Quick Links

Conference Reports
Monthly Updates
Museum Bookstore
Wilhelm Reich Archives
Biography of Wilhelm Reich
Glossary of Terms



Recommendations are grouped by subject area.

Take a look!

1991 Summer Conference:

The Orgone Energy Accumulator

IMPORTANT NOTE: Though an attempt has been made to write this report in accessible language, the reader should not lose sight of the fact that it has been written as would a scientific paper, i.e. with attention to the choice and use of technical terms—even though some such terms are commonly misused in everyday language, e.g. paranoid, sadistic—and with the presumption throughout the article that the reader must have sufficient background in the referenced literature in order to fully understand the discussion. Throughout the reading of Reich and journals about his work, there seems to be a constant problem that, due to the readable language, nonscientists forget the specific assumptions with which such works are written.

The twelfth annual summer conference at Orgonon this year focused on one of the most central discoveries in Reich's work, the orgone energy accumulator:

"No product of Wilhelm Reich's research is more closely identified with his name than the orgone energy accumulator. Designed to concentrate the new form of energy which Reich discovered and investigated, the functioning of this device is contingent upon and demonstrative of the existence of that energy. It is therefore not surprising that efforts to deride and destroy Reich's work have centered on the accumulator." [1]

The conference included lectures, demonstrations of measurements (temperature diff. inside and outside accumulators, diff. in rate of electroscopic discharge, etc.), a hands-on workshop in which participants each built one panel of a person-sized accumulator, discussions, and again the rare opportunity to hear audio tapes of Reich himself in meetings and lectures with his students. This material was selected by Mary Higgins, the trustee of Reich's estate, from much historical footage in the Reich archives, and it again included a lot of never previously released material. Dr. Chester Raphael was present in many of the taped meetings, and again this year was a participant in the conference and thus available to ask for clarification or more detail on many of the points which were raised.

The first day of the conference was devoted to a historical outline, presented by the author, of Reich's experiments beginning with SAPA bions and leading right up through the discovery of the accumulator, which occurred fortuitously while Reich was trying to build an enclosure that would isolate and concentrate the radiation the bion cultures emitted [2,3]. The lecture emphasized the properties of the radiation which made it clear from early on that is was new, e.g. its ability to charge organic materials (non-metallic insulators), and its presence both in solar energy and in all living organisms. I chose to emphasize the experiments on charging non-metallic insulators not only for this reason, but because that property is essential to understanding the sequence of logic which led to the accumulator. Previous accounts of the discovery of orgone energy and/or the accumulator which make light of this point or even leave it out entirely are thus seriously flawed and would tend to make the logic seem more arbitrary and full of leaps than it in fact is. Participants learned of the significance of the temperature difference between an accumulator and a control thermometer and then began taking measurements on an accumulator and control box in the conference building and an identical pair 3/4 buried in the soil in bright sunlight outside the building. Measurements were taken at half hourly intervals for several days, and in addition data were supplied on the same set-ups for 5 days leading up to the conference. Graphing the data was encouraged, to try to observe trends caused by changes in weather and time of day. (This first day's weather was as clear, dry and non-humid as any that Rangeley has ever had to offer. During the following four days, a wide range of variation in weather occurred, including overcast, pouring rain, and some more humid periods.) The size of positive To-T values usually decreased, sometimes even became negative, both inside and outside, with humid and/or rainy weather. Measurements with electroscopes were also made. For instance, 3 of the same model were charged up simultaneously (by stroking insulators through the hair lightly) to 45°of leaf deflection at 12:45 PM. One was on a table as a control, and the other two were placed inside two orgone accumulators of different sizes. All were at the same height above the floor, and their discharge rate was monitored. By 4:30 PM on this clear, low humidity day, the control had discharged down to about 10° of deflection, while those in the larger (adult size) and smaller accumulators were still at 35° and 25°, respectively. These electroscopes functioned poorly on days above 50% relative humidity as Reich reported, but on clear days, also as he described, discharged more slowly in the accumulator, the rate serving as a quantitative measure of the increased "orgone tension" inside as opposed to in the open air. (In fact, the electroscope in the large accumulator had still not completely discharged at 10 AM the next day, though the other two had.)

It was emphasized that Reich's conclusions were based on taking these measurements over periods of months and even years. Thus, in the week or so that we took measurements we could not meaningfully test his ideas or do real research, but we could certainly become familiar with the basic techniques used. This also applied to early morning, evening, and midday observations of visual orgone phenomena which participants studied from the roof of the observatory building using binoculars, telescopes, and tubes with darkened interiors. The dramatic spectacle of the west to east flow over lakes and mountaintops clearly spoke for itself, however. In all of these measurements and visual observations of orgone energy, I would like to stress my sense of how much clearer and less ambiguous these phenomena are in the mountains of Maine than in most other places I have tried to carry them out, such as the New York, Princeton and Baltimore areas where I have lived over the past 8 years. I have noticed this since my very first visit to the Rangeley area in 1980, and its significance for research was obvious to Reich as well. (The matter of days of less than 50% R.H. alone is decisive in the metropolitan areas of the east coast. Prior to coming up the week before the program, it had been almost impossible for several weeks straight to even charge an electroscope, let alone to be able to measure its discharge rate!)

The second day of the conference included more observations and measurements interspersed throughout the day, while the main focus was a lecture by Dr. Raphael on "The Medical Effects of the Orgone Accumulator", followed by Q & A and a lively discussion. Dr. Raphael began his talk with a personal statement about his teacher Reich, "not intended so much in honor of the man, but because of the fact that who he was bore a very distinct relationship to what he did." I have appended almost the entire text of this statement because it was very moving. Raphael then spoke of the accumulator in that light:

"I know of nothing in mechanistic medicine that attempts to treat the totality of the living system, so that when the accumulator is used, the person is seated in the orgone accumulator entirely enclosed by it. This requires a statement that considers the cancer biopathy, for example, as a systemic disease...a viewpoint that is critical of the variety of local treatments that are prescribed with claims of cure...."

Based on this orgonomic view of cancer, Dr. Raphael suggested that the use of the accumulator was a necessary adjunct to help relieve the underlying shrinking of the tissues, even if the tumor is surgically removed. Also:

"Psychiatric orgone therapy would be a desirable contribution to deal with the underlying biopathy. No matter what, the only real cure, which would be rare, would be the restoration of the full energy metabolism of the organism—its orgastic potency. To quote Reich: 'It would be far easier to prevent cancer than to cure a fully developed cancer.'"

Much emphasis was placed on this central basis of Reich's understanding: that sexual stasis is the core of disease, and that this may be the single most important 'take home lesson' from Reich's work, so that the use of the accumulator alone must not be looked upon as a panacea either. Raphael warned that such a simple looking device

"often invites mystical expectations in its use: it will make you orgastically potent or it will help you to live forever. I feel this has to be said to dispel some of the nutty notions about it."

This keeping of the accumulator in perspective, especially in systemic disease, was emphasized by a case Dr. Raphael had seen, a man who had been diagnosed with lung cancer and who did not have surgery.

"They gave him a few cobalt treatments. They sent him away and told his wife that things didn't look very good. That was in 1962. He's dead now, but I have a letter from him in 1970. He died when he was about 80. He used a 20-layer accumulator conscientiously while he was in this area, then took it out to Arizona. He used it for a half-hour, four times a day. The tumor disappeared. He traveled around a lot and was at the Mayo Clinic. He writes here [reading]: 'In reality, in all the thousands of patients they have ever examined, they have never found one before who was still alive 8 years after having lung cancer.' Now he had a few cobalt treatments at the beginning, and the question is, is that what did it? But anyway, that case was remarkable.

"I'm mentioning it because we don't get cases like that, so we have no way of knowing....I answered his letter and said [reading]: 'You know what has kept you alive? It's not the accumulator. It is your ability to become angry, annoyed, cynical, sarcastic. It's a mysterious something, and the accumulator has functioned as a useful adjunct. When you tell others that it is the orgone energy accumulator that is responsible, they may well react negatively; perhaps out of a basic distrust or prejudice, but they wouldn't be wrong.' The use of the accumulator should be put into perspective. In The Cancer Biopathy, Reich warned in his preface that they would say he claimed to cure cancer. All the patients he described in the book died, yet they continued to say he claimed he could cure it. We must be humble in talking about what we can or cannot do with regard to the living process. You are alive because you are you. That is fundamental. The therapeutic process of biopsychiatric and physical orgone therapy are adjuncts. We may concede that the latter are important, but not fundamental. With such a viewpoint, we do not have to worry so much about the skepticism, or to try to convince them. We know where we stand. The accumulator [cannot work miracles]. Reich counselled patients: 'I'm afraid we will have to be patient.'...[To us, his students,] he used to say to us: 'Keep your mouth shut! You don't know what you're talking about.' He made us shut up because, he said, 'You don't know what you're talking about.'"

On the other hand, Raphael warned against an opposite problem as well:

"I also regret that the use of the orgone accumulator is not being encouraged. It is not because of neglect or indifference, but because of a seemingly misguided idea that it might be harmful. The statement is made that since the days when the atomic bombs were dropped and atomic tests were instituted, the orgone atmosphere has been altered and the therapeutic efficacy of the orgone energy devices has become complicated. 'No therapeutic claims are being made for these devices. Their use is strictly in the investigative experimental stage.' This is being said after 45 years or more of use.

"Dr. Reich never restricted its use, despite all the atomic blasts and other nuclear contamination. The only time that he ever recommended that it not be used was in connection with the F.D.A. action against the accumulator. The accumulator—to give the excuse that it should not be used because the air is polluted is equivalent to saying that we should stop breathing because the air is polluted. I have heard nothing in the way of investigation or experimentation in over four and a half decades to justify, by implication or otherwise, that the accumulator should not be used. The reasoning seems specious."

One participant questioned Raphael's statement, asking him if he really didn't feel that electrical devices like TVs or microwave ovens could cause negative effects if near an accumulator in an apartment. Raphael responded:

"That's a good question. Until somebody tells me otherwise, I don't think anybody should arbitrarily decide that the accumulator is dangerous or not. As I said, because the air is polluted we don't stop breathing air. There may be good arguments for it. But I'd like to hear them. Because it's been 45 years of use, and when Reich was alive we had contamination and he never said anything about that. That doesn't prove anything either, but it's troublesome to me that such categorical statements can affect serious work. Until someone [offers experimental evidence]...I'm rather resistant to it." (assuming harsh near TVs, in apartments, in cities, etc.). Regarding television specifically, "Reich himself at first was hesitant about it, but then when he could use a television set, then everybody felt then that it was OK....

"Of course, we should not deny that electromagnetic energy is causing a lot of havoc. With the use of an accumulator device in the vicinity of electromagnetic energy, that could be a problem because you have an oranur issue there....But I don't know whether that's enough to justify not using it. That's a good question, about using it near strong electromagnetic fields." [He refers to a question about high tension wires].

At this point, Mary Higgins brought in another issue:

"I'd like to raise one issue, which is nonscientific, about this idea that the accumulator shouldn't be used. I believe that only began after the FDA attack. There is evidence in our exhibit [of materials obtained from FDA files under the Freedom of Information Act] in the museum, that at least one of the physicians [i.e. Elsworth F. Baker] who had studied with Reich was very frightened, and when the FDA inspectors came to talk to him the whole idea was 'I don't have anything to do with it. I don't use it. I'm a psychotherapist.' From that, I believe, evolved this idea. There's no scientific proof, but there's a lot of fright about the accumulator among all those people who were alive at the time of that attack. It's almost impossible to describe or transmit the quality of fear that existed during that time, and certainly after Reich's death, when I first came upon the situation. People were terrified. They didn't want anything to do with anything....When we first started publishing in 1960, the FDA people again began to come around talking to people, and again the whole idea was: 'I don't have anything to do with it. I don't use it.' The fear on the part of some of Reich's own physicians, I must tell you I think, is at the basis of this whole idea much more than any scientific understanding, which hasn't been shown. And I think that must not be forgotten. There is still a great deal of anxiety out there, and very few people will prescribe an accumulator. Now whether that's because they're afraid, which is what I think it is, or whether because there's scientific reason for it, which has never been shown, you must not underestimate the degree of fear of authority which exists and hasn't gone away."

A physician brought up an incident in which he used an accumulator panel for local application on a severe burn of his hand. He had no blistering, no scar formation at all afterwards. Dr. Raphael confirmed this with a story of having used an accumulator blanket for a really severe sunburn on his back and shoulders:

"I experienced initially, for a matter of minutes, a lot of pain over my back…then all pain ceased. I had no discomfort whatsoever, and I did not blister at all, which to me was just incredible. Now that's the kind of response that I think you can prove any time you want to. If you want some evidence of the local effect of the accumulator, use it on burns and you can see it. As I said before, if you use it systemically it's a much more complicated issue. You're not going to get the immediate 'before' and 'after' effects with its use in systemic problems."

A long discussion ensued, in which a major conclusion was that little exists in the way of documented information on the use of the accumulator by people since Reich's time [4]. It was thought desirable by all that a general call should be made for information on this subject and for a single clearinghouse to be created for such data. All physicians or lay people who have experiences with the use of the accumulator, good or bad, and any who specifically avoid using the accumulator (including what experiences this is based on) are invited to send these accounts in writing to The Wilhelm Reich Museum, Orgonon, PO Box 687, Rangeley, ME 04970. It is hoped that such a more thorough survey, possibly even a meeting of all those who wish to report experiences, would make it possible to draw more meaningful conclusions about the questions that were debated.

Day three of the conference was a hands-on workshop to build one panel of a person-sized orgone accumulator. Directed by craftsman-artist Robert Dayton, this session reviewed a new set of excellent, detailed, user-friendly plans for an accumulator with a built-in shooter box [5], suppliers for all the materials in convenient forms, and tips on ways to make the construction job itself easier. The work on panels was done outside, under a beautiful blue Maine sky, and the camaraderie of friends helping each other made this a very pleasant task instead of the chore some of us felt it would be if working alone. Many of us came away very enthused about ordering the remaining materials and finishing our accumulators together in a similar group work project a few weeks after the conference.

The fourth day of the program was devoted to hearing and discussing a taped meeting by Reich and some students about the attack on the accumulator, especially by medical societies. The meeting, on 24 August 1953, included Reich, Walter Hoppe, Simeon Tropp, Elsworth Baker, Chester Raphael, Eva Reich and Ola Raknes. Reich opened, explaining his purpose in recording this meeting thus: "I want to put on record one of the greatest scandals of all time....In the U.S.A. the crook has just as much freedom of expression as the honest fellow." Then Reich interviewed Dr. Raphael and Dr. Eva Reich about recent experiences they had had. Dr. Raphael described how in February 1953 he received an inquiry from the Queens County Medical Society, of which he was a member, about the Wilhelm Reich Foundation. He told them to contact the WRF directly for the information they desired. They then insisted that he appear before a board of censors of the Society, because, they said, a matter of medical ethics was involved. Throughout the subsequent hearing, it became clear that there was no substance to the matter except that the Society very much wanted information about the accumulator. Raphael:

"I anticipated this chaos in questioning so I brought with me a copy of the Orgone Accumulator pamphlet. They could hardly keep each other from getting their hands on it. After a minute or a minute and a half of turning pages, they were already ready to condemn it."

Reich replied:

"We need to understand these doctors in a human way. They are so used to swindlers, so run down from going from one failure to another, that they are really skeptical and totally subdued by the pharmaceutic industry."

Earlier, Reich had specifically pointed out his own view that the local medical societies and the A.M.A. "…are and always have been a tool and an agent of the pharmaceutical industry." Raphael stated full agreement and that he had refused to answer the board's questions about the accumulator, saying "Gentlemen, I thought this was supposed to be an inquiry about ethics." The board asked if Reich's discoveries had been published in recognized medical journals. Reich interrupted Raphael's account: "So they were implying that they (and the A.M.A.) have the right to decide what is medicine and what is not?"

Raphael retained a lawyer (after that the matter never came to anything further) and would not resign from the Medical Society, since he felt that would be something that could be used against him, read as some kind of admission that he'd done something wrong. Reich said that in his view this was a mistake; he felt that if your conscience tells you differently than how the organization behaves, you should simply step out, resign. Raphael, at our meeting, said, "so you see, I felt differently. But Reich's point is important."

A letter of 13 August 1953 was read on the tape, to the Orgone Institute from Richard Blasband, then an assistant at Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine where experiments to "test" Reich's theories were being carried out at that time. Blasband reported significant differences between the Jackson Lab experiment using an accumulator on cancer mice and Reich's original protocol, especially the presence of X-ray machines nearby where the experiment was conducted. Eva Reich commented: "When we [she and her husband] drove by the lab, we felt very strong oranur and DOR effects." Her father observed:

"One of the basic laws of natural science is to know what you are trying to control, and if you criticize it, to do so only with what is called immanent criticism. That means only to judge it from its own standpoint, not from your standpoint."

Eva Reich spoke on the tape at some length about attempts during her residency to use the accumulator with patients and about ways in which hospital officials tried to prevent this, sometimes directly and sometimes in sneaky behind-the-scenes maneuvering. She also described difficulty getting malpractice insurance, she assumed, because she actively resisted joining the local medical society. She also wouldn't cater to the salesmen from the drug companies, one of whom responded by trying to verbally intimidate her, saying she was getting a reputation as a troublemaker. Her father suggested that the connection between medical society membership, drug companies and ability to get malpractice insurance represented a powerful tool which could be used politically to keep doctors in line. "And this is called medicine."

Mary Higgins, in the discussion that followed, summarized her presentation from the 1988 summer conference, on Reich's legal strategy regarding the FDA Complaint, and later how he dealt with the Injunction [6]. She emphasized her view that very few people appreciate the totally separate nature of Reich's first Response [7] to the complaint, and the later dealings and strategies which had to be adopted after Dr. Silvert, without Reich's knowledge, violated the Injunction in January of 1955. Prior to that act, Reich had, in Ms. Higgins's view, successfully held off the FDA attack and had, by his initial refusal to "appear in court as a 'defendant' in matters of basic natural research," guaranteed the protection of his work. He was able to continue his research unimpeded, by judiciously avoiding the only enjoined activity on which the FDA had any real legal leg to stand: accumulators in interstate commerce. She stressed that later court actions, particularly in the matter of the Intervention proceedings, showed clearly that the FDA's intent was specifically to get Reich rather than to stop use of accumulators [8]. Thus the unexpected action of Silvert and the resultant personal tragedy for Reich were still unable to destroy his discoveries or in any way prevent those of us who came along later from pursuing his work, vindicating fully his original Response to the Complaint. For many, this was the first time they could see beyond the personal tragedy of Reich's death to realize that his position had in no way originally been naïve or intent upon sacrificing himself, and that it did in fact triumph, so that we today can build and use accumulators personally and in research. As Reich expressed it: "My discovery of the life energy is today widely known all over the globe, in hundreds of institutions....It can no longer be stopped by anyone, no matter what happens to me." [9]

Day five of the conference was also devoted to hearing and discussion of archival tapes, this time beginning with a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation on 2 April 1952, about recent effects in the aftermath of the oranur experiment. First and foremost, Reich stressed, "I want you to know that I will not allow anyone here to use this as an excuse to become plaguey." He then goes on to describe an extremely serious physiological reaction he had had a short time before: paralysis of the legs, bluish coloration, puffed up, he felt "near dead." Dr. Raphael (in person) said, "I saw him not long after that though, and he looked radiant, very alive." It was on reactions like this that Reich based his belief that oranur might be able to be used to build up the resistance of the organism. Reich continued: the radium had been removed from the grounds and driven by Tom Ross to a spot 11.5 miles away, completely enclosed in its lead casing, and hidden there. Yet higher readings with the Geiger counter were still seen at Orgonon. After the red tile tabletops in the observatory continued to give G-M counts of 30,000 cpm (14 March, see last year's conference report for more detail), Reich continued to sleep in the building:

"I slept there with this for weeks, and I always woke up feeling awful. One day I woke up knocked out of balance completely. Then I went down to try to sleep [in the cabin] down below....

"Seeing the aurora borealis, I got the idea: it reaches out everywhere. The radium is completely removed, but the highly excited orgone energy field still remains. It's the "ether," [so even from that distance] it's still able to cause the highly excited orgone energy field....

"Tom Ross said he could feel its presence [the radium] from seven feet away in lead, as a pulling pain in the back of his neck. I believe that once people become sensitized by oranur, they will not be able to tolerate the presence of NR anywhere near them." (unlike at the beginning when nobody felt anything from the radium when it was brought in in the lead case).

This meeting was followed on the tape by Reich making a private statement the next day, which was previously published [10]. This is a very moving, very candid, heartfelt description of loneliness. He realized so many ways in which others could not follow his work, his insights, including all of his students "without a single exception." He realized that many of them must wonder if he had gone "a little bit haywire" because of their deep structural inability to understand. The voice that spoke was very sane, very steadily in contact, and profoundly sad and lonely, reaching into the listener in a way in which the printed text alone cannot.

A last piece recorded on the same tape was a fragment of a lecture by Reich on the physics of orgone energy, from around 1950:

"What they call probability is most probably one of the basic characteristics of orgone energy, in that it continues shifting, always in motion. There cannot be such exact, precise measurements of orgone functioning, to straightjacket the orgone, but there are general valid laws of functioning which can be seen....This can be a firm natural scientific basis underlying education, psychiatry, etc....You have one task: to root yourself and everything you see and think within the basic natural law which pervades all nature."

Appendix A

"A Statement About Wilhelm Reich: The Man, The Scientist"
by
Chester M. Raphael, M.D.,
(23 July 1991)

I often have the feeling that it would be easier if orgonomy was more complicated. Then we would be called upon to exercise our vaunted intellect to figure it all out. In therapy, a common form of resistance is to try to figure it all out. But the fact is that, with regard to life's living quality that orgonomy tries to comprehend, it is not that complicated and there is little to figure out. It is our complex, unnatural, mechanistic world that makes it complicated. No child, no animal, for example, needs to figure it out.

Reich said that in reality he had discovered only one thing, and he did not have to use words to tell you what it is. He simply raised his hand and did this (closes, then opens fist, repeatedly). What was he saying? But then he corrected himself and did this (first opens, then closes hand, repeats). What was he saying again?

What he was saying wordlessly is that life's essential quality is movement, more particularly a pulsatory movement which, if dissected, would consist of expansion and contraction. The latter gesture was to make sure that you understood that the expansion function is the initial one, not the contraction function.

He then came to the conclusion that all biological functions can be reduced to this movement. He saw it in everything that is alive. He saw it even in forms that represented transitions from inorganic to organic matter. He saw it in the atmosphere, over lakes and mountaintops...as a wavy pulsatory movement.

The fact is that he had not been looking for what he saw: he just saw it. Then, you might ask: how come he saw it and nobody else did? That could not be true, I think, we probably all have seen it. But it does not mean anything to us when we see it.

In that respect, there was, at least, one difference between him and us—it fascinated him, and therefore it meant something to him. Of course, everyone is aware that anything that is alive moves. But to most people, it is the material substance in which the movement occurs, that interests them. For Reich, it was the movement itself.

As I said, he saw it in everything, from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic. For example, when he looked at preparations under the microscope at standard magnifications, he saw movement of substance from place to place. Others who saw it did not see anything else. They just saw particles being shoved around, they assumed, by unseen molecules. But at much higher magnifications which no one else bothered to use, 3000-4000x for example, while he could hardly make out details, he could see internal movements of expansion, contraction and vibration. He saw them in unstained preparations, because if he stained them he would kill them and, thus, see no movement.

He had a choice, he said, between observing the movement of substance or the morphology of substance in which the movement occurs. He said he could not explain why he chose movement over substance. Later, he realized that his choice was not based on any mystical inclination. He simply wanted to know, and not just fantasize something that existed in the beyond, something supernatural. He came to realize that he derived his preference from the sensation of motility within his own organism. He felt the movement within himself. It was movement, spontaneous movement, that drew his attention.

It was, for example, during his psychoanalytic period, that there came a time when he could no longer tolerate sitting behind his patients, just listening to what they had to say. He heard words, but it all seemed to come out of something lifeless. It was all verbal, ideational. He decided to sit alongside his patients and found something so much more revealing than the spoken word. And even when he listened to what the patient was saying, he was more interested in the way it was being said….Words can fool you, but movement, expressions—if you are a good observer—rarely do.

One doctor tells a story. He thought he was getting along fine in his therapy, when Reich suddenly said to him: "You know what's the matter with you? You're dead." Can you conceive of a doctor making such a blunt statement?....What therapist would say that unless he felt the immobility in his patient and just couldn't stand it? What does one gain from all that interpretation work? Reich was a consummate observer of life. From that, you can see why it was his patients' rigidity that interested him; the armor, and then his efforts to loosen the armor, and the appearance of the orgasm reflex. He saw that the armored individual experienced a very limited world; one that he lived in forever; that he is myopically confined to only what is immediately in front of him; that it was a world filled with innumerable details, complicated details, machines, etc.—a lifeless world. On the other hand, Reich's world was an expansive, pulsating world, reaching out beyond the confines of our mundane existence to the far, endless reaches of the universe.

Well, that is what I wanted to share with you about Reich.

Appendix B

The Medical Use of the Orgone Accumulator
by
Chester M. Raphael, M.D.

(from the printed text from which Dr. Raphael spoke)

Now, let's get to the medical use of the orgone accumulator.

Just a moment—before we start this—I'd like to ask: how many of you have an orgone accumulator? How many of you use it regularly? How many use it intermittently? Or never use it? (Hands raised in answer to each question). So you see, we have these variations to deal with. Those who have had any experience with it, perhaps you will talk about it.

The orgone accumulator: to think that you don't have to buy it, that you can construct it yourself, and that something so crude can have any therapeutic value. In such a mechanistic world as ours, you have to be crazy to think that a plain box, as it appears to be, can be used to treat disease. In fact, it is often referred to as the "orgone box" with a note of derision. The acronym ORAC is also sometimes used. It is none of these. It is the orgone energy accumulator, or orgone accumulator, a device Reich constructed to study the life energy and to use it for therapeutic purposes.

Nevertheless, the whole thing seems absurd. I'll bet that you couldn't even give it away. And even when it is used, it often invites mystical expectations in its use: It will make you orgastically potent or it will help you to live forever. I feel this has to be said to dispel some of the nutty notions about it. It must be taken seriously, and the best way to do that is to understand it. The more you understand it, the more effectively you can use it.

I also regret that the use of the orgone accumulator is not being encouraged. It is not because of neglect or indifference, but because of a seemingly misguided idea that it might be harmful. The statement is made that since the days when the atomic bombs were dropped and atomic tests were instituted, the orgone atmosphere has been altered and the therapeutic efficacy of the orgone energy devices has become complicated. "No therapeutic claims are made for these devices. Their use is strictly in the investigative, experimental stage." This is being said after 45 years or more of use.

Dr. Reich never restricted its use despite all the atomic blasts and other nuclear contamination. The only time he recommended that it not be used was in connection with the FDA's action against the accumulator. To give the excuse that it should not be used because the air is polluted is equivalent to saying that we should stop breathing because it is polluted. I have heard of nothing in the way of investigation or experimentation in over four and a half decades to justify, by implication or otherwise, that the accumulator should not be used. The reasoning seems specious.

What does the accumulator actually do, and how does it do it?

Essentially, it is intended to overcome the chronic contraction or shrinking of the organism as a result of which various systemic diseases develop. These diseases are called biopathies, and while the cancer biopathy has received the most attention, there are also such diseases as cardiovascular hypertension, epilepsy, anxiety neurosis, multiple sclerosis, etc.

The chronic contraction of the organism has resulted from the damming-up of the biological energy of the organism, and the inability to discharge this dammed-up energy. All of these diseases have one thing in common: a disturbance in the discharge of sexual excitation. What needs to be emphasized is that treatment of these conditions is not directed toward isolated organs or areas of dysfunction, but to the total organism. I know of nothing in mechanistic medicine that attempts to treat the totality of the living system, so that when the accumulator is used, the person is seated in the orgone accumulator entirely enclosed by it. This requires a statement that considers the cancer biopathy, for example, as a systemic disease in which the tumor is only one manifestation of the disease. This represents a viewpoint that considers the elimination of the tumor by whatever means as insufficient for the effective treatment of the disease, and is critical of the variety of local treatments that are prescribed with claims of cure. Even where there are demonstrable results, they must be viewed as only symptomatic unless the treatment goes to the root of the disease. In the life cycle of the disease, the tumor may appear late in the disease. At that point, no matter what is done, the duration of the disease, with its fatal outcome, will be brief. If the tumor appears early in the disease and is eliminated by whatever means, the seemingly favorable result may only be an artifact.

If the tumor is removed—owing to the knowledge that this has not affected its systemic basis—psychiatric orgone therapy would be a desirable contribution to deal with the underlying biopathy.

No matter what, the only real cure, which would be rare, would be the restoration of the full energy metabolism of the organism—its orgastic potency. To quote Reich: "It would be far easier to prevent cancer than to cure a fully developed cancer."

Generally speaking, the tumor is a late development in the systemic disease.

A discussion of the various biopathies—their origin, their structure, etc., is too large a subject for this occasion. But a general statement is indicated.

We have already commented upon the general contraction and shrinking of the organism which results in the bionous disintegration of the tissues, the development of the cancer cell which follows upon the disintegration, and the putrefaction of the tissues which floods the organism with t-bacilli.

In the treatment with the orgone accumulator, the two energy systems, consisting of the individual and the orgone accumulator, make contact and become mutually excited. The red blood system of the individual, being the stronger of the two systems, draws the energy that radiates from the walls of the enclosure, which in turn, has been drawn from the orgone energy in the atmosphere. As a result, a charging of the blood cells occurs which, again with the drawing off of the energy of the weak cancer cells and the t-bacilli, paralyzes and destroys them. This is an indirect method of eliminating the pathological cells. The customary direct methods of achieving this are by the use of X-rays or iodine radiation or by the use of chemotherapy. These direct methods cannot selectively destroy only unhealthy tissues, with the result that healthy ones are also seriously damaged.

The indirect orgone-therapeutic method is a slow process that destroys the worst cellular pathology that characterizes the cancer tumor but also improves the systemic status of the organism. It requires the regular use of the orgone accumulator. Besides the charging of the RBCs, the vagotonic, or expanding effect on the tissues overcomes the pulling pains that occur in the disease. Obviously it does so by bringing about a relaxation of the autonomic nervous system.

With all of this, the problem is not readily solved. Dr. Reich states: "Orgone therapy will be able to eliminate a series of cancer affections or prevent their development, but, by itself, it will never be able to conquer the cancer scourge. Orgone therapy is only one of the necessary measures in the fight against the biopathies. Orgone can charge tissues and effect an expansion of the vital apparatus. But when the social milieu constantly forces the organism into contraction, resignation and shrinkage, the application of orgone is like trying to fill a barrel without a bottom."

We have to distinguish the problem of the orgone application from that of necessary social measures. To the practicing physician, the orgone therapy will be of the first importance, but he must not lose sight of the social causation of the biopathies, if he is going to treat the human organism as a product of biological and social factors.

The usual result is that the appetite increases, the loss of weight is checked, nausea and pains diminish or disappear, and the biological blood reactions become vigorous. The tumors are not destroyed immediately. First there is an invigoration of the blood. Only when the biological invigoration of the blood has reached a certain degree, does the attack of the blood on the tumor and the t-bacilli set in. The excretion of the liquefied tumor masses—and this is a formidable problem—does not set in until several weeks after the beginning of the treatment. The destruction of the tumor can become a problem in those cases where the products resulting from the disintegration of the tumor cannot be absorbed or eliminated.

As for the local effects of the accumulator: it can be easily seen that it can heal cuts and burns and relieve pain.

In the undercharged biopathies, the systemic effect of the accumulator is primary, i.e. its charging effect. Overcharge biopathies such as hypertension, acute sexual stasis, hysteria, inflammatory skin conditions, etc., call for the accumulator to be used gingerly, for short periods of time. Here the vagotonic effect of dilating the tissues is what is required, since they are now hypertonic and overcharged.

I've had a few cases. You might ask me why I've had only a few cases. I can't conceive, on the average, of people coming to an orgone therapist for their cancer, which creates such urgency and such desperation. I have had patients who've had, e.g., a mastectomy, and then had no residuals to speak of. And I would then use psychiatric orgone therapy and perhaps have, I would like to think, a favorable effect on the progress of the individual with the disease; because after all, the tumor is one aspect of the disease, and we can't ignore the fact that the systemic aspect of the disease may very well remain. The point is that these bipoathic diseases are lingering diseases. You can't assume that you will get a result that will last indefinitely. One has to say these things, because after all what does mechanistic medicine do except to cut out the tumor and say "we got it all out", "we've cured the person" and so on? Now, even if we get a result with the accumulator and dissolve tumors, we know that the systemic disease which initiated the development of the tumor remains. The tumor itself didn't come out of nowhere. It came out of an organism that has already begun to contract and shrink. 

[1] Quoted from the flyer advertising the program in advance.

[2] Reich, W. (1951). The Orgone Energy Accumulator: Its Scientific and Medical Use. Wilhelm Reich Foundation, Rangeley, ME.

[3] Reich, W. (1973). The Cancer Biopathy. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

[4] A notable exception is the paper presented by Dorothea Opferman-Fuckert at the 1986 Orgonon conference, "Reports on Treatments With Orgone Energy: 10 Selected Cases," published in the Annals of the Institute for Orgonomic Science 6:33-52.

[5] Dayton, R. 1991. Construction of a Three-Fold Orgone Energy Accumulator. Available from the Wilhelm Reich Museum.

[6] This discussion is transcribed at length in the Friends of the Wilhelm Reich Museum Newsletter 24:4-8 (1988).

[7] Published as pp.539-544 in Reich, W. Selected Writings. Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, NewYork (1961). Reprinted the Friends Newsletter 24:1-3 (1988).

[8] See pp.162-169 of Greenfield, J. 1974. Wilhelm Reich vs. the USA. Norton, NewYork. The 15 medical orgonomists tried to intervene, claiming that the injunction also interfered with their ability to practice medicine, since they used orgone accumulators. The court had ruled that the orgonomists were not bound by the injunction. This intent to get Reich, as the main aim of the FDA, is also substantiated by the research of James Turner in pp.30-33 of The Chemical Feast, Grossman Pub., New York (1970).

[9] p. see Selected Writings, op. cit., p. 543.

[10] Reich, W. (1988). "Reich at Orgonon: Alone." Friends Newsletter 23:1-2.

(We are grateful to author and lecturer J. Strick for preparing this Conference Report.)



Help us maintain the legacy of Wilhelm Reich by making a tax-deductible donation.


Copyright © 2004- Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust

Contact : 207.864.3443 | wreich@rangeley.org