Tag Archives: Wilhelm Reich

The Man Who Boxed Sex

I spent a considerable amount of time researching Wilhelm Reich over the weekend and I’m not done yet: I’m watching the Austrian documentary film  Wer hat Angst vor Wilhelm Reich? [1] as I write this post. Above is the cartoon “The Man Who Boxed Sex,” a malicious parody of the ‘Orgone energy accumulator’ of Wilhelm Reich. Before leaving this space, be sure to check Kate Bush’s video of “Cloudbusting” (see link below).

These biographical notes are the fruit of my labour:

Wilhelm Reich (24 March 1897 – 3 November 1957) was an Austrian psychoanalyst, a member of the second generation of psychoanalysts after Sigmund Freud, and one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry.

He is chiefly remembered for three things. He tried to synthesize Marxism and psychoanalysis in studies of fascism, producing the book, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, inventing Freudo-Marxism. He claimed discovery of what he called orgone energy, which many scientists still dispute and call pseudoscience. The persecution of him and his theories by the Nazi Gestapo in Germany, and later the US government (which burned his books) until his death in a US prison.

Reich continues to influence popular culture. Yugoslavian director Dušan Makavejev made a film about him, W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971) and Kate Bush‘s single “Cloudbusting[2] (1985) describes Reich’s arrest through the eyes of his son, Peter, who wrote his father’s story in A Book of Dreams (1973); the video for the song features Donald Sutherland as Reich and Bush as Peter.

He was featured in the documentary The Century of the Self (2002) by Adam Curtis.


I’ve always had a soft spot for the Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich (1897 – 1957) and while researching Freudo-Marxism I investigated him in some greater depth and stumbled upon the acronym Sexpol.

Sexpol is short for Sexualpolitik, German for sexual politics.

And then there is the “Poster de soutien a Sexpol[1], a promotional poster for the French journal Sexpol (1975-80, an index of all the issues + covers here). It depicts a male baby, touching and looking at his penis.

The right hand side bottom of the poster indicates that the photo comes courtesy Instituto W.R. – Mexico, this is as far as I’ve been able to trace the origin of the photo.

There is a Spanish version[2] of the poster which features the “Manifiesto Sexpol” (1936).

The caption at the bottom left reads:

“It is a question of fully affirming, of aiding and safeguarding, the free and healthy life manifestations of the newborn, of children, adolescents, women and men, in an unmistakable manner which forever excludes any social fraud.”

Wilhelm ReichThe Sexual Revolution, tr. unidentified

Wilhelm Reich is credited with joining Freud and Marx, creating what is now known as Freudo-Marxism. In his book The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), Reich argues that sexual repression leads to fascism. It is the origin of the “make love, not war” credo. Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization (1955) built upon Reich and so did Gershon Legman’s magazine Neurotica. Society is mentally ill, say all these tracts, society needs to see a sociatrist.

The funny thing is, they all got it wrong. “The pill” brought short-lived sexual revolution and a new golden dawn for the alpha male, but did not end wars. It only brought on AIDS. How cruel.

See the end of the sexual revolution, about which I have written previously.

Over at my Tumblr page, I’ve posted two covers[2][3] of Reich’s books.