What Exactly Is Orgone?
"Orgone" from Wikipedia.com
Orgone energy is an idea which was proposed and promoted in the 1930s by psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, who originated the term to describe a universal life force. Reich, originally part of Freud's Vienna circle, believed that Freud's concept of libido had an actual biological basis, and developed a therapeutic practice that was ostensibly designed to open up this bodily energy in the belief - following Freud - that healthy psychological state derived from uninhibited libidinal flow. This biophysical theory eventually developed into the concept of orgone (a word coined from the same root as "organism" and "orgasm"): which Reich saw as a massless, omnipresent substance, similar to luminiferous aether, but more closely associated with vital, living energy than inert matter. Orgone would coalesce and create organization on all scales, from the smallest microscopic units - called bions in orgone theory - to macroscopic structures like organisms, clouds, or even galaxies. Reich's follower Charles R. Kelley went so far as to claim that orgone was the creative substratum in all of nature, comparable to Mesmer's animal magnetism, the Odic force of Carl Reichenbach and Henri Bergson's élan vital. Reich believed that many diseases, and particularly cancer, were caused by deficits or constrictions in the flow of orgone in the body, and developed specially designed "orgone accumulators" which supposedly charged the body with orgone collected from the atmosphere. These devices were distributed as devices to improve general health and increase sexual potency, and later were adopted into tools such as cloudbusters, devices intended to stimulate rainfall.
History The concept of orgone belongs to Reich's later work, after he immigrated to the US. Reich's early work was based on the Freudian concept of the libido, though influenced by sociological understandings with which Freud disagreed but which were to some degree followed by other prominent theorists such as Herbert Marcuse and Carl Jung. While Freud had focused on a solipsistic conception of mind in which unconscious and inherently selfish primal drives (primarily the sexual drive, or libido) were suppressed or sublimated by internal representations (cathexes) of parental figures (the superego), for Reich libido was a life-affirming force repressed by society directly. For example, in one of his better known analyses Reich observes a worker's political rally, noting that participants were careful not to violate signs that prohibited walking on the grass; Reich saw this as the state co-opting unconscious responses to parental authority as a means of controlling behavior. He was expelled from the Institute of Psycho-analysis because of these disagreements over the nature of the libido and his increasingly political stance and was forced to leave Germany very soon after Hitler came to power. Reich with one of his cloudbusters, which he said could manipulate streams of orgone to produce rain. However, Reich took an increasingly bioenergetic view of libido. In the early 20th century, when molecular biology was in its infancy, developmental biology in particular still presented mysteries that made the idea of a specific life energy respectable, as was articulated by theorists such as Hans Driesch. As a psycho-analyst Reich aligned such theories with the Freudian libido, while as a materialist he believed such a life-force must be susceptible to physical experiment. He wrote in The Function of the Orgasm; "Between 1919 and 1921, I became familiar with Driesch's 'Philosophie des Organischen' and his 'Ordnungslehre'...Driesch's contention seemed incontestable to me. He argued that, in the sphere of the life function, the whole could be developed from a part, whereas a machine could not be made from a screw..... However, I couldn't quite accept the transcendentalism of the life principle. Seventeen years later I was able to resolve the contradiction on the basis of a formula pertaining to the function of energy. Driesch's theory was always present in my mind when I thought about vitalism. The vague feeling I had about the irrational nature of his assumption turned out to be justified in the end. He landed among the spiritualists." The concept of orgone was the result of this work in the psycho-physiology of libido. After his migration to the US, Reich began to speculate about biological development and evolution, and then branched out into much broader speculations about the nature of the universe. Believing he had detected "bions" - self-luminescent sub-cellular vesicles visible in decaying materials, and presumably present universally - he first conceived them as electrodynamic or radioactive entities, as had the Ukrainian biologist Alexander Gurwitsch, but later concluded from his research that he had discovered an entirely unknown but measurable force, which he then named "orgone", a pseudo-Greek formation probably from org- "impulse, excitement" as in org-asm, plus -one as in ozone (the Greek neutral participle, virtually *οργων). For Reich neurosis became a physical manifestation he called "body armor" - deeply seated tensions and inhibitions in the physical body that were not separated from any mental effects that might be observed. He developed a therapeutic approach he called vegetotherapy that was aimed at opening and releasing this body armor so that free instinctive reflexes - which he considered a token of psychic well-being - could take over.