Scientology and Avatar

I have a cousin who is very into “Avatar” and every few years or so makes a push to try and pimp it to the family. He’s probably the cousin I relate to most in many ways – he’s the most intellectual, he’s a writer, he works in the same profession I do.

I was researching it a little online, because I am curious and skeptical, like any good Reedie, right? Turns out Avatar is affiliated with Scientology, and the separation from Scientology was over money and copyright laws. Beware of any “religion” or group that makes money from copyright laws, I saw.

Is it a cult? Is Scientology a cult? According to this checklist it could be considered one.

Those of you who are in therapy, are therapists, or who have been in therapy, how would you feel about going to a therapist who is a member of this group? Is it any different from going to a therapist who is a member of an organized religion, which you might or might know about your therapist anyway? Is it possible to keep your beliefs out of something as intimate as therapy, if the beliefs border on cult-like?

Advertisements

~ by realsupergirl on April 22, 2008.

6 Responses to “Scientology and Avatar”

  1. This is a very rich question and one that I have considered myself, as a a member of what I consider a fraternal organization but which some others consider a cult. I presume there are therapists in the organization, many of whom work with and specialize in male issues of domestic violence, anger management and similar things. This has me thinking in a number of ways.

    First, I believe that there is some distinction to be made between different organizations, largely based on their economic model. Scientology is clearly at one end of the cynical religious/financial continuum, with Alcoholics Anonymous at the other and the Roman Catholic (One True) or Mormon church somewhere between. That therapist is a member of such an organization is, I think, a matter of personal choice and should probably never enter into the therapeutic relationship, except as part of the client’s natural probing and establishment of safety (which all therapists are trained to deflect).

    As a therapist, my understanding of the APA ethical guidelines is that treatment should be based on “scientific” grounds, which include fairly open and peer-reviewed techniques. I know of folks who have left conventional counseling to focus on “body work” or “intuitive” counseling because they had decided that these were better paths, usually at a financial cost and personal, spiritual benefit. If one presents oneself as a credentialed, scientifically-informed provider, one has an ethical obligation to remain so clearly and cleanly.

    The basic issue, then, is informed consent and accordance with established professional protocols. Pimping clear and stupid pseudo-scientific crap to family members is very different than using one’s professional trust to encourage others toward non-professional treatments, or of mistaking one’s (more or less legitimate) professional training with one’s (more or less delusional) beliefs. A confusion between these two realms is an unfortunate byproduct of our financial system and the way science legitimizes everything, such as people may graduate from a “Christian college” and then get jobs as biology teachers, where they refuse to discuss or misrepresent evolution. As near as I can tell it has always been thus (varying only by degrees) between the “harder” social scientist and the “softer.”

    The issue is the therapists own ability and insight into their position, which is why (from the beginning) psychotherapy was required for all psychiatrists, no? It is hard sometimes to distinguish one’s own shit from the client’s, and anyone so stupid as to fall for Scientology and similar pseudo-science should probably have never been credentialed in the first place.

    Then again, I am a strong skeptic and secularist in such matters. And an asshole.

    Pray over your scalpel before surgery if you wish, but sharpen the fucker, and stay current on the literature.

  2. There is also the fact that according to the definitions of cult, there are populations in every organized religion who are cult-like, and you wouldn’t necessarily know from a conversation what kind of member in the organization a person is. So there is the more basic fact that lots of therapists are weirdos and clients need to figure out more importantly if their therapist is a weirdo, and in what way, and whether that will affect the relationship. My therapist is a rabid Red Sox fan (and has been for many decades). I don’t get it, my therapist knows it, but it doesn’t interfere with the relationship — though occasionally she is sleepy the morning after a long game. And she may secretly feel sorry for me that I haven’t seen the light. That possibility doesn’t bother me.

    Tangentially, the idea that all therapists would be trained to deflect natural probing and establishment of safety I find extremely disturbing. That would mean that therapists who might be weirdos are given tools to disguise that fact from the client? What a strange industry.

    Then again I am disturbed (for other reasons) by the idea of using the phrase “All therapists” at all. There is no such thing as anything that is true of All therapists (ok maybe that they at one point experienced something, but it doesn’t indicate anything about how they assimilated it). I mean, aren’t they people?

  3. And in fact, personal disclosure is not at all the same across therapists. Traditional psychoanalysts are trained to deflect all probing, and to maintain strict boundaries, but most therapists operate from a more eclectic model, and personally, I can say that I sometimes disclose parts of my life (being Jewish, for example) and sometimes I don’t. It depends on the client, and there would always have to be a good clinical reason.

  4. My bad. Awkward construction. While many clients may probe to establish position and safety, I presume that therapists make a case-by-case decision as to whether to deflect those questions or not, based on personal style and judgement. I am trained to do a lot of things I may or may not do, and I’m sure that some clients are so narcissistic as to have no interest whatsoever in their counselor.

    But then everyone obviously knows that all gross generalizations are always wrong, right? 8^)

  5. My bad. Awkward construction. While many clients may probe to establish position and safety, I presume that therapists make a case-by-case decision as to whether to deflect those questions or not, based on personal style and judgement. I am trained to do a lot of things I may or may not do, and I’m sure that some clients are so narcissistic as to have no interest whatsoever in their counselor.

    But then everyone obviously knows that all gross generalizations are always wrong, right? 8^)

  6. Scientology is just good clean fun!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: