Dianetics Con Jobs
From its very beginnings in 1950,
Dianetics always was a con-job, and
compilations drawn from recent research
will appear here to help expose how and
why that became so.
The true history of "Dianetics" by L. Ron Hubbard
continues to be suppressed to this day by
persons who exploit and financially benefit from it,
like "religious" leaders David Miscavige of the
Church of Scientology and Louis Farrakhan of
the Nation of Islam.
We start with a tribute to Dr. Joseph Winter, a medical doctor who was part of the Dianetics Foundation from the start. The son of a bank owner, Dr. Winters was a medical school graduate of Marquette University who started as a general physician. He went on to author a number of articles in the 1940's, such as "Chronic Non-Specific Prostatitis and Gastro-Intestinal Complaints" for a medical journal, as well as others which appeared in yachting and science-fiction magazines.
The first-edition of Dianetics included an introduction Dr. Joseph Winter wrote, which was used to give
it a sense of credibility with the public.(The Con-Job here, was what was left out of that original Dianetics introduction: Disclosure of the close family relationship behind that writing,
as Dianetics promoter Joseph W. Campbell was married to Joseph's sister Margaret!).
Within a few short months in 1950, Dr. Winter's observed that the practice of Dianetics did not result in it's claimed benefits, such as a producing a Dianetic "clear," but instead harmed some of its own followers. Dr. Winter's sense of integrity caused him to leave the movement in October 1950 and then quickly publish the first critical book about Dianetics in mid-1951. Titled "A Doctor's Report on Dianetics: Theory and Therapy," Winters' book is the subject of a wikipedia page.
Unfortunately, that page does not link to available versions of the original reviews, so for better reference, their texts are reprinted below. Many observations and criticisms of Dianetics of recent years,
also appear within these early reviews of Winters book back in 1951-1952.
Dr. Winters went on to write and practice in the specialty of psycho-somatic medicine from an office on East 72nd Street in New York City, until he passed away from a heart ailment at a relatively early age in the mid-1950's. (This event was the subject a savage critique by L. Ron Hubbard himself, who later claimed that Dr. Winter's death was evidence of the power of Dianetics as a "self-protecting science").
Dr. Winters was survived by his wife and two children, including a daughter who was associated with psychologists and affiliated with universities in the East. His son, who early Dianetics techniques were tested upon, went on to a long-standing legal practice.
"Do You Remember When You Last Died?"
Review of "A Doctor's Report on Dianetics"
by Dr. Joseph A. Winter
New York Times, October 1951
Dr. Rollo May
It was to be expected that "Dianetics," the book by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, published a little over a year ago as "the modern science of the mind," should have become a best-seller for the space of a few months. This was so despite the fact that all the reviews, so far as I know, were negative, and characterized it as "dangerous," a "new form of Coueism," and a "set of fantastic theories without proof." Suffering people will understandably run to any movement which promises infallible cure of
all their psychosomatic and psychological ills.
Still, must not every such psycho-sociological movement, dangerous or fantastic as it may be, meet some public need to "catch on?" Further, what is there about our age that causes such a widespread confusion of science, faith, and fiction - a confusion shown in the public reaction to the "flying saucers" phenomenon and the popularity of "Worlds in Collision" as well as dianetics?
Dr. Winter, who wrote the introduction to Hubbard's original book, and was medical adviser to the Dianetic Research Foundation, broke with Hubbard about a year ago and now practices his own brand of dianetics. The reasons he seceded, he reports, were Hubbard's authoritarian procedures, the fact
that the foundation became a booming business rather than a testing center, and his observation that Hubbard's absolutistic claims of cures were unfounded.
Specifically, Dr. Winter noted that dianetics did not work invariably; that in some cases it did harm; and that he himself has never seen an actual "clear" (the dianetic term for the person who who has been entirely cured).
In this book Dr. Winter sets out to explain the essence of dianetics, shorn of Hubbard's enormous claims and his anthropomorphic terms for mental processes. Careful study of his cases and discussion indicates that the basic dianetic process has the following essential steps: The patient is put into a
suggestible, "hypnoidal" state. He is then helped to recall some past event which was painful to him.
He acts out, dramatizes, and repeats the feelings associated with that event until these feelings (at
least temporarily) cease to bother him. This process takes place in a context, such as that of prenatal
memories, which can never be checked with reality, and hence the way is open for the patient to have considerable irrational faith in the process. Indeed, some of Dr. Winter's cases read surprisingly like those in books of "faith cures."
Dr. Winter does not believe in Hubbard's practice of going back to "memories" at conception. Nor does he follow Hubbard's method of asking the patients to recall their deaths in previous incarnations (only the last death being required of less imaginative patients!).
However, he does believe in recalling prenatal memories, or those at birth, and suggests these to his patients. In one case in the book, commenting on the fact that he accepted as valid a woman's "recollection" of what her mother said while she was an unborn foetus, he remarks that "the benefits
to the patients (of such recalling) did not seem to hinge on the validity." He is hereby saying, apparently without realizing it, that these "recollections" may be entirely fictitious!
Dianetics thus consists of guiding the patient into a realm where he can exercise any fantasy which pops into his head, somewhat as a person projects his own problems into the Rorschach ink-blots.
The one useful point in dianetics, in my judgment, is helping the patient to experience his feelings.
Yet even this is not original; it is a form of abreaction, one of Freud's earliest techniques. As any psychologist knows, the difficulty is that the event about which the patient works out his feelings
usually has no demonstrable relation to present reality whatever, as for example, the case
of the man who recalled how he felt toward the doctor who delivered him.
This confusion of fantasy with scientific claims suggests an answer to the question we raised at the outset. Apparently modern people reach out on the one hand for scientific authority, and on the other hand they seek some realm of fantasy in which their irrational tendencies can temporarily have
full play. Does this imply that modern man is not only anxious, demanding security, but also suffers in our commercial and industrial society from a suppression of fantasy life and imagination, and thus seizes upon the new forms of magic?
It is unfortunate that, since this book is written by a physician and contains many medical terms, the public will now assume, however unjustifiably, that dianetics has some of the authority of the M.D.
Dr. Winter stated that he was a general practicioner in medicine, and nowhere is there any evidence of his having had any systematic training in either psychology or psychiatry. The psychological naivete
of much of what Dr. Winter writes again demonstrates that the general physician, as Freud, Dr. Lawrence Kubie and others have pointed out, is as much a layman in the things of the mind as any other layman.
It is even more unfortunate, that sound forms of psychotherapy are not financially and geographically available for the large number of persons who need help. Until such time as enough competent therapists can be trained, movements like dianetics with their glowing promises and short-cut techniques will no doubt crop up periodically.
(Dr. May, a consulting psychologist, is the author of several works on the theory and practice of psychology and psychotherapy)
American Journal of Psychiatry
"A Doctor's Report on Dianetics"
by Dr. J. A. Winter
Dr. Winter was the first medical follower of the latter-day healer, L. Ron Hubbard of dianetics fame.
In this book, Dr. Winter tells how he became involved with Hubbard and how he later came to break with
him and branch off to develop his own brand of dianetics. It is his apologia to the medical profession as well as an effort to explain scientifically what he feels to be of value in dianetics. It falls somewhat short of the latter goal.
There are 2 aspects of dianetics that are basic and should readily admit of scientific proof or disproof: (1) The human organism is influenced at moments of pain and unconsciousness in such a way that
it may henceforth act uncritically and literally to situations that contain similar stimuli (2) by recreating these situations in a concrete way they can be erased and their pathological effects eliminated.
Winter demonstrates several such situations clinically but fails to give anything resembling convincing scientific proof that the hypotheses are correct. In fact, in spite of his own opinion of his scientific
training and ability, he fails to show even that he knows what scientific proof should consist of. He seems quite happy with a couple of detailed recordings of interviews (and even these, he admits, are so edited that the important material of a number of interviews us condensed into one!). However, we need not be too hard on Dr. Winter for this as he has plenty of precedent. A great deal of contemporary
literature, including most of the psychoanalytic, is of the same tenuous sort.
Hubbard denies that his technique is hypnosis and there is little in this book to confirm the suspicion. However, in Winter's book things are different. It becomes quite clear that he is using positive suggestion as one of his main techniques. In fact Winter's dianetics looks very much like the conventional psychotherapy of the pre-Freudian era.
Winter claims to reserve judgment on the existence of pre-natal memories, not seeming to realize that in accepting these productions not as real memories but as fantasies of some sort he is undermining the whole dianetic foundation. If they can be so accepted, so also can those allegedly arising during unconsciousness. However, the author has an alert questioning mind, is sincere, and is apparently not afraid to espouse a new cause if he believes in it. We can well be grateful to him for light on that rare phenomenon we have seen rise and fall before our very eyes - dianetics.
Dr. Robert E. Peck
New York, N.Y.
"A Doctor's Report on Dianetics"
by Dr. J.A. Winter
American Journal of Psychology
This book, described on an examination of dianetics from a "rigorous scientific viewpoint," was
written by the ex-Medical Director of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, Inc. The author
set himself the task of salvaging anything of value in dianetics which remained after the "straw-fire burned itself out." He was originally attracted to dianetics because of his dissatisfaction with the
current state of medicine and his curiosity concerning the dianetic description of the aberrative
effects of information received during unconsciousness. Winter subsequently observed Hubbard
at work, underwent dianetic therapy, became Medical Director of the Hubbard Research Foundation, and finally, resigned because of his objection to the "authoritarian" attitude which was developing.
Winter first presents a brief sketch of Hubbard's theory of dianetics (in 10 pages) and then discusses
the points on which he differs. He believes that reverie is really hypnosis, whereas Hubbard firmly
believed the two states were dissimilar. Winter disagrees with Hubbard about the supposedly innocuous nature of dianetic therapy which permits any intelligent person to be an "auditor" (therapist). He reports that two individuals developed full-blown psychoses subsequent to dianetic therapy. He doubts the existence of "clears" (individuals who have had all painful engrams eliminated), and remarks on one individual reputed to be a "clear" who showed behavior suggestive of incipient psychosis.
With regard to the cardinal concept of dianetics - intra-uterine or pre-natal memory - Winter vacillates.
At various places in the test Winters speaks of pre-natal memory as having a "high degree of
authenticity," wonders if it is "true," regards it as having "less than maximum validity," and finally
states that "there are in fact many cogent reasons for postulating some type of pre-natal memory."
No mention is made of the possibility that a certain type of patient may seek dianetic therapy -
a patient who believes in and knows about the theory of pre-natal memory. Winter also describes
some of the "ritualistic" and "sterile" investigations conducted by the Dianetic Foundation, e.g. reincarnation and Guk. Guk is a mixture of vitamins and glutamic acid; administered in large doses it makes the patient "run better" (in the dianetic sense, it is presumed).
Having questioned much of Hubbard's classical dianetics, Winter then proceeds to describe his own theory which he believes to be more electic and to have better implications for therapy. The essence of his dianetic therapy is a complete and full recreation of events and their feeling tone which have in the past caused pain. Such experiences, Winter believes, may be eliminated by repetition to "exhaustion." Yawning and stretching, he considers important signs, which when present indicate that the
unconsciousness associated with painful incidents has been dissipated. (If this assumption is correct, the reviewer must regard the book as a therapeutic experience).
Winter also says that "the material which can be obtained by dianetic methods is so profuse that the problem is not what to investigate but what not to investigate." Such a statement might be impressive were it not known that Winter considers everything said during a therapeutic session significant until proved otherwise. He illustrates a therapeutic session by means of a case report which condenses several sessions with a typical patient. Winter believes that his method of therapy should be
scientifically validated, and speaks rather generally of the controls and measuring techniques which
may may be used for this purpose. Also to be studied, he says, are such specific problems as the efficacy of immediate dianetic review of accidents, dianetic delivery, and so forth.
Winter can be credited with with having eliminated the bombast, the wild claims, and most of the
bizarre concepts of Hubbard. Such a modification, however, leaves classical dianetics with little else than semantic confusion. In the reviewer's opinion, Winters dianetics varies from the older
psychotherapies mainly in emphasis. The book suggests that the author confused Winter the therapist with Winter the dianetic theorist, believing that if the therapy was successful the assumptions underlying the therapy were validated. Such logic would require the acceptance of many weird beliefs.
Books of this kind emphasize the need for an investigation of the common features of the many
present day therapies. The question of why people are attracted by non-scientific and bizarre systems
of therapy, of which Hubbard's dianetics is but one example, must be given careful consideration
both by the medical practitioner and the psychologist.
F. L. Marcuse
State College of Washington
San Francisco Chronicle
"A Doctor's Report on Dianetics"
by Dr. J. A. Winter
Those who read the book, "Dianetics," by L. Ron Hubbard about a year ago, will remember that J. A. Winter, M.D., wrote a long, and somewhat enthusiastic, introduction to that book. As the sole medical authority cited by name, his was the role of adding a faintly medicinal aura to the whole thing, much
like the whiff of chloroform you get when the nurse opens the door into the waiting room.
Dianetics flourished, broke into a rash of billboards, million-dollar foundations and a technical
vocabulary that slipped easily into the atmosphere of cocktail parties and little gatherings of
earnest young people. Then, almost as quickly as it flourished, it faded, and although
throughout the country there are still small groups of the faithful who meet and exchange the
latest dianetics techniques. Dianetics, the science, has quickly stolen away into the obscurity
reserved for the flaring hopes and dark disappointments of our time. In this new volume,
Dr. Winter attempts to salvage the pieces.
Almost from the very start, Dr. Winter was in the foreground of the "Dianetics" movement.
He lived with the Hubbards during the early period when the idea was taking shape. He later
became the first director of the Dianetic Foundation. It was most fit (as these things go) that
he should be the first major dissident when the disciples began to accept the ideas of the master
as dogma and to interpret concepts as facts. Dr. Winter, unable to go along with the Foundation, resigned, and today is no longer connected with the mainstream of the movement.
But he still feels that stripped of its bizarre vocabulary and its extravagant claims, there remains
in Dianetics the germ of a therapy that can be used by persons already trained to work with the aberrations of the human mind. He does not believe that just any person, simply by reading the book, can become a competent psychotherapist. He does not believe that most human ills are the result of "engrams," or commands instilled in the individual during moments of unconsciousness and pain.
He does believe, however, that some portions of Dianetic technique may be valuable tools for the trained psychiatrist; that in certain cases, and under some conditions, Dianetic processes may effect relief where other methods have failed.
In this book, which is a model of good sense and quiet sobriety, Dr. Winter outlines what he feels
can be salvaged for the medical profession from the structure of Dianetics; points out that modern
psychiatry cannot refuse to use any help it can get; and adroitly separates himself from the Dianetics movement as it is now constituted.
Dr. Winter was one of the first psychiatrists to utter cries of joy and run to embrace L. Ron Hubbard, science fiction writer and discoverer of Dianetics ... He now is inclined to regret his earlier enthusiasm
to some degree, believes that Hubbard is in the right church but stuck in the wrong pew, and explains his views in a most interesting discussion of the good and evil he found in the new method of curing ills by probing into minds...
Additional Information on "Dianetics Con Jobs" will appear here in the future.
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