I would not give you this data unless it can be demonstrated on any preclear with ease. And I would not give it to you unless you needed it.L. RON HUBBARD
Felicia and Gerald rented a large penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side and announced a course in Dianetics at a cost of $500. The status of Dianetics in Hubbard's newer system was a mystery, but he had made the Dianetics Course a prerequisite for clearing. I had not decided to "go clear," but signed up for the course anyway because I liked being around Gerald. Before I would lay down the money, however, I confessed to Gerald that I was annoyed about paying him so much for review.
"I gave you a very good deal, your honor," Gerald said. "The Search and Discovery alone would've cost you $100 at Saint Hill. The only way to handle it is is more review. C'mon. We can clean this up right now."
"Are you kidding?" I said. "We've already done four hours."
"It's obviously not complete if you don't feel totally right about it. What can I tell you?"
Within moments I was seated at the auditing table gripping the tin cans. We reviewed Gerald's first review and spent more time on Marty to remove any residual charge from the ARC break.
"There's something else bothering me," I said. "I still have this thing about women's asses."
"Thank you. What are your considerations on women's asses?"
"Every time I see an attractive woman, or sometimes maybe not so attractive, the very first thing I want to gape at her ass."
"All right. We're going to run a process on ass. What does ass mean to you now?"
"You want my first thought? Money. Irritation over money."
Gerald repeated the question "What does ass mean to you now," pencil in hand to list my answers.
"I'm thinking of this guy I knew from South Carolina who used to say, `Ah saw this gal today, man, you sho' woulda dug that l'il ayee-uss.'"
"Thank you. Repeat that phrase."
"Man, you sho' woulda dug that l'il ayee-uss."
"Fine. And again."
"Man, you sho' woulda dug that l'il ayee-uss."
"Good. What does ass mean to you now?"
"I took a prostitute home last night. This morning I felt guilty about it."
"Thank you. Tell me about it."
"I didn't really want to go with her. I would've preferred another one, who wasn't around."
"Thank you. Any more on that?"
"I felt sorry for her."
"Thank you. Any more on that?"
"You know, I don't think I feel guilty at all. It's just that I wasn't that keen on spending my money on her to begin with. Realizing that makes me feel a lot better."
"Thank you. What does ass mean to you now?"
"Ass is ass."
Gerald thanked me for my cognition. Review had gone over three hours and to make it an even four Gerald threw in the Money Process, which he said would "blow off" any considerations I had on money. Certain preclears had told Gerald that once they had had the process money began rolling into their pockets from unexpected sources.
The process question was "How would you waste money?" Gerald listed my answers, and I had another cognition: I didn't waste money; I wasted myself when I regretted spending money. Gerald indicated that the meter showed a "clean, free floating needle," and thanked me for the cognition. The review was over. I felt a sense of well-being. Gerald had audited me to insights that made me feel on top of things. I had no reservations about the grand total of $200 for review, and the next day cheerfully gave him $500 for the Dianetics Course.
The class was small: Renzo, Felicia's sister and her husband, two middle-aged women, and myself. Felicia and Gerald kept things casual. Students could arrive late, leave early, or miss classes with impunity, and the class met only once or twice a week. Our first assignment was to listen to twelve lecture tapes on Dianetics and Scientology, and this project stretched on to several weeks. Of a typical night, Gerald would set a ninety-minute tape on the machine, go into the bedroom to audit a preclear -- Felicia was generally auditing in another room -- and return later to deliver his own lecture, which he called a special bonus of the course. The tapes sounded like re-recordings and the acoustics of the penthouse living room were abysmal, so that many of the words were blurred. The voice that came out of the speaker was friendly, folksy and confiding, with a punch to it like a freshly-opened can of coffee. It belonged to L. Ron Hubbard, whom the Scientologists called simply "Ron."
The capabilities of the theta being cannot at this time be set down in a full sweep of data .... It would be unfair to tomorrow to detail them in writing.L. RON HUBBARD
The thetan is pure spirit and has no mass, energy, location, or wave-length except as it postulates them. Thus the thetan is not a thing but a creator of things, a static which creates with its own postulates the physical universe of MEST -- Matter, Energy, Space and Time.
The thetan can be inside and outside a MEST body at the same time (its ideal location is near a body and in control of it). A thetan does not die. A thetan is telepathic, can move objects without touching them with MEST and is unbounded by any MEST limitations. Theta beings are sociable, have a high sense of justice and are interested primarily in esthetics.
You are a thetan. You are not your mind or your body or your name. You are You. In your original state you possessed total awareness of yourself as an immortal spiritual being. You possessed the ability to create your own universe, your own world, and your own body.
Margo Zumbrich, one of my classmates, was usually in session with Gerald during the running of the tapes. Gerald had recently audited her to Grade IV Release, but her new awareness proved painful to her, and she was nervous and depressed. Numerous review sessions with Gerald brought her only temporary relief. Gerald confided to me that he had had misgivings about auditing her to begin with. Many years before she had received shock treatment for an emotional breakdown following her release from a Nazi concentration camp, and such cases were classified "inauditable."
Renzo was also having a rough time. He came to one or two Dianetics classes, then dropped out. Gerald told me he had started giving Renzo the free review he'd promised, but Renzo sometimes failed to keep their appointments. Gerald felt that Renzo was stubbornly clinging to a state of apathy.
Empress Green, a tall, amply-built woman with an abundance of teased hair, was the only student other than myself who consistently showed up for class. Sometimes we kidded around while listening to Hubbard's tapes. There was irritation behind our levity. It was draining to be bombarded for ninety minutes with words we often had to guess at while being tossed like flotsam about the dimly-lit room by that pounding voice. Empress and I sat side by side on the sofa, through the hours, straining to hear Ron's message.
... for by just that much could he be predicted and brought again into a low state.L. RON HUBBARD
The trouble with a thetan was that it could deteriorate. From its static state it began to create MEST, as a game, because it was bored. It created itself a MEST body. Fine! Then what socked it down-scale till it fell out the bottom? Why, it forgot it ever created! It denied any responsibility (and there were plenty of malicious beings in the universe to help it along in this), and in so doing it became Effect rather than Cause. Having given up its spiritual identity, the thetan was trapped, hypnotized to a state of total unconsciousness, and enslaved.
A thetan can be reeducated to be again AT CAUSE. We now have the only technology which will restore you to your former high estate, a technology so swift that you will climb the series of Grades to the Upper Levels in a few hours. Then you will be capable of changing your present MEST body -- its weight, its height ... its appearance.
When the lecture was especially muffled, Empress and I might doze off. Once we were awakened by Gerald entering the living room to give his lecture. Gerald was always bouncy and exuberant, whether he was lecturing to two people or to twenty, as he might do on a guest night. He was generally coatless and tieless at the beginning of class. By the time the tape had played out he would have put on the tie and blue jacket that Felicia affectionately called his "lecture clothes."
"You're looking well, your most royal majesties," he would begin, smiling at each member of his audience in turn. His voice carried well, and he paced about the living room as he spoke. If he felt one of us wasn't giving him proper attention, he'd stop in his tracks, and, eyes and mouth drawn back in slits of mirth, address the offender: "Are you with me?" Gerald's lectures were lively and entertaining. He had a graphic skit about the reactive mind, or "the soobconscious," as he pronounced that word, which I asked him to repeat on several occasions, the way a child might beg to hear a favorite Mother Goose rhyme. He likened the reactive mind to a tiger which is methodically destroyed by Scientology processing. On the Dianetic levels the tiger is caged, and observable at a distance. On Grade 0 we draw closer and cut off its left front claws, on Grade I the right front; the grades through IV and the preliminaries to clearing dispose of the hind claws and leave the animal toothless and tailless. Now we are ready for clearing, the total obliteration of the tiger. I was particularly enthralled when Gerald, to conclude his demonstration, jumped violently about the room, his paunch joggling, hacking away at the hapless beast with an imaginary machete.
Another of Gerald's patters that I especially liked was on a reactive mind mechanism called the missed withhold.
"A withhold is an attempt to hide an overt, or harmful act," he explained. "Usually when you've committed an overt, you go out of your way to avoid telling anyone. That's a withhold. Now, a missed withhold occurs when you think someone may have found out about your withhold, or, really, your overt. Something makes you think they're on to you, but you're not quite sure and you go nuts wondering whether they actually know or not. For example, you come home late at night, you've cheated on your wife, you're coming in through the kitchen door, and the dog looks at you kind of funny. He's wagging his tail but he's looking at you kind of funny. And you kick the dog. That's a missed withhold.
"And now I'm going to tell you one of the innermost secrets of existence, your assembled highnesses. If you fully digest this, you'll understand human behavior." He winked. "If anyone ever criticizes you a little too harshly for some unknown reason, you know one thing for a fact: He's done something to you. He's committed an overt on you, and he has a withhold on it, and a missed withhold, he's not sure whether you know or not. That's why he attacks you -- to justify his original overt. Don't let him get away with it. Make him sit down and face you, and say to him, `What did you do to me?'"
"Out of a clear blue sky?" asked Empress.
"Exactly. Don't let him off the hook. `Now come on, be honest, tell me what you did to me,' looking him dead in the eye. Don't stop until he gives it to you. Then he'll feel better and you'll feel better and you'll be friends. He'll thank you the rest of his life for what you did for him."
"How true," I thought, "how profound. This explains a lot about human behavior." I could hardly wait to apply Gerald's technique in the world outside the franchise. Unfortunately, for the week or so that the missed withhold was strong in my mind, no one criticized me unfairly. An ideal test would have been to confront a young lady who had said what I thought were some strange things a few years previous when we were breaking up our relationship. If I could get her into a coffeeshop I would fix my eyes on hers from across the booth and demand, "All right. What did you do to me in 1960?" Since there was no way short of kidnapping that I could bring about such a confrontation, I never found out if Gerald's strategy would work on her.
Every Sunday evening was guest night at the franchise. Gerald would give an introductory lecture that began with "Scientology's origins in Eastern thought," and included a standardized speech on the benefits his listeners would receive if they signed up for the Grades: ability to communicate freely, ability to solve problems, freedom from guilt, freedom from personal upsets, and development of talents to the fullest. He also touted the Dianetics Course, "which will show you how to understand your own mind and deal with the reactive mind in others." Felicia would unfold a large chart showing the sequence of Scientology training and processing by a network of columns, boxes filled in with Scientology terms, and arrows pointing upwards, which to the uninitiated might have resembled a buried treasure map on another planet.
Gerald used the scattergun approach in building his practice. More than once he urged me to bring as many guests as I could, and he wanted me to make him up a list of my friends' phone numbers. This type of promotion annoyed me. I brought people on a couple of evenings but was embarrassed when Gerald mispronounced certain words and repeated his major points several times as though he were addressing mental incompetents. Gerald was also guilty of maudlin sentiments (this had particularly appalled Renzo): "Always remember that you are really very beautiful beings, and look for the beauty in others. People are basically beautiful and good. Cultivate the roses, not the thorns, be willing to Grant Others Beingness, and you will walk out of the black night of misery into the green fields and blue skies of serenity."
Of course, a lot of people just weren't interested in Scientology, or considered the cost of processing outrageous and Gerald a pushy salesman out for a quick buck. Yet Gerald always had a steady flow of preclears arriving at the franchise.
I didn't stop attending the Sunday night lectures until long after I knew in advance everything Gerald would say. I started to enjoy the repetition. Gerald's constant recitation of gains began to have a pleasing effect on me. Previously, the only grade that had "caught me" was IV, the service facsimile. The umpteenth time I heard Gerald's recap of the Grades my gains became real to me. It was my gains Gerald was talking about -- Communications Release, Problems Release, and the rest.
I thought back to my piano recital: the incentive to rent Town Hall, practice all summer, make my debut as I'd intended for years; my ability to communicate to a sizeable audience. It was plain now that my recital had been a result of processing after all. Though I had resented Marty for saying so, I owed it to Scientology.
This is useful knowledge. With it the blind again see, the lame walk, the ill recover, the insane become sane and the sane become saner.L. RON HUBBARD
There were about thirty bulletins in the Dianetics study pack, each running from one to four mimeographed pages stapled together and bearing a date in the range of 1962-67. This presentation suggested that Hubbard had dashed off articles over the years and selected from this material when he decided to make up a course.
The bulletin "Healing, Insanity, and Troublesome Sources," emphasized that "healing" refers only to "the relief of difficulties from mental or spiritual causes," and that the org should direct a preclear seeking physical relief to have an examination by a medical doctor. If his condition does not prove to be unarguably "physical," it is presumably "mental or spiritual in origin," and he could be processed. A similar clause provided for preclears with a mental record: A person who has no history of "deserved institutionalization" is classified "auditable."
The "Healing and Insanity" policy gave orgs and franchises plenty of leeway in signing up preclears. I was sympathetic to this. Obviously every preclear needed to cure something. I agreed with the not-so-subtle suggestion in the policy's wording that whatever needs curing is probably mental or spiritual in origin; and that Scientology held more promise of cure than the doctors, with their tranquilizers, unnecessary operations, shock treatment, and patients rotting away in mental wards.
Certain types of individuals considered "inauditable" were called PTS (potential trouble source): those who have ever threatened to sue or embarrass Scientology; those collecting information for a magazine or newspaper article on Scientology; those who wish to judge Scientology; persons with a criminal record; those who are curious, just want to see if Scientology works. I smiled at "curious"; I had had "PTS tendencies" until quite recently and my Scientology friends had either not noticed or not cared.
There followed a description of the suppressive, also called the "antisocial personality" or "anti-Scientologist." The suppressive speaks in generalities, such as "They say"; changes any news he passes on to others to bad news; doesn't believe people can be helped to get better; attacks wrong targets -- if a suppressive's car breaks down, he beats his wife. A preclear who is "connected to a suppressive" doesn't hold his auditing gains. The auditor runs a Search and Discovery; when the suppressive is detected, the preclear is ordered to write him or her a "disconnect letter."
I doubted that anyone in Felicia's immediate circle had ever written a "disconnect letter," and neither Marty nor Gerald had asked me to disconnect from suppressives. Hubbard, in equating people with suppressive characteristics to "anti-Scientologists," had apparently reverted to his science fiction and adventure writing of the '40s. Felicia and Gerald confirmed their casual attitude toward "suppressives" by giving me a cursory checkout on the bulletin, after which I felt I could forget the whole matter.
A chart called the Tone Scale listed in numerical order the states of being of the thetan, or spirit. Between 0 and 20 lay "apathy," "covert hostility," "grief," "fear," "antagonism," "boredom," "cheerful enthusiasm," and "exhilaration." "Raising the preclear's tone level" was indeed one way to define the purpose of Scientology training and processing.
Below zero on the Tone Scale chart were several states of being denoted by minus numbers, among them, "hiding" and "needing bodies." I asked Gerald to explain.
"It's very simple, your honor," he said. "The scale above 0 represents the gamut of human conditions, and one can go the range from apathy to exhilaration in seconds. The scale below 0 brings in the total spiritual condition of the thetan, which has much greater depth. Of course, death of the physical body doesn't mean the extinction of the thetan -- although most people who are ostensibly `alive' are somewhere on the lower part of the chart when it comes to awareness of their own awareness, if you know what I mean, sire. In other words, below death ..."
Bluntly, auditing can't be at optimum without an electropsychometer. An auditor auditing without a machine reminds one of a hunter hunting ducks at pitch black midnight, firing his gun off in all directions.L. RON HUBBARD
The face of the E-meter was topped by a thin layer of glass. Its most conspicuous feature was the large needle dial running about two-thirds its width. During a session electric current passed through the preclear's hands, forming a circuit with the meter, and needle action was said to be caused by the preclear's reactive mind just below conscious level. A smaller needle dial, reflecting the preclear's moment-to-moment state during auditing, was called the tone-arm, perhaps to avoid being confused with the Tone Scale -- general states of being not "read" on the meter. Tone-arm numbers ranged from 1 to 7; between 2 and 3 was considered the ideal area, above 4 denoted tension.
Drills using the E-meter were part of the Dianetics Course. E-meter technology helped to make Dianetics much simpler than in 1950. It was no longer necessary to run a preclear's every engram (incidents which could be quite hideous). The auditor ran just one "chain," watched the large dial for a "floating needle," and when the needle drifted about in a lazy, gliding motion with "Good Indicators in" (preclear cheerful and having cognitions) and the tone-arm number not too high, announced end-of-process. Two preliminary processes gave the preclear (and the auditor) an even softer time of it: ARC Straightwire, a drill on recalling communications, emotions, and "real things"; and Secondaries, the running of one or two moments of loss.
Another bulletin advised auditors to "put in an R-Factor" before each process, a brief explanation of any new Scientology words or phrases. The "R" stood for "Reality."
Margo Zumbrich, who had finally completed her review with Gerald, was my training partner in a series of drills called TRs. These covered the basic auditing skills: looking in the preclear's eyes, giving auditing commands, and acknowledging responses, all while "keeping in ARC (Affinity, Realty and Communication)." A + R + C equals understanding. To a non-Scientologist, ARC might seem to mean a pleasing personality; to a Scientologist, ARC was part of the mystique of auditing. Through much repetition, the names of the training drills -- TR-1, TR-2, etc. -- acquired a distinctive usage: Students and auditors not only practiced TRs, they had TRs ("Her TR-4 is beautiful").
Margo and I began with TR-0 in the privacy of the franchise master bedroom. Our task was to sit face-to-face, quite still, looking into each other's eyes and simply be there. Movements of the face or body, excessive eye blinking or apparent wool-gathering would draw "Flunk!" from the partner playing "coach." To pass the drill we had to sit motionless yet with no appearance of rigidity for two hours.
After a few minutes of staring, our eyes started to water. Despite our efforts to prevent blinking we had fits of it, with copious discharge of tears. The desire to swallow was a problem, and in trying not to gulp, our faces tensed up. Persistent looking into each other's eyes numbed us.
Periodically Gerald came into the room to coach us: "Flunk her, Bob. Don't you see her neck stiffening on the left side?" or, "Flunk him, Margo. His face is registering Grief. He's getting low-tone."
Margo and I spent an entire evening and part of another doing TR-0 before Gerald checked us out on it. By the second evening we were quite used to staring at each other.
We went on to "bull-baiting." Margo worked the button "Why hasn't a nice young man like you found a wife?" Then she played a nymphomaniac trying to seduce me. Gerald came in and told us to switch student-coach roles, and I made Margo laugh by imitating a baby gorilla bouncing a new rubber tire.
Gerald whispered in my ear, "There's a lot more to bull-baiting than laughs. Work her on the button not there for a while and you'll see what I mean. Tell her `You're not there.'"
I taunted Margo: "You can't confront this. You want to escape into your thoughts. You're not there."
Her expression changed to anguish. I kept at it. Gerald chimed in, "Good! Keep it crisp. She's coming a helluva ways up the Tone Scale. There! She's more alert now."
Other TRs taught us to confront preclears' eccentricities, to repeat a phrase over and over in the same tone of voice, and to acknowledge responses. TR-4 is a combination of all that precedes; it is almost real auditing. The student has to get answers to his questions in spite of distractions thrown his way by the coach. The patter runs something like this:
"Do birds fly?"
"What kind of birds?" (coach evades answering by asking a question)
"I'll repeat the auditing question. Do birds fly?"
(Coach flaps arms -- now he is bull-baiting)
"I'll repeat the question. Do birds fly?"
"No." (an answer)
"Thank you. Do fish swim?"
"Say, I had an illuminating experience last night ..." (etc., etc.)
(Auditor listens) "Fine. I'll repeat the auditing question. Do fish swim?"
The TRs reminded me of the components of an assembly line, at the end forming the final product. L. Ron Hubbard had evidently devised this mode of instruction, fun, for the most part, and easy to follow, to make auditors out of persons of average intelligence -- or perhaps not quite at that level.
One of the bulletins tells how to proselytize. There are four steps in a proper dissemination: Contact -- approach the subject; Handle -- soften any objections to Scientology; Find subject's "ruin" -- everybody has a major problem or weakness; Bring subject to an understanding -- indicate that Scientology can solve the subject's "ruin" and take him in for processing.
Disseminators are not to take no for an answer, and to pass the "dissem" drill I almost had to use physical force on Gerald, who took the role of a homosexual alcoholic plying me with drinks while steering me towards the bedroom. In Gerald's preclear days, students who were critical of dissemination or poor at it were suspected by the others in the group to be hiding something -- perhaps suppressive tendencies. Gerald himself had been a daring and relentless disseminator. He once grabbed a man by the arm on a London street corner, shouted "You'll do!" and dragged him to the nearby org.
Gerald made ARC, the TRs and the rest of it sound like simple common sense. The point was to let the preclear talk, get things off his chest. Hubbard called criticism of Scientology "nattering." A nattering preclear had "considerations about Scientology" and should be encouraged to talk until he "got them off." If a preclear seemed nervous or preoccupied, he might have a present-time problem. Again, a sharp auditor "got some charge off" before starting a process.
Gerald, who was proud of his ability to "crack any case," told me a story about his encounter with an "inauditable preclear": "When I was an intern at Saint Hill I was given a preclear who was one of the biggest fanatics in the place but never held his gains. He claimed the only reason he went on with auditing was his utter faith in L. Ron Hubbard. The staff busted their humps on him. I was known as the acme case-cracker at the Hill, and they finally turned him over to me.
"I audited him a total of thirty hours and just as I was about ready to give up I had an inspiration. I said to him, `I've just received a message from Ron,' pulled out a blank piece of paper and pretended to read it to him: `I, L. Ron Hubbard, hereby confess that Scientology is all a hoax. I created it to amuse myself, as well as make a buck, and every morning I wake up laughing to know that I've perpetrated the biggest con job in history.'
"I'd been watching the needle out of the corner of my eye. The first sign that anything was happening was a blow-down of 1.5 on the tone-arm dial. Then my preclear shouted, `I knew it! I knew it all along, but I didn't have the guts to admit to myself that it's a big crock. Ron Hubbard is full of shit. I'm a free man!'
"With that cognition, he had a floating needle, and I had wrapped up another `impossible case.'"
I made up a list of possible preclears. Several of my friends were obliging; though not attracted to Scientology, they were willing to receive free auditing to help me pass the course. First I did a practice run with Margo of a light moment of loss while Gerald stood by prompting. Afterwards, I remarked to Gerald that she seemed a lot more cheerful than when I had met her. He agreed that she was now "well up on the Tone Scale and starting to think gains."
Renzo Lancia was not doing as well. He was still depressed and hadn't come to the franchise in several weeks. At his apartment I lectured him on "looking at the bright side," and tried to get him to resume review sessions with Gerald. This provoked a tirade:
"Those Scientologists live in a world of make-believe. Felicia went ape on it -- that's really what ruined our marriage. After she started hanging around the org I couldn't get her to go to the dentist with her mouthful of cavities. She believed that when she went clear all the decayed teeth would drop out and she'd grow new ones. When she was auditing you she probably had an aspirin sitting on her tooth.
"And that guy Marty -- he actually audited me over the telephone one night. He happened to call and I made the mistake of complaining of a headache. He said, `Hold on. I'm gonna put you right inta session.' I protested. He yelled, `Will ya shaddup! Just do what I ask for one minute. What's the first date that comes inta your head?'
"`All right. Now what's happening?'
"`It's a hanging. It's me, they're hanging me ...'
"He ran me through it a couple times, rang off to watch TV and left me right in the middle of it. When I got up the next morning I thought my neck was coming apart."
Renzo was discouraged about his case. "The Saint Hill auditors screwed up my Power Processing. That's why I got sick right afterwards. Besides all the money for Power, then I had to shell out a couple hundred for extra review auditing, and now Gerald wants me to go back to the Hill to straighten things out because they won't let him rehabilitate Power here in the States."
I discussed his situation with Gerald and he agreed that there was an "Outness" on Renzo's case.
"But I don't think he can afford to go back to England now," I said.
"Have no fear, your honor. I'll contact the Hill and request special permission to help him. In the meantime try to cheer him up, and forgodsake get him to come and see me."
Then Renzo told me what bothered him most: With all the other men in the world, his wife had left him for Gerald. Renzo had tried to hold the marriage together through Felicia's Scientology craze by going along with it and even looking for the good in Scientology. Now a roly-poly OT II had set up housekeeping with his wife and as the crowning mockery tried to mollify him with free auditing.
I had thought Renzo had accepted the breakup, but obviously he had "considerations." Now I began to get suspicious. He had gotten his Power Release, yet professed that Scientology hadn't helped him. Bitter and self-defeating, he disdained free review. There must be something basically wrong with him. Perhaps Renzo was a suppressive.
But Gerald repeatedly averred that people were basically good, that one should look for the roses, not the thorns. Renzo had never actually warned me not to go to Saint Hill. He had been pleased when I reported gains, and months ago his idealistic projections about Scientology's future had helped influence me to take auditing more seriously.
No, Renzo was good, he was my friend, and there was still hope for him. He had a negative streak which brought on his troubles. Only a fanatic would call that a "suppressive characteristic." Still, I would have to be careful not to let him pull me down to his low tone level.