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The Myth of Unhealthy Heresies

Study of Mind Development Groups, Sects and Cults in Ontario

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qnote.gif (173 bytes) The Case Against the Groups
qnote.gif (173 bytes) The Case Against Critics

     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Fear Breeds Intolerance
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) The Brainwashing Myth
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Deny Hypnotism and Brainwashing
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Practices of Older Religions
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Myth of the Evil Eye
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) True Conversions
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) The Myth of Unhealthy Heresies
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) The Myth of Deception
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) The Myth of Subversion
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) The Movements as Victims
     grsqrsm.gif (85 bytes) Social Benefactors
When the authenticity of faith is determined by its presumed effects on body or psyche, the therapeutic state is upon us, opponents of anti-cultists warn. Society delegates to physicians the power to determine what is good for the body politic -- or, perhaps more accurately, the spirit. Legitimacy of belief is based upon how "well adjusted" its adherents seem to be.

Anc Cox said such a circumstance would mean the myth of healthy religion is at play, that is, the asdsumption that some faiths are healthy and some unhealthy. But those who propagate the myth fail to recognize that efforts to assess belief on the basis of whether it is healthy necessarily are tinged with cultural and class biases. Cox added that even by the most benign definition of healthy religion, the only faith that would meet criteria of normalcy prevalent in Western culture would be "conventional Christianity of a fairly cooled-out nature." It certainlywould not be fanatical, but would be geared to help a person get along well, perhaps even succeed, in a capitalistic-industrialist society. Cox said:

... religion is judged healthy or neurotic, not on its own terms, but according to how much and to what extent it contributes to the type of personality the therapist finds desirable in society. St. Paul would certainly not qualify as a person of healthy religion... What would ever have happened to St. John of the Cross under this rubric, to say nothing of the Baal-shem-tov?

But even when movements do address allegations that their practices damage members' health, they contend that the evidence does not support the accusations. In their 1979 submission to the Attorney General, the Canadian Scientologists assailed claims that practices of mind development gorup had precipitated breakdowns requiring psychiatric intervention. The document said there had been only seven such cases reported over the previous four years. If suggested that even if one accepted that there was some link between the course and severe mental stress -- a link that had not been proved -- the caualty figures would not be meaningful. Stresses experienced by participants in the mind development program were portrayed as just a minor part of stresses in life. Statistically in view of the number of breakdowns they cause, these other stresses seemed of far greater consequence. Enumerating some of these other stresses, the Scientology document asked:

Shall the government therefore ban marriage because unhappy marriage has been shown to make people vulnerable to mental stress and psychiatric breakdown? Shall the government ban study and schools and universities because study problems have shown to make sutdents vulnerable to depression and anxiety and psychiatric problems?...

Perhaps older people should be banned from working in case it should induce psychiatric illness. Or should they ban children from leaving home, moving, arguments, illness, school, group homes and alcohol?

Or shall we make it easy, and simply ban life itself?

In interviews with the study, most clinicians, including most of those who felt movements did have negative effects on health, agreed that evidenceof suchlinks was extremely difficult to obtain and was inconclusive. Moreover, even when members broke down during their participation in various groups, clinicians admitted the breakdowns conceivably could have been precipitated in other situations by other stresses.




History is mottled with religious persecutions based on the belief that members of the hated group are bound to it by evil powers beyond their control.







For a society that professes libertarian values, notions of mind control are an ideal libertarian rationale for the suppression of unpopular social movements and beliefs






Utilizing this rationale, one can apply pressure to religious and political movements and even subject their adherents to forcible confinement and counter-indoctrination without conceding any intention of suppressing a point of view.



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