Wilhelm Reich quotes

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Wilhelm Reich

Birthdate: 24. March 1897
Date of death: 3. November 1957

Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian doctor of medicine and psychoanalyst, a member of the second generation of analysts after Sigmund Freud. The author of several influential books, most notably Character Analysis , The Mass Psychology of Fascism , and The Sexual Revolution , Reich became known as one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry.Reich's work on character contributed to the development of Anna Freud's The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence , and his idea of muscular armour—the expression of the personality in the way the body moves—shaped innovations such as body psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, bioenergetic analysis and primal therapy. His writing influenced generations of intellectuals; he coined the phrase "the sexual revolution" and according to one historian acted as its midwife. During the 1968 student uprisings in Paris and Berlin, students scrawled his name on walls and threw copies of The Mass Psychology of Fascism at police.After graduating in medicine from the University of Vienna in 1922, Reich became deputy director of Freud's outpatient clinic, the Vienna Ambulatorium. Described by Elizabeth Danto as a large man with a cantankerous style who managed to look scruffy and elegant at the same time, he tried to reconcile psychoanalysis with Marxism, arguing that neurosis is rooted in sexual and socio-economic conditions, and in particular in a lack of what he called "orgastic potency". He visited patients in their homes to see how they lived, and took to the streets in a mobile clinic, promoting adolescent sexuality and the availability of contraceptives, abortion and divorce, a provocative message in Catholic Austria. He said he wanted to "attack the neurosis by its prevention rather than treatment".From the 1930s he became an increasingly controversial figure, and from 1932 until his death in 1957 all his work was self-published. His message of sexual liberation disturbed the psychoanalytic community and his political associates, and his vegetotherapy, in which he massaged his disrobed patients to dissolve their "muscular armour", violated the key taboos of psychoanalysis. He moved to New York in 1939, in part to escape the Nazis, and shortly after arriving coined the term "orgone"—from "orgasm" and "organism"—for a biological energy he said he had discovered, which he said others called God. In 1940 he started building orgone accumulators, devices that his patients sat inside to harness the reputed health benefits, leading to newspaper stories about sex boxes that cured cancer.Following two critical articles about him in The New Republic and Harper's in 1947, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration obtained an injunction against the interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and associated literature, believing they were dealing with a "fraud of the first magnitude". Charged with contempt in 1956 for having violated the injunction, Reich was sentenced to two years imprisonment, and that summer over six tons of his publications were burned by order of the court. He died in prison of heart failure just over a year later, days before he was due to apply for parole.

Works

„In its pure form, fascism is the sum total of all irrational reactions of the average human character.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Preface to the Third Edition (August 1942)<!---->
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933)
Context: In its pure form, fascism is the sum total of all irrational reactions of the average human character. To the narrow-minded sociologist who lacks the courage to recognize the enormous role played by the irrational in human history, the fascist race theory appears as nothing but an imperialistic interest or even a mere "prejudice." The violence and the ubiquity of these "race prejudices" show their origin from the irrational part of the human character. The race theory is not a creation of fascism. No: fascism is a creation of race hatred and its politically organized expression. Correspondingly, there is a German, Italian, Spanish, Anglo-Saxon, Jewish and Arabian fascism.

„In this strictly Marxist sense, the capitalistic system continues to exist in Russia. And it will continue to exist as long as the masses of people continue to lack responsibility and to crave authority.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Preface to the Third Edition (August 1942)
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933)
Context: In the strictly Marxist sense, there is not even in Soviet Russia a state socialism but a state capitalism. According to Marx, the social condition "capitalism" does not consist in the existence of individual capitalists, but in the existence of the specific "capitalist mode of production", that is, in the production of exchange values instead of use values, in wage work of the masses and in the production of surplus value, which is appropriated by the state or the private owners, and not by the society of working people. In this strictly Marxist sense, the capitalistic system continues to exist in Russia. And it will continue to exist as long as the masses of people continue to lack responsibility and to crave authority.

„The great man, at one time, also was a very little man, but he developed one important ability: he learned to see where he was small in his thinking, and actions.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book Listen, Little Man!

Listen, Little Man! (1948)
Context: You are different from the really great man in only one thing: The great man, at one time, also was a very little man, but he developed one important ability: he learned to see where he was small in his thinking, and actions. Under the pressure of some task which was dear to him he learned better and better to sense the threat that comes from his smallness and pettiness. The great man, then, knows when and in what he is a little man.

„Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book Listen, Little Man!

Listen, Little Man! (1948)
Context: You beg for happiness in life, but security is more important to you, even if it costs you your spine or your life. Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security; love more than money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion; when your thinking will be in harmony with your feelings; when the teachers of your children will be better paid than the politicians; when you will have more respect for the love between man and woman than for a marriage license.

„You dare not think that you ever might experience your self differently: free instead of cowed; open instead of tactical; loving openly instead of like a thief in the night.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book Listen, Little Man!

Listen, Little Man! (1948)
Context: "What right do you have to tell me things?" I can see this question in your apprehensive look. I hear this question from your impertinent mouth, Little Man. You are afraid to look at yourself, you are afraid of criticism, Little Man, just as you are afraid of the power they promise you. You would not know how to use this power. You dare not think that you ever might experience your self differently: free instead of cowed; open instead of tactical; loving openly instead of like a thief in the night. You despise yourself Little Man. You say: "Who am I to have an opinion of my own, to determine my own life and to declare the world to be mine?" You are right: Who are you to make a claim to your life?

„They call you "Little Man", "Common Man"; they say a new era has begun, the "Era of the Common Man".“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book Listen, Little Man!

Listen, Little Man! (1948)
Context: They call you "Little Man", "Common Man"; they say a new era has begun, the "Era of the Common Man". It isn't you who says so, Little Man. It is they, the Vice Presidents of great nations, promoted labour leaders, repentant sons of bourgeois families, statesman and philosophers. They give you your future but don't ask about your past.

„The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will not cease to ring as long as man feels himself captive.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague;
Variant translation: The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will never cease as long as man feels himself to be trapped. No matter how different the cries for freedom may be, at bottom they always express one and the same thing: the intolerableness of the organism's rigidity and the mechanical institutions of life, which are sharply at variance with the natural sensations of life. ... Not until man acknowledges that he is fundamentally an animal, will he be able to create a genuine culture.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will not cease to ring as long as man feels himself captive. As diverse as the cries for freedom may be, basically they all express one and the same thing: The intolerability of the rigidity of the organism and of the machine-like institutions which create a sharp conflict with the natural feelings for life. Not until there is a social order in which all cries for freedom subside will man have overcome his biological and social crippling, will he have attained genuine freedom. Not until man is willing to recognize his animal nature — in the good sense of the word — will he create genuine culture.

„Everything related to the emotional plague in social life can be traced back to this incapacity and lack of consciousness. It is work-democracy's contention that, by its very nature, politics is and has to be unscientific, i.e., that it is an expression of human helplessness, poverty, and suppression.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 1 : Give Responsibility to Vitally Necessary Work!
Variant translation: Work democracy introduces into liberal thinking a decisive new insight: the working masses who carry the burden of social existence are not conscious of their social responsibility. Nor are they — as the result of thousands of years of suppression of rational thinking, of the natural love function and of the scientific comprehension of living functioning — capable of the responsibility for their own freedom. Another insight contributed by work democracy is the finding that politics is in itself and of necessity unscientific: it is an expression of human helplessness, impoverishment and suppression.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: Work-democracy adds a decisive piece of knowledge to the scope of ideas related to freedom. The masses of people who work and bear the burden of social existence on their shoulders neither are conscious of their social responsibility nor are they capable of assuming the responsibility for their own freedom. This is the result of the century-long suppression of rational thinking, the natural functions of love, and scientific comprehension of the living. Everything related to the emotional plague in social life can be traced back to this incapacity and lack of consciousness. It is work-democracy's contention that, by its very nature, politics is and has to be unscientific, i. e., that it is an expression of human helplessness, poverty, and suppression.

„You will no longer believe that you "don't count." You will know and advocate your knowledge that you are the bearer of human society. Don't run away. Don't be afraid. It is not so terrible to be the responsible bearer of human society.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book Listen, Little Man!

Listen, Little Man! (1948)
Context: You will no longer believe that you "don't count." You will know and advocate your knowledge that you are the bearer of human society. Don't run away. Don't be afraid. It is not so terrible to be the responsible bearer of human society. Inflated leaders would have no soldiers and no arms if you clearly knew, and stood up for your knowledge, that a field has to yield wheat and a factory furniture or shoes, and not arms.

„Not until man is willing to recognize his animal nature — in the good sense of the word — will he create genuine culture.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague;
Variant translation: The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will never cease as long as man feels himself to be trapped. No matter how different the cries for freedom may be, at bottom they always express one and the same thing: the intolerableness of the organism's rigidity and the mechanical institutions of life, which are sharply at variance with the natural sensations of life. ... Not until man acknowledges that he is fundamentally an animal, will he be able to create a genuine culture.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: The cry for freedom is a sign of suppression. It will not cease to ring as long as man feels himself captive. As diverse as the cries for freedom may be, basically they all express one and the same thing: The intolerability of the rigidity of the organism and of the machine-like institutions which create a sharp conflict with the natural feelings for life. Not until there is a social order in which all cries for freedom subside will man have overcome his biological and social crippling, will he have attained genuine freedom. Not until man is willing to recognize his animal nature — in the good sense of the word — will he create genuine culture.

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„It is an essential part of our social tragedy that people, like farmers, the industrial workers, the medical profession, etc., influence the social process not only by their work, but also — and even predominantly — by political ideologies.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: It is an essential part of our social tragedy that people, like farmers, the industrial workers, the medical profession, etc., influence the social process not only by their work, but also — and even predominantly — by political ideologies. For political activity hampers objective, rational activity; it splits professional organizations into warring ideological groups; it disorganizes the industrial workers: it restricts the work of the physician and harms the patients, etc. In brief, political activity prevents precisely what it pretends to achieve: peace, work, security, international cooperation, objective expression of opinion, freedom of belief, etc.

„See yourself as you really are.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book Listen, Little Man!

Listen, Little Man! (1948)
Context: See yourself as you really are. Listen to what none of your leaders and representatives dares tell you: You are a "little, common man." Understand the double meaning of these words: "little" and "common."
Don't run. Have the courage to look at yourself!

„The suppression of natural sexual gratification leads to various kinds of substitute gratifications.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Source: The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 1 : Ideology As Material Power, Section 4 : The Social Function of Sexual Suppression
Context: The suppression of natural sexual gratification leads to various kinds of substitute gratifications. Natural aggression, for example, becomes brutal sadism which then is an essential mass-psychological factor in imperialistic wars.

„Work-democracy adds a decisive piece of knowledge to the scope of ideas related to freedom.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 1 : Give Responsibility to Vitally Necessary Work!
Variant translation: Work democracy introduces into liberal thinking a decisive new insight: the working masses who carry the burden of social existence are not conscious of their social responsibility. Nor are they — as the result of thousands of years of suppression of rational thinking, of the natural love function and of the scientific comprehension of living functioning — capable of the responsibility for their own freedom. Another insight contributed by work democracy is the finding that politics is in itself and of necessity unscientific: it is an expression of human helplessness, impoverishment and suppression.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: Work-democracy adds a decisive piece of knowledge to the scope of ideas related to freedom. The masses of people who work and bear the burden of social existence on their shoulders neither are conscious of their social responsibility nor are they capable of assuming the responsibility for their own freedom. This is the result of the century-long suppression of rational thinking, the natural functions of love, and scientific comprehension of the living. Everything related to the emotional plague in social life can be traced back to this incapacity and lack of consciousness. It is work-democracy's contention that, by its very nature, politics is and has to be unscientific, i. e., that it is an expression of human helplessness, poverty, and suppression.

„It was seeing the science-fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still, about a spaceman who comes to Earth in a flying saucer to save us from self-destruction in a nuclear war.“

—  Wilhelm Reich

Contact with Space (1957)
Context: On March 20, 1956, 10 P. M. a thought of a very remote possibility entered my mind, which I fear will never leave me again. Am I a spaceman? Do I belong to a new race on earth, bred by men from outer space in embraces with earth women? Are my children offspring of the first interplanetary race? Has the melting-pot of interplanetary society already been created on our own planet, as the melting-pot of all earth nations was established in the U. S. A. 190 years ago? … What inspired this thought? It was seeing the science-fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still, about a spaceman who comes to Earth in a flying saucer to save us from self-destruction in a nuclear war. … All through the film I had a distinct impression that it was a bit of "my story" which was depicted there, even the actor's expressions and looks reminded me and others of myself as I had appeared 15 to 20 years ago.

„When I say "animal," I do not mean anything bad, cruel or "base"; I am stating a biological fact.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: MAN IS FUNDAMENTALLY AN ANIMAL. Animals, as distinct from man, are not machine-like, not sadistic; their societies, within the same species, are incomparably more peaceful than those of man. The basic question, then is: What has made the animal, man, degenerate into a machine?
When I say "animal," I do not mean anything bad, cruel or "base"; I am stating a biological fact. Man has developed the peculiar concept that he is not an animal at all, but, well — man; a creature which long since has shed that which is "bad," which is "animal." He demarcates himself in all possible ways from the bad animal and points, in proof of his "being better," to culture and civilization which distinguish him from the animal. He shows, in his whole behavior, his "theories of values," his moral philosophies, his "monkey trials" and such, that he does not want to be reminded of the fact that basically he is an animal, an animal, furthermore, which has much more in common with the "animal" than with that being which he asserts to be and dreams of being. The theory of the German Übermensch has this origin. Man shows by his maliciousness, his inability to live in peace with his kind, his wars, that what distinguishes him from the other animals is only his unbounded sadism and the mechanical trinity of the authoritarian concept of life, mechanistic science and the machine. If one looks at the results of civilization as they present themselves over long periods of time, one finds that these contentions of man are not only erroneous; more than that, they seem to be made expressly for the purpose of making man forget that he is an animal.

„It remains to be seen what part politics will play in the eradication of the political emotional plague and what part the consciously organized functions of love, work and knowledge.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Section 3 : Work Democracy versus Politics. The Natural Social Forces for the Mastery of the Emotional Plague.
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Ch. 10 : Work Democracy
Context: For a decade, the politics of the European dictators was unrivalled. In order to comprehend the essence of politics, one only has to remember that it was a Hitler who, for many years, was able to keep the world breathless. Hitler as a political genius was a magnificent unmasking of the essence of politics in general. With Hitler, politics reached the peak of its development. We know what were its fruits and what was the reaction of the world. In brief, I believe that the twentieth century, with its gigantic catastrophes, ushers in a new social era, an era free of politics. It remains to be seen what part politics will play in the eradication of the political emotional plague and what part the consciously organized functions of love, work and knowledge.

„Psychic illnesses are the result of a disturbance of the natural capacity for love.“

—  Wilhelm Reich

General Survey
The Function of the Orgasm (1927)
Context: Psychic health depends on orgastic potency, i. e., upon the degree to which one can surrender to and experience the climax of excitation in the natural sexual act. It is founded upon the healthy character attitude of the individual's capacity for love. Psychic illnesses are the result of a disturbance of the natural capacity for love.

„In the strictly Marxist sense, there is not even in Soviet Russia a state socialism but a state capitalism.“

—  Wilhelm Reich, book The Mass Psychology of Fascism

Preface to the Third Edition (August 1942)
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933)
Context: In the strictly Marxist sense, there is not even in Soviet Russia a state socialism but a state capitalism. According to Marx, the social condition "capitalism" does not consist in the existence of individual capitalists, but in the existence of the specific "capitalist mode of production", that is, in the production of exchange values instead of use values, in wage work of the masses and in the production of surplus value, which is appropriated by the state or the private owners, and not by the society of working people. In this strictly Marxist sense, the capitalistic system continues to exist in Russia. And it will continue to exist as long as the masses of people continue to lack responsibility and to crave authority.

„The unity and congruity of culture and nature, work and love, morality and sexuality, longed for from time immemorial, will remain a dream as long as man continues to condemn the biological demand for natural (orgastic) sexual gratification.“

—  Wilhelm Reich

General Survey
The Function of the Orgasm (1927)
Context: Nature and culture, instinct and morality, sexuality and achievement become incompatible as a result of the split in the human structure. The unity and congruity of culture and nature, work and love, morality and sexuality, longed for from time immemorial, will remain a dream as long as man continues to condemn the biological demand for natural (orgastic) sexual gratification.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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