Tuesday, March 2, 2010


New Iberia, Louisiana hasn’t been an idyllic place for us to hibernate this winter. However, as I wrote in a previous blog, a person might have to travel to Egypt to find warmth right now. Lately, everywhere I go, people talk about the weather. ‘Used to be that weather was a topic confined to old folks –most of us can remember a scenario that includes aging men sitting on a bench in front of the courthouse making conversation that began with “Think it’s gonna’ rain?” Now, we have radio and television weather reports all day that focus on the latest winter storm, earthquake, tornado…”Can Spring be far behind?”

When I was doing research for my most recent book, THE MAINE EVENT, (which is yet at the printers but coming soon) I came across intriguing weather information that I felt would enhance a conversation between the heroine and her spouse. The information concerned an eccentric psychologist, Wilheim Reich, who was born in Austria and studied under the renowned psychotherapist Sigmund Freud. Reich disagreed with Freud’s methods of psychoanalysis and moved to Rangeley, Maine to pursue research regarding orgone energy. He thought orgone was a massless, omnipresent substance that was closely associated with living energy, and he conducted experiments which he claimed proved his theory that this energy force controlled the universe. He invented special orgone accumulators, devices that he touted could capture and harness energy and affect weather by altering levels of atmospheric orgone. Reich created the orgone box, which he said could act as a cloudbuster, stimulating rainfall. I mentioned the box in my novel, THE MAINE EVENT, in part of a conversation about a Maine storm. I’ll include the excerpt from this novel following this introduction to the orgone theory.

In 1954, Reich was jailed because he defied the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s injunction to cease making the orgone boxes and shipping them across state lines. The FDA then destroyed Reich’s books about orgone, along with research information and devices. Reich died in a federal penitentiary and was buried on the grounds of Orgonon, his estate in Rangeley, Maine.

I guess my interest in the orgone boxes centers more on how to stop rain, snow, storms, rather than on Reich’s interest in stimulating rainfall. By the way, the famous author, J. D. Salinger, who died recently, would sometimes sit in an orgone box as part of his homeopathic health regime. Orgone hasn’t been validated by Science, although research into the subject of orgone therapy was still being done as late as 2007; however, use of orgone equipment is rare.

Here’s the passage regarding orgone excerpted from THE MAINE EVENT:

   “Hope that Reich isn’t experimenting with the weather again,” Jim said.
   “What on earth are you talking about?
   It was obvious Jim wanted to divert me from talking about Birdie’s death. I knew that he suspected I’d go hunting the killer next.
   “Some guy that Jose told me about. Lives in this big place down in southwestern Maine, near Rangeley. He’s an odd duck, an Austrian psychologist who believes there’s an energy force called orgone that controls the universe. He invented a machine for capturing the orgone. Produces storms with the machine.”
   I laughed, at first almost a chuckle, then hysterically, as the vision of a wild-haired scientist manipulating a weather machine surfaced.
   “You make fun of me for being superstitious and expect me to believe a story like that?”
   Annoyed, Jim ignored my laughter and went into the bedroom to change into civvies.

I guess that my skepticism about orgones was reflected in the short conversation about them in THE MAINE EVENT, but there are “believers” in Reich’s theory, and researchers at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine regard orgone as a type of “putative energy.” Well, it'd be nice if we had a device that could dispel some of the gray days we’ve endured this harsh winter.

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