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View Diary: Scientology: A Religion, but a Threat to Mental Health? (291 comments)

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  •  It's all a matter of degree (6+ / 0-)

    Some manipulate far more aggressively, and some are less manipulative. And some do it in a quieter, more insidious manner which, due to its less obvious character, could be argued to be even more entrapping.

    I'm not against all religions and cults (by the way, some cults are non-religious) but I'm definitely against all the various methods of control, using, for the most part, fear, regardless of the category of group.

    For example, fear of social exclusion and non-acceptance, fear of loss of spiritual standing and status, fear of the after life in hell, or an after life in some horrible incarnation, or various forms of retribution. Even such things as fear of a split in relationships, fear of being alone, fear of being cast aside.

    Even modern religion uses such threats, if the scriptures mean anything at all to followers. The degree to which the threats are taken seriously usually depends on the level of involvement, with a lay following having more latitude than the dedicated, disciplined insiders, who aren't much different in some cases from the state of things in earlier times.

    One of the most manipulative methods is the social pressure of attaining hierarchical positions in such groups, and where one fits on ladder of achievement. Scientology has its levels of mastery, with becoming "Clear" a priceless attainment, but other churches have hierarchy as well. Loss of social status becomes one of the worst threats of all.

    And usually, it all centers around a charismatic figure who becomes so revered he/she is unassailable, completely beyond criticism or reproach; in fact, so beyond reproach that doubters and questioners become attacked, shunned, and labeled with various denigrating epithets. Intolerance is a key sign.

    These traits and tendencies are also seen in political cults, and other groups. I once knew a bunch of people who were in a therapy cult centered around a psychotherapist, and they had become as dependent as any follower of religion. This isn't by any means limited to religion.

    "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

    by ZhenRen on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:42:19 PM PST

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    •  Here, I agree with you (7+ / 0-)

      and think you've written much about how I see this too. My parents were in a cult for a while. I spent my first two years in a cult which was pretty intense, and I knew kids in it for years and years.

      I also agree that there are forms of personal depency which become cult-like.

      In the matter of Scientology, I think it's extremely creepy because it has been codified as a religion and thus main-streamed in the U.S. which has enabled it to enter into more mainstream political and public discourse. And this has happened very, very subtly without much knowledge that it is happening (because of the threats involved, the protectionism, and also the censorship that Scientology has managed to achieve).

      People should know about this one. They're definitely out to brain wash individuals, but they're also using their influence to impact mental health legislation and public and physician education both, which is absolutely groteque.

      Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

      by mahakali overdrive on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:54:39 PM PST

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    •  Liberal, mainline Protestantism isn't controlling (4+ / 0-)

      at all. Maybe that partly explains why those denominations are in decline. ;-)

      One thing you don't mention in your very insightful post is that in many cases, belonging to a religion is just a matter of maintaining a family tradition and/or cultural identity. Thus, you have Jews, Christians, and Muslims who culturally identify with those faiths but are not actual believers.

      I would say this is another dimension that differentiates religions from cults. Being Orthodox is part of being Russian; being Catholic is part of being Polish. No shopping around for a denomination for those people (Protestant missionaries from America notwithstanding).

    •  The Scientology Reformation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gerrilea, Brit

      Can't remember where I read this, but a group of "blown" members (left the group without permission) are trying to use the "tech" without the creepy authoritarianism.  They felt the rules for communications and focusing we're helpful and wanted to keep using them.

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