", and Reich’s books uncompromisingly focused upon such issues: The Function of the Orgasm, The Sexual Revolution, People in Trouble, and The Mass Psychology of Fascism are classics hardly mention even today.


Reich’s later experiments with amoeba would produce other breakthroughs in the biological sciences, in the discovery of the specific process of bionous decay of tissues, which lay at the basis of cancer cell formation. Reich’s findings on cancer are directly observable, and not just some speculative theory — his observations on pre-cancerous cellular processes significantly predated those of George Papanicolaou (of "Pap-test" fame), and Reich believed his scientific priority had in fact been stolen. Unlike conventional medicine, Reich’s discovery also revealed the role of emotional-sexual energy in the psychosomatic process. What at first appeared to be only "bioelectricity" was later clarified by Reich as a much more powerful bioenergetic force — a form of life-energy at work within living organisms, expressing itself as emotion and sexuality, but also directly observable in the microscope as a bluish-glowing field around living blood cells and other substances. This bluish-glowing energy, which he eventually called orgone energy (to preserve its relationship with living processes), was later observed as a blue-glowing aura-like phenomenon around organisms, trees and even mountain ranges. The blue orgone also exists in a free form within the atmosphere — Reich wrote about an "envelope" of blue-glowing energy surrounding the Earth long before the first satellite photos confirmed it.

Orgone energy in the atmosphere was a physical phenomenon similar to the older ideas of "vital force" and "aether" combined. It behaves lawfully, fills all space, expands and contracts in pulsatory rhythm, and interacts differently with different material substances: every kind of matter appears to attract the orgone, but at different rates of speed. Water strongly attracts the orgone, or life-energy, giving rise to the phenomenon of living water (described classically as "activated" or "structured" water) which is fundamental to life processes, and to the Earth’s weather as well. Orgone was also demonstrated in high vacuum (as with "zero-point" vacuum fluctuation, etc.) proving it filled all space much as a cosmic aether. Reich’s experiments in these directions led to even more controversy: new methods for ending drought and greening deserts, and new approaches to the problem of nuclear waste detoxification. His experiments suggested a new source of pollution-free energy, which some day might propel humankind to the stars. Fantastic? Sure, but solidly founded upon new experimental tests and observations in the best tradition of the natural sciences.

During the course of Reich’s investigations, he developed a special metal-lined enclosure which attracted a high charge of orgone energy inside itself, directly from the atmosphere: the orgone energy accumulator . The orgone accumulator was proven to charge seeds and increase garden plant growth, speed the healing of burns and cuts, and there are a number of physical experiments which demonstrate anomalous phenomena inside the accumulator. Reich observed that certain kinds of low-energy illness, such as cancer, would symptomatically yield to careful application of the orgone accumulator. After he moved to the USA, he treated people experimentally with his combined emotional/orgone-energetic approach. Within a few years, however, he was attacked by US Food and Drug Administration, which was at that time (1955) in an all-out "war" against natural healing methods (the repression of natural healing methods has always been a major agenda of the FDA). The FDA obtained a court injunction which ordered the banning and burning of Reich’s books — any book containing the forbidden word "orgone" was ordered destroyed, even his classics on human sexuality which only mentioned orgone energy in the preface. The FDA factually burned Reich’s books and journals on several occasions (most recently in 1962), while Reich was given a 2-year jail sentence for a misdemeanor technicality, dying in prison in 1957. The FDA’s attack against Reich constituted a fraud upon the courts and the American people, and the Reich legal case continues to overshadow the better-known Scopes Monkey Trial in constitutional significance, in that an American court authorized the burning of scholarly books and the jailing of scientists for maintaining unorthodox viewpoints.


Image from WR:  Mysteries of the Organism (1971)

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  1. Summer Mastous
    Posted August 25, 2010 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    What is the purpose of showing the tightly clad dressed woman with the bunny rabbit here? Wasn’t the scholar and his inventions enough to get the human rights point across? Sexual energy was used as a healing property, the State seized it, and killed him, relentlessly destroying all articles that had the word “orgone” in it. But why the propoganda with the lady? Equal representation? I think the picture takes the credibility of the article down a bit. In my opinion.

  2. BaddBob
    Posted August 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Not sure how that image reads as propaganda, but I will plead guilty to a charge of sensationalism, if such a charge were to be brought forth. Spoonful of sugar, and all that.

    By the way, the image is from a fascinating film called WR: Mysteries of the Organism, which discusses a lot of Reich’s writing and ideas.

  3. BaddBob
    Posted August 25, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

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