was developed by L. Ron Hubbard
, and is described by the Church of Scientology
as "spiritual counseling which is the central practice of Dianetics
Auditing is an activity in which an Auditor (a person trained and qualified in applying auditing; defined as “one who listens”, from the Latin word audire
meaning “to hear” or “listen”) listens and gives auditing commands to a "Preclear," ("PC") or person not yet Clear
who is finding out about herself or himself and life through auditing. Critics of the process of auditing have suggested that it shares similarities with cult style programming and some behavior modification techniques which rely upon psychological manipulation of the subject.
Auditing involves the use of "processes," which are exact sets of questions asked or directions given by an auditor. There are many different auditing processes. When the specific objective of any one process is attained, the process is ended and another can then be used. The questions or directions of the process guide the Preclear to inspect certain parts of her or his existence. By doing this, the subject is said to be able to free her/himself of unwanted barriers that inhibit, stop or blunt his natural abilities to then increase them.
Scientologists argue that the person being audited is said to be completely aware of everything that happens and becomes even more alert as auditing progresses. Therefore Auditing is not referred to as something "done to" the Preclear, but rather involving her/his active participation. By using communication alone, the auditor must direct the Preclear’s attention to past moments of pain, unconsciousness or misemotion (negative emotion). The preclear must direct her/his attention inward to the deepest recesses of her/his reactive mind to confront occluded past incidents, e. g. past lives, in order to find the answer to the auditing command and erase the harmful energy (entheta) contained in the mental image pictures of these incidents.
The Auditor's Code
The auditor is obliged by the church's doctrine to maintain a strict code of conduct toward the preclear called the Auditor's Code.
This code outlines a series of 29 promises which include pledges:
- 1. “Not to evaluate for the preclear or tell him what he should think about his case in session”
- 2. “Not to invalidate the preclear’s case or gains in or out of session.”
- 3. “Never to use the secrets of a preclear divulged in session for punishment or personal gain.”
Auditing is said to be successful only when the auditor conducts himself in accordance with the Code. According to the Church of Scientology's official guidelines, all communications during auditing are privileged and confidential, and the confidences given in trust during an auditing session are considered sacrosanct and never to be betrayed. A violation of the Auditor's Code is considered a high crime under Scientology law.
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 (or PC) 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.
The E-meter is believed to aid the auditor in identifying "engrams", "incidents", and "implants". These are all ingrained memories of past events in this life and in previous ones on what Hubbard calls the "Whole Track". 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. Scientology teaches that individuals are immortal souls or spirits (called Thetans by Scientology) and are not limited to a single lifetime.
Basic format of an auditing cycle
An auditing session consists of many short cycles of question/answer or command/response. For an auditor, the basic format of a cycle must follow this structure:
- Is the preclear ready to receive the command/question?
- Auditor gives command/question.
- Preclear looks to his "bank" of memories for answer.
- Preclear receives answer from his "bank".
- Preclear gives answer to auditor.
- Auditor acknowledges the preclear's answer.
- Auditor is able to see that the preclear recognizes the acknowledgment.
- Cycle begins anew with the next command/question.
Typically, a process consists of many Auditing Cycles smoothly and rapidly executed such that these individual components are not apparent. For example:
- Auditor: "Recall a problem you have had with another."
- PC: "...hum... well there was this one time..." [PC gives an answer]
- Auditor: "Thank you. Recall a problem you have had with another."
- PC: "OK, once I was..." [PC gives another answer]
- Auditor: "Good. Recall a problem you have had with another."
- PC: "My friend, Joe, used to..." [PC gives another answer] "But hey! All my problems..." [PC states a new realization about himself or life]
Types of Auditing
- Book One - Running chains of engrams as described in Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, directing the preclear to recount an incident containing pain and unconsciousness over and over again, and if that is not erasing the incident, asking for an earlier/similar (E/S) incident to run. Once the earliest incident ("Basic on the chain"), has been processed the whole chain evaporates.
- Standard Dianetics (made obsolete by NED) - A formalized method of running engram chains developed in 1969.
- New Era Dianetics (N.E.D.) - Refinements made to Standard Dianetics to accelerate the selection of incidents and the creation of 'Rundowns' or packages of processes to address specific areas of aberration.
- Objective - look or touch the physical universe processes. These vary from the complex to a simple Locational: "Look at that wall. Good. Look at that floor. Thank you. Look at that door. Good..."
- Rudiments - processes to get the Preclear to be in-session.
- A-R-C Breaks - Upsets, resolved by assessing the component of ARC broken and the type, taken E/S to EP.
- Present Time Problems - taken E/S to EP.
- Missed Withholds - Secrets that someone else almost found out about, examined and taken E/S to EP.
- Assists - processes to help a person with short term upsets, injuries or intoxication.
- Flows - many processes have variations based on the four flows.
- Flow 1: others to self
- Flow 2: self to others
- Flow 3: others to others
- Flow 0: self to self
- Repetitive Command - A single or a series of questions asked and answered over and over until the EP is achieved.
- Security Checking - A formalized confessional procedure used with lists of pointed questions asking for transgressions the PC has committed. The thorough examination of such events restores the PC's responsibility in that area.
- Listing and Nulling: the asking of a "Who or What" question, then dealing with the singular right answer.
- False Purpose Rundown - An expansion of Security Checking that drills down to find and blow away the reason the PC committed the transgressions in the first place.
- Audited NOTS (N.E.D. for OTs)
- OT Levels
- Solo NOTS (N.E.D. for OTs)
From 1949 to 1986, Hubbard devised and continually refined a cornucopia of processes, techniques, and jargon surrounding the auditing process.
Although in the early days it was common and accepted to audit without E-meters, the E-meter was reintroduced in January 1958. "Coffee Shop Auditing" was common in the 1950s, in 1971 Hubbard derogatorily denounced "coffee shop auditing" and dismissed it as "meterless fool-around, mostly by students". Today the E-meter is indispensable in Scientology, and most auditing terminology refers specifically to E-meter usage and behavior of the needle on its readout. However, the E-meter is not used with "book auditing". Any two people can each study a book and decide to "co-audit", that is, take turns being an auditor or preclear.
- Age Flash. In an "Age Flash", the auditor tells the PC (preclear) to give the first number that pops into his head when the auditor snaps his fingers.
- ARC Break Assessment. The auditor reads a list of "ARC Breaks" (Upsets) the PC could potentially have. As he reads the list, he watches the needle for reactions. When a serious ARC Break is hit upon, the needle fluctuation "may be dirty, stuck or sticky, but may also give the appearance of floating" between 2.0 and 3.0. (see "Floating Needle".)
- Automaticity. When a "very rapid machine-gun fire outflow of answers" comes out of the PC during auditing.
- Buttered All Over the Universe. This term has been used in two distinctly different contexts. One is for a PC during auditing who gets confused about remote viewpoints and thinks he is anywhere and everywhere at once. The other refers to a thetan who, unknowingly, really is in contact with many different points throughout the universe.
- Cognition A "Cog" is the action of the preclear suddenly realizing something about himself or life, it is a "Wow - Now I understand...
- Communication Lag. A pronounced delay between the asking of a question and getting the answer. According to Hubbard, testing a person's communication lag is "the most important method of telling whether a person is sick or well. A person who answers quickly and rationally is in much better condition than a person who answers after a long consideration". In Narconon, drills are done to reduce or eliminate one's communication lag.
- Dead Thetan. A total lack of E-meter reaction. Can either mean that the thetan is refusing to acknowledge the process or that he thinks of himself as being dead and thus fails to influence the E-meter. This lack of E-meter reaction is written down as an "X" in the preclear folder.
- Dirty Needle. The needle "jerks, tips, dances, halts, is stuck, or has any random action on it with the auditor sitting looking at it doing nothing".
- Fall. The needle sways to the right, as opposed to a "Rise", which would be to the left. Also called a drop, a dip, or a register.
- Floating Needle. Originally defined as an unexplained hovering of the needle between 2.0 and 3.0, with the same speed to the left as to the right. May be a sign of a cognition, whether the PC voices it or not. In October 2000 a floating needle was redefined as "a rhythmic sweep of the dial at a slow, even pace of the needle" that could even exceed the parameters of the dial and not just be confined to the 2.0-3.0 range. This alteration has caused some controversy among some auditors.
- In Session. When a preclear is willing to communicate with the auditor and has his attention on his own case he is 'in session'. Any deviation from this condition reduces the effectiveness of any therapy.
- Instant Rudiment Read. A needle reaction before the auditor has finished the question. This occurs when the PC has either anticipated the next words in the auditor's sentence, or when one of the words in the sentence must be handled on their own for whatever reason.
- Mock-Up or "Mockup". The act of creating a mental picture, which, though technically imaginary, is also "a self-created object which exists as itself or symbolizes some object in the MEST universe. It is a thing which one can be. The preclear is often asked to do mockups during auditing, and Hubbard has claimed that these mental mockups can produce verifiable physical manifestations such as increasing body weight.
- Mood Drills. In 1975, Hubbard instituted "Mood Drills" in which the auditor would rehearse auditing Training Routines TR1 through TR4 over and over, each time done in the mood and style befitting each different level on the Tone Scale. This can be especially challenging, as Hubbard noted wryly: "Lots of laughs doing it really. Doing TRs as a dead auditor is pretty tricky." The purpose of the drills are to keep the auditor aware of how his own personal mood and demeanor can improperly have an effect on auditing sessions.
- Muzzled Auditing. While some forms of auditing require a certain amount of chattiness and conversation, for the most part a "muzzled" approach is preferred, in which the auditor says two things and two things only: giving the command/question and acknowledging the answer with "thank you". In 1972, Hubbard said stating the "model session patter" in this manner "always gets the best results". In some forms of muzzled auditing, a non-sequitur answer is to be ignored or simply nodded to, with the question then asked again. In others, the auditor says the word "flunk" and re-asks the question. To help enforce Hubbard's "model session patter", David Miscavige ordered Patter drills be instituted to help student auditors memorize it. Some, such as former Scientologist Robert Dam, have criticized this method.
- Murder Routine. A colloquial term among auditors for a simple way to trick the preclear into admitting overts (well-known counter-survival acts) and withholds (hidden counter-survival acts). The name comes from the classic example of asking the PC if they've murdered their wife, to which the PC may respond "oh no! I only cheated on her! Although not officially issued as Standard Tech until 1974, Hubbard says he began using this trick in 1961 while auditing in South Africa.
- Needle Pattern. Certain people may have their own "Needle pattern" reaction on the E-meter which is chronic and constant, even when both they and the auditor are saying and doing nothing.
- Restimulation. Like a 'flashback' of sorts, a PC may find engrams for forgotten and buried incidents or implants "restimulated" and re-experienced.
- Rise. The opposite of a "Fall". The needle sways to the left instead of the right.
- Rocket Read. A needle reaction "characterized by a spurted, accelerated beginning... it looks like something taking off, like being shot... its other characteristic is a curled end.
- Rock Slam. When the needle slams back and forth in a "crazy irregular slashing motion". In 1962, Hubbard stated it "indicates a fight, an effort to individuate, an extreme games condition". By 1978, he had decreed that a rock slam indicated a hidden evil intention toward the subject of questioning, which meant that in response to questions about the Scientology organization, it indicated an evil intention toward the Church itself. Within the Sea Org, this was once grounds for assignment to the Rehabilitation Project Force.
- Rundown. "A series of steps which are auditing actions and processes designed to handle a specific aspect of a case and which have a known end phenomena.
- Straightwire. The PC is asked to mentally imagine, or "mock up", a line being strung between themselves and an event in the past. Says Hubbard, "the auditor is directing the memory of the preclear and in doing so is stringing wire, much on the order of a telephone line".
- Theta Bop. A rapid (five to ten times a second) dance of the needle. Said to mean "death", "leaving", "don't want to be here" in 1961's E-meter Essentials book and was described as the thetan "vibrating in and out of the body". But by 1968, in The Wall of Fire (OT III), Hubbard revealed that a theta-bop reading was actually caused by Body Thetans trying to exteriorize from your body.
- Tiger Drills. This was originally part of a series of drills where student auditors practiced different reads and different "goals", the idea being that "to be a Tiger" would be a very unlikely goal, and therefore a good challenge for drills. In time it was determined by Hubbard that "to be a Tiger" was especially useful as a drill goal because it was a "null, unmeaningful word" that would not accidentally restimulate any engrams. For a time in the 1960s, this sense of "Tiger" as null led to slang usage among Scientologists to refer to Suppressive persons. This slang meaning seems to have fallen out of usage since Hubbard's death.
- Time Shift. An auditor can take a PC to or through an incident by announcing "It is three minutes later", etc. The auditor doesn't need to wait for those moments to actually elapse in real time. Its purpose is to skirt around the perceived parameters of an incident to make sure the true beginning and true end have been determined.
- Very Good Indicators When the Preclear is smiling, happy, bright eyes, or even laughing he is said to have "VGIs"
The Scientology/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. Although they are represented to practitioners as being private, one documented organizational directive written by Mary Sue Hubbard authorized the use of these folders for internal security purposes. This directive was later canceled because it was supposedly not part of Scientology as written by L. Ron Hubbard. The Guardian's Office itself was disbanded due to claims it had deviated from Church of Scientology policy. Some critics have noted that Scientology's collecting of intensely personal and private information through auditing leaves an adherent vulnerable to potential blackmail should they ever consider leaving the Church.
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 ... for purposes of intimidation and/or harassment". Critics and former members assert that preclear folders have indeed been used for such intimidation and harassment.
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 patient. "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. Many scientology techniques are in fact hypnotic techniques, and Hubbard has not changed their nature by changing their names."
Scientologists have claimed benefits from auditing including improved IQ
, improved ability to communicate, enhanced memory and alleviation of dyslexia
and attention deficit disorder
; however, no scientific studies have verified these claims. Indeed, the aforementioned Anderson report stated that auditing involved a kind of command hypnosis
that could lead to potentially damaging delusional dissociative states. Licensed psychotherapists have alleged that the Church's auditing sessions amount to mental health treatment without a license, but the Church vehemently 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, "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.