wilhelm reich Quotes
Wilhelm Reich QuotesBirth Date: 1897-03-24 (Wednesday, March 24th, 1897)
Date of Death: 1957-11-03 (Sunday, November 3rd, 1957)
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wilhelm reich life timeline
|Wilhelm I of Germany is proclaimed the first German Emperor in the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles towards the end of the Franco-Prussian War. The empire was known as The Second Reich to the Germans.||Wednesday, January 18th, 1871|
- Liebe, Arbeit und Wissen sind die Quellen unseres Lebens. Sie sollen es auch regieren.
- It is sexual energy which governs the structure of human feeling and thinking.
- Unless we proceed cautiously, there might well arise a few generations of mystics who conceive of the orgone metaphysically, divorced from non-living nature and who do not comprehend it from the standpoint of natural science. And it seems to me that we have more than enough mysticism as it is.
- The discovery of orgone energy was made through consistent, thorough study of energy functions, first in the realm of the psyche, and later in the realm of biological functioning.
- Rooting in work is crucial to any accomplishment. Rooting in mere enthusiasm will in the long run force illusory measures to keep the fires of empty enthusiasm going. And this makes politics and politicians.
- Most intellectual people do not believe in God, but they fear him just the same.
- I am well aware of the fact that the human race has known about the existence of a universal energy related to life for many ages. However, the basic task of natural science consisted of making this energy usable. This is the sole difference between my work and all preceding knowledge.
- 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.
- Psychic disturbances are the consequences of the sexual chaos of society. For thousands of years, this chaos has had the function of psychically subjecting man to the prevailing conditions of existence, of internalizing the external mechanization of life. It has served to bring about the psychic anchoring of a mechanized and authoritarian civilization by making man incapable of functioning independently.
- The vital energies regulate themselves naturally without compulsive duty or compulsive morality - both of which are sure signs of existing antisocial impulses.
- The character structure of modern man, who reproduces a six-thousand-year-old patriarchal authoritarian culture is typified by characterological armoring against his inner nature and against the social misery which surrounds him. This characterolgical armoring of the character is the basis of isolation, indigence, craving for authority, fear of responsibility, mystic longing, sexual misery, and neurotically impotent rebelliousness.
- 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.
- A living creature develops a destructive impulse when it wants to destroy a source of danger. In this case, the destruction or killing of the object is the biologically purposeful goal. The original motive is not pleasure in destruction. Rather the destruction serves the 'life instinct'...and is an attempt to avoid anxiety and to preserve the ego in its totality. I destroy in a dangerous situation because I want to live and do not want to have any anxiety. In short, the impulse to destroy serves a primary biological will to live...
- Every seemingly arbitrary destructive action is a reaction of the organism to the frustration of a gratification of a vital need, especially of a sexual need.
- Sexual anxiety is caused by the external frustration of instinctual gratification and is internally anchored by the fear of the dammed-up sexual excitation. This leads to orgasm anxiety, which is the ego's fear of the over-powering excitation of the genital system due to its estrangement from the experience of pleasure. Orgasm anxiety constitutes the core of the universal, biologically anchored pleasure anxiety. It is usually expressed as a general anxiety about every form of vegetative sensation and excitation, or the perception of such excitation and sensations. The pleasure of living and the pleasure of the orgasm are identical. Extreme orgasm anxiety forms the basis of the general fear of life.
- Only the liberation of the natural capacity for love in human beings can master their sadistic destructiveness.
- Scientific theory is a contrived foothold in the chaos of living phenomena.
- Honest pioneer work in the field of science has always been, and will continue to be, life's pilot. On all sides, life is surrounded by hostility. This puts us under an obligation.
- 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.
- The elimination of individual capitalists and the replacement of private capitalism by state capitalism in Russia has not in the least altered the typical helpless and authoritarian character structure of the masses of people.
- It is obvious that the fascist mass pestilence, with its background of thousands of years, cannot be mastered with social measures corresponding to the past three hundred years. The discovery of the natural biological work democracy in international human intercourse is the answer to fascism. This will be no less true even if not one of the living sex-economists, orgone biophysicists or work democrats should live to see its general functioning and its victory over the irrationalism in social life.
- Revolutionary practice in any field of human existence develops by itself if one comprehends the contradictions in every new process; it consists in siding with those forces which act in the direction of progressive development. To be radical, according to Marx, means 'going to the root of things.' If one goes to the root of things, if one understands their contradictory character, the means of mastering the reaction become plain.
- 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.
- If the psychic energies of the average mass of people watching a football game or a musical comedy could be diverted into the rational channels of a freedom movement, they would be invincible.
- Natural work democracy is politically neither 'left' nor 'right.' It embraces anyone who does vital work; for this reason, its orientation is only and alone forward. It has no inherent intention of being against ideologies, including political ideologies. On the other hand, if it is to function, it will be forced to take a firm stand, on a factual basis, against any ideology or political party which puts irrational obstacles in its path. Yet, basically, work democracy is not 'against,' as is the rule with politics, but 'for'; for the formulation and solution of concrete tasks.
- What is new in work democracy is: that for the first time in the history of sociology, a possible future regulation of human society is derived not from ideologies or conditions that must be created, but from natural processes that have been present and have been developing from the very beginning. Work-democratic 'politics' is distinguished by the fact that it rejects all politics and demagogism. Masses of working men and women will not be relieved of their social responsibility. They will be burdened with it. Work-democrats have no ambition to be political fuhrers, nor will they ever be permitted to develop such an ambition...
- 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.
- Only a work democracy can create the foundation of genuine freedom. Long experience in sociological disputes leads me to expect that a great many people will take offense at the disclosure of this miscalculation. It makes the highest demands on people's will to veracity; it puts a heavy burden on everyday living; it places all social responsibility on those who work, be it in the factory, in the office, on the farm, in the laboratory, or wherever.
- If 'freedom' means, first of all, the responsibility of every individual for the rational determination of his own personal, professional and social existence, then there is no greater fear than that of the establishment of general freedom. Without a thoroughgoing solution of this problem there never will be a peace lasting longer than one or two generations. To solve this problem on a social scale, it will take more thinking, more honesty and decency, more conscientiousness, more economic, social and educational changes in social mass living than all the efforts made in previous and future wars and post-war reconstruction programs taken together.
- In the course of thousands of years of mechanical development, the mechanistic concept, from generation to generation, has anchored itself deeply in man's biological system. In so doing, it actually has altered human functioning in the sense of the machine-like. In the process of killing his genital function, man has become biologically rigid. He has armored himself against that which is natural and spontaneous within him, he has lost contact with the biological function of self-regulation and is filled with a strong fear of that which is alive and free.
- Work democracy does not wish to prevent or prohibit anything. Its only intention is the fulfilment of the biological life functions, of love, work and knowledge.
- The fact that political ideologies are tangible realities is not a proof of their vitally necessary character. The bubonic plague was an extraordinarily powerful social reality, but no one would have regarded it as vitally necessary.
- 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.
- 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 Ubermensch 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.
- 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.
- Under the influence of politicians, masses of people tend to ascribe the responsibility for wars to those who wield power at any given time. In World War I it was the munitions industrialists; in World War II it was the psychopathic generals who were said to be guilty. This is passing the buck. The responsibility for war falls solely upon the shoulders of these same masses of people, for they have all the necessary means to avert war in their own hands. In part by their apathy, in part by their passivity, and in part actively, these masses of people make possible the catastrophes under which they themselves suffer more than anybody else. To stress this guilt on the part of masses of people, to hold them solely responsible, means to take them seriously. On the other hand, to commiserate masses of people as victims, means to treat them as small, helpless children. The former is the attitude held by genuine freedom-fighters; the latter the attitude held by the power-thirsty politicians.
- Rulers and generals muster their troops. Magnates muster the sums of money which give them power. The fascist dictators muster the irrational human reactions which make it possible for them to attain and maintain their power over the masses. The scientists muster knowledge and means of research. But, thus far, no organization fighting for freedom has ever mustered the biological arsenal where the weapons are to be found for the establishment and the maintenance of human freedom. All precision of our social existence notwithstanding, there is as yet no definition of the word freedom which would be in keeping with natural science. No word is more misused and misunderstood. To define freedom is the same as to define sexual health. But nobody will openly admit this. The advocacy of personal and social freedom is connected with anxiety and guilt feelings. As if to be free were a sin or at least not quite as it should be. Sex-economy makes this guilt feeling comprehensible: freedom without sexual self-determination is in itself a contradiction. But to be sexual means - according to the prevailing human structure - to be sinful or guilty. There are very few people who experience sexual love without guilt feeling. 'Free love' has acquired a degrading meaning: it lost the meaning given it by the old fighters for freedom. In films and in books, to be genital and to be criminal are presented as the same thing.
- 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.
- 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.
- I have never heard you complain: 'You promote me to be the future master of myself and the world, but you don't tell me how one is to be the master of oneself, and you don't tell me the mistakes in my thinking and my actions.'
- Every physician, shoemaker, mechanic or educator must know his shortcomings if he is to do his work and make his living. For some decades, you have begun to play a governing role on this earth. It is on your thinking and your actions that the future of humanity depends. But your teachers and masters do not tell you how you really think and are; nobody dares to voice the one criticism of you which could make you capable of governing your own fate. You are 'free' only in one sense: free from education in governing your life yourself, free from self-criticism.
- You let men in power assume power 'for the Little Man'. But you yourself remain silent. You give men in power or impotent people with evil intentions the power to represent you. Only too late do you realize that again and again you are being defrauded.
- 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!
- '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?
- 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.
- The Little Man does not know that he is little, and he is afraid of knowing it. He covers up his smallness and narrowness with illusions of strength and greatness, of others' strength and greatness. He is proud of his great generals but not proud of himself. He admires thought which he did not have and not the thought he did have. He believes in things all the more thoroughly the less he comprehends them, and does not believe in the correctness of those ideas which he comprehends most easily
- Your liberators tell you that that your suppressors are Wilhelm, Nikolaus, Pope Gregory the Twenty Eighth, Morgan, Krupp or Ford. And your 'liberators' are called Mussolini, Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin. I tell you: 'Only you yourself can be your liberator!'
- This sentence makes me hesitate. I contend to be a fighter for pureness and truth. I hesitate, because I am afraid of you and your attitude towards truth. To say the truth about you is dangerous to life.
- My intellect tells me: 'Tell the truth at any cost.' The Little Man in me says: 'It is stupid to expose oneself to the little man, to put oneself at his mercy. The Little Man does not want to hear the truth about himself. He does not want the great responsibility which is his. He wants to remain a Little Man. He wants to remain a Little Man, or wants to become a little great man. He wants to become rich, or a party leader, or commander of a legion, or secretary of the society for the abolition of vice. But he does not want to assume responsibility for his work...'
- You are afraid of life, Little Man, deadly afraid. You will murder it in the belief of doing it for the sake of 'socialism,' or 'the state,' or 'national honor,' or 'the glory of God.'
- The kindly individual believes that all people are kindly and act accordingly. The plague individual believes that all people lie, swindle, steal and crave power. Clearly, then, the living is at a disadvantage and in danger.
- 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 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.
- You are Great, Little Man, when you are not small and petty. You are great when you carry on your trade lovingly, when you enjoy carving and building and painting and decorating and sowing, when you enjoy the blue sky and the deer and the dew and music and dancing, your growing children and the beautiful body of your woman or your man, when you learn to understand and think about life.
- Follow the voice of your heart, even if it leads you off the path of timid souls. Do not become hard and embittered, even if life tortures you at times. There is only one thing that counts: to live one's life well and happily...
- The absolute and static were even taken over by such dynamically oriented psychological schools as the Freudian in the form of the permanent unconscious ideas. In Jung, the unconscious psychic life was enlarged to the static 'racial unconscious' and to the static 'collective unconscious'. Along with the static viewpoint, these psychologies took over the idea of guilt, even after their separation from philosophy. In so doing, they fell into a cul de sac from which there was no way out.
- No man-made law ever, no matter whether derived from the past or projected onto a distant, unforeseeable future, can or should ever be empowered to claim that it is greater than the Natural Law from which it stems and to which it must inevitably return in the eternal rhythm of creation and decline of all things natural. This is valid, no matter whether we speak in terms such as 'God,' 'Natural Law,' 'Cosmic Primordial Force,' 'Ether' or 'Cosmic Orgone Energy.'
- The present critical state of international human affairs requires security and safety from nuisance interferences with efforts toward full, honest, determined clarification of man's relationship to nature within and without himself; in other words, his relationship to the Law of Nature. It is not permissible, either morally, legally, or factually, to force a natural scientist to expose his scientific results and methods of basic research in court. This point is accentuated in a world crisis where biopathic men hold in their hands power over ruined, destitute multitudes.
- Inquiry in the realm of Basic Natural Law is outside the judicial domain of this or ANY OTHER KIND OF SOCIAL ADMINISTRATION ANYWHERE ON THIS GLOBE, IN ANY LAND, NATION, OR REGION. Man's right to know, to learn, to inquire, to make bona fide errors, to investigate human emotions must, by all means, be safe, if the word FREEDOM should ever be more than an empty political slogan. QOTD 2007ú11ú03 Sound file
- My discovery of the Life Energy is today widely known nearly all over the globe, in hundreds of institutions, whether acclaimed or cursed. It can no longer be stopped by anyone, no matter what happens to me.
- The emotional plague is not an expression of conscious ill will or designed brutality. The structural character of the plague made its effects the more dangerous. Emotional plague is a character trait like cleanliness or deligence or truthfulness. It is biopathic behavior lived out on the social scene in interhuman relationships. The energy source of the emotional plague reactions is basically sexual frustration combined with a keen aggressiveness.
- The few bad poems which occasionally are created during abstinence are of no great interest.
- On top of the world, Looking over the edge, You could see them coming. You looked too small In their big, black car, To be a threat to the men in power.
- He had a great capacity to arouse irrational hatred obviously, and that's because his ideas were radical in the most extreme sense of the word 'radical.' His ideas have something to offend everybody, and he ended up becoming the only heretic in American history whose books were literally burned by the government. Timothy Leary spent five years in prison for unorthodox scientific ideas. Ezra Pound spent 13 years in a nuthouse for unorthodox political and economic ideas. Their books were not burned. Reich was not only thrown in prison, but they chopped up all the scientific equipment in his laboratory with axes and burned all of his books in an incinerator. Now that interests me as a civil liberties issue. When I started studying Reich's works, I went through a period of enthusiasm, followed by a period of skepticism, followed by a period of just continued interest, but I think a lot of his ideas probably were sound. A lot probably were unsound. And, I'm not a Reichian in the sense of somebody who thinks he was the greatest scientist who ever lived and discovered the basic secrets of psychology, physics and everything else, all in one lifetime. But I think he has enough sound ideas that his unpopular ideas deserve further investigation.
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