Dennis Stephens on Insanity and Sensation

Stephens regarded his discovery of insanity points, or impossibility points, as the most contentious part of his work and hesitated to publish it. But since this material has become widely available as audio files and Pete McLaughlin’s meticulous word-by-word transcriptions, I feel justified in including it in my series of edited transcriptions. Here is his Insanity Series of five recorded talks as three pdf files:

1. Insanity

This is a new transcription of two taped talks by Dennis Stephens, combined as a single article.

Insanity Point Part 1, 30 June 1994
Insanity Point Part 2, 3 July 1994

If we accept as a fundamental truth that a thing either exists or it doesn’t, then a person is insane when they believe that a thing can both exist and not exist simultaneously. To cross the line into that state is to lose all certainties. We don’t like to think about it, but everyone has experienced it at some time if only for a passing instant. The fear of going insane may be the basis of all irrational fears: no wonder it has been hard to take a clear look at the subject of insanity.

In Stephens’ view, insanity is a consequence of a compulsive game, which limits the classes remaining open to a player. They then go insane when they believe that they have no class to go into if they are overwhelmed in games play. In terms of Boolean algebra, insanity is a violation of the law that x (1 – x) = 0, in other words nothing can simultaneously exist and not exist. Stephens develops this mathematical argument to demonstrate the twin impossibility points, or IPs, in every games matrix.

There were pointers in dianetics and scientology toward the concept of an IP, but in the absence of a mathematical approach that concept was not grasped. Hubbard (1956) reconsidered dianetics in terms of games theory, stating that engrams contain something more important than the pain and unconsciousness by which he originally defined them. That something was the moment of shock at realising that one had been overwhelmed, defeated. The winner is convinced that he has overwhelmed the opposing player. The loser is convinced that he has been overwhelmed. Krause (2009) developed a form of dianetics that addressed this conviction as an incident within an incident to recover the losing postulate that the person had made at that point.

You can download the 202Kb pdf file from this link.

2. Sensation

This is a new transcription of two taped talks by Dennis Stephens, combined as a single article.

Sensations, 27 July 1994
Sensations, The E-Meter, 28 July 1994

In these talks, Stephens proposed that sensation is generated between opposing postulates (also called goals). For example, the sensation of sight is generated where the goal ‘see’ is baulked by ‘not be seen’ and inverts into ‘not see’. As Gerbode points out, if we had an unlimited power of vision that could see for an infinite distance through any obstacle in any direction, then there would be nothing to see as everything would be transparent. Our sensations are consistent because they are generated by a consistent system of postulates. From this we infer the existence of a universe of consistent objects.

The mass (resistance to movement) that we experience in this universe comes from the impossibility points where opposed goals have reached a stalemate. This stalemate may be temporary in the view of the game players, a kind of rolling stop, but Stephens realised that from the viewpoint of somebody sitting on that impossibility point time actually has stopped, because space and time are generated by game play.

Thus, an IP turns out to be something far more fundamental than a nasty mental glitch that occurs when our games become compulsive and dysfunctional. The psychological phenomenon of insanity is the clue that leads to an understanding of how virtual universes of experiences are generated, literally from nothing. If anyone wants to explore this idea further I recommend Spencer-Brown’s book Laws of Form, where he discussed imaginary Boolean values that are simultaneously ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

Stephens also explains the range of phenomena that are observable with an electropsychometer in terms of his games theory and in particular the closure or expansion of distance between the person and the IP on their side of the game.

You can download the 162Kb pdf file from this link.

3. Postulates, Self and the Obsessive IP

This is a new transcription of a talk by Dennis Stephens, taped in August 1994. A person involved in a game comes to associate the sensation of winning, or the thrill of the game, with their opponent’s IP. On the other hand they avoid looking at their own IP, which is just a dead spot of defeat. In playing a game we are actually trying to overwhelm the opponent, or drive them through their IP. Such phenomena as near-suicidal risk taking and sexual kinks become understandable in the light of this insight.

You can download the 90Kb pdf file from this link.

The original audio recordings of these five talks can be found online at Tromology and TROM World.



Gerbode, F.A. (2013) Beyond Psychology: An Introduction to Metapsychology. 4th edition (Applied Metapsychology International Press).

Hubbard, L.R. (1956) Scientology’s Most Workable Process. Professional Auditors Bulletin 80, 17 April 1956.

Krause, R. (2009) Routine Three Expanded, a “new” form of Dianetics. International Viewpoints 103: 27-35.

Spencer-Brown, G. (1969) Laws of Form. (Allen & Unwin: London).


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