August 21, 1950
Dianetics book review; Best Seller
The first book since Thomas Merton's "The Seven Storey
Mountain" to show signs of becoming a runaway best seller is a
452-page work, published May 15 by Hermitage House, that
projects a new science of mental health. Called "Dianetics," it is
the work of L. (for Lafayette) Ron Hubbard, a 39-year-old civil
engineer, radio and film writer, veteran of the armed services,
and successful author of scientific fiction.
According to Hubbard, memory is not a faculty of the mind
alone, but of the entire cellular system. The conscious mind he
compares with a scientific brain, invariably giving the correct
answer if accurate data is fed to it. But like a scientific machine
being short-circuited, it is distorted by shocks, violent or painful
experiences, and restored to order by "auditing," the dianetic
equivalent of the psychoanalytic session.
Reviews were generally unfavorable, although most reviewers
avoided the author's provocative claims and challenges ("a
milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire"). Sales in
the first two weeks were about 3,000 copies.
In June "Dianetics" began to sell in California. In July it sold
13,000 copies on the West Coast. Meanwhile dianetic auditing
groups appeared throughout the country; there are fourteen in
New York City, 500 in the United States. Last month, sales
were about 3,000 a week, and the book was climbing steadily
on the best-seller lists. Three weeks ago they jumped to 4,000 a
week. Total sales to date are 55,000, a Japanese edition has
already been translated, French and German editions are being
translated now, and a sequel, "Dianetics: What It Means to
You," is scheduled for late fall.