L. Ron Hubbard raised
Scientology from Dianetics' ashes with the aid of a device that tracks
electrical resistance on skin surfaces of the "auditee's" hands
during sessions. Hubbard claimed that E-meter "reads" confirmed
his notions about tracings of events, images and words making up a destructive
mind he called the "bank." In the auditing procedure, the readings
are supposed to signify the presence and dispersal of "charge"
present in the events and other "bank" material. The meter not
only keeps the processing on course but also verifies the results.
Hubbard framed his
theories and method in terms that thwart comparison with the rest of the
world. However, we find ready comparison between the E-meter -- a biofeedback
device, the tangible element in a wash of intangibility -- and the assortment
of biofeedback devices used outside Scientology to monitor physiologic
functions such as brainwave frequency, pulse rate and finger temperature.
The readings of the non-Scientology instruments are interpreted only to
the extent that their signals (dial needle, flashing light or humming
tone) are deemed to indicate moment-to-moment change in a favorable or
No doubt the auditee
gets "passing" and "non-passing" readings. These reflect
the rise and fall of tension, and the underlying composite of mental,
physical and emotional forces. A person hypothetically "wearing"
biofeedback equipment through the day would get a similar variety of readings,
including the equivalents of "baseline," "rising needles,"
"blowdowns," and "free," "floating" and
"clean needles." The readings would reflect, in part, his reaction
to being on the device, i.e., to
Incentive, a sense
of positive purpose, tends to generate the positive type of emotion that
produces favorable physiologic change and improved readings. This is precisely
the working principle of biofeedback training, where the trainee's object
might be to slow brainwave frequency to alpha or raise finger temperature,
for health or meditation purposes. His incentive
Incentive, of course,
is also the major part of learning to pass a lie-detector test. The lie-detector
is an array of biofeedback devices that supply simultaneous readings.
Clearly, the very principle that makes feedback training possible, and
useful, makes lie-detector test results inadmissable as evidence in court
proceedings: One may beat the machine.
No special magic
makes Scientology biofeedback different from "wog" (non-Scientology)
biofeedback. Human emotion doesn't take a holiday during an auditing session.
The auditee brings his hopes and dreams to the session. His prime incentive,
to succeed at auditing, is channeled through the inculcation of "stable
data," "R-factors," and his own auditing experience. The
regimen instills how auditing is supposed to go, what should happen, and
what is expected of him. He is deluged with suggestion, and may even glean
the nature of his forthcoming insights from descriptions in Hubbard's
writings and the "Bridge" chart, or simply from the name of
The auditee begins to associate his success with the indoctrination; following the program becomes his prime incentive. When he does as Hubbard tells him he feels positive. Compliance is then reward in itself.
The auditee's motivation
to get favorable readings is tremendous. With each floating needle he
is closer to his shining goal. He is probably unaware that he can control
the meter. In any case he wouldn't want to, for that would defeat the
assumed purpose of auditing. Here emerges one of Scientology's strange
contradictions: The auditee, following his natural instincts once he's
on the machine, controls it anyway -- and neither he nor the auditor knows
he's doing it.
To begin with, the
auditee has access to the running supply of machine-generated information
that constitutes biofeedback -- directly, if he is self-auditing [Solo],
otherwise in the form of cues given him by his auditor. His intellect
may not register this information, but his body does. He soon learns to
identify a certain special feeling with end of "cycle" or process.
Meeting Hubbard more
than halfway and complying with the program creates another conflict,
strange, too, in that it contradicts Hubbard's avowed focal intention:
bring to awareness and confront. The auditing situation induces non-confrontation.
Avoiding more than
cursory probing of his real-life trouble spots is the auditee's most efficient
tactic to get him through the process to success. Repression (what Hubbard
may have meant by "non-confront," "overwhelm," "unawareness,"
"lack of responsibility") is, of course, an unconscious mechanism.
When a loaded area looms threateningly near, the auditee's inner antennae
start to twitch (in psychotherapy called "defenses" or "resistance").
He may easily evade confrontation by a diversionary maneuver such as "going
to an earlier incident," preferably a "past life" -- which
he probably knows he is expected to deal with at some point, if not actually
The auditee thus
favors Hubbard, while giving short shrift to his own material, his true
access to valuable discovery. He is rewarded for this evasion. At the
very least he will be acknowledged. If he has an insight, it is not discussed
or questioned, but assumed automatically true and beneficial (and, again,
he may have "selected" the insight from foreknowledge).
If he "cleans
the needle," a substantial reward is imminent, end of process and
a new grade. This is likely. His defenses proved successful; his relief
at manipulating the situation, and the auditor, conduces to a "clean."
The machine is still God, and God is on his side. Wog [Human] emotion
blows off a ton of charge with Good Indicators In.
Constant small rewards
that "free up" the needle include, besides acknowledgment, non-judgmental
attention and strong eye contact -- especially from an attractive auditor.
Earthly incentives -- status in the group, and less cash outlay for auditing
time, for example -- make quick progress through the process additionally
compelling, and nudge the needle in the right direction. The auditee also
has added incentive to "clean"
The stylized auditing communication ensures that the auditee avoids confrontation, cuts corners and hastens through the process. The communication is new and different. The "comm cycle" exchange is worlds apart from conversation or discussion; his responses are "computations," little more than meter readings, unquestioned, unchallenged and unanalyzed.
The auditee operates
in a vacuum. Essentially he talks to himself.
He is only doing
what he is supposed to: tense up a bit on new material, then relax ("restim/destim").
The auditor has no way of testing the auditee's decision to "clean";
he cannot read minds with his machine, and must not "evaluate"
or "invalidate" by asking, for instance, "Could that floating
needle merely indicate your eagerness to pass the grade?"
Nothing, then, prevents
the auditee from responding to questions, and "reading" and
"cleaning," as his inner sense mandates -- as long as he "meets
Hubbard" and gets through the process. He has the information, the
opportunity and the inducement to rapidly ascend the various stages, methodically
skirting pertinent inner data, while receiving plaudits for
is not bank, but about bank. [The Process] Hubbard said: "The E-meter
is never wrong. It sees all, knows all." In the real world, auditor
-- arbiter, overseer, dispenser of judgments and gifts -- and auditee,
sit to either side of the machine. Neither is aware that the session phenomena
Dianetics -- whence
it all began -- was Hubbard's distortion of abreaction ("reliving")
therapy, which had helped war casualties, and whose proponents made no
universal claims. Disbelievers in Dianetics found numerous flaws. Hubbard's
mind-model adheres to the ancient morality play, Good versus Evil (Hubbard
focused on "bad mind," and said next to nothing about "good
mind"). The book Dianetics is a flamboyant assertion of truth on
word of authority (in later years, self-proclaimed "Source"),
written in a self-enclosing language, for example, "clear,"
used as a noun and meaningful only in Hubbard's context of other self-enclosing
terms. The Dianetics theory makes no allowance for vast realms of mental-emotional
phenomena. The method had no lasting success, and proved dangerous for
produced no "clears" worthy of the name, and its inventor had
financial and organizational troubles with the Dianetics movement. The
unstoppable Hubbard solved the problem by creating Scientology, an exclusive
enterprise he styled a religion, through which he maintained absolute
control over funds, facilities, personnel and procedures; claimed church
tax deductions; distracted from the failed Dianetics with metaphysics,
the paranormal, and a method that now dealt with past lifetimes, damaging
word patterns, and space dramas of "entities" and "implants";
declared "reliving" unnecessary with the advent of a device
that refereed the struggle with "bad mind."
In short, Scientology
was Hubbard's way to capitalize on Dianetics. The E-meter was instrumental
(pun intended) in the transition, since it could be "scientifically"
linked with concept, method, and the spirit, or "thetan."
The E-meter was,
and is, an innocent victim. Hubbard's basic confusion was his identification
of a machine with his already-shaky Dianetics mind-model. Meter readings
are equated with a solid and persisting "bank." Subjective thought
content -- meaning, significance, connection, value -- is reduced to "quantities"
of objective mental content--electricity, or
Korzybski, whom Hubbard cited as one of his intellectual mentors, devoted
his lifework in General Semantics to uprooting spurious identifications.
If Korzybski had known Hubbard's particular equation, and had had reason
to believe (as I think he would have) that its elements, most notably
the "bank," were wishfully imagined as well as falsely linked,
much other dogma, seeks to fit everything into its system, relying upon
its followers' perceiving the world within a contrived context. Common
properties are interpreted as Scientologic phenomena.
The auditee is programmed
to identify his experience with Hubbard's drama, and arm-twisted ("What
gains?") into attributing his positive states to auditing and to
nothing else -- when in fact he never lacked native ability to achieve
his goals without auditing. Hubbard's glittering promises -- communication,
awareness, higher states of being -- are the auditee's rightful possession,
and always were. During processing, the glittering
The repeated questions and acknowledgments provoke the auditee's borderline-of-consciousness thoughts, and movement and flow in his responses. Awareness of thoughts as "things" enhances movement of thought. In this respect, auditing is a listing, or itemizing, of the auditee's thoughts. Objectification of thought is, in itself, a constructive pattern; awareness of thought movement allows detachment from "items" in the mental stream.
The problem is auditing's
straight-jacketing format. The objectification is not really "objective,"
since thought is erroneously reduced to the common denominator of "charge."
of thought is valuable when it is freely expressed, not stopped by floating
needles or other rewards, and augmented by the very elements that Scientology
rejects for a "quantitative" approach: the individual's meanings,
emotions, connections, comparisons, observations of his own "process"
and formulation of his own principles.
Insight also becomes
an imitation: "cognition." In the English language, cognition
is the act, process or faculty of knowing or perceiving. In "Scientologese,"
it is not "cognition" but "a cognition," again a quantity
or thing. Insight is not an end in itself, but an increment in a creative
thought-stream, while "a cognition" is a reward, a stopping
point. The auditee
is well-illustrated by the service facsimile. The auditee attains his
"release" with a sentence or two, and leaves session believing
that in the space of a few hours he has unearthed and left far behind
a deep-seated mechanism. If the service facsimile is a truly "serviceable"
idea, the arrived-at statement is an invitation to self-discovery -- an
invitation, however, that the rewarded and "stopped" auditee
A cognition may be
delusory. The auditee feels gratified that he has resolved a problem and
gained an ability -- but this was merely suggestion confirmed by the meter.
The problem resolved may never have existed for him, and the ability gained
he may always have possessed.
Ex-members have observed,
accurately, that auditing gives the auditee biofeedback training. In legitimate
training, prompting favorable readings is regarded as a knack, not a science.
The knack has been described as "letting go of thought and effort."
This is exactly what the auditee does -- for whatever reason -- but he
is not aware of his skill, let alone of its plausible consequences.
A confluence of forces
signals the moment that everything comes together for the auditee. Something
gives him a pleasurable reading. His linkage of physical and mental effect
compounds the pleasure, and he gets a "high" that he attributes
to Hubbard's "Tech." This "confirmation" intensifies
the feeling. He may experience such moments in session or afterwards.
They are really the auditee's worst moments, for he then relinquishes
his reality to others, and may remain convinced that he owes his beautiful
moments to Scientology
and will only recapture them through further auditing.
The cognitive scramble embodying "the moment" is the gateway to a topsy-turvy world where reward is self-knowledge, stoppage is flow, automaticity is communication, judgment is non-evaluation, passivity is responsibility, and slavery is freedom.
The guru dreams up something insidious, then promises to make it vanish -- usually at cost. Hubbard revealed his contempt for his followers most explicitly in his Brave New World bulletins and money-grubbing advertisements. He also gave it away in "jokes": "thetan," which sounds like "satan" with a swish; the planet "Arcelycus," in a confidential bulletin, pronounced "arse lickers." Sinister clues appear in the advanced stages.
The big cognition
on Power Processing is "I am (a) source." But Hubbard is "Source."
Subsuming others in one's own personality is a black magic goal, and Hubbard's
twist may have been inspired by the whimsical English black magician Aleister
Crowley, a Hubbard role-model in the 1940's. The theme
Hubbard created Dianetics/Scientology
only for his own advancement. His method for eradicating the world's ills
is a conditioning system that herds members through a never-ending, increasingly-expensive
series of tension/relaxation rituals, with results signifying only the
auditee's belief in Scientology, and of little meaning in the outside
world. Hubbard's script is
has also been likened to hypnotism. The auditor's eyelock and repetitious
pronouncements are hypnotic. "Start," "End of process,"
and "That's it" forcibly separate the auditee from his other
life, and demark his impressionable, or altered, state. On the Clearing
as I've described above, and an abusive organization, explain Scientology's
high attrition rate. The defector must have wondered at some point, "What
does this have to do with my life?" Seemingly minor discrepancies
did not go unnoticed by the then-member, and may have been his first glimmer
of light. Former members have mentioned their bemusement at "false,"
or "session," reads. It was one thing to stretch,
not agree that anomalies or defects in the meters may influence the session.
Yet members have heard of, or themselves experienced, mock horror stories
of an undercharged machine holding the auditee in limbo for hours. Older
material comes back with reads; "bypassed charge" must be eliminated;
there is much concern about "Keeping In Gains" -- for gains
may be lost. Reason: No "quantity" of charge was ever dispersed.
The gains were illusory. The ex-member again faces the unwanted emotions
that Scientology claimed to free him of.
Will Rogers said:
"It ain't what we don't know but what we know that ain't so that
gives us trouble." To which eminent therapist Milton Erickson added:
"The things that we know but don't know we know give us even more
trouble." The auditee makes a pact with himself, and with his auditor,
This holds severe
penalties, for he must continue to seek solution in Scientology, where
his identification with "case" smacks of hypochondria. His fate
hinges on "finding the right item" in review sessions or further
Many ex-members blame
the organization for everything wrong with Scientology, and continue to
extol "Tech." They have yet to deal conclusively with the cognitive
scramble. Deeper understanding will enable them to break cleanly at last.
Understanding will also help towards an assessment of the various offshoots
of Hubbard's procedure. Splinter group and "squirrel" practices
have been a tradition almost from the moment Hubbard entered the mental-
spiritual marketplace. The practitioners have vested emotional and financial
interest in auditing -- or by whatever name. Some of them would still
be in Scientology if they hadn't suffered a "purge" several
years ago. "Squirrels" simply repeat the auditing exercise away
from the stifling organization. Splinter practitioners, similarly, regard
Hubbard as a great benefactor who at some point took the wrong turning.
They entertain theories as to where the breech occurred, and alter
Splinterers may de-emphasize
the "bank" or Hubbard's science fiction incidents of duress.
Or they may adopt a sophisticated approach: Hubbard's creations are not
taken literally, but represent disparate aspects of the psyche. The value
of the procedure would be in enhancing the auditee's ability to "move
mental masses," whether real or imaginary, mocking them up and releasing
them -- in line with New Age as well as Hubbardian
The splinterer may refer to past lives as "karma," a bow to Eastern philosophy. Or he may pinpoint the client's "belief system," using the E-meter as a divining rod. Whatever ties the splinter practice to Scientology -- and by definition there is something that does -- perpetuates error. Hubbard's old habits are contagious. The splinterer's thrust remains Hubbard's thrust: get the client to have blowdowns and completed process.
The danger lies in
disjointed cause-and-effect. If the client feels good about something
and has a blowdown, it's because of the method. To question this connection
risks undermining the practice.
Splinterers who employ
the meter are hard put to avoid the situations mentioned earlier. Meter
performance dominated their Scientology experience, and will dominate
their clients' experience to the extent that the readings are interpreted.
But how can they not be interpreted in a Hubbard-derived system -- for
example, through division of the procedure into a
However, the "truth-detecting,"
whether in or out of Scientology, is not, after all, done by the device
but by those who "interpret" it.)
The most pervasive
element, the core of "Tech," is the process itself, a set of
specific steps towards a specific end result. No doubt what attracts people
to Scientology -- and, likely, to splinter practices also -- is the notion
that by sitting at a table, gripping a tin can in each hand and
The splinter group may specialize in speeding the recovery of ex-Scientologists. A noble motive. However, the client might recover more fully through an understanding of processing and the E-meter than through further exposure.
Martin Gardner wrote
in 1952, in "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science" "Of
all the defenses which can be made of Dianetics, the defense that 'it
works' is the most irrelevant ... because in the curing of neurotic symptoms
anything in which a patient has faith will work. Such cures are a dime
a dozen. The case histories of Dianetics are not one whit more impressive
than the hundreds of testimonials to be found in Young Perkins' book on
the curative power of his father's metallic tractors. They prove that
Dianetics can operate on some patients as a form of faith healing. They
prove nothing more."
Hubbard talked little
about "faith" and "belief." He used the words "Knowingness"
and "Certainty." They all mean the same. It scarcely matters
whether Hubbard's ideas were totally wrong or touched upon truth. He used
them as snares. His was the common game of wealth, power, manipulation
-- "for the good of humanity."
had great talent; some would call it genius. He led an extremely active
life, and met his goals except for one, emotional comfort -- for which
his wealth and power could only substitute.
was to be his cure, but it didn't work. He fell victim to the delusions
he fostered in others, and it is known that, right up to his demise or
shortly before, he audited himself, or was audited, on his pack of "creatures."
Perhaps he, and "they," should be put to rest.