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Satter observes that in "keeping with the typical 1950s distrust of emotion, Hubbard promised that Dianetic treatment would release and erase psychosomatic ills and painful emotions, thereby leaving individuals with increased powers of rationality." According to Gallagher and Ashcraft, in contrast to psychotherapy, Hubbard stated that Dianetics "was more accessible to the average person, promised practitioners more immediate progress, and placed them in control of the therapy process." Hubbard's thought was parallel with the trend of humanist psychology at that time, which also came about in the 1950s.

Shortly after the introduction of Dianetics, Hubbard introduced the concept of the "thetan" (or soul) which he claimed to have discovered.

Author Russell Miller argues that Scientology "was a development of undeniable expedience, since it ensured that he would be able to stay in business even if the courts eventually awarded control of Dianetics and its valuable copyrights to ... In 1952, Scientology was organized to put this intended science into practice, and in the same year, Hubbard published a new set of teachings as Scientology, a religious philosophy.

Marco Frenschkowski quotes Hubbard in a letter written in 1953, to show that he never denied that his original approach was not a religious one: “Probably the greatest discovery of Scientology and its most forceful contribution to mankind has been the isolation, description and handling of the human spirit, accomplished in July, 1951, in Phoenix, Arizona.

In April 1938, Hubbard reportedly reacted to a drug used in a dental procedure.

According to his account, this triggered a revelatory near-death experience.

He then recharacterized the subject as a religion and renamed it Scientology, Hubbard describes the etymology of the word Scientology as coming from the Latin word "scio", meaning know or distinguish, and the Greek word “logos”, meaning “the word or outward form by which the inward thought is expressed and made known”. That night, Hubbard ordered his crew to fire 35 depth charges and a number of gun rounds at what he believed were Japanese submarines.

Hubbard writes, “thus, Scientology means knowing about knowing, or science of knowledge”. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986) was the only child of Harry Ross Hubbard, a United States Navy officer, and his wife, Ledora Waterbury. His ship sustained minor damage and three crew were injured.

Sociologists Roy Wallis and Steve Bruce suggest that Dianetics, which set each person as his or her own authority, was about to fail due to its inherent individualism, and that Hubbard started Scientology as a religion to establish himself as the overarching authority.

In August 1945, Hubbard moved into the Pasadena mansion of John "Jack" Whiteside Parsons, an avid occultist and Thelemite, follower of the English ceremonial magician Aleister Crowley and leader of a lodge of Crowley's magical order, Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO).

The stated intent is to free individuals of the influence of past traumas by systematic exposure and removal of the engrams (painful memories) these events have left behind, a process called clearing.

I established, along scientific rather than religious or humanitarian lines that the thing which is the person, the personality, is separable from the body and the mind at will and without causing bodily death or derangement.

(Hubbard 1983: 55).” Hubbard outlined plans for setting up a chain of "Spiritual Guidance Centers" charging customers 0 for twenty-four hours of auditing ("That is real money ... He wrote: I await your reaction on the religion angle.