July 24, 1950
Of Two Minds
A new cult is moldering through the U.S. underbrush. Its name:
Last week, its bible, "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental
steadily climbing the U.S. bestseller lists. Demand was especially
the West Coast. Bookstores in Los Angeles were selling "Dianetics" on
under-the-counter basis. Armed with the manual, which they called
"The Book," fanatical converts overflowed Saturday night meetings in
Hollywood, held dianetics parties, formed clubs, and "audited"
In many ways, dianetics ("the science of mind") is the poor man's
psychoanalysis: it has the touch of Couéism and a mild resemblance to
Buchmanite confession. It purports to cleanse the mind of previous
influences, thus vastly increasing its powers and efficiency, by
individual relive former painful experiences to "discharge" their evil
power. According to dianetics' discoverer L. (for Lafayette) Ron (for
Ronald) Hubbard: "The hidden source of all psychosomatic ills and
aberrations has been discovered and skills have been developed for
invariable cure." Sample ills: arthritis, allergies, asthma, some
difficulties, eye trouble, ulcers, migraine headaches, sex deviations.
Ron Hubbard, 39, a swashbuckling, red-haired six-footer, originally
dianetics in the magazine "Astounding Science Fiction." As a result,
earliest devotees were science fiction fans. When "Dianetics" was
published (Hermitage House: $4), doctors and psychologists paid it
heed. But last week some were getting in on what seemed like a good
The Los Angeles Times carried an ad: "Those interested in receiving
auditing please telephone DU 2-3260." At the end of the line was Dr.
Bronson Twitchell, psychologist; he said he got about a dozen calls a
Reason & Records
According to Hubbard's "science," the mind consists of two parts: 1)
analytical, (corresponding roughly to Freud's "conscious" mind), which
perceives, remembers and reasons; and 2) , the reactive (something
Freud's "unconscious"), which neither remembers nor reasons but simply
records. Normally, the analytical mind is dominant. But it can be
off" by unconsciousness from injury or anesthesia, more often by acute
emotional shock or physical pain.
Then says Hubbard, the reactive mind is switched on. It does not store
memories, but "engrams" -- impressions on protoplasm itself. An engram
he declares, "a complete recording, down to the last accurate detail
every perception present in a moment of . . . 'unconsciousness.'"
Modern man's analytical mind, says Hubbard, is a perfect computing
incapable of error except when it is supplied with wrong data. An
typical of Hubbard's cases: a woman is struck by a man, and while she
unconscious he kicks and reviles her. A chair is overturned and a
been left running. she does not "remember" these things because she is
unconscious, but according to dianetics her reactive mind records them
in an engram. Later, the crash of an overturned chair and the sound of
running water might make the engram "key-in" to her analytical mind,
bring back the pain of the kicks or actually make her ill.
Count to Seven
To exorcise such a demon engram, the dianetics patient lolls on a
easy chair in a dimly lit room. The auditor says: "When I count from
seven your eyes will close." He keeps counting to seven until the
eyes close. (The patient, says Hubbard, is still awake but in
a typical procedure, the auditor may next command: "Let us return to
fifth birthday." The patient's mind is then supposed to slip back
"time-track" to that birthday. Having "returned," he "relives" the
By skipping from one point on the time track to another, the patient
eventually relives a variety of painful experiences. In so doing, he
reel from the relived pain of a blow on the head, double up with
cramps, sweat or shiver in terror. Once these painful engrams have
through the waking analytical mind, says Hubbard, they lose their
-- their power of evil. The analytical mind puts them in a dead file
many closed accounts. The final goal of dianetics -- in its own
jargon -- is
to make a patient a "clear," a person whose every engram has been
Hubbard's most striking departure from older psychoanalytical schools
insistence that protoplasm begins to record engrams immediately after
conception. He sees the period of gestation as one of dire discomforts
great perils. The most important of all engrams, which he dubs
"basic-basic," is the one received after conception -- perhaps during
mother's examination by her doctor, or in some mishap before her
Frank Dessler, an office manager at 20th Century-Fox, had dabbled in
dianetics and was persuaded to audit an actor's wife who had suffered
migraine. Says Dessler: "She was suffering a severe headache, but it
like migraine. It seemed to be sharp and on either side of the head.
Finally, she actually experience birth. She crouched on the couch in
position with her head between her knees." She attributed the pain she
tot he pull of the forceps on her head. Having relived her birth, her
A couple in their 30s, Arthur and Elena Tracy, were auditing each
Says Elena: "I'd had a great deal of illness all my life -- every
psychosomatic illness you can think of. I was in bed all through my
pregnancy and for three months after it. Now I believe I'll have no
trouble. I believe it with all my heart. My husband took me back to
believe was the prenatal period of my life. I began to feel as if I
drowning. I brought up phlegm . . . and my eyes were running. I almost
choked and began gasping for breath. Apparently my head was twisted to
side in my mother's womb. The pain was intense."
Some professional psychologists have taken up dianetics. Says Dr. Jean
Bordeaux, psychotherapist (Ph.D., no M.D.): "I'm using dianetics every
and using it on dozens of patients. It works. Hubbard made a
make no mistake about that."
However, Hubbard insists that the
even at the hands of an untrained layman, can do no harm. "On this,"
Dr. Bordeaux, "we part company."
More specific is the concern of Dr. Pauline K. Pumphrey (as osteopath
an M.D.), in whose ultramodern Santa Monica home two-score dianetics
met last week to pool their resources (some hoped to audit each
somewhat in the fashion of a Buchmanite meeting). There is danger, Dr.
Pumphrey holds, if Hubbard's cellular theory is right, that an inept
"contacting" the engram recorded at the time of a severe hemorrhage,
example, might cause the hemorrhage to be repeated.
But most dianetics fans are laymen and some accept every Hubbard word
revealed truth. Said one: "I have trouble only when I have any doubts.
main thing is for the auditor to subject himself to a thorough
indoctrination which amounts to a sublime faith."
Hubbard's own opinion of his contribution: "The creation of
dianetics is a
milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to
inventions of the wheel and the arch."