Elsworth F. Baker.
Reprinted from the Journal of Orgonomy Volume 1, 1968The American College of OrgonomyFull scale biographies and critiques will someday be written about Wilhelm Reich.He led a full life and one whose importance will only gradually dawn on people ofthe world. He had three marriages and three children, lived in six countries, andaccumulated an unequalled knowledge and understanding of living and naturalfunctions. He became proficient in, and increased the knowledge of, importantfields of human endeavor, including psychology, sociology, religion, chemistry,agriculture, meteorology, astronomy, engineering, painting, sculpture, and music,and was a noted author. In his last years, he studied law. Besides this, heoriginated and developed a new science, orgonomy, the science of the functionallaws of cosmic energy, and a new way of thinking which he called"functionalism." The guiding principle of functionalism is the identity of variationsin their common functioning principle. He left over one hundred thousand pagesof manuscript, most of which has not yet been published, although about twentybooks and over one hundred articles have been. Here I wish to give only athumbnail sketch of his life and work, with but a few excerpts from each.Wilhelm Reich was born in the easternmost part of the Austro-Hungarian Empirein the German Ukraine on March 24, 1897. His parents were well-to-do farmerswho had about one thousand acres of land. His early years were spent on thefarm with a private tutor, and very early he became interested in, and familiarwith, the life process of both plants and animals and especially the reproductionof life. He had many collections of insects which he studied under the direction ofhis tutor. His mother died when he was eleven, and there seems little doubt thather death to a great extent influenced his future thinking. His father died when hewas seventeen, and he ran the farm for a year, until it was destroyed by theRussians in 1915. This without interrupting his school work. He then joined theAustrian Army and served as a lieutenant at the Italian front until the end of thewar. He had a brother two years younger who died of tuberculosis at the age oftwenty-two following World War I.Returning from the war in 1918, he began to study medicine at the University ofVienna and supported himself by tutoring other students. During this time, heorganized a seminar on sexology. He soon became interested in Freud andpsychoanalysis, and, after a short training analysis by Paul Ferdern, he becamea practicing analyst and a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, twoyears before his graduation in medicine in 1922.