A student of Freud's and a prominent research physician in the early psychoanalytic movement, Reich immigrated to America in 1939 in flight from Nazism, and pursued research about orgone energy functions in the living organism and the atmosphere. Where's the Truth? begins in January 1948, shortly after Reich became a target of the Federal Food and Drug Administration. He had already faced persecution by the U.S. government, having been mistaken by the State Department and the FBI for both a Communist and a Nazi. Starting in 1947, Reich was hounded by the FDA, which, in 1954, obtained an injunction by default against him that enabled it to burn six tons of his published books and research journals, and to ban the use of one of his most important experimental research tools—the orgone energy accumulator. Challenging the right of a court to judge basic scientific research, Reich was imprisoned in March 1957 and died in the U.S. Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, eight months later.
The text gathered here shows Reich's steadfast determination to protect his work. "Where's the truth?" he asked a lawyer, and that question animates this volume and rounds out our understanding of a unique, irrepressible modern figure.
Wilhelm Reich's many works include Character Analysis, The Function of the Orgasm, The Cancer Biopathy, Cosmic Superimposition, and earlier autobiographical writings: Passion of Youth, American Odyssey, and Beyond Psychology—all published by FSG. An early disciple of Freud's, he came to America in 1939, published The Function of the Orgasm in 1942, and died in 1957.
"I looked up every day from behind the bars to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Her light shone brightly into a dark night." With these words, Wilhelm Reich described his experience as an "enemy alien" imprisoned on Ellis Island in the aftermath of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
American Odyssey, compiled from his correspondence and journals, chronicles Reich's first years in America. They were years of prodigious accomplishment in which he developed the orgone energy accumulator-the so-called orgone box; published his first books in English; made breakthroughs in his investigation of orgone energy in social pathology, physics, astronomy, and cancer; and interested none other than Albert Einstein in testing his theories. America brought a new marriage, a new son, a new group of students, and a new laboratory. But these were years of fierce struggle as well: the denial of an American medical license, the refusal of a patent on the orgone accumulator, and, finally, a slanderous article that would incite the Food and Drug Administration to the dogged attack on Reich that would continue until his death in another prison cell ten years later.
American Odyssey reveals more than a period in the life of an embattled scientist. It discloses the social and intellectual life of a country in a tumultuous time in history.