This biographical sketch of Dr. Wilhelm Reich barely covers a fraction of his prolific life and profound works. Dr. Reich was a pioneer, a scientist, a doctor, and a prolific writer who was severely persecuted for his theories and inventions. His books and publications were banned and burned in both Nazi Germany and the United States. He was incarcerated by American courts and died in a Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania.
It has been more than 60 years since his death and 10 years since his personal archives were unsealed. New facts and scientific discoveries have come to light that validate many of his theories and discoveries.
Reich was born into a Jewish family, but his parents decided against raising their children as Jews. They were instead brought up to speak only German and were forbidden from using Yiddish expressions and from playing with the local Yiddish-speaking children. As was common at that time, Reich was home-schooled, first by his mother and later by several tutors. Reich’s family was tragically dysfunctional, and his father had a violent temper. Reich discovered his mother having an affair with his live-in tutor. He was conflicted about telling his father but eventually did so. Soon thereafter, Reich’s mother poisoned herself to flee the abuse of Reich’s father. Reich blamed himself for his mother’s suicide for many years. He later wrote about being aware of the affair and how it had impacted him with feelings of shame, jealousy, and anger. He was conflicted over whether to protect his mother or share her actions with his father.
When the war ended, Reich headed for Vienna, enrolling in law at the University of Vienna, but found it unfulfilling and switched to medicine after the first semester.
While studying for his doctorate, Reich became a protégé of Dr. Sigmund Freud. Reich was invited to become a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association in 1920.
Dr. Wilhelm Reich was born March 24, 1897 in Dobrzcynica, Galicia, in the easternmost part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now the Ukraine. His father Leon Reich and mother Cäcilie were farmers. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Jujinetz, a village in Bukovina, where his father ran a cattle farm leased by his mother’s uncle, Josef Blum.
Following his mother’s suicide when he was twelve, Reich moved to the regional capital of Czernowitz where he attended the gymnasium, from which he graduated in 1915. During this period, he developed psoriasis which plagued him off and on for the rest of his life. Following his father’s death from tuberculosis in 1914, Reich managed the family farm until it was overrun by Russian troops. When the first World War broke out, Reich joined the Austrian Army in 1915 and served until 1918. The last two years of the war, he served as a lieutenant at the Italian front with 40 men under his command.
Because he was a war veteran, Dr. Reich was allowed to complete a combined bachelor’s and medical doctorate (M.D.) in four years, instead of six, and graduated in July 1922. After graduation, he worked in internal medicine at the city’s University Hospital and studied neuropsychiatry
from 1922 to 1924 at the hospital’s neurological and psychiatric clinic under Professor Julius Wagner von Jauregg, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1927.
In 1922, Dr. Reich began working in Freud’s psychoanalytic outpatient clinic, known as the Vienna Ambulatorium, where he became a pioneer in psychoanalysis. Dr. Reich became the assistant director under Eduard Hitschmann in 1924 and worked there until his move to Berlin in 1930. Between 1922 and 1932, the Vienna Ambulatorium offered free or reduced-cost psychoanalysis to hundreds of women, many of whom suffered from post-traumatic stress after World War I. Reich regularly attended Freud’s Wednesday night meetings where he often spoke; he gave his last paper to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in December 1929.
TO ANNIE PINK
Soon after graduation in March 1922, Dr. Reich married Annie Pink. Annie Reich later became a well-known psychoanalyst herself. The marriage produced two daughters, Eva (1924–2008) and Lore (b. 1928), both of whom became physicians. Lore Reich Rubin also became a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.
Dr. Reich’s first book, Der triebhafte Charakter: eine psychoanalytische Studie zur Pathologie des Ich (The Impulsive Character: A Psychoanalytic Study of the Pathology of the Self), was published in 1925. It was a study of the anti-social personalities he had encountered while working in the Ambulatorium and argued for a systematic theory of character. The text brought him professional recognition, including from Freud, who in 1927 arranged for his appointment to the executive committee of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.
In 1924, Reich published a series of papers on the idea of “orgastic potency”, or the ability to experience full orgasmic gratification while engaging in the sexual act. The concept of orgastic potency given by Dr. Reich meant the ability to reach an orgasm with certain psychosomatic characteristics. It was especially linked with the ability to love. He deemed “orgastic impotency” as the primary cause behind neurosis, because the patient is unable to release all libido during orgasm. According to Reich, libido was a biological energy. He described the concept in his 1927 book, Die Funktion des Orgasmus (The Function of the Orgasm), dedicating it to Freud. He presented a copy of the manuscript to Freud on his 70th birthday on May 6, 1926.
It was during this period that Reich developed what became his major contributions to psychoanalysis: the movement from individual symptoms to character structure, and his emphasis on working through resistance, especially as it manifests as negative transference. Less well accepted were Reich’s continued insistence, following the early Freud, that all neuroses are sexual in origin, and his commitment to the centrality of the function of the orgasm in understanding human psychology.
On July 15, 1927, a large demonstration of workers in Vienna was met with gunfire by the local police force, killing nearly a hundred and wounding upwards of a thousand people. Reich witnessed this assault first-hand. The following day he secretly joined the small Austrian Communist Party, while publicly remaining a member of the Social Democratic Workers Party. From then until his increasing conflicts with the German Communist Party early in 1933, Reich was politically active both as a speaker and writer.
In 1929, Dr. Reich and his wife Annie visited the Soviet Union on a lecture tour, where they visited factories, schools, and kindergartens. While there, Reich lectured at least twice; his main lecture was at the Communist Academy. Upon his return to Vienna, he spoke to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society about his trip and published a report about it in The Psychoanalytic Movement. He wrote an article Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis that was published in Unter dem Banner des Marxismus, the German Communist Party journal. The article discussed whether psychoanalysis was compatible with historical materialism, class struggle and proletarian revolution. Reich concluded that they were compatible if dialectical materialism was applied to psychology. This became one of the primary theoretical statements of his Marxist period, which included The Imposition of Sexual Morality (1932), The Sexual Struggle of Youth (1932), The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), What is Class Consciousness? (1934) and The Sexual Revolution (1936).
In 1930, Dr. Reich and his family moved to Berlin, where he set up clinics in working-class areas, taught sex education and published pamphlets. He joined the Communist Party of Germany but was disappointed over their delay in publishing one of his pamphlets, Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend (1932), later published in English as The Sexual Struggle of Youth (1972). So he set up his own publishing house, Verlag für Sexualpolitik, and published the pamphlet himself.
LIFE IN BERLIN
“Once we open to the flow of energy within our body, we open to the flow of energy within the universe.”
From 1930 onwards, Dr. Reich began to treat patients using what were considered unconventional methods in that day and age: he sat opposite his patients (rather than behind them as they lay on a couch – the traditional psychoanalyst’s position). And he engaged in conversations instead of offering the usual analyst’s response of “Tell me more about that” or “Why do you ask?”.
Reich had noticed that after a successful course of psychoanalysis, his patients would hold their bodies differently, so he began to try to communicate with the body using touch. From this he developed the practice of “vegetotherapy”.
This is a therapy whereby the patient is asked to remove his or her outer clothing, lie down on a sheet-covered bed, and breathe deeply and rhythmically. Additionally, the practitioner might palpate or tickle areas of muscular tension, also known as “body armor”. While experiencing a simulated emotional state, the patient may reflect on past experiences that may be the source of his or her unresolved emotions. This allows the patient to theoretically release those emotions that were built up inside both the body and psyche (“stored emotions”). Screaming and vomiting may occur with the catharsis. In Reichian analysis, healthy sexual function and unrestricted, natural breathing are seen as evidence of recovery.
Dr. Reich presented the principles of character-analytic vegetotherapy in August 1934, in a paper entitled Psychischer Kontakt und vegetative Strömung (Psychological Contact and Vegetative Current) at the 13th International Congress of Psychoanalysis at Lucerne, Switzerland.
Dr. Reich had several extramarital relationships during his marriage to Annie. Their marriage ended in 1933 after he began a more serious relationship with Elsa Lindenberg – whom he had met in Berlin around 1931, when she was a ballet dancer at the Berlin Staatsoper. She was also a Communist and belonged to the “Red Block Cell” on Wilmersdorfstrasse – a writers and artists colony.
Their affair was not a secret: Dr. Reich was living with Elsa in Germany when Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933. With the rise of National Socialism, and the sudden Nazi “take-over” in the spring of 1933, it became obvious that Reich had to leave both Berlin and Germany. On March 2
that year the National Socialist German
Workers’ Party (NSDAP or Nazi Party) newspaper
Völkischer Beobachter published an attack on Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend. Dr. Reich and Elsa promptly left for Vienna.
Many of Dr. Reich’s books and research materials were burnt in the Berlin Nazi book burning of 1933.
EXILE TO OSLO
Trying to find a suitable country for living and work, Dr. Reich and Elsa moved to Denmark, then Sweden and briefly back to Denmark. Towards the end of 1933, he also traveled to Zürich, Paris and London, considering each location as a possible new residence in exile. They eventually settled in Oslo, Norway in 1934.
Dr. Reich was invited by Harald K. Schjelderup, professor of psychology at the University of Oslo, to lecture on character analysis and vegetotherapy.
The couple ended up staying in Oslo for five years, during which Dr. Reich worked to finalize his orgasm theory in biology. Reich was influenced by the work of the Austrian internist Friedrich Kraus, who contended in his paper Allgemeine und Spezielle Pathologie der Person (1926) that the biosystem was a relay-like switch mechanism of electrical charge and discharge. Reich wrote in an essay, Der Orgasmus als Elektro-physiologische Entladung (The Orgasm as an Electrophysiological Discharge, 1934), that the orgasm is just such a bioelectrical discharge and proposed his “orgasm formula”: mechanical tension (filling of the organs with fluid; tumescence) → bioelectrical charge → bioelectrical discharge → mechanical relaxation (detumescence).
In 1935, Dr. Reich bought an oscillograph and experimented with it on friends and students, who volunteered to touch and kiss each other while Reich conducted the tracings. One of the volunteers was a young Willy Brandt, the future chancellor of Germany. At the time, Brandt was married to Dr. Reich’s secretary, Gertrud Gaasland, and organizing Nazi protests from Norway.
Dr. Reich also conducted measurements on the patients of a psychiatric hospital near Oslo. He described the oscillograph experiments in 1937 in Experimentelle Ergebniße Über Die Elektrische Funktion von Sexualität und Angst (The Bioelectrical Investigation of Sexuality and Anxiety).
From 1934 to 1939, Reich conducted what became known as the “bion experiments”. According to Dr. James DeMeo:
“Dr. Reich made reports in published books and research journals, and presentations to the French Academy of Science, on the discovery of a microscopical vesicle of around 1 micron, which appeared as a transitional form between living and non-living substance. Called the Bion, this vesicle could be derived in abundance as a break-down product from the incandescent heating and freeze/thaw disintegration of inorganic materials such as iron dust, charcoal, clay, or ground up rock powder or beach sand, as well as from deteriorating living tissues. Bions, he observed, were charged with a specific life-energetic radiation of blue color, possessed living properties, could be cultured, and could re-organize into clumps out of which larger and more complex micro-organisms such as ameba or protozoans would arise. He argued this was an additional process in nature whereby new living microbes could arise from non-living or previously alive matter, aside from the known pathways of dormant spores or direct cell replication. Degeneration and rotting of dying plant or animal tissues, where the life-energetic cohesive charge had been lost, or the deterioration of inorganic matter in water, would give rise to bion formation, after which the chemistry and environment of the solutions would determine how far the life-process would go. Reich argued a similar bionous decay process was at work in the human body to give rise to certain microbes, including cancer cells, which resembled protozoans in many ways. The human bio-energy, or orgone energy as he called it, played a fundamental role in the cohesion of tissues and cells. This is not “spontaneous generation” but a specific developmental process with similarities to the works of Béchamp, Bastian and other nearly-forgotten pioneers in biology. Reich’s work on bionous disintegration anticipated such modern findings as the phenomenon of apoptosis, and new observations on unexpected abundant life in deep-sea hydrothermal vents or boiling hot springs, or life-like forms in incandescent-heated meteorites or deep within the Earth’s crustal rock. Reich’s bion vesicles thereby have many similarities to modern archaea or extremophiles, and his work suggests to the field of exobiology, that wherever liquid water exists in the cosmos, abundant microbial life should be found. As one of the earliest natural scientists to engage in open research on the origins of life question, a regrettable ridicule and attack followed his work across Europe and into America. In spite of many replications of his experiments on the bions by a small group of credible scientists, professors and physicians world-wide, a great ignorance and hostility about his work still persists within the mainstream community.”
The term biogenesis was coined by Henry Charlton Bastian to mean the generation of a life form from nonliving materials; however, Thomas Henry Huxley chose the term abiogenesis and redefined biogenesis as life arising from preexisting life. The generation of life from non-living material is called abiogenesis, and according to current scientific views has occurred in stages through chemical and molecular evolution over millions of years.
Briefly, “bions”, as Dr. Reich dubbed them, are microscopic vesicles, seen as transitional entities between the non-living and the living. Under the microscope, these vesicles move in ways that cannot be explained by purely mechanical movement (Brownian movement). Dr. Reich discovered that they form more readily if the solution is heated in a way that should kill any spores or “air germs”, and they are often seen to have a blue edge to them. Those with the strongest electrical charge have the greatest motility, pulsation and bluish color. Dr. Reich showed that bions prepared under sterile conditions with a strong electrical charge could be successfully sub-cultured. Other scientists have observed such transitional entities or pleomorphic forms, notably: Ernst Almquist (1852-1946), Gunther Enderlein (1872-1968), Royal Rife (1888-1971), Gastons Naessens (born 1924) and Lyda Mattman (1912-2008).
All this resulted in a series of experiments focused on the energetic properties of bion preparations, reported in an article entitled Drei Versuche am statischen Elektroskop (Three Experiments at the Static Electroscope), published together with the article Bion Experiments on the Cancer Problem (1939).
Since it appeared to Dr. Reich that the energy observed visually was a form of radiation, he chose to place bionous solutions in a type of “Faraday cage”. This was a screened enclosure designed for the purpose of eliminating the influence of external “static electricity” and other electromagnetic fields. According to Dr. Reich, the observed radiation effects of the bionous solutions did not diminish in the enclosure, instead, they seemed enhanced.
These experiments were published as Die Bione: zur Entstehung des vegetativen Lebens in Oslo in February 1938 (published in English in 1979 and later called The Bion Experiments on the Origin of Life).
This book is divided into two parts: the first, a detailed report on the experiments; the second, Dr. Reich’s conclusions and an exposition of his research method. The work became the foundation of his later research in orgone energy and orgone theory. The text documents a series of experiments in which Dr. Reich applied the formula of tension →bioelectrical charge→ bioelectrical discharge→ relaxation, derived from his research on the function of the orgasm, to the microscopic biological world, thereby opening a route to a better understanding of the origin of life. The ability of the body to expand and contract and not become “stuck” in one mode, created what Dr. Reich called the pulsation of life, which distinguished the living from the non-living. This pulsation of expansion and contraction also followed the specific four-beat rhythm: tension→ charge→ discharge→ relaxation.
Dr. Reich also noted that the conditions of expansion and contraction affected a person both emotionally and physically – the autonomic nervous system, cellular, and chemical levels. States of expansion produce parasympathetic conditions associated with dilation of the blood vessels and increased circulation, pain relief, better digestion and bowel peristalsis, lower blood pressure, along with creating a sense of well-being and sexual excitement. States of contraction, however, produce sympathetic effects associated with vasoconstriction, increased blood pressure, heart rate and the emotions of anxiety and stress.
Unfortunately, Dr. Reich received considerable opposition to his bion research. Numerous scientists and media attacked his ideas as false and nonsensical. Soon the medical establishment began an extended campaign against Dr. Reich in local newspapers, aided by fascistic elements that referred to Reich as a “Jewish pornographer”.
Scientists of the day were not aware of prions and pleomorphic forms of organisms and could not believe that bacteria could appear from a sterile culture and change shape. They believed airborne contaminants were the root of his microscopic observations. Nor did they understand proton emissions from organisms, as has now been confirmed by modern physics (biophoton emissions).
Despite the criticism, Dr. Reich continued to research and write. In addition to anti-Nazi political treatises, his works included:
a second edition of Der Einbruch der Sexualmoral (1935);
a new document entitled Masse und Staat: Zur Frage der Rolle der Massenstruktur in der sozialistischen Bewegung (The Masses and the State: On the Question of the Role of the Structure of the Masses in the Socialist Movement) (1935), the first of Reich’s writings not for public distribution with limited circulation (two more will follow later);
Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf. Zur sozialistischen Umstrukturierung des Menschen (Sexuality in the Cultural Struggle: on the Socialist Restructuring of People) (1936), later translated into English as The Sexual Revolution: Toward a Self-Governing Character Structure.
He also started a new journal, the Zeitschrift für politische Psychologie und Sexualökonomie (The Journal for Political Psychology and Sexual-economy) (1934-1938), which initially featured primarily political articles.
VISA TROUBLE –
In February 1938, Dr. Reich’s visa had expired. Several Norwegian scientists argued against an extension, and even suggested he be handed over to the Gestapo. Fortunately, Dr. Reich received support from overseas, first from the anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski, who wrote the press in Norway that Reich’s sociological works were “a distinct and valuable contribution toward science”, and from A.S. Neill, founder of Summerhill, a progressive school in England. Eventually, Dr. Reich was given his visa; however, it stipulated he could not have a license to practice psychoanalysis.
Despite the professional problems, his relationship with Elsa Lindenberg was still good. When she became pregnant in 1935, they were initially overjoyed, buying clothes and furniture for the child, but doubts developed for Dr. Reich, who saw the political atmosphere worsening and the future too unsettled. To Elsa’s great distress, Dr. Reich insisted on an abortion (which at that time was illegal). They went to Berlin, where the psychoanalyst Edith Jacobson helped to arrange it. Dr. Reich and Elsa returned to Oslo, but their relationship never recovered. When Dr. Reich later asked her to accompany him to the United States, she said no.
On March 12, 1938, German troops marched into Austria and annexed the German-speaking nation. Given the constant media attacks against him, the fact that his ex-wife and daughters had already left for the United States, and the possibility that the Nazis might eventually invade Norway (which did occur 6 months after his departure), Dr. Reich left Oslo for New York.
Theodore P. Wolfe, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, who had traveled to Norway to study under Dr. Reich, offered to help Reich settle in the States and managed to arrange an invitation from The New School in New York for Reich to teach a course on “Biological Aspects of Character Formation”. Wolfe and Walter Briehl, a former student of Dr. Reich’s, put up funds to guarantee his visa.
Dr. Reich received his U.S. visa in August 1939 and set sail from Norway by himself. Shortly after his arrival, Dr. Reich moved his laboratory and equipment to a rented house in the Forest Hills section of New York. He began teaching courses at The New School for Social Research in Manhattan, (“Character Formation: Biological and Sociological Aspects” and “Clinical Problems in Psychosomatic Medicine”); where he remained until May 1941. He slowly began to build a following in the United States, seeing patients, and trained doctors in his new form of therapy. He also continued his laboratory work with orgone energy. This research included:
treating cancer mice with bion injections;
developing a cancer serum from bion cultures;
and finding a way to isolate and collect orgone energy from bions in order to study its functions and make it more usable.
In October 1939, his secretary Gertrud Gaasland introduced him to the 29-year-old Ilse Ollendorff. Reich was still in love with Elsa Lindenberg, but Ollendorff started organizing his life for him, serving as both his bookkeeper and laboratory assistant. They moved in together and five years later, in 1944, they had a son, Peter, and were married in 1946.
Through many years of careful, experimental research, Dr. Reich was able to define the basic properties of orgone energy:
it fills all space and is everywhere
it is mass free
it is the primordial, cosmic energy
it penetrates matter, but at different speeds
it pulsates and is observable and measurable
it has a strong affinity and attraction to/by water
it is accumulated naturally in the living organism by ingesting foods, breathing, and through the skin
the mutual attraction and excitation of separate orgonotic systems result in the merging, or superimposition, of the systems; and the emergence of a new system
orgone energy is negatively entropic: highly charged orgone systems attract lesser charged, which Reich described as the orgonotic potential
orgone energy is excited by secondary energies such as electromagnetism and nuclear energy
when it is concentrated, orgone energy often has a blue-to-violet color.
According to quantum physics, all life is made up of unseen energy. Dr. Reich called this life energy “Orgone”.
In Dr. Reich’s view, the key to physical and mental health was the balance of this orgone energy which he divided into two categories: “Positive Orgone Energy” (POR) and anti-biological “Dead Orgone Energy” (DOR). He saw positive orgone as organized, structured and coherent, while anti-biological dead orgone energy was “stagnant” and led to decay and entropy – very similar to the idea of “meridian blockages” in traditional Chinese medicine.
Since Dr. Reich’s death, researchers have undertaken experiments with animals and plants to further define and verify the positive effects that Dr. Reich reported with orgone energy. This life energy or vital energy has historically been called “qi” in traditional Chinese medicine, “prana” in Ayurveda, and “mana” by Polynesians.
Quantum physicists have discovered that physical atoms are made up of vortices of energy that are constantly spinning and vibrating, each one radiating its own unique energy signature – vibrational frequency. The atom has no physical structure; we have no physical structure; physical things really do not have any physical structure. Atoms are made from invisible energy, not tangible matter. Thus, science now embraces the idea that the universe is made of energy.
There is now evidence that we live in a cosmic ocean filled with “neutrinos” or the fundamental particles which make up the universe. It appears that neutrinos are one of the components of this unseen universal energy that surrounds us. Dr. Reich was simply ahead of his time researching the invisible energy of life.
In 1940, Dr. Reich began to construct orgone accumulators that he used to concentrate orgone energy for research and later to treat diseases. The early orgone accumulators were about the size of a standard refrigerator only a little taller and more spacious.
Dr. Reich found that certain non-metallic (organic) materials (wool, cotton, fiberglass, some plastics) attracted and held orgone energy, while the metal (nonorganic) attracted it and then rapidly repelled it. Thus, the accumulator’s organic layers attracted the atmospheric energy which was directed inward by the metal layers. Any energy reflected outward by the metal layers was immediately re-absorbed by the organic material, attracted back to the metal, and directed toward the inside of the box. The result was a higher concentration of orgone energy inside the box. The more layers, the stronger the concentration. In other words, by designing an enclosure, lined on the inside with metal and made with alternating layers of metallic and non-metallic, di-electric, energy-attracting materials, he discovered that atmospheric orgone energy was accumulated and concentrated inside.
Additionally, within the accumulator, the orgone energy given off by an inside metal wall is attracted to the opposite metal wall which again repels it. This creates an oscillation of the orgone energy particles inside.
According to Dr. Reich, the multiple layers of organic and inorganic material caused the orgone concentration inside the box to be three to five times stronger than in the air. Dr. Reich experimentally objectified this discovery by observing that the temperature inside an orgone accumulator was higher than inside a control device or outside air temperature. Also, an electroscope, which is a device that can be charged with “static” electricity, discharged more slowly inside an orgone accumulator than outside.
These two experiments confirmed that there was “something different” about the atmosphere inside an orgone accumulator that did not conform to physics of that era.
The earliest boxes were tested on plants and laboratory animals, particularly mice with cancer. He wrote that the accumulators were able to reduce cancerous growth.
Starting in March 1941, Dr. Reich began experimental orgone radiation treatment of several terminal cancer patients whose physicians had exhausted all remedies and hope. All patients signed an affidavit stating that Reich had promised them no cure, nor charged them any money. They came to Reich’s laboratory in Forest Hills to sit in this large orgone accumulator for varying periods of time, several times a week. Within a short period of time, all showed marked improvement: relief of pain, healthier blood, weight gain, and the shrinkage and elimination of tumors.
Despite these positive results, these terminal patients did not survive beyond a few years, leading Dr. Reich to theorize that the disease we call cancer is a bio-energetic contraction and shrinking of the body; and that the tumors are not the disease itself, but rather a local manifestation of a deeper systemic biological disorder.
Contrary to widespread rumors that persist to this day, in treating terminal cancer patients, Dr. Reich never claimed or promoted the orgone accumulator as a cancer cure, nor did he charge money. In patient affidavits and in his publications, he clearly states that despite many promising results, orgone radiation via the accumulator is not a cure. The following was an affidavit that his patients and/or their family members were required to sign:
“I state herewith that I came to see Dr. Wilhelm Reich for possibly helping the case of my _____ who suffers from cancer. I came because I was told of the experiments that Dr. Reich has made with cancer mice and human beings. Dr. Reich did not promise me any cure, did not charge any money, and told me that only during the last few months has he tried the orgone radiation on human beings who suffer from cancer. Death or abscesses could occur as a consequence of the disease. I told Dr. Reich that the physicians have given up the case of my _____ as hopeless. Should death or abscesses occur during the time of the experiment, it will not be because of the treatment.”
(The Cancer Biopathy)
By the mid-1940s, Reich’s “Orgone Institute Research Laboratories” – a non-profit organization that supported his work – had begun renting and selling orgone accumulators to patients as prescribed by the numerous physicians who were studying with Dr. Reich. Patients who could not afford the fees paid nothing. All money went to support further orgone energy research. Dr. Reich published research bulletins and journals that included reports of his laboratory work, as well as medical case histories from himself and other physicians, documenting the efficacy and limitations of the orgone accumulator.
In 1941, Dr. Reich contacted Albert Einstein, hoping that, with Einstein’s insight, he could better understand the energy found in the orgone accumulator. The two met at Einstein’s home in Princeton. Reich brought with him an “orgonoscope”, a simple device which permitted visual observations of orgone energy in the atmosphere, and a small orgone energy accumulator. He set up the accumulator to show that under clear weather conditions, the temperature inside the accumulator was slightly higher than the temperature outside, or in a control enclosure – a temperature difference, contradicting the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Concerning the orgonoscope, Einstein replied that he could not rule out “subjective” impressions. As for the accumulator, Einstein first confirmed the temperature difference, but then discounted it with a reference to air convection in the room.
Dr. Reich responded with a 25-page letter in which he tried to change Einstein’s mind. To rule out the influence of convection, he told Einstein that he had taken certain measures, including introducing a horizontal plate above the accumulator; wrapping it in a blanket; hanging it from the ceiling; burying it underground; and placing it outside. He wrote that in all these circumstances, the temperature difference remained and was in fact more marked in the open air. Einstein, however, did not respond to this and subsequent letters.
1941 was a challenging year for Dr. Reich and Ilse. First, it was a huge disappointment that Einstein dismissed his observations in orgone energy. Even worse, in December, after the United States declared war on Germany, Dr. Reich was arrested as an “enemy alien” by the FBI and taken to Ellis Island, where he was held for over three weeks. He was questioned about several books the FBI found when they searched his home, including Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Trotsky’s My Life, a biography of Lenin and a Russian alphabet book for children. This was all particularly disturbing as Dr. Reich was so against fascism and Hitler’s regime. Judging from his journal entries, Reich’s detainment left him angry and disheartened. From then on, he exercised caution about his former Marxist allegiances in subsequent publications.
After his release, Dr. Reich’s work in orgone energy continued, and in 1942 he published his first book in English, a scientific autobiography entitled The Discovery of Orgone: The Function of the Orgasm: Sex-Economic Problems of Biological Energy.
This book describes Dr. Reich’s medical and scientific work on the living organism from his first efforts at the Medical School of the University of Vienna in 1919 to the laboratory experiments in Oslo in 1939 which revealed the existence of a radiating biological energy, orgone energy. It was translated from the German by Theodore P. Wolfe, a medical doctor who would be Dr. Reich’s translator through the 1940s. He also served as the editor of Dr. Reich’s first English language journal, The International Journal of Sex-Economy and Orgone-Research, the first issue of which also came out in 1942. (The International Journal was published through 1945.) Initially, articles in this journal were written mainly by Dr. Reich himself, and his former Norwegian colleagues, all forced to use pseudonyms because of the war. But with time, articles began to appear by Reich’s new American-trained students and colleagues.
Beginning early in the 1940s, Dr. Reich spent his summer months on a lake near Rangeley, Maine. Here he was able to purchase a large farm in 1942. He had a one-room cabin built in 1943, a laboratory in 1945, a larger cabin in 1946 and an observatory in 1948. The observatory today houses the Wilhelm Reich Museum, and is on the National Registry of Historical Places. The entire property was named “Orgonon”.
In 1950, Dr. Reich decided to live there year-round, and in May that year moved from New York with Ilse, their son, Peter, and Reich’s daughter Eva, with the idea of creating a center for the study of orgone. Several colleagues moved there with him, including two physicians with an interest in orgone, and Lois Wyvell, who ran the Orgone Press Institute. The artist William Moise joined Reich as an assistant at Orgonon, later marrying Eva Reich.
While orgone energy was dismissed by the scientific establishment, it became the in-thing with America’s avant-garde subculture. Many literary figures of the day, such as Norman Mailer, J.D. Salinger, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs, became enthusiastic devotees of the orgone accumulator.
Until 1947, Dr. Reich, his colleagues and family enjoyed a largely uncritical press in the United States. His psychoanalytic work had been favorably discussed in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Psychiatry. The Nation had also given his research and publications positive reviews, and he was listed in American Men of Science. This positive image took a sudden downturn in April and May 1947, when negative articles by the freelance writer Mildred Edie Brady were published in Harper’s and The New Republic. The New Republic article was entitled “The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich”.
Brady’s article was filled with distortions and innuendos about Reich’s sexual theories and orgone research. Brady’s most inflammatory claim was that Dr. Reich built orgone accumulators which were rented out to patients, who presumably derived “orgastic potency” from it. Implying that Dr. Reich was a danger to the public, Brady challenged the medical authorities to act against him. Brady’s smears were quickly picked up and reprinted verbatim by other publications (including hostile medical journals), without any fact-checking.
In July of that year, Dr. J.J. Durrett, director of the Medical Advisory Division of the Federal Trade Commission, wrote to the FDA asking them to investigate Dr. Reich’s claims about the health benefits of orgone. The result was a 10-year campaign by the FDA designed to personally discredit Dr. Reich and his work. The FDA focused on the orgone energy accumulators that Dr. Reich and other physicians were using experimentally with patients. Convinced that the accumulator was fraudulently promoted as a sexual and medical device, FDA agents spent many years interviewing Dr. Reich’s associates, physicians, students and patients – looking for dissatisfied users. None were ever found. As the FDA attack continued, so did Dr. Reich’s research. In the middle of Dr. Reich’s turmoil, he and Ilse Ollendorff divorced in September 1951. She continued working with him for another three years.
LEGAL TROUBLES –
DOR FROM THE
In 1951, Reich began writing about a negative orgone energy that he called dead orgone radiation (DOR). Around the same time, he designed and built a “cloudbuster” which was an experimental instrument that could affect weather patterns by altering concentrations of orgone energy (DOR) in the atmosphere. This was a large device with rows of 15-foot aluminum pipes mounted on a mobile platform, connected to cables which were inserted into water. The metal tubes were pointed up toward the atmosphere. Dr. Reich discovered that this design creates a stronger orgone energy system than that of the surrounding atmosphere. Water which strongly attracts and absorbs orgone, draws the atmospheric energy through the pipes. This movement of orgone from a lower to higher energy system was used by Reich to create clouds and to dissipate them. He conducted dozens of experiments with the cloudbuster, describing this research as cosmic orgone engineering.
In 1953, during a long drought, several farmers in Maine offered to pay him if he could save their blueberry crops by making it rain. The weather forecast did not predict rain for several days. Dr. Reich used the cloudbuster on the morning of July 6th, and according to Bangor’s Daily News a light rain began to fall that evening. Over the next two days, 2 inches of rain was recorded. The crops survived, the farmers declared themselves satisfied, and Dr. Reich received his fee.
Some believe this cloudbusting technology caused certain government officials, particularly those involved in the military industrial complex, to take actions to stop Dr. Reich’s work.
The FDA continued to advance their criminal pursuit of Dr. Reich and much was done to influence the media to defame his character and portray him as a sexual deviant. By February 1954, the FDA filed for an injunction against Dr. Reich in Federal Court in Portland, Maine. The complaint declared that “orgone energy does not exist”. It asked the court to prohibit the shipment of accumulators in interstate commerce and to ban all associated literature, which they claimed was labeling for the accumulators. Dr. Reich responded to the complaint with a long letter to Judge Clifford explaining that he could not appear in court, since doing so would allow a court of law to judge basic scientific research.
Judge Clifford did not accept Dr. Reich’s letter as a valid legal response, and the injunction was issued by default (as if Dr. Reich had not responded at all). But the injunction was more excessive than the initial complaint requested. It ordered that all orgone energy accumulators and their parts be destroyed. It ordered all materials containing instructions for the use of accumulators be destroyed as well. It also banned any of Dr. Reich’s books that mentioned orgone energy.
Dr. Reich, disheartened by the injunction, continued his work. He traveled to Arizona working on his cloudbuster project in the dry desert. While in Arizona, without his permission, one of Dr. Reich’s students, Dr. Michael Silvert, moved a truckload of books and accumulators across state lines, from Maine to New York, thereby violating the “interstate commerce” clause of the original injunction. As a result, Dr. Reich and Dr. Silvert were charged with criminal contempt.
Dr. Reich, distrustful of lawyers, acted as his own attorney. But he was forbidden from introducing his research findings as evidence. The trial took less than 20 minutes and no testimony was allowed – other than that regarding whether the transport of forbidden items across a state line had occurred. In 1956, both men were found guilty. Dr. Reich was sentenced to 2 years in a federal penitentiary. He appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court – but all appeals were denied. It was ordered that all orgone accumulators be destroyed, and all copies of Dr. Reich’s books burned.
by Dr. Reich
(and again in 1960)
Dr. Reich wrote to the judge:
“Scientific matters can only be clarified by prolonged, faithful bona fide observations in friendly exchange of opinion, never by litigation.
Man’s right to know, to learn, to inquire, to make bona fide errors, to investigate human emotion must, by all means be safe, if the word Freedom should ever be more than an empty political slogan.
If painstakingly elaborated and published scientific findings over a period of 30 years could not convince this administration or will not be able to convince any other social administration of the true nature of the discovery of the Life Energy, no litigation in court anywhere will ever help to do so.
I therefore submit, in the name of truth and justice, that I shall not appear in court as the defendant against a plaintiff who by his mere complaint has already shown his ignorance in matters of natural science.
I do so at the risk of being, by mistake, fully enjoined in all my activities.”
And so, on August 23, 1956, several tons of hardcover books by physician and scientist Wilhelm Reich – as well as research journals and bulletins published regularly from 1942 to 1953 – were removed from the storage facility of his private press in Greenwich Village, and loaded onto a truck. The truck then drove several blocks north to Gansevoort Street (by the Hudson River), a place where New York City garbage trucks routinely dumped their trash. The literature was dumped into a large concrete pit, scooped up by a pair of large metal jaws affixed to an overhead crane, and dropped into an enormous incinerator.
Character Analysis – first published in Europe in the spring of 1933, a few months after Reich had fled from Nazi Germany, with two enlarged English editions published in America in 1945 and 1948. Regarded then and now as a classic, pioneering text of psychoanalytic technique, written by a man once considered Sigmund Freud’s most promising student.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism – also published in 1933 in Europe, six months after Reich – an outspoken anti-fascist – had fled from Nazi Germany. This book is still considered a classic psychological analysis and criticism of fascism as manifested in both Nazism and Communism.
The Sexual Revolution – first published in Europe in 1936, in which Reich draws upon his experience as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst to critique the sexual conditions and conflicts in Europe and the Soviet Union. With two revised English editions published in America in 1945 and 1949.
The Discovery of the Orgone, Volume I – The Function of the Orgasm. It was first published in 1942 in New York where Reich had emigrated in 1939, arriving in America just four days before the outbreak of World War II. Dr. Reich wrote this book to introduce Americans to over two decades of his clinical psychoanalytic and psychiatric work in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
The Discovery of the Orgone – Volume 2: The Cancer Biopathy. Published in 1948, it documents the first decade of Dr. Reich’s biological and clinical cancer research starting in his laboratory in Oslo, Norway, and continuing in his laboratories in Forest Hills, New York and in Rangeley, Maine.
Listen, Little Man! – also published in 1948, Dr. Reich’s reflection upon his inner turmoil as a research physician and scientist observing irrational and destructive responses to his work. With 34 pages of illustrations by cartoonist and children’s author William Steig – a supporter of Reich’s work – who would later go on to write the book Shrek, upon which the hit movies were based.
Ether, God and Devil, published in 1949, in which Dr. Reich describes the methodology of his scientific research.
Cosmic Superimposition, published in 1951, in which Dr. Reich discusses how man is biologically rooted in nature.
People in Trouble – published in 1953, an autobiographical work recounting Dr. Reich’s involvement as a physician with the Communist and Socialist movements in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, and his profound disillusionment with those movements.
The Murder of Christ – also published in 1953, Dr. Reich’s unique exploration of the meaning of Christ’s life.
This was actually the second court-ordered destruction of Wilhelm Reich’s literature in America. Two months earlier, on June 26, 1956, a much smaller destruction of literature had taken place at Reich’s home, laboratory and research center in Rangeley, Maine. At that time, a handful of boxes of Reich’s softcover publications had been burned outside of his laboratory.
A third destruction of Dr. Reich’s literature took place four years later in New York City, on March 17, 1960, when additional boxes of his publications were taken to that same incinerator plant on Gansevoort Street and destroyed.
Even after Dr. Reich’s death, his books and research journals were periodically seized by FDA agents and federal marshals, and burned in Maine and New York incinerators. In other words, Dr. Reich, whose work was first destroyed by the Nazis in 1933, suffered the same heartbreaking experience at the hands of the U.S. Government some 23 years later. No scientific or professional organization – nor any journalist, writer or “civil liberties” union – publicly objected to the book burning or acted to assist Dr. Reich in any manner. Moreover, his laboratory headquarters were also invaded by FDA agents, who destroyed remaining orgone accumulators with axes.
Not a single psychiatric or scientific journal covered Reich’s passing. Beyond a few minor newspapers, his life merited only a paragraph obituary in Time:
“Died. Wilhelm Reich, 60, once-famed psychoanalyst, associate and follower of Sigmund Freud, founder of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation, lately better known for unorthodox sex and energy theories; of a heart attack; in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, Pa; where he was serving a two-year term for distributing his invention, the “orgone energy accumulator” (in violation of the Food and Drug Act), a telephone-booth-size device that supposedly gathered energy from the atmosphere, and could cure, while the patient sat inside, common colds, cancer, and impotence.”
Dr. Reich was taken into custody and placed in the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Philadelphia. After 8 months of incarceration, on November 3, 1957, at the age of 60, he died of a heart attack. Dr. Reich’s final resting place is on the 175-acre, forested property of Orgonon located in Rangeley, Maine. The estate welcomes visitors.
Dr. Reich’s archives are maintained by the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust. According to their website, this Trust was established in Dr. Reich’s Last Will and Testament in 1957. The Trust operates the Wilhelm Reich Museum in Rangeley, Maine, manages Reich’s Archives (i.e. the Archives of the Orgone Institute) at the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University, and continues to make the writings of Wilhelm Reich available through their website and at the Wilhelm Reich Museum Bookstore in Rangeley, Maine.
There was renewed interest in November 2007, when the Reich archives at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University were unsealed; Dr. Reich had left instructions that his unpublished papers be stored for 50 years after his death. James Strick began studying Reich’s laboratory notebooks from the 1935-39 bion experiments in Norway. In 2015, Harvard University Press published Strick’s Wilhelm Reich, Biologist, in which he writes that Reich’s work in Oslo “represented the cutting edge of light microscopy and time-lapse micro-cinematography”. He argues that the dominant narrative of Dr. Reich as a pseudoscientist is incorrect and that Reich’s story is “much more complex and interesting”.
Dr. Reich so comprehensively objectified the existence and functions of primordial energy (orgone energy) and developed practical devices to use it in simple, yet remarkable ways. He was naturally inquisitive, with a strict, diligent scientific method – this led him from one discovery to another. Though his life was shadowed with political turmoil and controversy, he bestowed upon humanity a remarkable legacy.
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Blumenfeld, Robert (2006). Wilhelm Reich and Character Analysis, Tools and Techniques for Character Interpretation. Limelight Editions.
Brady, Mildred Edie (26 May 1947). The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich, The New Republic.
Dadoun, Roger. (2005). Wilhelm Reich. International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. Retrieved from http://www.gale.cengage.com/InContext/bio.htm
Danto, Elizabeth Ann (2007). Freud’s Free Clinics: Psychoanalysis & Social Justice, 1918–1938, Columbia University Press.
DeMeo, James The Orgone Accumulator Handbook – Dr. James DeMeo maintains an extensive website – http://www.orgonelab.org/ – dedicated to Reichian technology and has written numerous articles describing the political forces behind Dr. Reich’s condemnation.
DeMeo, James. In Defense of Wilhelm Reich: Opposing the 80-Years’ War of Mainstream Defamatory Slander Against One of the 20th Century’s Most Brilliant Natural Scientists, Natural Energy Works, Ashland 2013.
Edwards, Paul. (2006). Wilhelm Reich. Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://www.gale.cengage.com/InContext/bio.htm
Edwards, Paul (1977). The Greatness of Wilhelm Reich, The Humanist, March/April 1974, reprinted in Charles A. Garfield (ed.) (1977). Rediscovery of the Body. A Psychosomatic View of Life and Death, Dell, pp. 41–50.
Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015: From 1956 to 1960 many of his writings and his equipment were seized and destroyed by FDA officials. In the 21st century some considered this wholesale destruction to be one of the most blatant examples of censorship in U.S. history.
Reich, Annie. (1929). Zur Frage der Sexualaufklärung. Zeitschrift für psychoanalytische Pädagogik, 3, 98-100.
Reich, Wilhelm (1920). Über einen Fall von Durchbruch der Inzestschranke, Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, VII.
Reich, Wilhelm (1942). The Function of the Orgasm.
Reich, Wilhelm (1953). People in Trouble.
Reich, Wilhelm (1957). Contact with Space: Oranur Second Report, 1951-1956.
Reich, Wilhelm (1973). Ether, God and Devil. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Reich, Wilhelm (1974). The Cancer Biopathy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1948).
Reich, Wilhelm (1982). The Bioelectrical Investigation of Sexuality and Anxiety.
Reich, Wilhelm (1988). Leidenschaft der Jugend/Passion of Youth. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Reich, Wilhelm (1994). Beyond Psychology: Letters and Journals 1934-39. Farrar Straus & Giroux.
Reich, Wilhelm (1967). Reich Speaks of Freud. Souvenir Press.
Roeckelein, Jon E. (2006). Reich’s Orgone/Orgonomy Theory, Elsevier’s Dictionary of Psychological Theories. Elsevier.
Sharaf, Myron (1994). Fury on Earth: A Biography of Wilhelm Reich, Da Capo Press; first published by St. Martin’s Press, 1983.
Shapiro, D. (2002). Theoretical reflections on Wilhelm Reich’s character analysis. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 56(3), 338-46. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/213130972?accountid=1229
Strick, James E. (2015). Wilhelm Reich, Biologist, Harvard University Press.
Time magazine (18 November 1957). Milestones, Nov. 18, 1957 (obituary).
PUBLISHED WORKS BY DR. WILHELM REICH
German Selected early Papers
Über einen Fall von Durchbruch der Inzestschranke (About a Case of Breaching the Incest Taboo), Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, VII, 1920
Triebbegriffe von Forel bis Jung (Forel’s Argument Against Jung), Der Koitus und die Geschlechter (Sexual Intercourse and Gender), Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, 1921
Über Spezifitaet der Onanieformen (Concerning Specific Forms of Masturbation), Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, VIII, 1922
Zur Triebenergetik (The Drive for Power), Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, 1923
Kindliche Tagtraeume einer spaeteren Zwangsneurose (Childhood Daydreams of a Later Neurosis), Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, 1923
Über Genitalitaet (About Genitality), Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, IX, 1923
Die Rolle der Genitalitaet in der Neurosentherapie (The Role of Genitality in the Treatment of Neurosis), Zeitschrift für Aerztliche Psychotherapie (Journal for Medical Psychotherapy), IX, 1923
Der Tic als Onanieequivalent (The Tic as a Masturbation Equivalent), Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, 1924
Die therapeutische Bedeutung der Genitallibido (The Therapeutic Importance of Genital Libido), and Über Genitalität vom Standpunkt der psa. Prognose und Libidotheorie. (On Genitality from the Standpoint of PENSA. Prognosis and Libido Theory) Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, X, 1924
Eine hysterische Psychose in statu nascendi (Hysterical Psychosis in Statu Nascendi), Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, XI, 1925
Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend, Sexpol Verlag, 1932 (pamphlet)
Dialektischer Materialismus und Psychoanalyse, Kopenhagen: Verlag für Sexualpolitik, 1934 (pamphlet)
Der triebhafte Charakter: Eine psychoanalytische Studie zur Pathologie des Ich, Wien: Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag, 1925
Die Funktion des Orgasmus: Zur Psychopathologie und zur Soziologie des Geschlechtslebens, Wien: Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag, 1927
Sexualerregung und Sexualbefriedigung, Münster Verlag, 1929
Geschlechtsreife, Enthaltsamkeit, Ehemoral: Eine Kritik der bürgerlichen Sexualreform, 1930
Der Einbruch der Sexualmoral: Zur Geschichte der sexuellen Ökonomie, Kopenhagen: Verlag für Sexualpolitik, 1932, 2nd edition 1935
Charakteranalyse: Technik und Grundlagen für studierende und praktizierende Analytiker, Berlin, 1933
Massenpsychologie des Faschismus, 1933
Was ist Klassenbewußtsein?: Über die Neuformierung der Arbeiterbewegung, 1934
Psychischer Kontakt und vegetative Strömung, 1935
Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf: Zur sozialistischen Umstrukturierung des Menschen, 1936
Experimentelle Ergebniße Über die Elektrische Funktion von Sexualität und Angst, 1937
Menschen im Staat, 1937
Die Bione: Zur Entstehung des vegetativen Lebens, Sexpol Verlag, 1938
Die Entdeckung des Orgons Erster Teil: Die Funktion des Orgasmus, 1942
Rede an den kleinen Mann, 1945
Eine hysterische Psychose in statu nascendi (Hysterical Psychosis in Statu Nascendi), Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, XI, 1925
Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend, Sexpol Verlag, 1932 (pamphlet)
Dialektischer Materialismus und Psychoanalyse, Kopenhagen: Verlag für Sexualpolitik, 1934 (pamphlet)
BOOKS IN ENGLISH
The Discovery of Orgone, Volume 1: The Function of the Orgasm, 1942 (Die Entdeckung des Orgons Erster Teil: Die Funktion des Orgasmus, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
Character Analysis, 1945 (Charakteranalyse, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
The Sexual Revolution, 1945 (Die Sexualität im Kulturkampf, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
The Mass Psychology of Fascism, 1946 (Massenpsychologie des Faschismus, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
The Discovery of Orgone, Volume 2: The Cancer Biopathy, 1948
Listen, Little Man!, 1948 (Rede an den kleinen Mann, translated by Theodore P. Wolfe)
The Orgone Energy Accumulator, Its Scientific and Medical Use, 1948
Ether, God and Devil, 1949
Cosmic Superimposition: Man’s Orgonotic Roots in Nature, 1951
The Invasion of Compulsory Sex-Morality, 1951
The Oranur Experiment: First Report (1947-51), 1951
The Murder of Christ (The Emotional Plague of Mankind), 1953
People in Trouble (The Emotional Plague of Mankind), 1953 (Menschen im Staat)
The Einstein Affair, 1953
Contact with Space: Oranur Second Report, 1951–1956, 1957
(ed.) Zeitschrift für Politische Psychologie und Sexualökonomie (Journal for Political Psychology and Sex-Economy), using pseudonym Ernst Parell, 1934-38
(ed.) Klinische und Experimentelle Berichte (Clinical and Experimental Reports), c. 1937-39
(ed.) International Journal of Sex-Economy & Orgone Research, 1942-45
(ed.) Annals of the Orgone Institute, 1947-49
(ed.) Orgone Energy Bulletin, 1949-53
(ed.) CORE – Cosmic Orgone Engineering, 1954-55
Selected Writings: An Introduction to Orgonomy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1960
Reich Speaks of Freud, Souvenir Press, 1967
Sexpol. Essays 1929-34, Random House, 1972
The Sexual Struggle of Youth, Socialist Reproduction, 1972 (Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend)
Early Writings: Volume One, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1975
The Bion Experiments: On the Origin of Life, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979 (Die Bione: Zur Entstehung des vegetativen Lebens)
Genitality in the Theory and Therapy of Neurosis, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980
Record of a Friendship: The Correspondence of Wilhelm Reich and A.S. Neill (1936-57), 1981
The Bioelectrical Investigation of Sexuality and Anxiety, 1982
Children of the Future: On the Prevention of Sexual Pathology, 1983 (the chapter entitled The Sexual Rights of Youth is a revision of Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend)
Reich’s autobiographical writings in four volumes:
Mary Boyd Higgins and Chester M. Raphael (eds.), Passion of Youth: An Autobiography, 1897-1922. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988
Mary Boyd Higgins (ed.), Beyond Psychology: Letters and Journals 1934-1939, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994
Mary Boyd Higgins (ed.), American Odyssey: Letters and Journals 1940-1947, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999
Mary Boyd Higgins (ed.), Where’s the Truth?: Letters and Journals, 1948-1957, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012