Scientologists today celebrate Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health published on May 9, 1950. The book, by popular writer L. Ron Hubbard, was an instant success – some 50,000 copies sold immediately and it quickly hit the New York Times bestseller list and remained there for 26 consecutive weeks.
National columnist Walter Winchell called Dianetics “… a new science which works with the invariability of physical science in the field of the human mind. From all indications it will prove to be as revolutionary for humanity as the first caveman’s discovery and utilization of fire.”
Within weeks of the book’s publication, Hubbard was traveling coast-to-coast, lecturing thousands of readers on his discoveries and their application. By the end of the year, some 750 Dianetics groups had formed from throughout the U.S. and supporters launched six research foundations to help facilitate Hubbard’s advancement of the subject.
Dianetics described “engrams” – defined as mental recordings of pain, loss and unconsciousness – as the source of irrational thought and behavior, and laid out a relatively simple procedure to erase engrams. Once freed of all engrams, the person becomes a “Clear” – the optimum individual.
Hubbard continued his research into the mind and spirit for many years thereafter and the Church of Scientology was founded in 1954.
The counseling procedures described in the book are in use today in Scientology churches, missions and groups around the world.
Dianetics has gone through numerous editions over the years and Publishers Weekly described it as “perhaps the best-selling non-Christian book of all time in the West”
In 2015, Smithsonian Magazine named Hubbard among the 11 most influential religious figures in American history, citing Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health and the subsequent founding of the Scientology religion.