From "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science" by Martin Gardner. Copyright 1952, 1957.
Dianetics (from a Greek word meaning "thought") is a new science of the
mind discovered by Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, a popular writer of science
fiction. According to the opening sentences of his first book on the
subject, "The Creation of dianetics is a milestone for Man comparable to
the discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and
the arch.... The hidden source of all psychosomatic ills and human
aberration has been discovered and skills have been developed for their
That word "invariable" is not a typographical mistake. "Dianetics is an
exact science," Hubbard writes, "and its application is on the order of,
but simpler than, engineering. Its axioms should not be confused with
theories since they demonstrably exist as natural laws hitherto
undiscovered." Dianetic therapy operates with a mathematical precision.
It never fails. These are claims worth looking into, but before
surveying the basic tenets of dianetics, let us first glance at the
fabulous rise of the movement.
The founder, L. Ron Hubbard, is a large good-looking man with flaming
red hair and a tremendous energy drive that keeps him in a constant
state of high gear. Friends vary widely in estimates of what makes
Ronald run. To some he is an earnest, honest, sincere guy. To others
he is the greatest con man of the century. Still others regard him as
basically sincere, with just a touch of the charlatan, and now a tragic
victim of his own psychoses.
Hubbard was born in 1911 at Tilden, Nebraska. Exact details about the
rest of his life are hard to come by. He seems to have been in the
Marines when a young man. For a few years in the early thirties, he
attended the George Washington University Engineering School, in the
nation's capitol, but did not graduate. He never held an engineering
job, but evidently this schooling gave him the engineer's outlook that
underlies so much of dianetics. For the past twenty years, he has been
an enormously prolific writer of pulp fiction, with occasional stints at
radio and movie scripting. He holds a glider pilot's license. He is an
expert small-boats mariner. For a while, he sang and played the banjo
on a radio program in California (he has a deep, rich voice). He
considers himself an explorer, having made numerous jaunts around the
globe, including a sojourn in Asia where he studied mysticism. During
the war, he was a naval officer on destroyer escort duty, and was
severely wounded in action.
According to Hubbard, it was in 1938 that he first discovered the basic
axioms of dianetics and began his twelve years of research. Many of his
friends insist, however, that these twelve research years are entirely
mythical, and that it was not until 1948 that dianetics was hatched. At
any rate, one of his earliest patients was John Campbell, Jr., editor of
Astounding Science Fiction. Campbell was suffering, among other things,
from chronic sinusitis. His treatment so impressed him, that in May
1950, he published in his pulp magazine the first public report on
dianetics. It was an article by Hubbard, written in a few hours, and in
a style resembling the broadcast of a football game. The article
apparently aroused science fiction fans to such a pitch of anticipation
that when Hubbard's book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental
Healing was published a few weeks later by Hermitage House, they grabbed
the first copies they could lay their hands on.
Dianetics is a book of impressive thickness, written in a repetitious,
immature style. Hubbard claims he wrote it in three weeks. This is
believable because most of his writing is done at lightning speed. (For
a while, he used a special electric IBM typewriter with extra keys for
common words like "and," "the," and "but." The paper was on a roll to
avoid the interruption of changing sheets.) Nothing in the book
remotely resembles a scientific report. The case histories are written
largely out of Hubbard's memory and imagination. Like the later works
of Wilhelm Reich, his book is simply a Revelation from the Master, to be
tested and confirmed by lesser men. It is dedicated, curiously, to Will
Durant. An appendix on "The Scientific Method," is signed John W.
Campbell, Jr., nuclear physicist. (Campbell attended the Massachusetts
institute of Technology for three years, then transferred to Duke
University where he was graduated. For a short time he worked in the
laboratory of Mack Trucks, Inc., New Brunswick, N. J.)
The book was a tremendous success. Early purchasers were
science-fiction fans, but it was not long until the volume launched a
nation wide cult of incredible proportions. Dianetics became a fad of
the movie colony. It struck the colleges. Students held "dianetic
parties" at which they tried the new therapy on each other. At Williams
College, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, a distinguished professor of
political science, Frederick L. Schuman, was drawn into the movement.
He visited Hubbard, lectured on Dianetics in Boston, wrote indignant
letters to periodicals that reviewed Hubbard's book unfavorably (See the
New Republic, September 11, (1) and New York Times Book Review, August
6, 1950), and even contributed an enthusiastic article on the subject to
Better homes and Gardens, April, 1951.
(1) Prof. Schuman opens this letter by quoting oliver Cromwell's "I
beseech ye, in the bowels of Christ, to consider whether ye may not be
mistaken." He goes on to say that the New Republic, by printing such an
irresponsible review, has made itself "the laughing stock of the rapidly
growing throng of people who know what dianetics is all about. Not the
book, but the review, is 'complete nonsense', a 'paranoic system' and a
'fantastic absurdity.' There are no authorities on dianetics save those
who have tested it. All who have done so are in no doubt as to who is
A Dianetic Research Foundation was established at Elizabeth, New Jersey,
with centers in the nation's major cities. Hundreds of practitioners
trained by the foundation put up their shingles in Hollywood, on Park
Avenue, and in the Gold Coast of Chicago. Hubbard flew back and forth
across the continent giving lecture demonstrations. A Dianetic Auditors
Bulletin made its appearance. Later the Foundation expanded and moved
to Wichita, Kansas, where it took the name of the Hubbard Dianetics
Foundation, Inc. For $500 the institution offered thirty-six hours of
training, and for the same fee gave four to six weeks of instruction.
Those who passed the tests became certified dianetic "auditors."
What, precisely, is dianetics?
Briefly, it is the view that all mental aberrations (neuroses,
psychoses, and psychosomatic ills) are caused by "engrams." To make
this clear, however, we must first make a journey through the jungle of
Hubbard's elaborate terminology.
The conscious mind is called by Hubbard the "analytical mind." It
operates like a gigantic computing machine. The working is flawless.
It may, however, direct the body in an aberrated manner if it is fed
false data by the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is termed the
"reactive mind." Actually, it is always conscious-even when a person is
sleeping, or "unconscious" from some other cause. The reactive mind is
incapable of "thinking" or "remembering." It is a moron. But when the
analytical mind becomes unconscious or semi-conscious, in a manner
associated with bodily pain or painful emotion, the reactive mind starts
to make "recordings." These recordings are called "engrams." They are
like phonograph records except that they record, in addition to sounds,
all the perceptions received by the reactive mind while the analytical
mind is "turned off."
Hubbard illustrates this with the following example: "A woman is knocked
down by a blow. She is rendered 'unconscious.' She is kicked and told
that she is a faker, that she is no good, that she is always changing
her mind. A chair is overturned in the process. A faucet is running in
the kitchen. A car is passing on the street outside. The engram
contains a running record of all these perceptions: the voice tones and
emotion in the voice, the sound and feel of the original and later
blows, the tactile of the floor, the feel and sound of the chair
overturning, the organic sensation of the blow, perhaps the taste of
blood in her mouth, or any other taste present there, the smell of the
person attacking her and the smells in the room, the sound of the
passing car's motor and tires, etc."
Engrams, then, are perceptual recordings made when the analytical mind
is turned off in a matter associated with pain or painful emotion.
Unconsciousness because of injury, anesthetics, illness, drugs--even an
alcoholic stupor--are sufficiently "painful" to produce engrams. Since
the reactive mind is an idiot, incapable of evaluating, everything it
experiences goes into the engrams. These engrams are filed away in the
"reactive bank." Hubbard has classified and labeled them in various
ways--such as bouncers, denyers, groupers, holders, and
misdirectors--but we need not go into these distinctions. Nor will we
have space to discuss his "demon circuits"--commanding demons, critical
demons, listen-to-me demons, tell-you-what-to-say demons, and so on. A
glossary of the major Hubbardian terms will be found at the back of
All neuroses, psychoses, and psychosomatic ailments (including the
common cold and possibly diabetes and cancer) are caused by engrams. In
most cases, the trouble-making engrams are recorded before one is born.
This introduces us to Hubbard's most revolutionary concept--the prenatal
In Dianetics, you learn that the embryo is capable of recording engrams
immediately after conception. How these records are made, since the
embryo does not develop sense organs until late in its history, remains
a profound mystery. They take place on a cellular level, involving some
unknown type of change within the protoplasm. According to Hubbard,
life in the womb is far from Paradise. "Mama sneezes, baby gets knocked
'unconscious.' Mama runs lightly and blithely into a table and baby
gets his head stoved in. Mama has constipation and baby, in the anxious
effort, gets squashed. Papa becomes passionate and baby has the
sensation of being put into a running washing machine. Mama gets
hysterical, baby gets an engram. Junior bounces on Mama's lap, baby
gets an engram. And so it goes."
It is also very noisy in the uterus. "Intestinal squeaks and groans,
flowing water, belches, flatulation and other body activities of the
mother produce a continual sound.... When the mother takes quinine a
high ringing noise may come into the foetal ears as well as her own--a
ringing which will carry through a person's whole life." Moreover, the
uterus is very tight in later prenatal life. If Mama has high blood
pressure, "it is extremely horrible in the womb."
In addition to being knocked out by blows, coughs, sneezes, vomiting,
and so on, the poor embryo can also be rendered unconscious by the
violent pressures of the sex act, and --understandably-- by attempted
abortions. Throughout his book, Hubbard reveals a deep seated hatred of
women, but this hatred is most clearly indicated by his obsession with
what dianeticians call "AA"--attempted abortion. When Hubbard's Mamas
are not getting kicked in the stomach by their husbands or having
affairs with lovers, they are preoccupied with AA--usually by means of
knitting needles. "Twenty or thirty abortion attempts are not uncommon
in the aberee," Hubbard writes, "and in every attempt the child could
have been pierced through the body or brain." These experiences
naturally produce the worst engrams because they are usually accompanied
by verbal expressions charged with emotion. Since all these remarks are
recorded literally by the embryo, they create engrams capable of causing
great damage in later life when they are fed as data to the conscious
To cite an example from Hubbard: Papa beats Mama on the stomach,
knocking baby unconscious. At the same time Papa yells, "Take that!
Take it, I tell you. You've got to take it!" Later in life, the
sentences are interpreted literally, and the person becomes a
kleptomaniac or thief. "Oh, this language of ours," Hubbard exclaims
sadly, "which says everything it doesn't mean! Put into the hands of
the moronic reactive mind, what havoc it wreaks! Literal interpretation
Before a prenatal engram can cause damage, however, it must be "keyed
in." This occurs when the person has a painful experience which closely
resembles, in some respect, the dormant engram. Hubbard illustrates
this by citing another mother, struck in the abdomen by her husband.
The husband shouts, "God damn you, you filthy whore: you're no good!"
This engram contains a headache, a falling body, the grating of teeth,
and the mother's intestinal sounds. Several years later, the child is
slapped by the father who says, "God damn you: you're no good!" The
child cries, and that night has a headache. The engram has been "keyed
in." "Now, the sound of a falling body or grating teeth or any trace of
anger of any kind in the father's voice will make the child nervous.
His physical health will suffer. He will begin to have headaches."
Here are a few additional samples from Hubbard of how prenatal engrams
cause later difficulties. A pregnant mother is straining for a bowel
movement. This compresses into painful unconsciousness. The mother
talks to herself and says, "Oh, this is hell. I am all jammed up
inside. I feel so stuffy I can't think. This is too terrible to be
borne." Later in life, the child has frequent colds ("I feel so
stuffy...."). An inferiority complex develops because he feels he is
"too terrible to be born." (Puns of this sort turn up frequently in
dianetic therapy. An auditor reported recently that a psychosomatic
rash on the backside of a lady patient was caused by prenatal recordings
of her mother's frequent requests for aspirin. The literal reactive
mind had been feeding this to her analytical mind in the form of "ass
Another of Hubbard's patients was a morose young man whose attitude
toward life was expressed by Hamlet's famous line, "To be or not to be,
that is the question." Hubbard's therapy revealed that the man's
mother, when pregnant, had been beaten by an actor husband who then
proceeded to recite from Hamlet. And so, Hubbard writes, the young man
"would sit for hours in a morose apathy wondering about life."
Some of the most horrible engrams arise from the fact that a child is
named after his father. If the pregnant mother is committing adultery,
as so many of Hubbard's Mamas do, she is likely to make unkind remarks
about George--meaning her husband. These remarks are recorded, of
course, by the innocent embryo who is being knocked unconscious by the
sex act. If the child is also named George, one can imagine the awful
consequences. Since engrams are taken literally, Junior assumes that
all these remarks are about him! "It is customary," writes Hubbard, "to
shudder, in dianetics, at the thought of taking on a Junior case."
The technique of dianetic therapy--known as auditing--is designed to
"erase" the patient's engrams. The process begins by having the patient
relax on a comfortable chair, or lie on a couch, in a darkened room. He
closes his eyes and keeps them closed throughout the session. The
auditor sits beside him, and by talking to him, places him in a
"dianetic reverie." This is indicated by fluttering eyelids, and is
similar to the early stages of hypnosis. The patient remains in full
possession of his will, however, and after the session (usually two
hours long) will recall everything.
Prompted by the auditor, the patient "goes back" along his "time track,"
returning to early engram forming experiences. As he recounts these
experiences, the engrams slowly lose their evil power. Eventually they
are totally "erased." This means they have been taken from the
"reactive bank" and refiled in the "standard memory bank" where they can
be recalled by the conscious mind.
The auditor tries to send the patient back to his earliest engram, known
as the "basic-basic." The reason for this is that once the BB
(basic-basic) has been erased, later engrams erase more easily. The BB
is usually formed a few weeks after conception, though it may trace back
as far as the zygote (fertilized ovum). Eventually, almost every
patient experiences a "sperm dream," in which he imagines himself
swimming up a channel, or (as the egg) waiting to meet the sperm. At
first, Hubbard thought this dream had little meaning as far as engrams
are concerned, but more recently he has found cases of engrams formed in
the sperm and ovum before fertilization occurs.
While an engram is being "reduced" by recounting, the patient tends to
yawn and stretch. The yawn is regarded as a significant sign of
successful therapy, and must not be misinterpreted as meaning that the
patient is bored or drowsy. Curious aches and pains appear in various
parts of the body, then vanish mysteriously. These are the ghosts of
psychosomatic ills which he will never have again. When the engram is
finally erased, the patient experiences sudden relief and pleasure, and
usually laughs wildly. One patient, Hubbard reports, was so relieved
when an engram was released that he laughed for two days without
stopping. This must also not be misinterpreted. One might wrongly
suppose that the patient was laughing at how preposterous the whole
It takes about twenty hours of auditing to turn an aberrated person into
a "release." A release is a person free of all major neuroses and ills.
According to Hubbard, it "is a state superior to any produced by several
years of psychoanalysis, since the release will not relapse." As the
auditing continues, the release becomes a "pre-clear," and finally a
"clear." The clear is, literally, a superman--an evolutionary step
toward a new species. He is a person completely free of engrams. All
have them have been erased and refiled. He has no neuroses or
psychosomatic ills. "Clears do not get colds," Hubbard informs us. If
he is wounded, the wounds heal faster. His eyesight is better. His I.Q.
is raised markedly. As Hubbard expresses it, "The dianetic clear is to
the current normal individual as the current normal is to the severely
Hubbard points out that the length of time required to "process" a clear
varies widely with the patient, and although he intimates that a few
people have been cleared, exactly who they are is considerably less than
clear. In 1950, speaking to an audience is 6,000 in the Shrine
Auditorium, Los Angeles, Hubbard introduced a coed named Sonya Bianca as
a clear who had attained perfect recall of all "perceptics" (sense
perceptions) for every moment of her past. In the demonstration which
followed, however, she failed to remember a single formula in physics
(the subject in which she was majoring), or the color of Hubbard's tie
when his back was turned, At this point, a large part of the audience
got up and left. Hubbard later produced a neat dianetic explanation for
the fiasco. He had called her from the wings saying, "Will you come out
here now, Sonya?" The "now" got her stuck in the present time. As for
Hubbard himself, he freely admits he is not a clear. He decided, he
says, to devote all his energies to giving dianetics to the world rather
than spend more time having himself processed.
One of the most important branches of dianetics is what Hubbard calls
"preventive dianetics." This consists in exercising great care to
prevent the formation of engrams while a person is unconscious or when
there is a possibility an embryo may become unconscious. It means, for
example, maintaining absolute silence while helping people severely
injured or ill. "Say nothing and make no sound around an 'unconscious'
or injured person," Hubbard writes. "To speak, no matter what is said,
is to threaten his sanity. Say nothing while a person is being operated
upon. Say nothing while there is a street accident. Don't talk!"
Again: "Maintain silence in the presence of birth to save both the
sanity of the mother and the child and safeguard the home to which they
will go. And the maintaining of silence does not mean a volley of
"sh's', for those make stammerers."
A mother, of course, must be exceedingly careful during pregnancy. She
must not talk while having a bowel movement, coughing, sneezing, having
intercourse, being beaten by her husband, or punched in the stomach by a
doctor seeking to determine whether she is pregnant. Nor should anyone
else talk in her presence during these events. "If the husband uses
language during coitus," writes Hubbard, "every word of it is going to
be engramic. If the mother is beaten by him, that beating and
everything he says and that she says will become part of the engram."
By a combination of dianetic therapy and preventive dianetics, the world
may now move forward toward a superior culture. Hubbard closes his book
by picturing two plateaus, one higher than the other, and separated by a
chasm. An engineer builds a bridge across the canyon. People start to
cross over from the lower plateau to the higher. "What sort of opinion
would you have of the society on the lower plateau?" Hubbard asks, "if
they but moaned and wept and argued and gave no hand at all in the
matter of widening the bridge or making new bridges?" The answer is
clear. Dianetics is the first crude bridge, but it must be improved.
Hubbard closes his book with these ringing words: "For God's sake, get
busy and build a better bridge!"
A more revealing picture of the coming dianetic order is given by
Hubbard in a lengthy letter in Astounding Science Fiction, August, 1950.
Since clears are superior persons with higher I.Q.'s, he writes, they
will naturally become the aristocracy of the new culture--a wide gulf
separating them from all others. "...One sees with some sadness that
more than three-quarters of the world's population will become subject
to the remaining quarter as a natural consequence and about which we can
do exactly nothing." Fortunately, Hubbard adds, the clears will be free
from evil motives (Hubbard's conviction being that human nature, without
engrams, is basically good), and this "will inhibit their exploitation
of the less fortunate."
Science of Survival, a new book covering simplified and speedier
processing techniques, was published by Hubbard in 1951. If Dianetics
was written in three weeks, this book, almost as big, appears to have
been written in three days. It introduces dozens of new terms such as
MEST (the initial letters of matter, energy, space, and time), theta
(life energy), entheta, and enMEST--and goes in heavily for metaphysics
A staff-written book, Child Dianetics, for processing children of the
ages five to thirteen, has also appeared, as well as a Handbook for
Pre-Clears, Recent circulars from Hubbard advertise additional works,
all by himself. They include Symbological Processing; What to Audit;
How to Live and Still Be an Executive (guaranteed to eliminate
"management ulcers"); Original Thesis (the first written version of
dianetics--a manuscript Hubbard tried unsuccessfully to sell to numerous
publishers, including Shasta, a Chicago science fiction press); and
The amazing story behind Excalibur was revealed by Arthur J. Cox in the
July, 1952, issue of Science Fiction advertiser, a magazine published by
science fantasy fans in Glendale, California. In 1948, Hubbard told the
California fans that during an operation performed on him for injuries
received while in the Navy, he was actually dead for eight minutes. As
Cox tells it, "Hubbard realized that while he was dead, he had received
a tremendous inspiration, a great Message which he must impart to
others. He sat at his typewriter for six days and nights and nothing
came out--then, Excalibur emerged. Excalibur contains the basic
metaphysical secrets of the universe. He sent it around to some
publishers; they all hastily rejected it....He locked it away in a bank
vault. But then, later, he informed us that he would try publishing a
'diluted' version of it....Dianetics, I was recently told by a friend of
Hubbard's, is based upon one chapter of Excalibur."
On Hubbard's advertising sheets, the blurb for Excalibur is worth
quoting. "Mr. Hubbard wrote this work in 1938. When four of the first
fifteen people who read it went insane, Mr. Hubbard withdrew it and
placed it in a vault where it remained until now. Copies to selected
readers only and then on signature. Released only on sworn statement
not to permit other readers to read it. Contains data not to be
released during Mr. Hubbard's stay on earth. The complete fast formula
of clearing. The secret not even Dianetics disclosed. Facsimile of
original, individually typed for manuscript buyer. Gold bound and
locked. Signed by author. Very limited. Per copy...$1,500.00."
Another recent Hubbard work, called Self Analysis (published in 1951 by
the International Library of Arts and Sciences, whatever that is),
carries even further Hubbard's intrepid attempts to produce parodies of
his original ideas. This book enables the reader to give himself a
"light processing." The author's claims, as usual, are quite modest.
"Self analysis cannot revive the dead," he says in his opening sentence.
"Self analysis will not empty insane asylums or stop wars. These are
the tasks of the dianetic auditor and the group dianetic technician."
The book is written only for stable readers who want to improve their
health, happiness and efficiency. If you are stable enough, there is no
danger. Otherwise? "I will not mislead you," Hubbard confesses. "A
man could go mad simply reading this book."
Upon inspection, the book seems harmless enough. It consists mainly of
page after page of questions the reader asks himself, such as "Can you
recall a time when somebody you liked was asleep?" Or, "Can you recall
a time when you skipped rope?" To aid the reader in meditating on these
episodes, Hubbard provides a cardboard disk with slots cut in it. The
disk is placed on the page so that a question shows through one of the
slots. If the top of the disk says "sight," you try to "see" the
incident. On the next question you rotate the disk so another "sense"
appears on top--say "smell." You now try to recall the "smell" of the
episode. As you can imagine, many curious combinations of senses and
memories result from this ingenious process. "Without using the disk,"
Hubbard warns, "the benefit of processing is cut more than eighty
percent." Two disks are provided, one green and one white. "Use the
one you like best," Hubbard says.
At the back of the book the "editor"--probably Hubbard--steals some of
Wilhelm Reich's current thunder. While the atom bomb was being
developed, the editor says, Hubbard was quietly working on a
constructive use of atomic energy. "In 1947 he had found out how this
unruly energy could be smoothed out and rearranged in a mind so that
thought would be sane, not insane. He had found out how this energy
governed the body's functions." A touching footnote informs the reader
of Hubbard's present financial plight. "He carries on the advance line
of dianetic research without even the assistance of a secretary. He
does not even own a car and he writes on a second hand Remington he
bought years ago. A few volunteer contributions from friends and people
whom his work has helped are his chief support. He has refused to take
advantage of any part of the money made by the Foundation on the grounds
that he would rather it helped others. Any contribution that you might
care to make to him would help a man who is giving everything he has to
help you--the Editor."
The most prominent convert to dianetics from the ranks of medical men
has been Dr. Joseph Augustus Winter. He was a general practitioner in
St. Joe, Michigan, when John Campbell, Jr. introduced him in 1949, by
correspondence, to Hubbard. Winter had previously been interested in
Count Alfred Korzybski's methods for treating neurotics by teaching them
general semantics, and like so many other members of the semantics
movement, he found dianetics even more intriguing. His correspondence
with Hubbard induced him to visit the Master in Elizabeth, New Jersey,
where he underwent a dramatic auditing. Back in Michigan, he tried
dianetics on his six-year-old son who had developed a fear of ghosts.
The fear vanished when his son recalled his delivery by an obstetrician
in a white apron, with white gauze over his mouth.
Dr. Winter's enthusiasm knew no bounds. He moved to New Jersey, and
became the first medical director of the newly formed Dianetics Research
Foundation. In less than a year, however, disenchantment set in. By
October, 1950, he resigned. He is now practicing his own modified
version of dianetics in a swanky Manhattan office off Park Avenue.
In his book, A Doctor's Report on Dianetics, published in 1951, Dr.
Winter pays tribute to what he thinks is a solid core of truth in
dianetics, then cites the points on which he now disagrees. For
example, although he is convinced that prenatal engrams can be formed,
he suspects (though he is not sure) that the "sperm dream" is something
imagined by the patient rather than a true memory. He also objects to
the therapeutic value of having a patient recall his deaths in previous
incarnations (now a standard Hubbard procedure). Hubbard's
authoritarian attitude and the foundation's utter disregard for the
scientific method, he found appalling. For instance, the "Guk" program.
Guk, Winter explains, was the name for a haphazard mixture of vitamins
and glutamic acid, which was taken in huge doses in the belief that it
made the patients 'run better.' There were no adequate controls set up
for this experiment, and it was a dismal, expensive failure."
Dr. Winter also disagrees with Hubbard's view that anybody can be an
auditor. "Any person who is intelligent and possessed of average
persistency," Hubbard wrote in Dianetics, "and who is willing to read
this book thoroughly should be able to become a dianetic auditor."
Moreover, Hubbard insisted that even a bad auditor was better than none
at all, and that no possible harm could be caused by clumsy auditing.
Dr. Winter thinks otherwise. His book cites several cases of patients
who seemed to be sane until they underwent dianetic therapy, after which
they had to be institutionalized as psychotics.
And last but not least, Dr. Winter was puzzled by the conspicuous
absence of any clears. "I have yet to see a 'clear' before and after
dianetic therapy," he writes. "I have not reached that state myself,
nor have I been able to produce that state in any of my patients. I
have seen some individuals who are supposed to be 'clear', but their
behavior does not conform to the definition of the state. Moreover, an
individual supposed to have been 'clear' has undergone a relapse into
conduct which suggests an incipient psychosis."
Perhaps the most revealing parts of Dr. Winter's book are the records of
his own dianetic sessions--revealing because they indicate with
unmistakable starkness the manner in which the auditor suggests to a
patient what sort of things he is supposed to recall. The patient, it
must be remembered, in the vast majority of cases, is already familiar
with dianetic theory. With this in mind, let us examine one of Dr.
(Therapist) What sensation do you have now?
(Patient) My eyes feel as if I want to rub them.
(T) What do you suppose could cause that feeling?
(P) Having something in my eye--a cinder maybe.
(T) Anything else?
(P) Having "pink eye."
(T) Anything else?
(P) I can't think of anything.
(T) There are some possibilities I can think of; you don't have to accept them, of course. Could your eyes feel like this if you were crying?
(P) Yes, I guess so.
(T) Could your eyes feel like this if someone puts drops in them?
(T) All right, let's try to recall the first time your eyes felt this way.
Notice the way in which the cinder and pink eye explanations are
ignored. After the patient is unable to think of anything else, the
therapist suggests crying and eye drops. In a few moments the patient
will be back along his time track to the time of his birth, imagining
the delivery scene and connecting it with the present sensation in his
eyes. Here is another of Winter's cases. The patient has reported a
head-ache and stuffy nose:
(T) What else do you suppose that you'd feel?
(P) I don't know. Say, I can't take this much longer.
(T) Do you suppose that someone might have used the phrase, "Take this," during your birth?
(P) Yes, I suppose that the doctor might have said it.
(T) What might he be doing at the time?
(P) I guess he'd be handing me over to the nurse.
(T) And what would the doctor be saying?
(P) "Here, you can take this now." No, that doesn't seem quite right.
(T) Change the words to suit yourself.
(P) "Here, you take him now." That's it.
(T) Repeat the phrase, please, and notice how your head feels.
(P) (Repeats phrase 5 or 6 times)
(T) Notice how your nose feels as you go over these words. Repeat them again.
(P) (More repetitions.)
(T) How's the headache now?
(P) It's getting worse. (Rubs his eyes.)
(T) How about your eyes--what sensation do you suppose they'd have?
(P) They're stinging; it must be those damn drops he put in.
(T) How do you feel about the doctor putting drops in your eyes?
(P) I'm mad at him; that's a dirty trick.
(T) Supposing that you could get even with the doctor; what would you like to do to him?
(P) I'd like to hit him. (Words are spoken in a resentful tone.)
(T) All right--imagine that the doctor's face is on the couch beside you. Now hit it!
(P) (Clenches jaws and strikes at the couch with closed fist; makes about ten blows.)
(T) Go ahead--get good and mad at him. Hit him again!
(P) (Laughs.) I can't--it's too silly.
(T) How's the headache now?
(T) Now let's put all these associations together in a pattern. Notice your headache... notice how your eyes feel... your nose... the feeling of anger. Anything else?
(P) (Scratches at ribs along left auxiliary line.) Funny--I was just thinking about the way my sister used to tickle me. I haven't thought about that in years.
(T) What sensation might you have had in birth that would remind you of being tickled?
(P) I don't know. (Scratches chest again.)
(T) How would you suppose the doctor picked you up?
(P) He could have picked me up with his hand under my chest there.
(T) Imagine how it would feel to have someone pick you up. What would the temperature of his hand be?
(P) Warm, I guess.
(T) And what does he say?
(P) "Here, you can take him now."
(T) Where is "now"?
(P) Why, now--present time.
(T) Are you being born in 1951?
(P) No--of course not.
(T) You can differentiate between "now," if it was said at the time of your birth, and "now" in 1951, can't you?
(T) Supposing that your headache obeyed the command, "Take him now." What might happen?
(P) I don't know--I can't seem to figure that one out.
(T) What does "take" mean?
(P) It means to carry... to steal... to grasp...to attract.
(T) And where is now?
(P) Oh, I see--that could mean that my headache would be taken to present time.
(T) Do you have to bring you birth-headache up to present time just because the doctor said, "Take him now?"
(P) No, that's silly.
(T) How's the headache now?
(P) Much better--practically gone.
Nothing could be could be cleared from the above dialog than the fact
that the dianetic explanation for the headache existed only in the mind
of the therapist, and that it was with considerable difficulty that the
patient was maneuvered into accepting it. The therapist's questions are
of such a "leading" character that even Dr. Winter admits they
"encourage fantasy." In fact, the doctor says, it does not matter much
whether such memories are real or imaginary! This is a startling
admission. If there is no evidence such memories are real then the
whole Hubbardian notion of prenatal and birth engrams must be discarded.
Perhaps that is exactly what the doctor has since done with it. His
latest book, Are Your Troubles Psychosomatic, 1952, contains not a
single reference to dianetics.
Hubbard himself admits that many patients indulge in fantasies about
their uterine experiences. "The patient tells about father and mother,"
he writes, "and where they are sitting and what the bedroom looks like,
and yet there he is in the womb." Hubbard rejects the theory "that the
tortured foetus develops extrasensory perception in order to see what is
coming next." This is a good theory, he admits, but must be rejected in
view of the fact that the foetus has no mind and therefore lacks
Actually, the notion that neuroses and psychosomatic ills trace back to
experiences when the mind was unconscious--whether in or out of the
womb--is so completely unsupported by anything faintly resembling
controlled research that not a single psychiatrist of standing has given
it a second thought. More than one psychoanalyst has pointed out that
the practice of blaming one's ills on events that occurred when one was
an embryo, is an extremely convenient device for avoiding any real
understanding of the roots of neurosis. Even Dr. Winter speaks of the
strong feeling of escape from guilt which accompanies fantasies of womb
sensations. With this in mind, the entire structure of dianetics
appears to be one vast attempt on Hubbard's part to dodge a genuine
understanding of his own compulsions.
Of all the defenses which can be made of dianetics, the defense that "it
works" is the most irrelevant. It is irrelevant because in the cure of
neurotic symptoms, anything in which a patient has faith will work.
Such "cures" are a dime a dozen. The case histories of dianetics are
not one whit more impressive than the hundreds of testimonials to be
found in young Perkin's book on the curative power of his father's
metallic tractors. They prove that dianetics can operate on some
patients as a form of faith healing. They prove nothing more.
Hubbard is prepared, of course, to expect this sort of opposition to his
views. "Should the pre-clear discover that anyone is attempting to
prevent him from starting or continuing dianetic therapy," he writes,
"the fact should be communicated immediately to the auditor...Anyone
attempting to stop an individual from entering dianetic therapy either
has a use for those aberrations ...or has something to hide."
At the time of this writing, the dianetics craze seems to have burned
itself out as quickly as it caught fire, and Hubbard himself has become
embroiled in a welter of personal troubles. In 1951, his third wife,
twenty-five year old Sara Northrup Hubbard, sued him for divorce. She
called him a "paranoid schizophrenic," accused him of torturing her
while she was pregnant, and stated that medical advisors had concluded
that Hubbard was "hopelessly insane."
In February, 1952, the Dianetic Foundation in Wichita went bankrupt. It
was later purchased from the bankruptcy court by a Wichita businessman
who refuses to have anything to do with Hubbard. At the moment, the
founder of dianetics is living in Phoenix, Arizona. From there the
Hubbard Association of Scientologists ("scientology" is a new Hubbardian
term, meaning the "science of knowledge") is mailing out literature
fulminating against the Wichita group, hawking Hubbard's latest books,
publishing a periodical called Scientology, and selling a Summary Course
in Dianetics and Scientology, complete with tape recordings, for
$382.50. The Hubbard College Graduate School, in Phoenix, charges a
registration fee of $25.00 and offers a degree of Bachelor of
Foe $98/50 Hubbard will send you an electropsychometer, which "registers
relative degrees of dynamic psychophysical stress from moment to moment
during the dianetic session." It also "indicates the approximate
Hubbardian tone-scale of the pre-clear from 1.0 to infinitely high
ranges!," and "immediately discloses points of entry into 'armored' or
'shut-off' cases...." On one leaflet, Hubbard states, "Bluntly,
auditing can't be at optimum without an electropsychometer. An auditor
auditing without a machine reminds one of a hunter hunting ducks at
pitch black midnight, firing his gun off in all directions." A manual
by Hubbard on Electropsychometric Auditing comes free with the device.
For $48.50 you can obtain a smaller device called the "minemeter."
A recent letter from Hubbard asked for donations of $25 to help pay his
living expenses, establish free dianetic schools 'across America," and a
few other little projects he has in mind. In return, donors are to be
given membership in a new dianetic organization called "The Golds."
John Campbell, Jr., who had been introduced to dianetics many years
earlier when Hubbard treated him for sinusitis, and who in turn
introduced dianetics to the world, has likewise been divorced. He
married Dr. Winter's sister.
And he still has his sinusitis.