The following talk was given Treadwells Bookshop on 1st September, 2005. I’m reposting it here as it’s not a bad intro to Reich and his work. Also, it gives me the chance to finally correct all the bloody typos that have bugged me for the last 8 years! I actually have some proper, much deeper experience of Reichian (orgone) therapy now, so I’m going to alter and correct in light of this experience in footnotes.
Love, work and knowledge are the wellsprings of our life. They should also govern it.
Wilhelm Reich, as the epigraph to all his books.
All systems which liberate rather than delude lead back to the body
Wilhelm Reich is the kind of person whose name a lot of people know, while knowing very little about him. Some might be aware of his crazy reputation as the “sex box” guy, who built a strange devices to give people better orgasms (immortalised in the Hawkwind song Orgone Accumulator)1 . Those of you who know a little more may be aware that he was a radical psychotherapist who was imprisoned in the US in the 1950s, died in prison and had his books burnt by the US govt. There was a resurgence of interest in his work in the sixties and seventies, but he pretty much seems to have disappeared off the cultural map in the UK. This talk will attempt to re-present some of his ideas and explain my interest.
I’m going to talk firstly about his life history and how his psychotherapeutic approach evolved and what it entails, as the potential for working on oneself is what interests most people when they first approach his work (including myself). I’m going to break the theoretical side into “chunks” as I find it easier to handle this way, as well as offering some examples from my own experience to clarify. As I’m speaking in an occult bookstore, I’m then going to offer up some of Reich’s comments and thoughts on mysticism, as he had some very interesting (though critical) things to say. I intend to close with a consideration of the breadth of his work and it’s unity – which I hope will inspire a few people to do some research and reading of their own.