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Auditing is defined by the Church of Scientology as "the application of Dianetics or Scientology processes and procedures to someone by a trained auditor. The exact definition of auditing is: The action of asking a person a question (which he can understand and answer), getting an answer to that question and acknowledging him for that answer."
"Auditing" in the context of Dianetics or Scientology is an activity where a person trained in auditing listens and gives auditing commands to a subject, who is referred to as a "preclear". All communications during auditing sessions are kept confidential between the auditor, the case supervisor and the pre-clear.
Auditing involves the use of "processes," which are sets of questions asked or directions given by an auditor. When the specific objective of any one process is achieved, the process is ended and another can then be used. By doing this, the subjects are said to be able to free themselves from unwanted barriers that inhibit their natural abilities. Scientologists state that the person being audited is completely aware of everything that happens and becomes even more alert as auditing progresses.
The auditor is obliged by the church's doctrine to maintain a strict code of conduct toward the preclear, called the Auditor's Code. Auditing is said to be successful only when the auditor conducts himself in accordance with the Code. A violation of the Auditor's Code is considered a high crime under Scientology policy and is punishable by expulsion.
The code outlines a series of 29 promises which include pledges:
- “Not to evaluate for the preclear or tell him what he should think about his case in session”
- “Not to invalidate the preclear’s case or gains in or out of session.”
- “Never to use the secrets of a preclear divulged in session for punishment or personal gain.”
According to the religion researcher Hugh B. Urban, both current Scientologists and people who have become disaffected with Scientology generally agree that auditing can trigger personal insights, and cause dramatic changes in one's psychological state. The recalling and expression of old hurts in response to the auditor's questions may feel like an unburdening, followed by a period of elation, as though a weight had been lifted off the practitioner's shoulders.
Most auditing sessions employ a device called the Hubbard Electropsychometer or E-Meter. This device measures changes in the electrical resistance of the preclear by passing approximately 0.5 volts through a pair of tin-plated tubes much like empty soup cans, attached to the meter by wires and held by the preclear during auditing. These low-potential changes in electrical resistance are believed by Scientologists to be a reliable and a precise indication of changes in the reactive mind of the preclear. Hubbard claimed that the device also has such sensitivity that it can measure whether or not fruits can experience pain, claiming in 1968 that tomatoes "scream when sliced."
Scientology teaches that individuals are immortal souls or spirits (called Thetans by Scientology) and are not limited to a single lifetime. The E-meter is believed to aid the auditor in identifying ingrained memories ("engrams", "incidents", and "implants") of past events in a thetan's current life and in previous ones. In such Scientology publications as Have You Lived Before This Life, Hubbard wrote about past life experiences dating back billions and even trillions of years.
The Scientology and Dianetics auditing process has raised concerns from a number of quarters, as auditing sessions are permanently recorded in the form of handwritten notes in preclear folders, which are supposed to be kept private. Judge Paul Breckenridge, in Church of Scientology of California vs. Gerald Armstrong, noted that Mary Sue Hubbard (plaintiff in that case) "authored the infamous order 'GO 121669', which directed culling of supposedly confidential P.C. [Preclear] files/folders for the purposes of internal security ". This directive was later canceled because it was not part of Scientology as written by L. Ron Hubbard. Bruce Hines has noted in an interview with Hoda Kotb that Scientology's collecting of personal and private information through auditing can possibly leave an adherent vulnerable to potential "blackmail" should they ever consider disaffecting from the church. Jon Atack's book "A Piece of Blue Sky" asserts that preclear folders have indeed been used for intimidation and harassment.
In 1965 the Anderson Report, an official inquiry conducted for the state of Victoria, Australia, found that auditing involved a form of "authoritative" or "command" hypnosis, in which the hypnotist assumes "positive authoritative control" over the subject. "It is the firm conclusion of this Board that most scientology and dianetic techniques are those of authoritative hypnosis and as such are dangerous. ... the scientific evidence which the Board heard from several expert witnesses of the highest repute ... which was virtually unchallenged - leads to the inescapable conclusion that it is only in name that there is any difference between authoritative hypnosis and most of the techniques of scientology. "
As of 2011 auditing is considered a spiritual practice by the government of Australia.
Scientologists[who?] have claimed benefits from auditing including improved IQ, improved ability to communicate, enhanced memory and alleviation of dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. Licensed psychotherapists[who?] have alleged that the Church's auditing sessions amount to mental health treatment without a license, but the Church disputes these allegations, and claims to have established in courts of law that its practice claims only to lead to spiritual relief. So, according to the Church, the psychotherapist treats mental health and the Church treats the spiritual being.
A 1971 ruling of the United States District Court, District of Columbia (333 F. Supp. 357), specifically stated that the E-meter "has no proven usefulness in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease, nor is it medically or scientifically capable of improving any bodily function." As a result of this ruling, Scientology now publishes disclaimers in its books and publications declaring that the E-meter "by itself does nothing" and that it is used specifically for spiritual purposes.
Note: HCOB refers to "Hubbard Communications Office Bulletins", HCOPL refers to "Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letters", and SHSBC refers to "Saint Hill Special Briefing Courses". All have been made publicly available by the Church of Scientology in the past, both as individual documents or in bound volumes.
- "Scientology glossary". Retrieved 07 August 2013.
- website: Scientology.org / THE AUDITOR’S CODE
- Urban (2011), p. 47
- "30 Dumb Inventions". Life. 1968-01-01. Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
- ""Scientology Mythbusting with Jon Atack: The Tomato Photo!"". tonyortega.org. 2013-02-02. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
- Hines, Bruce. Inside Scientology. Interview with Hoda Kotb. Countdown with Keith Olbermann. CNBC.
- Atack, Jon (1990). "Chapter Four - The Clearwater Hearings". A Piece of Blue Sky. Lyle Stuart. p. 448. ISBN 0-8184-0499-X.
- Girardi, Steven (1982-05-09). "Witnesses Tell of Break-ins, Conspiracy". Clearwater Sun. pp. 1A.
- Barnes, John (1984-10-28). "Sinking the Master Mariner". Sunday Times Magazine.
- Report of the Board of Enquiry into Scientology) by Kevin Victor Anderson, Q.C. Published 1965 by the State of Victoria, Australia.
- Urban, Hugh B. (2011), The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion, Princeton Press, ISBN 0-691-14608-X
- Church of Scientology official website
- Secrets of Scientology: The E-Meter
- Free Zone E-Meters on the Open Directory Project