1. A Look at Dianetics

To understand fully the meaning and methods of Scientology, it is necessary to know something of Dianetics, its forerunner and the technical foundation upon which it rests.

Dianetics came suddenly into public view in 1950. Yet it would be absurd to imagine that it was a spontaneous creation which before that date did not exist. As a matter of fact, years of experiment and research preceded the published work. Hubbard has said that he began his preliminary investigation to determine the dynamic principle of existence in 1932. His initial premise was that "the human mind is capable of resolving the problem of the human mind".

During the ensuing years, an intensive programme of study and testing (interrupted by World War II) evolved the fundamental techniques later embodied in Dianetics.

Hubbard published his Original Thesis, summarizing his findings, in 1948. Two years later, the basic text, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, made its appearance in the literary market-place.

Although issued without fanfare and under the imprint of a minor New York publishing house, the book's success

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was instantaneous. Within weeks it had risen to the top of the best-seller list, that barometer of popular acclaim ; and it became the most widely discussed book in America. Yet, before its unannounced advent in the book stores, the reading public had never even heard the word Dianetics which was, like the new mental science it denoted, the original creation of the book's author.

What is also interesting to note at this point is that while it had required a whole generation for the salient ideas and terminology of Freud's work on psychoanalysis to seep through to the man in the street, the fundamental thesis and vocabulary of Dianetics caught on in a matter of months.

Such massive and intense interest in the work by people in all walks of life suggests that it contained something the world had been waiting for and needed. What was it?

The word Dianetics was derived from the Greek dia meaning through, and nous meaning mind, hence "through the mind". The Dianetics system was described as the basic science of human thought.

"Dianetics is an adventure," wrote Hubbard in a brief foreword to his work. "It is an exploration into Terra Incognita, the human mind, that vast and hitherto unknown realm an inch back of our foreheads."

As it turned out, the itinerary and route map he provided for that strange journey were surprisingly accurate. Hubbard had closed his introduction with the words "may you never be the same again", and few who seriously undertook the adventure ever were. The only common ground shared by friend and foe of Dianetics has been, in fact, the agreement that "it works".

The principal reason for this is no doubt the fact that Hubbard had adopted an engineering approach to a subject which hitherto had been dealt with only by the deep, deep theories of established psychiatry, which led nowhere.

Early detractors had tried to counter the instant success of Dianetics by implying that the whole thing was a smoke-

A Look at Dianetics / 21

ring fantasy tossed off in his spare time by a science fiction writer named L. Ron Hubbard.

In fact, right down to the present, almost every published attack on Hubbard has included sneering references to his having written "wonder stories". His critics hoped thereby to plant in the public mind the idea that Dianetics is merely an extension of science fiction.

Even if this were true (and there is no evidence that it is) I cannot see that it would in any way degrade Dianetics as a scientific system. The voyage of Apollo II, the fantastic trail of human footsteps across the face of the moon, the terrifying mushroom cloud above the desert sands - all these achievements likewise made their first appearance in the pages of publications like Astounding Science Fiction. Only the writers of science fiction foresaw and described them in amazingly accurate detail.

That is why science fiction is the only fiction that is truly relevant to the present and the future.

In any case, Hubbard was not only an imaginative fictioneer, but among other things a civil engineer, explorer, former U.S. Navy officer, and licensed master of both motor and sailing vessels.

While all his published biographies take note of these and other attainments, none of them mentions the most important datum of all: L. Ron Hubbard is also a genius.

Until that fact is duly taken into account, much confusion and misunderstanding will continue to surround the man and his work.

From his earliest years, Hubbard's life and personal characteristics follow a pattern that has been typical of men who have made creative contributions to the sum of human knowledge, from the ancient Greek proto-scientists like Archimedes, down to the unknown Newtons and Faradays of our time, now tinkering with some new idea that will startle and perhaps outrage tomorrow's orthodox scientists.

Throughout history, the most conspicuous trait of genius has been a sense of wonder, or. in a more prosaic way of

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expressing it, a lively curiosity. Arthur Koestler, in his stimulating study, The Act of Creation, cites a passage from Aristotle in which the philosopher, speaking of the Greek men of science, says:

"At first they felt wonder about the more superficial problems; afterwards they advanced gradually by perplexing themselves over greater difficulties..."

As we shall see, that is precisely how Dianetics was evolved and how Hubbard advanced gradually from Dianetics into the greater problems and experiments of Scientology.

But it is not only in this single feature that Hubbard's personality matches the profile of genius. Other aspects of his behaviour and temperament similarly conform to the basic pattern: the enthusiasm over his work, the spontaneous flow of images and ideas; a mind pullulating with new notions; a scepticism towards dogmatic answers to pivotal questions.

Koestler further calls our attention to the fact that more often than not, men of genius have been self-assertive if not arrogant. Archimedes cried, "Give me but a firm spot on which to stand and I will move the earth." Tycho de Brahe, astronomer and pioneer of the scientific revolution, was "boastful, truculent and quixotic", and quarrelled even with kings he entertained at his table.

Pasteur infuriated his scientific adversaries by his selfconfident attitude and the curt way in which he dismissed their scepticism concerning his theories: "You do not know the first word of my investigations, of their results, of the principles which they have established..."

Like these men, Hubbard is a fighting cock.

Still, beneath a veneer of overwhelming self-confidence will be found an ultimate humility, "derived from a sense of wonder close to mysticism..."; for mysticism figures in the motivational drive of almost all creative minds.

"In the popular imagination, these men of science appear as sober ice-cold logicians, electronic brains mounted on dry

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sticks. But if one were shown an anthology of typical extracts from their letters and autobiographies with no names mentioned, and then asked to guess their profession, the likeliest answer would be: a bunch of poets or musicians of a rather romantically naive kind.",

It is only the imitators, the third-rate minds, which seek security in authoritative doctrines and textbook infallability.

Like the wandering scholars of the Renaissance, who used to journey about Europe exploring many curious byways of knowledge before settling down to the study that would lead to new discoveries, Hubbard travelled widely during his youth, visiting some of the remoter areas of Asia. During the course of these peregrinations he says he observed many strange people and things which stimulated his interest in the unsolved riddles of existence: "the medicine man of the Goldi people of Manchuria, the shamans of North Borneo, Sioux medicine men, the cults of Los Angeles, and modern psychology. Amongst the people questioned about existence were a magician whose ancestors served in the court of Kublai Khan and a Hindu who could hypnotize cats." 7

Hubbard adds that he also dabbled in the occult; examined the phenomena of spiritualism and studied the theories of celebrated psychologists like Freud, Adler and Jung.

Everybody and everything seemed to offer a partial solution to the basic problems confronting man, but none of them had evolved what Hubbard considered a workable system - one that yielded reliable results in the way demanded by an engineer who constructs a bridge. If an engineer were to employ as his parameters the kind of opinions, guesswork and uncertain methods common among psychologists and mystics, bridges would fall, buildings collapse, dynamos stall and civilization go to pieces.

Hubbard's first step in developing a workable system of his own was to look for a dynamic principle that would be the lowest common denominator of existence. He reasoned

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that all life is energy of some sort, and he asked the question: what is that energy doing?

The simple, uncomplicated answer was; life was surviving, even though it underwent many changes in form.

The dynamic principle of existence, then, was the primary urge of all organisms, from the lowest unicellular to the most complex, to survive.

In the case of human beings, this will to exist expressed itself in four dynamics or drives. (Hubbard later posited four more, making a total of eight.) The original four were: (1) The urge to survive as a self-aware individual; (2) through his progeny; (3) as the member of a family group, or race; and (4) through mankind and as all mankind.

"If one sagged down towards unsurvival," wrote Hubbard in Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science, "one was goaded up the scale towards survival by pain. One was lured ahead by pleasure into survival. There was a graduated scale with one end in death and the other in immortality." 2

Man's brain acts as a computer, programmed to deal with all situations relating to survival. When functioning properly, it could and would produce the correct answers to problems. However, it did not always function properly. Something happened to make the "optimum brain", which Hubbard had postulated, produce erroneous data. What was it?

During a series of experiments using hypnotism and narco-synthesis as the best tools then available to him, Hubbard had discovered that the basic personality of man was sincere, intelligent and good. Even the fundamental character of hardened criminals that emerged during the trance state was one whose drives were constructive and benevolent.

"Tentatively and cautiously a conclusion was drawn that the optimum brain is the unaberrated brain, that the optimum brain is also the basic personality, that the basic personality, unless organically deranged, was good. If man

A Look at Dianetics / 25

were basically good, then only a 'black enchantment' could make him evil." 7

This preliminary conclusion was important because it gave direction to Hubbard's subsequent research. It posed the first in a line of successive and critical questions which led eventually to one of Dianetics' most valuable discoveries.

Moreover, the theory that all men are basically good and that their wrongdoing stemmed from mental aberration, was indeed exciting. If later experiment proved this working hypothesis valid and a means could be found of eliminating the aberrations, it could mean the redemption of mankind -the criminal, the alienated, the anti-social, disruptive, the drug addict, the war-monger.

To this day that broad hope sounds through much of the literature of Scientology, as well as in the day-to-day statements of its founder.

Still using the analogy of a data processing system, Hubbard identified the human computer as the "analytical mind". It was this analyser which sets man apart from all other animals.

Hubbard theorized that aberrative circuits had somehow been introduced into the basically "good" computer from the external world, thus producing error. He illustrated his thesis by comparing the operation of the mind to a common adding machine.

"We put into it the order that all of its solutions must contain the figure 7. We hold down 7 and put on the computer the problem of 6 + 1. The answer is wrong. But we still hold down 7. To all intents and purposes here, that machine is crazy. Why? Because it won't compute accurately so long as seven is held down. Now release 7 and put a very large problem on the machine and get a correct answer. The machine is now sane -rational."

The question still remained: what was holding down figure 7, so to speak, in computations made by the analytical mind?

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Further investigation by the use of hypnosis led to the discovery that the source of the trouble lay in a previously unknown sub-mind which, together with its own memory bank, underlies the analytical or so-called "conscious" mind. It is atavistic, that is, a hold-over from an earlier stage of man's evolution. Hubbard called this subliminal mechanism the reactive mind. Far from being the "unconscious" mind described in textbook psychology, the reactive mind is the only mind that is always conscious. It records data associated with what is done to the individual, not by him, during periods of unconsciousness, such as those produced by drugs, injury, shock or illness.

For example, if you are hit by a car as you are crossing the street and are knocked unconscious, all that is said and done around you while you lie waiting for the ambulance, will be recorded by the reactive mind. So will the physical pain, even though you are not consciously aware of it at the time.

"Further, every moment of great emotional shock, where loss occasions near unconsciousness, is fully recorded in the reactive mind ... For instance, the death of a loved one brings about a state of near unconsciousness, and everything which is said or done around a person in such a state is recorded and becomes compulsive as part of the reactive mind." 7

All the combined perceptions recorded during these traumatic episodes create what in Dianetics is called an engram. The Scientology Abridged Dictionary defines engram as "a mental image picture of an experience containing pain, unconsciousness and a real or fancied threat to survival; it is a recording in the reactive mind of something which actually happened to an individual in the past and which contained pain and unconsciousness". 3

The high-priority, survival-oriented data of the engram passes directly into a reactive memory bank, without any evaluation by the analyser or conscious mind.

There it remains, unsuspected by and unavailable to the

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conscious memory. But when the individual is in a state of reduced awareness - e.g., excessively tired, drunk or ill sounds and circumstances in his surroundings similar to those associated with the original experience, will restimulate the engram. "Succeeding moments of restimulation, also recorded as pictures, are called locks."

When an engramic recording is restimulated, it reduces to a minimum the function of the analytical mind, and takes over control of the individual, causing him to behave irrationally in accord with its commands. At such times, the person may experience a feeling of dullness, slight stupor and confusion, "a sort of dumb, unreasoned and unidentified emotion that seems to stop thought in numbness". 6

Hubbard's discovery of this function of a sub-mind was an achievement of immense significance. Although ignored or derided by professional psychologists at the time it was first announced, several leading psychiatrists have recently confirmed Hubbard's work, presenting their findings as their own. However, Dianetics was too well established and widely practiced for any doubt to exist about Hubbard having been the first to formulate principles covering the existence and function of the reactive mind.

Perhaps the principal reason that Hubbard succeeded in uncovering the sub-mind where previous researchers had failed was the fact that he was not tied to the official dogma of orthodox schools. He was free to examine what he called wild radicals. Psychiatric literature is full of case histories which point to the presence of hidden, reactive memories in man - latent mental image pictures that are unavailable to waking consciousness. But in every instance, the unusual features of the case, which should have invited deeper study, were inadequately explained away by accepted hypotheses.

For example, there is the well-documented account of an epileptic patient, a near-illiterate, who during a seizure delivered a full funeral oration in scholarly Latin. According to the report, it was an oration he could never before have

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heard in its entirety, but was put together from snatches previously overheard under similarly abnormal conditions that is, during epileptic seizures, when the conscious mind, the sentient analyser was shut down.

When the patient returned to a normal state, he could remember nothing of his remarkable performance, nor could he understand a word of the Latin text. He also failed to respond to religiously weighted words in a wordassociation test.

Even more significantly, hypnosis elicted no more information than did questions and tests under normal conditions of wakefulness. 5

The Dianeticist would understand at once that the Latin words, perfectly recalled by a man who knew no Latin, were data filed in the "red-tab" memory bank of the reactive mind while the analyser was out of circuit - i.e. during the epileptic seizure.

In his early experiments, Hubbard had tried hypnotism, too, in an unsuccessful effort to contact the submind. He wrote:

"When one tried to go to it with hypnotism, or narcosynthesis he was confronted with a patient who simply looked knocked-out, who was unresponsive to everything. As narco-synthesis and hypnotism both savour of sleep, the deeper sleep of the composite whole of all the past knockouts of a lifetime render the patient entirely insensible even when one was squarely on top of the reactive bank. So this bank remained hidden and unknown." 8

Instead of probing deeper into the mystery, as Hubbard did, the psychiatrist who reported the case just cited, ignored the perplexing implications and offered the simplistic explanation that it was an "example of disordered memory

Another important discovery of Dianetics concerning the human mind was that of the ability of the individual to move along a time track, to return to any given moment of his life's history, and to relive that experience in full,

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including all that was heard, seen, smelled, tasted or touched.

Returning is not the same thing as remembering. Memories are highly selective, edited versions of our experiences. They often omit seemingly unimportant details and stress others; modify, revise and distort the content in conformity with bias, or with certain values.

On the other hand, in Dianetic recall, or returning, the immediate percept of an event is veridical - it is a complete and accurate reproduction.

In Dianetic processing, the guidance of an individual back along this time track to earlier moments became an indispensable tool for contacting the engram bank of the reactive mind which is otherwise unavailable.

"Many people," wrote Hubbard, "are held in these moments by some past physical pain to such a degree that they are actually not in present time. When an individual is somewhere on the time-track other than in present time, he can be said to be out of present time. He will be experiencing some of the pain, and will be reacting to the commands of the moment." 9

A primary goal of Dianetics is to restore the individual to full, present-time self-determination. This is accomplished by directing him back along his personal time track to contact and re-live the moments of emotion, pain, and unconsciousness that, as real or fancied threats to survival, were filed in the "red-tab" memory bank of the reactive mind.

In this way, the hidden recordings or engrams are gradually reduced and eventually refiled as a non-aberrative memory in the conscious-level banks of the analytical mind, where they can no longer produce irrational behaviour and illness.

According to Dianetic theory, the engram bank is the only portion of human memory whose content can be exhausted.

Such processing takes time because engrams do not

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occur singly, but in chains. A chain is a succession of incidents along the time track, related to one another by some similarity such as subject, location, people or perception. The average person's reactive mind contains between fifteen and twenty such chains, with about ten to fifteen engrams to the chain.

Moreover, it isn't a matter of dealing with engrams at random, in the order in which they may be contacted while moving back and forth on the time track. It is necessary to find and erase the basic engram, that is, the primary incident to which subsequent engrams along the chain are linked.

Before the basic engram is located and erased, those which follow it on the chain cannot be fully exhausted, although their command value can be reduced. After erasure of the basic engram, those which follow it along the chain can be lifted without difficulty.

The search for the very first incident on the time track (called basic-basic) led to the discovery of prenatal engrams. Hubbard reported that the earliest could occur shortly before conception, and that engramic events during the prenatal epoch were common.

Such a postulate meant, of course, that engrams were recorded on the cellular level. It was a highly revolutionary concept. As Hubbard himself declared, "No statement as drastic as this - as far beyond previous experience as this can be accepted readily." 4

And indeed, it was not readily accepted by the scientific community at the time. However, medical researchers have since published results of their own studies which validate Hubbard's work.

The Dianetic technique for location and erasing, one by one, the hundreds of engrams in the reactive-mind memory bank is comparatively simple. An auditor (a person trained to listen carefully to the individual being processed) directs the attention of the "I" back along the time track. As the preclear (the person undergoing therapy) is thus re-

gressed, the accumulated traumatic experiences of the organism are contacted and reduced by repetitive reexperiencing of them.

The auditing session is conducted while the preclear is in a condition of reverie. It is important here to emphasize that this state of reverie is not in any way related to hypnosis. The preclear is conscious throughout the period of processing. It is axiomatic in Dianetics that hypnotism is never to be used in auditing procedures because hypnosis is itself a source of aberration and will only add another engram to the red-tab bank.

To prevent the preclear's receiving a suggestion even inadvertently, the auditor introduces what is called a canceller, as soon as the preclear has closed his eyes and entered a state of mental relaxation. The canceller consists of a statement such as this: "Hereafter, when I say the word 'cancelled', everything which I have said to you during this session will be cancelled and will have no effect on you."

At the end of each session, immediately before the preclear is permitted to open his eyes, the auditor will utter the single word, "Cancelled".

The auditor is also careful before ending the session to bring the preclear back to present time. He is first moved forward on the time track to contact a recent pleasant experience. After re-living that event, the auditor tells him: "Now come up to present time."

If the preclear appears confused or unsure, the auditor makes certain that he has in fact returned to present time by asking him to tell the date, or requesting a "flash answer" to the question: "How old are you?" If he gives his correct age, the preclear has returned to present time.

As already indicated, the ultimate goal of Dianetic processing is to delete the contents of the reactive bank, thereby producing a mental stability in the "cleared" individual.

At this point it is necessary to note that the state known as clear in the early days of Dianetics is currently referred to

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as Dianetic release. The reason is that methods of testing the results of Dianetic therapy were not fully adequate at that time. Subsequent experimentation was to reveal that what Dianeticists regarded as "clears" in the 1950s were, in fact, not clears in an accurate and absolute sense at all.

Further investigation was to bring to light higher levels of processing. The expanded system, which would produce even more dramatic results, was called Scientology, a word derived from the Latin scio which means knowing, and the Greek logos which means the word or outward form by which the inward thought is expressed.


  1. Arthur Koestler, The Act of Creation. London: 1964.
  2. L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science.
  3. Scientology Abridged Dictionary.
  4. L. Ron Hubbard, Science of Survival.
  5. George A. Talland, Disorders of Memory and Learning. London: 1968.
  6. U. Keith Gerry, The Key To Tomorrow. Johannesburg: 19 5 5.
  7. L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought.
  8. L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 8-8o: The Discovery and Increase of Life Energy.
  9. L. Ron Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability.

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