|Wilhelm Reich, Orgone Energy, and UFOs
By Peter Robbins © 2011
All of Wilhelm Reich’s many books begin with this particular quotation: “Love, work and knowledge are the wellsprings of our Life. They should also govern it.” This lecture is dedicated to living that idea. It is fair to say that the past century saw more scientific advances than any preceding it. But perhaps its most important single, unified body of scientific knowledge remains its most controversial. The common functioning principle unifying this science, which its pioneering founder, Dr. Wilhelm Reich, named orgonomy, is the study of how energy functions in the living and the non-living realms. Orgonomy offers us groundbreaking applications in fields as diverse as biology, psychology, meteorology, cancer research, sociology, human sexuality, child rearing, political science and ufology, among other areas of study. But orgonomy was not well received into the times it was born. Some of its key findings challenged the basic precepts and physical laws our existing scientific order is built upon, while its bio-energetically based critique of mystical and mechanical thinking would have made it anathema to the majority of people in Western culture. So, it should not surprise anyone to learn that orgonomy has been ignored, distorted, attacked and confounded since it was first codified, by both the scientific mainstream and by establishment thinking.
The perceived threat it represented was so pronounced during the Eisenhower Administration, that more than eight tons of Reich’s hardcover books, monographs and other original literature were consigned to government incinerators because bureaucrats at the Federal Drug Administration had targeted him as a medical fraud. This, to the best of our knowledge, without ever having attempted to replicate any of his published experiments - the prevailing thinking being: Why bother? He was a “quack.” During his lifetime Dr. Wilhelm Reich was the target of attacks from both the right and the left; but his work and his findings were especially reviled by uncomprehending liberals, communists and active Soviet agents, who more than understood the danger his work represented to their cause, especially as articulated in such books as The Mass Psychology of Fascism. Reich’s blasts at Soviet-style communism have often been dismissed as the paranoid delusions of a great mind finally unhinged, but we can confirm that such observations were hyper accurate, and some even prophetic.
But it was Reich’s acceptance of UFOs as a physical reality that dealt his professional reputation its most stunning blow. When you study the progression of his scientific work and thinking, it becomes obvious that his investigation into the phenomenon was merely the logical extension of a common functioning principle that had guided him throughout his almost forty years in professional life; that is, how energy functions in the living and non-living realm.
Nonetheless, one of ufology’s most significant chapters continues to remain one of its least known: in the early nineteen fifties Reich developed the cloud-buster, a simple yet effective apparatus which, when properly employed, was capable of altering weather patterns in the surrounding atmosphere. More, some of these weather modification operations attracted UFOs - first over southern Maine in 1953, then above Arizona in 1954. On December 14 of that year, this series of cloud-busting operations
culminated in what can only be characterized as a “battle” in the skies over Tucson. Wild as these allegations may sound, they were well documented and multiple-witnessed.
What were the scientific dynamics that allowed such a deceptively simple apparatus to alter entire weather fronts? And why did this activity seem to attract the appearance of UFOs? What were the documented specifics of his contacts with the United States Air Force, and of his relationship with Albert Einstein? Is there any reason to suspect that MJ-12 was aware of - or interested in – Reich’s work? And are there any realistic reasons to suspect foul play in his death? This paper draws from a number of printed, archival and human sources (all noted), including correspondence with A.S. Neil and Albert Einstein; Reich’s final book, Contact With Space; and Wilhelm Reich and the Cold War, by my friend and colleague Jim Martin, who is also founder of Flatland Books. I am also indebted to Reich biographer Dr. Myron Scharaf, and to Reich’s long-time first assistant, Dr. Elsworth F. Baker, for having taken the time and for having had the patience to answer many of my questions.
Jerome Eden was an author, educator and ufologist, and used to refer to UFOs as the idiot child of the media. If this characterization is accurate, and many of us would maintain that it is, then I respectfully submit that the truth about Dr. Reich’s UFO-related observations, findings and conclusions are the idiot child of ufology. The intention of this paper is to help familiarize the reader with the specifics of this remarkable episode in Post-War History. To best appreciate this account, however, it is important that we view it in some context. More, that we have a basic understanding of how Reich came to arrive at that quietly historic moment in 1953 when he first pointed a series of long metal pipes at an unknown object high above his rural Maine property and observed that the object reacted as a direct result, then upon re-aiming, react again, and again.
Wilhelm Reich was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1897. His father was a stern government bureaucrat, his artistic mother, was a piano teacher. “Willi” and his brother Robert grew up on the family’s rural estate observing nature and natural-functioning first hand on a daily basis; and both received educations from private tutors. In 1914, the Balkans erupted in flames, and over the next four years World War One swept the empire and the rest of old Europe into oblivion. Reich served with distinction as an artillery officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army until war’s end. With all of the family’s property and holdings vaporized in the empire’s defeat, Reich made his way to Vienna where he enrolled medical school, supporting himself as a tutor for the duration of his studies.
Reich was drawn to Vienna in part because of his intense interest in the pioneering work of Dr. Sigmund Freud. Following his graduation from medical school he became a pupil of Freud’s, then went on to work as Freud’s assistant for the next six years. They parted ways in 1929 when Reich, after much clinical work and observation in the early psychoanalytic tradition, presented case findings to Freud supporting his view that literally all human neurosis were, at the deepest levels, rooted in some form of sexual dysfunction, a radical notion for Victorian Vienna and mental health professionals of the 1920s. Freud and his followers believed that many neuroses had a sexual basis, but certainly not all of them. Reich’s radical view that the social problems of individuals and governments were caught up in the dynamics of sexual repression estranged him from his analyst colleagues. Reich’s departure from the Freudian ranks created a backlash of resentment and the origin of the myth of his mental instability. After all, why else would he have split with the great Freud? The rumormongering and the innuendo begun by former psychoanalytic colleagues would follow him for the remainder of his life.
It was about 1927 when Reich first became involved with the Austrian Communist Party, his intention being to marry the revolutionary mission of their already-existing mental health clinics to those of healthy sexual functioning for workers. Here, responsible sex-education and contraceptives were freely disseminated. The popularity of these “Sexpol” (sex/politics) clinics extended into Germany and then the Soviet Union, and, for a time, they were allowed to thrive. Much to the disappointment and upset of the communists, however, sexually healthy workers and party members tended to put their personal happiness and goals above those of the party, a travesty that could not be allowed to stand: by 1934 Reich had been expelled from the Communist Party, their rationale for his expulsion being that, yes, the once-brilliant young scientist was now manifesting symptoms of insanity. The essence of his alleged mental illness is reflected in this obviously unhinged statement: “This is what I am fighting for: the prevention of emotional human misery by the establishment of a normal and natural - that is, orgastically satisfying - human life in the masses of people.” To any group or individual intent on controlling the lives and thoughts of others, these are the words of a truly dangerous man. The party never forgave him this travesty and efforts to damage his reputation and impugn his work became commonplace from 1934 on.
Later that year, Reich immigrated to Scandinavia. Here he continued with his experiments and therapeutic practice with a core group of colleagues, devoting much of his experimental work and study to the dynamics of cancer formation. His outstanding books The Impulsive Character, Character Analysis, People In Trouble, The Mass Psychology of Fascism and The Cancer Biopathy all came out of this period. Reich immigrated to the United States in 1939 and was invited to join the faculty of New York City’s New School for Social Research the following year. He settled in Forest Hills, a then-quiet district in the Borough of Queens where he went into private practice, wrote, and refined his character analytic therapy, or medical orgone therapy as it became known. Energetic functioning in people was now his primary interest and his key efforts were directed toward dissolving the chronic muscular contractions of his patients: this human “armoring” served to block natural feeling and hold neurotic behavior in place.
The Orgone Energy Accumulator
It was during this time that he discovered the specifically biological energy that he called orgone, and a deceptively simple therapeutic and experimental device that could concentrate the energy and allow it to be measured in a laboratory setting. He named it
the orgone energy accumulator, or ORAC. Thinking individuals in many cultures had long pondered this energy. Early Hindu texts referred to it as the “Prana,” while Victorians named it the “ether,” but the former tended to mystify the concept while the latter mechanized it. The size of the accumulators Reich and his associates constructed over the years varied, from that of a small box up to a large room. However, the ORAC most people are familiar with was designed to hold a single person and was about the size of a small phone booth. A properly constructed accumulator is made up of alternating layers of organic and inorganic material; steel wool and fiberboard were found to be ideal for the purpose. The non-metallic (organic) material tends to attract and hold the atmospheric energy, while the metal (inorganic) also attracts the energy, but unable to absorb it, rapidly reflects the energy. Simply put, the accumulator works on the basis of what Reich termed the orgonomic potential. That is, unlike the conventional energy systems we are accustomed to thinking in terms of, i.e.: electromagnetic energy moves from the stronger system (the source) to the weaker - orgone energy flows from the weaker system to the stronger one.
Sitting in an accumulator has a most perceivable result for many, including myself. The weaker energy field radiating from the inner layer (organic) is drawn to the stronger field of the individual inside. The flow of the field is experienced as a warming or tingling sensation. An individual with a naturally high energetic charge may begin to feel uncomfortable fairly quickly, possibly experiencing some dizziness, or the sensation of some pressure in the head. Any such feelings quickly dissipate when you exit. A person with a low energy charge, however, can remain in an accumulator much longer while feeling little if any difference. The number of layers used in the device’s construction contributes to its relative power; the more layers, the higher the energetic potential. Depending on the person, effects can be felt within a few minutes. A small accumulator can be used to germinate plant seeds at an accelerated rate while a slightly modified version speeds the healing time of wounds and burns. I speak here from many well-documented user and investigative accounts, as well as from personal experience. Therapeutically, sitting in an ORAC has an expansive effect on the organism, especially in terms of the blood vessels. It also increases the bio-energetic level of the person undergoing the experience by charging the tissues and the blood. There is no set or prescribed length of time for its use, though fifteen minutes to half an hour once or twice a day is not an unusual routine.
Reich persevered with experiments designed to isolate and confirm the reality of orgone energy, but, aware of the controversy the announcement of such a discovery might create, he continued to verify his findings without fanfare or public acknowledgement. One of the experiments was calculated to measure the heat inside an ORAC and compare it with the temperature inside a control box. The experiment was named To-T (T oh minus T). Reich and his colleagues observed that a change in the atmosphere would alter the temperature differential, and To-T is a reliable predictor of changes in the weather. If there is a conventional explanation for this temperature differential, one that can be demonstrated under laboratory conditions, I am not aware of it.
The Einstein Affair
In late December 1940, Reich sent a carefully worded letter about his work to Albert Einstein. The letter, written in German, said, in part: “Several years ago I discovered a specific biological energy which in many ways behaves differently from anything that is known about electromagnetic energy. The matter is too complicated and sounds too improbable to be explained clearly in a brief letter. I can only indicate that I have evidence that the energy, which I have called orgone, exists not only in living organisms, but also in the soil and in the atmosphere; it is visible and can be concentrated and measured (emphasis his), and I am using it with some success in research on cancer
therapy.” The physicist responded by letter six days later, apparently intrigued enough to invite Reich to demonstrate the existence of this energy in person. The meeting was arranged through Einstein’s secretary-assistant, Helen Dukas, and set for January 13, 1941.
The two men met for more than four hours that afternoon to discuss Reich’s work and findings. He had brought several experimental devices with him to demonstrate his findings, and Einstein observed the glowing orgone energy for himself through a laboratory apparatus designed for that purpose. Seemingly unwilling to believe his own eyes, the great physicist acknowledged the decided glow, but refused to rule out what he described as “the subjective element.” It was toward the end of their meeting that Reich told Einstein of the measurable heat created inside the ORAC. Conversation then shifted to the implications of such a discovery, something not lost on either scientist. Reich noted in his diary that Einstein’s reaction had been: “That is impossible. Should this be true, it would be a great bomb (to physics).” An understandable reaction, given that the heat differential that had been repeatedly observed by Reich and his assistants during To-T violated the Second Law of Thermodynamics - that is, that equal volumes tend to equalize in temperature. In anticipation of the meeting Reich had noted in his diary: “Orgone constitutes the ‘field’ that Einstein is searching for. Electricity, magnetism, gravitation, etc., depend on its functions.”
Einstein wanted to verify this temperature differential for himself, and Reich returned to Princeton the following week to deliver the necessary equipment. We do not know what Einstein wrote about this meeting, or about Reich. Author Jim Martin noted that Einstein’s archives never responded to any of his information requests, making them the only archive to ignore a research inquiry during the preparation of his book, Wilhelm Reich and the Cold War.
It is fair to say that in 1941 Albert Einstein was the best-known scientist in the world; he had been so since his Theory of General Relativity first began to make worldwide scientific news in 1919. Einstein arrived in America from Germany in 1933, along with his assistant and secretary Helen Dukas. While the FBI was aware of the physicist’s left-leaning sympathies, they strongly suspected Ms. Dukas of being an active asset of Soviet intelligence since at least 1929. Both Ms. Dukas and Dr. Einstein were put under fairly close observation by the FBI from the time that they entered this country. (The FBI would soon begin to build a huge file on Reich as well). Surveillance increased following his joining other physicists in signing a secret letter dated December 30, 1940 advising President Roosevelt to authorize development of an atomic bomb project, this as the Germans might be moving ahead on just such a venture (they were).
Einstein spent a week conducting and studying To-T, and on February 7 wrote Reich that he had confirmed (and reconfirmed) that the accumulator registered an average 0.3-0.4 degree temperature (centigrade) higher than the control box, confirming Reich’s assertion, and the observations of numerous others of the past sixty years. But then one of Einstein’s assistants offered a simple explanation. The differential was caused by “convection” - that is, the difference between the air temperatures under and above the table the accumulator had been placed on: Einstein had set one box on a table and suspended another in the air. He closed the letter, “I hope this (explanation) will awaken your sense of skepticism, so that you will not allow yourself to be deceived by an illusion that can be easily explained. Please have someone pick up your instruments, since they are of some value. They are undamaged. With friendly greetings, A. Einstein.”
Stung, Reich wrote back imploring Einstein to re-conduct the experiment, but this time following the strict protocols devised to eliminate such a false explanation. Reich even describes his having repeatedly and successfully conducting To-T with both boxes buried underground, thus eliminating any possibility of “convection,” but Einstein would hear none of it. Reich thought it as memorable that Einstein had been so willing to accept the first rationale that had come along, as his expressing no interest in re-conducting the experiment under more controlled conditions. The letter ended with a moving plea for some respect and consideration, but no direct response was ever forthcoming. We do not know if Einstein even saw this letter: at the time, all of his mail would have been screened by Helen Dukas, who may have had her own reasons for not wanting Einstein to confirm Reich’s findings. Letters from Reich and his colleagues, and Einstein and his assistants continued to change hands over the next few years, but no resolve was ever achieved.
Jim Martin writes in Wilhelm Reich and the Cold War: “Reich’s letter to Einstein in response to ‘convection’ is the most eloquent example of scientific dialogue I have ever read. Indeed, Reich’s description of the issues involved, the experimental protocols to test the objection, and the design of new experiments to shed light on the question, so inspired me when I first read The Einstein Affair that I set up the experiment at home. I confirmed the basic fact, for myself, and have sought a rational explanation that fit into established physical science, without success. Like so many of Reich’s discoveries, this has been completely ignored, but never experimentally refuted.”
Anyone interested in learning more about this equally compelling and frustrating footnote to the scientific history of the Twentieth Century can secure a copy of The Einstein Affair from the Wilhelm Reich Museum bookstore in Rangeley, Maine. The publication, which contains the complete Reich-Einstein correspondence, includes all the protocols necessary for conducting the To-T experiment; it is written in a manner that will allow any interested layperson to conduct the experiment for his or herself.
Mrs. Brady and the FDA.
The Federal Drug Administration began to build its case against Reich in 1947. The red flag that alerted them to the danger Reich and his work posed to the American people was an extraordinarily vicious smear article written by a far-left-leaning journalist, Mildred Edie Brady. The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich appeared in the May 26, issue of The New Republic; other biased and distorted articles followed. Time Magazine’s offering was entitled The Marvelous Sex Box. Brady’s article was a masterpiece of distortion that attacked Reich’s “sex racket;” while trumpeting an out-and-out lie - namely, that he had stated the orgone accumulator was a cure-all. Mrs. Brady was not your routine freelancer; she was, among other things, a respected member of the drug regulation elite and actively helped to create FDA legislation as early as 1938. She was also a founder of Consumers Union, a communist-dominated organization that had broken away from Consumers Research, Inc. in 1935. Brady was also professionally associated with one of Reich’s lawyers: Arthur Garfield Hays was a Sponsor of Consumers Union. Former Consumers Research board member, J.B. Matthews, wrote that in the nineteen thirties Hays was known to support the Communist Party via its “united front” organizations. Reich was unaware of his attorney’s politics, and of his association with Mrs. Brady.
There is no question that The New Republic article was clearly libelous, and Reich instructed Hays to initiate libel action against Mrs. Brady and the magazine. His medical colleagues agreed and likewise wrote to Brady in support of Reich’s decision. Incredibly, Hays talked his client out of pressing the action, and the scientist, unfortunately, took his counselor’s advice. This proved to be a crucial misstep and other scurrilous articles followed over the years that the FDA quietly went about building its case. Hays never told Reich that he knew and worked with Brady, but in an equally pronounced travesty of justice, one of Reich’s other lawyers, Peter Mills, would go on to become the prosecuting attorney when Reich finally came to trial. But there were greater factors at play here as well. Jim Martin’s tenacious investigative scholarship has established that The New Republic’s owner, Michael Straight, was deeply connected to the members of the Cambridge Five Soviet spy ring, and a legal action against Brady and the publication might well have put Straight on the stand. With Hays successfully convincing Reich to waive any legal action, a trial-based opportunity to reveal the degree to which Soviet intelligence had penetrated British intelligence was lost.
Wilhelm Reich and UFOs
”What do they want for Proof? There is no proof. There are no authorities whatsoever. No president, no academy, court of law, congress or senate on this earth has the knowledge or power to decide what will be the knowledge of tomorrow. There is no use in trying to prove something that is unknown to someone who is ignorant of the unknown, or fearful of its threatening power. Only the good, old rules of learning will eventually bring about understanding of what has invaded our earthly existence.”
Wilhelm Reich: Contact With Space
Reich moved from New York to an area just outside the town of Rangeley in rural southern Maine in the early nineteen fifties. Here he built a new home and laboratory personally designed to integrate home and laboratory into a single, brilliantly practical building, now the home of the Wilhelm Reich Museum. Another laboratory was added soon after for students. This structure was the setting for the so-called Oranur Experiment, a chilling example of the accumulator’s undeniable ability to concentrate energy. The experiment called for the placing of a very small amount of radium in an accumulator, the unexpected result of which was to toxify a surprisingly large area of southern Maine surrounding his home and laboratory, one that took several months