The purpose of this writeup is to present the theory of operation behind Dianetics. Whether or not you believe it is up to you.
As fair disclosure, I am what you might call a Dianeticist. I believe that the Dianetics model of the human mind is accurate, and that Dianetics processing, done properly, works. I am not a Scientologist, although the two are not mutually exclusive. All Scientologists can be considered Dianeticists, but not all Dianeticists are necessarily Scientologists. In other words, Scientology pre-depends on Dianetics, not the other way around.
The basic premises are that:

Dianetics, which is from Greek words and means, roughly, "through the soul," or "what the soul is doing to the body," is a science of dealing with past trauma in order to restore full cognitive ability in the individual going through Dianetic processing. The book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, was released in May of 1950. Hubbard's further researches led to the advent of Scientology a few years later. Scientology is described as "an applied religious philosophy" - and one which I do not fully understand, and which is beyond the scope of this article anyway.

The Dianetic model of the human mind describes the following elements:

  • Analyzer - The decision-making part of the mind. Barring physical damage, it is incapable of making an incorrect evaluation based on the data it is provided from the senses and from memory. (If it is provided with faulty data, its answer will reflect the faulty data. In this case, it has not erred, but something like a GIGO condition has occurred.)

  • Standard Memory - This is where all conscious memory is stored. If movie film could record more than 50 perceptions simultaneously and perfectly, it could be said that standard memory was like movie film. The analyzer draws on standard memory when making decisions.

  • Engrams - When an organism is subjected to pain, be it physical or mental, all of the perceptions present in that moment, including what was said, are recorded not into the standard memory, but into engrams. Depending on the amount of pain present, some or all of the engram may be occluded from conscious recall. When conditions similar to the ones in the engram reoccur, the engram may be re-stimulated.
    In this case, it will start feeding information to the analyzer, but the analyzer will be unable to see most or all of the memory itself; therefore, it will be receiving data out of context, and will return an answer consistent with that non-contextual data.

Engrams compose what is called the reactive mind. The reactive mind thinks in identities - everything in the engram is equal to everything else in the engram. The analyzer, along with the standard memory, thinks in terms of differences.

The analyzer, along with standard memory, might provide the following synopsis:

Apples taste a certain way. Once I bit into an apple, and it had a worm in it. The rest of the times I bit into an apple, there was no worm. Apples may be red, green, yellow, or, in the case of a Gala apple, red AND yellow.
The reactive mind, however, might provide this synopsis:
Apples = Worms = The taste of apples = The sensation of biting into an apple = Discovering a worm in an apple = Apples = Worms = Discovering a worm in an apple = (etc.)
If you have an engram concerning finding a worm in an apple, it may cause you to find all apples repulsive, or perhaps just the thought of biting into an apple, even though you almost never find a worm in one.

Then again, you might not find apples repulsive at all, because the engram may not have been sufficiently restimulated to start dumping garbage into your thought stream.

A few of you may have seen that video on goofball.com of a toddler walking through a garden. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a cat pounces on the toddler's head, knocking the toddler to the ground. This is the sort of incident which causes people to hate cats, or just to feel a certain nervousness around them. There is no reason to hate or feel nervous about all cats because of something done by just one cat.

Racism is caused by engrams. There is no reason to hate an entire race of people because of the ill-doings of a few of its members. The racist will often echo the sentiment that "they're all alike" because s/he/it has lost the ability to differentiate the actions of one or several people from the actions of everyone with a similar appearance.

Engrams are particularly dangerous where they contain speech, because everything in them is interpreted literally. What is said in an engram can literally have as much force as something said to you by a hypnotist, who then tells you not to remember what went on during the hypnosis session. For example, I may hypnotize you and tell you to take off your jacket if I touch my nose, and then put it on again when I touch my tie, and then instruct you not to recall what was said in the session, then bring you back to consciousness. I can touch my nose and tie fourty times, and you will come up with any excuse imaginable why you are messing with your jacket - it's too hot, or it's too cold, or you're coming down with something, and what's wrong with the air conditioning anyway? If I then tell you that I programmed you to respond to me touching my nose and tie, the effects of those hypnotic commands are immediately destroyed.


Application

The process of Dianetics is called auditing. The auditor issues simple commands to the person being processed. The person must be fully conscious and free of drugs of any kind or it won't work, as the whole point is to restore occluded memories to the standard memory banks, thereby "removing" them from the reactive mind - and this can't happen when the person is going through sleep loss or under the influence of drugs.

As a result of the requirement of full consciousness, hypnosis is obviously out of the question. The book speaks rather poorly of hypnosis, citing it as being dangerous.

The person is asked to locate an incident which s/he feels comfortable facing. The auditor then instructs the person to mentally return to that incident and go through it, recalling as much as possible. This is done multiple times on the same incident, until no more data comes up; each time the incident is gone through, more and more of it is restored to standard memory, where it cannot subconsciously influence the person - but rather, can be evaluated properly and consciously against present conditions. At the end of that, the person either has a cognition - in other words, they come to a sudden, highly valuable, and sometimes euphoric, realization about themselves, and what they are REALLY capable of, and/or how things REALLY are - or the auditor instructs them to locate an earlier incident like the one being audited. (In that case, what was audited may be a part of a chain of engrams, or locks - which are periods in which an engram was restimulated, and when the "root" engram is discovered and fully restored to standard memory, that engram and all of the others after it in the chain lose their power to subconsciously influence the person, and a cognition results.)

Side-effects are said to include increased ability to recall things, a wider attention span (due to the fact that the engrams are no longer in restimulation and leeching cognitive resources), and a more cheerful outlook on oneself and of life in general.

There is more to it than that and I may update this later. I hope it provides an accurate view of the theory.

If you want to know "what is Scientology?", you have to really look at Dianetics... Dianetics started it all off with a bang in 1950 - so I guess this is where we begin.

Dianetics was published in 1950 in America by Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (1911-1986), a pulp science-fiction writer. Basically Dianetics revolves around the statement that our mind is divided into two major portions, the analytical mind and the reactive mind. Dianetics postulates that our analytical mind is like an unfaltering computer, never wrong, recording everything faithfully:

The analytical mind is not just a good computer, it is a perfect computer. It never makes a mistake. It cannot err in any way so long as a human being is reasonably intact (unless something has carried away a piece of his mental equipment).

- Dianetics, p.66

Our abberation supposedly comes from the reactive mind which takes over in moments of pain and unconsciousness. It kicks in then and records them. These incidents then get restimulated (or "take charge") by incidents with like characteristics.

So with all these moments (called engrams) floating around, we get pretty messed up. So far so good... To get rid of these engrams, we need auditing. This is when you sit down with an auditor and relive these memories by "reverie" until they are without pain and able to be assimilated into our "standard memory banks". It all sounds very plausible, all the buzz words there... However, it claims 100% effectivenesss over all psychosomatic illnesses, including "arthritis, bursitis, asthma, allergies, sinusitis, coronary trouble, high blood pressure and so on, down the whole catalogue of pyschosomatic ills, adding a few more which were never specifically classified as psychosomatic, such as the common cold" (Dianetics, p.75). All abberrant behaviour, illnesses or diminuition of a person's abilities are attributed to the "reactive bank".


Engrams and the Reactive Mind

So, what do these "engrams" consist of? Why do they effect us so much?

According to DMSMH, as the book is known, engrams are records of every moment of pain and unconsciousness ever experience by a person. This later included even those occuring in a past life. These moments are caught up in the reactive bank, and according to Hubbard:

Clinical tests prove these statements to be scientific facts:
  1. The mind records on some level continuously during the entire life of the organism.
  2. All recordings of the lifetime are available.
  3. "Unconsciousness", in which the mind is oblivious of its surroundings, is possible in death and does not exist as total amnesia in life.
  4. All mental and physical derangements of a psychic nature come about freom moments of "unconsciousness".
  5. Such moments can be reached and drained of charge with the result of returning the mind to optimum operating condition.

Dianetics, p.80 If a situation contains the visual, colour, sound, taste, or feel (etc.) characteristics of a previous engram, the former will consolidate the effect of the latter. Jim Bianchi explains it better in his FAQ:

Basically, the mechanism of restimulation is: a person blunders into a wall, falls, strikes their head and is momentarily rendered unconscious. While they are unconscious, the reactive mind is still busily recording all that is happening -- a blue car goes by, a dog barks, the wind gusts, somone shouts "Geez, you must be blind!" At some future time, if a dog barks, the wind blows, and a blue car goes by, the person may go blind (or temporarily "grey out"). When the analytical min received the impressions of the dog, wind, car, etc., the reactive mind took over (in the manner of a "fight or flight" reflex) and the analytical mind shut down the optic nerves because the phrase "Geez, you must be blind" contained in the reactive mind was interpreted literally as a command.

- Jim Bianchi, Scientology.FAQ


 So... The reactive mind "seeks to direct the organism solely on a stimulus-response basis. It thinks only in identitites".

Once the very first engram (or basic-basic has been gotten rid of (or "erased"), a person is supposedly Clear, unabberrated, free from all deficiencies, and with a higher IQ. A strange thing, happened to one of the first "clears", in 1950, when being put on show at the Shrine Auditorium, in Los Angeles. She, being a Physics major, was unable to recall a basic physics formula. Remember, a clear is meant to have "a near perfect memory" - she could not even recall the colour of Hubbard's tie when his back was turned! I just don't understand that.


Bibliography:

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