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.