1 minute read

Wilhelm Reich Trial: 1956

Invents "accumulator"

On Christmas day, 1939, Reich married Ilse Ollendorf. She became his laboratory assistant as he experimented further, labeling the bion energy with his earlier name, "orgone." This energy, he theorized, existed not only within living organisms but also in the atmosphere. In 1940, he devised a six-sided box for a person to sit in. Its alternating layers of organic material (plywood or cotton) and metallic material (sheet metal or steel wool) would, he said, attract the energy and radiate it to the box's center. The human sitting in the box, added Reich, would absorb the energy, with a resultant healing effect. Reich called the box the "orgone accumulator."

For nearly 10 years, Reich developed and tested his theories. He created smaller boxes and blanket-like orgone accumulators that could enwrap a human arm or leg. His reports announced that the accumulator could reduce and eliminate cancer tumors, relieve heart and arthritis pain, heal burns, reduce or eliminate the need for prescription medication, and tone up the immune system against disease.

Reich and Ilse moved to Rangeley, Maine, building a laboratory and research center called Orgonon. There they supervised the manufacture and nationwide sale, by mail order, of the orgone accumulator. Meantime, Reich had his attorney, Peter Mills, incorporate The Wilhelm Reich Foundation to own the Orgonon laboratory.

Word of Reich's work reached journalist Mildred Brady. In 1947, in Harper's Magazine, she published an article that condemned the orgone accumulator as ineffective and fraudulent. Only weeks later, The New Republic published her second piece, "The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich." In Washington, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dispatched an agent to Rangeley to investigate.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Wilhelm Reich Trial: 1956 - Discovers "orgone", Invents "accumulator", Builds "cloud-buster", Ignores Injunction, Suggestions For Further Reading