Understanding Scientology, by Margery Wakefield - Next - Previous

Chapter 8

The Language of Scientology -- ARC, SPs, PTPs and BTs

The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliche. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis. In thought reform, for instance, the phrase "bourgeois mentality" is used to encompass and critically dismiss ordinarily troublesome concerns like the quest for individual expression, the exploration of alternative ideas, and the search of perspective and balance ... (loaded language is) the "language of non-thought."
-- Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, by Robert Jay Lifton

Two Scientologists meet on the street.

"How're you doing?" one asks the other.

"Well, to tell you the truth, I've been a bit out ruds because of a PTP with my second dynamic because of some bypassed charge having to do with my MEST at her apartment. When I moved in I gave her an R-factor and I thought we were in ARC about it, but lately she seems to have gone a bit PTS so I recommended she see the MAA at the AO to blow some charge and get her ethics in. He gave her a review to F/N and VGIs but she did a roller coaster, so I think there's an SP somewhere on her lines. I tried to audit her myself but she had a dirty needle and BIs and was acting really 1.1 so I finally sent her to Qual to spot the entheta on her lines. Other than that, everything's fine..."

There is not a Scientologist anywhere to whom this paragraph would not make perfect sense. Like a secret code, the language of Scientology helps members to identify and bond with each other, and creates an invisible but effective boundary between the cult and the world "outside."

There are many cults which use the loaded language described by Lifton -- the language of non-thought -- but there is probably no other cult in which the manipulation of the cult member through language is achieved as completely or with as much sophistication as in Scientology.

As anyone in the advertising world knows, if you want to control a person's behavior, you must first control their thought. Hubbard did this in Scientology through the prolific propaganda in written bulletins, tapes and films to which members are constantly exposed.

But a more subtle form of thought control was achieved by Hubbard through the creation of a new language -- "Scientologese" -- used and understood only within the cult.

How is thought restricted by the language in Scientology? In several ways. Many of the new words are formed by changing the part of speech of an existing word, usually from a verb or adjective into a noun. The nouns used in Scientology have black and white, concrete meanings; there are no shades of grey in the Scientology vocabulary.

Scientology makes extensive use of acronyms and abbreviations, but modifiers are almost nonexistent; one could probably exist for ten years in Scientology without ever using an adverb or adjective.

Most nouns in Scientology have only one meaning; gone are the variegated definitions and idiomatic uses of regular English nouns. Many of the terms in Scientology have come from the computer and engineering fields and have precise definitions which leave little to the imagination. When common English words are given a new meaning in Scientology, the older and multiple meanings have been dropped in favor of a single, concrete Scientology meaning.

Hubbard was fond of transforming verbs -- words of action -- into more static nouns. Examples:

"Assist" -- which means to help, becomes "an assist," one of the auditing processes of Scientology, e.g., "Would you like me to give you an assist?"

The verb "to be" is turned into a noun in the Scientology word "beingness." Similarly transformed are "doingness," "havingness," "knowingness," "rightness," "wrongness," "livingness," and "isness."

The "between lives implant," a noun, comes from the English verb "to implant."

The verb "to confront" becomes a noun, "confront," e.g., "Doing training routines will increase a person's confront."

The verb "to motivate" becomes a noun in "motivator," e.g., "Bill pulled in a motivator when he had his accident."

"To postulate" becomes a noun in the Scientology word "postulate," e.g., "I have a postulate that I will win the lottery."

Even the word "clear" in Scientology has been transformed into a noun from the adjective of the same name.

Other Scientology nouns deriving from English verbs and adjectives are: "basic," "fall," "rise," "secondary," "overt," "overrun," "randomity," "processing," "read," "release," "review," and "static."

As an example of how thought is restricted in these English-to-Scientologese transformations, the word "clear" in English had at least thirty different definitions: free of clouds, having no blemishes, free from guilt, passing without contact, making a profit, etc. Yet in Scientology the word "clear" has one very concrete meaning: a person who has completed the Clearing Course in Scientology.

Another example is the word "release," which in English has nine different definitions, including: to set free, to let loose, to release from an obligation, to be set free from pain, to permit to be issued, etc. But in Scientology, a "release" refers to one thing: someone who has completed one of the lower levels of Scientology auditing.

Acronyms and abbreviations are common in Scientology, again a way of abbreviating thought. Acronyms can be parts of the organization: the SO (Sea Organization), GO (Guardian's Office), AO (Advanced Organization), ASHO (American Saint Hill Organization), CMO (Commodore's Messenger Organization).

Or they can have to do with time, e.g., AD (after Dianetics), and BD (before Dianetics). Years in Scientology are numbered in relation to the year 1950 -- the year the Dianetics book was published; therefore 1992 becomes AD 42 in Scientology. The year 1940 becomes BD 10.

There are many acronyms that have to do with the "technical" processes of auditing, such as: VBIs (bad indicators), VGIs (very good indicators), C/S (case supervisor), F/N (floating needle), BPC (bypassed charge), TA (tone arm action), EP (end phenomena), TR (training routine), and S&D (search and discovery) -- to name a few.

Acronyms can refer to things you can be: SP (suppressive person), PTS (potential trouble source), OT (operating thetan), PC (preclear), and HAS (Hubbard Apprentice Scientologist).

Or they can refer to things you can have: PTP (present time problem), OW (overt and withhold), 2D (second dynamic), ARC (affinity, reality and communication), MEST (material things, from matter, energy, space and time).

An acronym can be something to read: an HCOB (Hubbard Communication Office Bulletin), or HCOPL (Hubbard Communication Office Policy Letter).

It can be something you can do, as in "Q & A" (question and answer, or to question a command).

Or an acronym can be a person: CO (Commanding Officer), MAA (Master at Arms or Ethics Officer), D of T (Director of Training), D of P (Director of Processing), or "wog" ("worthy oriental gentleman," meaning anyone not a Scientologist).

Many of the words in Scientology are simply shortened, rendering thought even less necessary than it already was: "ack" (acknowledgement), "admin" (administration), "tech" (technical), "qual" (qualifications), "comm" (communication), "cog" (cognition), "inval" (invalidation), "eval" (evaluation), "org" (organization), "ruds" (rudiments), "R-factor" (reality factor), "sec" (security), "demo" (demonstration), "E-meter" (electropsychometer).

Of the many new words created by Hubbard in Scientology, the majority of them are composed of two words taken from regular English, but combined to create a new word in Scientology. Some of the completely new words can be traced to their English origins.

Examples of some of these new words, and their Scientology meanings, are:

"aberee" -- one who is aberrated

"anaten" -- a state of being unconscious to some degree

"anchor points" a person's boundaries in space

"alter-is" -- to consciously change something

"analytical mind" -- the conscious mind which, without the influence of the reactive mind, operates logically

"as-is" -- to make something disappear by staring at it for a long time

"awareness of awareness unit" -- another word for the person

"bad indicators" -- a person not smiling and not having a "floating needle" after a session

"between lives area" -- a word to describe the events that happen between the time a person dies and when he picks up his next body

"bypassed charge" emotions restimulated during auditing but not discharged

"case gain" -- progress made by an individual because of auditing

"case supervisor" -- the person who examines each session done by the auditor and programs the next session

"clay demo" -- a picture made in clay to demonstrate the learning of a theory

"comm course" -- the Communication Course of Scientology

"comm lag" -- a long hesitation in conversation

"comm line" -- the imaginary line between two people who are talking together

"covert hostility" a condition of masked anger

"cycle of action" -- defined by Hubbard as start, change, stop

"degraded being" -- a person in really bad shape

"destimulate" -- to calm down the reactive mind

"dirty needle" -- a certain motion of the needle on the E-meter which is ragged and erratic

"eighth dynamic" -- the Scientology term for God

"enmest" -- short for "enturbulated MEST," which means anything material which is in a disorganized state

"entheta" -- short for "enturbulated theta," and means a person or thing that is destructive and upset, usually referring to someone or something against Scientology

"enturbulate" -- to upset

"first dynamic" -- things having to do with the person himself

"floating needle" -- a needle on the E-meter that is lazily floating back and forth across the dial; this means that nothing in the reactive mind is activated at the moment

"genetic entity" -- the identity of the body containing a consciousness of evolution

"itsa" -- a person who in auditing is identifying something

"line charge" -- a prolonged spell of uncontrolled laughter

"mental image pictures" -- pictures in the mind; memories

"misemotion" -- any painful or unpleasant emotion

"missed withhold" -- something bad which a person did that someone else almost found out about

"not-is" -- to make something that exists into nothing

"obnosis" -- observation of the obvious

"operating thetan" -- a person minus the reactive mind who has the ability to control the physical universe

"overt motivator sequence" -- what happens when a person does something bad, then subconsciously causes something bad to happen to himself

"reach and withdraw" -- a principle in Scientology that something reached for tends to withdraw, and vice versa

"reactive mind" -- the subconscious mind which accounts for illogical behavior in humans according to Dianetic theory

"restimulate" -- to stir up the contents of the reactive mind

"second dynamic" -- having to do with love relationships, sex, and marriage

"stable datum" -- something known to be true that other facts can be based on

"terminal of comparable magnitude" -- something or someone equal in some quality to another

"theta" -- the life force, spirit or soul

"thetan" -- the person himself as a spiritual being or soul

"theta trap" -- any place which attracts people

"third dynamic" -- having to do with the group

"third party" -- the Scientology principal that in any conflict between two people there is a third person that is the real cause of the problem

"time track" -- the recorded history of a person's lives back to the beginning of time

"tone arm" -- one of the dials on the E-meter which shows how much "charge" has been erased in the session

"tone scale" -- a scale of emotions in Scientology

"two way comm" -- conversation between two people

"unmock" -- to destroy or make nothing of something

"upstat" -- someone who has high statistics; the opposite of "downstat"

"uptone" -- someone who is at a high emotional tone level; the opposite of "downtone"

"very good indicators" -- happens after an auditing session when the preclear is smiling and has a floating needle

These are just a few of the new words in Scientology.

The final category of language in Scientology has to do with words that are appropriated directly from English, but which are given new meanings within the framework of Scientology. Again, although the original word in English may have had a variety of meanings and shades of meaning, the new Scientology meanings will be unique and concrete.

The word "affinity" in English can refer to either a physical or an emotional closeness. In Scientology, "affinity" is used to replace the word "love," with its many connotations. The word "love" is not used in Scientology. "Affinity" means a willingness to be close to and share the same space with, or a liking for someone.

"Affinity" is also one of the components of the "ARC triangle," together with "reality" and "communication." The theory in Scientology is that if any one of the three corners of the triangle is increased (affinity, reality, or communication), the result will be greater "ARC," or understanding.

In English, the word "agreement" can have many meanings, such as the act of agreeing, an understanding, or a contract; in Scientology the word means the agreement of two or more people about reality, which is said to exist only when there is agreement that it exists.

In English, an auditor is one who goes over the books and finances of an organization; in Scientology the meaning is quite different. A Scientology auditor is one who delivers the processes of auditing to a preclear, the Scientology version of a counselor.

To a person outside of Scientology, the bank is the place one goes to for money; in Scientology, the word "bank" is a slang term for the reactive mind. It is commonly used as an adjective, meaning irrational or unpleasant, as: "The children are acting really banky today."

There used to be a sport in England, called "bullbaiting," in which several dogs would tease or attack a bull. Hubbard appropriated this term for a quite different purpose. "Bullbaiting" in Scientology refers to the Training Routine (drill) in which one person tries to provoke another to react while the person being provoked attempts to maintain a perfect, unblinking stare.

Before Scientology a "button" was something used to hold a shirt together; the word "button" in Scientology refers to any words or ideas which cause a person to react or which make him uncomfortable. For example, a short person might have a button on being short, a fat person a button on being fat. It is the purpose of the drill called "TR-0 Bullbaited" to locate and "flatten" a person's buttons.

A "case" may have meant many things before Scientology: a legal argument, a person being treated by a social worker, a container in which to carry something, or a full box of beers. But in Scientology, a "case" refers to one thing: a person's reactive mind which has been restimulated. A person undergoing Scientology auditing is frequently instructed "not to discuss your case with anyone."

A "chain" in English can be either a series of connected links, or a more symbolic series of connected circumstances or events, but in Scientology a "chain" has to do with a group of pictures in the reactive mind which have in common some physical characteristic, e.g., "Today we will audit your stomach pains chain."

"Charge" in English can have a variety of meanings: what one does with a credit card, to add an electrical current to, to ask as a price or fee, to attack or move forward, to entrust with the care of someone, to make an accusation, or the instruction or verdict by a jury. In Scientology, however, "charge" refers to the harmful energy or force stored in the reactive mind. Different people can have charge on different items or subjects, e.g., "He has a lot of charge on women."

"Ethics" is a complicated subject in the regular world. It is defined as: "the study of standards of conduct and moral judgment." But in Scientology, "ethics" refers to the disciplinary branch of the organization and to the policies of Hubbard which govern the activities of this branch. Most Scientologists have a certain amount of fear of "ethics." An example of its use would be: "If you don't get your stats (statistics) up, you will be sent to ethics."

The word "dynamic" is an example of an adjective turned into a noun. "Dynamic" in English is used as the opposite of "static," but "dynamic" in Scientology refers to the eight arbitrary divisions of life devised by Hubbard. For example, the first dynamic refers to the person himself; the second dynamic to the sexual relationship, marriage, and family; the third dynamic refers to the group, etc. Although this word can be used as a noun in English, the meaning is somewhat different.

The word "static" is also altered from adjective into noun in Scientology, where "static" refers to the thetan, or soul. The "static" in Scientology is defined as being without mass, without wavelength, without time and without position.

"Indicators" in Scientology refer to specific characteristics of the preclear during auditing: whether he is smiling, the color of his skin, whether he has good eye contact. In Scientology there can be good indicators (GIs), very good indicators (VGIs), bad indicators (BIs), or very bad indicators (VBIs).

A "process" in Scientology refers to a specific auditing action to be done on a preclear.

"Raw meat" in Scientology is not something that one might cook for dinner; rather, the term refers to the person coming in the front door who has never before had Scientology auditing, and who is a prospect for Scientology services.

The word "reality" undergoes an interesting transformation in Scientology: from a word meaning "that which is" in English, "reality" in Scientology comes to mean "that which is agreed upon." In other words, in Scientology, unless there is agreement that something exists, it does not exist. All reality, according to Scientology, has been created by agreement The physical universe exists only because at some point in the past, thetans agreed together that it existed. According to Scientology theory, as soon as thetans agree together that it no longer exists, then it will cease to exist.

A "lock" in English can be something which keeps a door from being opened; in Scientology, the word "lock" refers to a somewhat painful emotional experience, which does not, however, contain actual physical pain or unconsciousness.

A "terminal" to most people might mean the display component of a computer, or a Greyhound bus station; but to a Scientologist a "terminal" refers to a person at a particular spot or doing a particular job. The word can be loosely used to mean, simply, a person, e.g., "Go and give this letter to the appropriate terminal."

Other words that have a specific Scientology meaning are: "ally" -- someone who is not really your friend in Scientology; "circuit" -- in Scientology, this refers only to those in your head; "mass" -- mental entities having actual physical mass; "roller coaster" -- somebody whose emotional condition goes up and down.

"Rudiments" -- asking a person at the beginning of auditing if they have any ARC breaks (upsets), present time problems, or missed withholds. If so, then the person has "out-ruds" which must be corrected before auditing can begin.

"Session" -- refers to the precise period of time during which auditing takes place.

"Significance" -- the phrases embedded in the person's reactive mind as a result of implants; also the ideas learned in a course of study.

"Source" -- refers to Hubbard; the name by which he is most commonly known in Scientology.

"Sympathy" a negative trait in Scientology, where one is trained to not feel sympathy for anyone.

"Understanding" -- in Scientology consists of three things: affinity, reality and communication. Increasing any of these three results in increased understanding; conversely, lowering either of the three results in decreased understanding.

"Valence" -- is any identity that the person happens to be in at the time; a person can have many valences, e.g., "Whenever she is around her mother, she goes into the valence of her father."

One of the most difficult things about leaving Scientology is the problem of what to do about the language. Many ex-members report problems of thinking and even dreaming in "Scientologese" for months, and sometimes years, after physically leaving the cult.

This can also pose a problem for someone trying to counsel a recent defector from Scientology. Not knowing the language can put the counselor at a disadvantage, and prevent the counselee from feeling really understood. The same holds true for family members trying to communicate with someone newly out of Scientology -- because they don't speak or understand the language they are unable to reach the person they are trying so hard to help.

Manipulation of language is a very real and powerful tool in the hands of the cult leader. By controlling language, the cult leader can control the thoughts, and therefore the lives of those who have strayed into his fold.

Legally, there is nothing wrong with a man like Hubbard manipulating the thoughts and minds of others for the express purpose of exploiting them for his own profit. Mental rape is not a crime.

Scientology, Hubbard once claimed, is the only game in the universe where everybody wins.

The victims of Scientology know better.

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