Monday, June 7, 2010

Cluster Criticism of a Scientology video pt.1

The Artifact

The artifact proposed for rhetorical analysis in this post, “An Introduction to Dianetics,” is a 4 minute and 6 second video which attempts to introduce primary components of L. Ron Hubbard’s book, Dianetics: The Evolution of Science. This video explains how Dianetics can help individuals achieve life satisfaction and personal achievement through eradicating traumatic memories etched upon the mind. The message of the video is that individuals can empower themselves to live satisfying lives through eradicating powerful subconscious forces called engrams that are the cause of antisocial behaviors, negative thoughts, physical ailments, and painful emotions. Once these engrams are identified and eliminated, it is promised that the true “you” can emerge, unleashing an individual’s potential in the form of confidence, intelligence, productive, and creativity.

To better understand the concepts introduced in the video, a brief word of explanation is in order. In Dianetics, Hubbard (1983) explains that there are two parts of the human mind that are responsible for psycho-social behavior: the reactive mind and the analytic mind. According to Hubbard, on the one hand, the reactive mind, though it is always conscious, “neither remembers nor reasons but simply records all that occurs on a time track” while on the other hand, the analytic mind, “perceives, remembers and reasons” (1983, xii). These two minds interact to effect human emotions and behavior when the reactive mind “impinges engrams of physical pain and painful emotion onto the analytical mind when catalytic situations occur in relation to the one in which the reactive mind first recorded the pain” (Hubbard, 1983: xiii). According to the video, it is the discovery of Dianetics, that these engrams, a record of painful experiences, memories, emotions along with all of the circumstances in which they occurred, are formed in the reactive mind in the earliest stages of human development, even before birth (McCall, p.439). While these engrams are not accessible through the normal process of retrieval and recall, they are stimulated autonomically when a life experience bearing similar features to an engram occurs, triggering a suspension of the analytic mind, which in turn, causes the reactive mind to lash out in irrational thoughts and behavior.

In order to break free from the grip of antisocial, irrational behavior generated while under the sway of the reactive mind, Dianetics prescribes auditing. This occurs as a person trained in the principles of Dianetics causes a patient to go into a state of “reverie” by commanding the patient to close their eyes as the auditor counts out loud to seven and to then go back to the painful engram (Fromm, 1950). As the patient slips down the time track in the reactive mind, the engram is recalled, confronted, and then run through the analytical mind. Once this occurs, the engram permanently loses its negative charge and its capacity to effect thought and behavior. Though this whole procedure is not spelled out in detail in the video, this is precisely what is meant when it explains that Dianetics, “contains a technology to free yourself.”