By Thomas DiFerdinando
In Defense of Wilhelm Reich is an intelligent, well-written summary of Wilhelm Reich's life, work and persecution. It is a powerhouse of scholarship, insight, meticulous historical detail, unapologetic political incorrectness, a relentless effort to stick to the facts, and, for newcomers to Reich, life-changing information. It is easily the most comprehensive, up-to-date overview of the entire body of Reich's controversial yet profoundly practical scientific achievements.
The book's Timeline (Chapter Two) provides a clear exposition of all of Reich's major discoveries. I especially like the pithy, single-page "textboxes" that pepper the chapter. These alone give an immediate appreciation of the amazing scope of what Reich accomplished. They include his sex-economic discoveries; the foundational role of the orgasm in bioenergy regulation; Reich's remarkable bioelectrical experiments; his bion discoveries on cancer, the origin of the cancer cell and the origins of life; the orgone accumulator anomalies, biological effects and health benefits; and the discovery of the life energy in the organism, atmosphere and cosmos. One finds answers to questions modern researchers have been grappling with for centuries. One also finds an equally comprehensive collection of the attacks on Reich, detailing who exactly put his persecution into play and who keeps it in play today, with names named, dots connected and documentation provided. Chapter Three documents the full range of confirmations of Reich's discoveries, both before and after Reich's death - including reference to modern day discoveries where Reich's priority remains unacknowledged.
Chapter Four is in some ways the most important chapter in the book. It includes a devastating expose' of the most recent attacks against Reich, as triggered by Christopher Turner's Adventures in the Orgasmatron. Turner's book masqueraded as scholarship in a particularly insidious way - it actually mixed up selected facts about Reich with a heavy dose of outright fabrications and slanders. Turner's entire book was in essence a resurrection of the original 1947 Mildred Brady smears against Reich, merged with an even more scurrilous set of claims. One has to ask, what motivated Turner to go to all that trouble, to slander a scientist who has been dead for over sixty years? Well that is discussed in Dr. DeMeo's book, and in uncompromising terms.
For example, there is the refreshingly straightforward and unapologetic discussion of Reich's findings on emotional and sexual health, i.e., on what Reich called genitality. DeMeo contrasts Reich's findings with those of the famous sex-researcher Alfred Kinsey (whom Turner is very friendly to) detailing where Kinsey differed with Reich in his claims about human sexuality. For example, unlike Reich, Kinsey's definition of orgasm excluded any concerns for love or emotions. DeMeo also documents how Kinsey gave support to pornography and pedophilia, along with other behaviors which Reich considered to be neurotic, sadistic or criminal. One cannot find a more diametrically opposed understanding of sexuality and emotional health. The point is made, to understand the direction the Western world took in its social and policy-making trends in the second half of the 20th century, one has to understand it was Kinsey's influence and claims, and not Reich's, that lead to the destructive results authors like Turner insist on deceptively ascribing to Reich.
DeMeo's chapter on Turner also documents the crucial fact that Turner, like every other skeptic before him, cites NONE of the extensive supporting evidence and positive confirmations for Reich's clinical and experimental findings. This is especially important because, one of the oldest tricks employed by Reich's detractors is the lie of omission. This is especially destructive in Turner's case because his book was wrongly touted as an exhaustive, authoritative and scholarly biography of Reich! For the honest scholars and generally interested reader, In Defense of Wilhelm Reich" contains a wealth of supporting links and resources to positive replications.
The final chapters detail historically recent slanders and distortions, including those found in sources like the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
What I also found enlightening is DeMeo's use of eye-opening historical context, i.e., his highlighting of known historical facts that have not yet been integrated as a whole into Western history, culture and popular consciousness. For example, the Timeline chapter includes brief but clarifying insight into the secret working relationship between Hitler and Stalin, and also between Lenin and the German High Command after WWI - active, working relationships aimed at world domination that lead to the carnage of WWII. There is also material on the Marxist-Communist betrayals of the early sex- and family-law reformers; a comparison of the adoption of these reforms in Capitalist America vs. their rejection in the retrograde Socialist and Communist countries; and much on Reich's relationship to the Communists, i.e., what he knew and didn't know at the time about Marx and the Soviets - another major contribution.
More than a book about Reich's persecution, In Defense of Wilhelm Reich serves as an indictment of the highly destructive yet profoundly seductive sociopolitical forces throughout our society that interfere daily with human freedom and happiness, forces which Reich collectively explained as the Emotional Plague. The central myth about Reich - that of the "sex-crazed quack gone mad" - is the perfect example. The negative response to Reich by many otherwise decent people today is, in actuality, a response to this fake "Reich" conjured up by the Plague. The real Reich is certainly controversial and emotionally challenging, due to his honest and penetrating analysis of humanity's deep-seated neurotic and psychosexually-driven frustrations and self-destructive tendencies. But that is a far cry from Reich being a "pornographic, sex-crazed charlatan"! The latter is a myth needed by the Emotional Plague and authors like Turner, to steer otherwise decent people away from the work and discoveries of one of history's most remarkable and productive psychiatrists and natural scientists.
I want to mention one other thing. Reich himself stated his FDA trial and persecution were initiated and organized by Moscow-driven Communist cells in the USA. Contrary to the popular assumption that Reich was delusional, and that his downfall and persecution were driven by a right-wing, sex-hating, McCarthy-inspired, Christian conservative conspiracy, Reich has since been proven correct. This is most thoroughly documented in a recent book by researcher James Martin, Wilhelm Reich and the Cold War (second edition subtitled: "The True Story of How a Communist Spy Team, Government Hoodlums and Sick Psychiatrists Destroyed Sexual Science and Cosmic Life Energy Discoveries"). In Defense of Wilhelm Reich provides further supporting evidence to both Reich's assertions and Martin's extensive findings on the Communist conspiracy, connecting even more dots in a series of history-changing events that murdered and nearly completely destroyed the life's work of one of histories most original and prolific scientists. While people of all political persuasions certainly played a role in Reich's downfall, the demonstrable fact is it was the Communist Left who most actively conspired to destroy Reich, and as Dr. DeMeo shows, continues to work to destroy him today.
The power of In Defense of Wilhelm Reich is that, like the best theatrical and cinematic productions, it's theme is universal. It is classic "Good vs. Evil", except in the case of Reich, the transcendent nature of the drama is no fiction. It is the product of two powerful, but very real forces one rarely finds in such total opposition to each other: the relentless and uncompromising nature of Wilhelm Reich, his work and his genuinely profound discoveries, and the relentless, uncompromising compulsion of the Emotional Plague to destroy all three. Part of Dr. DeMeo's contribution, supported by his extensive background and lifelong experience in orgonomic research, is the fact he too is as relentless about sticking to the facts as the enemies of Reich and life-energy science are in hiding, obscuring, altering and destroying them. While nothing beats reading Reich's works first hand, for those who would like a broad yet profoundly satisfying overview and summary all in one place, this is the book for you. I give it my highest recommendation, to both novice and professional -- for those who want a fact-based introduction to whom Reich was and what he achieved, and for professionals and others with a life-long commitment to applying and advancing this man's remarkable discoveries and contributions to humanity.