Reich argued that deficits or constrictions in bodily orgone were at the root of many diseases, most prominently cancer, 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 energy accumulators”—devices ostensibly collecting orgone energy from the environment—to enable the study of orgone energy and to be applied medically to improve general health and vitality. Ultimately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) obtained a federal injunction barring the interstate distribution of orgone-related materials, on the grounds that Reich and his associates were making false and misleading claims. A judge later ruled to jail Reich and ordered the banning and destruction of all orgone-related materials at the institute after an associate of Reich violated the injunction. Reich denied the assertion that orgone accumulators could improve sexual health by providing orgastic potency.
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 concluded with the end of the Institute. Founded in 1982, the Institute for Orgonomic Science in New York is dedicated to the continuation of Reich’s work; it both publishes a digital journal on it and collect corresponding work.