With a Sci/Tech headline like “Scientist’s ideas on sex re-examined,” how could you not click, right? Too bad it isn’t really science:
RANGELEY, Maine – Physician-scientist Wilhelm Reich, best known for his claims of a cosmic life force associated with sexual orgasm, died in federal prison, and the government burned tons of his books and other publications and destroyed his equipment.
But half a century later, a small number of scientists and other believers are working to advance the European-born psychiatrist’s work on what he called “orgone energy” — a theory largely forgotten in the scientific mainstream.
Of course, the article never actually interviews or identifies anyone who would actually qualify as a scientist… Whoops…
The 50th anniversary of his death is being marked by a major exhibition on Reich and his work that opens Nov. 15 at the Jewish Museum in Vienna, the city where he attended medical school, began his psychiatric practice and studied under Sigmund Freud.
Also this month, archives of Reich’s unpublished papers, which have been stored at Harvard Medical School, will become available to researchers for the first time. Reich had stipulated that his papers only be opened 50 years after his death.
Even as the anniversary-related events rekindle memories of Reich and his theories, some of his supporters worry that they are in a race against time.
The challenge, they say, is to keep his work alive and advance it through new studies and experimentation at a time when Reich is not being taught in either medical schools or physics classes.
While I do think that his papers will hold items of interest to historians of science, to say that I have my doubts about their actual utility to practicing scientists would be a major understatement.
So here’s a hint for the Reich supporters and believers out there: you probably aren’t going to have your theories taught, well, anywhere when they’re recurring thematic elements in William S. Burroughs’ novels. Now, I likes me some Burroughs, but I’m thinking that this association probably elevates your situation past ‘challenge’ and into the realm of ‘fucking impossible.’