Zwei Fehlinterpretationen über Wilhelm Reich

Es wird häufig so dargestellt, daß Reich keine Kritik ertrug, sich mit Ja-Sagern umgab und paranoid war, insbesondere was die „kommunistische Verschwörung“ gegen ihn betraf. Liest man das mittlerweile posthum erschienene Material, die Erinnerungen von Myron Sharaf und Elsworth F. Baker, die nicht nur engsten Umgang mit Reich hatten, sondern zeitlebens ihre entsprechenden Erfahrungen mit Reichs übrigem Umfeld austauschen konnten (Baker behandelte sogar Familienmitglieder Reichs psychotherapeutisch!), zeigt sich ein differenzierteres Bild.

Beispielsweise konnte Reich aus rein arbeitsökonomischen und nicht zuletzt auch finanziellen Gründen unmöglich auf jeden (vermeintlich) „wissenschaftlichen“ Einwand eingehen und bei seinen Versuchen bis zum Exzeß alle Faktoren kontrollieren. Dann wäre er nämlich zeitlebens nicht über die „bioelektrischen Versuche“ hinausgekommen.

Zweitens war Reich anfangs in seiner Herangehensweise extrem liberal und „basisdemokratisch“, ohne jedwede hierarchische Grenzen. Um so schmerzhafter müssen die erwähnten (und andere) „neunmalklugen“ Einwände auf ihn gewirkt, haben, die von Leuten kamen, die definitiv nicht wichtig waren, nicht wirklich von Belang waren.

Drittens hat Reich sehr wohl Einwände zur Kenntnis genommen, wenn sie von Leuten stammten, die sich zumindest annäherungsweise auf seinem Niveau bewegten. Dies gilt insbesondere was seinen Umgang mit der Food and Drug Administration und der „roten Verschwörung“ betraf. Ein Paranoiker hätte den Einwand von Leuten wie Sharaf, Raphael und Baker, es handele sich „nur“ um eine „emotionale Verschwörung“, jedoch nicht um eine „Verschwörung“ im üblichen Sinne, zornentbrannt vom Tisch gewischt, statt zu sagen (ich paraphrasiere): „Mag sein, daß Sie recht haben!“ Kurioserweise kann man heute argumentieren, daß Reich nicht „paranoid“ genug war, da er die kommunistische Verschwörung, etwa die Rolle von Arthur Garfield Hays und Felix Frankfurter, gar nicht in ihrem ganzen Ausmaß sah (siehe Der Rote Faden).

Zusammengefaßt: Reich war kein Idiot, wie manche untergründig insinuieren!

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7 Antworten to “Zwei Fehlinterpretationen über Wilhelm Reich”

  1. Tzindaro Says:

    From my correspondence a few years ago with Bill Troop, whose father was one of the original orgonomists in the 40s

    Jan 11, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    That is precisely the kind of thing that happens when co-drinkers collaborate. And Wolfe could drink a bottle of Scotch with no apparent ill-effect. We’re talking serious addiction problems here, in an era where they were not discussed and not well-understood.

    At 11/01/2014 21:29, you wrote:
    I knew about Reich, but not about Wolfe or your father. And I do not really know much about alcoholism in that way. My own father never drank, and as far as I know, nobody else in my family did either.

    But it does explain some of the paranoia in the orgonomic movement if we can assume there were others in the group who were into drinking too. The whole UFO / communist / journalism / medical / scientific / Air Force conspiracy theory is strong evidence that something besides just ordinary influence by the news media was going on in Reich’s mind and the minds of enough of the people around him that it all looked rational to them.

    Wolfe was the one who wrote that pamphlet on the Emotional Plague VS. Orgone Biophysics, and put into print the theory of Brady being a Communist, which otherwise was only a verbal suggestion by Reich. At least I am assuming it was an idea of Reich first, and Wolfe only wrote it for publication, but I could be wrong on that. It is possible Wolfe thought of it first and Reich became convinced of it after hearing it from him.

    Is that possible? Could Reich have been in a symbiotic paranoia relationship with another hard-drinker, Wolfe, and they both reinforced each other’s thinking on such issues?

    From: Bill Troop
    Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2014 12:58 PM
    Subject: Re:
    There was a lot of additive drinking in the Reich circle. It’s the one secret, apparently, you’ve never penetrated. It is probably the guiltiest secret of the circle, for a variety of reasons.

    At 11/01/2014 18:29, you wrote:
    No. It never occurred to me. And not only alcohol. Jerome Eden was into drinking several cups of coffee an hour! All day long!! He was also very paranoid. No wonder. That much caffine would be as effective as speed.

    From: Bill Troop >
    Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2014 11:47 AM
    Subject: Re:
    Has it ever occurred to you to attempt to discover anything
    about the high levels of alcoholism that existed amongst Reich and
    his circle? That could explain a lot of the baffling irrationality.

  2. Tzindaro Says:

    It is funny to think of Reich and Wolfe sitting down together, getting drunk and thinking up a drunken fantasy that has since become a staple of the Reichian conspiracy theory sub-culture.

    Does his thinking the Air Force was intentionally trying to help him by leaving contrails where they would show him what the atmosphere was doing sound like a drunken fantasy to you? How about his thinking the KGB was out to sabotage his reputation? How about his comparing himself to Christ? Would a drunk do that?

    Here is another question: Is it possible that he wrote The Murder Of Christ while under the influence? That might explain the way that book is written.

    Reich was a brilliant man, and he made many important discoveries and had valuable insights, but he had some major short-comings too, and his tendency to jump to conclusions about whatever seemed right to him without waiting for evidence is one of them.

  3. Tzindaro Says:

    From my correspondence with Bill Troop

    I knew Reich drank, but not that it had so much influence on his thinking. I thought, for example, his paranoia about communism was based on identification with Trotsky and his egotism in expecting the KGB would consider him important enough to go after next. I was under the impression his UFO invasion theory was due to the intense interest in UFOs in the public attention at that time. I thought his belief the U.S. government would protect him was only seeing the government as a father-image as so many refugees did. For example, I wrote:

    Reich’s McCarthy-era paranoid fantasy of communists infiltrating American government agencies was taken directly from the mass media of the time, but he compounded it by thinking he personally was the target of Soviet espionage and that the FDA case against was instigated by communist agents working on direct orders from Moscow. He also thought journalists who disbelieved his work were communist-inspired and directed from Moscow too.

    This ignored the obvious: the FDA has brought similar cases against practitioners of other types of alternative medicine, the theory of a previously unknown life energy is so distant from the theories in modern medicine that anyone with medical training will automatically jump to the conclusion is cannot possibly be true, and journalists today, long after there is no more Soviet Union, still publish articles on the theme that Reich, no matter how badly mistreated by the legal system, was wrong about the existence of a life energy.

    Reich had no idea how far he had come from where the medical establishment was. He did not realize how strange and unbelievable his work sounded to them. He could not see how wildly improbable it seemed to the scientific community, to scientifically-educated journalists, and to the agencies charged with protecting the public from fraudulent medical claims. Instead, he fell for the McCarthyist line that there were Soviet agents in all government agencies, even those, like the FDA, whose province was only to control the drug industry to protect the public from medical fraud, an area that would not be of much concern to an enemy nation as would the diplomatic corps or military forces.

    Try this experiment: talk to a medical doctor without mentioning Reich’s name or using any of his specific terminology, but describe the orgone accumulator and what it is supposed to do. Then ask him if he thinks it would be an effective treatment for a life-threatening condition. Then try it with a physics teacher from any university, asking if he thinks it would collect a form of energy unknown to science and violate the second law of thermodynamics. Well, you already can guess what answers you would get. So why expect the doctors and scientists of the 1950s to react any differently? And why then is there a need for enemy agents to bring a case against a person who was selling such a device to cancer victims?

    Reich thought the motive of the Soviets was to gain a monopoly of his innovative treatment, the accumulator, for their own use while depriving the Americans of it. In the Cold War era not much information was available to the American public on what was going on in the Soviet Union. Today we know for an absolute certainty that there is no medical use of the orgone accumulator in any hospital in Russia. If the Soviet government ever had thought the accumulator was a worthwhile treatment, they apparently never got around to using it.

    Reich compounded his problems several times over by also pùblishing books dealing with sex. If he had not written on that highly-charged and emotional issue and had stuck to less explosive topics in his earlier work, he might have avoided a lot of hostility. In the 50s there was still a lot of puritanism in a degree that seems impossible today, and his getting a reputation for advocating sexual freedom did nothing to help him avoid notoriety.

    And since cancer scares people more than most diseases, he also made himself a target by using cancer as a demonstration model for his theory of systematic breakdown. If he had been writing about a treatment for arthritis, for example, nobody would have bothered to prosecute him. But since it was a cancer treatment, that triggered a reaction from frightened people.

    So instead of jumping on the right-wing bandwagon and claiming the magazine articles critical of his work were written by Soviet agents under orders to discredit him, and that an American government agency responsible for protecting the public from false medical claims was controlled by Soviet agents trying to deprive the American public of his discoveries so the Soviet Union could have a monopoly of their use in treating it’s citizens, he would have done better to have realized that he had gone too far ahead of the times and the reaction he was getting was a normal response to the strangeness of his claims.

    Real conspiracies do exist. But there is a difference between seeing one that is really there and seeing them everywhere without any evidence. The tendency to become convinced of a conspiracy without actual evidence is due to having, as a small child, not ever having found out, at least not in a manner one could process, what Daddy and Mommy were doing in the bedroom with the door closed.

    That childhood experience can cause one, years later, as an adult, to see everything in terms of Big People, doing Something Bad in Secret. The childhood experience gets projected onto other Big People who hold Great Power, usually the government, but also sometimes the Church, a hidden cabal of a distrusted minority group such as Jews or Muslims, or agents of a feared enemy nation.

    The distribution of conspiracy theories is not equal among the population. It is most common on the right of the political spectrum because that is where the most sexual repression is found, so that is where there are more adults who were never able to discover what Daddy and Mommy were doing, or rather, were never able, later, when they reached puberty and should have been able to figure it out, could not assimilate the information and admit that was something Daddy and Mommy would do.

    In recent years, as the feelings of helplessness in the face of authority figures with overwhelming power over the lives of helpless individuals has grown, more and more people are reverting to a childhood state of helplessness and dependency. And along with that revival of early feelings come the conviction that Big People are Up To Something Bad in Secret. One result of this reverting to childhood feelings of helplessness against these Big People is to see conspiracies by the Government everywhere.

    But in almost all cases, it is only the particular conspiracies of the usual populist conspiracy-theory movement that become popular enough for most people to believe them. There are any number of websites about HAARP, Chemtrails, and UFO cover-ups, but none on real, well-documented conspiracies like police cars that carry throw-down guns or FBI agents allowing gangsters like Whitey Bulgar to kill hundreds of people over decades in exchange for information on his competition.

    And it is usually the same people who get interested in the official populist conspiracy theory movement who, if they become interested in orgonomy, fall into the official version of orgonomy, the Communist Agents Were Out To Get Reich version, or one of it’s variants, the Air Force Was Trying To Cover Up The Cloudbuster version, or the CIA Was Trying To Hide Reich’s Discoveries version, or whatever other version fits in with their childhood feelings of some Big People doing Something Bad in Secret.

    To be credible, a claim of a conspiracy must have evidence. and so far, there is no evidence that Reich was ever the victim of anything other than normal law enforcement procedures and died a natural death under the stress of imprisonment.

    May I suggest that one reason for the suspicion that he was murdered held by so many of his following was that they could not bring themselves to admit that their savior, Reich,. could have suffered from a biopathic disease and died of natural causes. They had to consider him perfect and to admit that he was not perfect would have been unbearable to them.

    You open a whole new area of Orgonomic History Studies with your suggestion a lot of these ideas were due to alcoholism. And the drinking issues of so many of the key people around him, supporting and encouraging these ideas is an issue that needs to be explored. But you are the only source for all this. I wish you would write it all up in a systematic presentation.

    I included some of what you said in this item:

    Reich was under a lot of stress about a lot of things. His work was in danger because the injunction had deprived it of funding from accumulator rentals and book sales, his ego must have been crushed by the government he had trusted considering him a criminal, and most of his students and followers had deserted him out of fear that they would lose their hard-won medical licences if they were known to be connected with him.

    Also, a week before he died, Reich had had some disagreement with his daughter, Eva. I do not know what it was about, but he changed his will, appointing his common-law wife, Aurora Karrer Reich, as the trustee of his estate instead of Eva. That will, which was not found among his effects when he died, would have made a lot of difference to the subsequent history of the estate, but the argument with Eva that caused him to change his previous will would certainly have contributed to his stress.

    Reich must also have been feeling unhealthy because he asked his son-in-law, Bill Moise, to bring a cloudbuster down to the vicinity of the prison to remove DOR from the area to help keep Reich alive. Bill did that operation, and it might have done Reich’s health some good, but to have asked for it, Reich must have felt he was not well and needed such help.

    To be killed in prison, one must be considered important to the people in power. And that was not so of Reich. They considered him a crank, a mentally ill person, or a crook who was defrauding the sick with promises of a cancer cure that could not possibly work.

    The standard reaction of any educated person today, especially any person with any medical or scientific training, is all the proof needed to know what the medical and scientific people would have told their employers if consulted. Any well educated person would think immediately that a wooden box lined with sheet metal cannot cure anything. And if you ask any educated person today about it, and they have never heard of it or of Reich, they will say it is useless, but the ignorant public must be protected from quacks who sell fake cures that prevent people from going to real doctors to get officially approved treatments.

    There is no reason to suppose the drug companies in the 50s were worried that a box lined with sheet metal would put them out of business. There is far more reason to think well-meaning public-spirited people trying to protect what they considered the less informed members of the public from a fraud selling a fake cancer cure were responsible for jailing Reich.

    The highly respected magazine, Consumer Reports had published an article warning the public about this particular fraud. That magazine, and the organization that published it, Consumer’s Union, had a mission to tell their readers what products on the market were safe and effective and which ones were not. In this case, they made a mistake, but it is an understandable one that anyone with conventional medical knowledge would have made.

    And the fact that Reich, who was caught up in the hysterical anti-communist fantasies of the times thought the article was written at the order of the Soviet government is more likely evidence of his drinking too heavily than of Soviet agents being out to destroy his reputation.

    It is known from the biographies published about him that Reich drank a lot, and I have recently been informed by someone in a position to know, that his collaborator, Dr. Theodore Wolfe, was an alcoholic who could drink a whole bottle of Scotch at a sitting without any noticeable effect, which implies a level of tolerance only possible to a confirmed heavy drinker. And it was Wolfe, not Reich, who first introduced the idea of „Emotional Plague“ and „Communists“ being behind the article by Mildred Brady.

    So my conclusion is that the whole fantasy of communist spies being out to get Reich came out of a bottle.

  4. Tzindaro Says:

    Bill Troop

    Dec 11, 2017 at 10:40 AM

    I’m not the only source. The key (for me) was Ilse. Not everything that she wrote or said is publicly available, but enough is. I entirely forget now how Sharaf dealt with these issues–probably inadequately.

    But nobody likes to discuss advanced alcoholism, least of all Reichians.

    Google alcoholism paranoia

    alcoholism delusion

    One good hit is this:

    Everything fits together: alcohol is the key to everything that doesn’t quite make sense with Reich. You have created some most ingenious explanations below. In this you have unwittingly played the role of the Enabler.

    Reich’s alcoholism has had far-reaching effects. Much, today, as the alcoholism of Trump’s brother is having effects that reverberate upon the whole world.


    As Trump would say.

  5. O. Says:

    Reich hatte Recht mit seiner „paranoia“ vor einer Verschwörung. Doch er war selbst nicht paranoid genug, sie in vollem Umfang zu erkennen, wie ich meine. Das gilt noch heute, keiner ist paranoid genug, um zu erkennen …

    Wir wissen heute zwar und nehmen es immer wieder verdrängend zur Kenntnis, dass wir ständig und multibel überwacht werden, doch wir unterstellen „keine böse Absicht“ – weil wir eben nichts von der emotionellen Pest begriffen haben. „Die Guten“ – wie sie sich selbst nennen – überwachen uns und würden uns schützen …

    Wir weigern uns, ihre Taten zu erkennen und nur so können sie weitermachen.

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