Dianetics – The Birthplace of Scientology

Dianetics is a set of ideas about the human mind and human behavior originating from science-fiction author Lafayette Ron Hubbard. The basic idea behind dianetics involves the mind being split into three parts. The analytical mind is fairly straightforward as it navigates us through the world with rational decision making. The reactive mind, however, hold memories in the form of images during unconsciousness. The somatic mind takes all the input from the other two parts in order to direct action in the physical world. Within the reactive mind, a sting of painful experiences called an engram can start to affect behavior. In order to rid the mind of these engrams to alleviate negative experiences in the real world, one must go through “auditing” which is when a “therapist” interviews a subject in order to isolate and confront these painful experiences. After various tests and sessions, the subject can be declared “clear” which will greatly improve their life in the physical world. Dianetics was first popular in around 1949-1950 when Hubbard published the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. However, at this time, Hubbard was trying to portray his ideas as science. However, Hubbard was forced to abandon the name “Dianetics” due to bankruptcy, so he modified the ideas slightly with a different name: Scientology. While these ideas are not scientifically correct since the mind is much more complicated than that, the mixing of science with these extraordinary beliefs allows Scientology to be practiced by thousands including actor Tom Cruise and musician Beck. Scientology can also be attractive to certain people because it portrays itself as a way to rid negativity.


One of the ways Hubbard would support his theories was by running experiments done by the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation. Hundreds of trained auditors would use their taught techniques on subjects whose physical and mental health would be compared before and after auditing. Unfortunately, experiments set up in this fashion are ripe conditions for vast amounts of confirmation bias. The “trained professionals” would only look for what they wanted to see. They would only report positive results. Also, the way Dianetics’ science is reported, it is almost impossible to replicate to get the positive results because the experimenter basically has to be a part of that society. This is the very reason Hubbard restructured Dianetics from being scientific to a more philosophical idea because it could not be proven scientifically. Another piece of evidence the Scientology community points to is the e-meter. The e-meter reads a person’s electrodermal activity (EDA). This is the machine used while auditing. One of the first critiques of this device is that it was invented by a man inspired by Hubbard and worked with Hubbard. Basically it was built purely just to have some sort of evidence for Hubbard’s theories.


One of the ways Scientology will keep their believers in their web is by playing on cognitive dissonance. It is much harder to pull someone away from their established beliefs if they’ve invested time or money in that belief system. Scientology’s first step involves purchasing a lot of their materials. Not only does that provide one side of the scientific debate since it does not provide the critiques of the scientific basis of their beliefs, it also makes the person put their money and time towards this belief. Another way they keep their believers in their circle is by the availability heuristic. They will only look at the positive results, that being someone’s life improving due to the practices of this belief, rather than the many times they do not work. If one were to bring up the negative results, it is always easy to respond with a claim that cannot be tested. They could always say there are more engrams within that negative result, and that they only need to go further into the belief system before the improvement can be seen. Of course this whole time confounding variables are not being considered as alternative explanations.


Just as important as the factors that keep someone within the belief system, the type of community that believe Dianetics is crucial to how they get started. Essentially, Dianetics allows Scientology to operate as self-help tactics. They state all the negativity in your life can disappear if the engrams are eliminated. Naturally then, many of the people that turn to Scientology are desperate to alleviate some serious negativity in their lives. This, first, sets the seeds of cognitive dissonance keeping them within the belief system. It also allows grassroots spreading to happen more easily. If someone who had their problems “cured” by Scientology (when in reality it may have been other forces), they may become devout and look to spread these methods to other desperate people. Those people may not have enough information to contradict the claims being made towards them and only sees the positive result in front of them. Due to the nature of the community in which Scientology reaches out, it allows the beliefs to be more easily maintained and spread. Also, many of the members of Scientology are probably surrounded by mostly other believers in Scientology. If this is the case, it does not allow for other competing or contradictory points to be made. Instead, the beliefs continually get reinforced by others who only affirm rather than challenge.


Scientology was created by a man who’s entire life was to envision and create compelling stories. In this case, he created compelling ideas which he presented under the facade of being scientific fact. People who are desperately trying to improve their lives are essentially preyed upon using people’s instinctive biases and heuristics in order to reel them in and keep them there. Since the claims cannot be definitively tested in a scientific way, there’s a great deal of uncertainty. Human beings inherently do not do well with uncertainty. The ones who already subscribe to that belief system that does produce uncertainty may come up with excuses to reduce the cognitive dissonance. The excuses may be seeing patterns in results from auditing, looking to only positive results, or referring back to faulty science such as engrams. They will use their own ideas in order to explain why non-believers act the way they do. It essentially allows a denial structure that is impenetrable by outside sources and can only crumble from disbelief within.




Dianetic Processing: a Brief Survey of Research Projects and Preliminary Results, Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, 1951, accessed: 10 Feb 2019.


Kent, Stephen. “The Creation of ‘Reliogious’ Scientology,” Universities of Alberta, 1992, accessed: 10 Feb 2019


Miller, Russell. “Bankrolling and Bankruptcy,” Bare-Faced Messiah, The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard. 1987. New York: Henry Holt & Co. pp. 305–306

“What is Dianetics?” scientology.org. accessed: 10 Feb 2019 (many of the other frequently asked questions about Dianetics on their official information on their perspective on Dianetics

10 thoughts on “Dianetics – The Birthplace of Scientology

  1. In many ways, the Dianetic view of the three parts of the mind resembles Freud’s id/ego/supergo theories. Why do you think Freud was (is?) considered a legit scientist, whereas scientologists/dianetics are ridiculed and viewed as little more than a meme?

  2. It’s funny how day before yesterday, two women approached me out of the blue to promote a new book on dianetics. It had to be a wild coincidence that they approached me like two day before I read this blog. They took me to a library like set up, called the church of Scientology. They showed me a video about dianetics and asked me what I thought about it. The book was Dianetics- the evolution of a science. The banner said “ are few barriers preventing you from achieving the happiness you want in life?, dianetics can answer those questions.” They even gave me an address to attend a seminar on Dianetics. ‘30 north street, Columbus, ohio’. The video showed a person talking to another person with problems, therefore I asked her if the sessions are like counseling, to which she said its not, and defined the seminar to be exactly like counseling sessions.

  3. Dianetics is one of the more unnerving movements and extraordinary beliefs to me, as there seems to be such a disproportionate amount of power within Scientology. Just the fact that the group was able to harass the IRS with so many lawsuits in order to get a tax-exempt status is worrisome – not to mention the accusations by ex-members like Leah Remini alleging abuse within the organization. Of course, her allegation that the wife of the current head has been kidnapped can also get into some extraordinary belief territory (though, between the two, I would typically prefer the anti-scientologist viewpoint).

  4. Dienetics and Scientology are so fascinating to me. I watched a documentary a comedian made about Scientology and they were so secretive about everything. Honestly I have never heard anything good about Scientology, only negatives from people who have escaped it, such as Leah Remini. I also remember hearing in the news about the wife of the leader being missing, did anything about that come up in your research?

  5. I remember watching a documentary about Scientology and how dangerous of a cult it is. The documentary featured Leah Remini. It is really startling how prominent the group is and that it continues to thrive with the help of celebrities like Tom Cruise. Scientology is similar to doomsday cults in that the people within the group are removed from the outside world. Many of them were born and raised within the church of Scientology therefore do not know any better.

  6. Hello!
    I have heard a lot about scientology and have a lot of opinions on it! I watched the Leah Remini special on her experiences within the church and it is a scary thing!! The whole concept is based on brainwashing and all of the cognitive ideas you spoke on. It seem to be no joke or conspiracy, its a cult!! The basis of this religion are obviously not back up with science which is funny based on the religions name. The church also bashes and uses members of the church to ruin reputations of members who left. Overall very scaring and very nice blog post!!

  7. Science evolves from those old theories, but those theories are so artistic and attractive for us that some bad guys take advantage from it. We have high respect to view those so-called knowledge, but actually don’t know it is not true. This blog is useful clearing the public’s mind.

  8. I think it always so interesting when you see a scientology church. I believe there is actually one in downtown columbus. Last year in a class I took a girl did a presentation about scientology and it was really interesting. She said she actually went to the church to get some more information about it. She described it almost more like a doctors waiting room than a church. She said there were lots of pamphlets and people there to greet you and show you around. I think this is so interesting because it is so much different than how we normally think about churches.

  9. Ive never heard about this belief before. The idea that the mind would be split into 3 parts is very interesting because you usually hear the belief of your mind being divided into 2 parts. I think a lot of people just follow this belief because they want an easy solution for negative things happening in their life. I believe this is why they didn’t become suspicious about the e-meter.

  10. Scientology is something I never understood. The reactive mind idea is cool, but using dianetics to overcome fears, insecurities, etc., doesn’t make sense to me. Scientology uses litigation to harass anyone the organization perceives as an enemy.

Comments are closed.