Last week, I talked about the mind. We laughed, we cried, and we came to eventual conclusion that it had a very tenuous link to a German film about Angels. Nevertheless, I continue on today with the topic of a brilliant and crazy man, Wilhelm Reich. He had the similar theories to many psychologists, and mainly focused the majority of his early work on the work of Freud. However, he developed his own theories, building on what Freud had taught and drawing his own conclusions, and so, instead of a theory about the Id, the Ego and the Super-ego, we have a theory that says if we don't get enough orgasms, we eventually shiver into a wreck of nervous and crotchety uselessness, as well as a substance called Orgone that wafts around EVERYWHERE.
The theory goes that Orgone is all around us, and if you don't have a sufficient amount of orgasms, which releases the substance, that stuff will clog you up something awful, causing all manner of horrible physical and psychological affects, such as unhappiness, anger and the curling of a person physically until they look like Scrooge. Perhaps Scrooge didn't have enough orgasms. That's probably why he let Tiny Tim die. Son of a bitch.
Orgone is sort of like a reverse drug, one that everyone is involuntarily addicted to, and as such, they have to get rid of it with the physical process of orgasms. But why did Wilhelm Reich choose the orgasm? What made him focus on such a thing? Well, Reich considered the orgasm to be the height of human experience, where a person was the most carnal and basic. Reich both agreed and disagreed with the Freudian theory of the Id, the ego, and the super-ego, in the sense that he believed that the human psyche was one built on layers, but disagreed with the order of things. He posed that the three layers;
The Surface Layer
This was the layer under the most conscious control, a layer that involved polite, compassionate responsibility. This is where people would be thoughtful towards their fellow man, and in other words, not screaming and running everywhere. This is the closest thing to the Super-ego.
The Second Layer
This layer is sort of like the Gollum layer. It is cruel, sadistic, uncaring and malicious, and the closest thing to the Id. This is the layer that will spike up if the carnal need for orgasms is not satisfied, and it will be more and more influential to the surface layer.
The Third Layer
The third layer is a different layer entirely, and Reich posited that this was the most human layer, this layer was what everybody has right in the middle, much like a gooey center of human emotion.
Well with all of these in mind it seems that Reich's theory of human emotions were a lot more optimistic than Freud's, which is probably why he was in the mind that if we should all be doing anything all the time, peeing in corners and screaming at each other, whilst experiencing a medley of orgasms. It would be nice, but damn it would be messy.
On top of the orgasm theory, Reich also had some interesting thoughts about mass psychology, a particular example being the fascism. Why did people support the Nazi's back in the day? Wee they targeted the lower/middle class, and people who were used to strong paternal authority. They assumed correctly that these people would have a love of the idea of rebellion, but lacked the drive to do it, and indeed liked the feeling of being controlled and repressed. The Nazi party offered a perfect situation; they strove to tap into, and fulfill this desire to rebel with subservience, offering a chance to rebel against the current government whilst allowing Nazi's to dominate them.
Reich had many supporters to his theory of Orgone energy, such as William S. Burroughs, and J.D. Salinger, both of which supported the use of the ORGONE CHAMBER. This ominous sounding device was designed to concentrate orgone energy in a box, which would allow a human more of their share of orgone energy when they sat in it, resulting in healing properties and an increased Libido, something else that Reich relied heavily on as a source of inspiration and theory.
Reich lived out the rest of his days on his land, which he designated Orgonon (an old farm near Dodge Pond in Maine), where many people would pilgrimage and stay, living his way of life, using the orgone chambers, and the Cloudbusters, convinced that Reich was a genius who had everything figured out. Reich lived with controversy, allogations of mental health disorders, and scandal, as he tried to peddle his Orgone chamber across the country as a way to cure Cancer, to which the authorities had an objection. He suffered an injunction by the F.D.A, was imprisoned and eventually died on November 3rd, 1957.
Was Reich a genius? there are patterns that suggest that his theory regarding the stress and mental health disorders from repression are quite correct, but a substance that breaks the second law of thermodynamics AND cures cancer? It seems too weird to be true. But the mind is a funny thing. I have always believed that people who are a little different in the mind lknow something that healthy people don't, and if the allegations of poor mental health were true, perhaps Reich really did have everything figured out.
One thing is for sure, his life would have been a hell of an experience.