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Overt Acts and Withholds


When someone does something harmful that goes against a moral code they have agreed to, this is what is called an overt act or, more simply, an overt.

This is any harmful action that a person has done against himself, his family, his group, any other living thing or objects or property.

An overt is something a person has done that he wouldn’t want to have happen to him.

An overt can be done on purpose or by accident.

Overts do not have to be large. Something as simple as showing up late or not doing a professional job at work is an overt. Overts can also include damaging equipment, hiding things from one’s boss, taking illegal drugs, drinking while driving or otherwise breaking the law.

An overt is also something someone didn’t do that he should have done.

For example, seeing a child about to hit a younger child and not stopping it or doing something about it, but instead walking the other way, would be an overt act.

So an overt act is not just injuring someone or something. An overt act is doing something (an act of commission) or not doing something (an act of omission) that does the least good for the least number of people or areas of life or the most harm to the greatest number of people or areas of life. This would include a person’s family, group or team and Mankind as a whole.

Many people think that any destructive action is an overt simply because it is destructive. To them, all destructive actions or omissions are overt acts. This is not true. Not destroying something can be an overt act. For example, a poisonous snake that is about to bite a small child should be harmed in order to save the child. Assistance to a harmful or destructive activity or thing can also be an overt act, such as helping robbers to get away from the police.

A beneficial act is something that helps broadly. It can be a beneficial act to harm something that would be harmful to many people and areas of life.

The idea of not harming anything and helping everything are both rather mad. Helping people who make slaves of others would not be considered a beneficial action and therefore would be an overt act. But destroying a disease would be beneficial and therefore not an overt.


An overt that a person has done but isn’t talking about or hasn’t told anyone is called a withhold. A withhold always comes after an overt.

For example, a woman who steals money from her employer has committed an overt. She then doesn’t tell anyone about it, which makes it a withhold.

By withholding an overt, something interesting occurs with people: they stop communicating to the person or things they have harmed and end up withdrawing (moving away or pulling back) from areas where they used to be active.

In Scientology, there are now tools to resolve the problems presented by overts and withholds, enabling people to again feel part of a group and to restore the trust and friendship of others.

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