OT 1948: Exhaustion of Engrams

Reference: DIANETICS: The Original Thesis

This paper presents Chapter 13 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.


Exhaustion of Engrams

The technique of exhausting an engram is not complicated but it must be adhered to. An engram is an unconscious moment containing physical pain and conceived or actual antagonism to the organism. Therefore, that engram before it is discovered will exhibit antagonism toward the auditor trying to discover it. When it is first discovered, it may be found to be lacking in its essential data. There are many techniques by which this data can be developed. In a prenatal engram the analytical mind apparently must redevelop the situation. Many returns through the incident are therefore necessary.

The Dianetic method is: force your way to the engram by “clever guesswork” and then eliminate it by recounting it repeatedly. The logic is: once you eliminate the engram the cleaning up of aberrated circuits around the engram is easy and swift. In reality, this is not possible in most cases because it violates the gradient.

The proper gradient is achieved naturally through mindfulness auditing.

When an engram will not exhaust, the first thing the auditor should suspect is an earlier engram. It is actually possible for a later one to contain essential information which will not permit the information to rise. In the course of auditing, when an engram is restimulated by the auditor but will not rise above apathy and does not seem to contain all the necessary data, the auditor must look for an earlier engram, and it almost inevitably will be found to exist. This precursor is then developed as the basic engram. If it follows the same behavior pattern of not lifting or becoming complete, another previous to it must be discovered. If at last the auditor is entirely certain that there is no engram ahead of the one being run, some possible locking mechanism later on may be found and exhausted, at which time the basic may show itself. Continual application of energy to the basic will at length bring it into full view and continual recounting of it will gradually develop it, raise its tone and lift it into tone four.

There are no neat chains in the mind as assumed above. The data is networked like in a matrix.

The principle of recounting is very simple. The preclear is merely told to go back to the beginning and to tell it all over again. He does this many times. As he does it the engram should lift in tone on each recounting. It may lose some of its data and gain other. If the preclear is recounting in the same words time after time, it is certain that he is playing a memory record of what he has told you before. He must then be sent immediately back to the actual engram and the somatics of it restimulated. He will then be found to somewhat vary his story. He must be returned to the consciousness of somatics continually until these are fully developed, begin to lighten and are then gone. Tone four will appear shortly afterwards. If the preclear is bored with the incident and refuses to go on with it, there is either an earlier engram or there is other data in the engram which has not been located.

The method of “returning” is somewhat hypnotic and not optimum. Recounting amounts to associating data in a linear fashion.

The auditor will discover that occasionally an engram when lifted into a three, or even erased, without reaching laughter, will sag. This is a certain sign of an earlier basic on that chain. Any kind of sag from a tone four is impossible if tone four has truly been reached. 

Tone four will not be reached if there are earlier basics. The engram may vanish and be erased, but there will be no cheerfulness or laughter about it at the end if it is not the basic.

Full erasure takes place only when the whole engramic node is assimilated in the mental matrix. This happens only when the engramic node is approached on the natural gradient of the mind.

Once the basic has been reached and brought into tone four, it will disappear. The next engram on the chain will be located and rather easily brought into tone four. If one is accidentally skipped, the third in line will be found to hold or sag. The intermediate must then be located and brought into a tone four. In such a way the chain will gradually come up into a complete tone four. At this time the locks, the merely mentally painful incidents in the person’s life, will begin to release automatically. These will erase or lift without any attention from the auditor. While these are releasing, the auditor must concern himself with secondary engrams. These would be engrams on their own if they had not had forerunners. They therefore do not relieve after the removal of the basic but must be located as themselves. These in turn will start a chain of releasing locks which again need no attention. There may be entirely distinct engramic chains in the reactive mind which are not appended in any way to the original basic.

Most complications are generated by the dianetic procedure itself.

So long as a preclear retains any part of a reactive mind, he will be interested in himself (in the condition of his mind) and be introverted. Therefore, so long as he is interested in his own reactive mind, he is impeded in his dynamic pursuit of survival. A guarantee of a tone four is the patient’s interest in positive action along his dynamics, and his application of himself to the world around him. Introversion is not natural nor is it necessary to the creation of anything. It is a manifestation of the analytical mind trying to solve problems on improper data, and observing the organism being engaged in activities which are not conducive to survival along the dynamics. When a Clear has been reached, the basic personality and self-determinism of the individual will have asserted itself. No chronic somatics in the present will remain (excepting those which can be accounted for by actual disease, injury or malconstruction of the brain).

Introversion lessens as the mind assimilates aberrated nodes through free association. The mind knows how to handle itself best.

Though more germane to Child Dianetics, it is of help to the auditor to know that a child can be considered to have formed his general basic purpose in life somewhere around the age of two. This purpose is fairly reliable, as at that time his engrams have probably not gained much force over him since his responsibilities are slight. He will have tried to hold his main purpose throughout his life but it will undoubtedly have been warped both by his reactive mind’s experience content and by his environment. The time when the purpose is formed varies and may indeed never have been manifested, as in the case of amentia. As the preclear is normally interested in this purpose and its rehabilitation, he will often take a more intense interest in auditing if there is an attempt made to discover it. This purpose is quite valid and the preclear can be expected to rehabilitate his life along its dictates unless he is too oppressed by his environment. (It can be remarked that a Release or Clear will ordinarily order or change his environment.)

The basic purpose arises from the fully assimilated mental matrix. It manifests as the mind increasingly assimilates aberrated nodes through free association.

Vocational therapies have as their source the tenet of the rehabilitation of the general purpose of an individual or the establishment of a false purpose in order to allay the activity of his reactive mind. It has little bearing on Dianetics, but an auditor, for the term of auditing may engage his preclear along the purpose line of becoming a Clear. This is not necessary and is indeed often automatic since the basic personality beholds at last a chance to manifest itself. However, it will occasionally aid the auditor.

The individual always wants his mental matrix to become fully assimilated.

The auditor should be prepared to have to solve many individual problems since above the basics are almost as many problems as there are cases. For example, in the case of a preclear who has several very nasty prenatals it will be found that the formation of the body in the womb has overlaid or confused the time track so that a later prenatal must be partially lifted before an earlier prenatal can be exhausted. This is often true of a later period of life. In one case an entire series of prenatals was held down by a dental operation under nitrous oxide at the age of twenty-five. Until some portion of this was removed, the bulk of the prenatals were not available. In short, the circuits of the mind can become entangled to a point where even the motor control time track is confused.

The aberration can be so mixed up that they may have to be resolved together. This is why the free association approach of mindfulness is more workable than the discrete engram approach of Dianetics theory.

Dispersal of purpose by some engram along some dynamic or purpose line is a common situation and is indeed the basic concept. As a stream of electrons would behave if they were to encounter a solid object in their path, so does a drive or purpose disperse. These many varied and faint tracks after impact with the engram are symptomatic. Along dynamic two, the sexual drive, promiscuity inevitably and invariably indicates a sexual engram of great magnitude. Once that engram is removed promiscuity can be expected to cease.

Dispersal of purpose is a very common and a serious aberration.

Anxiety is established in the preclear’s mind by such dispersals and he dramatizes because of the dispersal. This is one of the manifestations of his malady. No pervert ever became a pervert without having been educated or abused by a pervert. And that abuse must have been very thorough. The contagion of engrams is an interesting manifestation which the auditor should and must observe. It can be said that insanity runs in families, not because this is a eugenic truth but because a standard patter during emergencies or stress creates certain types of engrams which in turn create types of insanities. Insanities are so definitely contagious that when a child is raised by aberrated parents, the child becomes aberrated. As would be delineated by Child Dianetics, the best way to guarantee a sane child is to provide it with cleared or released parents. This is of definite interest to the auditor since he will discover that in cases of severe prenatals and birth the engrams were also received by the mother exactly as they were received by the child. The child will thereafter be a restimulator to the mother and the mother a restimulator to the child for the severe incidents. The mother, having received the exact wording of the engram, also contains the engram. Restimulation by the child will occasion the use of the engramic language toward the child. This brings the infant and child and adolescent into the unhappy situation of having his birth engram or his prenatal engrams continually restimulated. This occasions dire results and very great unhappiness in the home and is one of the main sources of family difficulties.

A child, even if he despises them, will dramatize the actions of his parents when he himself is married and when he himself has children. In addition to this the other partner in the marriage also has his or her own engrams. Their engrams combine into doubled engrams in the children. The result of this is a contagion and a progression of aberration. Thus any society which does not have a high purpose finds itself declining and gaining greater numbers of insane. The contagion of aberration is at work progressively, and the children become progressively aberrated until at last the society itself is aberrated.

The dramatization of engrams easily leads to a contagion of aberration when a society is in disarray as to its purpose.

While the fate of society belongs definitely in Social and Political Dianetics, the auditor is interested in the fact that he can take the prenatal and birth content of the engrams of his preclear and run them to discover post-birth locks and secondary engrams. The mother will normally have used much the same data whenever the troubles of the child impinged upon her reactive mind; this of course accounts for the locks.

The auditor will also discover that where he has a married preclear who is aberrated, he should have two preclears, which is to say, the partner. It is useless to return a preclear to his or her aberrated spouse and expect domestic tranquility to result. While the release cannot and will not pick up his old engrams from the spouse in whom he has implanted them, he will, nevertheless, find his life made unbearable by the mere existence of a spouse that he himself may have aberrated.

Further, the children of these people will also need auditing, since they will be found (if the parent’s aberrations were of any magnitude) to be sickly or aberrated or deficient in some way. The auditor should therefore, when he undertakes a case, be prepared to audit the family of his preclear, should an investigation of that preclear make it seem necessary.

Aberrations are contagious and where a person has been aberrated, his environment will to some degree also have become aberrated. The preclear may, for one thing, be somewhat victimized and impeded by his reactive mind which is now existing in his associates.

The auditor should not permit such terms as “psychoneurotic,” “crazy,” or “mentally exhausted” to exist for long in the preclear’s mind. These are depressive and are actually aberrations in the society. It is true and provable that the preclear is on his way to being, not a person who is crazy or neurotic, but an individual who will have more stability and self-command and ability, possibly, than those around him. To be blunt: this is not the process of reviving corpses into a semblance of life. It is a process which, at its best usage, is taking the “normal” and “average” and giving them their birthright of happiness and creative attainment in the world of man.

In the face of this contagion of aberration a method of rapid large scale clearing is needed. This need may be met by mindfulness auditing approach.



KEY WORDS: Recounting, Earlier similar, Basic Purpose, Contagion of Aberration

Most difficulties encountered in the Dianetic procedure are generated by the procedure itself. The mindfulness auditing approach may overcome those difficulties, and provide a method by which engramic nodes can be cleared up rapidly on a large scale.


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