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The Contributions of Wilhelm Reich

Robert Huffstutter
Creative Commons
Wilhelm Reich

Wilhelm Reich was a once promising psychoanalyst and scientist under the guidance of Freud in pre-World War II Europe. He promoted "sexual revolution"to support his belief that sexual repression was linked to the bodily and societal ills of neurosis and fascism.

He hoped to transform us in every sphere: health, marriage, economics, morality, and government. It was in sex, he believed, that we found the integrated self, liberated from the alienating culture and the authoritarian state. 

This was a radical view in fascist Europe, forcing Reich to take his ideas to what he believed was a more liberal-minded America. 

What he found was different: By the late 1940s, he had survived the Nazis by escaping to America, only to have all his books and work burned by the United States government.

His views alienated the scientific community -- who refused to try and replicate his earliest, and most promising scientific studies into the origins of cancer -- the Communist Party of which he was once a member, and the United States government. He came up against a perfect storm fear and puritanism in Cold War America.

In 1957, he died -- with barely a mention -- in prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. 

This hour, we explore the legacy of the forgotten Wilhelm Reich. 


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Colin McEnroe, Chion Wolf, and Greg Hill contributed to this show.

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. She served as the Senior Producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show' for several years before stepping down in 2021 and returning to her previous career as a registered nurse. She still produces shows with Colin and the team when her schedule allows.

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