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Selected Writings

The Cancer Biopathy

Character Analysis
Ether, God and Devil and Cosmic Superimposition
The Function of the Orgasm
The Invasion of Compulsory Sex-Morality
Listen, Little Man!
The Mass Psychology of Fascism
The Murder of Christ
Reich Speaks of Freud
The Sexual Revolution

Selected Writings
A1z Introduction
to Orgononzy


Copyright 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1960, 1972, 1973 by J..1ary Boyd
Higgins as Trustee of The \Vilhelm, Reich Infant Trust Fund
All rights reserved
Library of Congress catalog card number 72-97612
Priuted in the United States of America
First printing, 1973
Published simultaneously in Canada by Doubleday Canada Ltd., Toronto
Designed by Ircing Perkins

This t;olume contains son1e material that appeared in the first edi-
tion of Selected Writings, copyright 1960 by f..1ary Boyd Hig-
gins as Trustee of the \Villzeln1 Reich Infant Trust Fund, and also
includes new translations as follou.:s: "The \Vorkshop of Orgo-
nomic Functionalisnl,H (Animism, Afysticism, and fl;fechanistics,"
and C(The Living Orgonon1e,'' translated by Therese Pol; ''The De-
t;elopment of the Orgasm Theory,'' ((On the Technique of Char-
acter Analysis,H "The Breakthrough into the Biological Realm,"
and (The Expressive Language of the Living/' translated by
Vincent R. Carfagno; uExperitnental Investigation of Biological
Energy" and "The Carcinon1atous Shrinking Biopathy," trans-
lated by Andrew \Vhite u.;ith Alary Higgins and Chester M.
Raphael, fl;f.D.
Love, tcork, and knotcledge are the tcell-springs of our
life. They should also govern it.
"\V I L H E L 1\I R E I C H

This anthology of selected \Vritings from the \Vorks of \Vilhelm

Reich \vas conceived as an introduction to orgonomy, and it is
presented \Vithout editorial conu11ent or interpretation in the siinple
belief that those \vho seek knovvledge must go to its source.
It has been difficult to 1nake this selection. The vastness of
Wilhehn Reich's scientific accon1plishn1ents has al,vays created a
problen1 of ''too 1nuchness." In this instance, the problen1 \Vas prin-
cipally one of \vhat to on1it-ho'v to satisfy the restrictions imposed
by the li1nited space. It \Vas hauntingly felt that to exclude any one
piece of the material already published n1ight deprive the reader of
a rare opportunity to observe the historical developtnent of the
science of orgonomy, and to follo'v this develop1nent as evidence of
the consistent application of the functional 1nethod of thinking.
Thus, the assurnption of responsibility for making an adequate
selection \vas not lightly undertaken. I \Vould like to thank Chester
M. Raphael, M.D., for the valuable help \Vhich he gave generously
in the preparation of this volume.
An1ong the great \Vealth of excluded material is Wilhehn
Reich's Last \VUl and Testan1ent, signed three days before his im-
prisonnlent on ~1arch 11, 19.57. The contents of this docutnent are
generally unknown, and this fact has helped to create confusion
an1ong those \vho \Vish to learn of his \Vork, and anxiety in others
who are concerned about its protection. Therefore, in order to
clarify and to reassure, I vvish to make public the basic tenets of this
\Vith the exception of a fe\v specific bequests, Wilhehn Reich
left his entire estate to be held and adn1inistered under the name of
the vVilhehn Reich Infant Trust Fund for the follo,ving uses and

1. To safeguard the truth about my life and \vork against

distortion and slander after my death . . . .
In order to enable the future student of the PRI~fORDIAL
COS~fiC ENERGY OCEAN, THE LIFE EKERGY discovered and de-
veloped by me, to obtain a true picture of my accomplishments,
mistakes, \vrong assumptions, pioneering basic trends, my
private life, rny childhood, etc., I hereby direct that under no
circumstances and under no pretext whatsoever shall any of
the documents, manuscripts or diaries found in my library
among the archives or anY'vhere else be altered, omitted, de-
stroyed, added to or falsified in any other imaginable way. The
tendency of man, born fro1n fear, to "get along \vith his fellow
man" at any price and to hide unpleasant matters is overpower-
ingly strong. To guard against this trend, disastrous to historical
truth, my study including the library and archives shall be
sealed right after my death by the proper legal authorities and
no one shall be permitted to look into my papers until my
Trustee, hereinafter named, is duly appointed and qualified and
takes control and custody thereof.
These docun1ents are of crucial importance to the future of
ne\vborn generations. There are many emotionally sick people
who will try to damage my reputation regardless of \vhat hap-
pens to infants, if only their personal lives \vould remain hidden
in the darkness of a forsaken age of the Stalins and Hitlers.
I therefore direct mv , Trustee and his successors that noth-
ing \vhatsoever must be changed in any of the documents and
that they should be put a\vay and stored for 50 years to secure
their safety from destruction and falsification by anyone in-
terested in the falsification and destruction of historical truth.
These directives are established by me solely for the pres-
en;ation of documented truth as I li~ed it during my lifetime.
2. To operate and maintain the property at Organon under
the name and style of the Wilhelm Reich Museum . . . in
order to preserve some of the atmosphere in \vhich the Dis-
covery of the Life Energy has taken place over the decades.
3. I have throughout all of my lifetime loved infants and
children and adolescents, and I also \vas ahvays loved and un-
derstood by them. Infants used to srnile at me because I had
deep contact \vith them and children of t\vo or three very often
Foreword ix

used to become thoughtful and serious \vhen they looked at me.

This \Vas one of the great happy privileges of my life, and I
\Vant to express in son1e manner my thanks for that love be-
stowed upon me by my little friends. :\'lay Fate and the great
Ocean of Living Energy, fron1 \vhence they carne and into
\vhich they n1ust return sooner or later, bless then1 \vith happi-
ness and contentment and freedom during their lifetirnes. I
hope to have contributed my good share to their future happi-
ness. . . .
. . . all income, profits or proceeds due me and the Trust
from royalties on tools originating in n1y discoveries shall be
devoted to the care of infants every\vhere, to,vards legal
security of infants, children and adolescents in emotional, social,
parental, medical, legal, educational, professional or other
distress. Part of the proceeds may be used for basic orgonomic
During the years since 1960, \Vhen the first edition of this
anthology \vas published, the Wilheln1 Reich Infant Trust Fund has
strived to fulfill its responsibility to protect and n1ake effective these
\Vishes expressed so n1ovingly by Reich in his \viii. It has not been
an easy task: fe\v have \Vanted to help; many have tried to take
\vhile giving nothing in return; others, the self-seeking and covetous,
have bent every effort to counteract Reich's \vill and to destroy his
Trust. That they have been unsuccessful is due in large measure to
the unremitting support of a few loyal friends. One of these friends
is Roger \V. Straus, Jr., Reich's A1nerican publisher, \Vith \vhom the
idea of an anthology originated.
The contents of this second edition are essentially unchanged
aside from limited editing, but much of it has been ne\vly translated
fron1 the original Ger1nan manuscripts and carefully checked by an
orgonon1ic physician. Inasmuch as it includes the corrections and
revisions Reich n1ade in his Inanuscripts after the earlier translations
had been published, this new Selected Writings is no\v the defini-
tive edition.
Mary Higgins, Trustee
Netv York, 1973






I. Introduction


II. The Orgastn Theory


III. Therapy



IV. The Discovery of the Orgone




V. Orgonomic Functionalism

VI. Orgone Physics


VII. Cosmic Orgone Engineering


VIII. The En1otional Plague


IX. Conclusion




\Vilheln1 Reich \Vas born on March 24, 1897, in the Gern1an-

Ukrainian part of Austria, the son of a \veil-to-do farmer. His n1other
language \Vas Gern1an, and until 1938 vVilheln1 Reich (hereafter
WR) \vas an Austrian citizen.
Although he \vas taught the Old Testa1nent as \Veil as the Ne\V
from the standpoint of scientific interest, WR had no religious
education and adhered to no religious creed or political party. His
early education ( 1903-7) \vas as a private student. He passed his
exan1inations at an Austro-German public school and attended a
German high school bct\veen 1907 and 191Ei, preparing for natural
sciences. He graduated in 191.5 \Vith Sthnmeneinhelligkeit.
WR's interest in biology and natural science \vas stimulated
early by life on the far1n, close to agriculture and cattle farn1ing and
breeding, in \Vhich he took part every sumn1er and during the har-
vest. Bet\veen his eighth and t\velfth years, he had his O\vn collection
and breeding laboratory of butterflies, insects, and plants under the
guidance of a private teacher. The natural life functions, including
the sexual function, \Vere fa1niliar to him as far back as he could
ren1en1ber, and this n1ay \veil have detern1ined his later strong incli-
nation, as a biopsychiatrist, to\vard the biological foundation of the
en1otional life of n1an, and also his biophysical discoveries in the
fields of medicine and biology, as \vell as education.
After the death of his father in 1914, WR, then seventeen,
This Biographical Note and the material on the succeeding pages-the HScien-
tic Developrnent of \Vilhelrn Reich," the Glossary, and the Prefatory Note-
are taken from Reich's Bibliography on Orgonomy ( 1953 ). The Biographical
Note has been changed slightly and updated. "Scientific Developn1ent" has
been brought up to date. The Glossary has been revised, and the wording but
not the meaning of the Prefatory Note has been changed slightly.

directed the fann \vork on his O\Vn, \Vithout interrupting his studies,
until the \Var disaster put an end to this \vork and destroyed all
property in 1915. He \Vas in the Austrian anny fron1 1915 to 1918
(a lieutenant fron1 1916 to 1918) and \vas at the Italian front three
In 1918, vVI\ entered the ~lcdical School of the University of
Vienna, earning his living and paying his \vay through school by
tutoring fellu'v students in pretnedical subjects. As a \var veteran,
he \Vas per1nitted to cotnplcte the six-year course in four years, and
he passed the eighteen Rigorosa in eighteen 1nedical subjects and
receiYed "excellent'' ( ausge::.eichnet) in all the prc1nedical subjects.
He \vas graduated and obtained his tnedical degree in July 1922.
During his last year of 1nedical school, \VR took postgraduate
\Vork in internal n1cdicine \vith Ortner and Chvostck at Univcrsitv .I

Hospital, Vienna. He continued his postgraduate education in neu-

ropsychiatry for t\vo years ( 1922-4) at the Neurological and Psychi-
atric lTniversity Clinic under Professor \Vagner-J auregg, and
\Vorked one year in the disturbed \Vards under Paul Schilder. His
postgraduate study also included attendance at polyclinical \vork in
hypnosis and suggestive therapy at the satne university clinic and
special courses and lectures in biology at the University of Vienna.
Also, \vhile still in 1nedical school, in October 1920, WR attained
n1e1nbership in the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, then under Pro-
fessor Signntncl Freud.
vVR began psychoanalytic and psychiatric private practice in
1922. By 19:33, the cl0n1ands of \Vork in biophysical research re-
quired th0 tennination of private practice.
\VR \vas First Clinical Assistant at Freucl's Psychoanalytic
Polyclinic in Vienna (under the directorship of Dr. Eduard I-Iitsch-
Inann) frorn its foundation in 1922 until 1928; \'ice-Director of the
Polyclinic, 192R-30, and Director of the Se1ninar for Psvchoanal)7tic
~ .I

Therapy at the san1e institution, 1924-30. As a men1ber of the

faculty of the Psychoanalytic Institute in Vienna, 1924-30, WR gave
lectures on clinical subjects and biopsychiatric theory. He did re-
search in the social causation of neurosis at the Polvclinic fron1

1924, and at 1nental-hygiene consultation centers in various districts

Biographical Note XV

in Vienna ( Sozialistische Gcsellschaft fur Sexualberatung und

Sexualforschung), centers \vhich he founded and led fron1 1928
through 1930. He continued his 1nental-hygiene \Vork in Berlin,-
1930-3, as lecturer at the Psychoanalytic Clinic and at the \\7orkers'
College, and as head physician in rnental-hygiene centers of various
cultural organizations in Berlin and other Gennan cities. In the
\Vinter of 1933, Ilitler assun1ed con1plete po\ver and \VR \vas forced
to leave Gerrnany.
Bet\veen 19:34 and 1939, \VI\ lectured and did research at the
Psychological Institute of the University of Oslo, Nor\vay, \Vhich led
to the discovery of the orgone.
In 1939, having received an invitation frorn the representative
of Arnerican Psychosornatic ~ledicinc, Theodore P. \Volfe, ~I.D.,
Wilhehn Reich carne to the United States and transferred his
laboratory to Forest Hills, 1\e\v York. Fron1 1939 to 1941, he \Vas
Associate Professor of ~tedical Psychology at the N e\v School for
Social Research in N C\V York City.
The Orgone Institute \vas founded by WR in 1942 in Ne\v
York, and in the sarne year over t\VO hundred acres of land \Vere
acquired in ~tainc and called "Organon." This bcc~1n1e the hon1e of
Orgonorny, the science of the life energy. The \Vilhelm Reich
Foundation \vas founded in ~'Iaine in 1949 by students and friends
to preserve the archives of \VR and to secure the future of his
discovery of cosn1ic orgone energy.
In 1954, the Federal Food and Drug Adrninistration initiated a
cornplaint for an injunction against vVilhelm Reich and the vVilhehn
Reich Foundation, attacking specifically and clearly designed to
discredit Reich's n1onumental discovery of the cosrnic life energy-
orgone energy. \VI\ refused to be forced into court as a "defendant"
in rnatters of basic nah1ral research, and he explained his position in
a "Response'' addr(lssed to the United States District Judge for the
District of :Niaine.
On ~larch 19, a Decree of Injunction \vas issued on default. 0
Wilheln1 Reich \Vas subsequently accused of criminal contempt
~ The Decree of Injunction and 'VR's "Response" to the Complaint for
Injunction are reprinted in the Appendix of this volume. [Editor]

in disobeying this injunction, and following a jury trial in May 1956

in which his plea \Vas "not guilty,'' he was sentenced to two years'
imprisonment. The Foundation \Vas fined $10,000, and an orgo-
noinic physician was sentenced to one year and a day in prison.
On Noven1bcr 3, 1957, vVilhelm Reich died in the Federal
Penitentiary at Le"7isburg, Pennsylvania.

Wilhehn Reich's basic scientific discoveries include the follrnving:

orgas1n theory and technique of character analysis ( 1923-34);
respiratory block and 1nuscular annor ( 1928-34); sex-econon1ic self-
regulation of prilnnry natural drivc~s as distinguished fron1 secon-
dary, perverted drives ( 1928-34); the role of irrationalisn1 and
hurnan sex-econon1y in the origin of dictatorship of all political
dcnon1inations ( 1930-4); the orgasn1 reflex ( 1934); the bio-electri-
cal nature of sexuality and anxiety ( 193.5-6); orgone energy vesi-
cles, bions ( 19:36-9); origin of the cancer cell fro111 bionously
disintegrated anin1al tissue, and the organization of protozoa fron1
bionously disintegrated 1noss and grass ( 1936-9); T-bacilli in sar-
con1a ( 1937); discovery of the bin-energy ( orgone energy) in SAP A
bions ( 1939), in the atn1osphcre ( 1940); invention of the orgone
energy accun1ulator ( 1940); and the or gone energy field n1eter
( 1944); experiinental orgone therapy of the cancer biopathy
( 1940-.5); expcrin1ental investigation of prirnary biogenesis (Ex-
periinent XX, 1945); 1nethod of orgonon1ic functionalisn1 ( 1945);
en1otional plague of n1an as a disease of the bio-energetic equilib-
riun1 ( 1947); orgonon1etric equations ( 1949-50); hypothesis of
cos1nic superhnposition of t\VO orgone energy strean1s as the basis of
hurricanes and galaxy fonnation ( 19.51); anti-nuclear radiation
effects of orgone energy ( Tlze Oranur Experilnent, First Report,
1947-51); discovery of DOH. (deadly (ngone energy) and identifi-
cation of its properties, including a specific toxicit~~ ( DOR sickness)
( 1951-2); identification of n1elanor, orite, bro\vnite, and orenc and
initial steps to\vard pre-atotnic chetnistry ( 19.51-4); use of "re-
versed" orgonon1ic potential in ren1oving DOR fron1 the atinosphere
in cloud-busting and \Veather control ( 1952-.5); theory of desert

formation in nature and in n1an (the emotional desert) and demon-

stration of reversibility ( Orop Desert Ea and the n1edical DOR-
buster) ( 1954-5); theory of disease based on DOR accun1ulation in
the tissues ( 1954-.5); equations of gravity and anti-gravity
( 19.50-7); devcloptnent and practical application of social psychi-
atry ( 1951-7).

A ne\v scientific discipline must employ ne\v tern1s if old ones are
inapplicable. Orgonon1y introduced the follo\ving terms:
Anorgonia. The condition of diminished orgonity ( q.v.) or the lack
of it.
Armor. The total defense apparatus of the organism, consisting of the
rigidities of the character and the chronic spasms of the muscula-
ture, \vhich functions essentially as a defense against the break-
through of the emotions-primarily anxiety, rage, and sexual excita-
Bions. Energy vesicles that are transitional forms bet,veen non-living
and living matter. Their formation constantly occurs in nature
through disintegration and S\velling of inorganic and organic matter.
Experimental studies of bion formation have demonstrated that
they are charged \Vith orgone energy and are capable of cultivation.
Depending upon conditions, bions may develop further into proto-
zoa or degenerate into bacteria.
Character. An individual's typical structure, his stereotyped manner of
acting and reacting. The orgonomic concept of character is func-
tional and biological, not a static, psychological, or moralistic con-
Character analysis. Originally a technique of psychoanalytic therapy
developed as a modification of the original symptom and resistance
analysis for the purpose of eliminating the defensive function of
the character; no\v included in psychiatric orgone therapy.
Character armor. The sum total of typical character attitudes, which
an individual develops as a defense against his emotional excita-
tions, resulting in rigidity of the body, lack of emotional contact,
"deadness." Functionallv . identical vvith the muscular armor .
Character, genital. The un-neurotic character structure, which does
not suffer from sexual stasis and therefore is capable of natural self-
regulation on the basis of orgastic potency.


Character, neurotic. The neurotic structure resulting from the chronic

stasis of bio-energy in the organism. It functions autonomously and
constitutes the background for the symptom neurosis.
Emotional plague. The destructive reaction of the neurotic character on
the social scene.
l\1uscular armor. The sum total of the muscular attitudes (chronic
muscular spastns) \Vhich an individual develops as a defense against
the breakthrough of organ sensations and emotions, in particular
anxiety, rage, and sexual excitation.
Oranur. Denotes orgone energy in a state of excitation induced by nu-
clear energy.
Orgasm reflex. The unitary, involuntary convulsion of the total organ-
ism at the acme of the genital embrace. This reflex, because of its
involuntary character and the prevailing orgasm anxiety, is blocked
in 1nost hu1nans in civilizations that suppress infantile and adoles-
cent genitality.
Orgastic impotence. The absence of orgastic potency. It is the most
important characteristic of the average human of today, and-by
damming up biological (or gone) energy in the organism-provides
the source of energy for all kinds of biopathic symptoms and social
Orgastic potency. The capacity for total surrender to the involuntary
in the orgastic convulsion, thereby assuring the complete discharge
of excitation and the prevention of the stasis of bio-energy in the
organism. unfortunately, it is usually confused \vith erective and
ejaculatory potency, \Vhich are only prerequisites for the establish-
ment of orgastic potency.
Orgone energy (OR). Primordial cosmic energy; universally present
and demonstrable visually, thermica11y, electroscopically, and by
means of Geiger~~1ueller counters. In the living organism: bio-
energy, life energy. Discovered by \Vilhelm Reich between 1936
and 1940. (DOl\ denotes deadly OR energy.)
Orgone therapy
Physical orgone therapy. Application of physical orgone energy con-
centrated in an orgone energy accumulator to increase the natural
bio-energetic resistance of the organism against disease.
Psychiatric or gone therapy. l\1obilization of the or gone energy in the
organism; i.e., the liberation of biophysical emotions from mus-
Glossary XXI

cular and character armorings, \Vith the goal of establishing, if

possible, orgastic potency.
Orgonity. The condition of containing orgone energy; the quality of
orgone energy contained.
Orgonometry. Quantitative orgonornic research.
Orgonon1ic ("energetic") functionalism. The functional thought tech-
nique that guides clinical and experimental orgone research. The
guiding principle is the identity of variations in their common func-
tioning principle ( CFP). This thought technique evolved in the
course of the studv of hurnan character fo1mation and led to the
discovery of the organismic and cosmic orgone energy, thereby
proving itself to be the correct n1irroring of both living and non-
living basic natural processes.
Orgonomy. The natural science of the cosmic orgone energy.
Orgonotic. Qualities concerning the orgonity of a systern or a condition.
Sex-economy. The body of kno\\ledge \\'ithin orgonomy \vhich deals
\Vith the cconon1y of the biological ( orgone) energy in the organ-
ism, \vith its energy household.
Stasis. The damming up of life energy in the organism. Energy source
of those diseases which result from disturbances \vithin the plas-
matic system ( biopathies).
Stasis anxiety. The anxiety caused by the stasis of sexual energy in the
center of the organism \Vhen its peripheral orgastic discharge is
Stasis neurosis. The biophysical state of the organism resulting from
the stasis of organisn1ic or gone energy.
\Vork democracy. The functioning of the natural and intrinsically ra-
tional \Vork relationships bet\veen human beings. The concept of
work democracy represents the established reality (not the ideol-
ogy) of these relationships, \vhich, though usually distorted because
of prevailing annoring and irrational political ideologies, are never-
theless at the basis of all social achievement.

Since the appearance of the first \vorks of \\7ilheln1 Reich in 1920,

the old, essentially sexological and psychologically oriented sex-
economy has developed into the science of the cosmic orgone
energy, orgonon1y. This develop1nent \Vas accon1panied by a corr1-
plicated branching out and ran1ification of the science of life, \vhich
today can be follo\ved syste1natically only \vith difficulty. One of the
reasons for this is that the publications, brought out over a tin1e span
of 1nore than thirty years, \vere printed by n1any different publishing
houses and organs. Because of the social catastrophes, the original
publications are scattered all over Europe and the United States
and are often difficult to obtain. Still, in spite of everything, the
work of Wilheln1 Reich has ren1ained a functional and logical
\vhole. \Vhoever con1pares the first endeavor to\vard a biophysical
forn1ulation of instinctual processes in "Zur Triebcnergetik" ( 1923)
\Vith the latest orgonon1ic \Vork \Viii easily discover the red thread
\Vhich, in a \Vork period of a third of a century, runs through
all the clinical, experimental, and theoretical labors: the the1ne of
the bio-energetic function of excitability and motility of living
It is no\v abundantly clear that most readers of Reich's
\vorks are relatively ignorant of his important precursors in the de-
velopnlcnt of orgono1ny. This handicap leads to many misunder-
standings about the nature and function of this ne\v and young
science. It has further been shown that 1nany friends of orgonomy
see in the transition of Wilheln1 Reich's \Vork fron1 psychiatry to the
natural-scientific mastery of the riddle of living substance a breach
that seems illogical. In reality there is no breach. On the contrary:
Wilheln1 Reich can1e from natural science to psychiatry. His labors
on the pro blen1 of "instinctual energy" forn1 fron1 the very beginning

( 1920) the core of his natural-scientific conception of psychic

phenon1ena, fron1 which gradually the research 1nethod of orgo-
non1ic functionalisn1 resulted. This n1ethod led to the discovery of
cosn1ic orgone energy, and in this \vay has subsequently demon-
strated the correctness of the first tendencies to\vard a natural-
scientific, i.e., bio-energetic, forn1tllation of the basic questions of
psychiatry. In this connection, the sociological works are no less
important than the clinical ones. The social existence of the human
animal is indeed, seen bio-energetically, a small peak on the gigantic
mountain of his biological existence. Only in the light of this dis-
parity in significance bet,veen the social and biological existence of
the hun1an anin1al does the kno\vledge of orgonomy clearly come
into focus, revealing that the human race has succumbed for several
thousands of years to a tragic clevelop1nent. Through his bodily
ar1noring, the human anin1al has separated himself from his bio-
logical origin, and thereby also from his cos1nic 01igin, and has
developed an instinctual struch1re that functions in an essentially
irrational way. The result is the present chaos of our civilization,
which man today can meet only with anxiety and horror.
The key to the tragedy of the human anin1al lies outside his
social and psychological \vays of thinking and being. For both his
ideas and his social practices are themselves a result of his biologi-
cal "original sin," a term one can apply \vith good reason to the
biological deterioration of the hu1nan animal.
To the deadly character of the social catastrophes of the human
animal corresponds the deep earnestness of the orgonomic realm of
problems, and the critical seriousness of the biological revolution of
our times.
The bibliography of publications appended to this volume is
intended to make accessible to sh1dents and \Vorkers in the realms
of the science of Inan at large the shnple lines of Wilhelm Reich's
research. This con1pilation is not co1nplete. The bibliography does
not contain the complicated and detailed discussions, with friend
and foe, of the life function; nor does it contain books and articles
in the fields of literature, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, education, so-
ciology, natural philosophy, and natural science \vhich have been
Prefatory Note XXV

clearly influenced by orgonotnic thinking since the early 1920's

without tnentioning specifically the source of orgonomic kno\vledge.
Still, as a start this bibliography \Vill fulfill its purpose: it \viii trans-
mit to the student the clear iinprcssion that through all the cotnplex-
ities of the social, psychological, and biological sciences of the
human anilnal there runs a siinple red thread. To grasp this thread
is a crucial task of our age.
Selected Writings
I. Introduction



The cosn1ic orgone energy vvas discovered as a result of the con-

sistent application of the functional technique of thinking. It \Vas
these methodic, rigidly controlled thought processes that led fron1
one fact to another, \Veaving-across a span of about t\venty-ve
years-seen1ingly disparate facts into a unified picture of the func-
tion of nature; a picture \vhich is sub1nitted to the verdict of the
world as the still unfinished doctrinal frame\vork of orgonomy.
Hence it is necessary to describe the "functional technique of
It is useful not only to allovv the serious student of the natural
sciences to see the result of research but also to initiate hin1 into the
secrets of the workshop in \vhich the end product, after n1uch toil
and effort, is shaped. I consider it an error in scientific conlmunica-
tion that, n1ost of the tirne, merely the polished and fla,vless results
of natural research are displayed, as in an art sho\v. An exhibit of
the finished product alone has n1any dra\vbacks and dangers for
both its creator and its users. The creator of the product vvill be only
too ready to den1onstrate perfection and fla,vlessness \vhile conceal-
ing gaps, uncertainties, and discordant contradictions of his insight
into nature. He thus belittles the n1eaning of the real process of
natural research. The user of the product \vill not appreciate the
rigorous demands 111ade on the natural scientist \vhen the latter has
to reveal and describe the secrets of nature in a practical way. He
\vill never learn to think for himself and to cope by hh11self. \Tery
few drivers have an accurate idea of the sum of human efforts, of

From Ether, God and Deuil and Cosmic Superimposition, 1973. (A detailed
bibliography appears in the Appendix.)


the cornplicatcd thought processes and operations needed for

manufacturing an autornobile. Our \Vorld \Vould be better off if the
beneficiaries of \Vork kne\v Inore a bout the process of \York and the
experience of the \vorkers, if they did not pluck so thoughtlessly
the fruits of labor performed by others.
In the case of orgonon1y, a look into a corner of the \vorkshop is
particularly pertinent. The greatest difficulty in understanding the
orgone theory lies in the fact that the discovery of the orgone has
solved too n1any problcn1s at once, and problen1s that were too vast:
the biological foundation of en1otional illnesses, biogenesis and,
\Vith it, the cancer biopathy, the ether, the cos1nic longing of the
hurnan anin1al, a new kind of physical energy, etc. There was
ahNays too 1nuch going on in the \Vorkshop; too 1nany facts, ne\v
causal connections, corrections of dated and inaccurate vievvpoints,
connections \Vith various branches of specialized research in the
natural sciences. Hence, I often had to defend myself against the
criticisrn that I had overstepped scientific limits, that I had under-
taken "too much at one tirne." I did not undertake too much at a
tiine, and I did not overreach n1yself scientifically. No one has felt
more painfully than I have this charge of "too n1uch." I did not set
out to trace the facts; the facts and interrelations flo\ved to\vard n1e
in superabundance. I had trouble treating them with due attention
and putting then1 in good order. ~1any, 1nany facts of great signifi-
cance were lost that \vay; others ren1ained uncomprehended. But
the essential and basic facts about the discovery of cos1nic orgone
energy strike rne as sufficiently secure and systen1atized for others to
continue building the structure I could not cornplete. The n1ultitude
of ne\v facts and interrelations, particularly the relationship of the
human anilnal to his universe, can be explained by a very sin1ple
Did Cohunbus discover Ne\v York City or Chicago, the fish-
eries in ~1ainc, the plantations in the South, the vast \Vaterworks or
the natural resources fJn A1nerica's \\Test Coast? He discovered none
of this, built none of it, did not \vork out any details. He merely
discovered a stretch of sec1shore that up to then was unkno\vn to
Europeans. The discovery of this coastal stretch on the Atlantic
Introduction 5

Ocean was the key to everything that over several centuries became
"North America." Columbus's achievement consisted not of building
America but of surmounting seemingly immovable prejudices and
hardships, preparing for his voyage, carrying it out, and landing on
alien, dangerous shores.
The discovery of cosn1ic energy occurred in a similar fashion.
In reality, I have Ina de only one single discovery: the function of
orgastic plasma pulsation. It represents the coastal stretch from
which all else developed. It was far more difficult to overcome
human prejudice in dealing with the biophysical basis of emotions,
which are man's deepest concern, than to make the relatively simple
observation about bions or to cite the equally simple and self-
evident fact that the cancer biopathy rests on the general shrinking
and decomposition of the living organism.
"What is the hardest thing of all? I That which seems the
easiest I For your eyes to see, I That which lies before your eyes,"
as Goethe put it.
What has ahvays astounded me is not that the orgone exists
and functions but that for over twenty millennia it was so thor-
oughly overlooked or argued away whenever a few life-asserting
scholars sighted and described it. In one respect, the discovery of
the or gone differs from the discovery of America: orgone energy
functions in all hutnan beings and before all eyes. America first had
to be found.
An essential and comprehensive part of my activities in the
workshop lay in learning to understand why people in general, and
natural scientists in particular, recoil from so basic a phenon1enon as
the orgastic pulsation. Another part of my \VOrk, which brought
down on me much dirt, dust, and plain garbage, consisted of feel-
ing, experiencing, understanding, and overcoming the bitter hatred,
among friends and foes alike, that for1ned a roadblock everywhere
to my orgasm research. I believe that biogenesis, the ether question,
the life function, and "human nature" would long ago have been
conquered by many scientific workers if these basic questions of
natural science had not had but one access: the orgastic plasma
6 'V I L H E L M R E 1C H

When I succeeded in concentrating on this single pro blen1 for

three decades, n1astering it and orienting myself \Vithin its funda-
mental natural function, in spite of all obstacles and personal
attacks, I began to realize that I had transcended the conceptual
franle\vork of the existing hurnan character structure and, \Vith it,
our civilization during the past five thousand years. Without \Vant-
ing to, I found 1nyself outside its lin1its. Hence I had to expect that I
\Vould not be understood even if I produced the shnplest and most
easily verinablc facts and interconnections. I found n1yself in a new,
different reahn of thought, \vhich I first had to investigate before I
could go on. This orientation in the ne'v functional realm of
thought, in contrast to the mechanistic-mystical realm of patriarchal
civilization, took about fourteen years, roughly from 1932 to the
\Vriting of this \Vork, 1946 and 1947.
~'ly \vritings have often been criticized for being far too com-
pressed, forcing the reader to make a strenuous effort at concentra-
tion. It has been said that people prefer to enjoy an important book
in the same \vay they enjoy beautiful scenery \Vhile cruising at
leisure in a ccnnfortablc car. People do not \Vant to race to\vard a
specific goal in a straight line at lightning speed.
I adn1it that I n1ight have presented The Function of the
Orgasn1- in a thousand instead of three hundred pages, and the
or gone therapy of the cancer biopa thy in five hundred instead of
one hundred pages. I further adn1it that I never troubled to
fan1iliarize n1y readers completely with the conceptual and investi-
gative rnethods on \Vhich the results of orgono1ny are based. No
doubt, this has caused 1nuch damage. I clai1n extenuating circum-
stances insofar as I opened up several scientific fields over the
decades, \vhich I Rrst had to set do\vn in a condensed, systematic
forn1 in order to keep up \Vi th the develop1nent of my research. I
kno\v that I have built no n1ore than the scaffold and foundation of
n1y structure, that \Vindo\vs, doors, and important interior features
are n1issing in 1nany pi aces, and that it does not offer a comfortable
I ask to be excused because of the pioneer nature of this
basically different research. I had to gather my scientific treasures
Introduction 7

rapidly, wherever and ho\vcver I found them; this happened during

the brief intervals bet\veen six changes of domicile forced upon me
partly by "peaceful" circun1stances but partly by extremely violent
social upheavals. Furthern1ore, I constantly had to start fron1
scratch in earning a living: first in Germany ( 1930), then in
Copenhagen ( 1933), in S\veden and Nor\vay ( 1934, twice in the
same year), and in the United States ( 1939). In retrospect, I ask
myself ho\v I succeeded in accon1plishing anything essential at all.
For aln1ost two decades I lived and worked "on the run," so to
speak. All this precluded a congenial and secure abnosphere, \vith-
out which it is impossible to give congenial, extensive descriptions
of discoveries. I must reject another criticism, namely, that I unnec-
essarily provoked the public by the \vord "orgasm" in the title of a
book. There is no reason \vhatever for being ashamed of this func-
tion. Those \vho are squea1nish about it need not read further. The
rest of us cannot allo\v others to dictate the limits of scientific
When I began this book, I planned to make up for what I had
denied to myself and others for so long in terms of breadth and
more graphic presentation. I hope I will now be spared the criticism
that I have taken my research ''too seriously" by giving it "too
much" space.
Since everything in nature is interconnected in one \vay or
another, the subject of "orgonomic functionalism" is practically
inexhaustible. It \Vas essentially the humanistic and scientific
achievements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that
merged \vith my interests and studies of the natural sciences to for1n
the living body of \Vork that eventually took useful and applicable
shape as "orgonomic functionalisn1.', Although the functional tech-
nique of thinking \viii be described here systematically for the first
time, it was nevertheless applied by many scholars more or less
consciously before it definitely overcan1e, in the form of orgonomy,
the hitherto rigid limits of natural research. I would like to mention
the names of those to whom I am primarily indebted; Coster,
Dostoevsky, Lange, Nietzsche, Morgan, Darwin, Engels, Se1non,
Bergson, Freud, Malinowski, a1nong others. When I said earlier that
8 \V I L H E L ~f R E I C H

I found n1yself in a "ne\v realm of thought," this does not mean that
orgonon1ic functionalis1n \Vas "ready" and n1erely \vaiting for me, or
that I could simply appropriate Bergson;os or Engels's conceptual
technique and apply it smoothly to the area of my problem. The
forn1ation of this thought technique \vas in itself a task I had to
acco1nplish in practical activity as a physician and scientist strug-
gling against the mechanistic and mystical interpretations of living
matter. Thus I have not developed a "new philosophy" that adjacent
to, or in conjunction with, other philosophies tried to bring the
processes of life closer to human comprehension, as some of my
friends believe. No, there is no philosophy involved at all. Rather,
\Ve are dealing with a tool of thought that \Ve must learn to apply
before investigating the substance of life. Orgono1nic functionalisn1
is not some luxury article to be \VOrn or taken off at one's discretion.
It consolidates the conceptualla\vs and functions of perception that
must be mastered if \Ve are to allo\v children and adolescents to
grow up as life-affinnative hun1an beings in this \Vorld, if \Ve \Vant
to bring the human animal into harmony again with his natural
constitution and the nature surrounding hi1n. One can oppose such
a goal on philosophical or religious grounds. One can declare,
"purely philosophically," that a ''unity of nature and culture" is im-
possible or harmful or unethical or unimportant. But no one can
claim any longer that the splitting up of the human animal into a
cultural and a private being, into a ''representative of higher values"
and an "orgonotic energy systen1," does not, in the truest sense of
the word, undermine his health, does not harm his intelligence, does
not destroy his joy of living, does not stifle his initiative, does not
plunge his society time and again into chaos. The protection of life
demands functional thinking (in contrast to n1echanistics and mys-
ticisin) as a guideline in this \Vorld, just as traffic safety demands
good brakes and flawlessly \vorking signal lights.
I would like to confess to the most rigid scientific ordering of
freedom here. Neither philosophy nor ethics but the protection of
social functioning \viii determine \vhether a child of four can experi-
ence his first genital excitations \Vith or \vithout anxiety. A physi-
cian, educator, or social administrator can have only one opinion
Introduction 9

(not five) about the sadistic or pornographic fantasies a boy or girl

develops during puberty under the pressure of n1oralism. It is not a
question of philosophical possibilities but of social and personal
necessities to prevent by all possible means the deaths of thousands
of women from cancer of the uterus because they \vere raised to
practice abstinence, because thousands of cancer researchers do not
want to acknowledge this fact or \vill not speak up for fear of
ostracism. It is a murderous philosophy that still favors the suppres-
sion of natural life functions in infants and adolescents.
If we trace the origins and wide ramifications of public opinion,
especially \Vith respect to the personal life of the hu1nan masses, \Ve
find time and again the ancient, classic "philosophies" about life, the
state, absolute values, the universal spirit. They are all accepted
uncritically in an era that has degenerated into chaos because of
these "harmless" philosophies, an era in which the human animal
has lost his orientation and self-confidence and senselessly gambles
away his life. Thus, \Ve are not concerned about philosophies but
about practical tools crucial to the reshaping of human life. What is
at stake is the choice between good and bad tools in rebuilding and
reorganizing human society.
A tool alone cannot do this work. Man must create the tools for
mastering nature. Hence it is the human character structure that
determines how the tool will be n1ade and what purpose it will
The arn1ored, mechanistically rigid person thinks mechanisti-
cally, produces mechanistic tools, and forms a mechanistic concep-
tion of nature.
The armored person who feels his orgonotic body excitations in
spite of his biological rigidity, but does not understand then1, is
mystic man. He is interested not in "material" but in "spiritual"
things. He forn1s a mystical, supernarural idea about nature.
Both the mechanist and the mystic stand inside the limits and
conceptual la\vs of a civilization \Vhich is ruled by a contradictory
and murderous mixture of machines and gods. This civilization
forms the mechanistic-mystical structures of men, and the mecha-
nistic-mystical character structures keep reproducing a n1echa-
10 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

nistic-mystical civilization. Both mechanists and mystics find them . .

selves inside the frame\vork of human structure in a civilization
conditioned by mechanistics and mysticism. They cannot grasp the
basic problen1s of this civilization because their thinking and philos-
ophy correspond exactly to the condition they project and continue
to reproduce. In order to realize the po\ver of n1ysticism, one has
only to think of the n1urderous conflict bet\veen Hindus and ~1 us-
lin1s at the time India \vas divided. To comprehend \vhat mecha-
nistic civilization means, think of the "age of the atom bomb."
Orgononzic functionalisnt stands outside the fra1nework of
tnechanistic-mystical civilization. It did not rise from the need to
"bury" this civilization; hence, it is not a priori revolutionary.
Orgonomic functionalisn1 represents the way of thinking of the
individual \vho is unarn1ored and therefore in contact \vith nature
inside and outside himself. The living human animal acts like any
other aninzal, i.e., functionally; ar1nored uwn acts tnechanistically
and 1nystically. Orgonomic functiunalistn is the vital expression of
the unarmored luunan ani1nal, his tool for co1nprehending nature.
This method of thinking and \Vorking becomes a dynamically
progressive force of social development only by observing, criticiz . .
ing, and changing n1echanistic-mystical civilization from the stand-
point of the natural la\vs of life, and not from the narrO\V perspec-
tive of state, church, economy, culture, etc.
Since, \Vithin the intellectual frame\vork of mechanistic-mysti-
cal character structure, life itself has been misunderstood, abused,
feared, and often persecuted, it is evident that orgonomic func-
tionalism is outside the social realm of mechanistic civilization.
Wherever it finds itself inside this realm, it 1nust step out of it in
order to function. And "functioning" means nothing but investigat-
ing, understanding, and protecting life as a force of nature. At its
inception, orgone biophysics possessed the important insight that
the functioning of living n1atter is shnple, that the essence of life is
the vital functioning itself, and that it has no transcendental "pur-
pose" or "n1caning." The search for the purposeful meaning of life
stems frotn the annoring of the human organism, \vhich blots out
the living function and replaces it \Vith rigid forn1ulas of life.
I nttoduction 11

Unarn1ored life does not look for a n1eaning or purpose for its
existence, for the sirnple reason that it functions spontaneously,
meaningfully, and purposefully, without the con1n1and "Thou shalt."
The interrelations behveen conceptual n1ethods, character
structures, and social lin1itations are sirnple and logical. They ex-
plain \vhy, so far, all n1en \Vho understood and battled for life in one
form or another consistently found then1selves frustrated outsiders
--outside the conceptual la\vs that have governed hu1nan society for
thousands of years-and \vhy they so often suffered and perished.
And \vhere they seen1ed to penehate, it can be consistently sho\vn
that the arn1ored exponents of rnechanistic-rnystical civilization tin1e
and again deprived their doctrine's life-affirmative elen1ent of its
specific characteristics and en1bodied it into the existing conceptual
framework by diluting or "correcting'' it. This \viii be discussed at
length else\vhere. Here it suffices to prove that functional thinking is
outside the fran1e\vork of our civilization because life itself is
outside it, because it is not investigated but n1isunderstood and
II. The Orgasm Theory




In December 1920, Freud sent me a young student for treabnent.

He was suffering from a compulsion to ruminate and to count,
compulsive anal fantasies, habitual n1asturbation, acute neuras-
thenic symptoms, e.g., headaches and back pains, absent-minded-
ness and nausea. I treated him for several months. The compulsion
to ruminate in1mediately became a compulsion to associate. His case
seemed quite hopeless. Suddenly an incest fantasy broke through,
and for the first time the patient masturbated with gratification. All
his symptoms vanished at once. In the course of eight days, they
gradually returned. He masturbated again. The symptoms again
disappeared, only to return a few days later. This went on for
several weeks. Finally we succeeded in getting at the root of his
guilt feelings about n1asturbation and in correcting some damaging
modes of behavior. His condition visibly in1proved. After a total of
nine months, I terminated the treatment. The patient was now
capable of working and his condition was significantly improved.
My records show that I was informed about the patient's condi-
tion over a period of six years. He later married and remained
Parallel with this case, I was also analyzing a waiter who was
totally incapable of having an erection. The treatinent ran a smooth
course. In the third year, we arrived at a perfect reconstruction of
the "primal scene." He was about two years old when it occurred.

From The Function of the Orgasm, 1973 (Vol. I of The Discocery of the Or-


His mother gave birth to a child. From the adjacent room, he had
been able to observe every detail of the delivery. The in1pression of
a large bloody hole bet\vecn her legs became firn1ly ingrained in his
1nind. On a conscious level, there ren1ained only the sensation of an
"en1ptincss" in his own genital. In accordance with the psychoan-
alytic kno\vledge of that tin1c, I 1nercly connected his inability to
have an erection \Vith the severely traurnatic impression of the "cas-
trated" fcn1ale genital. This \vas no doubt correct. Ho\vever, it was
not until a fc\v years ago that I began to pay special attention to
and to understand the "feeling of cn1ptiness in the genitals" in 1ny
patients. It corresponds to a withdrawal of biological energy.
At that tiine, I incorrectly assessed the total personality of 1ny
patient. l-Ie \Vas very quiet, well-n1annered, and \Vell-behaved, and
did everything that \vas asked of him. He never got excited. In the
course of three years of treah11ent, he never once became angry or
exercised criticisn1. Thus, according to the prevailing concepts, he
was a fully "integrated," "adjusted" character, with only one acute
syrnpton1 ( Inonosyn1pto1natic neurosis). I delivered a report on this
case to the sen1inar on technique and \Vas praised for the correct
elucidation of the prin1al tralunatic scene. Theoretically, I had given
a con1plete explanation of the syn1pton1, the patient's inability to
have an erection. Since the patient \Vas industrious and orderly-
"adjusted to reality" as we used to say-it did not occur to any one
of us that it was precisely this en1otional tranquillity, this unshakable
equaniinity, which forn1ed the pathological characterological basis
on which erective in1potence could be n1aintained. The older ana-
lysts considered the analytic work that I had performed co1nplete
and correct. For n1y part, I left the Ineeting unsatisfied. If every-
thing was indeed just as it should be, why was there no change in
the patient's iinpotence? There n1ust be so1nething n1issing some
place, but none of us kne\v where. I terrninated the analysis several
n1onths later-the patient had not been cured. The in1perturbability
\Vith \Vhich he bore it was as stoical as the hnperturbability with
\Vhich he had accepted everything throughout the entire treatment.
This patient in1pressed upon n1e the in1portant character-analytic
The Orgasnl Theory 15

concept of "affect-block." I had hit upon the far-reaching connection

between the present-day formation of the human character and
emotional coldness and genital deadness.
At this time, psychoanalysis was requiring longer and longer
periods of treatment. When I first began to treat patients, six
months was considered a long time. In 1923, one year was already a
matter of course. The idea gained ground that t\vo or more years for
a treatment would be even better. There was no getting around it:
neuroses are complicated and severe illnesses. Freud wrote his now
famous History of an Infantile Neurosis on the basis of a case which
he treated for five years. Freud of course had acquired a deep
knowledge of a child's world of experience from this case. The
psychoanalysts, on the other hand, made a virtue of necessity.
Abraham contended that years \vere needed to understand a
chronic depression, and that the "passive technique" was the only
true technique. Psychoanalysts made sly jokes about their drowsi-
ness during the analytic session. If a patient did not produce any
associations for hours on end, then the analyst had to smoke a great
deal in order not to fall asleep. There were analysts, indeed, who
deduced grandiose theories from this. If the patient \vas silent, then
the analyst too had to be silent, whether for hours or weeks on end.
This was regarded as "consummate technique." From the very
beginning, I sensed that something \Vas fundamentally wrong here.
Yet I too attempted to follo\v this "technique." Nothing came of it.
The patients merely developed a deep sense of helplessness, a bad
conscience, and the stubbornness which \vent hand in hand with
both. Matters were not made any better by the jokes about the
analyst who woke up from a deep sleep during a session and found
his couch empty, or by convoluted explanations to the effect that it
was quite all right for the analyst to drowse for a \Vhile, because his
unconscious would keep an anxious watch over the patient. It was
even contended that the analyst's unconscious was able, upon
waking from sleep during a treatment, to pick up precisely where
the patient's unconscious was continuing. It was both depressing
and hopeless.
16 \V I L H E L M R E I CH

On the other hand, Freud warned us not to be overly ambitious

in our therapeutic efforts. It \Vas not until many years later that I
understood vvhat he meant. The allegations which were made by
the psychotherapists were simply not true. Follo\ving the discovery
of the unconscious n1echanisn1S, Freud himself had initially cher-
ished the definite hope of being able to tread upon secure ground
toward the develop1nent of a causal psychotherapy. He had de-
ceived himself. He n1ust have been greatly disappointed. His con-
clusion \Vas correct that further research was most imperative. A
rash desire to cure is not conducive to the recognition of new facts.
I had as little notion as anyone about the nature of the area into
which this indispensable research had to lead. Nor did I have any
notion that it \Vas the psychoanalyst's fear of the social conse-
quences of psychoanalysis \vhich caused him to assume such bizarre
attitudes in questions of therapy. At issue were the follo,ving
1. Is the Freudian theory on the etiology of the neurosis
2. Is it possible to arrive at a scientific theory of technique and
3. Is the Freudian theory of instinct correct? Is it complete? If
not, \Vhere is it lacking?
4. 'Vha t made sexual repression (which led to the epidemic of
neurosis) necessary in the first place?
These questions contained the germ of everything that later
came to be called sex-economy. It is only in retrospect that I can
pose these orientating questions. At that tin1e, the conscious formu-
lation of any one of them might well have prematurely held me
back from any kind of research. I am grateful that I had no concrete
conception of these questions in those initial years, that I innocently
went about my work in the psychoanalytic clinic and worked on the
development of the psychoanalytic systen1-all in the belief that my
activity \Vas in Freud's name and for his life \vork. Deeply com-
mitted to my o'vn life \Vork, I have not the slightest regret today
that this not very self-confident attitude later caused me consider-
The Orgasnt Theory 17

able suffering. This attitude was the presupposition of my later




I would ren1ind the reader that I carne to Freud from sexology.

It is not at all surprising, therefore, that I found his theory of the
actual neurosis, \Vhich I called sexual stasis neurosis, far more
appealing and scientific than the "interpretation" of the "meaning"
of symptoms in the psychoneurosis. Freud designated as actual
neuroses those illnesses which were caused by contemporary dis-
turbances of sexual life. According to his conception, anxiety neu-
rosis and neurasthenia \Vere illnesses \vhich did not have a "psychic
etiology." He held the vie\v that they \Vere direct manifestations of
dammed-up sexuality. They \Vere just like toxic disturbances. Freud
assumed that the body contained "chen1ical substances" of a ''sexual
nature" which, if they \Vere not adequately "metabolized," produced
nervous palpitations, cardiac irregularity, acute attacks of anxiety,
perspiration, and other symptoms of the vegetative life apparatus. It
\Vas far frorn Freud's intent to establish a relation between the
anxiety neurosis and the vegetative system. On the basis of his
clinical experience, he contended that the anxiety neurosis \vas the
result of sexual abstinence or coitus interruptus. It was different
fron1 neurasthenia, which, in contrast to the anxiety neurosis, \Vas
brought about by "sexual abuses," that is, by unregulated sexuality;
e.g., excessive mash1rbation. The sympton1s of neurasthenia were
back pains and lun1bago, headaches, general irritability, distur-
bances of men1ory and attentiveness, etc. In other \Vords, Freud
classified, according to their etiology, syndromes \vhich were not
understood by official neurology and psychiatry. It \vas for this
reason that he \vas attacked by the psychiatrist Lowenfeld, \vho,
like hundreds of other psychiatrists, completely denied the sexual
etiology of neuroses. Freud stuck to the official clinical terminology.
18 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

He contended that the above-n1entioned symptoms did not reveal

any psychic content, \vhcreas such content \Vas revealed by psy-
choneurosis, particularly hysteria and compulsion neurosis. The
syn1pton1s of these illnesses sho\ved a concretely comprehensible
content \vhich \vas al,vays sexual. It \Vas n1erely necessary to have a
sufficiently broad and sensible conception of sexuality. The incest
fantasy and the fear of being injured in one's genitals \Vere at the
core of every psychoneurosis. The unconscious fantasies which were
expressed in the psychoneurotic symptom \Vere clearly of an infan-
tile sexual nature. Freud made a clear-cut distinction bet\veen the
actual neurosis and the psychoneurosis. Understandably, the psy-
choneuroses \vere of central in1portance in psychoanalytic clinical
\Vork. It \Vas Freud,s vic\v that the actual neuroses could be cured
by ridding the patient of the detrimental sexual activities, i.e.,
abstinence or coitus interruptus in the case of anxiety neurosis, and
excessive masturbation in the case of neurasthenia. Psychoneuroses,
on the other hand, have to be treated psychoanalytically. In spite of
this sharp dichoton1ization, he ad1nitted a connection between the
hvo groups. He \Vas of the opinion that every psychoneurosis
centered around "an actual-neurotic core." It was this very illumi-
nating statement that formed the point of departure for my investi-
gations of stasis anxiety. Freud no longer published anything on this
According to Freud's conception of the actual neurosis, sexual
energy is inadequately disposed of. Its access to consciousness and
motility is blocked. The actual anxiety and the concomitant physio-
logically determined nervous syn1pton1s are, so to speak, prolifera-
tions of a malignant nature \vhich are nourished by non-resolved
sexual excitation. But even the strange psychic formations of the
compulsion neurotic and hysterical patients had the appearance of
biologically n1eaningless, n1alignant proliferations. \Vhere did they
derive their energy? Could there be any doubt that it was from the
"actual-neurotic core" of dan1med-up sex~al excitation? In other
\vords, this must also be the energy source of the psychoneuroses.
Freud's hint admitted of no other interpretation. This could be the
The Orgasnl Theory 19

only possible \vay of seeing it. The objection \vhich most psycho-
analysts raised to the theory of the actual neurosis had a disturbing
effect. They contended that there \vas no such thing as an actual
neurosis. This illness also, they said, \vas "psychically detern1ined."
Unconscious psychic contents could also be sho\vn to exist in so-
called "free-floating anxiety." Stekel \Vas the chief exponent of this
vie\v. He argued that all forms of anxiety and nervous disturbances
were psychically detertnined and not sornatically determined, as
was contended in the case of the actual neuroses. Like many others,
Stekel failed to sec the fundamental difference between the psycho-
somatic excitation and the psychic content of a syn1ptom. Freud did
not clear up the contradiction, but he stuck to his initial differentia-
tion. I, on the other hand, sa\v any number of somatic symptoms in
the psychoanalytic clinic. However, it could not be denied that the
symptoms of the actual neurosis also had a psychic superstructure.
Cases of pure actual neurosis \Vere rare. The differentiation \vas not
as clear-cut as Freud had assun1ed. Such specific questions of scien-
tific research n1ay \veil appear unin1portant to the layman. It \vill be
shown that very decisive proble1ns of human health were concealed
in then1. In short, there tvas no doubt that the psychoneuroses had
an actual (stasis) neurotic core and that the stasis neuroses had a
psychoneurotic superst-ructure. Was there still any point in differ-
entiating the two? vVas it not merely a quantitative question?
While xnost analysts attached the greatest importance to the
psychic contents of the neurotic symptoms, leading psychopatholo-
gists like Jaspers ( cf. his Psyclzopathologie) completely denied the
scientific character of psychological interpretation of meaning and,
hence, denied the scientific character of psychoanalysis itself. He
argued that the "meaning'' of a psychic attitude or action could be
grasped only "philosophically" and not scientifically. The natural
sciences, he said, were concerned solely with quantities and ener-
gies, \vhereas philosophy was concerned \Vith psychic qualities.
There was no bridge between the quantitative and qualitative
factors. At issue \vas a decisive question: did psychoanalysis and its
methods have a natural scientific character? In other words: can

there be a natural scientific psychology in the strict sense of the

word? Can psychoanalysis claim to be a natural science, or is it
merely one of the many philosophic disciplines? Freud paid no
attention to these methodological questions and unconcernedly
published his clinical observations. He disliked philosophic discus-
sions. But I had to fight against narrow-minded opponents in these
arguments. They wanted to relegate psychoanalysts to the ranks of
the spiritualists and thus dispose of us. However, we knew that, for
the first time in the history of psychology, we were practicing
natural science. We wanted to be taken seriously. It was in the
difficult struggle to gain clarity about these questions in the dia-
logue with our opponents that the weapons were forged with which
I later defended Freud's cause. If it were true that only Wundt's
experimental psychology is "scientific" because it measures reactions
quantitatively; if, moreover, psychoanalysis is not scientific because
it does not measure quantities but merely describes and constructs
the relation of meanings bet,veen psychic phenomena that have
been torn apart; then natural science is false. For Wundt and his
students kne\v nothing of tnan in his living reality. They made
evaluations about 1nan on the basis of how many seconds it took
him to react to the stimulus word "dog." They still do this today.
We, however, made evaluations on the basis of the manner in which
a person dealt with his conflicts and the motives which prompted
his actions. In the background of this dispute was the question
whether it \Vas possible to arrive at a more concrete understanding
of the Freudian concept of "psychic energy" or, best of all, to
classify it under the general concept of energy.
Facts are not of much use in countering philosophic arguments.
Allers, the Viennese philosopher and physiologist, declined to enter
into the question of unconscious psychic life because, from the point
of view of philosophy, the assumption of an "unconscious'' was a
priori false. I still run across such arguments today. When I main-
tain that highly sterilized substances can be alive, people say no-
that is not possible. The slide must have been dirty, or else wh2.t I
saw \Vas "Bro\vnian 1novement." The fact that it is easy to distin-
guish dirt on the slide from the bions, and Bro\vnian movement
The Orgasm Theory 21

from vegetative moven1ent, does not 1nake any difference to them.

In short, ''objective science" is a problem in itself.
Unexpectedly, a nun1ber of observations in the everyday life of
the clinic, such as those n1ade on the t\vo patients mentioned earlier,
helped n1e to find 1ny \Vay in this confusion. It gradually became
clear that the intensity of a psychic idea depends upon the 1non1en-
tary somatic excitation zvith tvhich it is associated. En1otion origi-
nates in the instincts, thus in the somatic realn1. An idea, on the
other hand, is a purely "psychic,'' non-physical formation. What,
then, is the relation bet\vcen the "non-physical'' idea and the "physi-
cal" excitation? When a person is fully aroused sexually, the idea of
sexual intercourse is vivid and urgent. After gratification, on the
other hand, it cannot be immediately reproduced; it is feeble, color-
less, and someho\v nebulous. There can be no doubt that this fact
contained the secret of the relation behveen the physiogenic an.xiety
neurosis and the psychogenic psychoneurosis. My one patient had
momentarily lost all his psychic compulsive syn1pton1s after experi-
encing sexual gratification. \Vith the reappearance of excitation, the
sympto1ns also reappeared and ren1aincd until the next gratification.
My other patient, ho\vever, had thoroughly worked through all the
n1aterial in the psychic sphere, but there had not been any sexual
excitation. The unconscious ideas which made him incapable of
having an erection had not been influenced by the treatment. Sud-
denly things began to fit together. I understood no\v that a psychic
idea endo\ved \vith a very small amount of energy can provoke an
increase in the excitation. In turn, this provoked excitation makes
the idea urgent and vivid. If the excitation ceases, the idea also
vanishes. If, as in the case of the stasis neurosis, a conscious idea of
the sexual act fails to 1naterialize because of a moralistic inhibition,
\Vhat happens is that the excitation becon1es attached to other ideas
which can be thought of n1ore freely. I concluded from this that the
stasis neurosis is a physical disturbance caused by inadequately
disposed of, i.e., unsatisfied, sexual excitation. Ho\vever, without a
psychic inhibition, the sexual excitation would al\vays be adequately
discharged. I was surprised that Freud had over looked this fact.
Once an inhibition has produced a sexual stasis, the latter can easily
22 W I L H E L ~1 R E I C H

intensify the inhibition and reactive infantile ideas that take the
place of norn1al ideas. As a result of a contemporary inhibition,
childhood experiences \vhich are not in then1selves pathologic could,
so to speak, receive an excess of sexual energy. Once this happens,
they becon1e urgent, con1c into conflict \Vith the adult psychic
organization, and have, from now on, to be held in check with the
help of repression. It is in this \vay that a chronic psychoneurosis
\vith its infantile sexual content develops from a contemporane-
ously caused, at first "har1nless,'" sexual inhibition. This is the
essence of \vhat Freud described as the neurotic "regression to
infantile mechanisn1s."' All the cases I treated demonstrated this
1nechanism. If the neurosis had not existed from childhood, if it had
developed later, it ahvays turned out that a ''nor1nal" sexual inhibi-
tion or difficulty in one"s sexual life had produced a stasis, and this
stasis in turn had activated the infantile incest desires and sexual
The next question \vas: is the sexual inhibition and the con-
comitant rejection of sexuality which develops at the beginning of a
chronic illness ccneurotic" or "normal"? No one spoke about this. It
appeared that the sexual inhibition of a \veil-brought-up middle-
class girl \Vas quite the \vay it should be. I, too, was of the same
opinion; that is to say, I simply did not give it any thought at that
time. If, O\ving to an ungratifying marriage, a young lively woman
developed a stasis neurosis, e.g., nervous cardiac anxiety, it did not
occur to anyone to ask about the inhibition that prevented her from
experiencing sexual gratification in spite of her marriage. In time, it
is even possible that she might develop a real hysteria or compul-
sion neurosis. In this case, the primary cause \vould have been the
moralistic inhibition, while the ungratied sexuality would have
been its driving force.
This was the point of departure for the solution of many prob-
lems. But it \Vas very difficult to tackle them immediately and
energetically. For seven years I thought that I was working in com-
plete accordance \vith the Freudian school of thought. No one
divined that this line of questioning \Vould lead to a fatal clash
bet\veen fundamentally incompatible scientic vie\VS.
The Orgasm Theory 23


The case of the uncured \Vaiter called into question the cor-
rectness of the Freudian forn1ula of therapy. The other case clearly
revealed the actual mechanisrn of cure. For a long time, I tried to
bring opposing vie\vs into harmony. In his History of the Psycho-
analytic 'At ove1nent, Freud tells about the time he heard Charcot
relating to a colleague the case history of a young \VOman who \Vas
suffering from acute sympton1s. Her husband \Vas iinpotent or very
clumsy in the sexual act. Seeing that the colleague did not grasp the
connection, Charcot suddenly exclain1ed \Vith great vivacity, "Mais,
dans des cas pareils, c' est toujours la chose genitale, toujours!
toujours! toujours!" "I know," Freud writes, "that for a moment I
\Vas paralyzed \Vith astonishn1ent, and I said to myself, 'Yes, but if
he knows this, why does he never say so?' ''
A year later, the Viennese physician Chrobak referred a patient
to Freud. She \Vas suffering from acute anxiety attacks and was still
a virgin, after eighteen years of marriage to an impotent man.
Chrobak had written the follo\ving comment: "We kno'v only too
well what the only prescription is for such cases, but \Ve can't pre-
scribe it. It is: 'Penis normalis, dosim. Repetatur!'" In other \VOrds,
the hysterical patient falls ill O\Ving to a lack of genital gratification.
This put Freud on the track of the sexual etiology of hysteria, but
he shrank from the full consequences of Charcot's staten1ent.
It is banal and sounds rather hackneyed, but I maintain that
every person \vho has succeeded in preserving a certain an1ount of
naturalness kno\vs that those \vho are psychically ill need but one
thing-complete and repeated sexual gratification. Instead of sin1ply
investigating this matter, substantiating it, expressing it, and im-
mediately taking up its fight, I entangled myself for years on end in
the psychoanalytic formulation of theories, \Vhich detracted from it.
Most of the theories \vhich psychoanalysts have advanced since the
publication of Freud's The Ego and the Id have had but one func-
tion: to \vipe out Charcot's statement, "In these cases, it is al\vays a
24 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

question of genitality, and I mean always." The fact that man's

sexual organs do not function in a normal way, thus precluding
sexual gratification for both sexes, that this is the cause of most
psychic tnisery and even has a bearing on the cancer scourge, was
too simple to be perceived. Let us see if this is an exaggeration.
The facts of tnedical experience were confirmed again and
again wherever I was working-in n1y private practice, the psycho-
analytic clinic, and the psychiatric-neurologic clinic.
The severity of every form of psychic illness is directly related
to the severity of the genital disturbance.
The prospects of cure and the success of the cure are directly
dependent upon the possibility of establishing the capacity for full
genital gratification.
Of the hundreds of cases which I observed and treated in the
course of several years of extensive work, there was not a single
woman who did not have a vaginal orgastic disturbance. Roughly
sixty to seventy percent of the male patients had gross genital dis-
turbances. Either they were incapable of having an erection during
the act or they suffered from premature ejaculation. The distur-
bance of the ability to experience genital gratification, to experience,
that is, the most natural of what is natural, proved to be a symptom
which was always present in women and seldom absent in men. At
that time, I did not give any further thought to the thirty to forty
percent of the men \vho appeared to be genitally healthy but were
otherwise neurotic. This negligence in clinical thinking was consis-
tent with the psychoanalytic vie\v that impotence or frigidity was
"merely one symptom among n1any."
In November 1922, I read a paper before the Vienna Psycho-
analytic Society on the "Limits of Metnory Activity in the Psycho-
analytic Cure." The presentation tnet \vith enthusiastic approval, for
all therapists \Vere tormented in applying the basic rule, to which
the patients did not adhere, and in obtaining the memories which
the patients were supposed to produce but could not. In the hands
of mediocre analysts, the primal scene re1nained a not very convinc-
ing, rather arbitrary reconstruction. I emphasized that there could
The Orgasm Theory 25

be no doubt about the Freudian formulation concerning the exis-

tence of prin1al traumatic experiences in children bet\veen the ages
of one and four. It \Vas all the more in1portant, therefore, to investi-
gate the limitations of the method.
In January 1923, I presented the case history of a psychogenic
tic. The patient was an older \Voman suffering from a diaphragmatic
tic, which subsided when it becan1e possible for her to n1asturbate.
My presentation was praised and affirmed.
In October 1923, I read a paper before the society on introspec-
tion in a schizophrenic patient. I had been treating a female schizo-
phrenic patient \vho had particularly clear insights into the
mechanisms of her persecution ideas. She confirn1ed the finding of
Tausk regarding the influence of the genital apparatus.
On November 28, 1923, follo\ving three years of investigation, I
read my first 1najor paper, "On Genitality, fron1 the Point of View of
the Prognosis and Therapy of Psychoanalysis." It was published in
the Internationale Zeitschrift fiir Psychoanalyse the follo\ving year.
During my presentation, I became aware of a gro\ving chilli-
ness in the mood of the meeting. I \vas a good speaker and had
al\vays been listened to attentively. When I had finished, an icy
stillness hung over the room. Following a break, the discussion
began. My contention that the genital disturbance was an impor-
tant, perhaps the n1ost important, symptom of the neurosis was said
to be erroneous. The same was said about my contention that
valuable prognostic and therapeutic data could be derived from the
assessment of genitality. Two analysts literally asserted that they
knew any number of female patients who had a "completely healthy
genital life." They appeared to n1e to be n1ore excited than was in
keeping with their usual scientific reserve.
I was at a disadvantage in this controversy, for I had to admit
that there were many male patients who did not appear to have any
genital disturbance. Among female patients, on the other hand, this
was clearly not the case. I was looking for the energy source of the
neurosis, its somatic core. This core could be nothing other than
dammed-up sexual energy, but I could not explain the origin of this
26 \V I L H E L M R E I CH

stasis if potency was unin1 paired. T\vo cardinal views of psycho-

analysis led Ine astray. A man \vas said to be "potent" when he was
able to carry out the sexual act. He was said to be very potent when
he could do so several tin1es in the course of one night. The most
cherished topic of conversation among men of all circles centered
around the question of \Vhich one could sleep \vith a woman the
n1ost nutnber of times in one night. The psychoanalyst Roheim even
\Vent so far as to define potency as the ability of a man to embrace a
\Von1an in such a \vay as to cause an inflammation of the vagina.
The other n1isleading vie\v was that a partial instinct, e.g., the
desire to suck on the n1other's breast, could be blocked individually.
In this way, it \vas argued, the existence of neurotic symptoms in
patients having "full potency" could be explained. This view was
wholly in keeping \Vith the idea of non-related erogenous zones. In
addition, the psychoanalysts denied tny contention that there is not
a single female patient capable of full genital gratification. A woman
\Vas considered genitally healthy \vhen she \Vas capable of having a
clitoral orgasm. At that time, the sex-economic differentiation be-
hveen clitoral and vaginal excitation \Vas unknown. 0 In short, no
one had any idea of the natural function of the orgasm. Still to be
accounted for \vas a questionable remainder of genitally healthy
men \Vho, if they were indeed capable of experiencing genital grati-
fication, thre\v overboard all assun1ptions about the prognostic and
therapeutic role of genitality. For it \vas clear: if my assumption
teas correct, i.e., if the genital disturbance constituted the energy
source of neurotic symptontS, then there could not be a single case
of neurosis u.;ith undisturbed genitality.
My procedure in this was much the same as in all my other
scientific achievements. A general hypothesis \vas derived from a
series of clinical observations. There vvere gaps in it here and there;
it was open to objections \Vhich appeared justified. One's opponents
seldom fail to ferret out such gaps and, on the basis of them, to

Controversy still rages on this subject. ~tasters and Johnson are the most
recent authorities to deny that there is a distinction. Yet it \vould seem that the
only true authority is the \von1an \vho has experienced both clitoral and vaginal
orgasn1s. Invariably, she \viii insist that there is a distinct difference. [Editor]
The Orgasrn Theory 27

reject the hypothesis as a \vholc. As Du Teil 1 once said, "Scientific

objectivity is not of this \vorld. Indeed, its existence is altogether
doubtful." There is little hope of objective cooperation on any one
problen1. It \vas precisely through their ''funda1nental" objections
that the critics helped Inc to overco1ne difficulties, though this \Vas
hardly their intent. Such \vas the case then, too. The objection that
there are any nun1ber of genitally healthy neurotics pron1pted n1c to
take a closer look at "genital health." As incredible as it n1ay seem, it
is nonetheless true that the precise analysis of genital behavior,
\Vhich goes deeper than "I slept \Vith a \Voman" or "I slept \vith a
1nan," \vas strictly forbidden in psychoanalysis. It took n1e more
than hvo years of experience to rid myself completely of this culti-
vated reserve and to realize that people confuse "fucking'' \Vith the
loving en1brace.
The more precisely 1ny patients described their behavior and
experiences in the sexual act, the more rn1 I becan1e in 1ny clini-
cally substantiated conviction that all patients, tcithout exception,
are severely disturbed in their genital funct-ion. ~~lost disturbed of
all \vere those n1en \Vho liked to boast and n1ake a big sho\v of their
masculinity, men \Vho possessed or conquered as many \vomen as
possible, who could "do it" again and again in one night. It became
quite clear that, though they \vere erectively very potent, such men
experienced no pleasure or very little at the mo1nent of ejaculation,
or they experienced the exact opposite, disgust and unpleasure. The
precise analysis of fantasies during the sexual act revealed that the
men usually had sadistic or conceited attitudes and that the \Vomen
\Vere afraid, inhibited, or in1agined themselves to be men. For the
ostensibly potent man, sexual intercourse means the piercing, over-
po,vering, or conquering of the \VOn1an. He merely \Vants to prove
his potency or to be ad1nired for his erective endurance. This
"potency" can be easily undermined by uncovering its n1otives.
Severe disturbances of erection and ejaculation are concealed in it.
In none of these cases is there the slightest trace of involuntary
behavior or loss of conscious activity in the act. Gradually, groping
1 Roger Du Teil did control \\'Ork on the bion experin1ents at the university
in Nice.

my way ahead step by step, I acquired a knowledge of the character-

istics of orgastic impotence. It took me a decade to gain a full
understanding of this disturbance, to describe it and to learn the
correct technique for elin1inating it.
Orgastic impotence has always been in the forefront of sex-
economic research, and all of its details are still not known. Its role
in sex-economy is similar to the role of the Oedipus complex in
psychoanalysis. Whoever does not have a precise understanding of
it cannot be considered a sex-econon1ist. He will never really grasp
its ramifications. He \viii not understand the difference between
health and sickness, nor will he comprehend human pleasure anx-
iety or the pathological nature of the parent-child conflict and the
misery of marriage. It is even possible that he \viii endeavor to bring
about sexual reforms, but he will never touch upon the core of
sexual misery. He might ad1nire the bion experiments, even imitate
them perhaps, but he will never really conduct research in the field
of sex-economy. He will never comprehend religious ecstasy, or have
the least insight into fascist irrationalism. Because he lacks the most
important fundamentals, he will of necessity adhere to the antithesis
between nature and culture, instinct and morality, sexuality and
achievement. He will not be able to really solve a single pedagogic
problem. He will never understand the identity between sexual
process and life process. Nor, consequently, \viii he be able to grasp
the sex-economic theory of cancer. He will mistake sickness for
health and health for sickness. He will end up misinterpreting man's
fear of happiness. In short, he might be anything, but he will never
be a sex-economist, who knows that man is the sole biological
species that has destroyed its own natural sexual function and is
sick as a consequence of this.
Instead of a systematic presentation, I want to describe the
theory of the orgasm in the way in which it developed. This will
enable the reader to grasp its inner logic more easily. It will be seen
that no human brain could have invented these relationships.
Until 1923, the year the orgasm theory was born, only ejacula-
tive and erective potency were known to sexology and psychoanaly-
sis. Without the inclusion of the functional, economic, and
The Orgas1n Theory 29

experiential components, the concept of sexual potency has no

meaning. Erective and ejaculative potency are merely indispensable
preconditions for orgastic potency. Orgastic potency is the capacity
to surrender to the streanling of biological energy, free of any inhi-
bitions; the capacity to discharge cornpletely the danuned-up sexual
excitation through involuntary, pleasurable convulsions of the body.
Not a single neurotic is orgastically potent, and the character struc-
tures of the over,vhehning Inajority of n1en and \NOmen are neurotic.
In the sexual act free of anxiety, unpleasure, and fantasies, the
intensity of pleasure in the orgas1n is dependent upon the a1nount of
sexual tension concentrated in the genitals. The greater and steeper
the "drop" of the excitation, the n1ore intense the pleasure.
The following description of the orgastically gratifying sexual
act pertains only to the course of a fc\v typical, naturaiiy deter-
mined phases and modes of behavior. I did not take into account
the biological foreplay \vhich is deter1nined by individual needs
and does not exhibit a universal character. In addition, we n1ust
note that the bio-electric processes of the orgasn1 function have not
been explored and therefore this description is incon1plcte. 2

Phase of voluntary control of the excitation

1. Erection is not painful as it is in priapisin, spasm of the

pelvic floor or of the sper1natic duct. It is pleasurable. The penis is
not overexcited as it is after a prolonged period of abstinence or in
cases of premature ejaculation. The fcn1ale genital becon1es hyper-
enlic and moist in a specific \vay through the profuse secretion of
the genital glands; that is, in the case of undisturbed genital func-
tioning, the secretion has specific che1nical and physical properties
which are lacking \vhen the genital function is disturbed. An
important characteristic of male orgastic potency is the urge to
penetrate. Erections can occur \vithout this urge, as is the case in
some erectively potent narcissistic characters and in satyriasis.

2 The arabic figures in the text correspond to the arabic figures in the
legend to the diagrain.
30 \V I L H E L ~f R E I C H

F == forepleasure ( 1, 2). P = penetration of penis ( 3). I ( 4, 5) phase
of voluntary control of the excitation and prolongation which is still Wl-
harmful. II ( 6 a-d) = phase of involuntary muscle contractions and
automatic increase of excitation. III ( 7) = sudden and steep ascent to the
climax (C). IV ( 8) =orgasm. The shaded part represents the phase of
involuntary convulsions of the body. V ( 9, 10) =steep drop of the
excitation. R =pleasant relaxation. Duration from five to twenty minutes.

Diagram depicting the typical phases of the sexual act in

\vhich both male and female are orgastically potent

2. The n1an and the \von1an arc tender to\vard each other, and
there are no contradictory in1pulses. The follo,ving are pathological
deviations fron1 this behavior: aggressiveness stemming from sadis-
tic in1pulses, as in son1c crectively potent compulsion neurotics, and
the inactivity of the passive-fen1inine character. Tenderness is also
absent in "onanistic coitus" \Vith an unloved object. Normally, the
activity of the \VOn1an does not differ in any way from that of the
man. The \videspread passivity on the part of the \Voman is patho-
logical, usually the result of n1asochistic rape fantasies.
3. The pleasurable excitation, \vhich has remained at approxi-
n1atcly the san1c level during forepleasure activity, suddenly in-
creases in both n1an and \Voman \Vith the penetration of the penis
into the vagina. The feeling on the pa1t of the 1nan that he is ''being
The Orgasm Theory 31

sucked in" is the counterpart of the \VOman's feeling that she is

"sucking in'' the penis.
4. The man's urge increases to penetrate deeply but does not
take on the sadistic form of '\vanting to pierce through," as in the
case of compulsion neurotic characters. Through the mutual,
gradual, spontaneous, effortless friction, the excitation becomes
concentrated on the surface and glans of the penis and on the
posterior parts of the mucous membrane of the vagina. The charac-
teristic sensation \Vhich heralds and accompanies the discharge of
the semen is still \vholly absent; this is not the case in premature
ejaculation. The body is still less excited than the genital. Con-
sciousness is fully attuned to the assimilation of the streaming
sensations of pleasure. The ego actively participates insofar as it
attempts to explore all possible avenues of pleasure and to achieve
the highest degree of tension before the onset of the orgasm. Con-
scious intentions obviously play no part in this. It all takes place
spontaneously on the basis of the individually different forepleasure
experiences, through change of position, the nature of the friction,
its rhythm, etc. According to most potent men and \VOmen, the
slower and more gentle the frictions are and the more closely
synchronized, the more intense are the sensations of pleasure. This
presupposes a high degree of affinity between the partners. A
pathological counterpart to this is the urge to produce violent fric-
tions. This is especially pronounced in sadistic con1pulsive charac-
ters \Vho suffer fron1 penis anesthesia and the inability to discharge
semen. Another example is the nervous haste of those \Vho suffer
from pren1ature ejaculations. Orgastically potent men and \VOinen
never laugh and talk during the sexual act, except possibly to
exchange \Vords of endearn1ent. Both talking and laughing are
indicative of severe disturbances of the ability to surrender; sur-
render presupposes con1plete immersion in the streaming sensation
of pleasure. Men \vho feel that surrender is "feminine" are always
orgastically disturbed.
5. In this phase, interruption of the friction is in itself pleasur-
able because of the special sensations of pleasure \vhich attend this
pause and do not require psychic exertion. In this \Vay, the act is

prolonged. The excitation subsides a little during the pause. How-

ever, it does not, as in pathological cases, subside altogether.
Interruption of the sexual act by withdrawing the penis is not
unpleasurable as long as it occurs after a restful pause. When
friction continues, the excitation steadily increases beyond the level
which had been previously attained. It gradually takes more and
more possession of the entire body, while the genital itself maintains
a more or less constant level of excitation. Finally, as a result of a
fresh, usually sudden increase of genital excitation, the phase of
involuntary muscular contraction sets in.

Phase of involuntary muscle contractions

6. In this phase, voluntary control of the course of the excita-

tion is no longer possible. It exhibits the following characteristic
a. The increase of the excitation can no longer be controlled;
rather, it grips the entire personality and causes an acceleration of
pulse and deep exhalation.
b. The physical excitation becomes more and more concen-
trated in the genital; there is a sweet sensation which can be best
described as the flowing of excitation from the genital to other parts
of the body.
c. To begin with, this excitation causes involuntary contrac-
tions of the entire musculature of the genitalia and pelvic floor.
These contractions are experienced in the form of waves: the rise of
the \Vave coincides with the complete penetration of the penis,
while the fall of the wave coincides with the retraction of the penis.
But as soon as the retraction goes beyond a certain limit, immediate
spasmodic contractions take place which accelerate ejaculation. In
the female, it is the smooth musculature of the vagina which
d. At this stage, the interruption of the act is altogether un-
pleasurable for both the man and the \voman. When an interruption
takes place, the muscular contractions which lead to orgasm are
The Orgasrn Theory 33

spasmodic instead of rhythn1ic. The sensations \vhich this produces

are highly unpleasurable and occasionally pains in the pelvic floor
and the sacrun1 are experienced. As a result of the spasms, more-
over, the ejaculation takes place earlier than it does in the case of
undisturbed rhythn1.
The voluntary prolongation of the first phase of the sexual act
( 1 to 5) is not harn1ful up to a certain degree and has a pleasure-
intensifying effect. On the other hand, the interruption or voluntary
change of the course of the excitation in the second phase is harnrlul
because of the involuntary nature of this phase.
7. Through the further intensification and increase in the fre-
quency of the involuntary n1uscle contractions, the excitation
mounts rapidly and sharply to the clin1ax (Ill to C in the diagram);
norn1ally, this coincides \Vith the first ejaculatory muscle contrac-
tions in the man.
8. At this point, consciousness becornes more or less clouded;
following a brief pause at the "height" of the clin1ax, the frictions
increase spontaneously and the urge to penetrate "completely''
becomes more intense with every ejaculatory muscle contraction.
The muscle contractions in the woman follow the san1e course as
they follow in the man; there is merely a psychic difference, na1nely
that the healthy \voman \Vants "to receive con1pletely" during and
just after the climax.
9. The orgastic excitation takes hold of the entire body and
produces strong convulsions of the n1usculature of the whole body.
Self-observations on the part of healthy persons of both sexes, as
well as the analysis of certain disturbances of the orgasm, sho\v that
what we call the resolution of tension and experience as motor
discharge (descending curve of the orgasm) is essentially the result
of the reversion of the excitation from the genital to the body. This
reversion is experienced as a sudden reduction of the tension.
Hence, the climax represents the h1rning point in the course of
the excitation, i.e., prior to the climax, the direction of the excitation
is toward the genital; subsequent to the climax, the excitation flows
a\vay from the genital. It is this complete return of the excitation

from the genital to the body that constitutes the gratification. This
means two things: flo,ving back of the excitation to the entire body
and relaxation of the genital apparatus.
10. Before the neutral point is reached, the excitation fades
away in a gentle curve and is in1n1ediately replaced by a pleasant
physical and psychic relaxation. Usually, there is also a strong desire
to sleep. The sensual relations are extinguished, but a "satiated"
tender attitude to the partner continues, to which is added the
feeling of gratitude.
In contrast to this, the orgastically impotent person experiences
a leaden exhaustion, disgust, repulsion, weariness, or indifference
and, occasionally, hatred toward the partner. In the case of satyria-
sis and nymphomania, the sexual excitation does not subside. In-
somnia is one of the essential characteristics of lack of gratification.
It cannot be automatically concluded, ho\vcvcr, that a person has
experienced gratification when he falls asleep immediately following
the sexual act.
If we reexamine the two phases of the sexual act, we see that
the first phase is characterized essentially by the sensory experience
of pleasure, while the second phase is characterized by the motor
experience of pleasure.
Involuntary bio-energetic convulsion of the organism and the
con1plete resolution of the excitation are the most important charac-
teristics of orgastic potency. The shaded part of the diagram repre-
sents the involuntary vegetative relaxation. There are partial
resolutions of the excitation which are similar to the orgastic resolu-
tion. They have until now been looked upon as the actual release.
Clinical experience sho\VS that, as a result of universal sexual sup-
pression, n1en and women have lost the ability to experience the
final vegetatively involuntary surrender. It is precisely this previ-
ously unrecognized phase of final excitation and resolution of
tension that I have in mind when I speak of "orgastic potency." It
constitutes the primal and basic biological function \Vhich man has
in con1mon \vith all living organisn1s. All experiencing of nature is
derived fron1 this function or from the longing for it.
The course of excitation in the \VOman is exactly the same as
The Orgasn~ Theory 35

that of the 1nan. The orgasn1 in both sexes is 1nore intense \vhen the
peaks of genital excitation coincide. This is very frequently the ~se
among men and \VOn1en \\ho arc capable of concentrating affectibn
and sensuality on one p~utner \vho reciprocates this affection and
sensuality. It is the rule \vhen the love relationship is disturbed
bv neither internal nor external factors. In such cases, at least con-

scious fantasy activity is coinplctcly suspended; the ego absorbs and

is fully focused on the sensations of pleasure. The ability to focus
the entire affective personality upon the orgastic experience, in spite
of any contradictions, is another characteristic of orgastic potency.
It cannot be easily deter1nined \vhether unconscious fantasy
activity is also at rest. Certain factors \Vould indicate that it is.
Fantasies \vhich arc not allo\ved to becon1c conscious can onl, .
detract fron1 the experience. It is necessary to distinguish t\VO
groups of fantasies \vhich could acco1npany the sexual act, those
\Vhich are in har1nony \vith the sexual experience and those \vhich
are at variance \Vith it. If the partner is capable of attracting all
sexual interests to herself or hirnself at least mo1nentarilv, then the

unconscious fantasies are also superfluous. In tem1s of their very

nature, these fantasies are opposed to the real experience, for one
fantasizes only \vhat one cannot have in reality. There is a genuine
transference fron1 the prilnal object to the partner. It is possible for
the partner to replace the object of the fantasy because of the
identitv bet\veen their basic characteristics. If, ho\vever, the trans-

ference of sexual interests takes place solely on the basis of a

neurotic desire for the prin1al object~ \Vithout the inner ability for
genuine transference and in spite of the fact that there is no identity
behvcen the partner and the fantasized object, then no illusion can
dro\vn out the vague feeling of artificiality in the relationship. In the
for1ner instance, coitus is not follo\ved by disappointment. In the
latter, disappointment is inevitable, and \Ve can assume that the
fantasy activity during the act did not cease: it served, rather, to
maintain the illusion. In the forrner, one loses interest in the original
object and, consequently, its fantasy-generating force is also lost.
The original object is regenerated by the partner. In a genuine
transference, there is no glorification of the sexual partner; the

characteristics \vhich are at variance with the primal object are cor-
rectly assessed and tolerated. In an artificial transference, the sexual
partner is inordinately idealized and the relationship is full of illu-
sions. The negative characteristics are not recognized, and fantasy
activity 1nust be continued, otherwise the illusion is lost.
The more intensively the fantasy has to work to make the
partner approximate the ideal, the more the sexual pleasure loses in

Tension Relaxation

1. Sex-economic energy process.

Stasis, ,~
,, _

'', ,' ,'~,,, ;

~;; t
t Inhibition

2. Inhibition. Disturbed sex-economy (stasis).
The Orgasrn Theory 37

the way of intensity and sex-econon1ic value. It depends entirely

upon the nature of the disagreements that occur in every extended
relationship \vhether and to \vhat extent they reduce the intensity of
the sexual experience. The reduction tends to becorne a pathological
disturbance much sooner when there is a strong fixation on the
primal object and an inability to achieve a genuine transference;
when, moreover, a great deal of energy is required to overcome
those characteristics in the partner which are at variance with the
primal object.


Since rny first clinical observations in 1920, I had carefully
singled out and noted genital disturbances in the patients whom I
treated at the clinic. Over the course of t\vo years, I had collected

sufficient material to permit n1e to make this formulation: the dis-

turbance of genitality is not, as \Vas previously believed, one symp-
tom among others. It is the syrnptom of the neurosis. Little by little,
all the evidence pointed to one conclusion: psychic illness is not
only a result of a sexual disturbance in the broad Freudian sense of
the word; even more concretely, it is the result of the disturbance of
the genital function, in the strict sense of orgastic impotence.
If I had redefined sexuality to mean solely genital sexuality, I
would have relapsed to the pre-Freudian, erroneous conception of
sexuality. Sexual \vould be only \vhat is genital. By amplifying the
concept of genital function with the concept of orgastic potency and
defining it in terms of energy, I added a ne\v din1ension to the
psychoanalytic theory of sexuality and libido within its original
framework. The argu1nents in support of this were as follows:
1. If every psychic illness has a core of damn1ed-up sexual
excitation, it can be caused only by the disturbance of the capacity
for orgastic gratification. Hence, impotence and frigidity are the key
to the understanding of the economy of neuroses.
2. The energy source of the neurosis is created by the differ-
ence between the accumulation and discharge of sexual energy. The
ungratified sexual excitation \Vhich is always present in the neurotic

psychic apparatus distinguishes it fron1 the healthy psychic appa-

ratus. This holds true not only for the stasis neuroses (in Freudian
tertninology, actual neuroses) but for all psychic illnesses, \vith or
\Vithout symptom forn1ation.
3. Ji_,reud's therapeutic formula for neuroses, though correct, is
incomplete. The prhnary prerequisite of therapy is to make the
patient conscious of his or her repressed sexuality. This alone does
not cure, i.e., it can but it does not of necessity do so. Making the
patient conscious of his or her repressed sexual iinpulses guarantees
cure \vhen this also eliminates the energy source of the neurosis, i.e.,
the sexual stasis. In other \Vords, this kind of therapy brings about a
cure when the consciousness of the instinctual demands also re-
stores the capacity for full orgastic gratification. In this \vay, the
pathological proliferations are deprived of the source of their energy
(principle of energy withdratcal).
4. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the highest and most
iinportant goal of causal analytic therapy is the establish1nent of
orgastic potency, the ability to discharge accumulated sexual energy.
5. Sexual excitation is a somatic process. The conflicts of the
neurosis are of a psychic nature. \Vhat happens is that a n1inor
conflict, in itself norn1al, causes a slight disturbance in the balance
of sexual energy. This 1ninor stasis intensifies the conflict, and the
conflict in turn increases the stasis. Thus, the psychic conflict and
the stasis of so1natic excitation n1utually augn1cnt one another. The
central psychic conflict is the sexual relationship het\veen child and
parent. It is present in every neurosis. It is the historical storehouse
of experience fron1 \vhich the content of the neurosis is nourished.
All neurotic fantasies can be traced back to the child's early sexual
relationship to the parents. Ho\vever, if it \Vere not continually
nourished by the contetnporary stasis of excitation \vhich it initially
produced, the child-parent conflict could not by itself cause a
pennanent disturbance of the psychic equilibriun1. Hence, the stasis
of excitation is the ever-present contemporary factor of the illness; it
does not add to the content of the neurosis but supplies it \Vith
energy. The pathological incestuous ties to parents and brothers and
sisters lose their force \vhen the conten1porary energy stasis is eliini-
The Orgasnt Theory 39

nated, i.e., \vhen full orgastic gratification is experienced in the

actual present. Hence, tchether the Oedipus conflict becon~es ]Jatho-
logical or not depends upon the degree to tvhich the sexual energy
is discharged. In short, actual neurosis and psychoneurosis over-
lap: they cannot be conceived as separate types of neuroses.

Psychoneurosis having
a stasis-neurotic core

Incest (d)
fantasy Energy of the
psychoneurosis Psychoneurotic
inhibition of

Parental +-(a) inhibition of
fixation genitality

a. Socially induced sexual inhibition ( 0 )

b. Stasis results in fixation on parents (historical content 0)
c. Incest fantasy
d. Energy source of the neurosis
e. Neurosis maintains the stasis (contemporary stasis of energy)

Diagram depicting the relation bet\veen the content of

childhood experience and sexual stasis

6. The dynan1ics of pregenital sexuality (oral, anal, muscular,

etc.) arc fundamentally different fron1 the dynan1ics of genital
sexuality. If non-genital sexual activities are retained, the genital
function beco1nes disturbed. This disturbance incites pregenital fan-
tasies and actions. The pregenital sexual fantasies and activities
which \Ve find in neuroses and perversions are not only the cause of
the genital disturbance but, at least as n1uch, the result of this
disturbance. These insights and observations constitute the ground-

\Vork of the distinction I 1nade in 1936 bet\veen natural and

secondary drives. vVith reference to the theory of instinct and the
theory of culture, the n1ost decisive forn1ula \vas: the general sexual
disturbance is a result of genital disturbance, i.e., orgastic impo-
tence. \Vhat I understood by genital sexuality \vas a function that
\Vas unkno\vn and did not conforn1 to the usual ideas about man's
sexual activities. "Genital" in the sex-econotnic sense of the \VOrd
and ''genital" in the usual sense of the \Vord do not n1ean the same
thing, any n1ore than sexual" and "genital" Inean the sa1ne thing.
7. :\foreover, a question of the theory of neurosis which har-
assed Freud in the follo\ving years \Vas solved in a silnple \vay.
Psychic illnesses represent qualities only. Nonetheless, they al\vays
appear to be dependent upon so-called quantitative factors, upon
the strength and force, the energy cathexis, of the psychic experi-
ences and actions. At a meeting of the inner circle of analysts, Freud
once exhorted us to be cautious. \Ve had, he said, to be prepared to
expect dangerous challenges to the psychic therapy of the neurosis
by a future organotherapy. There \Vas no \vay of kno\ving what it
\VOttld be like, but one could already hear its exponents knocking at
the door. Psychoanalysis must one day be established on an organic
basis. This \Vas a genuine Freudian intuition! \Vhen Freud said this,
I understood that the solution of the quantity problem of the neu-
rosis presupposed the solution of the probletn of organotherapy.
Access to the latter could be provided only by the understanding
and handling of the physiological sexual stasis. I had already begun
to \Vork along these lines. Indeed, the first significant breakthrough
had been achieved five years before: the advancetnent from charac-
ter analysis to the formulation of the fundamental principles of the
technique of the vegetotherapy of the neurosis. The interin1 \Vas
taken up \vith fifteen years of hard 'vork and difficult struggles.
In the years 1922 to 1926, the theory of the orgasm \Vas formu-
lated and substantiated piece by piece, follo\ved by the development
of the technique of character analysis. Every subsequent experience,
success as \veil as failure, confinned this theory, \vhich had devel-
oped by itself on the basis of those first decisive observations. For
tny \Vork, the problen1s loorncd up rapidly and clearly.
The Orgas1n Theory 41

Clinical \Vork led in one direction to the present level of experi-

mental \VOrk in the field of sex-cconon1y. A second direction pro-
ceeded frotn the question: \vhat is the source and \vhat is the
function of the social suppression of sexuality?
~Iuch later, fron1 1933 on~ a biological offshoot of sex-economy
developed fron1 the first cotnplex of pro blen1s: bion research, sex-
economic cancer research, and the investigation of the phenotnena
of orgone radiation. Son1e seven years later, the second con1plex of
problen1s split up into actual sexual sociology on the one hand and
political psychology on the other. 0 The orgastn theory has deter-
mined the psychological, psychotherapeutic, physio biological, and
sociological sectors of sex-econotny. I do not clairn that the frame-
\Vork of sex-econotny could replace these specialized fields. But it
does claim today to be a unitary natural-scientific theory of sex, on
the basis of 'vhich it \viii be possible to resuscitate and fecundate all
aspects of human life. This in1poses upon us the obligation of giving
a thorough presentation of its fraine,vork in all related fields. Since
the life process and the sexual process are one and the same, it goes
\Vithout saying that sexual, vegetative energy is active in everything
that lives. This state1nent is very dangerous precisely because it is
siinple and absolutely correct. T'o apply it correctly, care n1ust be
taken to prevent it fron1 becotning a platih1de or from deteriorating
into a svste1n. Follo,vers tend to 1nakc n1atters easv for thetnselves.
J ~

They take over arduously \Vorked-out material and operate \vith it

in the 1nost co1nfortable \vay possible. They n1ake no effort to find
ne\v applications for all the subtleties of the n1ethod. They become
torpid and the co1nplcx of problen1s ceases to be a challenge. I hope
that I shall succeed in saving scx-econon1y from this fate.
Cf. Reich, The Sexual Revolution ( 1969 ), The Invasion of Compulsory
Sex-?\! orality ( 1971), and The "Jlass Psychology of Fascisn1 ( 1970), all Farrar,
Straus and Giroux.
Ill. Therapy



Our therapeutic n1ethod is contingent upon the following basic

theoretical concepts. The topographical point of vie\v determines
the principle of technique to the effect that the unconscious has to
be made conscious. The dyna1nic point of vie\v dictates that this
making conscious of the unconscious must not proceed directly, but
by \vay of resistance analysis. The econo1nic point of vie\v and the
kno\vledge of structure dictate that, in resistance analysis, each
individual case entails a definite plan which n1ust be deduced from
the case itself.
As long as the n1aking conscious of the unconscious, i.e., the
topographical process, \vas regarded as the sole task of analytic tech-
nique, the forn1ula \Vas justified that the patient's unconscious mani-
festations had to be translated into the language of the conscious
in the sequence in v.:hich they appeared. In this process, the dynam-
ics of the analysis \Verc left largely to chance, that is, \Vhether the
act of becon1ing conscious actually released the appropriate affect
and \vhether the interpretation had anything more than an intellec-
tual influence on the patient. The very inclusion of the dynamic
factor, i.e., the den1and that the patient had not only to remember
but also to experience \Vhat he ren1embered, complicated the simple
formula that "the unconscious had to be made conscious." Since the
dynan1ic effect of analysis depends not on the material \Vhich the
patient produces but on the resistances which he brings into play

From Character Analysis, 1972. First presented at the lOth International Psy-
choanalytic Congress, Innsbruck, 1927.


against this material and on the en1otional intensity with which they
are mastered, the task of analysis undergoes no insignificant shift.
vVhereas it is sufficient, fron1 the topographical point of view, to
n1ake the patient conscious of the clearest and most easily interpret-
able elements of the unconscious in the sequence in which they
appear, in other words, to adhere to the pattern of the contents of
the material, it is necessary, when the dynamic factor is taken into
consideration, to relinquish this plan as a means of orientation in the
analysis. Instead, another rnust be adopted, \Vhich ernbraces both
the content of the material and the affect, namely the pattern of
successive resistances. In pursuing this plan, however, a difficulty
arises in most cases, a difficulty vvhich \Ve have not considered in the
foregoing presentation.


The inability to follotv the basic rule

Our patients are seldom capable of analysis at the outset. Only

a very srnall nurnber of patients are prepared to follo\v the basic
rule and to open themselves cornpletely to the analyst. First of all, it
is not easy for the patient to have irnrnediate trust in the analyst, if
only because he is a stranger. Added to this, however, is the fact
that years of illness, the unrelenting influence of a neurotic milieu,
bad experiences with mental specialists-in short, the entire secon-
dary fragrnentation of the ego-have created a situation that is
adverse to the analysis. The elimination of this difficulty becomes a
precondition of the analysis, and it could be accon1plished easily
if it \Vere not complicated by the character structure of the pa-
tient, \vhich is itself a part of the neurosis and has developed on
a neurotic basis. It is kno\vn as the "narcissistic barrier.'' Funda-
mentally, there are hvo ways of getting at these difficulties, espe-
cially at the difficulty entailed by the resistance to the basic rule.
The first way, and the one usually pursued, I believe, is to prepare
the patient for analysis through instruction, reassurance, challenge,
Therapy 45

exhortation, persuasion, and 1nore of the same. In this case, by

establishing a kind of positive transference, the analyst seeks to
convince the patient of the necessity of being open and honest in
the analysis. This roughly corresponds to the technique suggested
by Nunberg. Vast experience has taught us, ho\vever, that this
pedagogic or active approach is highly uncertain, is dependent upon
uncontrollable contingencies, and lacks the secure basis of analytic
clarity. The analyst is constantly at the mercy of the oscillations of
the transference and treads on uncertain terrain in his efforts to
make the patient capable of analysis.
The second method is n1ore complicated, and not yet feasible
for all patients. It is a far more secure approach. Here the attempt is
made to replace the instructional n1easures by analytic interpreta-
tions. There is no question that this is not ai,vays possible, yet it
remains the ideal goal toward which analysis strives. Instead of
inducing the patient to enter into the analysis by persuasion, sug-
gestion, transference maneuvers, etc., the analyst takes a more
passive attitude and attempts to get an insight into the contempo-
rary meaning of the patient's behavior, why he or she doubts,
arrives late, speaks in a ranting or confused manner, communicates
only every third idea or so, criticizes the analysis, or produces deep
material, often in uncommon amounts. In other words, the analyst
can do one of two things: ( 1) atte1npt to persuade a narcissistic
patient who speaks in grandiloquent technical terminology that his
behavior is detrimental to the analysis and that he \vould do better
to rid himself of analytic terminology and to con1e out of his shell;
or ( 2) dispense \vith any kind of persuasion and wait until he
understands why the patient behaves as he does. It may turn out,
for instance, that the patient's ostentatious behavior is an attempt to
cover up a feeling of inferiority toward the analyst. In this case, the
analyst will endeavor to influence him through a consistent interpre-
tation of the meaning of his actions. In contrast to the first, this
second approach is entirely in keeping with the principles of anal-
From this endeavor to use purely analytic interpretations wher-
ever possible in place of all the instructional or otherwise active

n1easures \vhich becon1e necessary as a result of the patient's

characteristics, a method of analyzing the character emerged in an
unsought and unexpected \Vay.
Certain clinical considerations n1ake it necessary for us to
designate as "character resistances" a special group of the resis-
tances that \Ve encounter in the treatn1ent of our patients. These
derive their special character not front their content but from the
specific 1nannerisrns of tlze person analyzed. The compulsive charac-
ter develops resistances whose forn1 is specifically different fron1
that of the hysterical character, the form of \vhose resistances, in
turn, is different fron1 that of the genital narcissistic, impulsive, or
neurasthenic character. The form of the ego's reactions, \vhich
differs fron1 character to character even \vhere the contents of the
experiences are the san1e, can be traced back to infantile experiences
in the sarne v.:ay as the content of the syrnptonlS and fantasies.

Where do the character resistances conte front?

Sotne tin1c ago, Glover tnadc an effort to discriminate between
character neuroses and syn1pton1 neuroses. Alexander also operated
on the basis of this distinction. I adhered to it in earlier works, but it
turned out, on closer comparison of the cases, that this distinction
1nakes sense only insofar as there are neuroses \Vith circun1scribed
sytnpton1s ( "syn1pton1 neuroses") and neuroses without then1
("character neuroses"). In the forn1er, understandably, the symp-
ton1s are n1ore conspicuous; in tne latter, the neurotic character
traits stand out. But are there sy1nptoms \Vhich do not have a neu-
rotic reaction basis, \vhich, in other \vords, are not rooted in a
neurotic character? The onlv difference bet\veen character neuroses

and sympton1 neuroses is that, in the case of the latter, the neurotic
character also produces syn1ptorns, has becon1e, so to speak, concen-
trated in them. That the neurotic character is at one time exacer-
bated in circurnscribcd syrnpton1s and at another tin1e finds other
\vays of discharging the libido stasis requires n1ore detailed investi-
gation. But if it is ackno\vleclged that the symptom neurosis is
al,vays rooted in a neurotic character, then it is clear that, in every
Therapy 47

analysis, \Ve are dealing \vith resistances that are n1anifestations of a

neurotic character. The individual analysis \vill differ only \Vith
respect to the irnportance ascribed to the analysis of the character in
13ach case. Ho\vever, a retrospective glance at analytic experiences
cautions us against underesthnating this in1portance in any one
Frorn the point of vie\v of character analysis, the differentiation
behveen neuroses \vhich are chronic, i.e., have existed since child-
hood, and those which are acute, i.e., appeared later, has no in1por-
tance \Vhatever; it is of no great mon1ent whether the syn1pton1s
appear in childhood or later. \;vhat matters is that the neurotic
character, i.e., the reaction basis for the sympton1 neurosis, is
forn1ed, at least in its principal feah1res, by the tirne the Oedipal
stage con1es to a close. We have an1ple clinical experience to sho\v
that the boundary \vhich the patient dra\vs bet\veen health and the
outbreak of sickness ahvays vanishes in the analysis.
Since the syrnptorn forrnation does not hold up as a descriptive
characteristic, \Ve have to look for others. Two \Vhich readily come
to n1ind are illness insight and ratiorwlizations.
A lack of insight into the illness is not, of course, absolutely
reliable but it is certainly an essential indication of character neu-
rosis. The neurotic syn1ptom is sensed as son1ething alien, and it
engenders a feeling of being ill. On the other hand, the neurotic
character trait, e.g., the exaggerated sense of order of the cornpul-
sive character or the anxious shyness of the hysterical character, is
organically incorporated into the personality. One might complain
of being shy, but one does not feel sick for that reason. Not until the
characterological shyness becomes a pathological blushing or until
the cotnpulsive-neurotic sense of order becomes a compulsive cere-
mony, not until, in other \VOrds, the neurotic character exacerbates
syn1pton1atically, does one feel that one is sick.
Naturally, there are symptotns for which no insight, or insuffi-
cient insight, exists. They are regarded by patients as bad habits or
something \Vhich has to be accepted (e.g., chronic constipation,
n1ild ejaculatio praecox). Then there are son1e character traits which
are son1etirnes felt to be pathological, e.g., irrational, violent fits of

anger, gross negligence, a penchant for lying, drinking, splurging,

and other such. Generally, however, an insight into the sickness is
indicative of a neurotic sympton1, \vhereas lack of insight points to a
neurotic character trait.
In practical tern1s, the second important difference consists in
the fact that syn1ptorns never exhibit such complete and credible
rationalizations as neurotic character traits. Neither hysterical
vomiting nor abasia, neither con1pulsive counting nor compulsive
thinking can be rationalized. There is no question about the sense-
lessness of a symptorn, whereas the neurotic character trait has a
sufficiently rational n1otivation so as not to appear pathological or
Furthern1ore, there is a justification for neurotic character traits
which is immediately rejected as absurd when it is applied to symp-
ton1s. We often hear it said: "That's sin1ply the way I am." The
iinplication here is that the person concerned was born that way; he
siinply cannot behave differently-that's his character. However,
this does not tally with the facts, for the analysis of its development
shows that the character had to becon1e \vhat it is, and not some-
thing else, for very specific reasons. Fundamentally, therefore, it is
capable of analysis and of being changed, just like the symptom.
Occasionally, syrnptoms have becorne so ingrained in the per-
sonality that they arc like character traits. An example is compulsive
counting that is wholly absorbed within the framework of one's
need to be orderly, or con1pulsive n1ethodicalness that is fulfilled in
the rigid subdivisions of each day. The latter is especially true of the
compulsion to \Vork. Such n1odes of behavior arc held to be indica-
tive n1ore of eccentricity or excessiveness than of pathology. Hence,
vve see that the concept of illness is highly flexible, that there are
many shades, ranging fron1 the sympton1 as an isolated foreign body
through the neurotic character trait and the '\vicked habit" to
rationally sound behavior. However, in view of the fact that these
shades are not very much help to us, the differentiation bet\veen
symptom and neurotic character trait recomn1ends itself, even inso-
far as rationalizations arc concerned, notvvithstanding the artificial-
ity of all divisions.
Therapy 49

With this reservation, another differentiation occurs to us \Vith

respect to the struch1re of the sympton1 and of the character trait.
In the process of analysis, it is sho\vn that, in terrns of its rneaning
and origin, the symptorn has a very simple structure cornpared with
that of the character trait. True enough, the sympton1 too is indeter-
minate; but the 1nore deeply \Ve penetrate into its reasons, the more
we move away fro1n the actual compass of the syn1ptom and the
more clearly vve perceive its basis in the character. Hence, theoreti-
cally, the reaction basis in the character can be vvorked out from any
syn1ptom. The sympton1 is directly deter111ined by a limited number
of unconscious attitudes; hysterical vomiting, for exa111ple, is based
on a repressed fellatio desire or an oral desire for a child. Each of
them is expressed in the character, the forn1er in a kind of childish-
ness, the latter in a maternal attitude. But the hysterical character,
which determines the hysterical syn1pton1, is based on a multiplicity
of-to a large extent antagonistic-strivings, and is usually expressed
in a specific attitude or 1node of existence. It is not nearly so easy
to analyze the attitude as it is to analyze the symptom; fundamen-
tally, however, the former, like the latter, can be traced back to and
understood on the basis of drives and experiences. Whereas the
syn1ptom corresponds solely to one definite experience or one cir-
cumscribed desire, the character, i.e., the person's specific n1ode of
existence, represents an expression of the person's entire past. So
a symptom can e1nerge quite suddenly, while the development of
each individual character trait requires many years. We n1ust also
bear in n1ind that the syn1pton1 could not have suddenly emerged
unless a neurotic reaction basis already existed in the character.
In the analysis, the neurotic character traits as a vvhole prove to
be a compact defense 1nechanism against our therapeutic efforts,
and when we trace the origin of this character "armor" analytically,
we see that it also has a definite economic function. Such arn1or
serves on the one hand as a defense against external stimuli; on the
other hand it proves to be a means of gaining 1nastery over the
libido, which is continuously pushing forward from the id, because
libidinal and sadistic energy is used up in the neurotic reaction
fo1mations, compensations, etc. Anxiety is continually being bound

in the processes \vhich are at the basis of the formation and pres-
ervation of this arrnor in the same way that, according to Freud's
description, anxiety is bound in the con1pulsive syn1pton1s. We
shall have more to say about the econorny of the character forma-
Since, in its econornic function as defensive armor, the neurotic
character trait has established a certain, albeit neurotic balance,
analysis constitutes a danger to this balance. It is from this narcissis-
tic defense 1nechanisn1 of the ego that the resistances originate
which give the analysis of the individual case its special features. If,
however, a person's mode of behavior represents the result of a total
developrncnt which is capable of analysis and resolution, then it
n1ust also be possible to deduce the technique of character analysis
from that behavior.

On the technique of analyzing the character resistance

In addition to the drean1s, associations, slips, and other com-

munications of the patients, the way in tvhich they recount their
dreams, cornrnit slips, produce associations, and rnake their com-
rnunications, in short their bearing, deserves special attention. 1
Adherence to the basic rule is son1ething rare, and n1any months of
character-analytic work are required to instill in the patient a half-
way sufficient rneasure of candidness. The \vay the patient speaks,
looks at and greets the analyst, lies on the couch, the inflection of
the voice, the degree of conventional politeness which is main-
tained, etc., are valuable cues in assessing the secret resistances with
\vhich the patient counters the basic rule. And once they have been
understood, they can be elirninated through interpretation. It is not
only tchat the patient says but hotv he says it that has to be inter-

1 Footnote, 1945: The fonn of expression is far more important than the
ideational content. Today \Ve use only the form of expression to arrive at the
decisively inlportant experiences of childhood. It is the forn1 of expression and
not the ideational content that leads us to the biological reactions \Vhich lie at
the basis of the psychic n1anifestations.
Therapy 51

preted. Analysts arc often heard to complain that the analysis is not
progressing, that the patient is not producing any "n1atcrial." By
material, \vhat is usually meant is n1erely the content of the associa-
tions and C01nn1unications. But the nature of the patient's silence or
sterile repetitions is also n1aterial 'vhich has to be used fully. There
is scarcely a situation in \vhich the patient docs not produce any
1naterial, and \VC have to lay the blan1e upon ourselves if \Ve can't
make use of the patient's bearing as n1aterial.
There is of course nothing ne\v in the statement that behavior
and the forrn of the cornmunications are of analytic iinportance.
What \Ve are concerned \vith here, ho\vever, is the fact that they
give us access to the analysis of the character in a very definite and
relatively co1nplete \vay. Bad experiences in the analysis of some
neurotic characters have taught us that, at tlze outset of such cases.
the form of the con1n1unications is of greater importance than the
content. \Ve \vant n1erelv to allude to the concealed resistances
produced by the ernotionally paralyzed, by the "good" men and
women, the excessively polite and correct patients; by those pa-
tients, moreover, \vho ahvays give evidence of a deceptive positive
transference or, for that matter, by those \Vho raise a passionate and
monotonous cry for love; those who conceive of analysis as a kind of
ga1ne; the eternally "arn1ored" \vho laugh in their sleeve at anything
and everything. The list could be extended indefinitely. Hence, one
has no illusions about the painstaking \vork vvhich the innumerable
individual problems of technique will entail.
To allo\v \Vhat is essential in character anal ,vsis to stand out
more clearly in contrast to syn1pton1 analysis, and to give a better
idea of our thesis in general, let us consider t\vo pairs of cases. The
first pair consists of hvo men being treated for ejaculatio praecox:
one is a passive-feminine character, the other a phallic-aggressive
character. Two women suffering from an eating disturbance consti-
tute the second pair: one is a con1pulsive character, the other a
Let us further assume that the ejaculatio praecox of the two
male patients has the same unconscious meaning: fear of the
52 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

(paternal) phallus assu1ned to be in the wo1nan' s vagina. On the

basis of the castration anxiety \Vhich lies at the root of the symptom,
both patients produce a negative father transference in the analysis.
They hate the analyst (father) because they perceive in him the
enemy \vho lin1its their pleasure, and each of them has the uncon-
scious desire to dispose of hin1. While the phallic-sadistic character
\viii \Vard off the danger of castration by means of vituperations,
disparage1nents, and threats, the passive-feminine character will
beco1ne 1nore and more confiding, more and more passively de-
voted, and 1nore and more accommodating. In both of them the
character has beco1ne a resistance: the for1ner wards off the danger
aggressively; the latter gets out of its \vay by compromising his
standards, by deceptiveness and devotion.
Naturally, the character resistance of the passive-feminine type
is 1nore dangerous, for he \vorks \vith devious n1eans. He produces
material in abundance, recalls infantile experiences, appears to
adapt himself beautifully-but basically he glosses over a secret
obstinacy and hate. As long as he keeps this up, he \vill not have the
courage to sho\v his true nature. If the analyst does not pay any
attention to his manner and merely enters into what the patient
produces, then, according to experience, no analytic effort or eluci-
dation \viii change his condition. It 1nay even be that the patient
\Vill recall his hatred of his father, but he \viii not experience it
unless the meaning of his deceptive behavior is consistently pointed
out to hin1 in the transference, before a deep interpretation of the
father hatred is begun.
In the case of the second pair, let us assume that an acute
positive transference has developed. In both women, the main
content of this positive transference is the same as that of the syrup-
tom, namely an oral fellatio fantasy. Ho\vever, the transference
resistance ensuing from this positive transference will be wholly
different in form. The \Voman suffering from hysteria, for example,
will be apprehensively silent and behave timidly; the \Voman having
a compulsive neurosis \viii be obstinately silent or behave in a cold,
haughty \vay to\vard the analyst. The transference resistance ern-
Therapy 53

ploys various means in \Varding off the positive transference: in the

one instance, aggression; in the other, anxiety. vVe \VOttld say that in
both cases the id conveyed the same wish, \Vhich the ego warded off
differently. And the forn1 of this defense \viii al,vays remain the
same in both patients; the \VOman suffering from hysteria will
always defend herself in a \vay expressive of anxiety, \vhile the
woman suffering fro1n a co1npulsive neurosis will always defend
herself aggressively, no matter \vhat unconscious content is on the
verge of breaking through. In other \vords, the character resistance
altvays remains the sa1ne in the same patient and disappears only
tvhen the neurosis has been uprooted.
The character armor is the n1olded expression of narcissistic
defense chronically embedded in the psychic structure. In addition
to the kno\vn resistances \Vhich are 1nobilized against each new
piece of unconscious material, there is a constant resistance factor
which has its roots in the unconscious and pertains not to content
but to form. Because of its origin in the character, we call this
constant resistance factor "character resistance."
On the basis of the foregoing statements, let us sumn1arize the
most important features of character resistance.
Character resistance is expressed not in terms of content but
formally, in the \vay one typically behaves, in the 1nanner in \Vhich
one speaks, walks, and gestures; and in one's characteristic habits
(how one s1niles or sneers, \vhether one speaks coherently or inco-
herently, how one is polite and how one is aggressive).
It is not \vhat the patient says and does that is indicative of
character resistance, but how he speaks and acts; not \vhat he re-
veals in drean1s, but how he censors, distorts, condenses, etc.
The character resistance remains the same in the satne patient,
regardless of content. Different characters produce the san1e n1ate-
rial in a different \vay. The positive father transference of a woman
suffering fron1 hysteria is expressed and \varded off different! y than
that of a \VOman suffering from a con1pulsive neurosis. Anxiety is
the defense n1echanism in the former; aggression in the latter.
The character resistance \Vhich is manifested in terms of form is
54 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

just as capable of being resolved, \Vith respect to its content, and of

being traced back to infantile experiences and instinctual interests
as the neurotic sy1npto1n is.:!
In given situations, the patient's character becomes a resistance.
In everyday life, in other \vords, the character plays a role similar to
the one it plays as a resistance in the treatn1ent: that of a psychic
defense apparatus. l-Ienee, \VC speak of the "character armoring" of
the ego against the outer \Vorld and the id.
If \VC trace the for1nation of the character into earlv childhood,

\Ve find that, at one tiinc, the character arn1or developed for the
san1e reasons and for the sa1ne purposes the character resistance
serYes in the contetnporary analytic situation. The resistive projec-
tion of the character in the analysis 1nirrors its infantile genesis. And
those situations \vhlch seen1 to appear by chance but actually are
brought about by the character resistance in the analysis are exact
duplicates of those childhood situations \vhich caused the formation
of the character. Thus, in the character resistance, the function of
defense is con1bined \vith the projection of infantile relationships to
the outer \vorld.
Econonzically, the character in everyday life and the character
resistance in the analysis serve as a n1eans of avoiding \Vhat is
unpleasant ( U nlust), of establishing and preserving a psychic
(even if neurotic) balan~e, and finally of consu1ning repressed
quantities of instinctual energy and/ or quantities which have
eluded repression. The binding of free-floating anxiety or-\vhat
arnounts to the same thing-the absorbing of dammed-up psychic
energy, is one of the cardinal functions of the character. Just as the
historical, i.e., the infantile, ele1nent is en1bodied and continues to
live and operate in the neurotic syn1pton1, so too it lives and oper-
ates and is embodied in the character. This explains \vhy the
consistent loosening of the character resistance provides a sure and
direct approach to the central infantile conflict.
Ho\v do these facts bear upon the analytic technique of charac-
2 In light of this clinical experience, the elen1cnt of fom1 has been in-
corporated into the sphere of psychoanalysis, \vhich, until no\v, has focused
predmninantly on content.
Therapy 55

ter analysis? Is there an essential difference behveen character

analysis and the usual resistance analysis?
There are differences and they relate to:
a. The sequence in \Vhich the n1aterial is to be interpreted.
b. The technique of resistance interpretation itself.
vVith respect to (a): In speaking of "selection of rnaterial,>' \Ve
shall have to be prepared to encounter an in1portant objection. It
\viii be said that any selection is in contradiction to the basic prin-
ciple of psychoanalysis, nan1ely that the analyst must follo\v the
patient, n1ust allo\v hiinself to be led by him. Every ti tnc the analyst
makes a selection, he runs the risk of falling prey to his O\Vn inclina-
tions. First of all, \Ve have to point out that, in the kind of selection
\Ve are speaking of here, it is not a rnatter of neglecting analytic
material. The \vhole point here is to insure that the material is
interpreted in a legitinwte sequence, in keeping \Vith the structure
of the neurosis. AJlrnaterial is in turn interpreted; it is only that one
detail is mon1entarily n1ore ilnportant than another. \Ve also have to
realize that the analyst ahvays selects anyho\v, for in the very act of
singling out individual details of a dream instead of interpreting
then1 successively, he has n1ade a selection. And as far as that goes,
the analyst has also n1ade a biased selection \Vhen he considers only
the content and not the form of the con1n1unications. Hence, the
very fact that the patient produces rnaterial of the rnost diverse
kinds in the analvtic situation forces the analvst to n1ake selections
~ ~

in interpreting this n1aterial. It is merely a question of selecting

correctly, i.e., in keeping \vith the analytic situation.
With patients \Vho, because of a particular character develop-
ment, repeatedly disregard the fundan1ental rule, as \Vell as \Vith all
cases in which the character is obstructing the analysis, it \viii be
necessary to single out the germane character resistance froln the
welter of nwterial and to work it through analytically by interpret-
ing its 1neaning. Naturally, this does not rnean that the rest of the
material is neglected or disregarded. On the contrary, everything is
valuable and \velcorne \vhich gives us an insight into the n1eaning
and origin of the recalcitrant character trait. The analyst rnerely
puts off the analysis, and, above all, the interpretation of the rnate-
56 \V I L H E L M R E I CH

rial \vhich does not have an immediate bearing upon the transfer-
ence resistance, until the character resistance has been understood
and broken through, at least in its basic features. Else\vhere, I
have tried to point out the dangers of giving deep interpretations
before the character resistances have been resolved.
With respect to (h) : N O\V we hlrn our attention to some
special problems of the technique of character analysis. First, we
tnust anticipate a likely tnisunderstanding. \Ve stated that character
analysis begins \vith the singling out and consistent analysis of the
character resistance. This does not n1ean that the patient is enjoined
not to be aggressive, not to be deceptive, not to speak in an inco-
herent manner, to follo\v the basic rule, etc. Such demands \vould
not only be contrary to analytic procedure, they \vould be fruitless.
It cannot be sufficiently stressed that \vhat \Ve are describing here
has nothing \vhatever to do \vith the so-called education of the
patient and sitnilar matters. In character analysis, \Ve ask ourselves
why the patient is deceptive, speaks in an incoherent manner, is
en1otionallv blocked, etc.; \Ve endeavor to arouse his interest in the

peculiarities of his character in order to elucidate, with his help,

their n1eaning and origin through analysis. In other \vords, \Ve
merely single out from the orbit of the personality the character trait
from \vhich the cardinal resistance proceeds, and, if possible, \Ve
show the patient the surface relation bet\veen the character and the
sympton1s. But for the rest, \Ve leave it up to him whether or not he
\vants to n1ake use of his kno\vledge to change his character.
Fundan1entally, our procedure in this is no different from the one
follo\ved in the analysis of a symptom; the one exception is that, in
character analysis, \ve have to isolate the character trait and put it
before the patient again and again until he has succeeded in break-
ing clear of it and in vie\ving it as he \vould a vexatious compulsive
symptom. In breaking clear of and objectifying the neurotic charac-
ter trait, the patient begins to experience it as something alien to
himself, and ultimately gains an insight into its nature.
In this process, it becomes apparent, surprisingly, that the
personality changes-at least temporarily. And as the character
Therapy 57

analysis progresses, that iinpetus or disposition \vhich gave 1ise to the

character resistance in the transference auton1atically con1es to
the surface in an unconcealed forn1. Applying this to our exan1ple
of the passive-fetninine character, \Ve can say that the n1ore thor-
oughly the patient objectifies his inclinations to passive devotion, the
n1ore aggressive he \viii becon1e. For, of course, his fcn1inine, decep-
tive behavior \vas, in the n1ain, an energetic reaction against repressed
aggressive in1pulscs. Hand in hand \vith the aggressiveness, how-
ever, the infantile castration anxiety also reappears \Vhich, at one
tin1e, caused the aggression to be transforn1ed into a passive-
fenlinine attitude. Thus, through the analysis of the character resis-
tance, \Ve arrive at the center of the neurosis, the Oedipus con1plex.
Let there be no illusions, ho,vever: the isolation and objectifica-
tion as \veil as the analytic \Vorking through of such a character
resistance usually take n1any n1onths, dcn1and great effort and, most
of all, steadfast patience. Once the breakthrough has been achieved,
the analytic \Vork usually proceeds by leaps and bounds, borne by
affective analyvc experiences. If, on the other hand, such character
resistances are left untended; if the analyst n1erely follows the
patient, continually interpreting the content of his material, such
resistances \viii, as thne goes on, form a ballast that \vill be ahnost
impossible to ren1ove. When this happens, the analyst begins to feel
in his bones that all his interpretations of content \vere wasted, that
the patient continues to doubt everything, to accept it merely pro
for1na, or to laugh in his sleeve at everything. In later stages of the
analysis, after the essential interpretations of the Oedipus complex
have alreadv been riven, the analvst \viii find hin1self embroiled in a
~ ~ ~

hopeless situation, if he has neglected to clear a\vay these resis-

tances right fron1 the beginning.
I have already tried to refute the objection that resistances
cannot be taken up until their infantile detern1inants are kno\vn. In
the beginning of the treatment, it is n1erely necessary for the analyst
to discern the conten1porary n1eaning of the character resistance, for
\Vhich purpose the infantile n1aterial is not always required. This
material \Ve need for the dissolution of the resistance. If, at the
58 \ V I L H E L 1\1 R E I C H

beginning, the analyst contents hiinself \Vith putting the resistance

before the patient and interpreting its contemporary 1neaning, it is
not long before the infantile n1aterial crnerges and, \Vith its help, the
resistance can then be eliminated.
When stress is laid upon a previously neglected fact, the
impression is un,vi ttingly created that other facts are being de-
prived of their importance. If in this \Vork \Ve lay such strong
emphasis on the analysis of the ntode of reaction, this does not
mean that \VC neglect the content. \Ve merely add something which
had not been properly appreciated before this. Our experience
teaches us that the analysis of the character resistance must be
given absolute precedence; but this does not mean that the analysis
is confined solely to character resistance until a certain date, \vhen
the analyst then takes up the interpretation of content. To a large
extent, the hvo phases, resistance analysis and analysis of the early
infantile experiences, overlap one another. It is n1crely that the
analysis of the character is given priority at the beginning of the
treatn1ent ( c'prcparing the analysis through analysis")' while the
main accent in the later stages falls upon the interpretation of
content and infantile experiences. This, ho,vever, is not a rigid rule;
its application \viii depend upon the behavior pattern of the indi-
vidual patient. The interpretation of infantile material will be taken
up early \Vith one patient, later \Vith another. There is one rule,
ho,vever, \Vhich 1nust be strictly adhered to, namely that deep
analytic interpretations have to be avoided, even in the case of fairly
clear n1a terial, until the patient is prepared to assimilate them. This
is of course nothing ne\v. Yet, in vie\v of the many different \vays in
\Vhich analysts \Vork, it is obviously hnportant to know what is
meant by ''prepared for analytic interpretation." In deciding this, we
shall doubtless have to differentiate those contents \vhich pertain
directly to the character resistance and those \Vhich pertain to other
spheres of experience. Norrnally, in the beginning of analysis, the
analysand is prepared to take cognizance of the former but not of
the latter. On the \Vhole, the 1nain idea behind character analysis is
to gain the greatest possible security both in the preparatory work
of the analysis and in the interpretation of infantile n1aterial. At this
Therapy 59

point, we are confronted \Vith the in1portant task of investigating

and systematically describing the various forms of character trans-
ference resistances. The technique of dealing \vith them will e1ncrge
of itself fron1 their structure.

Technique of interpreting ego defense

We no\v turn to the pro blen1 of the character-analytic tech-
nique of dealing with individual situations, and how this technique
is derived fron1 the structure of the character resistance. To illus-
trate this, we shall take a patient \vho develops resistances right at
the outset, the structure of \vhich, ho,vever, is far fron1 i1nmediately
clear. In the follo\ving case, the character resistance had a very
con1plicated structure; there \Vere n1any detern1ining factors, inter-
mingled \vith one another. An atte1npt \vill be made to set forth the
reasons which induced n1e to begin 1ny interpretation precise! y \Vith
one particular element of the resistance. Here, too, it will become
apparent that a consistent and logical interpretation of the ego
defense and of the n1echanis1n of the ''arn1or'' leads into the very
heart of the central infantile conflicts.


A thirty-year-old n1an turned to analysis because he "didn't

really enjoy life." He could not really say whether or not he felt sick.
Actually, he didn't think that he \Vas really in need of treatment.
Yet he felt that he should do whatever he could. He had heard of
psychoanalysis-perhaps it could help hiin gain insight into himself.
He was not aware of having any symptoms. It turned out that his
potency was very \Veak; he seldo1n engaged in sexual intercourse,
approached \vomen only \Vith great reluctance, did not derive any
gratification fron1 coitus, and, n1oreover, suffered fro1n ejaculatio
praecox. He had very little insight into his impotence. He had-so
he said-reconciled hhnself to his n1eager potency; there were so
many n1en who "didn't need it."

His demeanor and behavior betrayed at a glance that he was a

severely inhibited and oppressed man. He didn't look into one's
eyes while speaking, spoke softly, in a muffied way, with many
hesitations and embarrassed clearings of the throat. In all this, how-
ever, one detected that he was making a strenuous effort to suppress
his shyness and to appear bold. Nonetheless, his nature bore all the
earn1arks of severe feelings of inferiority.
Familiarized with the basic rule, the patient began to speak
softly and hesitatingly. The first cotnmunications included the recol-
lection of two "horrible" experiences. While driving a car, he had
once run over a \Voman, \vho had died fro1n the effects of the
accident. Another time he had gotten into a situation where he had
to perforn1 a tracheotomy on a person who was suffocating (the
patient had been a medical orderly in the war). He could think of
these two experiences only with horror. During the first sessions, he
spoke about his home in an unvaried, somewhat monotonous, soft,
and muffied way. As the second youngest of several brothers and
sisters, he had a second-rate position in the household. The oldest
brother, some twenty years his senior, was the darling of the
parents. He had traveled a great deal and he knew his way around
"in the world." At home he vaunted his experiences, and when he
returned from a trip, ''the entire household revolved around him."
Though the envy and hatred of his brother were clearly evident
from the content of the communication, the patient vehemently
denied having any such feelings when I made a cautious inquiry in
this direction. He had, he said, never felt any such thing against his
Then he talked about his mother, who had been very good to
him and who had died when he was seven years old. While speak-
ing about her, he began to cry softly, was ashamed of his tears, and
didn't say anything for a long time. It seemed clear that the mother
had bt:en the only person who had given him a bit of attention and
love, that her demise had been a severe shock to him, and he could
not hold back his tears in remembering her. After the death of his
mother, he had spent five years in the house of his brother. It was
not from what he said but from the way he said it that his enormous
Therapy 61

animosity toward the dotnineering, cold, and unfriendly nature

of his brother became evident.
Then, in short, not very pregnant sentences, he related that he
had a friend nO\V \vho very much loved and admired him. Follo\v-
ing this com1nunication, there was a prolonged silence. A fe\v days
later he reported a drean1: he sa tv himself in a strange city with his
friend, except that the face of his friend tvas different. Since, for the
purpose of the analysis, the patient had left the town in \vhich he
had been living, it was reasonable to assume that the man in the
dream represented the analyst. The fact that the patient identified
him with his friend could be interpreted as an indication of an
incipient positive transference; but the situation as a \Vhole mili-
tated against conceiving of this as a positive transference, and even
against its interpretation. The patient himself recognized the analyst
in the friend but had nothing to add to this. Since he was either
silent or monotonously expressing doubts about his ability to carry
out the analysis, I told him that he had son1ething against me but
lacked the courage to articulate it. He vehemently denied this,
whereupon I told him that he had also never dared to express his
hostile emotions toward his older brother, indeed had not even
dared to think of thetn consciously. I also pointed out that he had
obviously established some kind of connection between me and his
older brother. This was true, but I committed the error of interpret-
ing his resistance too deeply. The interpretation did not achieve its
purpose, so I waited a few days, observing his demeanor the while,
to see what relevance the resistance had for the contemporary situa-
tion. This n1uch \Vas clear to me: in addition to the transference of
the hatred of the brother, there \Vas a strong defense against a
fe1ninine attitude (the dream about the friend). Naturally, I
couldn't risk an interpretation in this direction. So I continued to
point out that, for one reason or another, he was fighting shy of me
and the analysis. I told hitn that his whole n1anner \Vas indicative of
a block against the analysis. He agreed \vith this and went on to say
that this had always been his \vay in life-rigid, inaccessible,
defensive. While I constantly and consistently, in every session and
at every opportunity, called his attention to his recalcitrance, I \Vas
62 '\V I L H E L M R E I C H

struck by the 1nonotonous tone in which he expressed his con1-

plaints. Every session began \Vith the san1e ren1arks: ''What's this al1
leading to, I don't feel a thing, the analysis has no influence on me,
\viii I be able to go through \Vith it, I can't, nothing comes to mind,
the analysis has no influence on me," and so on. I couldn't under-
stand \Vhat he was trying to express. And yet it \Vas clear that here
lay the key to the understanding of his resistance. 3
This offers us a good opportunity to study the difference
bet\veen the character-analytic and the active-suggestive prepara-
tion of the patient for analysis. I could have urged the patient in a
nice way and endeavored to exercise a kind of comforting influence
to get hiin to produce additional con1n1unications. It is even pos-
sible that, by so doing, I might have brought about an artificial
positive transference; but experiences \Vith other cases had taught
me that one does not get very far \vith this approach. Since his
entire den1eanor left no room for doubt that he opposed the analysis
in general and n1e in particular, there \vas no reason why I should
not continue in this interpretation and \Vait for further reactions.
One time, \vhen \VC returned to the drean1, he said the best proof
that he did not reject 1ne \Vas the fact that he identified me with his
friend. I took this opportunity to suggest that perhaps he had ex-
pected n1e to have the san1c liking and admiration for him that his
friend had, that he had been disappointed, and no\v very much
resented my reserve. He had to adrnit that he had harbored such
thoughts but had not had the courage to tell me. Subsequently he
told 1ne that he had al\vays 1nerely den1anded love and especially
recognition and that he had always behaved very defensively,
especially to\vard n1anly-looking n1en. He felt that he \Vas not on a
par \vith them, and in his relationship \Vith his friend he played the
feminine role. Again he offered me 1naterial toward the interpreta-
3 Footnote, 1945: \Vhile this explanation is psychologically correct, it is
not the \vhole story. \Ve understand no\v that such cotnplaints are the direct
expression of vegetative, i.e., muscular, armor. The patient complains of an
affect-paralysis because his plasrnatic currents and sensations are blocked. In
short, this defect is essentially of a purely biophysical nature. In orgone
therapy, the n1otility block is loosened by biophysical n1ethods and not by
psychological n1ethods.
Therapy 63

tion of his feminine transference, but his demeanor as a whole

cautioned me against n1aking such a disclosure. The situation was
difficult, for the elements of his resistance \vhich I already under-
stood, the transference of the hatred he felt for his brother and the
narcissistic-feminine attitude to\vard his superiors, had been sharply
rejected. Hence, I had to be very careful if I did not \vant to risk the
abrupt termination of the analysis at that time. Moreover, in each
session, he complained almost \vithout letup and always in the same
way that the analysis was not having any effect on him, etc. Even
after some four weeks of analysis, I still did not understand this
attitude, though it appeared to me as an essential and momentarily
acute character resistance.
I fell ill at this time and had to interrupt the analysis for two
weeks. The patient sent 1ne a bottle of cognac as a tonic. He seemed
pleased when I resu1ned the analysis, but continued to complain in
the same way, and told 1ne that he was tortured by thoughts of
death. He couldn't get it out of his mind that something had
happened to someone in his family, and while I was sick he couldn't
stop thinking that I might die. One day, when he was especially
tortured by this thought, he made up his mind to send me the
cognac. It was a very tempting opportunity to interpret his re-
pressed death \vishes. There was n1ore than an1ple material for such
an interpretation, yet I was held back by the consideration and the
definite feeling that it \Vould have been sterile, merely ricocheting
from the wall of his complaints: "Nothing gets through to me"; the
"analysis has no affect on me." In the meantime, of course, the con-
cealed ambiguity of the complaint that "nothing gets through to me"
had become clear. This \vas an expression of his deeply repressed
passive-feminine transference desire for anal intercourse. But would
it have been sensible and justilied to interpret his homosexual
desire, however clearly manifested, while his ego continued to
protest against the analysis? First, the meaning of his cotnplaint
about the fruitlessness of the analysis had to become clear. I might
have sho,vn hin1 that his complaint was unfounded. He al\vays had
new dreams to report, the thoughts of death beca1ne more pro-
nounced, and many other things \Vere taking place in him. I knew

frorn experience that telling him this \vould not have eased the
situation, despite the fact that I clearly felt the arn1or which stood
between the analysis and the material offered by the id. Moreover,
in all probability, I had to assun1e that the existing resistance would
not allow any interpretation to pass through to the id. Thus, I
continued to d\vell on his behavior-interpreting it to him as an
expression of his strong defense-and told him we both had to wait
until the n1eaning of this behavior becan1e clear to us. He had
already grasped that the thoughts of death which he had had on the
occasion of rny illness did not necessarily have to be an expression
of his loving concern for me.
In the course of the follo\ving weeks, the in1pressions of his
behavior and his complaints multiplied. It becarne more and more
clear that these complaints \vere intimately related to the defense
of his ferninine transference, but the situation was still not ripe for
exact interpretation. I lacked a tight forrnulation of the n1eaning of
his behavior as a \vhole. Let us summarize the fundamental aspects
of the solution \vhich followed later:
a. He wanted recognition and love fron1 me as well as from all
other n1en who appeared masculine to him. The fact that he wanted
love and had been disappointed by me had already been inter-
preted repeatedly, \Vithout success.
b. I-lis attitude to\vard me, the transference of his unconscious
attimde toward his brother, \vas clearly full of hate and envy; to
avoid the danger of having the interpretation fizzle out, it was best
not to analyze this attitude at this point.
c. He \Varded off his fen1inine transference; the defense could
not be interpreted without touching upon the forbidden femininity.
d. He felt inferior to me because of his fernininity-and his
continual con1plaints could only be an expression of his inferiority_
I now interpreted his feelings of inferiority to\vard n1e. At first,
this had no success. After several days of consistently dwelling upon
his nature, ho\vever, he finally produced son1e con1munications on
his inordinate envy, not of me but of other men he also felt inferior
to. And now I was suddenly struck by the idea that his continual
Therapy 65

complaints that "the analysis has no effect on 1ne" could have no

other meaning than '"It's worthless." It follo,vs, therefore, that the
analyst is inferior, impotent, and could not achieve anything \Vith
him. Thus the co1nplaints tvere to be understood partially as a
triumph over and partially as a reproach against the a1wlyst. No'v I
told him ho'v I vie,vcd his continual complaints even I was amazed
at the success. He accepted 1ny interpretation as quite plausible. He
immediately came up \vith a large ntunber of exan1ples which re-
vealed that he al,vays acted this way when someone \Vanted to
influence him. He said that he could not endure another person's
superiority and al,vays endeavored to disparage those to,vard whom
he felt inferior. He \Vent on to say that he had al,vays done the exact
opposite of what a superior had den1anded of him. He brought
forward a \vealth of recollections about his insolent and deprecatory
attitude toward teachers.
Here, then, lay his pent-up aggressiveness, the most extreme
expression of \vhich, until this point, had been the death wish. But
our joy was short-lived. The resistance returned in the same form-
the same complaints, the same depression, the same silence. But
now I kne\V that my disclosure had very much impressed him and,
as a consequence, his feminine attitude had become more pro-
nounced. The immediate result of this, naturally, was a renewed
warding off of the effeminacy. In the analysis of this resistance, I
again proceeded from his feelings of inferiority to\vard me, but I
enlarged upon the interpretation by pointing out that he not only
felt inferior but also, indeed precisely for this reason, felt himself
cast in a feminine role toward me, a fact \vhich \Vas too much of an
insult to his manly pride.
Nohvithstanding the fact that he had, before this, produced a
great deal of material about his fenlinine behavior to,vard manly
men and had also showed complete understanding of it, he no
longer \vanted to kno'v anything about it. This was a ne\v problem.
Why did he refuse to admit something he himself had described
earlier? I continued to interpret his immediate behavior, namely
that he felt so inferior to\vard me that he refused to accept \vhat
I explained to him, though this refusal constituted reversal of his
66 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

earlier position. He adrnitted that this \vas hue, and \vent on to

give a detailed account of his relationship to his friend. It turned
out that he had indeed played the feminine role; there had often
been intercourse behveen the thighs. I could nO\V sho\v him that his
defensive behavior \Vas nothing other than the expression of a
struggle against the surrender to analysis \vhich, for his uncon-
scious, \Vas obviously related to the idea of surrendering to the
analyst in a feminine \vay. This too, ho\vever, \vas an insult to his
pride and \Vas the reason for his tenacious opposition to the influ-
ence of the analysis. He reacted to this with a confirn1atory drean1:
he is lying on a sofa with the analyst and is kissed by him. Ho\vever,
this clear drean1 released a ne\v \Va ve of resistance, again in the old
form of con1plaints (the analysis \vas not having any affect on him,
couldn't have any influence on hiin, \vhat \Vas it leading to anyho\v,
he \vas cornpletely cold, etc.). I interpreted his complaints as a
deprecation of the analysis and a defense against surrendering to it.
At the same tin1e, I began to explain to him the econon1ic meaning
of his block. I told hin1 that, even on the basis of \vhat he had
related about his childhood and adolescence, it \vas clear he had im-
rnured himself against all the disappointments \vhich he had expe-
rienced in the outside \Vorld and against the rough, cold treatment
on the part of father, brother, and teachers. This had been his
only salvation, even if a salvation \vhich entailed many restrictions
upon his enjoyn1ent of life.
He immediate! y accepted this explanation as plausible and
followed it up with rernembrances of his behavior to\vard teacher. .s.
He had al\vays found them so cold and alien (a clear projection of
his O\Vn feelings), and even if he \Vere ouhvardly agitated when
they beat or scolded him, he remained in\vardly indifferent. In this
connection, he told n1e that he had often \vished I were more strict.
At first, the meaning of this desire did not appear to fit into the
situation; much later it becarne clear that at the bottorn of his
obstinacy lay the intent to put me and my prototypes, the teachers,
in the \vrong.
For several days the analysis proceeded free of resistances; no\v
he \Vent on to relate that there had been a tin1e in his early child-
Therapy 67

hood \vhen he had been very \vild and aggressive. At the san1e time,
curiously, he produced dre~uns \vhich revealed a strong fc1ninine
attitude to\vard n1c. I could only sunnise that the recollection of his
aggressiveness had simultaneously 1nobilized the guilt feeling \Vhich
\Vas expressed in these drean1s of a passive-fen1inine nature. I
avoided an analysis of the clrean1s not only because they \Vere not
directly related to the existing transference situation but also be-
cause he did not appear prepared to grasp the connection bchveen
his aggression and drean1s expressing a guilt feeling. I assun1e that
son1e analysts \vill regard this as an arbitrary selection of 1naterial.
Against this, ho\vever, I have to defend the clinically tested position
that the optin1un1 in therapy \vill be achieved \vhen a direct connec-
tion has been csta blished bet\veen the contemporary transference
situation and the infantile n1aterial. So I 1nerely voiced the supposi-
tion that his recollection of the \vild conduct of his childhood
indicated he had once been \vholly different, the exact opposite of
\vhat he \Vas today, and the analysis \vould have to uncover the time
and the circun1stances that led to the transforn1ation of his charac-
ter. Presun1ably, his present cffen1inacy \vas an avoidance of ag-
gressive masculinity. The patient did not react to this disclosure
at all; instead, he sank back into the old resistance: he couldn't
n1anage it, he didn't feel anything, the analysis had no effect on
hin1, etc.
I again interpreted his feelings of inferiority and his repeated
atten1pts to sho\v up the po,vcrlessness of the analysis or, more to
the point, of the analyst; but I also endeavored nO\V to \Vork out the
transference of the attitude he held to\vard his brother. He hhnself
had said that the brother had ahvays played the dotninant role. l-Ie
entered into this only \Vith great hesitation, evidently because it
concerned the central conflict situation of his childhood. He re-
peated that the n1other had paid a great deal of attention to the
brother, \vithout, ho\vevcr, going into his subjective attitude to\vard
this preference. As \vas brought out by a cautious inquiry in this
direction, he \vas con1pletely closed to an insight into his envy of his
brother. This envy, it had to be assun1ed, \vas so intilnately associ-
ated \Vith an intensive hate and repressed out of fear that not even
68 \V I L H E L 1>.1 H E I C H

the feeling of envy \vas permitted to enter consciousness. An espe-

cially strong resistance resulted fron1 my attetnpt to draw out his
envy of his brother; it lasted many days and was marked by stereo-
typed complaints about his powerlessness. Since the resistance did
not give way, it had to be assumed that \Ve were dealing with a very
in1mediate defense against the person of the analyst. I again urged
him to speak openly and without fear about the analysis and par-
ticularly about the analyst and to tell what impression the analyst
had n1ade on hin1 on first encounter. 4 After a long hesitation, he
told n1e in a faltering voice that the analyst had appeared crudely
masculine and brutal to hin1, as a man who would be absolutely
ruthless to\vard won1en in sexual matters. Ho\v did this fit in with
his attitude to\vard men who appeared potent?
We were at the end of the fourth n1onth of analysis. Now, for
the first time, that repressed relationship to the brother broke
through which was intimately related to the n1ost disruptive ele-
ment of the existing transference, envy of potency. Revealing strong
affects, he suddenly remetnbered that he had always condemned his
brother in the most rigorous manner because he (the brother)
chased after all the girls, seduced then1, and, moreover, made a
sho\v of it. ftly appearance had in1mediately ren1inded him of his
brother. Given greater confidence by his last communication, I
again explained the transference situation and sho,ved him that he
identified n1c \vith his potent brother and, precisely for this reason,
could not open himself to me; that is, he conden1ned me and re-
sented my alleged superiority, as he had once condemned and
resented his brother!'s alleged superiority. I told hin1, furthermore,
that it 'vas clearly evident no\v that the basis of his inferiority \vas a
feeling of impotence.
After this explanation, the central elernent of the character
resistance emerged spontaneously. In a correctly and consistently
carried out analysis, this \Vill happen every titne, tvithout the analyst
having to push matters or give anticipatory conceptions. In a flash
4 Since then, I am in the habit of urging the patient to give me a descrip-
tion of my person. This always proves to be a fruitful n1easure for the removal
of blocked transference situations.
Therapy 69

he rernembered that he had repeatedly compared his O\Vn srnall

penis with his brother's big penis, and had envied his brother
because of it.
As \vas to be expected, a powerful resistance again ensued;
again he co1nplained, ''I can't do anything," etc. No\v I \Vas able to
go a step further in n1y interpretations and show hin1 that these
complaints \Vere a verbalization of his feeling of in1potence. His
reaction to this was cornpletely unexpected. After my interpretation
of his dishust, he declared for the first time that he had never
believed any man, that he believed nothing at all, probably not even
the analysis. Naturally, this \Vas a big step forward. But the mean-
ing of this communication, its connection to the preceding situation,
was not ilnmediately clear. He spoke for hvo hours on the many
disappointments which he had experienced in his life, and was of
the opinion that his dishust could be rationally traced back to these
disappointments. The old resistance reappeared. Since I \vas not
sure what lay behind it this tin1e, I decided to wait. For several days
the situation remained unchanged-the old con1plaints, the familiar
behavior. I continued to interpret the elements of the resistance
which had already been worked through and were very familiar to
me, when suddenly a new element emerged. He said that he was
afraid of the analysis because it might deprive him of his ideals.
Now the situation was clear again. He had transferred to rne the
castration anxiety which he felt toward his brother. He was afraid of
me. Naturally, I rnade no rnention of the castration anxiety, but
again proceeded fro1n his inferiority complex and his in1potence and
asked him whether he did not feel himself superior to all people on
the basis of his high ideals, whether he did not regard himself as
better than all the others. This he readily admitted; indeed, he went
even further. He asserted that he really was superior to all the
others, who chased after women and were like animals in their
sexuality. With less certitude he added that, unfortunately, this feel-
ing \Vas frequently disturbed by his in1potence. Evidently, he had
not yet entirely come to tenns with his sexual debility. Now I \vas
able to elucidate the neurotic n1anner in \vhich he was attetnpting to
deal with his feeling of impotence and to sho\v hin1 that he was
70 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

seeking to regain a feeling of potency in the sphere of ideals. I

sho\ved hin1 the compensation and again dre\V his attention to the
resistances to the analysis \Vhich stcn1n1cd fro1n his secret feeling of
superiority. It \Vas not only that he secretly thought of himself as
better and n1ore intelligent; it \vas precisely for this reason that he
had to resist the analysis. For if it turned out to be a success, then
he \vould have needed so1neone's help and the analysis \vould have
vanquished his neurosis, the secret value of \Vhich we had just
uncovered. Fron1 the point of vie\Y of the neurosis, this constituted
a defeat and, in terms of his unconscious, this also meant becoming
a \VOn1an. In this \vay, tnoving for\vard from his ego and its defense
mechanistns, I prepared the ground for the interpretation of the
castration con1plex and the feminine fixation.
Thus, using the patient's den1eanor as its point of departure,
character analysis had succeeded in penetrating directly to the
center of his neurosis, his castration anxiety, the envy of his brother
sten1n1ing fron1 the mother's preference of the brother, and the
concomitant disappoir!tnlent in her. The outlines of the Oedipus
con1plex \Vere already con1ing into view. Here, ho\vever, \vhat is
important is not that these unconscious elements emerged-this
often happens spontaneously. 'Vhat is important is the legitimate
sequence in \vhich they emerged and the intimate contact they had
\Vith the ego defense and the transference. Last but not least, it is
in1portant that this happened \vithout pushing but through pure
analytic interpretation of the patient's bearing and \Vith accompany-
ing affects. This constitutes \vhat is specific to consistent character
analysis. It 1neans a thorough \Vorking through of the conflicts
assimilated by the ego.
Let us compare this \vith \Vhat might have resulted if \Ve had
not consistently focused on our patient's ego defense. Right at the
beginning, the possibility existed of interpreting both his passive
hon1osexual relationship to his brother and the death wish. \Ve have
no doubt that drean1s and subsequent associations \Vould have
yielded additional n1aterial for interpretation. Ho\vever, unless his
ego dPfcnse had been systematically and thoroughly \vorked
through beforehand, no interpretation \vould have evoked an affec-
Therapy 71

tive response; instead, \VC \Vould have obtained an intellecrua]

knowledge of his passive desire on the one hand and a narcissistic,
highly affective defense against these desires on the other hand. The
affects pertaining to the passivity and n1urder impulses \Vould have
ren1ained in the function of defense. The result would have been a
chaotic situation, the typical bleak picture of an analysis rich in
interpretation and poor in success. Several months of patient and
persistent \vork on the ego resistance, \vith particular reference to its
for1n ( con1plaints, inflection, etc.), lifted the ego to the level neces-
~c. ry to assimilate \vhat \Vas repressed, loosened the affects, and
brought about a shifting in their direction to the repressed ideas.
Thus, it cannot be said that there were ttvo techniques \vhich
could have been applied in this case; there was only one, if the
intent was to change the case dynan1ically. I hope that this case has
made sufficiently clear the predon1inant difference in the conception
of the application of theory to technique. The n1ost important cri-
terion of effective analysis is the use of few (but accurate and
consistent) interpretations, instead of many unsystematic interpre-
tations which fail to take the dynamic and economic n1oment into
account. If the analyst does not allo\v himself to be tempted by the
material but correctly assesses its dynamic position and economic
role, the result is that, though he \vill receive the material later, it
will be that n1uch more thorough and affect-laden. The second
criterion is the maintaining of a continuous connection behveen the
contemporary situation and the infantile situation. The initial dis-
connectedness and confusion of the analytic material is transforn1ed
into an orderly sequence, that is, the succession of the resistances
and contents is no\v detern1ined by the special dynamics and
structural relations of the particular neurosis. When the work of
interpretation is not performed systematically, the analyst must
always make a fresh start, search about, divine more than deduce.
When the \vork of interpretation proceeds along character-analytic
lines, on the other hand, the analytic process develops nahlrally. In
the former case, the analysis runs smoothly in the beginning only to
becon1e n1ore and n1ore entangled in difficulties; in the latter case,
the most serious difficulties present themselves in the first \veeks
72 \V I L H E L 1v1 R E I C H

and n1onths of the treatn1ent, only to give \vay to smoother vvork,

even in the deepest n1aterial. lienee, the fate of each analysis
depends upon the introduction of the treatn1ent, i.e., upon the cor-
rect or incorrect unraveling of the resistances. Thus, the third cri-
terion is the unraveling of the case, not arbitrarily fron1 any position
\vhich happens to be conspicuous and intelligible, but fron1 those
positions \vherc the strongest ego resistance is concealed, followed
by the syste1natic expansion of the initial incursion into the uncon-
scious and the \vorking through of the in1portant infantile fixations,
\vhich are affect-laden at any given tiine. An unconscious position
\Vhich n1anifests itself in drean1s or in an association, at a certain
point in the treatn1ent and nohvithstanding the fact that it is of
central iinportance for the neurosis, can play a co1npletely subordi-
nate role, i.e., have no conte1nporary i1nportance \Vith respect to the
technique of the case.
In our patient, the fen1inine relationship to the brother \vas the
central pathogen; yet in the first n1onths the fear of losing the
co1npensation for iinpotence provided by the fantasized ego ideals
constituted the problen1 \vith respect to technique. The error \vhich
is usually made is that the analyst attacks the central elen1ent in the
neurotic for1nation ( \Vhich usually n1anifests itself in so1ne \vay
right at the outset), instead of first attacking those positions which
have a specific conte1nporary ilnportance. Systen1atically worked
through in succession, these positions rnust eventually lead to the
central pathogenic cletnent. In short, it is iinportant, indeed decisive
for the success of 1nany cases, h<nv, \vhen, and fron1 \Vhich side the
analyst penebates to the core of the neurosis.
It is not difficult to fit vvhat \VC arc describing here as character
analysis into Freud, s theory of resistance forn1ation and resistance
resolution. 'Ve kno\v that every resistance consists of an id impulse
\Vhich is \Varded off and an ego in1pulse \Vhich \Vards off. Both
in1pulses are unconscious. In principle, it \Votild seem to he a n1atter
of choice \vhether the striving of the id or the striving of the ego is
interpreted first. For exan1ple: if a h<nnoscxual resistance in the
forn1 of silence is encountered right at th(' outset of an analysis, the
striving of the id can be taken up by telling the patient that he is
Therapy 73

presently engaged in tender intentions to\vard the person of the

analyst. His positive transference has been interpreted and, if he
does not take flight, it \viii be a long ti1ne before he becomes recon-
ciled to this hideous idea. Hence, the analyst must giye precedence
to that aspect of the resistance \Vhich lies closer to the conscious
ego, nan1ely the ego defense, by merely telling the patient, to begin
\vith, that he is silent because he rejects the analysis "for one reason
or another," presumably because it has becon1e dangerous to him in
some \vay. In short, the resistance is attacked \Vithout entering into
the striving of the id. In the fanner case, that aspect of the resis-
tance \Vhich pertains to the id (in the above instance, the love
tendency) has been attacked through interpretation; in the latter
case, that part of the resistance pertaining to the ego, i.e., the rejec-
tion, is attacked through interpretation.
By using this procedure, \Ve simultaneously penetrate the nega-
tive transference, in \vhich every defense finally ends, and also the
character, the arn1or of the ego. The surface layer of every resis-
tance, i.e., the layer closest to consciousness, must of necessity be a
negative attitude to\vard the analyst, \vhether the id striving is
based on hate or love. The ego projects onto the analyst its defense
against the sbiving of the id. Thus, the analyst becon1es an enen1y
and is dangerous because, by his imposition of the irksome basic
nile, he has provoked id strivings and has disturbed the neurotic
balance. In its defense, the ego makes use of very old forms of
defensive attitudes. In a pinch it calls upon hate in1pulses from the
id for help in its defense, even \vhen it is \Varding off a love striving.
Thus, if \Ve adhere to the rule of tackling that part of the
resistance \vhich pertains to the ego, \Ve also resolve a part of
negative transference in the process, a quantity of affect-laden hate,
and thereby avoid the danger of overlooking the destructive ten-
dencies \Vhich are very often brilliantly concealed; at the same time,
the positive transference is strengthened. The patient also con1pre-
hends the ego interpretation n1ore easily because it is more related
to his conscious feelings; in this \vay, he is also n1ore prepared for
the id interpretations \Vhich follo\v later.
No matter \vhat kind of id strivings \Ve are dealing \vith, the
74 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

ego defense al\vays has the same fonn, namely one that corresponds
to the patient's character; and the same id striving is \Varded off in
various \vays in various patients. Thus, \Ve leave the character
untouched when we interpret only the striving of the id; on the
other hand, \VC include the neurotic character in the analysis when
we tackle the resistances fundamentally from the defense, i.e., from
the ego side. In the for1ner case, \Ve tell the analysand immediately
tvhat he is \Varding off; in the latter case, we first make it clear to
hin1 that he is \Varding off ''son1ething,H then hotv he is going about
it, what means he is en1ploying to do it (character analysis), and
only Inuch later, \vhen the analysis of the resistance has progressed
, he is told or finds out for hiinself \vhat the defense is
directed against. In this very roundabout \vay to the interpretation
of the id strivings, all the gern1ane attitudes of the ego are taken
apart analytically, thus precluding the grave danger that the patient
\viii learn son1ething too soon, or that he \vill remain unemotional
and unconcerned.
Analyses in \vhich the attitudes are accorded so much analytic
attention proceed in a n1orc orderly and more effective manner,
\Vithout the least detriment to the theoretical research \vork. It is
only that the important events of childhood are learned later than
usual. Ho,vever, this is a1nply co1npensated for by the emotional-
freshness \vith \vhich the infantile material springs forth after the
character resistances have been \Vorked through analytically.
Yet, \Ve must not fail to n1ention certain unpleasant aspects of
consistent character analysis. Character analysis subjects the patient
to far more psychic strain; the patient suffers much more than \vhen
the character is left out of consideration. This has, to be sure, the
advantage of a \Veeding out: those who don't hold out would not
have been cured anyho\v, and it is better to have a case fail after
four or six 1nonths than to have it fail after hvo years. But experi-
ence sho\vs that if the character resistance does not break do\vn, a
satisfactory result cannot be counted on. This is especially true of
cases having concealed character resistances. The overcoming of the
character resistance does not mean that the patient has changed his
character; this is possible only after the analysis of its infantile
Therapy 75

sources. He must n1erely have objectiRed it and have gained an

analytic interest in it. Once this has been accoinplishcd, a favorable
continuation of the analysis is very probable.

The breaking daten of the narcissistic defense apparatus

As we already mentioned, the essential difference between the
analysis of a syn1pton1 and that of a neurotic character trait consists
in the fact that, fron1 the verv outset, the for1ner is isolated and

objectified, \vhereas the latter n1ust be continually singled out in the

analysis so that the patient gains the san1e attitude to\vard it as
toward a symptom. It is only seldon1 that this happens easily. There
are patients who sho\v very little inclination to take an objective
view of their character. This is understandable, for it is a question
of the breaking do\vn of the narcissistic defense mechanis1n, and the
working through of the libido anxiety which is bound in it.
A twenty-five-year-old man sought analytic help because of a
few minor syn1ptoms and a disturbance in his work. He exhibited a
free, self-confident bearing, yet one son1etimes had the vague
in1pression that his behavior required great strain and that he did
not establish a genuine relationship with the person with whom he
happened to be speaking. There \Vas son1ething cold in his 1nanner
of speaking; his voice was soft and subtly ironic. Once in a while he
smiled, but it \vas hard to know whether it was a s1nile indicative of
embarrassment, supe1iority, or irony.
The analysis con11nenced with violent emotions and a vast
amount of enactn1ent. He cried when he spoke of his mother's
demise and S\vore \Vhen he described the usual upbringing of chil-
dren. He divulged only very general information about his past: his
parents had had a very unhappy n1arriage; his n1other had been
very strict with hin1; and it wasn't until he had reached maturity
that he established a rather superficial relationship with his brothers
and sisters. All his con1munications sharpened the original impres-
sion that neither his crying nor his swearing nor any of his other
emotions was sincere and natural. He himself stated that it really
wasn't so bad as all that, and indeed he was forever smiling at

everything he said. After several sessions, he took to provoking the

analyst. \Vhen I had concluded the session, for exan1ple, he would
continue to lie on the couch ostentatiously for a while; or he would
strike up a conversation afterwards. Once he asked me what I
\vould do if he seized n1e by the throat. Two sessions later he tried to
frighten n1e by a sudden moven1ent of his hand toward n1y head. I
shrank back instinctively and told him that the analysis required of
hin1 only that he say everything, not that he do everything. Another
time, he stroked my ar1n on taking leave. The deeper but inexplic-
able n1eaning of this behavior was an incipient homosexual trans-
ference which \Vas expressing itself sadistically. When I translated
these actions superficially as provocations, he smiled to himself and
imn1ured himself even n1ore. The actions as \Vell as the communica-
tions ceased; only the stereotyped sn1ile retnained. He began to
in1n1erse hi1nself in silence. When I called his attention to the re-
sistive character of his behavior, he merely smiled again and
repeated, after a period of silence, the word "resistance" several
tiines, in a clearly ironic tone of voice. In this way, his s1niling and
his tendency to treat everything ironically became the fulcrum of
the analytic task.
The situation \Vas difficult enough. Apart from the scanty
information about his childhood, I kne\v nothing about him. So I
had to concentrate on his n1ode of behavior in the analysis. For the
tin1e being, I \Vithdre\V into a passive position and waited to see
\Vhat \Vould con1e, but there \Vas no change in his behavior. About
two weeks elapsed in this way. Then it struck n1e that, in point of
time, the intensification of his smiling coincided with my warding
off his aggression. So, to begin with, I tried to make him understand
the present reason for his smiling. I told him that there \Vas no
doubt his smiling meant n1any different things, but at the n1oment it
was his reaction to my co,vardice as testified by n1y instinctive
dra\ving back. He said that this was very likely true, but he \VOuld
continue to smile nonetheless. He spoke little and on matters of
subsidiary iinportance, treated the analysis ironically, and stated
that he couldn't believe anything I told him.
Gradually, it becatne n1ore and n1ore clear that his smiling
Therapy 77
served as a defense against the analysis. I repeatedly pointed this
out to hin1 throughout several sessions, but several \Veeks elapsed
before he had a drea1n, the content of which \Vas that a pillar n1ade
of b1ick \\ras cut do,vn into individual bricks by a InachinE:. \Vhat
relation this dreatn had to the analytic situation \vas all the n1ore
difficult to fatho1n inas1nuch as he did not produce any associations
at first. Finally, he stated that the dream \Vas altogether quite clear;
obviously, it dealt \Vith the castration con1plex-and he s1niled. I
told him that his irony \Vas 1nerely an attempt to disavow the sign
that the unconscious had given hin1 through the drean1. This evoked
a screen men1ory, \vhich \Vas of the greatest importance for the
future dcvelop1nent of the analysis. He remembered that once,
when he \Vas about five, he had "played horsy" in the courtyard of
his parents' hon1e. He had cra\vled about on all fours, letting his
penis hang out of his pants; his mother had caught hiin in the act
and asked him what he was doing-he had 1nerely s1niled. For the
time being, there was nothing else to be gotten out of him. Yet, some
clarity had been gained; his s1niling was a part of the mother trans-
ference. When I now told him that, obviously, he \Vas acting here as
he had acted to\vard his n1other and that his sn1iling must have a
definite meaning, he 1nerely smiled. All this was of course very nice,
he said, but its n1eaning eluded hiin.
For several days we had the sa1ne smiling and silence on his
part and, on tny part, consistent interpretation of his behavior as a
defense against the analysis and of his smiling as the conquering of
a secret fear of this interpretation. Yet he warded off this interpreta-
tion of his behavior with his typical smile. This, too, \vas consis-
tently interpreted as a block against n1y influence, and I pointed out
to him that he evidently was always s1niling in life. He adn1itted
that this was the only possibility of holding one's own in the \Vorld.
In admitting this, ho,vcver, he had unwittingly concurred with 1ny
interpretation. One day he came into the analysis wearing his usual
smile and said, "You'll be happy today, Doctor. I was struck by
so1nething funny. In n1y 1nother tongue, bricks mean the testicles of
a horse. That's pretty good, isn't it? You see, it is the castration
complex." I told hiin that this might or might not be the case, but as
78 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

long as he persisted in his defensive attitude, it \Vas out of the

question to think of analyzing his drean1. He \vould be sure to
nullify every association and every interpretation \vith his smiling.
\Ve have to append here that his smile \Vas hardly more than a
suggestion of a smile; it expressed, rather, a sense of mockery. I told
him that he had no need to be afraid to laugh heartily and loudly at
the analysis. From then on, he came out much more clearly with his
ironv .

The verbal association, so ironically communicated, \Vas a very

valuable cue toward an understanding of the sihration. It seen1ed
very probable that, as is often the case, the analysis had been con-
ceived of as a castration threat and had been \Varded off in the
beginning \Vith aggression and later \Vith smiling. I returned to the
aggression he had expressed at the beginning of the analysis and
suppletnented my earlier interpretation by pointing out that he had
used his provocation to test to \vhat extent he could trust n1e, to see
ho\v far he could go. In short, his lack of trust was very likely rooted
in a childhood fear. This explanation n1ade an evident impression
on hiin. He \vas motnentarily shaken, but quickly recovered and
began once again to deride the analysis and the analyst. \Veil
aware, from the few indications derived from the reactions to his
drean1, that n1y interpretations \Vere hitting home and \Vere under-
mining his ego defense, I refused to be diverted. Unfortunately, he
\vas not too happy about this, and he stuck to his smiling just as
tenaciously as I stuck to my explanatory work.
~1any sessions elapsed \vithout any apparent progress. I inten-
sified my interpretations not only by becotning more insistent but
also by more closely relating his smiling to the supposed infantile
fear. I pointed out that he was afraid of the analysis because it
would arouse his childhood conflicts. He had, I said, at one time
come to tern1s with these conflicts, even if not in a very satisfactory
\vay, and no\v he recoiled from the possibility of having again to go
through all that he thought he had n1astered with the help of his
smile. But he \vas deceiving hin1self, for his excitement in telling of
his mother's death had certainly been genuine. I also ventured the
opinion that his relationship to his mother had not been unambigu-
Therapy 79

ous; surely he had not only feared her and derided her but also
loved her. Sonle\vhat 1norc seriously than usual, he related details of
his mother's loveless attitude to\vard him. Once, \Vhen he had been
naughty, she had even injured his hand \Vith a knife. To this,
however, he added, "Right, according to analytic theory, this is
again the castration con1plex?" But so1nething serious seemed to be
preparing itself inside of hin1.
On the basis of the analytic situation, I continued to interpret
the contemporary and latent 1neaning of his sn1ile. During this tin1e,
additional dreams \vere reported. Their 1nanifest content \Vas rather
typical of syn1bolic castration fantasies. Finally, he produced a
drean1 in \Vhich horses appeared, and another drea1n in \Vhich the
fire department \Vas mobilized and out of a truck rose a high to\ver
from which a po,verful column of \Vater \vas discharged into the
Hames of a burning house. .A.t this tilne, occasional bed-\vettings
\Vere also reported. He himself recognized, albeit still \vith a smile,
the connection bet\veen the "horse dreatn" and his playing "horsy."
He recalled, indeed, that the long genital of horses had al\vays been
of special interest to him, and added spontaneously that he had no
doubt imitated such a horse in the childish gan1e. ~1icturition had
also afforded him great pleasure. He did not remember whether he
had \Vet his bed as a child.
Another time \vhen \Ve \vere discussing the infantile meaning of
his smile, he put a different interpretation on the srnile of the child-
hood incident in \vhich he had been playing "horsy." It \Vas quite
possible, he said, that it had been intended not as a sneer but as an
attempt to disartn his mother, out of fear that she \Vould scold him.
In this way, he came closer and closer to \vhat, on the basis of his
behavior in the analysis, I had been interpreting to him for months.
Thus, the function and meaning of the sn1ile had changed in the
course of his developn1ent: at first it had been an attempt to propiti-
ate, later it had beconze a contpensation for inner fear, and {irwlly it
served a feeling of superiority. The patient himself hit upon this
explanation \vhen, in the course of several sessions, he reconstructed
the \vay he had found to keep at bay the misery of his childhood.
Hence, the tneaning \Vas: "Nothing can harm me; I am in1mune to
80 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

everything." It \vas in the latter sense that the smile had become a
resistance in the analysis, a defense against the resuscitation of the
old conflicts. Infantile fear see1ned to be the essential motive for this
defense. A dream \vhich the patient had at about the end of the fifth
month of analysis revealed the deepest layer of his fear, the fear of
being deserted by his n1other. The drcan1 \vent as follo\VS: "Accom-
panied by an unkno\vn person, I a1n riding in a car through a
con1pletely deserted and dreary-looking to\vn. The houses are di-
lapidated, the \Vindo\vs smashed. No one is to be seen. It is as if
death had ravaged this place. \Ve con1e to a gate, and I \Vant to tun1
back. I tell n1y con1panion \Ve should have another look around. A
n1an and a \Voman in n1ourning are kneeling on the side\valk. I \Valk
to\vard the111 \Vith the intent of asking then1 so1nething. As I touch
their shoulders, they are startled, and I \vake up in fear." The most
important association \vas that the to\vn \Vas sin1ilar to the one- he
had lived in until he \vas four. Syn1bolically, the death of the mother
and the feeling of infantile desertion \Vcre clearly intimated. The
con1panion \Vas the analyst. For the first time the patient took a
drean1 co1npletely seriously and \Vithout sn1iling. The character
resistance had been broken through and the connection had been
established to the infantile 1naterial. Fron1 this point on, apart from
the usual interruptions caused by relapses into the old character
resistance, the analysis proceeded \vithout any particular difficulty.
But a deep depression ensued, \vhich disappeared only \Vith tiine.
Naturallv, the difficulties \Vere far greater than n1ay* be evident
from this brief sun1n1ary. The resistance phase from beginning to
end lasted almost six n1onths and \vas marked by continuing
mockery of the analysis. If it had not been for the necessary
patience and confidence in the effectiveness of consistent interpreta-
tion of the character resistance, one might easily have "thrown in
the sponge.''
Let us no\v endeavor to decide \Vhether the subsequent ana-
lytic insight into the mcchanisn1 of this case \Vould justify the use of
a different technical procedure. It is true that the n1anner of the
patient's behavior could have been given less pronlinence in the
Therapy 81

analysis; instead, the scanty dreams could have been subjected to

more exact analysis. It is also true that he 1night have produced
interpretable associations. Let us pass over the fact that, until he
entered analysis, this patient ahvays forgot his drean1s or didn't
dream at all. And it \vasn't until his behavior \vas consistently inter-
preted that he produced dreams of a definite content and of a
specific relevance to the analytic situation. I a1n prepared for the
objection that the patient \vould have produced the corresponding
drean1s spontaneously. To enter into such a discussion is to get into
an argtnnent about things that cannot be proven. There arc a1nple
experiences \vhich sho\v that a situation such as the one presented
by this patient is not easily resolved solely through passive \Vaiting;
and if it is, then it happens only by chance, i.e., the analyst does not
have the analysis
,., under control.
Let us assun1e that \Ve had interpreted his associations relating
to the castration con1plex, that is, tried to n1ake hin1 conscious of the
repressed content, the fear of cutting or of being cut. Eventually
this approach, too, n1ight have achieved success. But the very fact
that we cannot say with certainty that that \Vould have been the
case, the fact that \VC adn1it the clen1ent of chance, con1pels us to
reject as un-analytic this kind of technique \vhich violates the
essence of psychoanalytic \vork. Such a technique \Vould 1nean a
reversion to that stage of analysis \vhere one did not bother about
the resistances because one did not recognize then1, and therefore
interpreted the 1neaning of the unconscious directly. It is evident
fron1 the case history itself that this technique \vould also have
meant a neglect of the ego defenses.
It n1ight also be objected that, \vhile the technical handling of
the case \Vas absolutely correct, n1y polen1ics \Vere uncalled for.
What I arn saying is quite obvious and not at all ne\v-that's the
way all analysts \vork. I do not deny that the general principles are
not new, that character analysis is 111erely the special application of
the principle of resistance analysis. But 1nany years of experience in
the seminar have clearly and unequivocally sho\vn that \vhile the
principles of resistance technique are generally kno\vn and ackno\vl-
82 \V I L H E L l\! R E I C H

edged, in practice one proceeds alrnost exclusively according to the

old technique of direct interpretation of the unconscious. This dis-
crepancy bet\veen theoretical kno\vledge and actual practice \vas
the cause of all the mistaken objections to the systetnatic attempts
on the part of the Vienna se1ninar to develop the consistent applica-
tion of theory to therapy. Those \vho said that all this was common-
place and that there \vas nothing ne\v in it \Vere basing their
staten1ents on their theoretical kno\vledge; those who contended
that this \vas all \vrong and not "Freudian analysis" \vere thinking of
their O\Vn practice, which, as we have said, deviated considerably
fron1 theory.
A colleague once asked me \Vhat I \vould have _done in the
follo\ving case. For four \veeks he had been treating a young man
\vho in1n1ured himself in con1plete silence but \Vho was other\vise
very friendly and, before and after the analytic session, feigned a
very genial disposition. The analyst had already tried everything
possible, threatened to tern1inate the analysis, and finally, \vhen
even a drean1 interpretation failed to achieve any results, had set a
definite termination date. The scantv drean1 n1aterial had contained

nothing but sadistic murders; the analyst had told the patient that
his dreams sho\ved quite clearly that he conceived of hhnself as a
murderer in fantasy. But this had not served any purpose. The
analvst \vas not satisfied \Vith n1v state1nent that it does not do to
~ ~

make a deep interpretation to a patient \Vho has an acute resistance,

even though the n1atcrial appears quite n1anifestly in a drean1. He
\Vas of the opinion that there \vas no alternative but to do that. To
n1y suggestion that, to begin \vith, the patienfs silence should have
been interpreted as a resistance, he said that this was not possible:
there \vas "no material" available for such an interpretation. \Vasn't
there, quite apart from the content of the dreams, sufficient "mate-
rial" in the patient's behavior itself, the contradiction bet\veen his
silence during the analytic session and his friendliness outside of it?
\Vasn't at least one thing clear fro1n the situation, namely that
through his silence the patient-to put it in very general terms-
expressed a negative attitude or a defense; expressed, to judge from
Therapy 83

his dreams, sadistic iinpulses \vhich he sought to counter and

conceal through his obtrusively friendly behavior? \Vhy is it that an
analyst will venture to infer unconscious processes fron1 a patient's
slip-e.g., the forgetting of an object in the analyst's consultation
room-but is afraid to make inferences, from the patient's behavior,
which will have bearing on the 1neaning of the analytic situation?
Does a patient's behavior offer less conclusive material than a slip?
So1nehow I couldn't get this across to 1ny colleague. He sh1ck to his
view that the resistance could not be tackled because there was "no
material." There can be no doubt that the interpretation of the
sanguinary wish \Vas a 1nistake; the result of such an interpretation
can only be that the patient's ego becon1es even n1ore frightened
and even more inaccessible to analysis. The difficulties offered by
the cases presented in the seminar \Verc of a similar nature. There
was always an underestiination of or disregard for the patient's
behavior as interpretable 1naterial; the repeated atten1pt to elimi-
nate the resistance fron1 the position of the id, instead of through
the analysis of the ego defense; and finally the oft-repeated idea,
\Vhich served as an excuse, that the patient simply did not want to
get well or was "much too narcissistic."
The technique of breaking down the narcissistic defense in
other types is not fundamentally different from that described
above. If, for example, a patient never becomes emotionally in-
volved and re1nains indifferent, regardless of what material he
produces, one is dealing with a dangerous emotional block, the
analysis of which n1ust take precedence over everything else if one
does not want to run the risk of having all the material and interpre-
tations lost. If this is the case, the patient may acquire a good
knowledge of psychoanalytic theory, but he will not be cured. If,
confronted with such a block, the analyst elects not to give up the
analysis because of the "strong narcissism,'' he can make an agree-
ment with the patient. The patient \viii be given the option to
terminate the analysis at any time; in tum, he will allow the analyst
to dwell upon his en1otional lameness until it is eliminated. Eventu-
ally-it usually takes many months (in one case it took a year and a

half) -the patient begins to buckle under the continual stressing of

his emotional lameness and its causes. In the meantime, the analyst
will gradually have obtained sufficient clues to undermine the
defense against anxiety, which is what an emotional block is.
Finally, the patient rebels against the threat of the analysis, against
the threat to his protective psychic armor, against being put at the
mercy of his drives, particularly his aggressive drives. \Vhen he does
so, however, his aggressiveness is aroused and itt is not long before
the first en1otional outbreak ensues (i.e., a negative transference) in
the form of a paroxysm of hate. If the analyst succeeds in getting
this far, the contest has been \VOn. When the aggressive impulses
have been brought into the open, the emotional block has been
penetrated and the patient is capable of analysis. From this point
on, the analysis runs its usual course. The difficulty consists in draw-
ing out the aggressiveness.
The same hold'i true \vhen, because of the peculiarity of their
character, narcissistic patients vent their resistance verbally. For
exa1nple, they speak in a grandiloquent manner, use technical
ter1ninology, always rigidly chosen or else confused. This manner of
speaking constitutes an impenetrable wall; until it is subjected to
analysis, no real progress can be made. Here too, the consistent inter-
pretation of the patient's behavior provokes a narcissistic rebellion:
the patient does not like to hear that he speaks in such a stilted,
grandiloquent manner, or uses technical terminology to conceal his
inferiority complex fro1n hin1self and fro1n the analyst, or that he
speaks confusedly because he wants to appear especially clever-
the truth of the n1atter being that he cannot forn1ulate his thoughts
simply. In this way the hard terrain of the neurotic character has
been loosened in an essential area and an approach has been paved
to the infantile foundation of the character and the neurosis. Need-
less to say, it is not enough to make passing allusions to the nature
of the resistance. The more tenacious it proves to be, the more
consistently it n1ust be interpreted. If the negative attitudes toward
the analyst which are provoked by this consistent interpretation are
sin1ultaneously analyzed, then there is little danger that the patient
will terminate the treatn1ent.
Therapy 85

The im1nediate result of the analytic loosening of the character

armor and the disruption of the narcissistic protective apparatus is
twofold: ( 1) the loosening of the affects fronl their reactive anchor-
ings and concealtnents; ( 2) tlze establishment of an entry into the
central area of the infantile conflict, the Oedipus co1nplex and the
castration anxiety. There is an advantage in this procedure \vhich
should not be underestiinated: it is not only the content of infantile
experiences that is reached. :Niore important, they are brought
directly to analysis in the specific context in \vhich they have been
assimilated, i.e., in the forln in zvhich they have been molded by the
ego. It is seen again and again in analysis that the dynamic value of
the san1e elernent of repressed 1naterial varies depending on the
degree to \vhich the ego defenses have been loosened. In many
cases, the affect-cathexis of the childhood experiences has been
absorbed into the character as a defensive n1cchanisn1, so that, by
simply interpreting the content, one reaches the remembrances but
not the affects. In such cases, to interpret the infantile 1naterial
before the affects assin1ilated into the character have been loosened
is a grave mistake. It is, for exa1nple, to this neglect that the long.
bleak, and more or less fruitless analyses of cornpulsive characters
are to be traced.;; If, on the other hand, the affects pertaining to the
defensive formation of the character arc liberated first, then a ne'v
cathexis of the infantile instinctual expressions takes place autoinati-
cally. The character-analytic interpretation of resistances all but

5 Let the following case serve as an exan1ple of ho\v decisive it is to take

into consideration or neglect a patient's 1node of behavior. A con1pulsive char-
acter who had hvelve years of analysis behind hin1 \vithout any con1n1ensurate
improve1nent and \vas \veil infonned on his infantile n1otivations, e.g., on the
central father-conflict, spoke in a strange n1onotone in the analysis, in a sonle-
what singsong cadence, and kept wringing his hands. I asked whether this be-
havior had ever been analyzed. It had not. At first, I had no insight into the
case. One day it struck 1ne that he spoke as if he \vere praying. I inforn1ed hin1
of n1y observation, whereupon he told n1e that as a child he had been forced
by his father to attend prayer nwctings, \vhich he had done very reluctantly.
He had prayed, but under protest. In the san1e \vay he had recited to the
analyst for hvelve years, "Fine, I'll do as you say, but under protest., The un-
covering of this apparently insignificant detail in his behavior thre\v open the
analysis and led to the most deeply buried affects.
86 \V I L H E L ~1 R E I C H

excludes re1nen1bering \Vithout affects because of the disturbance of

the neurotic balance, \vhich al\vays occurs at the outset in character
In still other cases, the character erects itself as a hard protec-
tive \Vall against the experiencing of infantile anxiety and thus
maintains itself, not,vithstanding the great foifeiture of joie de vlvre
which this entails. If a patient having such a character enters
analytic treabnent because of son1e symptom or other, this protec-
tive \vall continues to serve in the analysis as a character resistance;
and it soon becon1es apparent that nothing can be accomplished
until the character armor, which conceals and consutnes the infan-
tile anxiety, has been destroyed. This, for example, is the case in
1noral insanitv and in 1nanic, narcissistic-sadistic characters. Here,
the analyst is often faced 'vith the difficult question \vhether the
existing S}'Inptrnn justifies a thoroughgoing character analysis. For
let there be no doubt about it: \vhen the analysis of the character
destroys the character con1pensation, especially in cases where that
defense is a relatively good one, a te1nporary condition is created
\vhich approxi1nates a breakdo\vn of the ego. In son1e extreme cases,
it is true, such a breakdo,vn is necessary before the new reality-
oriented ego structure can develop. ( Ho,vever, \Ve n1ust admit that
the breakdcnvn \Vould have co1ne of itself sooner or later-the
for1nation of a syn1pton1 \vas the first sign of this.) Yet one is reluc-
tant, unless an urgent indication exists, to adopt a measure \Vhich
involves such grave responsibility.
Nor can it be ignored in this connection that, in every case in
\Vhich it is used, character analysis provokes violent en1otions;
indeed, often creates dangerous situations. Hence, the analyst must
have technical mastery of the analysis at all times. Some analysts
will perhaps reject the character-analytic procedure for this reason.
If such is so, ho\vever, the analytic treabncnt of quite a number of
patients can be counted upon to fail. There are neuroses which
simply cannot be reached through n1ild n1eans. The methods em-
ployed in character analysis, the consistent stressing of the character
resistance and the persistent interpretation of its forms, means, and
motives, are as po\verful as they are disagreeable to the patient.
Therapy 87

This has nothing to do \Vith preparing the patient for analysis; it is a

strict analytic principle. Hovvever, it is good policy to n1ake the
patient a\vare, at the very outset, of all the foreseeable unpleasant-
ness and difficulties of the treatment.

On the optitnal conditions for the analytic reduction to the

infantile situation fran~ the contemporary situation
Since the consistent interpretation of a patient's behavior spon-
taneously provides access to the infantile sources of the neurosis, a
ne\v question arises: are there criteria for detern1ining \Vhen the
conten1porary mode of behavior should be reduced to its infantile
prototype? Indeed, one of the n1ain tasks of analysis consists pre-
cisely in this reduction. In these general terms, ho\vever, the for-
Inula is not applicable in everyday practice. Should this reduction
take place iinmediatcly, as soon as the first signs of the ge1,nane
infantile n1aterial becon1e apparent, or are there factors which
indicate that it \Vould be better to wait until a certain specilic time?
To begin vvith, it must be borne in n1ind that the purpose of reduc-
tion, namely the dissolution of the resistance and the elin1ination of
amnesia, is not ilnincdiately enco1npassed in n1any cases. This much
we kno\v from definite experiences. Either the patient does not get
beyond an intellectual understanding or the attempt at reduction is
foiled by doubt. This is explained by the fact that, just as in the case
of making an unconscious idea conscious, the topographical process
of conversion actually culminates only when combined \vith the
dynamic-affective process of becorning conscious. T\vo things are
necessary to achieve this: ( 1) the main resistance must at least be
loosened; ( 2) the cathexis of the idea \vhich is to become conscious
or (as in the case of reduction) which is to be exposed to a definite
connection n1ust have attained a Ininimu1n degree of intensity. As
we kno\v, however, the libido-charged affects of the repressed ideas
are usually split off, i.e., bound in the character or in the acute
transference conflicts and transference resistances. If the contempo-
rary resistance is now reduced to its infantile source, before it has
been fully developed (that is, as soon as a trace of its infantile
88 \V I L H E L M R E I CH

foundation has been spotted), then the intensity of its cathexis has
not been fully taken advantage of. The content of the resistance has
been analytically utilized in the interpretation, but the correspond-
ing affect has not been included. If,, in other \Vords, both the
topographical and the dynatnic points of vic\v are taken into con-
sideration in making one's interpretations, then \Ve have the follo\v-
ing stricture ilnposed upon us: the resistance must not be nipped in
the bud. On the contrary, it must be allo,ved to reach full maturity
in the heat of the transference situation. In the case of torpid char-
acter encrustations which have become chronic, the difficulties
cannot be gotten at in any other \vay. To Freud's rule that the
patient has to be led from acting out to remen1bering, from the
conten1porary to the infantile, rnust be added that, before this takes
place, \vhat has been chronically stultified has to attain a ne\v living
reality in the conten1porary transference situation. This is the same
process involved in the healing of chronic inflan1mations-i.e., they
are first made acute by n1eans of irritation-and this is always
necessary in the case of character resistances. In advanced stages of
the analysis, \vhen the analyst is sure of the patient's cooperation,
"irritation therapy," as Ferenczi called it, is no longer as necessary.
One gets the impression that \vhen an analyst reduces a wholly
imn1ahlre hansfercnce sihlation he does so out of fear of the
shesses \vhich arc part and parcel of strong transference resistances.
So, despite one's better theoretical kno\vledge, the resistance is often
regarded as son1ething highly un\velcon1e, as merely disruptive.
This is also the reason for the tendency to circumvent the resistance,
instead of allo\ving it to develop and then attacking it. It seems to
be forgotten that the neurosis itself is contained in the resistance,
that, in dissolving a resistance, \Ve also dissolve a part of the neu-
Allo\ving the resistance to develop is necessary for another
reason. In vie\v of the co1nplicated structure of each resistance, all
its detern1inants and meaningful contents are con1prehended only
with time; and the more thoroughly a resistance situation has been
comprehended, the n1ore successful its interpretation \viii be, quite
apart from the previously tnentioned dynamic factor. The double
Therapy 89

nature of the resistance, its contcn1porary and its historical motives,

requires that the fonns of the ego defense \Vhich it contains n1ust be
brought to con1plete consciousness first. Only after the conternpo-
rary 1neaning of the resistance has become clear should its infantile
origin be interpreted in light of the n1aterial \vhich has been pro-
duced. This also holds true for patients \vho have already revealed
the infantile n1aterial necessary to the understanding of the subse-
quent resistance. In other cases, probably the n1ajority, it is neces-
sary to allo\v the resistance to develop, if only to be able to obtain
the infantile 1naterial in sufficient 1neasure.
Thus, the resistance technique has t\VO aspects: ( 1) coJnpre-
hending the resistance front the conte1nporary situation through
interpretation of its conten1porary 1neaning; ( 2) dissolving the
resistance by linking the ensuing infantile material tvith the con-
teJnporary 1naterial. In this \vay, escape into the contemporary as
\Veil as the infantile situation is easily avoided, inasmuch as both are
given equal consideration in interpretation.
Thus, the resistance, once a therapeutic obstruction, becon1es
the most po\verful vehicle of analysis.

Character analysis in tlze case of abundantly flou;ing nuzterial

In cases in \vhich the patient's character impedes the recall
\Vork fron1 the very beginning, character analysis as described above
is unquestionably indicated as the solely legitimate analytic n1ethod
of introducing the treahnent. But \Vhat about those patients \vhose
characters adn1it of ample recall \vork in the beginning? \Ve are
faced \Vith hvo questions. Is character analysis as we have described
it here also necessarv in these cases? If so, ho\v should the analvsis
~ ~

be introduced? The first question \Vould have to be ans\vered in the

negative if there \Vere any patients \vho did not exhibit character
ar1nor. Ho\vever, since there are no such patients, since the narcis-
sistic protective rnechanisn1 sooner or later becon1es a character
resistance, varying only in intensity and depth, no fundamental
difference exists. There is rnerelv., a circumstantial difference: in
patients \vhose character impedes the recall \vork, the Inechanisin of
90 \VI L HE L ~1 REICH

narcissistic protection and defense lies \Vholly on the surface and

iinmediately appears as a resistance, \Vhereas in the other patients
the protective and defensive n1echanism lies deeper in the person-
ality, so that it is not at all obvious at first. But it is precisely these
patients \Vho are dangerous. \\7ith the fanner, one knows in advance
\Vhere one stands. \Vith the latter, one goes on believing for quite
son1e tin1c that the analysis is progressing very \veil because the
patient seen1s to accept everything very readily; indeed, even sho\VS
signs of in1prove1ncnt, and produces pron1pt reactions to the inter-
pretations. It is \vith such patients that one experiences the greatest
disappointinents. The analysis has been carried out, but there is no
sign of final success. One has used up all one:.s interpretations, is
confident that the prilnal scene and the infantile conflicts have been
made con1pletely conscious; yet the analysis is sh1ck in bleak,
n1onotonous repetitions of the old 1naterial-the cure refusing to
take effect. It is still \Vorse \vhen a transference success deludes the
analyst into thinking that the patient is cured, only to find that he
suffers a complete relapse soon after discharge.
The countless bad experiences with such cases lead me to
believe-a self-evident belief, really-that something has been
neglected, not \Vith regard to content, for the thoroughness of these
analyses leaves little to be desired in this area. vVhat I have in mind
is an unkno,vn and unrecognized, a concealed resistance \Vhich
causes all therapeutic efforts to fail. Closer examination shows that
these concealed resistances are to be sought precisely in the pa-
tient's docility, in his manifestly weak defense against the analysis.
And these analyses, on closer co1nparison with other cases which
succeed, are sho\vn to have followed a steady, even course, never
disrupted by violent affective outbursts, and, above all-something
which did not become clear until the very end-to have been
conducted aln1ost exclusively in a "positive" transference. Seldom or
never had there been violent negative impulses against the analyst.
Although the hate ilnpulscs had been analyzed, they just had not
appeared in the transference or had been ren1en1bered without
affects. The narcissistic affect-lan1e and the passive-fc1ninine charac-
ters arc the prototypes of these cases. The forn1er are characterized
Therapy 91

by a tepid and steady "positive" transference; the latter by an

effusive ccpositive" transference.
So it had to be adtnittcd that in these so-called going cases-
referred to as "going" because they produce infantile material, i.e.,
again on the basis of a one-sided overestin1ation of the contents of
the material-the character had operated as a resistance in a con-
cealed form throughout the entire analysis. Very often these cases
were held to be incurable, or at least difficult to master, an appraisal
for which, fortnerly, I too thought I saw sufficient evidence in my
own expe1iences. Ho\vever, since I gained a kno\vledge of their
concealed resistances, I can consider then1 among n1y n1ost re\vard-
ing cases.
In terms of character analysis, the introductory phase of such
cases differs from other cases in that the flow of the cotntnunications
is not disturbed and the analysis of the character resistance is not
taken up until the flood of material and the behavior itself have
becon1e clearly recognizable resistances.

The theory of the orgasn1 confronted me \Vith this question: what is

to be done with the sexual energy liberated fron1 repression in the
process of cure? The world said no to everything that sexual
hygiene den1anded. The natural instincts are biological facts. They
cannot be done a\vay with and they cannot be fundamentally
changed. Like all living beings, man needs, first and foremost, the
appeasernent of hunger and the gratification of sexual needs. To-
day's society makes the first difficult and frustrates the latter. There
is a glaring contradiction between natural de1nands and certain
social institutions. 1/Ian is itnn1ersed in this contradiction, leans
more toward one side or the other, makes cornpromises that always
backfire, escapes into sickness and death, or rebels senselessly and
fruitlessly against the existing systern. The htunan structure is
molded in these struggles.
Biological as well as sociological dernands are operative in the
human struchrre. Everything that has social standing, title, and
prestige chan1pions the sociological dernands against the natural
demands. I was amazed that the over\vhelming role of natural
detnands could have been so thoroughly overlooked. Even Freud,
\vho of course had discovered essential parts of these demands,
became inconsistent. After 1930, the instincts were n1erely "mythical
qualities" for him. They \vere "indeterminable," though "rooted in
chernical processes." The contradictions were enormous. In clinical
therapeutic work, the instinctual demands determined everything
and society just about nothing. On the other hand, there \Vas no

From The Function of the Orgasm, 1973 (Vol. I of The Discovery of the Or-

Therapy 93

getting a\vay from the fact that "society and culture," representing
the so-called reality principle, also n1ade dernands. True, the in-
stincts unconditionally and over\vhehningly detern1ined existence-
at the sarne time, ho\vever, they had to adapt thernselves to the sex-
negating reality. True, the instincts derived fron1 physiological
sources. At the san1e tilnc, ho\vever, the id had an Eros and a death
instinct \Vhich are engaged in an eternal struggle. The duality in
Freud's concept of instinct \Vas absolute. There was no functional
connection between sexuality and its biological counterpart, the
death instinct. The t\vo \vere rnerely antithetical. Freud psycholo-
gized biology. He said that there \vere "tendencies" in the reahn of
the living \vhich "intended" this and that. This \Vas a metaphysical
point of view. Its criticisn1 \Vas justified by the later experiinental
proof of the sin1ple functional nature of instinctual processes. The
atten1pt to explain neurotic anxiety in tern1s of the concepts of Eros
and the death instinct \Vas not successful. Freud eventually dis-
carded the libido-anxiety theory.
The "partial drives" also created difficulties for Freud's theory
of the instincts. Each one of thern, even those \vhich led to perver-
sions, \Vere said to be biologically detern1ined. Thus, \Vhether he
intended to or not, Freud ultirnately gave credence to n1any views
of hereditary science. And in Freud hilnself, the theory of constitu-
tion gradually began to replace the dynarnic conception of psychic
illness. If a child smashed a glass, this act \Vas said to be the expres-
sion of the destructive instinct. If he often fell do\vn, this \Vas said
to be the effect of the mute death instinct. If his n1other left hirn and
the child played going a\vay and con1ing back, this \vas said to be
the effect of a "repetition cotnpulsion beyond the pleasure prin-
The biological "repetition compulsion" beyond the pleasure
principle \vas supposed to explain masochistic actions. There \vas
supposed to be a \viii to suffer. This fit in \Vith the theory of the
death instinct. In short, Freud applied the la\vs \Vhich he had dis-
covered in the psychic function to their biological foundation. Since,
according to his conception, society is structured like an individual,
psychology became overburdened \vith n1ethodology that could not
94 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

\Vithstand any criticistn and, n1oreover, gave free rein to specula-

tions about "'society and Thanatos." In the process, psychoanalysis
becatne n1ore and more assertive in its clain1 that it could explain all
existence. It sin1ultaneously den1onstrated an ever-gro\ving aversion
to the correct sociological and physiological, as \veil as psychologi-
cal, cotnprehension of one object: n1an. Nonetheless, there could be
no doubt that n1an is distinguished frotn the other animals by a
particular interlacing of biophysiological and sociological processes
\vith psychological processes. The correctness of this structural
principle of 1ny theory \Vas borne out by the solution of the problem
of 1nasochisn1. From then on, piece by piece of the psychic structur<:
\Vas elucidated as a dyna1nic unification of biophysiological and
sociological factors.


For psychoanalysis, the pleasure in suffering pain \Vas the

result of a biological need. "~lasochisn1" \Vas said to be an instinct
like any other instinct, n1ercly directed toward a peculiar goal.
Nothing could be done \Vith this in therapy. For, if the analyst told
the patient that he \Vanted to suffer "for biological reasons," there
\Vas nothing n1ore to be done. The orgasn1otherapeutic task con-
fronted me \Vith the question of \vhy the n1asochist converted the
other\vise clearly understandable desire for pleasure into a desire
for unpleasure. A drastic incident freed me from the false line of
questioning \Vhich had led psychology and sexology astray until
then. In 1928, I treated a completely crushed individual \vho had a
Inasochistic perversion. His incessant con1plaining and his de1nands
to be beaten blocked every attempt to get through to him. After
n1onths of the usual psychoanalytic \vork, my patience gave out.
\Vhen he once again den1anded that I should beat hin1, I asked
\Vhat he \Vould say if I granted his \Vish. He bea1ned blissfully. I
took a n1ler and gave hiin hvo hard \vhacks on his buttocks. He let
out a terrible yell. There \vas no trace of pleasure, and that \Vas the
last I heard of such demands. But he continued to con1plain and
Therapy 95

n1ake reproaches. ~~ y colleagues \Vould have been scandalized if

they had heard of this i11cident. I did not regret it. AJI at once I
understood that pain and unplcasure are not at all, as is contended,
the instinctual goal of the n1asochist. When he is be a ten, the
1nasochist, like any nonnal person, experiences pain. There are
entire industries that thrive upon the false appraisal of rnasochis1n
they help to create. The question ren1ained: if the nwsochist does
not strive for unpleasure, does not experience it pleasurably, tvhy
does he feel cotnpelled to be tonnented? After a great deal of effort,
I discovered the fantasy \Vhich lay at the basis of this perverse
conduct. The nwsochist faHtasizes lze is being torn1ented because he
wants to burst. Only in tlzis tcay does he hope to attain relaxation.
The masochistic con1plaints proved to be the expression of a
torturous and unresolvable inner tension. They are open or con-
cealed pleas of desperation to be released fron1 this instinctual
tension. Since, O\ving to his pleasure anxiety, the ability to experi-
ence gratification through his O\vn initiative and activity is blocked,
the 1nasochist anticipates the orgastic resolution, \vhich he deeply
fears, as a release frotn the outside brought a bout by another
person. The desire to burst is counteracted by a deep fear of burst-
ing. The 1nasochistic character's self-disparagetnent nO\V appeared
in a hitherto unkno\vn light. Self-aggrandizement is, so to speak, a
bio-psychic erection, a fantastic expansion of the psychic apparatus.
A fevv years later I learned that underlying it is the perception of
bio-electric charges. The opposite of this is self-disparagen1ent,
brought about by the fear of expanding to the point of bursting.
Vain an1bition and an inhibited seeking for greatness, rooted in
anxiety, are the driving forces of masochistic self-disparage1nent.
The n1asochist' s provocation of punishn1ent proved to be the expres-
sion of a deep desire to be brought to gratification against his own
vvill. Characterologically n1asochistic \VOrnen could engage in the
sexual act only \vith the fantasy that they were being seduced or
raped. The n1an is supposed to force then1 to do \Vhat they shnul-
taneously desire and fear. To engage in the sexual act of their own
volition is forbidden and laden with severe guilt feelings. The
familiar vindictiveness on the part of the masochist, \vhose self-
96 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

confidence is severely dan1aged, is realized by 1naking the other

person out to be bad, or by provoking hin1 into cn1el behavior.
The idea that the skin, especially the skin of the buttocks,
becomes '\vann," or "is burning," is frequently encountered an1ong
masochists. The desire to be rubbed \Vith a hard brush or to be
beaten until one's skin "bursts" is nothing other than the wish to
bring about the release of a tension through bursting. Thus, the
pain is by no 1ncans the goal of the in1pulse; it is 1nerely an unpleas-
ant experience in achieving release fron1 the unn1istakably real
tension. Masochis1n is the prototype of a secondary drive, and
forcefully de1nonstratcs the result of the repression of the natural
pleasure function.
w1asochists exhibit a special forn1 of orgas1n anxiety. Other
types of patients do not allow a sexual excitation in the genital to
take place, as in C(nnpulsion neurotics, or they take refuge in
anxiety, e.g., hysterical patients. The tnasochist persists in pregenital
stitnulation. He does not elaborate it into neurotic sy1npton1s. This
causes the tension to tnount, and since the ability to experience
relaxation di1ninishcs, there is a corresponding increase in orgasn1
anxiety. Thus the masochist becon1es entangled in a vicious cycle of
the \VOrst kind. The more he desires to extricate hilnself fro1n the
tension, the deeper he sinks into it. At the n10n1ent the orgasm is
supposed to take place, the tnasochistic fantasies becotne n1uch
1nore intense. Often, it is only at this point that they become con-
scious. For instance, the n1an n1ight fantasize that he is being force-
fully dragged through fire; the \VOman that her abdomen is being
slit open or that her vagina is bursting. ~'!any are capable of
experiencing a certain measure of gratification only \vith the aid of
such fantasies. To be forced to burst n1eans. to usc outside help in
order to obtain relief fron1 tension. Since fear of orgastic excitation
is tnet \Vith in every neurosis, tnasochistic fantasies and attitudes are
part of every en1otional iilness.
It \Vas strictly at variance \vith clinical experience to explain
n1asochism as the perception of the inner death instinct or as the
result of "fear of death." ~1asochists develop very little anxiety as
long as they can fantasize n1asochistically. They are imn1ediately
Therapy 97

afraid when a hysteria or con1pulsion neurosis begins to constune

the masochistic fantasies. Pronounced masochism, on the other
hand, is an excellent n1cans of avoiding instinctual anxiety, since it
is al\vays the other person \vho causes the injury. ~foreover, the
hvofold nature of the idea of bursting (desire for and fear of
orgastic release) satisfactorily explains all aspects of the rnasochistic
The desire to explode or burst (or the fear of it), \vhich I
subsequently discovered in all 1ny patients, puzzled n1e. According
to prevailing psychological concepts, a psychic idea has to have a
function and has to have an origin. vVe are in the habit of deducing
ideas fron1 graphic in1pressions. The idea originates in the outside
\Vorld and is transmitted to the organism as a perception through
the sense organs. It derives its energy frorn inner instinctual sources.
No such external origin \vas found for the idea of bursting. Tlus
made it difficult to incorporate it clinically.
Nevertheless, I \vas able to record a number of ilnportant
insights: n1asochisn1 does not correspond to a biological instinct. It
is the result of a disturbance in a person's capacity for gratification
and a continuously unsuccessful atten1pt to correct this disturbance.
It is a result and not a cause of the neurosis. ~fasochisn1 is the
expression of a sexual tension that cannot be relieved. Its iinincdiate
source is the pleasure anxiety or the fear of orgastic discharge. What
characterizes it is that it seeks to bring about precisely \vhat it fears
n1ost deeply: the pleasurable release of tension \vhich is experienced
and feared as bursting or exploding.
Con1prehension of the 1nasochistic n1echanisn1 opened the \vay
for n1e into the field of biology. ~Ian's pleasure anxiety becan1e
understandable as a fundamental change in the physiological func-
tion of pleasure. Suffering and enduring suffering are results of the
loss of the organic capacity for pleasure.
Thus, \vithout intending it, I had hit upon the dynamic nature
of all religions and philosophies of suffering. vVhen, in n1y capacity
as a sex counselor, I carne into contact with n1any Christian people,
I grasped the connection behvecn biological functioning and reli-
gion. Religious ecstasy is patterned precisely according to the
98 \V I L H E L ~~ H E I C H

tnasochistic n1echanisn1. 1\eleasc fron1 inner sin, i.e., fron1 inner

sexual tension-a release \vhich one is not capable of bringing about
by oneself-is expected fro1n God, an all-powerful figure. Such re-
lease is desired \Vith biological energy. At the san1e tin1e, it is ex-
perienced as '"sin." Thus, it cannot be realized through one's own
volition. So1neone else has to accon1plish it, be it in the form of
punishn1ent, pardon, redetnption, etc. vVc have n1orc to say about
this clse\vhere. The rnasochistic orgies of the ~1iddle Ages, the
Inquisition, the chastisetncnts and tortures, the penances, etc., of
the religious betrayed their function. They \Vcre unsuccessful mas-
ochistic attetnpts to attain sexual gratification!
The orgasn1 disturbance of the n1asochist differs fron1 the
orgasn1 disturbance of other neurotics in that, at the rnoment of the
highest excitation, the 111asochist is seized by spasn1 and rnaintains
it. In this \vay a contradiction is created bct\\ CCH the rnarked ex-

pansion that is about to occur and the sudden contraction. All other
forn1s of orgastic i1npotence inhibit before the peak of excitation is
reached. This subtle difference, \vhich \Vould seen1 to be of aca-
dernic interest only, decided the fate of n1y scientific \vork. It is
clear fron1 tny notes between 1928 and a bout 1934 that the ground-
work for 1ny cxperin1ental \Vork in the field of biology, up to the
point of the bion experiincnts, \Vas prepared in this period. It is
ilnpossihlc to describe the whole process. I 1nust simplify, or to put
it in a better way,. I have to describe n1v first fantasies, which I

would never have dared to publish if they had not been confinned
by expcritnental and clinical \Vork over the course of the following
ten years.


I had discovered the fear of bursting and the desire to be

brought to the point of exploding in one case of n1asochistn, then in
all n1asochists, and finally traces of this fear and desire in all
patients \Vithout exception, insofar as they dcn1onstratcd tendencies
to rnasochistic suffering. The refutation of the idea that 1nasochisn1
Therapy 99

is a biological instinct like other sexual instincts extended far

beyond the critique of Freud's theory of the death instinct. As I
have already pointed out, I \Vas continually grappling \Vith the
question of the origin of the idea of "bursting," \vhich regularly
emerged in all patients shortly before the attainment of orgastic
potency. In rnost patients, this idea enters consciousness as a kines-
thetic perception of the condition of one's O\vn body. When it is
clearly delineated, it is al\vays accornpanied by the idea of a taut
bladder. Patients con1plain of "being tense to the point of bursting,"
"filled to the point of exploding." They feel then1selves to be "blo\vn
up." They fear any attack upon their arn1oring because it rnakes
then1 feel as if they \Vere being "pricked open." Sorne patients said
they were afraid of "dissolving," of "melting," of losing their "grip
on then1selves" or their ''contour." They clung to the rigid arn1orings
of their n1oven1ents and attitudes like a drowning rnan to a ship's
plank. The n1ost cherished \vish of others \Vas "to burst." This ac-
counts for many suicides. The more acute the sexual tension be-
con1es, the more rnarkcdly these sensations are experienced. They
pron1ptly disappear as soon as the orgasn1 anxiety has been elirni-
nated and sexual relaxation can take place. vVhen this happens, the
hard character traits subside, the person becomes "soft" and "yield-
ing," and sin1ultaneously develops an elastic strength. The crisis of
every successful character analysis al,vays sets in precisely at that
point when po\verful preorgastic sensations are hindered from
pursuing an orderly course by anxiety-induced spasn1s of the mus-
culature. If excitation has mounted to the highest peak and requires
complete discharge, then the spasm of the pelvic n1usculature has
the sarne effect as pulling the emergency brake of a car while travel-
ing at seventy-five miles per hour; everything is thrown into confu-
sion. The same thing happens to the patient in a genuine process of
cure. He is faced with the decision of wholly discarding the inhibit-
ing somatic mechanisn1 or relapsing into his neurosis. The neurosis
is nothing other than the sum total of all chronically automatic
inhibitions of natural sexual excitation. Everything else is the result
of this original disturbance. In 1929, I began to comprehend that
the original conflict in n1ental illness (the unresolved contradiction
100 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

behveen striving for pleasure and moralistic frustration of pleasure)

is physiologically and structurally anchored in a muscular distur-
bance. The psychic contradiction betu;een sexuality and morality
operates in the biological depth of the organis1n as the contradiction
betu;een pleasurable excitation and muscular spasm. The masochis-
tic attitudes assun1ed great in1portance for the sex-economic theory
of neuroses: there could not be a better example of this contradic-
tion. Cornpulsion neurotics and hysterics, \Vho circun1vent the or-
gastic sensation by developing anxiety or neurotic symptoms,
regularly go through a phase of n1asochistic suffering in the process
of cure. They go through it \Vhen the fear of sexual excitation has
been elirninated to such an extent that they yield to the preorgastic
excitation in the genitals, \Vithout, ho\vever, allo\ving the climax of
the excitation to take place free of inhibition, i.e., free of anxiety.
Moreover, n1asochisn1 became a central problem of mass psy-
chology. Ho'v it \Vould be practically dealt \Vith seen1ed of decisive
importance. The \vorking masses suffer severe deprivations of all
kinds. They are ruled over and exploited by a fe\v people \vho \Vield
power. In the form of the ideology and practice of various patri-
archal religions, masochisn1 proliferates like \Veeds and chokes every
natural claim of life. It holds people in an abysmal state of submis-
sion. It th,varts their atten1pts to arrive at a common rational action
and in1bues them \Vith fear of assuming responsibility for their
existence. It causes the best strivings to\vard the den1ocratization of
society to fail. Freud explained the chaotic and catastrophic nature
of social conditions on the basis of a death instinct, \vhich \Vreaked
havoc in society. Psychoanalysts contended that the masses \Vere
biologically masochistic. A punitive police force, some said, was a
natural expression of biological mass rnasochism. People are in fact
subn1issive to the authoritarian leadership of the state in the same
way that the individual is obedient to the all-po\verful father. Since,
however, the rebellion against dictatorial authority, against the
father, \Vas regarded as neurotic, \vhereas conformity to its institu-
tions and den1ands \vas regarded as norn1al, proofs against both
these contentions \Vere needed: first, that there is no biological
n1asochisn1; second, that conforn1ity to present-day reality, e.g.,
Therapy 101

irrational upbringing or irrational politics, is itself neurotic. I did

not tackle the \Vork \vith this intent in 1nind. In the interplay of
manifold observations, far fron1 the raging clash of ideologies, these
two proofs \vere found. They \Vcre discovered in the siinple ans\ver
to an almost stupid question: llotv tvould an organic bladder
behave if it were inflated tcit7l air from tcithin and teas unable to
burst-in other \vords, if its cove1ing \vere capable of being
stretched but not of being torn?
The picture of the htunan character as an armor around the
core of the living organisn1 \Vas extremely signicant. If such a
bladder \Vere put into an unresolvable condition of tension and it
could express itself, it \Vould con1plain. Rendered helpless, it \Vould
seek the causes of its suffering outside of itself and n1ake re-
proaches. It \Vould beg to be pricked open. It \vould provoke its
surroundings until it believed it had reached its goal. What it had
failed to bring about spontaneously jro1n the inside, it would
passively and helplessly expect fron~ the outside.
Bearing this picture of an arn1ored bladder in mind, let us
imagine a biopsychic organisn1 whose energy discharge is impaired.
The surface membrane \vould be the character arn1or. The stretch-
ing is produced by the constant production of internal energy
(sexual energy or biological excitation). The biological energy
urges to\vard the outside, \Vhether to seek pleasurable discharge or
to seek contact \Vith people and things. Thus, this urge to expand
corresponds to the direction fron~t tvithin outtvard. The surrounding
\Vall of the armor counteracts this urge. The armor not only pre-
vents the bursting, it exerts a pressure from the outside to\vard the
inside. Rigidification of the organisn1 is its ultin1ate effect.
This picture coincided \Vith the physical processes of internal
pressure and surface tension. I had come into contact \Vith this
phenomenon in 1926, \vhen I revie\ved the highly significant book
by Fr. Kraus,! the fan1ous Berlin pathologist, for the psychoanalytic
The neurotic organisn1 could be readily con1pared to such a
1 Fr. Kraus, Allge1neine und spezielle Pathologie der Person. I. Teil, Tiefen-
person (Leipzig: Thien1e, 1926).
102 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

ST =surface tension

IP =internal pressure

si1nple systen1 as that of a taut and, at the same time, peripherally

annored bladder. This curious analogy behveen a physical phe-
non1enon and the \vell-kno\vn characterological situation stood the
test of clinical scrutiny. The neurotic patient has developed a "stiff"
body periphery, while retaining a lively inner core. He feels "un-
con1fortable 'vithin his O\vn skin," "inhibited," unable to "realize
hin1self," as if he '\verc iinn1ured," '\vithout contact," "tense to the
point of bursting." He strives with all available means "toward the
\Vorld," but it is as if he '\vere tied do\vn.'' Nlore than that, his
efforts to con1c into contact \vith life are often so painful, he is so ill
equipped to endure the difficulties and disappointn1ents of life, that
he prefers "to crawl into hitnself." Thus, the direction of the biologi-
cal function "tou;ard the tvorld," ''front the inside toward the out-
side," is counteracted hy a "moving atvay from the world," a
"tvithdratval into the self."
This equation bet\veen the highly con1plicated and the simple
was fascinating. The neurotically arrnored organism cannot burst
like an ordinary bladder to rid itself of its inner tension. It can
becon1e '"tnasochistic" or it can "recover," i.e., pennit the orgastic
discharge of dan11ned-up energy. This orgastic discharge consists in
a reduction of the inner tension by n1cans of a '"discharge toward
the outside," in the forn1 of convulsions of the entire body. It \vas
Therapy 103

still not clear what \Vas discharged to\vard the outside. I \Vas still a
long \vay from the present insight into the functioning of biological
I also conceived of the orgasm, \Vith its discharge of substances
from the body, as proliferations fron1 a highly taut bladder. Follo\v-
ing this discharge, both the surface tension and the inner pres-
sure are reduced. It \vas clear that the ejaculation of semen alone
could not be responsible for this, for the pleasureless ejaculation
does not reduce the tension. I have never regretted this speculation.
It led me to very concrete facts.
I remember in this connection an insignificant but impressive
incident which took place in 1922. It \vas before the Berlin Congress
of Psychoanalysts. I had, still entirely under the influence of Semon
and Bergson, fabricated a natural-scientific fantasy. One has, I told
friends, to take Freud's conception of the "sending out of libido"
literally and seriously. Freud compared the stretching forth and
pulling back of psychic interests to the stretching forth and pulling
back of the pseudopodia in the amoeba. The sbetching forth of
sexual energy becon1cs visible in the erection of the male penis.
Hence, the erection rnust be functionally identical with the stretch-
ing forth of the pseudopodia of the amoeba. On the other hand,
erective impotence, in which the penis shrinks, as a result of anxiety,
would be identical \Vith the retraction of the pseudopodia. My
friends were appalled at what they considered to be confused think-
ing. They laughed at n1e, and I \Vas hurt. But thirteen years later I
succeeded in experhnentally confirming this assumption. I now
want to describe ho\v n1y findings led me to this confirmation.



The equating of the erection with the protrusion of pseudo-

podia and of the shrinking of the penis \Vith their \Vithdra\val
caused n1e to assun1e a functional antithesis between sexuality and
anxiety. The antithesis \Vas expressed in the direction of biological

activity. I could no longer free myself from this idea. Since every-
thing I had learned from Freud about the psychology of instincts
\Vas in a state of flux, this iinage tied in \vith the deeply serious
question as to the biological basis of psychic processes. Freud had
postulated a physiological foundation for depth psychology. His
"unconscious" was deeply in1n1ersed in biophysiological phenomena.
In the psychic depth, the clear psychic tendencies gave way to a
highly 1nysterious n1echanisn1, \vhich could not be grasped by
psychoanalytic thinking alone. Freud had tried to apply the psychic
concepts to the sources of life. This had to lead to a personification
of the biological processes and bring back n1etaphysical assump-
tions \Vhich had been previously dispelled fron1 psychoanalytic
thinking. I had learned in the study of the orgasn1 function that, in
the physiological realm, it is inad1nissible to use the same approach
and concepts one uses in the psychic realn1. In addition to its causal
legitimacy, every psychic phenon1enon has a n1eaning in terms of its
relationship to the environment. The psychoanalytic interpretation
revealed this 1neaning. But in the physiological reahn, there is no
such meaning, nor can there be, \Vithout reintroducing a supernatu-
ral po\ver. The living merely functions. It does not have any
. ,,
Natural science tries to exclude n1etaphysical hypotheses. Yet,
\vhen one cannot explain \vhy and ho\V the living organisn1 func-
tions, one looks for a "purpose" or a "1neaning," \Vhich is then
inhoduced into the functioning. I again found myself grappling
\Vith the problems of the early period of my \vork, the problems of
mechanism and vitalism. I avoided giving a speculative ans\ver. I
still did not have a method \Vith \vhich to arrive at a correct solution
of this problem. I \vas familiar \vith dialectical materialism, but I
did not kno\v ho\v I could apply it in natural-scientific research.
True, I had given a functional interpretation to Freud's discoveries.
But to make the idea of the physiological foundation of psychic
phenomena practically applicable, I had to discover the correct
n1ethod. That the so1na influences the psyche is correct, but it is one-
sided. The reverse of this, i.e., that the psyche conditions the son1a,
can be seen again and again. To enlarge the psychic realn1 to such
Therapy 105

an extent as to n1ake its la,vs valid in the son1atic does not \vork.
The concept that the psychic and the somatic \vere two independent
processes, \vhich n1erely interact \Vith one another, \Vas at variance
\Vith everyday experience. I had no solution. Ho,vevcr, this much
\vas clear: the experience of pleasure, of expansion, is inseparably
connected with living functioning.
At this point, my ne\v conception of the masochistic function
aided me. The thought ran as follo,vs: the psyche is detem1ined by
quality, the son1a by quantity. In the former, it is the kind of idea or
desire which is important; in the latter, it is solely the amount of the
functioning energy \vhich is important. Yet, the processes in the
organisn1 den1onstrated that the quality of a psychic attitude is
dependent upon the an1ount of the sornatic excitation from tvhich it
der-ives. In a condition of strong son1atic tension, the idea of sexual
pleasure and sexual intercourse is intense, colorful, graphic. After
gratification, this idea can be reproduced only with difficulty. I
formed an in1age of this as an ocean \vave \vhich, by its rising and
falling, influences the 1novement of a piece of wood on the surface.
It \Vas nothing n1ore than a vague clue that the psyche arises from
or sinks into the deep biophysiological process, depending upon the
state of the latter. It seen1ed to n1e that the appearance and dis-
appearance of consciousness in the act of waking and going to sleep
were expressive of this \Vave process. It was vague, elusive. It was
merely clear that biological energy governs the psychic as well as
the so1natic. A functional unity prevails. To be sure, while it is
possible for biologicalla\vs to be valid in the psychic realn1, psychic
characteristics cannot be valid in the biological realm. This forced
me to reconsider the Freudian hypothesis pertaining to the instincts.
Imagination is undoubtedly a psychic process. There are un-
conscious ideas \vhich can be inferred fron1 their visible manifesta-
tions. According to Freud, the unconscious itself cannot be grasped.
Yet, if it is "in1n1ersed" in the biophysiological reabn, it n1ust be
possible to grasp it \Vith a method applicable to the con1n1on factor
\Vhich detern1ines the biopsychic apparatus as a \vhole. This com-
mon factor cannot be the "n1eaning," nor can it be the 'j;purpose."
These are secondary functions. Vie\ved from a consistently func-

tional point of vie\v, there is no purpose or goal in the biological

realm. There is only functioning and developnwnt, \Vhich follow a
natural course. There remained the dynamic structure, the play of
forces. This \vas valid in all reahns. One could hold on to it. vVhat
psychology calls "tension" and "relaxation" is a counterplay of
forces. ~Iy idea of the bladder, as silnple as it \vas, \vas definitely in
keeping \vith the idea of the unity of the soma and the psyche. But
apart from the unity, there \Vas also antithesis. This thought \Vas the
gern1 of n1y theory of sexuality.
In 1924, I had assurned that in the orgasm an excitation concen-
trates at the periphery of the organism, particularly in the genital
organs, then flo\vs back into the vegetative center and subsides
there. Unexpectedly, a train of thought \vas completed. \Vhat
appeared earlier as psychic excitation no\v emerged as a biophysio-
logical current. The internal pressure and surface tension of a
bladder are, after all, nothing other than functions of the center and
periphery of an organism. They are functionally antithetical; they
are opposed to one another. The "fate" of the bladder depends upon
the relationship bet\vecn internal pressure and surface tension, just

Soma Psyche

Psychosomatic antithesis

Psychosomatic identity

..,.___Source of biological energy

Diagram depicting psychosomatic identity and antithesis

Therapy 107

as psychic health depends upon the balance of energy in the sexual

sphere. "Sexuality'' could he nothing other than the biological func-
tion of expansion ''out of the self," front the center tou:ard the
periphery. In turn~ anxiety could be nothing hut the recersed direc-
tion, i.e., fro1n the periphery to the center, "back into the self." They
are antithetical directions of one and the san1e excitation process.
This theory \Vas quickly substantiated by a profusion of clinical
findings. In sexual excitation, the peripheral vessels are dilated. In
anxiety, one senses a centralized inner tension as if one \vould burst;
the peripheral vessels are contracted. The sexually aroused penis
expands. In anxiety, it retracts. The sources of functioning energy
lie in the "biological energy center." It is at the periphery that \Ve
find its areas of functioning, in contact \Vith the "'orld, in the sexual
act, in orgastic discharge, in \vork, etc.
These findings \Vere already outside the fran1e\vork of psycho-
analysis. They shattered a nu1nher of previous conceptions. The
psychoanalysts could not grasp \vhat I \vas saying, and my position
\vas too controversial. Hence, it beca1nc increasingly difficult to
allo\V 1ny vic\vs to exist in the san1e organization. Freud had re-
jected the atte1npt to include the libido process in the autonon1ic
systen1. As a prorninent psychoanalyst, I \Vas not on particularly
good tenns \vith the orthodox psychiatrists and other clinicians.
0\ving to their n1echanistic and non-analytic \vay of thinking, they
\vould have co1nprehended very little of \vhat I \vas saying. The
newly born theory of sexuality found itself utterly alone. I \Vas
consoled by the nun1crous confinnations of 1ny vie\v \Vhich I found
in experin1cntal physiology. Nl y theory seen1cd capable of reducing
to the sin1plest terrns the diverse findings accurnulated by genera-
tions of physiologists. .A.t the center stood the antithesis bettceen
sy1npathetic and parasympathetic.


So1ne sixty years of sexology, forty years of psychoanalysis, and

ahnost t\venty years of n1y O\Vn \vork on the orgasn1 theory still had

not succeeded in providing the clinician ( \Vho \Vas supposed to cure

hun1an sexual disturbances, i.e., neuroses) vvith an answer to this
question. Let us recall the point of departure of the orgasm theory.
Neuroses and functional psychoses are sustained by surplus, inade-
quately discharged sexual energy. Initially it was called "psychic
energy." No one kne\v what it really was. Psychic illnesses were
undoubtedly rooted "in the body." Hence, there was good reason to
assun1e that the psychic proliferations \Vere nourished by an energy
stasis. Only the elilnination of this energy source of the neurosis
through the establishtnent of full orgastic potency seemed to make
the patient immune against a relapse. There could be no thought of
preventing psychic illnesses on a mass scale vvithout a knowledge of
the biological foundation of these illnesses. The premise (CGiven
gratifying sexuality, there are no neurotic disturbances" was un-
assailable. Naturally, this contention had individual as well as social
implications. The significance of the sexual question is obvious. Yet,
in spite of Freud, official science \Vanted to kno\v nothing about the
implication of sexuality. Psychoanalysis itself showed an increasing
tendency to shrink a\vay fron1 the question. In addition, the ques-
tion \vas imbued \Vith the outpourings of a pathological, distorted,
someho\v al,vays pornographically tinged "sexuality," i.e., \Vith the
sexuality \vhich governs htnnan life. The clear-cut distinction be-
tween "natural" sexual expression and pathological, culturally
anchored sexual expression, bet\veen the "prilnary" drives and the
"se~ondary" drives, n1ade it possible to persist and to pursue the
problem to its core. Reflection alone would not have produced a
solution, nor \vould the collation of the many brilliant insights in
modern physiological literature that, from about 1925, appeared in
increasing abundance and \vere condensed and compiled in Mul-
ler's Die Lebensnerven.
Once again, clinical observation provided the correct line of
approach. In Copenhagen, in 1933, I treated a man \vho offered
considerable resistance to the uncovering of his passive homosexual
fantasies. This resistance \Vas overtly expressed in the extremely stiff
attitude of his throat and neck ("stiff-necked''). A concentrated
Therapy 109

attack on his defense finally caused hitn to yield, though in an

alarming \vay. For three days, he \vas shaken by acute manifesta-
tions of vegetative shock. The pallor of his face changed rapidly
from white to yellow to blue. His skin was spotted and n1otley. He
experienced violent pains in the neck and back of the head. His
heartbeat \vas rapid and pounding. lie had diarrhea, felt tired, and
seemed to have lost conbol. I \Vas uneasy. True, I had often seen
sinular symptoms, but never in such violent forn1. Son1ething had
happened here that, \vhile sorncho\v a legitin1ate part of the work,
was not in1rnediately intelligible. Affects had broken through so-
matically after the patient had relinquished his attitude of psychic
defense. Apparently, the stiff neck, \Vhich ernphasized austere mas-
culinity, had bound vegetative energies which now broke loose in
an uncontrolled and chaotic n1anner. A person with an ordered
sexual economy is not capable of such a reaction. Only continuous
inhibition and darnn1ing up of biological energy can produce it. The
musculature had served the function of inhibition. \Vhen the neck
rnuscles relaxed, powerful in1pulses, as if unleashed frorn a taut coil,
broke through. The alternating pallor and flushing of the face could
be nothing other than the flowing back and forth of body fluids, i.e.,
the contraction and dilation of the blood vessels. This fit extremely
\veil with my earlier described views on the functioning of biologi-
cal energy. The direction "out of the self toward the world" alter-
nated rapidly and continuously with the opposite direction, "away
from the world-back into the self."
By means of tensions, the musculature can obstruct the flow of
blood; in other \vords, can reduce the movement of body fluids to a
minimum. I checked a nurnber of other patients to see whether this
observation held true in their cases too, and I also thought about
patients \Vhom I had treated earlier. All observations confirn1ed this
phenomenon. In a short time, I had a profusion of facts at my
disposal. They reduced thernselves to a concise forrnulation: sexual
life energy can be bound by chronic 1nuscular tensions. Anger and
anxiety can also be blocked by 1nuscular tensions. Frorn no\v on, I
found that \vhenever I dissolved a muscular tension, one of the
110 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

three basic biological excitations of the body, anxiety, hate, or sexual

excitation, broke through. I had, of course, succeeded in doing this
before through the loosening of purely characterological inhibitions
and attitudes. But no\v the breakthroughs of vegetative energy were
rnorc con1plete, rnore forceful, experienced tnorc affectively, and
occurred rnore rapidly. In the process, the characterological inhibi-
tions were loosened spontaneously. These findings, 1nade in 1933,
\Verc published in an incomplete forn1 in 193.5. In 1937, I published
then1 in tnore detail.~ Quite rapidly, a number of decisive questions
pertaining to the relationship bet\\'een mind and body were
Character arn1orings were no\v seen to be functionally identical
\Vith n1uscular hypertoQia. The concept "functional identity," \vhich
I had to introduce, n1eans nothing n1ore than that muscular atti-
tudes and character attitudes have the san1e function in the psychic
mechanisn1: they can replace one another and can be influenced by
one another. Basically, they cannot be separated. They are identical
in their function.
Postulations resulting fron1 the connecting of facts ilnmediately
led to further findings. If the character arrnor could be expressed
through the rnuscular arn1or, and vice versa, then the unity of
psychic and sotnatic functioning had been grasped in principle, and
could he influenced in a practical \Va y. From that time on, I \Vas
able to n1ake practical use of this unity \vhenever necessary. If a
character inhibition did not respond to psychic influencing, I re-
sorted to the corresponding son1atic attitude. Conversely, if I had
difficulty in getting at a disturbing so1natic attitude, I worked on its
expression in the patient's character and was able to loosen it. I was
no\v able to elin1inatc a typical friendly smile \Vhich obstntcted the
analytic work, either by describing the expression or by directly
disturbing the n1uscular attitude, e.g., pulling up the chin. This was
an enortnous step fot\-vard. It took another six years to develop this
technique into the vegetotherapy of today.
2 Cf. Reich, Psychischer Kontakt und vegetatice Stromung ( Sexpol Verlag,
1935); and Orgasmusreflex, J.1uskelhaltung und Korperausdruck ( Sexpol Verlag,
1937 ).
Therapy Ill

The loosening of the rigid muscular attih1des produced pecu-

liar body sensations in the patients: involuntary tren1bling and
t\vitching of the muscles, sensations of cold and hot, itching, the
feeling of sitting on pins and needles, prickling sensations, the feel-
ing of having the jitters, and so1natic perceptions of anxiety, anger,
and pleasure. I had to break \vith all the old ideas about the mind-
body relationship, if I \vanted to grasp these pheno1nena. They were
not "results,'' "causes," "accon1panying 1nanifestations" of "psychic
processes:>'; they \Vere siinply these phenomena the1nselves in the
son1atic reahn. I categorized as ''vegetative currents" all somatic
phenomena \vhich, in contrast to rigid muscular armorings, are
characterized by n1ove1neut. Inunediately the question arose: are
these vegetative currents merely the 1novements of fluid or are they
n1ore than that? I could not be satisfied \Vith the explanation that
these currents \vere n1erely 1nechanical n1ove1nents of fluid. While
these purely 1nechanical 1noven1ents could account for the hot and
cold sensations, pallor, and blushing, the "siinn1ering of the blood,''
etc., they could not explain the feeling of sitting on pins and
needles, the sensation of prickling, shuddering, the sweet preor-
gastic sensations of pleasure, etc. The crucial proble1n of orgastic
in1potence was still unsolved: it is possible for the genital organs to
be filled \vith blood \Vithout a trace of excitation. Hence, sexual
excitation can certainly not be identical \Vith or be the expression of
the flo\v of blood. There are anxiety states without any particular
pallor of the face or skin. The feeling of ''tightness" in the chest
( "angustiae," anxiety), the feeling of ''constriction," could not be
traced back solely to a congestion of blood in the central organs. If
this \Vere so, one \Vould have to feel anxiety after a good 1neal, \Vhen
the blood is concenhated in the sto1nach. In addition to the flo\v of
blood, there 1nust be something else \vhich, depending upon its
biological function, causes anxiety, anger, or pleasure. In this pro-
cess, the flo\v of blood merely represents an essential means. Perhaps
this unknown "something" does not occur \vhen the n1oven1ent of
the bodv fluids is hindered.



The unkno\vn "son1ething" I \vas looking for could be nothing

other than bio-electricity. This occurred to me one day when I tried
to understand the physiology of the process of friction which takes
place behveen the penis and the walls of the vaginal rnucous mem-
brane in the sexual act. Sexual friction is a fundamental biological
process. It is found throughout the anin1al kingdom wherever
reproduction takes place in the union of the t\VO sexes. T\vo surfaces
of the body rub against one another. In this process, biological
excitation occurs, together \Vith congestion, expansion, "erection."
On the basis of pioneer experiments, the Berlin internist Kraus
ascertained that the body is governed by electrical processes. It is
made up of countless "border surfaces'' between n1embranes and
electrolytic fluids, having various densities and cornpositions. Ac-
cording to a \vell-kno\vn law of physics, electrical tensions develop
at the borders behveen conducting fluids and me1nbranes. Since the
concentrations and structure of the membranes are not homoge-
neous, differences develop in the tensions at the border surfaces,
and, simultaneously, differences in potential of varying intensity.
These differences of potential n1ay be likened to the energy differ-
ences of t\vo bodies at different heights. The body having the higher
elevation is capable of perfon11ing n1ore \Vork as it drops than the
body having the lo\ver elevation. A \veight of one kilogra1n will
drive a stake deeper into the earth \vhen it is dropped frorn a height
of three meters than when it is dropped frotn a height of one meter.
The "potential energy of position" is higher, and therefore, the
"kinetic energy" which is generated \viii also be greater, when this
potential energy is released. The principle of ''potential difference"
can be easily applied to the difference in electrical tensions. If I
attach a \Virc from a highly charged body to a less highly charged
one, a current will flow fron1 the first to the second. In this process,
static electrical energy is converted into current energy. ~Ioreover,
Therapy 113

an equalization takes place between the hvo charges, in the same

way that the \Vater level in t\vo vessels becomes the same if I
connect the two by means of a pipe. The equalization of energy
presupposes a difference in potential energy. Our body consists of
billions of such potential surfaces having various potential energies.
Consequently, the energy in the body is in constant motion frotn
places of higher to places of lo\ver potential. The tiny particles of
body fluids, the ions, are the transmitters of the electrical charges in
this continuous process of equalization. These are atoms which
possess a fixed quanturn of electrical charge and, depending upon
whether they are moving to\vard a negative or toward a positive
pole, are called cations or anions. What has all this to do with the
problen1 of sexuality? A great deal.
Sexual tension is felt throughout the body, but it is experienced
most shongly in the regions of the heart and the abdomen. The
excitation gradually becon1es concentrated in the sexual organs.
They become filled with blood, and electrical charges reach the
surface of the genitals. We know that the sexual excitation of one
part of the body by a gentle touch \viii excite other parts of the
body. The process of friction increases the tension or excitation until
it reaches a clitnax, the orgasn1, a condition characterized by invol-
untary convulsions of the musculature of the genitals and of the
entire body. It is kno\vn that muscular contraction is accompanied
by the discharge of electrical energy. This discharge can be mea-
sured and represented in the form of a graphic ~urve. Some
physiologists are of the opinion that the nerves store up excitation,
\vhile the muscle contraction discharges it, for it is not the nerve but
only the muscle \vhich can contract and is capable of discharging
energy. In the process of sexual friction, energy is at first stored up
in both bodies and then discharged in the orgasn1. The orgasn1 can
be nothing other than an electrical discharge. The physiological
structure of the genital organs is particularly suited for this: great
vascularity, dense ganglia, capacity for erection, and a n1usculature
which is especially capable of spontaneous contractions.
If the process is investigated n1ore closely, it is observed that
there are four stages to the course of excitation:
114 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

1. The organs becon1e filled \Vith fluid: erection \Vith n1echani-

cal tension.
2. This produces a strong excitation \vhich I assun1ed to be of
an electrical nature: electrical charge.
3. In the orgas1n, the n1usculature convulsion discharges the
electrical charge or sexual excitation: electrical discharge.
4. This n1odulates into a relaxation of the genitals through a
flo,ving off of the body fluid: 1nechanicalrelaxation.
I called this four-beat process the orgasm fornlula: l\IECHANICAL
The process it describes can be depicted silnply. This brings me
back to the function of a filled elastic bladder \Vhich I had fanta-
sized six years prior to the discovery of the orgasn1 forn1ula.
Let us irnagine t\vo spheres: one is rigid, n1ade of metal; the
other elastic, something like a living organism, an an1oeba, a star-
fish, a heart.
The n1ctal sphere \vould be hollo\v, \vhercas the organic sphere
would surround a co1nplicated systen1 of fluids and n1e1nbranes of
Inorganic Living


Body fluids
Ganglia (centra I
generator of
Rigid energy)
Skin and muse les
Electrical energy Electrical energy

Fig. 1 Fig. 2

Electrical energy~ on the surface Electrical energy: throughout

only, evenly distributed, charged whole body, unevenly distributed,
from the outside; the entire system supplied from its own inner source;
is rigid. the entire system is capable of
expanding and contracting.

Diagnun depicting inorganic and organic living spheres

Therapy 115

various densities having the ability to conduct electricity. The metal

sphere \vould receive its electrical charge fron1 the outside, e.g.,
from an electrostatic machine. But the organic sphere, e.g., a pig's
bladder, \vould have a charging apparatus \vhich operates auto-
matically in the center. Hence, it \vould charge itself spontaneously
from the inside. In keeping \Vith basic la\vs of physics, the electric
charge of the tnetal sphere \vould be on the surface and only on the
surface, evenly distributed. The filled clastic bladder would be
electrically charged through and through. Q,ving to the differences
in density and the nature of the fluids and tnetnbranes, the charge
\vould be greater in son1e areas and less in others. In this ideally
conceived organisn1, the electrical charges \vould be in constant
movement frotn places of higher to places of lo\ver potential. In
general, ho,vever, one direction \VOuld predotninate: from the
center, the operative source of the electrical charge, to\vard the
periphery. Consequently, the bladder \vould be found n1ost fre-
quently in the condition of expansion and extension. Now and then,
like the ciliate, it \vould return to the forn1 of the sphere, in \vhich,
given equal body content, the surface tension is lowest. If the inner
production of energy becomes too great, the bladder can, by con-
tracting a number of titnes, discharge the energy toward the out-
side, in short, can regulate its energy. This energy discharge \vould
be extremely pleasurable because it liberates the organism from
dammed-up tension. In the state of extension, the bladder \vould be
able to carry out vadous rhythtnic movetnents, e.g., produce a \vave
of alternating expansion and contraction, as in the movement of a
worm or in intestinal peristalsis.

It could also describe a wavy, serpentine movetnent, using the

entire body.
116 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

In these movements, the charged organic bladder would display a

unity. If it \Vere capable of self-perception, it would experience the
rhythtnic alternation of extension, expansion, and contraction in a
pleasurable way. It \vould feel like a small child who hops around
rhytlunically because he is happy. In the course of these move-
ments, bio-electrical energy \Vould continually oscillate between
tension-charge and discharge-relaxation. It \vould be able to convert
itself into heat, into Inechanical kinetic energy, or into \Vork. Such a
bladder \vould feel at one with its surroundings, the \vorld, things,
just like a small child. There would be direct contact with other
organic spheres, for they would identify with one another on the
basis of the sensations of moven1ent and rhythm. Contempt for
natural moven1ents would be foreign to them, just as they would
have no comprehension of unnatural behavior. Development would
be provided for and guaranteed through the continuous production
of internal energy, as in the budding of flo\vers, or progressive cell
division after the introduction of energy by fertilization. Moreover,
there would be no end to the development. Achievement would be
within the franle\vork of general biological activity; it would not be
at variance \Vith it.
Longitudinal extension over longer periods of time would cause
this shape to becotne fixed and thereby bring about the develop-
ment of a supportive apparatus in the organism. While this fixed
extension would preclude a return to the spherical fon.n, pulsating
by means of flexion and stretching would continue undisturbed.
This \vould guarantee the metabolisrn of energy. To be sure, a fixed
supportive apparatus \vould already constitute one of the precondi-
tions of being less protected against destructive inhibitions of
n1otility. Ho\vevcr, it \vould not be an inhibition itself. Such an
inhibition could only be compared to the restricting of a snake at
Therapy 117

one point of its body. Held fast, a snake 'vould in1mediately lose its
rhythn1 and the unity of the organic 'vave n1oven1ents in the remain-
ing free parts of its body.

The animal body is coinparable to the above-described organic

bladder. To con1plete the picture, 've 'vould have to introduce an
automatically operating pumping systen1, like a heart, vvhich causes
the fluid to flo,v in a continuously rhythn1ic cycle, fro1n the center to
the periphery and back again: the cardiovascular systen1. The
anin1al body at the very lo,vcst stage of development possesses an
apparatus that generates electricity fron1 the center. These are the
so-called vegeta.tiue ganglia, conglon1erations of nerve cells 'vhich,
arranged at regular intervals and connected 'vith all organs and
their parts by n1eans of very fine strands, govern the involuntary life
functions. They are the organs of vegetative feelings and sensations.
They constitute a coherent unity, a so-called "syncytiuin," 'vhich is
divided into t'vo antithetically functioning groups: the sy1npathetic
and the parasyrnpathetic.
Our in1agined bladder can expand and contract. It can expand
to an extraordinary degree and then, 'vith a fe,v contractions, relax.
It can be flaccid, tense, relaxed, or excited. It can concentrate the
electrical charges, together 'vith the fluids 'vhich trans1nit then1
fron1 one place to another, with varying intensity. It can keep
certain parts in a state of continuous tension and other parts in a
state of continuous n1otion. If one \vere to squeeze it in one part,
increased tension and charge 'vould in11nediately appear in another
part. If, indeed, one vvere to exert and maintain continuous pressure
over the entire surface, i.e., prevent it fron1 expanding in spite of
continuous inner production of energy, it 'vould be ir.. a perpetual
118 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

state of aiLxiety; that is to say, it \vould feel constricted and con-

fined. Were it able to speak, it would beg for "release, frorn this
torrnenting condition. The bladder \vould not care \vhat happened
to it as long as 1novcn1ent and change \Vere reintroduced into its
rigid, con1pressed condition. Since it \vould not be able to bring
about this change of its O\Vn accord, son1eone else \Vould have to do
it, e.g., by tossing it around in space ( gyn1nastics); by kneading
( n1assage); by stabbing, if need be (fantasy of being pricked
open); by injury ( n1asochistic beating fantasy, hara-kiri); and, if
nothing else helps, by dissolving, perishing, disintegrating
(Nirvana, sacrificial death). A society consisting of such bladders
\Vould create the n1ost idealistic philosophies about the "condition
of non-suffering." Since any stretching out toward pleasure, or
motivated by pleasure, could be experienced only as painful, the
bladder would develop a fear of pleasurable excitation (pleasure
anxiety) and create theories on the '\vickedness," "sinfulness," and
"destructiveness" of pleasure. In short, it would be a twentieth-
century ascetic. Evenh1ally, it would be afraid of any reminder of
the possibility of the so ardently desired relaxation; then it would
hate such a rerninder, and finally it would prosecute and murder
anyone \vho spoke about it. It would join together with sin1ilarly
constituted, peculiarly stiff beings and concoct rigid rules of life.
These rules would have the sole function of guaranteeing the
smallest possible production of inner energy, i.e., of guaranteeing
quietness, conformity, and the continuance of accustomed reactions.
It \vould rnake inexpedient attempts to n1aster surpluses of internal
energy \Vhich could not be disposed of through natural pleasure or
n1ovement. For instance, it \Vould introduce senseless sadistic ac-
tions or ceremonies which would be of an essentially automatic
nature and have little purpose ( con1pnlsive religious behavior).
Realistic goals are self-developing and, therefore, compel movement
and restlessness in those who n1ove to\vard them.
The bladder could be shaken by suddenly emerging convul-
sions, through \vhich the da1nrned-up energy \Vould be discharged.
For instance, it n1ight have hysterical or epileptic seizures. It might,
on the other hand, becon1e con1pletcly rigid and desolate, as in
Therapy 119

catatonic schizophrenia. In any event, this bladder \vould ahvays be

plagued by anxiety. Everything else follo\vs inevitably from this
anxiety, e.g., religious n1ysticism, belief in a Fuhrer, meaningless
martyrdon1. Since everything in nahue n1oves, changes, develops,
expands, and contracts, the arn~tored bladder \vould have an alien
and hostile attitude to\vard nature. It would conceive of itself as
"something very special," belonging to a superior race because it is
dressed in a stiff collar or uniforn1. It \VOtild represent that "culture"
or that ''race'' which is incon1patible \Vith nature, and nature vvould
be looked upon as "base," "den1onic,'' "in1pulsive," "uncontrolled,"
"ignoble." At the san1e tin1e, ho\vever, the bladder, still feeling son1e
last vestiges of nature in itself, \vould have to enthuse about it and
to sentiinentalize it, e.g., as "sublin1e love" or as the "surging of the
blood." To associate nature vvith bodily convulsions \vould be a
blasphemy. Yet it \Votdd create industries for pornography, \Vithout
being a\vare of the contradiction.
The tension-charge function brought together ideas which had
made an impression on me in n1y study of classical biology. It \Vas
necessary to reexan1ine its theoretical tenability. Fron1 the point of
view of physiology, 1ny theory \vas substantiated by the \Vell-kno\vn
fact that muscles contract spontaneously. The muscular contraction
can be brought about by electrical stiinuli. According to Galvani,
however, the contraction can also be brought about by injuring the
muscle and connecting the end of the severed nerve to the n1uscle at
the point of injury. The contraction is accon1panied by the measur-
able expression of the so-called electrical action current. In injured
muscles, there is also an ordinary current. It becon1es n1anifest
when the middle of the n1uscle surface is connected to the injured
end by means of an electric conductor, e.g., copper \vire.
The sh1dy of muscle contractions had been an important area
of investigation in physiology for decades. I did not understand
why muscle physiology did not find the connection \vith general
anin1al elechicity. If t\vo nerve-n1uscle preparations are placed upon
one another in such a \vay that the n1uscle of one touches the nerve
of the other, and if, then, conbactions are produced in the first
muscle preparation by applying an electrical current to it, the
120 'V I L H E L ~~ H E I C H

second n1uscle preparation also contracts. The first muscle prepara-

tion contracts as a response to the electrical stimulus and, in the
process, itself develops a biological action current. This, in turn, acts
as an electrical sti1nulus upon the second muscle preparation, which
responds with a contraction, thus producing a second biological
action current. Since the 1nuscles in the body are in contact \vith
each other and are connected with the total organisn1 by means of
body fluid, every n1uscle action \vould have a sthnulating influence
on the total organisn1. Naturally, this influence varies, depending
upon the location of the n1uscle, the initial stin1ulus, and its
strength; but it al\vays affects the total organis1n. As the prototype
of this influencing, \Ve have the orgastic contraction of the genital
musculature, \vhich is so strong that it is conveyed to the entire
organisn1. I found nothing about this in the available literature. Yet
it appeared to be of decisive importance.
Closer observation of the cardiac action curve confirmed my
assun1ption that the tension-charge process also governs the cardiac
function. It runs as an electrical vvave from the auricle, via the
cardiac arteries, to the apex of the heart. The precondition for the
onset of this contraction is the filling of the auricle \Vith blood. The
result of the charge and discharge is the emptying of the blood
through the aorta due to the contraction of the heart.
Bulk-producing n1cdicines have a purgative effect on the intes-
tines. The s\vclling acts on the n1uscles like an electrical stimulus.
They contract and relax in rhythn1ic vvaves ("peristalsis"). These
conhactions and relaxations cause the intestines to be e1nptied. The
san1c applies to the urinary bladder. If it is filled \vith Hnid, it
contracts, thus causing the contents to be emptied.
In this description, an extren1ely in1portant but unobserved fact
was revealed. It can be considered the basic 1nodel for the refuta-
tion of the a hsolute ''teleological" thinking in the field of biology.
The urinarv . bladder does not contract "in order to fulfill the func-
tion of n1icturition" by virtue of divine \viii or supernatural biologi-
cal po,vers. It contracts in response to a si1nple causal principle
\Vhich is anything but divine. It contracts because its n1echanical
Therapy 121

filling induces a contraction. This principle can be applied to any

other function at \viii. One does not engage in sexual intercourse "in
order to produce children," but because a congestion of fluid bio-
electrically charges the genital organs and urges to\vard discharge.
This, in turn, is acco1npanied by the discharge of sexual substances.
Thus, sexuality is not in the service of procreation; rather, procrea-
tion is an incidental result of the tension-charge process in the
genitals. This n1ay be depressing to chan1pions of eugenic 1noral
philosophy, but it is nonetheless true.
In 1933, I can1e upon an experimental \vork by the Berlin
biologist Hartmann. In special experiments dealing with the sexual-
ity of gametes, he den1onstrated that the n1ale and fen1ale functions
in copulation are not fixed. A \veak male ga1nete can behave in a
feminine \vay to\vard a stronger male gan1ete. Harhnann left open
the question of \Vhat detern1ines the groupings of gametes of the
same sex, their "mating," if you like. He assun1ed the existence of
"certain'' still-uninvestigated ''substances." I understood that the
groupings \Vere detennined by electrical processes. A fe,v years
later, I \vas able to confirm this by means of an electrical experin1ent
on bions. That the grouping in the copulation of gan1etes takes place
in one \vay and not another is detern1ined by bio-electrical forces.
Around this same ti1ne, I received a ne\vspaper clipping that re-
ported on experin1ents carried out in ~1osco\v. A scientist (his name
has slipped n1y memory) succeeded in den1onstrating that egg and
sperm cells produce male or female individuals, depending upon
the nature of their elechical charge.
Thus, procreation is a function of sexuality, and not vice versa,
as was hitherto believed. Freud had 1naintained the san1e thing \Vith
respect to psychosexuality, \Vhen he separated the concepts ''sexual"
and "genital." But, for a reason I was not able to understand, he
later stated that "sexuality in puberty" is "in the service of procrea-
tion." Hartn1ann provided proof in the field of biology that it is not
sexuality which is a function of procreation, but the reverse: pro-
creation is a function of sexuality. I \Vas able to add to this a third
argun1ent, based on the experimental investigations of various biol-
122 \V I L H E L ~f R E I C H

ogists: the diuisioH of the egg, like cell division in general, is an

orgastic process. It is governed by the tension-charge function. The
consequence of this finding for the n1oralistic appraisal of sexuality
is evident: sexuality can no longer be regarded as an unfortunate
conco1nitant of the preservation of the species.
When the egg has been fertilized, \vhen it has absorbed the
energy of the spcrn1 cell, it first bccon1es tense. It absorbs fluid; its
membrane beco1nes taut. This n1eans that the surface tension and
the inner pressure increase siinultaneously. The greater the pressure
of the content of the bladder, \vhich here represents the egg, the
n1ore difficult it is for the surface to "hold" the systen1 "together."
These arc processes \Vhich are still definitely governed by the
counteraction bet\vecn inner pressure and surface tension. If
stretched further, a purely physical bladder would burst. In the egg
cell, the process no\v commences \vhich is so characteristic of the
living function: the stretching or expansion provokes a contraction.
The grc)\vth of the egg cell is ascribable to the active absorption of
fluid, \vhich ahvays proceeds only to a certain point. The nucleus of
the cell begins to ''radiate," i.e., to produce energy. Gur\vitsch called
this phenomenon 1nitogenetic radiation. Mitosis means division of
the nucleus of the cell. Later I learned to o bservc and to assess the
vitality of bion cultures on the basis of the degree of certain radia-
tion phenotnena inside the for1nation. The extren1e filling of the cell,
i.e., mechanical tension, is acco1npanied by an electrical charge. At a
certain point, the tne1nbrane begins to contract. As a matter of fact,
it begins to contract at that point \Vhere the sphere has attained the
greatest circutnference and the greatest tension. This is al\vays the
equator or, if one prefers, a Ineridian of the sphere. This contraction
is not, as one can observe, gradual and constant; it is a struggling,
contradictory process. The tension of the me1nbrane at the site of
the contraction struggles against the internal pressure which has
becon1e stronger precisely O\ving to this contraction. It is quite clear
that inner pressure and surface tension have a n1utually intensifying
effect upon one another, that they strengthen one another. This
produces the visible vibrations, undulation and contraction.
The constriction (indentation) increases. The inner tension
Therapy 123



I. Egg cell II. Onset of process division

Ill. End of process division IV. Two daughter cells

I. Equilibrium between IP and ST in the tension-charge. Beginning
of the process of swelling
II. IP > ST; ST counteracts IP by means of "contraction"
III. Division; ST becomes greater; balance between ST and IP
through expansion of surface
IV. Relaxation; ST == IP; the same volume now distributed in two
daughter cells with a larger combined surface

Inner Pressure (IP) and Surface Tension (ST) in the

division of the egg

mounts. If the egg cell could speak, it would express anxiety. There
is only one possibility of resolving this inner tension (apart from
bursting): the "division" of the one big bladder with its taut surface
into two smaller bladders, in which the same volume content is
surrounded by a 1nuch larger and therefore less taut membrane.
The egg division corresponds to the resolution of a tension. The

nucleus, in its spindle fom1ation, goes through this process prior to

the division of the cell as a \vhole. The spindle formation is re-
garded by many biologists as an electrically determined process. If
it \vere possible for us to n1easure the electrical condition of the
nucleus after the cell division, \Ve \vould very likely ascertain that a
discharge had occurred. That this process takes place is suggested
by the "reduction division," in \vhich half of the chromoso1nes
(whose ntunber has been doubled through t_he spindle formation)
are extruded. Each of the t\vo daughter cells no\v contains the same
nun1ber of chro1nosomes. Reproduction is con1pleted.
Hence, cell division also follo,vs the four-beat of the orgasm
for1nula: tension~ charge~ discharge--:) relaxation. It is the most
important process in the sphere of living functioning. The orgasm
formula could also be called the "life fonnula." I did not want to
publish anything about this at that tilne. Rather, I confined myself
to hints \vithin the fran1e\vork of clinical presentations, merely pub-
lishing a short work, "Fortpflanzung-eine Funktion der Sexualitiit,"
193.5, based on the experi1nents carried out by Hartmann. The
matter appeared so decisiYe that I \Vanted to forgo publication un-
til I had carried out special experin1ents to confirm or refute the
hypothesis. I \Vas later able to demonstrate important connections
bet\veen the vegetative currents, the contractions in protozoa, and
the dynan1ic interplay behveen surface tension and inner pressure
in the energy-charged, organic bladder.



In 1933, 1ny idea of the unity bet\veen psychic and somatic

functioning became clear in the follo\ving \vay.
The fundan1ental biological functions of contraction and ex-
pansion \Verc applicable to the psychic as \vell as to the so1natic
realm. T\VO series of antithetical effects emerged, their ele1nents
representing various depths of biological functioning.
Investigation sho\vs that the in1pulscs and sensations are not
Therapy 125

produced by the nerves but are merely transn1itted by them. Im-

pulses and sensations are biological actions of the total organisn1.
They are present in the living systen1 long before the developn1ent
of an organized nervous systen1. Protozoa demonstrate fundan1en-
tally the san1e actions and iinpulscs as n1etazoa, in spite of the fact
that they do not have an organized nervous systen1. The great
achievcn1ent of Kraus and Zondek \vas in demonstrating that the
functions of the autonomic nervous systetn not only can be stimu-
lated or retarded by chernical substances; more in1portant, they can
be replaced by then1.
On the basis of his experin1ents, Kraus came to the conclusion
that the action of nerves, drugs, and electrolytes can be substituted
for one another in the biological systen1 \Vith respect to the hydra-
tion or dehydration of the tissues ( \vhich is, as \Ve have already
pointed out, the basic function of life).
What follo\vs is a con1parative table, co1npiled in ter1ns of the
total function.
The facts represented in this table show:
1. The antithesis behveen the potassium ( parasy1npathetic)
group and the calciun1 (syntpathetic) group: expansion and con-
2. The antithesis behveen periphery and center \Vith respect to
3. The functional identity of the syn1pathetic and parasympa-
thetic with the functions of substances having a chernical sthnulus.
4. The dependency of the innervation of the individual organs
on the functional unity and antithesis of the total organisn1.
As we have already pointed out, all biological ilnpulses and
organ sensations can be reduced to expansion (elongation, dilata-
tion) and contraction (shrinking, constriction).
H otv are these tu;o basic functions related to the autono1nic
nervous system? Investigation of the very con1plicated vegetative
innervations of the organs shows that the vagus ( parasyn1pathetic)
ahvays functions vvhere there is expansion, dilatation, hyperetnia,
turgor, and pleasure. Conversely, the syn1pathetic nerves function
\vhenever the organism contracts, blood is \vithdra\vn from the
126 \V I L H E L l\.1 REICH

Vegetatice General Effect on Central Peripheral

Group Tissues Effect Effect
Sympathetic Reduction of surface Systolic Vasoconstric-
Calcium tension Heart mus- tion
(group) Dehvdration culature is
Adrenalin Stridted musculature: stin1 u ]a ted
Cholesterin flaccid or spastic
H-ions Reduction of electrical
exci ta hili ty
Increase of oxygen
Increase of blood pressure

Parasy1npathctic Increase of surface tension Diastolic Vasodilata-

Potassiun1 HYdration Heart mus- tion
(group) :\iuscles: increased tonicity culature
Cholin Increase of electrical relaxed
Lecithin excitability
OR-ions Decrease of oxygen
Decrease of blood pressure

periphery, and pallor, anxiety, and pain appear. If \Ve go one step
further, \Vc grasp that the parasyntpathetic nervous syste1n operates
in the direction of expansion, "out of the self-totcard the world,"
pleasure and joy; tchereas the sy1npathetic nercous syste1n operates
in the direction of contraction, ''atcay fronL the tcorld-into the self,"
sadness and unpleasure. The life process consists of a continuous
alternation bet\veen expansion and contraction.
Further investigation sho\vs the identity bet\veen parasyrnpa-
thetic function and sexual function on one hand and syrnpathetic
function and the function of unpleasure or anxiety on the other. vVe
see that in the experience of pleasure, the blood vessels dilate at the
periphery, the skin becomes flushed, pleasure is experienced from
its mildest form to the highest degree of sexual ecstasy. In the
condition of anxiety, pallor, contraction of the blood vessels, and
unpleasure go together. In pleasure, "the heart expands" (para-
syinpathetic dilatation) and the pulse beat is quiet and full. In
anxiety, the heart contracts and beats rapidly and forcibly. In the
forn1Pr, it forces the blood through \vide vessels; its \Vork is there-
fore easy. In the latter, it forces the blood through narro\ved vessels;
its \vork is hard. In the forrncr, the blood is predo1ninantly distiib-
Therapy 127

uted to\vard the periphery; in the latter, the constricted vessels

cause a congestion of the blood to\vard the heart. Thus, it is readilv
understandable that \vith anxiety there is a feeling of oppressio~1
and, conversely, \Vith a feeling of oppression there is anxiety. It is
the picture of so-called cardiovascular hypertension \Vith \Vhich
organic n1edicine is so tnuch concerned. This hypertension corre-
sponds to a general condition of synzpatheticotonic contraction in
the organism.

Anxiety syndrome Pleasure syndrome

Peripheral vessels contracted dilated
Cardiac action accelerated s)O\Yf'd dO\Vll
Blood pressure increased decreased
Pupils dilated constricted
Secretion of saliva decreased increased
:\I usculature paralyzed or in spasm state of tonus, relaxed

On the highest psychic level, biological expansion is experi-

enced as pleasure; contraction is experienced as unpleasure. In the
realm of instinctual phenomena, expansion functions as sexual
excitation, and contraction functions as anxiety. On a deeper physio-
logical level, expansion corresponds to parasyn1pathetic functioning,
and contraction to sympathetic functioning. According to dis-
coveries n1ade by Kraus and Zondek, the parasyn1pathetic function
can be replaced by the potassium ion group, and the sympathetic
function can be replaced by the calciun1 ion group. Thus, \Ve arrive
at a convincing and impressive picture of unitary functioning frorn
the highest psychic sensations to the deepest biological reactions.
The follo\ving is a table listing the t\vo series of functions
arranged according to their depth:

Pleasure Unpleasure and Anxiety

Sexuality Anxietv
Parasyn1pathetic Sympathetic
Potassium Calcium
Lecithin Cholesterin
Cholin Adrenalin
OH-ions (hydrating bases) 0 H-ions (dehydrating acids)
Function of expansion Function of contraction
0 The pH of the culture medium must always be basic (7.2-7.8 pH).
128 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

On the basis of this formulation of the unitary antithetical body-

mind functioning, a nun1ber of previously misunderstood contradic-
tions of the autonon1ic nerve innervation \vere clarified. Formerly,
the organism's autonomic nerve innervation appeared to lack unity
and coherence. In one instance, it \Vas said that the parasy1npathetic
nervous systetn caused tnuscles to contract. In another instance, the
san1e function \vas ascribed to the sympathetic nervous system. In
one instance, the functions of the glands \Vere said to be stimulated
by the parasyn1pathetic nervous systen1 (genital glands); in another
instance, they \vere said to be stimulated by the sympathetic nervous
system ( S\veat glands). A tabular co1nparison of the sytnpathetic
and parasympathetic innervations of the autonomically functioning
organs brings out even n1ore clearly the apparent illogicality.
In the course of den1onshating the t\VO directions of biological
energy, a fact has appeared to \vhich \Ve have given little attention
until no\v. The vegetative periphery has been clearly described. Still
undetermined is the site at which the biological energy concentrates
as soon as a condition of anxiety arises. There n1ust be a vegetative
center from \Vhich the biological energy issues and to \vhich it
returns. This question provides the connecting link to \vell-kno\vn
facts of physiology. In the abdominal region, the so-called seat of
the en1otions, \VC find the generators of biophysical energy. They are
the large centers of the autonon1ic nervous syste1n, essentially the
solar plexus, the hypogastric plexus, and the l un1 bosacral plexus. A
glance at the anatomy of the vegetative nervous systen1 \vill easily
convince us that the vegetative ganglia are n1ost dense in the
abdon1inal and genital regions. The following diagram sho\VS the
functional relation bct\veen center and periphery.
The attempt to introduce meaning into the apparent illogicality
succeeded \vhen I investigated the vegetative innervation of the
respective organs, first \Vith reference to the biological expansion
and then with reference to the contraction of the total organism. In
other \Vords, I asked n1yself ho\v the respective organs would
nortnally function in pleasure and in anxiety, and in \vhich \vay the
autonon1ic innervation \vould have to take place in the process.
\Vhen investigated with reference to the total function of the
Therapy 129


Synzpathetic Parasympathetic
Effect Organ Effect
Inhibition of the m. ~1usculature of the Stinntlation of the m.
sphincter pupillae: iris sphincter pupillae: nar-
dilated pupils rowing of the pupils
Inhibition of the lachryn1al Lachryn1al glands Stinntlation of the
glands: "dry eyes.'' De- lachryn1al glands:
pression "glo\ving eyes." Joy
Inhibition of the salivary Salivary glands Stinn1lation and increased
glands: "parched secretion of the salivary
mouth" glands: "making mouth
Stimulation of the S\veat S\veat glands Inhibition of the S\veat
glands in face and body: glands in face and body:
"skin is moist and cold" "skin is dry"
Contraction of the arteries: Arteries Dilatation of the arteries:
"cold S\veat,'' pallor, "freshness" and flushing
anxiety of skin, increased turgor
\vithout perspiration
~1 usculature of hair follicle Arrectores pilorun1 Inhibition of arrectores
is stirnulated: hair piloru1u: skin becomes
bristles, '<goose smooth and \varm
pimples," chills
Inhibition of the contrac- Bronchial musculature Stinn1latcs the contraction
tive musculature: of the bronchial museu-
bronchi are relaxed lattue: bronchi are nar-
Stin1ulates cardiac action: Heart Slo\VS cardiac action: quiet
palpitation, rapid heart heart, slo\ver pulse
Inhibits peristalsis: reduces Digestive tract from Stimulates peristalsis: in-
secretion of digestive esophagus to rec- creases secretion of di-
glands tum, liver, pan- gestive glands
creas, kidneys, all
digestive glands
Increases adrenal secre- Suprarenal gland Reduces adrenal secretion:
tion: anxiety reaction pleasure reaction
Inhibits 1nusculature of the Urinary bladder Stin1ulates n1usculature of
bladder, stimulates uri- the bladder, inhibits the
nary sphincter: inhibits sphincter: stiinulates
micturition micturition
130 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H


Sympathetic Parasyn1pathetic
Effect Organ Ef}ect
Tightening of the smooth Fernale sex organs Relaxation of the smooth
rnusculah1rc, reduces musculature, stimulates
secretion of all glands, all gland functions, in-
decrease of blood sup- creases blood flo\v, moist
ply, dry vagina: reduc- vagina: increase of
tion of sexual feeling sexual feeling
Tightening of the smooth :\tale sex organs Relaxation of the smooth
n1usculature of the n1usculature of the
scrotum, reduction of scrotum, increases all se-
gland functions, de- cretions, increases blood
crease of blood supply, flo\v, erection: "intensi-
flaccid penis: "dimin- fied sexual desire"
ished sexual desire"

organisn1, the seemingly contradictory innervation proved to be

entirely logical and understandable.
This can be n1ost convincingly den1onstrated by the antithesis
het\veen the innervation of the heart, i.e., the "center," and of the
blood vessels and muscles, i.e., the "periphery." The parasympa-
thetic nervous systetn dilates the blood vessels, thereby enhancing
the flo\v of blood to the periphery and the action of the heart. The
syn1pathetic nervous systen1 contracts the peripheral blood vessels.
thereby ii11peding the flo\v of the blood to the periphery and stimu-
lating the action of the heart. In tern1s of the total organism, the
antithesis in the innervation is understandable, for in anxiety, the
heart has to overcon1e the peripheral inhibition, \vhereas in plea-
sure, it can \Vork quietly and slo\vly. There is a functional antithesis
betzceen periphery and center.
The sy111pathetic anxiety function becon1es coherent and mean-
ingful \vhen \VC bear in n1ind that the san1e nerve \vhich inhibits the
salivary gland stin1ulatcs adrenal secretion (i.e., produces anxiety).
This is also true in the case of the urinary bladder. The sympathetic
nervous s\stenl stiinulates the n1usclc \vhich prevents 1nicturition.
The para~ytnpathetic nervous systcn1 has the opposite effect, relax-
ing or inhibiting the san1e 1nuscle. In tern1s of the total organis1n, it
Therapy 131

Porasympatheti c (anxiety)

Peri ph e r y (s k i n)


(gang I ia)

Parasympathetic Sympathetic
Swelling expansion Shrinking
Increased turgor Decreased turgor
Low central tension High central tension
Opening up Closing up
Toward the world, away from the Away from the world, toward the
self self
Sexual excitation; warm, red skin Anxiety, pallor, cold sweat
"Current" from center toward pe- "Current" from periphery toward
riphery center
Parasympatheticotonia, ~ Life process, ~ Sympatheticotonia,
relaxation oscillation between hypertension

Diagram (a). The basic functions of the vegetative nervous


is also significant that in pleasure the pupils are narro,ved by the

parasympathetic (corresponding to the diaphragn1 of a camera),
thus sharpening vision. In apprehensive paralysis, on the other
hand, vision is dirnmcd, due to the dilatation of the pupils.
The reduction of the autonon1ic innervations to the basic
biological functions of expansion and contraction of the total orga-
nisn1 \Vas of course an iinportant step for,vard, and at the san1e tilne
a good test of the tenability of n1y biological hypothesis ..According
to this hypothesis, the parasyn1pathetic nervous systen1 ahvays
~~-~r----- Secondary impulse,
neurotic symptom

:---+--Primary impulse
1----+--- Center (biological core)

Diagram (b) . The same functions in an armored organism.

The inhibition of the primary impulse produces a sec-
ondary impulse and anxiety

Sympathetic Po ras ympa the tic

.,___ Vegetative Iife

Diagram (c). The unity and antithesis of the autonomic

nervous system
Therapy 133

stimulates the organs \Vhen, \vhether to tnake them tense or to bring

about a relaxation, the total organisn1 is in a state of pleasurable
expansion. On the other hand, the sytnpathetic nervous syste1n
stimulates all organs in a biologically significant way when the total
organism is in a state of anxious contraction. This enables us to
comprehend the life process, respiration in particular, as a condition
of continuous oscillation, in \vhich the organisn1 is continually alter-
nating behveen parasy1npathetic expansion (exhalation) and sym-
pathetic contraction (inhalation). In n1aking these theoretical
deductions, I pictured to n1yself the rhythmic n1oven1ent of an
an1oeba, a jellyfish, or an anin1al heart. The function of respiration is
too complicated to be briefly described here in ter1ns of these new

Expansion and movement Return to spherical shape produced

by strong electrical stimulus

The flo\v of plasma in the amoeba in expansion and con-


If the biological oscillation is disturbed in one direction or the

other, i.e., if the function of expansion or the function of contraction
predominates, then there n1ust also be a disturbance of the general
biological balance. Persistence of the state of expansion is indicative
of a general parasynzpatheticotonia. Conversely, the persistence of a
state of anxious contraction indicates sy1npatheticotonia. Thus, all
134 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

son1atic conditions \vhich are kno\vn clinically as cardiovascular

hypertension beca1ne understandable as conditions of chronic sym-
patheticotonic attitudes of anxiety. Central to this general sympa-
theticotonia is orgasn1 anxiety, that is, fear of expansion and
involuntary convulsion.
The physiological literature contained many reports on investi-
gations and findings pertaining to the n1anifold facts of autonomic
innervation. Initially, n1y theory of sex-economy was notable not
because it had discovered ne\v facts in this field but because it had
reduced generally kno\vn innervations to a universally valid basic
biological forn1ula. The theory of the orgasm could take pride in
having Inadc an iinportant contribution to the understanding of the
physiology of the organisr_n. This unification led to the discovery of
ne\v facts.
I \Vrote a short n1onograph, "Dcr Urgegensatz des vegetativen
Lebens," and published it in Dc1unark, in 1934, in the Zeitschrift
fiir politische Psychologic und Sexualokonornie, a periodical which
came into existence following the break with the International
Psychoanalytic Association. It \Vas not until several years later that
this article received attention and recognition in biological and
psychiatric circles.
A detailed report on the painful proceedings at the thirteenth
psychoanalytic congress in Lucerne, in August 1934, was given in
the above-nan1ed periodical. For purposes of general orientation,
therefore, I can be very brief here. vVhen I arrived in Lucerne, I
learned fro1n the secretary of the German Psychoanalytic Society, of
\Vhich I had been a men1ber, that I had been expelled jn 1933,
follo\ving xny relocation to Vienna. I had not been notified of this,
and no one had found it necessary to infonn me of the reasons for
my expulsion. Finally I \Vas told that n1y \vork on mass psychol-
ogy, 0 which \vas directed against the irrationalism of fascism, had
placed 1ne in a much too exposed position. Hence, my membership
in the International Psychoanalytic Association \vas no longer ten-
able. Four years later, Freud had to flee Vienna for London, and the
Cf. Rdch, The Jfass Psychology of Fascisrn ( Ne\v York: Farrar, Straus
and Giroux, 1970).
Therapy 135

psychoanalytic groups \vere crushed by the fascists. By joining the

No1wegian group, I could have been reinstated as a member of the
International Psychoanalytic Association. In the interest of preserv-
ing my independence, I rejected this possibility.
Subsequently, I avoided contact \vith my earlier colleagues.
Their behavior \Vas neither better nor \Vorsc than is usual in such
cases. It \Vas Io,v and uninteresting. A good dose of banality is all
that is needed to hush up a n1atter. Only one psychoanalyst, in the
general en1barrassn1cnt, hit upon the bright idea that I was schizo-
phrenic; he \Vas eagerly intent upon n1aking his diagnosis kno\vn the
\Vorld over. Ho\vever, since I kne\v that I had the key to the biologi-
cal function of neurosis, there \vas no need for me to be irritated by
these indecencies.


The concept "orgone therapy'' comprises all Inedical and pedagogi-

cal techniques \Vhich znake use of the biological energy, the orgone.
Cosznic orgone energy, frozn \vhich the concept "orgone therapy"
derives, \Vas not discovered until 1939. Yet, long before this dis-
covery, the goal of character analysis \Vas conceived of as the libera-
tion of ''psychic energy," as it \vas called at that time, from the
character arn1or and muscular arn1or, and the establishn1ent of
orgastic potency. Those conversant \vith orgonc biophysics are
fazniliar \Vith the development of character analysis ( 1926 to 1934)
into ''vegetotherapy" ( frotn 193.5 on). It was no idle desire for
scnsationalisn1 that gave birth to so n1any various concepts in one
and the san1e discipline of natural science. H.ather, the consistent
application of the natural scientific concept of energy to the proc-
esses of psychic life 1nade it necessary, in various phases of develop-
ment, to coin ne\v concepts for ne\v techniques.
The fact that it \Vas scx-cconon1ically oriented psychiatry which
made cosmic orgone energy accessible can, in n1y opinion, be re-
garded as a great triumph on the part of orgononzic functionalisln.
Not \vithstanding the fact that we arc dealing \vith a strictly physi-
cal form of energy in orgone energy, there are good reasons \vhy it
\Vas discovered by a psychiatrist and not a physicist. The logic of
this discovery in the Reid of biopsychiatry is de1nonstrated by its
development, \Vhich I described in n1y book The Discovery of the
Orgone, Vol. I: The Function of the Orgasnl.

From Character Aualysis, 1972.

Therapy 137

When the orgastn reflex \Vas discovered in 1935, the emphasis

in treatment \vas shifted fron1 the character to the body. The tcrn1
"vegetotherapy" was coined to allo\v for this shift in emphasis, for,
from that point on, n1y analytic technique affected character neu-
rosis in the physiological reahn. Thus, we spoke of "character-
analytic vegetotherapy" to include in one concept the work on the
psychic and on the physical apparahts. This term had many disad-
vantages which, at that tiine, I could not help. For one thing, it \Vas
too long. :Nioreover, it contained the \Vord "vegetative," \vhich, while
it is correct in Gern1an, is suggestive of "vegetables" in English. Last
but not least, it retained the psychophysical dichototny, which \Vas
at variance vvith our concept of the hon1ogeneity of the organisn1.
The discovery of the orgone put an end to these tertninological
difficulties. Cos1nic orgone energy functions in the living organsirn
as specific biological energy. As such, it governs the entire organistn;
it is expressed in the etnotions as \veil as in the purely biophysical
moven1ents of the organs. Thus, for the first tin1e since its inception
and with its O\Vn rneans, psychiatry took root in objective, natural
scientific processes. This requires a n1ore detailed explanation.
Until the discovery of the orgone, psychiatry had to borro\v
from inorganic physics when it atten1pted to prove its psychological
assertions objectively and quantitatively. Neither the tnechanical
brain lesions nor the chemico-physical processes in the organistn,
and certainlv not the outdated cerebral localization of sensations

and ideas, ever succeeded in giving a satisfactory explanation of

en1otional processes. As opposed to these, orgonc biophysics \Vas,
from the outset, concerned \Vith the basic problen1 of all psychiatry,
the etnotions. Literally defined, the \Vord "en1otion" tneans "moving
outwards" or "pushing out." Thus, we not only can but 1nust take
the word "en1otion" literally in speaking of sensations and n1ove-
ments. The tnicroscopic observation of living amoebae subjected to
tninor electric stin1uli reveals the meaning of the concept "en1otion"
in an unmistakable \vay. Fundamentally, e1notion is nothing but a
plasrnatic movement. Pleasurable sthnuli effect an "e1notion" of the
protoplasm fron1 the center to\vard the periphery. Non-pleasurable
stimuli, on the other hand, bring about an "etnotion" or, more cor-
138 \V I L H E L }..1 R E I C H

rectly, ''re-rnotion" of the protoplasm from the periphery to\vard the

center of the organisn1. These t\VO basic directions of the biophysi-
cal plasn1a current correspond to the t\vo basic affects of the psychic
apparatus, pleasure and anxiety. In tern1s of their function, the
physical plasn1a motion and the sensation corresponding to it are, as
\Ve learned frorn expcrin1ents on the oscillograph, completely identi-
cal. They cannot be separated from one another; indeed, they are
inconceivable \vithout one another. 1-lo\vever, they are, as we know,
not only functionally identical but also and at the san1e time anti-
thetical: a biophysical plasn1a excitation transn1its a sensation, and a
sensation expresses itself in 'l plasma movement. Today these facts
are a \veil-established foundation of orgone biophysics.
Whether \Ve reactivate en1otions fron1 the character armor by
rneans of ''character analysis" or \VC liberate then1 fron1 the muscular
annor by rneans of "vegetotherapy," the fact rernains that in both
cases \Ve produce plasrnatic excitations and moven1ents. What
n1oves in this process is nothing but orgone energy, which is con-
tained in the body fluids. Accordingly, the tnobilization of plasnwtic
currents and e1notions in the organisnt is identical with the mobili-
zation of orgone energy. Clinical indications of this 1nobilization are
clearly evident in the changes of the vasomotor functions. In every
case, therefore, \vhether \Ve arc evoking memories, breaking down
defense rnechanisn1s, or elirninating muscular tensions, we are al-
\vays \vorking on the orgone energy of the organism. The difference
in the various n1ethods lies in their effectiveness. A memory is not
nearly as capable of achieving the ernotional outbreak, for example,
as the loosening of a block in the diaphragrn.
It is quite clear, then, \vhy I no\v propose to include both
character analysis and vegetothera py under the term "orgone ther-
apy."1 The conunon ele1nent is reflected in the therapeutic goal, the
n1obilization of the patient's plas1natic currents. In other \vords, if
\Ve are really serious about the unitary concept of the organis1n, i.e.,
one \vith practical in1plications, then it is altogether out of the ques-
1Purf'ly physiological orgone therapy by rn~ans of orgonc accumulators is
discussed in The Cancer Biopathy (Vol. II of The Discovery of the Orgone).
Therapy 139

tion to break up a living organism into character traits here, muscles

there, and plasn1a functions elsewhere.
In orgone therapy, our \vork is concentrated on the biological
depth, the plasn1a systen1, or, as \Ve express it technically, the
biological core of the organisrn. This, as is readily evident, is a
decisive step, for it 1neans that we have left the sphere of psychol-
ogy, of "depth" psychology as \veil, and have entered the province
of protoplas1natic functions, even going beyond the physiology of
the nerves and 1nuscles. These steps are to be taken very seriously;
they have far-reaching practical and theoretical consequences, for
they effect a funda1nental change in our biopsychiatric practice. We
no longer work merely on individual conflicts and special ar1norings
but on the living organisn1 itself. As \Ve gradually learn to compre-
hend and influence the living organisn1, the purely psychological
and physiological functions are auto1natically included in our work.
Schematic specialization is no longer possible.



It is difficult to define the living organism in a strict functional

sense. The ideas of orthodox psychology and depth psychology are
chained to word forn1ations. Ho\vever, the living organism functions
beyond all verbal ideas and concepts. Human speech, a biological
form of expression at an advanced stage of development, is not a
specific athibute of the living organisn1, which functions long before
a language and verbal representations exist. Thus, depth psychology
deals \Vith a life function \vhich caine into existence at a relatively
late stage of biological development. Many animals express them-
selves through sounds. But the living organism functioned prior to
and functions beyond the use of sounds as a form of expression.
Language itself reveals the key to the problem of ho\v the
living organism expresses itself. Evidently, language derives from
the sensations perceived by body organs. For example, the Gem1an
140 \V 1 L H E L M R E I C H

word Ausdruck and its English equivalent "expression'' exactly

describe the language of the living organisn1: the living organism
expresses itself in rnovements; \Ve therefore speak of "expressive
n1oven1ents." Expressi vc n1ovc1nent is an inherent characteristic of
the protoplasn1. It distinguishes the living organism from all non-
living systerns. The \vord literally implies-and \Ve have to take it
literally-that something in the living systern "presses itself out''
and, therefore, "n1oves.'' This can only n1can the n1ovement, i.e.,
expansion or contraction, of the protoplasn1. Literally, "emotion"
tneans "n1oving ouhvard''; at the sa1ne titne, it is an "expressive
rnovement." The physiological process of the plasn1atic emotion or
expressive n1oven1ent is inseparably linked to an imn1cdiately con1-
prehensible rneaning \vhich we are \Vont to call the "en1otional
expression." Thus, the moven1ent of the protoplasn1 is expressive of
an ernotion, and ernotion or the expression of an organism is en1-
bodied in n1ovcrnent. The second part of this sentence \viii require
son1e Inodification, for \Ve kno\v fron1 orgone therapy that there is
an expression in hurnan beings produced by in1rnobility or rigidity.
We arc not playing \Vith \vords. Language is clearly derived
fro1n the perception of inner n1oven1cnts and organ sensations, and
the \Vords that describe en1otional conditions directly reflect the
corresponding expressive n1oven1ent of the living organis1n.
While language docs reflect the plasn1atic ernotional condition
in an imrnediate \vay, it is still not capable of getting at this condi-
tion itself. The reason is that the beginnings of living functioning lie
much deeper than and beyond language. Over and above this, the
living organisnL has its otvn rnodes of expressing 1noce1nent tvhich
simply cannot be cotnprehended tvith tcords. Every rnusically in-
clined person is familiar \vith the emotional state evoked by great
music. Ho\vcver, if one atternpts to translate these e1notional experi-
ences into \vords, one's musical perception rebels. ~~Iusic is \Vordless
and \vants to ren1ain that \vay. Yet n1usic gives expression to the
inner n1oven1ent of the living organisn1, and listening to it evokes
the "sensation" of so1ne "inner stirring." The \Vordlessness of n1usic
is usually described in one of t\VO \vays; ( 1) as a n1ark of mystical
Therapy 141

spirituality, or ( 2) as the deepest expression of feelings incapable of

being put into words. The natural scientific point of view subscribes
to the interpretation that 1nusical expression is related to the depths
of the living organisn1. Accordingly, \vhat is regarded as the "spiri-
tuality'' of great n1usic is tnerely another \vay of saying that deep
feeling is identical with having contact vvith life beyond the limita-
tions of language.
Until no\v, science has not had anything decisive to say about
the nature of the expressive n1ovement of n1usic. Undoubtedly, the
artist hilnself speaks to us in the fortn of wordless expressions of
n1ove1nent fron1 the depth of the life function, but he \vould be just
as incapable as \Ve of putting into \Vords \vhat he expresses in his
music or in his painting. Indeed, he strongly objects to any attetnpt
to translate the language of expression of art into hun1an \Vord
language. He attaches great in1portance to the purity of his lan-
guage of expression. Hence, he confinns the orgone-biophysical
assertion that the living organisn1 possesses its O\Vn language of
expression before, beyond, and independent of all \Vord language.
Let us see what orgone therapy has to say about this problen1. We
shall cite an everyday experience.
Patients come to orgone therapists full of affiictions. The prac-
ticed eye can perceive these affiictions directly fron1 the expressive
Inovetnents and the en1otional expression of their bodies. If the
aflalyst allo,vs the patient to speak at randotn, he finds that the
patient tends to circlnnvent his afflictions, i.e., to conceal then1 in
one \vay or another. If the analyst \vants to arrive at a correct
appraisal of his patient, he n1ust begin by asking the patient not to
speak. This n1easure proves very fruitful, for as soon as the patient
ceases to speak, the emotional expressions of his body are brought
into n1uch sha11)er focus. After a fe\v 1ninutes of silence, the analyst
will usually have grasped the patient's n1ost conspicuous character
trait or, more correctly, \vill have understood the en1otional expres-
sion of the plasmatic n1oven1ent. If the patient appeared to laugh in
a friendly \vay \vhile he spoke, his laughter n1ight 1nodulate into an
empty grin during his silence, the n1ask-like character of \vhich the
142 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

patient hiinself n1ust readily perceive. If the patient appeared to

speak about his life \Vith reserved seriousness, an expression of
suppressed anger might easily appear in the chin and neck during
his silence.
Let these examples suffice to point out that, apart from its
function as con1n1unication, lunnan language also often functions as
a defense. The spoken \vord conceals the expressive language of the
biological core. In tnany cases, the function of speech has deterio-
rated to such a degree that the \Vords express nothing \vhatever and
merely represent a continuous, hollo\v activity on the part of the
n1usculature of the neck and the organs of speech. On the basis of
repeated experiences, it is n1y opinion that in many psychoanalyses
\vhich have gone on for years the treahnent has become stuck in this
pathological usc of language. This clinical experience can, indeed
has to be applied to the social sphere. Endless ntnnbers of speeches,
publications, political debates do not have the function of getting at
the root of iinportant questions of life but of drowning then1 in
Orgone therapy, as opposed to all other fonns of therapy,
attetnpts to influence the organisn1 not through the use of hun1an
language but by getting the patient to express hin1self biologically.
This approach leads hin1 into a depth \Vhich he continually flees. In
this \vay the orgone therapist learns, understands, and influences
the language of the living organisn1. It is hardly possible to obtain
the prin1ary language of expression of the living protoplasm in the
patient in a "pure" forn1. If the patient's tnode of expression \Vere
biologically "pure,'' he \vould have no reason to seek the help of an
orgone therapist. 'Ve have to go through a \velter of pathological,
unnatural expressive n1overnents (i.e., n1ovements not native to the
process of the living organism) to arriY<: at the genuine biological
tnode of expression. Htunan biopathy, indeed, is nothing other than
the SHIH total of all the distortions of the natural 1nodes of expres-
sion of the living organisrn. By t111111asking the pathological modes of
expression, \VC get to kno\v hu1nan biopathy at a depth inaccessible
to n1ethods of cure operating \Vith hurnan language. This is not to
Therapy 143

be ascribed to a deficiency on the part of these 1nethods; they are

adequate in their O\Vn sphere. '\Vith its distorted expression of life,
hotvever, biopathy lies outside tlze sphere of language and ideas.
Hence, orgone-therapeutic \Vork on the human biopathy lies
essentially outside the sphere of human language. Naturally, \Ve too
make use of the spoken \vord, but the \Vords we use do not conform
to everyday concepts but to organ sensations. There \vould be no
point \vhatever in Inaking the patient understand his condition in
physiological ter1ninology. \Vc do not say to him: "Your n1asticatory
organs are in a condition of chronic contraction, that's \vhy your
chin doesn't n1ove \Vhen you speak; that's \vhy your voice is a
monotone; that's why you can't cry; you have continually to S\vallo\v
to ward off an ilnpulse to cry, etc." This \vould make sense to the
patient's intellect but \vould not enable him to effect any change in
his condition.
\Ve \vork on a biologically deeper level of understanding. It is
not at all necessary for us to be able to point out exactly \vhich
individual muscles are contracted. It would serve no purpose, for
exa1nple, to put pressure on the n1asseter 1nuscles, for there \vould
be no reaction apart from the usual pain. We work tcith the lan-
guage of facial and body expression. Only \vhen we have sensed the
patient's facial expression are \Vein a position to comprehend it. We
use the \Vord "con1prehend" here to 1nean quite literally to know
\vhich en1otion is being expressed in it. And it 1nakcs no difference
whether the en1otion is n1obile and active or iininobile and sup-
pressed. We shall have to learn to recognize the difference behveen
a mobile and a suppressed e1notion.
We are operating \vith prin1ary biological functions when \ve
''sense" a patient's "expressive n1ove1nent." \Vhen, in a flight of
sparrows, a single sparro\v beco1nes restless and, "sensing danger,''
flies off, the \vhole flight follo\vs, \vhcther or not the rest of the birds
have noticed the cause of the con1motion. The panic reaction in the
animal kingdom is based on an involuntary reproduction of the
movement expressive of anxiety. Any number of people can be
brought to a standstill on the sidewalk and made to look up into the
144 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

sky if one merely pretends that one has observed something inter-
esting high up in the air. Let these exa1nples suffice.
The patient's expressive n1ovements involuntarily bring about
an ilnitation in our O\Vn organis1n. By in1itating these movetnents,
we ''sense" and understand the expression in ourselves and, conse-
quently, in the patient. Since every n1oven1ent is expressive of a
biological condition, i.e., reveals an emotional condition of the
protoplasn1, the language of facial and body expression becomes an
essential means of con11nunicating \vith the patient's en1otions. As I
haYe already pointed out, human language interferes u;ith the
language of the face and the body. \Vhen \Ve use the term "charac-
ter attitude," \vhat \Ve have in n1ind is the total expression of an
organisn1. This is literally the san1c as the total impression \vhich the
organisn1 1nakes on us.
There is considerable variation in the out\vard expression of
inner en1otional states. ~o hvo people have precisely the san1e
speech, respiratory block, or gait. Nonetheless, there are a number
of universal, clearly distinguishable In odes of expression. In depth
psychology \Ve dra\v a funda1nental distinction behveen the neu-
rotic character and the genital character on the basis of muscular
and character armoring. \Ve say that a character is neurotic \vhen
his organisn1 is governed by an arn1or so rigid that he cannot
voluntarily change or eliininate it. vVe speak of a genital character
\Vhen the emotional reactions are not governed by rigid automatism,
\vhen the person is capable of reacting in a biological \vay to a
particular situation. These hvo basic character types can also be
quite sharply distinguished from one another in the area of biologi-
cal functioning.
The armoring, its nature, the degree of its rigidity, and the
inhibition of the body's emotional language can be easily assessed
once the analyst has mastered the language of biological expression.
The total expression of the armored organism is one of restraint.
The meaning of this expression is quite literal: the body is express-
ing that it is holding back. Pulled-back shoulders, thrust-out chest,
rigid chin, superficial, suppressed breathing, hollowed-out loins,
retracted, immobile pelvis, "expressionless" or rigidly stretched-out
Therapy 145

legs are the essential attitudes and n1echanisn1s of total restraint.

They can be expressed sche1natically in the diagrain on page 146.
Clinically, this basic body attih1de on the part of the neurotic
character is 1nost clearlv expressed in the arc de cercle of hvsteria

and in the opisthotonus of catatonic stupor.

There can be no doubt that the basic attitude of the arn1ored
body is not consciously created but is autonon1ous. A person is not
a\vare of his annor as such. If the atternpt is rnade to describe it to
hirn in \Vords, he usually does not understand \Vhat one is talking
about. l-Ie does not sense the artnor itself but rnerely the distortion
of his inner perceptions of life. He describes hhnself as being
apathetic, rigid, confined, ctnpty, or he con1plains about palpita-
tions, constipation, insornnia, nervous restlessness, nausea, etc. If
the armor has existed for a long tirne and has also had an effect on
the tissues of the organs, the patient co1nes to us because of peptic
ulcers, rheumatism, arthritis, cancer, or angina pectoris. Since I pre-
sented the purely clinical facts in detail elsevvhere, I shall content
mvself \Vith this sun1n1arv. \\ e arc tnost concerned here to l)enetrate
.I .I

to the functions of the biological depth and to deduce the function-

ing of the living organisn1 fron1 thetn.
The arn1orcd organisn1 is incapable of breaking do\vn its O\Vn
arn1or. But it is equally incapable of expressing its ele1nental
biological en1otions. It is fau1iliar \Vith the sensation of tickling but
has never experienced orgonotic pleasure. The arn1ored individual
cannot express a sigh of pleasure or consciously imitate it. \\7hen he
tries to do so, the result is a groan, a suppressed, pent-up roar, or
even an in1pulsc to vo1nit. He is incapable of venting anger or of
banging his fist in an in1itation of anger. He cannot breathe out
fully. I lis diaphragrn is \cry constricted in its move1nents. (This can
be easily ascertained through X-rays.) He is not capable of tnoving
the pelvis for\vard. Asked to do so, an annored person \viii often not
understand \vhat is \\ranted of hirn or he \Vill execute the \vrong
movement, i.e., a n1ovetnent indicative of holding back. The exces-
sive strain on the peripheral muscles and the nervous systen1 causes
the ar1nored organisrn to be acutely sensitive to pressure. It is not
possible to touch an arn1ored organisn1 on certain parts of the body

Tai I end Head end

The basic biophysical attitude of the unarmored organism

\ Back

Head end

The basic biophysical attitude of the annored organism:

"holding back''

\Vithout producing 1nanifestations of acute anxiety or nervousness.

It is quite likely that \vhat is popularly kno\vn as "nervousness" can
be traced back to this hypcrscnsith"'ity of the overtensed muscles.
The incapacity for plas1natic pulsation and convulsion in the
sexual act, i.e., orgastic ii11potence, is the result of this total holding
back. This, in turn, results in the stasis of sexual energy, and from
Therapy 147

this sexual stasis follows everything \vhich I include under the

concept "biopathy."
The central task of orgone therapy is to destroy the armor, in
other words, to restore the motility of the body plasma. In the
armored organisn1, the pulsation function of all organs is impaired
to a greater or lesser degree. It is the task of orgone therapy to
reestablish the full capacity for pulsation. This takes place biophysi-
cally when the mechanism of holding back is destroyed. The result
of an ideal orgone therapy is the appearance of the orgasm reflex.
Apart from respiration, it is, as \Ve know, the most important mani-
festation of n1ovement in the anilnal kingdom. At the moment of
orgasm, the organism completely "surrenders" itself to the sensa-
tions of its organs and the involuntary pulsations of the body. This
explains the intimate connection between the movement of the
orgasm reflex and the expression of "surrender." Those who are
familiar \Vith our \Vork kno\v that \Ve do not urge the patient to
"surrender" himself or herself. It \vould not serve any purpose
anyhow, for he or she \Vould not be able to do so. If the patient
could, he \vould have no need to call upon our help. Nor do \Ve
allow the patient to practice "surrender." There is no technique
capable of consciously producing the involuntary attitude of sur-
render. The living organism functions autonomously, beyond the
sphere of language, intellect, and volition. It functions in accor-
dance with definite la,vs of nature, and it is these laws \Ve shall
investigate here. The orgasm reflex, together with its physical
manifestations of surrender, is, as \vill soon be sho\vn, the key to the
understanding of the fundaJnental processes of nature, \Vhich far
transcend the individual and even the living organism. Hence, those
\vho \Vish to benefit from the further discussion of these phenomena
must prepare themselves for a journey deep into the realm of
cosmic energy. Those \vho have not \vholly freed themselves from
burlesque concepts of sexuality will be bitterly disappointed and
\vill fail to comprehend even the most rudimentary points.
We have already made a thorough study of the functions of the
orgasm in the field of psychology and physiology. Hence, here \Ve
148 \V I L H E L l\1 R E I C H

can concentrate exclusively on the fundan1ental natural phenome-

non of the "orgas1n." In the orgasnt, strangely enough, the organisrn
unceasingly atte1npts to bring together the tu;o e1nbryologically
ilnportant zones, the nzouth and the anus. Its fonn is:

The emotional expression of the orgasm reflex

I stated above that the attih1de fron1 \Vhich the orgasn1 reflex
derives is identical \Vith the n1oven1ent expressive of "surrender."
This is really quite obvious. The organism surrenders itself to its
plastnatic excitations and sensations of flo,ving; then it surrenders
itself cotnplctely to the partner in the sexual e1nbrace. Every forn1 of
reserve, holding back, and artnoring is abandoned. All biological
activity is reduced to the basic function of plastnatic pulsation. In
n1an, all thought and fantasy activity cease. The organism is ''sur-
rendered" in the purest sense of the \vord.
The 1noven1ent expressive of e1notional surrender is clear. What
is not clear is the function of the orgastic pulsation. This pulsation
consists in the alternating contractions and expansions of the entire
Therapy 149

body plasn1a. What function does the bringing together of the tu:o
ends of the trunk have in the orgastic pulsation? On first in1pression,
it appears to have no "nH.'aning'' \vhatcver. The expression of this
moven1ent is incon1prehensible. vVe said that every n1ove1nent of
the organisn1 has an intelligible expression. But this assertion docs
not hold up in the case of orgastic pulsation. \Ve cannot find in the
orgasm an intelligible expression, i.e., one capable of being trans-
lated into human language.
\Ve could at this point indulge in philosophical speculations
about this problen1. But this \vould not lead us any\vhere. Hence,
for the th11e being, \VC shall content ourselves \Vith the nah1ral
scientific explanation that, \vhile it appears to be unintelligible, the
orgastic pulsation n1ust nonetheless have a concealed expression.
For, like every n1oven1cnt of the living organisn1, it too is an expres-
sive Inove1nent; hence, its 1noven1ent n1ust of necessity have an
\Ve shall, in the further course of our investigations, arrive at
an amazing but incontestable ans\ver to this basic question of the
life function. But to arrive at this ans\ver \Ve n1ust first digress
considerably and collect and learn to collate correctly a large
number of biological pheno1nena. The ans\vcr goes deeper than the
individual biological organism; hence, it is suprapersonal; at the
sa1ne tirne, it is not in the least 1netaphysical or spiritualistic. It also
explains \vhy the orgastic yearning of living creah1rcs is not only the
very deepest yearning but, in a preen1inent \vay, cos1nic yearning.
To be sure, it is generally kno\vn that the organisn1 is a part of the
cosn1os, but until no\v it has not been kno\vn horc. Let us return to
the clinical experiences of orgonc therapy.
In tenns of or gone biophysics, it is our task to en a hie the
hu1nan organisn1 to give up its n1echanisn1 of holding back and to
achieve the ability to surrender. In other \Vords, as long as the ftco
en1bryonic ends of the trunk bend back1vard instead of bending
fortvard tou.:ard one another, the organisn1 u;ill be incapable of
surrendering itself to any experience, tvhether tvork or pleasure.
Since the 1nuscular arn1or hinders every forn1 of surrender and
causes every for1n of biopathic restriction of the life function, our

first task is to break do\vn the armor. Only by elin1inating n1uscular

rigidity can the goal of surrender be encompassed. It cannot be
achieved in any other \vay, be it psychoanalytic persuasion, sugges-
tion, prayer, or gyn1nastics. It is not necessary to tell our patients
anything \vhatever about this goal. Nun1erous experiences have
taught us that his total orgasn1 reflex will develop as a n1atter of
course \Vhcn \Ve have succeeded in breaking do\vn his 1nuscular
am1or. Our \vork has den1onstrated tirne and again that the essential
function of the 1nuscular artnor is that of preventing the orgas1n
Else\vhere, I have described nun1erous 1nechanisms of the
n1uscular artnor. The corresponding character arn1or has also been
described. N O\V I \Vant to introduce a new point of vic\v \vhich \viii
clatify character arn1or and 1nuscular annor at the level of the most
elen1cntal functions of life. The gern1ane observations \Vere made
over the past ten years or so. Hence, I have no hesitation in assum-
ing full responsibility for the i1nportance \vhich these observations
have in the field of biophysics.


It has been kno\vn to psychiatry for decades that the physical

disturbances of hysteria are not governed by the anaton1ical and
physiological processes of the n1uscles, nerves, and tissues as a
\vhole; rather, they arc detern1ined by definite, emotionally impor-
tant organs. For exan1ple, pathological blushing is usually conRned
to the face and neck, despite the fact that the blood vessels run
essentially along the length of the organistn. Like\vise, sensory dis-
turbances in hysteria are not spread along the nerve tract but are
confined to en1otionally significant regions of the body.
We run into the san1e situation in our \Vork of breaking do\vn
the muscular artnor. The individual n1uscular blocks do not follow
the course of a n1uscle or a nerve; they are altogether independent
of anato1nical processes. In carefully exan1ining typical cases of
Therapy 151

various illnesses in the search for a la\v that governs these blocks, I
discovered that the muscular annor is arranged in segrnents.
Biologically, this scgtnental arrangetnent is a n1uch more prhni-
tive form of living functioning than is found in the highly developed
anin1als. A conspicuous exatnple of segtncntal functioning is that of
ringed \vorn1s and the biological systetns related to them. In the
higher vertebrates, only the segtnental structure of the spine, the
nerve endings corresponding to the segtnents of the spinal cord, and
the segtnental arrangctnent of the ganglia of the autonomic nervous
system are indicative of the vertebrates' descent frotn segmentally
structured organisms.
I shall attempt in the follo\ving exposition to give only a rough
sketch of the scgtnental arrangen1ent of the tnuscular armor. These
representations are based on the observation of artnor reactions over
a period of many years.
Since the patient's body is held back and since the goal of
orgone therapy is to restore the plasmatic currents in the pelvis, it is
logically necessary to begin the \vork of breaking do\vn the armor at
the parts of the body farthest a\vay frotn the pelvis. Thus, the work
begins on the expression of the facial musculature. There are at
least tu;o clearly distinguishable, segtnentally arranged artnorings in
the head: one segment comprises the forehead, eyes, and the region
of the cheekbone; the other cotnprises the lips, chin, and jaws.
When I say that the artnor is segmentally arranged, I mean that it
functions circularly, in front, on both sides, and in back, i.e., like a
Let us refer to the first annor ring as the ocular and the second
as the oral armor ring. In the sphere of the ocular armor segment,
we find a contraction and hnn1obilization of all or ahnost all the
muscles of the eyeballs, the eyelids, the forehead, the lachrytnal
gland, etc. Rigid forehead and eyelids, expressionless eyes or bulg-
ing eyeballs, mask-like expression, and immobility on both sides of
the nose are the essential characteristics of this armor ring. The eyes
peep out as frotn a rigid mask. The patient is not capable of opening
his eyes \vide as if to imitate fear. In schizophrenics, the expression
152 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

of the eyes is blank, as if staring into space. This is caused by the

contraction of the eyeball n1uscles. ~~Iany patients have lost the
ability to shed tears. In others, the opening of the eyelids has been
reduced to a narrow, rigid slit. The forehead is \Vithout expression,
as if it had been "flattened out." Nearsightedness, astigmatism, etc.,
very often exist.
The loosening of the ocular armor segment is brought about by
opening the eyes \vide as in ftight; this causes the eyelids and
forehead to tnove and to express emotions. Usually, this also effects
a loosening of the upper check tnuscles, especially when the patient
is told to tnake grimaces. vVhen the cheeks are pulled up, the result
is that peculiar grin expressive of defiant, rnalicious provocation.
The segn1ental character of this n1usclc group is revealed by the
fact that every en1otional action in this area affects horizontally
adjacent areas but docs not carry over into the oral segment. While
it is true that the opening \vide of the eyelids, as in fright, is capable
of tnohilizing the forehead or of producing a grin in the upper part
of the cheeks, it is not capable of provoking the biting in1pulses
which are cemented in the clan1ped chin.
Hence, an ar1nor segntent co1nprises those organs and 1nuscle
groups tvhich have a functional contact tcith one another and tvhich
are capable of accouzpanying each other in the en1otional expressive
rnove1nent. In tPrn1s of biophysics, one scgtncnt ends and a different
segtnent begins \vhen the one ceases to affect the other in its emo-
tional actions.
The annor scgn1cnts alrrays have a horizontal structure-never
a vertical one, \vith the t\vo notable exceptions of the arms and legs.
Their arn1or functions in conjunction \Vith the adjacent arn1or seg-
rnents of the trunk, i.e., the arrns \Vith the segn1ent \vhich con1prises
the shoulders, and the legs \vith the segtnent \vhich cotnprises the
pelvis. We \Vant to take special note of this peculiarity. It will
becon1e intelligible in a definite biophysical context.
The second, i.e., the oral, arn1or segtnent comprises the entire
musculature of the chin, pharynx, and the occipital n1usculature,
including the rnuscles around the n1outh. They are functionally
Therapy 153

related to one another; e.g., the loosening of the chin arn1or is

capable of producing spasms in the musculature of the lips and the
related emotion of crying or desire to suck. Like,vise, the freeing of
the gag reflex is capable of n1obilizing the oral segrnent.
The en1otional 1nodes of expression of crying, furious biting,
yelling, sucking, grin1acings of all kinds in this segn1ent are depen-
dent upon the free n1otility of the ocular segment. Liberating the
gag reflex, for cxa1nple, will not necessarily release a suppressed
i1npulse to cry if the arn1or of the ocular ring has not already been
dissolved. And even after the t\VO uppern1ost arn1or segn1cnts have
been dissolved, it may still be difficult to release the impulse to cry
as long as the third and fourth segments further do\vn, at the
thorax, are in the condition of spastic contraction. This difficulty in
liberating the en1otions gives us an insight into an extremely ilnpor-
tant fact of biophysics:
1. The arn1orings have a segrnental, circular structure, ar-
ranged at right angles to the spine.
2. The plasrnatic currents and emotional excitations which we
resuscitate flou.: parallel to the body axis.
Thus, the inhibition of the e1notional language of expression
operates at right angles to the direction of the orgonotic current.
T\VO things are in1portant in this connection: ( 1) the orgonotic
currents n1erge in the orgasn1 reflex only when their passage along
the entire organisn1 is unobstructed; and ( 2) the arn1orings are
arranged in seg1nents cross\vise to the flo\v of the currents. It is
clear, therefore, that the orgastic pulsation can function only after
all the segn1ental ar1nor rings have been loosened. It is also clear
that the sensations of each body organ can merge into a sensation of
totality only \vhen the first orgastic convulsions have begun. They
preface the breakdo\vn of the n1uscular armor. The orgonotic cur-
rents \Vhich break through in the loosening of every additional
armor ring prove to be a tren1endous help in the dissolution \vork as
a \vhole. vVhat happens is this: the liberated body energy spontane-
ously attempts to flo\v lengthtcise. It runs into the still-unresolved
cross\vise contractions and gives the patient the unn1istakable sensa-

tion of a "block," a sensation \vhich \vas only very weak or alto-

gether absent as long as there \vere no free plas1natic currents
The reader is surely a\vare of the fact that these processes
represent pri1nary functions of the plas1na syste1n. They are not only
deeper than all hu1nan language but also central to the functioning
of the life apparatus. They are primordial phylogenetic functions. In
the segrnental arrangernent of the nzuscular arrnoring, tve meet the
u.:orm in man.

The direction of orgonotic current IS transverse to the

armor rings

The move1nents of the ringed \vorm are governed by excitation

\Vaves \vhich run fron1 the end of the tail along the axis of the body
for\vard to the "head." The excitation \vavcs are transmitted con-
tinuously fron1 segn1ent to segn1ent until they have reached the
for\vard end. At the hind end, one wave n1ove1nent follows another
in the process of locon1otion. In the \Vornl, the segnlents alten1ate
rhytlunically and regularly bet\veen contraction and expansion. In
the \vornl and the caterpillar, the function of locon1otion is insepa-
rably linked \vith this plasmatic \vave n1oven1ent. The logical con-
clusion is that biological energy is being transmitted in these tvave
movements, for it could be nothing else. This assertion is supported
by o bsc'rvations of the inner n1oven1ents of bions. The \vave-like
Therapy 155

movement of the body orgone is slow and, in tempo and expression,

wholly corresponds to the en1otional excitations \vhich, in the plea-
sure function, \Ve experience subjectively in an unequivocal wave-
like manner.
In arnzored hu1nan organisms, the orgone energy is bound in
the chronic contraction of the 1nuscles. The body orgone does not
begin to flo\v freely as soon as the arn1or ring has been loosened.
The first reaction is clonic shivering, along \Vith the sensation of
prickling, or "pins and needles." Clinically, this reaction tells us that
the armor is giving \vay and body orgone is being liberated.
Genuine sensations of plasmatic excitation \Vaves are experienced
only when a \vhole series of arn1or segments, e.g., muscular blocks
in the region of the eyes, mouth, throat, breast, and diaphragm,
have been dissolved. \Vhen this has been accomplished, marked
wave-like pulsations are experienced in liberated parts of the body
\vhich 1nove up to\vard the head and do\vn to,vard the genitalia.
Very often the organisn1 reacts to these initial currents and pulsa-
tions \vith fresh arn1orings. Spas1ns in the deep musculature of the
throat, reverse peristalsis of the esophagus, diaphragmatic tics, etc.,
testify to the struggle taking place betteee n the impulse of the
current and the armor block. Since 1nore orgone energy has become
free than the patient is capable of discharging; since, n1oreover,
spasms block the plasmatic current at numerous points in the body,
the patient develops acute anxiety.
These phenomena, \vhich can be easily brought about by an
orgone therapist having son1e experience and technical skill, confirm
orgone biophysics's concept of the antithesis behveen the en1otion of
pleasure and the emotion of anxiety. 2 At this juncture, ho,vever, I
have to single out a ne\v pheno1nenon vvhich, until now, has not
been described clearly enough.
As soon as the Rrst armor blocks have been dissolved, the
moven1ent expressive of "surrender" appears more and n1ore, along
with the orgonotic currents and sensations. Ho,vever, its full unfold-
ing is hindered by those arn1or blocks that have not yet been
2Cf. Reich, The Function of the Orgasm (Vol. I of The Discovery of the

dissolved. Usually, it appears as if the organism tvanted to over-

come these undissolved arrnor blocks by force. The expression of
incipient surrender is transforn1ed into hate. This process is typical
and deserves special attention.
When, for example, the artnoring of the oral zone has been
sufficiently loosened to release a suppressed ilnpulse to cry, \Vhile
the neck and chest arn1orings are still untouched, we observe ho\v
the lo,vcr n1usculature of the face takes on the expression of \Vant-
ing to cry but not being able to. The expression of being on the
verge of tears is transforn1ed into a hateful grin of the n1outh-chin
zone. It is an expression of desperation, of extreme frustration. All
this can be sun11narized in the follo\ving formula:
IXTO DESTRUCTIVE RAGE. I shall have to con1e back to this transforma-
tion of an iinpulse after I have described the manifestations of the
other arn1or segn1ents.
The arn1or of the third scgn1ent cornprises essentially the deep
musculature of the neck, the platysma, and the sternocleidon1astoid
rnuscles. If one i1nitates the n1oven1ent expressive of the attitude of
anger or crying, one \vill have no difficulty in con1prehending the
etnotional function of the neck annor. The spastic contraction of the
neck segment also includes the tongue. In terms of anatomy, this is
easilv understood. Essentiallv, the tnusculature of the tongue is
~ ~

joined to the cervical bone systern and not to the lower facial bones.
This explains \vhy spasn1s in the n1usculature of the tongue are
functionally connected \Vith the pressing dc)\vn of the Adam's apple
and the contraction of the deep and surface n1usculature of the
throat. Fron1 the 1novements of the Adan1's apple, it is possible to
tell \vhen a patient's anger affect or in1pulsc to cry is unconsciously
and literally "s,vallo\ved." It is extren1ely difficult to eliminate this
tnethod of suppressing en1otions. \Vhile the hands can be used to
get at the surface 1nuscles of the neck, this is not possible in dealing
\Vith the larvnx
. 1nusculature. The best \vav . to eliininate the ''swal-
Io,ving" of cn1otions is to liberate the gag reflex. In the gag reflex,
the excitation \Vave in the esophagus is the reverse of the excitation
Therapy 157

wave which occurs in the ''swallowing" of tears or anger. If the gag

reflex begins to function or even goes so far as to cause the patient
to vomit, then the emotions are set free which were being held back
by the neck artnor.
At this point the lengthwise course of the emotional excitation
again becotnes significant. The gag reflex is accornpanied by an
expansion of the diaphragn1, i.e., by the lifting of the diaphragm
and expiration. vVork on the neck arn1or by 1neans of the gag reflex
brings about a loosening of the fourth and fifth armor segments. In
other words, we do not clilninate one artnor ring after the other in a
n1echanical and rigid n1anner. We work on an integrated life
systern, \vhose total plastna function is hindered by transverse
armor rings. But the loosening of an arn1or segn1ent liberates energy
which, in turn, helps to n1obilize arn1or rings at higher and lower
levels. It is therefore not possible to give a clear description of each
process involved in the dissolution of the n1uscular ar1nor.
Now I want to turn to the fourth, the chest scgn1ent. While it is
true that the ar1nor functions of this segtnent can be subdivided, it
is more advantageous to treat the chest as a whole.
The armo1ing of the chest is n1anifested in the elevation of the
bony structure, a chronic attitude of inhalation, shallow breathing,
and the ilnn1obilitv.. of the thorax. \Ve alreadv kno\v that the attitude

of inhalation is the n1ost in1portant instrument in the suppression of

any kind of en1otion. The artnoring of the chest is particularly
crucial not only because it represents a major part of the arn1oring
of the organism in general but also because the biopathic sytnptoms
have an especially dangerous character in this region.
All the intercostal tnuscles, the large chest muscles (pectoral),
the shoulder n1uscles (deltoid), and the muscle group on and
behveen the shoulder blades are involved in the arn1o1ing of the
chest. The attitudes of being "self-contained'' or "self-controlled," of
"sticking to oneself,'' "being reserved," arc the major n1anifestations
of the chest arn1or. Shoulders \Vhich are pulled back express pre-
cisely what they tnean-"holding back." Together \Vith the neck
armor, the chest arn1or conveys the expression of suppressed "stub-
bornness" and "stiff-neckedness." When it is not chronically

arrnored, the expression conveyed by the movement of the fourth

segrnent is that of ''free-flo\ving feelings." When it is armored, the
expression is that of "imrnobility" or "indifference."
The chronic expansion of the thorax goes together with the
tendency to high blood pressure, palpitations, and anxiety; in
severe, long-standing cases, there is also the tendency to cardiac
enlargen1ent. Various cardiac defects result directly from this ex-
pansion or indirectly from the anxiety syndrorne. Puln1onary en1-
physen1a is a direct result of the chronic expansion of the chest
cavity. I am inclined to believe that the disposition to pneu1nonia
and tuberculosis is to be sought here also.
"Raging anger," ''heartfelt crying," ''sobbing," and "unbearable
longing" are essentially en1otions which originate in the chest seg-
rnent. These natural en1otions are alien to the armored organism. An
armored person's anger is "cold"; he looks upon crying as "childish,"
'"unmanly," and ''characterless"; he regards longing as "effeminate,"
the sign of a "weak character."
Most of the ernotional expressive rnovernents of the arrns and
hands also sten1 fron1 the plasmatic emotions of the organs of the
chest. In terrns of biophysics, these lirnbs are extensions of the chest
segment. In the artist, who is capable of freely unfolding his yearn-
ings, the en1otion of the chest extends directly into the wholly
synchronized en1otions and expressive movements of the arms and
hands. This is equally true of the violin virtuoso and piano virtuoso,
as it is of the painter. In the dance, the essential expressive move-
n1ents derive fron1 the organisn1 as a \Vhole.
The "awkwardness" of the arrns and probably a part of a
person's lack of n1usicality also derive fro1n the chest armor. It is
largely responsible for the expression of "hardness" and "inaccessi-
bility." In European cultural circles and in an especially pronounced
way among the "higher circles" of Asia, total arn1oring of the head,
neck, and chest segments invests the organisn1 with the mark of
"nobility." The ideals of "character firmness," "hauteur," "detach-
rnent," "grandeur," and "control" correspond to this. Militarism the
world over rnakes use of the expression en1bodied in the armoring
of the chest, neck, and head as an en1phasis of "unapproachable
Therapy 159

dignity." It is clear that these attitudes are based on the armor and
not vice versa.
In son1e patients \Ve find a \Vhole series of interrelated life
problems \vhich derive fron1 the armoring of the chest. Typically,
these patients cotnplain about a "knot" in the chest. This organ
sensation leads us to believe that the esophagus ( sitnilar to the
globus hystericus in the pharynx) is spastic. It is difficult to say
\vhether the trachea is involved in this, but very likely it is. In the
process of loosening this inner "knot," we learn that rage and
anxiety are bound in it. To release this "knot" in the chest, it is
often necessary to press do\vn the chest cavity and at the san1e tin1e
have the patient screan1. The inhibition of the inner chest organs
usually entails an inhibition of those arn1 n1ovements which express
''desire,'' "en1bracing," or "reaching for sornething." It is not that
these patients are handicapped in any 1nechanical \vay. They can
tnove their arn1s quite \vell. However, as soon as the movement of
the arms becomes associated tvith the expressive movement of
yearning or desiring, the inhibition sets in. Someti1nes this inhibition
is so strong that the hands and especially the finger tips lose their
orgonotic charge, becon1e cold and clamn1y, and, on occasion,
acutely painful. It is very likely that Raynaud's gangrene of the
finger tips is based on this specific anorgonia. In many cases it is
simply an impulse to choke \vhich is arn1ored in the shoulder blades
and in the hands and is responsible for vaso1notor constriction in the
finger tips.
We find the life of such patients ruled by a general inhibition of
initiative and by disturbances in their \Vork caused by their inability
to use the hands freely. Son1etimes the armoring of the chest cavity
in \VOinen goes hand in hand \vith a lack of sensitivity of the
nipples. Disturbances of sexual gratification and aversion to nursing
a baby are the direct results of this armoring.
Between the shoulder blades, there are two painful muscle
bundles in the region of the bapezius n1uscles. Their armoring
creates the in1pression of suppressed defiance \Vhich, together \Vith
pulled-back shoulders, can be best described by the \vords "I
160 \V I L H E L :J\f R E I C H

vVhen the chest is ar1nored, the intercostal n1uscles demonstrate

an acute sensitivity to tickling. That this sensitivity is not "siinply
not \Vanting to be tickled" but a biopathic increase of excitability is
evidenced by the fact that it disappears \Vhen the chest armor has
been dissolved. In one particular case, the character attitude of
inaccessibility had essentially one function, namely "Don't touch
me! fn1 ticklish.''
It should be clear that it is not n1y intent to ridicule these
character attitudes. It is n1erely that \Ve see then1 for \Vhat they are,
i.e., not as the en1bodin1ent of "higher" and "nobler" character traits
but as the expression of biophysical conditions. A general n1ay or
may not be a person of "high esteen1.n We \Vant neither to glorify
nor to deprecate him. Yet \Ve \viii not have ourselves deprived of the
right to look upon hiln as an anirnal having a special kind of arn1or.
It \Vottld not bother me if another scientist \Van ted to reduce my
thirst for kno\vledge to the biological function of a puppy \vho goes
around sniffing at everything. Indeed, it \vould n1ake n1e happy to
be biologically compared to a lively and lovable puppy. I have no
desire to distinguish n1yself fron1 the aniinal.
This much n1ust be clear: there can be no thought of establish-
ing orgastic potency until the chest arn1or has been dissolved and
the cn1otions of rage, yearning, and genuine sorrow have been
liberated. Essentiallv, the function of surrender is linked to the

plasmatic n1ovemcnt of the chest and neck segments. Even if it \vere

possible to n1obilize the pelvic segn1ent independently, the head
\vould auton1atically n1ove fortvard in stubborn defense instead of
n1oving back\vard, as soon as the slightest sensation of pleasure \Vas
experienced in the pelvis.
I have already pointed out that the annoring of the chest con-
stitutes a central part of the n1uscular armoring in general. Histori-
.,. it can be traced back to the most crucial and most conflict-
ridden turning points in the life of the child, most likely to a point
considerably before the developn1ent of the pelvic artnor. Hence, it
is not surprising to find that, in the course of dissolving the chest
arn1or, \Ve elicit rcn1cn1branccs of tratnnatic n1istrcahnents of all
kinds, frustrations of love, and disappoinhnents in the person
Therapy 161

responsible for the child's upbringing. I have also explained \vhy

ren1en1bering traun1atic experiences is not essential for orgone ther-
apy. It serves little purpose unless acco1npanied by the correspond-
ing emotion. The ernotion expressed in the n1overncnt is more than
sufficient to n1ake the patient's n1isfortunes con1prehensible, quite
apart from the fact that the ren1en1branccs emerge of then1selves
when the therapist \Vorks correctly. \Vhat re1nains puzzling is ho\v
unconscious rnernory functions can be dependent upon the condi-
tions of plasn1atic excitation, ho\v 1nemories can be preserved, so to
speak, in plastnatic a\varcness.
No\V let us turn to the fifth, the diaphragmatic sPgincnt. The
segn1ent \vhich comprises the diaphragn1 and the organs \Vhich lie
belo\v it is, in tcrrns of its function, independent of the chest seg-
ment. This is borne out by the fact that, even after the chest armor
has been dissolved and rage and tears have broken forth, the
diaphragmatic block ren1ains unaffected. It is easy to observe the
inunobility of the diaphragn1 through a fluoroscope. vVhile it is true
that, through forced breathing, the diaphragm is capable of moving
better than before the dissolving of the chest arn1or, it is also true
that, until the diaphragn1atic block has been eliminated, there is no
spontaneous diaplzragnulfic pulsation. Thus, there arc ttco stages in
the dissolution of the diaphragtnatic block.
In the process of loosening the chest arn1or, we make the
patient breathe consciously and deeply. This causes the diaphragm
to n1ove n1ore expansively but not spontaneously. As soon as this
forced respiration is stopped, the rnoven1ent of the diaphragrn and,
\Vith it, the respiratory moven1ent of the chest cavity also cease. We
have to extract the expressive tnovenwnt from the diaphragmatic
armor to be able to accomplish the second step of spontaneous
diaphragmatic pulsation. This is a fresh confirmation of the fact
that n1echanical rncans are of no use in reactivating biological emo-
tional functions. It is only through the biological expressive move-
ment that \VC can loosen the arn1or ring.
The fifth arn1or segn1ent forms a contraction ring \Vhich extends
for\vard over the epigastriurn, the lower part of the sternum, back
along the lo\verrnost ribs to\vard the posterior insertions of the
162 \V I L H E L ~1 R E I C H

diaphragtu, i.e., to the tenth, eleventh, and t\velfth thoracic verte-

brae. Essentially, it con1prises the diaphragm, the stotnach, the solar
plexus, including the pancreas, \vhich lies in front of it, the liver,
and t\vo bulging 1nuscle bundles extending alongside the lo\ver-
nlost thoracic vertebrae.
The overt tnanifestation of this arn1or ring is lordosis of the
spine. Usually, the therapist can push his hand bct\veen the pa-
tient's back and the couch. The lower front rib 1nargin is thrust
for\vard and protruding. It is difficult or altogether in1possible to
bend the spine for\vard. On the fluoroscope, \ve can see that the
diaphragn1 is in1Inobile under usual conditions and that it tnoves
but little under forced breathing. If \ve tell the patient to breathe
consciously, he \vill ahvays inhale. Exhalation as a spontaneous
action is alien to hhn. If he is told to exhale, he has to n1ake a
considerable effort. If he succeeds in exhaling a bit, his body
automatically asstu11es an attitude \vhich \Vorks counter to exhala-
tion. The head n1oves for\vard or the musculature of the oral armor
ring beco1nes n1orc acutely contracted. The shoulder blades are
pulled back and the ar1ns arc pressed tightly against the upper part
of the body. The pelvic n1usculature is tensed and the back is tnore
rigidly arched.
The diaphragtnatic block is the central tnechanism of this
region. Hence, the destruction of this block is one of the central
tasks of the therapy.
The dissolution of the arn1or in the diaphragmatic segn1ent
entails the overcotning of n1any difficulties. Why is this so? The
message of the body expression \vhich is opposed to this \Vork is
quite clear, though the patient has no a\vareness of it: the organis1n
refuses to allo\v the diaphragtn to expand and contract freely.
Ho,vever, if the upper segtnents have been properly loosened, it can
only be a n1atter of tiine until the diaphragn1 armor is also dis-
solved. For example, forced respiration in the chest segment or
repeated freeing of the gag reflex can urge the organis1n to\vard
orgastic pulsation. Irritation of the shoulder n1uscles by means of
pinching can have the san1e effect.
Theoretically, \Ve understand \vhy the resistance to the full
Therapy 163

pulsation of the diaphragn1 is so strong: the organisn1 defends itself

against the sensations of pleasure or anxiety \Vhich the diaphrag-
nlatic illOVCI11Cnt inevitably entails. r{O\VCVCr, \Ve cannot pretend that
this statement offers anything more than a rationalistic and psycho-
logistic explanation. Such an explanation presupposes that the orga-
nism "thinks" and "deliberates" rationally, some\vhat as follo\vs:
"This meticulous physician den1ands that I let n1y diaphragm
expand and contract freely. If I con1ply, I shall experience the
sensations of anxiety and pleasure \Vhich I experienced \vhen my
parents punished n1e for enjoying n1yself. I have reconciled n1yself
to the situation as it is. II ence, I shall not con1ply."
The living organisn1 neither thinks nor deliberates in a rational
manner. It does not do or fail to do things "in order to ..." The
living organisn1 functions in harn1ony \Vith the primary plasmatic
emotions, \vhich have the function of gratifying biological tension
and needs. It is sin1ply in1possible to translate the language of the
living organisn1 directly into the \vord language of consciousness. It
is extren1ely iinportant to realize this, for the rationalistic thinking
\vhich has shaped man's 111echanistic civilization is capable of
smothering and extinguishing our insight into the fundamentally
different language of the living organisn1.
I should like to cite an especially clear clinical case to illustrate
the novelty of the phenon1ena involved here:
A patient \Vho had considerable intellectual insight into orgone
therapy and had already succeeded in dissolving a substantial part
of the armor of the upper body \Vas asked to n1ake an effort to break
through the diaphragn1atic arn1or. \Ve \Vere in con1plete agreen1cnt
about the situation. Both in talking about and in applying hin1self to
this task, the patient sho\ved an affirn1ative attitude. Yet, as soon as
a s1nall breach had been n1ade in the \vall of the diaphragn1atic
arn1or, the patient's trunk, fron1 the diaphragn1 do\vn\vards to the
pelvis, began to jerk sidetcays. This \Vas very puzzling, to say the
least. And it took considerable effort to understand \vhat this
n1oven1ent \Vas trying to express.
In its sidetcard 1novement, the lou;er part of the trunk ex-
pressed a resolute NO. It is n1erely necessary to 1nove one's right

hand from side to side, in such a \vay as to say ''no-no," to under-

stand the expressive Inovement we are dealing with here.
Psychologistically or, better yet, mystically, it n1ight be as-
sumed that the plasn1a systen1, beyond word language, expressed a
vehen1ent NO to an undertaking \vhich "the cortex" and word lan-
guage affirn1ed. Such an interpretation of the process would be
false, and it would not lead a step closer to an understanding of the
living organis1n and its expressive language. This patient's abdomen
and pelvis did not "deliberate,, upon the demand which was made
upon the organisn1. They did not "decide" to refuse to con1ply.
There \Vas a different process involved here, one n1orc in keeping
with the expressive language of the living.
As \Ve pointed out, the plasn1atic 1noven1ents of a worm are
directed length,vise along the body axis. When the orgonotic excita-
tion waves n1ove the body of the \VOr!11 for\vard, \Ve gain the
"ilnpression" that the \Vorn1 is acting purposefully, i.e., "volition-
ally.,, The expressive n1oven1ent of the \VOI1.n, s living organism can
be translated into the \vords of our language \vhich mean "wanting
to," ''saying yes to," etc. If, now, we take a pair of pincers and
squeeze the \Vorn1 somewhere around the middle of its body so that
the orgonotic excitation is interrupted as by an armor block, the
unified purposeful forward n1oven1ent and, with it, the expressive
Inovcinent of '\vanting to" and "saying yes to', n1on1entarily cease to
function. These are replaced by another n1oven1cnt, namely a side-
\vays hvisting back and forth of the lower or hind part of the body,
\Vhile the front part is drawn in. The immediate im'Pression con-
veyed by this seesa\ving side-to-side n1oven1ent of the body is one
expressive of pain or a vehement "No, don't do that, I can't stand
it." vVe arc not forgetting that \Ve are speaking of our intpression
here, i.e., an interpretation \vhich \Ve experience immediately while
observing the \vorn1. But \Ve \vould act exactly like the worn1 if
so1neone fastened a large cla1np around our trunk. We \vould
automatically dra\v in our head and shoulders and struggle side-
ways \Vith our pelvis and legs.
This con1prehension of the process docs not n1ean that \Ve have
taken up \vith the subjectivists \vho contend that \Ve perceive
Therapy 165

''nothing but our own sensations" and that these sensations do not
correspond to any reality. Basically, everything that lives is func-
tionally identical. It follo\vs, therefore, that the reactions of the
worm to the pincers are identical to \vhat ours \vould be in a sin1ilar
situation. The reactions of pain and the effort to ward off the pain
are the sarne. This functional identity between man and \Vorrn
enables us to be "iinpressed,;J in the correct, objectively true sense of
the word by the expressive n1oven1ent of the wriggling worm. In
fact, the \vorm's overt expression conveys what \Ve sense through
identification. But we do not directly sense the worm's pain and its
crying of ''no"; we rnerely perceive an expressive n1oven1ent \vhich,
under any circun1stances, \vould be identical \vith the expressive
rnoven1ent of our plasma systen1 in the sarne painful situation.
It follows fron1 this that tee contprehend the expressive move-
ments and the etnotional expression of another living organis1n on
the basis of the identity betu.;een our otvn e1notions and those of all
living things.
'Ve have a direct con1prehension of the language of living
organisms based on the functional identity of the biological en1o-
tions. After we have grasped it in this biological language of
expression, \Ve put it "into \vords": \Ve translate it into the \vord
language of consciousness. Ho\vever, the word "no" has as n1uch,
actually as little, to do \vith the language of expression of the living
organisn1 as the \vord "cat" has to do \vith the flesh-and-blood cat
which crosses the street in front of our eyes. In reality, the word
"cat" and the specific orgonotic plasrna systen1 \Vhich n1oves there in
front of us have not/ring to do \Vith one another. As the many
various designations for the phenon1enon "cat" testify, they are
merely loose, randon1ly interchangeable concepts \vhich are at-
tached to the real phenon1ena, n1overnents, emotions, etc.
These observations sound like ''highbro\v" or "lowbro\v" natural
philosophy. The layn1an is averse to natural philosophy and will,
therefore, put this book aside because it C(does not rest upon the
solid foundation of reality." The reader \vho shares this thought is
mistaken. I shall den1onstrate in the follo\ving pages h()\V important
it is to think correctly and to usc both concepts and \Vords prope-rly.
166 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

It \vill be sho,vn that a \Vhole \vorld of mechanistically oriented

biologists, physicists, bacteriologists, etc., really believed, fro1n 1936
to 1945-i.e., in the period during \vhich the functions of the living
organisn1 \vere being discovered-that it \vas the \vord "cat" n1oving
on the street and not a con1plicated living product of nature.
Let us rehtrn to the '"no-no'' n1oven1ent of our patient. Its nlean-
ing is this: u;lzen a plasnwtic current cannot run along the body in a
lengthu.:ise direction because it is obstructed by transverse arntor
blocks, a sideu:ard 1novernent results u:hich, secondarily, tneans xo
in u:ord language.
''No" in \vord language corresponds to the "no" of the expres-
sive language of the living organisn1. It cannot be ascribed to n1ere
chance that "no" is expressed by a transverse Inoveinent of the head,
\vhile "yes" is expressed by a length\vise n1oven1ent of the head. The
"no-no'' \vhich our patient expressed by the side\vard seesa,ving of
his pelvis disappeared only after the diaphragn1atic block had
been dissolved. And it regularly reappeared \vhen this block
These facts are of supren1e in1portance for the understanding of
the body language. Our patient's general attihtde to\vard life \Vas
also of a negative nature. "No" \Vas the basic attitude of his charac-
ter. Though he suffered fnnn and fought against this character
attitude, he could not escape it. No n1atter ho\v n1uch he consciously
and intellectually \\~anted to say YES, to be positive, his character
continually expressed xo. Both the historical and biophysiological
functions of this "no" on the part of his character \Vere easy to
understand. As so n1any s1nall children do, he had constantly had
enen1as giYen by his severely cotnpulsivc n1other. Like other chil-
dren, he too had subtnitted to this crin1e \vith horror and inner rage.
To diininish the fury of his rage, to be able to endure this violation
by his 1nother, ''he contained hin1self," pulled up on his pelvic floor,
severely reduced his breathing, generally developed the body atti-
tude of "no-no.'' Everything that ,,as alive in hiln \van ted (but \Vas
not allf)\ved) to cry out "'no-no'' to this violation, the result being
that he can1e a\vay hotn this experience pennanently scarred. Fron1
then on, the overt expression of his life systen1 became a funda-
Therapy 167

n1ental negation to\vard everything and everybody. And though this

negative character attitude represented an acute syn1ptom, it \Vas,
at the satne tin1e, the expression of a sbong self-defense \vhich,
originally, had been rational and justified. But this self-defense,
rationally motivated in the beginning, had taken on the form of a
chronic arn1or, \vhich \Vas rigidly shut off to everything.
I explained else\vhere that a childhood experience is capable of
having an "effect front the past" only insofar as it is anchored in a
rigid armor tvhich continues to operate in the present. In our
patient, the original, rationally tnotivated "no-no" had, over the
years, been transformed into a neurotic and irrational "no-no." It
had, in other \Vords, becon1c en1bedded in a chronic character
armor which \Vas responsible for sustaining and expressing it. The
"no-no" expression disappeared \Vith the dissolution of the armor in
the treatn1ent. Thus, too, the historical event, the assault by the
mother, lost its pathological meaning.
From the point of vie\v of depth psychology, it is correct to say
that, in this patient, the affect of the defense, of the "crying no to,''
was "clamped do\Vn." Seen fron1 the perspective of the biological
core, on the other hand, it was not a n1atter of a ''clamped-down"
"no-no" but of the incapacity on the part of the organisrn to say YES.
A positive, affirmative attitude in life is possible only \Vhen the
organism functions as a totality, \Vhen the plasn1atic excitations,
together with the emotions pertaining to them, can pass through all
the organs and tissues \vithout obstruction, when, in short, the
expressive n1oven1ents of the plasn1 are capable of flo,ving freely.
As soon as even one single artnor block limits this function, the
expressive n1oven1ent of affiimation is disturbed. Small children
then cannot become fully ilntnersed in their games, adolescents fail
in their work or in school, adults function like a moving car with the
en1ergency brake on. The onlooker, the teacher, or the technical
supervisor gets the "in1pression" that the person is lazy, recalcitrant,
or incapable. The "blocked" person hin1self feels he is a failure, "no
n1atter how hard he tries." This process can be translated into the
language of the living organisn1: the organisrn altcays starts out by
functioning in a biologically correct tcay, by flotcing freely and
168 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

giving. H otvever, in the 11assage of tlze orgonotic excitations through

the organisrn, the functioning is irnpeded and the expression of
''I take pleasure in doingn is translated into an autornatic "I won't"
or "I don~t tvant to., In sho1t, the organis1n is not responsible for its
own rnalfunctioning.
This process is of universal in1portance. I have intentionally
selected clinical exan1ples that have general validity. This was abso-
lutely necessary. On the basis of these restrictions in human func-
tioning, \Ve shall arrive at a deeper and n1ore comprehensive
understanding of a \vhole series of unfortunate social phenornena
which remain unintelligible \vithout their biophysical background.
After this long but necessary digression, let us return to the
fifth annor segn1ent. In the upper segments, once \Ve had succeeded
in liberating the expressive n1oven1ents from the armor ring, the
overt expression \vhich ensued could easily be interpreted. The
inhibition of the eye muscles causes "empty" or "sad" eyes. A
firmly clenched ja\v may be expressive of "suppressed anger." A
crying or roaring breaks loose from the "knot in the chest."
Body language is easily translated into \vord language and the
expressive moven1ent is imn1ediately intelligible \vhen we are work-
ing on the four upper segrnents. The situation is n1ore co1nplicated
when \VOrking on the diaphragn1atic segrnent. Once the armor of
the diaphragrnatic segn1ent ltas been dissolved, tee are no longer in
a position to translate the language of 1novenwnt into tvord lan-
guage. This requires a detailed explanation. The overt expression
\vhich ensues \vhen \Ve have dissolved the armor of the diaphrag-
Inatic segment leads us into the uncornprehendcd depths of the life
function. We rneet a ne\v proble1n here: in \vhat concrete way is the
human anin1al related to the priinitive anin1al \vorld and to the
cos1nic function of the or gone?
We succeed in liberating the diaphragrnatic segment from the
armor by having the patient repeatedly release the gag reflex, while
strictly enjoining him not to suspend respiration during the gagging
but to continue to inhale and exhale forcefully. The repeated releas-
ing of the gag reflex leads inevitably to the dissolution of the
diaphragn1atic ar1nor. There is only one precondition: the armor of
Therapy 169

the upper segtnents n1ust have been dissolved beforehand, i.e., the
orgonotic currents in the regions of the head, neck, and chest n1ust
function freelv .

As soon as the diaplzragnt expands and contracts freely, i.e.,

respiration functions fully and spontaneously, the trunk strives, tvith
each exhalation, to fold up in the region of the upper abdomen. In
other tvords: the neck end strices foru.:ard tozcard the pelvic end.
The upper n1iddle part of the abdon1en is dra\vn in. This is the
picture of the orgasn2 reflex as it is displayed to us for the first tin1e.
(It is still a distorted picture, for the pelvis is still not \vholly
loosened.) The for\vard bending of the trunk accompanied by the
backtvard n1ovcment of the head expresses "surrender." It is not
difficult to understand this. The difficulties begin tchen the convul-
sions start in a foncard direction. The entotional expression of the
convulsions in the orgasnt reflex is not imnzediately intelligible.
BE TRAXSLATED INTO \VORD LAXGUAGE. There must be a special
reason for this difficulty. \Ve have to asstnne that there is some
essential difference bet\veen the expressive movetnents \vhich \Ve
have bccon1e fa1niliar \vith thus far and the expressive n1ove1nent of
the \vhole trunk \vhich beco1nes 1nanifest \Vhen the diaphragm
functions freely.
I should like to ask the reader to follo\v n1e \vith the utmost
patience frotn nO\V on and not to \vithdra\v trust pretnaturely. His
patience \Vill be a1nply re\varded by the results \Vhich \Ve shall
achieve. I can assure the reader that I n1yself have had to exercise
the greatest patience for more than a decade to arrive at the find-
ings I am about to describe. Again and again during these years I
despaired in the attempt to comprehend the orgasm reflex; it
seen1ed absolutely in1possible to n1ake this basic biological reflex
accessible to hun1an concepts. Ho\vever, I refused to give up, for I
neither could nor \Vanted to adn1it that the living organisn1, \vhich
has an immediately intelligible language of expression in all other
spheres, should, precisely in the central sphere, the orgasn1 reflex,
express nothing. This seemed so contradictory, so cotnpletely ab-
surd that I silnply could not accept it. Tilne and again I told tnyself
170 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

that I \Vas the one \vho had said that the living organism simply
functions, that it did not have any c;'n1eaning." It seetned correct to
suppose that the "inexpressiveness" or "n1eaninglessness" of the
orgastic convulsions indicated precisely this: in its basic function,
the living organism does not reveal any 1neaning. Yet the attitude of
surrender \Vhich becon1cs n1anifcst in the orgasm reflex is both
expressive and n1eaningful. Undoubtedly, the orgastic convulsions
thetnselves arc full of expression. I had to tell 1nyself, then, that
natural science had si1npl y not yet learned to comprehend this
\videly diffused, indeed universal, cn1otional expression of the living
organism. In short, an inner "expressive n1oven1ent" \Vithout overt
"en1otional expression" seetned to n1e to be an absurdity.
Vomiting represents one approach to the problem, for the
patient often votnits \vhen the diaphragrnatic armor is broken
through. Just as there is an inability to cry, there is also an inability
to vo1nit. This inability is easy to understand in terms of orgone
biophysics. Together \vith the annor rings which lie above it, the
diaphragmatic block prevents peristaltic \Vave-like movement of
the body energy upward fron1 the stomach to\vard the mouth. In
the satne \vay, the Hknot" in the chest and "swallo\ving," together
\vith the contraction of the eye muscles, prevent crying. In other
cases of diaphrag1natic blocks, there is, in addition to the inability
to von1it, constant nausea. There can be no doubt that "nervous
ston1ach" con1plaints are the direct consequence of the arn1oring in
this area, though we still do not have a thorough understanding of
the connection bet\veen the t\vo.
Vomiting is a biological expressive movetnent whose function
performs precisely \vhat it "expresses": convulsive expulsion of body
contents. It is based on a peristaltic Inovetnent of the stomach and
esophagus in a direction contrary to its norn1al function, namely
tou;ard the 1nouth. The gag reflex loosens the artnor of the dia-
phragrnatic segtncnt radically and quickly. Vo1niting is accom-
panied by a convulsion of the trunk, a rapid folding in the pit of the
ston1ach, with the neck and pelvic end ;erking foru:ard. In the colic
of small children, von1iting is acco1npanied by diarrhea. In terms of
energy, strong excitation ux1ves run front the center of the body
Therapy 171

upward toward the nwuth and downtcard toward the anus. The
e1notional expression in this case speaks such an ele1nentary lan-
guage that there can be no doubt of the deep biological nature of
this language. It is n1erely a question of understanding it.
The total n1overnent \vhich seizes the trunk in vomiting is,
purely physiologically (not en1otionally), the san1e as that of the
orgasn1 reflex. This is also confir1ned clinically: the dissolution of the
diaphragn1atic block introduces, \vith certainty, the first convulsions
of the trunk \vhich, subsequently, develop into the total orgasn1
reflex. These convulsions are accompanied by deep exhalation and
an excitation \Vave \vhich spreads up,vard from the region of the
diaphragn1 to\vard the head and do\\n,vard to\vard the genitalia. ' '7e
kno\v that the dissolution of the upper arn1or segn1ents is an indis-
pensable precondition to the release of the total convulsion of the
trunk. In the n1ove1nent of the excitation \vave to\vard the pelvis,
the orgonotic excitation invariably n1ns into a block in the n1iddle of
the abdomen. Either the n1iddle of the abdomen contracts sharply
and quickly or the pelvis n1oves back\vard and becomes crarnped in
this position.
This contraction in the rniddle of the abdon1en represents the
sixth independently functioning arn1or ring. The spasn1 of the large
abdon1inal muscle (Rectus abdorninis) is accon1panied by a spastic
contraction of the hvo lateral rnuscles (Transversus abdomini.s),
\Vhich run from the lo\vern1ost ribs to the upper n1argin of the
pelvis. They can be easily palpated as hard painful n1uscle cords. In
the back, the lo\ver sections of the n1uscles running along the spine
( Latissilnus dorsi, sacrospinalis, etc.) correspond to this segment.
These n1uscles also can be clearly felt as hard painful cords.
The loosening of the si"Xth armor segment is easier than the
loosening of all the other segrnents ...After it has been dissolved, it is
easy to approach the arn1or of the seventh and last am1or segrnent,
the pelvic arn~or.
In most cases, the ar1nor of the pelvis cornprises aln1ost all the
muscles of the pehis. The \vhole pelvis is retracted. The abdon1inal
muscle above the syn1physis is painful. The sa1ne holds true for the
adductors of the thigh, those on the surface as \veil as those \vhich

lie deeper. The anal sphincter muscle is contracted, hence the anus
is pulled up. Let one contract the gluteal 1nusclcs voluntarily and it
\Viii be understood why the gluteal muscles are painful. The pelvis
is ''dead" and expressionless. This "inexpressiveness" is the "ex-
pression" of asexuality. Emotionally, no sensations or excitations are
felt. On the other hand, the symptoms are legion: constipation,
lutnbago, gro,vths of all kinds in the rectum, inflammation of the
ovaries, polyps of the uterus, benign and malignant tumors. Irri-
tability of the urinary bladder, anesthesia of the vagina and the
penis surface, \Vith hypersensitivity of the urethra, are also symp-
toms of the pelvic armor. Leukorrhea accon1panied by develop!nent
of protozoa from the vaginal epithelium (Trichomonas vaginal is) is
frequently found. In the n1ale, as a result of anorgonia of the pelvis,
\Ve find either the inability to achieve an erection or apprehensive
hyperexcitability resulting in pren1ature ejaculation. In the fernale,
\Ve find co1nplete vaginal anesthesia or spasn1 of the muscles of the
vaginal opening.
There is a specific "pelvic anxiety" and a specific "pelvic rage."
The pelvic arn1or is the same as the shoulder artnor, inasmuch as it,
too, holds bound in it ilnpulscs of rage as well as anxiety. Orgastic
impotence produces secondary irnpulses tvhich achieve sexual grati-
fication by force. No rnatter ho'v rnuch in keeping with the biologi-
cal pleasure principle the impulses of the act of love may
con11nence, the result is anything but pleasurable: since the armor
does not pern1it the developrnent of involuntary movements, i.e.,
does not perndt convulsions to pass through this segment, the
pleasure sensations are inevitably transforrned into impulses of rage.
The result is a torturous feeling of "having to get through," \Vhich
cannot be called anything but sadistic. In the pelvis, as every,vhere
else in the province of the living organisn1, inhibited pleasure is
transforrned into rage, and inhibited rage is transfor1ned into mus-
cular spasrns. This can he easily confinned clinically. No matter ho'v
far the loosening of the pelvic arrnor has advanced, no matter ho\v
n1obile the pelvis has beco1ne, the fact re1nains: pleasure sensations
in the pelvis cannot appear as long as the rage has not been liber-
ated franz the pelvic 1nttscles.
Therapy 173

In the pelvis, as in all other armor segrncnts, there is "beating"

or "piercing:>:) by rneans of strong for\vard-thrusting pelvic n1ove-
n1ents. The overt expression of this Inoveinent is unequivocal and
cannot be n1isunderstood. Besides the expression of rage, the ex-
pression of conternpt is also clearly evident: conten1pt for the pelvis
and all its organs, conten1pt for the sexual act and especially
conten1pt for the partner \vith 'vhon1 the act is carried out. On
the basis of \vide clinical t'xperience, I contend that when rncn
and won1en in our civilization engage in the sexual act it is sel-
dorn an expression of loYe. The rage \vhich usurps the initial love
in1pulses, hate, and sadistic emotion are all part and parcel of
n1odern man's conternpt for sex. I arn not speaking of the clear cases
in \vhich the sexual act is perforn1cd for profit or subsistence. I arn
speaking of the Inajority of people of all social strata. It is on the
basis of these clinical findings that the Latin saying, ''On1ne animal
post coitlun triste," has becon1e a scientific axion1. There is only one
error in this statement: rnan ascribes his O\vn disappoinhnent to the
anin1al. The rage and the conte1npt \vhich have so distorted the
expressive Inoven-.ent of genital love are reflected in the \videspread
vulgar terms of abuse \vhich are clustered around the \Vord "fuck."
In An1erica, one finds the \Vords "Knock me" \Vritten on the side-
vvalks-their tneaning is clear. I gave a thorough description of
these findings in Volurne I of my book The Discovery of the
Orgone. Hence, it is not necessary for n1e to go into detail here.



What is iinportant for our n1ain then1e is the fact that the pelvic
arn1or has an expression \vhich is easily translated into 'Nord lan-
guage and that the liberated e1notions speak a clear language. But
this holds true only for the emotions of the arn1or. It does not hold
true for the expressive 1novernents tvhich regularly beco1ne Jnanifest
after the dissolution of the anxiety and rage. These n1ove1nents
consist of soft for\vard and up,vard n1oYen1ents of the pelvis clearly
174 \V I L H E L l\.1 R E I C H

expressive of desire. It is as if the pelvic end \Vanted to arch for\vard

in an extren1e \vay. One thinks instinctively of the seesa\v Inove-
ments of the tail end of insects, e.g., of \vasps and bees. The
Inoveinent is illustrated \Vith special clarity in the attitude of the tail
end of dragonflies and butterflies in the sexual act. The basic form
of this lllOVeincnt is as follO\VS:

Tai I end Front

Head end


It continues the overt expression of surrender. Our subjective organ

sensation tells us that this attitude of surrender is accon1panied by
longing. "Longing" for \vhat? And "surrender, to \vhat?
\\lord language expresses the ain1 of the longing and the func-
tion of the surrender as follo\vs: as the organisin develops the
orgasn1 reflex, the yearni11g for '~gratification" en1erges clearly and
unconquerably. The yearning fur gratification is clearly focused
upon the sexual act, upon sexual copulation. In the sexual act itself,
one is "surrendered" to the sensation of pleasure; one "gives oneself
to the partner." This \VC kno\v fro1n observation as \veil as from our
subjective organ sensations.
\\1ord language appears to respond unequivocally to this natu-
ral phenon1enon. I say "appears." Since \vord language is only a
translation of the language of expression of the living organism, \Ve
don't kno\v \vhether the \Vords "copulation" and "gratification"
really express \vhat the function of the orgasm reflex is. Apart from
this, \Ve have already pointed out that the expressive movement of
the orgastic convulsions cannot be translated into \Vord language.
Let us venture a step further in doubting the ability of \Vord lan-
guage to n1ake natural phenotnena ilntnediately intelligible. The
Therapy 175

reader will be nonplused by our next question. If he thinks about it

for a moment, however, he \Viii concede that words are often mor(l
likely to lead us away front rather than closer to a con1prehension of
Our question is: vVhat is the origin of the extraordinary role of
tlze genital drive? No one has any doubts about its elemental and
instinctual force. No one is capable of escaping it; all living crea-
tures are subject to it. Indeed, copulation and the biological func-
tions related to it constitute that basic function of the living
organism which guarantees the continuation of its existence. Copu-
lation is a basic function of the "germ plasm," as conceived of by
Weissman; it is imn1ortal in the strict sense of the \Vord. Homo
sapiens has merely denied but in no way eliminated this powerful
force of nature. \Ve know the terrible human tragedies that have
resulted from this denial.
The existence of the living organisn1 is rooted in the SUPERI1\1PO-
SITION of two orgonotic systems of different sex. We have to admit
that we have no ans\ver to the sin1plest of all questions: What is the
origin of the function of the superimposition of two creatures of
different sex? What is its irnportance? What is its "meaning"? Why
is the perpetuation of living nature rooted precisely in this form of
movement and not in another?
The most general form of this movement of sexual superimpo-
sition is:

Sexual superilnposition goes together \vith orgonotic lumination

of the body cells and \vith the penetration and fusion of two
orgonotic energy systen1s into one functional unit. The two orgone
syste1ns \Vhich have becon1c one discharge their energy at the height
of excitation ( == hunination) in clonic convulsions. In this process,
energetically highly charged substances, i.e., spenn cells, are ejacu-
lated and, in turn, continue and fulfill the function of superilnposi-
tion, penetration, fusion, and energy discharge.
Ilerc, \Vord language is not capable of explaining anything. The
concepts \Vhich word language has fortned about the process of
sexual superilnposition are thcn1selves derivatives of the organ
sensations \vhich introduce, accotnpany, and follo\v the superilnpo-
sition. "Longing," "urge," "copulation,'' ''conjugation," "gratifica-
tion," etc., are rncrely iinages of a natural process that \Vords are not
capable of n1aking intelligihl('). To coinprchcnd this natural process,
\Ve have to seek out other prhnary natural processes \vhich have a
more general validity than the sexual superin1position of the orga-
nisn1 and are deeper than the organ sensations to \vhich the con-
cepts of \Vord language correspond.
There can be no doubt that the orgasm reflex functions accord-
ing to natural la\vs. It ahvays becon1es rnanifest in every successful
treahnent \Vhen the segrnental annor \vhich previously obstructed
its course has been completely dissolved. Nor can there be any
doubt that the sexual superin1position functions according to natu-
ral la\vs. It ensues inevitably \vhen the orgastn reflex functions
freely and no social obstacles stand in its way.
\Vc shall have to rnakc a \vide detour and compile a large
number of natural pheno1nena in order to comprehend the expres-
sive language of the living organisn1 in the orgasn1 reflex and in
superimposition. The failure of word language in this case points to
a function of nature beyond the reahn of the living. We use the
\vord "beyond" here not in the supernatural sense of the n1ystic but
in the sense of a functional relation bettceen living and non-living
For the tirnc being, \Ve n1ust conclude that \vord language is
capable of describing only such pheno1nena of life as can be corn-
Therapy 177

prehended through the organ sensations and corresponding expres-

sive movements, e.g., rage, pleasure, anxiety, vexation, disappoint-
ment, sorrovv, surrender, etc. Ho\vever, organ sensations and
expressive n1oven1ents are not the final criteria. At a certain point,
the natural lavv of non-living substance n1ust of necessity irnpinge
upon the living organism and express itself in it. This n1ust be
correct if life steins frcnn a non-living sphere and sinks back into it.
The organ sensations \vhich correspond specifically to the living
organisn1 are capable of being translated into \VOrds. \V' e cannot, on
the other hand, put into \vords the expressive moven1ents of the
living organisn1 vvhich do not belong specifically to u;hat is alive but
are pro;ected into the living realrn frorn the non-living. Since living
substance derives from non-living 1naterial \Vhich in turn derives
fron1 cos1nic energy, vve are justified in concluding that cosmic
energy functions in the living realln. lienee, it is possible that the
untranslatable expressive 1noven1ents of the orgasm reflex in sexual
superin1position represent the sought-for cos1nic orgoneJunctions.
I a1n well avvare of the 1nagnitudc of this vvork hypothesis. But
I see no \vay of avoiding it. It has been clinically established that
orgastic longing, i.e., yearning for superin1position, ahvays goes
together \Vith cos1nic longing and cosn1ic sensations. The mystical
ideas of innumerable religions, the belief in a Beyond, the doctline
of the transn1igration of the soul, etc., derive, \Vithout exception,
from cosmic longing; and, functionally, the cosn1ic yearning is
anchored in the expressive n1ove1nents of the orgasn1 reflex. In the
orgasrn, the living organisrn is nothing but a part of pulsating
nature. The idea that 1nan and aniinals in general are a "part of
nature" is \vell knovvn and \videlv disse1ninated. Ho\vever, it is

easier to use a phrase than to grasp, in a scientifically Inanageable

\vay, \vherein the essential functional identity of living substance
and nature concretely exists. It is easy to say that the principle of a
loco1notive is functionally identical to that of a siinple \Vheelbarro\v.
But a locomotive is essentially different fro1n a \VheelbarrO\V, and
one n1ust be able to state ho\v the principle of the locon1otive devel-
oped over the cenh1ries fron1 that of the wheelbarro\v.
\V'e see that the proble1n of the expressive language of the
178 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

living organisn1 is far tnore complex than one might suppose. Let us
attctnpt to peuetrate further and to seek out the silnilarities \Vhich
link the tnore highly developed \Vith the lesser developed forms of
The technique of orgone therapy has taught us that a tvorm
literally still functions in the hzonan aninull. The segn1ental arrange-
rnent of the arn1or rings can have no other meaning. The dissolution
of this segn1cntal arn1or liberates expressive movements and plas-
n1atic currents that arc independent of the anatomical arrangement
of nerves and n1uscles in vertebrates. They are much more in keep-
ing \vith the peristaltic movcn1ents of an intestine, a worm, or a
In spite of his developtnent fron1 phylogenetically older forms
of life, man is still vie\ved predominantly as an original creature
\Vith no connection to the forn1s fron1 \vhich he descended. The
segtnental character and, therefore, the \vorm character of the
biological core systen1 arc clearly preserved in the seg1nents of the
spine and the ganglia. However, this core system is segmental not
only in a n1orphological, i.e., rigid, forn1. The orgone functions and
the arrnor rings also represent functional segments, i.e., functions
having a highly contenzporaneous importance. They are not, as can
be said of the vertebrae, remnants of a dead past in a living present.
The orgone functions and the arn1or rings represent the most active
and most important functional apparatus of the present, the core of
all the biological functions of the human animal. The biologically
in1portant organ sensations and the emotions of pleasure, anxiety,
and rage derive fron1 the segn1ental functions of the human animal.
In the same \vay, expansion and contraction as functions of pleasure
and anxiety \Vere present in the living organism from the amoeba all
the \vay up to n1an. When one is happy, one carries one's head high;
\vhen one is afraid, one pulls it in, as a \VOrtn pulls in its front
If the an1oe ba and the \VOnn in the hun1an animal continue to
operate as core e lcmcnts of his en1otional functioning, then we are
justified in attempting to relate-and thereby comprehend-the basic
Therapy 179

biological reflex of the orgastic superimposition to the sirnplest

plasmatic functions.
We stated above that the dissolving of the diaphragmatic block
leads inevitably to the first orgastic convulsions of the body. We
also stressed that the limbs of the body \vere n1erely continuations
of the t\vo segn1ents of the chest and pelvis. The largest and most
i1nportant ganglion apparatus is located in the middle of the trunk,
near the back.
Now \Ve want to risk a mental leap \vhich, on first impression,
\vill appear to be "unscientific," "un\varranted," indeed Hinsane."
After\vards, \Ve can look back and see whether \Ve have done any
At one time or another, everyone has seen cats clutched by the
fur of their backs and lifted into the air. The soft bodv of the cat .I

appears to be doubled up, the head end is brought close to the

pelvic end; head, fore and hind legs hang do\vn limply, son1ewhat
as follows:

.............. Plexus solaris

Naturally, we can imagine any animal in the same position,

even man. There is, as is al\vays the case \vhen the body assu1nes a
position, an e1notional expression. It is not easy to read the overt
expression of this particular position straight off. Observing it care-
fully for son1e time, \Ve get the impression of a jellyfish with
180 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

Biophysics \vill have to learn to read forrns of movement from

body fornls and for1ns of expression from forn1s of movement. \V c
shall have more to say about this later. Here, the similarity of the
position \Yith that of a jellyfish suffices. We can enlarge upon the
analogy. The central nerve apparatus of the jellyfish is located in the
middle of the back, as is the solar plexus in vertebrates. When the
jellyfish n1oves, the ends of the body approach and n1ove away from
one another in rhytlunic interchange. This is the heuristic substance
of our n1ental leap: the expressive nwvements in the orgasm reflex
are, t:ietced in tern1-s of identity of function, the same as those of a
living and stcinuning jellyfish.
In both cases~ the ends of the body, i.e., the ends of the trunk,
n1ove to\vard one another in a rhythmic tnotion, as if they wanted to
touch one another. \\7hen they are close together, \Ve have the con-
dition of contraction. \Vhen they are as far apart as they can be, \Ve
have the condition of expansion or relaxation of the orgonotic
system. It is a very prin1itive forn1 of biological pulsation. If this
pulsation is accelerated, if it takes on a clonic form, \Ve have the ex-
presshc n1oven1ent of the orgastic convulsion.
The expulsion of spa,vn in fish and semen in animals is con-
nected \Vith this plastnatic convulsion of the body as a \vhole. The
orgastic conYtllsion is accon1panicd by a high degree of excitation,
\Vhich \Vc experience as the pleasure of the "clin1ax." In short, the
expressive n1ovcn1ent of the orgasn1 reflex represents a highly im-
portant, contctnporary tnobilization of a biological form of movc-
n1ent \vhich goes as far back as the jellyfish stage. I append a
diagratn illustrating the bell shape and the jellyfish form of move-
Upon close exatnination, the functional identity bet\veen the
1novcment of the jellyfish and orgastic convulsion turns out to be far
less strange than one originally supposed. In vie'v of the fact that, in
the scgn1ental arrangement of the annor rings and in the sphere of
the emotions, the \VOrm continues to function in man, there is noth-
ing very special about the fact that the jellyfish function is expressed
in the con,?ulsion of the body as a \vhole. \\7c shall have to learn to
accept the idea that \YC are not dealing here \vith atavistic ren1-
Therapy 181

nants of our phylogenetic past but \Vith contemporary. bin-energeti-

cally in1portant functions in the highly developed organisn1. The
1nost priinitive and the n1ost advanced plas1natic functions exist side
by side and function as if they \vere connected to one another. The
developn1ent of n1orc con1plicated functions in the organisn1 ( func-
tions \Vhich \VC ca11 "higher") has no effect upon the existence and
function of the "jellyfish in n1an." It is precisely this jeiiyfish in n1an
that represents his unity \vith the less developed anin1al \Vorld. Just
as Dar,vin's theorv deduces n1an's descent from the lo\ver verte-

brates on the basis of 1nan's n1orphology, orgone biophysics traces

man's emotional functions n1uch further back to the forn1s of
movcn1ent of the n1ollusks and the protozoa.
The functional identity of man's life functions '''ith those of
prin1itive organic forn1s of 1noven1ent reaches far back beyond the
Thus, what we caii "nature in n1an" can be translated from the
182 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

sphere of 1nystic or poetic fantasy into the concrete, objective, and

practical language of natural science. \Ve are dealing here not with
1netaphoric or analogous relations, still less \Vith senti1nental percep-
tions; \Vc are dealing \Vith tangible, visible, and controllable proc-
esses of the living organism.
IV. The Dscovery of the Orgone



The function of the orgasm

Those familiar with Voltune I of The Discovery of the Orgone
know of the important event in 1933 that marked the turning point
in the development of our research: the discovery of the biological
function of tension and charge. I \vould like to describe in brief the
substance of this discovery.
From clinical investigation we have learned that the function of
the orgasm is the key to the problem of the source of energy in the
neuroses. Neuroses result from a stasis of sexual energy. The cause
of this stasis is a disturbance in the discharge of high sexual excita-
tion in the organism, regardless of whether or not this disturbance is
perceived by the ego. It makes no difference \vhethcr the psychic
apparatus does or does not n1isinterprct the process neurotically;
nor does it matter that the person may develop false notions about
the disharn1ony in his energy system and glorify it \Vith ideologies.
Experience in everyday clinical practice leaves no doubt: the elimi-
nation of the sexual stasis by the orgastic discharge of the biological
excitation removes every kind of neurotic nuznifestation. The diffi-
culty that must be overcome is largely of a social nature. Attention
must be drawn to these simple basic facts again and again.
It has long been a kno\vn fact in sex-econon1y that the orgasm
is a fundamental biological phenomenon; "fundamental" because
the orgastic discharge of energy occurs at the very root of biological
From The Cancer Biopathy, 1973 (Vol. II of The Discocery of the Orgone).

184 \V I L H E L ~f R E I C H

functioning. This discharge appears in the forn1 of an involuntary

convulsion of the entire plasrna systen1. Like respiration, it is a basic
function of every anin1al systen1. Biophysically, it is not possible to
n1ake a distinction bet\vcen the total contraction of an an1oeba and
the orgastic contraction of a tnulticellular organisn1. The most sali-
ent characteristics are intens-e biological excitation, repeated expan-
sion and contraction, ejaculation of body fluids, and rapid
subsidence of the biological excitation. To understand these charac-
teristics as biological functions, \Ve had to free ourselves from the
lascivious en1otional reactions that every consideration of sexual
functions-in fact, of autonon1ic functions in general-arouses in
1nan. These etnotional reactions are then1sclvcs neurotic expressions
\Vhich constitute a problen1 in our psychiatric \Vork.
~\lore precise observation sho\vs that these four functions are
not paired but occur rather as a specific, la,vful four-beat pattern.
The increasing tension that occurs in biological excitation appears as
sexual excitement and produces a charging of the organism's pe-
riphery. This phenon1cnon \Vas de1nonstratcd unequivocally by
n1casurc1nents of the potentials at the erogenous zones during
pleasurable excitation. Once the tension and the bio-energetic
charge have reached a certain intensity, they arc follo\ved by con-
vulsions, i.e., contractions of the entire biological systen1. The high-
energy tension at the periphery of the organisn1 is released. This is
revealed objectively as a sudden drop of the bio-electric skin poten-
tial and is felt subjectively as a rapid decrease of excitation. The
sudden shift fro1n high charge to discharge is called the "acme."
Follo\ving the discharge of biological energy, a mechanical relaxa-
tion of the tissues occurs as a result of the flo,ving back of body
fluids. That the discharge of energy occurs is den1onstrated by the
evidence that the organisn1 is not capable of renevved sexual excita-
tion ilnn1ediatcly thereafter. In the language of psychology, this
state is called "gratification." The need for gratification or, in bio-
physical terms, for the discharge of excess energy by merging u;ith
another organis1n occurs at n1ore or less regular intervals, varying
\Vith the individual as \Yell as the species. The intervals generally
becon1e shorter in the spring. In anin1als, there is the phenomenon
The Discot;ery of the Orgone 185

of heat or rut in \vhich a concentration of this biological need occurs

at certain tin1cs of the year, predorninantly in spring. This fact
reveals a close connection bet\veen the function of the orgasn1 and
an energy function of a cosn1ic nature ...-\long \vith the \vell-kno\vn
effects of the sun on the living urganisn1, the orgasrn function is one
of the phenornena that cause us to regard the liYing organisn1 as a
special functioning part of non-liYing nature.
The function of the orgasn1 thus reveals itself as a four-beat
rhythrn: 1nechanical tension ~ bio-energetic charge~ bio-energetic
discharge ~ 1nechanical relaxation. \\1c shall call it the function of
tension and charge or, in brief, the TC function.
Earlier investigations ha Ye dcrnonstrated that the TC function
not only is characteristic of the orgasn1 but also applies to all func-
tions of the autonon1ic life sYstern.
,., The heart, the intestines, the
urinary bladder, the lungs all function according to this rhythm.
Even the division of cells follo\vs this four-beat pattern. The sarne is
true of the rnoven1ent of protozoa and rnetazoa of all kinds. \\ 7orrns
and snakes, in the n1overnents of their individual parts as \veil as of
their total organis1n, clearly display the rhythn1ic functioning desig-
nated by the TC forrnula. There seerns to exist one basic lavv that
governs the total organisrn, in addition to governing its autonon1ic
organs. vVith our basic biological forrnula, \ve encornpass the very
essence of living functioning. The orgasn1 fortnula thus e1nerges as
the life fornuda itself. This corresponds exactly to our earlier formu-
lation that the sexual process is the productive biological process
per se, in procreation, \vork, joyful living, intellectual productivity,
etc. The acceptance or refutation of orgone biophysics depends
upon the ackno,vledgment or rejection of this forrnulation.
The n1echanical tension of organs through turnescence n1ay be
easily understood: the tissues take up body fluids, and the indi-
vidual particles in the biological colloid separate. Conversely, tne-
chanical relaxation occurs through deturnescence: the fluids are
forced out of the tissues, and thereupon, a rnutual corning together
of the particles occurs. The question of the nature of charge and
discharge is 1nore difficult. The fact that \Ve can 1neasurc electrical
potentials gives rise to the ternptation of disposing of a gigantic
186 \V I L H E L ~1 R E I C H

proble1n by labeling the process tnerely a 1natter of "electrical

charge'' and "electrical discharge." After all, the quantities of electri-
cal energy produced in contracting muscles and by electric eels, for
instance, have been n1easured. And have \Ve not progressed to the
point \vhere the electrical \Vavcs of the brain are 1neasurable? In the
accounts of n1y bio-electrical experiments ( 1934-6), I recorded the
changes in potential occurring in pleasure and anxiety in terms of

The postulate of a specific biological energy

Is the specific biological energy identical with electricity? The
proble1n is not as siinple as it 1nay seern. It would certainly be
convenient if \Ve \vere able to describe the functioning of the orga-
nistn in tenns of fan1iliar physical concepts. The organism would
then appear as nothing more than "a particularly complicated elec-
trical tnachinc." It \vould be convenient, and very easy, to explain
away the reaction of rheun1atic persons to changes in the weather
by asserting that their ''body electricity" is influenced by the "elec-
trical" charges in the air. The atte1npt has also been made to apply
the la,vs of iron 1nagnetisn1 to the living organisn1. We speak of a
beloved person as having a "1nagnetic" attraction, or \Ve feel "elec-
trified" \vith cxcite1nent. vVe shall soon find, ho\vever, that such
analogies are erroneous. In previous publications, I have spoken of
"bio-electricity," using the custon1ary tenninology. The organis1n
undoubtedly contains electricity in the form of electrically charged
colloid particles and ions. All of colloid chen1istry as well as neuro-
n1uscular physiology depends upon this. Muscular contractions can
be induced by the application of an electric current. Combing the
hair can produce "electric" sparks. Nevertheless, there are a number
of phenon1ena that in no \vay correspond to the theory of electro-
magnetic energy.
First, let us discuss the effects of body ''n1agnetism." Many
physicians and lay therapists n1ake practical use of these magnetic
forces. Yet \Ve arc not convinced that these forces, \vhich emanate
from organic, colloidal, non-1netallic substance, are ironInagnetic.
The Discovery of the Orgone 187

In what follo,vs, \ve shall provide experimental proof that the

energy in the living organis1n is not identical \Vith iron magnetism.
The electrical effects of a galvanic current are experienced by
the body as foreign, "unorganic." Electrical energy, even in the
minutest quantities, ahvays causes disturbances in our nor1nal func-
tioning. The n1usclcs, for instance, contract in an unnatural, "sense-
less," biologically inappropriate 1nanner. There is no evidence that
an electric charge applied to the body ever produces an organic
movement bearing the slightest resemblance to nor1nal n1ovements
by entire muscle systen1s or functional groups of n1uscles. Electrical
energy generates a n1oven1ent that lacks the 1nost essential charac-
teristic of biological energy, nan1ely the movement of a group of
organs in a coordinated, functionally meaningful forn1. By contrast,
the disturbances of biological functioning by an electric current do
possess the character of electrical energy. The n1oven1ents generated
are rapid, jerky, and angular, exactly like the oscillographic reac-
tions produced by rubbing an electrode on metal ( cf. The Function
of the Orgas1n).
In a muscle-nerve preparation, the electrical impulse does not
manifest itself directly in the n1oven1ent; other\vise, the sn1ooth
muscle would contract just as quickly as the striated one. Actually,
the contraction of the s1nooth n1uscle follo,vs the slo\v, \vave-like
rhythm characteristic of its functioning. Thus, an unknown "some-
thing," \vhich is merely stin1ulated by the electrical impulse, inserts
itself behveen the electrical impulse and the n1uscle action, mani-
festing itself as a movetnent that is accompanied by an action
current. But the "something" itself is not electricity.
Our organ sensations clearly indicate to us that en1otions
(which undoubtedly are manifestations of our biological energy)
are fundan1entally different fron1 the sensations one experiences
from electrical shocks. Our sense organs completely fail to register
the effect of the electromagnetic \vaves that fill the atmosphere. In
proximity to a radio transmitter, \Ve feel nothing. A radio reacts
when near a high-tension \Vire; \Ve do not. If our life energy, which
is expressed in our organ sensations, \Vere electricity, it \vould be in-
comprehensible that \Ve should perceive only the \vave lengths of
188 \V I L H E L ~I R E I C H

visible light and other\vise remain totally insensitive. We perceive

neither the electrons of an X-ray machine nor the radiation from
radium. Electrical energy does not convey a biological charge.
Thus far, it has not been possible to determine the potency of
vitamins \vith electrical 1ncasuren1ents, even though they doubt-
less contain biological energy. The examples could be continued
indefinitely. Another problczn is ho\v our organis1n keeps itself fron1
being destroyed by the infini tc number of elecbomagnetic fields
surrounding it.
It is true that sensitive volt 1neters react to our touch, but the
n1agnitude of this reaction is so minute con1pared with the amount
of energy produced by our organisrn that there does not seen1 to be
any connection.
These are n1ajor contradictions \vhich are impossible to resolve
\Vithin the fraine\vork of kno\vn for1ns of energy. They have been
\Veil kno\vn to biology and natural philosophy for a long thnc.
Atte1npting to bridge the gap, son1e people have put forvvard con-
cepts that were intended to n1ake the specific life function con1pre-
hensible. :Nlost of these concepts \vere advanced by the opponents
of Inechanistic n1aterialiszn, the vitalists. Driesch suggested an "en-
telechy," a life force inherent in all living n1atter and governing it.
But, since it \Vas neither Ineasurable nor tangible, it ended up as a
contribution to n1etaphysics. Bergson's elan vital atten1pted to take
account of the incon1patibility behveen the kno\vn for1ns of energy
and the life function. His force creatrice represents an explosive
function of 1natter \vhich 1nanifests itself n1ost clearly in the life
function. Bergson's hypothesis was directed against both mechanis-
tic 1naterialisn1 and teleological finalisn1. In theory, it grasped
correctly the basically functional character of the life process, but it
lacked en1pirical validation. The force in question \Vas not Ineasur-
able, tangible, or controllable.
The fan1ous Gern1an physiologist Pfliiger assurned a connec-
tion behveen life energy and fire on the basis of the function of
cyanide. His assun1ption \\'US correct. Prorninent biologists, among
then1 the Viennese Kanunerer, \vcre convinced that a specific bio-
The Discovery of the Orgone 189

logical energy exists, possessing no in11nediate connection \Yith

electricity, magnetisn1, etc.
If transgressing the frontiers of \vhat is permissible, I should
finally state \Vhat seems to me to be the n1ost probable-an un-
proven, and at the present time, unprovable, scientific credo-
then I have to say: the existence of a specific life force seems to
me highly plausible! An energy \vhich is not heat, or electricity,
magnetism, kinetic energy (including oscillation and radiation),
or chemical energy, and is not an amalgan1 of any or all of them
but an energy belonging specifically to only those natural
processes that \ve call "life.'' That does not iinply that its
presence is limited to those natural bodies that \Ve cail "living
beings" but that it is present also at least in the formative
process of crystals. A better name for it, to prevent rnisunder-
standing, might be "fonnative energy" instead of "life energy."
It possesses no supraphysical properties, even though it has
nothing in cornmon \\ith physical energies already kno\vn. It is
not a rnysterious "entelechy" (Aristotle, Driesch), but a
genuine, natural "energy"; ho\vever, just as electrical energy is
connected to electrical pheno1nena, so this "formative energy"
is linked to living phenomena and the development and change
of forn1s. Above all, it is subject to the la\v of the conservation
of energy and is fully capable of conversion into other forms of
energy, just as, for instance, heat can be converted into kinetic
energy and vice versa. 1
Karn1nerer can1e across the problen1 of a forrnative "life force"
during the course of expcrhnents designed to den1onstrate the
heredity of acquired characteristics in salatnanders. The "inherited
substances', and "genes" postulated by the heredity theoreticians
only obscured the problen1 of living functioning and see1ned to have
been devised to block every access to it. Their theories n1ight best
be described as resernbling an inverted pyran1id, a veritable rnass of
hypothetical contentions precariously balanced on a stnall nurnber
of dubious facts. One typical exarnple \vould be the unscientific,

1 Paul Ka1nn1erer, Allgemeine Biologie.

190 \VI L HE L ~f REICH

un\varranted, and n1oralizing conclusions dra\vn from the notorious

"fan1ily Kallikak" study. In reading hypotheses on heredity, one con-
sistently has the in1pression that there is more frantic ethicizing than
there is science. The life function is stnothered beneath a n1ound of
mechanistic hypotheses. These theories finally degenerated into
Hitler's pernicious race theory.
In the \Vork of the vitalists the life force becan1e an elusive
specter, \vhile the n1echanists converted it into a lifeless machine.
Bacteriologists postulated the existence of a special gern1 "in the air"
(yet to be seen) for every living organis1n. During the second half
of the nineteenth cenhny, Pouchet took upon hin1self the \vearisome
task of testing the accuracy of the air-genn theory. Pasteur showed
experin1entally that there arc no living germs in liquids brought to
certain temperatures. If living organisms \Vere found, he ascribed
their presence to air infection. Lange, in his book Geschichte des
Alaterialis1nus, criticizes Pasteur's conclusions and cites Pouchet's
experiments. Pouchet passed hundreds of cubic rneters of air
through \Vater, then exarnined the water. He invented an apparatus
that collected dust particles fron1 the air and deposited them on
glass plates. Pouchct then analyzed the dust. He conducted these
experiinents on glaciers in the Pyrenees, in the catacornbs at Thebes,
in the desert and on the sea in Egypt, and atop the cathedral in
Rouen. He found n1any things, but only rarely did he find a spore of
a fungus, and even n1ore rarely a dead infusorium. Pasteur's refuta-
tion of the early theories of spontaneous generation \vas basically
misunderstood. Questions about the origins of the first germs of life
\Vere taboo, and in order not to conflict with the doctrine of a
"divine creation," it \vas usual to resort to the notion of a plasmatic
substance descending upon our planet fron1 outer space.
Not one of these schools of thought succeeded in approaching
the functional problen1s of the life process, nor did they find a
connection with experirnental physics. The life process emerged
from their theories as a mystery, a special preserve of "divine provi-
dence" hidden a'vay somc\vhere in the midst of the vast realm of
natural science.
Yet the sprouting of every plant, the development of every
The Discocery of the Orgone 191

embryo, the spontaneous Inoveinent of 1nuscles, and the productiv-

ity of every biological organisn1 den1onstrate the existence of incal-
culable energies governing the \Vork of living substance. Energy is
the capacity to tvork. No kno\vn energy can compete \Vith the total
\Vork capacity of the living organis1ns on our planet. The energy
accon1plishing this \Vork n1ust have its origin in 1Wn-living matter.
Yet for thousands of years it has been ignored by science.
What prevented an understanding of this energy? It was first
necessary to understand the 1nanifesta tions of the unconscious and
repressed sexual life. Freud's discovery of the function of sexual
repression n1ade the first breach in the \vall that had blocked our
comprehension of the life process. The second step \vas a correction
of Freud's theory of the unconscious: the repression of human
instinctual life is not nahtral but rather a pathological result of the
suppression of natural instincts, in particular, of genital sexuality.
An organism that uses n1ost of its energy to keep the natural life
process imprisoned \vithin itself cannot co1nprehend life outside
itself. The central Inanifestation of life is expressed in the genital
sexual function, to \vhich life O\ves its existence and continuation. A
society of human beings that has excluded the most essential mani-
festations of this function and n1ade then1 unconscious is not
capable of living rationally; indeed, everything it says appears dis-
torted and pornographic. Only the rnystics, far re1noved from scien-
tific insight, have preserved contact with the living process. Once
the living process becan1e the don1ain of the mystic, serious natural
science shrank from any concern with it. The literature of the
biological and physiological sciences contains no indication of even
an initial understanding of autonon1ic moven1ent, such as may be
observed in the \vorm, for example. This movement is too renlinis-
cent of the despised sexual acts of the animal \Vorld. Mysticisn1 and
n1echanistic biology thus stand in opposition. ~lean\vhile, the force
of religious feeling itself betrays the existence of a powerful "some-
thing'' experienced by n1an, \vhich he is unable to define in \Vords,
or to manage. Religion, too, has 1nysticized the living process.
The problem enters the province of narural science only if and
when there exists a measurable and controllable energy function
192 \V I L H E L :!\.1 R E I C H

that makes the basic life function understandable and, at the same
titne, does not conflict \Vith physics. It follo\vs that such a specific
energy, expressing itself biologically, \vould have to possess these
1. It \vould be fundan1entally different fron1 electron1agnetic
energy, and yet related to it.
2. It \vould have to exist in non-living nature independent of
living organisn1s, if the principle of life originating from non-living
matter is to hold true.
3. It \vould have to elucidate satisfactorily the relationship
bet\veen living organisn1s and non-living nature (respiration, or-
gasn1, nutrition, etc.).
4. In contrast to galvanic electricity, it \Vould function in
organic substance, u:hich does not conduct electricity, and in ani-
mal tissue .
.5. It \vould permeate and govern the entire organism instead of
being litnited to individual nerve cells or groups of cells.
6. It \vould have to explain simply the basic pulsatory function
(contraction and expansion) of life, as it n1anifests itself in respira-
tion and the orgasm.
7. It \VOtlld manifest itself in the production of heat, a charac-
teristic of most living organisn1s.
8. It \vould definitively clarify the sexual function, i.e., it \vould
make sexual attraction comprehensible.
9. It \Vould reveal \vhy living organisms have failed to develop
an organ sensitive to electromagnetis1n.
10. It \vould contribute to an understanding of the difference
bet\veen dead protein and living protein, and \vould explain what
must be added to the che1nically con1plex protein to 1nake it alive. It
\vould be capable of charging living n1atter; thus, it \Vould have a
life-positive effect.
11. Further, it \vould reveal the processes involved in the
symn1etry of form developn1ent and explain the basic function of
for1n developn1ent.
12. Finally, it \\'ould n1ake comprehensible \vhy living matter
exists onlv on the earth's surface.
The Disco~.;cry of the Orgone 193

The entuneration of these problerns is intended to sho\v the

indispensable context \vithin \vhich any discussion of biophysics and
biogenesis n1ust take place.



Experin1-ental foundation for understanding the cancer biopathy

Orgone energy \vas discovered in a hion culture. J\ly first task,
therefore, is to give an account of the orgonotic pheno1nena that
represent transitional stages of evolution bet\vecn living and non-
living matter.
Because of the functional relationship behveen bions and ahno-
spheric orgone, it is essential that a discussion of orgone functions in
bionous matter precede the presentation of the actual discovery of
the orgone.
It is difficult to deter1nine a date for the discovery of the
orgone. Orgonotic functions of attraction, penetration, pulsation,
and lumination had already been observed behveen 1936 and 1939,
and had been subjected to investigation in a variety of bion prepa-
rations. Ho\vever, I had no presentiinent that I \Vas \Vorking \Vith
manifestations of a specific biological energy. Experin1ents \vith
bion cultures led to the discovery of the orgone in SAP A (sand
packet) bions during January 1939 and in the ahnosphcre during
July 1940. It \Vas only after I had \vorked on the purely physical
functions of orgone energy ( 1939-42) that I understood the obser-
vations I had been n1aking on bions and bion culh1res since 1936.
The description in n1y book Die Bione ( 1938) conforms con1pletely
to traditional bacteriological and biological concepts.
Later kno\vledge of orgone functions caused n1e to modify
much of \vhat I had \Vrittcn in that book. For instance, cultures of
cocci and bacilli derived frorn bions represent not, as I thought
then, a more advanced stage in the developn1ent of the bion but, on
the contrary, a degeneration of bions to a biologically sterile for1n
194 \VI L HE L 1vl REI C H

incapable of further develop1nent. I found that bions actually de-

velop in the direction of protozoal organization. On the other hand,
staphylococci, streptococci, T-bacilli, and rot bacteria are due to a
degeneration of the orgonotic living plasma.
~listakes, such as the one I just n1entioned, and the subsequent
necessary tnodifications, are unavoidable in \vorking in unexplored
territory. The follo\ving account of the bion experirnents is given in
the context of kno\vledge of the ahnospheric orgone, and its per-
spective is therefore no longer biologistic but functional, based on
energy principles.
HBion'' and '"energy vesicle" designate one and the satne micro-
scopically visible, functioning fornwtion. The term "bion" refers to
the vesicles into \vhich all matter disintegrates if made to s\vell.
These vesicles represent transitional forn1s bet\veen non-living and
living rnatter. Tlze bion is the elenzental functioning unit of all living
rnatter . .A.t the san1e tirnc, it is the bearer of a quantum of orgone
energy and, as such, functions in a specifically biological way. It is
an energy unit, con1pounded of a membrane, a fluid content, and an
arnount of orgone energy, i.e., an "orgone energy vesicle." In \Vhat
follo\vs, I \Votild like to give an account of the observations and
experin1ents on \vhich the far-reaching conclusions just sun1marized
are based.



In order to thoroughly refute the theory of air infection, I

started, as early as 1936, to autoclave bion preparations for half an
hour at 120') C. By this procedure, disintegration into vesicles turned
out to be n1orc cornplete than \vhen I silnply used the process of
s\velling. The blue bions appeared n1ore rapidly and the biological
stain reaction (Gram, carbo I fuchsin) n1ore intense. In ~lay 1937, I
began to heat coal and earth crystals to incandescence in the
Bunsen flarnc before introducing then1 into the culture n1edium that
induces s\velling. This heating process accelerated the formation of
The Discouery of the Orgone 195

bions still further. N O\V the bionous disintegration of rnatter could

be carried out in the space of just a fe\v rninutes, \vith the ccrtaint;'
of complete sterility. I no longer needed to \vait for days and \vceks
for the process of S\velling at roon1 ten1perature to yield bions. To
bring about the s\velling of the substances, I used caustic potash
and potassium chloride solution. Over the course of t\vo years
( 1937-9), experirnent after cxperilnent confirrned the vesicular dis-
integration of swelling rnattcr and the organization of bacteria and
cells fron1 the bions. 2
In January 1939, one of n1y assistants \Vas dernonstrating the
incandescence experin1ent to a visitor in the laboratory in Oslo. By
mistake, she took the \vrong container from the sterilizer and in-
stead of earth she heated ocean sand to incandescence. After t\vo
days, a culture had started to forn1 in the bouillon-potassiun1
chloride solution, \vhich, \vhen inoculated on egg rneditun and agar,
yielded a yello\v gro\vth. Under the rnicroscopc, this ne\v kind of
culture appeared as large, scarcely rnotile, packets of energy vesicles
glimn1ering \Vith an intense blue. The culture \Vas "pure," i.e., it
consisted of only one kind of forn1ation. At a n1agnification of 400x,
its formations looked like the sarcinae occasionally found in \Vater.
Exarnination at n1agnifications of 2000x and 4000x sho\vcd strongly
refractile formations consisting of packets of six to ten vesicles
betvveen 10 and 1.5 rnicrons in size. \Ve repeated the cxperiincnt
eight times over the course of a fe\V n1onths, and tirnes \Ve
obtained the san1e forrnations.
These bions received the designation SAPA. They possessed
properties of extren1c interest.
The effect of the SAPA bions on rot bacteria, protozoa, and T-
bacilli \vas n1uch rnore po\verful than that of other bions. Brought
together \vith cancer cells, they killed or paralyzed the cells even at
a distance of approxin1ately 10 microns. At this proximity to SAPA
bions, the arnoeboid cancer cells \vould remain rooted on one spot as
though paralyzed; then they \vould spin around frantically and,
finally, becorne rnotionless. This process \vas recorded on filn1.

2 Cf. Reich, Die Bione, 1938.

196 \VI L HE L ~1 REICH

I~or four \veeks, I exa1nined the SAPA bions every day for
several hours. After a fe\v days, n1y eyes began to s1nart \vhenever I
looked into the 1nicroscope for any length of tin1c. In order to isolate
the basis of this proble1n, I began to use a n1onocular tube. No\v it
\Vas only the eye I used for looking through the 1nicroscope that
hurt. Ho\vever, after a \vhile, a violent conjunctivitis developed in
both (_~yes; they becan1c very sensitive to light, and I \Vas obliged to
see an ophthahnologist. To hiin, n1y account secn1ed "fantastic." He
treated 1ne, pr(scrihcd dark glasses, and forbade microscopic work
for a fe\v \V('('ks. \1 y eyes in1proved, but I 110\V kne\v that I \Vas
dealing \vith a radiation phcno1nenon. Several n1onths before this
event, the Dutch physicist Bon had \Vritten to ask n1e whether I had
ever noticed any radiation fron1 the bions. I had replied in the
negative. }:i~or 1nany years, Bon had been quarreling \Vith his col-
leagues because of his insistence that life is a 1nanifestation of radia-
tion. I \Vas no\Y directly., confronted \vith this fact and did not kno\v
ho\v I should approach it. Of course, I had been trained in the basic
theoretical problen1s of physics, but I had never had any practical
expcrieoce \Vith radiation. This created great difficulty but at the
san1e tilne had its advantages. The radiation I had discovered
turned out to he nc\v; it possessed highly unique properties. Tradi-
tional n1ethods of radiation research \Vere to yield negative results.
Orgone radiation required the developn1ent of special, hitherto
unkno\vn, n1ethods and research procedures that could he \vorked
out only gradually, step by step, \Vith observations over a long
period of thne. H.outiue, sch(linatic n1ethods failed.
I first tried a very pritnitivL~ n1ethod of testing the cultures for
radiation by placing the test tubes against the pahn of 1ny left hand.
Each ti1ne, I thought I felt a fine prickling, hut \vas not sure of the
Then I placed a (ptartz slide, on \vhich I had put a s1nall
(1 uanti ty of SAPA culture in potassi un1 chloride solution. on the skin
and let it stand for a bout ten 1ninutes. \Vhere the culture lay ( sepa-
rated fro1n the skin hy the quartz slide), an anetnic spot \vith
hypen.1nic 1nargin developeu. I repeat(cl this expcrilnent \vith all
n1y stullcnts, \vhose vegetative reactions \Vcrc \veil kno\vn to 1ne.
The Discovery of the Orgone 197

Those \Vho \Vere vegetatively very alive al\vays gave a positive re-
sult. The etnotionally \veakcr ones showed little or no reaction.
These results \vere an indication of son1ething, but vvere still far
from being clearly understandable.
I sought help fron1 the radiun1 physicist of the Cancer Hospital
in Oslo, Dr. ~/loxnes. He tested one of the culture tubes with an
electroscope used to test for radiun1 activities or other ionizing
radiation. It gave no reaction. The physicist declared that there \Vas
"no radiation.n Since his electroscope \Vas set up for the detection of
radioactivity, I objected that the only conclusion that could be fairly
drawn fron1 the test vvas that there \Vas no Tadiu1n act-ivity, not that
there was no radiation of any kind. There could be no doubt about
the skin reaction, and I \vas puzzled about the kind of radiation
\Vith \vhich I vvas dealing. The speed of the skin reaction suggested
enormous energies. X-ray and radiu1n radiation take several days
after exposure to produce reddening of the skin, but the SAPA
cultures reddened the skin \Vithin a fe\v 1ninutes. As \Vill becotne
evident later, there \vas in fact a cotnpletely logical reason for the
negative reaction of the electroscope.
The following events solved the riddle bit by bit:
After t\VO n1ore \veeks, the pahn of n1y left hand \Vas highly
inflamed and very painful. There could be no further doubt that the
cultures \Vere exercising a biological effect.
As tirne \vent by, it struck me that the air in the roon1 vvhere the
cultures \Vere kept vvas becotning very "heavy'' and causing head-
aches whenever \Ve closed the \vindo,vs, if only for an hour.
One day, du1ing the course of an experimental procedure, I
noticed that all metal objects, such as scissors, pincers, needles, etc.,
had becotne highly n1agnetic. This phenotnenon, so obvious today,
was incomprehensible to n1e. I had never before observed it and
was not prepared for it. But since the electroscope of the Oslo
physicist had sho\vn no reaction, I \vas prepared for surprises.
I experin1ented \Vith photographic plates in various \vays. In a
dark room I placed culture preparations on uncovered plates, on
plates in plateholders, on plates \vholly or partly covered \vith lead,
and in addition, for control purposes, I put so1ne plates \vithout
198 \V I L H E L ~~ H E I C H

cultures in the san1e roon1. To 1ny a1nazen1ent, all the plates beca1ne
fogged. On some plates, there \vas a blackening corresponding to
the glued cracks in the \Vooden holders; on other plates, I sa\v
1narked blackening \vhere the plate had not been directly affected
by the culture but 'vherc the lead covering \vas pervious. To n1y
surprise, the control plates in the sarne roo1n tcere also fogged. I
could not understand it. It sccn1ed as if the energy \vas active not
just around the edges of the plateholder and through its joints; the
radiation seen1ed to he on1nipresent. Ho\vcvcr, it was also possible
that there had been son1e cxperirnental oversight.
Over the course of t\vo decades of clinical and expcrin1ental
\vork, I had learned not to ignore such see1ningly incidental ideas as
''energy present every,vhere." I value these flashes of insight, \Vhich,
if coinbined \Vith strict, objective controls, lead to the ultiinate goal.
~vly sunnisc turned out to be correct: orgone radiation is indeed
present everyu:here. But at the tin1e this idea had no concrete
The cxperin1ents \vith the photographic plates seerned to have
reached a dead end. If the effect \vas on1nipresent, the phenomena
could not be isolated and controlled. Since ali objects \Vere exposed
to the radiation, there could be no possibility of a co1nparison \Vith
sotne object not influenced by it.:~
I transferred the cui tures to dark base1nent rooms and con-
tinued 1ny observations there. To intensify the effect, I prepared
dozens of cultures. The observations 1nade in the dark had some-
thing uncanny about thcn1. Once n1y eyes had bccon1c accustotned
to the darkness, the roorn appeared not black but grayish-blue. I
sa\v fog-like vapors, streaks of blue light, and dots darting about.
Light of a deep violet color see1ncd to con1e fron1 the \valls and the
objects around the roon1. Looked at through a magnifying glass,
these light irnpr<~ssions intensified and the individual streaks and dots
gre\V larger. Dark glasses \veakencd the hnpressions. But \Vhen I
closed 1ny eyes, the blue-light in1pressions continued. TI1at \Vas
disconcerting. I did not kno\v at this point that orgone energy radia-
a Later, in the fall of 1940, I finally snccced<:>d in dcznonstrating SAPA
radiation on filn1.
The Discocery of the Orgone 199

tion irritates the optic nerves in a particular \vay and generates after-
After only one or t\vo hours in the basernent, tny eyes \Vould
hurt and be infhuned. One evening, h<J\vever, I spent five consecu-
tive hours in the basen1ent roon1. After t\VO hours, I began to see
quite distinctly a radiation fron1 the pahn of n1y hand, the sleeve of
n1y shirt, and (looking in the 1nirror) the hair on my head. Gradu-
ally, the blue gli1nn1er surrounded tny body and objects in the roon1
like a hazy, slo\V-nloving, gray-blue lurninous vapor. I adrnit I felt
frightened. I telephoned Dr. Bon in I-Iolland that night and told hiin
of the experience. He \Varned 1ne to take precautions. But since the
radiation see1ned to be present "every,vherc" and to pervade every-
thing, I did not kno\v ho\v I could protect n1yself.
I had our friend l)r. Havrevold participate in the dark-room
observations. Though co1npletely uninfor1ned, he confirrned the rna-
jority of tny observations. Over the next fe\v n1onths I subjected one
person after another to the skin test and to the dark-roon1 condi-
tions. The descriptions provided by the subjects \Vere so cornpletely
in agreen1ent that no possible doubt could re1nain about the exis-
tence of the radiation. The rnost difficult task \vas that of isolating
the ob;ective phenonzena in the roo1n front the subjective sensations
in the eye. As the investigations proceeded, ho\vcvcr, a variety of
techniques for making this distinction evolved. For instance, I had
subjects reach for hnninous objects in the dark or deterrnine \vhere
son1eone's ann \vas at a given tilne. I had thcn1 turn their eyes a\vay
fron1 the light in1pression until its after-itnage had disappeared,
then try to find the light ilnpression again. The radiation \Vas very
irritating to the optic nerve. A businesstnan \Vho had obtained a
piece of cquipn1ent for rne and \vho served once as a subject said, "I
feel as if I've been staring into the sun for a long tirne."
This con1n1cnt by a layn1an provided n1uch food for thought. It
seen1ed especially relevant to the conjunctivitis that n1any of the
subjects developed. One day the idea "sun energy" suddenly oc-
curred to n1e, providing a silnple solution \vhich sounded absurd
only at first: SAP A bions had originated froln ocean sand. But ocean
sand is nothing 1nore than solidified solar energy. The incandescing
200 \V I L H E L ~:1 R E I C H

and steelling of the sand had released this energy once again from
its material state.
I overcame the emotional reluctance I felt to accepting such a
conclusion. If the radiation in question \Vere directly connected \vith
solar energy, then many phcnornena could be easily explained; e.g.,
the irritation of the eyes, the conjunctivitis, the rapid reddening of
the skin, and its subsequent tanning. (I had conducted the experi-
Inents during the \vinter and early spring of 1939, had not been
exposed to the sun, yet had a deep tan over n1y entire body.) I felt
extremely vigorous, as "strong as a bear," and vegetatively alive in
every respect. Gradually, the fear of dangerous effects from the
radiation disappeared and I began to \Vork \Vith it \vithout any
further \vorry about protective measures.
There \Vas no doubt of the existence of an energy possessing
extraordinarily high biological activity. It rernained only to discover
\vhat its nature \vas and ho\v it could be rneasurecl. One of rnv ol

colleagues told an assistant at the Bohr Institute in Copenhagen

about the SAPA bions. This person considered the notion of the
production of bions frorn sand so "fantastic" that I decided not to
expose n1y ne\v radiation discovery to the danger of a biased inves-
tigation, prejudiced from the start by fundamental disbelief.
Furtherrnore, there \Vas nothing I could really offer as starting
points for the qualitative and quantitative determination of the
radiation, apart from the biological effects and subjective sensa-
tions. The negative reaction of the cultures \vith the Oslo physicist's
electroscope \vas another \Varning to rne that caution \Vas advisable.
!v1oreover, the recent press campaign of Oslo pathologists and
psychiatrists against rny orgasm and bion research had destroyed
any possibility of friendly cooperation. So, at first, there seemed to
be no avenue to a quantitative investigation. Everything would
have to be left to the spontaneous develop1nent of the facts and to
chance. This '"chance" soon appeared.
I had begun reproducing \vell-kno\vn electroscopic phenomena
obtained fron1 friction bet\veen various n1aterials. One clay I started
to set up an electroscope experilnent involving high voltage. For
The Discovery of the Orgone 201

insulation, I put on a pair of rubber gloves kept in a glass cabinet in

my laboratory. When I brought n1y hands near the electroscope,
there was a strong deflection of the leaf. It curled uptvard, shifted
sideways tou:ard the glass wall of the electroscope, and stuck to it. I
kne\v of course that insulators can be ''charged." What \Vas really
astounding \vas the sidetcays defiection of the leaf and its tenacious
adhesion to the glass trall, i.e., the fact that non-1nagnetic aluminu1n
was sticking to glass, \Vhich \vas an insulator and had not been
subjected to friction. I had not rubbed the insulator gloves. So
where did the effect con1e fron1? Then I realized that the gloves had
been lying near a nun1bcr of S.APA cultures. To confirn1 this possi . .
bility, I placed one rubber glove in a shaded place in the open air,
and the other in a metal box containing bion cultures. Then I ex-
changed and tested them at various intervals. The rubber glove that
had been exposed to the open air for about fifteen minutes did not
influence the electroscope, \vhereas the previously neutral glove
placed for half an hour \vith the cultures did in fact sho\v a strong
electroscopic reaction. The same result \vas achieved on several con-
secutive evenings.
Lengths of hard rubber, rubber gloves, paper, cotton wool,
cellulose, etc., absorbed energy fro1n the cultures and caused the
leaf of the electroscope to curl \vithout the application of any fric-
tion. Hu1nidity, shade con1bined \vith a strong breeze, or touching
the substances \vith the hands for several minutes caused the effect
to disappear.
Thus a start had been made to\vard a qualitative understand-
ing of the radiation. It \vas an indisputable fact that the cultures
\Vere charging the rubber and other organic substances; I \vas able
to charge then1 by bringing thcn1 into contact \Vith the cultures and
to discharge then1 by exposing them to fresh air or putting then1 in
The situation became n1ore complex when I acquired a new
pair of rubber gloves and found that they, too, caused a reaction of
the electroscope, \vithout having been exposed to the cultures or
previously rubbed. It \vas therefore clear that the energy not only
202 \V I L H E L l\I R E I C H

\Vas in the cultures but also \Vas present "elsc,vhere"! This dis-
covery spoiled the unequivocal nature of the culh1re reaction, but
seen1ed in1portant. Again, I had the feeling that I had had during
the experiincnts on the photographic plates: the radiation is present
It \vas then that I re1nen1bcred the statement of my experi-
mental subject: ''I feel as if I've been staring into the sun for a long
tin1e." The radiation nzust be related to solar energy. If the radiation
is present evcrytchere, it can co1ne only fro1n the sun. I placed a
pair of uncharged gloves in the bright sunlight. After an exposure of
fron1 five to fifteen n1inutcs to sunlight \vithout prior friction, the
rubber gloves elicited a strong reaction fron1 the alun1inun1 leaf of
the static electroscope. I no\v had double proof of the solar origin of
the energy-first, because the heating expcrin1ent had released solar
energy frorn the sand; second, because solar radiation had charged
the insulators directlv. Protracted irradiation of insulators \Vith an

ultraviolet latnp produced the san1e effect.

But if bions and the sun cn1it the energy in question, then it
n1ust also be present in living organisn1s. I placed uncharged rubber
gloves directly on the abdon1cn of a vegetatively lively patient,
carefully avoiding friction. The result was positive. Five to fifteen
n1inutcs after contact \Vith the abdon1inal skin, the gloves registered
a strong reaction at the electroscope. I repeated this experiment
\Vith several students and patients. The result \Vas ahvays positive.
vVith people \Vho \Vere vegetatively sluggish or \Vhose exhalation
\Vas shallo\v, the reaction \Vas \veakcr. The results ilnproved if the
breathing \Vas deepened. 4
Now I was able to understand several previously incomprehen-
sible phenon1ena. Obviously, I \vas dealing \Vith an unkno\vn energy
possessing a specific biological activity. It originates from 1natter
heated to incandescence and n1ade to S\Yell. It is presumably re-
leased through the decon1position and disintegration of matter (as
\Vith radiating bions). Furthermore, it is radiated into the atmo-
Cf. Reich, "Drci Versuche an1 statischen Elcktroskop," in Experimenteller
uud klinischer Bericht, No. 7 ( 1939).
The Discocery of the Orgone 203

sphere by the sun and is therefore present every,vhere. This clarified

the apparent contradiction that the electroscope reacted not only to
the rubber charged by the S.APA bions but also to the rubber gloves
that had not been near the cultures.
The ne,vly discovered energy is found also in the living orga-
nisrn, tvhich absorbs the energy froln the atntosphere and directly
front the sun.
It \Vas the sarne energy \Vith \vhich n1y blue bions, fron1 any
origin, killed bacilli and cancer cells. The only difference \vas that in
bions the energy \vas contained \Vithin the sn1all blue vesicles.
The energy \Vas nan1ed ''orgone," in reference to the history of
its discovery through the study of the orgasm and to its biological
effect of charging substances of organic origin.
No\v I \vas able to understand the blue-gray vapors that I had
seen in the dark around n1y head, hands, and \vhite coat: organic
nwtter absorbs orgone energy and retains it.
The electroscope of the Oslo physicist had not reacted to the
cultures because orgone energy can influence an electroscope only
indirectly, by u;ay of charged insulators.

Visualization of atmospheric orgone

It was necessary to study the radiation of SAPA bions by the

least complicated 1neans. For this purpose, an enclosed space had to
be constructed that \Vould contain and isolate the radiation emanat-
ing from the bions and prevent its rapid diffusion into the surround-
ings. Organic 1natter could not be used because it absorbs radiation.
Ho,vever, on the basis of my observations, I was certain that metal
\Vould reflect the radiation and hold it \Vithin the enclosed space.
But the radiation could also penetrate the metal and disperse out-
ward. To prevent thjs, the apparatus had to be tcalled tvith metal on
the inside and tvith organic nwtter on the outside. The radiation
generated by the culh1res on the inside \Vould be reflected by the
inner n1etal \Valls, \vhile the outer surface of organic matter (cotton
and \Vood) \vould prevent, or at least reduce, the dispersement of
204 \V I L H E L !\I R E I C H

the radiation to the outside. The front \Vall of the apparahls was to
have a round opening fitted \Vith au eyepiece to enable the radiation
to be observed fro1n the outside.
The apparatus \Vas constructed, and a dozen or so culture
preparations \Vcrc put into it. For 1nagnification, I adapted a device
used for viewing fihn, asstuning that the rays \Vould strike against
the cellulose disk of the viewer and thus becon1e visible on it. The
experin1ent \Vas successful. I \Vas able distinctly to observe blue
n1oving vapors and bright, yello\v-\vhite streaks and dots of light.
The pheno1ncna were confinned by several persons who served as
subjects in repetitions of the cxpcri1nent. The results now seemed
conclusive enough for publication. But just at this point, a con1-
pletely inco1nprehensiblc finding intruded. I had expected that,
after having been e1nptied and thoroughly ventilated, the box-like
apparatus \vould not sho\v any light phcnon1ena. Othcr\vise, 1ny con-
tention that the visible rays e1nanated fnn11 the culhtrcs \vould be
invalidated. I did not doul;t for a 1non1cnt that a control experin1ent
\Vould confinn my opinion.
I \Vas astonished \Vhen I saw the sa1ne rays, blue vapors, and
bright streaks of light in the en1pty box. I took it apart co1npletely,
dipped the n1etal plates into \Vater, replaced the cotton, ventilated
for several days, and then repeated the experin1ent. I \Vas assun1ing
that the covering n1aterial had absorbed radiation fron1 the cul-
tures and \vas nO\V producing after-effects during the control experi-
Il1tnt. But I \Vas \Vrong. I sirnply could not re1nove the radiation
]Jhenonwna front the e1npty hox, and I \Vas at a loss to explain \vhy.
vVhat \vas the origin of the radiation in the box if it contained no
cultures? T'o be sure, the light phenon1ena \Vere not so intense as
\vhen the cultures were present, but they were there nevertheless.
I had another box constructed, \Vith a front \Vall of glass and no
organic covering; I \Vas careful to keep it a\vay fro1n roon1s where
there \Vcre SAPA cultures. Since this box had no covering of organic
n1attcr, there could no longer be any question of a residue of ab-
sorbed energy.
It \Vas all to no avail. The radiation \Vas still there. After several
days of c<nnplctc bafHetnent, I reincinbcrcd that a silnilar phcnon1e-
The Discor;ery of the Orgone 205

non had occurred \Vith n1y rubber gloves and the electroscope.
Rubber, exposed to the cultures, had charged the electroscope; then
water, and ventilation in the shade, had eliminated the phenonle-
non. Reexposure of the rubber to the cultures had pron1ptly and
consistently restored it. But even rubber gloves that had never been
near the cultures had produced the pheno1nena 1cithout prior fric-
tion. At that tin1e, I had had to conclude that the energy the
culrures en1itted \vas one that \Vas present every,vherc. I no\v dre\v
the same conclusion frorn the fact that the box, even \vithout cui-
hires, clearly ernitted radiation. 'Vhere did it carne fronl?
Today, \Vith orgone energy n1easurable and in practical use in
the treatment of cancer patients, rny earlier puzzlen1cnt seen1s unin-
telligent. From the very beginning, I had had the feeling that the
radiation \Vas present evcry,vhere, and surely the incident \Vith the
charged rubber gloves that had never been exposed to cultures
should have n1ade n1e anticipate the presence of radiation in the
empty box. It is easy to be clever after the fact, but for the first hvo
years I doubted every one of my observations. Impressions like
"radiation is present every,vhere" and observations such as "spon-
taneously charged gloves" \vere not very convincing and, in fact,
drew my attention a\vay fron1 the radiation. In addition, the con-
stant doubts, objections, and negative findings of physicists and
bacteriologists greatly inhibited rne frorn taking n1y observations as
seriously as they deserved to be. Because of the srncar can1paign
against n1e in the Nor\vegian press, \vhich \Vas just dying do\vn at
the time that I discovered the radiation, n1y self-confidence was not
very great. It was certainly not strong enough to support the flood
of insights that poured in on me. ~1 y observations \Vere calling into
question seemingly unshakable convictions in biology and bacteri-
ology: the air gerrn theory, "body elechicity," the idea that ~:~oto
plasm is merely highly con1plex protein, the mechanistic as \veil as
the vitalistic vie\v of life, etc. Only the spontaneous developn1ent
and logic of my experin1ents sustained n1e.
It is interesting and useful to look back on such tin1cs of uncer-
tainty \Vhen \Vhat have become the facts of everyday \Vork seemed
to be the strangest of pheno1nena. It provides the conrage necessary

to go on in spite of disturbing and apparently negative findings in

control experin1ents; not to invalidate new facts with superficial
controls; alu:ays to check negative control findings personally; and,
finally, not to give in to the ternptation of saying, "It \Vas just an
illusion." The existence of the radiation was proven beyond doubt. I
could not expect to be able to explain each individual phenomenon
with one stroke. Consequently, I could not allo\v myself to give way
to the doubts and en1otional upheavals such a confusion of findings
Naturally, it was unsatisfactory to say that radiation in the
absence of cultures corresponded to the electroscope's reaction to
rubber that had never been near the cultures. This explanation was
siinply a temporary bridge across a void I \vas not yet able to fill.
For several weeks, I observed the radiation in the empty box. It
ren1ained unchanged. It \vas not affected by sunshine or rain, fog or
clear \Veather, high or lo\v hutnidity, night or day. It could not,
therefore, be the result of direct solar radiation, as was the charge of
the rubber exposed to the sun. It came from "every\vhere," but there
was no \vay of detern1ining what the "everywhere" was.
During the sun1n1er of 1940, I took a holiday and traveled to
Maine. One night, still struggling \vith this riddle, I observed the
sky above a nearby lake. The moon \vas low on the western horizon.
Opposite, in the eastern sky, there \Vere strongly flickering stars. I
noticed that stars at the zenith flickered less intensely than those
near the eastern horizon. If, as theory has it, the flickering of the
stars is the result of the diffusion of light, then the flickering would
have to be uniforn1 all over the sky; if anything, stronger near the
light of the tnoon. But \vhat I observed \Vas exactly the opposite.
I began to look at individual stars through a \vooden tube, at
one point unintentionally ain1ing the tube to\vard a deep blue spot
in the sky bet\veen the stars. I \vas atnazed to see a lively flickering
followed by flashes of fine rays of light in the circular field of the
tube. The phenomen011 gradually faded as I 1noved the tube in the
direction of the n1oon, being the tnost intense in the darkest portions
of the sky bettceen the stars. It \Vas the san1e fine flickering and
flashing, with dots and streaks of light, that I had observed so often
The Discovery of the Orgone 207

in my box. I inserted a n1agnifying glass in the tube to enlarge the

rays. Suddenly n1y box lost its 1nystery. The phenon1enon had
become quite understandable: tlze radiation in my culture-free box
silnply originated in the atlnosphere. The atrnosphere contains an
energy of which I had no previous kno1vledge.
What I saw that night could not have been "cosmic rays." No
one had yet seen cos1nic rays \vith the naked eye. Moreover, physi-
cists contend that "cos1nic rays'' con1e to the earth fron1 outer space;
i.e., they do not have their origin on our planet. It is true that
recently there have been objections and challenges to this hypothe-
sis. But even if the cosmic rays of the physicists should be of plane-
tary origin, they would be identical \vith orgone rays. The so-called
great power of penetration of the ''cosn1ic rays" would then sirnply
be explained by the fact that orgone energy is present everywhere. 5
Looking at earth and rock through the tube, I observed the
sa1ne phenomenon, sometimes stronger, sornetin1es weaker. It was
also present in clouds, only in this case it was n1ore intense. No\v I
understood: during my control experilnents on SAPA radiation I
had discovered atn1ospheric or gone energy.
I shall now try systcn1atically to describe orgone energy so that
anyone can discover it for hirnself, \Vithout having to travel the
tortuous path dovvn which my bion experin1ents led me. This de-
scription, which will reveal properties unkno\vn to us in any other
form of energy, should n1ake clear the logic that connects the "blue
5 Rudolf \V. Ladenburg, in "The Nature of Cosmic Rays and the Con-
stitution of ~fatter," Scientific 1'fonthly, ~1ay 1942, states: " . . . The origin of
the primaries of the cosn1ic rays is still a great puzzle. 'Ve do not know the
processes responsible for the production of such immensely energetic particles.
Some of them carry a million times more energy than the 1nost energetic
particles \Ve can produce artificially. And as to the question of the constitution
of matter our ans\ver is still rather incomplete. \Ve kno\v that all matter con-
sists of atoms, that the atoms consist of tiny nuclei surrounded by electrons and
that the nuclei consist of protons and neutrons. There 1nust be strong forces
acting between the protons and neutrons holding the nuclei together. But we do
not know what they are. They are not of electrical nature as \Ve have seen, and
many theories have been tried for understanding these forces. The discovery of
the meson in the cos1nic rays has raised some hope for reaching the goal, but
this fundamental problem is still far fron1 being solved." (Italics are mine.-
208 \V I L H E L ~:l R E I C H

bion'' and its energy function \vith atmospheric energy. Atn1ospheric

orgone energy could doubtless have been discovered without SAPA
bions. Yet, because of this cornplex detour by \vay of the bion
radiation, \Ve had an insight of profound significance: the energy
that governs everything that is alive is necessarily identical tvith
at1nospheric energy; other\vise, it \vould not have led to the dis-
covery of atmospheric orgone energy.



Are there subjective ilnpressions of light?

When \Ve \Vere children, the light phenomena we sa\V \Vith our
eyes shut \Vere a constant source of fascination. Small dots, blue-
violet in color, \vould appear from no\vhere, floating back and forth
shnvly, changing their course \vith every movement of the eyes.
They floated quite slo\vly in gentle curves, looping periodically into
spirals, in a path some,vhat as follo\vs:

It was a delightful garne to change the shape and track of the

light dots by rubbing the eyes through our closed lids; \Ve could
influence even the color of the dots, the blue becoming red, green,
or yellO\V. Part of the fun \Vas to open the eyes suddenly, look into
the bright light of a lamp, then close the eyes again and see the after-
in1ages. \Vith a little imagination \Ve could turn these forms into all
kinds of things: rainbo\vs, balloons, anin1al heads, hurnan figures.
But such childish pleasures lost their interest as \Ve gre\V up
The Discovery of the Orgone 209

and studied physics, Inathematics, and biology. vVe had to learn

that such subjective optical pheno1ncna \Vcre "unreal,'' so1nething to
be distinguished fron1 objectively n1easurable, physical nlanifesta-
tions of light and its seven colors. In ti 1ne, our concern for \vhat
could acrually be measured and \Veighed obliterated the strong
impressions of our sense organs. \Ve no longer took them seriously.
The practical everyday \Vorld den1anded concentration on concrete
details exclusively; fantasy only interfered. But the subjective light
impressions remain, and the question n1ust nag at many \vhether
such clear phenon1ena as light in1pressions observed \vith the eyes
closed do not, after all, represent a reality. The illusionary nature of
these optical sensations is not so obvious as it appears.
We were educated to regard such things as these light impres-
sions as "purely subjective" and therefore "not real." They could be
of no concern to scientific research and \Vere relegated to the realm
of "human fantasy." :Nlan;os fantasy life, of course, is far removed
from reality, being inspired by subjective desires and, moreover,
unstable-\vhich is \vhy scientific research had to develop an objec-
tive, realistic foundation through experin1ent. The ideal experiinent
makes judg1nent independent of subjective fantasies, illusions, and
\vishes. To put it succinctly, n1an has no confidence in his faculties
of perception. He prefers, \Vith good reason, to rely on the photo-
graphic plate, the microscope, or the electroscope \Vhen examining
Yet, in spite of the progress made by turning from subjective
experience to objective observation, an in1portant quality of re-
search has been lost. \Vhat is observed objectively n1ay \veil exist in
reality, but it is dead. In the interest of scientific objectivity, \Ve kill
\vhat is alive before 1naking any staten1ents about it. The result is
necessarily a mechanistic, rnachine-like ilnage of life, fron1 \Vhich
life's n1ost essential quality, its specific aliveness, is n1issing-an
aliveness uncon1fortably re1niniscent of the intense organ sensations
experienced in childhood. Every kind of 1nysticisn1-yoga, the
fascist "surging of the blood," the receptivity of the spiritualist
medium, or the ecstatic, divine epiphany of the dervish-is
grounded upon these subjective organ sensations. ~1ysticism clain1s

the existence of forces and processes that natural science denies or

disdains. One n10n1cnt of sharp deliberation tells us that nwn cannot
feel or in1agine anything that has no real, objective existence in one
forn~ or another, for lnllnan sense perceptions are only functions of
objective natural processes tcithin the organisnL Could it not be that
behind the '~subjective" light iinpressions of our closed eyes there
exists a reality after all? Is it not possible that through our subjec-
tive ocular sensations \VC perceive biological energy of our own
organism? This thought secn1s strange, daring. But let us see!
To dis1niss the subjective light impressions as sin1ple "fantasy"
is incorrect. Fantasy is an active property of an organisn1 governed
by certain natural la,vs and n1ust therefore be "real." Not so long
ago, n1edicine rejected all functional and nervous ailn1ents as unreal
and in1agined, because it did not understand then1. But headache is
headache, and light impression is light in1pression, \vhether we
understand it or not.
Naturaiiy, \Ve reject n1ystical claims based on tnisinterpretation
of organ sensations. But that is not to deny the existence of these
sensations. \\7 e n1ust also reject a tncchanisticaiiy fragmented natu-
ral science, because it separates organ sensations fron1 the vital proc-
esses of the organs. Self-perception is an essential part of the life
process. It is not a case of nerves being here, muscles there, and
organ sensations some,vhere else. The processes \vithin the tissues,
and our perception of the1n, fonn an indivisible functional unity.
This n1ust be one of the essential, cxperin1entally documented,
theoretical guidelines of our therapeutic \vork. Pleasure and anxiety
express a particular state of functioning of the total organisn1. It is
therefore in1portant to n1ake a clear distinction bet,veen functional
thinking and n1cchanistically frag1ncnted thinking, \Vhich can never
penetrate to the essentials of the life process. Let us note four in1-
portant principles of a functional vie\v of nature:
1. Every living organisn1 is a self-contained, functional unit,
not 1nerclv a n1echanical su1n of organs. The fundan1ental biological
function ~ontrols the total organisn1 just as it governs each indi-
vidual organ.
The Discovery of the Orgone 211

2. Every living organis1n is a part of surrounding nature aud is

functionally identical \Vith it.
3. Every perception is based upon the correspondence of a
function \vithin the organism \Vith a function in the external world,
i.e., upon orgonotic harn1ony.
4. Every self-perception is the in1n1ediate expression of objec-
tive processes \vithin the organisn1 (psychophysical identity).
Little can be expected fron1 philosophical speculations on the
reality of our sensations if they exclude the principle that the ob-
serving, perceiving ego (subject) and the observed, perceived
object together forn1 a functional unity. Nlcchanistic research di-
vides this unity into a duality. In its total rejection of sensa-
tion, conte1nporary n1cchanistic e1npiricisn1 is beyond rede1nption.
Every important discovery originates in tlze subjective sensation or
experience of an objective fact, i.e., in orgonotic harmony. \Vhat is
required is to objectivize the subjective sensation, separating it from
its stin1ulus and co1nprehending the origin of the stimulus. As
orgone therapists, \Ve do this every hour of every day when we try
to understand the bodily expressions of the patient by identifying
ourselves with the patient and his functions. Once we co1nprehend
these expressions en1otionally, \Ve let our inteiiect work and objec-
tivize the phenomenon.
Now, with this understanding of orgonotic harmony, let us
return to our childhood fantasies and iinpressions of light. Ho\v can
we establish objectively whether these impressions ''seen" with our
eyes closed correspond to real processes?

Flickering in the sky 1nade objective (the orgonoscope)

First of all, \Ve try to detern1ine \vhether siinilar phenomena
can be perceived with open eyes in broad daylight. If we observe
carefully for a sufficient length of tin1e, \Ve discover that they can.
We gaze at a screen, a \Vall, or a \vhite door. \Ve observe a flicker-
ing. The in1pression is of shado\vs or foggy vapors traveling more or
less rapidly and rhythn1ically over the surface of things. Rather than

disregarding this observation as a mere "subjective ocular impres-

sion," we resolve to establish objectively whether this flickering is
taking place 1nerely in our eyes or all around us.
Devising a method of differentiating is not easy, however. \Ve
begin by closing our eyes. Instantly the flickering seems to change
into a move1nent of sn1all dots, shapes, and colors. We open and
close our eyes repeatedly until \Ve are convinced that the phe-
nomena we perceive \Vith our eyes closed are different from those
we observe \vhile looking at the wall opposite~ us.
\Ve look into the blue sky, as though gazing into the far dis-
tance. At first, \VC see nothing. But if we continue to observe, we
discover, to our surprise, a rhythmical, wave-like flickering clearly
perceptible across the blue sky. Does this flickering exist merely in
our otvn eyes, or is it in the sky? We continue to observe the
phenon1ena over several days, under varying \Veather conditions
and at different ti1nes of day. It is striking that the flickering in the
sky varies a great deal in kind and in intensity. Next \Ve experiment
at night. Since our observations are no\v unhan1pered by diffused
daylight the \vave-like flickering is even more distinct. Here and
there \VC believe \Ve catch a glimpse of a lightning flash in the form
of a streak or dots. The flickering and delicate flashings are also to
be observed in dark clouds, \vhere they are more intense. As \Ve
observe the sky over a period of \vceks, \ve notice that the flickering
of the stars varies in intensity. On some nights, the stars shine clearly
and calmly; on others their flickering is subdued; on still others, it is
extraordinarily vivid. Astronomers ascribe the flickering of the stars
to diffuse light. There \vas a time \vhcn \VC accepted this explanation
unquestioningly. Ho,vevcr, no\v that the actual existence of a flicker-
ing in the sky has bcco1ne a crucial question for us, \Ve must ask
ourselves whether the flickering of stars may be related to the flicker-
ing in the sky betu;een the stars. If so, \Ve have taken the first step
to\vard demonstrating the objective existence of an unknown some-
thing in the ahnosphere. The flickering of the stars is certainly no
subjective ocular phenomenon: observatories arc built on high
mountains in order to eliminate it. The unkno\vn something that
1nakcs the stars flicker 1nust therefore be moving close to the surface
The Discovery of the Orgone 213

of the earth. But it is certainly not diffuse light; othcr\vise, the Hick-
ering would not vary in intensity as it does. Such "explanations" only
obscure facts. Let us defer the ans\ver.
The longer and n1ore precisely \Ve observe the flickering in the
sky and across the surface of objects, the more imperative it be-
COines to delineate a lin1ited field. We construct a 1netal tube one to
three feet long and one to t\vo inches in dhuneter, \Vith a dull black
interior. We look through it at the \valls in the daytiine and the sky
at night. The tube isolates a circle 'vhich appears brighter than the
area around it. Keeping both eyes open and looking through the
tube \vith one eye, \Ve see a clark-blue night sky \vithin \vhich is a
disk of brighter blue. Within the disk itself \Ve perceive, first of aU, a
flickering Inoveinent, then, unn1istakably, delicate dots and streaks
of light appearing and disappearing. The pheno1nenon beco1nes less
distinct in the inunediate vicinity of the n1oon; the darker the abno-
sphere in the background, the clearer the phenomenon.
Are we perhaps once again the victitns of an illusion? To find
out, we insert a plano-convex eyepiece \vith a magnification of
approximately 5x in the vie,ving end of the tube and look through.
The bright circular field is no\v broader; the dots and streaks of light
appear larger and n1ore distinct. It is ilnpossible to magnify subjec-
tive light ilnpressions; therefore, the phenomenon rnust be objective.
~!foreover, no flickering is perceptible along the dark interior \Vails
of the tube; the flickering is confined strictly to the bright section of
the disk, and therefore cannot be ''subjective" sensation. We have
isolated a limited area and are no\v in a position to exa1nine the
phenon1enon carefully under conditions that elin1inate diffuse light
from the atmosphere as a factor. But first we shall n1ake some
improvements in the primitive orgonoscope that \Ve have impro-
We point our tube to\vard the dark night sky in front of the
mirror of a good n1icroscope equipped \vith apochro1natic lenses.
We use a lOx object lens and a 5x eyepiece. Our eyes need to be
accustomed to the dark for about t\venty-five n1inutes. The rnicro-
scope reflects the light pheno1nena in the sky \vith total clarity.
Every flash of light is clearly discernible. We re1nove the eyepiece


C: cellulose disk, exterior surface dull
WM: wire mesh, on both sides of disk
M: metal cylinder, about 4 11 long, 2 11 wide
L: biconvex lens, about lOx, focused on disk
T: telescopic tube, l to 2 feet long, about 2 11 wide
EP: eyepiece, 5x, for additional magnification

fro111 the tube. No\v the flickering is seen in srnaller scale, but it is
more intense; we arc no longer able to distinguish individual flashes
of light.
Can the phenornena be ascribed to the haze in the atmosphere?
Let us try observing the phenon1enon on foggy or hazy nights. It
docs not take long to see that the phenon1ena are either very weak
or have disappeared cornpletely. Fog or haze does not cause -flicker-
ing in the circular field. 1,he 1novenwnt of light particles in the field
of the -rnicroscope has nothing to do tcith the n1ove1nent of fog.
By careful observation, \Ve are able to establish that the light
and \vave phenomena extend across the entire sky and become
\veaker only \vhen close to stars or the 1noon because of the stronger
light. They are at their rnost intense on clear nights and when
humidity is relatively low. \Vhen the hurnidity rises above 50 per-
cent, the radiation phenon1ena decrease in intensity. In other words,
hun1idity absorbs the radiation in the at1nosphere, just as it absorbs
the SAPA radiation.
At night \Ve direct our tube at various places on the ground, the
pavernent, loose earth, a la\vn, \Valls, etc. \Ve see the same move-
n1ents of light particles. They are n1ore pronounced on soil than on
The Discocery of tlze Orgone 215

asphalt. We point the h1be at thick shrubs from a distance of about

ten centimeters, tnoving the tube slo\vly a\vay fron1 the foliage and
then back to it. Without doubt, the phenon1ena are n1orc intense in
the leaves than around then1. They seem to come from the leaves
themselves. We look at a variety of Ro\ver blosson1s. The radiation
phenomena arc n1ore intense near the blossom than near the stalk.
Earth, \valls, bushes, grass, anin1als, the atmosphere, all sho\v
the same phenotnena. The conclusion to be dra\vn fron1 these find-
ings is inescapable: the radiation pheno1nena are present every-
where, with variations only in the density and intensity of the
energy. Perhaps it \vould have been better to find then1 present in
some places and not in others. Then the discovery \vould have been
minor and harmless. But \Ve have to stay \vith the facts, however
strange they now begin to appear.

Enclosing the radiation a11d making it objectively visible

Orgone radiation is everytvlzere. This fact n1akes it difficult to
devise experin1ents \vith it. To describe a phenomenon accurately, it
is necessary to isolate it and detertnine its n1eaning by comparing it
\vith a different phcnon1enon. vV e tnust create an enclosed space in
which the energy can be isolated.
We wish to ascertain \vhether anything ne\v can be learned in a
con1pletely darkened roon1. We allo\v about half an hour for our
eyes to becon1e fully accustorned to the darkness. During this thne,
all subjective light iinpressions disappear and \Ve see nothing but
black, that is, nothing. '''e look through our tube into the darkness.
We see nothing! This experirnent only confirtns the fact that, in
absolute darkness, blackness prevails. The radiation has disap-
peared and \Ve are about to give up all concern \Vith this "stupid
problem., At this point, n1any people \Vould go no further. But that
is not research. We cannot siinply ignore the fact that we had estab-
lished, beyond any doubt, the existence of a strange phenon1enon in
the open air. It cannot have ceased to exist. Nevertheless, conviction
and proof are t\VO different things.
Since the properties of this atmospheric radiation are unknown

to us, we are obliged to \Vork \vith apparatus that are used in known
realms of energy. \Ve might use a Faraday cage, an enclosure that
has walls made of iron or copper wire mesh, whose function is to
provide an enclosed space that cannot be penebated by electro-
Inagnetic \vaves from the outside. The cage itself is free of electro-
magnetic fields because all elechomagnetic waves converging upon
it from the outside are caught by the copper n1esh and grounded.
(If you drive across a bridge with a metal superstructure, your car
radio stops \vorking. The principle is the sa1ne as in the Faraday
cage.) Delicate experiments with the oscillograph can be conducted
in the cage without risk of interference.
We no\v build such a cage in the corner of the basement. We
line the copper \Vire \valls \Vith sheet iron on the inside, in order to
reduce to a minin1un1 the contact bet\veen inside and outside air.
\Ve leave just a few cracks or holes to admit enough air for breath-
ing. vVe then sit do\vn in the completely darkened cage and allow
our eyes to accuston1 themselves to the darkness.
Over the course of approximately half an hour, the blackness
gives way to an indefinable glimmer. Strange light phenomena irri-
tate our eyes. The impression is of fog-like vapors of gray-blue color
\vafting slowly across the interior of the cage. If we fix our eyes on a
single spot on the \Vall, we see moving light phenomena. The longer
\Ve stay in the cage, the n1ore distinct the light pheno1nena become.
Within the gray-blue vapors, light dots of a deep blue-violet color
are observed. They are reminiscent of the familiar subjective visu!ll
phenomena that occur immediately prior to falling asleep. Again the
problem arises: are the phenomena inside or outside our eyes?
When we close our eyes, the deep violet dots do not disappear. Are
the optic nerves irritated, or are the light phenomena not real?
Theoretically, the phenomena should disappear when our eyes are
closed and reappear again when our eyes are reopened. Subjective
after-images do exist, of course, but the 1natter is not so simple as
that. How is it that the optic nerves become irritated in complete
darkness and \vhy are we unable to "free our eyes" of the phe-
The more prolonged the observation, the more pronounced the
The Discouery of the Orgone 217

phenon1ena become. For exan1plc, on dry, sunny days, lightning-like

flashes can be seen in the metal enclosure. In order to eliminate any
doubt about the existence of atinospheric orgone energy, I urge n1y
students to acquaint themselves thoroughly \vith these phenomena.
l\1any experimental subjects developed a slight conjunctivitis
if they stayed in the Faraday cage for an hour or 1nore. Since, under
normal conditions, the eyes rest in con1plete darkness, there n1ust be
something in the cage to irritate the eyes, excite the optic nerves,
and render the conjunctivas hyperen1ic. vVe repeat the observations
in the dark cage until \VC find so1ne means to resolve these in1por-
tant problen1s. For instance, can the blue-gray and deep-violet light
phenomena be enlarged u;itlz a Jnagnifying glass? \Ve discover that
a good n1agnifying glass docs indeed enlarge the dots and make
them more distinct. They 1nanifest then1selves in hvo \vays: they fiy
either directly at us or past us. In the first instance, we observe the
follo\ving sequence of light in1pressions:

.r. ....
~ ..

Every individual light dot seen1s alternately to expand and contract

as though pulsating. The light dots flying past us follo\v a trajectory
son1ething like this:

Because of the shape its path takes, \Ve have called it a spinning
wave ( Kreiselu:elle). Its significance \vill, in tin1e, becon1e clear.
The blue-violet dots seen1 to con1e fro1n the metal \valls in rhythn1ic
218 'V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

.After t\vo or three hours in the cage, \VC notice a blue-gray

sheen around our \vhi te coat. The contours of another person can be
n1ade out, blurred but plainly visible. Let us not be disconcerted by
the 1nystical and ghost-like character of this phenon1enon. There is
nothing tnystical about it. The radiation seerns to adhere to clothing
and hair. vVe put son1e good fluorescent material, such as zinc
sulfide, on a s\vab of cotton \vool and fasten it to the \Vall opposite
us. \'Ve \Vere not n1istaken. The area of the cotton swab appears
lighter than its surroundings. Through the n1agnifying glass, we see
the radiation distinctly enlarged; flickering and the fine light rays
alreadv fa1niliar to us can be observed .

A paper disk of zinc sulfide has been left in the cage for several
days. \V' e no\v bend it slo\vly. It etnits strong radiation. For control
purposes, \VC expose a sin1ilar zinc-sulfide disk to fresh air or bend it
for a long tilne. In either case, the light phenon1ena disappear. \Ve
nO\V leave the control zinc-sulfide disk in the orgone room for a fe\v
days. \Vhen \ve bend it, the light phcnotnena are again found to be
present. The paper disk soaked in zinc sulfide has absorbed orgone
The purpose of our next experiment is to make the orgone
energy inside the cage visible fronl outside. \\le cut a \Vindo\v about
five inches square in the front \vall of the apparatus. On the inside
metal \vall, across the opening, \Ve place a fluorescing glass plate of
the type used to 1nake X-rays visible. 6 In the outer wooden wall \Ve
attach a metal tube equipped \vith an eyepiece containing a bicon-
Ycx lens capable of n1agnification of 5x to lOx. Tube and lens are
both removable, so the fluorescing disk can be observed with or
\vithout magnification.
Inside the cage, \Ve n1ount a green light bulb of the type used
in developing highly sensitive photographic plates. The bulb, rhea-
statically controlled, provides a constant dim light as background

6 Fluorescence, as distiuct fro1n luminescence, designates the ability of a

substance to produce light \vhile being acted upon by invisible energy particles.
In the case of lun1inescence, the light effect persists for shorter or longer periods
of tin1e eYen after the substance has been removed fron1 the effective rays. Zinc
sulfide is a fluorescing substance, calcium sulfide a lun1inescing substance.
The Discocery of the Orgone 219

for the radiation. In this experimental arrangen1ent \ve are follo\ving

the pattern provided by nature: the orgone radiation is clearly
visible against the diin light of the night sky. To reproduce the
flickering of the stars, \Ve drill a fe\v holes about l/8 inch in diarn-
eter in the \vall. Then \Ve observe the apparatus fron1 outside in
total darkness.
Through the holes \Vc are able to perceive a strongly flickering
light; its color is blue.
There is a great deal of Inoveinent observable on the fluoresc-
ing disk: rapidly n1oving streaks of light and single flashes of light
in the forrn of dots and lines n1ay be clearly distinguished. After a
\Vhile, \Ve see deep violet vapors that appear to stream from the
openings. The area of visible radiation is a sharply defined square
against the black of the cage. The flickering and the various light
phenomena are visible only \vithin the contours of this square.
Through the tnagnifying glass, the light phenomena are much more
distinct. It is possible, in fact, to distinguish the individual rays. In
dry, clear \Veather the phenornena are n1ore distinct and intense
than on darnp and rainy days. The observation of radiation in the
Faraday cage is greatly enhanced by the use of the orgonoscope.
How does the energy get inside the cage? The \vire mesh
should ground all electromagnetic energy. The interior of the cage
should be free of all electrical charges; other\vise, it \vould be impos-
sible to use it for the conducting of delicate electrical experiinents
\Vithout interference. A further problern confronts us:
Can the energy in the cage be electricity? We have now two
n1ain tasks before us:
1. To comprehend the properties of the radiating energy, "or-
gone," no\v made visible.
2. To investigate the connection behveen orgone energy and


The cancer tun1or is n1erely a visible symptom of the disease we call

"cancer." Localized treatment of the cancer tumor by surgery or
irradiation \vith radium or X-ray, therefore, constitutes treatment of
a syn1pton1 only, not of the disease itself. In this regard, death from
cancer is not the result of the presence of one or more tun1ors. It is
rather the ultin1ate visible n1anifestation of the systemic biological
disease ''cancer," which is caused by a disintegrative process in the
total organisnl. ~Jcdical literature gives no information about the
nature of this systen1ic disease. So-called cancer disposition indi-
cates 1nerely that deadly processes, uninvestigated up to no\v, are at
\Vork behind the cancer tumor. The typical cancer cachexia, the final
stage of the disease, should be regarded only as the ultimate, visible
phase of the unkno\vn systemic process, "cancer."
The tern1 "cancer disposition" is Ineaningless. \Ve \vould there-
fore like to replace it \vith the term carcinonwtous biopathy, or
cancer biopathy. The purpose of the follo\ving chapter is to demon-
strate the process that is at the basis of the cancer biopathy.
The term biopathies refers to all disease processes caused by a
basic dysfunction in the autonotnic life apparatus. Once started, this
dysfunction can manifest itself in a variety of symptomatic disease
patterns. A biopathy can result in a carcinoma (carcinomatous
biopathy), but it ean just as easily lead to angina pectoris, asthma,
cardiovascular hyperten~ion, epilepsy, catatonic or paranoid schizo-
phrPnia, anxiety neurosis, Inultiple sclerosis, chorea, chronic alco-
holisrn, etc. \Ve arc still ignorant of the factors that determine the
From The Cancer Biopathy, 1973 (Vol. II of The Discoccry of the Orgone).

The Discovery of the Orgone 221

direction in \Vhich a biopathy \vill develop. Of prhne in1portance to

us, however, is the co1nmon denorninator of all these diseases: a
disturbance in the natural function of pulsation in the total orga-
nism. Frach1res, local abscesses, pnetunonia, yello\v fever, rheu-
matic pe1icarditis, acute alcoholic poisoning, infectious peritonitis,
syphilis, etc., are, accordingly, not biopathies. They do not develop
from disturbances in the autonon1ic pulsation of the total life appa-
ratus; they are circurnscribed and can only secondarily bring about
a disturbance of the biological pulsation. The results of recent
orgone-biophysical research, ho\vever, have raised questions about
the exclusion of pneun1onia and son1c heart diseases frorn the realm
of biopathies. Further investigation \vill prove or disprove n1y
assumption that the disposition to pnetu11onia, or to valvular heart
diseases caused by "rheumatic fever," n1ay be due to a chronic
extension of the bony chest structure resulting fron1 the typical
inspiratory fixation of the chest. For the present, ho,vever, \Ve \viii
use the terrn "biopathy" only \vhere it is definite that the disease
process begins \Vith a disturbance of pulsation, no n1atter \Vhat
secondary disease pattern results. Consequently, \Ve can distinguish
a schizophrenic biopathy fron1 a cardiovascular biopathy, and these
from an epileptic or carcinornatous biopathy, etc.
This addition to n1edical terminology is justified by the fact
that we cannot understand any of the rnany specific diseases of the
autonomic life apparatus unless:
1. \Ve distinguish then1 from typical infectious and traumatic
surgical diseases.
2. '''e look for and discover their common mechanism, the dis-
turbance of biological pulsation.
3. \Ve learn to understand their differentiation into the various
disease patterns.
Cancer is particularly \veil suited to a study of the fundan1ental
mechanisms of biopathics because it manifests many of the distur-
bances treated in everyday general 1nedical practice. It reveals
pathological cell grcnvth; it has as one of its essential characteristics
bacterial intoxication and putrefaction; it develops fro1n chen1ical as
well as bio-electric disturbances of the organisn1; it is related to
222 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

emotional and sexual disturbances; it generates a number of secon-

dary processes, such as ane1nia, which other\vise develop as inde-
pendent diseases; it is a disease decisively influenced by our
"civilized" mode of living; it is of as rnuch concern to the nutritionist
as to the endocrinologist or the virus researcher.
The tnany n1anifestations of cancer, like the n1ultiplicities of
neuroses and psychoses, conceal a single comrnon denominator:
sexual stasis. This leads us directly to our thesis: sexual stasis repre-
sents a fundanzental disturbance of biological pulsation. Sexual
excitation is a prin1al function of the living plasn1a system. The
sexual function is den1onstrahly the productive life function per se. 0
A chronic disturbance of this function n1ust of necessity coincide
\vith a biopathy.
The stasis of biosexual excitation is manifested in two ways
principally: indirectly, as en1otional disturbance of the psychic
apparatus, i.e., as a neurosis or psychosis; or directly, as a functional
disturbance of the organs, in which case it appears as an organic
disease. As far as we know, it cannot actually generate infectious
The central mechanisnl of a biopathy is a disturbance in the
discharge of biosexual excitation. This staten1ent requires the most
detailed substantiation. But it should come as no surprise that
physical and chemical processes as well as ernotional factors are at
work in biopathies. The psychosotnatic hartnony of the total biologi-
cal systen1 is rnost clearly evident in biosexual etnotion. It is only
logical, therefore, that disturbances in the discharge of biosexual
energy, \vherever they appear, forn1 the basis for disturbances of
biological functioning, that is, a biopathy.


The living process in n1an is fundamentally the same as in the

arnoeha. 1 Its rnain characteristic is biological pulsation, the alterna-
~ Cf. Reich, The Function of the Orgasm.
1 Cf. Reich, "Der Urgegensatz des vegetativen Lebens" ( 1934 ).
The Discocery of the Orgone 223

tion of contraction and expansion. This process can be observed in

single-celled organisn1s in the rhythn1ical contractions of the vacu-
oles or the contractions and serpentine 1noven1ents of the plasn1a. In
1netazoa, its n1ost obvious 1nanifestation is in the cardiovascular
system, \vhere the pulse beat is clear evidence of pulsation. Its
manifestation in the organisn1 as a \vhole varies according to the
structure of the individual organs. In the intestines, for exan1ple, it
appears as "peristalsis,'' waves of alternating expansion and contrac-
tion. In the urinary bladder, the biological pulsation functions in
response to the sti1nulus of n1echanical expansion caused by the
filling of the bladder with urine. The process also n1anifests itself in
the muscular functions, narncly as contraction in the striated
1nuscles and as undulating peristalsis in the smooth muscles. It
permeates the entire organisn1 in the orgastic convulsion (the
orgasm reflex) .
Neither the pulsatory movements of the body organs nor their
disturbances, such as blocking, shrinking, etc., are compatible \Vith
the prevailing notion that nerves act n1ercly as conductors of in1-
pulses while they then1selves re1nain rigid and immobile. Autonon1ic
movernents can be co1nprehended only 'if the autonontic nervous
system 'is itself nlobile. This can be proven by direct observations.
We place a sn1all, sufficiently transparent worm (e.g., a meal \vorm)
under a good microscope, so arranged that both the ganglion and its
fibers are in focus. Since the \NOrm is constantly in n1otion and
reacts sharply to the stirnulus of light, focusing requires repeated
moven1ent of the fine-adjustn1ent scre\vs. This cxperin1ent will pro-
vide convincing evidence that the autononz,ic nervous syste1n is not
rigid but actually contracts and expands. The n1oven1ents of ilie
nerves are serpentine, slo,vly undulating and occasionally jerky.
They consistently precede the corresponding n1ove1nents of the total
organisn1 by a fraction of a second: first the nerve and its rami
contract, follo,ved by the contraction of the n1usculature. Expansion
proceeds in the san1e fashion. As the worm dies, the nervous system
gradually shrinks, and there is a bending of the organism. This
process of gradual shrinking is interrupted by occasional contrac-
tions. After a period of co1nplete in1n1obility, the rigid contraction
224 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

(rigor mortis) abates, the organism gro\vs slack, together with the
nerves, and n1ovement fails to retu1,1.
Biopathic shrinking begins tvith a chronic preponderance of
contraction and an inhibit-ion of expansion in the plasrna syste1n.
This manifests itself n1ost clearly in the respiratory disturbances of
neurotic and psychotic patients in "vhom puhnonary and thoracic
pulsation (the alternation of expansion and contraction) is re-
stricted, and in \vhom an inspiratory attitude predominates. The
general contraction (sympatheticotonia) is not confined to indi-
vidual organs. It encompasses entire organ systen1s, their tissues,
the blood system, the endocrine system, as well as the character
structure. It is 1nanifested in a variety of forn1s, according to its
locality, e.g., as high blood pressure and tachycardia in the cardio-
vascular system; as shrinking of the red blood corpuscles (forma-
tion of T-bacilli, poikilocytosis, anemia) in the blood system; as
affect block and character ar1noring in the reahn of emotions; as
spastic constipation in the alimentary canal; as pallor in the skin;
as orgastic impotence in the sexual function, etc.
Here the attentive reader \Vill raise an objection: can one speak
of "shrinking," he \viii ask, if the autono1nic life apparah1s is merely
in a state of chronic contraction? Is it not possible that the contrac-
tion \vill yield and the function of complete pulsation be reestab-
lished? Should a distinction not be made behveen "chronic
contraction'' and "shrinking" of the autonon1ic nervous system?
Could not the shrinking very \veil be a result of the chronic contrac-
tion of the autonornic nerves, that is, a gradual \Vithering of the life
apparah1s, a gradual, premature dying?
The objection is correct. Biopathic shrinking in cancer is in fact
the consequence of a gradual, chronic contraction of the autonomic
life apparatus.


The follo\ving facts, fan1iliar to us fro1n our sex-economic clini-

cal practice, connect the sexual function to cancer:
The Discocery of the Orgone 225

1. Poor external respiration, \vhich results in a disturbance in

internal respiration in the tissues.
2. Disturbances in the orgonotic charge-discharge functions of
the autonon1ic organs, especially the sexual organs.
3. Chronic spasms of the n1usculature.
4. Chronic orgastic in1potence.
The connection bet,veen disturbances in the discharge of sexual
energy and cancer has not been carefully exan1ined. Ho\vever, ex-
perienced gynecologists are ~nvare of the existence of such a connec-
tion. Respiratory disturbances and n1uscular spasn1s are direct
consequences of an acquired fear of sexual excitation (orgastic
impotence). Poorly charged, spastic organs or organs 'vith insuffi-
cient respiration develop a biological \veakness that renders then1
highly vulnerable to cancer-producing stimuli of all kinds. Organs
that function in a biologically natural n1anner resist the sa1ne
stimuli. This is an obvious and necessary assumption.
The clinically established findings of deficient biological charge,
muscular spasm, and reduced external and internal respiration give
the concept of ''cancer disposition" a tangible content. I no\v \Vant
to sho\v ho\v discoveries in sex-econon1ic clinical practice prepared
the way to cancer research.
The sex-econo1nic exan1ination of character neuroses revealed
again and again the crucial role of 1nuscular spasrns and their de-
vitalizing effect upon the organis1n. ~~Iuscular spasm and deficiency
in orgonotic charge are felt subjectively as "deadness." :Niuscular
hypertension, resulting from chronic sexual stasis, regularly causes a
decrease of organ sensations, to the point 'vhere the individual feels
dead. This process corresponds to a block of bio-energetic activity
in the affected organ. The blocking of biosexual excitation in the
genitals, for instance, is accornpanied by spasn1 of the pelvic mus-
culature, as in the uterine spasn1s of frigid and neurotic \Vomen
which frequently lead to menstrual disturbances and pains, polyp-
ous tumors, and n1yon1ata. Spasm in the uterus has no other
function than to prevent the biosexual energy from being felt in the
vagina. Spasn1s inhibiting the free fio,v of plasn1atic currents affect
particularly the annular n1usculature, e.g., in the throat, at the
226 \V I L H E L 1\I R E I C H

entrance and exit of the ston1ach, in the anus, etc. These are areas in
the organism \vhere cancer occurs \vith particular frequency. Dis-
turbance in the biological charge in a gland, n1ucous 1nembrane, or
a pa1ticular area of the skin is caused by a n1uscular block close to
the affected point \vhich cuts off the plasmatic current. A \vornan I
treated orgone-thcrapeutically had an incipient, carcinomatous le-
sion, confirtned by X-ray, of the fourth costal cartilage on the right
side. This condition \vas the result of spastic contraction, occurring
over several decades, of the right pectoralis n1uscle due to a strong
holding back in the shoulders, brought about by repressed beating
irnpulses. She had never experienced orgasn1 and suffered from
con1pulsive flirting.
In the practice of (ngone therapy, \Vc see not only character
neurotic disturbances but also, quite routinely, schizophrenia, epi-
lepsy, Parkinson-like disease, rheutnatic and cancerous manifesta-
tions. An organic disease n1ay emerge during the treatn1ent or
develop later, recalling early evidence that foreshado\ved it: for
exan1ple, the spasn1s of the pelvic n1usculature that occur so fre-
quently in \vomen, usually resulting in the developn1ent of benign
ttnnors in the genital organs.
In our clinical practice, \Ve have been faced \vith the important
question of \vhat happens to the sonwtic sexual excitation \vhen it is
not regularly discharged .. \Ve kno\v only that biosexual excitation
can be restricted and bound up in chronic muscular tension. In
fernalc patients this tension 1nanifests itself in knot-like inspissations
in the uterus and can be felt as lutnps above the pubis. The
n1uscular spasrn of the uterus usually spreads to the anal sphincter
and the vagina, then to the adductors of the thigh. The pelvis is
regularly retracted and the sacral spine is often stiff and anky losed.
Lun1bago and lordosis are typical of this condition. No organ
sensations are felt in the pelvis. During exhalation, the \Vave of
vegetative excitation is blocked by the rigidly elevated chest or the
tense a bdon1en. The excitation of the large a bdo1ninal ganglia does
not penetrate through to the genital organs. Consequently, there is a
dish1rbanc(\ of biological functioning. The genitals are no longer
susceptible to biological excitation.
The Discor:ery of the Orgone 227

Many \VOtnen suffering fron1 genital tension and vaginal anes-

thesia complain of feeling that "something is not right do\vn there."
They report having experienced during puberty the familiar signs of
biosexual excitation, itching and prickling, and having learned to
cotnbat these excitations by holding their breath, vvith the conse-
quence that they no longer felt anything. Later, they typically
relate, they began to feel a sensation of "deadness" or "nutnbness" in
the genitals, \vhich vvorried then1. Since the biological state of the
organs is n1irrored in organ sensations, \Ve n1ust i1npute serious
significance to such descriptions for the evaluation of somatic
The sexual inhibition commonly found in vvomen is responsible
for the prevalence of breast and genital cancer. In countless cases,
this inhibition 1nay have been present for decades before it takes the
form of cancer.
The follo\ving case illustrates in a particularly simple manner
the direct connection bet\veen character arn1oring, n1uscular spasn1,
and the appearance of a cancer tumor.
A forty-five-year-old 1nan can1e to n1y laboratory for treatment
of a total obstruction of the esophagus caused by a carcinomatous
growth. The intake of solid foods had becotne impossible for him,
and he \Vould immediately vomit liquids. X-rays sho\ved a shado,vy
area the size of a s1nall fist and a con1plete obstruction in the middle
of the esophagus. En1aciation and \veakness had already appeared,
as had severe anen1ia and T-bacilli intoxication. The patient's his-
tory revealed the follo\ving facts. Several months before the first
occurrence of the cancer symptoms, his son, \vhom he especially
loved, had been drafted into tnilitary service. This vvorried him and
he became deeply depressed. (Characterologically, he tended to be
depressive.) In a fe\v days, he developed a spasn1 of the esophagus.
He experienced difficulties in swallo\ving, \vhich, ho\vever, dis-
appeared \vhen he drank \Vater. These complaints, accompanied by
a feeling of pressure in the chest, can1e and vvent for some time,
until one day they becan1e irreversible. The difficulties in s\vallow-
2 \:V omen are usually unable to understand their O\\'n organ sensations.
Character-analytical exploration is needed to enable them to do so.
228 \V I L H E L ~~ H E I C H

ing increased rapidly. He visited a physician, \vho established the

existence of the constriction and a small gro\vth. X-ray treatment
proved ineffective, and after a fe\v months the man was on the
verge of death from starvation. It should be noted that fro1n child-
hood this patient had suffered fron1 severe rigidity of the ja\v
musculature, his face bore a stiff, grim expression. Passive move-
ment of the ja\vs \vas n1arkeclly curtailed. His speech \Vas corre-
spondingly restricted; he spoke through his teeth.
It is not yet possible to gauge the full extent of the somatic
devastation resulting from an inhibition of the natural biological
rhythn1 Inanifest in respiration, and in the alternation of sexual ten-
sion and gratification. Poor breathing n1ust do severe damage to
the internal respiration of the organs, i.e., to the supply of oxygen
and the elin1ination of carbon dioxide. Several years ago, \vhen I
recognized the significant part played by respiratory deficiencies
in en1otional disturbances, I reineinbered that in cancerous tissues
there is a 1narked oxygen deficiency.
The Viennese scientist vVarburg discovered that the various
cancer stin1uli have one con1n1on feature, nan1ely that they cause a
local oxygen deficiency, \vhich in him causes a respiratory distur-
bance in the affected cells. 3 According to his hypothesis, the cancer
cell is a poorly breathing cell, deficient in tissue oxidation. Warburg
sees this oxygen deficiency \vhich leads to respiratory disturbance of
the cells as one cause of cancer. He reasoned that in certain
affected, localized areas the only cells capable of survival and
further development \viii be those \vhich overcome the respiratory
disturbance caused by the oxygen deficiency, thereby assuming the
metabolism of the cancer cells. The process is, basically, a distur-
bance of the energy metabolisn1. The respiratory disturbance is a
property of all kno\vn malignant hnnors, including the Rous sar-
con1a. Cancer 1netabolis1n is, therefore, to be vieu:ed as the 1netabo-
lism of normally grotving cells in a condition of anoxia.
Ho\vever, \VC cannot conclude fro1n v''arburg's correct findings
that the cancer cell is just a normal cell assun1ing a different kind of

3 Cf. Otto \\'arburg, in Biochen1ische Zeitsclzrift, Vol. 317, among others.

The Discocery of the Orgone 229

gro\vth because of oxygen deficiency. Biologically, the cancer cell is

basically different fron1 the nor1nal cell; it is nothing but a protozoal
These findings provide the factual link behveen the autono1nic
life functions and cancer.



I \vould no\v like to submit the case history of a cancer patient

that is particularly revealing of the nah1re of the shrinking biopathy.
The patient's brother stated that the illness had set in three
years before, in the forn1 of excruciating pain in the right hip bone.
The pain \Vas incessant and "pulling." At this tin1e, the patient
\Veighed 125 pounds. She could not raise herself from a supine posi-
tion. Her physician diagnosed a sacroiliac spasn1 and gave her injec-
tions of n1orphine and atropine, but \Vithout success. The pain
remained acute and the patient could not leave her bed. According
to reports fron1 her relatives, she lay flat on her back, in1n1obile.
Three months later, the patient began to have episodes of vomiting.
About this tilne, pain spread frorn the iliac-sacral region to th0 fifth
cervical vertebra. X-rays sho\ved a collapsed vertebra. An ortho-
pedist had the patient placed in a plaster cast. This physician \vas
the first to discover an atrophy of the tenth dorsal vertebra, trace-
able to a cancerous tun1or in the left breast. The diagnosis of cancer
was then confirrned by biopsy. The patient under\vent X-ray treat-
ment of the pelvis and spine. She remained bedridden. Another
physician then n1ade her sterile, using X-rays. \Vhen she left the
clinic, her \veight \Vas do\vn to 90 pounds.
The patient's hospital file provided the follo,ving information.
Four n1onths before her adrnission she had begun to feel pains in
her right hip, especially \vhen she \valked. It \vas also difficult for
her to sit do\vn. \Ve \Vere struck by the fact that the pains zchich
kept the patient bedridden for rnore than ttvo years u.,ere not origi-
nally felt in the area of the cancer tun1or. The pains \Vere in the
230 \V I L H E L ~I R E I C H

right hip, \Vhereas the prin1ary tun1or was located in the left breast,
\Vith n1etastases in the spine.
The patient also suffered fron1 von1iting. The hospital record
stated that she lay flat in bed and could n1ove only \Vith great pain.
Her lymph glands \Vcre not enlarged. Her breast tun1or n1easured
roughly 3 x 2 x 6 centii11eters. Even at this tin1e, her leg n1oven1ents
\Vere restricted. The sacrun1 \vas rigid and the spine \Vas painfully
sensitive over n1ost of its length. The hospital diagnosis \Vas carci-
nonw of the left breast, tcith bone metastases, and her physician at
the hospital concluded that the case was hopeless.
T'venty-six n1onths after the discovery of the breast tun1or, the
patient \vas brought to my experin1cntal cancer laboratory. She \Vas
barely able to stand on her O\Vn and had to be helped along by two
relatives. I-Ier skin, especially on her face, \Vas ashen, and shrunken
around the nose. The pains in her back, sharply localized at the
twelfth dorsal vertebra, \Vere extraordinarily severe. The left breast
displayed a tun1or the size of a sn1all apple, barely movable. A
blood test undertaken the san1e day yielded the foiio,ving results:
hemoglobin content 35%, T-bacilli culture in bouiilon strongly posi-
tive after t\vcnty-four hours. Elongated, serpentine rot bacteria
\Vere seen, and the red blood corpuscles for the most part were in a
state of bionous disintegration, \Vith large nutnbers of T-spikes.
Small nucleated round cells and heaps of T -bacilli were also visible.
The autoclavation test yielded predotninantly blue bions, but the
vesicles \vere sn1all and radiated only \Veakly. Inoculation of the
bouillon culture on agar produced a distinct margin of T-bacilli. 4
These findings in the blood indicated extren1e biological \Veakness
of the blood systen1. Radiographic exan1ination revealed the fol-

The fifth cervical vertebra is collapsed. No significant findings

at the other cervical vertebrae. The dorsal spine sho\vs collapse
of the tenth and t\velfth vertebrae and a narro\ving of the joint

4Cf. Reich, Bion Experirnents ou the Cancer Problenl ( Sexpol Verlag,

1939 ).
The Discovery of the Orgone 231

space behveen the third and fourth vertebrae. There is also

strong suggestion of a n1etastatic lesion at the medial third of
the right ninth rib.
No lesions are present at the lumbar spine, but there are
three round areas of lesser density at the right ilium near the
sacroiliac joint which are very suggestive of metastatic lesions,
although they n1ight be gas shado\\s of the caecum.

The physician to \vhonl I sent the patient for a general exami-

nation declared the case hopeless on the basis of the X-rays.
However, it \Vas the biological \veakness of the blood, and not the X-
ray photographs, that rnade the greatest iinpression on n1e.
Two physicians \vho \Vcre friends of the patient's family de-
clared that she \Vould not survive n1ore than t\vo \Veeks. Another
physician felt, on the basis of the inforrnation received fron1 physi-
cians at the hospital, that the patient could live a rnaxin1urn of two

The 1nuscular ar1nor

The biophysical habitus of the patient \vhen I first sa\v her \vas
as follows. Her ja\v \vas cla1nped tight; she spoke through her teeth
as if hissing; the 1nasseters reacted with strong spasm to any
atten1pt to pull do\vn the ja\v. The superficial and deep n1usculature
of the neck, especially in the supraclavicular region, was extraordi-
narily rigid. The patient held her head some,vhat pulled in and
tilted forward, as if she were afraid so1nething terrible \vould
happen to her neck if she rnoved her head. At first, this rnanner of
holding the head and neck seen1ed to be attributable to the fact that
her fifth cervical vertebra was collapsed. The patient had been
wearing a collar brace for son1e time, and a fracture of the cervical
spine as a consequence of too rapid or extren1e movernent \Vas a
possibility. As later becan1e clear, the patient rnade good use of this
fact as a neurotic defense. II er fear of 1noving her neck existed long
before the collapse of the vertebra. Indeed;, her manner of holding
her head and neck tvas only part of a general biophysical attitude
232 \V I L H E L ~f R E I C H

which we had to understand not as the result but as the biopathic

cause of her cancer.
All reflexes of the head, trunk, and legs \Vere normal. Respira-
tion \vas severely dish1rbed. The lips vvere dra\vn in, the nostrils
sonle\vhat distended, as she labored to dra\v in air through the nose.
The thorax \vas in1n1obile. It failed to contract and expand vvith the
rhythm of respiration and ren1ained chronically fixed in the inspira-
tory position. \Vhen directed to breathe out fully, the patient \Vas
unable to; in fact, she did not seem to understand what \vas being
asked of her. The attempt to push the thorax manually into the
expiratory position, i.e., to push it down, \vas thwarted by lively
rnuscular resistance. I-Iead, neck, and shoulders formed one unified,
solid mass, as if independent movernent in the individual joints was
impossible. The patient vvas able to raise her arn1s only very slowly
and with great difficulty. The handclasp in both hands \vas excep-
tionally feeble. The scapular n1uscles \Vere extren1ely taut and
knotted. The muscles behveen the shoulder blades, on both sides of
the cervical spine, \vere painfully sensitive to the touch.
The abdo1ninal vvall also was tense, and reacted \Vith strong
resistance to the slightest pressure. The n1usculature of her legs
seemed thin, relative to the rest of the body, as though atrophied.
The pelvis \vas sharply retracted and imn1obile.
Superficial psychiatric examination yielded the follo,ving infor-
mation. The patient had suffered from inso1nnia for many years
before the discovery of the cancer tumor. She had been widowed
for hvclve years. The n1arriage, \vhich had lasted t\vo years, had
been to all ouhvard appearances stable but in reality had been
unhappy. In contrast to so many other cases of 1narital unhappiness,
vvhere there is no consciousness of suffering, the patient had al\vays
been fully a\vare that her n1arriage \Vas a bad one. Her husband
\Vas impotent. \Vhen coitus finally succeeded, the husband suffered
frorn pren1arure ejacul~tion and the patient re1nained unsatisfied. In
the first 1nonths of the marriage, her sexual dissatisfaction caused
her 1nuch suffering. She later "got used to it." She had al\vays been
conscious of the need for sexual gratification but had been unable to
The Discovery of the Orgone 233

find the n1eans. When her husband died, she devoted herself to the
upbringing of her child, rejecting any approaches fron1 men and
avoiding social contact. In tiine, her sexual excitation subsided. It
was replaced by anxiety states, which she combated \Vith various
phobias. \Vhen she carne to n1e, she sho\vcd no anxiety; she scen1ed
emotionally \Vcll balanced and reconciled to her fate. To the charac-
ter analyst, she presented the farniliar picture of neurotic resigna-
tion; she no longer had any impulse to change her life. I avoided
any atten1pt to probe deeper into the latent conflict of the patient
and focused my attention on the organic changes \Vhich soon

The results of the orgone therapy experiment

A precise account of the technique of orgone therapy \vill be
presented else\vhere. Here, I shall only convey the essentials.
Our orgone therapy experiinents \Vith cancer patients consist in
having them sit in an orgone accurnulator. The orgone energy
"accumulated" in the interior of this enclosure penetrates the naked
body and, moreover, is breathed in. The length of time the patients
are exposed to the radiation in the accun1ulator is dcterrnined by
the atmospheric energy tension, \Vhich is n1easured in minute-orgs by
comparing the speed of electroscopic discharge inside the accumu-
lator \vith the speed of discharge in the air outside the accumu-
lator. 5
During the initial sessions of the experiment, I exposed the
patient to 30 minute-orgs of radiation, i.e., the patient remained
inside the accun1ulator for thirty minutes, exposed to radiation in
which the electroscopic discharge occurs at a rate of sixty n1inutes
per unit.

5 The concentration of orgone energy inside the accumulator is three to

five times greater than in the open air. One unit of electroscopic charge dis-
charges inside the accumulator t\vo, three, or five tin1es n1ore slo,vly than in the
atmosphere. The n1ore 1ninutes it takes for a single unit to discharge, the higher
the orgone energy tension.
234 \V I L H E L !\f R E I C II

In the follo\ving account, I \vish to n1ention only those reactions

of the patient that are typical of all cancer patients undergoing
orgone therapy. Individual reactions \viii be designated as such.
During the patient's first exposure to orgone radiation, the skin
bet\veen her shoulder blades reddened at a spot that t\vo n1onths
later \Votrld play a significant role in her functional disease. Fron1
the second exposure on, the reactions bccan1e intenser and more
distinct. The pain in the region of the tenth dorsal vertebra regu-
larly decreased during the radiation. The subsidence of the pain
generally lasted until the uext treatinent. The pains intensified
acutely in bad \\'eather, especially \Vith htunidity or rain. During the
patient's second exposure, the reddening of the skin spread to the
upper part of the back and the chest. \Vhen the irradiation \vas
interrupted for five 1ninutes, the reddening disappeared, returning
as soon as the patient reentered the acctunulator. Fro1n the third
irradiation on, the patient felt the air in the accun1ulator to be
"closer and heavier." "'I feel as though I'm filling up"; "I have a
buzzing around the ears fron1 the inside"; ''so1nething n1akes me
strong"; "son1cthing clears up in n1y body." During the third ex-
posure the patient also began to perspire, especially under the arms.
\Vhen asked about this, she reported that during the past years she
had never perspired.
These reactions of the organisn1 to the effects of orgone radia-
tion are typical of all cancer patients. In son1e) one particular
reaction 1nay be tnost pro1ninent; in others, a different one 1nay
predotninatc. Reddening of the skin, lo\vering of the pulse rate, the
outbreak of \Varnl perspiration, and the subjective sensations of
son1ething in the body "loosening up," ''filling up," or "s,velling,"
etc., represent a pattern of reactions for \Yhich there can be only one
interpretation: the cancer habitus of the patient is deter1nined by
general sy1npatheticotonia, i.e., by vegetative contraction. That is
'vhy the sy1nptoms of most cancer patients include accelerated
pulse, pallor, blotchy cyanosis and dryness of skin, sunken cheeks,
sluggish functioning of the organs, constipation, and the inability to
perspire. The effect of the orgone energy radiation is vagotonic. In
The Discor;ery of the Orgone 235

other words, it acts as a counter-force resisting the general sym-

patheticotonic shrinking of the organisn1. The pulse of a patient ex-
posed to orgone radiation in the accun1ulator n1ay drop \vithin
t\vcnty n1inutes fro1n 120 to 90, or fron1 1.50 to 110. This is accon1-
plished without any Inedication. The reddening of the skin and the
outbreak of perspiration are corresponding phenon1ena; the periph-
eral blood vessels dilate and the blood pressure decreases. In tern1s
of biological pulsation, the chronic contraction of the plasnw systent
subsides and gives tcay to vagotonic expansion. This ''plasn1atic
expansion" is acco1npanied by a reduction of the typical cancer
The pain suffered by cancer patients is usually attributed to
localrnechanical tissue darnage caused by the ttnnor. In some cases,
pain undoubtedly is caused that \vay, e.g., if there is pressure on a
nerve or if a sensitive organ is dan1aged. However, the typical
cancer pain to \Vhich I a1n referring here should be clearly distin-
guished frorn such local, rnechanically produced pains. I \Vill refer
to it specifically as "shrinking pain." To understand it, \Ve have to
review a few facts generally overlooked until now.
Sex-econon1y had to relinquish the vie\v dorninating conteinpo-
rary n1edicine that the autonomic nerves of n1ulticellular organisrns
rnerely transrnit iinpulscs and are thernselves rigid. "Tearing" and
"pulling" pains are incomprehensible \Vithout the realization that
the autonon1ic nervous system itself expands and contracts, i.e., is
mobile. This fact can be confirn1ed, as I den1onstrated earlier, by
microscopic exan1ination of the autono1nic nervous systen1 in, for
instance, n1eal \VOrn1s. We observed that the nerve fibers of the
autonon1ic ganglion expanded and contracted and indeed 111oved
independent! y of the n1ove1ncnts of the total organism. These move-
rnents actually preceded those of the total body. The in1pulses
manifested themselves first in the movetnents of the autono1nic
nervous systern and \vere transn1itted secondarily to the n1echanical
locon1otor organs of the organisn1. This finding sounds revolutionary
and strange, but in actual fact it represents a banal conclusion, later
confirmed by direct observation, that I had to draw from the pulsa-
236 \V I L H E L 1-.f R E I C H

tory functions of the organism. The contracting and expanding of

the arnoeba continues to exist in the 1nulticellular organism in the
forrn of the contractile and expansile autonondc nervous systern.
This autono,mic nervous systent is nothing other than organized
contractile plasma. The entotional, vegetative, autonornic rnovernent
is therefore a direct expression of the plasnw current. The prevailing
notion of the rigidity of the autonotnic nerves does not accommodate
any of the phenotnena observed in biophysical functioning, such as
pleasure, fear, tension, relaxation, sensations of pressure, pulling,
pain, etc. On the other hand, the contractility of the autonomic
nervous systcn1, \vhich forn1s a functional and histological unity
( "syncytiutn"), explains in a simple \vay our subjective plasmatic
sensations. \Vhat \\'e feel as pleasure is an expansion of our orga-
nisn1. In pleasure corresponding to vagotonic expansion, the auto-
non1ic nerves actually stretch out to\vard the \VOrld. In anxiety, on
the other hand, \ve feel a cra,vling back into the self: a shrinking, a
hiding, a constriction ( "angustiae," "Angst"). In these sensations,
\Ve are experiencing the real process of contraction of the autonomic
nervous svsten1.

\Ve feel the orgastn as an involuntary convulsion; this again

reflects the objective process of expansion and contraction of the en-
tire plasma system. The pain felt by cancer patients mirrors the
retraction of the autonon1ic nerves frotn the diseased area and the
"pull'' on the tissues. The expression "pulling pain" or "tearing pain"
conforn1s con1plctcly to the objective process. The unequivocal and
simple fact of the identity of our organ sensations \Vith the actual
processes \Vithin the auton(H11ic nervous systen1 can be denied only
if one assun1es a Inechanistically inflexible, unalive, unbiological,
and unpsychological attitude. Such a perspective exiles our organ
sensations to the realm of tnetaphysics and thereby fails to do jus-
tice to a single fact of the cancer syndrome.
We no\v understand the seen1ingly ren1arkable phenomenon of
cancer pain generally decreasing or disappearing in the orgone
accutnulator. If cancer pain is not the expression of a local mechani-
cal lesion but of a general contraction of the autonomic nerves, a
"pulling at the tissues," then it becon1es understandable that the
The Discocery of the Orgone 237

vagotonic expansion of the nerves reduces the "pulling" and,

thereby, the pain.
This finding reveals an essential effect of orgone energy: it
charges living tissue and brings about an expansion of the plas-
matic system (vagotonia).
The general revitalization of the organism's functions by orgone
radiation is n1anifest also in the blood picture of cancer patients.
When the patient can1e to us, the hemoglobin content was 35%.
T\VO days later, it \Vas 40%; after four days, 51%; after seven days,
5.5%; after nine days, 63%; after fourteen days, 75%, and after three
weeks it had risen to the nor1nal level, 8.5%. The patient was able to
leave her sickbed, take her child back into her own care, and after
years of inactivity and confinernent in bed, begin again to \vork. But
she did too much; she \Vent shopping, spending hours in different
departn1ent stores. Her pains had gone; she slept \veil and felt
completely healthy. She did her house\vork without any help. I had
to warn her that she had an extrcrnely serious illness to overcon1e
and should not overtax herself. ~1y warning was justified. After
about six \Veeks, the patient felt tired and the hen1oglobin content
dropped to 63%. The pains in her back did not return, but for the
first time she con1plained of difficulty in breathing, and about a
"wandering" pain in the diaphrag1n. I ordered bed rest, and the
blood picture improved again. The hemoglobin soon rose to 70%
and eight days later \vas back to norn1al at 85%. Her \Veight re-
mained constant at around 124 pounds. After another four \veeks,
the hen1oglo bin \Vas still 85%.
The patient no longer had to be brought to me in an auto-
mobile. She came for her daily treatment alone, by sub\vay. Her
relatives and the doctors \vho had treated her \Vere an1azed. Ho\v-
ever, the subsequent behavior of the physicians, fron1 any rational
standpoint, is incotnprehensible. Here \Vas an apparent reversal of a
carcinon1a, yet they never once asked ho\v the ilnproven1ent had
been brought about. At the beginning, I had sent the patient to a
doctor, who predicted that she \vould not live n1ore than a fe\v days.
No\v the patient \vas \valking around, and X-rays sho\ved con1plete
ossification in the previously cancerous spine; also, the shado\vs in
2:38 \V I L H E L 1\1 R E I C H

the pelvic bones had disappeared, only t\vo \veeks after the begin-
ning of the treatn1ent. Yet I neither sa\v nor heard from any of
those doctors.
The X-rays clearly sho,ved the healing process. They confirn1ed
\vhat I had frequently observed in the cancer experiments \Vith
mice, nan1ely that orgone energy arrests the gro\vth of the tumor
and replaces it by a he1naton1a \Vhich, under favorable conditions, is
reabsorbed and eliininated by connective tissue or, if the tumor is in
bones, by calcification.

Orgone-biophysical blood tests

I \Vould like to sutninarize \vhat is to be presented more fully
Orgone energy charges the erythrocytes biologically. Each indi-
vidual erythrocyte is an independent, self-contained orgonotic en-
ergy vesicle. It is subject to the san1e biological function of tension
and charge and pulsation as the total organism and every one of its
autonon1ous organs. The expansion and contraction of erythrocytes
can be observed easily at a magnification of about 3000x. The
erythrocytes shrink \vith the adtnixture of adrenalin, \vhereas potas-
siutn chloride n1akes them S\vell. They are, therefore, subject to the
antithesis of the pleasure-anxiety function.
Our blood tests on cancer patients are done as follo\VS:
1. Culture test. A blood satnple is tested for bacterial gro\vth in
bouillon or in a mixture of 50% bouillon plus 50% KCI ( O.ln). In
cases of advanced cancer, the blood consistently shows a strong
grorcth of T-bacilli. 6
2. Biological resistance test. A fe\v drops of blood are auto-
claved for half an hour in bouillon and KCl at a steam pressure of
15 lbs. per sq. in. Healthy blood \Vithstands the process of auto-
clavation better than the biologically \Veakened blood of cancer
patients. Biologically healthy blood corpuscles disintegrate into

G Cf. Reich, Bion Experitnents on the Cancer Prohlern, 1939.

The Discocery of the Orgone 239

large blue bion vesicles. Carcinornatously devitalized blood disinte-

grates into T-bodics. The T-body content increases and that of the
blue bions decreases, in proportion to the degree of dcvitalization.
Orgone trcahnent charges the erythrocytes. The effect is
den1onstrated bv the transforrnation of the T-reaction into a B-reac-

tion; i.e., the blood becorncs n1ore resistant to high ternperatures.

3. Disintegration in physiological salt solution. A srnall drop of
blood is placed on a hanging drop slide in 0.9% sodiun1 chloride
solution. The blood corpuscles disintegrate slo\vly or quickly ac-
cording to their biological resistance. The rnore rapid their disinte-
gration, the shrinking of their n1ernbrane, and the forrnation of bion
vesicles inside the cells, the lo\vcr their biological resistance. Eryth-
rocytes that are biologically vigorous retain their shape for t\venty
rninutes and longer. Disintc~gration \Vithin one to three rninutes
indicates extren1e biological \veakness. In cases of severe anernia,
the erythrocytes display the typical T-spikes, i.e., shrunken mem-
4. Blue orgone nuzrgin. Biologically vigorous erythrocytes re-
veal a broad, intensely blue or blue-green margin \Vhen vie\ved at
300-600x n1agnification, using apochrornatic lenses. Devitalized
erythrocytes, tending to\vard rapid disintegration, have an ex-
tremely narrO\V n1argin, \vith \veak blue coloration.
Blood tests conducted on our patient sho\ved a general biologi-
cal strengthening of the blood. Initially, the patient's blood cultures
were strongly positive, i.e., they sho,ved an extensive gro\vth of T-
bacilli. Three \veeks later, the blood cultures yielded negative
results and continued to do so. The erythrocytes \vere no longer
shrunken. They \Vere full and taut, \vith \Vide and dark-blue n1ar-

gins. The autoclavation test sho\ved 100% bionous disintegration

and no further T-reaction. Bionous disintegration in the sodiurn
chloride solution took place very slo,vly and without the formation
of T -spikes.
The patient no longer suffered from any pain and \vas cheerful,
but she felt un\vell in rainv \Veather. She can1e everv dav for the

orgone irradiation. Her blood pressure retnained constant at 130/80.

240 \V I L H E L ~f R E I C H

Her pulse rate never exceeded the norm, around 80. There \Vas just
one syn1ptom that \vould not subside, and gre\v even \VOrse. She
\Vas having unexplainable difficulty in breathing.

The en-zergence of the carcinonwtous biopathy

I \viii no\v proceed to the description of the carcinomatous
biopathy, \vhich ernergcd only after elin1ination of the tun1ors and
the restoration of the norn1al blood picture. I did not have the
slightest presentiment of \vhat I an1 about to describe, and I experi-
enced it, at first, \Vith an1azernent and incornprehension. It \Vas
difficult to understand the connections bet\veen these phenomena.
After the local cancer htmors had disappeared, there developed a
general biopathic disease picture that formed the essential back-
ground of the cancer: biopathic shrinking.
The patient seemed to have recovered her physical health
con1pletely. This lasted about six \veeks and \vas confirmed objec-
tively by the results of the blood tests and X-rays. The tumors had
vanished. Her blood re1nained vigorous; the anernia did not re-
appear. The turnor in the right breast \vas no longer palpable after
the eighth exposure to orgone radiation. Those with a mechanistic
vie\v of pathology \vould have considered this a triumph and pro-
claimed the "cure" of the case. Ho\vever, the simultaneous emer-
gence of en1otional symptoms, \vhich became more and n1ore
prominent, restrained rne fron1 dra\ving premature conclusions.
When the patient first can1e to n1e, she was totally devoid of
sexual feelings. Roughly four \veeks after starting orgone therapy, I
observed signs in her of severe sexual stasis. She had been cheerful
and gay and full of hope for the future. No\v a depression gradually
began to set in and she developed sy1nptoms of stasis anxiety. Once
again, she \Vithdre\v fron1 people. I learned from her that attempts
to rectify her sexual situation had failed.
I succeeded in breaking through the patient's shyness and
learned that she had recently been suffering from intense sexual
excitations, \Vhich, as she said, \Vere incomparably stronger than
those she had experienced and cornbated fourteen years before, at
The Discovery of the Orgone 241

the beginning of her marriage. Judging by her descriptions, the

sensations she \Vas feeling \vere quite norn1al vaginal excitations.
During the first t\VO \Veeks after her recovery, the patient had made
several attetnpts to approach 1nen sexually, but she \vas unsuccess-
ful and relapsed into despair and a state of physical exhaustion.
These attempts, \vhich had continued for several \veeks, \Vere
healthy and indicative of a positive turning toward life. One day she
asked me \vhether sexual intercourse \Vith a man "once a month"
could be harmful to her. The question see1ned to be tinged with
fright, in contradiction to her sexual knc)\vledge. It indicated the
presence of an irrational fear, \Vhich turned out to be that some
terrible disaster n1ight befall her during sexual intercourse, "since
her spine was collapsed in tvvo places." She feared the effects of the
violent movement in sexual excitation. It should be noted that this
idea appeared suddenly after the failure of her attempts to find a
sexual partner. She had 1net a 1nan \Vho proved to be in1potent. She
was enraged, but fought do\vn her hate and disappointment. When-
ever she felt rage, she ~'s,vallo\ved it." No\v the patient displayed the
picture of a co1nplete stasis neurosis: the depression increased, she
suffered fro1n uncontrollable fits of crying and complained of op-
pression in the region of the heart. "There is a dreadful pressure in
my chest," she con1plained. "It goes through and through."
It \vould seen1 possible to attribute this "pressure in the chest"
to the collapsed t\velfth dorsal vertebra. But there \Vas one con-
sideration that clearly conflicted vvith this possibility. The patient
had been free fron1 pain for six \veeks, had felt no oppression in the
chest, and had \VOrkcd hard. It was inconceivable that the mechani-
cal pressure of the collapsed vertebra on a nerve should novv
suddenly become active after an absence of \veeks. The events that
followed conr1ned the idea that the patient had developed an
anxiety hysteria for \vhich the spinal lesion served as a rationaliza-
tion. Any physician untrained in psychiatry \Vould have tended
to athibute all the n1anifestations of the disease to the collapsed
vertebra, \vithout regard for the fact that the same vertebra had
been no less collapsed during the \veeks vvhen the patient \Vas
moving around vvithout pain.
242 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C II

After about ten orgone irradiations, the patient felt sexual

excitations. She had been biophysically charged by the orgone
energy, but she \vas unable to handle the resultant sexual excitation.
The anxiety neurosis that no\v appeared \vas only a reactivation of
the conflicts she had suffered in puberty. No\v the patient \Vas in the
tragic situation of a\vakening to ne\v life, only to find herself facing
a void. As long as she \vas ill, the cancer tun1or and the suffering it
caused absorbed all her interests. In the fight against the cancerous
gro\vth, her organisn1 had indeed used up great an1ounts of biologi-
cal energy. But no\v these energy resources \Vere free and intensi-
fied by the orgonotic charge. During a period of extremely severe
depression, the patient adn1itted to n1e that she felt herself to be
ugly, ruined as a \VOinan, and she did not kno\v ho\v she could go
on \vith her life. She asked n1c if orgone energy could cure her
anxiety neurosis too. I had to give a negative answer, and she
understood \vhy.
Let us no\v sununarize the sequence of events.
1. At the beginning of her n1arriage, a severe stasis neurosis
occurred as a consequence of her husband's in1potence.
2. Repression of sexual excitation, resignation, depression, and
a decade of abstinence follo,vcd.
3. Then, as the cancer developed, the sexual excitations dis-
appeared. As \vill be sho\vn later, the localization of the cancer
1netastases occurred in precisely those organs affected by the tnus-
cular arn1-or that blocked the sexual excitations.
4. With the destruction of the tun1ors by orgone energy came
the physical recovery of the patient, and sexual excitability re-
appeared .
.5. Intense sexual excitation ended in disappointment, and the
old stasis neurosis returned.
This overall disease pattern rPsultcd eventually in a general
shrinking of the organism.
Then one dav an unfortunate accident occurred. The patient
stepped out of the' orgone accumulator and began to dress. She bent
over to pick up a stocking that had fallen to the floor. We heard a
scream and rushed to her. She \Vas as pale as a corpse, had a
The Discovery of the Orgone 243

thready pulse, and seen1ed about to faint. It frightened us because

\Ve did not kno'v \vhat had happened and also because \Ve regarded
the collapsed vertebra as the S\vord of Dan1ocles. Nobody could be
sure \vhen the patient n1ight suffer a fracture of the spine. It \Vas
precisely because this possibility \Vas so strong that it so easily
beca1ne a rationalization of the patient's neurosis. Once she had
calmed do,vn, it becatne apparent that she had only experienced a
severe fright. For a n1on1ent she had believed that, in bending do,vn
too quickly, she had actually fractured her spine. In fact, she had
merely incurred a 1nusclc strain in the shoulder, having moved a
hypertonic tnuscle too s\viftly. The n1uscle strain quickly subsided.
During the first fe\v days that follo,ved, the patient felt \veil. On the
fourth day, ho\vever, she cotnplained of severe "pressure in the
chest" and '\veakness in the legs." Examination of the reflexes
showed no datnage to the nervous system. For the next fe,v days,
her legs felt stronger, but the pressure in her chest persisted. Then
one day during a conversation in the examination roon1, the patient
suddenly let out a scream and doubled up, giving everyone present
the ilnpression that she had broken her spine. An im1nediate exanli-
nation sho\ved all reflexes to be functioning perfectly. On the other
hand, there \vas no\v a ne\v syn1pto1n \Vhich kept the patient bed-
ridden for many n1onths and baffied a number of physicians. She
began to have trouble breathing and had to gasp for air. The
impression I had was of a spastic contraction of the diaphragm-a
diaphragn1atic block.
The pain in the lower ribs about \vhich she nO\V complained
could be ascribed just as \vell to this spas In as to a Inechanical
pressure of the collapsed vertebra on a sensory nerve: the collapsed
tu;elfth thoracic vertebra corresponded to the costal insertion of the
diaphragn1. The events of the follo,ving months represented essen-
tially a conflict of opinions about the validity of these two explana-
tions. I advised the patient's relatives to take her to the orthopedist
\vho had earlier prescribed a collar brace for her. The orthopedist
stated that the spine and pelvis \Vere free of shado\vs and metas-
tases, and diagnosed the patient's condition as being due to a
mechanical lesion at the t\velfth thoracic vertebra. He did not ask
244 \V I L H E L ~1 R E I C H

ho'v the n1etastases had disappeared. He prescribed bed rest in a

plaster cast. Ho,vever, her brother rejected this advice, since he had
follo,ved the course of his sister's disease \vith understanding and
was convinced that I \Vas correct. During this period I realized for
the first tilne the connection bet,veen the lesion at the hvelfth verte-
bra and the biopathic contracture of the diaphragm. There had to
be a reason \vhy the diaphragn1atic spas1n, so familiar to the
orgonon1ist, happened \vhen it did. There also had to be a reason
\vhy one of the n1ost significant cancer n1ctastases had occurred
exactly at the costal insertion of the diaphragn1. The clinical diag-
nosis of the patient's condition was rendered extraordinarily difficult
by this concurrence of diaphragtnatic spasn1 and lesion of the
vertebra; yet it opened the \vay to an understanding of the crucial
connection bettceen ernotionally induced rnuscle spasm and the
localization of tnetastases. One of the tasks of this chapter \vill be to
establish that the localization of a cancer turnor is deter1nined by
the biological inacticity of the tissues in its inunediate vicinity.
Orgone treatn1cnt of the patient had to be interrupted, since
she \vas again confined to bed. Reexan1ination at a cancer hospital
and by private physicians sho,ved total absence of cancerous
gro\vths and calcification of the defects in the spinal colun1n. The
original tutnor in the breast did not reappear. Still, no one could
foresee \vhether or not ne\v cancer gro\vths n1ight appear. I visited
the patient several tin1es at her hon1e. She complained of violent
pain in the lo\ver ribs. The pain \vas neither constant nor confined to
any specific areas; it appeared here and there along the lo\ver
margin of the thorax and could be regularly clin1inated by correct-
ing the breathing. The overall picture \Vas that of a neuralgia with
strong hysterical overtones. The patient lay flat in bed, giving the
in1pression that the pain n1ade it ilnpossible for her to move at all.
~\1 y attcn1pts to n1ovC' her arn1s or legs Ina de her cry out, becon1e
pale, and break out in a cold s\veat. A fe\v times I managed to get
her out of bed and into an arrnchair by having her breathe deeply
for ten n1inutes. Her relatives \Verc astonished that I \Vas able to
alleviate her pain \vith such ease. They had \vitncssed the disap-
pearance of the tun1ors and had had it confirn1ed by outside physi-
The Discocery of the Orgone 245

cians. Since I \Vorked \Vithout chcn1icals and injections, n1y orgone

therapy seemed n1ysterious. To counteract this iinpression, I tried to
explain the n1echanisrn of the disease to then1. They understood
very quickly that the pain could not originate in the lesion of the
vertebra, since it then \VOtlld be sharply localized and not suscep-
tible to correction by in1proved breathing. As yet, I had no presenti-
ment that the patient did not actually have any pain, but only a
panic-stricken fear that pain n1ight start.
An intercostal injection of an anesthetic \vas tried at the precise
point \vhere the pain \Vas tnost violent. The anesthetic had no effect,
and shortly after the injection, the pain appeared at another rib. The
attending physician, who in the beginning had been convinced that
the pain originated in the vertebral lesion, finally had to admit that
the pro bletn \vas essentially ''functional." But none of us had any
idea \vhat "n1eaning'' the "functional" sympton1 had. :Nloreover, to
many doctors, "functional" n1eans ''not organic," \vhich is to say, "not
real but in1aginary."
One day I again found the patient suffering from violent
"pain." She \Vas gasping for air and uttering peculiar moaning
sounds. Her condition seen1ed serious but in1proved considerably as
soon as her breathing \vas corrected and the spasm in her ja\v
muscles was dissolved. I then delegated the \Vork on her respiration
to a colleague, since I had to be a\vay for t\vo n1onths. His subse-
quent reports to n1e confirtned that the establishn1ent of full expira-
tion consistently relieved the pain.
The patient \Vas once again admitted to the hospital. The
attending physician there confirtned the absence of n1etastases in
the bones and stated his belief that X-ray heatn1ent \vould not
eliminate the pain. l-Ie doubted also \vhether neurosurgery at the
twelfth spinal segment \vould serve any purpose. It was no\v five
months since the beginning of orgone therapy, and three and a half
months after its interruption. \Vhen told by the patient's brother
about the successful results obtained through orgone therapy, the
physician becan1e very reserved. He \vould have nothing to say on
that subject, he said, until it \Vas "accepted by the n1edical \vorld."
He conveniently overlooked the fact that he hin1self \Vas part of this
246 \V I L H E L !\1 R E I C H

''tnedical \vorld" upon \vhich he \Vas pushing the responsibility to

ackno\vledge the significant results achieved in the treatment of a
cancer case by orgone therapy.
The patient soon returned hon1e, \vherc, as before, she lay flat
on her back in bed, n1otionless. I-Icr n1usctilaturc continued to
atrophy fron1 disuse and there \Vas great danger of a recurrence of
the tun1ors. I savv the patient again one 1nonth later. Once n1ore, I
succeeded in eliminating the pain by correcting her respiration. She
\Vas able to leave her bed, but felt extre1nely \veak. During one of
the atte1npts to extend her stay out of bed, the patient developed
severe anxiety. She begged to be allo\ved to go back to bed. At that
particular 11101nent, she had no pain. I convinced her to stay on her
feet for a \vhile longer. All at once, she began to tremble violently,
becan1e frightened, broke out in a cold s\veat, and went pale. What
she \vas experiencing, in fact, \Vas a severe shock-like reaction of the
autonon1ic system to the act of standing up. I did not let the patient
return to bed, because I noticed that there \Vas son1e un\varranted
fear driving her to do so. A fevv n1on1ents later, there \Vere visible
convulsions in the upper a bdon1en. She gasped for air and I could
see the diaphragn1atic spasn1 dissolving into clonic convulsions of
the abdon1inal n1usculature. She then felt relieved and \vas able to
move freely.
Novv I understood for the first tilne an essential elen1ent of the
biopathy. She had reacted to the biological charging of her organism
by the orgone and to the ensuing sexual excitations \Vith a contrac-
tion of the diaphragn1. 7 This diaphragn1atic contraction evidently
caused the ''pressure in the chest" and the sensation of pain that the
patient attributed to the lesion of the vertebra. The "painful"
pressure in the chest disappeared each tiine I succeeded in over-
coming the inspiratory spasm by extending her exhalation, there by
restoring the pulsatory n1ovctnent of the diaphragm. But it \Vas
precisely these contractions and expansions of the diaphragm that
aroused in the patient a S(~vere anxiety, \vhich she counteracted by
reverting to the inspiratory spasm. It \Vas no\v clear that the "dan-
7The repression of sexual excitation by 1neans of a chronic attitude of in-
spiration is a phenon1enon fan1iliar to the orgone therapist.
The Discovery of the Orgone 247

ger" of a clonic dissolution of the contraction \Vas too great for the
patient when she \vas standing or \valking. The danger lay in the
violent convulsions that threatened to dissolve the diaphragn1atic
spasm. She did not dare get out of bed because of her deep-seated
fear of these convulsions. It \vas rnainly-though not exclusively-
this fear that kept her confined to her bed.
There can be no question that the diaphragrnatic spasn1s did
generate neuralgic pain in the ribs and at the insertion of the
diaphragm. But these spasrns constituted only one part of her
enormous fear of n1oving. ~/lore in1portant was her fear that rnove-
ment \Vould cause her to "collapse" or "break her back." The
involuntary convulsions of the diaphragn1 that threatened to over-
\Vhelm her \vhenever she stood up scerned to confirrn this danger.
Thus, she was not really suffering fron1 acute pain but rather fron1 a
deadly fear of the onset of such pain. Her experience of a fe\v
n1onths before, that "sornething snapped inside \vhen she rnoved too
swiftly," intensified her fear. She was suffering, therefore, fron1 a
Inisinterprctation of the norrnal orgonotic sensations that accon1-
pany 1novernents of the diaphragn1. Confining herself to bed \Vas a
tren1endous defense n1echanisn1 designed to protect her against this
fear of "falling apart." The danger of "falling apart" n1ade itself felt
when the diaphragrnatic spasn1 \vas on the point of dissolving into
clonic contractions. She counteracted this danger \Vith intensifica-
tion of the spastic diaphragn1atic contraction. Understandably, this
emotional state had hannful physical effects, producing a general-
ized muscular rigidity that impeded every n1oveinent. In thne, this
lack of n1oven1ent resulted in an atrophy of the tensed n1usculature.
For instance, she \vas hardly able to raise her arn1s; she could raise
her left ann only \Vith the help of her right. She could not raise her
legs at all, and \Vas barely able to bend her knees. The head \Vas
held rigid, as if locked by the tension of the deep neck n1usctilature.
Passive 1novernent of the head rnet \Vith automatic resistance. The
patient was clearly afraid that her neck "n1ight break." Every physi-
cian she had consu]ted had ilnpressed upon her the need to guard
against rapid n1oven1ents since the fifth cervical vertebra \vas
248 \V I L H E L J\I R E I C H

On one of the follo\ving days, I found the patient in very poor

condition. Although she had a strong urge to defecate, she had not
gone to the toilet for several days, in order to avoid having to leave
her bed. As ahvays, ho\vcvcr, \vhen she \vas n1ade to breathe
deeply, her ''pain" vanished and she \Vas able to get up. Her subse-
quent bo\vel n1oveinent \Vas copious and \Vithout difficulty.
I told her brother that I \vanted to try to treat her for t\VO
\Veeks \vith psychiatric orgone therapy, but that I \Vould have to
stop if there \vere no results. She n1oved nearby and during the next
fe\v \veeks I \Vorked \Vith her every day for roughly two hours
( \Vithout honorariun1). During this treatinent, the phobic back-
ground of her biopathic condition revealed itself.

The characterological expression of the shrinking biopathy

Six n1onths after her collapse in n1y laboratory, a flaccid paraly-
sis of the rech1n1 and the bladder appeared. N O\V the n1ost impor-
tant deter1nination to be made \vas \vhether the manifestations of
paralysis \vere traceable to a localized 1nechanical lesion or, as I
sur1niscd, to a functional shrinking of the autonomic system. In the
first instance, an en1otional basis \vould be absent; the disturbance
\Vould be sharply localized and \vould point to a specic focal
lesion. In the second, ho\vever, one \vould expect emotional and
characterological disturbances to be paramount and the manifesta-
tions of paralysis to be inconstant.
As again and again I pointed out her fear of imn1inent pain, the
patient \Vas able to n1ove around in bed independently and totally
free of pain. Ho\vever, before she could acco1nplish this n1oven1ent,
she al\vays had to iinprovc her breathing and relax the spasn1s in
her ja\V muscles. As she expressed it, she ahvays had first to rid
herself of her "fear of tnoving.'' This \vould have been iinpossible in
the case of a n1echanicallesion of the t\velfth dorsal segment.
The effort to lie on her side or her sto1nach left her in a state of
apparent exhaustion. Together \Ve tried to trace the cause of this
exhaustion, finding it finally in an extraordinarily severe tension of
the deep and surface n1usculature of the neck. The patient's head
The Discovery of the Orgone 249

had the appearance of being pulled do\vn into the thorax. It \vas the
same position involuntarily asstnned by a person defending hin1self
against a blo\v on the head. This attitude \Vas cornpletely automatic.
The patient could not consciously relax it. When the rnusculature of
her neck contracted, respiration ceased and she n1ade rattling
sounds as if through a constricted throat, similar to the rattle that
occurs in dying or in severe shock. To relieve the spasn1, I had her
stick two fingers deep into her throat. She reacted to this immedi-
ately with severe choking and reflex gagging. The reaction \Vas so
violent that she became blue in the face. After a while, she felt
''much freer in the throat."
In connection with these throat reflexes, she told me spontane-
ously of her anxiety drean1s. Every night, she dreamed, \vith extren1e
anxiety, of falling into an abyss, of sinking to the ground, of
choking, of being annihilated by so1nething falling on her. Falling
dreams of this kind are familiar to the or gone therapist. They
appear in a typical manner in the concluding phases of character-
analytical treatn1ent, during the period \vhen preorgastic sensations
begin to en1erge in the a bdo1nen and genitals and are suppressed
before they become conscious. These sensations, when charged \vith
anxiety, are experienced as falling. The follo,ving n1echanism is at
Preorgastic excitation is the onset of an involuntary convulsion
of the plasnza system.. If this convulsion is feared, then in the midst
of the expansion that should end in the convuLsion, the organis1n
develops a counteracting contraction, i.e., an inhibition of the
expansion. The resulting sensation is sin1ilar to the feeling experi-
enced in a rapidly descending elevator or in an airplane dropping
suddenly. The falling sensation is, thus, the perception of a contrac-
tion of the autonomic systen~ just as it is about to expand. The
typical falling drean1s are often acco1npanied by a sudden contrac-
tion of the entire body.
The significance of these considerations for the case of our
patient is as follows. Her usual reaction to vagic expansion excita-
tions of the organism consisted in spastic contractions; her organisn1
locked itself into n1uscular spasn1s in the throat and the diaphragm,
250 \V I L H E L ~.I R E I C H

as though trying son1eho\v to "hang on." Fear of the convulsions

diminished considerably \Vhcn I succeeded in eliminating the
spasn1s by eliciting the gag reflex. The n1overnents she then accom-
plished in bed no longer ended in spasms but in a feeling of well-
being; she began to enjoy n1oving.
Every plasrnatic current originates in a central tension contrac-
tion, \vhich dissolves into a vagic expansion;H this vagic expansion is
connected \vith the sensation of pleasure. In the case of orgastic
pleasure anxiety, it results h1 rnuscular spasrns. It is no\v clear that
the patient \Vas suffering fron1 a spastic reaction to vagic expansion,
as a consequence of orgasn1 anxiety. Biopathic shrinking thus begins
tvith a spastic restriction of plasnuztic pulsation. It is differentiated
frorn sitnple syn1patheticotonic stasis neurosis in that the in1pulses
to stretch out, i.e., to expand, cease gradually, \vhereas in stasis
neurosis they retain their intensity. It is not possible, however, to
dra\v a sharp distinction.
This rnechanisn1 of spastic reaction of the musculature to vago-
tonic expansion ilnpulses, functioned differently in each muscle
systen1. For instance, whenever I tried to move the patient's arms,
she al\vays reacted with a contraction of the shoulder n1uscles and
the flexors of the anns. The reaction resernbled the muscular nega-
tivisn1 and rigidity of catatonics. The patient gave the iinpression
that she had a flaccid paralysis of the arms. When I asked her to hit
1ny arn1, she \Vas at first unable to do so; but when I suggested that
she in1agine she was venting her rage, she was able, after only five
n1iuutes, to overcon1e her paralysis and strike out freely. After a
\Vhile, the rnovement and the action felt pleasurable. The paralysis
scernecl considerably reduced. It \Vas therefore possible for her to
overcon1e temporarily her fear of expansion and plasmatic pulsa-
tion. This regularly irnproved her gcnera.I condition.
The san1e process could be observed \vhen I sat her up in bed.
Her first reaction \Vas al\vays fear; she gasped for breath, paled, and
repeated several tirncs, in great anxiety, "You shouldn't have done
that." Ho\vever~ after I had gone through the procedure several
This phenon1enon in the ~unoeba litnax can he directly observed micro-
scopically at a 1nagnification of 2000x.
The Discocery of the Orgone 251

times until the patient had becorne convinced that nothing \Vould
happen to her, she \Vas able to sit up by herself. She \vas astonished
and told me, "It's a n1iracle I've been able to do that."
Thereafter, I had the patient repeatedly elicit the gag reflex,
bite the pillo\v, hit my arn1, in order to release clonic contractions in
the shoulder and throat rnusculature. Experience had taught me
that biological energy can be released from tonically contracted
muscles only in the forrn of clonisn1s. This finding \vas again con-
firmed in the patient. After about half an hour of voluntary move-
ments, involuntary contractions began in the arm and shoulder
n1uscles. The patient's legs also started to trernble involuntarily.
Gentle bending and straightening of the legs regularly intensified
this trembling.
The first titne the clonic contractions occurred, the patient was
very frightened. She did not kno\v \vhat \Vas happening to her. It
\Vas the san1e fear of the involuntary clonisn1s of her musculature
that she had avoided by her tonic contractions. But, after a few
minutes, the clonic n1oven1ents felt pleasurable to her. Gradually,
the deep throat n1usculature \Vas dra\vn into the clonus and the
patient \vas afraid she \vould have to vomit. At one point she
seemed on the verge of fainting. I urged her not to resist the involun-
tary contractions, to give in to them. After a time, they becarne less
violent: the dammed-up biological energy had been discharged. She
sank back exhausted, her face Rushed, her breathing calm, deep,
and full. The gag reflex could not be elicited any more and she told
n1e, "My throat is strangely free, as if a pressure had been re-
n1oved." The pressure in her chest \Vas also gone.
The next day her respiration \Vas norn1al and I attempted to
relieve the paralysis in the legs by inducing a clonus in the muscula-
ture of the legs. I succeeded to a certain extent by n1oving her legs,
\Vhich \vere bent at the knees, slo\vly apart, then together again. I
had not forewarned the patient about the preorgastic sensations in
the genitals that usually appear \vhen the contractions in the leg
musculahtre are relaxed. All at once, the patient inhibited her
breathing, locked her ja\v, paled, and assumed an expression in her
face that I can only describe \Vith one \Vord: "dying." The reaction

\Vas so violent that it frightened me. But since I had moved the legs
quite slo\vly, there could be no question of any harm having been
done. The patient expelled sounds sin1ilar to those caused by severe
pains in the chest; they \Vere a 1nixh1re of groaning and rattling.
Fron1 n1y clinical experiences, I kne\v that all this \Vas the patient's
reaction to plasmatic currents in the genitals. Vegetotherapy has
taught us that under the pressure of orgastn anxiety, orgastic sensa-
tions rrwnifest thenzseloes as a fear of dying-"dying" in the sense of
total disintegration, dissolving, losing consciousness, "not being."
The patient groaned loudly, became pale and blue, rolled her
eyes, and seen1ed in a state of utter exhaustion. I had not witnessed
the neurotic attitude of dying so realistically expressed. In spite of
having \Vorked for t\venty years on orgas1n dysfunctions, I had still
undercstitnated the deep significance of disturbances of the func-
tion of biological pulsation. To be sure, I had always rnaintained
that the orgasn1 is a function basic to all living activity and that "the
orgasn1 fortnula is identical \Vith the life formula per se." But I had
never before seen an organisrn ''die" so realistically as a conse-
quence of orgasn1 anxiety. I told her relatives that the patient might
not live n1ore than another fe\v davs. It \Vas clear to me that the

shrinking of her life apparatus could lead to actual death. Had the
patient not been dying at the tin1e she can1e to me seven months
before, I \vould have stopped the treah11ent in such a situation. In
this case, ho\vever, there \Vas nothing to lose by continuing, and
much insight to be gained about the nature of the shrinking
The follo\ving day, I received a telephone call from the rela-
tives: the patient \vas in fact dying; her respiration \vas poor, there
\Vas a severe rattle in the throat, and she \Vas unable to defecate. I
\Vent to her at once. At first glance, she seen1ed actually on the point
of death. Her face had a blue color and \vas sunken; rattling sounds
can1e fron1 her throat, and there \vas a forlorn look in her eyes as
she \vhispercd to n1e, ''This is the beginning of the end." Her pulse
\vas rapid but strong.
In the space of fifteen n1inutes I \vas able to establish good
contact \Vith the patient. I asked \vhcther, before she had become ill
The Discovery of the Orgone 253

and developed tun1ors, she could ren1en1bcr ever having felt she
\vas going to die. She told me, \vithout any resistance, that as a child
she had often rolled up her eyes and played ''dying." The groaning
and rattling sounds \Vere also fa1niliar to her fron1 childhood. She
had been in the habit of n1aking then1 \Vhenever she felt a constric-
tion in her throat or, as she put it, \vhen she felt "son1ething tighten-
ing in her throat." The appearance of one of the cancer 1netastases
at the fifth cervical vertebra I notv knetv tvas attributable to a
decades-old spas1n of the deep throat rnusculature. The patient
went on to report that the constricted sensation in the throat \Vas
accompanied by a dra\ving in of the shoulders and a tightening
"between the shoulder blades" at precisely the same spot where the
pain later started.
Now that the patient \vas talking to n1e in a con1pletely \vide-
a,vake and lively 1nanner, I had her "play dying.>' It took her only a
fe\v seconds to reproduce consciously the very "condition" that so
recently had over\vheln1cd her involuntarily. She rolled her eyes
upward, closing the lids except for a s1nall slit that left just a sliver
of \vhite visible, clan1ped her chest into the inspiratory position, and
started to utter groaning and rattling sounds. It \vas by no means
easy to bring her out of this dying pose; but the more frequently she
adopted it consciously, the easier it becan1e for her to come out of
it. This \vas con1pletely in accord \Vith my experiences in orgone
therapy: an autonomic function can be objectivized by practice and
in the end he ntade subject to conscious control.
I asked the patient \vhether she believed she \Vas unconsciously
atten1pting to con1mit suicide. The patient broke into tears and
declared that she no longer felt any reason for living. Her illness
had destroyed her sexual charms; she \vould never again be happy,
and she could not in1agine living \Vithout happiness.
I had the patient elicit the gag reflex. The clonic trembling in
the upper extren1ities and the throat musculature in1n1ediately set
in, though not so strongly as on the day before. She even succeeded
in sitting up in bed \Vithout help, but as she did so, her legs gave
out. My impression was that the upper part of her body \Vas func-
tioning, \Vhereas the Io,ver part, fron1 the hips do\vn, \vas not.
254 \V I L H E L :\I R E I C H

For a fe\v days the patient enjoyed a hearty appetite, felt \Vell,
and \Vas cheerful. T'hen, suddenly, she relapsed into the dying atti-
tude. It \Yas clear to 1ne that she \vas not acting but had been
con1pletcly overcon1e hy her O\Vn hiopathic reaction. I-Ier breathing
\Vas labored and shallcnv, she becan1e \Veak and pale, her nostrils
\Yere pinched, her cheeks sunken, and her throat rattled severely. I
did not understand \vhy her relapse had occurred at precisely this
n1o1nent. She con1plained of cxtren1ely violent pains and was unable
to 1nove at all. Once again I succeeded in restoring nor1nal respira-
tion, and she fought bravely. \ iolent clonisn1s appeared in her neck
and trunk, but the lo\ver extrernities ren1ained ''dead." I had the
patient stick ht~r fingers do,vn her throat once more; the reaction
\Vas intensification of the spasn1s.
I noticed that the pelvis began to be included in the spas1ns,
but the patient clearly held back. The spasn1s lasted approxhnately
ten n1inutes, then subsided. Previously, she had given the impres-
sion that she \Vas suffocating; this tin1e, distinct vagotonic reactions
,,ere noticeable. The patient's face flushed, the pallor of her skin
disappeared. The pains caused by the diaphragn1atic spasm sub-
sided. After a \Vhilc, the patient began to talk. She \Vas afraid that
sornething could '"happen" to her "do,vn there." She told 1ne that up
to the tin1e \Vhcn she entered into treatinent \vith n1e she had occa-
sionally 1nasturbated. This staten1ent \Vas an extremely belated
qualification of her original contention that she had lived in total
abstinence for the past decade. \Vithin the first \Veek of the orgone
tr('atlnent, she had suppressed in1pulscs to masturbate in response
to fantasies of having sexual intercourse with n1e. Since that time,
she had not dared to touch her genitals. The inhibition of rnasturba-
tion, together \vith the fantasy, had resulted in a stasis of excitation
\Vhich \Vas intensified by the biological charge received in the
orgone accun1ulator. The increase of her sexual needs intensified her
fears. In this \\'ay, the phobia that her spine n1ight break developed.
Straining her shoulder n1uscle by suddenly bending over seemed
c )nly to confirn1 her fear, as though she \vcrc saying to herself, "Sec,
I said it \vould happen."
The daY after she had told Inc about her 1nasturbation fan-
The Discocery of the Orgone 255

tasies, I found her in good spirits, free of complaints, and full of

hope. Her confessions to 1ne of the previous day had enabled her to
masturbate again for the first titne in several rnonths. She clain1ed to
have experienced great satisfaction. On this particular day, she \Vas
able to control the diaphrag1natic spasm very easily. She \Vas consti-
pated but had the urge to defecate; ho\vever, her fear of n1ove1nent
prevented her fro1n n1aking the trip to the bathroon1. Turning over
in bed had bccon1e n1uch easier for her. She even succeeded in
sitting upright in bed \Vithout any help, an achieve1nent that
amazed and pleased her. And for the first tin1e she \vas conscious of
the chain of causes: fear of spinal fracture ~ inordinate fear of pain
~ inhibition of respiration by diaphragn1atic block~ actual pain in
the chest ~ fear of spinal fracture. But this tin1e the inhibition of
n1oven1ent by the fear of pain did not occur so quickly. The fear
only appeared \vhen the n1oven1ent required great effort. The con-
nection bet\veen her fear of spinal fracture and her fear of tnoving
no\v beca1ne understandable.
The follo\ving day the patient \vas again breathing poorly,
complaining, groaning, and displaying the dying attitude. She was
unable to say \vhat had happened. Iier relatives told n1e that she
had felt \vell until late in the evening, \vhen her condition deterio-
rated rapidly after the follo,ving occurrence. Her boy \vas in the
bathroon1 next to her roon1. She heard a noise and beca1ne very
frightened. Suddenly she had the idea that her son \Vas closed into a
very sn1all space, could not breathe, and \vas going to suffocate.
During the night she slept very little and suffered fron1 severe
anxiety dreams, son1e of then1 concerned \Vith falling. There \vas
nothing I could do for her on this particular day except correct her
respiration once again, \vhich did have the effect of reducing her
co1nplaints about her "'pains."
Subsequently, the patient improved considerably. She \vas able
to n1ove around in bed \Vithout pain, and to lift her legs. The
weakness in her arn1s had subsided, her appetite \Vas good, and she
\vas optilnistic. Then, during one of 1ny visits, a n1oven1ent she
made happened to bring her near the edge of the bed. She paled,
gasped, and then screa1ned. She \vas afraid of falling out of bed.

Her reaction was unquestionably excessive and did not correspond

to the reality of the situation. She now told me quite spontaneously
that, while in the hospital during the sumn1cr, she had asked to have
beds placed on either side of her bed because of her fear of falling
out of it. I lifted her to\vard the edge of the bed. Even though I was
holding her firmly, she still cried out in fright. Her fear of falling,
which \Vas at the root of her fear of n1oving, was no\v obvious.
The next day, I sat her up in bed. She felt no pains but \Vas
mortally afraid and broke into a sweat and a hysterical fit of crying.
She had to die now, she proclain1ed. She had kept up the fight
against dying for a long tiine, but now she would certainly die. She
cried for her child. She asked me to give her a fatal injection to put
her out of her misery. "I don't want to leave this bed, I want to
remain lying here.'' After a \vhile, she calmed do\vn and realized, to
her astonishn1ent, that she \Vas able to sit up \Vithout any effort.
Gradually, however, violent clonic spasn1s set in throughout her
whole body; they were especially severe in the shoulders. She was
deathly afraid of these spasn1s and, therefore, would not get out of
bed. Each tin1e she was forced to sit up, she felt the clonisms setting
in. Her fear of falling had subsided, but the connection was clear.
The intense clonic convulsions of her n1usculature formed the
physiological basis of her neurotic fear of falling. As I have men-
tioned, the patient regularly suffered from nightmares; she fell into
cavernous depths, heavy objects ttnnbled do\vn upon her, and n1en
attacked her and \Vanted to choke her. She now remembered having
suffered fron1 exactly the san1e kind of anxiety for a long time
during adolescence. She also remembered a phobia: whenever she
\Vas \Valking along a sheet and heard footsteps behind her, she used
to run, for fear that "someone was after her." Usually, her fear was
so strong that "her legs failed her," and she had the constant feeling
that she \vas about to collapse. She no\v recognized in this the
identical physical sensation that overcan1e her whenever she had to
sit herself up in bed. Her legs \vould fail and she would feel on the
verge of collapse. With it~ she would experience a spasm of the
diaphrag1n and becon1e afraid that she was about to die.
It is thus clear that the motor weakness of the legs was caused
The Discovery of the Orgone 257

by a phobia that had do1ninated her since adolescence, long before

the cancer appeared. The paresis she no\v developed \vas nothing
other than the intensification of the old \veakness in the legs \vhich
was associated \Vith her falling phobia. By this tilne she \Vas able to
associate this fear of falling \Vith the idea of fracturing her spine.
The previous day she had had to go to the bathroon1 re-
peatedly. The n1ove1nents of her intestines and bladder \Vere "ex-
traordinarily vigorous." That night she had been restless. Then,
during the late n1orning, she \vas unable to urinate. Her legs were
without sensation. I exarnined her and found sensitivity to pinpricks
reduced up to about the tenth dorsal segn1ent. The patellar, Achil-
les, and abdo1ninal reflexes were all normal. Over the telephone
I had been told that she \vas unable to n1ove her legs. It turned out,
ho\vever, that she could in fact n1ove her legs, although their move-
ment was restricted. Deep sensitivity in the toe joints was reduced.
The picture \Vas that of a functional paresis. Fron1 the syrnpton1s, it
was not possible to diagnose either spastic or flaccid paralysis.
There was just one basis for conjecture that the lesion at the t\velfth
vertebra was playing son1e part: the sensory disturbance in the
upper abdomen had a relatively sharp upper line of demarcation.
On the next day the patient \Vas able to urinate, but three days
later the anal sphincter \Veakened and she could no longer control
her bo\vels. Her reflexes \vere all nor1nal, but she again becan1e
extremely fearful of sitting up in bed.
She \Vas once more adn1itted to a hospital for a general exan1i-
nation. The X-rays shou:ed the sp-ine, pelvis, and upper th-ighs to be
free of Jnetastases, but ne\v 1netastases had appeared in the craniun1
and in the right hun1erus. The ne\v tumors had therefore appeared
at a considerable distance fron1 the regions of the body that sho\ved
evidence of paresis. The functional biopathy and carcinon1atous
growth \vere separated fron1 each other; they had nothing to do
with each other.
The patient was in the hospital for fourteen days. She \vas not
given a neurological exarnination. The paresis of the legs was
presumably regarded as a logical consequence of the mechanical
vertebral lesions. The functional character of the paralysis escaped
258 \V I L H E L !vi R E I C H

the attention of the physicians, \vho inforn1ed the relatives that the
patient at n1ost had t\VO weeks to live.
The relatives took the patient horne again, since she \vas receiv-
ing nothing at the hospital except n1orphine injections. I saw the
patient on the day she returned. In a decidedly apprehensive
n1anner, she en1phasized that she \vould have to be especially care-
ful in her n1ove1nents since the physicians in the hospital had
impressed upon her that "her spinal colutnn \vas pressing on a nerve
and n1ight break." This \Yarning fron1 the hospital physicians natu-
rally confirrned and strengthened the patient's phobia. Her relatives
\Vanted n1c to undertake a nc\v expcrhnent \Vith the orgone radia-
tion in order to elin1inate the tutnors in the cranium. But on that
particular day I \vas unable to feel any s\vellings on the craniun1.
I continued to see the patient at her hotne for another four
\Vecks. ller leg reflexes tcere entirely nor1nal, and bowel and blad-
der functions tvere again in order.
Ilo\ve,cr, the atrophy of the musculature and the bones pro-
gressed rapidly. In addition, she had developed a putrid bedsore on
the buttocks. 'I'hc legs 1novcd in response to painful stimuli, but
seldon1 spontaneously. Her nighhnares continued: men threw them-
selves into deep ravines and broke their necks; an elephant charged
at her while she re1nained "as if paralyzed," unable to move. During
the day, there \vas a look of terror in her eyes. She said her chest felt
constricted. The pain had disappeared cornpletely, but the fear of
tnoving and of spinal fracture \Vas as strong as ever.
vVe had a special accun1ulator built for her bed. The effect of
the orgone \Vas n1anifestcd in reddening of the skin and reduction
of the pulse rate fron1 130 to bet\veen 90 and 84. While in the
orgone acctunulator, she had a feeling of \Veil-being, often devel-
oped rosy checks, and \Vas free of anxiety.
The blood picture, \vhich had deteriorated over the past
months (.50% T on D.utoclavation), in1proved den1onstrably, and
spontaneous in1pulscs to move her legs also increased in frequency
and intensity. Then an unforeseen catastrophe occurred which
sealed the fate of the patient. One evening, turning over in bed, she
fractured her left fen1ur. She had to be taken in1mediately to a
The Discocery of the Orgone 259

hospital, \vhere the doctors \Verc astonished at the thinness of the

femur. The absence of a ttunor in the region of the fracture and the
disappearance of the breast ttunor \verc incomprehensible to then1.
The patient received n1orphine, deteriorated during the follo\ving
four \Veeks, and finally died.
The orgone therapy had prolonged her life for approxilnately
ten 1nonths, had kept her free fron1 tun1ors and pains for n1onths,
and had restored her blood function to nor1nal. The interruption of
the orgonc treahnent by the biopathic paralysis elin1inated the pos-
sibility of a favorable outco1ne in the case. It is certain, however,
that the cause of death \Vas the biopathic shrinking, and not the
local hunors.
This case provided us \vith in1portant insights into the v~egeta
tive-emotional background of cancer. The in1portant question that
confronts us no\v is: tchat happens in the tissues and the blood as a
consequence of biopathic shrinking? In other words, in what way
does the general shrinking of the autono1nic syste1n produce the
local grotvth? I venture to anticipate: The general consequence of
biopathic shrinking is putrefaction of the tissues and the blood. The
grotvth of cancer tu1nors is only one of its symptoms. This finding
needs detailed clinical and cxperiinental docu1nentation, \vhich \vill
be provided else\vhere.


Let us no\v revie\v our findings. The "dying" of the patient in

the biopathic attack did not convey the slightest in1pression of
hysteria or sin1ulation. The autonomic system reacted in such a way
that death could in fact easily have followed: the sunken cheeks,
pinched nostrils, the rattling sounds, the cyanotic coloration of the
skin, the accelerated feeble pulse, the spas1n of the throat n1uscula-
ture, the marked lin1itation in n1oveinent, and the general physical
\veakness \vere dangerous realities.
I \vould hazard the opinion that every one of these attacks
represented the beginning of a real cessation of the vital functions.

The act of dying, set in n1otion by extreme intensification of the

shrinking of the life apparatus, could be interrupted again and
again by dissolution of the spasms and correction of the respiratory-
diaphragrnatic block. The vagotonic expansion counteracted the
dying process. This counteraction could not have been a matter of
suggestion. Suggestion, in the usual sense, could not affect the
biological apparatus at such a deep level. However, the release of
biological expansion irnpulses in various body systems did arrest the
shrinking process repeatedly for n1onths. Good emotional contact
with the patient \Vas also, of course, an indispensable part of the
orgonc-thcrapcutic process; only in this respect rnight suggestion be
said to have played a role.
Let us use our farniliar schen1a of psychosomatic functioning to
clarify \vhich part of the vital apparatus is affected by the biopathy
-in contrast to anxiety neurosis or a n1echanical lesion-and by the
orgone-therapeutic experin1ent.

Mechanical lesion Neurosis
Chemica 1-physica I Psychotherapy

Orgone therapy

Every prolonged energy stasis in the biological plasma systetn

( autonotnic systen1, a) inevitably n1anifests itself in somatic as well
as psychic syrnpton1s ( b1 and b.!). Psychotherapy is directed at
the psychic syrnptoms, chetnica1-physical therapy at the somatic
The Discovery of the Orgone 261

sy1npto1ns. Orgone therapy proceeds from the fact that soma and
psyche arc both rooted bio-cnergetically in the pulsating plasn1a
systen1 (blood and autono1nic systen1). Thus orgone therapy influ-
ences not the psychophysical function itself but rather the con1n1on
root of psychic and sornatic functions. It acco1nplishes this by reliev-
ing the respiratory block, the inhibition of the orgasn1 reflex, and
other inhibitions of biological functioning. Orgone therapy is, there-
fore, neither a psychic nor a physiological-che1nical therapy but
rather a biological therapy dealing tvith disturbances of pulsation in
the autono1nic syste1n. Since these disturbances reveal themselves in
the superficial layer of the psychoson1atic apparatus, e.g., as hyper-
tension and cardiac neurosis in the so1natic realn1 and as phobia in
the psychic reahn, orgone therapy necessarily affects the sympton1s
arising fron1 the superficial biological layers. Therefore, \Ve can
clahn orgone therapy to be the n1ost advanced n1ethod for the
influencing of biopathic disturbances. At present, it remains lin1ited
to biopathies. In the carcinon1atous biopathy, treahnent of the
respiration and orgasn1 disturbances is combined with physical
orgone therapy, which is directed against anenlias, T-bacilli in the
blood, and local tun1ors. We, in the laboratory of our institute, are
fully conscious of the con1plcxity and of the still predo1ninantly
experimental nature of this ne\v cancer therapy.
The prevailing vie\v kno\vs only the antithesis of mechanical-
chenlical lesions of the somatic syste1n and functional disturbances
of the psychic system. The orgone-biophysical investigation of the
carcinomatous shrinking biopathy reveals a third, deeper factor: tlze
disturbance of plasrru1tic pulsation operating at the comnton bio-
logical basis of son1a and psyche. What is basically ne\V here is the
fact, experiinentally established, that an inhibition of the autonomic
sexual function can induce a biopathic shrinking of the autonom-ic
nervous system. What remains problematic is the question \Vhether
this etiology is valid for all fonns of cancer.
There is a tendency to accept the misconception that the orga-
nism is divided into hvo independent parts: the son1atic, physical-
chemical systern, \vhich is destroyed by cancer tumors and cachexia;
and the psychic, \Vhich produces hysterical phenon1e1Hl (the so-

called conversion syn1pton1s) and "wants'' or "fears" this or that, but

has nothing to do \vith cancer. This artificial cleavage of the orga-
nism is deceiving. The notion that a psychic apparatus "makes use
of somatic phcnon1ena" is incorrect, and it is equally incorrect to
think that the son1atic apparatus responds only to chen1ical and
physical reactions but neither '\vants" nor "fears." In reality, the
expansion and contraction functions of the autono1nic plasma sys-
tent represent the unitary apparatus responsible for "tvishes" and
''fearl' in the psyche and "life'' and "death" in the soma. Our patient
clearly sho\ved the functional unity of psychic resignation and
biopathic shrinking. The life process in the patient gradually de-
clined; the expansion function failed. Expressed in psychological
terms, tnovement, action, resolve, and struggle were devoid of
in1pulse. The vital apparatus was locked in an anxiety reaction that
manifested itself psychically in the patient's fixed idea that move-
ment could cause son1ething in her body to break. Moven1ent,
action, pleasure, and expansion now seen1ed dangerous to life. The
characterological resignation preceded the shrinking of the vital
The 1notility of the biological plasnuz system is itself da1naged
by the biopathic shrinking. The real basis of the fear of movement is
to be found precisely in this vegetative shrinking. The plasn1a
system contracts, and the organisn1 loses its autonomic stability and
the self-regulation of its locotnotor function. The final stage of the
process is a gradual \vasting a\vay of the body substance.
The inhibition of plasn1a tnotility, by the process of shrinking,
satisfactorily accounts for all aspects of the disease picture. It ex-
plains neurotic anxiety as \veil as functional paralysis, the faiiing
anxiety as \Veil as the atrophy of the muscles, the spasn1s as well as
the biological disturbance that breaks through as the "cancer" and
ends in general cachexia. I \Vas repeatedly able to help the patient
develop ne\v living impulses by correcting the diaphragn1atic
spastn, \vhich is central to the biopathic disturbance of motility, to
the defense against sexuality, and, indeed, to the defense against
the expansive life function. The respiration of the patient \vas
The Discovery of the Orgone 263

actually poor; the ventilation of the tissues was in fact insufficient;

the plasmatic locon1otor iinpulses in the lin1bs were, in fact, insuffi-
cient for coordinated n1oven1ent; her fear of falling and of ensuing
injury had a basis in fact and was not merely neurotic fantasy;
indeed, her "fantasy" of a disaster caused by falling had a very real
basis in the restriction of biological motility. The hysterical, func-
tional character of the paralysis acquired a real, biopathological
basis. Only differences of degree separate paralysis of motility and
paralysis caused by biopathic shrinking.
In medical circles, functional paralyses tend to be regarded
somewhat skeptically. The predon1inant vie\v, even today, is that a
functional paralysis tnust be tnore or less "simulated." My conten-
tion is that functional disturbances of motility attributable to bio-
pathic disturbances of the plastnatic pulsation are much more
serious, and can affect \Vider areas, than a paralysis resulting from a
mechanical segn1ental lesion. Biological functioning of the total
organisn1 is not impaired by a local n1echanical lesion. But a func-
tional paralysis is a 1nanifestation of a total biological disturbance.
The function of plasnwtic irnpulse fornwtion in the biological core
of the organism is itself disturbed and may cause an extensive loss
of substance in the tissues (muscular atrophy, general cachexia,
anemia, etc.). It is not relevant to argue that a tnechanical distur-
bance cannot be influenced by suggestion, \vhereas the functional
disturbance can. The "suggestion" capable of bringing about an
in1provement of functional paralysis is, in reality, a pleasure stimu-
lus for the biological plasma system impelling it toward new living
possibilities and rene\ved biological functioning.
The fundatnental disturbance in the functioning of the body
plasma, represented and caused by chronic sexual stasis, by charac-
ter rigidity and resignation, and by chronic sympatheticotonia,
should be taken n1uch more serious} y than local mechanical lesions.
The functional standpoint n1ust partially supplement and partly pre-
vail over the tnechanistic and purely materialistic viewpoints of
medicine today. It \vas this functional perspective which opened a
breach in the \vall that had kept the cancer pro bletn inaccessible. In

the follo\ving discussion, it \viii be sho\vn ho\v far this 1s In fact

already practicable. vV e now turn our attention to the changes in
the blood and tissues that are brought about by biopathic shrinking.





In the foregoing, I tried to sho\v that the local tumor is not

itself the cancer. Behind the tutnor, a shrinking of the autonomic
syste1n is actually taking place. In the cancer patient \vhose illness I
described, the local cancer tun1ors \vere eliininated by orgone
therapy, but she then perished because of a deep-seated sexual
disturbance that caused the continued shrinking of the vital appa-
ratus. By chance, I encountered a second case that confirmed and
amplified the conclusions I had drawn from the first case. Like the
first one, this case clearly reveals the social and sexual background
of the shrinking biopathy. At the san1c tilne, it demonstrates the po-
tential use of orgone therapy for the treatJnent of the cancer biopathy.
The responsibility that the sex-econon1ist and psychiatrist must face
in the struggle against the sexual biopathies is in1measurable. There
is no way to accutnulate insights into the nature of biopathies except
bit by bit through the study of many cases. One case \viii raise
questions that the next case \viii ans\ver, though not without intro-
ducing new questions. These questions are evident only to the
psychiatrist whose orientation is sex-economic. For the mechanistic
pathologist they rernain unasked.
A sex-econon1ist who \Vas a distinguished colleague at the Insti-
tute had succeeded in a fe\v n1onths in effecting a remarkable
change in the condition of a won1an suffering fron1 a severe charac-
ter neurosis. One of th~ wotnan's acquaintances noticed the change.
She, in turn, knc\v of a thirty-year-old woman \Vho, for two years,
had appeared to be succtnnbing to a n1alady that no physician was
able to explain. That is how the patient happened to come to 1ny
The Discor;ery of the Orgone 265

My in11nediate, superficial in1prcssion of the patient vvas that

her face called to n1ind a death 111ask. The skin of her face was pale
and some\vhat bluish. I-Icr cheeks \vere sunken, so that the ja\v-
bones protruded sharply. Her eyes looked tired and veiled, hope-
less. Her mouth \Vas drawn down at the corners, expressing deep
resignation and depression. Her body \Vas thin; ribs and vertebrae
were abnormally protniuent. The n1usculature in the entire body
was so thin that an atrophic process could hardly be doubted. Her
moven1ents were lethargic, sorne\vhat shuffiing. The patient spoke
slowly, as if with great effort, and \Vithout changes in facial expres-
sion. It see1ned that all activity \Vas arrested and that there \vas
insufficient energy behind the impulses. The pelvic bones \vere
extren1ely pron1inent. Feet and hands \Vere clan1rny, cold, and pale.
Her voice was n1onotonous and feeble. The patient seemed to \Vant
to make contact \Vith n1e but \Vas unable to do so.
She weighed 90 pounds, having lost ten pounds in the last four
weeks. Tvvo years before, she had vveighed 120 pounds. Fro1n the
age of five on, she grew rapidly and became thin; since then, she
had always been under\veight for her age. As a child, she had had
measles and whooping cough. She frequently suff-ered from colds,
and had undergone a tonsillectorny. :Nienstruation h~d begun at the
age of fourteen and was regular every four \Veeks. However, it
al\vays lasted a \veek or n1orc and \Vas extren1ely painful.
Five years before, she had consulted a psychiatrist in an effort
to deal with her sexual difficulties. Ever since puberty, she had been
convinced that she \vas not in order sexually. She often had to stay
out of school, to ''build up her health," as she put it. On closer
questioning, she admitted that she had often felt tired and weak
and had been unable to keep up \vith the school,vork. Even the
simplest tasks represented major undertakings to her. She suffered
fron1 severe depressions and felt totally unable to cope with life.
Gradually her resignation turned into complete inactivity.
Her mother had undergone a total hysterectomy for cancer, but
died later from n1etastases to the bones. The patient described her
mother as a very quiet person, devoted to her children. She had
died as uncomplainingly as she had lived.
266 \VI L HE L ~1 REICH

The patient's education in sexual matters had been very strict

and ascetic. She had never experienced sexual intercourse. She had
rarely been permitted to attend dances. For a tin1e, during puberty,
the desire for con1panionship \Vith men had stirred in her, but her
atte1npts failed. Her strict religious fa1nily tolerated no situation
that could have becon1e ''dangerous." She failed miserably in her
atte1npts to break through these external inhibitions and realized
that she had becon1e inu:ardly incapable of an intimate friendship
\Vith a 1nan. This condition had taken hold of her during late
puberty and persisted until the present time. It \Vas a n1ajor con-
tributory clement in her depressions and her secluded \vay of life.
She \Vas pretty, but n1en nevertheless seemed to shy a\vay from her.
Several tiines, a friendship had begun to develop. But it al\vays
failed because at the n1ere thought of physical intimacy a spasm of
the genitals \vould inevitably set in. In time, fear of these painful
spasn1s developed and she avoided every occasion that might lead
to sexual involvement. Though a\vare that her behavior \Vas patho-
logical, she did not know what to do about it. She \Vas afraid of
asking doctors for advice or consulting \Vith friends about her prob-
lem. In short, she gave up. She had never masturbated, despite the
suffering that sexual excitation caused her, but she tended to hold
her hands over her genital at night. In contrast to other patients
suffering sin1ilarly fron1 sexual abstinence, she had a clear insight
into the nature of her disturbance. She n1ade no atte1npt to disguise
her disturbance \vith ascetic ideals; her suffering \Vas, consequently,
all the more intense. During our very first conversations, she talked
about it aln1ost uninhibitedlv.
, Here, ho\vever, I \Vould like to inter-
rupt the description of her abstinence, and return to it later.
The seriousness of the patient's condition necessitated a com-
plete physical exa1nination. The outcome \vas surprising. The
doctor \vho exa1ninecl her prescribed a diet but found no physical
disturbances. His report \Vas \Vorded as follo\vs: "This is to certify
that I have given Nliss a complete physical examination,
including blood and urine tests, and nd her to be in good health."
This finding \vas in such sharp contradiction to the iinpression I had
received of the patient that, at first, I did not understand it. As
The Discovery of the Orgone 267

noted, she had recently lost ten pounds. For hvo years she had been
incapable of \Vorking and had been lying around at hon1e, feeling
\Veak and unable to make any social contact. It is not surprising that
the physician failed to recognize a biopathy caused by abstinence,
but the loss of \veight should have n1ade a strong impression. Also,
the general appearance of the patient could not easily have been
overlooked. I reflected that the Inedical profession is trained for
mechanical and chen1ical cxan1inations only. It happens frequently,
therefore, that a severe biopathic habitus is overlooked simply
because the physician has not learned to take into consideration the
patient's bodily expression and the character of his sexual life.
The patient had a sn1all ttn110r, approximately the size of a
bean) on the outer n1argin of her right breast. I asked \vhether the
examining physician had seen it. She affinned that he had. But since
this small tumor gre\v alternately larger and Sinaller, the doctor had
diagnosed a harn1less glandular S\velling, apparently in the belief
that a malignant tun1or could not become smaller spontaneously
and \vould gro\v steadily. The sn1all tun1or had existed for about a
year without becon1ing larger. Not \vishing to alarm the patient
unnecessarily, I did not have a biopsy perforn1ed. Since the patient
wanted to undergo the experin1ent \vith orgone therapy, I could
wait to ascertain \vhether the h1mor \vould vanish after a fe\V
irradiations. Rapid disappearance \vould be an indication that the
tumor had been malignant; \vhereas, if the gro\vth took many \Veeks
or n1onths to disappear, or \vould not go away at all, or showed no
signs of gro\ving larger, then the diagnosis of a hannless glandular
S\velling \vould be correct. In addition, \Ve had our cancer tests to
confirm our findings.
The tests \Vere all positive; the diagnosis was certain to be
cancer. Exa1nination of the rate of disintegration of the erythrocytes
in physiological salt solution sho\ved bionous disintegration and T-
spike formation in about one 1ninute. The orgone margins of the
erythrocytes \Vere narro\v, \Vith only faint blue coloration. Hemo-
globin content \Vas norn1al at 80%. In the culture test, bouillon
became cloudy after t\vcnty-four hours. Inoculation on agar sho\ved
the typical gro\vth of T -bacilli, \Vhich was confim1ed by Gram stain.
268 \ V I L H E L ?\I R E I C H

Autoclavation of the blood in bouillon and KCl yielded a strong

T -reaction of the red blood corpuscles (about 60%).
These results, together \vith the biophysical condition of the
patient, n1ade the diagnosis of an advanced carcinomatous shrink-
ing biopathy aln1ost inevitable. It \Vas unilnportant \vhether or not
the small tun1or on the right breast \vas, itself, carcinomatous. :Nl y
iinpression \vas that the patient had no n1ore than a year to live.
I notified a close relative of the patient and had him confirm in
\Vriting that I had diagnosed cancer but had offered no pron1ise of a
cure. I \varned hiln that the patient 1nust be expected to die \Vithin
a very short tin1e if the cxpcriinent \Vith the orgone irradiation did
not succeed. I kne\v that no physician, on the basis of the present
disease picture, could arrive at a diagnosis of cancer. Furthermore,
even if another physician had suspected cancer because of the
patient's general condition, there \vould have been no alternative
treat1nent to orgone therapy available since there \Vcre no local
tun1ors that \vere considered to be cancerous.
The patient began daily orgone irradiations in n1y laboratory.
Later she acquired an orgone accurnulator and took two daily
irradiations in her O\Vn hon1e, one in the morning after her bath and
one in the evening before going to bed, for half an hour on each
occasion. In the first t\velvc \Veeks, this treatn1ent produced the
following results.
\Veight. After one \veek, still 90 pounds, no increase but also no
further \veight loss; after hvo \Veeks, 91 pounds; after three \Veeks,
91.75 pounds; after four \veeks, 94.25 pounds; after six \Veeks,
95.75 pounds; after t\velve \Veeks, 100 pounds. Thus, not only had
the process of shrinking been stopped, but the patient \Vas gaining
\Veight at an accelerating rate.
Grou;th of T -bacilli in blood culture. After five \veeks, bouillon,
as \Vell as the agar culture, \vas negatiue, and remained so during
the follo\ving \Veeks.
Autoclavation te.~t. After three \Vceks, no improvement; T-reac-
tion still approxin1ately 50~{. The blood bion solution did not have
the character of a pure colloid but sho\ved the blue-green discol-
oration typical in advanced cancer.
The Disco~:ery of the Orgone 269

Breast turnor. After ten days of orgone treatn1ent, the sn1all

tumor in the right breast \Vas no longer palpable. T\vo to three
weeks is the usual tin1c span needed for the elirnination of mediunl-
sized breast turnors by or gone therapy.
These findings had the greatest significance for the orgone
therapy experirnent. They sho\ved that syrnpton1s of an advanced
cancerous state can exist in the organisrn \Vithout conspicuous local
manifestations. This confirn1cd n1y earlier vie\v that cancer consists
essentially in a general shrinking of the life apparatus; the local
tumor is therefore only one of the syrnpton1s of the disease and not
the disease itself. These findings also proved that standard n1edical
training does not enable the practicing physician to diagnose cancer
prior to the appearance of conspicuous local phenon1ena. Finally,
they proved the usefulness of our laboratory's biological blood bion
tests in cases \Vhcre traditional rnethods cannot verify the diagnosis
of cancer. Even if a surgeon had suspected that the srnall turn or on
the breast \Vas cancerous and had ren1oved it surgically, the general
shrinking biopathy \VOuld have rernained untouched and the patient
\Vould have died. It is absolutelv inconceivable that this srnall

tumor, without n1etastases in the axillary glands, \Vas the cause of

the patient's poor general condition. The ttnnor was a n1uch later
developn1ent than the general shrinking condition. Thus, there is
ample justification for speaking of a "carcinornatous shrinking biop-
athy, without tun1ors." It is important to establish ho\v frequently
such cases occur. In any case, the availability of orgone therapy
greatly reduces the fear of the disease, even if many questions still
rernain unans\vcrecl. In this particular case, the orgone therapy
experiment \vas successful, and this success validates its clain1 to be
tested and developed on a \vider scale.
Before proceeding to the n1ain thcrne of this discussion-
namely, the principles of the orgone therapy experin1ent, the prob-
lem of the development of cancer cells, and the processes in the
tissues-a fe\v n1ore points about this case should be considered.
When the International journal of Sex-Econorny and Orgone-Re-
search first appeared, a physician clearly syn1pathetic to our vie\v-
point n1ade the con1n1ent that sex-econorny was certainly iinportant

and correct, but insisted, "What does it have to do with cancer?"

The discussion of cancer and orgone research would, he felt, have
the effect of impeding the acceptance of sex-economy. Astonishment
and incredulity \vcre the reactions I had from many other circles
whenever I referred to cancer as a sexual biopathy or a sex-starva-
tion scourge. These reactions were a clear sign that the cardinal
point of our \Vork had not been understood, namely, that diseases
generated by sexual stasis are severe biopathic diseases of the
organisnl. The cancer biopathy is one of the diseases in tvhich
chronic disturbances of hu1nan sexual econorny are manifested.
Cancer is a sexual biopathy (sex-starvation disease). Sex-economy
and cancer research are, therefore, inseparable. Character analysis,
vegetothcrapy, and orgone therapy n1ay appear to be different
methods of treahnent, but basically they are one and the same
biotlzerapy at work in a unitary organism. They complement each
other and have a con1n1on root in the biosystem. Their superficial
differentiation corresponds to the artificial differentiation of the total
organism into biophysical, characterological, and physiological
I had the patient examined gynecologically. The examination
fully confinned my diagnosis of plasn1atic shrinking: the body of
the uterus was very sn1all in relation to the cervix, and the ovaries
\Vere not palpable rectally-an indication, in the opinion of the
gynecologist, that they were extraordinarily underdeveloped. The
glandular tissue of the breasts see1ned totally undeveloped. It was
of course difficult to co1ne to any conclusion about whether the case
\vas one of atrophy or of pritnary inhibition of development of the
sexual organs. The gynecologist was of the opinion that it \vas a
priinary underdevelopn1cnt of the ovaries. However, the assumption
of such an isolated, prin1ary ovarian disturbance would not be in
accord \vith our theoretical position. The ovaries arc not indepen-
dently functioning organs but are an integral part of the total
autonon1ic life apparatus, upon \vhich they depend. On the basis of
the sexual history of the patient, I am inclined to view the under-
development of her breasts and genital organs as an atrophy by
disuse of the sexual apparatus. The question as to what extent the
The Discovery of the Orgone 271

endocrine glands play a primary role, and to \vhat extent they

should be regarded as the executive organs of the general plasma
function, cannot be ans\vercd conclusively at this tizne.
I decided to treat the patient, without remuneration, by simul-
taneously utilizing physical orgone therapy and the technique of
psychiatric orgone therapy. It \Vas not long before the patient began
asking questions: "Docs sexual intercourse hurt?'' ''When arc you
going to rape 111e ?" (This patient, like so many others \Vho suffer
from chronic sexual starvation, \vas beset by severe rape fantasies.
She really believed that a \VOman could not be alone in a room with
a man without being raped.) "Does the 1nan move his penis in the
vagina? That really must hurt!" HvVhat do you do if you get too
many children?'' (She kne\v nothing about contraception.) "Does a
woman have to give in to a n1an if he wants satisfaction? I'm fright-
ened of it." The patient was totally ignorant about even the most
elementary questions of sexual life. As a child, she had pressed her
mother \Vith questions about it but had been rebuHed and had
stopped asking those questions of anybody. She now believed that
"such things" \vere not supposed to be known. She had developed a
strong attachn1ent to her father, an authoritarian educator and strict
1noralist, \vho had imn1ediately suppressed the girl's first pubescent
impulses. Soon after\vard, she began to suHer from perverse fan-
tasies, the principal content of \vhich was brutal rape. This led to
the development of a feeling of panic \vhenever a boy came near
her. Even in puberty, this fear was accon1panied by spasms of the
genital apparahts. These spasn1s persisted as a chronic complaint.
She withdrew 1nore and n1ore fro1n contact with n1en and became
increasingly lonely.
Gradually, the traditional distortions of sexuality were ab-
sorbed and anchored characterologically: sex is evil, devilish, a
monstrous sin against God's conunandn1ents. Sexual intercourse is
an activity reserved for marriage and then only to beget children.
(Everything she observed around her completely contradicted these
ideas.) The man is an evil sexual animal who violates girls "to still
his lust." Women have no sexuality and only bear children. They
have sexual intercourse \vith a 1nan only because he "needs it."
272 \V I L H E L ~1 R E I C H

Nlasturbation 1nakes you a c1ipple or an idiot, and "makes you lose

life-juice fron1 the n1a1Tow." (As a consequence of these beliefs, she
had never actually 1nasturbated, but since childhood had kept her
hands on her genitals at night, clenched and 1notionless.) The
difference bet\veen 111an and anin1al is that 1nan is not sexual. What
is anilnal is base and tnust be fought. Everything sexual is animal.
"Ideal values" are \vhat should be cultivated; "bad thoughts" should
be kept out of one's 1nind. Of course, she had "bad thoughts." In
consequence, she felt guilty, becan1c stili n1ore tense, and still
developed "bad thoughts." Even during her childhood, she had
brutal and sadistic fantasies that she fearfully suppressed. She felt
the urge to bite or tear off the penis of the men around her. During
her puberty, \vhencver she \Vas about to dance \Vith a boy, an
impulse to choke him broke through, accon1panied by intense sexual
excitation. This feeling n1ade her \Vithdra\v even more into herself.
Her father \Varned her about venereal diseases, giving her the
in1pression that sexual intercourse inevitably leads to thern. But he
did not tell her how to protect herself against such infection. And so
she retnained helpless, torn bet\vecn longing for love and fear of it.
This in1pelled her into situations that reaiiy tvere dangerous. Curios-
ity drove her to approach con1pletely strange n1en and indulge in
various sexual practices, only to flee in fright, and then con1pletcly
isolate herself for n1onths. Understandably, it was her very fear that
exposed her to dangerous situations. She \Vanted to find out if \Vhat
she had been told \Vas actually true. The fear \Vas an expression of
her vital urge for sexual gratification. This confirmed what sex-econ-
omy has ahvays tnaintaincd: cornpulsive rnorality and asceticis1n
generate sexual criminality and ]Jerversion, the precise opposite of
tvhat they intend.
The patient was totally ignorant of the anatomy of her geni-
talia. Yet, since her genitals caused her so much suffering, she \Vas
obsessed by the thought that she really had to know about them.
Sexual curiosity \VOtild suddenly seize her during hartnless conver-
sations with both n1ale and fen1ale acquaintances; her instinctive
reaction \Vas in11nediate flight and withdra\val. Just once, \vhen she
\Nas twenty, she felt really in love \vith a boy and tried to break
The Discocery of the Orgone 273

through. Instead, she sank back, helpless; she '\vent to pieces." The
sexual excitation becarne so intense and the genital spasn1 n10n1cn-
tarily so violent that she \Vanted to eon1n1it suicide. It \Vas inlpos-
sible for her to conceive of the sexual act as anything but a brutal
Even during puberty, her capacity to \Vork \Vas disturbed as a
consequence of her trc1nendous sexual stasis. Cornpulsive sexual
thoughts al\vays intruded \vhcn her interest in \vork \Vas aroused.
Clearly, the en1otional stilnul us provided by her \vork sirnultancously
triggered the sexual excitation that she feared so tnuch. Sexual stasis
is the 1nost ilnportant cause of u;ork disturbance in puberty. '''ith
the years, the patient's \Vork capacity declined more and rnore; she
became dull, until finally she reached a state of con1plcte emotional
ernptiness, which she had displayed for the last t\vo years. During
those t\vo years, the characterological and ernotional en1ptiness pro-
ceeded into son1atic shrinking.
In these first atternpts to treat a shrinking biopathy I started
\vith the follo\ving assun1ptions: sexual stasis, \Vhich produces "the
stasis neurosis,n is at the basis of both the carcinornatous and the
cardiovascular biopathy. But there 1nust be an essential diIerence
between cancer and cardiovascular biopathies. Cancer victirns pre-
don1inantly sho\v ernotional n1ildncss and characterological resigna-
tion. People \vho suffer fron1 cardiovascular hypertension, i.e., from
chronic vascular contraction, are, in contrast to the cancer sufferer,
for the n1ost part easily excitable, "ernotionally labile," explosive
personalities. This is clearly expressed in acute anxiety attacks. On
the other hand, I have never seen cancer patients \Vith violent
en1otions, outbreaks of rage, etc. \V'c are therefore justified in
concluding the existence of specific differences bet\veen the hvo
forms of biopathy, in spite of their con1n1on etiology in sexual stasis.
The essential factor is hou.; the organistn reacts to the damn~ed-up
sexual excitation once it has occurred.
When investigating ne\v connections, \VC are compelled again
and again to n1ake assun1ptions suggested by the disease patterns,
without being able to state \Vith certainty that these assun1ptions are
correct. We have no alternative but to leave the confirn1ation or

refutation of our hypotheses to future experience. In such matters,

one can never be flexible, careful, or self-critical enough. Briefly, the
clinical comparison of the cancer biopathy \vith cardiovascular
hypertension forced us to assu1ne a basically different vie\v of the
da1nmed-up sexual excitation in the biosystein. In the cardiovascu-
lar biopathy (anxiety neuroses as a consequence of abstinence), the
sexual excitation ren1ains lively biologically, i.e., physiologically and
emotionally. In other \vords, the biological core of the organisn1, the
autonomic life apparatus, continues to generate energy to the fullest
extent. vVhcn it is contracted, however, the organisn1 reacts with
outbreaks of anxiety or rage and with somatic symptoms such as
hyperthyroidisn1, diarrhea, etc. In cancer, on the other hand, the
biological core lotvers its energy production. With this diminution
of energy production, the en1otions and excitations beco1ne gradu-
ally weaker and \veaker. The energy metabolism is thus disturbed
far n1orc profoundly than in the 1nore conspicuous symptoin-
producing disorders such as hysteria. Seen functionally, an outbreak
of anger is still an energy discharge, even though it may be
pathological. Chronic emotio1uzl calm, on the other hand, must
coincide tcith a bio-energetic stagnation in the cell and plas1na
With some hesitation, I feel obliged to speak here of "suffoca-
tion of the cell energy systen1." It seems conceivable, although at
present this contention cannot be stated with any certainty, that
characterological resignation is the surface expression of an inner
process of gradual cessation of the energy functions of the life
apparatus. Let us illustrate it in this \vay:
In a Rowing brook, the continuous move1nent of the water
purifies it. Dirt is dissolved very quickly, by a process not yet
con1pletely understood. In a stagnant pond, ho,vever, not only are
the processes of putrefaction not eliminated, they are accelerated.
A1noebae and other pratozoa grow poorly or not at all in n1oving
\Vaters but develop profusely in stagnant \Vater. We still do not
kno'v much about this '(suffocation" in stagnant water or in the
stagnant energy syste1n of the organism, but we have every reason
to assun1e the existence of such a process and state. It cannot be
The Discovery of the Orgone 275

mere coincidence that cancer develops so seldom in bio-energeti-

cally alive organisn1 and so easily in the bio-energetically stagnant
organism. It is clear that the shrinking biopathy, in contrast to other
biopathic forn1s, begins \Vith this abnor1nal caln1 in the person's
sexual and en1otional life. Sympton1s of stasis anxiety, \Vhich are
often nu1nerous in the history of cancer patients, are rare once the
cancer reaches a n1ature stage. The in1pression is of a sharp reduc-
tion in the biological energy n1ctabolisin, \Vhich in healthy persons is
vividly reflected in the function of the orgasm. These assumptions
are, I believe, of great significance, and I hope they will be thor-
oughly investigated.
It is not to be assun1ed that the cells of the organis1n submit to
the extinction of the energy system without a struggle. \Vhen the
functioning of the bio-energetic ( orgonotic) excitation of the total
system is reduced, the orgonotic excitation in individual cells or cell
systems can still continue intensely, just as a suffocating organism
resists final subsidence in clonisn1s. Thus, individual cells can still
demonstrate orgonotic overexcitation even when the total organism
has already lost the capacity for excitation and energy metabolism.
However, such isolated excitations, occurring without connection
with orgonotic excitations of the entire organism, can no longer be
physiologically nor1nal. They must have damaging effects on the cell
Further discussion of this subject will have to be deferred.
Orgone physics \vill provide in1portant clarifications about the affec-
tive function of the body cells and its relationship to orgone energy
n1eta bolisn1. (There is, for instance, the phenomenon of orgonotic
lumination in bions, \Vhich discloses in1portant connections \vith cell
lumination and cell excitation in the organisn1.) But now let us
return to the patient.
Her en1otional and bio-energetic behavior conforn1ed com-
pletely to the assumptions just described. She constantly asked
about sexual processes, but the questions lacked urgency and excita-
tion. By contrast a patient \vith anxiety hysteria would have asked
the san1e questions with intense excitation, or she would have
repressed them and developed severe anxiety. The emotional import

of the questions \VOuld have stood out ilnn1ediately. vVith our

patient, it \vas different. She asked everything in a flat voice, as if
\Vithout interest, even though these matters filled her life. Her
fantasies \Vere grueso1ne, but she seen1ed unn1oved, and only super-
ficially interested. Very soon she began co1nplaining about the
superficial and corpse-like \Vay she experienced things. She had
suffered fron1 this problcn1 since puberty. It gave her the feeling of
being unable to establish close contact with anything or anyone.
This en1otional cahn of the cancer victi1n is in sharp contrast to the
coldness and contactlessness of the affect-blocked, compulsive char-
acter. In the con1pulsive character, po\verful energy iinpulses are
bound in the block; in cancer, the energy is lacking.
Careful observation of the patient's behavior contradicted the
assu1nption that there \Vere repressed affects in the biological
depths. There \vere no affects at all. The orgasn1 reflex appeared
\Vith surprising ease, yet \vith scarcely any affective strength. Affects
are the manifestations of bio-energetic cell excitation. If \Ve over-
con1e the respiratory inhibition of a patient suffering from stasis
neurosis \vith cardiac anxiety, strong excitations \Viii be the in1n1edi-
ate and inevitable consequence. But in the case of our patient this
did not happen. The correction of her respiration over a period of
t\vo n1onths did bring about spontaneous vegetative actions, but no
lively move1nents. Since the orgasn1 reflex \Vas \vcak, she had no
fear of it, in contrast to a person \Vith stasis neurosis, who experi-
ences severe anxiety. This poverty of affect thus reached deep into
the biological system.
The question confronting me \Vas whether the spas1ns of the
genital apparatus could be dissolved \Vithout the presence of strong
excitations. It \Vas clear that she \vould recover only if her sexuality
began to function vigorously. After t\vo \Veeks of treatment, she
developed vveak vegetative currents in the genitals. Thereupon, the
genital spasn1s \Vere alleviated and the pains disappeared. But
because the excitations \Vere \veak and failed to intensify, the
patient did not develop the usual anxiety. This finding \Vas extraor-
dinary and confir1ncd the assu1nption that in the shrinking biopathy
The Disco,;ery of the Orgone 277

the sources of excitation in the autonon1ic systen1 slo\vly die out.

vVhether fading energy functions can be fully revived by orgone
therapy ren1ains to be established.
Resignation \Vithout open or concealed protest against the
denial of joy in life n1ust be regarded as one of the essential causes
of the shrinking biopathy. Biopathic shrinking, therefore, represents
a continuation of chronic characterological resignation in the real1n
of cell functioning.
Let us visualize the funda1nental biological (the physiological
and emotional) functions diagran1n1atically. In1agine a \vide circle
\Vith a center ( "'corl/'). The shrinking of the circle periphery \Vould
represent the onset of characterological and en1otional resignation.
The core, the center of the circle, is still unaffected. The shrinking
process advances to\vard the center, i.e., the 'biological core." The
biological core is nothing but the sun1 of all plasn1atic cell functions.
Once the shrinking process has reached this core, the plasn1a itself
shrinks. This coincides \Vith the process of \veight loss. But long
before the plasn1a function is directly darnaged, the peripheral
physiological and characterological functions are disturbed: the loss
of ability to establish social contact, the loss of joie de vivre, the loss
of capacity for \vork, and, finally, the disturbances of pulsation and
of vegetative excitation.
The vital apparah1s envelops the biological core in layers of
varying depth. The biosysten1 has superficial and deeper layers. i)

Disturbances of bodily functioning are, accordingly, superficial or

deep. An acute respiratory disturbance \viii not affect the core of the
biosysten1. A chronic respiratory disturbance, due to a chronic
inspiratory attitude, \viii generate chronic anxiety but \vill not
influence the biological cell plasma function, so long as the bio-
energetic functions in the cells thcn1selves continue, that is, so long
as the organism continues to produce vigorous in1pulses. The in1-
pairn1ent of impulse production in the cells is an indication that
peripheral characterological resignation has seized the cell plasma
i) A con1parable layering has been found in the character. Cf. Reich, Char-
acter Analysis ( Ne\v York: Farrar, Straus and Girou.x, 1972). [Editor]
278 \V I L H E L 1\.1 R E I C H

system. \Ve are then dealing \Vith the process of biopathic shrinking.
\Ve shall have to study this process also in chronic schizophrenics
(especially in hebephrenia).
It now appears certain that biopathic shrinking is specific for
cancer. The actual cancer process resen1bles, in its essentials, proto-
zoal life in a pond in \vhich there is no longer any movement of
\Vater but a flourishing gro\vth of protozoa. Unfortunately, these
processes in the background of the shrinking biopathy cannot be
directly observed n1icroscopically; they can only be deduced. There
ren1ains a gap, so far as the thoroughness of direct observation is
concerned, bct,vccn characterological-biological affective stillness
and the process in the cell plasma that, in the cancer process, is
tnicroscopically visible in the forn1 of vesicular, bionous disinte-
We now want to consider these cell and tissue disturbances.
\Vhat is clear is that cancer cannot develop from a simple scar, a
\Vart, a \vound, or a chronic irritation unless there already exists a
fundamental disturbance of the life function, in the core of the
biological systc1n, that ultin1ately seizes upon the local damage. The
question is, in what way does this happen?
V. Orgonomic Functionalism


vVe n1ust ask: \Vas ignorance about the Jiving process Inerely the
result of a faulty COH<x'ptual technique and insufficient research? Or
\vas it the result of a characterological inhibition, an unconscious
intention, as it \vere? The history of scit~nce leaves no doubt that the
living process \vas not allo\ved to be studied; that through thou-
sands of vcars it \Vas the rnechanistic-n1vstical structure of the
~ J

hun1an anin1al that excluded frorn all research, bv absolutelY all

~ ~

conceivable tncans, the costnic foundations of the liYing process.

And there \vas 1nethod to this structural intention: first, in the
religious conceptual prohibition that presented God and life a priori
as being unkn()\vable; then, even in the punislunent by death for
recognizing the life process. as contained in several religious taboos.
The tnyth of Adan1 and Eve has a deep rational 111eaning. To eat
fron1 the tree of kno\vledge n1eant to he expelled fron1 paradise by
fire and S\vord. It is a snake, a syrnbol of the phallus as \vell as of
prin1al biological motion, that persuades Eve to seduce Adan1. They
pluck the forbidden apple and eat it. They are overcon1e \vith
shan1e. The sexual svrnbolisn1 is self-evident: '\vhoever cats fron1
the tree of kno\vledge perceives God and life, and this is punish-
able"-thus goes the legend. Atcareness of the lalc of love leads to
atvareness of the late of life, tchich in turn leads to au:areness of
God. This sequence is true throughout every phase of the history of
science and has bePn confirmed by the discovery of cosn1ic orgone
energy in the t\ventieth century. The punishrnents that follo\ved this
discovery \vere entirely in keeping \Vith the old Biblical legend.
It is not true that I \vas the first to observe cngone energy and,

Fron1 Ether, God and Devil and Cosmic Superimposition, 1973.


with it, the functional law that n1erges organic and inorganic nature
into one. In the course of t\vo tnillennia of hun1an history, people
time and again encountered phenon1ena of orgone energy, or they
developed thought systcn1s that approached the reality of cosmic
orgone energy. That these insights could not break through should
be bla1ned on the same human character traits that created religious
prohibitions and destroyed any progress in the right direction.
Basically, the \\'capons of destruction were invariably either mecha-
nistic, pseudo-scientific counter-argun1ents or mystical obscuran-
tism, except in cases of physical annihilation.
I can only cite scattered examples from various epochs. A
presentation of the systetnatic effort on the part of the emotional
plague of n1ankind to destroy the functional equation of ''God == life
== cosmic orgone energy == orgonomic functional law of nature
== la\v of gravitation" must be left to historians.
Even arnong the Greeks there existed a rigid and fanatical
orthodoxy that rested just as much on the interests of an ar-
rogant priesthood as it did on the faith of a multitude in need
of redemption. This might have been forgotten altogether if
Socrates had not been forced to drink the cup of poison; but
Aristotle, too, escaped from Athens so that the city did not sin
against philosophy a second time. [C(Philosophy" in antiquity
played the role of today's natural science.-WR] Protagoras
had to flee and his writings about the gods \vere burned by
order of the state. Anaxagoras \vas imprisoned and had to :flee.
Theodorus the atheist and probably Diogenes of Apollonia \Vere
persecuted as atheists. And all this happened in humane Athens.
From the standpoint of the multitude, everyone, even the most
idealistic philosopher, could be persecuted as an atheist, for no
one imagined the gods to be as priestly tradition dictated it.
This \Vas \Vrittcn by Friedrich Albert Lange in his History of
Afaterialism. "'hat \vas the basis for the ancient denial of the gods?
What was there about the develop1nent of scientific materialism that
enabled Greek philosophy to oppose superstition? It \vas the energy
hypothesis of the "soul atoms" of Democritus, i.e., a scientific
Orgononz ic Functionalisn1 281

glitnpse of the existence of a special energy, the orgonc, underlying

the psychic functions.
Nla tcrialistic philosophy did not start from 1nechanistic ques-
tions but, oddly enough, hotn basic psychological questions, just as
orgone biophysics sprang fro1n the psychiatric problems of the
biological drive dynan1ics: \VHAT IS SEXSATIOX? IIO\V CAX ?\fATTER
Thus, natural science of antiquity, brilliant and in its assess-
ments accurately oriented to this day, did not start from n1aterial
but fron1 functional problen1s that did not exclude sensation. It \Vas
over these functional processes, and not over 1naterialistic questions,
that the scientific n1inds separated fro1n the n1etaphysicians and the
mystics. These \vere the questions that kindled the battle flan1es of
the en1otional plague against the kno,vledge of nahtre and the
equation of God == natural la\V. These questions-and not, origi-
nally, the 1nechanistic la,vs governing the velocity of falling bodies
-turned the accurate \vorld iinage and its processes into the
burning issue they beca1ne. For every scientific 1nind realized that it
was only our O\Vn sensation of the processes in us and outside us
that contained the key to the deeper secrets of nature. The sensation
of living protoplasn1 is a singular pheno1nenon of nature, \Vithin and
not beyond hurnan life. Sensation is the sieve through \vhich the
inner and outer stin1uli are perceived; it forn1s the bridge bet\veen
ego and outer \vorld. This is an established fact, both an1ong natural
philosophers and natural scientists \vho are a\vare of their investi-
gative n1ethods. It is all the rnorc strange that, until recently, scien-
tific research was unable to say anything about this central part of
its O\Vn nature and that n1ysticisrn could usurp the realm of life
sensations with such con1pletely disastrous effect.
Such grotesque fact~ always have a certain function and a
secret intention. It \vould of course be \vrong to assun1e that son1e-
time, some,vhere, there \vas a secret council of ar1nored human
animals who detern1ined ho\v the kno,vledge of sensation itself-the
282 \V I L H E L ~1 R E I C H

link behveen ego and nature-could be prevented and \vhy those

\vho discovered this secret of nature should be so harshly punished,
persecuted, burned, and tortured. There \Vere no secret delibera-
tions and there \Verc no decrees. The deadly battle that the enlo-
tional plague \vagcd against the recognition of the basis of sensation
\Vas dictated, guided, and carried out by the structural laws of
armored hurnan beings.
It \Vas the character-analytic theory of structure that first
broke the spell and opened the gate to insight into the nature of
sensation itself. The ensuing discovery of biological energy phe-
noincna \Vithin the perceiving organisn1 and the further discovery of
atrnospheric orgone energy in the purely physical sense \Vere merely
the logical consequences of the first act: the discovery that sensation
is a function of excitation; that, in other words, there is a functional
identity betzceen the quantity of excitation and the intensity of
sensation. \Vith this, sensation itself had becon1e the objective of
scientific research. The further consequences of this discovery speak
for then1selves.
Sensation is a function-the function of a limiting membrane
that separates the living systen1 from the surrounding orgone ocean.
Through this me1nbrane the orgonotic living body communicates
\vith all other orgone systen1s. It is no accident that the sensory
nerves develop from the ectodern1, the outer ger1ninal layer of the
Since the physical vie\v of nature results from the biological
constitution of the observer of nature, the \vorld image cannot be
separated fron1 the creator of the \Vorld in1age. Briefly, natural re-
search that discovered the aton1 bon1b is confronted \vith the
natural research that discovered cosmic orgone energy, sharply,
clearly, and irreconcilably.
It must be decided tvhether nature is an "empty space with a
fetv tcidely scattered specks" or whether it is a space full of cos1nic
primordial energy;, a continuunt that functions dynamically and
obeys a generally valid late of nature.
The technician of physics, \vhose thinking \Vas shaped by
mechanistic philosophy, regards absolutely all physical problems as
Orgonornic Functionalisnlt 283

basically solved. His vie\v of life is limited by the fact that sophisti-
cated equip1nent enables airplanes to fly by ren1ote control, so that
the living pilot is clhninated. He believes that the invention of the
most infa1nous n1urdcr \vea pon since tin1e began is "the da\vn of a
ne\V era of aton1ic energy." His universe is crumbling under his feet,
but his view of life is fixed and con1pact, consisting prilnarily of an
"empty space" in which there are "a fe\v specks.'' We do not \Vant to
argue \vith him, although his opinion plays an essential part in form-
ing general public opinion. There is no roon1 for the life process in
this vie\v. ~tore than that, the practical effect of his vie\v of nature is
destructive: in theory, by otnitting the living substance fron1 all
consideration; in practice, by socialtnurder and war.
It is different \vith the founders of this dead and deadly philos-
ophy. The founders of this e1npty and dead universe are intelligent,
educated 1nen. They do not believe that all problems have been
solved. On the contrary, they openly say that their physical image of
the \Vorld is urgently in need of correction. They find themselves in
contradiction \Vith their O\Vn theory. In their own \vords, they have
abandoned reality to withdraw into an ivory tower of mathematical
symbols. They cannot be blatned for \vithdrawing from the real
world into a shado\v \vorld and for operating with shadowy things
and abstract syn1bols. Everyone can do, or not do, as he pleases,
provided he harn1s no one. But does this kind of influence really
harm no one? Is not the dan1age proved, since this kind of physics
excluded the human being, mysticized life, and, intentionally or not,
invariably returned to explosive substances because of its research
I \viii try to describe the sensory apparatus of the tnechanistic
observer who has created mechanistic philosophy. Ho\v does it
happen, \Ve must ask, that 1nechanistic physics has been declared
bankrupt by its most brilliant exponents but so far has failed to
break through the iron \valls of its thinking in which it is trapped? If
we are consistent and hold the character structure of the physicist
responsible for the mechanistic vie\v of life, we n1ust ask these
questions: What is the nature of the mechanistic character struc-
ture? Which specific qualities underlie this helplessness in observing

nature? \Vhere does this character structure come from? And,

finally, in \vhich social processes did it originate?
I am not obliged to present the history of n1echanistic natural
science. Suffice it for me to speak from experience and to describe
the typical mechanistic physicist as he is revealed by psychiatric
The typical n1echanistic physicist thinks according to the prin-
ciples of n1achine construction, which he prin1arily serves. A ma-
chine rnust be perfect. Hence the thought and action of the
physicist must be "perfect." Perfectionisrn is an essential characteris-
tic of 1nechanistic thinking. It pern1its no errors. Uncertainties,
situations in flux, are undesirable. The n1echanist works with artifi-
cial models of nature when he experin1ents. The mechanistic experi-
n1ent of the t\ventieth century has lost the essential features of
genuine investigation-the control and in1itation of natural proc-
esses, which have characterized the work of all pioneers in the
natural sciences. All machines of the san1e type are alike do\vn to
the most minute detail. Deviations are regarded as inaccuracies. In
the realn1 of machine construction this is quite correct. But this
principle \viii lead to error if applied to processes of nature. Nature
is imprecise. Nature does not operate mechanically but functionally.
Therefore, the n1echanist al\vays goes against nature whenever he
uses his mechanistic principles. There is a la,vful harmony of natu-
ral functions that pern1cates and governs all being. But this har-
n1ony and la\vfulness is not the tnechanical straitjacket that mecha-
nistic n1an has iinposed on his character and his civilization.
Mechanistic civilization is a deviation frotn the law of nature; even
n1ore, it is a perversion of nature, an extremely dangerous variant,
just as a rabid dog represents a morbid variant \Vi thin the species.
In spite of the lawfulness of their functions, natural processes
are characterized by the absence of any kind of perfectionism. In a
naturally gro\vn forest \VC find a unifortn principle of gro\vth. But
there arc no t\VO trees-and no two leaves atnong the hundreds of
thousands of trees-that resen1ble one another with photographic
likeness. The reahn of variations is infinitely \vider than the realm of
uniforn1ity. Although the uniform la\v of nature can be found and
Orgonotnic Functionalis1n 285

functions in every single detail, no matter ho\v small, there is

nothing that can be reduced to perfectionisn1. vVith all their ]a,vful-
ness, natural processes are uncertain. Perfectionism and uncertainty
are mutually exclusive. One cannot object to this fact by pointing to
the certainty of the functions of our solar systen1. True, for thou-
sands of years the orbits of the planets around the sun have not
changed. But thousands, even n1illions, of years play only a minor
role in the processes of nature. The origin of the planetary systen1 is
just as uncertain as its future. This is generally recognized. Thus,
even the planetary systen1, this "perfect" n1echanisn1 of the astro-
physicists, is in1perfect, in the ''irregular'' fluctuations of thern1al
periods, sun spots, earthquakes, etc. Neither \Veather formation nor
tidal flo\v and ebb functions according to the la\vs of machines. The
failure of scientific tnechanistics in these realn1s of nature is obvious,
as is their dependence on the functions of a primordial cosmic
energy. There is la\v in nature; that n1uch is certain. But this la\v is
not mechanistic.
Therefore, perfectionisn1 is a cornpulsi ve accuracy of n1echanis-
tic civilization; accurate \Vithin but not outside the reahn of mecha-
nistic functions, the artificial n1odels of nature. Just as everything
within the conceptual fran1e\vork of forn1al logic is logical, but
becomes illogical outside this frame\vork; just as everything \vithin
the framework of abstract n1athematics is consistent, but outside
has no fran1e of reference; just as all principles operating in the
authoritarian educational systen1 are logical, but outside are useless
and anti-educational; so, too, is rnechanistic perfectionism outside
its own logical don1ain unscientific; and, in its pseudo-accuracy, it
functions as a drag upon natural investigation. Research \vithout
errors is impossible. All nah1ral research is, and always \vas, grop-
ing, "irregular," unstable, flexible, forever corrective, in flux, uncer-
tain and insecure, and yet in contact with real processes. For these
real processes, in spite of all their basic unifying la,vs, are variable
in the highest degree, free in the sense of being irregular, unpredict-
able, and unrepeatable.
It is precisely this freedom found in nature that frightens our
mechanists when they encounter it. The mechanist cannot tolerate
286 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

uncertainty. But this freedom is neither metaphysical nor mystical

but functionally lawful.
Here character analysis has opened up several crucial insights.
It \Vas in1portant to apply psychiatric insights into human reactions,
to the basically incomprehensible, hate-filled rejection of orgonomic
phenomena. In my publications, I have dwelt time and again upon
the astonishing fact that cosn1ic orgone energy was so thoroughly
and so consistently overlooked by the physicists. Lasting as it did
for centuries, this oversight could not be an accident. l\1 y psychi-
atric \Vork fortunately enabled me to unravel part of the mystery
during the character analysis of an extremely gifted but inhibited
physicist of the classic n1echanistic school.
We found that, rooted in certain experiences irrelevant in this
context, he had developed a strong, dreamy cosmic longing and
fantasizing fron1 childhood on. It had led him to study physics. The
core of this fantasy \Vas the idea of floating all alone and lonely in
the universe among the stars. A specific memory from his second year
sho,vcd that this fantasy \Vas rooted in real personal history. As a
small child he had observed the stars at night through the \vindo\v.
He \\'aited for their appearance \vith an excitement mixed \vith
anxiety. His "Hight into space" also served to ren1ove him from very
unpleasurable situations in his parental hotne. The strong inhibition
I mentioned earlier sprang fron1 precisely those painful experiences
that led hin1 to study the universe. But, at the same time, they
remained as permanent inhibitions on his capacity for surrender
and as a block to his organ sensations. As \Ve approached the libera-
tion of his orgastic sensations, a severe anxiety en1erged, an anxiety
that \Vas at the heart of his \Vork block. It \vas the same anxiety
, he
had developed as a child due to his po,verful organ sensations. In
organ sensation, man experiences the orgone function of nature in
his O\vn body. No'v this function \Vas charged \vith anxiety and
therefore inhibited. Our physicist \Vanted to devote himself to
orgone biophysics because he \Vas convinced of its accuracy and
significance. He had seen the orgone in the n1etal rootn and de-
scribed it in detail. But whenever he \vas supposed to do practical
\Vork, a strong inhibition set in, the san1e inhibition based on the
Orgonon1ic Functionalism 287

fear of total surrender, of unquestioning abandon to his O\Vn body

sensations. In the process of orgone therapy, the sequence of
moving for\vard and fearfully retreating \Vas repeated so often and
so typically that there could be no doubt that the fear of organ
sensations and the fear of scientific orgone research u:ere identical.
The reactions of hatred that can1e to the surface \Vere the same
that one encounters in ordinary relations \vith physicists and physi-
cians regarding the orgone. Our clinical experience may be general-
ized: it is the fear of auto no 1nic organ sensations that blocks the
capacity to observe orgone energy.
Self-perception is the deepest and 1nost difficult problem of all
natural science. The understanding of sensation \viii also pave the
\Vay for understanding self-perception. "'' e recognize the capacity
for sensation in living organis1ns by their response to stimuli. This
response is inseparably connected \vith an E~IOTION; in other words,
\vith the motion of protoplasm. 'Ve kno\v that an organism has
perceived the stin1ulus \vhen it responds \Vith n1ove1nent. En1otional
stimulus response is functionally identical \Vith sensation, not only
quantitatively but also qualitatively. Just as all stiinuli affecting an
organism can be reduced to t\VO basic forn1s-pleasurable and
unpleasurable-all sensations can be basically reduced to t\VO fun-
dan1ental emotions, pleasure and unpleasure. This fact \Vas already
kno\vn to pre-Freudian psychology; it \Vas clarified by Freud \vith
his libido theory. The accon1plishn1ent of orgone biophysics \Vas
that it succeeded in functionally equating pleasure \Vith biological
expansion, and unpleasure or anxiety \Vith biological contraction.
Expansion and conbaction are basically physical functions that
can be found even in the inorganic reahn of nature. They comprise
much \Vider areas than en1otions. It 1nay be assumed that there is no
emotion \vithout expansion or contraction, but that expansion and
contraction function \Vithout emotion, as, for instance, in the atn1o-
spheric orgone. vVe reach the conclusion that the emotions, at a
certain point in the develop1nent of living n1atter, are added to
orgonotic expansion and contraction \Vhen certain conditions are
fulfilled. For the n1on1cnt \Ve asstune that ernotion is tied to the
existence and movement of protoplasrnatic substance within a cir-
288 \V I L H E L l\.1 R E I C H

cumscribed systenl and, tcithout this precondition, does not exist.

But in another context \ve \viii encounter the susceptibility of the
purely pl1ysical orgone to stimuli when \Ve discuss the 1nedium of
electromagnetic \Vaves.
w1any problen1s are still a\vaiting concrete ans\vers. But regard-
less of the n1any obscurities blurring our vision, it is certain that
from no\v on sensation and etnotion are found \Vithin, and no longer
outside, the physical vie\v of nature. ~1echanistic natural research
must exclude sensation because it cannot grasp it. But since sensa-
tion and en1otion are the direct and least doubtful experience of the
living organism, they \vere bound first to strike the attention of the
natural philosophy of antiquity and to press for an ans\ver. In his
book At eeting of East and West, Northrop explains the importance
of direct organ sensation for the entire natural philosophy among
ancient Asiatic cultures. It was not ascribed to some god. It \Vas
treated \vithin the franle\vork of physical functions and attributed
to special, particularly sn1ooth and exceptional, atoms. This ancient
vie\v is far superior to that of "modern" natural science and comes
closer to the natural processes.
The primitive vie\v of emotional life \vas not n1ystical, as is our
vie\v today; neither \vas it spiritualistic or metaphysical. It \Vas
animistic. Nature \vas regarded as "animated," but this animation
\vas derived fron1 man's O\vn real sensations and experiences. The
spirits had human form, the sun and the stars acted like real, living
people. The souls of the dead continued to live in real animals. The
primitive animistic intellect did not change the \Vorld \vithin or
\vithout. The only thing it did in contradiction to natural scientific
philosophy \vas to ascribe real functions to real objects \vhere they
did not belong. It placed its O\vn reality into an alien reality; that is,
it projected. The primitive intellect reasoned very close to probabil-
ity \vhen it equated the fertility of the earth \Vith the fertility of the
female body, or \vhen it regarded the rain-bearing cloud as a being
capable of perception. Primitive man animated nature according to
his O\vn sensations and functions; he ani1nated them, but he did not
mysticize then1, as did his successor several hundred years later.
u-~1 ysticis1n" here 1neans, in the literal sense, a change of sensory
Orgononzic Functionalisrn 2B9

irnpressions and organ sensations into sonzething unreal and beyond

this world. Anthropology teaches us that the devil \Vith tail and
pitchfork, or the angel \Vith \vings, is a late product of hun1an
in1agination, not patterned on reality but originating fron1 a dis-
torted concept of reality. Both "devil" and "angel" correspond to
hun1an structural sensations that deviate basically from those of
anin1als or prilnitive 1nen. ljke,vise, "hell'' and "heaven," forn1less,
blue-gray ghosts, dangerous 1nonsters, and tiny pygtnics are projec-
tions of unnatural, distorted organ sensations.
The process of anin1ating the surrounding \vorld is the san1e
\Vith the aniinistic prhnitive as it is \Vith the n1ystic. Both anin1ate
nature by projecting their body sensations. The difference betu;een
ani1nisrn and 1nysticis1n is that the fanner projects lUltural, undis-
torted organ sensations, tchile the latter projects unnatural, per-
verted ones. In both cases \Ve can dra\v conclusions about the
en1otional structure of the organisn1 fron1 n1ythology. But \Ve can
also discern the radical difference. It forn1s the transition fron1 a
biological fortn of existence to a basically disparate life forn1 of the
hutnan anhnal.
We can still describe aniinism as a realistic conception of
nature, even if the anirnating idea and the anin1ated object do not
concur in reality. For both idea and object are objective, unchanged
realities. But \Ve cannot regard n1ysticisn1 as a true conception of
nature because not only the outer but also the individual inner
\vorld has deviated frorn the law of nature; they have changed.
Animism takes for granted a soul in a cloud or the sun, vvhich is not
correct, but it does not hunper \Vith the forn1 and function of such
natural objects. A devil or an angel, on the other hand, no longer
corresponds to any reality, neither in forn1 nor in function. The only
reality at the root of this n1ystic kind of anirnation is the distorted
organ sensation of arn1ored rnan.
This discussion is of decisive in1portance in clarifying several
basic questions of natural research. Later \Ve shall see that Kepler
had an anin1istic concept of planetary functions, \vhich \Ve should
not confuse \vith 1nysticisn1, although he has often been accused of
n1ystical beliefs. Furthern1ore, it is kno\vn that Galileo, \vho estab-
290 \V I L H E L l\1 R E I C H

lished the n1echanistic functional laws, was not on good terms with
Kepler. \Ve \Viii also find an anilnisn1 in Ne,vton that we will have to
understand. It is ilnportant to dissociate ourselves frotn the un-
founded superiority of the 1nechanists, \vho dismissed as "mysti-
cism" the anin1istic efforts of a Kepler or Ne,vton to cotnprehend the
har1nonic la'v of nature. We \viii have to demonstrate that our
n1echanists are far n1ore n1ystical than they then1sclves suspect, and
far more ren1ote fro1n nature than priinitive anin1ists. History shows
that n1echanistics in the natural sciences developed not as a reaction
against the aniinisrn of a Den1ocritus or a Kepler but against the
ran1pant 1nysticisn1 of the Church in the ~1iddle Ages. The Christian
Church had exchanged the nature-oriented anin1is1n of prehistoric
science and the vitality of its O\Vn founder for a tnysticisJn remote
fro1n life and nature. The n1ystical bishop sent the animistic "witch"
to be burned as a heretic. Tyl Ulenspiegel \Vas a nature-oriented
aniinist; Philip II of Spain \Vas a sadistic-brutal n1ystic. Functional
natural science n1ust defend pri1nitive animisn1 against perverse
mysticis1n and take from it all ele1nents of experience corresponding
to natural sensory perceptions.
Narro\v-Ininded n1echanists of natural science reproach func-
tionalisin for being "1nystical." This blan1e rests on the assumption
that those \vho try to understand mysticism are mystical. The
n1echanist docs not understand en1otional processes at all; to him,
they are alien experiences, and they are equally foreign as the object
of investigation. In a manual of neurology or organ pathology one
will look in vain for a study of the emotions. The en1otions, how-
ever, are the experiential 1naterial of 1nysticisn1. Therefore, the
narrow-n1indcd 1nechanist concludes that those \vho deal \vith emo-
tions are n1ystics. The understanding of en1otions is so ren1ote to the
n1echanist' s thinking that there is no room for it in his natural
scientific investigation. Functionalistn is silnply not capable of over-
looking the e1notions and can include then1 in the realm of natural
scientific research. The n1echanist regards this as "n1ysticis1n" be-
cause he confuses n1vsticisn1 \Vith the study of n1vsticism.
~ ~

For 1nechanistic pathology, functional illnesses are "imaginary"

Orgono1nic Functionalism 291

illnesses. v''hen the n1echanistic physician cannot ascertain any

alteration in the chernical cornposition of the blood or in the struc-
ture of the tissues, he cannot diagnose an illness, even if the patient
actually dies. The functionally oriented physician, the orgone thera-
pist, knows about the bodily function of the emotions. He under-
stands ho\v and \vhy one can "die of grief." For grief is functionally
identical with the shrinking of the autonomic nervous systern, a
protracted shock, as it \Vere. For hun, "functional fever" is not a
fign1ent of the irnagination but a real, biophysically interpretable
excitation of the biosystern.
The distinction behveen animism and n1ysticism is important
insofar as the orgone-physical rnotility of living substance can be
differentiated from the anin1ation of lifeless substance ( == anin1ism)
and the grotesque distortion of organ sensations ( == mysticism). For
the mystic, a soul "lives'' in the body. There is no connection be-
tween body and soul except for the fact that the soul influences the
body, and vice versa. To the n1ystic (and to the n1echanist, if he is
aware of any en1otional factors at all), body and soul are rigidly
separated though interrelated realms. This is true for both psycho-
physical parallelisn1 and n1echanistic and psychologistic causal rela-
tionship: body~ psyche, or psyche~ body. Functional identity as
a research principle of orgonornic functionalism is no\vhere as
brilliantly expressed as in the unity of psyche and soma, of emotion
and excitation, of sensation and stin1ulus. This unity or identity as
the basic principle of the concept of life excludes once and for all
any transcendentalisn1 or even autonomy of the ernotions. En1otion
and sensation are, and rcn1ain, bound to the orgone-physical excita-
tion. This also excludes any n1ysticisn1. For the essence of n1ysticism
lies in the concept of a supernatural autonomy of en1otions and
sensations. Hence, every concept of nature that is based on the
autonon1y of emotions, regardless of its own expressed vie\vs, is
mystical. This is true for n1cchanistics, \vhich cannot deny sensation
although it \vould like to, and \vhich cannot con1prehend it, al-
though it ought to. It is of course equally true for any kind of
outspoken mysticism and especially for religious spiritualism. But

it is also valid for psychophysical parallelism. Therefore, even

psychoanalysis, unless it interprets the instinctual drives in terms of
concrete, physiologically tangible excitations, is mystical.
Furthermore, the sharp distinction between animism and mys-
ticisn1 results in a sharp distinction in the orientation of research.
The animist proceeds fron1 his O\Vn organ sensations, which tell
him that organs are 1notile or alive or, \vhich is the same thing,
animated. Although the anin1ist dra\vs direct conclusions from
personal experience, he cannot explain anything about the nature of
sensation, movement, or anilnation. Movement is the direct experi-
ential material that shapes the n1ental images of the ne\vborn child.
As long as the child possesses undistorted, naturally functioning
organ sensations, he may falsely interpret \vhat is static by animat-
ing it. But \Vhenever the naturally perceiving child describes dy-
na111ic, living 1natter, he \viii judge correctly. If this function is
continued later in natural research, he \Viii conclude, as, for instance,
Sigmund Freud did, that there is a "psychic energy" anchored in
"physical processes." This judg1nent is correct, for the psychic func-
tion is conceived as n1otion, and motion, in the strictest physical
sense, is a shifting of energy. The discovery of cosmic orgone energy
proceeded after all from this correct, anin1istic interpretation. The
study of the nature of sensation-purely conceptually and experi-
IDentally-led to the discovery of physical orgone energy, \vhich has
specific biological functions.
In contradistinction, the n1ystical concept of the dynamics of
e1110tions can never lead to the discovery of physical energy proc-
esses, if only because, in principle, the mystic kno\vs no connection
behveen the physical and the emotional. In practice, mystical man,
unlike the anilnistically thinking and feeling child, does not experi-
ence his organ sensations directly but al\vays as if through a
distorting mirror. The mystic may be able to describe orgonotic
currents and excitations; he may even give details that are astonish-
ingly exact. But he \Viii never be able to co1nprehend them quantita-
tively, any more than one can put the n1irror ilnage of a block of
\vood on the scales.
Controlled clinical experience sho\vs that there is always a \Vall
Orgonon1ic Functionalism 293

bet\veen organ sensation and objective excitation in the mystic~s

structure. This \vall is real. It is the n1uscular armor of the mystic.
Any attempt to bring a n1ystic into direct contact \Vith his excitation
triggers anxiety or even unconsciousness. He can perceive the
emotion in hin1self as in a n1irror but not as a reality. 1,his assertion
is founded on an experience I had frequent occasions to observe: if
orgone therapy succeeds in dissolving the arn1or in the n1ystic, the
"mystical experiences" disappear. Thus, the existence of a dividing
wall between excitation and sensation is at the root of the 1nystical
The n1ystical experience is seldon1 found \Vithout concon1itant
brutal, sadistic impulses. Further1nore, to my kno\vledge, orgastic
potency is not found among mystics, any more than mysticism is
found an1ong orgastically potent persons.
M ysticisnL is rooted in a blocking of direct organ sensations and
the reappearance of these sensations in the pathological perception
of "supernatural potcers.:>~ This is true for the spiritualist, the schizo-
phrenic, the religious physicist, and for any kind of paranoiac. If a
mystical person tries to describe nature \Vith the given preconditions
of his character structure, he will only produce a picture of reality
that, \Vhile reflecting real processes, is not in harn1ony \Vith objective
processes but is distorted as, e.g., the paranoid schizophrenic's feel-
ing of being influenced by electrical currents, the spiritualist's
impression of a blue-gray nebulous ghost, the religious epileptic's
fantasy of a "universal spirit," or the 1netaphysician~s idea of the
~'absolute." Each of these impressions contains a part of the truth:
the orgonotic tingling sensations are the "electric currents" of the
schizophrenic; the blue color of the orgone is the blue-gray ghost of
the spiritualist; the cos1nic universality of orgonc energy is the "uni-
versal spirit" and the ''absolute" concept of the mystical character.
Thus, both the aniinist and the n1ystic touch upon a reality. The
difference is the distortion of reality that beco1nes the absolute or
the grotesque in .mystical man, \vhile animation of inanimate matter
characterizes the anin1ist. The claims of the n1ystics are quite trans-
parent and easily refuted. The clain1s of the anin1ists are hard to
refute and n1ore rationally co1nprehensible. The \Videspread and
294 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

ackno,vledged vie\v of the harmony of nature is basically an ani-

mistic vie\v which, in the mystic, is degraded to a personified cosmic
spirit or a divine universal being. The mystic is trapped in the
absolute. The absolute is incomprehensible. The animist remains
flexible, his vic\vs can be shifted. He has the advantage that his
vic\v of nature, contrary to the mystical vie,v, contains a practicable
core of truth. Even nO\V, cenh1ries later, the concepts of the animist
Kepler, \vho formulated the planetary harmonic la\v, are still valid
with respect to his vis aninzalis that n1oves the planets. THE SA~IE
The origin of all animistic and truly religious \vorld philos-
ophies n1ust be sought in the functional identity of organismic and
cosmic orgone. Here \Ve also find the rational core of animism and
of genuine religiosity; \VC n1ust liberate this rational core from its
mystical guise strictly scientifically, in order to gain the intellectual
ra\v material that leads us to the physical function of cosmic energy.
By "physical function" \Ve mean the orgonornic law of motion,
\vhich must be articulated in orgonometric terms. The poetic and
philosophical equation of life sensation and cosmic function is cor-
rect but not sufficient to reconcile the hu1nan animal with nature.
The human animal can learn to understand and love nature inside
and outside hhnself only if he thinks and acts the \vay nature func-
tions, namely, functionally, and not Inechanistically or mystically.
The \Vorld of orgonomic "energetic" functionalism is a vigor-
ously functioning, free, and consequently lawful and harmonic
\vorld. It has no room for a vacuun1 in space, which the mechanistic
physicist requires because he is incapable of making sense of nature
in any other \vay; neither has it room for ghosts and phantoms,
\vhich n1ysticisn1 cannot demonstrate. Also, the \vorld of functional-
isn1 is not a "shado\v \vorld," as is the \Vorld of the abstract
1nathcmatician. It is a \Vorld that is tangible, full, pulsating, and
simultaneously dcn1onstrable and n1easurable.
The abstract 1nathen1atician does not realize that his formulas
can describe objective processes only because his ideas are part of
the san1c natural function that he expresses as abstract symbols.
Orgonornic Functionalisrn 295

Anyone farniliar \Vith organ sensations is capable of tracing the

sources from \Vhich the "higher" n1athematician, \vithout kno,ving
it, derives his insight. Even if the functional syrnbols that he puts in
place of the real world are unreal and do not even pretend to 1nirror
reality, the creator of these functional syn1bols is unquestionably a
vigorously pulsating orgonotic systen1 \vho could not involve hin1-
self \Vith 1nathen1atics if he did not pulsate. "'Higher" Inathetnatics
could pose as the rnost sophisticated product in the development of
natural science only because its anchoring in pulsating nature \Vas
not kno\vn or not adrnitted. The brain of the n1athen1atician is not a
differently organized instrlnnent; it differs only insofar as it is
capable of expressing organ sensations in n1athematical fonn. The
mathen1atical fonnula is thns only one rncans of expression a1nong
others, and not the 1nagic \vand it appears to be to the narro\v n1ind
of 1nystical rnan. It is the living organ is In that orders, regroups, and
connects its sensations before articulating then1 as rnathematical
The orgone biophysicist kno\vs that in sleep one often finds
solutions to problerns one has tried to solve in vain \Vhile a\vake. I
rnyself, during t\vilight sleep, have \vorkcd out a \Vhole series of
functional equations, \vhich will have to be .set forth in another
context. I do not n1ind adrnitting this because I arn not interested in
the superiority of "pure intellect" over the "ernotions." I kno\v fur-
thernlore that the hurnan intellect is only the executive organ of the
living plasrn investigating and probing the \vorld around us.
Considered functionally, sensation is a feeling out of reality.
The slo\vly groping, \Vavy move1nents of ani1nal antennae or tenta-
cles \viii illustrate \vhat I n1ean. Sensation is the greatest 1nystcry of
natural science. Therefore, functionalis1n kno\vs its \Vorth and val-
ues it highly. Because he regards sensation as a tool, the func-
tionalist is concerned \vith its care, just as a good carpenter
cares for his plane. The functionalist \viii al\vays order his intellec-
tual activity so that it is in harn1ony \Vith his "sensations." vVhere the
degree of ernotional irrationalis1n is srnall-and it n1ust he stnall for
anyone \vho investigates nature-he listens to the gentle \Varnings
of his sensations that tell hin1 \Vhethcr his thinking is right or \Vrong,
296 \V I L H E L ~f R E I C H

clear or muddied by personal interests, \vhether he follo\vs his irra-

tional inclinations or any objective processes. All this has nothing to
do \Vith 1nysticisrn. It has to do exclusively \vith keeping our sensory
apparatus, the tool of our research, in good condition. This condi-
tion is not a "gift," not a special ''talent," but a continuous effort, a
continuous exercise in self-criticisn1 and self-control. We learn to
control our sensory apparatus \vhen \Ve have to treat biopathic
patients. Without an invariably clear systen1 of sensation, without
the ability to clear it if it becornes irrationally distorted, \Ve would
not be able to take one step into the depth of human character
structure or describe natural processes as they are.
Such observations and vie\vpoints in natural research (and
rnan's cn1otional life is certainly a part of nature!) are alien to the
chemist, the physicist of the old school, the astronon1er, and the
technician. They do not kno\v their sensory apparatus, \Vith \Vhich
they explore the \Vorld. They can control their actions only by ex-
perilnent, and \Ve kno\v that experin1ent \Vithout organ sensation
has taken mechanistic natural science no\vhere in crucial questions
of nature. The rnechanistic technologist denies this, but the enlinent
physicist admits it.
For us natural scientists, the life function has n1any meanings:
First, it forrns the basis of all life activity, including natural
research. It is the port from \vhich \Ve set out on our investigative
voyages and to \Vhich \Ve return in order to rest, store up results, or
pick up ne\v provisions.
Second, the life function is the tool \Vith \vhich we touch,
pro be, order, and comprehend ourselves and the nature around us.
(The Gerrnan tern1 begreifen literally means "to feel out.") The
most important tool is sensation, be it inner organ sensation or outer
sensory perception.
Third, the life function is an object of our research. The first
and 1nost important object is, again, organ sensation both as a tool
and as a nah1ral phenomenon. By investigating ho\v living matter
functions, \Ve also discover a part of external nah1re. For \vhat is
truly alive in us is itself a part of that external nature. Thus, if \Ve
proceed carefully in studying the rnaterial that constitutes the life
Orgononzic Functionalis1n 297

function, \Ve n1ust also find those functions that have general,
cos1nic validity. This is a necessary and unavoidable conclusion
inasmuch as the overall functioning principle is contained even in
the smallest special functioning principle.
In this way, the life function becon1es for us a part of objective
nature, the prototype for certain generally valid natural functions
\Vhich originally have nothing to do \Vith the living element per se.
Offhand, a thundercloud has nothing in con1n1on \Vi th an arnoeba.
By observing certain functions in the an1oeba, ho\vever, \Ve succeed
in reaching conclusions that arc equally valid for the thundercloud;
for instance, there is the attraction of highly charged thunderclouds
upon sn1aller clouds, as con1pared to the attraction exerted by the
amoeba on srnall bions.
Such rigorously ordered and controlled natural research, such
interconnections, arc alien and often outrageous to the mechanist.
Under no circurnstances \viii he adrnit any connection behveen
amoeba and cloud, and he \viii disn1iss such ideas as humbug,
charlatanisn1, or n1ysticisn1. Therefore, proceeding frorn the energy
development in bions, he does not discover the sarne energy in the
atmosphere. Therefore, as a n1eteorologist, he describes "heat
waves" in the flickering atrnosphere as one and the same phenome-
non, even at rninus 20 C; as an astronomer, he speaks of "bad
seeing" and "dispersed light" in observing the stars at night; and, as
electrophysicist, he speaks of "static electricity" in dealing with the
atn1osphere. No one \vould object, if only he did not believe he had
solved all rnysteries \Vith the term ''ionized cosrnic dust." IIis arro . .
gance turns him into a conceptual roadblock in the field of nah1ral
research; and since the further dcveloptnent of the human race will
be determined for centuries by its attitude toward nature inside and
outside itself, and by nothing else, such ignorant arrogance also
becomes a roadblock for any social developrnent. The state of the
world today speaks for itself.
Functional thinking does not tolerate any static conditions. For
it, all natural processes are in rnotion, even in the case of rigidified
structures and hnn1obile forn1s. It is precisely this motility and
uncertainty in his thinking, this constant flux, \vhich places the
298 \V I L H E L ~f H E 1 C H

observer in contact \Vith the process of nature. The term "in flux" or
"flowing" is valid, \vithout qualifications, for the sensory perceptions
of the scientist observing nature. That which is alive does not know
any static conditions unless it is subjected to immobilization due to
annoring. Nature, too, ''flo\vs" in every single one of its diverse
functions as \Veil as in its totality. Nature, too, does not know any
static conditions. Therefore, I believe that Bergson, in his brilliant
fonnulation of the "experience of continutnn," tnade the tnistake of
describing the biopsychic process as '(n1etaphysics," in contrast to
"science and technology." Fundatnentally, Bergson meant to say
only one thing \Vith his philosophy of nature: tnechanistic natural
science is correct in the reahn of inorganic nature and technological
civilization. It leaves us in the lurch if we are to cotnprehend the
perceiving live organisn1 and the act of natural research in the reahn
of biopsychic processes.
Orgoue research has left uo doubt that n1echanistic natural
research has failed not only in the biopsychic realn1 but also in all
other realtns of nature where a co1nn1on denotninator of natural
processes had to be found. For, as \ve said, nature is functional in
all areas, and not only in those of organic n1atter. Of course, there
are tncchanical lavvs, but the n1echanics of nature are in themselves
a special variant of functional processes of nature. This rernains to
be proved.
If \VC consistently want to follow the \Vorking hypothesis that
orgone energy is cosrnic pritnordial energy per se; that the three
large functional reahns, of mechanical energy, dead mass, and living
Ina tter, spring fron1 this cosn1ic prhnordial energy through compli-
cated processes of differentiation; that, finally, cosn1ic pritnordial
energy actually functions in a specific varied n1anner, \Ve face the
enonnous task of deriving the specific variations fron1 the common
functioning principle of orgone energy. We can do this in several
We can study orgone energy in its natural functioning in the
ahnosphere and in the living organisn1, grasp the basic functional
principles, and trace thern to the higher variations. We can siinul-
taHeously-indeed, \Ve n1ust sin1ultaneously-cornprehend the spe-
Orgonornic Functionalisn~ 299

cific variations in and among the three large functional realn1s and
connect then1 concretely in such a vvay that the con1n1on functioning
principles of the higher order \viii lead us spontaneously to the
cotnmon functioning basis of all nature.
This has nothing to do \vith philosophy or natural philosophy.
This task is co1nparable to that of an engineer \vho has to build a
complicated bridge across a wide river. He must span both banks
and construct the bridge in its entirety as \vcll as connect the indi-
vidual cen1ent blocks. \Ve differ fron1 this engineer in that \Ve
cannot pron1ise at what particular time the bridge \vill be ready. \Ve
do not know when the construction \viii be ended and \vho \viii
carry it to con1pletion. But in order to keep our perspective, we \vill
have to direct our attention silnultancously to both banks and to
those details of the construction that are indispensable for spanning
the river. At this point, \Ve do not have to think of the forn1 and the
n1aterial, the decorative touches, the arrangcn1ents for illun1inating
the bridge, etc.
\Ve have investigated cos1nic (ngone energy in diverse func-
tional areas sufficiently to formulate several generally valid prin-
ciples in the con1mon functioning basis of all nature.
Among these principles, \Ve find PULSATION as the basic charac-
teristic of orgone energy. It can be divided into t\vo antithetical part-
functions-expansion and contraction-or synthesized fro1n them. I
realize that I an1 expressing n1yself n1echanistically. But, for the
duration of this study, it is necessary to isolate the function under
investigation fron1 the general Ho\v of natural processes, even to let
it rigidify, so \Ve can exan1inc it more closely. But under no circum-
stances should \Ve translate a step, \vhich \Ve had to take because
\Ve could not operate other\vise, into an o bjcctive property of the
function itself. '''e must not ascribe to nature any properties that
are not inherent in it but are seen only at the n1oment of investiga-
tion. It is not pedantry or superfluous \varning to say this. 11echa-
nistic natural science is full of such n1isinterpretations.
The n1echanistic bacteriologist stains certain cocci and bacteria
with specific biologically effective chen1icals in order to n1ake them
n1ore visible. Staphylococci react positively to the Gran1 stain, that
300 \VI L HE L ~f REICH

is, they appear blue; tubercle bacilli appear red in eosin. The
bacteriologist no\v speaks of the specific color reaction of bacteria as
if it \Vere a specific biological property of these microorganisms.
This is inaccurate, because the staining is an artificial 1neans of
den1onstrating the object, and not a specific quality of the micro-
The cancer researcher of n1echanistic orientation has consis-
tently overlooked the true properties of cancer cells because he
clings to the secondary, artificial properties that the cancer cells
acquired in the process of exan1ination.
The mechanistic physicist says that light consists of seven basic
colors, that it is "con1poscd" of the1n. The functionalist says: if I put
a ray of light through a pris1n, it takes on the appearance of a seven-
colored scale. vVithout prisn1 or \Vithout a screen fortncd by rain,
i.e., \Vithout any artificial interference, light is a unitary phenome-
non that has its O\Vn specific qualities, such as iiluminating a roon1.
And let us not forget that \Ve have not actually understood anything
\Vhen \Ve say "ilhuninating."
I can kill an anin1al and dissect it this \vay or that. No one
\Vould say that the anhnal consisted of the parts into which I have
dissected it. This is especially true in criticizing any kind of mecha-
nistic research. T'he experilncntal operation alters the object of
research. The coloration of cancerous tissue blots out its living qual-
ities. The dispersion of light through a prisn1 n1erely indicates ho\v
light reacts under the influence of refraction, but not ho\v light
reacts \Vithout this influence.
In wide areas, mechanistic natural science has fallen victin1 to
the error of thinking that the altered qualities of a natural function
are identical \vith its actual qualities. I explain nothing about the
nature of a t\vo-year-old child if I let hin1 make a pattern of tri-
angles and squares. I only say something about the particular situa-
tion into \vhich I have placed the child, i.e., ho\v he reacts under
this special condition. Things are different if I first observe the child
in his natural cnvironn1cnt. There the child creates his O\Vn condi-
tions of life; he is not reacting to a condition created by 1ne. There-
fore, the direct observation of nature is 1nore in1portant than the
Orgonon1ic Functionalisnt 301

experimeut. To control n1y observations, I can organize 1ny experi-

ments in such a \vay that I study nature, and not 1ny 1nodifications
of nature.
I observe that, influenced by concentrated orgone and \Vater,
plants will spontaneously grow better than they \Vould in darkness
or deprived of \Vater. I act according to the natural conditions of
growth if I experin1ent by irradiating seed \Vith concentrated orgonc
energy and then con1pare its gro\vth \vith seed that has received less
radiation or none at all. But if I expose this seed to a che1nical
solution which in nature it \vould never con1e in contact \vith, I have
produced an artificial change of the seed's properties. :Nly result
1nay be useful, pointless, or even harn1ful. But I have not studied a
natural process if I have produced experimental conditions that
cannot be found in nature. A child docs not by nature place square
blocks into the corresponding holes, but plays \Vith sand or earth.
By nature, a cancerous cell is not Gran1-stained but has a natural
color of its own. And, by nature, seed functions on the basis of
orgonotic processes, and not on the basis of a surplus of potassiu1n.
Every kind of natural observation connects excitation as the
cause \vith sensation as the result, or, conversely, sensation as cause
and excitation as the result. That quantitative changes bring about
qualitative changes, and vice versa, is a generally accepted fact, just
as organic and inorganic life influence, condition, and change each
other. Dynan1ic thinking is therefore no special characteristic of
orgonon1ic functionalis1n. That natural processes influence cultural
processes and that culh1ral processes change nature is a truisn1 for
all thought. By the san1c token, the interrelated functions of animals
and plants, n1en and 1nachines, 1nales and fen1ales, science and art,
electricity and mechanics, positive and negative electricity, acids and
bases, feudalis1n and bourgeois existence, n1athe1natics and n1usic,
intellect and cn1otion, thought and experience, etc., are k 10\Vn,
recognized, understood, and coped \Vith in practice.
The basic difference bet\vecn orgonon1ic functionalisrn and all
other conceptual 1nethods is that orgono1nic functionalism not only
sees an interrelation of functions but seeks a co1nn1on, third, and
deeper functional relation.
302 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

Fron1 this logical and simple unification of two functions in a

third and con1n1on functioning principle, it follo\vs that:
1. In the course of progressive insight, all existing functions
becorne sirnplcr, and not n1ore complicated. I-Iere, orgonornic func-
tionalisrn is in sharp opposition to all other conceptual n1ethods. For
the tnechanist and the metaphysician, the complexity of the \VOrld
increases in direct ratio to the increasing kno\vledge of facts and
functions. For the functionalist, the natural processes become sim-
pler, clearer, and more transparent.
2. \Vith the unification in a con1n1on functioning principle,
there auton1atically en1erges an orientation of research that presses
for kno\vledge of still sin1pler and rnore con1prehensive functioning
principles. For instance, once we have recognized the comn1on
functioning principle in animal and plant, namely the bion, \Ve \Vill
encounter, willy-nilly, further and rnore deeply rooted common
factors, such as the con1n1on functioning of bions obtained frorn
organic rnattcr as compared \vith bions obtained from inorganic
n1atter. In this \vay \Ve acquire a vie\vpoint fron1 \Vhich we can study
organic and inorganic nature fron1 one perspective.
It is up to us to decide if \Ve \vant to exan1ine the special or the
general, the diverse or the con1n1on, the variation or the basic. The
variation has its O\Vn functional la\vs that differ frotn other varia-
tions. At the same tilne, the variation obeys the general functioning
principle of its origin.
In the investigation of the cancer biopathy, the functional
vie\vpoint gained valuable confinnation. A cancer cell in anirnal
tissue is very different fron1 the an1oeba in a grass infusion. Mecha-
nistic research clain1s that the an1oeba sterns fron1 gerrns in the air
and that the origin of the cancer cell is unkno\vn. "Amoeba" and
"cancer cell" have ren1ained t\vo sharply differentiated areas, both
\Vithout beginning or end or any transition to other areas. But
orgonomic fnnctionalisin offered a rich n1ine of research in cornpar-
ing cancer cell and an1oeba.
The con1n1on factors are n1orc important than the differences.
Cancer cell and atnoeba develop through the natural organization of
bions or energy vesicles. The cancer cell is the arnoeba of anin1al
Orgonornic Functionalism 303

tissue, and the an1oeba is the cancer cell of plant tissue. Through
the interconnection behveen an1oeba and cancer cell, both of \Vhich
disintegrate into bions in living tissue, a functional relationship is
established \vhich opens the previously closed gates to the investiga-
tion of the cancer cell and, \Vith it, the disease of cancer. Schemati-
cally, this looks as follows:


Cancer cell Amoeba Cancer cell Amoeba

t T
Air germ 11 Germinal Germ ina I
unknown vesicle vesicle

Energy vesicles
in decaying tissue

Mechanistic thinking favors differences, usually overlooks the

common, and therefore bccon1es rigid and sharply divisive. Func-
tional thinking is principally interested in con1n1on features because
the investigation of the con1n1on leads deeper and further. When
Dar\vin studied the origin of 1nan, derived from the higher anitnals,
he considered it far more hnportant that the e1nbryos of 1nan, pig,
ape, and dog sho\ved so 1nany identical traits rather than any subtle
differences. In this 1nanner he found the con1n1on principle of evolu-
tion of the vertebrates, \Vhich is valid for n1an and ape. For
mechanistics and 1nysticisn1, the difference bet\veen man and ani-
mal \vas, and still is, more important, e.g., the "non-anhnal" or "non-
sexual" being. We can discern \vhy this divisive 1nethodology \vas
bound to lead to a finalistic and 1nystical dead end. The con1n1on
traits are invariably pointing to a comn1on origin. Therefore, the
exploration of co1nn1on functions of different phenon1ena is also
304 \V I L H E L 1\1 R E I C H

historical and genetic exploration. The divisive observation, as

cxernplified in purely descriptive biology, cannot lead to genetic
observation. Accordingly, the tendency arises to connect the varia-
tions \Vith a connnon '"goal" or "purpose" of their functions. This is
ho\v rnysticism makes its \Va y into nah1ral science. And from the
rnysticisn1 of divisive observation derive the irrational attitudes of
racial prejudice or sexual suppression of infants.
It is no accident, but supported by fact, that life-negating
philosophy always ernphasizes the divisive element, such as the
differences arnong peoples in nationalisn1, the differences among
families in family ideology, the differences of wealth in the financial
principle, the differences of social rank in the authoritarian prin-
ciple. On the other hand, life-asserting philosophy stresses the
con1n1on elernent, the con1n1on biological origin of all hun1an ani-
nlals, the con1n1on features in tnan, aniinal, and nature, the comn1on
life interests and necessities, etc.
Since functional thinking kno\vs the motility of all processes, it
is rnotile itself and al,vays produces an abundance of evolutionary
processes. But rncchanistic thinking is, by definition, rigid and
therefore has a rigidifying effect on the objective of its research, its
education, its cure, it social effort. We deny conservatism not its
good \Viii but its ability to guide living reality. The n1echanist
cannot be anything but conservative or reactionary. l-Ie n1ay regard
his attitudes and intentions in \vhatever light he pleases; but the
essence of his thinking is to overlook developments, to nlisunder-
stand or hate the living organisrn, and therefore to seck a substitute
in rigid principles.
The essence of life is to function, and therefore it is antagonis-
tic to any rigidity. Nature kno\vs no bureaucracy. Natural la\vs are
functional, and not n1echanistic. Even where the la\V of mechanis-
tics is valid, nature abounds \vith variations.
Functionalism is cHpable of solving contradictions, \Vhich seem
insolvable to the mechanist, because it con1prehends the coJnn1on
principle. To give a fc\v examples:
The Inechanist cannot reconcile "society'' and "individual," not
because he does not want to, but because he is unable to. Therefore,
Orgonornic Functionalisrn 305

he \vill give priority to the interests of society or to those of the

individual. \Vhile he kno\vs that the interests of societv are condi-

tioned by gratifying the interests of the individuals, and vice versa,

his thinking and acting are invariably a question of either/ or. This
produces the sharp contrast bet\vcen state and individual, \vhich in
this forn1 is insolvable and irreconcilable.
In the sharp juxtaposition of "religion" and 'sexuality" \Ve face
another exan1ple of divisive n1echanistic thinking. For the n1echanist
and the rnystic, religion and sexuality are irreconcilable. This is
carried to such extrcn1cs that, to the Catholic, sexual pleasure is
regarded as a sin even in a tnarriage sanctified by the Church. The
functionalist resolves this contradiction as follo,vs. The con1n1on
principle of sexuality and religion is the sensation of nature in one's
own organism. \Vhcn natural sexual expressions \Vere repressed in
the hun1an anin1al during the developn1ent of patriarchy, this pro-
duced a severe, unbridgeable contradiction bet\veen sexuality as a
sin and religion as a liberation fron1 sin. In pritnitive religion, reli-
gion and sexuality \Vere ONE: orgonotic plas1na excitation. In patri-
archy, orgonity bccornes "sin" on the one hand and "God" on the
other. The functionalist understands the identity of etnotions in
sexuality and religion, the origin of the estrangen1ent and the
dichotomy it created, the fear of sexuality an1ong religious people,
and the pornographic degeneracy an1ong the exco1nn1unicated. The
mechanist and the tnystic are a product of this contradiction, re1nain
trapped in it, and perpetuate it. The functionalist breaks through
the barriers of this rigid contradiction by finding the con1n1on fea-
tures in emotion, origin, and nature.
Transgressing the rigid barriers the n1echanist has drawn in
nature initially takes the functionally thinking scientist to uncertain
ground. ~Iechanistic rigidity in observation and theory for1nation
serves one's personal security far more than it does objective
exploration. I have experienced tin1e and again, both in n1yself and
in many of n1y co-\vorkcrs~ that clinging to rigid barriers and la\vs
has the function of sparing us psychic disquiet. Strangely enough,
by letting the n1otile ele1nent rigidify, \Ve feel less threatened than
\Ve do in exploring a n1otile object.
306 \V I L H E L ~f R E I C H

One of n1y assistants \Vho caine to me from a biological

laboratory reported that she had received strict orders covering her
research \vork. She \Vas not allo\ved to go beyond certain lin1its or
step into areas outside the "research progran1." I realize that such
rules rest on the trend of the neurotic character structure to slip into
arbitrariness and lack of discipline in thought and \vork. But I also
realize that such rules preclude true research. The bacteriologist, for
instance, is so henuned in by the barriers of sterilization that he
forgets that nature is not sterile and that \Ve rnust also explore
processes of putrefaction. \Ve \vill see in another context that for
several decades cancer research overlooked the simple fact of
putrescent cancerous organisrns because the lin1its of sterilization
\Verc not allo\ved to be crossed. It is no\v clear that one becomes
uncertain in \VOrking with unsterile preparations. But this uncer-
tainty is an essential exercise of balanced thinking. The results
produced by "sterile" facts rnust be con1pared \vith "unsterile" facts.
This is rnore difficult but also more constructive. It reduces preju-
dice and brings us closer to reality.
The exploration of nature by experitnent \Vas a decisive step
for\vard to\varcl oh;ective observation. But the mechanistically con-
ducted expcriinent has separated the observer frorn direct observa-
tion. The distrust of rnan, including his po,ver of judgment and the
rationality of his en1otions, is so cnorn1ous-and rightly so-that the
objective experiinent becarne top-heavy. One felt averse to both
exa1nining live tissues and observing the atmosphere \vith the naked
eye. "Objective experiments," such as Michelson's light experitnent,
\Vhich did a\vay \Vith the ether, have had catastrophic consequences
for natural research. It is possible to control the living observer by
the experhnent, but it is not possible to replace him. An observer,
\vho because of his character structure works and thinks mechanisti-
cally, cannot iinprove his performance by experiments. Hence, it
\Vas ahvays the rebel against n1echanistics in natural science who
transcended the sharp borders and n1ade his discoveries precisely
because he \Vas so unorthodox. He sin1ply returned to direct obser-
vation and to the natural, i.e., functional, interrelations of these
observations. These rebels of natural science \Vere also rebels in
Orgononzic Functionalisn1 307

thinking; they functioned in an alive rnanner, stepped across bar-

riers, broke do,vn \valls, as in the question of the unchangea bility of
chemical substances, the relations bct\vcen energy and n1ass, the
relations bet\vecn rnan and animal, etc. Just think of \vhat psychol-
ogy has accon1plished on the basis of these sarne observations.
The functionalist uses the experirnent to confirn1 his observa-
tions and the results of his thinking. He does not replace thought
and observation by experiinentation. The mechanist does not hust
his thinking and o bscrvation, and he is right. The functionalist does
trust his senses and his thinking. He differs fron1 the n1ystic and the
religious believer by kno\viug his uncertainties and controlling thern
experimentally. He differs fron1 the ntechanist by including e\cry-
thing in his observation, b~ regarding everything as possible, by
breaking do\vn the barriers behveen the sciences because he con1-
prehends their interconnections, and by steadily and consistently
progressing to\vard the silnpler functioning principle.
The rnechanistic scientist is so unsure of hin1self, his operations
are so cornplicated and entangled in trivial detail having no relation
to the \vhole, that he rejects results a priori as inaccurate n1erely
because they are sin1ple. The orgone acctnnulator \Vas disrnissed by
en1inent persons because '"it is only a sirnple rnetal box."
The mechanistic hun1an structure has a lo\v tolerance for uncer-
tainties, a\roids prolonged tensions caused by uncertainty, does not
care for the flo,ving and interrneshing of functions in nature. Added
to this is the fear of life itself, \vhich \vill be discussed in another
By breaking d()\\'11 all barriers erected by the mechanist against
nature, by differentiating con1n1on functions frorn specific varia-
tions, the functionalist reduces diverse facts to functional intercon-
nections, the functions to energy processes, and the various energy
processes to a generally valid functional la\V of nature. It is unin1-
portant ho\v much he actually accornplishes at any given tirne in
practice or in theory. '"That is irnportant is the orientation to\varcl
research in the observation of nature ..And this orientation ( sin1plifi-
cation and unity versus con1plcxity) depends on the struch1re of the
308 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H

The 1nechanistic vie\vpoint fails \Vhen \Ve try to find the transi-
tion from orgonotic excitation of the hutnan organisn1 to the proc-
esses in the tissues of its organs. The visible spasn1s and the
subjective sensations of current iinply that they correspond to
concrete processes in the tissue substance. ~~Iechanistics is unable to
tell us ho\v \Ve 1night confirm or control our justified assu1nption.
The processes in htnnan tissues are not in1n1ediately observable.
Post-1nortem dissection and coloration of the tissue do not explain
anything about the processes in their living state because dead and
dying tissue arc funda1nentally different fron1 live tissue. The
reports of 1nechanistic pathology are taken fron1 dead tissues that
arc further changed by staining; therefore, they bypass \vhat is alive
and go astray. Also, Inechanistics presupposes innervations of tissue
functions in n1an and the hight)r anitnals, which are supposed to
arise not in the tissues then1sclves but in the "higher centers." In this
\vay, nothing can be gained by observing priinitive plasn1atic orga-
nisn1s even if they arc accessible to 1nicroscopic observation. An
an1ocba has no nerves and, consequently, no innervations that, from
the 1nechanistic vie\vpoint, \vould correspond to those of the higher
animals. This is how n1echanistic pathology automatically excludes
any cotnparative observation.
Functionalisn1 has freed itself fron1 these prejudices and their
rigid lbnitations. The thought technique of the functionalist con-
nects the anin1al tissue \vith the tissue of the protozoan because, in
principle, all living substance n1ust be functionally identical. Once
the idea of this identity is accepted, there are many experimental
possibilities for ans,vcring the question: do the orgonotic sensations,
tvhich are so farniliar to the psyclliatrist trained in orgone therapy,
have a real, o!Jsercable basis in aninwl tissue?
Let us observe flowing an1oebae. vVe see currents in the proto-
plasn1 \Vhich, \Vhcn pleasurably stiinnlated, arc directed to\vard the
periphery, and \vhich retreat to the center \vhen unplcasurably stimu-
lated. In other \vords, the amoebae stretch out to\vard pleasurable
stirnulation and recoil \vhen unpleasurably stin1ulatcd. Here, \vith
one stroke of a silnple observation and a sound theory, a solid
bridge is built frorn the Inulticellular organisn1 to the an1oeba. The
Orgonornic Functionalisrn 309

amoeba behaves exactly as \Ve could have predicted the en1otional

behavior of the htunan anilnal on the basis of our clinical observa-
tions. What \Ve discern psychiatrically in 1nan, \VC observe directly
in the an1ocba: the flo\v of protoplasn1 that has "en1otional" signifi-
cance. Our theory tells us: uhat tee subjecticely perceive and tv hat
tve call ''organ sensations'> are objective 1noven1ents of protoplasrn.
Organ sensations and plasrnatic currents are functionally identical.
\Vith regard to the functions of pleasurable expansion and anxious
contraction of protoplasn1, 1nan and amoeba are functionally
We let an1oebae die off. Their protoplasn1 gradually loses its
motility until it stops altogether. '"Death" has occurred. After dying,
the protoplasm disintegrates into tiny bodies that \Ve kno\V so \vell
as T-bodies fron1 ex~unining cancerous tissues. The n1icroscopic
processes in protozoa have put us on the track of degeneration in the
tissues of cancer patients. ~lore than that, if \ve follo\v the organiza-
tion of protozoa fron1 bionously disintegrating grass tissue, \Ve find
the key to the origin of cancer cells in disintegrating hun1an tissue.
The microscopic observations ren1ain in harn1ony \Vith our clinical
observations. Tissue disintegrates into bions and then into tiny T-
bodies \vhen it loses biological energy, i.e., \vhen it becon1es anorgo-
notic. This can be studied under the 1nicroscope. These observations
correspond to the din1inishing life activity in the cancerous orga-
nisn1, the loss of tissue, the typical stale or putrescent odor, the lo\v
motility, the resigned character attitude, etc. All this points to
steadily progressive orgone loss in the organism. I believe that very
fe,v findings of classical n1edicine rest on such a congruity of diverse
Added to this is the existence of orgone energy in the atn1o-
sphere. Concentrated in accun1ulators, this energy is capable of
stopping anorgonotic processes in the sick organisn1 and reversing
them. Anorgonia of the blood in cancer patients can be cured by
orgone therapy. The organism feels strengthened; it develops
stronger impulses, gains \veight, etc.
We see that the functional interrelation of facts fron1 different,
widely separated areas, achieved by different investigative 1nethods

but subordinated to one theoretical principle, is no witchcraft or

rnagic but a technique of thinking that can be learned. Helped by
this conceptual technique, \Ve can bridge \vide gulfs that up to now
have gravely hnpcded biological and rnedical research. It is primary
biological n1oven1ent, i.e., the prirnary ernotion, \vhich in a sin1ple
manner cornbines living substance of various organizational strata
into one. In principle, \Ve have become independent from nerve
paths and specific glands because \Ve have put the problem where it
belongs: in the foundation of living functioning. Not matter or
structure but n1otion and energy processes are the guidelines of our
conceptual technique. Since substances and structural forms are
endlessly cornplicated, \vhile priinitive rnove1nents and energy proc-
esses of life are extrernely sirnple and accessible to observation, we
have gained a ne\v and hopeful perspective. At this point, it is the
very silnplicity of our clinical and experin1ental perspective that
separates us frorn our colleagues \vorking \vith chen1ical substances
and structures in n1echanistic pathology. Today, simplicity lacks
credibility, even if it no longer seerns "unscientific," as it did several
years ago. I kno\v that the cotnparison of an an1oeba vvith a man
rnust appear strange to con1plicated thinking. But I insist that the
rigid barrier erected by rnechanistic cancer research bet\veen the
protozoan in grass infusion and the cancer cell in animal tissue
strikes me as far stranger.
Scientific research 1nethods prove their accuracy not only by the
facts they reveal but also by the ne\v research fields they open up.
The mechanistic separation of cancer cell and protozoan has led us
nowhere. On the contrary, for decades it has condemned cancer
research to sterility. This happened in the nan1e of a prejudice of
religious-mystical origin: "the units of living n1atter are cells, and
the cells arc forever perpetuated fron1 cells." This prejudice gave
rise to the erroneous idea that the cancer cell \vas merely a degener-
ate body cell. The cancer cell has nothing in co1nnlon tvith the
healthy cell, except that it develops from the decayed matter of
fonnerly healthy cells.
In contradistinction, the functional connection bet\veen the
Orgono1nic Functionalis1n 311

cancer cell and the protozoan in decaying grass tissue has opened
the gates to further cancer research.
With this basic attitude and thought technique \Ve are spared
fruitless discussion about the bioche1nical results of classical biol-
ogy. They are of secondary importance for understanding living
matter and, \Vith it, the cancer biopathy. An example from the field
of mechanistics, \vhich is n1ore familiar to the 1nechanistic thinker,
may illustrate \vhat we n1ean.
A railroad train consists of a nun1 ber of cars dra \Vn by a loco-
motive. The cars are made of n1etal, wood, glass, etc. TI1e loco-
motive houses a firebox, a stean1 boiler, levers, pistons, etc. No
matter ho\v n1uch we say about \vood, n1etal, glass, levers, etc., no
n1atter ho\v closely \Ve analyze them in detail, the most exact
investigations, carried on ad infinitum, \vould still not tell us any-
thing about the function of a railroad train. Its one and only
function is to n1ove in toto and to take me fron1 N e\v York to
Boston. If I \vant to understand the railroad train, I must under-
stand the principle of its n1otion. The n1aterial construction of its
locomotive and cars is uniinportant and of secondary interest; it is
perhaps of interest for the co1nfort and safety of the journey, but
not for the principle of traveling.
Now classical biology exan1ines the structures of living matter
in its infinite variations do\vn to the sn1allest detail. It n1ay produce
results of great sophistication, but it will never be able to say any-
thing about the nature of living matter.
We are dealing with n1ore than questions of biology. The dis-
covery of the orgone far transcends the realm of living matter, even
if it stemmed from this realm and found its most in1portant applica-
tion therein. As \Ve said, the discovery of the orgone n1ust essentially
be attributed to a complicated but consistent thought technique.
This thought technique \vas confinned by the findings it n1ade, and
by the development of experilnents that secured the orgonon1ic
findings. The description of this act of thought beco1nes an integral
part of understanding life itself. In it, life understands its own
312 \V I L H E L }.f H E I C II

I say: In the act of thought, life contprehends its oren essence.

This is true for the functions of both inorganic and organic nature.
In building a tnachine, nu1n grasps the la\vs and functions of non-
living nature in its relation to living requiren1ents. In the sciences
concerning n1an, the living organistn seeks to understand the func-
tions of life itself. ll(nvevcr, it ahvays understands only \Vhat it
experiences in itself. If \vhat is alive in the hutnan animal had not
becotne arn1ored and degenerate because of the tnechanical-mysti-
cal principle, the result of n1astering living nature would be in
hannony \vith actual life functions. It \vould have mastered the
rnaterial structures of living substance in tenns of the functional
la\vs of the living organisn1. 0\ving to the social tragedy that
struck the hutnan animal thousands of years ago in the form of
n1echanical-n1ystical degeneration, it had access only to its mecha-
nistic functions, to the structure of the skeleton, to the tnuscles, the
blood vessels a11d nerves, the chen1ical con1position of the organisn1,
etc. Since the n1otile aliveness in n1an vvas arn1ored and therefore
inaccessible, the life principle itself, the ~IOTIOl':, i.e, actually the
n1ost essential feature of life, rctnained a closed book. What the
rigid n1echanist could not accotnplish because he regarded life
n1erely as an especialiy con1plicated 1nachine, the mystic has tried to
supplen1ent; the n1otility of life was transferred into the beyond,
allegorically in theory and often literally, \Vhcnever rigidified human
anilnals \Vent to \Var against one another.
Because annored n1an is rigidified, he thinks predominantly in
tenns of tnatter. l-Ie perceives n1otion as being in the beyond or as
supernah1ral. This n1nst be taken literally. Language always ex-
presses the imtnediatc condition of organ sensations and offers an
excellent clue to man's self-a\vareness. ~1ovcment, i.e., plasmatic
current, is indeed inaccessible to the rigidified hun1an anin1al. It is
therefore "beyond," i.e., beyond his ego perceptions; or "supernat-
ural," i.e., felt as an eternal cosmic longing beyond his material be-
ing. \ Vhat the annored organisn1 perceives as "tnind" or "soul" is the
1notility of life that is closed to hin1. l-Ie sees and feels the motion

only as in a n1irror. lie describes the tnotility of life correctly, but

only in the sense of a correct tnirror in1age. A large part of the bru-
Orgonon1ic Functionalisn1 313

tality of the mystic is explained by the sin1ple fact that \vhilc he feels
life inside hiinself, he can neit~~er experience it in reality nor develop
it. Hence the impulse develops to conquer the nlirror in1age by force,
to make it tangible and palpable by force. The life in the tnirror is a
constant provocation that drives him into a frenzy. There it is, this
motility; it lives, laughs, cries, hates, loves-but ahvays only in a
n1irror. In reality it is as barred to the ego as the fruits \Verc out of
reach for Tantalus. From this tragic situation springs every tnurder-
ous impulse directed against life.
~lechanistics and 1nysticisn1 con1bine to forrn a sharply divided
in1age of life, \vith a body consisting of chetnical substances here,
and a nund or soul there, n1ysterions and unexplorable, inacsessible
as only God hin1self.
The unarn1ored organisrn, ho\vever, experiences the self n1ainly
as a unity in motion. Its organ sensations tell it that the essential
part of life is not substance. Basically and in terrns of n1attcr, a
corpse looks no different than a living body; until putrefaction sets
in, the chen1ical con1position is the san1e. The difference lies in the
absence of motion. Therefore, the corpse is alien, even terrifying, to
living sensation. Spontaneous 11l.Otion is thus tv hat is alive. 'Ve no\v
understand the hopelessness of all n1echanistic-n1ystical thinking. It
constantly collides \vith the arn1or of its O\Vn organisn1 \vithout ever
being able to penetrate it.
Unarn1ored life, ho\vever, \vill find, interpret, and cotnprehend
expressions of life in its O\vn n1oven1ents. 11otion is its essence;
structure is ilnportant, but not basic. Therefore, the biology of the
unarmored organis1n n1ust necessarily differ radically from the
biology of ar1nored life.
The mechanist does not understand the principle of human
organization. He does not kno\v the properties of orgone energy,
and therefore, unless he ren1ains purely descriptive, he is forced to
introduce a n1etaphysical principle. For him, there is a hierarchy of
organs in the body. The brain as the "highest'' product of develop-
ment, together \Vith the nervous system in the spine, ''directs" the
whole organism. ~Jechanistics postulates a center from which all
impulses proceed to set the organs in motion. Communicated
314 \V I L H E L ~f R E I C H

through the corresponding nerve, every 1nuscle has its own center
son1e\vhere in the brain or Inidbrain. 1-IO\V the brain itself receives
its assignments ren1ains a riddle. The organs are the well-behaved
subordinates of the brain. The nerves are the telegraph \Vires.
Hence the coordinated n1ove1nent of the organisn1 remains nebu-
lous and n1ystcrious. \Vhere understanding fails, "purpose, sets in,
the convenient "in order to." The n1uscles of the shoulders and arms
of the apes coordinate their n1oven1ents "in order to" grasp. To n1y
kno\vledge, a "center" for the coordination has not been assumed or
found. And it \vould not i1nprove the situation, because the question
of \Vho gives the assignrnents to this center \vould still be unre-
Since the 1nechanist does not understand the living organism,
he n1ust resort to 1nysticisn1. Therefore, all 1nechanistic philosophy
is, and invariably must be, mystical as well. ~~1echanistic thinking
itself is clearly n1ade in the struch1ral irnage of social patriarchy
when it regards the brain as the master, the nerves as the telegraph
\Vires, and the organs as obedient executive subjects. And behind
the brain there is "God," or "reason" or "purpose." The situation in
the scientific co1nprehension of nah1re ren1ains as hopelessly con-
fused as ever.
In functionalisn1, there is no "higher" center and no "lower"
executive organ. The nerve cells do not produce the impulses; they
merely con11nunicate the1n. The organisn1 as a \vhole for1ns a
natural cooperative of equivalent organs \vith different functions. If
natural \vork den1ocracy is biologically founded, \Ve find it modeled
after the harn1onious cooperation a1nong the organs. ~1ultiplicity
and variety arc fused into unity. Function itself regulates coopera-
tion. Every organ lives for itself, functions in its own realm on the
basis of its O\Vn functions and stin1uli. The hand grasps and the
gland secretes. The individual organs are independent beings en-
dotced tcith their otcn sensation and function. Experiinents \Vith the
isolated heart and n1uscle have unequivocally confinned this. Sensa-
tion is by no n1eans tied to sensory nerve endings. All plas1natic
n1atter perceives, \Vith or \vithout sensory nerves. The amoeba has
no sensory or n1otor nerves, yet it perceives.
Orgonornic Functionalisnz 315

Each organ has its O\Vn n1ode of expression, its O\vn specific
language, so to speak. Each organ responds to stin1tilation in its O\vn
specific \vay: the heart \Vith change in heartbeat, the gland \Vith
secretion, the eye \vith visual in1pressions and the ear \Vith sound
in1pressions. The specific expressive language of an organ belongs to
the organ and is not a function of any 'center in the nervous
In confronting these t\vo basic vie\vs of the organis1n, \Ve
clearly recognize the diffen_)nce bet\vecn unar1nored and arn1ored
living n1atter. Each derives its judgn1ents fron1 the organ sensations
of its O\Vn body. The unarn1ored organism grasps directly \vith its
hands. The concert pianist does not give orders to his hands. The
hands, in conjunction \vith the \vhole organisn1, arc the rnoving and
n1ovablc self-acting organs. One hears \Vith the \Vhole organisn1, not
just with the ear. The \vheel is not the auton1obile. One havels by
car, not by \vheel.
The arn1ored organisn1, on the other hand, perceives the self as
consisting of isolated parts. Every irnpulse rnust penetrate the
armor. Frorn this, the feeling of "you should" or "you must" arises,
as \Veil as the idea that the organisn1 has a higher center that gives
"orders" to the executive organs. In addition, there is the sensation
of heaviness, inertia, or even paralysis in the lirnbs and the torso,
\Vhich gives credence to the idea that an organ n1ust act and be
rnoved by an order. By the san1e logic, there is an "ego" behind all
this, an intellect, a "higher reason," \vhich "guides," "assigns," etc.
Frorn here to the political concept of hun1an society or, conversely,
from the concept of the absolute state to the mechanistic concept of
the organisn1 is only one step.
This is the way the arn1ored organism developed and still
develops its concept of living processes. Furthennore, the divisive
idea of its organs and sensations makes it unable to find functional
connections, \vhich explains ho\v brain mythology don1inated the
natural sciences for decades \Vithout anyone ever realizing that
billions of organisms functioned for untold millennia before there
ever \vas a brain. In addition to the splitting up of organ sensations,
there is the n1ortal terror of total pulsation, of spontaneous motion

and spontaneous excitation. This anxiety constitutes the actual

brake. If the splitting-up process prevents the functional unity of
the individual functions, the anxiety produces terror or rage in the
armored organisn1 \vhenever another person fills and connects the
gaps, comprehends functional unity, or creates it.
For these reasons, classical biology did not progress beyond the
cell and did not find the sin1ple path toward proving that cells are
organized fro1n bions and decompose into bions at death. The
arn1ored organisn1 is characterized mainly by its inability to per-
ceive and feel n1otion, i.e., \Vhat is alive, and therefore to compre-
hend it. \Vhat is usually called the rigidity or conservatism of
traditional 3ciencc is in reality n1arked by this inability and fear on
the part of pron1inent scientists, who are then imitated by a multi-
tude of n1inor ones. We kno\v n1any exatnples of such dogtnas: the
indestructibility of the aton1s, the division of 1natter and energy,
ontnis cellula ex cellula, etc. A great deal has been \vritten on these
subjects. But here, for the first time, these dogmas are successfully
understood and, thereby, shaken. ~1any other dogtnas will be de-
stroyed in the further developn1ent of functional thinking.

Pleasure Rage


Unarmored Orgonotic Armored Orgonotic

System System
Orgononlic Functionalisnl 317

Unquestionably, the n1ost in1portant distinction behveen ar-

1110red and unannored orgonotic systerns is the developrnent of
destructive sadisrn in the forn1er. Since, in the annored organisn1,
every plasn1atic current and orgonotic excitation, in reaching for
contact, 1uns into a \Vall, an irrepressible urge develops to break
through the \vall no n1atter by \Vhat circurnstances or 1neans. In so
doing, all life irnpulses are converted into destructive rage. The
organisrn tries to break through the annor by force, as if it \Vere
I seriously believe that in the rigid, chronic ar1noring of the
human anilnal tee have found the anstcer to th~ question of his
enormous destructive hatred and his Jnechanistic-nzystical thinking.
We have discovered the reahn of the DEVIL.

The sexual en1brace, if abstracted and reduced to its basic form,

represents superirnposition and the bio-energetic fusion of two
orgonotic systen1s. Its basic form is the follo\ving:

Fig. 1

We have learned to reduce form to moven1ent. Form, to orgo-

non1ic functional thinking, is frozen n1ove1nent. Ample evidence has
indicated that superitnposition is due to bio-energetic forces func-
tioning beyond voluntary control. The t\vo orgonotic systems in-
volved are driven to superitnpose by a force that, under natural
conditions, i.e., not restricted by outer or inner hindrances, is
beyond their conhol. It is involuntary bio-energetic action. Basi-

Frotn Ether, God and Devil and Cosrnic Superimposition, 1973.

Orgonon2ic Functionalism 319

cally, this function cannot be stopped, just as the heartbeat or

intestinal peristalsis cannot be stopped, except by forceful interfer-
ence or by death. When two children of different sexes, three to five
years old, supcrimpose 1 and their organisms fuse orgonotically, \Ve
are not dealing \Vith propagation, since no new individual will result
from this fusion. Neither are we dealing here with the "quest for
pleasure'' in the psychological sense. The pleasure involved in super-
imposition is the experiential result, and not the driving force of the
act. Let us forget for a 1non1ent all the complicated higher functions
that later are added to nahtral superhnposition. Let us reduce it all
to functioning beyond the individual and even the realm of the
species. Let us penetrate deeply enough to see this function as an
energy process that n1ns a certain course quite autonotnically and
\vith unequivocal effect. If \Ve do this, then we clearly sec in it a
trans-individual event, son1ething that takes charge of life and
goven1s it.
Further careful observation tells us that bio-energetic super-
imposition is closely linked with plasmatic excitation and sensations
of current in hvo orgonotic systems, be they children, adolescents,
or grownups. It is absolutely necessary, in order to visualize this
function in its proper aspects, to abandon all the n1any social, cul-
tural, economic, psychological, and other implications that, in the
case of 1nan, have complicated and all but obliterated its original,
bio-energetic functioning.
Reduced and abstracted in its purest form, superilnposition in
the biological realn1 appears as the approach through attraction and
full bio-energetic contact of hvo orgonotic strea1ns. Me1n branes,
organs, fluids, nerves, \villpo\ver, unconscious dynamics, etc., n1ust
be discounted here, since they do not constitute superimposition.
Superimposition of two orgone strean1s appears as a common func-
tioning principle ( CFP) of nature that fuses two living organisms in
a specific manner-specific to the basic natural function, and not to
the two organisms. In other \Vords, superilnposition of ttvo orgone
energy strearns reaches, as a function, far beyond biology. It gov-
1 Cf. Reich, "Children of the Future," First Report on the Orgonomic In-
fant Research Center, Orgone Energy Bulletin (October, 1950 ), pp. 194-206.
320 \V I L H E L !\I R E I C H

erns other realms of nature, too, as it governs living systems. In

order to find out \vhich rcahns of nature beyond the living reahn are
governed by superin1position of t\VO orgone energy streams, \VC
n1ust not deviate fro1n its basic form and Inoveinent. Orgonometri-
cally abstracted, it is this:

Fig. 2. Basic form of the function "superitnposition"

Its functional characteristics are:

1. T\vo directions of energy flo\v.
2. Convergence ("attraction") and mutual approach of the two
energy streams.
3. Superimposition and contact.
4. Merger.
5. Sharp curving of path of flow.
Finding superin1position in realrns of non-living nature \vould
be a first decisive step to\vard finding a cardinal root of man in
Orgononlic Functionalism. 321

nature, a conunon functioning principle that, already present and

working in nature at large, also pern1eates in a basic fashion the
animal kingdon1, including 1nan.
The follo\ving is a S\vecping generalization. It \vas pointed out
at the very beginning that \vhat \Ve are doing here is no n1ore than
flying high above a vast territory, the exploration of which will
require painstaking, detailed efforts. \Ve are free later on to aban-
don parts of it or the whole aspect, should it resist strictest observa-
tional and experimental as \veil as orgonometric scrutiny. We are
also free to construct this fran1e\vork of a future detailed operation,
to retain its general features, its layout, and its basic characteristics
\vhile changing n1ost of its inner detailed constitution. \Ve are free to
leave the confirmation or refutation of this construction to others.
However, we would have to ren1ind anyone \vho would approach a
task of such n1agnitude to be well a\vare of the broad factual back-
ground from \Vhich the frame\vork of this \vorkshop con'struction
en1erged. To those \vho never dare to look into n1icroscopes or at the
sky, who never sit in an orgone energy accumulator and yet are full
of fake "authoritative" opinions about orgonomy, we say in ad-
vance: Step aside and do not disturb most serious \Vork. Keep quiet,
at least!
Years of painstaking observations and functional theory fornla-
tion have hewn t\vo n1ajor path\vays into the reahn of non-living
nature that revealed the function of superimposition to be at work at
the very roots of the universe. One pathway leads into the micro-
cosmos, the other into the macrocosmos. Superin1position is the CFP
that integrates both into one natural function.
Let us begin with the n1icrocosrnic realm. We shall not dwell
too long in it since, though the theoretical outlines seen1 clearly
mar ked, there are many gaps in details essential to a firrn foothold.
The essence of the microcosn1ic fran1e\vork is as follows:
In completely darkened, rnetal-lined orgone energy observation
roon1s we can observe huninating orgone energy units pursuing
certain path\vays as they rnove spinning for\vard through space.
These pathways distinctly show the forrn of a spinning tvave.
\V 1 L II E L ~~ H E l C H

Fig. 3

This \Vas reported on scYeral occasions 1nany years ago \vithout

further elaboration. There is no\v atnple, \veil-reasoned evidence to
the effect that tzco sllch spiraling and excited orgone energy units
attract and approach each other until they superilnpose. Thus:

Fig. 4

It is an essential characteristic of our base of operation to

asstune that the prin1ordial orgone energy ocean is entirely n1ass-
frce. Accordingly, n1ass (inert nulss at first) en1erges from this mass-
free energy substrattun. It seen1s logical further to assun1c that in
the process of superinlposition of tzco nuzss-free, spiraling, and
highly excited orgone energy units, kinetic energy is being lost, tlze
rate of spiraling rnotion decreases greatly, the path of 1nDtion is
sharply curr;ed, and a change takes place fronl long-drawn-out
spinning fortcard totcard circular 1notiou on the spot.
Exactly at this point of the process, inert 1nass emerges fron1
the slo\ved-do\vn tnotion of t\vo or 1nore superiinposed orgone
en<rgy units. It is itninaterial \Vhether \Ve call this first bit of inert
n1ass "atcnn" or "electron" or sotnething else. The basic point is the
Orgononlic Functionalism 323

emergence of inert mass from frozen kinetic energy. This assump-

tion is in full agree1nent \Vith \vcll-kno\vn la,vs of classical physics.
It is also in agreement, as \vill be sho\vn in a different context, with
the quantum theory.
To continue our train of thought, \Ve n1ust further assume that
the material, chemical "particles" that compose the atmosphere have
originally emerged and are still continuously emerging through
superimposition of t\VO or n1ore spinning orgone energy units in the
orgone envelope of the planet. It matters little at this point in \vhat
particular n1anner the different n1aterial units are created from
prin1ordial orgone energy. 'Ve restrict our curiosity to the above-
mentioned basic change:

Fig. 5. Creation of the primordial mass particle ( m)
through orgonotic superin1position

A functional relationship is hereby established between the

spinning n1ove1nent of n1ass-frec or gone energy (OR) and inert
mass ( n1), \vhich also characterizes the relationship of heavenly
bodies spinning in the surrounding orgonc ocean. Spheres or disks
of solid n1atter spin on a spiraling path \vithin a faster-moving,
\Vavy orgone energy ocean, as halls roll for\vard on a faster-n1oving,
progressing \Vater \vave. The exact numerical relationship of the t\VO

movements, though of great ilnportance, does not matter at this

point. vVhat is important is that a functional relationship has been
found betvveen the moven1ents of prhnordial orgone energy and
n1atter that, for the first tirne in the history of astrophysics, makes
cornprehensible the fact that heavenly bodies move in a spinning
manner. Furthermore, it n1akes comprehensible the fact that our
sun and our planets rnove in the same plane and in the same direc-
tion, held together in space as a cohesive group of spinning bodies.
The spinning \vave is the integration of the circular and forward
motion of the planets, of their simultaneous rotation on the N-S axis
and their n1oven1cnt forward in space. The 1noving primal orgone
ocean appears as the prilnordial mover of the heavenly bodies.
Sharply delineated, ne\v astrophysical problen1s arise that can-
not and should not be discussed at this tirne. It is sufficient to have
thern tentatively forrnulatcd:
1. It is necessary to asstune that the first n1aterial particles that
were "created" by superiinposition of t\vo or more orgone energy
units forrn the 1naterial nucleus of gro\vth of the n1aterial body. It
does not 111atter at present \vhether these "core" elements of the
future heavenly body are of a gaseous or of a solid nature, or
whether they possibly go through a process of development from a
gaseous to a solid state. What n1atters is that a starting point for the
development of a heavenly body from priinordial energy has been
hypothetically established.
2. A further logical necessity is the assumption of a GENESIS of
the function of gravitational attraction. The gro\vth of the material
core particle of the future heavenly body \vould be accon1plished on
the basis of the orgono1nic potential. The orgonotically stronger
body attracts sn1aller and \veaker systen1s, such as mass-free orgone
energy units, and other sn1all bits of prin1ordial 1natter as they arise
in the orgone ocean, \vhich surrounds the first gro\ving core. It
\vould be necessary, furthern1ore, to distinguish bet\vcen the or-
gonotic attraction of tvvo energy waves and the gravitational attrac-
tion betvveen t\vo 1naterial bodies, i.e., to establish that primordial
orgonotic attraction changes functionally into gravitational mass-
Orgonomic Functionalism 325

3. From points 1 and 2, we would further have to assume that

the growing material core would be permanently surrounded by an
orgone energy field that from now on would be subject to the gravi-
tational attraction of that core. This would explain the origin of the
orgone envelope of the sun (corona) and of the earth. Both are
clearly visible and are governed by basic orgonomic functions such
as wavy motion from west to east, faster motion of the envelope
than the globe, lumination, blue color, and containment within the
field of attraction of the material core.
4. The mass-free orgone energy stream that surrounds the
material globe must, due to the orgonotic attraction exerted upon it
by the core, separate from the general stream of the cosmic orgone
energy ocean and follow the rotation on its axis of the material
body. Thus, the cosmic ocean, hitherto unitary, splits up into one
mafor and one minor orgone energy stream. This assumption will be
verified by concrete astrophysical functions ( cf. Fig. 6).
5. The gaseous atmosphere that surrounds the heavenly bodies
would necessarily have to emerge through superimposition of mass-
free orgone energy units in the revolving orgone energy envelope.
This necessary assumption would have to be confirmed in due time
by the establishment of the laws that lead from the mass-free
orgone energy units to the atomic weights of the gas particles that
constitute the gaseous atmosphere.
6. It follows that concentration and condensation would in-
crease toward the core of the rotating body, the heavier elements
being located near the center and the lighter elements progressively
nearer the periphery, with the lightest gases-helium, hydrogen,
argon, neon, etc.-being located at the extreme periphery.
7. In this connection, a most striking functional identity must
be mentioned, which so far has not attracted attention in scientific
thinking. The chemical elements that constitute the gaseous atmo-
sphere of the planets are identical to the elements that constitute the
living orgonotic systems. They are: hydrogen (H), oxygen ( 0),
nitrogen ( N), and carbon (C), and their various molecular group-
ings such as C0 2 , H20, CaH 1 20a, etc. This functional identity
must have a deep significance.

C .... Core
P ... Periphery
A .... Atmosphere
OR Orgone envelope
G .... Galactic orgone stream

Fig. 6

The functional identity concerns only the primordial orgone

energy functions and the transformations from primordial mass-free
to secondary n1ass-containing functions. From there on, but not
previously, the \vell-kno\vn la\VS of mechanics and chen1istry are
Orgononz ic Functionalisrn 327

fully valid. They su b1nit to evolution; they have a genesis. The

problem to be solved in detail is HO\V TilE ~1ECIIAN1CAL AND CIIEJ\11-
The advantage of our work-hypothesis, as delineated above, is
quite obvious. To sun1n1arize:
1. It frees us from the clumsy assumption of material bodies
rolling in an "empty space," in a n1erely tnathetnatically approach-
able action at a distance in a "field." The "field" is real, of a
measurable, observable, and thus physical nature. Space is not
empty but is filled in a continuous 1nanner without gaps.
2. It frees us, furthermore, fron1 the uncotnfortable idea that a
gravitational attraction, \vhich never could be demonstrated, is
exerted by the sun over tren1endous distances upon all the planets.
The sun and the planets move in the same plane and revolve in the
same direction due to the movement and direction of the cosmic
orgone energy stream in the galaxy. Thus, the sun does not "attract"
anything at all. It is merely the biggest brother of the whole group.
We have done no more than draw a sketch of the bansition
frotn the n1icrocosmic to the macrocosn1ic function. We shall later
return to superin1position in the macrocosmic realm in greater
detail. But first \Ve 1nust acquaint ourselves with some important
functions pertaining to the function of superimposition in the living
realm, where it \Vas originally discovered.
We shall concentrate upon two basic functions only:
1. The spinning flotv of orgone energy in the living organism
( ''bio-energy").
2. The superirnposition of ttvo orgone energy streams in living
bodies, coPULATION, and the functional meaning of the drive to
genital embrace and orgastic discharge.

The formation of living matter in orgone Experiment XX combines

nun1erous bio-energetic and biofunctional pheno1nena into a single
result of great significance. This experiment reproduces the process
of pri1nary biogenesis, i.e., the origiMl fornwtion of plasmatic, living
1natter through condensation of 1nass-free cosmic orgone energy.
This conclusion derives logically ho1n the fact that organic forms
with all the properties of living 1natter (structure, pulsation, repro-
duction, grotctlz, and developrnent) can be developed by a freezing
process in a clear solution of high orgonotic potency. The subject is
inexhaustible, but it is not our objective to treat it exhaustively. Once
more, I \vould recall the discovery of the American continent by
Columbus. This discovery did not exhaust all past and future possi-
bilities of America. It did open the door to an enormous territory
full of future potentialities. The sa1ne holds true for Experiment
XX. ( Cf. The Cancer Biopathy.)
The schen1a opposite represents approaches to the manifold
functions of nature that \Vere opened up by Experiment XX:
1. The develop1nent of organic forn1s, plasmatic "orgonomes"
( bions).
2. The organization of protozoa ( orgonomia).
3. The formation of biochemical matter: coal, sugar, fat.
4. The furtherance of life and growth as affected by the orgone-
water solution.
In the process of the freezing experirnent, energy is trans-
formed into 1natter. This matter is alive. By means of dehydration or
burning of the flakes, carbon and a sweet-tasting, sugary substance
originate fron1 it. These are gross characteristics to be elaborated in
Fro1n Ether, God and Devil and Cosmic Superimposition, 1973.

Orgono1nic Functionalisrn 329


I Plasmatic orgonomes
1' (biens)

OR GONE ___ ~ Furtherence
orgone- ~- - -
ENERGY of growth


Formation of matter:
coo I, sugar, fat
detail. In this process, frozen orgone energy passes through all
phases of bionous forn1ation revealed by orgone biophysics:
T -forms develop into P A bions through the intake of mass-free
orgone energy; the PA bions grow into larger, rounded shapes
330 \V I L H E L ~l R E I C H

resetnbling sn1all ' eggs"; son1e of these "egg shapes" expand and
become bean-shaped; the bean shapes acquire tnotility and form
protozoa: oncoxo~nA. In n1ove1nent and shape, they look very
n1uch like spern1atozoa. \\'e n1ay assutne that the spermatozoa and
eggs in the n1etazoa are also forn1ed through condensation of orgonc
energy in the genninal tissues. The developtnent of fortned bions
fron1 distilled orgone tcater establishes beyond any doubt the
process of prinuLry formation of organic n1atter from mass-free
or gone.
Bion \Vater is yello\v, ranging in intensity to ahnost a bro\vn. In
this context, one is ren1inded of the yello\v resin produced by trees,
of ycllo\\' honey produced by bees, of the yello\v color of animal
blood serutn, the yello\v of urine, etc. Also of great significance is
the "blood sugar level" in the organistn. Thus the gap in biology,
\vhich up to nO\V contained a n1ystery-nan1ely, ho\v plants convert
''solar energy" into carbohydrates and solid cellulose fortns-is
apparently closed. "Solar energy" is our orgone energy that the
plants absorb directly from the soil, the atmosphere, and the rays of
the sun.
The leaves of evergreen ivy are a case in point. In winter, the
leaves lose their green color, except for the venation, \vhich remains
green. The rest turns a yello\v-bro\vn. In spring, the green expands
fron1 the leaf vessels across the stnooth leaf. This phenomenon
pertnits the asst11nption that in \vinter orgone energy retreats from
the periphery of the leaves; in other \vords, it contracts because of
the cold, to expand again in spring. That portion of the ivy leaves
about to die off is thus revived.
The change fron1 green to yello\v in autumn and from yellow to
green in spring becon1es perfectly con1prehensible in tertns of
orgonotic functioning. According to classical investigations, green is
the result of a tnixture of ycllo\\' and blue. Blue is the specific color
of orgone energy, visible in the atmosphere, ocean, thunderclouds,
"red" blood cells, protozoa, etc., and on orthochrotnatic photo-
graphic plates after irradiation \Vith earth bions.
NO\\' it seems clear that the ycllo,ving of the leaves in autumn
is due to disappearance of the blue fron1 the green, and accordingly,
Orgononzic Functionalisrn 331

the turning to\vard green again in evergreen ivy is due to ne\V

absorption of orgone energy fron1 the atn1osphere. Thus, the green
of leaves is the result of the tnixture of vellO\V resin and blue ahno-

spheric orgone energy.

At present, \Ve \vould like to litnit our investigation to a single
function: the origin of formed living matter fron1 1nass-free, orgone
energy. Right nO\V \Ve are not interested in the chen1ical cotnposi-
tion of these forms.
There is only one assurnption that satisfactorily explains the
origin of motile, fanned living substance in Experiment XX. In the
process of freezing, the 11UlSs-free orgone energy in the fluid con-
tracts, just like living plasma. Hence, this contraction does not
depend on the existence of formed matter. It exists prior to the
forn1ation of matter, as a basic function of cosrnic orgone. The
contraction of orgone energy is accornpanied by condensation, and
condensation is accornpanied by the fornwtion of material particles
of microscopically s1nall diJnension. The classical, tnechanistic con-
cept does not provide for any causal connection bet\veen energy
moven-zent and organismic for1n. Orgone biophysics can prove a
functional connection betu:een forrn of move1nent and form of
living matter.
Primary matter originated in the cosmos, and the process of
tnatter formation apparently continues uninterruptedly. The cosmic
origin of bio-energy is experienced as an equation of "life-earth-sun-
spring." The mechanistic concept knows only atoms and molecules
that combine to form salts and organic bodies. It can explain neither
movement nor formation of living matter because neither the first
nor the second resembles mechanical movements and kno\vn geo-
metric forms in any \vay. In contrast, orgone biophysics operates
with a concrete cosmic energy. It postulates that the functions of
cosmic energy in the realrn of inorganic matter are in harmony tvith
those in the realm of living matter.
In Experiment XX, membranes and then bions are formed from
mass-free orgone energy. They constitute forn1s that cannot yet be
described as "living organisms" in the accepted biological sense, but
they already sho\v the typical shape of living organisrns. This is

clearly apparent in the illustrations of Experiment XX ( cf. Fig. 18).

The forms of most flakes resemble those of fish or tadpoles. Now, if
forms invariably express frozen movement, we may reason, a pos-
teriori, from these forms to the functions of orgone energy. Exact
observation and extensive comparison will show that there exists a
basic fornt of living matter that has no counterpart in classic
geometry. Viewed laterally, this basic form looks as follows:



Fig. 7

Viewed from above or below, the living form is typically as



Fig. 8

Before investigating the bio-energetic function of this form, let

us make sure that it is indeed the biophysical basic form. It clearly
applies to:
1. Plant seeds: \vheat, corn, barley, oats, beans, lentils.
2. Plant bulbs: potato tubers, almond kernels; the pits of
apples, pears, plums, peaches.
3. Animal sperm cells.
Orgonomic Functionalism 333

4. Animal eggs, particularly birds' eggs.

5. Animal embryos.
6. All organs of the animal body: heart, bladder, liver, kidney,
spleen, lung, brain, testicle, ovary, uterus, stomach.
7. Unicellular organisms: paramecia, colpidia, vorticellae,
cancer cells, human vaginal protozoa ( trichomonas vaginalis) etc.
8. Whole animal and plant bodies: jellyfish, starfish, reptiles of
all kinds; the trunk formation of all kinds of birds, fish, beetles;
mammals, including man, etc.
9. Trees in general, as well as each single leaf and blossom;
pollen and pistils of plants.
It is noteworthy that even those organs extending from the
trunk-arms, legs, fins, wings, the head of the snake, the lizard, the
fox, man himself, the fish, etc.-in turn take the form of the "or-
gonome.'' Even the claws and beaks of birds, the air bladder of fish,
the horns of cattle, rams and stags, the shells of snails and mussels
take the form of the "orgonome."
All this points to the work of a natural law of energy, a law that
fundamentally differ~~~~Jrom the geometric laws of classic mecha-
Access to this law of cosn1ic energy must be sought in the
movement of mass-free orgone energy.
Just as the expressive nwvements of living matter are inextric-
ably tied to an enwtional expression that is meaningful in relation to
the world around it, so the form of living matter has a specific
expression too. The point is to read it correctly.
All forms in the realm of living matter can easily be reduced to
the egg form without violating the individual variations of form.
This basic form varies with length, width, and thickness. It may
appear in subdivisions of the same form, as in worms; but whether
as a whole or in part, the basic form of living matter always remains
the same egg form.
Such a consistent uniformity of the organic form must corre-
spond to a fundamental law of nature and a natural law of cosmic
dimensions. For the basic biological form is universal, regardless of
334 \V I L H E L M R E I C H

cliinate or geology. It is as if cosn1ic orgone energy, in organizing

living substance, obeyed only one Ia,v, its O\Vn la\v of motion.
\Ve shall call the specific basic fonn of living tnatter the
ORGONO~IE. Its typical forn1 is the follo\ving generalization of micro-
scopic forn1s from Experin1ent XX.

Fig. 9. Closed orgonome, basic form


\Ve \Vould like to designate as an orgonome that specific form

\Vhich, in its purest shape, is represented by the hen egg.
The orgonotne is neither a triangle nor a square nor a circle; it
is neither an ellipse nor a parabola nor a hyperbola. The orgonomc
Orgonornic Functionalism 335

represents a special, novel geometric figure, a closed plane curve,

not unlike the ellipse \Vith half axes of varying length and \Vidth,
but differing from the ellipse precisely because of the different
length of the large axes.
Let us try to determine ho\v an orgonome originates, orgono-
metrically speaking. T\vo fundamental natural phenomena are
1. The orgastic convulsion.
2. The spinning \vave-Kreiselzcelle ( KR\;v).
We encounter the orgastic convulsion in the entire animal
kingdom. We discern the spinning \Vave (KRW) by observing
abnospheric orgone in the darkroom. The tiny, blue-violet points
glide along specific trajectories, \Vhich I described schematically in
the second volume of The Discovery of the Or gone as follows:

Fig. 10

Let us isolate an individual wave from the KRW path:

Fig. 11

If \Ve place t\VO such spinning \Vaves together \vith their

concave sides, \Ve obtain the kno\vn form of the ellipse:
336 W I L H E L }.I R E I C H

However, if we bend a KRW in the center at point A and bring

the t\VO ends of the KRW-B and B'-togcther, \Ve obtain the egg,
or orgonon1c forn1:

Open orgonome Closed orgonome

(egg form)

Figs. 13 and 14

We could work out thts process in terms of pure trigonometry

without providing orgonc-physical proof. But the orgastic convul-
sion gives us a lJiophysical argument that endo,vs this trigonometric
process with great importance. The n1ost conspicuous phenomenon
Orgonorn ic Funct ionalisrn 337

in the orgasm reflex is the striving of both ends of the torso-the

mouth and the genitals-to con1e closer together. This biophysical
phenomenon indeed put me on the trail leading to the origin of
the orgononw form. In the orgastic convulsion of an aninwl, or in the
swimming motion of the fellyfish, the body seems to sag in the
center, bringing both ends closer together.
The connection of a fundarr _ental biological moven1ent with a
physical movement may, at first glance, seem arbitrary. But such a
connection is justified if it opens the door to an obvious la\vfulness
in biological functioning. To my kno\vledge, the basic form of living
bodies has never been understood. And if the orgasrn reflex pron1ises
us an understanding of the orgonon1e form, we n1ust not reject it.
The similarity of a KRvV to an animal body, viewed laterally, is
indeed startling ( cf. Fig. 13). Detailed proof of this similarity can-
not be presented here but has already been established experi-
If living nwtter is frozen orgone energy, the form of movetnent
of the orgone energy tnust necessarily translate itself into the for7n
of living matter, the orgonon1e for1n. This functional continuity is
hard to find in the realn1 of inorganic 1natter. It is easily under-
standable in the realn1 of living matter. If form is the movement of
energy that is frozen, then the organ form 1nust derive from the
form of movement of cosrnic energy.
Let us return to the orgasm reflex, this rich source of bio-ener-
getic insights:
We found that the orgasm reflex cannot be verbalized in tern1s
of idiomatic language. Its mode of expression, we concluded, \Vas
supra-individual-neither metaphysical nor mystical, but cosmic. In
the orgasm reflex, the highly excited organism attempts to bring
both ends of its torso closer together as if to unite them. If this
interpretation is correct, it must also prove correct in other ca te-
gories of orgone functioning and cannot be limited to the orgasm
reflex alone.
Let us no\v look at the form of the biological orgonome in its
functional connection with the form of plasmatic currents. True to
the principle of the functional identity of all living substance, \Ve
338 \V I L H E L J\f R E I C H

must gather apparently \videly separated functions and look for

their cornn1on denorninator.
Plasn1atic current does not flo\v continuously but in rhythmic
thrusts. lienee \ve speak of PULSATIO~. The pulsation can be plainly
observed in the blood circulation of all n1etazoa. The pulsatory
current of body fluids is the \vork of the organisrnic orgone, a direct
expression of its forn1 of movernent. Frorn the pulsation of body
fluids \VC n1ust reason, a posteriori, that there is a pulsation of orgone
energy. This conclusion is confirn1ed by observing certain protozoa,
in \vhich pulsatory \vaves of excitation pass through the body and
set the protoplasn1 in motion. An1ong \Vorn1s, excitation \vaves of a
pulsatory nature pass fron1 the tail end to the head. The san1e
phenomenon can be seen in certain amoeboid cancer cells. The
follo\ving dra\ving expresses the forrn in \Vhich excitation waves
move in the protoplasrn of these cancer cells:

~ Loco I movement

Inner pu Isa tory

spinning plasma excitation

Fig. 15

Hence \ve must distinguish between t\VO kinds of pulsatory

moven1ents in living n~atter: the pulsatory ,movenwnt of orgone
energy in the organisn1, and its effect, the pulsatory nwchanical
nzovenz.ent of body fluids. \Ve differentiate here bet\veen functional
bio-energetic pulsation and nlechanical pulsation. rrhe 11lechanical
Orgonomic Functionalism 339

pulsation results from the functional pulsation of the orgone, its

spinning for\vard in alternating expansion and contraction.
Since the n1ovement of fluids is n1echanical, it can only be the
expression and consequence of the pulsatory function of orgone
energy. Among the Ro,ving amoebae, the bio-energetic pulsation
coincides completely \Vith the organic flow of fluids. Among the
colpidia and pararnecia, the body is rigid and contains large, mem-
branous fluid-filled vesicles, \vithout flo\ving plasn1. Here the rnove-
ment of energy can be discerned only in the locomotion of the
whole body. If \Ve compare the form of n1oven1ent of the \vaves of
excitation in cancer cells \vith the external form of movement of
trichomonas vaginalis, colpidia, and pararnecia, \Ve find there is a
thrusting, pulsatory rnotion that does not proceed in a straight line
but in the n1anner of a spiral, presenting an overall curvature. We
can connect the individual points of the movement curve and find a
geometric figure that depicts a spinning \Vave ( KRW) and looks
roughly as follows:

Fig. 16

We see that the curve of the plasma current inside the body of
the cancer cell is the same as in the locomotion of the \vhole body of
a colpidium. If we dissect the curve of the orgonotic plasrna current
into its individual parts, \Ve obtain a shape that, laterally viewed,
resembles the form of all living organs and organisms ( cf. Fig.
13 ).
This harmony, in the for1n of movement of the energy particles,
plasma current, orgonotic excitation \vaves, and the shape of the
organs, cannot be mere coincidence. It is obviously governed by a

common law of movement revealed time and again in the individual

forms of motions and structures. Even the elongated earthworm,
which, at first glance, reveals nothing that resembles an orgonome
form turning back on itself, shows the orgonome in the segments.
Furthermore, the earthworm curls up in a manner that looks like the
orgonome of a snail shell ( cf. Fig. 19:3 and 4).
The following diagram illustrates the structuralized, clearly
expressed original movement of the organismic orgone energy in the
gro\vth of a shell:

Fig. 17

Thus \Ve can distinguish three states of orgonotic expressive

1. The spinning 1notion of orgonotic excitation waves, of proto-
plasm, and of the locomotion of protozoa.
2. The orgonome form of animal organs and organisms, i.e.,
frozen orgone movement.
3. The orgonome form of the animal body at rest, as an inter-
mediary state between energy 1novement and solid matter.
\Ve now have a better biophysical understanding of the seg-
Inental arrangen1ent of the orgonotic current in man and of the
segn1ental arrangPinent, or arn1oring, in the biopathic character.

1' -......... _.,.._ . .. ---:'-

. ~ ~ - .-..-.:~ ....: ... :.. .: '_:.

.. .. . .

Fig. 18. Various typical forms of plasmatic Bakes in Ex-

periment )LX, drawn from nature: bio-energetic orgonome
1 2

l . Two extended, open orgonomes, placed together, show the heart form;
also the form of tree and plant leaves, various fruits (plums, etc.), eggs
2. Human earlobe, shells of oysters, clams
3. Curled-up worms, snakes
4. Shell of the snai I
5. Intestines, worms, cate!"pi liars
6. Embryo, stomach, brain, spleen, kidney, liver, pancreas

Fig. 19. Various orgonornc fonns, abstracted

Orgonorn ic Functionalism 343

The plasn1atic (mechanical) and the orgonotic (bio-energetic)

currents in man-blood circulation and excitation \vaves-have the
same rhythn1ic, wavy, and seg1nentary character as observed in the
earthworm. The segn1entary arrangement of the arnloring expresses
the immobilization of individual parts of the wave path, or, to put it
differently, one wave freezes into one formed orgonon1e segment.
Thus the principle of orgone therapy-to proceed al,vays from
the ''head" to the "tail," i.e., to the genitals-acquires its bio-
energetic meaning. As in the earthwonn, the snake, and the plas-
matic cancer cell, the orgonotic waves invariably pass from the tail
end over the back to\vard the head. Bio-energetically, this arrange-
ment of the orgonotic flow makes sense, because it is predicated on
the "forward" movement of the \vhole body in the direction of the
head. In orgone therapy, if we first loosened the armoring at the tail
end, the liberated energy would be blocked at the segn1ent located
farther ahead. But the dissolving of the armor at the head end
eliminates the armor rings at the place totcard tvhich the orgonotic
excitation must flow. \Ve meet the direction of the current, and thus
free the way for its unhindered flo\V, instead of starting to break the
armor at the source of this current. The technique of orgone therapy
did not start out with these biophysical speculations in mind, but
followed purely clinical considerations, e.g., that it would be advan-
tageous to liberate all the energy of the body before mobilizing the
genitals. But, as \Ve no\v see, the clinical and the bio-energetic
aspects of the matter con1bine in a com1non useful function.
Let us now return to our Experiment XX in order to learn more
about the formation of living substance into the orgonome. \Ve nd
plasmatic flakes in \Vhich first circular, then bean-shaped orgonome
forms can be seen. In the bean shape, the orgonome is once more
clearly evident. This orgonome is in motion. Its movements again
have orgonome forn1, as can easily be discerned in the spiral lines of
their progressive movement.
We may now appropriately conclude that through the freezing
process the freely 1noving orgone energy in the fluid is, in very small
part, conve1ted into 1natter by nwn1brane fornlation. Since the

n1ovement of orgone energy is curved, it stands to reason that the

me1nbranes are also curved. Inside the 1nen1branes, mass-free
orgone energy continues to move. Naturally enough, it strives to
expand the n1e1nbrane, as if it meant to burst through the sac in
which it is trapped. There is of course no reasoning involved here,
but rather a contradiction bet\veen the function of the expanding
movement of the n1ass-free orgone and the confining membrane.
Logical deduction den1onstratcs that nothing but a bean shape, our
orgonome, can result fro1n this contradiction between energy How
and restricting me1nbrane.
Of course, the formation of the bean shape does not in any way
satisfy the n1otile in1pulse of mass-free orgone energy inside, an
impulse directed to\vard stretching the curve, i.e., toward moving
a\vay fron1 the spot. Therefore, the local forward moven1ent, whose
basic tendency consists again in stretching, curving, and rhythmi-
cally reverting upon itself, appears for the first time.
The developn1ent of colpidia fron1 primary embryonic vesicles
(Fig. 20) is particularly suited for studying the plasn1atic currents
that are set in n1otion by the orgone energy in the n1en1branous sac.
As soon as a n1embrane has formed around a cluster of bions, the
budding gern1inal vesicle appears. The interior shows a vesicular
structure and a blue glin1mer. The men1brane is taut, but the whole
system is still at rest (Fig. 20:1). That n1otile impulses are freed in
the interior of the "gern1inal vesicle" is shown by a rolling motion of
the vesicles occurring sooner or later. While the 1nembrane rests, the
vesicles at first roll near the periphery, in one direction along the
n1en1brane. The inner cohesion loosens. Along with the rolling
motion in one direction goes a reciprocal attraction and repulsion.
After a \vhile, the direction of the n1oven1ent changes; the vesicular
content reverses its direction. In this n1anner, the bionous content
gains elasticity ( 20:2). The germinal vesicle tau tens more and
more; it grows larger. Gradually the circular forln turns into the egg
for1n, our orgono1ne fornl. The plas1natic current at one end splits
into hvo currents. The t\vo currents converge and continue back-
\vard along the center line ( 20:3). No\v \Ve can clearly distinguish
Orgonornic Functionalisrn 345

two halves of the orgonon1e, each of \V hich assutnes n1orc and tnore
clearly the bean shape, or lateral orgonon1e fonn. After several hours
of strong orgonotic n1otility of the plasn1, the gerrninal vesicle
usually bursts into four ''cotnplett:.~~' colpidia. So far, \Ye cannot
determine \vhether the figure ''four" is the rule or \vhether a diYision
into t\vO colpidia also occurs. \Vhat is iinportant is that the foncard
end of the colpidiu1n is located at the place tchere the current teas
originally directed. The aninuzlcule su;inzs of] locally in the direction
of the original plas1na current ( 20:4). This current has assnrned an
orgonon1e forrn. No\v, \vhen the local moverncnt begins~ the internal
current stops and the anhnal n1oves for\vard as a \vhole in lines that
are slightly curved. The curce of tlze path of locon1otion is identical
with the curve of the ''back,n as illustrated in dra\vings frorn life.
Let us sun1n1arize the processes in the living orgonon1c.
1. The inner n1otility is nourished by \vave-like pulsating or-
gone energy that is trapped in a rnernbranous "sac.;'
2. The n1ovement of the orgone energy is responsible for the
inner motility of the structured bionous substance.
3. Since the inner orgone n1ovcn1ent is confined by the n1e1n-
brane, a curved path of the plasn1a current is produced, in \vhich
\Ve recognize the orgonorne.
4. The "energetic" orgonon1e leads to the fortnation of the
1naterial orgonon1e. The form of the organs reflects the forn1 of the
original energy n1ove1nent.
5. There is a contradiction bet\veen the movement of the
orgone energy and the taut membrane. The men1hranc sharply
deflects the original for\vard moven1ent of the current back,vard.
Since this happens at all the curvatures of the vesicle, the currents
converge to\vard the center and thus produce a division of the
vesicle into four structural orgonon1cs.
6. Once this division is con1plete, \Ve observe the separation
and local for\vard rnove1nent of the individual orgonotnes. The local
n1ovement proceeds in a curved line-a motion \vith alternating
long and short half \Vaves. The n1otion "a,vay fron1 the spot'' is
obviously dictated by the direction of the orgonotic impulses. It is

2 4

a b

l. Germinal vesicle of the colpidium, at rest.

2. Germinal vesicle, with internal motion: Q and Q illustrate the alter-
nating directions of the rotating motion of the tiny energy vesicles.
3. Division of the orgonotic excitation waves; beginning of two argon-
ames. Arrows point to the converging currents.
4. The two closed orgonomes 2 and~ move forward in space into the
open orgonomes and 2.
Fig. 20. Schematic illustration of the development of the
closed orgonome into the open orgonome in the colpidium
Orgono1nic Functionalis1n 347

curved in terms of the "back." The fore end is always located in the
direction of the original orgonotic current.


To summarize: The specific orgonome form of living matter

and its organs results from an opposition bet\veen mass-free orgone
energy and frozen orgone that has become membranous matter.
Mass-free orgone always strives to break beyond the enclosure of
the membrane. The bio-energetic orgonome is extended and open;
the nuzterial orgono1ne is closed. Since the excitation waves of the
bio-energetic orgonon1e move \vithin the limits of the closed mate-
rial orgonome, they necessarily press against the membranous
boundary, as shown in the following drawing:

Mass-free orgone
open orgonome

Direction which
the orgonot i c
excitation is
Frozen orgone,
fore ed to take
c lased orgonome

Fig. 21
348 \V I L H E L 1\-1 R E I C H

This creates a stretching of the orgonome, in which we recog-

nize the basis for all kinds of growth, particularly as shown in the
stretching of the gastrula as it becomes the typical elongated
embryo of a multicellular organism (metazoan).
The function of growth corresponds to the expansion of the
membranes of the closed orgonome. That this indeed involves
expansive functions of mass-free orgone energy can be seen from
the curved protrusions that initiate the formation of every new
organ in the embryo of all animal species. Again, the embryonic
protrusions show the typical form of the orgonome.
The elasticity of the formed body membrane and the presence
or absence of a skeleton determine how much of the original
spinning motion of the bio-energetic orgonome is clearly evident.
But even where a fully developed skeleton and an extensive mus-
cular structure have blotted out the external appearance of the
excitation waves, there is still the rhythmic excitation and current
pulse of the blood circulation, as well as the orgonotic current or
plasma excitation, which are felt subjectively. In the orgasm reflex
the original form of movement of the bio-energetic orgonome is
unmistakably perceived insofar as it seizes the entire organism.
We distinguish the following kinds of SUPERIMPOSITION:

Two open bio-energetic

orgonomes place them-
selves on top of each

Fig. 22a
Orgonotnic Functionalisnz 349
Two open orgonomes
place themselves
side by side

Two closed orgonomes

are superimposed
______) upon each other

Figs. 22b and c

The superimposition of ttvo closed orgonornes is the bio-ener-

getic basis for the superirnposition of ttco organisnzs during copula-
tion ( cf. Fig. 24). In this process, the highly excited tail ends
penetrate each other bodily; the t\vo orgonornes n1erge bio-energeti-
cally to form a single highly charged energy systern. It is character-
istic for the hon1ogeneousness of all processes in the living realn1
that the energy functions of excitation, superin1position, interpene-
tration, and fusion are repeated in the same functions of the
reproductive cells. For, during copulation, spenn cell and egg cell
continue the function of superiinposition and fusion of the n1ale and
the female orgonon1e, although the division of living orgonomes into
male and female individuals rernains tnysterious even fron1 the
standpoint of orgone physics.
Let us no\v try to con1prehend the expressive n1ovetnent of the
orgasm reflex on the basis of the orgonorne as the fundarnental
biophysical forn1 of living n1atter.
It cannot be the function of the orgasn1 reflex, as one n1ight
assume from the purely teleological standpoint, to carry the n1ale
350 \V I L H E L ~1 R E I C H

sen1en into the female genital organ. The orgasm reflex occurs inde-
pendently of the ejaculation of sen1en, because \Ve also find it in the
en1bryo-in the typical for\vard position and convulsion of the tail
end; in the rocking, bio-energetic forward motion of the tail end of
n1any insects, such as \vasps, bees, and btnnblebees, as well as in
the usual position of the pelvis and the hind legs a1nong dogs, cats,
and hoofed anin1als. These examples should suffice to demonstrate
that the orgasn1 reflex has a far more general life function than mere
fertilization. The 1nechanistic and finalistic interpretations do not
\Vork in this area; they are too narrow and do not reach the heart of
the n1atter.
Let us try to interpret the function of the orgasm reflex in terms
of its expressive 1nove1nent.
The living orgonon1e, be it an en1bryo, an insect, or a more
highly organized animal, is essentially characterized by the fol-
First, local fortvard 1notion invariably and logically proceeds in
the direction of the larger and tvider fore end. Second, the genital
organs are invariably and logically located on the ventral side near
the tail end. Third, in a state of orgonotic excitation of the or-
gononle, the genital organ expands through erection in the direction
of the local forward rnotion. Fourth, the movements that cause the
interpenetration and fusion of the rnale and the female genital
organs drive the entire tail end to the fore in a highly energetic
n2anner ( cf. Fig. 23).
These biological phenomena are valid for the animal kingdom
at large, except for those species that have barely progressed
beyond the stage of the primitive orgonome fortn of the jellyfish.
Although they seetn to be far apart, there is nevertheless a close
functional interconnection. It can be found if we are again guided
by the process of orgonotic excitation.
The form and position of vertebrae among vertebrate animals
reveal the direction of orgonotic excitation \vaves during growth:
they al\vays start fron1 the tail end and tnove over the length of the
curved back to\vard the head end. They also follo\v the same direc-
tion during the entire lifetb11e of the organism. Tlris can be experi-

1. Direction of forward n1oven1ent: antennae,

optic peduncles, primary brain vesicles
2. Direction of growth
3. Org-movement"'!continuation of the direction
4. Greatest orgonotic excitation, sharpest
5. Intermediary outbreaks

Fig. 23. Direction and results of rnovernent \vithin the

closed orgonorne (orgasm reflex)
352 \V I L H E L ~:1 R E I C H

enced subjectively if shudders of pleasure or fear pass over one's

back. The fur of frightened anin1als can be seen to "stand on end''
due to contraction of the 111111. erectores pilon1n1 in the direction of
the orgonotic \vave n1otion, leaning fortvard.
As \Ve can see from the dra\ving (Fig. 23), the entire back is
gently curved and as such is in harmony \vith the curved path of the
orgonotic \vaves. Presun1ably, the curve of the \Vave path conditions
the curve of the back, and not the other \vay around. But once the
1naterial, closed orgonome is forrned, it confines the bio-energetic
\Vaves of excitation and forces them to deflect fron1 the original path
of the extended course. It is probable that the generally fronnvard
forrnation of the secondary protrusions during the gro\vth of the
embryo is associated \Vith this process. Here, the essential point is
the opposition bet\veen the rnaterial and the bio-energetic orgonome.
The membrane of the n1aterial orgono1ne returns from the fore end
to the tail end, forn1ing a characteristically \vide curvature. In the
animal embryo the curvature of the orgonome turns in at the neck
to,vard the body center, then turns a\vay from it near the chest.
The curvature of the orgonome forces the excitation waves back
to\vard the tail end. Part of the orgonotic excitation apparently is
indeed deflected to\vard the tail end, but another part pushes
through the n1embrane at the fore end in the direction of the origi-
nal excitation \Vaves of the bio-energetic orgonome.
As long as the directions of the material and the bio-energetic
orgonorne are in harmony, there are no new formations and no
directions of rnoven1ent of the tchole. The body orgone does not
press out\vard from the orgonome sac. Therefore, no organs are
forrned along the length of the backs of animals, no protrusions of
any kind, but neither is there any movernent in the direction of the
back, or any growth. The hurnps on the back of the camel or the
dorsal fins of certain fish are exceptions that remain to be explained.
Grou:th in the vertical (longitudinal) axis and local forward
movernent thus appear as functions of the body orgone energy, the
result of its atte1npt to burst through the confining men1brane sac.
The rnembranc ''goes along," i.e., it expands and thus forms the
protruding sacs of the organs in their priinitive condition.
Orgono1nic Functionalisnl 353

In contrast to the back, \vhere the 1naterial and bio-energetic

orgono1nes are in harn1ony, \VC find at the fore end on the ventral
side a n1ultitude of organ forn1ations of various kinds; the do1ncd
forehead, the nose or snout, chin, breasts, the lin1bs, and the geni-
tals. Now, if our functional concept of organ for1nation is generally
valid, organs formed by protrusion of n1e1nbranes must ahvays
originate at the ventral side, \vhere the direction of the current of
biological energy is deflected fron1 its regular course, i.e., \vherever
the body orgone "strives to break out of the sac" ( cf. Fig. 2:3).
We see fron1 our dra\ving that the progress of the 1nembrane on
the ventral side indeed runs counter to the original and true direc-
tion of the orgone waves. Consequently, we find tin1e and again, at
almost regular intervals-such as in the arrangen1ent of the lirnbs
and the nipples of the breasts-a rhyth1nically recurring tendency to
break through. This contradiction bet\veen n1en1brane and energy
wave reaches its cuhnination at the tail end. The tail end is pointed
and sharp; the 1naterial orgonon1e n1oves sharply for\vard again in
the direction of the forward movement of the \Vaves of excitation.
The strong for\vard propulsion of the tail end an1ong animals,
based on concentrated orgonotic \Vave excitation pressing out\vard,
explains the "genital excitation'' and the orgas1n reflex in a satisfac-
tory and probably complete manner. The over\vhelming pressure of
the orgonotic excitation in the pointed and narro\ver tail end, and
especially in the less spacious genital organs, is explained by the
concentration of orgone \vaves in a narrO\V space. The orgone
energy, deflected fro1n the head to the tail, i.e., opposite its natural
direction, presses tou;ard the genital organ in the original foru;ard
direction, exciting it and forcing it foncard and into erection.
We can nO\V interpret the copulation of anilnals fron1 a func-
tional bio-energetic, i.e., orgonomic, standpoint. The orgone, press-
ing forward and con centra ted in the genital organs, cannot escape
from the membrane. There is only oxE possibility of flotving out in
the intended direction-fusion tcith a second organisnt, in such a
tvay that the direction of excitation of the second organis1n becomes
identical tcith the direction of the orgone tvaves in the first. This
process is actually achieved in orgonotic superimposition, as shown
354 \V I L H E L 1\I R E I C H

by the dra\ving (Fig. 24). We see that, \vith the superiinposition of

the t\vo orgono1nes and with the interpenetration of the genitals, the
pressed and therefore "frustrated" tail end can allo\v its orgonotic
\Vavcs of excitation to fl.o\V in the natural direction, \vithout having
to force then1 back sharply, and that furthennore the space in which
these \vaves can run their course is widened.

GE .... Straight flow of

genital streaming,
merger of d'and!
energy flow.

Fig. 24. Function of "gratification" in genital superimposi-


Our assertion, according to \vhich the orgasm reflex has no

in11nediate linguistic meaning, is correct. Its function lies beyond
language. Yet it expresses so1nething concrete: superiinposition
follo,vs orgonotic interpenetration. The preorgastic body 1nove-
-rnents and especially the orgastic convulsions represent extre1ne
Orgonou1ic FUJlcliotudisnl :35.5

attentpts of the nuiss-free orgone of hoth orgauisnt.s to fuse tcitlz

each other, to reach into each other.
I said earlier that the bio-en('rgetic org<n1on1c ahvays striV('S
beyond the reahn of the 1naterial orgono1ne. \Vhile the energy of
one organistn flotcs into the energy systetn of the second organisnz,
Jnass-free orgone energy actually succeeds in transcending the linzits
of the nuzterial orgononze, i.e., the organisrn, and, by 1nerging 1cith
an orgonotic syste1n outside its otcn, it continues to flotv. This takes
into account the tendency to\vard stretching, to\vard \vidcning the
effectual area of 1nass-free orgone energy. In the ac1ne of excitation,
large quantities of energy are indeed flo,ving out, along \vith genital
substances. This process is connected \Vith the subjective sensation
of "release," ''liberation," or ''satisfaction" (''gratification''). Since
language directly reflects the function of the bio-energetic process,
these \Vords express exactly \vhat happens.
Orgastic longing, tvhich plays such an enornzous role in animal
life, notv appears to express this "striving beyond one's otcn self,n
this "yearning" to escape jro1n the narrow confines of one's otvn
organism. Perhaps here lies the ans\ver to the riddle of \vhy the idea
of dying is so often represented in the orgasn1. In dying, too, the
biological energy reaches beyond the confines of the physical sac in
which it is ilnprisoned. Thus the irrational religious concept of
''liberating death," of "salvation in the hereafter," finds its true basis.
The function that in the naturally functioning organis1n is fulfilled
by the orgasn1 in sexual supcriinposition appears in the arn1ored
organisn1 as the nirvana principle or as the 1nystical idea of salva-
tion. The religious, arn1ored organisn1 expresses it directly: it \vants
to "free the soul fron1 the flesh." The "soul" represents the orgonotic
excitation, the "flesh" the surrounding confining tissues. The concept
of "sinful flesh" has nothing to do \vith these facts. It is a defense
n1echanism in the pornographic structure of the htunan anilnal.
In stunmarizing, \Ve 1nay e1nphasize the sin1plicity of functional
la\vs of living nature as one of their tnain characteristics. Functions
as widely separated as gro\vth, locotnotion, and genital excitation
can be reduced to the con1n1on deno1ninator of the relationship

between mass-free orgone energy and orgone energy that has

become matter. The variations of this functional identity ( con1mon
functioning principle) result secondarily in terms of the location in
which this relationship appears in the organism. The width of the
sac and its position (at the fore or rear end) dictates whether the
deflection of the orgonotic current is expressed as growth energy or
as sexual energy. But, seen functionally, all subsequent functions of
living matter originate in the primal contradiction between the
material and the bio-energetic orgonome. On the basis of this con-
tradiction in living matter, one is even tempted to trace the connec-
tions that form the transition to the "highest" contradictions
between "materialistic" and "spiritualistic'' philosophy. But such an
undertaking transcends the competence of this investigation and
must be left to further research.
We shall encounter again the function of orgonotic superimpo-
sition in the natural realms of biochemistry and astrophysics. For it
is orgonotic superimposition that connects the living organism with
nature surrounding it. Living matter arose from inorganic nature as
a special variation and, in its superimposition, is functionally identi-
cal with it. From here the path leads to the orgonometric investiga-
tion of the functional principle of nature per se.
VI. Orgonc Physics


Orgone Energy (OR) ccrsus f\hlclcar Energy (jVR)
ORANUR (Decernber 19.50-~Iay 19.51)


It is a con1Inon experience in natural-scientific \Vork that one starts

a research project \Vith a certain problen1 in n1ind to be solYed,
and that the actual operation forces its \vay in an entirely different,
unexpected direction. Careful vigilance cotnbined \Yith con1plete
lack of preconceived ideas \vill then achieve in1portant, though
unexpected results. The discovery of the radioactivity of pitch-
blende \vas made this way, and 1nany other discoveries have been
made in a sin1ilar manner. This n1agnificent rationality in true
natural inquiry \Vas at \vork also in the series of oranur expcriincnts
which began to\vard the end of 1950.
As proposed in the first oranur report (Or gone Energy En1er-
gency Bulletin, No. 1, Decernber 19.30), the Oranur Experin1ent
proper had as its primary objective the investigation of possible anti-
nuclear radiation effects in atmospheric orgonc (OR) energy; in
other \Vords, the experin1ents \\'ere planned \Vith the prospect of
finding a po\verful antidote against nuclear ( NR) radiation sick-
ness. On the basis of years of prcYious expcrin1entation and obser-
vation, it \vas assumed that the p(l\Vcrful forces contained in cosn1ic
OR energy \vould neutralize NR radiation and rnitigatc its effects. It
\Vas assumed that "radiation sickness" is the effect of nuclear radia-
tion acting upon living tissues aud blood; this assun1ptio11 \Vas in
accordance \vith the prevalent vie\V of pathology due to radiation.
No\v, the first series of specific oranur cxpcrin1ents did not
fully reach this goal, although seYcral jrnportant and hopeful obser-
From The Oranur Experiment, First Report ( 1947-51), 1951.


vations \Vere made in the intended direction. However, the main

result of the Oranur Experiment proper \Vas the nearly complete
disclosure of the true nature of a type of radiation sickness that has
much in common with \Vhat is known about biological effects of
atomic energy. It \Vas found, beyond any reasonable doubt, that so-
called radiation sickness is not, as heretofore assutned, a direct
result of NR radiation upon living tissue but an imn1ediate expres-
sion of a severe reaction of organisrnic OR energy against the action
of NR radiation.
To explain these astounding results 111 familiar terms of
To a superficial vie\V, an abscess or an inflammation may
appear as the direct result of the invasion of virulent bacteria into
the organism. However, it is well known in organic pathology that
abscess, inflatnmation, high temperature, etc., are due to strong
defensive reactions of the organisn1 against invading infectious
bacteria. Concentration of leucocytes in the invaded area, concen-
tration of blood, and, in severe cases, high-pitched activity of the
heat-regulation systen1 (high temperature) are the immediate
sympton1s in infectious disease.
This clinical exan1ple tnay suffice to give the reader an initial
idea of the first results we achieved. To continue with the analogy:
steeped in the erroneous belief that it is the bacteria which are
acting as the specific factors in abscess fortnation, inflamtnation, and
high tetnperature, \Ve had started \Vith the expectation of finding an
effective agent against infectious bacteria. To our great astonish-
ment \Ve discovered that the bacteria are no more than the eliciting
cause, mere triggers which stir leucocytes, blood concentration in
the area of infection, and the general rise in ten1perature into action.
This reaction on the part of the organism to the infection is in itself
an atternpt at self-cure. flowever, under certain specific conditions,
the process of defensive health reaction can or does turn into the
true killer. We are tncst probably dealing with an organismic re-
action sin1ilar to that of i1n1nunization to an infectious disease.
To anticipate briefly:
Radiation sickness is a specific problctn of the functioning of
Orgone Physics 359

organisn1ic Oil energy and not of NR radiation. The latter is not a

specific cause of radiation sickness. Syrnptorns \vhich app<:ar in the
course of radiation sickness can also corne about \Yithout the action
of NR radiation.
Nausea, hemorrhages, petechiae, general rnalaise, loss of hair,
sclerosis of the skin, decline of the blood function, fatigue, anetnia,
leukemia, and final death are not specific syn1ptorns of radiation
sickness. They are to be found singly or in con1plex syndro1nes in
diseases \vhich \vcre not elicited by overirradiation. The Oranur
Experiment has produced son1e of the \veil-known NR radiation
symptoms, and in addition, sy1nptorns \vhich, as far as we kno\v,
have not been reported by observers of NR radiation effccts-S)'lllp-
tonls which were specifically related to overirradiation by OR
Thus we did not yet, in this first run, find a safe antidote to
radiation sickness, but \ve found the true dynan1ics of this disease
and \vere able to link it con1prchensibly \vith other disease pictures.
These introductory rcn1arks will no\v be substantiated by concrete
facts and observations.
The Oranur Experiinent proper has left too many questions
unanswered to give us a clear-cut idea of all the underlying proc-
esses. This is reflected in the presentation, \vhich is less compact and
systematic than the three preceding reports on the preparatory
oranur experiments. It is hoped that in due time the n1ain body of
the Oranur Experiment \vill reach the san1e degree of clarity and
consistency. The urgency of the subject n1atter made not pren1ature
but less elaborate publication necessary.
Before entering upon the n1ain subject, I \vould like to express
my deep appreciation to n1y assistants, who helped carry out the
dangerous job during the five rnonths of experimentation \vith
oranur. They \vere con1pletely devoted to their tasks; they took
severe criticisn1 at tin1es, \vith the attitude of the n1an or won1an \vho
knows fully what doing a responsible job n1eans; they have exposed
themselves to dangerous conditions and even to possible death
without hesitation or con1plaint; at tin1es they have \Vorked uninter-
ruptedly day and night; and last but not least, they have stood by

all through the task as good friends in a team. I am very grateful to

all of them, and I would like to express 1ny regret that they have
unknowingly become, in these experiments, objects of a threat to
their health and even to their lives.


The oranur project was inaugurated on the basis of several well-

known and con1monly understood premises.
1. Atomic energy (nuclear energy, NR) represents cosmic en-
ergy released from matter through disintegration of the atom, which
is the constituent of the universe in terms of classical and quantum
physics. It is energy after n1atter. Orgone energy, on the other hand,
represents cosmic energy before matter, i.e., energy which has not
been confined in or transformed into solid matter. It is universally
present, penetrates everything, and, as the so-called OR energy
envelop~, surrounds our planet and most likely all other heavenly
bodies (sun's corona, Saturn's ring, etc.). Cosmic OR energy,
moving freely \vithin the living organism, is called bio-energy or
organismic OR energy.
2. From many observations over a period of some fifteen years,
it had been deduced that OR energy and NR energy are antagonistic
to each other. NR energy, according to current views, damages
living functions in the for1n of "radiation sickness," in severe cases
resulting in death. In orgonomic terms, NR energy somehow influ-
ences bio-encrgy and, to a varying degree, affects its functioning.
On the other hand, it \Vas assu1ned that OR energy, in sufficient
concentration and strength, would counteract NR radiation. It
seemed most likely that the spontaneous recovery from radiation
sickness was to be attributed to the OR energy in the organism
getting the upper hand over NR energy.
3. In order to 1nake this interrelationship of atomic and OR
energy more readily co1nprehensible to ourselves and to the world
at large, a parallel \Vas drawn in psychological tern1s to the age-old
notions of the hu1nan mind such as the antagonistic functions of
Orgone Physics 361

"good" and "evil,'' or, meaning the sa1ne, of "God'' and ''devil" ( cf.
Reich, Ether, God and Devil).
Life energy had been discovered in the consistent investigation
of the functions of \vhat, in the animal kingdom, is called "love."
The human 1nind has al\vays conceived of love as being capable of
coping with hate and destruction. It was also always clear that hate
can kill love and that love, in its stn1ggle against evil, can turn into
hate by mere frustration.
To the experimenter in the oranur project, the antithesis of OR
energy and NR energy easily merged \Vith our psychiatric kno\vledge
about emotional functions, which are, in a deep biophysical sense,
truly physical functions. OR energy had never sho\vn any ill effects
on living organis1ns; on the contrary, it \vas sho\vn to be capable of
coping with such afflictions as tissue and blood degeneration by
charging of the organism to a high bio-energetic level. On the basis
of these Inedical experiences, it was assun1ed that "OR energy" or
"life energy" represented in strictly physical tern1s what the layman
is used to calling "good" or "God." Furthern1ore, it has been discov-
ered and confirmed as a piece of well-founded kno\vledge that the
bions or OR energy vesicles \vhich constitute the living substance
also appeared in two antagonistic for1ns, as PA bions and T-bions;
the PA bions are capable of killing the T- or death bacilli. But it is
also true that T-bacilli, highly concentrated or active in bio-ener-
getically weakened tissues, destroy healthy tissue. This \vas learned
from the cancerous shrinking biopathy ( cf. Reich, The Cancer
Thus our background of operation contained t\vo series of
functions which \Vere antagonistic to each other and \Vere amply
represented in human ideology, in microscopic observations, and in
physical functions. Synoptically:
GOOD EVIL ethics
GOD DEVIL religion
LIFE DEATH biology
PA BIONS T-BIONS bio-energet!cs
COSl\IIC ENERGY COS~fiC ENERGY astrophysics, cosmology
before }.!A TTER after }.fATTER
362 \V I L H E L M R E I C II

Though no 1nore than a useful fran1e\vork of thought, this

coordination provided a perfect base of operation and a safe guide-
line into the dark reahns of a dangerous unkno\vn. Its general
htunan and scientific basis see1ned broad and finn enough to serve
as a reliable indication of things to con1e.
~~Ioreuver, extensive \vork on the cancer problem for the past
fifteen years had yielded a rich harvest of various facts about life
functions and their counterparts, the forces of evil and destruction.
A firn1 hold had been established \vith regard to diagnosis of initial
decay and degeneration in living systen1s through such 1neasures as
the 1\cich blood tests and the cultivation and n1icroscopic observa-
tion of the indicators of death, the T-bacilli ( cf. The Cancer
Biopathy ).
Our first report contaius the general outline. No\v let us turn to
the events proper as they began to develop around the middle of
Deccn1ber 19.50 and continued to about the end of May 1951. These
event~, to put it bluntly, represented a knockout blo\v in 111any
directions: \vith respect to physical functions, \vith respect to the
crucial breakthrough into the concrete experimentation, and with
respect to oranur particularly.
The \Vorkcrs \Yho partook in these first steps of oranur all
beca1nc affiicted to various degrees \Vith "oranur sickness''; experi-
Inental mice died; the experilncntal building \vas rendered useless
for several n1onths and possibly pennancntly; all our carefully
designed plans for the project \Vere thro\vn out and had to be
redesigned; crucial physical concepts tottered. Only the open, free,
truly scientific 1nind \Vill be able to follo\v this report \Vithout preju-
dice or fear.


On August 30, 19.50, I had reported at the annual 1neeting of

the Board of Trustees of the \Vilhehn Reich Foundation about the
anti-nuclear possibilities of OR energy ( cf. Orgone Energy Bulletin,
Vol. 3, No. 1, January 1951, pp. 61-63 ).
Orgone Physics 363

During the first \Veek of Decernber 1950, \Ve began to proceed

to\vard effective action.
The n1edical orgonornists in Ne\\' York \Vere alerted through
our educational secretary, Dr. Baker, to stand by after information
\Vas given on our plans.
vVe n1ade it clear, to begin \vith, that there is at present no
ren1edy kno\vn to n1cdicinc in cases of decline of organisn1ic func-
tioning, except for the use of OR energy as den1onstrated in the
cancer biopathy. This, naturally, constih1ted a heavy responsibility
\Vhich fell on our shoulders. 'Ve alone \vere able to find out \vhether
or not OR energy offered any hope in the trcatrnent of NH. radiation
sickness. The U.S.A. faced a dangerous situation in the first days of
December 1950, \Vhcn the disaster in Korea had struck \vith the evil
attack of the Chinese Cornrnunists; \Vith the hands of the U.S.A.
bound by the pledge not to bornb their hinterland in ~lanchuria;
\Vith the English allies still doing business \vith the red dictators;
\Vith the helplessness in the face of the tactics of the red fascists
\vho were far superior in the use of all of the n1ost refined n1ethods
of the ernotional plague; and \vith the terrible experience of the
Chinese aggressors rnaking propaganda through the UN right in
the n1iddle of the U .S ..A., \\bile their forces rnarched in Korea. The
U.S.A. \vas left holding the bag.
I n1ention these social problen1s in order to rnake conlprehen-
sible \vhy I felt in1pelled to set aside rny usual reserve and do
something crucial. This \vas the n1on1ent to rush in to help \Vith
\vhatever \Ve had. It \vas, ho\vever, the first tirne that I started an
experiinent having in n1ind a particular purpose to be achieved.
The following steps \Vere taken:
1. On Decen1ber 1.5, an application for the procurement of
t\venty millicuries Phosphorus P-32 (a radioactive isotope of phos-
phorus) \vas dispatched. In an accornpanying letter to the AEC in
Oak Ridge, Isotope Division, it \vas pointed out that \Ve \vould not
do any routine experirnents \vith radioactive rnaterial such as tracer
\vork or radioactive therapy; that \Ve \vould solely test the effects of
orgone energy on n1ice injected \vith P-32. An accornpanying chart
364 \V I L H E L 1\J: R E I C H

surveyed the plan of treatment of eighty mice In particular. The

main question to be ans,vered \Vas:
2. Preparations \Vere Inade at Organon for the deposit and
disposal of radioactive material P-32. Approximately four millicuries
\Vere to be delivered every two \vccks and kept in a small wooden
cabin some fifty feet away from the main students' laboratory build-
ing. Since Organon is miles a\vay fron1 any populated area (four
miles from Rangeley), there seemed to be no problem with con-
tamination of inhabited areas, water supplies, etc. We planned on
burying the carcasses of the animals used in the experiment several
feet deep in the ground about five hundred yards a\vay from the
laboratory and other buildings at Organon. Injection and dissection
of 1nice was to be done in a small building, separated from the
others, where no one would be present at any other time. The
protective devices which \Ve had ordered, the lead aprons we
possessed, the lead gloves, and the use of strong OR energy
accun1ulators seemed sufficient measures to secure the safety of the
personnel. This was in accordance with what was known at that
tin1e about radiation protection. We had no inkling of \Vhat was in
store for us. In December 1950, before the experiinent started, we
could not possibly have guessed that all these measures would not
work. But, as we found out later, no protection at all was possible in
experiments using OR energy versus NR energy.
3. One of our physicians in Ne\v York offered his services in
contacting various agencies to find out \vhatever he could about the
different materials and the rules for handling them. We had heard
that the AEC \vas particularly strict in its requirements for the
handling of isotopes, and that this strictness \vas not shared by
1nany commercial or even scientific laboratories. In one place \Ve
\Vere told, for instance, that no lead brick shielding \vas necessary in
handling one or hvo millicuries of radium. In many years of study
of the connections bet\veen orgone physics and classical physics, we
have learned that things are not as exact and comtnonly agreed
Orgone Physics 365

upon as has been clain1ed. One cannot find ans\vers to so1ne of the
most elementary questions iu the routine handbooks of ph;sics.
such questions as, for exa1nple, \vhat is the absolute rate of counts
per n1inute ( CP~I) for a mg. of pure racliun1. It is essenthtl to state
these facts. In doing so, I do not 1nean to criticize or to devalue the
labors of our colleagues in other branches of kno,vledge.
4. \Vhile contact \vith the appropriate agencies \vas being
made and application forn1s sent out, I devoted 1nysc:lf to a recapit-
ulation of old observations of NR radiation and its relationship to
OR energy \vhich I had Inade son1e seven to hvelve years ago. I also
began to prepare my base of operation. First of all, the nah1ral
((radioactivity" in all places \Vhere the future experhnentation \vas to
be performed had to be monitored, and the instrun1ents had to be
made ready and calibrated in preparation for the n1ain experilnent.
Here are a fe\v results of these prelin1inary investigations conducted
from Dece1nber 15 to Dece1nber 27, 19.50:

Back- Oraone-
b Orgone-
ground treated treated
CPl\1 radioactiee 1 mccgr.
(no l\7R zinc sulfide radium
No. present) CPl\1 Distance CP~1 Distance
Day A B c
1 40 500 ,1 em. 30,000 1 em.
2 50-70 2-,300 " 20-.30,000 "
3 40-60 3-400 " 30,000 "
4 40-50 4-500 " " 30,000 "
5 40-50 2-300 " " ~-.3~000 10
, em.
6 60-70 60-70 in " " 3-4,000 "
(\Vi thin ~~" lead
2-300 free " "
7 60-70 200 in lead " 3-4,000 "
300 free " " 3-4,000 "
0 Orgone accumulator.

These preliininary results n1ay suffice. Lead shielding did not

appreciably reduce the acti\ity. The background counts \Vent up
\vhen radioactive 1naterial \Yas put into an OR energy charger. No
366 \VI L HE L l\1 REICH

attention was paid to this fact, since we knew that OR effects on the
G~I counter vary greatly.
The background activity in the students' laboratory, where the
1nain experin1ent \vas later to be perforn1ed, varied between 40 and
60 CP~L The measurcn1ents were made with an SU-5 Survey ~feter
and a tube Serial No. G-632, Type 6C5, Tracerlab, Inc. ( 30 mg./
em. 2 wall thickness).
These exan1ples are only to give an idea of the basic functions,
and are not a thorough account of the investigation. The high
background count of 40-70 CP~1 was always observed in a concen-
trated OR atmosphere.
\'' c ordered a sample of radio cobalt ( Co-60) fro1n Tracerlab
for the calibration of instruments. The counts from this source
varied greatly and had to be determined in our laboratory. We had
hoped to obtain the counting rate fro1n Tracerlab since we knew
the radioactivity would change and begin to vary a great deal
once its source reached the highly charged orgone energy atmo-
sphere at Organon. The 2.26 X 10- 5 n1illicuries Co-60, with a half life
of 5.3 years, arrived on Dcccn1her 28, 1950. The source \Vas kept
a\vay fro1n the highly charged students' laboratory and rushed to a
place in the OR energy observatory where no sizable OR effect could
reasonably be expected during the short period of a few minutes. At
20:00h ( 8 the background count \vas still only 40--50, i.e.,
nonnal for buildings at Organon. The source was left within the
brass container and yielded 70 CP~1 and 0.016 ~t:R/H ( n1illi-rontgens
per hour) \vith the SU -5 Survey :l\feter. The ionization effect on a
calibrated aluminu1n leaf electroscope \Vas rapid, over ten divisions
( 90 deflection) \vi thin seconds. Spontaneous discharge rate in Org
tilnc during that period \vas approximately 180 seconds per one
division. Thus the ionization effect was quite clear.
In order to protect the source, it \vas \Vrapped in lead foil of
son1c J~ inch thickness. No\v came the first surprise. Three and
a half hours later, at 23:30h, I tested the source again. This time,
though far a\vay from any concentrated OR and outside the
rock and concrete \valls of the observatory, the CP~I amounted to
Orgone Physics 367


METER, DEC. 15, 1950, TO JAN. 10, 1951
Student Jf ouse Observ- Free
lab. house Garage atory Shop space
Date CP~f CP~I CP~I CP~f CP~1 CP~I Remarks
12-15-50 30-50 30-50 30-50 30-50 30-50 30-50 Normal for
12-16-50 30-50 30-50 30-50 30-50 30-50 30-50 ,
12-17-50 30-50 30-40 30-50 50-70 30-40 30-50 ,
12-18-50 30-50 30-50 30-40 50-60 30-50 30-50
12-19-50 40-50 30-50 40-50 40-50 30-50 40-50 ''
12-20-50 30-40 30-40 30-40 30-60~ 30-40 30-40 Oranur
12-27-50 30-40 30--40 30-40 50-70~ 30--40 30-40 ~same
1-3-51 40-50 40-50 50-60 60~ 40-50 30--40 ~sa1ne
Oranur at
1-10-51 30-40 80-90~ 30-50 90~ 40-50 30--40 work since

150, with the 1\t:R/H still at 0.016. Hotvever, the ionization effect
was gone. The NR source had no effect t~lzatsoever on the charged
electroscope beyond its spontaneous OR discharge rate. Since the
NR source had not been exposed to OR and had been carefully
kept a\vay from any OR accumulator, this astounding result
could only be explained by the OR activity of the lead shield-
ing: the lead had been in the OR energy laboratory for rnany years,
and although it itself did not give any counts, it 1nost likely had
eliminated the ionization effect. (The ionization effect did not
return during the following three weeks, even -vvhen the source \Vas
taken out of its brass container and put naked on the plate of the
electroscope.) This, then, was the first major result in the direction
of the expected OR versus NR effect. On the follo\ving day,
December 29, the NR electroscopic discharge rate was even slower
than the OR rate: 300 ( NR) as against 180 (OR) seconds per one
division. By January 2, 1951, the CPl\f \Vith the source shielded in
its capsule of brass had risen to 200, measured \Vith the survey
meter and the autoscaler (Tracer lab). The counts varied greatly
from one measurement to the next: between l.SO and 250 CP::\I as

against 70 upon arrival. Also, the ~1R/H \vent up from the initial
0.016 to 0.02 and 0.04 on the second day. It ren1ained at that level
for several days, having n1ore than doubled its energy output. Also,
the background counts had slowly climbed from 60 CP~1 on the
second day to 100 on the third day. All this ren1ains to be investi-
gated in greater detail.
The rise in background counts did not disquiet us, since for
four years I had worked in an atmosphere yielding 40-70 CPM, with
surrounding OR activities as high as 20,000 counts per second in
high vacuum. Furthermore, it was perfectly clear that it was not the
\veil-shielded, tiny amount of NR activity that \vas responsible for
the increase of the atmospheric energy level but the reaction of the
OR. Though the NR source \vas handled with tongs, and with the
use of lead gloves and aprons, precautions far beyond the estab-
lished health safety require1nents, there was even at that early phase
no way of protecting oneself against the clear-cut high OR activity,
due to its ability to penetrate everything-lead, cen1ent, brick, metal
of any thickness, etc.
I just had to proceed, hoping that ill effects of high OR charge
would continue to be absent.
The Co-60 \vas put into the "discharge funnel" and inserted in
a small 5 X ( 5-layered) OR "shooter" for further OR irradiation of
the NR source. On January 4, 1951, I took the NR source out of its
container and shielding, and measured it naked with two GM
counters. At the autoscaler, it yielded 5,000-6,000 CPM at one centi-
meter distance from the mica window. The rate within its container
\vas around 200-250 CP!\1, and around 0.04 1\IR/H measured with
the SU-5 Survey J\tleter. This rate began to change considerably as
the days passed. The activity was 7,000 CP~1 on January 8, down to
3,000 CPl\1 on the 12th, and somewhat below 5,000 CPl\1, naked, on
the 15th.
The counts per time unit were not constant; they varied so
greatly that the question arose as to how constant other radioactiv-
ity was. The problem of quantitative nuclear radioactivity had never
occupied much place in the franie\vork of orgono1nic research, with
Orgone Physics 369

the exception of the most primitive observations, such as scintilla-

tion, measurement of small an1ounts of radioactivity in the calibra-
tion of instruments, ionization, etc. But no\v, \vhen the question of
influencing NR by OR had come into sharp focus, it \vas of crucial
importance to determine the constancy of NR radioactivity. Unfor-
tunately, in no available book on nuclear radiation could any
definite answer be found.
A vial of radioactive luminescent matter (zinc sulfide) had
been kept in a small OR charger for many years. It had lost its
ionization effect long ago due to the influence of OR. It still
luminated very strongly. I measured the activity \Vith the autoscaler
(scale 4096). The result over several consecutive days \vas nearly
constant at 245,760 CPl\f, increasing occasionally to 307,200 CPl\f.
This seemed a high count for less than a microgram of raditnn as
compared \Vith 500 CPl\f for 2.26 n1icrograms of Co-60.
My wristwatch radiun1 dial, \vhich had soaked up OR energy
for many years, gave bet\veen 40,000 and 45,000 CP~f fairly consis-
tently. I had worn this watch for years, and no ill effects had ever
been observed on my \vrist. The count seemed tremendous for the
minimal amounts of radium on a dial. It was soon found that the
OR influence \vas quite substantial. Radium dials on \vrist\vatches
which had been newly bought and had not been in contact \Vith the
OR atmosphere for any appreciable length of tin1e gave only 3,000-
5,000 CP~L We had to assun1e, but could not ascertain, that the
distribution of radiu1n on \vatch dials \vould be approximately
equal. Yet 1ny wristwatch dial had yielded ten tiines the count of a
new wrishvatch. This was striking.
The dial on the \vristwatch of another \Vorker in the laboratory
who had been in far less contact \vith highly concentrated OR gave
bet\veen 5,500 and 8,000 CPl\f.
All measurements were done \vith the same autoscaler 4096, the
same GM tube, and at the san1e distance, i.e., one centin1eter.
These results, confusing as they \Vere, also disclosed a very
strong influence of OR upon NR. As in so 1nany other instances, we
had to realize that \Ve must learn ane\v, from scratch.
370 \V I L H E L ~~ R E I C H



In order to save time, we decided to order two milligrams of

pure radiun1 and, instead of injecting fluid radioisotopes, to irradi-
ate some of our mice \vith radium. The radiutn, in two one-milli-
gram units (each 8.3 R/H) and each in a separate 3~ inch lead
container, arrived on January 5, 1951. The NR sources were mea-
sured immediately and gave 245,760 CP~f naked at a distance of
one centin1cter. 1 One n1g. radium was designated as a control, to be
left untreated; the other \Vas to be treated \Vith OR energy. The
first, No. I, \vas put into the garage near the observatory on the hill;
the other, No. II, was put into a one-fold, small OR charger on
January .5, 19.51, at 11 :30h. This charger \vas placed in the 20-fold
OR energy accutnulator, \vhich was located in an 18 X 18 foot OR
energy room, lined \vith 26-gauge sheet iron. The experimental hall
of the laboratory, measuring 60 X 70 feet, surrounded the OR
energy roon1, as depicted in the diagram.
The background count, in1mediately before the Ra needle \Vas
put into the charger, \Vas bet\veen 40 and .50 CP~l, which is normal
for this building.
Now \VC made our first major mistake, which, however, was
responsible for the tremendous results \Ve obtained that same day: I
did not personally measure the background count immediately after
the radium needle tvas put into the charger. Had I done so, I \vould
have found a very high count in the hall; I \Vould have immedi-
ately taken the Ra needle out of the charger and the hall, and would
have missed the \Vhole oranur effect. I had not personally measured
the background count right after the beginning of the experiment
because I had measured the activity of the radiun1 before with the
t In the early sun11ner of 1951 \Ve had a third san1ple of radium, one milli-
granl, n1easured in New York before it was brought up to Organon. The count
in Ne\\' York \Vas only 16,000 CP~r naked and 7,000 in ~~ inch lead shielding.
This \\'e did not kno\v, of course, in January 1951.
Or gone Physics 371
250' 200' 150' 100' so 50'

Ro H. Ro I.

1/4 = 10'
C ... 20-fo ld charger G .... garage
OR .... metal-lined orgone room MH .... mouse house
SL ... hall of students' laboratory Ro I. con tro I rod i um
M .... mice Ra II. radium in sma II
.... men i tori ng route OR-charger
S .. shop Obs position of observers

Sketch sho\ving distances of places in students' laboratory

and surroundings from OR energy room and 20-fold

autoscaler and counter tube ( 1nica \Vindow, 2.3 mg./cm. 2 thick-

ness), and had found a count of only 2,457 CP~f with the needle
naked at one-1neter distance. The 20 X accumulator into which the
charger containing the needle had been put 1neasures five feet square
horizontally, i.e., about 1~ meters. The distance bet\veen the outer
walls of the 20X accu1nulator and the metal-lined \valls of the OR
372 \V I L H E L ~f R E I C H

energy roon1 adds another six to seven feet on each side. This n1eans
that the needle of Ra \Vas at a distance of about ten feet on hvo
sides and sornc sixteen feet on a third side from the \valls of the OR
roon1. \''e had the notion that the n1etal lining of the OR energy
roorn itself \vould add son1e shielding. There \vere \Vorkers doing
their jobs outside in the experin1ental hall at a distance of some
thirty feet (i.e., around ten meters) and rnore fron1 the shielded
radiurn needle.
Feeling safe about the distance of the radiurn frorn the outer
hall of the laboratory, \Ve cornmitted a second mistake. '''e left the
needle of Ra in the charger until about 16:30h (the afternoon of
January .5, i.e., for five hours). \Ve had intended to keep the Ra con-
tinuously in the shielded place. \Ve had no inkling of the happenings
that are no\v to be recounted.

Distance in feet
Distance in feet fronl students'
No. Symbol Place-ob;ect from OR roon1 laboratory
1 ~1 mice 40
2 \V \vorker's 23
3 ~1H mouse house 105 50
4 s shop 130 75
5 G garage 145 85
6 NR control 200 150
7 NR+OR radium in 250 200
8 Ob observer's 200 160

The background count had been n1easured at 13:00h by a

technical assistant. It \vas high, 70 to 80 CP~r in the hall. The
assistant failed to report this high background count. At 16:30h,
\vhen I can1e do\vn to the lo\ver laboratory, the air \Vas sticky and
heavy. The background count ran up to 80 CP~r fifty feet a\vay
frorn the Ra needle, and rnounted to several hundred CP~I outside
Orgone Physics 373

the walls of the OR room. The \Vorkers \Vere inunecliatclv ordered

out of the hall. The charge inside the OR roon1 \vas unbea1~able. The
\valls felt "glo\ving" ten to sixteen feet a\vay fro1n \vhere the Ra
needle \Vas located. T'hc portable survey G~l 1neter ~'januned" \vhen
I approached the 20X accumulator. There seetned to be no sense in
counting CP~r's at the moment. The first thing to do \Vas to take
the Ra needle out of the charger in order to calm do\vn the OR
reaction. It \vas not a failure in the battery of the survey 1neter
which had caused the jan1ming. I re1nen1bered similar phenotnena
when I had \Vorked \Vith highly charged counter tubes in the first
GM experin1ents in 1947. If the G:NI 1neter operated again after
having been in the fresh air for a \vhile, the jan1111ing \vould cer-
tainly have been due to blockage of the operation by extreme OR
energy action. The G ~~ survey n1eter actually recovered \vithout
repair after a fe\v minutes in the fresh air, registering the nonnal 30-
50 CP~I background count in the open air. The radiutn \vas de-
posited \vithin the stnall charger in a garage son1e 150 feet a\vay
from the n1etal room. \Ve aired the building right a\vay and hoped
that this \vould remove the high OR charge quickly, but to no avail.
It is still "active" at this date ( J\Jay 1951).
The radium itself did not produce any of the effects described
above \vhen it \vas taken outside into the garage. \Vhereas every
one of us could feel the heaviness of the air, the oppression, the
pulling pains here and there in the body, headaches and nausea
right a\vay \Vithin the OR energy building, no such sensations \vere
felt outside in the vicinity of the radium, even as close as one foot.
Furthermore, to our great astonishn1ent, ventilation did not seem to
remove the oppressive air from the laboratory building. After one-
hour ventilation, it \vas still in1possible to enter the OR energy roo1n,
even though \Ve had removed the radiutn. This teas netv. Usually,
fresh air removes any orgonotic overcharge. Ho\vever, the high
background count in the hall returned to nearly norn1al soon after
the removal of the Ra needle. It sank to 60 CP~r after half an hour's
It is essential to acquaint the reader 1nore fully \vith the subjec-
374 \V I L H E L l\1 R E I C H

tive sensations \vhich all of us experienced long after the removal of

the radium, sensations \Vhich gre\v more intense as the days passed,
\vhenever \\'e came near the orgone energy laboratory, especially the
OR energy roon1, tchich had no NR n1aterial in it. The OR re-
searcher is required to be unimpeded in his perceptions. He relies
on his ilnpressions and sensory reactions to a great extent as guide-
posts into ne\v territory, and \Vhat he thus finds he controls \Vith
objectively operating devices. Both the subjective and the ob;ective
experience are essential and n1ust go together. An emotionally
blocked or "dead" researcher \Vould be co1npletely useless in OR
research. He \Vould only endanger himself and others.
A penetrating salty taste, turning slightly bitter or sour on the
outstretched tongue, \Vas felt by everyone present throughout the
building and even outside the building as far as fifty feet. With
further experin1entation, this unpleasant sensation became more
intense and \vas felt increasingly outside the building in the fresh
All \Yorkers \vho partook in the observations developed more or
less severe conjunctivitis \vithin a fe\v minutes after entering the
All observers reported independently a severe pressure in the
depths of the cheekbone in the region of the exit of the second
branch of the trigemin11" nerve.
~1ost \vorkers became nauseated, lost appetite later on, felt
\Veak; so1ne to the extent of losing control of balance.
A ring-like pressure around the forehead and back into the
occipital region \Vas felt by many observers aln1ost immediately.
The diaphragmatic segment seemed especially sensitive. Pres-
sure, pain, or a strong pulling sensation \vas felt in the epigastrium.
Son1e participants becan1e very pale within a fe\v minutes after
entering the hall. Cold shivers alternated \Vith hot Hashes, as mani-
festations of severe in1pairn1ent of the vagosyn1pathetic equilibrium.
In some cases, the skin became mottled, especially on the
palms. This may suffice until 1nore is reported a bout the following
Orgone Physics 375

The OR energy itself seerned to have changed into a danger-

ous, deadly po\ver. \V c carne to call this effect DOR (Deadly
All \Vork in the building had to be stopped inuncdiately.
Nobody \Vas pern1itted to enter. Those who had certain chores to
fulfill, such as cleaning, filling the oil heaters, or caring for the 1nice
which were left in the experimental hall, were ordered to \VOrk
inside only t\VO to three 1ninutes at a tin1e, then to leave the build-
ing and to "air out" for at least ten minutes. Workers \vho had
sho\\7n great sensitivity to the storn1y orgone reaction \vere told to
stay away entirely. Orgonomic Reich blood tests were done on all
\Vorkers each \Veek, except the t\VO n1aintenance 1nen, \vho, for
personal reasons, refused to have their blood exa1nincd. One of
them \Vas then prohibited from working in the hall at all, and the
other was directed to stay in no longer than t\VO to three Ininutes at
a time. The results of the blood tests \Viii be reported separately.
They were of great theoretical and practical value and opened up
ne\v vistas on the nature of the com1non functions of "oranur sick-
ness" and its relation to leukemia.
We repeated the same cxperilnent from January 5 to January
12, daily, for one hour. On Friday, January 12, we undertook the
last in this series of daily oranur experiinentation. The experin1ental
one milligram of radiu1n \Vas put into the 20x OR charger. It re-
mained there for only half an hour. The results of this last experi-
ment were so severe that they deserve to be reported in greater
Three experin1ental observers remained outside the laboratory
\vithin about a hundred yards. One assistant rushed the experi-
mental piece of radium into the OR energy room and into the 20x
charger. \Ve desisted fro1n 1neasuring \Vith the G~~I survey 1neter
this thne, in order to avoid unnecessary additional exposure. A fe"''
minutes later, we could clearly see through the large windo\vs that
the atmosphere in the laboratory had becon1e "clouded"; it was
moving visibly, and appeared blue to purple through the glass.