Adventures in the Orgasmatron by Christopher Turner

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The untold story of Wilhelm Reich and the dawn of the sexual revolution. An illuminating, startling, at times bizarre story of sex and science, ecstasy and repression. Adventures in the Orgasmatron is the untold story of the dawn of the sexual revolution in America -- an illuminating, startling, at times bizarre story of sex and science, ecstasy and repression. In the middle of the 20th century, the United States became an adoptive home for dozens of expatriated European thinkers, who saw this rich, young country ripe for sexual liberation. One of the most left-field of them was the Viennese psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, a disciple of Freud's who had broken with the master. Reich's own approach was based on his theories of the orgasm and sexual energy, which he dubbed 'orgone energy'. Instead of the couch, he made use of a tall, slender construction of wood, metal, and steel wool, which he called the orgone box. A highly sexed man himself, Reich thought that a person who sat in the box could elevate their 'orgastic potential' ridding the body of repressive forces, improving sexual potency, and enhancing overall health. After World War Two, Reich's theories caught on among writers and artists, the early adopters of the counter-culture. Norman Mailer and Saul Bellow were amongst those for whom the orgone box represented a yearned-for synthesis of sexual and political liberation, and of physical science and psychology. Meanwhile, Reich himself faced one debacle after another. Albert Einstein heard him out before rebuffing him. The FBI investigated him as a Communist sympathizer: it turned out that they were hunting the wrong man. The federal government banned the orgone box and tagged Reich as a fraud. There were claims of sexual misdeeds, and bouts of Reich's own mental instability. This is the story of the blossoming of the 20th century's sexual revolution, and the unshackling of a repressed society, and sex before science.

About Christopher Turner

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Christopher Turner lives in London and writes for The Guardian and other publications.
Published August 1, 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers. 544 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Political & Social Sciences.

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The Guardian

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When Wilhelm Reich, the most brilliant of the second generation of psychoanalysts who had been Freud's pupils, arrived in New York in August 1939, only a few days before the outbreak of war, he was optimistic that his ideas fusing sex and politics would be better received there than they had been...

Jul 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Adventures in the Orgasmatron

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