Dianetics did not come quietly into the world. Even before publication of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, excitement had been created on a relatively small scale-small, in hindsight of what was to come later. It had begun with a mimeographed copy of his earlier work Dianetics: The Original Thesis, which was passed hand to hand around the country, and soon followed by an article in the Explorers Club Journal.
Then, on May 9, 1950 Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health reached the bookstores. Almost immediately, a groundswell of public enthusiasm vaulted the book onto national bestseller lists. Stores simply could not keep copies of Dianetics in stock as hundreds of thousands across the nation formed themselves into auditing groups, and Mr. Hubbard’s discoveries even began to take root on distant shores. To meet the astonishing response from all sectors of society-the fashionable, the academic and, most importantly, the man on the street-the publisher instantly ordered further printings of Dianetics. Yet still supply could barely keep pace with demand. By the end of six weeks, Dianetics was not merely a phenomena; it was the beginning of the global movement that continues to grow today.
There were, however, a scant few among society’s ranks who were not quite so enthusiastic, i.e., certain key members of the American medical/psychiatric establishment. That their numbers were pitifully small-literally measured in the dozens-did not necessarily concern them. They were well entrenched and well connected; and when they decided that Dianetics must be stopped to preserve their kingdom, they were fully prepared to make use of every one of those connections.
Thus it was that two diametrically opposed forces were unleashed on May 9, 1950. On the one hand stood the hundred thousand and more everyday men and women who eagerly read and applied Dianetics with extraordinary success. On the other stood a small clique of medical and psychiatric practitioners, who knew nothing of the human mind, and had not even read Dianetics. Nonetheless, they were certain that a handbook, which made self-improvement possible to anyone, would constitute a severe financial loss to the healthcare establishment. After all, they reasoned, how can psychiatrists expect to command large salaries if the man on the street knew more about the mind than they did? Seen within this context then, May 9, 1950 not only saw the birth of Dianetics, but also psychiatry’s first shot that began a war.
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