Tom Cruise devalued Scientology
Offers for life support and self-optimization
Offers for life support and self-optimization
In the modern, pluralistic and globally networked society, people often have the impression that life has become more difficult, complicated and confusing. If this feeling becomes a problem, it is important to receive good and sustainable help and support. This can be done, for example, through professional psychology or psychotherapy, pastoral care and counseling. There are many good offers here, but also those that have non-technical backgrounds, offer para- and pseudoscientific methods, have spiritual contexts that are incompatible with Christianity, or have a problematic view of the world and people.
You can come into contact with offers from Scientology in different ways: through advertising and information stands in city centers, via the Internet, in your personal environment or also through instrumentalized institutions (e.g. schools that have not sufficiently informed themselves about offers from so-called Scientology sub-organizations) . Well-known Scientologists, such as Tom Cruise, promote the group. Scientology was given extensive information in the German media, the organization is perceived by the public as a sect, and it describes itself as a church. Scientology offers, where it is often difficult to recognize the real origin, appear increasingly in the public space. These include, for example:
- "Dianetics": the Scientology method.
- "The Way to Happiness - The Way to Happiness": Advertising campaign for Scientology.
- "Facts about drugs", "Say NO to drugs, say YES to life": Anti-drug campaign of the Scientology-related organization "Narconon", which is aimed primarily at schools and youth organizations.
- "KVPM - Commission for Violations of Psychiatry Against Human Rights" wants to draw attention to alleged abuses in psychiatry through publications and exhibitions.
- “Youth for Human Rights International” primarily addresses young people and sells video clips and booklets on human rights.
These organizations often serve as the first contact with Scientology and as so-called "entry gates" into the system.
Scientology was founded by the science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) in the USA and describes itself as a religion. Scientologists assume that the universe and man are made up of different building blocks. Accordingly, the universe consists of matter, energy, space and time, man consists of the mind, the mortal body and the so-called "thetan". The latter is an immortal being (soul or spirit) that exists in every human being, a kind of "spirit being". According to Scientology, the thetan is overpowering, but has lost his powers in the course of this and previous life due to traumatic factors such as accidents or crises. The goal of every human being is to achieve the freedom and thus also the powers of the original thetan. To do this, one must first achieve the so-called clear status and then complete programs and courses that aim to get the “thetan” under control and to become “operating thetan” at different levels. If one could achieve this, according to Scientology, one would become a kind of "new person" with infinite abilities up to the equality of God. A constant further development of the self is promised. This is done through a planned course system that is offered for a fee. Different techniques are used, some of which can be described as pseudotherapeutic.
The most common technique used to achieve the clear state is called auditing. The follower speaks to the so-called auditor in a kind of “therapist setting” in order to “clear” the mind. During the conversation, a so-called "E-meter" is used, which is similar to a lie detector. A small current flows through tin cans, alleged mental changes in the client are indicated by a needle deflection. These rashes are interpreted by the auditor. If a supposed problem or a burden is solved, one speaks of the client being "cleared".
Scientology is strictly hierarchical, almost militarily structured. There are various internal organizations that watch over the order and correctness of the methods used. Critics are seen as enemies who want to harm Scientology.
Scientology's methods are highly controversial. The organization is accused of secret power strivings, anti-democratic tendencies, abuse of hypnosis and manipulation. In Germany, the organization is monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
It is questioned whether Scientology is a religion at all. First and foremost, it is a commercial enterprise that aims to maximize profits by selling books, CDs and courses. The overlaid religious system can be classified as occult and esoteric. It is primarily used as a quasi-religious system to gain financial and tax advantages. The methods can be described as pseudoscientific ideology. Scientological thought is incompatible with Christian belief. The concept of man in Scientology assumes that a god-like superman can be created. This contradicts the Christian image of man of dignified creation, even in weakness and suffering.
Recommendations for action
One should inform oneself well about Scientology and the respective front organizations, in order not to get into a situation in which one is being instrumentalized. It is not possible to collaborate with Scientology or any of its affiliates, rent rooms or display advertisements. People who have taken courses at Scientology report pressures, family and social problems. These people should be given professional guidance and assistance. The background and practices of Scientology should be clarified.
Arnd Diringer: The bridge to complete freedom? Organizational structure, dogmatics and practice of the Scientology organization, EZW-Texte 188, Berlin 2007.
Senate Department for Education, Youth and Science Berlin: Scientology incognito. Sub-organizations and campaigns, 32016.
"It is fantastic: Touching 32 points on the head is the energetic key to dissolve everything that may prevent you from reaching your full strength, creativity and energy to act." Access Consciousness. You are invited to various lecture and adventure evenings, which should lead to further courses. It is promised that through the stimulation method "Access Bars" life topics such as communication, healing, money, hope and dreams, control, perception, sexuality or aging will be filled with new energies and completely changed for the better. The method is advertised as simple, unproblematic, cheap and effective.
Access Consciousness was founded in 1990 by Gary Douglas in Santa Barbara, California. Dain Heer later joined as an additional manager. Initially the organization was called Access, then Access Energy Transformation and meanwhile Access Consciousness. There are various other names for methods, courses, and offers. According to its own statements, the system is now represented in over 170 countries and has "changed the lives of more than 30,000 people".
Gary Douglas initially worked as a medium and was a channel for various otherworldly spirits. Shortly after his first channeling encounter with "Rasputin", he is said to have traveled to Colorado to take part in a meditation camp. There he is said to have channeled a group of non-human beings he calls "Novians". These Novians are said to have given Douglas the original knowledge of the basic method of Access Consciousness, the "Access Bars". “Access Bars” is the name given to the entry method that every Access participant must first learn. It is the starting point of an almost confusing range of courses.
Structurally, Access always assumes an experienced deficit and offers the prospect of overcoming one's own limits simply and effectively by attending the courses.
Only the offers of the access bars and their practice are halfway reliably comprehensible in terms of content: 32 points on the head are stimulated by light pressure, this is intended to transfer energies and "delete" any negative content. During a session of Access Bars, a so-called “clearing sentence” is repeated several times in a mantra-like manner. This sentence can also be said in other languages, but in English it unfolds its “highest energy”. Since the course materials are kept secret, it is difficult to say anything about the content.
From a structural point of view, Access Consciousness is initially a differentiated course system that can be put together by the user according to his own interests. It enables him to apply the named "techniques, tools and processes" (= "Access Tools") to the achieve desired goals. Some of the courses build on one another or are dependent on participation in previous courses.
In this context, critics point out that the content, techniques and processes of the respective courses are only described superficially for outsiders. Course documents are also only passed on to participants and are protected by trademark law.
The attraction for people to turn to this method can certainly be seen in the offer of a quick, uncomplicated and apparently risk-free improvement in all areas of life. Ultimately, however, a freedom is advertised that dropouts and critics report that it does not exist. On the contrary: the course system and its contents are kept secret, are expensive and give themselves a pseudo-scientific coating. This assessment is supported by the fact that Access is mainly to be found in the environment of alternative life support offers and the excessive promises there of increasing energy, coping with stress, faster recovery, easy money-making or more intensive relationships can evoke unsustainable expectations.
From an evangelical-theological point of view, the offers of Access are based on a syncretistic system of different esoteric contexts and methods, such as channeling and otherworldly contacts of the founder, paired with ideas of reincarnation. In practice there is a mixture of exaggerated claims to healing, motivational training, positive thinking and energy flows.
The clearing sentence makes a miraculous impression, it apparently functions as a kind of mantra that penetrates, quasi-religiously, into hidden layers of energy and consciousness and deletes or changes them.
The human image is mechanistic and cannot be reconciled with the Christian human image of a unique individual created in the image of God. The notions of memory chips to be erased in the head appear transhumanistic and are also problematic from a psychological perspective.
Recommendations for action
When people in communities visit Access Consciousness, they can be offered an interview to clarify the background. Often the consumers do not even know which teaching is behind the apparently unproblematic offers. It can also be asked what motivation people have to attend such courses. Often behind this there is a longing for self-optimization, quick solution to deep-seated problems or for healing. One could then sensitively make it clear that the promise of a quick and uncomplicated solution to complicated issues is appealing, but does not work sustainably, on the contrary, it harbors the risk of financial and psychological dependencies.
Rooms cannot be made available to the Access Consciousness providers, and requests, advertisements and posters should also be refused.
Alexander Warnemann / Oliver Koch: Change everything easily and conveniently? Critical comments on "Access Consciousness", in: Materialdienst der EZW 5/2018, 176-183.
Under the titles “Constellation Work”, “Hellinger Work” or “Systemic Constellation according to Bert Hellinger”, this special type of systemic family constellation is advertised on the alternative psycho market as well as in medically approved circles. The target group are individuals or families as well as companies or social systems in which ethnic, political, collegial or family problems are to be solved. There are also offers in church houses, family education centers or in pastoral care.
Bert Hellinger (civil: Anton Hellinger, 1925 - 2019) is a former Catholic priest, has attended various training courses in group dynamics, therapy and analysis, but has not completed any therapeutic training. Since 1993 he has published various books and magazines in which he describes his view of family systems and their order. In practice, the constellation work is done according to established rules. After the family members have adjusted their systems and made emotions visible through gestures or the like, the "correct order" described by Hellinger takes effect. According to it, the families or systems are reorganized, so that "love will flow again" and the systems could live and act together again correctly and anew. The laws that Hellinger discovered that make a harmonious family life play a major role. A fundamental thought is that systems in previous generations are burdened by unspoken guilt and unresolved conflicts and must be freed from them. In this context, it is spoken of a “knowing field”, the “orders of love” or the “great soul”, which point the way to salvation.
Only when the old entanglements are resolved and the system is reorganized according to Hellinger's rules will order be restored and problems resolved. This order is rigid: the woman is subordinate to the man, children have to submit to their parents, and first-born siblings stand before those born afterwards. Even serious experiences of abuse or other injuries do not change anything in these orders. In practice, rituals are carried out - sometimes in show-like events - that are intended to restore order: for example, humble bowing to those of higher rank up to apologizing for victims of abuse to the perpetrators. In fact, there are statements by Hellinger in which he recommends that the Jews “say the funeral prayer for Hitler”, stating that the Jewish people would not find peace beforehand. Such statements are despicable and deeply hurtful. Religious elements also play a role in Hellinger's family constellations, such as otherworldly spiritual beings who can be summoned to take part in the constellation.
The two professional associations for systemic therapy (DGfS and DGSF) have criticized and rejected Hellinger's method. Above all, they criticized the fact that the method takes place in large groups without a therapeutic setting, that strong emotions are triggered that cannot be absorbed, that Hellinger's approach is perceived as authoritarian or that the patriarchal attitudes almost demand and impose gestures of submission.
Hellinger has said goodbye to Christianity and the associated personal image of God. Instead, he has built up an esoteric belief system characterized by ideas of reincarnation, shamanism and channeling, which influences his therapeutic offers. The occult view of the world and of man is in fundamental contradiction to Christianity. Hellinger is also criticized because, through his rigid systemic classifications, he makes perpetrators victims and vice versa.
Recommendations for action
One has to make a fine distinction on the psychotherapeutic and family therapy market. The systemic approach has developed in recent years as a serious, sustainable and good therapy method that is successfully used by many reputable providers. You should be well informed and always ask the therapist about their background. The professional associations are on hand to provide advice when assessing the range of therapies.There you will also find detailed descriptions of therapeutic procedures and substantiated delimitations, e.g. to Hellinger.
The duty to provide information also applies to those responsible in church contexts, for example when it is asked whether a systemic list can be offered in church areas or in pastoral contexts. There is also a duty of care here for people who are looking for help with their pressing life issues. Transparency, internal and external freedom of choice in every situation, protection of privacy and comprehensible, well-founded training are essential in the sensitive area of therapeutic settings.
Open letter from Arist von Schlippe to Bert Hellinger (the document is easy to find on the Internet).
"Positive thinking - finally being happy", "Strengthen your thinking, improve your life" or "Don't worry - live": You can find such titles in abundance in the advice literature or in the context of alternative life support offers.
Many pioneers of positive thinking used to be clergy and had a theological training. This is one of the reasons why there seems to be an affinity between some offers of positive thinking and the Christian faith. The well-known television preacher Joyce Meyer (born 1943), for example, assumes that it is particularly important "to maintain a positive attitude, because God is positive".
A variant of positive thinking comes from Bärbel Mohr (1964 - 2010), who promised comprehensive wish fulfillment through "orders from the universe". Also to be mentioned is the screenwriter Rhonda Byrne (born 1951), who in "The Secret" presented the law of attraction, according to which a person gets what he radiates.
The offers that are connected with “positive thinking” have become almost unmanageable nowadays, and their theological or spiritual backgrounds are just as diverse: They range from esoteric and occult ideas to evangelical worldviews.
Fundamental to “positive thinking” is the conviction that certain ways of thinking and ideas will bring about happiness, success, well-being and healing as if by themselves. For the most part, a “law of attraction” is assumed, which transforms positive thoughts and ideas into facts. The relevant advice literature and corresponding coaching offers have become vast and a lucrative market. The method, which sees itself as a way of life, was shaped by the esoteric New Thought Movement. This is originally a religious healing method mainly worn by Protestant, white middle-class Americans. According to this, all illnesses arise from the human mind. In training, it was taught to connect with the divine spirit and to live in harmony with God. The basis was the “mind over matter” principle, which is about mastering yourself and the matter. Affirmations and visualizations are intended to influence perception and thinking so sustainably that reality changes. Thoughts that cause illness should be seen through as wrong (“there are no diseases”). From such an inner attitude it should be possible to master everyday life in a playful way and to heal yourself and others from illnesses.
The naturopath Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802 - 1866) is considered to be the founder of the Neugeist movement. He tried to convince his patients that their illness was to be viewed as the result of misbelief, baseless fears and negative thoughts, and taught them to focus on the pure and perfect presence of God because there is no disease in the divine consciousness could still give disturbance.
Today new spirit ideas are partly taken up again in the American megachurches or in esoteric ideas.
The reflection on virtues is in good biblical tradition. In the letter to the Philippians (4: 8) Paul recommends: “What is true, what is honorable, what is just, what is pure, what is lovable, what has a good reputation, be it a virtue, be it a praise - be careful! “The Bible underlines the power of positive beliefs:“ Anything is possible to him who believes ”(Mk 9:23). From the point of view of the theology of the cross, human failure is also of particular importance; human beings are accepted with all their weaknesses. In the teachings of the Neugeist authors, basic Christian ideas of faith, prayer or healing are falsified into allegedly irresistible "success" methods. From a biblical point of view, this includes the acceptance of limits to human existence (mortality, illness, suffering). The fact that a life full of satisfaction is also possible in the face of limitations and weaknesses is not in the focus of the ideology of positive thinking.
From a psychological point of view, positive thinking has clear limits and can even be harmful, namely when a pressure to succeed or healing is built up in such a way that the practitioners are robbed of their inner freedom and have the impression that they always have to go through life happily and positively no matter how bad your own experiences are. Methods of positive thinking such as mantras, hypnosis techniques or other suggestive or autosuggestive techniques reach their practical limits. A popular strategy is to interpret failure, defeat, or regression as personal failure, which often leads to self-reproach and depression. In the worst case, such a view can lead to a loss of reality. Negative feelings have an important alarm function. They speak up when there is an urgent need for action and warn people if they ignore important needs and longings or if they are approaching their limits. The advantages of an optimistic attitude towards life are bundled into an ideology in positive thinking, through which dreams should become reality in all situations.
Recommendations for action
It must be decided in each individual case how to deal with an offer that is close to positive thinking. General advising or advising against is not appropriate. The following questions can help with an assessment:
- How are failure, illness, suffering or the negative experiences in a person's life interpreted? Are they devalued in the sense of “it's your own fault” or “everyone is the maker of their own happiness”?
- Is there a risk of a loss of reality if an offer is accepted?
- Are the offers transparent and can the systems be questioned about their religious origin?
- Are apparently positive changes about short-term feelings or sustained realistic turns?
- Are people being devalued who don't seem so successful and happy?
- Do you have the feeling that you have to appear positive thinking and happy on the outside, even though you feel very different on the inside? Do you feel like you are under pressure to act?
Günter Scheich: Positive thinking makes you sick !? About dizziness with dangerous promises of success, Oelde 2012.
Michael Utsch: Positive thinking, EZW-Lexikon, 2011, http://ezw-berlin.de/html/3_144.php
“You can do anything, if you want!” Coaches offer their services in a wide variety of areas: They advise companies and employees, groups or private individuals. The focus is on optimizing the workforce, personal and financial development, the relationship or personal living conditions. You meet coaches either in the work environment, in consulting contexts or through advertising. As a rule, the offers are chargeable. A coach accompanies and advises his clients over shorter or longer periods of time. The variety of offers is now huge and unmanageable. In addition to serious coaches, there are also problematic providers.
The term “coach” is not legally protected and is therefore not subject to any direct control, training or specific content requirements. Anyone can call themselves a coach. Affiliation to a coaching association, which then also sets certain quality standards, is voluntary. The effect of coaching is scientifically controversial. A basic distinction is made between business coaching and personal coaching. The former focuses primarily on companies, their interests and the concerns of their employees. The personality coaching is often at home in the spectrum of alternative life counseling and offers support and accompaniment in the area of life practice, partnership and self-optimization. In practice, the coaching is carried out in different ways: You work in a team, with lectures or in individual discussions, but also in unusual places (in the forest, on the junkyard) or in virtual space (online coaching, e-coaching, telephone coaching) . The methods are as diverse as the offers. From conversations to hypnosis to self-awareness courses, everything can be found. These methods are often criticized when they are offered that arise from the pseudotherapeutic or esoteric context (NLP or “reincarnation coach”). Often one goal comes first: optimizing the clients in their respective systems. Companies and teams should work more efficiently, operate economically and become more productive. People should live better and feel better about themselves and those around them.
There is nothing wrong with getting help and getting advice and support from people you know, trust or who are well trained. This can be particularly helpful in situations of upheaval or development in life (crises, new demands). A change of perspective and accompanied self-reflection are generally to be viewed as positive. From a Christian point of view, these are means that are recommended: Counseling, accompaniment, professional exchange and advice and of course pastoral care for one another are core tasks of the Christian community (Mk 6.7ff, sending out in pairs; Luk 24.13ff, Emmaus).
From a Christian perspective, it becomes problematic when the focus is on pure self-optimization at all costs. Man is imperfect and never will be. That is why God accepts man with all his mistakes and doubts, and man's worth is not measured by success or failure. This is the liberating message of Christianity.
If coaches make unrealistic promises, exploit people psychologically or financially, work with dubious methods or pretend qualifications that they do not have comprehensibly, participation is not advisable. Finally, it should be remembered that coaching is not a therapy: no somatic or psychological diagnoses or treatments may be carried out.
Recommendations for action
Since the market for coaching offers has become obvious, it is difficult to classify the qualification. There are now a large number of umbrella associations that apply quality criteria. They describe, for example, that serious coaches make their working methods transparent, that they conclude clear contracts with their clients, that there is a clear end to the coaching, that they show comprehensible references about their training or memberships, that they do not present themselves as all-rounders and don't develop guru quirks. It is important to find out about the background of the providers before a coaching process and, if necessary, to obtain advice from professionalized bodies, such as umbrella organizations or consumer protection associations.
In the event of any cooperation with coaches in the church sector or questions about the allocation of rooms, it must be checked in advance whether the offer is compatible with basic Christian beliefs. Coaches should then be asked whether they have a religious background, if so which, and whether they convey this in their offers.
Michael Utsch: Spiritual Coaching? Possibilities and limits of a popular form of advice, in: Materialdienst der EZW 7/2014, 243-251.
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