RON HUBBARD - HIS EARLY LIFE
In considering the Founder of Dianetics and Scientology, we are faced with many problems. At the time of writing we are not even sure if Ron Hubbard is alive or dead.
The events of his early life have frequently been written up by the Church in the short biographical notes included in Church publications.
Evidence is now emerging however that a number of the traditional claims about his early life seem to have little basis in truth. This new data will have a disturbing effect on many people who believed that the man himself was perfect even if the acts of his creation, the Church of Scientology, were sometimes dubious,
A fully researched and balanced biography will no doubt emerge in due course. In the meantime we must be careful not to over-react. It is intended here to concentrate on the work he did and its potential usefulness to our society rather than an assessment of Hubbard as a person. It will still be useful to review the official version of Hubbard's early life, based mostly on his own and the Church's statements about his activities.
Lafayette Ron Hubbard was born in Tilden, Nebraska in 1911. His name was shortened for popular consumption to L. Ron Hubbard but among his many enthusiastic followers he is known as 'Ron' or LRH.
He was the son on a US Naval Officer and experienced a nomadic youth. The frequent moves resulted in his education being fragmented. He became interested by the religious philosophies of the Far East which he encountered when he visited there in his late teens.
Ron Hubbard spent some time in the early thirties at George Washington University Engineering School but did not complete his studies there. He developed a wide range of interests, including exploring, flying, photography and film making. He is said to have supported himself by writing about these and other subjects. During the 1930's he seems to have spent his life as an unashamed adventurer, in the sense of someone seeking out adventure.
He gradually gained reputation and material success as a writer of detective stories, westerns and mysteries for popular magazines. He also spent some time in Hollywood and reputedly wrote some film scripts.
12 THE SAD TALE OF SCIENTOLOGY
Towards the end of this period in 1938 he started to gain a reputation - a Science Fiction writer.
During the war he held a commission in the US Navy. During this period he is said to have started to formulate his ideas on the human mind and behaviour by observing the effects of wartime stress on service personnel. Towards the end of the war he spent some time in military hospital and started to apply his early Dianetic techniques to the rehabilitation of injured servicemen and ex-prisoners of war. The claims that Hubbard was decorated as a war hero and that he used his therapy methods to effect a miracle cure on himself are among those now being disputed.
In his taped lecture on The Origins of Scientology and Dianetics Ron Hubbard states what he did on demobilisation. He had some money accumulating in a savings account from a film script he had written before the war. He took this money and bought a boat which he took cruising n the Caribbean until the money ran out. He then returned to the United States and set himself up as a practising therapist using the elements of Dianetics that he had developed during the war. During these years his practice and reputation expanded as he continued to develop and refine his techniques. He wrote up the elements of Dianetics in 1948, later published as The Original Thesis. It was not possible to find a publisher at the time and attempts to get articles on the subject published in the medical or psychiatric journals also failed.
During this time Hubbard continued to write Science Fiction and participated in the 1940's boom, subsequently known as 'The Golden Age of Science Fiction'. Many of these works still exist and his reputation in this field is still remembered by Science Fiction enthusiasts.
In 1950 Ron Hubbard decided to write a popular handbook on Dianetic theory and therapy, and used his Science Fiction contacts to get it published. What emerged was 'Dianetics Modern Science of Mental Health'. It was a 400 page book divided into three sections. The first covered the fundamental philosophy, the second a theory of Dianetics and finally a practical therapy section.
The form of presentation contrasted strongly with the closely qualified academic style in which ideas on medical science are usually presented. Hubbard wrote the book with characteristic colourful phrasing and humorous asides. It is unfortunately marred by some extravagant claims for unvarying effectiveness, which were not subsequently substantiated. The book does however outline a theory and methodology which many found plausible, and were willing to try.
Groups of people eager to become practitioners of Dianetics sprang
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up in self-help groups throughout the United States and abroad. Ron Hubbard had said that Dianetic therapy techniques were accessible to all and that anyone with the common sense and guts to follow the instructions could help others. That is exactly what they did. Hubbard was now at the centre of a growing movement for self-improvement with an enormous number of requests for information and clarification being directed at him.
His answer was to produce more written material. Articles and books flowed from him in profusion. The first major follow-up to Dianetics Modern Science of Mental Health was Science of Survival (506 pages) in 1951. Then followed Advanced Procedures and Axioms, Evolution of a Science, Self Analysis, Handbook for Pre-Clears, plus a considerable number of taped lectures, some of which have since been published.
These later works on Dianetics were follow ups to the first book but they were much more technical. To be able to understand their meaning and implications fully one really had to have read and practised the theory contained in 'Dianetics - Modern Science of Mental Health.'
Meanwhile this stirring of ideas in the field of health care, and in particular mental health, had not gone unnoticed. Hubbard had expected that his ideas and therapies would be taken up by the medical establishment as a new way forward in the stultified area of mental health.
For various reasons this was not the response he got. Instead he met a broadly hostile closing of ranks. He must have been regarded from the outset as an unqualified interloper and the fact that he was also a noted Science Fiction writer cannot have improved the climate in which his ideas were received. In addition his evident impatience with the medical establishment probably also contributed to the reaction that Dianetics received.
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