23 Oct 2006
Tom Cruise killed Kenny!
I really must let this go, Blairism, capitalism, salifism are all just as vulgar and nasty as the creed of Tom Cruise and Posh Spice(?) simply could not resist this, though. They are loonies, are they not?
by the way excellent review of the Dawkins book by Terry Eagleton (who in my opinion can do no wrong) here
Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.
Just found this...Erich Fromm is always worth reading as well!
This is the html version of the file http://www.erich-fromm.de/data/pdf/1950b-e.pdf.
„Dianetics“ - For Seekers of Prefabricated Happiness
This is a review of L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics with which Hubbard founded
his Scientology-Church. The review originally was published in The New
York Herald Tribune Book Review of September 3, 1950, p. 7. - Copyright
© 1950 by Erich Fromm and 2004 by The Literary Estate of Erich Fromm,
c/o Dr. Rainer Funk, Ursrainer Ring 24, D-72076 Tübingen, Fax: +49-7071-
600049, E-mail: frommfunk[at-symbol]aol.com.
Never have people been more interested in psychology and the art of living than
today. The appeal which books dealing with these subjects have is a symptom of
a serious concern with the human rather than with the material aspects of living.
But among these books are some which satisfy the need for rational guidance
and others appealing to readers who look for prefabricated happiness and mira-
cle cures. Dianetics is the latest in this series of books and the author uses all in-
gredients of the success formula with a remarkable lack of embarrassment. „The
creation of Dianetics is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire
and superior to his inventions of the wheel and the arch.“ The author claims to
have discovered not only the „single source for every kind of neurosis, psychosis,
criminality and psychosomatic illness“ but also a therapy which cures all these
ills. „Dianetics cures and cures without failure.“
The author presents first a general theory of the structure of the mind, then
builds upon these premises a theory of mental disturbances and a technique for
their cure. „Man is motivated only by survival.“ He is surviving for self, sex, group
and mankind and each of these „purpose divisions of the entire dynamic princi-
ple“ is called a „dynamic.“ He distinguishes between the „analytical mind,“ „which
perceives and retains experience data to compose and revolve problems and di-
rect the organism along the four dynamics,“ and the „reactive mind,“ „which files
and retains physical pain and painful emotion and seeks to direct the organism
solely on a stimulus response basis.“ While the analytical mind which is com-
pared to an exceptionally magnificent calculating machine thinks in differences
and similarities, the reactive mind thinks only in identities.
The concept of the reactive mind is the basis of the author's theory of mental
illness and its cure. During moments of intense physical or emotional pain the
analytical mind is suspended and the words spoken in the presence of the „un-
conscious“ person are stored as „engrams.“ These engrams are not accessible to
the normal process of recall. Without being aware of it the person is determined
by the contents of these engrams similar to a person whose behavior, posthyp-
notically is motivated by suggestions given during the hypnosis. „If there ever
was a devil, he designed the reactive mind. ... It does anything and everything
that can be found in any list of mental ills: psychoses, neuroses, compulsions,
repressions. ... It can give a man arthritis, bursitis, asthma ... and so on down the
whole catalogue of psychosomatic ills. ... The engram is the single and sole
source of aberration and psychosomatic illness.“
Dianetic therapy follows from these premises. The patient („preclear“) is ill
because the engrams make him so. When all important engrams, particularly
those of the prenatal period are recalled („returned“), the patient is free forever
(„cleared“) from all „aberrations“ and superior in intelligence to the average per-
son. The therapist („auditor“) brings about this „return“ of the engram by putting
the patient in a state of „reverie.“ „When I count from one to seven your eyes will
close. You will remain aware of everything that goes on.“ Then the auditor counts
„slowly, soothingly“ until the patient closes his eyes. During the following period
of reverie the patient is told to „return“ to earlier periods of his life as far back as
conception and at the end of the session he is brought back to the present. The
engram must be recounted many times until they are completely „erased.“
In spite of the authors fantastic claims there is hardly anything original in his
theories except new words for a mixture of misunderstood and undigested Freud-
ianism and hypnotic age regression experiments. Some notions which are truly
„original“ are startling indeed. Thus we hear the patient report the words spoken
by the doctor to his pregnant mother, or by the father to his wife shortly after con-
ception. This reviewer when reading these case histories was tempted to wonder
whether the author had intended to write a witty parody on certain psychiatric
theories and the credulity of the public.
Hubbard's book can hardly be taken seriously as a scientific contribution to
the science of Man but it must be taken seriously as a symptom of a dangerous
trend. Were it only an oversimplified popularization of early Freudian theories it
would be harmless. But Dianetics is expressive of a spirit which is exactly the op-
posite of Freud's teachings. Freud's aim was to help the patient to understand the
complexity of his mind, and his therapy was based on the concept that by under-
standing one's self one can free one's self from the bondage to irrational forces
which cause unhappiness and mental illness. This notion is part of the great
Eastern and Western tradition from Buddha and Socrates to Spinoza and Freud.
Dianetics has no respect for and no understanding of the complexities of person-
ality. Man is a machine and rationality, value judgements, mental health, happi-
ness are achieved by an engineering job. „In an engineering science like Dianet-
ics we can work on a push-button basis.“ There is nothing man has to know or to
understand except to apply Hubbard's engram theory. If he does not accept this
theory he must have ulterior motives or be possessed by a „denyer“ which is „any
engram command which makes the patient believe that the engram does not ex-
ist.“ Everything is exceedingly simple. If you have read Hubbard's book you know
all there is to know about man and society because you know which buttons to
Problems of values and conscience do not exist. If the engrams are erased
you have no conflicts. All great philosophical and religious teachers wasted their
efforts. There is no problem which does not result from engram command and
there is no point to their thinking since they did not know Hubbard's discovery. Al-
though the author says that „the ancient Hindu“ writings, the work of the „early
Greeks and Romans“ including Lucretius, the labors of Francis Bacon, the re-
searches of Darwin and some of the thoughts of Herbert Spencer compose the
bulk of „the philosophical background“ of his work it is hard to believe: certainly
Dianetics does not show the fruits of such concern. The discovery „that survival is
the single and sole purpose of life“ is certainly not the expression of the spirit of
the „ancient Hindus“ or the „early Greeks“ but that of a crude biologism for which
ethical values are subordinated to the urge for survival - if there is any place for
them at all.
But perhaps the most unfortunate element in Dianetics is the way it is written.
The mixture of some oversimplified truths, half truths and plain absurdities, the
propagandistic technique of impressing the reader with the greatness, infallibility
and newness of the author's system, the promise of unheard of results attained
by the simple means of following Dianetics is a technique which has had most
unfortunate results in the fields of patent medicines and politics; applied to psy-
chology and psychiatry it will not be less harmfull.
This negative view on Dianetics does not result from this reviewer's belief that
present-day methods of psychiatry are satisfactory; they are in need of new ideas
and experiments indeed. Fortunately, many psychiatrists and psychologists are
aware of this need and in search for more effective methods of approaching the
unconscious level (like, for instance, the Slesinger „Looking-in“ test). But the
premise must be the strengthening of the patient's responsibility, critical ability
Copyright © 1950 by Erich Fromm and 2004 by The Literary Estate of Erich Fromm
c/o Dr. Rainer Funk, Ursrainer Ring 24, D-72076 Tübingen
Fax: +49-7071-600049, E-mail: frommfunk[at-symbol]aol.com.
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