Perfect Control Without Further Fear: A Psychobiography of L. Ron Hubbard

Ron.

Ron.

©James L. Kelley 2015

Southern California, circa 1948. A depressed, impotent Navy veteran named L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) angles his shoulders toward a customized high-speed typewriter. His dim, narrow eyes begin to glint as his fingers strike the keys. This, however, will be a new type of writing for Hubbard, who has long-since made his name as a penny-a-word pulp writer…

Hubbard’s curious document would later be discovered in an office attic by an unsuspecting archivist. Eventually it was brought to public knowledge through a court case involving the organization Hubbard would later found—Scientology [1]. Writer Omar Garrison, who had been commissioned by Scientology to craft a biography of Ron Hubbard, gave the mysterious typescript the title “Affirmations,” though after considering its bizarre content further, he emended this to “Admissions.” The text of the “Affirmations”—intended by Hubbard to be read into a recording device and then played back as a kind of personally designed self-hypnosis—is a series of statements that outline various inter- and intra-personal conflicts that Hubbard believed were inhibiting both his sexual performance and his spiritual development. Every word of the “Affirmations” exudes a subtle mixture of grandiosity and paranoia familiar to anyone with some knowledge of Hubbard’s behind-the-scenes life. For instance, Hubbard candidly declares that he

built certain psychoses in myself while living with my former wife [Polly] as a means to protect my writing. (-) I was always anxious about people’s opinion of me and was afraid I would bore them. (-) People criticized my work bitterly at times. I must be convinced that such people were fools. I must be convinced that…a million people at least would be happy to see my stories. (-) I can forget such things as Admiral Braystead. Such people are unworthy of my notice [2].

What gives Hubbard the right to disregard his own weaknesses? His status as ruling deity over Earth’s sector of the universe. To repeat the chilling words of the “Affirmations,” in order to achieve “perfect control without further fear,” Hubbard believed he “had the whole right to use or help or hurt people” [3].

Such statements are difficult to interpret apart from concepts and terms used in diagnosing and treating persons suffering from mental illness. Accordingly, this study hopes to gain insight into the mind of L. Ron Hubbard through a psychologically-oriented examination of the Scientology founder’s troubled relations with his parents, his first two wives, and his mistress Barbara Snader. However, since he filtered each and every thought and interaction through his spiritual philosophy, we must view Hubbard’s life through the dual prism of psychology and theology. Theology can be viewed as Hubbard’s theory, the praxis of which was his psychology. I contend that few scholars have taken Hubbard’s theology seriously and that, as a result, most studies of Scientology and its originator offer no convincing account of his psyche. In other words, L. Ron Hubbard needs to be approached psychobiographically, since the main interpretive problem in Hubbard biography is the absence of any meso-concept that can reach both Hubbard’s quixotic actions (micro-level) and his overarching worldview (macro-level). Such a middle-tier psychobiographical nexus is missing from books and articles that write Hubbard off as either all-knowing messiah, raving madman, or inscrutable sphinx.

As our brief consideration of the “Affirmations” suggests, by the mid-1940s L. Ron Hubbard discovered that he was an “adept” whose rare power of “psychic will” was not shared by any of the people closest to him. The remainder of this essay will show how this epiphany led Hubbard to re-interpret damage to his core relationshipsestrangement from his parents, divorce from his first wife Polly, and impotence with his then-spouse Saraas an ineffectual (though sometimes nagging) obstacle to his self-knowledge. Hubbard saw his life to that point as a circuitous path that had led him to realize that he was “a crown prince of [his] portion of the universe” [4]. In this essay the details of Hubbard’s evolving religious worldview will be related to the main events of his life, our analysis throughout being anchored by a detailed consideration of the Dianetics founder’s psyche. Throughout, the term “psyche” is taken to mean the mental matrix or sieve through which ideas and life-actions pass, back-and-forth, within which a triad of elements—mind, life, belief-system—condition each other as they flow past (and, to push the sieve metaphor, through) each other.

  1. Ron Hubbard came into the world on 13 March, 1911, in the sleepy hamlet of Tilden, Nebraska [5]. Hubbard’s parents—Harry Ross “Hub” Hubbard and Ledora May Hubbard—failed to provide anything resembling a stable home during Ron’s formative years: “Before he was a year old…Hubbard was sent to his maternal grandparents, the Waterburys, because his ‘father’s career kept the family on the move'” [6]. In fact, Hub Hubbard’s naval service required the family to scurry across the globe, sometimes as far as China and India. “When I was very young, I was pathetically eager for a home,” Ron wrote as an adult looking back on his blur of a childhood [6a]. However, the imaginative Hubbard possessed the inner resources to refocus his childhood yearnings into the telling of tall tales designed to bridge the gap between himself and the adults around him:
Secrets Revealed,

Secrets Revealed,

As a child, according to his aunts, Ron Hubbard was already possessed of a fecund imagination, making up games and stories for the amusement of the invariably attentive adults in his world. From the beginning, he possessed a capacity for fantasy which he was to carry with him throughout his life. As a schoolboy, to escape the reality of dreary algebraic equations and dry facts of history, he would fill the pages of his school notebooks with pages and pages of swashbuckling tales of heroic adventurers in exotic and distant lands.

In later years, he created a resume for himself, transforming his most pathetic liabilities into assets of heroic proportions—as if the boundary between fantasy and reality had become blurred even to himself [7].

Here we see the child Hubbard compensating for his lack of an established home by abandoning the role of the “child who needs to be nurtured,” adopting instead the role of the “miniature adult” who must soak up the attention of any and all adults around him in lieu of the more consistent and balanced presence of both parents. To these parents we now turn.

HARRY HUBBARD

Though his son was an extrovert, Harry Hubbard, by contrast, was nothing if not undemonstrative and disengaged. Like many Depression-era men, Harry’s highest hope was to be an organization man, a manager, preferably in a corporation or in a government office. Harry knew, though, that you had to take whatever job you could get if conditions were not optimal. The biggest shame for such a “forgotten man”? Having no gainful employment [7a]. Such unfortunates—among them hobos, transients, and unfamilied drifters—peopled the train stations, railroad yards, and bar-ditches from the Dust Bowl to the coasts. Harry rose above such a miserable fate—but only just: His on-again, off-again Naval career was filled out with various unpromising (and certainly unheroic) positions, such as assisting Ron’s grandfather with the family coal business and managing a dilapidated small-town theater on its last leg [8]. Though he wore his uniform during the first World War, Harry Hubbard was quite satisfied to serve as a desk-bound military clerk and to otherwise avoid more soldierly duties. To his son, possessed by fantasies of heroic adventure, Hub Hubbard embodied a maddening contradiction: A world traveler, always on the periphery of every battle, a man who shined more as a manager of ledger books that inventoried war supplies than as a man of action who decided conflicts. An odd fact illustrates bluntly the contrast between father and son: Ron, with his parents on a naval ship in the Far East, used his father’s shipping-clerk account logs to record his imaginative observations of the exotic sights and sounds [8a]. This would not be the last time Ron Hubbard used his pen to paper-over the offending ordinariness of his life with a garish pulp narrative.

  1. Ron Hubbard later showed an extreme sensitivity toward his own Naval career, which in his so-called “Admissions” he conceded was “not too glorious” [9]. Indeed, Ron Hubbard was removed from command of a naval vessel after he ordered his crew to fire upon enemy submarines that upon review turned out to be only anomalous radar blips. In a candid journal entry written before his fame, the future pulp writer regretted his tendency to see high adventure where lay no more than the all-too-humdrum: “I feel a little like a child who tries to see romance in an attic and holds tenaciously as long as he can to his conception, though he well recognizes the substance…as a disinteresting tangle of old cloth and dust” [10]. Writer L. Sprague de Camp recalls an incident in 1944 when Hubbard became irked at him for having achieved a higher military rank without the benefit of experience at sea: “When Lieutenant Hubbard appeared in Philadelphia in the winter of 1944, the Heinleins, the Asimovs, and the de Camps made a night of it with him. I cannot blame him for showing slight vexation at my having half a stripe on him, since he had at least been at sea, while I had been navigating a desk” [11].

In sum, Harry Hubbard was a man lacking in either the motivation or the acumen to captivate those around him, much less attempt at “smashing [his] name into history,” a feat his ebullient, fantasist son would first plot out, then bring to fruition [12]. It was later to become a standard Scientology doctrine that parents exhibit a lack of wisdom and vital power when they deny their progeny’s “self-determinism.” To Ron, Hub was just such a distant, authoritarian figure. Hub Hubbard “decreed” that his son would give up his wanderings and train as an engineer; L. Ron Hubbard, who even as a child was disinclined to follow any save his own counsel, nonetheless followed his father’s fiat, though not without resentment [13].

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MAY HUBBARD

According to the official Scientology account, Ledora May Hubbard, née Waterbury, “was atypical for her time, in that she was educated as a teacher prior to her marriage, which made her ‘aptly suited to tutor her young son’ who ‘was reading and writing at an early age, and soon satisfying his insatiable curiosity about life with the works of Shakespeare, the Greek philosophers, and other classics'” [14]. This Victorian image of a genteel frontier lady educating an eager, bookish child is certainly a touch-up job, for young Ron, other sources indicate, felt ambivalent at best about his mother. Moreover, his lifelong pattern of study consisted in latching onto “one slim fact” and intuiting the rest, there being no question of diligently leafing through tome after dusty tome [15]. One of Ron Hubbard’s associates later related that the Dianetics guru, far from playing the part of docile schoolboy, actually despised Mrs. Hubbard: “He said his mother was a lesbian and that he had found her in bed with another woman and that he had been born as the result of an attempted abortion” [16]. Despite its luridness and probable exaggeration, Hubbard’s utterance substantiates his comment in the “Admissions” that his parents “never meant well by me” [17].

In fact, May Hubbard, far from being a candidate for mother-of-the-year, was judged by her son a censorious figure who, among other things, told Ron that his habit of masturbating, if not curbed, would cause him physical harm [18]. Also, May Hubbard “did clerical work for government agencies” at the same time Hub enlisted in the Navy [19]. This parallel was surely not lost on the observant Ron, for whom May must have seemed a feminine version of Harry Hubbard, since both excelled in government bureaucracy—a realm anathema to the protean boy. Considering Ron Hubbard’s later hostility to both parents, we can guess that he felt stymied not only by Hub’s and May’s seeming lack of ambition, but also by their insistence that he set aside all “unrealizable” daydreams and settle for a dullsvillian station below even what his shopkeeping Waterbury relatives had achieved.

In short, a sense of meaningful action in society was missing from his parents’ picture of reality, and Ron rebelled against this unduly bleak picture by projecting his fantasies onto society as a whole. If the grey flanel world of Roosevelt was unfit to contain his dreams, then he would inflate their import to such an extent that the world would be remade in his image. It is surely no accident that the “Affirmations featured Flavia Julia, a red-haired woman that Ron invented to represent his higher self [20]. May and Harry Hubbard had already set the table for Ron’s conjuration of his daimon-helpmeet through their disfunctional parenting, through their unparalleled embodiment of the kind of plodding, low-rung servant that had become the ambivalent ideal for many Americans of the day. But it was never in the cards for L. Ron Hubbard passively to accept this template of ersatz security. Rather, Hubbard fell back on another archetype of American life: the confidence man, whose virtuosity consists in selling the sell itself.

BARBARA “KAYE” SNADER, SARA NORTHROP AND THE “ADMISSIONS”

In this and in the concluding section, we will attempt to garner insight into how L. Ron Hubbard’s narcissism and paranoia effected the construction of his religious philosophy, and how both conditioned his sexual relationships. We will first focus on a few key details pertaining to Hubbard’s relationship with his mistress Barbara Snader. Next we will comment on Hubbard’s impotence with his second wife Sara, revealed in his “Admissions.” The “Admissions,” it is here contended, is a key to interpreting Hubbard’s mental terrain since it is comprised of Hubbard’s own evaluations of his relationships in light of his status as an “adept.”

Light reading.

Light reading.

Barbara Snader (also known as Barbara “Kaye”) recalls a conversation she had with Hubbard in late 1951 at the San Francisco home of a Dianeticist who was throwing a welcoming party for him. Around this time, Snader was upset that Hubbard was still halfheartedly committed to his absent wife Sara; on this particular evening, though, she was more perturbed at having caught the red-haired Pan in the arms of their host’s wife. Snader carps at Ron for his tendency to deceive those closest to him: “You make a habit of ‘instilling’ engrams, too, don’t you?” Hubbard, spirit undimmed, queries: “Isn’t it exciting for you being a pawn on such a grand chess board? You are playing for the world. Can you think of anything more exciting?” [21]. Here Hubbard excuses his various betrayals as mere peccadillos in light of his grand destiny to control the world’s fate. Ironically, he offers Barbara a share in the spoils of this cosmic contest; she can be “Cleopatra” to his “Caesar.” Snader rejects such grandiose posturing as a denial of real human interaction: “I know you now, Ron, and at this moment am closer to you than anyone has ever been.” Hubbard’s reply: “And knowing me you don’t care for me any more” [22].

What is left once Hubbard’s megalomaniac bubble is punctured? A narcissist whose self-generated assertions of his own high value serve to conceal a more fundamental fragility. Others’ refusals to buy into this superself can only mean total rejection from the narcissist’s perspective, no middle ground of negotiation or discussion being thought possible. Inevitably, the narcissist tries to regain his exalted position through bald assertions of power, which may take the form of a denial of the threatening other’s status. To Snader’s “You need me more than I need you,” Hubbard retorts: “In 1939 I was very much in love with a girl. She felt that way too. When I knew she had a boyfriend coming up, I waited on the stairway with a gun, just for a moment. Then I said they are flies. I realized who and what I was and left” [23].

Why is Snader mistaken in thinking Hubbard needs her? Because Hubbard was once jilted by a woman but, on the cusp of using violence to reset the power shift, experienced an epiphany. His superself was then revealed to him; Hubbard realized he was a superior being, while the woman and her lover were insects by comparison. In the “Admissions,” Hubbard reveals that, through his own efforts, he discovered that God and his daimon Flavia had a special regard for him. This was because Hubbard possessed a “psychic will” that placed him above the common run of humans, who had only “material will.” Because these latter beings were ruled deterministically by the realm of matter, they had no connection to the spiritual realm, as did Hubbard and the few psychic beings scattered across the cosmos’ expanse. It follows that a psychic-willing being has the right to deceive or misuse material-willing beings. For the former to consider the “feelings” of the latter is, in actual fact, a turning against God and his intermediaries, whose good pleasure and spiritual attributes flow down only to Hubbard and his psychic-willing ilk.

In the “Admissions,” Hubbard creates a self-therapy to ensure that his perceived shortcomings—chief amongst them his inability to maintain an erection during intimacy with his young wife Sara—are interpreted properly. These follies only seem such from the vantage point of the material will, or what Hubbard would later term “MEST,” short for “matter, energy, space, and time.” Pain is a confusion of the loss of bodily cells or other MEST objects with a loss of psychic power, or “theta,” as Hubbard came to term the spiritual essence or power of a “thetan” [24]. Why, though, would a higher being such as Hubbard need to feel pain at all? To answer this question, we need to do a little cosmology.

THE PAIN POSTULATE: HUBBARD’S THETANIC COSMOLOGY

Scientology doctrine holds that MEST originated in a thought-game played by a plurality of spiritual beings or thetans. Put differently: Before a single atom of matter sprang into being, there existed a finite number of sentient, immortal, and immaterial beings, each having the capacity to create its own universe. However, in their initial configuration, these thetans, not unlike Leibniz’s “windowless monads” [25], were incapable of sharing the contents of their inner worlds without some principle to coordinate their perceptions. For Leibniz this principle is “God,” whose “pre-established harmony” guarantees that all monads are tuned into the same program of interaction such that they seem to interact. Hubbard’s solution, more in key with twentieth century philosophy’s emphasis on the category of “relation,” is to posit the initial configuration of non-interacting thetans as a communication problem: thetans begin in a “no-game condition,” a deadlock of non-development that for these spiritual entities can be broken only through a coordination of their ability to create through postulation. For the thetan, postulates are thoughts that establish a MEST world and that determine which laws will operate therein [26]. But, in order to co-create, the thetans must agree mutually to forget their acts of MEST creation, at least in the sense of not postulating all possibilities simultaneously.

Since this idea of “thetan forgetting” is somewhat difficult to express, we will represent the notion as a logic chain:

(1) “No rules” and “infinity of rules” are both no-game conditions;

(2) Thus, the rules of any game are finite in number;

(3) In order that the MEST reality be accepted as actual to the thetans, certain rules or possibilities are not actualized in the created MEST world;

(3) Non-actualized rules or postulates are not present to the thetans’ inner vision (though this is initially done by choice);

(4) Thetans have a tendency to “forget” that they originally postulated MEST;

(5) Thus, thetans tend to become more and more determined by MEST, first believing themselves capable of a kind of limited or bounded free will within MEST, then descending into the supreme delusion that they are animals trapped in somatic prisons with no free will, only MEST laws that are experienced as automatic commands. For these fallen thetans, to various degrees, submission to bodily pain and finally bodily death is believed to be the only vehicle for evolution [27].

Sci Fi entology.

Sci Fi entology.

At some point between the composition of the “Affirmations” (circa 1947-1948) and the publication of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (1950), Hubbard revised his dichotomy of “psychic willer” and “material willer” to “clear” versus “pre-clear.” Henceforth, pain is an urgent problem for everyone, not just some psychic-willing elite. Scientology entreated every man, woman and child to begin auditing therapy, that their minds be cleansed of encystments of forgotten MEST postulates called engrams. Pain is nothing more than forgotten postulation. In the early fifties Hubbard developed a further distinction between the clear and the OT, or “Operating Thetan.” An OT had succeeded in banishing not only all engrams from his or her mind; all “body thetans” that had clung to his or her body since the beginning of MEST were also dissipated.

However, it must be stressed that, despite this seemingly egalitarian doctrinal shift (all humans need auditing), Hubbard never really abandoned his original dichotomy between the spiritual human beings and the material human beings put forth in the “Affirmations.” In post-1951 Scientology, a person who stridently opposes Scientology and is thus untreatable is considered a Suppressive Person, or SP. The policy Hubbard named “Fair Game” applied to SP’s. “Fair Game” remains de facto policy to this day, despite its feigned retraction by Hubbard in a directive issued in the 1960s [28]. “Fair Game” stipulates that SP’s “May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed” [29].

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Thus, we see a continuation of Hubbard’s policy of violence toward outsiders (read: any who oppose Hubbard’s plans or interests) found in the “Affirmations,” where we read that “God and [Hubbard’s] Guardian and [Hubbard’s] own power bring destruction on those who would injure [him]” [30]. The main thrust of the “Affirmations” is Hubbard’s insistence that his life of chronic masturbation and serial adultery is not illicit (as May and Hub Hubbard would have him believe) and thus has no effect on his psychic powers, particularly his sexual ones. Hubbard goes on to explain that any opposition to his will is a crime that the force of his good pleasure can and will squelch with impunity, there being no possible contradiction between his love and his judgment.

So, did the “Affirmations” have the desired effect of curing Hubbard’s impotence and preserving his marriage with Sara Hubbard? We must answer in the negative, since the marriage was dissolved soon after the “Affirmations” was typed, and since Sara was at the same time kidnapped by Hubbard and forced to sign a document stating that Hubbard committed no wrong during their marriage. Ever after, when the taboo subject of Sara came up, L. Ron Hubbard denounced his second wife as the worst sort of person imaginable: a Communist spy.

“R6” AND THE “CHRIST GAME”: THE WORLD THAT ABUSED THE CHILD HUBBARD

“There’s what they call ‘The Christ Game.’ And that game has been played and played…honest to Pete, these card are just so thin. They’ve been laid down amongst the coffee cups…of the whole universe.”

—L. Ron Hubbard

A further clue to the psychological link between Hubbard’s childhood and his later teachings lay in his theology of “R6.” Starting in the fifties, Hubbard began to articulate a universal history that traced thetans’ past lives all the way back to the origins of life on Earth. Actually, he was not content to stop there, but “followed the time track” about “four quadrillion” years into the past [31]. This four quadrillion year’s ago genesis is called “Incident I” by Hubbard, who explains that this primordial happening “interrupted [thetans] from creating what they would have been creating. And took away what mock-ups they did have, and it stopped their cycle, and it put some thing there that was unwanted, so when they tried to create they created it. Because it fixed their attention by process…by protest” [32]. So here we have what I term the “trickster thetan” scenario: If the smooth running of MEST depends upon thetans’ mutual agreement about postulates, then what is to stop some mischievous imp of a thetan from introducing viral postulates into existing thetan reality games? Theoretically, no thetan (including the one named Ron Hubbard) can ever be completely secure in their world, since there is no airtight, foolproof safeguard against such a “trickster thetan” tossing a monkey wrench into MEST gears [32a]. Hubbardian cosmology’s weird mixture of immanent threat with galaxy-swallowing optimism accounts for at least some of Scientology’s Cold War appeal; after all, the average American eating a TV dinner while gaping at a mushroom cloud on their screens may have felt a need for a therapy such as Scientology auditing, which claimed to deal with such frisson-inducing uncertainties as atomic holocaust.

Tails from Space.

Tails from Space.

Hubbard devised “Incident II” to contextualize theologically the cosmic paranoia caused by the Incident I “trickster thetan.” Incident II occurred between 74 and 75 million years ago, when the Galactic Confederation’s “supreme ruler” Xenu was imprisoned on a distant planet as punishment for his attempt to kidnap billions of thetans from various of the 72 planets in the Confederation and imprison them on Earth. Xenu is confined beneath a mountain in a force field powered by an “eternal battery” for his treachery [33]. Hubbard is less interested in Xenu than he is in “R6″—a kind of film-strip of trickster postulates that Xenu implanted in all of the thetans that were brought to Earth during Incident II. Each and every human being that has ever walked this planet has—to some degree—been deluded by the false reality presented by R6. Hubbard:

The entirety of Roman Catholicism, the devil, …that is all part of R6. [In R6] Every man is…shown to have been crucified. So don’t think it’s an accident, they found out that this applied. Somebody, somewhere on this planet, back about 600 BC, found some pieces of R6. And I don’t know how they found it, either by watching madmen or something, but since that time they have used it and it became what is known as Christianity. Ahhh, the man on the Cross. There was no Christ, but the man on the Cross is shown as Everyman. And of course each person seeing a crucified man has an immediate feeling of sympathy for this man, so we get many PC’s who say that they are Christ. Now there’s two reasons for that, one is the Roman Empire was prone to crucify people, so a person can have been crucified. But in R6 he is shown as crucified [34].

Hubbard goes on to state that, in R6, a physician is imaged cutting off all of the Crucified Everyman’s flesh and blood, then dismembering the skeleton. This may be a swipe at the admittedly macabre tradition of “blood piety” in Western Christianity, which shifted the focus of religious imagery from earlier depictions of Christ’s and the saints’ serenity of mind and incorruption of flesh with a materialistic portrayal of blood, gore, and the emotional travail of the moment of death [35]. An aspect of R6 more germane to our purpose, however, is what could be termed its “evolutionary defeatism,” which programs humans to accept physical arrest, the thwarting of will, the passive receipt of pain, and the inevitability of death as prerequisites for personal security and civilizational flourishing. However, Hubbard is well-aware of the slave-master asymmetry at the base of this R6 Crucifixion image in that he presents war and violence as flowing out of R6’s seemingly passive viewers. R6 teaches its recipients also to take the active role of crucifier. This Janus face of R6, Hubbard feels, is behind the Roman Catholic Church’s various religious wars and forced conversions.

However, the aspect of R6 most relevant to Hubbard is its teachings about sexuality. In R6 “there is false start after false start…. What this is really designed to do is to make the individual cease and desist from creation and to knock out overpopulation. The target of it is the second dynamic. So it is full of second dynamic suppressions. For instance you find people who are totally obsessed with sex and children. Well that is taught in R6” [36]. And what is this “second dynamic”? Hubbard: “THE SECOND DYNAMIC—is the urge toward existence as a sexual activity. This dynamic actually has two divisions. Second Dynamic (a) is the sexual act itself. And the Second Dynamic (b) is the family unit, including the rearing of children. This can be called the Sex Dynamic” [37].

R6, then, confuses and otherwise gets in the way of sexual activity and of proper child-rearing. Hubbard’s three main psychological problems—to judge by the “Affirmations” and by our knowledge of his upbringing—were impotence, paranoia, and narcissism. R6 causes thetans to forget how to conclude creative acts (impotence); further, R6 causes thetans to forget how to establish give-and-take links with other thetans (thus one can send out but not take in: paranoia toward others, narcissism toward self). In a sense, this noxious implant behaves like the aforementioned “trickster thetan,” forestalling the completion of any creative (especially procreative) project.

 

CONCLUDING REMARKS

 

But does Hubbard’s childhood, in the final analysis, offer any clues to the Scientology founder’s later invention of R6? First, little Ron was known for finishing every task he set his mind to. For a child, he was curiously focused on tying up loose ends, on bringing matters to a close, and this seed seems to have bloomed into his later obsession with “cycles of action” that “start, change and stop” [38]. Second, as we mentioned above, the “Admissions” reveals that May Hubbard warned her son that masturbation causes bodily injury. We infer from this that either May or someone else caught the child Hubbard in the act, but how does one do this without listening at doors or looking through keyholes? It is thus possible that Hubbard interpreted his mother’s spying on him in this or some other manner as evidence of R6-style perversion. Third, Hubbard later characterized the R6 version of the “eighth dynamic,” or “God” as follows: “…God is watching you and everybody’s keeping his finger on you…. [It leaves one thinking] ‘I wish I had a little privacy'” [39]. Here we see that R6 bridges the gap between Ron’s childhood sexual difficulties (and possible abuse) and his later projection of this concern with arrested sexual generation onto the societal and even divine level (other people and even the man upstairs are all keyhole-peepers). As an ancillary point, recall that Hubbard in the “Admissions” interprets his first wife Polly’s frequent masturbation as a dirty trick that implanted sexual neuroses into him. Moreover, Hubbard says Polly’s pleasuring was tantamount to self-mutilation; we cannot fail to see a connection here between his self-contented spouse’s alleged butchery and the defeatist Crucified Everyman of R6, who, Hubbard might have scoffed, embodies St. Paul’s “when I am weak, then I am strong.” We conclude this essay with a quotation from Hubbard that reveals R6 as the theological expression of its creator’s paranoia and narcissism, pathologies that began in his earliest years and persisted throughout his adult life: “…[P]eople are taught [by R6] that any man who tries to save the world must be killed…. So I of course, shifted our valence over to a more optimum R6 valence. The whole population of the planet responds like a clock to R6 symbols” [40].

 

Notes

 

[1] Actually, the court case was only the indirect cause of the “Affirmations” becoming widely known. The document was not entered into the public record during the trial in question, but Gerry Anderson—who discovered it in the first place—recently published the text of the “Affirmations” on his website. See L. Ron Hubbard, “The Admissions of L. Ron Hubbard,” [ca. 1947-1948] accessed 14 October, 2015, http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/writings/ars/ars-2000-03-11.html.

[2] Hubbard, “Admissions.”

[3] Ibid., emphasis added.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed (New York: Lyle Stuart, 1990), 47.

[6] Ibid., 47-48; int. cit. from Hubbard, Mission Into Time.

[6a] Cited in Janet Reitman, Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), 9.

[7] Margery Wakefield, Understanding Scientology, 2010, accessed 18 October, 2015, http://www.religio.de/books/wakefield/us-01.html, chapter 1.

[7a] On the term “forgotten man” as the Mr. Average of the Depression and post-Depression eras, whose belief in social programs and progressivism was shaken but not shattered by low wages and general lack of opportunity, see Amity Shlaes, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 14ff.

[8] Atack, Piece of Blue Sky, 47. Atack goes on to relate the following about Hubbard’s elusive parent: “Harry Hubbard had served a four year stint in the Navy as an enlisted man until 1908. He re-enlisted when America entered World War I, when his son was six. Harry Hubbard eventually did become a Lieutenant Commander, but not until 1934” (idem).

[8a] Russell Miller, Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard (1987), online version accessed 24 June, 2015, http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Library/Shelf/miller/bfm.txt.gz, 41.

[9] Hubbard, “Admissions.”

[10] L. Ron Hubbard, letter to Polly Hubbard. Cited in Reitman, Inside Scientology, 9.

[11] L. Sprague de Camp, “El-Ron of the City of Brass,” accessed 11 October, 2015, http://www.xenu.net/archive/oca/elron.html [orig. appeared in Fantastic, August 1975].

[12] Cited in Reitman, Inside Scientology, 9.

[13] L. Ron Hubbard: “My father…decreed that I should study engineering and mathematics and so I found myself obediently studying” (Atack, Piece of Blue Sky, 59).

[14] Dorthe Refslund Christensen, “Inventing L. Ron Hubbard: On the Construction and Maintenance of the Hagiographic Mythology on Scientology’s Founder,” 227-259 in Controversial New Religions, edited by Jim Lewis and Jesper Aagaard Pedersen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 236; interior citation What Is Scientology?, p. 87.

[15] L. Ron Hubbard, “Search for Research,” www.lronhubbard.org, cited in Reitman, Inside Scientology, 10. Also note Barbara Snader’s recollection that Hubbard had only read a single book about psychology from the University of Chicago library before he drew his lifelong conclusions about the subject (Barbara “Kaye” Snader, “Interview with Russell Miller,” Los Angeles, 28 July, 1986, accessed 16 September, 2015, http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Library/Shelf/miller/interviews/barbkaye.htm). What Hubbard did like to read were pulp novels, though he may have paid them heed only as a kind of training in his own fiction writing. See Miller, Bare-Faced Messiah, 319.

[16] Miller, Bare-Faced Messiah, 168.

[17] Hubbard, “Admissions.”

[18] Ibid.

[19] Atack, Piece of Blue Sky, 48.

[20] On possible sources for “Flavia Julia” in western esoteric traditions in general and Crowleyan magic in particular, see Hugh B. Urban, “The Occult Roots of Scientology? L. Ron Hubbard, Aleister Crowley, and the Origins of a Controversial New Religion,” Nova Religio 15.3 (2012): 91-116.

[21] Miller, Bare-Faced Messiah, 172.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] L. Ron Hubbard: “…[A]n individual will occlude as many thoughts as he has had to leave alone or lose objects in life. Pain itself is a loss, being uniformly accompanied by the loss of cells of the body. Thus the loss of objects or organisms by the individual can be misconstrued as being painful” (Self Analysis: A Practical Dianetics Workbook of Techniques to Achieve a Greater Awareness of Self [Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, 2002], 169).

On MEST: “Pure MEST may be said to be virgin chaos, entirely innocent of plan” (L. Ron Hubbard, Science of Survival: Prediction of Human Behavior [Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, 2007 (1951)], 48). Here Hubbard’s concept of pure “matter, energy, space, time” seems close to the Greek philosophical concept of apeiron, which I have elsewhere linked to western esoteric traditions. Cf. James L. Kelley, “Prehistory of the Dialectic of Opposition: A Farrellian Look At Ancient Hellenic Thought, Part One: Anaximander,” romeosyne.wordpress.com, accessed 25 October, 2015, https://romeosyne.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/prehistory-of-the-dialectic-of-oppositions-a-farrellian-look-at-ancient-hellenic-thought-part-one-anaximander-by-james-l-kelley/.

[25] Hubbard never used the term, which is from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716): “Further, there is no way of explaining how a Monad can be altered in quality or internally changed by any other created thing; since it is impossible to change the place of anything in it or to conceive in it any internal motion which could be produced, directed, increased or diminished therein, although all this is possible in the case of compounds, in which there are changes among the parts. The Monads have no windows, through which anything could come in or go out. Accidents cannot separate themselves from substances nor go about outside of them, as the ‘sensible species’ of the Scholastics used to do. Thus neither substance nor accident can come into a Monad from outside” (Monadology 7; trans. Robert Latta, Leibniz: Monadology and Other Writings [Oxford: Clarendon, 1898], 219, emphasis added by J.L.K.).

[26] On the notion of “no-game condition,” see L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought (Los Angeles: Bridge, 1990), 127.

[27] On the thetan cosmology, see the comments of Hugh Alan Douglas Spencer, The Transcendental Engineers: The Fictional Origins of a Modern Religion (M.A. thesis, McMaster University, 1981), 127-128.

[28] On SP’s: “Hubbard stated, ‘A SUPPRESSIVE PERSON or / GROUP is one that actively seeks to suppress or damage Scientology or a Scientologist by Suppressive Acts’. Such acts include testifying in a court of law against Scientology, bringing forth a civil suit against Scientology or any of its members, and the resignation of a member from Scientology courses and sessions. Scientology regards all Suppressive Persons (SPs) as enemies. Because Scientology’s upper management monitors and condemns the actions of many people external to the group, Scientology fosters a suspicion of all people who are not members of its organization. Furthermore, Scientology convinces its members to believe that all forms of media about Scientology that Scientology does not produce or advocate are ‘entheta'” (Susan Raine, “Surveillance in New Religious Movements: Scientology as a Case Study,” Religious Studies and Theology 28.1 (2009): 63-94; interior citations L. Ron Hubbard, Introduction to Scientology Ethics, 3rd edition [Los Angeles: American St. Hill Organization, 1970], 48, 49. Case emphasis in original).

[29] L. Ron Hubbard, “Penalties for Lower Conditions,” Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 18 October, cited in Raine, “Surveillance,” 80-81.

[30] Hubbard, “Affirmations.”

[31] L. Ron Hubbard, “Assists: Class VIII Lecture #10 (3 October, 1968),” available online as the audio file “The real truth about Xenu and ‘touch assists’ as told by L. Ron Hubbard,” YouTube, accessed 15 October, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hB7KJYIBwc&list=PLnI0saP2p2eZtk6Ed4iHVZmk2HTe1nq8g&index=42.

[32] Ibid.

[32a] In his Philadelphia Doctorate Course, Hubbard names the God of conventional religion as just such a spiritual trickster: “…[W]hat passed for God for the MEST universe is not the goddest God there is by an awful long ways … whoever made that MEST universe … was a usurper of one’s own universe. And this has been sold to the individual and it has sold the individual out of his ability to make a universe” (L. Ron Hubbard, The Philadelphia Doctorate Course [Los Angeles: Golden Era Publications, 2001], 8; cited in Urban, “Occult Roots,” 108).

[33] Hubbard, “Assists: Class VIII Lecture #10 (3 October, 1968),” partial transcript of lecture, accessed 25 October, 2015, http://philvaz.com/apologetics/xenu.htm.

[34] Hubbard, “Assists: Class VIII Lecture #10 (3 October, 1968),” available online as the audio file “L. Ron Hubbard’s thoughts on Christianity,” YouTube, accessed 17 October, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk03n7rMJ1o.

[35] On Medieval blood piety see list of works cited in James L. Kelley, “The Zombie Mass: The First Crusade and the Origins of Zombie Hysteria,” romeosyne.wordpress.com, accessed 29 July, 2015, https://romeosyne.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/james-l-kelley-the-zombie-mass-the-first-crusade-and-teh-origins-of-zombie-hysteria/.

[36] L. Ron Hubbard, “Assists: Class VIII Lecture #10 (3 October, 1968),” available online as the audio file “The real truth about Xenu and ‘touch assists’ as told by L. Ron Hubbard,” YouTube, accessed 15 October, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hB7KJYIBwc&list=PLnI0saP2p2eZtk6Ed4iHVZmk2HTe1nq8g&index=42.

[37] L. Ron Hubbard, “Eight Dynamics,” accessed 25 October, 2015, http://www.freedommag.org/issue/201410-created-equal/what-is-scientology/the-eight-dynamics.html.

[38] On the Hubbardian term “cycle of action” as “start, change, stop,” see L. Ron Hubbard, The Problems of Work: How To Solve Them and Succeed (Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, 1983), 45-48. Interestingly, Hubbard uses the following scenario—obviously referring to May Hubbard’s quasi-patriarchal bossiness and nosiness—to illustrate “bad control” that occludes a proper cycle: “Let us say…that somebody told you to go to the desk, but before you arrived a the desk he told you to go to a chair, but before you arrived a the chair told you to go to the door and then claimed you were wrong in not have done to the desk. (-) Now, to give you some idea of how this could influence one’s life—which would you rather have give you a series of orders such as above, to move around a room: your father or your mother? It is certain that you had the most trouble with the parent you would not have chosen to have given you those orders” (idem, 48).

[39] L. Ron Hubbard, “Therapy Section of Technique 80: Part I, Route to Infinity, 21 May 1952 (1:42),” accessed 25 October, 2015, http://www.xenu.net/archive/multimedia.html.

[40] Hubbard, “Assists: Class VIII Lecture #10 (3 October, 1968),” available online as the audio file “L. Ron Hubbard’s thoughts on Christianity,” YouTube, accessed 17 October, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk03n7rMJ1o.

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