Early Scientology / Dianetics - 1950
The first book since Thomas Merton's "The Seven Storey Mountain" to show signs of becoming a runaway best seller is a 452-page work, published May 15 by Hermitage House, that projects a new science of mental health. Called "Dianetics," it is the work of L. (for Lafayette) Ron Hubbard, a 39-year-old civil engineer, radio and film writer, veteran of the armed services, and successful author of scientific fiction.
According to Hubbard, memory is not a faculty of the mind alone, but of the entire cellular system. The conscious mind he compares with a scientific brain, invariably giving the correct answer if accurate data is fed to it. But like a scientific machine being short-circuited, it is distorted by shocks, violent or painful experiences, and restored to order by "auditing," the dianetic equivalent of the psychoanalytic session.
Reviews were generally unfavorable, although most reviewers avoided the author's provocative claims and challenges ("a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire"). Sales in the first two weeks were about 3,000 copies.
In June "Dianetics" began to sell in California. In July it sold 13,000 copies on the West Coast. Meanwhile dianetic auditing groups appeared throughout the country; there are fourteen in New York City, 500 in the United States. Last month, sales were about 3,000 a week, and the book was climbing steadily on the best-seller lists. Three weeks ago they jumped to 4,000 a week. Total sales to date are 55,000, a Japanese edition has already been translated, French and German editions are being translated now, and a sequel, "Dianetics: What It Means to You," is scheduled for late fall.