L. Ron Hubbard founded the Scientology religion in 1952. But the beginning of the movement was actually the publication of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health 72 years ago today. And this book forms a foundation for all that followed.

L. Ron Hubbard in Phoenix, Arizona

L. Ron Hubbard in Phoenix, Arizona

On May 9th, 1950, it had been a mere five years since the end of World War II. But an undercurrent of anxiety pervaded the culture in the early days of the “Cold War,” a phrase George Orwell coined only months after Japan capitulated.

That was the state of the world when L. Ron Hubbard wrote in the first chapter of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health: “A science of mind is a goal which has engrossed thousands of generations of Man. Armies, dynasties and whole civilizations have perished for the lack of it. Rome went to dust for the want of it. China swims in blood for the need of it. And down in the arsenal is an atom bomb, its hopeful nose full-armed in ignorance of it.”

In the decade after the release of Dianetics, Hubbard wrote more than a dozen books on Dianetics and Scientology and recorded hundreds of lectures documenting his research into the mind, spirit and life. At the same time, he codified administrative systems while serving as executive director of the early Scientology churches that opened in America, England, South Africa and Australia.

Today, led by David Miscavige, the Scientology religion has thousands of churches, missions and groups in every corner of the world. But the need of the science of the mind Mr. Hubbard first spoke of seven decades ago is as pervasive now as it was then, with spiking drug-overdose deaths and suicide rates and media warning of a mental health crisis.

And today with battle lines once more drawn and the specter of nuclear weapons once more looming with the Ukraine conflict, the final pages of Dianetics seem prophetic.

L. Ron Hubbard wrote: “Man is now faced, by these pyramiding hatreds, with weapons so powerful that Man himself may vanish from the Earth. There is no problem in the control of these weapons. They explode when and where Man tells them to explode. The problem is in the control of Man.”

Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health is available in most bookstores and libraries and can be ordered from a Church of Scientology or from the book’s publisher, Bridge Publications.

The Scientology TV Network has several films on Dianetics: What is Dianetics? Dianetics: An Introduction and The Dianetics of Grief, which are available on DIRECTV Channel 320 and stream at Scientology.tv.

Scientology Churches and Missions also offer Dianetics seminars that serve as an introduction to the practice.