Welcome to our ongoing project, where we blog a 1950 first edition of Scientology’s bible, Dianetics, with the help of ex-Scientologist, Bay Area lawyer, blogger, and author Vance Woodward. Go here for the first post in the series.
Vance, we thought the demons chapter was something. This next one, on “Psycho-Somatic Illness,” is really over the top.
Apparently feeling confident that he’s sold the “reactive mind” as a great discovery, and that the biggest threat to human beings are the engrams stored up in their cells, Hubbard now goes for broke on just what those engrams are capable of and — even more importantly — what miracles his therapy can achieve by removing them.
There’s so much in this chapter we don’t know how we’re going to get through it all. But let’s first get through the lists of illnesses that Hubbard claims are caused by engrams and that his therapy can cure (every time, without fail)…
Arthritis, dermatitis, allergies, asthma, some coronary difficulties, eye trouble, bursitis, ulcers, sinusitis…Bizarre aches and pains in various portions of the body…Migraine headaches are psycho-somatic and, with the others, are uniformly cured by dianetic therapy…the common cold has been found to be psycho-somatic. Clears do not get colds. Just what, if any, part the virus plays in the common cold is not known, but it is known that when engrams about colds are lifted, no further colds appear — which is a laboratory fact not so far contradicted by 270 cases. The common cold comes about, usually, from an engram which suggests it and which is confirmed by actual mucus present in another engram. A number of germ diseases are predisposed and perpetuated by engrams. Tuberculosis is one.
The emphasis is ours. We just wanted to highlight that Hubbard isn’t convinced that the common cold is caused by a virus — but he is convinced that “clears do not get colds” — and here, finally, on page 93 in this book, we get the first hard number describing the research he claims to have done: 270 cases. But is that 270 cases of people who had colds, and Hubbard somehow determined that their illness was caused by engrams? Or 270 people he’s examined in total? Again, Hubbard gives us no real clue to his methods.
And he’s just getting warmed up about the medical miracles which await his readers.
At the present time dianetic research is scheduled to include cancer and diabetes. There are a number of reasons to suppose that these may be engramic in cause, particularly malignant cancer. This is remarked so that attention may be given to the possibility; no tests of any kind have been made on cancer or diabetic patients, and the thought is purely theory and is not to be taken as any kind of an avowal about a cancer cure.
Yes, careful there, cowboy. You haven’t done any tests, but you feel it in your bones that you’ve got the cure to the Big C. You can’t help dangle that possibility, but even a carnival barker knows his limits.
Vance, there’s so much more here we need to go over, but at this point, what can you tell us about how this chapter affected you or the other Scientologists that you knew. Was coming down with a simple cold some kind of betrayal of Hubbard, particularly if someone was supposed to be clear?
VANCE: I made Hubbard’s big claims a little more palatable with some mental contortions of my own. I didn’t think that, for example, the germ theory of disease was wrong. I figured engrams were a contributing factor. And I interpreted all the big claims as being implicitly qualified, not absolute. So, when Hubbard says, “Clears do not get colds,” I didn’t take that as an absolute.
Where he claims that migraines, arthritis, ulcers and so on are “uniformly cured by Dianetic therapy,” I imagined he must have tracked his samples for a very short period of time afterwards, too short to prove him wrong. Same thing for the 270 people that had their cold-causing engrams lifted.
Yes, I worked rather hard to find ways so that Hubbard wasn’t a complete liar and fraud. The only real problem is that after 22 years, I ran out of money. Bummer. Anyhow, even back when I was participating, it bothered me a little that Hubbard makes these absolute-sounding pronouncements, when he must have meant something more qualified. But I lived with it, hoping that going Clear would at least be beneficial.
Scientologists fall all over the spectrum on their interpretations. But rest assured, there are plenty of Scientologists who believe utterly that, if they were Clear, they would not get any of the listed diseases. And Clears that do get those diseases are no doubt told that the solution is OT III (Xenu time). But wait, if an OT III gets sick … well you get the idea. Besides, Hubbard developed other ideas later on, like the notion that ALL sickness and accidents stem from being connected to a suppressive person (e.g., someone who would dare to suggest that Dianetics is bogus). So, these days, in Scientology, if you get sick, you usually get sent to the Scientology thought police (called Ethics) to figure out who the suppressive person is in your life that’s causing you to become sick.
THE BUNKER: Lets skip ahead, as this chapter really gets good later on.
Hubbard boils down psycho-somatic ills into five categories, and it’s worth going over them, very briefly.
The first category: ills caused by an overabundance or lack of bodily fluids.
The second: ills related to mentally affected growth, whether underdeveloped or overdeveloped body parts, including genitals.
The third: predisposition to illness from chronic pain.
The fourth: lasting illness caused by chronic pain.
The fifth: illness caused by the verbal content of engrams
Just a few pages later, Hubbard turns to sexual perversion.
The sexual pervert (and by this term dianetics, to be brief, includes any and all forms of deviation in Dynamic II such as homosexuality, lesbianism, sexual sadism, etc. and all down the catalogue of Ellis and Krafft-Ebing) is actually quite ill physically. Perversion as an illness has so many manifestations that it must be spread through the entire gamut of classes from (1) to (5) above. Overdevelopment of sexual organs, underdevelopment, seminal inhibition or magnification, etc. are found in one pervert, some in another. And the sum of it is that the pervert is always a very ill person in one way or another, whether he is conscious of it or not.
Homosexuality, overdevelopment of sexual organs, and seminal magnification. Vance, was Hubbard watching too many dirty movies, or what?
VANCE: Oh you have no idea! Well, this, I think, we can blame just as much on the times as Hubbard. This is coming in a day when homosexuality was “unquestionably” a perversion, an official psychiatric disorder. Even writing about this stuff in a non-academic book destined for us unwashed masses was, maybe, a little bold. Maybe not. I wasn’t around then, so I’m just going on my second-hand sense of American culture in 1950. Anyhow, yeah, Hubbard had plenty of issues but this focus on sexual perversion was probably more about selling books in a culture that was attempting to break free of its Victorian past than anything else. That said, it puts a lie to any notion that Hubbard was ahead of his times. Egads. I hope so, at least.
By the way, this chapter is the kind of thing that simply never gets talked about on the inside. It’s the kind of thing that you read and promptly forget. Great, there are five categories of psycho-somatic ills, and we have in one of the categories, just for example, priapism lumped in with diarrhea and sinusitis. Of what possible use could this categorization have other than to consume ink? None as far as I can tell. And sure enough, this classification system never gets mentioned again anywhere in Hubbard’s output so far as I know. And as wonkish as many Scientology addicts are, I never heard a single person say anything like, “Oh, I just alleviated a Class 2b psycho-somatic, thank goodness. That made my pecker shrink two inches such that it is no longer magnified. I’d like to thank COB for maintaining the purity of the tech.”
THE BUNKER: But the part about homosexuality being a problem that dianetics could do something about — that did stick. To this day, former church officials tell us, Scientology considers homosexuality something that needs to be “handled” through auditing. In other words, the church offers a gay cure, and members better take it, or else.
VANCE: Yeah, I think that’s about right. It occurs to me now that it’s probably not a coincidence that I joined the Born this Way Foundation after I left Scientology. As always, those in the Church high and low try to keep their finger on the pulse of the society while at the same time maintaining a drooling adherence of Hubbard’s words. That poses “difficulties” … “sometimes”. Here, it plays out that Scientoloholics simply don’t talk much about gay stuff. Correct that. Twenty years ago, gay culture was often used at fundraisers as a symptom of society’s fall into totally materialistic degradation (and why parishioners must give money now). I give an example in my book, but here’s another: I remember one fundraiser telling us about some flamboyant, limp-wristed Scientologist (judging from the impersonation we were given) who “cognited” (was audited into concluding) that he wasn’t gay but just acted gay, and who followed that up with being happily not gay and finding an oppositely-genitaled sexual partner, or something like that.
In more recent times, the attitude changed. That said, I spent three years (2007-10) very active in the San Francisco Church and knew of only one openly gay couple. The rumor was that they had been (or tried to be) audited into just being live-together best friends, friends without benefits. I rationalized this with, “The Church is merely offering to help those who don’t want to be gay not be gay. It’s not positively telling people they shouldn’t be gay.”
I didn’t see any evidence to contradict that notion. Only now does it occur to me that the story I just relayed to you is evidence of the church’s homophobia. I wasn’t looking for the evidence of anti-gay culture, and I wasn’t seeing it. I certainly wasn’t watching the news. And things like gay rights and gay culture and gay anything simply weren’t discussed at the org.
Next week — Blogging Dianetics, Part 10: Killing the Grizzly
WILL SMITH SPREADS THE LOVE AROUND
For years, Roger Friedman has kept a close watch on Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and their spending on charitable causes. As he says in a new piece, it’s puzzling to see the way the couple spreads their wealth around, funding both Christian and Scientology causes. But their generosity to the latter appears to be dwindling. “The Smiths gave $1,000 to a Scientology fund, thus taking care of Tom Cruise. It’s a steep drop from their initial checks to the cult back in the mid 2000s,” Friedman points out.
SCIENTOLOGY LOSES ITS RAINMAKER: ATTORNEY GERALD FEFFER, 1942-2013Some top former Scientology executives tell us that one of the reasons church leader David Miscavige seems unable to pull the organization out of its nosedive is that he has sorely missed the counsel of Jerry Feffer. The Washington DC lawyer was instrumental in lobbying the powerful on behalf of the church, which helped Scientology get so much help from US politicians in the 1990s. His wife, Monique Yingling, is also a top church lawyer, but she has been less visible in recent years during her husband’s illness.
Feffer died on February 13, and a couple of paid obituaries appeared at the New York Times and Washington Post a few days later. A memorial was held on February 18. But no news stories seem to have remarked on Feffer’s passing. A former federal prosecutor, Feffer was later an attorney with Williams & Connolly, an influential DC firm. Miscavige called Feffer for many different tasks. Some of them could be strange.
As we reported in December, for example, it was Feffer who Miscavige relied on to talk to Pat Broeker about his departure from Scientology in the late 1980s. (Miscavige had recently pushed Broeker out of his chance to take the helm of the church.) Miscavige had Broeker under surveillance at the time, and two private eyes were (legally) recording the phone calls he made on a cordless phone. In those conversations, they heard Feffer wrangling with Broeker over whether he could take with him L. Ron Hubbard’s pet parrot and a beat up old pickup truck.
But Feffer also was a tax expert who helped Scientology with its battle with the IRS, culminating in tax-exempt status for the church in 1993.
We asked Mike Rinder for a note about Feffer; Rinder ran Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs and helped oversee the church’s legal affairs until his defection in 2007. He sent us this…
I am saddened by his death and I was sorry when I heard he had Parkinson’s. On a personal level he was a nice guy.
I am sure he has been replaced by someone else the church is paying to be an influence broker. From that perspective, these people are relatively expendable — as long as you have money you can buy influence. I suspect the effect may be greater on Monique — hopefully it will get her to realize there are things more important in life than taking money from Miscavige to do his dirty work for him. After the IRS CID investigation was ended, Gerry was not involved in the day to day activities of Miscavige. Monique has been. If anyone warrants the title of Miscavige consigliere, it’s Monique Yingling.
Posted by Tony Ortega on February 28, 2013 at 07:00