Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) was an Austrian psychoanalyst, who tried to reconcile psychoanalysis with Marxism, and contended that neurosis is rooted in a lack of what he called "orgastic potency." He claimed to have discovered a cosmic sexual energy he call “Orgone,” self-publishing books about his increasingly controversial theories, and selling “Orgone Accumulator” boxes commercially, for which he was ultimately imprisoned for violation of FDA regulations, had his books burned, and died in prison. He continues to be a popular (if polarizing) figure, and his books are all still in print, such as Early Writings, Character Analysis, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Bion Experiments, Listen, Little Man!, Murder of Christ, etc.
This 1960 book is a collection of writings from a number of Reich's books over the entire course of his career, as well as reprints of articles from various journals. The Foreword states, "It has been difficult to make this selection. The vastness of Wilhelm Reich's scientific accomplishments has always created a problem of 'too muchness.' In this instance, the problem was principally one of what to omit---of how to satisfy the restrictions imposed by the limited space." (Pg. vii)
Reich wrote, "In the case of orgonomy, the presentation of a part of the laboratory work-method is especially called for. The greatest difficulty in grasping the orgone theory lies in the fact that the discovery of the orgone has solved TOO MANY and TOO GREAT problems at once: the biological basis of psychic diseases, biogenesis and with that the cancer biopathy, the ether, the cosmic yearning of the human animal, a new physical energy, etc." (Pg. 18) He explains, "Those who are familiar with sex-economy know of the important event which, in 1933, represented the turning point in our research: the discovery of the biological function of tension and change... Clinical investigation had shown us that the function of the orgasm is the key to the problem of the energy in the neuroses. Neuroses are the result of a stasis (damming up) of sexual energy. This stasis is caused by a disturbance in the discharge of sexual energy in the organism... the orgasm is a fundamental biological phenomenon; fundamental because the orgastic energy discharge takes place at the very roots of biological functioning... " (Pg. 189)
He states, "The bions are forms of transition from inorganic to organic matter; they can develop into organized living forms such as protozoa, cancer cells, etc. They are vesicles filled with fluid and charged with energy; they are clearly visible only with a magnification of over 2000s. 'Bion' means the same as 'energy vesicle.'" (Pg. 199) Later, he notes, "It is incorrect that the orgone energy and thus the functional law which blends living and nonliving nature into ONE were discovered by me for the first time. In the course of 2,000 years of human history, men again and again struck upon phenomena of orgone energy or they developed systems of thought which were in the direction of orgone energy." (Pg. 274)
He wrote of a cancer patient being treated with "orgone treatment": The orgone therapy had prolonged her life for about 10 months, had kept her free of cancer tumors and cancer pains for months and had restored the function of her blood system to normal. The interruption of the orgone treatment by the biopathic paralysis interdicts any conjecture as to a possible favorable outcome. What is certain is that in this case the real cause of death was the biopathic shrinking, and not the local tumors." (Pg. 266-267)
In the section on "Orgone Physics," he states, "The sharp boundary lines between physics and what is called 'metaphysics' have broken down. The metaphysical intuition has a physical basis: 'GOD' and 'ETHER' are ONE..." (Pg. 423) He adds [capital letters are in the original], "ALL BOUNDARIES BETWEEN SCIENCE AND RELIGION, SCIENCE AND ART, OBJECTIVE AND SUBJECTIVE, QUANTITY AND QUALITY, PHYSICS AND PSYCHOLOGY, ASTRONOMY AND RELIGION, GOD AND ETHER, ARE IRREVOCABLY BREAKING DOWN, BEING REPLACED BY A CONCEPTION OF THE BASIC UNITY, A BASIC CFP OF ALL NATURE WHICH BRANCHES OUT INTO THE VARIOUS KINDS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE." (Pg. 423)
He says about "Cloud-busting": "Cloud-busting as a task of Cosmic OR Engineering will by far transcend the facilities and potentialities of any single institution and even state or country. Cloud-busting is truly an international affair with no regard for national borders. There are neither passport controls nor custom officers in the sky where the weather is being made. This is good and as it should be in Cosmic OR Engineering (C.O.R.E.). LAWFUL REGULATION OF CLOUD-BUSTING WILL PROVE INDISPENSABLE IF CHAOS IS TO BE AVOIDED." [Capital letters in the original.]
He asserts that his conclusions in The Function of the Orgasm "not only brought forth anxieties in the average psychiatrist, it infuriated him to an extent which made it incomprehensible how the formerly friendly, enthusiastic men and women would have changed to suddenly and so furiously into the exact opposite." (Pg. 459) Of his difficulties with the FDA, he said, "There are conspirators around whose aim it is to destroy human happiness and self-government. Is now the right of the conspirator to ravage humanity the same as my right to free, unimpeded inquiry?" (Pg. 541)
Reich's writings are, at the least, controversial. This collection certainly gives a complete portrait of the whole of his work; unfortunately, the portrait includes much from his later writings, in which even some who might have thought there was some merit in his earlier work (e.g., on Character Analysis and fascism), feel he ultimately went "off the deep end."