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Book is clever, disarming

Title: Book is clever, disarming
Date: Tuesday, 17 October 1950
Publisher: Post-Standard
Author: Dylan Welch
Main source: link (362 KiB)

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To the Editor of the Post-Standard:

It has now been six months since the publication of "Dianetics—The Modern Science of Mental Health," by L. Ron Hubbard. That it is well written and provocative is indicated by its present status as a best seller in the non-fiction class. That the arguments presented are cogent to a considerable extent is shown by the failure of critics to deal with them.

According to "Dianetics" the mind has two parts, the analytical or "conscious" mind, and the "reactive" mind which registers only in times of shock, pain or unconsciousness. At such times an "engram" is received—impressions of events and circumstances are recorded in minute detail in the protoplasm of living cells and "basic-basic," the earliest engram, is often received in the pre-natal period. These "engrams" somehow affect the behavior of the individual and are largely responsible for lack of physical and mental health.

The treatment, as outlined by Hubbard, is to "clear" the patient of his "engrams" by having him lie on a couch in the presence of an "auditor" who induces him to relax until he is in "reverie," which seems to be a state somewhere between passivity and a hypnotic trance.


Then the "auditor" suggests to the "pre-clear" that he return via his "time-track" to various painful episodes of his past and in effect to relive these experiences and thus to relieve the "engrams" of their harmful charge. Procedure is from later events to the earlier, always searching for "basic-basic."

Once this earliest engram is disposed of, the pre-clear becomes a "clear," which automatically extends his I.Q. about 50%.

A similarity to psycho-analysis will occur to some readers but author Hubbard admits of no debt to Freud or Mesmer, or to any prior faith, mental suggestion or science-of-the-mind philosophy. The chief difference between the methods of Dianetics and those of psycho-analysis seems to be that the "auditor" replaces the psycho-analyst thereby reducing the practice of mental therapy to an amateur or cult basis.

Any person can "audit" another. Hubbard insists that the treatment even in the hands of an untrained laymen can do no harm, [although] some of his followers do not agree.


Written with consummate cleverness and disarming unity, "Dianetics" tempts the unwary reader with broad claims of clinical proof to follow, then overwhelms him with the plausibility of its thesis so that he fails to note that the proofs earlier promised are never actually delivered.

Hubbard states, "Dianetics is the most advanced and the most clearly presented method of psycho-therapy and self-improvement ever discovered." He offers the claim that 270 unselected cases have been tried and tested with dianetic therapy and the "science has worked without failure on these cases."

"Psychosomatic ills such as arthritis, migraine, ulcers, allergies, asthma, coronary difficulties, tendonitis, bursitis, paralysis (hysterical), eye trouble (non-pathological) all have responded as intended by the therapist, without failure in any one." Careful search of the text and supplemental material fails to disclose any evidence to support these claims and many others, or even to indicate where proof may be obtained.


However, Mr. Hubbard makes certain other claims for dianetics which may be subjected to analysis on another level.

He says, "A science of the mind, if it were truly worthy of that name, would have to rank, in experimental precision, with physics and chemistry." He also refers in various places in his discussion of dianetic therapy to "proof offered by clinical tests," "this dianetic fact is strictly test tube," "this is not theory, this is scientific fact," etc.

The axioms of physics and of chemistry may be, and are demonstrated often and repeatedly in the laboratories of schools and industry [throughout] the world. These tests and demonstrations involve the use of elements, compounds and objects which may be weighed, measured and subjected to various qualitative, quantitative and analytical experiments under rigid laboratory controls.

Observers may, and do check each step of every experiment, verifying both procedure and results.


This is not true of the procedures outlined in "Dianetics." Nowhere in the book does Mr. Hubbard refer to the use of observers or of laboratory control methods in proving the axioms of dianetics or in verifying the results for dianetics therapy which he claims. Nowhere does he refer to any specific laboratory, recognized or otherwise, where scientific research has been, or is being done, to verify the claims he makes on several levels, biological, neural and social.

Each of the two alleged case histories which he offers in evidence were obtained, according to his own description of the procedure, with only the "auditor" and "pre-clear," as he terms the patient. This kind of evidence is not "test-tube,"—nor is it scientific.

It reminds me of a recording made by Dr. Frederick Cook for the Victor Co. back in 1912, in which he told of his journey to the north pole. Within a short time the record was withdrawn from sale when it was discovered that while admittedly the Cook polar party had gone north, it most certainly never reached the pole.