To the Editor: Patients are beginning to request medical opinion on “dianetic treatment,” and I am at a loss as to what they should be told. What is the attitude of leading psychiatrists regard the method as recommended in the book on “dianetic therapy” by L. Ron Hubbard? M.D. Minnesota.
This inquiry was referred to two authorities, whose replies follow. –ED.
ANSWER—Dianetic treatment cannot be considered a “form of psychiatry.” It does not take cognizance of the observations and views of psychiatrists. Articles on dianetics have not appeared in national psychiatric journals, but a long article appeared recently in a science-fiction magazine. The author, L. Ron Hubbard, is best known as a science-fiction writer. The author of the recently published “Handbook on Dianetics” makes fantastic claims as to the efficacy of his therapy, completely brushes aside current medical psychiatric understanding of mental disturbances and of psychotherapy. Because it promises so much to the reader, the book and the views of the author will probably attract attention. The hook will be confusing to readers and cannot be recommended by responsible physicians.
ANSWER—The 400 page “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.- by L. Ron Hubbard is the only material available on this subject available to the writer. Although a preface is written by a physician, the subject not presented as being related to medicine. Psychiatry would certainly not claim it. The author is a layman and describes in his system of “treatment” a method whereby one layman can help another overcome a psychologic illness. Apparently the author thinks in terms of mathematics and of man as a machine. His theory is that psychologic difficulties are caused by “blocked engrams,” memory images which are confused or distorted in the body cells of the subject. Once these are “recalled” and “cleared,” the subject gets well and remains well. The author makes gross errors in his oversimplification of the personality structure and function. His elaborate claims in the “treatment” results are unsupported.1
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