International Viewpoints (IVy), Issue 35 - January 1998

Letter to the editor

Overts, Withholds, Mws

Dear Ant,

IN IVy 33, P. 35, LOOKING for a simple definition of O/W; you defined overt as "bad things done," and a withhold as "good things withheld." You then received some disagreements on this definition, and requested an article. (These came from Judith Anderson, who helps by searching out mistakes in most of IVy before it goes to press, and Russell Stockdale, an Australian subscriber on the Internet "list" IVy-subscribers. Ed.)

First, the ordinary English definitions:

Overt: adjective; open to view, public. Using the legal defn. of a "overt act," Hubbard converted this to an noun.

Withhold: verb, to hold back, to check, restrain. To refrain from granting. To refrain from acting. As a noun, a restrained action.

And related to the above; Motivator: that which serves as a stimulus to action.

Still trying to keep your definition as simple as possible; an overt-withhold (OW) can be defined as: a bad thing done or a good thing left undone (the overt); followed by a concealment of this out of guilt and fear of punishment (the withhold).

A related phenomena, the missed withhold, is something another person has done which makes you wonder if they know something bad about you. I saw this manifest as a sly flinch in a student, when I was telling him about how someone had been restricted from a local store for shop-lifting. He then admitted that this had happened to him, and I helped him get his privileges back.

All of these things become important when you have a group working together towards a common goal; since a concealed bad action by a member of that group will gradually alienate him from it and reduce his contributions to it.

Groups have traditionally used two different methods to handle the harmful actions of a person towards others or the group: 1. Police investigation, trial and punishment, or 2. Religious confession and absolution.

Hubbard's goal was to erase both the overt-withhold and overt-motivator mechanisms.

There is a lot more in the Tech Vols; but perhaps the best overall summary is in The Volunteer Minister's Handbook under "The Integrity Pack."

Also included in the Handbook is the overt-motivator pair. A motivator is a harmful act received, which can then be used to justify an overt.

An example is: "Johnny hit me first!" In its worst form, the overt-motivator sequence can result in a long-term feud with no end to trying to "get even."


Hubbard's first three technical definitions are given in the Board tech Bull 13 May 1975, the Integrity Processing Series 1R, as:

Overt -- A harmful or contra-survival act. Precisely, it is an act of commission or omission that harms the greater number of dynamics.

Withhold -- An undisclosed contra-survival act; a no action after the fact of action, in which the individual has done or been an accessory to doing something which is a transgression against some moral or ethical code consisting of agreements to which the individual has subscribed in order to guarantee, with others, the survival of a group with which he is co-acting or has co-acted towards survival.

Missed withhold -- An undisclosed contra-survival act which has been restimulated by another but not disclosed. This is a withhold which another person nearly found out about, leaving the person with the withhold in a state of wondering whether his hidden deed is known or not.

Motivator -- An aggressive or destructive act received by the person...It is called a motivator because it tends to prompt that one pays it back -- it "motivates" a new overt. (HCOB 20 May 68). Tech Dict 72, p.258.

These last four technical definitions are attempts to be very exact, but need examples provided by the reader.

Best wishes, Frank Gordon, USA