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Wilhelm Reich: No Jerk-Off

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In "Stroke of Genius" [November 4] Dennis Rodkin attributes to Dr. Domeena Renshaw, head of Loyola's Sexual Dysfunction Clinic, the claim that "early in this century" Wilhelm Reich built an "Orgone Box" in which patients were supposed to sit inside and masturbate. "He sold the box until he was tossed in jail, and died."

I hope Dr. Renshaw's therapy is substantially better than her history. Wilhelm Reich, MD, prized pupil of Freud, peer of Jung, Rank, Adler, Jones, Fenichel, Ferenczi et al fled Nazi Germany, taught at the New School of Social Research in NYC, and invented the Orgone Accumulator (in Forest Hills, Queens, NY) in the 1940s.

Never, ever--in his voluminous publications* or in therapy (as best we can know)--was it recommended that patients masturbate in it, although, on balance, I'm sure Reich could have cared less; he suggested installation of a light bulb, for reading, and a shooter for relieving the pain of burns.

The FDA, in its most sorry and petty performance, willfully confused his text "The Cancer Biopathy" with a claim of a cure for cancer and ultimately seized all his publications, accumulators--and him, because he would not defend himself. He died of a heart attack in prison in 1957, never to know that the medical establishment has found a surefire cure for cancer, available at Walgreens or Osco.

I know, because I was there--along with people like Bill Steig and Chester Raphael, MD. When an FDA agent approached me at home at 151 W. 16th St., Manhattan, I told him to leave empty-handed or I'd blow his fucking head off! Shades of Anthony Comstock, who is credited by his employer, the United States Post Office, of seizing 160 tons of "bad" literature--a lot of it from Margaret Sanger, the founding force of the planned parenthood movement. That's why, today, I have a complete collection of Reich publications in English. Chicago audiences can view the Orgone Accumulator on stage next year in a play James Eric and I are completing: working title "Madame Bequeathes."

Reich was a disturbed and true genius, who personally reminded me of Diego Rivera. Come and meet, on stage next year, Reich, Pauling, Sanger, Nehru, Castro, Malcolm, de Gaulle, being seduced by Madame and challenged by Lenny Bruce and Diego Rivera--in a twenty-two room apartment just below the simple abode of Nelson Rockefeller.

Stan Gosch
Evanston

* Because I literally have all the publications I can prove the Orgone Accumulator was never intended for masturbation.

Dennis Rodkin replies:

In an article called "Understanding Masturbation," published in the Journal of School Health (February 1976), Dr. Renshaw wrote that Wilhelm Reich, a follower of Freud, "invented an "Orgone Box' to transform "energy bound in neurotic symptoms into orgastic genitality."' The source she cites for this characterization of Reich's work is his own Charakteranalyse, which he privately published in Vienna in 1933. In an interview, Renshaw told me the box was designed for patients to sit inside and masturbate.

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