Orgone energy was hypothetical life force that was first developed by Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) during the 1930s. Reich belongs to the second generation of psychoanalysts, following in the footsteps of Sigmund Freud. Starting in the 1930s, Reich became a controversial figure in science, promoting sexual theories and permissiveness that were often at odds with society.
Based on Freud's concepts of the libido, Reich believed that the libido was a life-affirming force repressed by society. Immigrating to the United States shortly after the rise of Hitler, Reich produced his best-known work, The Function of the Orgasm, where he first developed the concept of the orgone.
From the start, Reich's views on sexuality shocked the American public. The orgone was a omnipresent force that was closely related to a type of living energy. Reich believed that deficiencies in orgone energy lay at the heart of many human diseases. While in the United States, Reich founded the Orgone Institute to further study orgone energy, although he was later stopped by the Food and Drug Administration and jailed over what were classified as false and misleading claims regarding the healing property of something that could be proved to exist.
American society soon denounced Reich and his followers as a cult of sex and he was later investigated for possible ties to communism. Reich's Orgone Institute closed with the researcher's death.