I wanted to talk very briefly about language and how it can be used harmfully by destructive cults and people who do not have your best interests at heart.
Language is not just a tool to communicate ideas but is a way of creating and controlling the way people think about things. It is perhaps one of the most powerful tools Mankind ever created. How it is used can determine the fate of nations and can alter the very nature of reality. Let’s talk about a few ways this works.
We all know the people, especially some authors, who use big words to impress or intimidate rather than communicate. Sure, there are lots of times when big words are exactly the right ones to use to communicate specific concepts, but there are also times when the speaker is just showing off or trying to make his audience fell less intelligent. And most of the time it works. Often, people will automatically grant authority to someone who is throwing words at them they don’t understand, assuming that this authority figure is the one who knows what he or she is talking about and that they are the ones who are ignorant. But you know what? That’s not always the case.
George Orwell also talked about re-defining words to make familiar concepts become a means of control, such as taking big broad terms such as freedom or independence or unity and twisting these into thought-stopping cliches which mean wholly different concepts such as slavery or obedience. When politicians and government officials, the media, advertisers and other lowlife do this, they actually can alter the thinking patterns of an entire population and get them fighting and killing one another over these words. This is another reason that thought stopping cliches can be so dangerous and why it is critical that we actually understand what people are saying to us. I don’t know if there is a single subject that covers this sort of thing in detail, but there should be because this is probably one of the most powerful manipulation techniques ever invented.
Then there is another trick of inventing new words or phrases to describe things that don’t really exist at all but which then get people looking at the world differently or behaving in all sorts of insane ways. Let’s talk about a specific example of this from Scientology.
When L. Ron Hubbard started talking about responsibility and the need for Scientologists to take responsibility for the moral transgressions they had been committing in their lives, he described a mental mechanism which he called a “missed withhold”. It’s a simple idea that goes like this: let’s say you did something you don’t want other people to know about, like you stole a piece of candy from a store. Now you know it was wrong to do this and so you withhold telling anyone about it because you don’t want to get in trouble. In Scientology, this is called a withhold. A person can accumulate a lot of withholds and Hubbard said that this was a major cause for a person to have trouble in relationships or in life and even could cause perception problems, all of which is true enough.
Now a missed withhold is something else though. Sometimes people do things that remind you about a specific withhold and make you wonder if they might know. When that happens, your withhold is said to be missed. It is almost found out about but not quite. For example, we said that you stole a piece of candy. Maybe later on, it doesn’t matter when, your Mom gave you a piece of candy out of the blue. When that happened, the first thing you thought about was stealing that piece of candy from the store and it gives you a feeling of being caught out and maybe even wondering if your Mother actually knows that you stole that candy. All you have to do is think about it even a little bit, and now you have what is called a missed withhold.
This business of feeling caught or almost caught is true enough for a lot of people, enough of us that most of you are probably agreeing with this idea of a missed withhold. But here’s where it becomes a control mechanism. Hubbard then said that when a person experiences a missed withhold, he will always become critical of the person who missed it. So guess what? If you are complaining about someone or faulting them for something they did or said, the only reason you are doing that is because at some point, they missed a withhold on you. They did something that made you wonder if they know about some moral transgression you committed.
This is not some passing comment that Hubbard made in a lecture. No, he spent whole lectures talking about nothing else but this exact thing. It is a very big deal in Scientology. All he really did was take advantage of the psychological mechanism of guilt that most of us feel when we have done something wrong, and he then twisted that into this new idea where he could control how people think.
How does this get used as a control mechanism? Lots of ways, such as giving all Scientologists a rationale for ignoring anyone who is criticizing Scientology. As far as Scientologists are concerned, the only reason that I am speaking out about Scientology or am critical of any part of it is because of my own moral transgressions. You see how that works? If I were innocent and clear of any wrongdoing, then to their way of thinking, I wouldn’t be criticizing Scientology.
Of course, this becomes much worse when you are IN Scientology. Because Scientologists believe this, they will police themselves. They will think that if they have a problem with what someone in Scientology is doing or with some new program or being kept up for hours on end being pushed to give money to the cause, that it’s on them. It’s their fault for feeling critical because they must have done something bad which someone missed. And so you have every Scientologist never openly criticizing the group or its executives or leader. To think that this was done by some accident on Hubbard’s part would be the ultimate in naivite. This is classic conditioning and it is very effective on Scientologists.
This is but one of many examples of language manipulation leading to thought manipulation and control in Scientology, but L. Ron Hubbard was not the only person by far to do this. There is no reason to be afraid of language or of being manipulated by it. You simply have to be more aware of what people are saying to you and what they mean with the words they are using. Language is the conduit of ideas and what ideas you allow into your brain and how those ideas grow depends entirely on you. At least, it does so long as you are the one policing what ideas are getting in there in the first place. If you let people who know best or who you think know more than you do tell you how to think, then anything goes.
Thank you for watching.