Talking the Talk

The first thing a group with cult tendencies does is introduce a new and exclusive ‘language’ to describe concepts that are limited to that group alone. Scientology had a massive ‘dictionary’ to explain their jargon, which includes numerous abbreviations, totally new words and new meanings for normal everyday English words.

This new language gives a sense of inclusion, of being part of an elite group that can communicate certain concepts only to each other. It breeds a sense of safety and familiarity within the group and widens the divide to the ‘outside world’.  After learning hundreds of new words, it in fact becomes a second language.

The first scientology word I learned was “ARC”. This is a made up word from the initials of the words Affinity-Reality-Communication. Without going into lengthy explanations, the idea is that you need to have all three concepts in alignment to lead to ‘understanding’. The term “ARC” is a very small word for a very large concept. It includes all sorts of emotions and substitutes for normal words such as liking, connection, love, empathy etc. The opposite of “ARC” is “ARC Break” (ARCX in the super duper abbreviation requirements) and this means any upset, disagreement, dislike and so on.

Two little words then become a sort of shortcut to describe the vast array of real human emotions – they are squished and squashed into a box labelled “ARC” and equated with “understanding”.

I learnt about “ARC” at the age of 14, just when a young mind is starting to awaken to the wider boundaries of life. I was so excited while doing my first course (Personal Efficiency or PE Course) and felt that I had a head start on my poor peers left studying boring subjects at school, they would never be able to grasp the incredible truth that was being revealed to me.  This is the point where you begin to really learn the ‘language’ and the start of the gradual disconnection from a normal life.

Talking the Talk of scientology (or any other cult) is a passport to a life of cognitive dissonance – a state of mind where you hold conflicting ideas simultaneously. When you are told something is “true” and your continued acceptance by the group depends on your acceptance of that “truth” –  yet you feel that something is ‘not right’ somehow (i.e. you may have conflicting experience) – it is a very uncomfortable place to be. The easiest solution, given that you feel the benefits of such a group outweigh any other consideration, is simply to accept it. If you do this long enough then you can actually get to a place where you barely use logic and alternate viewpoints in your thinking as it is all supplied for you in a ready-made package. Accepting that package leads you to accepting a life as defined by the cult leader and it happens in such a way that you barely know it has happened.

Much of the jargon stops you thinking, and is designed that way. A great article on this is Thought Stopping by Jeff Hawkins and his follow-up article Thought Stopping on Steroids.

One of the hardest and also most rewarding things an ex scientologist can do is to re-learn normal vocabulary. I have been often told that  “it is not necessary, as the jargon explains concepts that are exclusive to scientology”. Well that’s the whole point! Take any one of those exclusive concepts and write it out in plain English, it is an exercise that is guaranteed to start to shift some of the automatic thinking that using the jargon brings. Best to start with the smaller and more common words, such as “theta”, “ARC”, “Comm”, “2D” and so on.  I will add that it’s not easy to do, at first, though well worth the effort.

It is such a wonderful thing to be able to truly make your own mind up about a subject without having to double think and translate into scientologese. Wonderful.