Mary Boyd Higgins, the long-time trustee of the estate of Wilhelm Reich, died January 8th, 2019.
Ms. Higgins policies in her administration of the Reich estate were and remain extremely controversial, with many people who are interested in the contents of the Wilhelm Reich Archives dismayed by the refusal of the estate to allow more access to concerned scientists and scholars.
The late Dr. Eva Reich, the first trustee, was unable to do the job because at the time of her fathers death she had a newborn infant to support and the estate needed a full time manager but was bankrupt from legal expenses and could not pay that manager a salary to live on. None of the 30 or so M.D.s in the New York area who were making their living by what Reich had taught them were willing to help, and Ms. Higgins, who had enough money from an inheritance to live on so she did not need a salary for devoting time to the management of the estate, was the only volunteer so she got the job by Hobsons Choice. Years later, Eva Reich, dismayed at the way the estate was being administered, tried twice via the courts to reclaim the trusteeship due to Ms. Higgins insisting on keeping much of the unpublished work of Reich secret and not permitting access. Both attempts failed, despite testimony from more than 15 witnesses who had known Reich that they believed he would have wanted his writings to be widely available.Today, more than 60 years after Reich died, most of that material is still largely unavailable to the general public, tied up in a arrangement between the estate and Harvard Medical School that restricts access to only a very small number of scholars, despite the fact that there is no provision in the will that allows the trustee to turn over the authority over the Archives to another institution. Additionally, some of the previously published material by Reich has been reissued by the estate in bowdlerized editions that contain significant differences from the previously published editions that were approved by Reich during his lifetime.Ms. Higgins was very prone to litigation and filed numerous lawsuits against anyone who tried to continue Reichs work by publishing anything in the field. Many vital manuscripts remain unpublished for fear of costly legal attacks and the advancement of the work begun by Reich has been seriously retarded thereby.