b. March 24, 1897 – d. November 3, 1957 (aged 60)
Wilhelm Reich (March 24, 1897 – November 3, 1957) was an Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, known as one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry. He was the author of several notable books, including The Mass Psychology of Fascism and Character Analysis, both published in 1933.
Reich worked with Sigmund Freud in the 1920s and was a respected analyst for much of his life, focusing on character structure rather than on individual neurotic symptoms. He tried to reconcile Marxism and psychoanalysis, arguing that neurosis is rooted in the physical, sexual, economic, and social conditions of the patient, and promoted adolescent sexuality, the availability of contraceptives, abortion, and divorce, and the importance for women of economic independence. His work influenced a generation of intellectuals, including Saul Bellow, William S. Burroughs, Paul Edwards, Norman Mailer, A.S. Neill, and Robert Anton Wilson, and shaped innovations such as Fritz Perls's Gestalt therapy, Alexander Lowen's bioenergetic analysis, and Arthur Janov's primal therapy.
Later in life he became a controversial figure who was both adored and condemned. He began to violate some of the key taboos of psychoanalysis, using touch during sessions, and treating patients in their underwear to improve their orgastic potency. He said he had discovered a primordial cosmic energy, which he said others called God and that he called "orgone". He built orgone energy accumulators that his patients sat inside to harness the reputed health benefits, leading to newspaper stories about sex boxes that cured cancer.