Subcommittee On Mental Health Report on "Dianetics" (December 8, 1950)

Caroline

Patron Meritorious
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December 8, 1950​

To: DR. Robert Groh, Chairman
Subcommittee on Mental Health
Committee on Public Health
District of Columbia Medical Society
Washington, D. C.

REPORT OF YOUR COMMITTEE ON "DIANETICS"

Your committee has reviewed the basic material which sets forth the claims of the DIANETICS movement and has also discussed this matter with various psychiatric authorities, locally and nationally.

Attempts to interview those in charge of the Washington offices of this organization have been delayed because of illness on the part of their chief staff officer.

Two facts which have developed in the last few weeks may have a bearing on the application for incorporation.

One -- the physicians who have sponsored this activity in both Washington and Elizabeth, New Jersey, including the co-author of the book, Doctor Winters, have disassociated themselves from the movement. A copy of this letter of resignation of one, Doctor Roland [N.] Walker, Jr. an internist of Norfolk, Virginia, is attached. He makes statement which seem to throw light on the situation. The physician who gave a medical approval and supervision to the Washington Office, Doctor Richard Price, has also resigned.

Two -- The non-professional leaders of the Washington office have also resigned and have been replaced by a gentleman and his wife who have just come to take charge. The withdrawal of physicians seems to us to vitiate claims that those persons are acting in a conscientious and straight-forward attitude and with approval of physicians.

We have learned in Washington and elsewhere that mentally ill patients have been harmed. They have also placed themselves in the hands of persons untrained and inexperienced and who have no concept of the dangers and hazards assumed by the patient and the psychological trauma likely to occur when serious mental situations are handled in an irresponsible manner.

We have been unable to find any scientific basis for the activities of the DIANETICS activities or any scientific evidence that any good has resulted in any instance. On the contrary such extravagant claims are made in the book "Dianetics" by Ron Hubbard indicate that they run counter to known scientific facts.

Quotations from a book review by J. M. Wepman, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, is pertinent:

"Dianetics, or any form of easy approach to the mind and its problems, can be definitely harmful -- harmful in the sense that it creates in the mind of the reader the notion that psychological equilibrium is to be had for the asking, by a simple reliving of previous experiences. Any book of theory which denies the affect of therapist upon the patient; which promises such things as an increased IQ; which believes and preaches the uncovering of traumatic material in the past of an individual without providing new defenses for his psyche; which want to start all over again by denying all previous psychological learning -- a work which propounds such theories can be harmful."

Also quotations from a review of the book by Robert E. Peck, M. D. of New York in the American Journal of Psychiatry is presented:

"L. Ron Hubbard released his book simultaneously with a long article about it in the May issue of ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION magazine ...... Without pretending to pass final judgment on the movement, certain things can be said about it psychiatric ally. The whole project was irresponsible by accepted scientific standards. Testimonials cannot be considered scientific proof of any method yet most of the evidence for dianetics consists only of testimonials. The author's claims of exhaustive tests for his findings seem to reside in his own fantasy. They certainly are not included in the book or in any public record that I have found. ...... As for Hubbard himself, he may be explained as a misguided and frustrated genius whose previous efforts in the realm of scientific fiction writing have subtly prepared him for that nice ignorance of reality without which he could not have developed this epic. Certain bits of [internal] evidence such as his insistence on the frequency of abortions, his cruel fathers, his unfaithful mothers, his blundering doctors, his arrogance toward authority, may indicate the author's own systematized paranoid delusions".

I hope these findings, incomplete as they must necessarily be will be of aid to the authorities of the District of Columbia in deciding whether or not to grant a charter of incorporation.

Morris Kleinerman, M. D.
Julius Schriber, M. D.
Daniel Blain, M. D., Chairman
Emphasis added
 

Caroline

Patron Meritorious
Thanks so much. I'd never seen that.

You're welcome, Leland. Imo, this review of Dianetics is as relevant in 2019 as it was in 1950:

J. M. Wepman said:
Dianetics, or any form of easy approach to the mind and its problems, can be definitely harmful -- harmful in the sense that it creates in the mind of the reader the notion that psychological equilibrium is to be had for the asking, by a simple reliving of previous experiences. Any book of theory which denies the affect of therapist upon the patient; which promises such things as an increased IQ; which believes and preaches the uncovering of traumatic material in the past of an individual without providing new defenses for his psyche; which want to start all over again by denying all previous psychological learning -- a work which propounds such theories can be harmful.
 
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