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The Mass Psychology of Fascism

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  815 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
In this classic study, Reich provides insight into the phenomenon of fascism, which continues to ravage the international community in ways great and small.

Drawing on his medical expereinces with men and women of various classes, races, nations, and religious beliefs, Reich refutes the still generally held notion that fascism is a specific characteristic of certain nationa
Paperback, Third Edition, 432 pages
Published November 1st 1980 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1933)
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Vikas Lather
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A wonderful book. Through his Freudian-Marxist anlaysis, Reich shows how the sadistic character of race ideology is an extreme expression of patriarchal and opressive family structure. As he puts it, 'fascist mentality is the mentality of the subjugated "little man" who craves authority and rebels against it at the same time'.
Oct 26, 2007 rated it liked it
I often wonder if I am a fascist, and I know people who for sure hate Fascism to their very bone, yet I believe that they are fascists in their heart. In fact I wonder if Fascism is somewhat in our DNA. I often think the family trait, the love of animals, and a sense of order is somehow tied in to Fascism. And especially with the family we feel with other living beings. The need to belong to some social group. Isn't it better to join than be apart? Isn't our very sexual need is to be with someon ...more
Stuart Bramhall
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
With the recent rise of the New Right (viz the Tea Bag and Patriot movement), Wilhelm Reich proves himself as much of a prophet of Marx. Writing in 1933, during the rise of Hitler, he predicts the failure of the Left to engage the working class - without a total transformation in their organizing strategy. He also predicts the steady creep of western democracy towards greater and greater authoritarianism - accompanied by a steady increase in the passive, non-voting majority of the population.

Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very interesting read, especially bearing in mind that it was written in the middle of WW2 when Fascism was not just still a strong political force across Europe but a real threat. While I'm not sure I buy (or even fully understand) his theories of sex economics (the orgasmotrom and orgone theories - and its related accumulator don't appear in this book particularly), his analysis of not only the rise of fascism, but authoritarian regimes in general are fascinating: he pays particular attention ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read some Reich since I first read about him in Kerouac and Burroughs and Robert Anton Wilson. He was as weird as I expected. He made me think about some things in totally new ways which was fun. Sometimes it felt outdated and dry or just too nutty (cosmic orgone, etc). So I alternated between 5 stars and 2 stars. I liked the idea of fascism being made possible because of the psychological sickness of the masses. Irrationality, sexual repression, a patriarchal society, and mysticism ...more
Eric Phetteplace
good for the synthesis of Marx and Freud, a simpler predecessor to Deleuze & Guattari. bad for the rampant assumptions: 1) sexual repression during childhood is the root of all evils 2) people are innately good 3) there is an objective rationality which is evident to all once their illusions are stripped away. None of these are sufficiently defended, and Reich makes the typical mistake of overestimating the importance of his own discoveries.
Paula Kirman
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very deep analysis of what leads the average person to fascism. He links a lot of his theory to his "sex-economy" beliefs so it helped that I have already read a couple of this books on that topic. This was first written in 1932 just as Nazism was rising, and much of it still holds up well.
Arthur Maurer
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly important, but seemingly forgotten book--and one that is of pressing importance to a world in which what Reich would term "political irrationalism" is again getting out of hand, particularly with the rise of Trump in the U.S. and the far-right in Europe. To begin with, Reich starts with the premise that Fascism is not limited to one specific place or time in history, i.e. to Italy or Germany in the 20th century's first half; rather it is a natural though hideous outgrowth of the ir ...more
Esteban del Mal
Fascism through a Freudian and Marxist lens.
Amai Freeman
Dec 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very ambitious and far-reaching read. Reich does a great job of presenting very hard hitting criticisms of Fascist ideology and culture as well as Leninist Vanguardism. He synthesizes Freudian Psychology and Marxism in a very refreshing and honest way.

Some of his analyses unfortunately can be repetitive to the point exhaustion and at other times he presents his conclusions as complete and holistic when they actually focus too narrowly on a particular dimension of social life.

Much of the work i
Simon Grymonprez
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Impressive and important.

However, I fully agree with Martin Kitchen's assessment in "Fascism"(1976):
'an extraordinary book which combines brilliant insight with passages of pure nonsense".

Reich raises a few important questions, ("why did the Social Revolution of 1917 fail?""why is the worker not conscious of his condition?""is freedom for the mass really impossible?" etc.) but sometimes his answers are too deterministic and way too narrow.

Also, it would be extremely interesting to read an analy
Adrian Colesberry
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
There's a great scene in this book where he describes how the parents of a teenage girl who had been raised agnostic one day found their child praying fervently. After some investigation, they discovered that she'd started masturbating, had felt super-guilty and so fell to praying despite the fact that she hadn't been brought up in any faith. This reminded me of my own hyper-religious period that started after puberty and continued until I was 20 or so.
There are many terrific insights in this p
Nov 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
great look at what it takes to make a fascist state, how the people behave individually as well as as a whole, what pieces need to be in place and how a government or society can cultivate certain elements to insure that the populace goes along with whatever the plan might be, it also eerily familiar.
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
An essential read for understanding the rise of fascism in our own times. Chilling and accurate. Uncomfortable and important.
Tara May
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Frightening. Definitely a reference book to inspire fascists.
Gerad Ryan
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Remains one of the best works on fascism ever written. Read this in my late teens and it permanently changed my sociopolitical outlook from that point forward
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Written in Germany in 1933 after Hitler’s rise to power, this book is still very relevant today, so much so that many passages could easily describe our current political climate in the US. That said, this book was written in 1933 Germany for people living in 1933 Germany, and there were many passages where I did not feel as though I had the historical background to fully understand Dr. Reich’s ideas. The translation I had was completed in 1970, yet only had a few footnotes. This book could real ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it
A classic work of political philosophy, for those with hardcore interest in the subject.

I really wish we could give half stars, because this is a bit better than a three, but not quite a four, if only because Freudian theories of anything are woefully oversimplified. Then again, we humans ARE awfully fucked up about sex (pun intended), and there's a lot of merit here to Reich's main argument: if we weren't so gorram uptight about our drives and desires, manipulative leaders wouldn't be able to u
Adam Clough
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book gave great insight into the current events in the culture wars. I now have a clear understanding of The social engineering of the Liberal regime hiding behind "Love". Because as a true hippie I choose not too judge others personally for their ideas, but I do believe those Ideas should have a rational grounding. But in turn I do not feel I should be condemned for not agreeing. After a recent Fallout with someone I thought was my Best-friend I read this to realize he was socially enginee ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology, politics
The 17 page preface to the third edition, written in 1942, is all you really need to read. It says it all in a succinct manner. The rest of the book is unnecessarily detailed and diffuse.

At this time in our history, I definitely recommend reading that preface because the mass psychology of fascism is all around us right now....
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, and insightful book. I don't agree with all his premises. but, still a really fascinating read. Especially, in tight of today
S.E. Ellis
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Definitely a book to read in these current times...

"Big truck, small penis" ;)
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
applicable to the 21st century
However with an American Technocratic Twist
Big Brother knows you like family--
Jon Tokarz
May 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reich was a family physician in Germany leading up to and during Hitler's reign of power and this book discusses the patterns and changes in attitude and psychological complaints of his patients as the people transitioned to a Nazi-controlled government. Great for anyone who has wondered if they would have went along with the extremes of Nazism during that time and in that situation or if they would have thought differently.

In response to the reviews discussing the title and not the book itself
Apr 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mental-illness
First written in Germany in 1932 as Hitler was coming to power, then revised in the US in 1944, this is a classic study of the characteristics of fascist movement. Reich, a former Marxist from the Frankfurt School, emphasizes that fascism is not unique to Germany or Japan or Italy, but is instead "the basic emotional attitude of the suppressed man of our authoritarian machine civilization and its mechanistic-mystical conception of life."

In other words it's not enough to blame Hitler or the Nazis

Some reasons why you should read this:

-Reich is one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry
-many of the ideas here were reprised by current humanities champions Foucault and Deleuze.
-banned by the Nazis and the US
-but mainly to to try to understand why many (including myself) think that Reich was right when he said: It is the mechanistic-mystical character of modern man that produces fascist parties, and not vice versa.

There are some negatives though. It has a complete ignorance
Roni Rengel
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O „masovnoj psihologiji“ moguće je naći razne članke i recenzije koje upućuju na modernost i aktualnost građe djela, te u kojima se određeni aspekti izvlače kako bi se opisalo situaciju u vlastitom okruženju, a koja eventualno podsjeća na neke momente nastupanja nacional-socijalista u Njemačkoj prije dolaska na vlast 1933. Da situacija danas nije takva da možemo govoriti o sličnim, ponegdje i istim načinima upliva ideologije i ideologijskom strukturiranju masa, djelo bi vjerojatno bilo zaboravlj ...more
Dec 07, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm basically in agreement with his ideas about the individual allure of fascism, though his linking of sexual repression with fascism is a little too Oedipal (i.e. "the mother land" speaking directly to little boys love for their actual mothers). Reich's writing is also very long-winded and seems to go on and on just to make the same point over again (and he's unfortunately short with parts I found interesting, such as the proposition that a swastika is a sexual symbol (actually, it's a frustra ...more
Scott Forbes
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You need to read this book if you ever wondered why Hitler was so popular and why the other Germans allowed him to persecute innocent people. I'd also recommend _Games_People_Play_ by Eric Berne.

This book explores fascism completely, from the therapeutic perspective. So it is more concerned with what happens to people mentally, apart from the politics and the sociology. The interesting thing I thought about was how possible fascism is due to the psychic fact that it underlies a lot of other fact
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
I wasn't sure what I was going to be reading when I opened this. Once I started, i realized that it would have helped to read some of his work before this since he talks more extensively about what he calls orgone. That aside, a curious look at the psychology of fascism. I agreed with a lot of what he had to say but it felt like he was walking this tightrope of blaming the masses for the rise of fascism yet recognizing that fascism is all that could rise out of the environment it came from. Ther ...more
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Jewish Austrian-American psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

Reich was a respected analyst for much of his life, focusing on character structure, rather than on individual neurotic symptoms. He promoted adolescent sexuality, the availability of contraceptives and abortion, and the importance for women of economic independence. Synthesizing material from psychoanalysis, cultural anthropology, economics,
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“Even more essential, however, is the identification of the individuals in the masses with the "führer." The more helpless the "mass-individual" has become, owing to his upbringing, the more pronounced is his identification with the führer, and the more the childish need for protection is disguised in the form of a feeling at one with the führer. This inclination to identify is the psychological basis of national narcissism, i.e., of the self-confidence that individual man derives from the "greatness of the nation." The reactionary lower middle-class man perceives himself in the führer, in the authoritarian state. On the basis of this identification he feels himself to be a defender of the "national heritage," of the "nation," which does not prevent him, likewise on the basis of this identification, from simultaneously despising "the masses" and confronting them as an individual. The wretchedness of his material and sexual situation is so overshadowed by the exalting idea of belonging to a master race and having a brilliant führer that, as time goes on, he ceases to realize how completely he has sunk to a position of insignificant, blind allegiance.

The worker who is conscious of his skills—he, in short, who has rid himself of his submissive structure, who identifies with his work and not with the führer, with the international working masses and not with the national homeland—represents the opposite of this. He feels himself to be a leader, not on the basis of his identification with the führer, but on the basis of his consciousness of performing work that is vitally necessary for society's existence.”
“It was one of the greatest errors in evaluating dictatorship to say that the dictator forces himself on society against its own will. In reality, every dictator in history was nothing but the accentuation of already existing state ideas which he had only to exaggerate in order to gain power” 3 likes
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