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Jon Atack on the Hypnotic History of Scientology Auditing

Hypnosis2Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He now has a new edition of the book out, and on Saturdays he’s helping us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet.

Jon, we recently pointed out in our reading of a first-edition copy of Dianetics that L. Ron Hubbard’s description of a “dianetic reverie” sounded an awful lot like hypnosis. We got an earful from independent Scientologists who didn’t appreciate that comparison — Hubbard himself insisted that auditing was not hypnosis.

You’ve done some research on the relationship of the two. What can you tell us?

JON: It is strange that Scientologists know little or nothing about hypnosis, as their founder was passionate about the subject. Let me point out a significant anomaly found in the practices of the cult, which concerns the direct use of hypnosis.

Around 1979, Book One auditing — based on Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health — was reintroduced, and has stayed in place, ever since. But what if 1950-style Dianetic auditing is actually hypnotic? When I researched my favorite paper, “Never Believe a Hypnotist,” it became apparent that Hubbard had significant expertise (even though he counseled us never to believe a hypnotist).

Digging through the contradictions, I found many gems, which point to the true nature of Dianetics and Scientology. In Science of Survival, Hubbard said, “a pre-clear after he closes his eyes will begin to flutter his eyelids. This a symptom of the very lightest level of hypnotic trance.”[1] In a lecture, he added, “A simple test is to watch the person’s eyeballs. You will find as he lies there that the eyeballs under the closed eyelids will hunt back and forth. You can see the bump of them on the eyelids, and they will be wandering … the hunting indicates a hypnotic state.”[2] In a later lecture, he said, “The eye moving underneath the eyelid is the indication of when a person is lightly or deeply tranced. That is the second stage of which the fluttering eyelid is the first … The preclear’s eyes will roll a little bit under the lids and when he returns, particularly, the eyelashes will flutter, which tells you immediately that he has become more suggestible than he ordinarily would be.”[3] Yet later, he added an injunction, “Sometimes you will notice a tremble on the eyelids … This is a very early stage of hypnosis. Be careful of such a patient.”[4]


THE BUNKER: So you’re saying that Hubbard often warned his followers that they should watch out for signs of hypnosis. As he liked to say, hypnosis puts someone to sleep, but auditing wakes them up.

JON: Exactly. But, as we see, auditing is a form of hypnosis, which tends to overlay new suggestions over old, rather than waking anyone up.

However, the current use of the Hubbard Dianetics Auditor Course (HDAC) is in total contradiction to these warnings. By returning to the 1950 method, Scientology has returned to direct trance induction. The HDAC gives, “When the preclear’s eyes close and you notice his eyelids flicker, finish counting…”.[5]

There are other signs of trance, “If the person begins to answer you literally … that means your preclear is now a hypnotic subject and you are running him in hypnosis.”[6] Although nothing that Hubbard issued may ever be withdrawn, these prohibitions form no part of any auditor training course known to me. Hubbard also admitted that “Returning back down the track slightly increases the suggestibility of any person.”[7]

THE BUNKER: Why do you think there was this reversion to an older process?

JON: As old-timer Alphia Hart joked, Hubbard should have put a date on every new “this is it!” He came up with something once or twice a year — just in case anyone had noticed that none of the Clears were clear, nor any of the OTs capable of the slightest supernatural feat. As Hubbard’s output slowed down — we know that he was suffering from dementia towards the end — there were various attempts to capitalize on his earlier work. Elaborate new rundowns appeared, and this was one of them. It’s all bound up in the notion that nothing he wrote can be amended (see the Policy Letter Safeguarding Technology, for details. This also answers your earlier question as to whether OT III might be a “metaphor.” No it isn’t.)

It is immensely curious that Scientologists are unaware of the effects of hypnotic trance, because Hubbard advised that the auditor “must be prepared to use hypnotism, he must know how it works, what he should do to make it function, how to regress a person in hypnotism and so on, which is definitely very different from Dianetics in that one produces a trance.”[8]

Hubbard recommended the book Hypnotism Comes of Age, where “reverie” is defined as a “dreamlike state between normal consciousness and hypnosis.”[9] Reverie was defined by Hubbard as “a light state of concentration not to be confused with hypnosis. In reverie the person is fully aware of what is taking place.”[10] The use of the words “light state” seems to be a Freudian slip. It is certainly a contradiction in terms. After Dianetics: MSMH was published in 1950, Hubbard withdrew the system of counting the preclear into reverie, “Sometimes people go into a hypnotic trance by accident with this count system … so at the Foundation we no longer use it.”[11] Unfortunately, this advice is ignored in the current Hubbard Dianetics Auditor Course, auditing reverts entirely to D:MSMH, so by Hubbard’s own statement, the Church of Scientology is using a hypnotic induction as standard procedure. But then, as Hubbard explained, “counting sometimes produces a light hypnosis back of the reverie which is sometimes helpful on a case.”[12] Or, worse yet, “Recognize the depth these trances achieve, just on no provocation. Tell a man to close his eyes, bong! he goes into an amnesia trance; or sometimes using the old counting technique and it becomes more frequent: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven – bong!”[13] At worst, “Some people, when told to close their eyes, immediately go into hypnotic trance.”[14]

As ever, Hubbard was quick to contradict himself (the basic method of controlling people, as explained in the False Data Stripping bulletin): “We never give positive suggestions”[15]; but, in a lecture only a few weeks later, “you are putting in positive suggestion whether you want to or not, no matter how careful you are.”[16] Confused? Just do exactly what Ron says and you will be completely self-determined…

THE BUNKER: Well, no doubt we’ll hear from the indies again on this point. In the meantime, you are feeling very sleepy…

[1] Science of Survival II, p.227
[2] Research & Discovery vol. 1, p.336
[3] R&D 3, p.94
[4] R&D 4, p.38
[5] HDAC p.54, Hubard Dianetic Seminar p.42
[6] R&D 3, p.94; see also R&D 1, p.336
[7] SOS II, p.228
[8] R&D 1, p.307
[9] R&D2, p.12. Definition, Wolfe and Rosenthal, p.124, 1949.
[10] Evolution of a Science, footnote, p.98
[11] R&D 3, p.15; see also R&D 4, p.37; DMSMH, p.201
[12] R&D 1, p.182
[13] R&D 3, p.94
[14] R&D 3, p.94
[15] R&D1, p.48
[16] R&D1, p.336


Psychs in San Francisco

The American Psychiatric Association begins its annual meeting today at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. We could swear we’d seen a call to action sent to Scientologists that encouraged them to show up and protest, but now we can’t locate it.

So we really don’t know if there will be much of a presence today from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights — Scientology’s wacky anti-psychs front group.

But if you’re in San Francisco and happen to spot some fun protester action, please tell us about it!

UPDATE: Thank you to numerous people who heard our call for help. Here’s the flier we were thinking of…


We’ve heard from someone at the scene that a few Anons will be on hand and may send us some pictures later.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 18, 2013 at 07:00

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