A lot of what I do has come to be characterized by my wife and me as assisting folks to graduate above Scientology. It is somewhat of a unique notion. In fact, the vast majority of people who devoted much time to Scientology ultimately go through the graduation process; reconciling what they learned and gained, differentiating it from the entrapment mechanisms involved, and finding ways to integrate with society, and to evolve and transcend as a person. As far as Scientology-understanding assistance along that route, resources have been slim.
To date there has really only been a couple of paths for Scientologists and ex-Scientologists; at least ones that are assisted by Scientologists or ex-Scientologists who understand something about the subject. Both avenues are of the least resistance variety; the easy, least effective ways that ultimately don’t lead toward graduation.
First, one can cling to his firmly held Scientology religious beliefs and continue with the installed cognitive dissonance that entails. He or she can be guided to pretend that it is all ‘over-there’ in the church and play the ‘I am the resurrection of the real Scientology’ game. That ultimately leads to a sort of bitter, secluded ‘victorious Confederate soldier’ megalomania and melancholy. Second, one can be guided to redirect the implanted Scientology need for an enemy and spend years in a state of suspended enturbulation, senselessly flailing at the church or Scientology itself. The latter route leads to much the same state of mind and consciousness as the former.
I think both routes are infected by perhaps the most insidious virus one is inoculated with in participating in Scientology. That is the need to have an enemy. I have written about this before, e.g. Cults, Enemies and Shadows. It is a decidedly ‘effect’ state of mind; a continual restimulation of a paranoia about the external ‘true’ cause of one’s travails. It does not lead to growth, evolution and transcendence in any sense. It is like remaining in High School year after year, failing to evolve past the angst of adolescence.
There has been a tremendous amount of research done on stages of human growth; cognitive, psychological, moral and more. This is research done by way of learning more about biology, and observing and interviewing tens of thousands of people for over a century. It is not ivory tower ‘psych’ chatter. James Fowler thoroughly studied this huge body of work and spent many years observing an entirely new category of development consistent with those already done on moral, biological, and cognitive bases. His work was on the stages of development of faith. Please read this excerpt from his book on the subject, Stages of Faith, concerning the observed stage of adolescence:
New expectations, qualitatively different disciplines and a host of difficult decisions are the requirements with which societies greet the now more womanly or manly adolescent. In trying to meet and fulfill these requisites youth will call on the available and personally resonant ideological resources of their environments, particularly those that are embodied in charismatic and convincing leaders. They will seek sponsoring groups and figures and will appoint otherwise well-meaning persons as temporary enemies over against whom their identities may be clarified. They may band together in tight cliques, overemphasizing some relatively trivial commonality as a symbol of shared identity. In this cliquishness they can be quite cruel as they exclude those who do not share this common element.
The Scientologist and ex-Scientologist adolescent pack mentality can be graduated from. It opens up to view a wonderful horizon of possibilities and futures. I think first and foremost it entails getting over the implanted need for enemies.