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 his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch.... The hidden source of all psychosomatic ills and human aberration has been discovered and skills have been developed for their invariable cure."
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 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 capital, 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 by Hubbard 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,[*] 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.
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 Auditor's Bulletin made its appearance. Later the foundation expanded and moved to Wichita, Kansas, where it took the name of the Hubbard Dianetic Foundation, Inc. For $500 the institution offered thirty-six hours of therapy, 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 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 in the street outside. The engram contains a running record of all these perceptions: sight, sound, tactile, taste, smell, organic sensation, kinetic sense, joint position, thirst record, etc. The engram would consist of the whole statement made to her when she was 'unconscious': 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 manner 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 Dianetics.
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 engram.
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 its 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. Papa hits Mama, 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 mother takes quinine a high ringing noise may come into being in 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 mind.
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, these 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 of everything!"
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 the baby 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 burn.")
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 be met by 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 erased that he laughed for two days without stopping. This also must not be misinterpreted. One might wrongly suppose that the patient was laughing at how preposterous the whole procedure was.
It takes about twenty hours of auditing to turn an aberrated patient 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 of 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 insane."
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 of 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 by saying, "Will you come out here now, Sonya? The "now" got her stuck in 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 of the many 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 when 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 abdomen 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 an 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 and reincarnation.
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 Excalibur.
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 which 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 per cent." 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 how this unruly energy could be smoothed out and rearranged in a mind so that thought would be sane, not insane. He had found how this energy governed the body 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 of 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 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 patient '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. Winter's cases.
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 headache and stuffy nose:
Nothing could be clearer from the above dialogue 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 clairvoyant powers.
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 a 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 Perkins' 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 the aberrations of that individual ... or has something to hide."
At the time of 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 advisers had concluded 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 Scientology.
For $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 preclear 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 model 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 began treating 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.
I have made no effort to keep up with Hubbard's views since he plunged dianetics into occultism, but the following quotations suggest the atmosphere in which he has been doing his recent research:
Issue 3-G of his journal Scientology opens with the headline, "Source of Life Energy Found. Scientology enters third echelon far ahead of schedule; revival of dead or near-dead may become possible." The article beneath states that "The Greek gods ... probably existed, and the energy glow and potential of Jesus Christ and early saints are common knowledge to every school boy.... The recovery of this energy potential and the ability to use it has become suddenly a matter of two to 25 hours of competent practice." The same issue contains a spine-chilling piece by Hubbard on Black Dianetics, warning against misuse of the science by unscrupulous groups.
Dr. Hubbard (he has awarded himself a degree of doctor of scientology) was running his patients back into previous incarnations long before the search for Bridey Murphy began. Each individual, according to Hubbard, has a "theta being" that has been reappearing in MEST bodies for about 74 trillion years. (See Time, Dec. 22, 1952.)
A. E. Van Vogt, in an incredible article on dianetics in Spaceway Science Fiction, Feb., 1955, takes a cautious attitude toward this work, but states that in his opinion "this is the first time that anyone has investigated this territory [i.e., the human soul isolated from the body] in a manner that can be scientifically acceptable." Van Vogt was the first head of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation of California, Inc. "I was reluctant to become involved," he writes, "but since doing so I have done more than 5,000 hours of Dianetic processing on other people, and have taken upward of 800 hours of training in the methods."
Dianetics has not been mentioned in Astounding Science Fiction for many years. Editor Campbell has found something even more revolutionary -- "psionics," a combination of electronics with psi (psychic) phenomena. Campbell first wrote about it in an editorial, "The Science of Psionics," Astounding, Feb., 1956. The editorial asked his readers if they would like to see a series of articles about psychic electronic machines. Campbell described psionics as "honest non-scientific research," pointing out that "Buddha, Jesus, and President Eisenhower" also are excluded from the category of "honest scientific research" since they "use methods other than those used by physicists in their laboratory work."
After a resounding "Yea!" from his readers, Campbell ran the first article, "Psionic Machine -- Type One" in his June, 1956 issue. The article was written by himself. It tells how to build a Hieronymous machine, patented in 1949 by one Thomas G. Hieronymous, at that time a resident of Kansas City, Mo., and tested with positive results by "nuclear physicist" (see above) Campbell. The machine was designed by the inventor to analyze the "eloptic radiation" of minerals, a new type of radiation discovered by Hieronymous. Among electronic engineers, Hieronymous' patent (No. 2,482,773) is passed around for laughs, and considered in a class with Socrates Scholfield's famous patent of 1914 (No. 1,087,186), consisting of two intertwined helices for demonstrating the existence of God.
Campbell thinks Hieronymous' theory is "cockeyed" and he has also made several basic changes in the construction of the machine. Hieronymous claimed that his detector worked on photographs of minerals. Campbell hasn't bothered to test that. Nevertheless, the machine Campbell built did detect something "not detectable by any standard form of meter," and he knows there is no "jiggery-poker" because he constructed the thing himself.
In a lecture on psionics at the New York Science Fiction Convention, 1956, Campbell displayed his second and "more precise" version of the Hieronymous machine. It works just as well, he claimed, without the electric power supply. But it won't work, he added, if there is a burned-out vacuum tube! The device is beautifully subjective. You turn a dial with one hand while you stroke a plastic plate with the other. The plate is supposed to feel "sticky" when the dial reaches a certain setting, the setting varying with each individual. Some people get the proper tactile sensation the first time they try it. Willy Ley and others at the convention couldn't feel a thing. Campbell solemnly informed his audience that the machine does not work well with either scientists or mystics. Five mystics tried it, he stated, and got only random responses. His own personal "hunch" is that the machine is detecting something "beyond space and time." Or as he expresses it in the October, 1956 issue of his magazine, "there is a reality-field other than, and different in nature from, that we know as Science."
Another Campbell "hunch" is that the device operates because of certain "relations" between its parts. Someone at the lecture stood up and asked the obvious question: had Campbell tried varying the circuit or even removing it altogether to see if the device still worked? No, Campbell hadn't tried that. He was just an amateur, he explained, "having fun" with psionics, and he felt no obligation to try all the experiments that are possible, particularly without getting paid for it.
No one of course expects a researcher to perform all possible experiments with a device before he publishes results. But one does expect at least a minimum of experimentation to insure fairly adequate controls. As it is, psionics promises to be even funnier than dianetics or Ray Palmer's Shaver stories. It suggests once more how far from accurate is the stereotype of the science fiction fan as a bright, well-informed, scientifically literate fellow. Judging by the number of Campbell's readers who are impressed by this nonsense, the average fan may very well be a chap in his teens, with a smattering of scientific knowledge culled mostly from science fiction, enormously gullible, with a strong bent toward occultism, no understanding of scientific method, and a basic insecurity for which he compensates by fantasies of scientific power.