Contact Us         |       Glossary       |    Join Our Mailing List       |     Frequently Asked Questions

"Love, work, and knowledge are the wellsprings of our life. They should also govern it."
—Wilhelm Reich

A thumbnail view of Wilhelm Reich’s work

The development of orgonomy:

Orgonomy, the science of man’s relationship with nature, developed from the work and discoveries made by Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), a pioneering mind-body psychotherapist and natural scientist. In the 1920s, as physician and psychoanalyst, he enquired in detail into patients' sexual lives, unheard of up to that time in Victorian Vienna. He made the crucial distinction between sexual activity and sexual satisfaction when he observed that the patients who overcame neurotic symptoms had developed satisfying sexual lives in contrast to those who had not.

In the early 30s, he explored how emotions represent perception of energy movement in the body and that a patient’s neurotic character reflects emotions held by muscular armor. By that time, he had made three major discoveries with profound implications for understanding human functioning: the libido is a flow of real energy, the function of the orgasm is to regulate the flow of energy, the muscular armor interferes with the flow of energy and prevents its regulation.

To treat problems resulting from blocked emotions in the body he developed the first mind-body approach to psychotherapy. At the same time, as he delved into the cause of neurosis; he saw that an individual’s neurotic character forms in response to dysfunctional family relationships and a variety of social customs that interfere with a child’s needs for genuine contact. He couldn’t escape the conclusion that society itself is sick: neurosis is perpetuated as the individual in turn maintains dysfunctional family and social structures that reinforce and replicate individual neurotic character in succeeding generations.

In the 1930s his research turned to basic science to identify the energy he worked with in patients. His bioelectric experiments demonstrated that subjective sensations can be objectified. To study the basis of streaming sensations described by patients when they had let go of their armor, he studied the streaming of protoplasm in amoebas under the microscope. In experiments to observe the formation of protozoa, he discovered what he called “bions,” the elemental particle of life. Certain bion culture preparations observed under the microscope revealed a radiating energy with characteristics related to but different from bioelectricity and electromagnetic radiation.

In 1939, he discovered the energy as a primary energy in the atmosphere and named it the “orgone,” from organism and orgasm, and the science of its study “orgonomy,” as astronomy is the study of stars (astros, Greek for star). He concluded that atmospheric orgone energy forms the basis of weather, and cosmic orgone the basis of galaxy formation. Reich was the first to study this energy with Western scientific methods and from countless observations concluded that the orgone represents the life force that exists and moves spontaneously in all living things and throughout the universe.

Reich’s work developed naturally through progressively broader and deeper realms: from psychology, medicine, sociology and biology to the physics of a mass-free, spontaneously-moving, primordial energy, orgone, that underlies all processes in nature.

Orgonomy differentiates into four major branches that follow its historical development:

  1. Medical orgonomy, which deals with understanding health and treating emotional and physical diseases in the individual.
  2. Social orgonomy, which addresses the relationships between people in both their healthy and pathological aspects, and the institutions and customs that develop from those interactions—from families and work organizations to political entities.
  3. Biological orgonomy, which investigates the underlying functional basis of life.
  4. Physical orgonomy, which investigates basic principles and functions of the primary physical orgone energy.
  5. The ACO keeping Reich’s legacy alive

    For more than 50 years, through training, public education, publishing and research activities, the ACO has kept Reich’s legacy of orgonomy alive in all four of its branches. The ACO bylaws provide for membership in each of the four spheres of orgonomic science with most members in medical science and currently one each in the social and physical sciences.

    Since its founding in 1968, medical orgonomy has been a cornerstone of ACO activities. From the beginning, the training program in medical orgonomy has included an introductory didactic course and an ongoing advanced technical clinical seminar that meets monthly as a direct continuation of seminars started by Reich in the 1920s. In the 1980s the program expanded to include two additional monthly seminars—one on character analysis and one on the beginning phases of therapy. Trainees also receive regular instruction with an individual tutor. The ACO has also brought knowledge about medical orgonomy to the general public. For many years, the College’s annual public conference included case presentation about medical orgone therapy. In 2018 the ACO instituted a monthly “A Different Kind of Psychiatry” case presentation series, free and open to the public which has increasingly attracted new people who are learning about the value of this different approach to emotional problems.

    In 2001 the ACO initiated a social orgonomy training program, which extended the College’s activities to develop and deepen the knowledge in that branch of orgonomy as it applies to a broad range of disciplines. The trainees have covered the gamut of careers that include business owners, a finance manager, an attorney, a teacher, educational and psychological counselors and a family/couple’s therapist. The social orgonomy training starts with its members taking the three-year introductory didactic course alongside the medical trainees. They then attend a social orgonomy case presentation seminar and each have an assigned individual tutor. In 2006 the ACO initiated a public social orgonomy series that has included over 40 presentations since its inception.

    The ACO has continued to develop and support biological orgonomy with regular laboratory workshops in orgone biophysics. and periodic public presentations. ACO-sponsored biological research has included clinical and basic research on the Reich Blood Test as well as supporting basic biological research with Project Protozoa.

    Support of physical orgonomy at the ACO includes the orgone biophysics workshops open to the public and occasional public presentations on the subject as well as maintaining ongoing weather research. The College also encourages individual orgonomists’ research on basic laboratory science related to physical properties of the orgone as well as cosmological research as informed by knowledge about the cosmic orgone energy.

    The ACO press has published the Journal of Orgonomy biannuallly since 1967 and has published and maintains in print a variety of books related to orgonomy. Articles in the Journal cover all four branches of orgonomic science—medical, social, biological and physical—with a particular focus in recent years on medical orgone therapy and the social sciences.

    Additional ACO public education events have included a free ACO Movie Night, with 22 films shown in an ongoing series begun in 2012. Each film is followed by open discussion facilitated by orgonomists on a wide range of topics that have attracted new people to learning about orgonomy. The ACO has also sponsored special events that show the application of orgonomic principles such as masterclasses in functional singing as well as a series of readings and open discussion of memoir stories written by a medical orgonomist.

    It is exciting what the ACO has accomplished while preserving and developing the science of orgonomy as developed by Wilhelm Reich. For more information please see the information on our website which includes numerous articles from the Journal of Orgonomy available for free at or contact us.

    For a photo album of Reich click here.

    For a longer biographical sketch of Wilhelm Reich click here.

    For a personal biography of Wilhelm Reich by his student, colleague and friend Elsworth Baker, the founder of the American College of Orgonomy click here .

The Americal College of Orgonomy | P.O. Box 490 Princeton, New Jersey 08542 | 732.821.1144 | © The American College of Orgonomy. All rights reserved.