An „unfulfillable demand“ on the „lawgiver of philosophizing“. The first public worldview debate of the psychoanalysts

by Andreas Peglau


In 1983 Helmut Dahmer reported in the journal Psyche on publications that took a stand on the identity of psychoanalysis in the late 1920s, early 1930s. Key points were, on the one hand, Wilhelm Reich’s pleas for a rapprochement of psychoanalysis and Marxism, on the other hand, the emphasis on the scientific-objective, therefore „non-political“ character of analysis as well as the distancing from „leftist“ psychoanalysis interpretation and Bolshevism.
Dahmer also pointed out that something comparable had already occurred „on the eve of World War I,“ „in the form of a discussion of the relationship between psychoanalysis and ‚philosophy'“ (Dahmer 1983, p. 1133). This earlier controversy is also worthy of consideration. Weiterlesen

100 years of „Urszene“ („Primal scene“). Notes on a controversial term

by Andreas Peglau[1]


Psychoanalytic rubble heaps

Johannes Cremerius (1995, p. 47) assess that psychoanalysis only has a future if it undergoes „tidying up“ in concept formation instead of continuing to stumble along „rubble heaps of arbitrary, ambiguous terms or that are understandable only to the initiated.“ Even „in the center of psychoanalytic theorizing“ one encounters „generalizing ideas,“ „private philosophies,“ which have never been clarified and passed on without reflection (see also here).
I share this view. Weiterlesen

Did the German Democratic Republic (GDR) produce more „right-wing“ attitudes than the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)? No – quite the opposite.

by Andreas Peglau[1]  


In 1992, two years after the GDR’s annexation to the FRG, a social science study came to the following conclusion: the „proportion of East Germans expressing anti-Semitic, right-wing extremist or xenophobic views“ was „lower than the corresponding proportion of West Germans. German citizens in the East take the consequences of the Nazi past for the present more seriously.“ Weiterlesen

Was „Sex-pol“ a movement?

by Andreas Peglau[1]

For a better understanding of the following text, it is recommended to read first The Unified Associations for Proletarian Sexual Reform and Maternity Protection and Wilhelm Reich’s real role in the German „Sex-pol“.


Even before Reich moved from Norwegian exile to the U.S. in 1939, the final failure of what Reich had called the „Sex-Pol movement“ had occurred. The reasons for this were, on the one hand, harassment by the Norwegian authorities and defamation by various media and academics in the country. In addition, there were internal conflicts within the Norwegian sex-pol group and some elitist ideas of Reich. For example, he wanted only those who had been trained by him in character analysis to be considered „core troops“ of the movement. Already when Reich planned the work program for the following year in the summer of 1937, the „Sex-Pol“ was no longer mentioned.

But does what was disintegrating there really deserve the title „movement“? Weiterlesen

„Im Auftrag der Firma.“ Book essay

by Andreas Peglau[1]

Im Auftrag der Firma Cover Band 1



Im Auftrag der Firma. Geschichte und Folgen einer unerwarteten Liaison zwischen Psychoanalyse und militärisch-nachrichtendienstlichen Netzwerken der USA seit 1940 (On behalf of the company. History and consequences of an unexpected liaison between psychoanalysis and military-intelligence networks of the USA since 1940) by Knuth Müller.

Psychosozial-Verlag Gießen 2017, 2 volumes, together 1,157 pages. With a foreword by Klaus-Jürgen Bruder. € 99.


Unpolitical psychoanalysis?

The psychoanalyst Felix Schottlaender wrote in 1931: „Psychoanalysis is of course ‚apolitical‘. It […] is […] a natural-scientific discipline which, by its very object of research, can enter into the great social questions only as an impartial authority serving the truth.“[2]

Thus Schottlaender was in line with Sigmund Freud who increasingly wanted to see the doctrine he founded as an objective „research method, an instrument without partiality“[3]. „Psychoanalysis is also a natural science. What else should it be?“ asked Freud shortly before his death.[4]

After all, he never wanted his creation to be reduced to a mere treatment technique.
But this is exactly where the journey was headed. Weiterlesen

Wilhelm Reichs „Kinder der Zukunft“. Book review

by Andreas Peglau


In December 1929, Reich and Freud exchanged blows at one of the discussion evenings organized by the latter in Vienna. The central point was Reich’s conviction that prophylaxis of sexual and neurotic disorders was as necessary as it was possible – a view that Freud had also held, but in earlierer times. Now, however, Freud vehemently opposed Reich’s theses, qualifying them as allegedly „completely unpsychological.“

Children of the Future can be read as a balance sheet of what Reich opposed to Freud in his remaining life span in research and practical activity. Weiterlesen

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