In December 2012 I posted an essay on this blog suggesting that judgmentalism is a negative trait that Scientologists ought take care to curb. This blog is frequented in the main by former members of the church of Scientology who still consider themselves Scientologists. These are people that have been out of the organization for years and who profess that Scientology ought not be used to control and dominate the lives of others. Nonetheless, a popular counter-position posted in response to my essay was that ‘labeling, and judgmentalism, is just fine in and of itself – the only problem with such practice is inaccuracy of the labeling.’ Even years after their participation in the organization, many Scientologists considered a judgmental attitude a positive virtue provided it is done in keeping with their own standards of accuracy. The most zealous proponents of that idea resorted to ad hominem attacks on me for raising such issues, and ultimately disconnected from me.
I do not contend that the labels Scientology promotes usage of are inaccurate or harmful provided they are used in a professional manner as initially intended upon creation. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard created numerous constructs against which the mind, spirit and human condition could be understood and improved. He observed and recorded gradient scales ranging from horrendous, painful conditions all the way up to beautiful, joyous conditions. The scales are invaluable when used by professionally trained Scientologists to help move people up those conditions. But, just like any other field of the mind and spirit – including psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and other religions and systems of spirituality – the moment one takes the diagnosis and treatment or practice scheme out of the hands of trained, responsible practitioners and applies it casually and inexpertly in the field of day to day human relations, disaster is close to inevitable.
Imagine a friend telling you that you are an obsessive compulsive disorder case – in all seriousness – , and thereafter treating you as leprous until you conformed with that friend’s standard of acceptable behavior. How long would you tolerate that friend in your proximity? Not for long I suspect. Scientologists – regardless of levels of training – are encouraged to apply their own, equally judgmental, labels to others and apply them in life.
Scientology has a substantial lexicon of judgmental labels that rivals the scope and complexity of the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Its organizations promote their facile use in day to day life. Despite that, Scientology organizations spend millions of dollars a year condemning the DSM and its misuse or even professional use. Their argument is that such labeling is judgmental and as such it does not promote improvement but instead categorization and stigmatization.
Perhaps the most commonly used stigmatizing terms in Scientology are “suppressive person” or SP and “potential trouble source” or PTS. An SP is defined in Scientology as one of those roughly 2 ½ percent (Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard estimation) of any population who exhibit the characteristics of a sociopath or psychopath. Scientology’s diagnostic scheme for identifying an SP is nearly identical to psychology’s and psychiatry’s diagnostic standard for identifying the sociopath or psychopath. A PTS is a supposed member of approximately 20% of the population who are intimately connected with an SP and consequently are mistake-prone or act ill or cowed.
Scientologists are encouraged to take a three week course of study in order to achieve the purported professional ability and license to identify and handle an SP and the target of his effects, the PTS. All Scientologists are required to take this course and are expected to apply it with an attitude of certainty regardless of lack of any other professional credential. The result, bluntly, can denigrate into a community of untrained, arrogant, Monday morning shrinks passing the most condemnatory judgments upon one another at the drop of a hat.
To make matters worse, there is a distinct SP characteristic in Scientology writings that takes precedence over the other dozens that align with the psychology field’s similar diagnostic characteristics checklist. That is, if someone exhibits an ‘anti-Scientology’ leaning he or she is sure to be diagnosed as being an SP. To qualify one only need question the wisdom of any Scientology writing. This fact alone is probably more responsible for Scientology taking on the character of an insular cult than all others combined.
L. Ron Hubbard once quipped that it is futile to get into an argument with a psychiatrist. The problem, he noted, was that the minute you get a leg up on the psychiatrist he definitively ends the debate with the evaluation, ‘you are crazy.’ Ironically, this ad absurdum joke could almost describe the modern day Scientologist. If you attempt to even discuss a shortcoming of Scientology the debate decisively ends with the evaluation, ‘you are an SP.’ Per Scientology policy all Scientologists must disconnect from an SP. That is, the Scientologist must refrain from any type of communication with the SP, directly or indirectly. That policy holds whether the declared SP is one’s spouse, child, parent, business partner or best friend. The SP is entitled no civil or human rights as far as any Scientologist is concerned.
By way of comparison, the psychiatrists’ condemnatory label ‘crazy’ is a rather mild evaluation.
Nonetheless, Scientologists – even those who have disaffiliated from its organizations because of its alleged proclivity for judgmental evaluation, trying and sentencing of followers and the population at large – believe ‘judgmentalism’ is not a problem with Scientology. They are so dead serious about that that they are prepared to prove it by disconnecting from anyone who says otherwise.
Decompression is important in any cult recovery effort.
Re-education is probably even more important.