A Skeptical Scrutiny of the Works and Theories of WILHELM REICH

As related to

The FDA Injunction against Reich

By Roger M. Wilcox

Last modified 6-September-2003

The outlandish nature of many of Reich's claims, coupled with his attitudes toward sex that chafed against the prudishness of his times, tended to make him unpopular in the eyes of the law.  From 1940-1947, for instance, Reich was under investigation by the FBI for the possibility that he might be engaged in subversive activities, because of his earlier association with the Communist Party.  The FBI investigation found no evidence that Reich or his associates were engaged in any kind of subversive activities.  However, Reich's advocacy of the alleged therapeutic properties of the orgone accumulator, and his sales and rentals of accumulators, orgone shooters, etc., to his patients, caused him to run afoul of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Due in part to a negative article about Reich's work in the 26-March-1947 issue of The New Republic, the FDA initiated an investigation of Reich in the fall of 1947.  At first, they were concerned that Reich might be running some kind of a "sex racket," but the investigation failed to turn up any evidence to that effect.  The situation with orgone accumulators, though, was another matter.  Reich had never come right out and said that an orgone accumulator could cure cancer and impotence, for example, but he did claim that an orgone accumulator would increase the orgone charge of anything inside it, and that cancer and impotence were biopathic illnesses stemming from a dammed-up flow of orgone energy — or an insufficient orgone energy charge — within the body.  A true believer in Reich's work could easily read between the lines and see the obvious conclusion: Reich was really saying that an orgone accumulator could cure cancer and impotence.

On 10-February-1954, the FDA filed a Complaint for Injunction with the U.S. District Court in Maine, seeking to permanently enjoin Reich and his associates from placing orgone accumulators into Interstate commerce.  This Complaint for Injunction made the bald-faced statement that orgone accumulators were not effective in the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of the diseases Reich claimed to be able to treat with it.  Infuriated, Reich fired off a response to the Federal judge, claiming that the Federal courts had no jurisdiction in this matter and going so far as to say:

"My factual position in the case as well as in the world of science of today does not permit me to enter the case against the Food and Drug Administration, since such action would, in my mind, imply admission of the authority of this special branch of the government to pass judgment on primordial, pre-atomic cosmic orgone energy."
"To appear in court as a 'defendant' in matters of basic natural research would in itself appear, to say the least, extraordinary.  It would require disclosure of evidence in support of the position of the discovery of the Life Energy.  Such disclosure, however, would invoke untold complications, and possibly national disaster."
Reich had been told by an attorney — whom he had already dismissed from his service — that such a response to the Court was sufficient in and of itself to absolve Reich from the need to appear in court to defend himself, unless the judge explicitly told him otherwise.  Unfortunately for Reich, that was not the case.  When Reich failed to appear on 19-March-1954, the Judge granted each and every one of the Requests that the FDA had filed in its original Complaint, and a few more that the FDA had tacked on at the last minute without telling Reich about them.

The complete text of the Injunction ordered by the court against Reich can be found at a few locations online, including http://www.orgone.org/wr-vs-usa/wr40319d.htm.  (Of particular interest to Reich proponents and various conspiracy theorists is the fact that some of the orders in the Injunction called for some of Reich's softcover publications to be destroyed by burning, which sounds like Dark Ages censorship to those who don't know the details of the case.)

— Portion of article yet to be written. —

No dissatisfied accumulator users?

Of the many virulent complaints modern orgonomists make about the FDA's campaign against Reich, one of the strongest is that, in the entire case file the FDA compiled against Reich, not one user of an orgone accumulator was on record as being dissatisfied with the results they attributed to the device.  This is seen by orgonomists as evidence that the orgone accumulator works and works wonderfully.

But it is quite easy to deceive oneself.  Patients given placebos in drug trials frequently report dramatic improvements in their conditions and are extremely satisfied with the performance of the pills they are taking — so long as they don't find out that they were only taking empty sugar pills with no real drugs in them.

— Remainder of article yet to be written. —

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