1,482 of 1,613 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2008
I found this book to be filled with jargon, half baked theories and bizarre assertions. Hubbard seems to only be guessing; he gives no clue as to how he arrives at any of his fantastic claims- that one can raise one's IQ, avoid accidents, pretty much eradicate any and all issues in one's life, by clearing away "engrams" created by bad experiences, including *prenatal* experiences.
In short, one will become more or less superhuman- and if not, it's because you're not doing it right- and it's this weird circular logic that makes the book impossible to take seriously. He seems to have started with some interesting borrowed ideas (regression therapy, ritual magick, etc.) and gotten extraordinarily carried away. In short, he combines older forms of psychotherapy with magical techniques and his own version of Buddhist mindfulness meditation.
This could be of limited usefulness, but I am very concerned that the book makes claims that homosexuality, infertility, etc., are 'perversions,' actual physical illnesses that can be 'cured' by Dianetics, and that ulcers and other diseases are caused by unsuccessful attempts at abortion. These are just two of the many odd medical assertions hubbard makes which could cause serious harm were one to prefer Hubbard's advice over proper medical or pychological care. Most disturbing of all, critics of Hubbard's methods are, of course, ill themselves, criminals, or worse, a frighteningly convenient idea.
889 of 1,010 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2008
Hubbard is attempting to introduce a new system of therapy in this book and as such, it is necessary that he take pains to write in a particularly lucid and precise style; this is not the case. This book rambles on for far too long in many places, introduces concepts out-of-step with their field in a brash manner that is not thoughtful, and does not sufficiently refute its interlocutors. It is also hard to tell how seriously the author himself takes these theses in the course of his writing. As a piece of rhetoric, self-help, or literature, this is a failure. Also, I can only speculate on why there is a bursting volcano on the cover; this makes the book less credible and more sensational in my opinion.
886 of 1,031 people found the following review helpful
L. Ron Hubbard has been grossly underestimated as a writer of Science Fiction. He is possibly one of the greatest fiction writers of the 20th century. With "Dianetics," Hubbard has been able to weave a complex, believable tale of the science of the mind, essentially forming the basis for what would come to be taken to be a religion. How many other Science Fiction writers have done something of that magnitude with such far reaching effects? Darn few.
"Dianetics" made an early appearance in the magazine "Astounding Science Fiction" back in May of 1950. It garnered a lot of press and created a buzz that eventually garnered the attention of a wider audience.
Hubbard created a whole mythology around himself. It is said he was a bronco buster at the age of three, a teenage explorer, a blood brother of the Blackfeet Indians of Montana, a Nuclear Physicist, and a World War II hero, among other things. But above all, he was a writer of pulp Science Fiction.
Interestingly enough, there's plenty of documention that many of the ideas put forth in this book are not original. Many may not be aware that at the root of Dianetics are the discoveries of Dr. William Sargant (a psychiatrist). Sargant's research observed post traumatic stress syndrome in World War II soldiers, leading to a cure known as Abnormal Reaction Therapy. This entailed re-experiencing traumatic events (Hubbard called these "engrams") utilizing a hypnotic (or drugged) state to confront these real or imagined items with the aid of a facilitator. If you are interested in exploring Sargant's work, his book is called "Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing." There are many very close similarities between the two texts.
The key is to become "Clear." Getting to the state of clear comes via "auditing" (a confessional) to remove engrams, thus destroying one's reactive mind. This is the portion of the mind that Dianetics states is the cause of mental and physical ailments. A Dianetics auditor questions the "pre-clear" with the use of an e-meter (a simple lie detector) to assist with this process.
It's been debated that either George Orwell or Ron Hubbard said: "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." Well, Hubbard did just that. And he did indeed make millions. And here is the book that started it all, compliments of the extremely imaginative mind of Science Fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard, and a few uncredited Psychiatrists.
438 of 510 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this when I was young, before I had a real capacity for critical thought, and found it deceptively engaging in a rebellious "anti-establishment" kind of way. Unfortunately, close scrutiny of the text reveals hollow, unproven arguments (with citations desperately needed) leaving one walking away from the book with serious cognitive dissonance.
296 of 354 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2009
There are just no words to accurately describe this book. The made up words, the crazy assertions, the babbling, the insanity. A road map of the Mojave Desert could give more insight and guidance into mental health than this book.
284 of 341 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2009
The thing that bothers me about this book is how it lacks in any sort of scientific validity. The book proposes theories about how the mind works without any research evidence. The concepts are dreamed up by this science fiction writer and don't really have any sort of relevance to how you can become happier, etc. If you want to improve yourself, read a self-help book written by a mental health professional, counselor/psychologist,etc. If you want to go to Hubbard's dream world of magic, read Dianetics.
191 of 228 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book makes many leaps, which require an unbelievable suspense of disbelief in order to stomach. It is a self-serving pat on the back to cultists who follow this guy. And the volcano on the front cover doesn't make much sense
265 of 320 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2009
I read constantly, and love books that make me think. Even books that support theories I disagree with, I'll still give a good reading, with an open mind.
However, this book was truly, literally junk.
Most books that I don't like I wind up giving to Goodwill, but after I read this book, I felt that donating it (and thus, foisting it upon an unsuspecting stranger) would be a grave disservice to my fellow man.
This is the one and only book I've ever thrown in the trash, because I truly felt that's where it belonged.
209 of 252 people found the following review helpful
What exactly is this book? Is it, as it purports to be, a manual of psychotherapy? Or is it, as Scientologists seem to believe, Holy Scripture? If the former, it should be updated periodically, in light of new research. If a doctor stood at my hospital bed perusing the 1858 edition of Gray's Anatomy, I would worry. Or is the original text of Dianetics inerrant, being the result of divine revelation? If so, they should say so, and drop the pretence of scientific rigor.
What are we to make of a theory that states that psychological disorders can arise from the fetus - or even the fertilized egg, the zygote - overhearing and recording conversations from the outside world? An example given is of a husband beating his pregnant wife while shouting, "You've got to take it!" The poor child that results will grow up to be a kleptomaniac ('You've got to take it'. Geddit?).
If dialogue can be so destructive to the unborn, perhaps we need a new movie rating of FU, for 'Fetus Unfriendly'.
In fact, the theory goes even deeper into absurdity. We are told that "it is not true that emotion gets into the child through the umbilical cord...Emotion comes on another (more electrical than physical) type of wave...Therefore, anyone who is emotional around a pregnant woman is communicating that emotion straight into the child." 'Straight into' you notice, like some sort of radio transmission. Believe that and you'll believe anything.
Here's another: "It may be that a patient is urgent in her insistence that her father raped her...Large numbers of insane patients claim this. And it is perfectly true. Father did rape her, but it happened she was only nine days beyond conception at the time. The pressure and upset of coitus is very uncomfortable to the child and normally can be expected to give the child an engram which will have as its content the sexual act and everything that was said." In other words, a man making love to his wife nine days after she becomes pregnant is effectively raping his daughter and condemning her to insanity.
Such drivel fills the 700 or so pages of this book.
Finally, what words can describe the author's writing style? 'Pompous', 'overblown', 'clumsy' and 'confused' come to mind, but I think I'll settle for 'ludicrous'.
Neither scientific nor inspirational, this thick slab of nonsense will not cure anyone of any psychological disorder except insomnia.
200 of 241 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2005
Dianetics argues that the sources of human suffering are stored in 'engrams' in the 'reactice mind' - complete recordings, down to the accurate detail, of every perceptual experience. It also describes the way to rid yourself of these 'engrams' as a process called 'clearing'. It sounds reasonable until you dig deeper into Dianetics and Scientology (the Church of Scientology).
I bought 'Dianetics' in 1998 from a street recruiter from the Church of Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of the 'Church'). 'Dianetics' is an entry point into the 'Church' of Scientology - a blend of pseudo-psychotherapy, religion and science fiction which has bankrupted hundreds of people and led to some suicides (see Time Magazine, 6th May 1991). You can find scientologist recruiters on city streets everywhere. A popular trick (used on me) is to ask - survey style - "if you could change three things in your life, what would they be". Scientologists call this 'finding your ruin', i.e. a weakness or problem they can hook into. Alternatively, they use a 'personality (or 'stress') questionnaire' - with no scientific basis and no demonstrated psychometric validity (i.e. never validated in a scientific peer-reviewed journal). The Scientologist wrote my three answers down and mentioned a book which could help - 'DIANETICS'. I was taken to a basement beneath a pub, which was full of the books, and others by the Author Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology. I am a psychologist - not stupid - but was then persuaded due to my interest in psychology. I bought the book for 6 pounds, and was asked to give my name and address, in order to send out a "receipt". What I received was over 10 unsolicited letters from Scientology members asking if I had resolved my three issues, and offering 'help' in their local centre.
Hubbard describes a process called 'clearing' (called 'auditing' when performed by another person, which it has to be). This is a form of 'psychotherapy' performed by people who are not trained in psychology or counselling, and are not members of any professional psychological or counselling organisation. It involves aspects of hypnotism, social pressure and conditioning, though the church states that it is not psychotherapy. Auditing costs a lot of money. After some years of auditing, at great expense, one might reach an 'advanced level' known as OT III. Here you are told that...the cause of your (and everyone's) problems was that the world is full of the souls of space aliens murdered 75 million years ago. The alien galactic ruler Xenu was in charge of Earth and 75 other planets in this part of the galaxy some 75 million years ago and cured overpopulation by paralysing the people of the other planets, flying them to Earth in DC-8 space planes, arranged them round a volcano to murder them with H bombs. These souls of murdered people were gathered up and boxed, taken to cinemas and shown films for several days. The end result was that the souls clustered together and now inhabit people in their thousands. Scientology will help 'clear' you of this, at great expense. Sounds ludicrous? Well it's true. Check it out for yourself.
'Dianetics' is full of unscientific nonsense with no supporting empirical evidence that has been published in peer-reviewed psychology journals. The American Psychological Association denounced it as such. The language is deliberately complex to baffle and impress the average reader. Most would consider it unreadable.
The author was actually a science fiction writer, who saw that he could make more money by inventing a new religion - Hubbard stated: "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion". Scientology has been exposed by many independent Judges and Governments, and by the press (famously by Time magazine, 1991). Scientology or its practices has been banned on and off in many countries and states. However, in order to silence its critics the it issues legal procedings citing copyright infringement against journalists, newpapers and websites that reveal negative information about Scientology.
As for the author, Hubbard, the (Australian) Report of the Board of Inquiry into Scientology (Victoria) stated that expert psychiatric witnesses were of the opinion that Hubbard's writings indicated "symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia of long standing with delusions of grandeur" and came to the conclusion that Hubbard's "sanity was to be gravely doubted." Hubbard claims to have visited Venus, the Van Allen Radiation belt, and heaven (twice). Hubbard wrote the fair game policy - that anyone critical of scientology is fair game for abuse including violence. You can find his sci-fi books on Amazon - and science fiction is exactly what Scientology is. Hubbard claimed to have a Ph.D. from "Sequoia University" - a residential dwelling in Los Angeles which operated through a post office box and delivered mail order doctorates without exams, or attendance... Hubbard had no qualifications in psychology, counselling, psychotherapy, theology, or philosophy.
Still interested in reading it?