Monday, 18 June 2012

Reich's Orgasmatron

I just came across this marvellous cover for a book about noted psychoanalyst and nutter Wilhelm Reich, creator of the "orgone energy accumulator" (an insulated box for the witless to sit in and delude themselves that they are accumulating sexual energy for general health benefits) and the similarly useless "cloudbuster". The cover design is the work of Marina Drukman, and is great! (Bear in mind that Reich advocated his patients take off their clothes while he touched them during sessions.)

Click for bigger version; published by Fourth Estate

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

About the "orgasmatron" book, read this:
http://www.orgonelab.org/DeMeoReviewOfTurner.htm

Marc said...

Your summary dismissal of Reich as a fraud and your implication that he was guilty of sexual abuse does make me feel I need to offer a bit of an objection. Given that Reich was a victim of one of the most outrageous acts of censorship in the US, and that he died in prison for the "crime" of having written his books, and the posthumous respect his work received from such thinkers as Michel Foucault, I do feel that one can't dismiss him that easily and that some of those details you mention deserve context. The fact is, any attempt to address "sexual health" (a phrase I imagine he must have helped introduce) continues to get quick ridicule or condemnation, and I am sort of reacting given the current atmosphere in the US where a woman senator gets censored for using the word "vagina" in a debate on reproductive rights, which is the sort of thing that makes me think Reich may continue to be quite relevant...

Peter Jones said...

This book is a mish-mash of uninformed comment and ignorant gossip disguised as scholarship. You don't seem to know it and Turner conceals the fact that there have been two double-blind control trials of the physiological effects of the orgone accumulator that confirm Reich's claims, the real ones, not those Turner alleges he made. Almost all of Reich's scientific experiments have been replicated and confirmed by workers since his death. It is an objective requirement of orgone therapy that the therapist needs to see the patient's musculature and breathing. Hence the undressing down to one's underwear. For further information, please see our website - orgonomyuk.org.uk where there is also a detailed critical review of Turner's book /Orgasmatron Review.

JRSM said...

Peter, I suspect this could get pretty unproductive pretty quickly, but I do also know that of which I speak. I have a degree in psychology, and have looked into Reich's work: controlled tests of his box show nothing more than a placebo effect, and the cloudbuster simply doesn't work. As for the undressing, it's true that I have chosen to put a pretty cynical spin on it, and this may well be unfair.

Marc, it's true that Reich was victimised and suffered terribly in his life. But it's also true that, at least for the early part of his career, he was given a surprising amount of unearned respect based on unproven claims for his ideas. When those claims turned out to be unfounded, it's only fair to say so.

Booketing said...

Amazing cover !!

kunnukun said...

"controlled tests of his box show nothing more than a placebo effect,[...]
Peter Jones said: double blind control trials!
Anyway: No experimental design will do the same job as your own experience.

Marc said...

I think a similar statement could be said about the early respect given to Freud. The Oedipus Complex didn't exactly have a lot of "grounding" to it, and did a lot more damage to some people than any orgone accumulator ever did. No one calls Freud a fraud, though (despite the one-letter difference). Obviously, pointing out that claims are unfounded isn't an issue (though I'm confused to your reference to Reich's "early" work, as my understanding is that his early work--The Mass Psychology of Fascism, his efforts to tie in Marxism and psychology--actually continues to be respected): I indeed doubt there is anything to back up whatever claims he made regarding the origins of cancer, whatever his bion experiments were about, etc. My reaction was to the tone implying that Reich was a pervert and that he had been knowingly committing fraud, which I do not think is fair or correct.

K.M. Weiland said...

Love your great blog! However, I would love it even more (if that's possible!) if you would consider adding a "subscribe by email" feature. Thanks!

JRSM said...

Kunnukun: Double blind control tests are controlled trials. And sadly, personal experience is no guide to scientific truth, otherwise every single belief ever held by a human being would have to be considered true.

Marc, what you say is true. I do believe both that Reich's orgone work was entirely baseless, but that he genuinely believed it to be valid. He may well have been wrong, but he was not a con artist. By "early in his career", I meant in his American career as an orgone enthusiast--I was not very clear myself.

K.M, I will see if I can work out how to do that. Thanks for your kind words!

K.M. Weiland said...

Thanks so much!

JRSM said...

OK, I think that should work--it's near the top of the sidebar. Thanks for the suggestion.

kunnukun said...

"Double blind control tests are controlled trials" AND OFTEN ASSUMED TO EXCLUDE PLACEBO EFFECTS. "And sadly, personal experience is no guide to scientific truth, otherwise every single belief ever held by a human being would have to be considered true." TRUE. NEVERTHELESS ONE CAN TRY TO MAKE EXPERIENCES WHICH INDICATE THESES WITHOUT PROVING THEM.

K.M. Weiland said...

Great! Thank you so much.