Wilhelm Reich

Wilhelm
Reich
1897
1957

Austrian Psychoanalyst and Author

Author Quotes

It is sexual energy which governs the structure of human feeling and thinking.

Once we open up to the flow of energy within our body, we can also open up to the flow of energy in the universe.

Sexual inhibition alters the structure of the economically suppressed individual in such a manner that he thinks, feels and acts against his own material interests.

The kindly individual believes that all people are kindly and act accordingly. The plague individual believes that all people lie, swindle, steal and crave power. Clearly, then, the living is at a disadvantage and in danger.

We are biological energy systems, absorbing and producing energy from the environment in the form of air and food. This energy is fuels our life process and its movement and expression is experienced as sensation - love, anger, desire fear, longing. Surplus energy is discharged in work, play, thought and particularly sexually. If there are no permanent blocks to discharge we remain healthy, our vital life functions maintain themselves without disturbance. If our primary needs as children have not satisfied, we form armoring to cut off the awareness of the pain and distress caused by this frustration.

He had a great capacity to arouse irrational hatred obviously, and that’s because his ideas were radical in the most extreme sense of the word “radical.” His ideas have something to offend everybody, and he ended up becoming the only heretic in American history whose books were literally burned by the government.

If one studies the history of sexual suppression one finds that it does not exist in the early stages of culture formation. Therefore, it cannot be the prerequisite of culture. Rather, it appears at a relatively late stage of culture, at the time of the development of authoritarian patriarchy and of class distinctions. At that stage, the sexual interests of all begin to serve the profit interests of a minority. This process has assumed a solid organizational form in the institutions of patriarchal marriage and patriarchal family. With the suppression of sexuality the emotions undergo a change: a sex-negating religion begins to develop which gradually builds up its own sex-political organization, the church in all its forms, which has no other goal than that of eradicating sexual pleasure. This has its sociological reason in the exploitation of human work which sets in at this stage.

It is the fate of great achievements, born from a way of life that sets truth before security, to be gobbled up by you and excreted in the form of shit. For centuries great, brave, lonely men have been telling you what to do. Time and again you have corrupted, diminished and demolished their teachings; time and again you have been captivated by their weakest points, taken not the great truth, but some trifling error as your guiding principal. This, little man, is what you have done with Christianity, with the doctrine of sovereign people, with socialism, with everything you touch. Why, you ask, do you do this? I don't believe you really want an answer. When you hear the truth you'll cry bloody murder, or commit it. … You had your choice between soaring to superhuman heights with Nietzsche and sinking into subhuman depths with Hitler. You shouted Heil! Heil! and chose the subhuman. You had the choice between Lenin's truly democratic constitution and Stalin's dictatorship. You chose Stalin's dictatorship. You had your choice between Freud's elucidation of the sexual core of your psychic disorders and his theory of cultural adaptation. You dropped the theory of sexuality and chose his theory of cultural adaptation, which left you hanging in mid-air. You had your choice between Jesus and his majestic simplicity and Paul with his celibacy for priests and life-long compulsory marriage for yourself. You chose the celibacy and compulsory marriage and forgot the simplicity of Jesus' mother, who bore her child for love and love alone. You had your choice between Marx's insight into the productivity of your living labor power, which alone creates the value of commodities and the idea of the state. You forgot the living energy of your labor and chose the idea of the state. In the French Revolution, you had your choice between the cruel Robespierre and the great Danton. You chose cruelty and sent greatness and goodness to the guillotine. In Germany you had your choice between Goring and Himmler on the one hand and Liebknecht, Landau, and Muhsam on the other. You made Himmler your police chief and murdered your great friends. You had your choice between Julius Streicher and Walter Rathenau. You murdered Rathenau. You had your choice between Lodge and Wilson. You murdered Wilson. You had your choice between the cruel Inquisition and Galileo's truth. You tortured and humiliated the great Galileo, from whose inventions you are still benefiting, and now, in the twentieth century, you have brought the methods of the Inquisition to a new flowering. … Every one of your acts of smallness and meanness throws light on the boundless wretchedness of the human animal. 'Why so tragic?' you ask. 'Do you feel responsible for all evil?' With remarks like that you condemn yourself. If, little man among millions, you were to shoulder the barest fraction of your responsibility, the world would be a very different place. Your great friends wouldn't perish, struck down by your smallness.

Only a work democracy can create the foundation of genuine freedom. Long experience in sociological disputes leads me to expect that a great many people will take offense at the disclosure of this miscalculation. It makes the highest demands on people’s will to veracity; it puts a heavy burden on everyday living; it places all social responsibility on those who work, be it in the factory, in the office, on the farm, in the laboratory, or wherever.

Sexually awakened women, affirmed and recognized as such, would mean the complete collapse of the authoritarian ideology.

The Little Man does not know that he is little, and he is afraid of knowing it. He covers up his smallness and narrowness with illusions of strength and greatness, of others' strength and greatness. He is proud of his great generals but not proud of himself. He admires thought which he did not have and not the thought he did have. He believes in things all the more thoroughly the less he comprehends them, and does not believe in the correctness of those ideas which he comprehends most easily

We live in a community of people not so that we can suppress and dominate eachother or make each other miserable but so that we can better and more reliably satisfy all life's healthy needs.

Honest pioneer work in the field of science has always been, and will continue to be, life’s pilot. On all sides, life is surrounded by hostility. This puts us under an obligation.

If the psychic energies of the average mass of people watching a football game or a musical comedy could be diverted into the rational channels of a freedom movement, they would be invincible.

Life springs from thousands of sources vibrant, hands up everyone who cling to, refuses to be expressed in phrases tedious, only accepts actions transparent, truthful words of love and pleasure

Only the liberation of the natural capacity for love in human beings can master their sadistic destructiveness.

Suppression of the natural sexuality in the child, particularly of its genital sexuality, makes the child apprehensive, shy, obedient, afraid of authority, "good" and "adjusted" in the authoritarian sense; it paralyzes the rebellious forces because any rebellion is laden with anxiety; it produces, by inhibiting sexual curiosity and sexual thinking in the child, a general inhibition of thinking and of critical faculties. In brief, the goal of sexual suppression is that of producing an individual who is adjusted to the authoritarian order and who will submit to it in spite of all misery and degradation. At first, the child has to adjust to the structure of the authoritarian miniature state, the family; this makes it capable of later subordination to the general authoritarian system. The formation of the authoritarian structure takes place through the anchoring of sexual inhibition and sexual anxiety.

The observations in the dark were somehow weird. After the eyes adapted to the darkness, the room did not appear black but grey blue. There were fog like formations and bluish dots and lines of light, violet light phenomena seemed to emanate from the walls as well as from the various objects in the room.

What is new in work democracy is: that for the first time in the history of sociology a possible future order of human society is deduced not from ideologies or from conditions yet to be created, but from processes which are naturally given and which have always been in operation. What is new in it is the renunciation and rejection of any kind of politics and demagogy. New is that, instead of the working masses of people being relieved of social responsibility, they are being burdened with it. Further, that the work democrats have no political ambitions nor are allowed to develop any. Further, that it consciously develops formal democracy — which means merely the voting for ideological representatives without any further responsibility on the part of the voter — into genuine, factual and practical democracy on an international scale; a democracy which is borne, in progressive organic development, by the functions of love, work and knowledge.

How, then,' I hear you ask, 'shall I attain my end, whether it be Christian love, socialism, or American democracy?' Your Christian love and your socialism and your American democracy are what you do each day, your manner of thinking each hour, of embracing your life companion and loving your child; they are your attitude of social responsibility towards your work, and your determination not to become like the crushers of life you so hate.

If you live in a dark cellar too long, you will hate the sunshine. You may even have lost the power of the eye to tolerate light. From this comes hatred toward sunlight.

Love, work, and knowledge are the wellsprings of our lives, they should also govern it.

Or does this thought relate to things to come in the future? I request my right and privilege to have such thoughts and ask such questions without being threatened to be jailed by any administrative agency of society…In the face of a rigid, doctrinaire, self-appointed, ready-to-kill hierarchy of scientific censorship it appears foolish to publish such thoughts. Anyone malignant enough could do anything with them. Still the right to be wrong has to be maintained. We should not fear to enter a forest because there are wildcats around in the trees. We should not yield our right to well-controlled speculation. It is certain questions entailed in such speculation which administrators of established knowledge fear… But in entering the cosmic age we should certainly insist on the right to ask new, even silly questions without being molested.

The [genuine] leader will always be aware of the well hidden tendency in people to see things in the mirror only, to take over great things only to render them impotent, to care far more for the admiring of someone than for what he has to offer, to flock around the unimportant and to force the crucial thing toward impotence.

The pleasure of living and the pleasure of the orgasm are identical. Extreme orgasm anxiety forms the basis of the general fear of life.

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

Austrian Psychoanalyst and Author