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September-October 2011

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The Strange Career of Wilhelm Reich, the Original "Cloudbuster"

Somewhere between weather magic and weather modification lies a strange world of weather conspiracy, manipulation, chancery, and possibly even a bit of misunderstood genius. This aspect of impossible weather involves people who either believe in vast governmental plots involving weather control, or they themselves are using fringe theories and equipment to control the atmospheric elements (often with the government then actively trying to suppress them). And very deep in the archives of such adherents to bizarre weather claims rests the strange case of Wilhelm Reich, the creator of the “cloudbusting” weather gun.

At the very beginning of his career, Wilhelm Reich was a well-respected Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who worked with Sigmund Freud in the 1920s. His early work in psychoanalysis was considered useful and intriguing to psychotherapists, but his later research, involving an extension of an early Freudian concept of biologically generated energy, called libido, was received by scientists with extensive skepticism and hostility. Fundamentally, what Reich did in his latter career was to extend the psychological concept of libido to the discovery of an omni-present energy—a living or biological energy—that he termed “orgone.”

RANDY CERVENY is a contributing editor of Weatherwise and a President's Professor of Geographical Sciences at Arizona State University.

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