From the Scientology Handbook


When a person has committed an overt act and then withholds it, he or she usually employs the social mechanism of justification. By “justification” we mean explaining how an overt act was not really an overt act.


We have all heard people attempt to justify their actions and all of us have known instinctively that justification amounted to a confession of guilt. But not until now have we understood the exact mechanism behind justification.

Short of applying Scientology procedures, there was no means by which a person could relieve himself of consciousness of having done an overt act, except to try to lessen the overt.

Some churches and other groups have used confession in an effort to relieve a person of the pressure of his overt acts. However, lacking a full understanding of all the mechanisms at play, it has had limited workability. For a confession to be truly effective, revelation of one’s wrongdoing must be accompanied by a full acceptance of responsibility. All overt acts are the product of irresponsibility in some area or aspect of life.

Withholds are a sort of overt act in themselves but have a different source. Scientology has proven conclusively that man is basically good – a fact which flies in the teeth of older beliefs that man is basically evil. Man is good to such an extent that when he realizes he is being very dangerous and in error he seeks to minimize his power and if that doesn’t work and he still finds himself committing overt acts he then seeks to dispose of himself either by leaving or by getting caught and executed. Without this computation, police would be powerless to detect crime-the criminal always assists himself to be caught. Why police punish the caught criminal is the mystery. He wants to be rendered less harmful to the society and wants rehabilitation. Well, if this is true then why does he not unburden himself? The fact is this: unburdening is considered by him to be an overt act.

People withhold overt acts because they conceive that telling them would be another overt act. It is as though people were trying to absorb and hold out of sight all the evil of the world. This is wrong-headed. By withholding overt acts, these are kept afloat and are themselves, as withholds, entirely the cause of continued evil.

In view of these mechanisms, when the burden became too great, man was driven to another mechanism-the effort to lessen the size and pressure of the overt. He or she could only do this by attempting to reduce the size and repute of the person against whom the overt was committed. Hence, when a man or a woman has done an overt act, there usually follows an effort to reduce the goodness or importance of the target of the overt. Hence, the husband who betrays his wife must then state that the wife was no good in some way. Thus, the wife who betrayed her husband had to reduce the husband to reduce the overt. In this light, most criticism is justification of having done an overt.

This does not say that all things are right and that no criticism anywhere is ever merited. Man is not happy. And the overt act mechanism is simply a sordid “game” man has slipped into without knowing where he was going. So there are rightnesses and wrongnesses in conduct and society and life at large, but random, nagging criticism when not borne out in fact is only an effort to reduce the size of the target of the overt so that one can live (he hopes) with the overt. Of course, to criticize unjustly and lower repute is itself an overt act and so this mechanism is not in fact workable.

 This is a downward spiral. One commits overt acts unwittingly. He then seeks to justify them by finding fault or displacing blame. This leads him into further overts against the same people which leads to degradation of himself and sometimes those people.

 Society is set up to punish most transgressions in one way or another. Punishment is just another worsening of the overt sequence and degrades the punisher. But people who are guilty of overts demand punishment. They use it to help restrain themselves from (they hope) further transgressions. It is the victim who demands punishment and it is a wrongheaded society that awards it. People get right down and beg to be executed. And when you don’t oblige, the woman scorned is sweet tempered by comparison.

 When you hear scathing and brutal criticism of someone which sounds just a bit strained, know that you have your eye on overts against that criticized person.

 We have our hands here on the mechanism that makes this a crazy universe. Knowing the mechanism, it is possible to derive an effective handling to defuse it. There are further ramifications of it, however, which should be understood first.

L. Ron Hubbard

Also see the page: What Makes Scientology Critics.

Also see the Church of Scientology of Canberra here if you are interested in more.

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