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Wilhelm Reich

Orgone (or orgone energy) is an esoteric concept going back to Austrian psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich. In his late ("Neo-Reichian") creative phase (from the 1930s), Reich was working with something he called primordial cosmic energy. In 1939, he deduced the concept of orgone energy from his Bion experiments as well as the ideas of one Friedrich Kraus.

As part of today's popular Reichian "orgonomy concepts", terms like orgone energy, orgone biology orgone chemistry emerged.

Orgone is assessed as a kind of "putative energy" by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine(NCCAM) , which is used by some therapies(Homeopathy, Prana, Chi, ...), but has defied measurement.[1] This idea is not covered by medical and scientific facts and was quickly unmasked as fiction.[2]

Claims and assumptions about orgone energy

Reich believed to have detected microscopic structures in his experiments, „energy bubbles representing the transition stages between inanimate and living matter“. They were to be created „all the time in nature through a process of dissolution of anorganic and organic matter that can be established experimentally.“[3] He called these energy bubbles bions. As an interpretation of his measurements he finally postulated the existence of a specific biological energy which he called "orgone".

Reich believed he was able to detect electrical fields with an electroscope or electrometer in electrically non-conductive materials such as rubber, cotton wool or sand which originate from a cosmic energy called orgone. In analogy to his observations about Sapa bions which emitted energy, he believed in the existence of inborn human orgone energy. Orgone believers define life as "orgone energy that pulsates in a membrane" and call the doctrine of orgone energy Orgonomy.

Orgone energy was also available in inexhaustible quantities in the atmosphere and in soil and detectable with electric meters. The amplitude of an electric meter (an obsolete instrument to measure high voltages), however, only shows the level of voltage, but not the available energy. While the opening of a plastic container or rubbing a carpet might yield voltages of several thousand volt and lead to a corresponding measurement on an electric meter, considerable electrical energy cannot be produced by this since only a limited number of charge carriers are utilized and at best a very short, low-power pulse can be generated. In accordance, air electricity, which can have voltages in the kilovolt range, cannot be used for energy production.

The term orgone is not recognized scientifically and used only in circles of Reich's or orgone supporters. Some of them believe that orgone energy was identical with the phenomenon of so called floaters (see: floaters in Wikipedia) or orgone energy waves, brief flashes of light (flickering before the eyes) or the sensation of high-frequency noise from tinnitus or circulatory disorders and brief loss of consciousness.

The first critic of the orgone concept was Albert Einstein, on whom Reich imposed his theories. Einstein took the trouble to verify Reich's predictions, but was able explain the test results with conventional physics without relying on abstruse hypotheses and wrote back to Reich: „I hope that you will develop your skepticism and won't let yourself be deceived by understandable illusions.“.[4]

According to Reich, there was also a degenerate form of orgone energy called DOR (of "Deadly Orgone Energy"). DOR would cause the darkening of sunlight. However, DOR was neither smog nor dust, but a "negative energy" which made it impossible for the atmosphere to transport sunlight. DOR allegedly also damaged orgone accumulators. In recent times, electromagnetic radiation is often equated with DOR and it is said that devices emitting electromagnetic radiation will also radiate DOR.

Orgone accumulators, orgone rays, orgone generators

Reich's assumptions about orgone energy led to orgone therapy and to the development of orgone accumulators, booths which were supposed to be able to store orgone. The cloudbuster, a structure made ​​of copper pipes, whose ends are usually cast in a block of orgonite (a mix of resin and metal fragments) according to Reich will be able to discharge orgone from the atmosphere to the ground. Orgone accumulators and cloudbusters are offered by esoteric merchants, but predominantly Do-It-Yourself instructions are being distributed. On a large scale orgone radiators are sold commercially. Orgone radiators, typically designed as a one-sided pointed rod of metal, will absorb orgone energy and return it "purified and refined" in a concentrated beam, as advertisements claim. Furthermore, there are "orgone generators", also called "chi-generators", allegedly allowing a person not only to affect orgone energy but to produce it.

Some protagonists

  • Don Croft. American esoteric and conspiracy theorist Croft is the originator of the idea to connect the chemtrails hypothesis with the hypotheses of orgone and Cloudbusters.
  • Georg Ritschl. German citizen Ritsch, living in South Africa, runs a campaign called "Orgonise Africa".
  • Bernd Senf. A former professor of economics in Berlin, Senf is one of the most dedicated self-proclaimed orgone researchers in Germany.
  • Joachim Trettin, head of an "Orgone Institute" in Nümbrecht in Cologne
  • Karl Hans Welz (born 1944). An Austrian living in California who combines Radionik and orgone theory, Welz is considered the inventor of the substance Orgonite and has built the "orgone generator", in his view "the first device on the planet that creates orgone or life energy". Welz also claims he examined orgone "with scientific means" and made evident "even with thermometer, electroscope and Geiger counter".[5]

Wilhelm Reich Orgone Institute Deutschland in Nümbrecht

Joachim Trettin (photo: facebook[6]
Advertisement for a "degree course in orgonomy" of an "Orgone Institute Nümbrecht" run by Joachim Trettin

Trettins "Orgoninstitut" in Nümbrecht sells orgone accumulators (at 1,630 Euro) and orgone blankets and also offers a "degree course in orgonomy". Graduates will be allowed to call themselves "Orgonomes". Until 2008, graduation took place at a foreign private educational institution called "AMRI" (Alternative Medicine Research Institute), where Trettin as well as Prof. Dr. h.c. (MD honoris causa, honorary degree) Beate Freihold allegedly were active as lecturers (Professor in Orgonomy). On their website, so called AMRI claim to be part of an "Alternative Medicines Research Organisation (AMRO)" with a mailbox address in Vancouver (Canada)[7] as well as part of a "University Consortium International" (UCI). UCI President and founder of AMRO is a "Prince Egbert Phipps of The ISLE of MAN". From 2008, graduation took place at diploma mill "Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica" (Unem) in Costa Rica.[8]

Versions of this article in other languages


  • Martin Gardner: Reich the Rainmaker: the Orgone Obsession. Skeptical Inquirer, 13(1):26-30, 1988
  • Irmgard Oepen, Horst Löb: Der Orgon-Strahler – eine funktionslose, aber offenbar gewinnbringende Attrappe. Skeptiker 11 (4/98) 148-152


  1. "putative energy fields (also called biofields) have defied measurement by reproducible methods as of yet. Therapies involving putative energy fields are based on the concept that human beings were infused with a subtle form of energy. This proposed vital energy or life force is known under various names in different cultures, such as qi ... prana, etheric energy, fohat, orgone, odic force, mana, and homeopathic resonance".
  2. Searching for Science in Psychoanalysis , Kenneth S. Isaacs: "[orgone is] a useless fiction with faulty basic premises, thin partial theory, and unsubstantiated application results. It was quickly discredited and cast away."
  3. Wilhelm Reich: Die Entdeckung des Orgons. Band 1. Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch 1969, S. 346 (Glossar)
  4. The exchange of letters in facsimile form and related material was published by Reich in 1953 int the context of a biographical series: Wilhelm Reich: Biographical Material: The Einstein Affair. Orgone Institute Press, Rangeley, Maine, USA
  5. A website of Karl Hans Welz
  7. Alternative Medicines Research Organisation (AMRO), Prof. Dr. E.G. Phipps, Chairman & Founder, Post Office Box 74178 RPO Hillcrest, Vancouver, B.C. V5V 5C8 Canada
  8. Umstrittene Titel: Professoren und Doktoren made in Costa Rica, Der Spiegel, 23.12.2008