Orgone

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Orgone energy accumulator
Orgone energy accumulator with door closed.
(with door closed)
Orgone energy accumulator with door open.
(with door open)
Alternating layers of organic and non-organic materials inside the walls supposedly increase the orgone concentration inside the enclosure relative to the surrounding environment.

Orgone (/ˈɔːrɡn/) is a pseudoscientific[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] spiritual concept variously described as an esoteric energy or hypothetical universal life force. Originally proposed in the 1930s by Wilhelm Reich,[8][9][10] and developed by Reich's student Charles Kelley after Reich's death in 1957, orgone was conceived as the anti-entropic principle of the universe, a creative substratum in all of nature comparable to Mesmer's animal magnetism (1779), to the Odic force (1845) of Carl Reichenbach and to Henri Bergson's élan vital (1907).[11] Orgone was seen as a massless, omnipresent substance, similar to luminiferous aether, but more closely associated with living energy than with inert matter. It could allegedly coalesce to create organization on all scales, from the smallest microscopic units—called "bions" in orgone theory—to macroscopic structures like organisms, clouds, or even galaxies.[12]

Reich argued that deficits or constrictions in bodily orgone were at the root of many diseases, much as deficits or constrictions in the libido could produce neuroses in Freudian theory. Reich founded the Orgone Institute ca. 1942[13] to pursue research into orgone energy after he immigrated to the US in 1939, and used it to publish literature and distribute material relating to the topic for more than a decade. Reich designed special "orgone accumulators"—devices ostensibly collecting and storing orgone energy from the environment—for improvement of general health or even for weather control.[8] Ultimately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) obtained a federal injunction barring the interstate distribution of orgone-related materials, on the grounds that Reich and his associates were making false and misleading claims, and later jailed Reich and destroyed all orgone-related materials at the institute after Reich violated the injunction.[9] Reich rescinded the claim that accumulators could provide orgastic potency,[14] but this was not enough to stop the action.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health lists orgone as a type of "putative energy".[15] After Reich's death, research into the concept of orgone passed to some of his students such as Kelley and later to a new generation of scientists in Germany keen to discover an empirical basis for the orgone hypothesis, (the first positive results of which were provided in 1989 by Stefan Muschenich).[16] There is no empirical support for the concept of orgone in medicine or the physical sciences,[4] and research into the concept ceased with the end of the Institute. Founded in 1982, the Institute for Orgonomic Science in New York is dedicated to the continuation of Reich's work, publishes a digital journal on it and collects corresponding work.[17]

History[edit]

The concept of orgone belongs to Reich's later work, after he immigrated to the US. Reich's early work was based on the Freudian concept of the libido, though influenced by sociological understandings with which Freud disagreed but which were to some degree followed by other prominent theorists such as Herbert Marcuse and Carl Jung. While Freud had focused on a solipsistic conception of mind in which unconscious and inherently selfish primal drives (primarily the sexual drive, or libido) were suppressed or sublimated by internal representations (cathexes) of parental figures (the superego), for Reich libido was a life-affirming force repressed by society directly. For example, in one of his better known analyses Reich observes a workers' political rally, noting that participants were careful not to violate signs that prohibited walking on the grass; Reich saw this as the state co-opting unconscious responses to parental authority as a means of controlling behavior.[18] He was expelled from the Institute of Psycho-analysis because of these disagreements over the nature of the libido and his increasingly political stance. He was forced to leave Germany very soon after Hitler came to power.[19]

Reich with one of his cloudbusters, a device which supposedly could influence weather by altering levels of atmospheric orgone.

Reich took an increasingly bioenergetic view of libido, perhaps influenced by his tutor Paul Kammerer and another biologist, Otto Heinrich Warburg.[20] In the early 20th century, when molecular biology was in its infancy, developmental biology in particular still presented mysteries that made the idea of a specific life energy respectable, as was articulated by theorists such as Hans Driesch. As a psycho-analyst Reich aligned such theories with the Freudian libido, while as a materialist he believed such a life-force must be susceptible to physical experiment.

He wrote in his best known book, The Function of the Orgasm: "Between 1919 and 1921, I became familiar with Driesch's 'Philosophie des Organischen' and his 'Ordnungslehre'... Driesch's contention seemed incontestable to me. He argued that, in the sphere of the life function, the whole could be developed from a part, whereas a machine could not be made from a screw..... However, I couldn't quite accept the transcendentalism of the life principle. Seventeen years later I was able to resolve the contradiction on the basis of a formula pertaining to the function of energy. Driesch's theory was always present in my mind when I thought about vitalism. The vague feeling I had about the irrational nature of his assumption turned out to be justified in the end. He landed among the spiritualists."[21]

The concept of orgone was the result of this work in the psycho-physiology of libido. After his migration to the US, Reich began to speculate about biological development and evolution, and then branched out into much broader speculations about the nature of the universe.[11] This led him to the conception of "bions": self-luminescent sub-cellular vesicles that he believed were observable in decaying materials, and presumably present universally. Initially he thought of bions as electrodynamic or radioactive entities, as had the Ukrainian biologist Alexander Gurwitsch, but later came to the conclusion that he had discovered an entirely unknown but measurable force, which he then named "orgone",[11] a pseudo-Greek formation probably from org- "impulse, excitement" as in org-asm, plus -one as in ozone (the Greek neutral participle, virtually *ὄργον, gen.: *ὄργοντος).[22]

For Reich, neurosis became a physical manifestation he called "body armor"—deeply seated tensions and inhibitions in the physical body that were not separated from any mental effects that might be observed.[23] He developed a therapeutic approach he called vegetotherapy that was aimed at opening and releasing this body armor so that free instinctive reflexes—which he considered a token of psychic well-being—could take over.

Evaluation[edit]

Orgone was closely associated with sexuality: Reich, following Freud, saw nascent sexuality as the primary energetic force of life. The term itself was chosen to share a root with the word orgasm, which both Reich and Freud took to be a fundamental expression of psychological health. This focus on sexuality, while acceptable in the clinical perspective of Viennese psychoanalytic circles, scandalized the conservative American public even as it appealed to countercultural figures like William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.

In at least some cases, Reich's experimental techniques do not appear to have been very careful, or to have taken precautions to remove experimental bias.[24] Reich was concerned with experimental verification from other scientists. Albert Einstein agreed to participate, but thought Reich's research lacked scientific detachment and experimental rigor; and concluded that the effect was simply due to the temperature gradient inside the room. "Through these experiments I regard the matter as completely solved," he wrote to Reich on 7 February 1941. Upon further correspondence from Reich, Einstein replied that he could not devote any further time to the matter and asked that his name not be misused for advertising purposes.

Orgone and its related concepts were quickly denounced in the post-World War II American press.[25] Reich and his students were seen as a "cult of sex and anarchy," at least in part because orgone was linked with the title of his book The Function of the Orgasm, and this led to numerous investigations as a communist[26] and denunciation under a wide variety of other pretexts.[27] He was, as the New York Times later put it, "much maligned".[28] The psychoanalytical community of the time saw his approach to healing diseases as quackery of the worst sort, partly because of his comments about UFOs.[29] In 1954, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration successfully sought an injunction to prevent Reich from making medical claims relating to orgone, which (among other stipulations) prevented him from shipping "orgone devices" across state lines.[30] Reich defied the order and was jailed, and the FDA took that opportunity to destroy any of Reich's books which mentioned orgone, along with research materials and devices.[10][30][31][32]

Some of Reich's observations have been replicated by other researchers. Stefan Müschenich, in his Master's thesis, demonstrated effects of orgone accumulators on test subjects in keeping with Reich's original descriptions, while subjects exposed to a known "dummy box" showed no such effects.[33] As of 2007, the National Institutes of Health database PubMed, and the Web of Science database, contained only 4 or 5 peer-reviewed scientific papers published (since 1968) dealing with orgone therapy.

Some psychotherapists and psychologists practicing various kinds of Body Psychotherapy and Somatic Psychology have continued to use Reich's proposed emotional-release methods and character-analysis ideas.[33][34][35]

In popular culture[edit]

Orgone was used in the writings of several prominent beat generation authors, who were fascinated by both its purported curative and sexual aspects. To that extent, it is heavily associated with the 1950s counterculture movement, though it did not carry over into the more extensive movements of the 1960s.

  • Captain Earth, an anime series, depicted Orgone energy is the source of power and sustenance for the invading aliens, the Kill-T-Gang, who plan to harvest it from the libidos of all humanity. It is also the power behind the Livlaster guns used by the protagonists.[36]
  • Devo, a new wave '80s band, claimed that their iconic energy dome design was used to recycle the wasted orgone energy that flows from a person's head. Devo cofounder Mark Mothersbaugh has said:

We did the red energy dome, which was useful—besides being an icon -- it was a useful icon. You probably know this very well, but your orgone energy goes out the top of your head and it dissipates out the top, but if you wear an energy dome it recycles that energy. It comes back down and showers back down on you and, among other things, you remain manly, shall we say, for maybe another 150 years of your life, probably. I think that's a safe prediction to say that energy domes -- if you wore them constantly, night and day -- which I don't do, but there are people out there who do, not too many of them but there are some. We get e-mails from them, so we know they're out there, those people will probably live about an extra 150 years because of all that orgone energy that they're saving and not wasting away.[37]

  • Dušan Makavejev opened his 1971 satirical film W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism with documentary coverage of Reich and his development of orgone accumulators, combining this with other imagery and a fictional sub-plot in a collage mocking sexual and political authorities.[38] Scenes include one of only "ten or fifteen orgone boxes left in the country" at that time.[39]
  • Evelyn Waugh wrote the novel The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold where an orgone accumulator plays an important role. A neighbour to Mr. Pinfold owns a box, and with it he experiments on Mr Pinfold's wife. Later, in a hallucinatory state, Mr Pinfold imagines that his problems have originated from that box.[40]
  • Hal Duncan wrote the book Ink (The Book of All Hours 2), where one of several alternative realities is orgone-based, and in it orgone ("sexual energy") is used as primary energy source.[41]
  • Hawkwind, a British space rock band released the track "Orgone Accumulator" as the first track on side three of the 1972 live album, Space Ritual.[citation needed]
  • Jack Kerouac wrote in his popular novel On the Road of an orgone accumulator that was treated more as a type of drug than as a medical device: primarily a stimulant, with strong sexual overtones.[42] The 2012 film of Kerouac's novel includes a scene with the device, but adds a small window in the accumulator and a funnel to breathe through.[43]
  • J.D. Salinger would sometimes use an orgone accumulator, according to his daughter.[44]
  • Kate Bush describes in her song "Cloudbusting" the arrest and incarceration of Reich through the eyes of his son, Peter.[45] The 1985 video, in which Donald Sutherland plays Wilhelm Reich during his research and subsequent arrest, features a Foucault pendulum as an alternative method of demonstrating the rotational motion of the earth to prove the heretical view that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe. The Foucault pendulum in this video simultaneously connects and contrasts the disgraced Wilhelm Reich to both of the respected Foucaults, the scientist, Jean Bernard Léon Foucault and the philosopher, Michel Foucault, who had died one year prior to the video in 1984.
  • Orson Bean, American actor and raconteur, was once a proponent of orgone therapy and published a book about it entitled Me and the Orgone.[46]
  • Peep Show, a Channel 4 comedy series, features in the episode "Mark's Women" a cult which defines Orgones as "the invisible molecules of universal life energy which govern our moods and our actions", with negative Orgones being the sources of all the problems in the world.[47]
  • Peter Brock, an Australian racing driver, publicly supported orgone and fitted all Holden Dealer Team specials with a device called the "Energy Polariser", which was said to improve the performance and handling of vehicles through "aligning the molecules" using orgone energy.[48][49]
  • Warren Leight wrote in his play Side Man a scene where Gene and Terry receive an orgone box that Gene's friend's wife made him get rid of.[50]
  • William S. Burroughs was a major proponent of orgone research, who often included it as part of the surreal imagery in his novels. Orgone interested Burroughs particularly because he believed that it could be used to ease or alleviate "junk sickness"—a popular term for heroin withdrawal. This fitted well in the context of his novels, which were usually narrative recreations of his own experiences with narcotics and the Beat life. Burroughs explicitly compares "kicking the habit" to cancer in the novel Junky, and ties it to the use of orgone accumulators. At the time that Burroughs was writing, orgone accumulators were only available from Reich's Orgone Institute in New York, offered for a ten dollar per month donation. Burroughs built his own instead, substituting rock wool for the sheet iron, but believed it still achieved the desired effect.[51]
  • Woody Allen's 1973 comedy science fiction movie Sleeper features an orgasmatron—a cylinder big enough to hold one or two people, containing some future technology that rapidly induces orgasms. This is required as almost all people in the movie's universe are impotent or frigid, although males of Italian descent are considered the least impotent of all groups. It has been suggested that the orgasmatron was a parody of Reich's orgone accumulator.[52][53]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kenneth S. Isaacs (psychoanalyst), 1999: "Orgone—a useless fiction with faulty basic premises, thin partial theory, and unsubstantiated application results. It was quickly discredited and cast away."Isaacs 1999, p. 240.
  2. ^ Bauer 2000, p. 159. Henry H. Bauer, 2000: "Reich's personal charisma seems to have misled some number of people into taking his 'science' seriously. His outward behavior was not inconsistent with that of a mainstream scientific investigator. In the light of everyday common sense rather than of deep technical knowledge, his ideas could seem highly defensible. For those who lack familiarity with the real science of matters Reich dealt with, why would orgone be less believable than black holes, a bounded yet infinite universe, or "dark matter" ...?"
  3. ^ Roeckelein 2006, pp. 517–518. Jon E. Roeckelein (psychologist), 2006: "The current consensus of scientific opinion is that Reich's orgone theory is basically a psychoanalytic system gone awry, and is an approach that represents something most ludicrous and totally dismissible."
  4. ^ a b Isaacs, K. (1999). "Searching for Science in Psychoanalysis". Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy. 29 (3): 235–252. doi:10.1023/A:1021973219022. [orgone is] a useless fiction with faulty basic premises, thin partial theory, and unsubstantiated application results. It was quickly discredited and cast away.
  5. ^ Jon E. Roeckelein (2006). Elsevier's dictionary of psychological theories. Elsevier. pp. 493, 517–518. ISBN 978-0-444-51750-0.
  6. ^ Robert E. Butts (1993). "Sciences and Pseudosciences. An attempt at a new form of demarcation". In John Earman (ed.). Philosophical problems of the internal and external worlds: essays on the philosophy of Adolf Grünbaum. Pittsburgh-Konstanz series in the philosophy and history of science. 1. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-8229-3738-8.
  7. ^ Arthur Wrobel (1987). Pseudo-science and society in nineteenth-century America (illustrated ed.). University Press of Kentucky. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-8131-1632-7.
  8. ^ a b Robert Blumenfeld (2006), "Chapter 6. Willian Reich and Character Analysis", Tools and techniques for character interpretation: a handbook of psychology for actors, writers, and directors, Limelight Series, Hal Leonard Corporation, pp. 135–137, ISBN 9780879103262
  9. ^ a b "Orgone Energy - Wilhelm Reich and the Orgone Accumulator". Retrieved 2008-09-13.
  10. ^ a b Martin Gardner (1957), "Chapter 21: Orgonomy", Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. Popular Science (2, revised, abbreviated ed.), Courier Dover Publications, p. 253, ISBN 9780486203942
  11. ^ a b c Charles R. Kelley Ph.D., "What is Orgone Energy?" 1962
  12. ^ "orgone energy", The Skeptic's Dictionary
  13. ^ DeMarco, Donald; Wiker, Benjamin (2004). Architects of the Culture of Death. Ignatius Press. p. 229. ISBN 9781586170165. Retrieved 2015-01-18. [...] Reich claimed as his great discovery, made in 1939, that at the heart of all matter is a hitherto unknown energy that he called 'orgone'.[...] Three years later he founded the Orgone Institute, where the 'science' of orgonomy would be studied.
  14. ^ "The orgone accumulator, as has been clearly stated in the relevant publications (The Cancer Biopathy, etc.), cannot provide orgastic potency" from Reich, W. (1950, April) Orgone Energy Bulletin 2(2).
  15. ^ http://nccih.nih.gov/health/backgrounds/energymed.htm "putative energy fields (also called biofields) have defied measurement to date by reproducible methods. Therapies involving putative energy fields are based on the concept that human beings are infused with a subtle form of energy. This proposed vital energy or life force is known under different names in different cultures, such as qi ... prana, etheric energy, fohat, orgone, odic force, mana, and homeopathic resonance".
  16. ^ Müschenich, S. & Gebauer, R.: "Die (Psycho-)Physiologischen Wirkungen des Reich'schen Orgonakkumulators auf den Menschlichen Organismus" ("The [Psycho-]Physiological Effects of the Reich Orgone Accumulator on the Human Organism,") University of Marburg (Germany), Department of Psychology, Master's Degree Dissertation, 1986. Published as: "Der Reichsche Orgonakkumulator. Naturwissenschaftliche Diskussion - Praktische Anwendung - Experimentelle Untersuchung" ("The Reichian Orgone-Accumulator. Scientific Discussion - Practical Use - Experimental Testing"), 1987, published by Nexus Verlag, Frankfurt (Also see the published work: Müschenich, Stefan: Der Gesundheitsbegriff im Werk des Arztes Wilhelm Reich (The Concept of Health in the Works of the physician Wilhelm Reich), Doktorarbeit am Fachbereich Humanmedizin der Philipps-Universität Marburg (M.D. thesis, 1995, University of Marburg (published by Verlag Gorich & Weiershauser, Marburg) 1995.
  17. ^ "Bibliographies". The Institute for Orgonomic Science. Retrieved 2019-10-01.
  18. ^ See The Mass Psychology of Fascism and Listen Little Man
  19. ^ Paul A. Robinson, The Sexual Radicals: Reich, Roheim, Marcuse, Paladin, 1972. Previously published as The Sexual Radicals, London: Maurice Temple Smith, 1970. Originally published as The Freudian Left, New York; London: Harper and Row.
  20. ^ James Strick, The Historic Context of Reich’s Laboratory Work, talk summarized at http://www.jackflannel.org/orgonon_2005.html, Archived December 23, 2005[Timestamp length], at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Quoted in Malgosia Askanas, Ph.D. Expose of the Secret and Not-so-secret misery of (An)Orgonomy and Reichianism
  22. ^ Webster's Dictionary[1]
  23. ^ Edward W. L. Smith, The Body in Psychotherapy, Macfarland, 2000.
  24. ^ A critique of Reich's experimental procedure subsequent to the discovery of SAPA bions (retrieved 10/27/09)
  25. ^ Mildred Brady, The New Cult of Sex & Anarchy, article in The New Republic printed 1947
  26. ^ "Wilhelm Reich". NNDB. Retrieved 15 June 2008.
  27. ^ Norman D. Livergood, America, Awake!, Dandelion Books (2002), p.263
  28. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (May 23, 1997). "Dr. Myron Ruscoll Sharaf, 70, Educator and Psychotherapist". New York Times.
  29. ^ Richard Grossinger (1982). Planet Medicine: From Stone Age Shamanism to Post-industrial Healing (revised ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 293. ISBN 0-394-71238-2.
  30. ^ a b "Decree of injunction order (March 19, 1954) by Judge Clifford". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011.
  31. ^ Gardner, Martin. On the Wild Side. Prometheus Books.
  32. ^ Lugg, A. (1987). Bunkum, Flim-Flam and Quackery: Pseudoscience as a Philosophical Problem. Dialectica, 41(3), 221-230.
  33. ^ a b Müschenich, S. & Gebauer, R.: "Die (Psycho-)Physiologischen Wirkungen des Reich'schen Orgonakkumulators auf den Menschlichen Organismus" ("The [Psycho-]Physiological Effects of the Reich Orgone Accumulator on the Human Organism,") University of Marburg (Germany), Department of Psychology, Master's Degree Dissertation, 1986. Published as: "Der Reichsche Orgonakkumulator. Naturwissenschaftliche Diskussion - Praktische Anwendung - Experimentelle Untersuchung" ("The Reichian Orgone-Accumulator. Scientific Discussion - Practical Use - Experimental Testing"), 1987, published by Nexus Verlag, Frankfurt (Also see the published work: Müschenich, Stefan: Der Gesundheitsbegriff im Werk des Arztes Wilhelm Reich (The Concept of Health in the Works of the physician Wilhelm Reich), Doktorarbeit am Fachbereich Humanmedizin der Philipps-Universität Marburg (M.D. thesis, 1995, University of Marburg (published by Verlag Gorich & Weiershauser, Marburg) 1995.
  34. ^ Kavouras, J.: "HEILEN MIT ORGONENERGIE: Die Medizinische Orgonomie (HEALING BY ORGONE ENERGY: Medical Orgonomy)," Turm Verlag (publisher), Beitigheim, Germany, 2005; Lassek, Heiko: "Orgon-Therapie: Heilen mit der Reinen Lebensenergie (Orgone Therapy: Healing by [the] pure Life/Vital energy)," Scherz Verlag (publisher), 1997, Munchen, Germany; Medeiros, Geraldo: "Bioenergologia: A ciencia das energias de vida" (portuguese: Bioenergology: The science of life's energies), Editora Universalista, Brazil
  35. ^ DeMeo, J.: "The Orgone Accumulator Handbook," Natural Energy, 1989
  36. ^ "ANIME REVIEW: Captain Earth - Eps. 1-3". UK Anime Network. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  37. ^ "Mark Mothersbaugh Interview". FECAL FACE DOT COM. Fecal Face. 3 January 2008.
  38. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 15, 2007). "WR -- Mysteries of the Organism :: rogerebert.com :: Great Movies". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
  39. ^ Morris, Gary (July 2011). "Bright Lights Film Journal :: Sweet Movies: Four by Dusan Makavejev". Retrieved 2011-11-13.
  40. ^ Waugh, Evelyn (1973). The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold and Other Stories. Chapman and Hall.
  41. ^ Duncan, HAl (2007). Ink: The Book of All Hours. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 9780345487339.
  42. ^ Kerouac, Jack (1976). On the road. Penguin. p. 152. ISBN 9781101127575.
  43. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0337692/?ref_=sr_1
  44. ^ Most of my father’s health regimens, such as drinking urine or sitting in an orgone box, he practised alone. Homeopathy and acupuncture he practised on us."My father J D Salinger". The Times. London. February 6, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  45. ^ Moy, Ron (September 30, 2007). Kate Bush and Hounds of Love. Ashgate. p. 99. ISBN 0-7546-5798-1.
  46. ^ Bean (2000). Me and the Orgone. American College of Orgonomy. ISBN 9780967967011.
  47. ^ "Jez Joins A Cult - Peep Show".
  48. ^ Robertson, David. "Holden's Brock fall out over energy box". Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  49. ^ "Brock shaping up for a fightback". News.google.com. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  50. ^ Leight (1998). Side Man. Stage & Screen. ISBN 9780739400722.
  51. ^ Burroughs, William S. (2012). Junky. Penguin Books Limited. ISBN 9780141904016.
  52. ^ Kramer, Peter D. (June 27, 2011). "The Great Proselytizer of Orgasm". Slate. Retrieved July 9, 2011. Orgasmatron is Woody Allen's name, in Sleeper, for a parody of Reich's orgone accumulator, a telephone booth-sized plywood and metal box said to store a healing and enlivening force.
  53. ^ Turner, Christopher (July 8, 2011). "Wilhelm Reich: the man who invented free love". The Guardian. Retrieved July 9, 2011. Woody Allen parodied it in Sleeper (1973), giving it the immortal nickname the "Orgasmatron".

External links[edit]