Redefining freedom.

 

orwell_words

Despots and dictators throughout history know how powerful language can be, and they know that by changing the definitions of words, without people realizing it, they can change the way people think and what they believe.   Without language and the words that comprise it, propaganda and revisionist history (changing commonly held historical beliefs in order to fit a desired political or religious narrative) would become impossible, or at least a lot more difficult.

George Orwell described the insidious process of changing the meanings of words in order to change public attitudes in his classic dystopian novel, “1984.”    He called this process “Newspeak.”   It is a form of mind control commonly used by cult leaders and dictators to get people to abandon their previous ways of thinking and accept a lie as the truth (repetition of the lie is another way they get people to accept it).    Sometimes the lie they push may be an actual reversal of a previously held truth.   We can see this phenomenon today in many of extremist evangelical and fundamentalist churches, who now say that ripping migrant children away from their parents or taking away people’s healthcare is “Christian” even though Jesus would be appalled by these things.

“Freedom” (and its synonym “liberty”) is probably the word that comes to my mind first when I think about the ways language is used as propaganda.    It appears in both religious and political rhetoric.  In right wing extremism, the definition of “freedom” or “liberty” has become almost the reverse of what its commonly-held definition is.  Here is the complete dictionary definition:

the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
“we do have some freedom of choice”
  • absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
    “he was a champion of Irish freedom”
    synonyms: independenceself-governmentself-determinationself-rulehome rulesovereignty, nonalignment, autonomy;

    democracy
    “revolution was the only path to freedom”
    antonyms: dependence
  • the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
    “the shark thrashed its way to freedom”
    synonyms: libertyliberationreleasedeliverancedeliverydischargeMore

    antonyms: captivity
  • the state of being physically unrestricted and able to move easily.
    “the shorts have a side split for freedom of movement”
  • the state of not being subject to or affected by (a particular undesirable thing).
    noun: freedom from; plural noun: freedom froms
    “government policies to achieve freedom from want”
    synonyms: exemptionimmunitydispensation;

    impunity
    “freedom from local political accountability”
    antonyms: liability
  • the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity.
    synonyms: rightentitlementprivilegeprerogativeMore

    antonyms: restriction
  • unrestricted use of something.
    “the dog is happy having the freedom of the house when we are out”
  • archaic
    familiarity or openness in speech or behavior.

 

Most of us agree with this definition.  We think of freedom as a concept that allows all Americans individual liberty and the ability to make their own life choices.   It is the absence of oppression.   When we think of freedom, we aren’t worrying things that benefit everyone, such as healthcare or public education, might be potentially oppressive (because of higher taxes necessary to have those things).  I think most of us would say that a person who doesn’t need to worry about going bankrupt or dying should he become sick or injured is more free than someone who can’t afford necessary surgery and loses his home trying to pay for it, or even his life.  A person who can take time off from their job to recover from their illness is more free than someone who is forced to work even when they are ill because their wages are too low to allow them to take time off.

Back during the time of Lyndon Johnson and his “War on Poverty,” this was generally understood.  Empathy still existed within high levels of government and in both parties.  Measures were taken to alleviate poverty, one of the most oppressive and limiting things a human being can experience.   An impoverished person is not a free person. Poor people spend so much time just trying to survive they cannot reach their full potential.   Rich people and corporations paying more in taxes was seen as the right thing to do for society at large and for the greater good, not as a form of robbery or wealth redistribution (this phrase is a common dog whistle used by the right to manipulate attitudes to get people believing the wealthy are the real victims).   Eventually, the commonly perceived causes of poverty shifted from the society to the individual.  Personal responsibility became another dog whistle used by conservatives to influence public attitudes and make people begin to perceive poverty as a personal weakness rather than an affliction.

“I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it.” — Paul Ryan

 

Over the past few decades, especially since Reagan’s election in 1980, the definition of freedom has been co-opted by the right.  They whine that environmental regulations and higher taxes are a form of tyranny by the majority that limits the freedom of the wealthy and corporate elite to do exactly what they want and suffer no consequences.   To suggest they should contribute to the common good through a higher tax rate or not gut laws that protect human health and wellbeing is to restrict their freedom — which is really the freedom to exploit their workers, not pay them a fair wage, deny them a safety net, and destroy the planet.    In Trump’s America, freedom is no longer freedom of the people, it is freedom of the minority (the wealthy elite) to oppress the majority.

In redefining freedom, the word democracy itself underwent a transformation from government by the people for the people, to tyranny of the majority (where the wealthy and powerful are perceived as superior and therefore naturally entitled to take whatever they want with no accountability).  The term democracy, at least in the circles of greatest power and influence right now, has become a pejorative — something bad worthy of destruction.

Religious freedom.

Similarly, religious freedom or religious liberty has also been redefined.    Most people would agree that religious freedom in America means the right to worship the way you choose — or to not worship at all.  The separation of church and state was one of the key elements the Founding Fathers wrote into the Constitution, knowing that mixing religion and government not only doesn’t work, it’s extremely dangerous and has always led to wars, oppression, and violence.    We can see this today in Middle Eastern countries where Islam is the state religion and is written into their laws.  These countries are constantly at war, including civil war.   Violence and terrorism is rampant and women, children and minority groups are victimized every day by the harshness of Sharia law.

In the early days of America, before the Constitution was written,  there were pockets of religious intolerance, most infamously seen in the Salem Witch Trials.   Other groups of colonists came here as a way to escape religious persecution in their home countries.  They came here to be free to worship the way they chose.

The Founding Fathers, while they might have been religious personally, were influenced by the Enlightenment and the primacy of reason and openmindedness over medieval superstition and intolerance.  America was founded as a secular, not as a “Christian nation” or saddled by any other “state religion.”  While Christianity is the most common religion found in America, to declare it as a state religion would automatically make anyone who wasn’t Christian — or even not the right kind of Christian — a second class citizen.  The Founding Fathers knew this, and that’s why they rejected the idea of a state religion.

Far right extremist evangelicals have been busy writing revisionist history,  insisting that America was founded as a Christian nation, and that the Constitution was divinely  inspired and never meant to be secular.   Some go even further than that.  Dominionists and reconstructionists actually want the Constitution rewritten and replaced with Old Testament Law.   If that were to actually happen, living in America — especially for vulnerable groups such as women and gays — would be no different than living in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.

Yet Christian extremists say that imposing biblical law on everyone through the government is actually religious freedom!   By their logic,  if Christianity were enforced, you would become free of the temptation to sin.   Knowing that sinning might result in draconian punishment or even execution, you would not sin — and therefore be more pleasing to God.   Extremist Christians whine that they are persecuted not because they actually are, but because they are not allowed to discriminate (or oppress!) based on sexual orientation, gender, or religion.  In Trump’s America, the definition of religious freedom has transformed  from the right to worship as you choose to the right to inflict my religious beliefs on you.

I can’t think of anything more un-Christian or unloving.   If you believe in God, why wouldn’t he want you to have free will and choose to worship him?   Forced religion isn’t a sincere declaration of faith, it’s spiritual terrorism.   It’s a way to control and oppress people.  It uses fear of punishment rather than the promise of love as a motivator.   I doubt God wants his people to worship him or behave a certain way only because they’re afraid of the consequences if they don’t.    I believe we were given free will and that it ought to be respected.  That means leaving religion out of government and its laws.    Nothing good has ever or will ever come of it.   It is religious fascism.

There are other words and phrases that have been redefined by the far right, but freedom is one of the most pervasive and common.   We need to become aware of this and other words that are being redefined by extremists as a means of mind control and propaganda to change our thinking patterns.  Critical thinking is necessary to make the distinction, and this is why education (and science) is so maligned by political extremists and fascist groups (including extremist religious groups).

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The deconversion of a Trump troll.

burning-trump-hat

You may remember a few weeks ago I asked readers to let me know if they knew of anyone who had finally turned on Trump.   I wanted to write a blog post describing the journey of such a person.

I got no responses to my question, and personally, I don’t know anyone who supported Trump who has changed their mind.   I gave up finding such a person.

But they do exist!   Granted, they’re rare as snow in Mississippi, but they are out there.  Yesterday I came upon an article written for Forward (an online magazine focusing on issues related to Judaism and Jews) by a New Yorker named David Weissman.

He colorfully describes his days as a hardcore Trump supporter and Internet troll.  Everything you might expect, he did it or said it.  He was all-in on bullying liberals and  Democrats (and RINOs — “Republicans in Name Only”).   He mainlined on Fox News.   He went to Trump rallies and owned a MAGA hat.   He willingly soaked in Trump’s hateful rhetoric and dismissed anyone who was offended by it as “snowflakes.”

It took one woman to change his views.    One day the comic actress Sarah Silverman responded to one of his inflammatory comments on Twitter.  He describes the way she engaged him in conversation and debate without putting down his beliefs or attacking him.  She remained patient and doggedly kept replying to his tweets in a civil and engaging way, explaining why she felt the way she did about things like healthcare, immigration, racism, and many other topics — and why she believed Trump was wrong for America and the world.

I have also tried to engage Trump supporters with the truth, but eventually I give up, because most Trumpists I meet online waste my time with straw man arguments, what-aboutism, straight-up gaslighting, and even personal attacks.   If they realize they’re losing the argument, they always fall back on their old standby, “it’s fake news.”  Or, “well, Hillary would have been worse.”  I began to block them  because it was just easier than the frustrating and seemingly futile experience of trying to get them to think outside their comfort zone or handle the resulting cognitive dissonance.  Patience is not one of my greatest virtues.   Maybe if it were, I might be able to eventually get through to a few of them.  Maybe.

cognitive_dissonance

Mr. Weissman seems like a man who might have been receptive to a different viewpoint anyway.   One of the things that worries and saddens me is that many Trump supporters seem to show signs of sociopathy themselves — or are attracted to a “strongman” type of leader who tells them exactly what to think because they don’t want to or don’t know how to think for themselves.   Trumpism has been compared to a cult, and it really is one.   Its followers respond to Trump as they do to a cult leader, and like Jim Jones’ followers, they willingly, even eagerly, drink his poison Koolaid even though it might eventually harm or even kill them (Trump is doing nothing for the average working class white person and is fact is doing a lot of damage to his own supporters).

As with all cults, it’s almost impossible for someone on the outside to deprogram a believer; it really is a form of mind control.    Trump supporters are literally in thrall to their golden calf.  Reality and facts get trampled under the hooves.

Maybe Mr. Weissman was less brainwashed than most other Trump supporters, or had just enough insight or self-awareness for reason and facts to begin to sink in.   Maybe it’s because Ms. Silverman, a fellow Jew, was perceived as sympathetic.   But it doesn’t matter why Weissman could be redeemed from Trumpism, while so many others seem impermeable to the truth and facts.  What matters is that it’s possible.

It didn’t happen overnight.  His deconversion happened over a period of several weeks or months (he doesn’t give an exact timeframe of how long it took), mostly by continuing his online conversation with Ms. Silverman.   He decided to read the links to articles she gave him instead of attacking them as “fake news.”  By reading and educating himself about the facts, he began to question what he’d believed (or wanted to believe) about Trump.   He became willing to deal with the cognitive dissonance all the new information was causing him.  (Cognitive dissonance is extremely uncomfortable for most people, who will do almost anything to avoid experiencing it).  Weissman describes how welcoming the “liberals” were, and the way they did not judge him.   Some of his Trumpist buddies began to bully him and call him a traitor. They were incensed that he and Ms. Silverman — a liberal — appeared to be friends.  Weissman began to see his fellow Trump supporters in a new light –  as ignorant people embracing a narcissistic bully (or even being bullies themselves) and willfully shutting out the truth.

Here is his story (which also gives tips on how to engage with Trump supporters):

I Used to Be a Trump Troll 

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.

 

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