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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

orgone A name given by psychologist Wilhelm Reich (1892-1957) to an imaginary substance he believed was normally evenly distributed about the body, but gathered into the genital area during orgasm, then was redistributed after that event. Lack of proper, satisfying orgasms, he said, led to orgone imbalance and attendant negative symptoms of every sort.
      Reich preached that cancer was caused by a lack of orgone.
      In 1940 he built and marketed a box he called an Orgone Accumulator, and sales were brisk. It was simply a three-foot-square box made of two layers, wood on the outside and metal on the inside. The natural orgone from the sky, he said, was soaked up by the wood and transmitted to the metal and thus to the body of the owner, crouched inside. Orgone Blankets followed, as well as small orgone “shooters” that were said to direct concentrated orgone to needed areas.
      Only fourteen years later, in 1954, ever-vigilant investigators for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had discovered these devices and obtained an injunction against Reich selling his products. However, Reich continued, and in 1956 was tried, convicted, and sentenced to a $10,000 fine plus two years in prison. He died in prison, praised by his followers as a persecuted pioneer of progress.

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