In this post we will examine the long article by L Ron Hubbard entitled, “The Analytical Mind” which appeared in the October 1950 issue of “Astounding Science Fiction”.
“The Analytical Mind” is Hubbard’s follow-up to the May 1950 article that introduced dianetics to readers of “Astounding”. Its almost as long, but it lacks the numerous illustrations that were a prominent feature of his original text.
At the time issue was published the “Hubbard Dianetic Research Dianetic Foundation was growing rapidly, and taking in a great deal of money. This was not to last, but as far as Hubbard was concerned, he was riding a perfect wave. He was now anxious to address criticism both from followers and outsiders.
By this time, many a dianetic pre-clear is becoming convinced that most of his life he had been running strictly on engrams. By no means; the analytical mind is very definitely in there pitching and these are the ways of its workings:
Dianetic therapy was a one trick pony. Practitioners were required to identify aspects of past experiences which had been unconsciously recorded by the patients primitive and irrational ‘reactive mind’ and were causing the patient’s problems, which Hubbard now called “Engrams”.
For example, Hubbard claimed that the he had cured a case of kleptomania when he discovered the patient’s mother had been beaten while he was in the womb by his father who (somewhat melodramatically) said ‘take that’ every time he stuck a blow. This was recorded by the reactive mind as an instruction to steal.
Hubbard also claimed that this procedure could cure serious physical illnesses, for example:
Leukaemia is evidently psychosomatic in origin and at least eight cases of leukaemia had been treated successfully by Dianetics after medicine had traditionally given up. The source of leukaemia has been reported to be an engram containing the phrase ‘It turns my blood to water.’
(Ron Hubbard, “Journal of Scientology” Issue 15-G, 1953)
The problem is that, for practitioners, finding ‘engrams’ was all there was to the ‘therapy’. The introduction of ‘previous lives’ was yet to come and, after the initial excitement started to wear off, the procedure must have become rather boring and repetitive – especially when it didn’t work as advertised.
The motivation behind this article was therefore likely to be to:
- Hold out of the promise of the superhuman abilities which Hubbard claimed would come into play when the ‘Analytical Mind’ was freed from engrams. These included a perfect memory, an enhanced IQ and freedom from almost all physical and mental ailments and, later in the article, Hubbard promises ESP as a ‘coming attraction’.
- Get in a dig at the psychiatrists and psychologists who were beginning to review his book – and giving it a hard time.
The Analytical Mind and Psychiatry-bashing
According to Hubbard analytical mind, free of engrams, can put up a perfect show of insanity, if it suits its purposes, but remain always perfectly sane behind this pretence.
The analytical mind can install in itself, and kick out when no longer needed enough wierderties [sic] to convince any psychiatrist of its utter madness. [..] not once during that show would the analytical mind be other than utterly and superbly sane. (pg 140)
The obscure point that Hubbard seems to be trying to make here is that although the analytical mind has the potential to behave in an insane way, when misled by engrams, it is always perfectly sane when this impediment to perfect reasoning is removed. According to Hubbard, there is never anything wrong with the mind itself. The only reason for mental (and almost all physical) illnesses is the presence of engrams.
There is a wild and wide between capability and cause. And if you suppose for a moment that this difference in not important, consider that considerably in excess of ten thousand luckless human beings have had their brains torn to bits by psychiatrists who, against the advices of their better colleagues practice such idiocies as the prefrontal lobotomy, transorbital leukotomy, topectomy and other neat, quick methods of killing the mentality and spirit. (pg 141)
He cannot answer any of their arguments, and had no evidence for his own claims. His only option is to discredit them.
He purses this for many pages (which include an strained analogy with automobiles). His conclusion is that, after psycho-surgery, the patient has been deprived of his analytical mind and can never recover. He has only been rendered tractable for the convenience of psychiatrists and staff.
Unfortunately for Hubbard, he overlooks that this practice was highly controversial among psychiatrists even in the 1950’s, and has since fallen very severely out of favour. Today, his attacks are curiously out of date – like attacking modern medicine on the grounds that it does no good to bleed people with leeches.
Readers may be puzzled as to what difference there is (if any) between an analytical mind that can produce insane behaviour and insanity itself. Hubbard’s answer is that the analytical mind generates “demon circuits” for special purposes (for example to simulate the behaviour of others) which are discarded when no longer needed (pg 146).
Of course, this is L Ron Hubbard’s writing, so it can’t be as simple as that…
The reactive mind, however, by engrams can force “demon circuits” into operation so that even the analyzer has no control over them.
In other words, ‘demon circuits’ would be discarded after they had served their purpose – if if was not for the source of all Mankind’s problem’s – engrams.
Hubbard proposes that faulty ‘demon circuits’ are the mechanism behind hallucinations and delusions. Some simulations are not erased when they they have served their purpose because of interference from engrams. Hallucinations result when they are re-activated (also by engrams) in a situation where they no longer make sense.
Hubbard’s solution is (of course) to remove the engram so that the analytical mind can take full charge and resolve the malfunction – i.e. apply dianetic therapy.
The hebephrenic schizophrenic is noted for the smallness of his adrenals. He is psychotic because he has engrams. Give him fluid or hormone he is not adequately manufacturing and you may or may not get some reaction in his body – for the engrams may inhibit the fluid being used even when it is injected. De-intensify the engrams and you observe the andrenals grow to normal size […]. (pg 150)
From the perspective of the 21st century, this is all obvious nonsense. Small adrenal glands do not cause schizophrenia. However, the people who were reading this in 1950 accepted Hubbard’s ‘authority’ were swept along by the hype.
Incidentally, the question of how Hubbard practised ‘dianetic therapy’ (which requires an articulate and cooperative patient) upon people suffering from seriously disordered thinking and delusions is never explained. Even if it worked (and it doesn’t) it could not possibly be applied to those who most needed it.
New ‘Research’ New Promises
ESP in particular is evinced largely and is disturbed by anything which inhibits the analytical mind, a matter now under research in dianetics.
The prospect of being among the first to achieve telepathy (after you have ‘cleared’ all of your engrams, of course) is now being held out for the price of membership of a ‘Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation’.
The opportunity to join this ‘foundation’ had been introduced for the first time in an advertisement that had appeared in this very issue (image left).
Hubbard now proceeds (via a strained analogy which made the analytical mind the captain of a ship, and engrams mutinous members of the crew) to argue that the analytical mind can resist the effects of engrams but can never quite subdue them through its own efforts – only dianetics can do this. The analytical mind can, according to Hubbard, also occasionally rally against it’s engrams if driven by necessity – but is soon overwhelmed when that necessity passes (pp 154 -157).
The only sensible course Hubbard leaves open is to buy his book, and join his organisation.
Like most modern readers, reviewers of “Dianetics” found Hubbard’s preoccupation with engrams supposedly caused by statements ‘overheard’ by a child in the womb during beatings, or failed attempts at self-induced abortion, to be creepy nonsense.
Hubbard defends this weak point in a very characteristic way – by once again attacking the psychiatrists who criticised it.
The same psychiatrist who would hammer a psychotic into believing that everything that had happened to him was imaginary – and psychiatry had long been listening and calling “imaginary” actual pre-natal engrams just because “authorities” with no data and clumsy research had said that such things were imaginary. (pg 157)
Hubbard never did any research nor presented any data to support the notion of pre-natal engrams – and the burden of proof for such a extraordinary assertion (which scientific medicine had never found any evidence for) was surely squarely upon his shoulders.
The article rambles to an end by asserting that, once all engrams are ‘cleared’ the analytical mind will inevitably manifest a persons real (and sometimes unexpected) talents to their maximum extent (pp 157 – 164)
I suspect that Hubbard had been receiving to the effect that people were losing interest in a ‘therapy’ that consisted of nothing but finding one depressing engram after another.
Now that the build-up was over, and the ‘big reveal’ had taken place, there was no more mystery to dianetics. Since it could not live up to its claims, at this point Hubbard needed to encourage the troops with some new promises (e.g. ESP coming soon) and flatter them a little. This can be seen in his conclusion.
[…] a person undergoing dianetic processing with an eye to greater ability should never be taken in with the statement that all he has ever done or said is because of engrams. Fully eighty percent of his decisions were clear analytical decisions. […] Even abberated or uneducated, man’s analytical mind has almost completed the conquest of Earth.
The dianetics fad was beginning to come to its natural end.