Obit’s Dead of the Day: Wilhelm Reich, March 24, 1897 – November 3, 1957

Wilhelm Reich, like Sigmund Freud, was an Austrian psychoanalyst. But that’s where the comparison ends – Reich was Freud’s acolyte,  a member of the second generation of original analysts, but in his own way – more radical than Freud, since Reich’s theories had almost everything to do with sex and sexual oppression. He originated the idea that sexual and political oppression were totally related – and had constant affairs with patients in between several marriages. Reich practiced in Vienna, Berlin, Oslo – eventually ending up in New York, and teaching at the New School. Reich was best known for reaching outside the boundaries of psychoanalysis to the physical – even massaging both male and female patients to ostensibly break down their so-called “body armour.” He then got into the idea of orgasms are bioelectrical discharges that can alter and clear body and brain chemistry for the better. And, as a proponent of sex as a form of therapy, Reich’s methodologies naturally met with rebellion from his peers. Eventually, Reich came up with the theory that he’d be most associated with: the orgone theory, which is based on a connection between sex and mysticism. In New York, he preached the theory, taught it – and then got attacked by the psychoanalytic community in New York. However, after this death, other analysts and doctors adapted it, and Reich’s thought of today as a psycho-sexual researcher ahead of his time.

Also having transcended the planet on November 3: French painter Henri Matisse, in 1954 (at 84), and American philanthropist Solomon Guggenheim (88), a businessman born into a wealthy family, who enhanced the family fortune, created the Guggenheim Foundation and New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

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