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January 2005 Update
The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust
& The Wilhelm Reich Museum

We thank you for your continual interest and support. For newcomers to our e-mail Update list, none of the names on this list--nor the names of any Museum visitors, conference attendees or bookstore customers--are shared with any other individuals or organizations. If at any time you wish to be removed from this list, please let us know. All previous Updates, dating from March 2004, available online.

You can access them through the Updates option at the top of this page or via the Quick Links along the left side of the page. These Updates provide the best contemporaneous accounts of the Trust's ongoing activities over the past six years.

Our New Website
Book Donations for the Reading Room
Factual Distortions in The New Yorker
Letter to The New Yorker
Misstatements About Reich
Reich's Statements About Cancer and the Accumulator
American Association of Museums (AAM)
Reich, Rangeley, and Mooselookmeguntic
Exploring Mooselookmeguntic
A Hike Up Bald Mountain 


On Friday, November 26th, we launched our new website. It's still a work in progress, and we hope to add new content and visuals each month. The website features accurate biographical information about Reich, an historic overview of The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust and Museum, reports on several past Summer Conferences, online purchasing from the Museum Bookstore, an archive of all Monthly Updates, and much more. 


Over the years, friends, supporters--and sometimes complete strangers--have donated books by and about Reich. These have included original Orgone Institute Press editions of Reich's publications, newer editions, biographical works and other secondary sources. Interestingly, some of these materials come from relatives of family members who were involved or interested in Reich's work when he was still alive.

All of these materials are welcome resources for our recently opened Reading Room. If you have any "surplus" literature relating to Reich and his work, please consider the Wilhelm Reich Museum as an appropriate home for these materials. The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust, which operates the Museum, is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, entitling you to a tax deduction for any donation. 


The New Yorker is a wonderful magazine, with a well deserved reputation for quality fiction, non-fiction, and some of the most memorable cartoons in any American publication. The late William Steig--a personal friend and supporter of Reich's, and a loyal supporter The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust--was one of the magazine's stable of regularly published cartoonists. So it was disappointing to read a recent article in The New Yorker that repeated the most common and destructive misrepresentations about Reich.

The January 3, 2005 issue included an article entitled "The Dictionary of Disorder" by Alix Spiegel, a profile about an influential psychiatrist who transformed the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)--"the official listing of all mental diseases recognized by the American Psychiatric Association"--into a scientific instrument that established widely-accepted professional benchmarks.

The article's opening paragraph contained the following:

Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian psychoanalyst and a student of Sigmund Freud who, among other things, had marketed a device that he called the orgone accumulator--an iron appliance, the size of a telephone booth, that he claimed could both enhance sexual powers and cure cancer.

The statement's errors demand a reply lengthier than the magazine normally permits its letters to "The Mail". Below is the Trust's necessarily succinct response, e-mailed to the magazine on January 5th, refuting the article's most egregious falsehoods: 


In "The Dictionary of Disorder" (January 3rd), Alix Spiegel repeats common slanders and inaccuracies about Wilhelm Reich, M.D., completely ignoring Reich's own words. Spiegel asserts that Reich claimed the orgone accumulator "could both enhance sexual powers and cure cancer." Reich's book The Cancer Biopathy (1948) includes the following:

"I do not publish this book without serious concern, mainly that many readers of our literature will now assume that a cure for cancer has been found. This is not at all the case." (p. xxv); "Dr. Reich did not promise me any cure, did not charge any money," from the affidavit signed by families of Reich's terminal cancer patients. (p. 319); "I would like to describe the disappointments and failures we experienced if for no other reason than to forestall the impression that we now have a cure-all." (p. 320); "It is a dangerous illusion to think that cancer can ever be overcome with any single treatment, whether it be drugs, the knife, or orgone energy" (p. 401).

Regarding "sexual powers": from a 1947 letter sent from Reich's Orgone Institute to accumulator users: "The orgone accumulator does not, as you well know, create sexual excitement, but it solely increases the general biological energy level of the organism. It cannot provide orgastic potency, as the slanderous article by [Mildred] Brady [New Republic May, 26, 1947] maliciously stated. Unfortunately this wrong statement was taken over blindly by irresponsible writers in other publications."

If Ms. Spiegel, or anyone else, can cite statements by Reich about cancer and "sexual powers" that claim otherwise, we have yet to see them.

Board of Directors - The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust:
     Robert Dayton
     Mary Higgins
     Kevin Hinchey
     Wilbur Rippy

(The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust, established by Reich in 1957, operates the Wilhelm Reich Museum in Rangeley, ME; manages the Reich Archives at the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University; and since 1960 has worked with Farrar Straus & Giroux to publish over 20 titles by Reich.) 


We do not attribute any malicious intent to either The New Yorker or the writer. Falsifications about Reich's work have long taken on a life of their own, and are frequently repeated as fact simply because of their durability and prevalence. But these distortions, willful or not, continue to be destructive and must be immediately addressed. We hope that correcting these falsehoods with Reich's own words will, at the very least, prevent intellectually honest individuals from repeating their mistakes. More troubling, of course, are those who continue to issue false statements about Reich even when presented with clear refutations of those statements.

In any case, we are reminded of a sentiment from Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union address in 1860: "You need to be told that persisting in a charge which one does not know to be true is simply malicious slander."

Since Ms. Spiegel's article was not specifically about Reich, and the magazine has limited space for letters, we're not optimistic about our response being printed. And as of today (Friday, January 14), The New Yorker still has not contacted us to verify authorship as is the custom when letters have been selected for publication. We're confident, however, that our response will be read by the writer and the magazine editors.

We'd like to thank our friends and supporters who notified us about this article, as well as those who took the time to write and submit their own responses to The New Yorker. 


The following quotations are from The Cancer Biopathy, published in 1948. Page numbers refer to the Farrar Straus & Giroux edition:

"I do not publish this book without serious concern, mainly that many readers of our literature will now assume that a cure for cancer has been found. This is not at all the case." (p. xxv)

"The cancer tumor is merely a visible symptom of the disease we call cancer. Localized treatment of the cancer tumor by surgery or irradiation with radium or X-ray therefore constitutes treatment of a symptom only, not of the disease itself. In this regard, death from cancer is not the result of the presence of one or more tumors. It is, rather, the final result of the systemic biological disease cancer which is caused by a disintegration process in the total organism." (p. 151)

"I shall now proceed with the description of the application of [orgone] therapy in human cancer. Before doing so, I want to emphasize once again that I am not offering any final solutions. I am merely submitting a report of my important findings, even though they are punctuated by gaps, doubts, and uncertainties." (p. 309)

Affidavit signed by family members of Reich's terminal patients: "I state herewith that I came to see Dr. Wilhelm Reich for possible help in the case of my ____ who suffers from cancer. I came because I was told of the experiments that Dr. Reich has made with cancer mice and human beings. Dr. Reich did not promise me any cure, did not charge any money, and told me that only during the last few months has he tried the orgone radiation on human beings who suffer from cancer. Death or abscesses could occur as a consequence of the disease. I told Dr. Reich that the physicians have given up the case of my _____ as hopeless. Should death or abscesses occur during the time of the experiment, it will not be because of the treatment." (p. 319)

"I would like to describe the disappointments and failures we experienced if for no other reason than to forestall the impression that we now have a cure-all, the means to cure cancer under all circumstances." (p. 320)

"In all my publications on the subject of the cancer biopathy, I emphasized the deep rootedness of cancer and the failures of our treatment compared to isolated, astonishing successes. In traditional medicine the failures are not talked about." (p. 333)

"Of course it will be possible to eliminate a few tumors and save a few lives. But it is a dangerous illusion to think that cancer can ever be overcome with any single treatment, whether it be drugs, the knife, or orgone energy." (p. 401) 


The A.A.M. comprises hundreds of museum professionals from across the country. And in May 2005, Mary Higgins--Director of The Wilhelm Reich Museum--will attend the association's five-day Annual Meeting and Museum Expo in Indianapolis. The theme of the meeting is "A Defining Moment: Museums at the Crossroads." The program brochure's introductory paragraph addresses the challenges faced today by museums everywhere, and certainly applies to The Wilhelm Reich Museum:

Sometimes our professional lives seem more like a track and field event than a day at the office; we're in a race against time, juggling multiple tasks, doing more for less, meeting deadlines--all of these factors create a greater demand on our resources. At the AAM annual meeting, learn proven techniques and strategies to thrive--not just survive--in an ever-changing world.

Billed as "the most comprehensive conference and exposition for museum professionals," the Indianapolis meeting offers a variety of keynote speakers, over 140 individual program sessions, and opportunities to network with other museum professionals. 


Orgonon is a unique resource for deepening one's appreciation of Reich and his work, chiefly because it preserves the physical and scientific environment in which Reich worked and lived. But Orgonon's location in the Rangeley Lakes region of Maine also allows one the opportunity to further deepen that appreciation by visiting other places in the area that were significant to Reich.

For example, four miles west of Orgonon is Mooselookmeguntic Lake, one of the six major Rangeley Lakes. The others are Rangeley, Cupsuptic, Upper Richardson, Lower Richardson, and Umbagog. On Reich's first visit to the region in 1940, he stayed in a small waterfront cabin on Bald Mountain Road, on the eastern shore of Mooselookmeguntic. It was here that he made observations of the night sky--described in The Cancer Biopathy--leading him to conclude that orgone energy existed in the atmosphere and was, in fact, everywhere. Later that same year, Reich bought a cabin farther down the road where he spent the next few summers continuing his atmospheric orgone experiments and observations. (Reich purchased the property known as Orgonon in 1942, and began developing it several years later.)

While the eastern shore of Mooselookmeguntic has developed and changed considerably since then, its western shore remains remarkably natural and pristine, due largely to the land preservation efforts of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust and the Seven Islands Paper Company. Consequently, Mooselookmeguntic is a wonderful place to explore for both recreational reasons and to appreciate its value to Reich and his work. 


There are two public launches for canoes and kayaks: Haines Landing, west of the town of Oquossoc; and the Stephen Phillips Memorial Preserve, several miles south of town. The Phillips Preserve comprises 400 acres of woodland and four miles of lake frontage, offering 60 campsites including wilderness sites on the lake's islands and remote shoreline. (The August 2004 issue of DownEast magazine called the Phillips Preserve the best public campground in Maine.) 


Another popular way to appreciate Mooselookmeguntic is atop Bald Mountain, a relatively easy hike from the Bald Mountain Road. This modest climb goes from an elevation of 1500 ft. to 2300 ft. The mountaintop affords a spectacular panorama of Mooselookmeguntic directly below, as well as all of the other Rangeley Lakes. This is by far the most popular hike in the region, and a favorite among families.


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Contact : 207.864.3443 | wreich@rangeley.org