Perhaps he had had too many orgasms that day…
Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian psychoanalyst, a member of the second generation of analysts after Sigmund Freud. The author of several influential books, some of my favourite titles being “The Mass Psychology of Fascism”, “The Function of the Orgasm”, “Listen Little Man!”, “Ether, God and Devil and Cosmic Superimposition”, “The Murder of Christ”, “Sex-Pol” and more intriguing ones.
Almost as good as my own titles, all available at extremely good value from my Amazon Author pages…
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Reich became known as one of the most radical figures in the history of Psychiatry. Well, you know, until me.
Reich’s work on character contributed to the development of Anna Freud’s The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (1936), and his idea of muscular armour – the expression of the personality in the way the body moves – shaped innovations such as body psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, bioenergetic analysis and primal therapy. His writing influenced generations of intellectuals; he coined the phrase “the sexual revolution” and according to one historian acted as its midwife.
The man who invented Free Love!
Reich was a sexual evangelist who held that satisfactory orgasm made the difference between sickness and health. It was the panacea for all ills, he thought. Well, it’s worth a try!
During the 1968 student uprisings in Paris and Berlin, students scrawled his name on walls and threw copies of The Mass Psychology of Fascism at police.
After graduating in medicine from the University of Vienna in 1922, Reich became deputy director of Freud’s outpatient clinic, the Vienna Ambulatorium.
Described by Elizabeth Danto as a large man with a cantankerous style who managed to look scruffy and elegant at the same time, he tried to reconcile psychoanalysis with Marxism, arguing that neurosis is rooted in sexual and socio-economic conditions, and in particular in a lack of what he called “orgastic potency.”
He visited patients in their homes to see how they lived, and took to the streets in a mobile clinic, promoting adolescent sexuality and the availability of contraceptives, abortion and divorce, a provocative message in Catholic Austria. He said he wanted to “attack the neurosis by its prevention rather than treatment.”
From the 1930s he became an increasingly controversial figure, and from 1932 until his death in 1957 all his work was self-published. His message of sexual liberation disturbed the psychoanalytic community and his political associates, and his vegetotherapy, in which he massaged his disrobed patients to dissolve their “muscular armour,” violated the key taboos of psychoanalysis. He moved to New York in 1939, in part to escape the Nazis, and shortly after arriving coined the term “orgone” – from “orgasm” and “organism” – for a biological energy he said he had discovered, which he said others called God.
He even lived and worked at a place called Orgonon.
In 1940 Reich invented the Orgone Energy Accumulator, a wooden cupboard about the size of a telephone booth, lined with metal and insulated with steel wool.
It was a box in which, it might be said, his ideas about sex came almost prepackaged.
Reich considered his orgone accumulator an almost magical device that could improve its users’ “orgastic potency” and, by extension, their general, and above all mental, health. He claimed that it could charge up the body with the life force that circulated in the atmosphere and which he christened “orgone energy”; in concentrated form, these mysterious currents could not only help dissolve repressions but treat cancer, radiation sickness and a host of minor ailments.
As he saw it, the box’s organic material absorbed orgone energy, and the metal lining stopped it from escaping, acting as a “greenhouse” and, supposedly, causing a noticeable rise in temperature in the box.
The charismatic Reich even persuaded Albert Einstein to investigate the machine.
In the 1970s Burroughs wrote an article for Oui magazine entitled “All the Accumulators I Have Owned”. In it, he boasted: “Your intrepid reporter, at age 37, achieved spontaneous orgasm, no hands, in an orgone accumulator built in an orange grove in Pharr, Texas.”
At the height of his James Bond fame, Sean Connery swore by the device, and Woody Allen parodied it in Sleeper (1973), giving it the immortal nickname the “Orgasmatron”.
The evil Dr. Durand Durand in the feature film Barbarella (1968) seems to be based on Reich; he places Barbarella (Jane Fonda) in his Excessive Machine so that she dies of pleasure, but rather than killing her the machine burns out. From whence Duran Duran chose their name.
The song Cloudbusting by Kate Bush alludes to his follow up, the Cloudbuster, people still use similar machines today to try to disperse chemtrails from planes. The video features Donald Sutherland.
This is a time he may have gone a tiny bit doolally crackers, Reich had started to suffer from paranoid delusions that the world was under attack by UFOs.
The armour-clad orgone box was always something of a protective shield, illustrative of Reich’s sense of being besieged, the “cloudbuster” being an orgone gun that was designed not only to influence the weather – diverting hurricanes and making it rain in the desert – but to be the first line of defence against an alien invasion. It was a kind of orgone box turned inside out, so that it could work its therapeutic magic on the cosmos.
Following two critical articles about him in The New Republic and Harper’s in 1947, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration obtained an injunction against the interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and associated literature, believing they were dealing with a “fraud of the first magnitude.”
Charged with contempt in 1956 for having violated the injunction, Reich was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, and that summer over six tons of his publications were burned by order of the court. He died in prison of heart failure just over a year later, days before he was due to apply for parole.
Hmm… parallels with the suppression of Nikola Tesla’s inventions by Uncle Trump? Dies conveniently in prison? Books burned? Could there be more to this than meets the eye I wonder? Or had both just lost the plot in their later years after the most promising of starts?
Orgasms should most certainly be studied in great detail, leaving no stone unturned, Tim Ferriss gives it a jolly good go in “The 4-Hour Body”, amongst things such as his scientifically tested techniques for a 15 minute orgasm he also mentions the Orgasmic Meditation or OM movement, perhaps they have a MeetUp near you?