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 23, 2015

Scientology Building The Prison Of the Mind Part 6 Overcoming Denial And Counterarguing

Image result for a theory of cognitive dissonanceImage result for a theory of cognitive dissonance denial

 Image result for a theory of cognitive dissonance denialImage result for a theory of cognitive dissonance denial

Like all the posts in the Building the Prison of the Mind series this one will quote the book A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger. They should be read in order as they build one upon another.

In the book Leon Festinger describes many experiments to support his ideas. I won't repeat all of that. I suggest every ex cult member read that book. I will draw from his conclusions and concepts specific parts to reframe the Scientology experience.

In this post I want to address Festinger's ideas on how people will avoid unpleasant information. In his model certain aspects of the implications accompanying information make it unpleasant and to be denied, avoided or refuted.

Regarding information that is likely to create dissonance Festinger has definite ideas.

If the expectation is that the new information will probably increase dissonance, there is mostly avoidance of exposure except at very low dissonance and at the limits of dissonance. (Page 131)

That simply means if you are expecting information and can choose to accept it or not you will usually judge it as likely to agree with your beliefs (consonant) or be against your beliefs (dissonant) or not affect your beliefs at all (irrelevant).

He found people with little preexisting dissonance on a topic won't avoid the topic. If you have little anxiety or internal conflict on an issue you won't be worried or upset by potential disagreement. It's not a big deal.

Also if you have moderate or high dissonance on something you will strongly avoid disagreeing information. You will be uncomfortable and guarded about such information. You can be comforted by evidence that confirms your beliefs so you prefer that to escalating dissonance. It is more comfortable.

But if you have somehow achieved very extreme dissonance, all the way to nearly the possible limit, it will be quite different. At this point it flips. A person is quite uncomfortable about the dissonance inspiring subject and can't reduce that with agreement on the information.

So they stay uncomfortable, anxious, flustered and become desperate for resolution. They can have doubts creep in and display a behavior of seeking out dissonant information to resolve the issue. They are not as sure as they were and open to looking at the other side of an issue.

This happens often enough to be part of many lives. Most of us see our parents as perfect and all knowing until puberty (roughly) and become disillusioned and change our views. That change is a reversal. On our way there we get and accept more contradictory evidence.

That's an example of holding beliefs, getting evidence against them, then having dissonance mount high, and finally doubting your beliefs. Then looking for evidence against your beliefs and finally reversing your beliefs and being relieved in that the issue now feels settled.

You can probably think of other examples in your own life.

Now an important thing to be aware of is the tendency people have to try to avoid or minimize dissonance most of the time.

One might also expect, however, that at the initial moment of impact of the new dissonant cognition, effective processes could be initiated which would prevent the dissonant elements from ever being firmly established cognitively. One might expect to observe such things as attempts to escape or avoid further exposure, erroneous interpretation or perception of the material, or any other technique or maneuver which will help to abolish the newly introduced dissonance and to prevent the further introduction of dissonance. (Page 134)

That is a way to say that if you realize or suspect information will be against your beliefs automatic responses are switched on that can counterargue against the information. Counterarguing is thinking of claims against the information or reasons to not accept it or using fallacies to avoid the information.

There are other psychological defense mechanisms that are triggered including denial that all can have dissonance inspiring information set as triggers.

And emotional reactions that prevent even accepting the information. This is the anatomy of being close minded and stubborn.

Festinger describes several processes including intentional misunderstanding, thereby avoiding the dissonance, this can occur if the message is open to multiple interpretations or vague.

 Also if the message is clear and not capable of alternative conclusions then other methods are utilized. A person may accept a message on the surface but see exceptions or that a particular example is true but that the general principle in question is not.

This is strikingly similar to Hubbard's claim that "suppressive generalities" exist. Many Scientologists and exes embrace this technique to reject without analysis virtually any concepts they wish to avoid.

Festinger quotes the conclusions of others regarding a study.

"...the prejudiced person's perception is so colored by his prejudices that issues presented in a frame of reference different from his own are transformed so as to become compatible with his own views. Quite unaware of the violation of facts he commits, he imposes on the propaganda item his own frame of reference." (Page 136)

That is quite relevant to Scientology as Hubbard made an entire alternative belief structure that rejects reality and direct observations and scientific method and critical thinking and Socratic debate. It is intentionally created to overshadow any possible dissent through fallacies and preemptive derogation of all these means of accepting evidence disputing the legitimacy and authenticity of Scientology.

If a person is involuntarily exposed to information that will increase dissonance, then in addition to the usual procedures whereby he may reduce this dissonance, there are also set up quick defensive processes which prevent the new cognition from ever becoming firmly established. (Page 137)

This means a person upon suspecting dissonance could occur may not accept information. This is the origin of a person hearing but refusing to listen. They are rejecting information before they receive it. Based upon expectations, not conclusions.

There is a significant tendency to forget those items of information which introduced dissonance. (Page 158)

It is worth noting there are several forms of deception. Lying is knowingly trying to deceive another. Denial is making a deception that extends to your own conscious mind, but is not effective on your subconscious mind aka unconscious. Finally dissociation is a mental breaking off of a portion of the mind more severe and extreme than lying or denial.

I can firmly attest that all three methods of deception are utilized to varying degrees in Scientology. Reality is not compatible with Scientology, so lying, denial and dissociation are resorted to.

But through examining experiments Festinger may have found a weakness to bypass the triggering of defensive and coping mechanisms which normally prohibit unpleasant dissonant reality asserting evidence. Anticipation.

By not creating anticipation of dissonance with or before a message, a mind may accept dissonance inspiring information without a lack of critical thinking.

It seems clear that the avoidance and evasion of material which might produce or increase dissonance depends on anticipations (probably unverbalized ones) about the material or on preliminary assessments of the material. If one could, then, create a situation where the anticipation and the preliminary assessments of some information indicate a reduction of dissonance while the material itself actually increased dissonance, one would expect to observe more change of opinion; that is , for some persons the dissonance thus introduced would be reduced by changing parts of the existing opinion system. (Page 158)

That is a fancy way to say that if you want a message to get through to someone try to phrase it in a way that doesn't immediately trigger anticipation that information that disagrees with their beliefs or behaviors is forthcoming.

You have to use honey instead of vinegar. Don't lie. Find something acceptable to start with. Concede some things that are neutral or not threatening in nature. Engage what willingness they do show to listen.

This is particularly difficult with Scientology as the minds of Scientologists are extremely biased towards absolute fanatical zealotry. They are extremely biased against any criticism of Scientology or Hubbard.

But at times a point of entry is found, an idea or argument gets through. People leave and question Scientology every day. Just not enough quite fast enough.

But if critics and family can get through relevant information the cult member gets a chance.

This is why some cult experts advice using parallel information. Have a cult member read about a different cult, so anticipation doesn't prevent acceptance of information. Information on other groups can trigger realizations about Scientology.

I myself was alarmed as I read about the mental and emotional experiences of prisoners of war studied by a survivor of the Nazis. He described how POWs in Korea were brainwashed and I realized their emotions were identical to my own while in Scientology. That convinced me Scientology was brainwashing members and therefore a cult.

If the book was about Scientology by an ex I might have rejected it out of hand. If it was by an author I might have said they were never in, and don't know what they are talking about. But as a seemingly safe book it snuck in behind a non-threatening appearance, and so was retained.

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