Author Topic: The genius of Wilhelm Reich  (Read 44 times)


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Re: The genius of Wilhelm Reich
« on: April 06, 2015, 07:44:41 am »
Experiment with Einstein
Reich discussed orgone accumulators with Albert Einstein in 1941.
In December 1940 Reich wrote to Albert Einstein saying he had a scientific discovery he wanted to discuss, and in January 1941 visited Einstein at his home in Princeton, where they talked for nearly five hours. He told Einstein that he had discovered a "specific biologically effective energy which behaves in many respects differently to all that is known about electromagnetic energy." He said it could be used against disease, and as a weapon "in the fight against the Fascist pestilence." (Einstein had signed a letter to President Roosevelt in August 1939 to warn of the danger of Nazi Germany building an atom bomb, and had urged the United States to set up its own research project.) Einstein agreed that if an object's temperature could be raised without an apparent heating source, as Reich was suggesting, it would be "a bomb in physics."

Reich was much encouraged by the meeting and hoped he would be invited to join Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study. During their next meeting he gave Einstein a small accumulator, and over the next 10 days Einstein performed experiments with it in his basement, which involved taking the temperature above, inside and near the device, and stripping it down to its Faraday cage to compare temperatures. He observed a rise in temperature, which Reich argued was caused by orgone. One of Einstein's assistants pointed out that the temperature was lower on the floor than on the ceiling. Einstein concluded that the effect was simply due to the temperature gradient inside the room. "Through these experiments I regard the matter as completely solved," he wrote to Reich on 7 February 1941.

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 he had introduced a horizontal plate above the accumulator, wrapped it in a blanket, suspended it freely in the room, buried it underground and placed it outside. He wrote that in all these circumstances the temperature difference remained, and was in fact more marked in the open air. Einstein did not respond to this or to Reich's future correspondence Reich would write regularly reporting the results of his experiments until Reich threatened three years later to publish their previous exchange. Einstein replied that he could not devote any further time to the matter and asked that his name not be misused for advertising purposes. Reich believed that Einstein's change of heart was part of a conspiracy of some kind, perhaps related to the communists, or prompted by the rumours that Reich was ill. Reich published the correspondence in 1953 as The Einstein Affair.

Arrested by the FBI
Reich lost his position at the New School in May 1941 after writing to its director, Alvin Johnson, to say he had saved several lives in secret experiments with the accumulator. Johnson was aware of Reich's claims that he could cure cancer, and told him the New School was not an appropriate institution for the work. Reich was also evicted from Kessel Street after his neighbours complained about the animal experiments. His supporters, including Walter Briehl, gave him $14,000 to buy a house, and he settled into 9906 69th Avenue.

On 12 December 1941, five days after Pearl Harbor and the day after Germany declared it was at war with the United States, Reich was arrested in his home at 2 a.m. by the FBI and taken to Ellis Island, where he was held for over three weeks. He identified himself at the time as the Associate Professor of Medical Psychology, Director of the Orgone Institute. He was at first left to sleep on the floor in a large hall, surrounded by members of the fascist German American Bund, who Reich feared might kill him, but when his psoriasis returned he was transferred to the hospital ward. 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. After threatening to go on hunger strike he was released, on 5 January, but his name remained on the "key figures list" of the Enemy Alien Control Unit, which meant he was placed under surveillance.

Turner writes that it seems Reich was the victim of mistaken identity; there was a William Reich who ran a bookstore in New Jersey, which was used to distribute Communist material. The FBI acknowledged the mistake in November 1943 and closed Reich's file. In 2000 it released 789 pages of the file, which said:

This German immigrant described himself as the Associate Professor of Medical Psychology, Director of the Orgone Institute, President and research physician of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation and discoverer of biological or life energy. A 1940 security investigation was begun to determine the extent of Reich's communist commitments. A board of Alien Enemy Hearing judged that Dr. Reich was not a threat to the security of the U.S. In 1947, a security investigation concluded that neither the Orgone Project nor any of its staff were engaged in subversive activities or were in violation of any statute within the jurisdiction of the FBI.