That's the mystery, alright. I've met several Scientologists, and
they're usually smart, caring, capable people. How do they get sucked
After Keith Henson piqued my curiosity the other day, I began digging
for some of the juicier details on the profound weirdness that is
Scientology. The best thing I've found so far is an unauthorized
biography of L. Ron Hubbard, available here:
I've managed to read through Chapter 11 so far, and it's truly
astonishing. I don't recall ever seeing such an over-the-top case of
clinical narcissism. He also seemed to suffer from manic-depression
with paranoid tendencies.
Hubbard had the mind of a six-year old boy. He was the center of the
universe, could do no wrong. He lied compulsively, didn't seem to
grasp the distinction between truth and falsehood. Completely lacked
empathy. Manipulated people without any concern for their well-being.
Desperately wanted to be revered as a great man. In short, a classic
profile of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
He believed he was the savior of the world. This delusion is
commonplace among severe cases of pathological narcissism. But why
would anyone follow him in this belief? How did he transmit his
insanity to a large group of people, most of whom were otherwise
normal and rational?
Years before the introduction of memetics, Hubbard became a master in
the art of formulating highly infectious memes. He claimed that
"Dianetics," little more than a recycling of Freudian theory with a
bunch of gratuitous neologisms thrown in, was mankind's greatest
breakthrough since the harnessing of fire! Rather than appealing to
our logic, this pathological meme exploited our unconscious need for
authority, in this case the authority of the all-seeing psychologist.
This may sound strange today, but fifty years ago, psychology seemed
almost magical in its ability to pierce the secrets of the soul.
"Scientology," with its religious overtones, proved even more
effective at exploiting our craving for authority. Scientology
promised a sense of security, as well as relief from suffering
and the sense of community that comes from joining a close-knit group.
Most importantly, it provided a sense of meaning. When you join up
with Ron, you can share in the belief that youre saving the world.
In short, he conjured a virulent meme that began reproducing his
delusion of grandeur in the minds of his followers. His private
narcissism became the collective narcissism of the group.
Like any cult, Scientology represents the atavistic return of the
tribe. Instead of identifying primarily with yourself, you come to
identify with the group and particularly with its leader. Ron himself
may be dead, but his delusion lives on, copying itself with the
recruitment of each new member of the cult.
Arnie Lerma replies:
thanks for this,
even after years out of scientology and years fighting them,
I am pleased and baffled that posts such as this help me to get
rid of more vestiges of cultic mind think.
It is a great segway from this,
to the story of the shipwrecked kids building what they think is a society
alone on an island in the book called Lord of the Flies.
Which in my mind describes the world of Scientology that David Miscavige Mike Rinder, Kendrick Moxon, Helena Kobrin, Tom Cruise,John Travolta et all are living in.
Great observation. Thanks again.
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