Passion of Youth
An Autobiography, 1897–1922
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux – 1988
"I was born in a small village as the first child of not unprosperous parents. My father was a farmer who, together with an uncle of my mother's, had leased a fairly large landed estate in northern Bukovina, the farthest outpost of German culture. From the beginning, my mother tongue was German, as was my schooling."
Wilhelm Reich, M.D.
(opening paragraph of Passion of Youth)
Passion of Youth is the first posthumous publication of Wilhelm Reich's biographical writings, and reveals that Reich's childhood, adolescence and early adulthood--no less than his work--were provocative and instructive. This 178-page volume is comprised of three sections: "Childhood and Puberty: 1897–1914," "The Great War: 1914–1918," and "Vienna: 1918–1922."
In "Childhood and Puberty"--a reminiscence which Reich composed in 1919--Reich tells of his earliest years spent on a country estate in Bukovina. He describes his first conscious experiences of sexuality; the further development of his sexuality; his schooling; and the catastrophic infidelity that led first to his mother's suicide in 1910, and then to his father's death in 1914.
In "The Great War" Reich describes how he fled Bukovina at the outbreak of World War One and enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army, where he became a battalion commander and lieutenant. He recounts how his four years in the military impressed upon him the masses' numb obedience to authority and the automatic quality of a ceaselessly operating "war machine."
And in "Vienna: 1918–1922" Reich recalls his years as a medical student at the University of Vienna, from which he graduated in 1922. His diaries from these years record the growth of his conviction that sexuality is the core around which one's social life and inner life revolves; his first political stirrings; and his analysis of the woman who would become his first wife.
Throughout this book, Reich's reminiscences and diaries abound in turbulent emotions and the passion of youth.
Read an excerpt [PDF]
Bookstore Special: All four of Reich's autobiographical volumes, Passion of Youth, Beyond Psychology, American Odyssey, and Where's the Truth/, are available as a set for discounted price.