Scientology was formed in the 1950s by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard. Beginning with a form of psychotherapy called ‘dianetics’, Hubbard believed that shocks in early life leave records – ‘engrams’ – in the brain that later have physical and psychological effects.

In dianetic therapy, an ‘auditor’ uses what is called an E-meter to search for engrams in order to erase them. Scientology refined this process, introducing ‘Thetans’, or essences, of immortal celestial beings, and forming it into a spiritual philosophy which aims to achieve a higher state of consciousness.
Hubbard was born in 1911 in Nebraska and served in the Navy during World War Two, hence the naval-type uniforms the Church’s hierarchy wears. Like other gurus, he came in for criticism concerning his wealth, and possible brainwashing activities on members of the Church. This aside, recently Scientology has prospered and includes figures like John Travolta among its flock. As for its ‘nutty’ aspects with Thetans and engrams, if you take out the science fictional interpretation, what we are left with is a refined form of eastern mysticism and valid psychotherapy.

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