Wilhelm Reich

Wilhelm
Reich
1897
1957

Austrian Psychoanalyst and Author

Author Quotes

You don't believe that your friend could ever do anything great. You despise yourself in secret, even – no, especially – when you stand on your dignity; and since you despise yourself, you are unable to respect your friend. You can't bring yourself to believe that anyone you have sat at table with, or shared a house with, is capable of great achievement. That is why all great men have been solitary. It is hard to think in your company, little man. One can only think 'about' you, or 'for your benefit', not 'with' you, for you stifle all big, generous ideas.

You have no sense of your true duty, which is to be a man and preserve humanity. You imitate wise men so badly and bandits so well. Your movies and radio programs are full of murder.

You let men in power assume power "for the Little Man". But you yourself remain silent. You give men in power or impotent people with evil intentions the power to represent you. Only too late do you realize that again and again you are being defrauded.

You think the end justifies the means, however vile. I tell you: the end is the means by which you achieve it. Today's step is tomorrow's life. Great ends cannot be attained by base means. You've proved that in all your social upheavals. The meanness and inhumanity of the means make you mean and inhuman and make the end unattainable.

You will no longer believe that you "don't count." You will know and advocate your knowledge that you are the bearer of human society. Don't run away. Don't be afraid. It is not so terrible to be the responsible bearer of human society. Inflated leaders would have no soldiers and no arms if you clearly knew, and stood up for your knowledge, that a field has to yield wheat and a factory furniture or shoes, and not arms.

You'll have a good, secure life when being alive means more to you than security, love more than money, your freedom more than public or partisan opinion, when the mood of Beethoven's or Bach's music becomes the mood of your whole life … when your thinking is in harmony, and no longer in conflict, with your feelings … when you let yourself be guided by the thoughts of great sages and no longer by the crimes of great warriors … when you pay the men and women who teach your children better than the politicians; when truths inspire you and empty formulas repel you; when you communicate with your fellow workers in foreign countries directly, and no longer through diplomats...

Your liberators tell you that that your suppressors are Wilhelm, Nikolaus, Pope Gregory the Twenty Eighth, Morgan, Krupp or Ford. And your "liberators" are called Mussolini, Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin. I tell you: "Only you yourself can be your liberator!"

You differ from a great man in only one respect: the great man was once a very little man, but he developed one important quality: he recognized the smallness and narrowness of his thoughts and actions. Under the pressure of some task that meant a great deal to him, he learned to see how his smallness, his pettiness endangered his happiness. In other words, a great man knows when and in what way he is a little man. A little man does not know he is little and is afraid to know. He hides his pettiness and narrowness behind illusions of strength and greatness, someone else's strength and greatness. He's proud of his great generals but not of himself. He admires an idea he has not had, not one he has had. The less he understands something, the more firmly he believes in it. And the better he understands an idea, the less he believes in it.

You beg for happiness in life, but security is more important to you, even if it costs you your spine or your life. Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion; when your thinking will be in harmony with your feelings; when the teachers of your children will be better paid than the politicians; when you will have more respect for the love between man and woman than for a marriage license.

You are Great, Little Man, when you are not small and petty. You are great when you carry on your trade lovingly, when you enjoy carving and building and painting and decorating and sowing, when you enjoy the blue sky and the deer and the dew and music and dancing, your growing children and the beautiful body of your woman or your man, when you learn to understand and think about life.

I had directed drawpipes, connected with the deep well, toward an ordinary star, and the start had faded out four times. There was no mistake about it. Three more people had seen it. There was only one conclusion: The thing we had drawn from was not a star. It was something else; a UFO.

It is an essential part of our social tragedy that people, like farmers, the industrial workers, the medical profession, etc., influence the social process not only by their work, but also — and even predominantly — by political ideologies. For political activity hampers objective, rational activity; it splits professional organizations into warring ideological groups; it disorganizes the industrial workers: it restricts the work of the physician and harms the patients, etc. In brief, political activity prevents precisely what it pretends to achieve: peace, work, security, international cooperation, objective expression of opinion, freedom of belief, etc.

'Mysticism' here means, in the literal sense, a change of sensory impressions and organ sensations into something unreal and beyond this world.

Rooting in work is crucial to any accomplishment. Rooting in mere enthusiasm will in the long run force illusory measures to keep the fires of empty enthusiasm going. And this makes politics and politicians.

The discovery of orgone energy was made through consistent, thorough study of energy functions, first in the realm of the psyche, and later in the realm of biological functioning.

They call you "Little Man", "Common Man"; they say a new era has begun, the "Era of the Common Man". It isn't you who says so, Little Man. It is they, the Vice Presidents of great nations, promoted labor leaders, repentant sons of bourgeois families, statesman and philosophers. They give you your future but don't ask about your past.

You are different from the really great man in only one thing: The great man, at one time, also was a very little man, but he developed one important ability: he learned to see where he was small in his thinking, and actions. Under the pressure of some task which was dear to him he learned better and better to sense the threat that comes from his smallness and pettiness. The great man, then, knows when and in what he is a little man.

I have never heard you complain: "You promote me to be the future master of myself and the world, but you don't tell me how one is to be the master of oneself, and you don't tell me the mistakes in my thinking and my actions."

It is high time for the living to get tough, for toughness is indispensable in the struggle to safeguard and develop the life-force; this will not detract from their goodness, as long as they stand courageously by the truth. There is ground for hope in the fact that among millions of decent, hard-working people there are only a few plague-ridden individuals, who do untold harm by appealing to the dark, dangerous drives of the armored average man and mobilizing him for political murder. There is but one antidote to the average man's predisposition to plague: his own feelings for true life. The life force does not seek power but demands only to play its full and acknowledged part in human affairs. It manifests itself through love, work and knowledge.

Natural work democracy is politically neither "left" nor "right." It embraces anyone who does vital work; for this reason, its orientation is only and alone forward. It has no inherent intention of being against ideologies, including political ideologies. On the other hand, if it is to function, it will be forced to take a firm stand, on a factual basis, against any ideology or political party which puts irrational obstacles in its path. Yet, basically, work democracy is not "against," as is the rule with politics, but "for"; for the formulation and solution of concrete tasks.

Rulers and generals muster their troops. Magnates muster the sums of money which give them power. The fascist dictators muster the irrational human reactions which make it possible for them to attain and maintain their power over the masses. The scientists muster knowledge and means of research. But, thus far, no organization fighting for freedom has ever mustered the biological arsenal where the weapons are to be found for the establishment and the maintenance of human freedom. All precision of our social existence notwithstanding, there is as yet no definition of the word freedom which would be in keeping with natural science. No word is more misused and misunderstood. To define freedom is the same as to define sexual health. But nobody will openly admit this. The advocacy of personal and social freedom is connected with anxiety and guilt feelings. As if to be free were a sin or at least not quite as it should be. Sex-economy makes this guilt feeling comprehensible: freedom without sexual self-determination is in itself a contradiction. But to be sexual means — according to the prevailing human structure — to be sinful or guilty. There are very few people who experience sexual love without guilt feeling. "Free love" has acquired a degrading meaning: it lost the meaning given it by the old fighters for freedom. In films and in books, to be genital and to be criminal are presented as the same thing.

The elimination of individual capitalists and the replacement of private capitalism by state capitalism in Russia has not in the least altered the typical helpless and authoritarian character structure of the masses of people.

Those who are truly alive are kindly and unsuspecting in their human relationships and consequently endangered under present conditions. They assume that others think and act generously, kindly and helpfully, in accordance with the laws of life. This natural attitude, fundamental to healthy children as well as primitive man, inevitably represents a great danger in the struggle for a rational way of life as long as the emotional plague subsists, because the plague-ridden impute their own manner of thinking and acting to their fellow men. A kindly man believes that all men are kindly, while one infected with the plague believes that all men lie and cheat and are hungry for power. In such a situation, the living are at an obvious disadvantage. When they give to the plague-ridden they are sucked dry, then ridiculed or betrayed.

I know that what you call 'God' really exists, but not in the form you think; God is primal cosmic energy, the love in your body, your integrity, and your perception of the nature in you and outside of you.

It is not beyond actual possibilities that men from outer space have landed (or will in the future land) on earth and have begun to breed here for whatever reason they may have had.

Author Picture
First Name
Wilhelm
Last Name
Reich
Birth Date
1897
Death Date
1957
Bio

Austrian Psychoanalyst and Author