Archiv für den Monat: März 2023

Expatriated psychoanalysts

by Andreas Peglau[1]

Psychoanalysis was far less suppressed under National Socialism than is usually assumed, even by experts. This – and the special position of Wilhelm Reich – is also proven by the files of the Foreign Office, which was responsible for expatriations at that time, evaluated here for the first time. Weiterlesen

Myth of the Death Instinct. About an aberration of psychoanalysis

by Andreas Peglau[1]

Source: ccvision

In 1932, Freud (1999c, p. 101) referred to „[t]he theory of drives“ as „our mythology,“ drives as „mythical beings.“ In 1920, in Jenseits des Lustprinzips (Beyond the principle of pleasure, Freud 1999a, cf. May 2013), he had first publicly presented the most controversial of these „beings“: the destructive or death drive, later named Thanatos, after the Greek god of death. Even today, the assumption of such an instinct has influence inside and outside psychoanalysis – although its remoteness from reality has long been proven. Weiterlesen

Schlangenbader Str. 87, 14197 Berlin: the birthplace of body psychotherapy

by Andreas Peglau[1]


In November 1930, Reich moved from Vienna to Berlin. The German psychoanalysts, he writes about this, „were far more progressive in social questions than the Viennese. The youth breathed more freely.“ He received professional recognition here as well, became a teaching analyst again, and also a member of the Deutsche Psychoanalytische Gesellschaft (DPG). In particular, the circle of „left-wing“ analysts around Otto Fenichel, which also included Edith Jacobssohn and – for a time – Erich Fromm, enabled him to exchange views among largely like-minded people.

Reich’s reputation as a potential troublemaker, which endangered the maintenance of the desired psychoanalytic image, had, of course, preceded him to Berlin. Weiterlesen

A Marxist psychoanalyst of Jewish origins lives through the end of the Weimar Republic

After eighty-seven years, the original 1933 edition of Wilhelm Reich’s Mass Psychology of Fascism is published for the first time in its original form

Andreas Peglau

“Society must be in resistance to us, for we behave critically towards it; we prove to society that it is in large part itself the cause of neuroses.” (Sigmund Freud, 1910).

To be consistent, psychoanalysis, both as a social science and as a therapeutic method, must be critical of society. Given this, the original version of Wilhelm Reich’s Mass Psychology of Fascism, published in the late summer of 1933, can be regarded as one of the most important psychoanalytic books ever written. More particularly, Reich’s book was the first text to address the psychosocial underpinnings of the Nazi system, working in a field now referred to as right-wing extremism studies.

Nonetheless, the book’s first edition has been almost completely forgotten, only available in pirate editions or at high prices from antiquarian bookstores. Existing references to Mass Psychology of Fascism almost always mean the 1946 English-language third edition, which has been available in German since 1971. But this edition differs radically from the original version of the book. Weiterlesen

Reich at the Marxist Workers‘ School MASCH

by Andreas Peglau[1]

Figure 1. The Schickler House on Litten Street, a few hundred metres from the Berlin Alexanderplatz. The MASCH headquarters took up an entire floor here, where Wilhelm Reich, among others, held lectures. (Photo Gudrun Peters 2007)

Initiated by the KPD in Berlin in 1925/26, the founding of MASCH marked the beginning of an educational project that was in many respects unique and unjustly almost forgotten.The aim of the MASCH was to provide workers with education, above all basic knowledge of Marxism, which was also claimed to be infallible: „No social question that Marxism cannot answer, […] no political situation that Marxism cannot shed light on“ (Gerhard-Sonnenberg 1976, p. 73). The opponents or competitors were seen as „the bourgeois and socialist so-called ‚universities'“. Weiterlesen

What would a Wilhelm Reich-oriented psychoanalysis look like?

by Andreas Peglau[1]

From a lecture given at the spring conference of the German Psychoanalytic Association (DPG) in Kassel, 6.6.2015.

„The question of what psychoanalysts can and should do here and now for the preservation of peace – at least where it is still possible to speak of peace at all, i.e. not least in Central Europe – is, in my view, by far the most important reason why a profound discussion of Reich within psychoanalysis should urgently – for the first time – be put on the agenda.“ Weiterlesen

The Unified Associations for Proletarian Sexual Reform and Maternity Protection and Wilhelm Reich’s real role in the German „Sex-pol“

by Andreas Peglau[1]


CP mass organisations

Through the creation of mass organisations, the KPD attempted from 1924 onwards to reach broader sections of the population and at the same time to draw them away from the SPD. With this aim in mind, for example, the Kampfgemeinschaft der Arbeitersänger, the Arbeitermandolinisten or the Verband Proletarischer Freidenker Deutschlands came into being. This was not always accompanied by large membership numbers, which was often concealed by „corporate memberships“: other associations joined as members – which made the membership numbers skyrocket on paper. Nevertheless, these organisations as a whole had an impressive following. The Freidenker (Freethinkers) had 170,000 members in 1932, the Rote Frontkämpferbund between 100,000 and 250,000, and the Rote Hilfe Deutschlands had an estimated 530,000 members in 1933. The Internationale Arbeiterhilfe (IAH, International Workers‘ Aid) had „in March 1931 602 associations and organisations with 1,225,000 members“. However, even the IAH only had a few tens of thousands of individual members, i.e. „natural persons“. Weiterlesen

A small Sensation: The camouflage edition of Wilhelm Reich’s „Massenpsychologie des Faschismus“ (1933) has surfaced

by Andreas Peglau


Germans who read in late 1933 or later Mystische Erhebung. Ein Buch für junge Männer by Pastor Friedrich Traub, had no reason to be surprised at first: one more church representative who paid homage to the Nazi regime. Right at the beginning it said:

„With a strong hand, National Socialism, under God’s guidance, has swept away materialism and Bolshevism, individualism and liberalism, and in general everything un-German and un-Christian from our public life.“

If they stopped reading at this point and refrained from further investigation, they might have seen no reason why the possession of this writing could endanger them. On closer examination, however, they would have come to a very different conclusion. Weiterlesen

A visit to the Wilhelm Reich Archive in Boston in the year 2012

by Andreas Peglau[1]

Before Wilhelm Reich died in the U.S. on Nov. 3, 1957, he had stipulated in his will that his legacy would not be made available to the public until 50 years after his death. In November 2007 the time had come.

As part of my book and dissertation project „Unpolitische Wissenschaft? Wilhelm Reich und die Psychoanalyse im Nationalsozialismus,“ in January 2012 I visited – apparently as the first German-speaking researcher – this archive, located at the Medical School of Boston’s Harvard University.

Medical School, Boston’s Harvard University.


Wilhelm Reich and Willy Brandt as „High Traitors“

by Andreas Peglau[1] 

Announcement of an astonishing find: the psychoanalyst Reich and the later German Chancellor Willy Brandt were jointly targeted by the Nazi People’s Court for high treason in 1939. The role, perhaps decisive for Reich’s survival, of a hitherto unjustly unknown person is also revealed: Martin Mayer. Weiterlesen