Engram (Dianetics)

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This article is about the concept of the engram in Dianetics and Scientology. For other uses, see Engram (disambiguation).

An engram, as used in Dianetics and Scientology, is a detailed mental image or memory of a traumatic event from the past that occurred when an individual was partially or fully unconscious. It is considered to be pseudoscientific[1][2] and is different from the meaning of "engram" in cognitive psychology.[3] According to Dianetics and Scientology, from conception onwards, whenever something painful happens while the "analytic mind" is unconscious, engrams are supposedly being recorded and stored in an area of the brain Scientology calls the "reactive mind".[4][5]

The term engram was coined in 1904 by the German scholar Richard Semon,[6] who defined it as a "stimulus impression" which could be reactivated by the recurrence of "the energetic conditions which ruled at the generation of the engram."[7] L. Ron Hubbard re-used Semon's concept when he published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in 1950. He conceived of the engram as a form of "memory trace", an idea which had long existed in medicine. According to physician Joseph Winter, who collaborated in the development of the Dianetics philosophy, Hubbard had taken the term "engram" from a 1936 edition of Dorland's Medical Dictionary, where it was defined as "a lasting mark or trace...In psychology it is the lasting trace left in the psyche by anything that has been experienced psychically; a latent memory picture."[8] Hubbard had originally used the terms "Norn", "comanome" and "impediment" before alighting on "engram" following a suggestion from Winter.[9] Hubbard equates the reactive mind to the engram or reactive memory bank. An engram is described as a “cellular level recording” that includes both physical and emotional pain. Engrams are stored in chains or series of incidents that are similar.[10]

In Dianetics and Scientology doctrine, engrams are believed to originate from painful incidents, which close down the “analytic function,” leaving a person to operate only on the "reactive" level, where everything, including pain, position and location are experienced as “aspects of the unpleasant whole.” This engram is restimulated if the person is reminded of the painful experience days later, causing feelings guilt or embarrassment – another engram. This cycle is called a "lock" in Scientology terminology.[11]

Hubbard's concept of the engram evolved over time. In Dianetics, he wrote that "The word engram, in Dianetics is used in its severely accurate sense as a 'definite and permanent trace left by a stimulus on the protoplasm of a tissue'",[12] which followed fairly closely the original definition in Dorland's. He later repudiated the idea that an engram was a physical cellular trace, redefining his concept as being "a mental image picture of a moment of pain and unconsciousness".[13] According to Hubbard whenever an engram is stimulated it increases in power.[12] Jeff Jacobsen compared auditing for engrams in Scientology to the Freudian psychoanalytic concept of abreaction, equating engrams to the painful subconscious memories that abreaction therapy brings up to the conscious mind. He quoted Nathaniel Thornton, who compared abreaction to confession.[4] Dorthe Refslund Christensen describes engrams in layman’s terms as trauma, a means to explain the long and short term effects of painful experiences.[14] According to Christensen, Hubbard wrote about the dramatization of an engram, where the one who suffered and recorded the pain as an engram relates all sensory perceptions during the time of the painful incident to the incident. These sensory perceptions become “restimulators” that remind the individual of the pain and triggers him or her to re-experience it.[15]

Dianetics became Scientology in 1952 and[16][17] the concept of clearing engrams was carried over into this new religion and remains a central part of the practices of the Church of Scientology.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roeckelein, J.E. (2006). Elsevier's dictionary of psychological theories (1st ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier. p. 493. ISBN 9780080460642. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 
  2. ^ Shiraev, Eric (2014). A History of Psychology: A Global Perspective. SAGE Publications. p. 14. ISBN 9781483323954. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 
  3. ^ Cordón, Luis A. (2005). Popular psychology : an encyclopedia. Wesport (Conn.): Greenwood. p. 61. ISBN 9780313324574. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Jeff Jacobsen. "Dianetics: From Out of the Blue?" Reprinted from The Arizona Skeptic, vol. 5, no. 2, September/October 1991, pp. 1-5. Accessed on 2010-06-15.
  5. ^ "The Official Scientology and Dianetics Glossary". Church of Scientology International. Archived from the original on 28 April 2009. Retrieved 23 July 2016. a mental image picture which is a recording of an experience containing pain, unconsciousness and a real or fancied threat to survival. It is a recording in the reactive mind of something which actually happened to an individual in the past and which contained pain and unconsciousness...These engrams are a complete recording, down to the last accurate detail, of every perception present in a moment of partial or full unconsciousness. 
  6. ^ Dudai, Yadin (2002). Memory from A to Z: Keywords, Concepts, and Beyond. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-852087-5. 
  7. ^ Corydon, Bent; L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. (1987). L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman?. Secaucus, New Jersey: Lyle Stuart. ISBN 0-8184-0444-2.  Convenience link at http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/mom/Messiah_or_Madman.txt .
  8. ^ Winter, Joseph A. (1951). A Doctor's Report on Dianetics. New York, NY: Hermitage House. 
  9. ^ Atack, Jon (1990). A Piece of Blue Sky. New York, NY: Carol Publishing Group. p. 109. ISBN 0-8184-0499-X. 
  10. ^ Christensen, Dorthe Refslund (June 24, 2016). "Rethinking Scientology A Thorough Analysis of L. Ron Hubbard's Formulation of Therapy and Religion in Dianetics and Scientology, 1950–1986". Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review. doi:10.5840/asrr201662323. 
  11. ^ Cook, Pat (1971). "Scientology and Dianetics". The Journal of Education. 153 (4): 58–61. Retrieved 2016-07-28. 
  12. ^ a b Hubbard, L. Ron (1988). Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. East Grinstead, United Kingdom: New Era Publications UK Ltd. ISBN 1-870451-22-8. 
  13. ^ L. Ron Hubbard Ability: the Magazine of Dianetics and Scientology, Issue 36, Washington D. C., mid-October 1956
  14. ^ Christensen, Dorthe Refslund (June 24, 2016). "Rethinking Scientology A Thorough Analysis of L. Ron Hubbard's Formulation of Therapy and Religion in Dianetics and Scientology, 1950–1986". Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review. doi:10.5840/asrr201662323. 
  15. ^ Christensen, Dorthe Refslund (June 24, 2016). "Rethinking Scientology A Thorough Analysis of L. Ron Hubbard's Formulation of Therapy and Religion in Dianetics and Scientology, 1950–1986". Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review. doi:10.5840/asrr201662323. 
  16. ^ "Jon Atack: The games L. Ron Hubbard played". tonyortega.org. 
  17. ^ Christian D. Von Dehsen-Scott L. Harris Philosophers and Religious Leaders, p. 90, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999 ISBN 978-1-57356-152-5
  18. ^ Urban, Hugh B. (2011). The church of scientology : a history of a new religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691146089. Retrieved 5 December 2015. 

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