Orgone (/ˈɒrɡoʊn/) is a spiritual concept variously described as an esoteric energy or hypothetical universal life force. Originally proposed in the 1930s by Wilhelm Reich,and developed by Reich’s student Charles Kelley after Reich’s death in 1957, orgone was conceived as the anti-entropic principle of the universe, a creative substratum in all of nature comparable to Mesmer’s animal magnetism (1779), to the Odic force (1845) of Carl Reichenbach and to Henri Bergson’s élan vital (1907).Orgone was seen as a massless, omnipresent substance, similar to luminiferous aether, but more closely associated with living energy than with inert matter. It could allegedly coalesce to create organization on all scales, from the smallest microscopic units—called “bions” in orgone theory—to macroscopic structures like organisms, clouds, or even galaxies.
Reich argued that deficits or constrictions in bodily orgone were at the root of many diseases, much as deficits or constrictions in the libido could produce neuroses in Freudian theory. Reich founded the Orgone Institute ca. 1942 to pursue research into orgone energy after he immigrated to the US in 1939, and used it to publish literature and distribute material relating to the topic for more than a decade. Reich designed special “orgone accumulators”—devices ostensibly collecting and storing orgone energy from the environment—for improvement of general health or even for weather control.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health lists orgone as a type of “putative energy”. After Reich’s death, research into the concept of orgone passed to some of his students such as Kelley and later to a new generation of scientists in Germany keen to discover an empirical basis for the orgone hypothesis, (the first positive results of which were provided in 1989 by Stefan Muschenich). There is no empirical support for the concept of orgone in medicine or the physical sciences, and research into the concept ceased with the end of the Institute.