Monday, July 25, 2011

Wilhelm Reich: Marxist Fruitbat

We've Repeatedly pointed out that with NO Biological Science and Scientific Fraud by the Bucket being used to Sell Chemical and/or Electrical Lobotomies, Psychiatric Illnesses are Not real Medical Illnesses.
They are Political Illnesses. And one of the farthest Left leaning cities in America, San Francisco, has adopted the rhetoric of Change Agents as Department of Public Health, US Government Funded, Official Policy to determine that:
Because, Collectivist Group Think is the Ultimate Goal.
We've Also seen just what that Collectivist Group Think actually Thinks of the Truth, at City Hall.
And what those Group Thinkers think of Themselves

But then what do you Expect, from people who are still enamored of Wilhelm Reich, and MARXISM?
In Defense Of Marxism has;

For a long period in his life Wilhelm Reich considered himself a Marxist. He applied the scientific method of Marxism to his research into Psychoanalysis and this led him to break with many of the theories of Freud. At one stage he came close to Trotsky, but then drifted away. Under intense persecution he eventually broke with Marxism and even revised some of his earlier brilliant insights. Alessandro D'Aloia looks at the rise and fall of Reich.
This article was first published in Italian on the web site of the journalFalceMartello. The original Italian version can be found at Marxismo e psicoanalisi (la figura di Wilhelm Reich).
Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) was a Marxist, a psychologist and a scientist. His written works are invaluable resources in understanding the relationships existing between Marxism and psychoanalysis without requiring the special approach or knowledge of a student of psychology. His personal tragedies illustrate how a wide range of otherwise abstract issues can manifest and interconnect with one’s life.

His Education

Neither Reich’s historical role nor his works are recognized by most psychoanalysts, be they students, professionals or simple amateurs. This state of affairs enabled renowned intellectuals, such as those from the “Frankfurt School”, to easily pillage from his works (especially those from his most manifestly Marxist period) without ever giving a nod of acknowledgement to Reich and, moreover, without anyone ever realizing that fact.
As a result, today most people who have an interest in psychology learn little more than Freud’s classics. This leads to a lack of any knowledge of a number of major contributions made to psychology, such as Reich’s, which are essential reading in order to fully understand psychoanalysis, its current contradictions, and its current class standpoint. Were these contributions more widely known, the so-called “reformed” Freudian postulates would be completely undermined and their reactionary implications would be exposed.
Reich’s most well-known work is “The Sexual Revolution”, published in Vienna in 1930. His scientific products have a much broader scope than Freud’s, including important works such as: “The Function of Orgasm”, “The Irruption of Coercive Sexual Morale”, “The Individual and the State”, “Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis”, and “Mass Psychology of Fascism”. Reich was an active member of the International Psychoanalytic Society (IPS), which had been founded by Freud. At the time of his first publishing (of “The Function of Orgasm”) he was widely acknowledged as the most gifted of all Freud’s disciples. But even within that very work were, in essence, all of those elements of thought which were to clash with Freud during his “second period”.
Reich agreed with Freud that sexual development was the fundamental origin of mental disorder. Together, they advocated the following positions: that most psychological activity was ruled by subconscious processes; that children quickly develop an active sexuality; that children’s sexual energy is the cause of most psychological developments; that infant sexuality is subsequently repressed and that this has major consequences for mental health; that morality does not derive from any supernatural being or set of rules, but that it is the product of imposed repressions against the sexuality of individuals as they progress in age from a child, to a teenager and finally to an adult.
Reich went on, seeking to develop these ideas and to cohere them with concrete findings. He explored and exposed the relationships between sexual life and bourgeois morality, then proceeded to address in the same fashion the connection between bourgeois morality itself and the social and economic structures that produced and influenced it. Reich wrote that bourgeois sexual repression and its subconscious influences were the main causes of neuroses. He advanced the idea that a sexual life that was free from feelings of guilt would be the best therapy to treat those neuroses. He concluded by stating that such a liberation from shame and repression could only be realized through a non-authoritarian morality, which in turn would only come from an economic system that had been able to overcome and abolish repression.
However, Freud was soon to alter the content of his thoughts, and in the process he would break with those ideas that Reich agreed with Freud upon and had taken as his starting point. In 1926, in the work, “The Inhibition, Symptom and Anxiousness”,Freud claimed that, “...[it is] anxiousness that produces repression and not, as I believed in the past, that repression produces anxiousness...” This was a turn of 180 degrees. Freud’s new theory claimed that anxiousness (sexual anxiety) was something endogenous, from within the individual psyche. Thus, Freud no longer considered it to be the by-product of external, social conditions. All external, objective, environmental factors were simply dropped from Freud’s analyses.
Freud’s new body of ideas became a vehicle for all those theories that maintain that all human “faults” are inherent within the physical being of men and women (for example, the idea that there is a gene that causes criminality). This is in stark contradiction to the materialist conception, which holds that it is mankind’s social conditions of existence that shape general and individual consciousness – not vice versa. From the moment that Freud rejected materialist philosophy, his theories were destined to become nothing more than an acceptance of society as it is, thus ruling out the possibility of creating real solutions to the medical problems he was seeking to address.
These changes in Freud’s position occurred at a very significant time – the final years of the 1920’s. At that time the general mood was that, with the seemingly unstoppable rise of Nazism, the fascists would surely disband the IPS if the body did not revise its theoretical foundations. As it turned out, threats of repression led to Nazism having an influence on the thinking of many bourgeois scientists, even those who were beyond any suspicion of having Nazi sympathies themselves. Freud was just one of many bourgeois scientists affected in this way.

His Work

Whilst Freud was practicing self-censorship, in 1928 Reich dared to join the Austrian Communist Party (ACP). He quickly proved himself to be a very active militant. He was convinced, as a determined Marxist, that the only way to undertake effective action against the capitalist system was through political activity organized by the workers themselves on the shop floor. In the same year Reich, together with other left-wing doctors, had founded the Socialist Association for Sexual Counselling and Research. This new group was supported by the ACP, and it organised “centres for psychological counselling”. The goal was for these to be the first clinical centres to address the psychological issues of workers and to accept them as patients – rather than treat bored bourgeois, who were natural clients for the Freudians.
Wilhelm Reich
One must keep in mind that Reich did not take a utopian stance on the question of how to solve the masses’ psychological ailments. This is proven by his belief that neuroses and emotional disorders were produced by a given social structure that is capitalistic and authoritarian, as well as by his scientifically correct conclusion that by smashing capitalism and building a socialist society, thereby ridding society of these negative features, those psychological disorders would be rendered impossibilities.
Reich’s new research association enjoyed a lengthy patient roster, the size of which allowed for a wealth of thorough, consistent and frequent studies. Naturally, these provided some immediate benefits to the worker-patients. By handling a large number of clinical cases, much greater than what the Freudians encountered in their work, Reich provided exceptional statistical support for his research and his conclusions. His subsequent works were to include a number of observations and cases that was incomparably bigger than that of his “competitors”.
These experiences also provided Wilhelm Reich with an intimate understanding of many social problems. For example, the soaring number of unwanted pregnancies, which was increasing as a result of a period of forced “demographic development”. His experiences with workers also strengthened his opposition to the absurd idea of aseptic clinical work, which was the method that all other “professionals” supported at the time. They felt it unnecessary and worthless to consider the question of relationships between mental illness and its possible social causes.
Reich wrote the following on his experiences of that time:
In most cases, we hardly had any reason to provide people with a proper medical diagnosis. On the contrary, using such a tool, that is hiding behind it, meant closing your eyes in front of the principal problem. That would have been really stupid, other than criminal, for the mother and the child to be...those women, those girls were totally unable to love a child, taking care of him, help him to grow up and not destroying his life. All those women, with no exception, were extremely disordered from an emotional point of view. All of them, with no exception again, had a disturbed relationship (if any) with the man that put them into trouble. They were frigid, shattered by exploitation, sadist deep down in their conscience, or openly masochist ... in most cases they had other three or six children or rather they were bringing up somebody else’s. They just hated their babies even before they were born. Quite often they were beaten up by alcoholic husbands. They hated the children around them. Talking about “holy motherly love” in front of such a criminal suffering would have sounded criminal, indeed.”
Such apalling conditions moved Reich to produce a profound analysis of the affect of bourgeois morality on women’s psychological development. In this way Reich provided an important scientific contribution to the issue of the “liberation of women”. On this issue he openly polemicized against the contemporary “sexual hygiene specialists”, who explicitly preached feminine chastity before marriage. One of these “specialists” wrote, “We must nobilitate and cultivate feminine chastity as the greatest national wealth; in fact it is just thanks to women chastity that we can have a safe guarantee that we really are our children’s fathers, and that we are working and toiling for our own blood. Without such a guarantee there is not any possibility of an intimate and safe family life, which in turn is the indispensable pillar for the nation and people’s prosperity...If women are not devoted to their men it is much more dangerous than if men are not devoted to their women...” (Max Von Guber, “Higiene des Geschlechtslebens dargestellt fur Manne”r, Stuttgart 1930 – in English, “Sexual Life Hygiene for Men”). Though surely not intended by its author, this passage is actually a clear confirmation of a point that Engels argued in his classic, “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State” – a point which Reich expressed in his own words when he wrote that, “...the most immediate consequence of private property is the interest for chastity before marriage and marital fidelity to the husband”.
This consequence of private property causes the sexual relationship between men and women to cease existing as a matter involving only the sexual life and personal choices of individuals, and to subsequently become a construct in which women are doomed to suffer greater restrictions, pressures, and inequities. This was confirmed by clinical statistics. In fact, at that time, no less than 90% of women were held to have some variety of sexual disorder, compared with “just” 60% of men. These were tremendous and shocking figures, changing the definition of “normality” and causing sexual disorders to be considered a mass problem.
It goes without saying that such horrible conditions did not worry Nazi sexual hygienists, who put forward such theories as, “the female natural instinct for monogamy”. According to rubbish such as this, women were only capable of sexual satisfaction when 20 to 25 years old and only if their sexual intercourse was undertaken for the purpose of conceiving a child – and of course, according to these theories, all of this was due to “natural” reasons.
It is not surprising that there existed an extremely strong relationship between these sorts of theories and the church’s positions on related issues. The church had always been the leading producer of ideological tenets for the ruling classes throughout history. It had always played such a crucial role in the service of the state that at this time the state itself could not help but to march alongside of it in defence of one of the most fundamental institutions of bourgeois society: matrimony. The very existence of matrimony as an institution of bourgeois society prohibits any possibility of solving the consequences of a morality based on repression, whether those consequences are psychological (such as various neuroses and sexual disorders), or physical (for example, abortion). As a matter of fact, the end of bourgeois morality, which would be the only real solution to these problems, would necessarily undermine such “values” as “virginity before marriage” and marital fidelity. Consequently, marriage would be freed from its traditional role of enforcing the unfair respect and control enjoyed exclusively by men. Such a role is evidenced, for example, in the rationale behind the idea that if a woman is faithful she will never need to undergo an abortion – as if the only problem in the case of an abortion is marital fidelity alone.
If we found a way to sterilize women temporarily and with the possibility of repeating it, through internal means, it would be absolutely compelling to find a way to disseminate such techniques and make them affordable, so as to guarantee... a benefit... for hygiene, but also taking care of the horrible threat this would pose on sexual order and the morale, or even more on life and civilization in general” (Max Marcuse, “Matrimony: Its Physiology, Psychology, Hygiene and Eugenetics. A Biological Book on Marriage, Berlin/Koln, 1927).
The prohibition of abortion and contraceptives deprives women of control over their own lives and bodies, with their most personal sphere of life falling under the authority of bourgeois morality’s need to keep them subjugated to men. The ultimate purpose of such prohibitions is to preserve bourgeois institutions so as to defend and maintain capitalist private property. Even though the idea of a family based on “holy matrimony” is in deep crisis nowadays, the preceding lines still hold true today. The whole of bourgeois morality is in crisis. The precarious conditions of all spheres of life have been brought about by capitalism itself. Everything is subjected to sudden changes; the new “word of God” is “flexibility”, and the new god from whence this word issues is the god “Capital”. The issues of abortion and contraception have in turn given rise to a new issue: that both the biblical “word of God” and the bourgeoisie’s “new word of a new god” alike constitute theological contradictions in the ruling ideology.

Theoretical Core and Polemics with the Freudians

Earlier in this article, we explained how Freudian psychoanalysis lost itself in a blind alley after 1926, making an erroneous detour in order to justify the approach to social reality that Freud and the IPS society as a whole took at this time as they sought to disassociate themselves from social criticism. At this point however, we must return to the subject, as it is important to examine this process in greater detail. The Freudians’ refusal to connect social conditions with mental disorders as the “cause” and the “effect” forced them to adapt by producing a great number of incredibly reactionary postulates. Whereas this new outlook could not adequately explain any of the psychological problems that it had set out to solve, Freud was forced to invent the theory of the “death instinct” as a way to explain the origins of these problems. According to his new conception, the death instinct was a primitive and self-destructive impulse, taking the individual back to a primordial condition of inertia – a condition that all things tend to conclude in.
Because Freudian methods of therapy depended upon such mistaken theoretical postulates, when put into practice they did not have any significant positive affects on patients. The Freudians were consequently led to conclude that the “self-destruction principle”, which they maintained was innate in every human being, was anunconscious need for punishment struggling against the natural need for pleasure. Hence, for the Freudians, neuroses became a biological condition of human beings. On the basis of that logic, the lives of individuals were marked forever by a “primary masochism”. This was held to be the reason why patients “resisted” treatment, remaining ill. According to the Freudians, it was because the patients were biologically compelled to oppose recovery from their disorders! Reich continued to advocate the idea that patients were ill and unbalanced due to their fear of receiving punishment for acting on their natural sexual impulses. The believers in the “death instinct” were growing in number and prestige in a way that closely resembles the fame and acceptance enjoyed by modern-day supporters of the “Big Bang” theory. All the while, the Freudians sought to divert psychological thought away from the original ideas of the necessity for social prevention of neuroses through a comprehensive reform of behavioural rules and practices and of the social institutions producing and influencing them.
In 1931, Freud published his work entitled, “Civilisation Disease”. In this work he argued that civilisation as a whole was built upon sexual repression and on thesublimation of sexual impulses. By this he meant that repression is necessary to the creation, maintenence and progress of civilisation; that repression is a prerequisite for social structure that mankind must resign to, and that mankind must learn tosublimate its primitive impulses so as to divert attention and energy to socially acceptable goals. This line is a transparent and complete capitulation to bourgeois idealism and morality. It preaches nothing more than the same sort of meek and subservient life that organized religion had always preached in order to fool the masses and deliver them to subjugation and exploitation across the centuries. Reich commented on this work of Freud’s, criticizing him for having not taken into account the questions of “if” and “to what extent” the reality of social conditions were rational or not; if they were structured on the basis of serving mankind’s needs and advancing its happiness, rather than structured on the basis of maintaining the oppression and exploitation of man by man. As a Marxist, Reich was wholly aware that the “civilization” that Freud was referring to was nothing more than a particular period amongst many other epochs that collectively constituted human development through different stages of social organization. It was clear to Reich that Freud was trying to formulate general conclusions on the absolute nature of the human psyche from just a single, transitory, historically determined stage of serial civilization. And what’s worse, Freud was putting forward a pessimistic attitude, emphasizing the inertia of any given society.
A similar generalisation is at the theoretical basis of Freud’s notorious “Oedipus complex”. The complex depends upon the existence of the family as organized on a particular monogamous basis – a phenomenon that was the result of specific social conditions and historical stages. The Oedipus complex attempts to explain the development of the sexual personality of the individual by referring to the sexual personalities of the parents (in a dialectical process where experience, not biology, is the determining factor) – but it does so with only a reference to the relative (and not to the absolute) nature of this particular family form. Thus, the Freudian theory of the Oedipus complex cannot fully explain the issues involved. In fact, while within the theory there is a role played by childrens’ sexuality, this remains indeterminate throughout the course of the complex. That is to say, in the composition of the countervailing desires for the death of the same-sex parent and of the sexual attraction for the opposite-sex parent lies the entire psychological profile of the adult individual.
The impossibility of the child’s fulfilment of those desires is due to the social and cultural structure that imposes the repression of this behaviour. The act of repression itself influences the development of the individual’s personality through the process Freud called “primitive impulse sublimation”. This repression is necessary in order to develop a civilised, balanced, healthy social life, in the actual conditions of society. But whilst this process of “sublimation” (which by the way is imposed on the child externally by the society that the child has been born into) allows Freud to explain the development of individuals’ psychological characteristics in a “civilised society” (that is, one organized around the monogamist family), it cannot be used to develop therapies to treat the neuroses that authoritarian morality repeatedly inflicts adult individuals with. This is because any therapeutic methods deriving from Freud’s outlook would have to be nothing more than palliatives to the repression of impulses, as they never dare to question the social necessity of repression. Instead, repression is continually accepted, even though it is the ultimate cause of neuroses.
Furthermore, the possibility in practical terms of sublimating one’s impulses through the means of one’s creative activity is a concept that could apply only to a tiny layer of society. Surely, it cannot apply to the vast majority of society, the alienated masses. These individuals have no way in which they can obtain any satisfaction through the activities that their occupations assign to them. The possibility to divert sexual energies towards creative activities, thus allowing one to “take out” sexual tensions, cannot be accomplished within any society that imposes repression. The effective sublimation of these impulses depends upon the freedom to choose one’s outlet for activity. But this is a privilege enjoyed by the tiny minority – the elite: those who have succeeded in accomplishing for themselves precisely the life that they want and those who simply do not have any cause to worry about material subsistence. For everyone else, the overwhelming majority of people, the word “sublimation” is absolutely devoid of any therapeutic value. Dealing with the subject of sublimation without making reference to social and economic issues is simply too abstracted from reality to be productive.

The Expulsion from the IPS

By now it is clear to the reader that the fundamental nature of the differences dividing Reich from the esoteric ideologies that the IPS accepted could result in no other outcome than his inevitable expulsion from the Society, which came to pass in 1934. The “formal” reason for the expulsion given by the IPS was Reich’s political militancy. This was quite an ironic development as the now completely Stalinist ACP had expelled Reich as a “bourgeois psychologist” one year earlier! The ACP charged that in the course of the struggle for a “proletarian culture” there was no room for psychology, which they defined as “bourgeois living room fashion” (in the case of the Freudians they were correct!). The result of this logic was that a psychologist could not be a Marxist. But the actual reasons for Reich’s expulsion were to be found elsewhere, naturally.
The first reason was the publication of Reich’s “Mass Psychology of Fascism” in 1933. This book got Reich into trouble within the IPS as well, as the group was trying not to come into conflict with Nazi diktats. As for the ACP, the Stalinist leadership’s concern was that Reich had outlined and analysed some particularities of the mass character of fascism, for example the cult of personality, and that even though Reich was referring to fascism, his criticisms could have been read as an attack on Stalinism and its comparable methods.

Reich and Trotsky

It was during this period that Reich grew closer to Trotsky’s ideas. Reich was convinced of the “fundamental correctness” of Trotsky’s writings on the rise of Nazism in Germany. The worst catastrophe in the history of German politics occurred in 1933, and it opened the eyes of Reich and many others to the anti-revolutionary nature of Stalinism. Reich soon got in touch with refugee members of the Left Opposition, and then wrote a letter to Trotsky in which he proposed to him a long term collaboration. In that letter, written in October of 1933, Reich explained that, “I am convinced that your point of view has been fundamentally correct and I follow with much attention the work and activities of the Left Opposition” (M. Konitzer,Reich, Erre Emme, page 178 of the Italian edition).
Reich was aware that Trotsky had shown an interest in the achievements and development of psychological science. Trotsky thought that Freud’s early theories were entirely materialist – though Freud himself maintained an idealist philosophical outlook. Trotsky was convinced that the Russian psychologist Pavlov should have integrated and synthesized his theories with Freud’s findings. In a speech delivered in Copenhagen in 1932, Trotsky stated that, “owing to the genius of Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis has lifted the lid of what is poetically defined as the human soul”.Trotsky’s answer to Reich’s proposal for collaboration was that it should be hoped for indeed, but he also confessed his personal lack of knowledge about psychoanalytic matters.
A discussion started by the beginning of 1936, but unfortunately this was not to be the “hoped for” starting point for collaborative work. By this time, Reich’s ideas were already beginning to degenerate. In 1936, Reich had already undertaken excessive efforts to widen the application of psychoanalytical rules to matters of politics and sociology. Even as Reich’s identification with Marxist ideas grew stronger, he always understated and underestimated the case for the building of the revolutionary party, and explicitly denied the need for an International. As he later wrote in his autobiography, “According to me, Trotsky’s project for a 4th international was a completely useless search for failure.” (W. Reich, “The Individual and the State”).
This kind of ambiguity prevented Trotsky and Reich from achieving any meaningful collaboration. We cannot help but to notice what represents a fundamental contradiction in the Austrian scientist’s thought even in this period, when he was at his best. Though his “technical” arguments are consistent with a materialist perspective, his “political” ideas tend to reject and contradict the duty that every Marxist has: that of openly standing for truly revolutionary ideas inside the party, to defend them from any kind of degeneration at the hands of bureaucrats. Reich did not feel the need for a “political” criticism against Stalinism. This may have been due to his misconceived sense of loyalty to the party. Another possibility is that Reich lacked a real understanding of the party’s utter political degeneration. This latter hypothesis is supported by his own personal history, if we keep in mind that the process of “Stalinisation” was well underway even at the time he had first joined the party.
Consideration of this fact is the best way in which we can try to fully understand Reich’s contradictory attitude. This is confirmed in his autobiography. Even though Reich firmly criticised such simplistic statements as “people are naturally reactionary” and counter-posed to it that “people are naturally revolutionary”, and even though he correctly expressed his analyses in dialectical terms in examining the relationships between human behaviour and social and economic conditions, he failed in that he always limited his analyses to psychological terms and language. In fact, his explanation of fascism as a mass neurosis, presenting the fascist demagogues on one side and the nodding masses on the other, does not lead to any adequate understanding of the political aspects of Nazi-fascism as an extreme instrument of class repression against the proletariat and its political organisations. It seems that Reich felt that dialectical materialism could only apply to psychology and not to politics!
In Reich’s works on the disruption of the monogamous family in the soviet experience (which were the works that contributed most to his expulsions), he referred to Trotsky’s 1923 work “Problems of Everyday Life”, and hinted at ideas found in EngelsOrigin of the Family.... Reich focused on the more progressive aspects of that social experience, believing it to stand as an incomparable achievement even though it was faced with huge material difficulties:
...the beginning of a sexual revolution with the current dissolution of the family; the substitution of patriarchal family structure with the socialist collective; the growing involvement of either husband or wife into public functions; the access of sons and daughters to collectives and the subsequent competition of social relationships to family ones; the transferral of children’s responsibility from the parents to society and the collectivisation of children cultivation.”
Reich was able to realize that Stalinism meant disruption to those processes. In 1934, in fact, suddenly (as part of the so-called “new course”) the worship of the patriarchal family and the laws against homosexuality were reintroduced. These counter-reforms sharply contrasted with the laws that Lenin had sponsored dating back to December 1917, namely the “annulment of matrimony” and the “civil matrimony, children and civil register office” acts. Those laws stated that the husband was no longer the family’s leader and that women were to be given complete material and sexual self-determination including the right of the individual to choose her name, domicile and citizenship.

Migrations, Paranoia, Prison and Death

Even before his expulsion from the IPS, Reich was forced to move to Denmark due to open hostility against him in his working environment. But very soon afterwards he had to flee to Sweden, then to Norway and finally, in 1939, to the United States where, luckily, he was perfectly unknown. Unfortunately, while his initial years in the United States were relatively calm, his work soon led again to open hostility everywhere. It became impossible to carry on his studies and work The unbearable conditions drove him towards paranoia. It was not long before he was being denounced to the police by his bigoted neighbours who became agitated by his strange behaviour. The police carried out inquiries regarding his past and soon “exposed” the “immoral” content of his writings. In the course of their investigations, the police eventually discovered the Marxist origin of his thought.
This process of intimidation lasted a few years, during which Reich dared to continue writing. Unfortunately, some aspects of his outlook deviated into semi-scientific theories, also known as his “orgonomic period theories”. Sadly these theories are much more known than those he had held previously. His excessive emphasis on sexual energy led him to believe that it could have been physically measured and even visible through some devices (the “orgonoscopes”). An absolute belief in the existence of a “positive energy” (the “orgon”) threw him into a theoretical framework that began to smack of mysticism. He abandoned any materialist standpoint and started believing in such things as origination of the universe from the orgons through a huge primordial orgasm reached between two primitive orgonic entities – a sexual “Big-Bang”! Such a capitulation to idealism, all the more shocking when compared to his previous dialectical-materialist scientific principles, can be explained only as being due to his complete detachment from reality. This had, in turn, developed from his ever-worsening political and scientific isolation, which in the last years of his life reached the point of total personal persecution .
It is essential to clearly distinguish between his two periods. The first one was from 1919 to 1938, and the second was from 1938 to 1957. It is also important to consider the fact that he rewrote his previous works, making severe changes. In fact, in his second period, Reich revised and abridged his previous works. In some cases he altered definitions and secondary considerations, but in other cases he completely changed the content of his ideas.
A striking example is the 1946 foreword to the third edition of “Mass Psychology of Fascism”. In that edition, Reich completely contradicts what he had written years before. He now described fascism as the “politically organised expression of the average personality structure”, which is an organic component of the common man, according to the three layers scheme he had drafted years before. In that theory, Reich had divided the psychological life of men and women into a biological tier consisting of instincts, an unconscious tier where authoritarian morality engenders perversion by its repression of biological instincts, and finally a conscious tier where the by-products of the morality that repressed those instincts produces neuroses and physical disorders. In his last analysis, fascism is no longer a political phenomenon, or even a “mass neurosis” – but something inherent to mankind! This idea was more unscientific and pessimistic than the Freudian “death instinct”, which Reich himself had bitterly fought against in previous years.
Only the editions dating back to his first period are to be considered consistent with a dialectical materialistic view. Reich’s ideas, like those of his mentor Freud, followed a descending path. The main cause seems to be the same in both of their cases – namely, the refusal to maintain political criticism. In Reich’s case it was the refusal to oppose Stalinism that first led him to revise his theories and then to abandon them.
The pronounced sexual content of the orgonomic theory gave him a reputation as a sexual pervert. In later trials, the charge of being part of a “communist plot” was added. Desperate, Reich attempted to defend himself by rejecting his communist past and by trying to appear even more anti-communist than his prosecutors. In the end, he was totally unable to successfully defend himself due to his suicidal plunge into the idealist ideology of the ruling class, which – both then and now – equates communism with Stalinism. He eventually became completely unhinged and paranoid. After years of court trials he was sent to prison. He died soon after, in 1957.
Wilhelm Reich, Marxist Orgone Swindler, and part of the Psychiatric paradigm Still in use to sell You, Your Children, and Your Parents, Disability, Chronic Diseases, and Death.
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The Occult World Of Carl Jung

Fortean Times has: The Occult World Of CG Jung

How a near-death experience transformed the psychologist's attitude to the world of mysticism and magic

The "Sage of Küsnacht".
Getty Images / Central Press


On 11 February 1944, the 68-year-old Carl Gustav Jung – then the world’s most renowned living psychologist – slipped on some ice and broke his fibula. Ten days later, in hospital, he suffered a myocardial infarction caused by embolisms from his immobilised leg. Treated with oxygen and camphor, he lost consciousness and had what seems to have been a near-death and out-of-the-body experience – or, depending on your perspective, delirium. He found himself floating 1,000 miles above the Earth. Seas and continents shimmered in blue light and Jung could make out the Arabian desert and snow-tipped Himalayas. He felt he was about to leave orbit, but then, turning to the south, a huge black monolith came into view. It was a kind of temple, and at the entrance Jung saw a Hindu sitting in a lotus position. Within, innumerable candles flickered, and he felt that the “whole phantasmagoria of earthly existence” was being stripped away. It wasn’t pleasant, and what remained was an “essential Jung”, the core of his experiences.

He knew that inside the temple the mystery of his existence, of his purpose in life, would be answered. He was about to cross the threshold when he saw, rising up from Europe far below, the image of his doctor in the archetypal form of the King of Kos, the island site of the temple of Asclepius, Greek god of medicine. He told Jung that his departure was premature; many were demanding his return and he, the King, was there to ferry him back. When Jung heard this, he was immensely disappointed, and almost immediately the vision ended. He experienced the reluctance to live that many who have been ‘brought back’ encounter, but what troubled him most was seeing his doctor in his archetypal form. He knew this meant that the physician had sacrificed his own life to save Jung’s. On 4 April 1944 – a date numerologists can delight in – Jung sat up in bed for the first time since his heart attack. On the same day, his doctor came down with septicæmia and took to his bed. He never left it, and died a few days later.

Jung was convinced that he hadn’t simply hallucinated, but that he had been granted a vision of reality. He had passed outside time, and the experience had had a palpable effect on him. For one thing, the depression and pessimism that overcame him during WWII vanished. But there was something more. For most of his long career, he had impressed upon his colleagues, friends, and reading public that he was, above all else, a scientist. He was not, he repeated almost like a mantra, a mystic, occultist, or visionary, terms of abuse his critics, who rejected his claims to science, had used against him. Now, having returned from the brink of death, he seemed content to let the scientist in him take a back seat for the remaining 17 years of his life.

Although Jung had always believed in the reality of the ‘other’ world, he had taken care not to speak too openly about this belief. Now, after his visions, he seemed less reticent. He’d had, it seems, a kind of conversion experience, and the interests the world-famous psychologist had hitherto kept to himself now became common knowledge. Flying saucers, astrology, parapsychology, alchemy, even predictions of a coming “new Age of Aquarius”: pronouncements on all of these dubious subjects – dubious at least from the viewpoint of modern science – flowed from his pen. If he had spent his career fending off charges of mysticism and occultism – initially triggered by his break with Freud in 1912 – by the late 1940s he seems to have decided to stop fighting. The “sage of Küsnacht” and “Hexenmeister of Zürich”, as Jung was known in the last decade of his life, had arrived.

Yet Jung’s involvement with the occult was with him from the start – literally, it was in his DNA. His maternal grandfather, Rev. Samuel Preiswerk, who learned Hebrew because he believed it was spoken in heaven, accepted the reality of spirits, and kept a chair in his study for the ghost of his deceased first wife, who often came to visit him. Jung’s mother Emilie was employed by Samuel to shoo away the dead who distracted him while he was working on his sermons.

She herself developed mediumistic powers in her late teens. At the age of 20, she fell into a coma for 36 hours; when her forehead was touched with a red-hot poker she awoke, speaking in tongues and prophesying. Emilie continued to enter trance states throughout her life, in which she would communicate with the dead. She also seems to have been a ‘split personality’. Jung occasionally heard her speaking to herself in a voice he soon recognised was not her own, making profound remarks expressed with an uncharacteristic authority. This ‘other’ voice had inklings of a world far stranger than the one the young Carl knew.

This ‘split’ that Jung had seen in his mother would later appear in himself. At around the age of 12, he literally became two people. There was his ordinary boyhood self, and someone else. The ‘Other,’ as Carl called him, was a figure from the 18th century, a masterful character who wore a white wig and buckled shoes, drove an impressive carriage, and held the young boy in contempt. It’s difficult to escape the impression that in some ways Jung felt he had been this character in a past life. Seeing an ancient green carriage, Jung felt that it came from his time. his later notion of the collective unconscious, that psychic reservoir of symbols and images that he believed we inherit at birth, is in a sense a form of reincarnation, and Jung himself believed in some form of an afterlife. Soon after the death of his father, in 1896 when Jung was 21, he had two dreams in which his father appeared so vividly that he considered the possibility of life after death. In another, later dream, Jung’s father asked him for marital advice, as he wanted to prepare for his wife’s arrival. Jung took this as a premonition, and his mother died soon after. And years later, when his sister Gert rude died – a decade before his own near-death experience – Jung wrote that “What happens after death is so unspeakably glorious that our imagination and feelings do not suffice to form even an approximate conception of it.” [1]

Jung’s mother was involved in at least two well-known paranormal experiences that are recounted in practically every book about him. Sitting in his room studying, Carl suddenly heard a loud bang coming from the dining room. He rushed in and found his mother startled. The round walnut table had cracked from the edge past the centre. The split didn’t follow any joint, but had passed through solid wood. Drying wood couldn’t account for it; the table was 70 years old and it was a humid day. Jung thought: “There certainly are curious accidents.” As if she was reading his mind Emilie replied in her ‘other’ voice: “Yes, yes, that means something.” Two weeks later came a second incident. Returning home in the evening, Jung found an excited household. An hour earlier there had been another loud crack, this time coming from a large sideboard. No one had any idea what had produced it. Jung inspected the sideboard. Inside, where they kept the bread, he found a loaf and the bread knife. The knife had shattered into several pieces, all neatly arranged in the breadbasket. The knife had been used earlier for tea, but no one had touched it nor opened the cupboard since. When he took the knife to a cutler, he was told that there was no fault in the steel and that someone must have broken it on purpose. He kept the shattered knife for the rest of his life, and years later sent a photograph of it to psychical researcher JB Rhine.

By this time Jung, like many others, was interested in spiritualism, and was reading through the literature – books by Zöllner, Crooks, Carl du Prel, Swedenborg, and Justinus Kerner’s classic The Seeress of Prevorst. At the Zofingia debating society at the University of Basel, he gave lectures on “The Value of Speculative Research” and “On the Limits of Exact Science”, in which he questioned the dominant materialist paradigm that reigned then, as today. Jung led fellow students in various occult experiments, yet when he spoke to them about his ideas, or lectured about the need to take them seriously, he met with resistance. Apparently he had greater luck with his dachshund, whom he felt understood him better and could feel supernatural presences himself. [2]

Another who seemed to feel supernatural presences was his cousin, from his mother’s side of the family, Helene Preiswerk. In a letter to JB Rhine about the shattered bread knife, Jung refers to Helly – as she was known – as a “young woman with marked mediumistic faculties” whom he had met around the time of the incident, and in his “so-called’ autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections he remarks that he became involved in a series of séances with his relatives after the incidents of the bread knife and table. Yet the séances had been going on for some time before the two events, and at their centre was Helly, whom Jung already knew well and who, by all accounts, was in love with him. This is an early sign of his somewhat ambiguous relationship with the occult.

Helly would enter a trance and fall to the floor, breathing deeply, and speaking in old Samuel Preiswerk’s voice – although she had never heard him. She told the others that they should pray for her elder sister Bertha, who, she said, had just given birth to a black child. Bertha, who was living in Brazil, had already had one child with her mixed-race husband, and gave birth to another on the same day as the séance. [3] Further séances proved equally startling. At one point, Samuel Preiswerk and Carl Jung Sr – Jung’s paternal grandfather – who had disliked each other while alive, reached a new accord. A warning came for another sister who was also expecting a child that she would lose it; in August the baby was born premature and dead. [4]

Helly produced further voices, but the most interesting was a spirit named Ivenes, who called herself the real Helene Preiswerk. This character was much more mature, confident, and intelligent than Helly, who Jung described as absent-minded, and not particularly bright, talented, or educated. It was as if buried beneath the unremarkable teenager was a fuller, more commanding personality, like Jung’s ‘Other’. This was an insight into the psyche that would inform his later theory of “individuation”, the process of “becoming who you are”. Helly did blossom later, becoming a successful dressmaker in France, although she died young, at only 30.

In Jung’s dissertation on the séances, On the Psychology and Pathology of So-called Occult Phenomena, he describes Helly unflatteringly as “exhibiting slightly rachitic skull formation”, and “somewhat pale facial colour”, and fails to mention that she is his cousin. He also omits his own participation in the séances, and dates them from 1899 to 1900, whereas they had started years before. Gerhard Wehr politely suggests that “[T]he doctoral candidate was obviously at pains to conceal his own role, and especially his close kinship relationship, thus forestalling from the start any further critical inquiry that might have thrown the scientific validity of the entire work into question.” [5]

In other words, Jung the scientist thought it a good career move to obscure Jung the occultist’s personal involvement in the business.

In 1900, the 25-year-old Jung joined the prestigious Burghölzli Mental Clinic in Zürich. Here, he did solid work in word-association tests, developed his theory of ‘complexes’, and initiated a successful ‘patient-friendly’ approach to working with psychotics and schizophrenics. It was during his tenure that he also became involved with Freud. From 1906, when they started corresponding, to 1912, when the friendship ruptured, Jung was a staunch supp orter of Freud’s work and promoted it unstintingly. There were, however, some rocky patches. One centred on the famous poltergeist in Freud’s bookcase. Visiting Freud in Vienna in 1909, Jung asked him about his attitude toward parapsychology. Freud was sceptical and dismissed the subject as nonsense. Jung disagreed, and sitting across from the master, he began to feel his diaphragm glow, as if it was becoming red-hot. Suddenly a loud bang came from a bookcase. Both jumped up, and Jung said to Freud: “There, that is an example of a so-called catalytic exteriorisation phenomenon!”, Jung’s long-winded circumlocution for a poltergeist, or “noisy spirit”. When Freud said “Bosh!”, Jung predicted that another bang would immediately happen. It did. Jung said that, from that moment on, Freud grew mistrustful of him. From Freud’s letter to Jung about the incident, one gets the feeling that he felt Jung himself was responsible for it.

This isn’t surprising; Jung did manifest numerous paranormal abilities. While in bed in a hotel room after giving a lecture, he experienced the suicide of a patient who had a strong “transference” on him. The patient had relapsed into depression, and shot himself in the head. Jung awoke in his hotel, feeling an odd pain in his forehead. He later discovered that his patient had shot himself precisely where Jung felt the pain, at the same time Jung woke up. More to the point, a visitor to his home once remarked about Jung’s “exteriorised libido”, how “when there was an important idea that was not yet quite conscious, the furniture and woodwork all over the house creaked and snapped.”

It was Jung’s break with Freud that led to his own ‘descent into the unconscious’, a disturbing trip down the psyche’s rabbit hole from which he gathered the insights about the collective unconscious that would inform his own school of ‘analytical psychology’. He had entered a ‘creative illness’, unsure if he was going mad. In October 1913, not long after the split, Jung had, depending on your perspective, a vision or hallucination. While on a train, he suddenly saw a flood covering Europe, between the North Sea and the Alps. When it reached Switzerland, the mountains rose to protect his homeland, but in the waves he saw floating debris and bodies. Then the water turned to blood. The vision lasted an hour and seems to have been a dream that had invaded his waking consciousness. Having spent more than a decade treating mental patients who suffered from precisely such symptoms, Jung had reason to be concerned. He was ironically rather relieved the next summer when WWI broke out and he deduced that his vision had been a premonition of it.

Yet the psychic tension continued. Eventually there came a point where Jung felt he could no longer fight off the sense of madness. He decided to let go. When he did, he landed in an eerie, subterranean world where he met strange intelli gences that ‘lived’ in his mind. The experience was so upsetting that for a time Jung slept with a loaded pistol by his bed, ready to blow his brains out if the stress became too great.

In his Red Book – recently published in full – he kept an account, in words and images, of the objective, independent entities he encountered during his “creative illness” – entities that had nothing to do with him personally, but who shared his interior world. There were Elijah and Salome, two figures from the Bible who were accompanied by a snake. There was also a figure whom Jung called Philemon, who became a kind of ‘inner guru’ and who he painted as a bald, white-bearded old man with bull’s horns and the wings of a kingfisher. One morning, after painting the figure, Jung was out taking a walk when he came upon a dead kingfisher. The birds were rare in Zürich and he had never before come upon a dead one. This was one of the many synchronic ities – “meaningful coincidences” – that happened at this time (for more on Jung and synchronicity, see FT171:42–47). There were others. In 1916, still in the grip of his crisis, Jung again felt that something within wanted to get out. An eerie restlessness filled his home. He felt the presence of the dead – and so did his children. One daughter saw a strange white figure; another had her blankets snatched from her at night. His son drew a picture of a fisherman he had seen in a dream: a flaming chimney rose from the fisherman’s head, and a devil flew through the air, cursing the fisherman for stealing his fish. Jung had yet to mention Philemon to anyone. Then, one afternoon, the doorbell rang loudly, but no one was there. He asked: “What in the world is this?” The voices of the dead answered: “We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought,” words that form the beginning of Jung’s strange Seven Sermons to the Dead, a work of “spiritual dictation”, or “channelling”, he attributed to “Basilides in Alexandria, the City where the East toucheth the West”.

By 1919, WWI was over and Jung’s crisis had passed, although he continued to practise what he called “active imagin ation”, a kind of waking dreaming, the results of which he recorded in the Red Book. But spirits of a more traditional kind were not lacking. He was invited to London to lecture on “The Psycho logical Found ations of the Belief in Spirits” to the Society for Psychical Research. He told the Society that ghosts and materialisations were “unconscious projections”. “I have repeatedly observed,” he said, “the telepathic effects of unconscious complexes, and also a number of parapsychic phenomena, but in all this I see no proof whatever of the existence of real spirits, and until such proof is forthcoming I must regard this whole territory as an appendix of psychology.”

Scientific enough, no doubt, but a year later, again in England, he encountered a somewhat more real ghost. He spent some weekends in a cottage in Aylesbury rented by Maurice Nicoll (later a student of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky) and while there was serenaded by eerie sounds, while an unpleasant smell filled the bedroom. Locals said the place was haunted and, on one particularly bad night, Jung discovered an old woman’s head on the pillow next to his; half of her face was missing. He leapt out of bed and waited until morning in an armchair. The house was later torn down. One would think that, having already encountered the dead on their return from Jerusalem, Jung wouldn’t be so shaken by a traditional English ghost, but the experience rattled him; his account of it only appeared 30 years later, in 1949, in an obscure anthology of ghost stories.

When his lecture for the SPR was reprinted in the Collected Works in 1947, Jung added a footnote explaining that he no longer felt as certain as he did in 1919 that apparitions were explicable through psychology, and that he doubted “whether an exclusively psychological approach can do justice to the phenomenon”. In a later postscript, he again admitted that his earlier explanation was insufficient, but that he couldn’t agree on the reality of spirits because he had no experience of them – conveniently forgetting the haunting in Aylesbury. But in a letter of 1946 to Fritz Kunkel, a psychotherapist, Jung admitted: “Metapsychic phenomena could be explained better by the hypothesis of spirits than by the qualities and peculiarities of the unconscious.”

A similar uncertainty surrounds his experience with the I Ching, the ancient Chinese oracle, with which he began to experiment in the early 1920s and which, like horoscopes, became part of his therapeutic practice. Although he mentioned the I Ching here and there in his writing, it wasn’t until 1949, again nearly 30 years later, in his introduction to the classic Wilhelm/Baynes translation, that he admitted outright to using it himself. And although he tried to explain the I Ching’s efficacy through what would become his paranormal deus ex machina, synchronicity, Jung admits that the source of the oracle’s insights are the “spiritual agencies” that form the “living soul of the book”, a remark at odds with his quasi-scientific explanation. Ironically, his major work on “meaningful coincidence”, Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle (1952), written with the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, provides only one unambiguous example of the phenomenon, and readers who, like me, accept the reality of synchronicity, come away slightly baffled by Jung’s attempt to account for it via archetypes, quantum physics, statistical analysis, mathematics, JB Rhine’s experiments with ESP, astrology, telepathy, precognition, and other paranormal abilities, all of which read like a recrudescence of Jung’s “I am a scientist” reflex.

In the 1920s, he plunged into a study of the Gnostics – whom he had encountered as early as 1912 – and alchemy. It was Jung, more than anyone else, who salvaged the ancient Hermetic pursuit from intellectual oblivion. Another Hermetic practice he followed was astrology, which he began to study seriously around the time of his break with Freud. Jung informed his inner circle that casting horoscopes was part of his therapeutic practice, but it was during the dark days of WWII that he recognised a wider application. In 1940, in a letter to HG Baynes, Jung speaks of a vision he had in 1918 in which he saw “fire falling like rain from heaven and consuming the cities of Germany”. He felt that 1940 was the crucial year, and he remarks that it’s “when we approach the meridian of the first star in Aquarius”. It was, he said, “the premonitory earthquake of the New Age”. He was familiar with the precession of the equinoxes, the apparent backward movement of the Sun through the signs of the zodiac. By acting as a backdrop to sunrise at the vernal equinox, each sign gives its name to an ‘age’ – called a ‘Platonic month’ – which lasts roughly 2,150 years. In his strange book Aion (1951), he argues that the ‘individuation’ of Western civilisation as a whole follows the path of the ‘Platonic months,’ and presents a kind of “precession of the archetypes”. Fish symbolism surrounds Jesus because He was the central symbol of the Age of Pisces, the astrological sign of the fish. Previous ages – of Taurus and Aries – produced bull and ram symbolism. The coming age is that of Aquarius, the Water Bearer. In conversation with Margaret Ostrowski-Sachs, a friend of Hermann Hesse, Jung admitted that he had kept this “secret knowledge” to himself for years, and only finally made it public in Aion. He wasn’t sure he was “allowed” to, but during his illness he received “confirmation” that he should.

Although the arcane scholar Gerald Massey and the French esotericist Paul Le Cour had earlier spoken of a coming Age of Aquarius, Jung was certainly the most prestigious mainstream figure to do so, and it is through him that the idea became a mainstay of the counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s. This was mostly through his comm ents about it in his book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky (1958), in which he argued that UFOs were basically mandalas from outer space. During his crisis, he had come upon the image of the mandala, the Sanskrit ‘magic circle’, as a symbol of psychic wholeness, and he suggested that ‘flying saucers’ were mass archetypal projections, formed by the psychic tension produced by the Cold War that was heating up between Russia and America. The Western world, he argued, was having a nervous breakdown, and UFOs were a way of relieving the stress.

Jung wrote prophetically that “My conscience as a psychiatrist bids me fulfil my duty and prepare those few who will hear me for coming events which are in accord with the end of an era… As we know from ancient Egyptian history, they are symptoms of psychic changes that always appear at the end of one Platonic month and at the beginning of another. They are, it seems, changes in the constellation of the psychic dominants, of the archetypes or ‘Gods’ as they used to be called, which bring about… long-lasting transformations of the collective psyche. This transform ation started… in the transition of the Age of Taurus to that of Aries, and then from Aries to Pisces, whose beginning coincides with the rise of Christianity. We are now nearing that great change… when the spring-point enters Aquarius…” Ten years later, The Fifth Dimension (whose very name, appropriated from the title song of The Byrds’ third LP, suggests the cosmic character of the Mystic Sixties) had a hit song from the hippie musical Hair echoing Jung’s ideas, and millions of people all over the world believed they were witnessing “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius”.

Jung died in 1961, just on the cusp of the ‘occult revival’ of the 1960s, a renaissance of magical thinking that he did much to bring about. He was also directly responsible for the “journey to the East” that many took then, and continue to take today. Along with the I Ching, Jung gave his imprimatur to such hitherto arcane items as The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Taoism and Zen, and without his intervention it’s debatable if these Eastern imports would have enjoyed their modern popularity. That he was in many ways a founding father of the Love Generation is seen by his inclusion on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, although Jung himself would have thought “flower power” sadly naïve. Although for all his efforts he has never been accepted by mainstream intellectuals, his effect on popular culture has been immense, and our contemporary grass roots, inner-directed spirituality, unfortun ately associated with the New Age, has his name written all over it. Jung himself may have been equivocal about his relationship with mysticism, magic, and the occult, but the millions of people today who pay attent ion to their dreams, notice strange coincidences and consult the I Ching have the Sage of Küsnacht to thank for it.

[1] Quoted in Vincent Brome: Jung: Man and Myth, Scientific Book Club, 1979, p277.
[2] Brome, op. cit. p68.
[3] Deidre Bair: Jung: A Biography, Little Brown, 2004, p48.
[4] Ibid. p49.
[5] Gerhard Wehr: Jung: A Biography, Shambhala, Boston, 1987, p72.