I’d like to tell you today, here at this first lecture, I’d like to tell you something of the story of Dianetics and Scientology. Some things I’ve never confided to anyone before.
Would you like to hear that?
Well, the start of this story is probably a long, long time ago. And those who don’t believe in past lives will not be offended, because we won’t go that far back. We’ll just take this lifetime.
The story actually starts back when I was about twelve years old and I met one of the great men of Freudian analysis – a Commander Thompson. 1 He was a very great man, an explorer And it’s very fit that we mention his name here in this particular hall, because after all, all the great explorers of Great Britain more or less are haloed here.
And this man was responsible for a great many discoveries out through the world, but he was also interested in the human mind, and his name, as I said, was Thompson. He was a commander in the United States Navy and his enemies all called him Crazy Thompson and his friends called him Snake Thompson.
He was a very careless man. He used to go to sleep reading a book and when he woke up, why, he got up and never bothered to press and change his uniform, you know.
And he was usually in very bad odor with the Navy Department. He was rather looked down on. But he was a personal friend of Sigmund Freud’s. He had no boys of his own, and when he saw me – a defenseless character – and there was nothing to do on a big transport on a very long cruise, he started to work me over.
What impressed me: He had a cat by the name of Psycho. This cat had a crooked tail, which is enough to impress any young man. And the cat would do tricks. And the first thing he did to me was teach me how to train cats. But it takes so long, and it requires such tremendous patience that to this day I have never trained a cat. You have to wait, evidently, for the cat to do something, then you applaud it. But waiting for a cat to do something whose name is Psycho ….
Anyway; at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, where they have all the books on everything, he started shoving my nose into an education in the field of the mind. Now, that’s a very unusual thing to do, to take a twelve-year-old boy and start doing something with the mind. But he really got me interested in the subject – up to the point where I was pretty sure that Freud didn’t know what he was talking about.
But actually Commander Thompson had a very open mind on this, and he used to tell me, “Well, if it’s not true for you, it’s not true.” And I found out that he got this from a fellow named Gautama Siddhartha. Now, you really don’t know Gautama Siddhartha as a man (but that’s all he was) because better than two-thirds of the world population now considers him, a god. But the first thing that Gautama Siddhartha ever said about his own work was that he was just a man. This he tried to make very plain. And the other lesson, back there about 600 B.C., that he taught everyone is that if it isn’t true for you, it isn’t true. It was probably the first time that statement was ever made in this rather didactic universe. I find it’s a very good statement. It agreed with my own personal philosophy very well, because if there’s anybody in the world that’s calculated to believe what he wants to believe and to reject what he doesn’t want to believe, it is I.
But on this very impressionable background I found, at least, that somebody had a hope that something could be done in the field of the human mind. And I think that was Freud’s great contribution – that something could be done about the mind, Now, that doesn’t mean – that doesn’t mean, of course, absolutely and accurately that something will be done about the mind. It just means that there’s a hope that something could be done, and I believe Freud really deserves a great niche in history just for that all by itself. Regardless of what he thought could be done with the mind or how he thought it could be done, he was really the first man that ever stood up and said there was hope for it without whips, clubs, straitjackets and the rest of the paraphernalia by which certain strata of this universe attempt to (quote) cure (unquote) insanity.2