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Departure in Dianetics

September 3, 1951

The cult of dianetics, which was going strong a year ago (TIME, July 24, 1950), has some of the features of a new religion. Its founder, Science-Fictioneer L. Ron Hubbard, claimed that his "science of the mind" could cure all mental and most bodily ills, make supermen of truly devoted converts. Today, dianetics is suffering the standard fate of the cult: one of its earliest adherents has broken away and is accusing Hubbard of having strayed from the true faith.

Joseph Augustus Winter is an M.D. who got into dianetics in its early, science-fiction days. Physician Winter, a Manhattan psychosomaticist, was impressed by Hubbard's theory that the mind can register impressions ("engrams") even during unconsciousness. And he was soon convinced that the dianetics technique of relieving emotional upsets by reliving them before another dianetics devotee (auditing") was an improvement on psychoanalysis. An auditing session, says Dr. Winter, cured his six-year-old son of a fear of the dark and ghosts. Winter also credits his son with "remembering," thanks to dianetics, the process of his birth and the white-coated obstetrician who delivered him.

Dr. Winter wrote the foreword for Hubbard's bestselling book, became medical director of the Dianetics Research Foundation, and tried to guide it along what he considered sound scientific lines. Now, in "A Doctor's Report on Dianetics" (Julian Press; $3.50), he thinks he made a mistake. Founder Hubbard, says a disillusioned Dr. Winter, became more & more "absolutistic and authoritarian"; the foundation became less & less interested in research, more interested in spreading the word. Last winter, Winter flounced out. He was finding orthodox dianetics "ritualistic and sterile."

In his book, Physician Winter tries to filter Hubbard's strange mixture and pick out the scraps fit for human consumption. He rejects such gimmicks as the mental "file clerk," invested by Hubbard to chase about in the mind in search of mislaid impressions, and scoffs at the Hubbardians' "Guk" program. "Guk" was a mixture of vitamins and glutamic acid which was supposed to make dianetics subjects "run better."

Dr. Winter believes that psychiatrists should do what he is now doing in his Manhattan practice: use the auditing technique of dianetics as one more tool in their kits, along with parts of psychoanalysis and general semantics. In any case, Winter is convinced that it is dangerous for laymen to try to audit each other (he cites patients at Hubbard's foundation who went insane); treatment should be by experts only.

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