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!

8 thoughts on “Punishment

  1. Great article. My kids have never been punished. That’s really such a mean thing when you think about it…punishing. It upsets the giver and receiver. It takes cause away from both.

  2. Crazy use of punishment just restims people and doesn’t bring about a good change. There does have to be good ethics presence to put pressure on the reacitve mind so it doesn’t go out of control though and some penalty so the person thinks twice about commiting an overt-all of this can still be done with ARC and with the intention to help.

  3. Great views expressed here, all round! Here is a story, which encompasses just so much, that it is difficult to adequately describe the elements involved, to make any sense of it all
    We in Durban, South Africa are still reeling from the aftermath of a horrific motor accident, filmed by an on board camera of a man and his wife, just returning home after buying a take-out meal for the family. Briefly, they were at a busy intersection just behind a mini-bus taxi, awaiting for the green light, during peak hour traffic. Their
    adjoining lanes were all backed up as well.
    Light changed to green, and traffic ahead started to pull away. Suddenly, without any warning, a massive white blur appeared from the right, and just instantly ‘vaporized’ ( for want of a better word)
    the four vehicles just entering ahead in the camera view. The middle of the intersection had cleared, instantly, of traffic!

    It was like watching David Copperfield doing his disappearing Boeing trick on stage, only there was no illusion about this unfolding tragedy.

    Long story shortened, a heavily laden, (UNLICENSED)18-wheeler truck had come down “Fields Hill” a notorious accident zone, with brake failure imminent, then actual, and careered out of control, veered off the freeway and down the off ramp, and wiped out all MEST and life in its path at the intersection.

    By the time the dust had settled, there were 22 killed instantly, and another 20 or so who had miraculously survived with some critically injured.

    The truck driver, a 23 year old, was arrested on the scene, and charged with 22 counts of murder. He is still awaiting bail.

    One sees and feels for the losses of the bereaved, but also for the hapless young driver, a migrant from another province, who happens to be one of those exploited by a ruthless trucking operator, with no scruples or sense of responsibility, who has now abandoned the youngster to fend for himself. The authorities have also found the above whipping boy to lay all their own frustrations upon and see fit to see that –“the accused is severely punished to the full extent of the law.”

    To my mind, where necessary, only criminals of an evil nature, deserve “punishment” — not the victims.

    View the footage on You Tube and decide for yourself. “Horrific crash at Pinetown, KZN, 5 September 2013”

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