Adventures in the Orgasmatron by Christopher Turner
How the Sexual Revolution Came to America

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Synopsis

One of The Economist’s 2011 Books of the Year A Boston Globe Best Nonfiction Book of 2011

     Well before the 1960s, a sexual revolution was under way in America, led by expatriated European thinkers who saw a vast country ripe for liberation. In Adventures in the Orgasmatron, Christopher Turner tells the revolution’s story—an illuminating, thrilling, often bizarre story of sex and science, ecstasy and repression.

     Central to the narrative is the orgone box—a tall, slender construction of wood, metal, and steel wool. A person who sat in the box, it was thought, could elevate his or her “orgastic potential.” The box was the invention of Wilhelm Reich, an outrider psychoanalyst who faced a federal ban on the orgone box, an FBI investigation, a fraught encounter with Einstein, and bouts of paranoia.

     In Turner’s vivid account, Reich’s efforts anticipated those of Alfred Kinsey, Herbert Marcuse, and other prominent thinkers—efforts that brought about a transformation of Western views of sexuality in ways even the thinkers themselves could not have imagined.


 

About Christopher Turner

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Christopher Turner lives in London and writes for The Guardian and other publications.
 
Published June 7, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 544 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Adventures in the Orgasmatron

Kirkus Reviews

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At the age of 22, Reich became a member of Freud’s inner circle, and was clearly the leader of the second generation of psychoanalysts.

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The New York Times

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(One wishes that Reich had had time to do a psychosexual profile of Hoover.) What the investigators actually found, however, was a man whose breach with his Communist past was complete: stating firmly (this was in late 1953) that he favored the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg even though ...

Sep 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Adventures in the Orgasmatron...

Publishers Weekly

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In fact, this futuristic parody was based largely on the work of Wilhelm Reich, who coined the slogan "sexual revolution" in the 1930s.

Apr 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Adventures in the Orgasmatron...

The Wall Street Journal

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(Mr. Turner reports that Mailer lined one of Reich's "orgone accumulators" with soundproof carpeting so that he could absorb Wilhelm's orgone while screaming along with Arthur at the same time.) The boxes were Reich's most famous invention, more so even than the orgone cannons that he said coul...

Jun 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Adventures in the Orgasmatron...

The Independent

Reich solicited Einstein's approval, but Einstein did some experiments and said he thought Reich should learn scepticism.

Aug 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Adventures in the Orgasmatron...

The Telegraph

A rich American woman with a dog called Climax, and Freud keeping his jaw open with the help of a clothes peg in order to smoke cigars after the cancerous roof of his mouth had been surgically removed, are some of the oddities in this quirky biography of the sex evangelist Wilhelm Reich.

Aug 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Adventures in the Orgasmatron...

The Telegraph

Lewis Jones is moderately excited by Adventures in the Orgasmatron, an exhaustive biography of Wilhelm Reich, the charismatic, comic, sinister so-called father of the sexual revolution.

Aug 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Adventures in the Orgasmatron...

London Review of Books

For Freud and many of the first generation of psychoanalysts Reich committed two cardinal sins: he took it for granted that psychoanalysis and politics were inextricable, and he believed that the aim of psychoanalysis was not to provide people with better defences, but to make them less defensive.

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Bookmarks Magazine

A person who sat in the box, it was thought, could elevate his or her “orgastic potential.” The box was the invention of Wilhelm Reich, an outrider psychoanalyst who faced a federal ban on the orgone box, an FBI investigation, a fraught encounter with Einstein, and bouts of paranoia.

Jul 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Adventures in the Orgasmatron...

Herald Scotland

Reich railed against sexual oppression, claiming the denial of the libido forces it to find alternative outlets in perversions and neuroticism.

Aug 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Adventures in the Orgasmatron...

Artswrap

The untold story of Wilhelm Reich and the dawn of the sexual revolution.

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