Page last updated: Aug 29, 2020 @ 7:05 pm

Perhaps no other single concept demonstrates the problem with Scientology as clearly as Ron Hubbard’s definition and approach to addressing the subject of a “problem” itself.

Following his eventual assertion that reality is simply a product of considerations, Hubbard defined a problem as:

Intention versus intention or postulate versus postulate.

Obviously, if someone assumes that reality itself is a product of considerations, then it logically follows that if something doesn’t go one’s way, then there must be someone else interfering with a counter-consideration of some kind (or a counter-intention, counter-postulate). To make matters worse, Hubbard wrapped the definition in his usual thought-entrapment by stating that there is “no other definition” with implications that anyone that says otherwise should be looked at as being basically wrong by default.

Hubbard’s “progression” of delivery style from mild and permissive for the public (book) to “my way is the only way” for Scientology trainees (lecture) and then ultimately onto “my way or else!” in his organizational construct (policy) could be clearly seen through various publications relating to the “problem.” Let’s take a look:

Book for the Public

(1956) The Fundamentals of Thought / Chapter: The Conditions of Existence

Man or any life form in this universe seems to love problems. A problem is more important than freedom. Problems keep up interest. When a man has a problem very thoroughly and can’t solve it, he really has too few problems. He needs more.

The insanity among the idle is a matter of problem scarcity.

A problem is defined as two or more purposes in opposition. Or Intention versus Intention.


Lecture for Students

[14 OCTOBER 1965] 6510C14 SHSBC-431 Briefing of Review Auditors

And it’s just this: postulate-counter-postulate. Postulate versus postulate. That is the definition and the anatomy of a problem. And there is no other definition to a problem.


Policy for General Staff Members


Download (PDF, Unknown)

Hubbard’s provided example of policy application is quite mild, but combined with his further “logic” and policies on “suppression” and “suppressive persons,” such a view can indeed have some dire consequences for individuals adopting them, and for society at large if such views became prevalent over a large segment of human population. [This point will be explored in greater detail on a separate page.]




In the lecture quoted above Hubbard was speaking about a problem in relationship to PTS/SP technology. Here is a more complete section of that lecture that demonstrates Hubbard’s logic on this issue:

[14 OCTOBER 1965] 6510C14 SHSBC-431 Briefing of Review Auditors (selection 15:38 – 32:16 min)

All right, now, let’s take number two, and this is the main thing I want to talk to you about: A rolly coaster equals a suppressive person in that person’s vicinity. In other words, rolly coaster – PTS. If a person rolly coasters, it’s PTS. A PTS is a connection with a suppressive. I’ll give you the exact mechanics of it; I’ll let you sort them out on your own time.

And that’s postulate-counter-postulate is the anatomy of a problem. And this belongs in actual fact at Grade I. And it’s just this: postulate-counter-postulate. Postulate versus postulate. That is the definition and the anatomy of a problem. And there is no other definition to a problem. There can be several counter-postulates; there can be several going out like this, but that makes several problems. The central problem is always postulate-counter-postulate.

So the guy has had a purpose in life and somebody has suppressed it, or a guy has had a purpose over a twenty-four-hour period and somebody suppressed that purpose. In other words, his purpose was his postulate, the other person saying he couldn’t do it was the counter-postulate. Do you follow?

So that is simply the anatomy of a problem and it belongs at Grade I. And there is no other reason for rolly coaster. This is the “no other” data I’m giving you. There just is no other datum.

People don’t rolly coaster because they got into an engram. People don’t rolly coaster because the auditor misread the action. People don’t rolly coaster because his father was a Methodist and has been dead since birth. Do you understand? So don’t, as a Review Auditor, ever fall for two seconds for any other reason for a rolly coaster than postulate-counter-postulate. There isn’t any other reason.

Now, SP is a version of this. It’s a version of a problem and is a specialized kind of problem, and that is what causes the rolly coaster. The individual has run into a postulate-counter- postulate since his last improvement, which makes him a potential trouble source.

Potential trouble source means the case is going to go up and fall down. And he’s a trouble source because he’s going to get upset. He’s a trouble source because he’s going to make trouble. And he’s a trouble for the auditor and he’s trouble for us and he’s trouble for himself and so forth. And he really does make trouble. That’s very carefully named.

The SP isn’t making trouble. See? He’s just poisoning the whole universe, you know? But it isn’t – he isn’t making trouble; he’s just going squash! Do you see? Anybody says anything to him – squash! You see? It’s the PTS who makes the trouble. Do you see this?

Now, this is the whole backbone of ethics. And there isn’t anything more to ethics than the – this basic purpose of ethics is ethics exists to get tech in. If you ever see ethics being put in that throws tech out, then ethics is being used in a suppressive fashion. Now, the only way that you could use ethics suppressively is use it in such a way that it threw tech out. Because the purpose of ethics is to put tech in. If you’ve got ethics, you can get tech in. You carry on ethics long enough to get tech in, and that’s all the longer you carry it. But in the process of getting tech in you very often will run into a rolly coaster – and that is, a case worsens after it improves, as easily as that.

The case did all right in yesterday’s session; comes to this session, falls on his head. That’s a rolly coaster. And there’s no other cause for it, see, than postulate-counter-postulate.

You’ll see a process come out and an HCOB come out on a process that will be called “Search and Discovery.” And Search and Discovery is just to find the purposes – to find the suppressions the person has had in life. And one of the broad ways of finding it, unfortunately, will make a Problems Release in minutes. You say, “What has been your main purpose in life? Thank you very much. Who opposed it? Thank you very much.” And in a large percentage of cases, Problems Release! Do you understand? It’d be an interesting percentage on which this would occur.

Of course, the person doesn’t know about problems – they aren’t cleaned up about problems worth a nickel – but they’ll go release on the subject of problems, and they’ll stay released. And now you try to run problems on them and you’re going to get a high TA. Do you see? They’ve solved all their problems.

The way you solve a problem is to find the source of the counter-postulate. You find the source of the counter-postulate; that’s the way to solve a problem. Now, man gets solutions to problems. In other words, he leaves the counter-postulate and his own postulate in place, not knowing the definition of a problem, and then solves the resulting collision, as in dialectic materialism.

You want to read that some day; that’s very interesting. It’s the anatomy of a problem gone mad. “Any idea is the product of two forces” is the backbone of it. It’s quite interesting. It’s the – it’s a current philosophy. But in actual fact, that’s based on a problem. Two forces going together make a squash, so therefore, that’s it!

Now, if you want to really solve a problem and see it solve in the physical universe and have an awful lot of fun with it, then you had certainly better look over the whole perimeter of counter-postulates: What is the source of the problem?

And if you hit it right – if you’ve got a problem with Joe Jinks and he’s in Toronto, Canada – if you hit it right, don’t be surprised if you get a phone call from Joe Jinks telling you the problem is all solved. It happens, routinely and constantly. And I had to run down what process was it that was causing this phenomena, because we ran into the problem very often.

We’d run Problems of Comparable Magnitude on a pc in an HGC or an ACC or something like this, and the next thing you know their long-lost husband or something, that they’d had such awful problems with, is very sweetness and light. Do you follow? You see, the problem evaporated. But the funny part of it is, in the physical universe it’ll also evaporate for the other person sometimes. So that’s quite interesting. And that’s very interesting for you to know that in connection with ethics. Because when you see that the disconnection, or the handle or disconnect, causes an enormous problem for the person or for the other person from whom they are disconnecting, you have invariably found the wrong person.

Now, Ethics… The policy letter that moved them over to “Suppressives must be located by Review” – and that’s where you’re coming in and that’s why I’m talking to you. We’re not permitting Ethics, anymore, to locate suppressive persons. They’re going to be located by Review Auditors in regular session. Do you see that? Because Ethics just flubs it too often. They’re not equipped for auditing and so forth. They’re interested in justice and that sort of thing, and they don’t go ahead with it and do a good job of it. So therefore, anybody walking into Ethics who is PTS, who has rolly coastered and so forth, is sent to Review. And that is the route.

Actually, an HGC auditor should send directly to Review and then Review sends to Ethics. Ethics has to have some notation of this. That’s the only reason they go to Ethics after Review. Do you see? Because when they’re sent to… when somebody says, “Well, this person is PTS,” and so forth, you could send them directly, don’t you see, over to Ethics and then to Review in all cases. But I know very well that if one of your Examiners was to find a PTS, and know very well that that Examiner would inevitably and invariably send that person directly to Review, wouldn’t send them to Ethics. Why? Review is closer. Do you see?

So after the person has been found to rolly coaster and then Review cleans up the SP, why, they can go over to Ethics and get a statement of handle or declare, don’t you see? But it’s all cleaned up. They’re not any longer – they’re not even vaguely worried about it. Do you see?

Now, that’s the way it’s going to be handled, and that’s the change of route. So therefore I’m briefing you. And the reason why I’ve called you in is just to give you this datum and just tell you that although around you will hear occasionally that there are other reasons for rolly coaster, that’s for the birds! That’s not true. There are no other reasons for rolly coaster than PTS. And PTS is the manifestation of a postulate-counter-postulate.

Now, you notice that I haven’t said how long. You know, the person didn’t have to be a PTS for two and a half years before he became up to Review’s attention – I mean, up to the attention of Ethics. He might have only been PTS for twenty minutes. And it’s very interesting that you can overrun a person who is trying to tell you he’s already gone Release and the person becomes a PTS. Who’s the suppressive?

Audience: The auditor.

Isn’t that interesting? Of course, the suppressive – it’s merely a suppressive action. You don’t declare the auditor a suppressive person. Do you follow? You don’t have to then go through the endless action of “the Pc must separate from the auditor and disconnect and…” That’s a lot of balderdash, isn’t it? But still, the mechanics are there: rolly coaster – PTS. Well, just who? Where? How? What? And that’s your job in Review.

Now, you can use listing. You can list the person’s purposes: “What purpose of yours has been thwarted?” I mean, unfortunately, in handling this you’re going to have some Releases on your hands. But watch it! Get them declared when they occur; that’s a Grade I Release.

Now, don’t let somebody shake you off of this datum that a rolly coaster is a PTS. And the definition of PTS is: connected to a suppressive person or action. See? Person or action. A guy can inadvertently suppress something. You’re driving down the road and somebody steps out in front of your car – believe me, when you hit him, you suppressed him. You certainly didn’t intend to and that doesn’t make you a suppressive person. Do you follow?

So just looking at this from straight technical mechanics and so forth: a rolly coaster – PTS. Now, if that PTS is not handled the person does become, then, a trouble source. And “PTS” – very well named. You overrun somebody, oh boy, you’re going to have trouble. They’re going to make trouble. There’s going to be all kinds of trouble.

What’s your main consideration, then, in handling anybody sent to you from Ethics or from the HGC, in the review? Your main consideration is, promptly and immediately, this person has been up against a suppressive action or person. And don’t go nutty and try to do ARC breaks on him and sympathize with how badly they’ve been hit. Nothing like that. All you’ve got to do is find the suppressive person. Now, the person may only have been suppressive for five minutes. Or the person might have been suppressive for a lifetime. But you find the right one and instantly the good indicators will come in, and watch it, because you’re liable to make a Release right at that moment.

Now, also watch it that by getting off the SP you rehabilitate the state of Release which was being overrun. You see now, the person came in to you with a high TA, and all of a sudden you recognize the person is PTS, also. Do you follow? Person felt better, now feels worse. Well, your action is to locate the suppressive action or person, of course. But you might have the high TA because the person has had an overrun on a process. But it’s still a suppressive action. See, completely aside from rehabilitating the process, what have you got?

Now, a suppressive person is not somebody with horns; it’s a person who has had a counter-postulate to the PC you are handling. But a suppressive person who is routinely suppressive in life, invalidative of Scientology and trying to keep people from getting well and that sort of thing, is a social menace.

Now, he’s the problem of Ethics. Your problem in Review is to find him. And if it’s just a momentary suppression and so forth, you don’t go declaring somebody suppressive because he accidentally overran the PC, and the PC says, “I feel good now and I don’t want to answer any more auditing commands.”

“Well, you’d better answer this next auditing command.”

“Well, I don’t want to answer any more auditing commands.”

“Well, you’d better answer this next auditing command.”

The person will now behave to some degree on the basis of PTS. You not only have got an overrun release, or something of that sort is lurking around there, but you in addition to that have a PTS. Do you follow? So both of those actions would have to be handled. But please, please don’t let somebody shake this datum for you. Because when they can’t find the SP by any means, then they will drop the datum. Do you see? They drop the datum, huh? They say, “Well, all right. It was because he ate bananas last night.”

Well, I’m afraid that somebody in auditing wouldn’t rolly coaster if he just ate some bad bananas last night. He’s not roller coastering in auditing. So he doesn’t feel so well this morning; well, he knows damn well what did it. If he wanted to – if you wanted to be an absolute perfectionist on this, you could say, “Well, who insisted you eat the bananas?” Don’t you see? And probably at that moment, why, his tummyache would go [snaps fingers].

But that sort of thing is too minor. We’re talking about a real honest-to-God rolly coaster, see? The person was doing fine in the – audited in London, doing fine; appears here, doing badly. Oh boy, that’s a rolly coaster. He signs all over the wall, that’s rolly coaster. Don’t you see? Did all right last week; isn’t doing well this week. Well, that’s a rolly coaster. And always there is a suppressive action or person – invariably, inevitably. And Review’s job, then, when somebody sends to Review a PTS, is to find that.

Now, Review also, as I told you, might find also an overrun – may find two things while looking for one. And the only mistake you can make is, two things being present, find the wrong one and say the person is now okay, when the other one still has to be handled. See, you’d handle both of them. If two things are wrong, you’d handle both things – if the person has had an overrun and is also a PTS from some other course – or source.

PTS – potential trouble source; SP – suppressive person
Grade I – a level of Scientology processing that addresses Problems and is said to result in an “ability to recognize the source of problems and make them vanish.”
HGC – Hubbard Guidance Center – a department for auditing
ACC – Advanced Clinical Course – a series of courses Hubbard organized for auditors especially after releasing new discoveries.
Overrun – continuing to run some action such as an auditing process in Scientology beyond the point of a successful completion (in Scientology indicated by a “floating needle” on an e-meter and/or VGI’s – very good indicators – preclear happy and having cognitions). Overrun often results in a worsening condition.
High TA – a type of a read on an e-meter that indicates a certain state of preclear’s mind – in this case Hubbard says it indicates an overrun. TA stands for Tone Arm (on a dial of an e-meter).

Note: a part of this lecture was later turned into HCOB 14 Oct. 65 Potential Trouble Source, Mechanics Of.

Listening to the lecture above, it is not that difficult to see how a Scientology practitioner could easily fall into a rigid mindset of: “Scientology works! It is the only way. And anyone who asserts otherwise is an enemy and an SP.” This is a direct result of Hubbard’s “delivery style” even if he DOES provide some effective methods that can yield good results.

The general mechanics of psychological entrapment in Scientology could be laid out as follows:

1) Hubbard enforces some “truth” which in some cases could be false, misleading or incomplete.

2) He then invalidates any potential attempt at an alternative explanation, and

3) He colors any criticism or deviation as an enemy action of some kind.

4) But he does provide processing that may deliver some beneficial results which may appear to validate the three above.

So with respect to a problem, Hubbard enforces an incomplete or a very narrow definition of a problem. He then provides a process that can in fact deliver miraculous results. Literally, if you sat someone down and asked them: “What has been your main purpose in life? Thank you very much. Who opposed it? Thank you very much.” an individual could experience a tremendous sense of recovery and surge of life energy due to a newly recovered purpose, if it became suppressed in some way by another.

Despite this potential benefit on one side, Hubbard’s narrow definition of a problem, stemming from his view of reality as being a product of considerations, can actually lead to more problems (in the form of actual unwanted conditions and situations) and bad “solutions” down the road – as practitioners are now forced to view any problem in life through a “postulate-counter-postulate” paradigm. [concept { ANALYTICAL PARADIGM }]

It is not surprising then that Scientology groups and the organization at large are often plagued with “witch-hunts” and finger-pointing. Combined with authoritarian policy (such as the one cited above on ETHICS), this “problems resolution methodology” makes Scientologists prone to looking for someone to blame and attack as a source of “counter-intention” or “counter-postulate” that supposedly brings about an unwanted condition instead of simply looking at and handling a problematic existence directly such as an outdated computer program that needs an upgrade, cultural limitations in an area of operation that need to be addressed, physical limitations of a human body and other “actualities” that may get in the way of bringing about a desired outcome within a desired time frame.

In any given situation there could be many problematic existences that would need to be identified and addressed, not just some individuals’ “counter-intentions.”

In addition, stories of former Scientology staff members are abundant with accounts of management setting insane quotas and then attacking anyone for expressing potentially valid reasoning why such targets cannot be met and arguing for a more realistic approach. Instead of consulting people with lots of experience and insight who can come up with more realistic evaluation of the existing scene and solutions to it, such people can be framed as being a source of “counter-intention” and thrown out of the loop per Hubbard’s own recommendations.


Page initially published on October 10th, 2014
Moved to June 20, 2020

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *