Today In History: Dianetics Published

Today In History |

May 9, 1950


Today in 1950, science fiction author published Dianetics, a foundational book in Scientology. Its full title is Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, or "DMSMH."

In the book, Hubbard lays out a theory of psychotherapy derived from personal insights, Eastern philosophy and bits and pieces of Freud. People within Scientology often refer to the book as "Book One."

Its publication marks the beginning of the religion that would later be called Scientology. The book details Hubbard's understanding of the human mind, which conceals traumas, called "engrams," in the "reactive mind." He claimed that engrams could be purged through a counseling process called "auditing," still a major part of Scientology.

Strangelove for Science Fiction

Hubbard and Scientology have come under intense criticism in recent years, with many accusing the religion of being a cult. The publication of Dianetics provoked a great deal of controversy as well, drawing harsh criticism from medical professionals and scientists. In 1951, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners filed a complaint against the Dianetics Foundation for teaching medicine without a license.

Despite accusations that Hubbard was propounding pseudoscience, Dianetics was a hit. Possibly. Employees of B. Dalton later claimed that Hubbard's publisher enlisted Scientologists to buy dozens or hundreds of copies of the book, to be sold back to the bookstores.

Scientology, and its major beliefs, continue to be intensely controversial. France has legally classified Scientologist as a cult. The religion is, perhaps, most famous for attracting a high number of A-list celebrities, Tom Cruise foremost among them.

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Matt lives in Southern California. He is interested in politics, history, literature and the natural world.