Very briefly, the book proposes the idea that everyone unconsciously carries a physical pain or painful emotions that must be repressed in order to achieve self-fulfilment. The rest of the book gives you tips to do it.
Dianetics has examples of the following tropes:
- All Psychology Is Freudian: Dianetics has strong influence from the works of Sigmund Freud and the importance of the unconscious in directing our everyday behaviour, and repressed thoughts being the basic reason for your mental instability. Though Hubbard would later deny this as part of his tirade against psychology.
- Arc Words: Survive!
- Artistic License Medicine: Let's just say that most of Hubbard's theories about mental health were first rejected by the scientific/medical community in the 1950s, and they haven't garnered any more acceptance to this day, and leave it at that.
- Cure Your Gays: The Church disputes this, however. One spokesperson claims that homophobic bigots may have edited in all the anti-gay content.
- Door Stopper: Yes, its a long book.
- Flame Bait: As typical for anything to do with Scientology.
- Footnote Fever: Lots of them, explaining terminology. It quickly reaches Viewers Are Morons territory.
- Lava Adds Awesome: The cover and television commercials for the book usually feature an erupting volcano. There's no official explanation for what a volcano has to do with Dianetics, but volcanoes do factor into the Scientology story of Xenu.
- Orwellian Retcon: Hubbard re-edited the book several times as the years passed. The book you can find today is very different from the original published in 1950. The Orwellian part comes in when practitioners were told to go out and clear away any older "editions" they could find when a new "edition" came out, thus making that newest edition the only edition.