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Hubbard's sources

Advance comes from asking free-minded questions of nature, not from quoting the works and thinking the thoughts of by-gone years.[1]

There is certainly no book in existence quite like Dianetics, with its wild scientific claims and unsubstantiated arguments. The claim is that dianetics was a totally unique theory of the mind wrought from Hubbard's "many years of exact research and careful testing."[2] But was it rather a loose composite of already existing theories mixed with novel, unproven ideas? Despite Hubbard's claims of originality, many of the ideas in dianetics were already existing and even in vogue before dianetics appeared. Either Hubbard really studied other (uncredited) works before he wrote Dianetics, or he wasted years of his time re-inventing the wheel.

Although there are no reference notes in Dianetics to see what are Hubbard's ideas and what are borrowed, we can quickly eliminate the idea that dianetics appeared "from the blue" by Hubbard's own statements. In Dianetics itself is the statement that "many schools of mental healing from the Aesculapian to the modern hypnotist were studied after the basic philosophy of dianetics had been postulated".[3] Alfred Korzybski, Emil Kraepelin, Franz Mesmer, Ivan Pavlov, Herbert Spencer, and others are mentioned as resources in Dianetics, so we must assume Hubbard was crediting these people to some degree. He must certainly have known, then, of at least some of the research from his time which will be mentioned in this article. Hubbard in other settings acknowledged Sigmund Freud (especially through Commander "Snake" Thompson),[4] Count Alfred Korzybski,[5] and Aleister Crowley,[6] as contributors to his ideas on the human mind. In a speech in 1958, Hubbard stated that he had spent much time in the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital medical library in 1945 during a stay for ulcers, where "I was able to get in a year's study."[7]

In fact, many of the theories and ideas in Dianetics can be found in scientific and philosophical literature previous to the first publishing of Hubbard's theories. Parts of Dianetics, for example, have striking resemblance to two articles found in Volume 28 (1941) of the Psychoanalytic Review.

Dianetics theory posits the existence of engrams. These are memories of events that occur around us when our analytical mind is unconscious, and they are recorded in a separate area of the mind called the reactive mind. A seemingly unique theory in Dianetics is that these memories begin being stored "in the cells of the zygote - which is to say, with conception."[8] These engrams can cause problems for the person throughout life unless handled through dianetics auditing.

Dr. J. Sadger, nine years before the introduction of Dianetics in 1950, wrote that several of his patients were not cured of their psychological problems until he had taken them back to their existence as sperm or ovum. He declared that "there exists certainly a memory, although an unconscious one, of embryonic days, which persists throughout life and may continuously determine an action."[9] Sadger spends much time explaining how his patients' memories of the time when they were zygotes or even sperm or ovum had affected their adult behaviors, noting that "an unconscious lasting memory must have remained from these embryonic days."[10] There were "unmistakable dreams" of being a sperm in the father's testicle.

Engrams, those unconscious memories in dianetics, are said by Hubbard to be stored in the cells of the body and passed on to their clone cells and finally on to the adult being. Hubbard claimed to discover that "patients sometimes have a feeling that they are sperms or ovums... this is called the sperm dream."[11] It was impossible, he claimed, to deny to a pre-clear that he could remember being a sperm. But Sadger wrote about this first, and Hubbard could well have read this in his "year's study" at Oak Knoll Hospital.

Another coincidental "discovery" of Hubbard and Sadger was that mothers often attempt to abort their child. Sadger states that "so many a fall or other accident of a pregnant woman is nothing else than an attempt at abortion on the part of the unconscious, not to mention those cases where the mother seeks to free herself more or less forcibly from the unwanted child."[12] Hubbard concurs; "Attempted abortion is very common,"[13] and in fact "twenty or thirty abortion attempts are not uncommon in the aberee".[14] Again, not an idea "from the blue."

Life in the womb was not very kind, according to one of Sadger's patients; "Perhaps when father performed coitus with mother in her pregnancy I was much shaken and rocked. Shall that have been one reason that I so easily became dizzy and that all my life I have had an aversion even as a child from swings and carousels?"[15] Hubbard, in a similar vein, insists that the mother "should not have coitus forced upon her. For every coital experience is an engram in the child during pregnancy."[16] "Papa becomes passionate and baby has the sensation of being put into a running washing machine."[17]

There are at least three other similarities like the "sperm dreams", commonality of abortion attempts, and fetus discomfort during parental sex. This seems quite a coincidence, but it is not known whether Hubbard read Sadger's article. Suffice it to say that these are major ideas in dianetics, but they are not new ideas.

The second article under discussion from Psychoanalytic Review deals with the unbearable conditions during birth and the affects of these in later life. Grace W. Pailthorpe, M.D., argued in this 1941 article that patients should be psychoanalyzed more deeply into the period of infancy, or at least to the 'trauma of birth'. Otherwise no lasting therapeutic effect could be expected. Birth has traumatized all of us, she declares, and these unconscious memories drive us in our adulthood. "It is only when deep analysis has finally exposed the unconscious deviations of our vital force"[18] that we can recover and enjoy life.

"It was no obscure theory," wrote Hubbard, "which brought about the discovery of the exact role prenatal experience and birth play in aberration and psychosomatic ills." He coincidentally concurs with Pailthorpe's obscure theory, however.

With Pailthorpe's article, for example, we can also note the dramatic similarities of dianetics with simple Freudian psychoanalysis. There is in both the return to past times in the patient's life to search for the source of his or her current problems. Once these problematic memories are discovered and treated the problems vanish. In Pailthorpe's article we have a man who was hopelessly traumatized by the events at his birth. He was cruelly kicked out of his "home" in the womb, and his resistance to this was assumed to be the cause of the immediate traumas of the nurse's and mother's attentions (which were "painful to the child's sensitive body"[19]). These traumas caused headaches and social disorders in adult life. Psychoanalysis discovered the causes (birth trauma) and when these were brought to the conscious level with their meaning explained, the headaches and social dysfunctions were alleviated.

Dianetics follows this line of reasoning to a great degree. According to Hubbard, engrams (past traumas) are discovered in the pre-clear's past, and bringing these engrams into consciousness (from the reactive to the analytic mind) alleviates the disorder. Hubbard claims that after auditing people (he had the pre-clear lie on a couch in Freudian imitation), "psycho-somatic illness...by dianetic technique...has been eradicated entirely in every case."[20]

In Dianetics, the reader is left with the impression that the ideas of birth and pre-birth memories and traumas, multiple abortion attempts, and fetal discomfort in the womb are new discoveries. As can be seen, this is not the case. And there are many impressions of "new" and "unique" that are incorrect as well.

Thomas Hobbes

Another important "discovery" of Hubbard's is that "Man, as a life form, can be demonstrated to obey in all his actions and purposes the one command: 'Survive!'."[21] Hubbard's four "dynamics" of self, sex (meaning procreation), group, and mankind, all deal with survival of man. Although Hubbard makes grandiose claims that he discovered that man's ultimate goal is survival, one can trace this idea back to Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher who wrote in the 1600's. In his famous work, Leviathan, Hobbes wrote; "The Right of Nature... is the Liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he will himselfe, for the preservation of his own Nature; that is to say, of his own Life; and consequently, of doing any thing, which in his own Judgement, and Reason, hee shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto."[22] This, in Hubbard's terms, is the first dynamic, or personal survival. Leviathan is divided into three parts, on Man, Commonwealth, and Darkness. The first, in Hubbard's terms, could be said to deal with the first dynamic (self-survival), and the second with the third dynamic (group survival). "The finall Cause, End, or Designe of men... in the introduction of that restraint upon themselves (in which wee see them live in Common-wealths), is the foresight of their own preservation."[23] Again we have an idea which Hubbard claims to have discovered, found in another's writings years earlier.

Coincidentally (?), Hobbes has some other ideas in common with Hubbard. At the beginning of every dianetics and Scientology book is this note: "In reading this book, be very certain you do not go past a word you do not understand."[24] Throughout both dianetics and Scientology training is the notion that words must be clearly understood before course study can continue. This is a useful suggestion, and many Scientologists may believe Hubbard "discovered" this idea, but Hobbes stressed it over 300 years before Hubbard did. In Leviathan, Hobbes derided others whose ideas he was critical of thusly; "The first cause of Absurd conclusions I ascribe to the want of Method; in that they begin not their Ratiocination [argument] from Definitions; that is, from settled significations of their words."[25] Hobbes covers this idea several times, stressing that "in the right Definition of Names, lyes the first use of Speech; which is the Acquisition of Science: and in wrong, or no Definitions, lyes the first abuse; from which proceed all false and senselesse Tenets."[26]

I will leave it to the reader to investigate the other similar ideas between Hobbes and Hubbard, and will leave the question open whether Hubbard borrowed rather than discovered these ideas, since again there is no complete list of what books Hubbard had read.

Aleister Crowley

Hubbard had clear connections to the occult. Even in the first publication of dianetics in "Astounding Science Fiction", Hubbard in explaining how he did his "research" into what the mind was doing, says he used "automatic writing, speaking and clairvoyance"[27] to discover what the mind's memory banks were doing. Automatic writing is an occult method of communicating with the spirit world, although psychologists consider its products to arise from subconscious thoughts of the writer. Whichever is correct, it is hardly a method used by competent scientific researchers.

Hubbard's connection to the occultist Aleister Crowley is quite clear and noteworthy. Crowley called himself the Anti-Christ, the Beast of Revelations, and 666. Russell Miller has adequately chronicled Hubbard's connection in 1945 to John W. Parsons, who headed Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis chapter in Los Angeles.[28] Hubbard was an active member in this group for several months, and first met his second wife there. The Church of Scientology claims that Hubbard was actually infiltrating this group in order to break it up, but the following should suffice to dismiss this claim.

In the Philadelphia Doctorate Course lectures taped in 1952, Hubbard discusses occult magic of the middle ages, and recommends a current book - "it's fascinating work in itself, and that's work written by Aleister Crowley, the late Aleister Crowley, my very good friend."[29] The book recommended was The Master Therion, (published in London in 1929) later re-released as Magick in Theory and Practise. L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. asserts that during the time when the Philadelphia course was given his father would read Crowley's works "in preparation for the next day's lecture..."[30]

There are interesting similarities between Crowley's writings and the teachings of Hubbard. Dianetics' Time Track, in which every incident in a person's life is chronologically recorded in full in the mind, is quite similar to Crowley's Magical Memory. The Magical Memory is developed over time until "memories of childhood reawaken"[31] which were previously forgotten, and memories of previous incarnations are recalled as well. Hubbard gives examples in the Philadelphia Doctorate Course of several people remembering lives earlier on earth, some up to a million years ago. The similarity between the Magical Memory and Time Track, then, is that they both can recall every past incident in a person's life, they both can recall incidents from past lives, and they both must be developed by certain techniques in order to make use of them.

Both Hubbard and Crowley consider it important to have the person recall his or her birth. "Having allowed the mind to return for some hundred times to the hour of birth, it should be encouraged to endeavour to penetrate beyond that period"[32] (Crowley). "After twenty runs through birth, the patient experienced a recession of all somatics and 'unconsciousness' and aberrative content." "Thus there was no inhibition about looking earlier than birth for what Dianetics had begun to call basic-basic"[33] (Hubbard).

Both Hubbard and Crowley are avowedly anti-psychiatry. "Official psychoanalysis is therefore committed to upholding a fraud... psychoanalysts have misinterpreted life, and announced the absurdity that every human being is essentially an anti-social, criminal, and insane animal"[34] (Crowley). Hubbard considered that psychiatry controlled most of society and was struggling to create their own 1984 world.[35]

Hubbard[36] and Crowley both posit the ability of the person to leave his or her body at times. Crowley states that the way to learn to leave your body is to mock up a body like your own in front of your physical body. Eventually you will learn to leave your physical body with your "astral body" and travel and view at will without physical restrictions.[37] Hubbard teaches the same, and his method of "exteriorization" is to tell the person to "have preclear mock up own body"[38], which will send the person outside his body.

Both Crowley[39] and Hubbard[40] use an equilateral triangle pointing up in a circle as one of their group's symbols. Both use Volume 0 instead of Volume 1 to begin enumerating their works. One could go on for quite some time listing the similarities between Crowley's and Hubbard's theories and writings, but for more the reader is encouraged to look for him or herself.

In Crowley's Organization are several grade levels. To reach the Grade of Adeptus Exemptus "The Adept must prepare and publish a thesis setting forth His knowledge of the Universe, and his proposals for its welfare and progress. He will thus be known as the leader of a school of thought."[41] It is apparent that Hubbard has fulfilled this requirement.


First, an explanation of what gnosticism is. It is an old religious philosophy with Platonic roots. Basically, gnostics believe that we as humans are "outsiders" to this material universe. Our immortal godlike souls were trapped here in a body by evil forces, and we are reincarnated continually, while our true spiritual identities are clouded from our memory. It is our task to discover the hidden knowledge, or gnosis, that will allow us to escape this evil material world of illusion and return to our rightful place. We keep reincarnating until we learn how to escape.
The world seems to be 'the epitome of evil'. Because it is alien to their true nature, human beings must renounce it and flee from it in order to be able to return to their heavenly home. To achieve this aim they must possess Gnosis, be reborn in their true nature, and be baptized in the cup of knowledge into which the divine intellect has been poured.[42]

Salvation begins with a messenger from beyond bringing the necessary knowledge to mankind, but this knowledge is given only to those deemed worthy, and even then one must follow certain steps in order to arrive at the ultimate Truths. The individual must struggle to earn and then incorporate the secret knowledge needed to return to his rightful place.

There is a need for someone to bring this gnosis or knowledge to mankind:

It follows that this divine reality cannot be known through the ordinary faculties of the mind. Illumination, revelation, the intervention of a celestial mediator is required. He descends from above to call the Gnostic, to rouse him from earthly sleep and drunkenness, to take him back to his divine homeland.[43]

While on this earth, man is plagued by many difficulties which lessen his real abilities and being. One problem to us all is that within each of our bodies is a plethora of spirits or souls, causing us harm:

A hierarchy of demons, servile and ready, is continually at work in everyone's body, transformed into a remorseless inferno in miniature.[44]

Mankind is also cursed with forgetfulness of his true home and true composition, being blinded by this material world.

As with Christianity today, there were many sects of gnosticism. The most famous gnostics were those that took the basic ideas of Christianity and mixed them into their own otherworldly theories. One of the most dangerous enemies of the early church were the Christian gnostic movement, for it greatly distorted the essential message of Christ and his followers while using similar terminology. The early church fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian, spent much of their time speaking out against gnosticism.

Scientology, however, embraces gnosticism. Its doctrines are gnostic, and it uses gnostic writings to support its own ideas. For example, "Advance!" issue 93 has an article entitled "The Surprising Christian Tradition of Reincarnation", which relies heavily on gnostic writings such as the Pistis Sophia (the best known of the surviving gnostic writings) to support its viewpoint. Scientology is clearly gnostic, by its own admission and by the similarities to its own and gnostic teachings. Once again, ideas Hubbard declares to be new and discovered by him, are shown to be derived from old and widespread teachings in existence long before he came along.

Hubbard claimed to be the sole source of the hidden knowledge needed to escape these earthly bonds. "The mystery of this universe... has been, as far as its track is concerned, completely occluded. No one has ever been able to make any breakthrough and come off with it and know what happened... I finally was able to make a breakthrough which brought people through the zone safely."[45]

When Hubbard died in 1986, it was announced that he had left this "MEST" (the acronym of Matter, Space, Time, and Energy) universe to continue his work and research. In other words, he had obtained the gnosis needed to break the bonds to this material illusory plane and travel to other worlds or dimensions at will.[46]

Hubbard was the sole source for the technology Scientologists need to break free from this MEST universe. "Nobody else - NOBODY - ever discovered it."[47] He is thus the gnostic "celestial mediator" empowered to bring mankind the knowledge needed to bring us back home.

Another obvious connection to gnosticism is in the upper level of training known as Operating Thetan III, or "The Wall of Fire." It is at this level that the Scientologist first is taught that many of his problems are caused by other souls attached to his soul. These souls are detached and sent on their way through the course training. The goal of OTIII is to rid the individual of hundreds of "Body Thetans", or other souls attached to the main dominant individual. No one is even allowed to see OTIII material until he has completed the previous courses leading up to OTIII.[48] This material is carefully guarded and treated as a great important mystery to be imparted only to those proven worthy.

These great "discoveries" of Hubbard actually were taught as far back as 300 AD:

"For many spirits dwell in it [the body] and do not permit it to be pure; each of them brings to fruition its own works, and they treat it abusively by means of unseemly desires. To me it seems that the heart suffers in much the same way as an inn: for it has holes and trenches dug in it and is often filled with filth by men who live there licentiously and have no regard for the place because it belongs to another."[49]

Although this sounds almost identical to ideas in OTIII, it is in fact a quote from Valentinus, one of the most famous early Christian gnostics, writing around 300 AD. Valentinus taught that there was more than one spirit within an individual, causing difficulties for the "host" or main soul of the individual. The gnostic Basilides also taught in a similar vein that man "preserves the appearance of a wooden horse, according to the poetic myth, embracing as he does in one body a host of such different spirits."[50]

The above is similar to the New Testament idea of demons in that demons are "outsiders" from the main inhabitant of the body and are problematic to the host. Gnostics, however, seem to feel that it is the normal human condition to have these other souls, whereas Christianity considers this a rare aberration.

Another gnostic idea, that this is a world of illusion, is in Scientology doctrine as well. Scientology teaches that this universe we live in is the MEST (matter, energy, space, time) universe that exists solely because the non-MEST beings known as thetans decided to agree to bind themselves to the rules and laws that we see operating here, such as gravity and the speed of light: "a Thetan may postulate a material or mental condition and subsequently consider that he cannot escape that condition, and succumb to the resulting illusion of entrapment within it."[51] Theta beings (Hubbard's name for the soul) lived here on earth by dwelling in a human body. Humans, that is, the living body, existed without the theta being before the thetans were trapped in this material universe. Theta beings are "trapped" into human bodies by trickery and forget their true nature:

Your preclear was basically good, happy, ethical and aesthetic before the contagion of the MEST universe got him. Then, still a thetan, he wasn't very good but he was still trusting and ethical. Finally, when he had a body - well, look around.[52]

Scientology then shares the gnostic idea that mankind is separate from the physical universe and is trapped against his will here.

As gnosticism is a secret knowledge, Scientology hides its upper level or OT level teachings under a strict veil of secrecy. When I visited the Los Angeles "Big Blue Building" of Scientology, I was invited to listen to some OT VIII's speak via satellite from the "Free Winds" ship where OT VIII is exclusively taught. An OT VII on board said that the OT VIII material is in a locked case, and the only way to open the case is to enter a certain locked room and pass the case under a laser beam there. Scientologists are taught that if they hear the teachings of OT III before they have taken the necessary previous courses, they will catch pneumonia and die.

Early gnostics also used various methods to hide their teachings. The initiations were so secret that today we can only piece parts of them together. The writings of many gnostics were purposely vague and incomprehensible, so only the initiated could understand them.

The goal of dianetics and Scientology is to return the Theta being to its inherent abilities (i.e. freeing it from the laws of this universe) and remove it from its need to have a body. The sole source for accomplishing this is the technology of L. Ron Hubbard, celestial mediator of the gnostic Church of Scientology.

Parenthetically, one can clearly see from above that these teachings clash with Christian thinking today. While Scientologists claim that "in Scientology there is no attempt to change another's beliefs or to persuade the person away from his own religious practice,"[53] in reality there is an incongruity of beliefs that must fall either to the side of Scientology or Christianity. They are not compatible. Scientology is gnostic, which has been seen from almost the beginning of Christianity to be a great threat to correct Christian dogma (see the Ante-Nicene Fathers writings, for example), and it requires the belief in reincarnation, which is foreign to Christian thought. Elsewhere I write about Hubbard's connection to Aleister Crowley, "my very good friend," who called himself the anti-christ and taught accordingly. Hubbard generously borrowed ideas from and admired the writings of Crowley. Obviously, Scientology's claim that their ideas will not interfere with a person's Christian beliefs is absurd.


[1] DIANETICS, p. 173
[2] DIANETICS, p.ix of 1975 edition.
[3] DIANETICS, p.165.
[5] L. Ron Hubbard, cassette tape, "Introduction to Dianetics", Dianetics Lecture Series 1. 1950. Bridge Publications, Inc.
[6] L. Ron Hubbard, Philadelphia Doctorate Course series, cassette #18
[7] L. Ron Hubbard,"The Story of Dianetics and Scientology" , 1958 cassette tape #581OC18
[8] DIANETICS, p.176.
[9] Dr. J. Sadger, "Preliminary Study of the Psychic Life of the Fetus and the Primary Germ." PSYCHOANALYTIC REVIEW July 1941 28:3. p.333
[10] Sadger, p.343-4.
[11] DIANETICS, p.391.
[12] Sadger, p.336.
[13] DIANETICS, p. 211.
[14] DIANETICS, p.214.
[15] Sadger, p.352.
[16] DIANETICS, p.214.
[17] DIANETICS, p.176.
[18] Grace W. Pailthorpe, M.D., "Deflection of Energy, As a Result of Birth Trauma, and its Bearing Upon Character Formation" (The Psychoanalytic Review, vol. 27, pp.305-326) p.326
[19] Pailthorpe, p.307.
[20] DIANETICS, p.123.
[21] DIANETICS, P.29
[22] Thomas Hobbes, LEVIATHAN (London; Penquin Books, 1968) p.189
[23] LEVIATHAN, p.223
[24] DIANETICS, p.vii
[25] LEVIATHAN, p.114
[26] LEVIATHAN, p.106
[27] L. Ron Hubbard, "Dianetics: Evolution of a Science", Astounding Science Fiction May 1950 p.66
[28] BARE-FACED MESSIAH pp.112-130
[29] L. Ron Hubbard, "Conditions of Space/Time/Energy" Philadelphia Doctorate Course cassette tape #18 5212C05
[31] Aleister Crowley, MAGIC IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1976) p.51 (originally published 1929, London)
[32] MAGICK, p.419.
[33] DIANETICS, p. 171 and 172.
[34] MAGICK, p. xxiv
[35] L. Ron Hubbard, "What Your Donations Buy", church pamphlet
[36] DIANETICS pp. 340f.
[37] MAGICK pp. 146-7
[38] L. Ron Hubbard, THE CREATION OF HUMAN ABILITY, (Sussex, England: The Department of Publications Worldwide, 1954) p.226f
[39] Francis X. King, MIND AND MAGIC (London: Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 1991) p.100. see photograph.
[40] see for example the bookends of Hubbard's Research and Discovery series.
[41] MAGICK p.236
[42] Giovanni Filoramo, GNOSTICISM, (Cambridge, MASS:Basil Blackwell, 1990) p.9
[43] GNOSTICISM, p.40
[44] GNOSTICISM, p.92
[45] " Advance!" issue 93, p.16
[46] International Scientology News, issue 8, p. 3.
[47] International Scientology News issue 8 p.7
[48] The material has been released publicly in court cases. Scientologists refuse to read it, however, until they reach the proper level of training. They believe they will die if reading it unprepared.
[49] GNOSTICISM, p.98
[50] The Ante-Nicene Fathers (WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI) reprinted February 1983. Volume 2, p.372.
[51] L. Ron Hubbard, SCIENTOLOGY: A WORLD RELIGION EMERGES IN THE SPACE AGE, (Church of Scientology Information Service, Department of Archives, date and location not listed) p.23
[52] L. Ron Hubbard, A HISTORY OF MAN (Sussex, England; Department of Publications Worldwide, 1961), p.55
[53] Staff of Church of Scientology, WHAT IS SCIENTOLOGY? (Kingsport Press, Inc., 1978) p.199

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