The Insidious Cognitive Distortion That Fools You Into Thinking You Understand Someone When You Don’t

labeling cognitive distortionI first encountered the problem with labeling when I was a Scientologist. 

My father and I fought – a lot. After some initial successes in using Scientology techniques to control that fighting, over the years, fights would still break out. And they were always emotionally upsetting to me.

I was very aware of the PTS/SP technology in Scientology and there was always a temptation to just go ahead and label my father as an “SP” and be done with him. The highly trained Scientologists in my mission, Class 8 auditors George Seidler and his son Andy Seidler, never once encouraged me to do this. In fact, they were against it.

When I asked their advice on whether they thought my father was an SP, they very carefully said nothing. Instead, in a long discussion I had with Andy about this subject, he told me that my father and I were in a “games condition”, and that I should learn how to handle those in order to handle my relationship with my father.

I won’t go into what L Ron Hubbard said that a games condition was, except to say that this was a label used to characterize a situation or a series of events, rather than a person. That’s the important distinction here. It was also very useful to me to learn about this idea from Scientology. And yes, I was able to use it to further improve my relationship with my father.

In cognitive behavioral therapy, one of the few scientifically-tested forms of psychological therapy, labeling a person is considered a cognitive distortion. Here’s part of the Wikipedia description of the cognitive distortion of labeling.


Labeling theory – A more severe type of overgeneralization; attributing a person’s actions to their character instead of some accidental attribute. Rather than assuming the behavior to be accidental or extrinsic, the person assigns a label to someone that implies their behavior is intrinsic to the character of that person.

  • Example of “labeling”: Instead of believing that you made a mistake, you believe that you are a loser, because only a loser would make that kind of mistake. Or, someone who made a bad first impression is a “jerk”, in the absence of some more specific cause.

The whole problem with labeling my father an SP, no matter how upset I became with him, and no matter how tempting it was for me to label him, was that I’d known my father all my life. And while Hubbard’s label for the Anti-Social personality did describe some of his characteristics – sometimes – it certainly did not describe all of the characteristics I knew about him. Not by a long shot.

In fact, at one point when I was really facing this down, a small piece of me way down deep found it absurd that 12 traits, or even 24, could describe anyone. As a Scientologist, I didn’t entertain that piece of me for very long – it was too dangerous to my continued effort to prop up the Scientology in my head.

And anyway, if I did entertain that piece of me, it might mean that I’m an SP!

See how sticky the label of SP is? Once you assume that the label of “SP” is real, that there are real, live human beings walking around on the planet who are “SPs”, it’s very hard to not use the label in all of your thinking about yourself and others.

It wasn’t until I got out of Scientology that I learned two important concepts in critical thinking that effectively killed off any temptation to accept the label of Suppressive Person as a real thing.

Mental Constructs

pessimistic philosopher unfathomable must be the number of mental constructs one uses to support a f

A mental construct is a category of contemplation which reminds you to distinguish between real things and your thoughts about them. Real things are those that can be touched, physically measured, and experienced outside your head. Thoughts are things which exist only inside your head.

I know it sounds so simple that you shouldn’t need to say it, but for anyone who has ever been involved in Scientology, believe me, it’s important to say.

When I first understood this concept of a mental construct, I began to identify all the mental constructs that Scientology was built upon. I realized that there was almost nothing that was actually real in Scientology at all. From reactive minds to service facsimiles to Suppressive People, Scientology was almost 100% made up of mental constructs. That’s when the whole house of cards really started to fall for me as a Scientologist.

Mental constructs are not logical fallacies. They are very useful. For instance, there was a string of armed conflicts and insurgent actions from April 19, 1775 until 3 September 1783 across the eastern coast of the United States. These real events all occurred in time and place in the real world. These events all had a similar purpose, and that was for the British colonies to become independent of British rule, and for the British army to try to stop that from happening. We lump all these real events together and we use a mental construct to call them “The American Revolutionary War”.

This may shock you, but the American Revolutionary War didn’t really happen. All those battles did. “American Revolutionary War” is simply a mental construct we use to organize and understand those real events.

This is a legitimate use of a mental construct because it takes real things that really happened and organizes them in a way they they can be better understood.

As you’ll see, mental constructs don’t always meet this test of validity. And when they don’t, and you believe in them – oblivious to the fact that they are a mental construct only with no real-world analog – you can get into big trouble not in just your thinking, but in your real life too.


The Logical Fallacy of Reification

The second critical thinking tool which helps to identify the fallacies involved in the use of labeling is the logical fallacy of reification. Reification is defined in wikipedia as:

…Also known as concretism or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, reification is a fallacy that occurs when an abstract belief or hypothetical construct is treated as if it were a concrete real event or physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating something that is not concrete, such as an idea, as a concrete thing. A common case of reification is the confusion of a model with reality: “the map is not the territory”.

The term comes from Latin res (“thing”) and -fication, a suffix related to facere (“to make”). Thus reification can be loosely translated as “thing-making”; the turning of something abstract into a concrete thing or object.

So we have this label called “the Suppressive Person”. And we assume that SPs are real.

But when we take a human being who has been thoroughly checked out by the highest authorities in the Church of Scientology to be a real, live SP, and we examine his brain, his heart, and his lungs, we find absolutely no difference between the real parts of this “SP” and any other human being on earth. So there’s no real type of human being called an SP.

When confronted with this fact, the believers of SPs invoke the escape hatch for their belief: “Yes, but an SP exists in his BEHAVIOR and not in his brain matter!”

So we pursue the believer through his escape hatch. We acknowledge that behavior and actions really happen in the real world. You can pull out your smart phone and video them. If the theory on SPs is valid, then a real live SP would be a human being that goes around suppressing people.

Next question: What percentage of the time would he need to be suppressing people to be an SP? 100% of the time? More than 50% of the time? Would he ever NOT suppress someone? And if that’s true, even once, can we really label that whole human being as an SP, when he’s only suppressive sometimes?

This skeptical questioning causes the believer to dive into his next escape hatch for his belief in SPs: “Yes but it’s a term that is used pragmatically to cleanse your life of toxic people. You don’t need to follow an SP around 24/7 to see if he’s really an SP. You just need to “handle him” so he’s not suppressing you any more, and if he doesn’t “handle”, then you need to disconnect from him!”

This pursuit of the believer through his series of escape hatches gets us closer to the truth of what this label of SP actually is. If this label is simply a pragmatic tool to get away from people who you feel are toxic to you – then does that not admit that there are really are no such things as SPs in the real world?

If the label SP is just a pragmatic tool and there is no such thing as SPs, then SPs are only people who you are presently upset with, or who oppose or hinder you when you are trying to get something done.

And if that’s the case, doesn’t labeling a person as an SP block your ability to fully understand this human being that you are so upset with, and why they do what they do? Thus ensuring that you are never able to come to a resolution with him?

I think it’s the belief in the PTS/SP technology that is one of the most crippling set of beliefs in Scientology for this very reason: A Scientologist who sees SPs everywhere soon becomes unable to handle almost anything and anyone in his life.

I found this to be true even before I’d left Scientology. I knew that human beings have an infinite potential to be good and to be bad. And in order to understand them, you have to understand their environment and the problems that they are trying to handle themselves.

But that takes a lot of work. Most of the time you are so upset with the “SP” that you simply do not want to do that work, and you just want to get away from them.

Well that’s fine. But don’t then pretend that you understand the person you have labeled as an SP and all that motivates his behavior just because – like picking your nose and wiping a booger on him – you labeled him an SP.

I think that labeling people with labels like “SP” is a way to try to understand what is going on in the heads and hearts of people you are upset with – at a time when it’s the very hardest for you to understand them.

Nevertheless, labeling people is a very bad substitute for understanding them, because the meager insufficiency of the label itself can lead to further upsets and more damage to the relationship than if you were never fooled into believing in SPs in the first place.

These beliefs, their stickiness and their inherent escape hatches, don’t just apply to the label of SP. They apply to ANY label that you use as a substitute for understanding another human being.

Labeling People in Anti-Scientology

There are many parallels to the labeling done in anti-Scientology with the labeling done in Scientology. You would think that Ex-Scientologists who could see the fallacies in the PTS/SP technology would never get tripped up making these same mistakes when they get themselves out of Scientology.

But for a majority of Exes, I have found that the opposite is true.

After they get out of Scientology, too many Exes go straight for grabbing the corresponding labels that some of the most sloppy psychologists use to describe people. There is a label in Psychology actually called the “Anti-Social Personality” – which Hubbard probably stole from and bastardized for Scientologists for his “Suppressive Person” label.
narcissist nation
But there are many more labels for an Ex-Scientologist to choose from to stereotype the motivations of people they are upset with after Scientology.

“Narcissist”, and all its flavors, is another one.

How many types of narcissists are there?

There are:

  • Malignant narcissists
  • Collapsed narcissists
  • Acquired situational narcissists
  • Aggressive narcissists
  • Codependent or Inverted narcissists
  • Collective narcissists
  • Conversational narcissists
  • Corporate narcissists
  • Cross-cultural narcissists
  • Cultural narcissism
  • Destructive narcissists
  • Medical narcissists
  • Phallic narcissists
  • Sexual narcissists
  • Spiritual narcissists

and, believe it or not, there is even the “healthy narcissist.”

Just think about that. Isn’t this more about loving to use labels than an attempt to define anything real? Not one of these labels of types of “narcissist” is any more real than the label of “SP”, “PTS”, Degraded Being, or even “Witch”.

And to a person who believes in narcissists? By questioning the very idea of narcissism, this whole post that I am writing – all 2500 words of it – PROVES that I am a narcissist!

My point is that these labels are extremely shoddy substitutes for understanding people when you really need to understand them. In fact, these labels BLOCK that understanding when they are supposed to provide it.

There is no substitute for being willing and able to see things from someone else’s perspective -especially when you are locked in the middle a major battle or dispute with them. It’s the hardest thing to do, but I think that it is the ONLY valid route to resolving your disputes with others.

It is a major skill in itself. And that skill actually provides the tools you really need to “overcome the ups and downs in life”.

Having said all that, and with all these concepts in mind, watch this interview that Chris Shelton did with his psychologist his friend Rachel Bernstein called “Narcissists, Psychopaths and Sociopaths – Oh My!”

It’s more than an hour long, but you can get the feel for what I am saying by just watching the first 10 or 15 minutes. Observe their knowing nods with one another, and their complete lack of critical thinking and skeptical questioning of their own belief system about labeling other human beings.

I might be wrong, but it appears to me that Rachel Bernstein’s whole practice is based on labeling the people who surround her patients. As a psychologist who can’t prescribe medications, it seems to me that she works to find the right label that “indicates” to her patients, rather than the right drug and its correct dosage.

Again – I could be wrong.

And I’m sorry for bringing up Chris Shelton again. But he is such a great example of an Anti-Scientologist who is an unquestioning True Believer of the Anti-Scientology narrative. His sermons on the Anti-Scientology ideology are classics in unquestioning belief in one’s chosen religion after Scientology.

After being in the Sea Org and everything else Chris has experienced, you would think that Chris would have learned the problems in adopting an ideology to do your thinking for you.

Oh well.

Maybe he still will.

77 thoughts on “The Insidious Cognitive Distortion That Fools You Into Thinking You Understand Someone When You Don’t”

  1. How many types of scientologists are there?

    from your beginning post Alanzo, here it is:

    How many types of narcissists(scientologists) are there?

    There are:

    Malignant narcissists (arc sw scientologists)
    Collapsed narcissists (grade 0 completions)
    Acquired situational narcissists (grade 1 completions)
    Aggressive narcissists (grade 2 completions)
    Codependent or Inverted narcissists (grade 3 completions)
    Collective narcissists (grade 4 completions)
    Conversational narcissists (clear completions)
    Corporate narcissists (and so on up the bridge)
    Cross-cultural narcissists
    Cultural narcissism
    Destructive narcissists
    Medical narcissists
    Phallic narcissists
    Sexual narcissists
    Spiritual narcissists

    They all form a collective tribal narrative known as scientology.

      • I’m not saying it’s a one = one scale or comparison, Virginia. I doubt mean Malignant narcissists =(arc sw scientologists) or the others listed.

        I was just trying to expose the labels used in scientology.

        • Gib, if you’re looking for an example of that, this kind of psychiatric labeling is already built into scientology. The Tone Scale chart, remember that? Below “x” tone level is psychotic, above is neurotic. Then there’s the personality test, similiar idea. No shortage of biological psychiatry in scientology and dianetics, despite Hubbard’s protestations against it. Its actually built right into the core of dianetics itself – the engram.

          • yes Virginia, I actually read that link you provided awhile ago. I’m not quite sure of your conspiracy theory, but I did confirm from a separate read of the Heinlein/Campbell letters of the changes in terms from impediment to norns to engrams.

            Interesting reading Dr Winter book and his involvement from the very beginning of dianetics before it was released to the public. Dr Winter came to the same conclusion from personal auditing trained by Hubbard and Dr Winter’s own auditing of people, which is the stated case of Clear do not exist. Of course Hubbard then went full boar with OT, LOL

            • It sounds more that you have sources that you prefer the narrative on, or are simply more familiar with, and when I introduced sources that show that Hubbard was directly paralleling Siemen’s work, for example, it was something that was new to you and was not in alignment with your current views.

              I certainly write about conspiracies, and I am step by step proving them or disproving them, one at a time, as I dig deeper into history and find things no one expected me to find or piece back together.

              Some conspiracies, are now no longer “theories” in the sense of lacking proof.

              The article you read, among other points, offered new evidence that regardless of previously existing narratives and personal recollections as to Hubbard’s choice of the term engram, there are factual direct comparisons between the two men’s work that any reader can see the similarity for themselves.

              The article also covers the specific re-introduction of the term, and the particular Siemen take on it, just before Hubbard, by the Society of Biological Psychiatry.

              Which came first, did Hubbard, by choosing Siemen’s term and incorporating a number of his working points into Dianetics, copy the Society of Biological Psychiatry? Or was it the other way around? I lean towards the former, myself.

              Then there’s the question of WHY did Hubbard choose to closely parallel Siemen’s work in several key ways.

              Any thoughts on that?

  2. oh yes, Alanzo, Labeling, something I realized a few years back reading sources and/or possible sources of Hubbard’s ideas to influence or persuade others and other posts on all blogs, for Hubbard was to get people to become scientologists.

    The title of your post actually explains scientology or a scientologist:

    “Labeling: An Insidious Cognitive Distortion That Fools You Into Thinking You Understand Someone When You Don’t”

    There is no such thing called scientology or the science of knowing how to know, or an applied religious philosophy called scientology. It’s actually all of Hubbards ideas. The word scientology is a label as well as scientologist, those words are a shore story. LOL

    I like Marco’s comments. Let me expand on them. All of what I say is open to debate, right? LOL

    Hubbard was very clever with labels and he used them a lot. There is the familiar well talked about labels of PTS, SP, wog, etc., as you explain.

    But what about the the other labels? There are thousands of them. And here we get into Marco’s post and more.

    There is the label of HCOB’s, HCO PL’s ie OEC FEBC trained, there is the label of every post or staff recruited position on Hubbard’s org board for Missions, Class 5 orgs, Sea Orgs and sub Sea Org Orgs,

    There are the labels of training in dianetics and scientology.

    There is the label of every step on the Bridge to Total Freedom from ARC Release, Grade 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 to Clear and then to OT 8 and above. And of course the side line so called products of the L’s, Super Power, etc.

    All labels and all An Insidious Cognitive Distortion That Fools You Into Thinking You Understand Someone When You Don’t.

    I am not the Commodore or Captain of the Sea org. LOL

    • A label is not a name like “HCOB”.

      There was a defintion of label early in the post. And then i spent another 2300 words describing it.

      I gave examples.

      I get it. This is the esmb dirty needle drill, isnt it Gib?

      Youre suposed to say “Start”.

      • Look, I post a lot on ESMB, that doesn’t mean I am part of some cult called ESMB and it doesn’t mean I am doing a dirty needle drill, I just post my research and experience and whatever I post is instantly posted and if I ad hom, I will be banned on ESMB.

        I just post what I think as I do here.

        your definition of label:

        Labeling theory – A more severe type of overgeneralization; attributing a person’s actions to their character instead of some accidental attribute. Rather than assuming the behavior to be accidental or extrinsic, the person assigns a label to someone or something that implies the character of that person or thing.

        Hubbards HCOB’s all tell of a character of a person and what to think as Hubbard said, all of Hubbard’s HCOB’s are overgeneralization and attribute a person’s action to their character instead of some accidential attribute.

        All of Hubbards HCOB’s are about going clear, and then OT, or what to think.

        There is never any critical discussion in any of hubbards books, lectures or HCOB’s, or HCO PL’s.

    • Hi Gib,
      The beginning of this post is very interesting. The idea that Scientology is a “shore story” for Hubbardism is quite possibly the best description (and most accurate) I have ever heard. Brilliant.

      However, I have to agree with Alanzo that the rest of your post does miss the point of the topic heading. Alanzo wrote about Cognitive theory, not really about Scientology theory. Unless you are making the point that “OT8”, for example, is a construct that describes the complex end phenomena of that level. Even then it doesn’t seem to advance the conversation.
      What is the point you are making?

        • Now that’s a good point, Gib.

          An “OT8” label is one where you are supposed to think all kinds of GOOD things about a person, instead of a label like “SP” where you are supposed to think all kinds of bad things about a person. In both of these cases, the label is used to make you think you know something about the person when you don’t.

          Labels can be used both ways, and they are in Scientology.

          In both cases they are a kind of cognitive distortion.

          Have you taken the time to look up what a cognitive distortion is?

          Here’s a definition for you:

          Cognitive distortions are exaggerated or irrational thought patterns that are believed to perpetuate the effects of psychopathological states, especially depression and anxiety. Psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck laid the groundwork for the study of these distortions, and his student David D. Burns continued research on the topic. Burns’s The Feeling Good Handbook[1] (1989) describes these thought patterns and how to eliminate them.

          Cognitive distortions are thoughts that cognitive therapists believe cause individuals to perceive reality inaccurately. These thinking patterns often are said to reinforce negative thoughts or emotions.[2] Cognitive distortions tend to interfere with the way a person perceives an event. Because the way a person feels intervenes with how they think, these distorted thoughts can feed negative emotions and lead an individual affected by cognitive distortions towards an overall negative outlook on the world and consequently a depressive or anxious mental state.

          More here:

          I’ve been saying for years now that there are routine cognitive distortions traded back and forth by Ex-Scientologists on the subject of Scientology, and that these cognitive distortions contribute to a very unhealthy outlook on an Ex-Scientologist’s past.

          These cognitive distortions can be inspected and disputed by the person himself without any need for any kind of therapy at all. All you need to do is know about them and be mindful when they arise in your thinking.

          This process of questioning the more extreme thoughts about Scientology and who you were as a Scientologist – back when you used to be involved – can be very enlightening and therapeutic for an Ex.

          Been saying that for a long time now but I really don’t think anyone has actually gotten it. They are so wrapped up in the tribal narrative – that these ideas about cognitive distortions don’t fit in with – that they just call me a Scientologist or say that I am “flip-flopping”.

          The tribal nature of human beings can sometimes make them very hysterical. It’s that hysteria that I am trying to address.

          It’s damaging to people.

          • I know what you saying Alanzo and I agree and yet don’t, but maybe I do, it hard to explain. Maybe because I don’t like using words like cognitive distortion since you can’t talk to a scientologist using that term.

            Labels in scientology try to invoke good, like a Grade 0 completion is supposed to have the ability to communicate to anybody about anything. Sounds grand. However that label can also be degrading and lessen people and I think it applies on every step of the Grade Chart.

            As a gross example, when I read dianetics I came to the conclusion that I was abberrated unless “clear”. This is a whole package of thought, it fucked with my thinking since I thought my thinking wasn’t correct since I wasn’t clear, you know what I mean? So my constant thoughts were I got to get to “clear” so I can think clearly and be rational, logical, survive better, and so on.

            The whole Bridge to Total Freedom actually had an effect like that on me, if I wasn’t Grade 1 completion I still had problems and was screwed up. I understand the positive trick Hubbard used or you might say carrot on stick analogy that ex’s use, but the negative also has a bad effect. If that makes sense and that’s why I think dianetics and scientology are dangerous in addition to a false product of clear & OT. So I cringe when somebody says let them practice their “religion” called scientology, yuk.

            • I wanted to add that I think the title of this post is spot on, with a little change:

              “Labeling: Scientology Fools You Into Thinking You Understand Someone When You Don’t”

              meself laughing

            • You are familiar with the Supreme Court decisions in the past on this Gib? It can be “ethical beliefs” or views of the universe and the cosmos that can get something under the same exemption as God religions, there doesn’t have to be any “God” involved. Did you know that?

              So, what if the scientologist simply said they wanted to practice their beliefs?

              Personally I think NONE should have that tax exemption because it actually forces every tax payer in the neighborhood to subsidize religions and whatnot that they don’t belong to, and I seriously doubt that’s what the founding fathers had in mind.

              Congress shall make no law respecting….and all that.

              So someone’s slipping (a lot of someones) around that and enforcing everyone to subsidize ALL religions?

              I think their point was actually meant that you couldn’t force taxes out of people to ANY religion against their will, and that’s what is wrong here. In my opinion.

              • what actually are the beliefs?

                There are different levels of belief in scientology depending where one is on the Grade Chart.

                The beginning scientologist believes one can get a little help with communication or solving life problems. And then what happens?

                • Ok, thanks Gib. It doesn’t MATTER that much what the beliefs are, in at least one sense, because the courts are not going to intrude on that since its personal and subjective.

                  Again, the courts recognized that its hair-splitting and not their purview to argue whose belief is weirder or might be criminal, might be not criminal criminal or whatever than the others. The Catholic’s beliefs are every bit as crazy, and as criminal as their counterparts in scientology. BELIEFS, I said. Please note that. And some of their practices as well.

                  But anyway, this is why I said I don’t believe that ANY of them should have tax exemption. Let them all fend for themselves in the open market, if they are trying to make money off their followers in any way whatsoever. I don’t care if its called donations or not, its still money.

                • Gib,

                  You’re doing what I call the Tony angle. That’s where you say that other religions lay out their ENTIRE schpiel in the beginning and then you choose, and that scientology HIDES the Xenu story, etc. etc.

                  What you don’t seem to understand, is that doesn’t matter, not really.

                  Because, the persons accepts each belief as it comes up. Whether he SHOULD or not is beside the point.

                  Now, in Catholicism and a number of other religions, there are a number of things they do NOT tell people up front. Not by a long shot. Every religion, and I have been involved one way or another with a number of them, does a little trick of their own.

                  They DE-EMPHASIZE certain things in the telling, which are not true that are as “pass over that lightly” as they really are once the person is a member.

                  So, while maybe not as obvious as some aspects of scientology, it definitely does happen in much the same way, but not to the same degree or perhaps number of times.

                • I just do what I do from my education and research. I think it does matter that other religions are up front and scientology is covert. Here’s why I say that, I knew other religions believed in god from the get go and one is supposed to have faith. That’s all I know of those religions. And I wasn’t interested, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe or disbelieve there is a god. I just don’t know.

                  If I knew from the beginning when I got involved with scientology, that ultimately what the OT levels were about, and that is exorcising BT’s from the body, I would have never gotten involved with scientology, not in a million years.

                  In a sense I was lied to. or not given a power of choice, or even a critical analysis of what scientology believes in, but of course, it’s hubbardology. Chant to the Budda, or Commodore, with offerings of gifts called money, a pay as you go religion. LOL

                • I like what Mike said way down in the comments here. At least in scientology you don’t invest in it your whole life and have to die first to know it was all bs.

                  There is that slim possibility the person will figure out before they die, whereas with the other religions they literally “can’t” know until they are dead!

                  And then, conveniently, they can’t easily tell anyone.

                  We know scientologists who have figured it out and have left, they got that covered, in spades.

                  Lots of tellin’ goin’ on.

            • So, first they screw with your mind, then they tell you they have the cure to sell.
              Sounds dangerous to me.

              • Eileen,

                Kind of like the Catholics or the Christians or the Mormons. They tell you a bunch of crap about going to hell or heaven owning your own planet or whatever, and that you can escape the sins of this world if you accept the CURE.

                Baptism, salvation, whatever each one calls it. It’s the same game as far as that goes.

            • Good point Gib – every label in Scientology is intended to do a mind fuck of introversion.

              Just saying there are states of awareness never achieved by man before…and then never ever proving those states is a mind fuck…but they use other labels to justify that no one is clear or ot as LRH promised.

              The OCA test is meant to really fuck with people and it caused a few to commit suicide. I know my loved one did the OCA was so upset by the results – they sunk into a deep depression and withdrew from life and died shortly after that – just gave up.

              Scientology is a science of labeling people in order to $ell promises of getting new lables…all based on “belief” and no science.

              • Marco wrote:

                “The OCA test is meant to really fuck with people and it caused a few to commit suicide. I know my loved one did the OCA was so upset by the results – they sunk into a deep depression and withdrew from life and died shortly after that – just gave up.

                Are you serious here?

                Tell us the whole story…

        • Hi Gib – Alanzo enjoys intellectual debate. I’m just a simple man, as Bill O’Reilly likes to say.

          Chanting “No Clears! No OTs!” and trashing “exterior with full perception” is the easy way of trashing the whole subject of scn. Some people feel they got nothing from scn. It’s an individual matter.

          I want to compliment you, Gib, on your research and investigations, apparently starting soon after leaving scn. I just went out and rejoined the everyday wog world. I’m still a wog with a few spiritual notions.

            • I’m not a Buddhist, but I really like the translation of that chant. Here it is:

              Homage to the Buddha
              Thus indeed is that Blessed One:
              He is the Holy One, fully enlightened
              Endowed with clear vision and virtuous conduct
              Sublime, the Knower of the worlds
              The incomparable leader of men to be tamed
              The teacher of gods and men
              Enlightened and blessed

          • I know.

            I never said I got nothing from scientology.

            Hubbard said something like if you take all the knowledge of the world and reduce it to a few books, and if you further reduce it down, and down to a word, the word is survive.

            If you take all of scientology, the books, lectures, advice’s, training, auditing, HCOB’s, HCO PL’s etc. and reduce it down to a few words you get No Clears, No OT’s.

            Big Grin

  3. You’ve been discussing stepping away from labels a fair bit lately. I like that.

    When I was an indie, I kept telling people that. I wanted to make the point that there’s more than one thing to be in re matters scientological. But I got too into the label and identity so I decided no more of that. Then I tried very hard to let people know about this change. However, with the scapegoating I was experiencing, it seemed like some people were trying to push me back into that stereotype. A young woman who was already FZ before I met her later decided to ditch it. All of a sudden I was getting snippy shit from her and a couple others on FB -“you can’t keep her in any longer! ” I was aghast since I’d never told her to be into or out of the FZ and I didn’t give a damn what ideological choices she made.

    Boomima on ESMB, during one of their many ” I hate Claire” threads sourly said I was the most Scientologist ex Scientologists she ever knew. All I can come up with is that the scapegoat archetype psychologists talk about is true and it involves projection.

    It’s labels. People seem to need them. I know we need some definitions and structure in our lives, but we coukd ditch a lot of labels and do much better.

  4. I hope you post my comment because this is a subject that I find interesting. IMHO – Labeling is used to give people an idea of what to expect in another person. I think people can change and sometimes do. Labeling from the field of Psychiatry gets abused by members who don’t use it correctly – especially if they can get someone on to addictive drug$. The majority of psychiatric labels are helpful to me – however, I use them sparingly. I was in Scientology and did the Bridge to Clear. I also trained up to Pro Metering and found the e-meter to be an arbitrary tool. Did anyone else? Did anyone else notice that L Ron Hubbard accused the psychs of labeling while he designed the tech to label his members. For example – he says anyone connected to someone who does not like Scientology is PTS, The SP is someone who criticizes Scientology and the founder. There is the Pre-Clear, the past life clear, the mest clear, the dianetic clear, the GAT I Clear and now the GAT II Clear with super powers, L’s and the havingness Rundown. We have the FEBC trained staff member, the Class 9 auditor etc. Labels galore. What do you think about L Ron Hubbard’s Labels in Scientology after accusing the Psychs of labeling, Alanzo? I would be interested in hearing your viewpoint. Also I am curious Alanzo, do you still use “Scientologese? ARC – Marco

  5. This is a fascinating subject, and worth discussion and further inspection.

    Some labels, such as “The American Revolutionary War,” are useful. One has to remember that it is a label and that it is a construct and often that can be quite the trick.

    I find the label Narcissist to be useful, but only when closely defined to a set of clearly stated behaviors. One has to know onenis looking at a map of the terrain.

    Indeed, I would say that this distinction of the map vs the terrain is not even taught in school or if it is, it is not emphasized enough. If one had “special interests”, it would make it easier to get support for your cause if people were confused in the area of mistaking constructs for reality.

    But I think you can go a bit too far in decrying the use of Labeling. Labeling is a word, a shorthand concept, that describes a natural mental function to attempt to organize observations and thoughts about something in order to better understand it, and probably more importantly, to reduce the unpredictability of that thing.

    Some useful labels:


    Some easy to manipulate, and thus problematic labels:


    Some labels which have been so abused, or so manipulative, its probably best to reject them:

    Suppressive Person

    A problem with labeling is that it is so easy for a special interest to co-opt your thinking by relabeling things or coloring or spinning the meanings.

    Since the tendency and desire to label is ingrained in humans and is going to continue, perhaps a useful thing to
    teach going forward would be the basic idea of labels being a map and not the terrain and the different types of labels and how they can be used against you.

    • Yes. We’re talking about some of the most buried and embedded thinking in people. It’s so easy to think with these things, and build whole scaffoldings of thought upon assumptions that you never inspect.

      For instance, almost everyone in the US assumes that there is a “spectrum” of political beliefs. They picture it in their minds: Communism and socialism is on the left side of the spectrum and fascism and “conservatism” is on the right.

      Think of all the unexamined and untested assumptions in that one mental picture!

      But the basic-basic one, upon which all these others are built, is the assumption that a spectrum – something that was developed to plot the frequencies of light from infrared to ultraviolet – can somehow plot political beliefs.

      At least frequencies of light have a real value that can be plotted! But political beliefs do not have any real read-out that came from any kind of a spectrometer.

      Hubbard talked about implants as these things installed by alien forces to make you think in certain ways and not in others. If there is a reality based analog to Hubbard’s idea of an implant – it’s these un-inspected metaphors and mental constructs that we are talking about here.

      Inspecting, examining, and questioning these things – from your own unique viewpoint and not from some ideological decree – really does bring about “case gain”.

      Great posting, John Doe!

      • Some good stuff here on your blog. Ascending to levels of happiness never achieved by ex Scientologist’s is what I am all about, I appreciate your input everyone. I was only in for 4 years and have been out equally as long. I must say that Scientology did more damage than good for me. I was in another cult before Scientology and it actually helped me but it did not trap people …they were free to leave or come and go. It has taken every bit of 4 years to deprogram the Bridge and “manipulation training” and I am still working on the triggers from the betrayal. I have a hard time trusting groups so I avoid them. I don’t do “church” either. Do you have any of that side effect still Alanzo or anyone else? Thanks for any input.

        • Marco – My own personal experience is that I started reading Mark Rathbun’s blog and purely by chance I started with his “Deconstructing Scientology” series of posts published around mid 2014. I dove in for a couple of weeks, and the back and forth intelligent conversation seemed to bring up or “bubble up” the hidden programming I’d carried forward.

          Regarding betrayal I later came across or discovered my cognitive dissonance (equal but opposing viewpoints) which was:

          I should continue my intellectual and spiritual advancement – BUT – I can’t trust anyone

          I had an F/N on that for days or maybe even weeks – laughter

        • Hi Marco,
          I am sorry to hear that 4 years has not gotten you free of the mind trap. Manipulation training is truly evil. It harms a person’s brain and mind quite possibly as badly as the doping, shocking, and surgery of the pre-1960s psych profession.
          But people recover, and find people who they can trust. Baby steps will get you a long way.

      • I think he also said that there are implants people install on others without it being a part of alien or interplanetary matters.

        Like parent takes child and applied duress and pain every time child says or does something unacceptable to the parent. That’s an implant with no alien interference.

  6. First, I don’t know Chris Shelton; however, I have read/watched most of this output. Some things I agree with, other things not.

    One of the things I do not agree with is: The ex-Scnist has been damaged by being involved in Scn, and will likely spend the rest of their life recovering from it. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.

    Now, he has the unenviable, unofficial title of Scn Answer Man. This is a position that he has assumed and is running with it, so I have to assume this was intentional. The primary liability with such a position is, you feel compelled to come up with a “logical” explanation for anything Scn-related.

    At times I find this disingenuous. The may preface a response with “I don’t anything about that…”, in an effort to appear honest and unbiased. But, then proceed to present a response borne out of his “learned reasoning” and “critical thinking”. From that point forward he operates off of that, as if it were fact.

    In order for his theories to work, everyone must essentially be the same on some level (Scn concept). So, everyone has been traumatized; everyone has been damaged; everyone has deceived themselves, or allowed themselves to be deceived.

    If an Ex were to say, “I’m over it”, well, they are just “in denial”. Because per Shelton’s Recovery Model ©, you’re never really “over it”. You essentially have to be an Anti-Scnist for the rest of your days; continually digging and exposing the bottomless pit of lies and deception within Scn.

    If you’re in the business of Anti-Scn, the last thing you want is people recovering from it. Again, this is very similar to the church’s business model. You don’t want actual, real OTs, you want people trying to go OT.

    I shouldn’t be too hard on Chris, he’s trying to work through this himself. Everyone has their own route. And I know he works hard on his videos, more than what I’m doing. I have found many of his videos to be informative and well-presented.

    For new Ex’s, Shelton’s place is a good place to land.

    And eventually…they’ll end up here 🙂

    • I understand what you are saying, at least he is doing something. And that is to be commended.

      But I have a hard time watching Chris Shelton’s output. For positioning himself as such a thoughtful critical thinker, I find that he has way too many unexamined assumptions. That video of him and Rachel Bernstein above is a great example of his adoption of the ideology of her psychological therapy practice without questioning any part of it.

      I also do not agree that Shelton’s place is a good place for newly out Ex’s to land. As you say, he diseasifies having been in Scientology – which is not healthy at all for a new Ex – and then he places them in this “you’re an ‘alcoholic’ or you are “mentally damaged” and now you have to ‘recover'” trap. This just isn’t true for the overwhelming majority of Exes and I believe that placing them in that trap is actually damaging to them.

      That Wellspring study I cited from the wikipedia article on Apostasy found that 67% of people who left cults felt “wiser for the experience”. Broad, fundamental findings like that are nowhere in Chris’ work and yet it comes from an actual scientific study – something Chris claims to value as an atheist and a critical thinker.

      In fact, Chris went through an entire book, chapter by chapter, written by religious scholars who have studied Scientology. Throughout, he displayed a stuck attitude that they were all “cult apologists” who were “paid by Scientology”. His confirmation bias was so strong that he treated their information as “enemy propaganda” with out once giving serious consideration to their views whenever their views called into question the standard anti-Scientology narrative that he is pushing.

      This is not critical thinking. This is pushing an ideology. Just like he did when he was a Scientologist.

      I think that’s the last thing newly out Exes need after getting out of Scientology.

      And I’m certainly not saying they need to come HERE. Oh my God no. That would be like giving whiskey and a cigar to a 5 year old. And I don’t want to have to be responsible for that.

      Chris is a great writer, and he can very clearly express ideas. I agree that he is a valuable voice in the community. He just needs to start flirting with heresy a little more, take a little walk on the wild side, and grow the social cajones to say something non-standard for once.

      If there is one main criticism I have of Chris Shelton it is that he is still shoving the ideology down the throats of Exec Dirs of Scientology Orgs from his position at CLO West US. He still sees himself as part of an effective TEAM working shoulder to shoulder to clear the planet using the anti-Scientology ideology.

      I think we need a little more CHRIS and a little less ideology. But in order to do that, Chris himself has to let go of the ideology he is clinging to after Scientology, and start swimming on his own. As any Ex-Scientologists knows, that can be a terrifying thing to do.

      Can he do it?

      • This is very interesting. This is where the Rick Ross cult education website has parted ways with Stephen Hassan – precisely because he insists that his model (where a cult member actually develops a “cult identity” which remains in conflict with the basic identity long after involvement with the cult ceases) is universally applicable, rather than the experience of some.

        Stephen Hassan, like Tony Ortega, has to make a living on this stuff.

        • Yes. And Exes come to believe it because they have no alternatives within the Ex community. No one questions the anti-cult narrative

          I’m finding that Apostasy is a big and fascinating subject with lots of information that doesn’t fit the mold.

      • I can’t say what Chris is doing is actually harming people. He is quite overt about being an atheist, and promotes his “critical thinking”. I think he thinks he is being objective, scientific and unbiased, though I would disagree.

        I wouldn’t discount the new ex-Scnist’s ability to discern fact from fiction, right from wrong, delusion from reality. They are coming out of an extended period of rigid thinking and fixed viewpoints. The best thing they can do is expose themselves to a wide variety of viewpoints. And that is going to occur with members of the community. So, I feel it is less about the singular personality and their ideology, and more about the conversation they spawn.

        It’s worth nothing that there is very little discussion on Chris’ web site. To that degree, its the Shelton Show, with a focus on personality (and ideology), rather than intellectual discourse.

        Early on, with Marty and Mike’s blogs, there was a wide variety of viewpoints. This is what attracted me. As time went on we saw that distill down to narrow bands, with many ASC characteristics. I wouldn’t assume this was solely directed by the host.

        People change and evolve once out of the Scn trap. Some do it rapidly, some painfully slow. The whole landscape has changed.

        • Just because the process of losing your religion is upsetting and sometimes even terrifying does not mean that you have been damaged or diseased by it. And the extent to which you convince a person that they have damage or a disease when they don’t, and then you convince them that they need to “recover” from this non-existent disease – this can literally be damaging to a person.

          Some Ex-Scientologists have the mental damage and the disease that Chris describes over and over on his channel. Most don’t.

          It’s similar to convincing a person he has a reactive mind, and then telling him he needs all this expensive auditing as the only way to recover from it.

          • I agree with you, in principle. However, claiming actual, tangible damages would require a more rigorous examination.

            It was this claim by Shelton which caused me to pause and reconsider his take on the “recovery” process (even referring to it as recovery presupposes damage or loss).

            Great example with the reactive mind, very similiar.

            These issues do need exposure.

    • statpush – Over the past few months I’ve been telling a good friend of mine about a few things I’ve been learning about and thinking about from participating on the scn blogs. He worries that I’m still “stuck in scientology.” laughter – I assure him that I’m not, but I think he’s still leery!

      As far as “new Ex’s”, I doubt there are that many. Maybe a few hundred per year.

      • If that.

        You should show him your fingernails to prove that there is no clay in them. You should take a blood test to prove you are free of niacin.

        Maybe then he will believe you.

        • Laughter – That would be the worst thing to do. If I started describing Clay Table and the Purif, he would think I was totally bonkers to get involved in the first place!

          He’s a total realist. Known him since kindergarten. He doesn’t need or want cable tv, so I let him watch Going Clear on my tv. He laughed his ass off all they way through!

          • It was pretty funny the way it happened. He was watching the doc upstairs while I was doing chores downstairs. About every 5 or 10 minutes he’d let out a roar which would get me laughing too. We share the same sense of humor.

            BTW – Season 3 of “The Leftovers” starts this evening on HBO. An interesting show for cult watchers and enthusiasts.

  7. Just started looking at your blog Allen, after years of reading your comments on various other blogs. Lots of interesting stuff here to think about and you make your points very well. Keep up the good work.

  8. Nice work on Cognitive concepts. CBT helps many people. I hope you will write more on this topic.
    The list of types of narcisssists shows how ridiculous labeling can be as we make finer and finer cuts on a label.
    I have always liked the concept of “healthy narcissism”. It recognizes that self-promoting can be healthy. It protects the diagnosis from being used against people who are merely seeking their own best interest. Nothing wrong with that.

    • I was wondering what you were going to think of this, Eileen.

      I’m so glad you support my use of these concepts here. The concepts I’ve gathered from reading about cognitive behavioral therapy have been the most helpful to me in my life. I think that would have been true whether I was ever involved in Scientology or not.

      They also work very well in a discipline in Buddhism called vipassana, or “special insight”. If the purpose of Buddhism is to reduce suffering, which is how I see Buddhism, then identifying and examining thoughts such as cognitive distortions – which have been found to cause suffering – are very important.

      At least it has been for me.

      • A number of years ago I worked in a clinic that served refugee populations. Many of the people were victims of torture, were from countries where genocide campaigns had been carried out.
        The Dali Lama’s Monks visited the clinic. I expected the monks to be showing overt compassion, but they were very neutral in their attitude. The message they delivered was basically (this is my interpretation) “you are safe now, you have food now, be in this moment not that one.” Would that be akin to Vipassana?

        • That’s interesting. I don’t think that would be vipissana. Vipissana is a meditative examination and questioning of your thoughts, and where and how they arise, and what the consequences are. It, along with calm abiding, is one of the two parts of Buddhist meditative practice.

          The message you described seems to me to come from a principle that the Buddha described as “if someone shoots you with an arrow, make sure you don’t shoot yourself with your own arrow.”

          It seems to follow the Buddhist attitude that an untrained and undisciplined mind can cause you more damage and suffering than your worst enemy.

          But I’m a terrible Buddhist. And so I really shouldn’t be trying to answer this.

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