Biography of Famous Sexual Figure Keeper of the Orgone Wilhelm Reich Part 3

About the famous sexual figure Wilhelm Reich aka the Keeper or the Orgone, biography and history of the sex psychiatrist.


Wilhelm Reich

During the last years of his life, Reich abandoned psychiatry for what he felt were his more important discoveries in physics. In 1956, he was sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment at the Lewisburg penitentiary for disobeying a Federal court order to cease the distribution of orgone accumulators.

He died of a heart attack in 1957 on the day preceding his release. His death at such a peculiar time plus his disregard for the law in general were seized upon by some of his critics as an opportunity to accuse him of unconscious martyrdom.

But Reich had always been treated with disrespect, slander, and spite by the authoritarian establishment. In New York he had been held by the FBI at Ellis Island for several weeks in December, 1941. No reasons were ever given for that detention, but it was the beginning of the U.S. entry into W.W. II, and Reich's background was probably felt to be questionable. In 1954, the FDA seized his orgone accumulators, and many of his books and periodicals, which were subsequently burned, some of them in 1956 and the others in 1960.

In his later years Reich became obsessed with the menace of communism (which he called "red fascism") and with "emotional plague." The latter referred to the evil wrought by those who vent their frustration and sexual illness on the world, especially under the guise of fighting for some great cause. This label he eventually conferred upon anyone who opposed his ideas. He became more and more grandiose and megalomaniacal, indeed paranoic--although not entirely without reason. In 1947, the journalist Mildred E. Brady made a vicious attack on Reich in the New Republic. Her article was rife with distortion and slander and yet it was reprinted throughout the U.S. It was perhaps this widely quoted article, more than anything else, that inspired the FDA to move against him.

Although government psychiatrists certified that Reich was sane, it was the consensus of everyone but his staunchest followers that he was mad. Dr. Nic Waal, who wrote a sketch of Reich, said of him, "He went to pieces, partly on his own--but mostly due to other people. A human being cannot bear cruelty and loneliness in the long run."

It appears that the scientific community as well as certain hostile elements in the public at large may have done this pioneer a considerable injustice. Despite official condemnation, Food and Drug Administration scientists were obliged to admit that they found some evidence for the orgone. Several eminent persons, moreover, including Einstein himself, paid considerable attention to this man and his ideas. Still, no reputable scientist has ever attempted to pursue his experiments with any appreciable resolution.

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