By Lana Mitchell
Have you noticed punishment does not work?
A young puppy, not yet house-trained, tries to find a suitable place to take a dump, and chooses behind the couch. When it is found, several hours later, his nose is rubbed in it, he is shouted out and smacked – but that does not stop the puppy doing the same thing just a few days later.
A child on a supermarket trip with his mother is told he cannot have a highly desired small toy, so he quietly pockets it and gets it home without being noticed. At a later stage this is found and the toy is taken, he is yelled at, gets a good wack on the backside, and receives no desert for a week – yet just a month later, his hand pockets another small item that he is told he cannot have.
An auditor flubs a command, gets flustered and then calls a floating needle that was not really one. After session a senior executive who was watching in on the video system punishes the auditor by removing him from post, putting him onto MEST work, and forcing him to do lower conditions up through Liability till he is accepted back by the senior executive personally. Is the auditor now a better auditor that no longer flubs and mis-calls FNs? No of course not. In fact, give him a few months or years and he removes himself from auditing lines completely.
I have really learnt in recent times the LRH datum “If a fellow can’t confront an overt that he has done, it of course, has to go on automatic. So he’ll do it again! And then doing it again, he can’t confront it – doubly can’t confront it, you see – so he’ll do it again. And now he has done it three times, you see, and he didn’t confront any part of it, why, he’ll of course, do it a fourth time.” LRH lecture 3 January 1960 YOUR CASE
In handling my kids, and working across my dynamics, I have been working to break the overt cycle. Instead of punishing someone for some action deemed to be bad or wrong, I work to help him confront areas, and recover his responsibility — thus rehabilitating his ability to make choices.
Let me give you an example. My oldest wakes up in the morning and is routinely in complete antagonism. Grumpy is an understatement. Regularly he is rude, sullen and nasty.
Now I don’t know the cause of this – and suspect it has to do with a young body running out of fuel overnight. I find that is I get food into his tummy ASAP then the sunshine comes out and the grumps are gone – but there is still the point of the outright rudeness and nastiness that can occur in that first 5 – 10 minutes of him waking.
Rather than reinforce his behaviour with punishment, making it a continued non-confront, I work to get him to look at it, to describe how he feels and to get him to see that his mad mood gives him no right to upset and be nasty to others. The action is working and we are seeing fewer and fewer grumpy mornings, regardless of lack of food. It is a work in progress, but it does seem that the more I work to get him to take responsibility for his own actions, the better the outcome.
As an auditor I have found that if I don’t apply this datum fully then I lose the preclear. Sometimes a preclear lashes out, says things they later regret, or simply gets upset about something – and if they are not fully assisted to tackle that ARCX or handle the evil purpose or whatever it might be, then the overt is repeated, and repeated and then they are gone. Assisting someone to be able to look at and confront something, and thus rehabilitate their own responsibility, is a skill that I am thrilled to now have.
I wish I had had it years ago, as a Sea Org member – but I was inside a system that was itself operating on the punishment level. I look back at my own history in the Church, and see for myself personally that the number of times I was punished for deemed outnesses and actions (most of which I did not understand) did not result in the improvement of my own self determinism and responsibility and control. Instead the punishment just became one more cycle in a never-ending cycle of post removals and ethics cycles.
My view these days is working with others, on my dynamics, to increase responsibility in myself and others.
Yes, a person can commit an overt knowingly or unknowingly – and my role is not to be some patronizing, self-righteous (other-wrongness), asshole who punishes people for their deemed overts and withholds – but instead someone who helps a person to regain their own self determinism by spotting and handling areas of non-confront, and bringing up their responsibility level on them.
And it even works on a puppy!