Hello , I am an ex Scientologist , this blog is primarily about that but I may address other topics as the mood hits me to . I was in Scientology for 25 years and spent about 10,000 hours using the indoctrination and thought reform method "study tech " . I also spent time on staff and met hundreds of Scientologists and did hundreds of the cult practices . Many were the "ethics cycles and OW writeups " that really are an attempt to suppress or remove a person's identity and replace it with a mental pseudo clone of Ron Hubbard . To make a fanatical slave for the cult .

I looked outside the cult for answers in about January 2014 and left the cult in about March of 2014 . While in about 99% of members have no idea of the truth .

We are told we are in a mental therapy or spiritual enhancement or religion or science for helping people unlock potential . Or any of several other fronts that all pretend kind and humanitarian goals .

The truth is Scientology is a terrorist mind control cult and this blog is my attempt to understand and expose that . And try to state as clearly as possible the tools that I have found helpful in dealing with this .

Friday, October 16, 2015

Scientology Building The Prison Of The Mind Part 2 Magnitude, Reduction And Avoidance Of Dissonance.

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In continuing from part one of this series I want to finish analyzing and quote from the first chapter of Leon Festinger's book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance entitled An Introduction to the Theory of Dissonance. This addresses the ideas of the magnitude, reduction and avoidance of dissonance. It may seem complex but is really a bunch of simple ideas, many of which you probably heard of in different terms, so bear with me. The establishment of the language Festinger uses pays off in being able to look at Scientology, and thought in general, in a new way.

If two elements are dissonant with one another, the magnitude of the dissonance will be a function of the importance of the elements. (Page 16)

This is a fancy way to say the effect or degree of strength of dissonance is established by how important the ideas, behavior, opinions or emotions the dissonance is connected to is. In other words if something of low importance is related to dissonance it makes the dissonance low. Say you don't care at all who won a baseball game and hear from one person the Cubs won and another that they lost. The dissonance will be low, as you don't care. But say you happen to place paramount importance on the Cubs winning. It is literally the most important thing in your life. You could be extremely subject to dissonance over what to even feel or believe, whether to panic and seek answers elsewhere or remain where you are and wait to find out.

Importance sets or limits magnitude of dissonance. In Scientology this is notable as Hubbard goes for broke with certain ideas on which to sell both himself and Scientology. Namely his own infallible authority, perfect character, and the miraculous workability he claimed for his technology. In Keeping Scientology Working, the 1965 policy which is the most studied and essential reference to understand Scientology, this is permanently established as the core belief in Scientology doctrine, and it is in virtually every major course in Scientology to be studied hundreds of times in a Scientology career.

So every idea in Scientology is labeled as from Hubbard and as equally important. And as all always being right. So immense importance is placed on the ideas being correct, proportional to the importance that the beliefs, behaviors and efforts committed to Scientology are in the mind of an individual Scientologist.

So this sets up Scientologists to suffer immense dissonance if any experience, information or reality contradicts the ideas of Hubbard's unique genius - really messianic status as Humanity's savior -  and his workable - really God making - technology.  This idea of being entirely all in for Scientology and Hubbard cannot be overstated. For many Scientologists going against these core beliefs is unthinkable.

Regarding magnitude Festinger goes on to say:

The total amount of dissonance between this element and the remainder of the person's cognition will depend on the proportion of relevant elements that are dissonant with the one in question.  (Page 17)

Relax, that translates easily. It means the element which is one idea, belief, opinion, emotion or behavior has how much dissonance it can inspire existing in a person in a relationship with the number of other ideas, opinions etc. within the person that are relevant, meaning agreeing or disagreeing with the idea in question.

That can mean a behavior, for example, can have dissonance to the degree other ideas, behaviors, etc.  disagree as a portion of the other ideas, etc. a person holds that either agree or disagree happen to disagree.

So the more your idea on a subject, for example, will generate dissonance is to the degree it contradicts your beliefs, ideas etc. that can support or contradict it in your mind.

The magnitude is set by if an idea has many ideas agreeing in your mind and few disagreeing, then dissonance is low. If an idea disagrees with many elements in your mind it creates immense dissonance.

This has tremendous relevance to Scientology as despite Hubbard often contradicting his own statements and even definitions the need for consonance, or agreement, within his doctrine and the perception of reality is overwhelming.

Hubbard sets many, many elements within a Scientologist's mind. Scientology isn't a few ideas. It has thousands and thousands of terms and hundreds of phrases and behaviors to learn. Even public Scientologists are expected to learn thousands of definitions, dozens of phrases, and hundreds of behaviors.

This is meant to create so thoroughly a set of consonant elements that they strengthen one another enough to be impenetrable and indestructible, truly a new identity: a mental pseudo clone of Hubbard blindly loyal to him as a fanatical zealot until death.

The above statement can of course be easily generalized to deal with the magnitude of dissonance which exists between two clusters of cognitive elements. This magnitude would depend on the proportion of the relevant relations between elements in the two clusters that were dissonant and, of course, on the importance of the elements. (Page 17)

These clusters are just groups of ideas that are connected in a person's mind. You can have for example a group of ideas, opinions, etc. that support the subject of human rights then run into a bunch of ideas that you could call Scientology policies and practices that are relevant to human rights.

If you saw many elements as being inconsistent that could create dissonance but if you saw little or no contradiction dissonance would be low.

For many Scientologists when they look at the detailed, convincing and extensive evidence of violating human rights in Scientology their personal beliefs on human rights come into tremendous conflict with the new, previously hidden information.

That is just one example of clusters having low then high dissonance.

To summarize his ideas on the magnitude of dissonance:

1. If two cognitive elements are relevant, the relation between them is either dissonant or consonant.
2. The magnitude of the dissonance ( or consonance ) increases as the importance or value of the elements increases.
3. The total amount of dissonance that exists between two clusters of cognitive elements is a function of the weighted proportion of all relevant relations between the two clusters that are dissonant. The term "weighted proportion" is used because each relevant relation would be weighted according to the importance of the elements involved in that relation. (Page 18)

That's just saying that if two ideas, behaviors, opinions or knowledges ( all of which are called "elements" ) can affect each other within a person's mind it is either as agreeing and being "consonant" or in disagreement or contradiction and being "dissonant". The size or strength of the resulting agreement as consonance or disagreement as dissonance is determined by how important the elements are to the person. More important elements can have accompanying higher dissonance or consonance.

Regarding the reduction of dissonance Festinger has definite ideas.

The presence of dissonance gives rise to pressures to reduce or eliminate the dissonance. The strength of the pressures to reduce the dissonance is a function of the magnitude of the dissonance. (Page 18)

Also, similar to the action of a drive, the greater the dissonance, the greater will be the intensity of the action to reduce the dissonance and the greater the avoidance of situations that would increase the dissonance. (Page 18)

So that just means stronger or more serious conflict of ideas, behaviors, etc. within a person leads to stronger desire to reduce the disagreement aka dissonance. And with a stronger desire to reduce dissonance comes two crucial ideas. Stronger dissonance brings stronger action to reduce it and accompanying greater efforts to avoid the sources of dissonance.

These two ideas are so important in Scientology they warrant close examination. Hubbard's doctrine is presented as the most consistent, scientific and important information and methodology in a Scientologist's life. That carries a corresponding high dissonance with contradictory elements.

 Hubbard handled this by claiming elements contrary to Scientology individually for different reasons are to be avoided. He has family members who won't comply disconnected from, behaviors that don't comply are labeled out ethics and discouraged by Scientology's extensive "ethics" thought reform "technology", Scientologists are required to entirely avoid media or information of any kind that disagrees with Scientology doctrine.

The methods are so extreme because Hubbard's doctrine is so controlling over nearly every decision a cult member makes. And routinely a Scientologist is indoctrinated with hundreds of hours of Hubbard's doctrine . Though Hubbard reportedly released thirty five million words of doctrine, most Scientologists receive the same core doctrine dozens and dozens of times.

That creates an immense body of ideas, emotions, and behaviors within a Scientologist's mind that are stressed as crucially important, constantly in mind due to Scientology's totalistic nature- meaning inescapable since they are always intended to be controlling and influencing the Scientologist by design - and progressively require more extreme deviation from the socially acceptable standards of the outer society regarding beliefs, behaviors, and accompanying emotions.

This serves to extremely polarize a Scientologist's mind: Scientology must be all right and dissonant elements - including direct evidence - must be all wrong. The actions taken to reduce dissonance can be all encompassing, families destroyed, trusted and beloved spouses and children are estranged and classed as "suppressive persons" to be denied any human rights or consideration or love as unpersons, literally less than human and denied any voice or human rights, including the right to live. Rarely are they literally murdered, but they are routinely cast aside as worthless. Quite extreme action to be sure.

The actions to avoid the immense dissonance contradictory evidence brings routinely includes the tool of denial. Scientology has extreme magical thinking and in the face of direct evidence demands denying the evidence. Hubbard's claims of perfect sanity, perfect memory, perfect character, and extreme intelligence for veteran Scientologists he calls "clears" are easily observable as entirely false, so the Scientologist must deny direct observations regarding their own life and others around them.

This escalates at the "Operating Thetan" levels. These in the doctrine claim mystical powers such as healing, telekinesis, telepathy, traveling as a spirit, creating effects by decision, and require constant denial of the lack of these abilities in reality. This only escalates as the Scientologist progresses through the indoctrination. By the level of clear to OT III many Scientologists are living largely in delusion, an artificially created and removable delusion but delusion all the same.

Festinger lays out a list of factors relevant to the resistance to change of behavioral cognitive elements.  He describes how reality may can influence change, assuming a person keeps contact with reality which Scientology requires them to circumvent as I described earlier. He describes how much behavior doesn't resist change, in Scientology this persists for things considered irrelevant. Even formerly important behaviors become emotionally flat for Scientologists if they are neither consonant or dissonant.

This is the result of an overwhelming conflict between the clash of the precult identity and the cult identity. The precult identity has similar information but it has elements that are consonant for itself and elements that are dissonant. It has its own values, emotions, likes and dislikes. The cult identity has reset the elements so some that in Hubbard's methods are approved become consonant while those he disapproves of are dissonant in the cult identity.

 This conflict is created usually very gradually and with denial and trance logic an important aspect of the conflict emerges. Denial is above lying, in lying one knows consciously they are saying a falsehood. In denial one hides this from their conscious mind. Trance logic is the state achieved in hypnosis in which critical and independent thinking are reduced or eliminated that bears distinct relevant features. Scientology heavily uses trances in auditing, study technology indoctrination and other cult activities, by changing the phrases victims use and sabotaging the entire language the victims use Hubbard sets them up to have series of trances activated, which inspire behavior and emotions which in turn trigger more trances.

I have explored these issues in Insidious Enslavement: Study Technology, Basic Introduction to Hypnosis in Scientology and Propaganda by Reversal of Meaning in Scientology. Trance logic has the important feature of contradiction being invisible to the conscious mind but buried in the subconscious aka unconscious. That translates to avoidance of dissonance by entering a trance state. To enter a trance one merely needs to submit one's will to another, in this case Hubbard or a proxy. By "knowing" Hubbard understands as an infallible authority whatever a Scientologist doesn't internally, when blind faith trumps one's own judgment the victim is in fact enthralled, meaning mentally enslaved.

How can one be free if they have certainty that another is always right, with no exception for direct observations or personal experience or any evidence ? That overriding certainty that bars new ideas, new evidence, any doubt and self reflection is the foundation of the slavery Hubbard inflicts. In the clusters of elements Hubbard imparts one idea over and over - his authority. The whole system requires and reinforces this central value.

Here are some of Festinger's factors regarding resistance to change of behaviors.

1. The change may be painful or involve loss.
2. The present behavior may be otherwise satisfying.
3. Making the change may simply not be possible
(Page 26)

When the cult identity is strongly established the victim has a majority of cognitive clusters, meaning groups of interconnected ideas and behaviours which support or agree with each other. Anything that supports this is easy to do but anything that conflicts is difficult. So changing behavior to resist Hubbard's authority is excruciatingly painful and difficult.

Even if Hubbard's doctrine requires behavior that is strongly dissonant regarding other elements - leaving your family, working a hundred and twenty hours a week as a slave, going into debt to donate money to Scientology, giving up your entire lifestyle, giving up your religion and other routine requirements is highly dissonant . This serves to divide prospective cult members into those who comply with Hubbard and people who won't and one way or another as the band Rush sang conform or be cast out.

The extreme nature of Scientology serves to help make the group sharply uniform. Scientologists with doubt get in line or get out, by their choice or their expulsion so the only social proof they get reinforces the cult doctrine. The more dissonant the elements Scientology brings in comparison with conventional society the stronger this effect becomes, and for many Scientologists normal society is mad, ignorant, hallucinating, lost and confused. Hubbard uses terms like abberated, degraded, low tone, one one, downstat, raw meat , reasonable and wog  to constantly lessen anyone who isn't a Scientologist.

Festinger goes on to say:

When there is a clear and unequivocal reality corresponding to some cognitive element, the possibilities of change are almost nil. (Page 27)

Notably Festinger refers to actual reality, what is directly physically sensed. That Scientology gets its members to deny or even fail to see reality is a testament to the degree to which it influences its victims.

He points out a very important method to divorce oneself from a decision.

It would still be possible to reduce the dissonance by what also amounts to adding a new cognitive element, but of a different kind. He can admit to himself, and to others,  that he was wrong. (Page 29)

Sometimes, however,  the resistances against this are quite strong. (Page 29)

These two points are important aspects of human nature. Not just for Scientology. In Scientology in particular I experienced reducing dissonance when going into Scientology progressively over time by admitting my prior beliefs were wrong, some ideas resisted more than others and took years to be broken. I had extreme resistance to giving up beliefs, behaviors and emotions that are discouraged by the cult. This is routine for long term Scientologists, particularly staff and Sea Org members.

Then after twenty five years in I forced myself to examine critical information and admitting all the decisions and actions I made to support the cult was extremely traumatic. It felt like all the dissonance that was buried in my subconscious through trance logic was let loose in a relentless, overwhelming torrent of horror, confusion and anxiety. I didn't have a breakdown, but understand how some people do at that point.

I just forced myself to wake up and put one foot in front of the other, day after day and relentlessly studied thought reform and hypnotism and the true history of Scientology and cults for weeks. After I month I was still in shock. After another it was the same. After another it was slightly better. Then month by month it got a little better, a little less frantic, a little less shocked and by a year out I was feeling almost normal. Over the six months since then things have even gotten more normal.

A person would expose himself to sources of information which he expected would increase consonance but would certainly avoid sources which would increase dissonance.
(Page 30)

This just seems like human nature. It is a terrible bias toward information that fits what you want to find, with avoidance of contrary evidence. This is terrible for objective analysis or critical thinking or scientific method. It is also bad for relationships. It exists to greatly varying degrees in people and even varies regarding different subjects within an individual.

So in a person considered reasonable and level headed this may be less than in a black and white thinker who is polarized, with unshakeable certainty on everything with no doubt or personal reflection.

Unfortunately, Scientology makes many members into extreme close minded and blindly obedient mental slaves. In this abusive relationship the victim tries to pretend the abuse and anything that could expose it are not true.

The operation of a fear of dissonance may also lead to a reluctance to commit oneself behaviorally. (Page 30)

Hence, it is possible for dissonances to arise and to mount in intensity. A fear of dissonance would lead to a reluctance to take action-a reluctance to commit oneself. (Page 31)

These ideas guide human behavior extensively, to avoid dissonance a person can avoid critical thinking and submit to an authority. The thinking is that the authority will reward obedience and bear responsibility for conduct. It is an imperfect solution. It discourages development of intellect and judgment. It actually atrophies these aptitudes.

This also helps to make leaving Scientology difficult. Committing yourself to looking at critical information on Scientology becomes an un-crossable boundary.

I want to note the dissonances definitely mount up as the cult member goes deeper into Scientology. Several strong factors intersect. The extreme difference between the Scientology elements within a person's mind and the precult identity's elements. The contrast is remarkably stark. Additionally the cult member must avoid a tremendous source of dissonance: direct observation of failure of the cult to fulfill its doctrine. They constantly see it as they go deep into the cult. Additionally Hubbard used contradictions in his doctrine extensively. He contradicted hundreds of his own statements. He changed methods and twisted definitions into reversals over time. That produces dissonance as cult members try to find consistent direction. Via trance logic it is avoided consciously but built to immense, even sanity testing levels subconsciously.

 I once read a description by a class XII auditor (the highest level in Scientology) who said the doctrine can appear paradoxical and contrary. I believe she thought some wisdom could be found with enough work - despite already spending decades of her life searching within the doctrine.

I feel the mounted dissonance creates a terrible dilemma- continue to submit to Hubbard's authority completely with certainty blinding your conscious mind, despite anxiety, reelingness, blankness and overwhelm creeping through to paralyze you with fear of making the wrong decision. So you leave as many decisions as possible to authority, namely Hubbard, Miscavige, Scientology management, even auditors and staff of any type.

I feel even independent Scientologists with exposure to critical information often are held in thrall by this phenomena.

For the chapter Festinger wrote a summary.

The core of the theory of dissonance which we have stated is rather simple. It holds that:
1. There may exist dissonant or "nonfitting" relations among cognitive elements.
2. The existence of dissonance gives rise to pressures to reduce the dissonance and to avoid increases in dissonance.
3. Manifestations of the operation of these pressures include behavior changes, changes of cognition, and circumspect exposure to new information and new opinions.  (Page 31)

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