A Skeptical Scrutiny of the Works and Theories of WILHELM REICH

As related to

The DOR Hypothesis

By Roger M. Wilcox

Last modified 27-July-2005

DOR stands for Deadly ORgone.  Reich's DOR hypothesis came from the effects he claimed to discover in his Oranur experiment.  Reich theorized that "good" orgone energy, when exposed to a nuclear radiation source, was antagonized into "evil" DOR.  Reich later came to believe that, in addition to nuclear radiation, other "nasty" things could also turn orgone into DOR — including X-ray machines, TV picture tubes, fluorescent lights, air pollution, and even the emotional muscular armor of a neurotic person.

Reich's belief in orgonomic functionalism, which grew out of dialectic materialism, frequently led him to see different, superficially "opposite" entities as two sides of the same coin.  There were good PA bions and evil T-Bacilli.  There were good expansive actions and evil contracting actions.  And, as orgone energy was supposed to be "good," the source of all life and matter in the universe, the cause of a healthy psyche and a healthy orgasm, etc., it was almost inevitable that Reich would eventually hypothesize the existence of its evil twin: DOR.

Black color

While orgone energy was supposed to be blue, DOR was supposed to be black.  As black as death.

— Portion of article yet to be written. —

Contamination of Orgone Accumulators

As mentioned in my critique of Oranur, Reich believed that an orgone accumulator could become "contaminated" with DOR.  Prolonged exposure to a DOR-heavy environment, such as Reich's laboratory during the Oranur Experiments, would, Reich claimed, permanently turn the once-beneficial orgone accumulator into an evil engine of DOR.  Such an accumulator would no longer concentrate "good" orgone energy inside its walls, but would instead only concentrate DOR there, and would thus be harmful to sit in and would need to be thrown out.

This "DOR pollution" principle is often used by modern orgonomists as an excuse whenever an orgone accumulator fails to perform as Reich claimed they were supposed to perform.  The FDA's failed attempt to reproduce Reich's results with the accumulator, so the orgonomists claim, was because the FDA placed its accumulator next to an X-ray machine.  Anybody who lives in a big city and builds their own orgone accumulator box, and who fails to get the benefits Reich claimed they should be getting, has no excuse to complain because all the smog in their city's air "doubtlessly" contaminated their accumulator with DOR.  Anyone who takes pains to build an accumulator out in the countryside away from city pollution and fluorescent lights, and then runs experiments on his accumulator with negative results, doesn't count because even before the cotton and steel wool came together to form the accumulator box, they still acted as a "weak accumulator" by themselves, and thus could have been contaminated with DOR while they were sitting in the big-city stockyards — or, maybe, the government had secretly conducted an underground nuclear test a few hundred miles away.  Just about any negative result obtained by anybody else's experimentation with an accumulator can be explained away as DOR pollution.

One piece of evidence orgonomists like to tout in favor of this hypothesis is that anyone who sticks his head in an accumulator "contaminated with DOR" will supposedly immediately feel the effects, becoming sick and headachy in a matter of seconds.  If oranur was simply ozone, thus making ozone among the substances that Reich labelled under his vague-umbrella-term "DOR," then this result is not at all surprising.  An organic-and-metallic box sitting in a room filled with ozone will eventually fill up with ozone itself.  And even if such a room is then aired out to remove the ozone, some ozone will remain inside the box simply because the box is an enclosed space.  Ozone will certainly produce the symptoms that Reich called "Oranur sickness" or "DOR sickness."

DOR clouds

Just as Reich believed that water absorbed and held orgone energy, Reich also believed that water absorbed and held DOR.  Certain shapes and configurations of clouds, in Reich's mind, indicated that the cloud had become suffused with DOR.

Unfortunately, Reich doesn't give many details as to how one might distinguish a DOR cloud from the ordinary, non-DOR variety.  In Orgone Energy Bulletin, volume 4, number 4 (Oct. 1952), for example, Reich says that he is going to describe what DOR clouds look like, then goes on to spend paragraph after paragraph describing the stillness and bleakness of the landscape under DOR clouds, the feelings of malaise and distress that people expressed to him under DOR clouds, and the funny Geiger-Müller counter reactions he sometimes observed under DOR clouds, but completely failed to describe the DOR clouds themselves.

From the few descriptions Reich did provide, DOR clouds seem similar to smog clouds.  Air pollution was not well-publicized in Reich's time, and it is entirely possible that Reich was seeing smog clouds and attributing their existence not to the presence of particulate pollutants suspended in the air but to DOR.  Reich claimed that these DOR clouds always coincided with days on which a general feeling of malaise hung in the air, which is consistent with the presence of elevated smog levels, but which is also consistent with an ad-hoc or post-hoc hypothesis for explaining away mood swings.

It is interesting to note that oranur, which Reich believed was DOR created from radioactive materials, had several properties in common with ozone — and that photochemical smog, which may have been the explanation for Reich's DOR clouds, also contains ozone.

It was the presence of these clouds, and Reich's conviction that DOR was responsible for them, that led Reich to develop his cloudbuster.

DOR from emotional armor

Just as Reich believed that muscular armoring was the neurotic character's way of blocking the flow of orgone energy inside their bodies, starting in March of 1952, Reich began to believe that frozen orgone energy in the muscular armor became transformed into DOR.  This formed the basis for his medical DOR buster and is handled more thoroughly in that critique.

— Remainder of article yet to be written. —

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