You can either make a one-time donation to the site via Paypal...

...or you can subscribe and get billed monthly:

To join our e-mail list & get daily updates on new stories, e-mail us at
RSS Feed
Click here to add The Underground Bunker to your RSS Reader

Blogging Dianetics, Part 1: Vance Woodward Helps Us Parse L. Ron Hubbard’s Masterpiece

DianeticsStandardIn 1950, L. Ron Hubbard published the book that changed his life, transforming him from a well known writer of pulp fiction into an even more well known leader of a worldwide organization that came to be known as the Church of Scientology.

That book was Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, and for some time we’ve had plans to examine it in weekly installments, using a first edition copy of the book that was given to us by researcher Jeff Jacobsen.

Today, we launch that project, and announce the best part of our plans: we’ll be making use of the invaluable help of ex-Scientologist, Bay Area lawyer, and writer Vance Woodward.

Woodward spent more than 20 years in Scientology, read Hubbard obsessively, and recently published a remarkable memoir about his time in the church. In Addicted to Scientology: Overcoming the Ups & Downs of Scientoloholism, and at his blog, Woodward demonstrates a skill for describing and analyzing Hubbard’s arcane concepts with clarity and insight. And also, he’s a hoot.

So please join us as we take a weekly dive into the dense treat that is Dianetics.

Dianetics_First_EditionOur text, as we said, is not the hefty paperback that you will find at folding tables, being hawked on street corners by church members for $20 — the price we were quoted during a recent trip to the “org” here in New York City.

We’ll be slogging instead through the original edition that became a sensation in the summer of 1950.

And for this opening episode, we asked Vance to skip right to the first sentence of the book, which opens a ten-page section titled “Synopsis.”

Here it is, the first utterance by L. Ron Hubbard introducing his modest notion to the world…

“The creation of dianetics is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch.”

That is the import of the book we hold in our hands. Superior to the wheel.

We put it to Vance: Is it just us, or is that pretty much the dictionary definition of crackpot territory?

VANCE: Nobody would ever make a claim like that unless they had a really good reason for it, right? I suppose 1950 was a more naive era. This was a time when people mailed money orders for X-ray vision goggles.

It was also the dawn of electronic computing “brains.” Technology was advancing in real time. Anything was possible.

Could it be that scientists had completely deconstructed the human mind? That would be kind of a big deal. But who in their right mind would claim such a thing unless they had some seriously validated results?

By the way, I’m just trying to explain this from the viewpoint of a sucker. I mean myself. If any readers end up convinced that Hubbard actually developed something greater than the wheel, I take no responsibility.

THE BUNKER: Let’s back up and look at this physical object. It’s a serious-looking book (it didn’t have the volcano on the cover then), with the ponderous subtitle, “The Modern SCIENCE of Mental Health.” (Emphasis very much ours.)

That brings up an image of learned scholars in lab coats, doesn’t it? You certainly don’t get a sense from the cover that we’ll be reading about a ginned-up parlor trick that became a brief fad for bored post-war Americans who found the idea of “remembering” their experiences in the womb, séance-style, a fun time.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Still on the cover, we noticed that there’s another subtitle that the current cover no longer carries. Above Hubbard’s name are the words, “A Handbook of Dianetic Therapy.”

So even more coding for the reader that this is an established, “modern,” validated science that offers some kind of therapy for problems with mental health. And under Hubbard’s name there’s this bit of reassuring corroboration…

“Introduction by J. A. Winter, M.D.”

Winter’s intro is no longer part of the book on sale today, and perhaps we’ll get into the reason why next time. But for now, we wanted to ask you, if Hubbard was careful to create a cover that suggests a legitimate modern science, why that nutty first sentence?

By saying that his scheme — which almost no one had heard of at that point — was more important than the invention of the wheel, isn’t he giving up the game from the start? Shouldn’t any reasonable person already be running for the hills? Or is this the first of a series of brilliant gambles by a man who had made a living as a spinner of tall tales?

VANCE: Yeah, I’d figure that reasonable people would definitely select themselves out of the picture, leaving more easily beguiled folks to try out the new Dianetic therapy. And those are the same people who are more likely to perceive benefits from the therapy, wouldn’t you think?

I’m pretty sure that Hubbard lived in a mind space where subjective reality meant everything. For most people, the Emperor’s New Clothes is a statement about vanity. But for Hubbard, it was a statement of reality: if everybody believes the emperor has clothes, then the emperor has clothes.

Evidently, Hubbard had electrified Winter and John Campbell Jr., editor of Astounding Science Fiction, where a shorter version of Dianetics first appeared in the May 1950 edition. And so, maybe Hubbard was thinking, “Hey, if I’ve convinced an MD and the editor of Astounding that my therapy is worthwhile, it must be worthwhile. This must actually be important. Heck, I’ve discovered the most important thing ever. Boy, I always thought I was destined for greatness, but I never suspected I was this awesome. Holy Toledo!”

THE BUNKER: OK, but you’re suggesting here that Hubbard was buying his own good reviews from Winter and Campbell, and excitedly put out a book while thinking, my ideas are so amazing the rest of the world needs to hear them.

But isn’t there another way to look at it — that Hubbard knew he was selling the Brooklyn Bridge and that the first thing you have to do is get your mark worked up into a lather? (That he eventually ended up selling a Bridge to Total Freedom to his followers also suggests a remarkably self-aware salesman.)

VANCE: That’s the riddle. What was really going on in his mind deep down? Maybe he knew his therapy was scientifically bogus. Maybe he merely had doubts about it. Maybe he completely believed everything he said and wrote. It’s hard to know for sure, because Hubbard used language with the skill of a judo master.

Isn’t it true that the most effective salespeople have to believe in their own product? I think it’s safe to say that Hubbard quite honestly sought immortality. He wanted to be remembered as a great human being. So, he was definitely motivated to come up with the goods. Was he so motivated that he was able to trick even himself into thinking that he did come up with the goods?

Later on, Hubbard told a brief allegory having something to do with people being trapped somewhere, like in a room. One of the people discovers that the door out is simply unlocked and all anybody needs to do is walk out the door. But some of the prisoners don’t believe it and even try to prevent others from walking out the door. The room is “the trap” that Hubbard frequently referred to, and the way out is Scientology. Taking that at face value (always risky), Hubbard was saying that you should cajole, trick, mislead and otherwise force people into adopting what was for their own good. Once they see the light, their own good sense will keep them on the path to total freedom. And, deep down, he honestly believed he was doing something good. I mean, that’s him at his best! I’m sure on his darker days (most days?), he simply wanted more shoe boxes of cash to hide in his closet (because the greatest human being who ever lived deserved such things even if nobody else thought so).

Just as he could easily manipulate other people’s minds, I think he could similarly manipulate his own mind.

THE BUNKER: Well, for now, and for our own sanity, as we examine this book let’s just assume that Hubbard is on the level, and we’ll read it at face value.

Next week, we’ll quickly plow through more of Hubbard’s boasting and get to his first real assertion, the notion of a clear. Please join us!

Blogging Dianetics, part 2: The State of Clear!
Blogging Dianetics, part 3: The Meaning of Life!
Blogging Dianetics, part 4: Dynamically speaking


Links of Note

Tonight at 9 pm Eastern, several interesting women who left Scientology are participating in a live 3-hour web radio program. With Claire Headley, Lori Hodgson, and Nancy Many participating, there should be some interesting fireworks going off.

Posted by Tony Ortega on January 4, 2013 at 07:00

New to the subject? For a basic primer on Scientology, there’s this. For a light-hearted and visual look at how the church got into the crises gripping it today, check out our recent picture-story.

Former Village Voice editor Tony Ortega has written about Scientology since 1995. He’s currently working on a book about the church, and while he toils away on it he continues to monitor breaking developments around the world from an undisclosed location in an underground bunker he shares with four cats and one of them wrinkly Shar Pei dogs. Despite his super-secret security protections, you can still reach him pretty easily by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT (Drop him a line if you’d like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.) Or check in at his Facebook author page. Or follow him at Twitter: @TonyOrtega94


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • EnthralledObserver

    Ooh, cool. I’ll never likely have an opportunity to even see a copy of Dianutty, so thanks, Tony, for giving me a chance to see what crock it contains blow by blow.

    • Mrs Libnish

      It’s on Wikileaks. It is a royal piece of shit.

  • BuryTheNuts2

    A ten page synopsis?
    How Hubbardarian.

    • Observer

      Bloviating right out of the gate.

      • sugarplumfairy

        I’m loving this word bloviating.. I just asked one of the docs here to quit bloviating and just tell me what he wants.. Wish you could have seen the look I got..

        • Midwest Mom

          That word does tend to make people clam up, doesn’t it?

          • Observer

            I bet it wouldn’t have fazed Hubbard. lol

        • Poison Ivy

          Word of the day, Sugar!

    • richelieu jr

      Recipe from Old Man Hubbard’s cupboard:

      1 part Inspiration
      10 parts appropriation

      5 parts desperation
      1000k parts bloviation
      stir firmly, then add
      phenomenal dollop of Hyperbole and…

      point away from eyes…

      • BuryTheNuts2

        Yep, that tastes just right!

    • Mrs Libnish

      Indeed! 10 page synopsis = oxymoron

  • richelieu jr

    I think any writer, as they are writing has got to buy into it, the characters begin to come to life and lead you instead of vice-versa… I think Hubbard bought it, at the beginning– Not the hyperbole, but eh thought he really had seen something “Excalibur’ int he ether style, and was trying to share it… Imagine if Phil Dick had tried the same thing, instead of burying his ‘exegis’ int he back yard..

    Later, the paranoia took over, and the joy of creation, of pulling shit out of his ass and making it work, turned into fear of being found out and CYA action..

    Even today, it is mostly that first breath of inspired folderol that people respond to, then the gears of the organization click into operation and the mind control (and physical sequestration) commence…

    • John P.

      Later, the paranoia took over, and the joy of creation, of pulling shit out of his ass and making it work, turned into fear of being found out and CYA action..

      Exactly. He probably had fun grinding out the manuscript, and he did think was important but it’s only when he was mocked (i.e., called on pulling shit out of his ass) that he got deadly serious and the seeds for nastiness and brutality that form the root of the cult’s approach tot the world were laid down.

      • richelieu jr

        Exactly! I see we are indeed sympatico today on this subject, John P.

  • John P.

    Tony and Vance, thanks for a great new feature. Nothing can quite replace the craziness of the Orders of the Day from the Good Ship Apollo, but this promises to come fairly close.

    You quickly hone in on a central mystery of studying the cult of Scientology: did Hubbard actually believe his own stuff? It could easily go either way. After following Hubbard closely, I think he did, at least in the beginning. After he pulled back from day-to-day management in 1981 and until his death, I think he was questioning what he had wrought. But until that time, I think he actually believed that he was onto something. He may not literally have believed it was more important than the discovery of the wheel when he pecked out that sentence on an ancient manual typewriter, but I think he wanted it to be true at that moment.

    I also suspect that the power of belief from early followers, when he started to evolve from author of a popular book into a guru, reinforced his megalomania and malignant narcissism. That seems to be a common phenomenon of cult leaders — people who start small end up turned into basket cases by the fervency of their followers. That was something lampooned by Monty Python in Life of Brian and seems true of cult leaders ever since. The Rajneeshees in Oregon in the 1980s seemed to be a similar phenomenon, turning their guru (and some of his lieutenants) from sincere followers into something a little silly and a little threatening at the same time.

    So what is the evidence that Hubbard believed his own stuff? I think a key piece was the vehement anti-psychiatry crusade that he carried on almost from the start. If you read the early reviews of Dianetics in medical journals, they were less than kind, to put it mildly. They accused him of making it all up, and mocked him in no uncertain terms. They not only mocked his ideas but they mocked his ludicrous claims that it was based on “research.” And he devoted the rest of his life to destroying the profession. Fortunately this quixotic crusade came at the dawn of psychopharmacology (i.e., the decline of psychoanalysis and the start of the treatment of mental illness as a biochemical condition), so the ability to demonstrate the chemical basis of significant mental illness and the availability of drugs to treat moderate conditions such as depression starting with Milltown in the late 1950s, provided a bulwark against Hubbard’s efforts that meant that psychiatry is now thriving.

    As the organization grew in the 1950s and 1960s, Hubbard probably eventually became convinced that everything he did was based on brilliance rather than on simply getting lucky. I suspect strongly that he believed that his “management tech” for running the business, instead of being based on half-baked memories of the bureaucracy of the WWII Navy, was something new and dramatic, because people in the cult did what he said and stats went up. But that’s the illusion that company management in any industry faces when they’re riding a secular trend — they think it’s their brilliance that is causing the business to grow at a dizzying pace, and when the public moves on to something else, they’re powerless to reinvent the business and continue to grow. Most fad-based businesses eventually enter a death spiral. The fact that this cult has taken 30 years after Hubbard went underground to enter the final stages of circling the drain is in fact amazing. Plenty of high tech startups in Silicon Valley have boomed and busted in less than a decade (Atari in the early 1980s, for instance), so the fact that the cult has continued to limp along for so long is something of an accomplishment (not unlike a lung cancer patient coughing and wheezing along for 30 years after the doctors told him he has only a few months to live).

    • BuryTheNuts2

      Most fad-based businesses eventually enter a death spiral. The fact that this cult has taken 30 years after Hubbard went underground to enter the final stages of circling the drain is in fact amazing.

      Isn’t that the truth. Everything about the Scientology “business model” appears to be a fail….and yet they have managed to amass a good amount of wealth and somehow stay afloat decades longer than they should have.
      Watching it solely from a ‘business’ perspective…it is a really bizarre thing to behold.

      • Observer

        The difference between Scn and other fad-based businesses–and it *is* a business, out to make maximum $–is the mental conditioning. It’s amazing how far artificially-induced fervor can take you.

    • richelieu jr

      Very well-put, and very close to my own belief on the psychology (pardon the term) behind Scientology’s beginnings and metastasis…
      I thin the fanatical application of his business ‘tech’ to his own business shows his belief in what he was shilling, as you so perceptively point out…

      I would, however, argue that the crusade against psychology can cut just as well the other way and it can be argued that this fanatical opposition came from the fact that they were the one saying the emperor had no clothes… For me it comes pretty close to shouting, ‘No, you’re the liar!’ over and over again…

    • Vistaril

      I’m not sure whether L Ron Hubbard eventually came to believe in his own bullshit – except maybe in his last months when largely isolated and wracked with insanity – but he certainly did “get lucky” with Dianetics. In the lead up to the original “treatise” being published in a science fiction magazine, L Ron Hubbard was running his “Federation of Atomic Scientists” (which eventually morphed into the “Allied Scientists of the World”) mail fraud scam. I think its reasonable to assume Dianetics was something of an attempt to lend credibility to that criminal enterprise rather than anything altruistic. There’s ample evidence to show that L Ron Hubbard never did any “research” that could even loosely be termed “scientific” and was, even into the early 1950s, only ever one step ahead of his creditors. But, wow, did L Ron Hubbard get his timing right. The United States in the late 40s early 50s was a quite different place. Technological and scientific advances in all fields – perhaps spurred along by government funding of the war effort – created an air of “anything’s possible” and Dianetics almost immediately became something of a “hula hoop for the mind”. Game on.

      And, yes, indeed, that Scientology has managed to circle the drain for 30 years really is an accomplishment. I’m not sure, however, a comparision between business and Scientology can be valid. Atari, for example, didn’t have reams of blackmail material on all its customers nor a rolodex filled with the names of malfeasant public officials nor one of the nation’s most effective intelligence agencies willing to destroy its “enemies”. The better comparison might be with the Mafia. In fact, IMHO, L Ron Hubbard has a deserved place in the annals of history as the most successful individual US criminal of the 20th Century.

      • Your point about the reams of blackmail material is well taken and probably best explains the CO$’s longevity. Remember that Hubbard developed his system at the height of McCarthyism when association with anything remotely connected with Communism led to blacklisting and that he sought out actors at a time when the “studio system” was still operating and revelation of an actor’s homosexuality or problem with drug addiction would have destroyed the actor’s career (the movie “L.A. Confidential” gives a great view of what was happening at the time).

        • Vistaril

          Fer sure. L Ron Hubbard was not in any way adverse to making use of the FBI to malign his enemies. As early as March 5 1951, he wrote to the FBI advising that he was collecting his members’ finger prints for the Bureau’s use. Over the years, L Ron Hubbard wrote many letters to the FBI denouncing people as communists.

          • Captain Howdy

            Yeah, L Ron Hubbard and Whitey Bulger, a couple of snitches who never got the stitches they deserved.

      • John P.

        I was working from memory on the date he went underground; I didn’t look it up.

        Though he was working through messenger communications, running an organization as complex as the cult while in hiding via sending messengers back and forth from Hemet to Creston to drop off and pick up orders does not look like “hands on” management. So even if he thought he was right on top of things via reels of tape issuing bloviating statements, he wasn’t. One of the key things that (competent and effective) top management does in any company of any size is spend a lot of time checking on things to make sure that he is not getting spoon-fed a rosy picture of the organization that is too sanitized by his close lieutenants. When you’re in hiding and you get a package from your messengers once a week and it takes you a week to turn around responses to what you got in last week’s package, you’re not really able to make important decisions that need making in the time frame that people might need them. And you are totally pwned by the people who decide what goes in your weekly packet, since there is no way for you to find out anything else about what’s going on.

        So while Hubbard may have thought he was actively managing the organization, and while his lieutenants may have told everyone that the “Old Man” is still firmly at the helm, the reality could not have been anything like that. In effect, he had backed off from running the organization, no matter what he or anyone else thought.

        And you’re right about the key difference enabling the cult to survive for 30 years when other fad-based businesses like Atari quickly turned to dust and went away: the cult’s hooks run far deeper than even most other cults as far as extracting every last dollar from the members… I like your comparison with the Mafia — that organization peaked in the US a long, long time ago. Today, while Mafia types occasionally put out “hits” on each other, they’re nowhere near as dangerous as, say, the Mexican drug cartels, or even the average street gang in any major city.

        • InTheNameOfXenu

          I’m enjoying this conversation stream between Vistaril and yourself. It is truly enlightening and educational. You both write very well also.

          • joan nieman

            I have spent hours reading Tony,s blogs. Who has time to read a book?

        • Vistaril

          Many thanks, Mr P. As always, nourishing food for thought.

          I’m wary of the on-going attempts by others (not yourself) to rewrite history so as to distance L Ron Hubbard from accountability. I suspect his last few years will remain shrouded for ever and, alas, in the absence of DOX, it does become a matter of some speculation and belief in the testimony of those who were there, people like David Mayo, Gerry Armstrong and Jesse Prince.

          At this stage, I remain unconvinced that L Ron Hubbard’s instructions did not drive the actions of Scientology up until at least 1985, but accept he may not have been aware of the (dare I say it) “gradient” shift in power taking place over the final few years. I can easily imagine his lieutenants applying the strictures of the “Simón Bolivar Policy” (HCOPL 12 February 1967) which, in effect, says “if you need to kill some some people to get the job done then kill them, just don’t tell me about it”. So, while the details may not have been forwarded to him, L Ron Hubbard would have been well aware of the consequences of his instructions. I would point out that nothing which was said or done during the 1980s – or since – is outside of his written policies and/or own personal example. L Ron Hubbard’s instructions were coming through more than just once a week and he personally handled various “capers” including the August 1982 kidnapping of David Mayo and the development of his “running programme”. It seems even more incredible than is usual for Scientology that L Ron Hubbard would not take a concentrated interest in what was happening, especially as it related to the legal situation. Did he really not know about his own son Nibs’ attempts at habeas corpus? Did he not personally instruct that the Ability Center be dealt to? I dunno, but seems unlikely.

          Still,maybe its true, maybe L Ron Hubbard didn’t have a clue what was going on after 1983. I can go with that as a possibility. Doesn’t say much for him being so mighty a spiritual being, let alone Mankind’s Greatest Friend, though. Mind you, nothing in his biography says much in favour of that.

        • When I was working in New York I had first hand experience dealing with the Mafia…. it was pretty terrifying – more for my NY friends than me as I just couldn’t take it quite as seriously as them. I’m too tired to go into details but if I’m prodded from time to time I might tell the story… off topic but it it’s quite a doozey of a tale.

      • ze moo

        Hubbard shut down the Allied Scientists of the World scam very quickly. Even in the 50’s, postal inspectors were fearsome.

      • InTheNameOfXenu

        The ‘gas’ that has kept Scientology chugging for these past decades was it’s fanatical-based ideology followed by middle and upper class. This group had the money to keep this thing going. In recent times this money pool has dried up. How much more can the IAS reg from the people left behind?

        • joan nieman

          That is correct. People want to believe the unbelievable…and will even pay money for it! That is so true what you stated about the upper and middle class, easily conned with stars in their eyes. Pity.

    • Poison Ivy

      Tony and Vance, this is a brilliant new feature! Fun and also smart. Tony, thank you for alway pushing the envelope of the Scientology Rabbit Hole.

      And John P, excellent analysis as always. You write:

      “…when he started to evolve from author of a popular book into a guru, reinforced his megalomania and malignant narcissism. That seems to be a common phenomenon of cult leaders — people who start small end up turned into basket cases by the fervency of their followers.”

      Ah, so true! It takes a strong, inborn sense of humility to withstand the kind of accolades that fame brings with it. Hubbard had none of this – no evidence of him possessing any humility even as a child. I have seen this so much – so very often – with people in my profession (entertainment; media)…There’s a phenomenon called “Aquired Narcissim,” but in my experience, there’s also a group of people who start out with a narcissism that may not be as apparent to others as long as life is going along in a somewhat ordinary way. Then – BOOM! – they’re famous; the yes-men and women come around, and this character trait appears with roaring fury. What’s interesting about these people is, that characteristic then doesn’t seem to fade back into apparent normalcy when fame fades (or hard times hit) – it flares up even more, to the point often of becoming pathological. Look at Hubbard’s narcissistic rage whenever challenged. A word of criticism and he became even more sure of his rightness and everyone else’s wrongness.

      IMHO, Hubbard, like so many of narcissists, may not have believed in Dianetics per se, so much as in his own genius and superiority. Why should he have to do real “research” like other, lesser “scientists”? Why should he have to waste his time getting his own PhD when he could simply buy one – he was clearly deserving of the degree. I think he believed every thought he had, every word out of his mouth was inspired, ergo Dianetics was brilliant and the truth and the answer to all ills. Note, Scientology and Dianetics aren’t only useful for specific life problems – they are THE only answer to EVERYTHING, ALWAYS! This is such a reflection of Hubbard’s megalomania.

      • “Hubbard, like so many of narcissists, may not have believed in Dianetics per se, so much as in his own genius and superiority”.

        That is a great insight. He could push the BS without fully having to believe it because he, the superior genius, was the one expounding it and ipso facto anything he said was of value to the followers.

  • JustCallMeMary

    I love it!! What a duo you two make, lol!!

  • Ohhhh, this is gonna be fun! Vance is a riot. If you guys haven’t read his book yet, get a copy. It’s hilarious and frustrating. Guys got a mind like a bear trap, my memories of my own personal merry-go-round in the cult are all squishy.
    When I sold DN books they were only $2.00. You could get $2.00 out of anyone back then, bookselling was easy. I doubt it got read many times though.

    • richelieu jr

      Excellent as a door stop.

      Just sayin’….

      • They werent as thick back then and actually sucked as door stops.

        • richelieu jr

          Good to know!

    • Last time someone tried to sell me a Dianetics book, they wanted $500. It was one of those fancy “special editions”.

      • BosonStark

        Titanium cover?

      • I honestly can’t believe how arrogant I was selling those books. I am not a naturally arrogant person, and really at that time didn’t tend to speak at all unless spoken to. But in my bookselling valence I could get through any gate, that’s how I met Gunter Gable Williams and his cats. That is propbably the greatest gain I got from SCN. Gunter loved his cats and took good care of them, something I saw first hand.

  • Growing up in a house groaning with books, they were everywhere as my parents were avid readers, I do remember an early copy of ‘Dianetics’ which my father had bought.

    He didn’t have a high opinion of it because of the pomposity of the author’s introduction he told me. Dad was a plain-speaking person who didn’t like boasters and expressed his opinions strongly, unlike my mother who could be more tactful when she felt like it which was not always.

    Yet Dad was fond of Immanuel Velikovsky’s books and enjoyed Erich von Däniken’s curious ideas about extraterrestrial influences on early human culture which I was rather more sceptical about. But he was not interested in L Ron Hubbard’s offering. So, for him, Dianetics had no resonance. Nor did it for me.


    • LongNeckGoose

      Velikovsky’s “Worlds In Collision” was on the best-seller list at the same time as “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.” (1950)

  • sugarplumfairy

    Wow! great idea.. I’ve tried reading it, but after only a few paragrahs, i get flusterated and want to smack somebody..

    And IMO lrh was a pathological lily gilder.. It would take a lot to convince me he sincerely believed his own hype..

    • Skwerl King

      The first and only attempt at reading Dianetics, I got about 1/3 the way through the book, couldn’t stand the quackery in it anymore and threw it in the trash. Pure crap.

      • BuryTheNuts2

        I really have nothing to say Skwerl….I just wanted to put our Skwerl pictures together for a family portrait.

  • Sid Snakey

    If people haven’t read it, I highly recommend “A piece Of Blue Sky” by Jon Atack, easily found and downloaded. The book contains quite a lengthy discussion of the personality of Hubbard, including opinions from several experts.

    One that stood out for me was the following quote:- “Cranks by definition believe their theories, and charlatans do not, but this does not prevent a person from being both crank and charlatan.”

    I think the interview David Mayo gave to Russel Miller is telling. He describes a time when Hubbard was extremely ill, and Dr Denk was prescribing him anti-coagulants because they were worried he was going to have a stroke. Mayo describes how Hubbard felt his condition was due to some “bad auditing” he had received, and Mayo gave him several short sessions of auditing every day for a month until he had recovered. That would appear to be the behavior of a crank.

    • Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack

      That’s how it works. If you get better you give the credit to Scientology. If you get worse, you blame it on the suppressives.

  • Cheshire

    I’m of the opinion that Hubbard was 100% charlatan at the beginning, and slowly over the years began to lose himself in the false reality he constructed.

    I have long suspected he was profoundly influenced by Orwell’s “1984,” which was published the year before Dianetics, in 1949. Hubbard’s practices have so many similarities with the mind control techniques of “Big Brother” that it is uncanny.

    It’s also the case that Hubbard was a master hypnotist and dabbled in Satanism, so the issues of control, domination, and creating slaves were very high on his priority list, if not at the top. I don’t think he EVER wanted to help people, but rather wanted to control them.

    • Captain Howdy

      “I have long suspected he was profoundly influenced by Orwell’s “1984,” ”

      Yes and he totally identified with the antagonist. “O’Brien”, 1984 is my favorite novel and there were times — dark times — when I read it and agreed with O’Brien’s pov.

  • Emily

    I can’t seem to find it on Youtube, but does anyone else remember the bit where Stephen Colbert sat behind his desk and read from Dianetics? No snarky asides, no commentary; he simply read a few paragraphs out loud, word for word. The audience was in stitches with laughter.

  • jensting

    “Yeah, I’d figure that reasonable people would definitely select
    themselves out of the picture, leaving more easily beguiled folks to try
    out the new Dianetic therapy”

    That makes sense. In the same way that Nigerian e-mail scams are so over-the-top : anyone silly enough to not detect the underlying stupidity is more likely to swallow the whole concept.

    Thanks for this promising start, I’m a fan of Vance’s book and this is looking like the beginning of a nice series of articles.

  • BosonStark

    The Emperor wears the new clothes out of vanity, but that is only one element of the story. In Andersen’s tale, the subjects are made to believe that the suit of clothes is invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. That is the part that is especially applicable to Dianutty and the people who choose to believe in it.

    It was the two weavers who used the Emperor’s vanity for personal gain. In essence, Hubbard was the weaver of his own clothes and the clothes he wanted his followers, and the whole world to wear — “clear,” (invisible clothes?) and OT.

    Why do clams wear these new clothes? Because often they want to hold their position (in the cult, or on the bridge), and not appear stupid or incompetent.

    So, Hubbard equated vanity — his own and each member’s personal vanity — with reality. What is true, is what is true for you, and you are everything — all that matters. And, you are all that matters, because YOU ARE A SCIENTOLOGIST. It’s a contradiction and a loop. Clams love embracing that type of thing. Most people don’t.

  • California

    LRH was not alone in thinking that he had something of value back in the 1950’s. Remember, the military was looking for ways to improve mental acuity and endurance and they tried a number of different programs, at Ft. Meade, around Las Vegas, NV and elsewhere throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, including variations of self-help programs like Dianetics and this gave credibility to many of the programs that were tried.

    My late Dad used to talk about that period of time to me when I was first interested in the whole mind-set around alternative “therapies” ….. and said he had heard of Hubbard in that context when he was in the military. I wish now that I had questioned him further.

    • BuryTheNuts2

      There was a book from the 40’s(?)…called “The Magic of Believing” by Bristol.

      I would bet that this book was one of LRH’s go to manuals for his own direct theft.

      I am still looking for one truly original idea that came from Hubbard..
      Oh wait….XENU….Nevermind!

  • dagobarbz

    “… reasonable people would definitely select themselves out of the picture…”

    That would be me. I tried reading this egregious POS in college, thanks to a Scientologist in my botany class. I approached it as I imagine a new OTIII might feel upon being presented with the locked briefcase. Possibly all the answers I ever wanted (and after all, it IS the “manual for the human mind) were in this book until I opened it and started trying to read it. Do you know, it actually had me questioning my own reading comprehension skills! The turgid, convoluted paragraphs had me rereading them, trying to get the gist of what he was trying to say.
    My conclusion went like this:
    This book is incomprehensible, therefore;
    Either I can’t read or Hubbard couldn’t write a lucid sentence to save his life.
    I am taking botany, the book is bigger than Dianetics, way more specialized, and I have no problem understanding it.
    Therefore, the proper conclusion must be that I am not the problem, Hubbard’s writing was the problem.
    I got an A in botany.
    I did not go for a Free Personality Test and join the cult. In fact, I was so annoyed at this book, I jumped on the opportunity for revenge for the hours I wasted muddling around with that dank tome.

    I did find that it’s a dandy soporific; more than once I woke up trailing drool into that library book.

    • Observer

      Isn’t “reasonable” some kind of horrible epithet in Scientology?

    • BosonStark

      Before I started haunting used book stores, where I saw dozens of copies of Dianutty, and thought to myself that people must really like dumping that dated book of cuckoo, I was about 14 when I saw it in a mall store in the late 60’s. Then, it was different. I was curious.

      I thought it was really intriguing from the cover but when I checked out the date of original publication of this “modern science,” I just thought if it was so earth shattering, wouldn’t everyone be talking about it, like on TV and things? Even for it’s size, I thought it was overpriced, and then when I started reading while in the store, I just thought no, no, no!

      If I were going to read something about the mind, I wanted to read something that was an expansion of theories or research that was readable — not some individualist with a small cult of followers who was writing in what struck me as some nutty convoluted made-up language of 1950.

  • Bob

    A great part of the attraction was that you could read the book and try it out with others. I have subjective reality myself in seeing how it helped others and have heard many anecdotes from people who truly felt they were immeasurably helped by running Dianetics. This was a huge factor in its initial success. Hubbard was very active in gathering up sessions that were written up and studying these. So from all accounts he really believed he had something important to share with the world.

    • Hubbard found, or more likely stole, methods and processes that resonated with people. Jason Beghe had a powerful spiritual experience early on, and hypnotic regression therapy is still being used today. Hubbard codified it into a rigid system which he used not to free people, but to lock them in another prison.

      I also have to say that when I read Dianetics in the 80’s, I was put off by the whole tone of the book, expecially the misogyny.

      • Bob

        At the time it came out it was not rigid. It was wild and woolley and experimental. The prison system was not really seriously implemented until the early 80’s.

        • Observer

          I think some kids who were locked in the Apollo’s chain locker may disagree with you on that.

          • Bob

            I was only referring to Dianetics and how it was being used by the public who bought the book. I am well aware of the SO issues and many other grievous acts of idiocy.

        • Bob, your post made me remember this story told by Krishnamurti:

          You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, “What did that man pick up?” “He picked up a piece of the truth,” said the devil. “That is a very bad business for you, then,” said his friend. “Oh, not at all,” the devil replied, “I am going to help him organize it.”

          Seems to me this process happens in most religions and spiritual practices. Resulting in varying levels of control and abuse, of which Scientology is one of the most egregious examples.

          • Bob

            Dianne, Great story and well put. I have observed all manner of incompetence and evil acts done in the name of policy and the organization. But in most cases it is the sheer stupidity and desperateness of the individuals who have carried out the acts. When those type of people end up at the top of the food chain the the organization slowly but surely starts to devour it tail then its lower extremities, etc. etc. and destroy anyone around it who tries to come to its aid.

    • dagobarbz

      “A great part of the attraction was that you could read the book and try it out with others”

      Kind of like my vertebrate zoology class. Then I found out dissecting my classmates was kind of frowned upon.

      • John P.

        Far better to fantasize about dissecting classmates in vertebrate zoology class than to follow the same “try this out and impress your friends” principle in an animal husbandry class.

  • Artoo45

    Did he believe his own dreck? I think that there’s education in listening to the Emperor’s own voice as he cuts his fanciful garments from whole (imagined) cloth. When I was composing “What’s the Matter With You Hat?” and “Space Station 33” I listened to hours of Philadelphia Lecture recordings to deliberately mine some of his more outrageous quotes like the ever popular, “there is no christ,” and “you ever wonder how a negro, you know, down south close to the soil, talks to inanimate objects . . .”.
    What I find revealing is Hubbard’s alterntely folksy, then suddenly grandiose style of speaking, his obvious glee at holding court and getting a laugh, and his vast (if somewhat unsophisticated) inventiveness. There are moments in the tapes, especially the “Space Station 33” material, where I swear you can hear him making shit up on the fly, like a toddler spinning an ever more ludicrous story about the monster that broke the lamp in the living room. You can hear him judging the audience’s reaction to a hyperbolic statement, then, emboldened by his last lie, pinch out an even bigger one. These whoppers are delivered with a very casual, nonchalant, “oh, that old thing” sort of delivery *cough, cough, freightrainsonvenus*, often in a cadence that bears more than a passing resemblance to Daffy Duck’s.

    While “What’s The Matter With You Hat?” was a hodge podge of quotes from many different lectures, “Space Station 33” is almost entirely unaltered, with gems like: “. . . now, I don’t care, you can say I’m telling you fairy tales about this sort of thing—we’ll not worry about the credulity or incredulity of the data . . .” and “well, now as far a the reality of this stuff is concerned, it’s not generally been accepted here on Earth . . . I thought this was a good gag, so I wrote a lot of it (sci-fi) . . .”. I never had to change the meaning of a single line to make the piece more entertaining, save for the last word of the last line . . .

    “. . . you wouldn’t dare write real science fiction, not, real science fiction (long dramatic pause) nobody’s guts could take it . . . that’s all there is to it, in the first place, it’s not fiction, and it really isn’t science.”

    Okay, I did add the Marvin the Martian parts . . . but come on, who could resist?

  • Artoo45

    Did he believe his own dreck? I think that there’s education in listening to the Emperor’s own voice as he cuts his fanciful garments from whole (imagined) cloth. When I was composing “What’s the Matter With You Hat?” and “Space Station 33” I listened to hours of Philadelphia Lecture recordings to deliberately mine some of his more outrageous quotes like the ever popular, “there is no christ,” and “you ever wonder how a negro, you know, down south close to the soil, talks to inanimate objects . . .”.
    What I find revealing is Hubbard’s alterntely folksy, then suddenly grandiose style of speaking, his obvious glee at holding court and getting a laugh, and his vast (if somewhat unsophisticated) inventiveness. There are moments in the tapes, especially the “Space Station 33” material, where I swear you can hear him making shit up on the fly, like a toddler spinning an ever more ludicrous story about the monster that broke the lamp in the living room. You can hear him judging the audience’s reaction to a hyperbolic statement, then, emboldened by his last lie, pinch out an even bigger one. These whoppers are delivered with a very casual, nonchalant, “oh, that old thing” sort of delivery *cough, cough, freightrainsonvenus*, often in a cadence that bears more than a passing resemblance to Daffy Duck’s.

    While “What’s The Matter With You Hat?” was a hodge podge of quotes from many different lectures, “Space Station 33” is almost entirely unaltered, with gems like: “. . . now, I don’t care, you can say I’m telling you fairy tales about this sort of thing—we’ll not worry about the credulity or incredulity of the data . . .” and “well, now as far a the reality of this stuff is concerned, it’s not generally been accepted here on Earth . . . I thought this was a good gag, so I wrote a lot of it (sci-fi) . . .”. I never had to change the meaning of a single line to make the piece more entertaining, save for the last word of the last line . . .

    “. . . you wouldn’t dare write real science fiction, not, real science fiction (long dramatic pause) nobody’s guts could take it . . . that’s all there is to it, in the first place, it’s not fiction, and it really isn’t science.”

    Okay, I did add the Marvin the Martian parts . . . but come on, who could resist?

    • sugarplumfairy

      I’m lazy today.. (ok, most days..) could you link us up?

      • Artoo45

        Sorry about the double post! Here are the links, Karl Blumenthal kindly did the video for my first composition and I did the second one myself.

        • BuryTheNuts2

          I bow to the greatness of “WTMWYH”

          • Artoo45

            Thanks. I think mockery is the only real weapon agains the cult. Their utter humorlessness leaves them with no weapons to defend it. And you don’t ever need to make any shit up, just let Hubbard do all the heavy lifting for you . . .

            • Observer

              Now I have ” the next guhLAXy over” playing on a loop in my head …

            • Artoo45

              I know. The next guhLAXy over, like it’s next door. His grasp of large numbers was feeble to say the least.

            • richelieu jr

              Good fun.. Nice use of the man’s own words…- I wonder if he ever got a line of the people who copied the DC8 design from the space-plane’s?

          • sugarplumfairy

            Ditto here! thanks, Artoo!

    • Captain Howdy

      You created “What’s The Matter With Your Hat ? and “Space Station 33” ?

      • Artoo45

        Yes, sir. That was me.

        • Midwest Mom

          Bravo! Bravo!

  • ze moo

    bloviating present participle of blo·vi·ate

    Verb Talk at length, esp. in an inflated or empty way.

    Dianetics in the beginning was a conglomeration of hypnotism, Freudian talk therapy and e meter mumbo jumbo with a large dose of 40’s and 50’s advertising thrown in. People were still fascinated with Hitler and later with the brain washing Korean pows suffered. The emeters induced monomania produced ‘wins’ that hooked a percentage of people who were exposed to it. They became the loyal followers who sold Dianetics to the masses. If the 50k maximum number of scamatologists is accurate, Lrons philosophy didn’t ever hit the big time. Most people can smell a con, even a well crafted one.

    Lron left his personal fortune (at least 10 million, I have heard more was involved) to his ‘archive’ project. He wanted his words engraved in rust proof metal for all time for all people. He believed his own BS and that is a sign of egomania. Throw in Xenu and his Smersh/communist paranoia and you have full blown schizophrenia. His basic ‘discovery’ engrams, have been thoroughly discredited by every professional who ever studied how the brain worked. Of course Lron was paranoid, everyone who knew anything thought he was a quack.

    I think of Lron as a later day Ozymandias, his works will be a joke in the near future. People will study why scamatology lived as long as it did. Scamatology survives because there are always people who can be loved bombed and confused into believing almost anything. The number of people who can be conned into scamatology is dropping very quickly, our schools are doing some things right. With the internet and stories of CO$ abuse and silliness all around, who will be willing to even go into a CO$ operation? Only the clueless or those who can be manipulated easily. Why pay 700k for the same mental training you can get from a Dale Carnegie course or a ‘life coach’?

    • Skwerl King

      It is not the clueless, but a combination of factors including a willingness to “give it a try” and “what can it hurt?” A friend of mine years ago went down and did the personality test for a college project on religion. He knew it was a hook to get you in, but wanted to get some first hand knowledge. He was fair and wrote a report about the techniques they used. The CIA took a long look at brainwashing and concluded that the best brainwashers were the Moonies, Scientologists and North Koreans. Basically they were all using the same tactics of love bombing, hypnosis and group definition. The CIA also discovered that an unwilling person cannot be brainwashed, hence they could not design a “manchurian candidate”.

      • ze moo

        Did your friend join CO$? If he didn’t, he had a clue. I used ‘clueless’ to differentiate between people who can see the manipulation and those who can’t see it. A skilled body router can overcome a lot of objections. The con can be very seductive to a lot of people. Lrons self-reinforcing system is the model a lot of cults employ. I’d admire the guy, but for his bloviating.

        • richelieu jr

          He found out early that he was only fertile when he was bloviating, so he never stopped again…

    • q-bird

      Oh I am so enjoying today’s conversation so much people!

      And Ze moo I love love love this image:

      on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”

      beside remains: round the decay

      that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

      lone and level sands stretch far away.

  • Mrs Libnish

    Loved your book Vance…you have an obsession with vaginas but all in all, very entertaining. I don’ t know how many times I yelled at you in my head “don’t do it…NO, not again!”

    • BuryTheNuts2

      Mrs L, are you imagining the impact of this weekly dose of dissected Dianutty….with the initial yuks supplied by Vance W. and Tony O.?

      And then we get to take it from there?

      DIANUTTY: The Medieval Skills of Muddled Heads

  • Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack

    I read it and got sucked in in my late teens.

    As an adult I bought the 1973 edition at a yard sale for a quarter. I reread it, using a blue highlighter to note every claim. He had made a lot of specific claims which, on first reading, just washed over me, giving me the feeling that most problems were psychosomatic and with Scientology I would realize my true abilities.

    Had blue highlighters been invented back when I first read it I think I would have never gone into Scientology. Blue highlighters– Every bit as powerful as Anonymous, the Internet, the Time cover story or Praise to the good people over at Avery-Dennison.

    • BosonStark

      This is where the Emperor’s new clothes come in again. People thought Dianutty had meaning, because so many people bought the book, and thought it was groundbreaking or important, even if they didn’t know WTF it meant or how it worked. It was to be respected because it was in the open for all to read yet almost unreadable, so therefore a secret.

      There could never be any open discussion of it, because too many of those blue highlighted lines would come up.

      The secret has been shattered through testimonies by ex-members and especially mutilated by the real life of Hubbard himself. Dianutty did not help him communicate with his son Quentin — quite the opposite. It forced Quentin to suicide. It didn’t help Hubbard with his physical pains and problems nor did it give him the secret to “controlling the aging process” as he claimed.

      Today when pretty much all religions give away their holy books for free at least on the Internet, is Dianutty still being sold? One of the reasons is that Scientology is something you BUY into, in every sense. Once you’ve bought into it, by buying Dianutty, or walking into an Org, or working for them for shit wages, you’re “invested.” That means something to many people and Hubbard knew that.

      • Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack

        Thanks for your response. Looking back I remember questioning perfect memory and was told, “That is perfect memory while being audited”. It says no such thing about while being audited. But it does say twice that you will gain perfect memory. I remember being told that it was poor manners to question clears about their attributes so I didn’t question them. I remember being told that I should “want” to be clear because it was poor motivation. Better motivation would be wanting improvement.

        What I believe now is that parts of it can do some good, as can the mid century psychotherapy much of it was cribbed from. Large parts of it can do genuine harm mostly by deluding the reader. It was baloney designed to make money for L.Ron. I also think that had Hubbard not added the big lies about perfect memory, perfect vision, increased IQ, curing all sorts of diseases and all the other things I have highlighted, it would be remember simply as an early self help book. It also would have sold very few copies because it is meandering, fluffy and really not the manual for application as it claims to be.

    • richelieu jr

      Beautifully put!

  • Midwest Mom

    From Midwest Mom’s “Groovy Words for Groovy People”:

    Bloviate Union – the result of merging of the Church of Scientology and the Nation of Islam.

  • stillgrace

    It’s very telling that the “Look inside” offered by Amazon for “Dianetics” consists mostly of:

    1. The history of Dianetics (not written by LRH and obvious PR, for example, a listing of all LRH’s books, all the available languages of translations, many pictures of Ron and international orgs, and pages and pages of instructions of how to find a local Dianetics auditor).

    2. Information about the author (again, more PR, I spotted lies and misleading statements … for example: LRH “enrolled” in one of the first classes on nuclear physics, makes no mention of the fact that he received a grade of “F”).

    3. Pages and pages of glowing testimonials, mostly from celebrities and semi-celebrities.

    4. A complete glossary of terms LRH doesn’t think we can or will understand.

    One can get some real text of the book by hitting the “Surprise Me” to get a feel for the denseness of LRH’s writing style. I now realize why I never actually read the whole book. I received vastly superior summaries from my friends, with edited versions to keep things palatable.

    Here’s a sentence from page 245: “One could not say, offhand, that an able hypnotist or an able psychologist, ready and willing to jettison and unlearn yesterday’s mistakes, is not better prepared to practice Dianetics.”
    … what?

    Don’t be misled by the high Amazon ratings for this book. Most of the five star ratings are from obvious Ronbots and readers just having a little fun. Here’s one of my favorites:

    By Cluster “BT”

    This review is from: Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health (English) (Paperback)

    “I thought I would never find the way.

    After trying to read this book over and over, I finally realized that a mere mortal such as myself was not meant to really understand the writings of the genius Lron. Even though I did not comprehend one word of the unreadable ramblings of this obvious charlatan, I realized some amazing wins!

    1. My ass immediately became smaller.

    2. I was able to bake cookies!

    3. I could communicate with all the ashtrays in my home!

    4. My car repainted itself!

    5. I longed to work 16 hour days for little pay!

    6. I severed my legs at the ankles to match the height of COB and TC!

    Please read this book. It will change your life!”

    • Midwest Mom

      These reviews remind me of the ones for sugar plumb fairy’s book, “Dietetics: The Modern Science of Edible Wealth”, when she was on that kick about starting her own cult.

      • stillgrace

        LOL. Who knows? Cluster “BT” is probably one of us.

    • Stillgrace: Never having perused a copy of Dianetics, I, like Eve tempted by the lure of forbidden fruit, just went on Amazon. The “look inside” section consisted of a part of the “Introduction: How to Read this Book” and “Book 1, Chapter 1: The Scope of Dianetics”. I can hardly wait for our own Dante and Virgil (Tony and Vance) to guide us through this Inferno that contains such gems as “This volume has made no effort to use resounding or thunderous phrases”, a claim almost immediately contradicted by “A science of mind is a goal that has engrossed thousands of generations of man. Armies, dynasties and whole civilizations have perished for the lack of it.”

      • stillgrace

        Did you like the “China now bleeds for the need of it?” I did!

        • Yes. He did seem to be obsessed by China, didn’t he?

  • DeElizabethan

    Interesting person Vance is and a great interview you had with him. Always find new stuff and stories, love it. Dianetics was the first book I read back in about 1969. I had previously read psycho cybernetics, not sure of spelling, and it was interesting. Dianetics however gave me more hope to find a therapy or course of “how to” help self and others. To get some results and answers to my questions of the why’s. Then a few years later, when in an area of a center found back of the book, I checked it out.

    • richelieu jr

      I hope you haven’t held it against all books…

  • TheHoleDoesNotExist

    Dianetics class every Friday now? Oh, good. I needed a day off from blogdom, so Friday it is. Um, Hubbard learned to con in high school when he realized he had a growing list of mental “issues”. He learned storytelling as a fine art from his family which probably saved him from the asylum and boosted his con artist ranking early on. Dianetics was a little bit of this and a pinch of that, pinch as in ripped off and a desperate writer’s attempt to make some cash. He always had many categories of people trying to find him, why he was always running off to do some “research”. There were many engineer types and artists that were keenly interested, but within a few months to a few years, they get wise to what it is: little bit of this, pinch of that, an unscientific stew. When it was all but dead in the water, he invented his version of Ethics and then the Sea Org and GO to add a whole new level of “persuasion” once he realized the blackmail goldmine he could harvest.

    Here’s a few links that are enlightening. “Dianetics in Limbo”, first link, answers the question: Hubbard, Sham Artist or Madman…(yes, and yes) by one of his original fans.

    “The “source” for this is Dr William Sargant’s late 40’s manuscript(note) (not published until 55 or so) “Battle for the Mind a physiology of conversion and brainwashing.

    Note: After all the newspaper articles surrounding the 1995 raid, RTC vs
    Lerma, I got a telephone call from an older man, who indicated that he
    was in a hospital near Norfolk, where Hubbard was for a while, and a
    visiting “clinician” was passing out copies of his paper to the
    patients, and Hubbard used that one for Dianetics (after turning the
    principals it inside out, – example- in Abnormal reaction Therapy, it is
    ok for the patient to imagine an incident, but you NEVER tell
    them that stuff is real like Hubbard did to us and we called it ‘space
    opera”) And… Dr William Sargant, the head of British Psychiatry
    happened to be a visiting a nearby College at the time, and was,
    incidentally, a “clinician”….”

    • BuryTheNuts2

      From that first link from Helen O’Brien:

      “He called Dianetics an engineering
      approach to the human mind.”

      Prescient narration of his ultimate motive perhaps?

      • TheHoleDoesNotExist

        No, scammers know their audience. The 50’s was the Age of Gullible. I remember the shrill whistle signalling the Nuclear Drill where we kids had to dive under our desks. Adults believed this would protect us. Also, Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver were successful TV shows because of millions of gullible families. We were far from arriving at the Moon, so science fiction was still “anything goes”, and eventually the space race fueled everyone’s imagination. So there were plenty of engineers in a number of industries as well as other professionals who jumped into the hubbard thrall. It wasn’t just bored housewives waiting for the Dyson and The Pill to be invented. Here’s more from Helen:

        “There were no criteria with which to evaluate
        Hubbard’s ‘science,’ since it was genuinely novel,
        and in this century people have become incautious as a result
        of the amazing things which science has pioneered and then
        made commonplace.”

        “There is an indication of the scope and intensity of the public’s
        acceptance of dianetics at the time in the fact that several
        doctors had taken the trouble to attend, including some prominent
        psychiatrists. Saint Lukes is in the industrial northeast section
        of Philadelphia, so their presence represented a lavish expenditure
        of time which is usually budgeted carefully.”

        “Several who were engineers with Philco and RCA built their
        own electropsychometers, and one coauditing team wrote about
        their construction and use for an engineering magazine. But
        Noyga and I always used the Mathison E-meter because of the
        data which Hubbard made available about them, including an
        operator’s manual which he wrote, titled Electropsychometric

  • Captain Howdy

    “because Hubbard used language with the skill of a judo master.”

    Yes, and this was his sensei.

    All you need to do to strike spiritual gold is to tell the mutant killer apes with the over developed brain stems is that death is not the end and they’re more than just another species of animal..and…

    • stillgrace

      Captain, you probably have already seen this and maybe even posted it here already, but I can’t stop myself.

      • Captain Howdy

        That was awesome and I’m proud to see it was created by my youtube chanology compadre, TEOS.

        • stillgrace

          Does WWP not have the best level OTVIII shoopsters on the planet?!

          • TheHoleDoesNotExist

            Yes. And I love that video, especially Full Screen. Even got steam in the sauna.

            • stillgrace

              Did you notice Travolta’s towel?

            • Midwest Mom


            • stillgrace

              Sorry. Just wanted to make sure there were no MU’s. I missed it the first time because I was so impressed by the steam animation!

            • TheHoleDoesNotExist

              you made me look. TEOS cracks me up. And it followed the beat, too!

            • Captain Howdy

              “It Moved !”

            • Sandy

              OMG!!! I did NOT notice that the first time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • sugarplumfairy

        That was great.. I never realized how much ken moxon looks like alice cooper in full makeup..

        • BuryTheNuts2

          I think Alice Cooper looks somewhat less sinister than Moxon.

          • sugarplumfairy


        • Captain Howdy

          He looks like Angus Scrimm from Phantasm.

          • sugarplumfairy

            Lol.. Yah he does..

      • DeElizabethan

        Yes, awesome!

    • BuryTheNuts2

      You mean when we die thats it?
      We are really dead?
      This sounds like a good reason for Vodka!

      • DeElizabethan

        I got other thoughts and plans and that’s a good reason for vodka too! Hey, do we need a reason?

      • Captain Howdy

        There are more reasons for vodka than there aren’t.

        • Sandy

          My kinda guy

        • BuryTheNuts2

          Now that is my kind of math.

  • 0tessa

    Personally I think that Hubbard believed in Dianetics when he wrote it. Or at least, he wanted to believe in it. But at the same time he knew of course that some of the ‘evidence’ was faked. He embellished it. His pathological fantasy took over at certain points. The ‘held down sevens’ or ‘the engrams’ were supposed to be the discovery of the century.That’s why he was so utterly disappointed and humiliated when psychologists and psychiatrists ridiculed it. It is unfortunate that those of the profession did not analyze it to pieces then. That publication could have put a halt to it from the start.

  • Midwest Mom

    Dianetics doesn’t make any sense to me because I don’t understand the philosophy of dwelling on the negative parts of one’s life and finding fault with others for one’s problems, especially since forgiveness, compassion, sympathy and empathy aren’t part of Scientology’s system of beliefs.

    I have to say that the happiest and most spiritually fulfilled people I have ever known are the ones who don’t focus on the negative parts of their past or present but focus on the good; i.e. “Counting your blessings”. I know that this is easier said than done, of course, and everyone has their own distinctive personality traits as well as their own life experiences.

    It is so interesting to see the changes in some of the commenters at this blog site who were former Scientologists, who speak about their lives while they were actively involved with the Co$ and what their lives are like now. One of the most noticeable things I’ve noticed is self-confidence and voicing one’s own opinion. There is also a lot of regret, but in appreciating the freedom of being away from the constraints of the Co$’s control, regret will always be there, but it doesn’t need to fill one’s heart or consciousness.

    We don’t need to clear our minds of unhappy memories or regret. Those parts of our life actually help us see how to motivate ourselves to go forward. When learning to walk, we fell down, wobbled, and grabbed on to things to steady ourselves, but falling down was part of the process of learning to pick ourselves back up to try, try again. The kids whose moms are afraid of them getting hurt by falling down and carry them around all the time are actually teaching them not to try things on their own. We don’t need to eliminate our mistakes or regrets from our lives – they help us learn to walk on our own.

  • Jgg2012

    In 1954, Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine. It really worked. In other words, it really eliminated polio in the US. Some observations: Salk decided not to patent it–he wanted it to be easily available and was not interested in making millions (Hubbard was); Salk was never revered as a God; the vaccine was not heralded as the greatest anything; Salk never said it did anything other than cure polio (ie no perfect memory, perfect intelligence, it cures asthma, raises IQ, etc.); Salk never objected to anyone trying to improve the vaccine, and spent the rest of his life doing cancer research; he did not die with Vistaril in his system.

    • richelieu jr

      Yes, but could he dance?

      • Did he ever write a song that could compare with “Thank You for Listening”?

        • richelieu jr

          That’s setting the bar pretty darn high….

      • Jgg2012

        He could dance as well as LRH could.

        • richelieu jr

          Clearly you never saw the man Charleston…

          Every great con artist is a born tap-dancer…

          • Jgg2012

            No, con artists do a “song and dance”, ie they evade issues. LRH was too fat to tap dance.

            • richelieu jr

              Oh, I can see it, in a ‘Hairspray’, sort of hoedown, or the elephant ballet in Fantasia…
              FUN FACT: ‘L Ron Hubbard’s Fantasia’, was the original title for Dianetics, BTW…

        • BuryTheNuts2

          I just got a picture of an enraged rhino in my head now.

      • joan nieman

        He didn’t have time to dance!

  • Jgg2012

    I think LRH did believe in Dianetics, in a perverse way. Auditing, the e-meter and tone scales were really a variation of Freudian concepts. Two renownded psychs, Carl Jung and Otto Rank, tried it, but found that the memories were false ones and decided that traditional therapy was better (yes, LRH got his ideas from those evil psychs).
    LRH, after 5 years of practicing black magic, saw an opening: take average people, implant false memories (“I was so miserable”) and, with those false memories now in place, lead them to believe that their current situation is so much happier (“Scientology made me so happy”). It’s like LRH picking your pocket, buying a gift with your money and leading you to believe that he gave you something.

  • DeElizabethan

    Thanks Tony for mentioning the God-Discussion program, “participating in a live 3-hour web radio program. With Claire Headley, Lori Hodgson, and Nancy Many participating”
    It was terrific and well worth the 3 hours.

    • richelieu jr

      Can we find it now?

      • DeElizabethan

        You should have it now on Tony’s latest blog. It was wonderful.

  • Deckard__Cain

    Great series, Tony, and great idea. I suppose it helps to have Vance’s opinions along with his qualifications. But you lost me with this one:

    “VANCE: Nobody would ever make a claim like that unless they had a really good reason for it, right? I suppose 1950 was a more naive era. This was a time when people mailed money orders for X-ray vision goggles.”

    Sorry, but my father was an avid Science Fiction fan and amateur writer at this time and never was he naive enough to buy into such a bold claim as ““The creation of dianetics is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch.”

    Usually when someone makes a claim that is written with hyperbole and compares such exaggerated claims to a tangible invention as the wheel, then that is when a lot of readers stop reading. My father was one of them. He actually recalls the first version of Dianetics and has told me that it was not worth what he paid for it.

    Try again.

    Seriously, Tony. Try to dig deeper.

    • TonyOrtega

      Seriously, DC, Vance was making a joke.

      • Deckard__Cain

        Ya, ok. I read it incorrectly, sorry.

        I lost a lot of my sense of humor after this last week, and I vented on you. Sorry.

  • Theo Sismanides

    If Homo Sapiens could learn new techniques to help his fellow men instead of constantly criticising them, Dianetics could be a good tool to do so. I have tried it and was a Book 1 (as it’s called) auditor. With no previous experience on the human mind or any Scientific Certs. Was I a charlatan, too. Was that woman who had lost her husband and we run it as a secondary (an incident were loss exists and emotional pain) and she was in tears and we kept running it until it didn’t bring up so much charge, a crazy woman? Did I help her without even knowing anything about how to handle such things? Of course. Anyone who would sit down and listen to the woman could have helped her a bit. But through that session and the Dianetics technique the incident had no much charge. So many other incidents of people having problems and somatics (engrams) and I could help them.

    Nah…. just keep on taking your pills by the big pharma companies. It’s so hard to sit down and help a man. I know, I gave up too. It really takes some guts and real love of Man to be an auditor. But Homo Sap likes not to help or be helped. He likes to constantly Dramatize. Big Drama…. is his Life.

    So you see a tool and by hearsay evidence you get it that it’s bad and you don’t use it yourself. Others who have used it say it’s good. Most people just hear this controversy and don’t use it but start going into criticisms etc. fights, opinions about it but never touch it or use it.

    Then, sorry, you know nothing about it.

    I wonder how many people here have read DMSMH, understood and applied it as auditors. That would be interesting to hear. That would be a change for Homo Sapiens, to start being interested and actually speak after having really tried something.

  • Jgg2012

    Dianutty reminds me of the controversy over Laetrile, an extract of Apricot seeds. In the 70s, cancer patients swore it reversed the symptoms of the disease. On TV, I saw a patient who was completely bald insist it was making his hair grow back (which caused the host to make a rather funny face). The FDA said it was all placebo, so they had to go to Mexico to get it. To this day, the FDA won’t approve it, but it has believers.

    I think that scilons will always insist Dianetics helped them, regardless of proof, but it will never be accepted by the medical community.

  • I think LRH made some comment about something only being true if it’s true to you. I think that’s your answer reallu. LRH thought it was true, and willed it to be true, so he actually convinced himself his methods were legit. No wonder he didn’t like psychs! I think every day he was at risk of being taken away by them!

  • Shirley Eugeste


  • Pennywhistler

    Does anyone else remember the 1950’s satire DIAPETICS, about diapers and mental health?

  • Skymouth

    A really good read is Inside Scientology. Very eye opening!

  • Kaarli Makela

    Given that Hubbard would participate in having himself audited, and having seen a partial list of personal affirmations, it appears that he created something he himself could hope to fully believe in, because it was all about him.
    Hubbard couldn’t help but form his offering to the world in his own image, one packed with Cognitive Dissonance.

  • Kaarli Makela

    Some of the commenters have shared how they avoided ever getting into Scientology in the first place. I think this is helpful … particularly in regards to Public Education.
    My good fortune was my Mom, HS Class of ’52, Detroit Michigan.
    She was an Atheist who left Lutheranism as a teen.
    Eventually she became the head of the first all-woman law firm in the State of Michigan, in the early ’70s. She had a successful career in the Law.
    Her life and experience was front and center as I grew up, and at a time when the world was a bit of a knot to untie! She became a bit of a local ‘pinko’ activist, as the ’60s heated up, and I witnessed all this as a kid. I was a willing little partner with her at many a Civil Rights and Peace March. “Question Authority”! We would always have the latest MAD Magazine and Psychology Today issue on the table.
    When I actually spoke to another girl my age, when I was 16, who had been audited, it sounded like hokum. Of course Mom had already read up on it, and laughed. She reminded me that even an actual lie detector result is not evidence in court (still isn’t 47 years later), and the e-meter is only 1/3 of that measurement.
    Mom’s pretty informative. Then she’d always say, ‘but look into it for yourself. Study what EVERYBODY has to say about something, and use your head.’
    (Even though, later I got into Christianity for a decade … it was me giving something an honest shot – and a dash of rebellion against Mom at the time, to be frank. Never-the-less, my ‘good raising’ was of great help as an inner resource, when I decided to abandon church.)
    MOST OF ALL … I was a voracious reader. Mom encouraged this, she was a dedicated reader and debater. That was dinner time. Bandying about the great events of the Day.
    (My stepfather at the time was a Logic Professor.)
    As a Science Fiction fan, I had been sticking with Heinlein, though I came to dislike him, as his work became more dislikable!
    But my reading is wide-ranging. Back in the day, folks put some import on being ‘well-rounded’!
    So I feel I was well-protected enough to avoid the worst … Scientology being just one of many Dangerous Cults I studied, as a concerned church-goer in the ’70s! LOL
    Even that brush with unreality helps me truly relate to those who come out as Survivors of the Co$.
    Side Note: For my Hippie sensibilities, and in conceptual combat with all things oppressive, my final favorite number ONE SciFi author is … *fanfare* ISAAC ASIMOV. <3
    Best wishes to all …