The social environment within Scientology is toxic. At the very least ‘ordinary’ part-time members are subject to manipulative social pressure, and at worst (for example in the full-time ‘Sea Org’) good people are manipulated into treating each other in an extraordinarily abusive way.
This toxic social environment is created by the rules and practices of Scientology itself. The doctrines of Scientology, set down by L Ron Hubbard, create an authoritarian, bureaucratic organisational structure with internal secrecy and a requirement to report ‘thoughtcrime‘.
The question is, why does the Church of Scientology, as an organisation, posses this character? Lane and Kent suggest that it is a direct consequence of the personality of its founder, L Ron Hubbard.
They propose that Hubbard suffered from the psychiatric condition “Malignant Narcissism”, which gave him an obsessive need to control others and revenge himself on those who he perceived to have wronged him.
When Hubbard created Dianetics, he acquired a devoted following. His possession of money and power removed many of the normal social restraints on his behaviour. When he moved on to Scientology, his need for control and vengeful nature were freely expressed in Church doctrine (notably the ‘fair game’ policy). Since the rules and practices of the Church of Scientology are based on these doctrines, the ‘behaviour’ of the organisation itself reproduces Hubbard’s malignant narcissism.
Lane and Kent illustrate this thesis by examining the extraordinary persecution of Journalist Paulette Cooper, author of the early critical book “The Scandal of Scientology” (1971).
Scientology under Hubbard, undertook a massive, organised campaign to suppress her book and utterly destroy the author – personally. Cooper discusses this in an article “Looking over my shoulder, The Inside Account of the Story That Almost Killed Me.”
Lane and Kent also describe other instances of Hubbard exploiting his position of ‘authority’ in the Church, to give full rein to the ‘spoiling behaviour’ that is characteristic of narcissistic personality disorder, by persecuting perceived rival for attention.
After Hubbard’s death, the organisation seems to have assumed a life of its own. Unfortunately, it retains Hubbard’s malignant personality, and continues to persecute its critics and defectors with a ferocity that seems, at the very least, calculated to do them serious psychological harm.
For example, the intrusive surveillance that defector Mark “Marty” Rathburn and his wife have been subjected to (which can be seen in the documentary film “Scientologists at War“) which is the subject of ongoing legal action.
Under Hubbard, Scientology’s abusive behaviour was a direct of his orders and policies. Today, the organisation reproduces that behaviour in its members because it still considers those orders and policies to be holy writ, to be followed and applied without question. The dead hand of Hubbard is still directing the persecution of the enemies of his brainchild.