April 22, 2006

Tom and Silent Katie give birth

This week, prompted by the Scientology™-influenced "silent birth" of Tom Cruise's and Katie Holmes' daughter Suri, Fred Butler posted an excellent parody of the event.

I'll bet this bit of celebrity gossip has caused a bunch of consternation amongst the hoi polloi. "Silent birth?" they're all wondering. "What's with the silent birth? Why didn't Katie want anyone to talk around her while she delivered Tom Cruise's illegitimate love child? If only the Crusty Curmudgeon could explain this to us, but he has been nowhere to be found for many weeks!"

So here's the deal with why Scientologists™ are so obsessed with silent births.

Scientology� began as Dianetics, a self-help "therapy" that pulp-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard first introduced in the May 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. (That ought to tell you all you really need to know about Dianetics.) It was later published in full-book form1, and for a couple of years, Dianetics was all the rage at nerd parties.

Hubbard wrote that the human mind has two parts: the analytical mind, which did all the actual thinking, and the reactive mind, which acted as a sort of tape recorder, picking up and storing all sense data. During times of unconsciousness, the analytical mind doesn't work - being unconscious and all - but the reactive mind just keeps on recording away at the cellular level. So when a Dianetics "patient" (known in cult jargon as an "aberree" or "preclear") is unconscious and subjected to pain, the reactive mind records these experiences as "engrams." Engrams are kind of like post-hypnotic suggestions. When the aberree encounters an experience similar to the one that caused the engram, it manifests itself as some sort of behavioural problem2 or psychosomatic illness3.

The point of Dianetics, therefore, is to rid the aberree of all engrams through a therapy known as "auditing." In an auditing session, the auditor asks questions of the preclear (who is in an altered state of consciousness called the "Dianetic reverie") to locate engrams and transfer them from the reactive mind to the analytical mind, where they pose no threat. Later on, Hubbard replaced the reverie with the "E-meter," a crude sort of lie detector fashioned out of a Wheatstone Bridge circuit. A "Clear" is someone who has been cleared of all engrams; Hubbard claimed they should demonstrate superior abilities: total recall, immunity to disease, 20/20 vision, and so on.

According to Dianetics, pregnancy and birth are the worst time to be a preclear. When the mom-to-be isn't trying to abort her child with knitting needles4, she's constantly getting into engram-causing situations:

Mama sneezes, baby gets knocked "unconscious." Mama runs lightly and blithely into a table and baby gets its head stoved in. Mama has constipation and baby, in the anxious effort, gets squashed. Papa becomes passionate and baby has the sensation of being put into a running washing machine. Mama gets hysterical, baby gets an engram. Papa hits Mama, baby gets an engram. Junior bounces on Mama's lap, baby gets an engram. And so it goes.5

Therefore, it is very very very important never to speak to a woman who has just been injured in some way:

A woman who is pregnant should be given every consideration by a society which has any feeling for its future generations. If she falls, she should be helped - but silently. She must not be expected to carry heavy things. And she should not have coitus forced upon her. For every coital experience is an engram in the child during pregnancy.6

And above all, say nothing around a woman who has been struck or jarred in any way. Help her. If she speaks, don't answer. Just help her. You have no idea whether she is pregnant or not.7

Specifically concerning the birth, Hubbard says:

Maintain silence in the presence of birth to save both the sanity of the mother and the child and safeguard the home to which they will go. And the maintaining of silence does not mean a volley of "Sh's," for those make stammerers.8

And that, dear reader, is the reason why Scientologists™ do "silent births." They don't want to turn their children into stuttering basket cases (at least, no more than Scientology™ itself will). And the reason this nonsense is in the news of late is because there are highly paid, gullible nitwits, like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who actually take this codswallop seriously.

And if you think that is weird, wait until they have little Suri christened [scroll down a few screens].


1 And You Thought Dan Brown Wrote Drivel Footnote: L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (New York: Hermitage House, 1950).

2 Steal This Footnote: For example:

An engram received from Father beating Mother which says "Take that! take it, I tell you. You've got to take it!" means that our patient has possibly had tendencies as a kleptomaniac. (Such things are the whole sources of the impulses of a thief, the test being that when an auditor erases all such engrams in a patient, the patient no longer steals.) (Ibid., 212.)

3 Bayer Naked Footnote: The reactive mind is infamously stupid and literal. In her seminal book The Scandal of Scientology, Paulette Cooper mentions the case of a woman who complained of a rash on her backside. During a Dianetics session, the auditor discovered that when pregnant, her mother had made requests for aspirin. Her reactive mind had interpreted this as "ass burn." I couldn't make this stuff up. (Paulette Cooper, "The Scandal of Scientology / Chapter 3: Life and Sex in the Womb," Operation Clambake [home page online]; available from <http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/tsos/sos-03.html>; Internet; accessed 22 April 2006.

4 Illegal Back-Alley Footnote: No, really. Hubbard claimed: "Twenty or thirty abortion attempts are not uncommon in the aberee and in every attempt the child could have been pierced through the body or brain [i.e. with knitting needles]" (Hubbard, 158).

Indeed, when women aren't attempting to abort their children, they are being slapped around by their husbands, punched by their doctors, raped by their brothers, or abused by their lovers during adulterous liaisons. It's not an understatement to say that Hubbard had issues with women; perhaps this goes to some length to explain why he was divorced twice and left his third wife to go to jail following Operation Snow White while he himself went into hiding.

5 Ibid., 130, emphasis in original.

6 Ibid., 158.

7 Ibid., 160, emphasis in original.

8 Ibid.