The Emotional Plague

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Dr Wilhelm Reich was a cofounder of the Psychoanalytic Movement with Freud and Jung.

His theories were so controversial that he has been virtually eradicated from Western culture.

Below is my short essay on the EP, or Emotional Plague, which is a term coined by Dr Wilhelm Reich in the 1930's to describe fascism and human emotional illness. Eventually, he used the term to describe simple 'mass reactions' in groups, and persistent functional problems in all human interactions.

Got the plague?

What can one person do to save humanity? Six billion will become ten billion, and Time Warner will oversee the poverty and immolation with a steady, placid, disinterested gaze. Civil rights come and go at the whim of corporate DJs (politicians) who decide which groups are expendable and which are profitable, which marked for social ascendancy and which earmarked for extinction.

Personal responsibility succumbs to nihilistic self-interest, a chaos-theory of the human heart, and only the very rich can afford to be altruistic.

Beyond Orwell or Huxley, this is our future and we are in and of it. Strategies must be learned to cope with, survive, and eventually overcome this plague which rises from human greed.

This is the EMOTIONAL PLAGUE that Dr Wilhelm Reich spoke of warningly in the 1930's, the same plague that swept across Europe and became the scourge that we called fascism or nazism.

It was hoped that the 20th century  had taught us sufficient lessons related to human freedoms and principles of equality. It was obvious, long before the end of the 20th century, that it had not taught us enough.

How do we fight the EMOTIONAL PLAGUE? What is it, how can we know when someone has it, and what are the strategies and treatments to eradicate it or at least to manage it?


What is the EP?

The Emotional Plague (EP) is a disease that has its roots in the fear and hatred that is passed from generation to generation in closed social systems. It is emotive in nature but has enormous physiological ramifications.

It is communicable through propaganda and hate-speak, and is propagated readily in a climate of poverty and fear. Its salient features are bigotry, militarism, patriotism, rigid religious dogma, the oppression of women, control of news media, repression of individuality, banality and mediocrity in the arts, government seizure of private property, unreasonable drug laws, the oppression of the very young and the rejection of the very old, hostility towards self-expression in any form, and the 'purification' of racial types by restrictions on interpersonal relationships. These are the most obvious features of a Plague-ridden society or individual.

As in most contagious diseases, quarantine is the first prescription, followed by strong prophylactic measures to prevent its spread. 'Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas' is a reasonably accurate rendering of how one contracts the EP, and being around healthy, free, loving, life-affirming human beings of all kinds and types and ages seems to be the best and only cure.


Who has the EP?

The EP can exist in anyone, but flourishes in a climate of ignorance and fear.

Need for the basics of existence (food, clothing, shelter) can exacerbate the spread of this disease.

So, when people live in ignorance and poverty, they are easily manipulated by governments or persons of influence into deep hatred of other oppressed groups. In the case of individual infection, a person may be a carrier and be unaware of the disease state.

A person probably has the plague if:

1 They are observed avoiding certain 'groups' of people, while favoring interaction with a group to which they claim exclusive membership

2 They use 'descriptive' nouns to describe ethnically, philosophically, physically, or psychologically diverse groups of people. These nouns are usually profane and derogatory

3 They are repressed and repressive, and insecure in their expression of love

4 They will usually believe in someone's innate superiority over someone else

5 A belief in the inferiority of women always indicates a plague-ridden individual

6 All 'isms' are related to the same malady. They are all rooted in the deep fear of love (which is at the root of a healthy life)


Strategies, Treatments for the EP

1 'Wear your white coat', meaning; remember that, as disgusting, demoralizing, and socially destructive a person is, they have an illness. If you learn to diagnose the EP as an illness, it helps you to gain distance and maintain some small degree of objectivity while dealing with it. This person or group has an emotional disease which is as virulent and life-negative as Anthrax. Treat it with respect and care. It can only be fought with KNOWLEDGE and LOVE. If this treatment does not work and you are getting the plague yourself:

2 GET AWAY. Choose your battles, and choose your 'patients'. This is not to be dismissive of their core humanity, just to remind yourself that a person with the EP is DANGEROUS and can be violent.

3 You can not change the world or you would have done it long ago, perhaps not to everyone else's liking. Remember that you get the EP on a fairly regular basis, that you can even get a mild case from watching 'bad media' or reading biased literature, listening to life-negative music or seeing violent images in a book. It's like air-pollution; no one is totally free of it.


It's advisable to

1 Maintain a VIGIL to avoid serious infection. If someone in your life seems to always make you feel bad, they probably do not belong in your life.

2 Stand up for CORE HUMAN VALUES when it is appropriate. Judge your safety; try to protect it. But remember too; sometimes social change is risky. The rights of other humans include your own freedoms. That is worth fighting for. It may, at times, be worth risking your life for.

3 As long as people live in slavery, no one is truly free. This sounds trite in an age of cell-phones and Palm-Pilots. It is not. Digital media will not save us from spiritual poverty. The freedom of people comes before any other consideration. It is the only way to heal the planet, as its wounds have been caused by centuries of abuse by EP-ridden individuals.

4 When you get the plague, QUARANTINE yourself. 'Alone-time' is the best way for a basically healthy person to 'get over' a bout of the plague.

5 Form SUPPORT NETWORKS. So that when you are attacked and wounded by the EP you can call for help and consolation. DO NOT carry the plague into your network. This is easy to do. Your network should not reject you, as it is suffering the same attacks. If it rejects you, it is plague-ridden and needs healing.

6 DO NOT use substances (drugs, alcohol, tobacco) to make the EP less painful. We all have a right to live, unharassed, unfettered and free. The substances just drain the life-energy and create depression.


The fight against the EP will not be won in your lifetime; that does not absolve you of your responsibility to fight it when possible, or to heal from it eventually. Together, we can heal each other.

The 'EP' or Emotional Plague is written about at great length in several of Dr Wilhelm Reich's many books. Some of his more important works are:

1 The Function of the Orgasm

2 The Cancer Biopathy

3 The Murder of Christ

4 People in Trouble

5 Cosmic Superimposition


Dr Reich was a cofounder of the Psychoanalytic Movement with Drs Freud and Jung. His theories were so controversial that he has been virtually eradicated from Western culture.

His books were burned during the McCarthy era, and he died in an American prison for selling his invention (the 'Orgone Accumulator') across state lines. He was a clear-cut victim of a disease that he wrote so eloquently about and fought against tirelessly and effectively; the 'emotional plague of mankind'.

For additional information about Dr Reich, visit  www.wilhelmreich.comitem or go to item for info about the science that he pioneered, orgonomy.



It certainly has occurred to me that WR, like anyone else, probably had lots of faults. In fact, some biographers paint him as paranoid and delusional. While it is true that he believed that the US government was out to get him, he was hauled off to jail, his books burned in the US, and his inventions banned from use until recently. His books are now available here, thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (many thanks to Dena Mattausch)

He remains well-known and respected in Europe.