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Babylon Surmising: Dianetics Rights an Ancient Wrong

AlexanderWelcome 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.

Vance, we’ve now reached the longest chapter so far in this book, “Emotion and the Life Force.” We have to admit to being rather disappointed that L. Ron Hubbard, after finally tantalizing us with some specifics about dianetic therapy in the previous two chapters, chooses at this point to go back into theory with such a long digression.

And especially about something as vague as “life force.” Not only is life force unquantifiable (“Let us assume that the entire being is possessed of 1000 arbitrary units of life force”), but at least three times in this chapter, Hubbard once again admits that he’s really just guessing about how things work: “recall it is just a theory and dianetics can stand without it.”

So what we get are several pages about how some people are more “alive” than others, but there’s no way to measure it with any real precision, and any theory about how such differences work may be completely off since Hubbard has no real evidence of any kind.

And yet, this stuff is worthy of the longest chapter so far in this meandering book.

At least Hubbard has graced us with another of his eye-opening examples to reward us for our perseverance.


You just knew that Hubbard would eventually get around to Alexander the Great, who conquered much of the known world by the time he was 33 years old, but then died in Babylon in 323 BC.

Hubbard provides a very entertaining dianetic reading of this renowned ancient…

He was educated to believe he was a god, his manic engram said he was a god and had a holder in it. Alexander conquered the world and died at 33. He could hold in his manic only so long as it could be obeyed: when it could not longer be obeyed, it changed his valence, became no more a manic and drove him, with pain, into dispersed activities. The engram, received from his mother, Olympia, can almost be read even at this later date. It must have said he would be a joyous god who would conquer all the world and must keep on conquering, that he must always strive to rise higher and higher. It was probably a ritual chant of some sort from his mother, who was a high priestess of Lesbos and who must have received some injury just before the ritual. She hated her husband, Phillip. A son who would conquer all was the answer. Alexander may well have had fifty or a hundred such “assist” engrams, the violent praying of a woman aberrated enough to murder.

After our previous chapter on mothers bestowing engrams on their babies, we have to wince at this from Hubbard. Is he certain that Olympia chanted while pregnant, or did she just have a difficult time one day on the toilet?

Anyway, Hubbard continues, explaining that Alexander’s engram somehow got less effective once he got far enough away from its source (his mother in Macedonia). Although, in truth, he had returned to Babylon after getting as far east as India.

Thus he could be assumed to have conquered until he could no longer stretch a line of supply for conquering, at which time he, of course, would no longer be able to obey the engram and its force of pain would turn on him. The engrams dictated attack to conquer, and they enforced the command with pain: once conquering could no longer be accomplished, the pain attacked Alexander. He realized one day he was dying: within the week he was dead: and at the height of his power. Such, on a very large scale, is a manic phrase in an engram at work.

But consider, Hubbard says, if dianetics had been around back in Alexander’s day, and he could have been “cleared” of his engrams. What then?

He would most certainly have been able to conquer the world and at eighty might well have been alive to enjoy it.

And how does Hubbard know this? Because Alexander was operating with only 500 of his 1000 life force points. And if he’d been cleared by dianetics, he would have been twice as manically forceful than he actually was in life.

“The theory may be wrong, the observed data is not,” Hubbard says, clearly satisfied with himself — but perhaps mostly with the thought that anyone would take any of this seriously to begin with.

Vance, are we nuts to think that Hubbard thought himself as some sort of Alexander who was being held back by a lunatic mother?

VANCE: Oh, absolutely, you’re not. Hubbard rarely spoke about his parents, and when he did, it was not good. In one lecture, he described the following scene. He’s madly typing away in his room, filing cabinet doors are banging open and slamming shut, paper flying all over the place. This is Hubbard’s kind of ideal chaotic high-energy activity. Enter his mother telling him that he needs to calm down and take a break, that he is working himself to exhaustion. That, in Hubbard’s opinion, was an attempt to kill him, to shut him down, to make him smaller. He warned his followers to watch out for those types.

Hubbard told another story of how his mom beat the family dog with a chain for eating chickens or something like that, but the dog was too stupid to even understand that it was being punished and simply responded with loving dog kisses. Granted, Hubbard was insanely precious with his praise of others. Either way, based on his rare comments about her, Hubbard’s mom was evil.

And get this: Hubbard claimed to be the sole source of the only “technology” that could help the universe in all its trillions-of-years-long existence. Alexander was merely out to conquer the world. Pffft. Hubbard had a much a grander vision. Thank goodness he discovered Dianetics and was able to escape Alexander’s fate.

THE BUNKER: This chapter just goes on and on. Thankfully, Hubbard gives us two more unforgettable examples of how engrams work, and we feel compelled to bring them to our readers. In the first one, Hubbard is explaining why an adult might be suffering from arthritis which was actually caused by something that happened to him while he was in his mother’s womb. It turns out, his adult arthritis is caused by an incident of his pregnant mother stumbling over a pig.

Mama said, when she gracefully fell over a pig, “Oh, I can’t get up! Oh, my poor, poor baby. Oh, my baby! I wonder if I hurt my poor, poor baby. Oh, I hope my baby is still alive! Please God let him live. Please God let me keep my baby. Please!” Only the God to which she prayed was the Reactive Mind, which makes one of its idiot computations on the basis of everything is equal to everything. A holder, a prayer for life, a thoroughly bruised baby’s spine, Mama’s sympathy, a pig grunt, a prayer to God, all these things are equal to the reactive mind and so we have a fine case of arthritis, particularly since our patient sought “survival” by marrying a girl with a voice just like Mama’s sounded when he was in the womb…Arthritis is a baby is a pig grunt is a prayer to God is wife’s sympathy is being poor is Mama’s voice and all these things are desirable. He’s kept himself poor and he’s kept his arthritis and he married a wife who would make a harlot blush and this is pro-survival…

Fortunately, there’s Dianetics to help the man remember the pig incident by taking him back to his life as a fetus. As for the second example, a case of a fellow experiencing bleeding ulcers, his time in his mother’s womb was even more fraught with danger…

In the case of the ulcers, here was baby poked full of holes (Mama is having a terrible time trying to abort him so she can pretend a miscarriage, and she uses assorted household instruments thrust into the cervix to do it) and some of the holes are through and through his baby’s abdomen and stomach: he will live because he is surrounded by protein and has a food supply and because the sac is like one of these puncture-proof inner tubes that seals up every hole. (Nature has been smart about attempted abortion for a long, long time.)…It also so happens that Grandma lives next door and she comes over unexpectedly…She therefore finds much to censure when she sees a bloody orangewood stick in the bathroom. Baby is still “unconscious.” Grandma berates Mama: “Any daughter of mine who would do such a horrible thing should be punished by the vengeance of God…and driven through the streets…Now you go right on through with your pregnancy, Eloisia, and when that baby is born, if you don’t want him, you bring him to me!”…And so, when our bleeding ulcer gets born, there is Grandma and there is security and safety…And Roger will, when Grandma is dead, develop bleeding ulcers to get her back.

To review: A man gets ulcers because his grandmother has died, and she had defended him against his mother who had sent a stick through his abdomen in an abortion attempt that he somehow survived. And this is the memory that he has recovered under a (don’t-call-it-hypnotic) reverie.

Hubbard uses these examples to make the case that some engrams are “pro-survival” because they are produced around the allies in our lives. When we lose those allies, it is particularly painful for us, and it’s an auditor’s job to dig up those feelings and expose them.

Now, we might gently point out that when you ask someone to remember when they first learned about the death of a loved one, it will not only bring back the pain of that experience, but it might also help release that pain and make a person feel better. It’s pretty easy to understand that phenomenon without the need for “engrams” or the “reactive mind” to explain. But what do we know.

Vance, there’s one more thing we want to point out in this marathon chapter, and then we’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. Late in the chapter, for the first time in this book, Hubbard describes moments when a patient “may not be…occupying his own body.” He calls this exteriorization, but at this point, his explanation for what’s going on is rather pedestrian. Exteriorization, he says, is caused when “painful emotion is present in such quantity that the patient cannot occupy himself.”

The patient is recalling something so disturbing, in other words, he can’t bear to experience it again, so watches it happen from a remove. But as the patient recalls the incident a few more times, the pain will reduce, and he’ll see it again from within himself.

Uh-oh. Did Hubbard just say that therapy helps end exteriorization, which he has described as merely a trick of the mind?

Vance, we know that Scientology will later make exteriorization the ultimate goal of Hubbard’s tech, and tell believers that it’s the actual detaching of the soul (the thetan), from the corporeal body, and something that therapy produces, not reduces.

Are we looking at early-Hubbard heresy here?

VANCE: Throughout his career, Hubbard oscillated between negating and affirming things. Regarding what he said about exteriorization in Dianetics, he later said that he realized people really were exteriorizing, and leaving their bodies. He went through a similar evolution regarding past lives. Early on, he dismissed them in his lectures. Later, he embraced them. The thing to keep in mind is that Hubbard could contradict himself and modify his opinion all he liked. When Hubbard changed his theory, it was a good thing. It proved that research was being done and that the man could admit when he was wrong. Well, that and it proved he knew how to make money. Either way, this doesn’t mean anybody else could have an opinion. No, no, no. Try contradicting Hubbard’s final word on any issue in a Church of Scientology and you’ll soon find yourself in front of the Scientology thought police. Fact.

Also, Scientology lends itself to some doublebabble. The idea with Scientology — I’m paraphrasing here but not exaggerating — is first to bring people up to the point that they realize they’re messed up and then from there to the point where they’re OK again. So Scientology is like a big loop, but people are supposed to be better off from the trip. This notion is often articulated when discussing Scientology’s famous personality test. From test to test, the graph might show improvement or not. Improvement on the graph of course is evidence that Scientology is working. When the graph (inevitably) collapses, that means the Scientologist has “gone out through the top and come back in through the bottom.” Voilà! More improvement!

So we could rationalize all this exteriorization talk as follows: “Aberrated people imagine that they go exterior as a way of escaping reality. Dianetics brings people up to the point where they can confront reality (i.e. experience engramic incidents from an interiorized viewpoint). And only then can they move up to the point that they can exteriorize for real.” Convinced?

THE BUNKER: Vance, you could sell us anything.

Next week — A Womb With a View: More Dianetics Just-So Stories


Tell Us What You Think Will Happen in Laura D’s Case Today

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court denied Scientology’s petition to put a stay on Laura DeCrescenzo’s forced-abortion lawsuit. It seems like ages ago, but earlier, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald M. Sohigian had set a date of May 6 by which time Scientology had to turn over thousands of pages of evidence in Laura’s “pc files” — confessional material gathered during intense interrogations in her time as a Sea Org worker. But then the church began petitioning California’s appeals and supreme courts, and Judge Sohigian set a new status hearing for May 16 — today! So now, after striking out with its appeals, what will Scientology do when they come into court today? The way the church has been fighting tooth and nail not to turn over the evidence, you have to wonder if they’ll walk into court this morning with a big fat check to settle the case (or at least begin settlement talks). Could the church ask for the time to petition the US Supreme Court? Or heck, maybe the church will actually cooperate and turn over Laura’s pc folders? Stranger things have happened. Anyway, give us your vote on what’s going to happen today, and we’ll be looking forward to finding out what actually happens later this afternoon…



Posted by Tony Ortega on May 16, 2013 at 07:00

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