Hubbard conducting a Dianetics seminar in Los Angeles in 1950

Dianetics (from Greek dia, meaning "through", and nous, meaning "mind") is a set of ideas and practices regarding the metaphysical relationship between the mind and body created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Dianetics is practiced by followers of Scientology,[1][2] the Nation of Islam (as of 2010),[3] and independent Dianeticist groups.

Dianetics divides the mind into three parts: the conscious "analytical mind", the subconscious "reactive mind", and the somatic mind.[4] The goal of Dianetics is to erase the content of the "reactive mind", which Scientologists believe interferes with a person's ethics, awareness, happiness, and sanity. The Dianetics procedure to achieve this erasure is called "auditing".[5] In auditing, the Dianetic auditor asks a series of questions (or commands) and elicits answers to help a person locate and deal with painful experiences of the past,[6] which Scientologists believe to be the content of the "reactive mind".[7][8]

Practitioners of Dianetics believe that "the basic principle of existence is to survive"[9] and that the basic personality of humans is sincere, intelligent, and good.[9] The drive for goodness and survival is distorted and inhibited by aberrations[9] "ranging from simple neuroses to different psychotic states to various kinds of sociopathic behavior patterns." Hubbard developed Dianetics, claiming that it could eradicate these aberrations.[10]

When Hubbard formulated Dianetics, he described it as "a mix of Western technology and Oriental philosophy".[11] He said that Dianetics "forms a bridge between" cybernetics and general semantics (a set of ideas about education originated by Alfred Korzybski, which received much attention in the science fiction world in the 1940s)[12][13]—a claim denied by scholars of General Semantics,[14] including S. I. Hayakawa, who expressed strong criticism of Dianetics as early as 1951.[15] Hubbard claimed that Dianetics could increase intelligence, eliminate unwanted emotions and alleviate a wide range of illnesses he believed to be psychosomatic. Among the conditions purportedly treated were arthritis, allergies, asthma, some coronary difficulties, eye trouble, ulcers, migraine headaches, "sexual deviation" (which for Hubbard included homosexuality), and even death.[16] Hubbard asserted that "memories of painful physical and emotional experiences accumulate in a specific region of the mind, causing illness and mental problems." He taught that "once these experiences have been purged through cathartic procedures he developed, a person can achieve superior health and intelligence."[17] Hubbard also variously defined Dianetics as "a spiritual healing technology" and "an organized science of thought."[18]

Dianetics predates Hubbard's classification of Scientology as an "applied religious philosophy". Early in 1951, he expanded his writings to include teachings related to the soul, or "thetan".[19] Dianetics is practiced by several independent Dianetics-only groups not connected with Scientology,[clarification needed] and also Free Zone or Independent Scientologists. The Church of Scientology has prosecuted a number of people in court for unauthorized publication of Scientology and Dianetics copyrighted material.[20]


L. Ron Hubbard published Dianetics on May 9, 1950, as a "branch of self-help psychology".[21] In Dianetics, Hubbard introduced the "phenomena known as 'engrams'" as the source of "all psychological pain, which in turn harmed mental and physical health." He also claimed that individuals could reach the state of "clear", or a state of "exquisite clarity and mental liberation, by exorcising their engrams to an 'auditor,' or listener acting as therapist." While not accepted by the medical and scientific establishment, in the first two years of its publication, over 100,000 copies of the book were sold. Many enthusiasts emerged to form groups to study and practice Dianetics. The atmosphere from which Dianetics was written about in this period was one of "excited experimentation". Roy Wallis writes that Hubbard's work was regarded as an "initial exploration" for further development.[22] Hubbard wrote an additional six books in 1951, drawing the attention of a significant fan base.[23]


Hubbard always claimed that his ideas of Dianetics originated in the 1920s and 1930s. By his own account,[24] he had been injured by the premature detonation of a primer mechanism on a small depth charge that had become stuck in the launch rack aboard the navy ship he was assigned to in 1941. His injuries were mainly flash burns to his eyes and so was despatched ashore and he spent a great deal of his recovery time in the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital's library, (despite claiming in his authorised biography that he was blinded). LRH encountered the work of Thompson, Korzybski, Jung, Freud, Perls and other psychoanalysts.

In his 1955 Phoenix Lectures Series, Hubbard himself, explains that he took the opportunity to enter an office where research papers on the US Naval Medical Research Division's work on PTSD were kept in a filing cabinet and he spent the lunch hour free to read the notes left lying on the desk of the Naval Medical Officer involved. Much of what he learned then, along with his recent mastery of hypnotherapy technique by mail order, was influential in his later development of ideas and concepts for Dianetics Therapy from 1947 onwards. All he needed was medical and scientific testing and approval from any source. However, his several attempts were blocked by several luminaries of the (AMA) American Medical Association in the years 1948–1958, such as Professors Duncan Cameron and Allan Whyte (White), who both were senior authorities within the AMA-funded Psychiatric Research Department, then conducting their own research into drug therapies and controversial psycho-surgical techniques on severely traumatised war veterans.

Hubbard claimed in his several public lectures during the 1950s to have "undertaken clinical research at several of the institutions" they, Cameron and Whyte, had directed. Historical AMA records show that LRH was never officially involved in any approved clinical trials or research into PTSD. It is thought that Hubbard simply privately visited patients and conducted unauthorised interviews with several war veterans suffering from Trauma, Psychosomatic illness and practiced some of the newly identified PTSD techniques being clinically tested by several AMA medical institutions after WW2. (from personal Interviews with Joseph A. Winter, in Peoria,1959).

In April 1950, Hubbard, and several others, (Marjorie Cameron, De Mille, Art Ceppos, AE Van Vogt, Joseph A. Winter, MD.), established the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth, New Jersey to coordinate work related to the forthcoming publication of DMSMH by Random House in May 1950 in NYC. Through the marketing efforts of Hubbard's friend and mentor John W. Campbell Jnr., (editor of Astounding Science Fiction of Street and Smith fame), Hubbard's articles on Dianetics hit the newsstands in NYC and became an overnight sensation among the usual readers with almost 350,000 copies sold of the May 1950 issue. (See interviews with John Campbell in his published 1978 biography.)


Hubbard first introduced Dianetics to the public in the article Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science published in the May 1950 issue of the magazine Astounding Science Fiction.[25] Hubbard wrote Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health at that time, allegedly completing the 180,000-word book in six weeks.[26] The introduction of the book was the subject of an Associated Press article on 29 March 1950, with the lead "Discovery of a sub-mind is claimed in a new book entitled Dianetics".[27]

When Dianetics was published in 1950, Hubbard announced in the opening pages, "The first contribution of Dianetics is the discovery that the problems of thought and mental function can be resolved within the bounds of the finite universe, which is to say that all data needful to the solution of mental action and Man's endeavor can be measured, sensed and experienced as scientific truths independent of mysticism or metaphysics." This was in line with Hubbard's initial presentation of Dianetics as a science, almost four years before he founded Scientology.[28]

Publication of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health brought in a flood of money, which Hubbard used to establish Dianetics foundations in six major American cities. Dianetics shared The New York Times best-seller list with other self-help writings, including Norman Vincent Peale's The Art of Happiness and Henry Overstreet's The Mature Mind.[29] Scholar Hugh B. Urban asserted that the initial success of Dianetics was reflective of Hubbard's "remarkable entrepreneurial skills."[30] Posthumously, Publisher's Weekly awarded Hubbard a plaque to acknowledge Dianetics appearing on its bestseller list for one hundred weeks, consecutively.[31]

Some of the initial strongest supporters of Dianetics in the 1950s were John W. Campbell, editor of Astounding Science Fiction and Joseph Augustus Winter, a writer and medical physician. Campbell published some of Hubbard's short stories and Winter hoped that his colleagues would likewise be attracted to Hubbard's Dianetics system.[32]

In January 1951, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners instituted proceedings against the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth for 'teaching medicine without a licence', which was quickly resolved when the courts were made aware that the HDRF deputy director Winter was registered as an MD in the state of Michigan and New York. .[33]

Sociologist Roy Wallis says it was Dianetics popularity as a lay psychotherapy that contributed to the Foundation's downfall. It was the craze of 1950-51, but the fad was dead by 1952. Most people read the book, tried it out, then put it down. The remaining practitioners had no ties to the Foundation and resisted its control. Because there were no trained Dianetics professionals, factions formed. The followers challenged Hubbard's movement and his authority. Wallis suggests Hubbard learned an implicit lesson from this experience. He would not make the same mistake when creating Scientology.[34]

The Foundation closed its doors when Hubbard ditched the Foundation, causing the proceedings to be vacated, but its creditors began to demand settlement of its outstanding debts. Don Purcell, a millionaire Dianeticist from Wichita, Kansas, offered a brief respite from bankruptcy, but the Wichita Foundation's finances soon failed again in 1952 when Hubbard ran off to Phoenix with all his Dianetics materials to avoid the court bailiffs sent in by Don Purcell, who had paid a considerable amount of money to Hubbard for the copyrights to Dianetics in an effort to keep Hubbard from bankruptcy again.[35]

In 1954, Hubbard defined Scientology as a religion focused on the spirit, differentiating it from Dianetics, and subsequently Dianetics Auditing Therapy, which he defined as a counseling based science that addressed the physical being. He stated, "Dianetics is a science which applies to man, a living organism; and Scientology is a religion."[30] When Hubbard morphed Dianetics therapy into the religion of Scientology, Jesper Aagaard Petersen of Oxford University surmises that it could have been for the benefits from establishing it is a religion as much as it could have been from the result of Hubbard's "discovery of past life experiences and his exploration of the thetan."[36] The reason being to avoid copyright infringement issues with use of the name Dianetics then held by Don Purcell. Purcell later donated the copyright ownership back (to Hubbard) after Winter and Van Vogt had independently negotiated charitable debt relief with the disenchanted oil millionaire Purcell.

With the temporary sale of assets resulting from the HDRF's bankruptcy, Hubbard no longer owned the rights to the name "Dianetics",[35] but its philosophical framework still provided the seed for Scientology to grow. Scientologists refer to the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health as "Book One." In 1952, Hubbard published a new set of teachings as "Scientology, a religious philosophy." Scientology did not replace Dianetics but extended it to cover new areas: Where the goal of Dianetics is to rid the individual of his reactive mind engrams, the stated goal of Scientology is to rehabilitate the individual's spiritual nature so that he may reach his full potential.[37]

In 1963 and again in May 1969, Hubbard reorganized the material in Dianetics, the auditing commands, and original Volney Mathieson invented E-meter use, naming the package "Standard Dianetics." In a 1969 bulletin, "This bulletin combines HCOB 27 April 1969 'R-3-R Restated' with those parts of HCOB 24 June 1963 'Routine 3-R' used in the new Standard Dianetic Course and its application. This gives the complete steps of Routine 3-R Revised."[38]

In 1978, Hubbard released New Era Dianetics (NED), a revised version supposed to produce better results in a shorter period of time. The course consists of 11 rundowns and requires a specifically trained auditor.[39] It is similar to Standard Dianetics, but the person being audited is encouraged to find the decision or "postulate" he made during or as a result of the incident.[40] ("Postulate" in Dianetics and Scientology has the meaning of "a conclusion, decision or resolution made by the individual himself; to conclude, decide or resolve a problem or to set a pattern for the future or to nullify a pattern of the past"[41] in contrast to its conventional meanings.)

In the Church of Scientology, OTs study several levels of New Era Dianetics for OTs before reaching the highest level.[42]

Other Languages
العربية: ديانية
башҡортса: Дианетика
български: Дианетика
čeština: Dianetika
dansk: Dianetik
español: Dianética
Esperanto: Dianetiko
français: Dianétique
italiano: Dianetics
magyar: Dianetika
Nederlands: Dianetica
português: Dianética
română: Dianetică
русский: Дианетика
shqip: Dianetika
Simple English: Dianetics
slovenčina: Dianetika
svenska: Dianetik
Türkçe: Dianetik
українська: Діанетика
中文: 戴尼提