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

truthaboutpois

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Re: The genius of Wilhelm Reich
« on: April 06, 2015, 07:47:25 am »
Injunction
Over the years the FDA interviewed physicians, Reich's students and his patients, asking about his use of orgone accumulators. On 29 July 1952 three FDA inspectors arrived at Orgonon unannounced. Sharaf writes that Reich detested unannounced visitors; he had once chased some people away with a gun just for looking at an adjacent property. He told the inspectors they had to read his work before he would interact with them, and ordered them to leave.

The attention of the FDA triggered belligerent responses from Reich, who called them "HIGS" (hoodlums in government) and the tools of red fascists. He developed a delusion that he had powerful friends in government, including President Eisenhower, who he believed would protect him, and that the U.S. Air Force was flying over Orgonon to make sure that he was all right. In February 1954 the United States Attorney for the District of Maine filed a 27-page complaint seeking a permanent injunction under Sections 301 and 302 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, to prevent interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and to ban promotional literature. Reich refused to appear in court, arguing that no court was in a position to evaluate his work. In a long letter to Judge Clifford, he wrote:

My factual position in the case as well as in the world of science of today does not permit me to enter the case against the Food and Drug Administration, since such action would, in my mind, imply admission of the authority of this special branch of the government to pass judgment on primordial, pre-atomic cosmic orgone energy. I, therefore, rest the case in full confidence in your hands.
The injunction was granted by default on 19 March 1954. The judge ordered that all accumulators, their parts and instructions be destroyed, and that books mentioning orgone be withheld.

Reich and his son would spend their nights searching for UFOs through telescopes and binoculars, and when they believed they had found one would roll out the cloudbuster to suck the energy out of it.
In late 1954 Reich began an affair with Grethe Hoff, a former patient. Hoff was married to another former student and patient of his, the psychologist Myron Sharaf, who in 1983 became Reich's main biographer. Hoff and Sharaf had had their first child the year before Hoff left him for Reich; the marriage was never repaired even though the affair had ended by June 1955. Two months later Reich began another relationship, this time with Aurora Karrer, a medical researcher, and in November he moved out of Orgonon to an apartment in Alban Towers, Washington, D.C., to live with her, using the pseudonym Dr. Walter Roner.

Conviction and sentencing
While Reich was in Arizona in May 1956, one of his associates sent an accumulator part through the mail to another state, in violation of the injunction, after an FDA inspector posing as a customer requested it. Reich and another associate, Dr. Michael Silvert, were charged with contempt of court; Silvert had been looking after the inventory in Reich's absence. Reich at first refused to attend court, and was arrested and held for two days until a supporter posted bail of $30,000. Representing himself during the hearing, he admitted the violation but nevertheless pleaded not guilty and hinted at dark conspiracies; during a recess the judge apparently suggested a psychiatric evaluation to Reich's ex-wife, Ilse Ollendorff, but this was not communicated to Reich. The jury found him guilty on 7 May 1956 and he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Silvert was sentenced to a year and a day, the Wilhelm Reich Foundation was fined $10,000, and the accumulators and associated literature were to be destroyed.

Book burning
A.S. Neill
On 5 June 1956 two FDA officials arrived at Orgonon to supervise the destruction of the accumulators. Most of them had been sold at that point and another 50 were with Silvert in New York. Only three were at Orgonon. The FDA agents were not allowed to destroy them, only to supervise the destruction, so Reich's friends and his son, Peter, chopped them up with axes as the agents watched. Once they were destroyed, Reich placed an American flag on top of them.

On 26 June the agents returned to supervise the destruction of the promotional material, including 251 copies of Reich's books. The American Civil Liberties Union issued a press release criticizing the book burning, although coverage of the release was poor, and Reich ended up asking them not to help because he was annoyed that they had failed to criticize the destruction of the accumulators. In England A.S. Neill and the poet Herbert Read signed a letter of protest, but it was never published. On 23 July the remaining accumulators in New York were destroyed by S. A. Collins and Sons, who had built them.

On 23 August six tons of his books, journals and papers were burned in the 25th Street public incinerator in New York, the Gansevoort incinerator. The burned material included copies of several of his books, including The Sexual Revolution, Character Analysis and The Mass Psychology of Fascism. Though these had been published in German before Reich ever discussed orgone, he had added mention of it to the English editions, so they were caught by the injunction. As with the accumulators, the FDA was supposed only to observe the destruction. The psychiatrist Victor Sobey (d. 1995), an associate of Reich's, wrote: "All the expenses and labor had to be provided by the [Orgone Institute] Press. A huge truck with three to help was hired. I felt like people who, when they are to be executed, are made to dig their own graves first and are then shot and thrown in. We carried box after box of the literature." It has been cited as one of the worst examples of censorship in U.S. history.

Imprisonment
Reich's record card from the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary
Reich appealed the lower court's decision in October 1956, but the Court of Appeals upheld it on 11 December. He wrote several times to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, requesting a meeting, and appealed to the Supreme Court, which decided on 25 February 1957 not to review the case. On 12 March 1957 Reich and Silvert were sent to Danbury Federal Prison. (Silvert committed suicide in May 1958, five months after his release.) Richard C. Hubbard, a psychiatrist who admired Reich, examined him on admission, recording paranoia manifested by delusions of grandiosity, persecution, and ideas of reference:

The patient feels that he has made outstanding discoveries. Gradually over a period of many years he has explained the failure of his ideas in becoming universally accepted by the elaboration of psychotic thinking. "The Rockerfellows (sic) are against me." (Delusion of grandiosity.) "The airplanes flying over prison are sent by the Air Force to encourage me." (Ideas of reference and grandiosity.)
On 19 March Reich was transferred to the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary and examined again. This time it was decided that he was mentally competent and that his personality appeared intact, though he might become psychotic under stress. A few days later, on his 60th birthday, he wrote to his son, Peter, then 13:

I am in Lewisburg. I am calm, certain in my thoughts, and doing mathematics most of the time. I am kind of "above things," fully aware of what is up. Do not worry too much about me, though anything might happen. I know, Pete, that you are strong and decent. At first I thought that you should not visit me here. I do not know. With the world in turmoil I now feel that a boy your age should experience what is coming his way fully digest it without getting a "belly ache," so to speak, nor getting off the right track of truth, fact, honesty, fair play, and being above board never a sneak ... .
He applied for a presidential pardon in May, to no avail. Peter visited him in jail several times, where one prisoner said Reich was known as the "flying saucer guy" and the "Sex Box man." Reich told Peter that he cried a lot, and wanted Peter to let himself cry too, believing that tears are the "great softener." His last letter to his son was on 22 October 1957, when he said he was looking forward to being released on 10 November, having served one third of his sentence. A parole hearing had been scheduled for a few days before that date. He wrote that he and Peter had a date for a meal at the Howard Johnson restaurant near Peter's school.

Death
Reich failed to appear for morning roll call on 3 November and was found at 7 a.m. dead in his bed, fully clothed but for his shoes. The prison doctor said he had died during the night of "myocardial insufficiency with sudden heart failure." He was buried in a vault at Orgonon that he had asked his caretaker to dig in 1955. He had left instructions that there was to be no religious ceremony, but that a record should be played of Schubert's "Ave Maria" sung by Marian Anderson, and that his granite headstone should read simply: "Wilhelm Reich, Born March 24, 1897, Died ..." None of the academic journals carried an obituary. Time magazine wrote on 18 November 1957:

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.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 07:52:34 am by truthaboutpois »