Sexuality
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren and the Politics of SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalIt’s Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in CrisisSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe Story of SexThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebVirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshZen Sex

Related Topics
Wilhelm ReichReview - Wilhelm Reich
Psychoanalyst and Radical Naturalist
by Robert S. Corrington
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2003
Review by Max Hocutt, Ph.D.
Nov 26th 2003 (Volume 7, Issue 48)

Yes, you have heard of him. Wilhelm Reich was the certified nut case who joined a mutilated Freudianism with a mutilated Marxism to create the kooky idea that the evils of society are attributable to sexual repression in the service of capitalist exploitation, the cure for which is more and better orgasms --a form of "therapy" that the good Doctor Reich generously provided many of his female patients. His views having been rejected by orthodox Freudians and Marxists, a discouraged Reich went on to discover "orgone energy" and invent "bion theory," which were rejected by the physicists and biologists.  Despite these setbacks, Reich had a popular following in the twenties and thirties, and then again in the sixties and seventies, among the sexually discontented and the politically disaffected. 

Corrington's book combines a psychoanalytical rendering of Reich's troubled life (which consisted largely of a search for sexual gratification) with a tribute to Reich's prolific writings, most of which were published at his own expense   According to Corrington, the writings, though brilliant, are expressions of the life, which was marred by psychopathology.  Never sensed, much less resolved, is the paradox inherent in this claim. Corrington, who shares Reich's view that he was a martyr to science, is simply too enthralled by his subject to notice the difficulty.  In fact, so enamored is he of Reich that Professor Corrington is not content merely to declare that Reich made advances on Freud and Marx. A professor of "philosophical theology" at Drew University, Corrington also declares that Reich made advances on Einstein and Darwin. Unfortunately, Corrington's jargon laden summaries of Reich's writings achieve the opposite of what he intends:  They reveal not how sensible but how nutty the man was.

The first three chapters of Professor Corrington's book deal with Reich's advances on Freud, for whom Corrington also has great enthusiasm. Reich differed from his mentor in claiming that all neuroses are misdirected ventings of bottled up energy caused by genital frustrations and needing release in orgasms. Though Reich thought this modification an improvement, it was heretical enough to cause Freud's more orthodox disciples to excommunicate him from the psychoanalytic church. Yet Professor Corrington, who likes Freud's metaphors but likes Reich's even better, believes that Reich stands to Freud as Einstein stands to Newton.  Apparently oblivious to the work of such critics as the philosopher of science Adolph Grunbaum, Professor Corrington, shows no awareness that scientifically minded persons regard views like Freud's and Reich's as more poetry than science.  Because they are expressed in evocative metaphor and vague symbol rather than in precise and falsifiable prediction, such views are much more at home in departments of English literature than in departments of scientific psychology.  Pursued only by people lacking familiarity with the methods of science, what Corrington praises as "depth psychology," meaning free form speculation about the unverifiable workings of "the unconscious mind," would be more aptly derided as literary psychology. Whatever it is called, it has little demonstrable relation to the real world.

Corrington's fourth chapter exposes Reich's psychoanalytic version of Marxism. We are told that Reich subscribed to the [wholly unfounded] speculation--first advanced by Marx's collaborator Engels but later revived by the cultural anthropologist Malinowski-- that pre-historical society was matriarchal, so more accepting of a natural and uninhibited sexuality than the repressive patriarchy that replaced it.  Engels had seen in monogamy and the nuclear family efforts to extend and consolidate patriarchal control of property, which included women.  Reich thought he could improve on this theory by seeing in sexual restraint and marital fidelity harmful shackles on female sexuality, which, he was convinced, must be let loose if society is to produce healthy and happy individuals. Unfortunately, when he unwisely used this theory to explain Nazism, Reich had to leave Germany.  When he went so far as to reduce to sexual taboos the conflicts between economic classes that Marx and Engels had declared the key to history, he was thrown out of the Communist Party too.

Corrington's last three chapters tell the rest of the story.  Rejected by the very people who, Reich believed, should have been his closest friends and allies, Reich emigrated--first from Vienna to Berlin, then to Switzerland, then to Copenhagen.  Finally arriving in America, he extended his psychoanalytic modes of thought to biology and physics, then to cosmology and theology, making still more unacknowledged advances.  "Orgasmic therapy" and Communist politics gave way to "orgone therapy," as Reich claimed to have discovered the cause and cure for not just sexual dysfunction but also cancer.  Reich gathered this magical stuff in "orgone collectors" and sold it to clients until the FDA raided his establishment, destroyed his equipment, and sent him to jail, where he died having identified orgone energy with God and himself with Christ, the son of God.  Despite this, Professor Corrington persists to the end in denying that there was evidence to support the court psychiatrist who judged Reich to be a paranoid schizophrenic.  In Corrington's view, this diagnosis of megalomaniac delusion was a misreading of what was only a case of "psychic inflation" and "social displacement."

I would put it differently:  Reich was a lunatic of whom sane and sensible people wanted, and should still want, no part. 

 

© 2003 Max Hocutt

 

Max Hocutt Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Philosophy The University of Alabama and author of Grounded Ethics: The Empirical Bases of Normative Judgm


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7800 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716