|a.r.s.: Old 1950 article on Dianetics: "Book Is Clever, Disarming"|
Subject: Old 1950 article on Dianetics: "Book Is Clever, Disarming"
Date: 28 Dec 2006 22:45:15 -0800
Book Is Clever, Disarming
The Post Standard,
Syracuse, New York,
17 October 1950,
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
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
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 level, 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.
WALTER L. WELCH,
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