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Word To Your Mother: Dianetics And Its Lack of Boundaries

oedipus&sphinxWelcome 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 another marathon chapter, “Mechanisms and Aspects of Therapy.” It reviews various techniques of dianetic therapy that L. Ron Hubbard has already described.

Generally, Hubbard is giving an auditor tips for how to deal with various issues that come up in therapy, always with the goal of eventually returning a patient to his or her very first engram, whatever first traumatized the little zygote soon after conception.

But in these instructions, we ran into something that really startled us and had never, as far as we can tell, come up before in this book.

As Hubbard is running down a list of “tools” that an auditor can use in therapy, he makes the point that an auditor must disregard what a patient thinks his case is about — an auditor is in charge of his case.

But it’s the way that Hubbard expresses this that really stunned us:

Wife, son, whatever you may be to the pre-clear, you are the auditor when you are auditing.

Hey, wait a minute. Hubbard never discussed this before — he apparently expects that just about any two people might engage in this therapy, even a man auditing his own mother, or a wife auditing her husband.

Say what?

We’re suddenly flashing on all of the material that’s come before — a fetus being knocked unconscious because his parents are having sex, “remembering” what his parents were shouting at each other while screwing or fighting.

And now, it comes out that Hubbard expected that this kind of thing would emerge while a mother was auditing her son, or a woman auditing her father?

The implications of that are actually very disturbing. Can you help us out here, Vance? By the time you had got into Scientology, were there some boundaries drawn that would keep, for example, a mother from auditing her son about the kinds of things that happened to him while he was (supposedly) in her womb?

VANCE: Even by the time I got in there weren’t any hard boundaries. Any two people are free to audit each other, including family members. Of course, there’s no directive that they do so. I’d say that, on balance, most Scientologists avoid giving or receiving auditing to their family members for the obvious reason that it might make it more difficult for the preclear to open up. And while Hubbard got a lot wrong, he definitely knew that absolutely nothing would happen in auditing if the preclear doesn’t trust and open up to the auditor. On the other hand, I met at least one guy who was quite proud that he had audited his own son to clear. So, they’re all over the map.

But let’s back up a little. First, Dianetics is supposed to be a sort of lay person’s psychotherapy, something that anybody could do. And who else are we going to do it with than our friends and family? I believe that Hubbard does note somewhere that it is not ideal for families or couples to audit each other for obvious reasons. On the other hand, he says that even bad auditing is better than no auditing. So, if nobody else is available, then you’re better off “co-auditing” with a family member than not auditing at all. So, yes, it’s shocking, but if we were to credit the idea that any auditing is better than none (a notion I reject, just in case you were wondering), it kind of would follow that family members should just hunker down and audit each other if nobody else were available.

Second, we should remember that Dianetics auditing isn’t much like (my notion of) a traditional talking therapy where patients try to figure out their problems with rational guidance from a therapist. Rather, in Dianetcs, preclears create a scene. There are no questions like, “How did that make you feel?” or “What made you think that?” or “Why did you say that?” It’s more like, “What happened next?” and “What’s the temperature?” The focus in Dianetics auditing is on the physical perceptions of the preclear rather than on mental status. So, as long as auditors can contain their incredulity about the scene being fabricated, things can proceed nicely. I think this at least notionally helps reduce the chances of family members getting into arguments during an auditing session.

Still, I get your point that it would be just a little uncomfortable for a child to regale mom or dad about their sexual exploits. For hard-core Scientologists, that’s something we would endure and proceed. That’s where the Scientology communication drills come into play, which teach a person how to not react to situations.

THE BUNKER: Another thing that surprised us in this chapter, Vance, was a four-letter word that Hubbard rarely seemed to use: love.

He has a short section titled “Love” in this big chapter, and it starts off with Hubbard waxing poetic again: “Without doubt Love has ruined more lives than war and made more happiness than all the dreams of Paradise.”

He then suggests that love comes in three types:

It has been discovered that there are three kinds of Love between woman and man: the first is covered under the law of affinity and is the affection with which Mankind holds Mankind; the second is sexual selection and is a true magnetism between partners; the third is compulsive “Love” dictated by nothing more reasonable than aberration.

Hubbard goes on to say that the second kind really only exists in legends, the first can be found if you look around, but that he’s really concerned with the third type, which “crams the courts with urgent pleas for divorce.”

Well, so much for love.

Vance, please tell us what you saw in regards to “2D” — Scientologists and their relationships, and what people seemed to think about the concept of “love” while you were in the church.

VANCE: Scientologists are all over the map in terms of relationships. Some Scientologists are romantic. Some are robotic. Relationships form and end. Infidelity is rare, but not unheard of. Child and spousal abuse are extremely rare so far as I can tell. On the whole, as long as both partners are Scientologists, most Scientology couples get along fine and are loving. Scientology is just like any other cult in that regard. And it makes sense. I mean, this is a group of people with a range of personalities weighted towards oddballs, and all of whom want to be better people and have better relationships. Granted, we all have different definitions of what it means to be a better person, but it’s pretty much universal for people to consider peaceful loving relationships to be better than acrimonious ones. I think it’s more about values than skills. Scientology offers some (but no cost-effective) skills for improving relationships with others. Either way, we’re talking about people who endorse and strive to evince warm relationships. Again, just like any other cult.

But maybe I didn’t quite answer your question. Referring back to the book, I think all those scenes of couples warring with each other are depictions of what Scientologists consider to be typical wog behavior: yet more evidence that Scientology works because Scientologists don’t act that way. I don’t recall ever having a discussion with anybody about these so-called three kinds of love. To me, it seemed like a pedestrian analysis. We have the customary two kinds of love: sexual/passionate and filial/philanthropic. And then Hubbard tells us there’s a third, which basically amounts to unhealthy co-dependency. Yawn. Of course, he packages it all in his own special twaddle to make it seem like these things “were discovered.”

Oh, one final point. Scientologists use “2D” as a noun to refer to their romantic partners or to sexual psychic energy. You can hear Scientologist talking about Joe and Betty “2D flowing” at each other. Even when I was in, that word choice drove me up the wall.

(Next week — Dianetics Has No Patience for ESP or Telepathy — That’s Pseudoscience!)


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 30, 2013 at 07:00

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