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In a message dated 1/11/2002 12:55:55 PM Central Standard Time, Ted Dace
> That's the mystery, alright. I've met several Scientologists, and they're
> usually smart, caring, capable people. How do they get sucked in?
> After Keith Henson piqued my curiosity the other day, I began digging for
> some of the juicier details on the profound weirdness that is Scientology.
> The best thing I've found so far is an unauthorized biography of L. Ron
> Hubbard, available here:
> I've managed to read through Chapter 11 so far, and it's truly astonishing.
> I don't recall ever seeing such an over-the-top case of clinical
> He also seemed to suffer from manic-depression with paranoid tendencies.
> Hubbard had the mind of a six-year old boy. He was the center of the
> universe, could do no wrong. He lied compulsively, didn't seem to grasp
> distinction between truth and falsehood. Completely lacked empathy.
> Manipulated people without any concern for their well-being. Desperately
> wanted to be revered as a great man. In short, a classic profile of
> Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
> He believed he was the savior of the world. This delusion is commonplace
> among severe cases of pathological narcissism. But why would anyone follow
> him in this belief? How did he transmit his insanity to a large group of
> people, most of whom were otherwise normal and rational?
I see you use the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder in a manner
consistent with the personality disorders section of the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. I thought I'd point out that there is
now a DSM-IV-TR, where the "TR" stands for "Text Revision." Apparently the
American Psychiatric Association has some business and institutional forces
that favor re-wording the descriptions of the various mental disorders into
new editions of the book, as well as adding new disorders.
The personality disorders are common enough that all of us have encountered
people who have them. Indeed, in a forum of over 100 subscribers, you would
expect there to be perhaps one or two who have Narcissistic Personality
Disorder, as well as others who have various other personality disorders.
However, one of the hallmarks of the personality disorders is that those who
have them always see others as having the problem and never themselves. In
any event, I believe that the prevalence of personality disorders in the
population does affect the transmission rates for various ideas, as well as
the formation rates for certain kinds of new ideas.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edtion
(DSM-IV-TR): Makes a great gift!
> Years before the introduction of memetics, Hubbard became a master in the
> art of formulating highly infectious memes. He claimed that "Dianetics,"
> little more than a recycling of Freudian theory with a bunch of gratuitous
> neologisms thrown in, was mankind's greatest breakthrough since the
> harnessing of fire! Rather than appealing to our logic, this pathological
> meme exploited our unconscious need for authority, in this case the
> authority of the all-seeing psychologist. This may sound strange today,
> fifty years ago, psychology seemed almost magical in its ability to pierce
> the secrets of the soul. "Scientology," with its religious overtones,
> proved even more effective at exploiting our craving for authority.
> Scientology promised a sense of security, as well as relief from suffering
> and the sense of community that comes from joining a close-knit group.
> importantly, it provided a sense of meaning. When you join up with Ron,
> can share in the belief that you're saving the world. In short, he
> a virulent meme that began reproducing his delusion of grandeur in the
> of his followers. His private narcissism became the collective narcissism
> of the group. Like any cult, Scientology represents the atavistic return
> the tribe. Instead of identifying primarily with yourself, you come to
> identify with the group and particularly with its leader. Ron himself may
> be dead, but his delusion lives on, copying itself with the recruitment of
> each new member of the cult.
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