Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Janet Reitman

Janet Reitman is the author of Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion.

From her Q & A with Jessica Grose at Slate:

Slate: Let's go back to Scientology's origins. From the way you describe founder L. Ron Hubbard's book, Dianetics—which is called "book one" by Scientologists—it seemed focused on erasing pain. Dianetics was published in 1950, and it makes sense to me that something that emphasizes positivity gained popularity in Eisenhower America. Can you explain to me, as you do in the book, why that moment was a perfect breeding ground for L. Ron Hubbard's philosophies?

Reitman: One thing you have to understand about L. Ron Hubbard: He was a product in many ways of World War II. He was a Navy officer, though it is debatable as to what degree he fought, because he suffered from ulcers and claimed numerous other physical disabilities, and he seemingly came back from the war suffering from some kind of PTSD. His Navy records never revealed that he was exposed to the injuries he claimed. And the Church of Scientology claims that he was sort of undercover, and actually an Intelligence officer, so he had other sets of records. I've never seen evidence of this. Nonetheless, he clearly was suffering from something, and had appealed to the navy for psychiatric help. And within a few years, he came up with something to cure himself of his trauma. He called it "Dianetics."

It was appealing to people because we're talking about an era where there wasn't really psychiatry. It was very expensive and only available in a major city like New York, Washington, L.A. Other forms of psychiatry...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue