Wilhelm Reich was born in Dobryzcynica, Austria on March 24,1897. Here his Father Leon, Mother Cecilie, and Brother Robert resided during Reich’s childhood. His father was a farmer who worked diligently, and was very austere with his two sons.
As a boy Wilhelm was always intrigued with natural science, especially dealing with sex. He used to watch animals in his barn mating and thought it was wonderful. This in turn led Wilhelm to watch secretively, his mother and private tutor making love throughout their affair. Wilhelm in fear of his harsh father tells him what he observed. Mortified and unable to deal with her husband’s verbal and physical abuse, Cecile committed suicide. Wilhelm’s father a few years later full of loneliness and stress stood in a cold pond and deliberately caught pneumonia, which extended into tuberculosis, he passed away. At the time Reich was only sixteen. He had to stop his schooling for the meantime to maintain the farm.
Between 1914 and 1918 Reich serves in World War I during which he attains the rank of a lieutenant. After four years in charge of a large infantry of troops he asked for a formal note of leave to further his education. He first entered, Vienna School of Law, and soon realized that this was not for him, so he converted to medical school. Reich barely squeaked by college financially, but by tutoring other medical students he made it, frugally He lived on oatmeal and dry fruit for two years. With all of this stress on his shoulders, Wilhelm was still able to pass his examinations in physics, chemistry, and biology with honors.
In 1919, Reich organized and lead a seminar on sexology. Sigmund Freud became aware of Reich’s work and invited him to a meeting. Freud was one of the firsts to suggest workable cures for mental disorders, he also dealt with sexual problems between parents and children. Reich liked Freud a lot, especially his up front and open personality. Reich soon became a follower. Freud accepted him to his Viennese Psychoanalytic society. Here he analyzed patients with psychological problems. While doing examinations, Reich met an eighteen-year-old patient named Annie whom he started to court. They got an apartment together after Wilhelm graduated medical school with his doctorate.
In 1922 Freud asks Reich to be his clinical assistant for his psychoanalytic clinic. Shortly after, Reich and Annie have their first daughter, Eva. In 1926 his brother Robert dies of tuberculosis.
After his return from doing a set of clinics, Reich became interested with Marxism and the Socialist Party. Despite great risks involving the police. He spoke of a desperate need for sexual hygiene is among youths. Along with some friends, Reich arranged clinics about sexual hygiene for adolescents and adults.
Socialists who thought that he was using the clinics as a meeting place for communist promotions terminated his Viennese sex hygiene clinics.
Reich moved to Berlin to work with a Doctor there but he left for America shortly after Wilhelm got there. While he was there he protested and gave Lectures on communism. He talked about having bettered housing, sex education with large groups, nurseries, sex-counseling, and massive factories and businesses.
He believed so much in communism that he wanted to send his two daughters to a communist children center. Annie becomes extremely upset with his ideas, from this point on, the two drifted apart.
In 1933 the Nazis took over, gathering thousands of people, some of his close friends are captured. Nazis make a public display of burning books, which they reject. Reich finds that his books were in the blaze, and that the Gestapo was ready to kill him on sight. He flees to Vienna and disguises himself as a skier. Amongst this confusion Annie and Reich divorce.
In 1934, he and Elsa moved to Oslo, Norway to accept an invitation to join the staff at the institute of psychology at the University of Oslo. Reich’s children stay with Annie.
In 1938 a book called The Bion is published. Written by Reich, who claims to have found the smallest unit of living matter. He discovered these small bits of living matter by studying protozoa underneath a microscope.
Reich immigrated to New York City where he accepted a position at the New School for Social Research. There he met and married Ilse Ollendorff
In 1940, Reich discovers orgone energy. He states that physical and mental health are based upon the existence and flow through the body of a biological energy called orgone. He also creates the first orgone accumulators and they are tested on humans. They are made many ways, but they all serve the same purpose. Alternating layers of an organic material (plywood or cotton) and a metallic layer (steel wool or sheet metal.) The more layers the more energy is collected. The organic material is to collect the orgone and the metallic layer is to direct it to the receiver. By following this procedure you can make pillows, blankets or boxes which you can sit in. By sitting in or resting on these accumulators you’re supposedly be able to rejuvenated. Since Reich didn’t have any rigorous training in biology many scientists rejected his creations and discoveries.
Reich goes for a camping trip and buys a cabin near Rangeley Maine. He meets Albert Einstein who rejected Reich’s work, saying that it is too “radical” and refuses to support his concepts. Reich was extremely disappointed with Einstein’s discard, but continues his work with orgone.
Reich buys 280 acres of land in Rangeley and creates Orgonon, a new laboratory and research center devoted to orgone energy. At this point many newspapers and gossip magazines publish false information demoting Reich and basically giving him a bad reputation. From all of the bad articles in the papers the FDA is sent to Orgonon.
Reich continues work while being hounded by the press. He experiments with radiation in the accumulators thinking that it may neutralize the effects of radiation. This actually creates more problems than good. It creates oppressive orgone energy and is changed into another form. This causes many co-workers, to be sick. Black clouds form from this unknown energy created. He must discard this experiment.
He feels that he should do something about what has happened, so he creates a device called a cloud buster which supposedly relieves energy from the atmosphere. It looks like deadly weapons with hydraulic tubes coming out from the back. He points the cloud busters into the sky, and it acts like a lightning rod dissipating the clouds.
The FDA comes back organized with a plan. They accuse him of delivering fraudulent devices and claims dealing with orgone energy. They order agents to go to Orgonon to destroy all accumulators and to bum all of his books. He ends up in jail where he spent his last years of his life. Wilhelm Reich died in 1957 in his prison cell, prison officials claim that he died of heart failure.