Sept. 3, 1951
Departure in Dianetics
The cult of dianetics, which was going strong a year ago (TIME,
July 24, 1950), has some of the features of a new religion. Its
founder, Science-Fictioneer L. Ron Hubbard, claimed that his
"science of the mind" could cure all mental and most bodily ills,
make supermen of truly devoted converts. Today, dianetics is
suffering the standard fate of the cult: one of its earliest
adherents has broken away and is accusing Hubbard of having
strayed from the true faith.
Joseph Augustus Winter is an M.D. who got into dianetics in its
early, science-fiction days. Physician Winter, a Manhattan
psychosomaticist, was impressed by Hubbard's theory that the mind
can register impressions ("engrams") even during unconsciousness.
And he was soon convinced that the dianetics technique of
relieving emotional upsets by reliving them before another
dianetics devotee (auditing") was an improvement on
psychoanalysis. An auditing session, says Dr. Winter, cured his
six-year-old son of a fear of the dark and ghosts. Winter also
credits his son with "remembering," thanks to dianetics, the
process of his birth and the white-coated obstetrician who
Dr. Winter wrote the foreword for Hubbard's bestselling book,
became medical director of the Dianetics Research Foundation, and
tried to guide it along what he considered sound scientific lines.
Now, in "A Doctor's Report on Dianetics" (Julian Press; $3.50), he
thinks he made a mistake. Founder Hubbard, says a disillusioned
Dr. Winter, became more & more "absolutistic and authoritarian";
the foundation became less & less interested in research, more
interested in spreading the word. Last winter, Winter flounced
out. He was finding orthodox dianetics "ritualistic and sterile."
In his book, Physician Winter tries to filter Hubbard's strange
mixture and pick out the scraps fit for human consumption. He
rejects such gimmicks as the mental "file clerk," invested by
Hubbard to chase about in the mind in search of mislaid
impressions, and scoffs at the Hubbardians' "Guk" program. "Guk"
was a mixture of vitamins and glutamic acid which was supposed to
make dianetics subjects "run better."
Dr. Winter believes that psychiatrists should do what he is now
doing in his Manhattan practice: use the auditing technique of
dianetics as one more tool in their kits, along with parts of
psychoanalysis and general semantics. In any case, Winter is
convinced that it is dangerous for laymen to try to audit each
other (he cites patients at Hubbard's foundation who went insane);
treatment should be by experts only.