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 can imagine no greater catastrophe than if I were mistaken, and the theory were correct that what I consider secondary instincts or drives are actually primary instincts! Because in that case the emotional plague would rest upon the support of a natural law while its archenemies, truth and sociality, would be relying upon unfounded ethics. Until now both lies and truth have taken recourse to ethics. But only lies have profited because they were able to appear under the guise of truth. Under these circumstances, egoism, theft, petty selfishness, slander, etc., would be the natural rule. (26.july.1943)

In the course of the history of natural science, it always happens that profound or true thoughts or true facts were always either distorted or flattened out. The danger, especially of distortion, is particularly great in the case of orgonomy. We must be scientific, we cannot be political in these matters. And I personally declare that I will be the first to fight with all my strength, with whatever I've got against such a distortion of our principles.

Mistaking insolence for freedom has always been the hallmark of the slave.

Psychic health depends on orgastic potency, i.e., upon the degree to which one can surrender to and experience the climax of excitation in the natural sexual act. It is founded upon the healthy character attitude of the individual’s capacity for love. Psychic illnesses are the result of a disturbance of the natural capacity for love.

The armored person cannot express himself with immediacy because his natural impulses are distorted, fragmented, inhibited, and transformed in the tangled net of his character structure. The armored person perceives himself and the world as complicated because he has no immediate contact, no straightforward relationship to the world around him. The secondary result is that over the years this world becomes actually complicated. Since these complications make an ordered existence impossible, artificial rules in "human intercourse" emerge: rigid mores, customs, rules of etiquette, diplomatic maneuvers.

The stiff, dead, retracted pelvis is one of man's most frequent vegetative disturbances. It is responsible for lumbago as well as for hemorrhoidal disturbances. Elsewhere, we shall demonstrate an important connection between these disturbances and genital cancer in women, which is so common.

Work democracy does not wish to prevent or prohibit anything. Its only intention is the fulfilment of the biological life functions, of love, work and knowledge.

I consider it an error in scientific communication that, most of the time, merely the polished and flawless results of natural research are displayed, as in an art show. And exhibit of the finished product alone has many drawbacks and dangers for both its creator and its users. The creator of the product will be only too ready to demonstrate perfection and flawlessness while concealing gaps, uncertainties and discordant contradictions of his insight into nature. He thus belittles the meaning of the real process of natural research. The user of the product will not appreciate the rigorous demands made on the natural scientist when the latter has to reveal and describe the secrets of nature in a practical way. He will never learn to think for himself and to cope by himself. Very few drivers have an accurate idea of the sum of human efforts, of the complicated thought processes and operations needed for manufacturing an automobile. Our world would be better off is the beneficiaries of work knew more about the process of work and the existence of the workers, if they did not pluck so thoughtlessly the fruits of labor performed by others.

In the course of thousands of years of mechanical development, the mechanistic concept, from generation to generation, has anchored itself deeply in man’s biological system. In so doing, it actually has altered human functioning in the sense of the machine-like. In the process of killing his genital function, man has become biologically rigid. He has armored himself against that which is natural and spontaneous within him, he has lost contact with the biological function of self-regulation and is filled with a strong fear of that which is alive and free.

Most intellectual people do not believe in God, but they fear him just the same.

Reich was not only thrown in prison, but they chopped up all the scientific equipment in his laboratory with axes and burned all of his books in an incinerator. Now that interests me as a civil liberties issue.

The character structure of modern man, who reproduces a six-thousand-year-old patriarchal authoritarian culture is typified by characterological armoring against his inner nature and against the social misery which surrounds him. This characterolgical armoring of the character is the basis of isolation, indigence, craving for authority, fear of responsibility, mystic longing, sexual misery, and neurotically impotent rebelliousness.

The suppression of natural sexual gratification leads to various kinds of substitute gratifications. Natural aggression, for example, becomes brutal sadism which then is an essential mass-psychological factor in imperialistic wars. To take another example: the mass-psychological effect of militarism is essentially libidinous. The sexual effect of a uniform and of rhythmically perfect parades, of military exhibitionism in general, are obvious to the average servant girl, even though they may not be obvious to learned political scientists. Political reaction, however, makes conscious use of these sexual interests. Not only does it create peacock-like uniforms for the men, it uses attractive women in its recruiting campaigns. One only has to remember the recruiting posters with texts like this, "If you want to see the world, join the Royal Navy." The far-away world is represented by exotic women. Why are such posters effective? Because our youth, as a result of sexual suppression, is sex-starved.

Work democracy introduces into liberal thinking a decisive new insight: the working masses who carry the burden of social existence are not conscious of their social responsibility. Nor are they — as the result of thousands of years of suppression of rational thinking, of the natural love function and of the scientific comprehension of living functioning — capable of the responsibility for their own freedom. Another insight contributed by work democracy is the finding that politics is in itself and of necessity unscientific: it is an expression of human helplessness, impoverishment and suppression.

I contend to be a fighter for pureness and truth. I hesitate, because I am afraid of you and your attitude towards truth. To say the truth about you is dangerous to life.

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

Austrian Psychoanalyst and Author