|Dianetics, "The Modern Science of Mental Health", was developed by L. Ron Hubbard and published in Astounding just about the time stfnists had managed to live down the Shaver Mystery. It postulated the existence of mental blocks ("engrams") which could be removed by mentally re-enacting ("running") them. Those who have had all their engrams removed became "clears"; i.e. mentally perfect supermen; those who have had an engram restimulated without being removed are insane. Some folk, including a number of fans, approved its wholistic approach to psychiatric problems, but very many more were alienated by the Sunday-supplement techniques of publicity Hubbard used and his irresponsibility in other matters. When the book Dianetics came out the blurbs in ASF persuaded many fans to buy copies, but later publications were of such a nature as to bring alarm and despondency in their wake. Aside from several books in which he developed Dianetics into what is now Scientology Hubbard advertised (at $1500 a copy) Excalibur, which he revealed to be the source of all knowledge. (He'd obtained it from god in person when he died for eight minutes during an operation.) Dianetics and Scientology are but chapters in this mighty work, which drove five of the first dozen people who saw it insane. For those who aren't yet ready, Scientology provides an introductory discipline; this takes the foundation notions of Dianetics and adds the concept of Theta Being, who are omnipotent entities outside the universe of matter, energy, space and time. Fact is, they're so omnipotent that they haven't anything to do with themselves and play the game of the material universe just for kicks; that is, they incarnate inside material bodies and "deliberately forget" their real nature. I got a thetan, you got a thetan, all Clod's chillun got thetans, and Scientologists will gladly audit you to restore your memory ($500 for 36 hours). (Parenthetically, human bodies without Thetans are robotlike, mindless, uncultivated creatures, alla time acting skeptical and sneering like them dirty scientist fellers.) Dr. JA Winter, an MD who tried Dianetics eclectically and got some results, thoughtfully points out that several people who seemed sane took a course of auditing and had to be institutionalized as psychotics -- detectable ones, that is. And he adds that nobody's yet produced a "clear", however much auditing was given. Evidently 74,000,000,000,000 years [that's how long the thetans have supposedly been reincarnating in material bodies] of entanglement in the universe takes a good deal of brainwashing to erase.
Such a deal of skimble-skamble stuff seems a lot to have come from one person, however inclined to mysticism and such moonshine. A good deal, as people familiar with this field will recognize, is simple imitation of Theosophy, Vedanta, and other Occidentalized forms of Hinduism; most of the rest is from the imagination of patients in auditing. (Auditing involves throwing the subject into a light hypnotic trance; the imaginativeness and suggestibility of people in such a condition is well known.) The astral bodies, universe of unthinkable age, Mysterious Powers Beyond Man, reincarnation, and (particularly) the superhuman state of the occult initiate (provided he's got a big enough bankroll to afford it) are all commonplaces of crackpot cult movements; our special discredit is that this one got its start in the world of stf, and we let Hubbard and his crew get away with it.