Scientology: Suppressive People (SPs)

One of the controversial ideas from those on the outside, is the Church of Scientology’s stand on SP’s (Suppressive People.)

I too have issue with it and yet I find partial value in the belief.

Suppressive People and the Ups and Downs

When I was in Scientology, early on I took a course on the Ups and Downs of life.  It was explained there in that literature that the failure of someone (to go from a high to a low) was due solely on the influence of another.  This other was a Suppressive Person (SP.)  Often these individuals would appear as close friends or relatives, but in reality they are destroying us mentally.

An example of a SP would be a woman’s husband… she comes up excited that she passed a test on a course she’s taking and her husband laughs, “Great, how much did that cost me to pay for? What are you going to do with a degree anyway? You’ll never hold a job.”

It’s cruel, and an example of suppression.  By telling his wife this he destroys her dreams and under the right conditions she can accept it and start to slowly give up.  Her grades might drop.  But then perhaps she is away from the influence for some time and her grades pick up again… then he reappears in her life and her grades drop.

Scientology and Dealing with SP’s

Scientology teaches people early on to spot SP’s.  There’s a reason this comes up early on… As I mentioned in some other posts, when I first started being a Scientologist I got nothing but attack.  I’ve been many religions and sometimes one or two people would judge me unfairly, but being  a Scientologist invited so much attack.

In Scientology, the way to deal with a SP can be by confronting them.  You spot them, you identify them, you confront them.  Scientology isn’t about avoidance.  You are typically inspired to confront a problem.  In rare occasions you are allowed to “disconnect” from a SP.

I say rare because it is rare.  I tried to invoke a disconnect on someone and my local Mission told me not to do so, they felt I should confront them before jumping to this degree of a response.  A disconnect is a completely severing of ties with the other.  It’s quite severe.

An example of confronting an SP, might be the woman in the example who’s husband ridicules her for going to college… she might respond with the proper toned response, “I am doing this for us.  I want us to get out of the problems we have. It helps me be more productive and I need your support here.”

If the husband is physically abusive, perhaps she is better off disconnecting.


The act of disconnecting is controversial… obviously the disconnected party will feel offended and counter attack in social media.  This can turn into, “Only cults make you cut off your family and friends.”

Reality though is that many religions (including Christianity) have historically had methods of removing unwanted people from the congregation (ex-communication.)

When I was in Scientology I tried to exercise a disconnect on my wife’s uncle… who was verbally abusive to my wife.  I was told to not disconnect but instead to confront.  I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience, my advisers in Scientology were not flippant about disconnects.

Theology of Suppressive People

Where I differ from the church is their view of eternal, one sided black/white thinking on suppressive people.

When I was involved with Scientology, my auditor’s mother died.  It was sad… I asked him about it when he returned to work and he said, “Well she was a SP anyway…”  I could see it affected him emotionally but he wrote her off as a SP.

Perhaps she was an SP, but I was curious… how does this fit in with Eternal Life and Reincarnation?  I probed gently and asked though what his view was on his mother… perhaps she could return and work through her issues…

He gave me a funny look of confusion… he told me, “She’s a SP…” He explained that once an SP – always an SP.  Not even a rebirth would change that.  It’s like saying someone is eternally evil.

I don’t believe in that type of thinking.  This non redeemable human, is beyond every religion I ever studied.  In Christianity, no matter how bad, one can return to God. In Hinduism the same is true. In Buddhism, one can turn their life around at any moment and reach total enlightenment.

He took my concerns to the Director of the mission and she spoke with me privately about it.  She told me that there’s a secret further along the path in Scientology… that SP’s are redeemed and dealt with.  But it wasn’t disclosed to me, how this would occur.

Buddhism Vs. Scientology on Suppressive People

I’d like to compare Buddhism’s point of view here with that of Scientology.

Buddhism has different flavors, but there is a set of core principals that are agreed upon.  One is the principal of karma and the other of emptiness.  Karma and Emptiness are two complimentary factors that shape our reality.

Karma is of course the return for any action.

Emptiness is the lack of “self existence.”

Self Existence in Buddhism

In Buddhism, nothing exists 100% from it’s “own side” (as my Lama used to say.)  We provide part of the existence.  For example, take a president of the United States.  Some will love this president as their hero and others will despise them as their enemy.  In Buddhism they would ask, “how can two groups see the same person so differently?”

Buddhism suggests that a person doesn’t exist one way or another 100%.  We have the karma to see a president one way or another.  We have the karma to see a society one way or another.  We even have the karma to interact negatively or positively to others.

Our actions do not just return to us, they color and shape our reality as it is right now and as it will be in the next moment.

That means, no one is so evil that they can’t be redeemed.  Even the Buddha, so it goes, was a killer in one lifetime.

As the Buddhist philosophy goes… “We have each been each others killers, torturers, lovers, sons, daughters and mothers.” If we have been all of it, let us choose to see others (even our enemies) as our past loved ones.

You see, in Buddhism (and other systems of belief) the only way to stop a problem’s cycle is not with just confronting it… but also in the negating of the power of it (through forgiveness.)

The Cycle of Suffering

Scientology’s response to the SP, is what people have done for millions of years – isolate the enemy.  The problem (as the Tao Te Ching would say) is thinking the word “Enemy,” to begin with.

If you simply confront and attack the SP… what do you gain?  You stop them right here…. what happens in the future?  Does your attack return to you? Does your disdain return to you?  Without love and compassion, I believe one will simply create more enemies (SP’s) to fight.

What’s the Answer?

It’s up to you, the reader… I think it is very useful to spot people who are destroying your life.  If you can spot them, you can deal with them… and Scientology is very true, they are all around us and they are always at work.

HOWEVER, I think it’s wrong to suggest that the reason why one person is going through “Ups and Downs” is due solely to some other person… after all, they have the karma to have the SP in their life to begin with!  That means we all have these attributes.

The real reason someone is talking about us behind our backs, or being negative to us… is because (hold on to your hats) we’re like that too at times!  Even Hubbard did this, in response to psychologists snubbing Dianetics.  He labeled an entire group (Psychologists and Therapists) evil.  They in return went open season on the Church of Scientology.  This wicked game of attack will never end, until one drops it and walks away.

By all means, spot the SP’s in your life… but also spot the SP in the mirror… working on ourselves is the only way to truly end the problem… after all we created the world in which SP’s exist.


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