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The Mother and Child Reunion: Another Dianetics Nightmare

MotherChildWelcome 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.

We’re finally getting near the middle of this book, Vance, and L. Ron Hubbard is pretty well unhinged at this point.

Did you notice how, as we move into the chapter “Contagion of Aberration” that the word “unconscious” is suddenly showing up in quote marks?

We’d earlier pointed out that in Hubbard’s 1950, people seemed to get knocked cold more frequently than they do now. But at this point in the book, people are also picking up engrams when they’re “unconscious” — which is to say, not unconscious at all. This kind of rule-changing is shot through the next couple of chapters.

For instance, now Hubbard tells us that engrams are contagious, and can be spread around like they were the flu virus.

In one of his stranger examples, Hubbard is drawn once again to childbirth. The experience is so awful, it not only imbues the child with a whopping engram, but the mother as well — and from then on mother and child will “restimulate” those engrams by simply being in the presence of the other…


This engram is remarkably destructive in several ways. The mother’s voice can restimulate the birth engram in the child and the presence of the child can restimulate the giving-birth engram in the mother. Thus they are mutually restimulative…a later life situation can cause them each to suffer simultaneously from the engram. If birth included a slammed window, a slammed window may trigger birth dramatization in both, simultaneously, with resultant hostilities or apathies.

So, in other words, a relationship that world cultures usually consider one of the most crucial and rewarding — mother and child — Hubbard sees as essentially antagonistic and harmful. He goes on to say that this everpresent threat of engram contagion lies behind most human mistreatment and even war.

Vance, did the Scientologists you know consider their mothers to be infectious aberrations to be avoided at all costs?

VANCE: What do you mean, “consider”? Hubbard proved it. Dude, have you already forgotten everything we read in the earlier chapters? This. Is. A. Science.

THE BUNKER: You’re killing me.

VANCE: As for the changing nature of “unconscious,” so far as I could tell, most Scientologists believe that any amount of pain necessarily creates an engram (even without the full knockout). Say you hit your thumb with a hammer, the supposition is that there must be some instant in which you were kind of “knocked out,” so brief that you didn’t notice it.

But I see what you mean. It never occurred to me before, but yeah, I guess Hubbard was moving the goal posts there. Good point.

THE BUNKER: Let’s push on into the next chapter, Vance, which is titled “Keying-In the Engram.”

Can you please explain Hubbard’s fascination for this concept of an engram “keying-in,” which comes off like some early computer term that Hubbard got hung up on?

We get the feeling that he’s saying any number of engrams can be recorded by the reactive mind, but additional events must happen to activate them. Or something.

VANCE: Yes, that’s exactly right. Until an engram gets keyed in, it lies dormant like a land mine, causing no harm. One could theoretically have a huge number of engrams but, because none have been keyed in, be quite normal.

According to Hubbard, once an engram has been keyed in, it can more easily be keyed in later. And key-ins have names. The doozies are called “secondaries.” The little ones are called “locks.” The distinction is fundamentally arbitrary, but these secondaries and locks cause a person to lose their mythical “life force” and cause us to move down the tone scale. And yet it’s the hidden engrams that anchor all the emotional pain in place. Without engrams we wouldn’t carry our grief forward, act insane, or even suspect Hubbard’s credibility.

THE BUNKER: You make it all so clear. Anyway, we want to get to one more example from this chapter, and it’s really something.

Hubbard, apparently, wants to hammer home the point that it’s only through his therapy that we can get at the true source of engrams, of memories that are haunting our present lives. Sex, naturally, is a subject that’s fraught with issues and can put in some pretty damaging engrams. But this next example is so bizarre and disturbing, we’re not sure what to think…

It may be that a patient is urgent in her insistence that her father raped her when she was nine and that this is the cause of all her misery. Large numbers of insane patients claim this. And it is perfectly true. Father did rape her, but it happened she was only nine days beyond conception at the time. The pressure and upset of coitus is very uncomfortable to the child and normally can be expected to give the child an engram which will have as its content the sexual act and everything that was said.

Can you imagine this playing out, Vance? A woman tells Hubbard that at nine years old she was raped by her father, and the great scientist shakes his head and wags his finger and says, “You’re mistaken, dear. What you’re actually remembering is your father vigorously screwing your mother while you were hanging on to her uterine wall for dear life as a nine-day-old blastocyst.”

We might puke.

VANCE: While I was in the Church, nearly everybody I met who’d personally met Hubbard had been very deliberate in telling me how compassionate the guy was. They always used that word: compassionate. There must be some semi-secret “hatting” given to those who met the guy instructing them to convey that view. And that’s supposed to be the same guy who wrote those sentences you just quoted. The implications, intended or not, are inescapable. Hubbard’s callousness and inhumanity certainly burn through. (That said, the auditing of such a woman wouldn’t have played out that way. A Dianetics auditor, including Hubbard, would never tell the preclear what “really happened.”)

THE BUNKER: We take your point. But the example still sucks.

Next week — In Dianetics, the Uterus is a Frightening Place



Rep. Jason Murphey

Rep. Jason Murphey

This week, we’re eagerly anticipating news out of Oklahoma regarding a bill which, if it becomes law, could make things dicey for Scientology’s flagship drug rehab facility in that state, Narconon Arrowhead.

The Narconon center has been mired in controversy after three patient deaths in only nine months, the last in July 2012, which has resulted in multiple criminal investigations and civil lawsuits. And according to the facility’s former president, Luke Catton, there’s a long, contentious history over Narconon Arrowhead’s licensing, which he says was obtained through a loophole in state law.

It’s closing that loophole which state senator Tom Ivester said he wanted to do when he introduced a bill that subsequently passed the Oklahoma senate in a unanimous vote. It then went to the House, where its sponsor there, Rep. Jason Murphey, told us he was confident it would also find strong support. But after our interview with him, another state representative, Brian Renegar, publicly announced that he’d changed his position, and after initially raising questions about the Narconon controversy, had decided to back the facility and oppose the bill.

Murphey, however, tells us he isn’t worried.

“Renegar’s a member of the minority. He doesn’t have a lot of clout because of that,” says Murphey, a Republican in a very red state (Renegar is a Democrat). “He’s caught in a political pinch. The Narconon center is in his district. And he’s in a tough spot.”

Murphey says that Renegar’s seemingly surprising about-face is really pretty common for this kind of situation, and he expects Renegar to put on something of a show when the bill is discussed in the House.

“I expect a lot of wackiness from his point of view,” Murphey says. “He’ll ask questions, and he’ll debate against it. But he’ll probably end up voting for it in the end.”

If the bill does pass the House, it will go directly to Oklahoma’s governor, Mary Fallin. Ivester and Murphey both say they don’t expect her to veto it.



Carol_Nyburg2Yesterday, we marveled at Carol Nyburg’s escape narrative that she posted to Steve Hall’s blog. A Sea Org worker for 26 years, Nyburg was a familiar face at Flag, the Church of Scientology’s spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida. Her story of getting fed up with church leader David Miscavige’s methods of control made for a gripping tale.

We talked to her last night, and she told us that she actually wrote that narrative a year ago, and it had taken that long before she had the nerve to give Hall the go-ahead to publish it. But even though she held on to it for so long, she said the act of writing it paid off for her immediately.

“The day after I wrote it, my life changed,” she told us. Within a day, she’d gotten out of a bad relationship and had accepted a new job offer. It felt like a new life, she says.

And now that her story has gone public, there are other rewards. She heard from a man who had worked in security at Flag and had come off as something of a villain. Yesterday, she heard from the man, who has since left the church. He apologized to her for what he had done. “It was amazing. It was really going full circle,” she says.

She says that former church spokesman Mike Rinder also called her up to apologize for his role in her story.

Nyburg says she’s written a second part to her story, and expects Hall to post it soon. In it, she reveals that in fact her daughter has disconnected from her since they were reunited.

Nyburg found out that despite routing out properly, she was declared a suppressive person (church jargon for excommunication) in September, and her daughter then cut off all ties with her. So her story doesn’t have quite such a happy ending. But like so many others, Nyburg can hope that with more and more people ditching the church, her daughter may some day be among them.



We are happy to see that Mike Rinder is joining the ranks of Scientology bloggers and giving us a run for our money. We’ve always enjoyed Mike’s contributions at Marty Rathbun’s blog, finding them well-written and informative.

He gave this blog a shout-out (but no link — hey, learn to link, Rinder) and pointed out that while we cover a lot of ground here, we tend to cover subjects that aren’t going to endear us with “indies” or other people just coming out of the Church of Scientology (today’s entry, for example). We look forward to Mike’s daily dispatches, and hope it can recapture the flavor of Rathbun’s blog back when it was exposing church secrets.

Today, Rinder has another slice of Sea Org hell in the horror story of ex-church member Jason Barclay. It’s long, but what a nightmare.


SMERSH Madness: Sowing the Seeds of World Domination!

As we announced on March 1, we’re joining bracket fever with a tournament like no other. It’s up to you to decide who should be named the new SMERSH, the traditional nemesis of Scientology. Cast your vote for who’s doing more to propel the church down its long slide into oblivion!

Continuing with the Sweet Sixteen! We have another tough match.


David Miscavige is the Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center, but don’t let that confuse you: Miscavige rules every corner of the Church of Scientology with absolute authority. He would say he’s just carrying on the wishes of the founder, L. Ron Hubbard, but the large number of longtime members leaving the church these days tend to blame Miscavige for turning them away and putting the church into crisis. Some would say he’s driving it into the ground with extreme fundraising and harsh “ethics.” But what do we know. (Previously: Miscavige defeated Vance Woodward in the first round.)

Tory Christman left Scientology after 30 years in a very interesting way. (We were fortunate enough to tell the story, more than a decade ago.) Since then, she’s become well-known for her indefatigable use of online video to get the word out about the church and its abuses. In some ways, she’s the face of the ex-Scientology movement, and if we could just figure out how to harness her energy, she could power a city. (Previously: Tory barely edged Karen de la Carriere in the first round.)

Go to our March 1 post for the latest tournament results.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 21, 2013 at 07:00


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