THE QUEST FOR WILHELM REICH by Colin Wilson

THE QUEST FOR WILHELM REICH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A quirky, idiosyncratic study which tells as much about Wilson as it does about Reich. Both, too, can be irritating. Clearly Wilhelm Reich was an odd fellow, and clearly he left his mark, not only on the psychoanalytic movement emerging in his lifetime, but in the trendy '60s and '70s when college students (or dropouts) discovered Character Analysis and orgone theory. As long as Wilson sticks to the facts, he's interesting. Reich was born in Galicia in 1897, the elder of two sons in a wealthy Jewish family. At 13 he discovered his mother in bed with his tutor, and told father--who was so outraged he virtually hounded his wife into suicide. It does not escape Wilson that Reich bore some guilt--and that he behaved in the same despotic style as his father. Thus, the man who preached sexual liberation and practiced it with patients, mistresses, and wives, was jealous to the point of paranoia. Indeed, Reich seems to epitomize the paranoid personality of our times. Wilson attributes many of Reich's difficulties--with Marxists, fellow analysts, and followers; with the FDA over the uses and abuses of the orgone box--to his infuriating ability to alienate others through paranoid counterattacks and accusations. With so much space devoted to Reich's abrasiveness and the final dÉbâcle (he died in jail), it's hard to envision Reich as the magnetic teacher, gifted thinker, and womanizing charmer. It's even more problematic when Wilson throws in catchpenny analysis: distorted critiques of Freud, plus his own theories on neurosis, functions of right and left brain hemispheres, UFOs, and the occult. Wilson's title pays homage to Arthur Symons' altogether fascinating study of Frederick Rolfe, the religious fanatic who preferred the title Baron Corvo (The Quest for Corvo). Wilson's ""quest"" only raises more questions--and some hackles.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1980
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday