“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” – John 8:32
Before going on to relay some other stuff about Scientology, I thought it might be a good idea at this point to discuss a little about what came before Scientology, and that would be, of course, dianetics.
Experimental psychology has been around since the 1830s and psychoanalysis since the 1890s. The study of human behaviour starts, more or less, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with Leibniz (1646–1716). Psychology, though, doesn’t actually become a subject until the 1870s.
In the first half of the 20th century, the world of mental health was a haphazard mishmash of pseudoscience with few positive results. Unlike other fields of actual science wherein a scientist posits a theory and then does experiments to see if the theory is correct, mental health was just a lot of guesswork with patients mostly not getting better as a result of treatment. This was despite the fact that universities were giving out diplomas to psychiatrists and psychologists as if they were chemists, or other kinds of scientists, or engineers.
Chemistry is a science and has produced everything from aspirin to rocket fuel. Engineering, based on the mathematical and physical sciences, has given us things like flight and telecommunications. Psychology has given detailed descriptions of mental illnesses and their effects on society, but not much in the way of cures, even today. Some treatments may give relief, or methods of management, but rarely is anyone so freed from their troubles of the mind that they could be considered cured and go on to live a life no longer plagued by mental complaints.
My father, despite having no “official” credentials, felt that there were quite a few questions that ought to be asked, and that nobody was asking, which might significantly improve results in terms of cures not so far achieved in the field of mental health. He didn’t care much about getting the right diplomas and seals because it didn’t seem like any psychologist or psychiatrist had any more business working with the human mind than the average layman. So, he set out to see what he could find out and do.
Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health was published in 1950. This was a compendium of material developed over a number of years and was now being released to the general public.
The late 1940s were a significant time. Psychiatry and psychoanalysis were very much on the rise in the United States after WWII due to the alarming numbers of returning soldiers suffering from what would come to be termed Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. The veteran hospitals and mental hospitals were overwhelmed to such an extent that the public became alarmed. The National Mental Health Act was created in 1946 in response. My father was experimenting with various techniques in and out of these facilities.
Partly because there was all this attention to mental health, there was a lot of interest in dianetics and many copies of the book were sold, starting a new movement.
The facts of life are that life is dynamic, characterised by constant change, activity, or progress relating to forces producing motion. This means that everything eventually gets banged around, which is not really a problem for inanimate objects but can be a problem for life forms, particularly humans.
As pointed out by Freud, humans have several levels of mind. In Freud’s model of the mind, there is a level called the sub-conscious, or unconscious. In dianetics, this area of the mind is called the “reactive mind,” partly because it was found not to be unconscious at all and partly because it directs action in accordance with stimuli. With the right stimuli, it can “force” a person into actions or behaviours that wholly bypass their conscious mind (called the analytical mind in dianetics).
An example is the sudden involuntary movement away from an object, such as a hot stove. Or it can be “trained”, such as for combat.
It’s a key level of mind for survival, particularly in emergency situations, but it comes with some drawbacks.
To illustrate, someone gets an injury to their leg and while this injury is occurring, the person’s analytical mind is either attenuated to some degree, or even fully shut down (they’re rendered less conscious or unconscious). While this injury was taking place, there may have been smoke in the area (stimuli). Long after the injury has healed, the subject smells smoke, and suddenly their leg begins to hurt.
To complicate things further, humans have the power of language, so, while our subject was “unconscious,” perhaps someone was shouting, “Get out! Get out!” Years later, our subject smells smoke and has the sudden “feeling,” or urge, that they must get up and leave.
There are multitudes of variations on this, as you may imagine, but that’s the gist. It is, however, a very, very different theory than what existed before.
The point is, people who sustain various injuries, illnesses, and other traumatic events experience an attenuation of their analytical minds, and this can result in baffling ailments (psychosomatic illness), mis-emotions (emotions that don’t match what’s going on), and strange behaviours, such as suddenly, irrationally, needing to “get out.” (Imagine all the things that could be said around an injured party that could act as “commands” later in life.)
Possibly the most important idea stressed in dianetics goes like this: if you tell the truth, you can go free. In dianetics, this is called as-isness.
Truth, in this particular case, is “exact time, place, form, and event.” For example, that would be: 12 o’clock noon, corner of x and y, bit by dog, (and then you describe the whole incident in all the details you can recall). In dianetic processing (therapy), this is done over and over, which allows bits of a traumatic, upsetting incident to surface from the reactive mind like shrapnel from a wound until it is all told and told as well as possible.
If one can describe a past moment, current situation, or anything that needs a solution with accuracy, then your chances of finding the right answer to the problem are significantly improved. Change or omit any part of the story and the problem will not go away fully; it may even get worse. Lie about anything, anything at all, and that problem will never go away. You may seem to forget about it, but that’s all. Time does not heal all wounds; they just scab over and then bleed all over again the second you scratch at them.
Getting at the whole incident results in as-isness. Not of the memory of the incident, that you’ll retain, but all the strange upset and behaviour that the incident contained and which had influence only because it was analytically unavailable. As-isness produces the cure and liberates a person from the mental stress, illogical behaviours, and even inexplicable physical illnesses that were contained therein.
A person thus regains a more positive outlook on life with the positive energy restored to set about achieving any goal that seems reasonable to pursue (goals that are both good for the self and good for the society). The individual, thus freed, tends to be enthusiastic about life. This is the basic idea of Dianetics.
Some new rules
If you are like a lot of people, then it’s possible that there may be a few upsetting events in your past. Anything ranging from loss, such as a beloved relative or even a pet, trauma of all kinds, injuries, abuse, serious illnesses, and so on. Going over and over these events can reveal their truer nature and, thus, they may gradually cease to act on one’s life without one’s consent (reactivity). Seeing the whole picture of what actually happened can potentially set a person free from such negative effects as stress, depression, anxiety, and so on; what comes into the light of consciousness can no longer pull your strings from the shadows.
(A note: hypnotists often advertise that they can “implant” positive commands into this murky level of consciousness, but this has very limited success (as in, usually, none). That which lurks in the twilight of one’s mind, nestling as it will with demons and chittering chimeras, cannot remain positive for long, if at all.)
There are a number of rules for doing this, however, that were wholly new to the field of mental health back in 1950, such as: you can’t go diving into a serious incident right away; you’ve got to come at it gently (unlike Exposure Therapy, which often has soldiers suffering from PTSD diving right into the past hell that might be causing their present upset – maybe a soldier can do this, but a lot of people can’t).
There are a number of these very specific rules in Dianetics that I have not seen applied or even mentioned in other earlier therapies, although a goodly number of them are showing up in later ones (how about that?)
Another important rule is that you must find the actual beginning of the incident because often the true beginning is obscured by the worst part of the trauma, such as when a person got sick originally (when they were, say, two years old), as opposed to the more serious surgery that came later (when they’re thirty).
There are three universes: the “I” universe, the “we” universe, and the “it”universe. What is “true” in each universe is different.
Science deals wholly with the world of “it” (the objective world), culture with the world of “we,” and the world of “I” is the subjective world. Each universe has its own version of what is true. In both dianetics and scientology, the maxim is: what is true for you, is true for you. In other words, if you think you feel bad, then you feel bad. If you feel good, then you feel good.
Originally, a patient in Dianetics was not required to consider incidents prior to birth or conception because the therapy only addressed the genetic/cellular sentience of the person’s current body. Quite soon after 1950, though, it came to be recognised that even better results could be achieved if the patient could find what are known as “earlier similar incidents” that occurred before the patient’s conception.
This, quite naturally, sparked a lot of controversy and was responsible, in part, for the bringing forth of a second (but older) subject, scientology. (Dianetics and scientology are, in fact, different subjects: the first deals with the mind, the second with the soul.
There is still a lot of controversy on this subject of past lives,1 mostly because of all the confusion there is in the world about truth versus reality; what’s true as different from what’s “real.”
In many places in the world, past lives aren’t controversial at all. But here in the West, where so much of our success has been through developing machines, and where many of these machines have been used to effect massive change, as well as catastrophic levels of carnage, it’s really controversial! All this machinery has convinced Western man that exogenous reality is the most real reality. I mean, there’s nothing like rapid change or blood and violence to make things very “real” indeed and totally render invalid anything that can’t be measured with “square nor compass” (nor spanner), such as the human mind.
The “objective” universe rules the roost today (a person must adjust themselves to the environment in order to “feel better”), and the subjective is dismissed as mostly invalid. This has resulted in “pictures in the mind” coming to mean “things that are not really real and so can have no real effect on anything.”2
Despite all this noise and turmoil, Dad, the perennial heterodox, swam against the tide of naysayers and pursued this method of therapy regardless. Since the procedure of going back earlier into previous lives was getting results and making people feel better, then that was the only definition of truth that was needed. And not just feeling better, but looking better and doing better, as observed by family and friends.
So. That’s how and why the whole business of past lives came about, getting at the actual beginning of an upset, no matter how old or long ago, because it turns out some upsets are really, really old upsets, for some people at least. Even more miraculous, the incident being examined and recounted did not have to conform to any “facts,” but only had to be as accurate as the patient could describe it for themselves.
“Oh! You’re just making this stuff up!” Critics of dianetics (and scientology) cried, both back then and now.
Some people thought that people talking about and processing these old incidents were just imagining them, “telling a story,” making it up, and so it isn’t true. But in dianetics procedures, what is true for the patient is what is true. Astoundingly, a person doesn’t have to check with the “real world” to get permission from it to get better; they just have to tell their story as truthfully and accurately as possible; this is therapy, after all, not a court of law.
It’s this business of what constitutes facts is where things get thorny. If a patient ran an incident back and back to a time ten thousand, or ten million (or ten billion) years earlier, who could say it was factual? Well, no one could. What could be said was that it was true. How did one know it was true, though? because the patient got better. They felt better, looked better, and did better. As for me, I’ve seen this happen countless times over the years.
So to critics who say it’s all fiction, I say, so what? So what if it is? I say, do better with something else and then we can talk.
Clear is what a person achieves when they clean up enough trauma and upset from their past that they can notice when they make errors in the present. (Cleared people still make mistakes; they just repeat them less frequently than other folk.)
There’s that old saw: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. How many people do you know who seem to make the same errors over and over and over?
It’s very difficult to improve one’s life if one is stuck in unworkable habits and routines. Maybe one has just gotten bogged down and needs to wake up and make some changes. In that case, read a book by Napoleon Hill or Eckhart Tolle (both I highly recommend) or various others. But if you’re really stuck, then you probably should seek therapy, and I know no better than Dianetics (and I have looked into lots of them). There are these other therapies that perform well in terms of mild relief or management, as I mentioned before, but not in terms of cures.
Again, clearing away, once for all, past moments of upset out of the reactive mind makes it possible to notice how you’re doing in the present. If a Clear isn’t doing well, they’ll figure out what to change in their life without much help. Because their outlook is generally enthusiastic, this deceptively simple-seeming ability becomes easier. In fact, it’s much easier because they’re finding life so interesting that even previously insurmountable problems are now relished (most of them, anyway). It is this level of interest in things that makes life more enjoyable.
It’s an awful thing to be trapped in endless stress and problems, and it isn’t good for the body either, not just the mind. If this is you, try dianetics. Get a friend and a copy of the book, both read it and work on each other, and see what occurs. The worst that could happen? Well, there’s no downside, so far as I know.
1 Past lives is actually a term coined by Edgar Cayce, (1877-1945).
2 Ironically, this rigid insistence on objectivity has resulted in the subjective backlash, such as we are experiencing today: feelings are now more important than facts, to such a pitch that facts now matter not at all.