Wilhelm Reich Discussion Group
Friday Afternoons in Huntington Beach

Seeking committed members interested in ongoing discussions                   contact: Jasenn Zaejian, Ph.D.

Discussion Group Details

Prerequisites:  Interest in learning about, exploring, and expanding on Reich's contributions; interest in biophysical therapy, bioenergetics, orgonomy, core energetics, Gestalt therapy, and other somatic therapies. 

Initial reading recommendations:  Character Analysis; review of the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust website;
Reich's accepted biography, Fury on Earth.

The group will function as a seminar and open discussion of Reich's work. The hope is that members will be committed to learn and discuss these very important works to the point where Reich's science and practice of orgonomy is understandable. Members will realize that his work is central to all emerging constructs in energy psychology
and the field of humanistic psychology.

Wilhelm Reich's Partial History and Contributions


Wilhelm Reich, M.D. was a controversial and brilliant student of Freud.  His work provided a central foundation for the subsequent development of Humanistic Psychology.  In the 1920's he became the Vice-Director of Freud's Vienna Polyclinic and director of psychoanalytic training, until he began to have theoretical disagreements with Freud over formulation of the death instinct and the source of neurosis.  Reich went on to develop the technique and practice of Character Analysis.  Character analysis morphed into vegetotherapy, then orgonomy as practiced today. Reich's thinking, perhaps 50 years ahead of his time, was the subject of continual condemnations and castigations as a result of his theoretical formulations, embrace of adolescent sexual hygiene, and disagreements with the mechanistic direction of psychoanalysis.

During the 1930's, along with many other psychoanalysts, he was forced to flee Germany when Hitler came to power. He sought emigration to the U.S.  At the time, Frederick Perls, M.D. (who went on to develop Gestalt therapy) was an analysand of Reich.  He was referred to Reich by the psychoanalyst Karen Horney. The analysis was cut short after the fall of the Reichstag. Reich emigrated to Norway, while Perls emigrated to South Africa.  Reich's theoretical formulations are clearly visible throughout the development of Gestalt therapy, especially in Perls' first book, Ego, Hunger, and Aggression. While in Norway, Reich began publishing his research.  He was met with condemnation and malicious attacks by the professional community in Norway. This caught the attention of the U.S. ambassador to Norway.   Reich applied for and was granted emigration to the U.S.  Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, in 1941, Reich was arrested by the F.B.I. and detained for the next month at Ellis Island as a dangerous alien.  This was the result of a letter from the Norwegian ambassador, falsely claiming Reich was affiliated with the communist party. The communist party had actually expelled Reich, years earlier, because he (Reich) disagreed with their authoritarian tactics.  Following his detention, he was released and settled in the Forest Hills section of Queens, New York where he continued his research into natural life functions, taught at the New School, trained the first level of orgonomists, and saw patients..  He obtained an academic position at the New School For Social Research in Manhattan, teaching  Character Formation: Biological and Sociological Aspects, and Clinical Problems in Psychosomatic Medicine. He then purchased property in Maine named Orgonon, moved there, and developed his orgone research laboratory.

Reich's teaching, philosophy, and practice influenced A.S. Neill, the developer of the Summerhill school system in Great Britain (1921), the precursor of the Montessori School systems in the U.S. Reich was close friends with and had frequent contacts with Neill from 1936, on.

Reich published more than 20 books and journals. Following the publication of a scurrilous article in the New Republic, based on falsehoods by a free lance writer, the Food and Drug Administration investigated Reich.  In 1954, he was charged, tried, and found guilty of contempt of court for alleged failure to respond to a judges order.  Reich actually did respond.  However, his response was ignored by the judge.  He was sentenced to two years in the federal penitentiary where he died before the end of his sentence.  He was the only author in U.S. history to have his books burned by Federal Court order. Reich's story tells of the most egregious act of censorship of scientific research in U.S. history. Copies of many of his publications survived and were republished. A list of extant publications and audio seminar recordings can be found at the WR Museum Bookstore.  His teaching continues on at places like the Institute for Orgonomic Science. Reich changed the nature of understanding about psychotherapy, starting with his character analytic therapy. Today, his influence can be found in many related psychological theories and practices. 

Much of this history has been sanitized from the historical and clinical texts. Ongoing attendance in this discussion group will provide you with a unique experience to learn about what main stream thinking in the field of psychotherapy and character development would prefer to remain suppressed. As with all fields of endeavor, practices arising that are more effective than the mainstream are often maligned as they are too threatening to the livelihood of main stream practitioners.
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