FURY ON EARTH: A Biography of Wilhelm Reich by Myron Sharaf

FURY ON EARTH: A Biography of Wilhelm Reich

KIRKUS REVIEW

The grace and gentleness, compassion and intelligence that draw the reader to this latest biographer of Wilhelm Reich also raise a familiar question: How can Reich, a man of extravagant ego and preposterous claims, a philanderer and exploiter, given to petulant, outrageous behavior, engender such regard 25 years after his death in prison? Sharaf met Reich when he was an impressionable 18 and spent the next decade as Reich's student, analysand, amanuensis, and rival--an affair developed between Sharaf's wife and Reich. The breach was healed, however; and though Sharaf went on to a Harvard Ph.D. and a career teaching and practicing psychotherapy, he has remained captivated by Reich. In his subtle interpretive portrait, there are the overwhelming events of Reich's childhood: the isolated life of the firstborn son who discovers an adulterous affair between his idolized mother and his tutor; his subsequent hints to papa and the resulting suicide of his mother, followed shortly by his father's willful death. There is the early meeting with Freud and the discovery of analysis, the rivalries and flights from country to country, from woman to woman. The theme is a lifelong entwining of personal/emotional/sexual life with the philosophy of ""orgastic potency"" and its later devolutions in orgonomy, orgone therapy, accumulators, and the absurdities of the bion experiments. That same self-searching compulsion to heal himself may have enhanced Reich's skills as an analyst, his ability to see through defenses and plunge into the character analysis that was his contribution to depth psychology. For the rest, the quest for orgasm, for the conjunction of romantic love and sexual climax, became the basis for zealous programs of political, social, and educational reform: the freeing of the body of disease, and the body politic from fascist slavery. The reader need not admire Reich, at the beginning or at the close, to be impressed by Sharaf's biography.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1982
ISBN: 0306805758
Publisher: St. Martin's