Author: Hubbard, L. R.
Document date: 1954, 7 April
Document title: Universe: Basic Definitions
Document type: lecture transcript
Event: Fifth American Advanced Clinical Course
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Document ID: 5404C07
Description: Hubbard discusses his attitude toward mental illness, as well as his interest in measuring (mental) energy. Says Commander Thompson talked to him a great deal about having psychoanalysis. Discusses his relationship and conversations with William Alanson White at St. Elizabeths, apparently before 1938, when he found out there was something wrong with hypnotism.
My father was a naval officer, shipped around various places. Well thought of. It was a calm world. I didn’t have any business worrying about this sort of a problem, because it wasn’t a personal problem. Whether people went mad or stayed sane was very, very little to me. It meant really nothing. And I figured everything in the world’s all nailed down.
Well, here’s the very problem of thinkingness itself with which we are dealing continually in the field of science, not nailed down—not even vaguely nailed down. Nobody even adventuring to solve it. Well, how can you go anyplace in the field of physics if you don’t know the smallest unit of energy? How small can energy get?
Here was a stumbler. Here was a big idea there—sitting there, of “There must be more in the field of physics than we know about. And if there is so much more in the field of physics than we know about we must be studying one tiny little piece of the spectrum.” Therefore, what is the field of physics? It has demonstrated that the human mind evidently uses and stores energy smaller than anything we know about. Well, I went around in circles for a while and threw the whole problem in the ashcan and went on with my studies in an orderly fashion. Perfectly happy to observe Brownian movements and other things.
And I had, however, a little more background on it. Commander Thompson had studied with Freud and he was a good friend of mine and he talked to me a great deal about having psychoanalysis. So I went back and reviewed a bunch of the stuff which he’d talked to me about and studied it over again. Hopeful, you see, that there was some clue there.
Well, there wasn’t any clue there. This was not… this was not the sort of orderly thinking which can be embraced by a solid science like physics. And… because physics may have a great many things wrong with it, but it does have this: it of necessity continues to be reasonable. It insists on workability. It won’t take wild shots and theories just on their face value. These things have to work. And that is the one thing which physics can contribute. Things have to work in the real universe. You either get an effect or you don’t. You can’t guess that you get an effect, you see. An engineer building a tunnel can’t just guess that he’s built a tunnel. When the train goes through the thing, it will either go through a tunnel or hit a solid mountain. And it’s not healthy to hit solid mountains with trains. You get fired for having such things happen.
So the point is, is here we have a test of workability, which of course is a whole methodology of thought.
Well, I went over to a fellow over at Saint Elizabeth’s, William Allen White. I talked to him for a little while and I became… He was very reasonable fellow, nice guy. He’d been a friend of mine before this, by the way, and a very, very nice fellow. And we were having a very informal discussion this way and that, and he was unfortunate enough however to throw me a few titbits which tended to put me in my place about the field of the human mind, you see.
So I sat down and proved to him that the human mind couldn’t possibly remember anything. Demonstrated it to him conclusively. And he looked at this and the man went almost white. He was a very brilliant man. He had no difficulty in assimilating this material. But he had just been presented with the fact that if the mind does run on energy, if it is contained in the body, if neurons do think, if people do remember, if there’s life at all, the human brain has very little to do with it.
Well, of course I might very well have upset the man more than necessary because this is not necessarily a horribly world-shaking conclusion, but William Allen White chose to consider it so. And here was the greatest man in his day, on the subject of the human mind, being utterly confounded. Why was he being confounded? He was looking at the scientific methodology of physics suddenly applied to the field of the mind. And of course, it’s like taking a bright, sharp, new sword that nobody knew was there and just slicing everything up. It was a great shock.
“Well, you know,” he said “if you care to,” he said, “you go on with this.” He said, “It’s out of my depth already.” He says, “You realize nobody in medicine is trained in mathematics. Nobody is trained in physics, logic, geometry, energy, any one of these things.”
And he said, “What you’ve got in front of you there seems to prove that the research of the mind itself belongs in the field of mathematics, energy, geometry, not in the field of philosophy and speculation.” Quite interesting. He gave up the ghost. I don’t think he ever did much more research after that either.
But it wasn’t until 1938 that I had any kind of an inkling of what was going on. In 1938 I found out there was something wrong with hypnotism.