The problem of cultism is just those evil leaders, right? You'd think that, looking at most coverage, but leaders ain't shit without followers:
In Snapping, Conway and Siegelman talked about ‘information disease’ and say that Scientologists take far longer to recover than other cult members. They reckoned twelve and a half years. While their investigation was far too small to confirm this, I can say, after talking to more than 500 former Scientologists, that it often takes much longer.
Back in the nineties, I was approached by a man who had been housebound for twenty years. His wife had persuaded him that they must return to Saint Hill, in England, to see if that would help. They stayed with a friend of mine, who gave the chap a copy of A Piece of Blue Sky. He read the book, came to see me for an afternoon and went home. A few weeks later, I received a post card, saying that he had found a job. If I’d seen him twenty years before, he would have returned to the world then. The thought scared me.
More recently, a second generation member, who left over a decade ago, told me, after one of our conversations, that she’d used scented fabric conditioner in her laundry for the first time. She had realized that scent may not be a psychiatric plot for world domination after all.
These ideas stick around, if uninspected. And some of the ideas are far more devastating than Hubbard’s infantile fear of perfume. Many former members spend the rest of their lives believing that people ‘pull it in’ and that we are surrounded by psychopaths. They think that illness is caused by connection to such psychopaths, though some strange psychic effect on the immune system. One former member even told me that I shouldn’t waste time helping Scientologists, because they have ‘pulled it in.’ I asked her if I should allow a child to go under a bus, based on the same reasoning, and suggested that it is only our compassion for others that makes us human. But compassion is not a major element of Scientology.
We all suffer from confirmation bias — pushing aside evidence which falsifies our beliefs, and grabbing at whatever seems to confirm it — and this can be deadly in former members. There are so many taboos to overcome. For instance, I felt quite guilty when I first read about the brain, but it reminded me of a Christadelphian meeting I went to as a teenager, where the congregation laughed uproariously whenever Darwin was mentioned. I realized that I’d been conditioned to feel disgust, which is a standard manipulation, used by all demagogues.
Scientologists steer clear of many taboo words. Very few will say ‘victim’ or talk about ‘sympathy,’ for instance, and there is often confusion about the real meaning of words such as ‘reasonable’ and ‘affinity.’ Hubbard alerted followers to ‘propaganda by redefinition of words,’ and then filled two 500-page dictionaries with his own complex and often contradictory examples (e.g., ‘it’s a tough universe, and only the tigers survive’, but a ‘tiger’ is a bad staff member. Maybe he had a point).
I encourage discussion of the principles of Scientology. It claims to be a science, so it should be susceptible to analysis and evidence-based investigation. Of course, Scientologists are discouraged from talking about the techniques (‘verbal tech’ is a ‘high crime’) or their ‘cases.’ They are also forbidden any complaint about fellow believers, unless it is in the form of a ‘knowledge report.’ So, talking about the principles can be difficult, but I believe that it is the only way to escape Hubbard’s implanting.
Wow - today, very few want anyone to mention being a "victim" either (especially online). Hmmm. And they're definitely lacking in sympathy and compassion. And they're confused. And contradictory. Double Hmmmm.
If you ask me, forget fluoride, this is what's in the water,...