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The Odic Force: An Early Scientific Case for “Sensitives”

The Odic Force: An Early Scientific Case for “Sensitives” 1

The belief that a mysterious “life force” exists within all living beings has been a persistent motif in cultures throughout the world. Eastern energy workers have referred to this as “Chi,” whereas the late Wilhelm Reich supposed in the 1930s that such an anti-entropic energy existed in boundless quantities throughout our universe, which he called “Orgone.”

With the broad spectrum of subjects and phenomena linked to the strange and occult interests held by the Nazis, it becomes easy for the earlier offerings of esoteric thinkers in German history to become somewhat overshadowed. One famous practitioner of the sciences, Baron Carl von Reichenbach, had not only claimed to have tapped into interests surrounding a strange multi-force similar to Reich’s Orgone hypothesis, but also felt that there was a strong case to be made regarding his studies and their connection with what he called “sensitives,” or people whose senses seemed more greatly pronounced than the average person.

Reichenbach’s “Sensitives”

As Reichenbach’s views toward sensitives in our midst began to take shape in his mind, he first presumed that environmental electromagnetism could influence some people’s perception of phenomenon occurring nearby; an idea which, in truth, is not so far removed from modern studies that link electrical fields with allergies suffered by hyper-sensitives. By 1845, this would lead him to the formation of a new hypothesis: that there was a singular sort of “bio-field” produced by all plants, animals, and of course, human beings, which he called the Odic Force, so named for the famous Norse ruler of Asgard. A 1918 book on ocular research written by Peter Johannes Thiel, titled The Diagnosis Of Disease By Observation Of The Eye To Enable Physicians, Healers, Teachers, Parents to Read the Eyes, even alleged that this “Odic force” could be seen by some people with the naked eye, once they had allowed several hours of acclamation in total darkness.

As a brief aside, this description of manifested illumination in total darkness, apparently emanating from individual beings, brings to mind an ongoing study I observed during a visit to the Rhine Institute, in Durham, North Carolina. The study involved inexplicable photonic discharges (light energy, in essence) observed being released from individuals in a completely darkened environment. The energetic emissions were observed utilizing a highly photosensitive device, which recorded the apparent abilities of certain individuals who were able to increase the light energy their bodies produced using a computer interphase and monitored remotely. Some of the individuals were capable of producing such an incredible amount of photonic “discharge” that researchers conducting the study postulated whether such an individual might appear to faintly “glow” in complete darkness, given the proper circumstances.

Returning to the work of von Reichenbach, the German scientist believed that his “Odic force” was somehow tied to electromagnetic energies that living bodies were capable of producing, rather than spiritual energies like Chi and other forces believed by some to manifest at the command of spiritually trained and affluent mystic practitioners. Reichenbach nonetheless believed that one could learn to control the manifestation of this Odic force, and that there may even be scientific applications for future technologies that would implement a more complete understanding of this emerging science.

But perhaps one of the more significant ideas appended to Reichenbach’s Odic force had been the notion that this energetic potential could have been the physical facility underlying such things as hypnotism. Thus, some factions of the research community in Reichenbach’s day became enthralled with the idea that some of Franz Mesmer’s theories, as well as those of his predecessor, Emanuel Swedenborg, had finally received a kind of physical justification, rather than existing solely within the confines of scientific studies of the mind, and how psychology effects one’s outlook and interpretation of reality.

Reichenbach’s mysterious Odic force would never be fully received by the scientific community, due mostly to the fact that the scientist’s findings almost inevitably would rely on the perceptions of those individuals Reichenbach called “sensitives.” In experimentation that becomes reminiscent of John Dee’s observations of his mystic partner Edward Kelley, Reichenbach would utilize his sensitives in a darkened environment, as described earlier, where they would thus be expected to perceive the subtle Odic force utilizing their vision alone.

Today, modern science has yet to confirm whether any such subtle energies do really exist; but as discussed in the earlier ongoing study at Durham’s Rhine facilities, it is compelling to consider whether some people are indeed capable of producing, for instance, strange, anomalous quantities of light energy (photons) in a darkened environment, which subtle scientific instrumentation might be capable of observing and validating. Could there yet be some validity to Reichenbach’s claims of an “Odic force” that emanates from all living things, much as Wilhelm Reich and several others have supposed?


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