Dr. Joseph (Josef) Paul Reich, M.D. was born 1887 June 16 in Breslau, which is in modern-day Poland, but at the time of his birth was within the German Empire. He was raised Jewish, and his parents were Dr. Karl Reich, M.D., General Practitioner for the Geheimer Sanitaetsrat, and Julie Reich nee Henschel. He attended the Koenig-Wilhelms-Gymnasiums zu Breslau for secondary school, eventually studied neurology at the University of Heidelberg, and was licensed to practice medicine in Germany in 1911. Serving in the German Army during World War I, Dr. Reich received an Iron Cross First Class in 1914, two additional awards, and stayed in the armed forces in a medical capacity. After returning from the war, Reich married Anneliese Stella Kohnstamm on 1923 August 9 in Frankfurt am Main.
Anneliese was born on 1900 August 3 in Koenigstein im Taunus and raised Protestant. She had three brothers: Rudolf, Werner, and Peter. Her mother was Eva Pauline Kohnstamm nee Gad; her father was the famous internal medicine doctor Oskar Felix Kohnstamm, M.D., a specialist in neurology and psychiatry who founded the Sanatorium Dr. Kohnstamm in Koenigstein im Taunus. Anneliese's grandfather on her mother's side was Dr. Prof. Gad, who had taught Dr. Kohnstamm while he was at university.
On 1924 August 4, Dr. and Mrs. Reich had their first and only child, Hanna Grete Reich. Because of his Jewish ancestry, Dr. Reich first left Germany for America as an immigrant on 1935 December 30, and completed an American medical residency at the Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. He began the process of applying for American citizenship and becoming certified to practice medicine in Chicago. In 1937, Anneliese and Hanna Reich joined him. By 1939, Dr. Reich was already published in American medical journals, studying some of the same topics that his father-in-law Dr. Kohnstamm had, such as psychoanalytic self-observation. The Reich family stayed in the United States, and eventually Hanna married a fellow German Jewish refugee in America, Gerald Oswald Hayman.