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Dianetics is Not Hypnosis — Well, Except For That “You Are Feeling Sleepy” Part

HypnosisWelcome to our ongoing project, where we blog a 1950 first edition of Scientology’s bible, Dianetics, with the help of ex-Scientologist, lawyer, and author Vance Woodward. Go here for the first post in the series.

We’re now getting into a very interesting part of Dianetics. We’re finally going to learn some actual methods of auditing, and L. Ron Hubbard wants us to understand that what he is teaching us is in no way hypnosis.

Of course, when Hubbard is very emphatic about something, you should always figure that the opposite may be true. Let’s take a look at the way he describes how to get a subject into the proper dianetic “reverie”…

Auditor: Look at the ceiling. When I count from one to seven your eyes will close. You will remain aware of everything which goes on. You will be able to remember everything that happens here. You can pull yourself out of anything which you get into if you don’t like it. All right (slowly, soothingly): One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. One, two, three (patient’s eyes close and eyelids flicker), four, five, six, seven. (Auditor pauses; installs canceller.) All right, let us go back to your fifth birthday… (work continues until the auditor has worked the patient enough for the period)…Come to present time. Are you in present time? (Yes.) (Use canceller word.) When I count from five to one and snap my fingers you will feel alert. Five, four, three, two, one. (Snap.)

Yeah, Vance, we see what he means. Nothing like the hypnosis shows we’ve seen on stage. We can’t believe anyone thought there was any similarity at all!


VANCE: For sure. While I was hooked on Scientology I reasoned my way out of this issue by telling myself that the important difference between hypnosis and auditing is that, with hypnosis, the hypnotist implants ideas into the patient, whereas with auditing the patient undertakes a journey of self-discovery. So, it’s not so much that auditing is different than hypnosis in all imaginable ways. It’s different only in one way: with auditing the goal is to put the person in control of themselves rather than superimposing yet more compulsion and repression on top of already existing compulsions and repressions. Think of it as being like a long mathematical equation and then adding in a negative sign at the beginning. In a sense it’s the same thing, but in a sense it’s the opposite thing.

If only it were true. The reality is that Scientology zealously micromanages its user’s “cognitions” (Hubbard-speak for realizations). So, the supposed distinction between hypnosis and auditing is, ultimately, illusory. Welcome to Cult Studies 101.

THE BUNKER: The other important thing to take from this chapter is Hubbard’s idea of what a snap clearing away the reactive mind should be. For our non-Scientology readers or those who may have not been following along throughout this series, Hubbard proposed that there’s a nefarious part of our minds that takes over when we’re unconscious, recording things people say while we’re knocked cold in the most literal and damaging ways possible. These recordings are called engrams, and they get “restimulated” later in ways that interfere with our lives. In Dianetics, the goal is to travel back into the past and find out where we picked up those engrams, experience them again, and in that way make them harmless — in this way the reactive mind itself can be cleared away.

But Hubbard says that there are potentially so many engrams that have accumulated throughout your life, how can you begin to clear them away? His answer: by going immediately to the first ones that you picked up in your prenatal state. In 1950, when this book first came out, Hubbard and his followers seemed most interested in somehow “remembering” their experiences as sperm, egg, and zygote, and discovering what engrams were picked up as mommy and daddy fought and fornicated while you hugged the uterine wall.

Get your preclear back to that point, he tells potential new auditors, and you’ve reached the tip of a pyramid of engramic material…

The auditor will find it expedient to work in the prenatal area and as early in that as possible. If he can clear the time from conception to birth, including birth, his task is nine-tenths complete. To clear the entire reactive bank is his goal. The reactive bank is like a pyramid which is fairly well armored everywhere but just under the point, and which becomes unarmored when the point is contacted. This is taking the reactive bank in an exposed sector.

Once you’ve begun to unravel the engrams at that start point, the rest roll up quite easily. As he said at the outset, Hubbard expected that it would take only about 20 hours of auditing in order to make someone a “clear.”

So Vance, that must sound awfully optimistic for Scientologists today, who spend years and years (and hundreds of thousands of dollars) trying to clear away engrams not just from their time in the womb, but along their entire “whole track” of lifetimes, going back billions and trillions of years. Is it jarring for them to read Dianetics today and see that Hubbard thought making a clear would be such a snap?

VANCE: I found it more disappointing than jarring. But first of all I should clarify that the whole-track past-life stuff isn’t particularly the focus of auditing until after a person goes Clear. In other words, time and money spent auditing out body thetans shouldn’t exactly be counted as lengthening the road to Clear.

Nevertheless, going Clear is much much more time consuming and costly (ka-ching!) than Hubbard estimated in Dianetics. When reading Hubbard’s low estimate, I figured there could be a few possible reasons for it. For instance, Scientology users frequently talk in saucer-eyed amazement about Hubbard’s auditing skills. As you probably know, Hubbard frequently said that bad results in Scientology stem solely from wrong application of the “tech.” In other words, “you’re doing it wrong.” So, I figured the estimate was a reflection of Hubbard’s skill (and everyone else’s lack of it).

Also, I figured modern Scientology auditing techniques were more reliable, though longer. In other words, I figured that, for Dianetics to work, an auditor would have to be quite intelligent and savvy. In comparison, I figured that the IQ barrier to becoming a competent Scientology auditor was lower so more people could learn to do it. (Boy was I ever right … or wrong … definitely confused.)

I imagine a lot of users get a little bummed that they don’t go Clear as easily as Hubbard promised. I did in any case. Thankfully, the prime targets in Scientology auditing are doubts one might have about the efficacy of Hubbard’s directions (or sanity). That saved me from those troublesome suspicions that Hubbard was a gigantic blowhard. I mean, at least I got that much peace of mind from my auditing.

THE BUNKER: And what price can you put on peace of mind? Especially when it comes in 12.5-hour packages.

Next week — Dianetics: Super Colon Blow For Your Mind


What Would Scientology Be Like If It Told the Truth About Itself?

A tip of the hat to Possibly Helpful Advice, who turned up this overlooked gem from 2008. What a great editing job of the 2007 IAS spectacular, when David Miscavige revealed “The Basics” with Tom Cruise and John Travolta in the front row…


Speaking of oldies but goodies, we were recently made aware of this gem from 2011, when Scientologists picketed outside the home of former church member Samantha Domingo in Southern England. The Scientologists were particularly hacked off that Domingo had welcomed as houseguests former church spokesman Mike Rinder and fellow former member Christie Collbran. Please pay special attention to the way the Scientologist picketers have brought along a young child to help, um, make their point, or something…



Posted by Tony Ortega on April 26, 2013 at 07:00

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