"Psychologists act against Dianetics"

by Lucy Freeman

September 9, 1950

The American Psychological Association today called on psychologists, "in the public interest," not to use in therapy the techniques "peculiar" to a new approach in mental health called Dianetics. It is outlined in a book of the same name.

The action was taken in a resolution adopted by the Council of Representatives, governing body of the association, at its closing season.

The association stated that "in view of the sweeping generalizations and claims regarding psychology and psychotherapy made by L. Ron Hubbard in his recent book "Dianetics," the American Psychological Association adopts the following resolution:

"'While suspending judgment concerning the eventual validity of the claims made by the author of "Dianetics," the association calls attention to the fact that these claims are not supported by empirical evidence of the sort required for the establishment of scientific generalizations. In the public interest, the association, in the absence of such evidence, recommends to its members that the use of the techniques peculiar to Dianetics be limited to scientific investigations designed to test the validity of its claims.'." The book, now a best-seller since its publication several months ago, has been the subject of discussion in psychological and psychiatric circles. The psychologists represent the first scientific group to take official action against it and did so only after long deliberations.

In explaining the action of the council, Dr. E. Lowell Kelly, a member of it and of the board of directors, said, "what we have here is a man who claims he has discovered an exact science of the mind and developed a technique of therapy which goes far beyond that known to psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis."

He described the technique advanced in the book as "as a hodge-podge of accepted therapeutic techniques with new names." One of the main objections to the book made by psychologists is its contention that anyone, having read it, may practice therapy successfully without danger to the patient. There is no evidence in support of this view and "considerable evidence against it," Dr. Kelley declared.

Mr. Hubbard is described by his publishers as "a mathematician and theoretical philosopher." The book is titled "Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health, a Handbook of Dianetic Thereapy." The preface states that the author has discovered a technique "which will invariably cure all psychosomatic ills and human aberrations." In another recommendation, the council "strongly urged" the 8,000 members of the association, as individuals, to offer "tangible support, in all possible ways, financial and otherwise, to their collegues whose connections with the University of California at Berkeley have been severed by recent action of the Regents."

In New York, neither Mr. Hubbard nor a spokesman for his publisher could be reached last night for comment