Wilhelm Reich is a noted psychiatrist whose progressive ideas influenced a generation of intellectuals including Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow, William Burroughs and Robert Anton Wilson and inspired innovations in the psychoanalytic field such as Gestalt Therapy and Primal Therapy.These days he is best known as the promoter of Orgone Energy, an idea that was quickly dismissed by his fellow psychologists and the scientific community when he first introduced it.
Wilhelm Reich first started to think about Orgone while working on Freud’s concept of libido. Reich believed that libido could have a material, physical expression. He called this substance “Orgone” which derived its name from the root word of “orgasm” and Reich theorized that it was not just connected to human sexuality but was the primordial force of life itself, a kind of cosmic energy that filled all space. He defined Orgone as a substance without mass that was omnipresent on Earth and had other properties such as being in constant motion, being the medium for gravitational and electromagnetic energy and that matter could arise from it spontaneously under the proper conditions. He also believed that Orgone could be measured and manipulated using specially-built devices.
The most famous device Reich built to manipulate Orgone was the Orgone Accumulator. This was a box-like device whose walls were made of alternating organic and metallic materials and allowed patients to sit inside it to absorb Orgone Energy through their skin, in order to release energy-blocks and improve the flow of life energy throughout the body. Reich also founded the Orgone Institute to continue his researches into this life energy. However, the US Food and Drug Administration filed suit against Reich in 1954, claiming he made misleading and false claims for his devices following his work with cancer patients. A judge eventually issued an injunction against the Orgone Accumulator that ordered all of the devices owned or rented by Reich destroyed. Two years later, however, Reich was sentenced to a two-year term for violating the injunction, after two of his students moved some accumulators. He died of heart failure in 1957 while serving his sentence.
Another device that Reich claimed could manipulate Orgone were cloud busters, which allegedly could cause it to rain. Cloud busters sucked Orgone from the atmosphere, causing clouds to form, and subsequently making it rain. Reich called this process cloud busting.
The most famous experiment involving cloud busters was the so-called Maine Blueberry Experiment, which Reich conducted on July 6, 1953. Drought threatened Maine’s blueberry crop and Reich accepted a commission from the local farmers to make it rain. Reich and his assistants set up the cloud buster, an array of hollow tubes connected to a container by hoses to collect the Orgone. After drawing Orgone out of the sky for around seventy minutes, it started raining on the evening of July 6 up to the early morning of July 7; by the following morning rainfall of 0.24 inches had been recorded. The success of the Wilhelm Reich cloud busting experiment served as one of a number of remarkable validations of his theories regarding Orgone .