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Sigmund Freud,originator of psychoanalytic technique, would turn over in his grave at distortions of his theories by promoters of Dianetics
DIANETICS made its debut as an article in Astounding Science-Fiction, a pulp magazine de. voted to weird tales of time ships and moon men.
By ELAINE C. STEWART
In the center of a semi-darkrened room, a woman lay limply on a couch. Around her in the shadowy light a group of people sat, silently, listening to the monotonous voice of a dark man bent close to the couch. "When I count to five," he said, "your somatic strip will go down the time track, down, down to the earliest moment of pain before birth." .
The woman on the couch stirred. The room grew completely quiet. "Where are you now on the time track?" he asked softly,.
For a moment the woman did not answer. "I am born," she said hesitantly. "I am just being born. All around me I see red arid white, lots of white. My father is standing at the door asking to come in but the nurse says, "Don't come in now, don't come in now, don't come in now... ."
The dramatic scene just described was witnessed by me. It too], place in the Hub- bard Dianetic Research Foundation at 55 East 82nd Street, New York City. Its purpose was to demonstrate the therapeutic, process to students studying Dianetics.
For anyone who hasn't heard about Di- anetics, it is a brand new "we cure every- thing" cult. A crude take-off on Freudian psychoanalysis, Dianetics purports to re; lieve all mental and physical ailments by helping the patient re-experience painful episodes. Unlike psychoanalysis, however, it has more practitioners than patients. .
THE reason for this is that anyone with enough interest in the subject, and $500, can become a professional "auditor" (Dianetics for practitioner) by enrolling in the Hubbard Dianetics Training School for a quick four weeks course. Upon graduation, the, auditor can claim $25 an hour for his services. But still another way to become an auditor is open to the average man. L. Ron Hubbard says that after reading his book "Dianetics; the Modern Science of Mental Health" (Hermitage House, $4.00) you can practice auditing on your friends and when you feel confident, hang out your brass shingle!
A week before witnessing the demonstration by the Hubbard group, I saw a similar scene take place in a New York apartment. The woman in this case was a highly disturbed person. (I knew because her doctor, worried about this venture into Dianetics, had briefed me beforehand on the case.)
Bothered by her constant anxiety and her seemingly overwhelming problems, she came here to seek help. She is a sick woman and needs treatment for a serious mental illness. Psychoanalysis might help her, a stay in a mental hospital or psycho-therapy could be the answer. What she must have, and quickly, if she is to regain her health, is immediate diagnosis and care by a competent, trained and experienced doctor. Instead, she has put herself into the hands of Dianetics, and her auditor three months ago was driving a bus in Long Island.
A highly imaginative person, the bus driver was an avid reader of the weird stories published by a pulp magazine which, using some scattered scientific facts, creates fantastic tales of wars on the moon, time ships which travel to the pastor future and horrible monstrosities who will someday rule the earth.
While glancing through a copy of "As- tounding Science-Fiction" he noticed an article by one of his favorite "Astounding" writers, L. Ron Hubbard. The subject was Dianetics, a method of treating all mental illness! He was immediately fascinated. And even more so, when he read that anyone could become a "practitioner" after read- ing the book.
The bus driver bought the book. He pored over it carefully. Uneducated, ignorant, he had no previous knowledge of psychiatry ,and was unable to recognize the handy ap- plication of Freudian terms, twisted around to fit this pseudo-science, Dianetics sounded easy to him. All you had to do was repeat' a few phrases to the patient, listen to him recount his painful experiences, convince him he could remember what happened to him before lie was born, and collect a nice ' tat $25 an hour If others could do it, why not he? -
The bus driver quit his job. lie began practicing what he had learned in the book on his friends. And soon he was teaching others, giving demonstrations in his small apartment and treating patients at $25 an hour. Some time later the woman whose case was described to me by this physician came to him for help.
Not a doctor, or even someone experi- enced in recognizing serious emotional dis- turbances, he had no idea that this woman was suffering from a severe mental illness. ' That she needed immediate confinement in a mental hospital and was a real danger to herself and others.
All he knew was what he learned in Dia- netics. When the patient rambled incoher- ently for hours, he would refer to the book. "Now who was it that used to talk like that?" he'd plead. "We gotta get rid of that ' 'engram'." But the woman kept right on rambling. She kept right on hearing voices and many of her insane delusions were deeply encour- aged.Dianetics is a serious danger to this woman's life. If she continues tier treatment, she may become hopelessly, incurably insane.
The medical doctor who related the case to me knows the woman's family. They are ashamed of the stigma of insanity and refuse to put her in, the hands of a reputable psychiatrist. They don't believe Dianetics will help her but feel at a loss to face the problem. So, their sister, wracked by her illness, is desperately trying to get help in the only way she knows. r
SUPPOSEDLY, Dianetics is a cure-all. Hubbard, the inventor of the theory, claims to cure with it any mental ill: psychoses, neuroses, compulsions, repression s, as well as the whole list of psychosomatic ills including asthma, ulcers, bursitis and diabetes: And a spokesman for Hubbard confidentially told me; "We think even' cancer is caused by engrams ... we're working on it right now."
The theory behind Dianetics is that the human mind is divided into two parts. Stealing more than a little from Freud, Hubbard explains them as the analytical mind and the reactive (subconscious) mind. But the reactive mind, he says, is constantly recording. It is especially active when its, owner is unconscious. When an individual is drugged, knocked out-or unborn-the reactive mind is busily recording (just like, a phonograph) pain, or unpleasant experiences. Similar to traumas, these experiences (called engrams by Hubbard) are busiest before birth. According to the theory, every harsh word that parents say,' or physical shock, makes a cellular impres- sion on the foetus and forms the basis for all emotional difficulties encountered in life,
"As a matter of fact," one top auditor said blithely, "we consider birth a late life experience. By that time most of the engram damage has been done!" .
The solution to this, Hubbard claims, is to get the engrams out of the reactive mind into the "memory bank" (conscious mind) making them harmless memories. When all the engrams have been released (by repetition largely of prenatal "memories") the patient reaches the Dianetic optimum and is henceforth known as a "clear." A "clear" is a super-man type person supposedly far superior to normal. He has no problems, no psychosomatic illness, has high intelligence, increased hearing and vision, creative imagination and is utterly incapable of error.
This comes about, says Dianetics, after getting rid of your first engram (called "basic" which took place some time before you were born). Only then can you try to find the "basic-basic" engram that you received the the instant of conception, or earlier. Fantastic as it sounds, Dianetics claims that the "time track" (where memory slides back automatically) divides into a Y, one side going back into your mother's ovum, the other side retreating into father's sperm! Dianetic auditors claim that you can repeat your parents' exact words up to 112 hours before the sperm met the ovum,
Is Dianetics a fraud? In seeking an answer to this question I personally investigated the facts of Dianetics.
First, I discovered, Dianetics is sweeping the country. Originally written as an article in "Astounding-Science Fiction" in May, 1950, the book, "Dianetics," was published in June, 1950. In July its author, L. Ron Hubbard, opened the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation Elizabeth, New Jersey, and immediately started training auditors, who in turn trained more auditors who set up practices both in New York and New Jersey. During the summer, the book climbed near the top of the New York Times best-seller list and by the end of the summer more than 75,000 copies had been sold. The book's publisher, Hermitage House, said, "At least 500,000 people are talking Dianetics and we predict this figure will hit the million mark in, six rnonths."
In my search for the truth about Dianetics, the first person I was able to interview was the editor of Astounding-Science Fiction. I had been told he was one of the sponsors of Dianetics and had published Hubbard's article describing it. Furthermore, he was a personal friend of Hubbard, had bought his fiction previously for the magazine and had collaborated with him on many "Astounding" stories. He is also the Treasurer of the Hubbard Dianetics foundation.
Coincidentally, Astounding Science-Fiction is also located in Elizabeth, New Jersey, blocks away from the Hubbard Foundation. Its editor, John W. Campbell Jr. talked at me for three hours, repeating over and over again that Dianetics is the outstanding discovery of the ages, He quoted Hubbard's "modest" foreword to his book, where he says, "The creation of Dianetics is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and supe- rior to his inventions of the wheel and arch."
He convinced me of his genuine interest in Dianetics. He also convinced ne of hls fanaticism. A tall man with thinning sandy hair and eyes which seemed wavering because of his heavy-lensed glasses, Campbell leaned back in his swivel chair and told me about Dianetics, in answer, to my repeated question as to the scientific proof of Dianetics, the hours of clinical research on patients and the case histories experimentally evaluated, he answered impatiently.
"The trouble is, everyone wants proof, in engineering, you can take an old breadboard, rig up a rough circuit and fiddle around with it. So it doesn't work. So you try some more. You've got this idea, and you keep trying until it works. You don't have any proof, but you know that it works. That's the way it is with Hubbard and Dianetics. He doesn't have any proof but he knows it works"
Is this the modern, scientific method of mental healing? Ex- perimenting with millions of lives on the basis "he knows it works"?
Campbell talked on and on, "Take a manic-depressive," he said. "In a half hour he could walk out of here -- after I give him a little treatment-and he'll be on top of the world."
According to Campbell, Dianetics is the positive remedy for all psychosomatic ailments, and the causes are simple commands or actions which happened before birth. Multiple sclerosis, for example, which is the disintegration of the nerves and a fatal disease, is caused, says Campbell, by "Mamma" using a corrosive douche in order to get rid of the baby. The surface layer of the cells becomes scalded and years and years later the patient develops the disease. Stuttering comes from a command engram which says "Don't talk" and disturbed thyroid generally stems from an accident where the gland was injured and patient is told "Don't move." Therefore the thyroid gland, hearing this, does not move back and repair Itself.
While he talked Campbell got out of his chair and reached into a case. He took out a nose syringe, tilted his head back and sprayed some medicine into his nose. "Don't think I couldn't cure this sinusitis," he said, "I'm just not interested in that particular engram."
How sure is the dianetic cure? "Wa-a-al", he drawled, "Ron is so sure of it that he could offer a money-back guarantee. I wouldn't like this to get around, but we had a saying, around here, 'Give me $600 and your neurosis and I'll take away both of them!'
"But Ron run into a little trouble once. He tried to cure a man of stuttering but wasn't getting very far. Then he discovered that the patient had a money engram and hated to pay for anything. When the $600 if cured, the engram wouldn't let him. So now we collect by the hour. It works better that way. Besides that's what all those analysts do over in New York"
Dianetics also claims a quick cure for homosexuality. The dianaticists pooh-pooh the Oedipus theory of psychology or sex identification or any real life, emotional disturbances as causing this problem. It all comes from a prenatal command, they say.
Campbell gave an example, Mamma and Papa are to blame for homosexuality in 100 per cent of the cases by their conversations before birth. (One thing I noted Is the way Dianetic disciples speak of parents. They call them Mamma and Papa and in a singularly calloused tone. Especially Mamma. They seem to have very little use for her.)
"You see, chances are Mamma has been playing around;" said Campbell, "Papa knows it, gives Mamma a punch in the stomach. This knocks the kid unconscious. Mamma cries and screams, swears the baby is his, but he gives her another punch in the stomach and says 'It better be mine, It better be exactly like me, or by God, I'll wring its neck' Then the kid turns out to be a girl and what happens? She goes through life trying to be just like Papa and ends up a lesbian."
As for male homosexuals, they are usually caused, according to this theory, when a tearful mother shouts to the father, "You do every thing wrong. You're always doing things upside down. You never do anything right" So, little Johnny grows up and hates girls because girls are the 'right' thing.
By this time, my head was spinning. Surrounded in this small dust-cluttered office by thousands of fantastic storied magazines and a man leaning over his desk at me with an intense gleam in his eye. I felt the over-powering implications of such a theory and the effect it could have on millions of lives. As I left for my appointment at the Hubbard Dianetics Foundation, Campbell "confidentially" told me about his personal life, "I have two children," he said, "and I use Dianetics on them all the time. You ought to use it on yours."
"Is your wife interested in Dia- netics?" I asked. His face clouded. "She's so full of engrams that she wouldn't even let herself be audited. I had to divorce her for that reason;" he said bitterly. "One of her worst engrams kept screaming 'I've got to get out of here. I'll go mad, mad!' "
I thanked Mr. Campbell for the interview and left quickly. Over at the Hubbard Research Dianetic Foundation, several blocks from Science-Fiction, I met the other representatives of Dianetics. Housed in a sixteen room floor of an aged building, the offices were complete with army cots (as couch substitutes) and diplomas issued by the Foundation hung on every wall.
I met the top auditors and teaching staff at the Foundation. Although it is called a Research Foundation, according to Campbell, no research is being done there. The Dianetics Foundation is run as a training school for auditors. It is open to anyone with the time and money and interest to enroll. The course is four weeks long and the fee is $500. It is not necessary to be audited yourself beforehand nor are you "cleared" before you go to work on other patients.
As a matter of fact I could not discover a "clear" in Hubbard's, organization. I asked over and over, again to meet someone who was considered "clear" so that I could see for myself what such a remarkable specimen looks like. One of the officers laughed. "It's the funniest thing in the world," he said. "Everyone wants to see a clear. But we hide them away. After all, this isn't a side show. You might just as well ask me for a two-headed man to gape at!"
A two-headed man?
Of the top people in Hubbard's organization I did not personally meet anyone with a previous knowledge of psychology. Most of them, including Hubbard, Campbell and all the top auditors, were electrical and radio engineers who were loyal readers of Astounding Science Fiction, None of them had a background in mental healing, and all had started their own training just a few months before, One dark-haired young man, who told a long story of how his eyes bothered him since his mother fell when eight months pregnant caus- ing his foot to jam in one eye, had been a radio engineer with Western Electric for nine years before meeting Hubbard. Another had taught television engineering at a trade school, And the head of their New York branch, sister of the doctor who wrote the book's foreword, a lady who had previously been forelady in a factory which made sweaters for Brooks Brothers and Abercrombie and Fitch..
Before I met Hubbard himself, his aides told me a little of his background. To my query as to the serious scientific associations to which he belonged, they an- swered, "The Explorers Club."
Thirty-nine-year-old ex-engineer and science-fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard studied at George Wash- ington University and spent most of his time in Asiatic travel, he claims a completely original discovery and dismisses accusations that he has borrowed from psychoanalysis, shifted terms and thrown in a few ideas for good measure.
After. some time, Hubbard himself came out to meet me. A big burly man with startling orange hair, he was full of hearty charm and buoyancy. He carried a gray western hat, wore a bright colored tie, and did not, as so many of the others, look like a fanatic, He could have passed for a Hollywood director. Hubbard smiled engag- ingly and field out his hand, "You know," he said, "before I wrote the book my friends advised me it would cause a lot of trouble for me. But the nice thing about it is that nobody's mad at me,"
Shortly after this visit I learned that two of Hubbard's top people had resigned from the organization. One was Mrs. Nancy Roodenburg of the New York branch, and Dr, Joseph Winter, who had written the introduction to Dianetics, I contacted Mrs. Roodenburg at her home. She had never seen a "clear" she told me and didn't believe one could exist. Further more, she didn't see eye to eye with Hubbard on many things. But she planned to continue practicing Dianetics. Dr. Winter declined to say why he decided to go on his own way. However, he plans to write a book on DianetIcs present- ing it to the medical profession. So, the split-up in the Dianetics association does not mean a disintegration in its power. It may even be a branching out-and spreading of the organization, giving it more power than ever
But the seriousness of the Dianetics question is not entirely concerned with the money that frantic people are investing in it. There are real dangers in Dianetics.
Dr. Clarence Oberndorf, active member of the Psychoanalytic Society and Association, said in reference to DianetIcs. "The earliest record of memory previously acquired is one and one half years of age. Fantasies, of course, can be built up in human minds that explain earlier supposed memory. However, the fantasy of prenatal experience is a dangerous one. In persons with severe mental disturbances, the encouragement of such interuterine fantasies may aggravate already dangerous tendencies and cause insanity." Patients with any. number of diseases, such as diabetes, tuber- culosis, cancer or leukemia, (Foun- dation claim's to be treating such a patient) may die while they are' trying to rid themselves of en- grams, Such ` people, led in by promises of overnight cures and painless treatments, may be de- prived of the medical care 'they need in order to survive.
No one knows quite how damaging Dianetics can be to emotionally disturbed patients. Already there are cases on record of manics touched off by the clumsy, unschooled treatment. These people were predisposed to insanity and possibly it could have come about some other way. But they might have gone the rest of their lives without a breakdown.
There is no way of telling what effect Dianetics could have on you. If you have faith, it might help in much the same way as Christian Science, snake cults, or Yogi. But it could stir up enough emotional upheaval to send you to an insane asylum for the rest of your life. Dianetics has caught on only because many people are troubled and sick. It sounds like the quick, easy way to cure everything. Much simpler than three years of analysis, much easier than facing reality, and much easier than taking an insulin shot dally for diabetes,
But Dianetics is fraught with danger. Death or insanity can be its grisly accompaniments. Delay in the treatment of tuberculosis, arterior sclerosis, diabetes, pernicious anemia or other Illnesses, . may lead to irreversible changes. At the very least, money spent on Dianetics could pay for compe- tent medical treatment that might save your life.
"DIANETICS has no respect for and no understanding of the complexities of personality ... a symptom of a danger- - ous trend . . . a crude biologism for : which ethical values ore subordinated to the urge for survival ... mixture of oversimplified truths, half truths and . plain absurdities."
-Dr. Erich From, in N. Y, Times
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