You are on page 1of 6


by Simon Dick

Wilhelm Reich was surely the most controversial figure in 20th century psychiatry. Ridiculed and persecuted for his
theories and practices that included belief in a universal energy he called orgone, Reich was a great innovator to some, a
dangerous lunatic to others.
In this article, based on an interview conducted in January 1999, Simon Dick writes about Dr. Raymond Grad, a Subud
member who worked with Reich. Raymond, a "reluctant iconoclast", also came to know what it meant to be shunned
and persecuted.
Raymond was also a man ahead of his time in many ways. He had experiences and insights that foreshadow ways of
looking at the world, and methods of healing, that have only become more accepted in recent years. He recounts for
example how in recovering from tuberculosis he stumbled upon a method of fighting the illness by visualisation which is
now recognised as effective in dealing with illnesses like cancer.
"He began conjuring images of his heroes who would confront the illness. Each one would face the disease, be shattered
and then destroyed. This continued until he as a small boy faced the threat. The small boy did not succumb. Then
Raymond began to get well."
Read on. This is a fascinating story

Bernard Raymond Grad earned his Ph.D. in Experimental Morphology (Biology) from McGill University. He graduated
with honors, Magna Cum Laude, and entered the world of science where he would do important work. McGill held the
bright young student in their realm by giving him a research position studying aging at their School of Psychiatry, the Allen
Memorial Institute of Psychiatry.
During his 36 year tenure at the institute, he wrote 90 papers on aging and cancer and almost as many papers on the studies
on a subtle energy.
His standing at the University did change, however. When Dr. Grad discovered Wilhelm Reich and his theory that energy
existed in all living things he was excited. D. Ewen Cameron, The Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at McGill and the
President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), was intolerant. After all the scientific view was then that all life
was due to non-living molecules. Raymond quotes that phrase with disbelief, as though he were reciting the theory that the

sun revolves around the earth.

When it became known that Raymond had begun working with Reich, Cameron said that if Raymond wanted to leave the
University it would be accepted. In the conservative, traditional science community, it may have been a predictable reaction,
since Reich was a very controversial man who spoke the naked truth. But it was also tragic.
It isolated Raymond from his colleagues who distanced themselves from him like school children who dont want to stand
near a child who wears a yellow coat when the popular color is blue. It relegated him to working alone without the
camaraderie of others in his profession. The great irony was that Cameron himself was a believer in the energy. He was a
dowser. That aspect of him, however, was not known until much later.

The Energy that Enlivens All Things

Raymonds interest in the energy that enlivens all things began as a child and intensified when as a young man he was
afflicted with tuberculosis. He spent two-and-a-half years in a sanitarium, 16 months of which he was flat on his back.
It interrupted his studies at McGill where he was attending on bursaries and scholarships, the only possible way he could
have gone. It was the end of the depression of the 1930s when he started school. Money was scarce. The scholarship was
$240 but it was the remaining $40 of the tuition that became the real problem, Raymond recounts. His mother, a single
parent, urged him to continue even though it was a great financial struggle fearing that if he left he would never be able to
go back. Then the illness came and he lay waiting to get well, waiting to go back to finish his degree, waiting.
He observed during this hiatus that the doctors were very good at attending to the physical and stemming the disease, but he
had an inkling that getting well and healing had other aspects. He began conjuring images of his heroes who would confront
the illness. Each one would face the disease, be shattered and then destroyed. This continued until he as a small boy faced
the threat. The small boy did not succumb. Then Raymond began to get well.
When Raymond was released from the sanitarium he was in remission and debilitated. As a high school athlete he had won
many awards. Now when he got a cold, he had to remain indoors for days to avoid relapse.
It was during a period of confinement due to a cold that he had an experience that made him forever curious about the life
force energy. While he lay resting suddenly an energy coursed through his body. From his heart down the left side, up the
right and through the heart again. The current went through his body several times and each time it went through the heart it
became feeble and Raymond feared he might die.
It was a peak experience. He had felt an energy, a physical reality, move through his body. Coincidentally, although
Raymond is not sure of the significance of that event to his experience, it was also the day that the atomic bomb was
dropped on Hiroshima.

Contact with Wilhelm Reich

The doctor who was treating him could provide no explanation for what had occurred so Raymond began reading. His
perusing included the works of Freud and later Wilhelm Reich, who early in his career was closely associated with Freud.
Both men believed there was a bio-energy. Freud called it libido and Reich called it orgone. Reich, while working with

Freud, trained many of the first generation of American doctors who came to Vienna to learn Freuds psychoanalytic
method of treating mental illness. But he also had views that differed from Freud.
As an example, in character analysis Reich believed that muscular tensions are associated with painful memories buried in
the unconscious. A theory that is only now widely accepted and practiced.
In 1940 Reich migrated to the US, first to New York and later to Rangley, Maine. He established a following of psychiatrists
and other professionals from around the US. Groups formed that still exist in Rangley, Maine and in Princeton, New Jersey.
But Reich also started moving away from psychiatry. He began working on a theory of energy. Much to the horror of the
scientific community Reich proclaimed that the cosmos, the earth, and all living things are swimming in a sea of energy.
The energy is God, he said.
Raymond did not agree with all of Reichs theories and in many ways found him frightening. "Terror in me", Raymond said,
"is a very powerful thing." He had won medals in track and he commented that to run very fast you have to be scared. His
was not a personality that was gladdened by the prospect of challenging the establishment.
He hesitated in contacting Reich but the week after he received his Ph.D. he went to see him. Reichs theory of energy was
the power that overcame Raymonds innate resistance to embarking on a path dangerous to his career.
The first four to five years with Reich, Raymond learned how to do the experiments with the energy. Then he began his own
experiments that proved the existence and power of the energy. He began treating animals with the controversial "orgone
accumulator." It was a box with layers of organic and inorganic material that, on Reichs theory, intensified the energy
inside the box. In one of his first experiments Raymond treated mice that had developed breast cancer and tripled the rate of
survival. In a five-year experiment mice that had spontaneously developed leukemia were treated with a 20% reduction in
Reich had also done some experiments on the origin of life. He boiled common dirt and water, then screened out all the
undissolved earth and froze the liquid. He found on defrosting that a precipitate was now present which on examination
under the microscope revealed beautifully shaped biological forms.
When Raymond repeated this experiment he found the same results but also observed many forms which resembled spores.
Indeed they strongly resembled globules reported to exist on the Martian rock recently found in Antartica. Raymonds
spores showed division in twos and fours and even had a nuclear area. They did not, however, have the essence of being
alive, the self-duplicating and pulsating aspect of aliveness.
Because these forms were highly stress resistant Raymond assumed that they acted life micro-nests where chemicals like
ribonucleic acids, protein and other substances essential for life might accumulate. There they would safely be housed as
they reacted with one another in the way to making living organism.

Living a Dual Life

But even when he began doing experiments to prove Reichs theory of energy Raymond did it quietly. He lived a dual life,
running two labs in the same facility. Doing the research and experiments on aging and separate work on energy. "Believe
me," he said, "it wasnt me who told Cameron I was working with Reich."
And when Cameron showed him the door, but gave him a choice, Raymond stayed, continuing his work in isolation until he
turned 65 believing that life outside of McGill University would likely be no different. Practically, the only exchanges with

other scientists in the establishment were "good mornings." Along with being shunned he was given minuscule wage
increases and no promotions. It was the price he had feared he would have to pay.
But what were the alternatives? Raymond had the intuition that there was an energy or power in the self and he then had the
experience. After that traditional science was mechanistic. He compared conventional scientific experiments to a woman in
a bikini. It leaves everything exposed except the real central things, he commented with rueful humour that is sprinkled in
his conversation.
After meeting Reich, he was in awe of him. Raymond is not a Reichian generally but saw that Reich had an exquisite
capacity to understand the living process. He was difficult to challenge because he was so far ahead in his study of life.
Even now he turns to Reichs works to explain some aspects of the energy in the universe.
The problem was that Raymond, the reluctant iconoclast, was associated with a wild man. Reich did nothing to appease the
establishment scientists. When they invited Reich to become a member of the APA he declined. When Reich developed the
orgone accumulator, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States stepped in and asked a court to prohibit the use
of the accumulator.
This, at a minimum, delighted the APA. Reich refused to appear. He sent a six-foot stack of his writings on energy as a
defense and went off to Arizona on a rain making experiment. The court considered the non-appearance a default and
enjoined the sale or use of the accumulator.
When an associate of Reichs from New Jersey moved the accumulators out of Maine, Reich and the associate were charged
with violating the injunction of the court. This time Reich fought in person but too late. They were both fined. Reich was
also sent to prison for a two-year term where he died in 1957.
Raymond does not regret his contact with Reich. First of all, he knew that Reichs theory that we are swimming in a sea of
energy was correct. Secondly, working with Reich led Raymond to study another aspect of energy that he considers very
important, the energy of healers and healing. He started working with a healer the day before Reich died.
The Energy of Healing
Oscar Estebany, originally from Hungary, was the first healer Raymond worked with. Estabany spoke as if he attracted
energy and could transmit it. "This guy was talking like he was an orgone accumulator", Grad said, "the transition was
Like many of the healers that he worked with, Estebany "had the gift." He was not trained but healed intuitively. They did
experiments in the lab and found that Estabany could positively affect wounds on mice and accelerate plant growth. Healing
was a phenomenon that was really significant. Raymond believed it could affect the biological process
But this too is outside the belief system of most of the established medical community. Estabany once healed one of
Raymonds friends. He was a family physician who knew Estabany and had some interest in his abilities. That physician
had a gall bladder operation and the incision would not heal. He had been in the hospital for six weeks and there was no
sign to an end to the problem. The physician himself asked Raymond to bring in a healer. Estabany came and gave a 20minute treatment. Before the treatment, Raymond recalls, the physician was yellow in complexion and after the treatment he
looked as though he had sunburn.
Within a few hours the draining stopped. Later the attending doctor came in, saw the result and assumed that it was simply
that the drain had plugged and reopened it. That night the drain again stopped flowing so the physician knowing that he had
been healed got dressed and went home.

Raymond did not hear from him again or several years. "It turned out that the physician got into a serious fight with his
wife," Raymond reported, "she was very frightened, if somebody hears that you used a healer you would lose your
credentials in the community. Why would they use you? she said." As in many cases, those who were helped wouldnt
acknowledge the fact.
Among other things Raymond found that healers powers would vary with their emotional state. If they were in a positive
frame of mind they would be very effective and less so if the positive attitude diminished. He recalls that well-known
healers like Katherine Kuhlmann healed with high emotional intensity. Raymond hypothesizes that each of us has a power
to heal if we believe that we can. In one case Raymond used a lab technician as a control non-healer, taking the same
actions as the healer. They found that the technician had also become a healer because he believed that he could.
Things Improve for Raymond
In 1960 things improved at the Institute for Raymond. On the urging of one of his colleagues Raymond hesitantly went to
Camerons office and told him about the studies he was conducting on healing and invited him to come see the experiments
on plants and animals. It turned out that Cameron approved.
It was stupefying. The person approving was the one who put Grad into isolation, and also the one who was a secret dowser.
In this meeting Cameron revealed that skill with some pride. In fact he had written an article showing interest in the
possibilities of healing. "Can you imagine the curious quirk? He was interested!" Raymond said with excitement, but then
quickly added, "In my view, though, if there had been an important person with him he wouldnt have introduced me."
It was also a time that was forever imprinted on Raymond and his wife, Renee, for even more personal reasons. Their first
born child, a sweet young girl, only 4 years old died on May 4, 1957. It broke their hearts. Even now the emotion of that
childs passing is with Renee and Raymond. They were bereft. Renee was determined to learn why this child had left them.
Raymond also felt that he needed some training that would open the doors to spiritual insight. They were Jewish but not
practitioners so began investigating other paths that might lead them to an answer.
Finding Subud
They found the spiritual organization of Subud through their readings. Out of a list of 200 or more books they chose John
Bennetts Concerning Subud. It talked of changing patterns, of energy, of changes in people. They immediately decided that
Subud, a spiritual practice that was begun in the 1940s by Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo of Indonesia, was the one
worth investigating.
Muhammad Subuh claimed that he had received a contact directly from God that was a way of worship of the One God and
that allowed a follower to receive answers to their questions for themselves as well as what is correct in daily living and for
their entire life. It was a way of enlivening the whole being. Bapak Muhammad Subuh said that he was able to pass this
contact to anyone who wanted it through a spiritual exercise called, in Indonesian, the latihan kedjiwaan. It is basically
standing and surrendering to God.
The Grads both received this contact in 1959 and have been practicing it ever since. Raymond says that he continued Subud
because it suited him. It was without dogma. He had disagreed with Reich that the energy was God. "No," he declares, "the
energy is not God. It is an aspect of God, but not God. If you can study it, it is not God. I think it is like an ant trying to
study human life. No matter how brainy, the ant aint got the stuff." With this path he could be in contact with the mystic
energy. You simply showed up at the hall twice a week and surrendered to God.
"It was in my nature to worship in this way", he says. But it also made him question who he was, even his interest in
scientific experiments. What it did for Raymond, along with the spiritual growth, is give him a powerful connection with

community that had been denied him by the scientists.

Publishing the Results
Now in retirement that was forced on him at 65, Raymond is publishing the results of studies on healing and energy that he
felt he could not write and did not have time for while still at the University.
He still is interviewed regularly for television and magazine articles about this and work with Reich. When he talks of his
career he can hardly recall the work he did in the conventional scientific experiments. As if that work was the drudgery he
had to perform to do the exciting stuff on energy.