OT 1948: The “Laws” of Returning

Reference: DIANETICS: The Original Thesis

This paper presents Chapter 16 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 “Laws” of Returning

By aberration is meant the aberree’s reactions to and difficulties with his current environment.

By somatic is meant any physical or physically sensory abnormality which the preclear manifests generally or sporadically in his environment, or any such manifestation encountered and re-experienced during auditing.

The aberration is the mental error caused by engrams and the somatic is the physical error occasioned by the same source.

According to Dianetics, the source of all aberrations and somatics are engrams.

The auditor follows the general rule that no aberrations or somatics exist in a subject which cannot be accounted for by engrams. He may ordinarily be expected to discover that anything which reduces the physical or mental perfection of the subject is engramic. He applies this rule first and in practice admits no organic trouble of any character. Only when he has obviously obtained a Clear and when he has observed and has had that Clear medically examined after a period of sixty days to six months from the end of auditing should he be content to assign anything to organic origin. He cannot be expected to know until the final examination exactly what somatic was not engramic. In other words he must persistently adhere to one line of thought (that the preclear can be brought to mental and physical perfection) before he resigns any mental or physical error in the preclear to a purely organic category. Too little is known at this writing of the recoverability of the mind and body for a dianeticist to deny that ability to recover. Since primary research, considerable practice has demonstrated that this ability to reconstruct and recover is enormous, far beyond anything previously conceived possible.

Dianetics assumes that all psychiatric and medical problems arise from engrams only. Therefore, it does not recommend any medical or psychiatric treatment. Exceptions are medical treatments for obvious injuries like cuts, broken bones, etc.

Essentially, the Dianetic thesis is saying that the aberrated electric signals from the mind bring about aberrated chemical changes in the body; and the focus should be on fixing the aberrated electric signals.

Dianetics accounts for all faith healing phenomena on an entirely scientific basis and the dianeticist can expect himself to consort daily in his practice with what appear to be miracles.

In addition to knowledge of his subject, considerable intelligence and imagination, and a personality which inspires confidence, the dianetic auditor must possess persistency to a remarkable degree. In other words, his drives must be phenomenally high. There is no substitute for the auditor’s having been cleared. It is possible for an individual to operate with Dianetics without having been released and he may do so for some time without repercussion, but as he audits he will most certainly encounter the perceptics contained in some of his own engrams time after time until these engrams are so restimulated that he will become mentally or physically ill.

When an auditor is handling the auditee, it is basically a mind handling another mind. It is difficult for an aberrated mind to handle the aberrations of the mind. So, the auditor must somehow prevent his own aberrated circuits from getting activated while trying to fix another mind’s aberrated circuits.

In psychoanalysis it was possible for the analyst to escape this fate because he dealt primarily with locks occurring in the post-speech life. The analyst might even experience relief from operating on patients since it might clarify his own locks which always had been more or less completely available to his analytical mind. This is very far from the case with the dianeticist who handles continually the vital and highly charged data which cause physical and mental aberrations. An auditor in Dianetics may work with impunity for a very short time only before his own condition demands that he himself be audited. While this is aside from the main subject of auditing, it has been too often observed to be neglected.

Very often the auditor’s aberrated circuits get activated when addressing the aberrated circuits of the auditee. This is a problem often observed in Dianetics. It is a problem observed in most professions dealing with the mind. It mainly manifests itself as sexual abuse. Look at the Catholic Church.

Every engram possesses some quality which denies it to the analytical mind. There are several types. First there is the “denyer” engram which contains the species of phrase, “Frank will never know about this,” “Forget it!” “Cannot remember it!” and so forth. Second is the self-invalidating engram which contains the phrases, “Never happened,” “Can’t believe it,” “Wouldn’t possibly imagine it,” and so on.

Third is the “bouncer” engram which contains the species of phrase, “Can’t stay here,” “Get out!” and other phrases which will not permit the preclear to remain in its vicinity but return him to present time. A fourth is the “holder” engram which contains “Stay here,” “Hold still,” “Can’t get out,” and so on.

These are four of the general types which the dianeticist will find occasion him the greatest difficulty. The type of phrase being encountered, however, is easily diagnosed from preclear reaction.

There are many other types of engrams and phrases which will be encountered. There is the self-perpetuating engram which implies that, “It will always be this way,” and “It happens all the time.” The auditor will soon learn to recognize them, forming lists of his own.

An aberrated mind cannot fully identity similar aberrations in another mind. For the same reason, a mind cannot identify its own aberrations. Therefore, Dianetics uses repetition of certain “engramic phrases” used by the auditee to, hopefully, bring up the engramic incident.

An engram would not be an engram unless it had strong compulsive or repressive data contained in it. All engrams are self-locking to some degree, being well off the time track and touching it slightly, if at all, with some minor and apparently innocuous bit of information which the analytical mind disregards as unimportant. Classed with the denyer variety are those phrases which deny perception of any kind. The dianetic auditor will continually encounter perception denial and will find it one of the primary reasons the preclear cannot recall and articulate the engram. “Can’t see,” “Can’t hear,” “Can’t feel,” and “Isn’t alive” tend to deny the whole engram containing any such phrases.

Dianetics thesis views “engramic phrases” as hypnotic commands that need to be defused by uncovering the moment when they were received.

As the engram is a powerful surcharge of physical pain, it will without any phrases whatsoever deny itself to the analytical mind which, in seeking to scan the engram, is repelled by the operating principle that it must avoid pain for the organism. As has already been covered, there are five ways the organism can handle a source of pain. It can neglect it, attack it, succumb to it, flee from it, or avoid it. As the entire organism handles exterior pain sources, so does the analytical mind tend to react to engrams. There is an exterior world reaction of the organism to pain sources then. This is approximated when the analytical mind is addressed in regard to engrams. There is an excellent reason for this. Everything contained in the reactive mind is exterior source material. The analytical mind went out of circuit and was recording imperfectly if at all in the time period when the exterior source was entered into the reactive mind.

Dianetics points out that there are five ways the organism can handle a source of pain—neglect it, attack it, succumb to it, flee from it, or avoid it. The dianetic procedure attacks the engram. This requires facing the pain of the engram.

An analytical mind when asked to approach an engram reacts as it would have had it been present, which is to say, in circuit, at the moment when the engram was being received. Therefore, an artificial approach to the engram must be made which will permit the auditor to direct the subject’s analytical mind into but one source of action: Attack.

The actual incident must be located and re-experienced. In that the analytical mind has five possible ways of reacting to the engram and in that the auditor desires that only one of these—attack—be used, the preclear must be persuaded from using the remaining four.

Then mental matrix was overwhelmed when the engram was received. It has been overwhelmed by the irrational actions of the engram since. The dianetic solution is to push through the pain to locate and re-experience the engram. This has led to many difficulties.

On this general principle can be created many types of approach to the problem of obtaining a Clear. The one which is offered in this manual is that one which has met with quicker and more predictable results than others researched at this time. It has given, in use, one hundred per cent results. In the beginning, at this time, an auditor should not attempt to stray far from this offered technique. He should attempt to vary it only when he himself has had extensive and sufficient practice which will enable him to be very conversant with the nature of engrams. Better techniques will undoubtedly be established which will provide swifter exhaustion of the reactive mind. The offered technique has produced results in all types of cases so far encountered.

The technique offered in THE ORIGINAL THESIS requires cleverly using Dianetic phrases to access and re-experience the engrams. This technique requires lot of skill and is limited in its scope. It only gets the low hanging fruits. The researcher, however, is overly optimistic.

There are three equations which demonstrate how and why the auditor and preclear can reach engrams and exhaust them:

I.          The auditor’s dynamics are equal to or less than the engramic surcharge in the preclear.

II.         The preclear’s dynamics are less than the engramic surcharge.

III.        The auditor’s dynamics plus the preclear’s dynamics are greater than the engramic surcharge.

When the preclear’s dynamics are entirely or almost entirely reduced, as in the case of amnesia trance, drug trances and so forth, the auditor’s dynamics are not always sufficient to force the preclear’s analytical mind into an attack upon the engram.

Only the auditee can handle his aberrations. The auditor can do no more than supporting him.

The auditor’s dynamics directed against an engram in a preclear who has not been subjected to a process which will inhibit the free play of his reactive mind and concentrate it, ordinarily provokes the preclear into one of the four unusable methods of succumbing, fleeing, avoiding or neglecting the engram. Demanding that the preclear “face reality,” or “see reason,” or that he “stop his foolish actions” falls precisely into this category. The auditor’s dynamics operating against an awake preclear can produce an “insanity break,” temporary or of considerable duration in the preclear.

You cannot force the auditee to resolve his irrationality.

When the preclear is in reverie some of his own dynamics are present and the auditor’s dynamics added to these make a combination sufficient to overcome the engramic surcharge.

If the auditor releases his dynamics against the analytical mind of the preclear, which is to say, the person of the preclear, while an attempt is being made to reach an engram (in violation of the auditor’s code, or with some erroneous idea that the whole person of the preclear is confronting him) he will receive in return all the fury of the engramic surcharge.

The auditee is, at least, restraining his engram from dramatizing itself. That restrain may go away if the auditor gets upset with the auditee.

An engram can be dramatized innumerable times, for such is the character of the reactive mind that the surcharge of the engram cannot exhaust itself and will not exhaust itself regardless of its age or the number of times dramatized until it has been approached by the analytical mind of the subject.

The additive dynamic drive law must be made to apply before engrams are reached. It is occasionally very necessary to change dianetic auditors, for some preclears will work well only with either a male or a female auditor, or with one or another individual auditor. This will not be found necessary in many cases. Three cases are on record where the preclear was definitely antipathetic toward the auditor throughout the entire course of auditing. The dianeticist was found to be a restimulator for one or more of the persons contained in the engrams. Even so, these persons responded. Greater patience was required on the part of the auditor. Closer observance of the auditor’s code was necessary and a longer time was required for auditing. It will be discovered that once the preclear understands what is desired of him and why, his basic personality is aroused to the extent that it will cooperate with any auditor in order to be free. It will suffer through many violations of the auditor’s code. Once a preclear has started his auditing he will ordinarily continue to cooperate in the major requirements to the fullest extent, no matter what apparent antagonisms he may display in minor matters.

In Dianetics, if the auditor is not the right one for the auditee the auditing may not work or progress may become very slow.

Reverie is a method that has been used with success. The analytical mind of the preclear, while reduced in its potential and under direction, is still capable of thinking its own thoughts and forming its own opinions. Implicit obedience to whatever the auditor suggests is not desirable as the preclear will inject extraneous material at the faintest suggestion of the auditor. Drugs inhibit the somatic and have no use in entering a case.

Regression reduces the minds ability to think its own thoughts. Drugs inhibit the somatic.

The fact that the dianeticist is interested solely in what has been done to the preclear and is not at all interested in what the preclear himself has done to others greatly facilitates auditing since there is no social disgrace in having been an unwitting victim.

Dianetics only looks at what has been done to the person.

In reverie the preclear is placed in a light state of “concentration” which is not to be confused with hypnosis. In the state of alliance, therefore, the mind of the preclear will be found to be, to some degree, detachable from his surroundings and directed interiorly. The first thing that the dianeticist will discover in most preclears is aberration of the sense of time. There are various ways that he can circumvent this and construct a time track along which he can cause the preclear’s mind to travel. Various early experiences which are easily reached are examined and an early diagnosis can be formed. Then begins an immediate effort to reach basic, with attempted abortion or prenatal accident predominating. Failures on the first attempts to reach prenatal experiences should not discourage the dianetic auditor since many hours may be consumed and many false basics reached and exhausted before the true prenatal basic is attained.

In Dianetics, the auditor puts the person in reverie and sends him back on the time track and examines various early experiences. After that he makes immediate effort to reach the basic.

In this type of reverie the dianeticist can use and will observe certain apparently natural laws in force. They are as follows: The difficulties the analytical mind encounters when returned to or searching for an engram are identical to the command content of that engram.

An aberree in adult life is more or less obeying, as restimulated, the composite experiences contained in his engrams.

The preclear’s behavior in reverie is regulated by the commands contained in the engram to which he is returned and is modified by the composite of chronologically preceding engrams on his time track.

The somatics of a preclear are at their highest in an engram where they were received and at the moment of reception in that experience.

When returned to a point prior to an engram, the commands and somatics of that engram are not effective on the preclear. As he is returned to the moment of an engram, the preclear experiences, as the common denominator of all engrams, a considerable lessening of his analytical potential. He speaks and acts in a modified version of the engram. All complaints he makes to the auditor should be regarded as possibly being verbatim from, first, the engram that he is re-experiencing or, second, from prior engrams.

At the precise moment of an engramic command the preclear experiences obedience to that command. The emotion a preclear experiences when regressed to an engram is identical to the emotional tone of that engram. Excesses of emotion will be found to be contained in the word content of the engram as commands.

Dianetics thesis is that a person is generally behaving hypnotically as dictated by his engrams. Such hypnotic behavior increases when he is returned in auditing and approaches his engrams. He speaks and acts in a modified version of the engram. The somatics are highest when he accesses the engram.

When a preclear is returned to before the moment of reception of an engram he is not subject to any part of that engram, emotionally, aberrationally, or somatically.

When the time track is found to contain loops or is blurred in any portion, its crossings or confusions are directly attributable to engramic commands which precisely state the confusion.

Any difficulty a preclear may experience with returning, reaching engrams, perceiving, or recounting, is directly and precisely commanded by engrams.

An engram would not be an engram were it easy to reach or if it gave the preclear no difficulty and contained no physical pain.

Dianetics believes that engram can be located by moving the auditee up and down on his time track, but even this may become confused by engramic commands. The auditor may guess the engramic commands by observing this confusion.

The characteristic of engrams is confusion. First, the confusion of the time track; second, the confusion of an engramic chain wherein similar words or somatics mix incidents; third, confusion of incidents with engrams.

This confusion is occasioned by the disconnected state of the analytical mind during the receipt of the engram. Auditing by location and identification of hidden incidents, first rebuilds at least the early part of the time track, locates and fixes engrams in relation to one another in time, and then locates the basic of the basic chain and exhausts it. The remainder of the chain must also be exhausted. Other engrams and incidents exhaust with ease after the erasure of the basic or the basic of any chain (within that chain). Locks vanish without being located. A tone four gained on basic permits the subsequent erasure on the time track to go forward with ease. A whole chain may rise to four without the basic chain having been located.

Dianetics believes that once the basic engram is contacted and relieved, the rest of the chain of aberration can be relieved much easily. However, in practice this is relative and not absolute.

Any perception of pre-speech life during reverie denotes the existence of engramic experience as far back as the time track is open.

Photographic memory of early moments of one’s life means that there could be engrams hidden in those moments.

If the individual’s general tone is clearly not tone four, if he is still interested in his engrams, another more basic chain than the one found still exists.

When a person has no engrams his attention will be totally extroverted. He will be rationally considering broader problems beyond himself.

Engramic patterns tend to form an avoidance pattern for the preclear. From basic outward there is an observable and progressive divergence between the person himself and his returned self. In the basic engram of the basic chain and for a few subsequent incidents on that chain, he will be found within and receiving the experiences as himself. In subsequent incidents cleavage is observable, and in late engrams the preclear is found to be observing the action from outside of himself, almost as a disinterested party. This forms the principal primary test for the basic of the basic chain. Another test for basic is “sag.”

In Dianetics, a person recounts the incident after being returned to it. But if he is recounting the incident without experiencing it, it won’t produce any positive and permanent results.

Any engram may be exhausted to a point where it will recede without reaching tone four. Although it is temporarily and momentarily lost to the individual and apparently does not trouble him, that engram which has been exhausted in a chain without the basic having been reached will “sag” or reappear within twenty-four to sixty hours. Basic on any chain will not “sag” but will lift on a number of recountings, rise to tone four and will remain erased. Another test for basic is whether or not it begins to lift with ease. If an engram does not intensify or remain static after many recountings, it can be conceived to be at least a basic on some chain. Locks will lift and disappear without returning as they are not fixed by physical pain. Large numbers of locks can be exhausted bringing an alleviation of the preclear’s difficulties and such a course may occasionally be pursued in the entrance of a case. The discovery and lifting of the basic to which the locks are appended removes the locks automatically.

The Dianetic procedure is all about accessing engramic incidents and recounting them. Upon recounting the engram disappears only when it is experienced and its contents assimilate into the mental matrix. Many a time this does not happen.

These rules and laws even if modified in their statement will be found invariable. Incompetent auditing cannot be excused by the supposed discovery of a special case or exception. A physical derangement must be in the category of actually missing parts of the organism which cause permanent disability, and instances of this are not common.

This Dianetic thesis seems to blame the lack of success in applying the dianetic procedure to incompetent auditing, which does not fully understand these laws.



KEY WORDS: Laws of Returning

This Dianetic procedure needs to be examined closely if its application does not produce results in the hands of others. Apparently, the author of this thesis is able to produce results where others run into difficulty. In my observation, many difficulties arise because of the violation of the gradient in approaching the engram.

According to the laws of returning, the analytical awareness starts to shut down as one approaches the engram, and the thinking increasingly dramatizes the content of the engram. The person is not aware of this change but the auditor is. The auditor is then required to navigate the auditee through it skillfully.

According to the thesis, the auditor’s dynamic assists the auditee’s dynamic in overcoming the effects of the laws of returning. But in practice, the auditor takes over the awareness of the auditee instead of assisting it. Even the use of E-meter brings awareness to the auditor only. The auditee is simply being told what to do, and he is never in command of himself while approaching the engram. He mechanically obeys either the engram or the auditor.

Only the auditee can handle his aberrations. The auditor can only support, encourage and guide him but he can’t approach and assimilate the engram for the auditee. The only solution is for the auditee to remain in control of his awareness while approaching the engram and assimilating its content. This requires the auditee to overcome the effects of the law of returning. Can he approach and assimilate the contents of the engram without returning?

It is important to remember that Hubbard was an expert hypnotist and he thought in terms of returning. So, he may not have even considered the possibility of neutralizing the short-circuiting of the mental matrix by the engram without returning.

In hypnotism, the hypnotist installs a hypnotic command. That command can be neutralized by recalling the moment that command was installed. Hypnotist can easily do it because he knows when he installed that command. But the situation is very different in life. One suspects that there is a painful incident, which installed an engram in the mind but nothing is known about it. Engram is not like a simple hypnotic command. It has many tentacles reaching into many logic circuits of the mental matrix. Its relationship with the mind is much more complex compared to that of a simple hypnotic command.

The dianetic approach is to attack the source of pain (the engram). It tries to push through the pain to locate and re-experience the engram. It neglects the very many and much finer relationships that need to be straightened out in the process of neutralizing the engram. Thus it violates the principle of gradient. The more the gradient is violated, the more forceful is the reaction of the engram. The laws of returning are simply the result of violating the gradient. There are no such laws in play when the engram is approached on a gradient.

The mindfulness approach allows the engram to unwind itself through free association on its own natural gradient. The auditee simply focuses on the aberration that is bothering him. He examines that aberration in detail. He lets all data that comes up associate non-judgmentally in the context of that aberration. He watches objectively the reactions and even strong emotions that come up. He lets all such reactions run out as they may. He doesn’t interfere even when the awareness seems to attenuate as in falling asleep. These are contents of the engramic node getting released to the mental matrix.

It does not matter what the auditee has done or what has been done to him. He does not guess or search for the contents of the engram. If a phrase is running around in his head he simply focuses on it. He experiences whatever comes up without resisting. He may be supported, encouraged and guided by a mindfulness auditor. But it is the auditee’s dynamic that lies behind this free association. Using the gradient of free association any engram can be reached safely and easily.

The Dianetic thesis seems to blame any lack of success on incompetent auditing. It is noted that a proper procedure would be effective and easy to apply at the same time. Hopefully, the mindfulness auditing approach shall be able to overcome the difficulties that have plagued the dianetic procedure.

The out-gradient in dianetic procedure ends up in the auditor taking over the awareness of the auditee instead of assisting it. This seems to have become ingrained so much so that the auditee is expected to submit to the dictates of the organization delivering auditing. This organization is presently the “Church of Scientology”, which closely monitors all its parishioners and expects them to comply with its “code of ethics”. It keeps them in line through a system of reward and punishment. Anyone who rebels against the control of the Church is declared a “potential trouble source” or a “suppressive person”.

Fortunately, with mindfulness approach one can audit oneself to great improvement. He can then help others get started with their auditing. Only this way can a grass roots movement be started which is up to meeting the demands of the society.


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