Scientology, Church of
In 1950 writer L. Ron Hubbard announced the discovery of
Dianetics as a new system of mental health. Several years later
he announced the further development of Dianetics into a
comprehensive system of spiritual philosophy and religion,
which he termed Scientology. Both Dianetics and Scientology
now form the teachings and practice of the Church of Scientology.
Developed in part in reaction to the dominance of behavioral
approaches to psychology and then-current psychotherapeutic
practices such as electric shock therapy, Dianetics is based
upon the idea that the human is identified with the soul
(termed the Thetan), and Dianetics identifies what the soul
does to the body through the mind. It was first exposed to the
public in the article ‘‘Dianetics . . . An Introduction to a New
Science’’ in the pages of Astounding Science Fiction (May 1950),
a magazine published by one of Hubbard’s friends who had become
enthusiastic about the possibilities of the new approach.
Several weeks later Hubbard’s book Dianetics The Modern Science
of Mental Health was published, on May 9, 1950, and became
an overnight best-seller.
Hubbard suggested that the goal of life was what he termed
‘‘infinite survival.’’ Pain, disappointment, and failure are the
Scientology, Church of Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
results of actions that do not promote survival, he said. The
mind operates to solve the problems relating to survival. From
the information it receives, stored in mental pictures, it directs
the individual in actions geared toward surviving. Such mental
images are three dimensional—they have energy and mass,
they exist in space, and they tend to appear when someone
thinks of them, Hubbard said. They are strung together in a
consecutive record accumulated over a lifetime Hubbard called
a ‘‘time track.’’
The theory of Dianetics is a variation on preexisting concepts
of conscious and unconscious mind, using the terms analytic
and reactive mind. The analytic mind, according to Hubbard,
records the mental image pictures derived from our
experiences. However, pictures of experience which contain
pain or painful emotions are recorded in the reactive mind.
Also, experiences that occur when a person is unconscious (on
the operating table, for example) or partially conscious (when
inebriated) are recorded by the reactive mind and are not available
to the analytic mind, he said.
The problem with the reactive mind is that it stores particular
types of mental images called ‘‘engrams’’ (a term borrowed
from psychologist Richard Semon to denote a memory trace),
creating a complete record of unpleasant or unconscious experiences.
It also thinks in identities, equating the various elements
of a painful experiences. In the future, when one experiences
several elements in the engram, all of the pain and
emotion of past experiences will flood back into the present.
Over a lifetime, the cumulative effect of engrams can be a set
of unwanted and little-understood negative conditions, including,
but not limited to, pains, emotional blocks, and even physical
illnesses, according to Hubbard. Armed with Hubbard’s
book, any ordinary individual was considered competent to
practice a simple system of psychotherapy superior to those involving
specialized training.
Having discovered the nature of the human psyche, Hubbard
set out to discover the means of addressing psychological
disorders. His techniques are supposed to erase the contents of
the reactive mind, rendering them useless in further affecting
the person without hisher conscious knowledge.
The aim of the techniques is the production of a ‘‘clear,’’ a
person whose reactive mind has been cleared, who has no engrams.
The primary technique is called ‘‘auditing,’’ a one-onone
counseling process that uses an instrument called an ‘‘Emeter,’’
a modified whetstone bridge that measures the level of
electrical resistance in the human body. It is the belief that such
resistance is directly related to the focus upon an engram. The
process of becoming a clear occurs in a series of classes and personal
counseling sessions. Participants record the state of clear
in degrees.
Hubbard founded the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation
in June 1950. He spent the rest of the year traveling and
lecturing and the following year opened the Hubbard College
in Wichita, Kansas. By this time Hubbard had speculated that
human beings are basically spiritual, and that once cleared,
have great potential. These insights led to what would be
termed ‘‘Scientology.’’ The Hubbard Association Scientology
International was founded in 1952, and the first Church of
Scientology opened two years later. Dianetics became the
method of entering the church and discovering its teachings.
Hubbard proposed the existence of engrams—painful impressions
from past experiences, extending back into innumerable
previous incarnations. According to his book The History
of Man (1952), the human body houses two entities—a genetic
entity (for carrying on the evolutionary line), and a Thetan, or
consciousness, like an individual soul, that has the capacity to
separate from body and mind. In man’s long evolutionary development
the Thetan has been trapped by the engrams
formed at various stages of embodiment, Hubbard says.
As soon became obvious in Dianetics, clears were not the
fully liberated individuals it had been hoped they would be.
The idea of engrams from past lives explained the problem,
thus a new concept appeared in Scientology—the ‘‘MESTClear’’
(MEST = Matter-Energy-Space-Time). Much of Hubbard’s
thinking resonates with the concepts of reincarnation
and transmigration of souls found in Eastern religions. The
goal of Scientology training thus became the final clearing of
the individual of all engrams and the creation of what is termed
an ‘‘Operating Thetan.’’ Among the abilities of the operating
Thetan is the soul’s capacity to leave and operate apart from
the body.
The exact content of the teachings of the Church of Scientology
are imparted in the classes attended by church members
and are not revealed to the public. Such is especially true of the
highest classes (OT-4–7 levels), though jumbled accounts have
been presented in books by former members, several of whom
left the church with the confidential materials used in the classes
and who tried to hurt the church by making these materials
available to the general public. As in Dianetics, one progresses
through the OT levels on a degree basis, the mastering of one
level being a prerequisite to the next.
Scientology’s Controversy
Almost from its beginning, Scientology has been a controversial
religion. Soon after his announcement of the discovery
of Dianetics, Hubbard encountered opposition by the American
Medical Association, and in 1958 a two-decade battle with
the Food and Drug Administration began. The initiation of
these continuing battles had immense consequences, and critics
of the church used the actions in one country as a basis for
initiating actions elsewhere. Also, government files, not
checked for accuracy, were passed to other government agencies
and to other countries. Suddenly, in the 1960s, Scientology
found itself under attack from a variety of quarters and has
spent 30 years in the courts in the attempt to vindicate its existence
and program.
Through the 1970s and 1980s, the church fought battles
with the Internal Revenue Service in the United States (finally
resolved in the early 1990s) and with several former members
and anticult organizations who accused it of brainwashing
church members. The church itself initiated legal action
against publications that it believed libeled the organization
and its founder. Important international cases were fought and
won in Australia, Canada, and Great Britain, and ongoing
cases are pending in Germany, among the most conservative
of Western countries concerning religious freedom issues.
In the midst of its fight with the U.S. government, and continually
blocked in its attempt to gather documentation of covert
government actions against the church, in the mid-1970s
several high officials conspired to infiltrate targeted agencies
and obtain copies of files on the church. The FBI, CIA, and IRS
were especially high on their list. When the plan was discovered,
it resulted in a massive raid on the church’s headquarters.
Several church officials were arrested and convicted of theft of
government property.
As of the 1990s, with the solving of its problems with the
U.S. government, the church has moved to gain its rights as a
viable religion in Germany and to oppose the actions of the
Cult Awareness Network—which it believes is simply an antireligious
organization—and similar groups internationally.
The Church of Scientology reports members in 129 countries
and the words of L. Ron Hubbard have been translated
into over 30 languages. They also maintain social reform and
community activities among services such as the World Institute
of Scientology Enterprises (WISE), that provide professional
groups with strategies to find harmony in the workplace.
For an authoritative account of Dianetics and Scientology,
see current editions of L. Ron Hubbard’s books Dianetics The
Modern Science of Mental Health and History of Man, both published
by the Church of Scientology, Los Angeles, and available
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Scientology, Church of
at local Scientology organizations. Address US IAS Members
Trust, 1311 N. New Hampshire Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027.
Atack, Jon. A Piece of Blue Sky Scientology, Dianetics, and L.
Ron Hubbard Exposed. New York Lyle Stuart, 1990.
Church of Scientology. April
14, 2000.
Corydon, Bent, and L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. L. Ron Hubbard
Messiah or Madman New York Lyle Stuart, 1987.
Evans, Christopher. Cults of Unreason. New York Farrar,
Straus & Giroux, 1973. Reprint. New York Dell, 1975.
Hubbard, L. Ron. Dianetics 55! Los Angeles Publications
Organization, 1954.
———. Dianetics The Modern Science of Mental Health. New
York Hermitage House, 1950.
———. Handbook for Preclears. Los Angeles Publications Organization,
———. Science of Survival. Los Angeles Publications Organization,
———. Scientology The Fundamentals of Thought. Los Angeles
Publications Organization, 1956.
———. Self-Analysis. Los Angeles Publications Organization,
———. You Have Lived Before This life Los Angeles Publications
Organization, 1977.
Miller, Russell. Bare-Faced Messiah The True Story of L. Ron
Hubbard New York Henry Holt; London Michael Joseph,
Wallis, Roy. The Road to Total Freedom. New York Columbia
University Press, 1976.
What Is Scientology Los Angeles Bridge Publications, 1992.