Wilhelm Reich


Austrian Psychoanalyst and Author

Author Quotes

What would you think of an engineer who expounded the art of flying without revealing the secrets of the engine and propeller? That's what you do, you engineer of the human soul. Just that. You're a coward. You want the raisins out of my cake but you don't want the thorns of my roses. Haven't you too, little psychiatrist, been cracking silly jokes about me? Haven't you ridiculed me as the prophet of bigger and better orgasms? Have you never heard the whimpering of a young wife whose body has been desecrated by an impotent husband? Or the anguished cry of an adolescent bursting with unfulfilled love? Does your security still mean more to you than your patient? How long will you go on valuing your respectability above your medical mission? How long will you refuse to see that your pussyfooting procrastination is costing millions their lives?

I am well aware of the fact that the human race has known about the existence of a universal energy related to life for many ages. However, the basic task of natural science consisted of making this energy usable. This is the sole difference between my work and all preceding knowledge.

In its pure form, fascism is the sum total of all irrational reactions of the average human character. To the narrow-minded sociologist who lacks the courage to recognize the enormous role played by the irrational in human history, the fascist race theory appears as nothing but an imperialistic interest or even a mere “prejudice.” The violence and the ubiquity of these “race prejudices” show their origin from the irrational part of the human character. The race theory is not a creation of fascism. No: fascism is a creation of race hatred and its politically organized expression. Correspondingly, there is a German, Italian, Spanish, Anglo-Saxon, Jewish and Arabian fascism.

Man is fundamentally an animal. Animals, as distinct from man, are not machine-like, not sadistic; their societies, within the same species, are incomparably more peaceful than those of man. The basic question, then is: What has made the animal, man, degenerate into a machine?When I say "animal," I do not mean anything bad, cruel or "base"; I am stating a biological fact. Man has developed the peculiar concept that he is not an animal at all, but, well — man; a creature which long since has shed that which is "bad," which is "animal." He demarcates himself in all possible ways from the bad animal and points, in proof of his "being better," to culture and civilization which distinguish him from the animal. He shows, in his whole behavior, his "theories of values," his moral philosophies, his "monkey trials" and such, that he does not want to be reminded of the fact that basically he is an animal, an animal, furthermore, which has much more in common with the "animal" than with that being which he asserts to be and dreams of being. The theory of the German Übermensch has this origin. Man shows by his maliciousness, his inability to live in peace with his kind, his wars, that what distinguishes him from the other animals is only his unbounded sadism and the mechanical trinity of the authoritarian concept of life, mechanistic science and the machine. If one looks at the results of civilization as they present themselves over long periods of time, one finds that these contentions of man are not only erroneous; more than that, they seem to be made expressly for the purpose of making man forget that he is an animal.

People should be very careful when choosing the future fathers and mothers of their children. For that reason alone, it is extremely mean to demand a marriage certificate for life, just for one night of embracement.

The [genuine] leader will face the painful task of loving people and at the same time of not becoming bound to them the usual way; to know their weaknesses and not to despise them or to fear them. He will, first of all, face loneliness, living in vast spaces alone with only a few friends. And even these friends may turn out to be a bother or nuisance, since all want salvation. Everyone wants something from him, anyhow. He will slowly realize with amazement how infinite are the desires to get things on the part of people. It does not matter what they want. It is the wanting and the getting that matters. And he will be well aware of the price paid to him for the getting: empty admiration.

The present critical state of international human affairs requires security and safety from nuisance interferences with efforts toward full, honest, determined clarification of man’s relationship to nature within and without himself; in other words, his relationship to the Law of Nature. It is not permissible, either morally, legally, or factually, to force a natural scientist to expose his scientific results and methods of basic research in court. This point is accentuated in a world crisis where biopathic men hold in their hands power over ruined, destitute multitudes.

When I started studying Reich’s works, I went through a period of enthusiasm, followed by a period of skepticism, followed by a period of just continued interest, but I think a lot of his ideas probably were sound. A lot probably were unsound. And, I’m not a Reichian in the sense of somebody who thinks he was the greatest scientist who ever lived and discovered the basic secrets of psychology, physics and everything else, all in one lifetime. But I think he has enough sound ideas that his unpopular ideas deserve further investigation. - View Quote Details on He had a great capacity to arouse irrational hatred obviously… Every physician, shoemaker, mechanic or educator must know his shortcomings if he is to do his work and make his living. For some decades, you have begun to play a governing role on this earth. It is on your thinking and your actions that the future of humanity depends. But your teachers and masters do not tell you how you really think and are; nobody dares to voice the one criticism of you which could make you capable of governing your own fate. You are “free” only in one sense: free from education in governing your life yourself, free from self-criticism.

I came to consider the instinct as nothing more than the motor aspect of pleasure.

In recent times, more and more human thinking has come to assume that the idea of a universal natural law and the idea of 'God' are pointing to one and the same reality.

Man's right to know, to learn, to inquire, to make bona fide errors, to investigate human emotions must, by all means, be safe, if the word FREEDOM should ever be more than an empty political slogan.

Psychic disturbances are the consequences of the sexual chaos of society. For thousands of years, this chaos has had the function of psychically subjecting man to the prevailing conditions of existence, of internalizing the external mechanization of life. It has served to bring about the psychic anchoring of a mechanized and authoritarian civilization by making man incapable of functioning independently.

The absolute and static were even taken over by such dynamically oriented psychological schools as the Freudian in the form of the permanent unconscious ideas. In Jung, the unconscious psychic life was enlarged to the static "racial unconscious" and to the static "collective unconscious". Along with the static viewpoint, these psychologies took over the idea of guilt, even after their separation from philosophy. In so doing, they fell into a cul de sac from which there was no way out.

The question of how and why the encrustations and rigidifications of human emotional life are brought about led directly into the realm of vegetative life.

With this the [genuine] leader will cause many to turn against him. He will have robbed these many of an object to hold on to, like a bean stalk would feel robbed of comfort if you took away the supporting stick of wood.

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.

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Austrian Psychoanalyst and Author