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The storm over Dianetics: Is it science or is it swindle?

Title: The storm over Dianetics: Is it science or is it swindle?
Date: Saturday, 1 February 1969
Publisher: Coronet (New York)
Main source: link (899 KiB)

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Individuals have attacked its "church," governments have barred its believers. Few ideas in modern time have provoked such passions

Last summer, England locked its rock-ribbed coast to the pilgrims who had come from all over the world to attend a dianetics conference on British soil. It was only the latest skirmish in the storm-ridden history of dianetics (dia, through; noos, mind) and scientology (scio, truth; ology, study).

Few ideas in our time have aroused such passions. "It's the key to mental health," say its supporters. "It's a serious threat to the community, medically, morally, and socially," retort its critics.

What is this idea that provokes such controversy? The storm began in the early 1950's when L. Ron Hubbard published the book Dianetics (Paperback Library), in which he announced the theory of dianetics as the "modern science of mental health." Hubbard proclaimed that "the hidden source of all human aberration has been discovered and skills have been developed for its invariable resolution."

Hubbard and his book were immediately denounced by professional psychologists as amateurish and potentially dangerous since it could meddle with serious mental problems. In reply, Hubbard went ahead to establish the Church of Scientology in 1956. As a "church," it is tax-exempt. As an organization, it now boasts some 22 headquarters in six countries, a membership numbering in the thousands, and an international base in Great Britain.

Having started it all, Hubbard announced his retirement two years ago, selling the good will of his name to the organization for $240,000. Hubbard has often been accused of profiteering with Dianetics. It is true that he has confided to friends that he has several million dollars in numbered Swiss bank accounts; and in August he forgave a $13-million debt that he claimed the Scientology organization owed him. He spends most of his time on the Mediterranean on an Onassis-type yacht.

One Scientology apparatus is an "E-meter," an electrical instrument that is supposed to help bring about dianetic therapy as well as communicate with inanimate objects. In 1963, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration in Washington, D.C., seized several E-meters on the charge that Scientology was falsely promising to cure "neuroses, psychoses, schizophrenia, and all psychosomatic illnesses."

In 1965, the Australian state of Victoria banned the movement after a two-year investigation, saying that the cult was "the world's largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy."

The latest assault was by the government of Great Britain. In August, it took away the cult's educational institution status and denied visas to those visitors who claimed student status to go to the centers. It acted as a result of alleged complaints by families of Scientology's followers.

Minister of Health Kenneth Robinson said that "Scientology alienates members of families from each other and attributes squalid and disgraceful motives to all who oppose it; its authoritarian principles and practice are a potential menace to the personality and well-being of those so deluded as to become its followers."

One Scientology spokesman countercharged that the government was embarking on "the biggest witch hunt since the reign of James II." Another commented, "One should not pass judgment on another's religion or belief . . . and should not listen to prejudiced reports."



Dianetics, which L. Ron Hubbard calls the "modern science of mental health," can be explained as a form of phychoanalysis. It is based on his theory that the unconscious or reactive mind operates even before birth, retaining painful memories that are recorded but are not appraised, evaluated, or reasoned. These memories, which he calls "engrams," are said to be the cause of mental aberration and phychosomatic illness. For the ultimate development of the human mind, says Hubbard, the engrams must be removed. Just as an analyst listens to and draws out a person during phycoanalysis, a dianetic therapist, called an auditor, helps a person to get rid of engrams, "clearing" them, in dianetic terminology. Thus, the theory goes, the cause of psychosomatic illness is removed and the way is open for the mind to expand. An auditor must first have all of his own engrams cleared.

After his engrams are cleared, the individual is ready to enter the Church of Scientology, which is called an "applied religious philosophy." However, even an uncleared person can join Scientology by agreeing to undergo the dianetic therapy. While dianetics purports to be available to anyone, Scientology relies on its auditors to "know" when a person is "clear" and has obtained total awareness and freedom.


By L. Ron Hubbard

The essence of philosophy is to learn to "grin and bear it." For 18 years I have had the rather grim task of going on about my work, doing my job, waiting for the tide of opposition to turn as it is now doing. It has not been easy.

It all began in 1949 when I first released 12 years of independent research into the field of the mind. With the help and advice of an associate, who was a medical doctor, I offered my work first to the American Psychiatric Association and then to the American Medical Association. This was the proper thing to do and I did it. The AMA simply wrote me, "Why?" and the APA replied, "If it amounts to anything I am sure we will hear of it in a couple of years."

A psychiatric textbook publisher insisted I write a book about my researches and the medical friend said, "It's the only route you have left. The Public." The resulting book, Dianetics, The Modern Science of Mental Health soared to the top of the New York Times best-seller list in 1950 and stayed there. Eighteen years later, even though followed by a score of my books about the mind and soul, the first book is still a best seller.

Ridicule, wild rumors, bad press, lies and even attacks by governments have failed to suppress the technology. The story reads like something out of James Bond. Now finally, today, the press has begun to print what I actually say and the people have begun to realize the real value and intention of the work.

New things take a while to catch on. Almost every new advance man has made has been a battle between the insistent new against the comfortable old. An ancient Greek said, "The mixture which is not shaken stagnates," and it is the new which keeps society out of ruts.

Before 1950, as a writer in the movies and for various magazines, and as an expedition leader, the newspapers were usually very kind and pleasant to me. Overnight in 1950, I pressed some fatal trigger in the citadels of hidebound tradition, and I was being represented as a sort of two-horned, cloven-hoofed beast.

To friends and people who liked my work and benefited from it, I remained simply "Ron." To others who had never met me, I became quite something else! Efforts were made to kidnap me and spirit me away. Attack followed attack until, in several parliaments and agencies, I and all who used my work were being personified as fiends tearing at the very roots of tradition and fit only for banishment. England locked its doors against students. Rhodesia and South Africa, in a fit of terror that I might free their blacks, forbade my entrance.

All I really was doing was trying to tell Man he could be happy, that there was a road out of suffering and that he could attain his goals.

It is a painful process to have a few antagonistic men seeking out your tiniest human frailty. Every flaw I might have had has been magnified to a high intensity. Even my own university disowned me twice, once for becoming their own professional writer and once for writing about Scientology.

Pioneering a new thing can bring many incredible adventures, dark hours, many searchings of the soul. If the attacks were so violent, the things said and done so bitter, one began to wonder if perhaps he might not be doing wrongs he knew nothing about. In the end, having done my own best to be decent and to help, I could ask, "Why feel guilty?"

The very extremity of these attacks upon me eventually started the public to ask, "If he is so bad, where is the evidence of crime?" There was so little evidence that at least two British government leaders were discredited. The tide had turned. The opponents had gone too far.

The public began to ask, "What is this Scientology? Who are these Scientologists?" In general they found that Scientology organizations and Scientologists run at a level of sincerity and decency considerably above average. Tried and tempered in the continual fire of reactionary resistance, the Scientologist was forced to develop organizational technology far in excess of ordinary organizations, just to stay alive.

[Picture / Caption: Now, for the first time, the founder of dianetics and scientology writes his own answer to the attacks on himself and his ideas]

A heavily censured technology, and those who apply it, cannot afford to fail. The caldron in which Scientologists lived eventually brought technical application to a level of expertness that exceeded normal demands. Beneficial results from Scientology ran well above 95 per cent effective. Year after year after year they waited for the world to recognize that they could do what they said they could do: help man to communicate better, to handle his own problems, to be more able at his job and to live a happier life.

Instead, they heard themselves accused of breaking up marriages when they were proud of the thousands they had saved for every one lost. Living on a planet that was already not too noted for justice, they developed their own milder justice. Under fire and accused of the strangest crimes, they lived yet better lives and reached out to their fellows and went on.

That, above all else, is the greatest testimony there is to Scientology. The Scientologist, in the face of everything, stood firm, handled the day, carried on, grew.

Possibly this itself was something to make the reactionary afraid. This must have seemed a new way of life, a way outside the control of scowling elders, and the upraised whips of the old school.

It must have been strange and frightening to see some men-in-the-street—forgotten Mankind, the little people of the world—endure and turn into philosophers overnight, unaffected suddenly by the dismal threats of their "betters." Even more horrible, it must have been upsetting that these people were happy when "everybody knows that people should be miserable and sad."

They were committing no known crime. There was no statute on the law books that said, "You must not be happy," or, "You must be afraid." One state said, "They commit no crimes so we shall have to pass a law against Scientology itself"—and did.

No one is perfect. Almost anyone has frailties, vanities, small white lies. It is a double miracle that with all the ferocity aimed about their heads that Scientologists come through so well. It was no fun to hear themselves called a "cult," and it was confusing to be told they were doing things they hadn't done.

Dianetics (through Mind) and Scientology (the study of Knowledge) struck apparently at the very roots of many comfortable traditions. In 1950, universities taught that a man could not change his intelligence. Scientology can change intelligence upward, at the rate of one point per hour.

Man's critics became fond of the idea he was an animal. Scientology demonstrated he was an immortal spirit. These and many other ideas in Dianetics and Scientology were an assault upon the old, and the result was an eighteen-year fire fight.

The essence of successful philosophy is to be able to stand under fire, to keep your own dignity and integrity and still do your job. Basically a Man has to live with himself. The only person he can betray, really, is himself. So why feel guilty if one has done nothing to be guilty about?

Concerning my critics: I am accused of making a fortune from Dianetics and Scientology. Yet over $13-million of unpaid royalties and monies owed to me I forgave and let be spent on helping Man.

I am supposed to have had a notorious marital history yet I have a devoted wife and four darling children and have one of the happiest of long-run marriages. I am supposed to have engaged in physical healing yet forbade very early the use of Scientology for that. I have been very careful to leave the medical doctor his rightful sphere of healing.

So it goes. In at least three countries, where the government has violently attacked Scientology, each has finally said, "We can find no laws these people have broken." The governments have produced no evidence of crimes and so the tide eventually turned.

If one leads an innocent life, helps his fellows, and in general tries to be decent, he isn't likely to be shot down successfully. The lies of accusation turn out to be lies. The truth of what one is really trying to do turns out to be the truth and is recognized.

The main danger in standing up to attacks is that you may begin to doubt yourself and your own motives. The fight isn't over, but the important points are won. I have endured. Scientologists have endured; the books sell more than ever before; public opinion is in our favor.

Amongst other things, Scientology improves the abilities of a person to communicate, to solve problems, to live peaceably and with his fellows. It demonstrates that Man is immortal and not an animal.

The aim of Scientology is a new era of love instead of hate and a reign of sanity instead of chaos. How these hopes would upset anyone is a mystery, but they do.

Possibly the fight is about money. It is true that Scientology is getting all the business. Possibly it stems from jealousy, for it isn't everyone who writes a book that stands the world on its ear as Dianetics seems to have done. Be assured it is a fight of the bitter old resisting the ambitious new.

There are few strong new forces in the world today. Man's civilization is tired, fed up with war, poverty, and crime. Perhaps it is natural that anyone who offered help would also be fought at first. Man is so used to fighting, to being fooled.

Scientology has taken the first ramparts. Scientologists have generated their own organizations. Three years ago Scientologists became their own leaders when I retired.

It has been a very hard fight, it has been hard work, it has taken a long time. Today, I can relax, occupying no more important a role than captain of my yacht, and look over the past with a calm eye and gaze upon the future with confidence.

I set out to try to help my fellow man and to do what little I could to make the world a better place. Men have said bitter things about me. Still I did my job.

The future will tell more than I can about the value of my work. I leave Scientology with confidence in the hands of decent men.