Orgonization Man

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Sep 5 11:38:18 MDT 1999

>From a review of Wilhelm Reich's "American Odyssey: Letters and Journals,
1940-1947 in the Sept. 5 NY Times Book Review:

To say that Reich, who was born into a well-off Austrian Jewish family in
1897 and died in an American prison in 1957, was controversial is itself a
statement likely to provoke controversy. His acolytes, a number of whom
still exist (including ''research'' groups in Canada and Oregon; still
other devotees can be found on the Internet), are more than likely to
assert as facts that the doctor, a member of the psychoanalytic group
around Freud in Vienna just after World War I, was what he himself said he
was -- a prophetic genius and martyr, the victim of at least three
atrocious acts of injustice: the first by a group of jealous colleagues,
who expelled him from the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1933
(actually he was ousted for his radical politics, and, ironically, around
the same time, kicked out of the German Communist Party for his bourgeois
psychiatry), and the others by the ''fascistic'' American Government at the
beginning of World War II, when he was jailed for three and a half weeks as
a possible German spy and, on better- founded charges -- though not of
spying -- just after the McCarthy era.

Reich was a cluster of contradictions. People who knew him thought him
either charismatic or thoroughly obnoxious. He professed to be a devoted
husband and father and a boldly passionate lover of women, yet violated
psychoanalytic ethics by having affairs with patients, treated with
appalling selfishness his first wife -- Annie, a former patient -- drove
away their two daughters, arguing that Annie had ''poisoned'' them against
him, and wrote about women in a vocabulary that moved between sentimental
hymns to the beauty and freshness of young girls and a frequent use of
words like ''whore'' and ''whorish,'' ''indecent'' and the like. He wrote
in one book that in women ''chastity was just as serious an illness'' as
promiscuity, and proclaimed his support for women's erotic rights. . .

Louis Proyect

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