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"The creation of dianetics is a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch." A modest opening, for a work that proclaims: "The hidden source of all psycho-somatic ills and human aberration has been discovered and skills have been developed for their invariable cure."
This hidden source, according to its discoverer, science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, is the "engram," "a moment of 'unconsciousness' containing physical pain or painful emotion." during this moment of "unconsciousness" the individual's "reactive mind" records all nearby utterances. No matter what their import, the "moronic" reactive mind misconstrues the words to be commands, and they influence the individual's later behavior like post-hypnotic suggestions.
Twenty hours of dianetic therapy "invariably" produces a "release," freedom from any and all psycho-somatic disorders--"a state superior to any produced by several years of psycho-analysis, since the release will not relapse." In the course of the treatment, an "auditor" (any layman who has purchased and read the textbook) induces a "dianetic reverie" in the patient, and, by suggestion and association, helps him "return" along his "time-tract" to relive his engrams. After recalling several times the speeches that have boxed him, the patient is free of their influence.
Complete cures, or "clears," depend on erasing the very earliest engrams on the time track. The first time a patient relived his own birth "seemed a remarkable day for dianeties." After this, it was no shock for Hubbard to uncover engrams formed in the womb, the first at the moment of conception. "Most patients . . . sooner or later startle themselves by finding themselves swimming up a channel or waiting to be connected with." Sooner or later, the most phlegmatic patent is bound to be startled; cases are common "with the patient yet unborn discovering himself at his parents' wedding."
Nobody knew before what people really thought of the womb, because nobody ever asked. Thanks to dianeties, we learn; "it is very noisy in the womb . . . The womb is wet, uncomfortable, and unprotected." All in all, the first nine months are the hardest. "Mama sneezes, baby gets knocked 'unconscious.' Papa hits Mama, baby gets an engram. Junior bounces on Mama's lap, baby gets an engram. And so it goes." Besides these normal hazards, all Hubbard's patients have a pre-natal history of beatings by the father and attempted abortions by the mother. Small wonder that the child emerges punchy.
Few scientific works have had such popular acclaim; "dianeties" has sold 40,000 copies by August (each reader automatically becoming a qualified dianetieian) and has been about fourth on the best seller list ever since. Science--fiction addicts have followed Hubbard's releases in "Astounding Science Fiction" down to the latest monograph in the October issue; astounding -sounding jargon or the absence from the 450-page book of ay experimental evidence cannot balk them. The appeal of the quick sure-cure is not surprising. Hubbard's claims are as disarming as an old-fashioned patent-medicine label.
Beyond therapy, the textbook has practical application in "Preventive Dianetic." The golden rule could be altered to read: "If you love your brother, keep your mouth shut when he is unconscious." As a more general rule of thumb, "say nothing around a woman who has been struck or jarred in any way . . . If she speaks, don't answer . . . You have no idea of whether she is pregnant or not."
Hubbard himself taken no chances. His wife was in the (unfinished) process of clearing him 18 months ago, when she became pregnant. Hubbard hasn't been near her since. Afraid he might give the baby engrams, he says.
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