Author Topic: The genius of Wilhelm Reich  (Read 51 times)

truthaboutpois

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Re: The genius of Wilhelm Reich
« on: April 05, 2015, 10:16:10 am »
Reich in 1900
Reich was born the first of two sons to Leon Reich, a farmer, and his wife Cäcilie (née Roniger) in Dobzau, Galicia, then part of Austria-Hungary, now in Ukraine. There was a sister too, born one year after Reich, but she died in infancy. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Jujinetz, a village in Bukovina, where his father took control of a cattle farm leased by his mother's uncle, Josef Blum.

His father was by all accounts a cold and jealous man. Both parents were Jewish, but decided against raising the boys as Jews. Reich and his brother, Robert, were brought up to speak only German, were punished for using Yiddish expressions and forbidden from playing with the local Yiddish-speaking children.

As an adult, Reich wrote extensively in his diary of his sexual precocity. He maintained that his first sexual experience was at the age of four when he tried to have sex with the family maid (with whom he shared a bed), that he would regularly watch the animals have sex, that he used a whip handle sexually on the horses while masturbating, and that he had almost daily sexual intercourse from the age of 11 with another of the servants. He wrote of regular visits to brothels, the first of which took place when he was 15, and said he was visiting them daily from the age of around 17. He also developed sexual fantasies about his mother, writing when he was 22 that he masturbated while thinking about her.

It is impossible to judge the truth of these diary entries, but Reich's second daughter, psychiatrist Lore Reich Rubin, told Christopher Turner that she believed Reich had been a victim of child sexual abuse, and that this explained his lifelong interest in sex and childhood sexuality.

1919–1930: Vienna, medicine and psychoanalysis
Undergraduate studies
Reich joined the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War, serving from 1915 to 1918, for the last two years as a lieutenant with 40 men under his command at the Italian front. When the war ended he headed for Vienna, enrolling in law at the University of Vienna, but found it dull and switched to medicine after the first semester. He arrived with nothing in a city with little to offer; the overthrow of the Austria-Hungarian empire a few weeks earlier had left the newly formed Republic of German-Austria in the grip of famine. Reich lived on soup, oats and dried fruit from the university canteen, and shared an unheated room with his brother and another undergraduate, wearing his coat and gloves indoors to stave off the cold. He fell in love with another medical student, Lia Laszky, with whom he was dissecting a corpse, but it was largely unrequited.

Myron Sharaf writes that Reich loved medicine, but was caught in the conflict between a reductionist/mechanistic and vitalist view of the world. Reich wrote later of this period:

The question, "What is Life?" lay behind everything I learned. ... It became clear that the mechanistic concept of life, which dominated our study of medicine at the time, was unsatisfactory ... There was no denying the principle of creative power governing life; only it was not satisfactory as long as it was not tangible, as long as it could not be described or practically handled. For, rightly, this was considered the supreme goal of natural science."

Introduction to Freud
Sigmund Freud
Reich first met Sigmund Freud in 1919 when he asked Freud for a reading list for a seminar on sexology. It seems they left a strong impression on each other. Freud allowed him to start seeing analytic patients in September that year, though he was just 22 and still an undergraduate, which gave him a small income. He was accepted as a guest member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association, becoming a regular member in October 1920, and began his own analysis with Isidor Sadger. He lived and worked out of an apartment on Berggasse 7, the street where Freud lived at no. 19, in the Alsergrund area of Vienna.

One of Reich's first patients was Lore Kahn, a 19-year-old woman with whom he had an affair. Freud had warned analysts not to involve themselves with their patients, but in the early days of psychoanalysis the warnings went unheeded. According to Reich's diaries, Kahn became ill in November 1920 and died of sepsis after sleeping in a bitterly cold room she had rented as a place for her and Reich to meet (both his landlady and her parents had forbidden their meetings). Kahn's mother suspected that her daughter had died after a botched illegal abortion, possibly carried out by Reich himself; Christopher Turner writes that she apparently found some of her daughter's bloodied underwear in a cupboard.

It was a serious allegation to make against a physician. Reich wrote in his diary that the mother had been attracted to him and had made the allegation to damage him. She went on to commit suicide and Reich blamed himself.[23] According to Turner, if Kahn did have an abortion, she was the first of four of Reich's partners to do so: his first wife had several, and his long-term partners Elsa Lindenberg and Ilse Ollendorf (his second wife) each had one at Reich's insistence.

Because he was a war veteran Reich was allowed to complete his six-year medical degree in four years, and received his M.D. in July 1922. After graduating he worked in internal medicine at the city's University Hospital, and studied neuropsychiatry from 1922 to 1924 at the hospital's neurological and psychiatric clinic under Professor Julius Wagner von Jauregg, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1927.

Vienna Ambulatorium, Sex-Pol clinics
Staff of the Vienna Ambulatorium, 1922. Eduard Hitschmann is seated fourth from the left, Reich fifth, and Annie Reich first on the right.
In 1922 Reich began working in Freud's psychoanalytic outpatient clinic, known as the Vienna Ambulatorium, which was opened on 22 May that year at Pelikangasse 18 by Eduard Hitschmann. Between 1922 and 1932 it offered free or reduced-cost psychoanalysis to 1,445 men and 800 women who could otherwise not afford to pay for it, many of them shell-shocked because of their experiences during the war. It was the second such clinic that had opened under Freud's direction; the first was the Poliklinik in Berlin, opened in 1920 by Max Eitingon and Ernst Simmel.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 07:05:07 am by truthaboutpois »