Dianetics is a pseudoscientific method of psychological therapy invented by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, described in the 1950 book Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health.

Outline of the bookEdit

The basic idea behind Dianetics is that human beings have a conscious (or "active") mind and an unconscious or "reactive" mind, and that we subconsciously remember everything that occurs to us, even while asleep or unconscious, storing the memories as "engrams"[1] in the 'reactive mind'. These engrams can resurface when reminded of them, causing irrational emotional stress or psychosomatic illnesses.


Dianetics claims to treat these illnesses by getting the patients to re-live their engrams, allowing them to remove their traumatic associations and "refile" them in conscious memory. They have claimed that a person with no engrams remaining would be a 'Clear', who would have mental and physical abilities far beyond normal. To date, no such people have been produced; the first person who was publicly proclaimed "Clear" in August 1950 couldn't, despite of her "total recall", remember what she had for breakfast, let alone remember what colour of a tie Hubbard was wearing at the moment[2] and the track record has been so far unparalleled. The "auditing" process (essentially the Dianetic/Scientology version of Freudian analysis) is the standard method of application of Dianetic methods, and tends to involve blistering and hyper-precisely worded questioning along with observation of readings on a simple biofeedback device known as an e-meter. For those given to post-modern literary theory, deconstruction of the book shows several of Hubbard's more flamboyant character flaws, including a decided hatred of women (much of the book is devoted to analyzing cases caused by fetal engrams involving unfaithful wives and their physically abusive husbands) and a distinct lack of regard for follow-up research or experimental protocol.

Relationship with other ideasEdit

While the Church of Scientology strenuously denies any relationship with modern thinking on mental health (psychiatrists are in fact the main villains in Hubbard's extraterrestrial conspiracy theories), Dianetics seems to draw heavily from Freudian theory, with a heavy admixture of post-WWII-era computer science (including such outdated terms as "keying in", the activation of a troublesome engram, and "bank", a disparaging reference to the "reactive mind"). Dianetics was a popular subject of interest in science fiction fandom in the 1950s, with author A.E. van Vogt and pulp magazine publisher John Campbell Jr. supplying major endorsement, though fandom interest faded by the late '50s after little came of Hubbard's work in the broader mental health field.

Dianetics later became the basis of Hubbard's cult religion, Scientology, which extends the idea of engrams into previous incarnations.

Further reading Edit


  1. An engram, essentially, is one word for the form a memory takes within the brain's storage centers. In Scientology, however, it specifically refers to a memory stored while the brain is not registering conscious stimuli, a concept that lacks any backing in modern neuroscience.
  2. Secret Lives: L. Ron Hubbard, Channel 4, UK, 1997-11-19

See AlsoEdit

Adapted from RationalWiki

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