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
A Hike Up Bald Mountain
OUR NEW WEBSITE
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.
BOOK DONATIONS FOR THE READING ROOM
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.
FACTUAL DISTORTIONS IN THE NEW YORKER
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
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:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORKER FROM
THE WILHELM REICH INFANT TRUST
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:
(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.)
FURTHER THOUGHTS ON MISSTATEMENTS ABOUT 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.
REICH'S STATEMENTS ABOUT CANCER AND THE ACCUMULATOR
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."
"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."
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)
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF MUSEUMS (A.A.M.)
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
REICH, RANGELEY, AND MOOSELOOKMEGUNTIC
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
A HIKE UP BALD MOUNTAIN
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.
UNTIL NEXT MONTH
Please share this Update with colleagues, friends, and family who may be interested in the life and legacy of Wilhelm Reich and the good works of The Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust and The Wilhelm Reich Museum. Thank you again for your friendship and support.