Daily Archives: November 19, 2022

The Cult of Victim Narcissism

I read Mike Rinder’s autobiography only because I was informed that once again he could not restrain his obsession for lying about me and my family. It was a slog.  Three hundred pages purporting to reveal shocking news without a single alleged accusation that has not already been reported on ad nauseum; in most cases reported on decades ago. Nevertheless, the read taught me a couple of things about Rinder which helps to put him into accurate perspective. That is useful in the process of letting go. And so I thank Mike for his effort.

Imagine for a moment someone living with the apparent cognitive dissonance of being a victim and hero at the same time.  Dizzying, because the roles are almost 180 degrees diametrically opposed in character. One by definition excludes the other.  While rare, birds of that feather are destructive enough to our society that they have garnered a mental health disorder all to themselves: victim narcissism. A victim narcissist is a dangerous character to have in one’s orbit.  Most of the time he is sucking the lifeblood out of you by acting the abused victim. When he has drained enough of your pity that your defenses are down, the victim narcissist suddenly flips (Norman Bates psycho style) into hero mode in order to lord over you.  If you are lucky enough to snap out of it and attempt to reassert yourself, the victim narcissist is an expert at gaslighting to convince you that you have inflicted irreparable harm upon him.  

Those unfamiliar with the disorder can read a short, accurate primer on the subject at https://therapymantra.co/narcissistic/victim-narcissist/.  Those who are in touch with Rinder or affected by him and his act would be well served to read that and several more of the authoritative works on the subject locatable through a search engine query. Mix someone constantly feigning victimization with an outsized ego and you get victim narcissist.

As much as he attempts to paint himself the adorable victim, Rinder continually betrays his barn-sized ego throughout his book. Never, in my thirty plus years in and around Scientology have I encountered a person so admittedly in it to satisfy his own vanity. Fortunately, his editors have apparently persuaded him to let his hair down and let his consciousness flow to reveal the real Rinder. For example:

– “Now I was the emperor of my own kingdom. It was intoxicating. It gave me a sense of invincibility.”

– “This was the pinnacle of achievement in the Sea Org–I had been selected to become one of the elite. I was thrilled. Since the day I arrived…I had been envious of peers who had been in the CMO and so it was as if I were finally being invited to sit at the cool kids’ table.” 

– “I didn’t actually consider the dirty work itself to be degrading…It was the humiliation of being sent to do the lowest grunt duties in front of all the Freewinds crew.”

– “With that, I was back as the big cheese…”

– “I was not thrilled that I was missing out on the excitement of being front and center in the crowd…”

These attitudes were hard to come by in the Sea Organization. Very few people were like that. Regardless of credulity or value of beliefs, practices and policies, no one who has been there can refute that Sea Organization members by and large are caring, selfless and duty-motivated.  A repeated passage in the book brought to memory that in fact Rinder was generally regarded as narcissist (self-loving, selfish, conceited and aloof) in the church.  In those passages Rinder repeatedly emphasizes how tight his life-long bromance of mutual trust with Tom Devocht had always been. Yet, in 2009 when I first told Tom Devocht that I had reached out to Rinder, Tom advised me to stay away from Rinder. He said that Rinder freeloaded off him for months, still owed him money he fronted him to fly from the UK to the US years earlier, and that he was the same old pompous, contemptuous prick he was on the inside.  In fact, if you were to survey current and former members of Scientology management, Rinder would absolutely rank #1 in arrogance, negligence, and indifference to others.  In retrospect, I should have listened to Tom’s advice. 

The second revelation of Rinder’s book concerns his projected general amnesia. I have called out Mike for his lack of memory on several occasions (e.g. Leah Remini and Mike Rinder, Rinder Remini Redux and Bullshit Alert: Ortega, Rinder, Remini), with plenty of citation to detail.  What Billion Years made clear is that Mike is not an amnesiac after all. Instead, he is an inveterate liar.  Memory loss is merely his justification for his continually making it up as he goes along. Victimhood and hero status both  thoroughly rely upon memory loss.

The deliberate use of amnesia as a tactic is evident in Rinder’s opening “Author’s Note.” Here, he establishes the groundwork for both legs of victim narcissist disorder, victimhood and heroism: selective amnesia. Rinder wants everyone to know at the outset that, “it is of course possible that I have some facts wrong,” that “memories of events are distorted…(and especially hazy)…by time and perspective,” but that doesn’t matter because by contrast he has confidence in his “impressions, feelings, and emotions…and how they affected me.” It is a remarkable statement by someone promoting himself as a professional authority on the subject he’s pontificating on. It is also more confirmation of his victim narcissist nature: as usual, blaming his facts creativity on others. He claims lack of sleep in Scientology caused his cognitive impairment. Tell that to Benjamin Franklin, Nicola Tesla, Thomas Edison – or any of the many other cognitive giants who attributed their genius in part to not ‘wasting time’ with sleep.

Rinder’s feigned memory-loss is integral to erasing any event in his 67-plus years that might account for even one or two of the travails he suffered.  Everything is told from the perspective of what was allegedly done to Rinder. He imparts dozens of detailed accounts of purported excessive punishments he was subjected to. I won’t try to quibble with his consistent overdramatization. Instead, I note that on nearly every occasion Rinder recounts he asserts that he had no worldly idea why he was being punished.  It is completely arbitrary cruelty meted out for kicks and Rinder is little Lord Fauntleroy who never did anything untoward in his life. He can magically remember every detail of what was done to him 40 years ago, but can’t remember what he did to others yesterday. 

Thus, Rinder carefully deep sixes any pesky facts that might contradict what Rinder would like to fancy about his history. And that paves the way for the creation of a brand-new then-Rinder: a super hero (the narcissist leg of victim narcissist).  To demonstrate the depth of outright fact creation I’ll break down one critical section of the book, covering events I am intimately familiar with.

In this section, Rinder attempts to fill a gigantic hole in the official anti-Scientology narrative. It might be the wildest fiction he has ever attempted on the subject. The hole in question was created by my widely-disseminated recitation of the facts leading up to Scientology’s tax exemption recognition.  I have described before the fraud perpetuated by Rinder, and promoted by Larry Wright and Alex Gibney, on that subject. You can find the numerous references on my YouTube channel (e.g., Going Clear, Part 11 IRS, Fraudulent Deceptions – YouTube, Going Clear, Part 12 – IRS, Wright fact inventions and joining sides – YouTube, Going Clear, Part 13 – IRS, Actual Malice on Wright’s behalf. – YouTube).

 In the four years since most of that material has been publicly available, no one from ASC has attempted to refute a single word of it. Not Rinder, not Gibney, not Wright, not Ortega. None of them. Their response instead is clear in Rinder’s book: if you cannot prove history, and you wish it were different, then just recreate it.  Rinder, for the first time in 15 years since leaving Scientology, suddenly claims to have played an integral role in attaining Scientology’s tax exemption.

First, Rinder invents a leading role for himself in the investigation of IRS informant Gerry Armstrong. The “silver lining” of the affair “was the fact that I had done my job again” he avers. In fact, his belated involvement was a notorious failure to those involved. He then claims that the result of the investigation – in fact performed by others – “the hope of getting the IRS to back off was dashed.”  In fact, Freedom of Information (FOIA) documents later obtained from the department of justice detailed how the “Armstrong operation” (again, the results not of Rinder’s failed efforts – but by those of others) resulted in the government assigning Armstrong the lowest possible potential witness credibility; making the ill-conceived criminal investigation without support. The only hope that was dashed was that of the IRS to falsely imprison Scientology’s leadership.

Next, fifteen years after leaving Scientology Rinder suddenly emerges now as the cause of Scientology’s tax exemption. He was mum on the subject for fifteen years – rightly deferring to me on that subject – precisely because he had little to nothing to do with the dozens of court struggles and victories, the prosecution of hundreds of Freedom of Information act lawsuits to uncover what the government was hiding about unlawful operations and discriminatory treatment against Scientology, the lawful investigation of IRS abuses, and least of all the nearly two years of negotiations and historically in-depth IRS audits that culminated in tax exemption. Even with my detailed descriptions over the past several years publicly available, Rinder’s new fiction betrays a remarkable degree of ignorance about Scientology’s history vis a vis the IRS. 

Mike asserts that when he stepped into the arena there was no rational hope for Scientology exemption because it was hit with the two most impossible of obstacles.

The first obstacle was that the Supreme Court had ruled Scientology donations were not tax-deductible. The second was a Federal Court ruling on Church of Spiritual Technology’s (CST) tax exemption application. The latter was so critical that he quotes an entire paragraph from the opinion. Then he launches for several pages telling tales of how he persevered and forced the IRS to the negotiating table and submission notwithstanding these decisions: insinuating it was accomplished by unlawful, secret leverage and blackmail.

Both horns of his impossible dilemma are invented. The CST federal court ruling he cites occurred almost a year after the IRS negotiations and audits had begun. Had Rinder actually participated in either the litigation or the negotiations he would have known that the IRS was certain that the lower court judge’s opinion was so biased and baseless that the pending appeal would certainly be won by Scientology. In the year since the record review had begun the IRS already conceded that their basis for denying CST exemption was discredited.  They were almost embarrassed by the CST federal court ruling when it came out; realizing they could not support the findings with facts. For that reason, the CST decision was more of a problem for the IRS than for the Church. 

As to the 1989 Supreme Court decision, Rinder betrays even more ignorance, feigned or otherwise. Had Rinder even read the decision – let alone participated in litigating any corner of IRS matters – he would have known and stated that the court did not definitively decide the merits of whether Scientology donations could ever be deemed tax exempt. Instead, it ruled that in the single case in front of the court there was an insufficiency of evidence to reverse the IRS’s deduction denial.  It explicitly remanded the case for further proceedings and invited the petitioner to attempt to fill the gaps in that evidence insufficiency. If Rinder had lifted a finger of support to the effort to attain tax exemption he would have known and stated that in fact, upon remand a number of federal courts ruled in Scientologists’ favor and were upheld by United States Appellate Court decisions across the country. Some courts ruled for the IRS too; establishing a classic split in the Circuits leading to an inevitable second appointment with the Supreme Court (just as the original Supreme Court decision contemplated).

Moreover, in order to obviate the need to clutter the Supreme Court docket with the conflicting appellate court decisions, the church and IRS stipulated to conduct a full-blown trial in a mutually agreed upon test case. In fact, if Rinder were even awake at any moment during the years 1991 and 1992 – let alone involved in the IRS, Scientology struggle – it could not have escaped him that the IRS was having its head handed to it on a daily basis in that trial. As each day progressed it became more clear to even Scientology-suspicious observers (e.g., editors of Tax Notes) that a) Scientology parishioner donations would be recognized as exempt and b) the IRS would likely be nailed to the cross for discriminatory practices in a fashion no federal agency had been since the 1970s.

Rinder invents: “I spent a great deal of time in Washington DC, during the ensuing year. Preparing materials and documents for the IRS became my daily life. I’d fly from Los Angeles to DC every few weeks to meet with [the IRS].” Mini-me, after watching me truthfully testify to that life on several occasions – for two years incidentally, he couldn’t even get the time span correct – he suddenly after fifteen years adopts it as his life. Talk about cancel culture sickness. It’s cancel and usurp. 

Rinder travelled with the IRS negotiation team to D.C. on perhaps 2 or 3 occasions over that two-year span as a board member of Church of Scientology International (CSI). CSI was always required to participate in each meeting. Heber Jentzsch was the primary CSI participant, but could not attend on a couple occasions and so Rinder subbed from the bench. He never contributed a constructive thing to any meeting. I was at every meeting – which by conservative estimate numbered several dozen. I was in fact in charge of organizing the substantial data compilation evolutions required after each IRS meeting.  I recall routinely dealing with the heads of Church litigation, corporate affairs, accountancy, finance, data, management and investigations throughout that period in the accomplishment of that task. And those folks sent me the tomes of information required. I never recall Rinder lifting a single pinky to help during that entire two-year period.  He certainly was nowhere to be found during the investigative (with the exception of his colossal Armstrong failure), public relations, and litigation (involving literally thousands of lawsuits) efforts that for nearly a decade lead up to the negotiations and audits between 1991 and 1993. 

And with that factual background Rinder proclaims in his book that what really caused the IRS to change its collective mind about Scientology were the freshly invented (shared for the first time after 15 years of railing incessantly against Scientology) purely manufactured accusations:  “paid PIs to infiltrate IRS meetings” (he cites not a single one because he cannot), use of “front groups” (names not a single one – there was no IRS-related  groups that Scientology was not overtly associated with), and “smear campaigns against individual revenue agents” (citing no particulars because I suppose he is just too lazy to create them). 

In closing his book, Rinder takes what at first blush appear to be gratuitous shots at me. He laments that he has no clue – again feigning ignorance – as to why “almost overnight” a) Marty Rathbun eschewed the Anti-Scientology Cult (ASC, a victim narcissist cult if there ever were one, see e.g. Anti-Scientology Cult (ASC) 2020 and ASC Rationalization) and began exposing Rinder and his cohorts for their hypocrisy, and b) Monique Rathbun fired her lawyers and ended her litigation. As to the lawsuit, that was made crystal clear two years ago in two posts on this blog (Monique Rathbun vs. Church of Scientology and Monique Rathbun vs Church of Scientology II) posts that Rinder and his blood-sucking, back-stabbing shyster lawyer “friend” have yet to respond to because they cannot without forfeiting the latter’s bar card. As those posts make clear, Rinder knows exactly why his shyster rat friend was dumped as Rinder was an integral part of the betrayal of the client that was the cause of the firing. It also is the beginning of –and the cause of – the exposure of the ASC, including its principal cult leaders.

The divorce from the Anti-Scientology Cult was anything but “overnight” – it was a several year process.  Nobody was more acutely aware of the transition than Rinder beginning more than 10 years ago. In fact, Rinder – in an apparent moment of unguarded sloppiness – acknowledges that he knew this in his book. He writes that in 2013 I asked Rinder to create his blog so as to “take over for me.”  Again, Rinder has it backwards: in fact, he phoned me and asked permission to start his own blog.  Rinder’s reason was that I had made it clear for more than a year on my blog that I was done with continual railing against Scientology; that I had taken to counselling people to reconcile their Scientology experiences, learn to let go and move on; and that I found the Anti-Scientology Cult’s and even the media’s insatiable appetite for nonstop scandal (even by that time mainly recycled) annoying and thoroughly counterproductive to truly assisting former members. In his inimitable agreeable manner, Rinder wholeheartedly agreed with me; but said he had created some obligations to his newly adopted cult (ASC) that he needed to exercise. I wished him luck.

Nonetheless, Rinder’s take is revealing. First, it is consistent with what I noted in the last paragraph. Second, “take over” clearly means I’ve made it clear that I’m on the way out and Rinder believes I run some sort of operation that he was taking over.  And since in fact he called me asking to be anointed, he clearly coveted the position of power.  There he was, in his mind becoming “the big cheese,” “one of the elite,” the “emperor of [his] own kingdom.”

Rinder’s book makes it clear that he thinks it is better than good to be the king.  I imagine it must be simply “thrilling” and “intoxicating” being at the “pinnacle of achievement,” “front and center in the crowd” (sandwiched between Toby McGuire and Alec Baldwin no less).  It sounds as if he has even developed a sense of “invincibility.”  The victim is really a hero? Or is the hero a victim?

In Rinder’s actual words, the Anti Scientology Cult’s Fair Game policy is alive and well: “And today the state of affairs with respect to Scientology is, you’re pretty much free to do and say anything. … And it just has become, you know, to use the Scientology vernacular, they’re fair game for the media now.”  With words like that on record, you would expect a guy to at least have the dignity or moral fiber to cease promoting himself as some brave, victimized crusader. But you’d expect that because you have a conscience. Those with no conscience don’t think like that. And deeply affected victim narcissists know nothing other than manipulation by simultaneously playing the victim and hero.