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Wilhelm Reich Trial: 1956 - Discovers "orgone", Invents "accumulator", Builds "cloud-buster", Ignores Injunction, Suggestions For Further Reading

silvert defendants michael foundation

Defendants: Wilhelm Reich, Michael Silvert, the Wilhelm Reich Foundation
Crime Charged: Criminal contempt of court
Chief Defense Lawyers: Wilhelm Reich and Michael Silvert, representing themselves; William Moise, representing the Wilhelm Reich Foundation; on appeal, Charles Haydon
Chief Prosecutors: Joseph L. Maguire, Peter Mills
Judge: George C. Sweeney
Place: Portland, Maine
Date of Trial: May 3-7, 1956
Verdict: Guilty
Sentences: Reich: two years imprisonment; Silvert: one year and one day imprisonment; Foundation: $10,000 fine

SIGNIFICANCE: The judge in this case told the jury, "It's probably the first time in the annals of jurisprudence that the government has presented a case only to have the defendants come in and say they did it." The fact is that, while the Food & Drug Administration succeeded in proving that its injunction had been violated, it has never brought further legal action against the defendants' Public Orgonomic Research Exchange (PORE), which continues to function.

Born on a farm in Austria in 1897, Wilhelm Reich early developed an interest in natural science. Following service in World War I (1914-1918), he entered medical school and soon caught the attention of the well-known psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud, who welcomed him into his Viennese Psychoanalytic Society and, in 1922, made Reich his clinical assistant.

While administering clinics on sexual hygiene, Reich became sensitive to the problems of working-class people. His interest in the social causes of neurosis led him to activity in the Socialist Party. Over a decade, he published papers that compared Marxian and Freudian concepts, married a patient and produced two daughters, and became vice director of Freud's clinic.

Williams v. Lee - A Question Of Jurisdiction, The Treaty Of 1868 [next] [back] Wiener v. United States - A "quasi-judicial" Body, Shifting Precedents, Justice Felix Frankfurter

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about 8 years ago

What Rot! The FDA and Judges literally "bannned and burned" Reich's books, showing they held the US Constitution in contempt. And Reich's orgone energy is a real thing, a real energy. This was a shabby episode that will go down as a black mark for the medical profession and US Court system. IE, that if a defendant does not exhibit a sufficient amount of genuflecting subservience to judicial authority, or dares to openly say that the prosecutors are lying (which in the Reich case, they were) the judges will take vengeance upon them by virtue of sheer power violence. Book Burning! And they laugh about it, and blame Reich for what they did!

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almost 3 years ago

Readers should know the federal government killed Reich and burned his books - he couldn't live in prison and died before his sentence was over. Who else in this country was ever sentenced to years in prison for their speech ? It was a dark period of american history.