OT 1948: The Basic Individual

Reference: DIANETICS: The Original Thesis

This paper presents Chapter 5 from the book DIANETICS: THE ORIGINAL THESIS by L. RON HUBBARD. The contents are from the original publication of this book by The Hubbard Dianetic Foundation, Inc. (1948).

The paragraphs of the original material (in black) are accompanied by brief comments (in color) based on the present understanding.  Feedback on these comments is appreciated.

The heading below is linked to the original materials.


The Basic Individual

For the purposes of this work the terms basic individual and Clear are nearly synonymous since they denote the unaberrated self in complete integration and in a state of highest possible rationality; a Clear is one who has become the basic individual through auditing.

The precise personality of the basic individual is of interest to the auditor. His complete characteristic is established by: 1. The strength of his basic DYNAMIC; 2. The relative strengths of his dynamics; 3. The sensitivity, which is to say the intelligence, of his analyzer; 4. The coordination of his motor controls; 5. His physiological and glandular condition; 6. His environment and education.

The experiences of each individual also create an individual composite and so may additionally designate individuality. There are as many distinct individuals on earth as there are men, women and children. That we can establish a common denominator of drive and basic function does not, cannot, and will not, alter the fact that individuals are amazingly varied one from the next.  

The basic individual is defined by a flawless mental matrix, and his “individuality” is defined by the contents of that matrix.

It will be found by experience and exhaustive research, as it has been clinically established, that the basic individual is invariably responsive in all the dynamics and is essentially “good.” There are varying degrees of courage but in the basic individual there is no pusillanimity. The virtues of the basic individual are innumerable. His intentional vices and destructive dramatizations are non-existent. He is in close alignment with that ideal which mankind recognizes as an ideal. This is a necessary part of an auditor’s working knowledge, since deviations from it denote the existence of aberration, and such departures are unnatural and enforced and are no part of the self-determinism of the individual.

The basic individual is essentially “good”.

Man is not a reactive animal. He is capable of self-determinism. He has will power. He ordinarily has high analytical ability. He is rational and he is happy and integrated only when he is his own basic personality.

The most desirable state in an individual is complete self-determinism. Such self-determinism may be altered and shaped to some degree by education and environment, but so long as the individual is not aberrated, he is in possession of self-determinism. So long as he is self-determined in his actions he adjusts himself successfully to the degree that his environment will permit such an adjustment. He will be more forceful, effective and happier in that environment than when aberrated.

The basic individual is completely self-determined.

That the basic personality is “good” does not mean that he cannot be a terribly effective enemy of those things rationally recognizable as destructive to himself and to his.

The basic individual is not a buried unknown or a different person, but an intensity of all that is best and most able in the person. The basic individual equals the same person minus his pain and dramatizations.

The drive strength of the person does not derive from his aberrations. The aberrations lessen the drive strength. Artistry, personal force, personality, all are residual in the basic personality. This is derived from clinical research and experimentation. The only reason an aberree occasionally holds hard to his aberrations is due to the fact that his engrams have a content which forbids their removal.

The flaws in the mental matrix lead to reactive behavior only. No positive characteristics derive from that behavior.

The reactive mind consists of a collection of experiences received during an unanalytical moment which contain pain and actual or conceived antagonism to the survival of the individual. An engram is a perceptic entity which can be precisely defined. The aggregate of engrams compose the reactive mind.

The reactive mind refers to the flaws in the mental matrix, collectively.
Pain is the common denominator of the reactive mind. Pain forms the engramic character of the reactive mind that corrupts the logic circuits of the mental matrix.

A new sub-field entitled “Perceptics” has been originated here to define adequately engramic data. Perceptics contains as one of its facets the field of semantics. Precisely as the field of semantics is organized so is organized in perceptics each sensory perception.

“Perceptics” may be another way to refer to the data elements of the mental matrix.

The audio-syllabic communication system of man has its counterpart in various languages observable in lower animals. Words are sounds in syllabic form delivered with a definite timbre, pitch, and volume or sight recognition in each case. Words are a highly specialized form of audio-perceptics. The quality of the sound in uttering the word is nearly as important as the word itself. The written word belongs in part to visio-perceptics. Having but lately acquired his extensive vocabulary, the mind of man is least adjusted to words and their sense. The mind is better able to differentiate amongst qualities of utterance than amongst the meanings of words themselves.

Words are a highly specialized form of audio-perceptics.

Included in perceptics in the same fashion and on the same axioms as semantics are the other sensory perceptions—organic sensation, the tactile sense, the olfactory sense and the senses involved with sight and hearing. Each has its own grouping. And each carries its class of messages with highly complex meanings. Each one of these divisions of the senses is plotted in time according to the earliest or most forceful significances. Each class of messages is so filed as to lead the individual toward pleasure and away from pain. The classifications and study of this varied sensory file has been designated “Perceptics.”

Straightening out of the perceptics in the mental matrix is the essential part of clearing.

Engrams are received into the mind forming a reactive area during moments of lowered analytical awareness of the individual, and they contain physical pain and antagonism to survival. The engram is a packaged perceptic not available to the analytical mind but intimately connected to the physio-animal mind. Under normal conditions it reacts as a dramatization of itself when approximated by the organism’s perceptions of its content in the immediate environment during periods of weariness, illness, or hypnotic moments in the life of the individual.

When the circuit containing engramic data is activated, the contents of that engram are dramatized without much awareness.

When injury or illness supplants the analytical mind producing what is commonly known as “unconsciousness” and when physical pain and antagonism to the survival of the organism are present, an engram is received by the individual. Subsequently, during moments when the potential of the analytical mind is reduced by weariness, illness or similar circumstances, one or more of the perceptics contained in the engram may be observed by the individual in his environment, and without his perceiving that he has observed it (or the identity of it) the individual dramatizes the moment of receipt of the engram.

Any experience, such as, injury, illness, weariness, etc., that reduces awareness shall have relationship with the engramic nodes in the matrix.

An engram impedes one or more dynamics of the basic individual. Being antagonistic to his survival it can be considered analogically to consist of a reverse charge.

As an example, the analytical mind can be said to possess multiple scanners in layers. Ordinary or pleasurable memory can be considered to have, as an analogy only, a positive charge. The multiple scanners are able to sweep these areas and make available memory data to the analytical mind so that it can arrive by various mathematical means at a solution for its various problems.

The engram, as a specific memory package, can be considered to have a reverse charge which cannot be reached by the scanner of the analytical mind but which is directly connected to the motor controls and other physical functions and which can exert, at a depth not nearly as basic as the basic drive but nevertheless low, a hidden influence upon the analytical mind through another circuit. The analytical mind in awareness of now, nevertheless, is unable to discover, without assistance from an auditor, the existence of such an impediment since it was received during a moment of extremely low potential on the part of the analytical mind.

As a further analogy, and for demonstration only, an engram can be considered to be a bundle of perceptions of a precise nature. An engram is an entire dramatic sequence, implanted during unconsciousness, which possesses specific perceptic keys, any one of which, when unanalytically perceived by the individual in his environment, may in greater or lesser degrees set the engram into reaction.

An engramic node is activated when perceptics similar to its content appear in the environment.

Denied to the analytical mind at its reception, it is denied to the analytical mind in its exact character during its dramatization. Its content is literal and, on the physio-animal level, demands action. Man’s analytical ability and his vocabulary are imposed above both the physio-animal mind and the reactive mind, both on the evolutionary time track and in awareness. The charge contained in the engram is inexhaustible and remains reactive in full force whenever keyed into the circuit by restimulators.

An engramic node creates a short circuit in the mental matrix. Since the contents of this node are not assimilated into the mental matrix none of it reaches the awareness level.

Restimulators are those approximations in the environment of an individual of the content of an engram. Restimulators can exist in any of the various senses. The orderly filing of perceptics in the memory does not, apparently, include the content of engrams, these being filed separately under an “immediate danger” heading.

There are three kinds of thought: the first is engramic, or literal. It demands immediate action without examination by the analytical mind. A hand being withdrawn from a hot stove when burned is being governed by the reactive principle, but as the ensuing instant of unconsciousness caused by the shock is ordinarily slight, no real engram can be said to have formed.

The second type of thought is justified thought. Engramic thought is literal, without reason, irrational. Justified thought is the attempt of the analytical mind to explain the reactive, engramic reactions of the organism in the ordinary course of living. Every engram may cause some form of aberrated conduct on the part of the individual. Justified thought is the effort of the conscious mind to explain away that aberration without admitting, as it cannot do normally, that it has failed the organism.

Engramic behavior is not understandable even to the individual, so it get justified.

The third and optimum type of thought is rational thought. This is the thought used by a “Clear.”

An engram is an apparent surcharge in the mental circuit with certain definite finite content. That charge is not reached or examined by the analytical mind but that charge is capable of acting as an independent command.

When the basic drive of the individual is boosted in potential by an observed necessity, the residual charge in an engram is insufficient to contest, at times, the raised purpose. The analytical mind can then be seen to function in entire command of the organism without serious modification by engramic command.

At other times, hostility in the environment and confusion of the analytical mind combine to reduce the dynamic potential to such a degree that the engramic command, in comparison to the basic drive, can be seen to be extremely powerful. It is at such times, in the presence of even faint restimulators, that the individual most demonstrates his aberrations.

EXAMPLE: Engram received at the age of three and one-half years. Adult preclear. As child in dental chair, against his will, under antagonistic conditions, given nitrous oxide and tricked by dentist. During painful portion of treatment the dentist says, “He is asleep. He can’t hear, feel or see anything. Stay there.”

The perceptics which can be restimulated in this are the quality, pitch and volume of the dentist’s voice; the sound of the dentist’s drill; the slap of the cable running the drill; street noises of a specific kind; the tactile of the mouth being forcibly held open; the smell of the mask; the sound of running water; the smell of nitrous oxide; and in short, several of each perceptic class, excluding only sight.

The effect of this experience, being a part of an engramic chain which contained two earlier experiences, was in some small degree to trance the individual and maintain some portion of him in a regressed state.

This engram is too brief and extraordinarily simple but it will serve as an example to the auditor. The timeless quality of the suggestions, the conceived antagonism, precursors on the engramic chain awakened and re-enforced, all these things confused the time sense of the individual and were otherwise reactive in later life.

For every engram there is a somatic as part of that engram. No aberration exists without its somatics unless it is a racial-educational aberration, in which instance it is compatible with its environment and so is not considered irrational.

Every aberration contains its exact command in some engram.

The numbers of engrams per individual are relatively few. The aberrated condition of the individual does not depend on the number of engrams but the severity of individual engrams.

The numbers of engrams per individual are relatively few.

An engram is severe in the exact ratio that it is conceived by the organism to have been a moment of threat to survival. The character of the threat and the perceptic content produce the aberration. A number of engrams with similar perceptics in an individual produce a complex aberration pattern which nevertheless has for its parts individual engrams.

An aberration is the manifestation of an engram and is serious only when it influences the competence of the individual in his environment.

Engrams are of two types depending upon the duration of restimulation. There are “floaters” and “chronics.” A floater has not been restimulated in the individual during the lifetime succeeding it. A chronic is an engram which has been more or less continuously restimulated so that it has become an apparent portion of the individual. A chronic begins to gather “locks.” A floater has not accumulated locks since it has never been restimulated.

A lock can be conceived to be joined to an engram in such a way that it can be reached by the multiple scanners of the analytical mind which cannot reach the engram. A lock is a painful mental experience. It is or is not regarded by the analytical mind as a source of difficulty or aberration. It is a period of mental anguish and is wholly dependent upon an engram for its pain value. When an engram is activated into a chronic, it accumulates numerous locks along the time track of the individual. The engram itself is not immediately locatable, except somatically, along the time track of the individual. Locks are of some diagnostic value but, as they exist as experiences more or less recallable by the analytical mind, they can be depended upon to vanish upon the removal of the engram from the reactive mind.

To locate the engramic node, one usually follows the somatic associated with it.

The running of a lock as a lock has some value but the exhaustion of locks from an aberrated individual is long and arduous and is seldom productive of any lasting result. Upon the location and exhaustion of the engram from the reactive mind, all of its locks vanish. An engram may exist unactivated as a floater for any number of years or for the entire duration of an individual’s life. At any future moment after the receipt of an engram, whether that time period consists of days or decades, the floater may reactivate at which time it becomes part of the command obeyed by the analytical mind in its efforts to rationalize. The removal of the individual from his restimulators, which is to say, the environment in which the engram was reactive, is in itself a form of therapy, since the engram may then return to its status as a floater.

Hubbard’s locks are simply extensions of the engramic node. You cannot get rid of the locks without discharging the engramic node.

EXAMPLE: Engram—At birth occurs the phrase, “No good,” uttered during a moment of headache and gasping on the part of a child.

Lock: At the age of seven while the child was ill with a minor malady, the mother in a fit of rage said that he was “no good.”

The removal of the engram also removes, ordinarily without further attention, the lock.

Note: Birth remained inactive in the above case as a floater until the moment of reduced analytical power at the age of seven when a birth phrase was repeated. It is worth remarking that the entire content of the birth engram is given simultaneously both to the child and to the mother, with only the difference of somatics. It is further worthy of note that the mother quite often perceives in the child a restimulator and uses against it the phrases which were said when the child gave the mother the greatest pain, namely, birth. The child is then victimized into various psychosomatic ills by the repetition of its birth engram restimulators, which may develop even more seriously into actual disease.

The brain controls the multiple and complex functions of the growth and condition of the organism. Containing organic sensation as one of its perceptics, the engram then, when reactivated, causes a somatic and additionally may deny body fluids, i.e. hormones and blood, to some portion of the anatomy, occasioning psychosomatic ills. The denial of fluid or adequate blood supply may result in a potentially infective area. The psychosomatic reduces the resistance of some portion of the body to actual disease.

Somatic and other sensory errors find their basis in unconscious antagonistic moments. A somatic may be adjusted by an address to a lock but the permanency of adjustment obtains only until such time as the engram is again reactivated, causing another lock.

All aberrations are occasioned by engrams.

An engram is severely painful or severely threatening to the survival of the organism and is an engram only if it cannot be reached by the awake analytical mind.

Hubbard says, “All aberrations are occasioned by engrams.” But the removal of aberrations mean not only the discharge of the painful incident that created the engramic node, but also the removal of all the distortions caused by the engramic node in the surrounding mental matrix.

A simple approximation of the action of an engram can be accomplished by an experiment in hypnotism whereby a positive suggestion which contains a posthypnotic signal is delivered to an amnesia-tranced person. The subject, having been commanded to forget the suggestion when awake, will then perform the act. This suggestion is then actually a light portion of the reactive mind. It is literally interpreted, unquestionably followed, since it is received during a period of unawareness of the analytical mind or some portion of it. The restimulator, which may be the act of the operator adjusting his tie, causes the subject to commit some act. The subject will then try to explain why he is doing what he is doing, no matter how illogical that action may be. The post-hypnotic suggestion is then recalled to the subject’s mind and he remembers it. The compulsion vanishes (unless it is laid upon an actual engram).

The obedience of the subject to the command has, as its source, engramic thought. The explanation by the subject for his own action is the analytical mind observing the organism, which it supposes is in its sole charge, and justifying itself. The release of the post-hypnotic suggestion into the analytical mind brings about rational thought.

The aberration is the manifestation of an engramic thought that has no proper logic underlying it. Therefore, one tries to justify it by long-winded explanations.

Engrams can be considered to be painfully inflicted, often timeless, post-hypnotic suggestions delivered antagonistically to the “unconscious” subject. The posthypnotic suggestion given the subject in the above example would not have any permanent effect on the subject even if it were not removed by the operator, because there was presumed to be no antagonism involved (unless, of course, it rested on a former engram).

The physio-animal mind of an organism never ceases recording on some level. The exact moment when recording begins in an organism has not at this date been accurately determined. It has been found to be very early, probably earlier than four months after conception and five months before birth. In the presence of pain, any moment prior to the age of two years may be considered to be unanalytical. Any painful experience received by the foetus contains its full perceptic package, including darkness.

Once an auditor has worked a prenatal engram and has seen its influence upon the engramic chain and the awake life of the adult, no question will remain in his mind concerning the actuality of the experience. That the foetus does record is attributable to a phenomenon of the extension of perceptions during moments of pain and the absence of the analytical mind.

Engramic node can be formed by a painful birth, or even earlier, during fetal stage, when there is some injury.

Laboratory experiment demonstrates that under hypnosis an individual’s sensory perception may be artificially extended.

The existence of pain in any large degree is sufficient to extend the hearing of the foetus so that it records, during the existence of pain and the presence of exterior sound, the entire and complete record of the experience. As a chronic engram is but precariously fixed on the mind, the syllables or voice timbres contained in the prenatal will reactivate the somatic and the emotional engramic content whenever the approximations of that engram appear in the child’s (or the adult’s) vicinity.

The understanding of language is not necessary to reactivate an engram since the recording of the brain is so precise that the utterance of the identical words in similar tones during later prenatal periods or during birth, or immediately after birth, can and may occasion the original prenatal or any of the prenatals to become reactive, producing locks, injuring the health of the infant or, for that matter, of the foetus.

The perceptics of the foetus are extended only during moments of pain. But a chain of prenatal engrams can occasion a condition wherein the hearing of the foetus is chronically extended, forming numerous locks before birth. These locks will vanish when the actual engrams are discovered and exhausted from the psyched.

A person follows an engramic thought literally as if it is a post-hypnotic suggestion. Such post-hypnotic suggestions can even affect one’s sensory perceptions.

Any painful unanalytical moment containing antagonism is not only a matter of record but a source of potential action in the human organism at any period during its lifetime, reserving, of course, the question of when the foetus first begins to record.

Birth is ordinarily a severely painful unconscious experience. It is ordinarily an engram of some magnitude. Anyone who has been born then possesses at least one engram. Any period of absence of analytical power during receipt of physical pain has some engramic potentiality.

Moments when the analytical power is present in some quantity, when physical pain is absent and only antagonism to the organism is present do not form engrams and are not responsible for the aberration of the individual.

Any confusion, doubt, or inconsistency in thinking observed by the individual must be followed up and resolved.

Sociological maladjustments; parental punishments of a minor sort, even when they include pain; libidos; childhood struggles and jealousies are not capable of aberrating the individual. These can influence the personality and environmental adjustment of the individual but so long as he is not pathologically incompetent, he can and will resolve these problems and remain without aberration.

The human mind is an enormously powerful organism and its analytical ability is great. It is not overlaid above naturally unsocial or evil desires, but is founded upon powerful and constructive basics which only powerful, painful and antagonistic experiences can impede. Engrams will be found to have been conceived by the individual as intensely antagonistic to the survival of the organism.

The discovery of the basic engram is the first problem of the auditor. It normally results in an engramic chain. The content of that chain will be found to be physically severe.

One simply pulls the string on somatic, confusion, concern, etc., and follows the trail. One resolves whatever possible while following the trail until everything is resolved with the discovery and eventual discharge of the engramic node.

An engram is physically painful, is conceived by the organism as an antagonistic threat to its survival, and is received during the absence of the analytical power of the mind. These factors may vary within the engram so that an engram may be of minimal pain, maximal antagonism and minimal absence of the analytical power.


The body is to some degree reliving the experience of the engram whenever the experience is restimulated. A chronic psychosomatic, such as a painful arm, indicates the chronic, continuous coexistence with NOW of the moment the arm was broken or hurt. Several engrams reactivated into a chronic state bring several moments of unconsciousness, pain, and antagonism into a coexistence with NOW. The engram is a bundle of perceptics which include, as the primary manifestation, organic sensation. The organic sensation is enforced on the members of the body to a greater or lesser degree whenever, and as long as, the engram is restimulated. There is only one psychosomatic command which is common to all engrams. Any engram contains this as part of the command it will enforce upon the body. As a stomach may be made to ache chronically (ulcers), to feel broken, the engram also enforces a command upon the organ of the analytical mind. That command is common to every engram. Engrams are valid only when they are received during a momentary dispersal or shocked, null condition of the analytical mind. Every engram contains and enforces the command on the analytical mind that it has been dispersed and is not operating. This is common to every engram. This is reduction of the intellect by engrams totally aside from specific engramic content. It explains at once insanity and also the remarkable mental facility of a cleared or released individual.

Engram short-circuits the rational operations of the mental matrix and replaces them by the dramatization of its contents.


KEY WORDS: Clear, Self-determinism, Engram, Perceptic, Dramatization, Restimulation, Charge, Justification.

The mind of the basic individual functions normally as described under the final comments to the chapter, An Analogy of the Mind. When a person’s mind is cleared of all flaws he becomes the basic individual.

The basic individual is characterized by a flawless mental matrix. His “individuality” is defined by the contents of that matrix. The finer are the data elements in his mental matrix, the more discriminative and intelligent he is. The easier he can access and freely associate the data from mental matrix, the greater is his drive. The basic individual is essentially “good” as his estimation of effort is appropriate for the situation. He is self-determined in that he is in control of his attention.

The drive and intelligence of an individual does not derive from his aberrations. The flaws in the mental matrix lead to irrational behavior only. Hubbard refers to such flaws, collectively, as the “reactive mind”. This is a misnomer because a reaction is not necessarily irrational. Technically, irrationality would consist of a breakdown in consistency and logic among data.

Extreme random motion is felt as pain. Random motion has neither consistency nor logic. This is the makeup of the physically painful experience. When such an experience enters the mind it cannot be broken down into fine data elements and assimilated into the mental matrix. The core of this experience appears as a “shock” to the mental matrix, which shuts its awareness down.

All the circuits associated with this “shock” then form an engramic node that contains all the data of the painful experience. This data is not available to the awareness of mental matrix because it is not assimilated with it. When computations are activated through this engramic node their effect appears as a literal dramatization of the recording. The engramic node enforces the logic of that one-time painful event to all computation passing through it. This corrupts the normal logic of all those mental circuits interrupted by the painful experience.

The engramic node becomes part of mental matrix, but the mental matrix is not aware of it. The illogic of the engramic node radiates out corrupting the logic of all other circuits downstream from it. The mental matrix is unable to figure out the source of this illogic and correct it, so it tries to justify it. Thus, a painful experience may corrupt the logic of a significant portion of the mind by lodging itself as an engramic node.

To locate the engramic node one may follow the initial “shock” of the painful experience and the somatic connected with it. Any consistency associated with that experience when followed may help diffuse the engramic node.

It is possible to handle engramic nodes with expert mindfulness meditation.


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