Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Communists And Reich

Reich was under a lot of stress about a lot of things. His work was in danger because the injuction had deprived it of funding from accumulator rentals and book sales, his ego must have been crushed by the government he had trusted considering him a crminal, and most of his students and followers had deserted him out of fear that they would lose their hard-won medical licences if they were known to be connected with him. 

Also, a week before he died, Reich had had some disagreement with his daughter, Eva.  I do not know what it was about, but he changed his will, appointing his common-law wife, Aurora Karrer Reich, as the trustee of his estate instead of Eva. That will, which was not found among his effects when he died, would have made a lot of difference to the subsequent history of the estate, but the argument with Eva that caused him to change his privious will would certainly have contributed to his stress. 

Reich must also have been feeling unhealthy because he asked his son-in-law, Bill Moise, to bring a cloudbuster down to the vicinity of the prioson to remove DOR from the area to help keep Reich alive. Bill did that operation, and it might have done Reich's health some good, but to have asked for it, Reich must have felt he was not well and needed such help. 

 To be killed in prison, one must be considered important to the people in power. And that was not so of Reich. They considered him a crank, a mentally ill person, or a crook who was defrauding the sick with promises of a cancer cure that could not possibly work. 

The standard reaction of any educated person today, especially any person with any medical or scientific training, is all the proof needed to know what the medical and scientific people would have told their employers if consulted. Any well educated person would think imediately that a wooden box lined with sheet metal cannot cure anything. And if you ask any educated person today about it, and they have never heard of it or of Reich, they will say it is useless, but the ignorant public must be protected from quacks who sell fake cures that prevent people from going to real doctors to get officially approved treatments. 

There is no reason to suppose the drug companies in the 50s were worried that a box lined with sheet metal would put them out of business. There is far more reason to think well-meaning public-spirited people trying to protect what they considered the less informed members of the public from a fraud selling a fake cancer cure were responsible for jailing Reich. 

The highly respected magazine, Consumer Reports had published an article warning the public about this particular fraud. That magazine, and the organization that published it, Consumer's Union, had a mission to tell their readers what products on the market were safe and effective and which ones were not. In this case, they made a mistake, but it is an understandable one that anyone with conventional medical knowledge would have made. 

And the fact that Reich, who was caught up in the hysterical anti-communist fantasies of the times thought the article was written at the order of the Soviet government is more likely evidence of his drinking too heavily than of Soviet agents being out to destroy his reputation. 

It is known from the biographies published about him that Reich drank a lot, and I have recently been informed by someone in a position to know, that his collaborator, Dr. Theodore Woolfe, was an alcoholic who could drink a whiole bottle of Scotch at a sitting without any noticeable effect, which implies a level of tolerance only possible to a confirmed heavy drinker. And it was Woolfe, not Reich, who first introduced the idea of "Emotional Plague" and "Communists" being behind the article by Mildred Brady. 

So my conclusion is that the whole fantasy of communist spies being out to get Reich came out of a bottle.

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