The Christian Right is Brainwashing People I Love

Currently, one of my favorite blogs is the progressive Christian pastor John Pavlovitz’ blog Stuff That Needs to Be Said.     There have been so many times I’ve wanted to reblog his wonderful, very readable articles, but alas, his blog features no reblog button.   Therefore, I will just provide the link to his latest.

There is so much truth in his posts.  Every time I read them, I find myself nodding vigorously in agreement.  There is so much I can relate to in them.

The Christian Right has indeed become quite terrifying, as they have weaponized a religion that was intended by its founder to be peaceful and based on love in order to achieve an evil and heartless political agenda based on power and greed.    It has become more like a cult than a religion, but sadly, a lot of people are buying it.

The Christian Right Is Radicalizing White People I Love

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The sick cult of Trumpism.

trumprally

I must have a stomach made of iron, because last night I actually was able to watch the Trump Rally in Pensacola, FL without vomiting.   I have never seen one of these things before in its entirety, and it was eye opening and sickening.   I’m not going to bother posting the video of it here.  If you really want to watch it, it’s on Youtube.

Trump holds his hate-rallies to garner necessary narcissistic supply and the adulation and worship he craves, but this one had a secondary purpose — to drum up support for Bible thumping pedophile and sexual abuser Roy Moore.  I believe Moore is every bit as much of a narcissistic sociopath as Trump, and birds of a feather do tend to stick together.  Between Steve Bannon, Roy Moore, and Trump himself, these morally bankrupt despots are ready to take over the GOP and remake America into their hateful, racist, homophobic, sexist, and nationalistic image and call it “good.”

Trump’s speech, as always, was full of generalizations, baldfaced lies, self-congratulatory nonsense, empty slogans, demonizations of the liberal press, and smearing of people he dislikes or that threaten him, all while puffing out his chest and clapping for himself.  As usual, he said nothing the least bit inspiring, wise, compassionate, or intelligent.  His audience soaked it all in.

I have never seen another president demonize the opposing political party the way he does.    He called the Democrats “evil, bad people” who are actively trying to obstruct what he is doing (like, maybe they are trying to save America from becoming Nazi Germany 2.0 or Mussolini’s Italy?). He even accused liberals of trying to set up an authoritarian regime that would suppress free speech and freedom of religion (yes, really).     This is the way you talk about ISIS or maybe North Korea, not your fellow Americans.   It’s the kind of rhetoric banana republic dictatorships use to divide and conquer, while disguising their corruption and moral bankruptcy by making themselves blameless.   It’s a tactic utterly alien to any working democracy.

It’s not much of a stretch to go from “they are evil, bad people” to “they aren’t human,” and “they should be killed.”   Despotic leaders throughout history have justified genocide and torture by dehumanizing their opposition.   I fully expect that if something isn’t done to stop him soon, liberal journalists, protesters, and others who disagree with Trump and his cult will be jailed.  Our First Amendment is hanging in the balance.

Trump’s speech was also a great example of how malignant narcissists use projection and blame-shifting to manipulate.   To anyone familiar with NPD, it’s easy to see that whenever Trump smears others, he is really talking about himself.   He attributes those negative qualities to others that actually belong to him.   It’s almost funny once you realize what he’s doing, and once you see it, you can’t unsee it.   He’s really smearing himself, although most likely he’s not consciously aware he is.

waltermartin

Even more disturbing than Trump’s hate-filled, despotic speech, was the spectacle of the supporters attending.   They really remind me of a cult, and in fact they are one.    Cult leaders can convince their followers that the most heinous or amoral acts are somehow A-OK if they benefit the cult’s or leader’s goals.   Charles Manson was great at this sort of manipulation.    L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, was also well-versed in it.   The Children of God “Christian” cult was a less famous example.  Cult leaders throughout history have been able to brainwash and control their followers.  They can convince their flock to believe anything, no matter how insane or wrong, using mind control and manipulation techniques.

Cult leaders can also convince their followers to commit evil or amoral acts, often against what the cult leader believes is their opposition.  L. Ron Hubbard did this by calling people critical of Scientology “Suppressive Persons (SPs) or “low tone”  and followers who were in contact with them “Potential Trouble Sources.”  Hubbard required his followers to do the same, which included  cutting ties with concerned family members who dared to criticize Scientology or their family member’s involvement in it, or shun other Scientologists who were “ethics” problems.    Trump (and his sycophants) do the same thing by calling liberals, Democrats, and leftist and even centrist media “evil” and “enemies of America,” when in reality it’s Trump and his lackeys and enablers who are the ones destroying America.

The rally started off fairly quiet, but like obsessed sports fans, once Trump got going and the attendants got sucked into his unhinged, hysterical monologue,  the audience got louder and their demeanor more fevered.  They cheered him on and chanted “MAGA! MAGA! MAGA!,” “DRAIN THE SWAMP!” and “Lock them up!”  They waved American flags and MAGA signs.  They seemed like more like fans at a rock concert than a political rally.

At the same time I was watching the live-stream video, there was a box to the side for comments.   Almost all those watching were Trump (and Roy Moore) supporters.  The comments were interesting and very reminiscent of those of young adolescents with a crush on some teen idol, obsessed sports fans, or cult members.   There was no depth or evidence of critical thinking or knowledge of politics in these comments — most were either repetitions of what Trump just said, strings of emoji hearts or clapping hands, or mindless phrases like “MAGA!” usually punctuated with American flags and hearts.  There were also comments like, “ROCK STAR!,”  “Trump rocks!,” “DESTROY THE LIBTARDS!,” and “DRAIN THE SWAMP!”   Strangest of all (but completely expected) were religiously tinged comments like “God’s Avenger!,” “KING CYRUS!” (many Evangelicals believe Trump is King Cyrus from the Bible) , “God’s right hand man!” and “THANK YOU JESUS FOR TRUMP!”   I even saw one that said “Trump = Emperor God King!” These comments were often punctuated with strings of emoji crosses or praying hands.  Most disgusting of all were comments that celebrated Trump’s spiritual or even physical beauty:   “His hair is made of Spun Gold!” and “Trump’s heart is so pure!” and “Trump always tells the truth!”

Yuck.

After watching the rally, I’m more convinced than ever Trumpism is not a political movement, but a cult.

 

PTSD & the Blindness of the Just Man

A friend wrote this thought provoking post (closely related to the one I posted earlier today). Comments are disabled; please leave comments on the original post.

Unraveled and the Birth of Joy

blog image YodaLove will find a way where wolves fear to thread.
– Lord Byron

Recently I took part in a research study regarding OIF and OEF veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, that was designed to examine how a vet’s PTSD affects present and past relationship partners.  Psychiatrists are discovering that the failure by our government to provide effective deprogramming to combat vets, and their resulting emotional suppression, disregulation, and too often infantile personality syndrome, is now resulting in widespread PTSD in “dependents” (wives, husbands, and children) and their romantic partners as well.

Seems incorrectly treated (or untreated) PTSD in combat vets is contagious.

The shameful truth is, this country keeps its soldiers ready for deployment – by medical suppression of symptoms and emotions (utilizing anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, and stigma propaganda) but largely does not make us of trigger normalization and cognitive therapy, known world-wide to help heal PTSD, and necessary for a…

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Why Scientology auditing is not at all like traditional psychotherapy (part 2).

cartman_emeter

Credit: “Trapped in the Closet,” South Park episode about Scientology.

 

In Part One, I wrote about how Scientology and the related Dianetics (a “therapy” technique started by science fiction writer L.Ron Hubbard) came into being, and why Scientology is so opposed to psychotherapy or psychiatry and regards Dianetics as a much better “technology” (they actually call it that) to become mentally healthy and happy.

But having had experience with both Dianetic/Scientology auditing (during my two year stint with Scientology back in the late ’70s) and psychotherapy, I’m of the opinion that psychotherapy is much better, in spite of Scientology’s claims to the contrary.

 

The cost of Scientology auditing. 

The first problem (and the most publicized one) with Scientology auditing is the expense.   Psychotherapy can also be expensive, but if you have mental health coverage, you may only have to pay a small copay.   Even if you have no coverage,  many therapists are willing to work with you on a sliding scale.  This is up to the  individual therapist, and some are strict about their fees, but others, like mine, only charge what the client can afford.   For me, that’s $40 a session — or about $160 a month.  That’s not a lot more than my utility bills during the winter months.

Scientology/Dianetic auditing prices, on the other hand, are not set by individual practitioners, but by the Church of Scientology itself.   Most of the proceeds do not go to the auditors (who actually make practically nothing), but directly to the Church.  The prices for auditing are extremely high.  The chart below shows that it costs approximately $8,000 for 12 1/2 hours of auditing (I don’t know how old these prices are, but they may be even higher now).  In comparison, if an average session with a therapist costs $150 (a fairly high going rate), 12 1/2 hours of therapy would come to only about  $1,875.    If you want to pay slightly less (but not by a whole lot and in the end, it might prove even more expensive) there is the “training” route up the Bridge.  Scientology training requires you to sign up for and prepay for a series of courses, in which you and a “twin” (sort of like the buddy system) take turns auditing yourselves to the next level instead of by a trained auditor.  In order to get as many people on the training route as they can (and make new auditors who they don’t have to pay), the first course offered (the HAS, or “communications course”) costs less than $20 at today’s prices.    In fact, pricing for the HAS course (Hubbard Apprentice Scientologist) has hardly changed at all since I took it in 1978.    For that price, you think you are getting quite a bit for your money.  You are trained in “Training Routines” (TR’s) which are fun and seem to help you improve your ability to confront other people and communicate with them, but are actually early indoctrination (brainwashing) procedures.

Very quickly though, the prices for both training and auditing become exorbitant.  You will be subjected to a very hard sell by a recruiter, and shamed or even threatened if you refuse (or simply can’t afford to) take the next level to “spiritual enlightenment.”  You will be told to take out loans you can never afford to pay back or to manipulate or lie to family members or friends to get the money.  Or you can “work off” the expense by becoming a slave to Scientology and devoting all your spare time to it.

In addition to the extremely high prices, there are books, checklists, and tapes you are required to purchase–and none of them are cheap.

Here is a partial list of prices (this is only for one part of the Bridge and does not include books and course materials):

scientologyprice

Time theft.

In addition to money, you are also required to sacrifice a significant chunk of your time if you are serious about moving up the Bridge, whether you’ve taken the training or auditing route.   Courses can run 4 – 5 hours a night, 5 or 6 days a week, or even more than that, and straight up auditing can eat up even more of your time, since an auditor is not allowed to end a session until a “preclear” (person getting auditing who is not yet Clear) has a “cognition” (realization).    If a preclear is “enturbulated” (triggered), an auditor cannot end a session, even if it means a session must run all night, or for hours at a stretch.  No breaks are allowed for either the auditor or the preclear, not even to eat or sleep.

Also, if you don’t achieve the expected End Phenomena (EP) in the amount of time set for that particular auditing procedure, you will be required to hand over even more money for additional hours of auditing to achieve that particular EP.   For example, the first step up the bridge on the auditing route is an auditing procedure called “Life Repair,” which is supposed to bring a preclear to the EP within 12 1/2 hours.    But because people aren’t machines, some people may take more time to get to the EP, and will be required to pay for additional hours of auditing to achieve the EP, at non-discounted prices.

Such a time allotment makes it impossible for people to work at another job or have a life outside Scientology,  and this is, of course, intentional.  With most of your time and all your money now devoted to the Church of Scientology, they effectively own you, which makes indoctrinating you and reprogramming your mind all that much easier.

One-size-fits-all. 

scientology_auditing

It doesn’t seem coincidental that Scientology auditing is called “processing” and the auditing procedures are called “tech.”   People are treated as if they’re machines.  A one-size-fits-all method is employed, with the auditor basically using a script of set commands or questions invented by Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, rather than a free give and take exchange of experiences and memories that is used in traditional psychotherapy.  No variations or changes to the script are allowed.  If an auditor makes any changes to the “tech” at all or tries to adapt it to the individual, they are considered to be “squirrelling,” which is one of the worst “sins” a Scientologist can commit.

The EP is also a set “cognition” that cannot vary.  In the early stages of “processing,” the EP is usually something related to needing more auditing or training to achieve enlightenment.  For example, in Life Repair, the expected EP is “preclear realizes that Scientology works.”  While the preclear may claim to feel somewhat better, their life is far from repaired — and may be about to get a whole lot worse!   In ARC Straightwire auditing, the expected EP is “realizes they will not get any worse.”  (When will they get any better? That requires more auditing, of course!)  But the auditor isn’t allowed to give the preclear any hints of what the cognition needs to be.     Obviously, failing to get to that cognition will require many additional hours of auditing, which allows Scientology to completely exploit you financially, with few actual results being achieved.  It’s a mindfuck of epic proportions.

e_meter

The preclear is connected to an E-meter (a lie detector type of device that measures galvanic skin response) at the end of each session, and cannot be “passed” until they get a “floating needle.”  If they do not get a floating needle, the auditor and preclear must immediately resume the session until a floating needle is achieved.  This can be frustrating and exhausting for both.   In my last post about my own experience, I described becoming so run down from lack of sleep and hunger that I started crying while auditing a fellow student, and got sent to Ethics and shunned until I fulfilled their Conditions by performing certain actions to get me back in good graces with the church (showing “case” [negative emotions] on post is strictly forbidden).

In traditional psychotherapy, there isn’t a set “cognition” or EP that a patient must achieve.  The end result of therapy is a general improvement in the ability to cope with life and feel better about yourself, not a particular set of words that must be said.  You also can’t pass or fail, because results vary according to the person and the techniques used by the therapist are tailored for that particular individual.   Therapists aren’t reading from a script, as they are in auditing.    There also isn’t a certain amount of time that is set in advance to achieve a particular result, which can cause both preclear and auditor an enormous amount of undue stress.

Lack of qualification requirements.  

In Scientology, if you have the money and time, you can become a “professional auditor” in just a few months of training.   While there are definitely many bad therapists who are not at all suited to be working with patients, they are required to have at least a master’s degree and have spent many hours practicing in simulated sessions before being given the green light to set up practice and work with actual clients.   In Scientology, no degree is required, just a certificate that you passed an auditing class.  An auditor doesn’t even have to be an adult.  In many Scientology families, even children as young as 10 or 11 can audit others after they have passed an auditing course.

Empathy as a liability.

no-empathy2

Empathy is not required; in fact, in Scientology, empathy (Sympathy on the Tone Scale) is considered “low toned” and is associated with someone who is ruled by their reactive mind.   Auditing and training removes any trace of empathy or concern for others. Any show of empathy or sympathy for a preclear can result in a dreaded trip to “Ethics,” so even if an auditor feels empathy for their preclear, they are not allowed to let anyone know and must not let the E-meter detect it.    People with narcissistic or sociopathic personalities tend to stick with Scientology and be the ones to rise the farthest in the organization, and for those who have progressed up the Bridge to the Clear and OT levels, there is a shocking lack of empathy and a forced “happiness” accompanied by the infamous blank Scientology stare.

Besides empathy, showing real emotions other than happiness or contentment (except while being audited) is considered “aberrated” or “showing case” or “bank” (reactive mind) and you can be punished for it in various ways, including shunning and even excommunication.   If a false self is present to begin with (as it is in narcissistic people), its further development is bolstered and rewarded.   People who possess empathy and express authentic emotions are either brainwashed or shamed out of them, or they eventually leave the organization.

In psychotherapy, empathy is usually a desired (though not required) characteristic of a therapist.  All good therapists have it.  Therapists who possess empathy for their clients are usually the most successful and their patients are the most likely to get well.  The goal of therapy is usually to help a patient own and be able to better express their real emotions, not deny them or cut themselves off from feeling them.

Auditing is disguised brainwashing. 

mind_control

The above quote by L. Ron Hubbard  pretty much says it all.  In Scientology (and all sociopathic groups and organizations), language is often used this way, to manipulate people into believing something bad is really something good, or to convince them to engage in activities they would otherwise never engage in.

The methods used in auditing — set commands, endless repetition, rote questions, no allowance made for free exchange of ideas or real conversation, and a requirement to “pass” each session — are really methods of mind control.   There’s a beginning form of auditing called TR’s (training routines) that is introduced in the Communications course.  TR1 involves sitting for hours staring at a fellow student, and not being passed until you can sit there and show no reaction at all.  A later TR, called “bullbaiting” ups the ante so that you don’t react even if insults are thrown at you or your fellow student tries to make you laugh or lose your blank stare.  Later TR’s involve repetitive actions like walking across the room, touching things, and doing the same mindless actions over and over.  This sets up a preclear for feelings of dissociation, which aren’t recognized by Scientology as being dissociation.

The processes conducted in auditing are really a form of hypnotic suggestion, and are intended to send the preclear into a “reverie” which is really a euphemism for the hypnotic state (Hubbard was extremely opposed to hypnosis, even though hypnosis is exactly what Dianetics processing does).   It’s not uncommon for a preclear to panic or fall asleep during an auditing session. Unfortunately, auditors (especially student auditors taking the course route) are often pathetically untrained and lack any skills to handle an emergency situation or deal with a preclear who keeps falling asleep.

There’s a phenomenon called “exteriorization,” which is Scientology’s term for being out of your body, a much-desired result.   In contrast, the mental health field recognizes feeling exterior from your body as a form of dissociation (specifically, depersonalization) and it’s definitely not something you want to work toward.     I remember once, after hours of TR1, feeling very dissociated and I became pretty freaked out.   I started to experience a panic attack, but fearing judgment for “showing case” in class and being connected to the E-meter made me try to hide my panic, which I can assure you wasn’t easy.  I had to keep staring at the other person and somehow talk myself down while showing no reaction.

Some people, however, enjoy the feeling of exteriorization.  They say it makes them feel high or euphoric.   That wasn’t the case with me, but many people who enjoy that feeling are encouraged to keep working toward attaining the upper levels (OT levels) where you are “exterior” to your body most or all of the time.    Being constantly dissociated is the normal and desired state of someone who has achieved a high level in Scientology auditing, and is also common in ritual abuse and mind control.   No wonder so many upper level Scientologists act so strange!

The Purification Rundown.

There’s a required step early on the way to Clear called the Purification Rundown, which is probably the most dangerous of all the Scientology processes (it’s also used in Scientology’s drug rehab program, Narconon).   While on the Rundown, you are required to take massive doses of vitamins, including Niacin (which is toxic in high doses), and spend 5 hours a day in a sauna, sweating out impurities caused by drugs (both legal and illegal) you have taken during your life (Scientology is extremely anti-drug and that’s one of their major criticisms of psychiatry).   Hubbard believed that all drugs are stored in the fat cells, even drugs such as LSD which have been proven by medical science to be water soluble.

People undergoing the Purification Rundown literally become run down and many wind up very ill.  Several have died of kidney or heart failure .  The Purification Rundown was invented by Hubbard, who was not a doctor and had no medical training.   His ideas about massive doses of niacin and other vitamins was based on his half baked theories about radiation sickness and the idea that vitamins, especially niacin, could cure it.

Of course, if you become ill, it’s because of your engrams being retriggered as a result of the process,  not because of the process itself.   Due to the high doses of vitamins and depletion of vital minerals and dehydration resulting from the constant sweating, many people attain a euphoric and dissociated state of mind that leaves them vulnerable to further mind control.

Conclusion.

In Scientology, you are required to act a certain way, think a certain way (or those “missed withholds” will be found out by the E-meter), and give so much of your time, energy, and money to the organization that you pretty much have no life left.   Without a regular job anymore (because you’re spending all your time working for free for “course credits” or even living on-base at a place like Sea Org), no remaining family or friends (who you may have been required to “disconnect” with if they opposed Scientology or your involvement in it),  no money, and no outside interests (because outside interests might interfere with your progression up the Bridge),  they effectively own you.  You think you’re giving yourself willingly to the organization for your own enlightenment (and that’s what they promise you when you sign up), but nothing could be further from the truth.  The process of indoctrination and spiritual destruction is so insidious you may not notice what has happened until it’s too late — if you ever do at all.  If you want to feel better about yourself and your life, see a regular therapist or pray for guidance — stay far away from this bogus form of “therapy” that can be so seductive at first.

*****

Further reading:  

My Love Affair With Scientology

Snark is not funny.

snark_definition
Credit: The Urban Dictionary.

Snark. It sounds nasty. It even has the word “narc” in it. Maybe the spelling should be changed to “snarc.” It also closely resembles the term “shark.” What do sharks do? They are predators out for blood, and they can kill.

I think snark should be added as a 23rd way you can identify destructive narcissists online (see CZBZ’s awesome article about the 22 indicators of destructive narcissism).

I’m not talking here about humor. Humor lubricates social interactions and makes you laugh. It may poke fun, but when it does, it’s lighthearted ribbing. It doesn’t tear down or destroy. Having a good sense of humor is a great thing. It’s good to be able to take a joke at your expense too, as long as it’s lighthearted and you know the person means no harm. Friends rib each other all the time, and it shouldn’t be taken personally.

I’m talking here about mean-spirited snark. You know, the “I’m so cool/mighty/smart/right and you’re a worthless loser/idiot/lunatic/minion of Satan” kind of condescending “wittiness” that makes you feel like the most lowly piece of pond scum in the lake. You find yourself wondering whether the jokesters are really joking (and you’re just being too sensitive) or are just plain mean. Well, they’re actually both. They are trying to confuse you, control you, make you doubt yourself, and tear you down–all in the name of “fun.” Snark is not fun. It’s nasty and mean. It’s not a social lubricant-it’s a weapon.

snark_warning

Snark is a form of bullying. It’s usually is participated in by several people at one time against one person. It’s a favorite tool of narcissists, trolls and bullies, who want to appear as if they’re not attacking you, when really, they are. They are showing their “superiority” over you. A narcissist will not apologize or take responsibility for their cruelty. If you object, you will be told you’re “too sensitive,” have no sense of humor, or misunderstood what they said. You may be told YOU are responsible for your NORMAL reaction to their attack.

I would like to give an example of what snark is. One of the bloggers who targeted me after I wrote that controversial article they objected to wrote a post that copied mine word for word but replaced some of the words. The intended effect of the post was to compare me to Hitler. The post was removed by the author after I suggested I might have a case for plagiarism. I took screenshots of it, but I’ll spare you. I also don’t want to identify the blogger and thereby stir up the pot again. Of course, the blogger’s excuse was that it was a joke and I overreacted. The sycophants chimed in.

Comparing me to Hitler by using my own words against me and twisting them around and replacing some of them is not funny. It’s mean-spirited and nasty. It’s something a narcissist would do.

A person with a true and honest sense of humor would not laugh at something like that. They would be horrified.

snarky_woman

The Internet is full of snark. Sometimes snark is okay. If the snark is directed at a public figure, an institution, or someone most people perceive as an enemy (such as Osama bin Laden, Charles Manson, or Jodi Arias) then I say fine. It can be funny to laugh about the things that frighten us, even if the humor is dark or mean spirited. I have a whole page dedicated to jokes about narcissists. The intention isn’t to demonize narcissists per se, but to make them appear less frightening and thereby remove some of their power over us. It doesn’t target individuals–it targets a destructive way of being in the world. If you take offense to it, then you’re probably a narcissist yourself. But no one is calling you one personally.

Snark should stop there. It’s never okay to target an individual (who isn’t a public figure) just because you disagree with an opinion of theirs or don’t like them personally. If you dislike someone, it’s best to ignore them (or simply tell them you disagree with them) without attempting to tear them down through belittling “humor”, which is a form of gaslighting. Making someone question their reality or feel bad about themselves, or attributing evil motives to them when you don’t know their story doesn’t make you look cool. Intelligent people with a shred of empathy won’t be laughing. Using snark against someone you dislike or don’t agree with says a lot more about the perpetrator than it does about the target.

Objecting to snark directed against you isn’t overreacting. It’s normal. A non-narcissist will never target a person they dislike or disagree with using snark. They will disconnect from that person or explain in a civil manner why what you said offended them and leave it at that. They won’t start a hate campaign using “humor” against you. They won’t use others as flying monkeys to gang up on you.

ETA: a word about the flying monkeys.
Flying monkeys of the snark perpetrator may not be narcissists themselves. They could be friends or supporters of the narcissist who started the smear/snark campaign. They could fear the wrath of the narcissist should they not cooperate. They might perceive the narcissist as the real victim (because they were already friends with them in the first place or the narc is very glib and convincing). Or they just could dislike the target for their own reasons–maybe they don’t like the fact the victim’s blog uses a Times Roman font instead of Helvetica. Maybe they hate the fact you run ads or sometimes write about furries.

All this doesn’t mean what the sycophants and flying monkeys are doing is right. If they’re not narcissists, they probably feel some guilt about joining a hate campaign to victimize someone, but they also could be so brainwashed they’ve come to believe the target deserves the attacks on them.

Scientology: a cult of psychopathy

hubbard

Scientology, like most cults, uses exactly the same brainwashing techniques the narcissist does to recruit and retain its members. Here’s a video I found on the Ex-Scientologist Message Board, where Sam Vaknin talks about the “cult of the narcissist,” and even though it’s not specific to Scientology, it’s spot on in describing the mind games narcissists use to trap their prey (sorry, I was unable to embed the video). The same techniques apply to most cults. Scientology is one of the most dangerous.

In 1978 and 1979, I flirted with Scientology. This happened when I came across one of its books (one of the only ones not written by its founder L. Ron Hubbard, who was not only a malignant narcissist of the highest order, but also a very bad writer), an easy to read and humorous “self help” book called “How to Choose your People,” by a writer named Ruth Minshull. The book was discontinued many years ago, probably because it wasn’t written by Hubbard and therefore not acceptable “scipture.” “How to Choose Your People” was entertaining and well written, and I found its idea of something called “The Tone Scale” intriguing and it seemed to make sense. I liked the idea that emotions ran on a sort of continuum, with one logically leading to the next. Every human being can be placed somewhere on this “tone scale.” Although most people move around on the scale according to their mood, everyone can be placed at a “home” tone, where they will be most of the time. The “tones” ranged from Apathy (the lowest you could go–this would be where severely depressed and suicidal people are) to Enthusiasm (very happy and contented people). Each tone was assigned an arbitrary number, although no one ever explained what those numbers meant.

There were two “emotions” around the middle of the scale, called Covert Hostility (1.1) and No Sympathy (1.2, making it slightly “better”). Although not at the bottom of the scale, while I was involved in Scientology (and the related Dianetics, the mental “technology” that is similar in some ways to psychoanalysis and serves as a tool to brainwash its members), Covert Hostility and No Sympathy were considered by most Scientologists to be the two worst places to be on the Tone Scale. No one wanted to be labeled a “1.1.” Because if you were, it meant you were a Suppressive Person–that is, a psychopathic person who could harm the Church and its members. If you were pegged a “1.1” or a “1.2” you could be excommunicated or punished by a cruel form of shunning (which I was subjected to at one point).

The traits of someone with a “tone” of Covert Hostility or No Sympathy are exactly the same of those of the malignant narcissist. Here is a picture of the tone scale as it appeared on the cover of Minshull’s 1976 book. (There is an expanded tone scale too, which has additional levels, but for our purposes this one is sufficient).

minshull1

Click image for larger view.

So I finished Minshull’s book and was intrigued enough to go to the local Scientology Center (on New York’s upper west side–I was living in Queens, NY at the time) and find out more. They gave me a “personality test,” that was supposed to identify what my issues and weak points were. There were 200 questions on the test, but when I was done, someone sat down with me and went over my results and convinced me I needed Dianetics auditing or classes in Scientology (much cheaper than Dianetics auditing) to overcome these weak points. The recruiter was very convincing and friendly, and assured me I would only be set back $15 to sign up for the HAS course (Hubbard Apprentice Scientologist aka “Communication Course”), which was really training in something called Training Routines (TR’s) which were used as brainwashing techniques.

At first the TR’s were very seductive–they were fun and actually seemed to work. They did help me be able to “confront” people better, or at least seemed to. The TR’s themselves involved things like sitting in a chair staring at someone as long as you could without reacting, laughing, or looking away. After this, the ante was upped to something called “bullbaiting,” where the person could try to get you to react and “lose your Confront” by insulting you, trying to make you laugh, or calling you names. There were higher levels of TR’s that involved walking across the room, touching things, asking if birds could fly, and reading passages from “Alice in Wonderland” of all things.

All these things were supposed to help you communicate with others better and raise your “tone,” but in actuality, these were all brainwashing techniques that would eventually result in giving you the infamous blank stare that many Scientologists seem to have while under the cult’s thrall.

After I “passed” the Communications Course (by getting a “floating needle” on a lie-detector type of device called the E-Meter), I was convinced without too much difficulty to sign up for the next course, the HQS course (Hubbard Qualified Scientologist). That one set me back $250. (The prices are probably much higher today). By this time of course, I’d been sufficiently indoctrinated that $250 for further “processing” and “training” didn’t seem that bad. It didn’t take much to convince me to hand over the money.

In order to help pay for the course (because in those days $250 was a lot of money, especially for a 19 year old) it was suggested I work at the Center part time, answering phones and opening and distributing mail. The position paid nothing, but I got “credits” to help pay for the course. Of course, by now I was spending most of my free time at the Center, because right after “work” it was time for the classes, which ran about 4 hours a night (5 days a week).

Students were closely monitored and every class ended with a session on the E-Meter. If you were caught yawning or daydreaming you were told you had a “misunderstood word” and had to go back and re-read Hubbard’s unreadable material to try to find the word you did not understand. You were not allowed to move on until you found the word and “passed” on the E-Meter. I began to realize I wasn’t having much fun anymore, but if you criticized Scientology or its “teaching technology” in any way, you would be sent to Ethics.

e_meter
Scientology E-Meter

No one wanted to be sent to Ethics. If you were sent to Ethics, it meant there was a problem and you were considered a “Potential Trouble Source” and disciplinary action would be taken. I was sent to Ethics about three times, all for very minor transgressions such as minor criticism. The punishments ranged from having to re-read material (and be “passed” being connected to an E-Meter), to cutting off friends and family members who could be potential “Suppressive Persons” or enemies of Scientology (you would be required to write them a letter telling them you were cutting them off), to shunning, to excommunication.

I was once subjected to shunning. I was told although I would still be required to fulfill my job duties and attend classes, no one would be allowed to speak to me and I was allowed to speak to no one (unless it was directly related to my job or something I was learning). It was horrible. This torment on for several days, until I was “passed” up a level and allowed to be spoken to again. But before that could happen, I had to go up to every high level member and employee, make amends to them and “re-introduce” myself.

Toward the end of the HQS course, you are told to recruit other people into Scientology. I had to go outside, no matter what the weather, and try to talk people into coming up to the Center to take its personality test. The more advanced TR’s taught in this class became increasingly bizarre. These sessions could go on for hours, and as part of the training, I was also required to “audit” other students and conduct TR’s on them. If they proved difficult or uncooperative, I was the one who was blamed and was not allowed to stop “running the TR’s” until my student had passed on the E-Meter. If it went on all night, then so it did. You were not allowed breaks to eat or rest, and neither was your student. I remember once being so exhausted from lack of sleep and hunger that I burst into tears in the middle of running a session, and was immediately sent to Ethics and that’s how I got the “shunning” punishment. I was stunned by their total lack of empathy.

I thought about leaving, but didn’t dare–because they threatened you with something called “Fair Game.” No one ever explained exactly what that was, but in Hubbard’s indecipherable scripture, “fair game” appeared to imply the Church reserved the right to stalk you, torment or even kill you if you “blew” (left). I’d also paid so much money into it by this point and spent so much time with them that I was hesitant to toss in the towel.

Shortly before I was to graduate from HQS (which I never did finish), I was sent to talk to a recruiter about my next “step up the bridge.” I was told I should sign up for “Life Repair,” which cost $6K. I told the recruiter I did not have that kind of money. The recruiter turned to the hard sell at that point. He told me to get a bank loan or ask my parents for the money. Neither was possible. There was no way I could pay back the bank, as my other (paying) job was part time and paid only $2.75 an hour (minimum wage at that time), and my parents were not the type to hand over large sums of money, even for something legitimate.

Finally, after two hours of unsuccessfully trying to get me to sign up for this $6,000 auditing package, the recruiter gave up and was quite hostile to me after that. He not only told me that I must not really be interested in moving up the Bridge, but that I was probably a Suppressive Person and an enemy of Scientology because I would not put myself in huge debt to continue to be brainwashed.

It was at this point I left the Church. I just didn’t care anymore. I had gradually come to realize that the “emotional tone” of the organization was somewhere around Covert Hostility and No Sympathy–which was quite interesting since those were the tones that were the most hated and feared and were the realm of the dreaded Suppressive Person. In other words, Scientology was a psychopathic, narcissistic cult, founded by a psychopathic malignant narcissist (1.1 on his own Tone Scale) whose ravings (and fabrications as a “war hero” among other things) are legendary. What they were really doing was projecting their own emotional tone (malignant narcissism) onto those who disagreed with them.

I also realized how I had been gradually seduced into this psychopathic organization through misrepresentation, manipulation, threats and lies. The personality test and the inexpensive and fun HAS course that promised to help me feel happier and more confident was merely the “love bombing” phase before the abuse that would come later and increase over time. I did NOT want to become one of the upper-level Scientologists, with their blank, weird stares, creepy smiles and total lack of empathy. Just look at Tom Cruise today: does he even seem human anymore? Hell, I’d rather be a Suppressive Person any day than one of them.

I didn’t get nearly as far up the “Bridge” as many other people, and therefore did not experience some of the trauma and torture inflicted on members who are more deeply enmeshed with this psychopathic cult. Eventually they WILL take over your entire life. For anyone interested in finding out more about the evil mindgames this cult plays, its psychopathic paranoia about both government agencies like the IRS and its hatred and fear of traditional psychotherapy and psychiatry, and the horrific (and sometimes fatal) punishments inflicted on many of its members and their families, I highly recommend either of these two websites that call out Scientology for what it really is.

The Ex-Scientologist Message Board: http://www.forum.exscn.net/ (This is where I found the Sam Vaknin video posted at the beginning of this article).
Operation Clambake: The Inner Secrets of Scientology: http://www.xenu.net/

Oh, and this is my 300th post!

The stages of becoming malignant; moments of clarity

I just received this comment under the currently spiking article (linked in the previous post).

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Click to enlarge.

I’ve embellished my reply into an article because this was such a fascinating issue to me.

Becoming Malignant
Malignant narcissists who became that way later in life by making an evil choice (such as making a genuine deal with the devil, becoming involved in the dark arts, or committing a heinous crime against their will, such as in war, may not be entirely seared and the real self can occasionally shine through. But they can’t leave the darkness without an almost supernatural force of will. They may know they’re this way and may even hate it and suffer, but THEY CANNOT LEAVE THE DARKNESS once they’ve made that choice. It’s like they already died and went to hell (I’m not sure I believe in a literal place called Hell, but I think you know what point I’m making here).

The Infection.
Malignant narcissists are incredibly dangerous because they can infect you with their sickness. They can literally rip out your soul and replace it with emptiness and blackness. A formerly good person can also become MN themselves if they associate too long with an MN abuser. There are several stages to this process. It doesn’t happen immediately. It’s very insidious.

Here is the machinery of evil:

1. The Honeymoon: The MN love bombs the intended victim with charm, fake love, gifts, and kindness so they learn to trust them.
2. The MN will pretend to agree with everything the victim says and seem empathic. What’s really happening is the opposite. The victim already trusts the MN and has been partly brainwashed already, so whatever the MN says, the victim agrees with and think it was themselves who thought it
3. The MN changes and his games become cruel and anything but loving. The honeymoon is over. The blatant mindfuck begins.
4. Over time, the spirit of the abused breaks down. They begin to feel like they’re worthless and the insane and abnormal begins to seem normal.
5. The MN abuse becomes worse. They make it impossible for the victim to escape, using various means and separating them from friends and other loved ones, often through turning everyone they both know against the victim through the MN’s lies, gaslighting, and triangulation. The victim becomes isolated and thinks they might be going crazy and start to doubt their own reality. If the victim has figured out the MN has turned everyone into their flying monkeys and started a campaign against them and try to call out the MN, they will be told they are crazy or imagining things. The classic psychological horror movie “Gaslight” shows this process so well that the term “gaslighting” was named after it. At the same time the victim realizes they have become entirely dependent on the MN.
6. This is the make or break moment. The abuse escalates into abject, intolerable cruelty. The victim may begin to fight back (this is the point at which a person can still leave the relationship before their soul is destroyed). If they don’t fight back they will succumb even further and are doomed, because…
7. As a defense mechanism, the victim begins to identify with the MN. This is known as Stockholm Syndrome. It’s the only way they can cope with what their life has become and the pain they are undergoing at the hands of the MN. They begin to collude with the MN.
8. Once they collude with the MN (even if it’s to insure their survival or the survival of others like their children), the transformation is complete. The victim, newly turned MN, can never go back. As they age they will keep getting worse.
9. The MN who infected the victim at this point will probably leave and move on to his or her next victim. There is nothing more he can with the first victim.

I got to Stage 6. Thank God I didn’t get any further along than that. Once I began to identify with my abuser(s), it might have been too late…

I’m getting mega chills writing this. This is scary stuff. But it’s real.

Moments of Clarity
On the other side of the equation, the opposite could happen (the MN turning good), but it’s far less likely than the first scenario, which is all too common. If it does ever happen to an adult, it’s extremely rare.

Even the most malignant narcs have these bizarre moments of clarity. They don’t happen often. It’s kind of spooky because it’s like all of a sudden they have another personality, but it’s fleeting. It’s as if they wake up for a second and even their look changes to a different, more human one. It’s very, very weird. I’ve seen it myself. It’s a moment that could change them if they really wanted help. Usually it passes too quickly unless God steps in. A really good therapist might be able to get through if the narc presented themselves for therapy, which they sometimes do (when they’ve lost all their supply and have sunk into depression).
Still, we can’t delude ourselves into thinking they will get better. The vast majority will not. In fact they grow worse with age.

I’m reminded of a scene in “The Shining” (the book, not the movie), where Jack Torrance (the possessed father) comes out of his trance for a second or two and tells his son Danny, “RUN! Get away from me, I love you!” Then he goes back into his murderous rage. It was incredibly creepy.

Sam Vaknin thinks Jesus was a narcissist.

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A true cult’s agenda and operation is definitely psychopathic. (click to enlarge).

Sam Vaknin has a lot to say about religion and cults and how they relate to psychopathy.
On his website, he addresses the problems of religious cults and describes the way they are almost always run by malignant narcissists who use their usual bag of psychopathic tricks to brainwash people into converting and once converted, keeping them in thrall to the cult. The article is here.

Vaknin’s description of cults sounds exactly the way a cult such as Scientology is run (I dabbled in it back in the late 1970s for about 2 years but was fortunate enough to be able to escape before I was completely taken in). I have no doubt Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, a hack science fiction writer, was a malignant narcissist (his official bio is full of lies and “accomplishments” that are complete fabrications). Scientology doctrine uses every trick in the psychopath’s book of coercion: brainwashing techniques disguised as “auditing” or “training routines (TR’s), threats to members who threaten to leave the cult (“fair game”), attempts to separate members from their non-Scientologist families and friends, exhorbitant and extortionist prices to move up the “bridge,”
insane doctrine passed off as “truth,” and definitely lots of paranoia and secrecy.

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L. Ron Hubbard, malignant narcissist

Scientology is the enemy of any legitimate psychotherapy–psychology and psychiatry are held to be the utmost evil, members are required to use underhanded means to attack and even attempt to destroy the careers of professionals in those fields (I have a personal story about this I’ll describe at a later time), and of course Scientology has had numerous problems with the IRS and other government agencies. Anyone who criticizes Scientology is labeled a “Suppressive Person” and is either excommunicated from Scientology or punished by a form of shunning. Members who are influenced by someone who is against Scientology are labeled “Potential Trouble Sources” (PTS) and ordered to cut the “SP” out of their lives, even if it’s a spouse or another close family member.

There’s an excellent and fascinating website about the insane mindgames this “religion” plays and includes case histories of people whose lives were totally ruined by this dangerous and psychopathic cult. The “secrets” of the upper OT (operating thetan) levels used to be unobtainable to anyone who had not “gone clear” and had the money to pay for further “processing” to the OT levels, but those jealously guarded secrets are now available to anyone who has Internet access and is curious enough to Google them. Well, naturally I was curious and the “secrets” are indeed pretty crazy, obviously the ravings of L. Ron Hubbard’s disordered and paranoid mind.

It used to be said that the secrets could not be revealed to members at lower levels because such knowledge would shock them to the point of actually killing them. I remember reading about one ex-Scientologist who suggested that the real reason the upper level secrets were so carefully guarded was not to “protect” anyone from the shock of the “truth” but rather, because the things revealed at the upper levels were so insane that only someone who had spent thousands of dollars and been thoroughly brainwashed could possibly take them seriously (in fact, there are cases of those who did reach those levels and when the secrets were finally revealed to them, they left the Church because they felt their entire journey had been a colossal waste of time and money). Anyone who hadn’t made such a huge mental and financial investment and read about the OT revelations online would die alright: they would die of laughter. And yes, they are that crazy. I read the “revelations” of the OT levels with my jaw glued to the table in disbelief that any sane person would believe such a load of crap.

Vaknin should have used the example of Scientology, a perfect example of a “religion” with a psychopathic agenda and a malignant narcissist “god.” There are many other examples he could have used too–the Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, the Unificiation Church (Sun Myung Moon’s cult), a few “New Age” cults, and many others.

But no, instead Vaknin attacks Christianity. He actually says Jesus Christ was a narcissist. I don’t know what Vaknin’s religious beliefs are, or even if he has any, and I certainly have my own issues with organized religion and fundamentalist Christianity in particular (the God of the Old Testament does come off as quite psychopathic at times), but I think Vaknin is missing the mark by describing Jesus Christ this way (or Christianity in general as a cult). He uses Bible quotes to “prove” that Jesus was a narcissist. Rather than try to paraphrase what he says, I’ll just post it here:

Jesus Christ, narcissist
http://samvak.tripod.com/journal79.html

Note:
Though most of the quotes in this essay are from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, I was careful to compare them with the texts of the other three canonical gospels. Where the gospels disagree, I avoided using the quote altogether.

Illegitimate and adopted children, especially of humble origins, often develop narcissistic defenses to fend off persistent feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. Admittedly, it is highly unlikely that Jesus was an illegitimate child. Adulteresses in ancient Judea were stoned to death. But, equally, there is little doubt that the circumstances of Jesus’s birth were shrouded in mystery. His mother, Mary, got herself pregnant but not by having sexual intercourse with her lawfully-wedded husband, Joseph.

Early on, Jesus developed magical thinking, compensatory grandiose delusions, and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience. A firstborn, he was much pampered by his doting mother. He was a prodigy, a Wunderkind: highly intelligent and inquisitive and more comfortable in the company of adults than with his peers.

When he was a mere 12 years old:

“(T)hey found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46)

Even at this tender age, he showed a marked lack of empathy and a full-fledged case of pathological grandiosity:

“His mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (“My Father” being God – SV). (Luke 2:48-49)

Gurus at the center of emergent cults are inevitably narcissistic, if not outright narcissists. The self-imputation of superiority, epiphanic knowledge, and infallibility and the assumption that others need and crave the guru’s message are at the heart of an elaborate construct which often borders on the psychotic:

“… (T)he people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29)

Referring to his 12 disciples, Jesus made clear that: “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.” (Matthew 10:24)

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

Here is how Jesus, the lowly, unmarried, and itinerant son of a carpenter – an abysmal failure by the standards of his society – viewed himself:

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats … And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:31-32 and 25:46)

“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

Contrary to his much-cultivated image, Jesus, like the vast majority of cult leaders, lacked empathy and was a heartless and irresponsible manipulator whose magical thinking ruined the lives of many. He instructed his followers to commit acts that must have had harshly adverse impacts on their hitherto nearest and dearest. Jesus monopolized the lives of his disciples to the exclusion of all else and all others:

“For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:35-36)

“Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!” (Matthew 12:47-48)

“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22)
Consider the disastrous effects their actions had had on their fathers and their families, now left to starve. To Jesus, evidently, these were irrelevant considerations.

Jesus healed only those who visibly, volubly, clearly, publicly and repeatedly worshipped him. In other words, he extended his gift only to his sources of narcissistic supply. There are numerous instances in the four canonical gospels where Jesus actually bargains with the afflicted and demands – sometimes in anger – their unconditional adoration. He is happiest when acknowledged and affirmed as Christ, the Son of Man (son of God). Those who do not recognize his splendid grandeur, unbounded might, and implied divinity are “dogs” and “swine” (Matthew 7:6)

His much-touted love of the poor was not a match for his malignant self-love. When his disciples upbraided a woman for anointing Jesus with expensive ointment because the money could have been better used to help the poor, the great humanist, Jesus, had this to say:

“Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” (Matthew 26:10-11)

The principles espoused by Jesus were malleable and easily bent. He professed to minister only to the Hebrews (Sons of Israel) and steadfastly refused to heal the Gentiles whom he called “dogs”. When a woman of Canaan beseeched him to cast the devil out of her daughter (“Have mercy on me!”), he retorted, shockingly:

“I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel … It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” (Matthew 15:24-26)

But he soon forgot and retracted this lofty “principle” when she adulated him:

“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” (Matthew 15:28)

Similarly, he cured the servant of a Roman centurion after his master catered to Jesus’s by-now rampant megalomania:

“When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” (Matthew 8:10 and 8:13)

Jesus’s initial false modesty soon gave way to bragging and outlandish, often confabulatory claims.

Whenever he affected a miracle – such as restoring eyesight to the blind, cleansing lepers, reviving the crippled, and raising the ostensibly dead – Jesus beseeched them to keep mum about the events. One of many examples:

“And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.” (Matthew 9:30)

But Jesus was not averse to blatant self-promotion when his false modesty failed to elicit narcissistic supply:

“Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (Matthew 11:2)

“I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple … For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day … behold, a greater than (the prophet) Jonas is here … behold, a greater than (King) Solomon is here.” (Matthew 12)

As a true narcissist, Jesus reprimanded others for his own brand of behavior. This psychological defense mechanism is called “projection”.

This is how he described the Pharisees, the scribes, and the Sadducees (and, inadvertently, himself and his own conduct):

“(T)hey say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” (Matthew 23:1-6)
Narcissists are disruptive, counter-dependent, combative, and resent authority (rebellious and contumacious). They feel that they are above the law, or, rather, that they are a law unto themselves. They hold themselves to be immune to the consequences of their actions:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:12-13)

Narcissists are ill-disposed towards disagreement and criticism. They react to the slightest hint of either with narcissistic rage and fury that knows no bounds and no mercy:

“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” (Matthew 11:23-24)

“He that is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30)

“For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 23:39)

Narcissists react particularly badly when their concocted personal myth, their False Self, is directly and effectively challenged and they are consequently discredited and humiliated in public:

“And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:54-58)

Ultimately, the narcissist pays the price for years of ill-treating others and sucking their energies dry with constant demands for attention, adulation, and affirmation. People get tired of the overbearing and overweening presence of the narcissist in their lives, of his disruptive and destabilizing influence, and of the pernicious effects he has on their nearest, dearest, and communities. Invariably, they seek to banish him and extricate themselves from his cult. The authorities usually are forced to intervene and lock the narcissist up or, worse, crucify him.

Even his closest followers, supporters, and disciples give up on the narcissist:

“Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.” (Matthew 26:56)

“Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?” (Matthew 26:67-68)

“Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” (Peter, indeed, denying knowing Jesus thrice – SV) (Matthew 26:75)

And the fickle “multitude” (the common folk), who were supposed to be the mainstay of Jesus’s power and popularity, betrayed him gleefully and with a clear sense of relief and good riddance:

“Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas … They all say unto him, Let him be crucified … they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified … Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children … And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” (Matthew 27)

Jesus_with_a_child
Jesus doesn’t look like a narcissist to me.

Vaknin is using the words and deeds described in the Gospels to spin Jesus into a malignant narcissist. I don’t buy it. I have been attending RCIA classes (the classes one takes to become Catholic), and am still on the fence as to whether Jesus was actually the Son of God or just a very good man and prophet, but have lately been leaning more toward him being divine.

If Jesus was actually who he said he was–the Son of God–then he was being truthful and not narcissistic or grandiose in any manner. Jesus was compassionate and empathetic toward the unfortunate and the poor and healed the sick and disabled, and while he does appear to have had a temper, it was a righteous anger toward those who refused to believe who He was. He didn’t reject or disrespect his mother either. He had a great love for Mary as his earthly mother, but if Jesus was the son of God, then God’s desires would naturally have to come first.

In Vaknin’s defense, if he doesn’t believe Jesus was divine (and many people don’t), then I suppose it could be argued Jesus acted in narcissistic and grandiose ways (it could actually more easily be argued he was a paranoid schizophrenic–insisting he was God Himself when he really wasn’t), but I still wouldn’t call him a narcissist. Vaknin is probably not a Christian due to his nationality (he’s from Israel and his mother was Turkish) so it’s understandable that he wouldn’t believe Jesus was the Son of God, but to make such a sweeping accusation against a religious entity whose words have changed the lives of many millions of people for the better is pretty narcissistic on Vaknin’s part (which of course is no surprise).

Some of the more extreme evangelistic and fundamentalist Christian churches (especially those that believe in such unpleasant and elitist doctrines as predestination–a Calvinistic belief that certain “chosen” people have been predestined for heaven even before they were born, making the concept of “free will” and works null and void) are not too far removed from cults and they commonly have psychopathic leaders and use cult-like brainwashing tactics. There are also unfortunately many religious leaders of mainstream churches who are very narcissistic and even psychopathic, but this doesn’t mean Christianity itself is a cult of narcissism or that Jesus was a narcissist.

I still defend most of Vaknin’s writings from his critics, given that as a narcissist who is honest about himself, he is more than qualified to call himself an expert on the disorder and write as much as he wants to about it. Whether intentional or not, he has helped a great number of sufferers and victims of psychopathy. But in this particular discussion about cults, using Christianity as an example of a cult and Jesus as a malignant narcissist not only misses the mark, but to many people would be considered blasphemous. In spite of my own misgivings about Christian doctrine, I just couldn’t let this pass.