L Ron Hubbard's DIANETICS:The Modern Science of Mental Health
The Case AGAINST it
by Oscar Sachs M.D.
member of the
psychiatric staff of
Mount Sinai Hospital
of New York
L. Ron Hubbard's theory of mental therapy, Dianetics, appropriately enough first appeared in a journal called Astounding Science Fiction. In a foreword the editors were at some pains to point out that the article by Mr. Hubbard was not a "hoax or a joke but was a direct statement of a totally new scientific thesis:" After reading the article, the foreword was not convincing.
Stripped of its language, the treatment called Dianetics seems to consist of one person, the therapist (who may be a layman), putting the patient into a reverie. From the description this reverie is a form of light hypnosis. Even the classical method of induction is used, that of counting and telling the patient he is going to close his eyes. Further suggestion follows, based on an interpretation of what the patient says, and eventually all symptoms of emotional distress are supposed to disappear. Why this happens is explained by Hubbard in terms of clearing a calculating machine which has stored up bits of harmful information. The theory is that when these facts are brought into the open they disappear, leaving a perfectly functioning mental machine.
The discoverer of this interesting theory is an engineer, and a most gifted science fiction writer, but he appears to have little training in psychology. His book, Dianetics, reveals almost no information about the patients who were "all cured", or about where the work was done, or what actually were the criteria of mental illness and cure. He states that his "right to enter this field was an inquiring brain which had been trained in mathematics and engineering and which had a memory bank full of questions and far flung observations." With this training, and the assumption that the human mind was an engineering problem "the modern science of mental health" was developed.
Another basic assumption was that all answers are simple. In order to make the facts agree with that assumption, he then proceeds to simplify and oversimplify until everything is just an "engram". An "engram", from the description, appears to be what psychiatrists years ago called "memory trace".
The technique of using old psychoanalytical concepts under new names is frequently followed, and the idea that it is possible to change something by giving it a new name is clung to throughout. At other times psychiatric terms are wrongly used, as far example when he calls "manic" certain historical personalities such as Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. Manic is a well-defined serious mental illness described in any textbook.
The engineer-author's description of the schizophrenic as being "off his time track" is highly entertaining, but tells no more than the more common mechanical terminology of "having a screw loose."
The use of such vague terms and even vaguer concepts abounds in Hubbard's presentation of his theory. They are significant in that they serve to obscure the real fallacies of Dianetics.
The most emphatically clear statement is the conviction of the discoverer that:
"the creation of Dianetics is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his invention of the wheel and the arch."
We do not have the words of the inventors of these other boons, but no other invention that I know has ever been so described by its own inventor.
To tackle the multitude of fanciful hypothesis would be too long a task. There is one which merits a little discussion. That is a basic concept that prenatal happenings - and even the prayers, actions and experiences of the mother during and shortly after the conception of the child exist as "en grams" (memories) within the child throughout his life. Complete conversations between the parents are supposed to exist in the mind of the fetus even when it is only a few weeks old!
To quote one example from the book itself: "The man who comes in and says he has a bad pain in his stomach that feels 'just like a number 12 gauge copper wire going straight through me has quite possibly had a number 12 gauge copper wire through him in an attempted abortion. . . " One can well imagine the three months-old fetus (without eyes or movable limbs) examining this wire which had pierced him in utero, deciding its composition and size, and then storing the "engram" in a brain that had hardly developed! Perhaps he afterwards hysterically shied away from telephones and electrical appliances using this particular type of wire!
Throughout the ages mankind has attempted to find the elixir of life and the magician's stone. The certain and quick "cure" has always found a ready ear, for it supplies a need that is basic in many people. It gives them a belief closely linked to superstition and magic, although of late cloaked with the pseudo-respectability of the word science. Our foods, clothing and even our cigarettes are sold these days, not on their enjoyment value, but on what various "scientific" tests prove. Patent medicines that will cure everything from gout to mother- in-law troubles sell by the millions, and in this day and age it is therefore not surprising that new, quick and certain "cures" for the emotional problems of our times should present themselves in large number.
The danger of the miracle cure in medicine most often lies not merely in the possible harm the mixture can do, but, more important still, in that it sometimes prevents the patient from seeking skilled help before it is too late. In psychiatry, too, the greatest danger from many of the quick "cures" is that the public may resort to them instead of seeking adequately trained professional help.
Although, according to L. Ron Hubbard, the mind is really like an electronic calculating machine, there is no doubt that in many of those persons seeking help the balance between functioning and serious breakdown is often a highly delicate one and the danger of a layman, however intelligent, treating such a case after reading one book is as horrifying as the idea of a psychiatrist taking apart an atom bomb after reading the current science fiction on the subject.
Text for this article is webbed HERE http://www.lermanet.com/dianetics/mount-sinai-md-on-dianetics.htm
Multi-page .tif File suitable for evidenciary purposes, this is an image from microfich, 4 pages total mount-sinai-md-on-dianetics.tif If only the first page is viewable in your web browser( as it is in mine), Right click and download, then open with IrfanView or other recent vintage image viewer. This is a multipage monochrome tif file. OCR by Arnie Lerma 9 September 2006, webbed with express intent to help protect the public from the Scientology fraud
The DIANETICS Index Page on Lermanet.com Exposing the CON
Review of Dianetics from the American Scientist
Review of Dianetics from California Institute of Technology
Introduction Hypnosis in Scientology and Dianetics, Hubbard was master Master Stage Hypnotist from the notes of Hubbard's literary agent Forrest Ackerman
The Arnie Lerma's award winning Art of Deception Part ONE, Part Two summary of lessons learned by this writer as of 2000.
SEARCH and SUPPORT this site