"Never believe a hypnotist"

An investigation of L. Ron Hubbard's statements about hypnosis and its relationship to his Dianetics.

by Jon Atack

HTML and links by Tilman Hausherr

The following is an unpublished draft of a research paper. It is not intended for publication but for criticism and comment. The author does not give permission for this paper to be copied or distributed in any way, and wishes to remind anyone wishing to do so that the works of Ron Hubbard are copyrighted and permission must be obtained from Norman Starkey (doing business as L. Ron Hubbard Library), Author Services Incorporated, Church of Spiritual Technology or New Era Publications - which ever holds the copyrights this week. This paper is copyright 1995 to Jonathan Caven-Atack.

There have been many assertions that "cult” groups utilize techniques related to hypnotism. For example, Persinger, Carrey & Suess in TM and Cult Mania. However, to date there has been little analysis of these groups' own teachings on the subject of hypnotic technique and manipulation. L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Dianetics and Scientology, was initially outspoken on the subject. He wrote a manual on brain-washing, falsely attributing it to Beria, and in a letter offered to sell his "brain-washing” techniques to the FBI. He was also to claim "we can brainwash faster than the Russians. 20 secs to total amnesia” (Technical Bulletin, 22 July 1956).

As well as showing genuine insight into hypnosis, Hubbard's statements are a fascinating maze of contradiction and misdirection. It soon becomes apparent that Hubbard is both eager to show off his knowledge and determined to hide something vital: that Dianetics is a form of hypnosis.

Prolonged and deliberate study of Hubbard's teachings makes it impossible to escape the conclusion that Dianetics is a form of hypnosis, differing only from that subject in the words used to describe the procedures. Hubbard's own Policy Letter "Propaganda by Redefinition of Words” (PR series 12) gives some understanding of the sigificance of redefinition (something Hubbard was frequently prone to, "reasonable” and "postulate”, for instance). The power of redefinition is also described in part in Robert Lifton MD's "thought reform model” under the heading "loaded language”, or indeed in Korzybski's General Semantics ("the map is not the territory; the word is not the thing itself”). Hubbard of course paid homage to Korzybski in both Science of Survival and 8-8008, and borrowed the misunderstood word from him (Hubbard also redefined Korzybski's various forms of isness). Korzybski's notions of the power of language figure not only as a basis for Dianetics, but also for Rational Emotive Therapy and Cognitve Therapy. Never underestimate the power of words! They are fundamental to manipulation and are the stuff of which positive suggestions or engrams are made.


Lafayette Ronald Hubbard is known to the world through his authorship of adventure and science fiction stories, and through his creation of the Church of Scientology and its many subsidiary organizations. The Church of Scientology was itself an outgrowth of the Dianetics movement which came into being with the incorporation of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in April 1950. By this time, Hubbard's first article on Dianetics, "Terra Incognita: The Mind”, had already appeared in the Explorers Club Journal. A second article, "Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science”, appeared in the May 1950 edition of Astounding Science Fiction ("AstSF”), and was followed within days by the publication of the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health ("Dianetics: MSMH” or "DMSMH”). This book remains in print (as indeed do the two first articles), published by Scientology publishing houses, and it is still used as the basis for the Hubbard Dianetics Auditor Course, sold by all Churches of Scientology. The current Hubbard Dianetics Auditor Course seeks to re-establish Dianetic "auditing” as it was performed at its inception in 1950 (see The Hubbard Dianetics Auditor Course or The Hubbard Dianetics Seminar).

In Dianetics: MSMH, Hubbard claimed to have discovered a therapy which he had subsequently tested on some 273 individuals (DMSMH, p.51). He claimed to have discovered "the single and sole cause of aberration and psycho-somatic illness” (ibid, p.68). Dianetics would supposedly relieve stuttering, asthma, arthritis, allergies, sinusitis, coronary trouble, high blood pressure, the common cold (ibid, p.51-52; see also p.92), poor eyesight (ibid, p.10), colour blindness (ibid, p.9), hearing deficiencies (ibid, p.11), ulcers, bursitis, eye trouble, dermatitis, migraine, tuberculosis (ibid, p.92), conjunctivitis (ibid, p.126), morning sickness (ibid, p.156), and alcoholism (ibid, p.364f). Hubbard also claimed that Dianetics would have "a marked effect upon the extension of life” (ibid, p.96). Further, a Clear - an individual who had successfully completed Dianetic auditing - would be able to do a computation which a "normal would do in half an hour, in ten or fifteen seconds” (ibid, p.171) and would have perfect memory or "complete recall” (ibid, p. 171).

Dianetics will supposedly be effective on anyone who has not been "born with a grossly malformed nervous structure” or had "a large portion of the brain removed” (ibid, p.17). Dianetics can be practised straight from the book without further training, and the therapy takes between 30 and 1,200 hours (ibid, p.392). With Dianetic auditing IQ will "soar” by as much as "fifty points” (ibid, p.90). The Clear is "phenomenally intelligent” (ibid, p.312), with full control of his imagination (ibid, p.15) and "has complete recall of everything which has ever happened to him or anything he has ever studied” (ibid, p. 171, see also pp. 170 & 367). He is "clear” of all irrational behaviour, compulsions, repressions and psychosomatic ailments (ibid, pp.8 & 382). Dianetics will also purportedly cure neuroses and even psychoses (ibid). These claims have never been substantiated (testimonials are not acceptable as scientific evidence) and although Dianetics: MSMH is still sold, with no claims withdrawn, the definition of Clear was "cancelled” inside Scientology by a 1978 Bulletin, "The State of Clear”, which instead provides the circular definition that a Clear doesn't have "his own reactive mind” (probably meaning that he still has myriad "body thetan” reactive minds).

Hubbard's research:

According to his own accounts, Hubbard's research consisted of hypnotism and drug hypnotism (see below), clairvoyance, automatic writing, automatic speaking (AstSF, May 1950, or EoS, p.56; see also R&D1, p.106) and faith healing (R&D1, p.186). He also had an interest in Freud's ideas prior to the introduction of free association, and Dianetic technique has many points in common with Freud's early attempts at therapy (Atack, p.108f; Freud, 1909). Hubbard also drew upon Korzybski's General Semantics, Wiener's Cybernetics and psychiatric research into psychodynamic therapy - including abreaction - and drug hypnotism. Hubbard gave no mention of scientific experiments or controls, and no case histories or follow-up studies have ever been made available.

L. Ron Hubbard was sixteen when he made his first brief trip to Asia with his mother, in 1927. He made a second brief trip with both parents, and returning to the United States in 1929 (Atack, pp.53-57). He was later to claim that he had studied hypnotism in Asia (EoS, p.22; DMSMH p.252 [also DMSMH p.95, however, Hubbard's claim to have visited India is spurious. See Atack and Miller]). Therefore, Hubbard claimed to have been a practitioner of hypnotism for more than twenty years prior to the release of Dianetics: MSMH.

Hubbard was also knowledgable about the history of hypnotism. He posited an early date for its discovery: "The art of hypnotism is very old, tracing back some thousands of years and existing today in Asia as it has existed, apparently from the dawn of time.” (DMSMH, p.12). "From India it long ago filtered to Greece and Rome and it has come to us via Anton Mesmer” (ibid, p.252). Hubbard also referred to the works of Bernheim and Charcot (R&D1, p.33; Charcot is listed as one of the men without whom "the creation and construction of Dianetics would not have been possible” in the acknowledgments page in SOS).

Hubbard asserted that hypnotism is a "fundamental principle in several mystic arts” and that "its mechanics were known even to the Sioux medicine man” (DMSMH, p.252). Knowledge of hypnotism, according to Hubbard, is "widespread” (SOSII, p.221; "very common”, R&D1, p.24). Further, "Hypnotism was a sort of constant thread through all the cults - or hypnotic practices” (EoS, p.22). "Hypnotism is used in some base religions, and is commonly employed in obsolete mental 'therapies'" (SOSI, p.161); "Whenever shamans, medicine men, exorcists or even modern psychologists go to work, they incline toward practices which are hypnotic.” (EoS, p.22).In his second published article, "Dianetics the Evolution of a Science”, Hubbard described a hypnotic session and said that it had taken him nine years to understand its importance (EoS, p.23). Hubbard described a number of hypnotic experiments - indeed, they constitute almost the entire of his recorded experiments. Unfortunately, case notes have never been available.

Hubbard was versed in various approaches to hypnotism. "It is often possible to waken a sleeping person into a deep trance simply by speaking to him quietly several nights in succession at the same hour and finally getting him to respond to the invitation to talk.” Hubbard described his obviously frequent use of "amnesia” or "deep” trance, claiming that his conclusion about "amnesia trance” was "substantiated by a large amount of experimentation” (R&D1, p.184; see also DMSMH, p.385; R&D3, p.118).

Dianetics and hypnotism:

Despite such admissions, Hubbard made several adamant statements about the use of hypnotism in dianetic practice: "hypnotism is not used in dianetic therapy” (DMSMH, p.12), and "'Is Dianetics a kind of hypnotism?' Absolutely not.” (R&D4, p.345; see also EoS, p.96 and DMSMH, p.413). Alongside these denials comes the statement that hypnotism "is not used to any extent in dianetic therapy” (emphasis added. DMSMH, p.56). Hubbard flatly contradicted his statement that hypnotism is not used by saying that if a preclear drops into a "hypnotic trance ... the motto is: Work with him where he lies. If he drops into a half hypnotized state just by closing his eyes, work him there.” (R&D 1, p.336). Hubbard also asserted that "The mechanism by which the mind is able to cause physical disability or predispose the body to an illness and perpetuate sickness is, in its basic cause, a very simple thing ... A series of simple tests can be made on drugged or hypnotic patients which will prove clinically in other laboratories this basic mechanism. A series of these tests were run in the formulation of dianetics with uniform success.” (DMSMH, pp.93f).

Hubbard called hypnotism "an excellent research tool in Dianetics” (R&D1, p.332; see also DMSMH, p.385). He was also to say that he "used an awful lot of hypnotism in early research” ("Methods of Research - the Thetan as an Energy Unit”, Hubbard lecture, 6 November 1952). This conflicts with his assertion that the investigation which led to the discovery of Dianetics "was not approached through hypnotism”, adding, however, "and hypnotism is just another tool, a tool which is of only occasional use in the practice of dianetics” (my emphasis. DMSMH, p.58). To further confound the picture, in the same text Hubbard explained how to hypnotise someone in their sleep (see above) and added "Dianetic therapy can then be entered upon and pursued and will succeed” (DMSMH, p.385). Again in the same text, Hubbard said "Hypnotism was used for research, then abandoned” (DMSMH, p.201, cf p.58). A few months later, Hubbard said "A renowned hypnotist is currently running a series of tests” (R&D1, p.337).

In a lecture given three months after the publication of Dianetics: MSMH, Hubbard attributed a major discovery - prenatal memory - to a session in which he placed a volunteer in "amnesia trance” (R&D3, p.118). In the same lecture, he also credited his use of "deintensification” - where a patient goes through the memory of an incident repeatedly - to his study of hypnotism.Having denied that Dianetics came out of hypnotic research (DMSMH, p.58, cf p.201), Hubbard proceeded to regale his reader with tales of his hypnotic work. Many general statements were made about his work with hypnotism. External evidence supports Hubbard's practice of hypnotism (e.g., Miller, pp.140-141), and even taking into account Hubbard's propensity for exaggeration, it is evident that he had considerable experience as a hypnotist. Don Rogers, one of Hubbard's few close associates during the year preceding publication of the first book, has said that Hubbard used "deep trance” until he was commissioned to write the book in January 1950. He abandoned the practice because he thought it was unpopular (Rogers correspondence to Atack).

In his second article, Hubbard admitted "I knew hypnotism was, more or less, a fundamental” (EoS, p.22) and said that "hypnosis was examined” (ibid, p.23; see also EoS, p.96; R&D1, p.183). Hubbard also claimed to have used "hypno-analysis” (EoS, p.24) - psychoanalysis practised on a hypnotised subject - and recommended a book on the subject (Hypnotism Comes of Age, R&D2, p.12).

In an early lecture, Hubbard said that he had "worked a case in amnesia trance” (R&D1, p.183). He advised against amnesia trance, but added "it has been subjected to much research” and said "if other methods cannot be used ... amnesia trance can be employed” (DMSMH, p.385; see also R&D1, p.183).

The power of hypnotism:

Hubbard said he had once "swamied” one young man "into a deep trance” (R&D1, p.33). He had also used "light trance” (R&D1, p.408) - a hypnotic condition which is still unrecognised by the general public. Hubbard had hypnotised a man who came to him "insisting that I drive him crazy ... I threw him into a deep trance and gave him the full routine. I gave him the suggestion ... wiped the whole experience out of his mind, wiped out the experience of his coming to tell me that he wanted it done ... woke up this patient and had a psychotic on my hands.” (R&D1, pp.338f). Hubbard also claimed to have "worked upon” a number of manic depressives, "most of them by straight hypnosis” (DMSMH, p.124). He spoke of an experiment with a "gentleman” unable to absorb testosterone, whose inability had been remedied by hypnotism (R&D3, p.47).According to Hubbard, the effects obtainable through hypnotism are impressive: "The heart by positive suggestion alone can be speeded up, slowed down or otherwise excited ... blood flow can be inhibited ... Excreta are among the easiest things to regulate by suggestion ... The urine can also be so controlled. And so can the endocrine system.” (emphasis in original. DMSMH, pp.94 & 96; see also R&D3, p.47). Hubbard admitted using hypnotism to alter his own blood flow (DMSMH, p.94). He also asserted that the thyroid gland could also be regulated by hypnotism (R&D3, p.47).Hypnotism can be used to cure stammering "on one patient out of ten” (R&D1, p.330), and hearing, sight and touch can all be "extended” through the use of hypnotism (DMSMH, p.94; see also R&D3, p.188). "By suggestion the power of hearing can be tuned down or up so that a person is nearly deaf or can hear pins fall at a great distance.” (DMSMH, p.94).

Having made these assertions, Hubbard added, in a book published in June 1951, "even such a degraded practice as hypnotism can, by the implantation of positive suggestions, suppress certain physical and mental disorders. Though these are suppressed in one quarter they will manifest themselves as something entirely different. Hypnotism can in a small percentage of cases eradicate the 'psychosomatic illness' but will produce in its stead a lowered [emotional] tone” (SOSII, p.16).

Hypnotism still has one valid use "Anesthetic hypnosis is wonderful” (R&D4, p.24; see also R&D1, pp.337; SOSI, p.161). Or further, "Hypnotism may still have enormous therapeutic or anesthetic value.” (R&D1, p.332; also p.335). However, "Any benefit derived from hypnotism is in the field of research or the installation of a temporary manic engram” (DMSMH, p.385) (the alleviation of "engrams” - purportedly repressed memories of unconsciousness or pain - forms the entire basis of Dianetic belief and practice).

In his second article, Hubbard said of hypnotism "On some people it works. On most it doesn't. On those on whom it works it sometimes achieves good results, sometimes bad.” (EoS, p.22; see also DMSMH, p.56). However, in a manuscript supposedly written prior to this article, Hubbard said "Hypnotism as such does not work” (OT, p.69; see also SOSI, p.161).

The dangers of hypnotism:

Hypnotism "is dangerous and belongs in the parlour in the same way you would want an atom bomb there” (DMSMH, p.57). It "may be sufficiently destructive to cause the engrams to restimulate to the point of insanity” (DMSMH, p.385).

Hypnotism "reduces self-determinism by interposing the commands of another below the analytical level of an individual's mind ... It is the sort of control mechanism in which an authoritarian individual, cult, or ideology delight. People who indulge in hypnotism may, only very occasionally, be interested in experimentation upon the human mind ... Genuine experimental hypnotism, strictly in the laboratory and never in the parlour, and done wholly in the knowledge that one is reducing the efficiency of the human being on whom one is experimenting and may do him permanent damage, and the use of hypnotism by a surgeon ... should end the extension of hypnotism into the society. Submission to being hypnotized is analagous to being raped, with the exception that the individual can, generally, recover from being raped. To any clear-thinking human who believes in the value of people as human beings, there is something gruesomely obscene about hypnotism. The interjection of unseen controls below the level of consciousness cannot benefit but can only pervert the mind ... The individual who would permit himself to be hypnotized is, frankly, a fool ... It was thought by hypnotists that the mere remembering of ... suggestions would relieve them, and that the power of the suggestion died out with time. These two ideas do not happen to be true” (SOSII, p.220f; see also pp.225f). In Dianetics: MSMH, Hubbard said, more succinctly: "Hypnotism can be extremely aberrative” (DMSMH, p.384).Indeed, Hubbard asserted that there are "many suicides pursuant to the practice of hypnotism” (SOSI, p.170). Self-hypnosis, however, "can be resolved fairly easily” (R&D3, p.105). Hubbard classified the hypnotist as having a permanent emotional condition ranging from apathy, through grief, sympathy or fear to rage, indeed, of being without positive emotions (SOSI, p.161; what this says about Hubbard himself - a hypnotist for many years - we are left to speculate). Having vouched for the power of hypnotism, Hubbard dismissed the hypnotist as a "charlatan” (DOT, p.87). He said, "One of the chief weapons of the pervert is hypnotism” (R&D1, p.332; see also p.270), and "about half-a-percent of all cases run have had pervert hypnotism in the [memory] bank” (R&D1, p.24). In contradiction to these statements is the following "an individual in an hypnotic trance will rarely perform an immoral act even though commanded to do so by the hypnotist, unless that individual would normally perform such acts.” (SOSI, pp.223f). This statement was first published in June 1951. More than a year before, Hubbard had said "Perverts quite commonly use [hypnotism] despite the fact that the moral nature is supposed to rise in a hypnotized subject” (DMSMH, p.384).Narcosynthesis and abreactive therapy:During the Second World War, both U.S. and British psychiatrists were experimenting with a form of therapy which induced hypnotic states through the use of drugs. Dr. William Sargant has left a description of his work on soldiers with "battle neurosis” or "combat fatigue” in his Battle for the Mind (1957). Drs. Roy Grinker and John Spiegel published an account of their work in 1945, under the title Men under Stress. The barbiturates and sodium pentothal were used in this work, which also relied upon Pavlov's discovery of conditioned responses and Freud's concepts of the unconscious mind and repression. Grinker and Spiegel called their work "narcosynthesis”, because it used narcotic sedation to assist the patient to rebuild or "synthesize” the personality.

As with Dianetics, in narcosynthesis the patient was required to "abreact” or re-experience traumatic events. Hubbard was familiar with this work: not only did he recommend a book which describes it (Wolfe and Rosenthal, Hypnotism Comes of Age, R&D2, p.12), but he also referred to narcosynthesis directly: "One will find regression if one treats soldiers who have been unlucky enough to undergo narcosynthesis ... He was merely sick before, but now he is crazy ... Anything which is touched in narcosynthesis is apt to be restimulated permanently.” (R&D1, p.333f). Hubbard even suggested the headline "Man released from Veteran's Hospital on Tuesday kills wife on Thursday!” (ibid, p.334).It seems eminently possible that Hubbard encountered narcosynthesis, or at least discussion of it, during his stay at Oakland Naval Hospital in 1945. Hubbard claimed to have treated schizophrenics with narcosynthesis (DMSMH, p.123f), as well as doing further drug hypnotism on cases which had already been "cured” by narcosynthesis (EoS, p.24). In a lecture given a few weeks after publication of this article, Hubbard warned against the practice of narcosynthesis (R&D1, p.123; see also DMSMH, p.390 drug hypnotism is "dianetically illegal”). However, a few days after this lecture, Hubbard said "it is allowable ... to produce a more acessible condition by amnesia trance, and even by drugs” (R&D1, p.184). In one of his first lectures, Hubbard had said "Narcosynthesis and other drug therapies have some slight use in Dianetics” (R&D1, p.8; see also R&D1, p.48).

Hubbard's research not only included decades of "straight hypnosis”, he also gave the idea that his work with narcosynthesis was extensive: "[tests] have been made on people who could be hypnotized and people who could not but were drugged. They brought forth valuable data for dianetics.” (DMSMH, p.57); "one day, a multi-valent patient, under drugs, went back to his birth” (DMSMH, p.126).

Hubbard claimed knowledge of the use of "pain-drug-hypnosis” in espionage work (SOSII, p.223). Whether this was simply a guess, or was based upon the confession of a member of the small US Intelligence teams involved with such projects as "Operation Bluebird”, or indeed if Dianetics was a U.S. Navy Intelligence experiment, we do not know. More alarming is Hubbard's assertion that the Hubbard Dianetic Research "Foundation undertook some tests with regard to the effectiveness of pain-drug-hypnosis and found it ... appallingly destructive” (SOSII, p.225). Hubbard then asserted that "The Foundation will accept no further experimentation in this line” (ibid) (this attempt to prove the "engram” hypothesis failed).

Hubbard's drug research:

Hubbard said that sedative drugs cause "the individual to walk around in a light hypnotic trance” (SOSII, p.222), and said "Continuous application of sedatives to an individual ... make him more suggestible.” (SOSI, p.163). Hubbard admitted testing drugs and gave as one of his conclusions: "So far soporifics have been tested and rejected ... That whole block of sedatives like scopolamine, opium, phenobarbital ... are of no assistance in Dianetics” (R&D4, p.137). Hubbard's understanding of this was personal, having explained the damage caused in the highly suggestible state brought about by constant use of phenobarbital, Hubbard said "I know because I made myself a guinea pig on one of those experiments, and trying to get off a soporific was a tough job.” (R&D 1, p.124). He named the barbiturate drug phenobarbital as the soporific to which he had been addicted. It was probably prescribed to him for his purported ulcer in San Diego in 1943. He was still trying to obtain phenobarbital in East Grinstead (as "Dr. Hubbard”) as late as 1965 (Atack, p.185, where the drug is given its British name "nembutal”).

Hubbard also claimed to have administered nitrous oxide to three people (R&D1, p.123). He termed it "a first class hypnotic” (DMSMH, p.363). While he condemned the use of soporifics (though his attitude seems to have been ambivalent in light of his positive comments about narcosynthesis), Hubbard encouraged the use of amphetamines, recommending benzedrine in particular (DMSMH, p.363; R&D1, pp.124, 305, 313; R&D4, p.37). Curiously, although Scientology sponsors Narconon and claims to be drug free, its best-selling publication says "Making one drug immoral and another taxable is a sample of the alcohol engram in society” (DMSMH, p.365). On the same page, Hubbard says that opium, marijuana and phenobarbital are all less dangerous than alcohol. There is no prohibition on Scientologists drinking, however.

Hypnotism and mental illness:

Hubbard asserted that it was possible using drugs and hypnotism to "drive somebody insane by accident” (DMSMH, p.57). Further, "we could go down the catalogue of mental ills and by concocting positive suggestions ... we could bring about, in the awakened subject, a semblance to every insanity” (ibid). "With various suggestions, one could create the appearance of various neuroses, psychoses, compulsions and repressions listed by the psychiatrist” (EoS, p.23). Hubbard abandoned such research with the realization that "hypnotism and insanity were, somehow, identities [i.e. identical]” (ibid). He claimed that a "catatonic” will respond to suggestion where substitutes for reality are given - so given a broom and told it is a red hot poker, the "catatonic” will respond as if it were. However, the "catatonic” will come out of trance if presented with a real poker (R&D1, 305) (it seems something of a contradiction for a "catatonic” to respond to anything). Hubbard claimed to have hypnotized psychotics (R&D1, p.182), and said "In the treatment of a real full-blown psychotic, the use of deep trance is handy to know.” (ibid; see also DMSMH, p.124; R&D1, p.307). He also said, however, "It is very difficult to produce hypnosis in a psychotic” (ibid, p.308).

The knowledge of Hubbard's ideas allegedly gives considerable power to the individual "the axioms of Dianetics (not Dianetic therapy) can be used by a sadist to implant insanity.” (R&D1, p.24). This is more potent than one of his descriptions of hypnotism: "A few people can be hypnotized, many cannot be. Hypnotic suggestions will sometimes 'take' and sometimes they won't. Sometimes they make persons well and sometimes they make them ill.” (DMSMH, p.56). Though, the attempt to hypnotize a patient can throw them into a traumatic memory or "engram” (R&D1, p.123).

Trance induction:

Hubbard described one method of inducing trance: "A person can be sleeping quietly and someone comes up alongside of him and says, 'I like you, I'm very fond of you', and an affinity starts to be established. Then he commands in a quiet, calm voice, 'You can talk to me, but it isn't necessary for you to awaken at this moment. You can talk to me without disturbing yourself.' Try it on three or four successive occasions and you will sometimes discover that the person is coming up into an amnesia trance, out of sleep. He will have no recollection of what has gone on when he finally awakens from that sleep ... [this method] has peculiar value between husbands and wives who sleep together ... One lady whose husband was a war veteran was instructed in this method. He had refused therapy utterly, and was very badly aberrated. With instruction from me she was able to awaken him into an amnesia trance and carry on his therapy without him knowing anything about it ... It took many months to do anything for him” (R&D1, 184).

Amnesia trance:Hubbard complained that resolution of a case would take three times as long using amnesia trance rather than his own dianetic "reverie” (R&D1, p.335; see also DMSMH, p.385). However, "The actual therapeutic value one can get in working painful emotion in deep trance is pretty good ... a whole case can be worked from beginning to end in amnesia trance.” (R&D1, p.183; see also DMSMH, p.201). However, Hubbard also said that "engramic commands [the target of Dianetic "auditing”] are not reversible by hypnosis” (R&D1, p.34), and "You will learn not to work someone in amnesia trance if you can possibly help it” (R&D3, p.95).

Of amnesia or deep trance, Hubbard said "This method has many things wrong with it. The entire duration of treatment is very long and difficult. The patient ordinarily speaks very slowly, is unable to contact [traumatic] incidents, his computational ability on his own life is very poor, and he will be uncomfortable during almost the entire period that you are working with him” (R&D1, p.183; see also DMSMH, p.385). Hypnotism also "carries with it transference” and "enormous operator responsibility” (DMSMH, p.201).

Hypnotic induction:

In a lecture given a few months after the publication of Dianetics: MSMH, Hubbard described an hypnotic induction thus: "The hypnotist will seat the person in a chair or have them lie down, and he will start off his patter something like this: 'Now, I want you to relax. There is nothing to be afraid of. There is nothing wrong with being hypnotized. You're going to sink into a little sleep. It's going to be more relaxing and a deeper sleep than you have ever experienced in your life.' If the subject is at all suggestible, he is already about half hypnotized merely by suggestion. Then the hypnotist starts in and says very calmly, 'Go to sleep ... go to sleep.' He may then make passes across the person's face. 'Go to sleep. Now you can feel your muscles relaxing. Now all through your body you can feel your muscles relaxing. Now, first your toes are going to relax. And now your legs are going to relax. And now your hips are going to relax. And now you can feel your back relaxing. You can feel your hands relaxing. You can feel your arms relaxing. You can feel the back of your neck relaxing. You can feel your mind relaxing. You can feel your face relaxing, and your eyes are closing. Your eyes are closing and they are closing more and more. It is very difficult for you to keep your eyes open. In fact, you will find it impossible for you to keep your eyes open when I have counted from one to five (or from one to ten, or some other such series; or he merely makes passes). Then he says, 'Go to sleep, deeper ... deeper ... deeper ...deeper sleep. Now lie there quietly and go to sleep. You can only hear the sound of my voice telling you to 'go to sleep'. All you can hear is the sound of my voice. Nothing else will disturb you. Go to sleep.

"He keeps this up for a while and then as the subject drops off into a light sleep he lets it deepen. There are many ways to deepen that sleep, one of which is to put one's index finger and thumb on the patient's closed eyelids and say, 'I am going to press you back to a deeper sleep.' This is very interesting, because to 'go back to sleep' is a phrase which makes a person whenever he goes to sleep, travel back down the time track [i.e. the sequential record of memory] and is not the natural method of sleeping.” (R&D1, p.329).

Hypnosis defined:

According to Hubbard, hypnosis is a relatively simple mechanism, "By deep trance or drugs we take a patient into amnesia trance, a state of being wherein the 'I' is not in control but the operator is the 'I' (and that's all there is, really, to the function of hypnosis: the transfer of analytical power through the law of affinity from subject to operator, a thing which had a racial development and survival value in animals which ran in packs).” (DMSMH, p.94).

Although Hubbard was adamant that "Hypnosis is not sleep, it is another mechanism” (R&D 1, p.182), he also asserted that "The hypnotist has 'success' where he does because he is able, by talking to people about 'sleep', to put into restimulation some engram which contains the word sleep and shut-down analytical power.” (DMSMH, p.75; see also R&D1, p.8 & R&D3, p.241). While Hubbard asserted that most people cannot be hypnotized, he also said: "The person who does not have 'Go back to sleep' in his [engram] bank someplace is a rare one and should be put in a museum, because he is a strange creature.” (R&D1, p.330). Having said all of this, Hubbard recommended the use of the phrase "go to sleep” in Dianetic auditing, as a phrase to be repeated by the patient (or "preclear”) (R&D3, p.156).

Hubbard gave various descriptions of hypnotism, for example: "Hypnotism is the entering of the hypnotist's personality and desires below the choice level of the individual.” (SOSI, p.16); and "Hypnotism is the art of implanting positive suggestions in the engram bank.” (DMSMH, p.384). By the time Science of Survival was published, in June 1951, Hubbard asserted that "Hypnotism never has and never will raise an individual on the [emotional] tone scale” (SOSI, p.161). Which is to say, hypnotism can have no positive emotional effect.In Dianetics: MSMH, Hubbard was eager to differentiate between hypnotism and Dianetics: "Once upon a time an art known as hypnotism used what was called 'regression' on hypnotized subjects, the hypnotist sending the subject back, in one of two ways, to incidents in his past. This was done with trance techniques, drugs and considerable technology. The hypnotic subject would be sent back to a moment 'entirely' so that he gave every appearance of being the age to which he was returned with only the apparent faculties and recollections he had at that moment: this was called 'revivification' (re-living). 'Regression' was a technique by which part of the individual's self remained in the present and part went back to the past.” (DMSMH, pp.12-13). Hubbard said that his method is different: "Returning is substituted for 'regression' here because it is not a comparable thing and because 'regression', as a word, has some bad meanings which would interrupt its use. Reliving is substituted for 'revivification' in dianetics because, in dianetics, the principles of hypnotism can be found explained and hypnotism is not used in dianetic therapy” (DMSMH, p.13). The difference between the hypnotic forms and the new dianetic forms is not made clear in the text, only Hubbard's insistence that they are different. As we have seen, prenatal memory and deintensification, two ideas essential to Dianetics, both derive from hypnotic practice (R&D 3, p.118).

Positive suggestion:

Hubbard made various assertions about suggestion: "positive suggestion means in hypnosis a suggestion which is given to a hypnotized subject which will result in some change in the manifestations and actions of that patient” (R&D 1, p.48); "It is a suggestion by the operator to a hypnotized subject with the sole end of creating a changed mental condition in the subject by implantation of the suggestion alone. It is a transplantation of something in the hypnotist's mind into the patient's mind. The patient is then to believe it and take it as part of himself.” (R&D 1, p.237; see also R&D 1, p.33); "Shut down the person's analyzer [the 'analytical mind' of dianetic hypnosis] and what follows goes in as positive suggestion just as though he were hypnotized. He cannot reason on this data, he can only react, and he reacts as dictated by the engram.” (R&D 3, p.244). Hypnotic suggestion is very powerful: "No matter how foolish a suggestion is given to a subject under hypnosis, he will carry it out one way or another ... Any suggestion will operate within his mind unbeknownst to his higher levels of awareness. Very complex suggestions can be given” (DMSMH, p.56). Hubbard went on to say that neuroses, psychoses, compulsions and repressions can all be perfectly imitated through positive suggestion. Hubbard assured his followers, "We never give positive suggestions” (R&D 1, p.48).

According to Hubbard, "if one put a hypnotic suggestion on the time track [i.e., in the person's memory] which says 'You can write', and the next day put another positive suggestion on the time track saying, 'You can't write', the person will go on writing.” (R&D1, p.34). This agrees with Freud's assertion that later trauma is held in place by earlier trauma.Paraphernalia:

The depth of Hubbard's research into hypnotism is also evident in his ideas for improving hypnotic technique. He referred to the use of a "flashing light” or a "Charcot mirror” (R&D 1, p.123) and added that fixation of attention can be achieved "with spinning mirrors and light”. Further, "This could be reduced much more easily on a technical basis by having a type of mask tipped over the face that has a spot of light in front of each eye that flashes” (R&D 1, p.307). However, Hubbard asserted that this device would not induce a hypnotic state (R&D1, p.183). He advocated the use of this device when applying Dianetics to the "severely neurotic or psychotic person” (R&D1, p.182).

Informal trance inductions:

Hubbard was well aware that the formal hypnotic session is not the only way to induce so called trance states. In his second article, he spoke of "hypnotic practices” as distinct from "hypnotism” (EoS, p.22). Hubbard's awareness of "fixating attention” is of special interest (R&D1, p.307, cf TR-0), but he also gave examples of specific methods for inducing trance: "You can actually hypnotize a person with sound alone.” (R&D 3, p.129); "Then there is the proposition of setting up a carrier wave by pounding monotonously on a dishpan with a spoon and saying with each clang, 'Sleep' ... which will often put a catatonic into hypnotic trance.” (R&D 1, p.308); and "There is another brand of hypnotism whereby the hypnotist grabs the patient by the throat, clamps him on the back of the head, shuts off the blood flow to his brain, rocks him back and forth about three times, shouting at him 'Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!' ... it works on quite a few patients” (R&D 1, p.335).Obedience to authority as trance:

According to Hubbard, trance states are common, and can even be induced through the normal procedures of education: "In altitude teaching, somebody is a 'great authority.' He is probably teaching some subject that is far more complex than it should be. He has become defensive down through the years, and this is a sort of protective coating that he puts up, along with the idea that the subject will always be a little better known by him than by anybody else and that there are things to know in this subject which he really wouldn't let anybody else in on. This is altitude instruction.” As an aside, it is worth mentioning that Hubbard was later to assert that every major tenet in Scientology and Dianetics was his exclusive discovery (see HCOPL "Keeping Scientology Working”, February 1965). Hubbard continued, "And in order to get people to sit very alertly and do exactly what he says, he has another trick: he gives them examinations ... So there is this anxiety around a person's grades, and this comes forward until he finally gets up to a point in education where when somebody says the word examination to him it not only push-buttons him but it also threatens Mama, Papa, love and general survival. It is a terrific whip. It keeps people in a state of confusion, and when their minds are slightly confused they are in a hypnotic trance. Any time anybody gets enough altitude he can be called a hypnotic operator, and what he says will act as hypnotic suggestion. Hypnotism is a difference in levels of altitude. There are ways to create and lower the altitude of the subject, but if the operator can heighten his own altitude with regard to the subject the same way, he doesn't have to put the subject to sleep. What he says will still react as hypnotic suggestion.” (R&D 4, p.324; see also R&D 3, pp. 246 & 248). This is a point which should be considered long and hard by anyone who has been involved with Dianetics or Scientology.

Hubbard also gave advice on avoiding this induction of trance: "In learning, study what you want to know, think what you want to think about it, recognize institutionalism for the bogus straw man it is, and keep the analyzer whirring.” (R&D 3, p.247). This strongly suggests that we should forget "standard tech” or a "bridge”, taking only what is useful (if anything).

Ease of trance induction:

Hubbard warned his followers to "Recognize the depth these trances achieve, just on no provocation. Tell a man to close his eyes, bong! he goes into an amnesia trance.” (R&D 3, p.94). Despite the ease with which people go into trance (and closing the eyes is a requirement of the Dianetic method), Hubbard said "At no time should the auditor permit the preclear to be under the delusion that he is being hypnotized.” (DOT, p.87; see also R&D 1, p.168).

Trance in Dianetics:

Hubbard was also aware of the signs of trance: "a pre-clear after he closes his eyes will begin to flutter his eyelids. This a symptom of the very lightest level of hypnotic trance.” (SOS II, p.227); "A simple test is to watch the person's eyeballs. You will find as he lies there that the eyeballs under the closed eyelids will hunt back and forth. You can see the bump of them on the eyelids, and they will be wandering ... the hunting indicates a hypnotic state.” (R&D 1, p.336); "The eye moving underneath the eyelid is the indication of when a person is lightly or deeply tranced. That is the second stage of which the fluttering eyelid is the first.” (R&D 3, p.94); "The preclear's eyes will roll a little bit under the lids and when he returns, particularly, the eyelashes will flutter, which tells you immediately that he has become more suggestible than he ordinarily would be.” (ibid); "Sometimes you will notice a tremble on the eyelids. This means the preclear has deepened his sense of sleep and has left some of his attention units somewhere. This is a very early stage of hypnosis. Be careful of such a patient.” (R&D 4, p.38).The current use of the Hubbard Dianetics Auditor Course and the Hubbard Dianetics Seminar is in total contradiction to these admonitions. By returning to the 1950 method, Scientology has returned to direct trance induction. Both of these courses give: "When the preclear's eyes close and you notice his eyelids flicker, finish counting...” (p.54 and p.42 respectively, step two).

These are not the only signs: "If the person begins to answer you literally ... that means your preclear is now a hypnotic subject and you are running him in hypnosis.” (R&D 3, p.94; see also R&D 1, p.336). These prohibitions form no part of any auditor training course known to this author.

Regression (age regression):

Although Hubbard had said that in Dianetics "Returning is substituted for 'regression'" (DMSMH, p.13), he reverted to the term in the following: "You can't deliver any positive suggestions to a person when he is regressed and have it stick very hard. The person is regressed, he is wide awake, he is as wide awake as he can possibly be.” (R&D 1, p.48). In contradiction to this, Hubbard said: "Returning back down the track slightly increases the suggestibility of any person” (SOS II, p.228; see also ibid, p.42).

Some people are immune to hypnotism: "You cannot put anybody into a trance when he is stuck somewhere down the track [fixated upon the past], and is in general badly aberrated against going to sleep.” (R&D 1, p.182). This seems like a contradiction in terms, as the person "stuck somewhere down the track” is already technically in a regression trance. Hubbard was insistent however that to be hypnotized, "The person should be in present time.” (R&D 1, p.308).

The discovery of Dianetics:

The key to Dianetics came from hypnotism: "when a patient was bucked through a period when he was 'unconscious', he showed some improvement. Then it was discovered that these 'unconscious' periods were rather like periods of hypnosis driven home by pain. The patient responded as if the 'unconscious' period had been post-hypnotic suggestion.” (EoS, p.62).This was the discovery of the "engram”, which according to Hubbard is "the single and sole source of aberration and psychosomatic illness” (DMSMH, p.68). Which is to say, conscious thought cannot be aberrative, and the human being would be perfect if only all the engrams were removed. Hubbard soon discovered that his assertion was ill-founded, and Scientology, created in 1952, quickly went beyond engram hunting (See also Hayakawa's remarkable review of Dianetics in ETC in 1951, where he makes the impish suggestion that improvement can also come through education).

The somatic, reactive and analytical minds and the monitor:

Putting aside the many contradictions, Hubbard said "Hypnotism is a laboratory tool ... it has served as a means of examining minds and getting their reactions.” (DMSMH, p.56). Hubbard claimed to have discovered "a big monitoring switchboard of the body that by various means handles such things as blood circulation and endocrine flow.” (R&D 3, p.47). This tallies with his statements about regulating circulation and endocrine activity through hypnotism. However, having made this observation, Hubbard abandoned it, turning instead to the notion that a "genetic entity” governed bodily activity (Scientology: A History of Man). Initially, Hubbard termed this the "somatic mind”. It has no thought, and functions on a stimulus-response basis. Which is to say, it is a hypnotic mind.In Dianetics: MSMH, Hubbard hypothesised that the mind is divided into three parts: the somatic mind, the reactive mind and the analytical mind. The analytical mind is the conscious, aware mind. It should not be confused with the "short-term memory” of conventional psychology. In that model, which has considerable experimental support, the awareness, or short-term memory, is capable of holding at most nine chunks of information (some say seven), everything else is beneath consciousness. The contents of short-term memory are ever-changing in a normal person. Hubbard's "analytical mind” is held to be distinct from the "reactive mind”, which operates beneath consciousness. Each has its own "memory banks”. The analytical mind is "a computing machine” (DMSMH, p.49). In 1950, the comparison was really being made to a numerical calculator, not to a "computer” in the contemporary sense of the word. Hubbard was in fact comparing the human mind to a valve-driven number cruncher.

Above the analytical mind is the "monitor”: "The monitor can be considered part of the analytical mind. The monitor could be called the center of awareness of the person. It, inexactly speaking, is the person. It has been approximated by various names for thousands of years, each one reducing down to 'I'. The monitor is in control of the analytical mind.” (DMSMH, p.43). However, "the mind is so constructed that there are several monitors ... they can be activated on a stimulus-response basis but they have no concept of individuality.” (R&D 3, p.160).The analogy between hypnotism and aberration:

During the course of his frequent use of hypnotism, Hubbard started to hypothesise about the reactive mind. Indeed, the reactive mind is an attempt to explain hypnotic phenomena: "The analogy between hypnotism and aberration bears out well.” (DMSMH, p.66). The reactive mind is supposedly capable of all manner of tricks: "Take the case of a person who has been hypnotized and has been told that there is a chair in the center of the room. This, in effect, is an agreement entered into between the hypnotist and the person who is hypnotized that there is a chair in the center of the room. The person who is hypnotized is temporarily cut off from the rest of mankind and finds that his only communication and his only affinity, for the duration of the hypnosis, is with the hypnotic operator.” (Tech 1, p.15). Hypnotists call this "positive hallucination” - seeing something that isn't there (as opposed to "negative hallucination” - not seeing something that is).

Hubbard's analogies for the human mind tend to involve hypnotic sessions. Having explained a particular instance of "post-hypnotic positive suggestion”, Hubbard added "In this we have the visible factors of how the reactive mind operaes.” (DMSMH, p.63; see R&D 1. p.331 for another analogy with hypnotism).Hubbard defined the reactive mind thus: "This reactive mind is an infestation of foreign, careless and unreasoning commands which disrupt the self- determinism of the individual to such an extent that he no longer has charge, through his analytical mind, of the organism itself but finds himself under the continual and chronic orders of unseen, never-reviewed exterior forces, often and usually antipathetic to the survival of the organism.” (DOT, p.69). The theory of Dianetics was confirmed for Hubbard by a straightforward experiment, "If in hypnotic trance you examine a patient's memory of an operation these incidents [engrams] are the only periods in the banks you will not find.” (DMSMH, p.53).Chains:

Through hypnotism, Hubbard also believed he had confirmed Freud's idea that earlier trauma holds later trauma in place (Freud, 1909): "the early hypnotic session is the more valid one, even if it is cancelled by a later hypnotic session” (SOS II, p.229); the earlier suggestion has "priority” (R&D 1, p.332); "The earlier the period of 'unconscious' the more likely it is to lift. That is the fundamental axiom of dianetic therapy.” (DMSMH, p.124).


The proposed purpose of Dianetics is "to awaken a person in every period of his life when he has been forced into 'unconsciousness'.” (DMSMH, p.201). It is worth noting, however, that a "strange thing about amnesia trance is that a person can be 'awakened' into it” (R&D 1, p.184). Further, despite his protestations that Dianetics is not hypnosis, and that most people cannot be hypnotised, "Returning back down the track slightly increases the suggestibility of any person” (SOS II, p.228).

Strengthening trance through repetition:

In hypnotism, it is usual for the subject to enter trance more easily with each session. The same is true for the Dianetic preclear: "after a person has been a preclear for quite a while, he ceases to be as well regimented as he once was. Then if the auditor says 'Close your eyes,' he may start to go back on the track, even with his eyes open!” (R&D 3, p.94). This obviously brings into question the idea in Scientology of "model session”, where sessions are supposed to "run out” earlier sessions because of their similarity to them.

Dianetics can be used to "play on another individual like a good organist plays on a Wurlitzer ... Knowing by observation, the push buttons of another person - or, as in Political Dianetics, a society - the organist can play whatever piece he likes at will. Advertising agencies, governments and various leaders have done this by a sort of intuition all through man's history. They knew that by such-and-such stimulus they could achieve such-and-such response. In Dianetics the matter is reduced, not to a fine art, but to a very effective science ... Unfortunately, Educational Dianetics must concern itself, in the non-academic field, with push buttons” (R&D 3, p.241; however, "Education, then, to be effective, no matter if it is the education a mother gives her infant or the professor gives the collegiate, must avoid becoming positive suggestion if it is to produce anything like an effective being.” R&D 3, p.245).

Although the Dianetic practitioner, or auditor, can "push button” responses in others, "Short of the use of drugs as in narco-synthesis, hypnotism or surgery, no mistake can be made by the auditor which cannot be remedied either by himself or by another auditor” (DMSMH, p.165).Auditor altitude:

The auditor should adopt "an air of detached efficiency toward the patient ... In short, teach yourself some altitude ... Exude self-confidence” (R&D 1, p.185). Of course, within Hubbard's own teaching, achieving "altitude” is equivalent to becoming a "hypnotic operator”: "he doesn't have to put the subject to sleep. What he says will still react as hypnotic suggestion.” (R&D 4, p.324). As to exuding confidence, Hubbard recommended a text to his followers, which gives this advice "you must have absolute confidence in yourself. You must know that you will succeed. This is the first requisite to success in this Science.” However, in this case, the Science was not Dianetics but hypnotism (Twenty-Five Lessons in Hypnotism, L.E.Young; recommended by Hubbard, R&D 1, p.307; R&D2, p.12. This is one of the most garish works the present author has ever seen).

Use of hypnotism in auditing:

The auditor "must be prepared to use hypnotism, he must know how it works, what he should do to make it function, how to regress a person in hypnotism and so on, which is definitely very different from Dianetics in that one produces a trance.” (R&D 1, p.307).

The engram as positive suggestion:

The engram was seen by Hubbard in hypnotic terms: "A simple approximation of the action of an engram can be accomplished by an experiment in hypnotism whereby a positive suggestion which contains a post-hypnotic signal is delivered to an amnesia-tranced person. The subject, having been commanded to forget the suggestion when awake, will then perform the act. This suggestion is then actually a light portion of the reactive mind. It is literally interpreted, unquestionably followed, since it is received during a period of unawareness of the analytical mind or some portion of it. The restimulator, which may be the act of the operator adjusting his tie, causes the subject to commit some act. The subject will then try to explain why he is doing what he is doing, no matter how illogical that action may be ... The release of the post-hypnotic suggestion into the analytical mind brings about rational thought. Engrams can be considered to be painfully inflicted, often timeless, post-hypnotic suggestions delivered antagonistically to the 'unconscious' subject. The post-hypnotic suggestion ... would not have any permanent effect ... even if it were not removed by the operator, because there was presumed to be no antagonism involved (unless, of course, it rested on a former engram).” (DOT, pp.48-50).

Hubbard asserted that hypnotism attempts to plant "positive” engrams: "Just put another engram, an artificial one, into a man, even if it's a manic engram - makes the subject 'big' or 'strong' or 'powerful' plus all other perceptics [perceptions] contained - and he's all right. That's the basic trouble.” (EoS, p.96); "In hypnosis one is trying to put in a good engram to counteract bad engrams and it doesn't work.” (R&D 4, p.24). Positive suggestion allegedly goes "down the track” and will "latch” onto whatever is there (R&D 1, p.33).

A hypnotic incident however, is not an engram. According to Hubbard's theory, there are three types of incident in the reactive mind - the engram, which is a recording made by the reactive mind when the analytical mind is "unconscious”; the secondary engram, or "secondary”, which is a "mental image picture of a moment of severe and shocking loss or threat of loss which contains misemotion” (Hubbard, HCOB 23 April 1969); and the "lock”, which occurs when aspects of the environment approximate those of an engram, thus "keying-in” the engram. According to Hubbard, "Hypnotism can be considered as a 'high-powered' lock” (DMSMH, p.384). Positive suggestions "may append themselves to engrams and become locks” (ibid). Narcosynthesis and amnesia trance are dangerous because they can permanently "key-in” engrams (R&D 3, p.105). Indeed, "everything that you run in amnesia trance becomes a lock.” (R&D 3, p.95).

Positive suggestions only have force because they are "locks” upon engrams: "I never found a positive suggestion capable of doing more than reinforcing an engram” (R&D 1, p.353). Yet, suggestion "is thoroughly permanent until relieved by dianetic processing” (SOS II, p.221), and, "hypnotism ... may be sufficiently destructive to cause the engrams to restimulate to the point of insanity” (DMSMH, p.385). As already cited, "Submission to being hypnotized is analagous to being raped, with the exception that the individual can, generally, recover from being raped” (SOS II, p.220).While recommending hypnotic anaesthesia, Hubbard adds that Dianetics must be administered after the operation, because "not to pick it [the hypnotic period] up would be equivalent to continuing a general anaesthetic forever after the operation” (SOS I, p.161). But "'Unconsciousness' of the non-hypnotic variety is a little more rugged. It takes more than a few passes of the hand to cause 'unconsciousness' of the insanity-producing variety” (DMSMH, p.58; cf footnote pp.57-58, which says that hypnotism can produce insanity and p.66, "Hypnotism plants by positive suggestion one or another form of insanity.”).

There are "gaps” in the standard memory banks (i.e., the memory available to the analytical mind, as opposed to the reactive memory banks) "which take place during moments of 'unconsciousness', that state of being caused by anaesthesia, drugs, injury or shock. This is the only data missing from a standard bank [analytical mind memory bank].” (DMSMH, p.53).Having made absolute statements about the difference between hypnotic amnesia and the engram, Hubbard also asserted that the "post-hypnotic suggestion needs only an emotional charge and physical pain to make it a dangerous engram. Actually, it is an engram of a sort”; the suggestion is "data fused into the circuits of the body below the command level of the analytical mind” (DMSMH, p.63). Hubbard also asserted that "all hypnotic commands ... are no more than artificially implanted engrams.” (DOT, p.69); "Hypnotism is simply another engram” (R&D 1, pp.332-3); "An engram is actually a hypnotic suggestion.” (DMSMH, p.201); and "Dianetic therapy removes engrams. Hypnotism installs engrams” (DMSMH, p.201).

Reveries and trance:

Dianetic "processing” is done with the preclear in a state of "reverie”. His use of this word was to cause Hubbard heartache later on. "Reverie” is a word used by hypnotists to denote a light state of trance (a state in which the hypnotic subject can appear to be completely awake). Hubbard recommended the book Hypnotism Comes of Age to his followers (R&D2, p.12). This text describes "hypnagogic reverie” as "a dreamlike state between normal consciousness and hypnosis” (Wolfe and Rosenthal, p.124). While reverie is "not the only tool that can be used” in Dianetic auditing, it is "the best tool to use” (R&D 1, p.185; see also ibid, p.183; DMSMH, p.385).

Hubbard was emphatic, "to turn down the analytical level and then go ahead and audit is a very bad idea” (R&D 1, p.123). Reverie was defined by Hubbard as "a light state of concentration not to be confused with hypnosis. In reverie the person is fully aware of what is taking place.” (EoS, footnote, p.98). The use of the words "light state” seems to be a Freudian slip. It is certainly a contradiction in terms.

Dianetic reverie, per Dianetics: MSMH, is induced in the following manner: "The auditor makes very sure that the patient is not hypnotized by telling him, before he begins to count, 'You will know everything which goes on. You will be able to remember everything that happens. You can exercise your own control. If you do not like what is happening, you can instantly pull out of it. Now, one, two, three, four,' etc. To make doubly sure, for we want no hypnotism, even by accident, the auditor installs a canceller ... It is a contract with the patient that whatever the auditor says will not become literally interpreted by the patient or used by him in any way. It is installed immediately after the condition of reverie is established. A canceller is worded more or less as follows: 'In the future, when I utter the word cancelled, everything which I have said to you while you are in a therapy session will be cancelled and will have no force with you. Any suggestion I have made to you will be without force when I say the word cancelled. Do you understand?' ... the canceller is vital. It prevents accidental positive suggestion.” (DMSMH, p.200). Of course, to work, the canceller would have to be itself a positive suggestion! It is worthy of note that Dianetics as described in Dianetics: MSMH is still in use as an aspect of the Church of Scientology's supposed therapy system. However, only a small portion of the individual's auditing will consist of this original dianetics, and the "canceller” is not used with any other form of "auditing”.

After Dianetics: MSMH was published, Hubbard withdrew the system of counting the preclear into reverie: "Sometimes people go into a hypnotic trance by accident with this count system ... so at the Foundation we no longer use it.” (R&D 3, p.15; see also R&D 4, p.37; DMSMH, p.201). Unfortunately, this advice is ignored in the current Hubbard Dianetics Auditor Course, auditing reverts entirely to Dianetics: MSMH, so by Hubbard's own statement, the Church of Scientology is using a hypnotic induction as standard procedure ("Count slowly and soothingly from 1 to 7”, just prior to the flickering of the eyelids already mentioned. Hubbard Dianetics Auditor Course, p.54, Hubbard Dianetics Seminar, p.42, step two). Hubbard was perfectly aware that counting out loud is a method of hypnotic induction (DMSMH, p.123).

Reverie is "induced” easily "'Close your eyes.' The preclear is now in reverie. 'Open your eyes.' The preclear is now out of reverie ... A person, wide awake, could be said to be in reverie.” (R&D 3, pp.15-16; see also R&D 4, pp.37-38; Tech 1, p.15; R&D 1, p.337). "The reverie used in Dianetics merely consists of shutting the eyes in order to help the person to remember, recall and recount past incidents in complete detail. It is not induced by commands of any kind and can hardly be called trance, sleep, slumber or even catnap. The person in reverie is keenly, acutely aware and analytical of everything said to him, and can open his eyes of his own free will at any time during the session.” (R&D 4, p.345; see also DMSMH, p.165). Hubbard also said, however, that analytical ability is "attenuated” during auditing ("anaten”) and that sometimes a preclear will be unable to recall what engram was "run” during a session, which sounds very like hypnotic amnesia. The disoriented "boil-off” state off auditing is also readily comparable to the altered states of other trance inducing techniques.

"The state of reverie is actually just a name. It is a label introduced to make the patient feel that his state has altered and that he has gone into a state where his memory is very good, or where he can do something he couldn't ordinarily do before ... It is not a strange state” (R&D 1, p.182). Hubbard then blithely added, "Also, counting sometimes produces a light hypnosis back of the reverie which is sometimes helpful on a case.” (ibid). Of a preclear who had experienced burping after being "returned” to babyhood, Hubbard said, "This is definitely not power of suggestion, since the preclear is wide awake and alert.” (SOS II, p.164). This statement is difficult to follow - post-hypnotic suggestions are carried out by subjects after the hypnotic session when wide awake. Further, what had stimulated the burping in the first place? It could hardly be a conscious decision. As engrams are themselves held to be positive suggestion by Hubbard, the statement seems impossible to unravel.

While in reverie, then, the preclear is wide awake, but his attention is wholely engaged with "returning” to past events contained in the reactive memory banks. Again Hubbard forgot that he had abandoned the hypnotist's term "regression” (DMSMH, p.13), saying, "You can't deliver any positive suggestions to a person when he is regressed and have it stick very hard. The person is regressed, he is wide awake, he is as wide awake as he can possibly be.” (R&D 1, p.48).

Reverie is held to be far superior to all other methods: "The reverie has a clear at its end - drugs and hypnotism have dependency on the auditor and many other undesirable effects.” (DMSMH, p.201, note the implication that auditors use drugs and hypnotism). But is reverie anything other than a form of "light” trance? Hubbard is once again ambivalent: "The matter of inducing reverie requires some judgment. There are cases in which you might want to induce a little deeper state of suggestibility than you have achieved. Just have him [the preclear] look you in the eye for a few minutes and talk to him quietly, and then tell him to close his eyes, and you will find out that he has quieted down considerably.” (R&D 3, p.95).As to the use of counting to induce reverie (in the current Dianetics Auditor Course and Seminar), the following has already been cited: "Recognize the depth these trances achieve, just on no provacation. Tell a man to close his eyes, bong! he goes into an amnesia trance; or sometimes using the old counting technique and it becomes more frequent: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven - bong!” (R&D 3, p.94). However, Dianetic technique "is not hypnotism in any remote sense of the word; in the process he [the preclear] remains entirely awake” (DMSMH, p.413). But, "You will occasionally find severely neurotic people who don't work well, who are very upset, and they will become quieter when you have counted at them for a while. But they are not in a good, solid trance.” (R&D 1, p.182). Why the auditor would want the severe neurotic in a "good, solid trance” is not explained.

Having said that fluttering of the eyelids is indicative of trance (see above), Hubbard gave the following instructions for inducing reverie: "The patient is made to lie down and shut his eyes. The operator begins to count. He suggests the patient relax. At length the patient's eyelids will flutter (Medicine drumming will also accomplish this without producing a harmful amnesia hypnotic state.) He is permitted to relax further. Then the operator tells him that his 'motor strip' (his sensory perceptions [sic]) is returning to a time of unconsciousness ... With coaxing the patient will begin to feel the injury and sense himself in the location and time of the accident.” (R&D 1, p.8). This statment, which comes from Hubbard's first published article on Dianetics, shows an interesting choice of words - the auditor is called the "operator”, he "suggests” that the preclear relax into a state which is not a "harmful amnesia hypnotic state” (which does not rule out light trance, or even "harmless” amnesia), and the engram is found through "coaxing”.

The canceller:

The canceller statement is also of great interest. After the publication of Dianetics: MSMH, Hubbard spoke of a "renowned hypnotist” who was "running a series of tests so that we will know exactly what effect installing a canceller will have” (R&D 1, p.337). Before the results from these tests were in, however, Hubbard had already confidently asserted "The canceller very neatly scoops up the material as you say it to a patient, even if he is hypnotized” (R&D 1, p.48; see also R&D 3, p.94; R&D 1, p.168). However, by June 1951, this safeguard had been abandoned, because the preclear was meant to systematically recall earlier auditing sessions to remove any hypnotic influence (SOS I, p.228). This practice, along with the canceller, finds no place in later forms of "auditing”, nor is any mention made of the possible hypnotic effect of these later forms.

The importance of hypnotism:

Hubbard did his initial research using hypnotism. The major discoveries of Dianetics were made in hypnotic sessions. Preclears may already be in a "trance” state, or may accidentally go into trance as a consequence of auditing procedures. In hypnotism "we have the visible factors of how the reactive mind operates.” (DMSMH, p.63). As already cited, the auditor "must be prepared to use hypnotism, he must know how it works, what he should do to make it function, how to regress a person in hypnotism and so on” (R&D 1, p.307).

Hubbard also asserted, "if you are a very smart auditor you will not throw away the advantages of the power of suggestion completely. Suggestion does have its uses when it is controlled and one knows what one is doing. I am not talking about hypnotic suggestion, I am talking about just the simple matter of cheering somebody up and a good bedside manner” (R&D 1, p.124).

In lectures given in 1950, Hubbard recommended three books on hypnotism to his followers: "Anyone in doubt as to how hypnotism works need only consult the authoritative books on the subject by Estabrooks [George Hoben Estabrooks, Hypnotism]. In fact, this is recommended as a means of proving that Dianetics and hypnotism are total strangers.” (R&D 4, p.345); "There is a little book by a man by the name of Young written about 1899, which contains in it about as much hypnosis as one ever wants. It is called Twenty-Five Lessons in Hypnosis ... Practically everything in that book works, and clairvoyance, mesmerism and so forth are also delineated” (R&D 1, p.307); the third, and most significant, work recommended is Wolfe and Rosenthal's Hypnotism Comes of Age(R&D2, p.12).

Despite protestations that hypnotism and Dianetics are "total strangers”, Hubbard several times advocated the use of hypnotism alongside Dianetics: "it is even allowable to use actual hypnosis if it is possible to procure any results from it. So hypnosis has some value, but it has value only to a professional auditor ... If he can spill emotion in deep trance or even in narcosynthesis, he has achieved a gain on the case. This is for a very special tough type of case” (R&D 1, p.182). Hypnosis and Dianetics are not the only approaches "Faith healing, when not practiced on the hypnotic level of 'This is not going to hurt you any more', has ingredients that you can use.” (R&D 1, p.186).

Auditors do need to be aware of hypnotism: "it is quite usual for the auditor to have to exhaust hypnotically implanted material received either from some hypnotist or from the analytical mind itself when the person has been operating under auto-control [sic].” (DOT, p.69). Also, "It is pertinent to diagnosis whether or not the preclear is highly suggestible or can be hypnotized” (SOS II, p.220). Further, "understanding the mechanism of post-hypnotic suggestion can aid an understanding of aberration.” (DMSMH, p.56); "The next thing an auditor should know well is the effect of hypnotism and drugs, and he should have observed this actually.” (R&D 1, p.307). The auditor should be aware of hypnotism, because, as already cited, "hypnotism is very common in this society” (R&D 1, p.24).

Unfortunately, auditors share an ignorance of hypnotism with the general populace and simply parrot Hubbard's calming assurance that "auditing is not a form of hypnosis” or that "auditing removes hypnosis”. Despite their implanted obsession with the meaning of words, Scientologists are largely unable to define the "hypnosis” which auditing supposedly removes. They believe it to be drowsiness or lack of awareness, rather than the heightened state known to hypnotic subjects and touched upon by Hubbard in Dianetics: MSMH: "By suggestion the power of hearing can be tuned down or up so that a person is nearly deaf or can hear pins fall at a great distance”. Most usually, hypnotic trance is a state of heightened awareness which excludes certain perceptions. It is a highly focussed state, often accompanied by a sensation that "the colours in the room are brighter”, as well as spatial dissociation (called "exteriorization” by Scientologists and "depersonalization” by psychiatrists).

Hubbard also wrote of the possibility of a preclear accidentally going into deep trance (R&D 1, p.85; R&D 3, p.94). Then there are the people who will turn up for an auditing session already in a trance state: "A lot of children are in light trance ... Children are quite suggestible. The curve of hypnosis rises steadily until its highest level about 10 years of age, and then falls clear off at about 15 or 16. Then they don't believe anything.” (R&D 3, p.319); "There are actually two types of hypnotic states [sic] that people wander around in. They are either regressed back down the track someplace but not in a real trance, or they wander around in a permanent light hypnotic trance. Or they do both ... Strangely enough, these people cannot be hypnotized for the simple reason that they are already asleep. Everything said to such a person may be engramic” (R&D 1, p.337); "Sometimes a person will go into a hypnotic trance in spite of anything you can do.” (R&D 1, p.168); "Some people, when told to close their eyes, immediately go into hypnotic trance” (R&D 3, p.94); "Sometimes you find people who have been taught to do auto-self-hypnosis [sic]. This is gruesome!” (R&D 4, p.65 - handwritten Hubbard documents submitted as evidence during the Church of Scientology International case against Gerald Armstrong, in 1984, make it clear that Hubbard used self-hypnosis abundantly in the years leading up to Dianetics. For example, "when you tell people you are ill, it has no effect upon your health. And in Veterans Administration examinations you'll tell them how sick you are; you'll look sick when you take it; you'll return to health one hour after the examination and laugh at them”, Armstrong transcript, pp.1925-1927. See Atack pp.87 & 100); "the apathy case to some degree is in a permanent hypnotic trance and will listen to and believe anything said no matter how ridiculous it may be” (SOS I, p.170).


Hubbard was ambiguous about suggestion: "We never give positive suggestions” (R&D1, p.48); but "you are putting in positive suggestion whether you want to or not, no matter how careful you are” (R&D1, p.336). However, "chatter doesn't do much harm unless the patient is hypnotized.” (R&D1, p.48); however, "When an auditor finds his preclear unusually suggestive [sic], he should be very careful what he says” (SOS, p.227).

There is conflict about the nature of "questions”, "commands” and "suggestions”: "Dianetic commands are not positive suggestions. They are simply outright commands no matter how persuasively put. 'The somatic strip will go to ------. It is there.' That is not a suggestion. It is there.” (R&D 1, p.237); but "All auditor desires should be stated as questions if possible, as these are not aberrative to the degree that commands are” (DMSMH, p.385; see also R&D 1, p.182); and again "you are putting in positive suggestion whether you want to or not, no matter how careful you are.” (R&D 1, p.336); "When the pre-clear is returned to some point prior to present time ... the auditor should under no circumstances use more words than are absolutely necessary ... the pre-clear may be receptive to hypnotic suggestions.” (SOS II, p.42); "you have got to minimize what you say to him and you have got to put most of what you say to him in questions. In other words, reduce the positive command level. Also, reduce the sharpness of your voice, because at that moment you are putting another 'I' slightly behind the front edge of the analyzer, and that is in essence what hypnosis does.” (R&D 3, p.94); "Anything implanted by positive suggestion or 'education' in the course of auditing is harmful and must be cancelled if delivered” (DOT, p.69).

Although Hubbard asserted that hypnotism can be very dangerous, and that preclears can readily go into trance during auditing, he insisted that Dianetics can cause no harm: "Short of the use of drugs as in narco-synthesis, hypnotism or surgery, no mistake can be made by the auditor which cannot be remedied either by himself or by another auditor” (DMSMH, p.165); "The pre-clear can in no way be damaged by dianetic technique.” (DMSMH, p.413); "The mind is a self-protecting mechanism” (DMSMH, p.165 - this being so, why are engrams dangerous?).

Seeing all of this material close together, rather than spread through hundreds of pages is a dizzying experience. None of Hubbard's statements have been withdrawn, indeed it is a sin to even suggest withdrawal or correction (see the "Technical Degrades” Policy Letter, 17 June 1970: it is a "HIGH CRIME” "labelling any material 'background' or 'not used now' or 'old'”). Which of these conflicting statements is true, and what kind of science could possibly consist of such a mess of contradrictions? In Scientology the rule of thumb is "which statement is most recent?” but the foregoing shows Hubbard gaily contradicting himself repeatedly in the same text, and then reversing and re-reversing his opinions from week to week. Factually, the public are being lied to with the continued publication of at least half of these contradictions. The caveat emptor rule does apply - let the buyer beware, which is pointed out in the small print at the beginning of most current Scientology books. Scientology is a science when it's being sold but a religion if you want your money back.

This investigation of Hubbard's statements about hypnosis is by no means exhaustive. A search through the indices of Hubbard books not referred to here will turn up yet more insights and contradictions. The "false data stripping” technique should be used first on itself and then on Scientology, remembering that you can control that individual to whom you have given sufficient contradictions (by the way, one piece of false data in the "false data stripping” Bulletin concerns Socrates' invention of the syllogism, check it out!). The ridiculous rewording of the Buddha's Kalama Sutta into "what's true for you is true” must be rejected. The lesson, as already quoted is: "In learning, study what you want to know, think what you want to think about it, recognize institutionalism for the bogus straw man it is, and keep the analyzer whirring.” (R&D 3, p.247). Or, returning to the Kalama Sutta:

"Do not put faith in traditions, even though they have been accepted for long generations and in many countries. Do not believe a thing because many repeat it. Do not accept a thing on the authority of one or another of the Sages of old, nor on the ground that a statement is found in the books. Never believe anything because probability is in its favour. Do not believe in that which you have yourselves imagined, thinking that a god has inspired it. Believe nothing merely on the authority of your teachers or of the priests. After examination, believe that which you have tested for yourselves and found reasonable, which is in conformity with your well-being and that of others.” It seems unlikely that the Buddha would have approved of the use of hypnosis or indeed the Fair Game law.

Having explained his own long involvement with hypnotism, and that most of the principles of Dianetics and the Dianetic model of the mind stemmed from that involvement, Hubbard added "A motto one could use is 'Never believe a hypnotist'" (SOS II, p.228).

References:NB: page numbers vary in later editions, and some material may have been censored from these editions.

Astounding Science Fiction, May 1950.

Atack, Jon - A Piece of Blue Sky, Lyle Stuart books, 1990.

Freud, Sigmund - the Clarke Lectures in Two Short Accounts of Psycho-Analysis, Penguin books.

Hubbard, L.Ronald, Dianetics - the Modern Science of Mental Health, Hermitage House, 1950; later editions until the 1985 Bridge edition have identical page numbering.

- Dianetics the Evolution of a Science, 1950; AOSH DK Publications, Denmark, 1972.

- Dianetics the Original Thesis, 1951; Scientology Publications Organization, Denmark, 1970.

- Hubbard Dianetics Auditor Course, Bridge, L.A., 1988

- Hubbard Dianetics Seminar, Bridge, L.A., 1988

- Research and Discovery Series:

volume 1, lectures June 1950; Bridge, 1980.

volume 2, lectures July - August 1950; Bridge, 1982.

volume 3, lectures 10 August-8 September, 1950; Bridge, 1982.

volume 4, lectures 23 September-15 November 1950; Bridge, 1982 .

- Science of Survival, 1951; Hubbard College of Scientology, 1967.

- The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, 1979.

Miller, Russell - Bare-Faced Messiah, Henry Holt, NY or 1987.

Wolfe, Bernard and Rosenthal, Raymond - Hypnotism Comes of Age, Blue Ribbon Books, NY, 1949.

Young, L.E. - 25 Lessons in Hypnotism, Padell Book Co, NY, 1944.

abbreviations used in the text:

AstSF - Astounding Science Fiction, May 1950

DMSMH - Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health

DTOT - Dianetics the Original Thesis

EoS - Dianetics the Evolution of a Science

R&D - Research and Discovery, followed by volume number

SOS - Science of Survival, followed by volume I or II