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In and Out of Scientology

By Peter Forde

1. Joining and involvement

A long time ago in my childhood, I became very distressed. A concerned schoolteacher did many hours of counselling to unburden me, and that counselling was effective. The teacher would not name this counselling technique, but hinted at hypnosis and got frustrated when I didn't recall prenatal or past life traumas. I saw a Dianetics handbook on his bookshelf but he advised me not to read it. I later saw some Scientology books and bulletins in his cupboard, but he forbade me to read them and locked them away again. He was visiting Saint Hill at the time that Hubbard was there.

A decade or so later, now a young man, I approached a man in the street who was holding a clipboard, asking what he was doing. He invited me to go to such-and-such a building where I could take a free personality test, and in a spirit of adventure I did so. Once done, and the evaluation given on the test, a copy of the Dianetics book was offered for sale, along with a recommended Communication Course. I realised that these people were involved in that effective counselling I'd had, and promptly bought book and course. They were interesting and somewhat fun, but I became suspicious about finances and the organisation, couldn't get my questions answered satisfactorily, and left.

That was in 1978, two years later a good friend committed suicide following divorce by his wife. I had seen trouble coming, others had urged me frantically to do something for him, but I fumbled and fudged. Upon hearing the desolate news of his death I resolved to become acquainted with this therapy skill at least sufficiently to be able to do psychological first aid, and approached the Scientology organisation again with this end in mind.

They had me do the Communication Course again, and as soon as done, while I was blissed out, pulled me onto staff. This was not truly my choice, and it didn't work out since I was expected to work long hours for no pay, live on welfare, and suffer my own projects to be badly disrupted.

I left again, without breaking off entirely. I still had it in mind to do training, and over the next 2 years the organisation allowed me to fulfil this objective. I did every cheapish course I could lay hands on relating to Dianetics, and clocked up about 200 hours in the counsellor's chair, and received another 60 hours approximately of Dianetics for myself.

This was an unusual thing to happen, since the Scientology attitude to un-metered Dianetics is that it is obsolete and useful only to educate newcomers into Hubbard's model of mind-functioning. I thus became something of an expert.

In early 1983 I moved down to East Grinstead area, intending to make my way as a self-employed window cleaner and in leisurely fashion make contact with the UK headquarters of Scientology. Was very curious to see how a better-established organisation behaved, since Manchester organisation looked in a perpetual flap. I had reckoned without their skilful and insistent selling, and before I knew it had signed a BILLION YEAR contract and enrolled for the Sea Organisation!

The Sea Organisation is Scientology's equivalent of a civil service, modelled after the United States Navy with naval uniforms, naval ranks, and military discipline. After 3 months of basic training, I was put into Division 2 of Advanced Organisation Saint Hill, and quickly found myself in charge of several typists and the letter-writing section of the organisation. Now I could examine at leisure how a better-established organisation functioned, and quickly decided that the state of perpetual flap is deliberate, and conditions of work and pay deplorable.

I hadn't gone into the organisation completely blind: was aware that I might get my thinking too far shut down, thus I made some guarding mental bear traps to catch Scientology out, and resolved to leave if any of these were triggered. They were

  1. If I ever caught Hubbard lying or doing wrong things he noisily claimed others were doing, I would leave.
  2. If Scientology went against its promises, and, for example used counselling procedures for its own gain and not mine, then I would leave.
  3. If Scientology were to seek out and try to remove my mental bear traps, I must leave before they could try.

About 5 months into my Sea Organisation service, all three bear traps got triggered:

There was plenty to encourage me to leave in 1983: the introduction of the "Finance Police", "Finance Dictator" and other fascistic sounding and looking people. The prices skyrocketed from 60 British pounds per hour to over 120, to 160 per hour, plus VAT of course. By contrast the Sea Organisation crew were getting dormitory accommodation, plus average 3-4 pounds per week pocket money, out of which we were supposed to buy our uniforms and books. Staff got no holiday pay, no National Insurance or pension contributions credited, and any training and counselling whilst on staff was billed such as to be payable if they left (not legally enforceable though, it would be peony if it were). Additionally, I was seeing old staff turfed out onto the street, to eke out their remaining days alone and on state welfare.

In a state of great confusion I sneaked away, came back again 2 weeks later and suffered several days on their brainwashing "Rehabilitation Project Force" or RPF, then left again, this time for good. It makes me laugh how, much later on when Scientology published a Suppressive Person declare on me, they peevishly grumbled how I kept on leaving! I came back again to pick up personal effects, and cheerfully chat still with organisation staff.

For those who wonder about the RPF being tantamount to brainwashing, how about sleep deprivation with 6 hours maximum allowed, allowed to speak with only 1 person at all (the MAA), 15 minute meal break maximums eating left-over food, usually just rice or potatoes. Work was petty and grinding; chipping the crust off cooker parts or painting stones. The attitude was that you are WRONG, and you must obey all orders instantly and without question. Counselling was confessionals, rehab work was guilt trips, and success stories were required that state how good this all is!

2. Leaving and disinvolvement

This is where the hard part started, and leaving and getting mentally disentangled proved far more difficult than anticipated in the early days of my contact with this cult. At time of leaving I thought reasonably well of staff, and had squarely placed Scientology's wrongdoings to Hubbard's orders and policies. Thus I fought to break his conditioning. Am saddened that most ex-members blame Scientologists for the cult's wrongdoings, hold Hubbard in reverence, and continue on in the splinter groups.

My deconditioning went in stages:

My 5 months introverted stage was deliberately manufactured by Ron Hubbard the cult founder. He obviously intended to inhibit leaving, and damned all who did so by asserting that people leave only by virtue of their own sins against Scientology. So there I went wondering what I had done wrong, and was very introverted and restless. It would have been virtually impossible for me to hold down any job or shared accommodation in this state, and there was aneed to go into a sort of social quarantine. This stage ended when I plucked up courage to meet the dissidents of Scientology, when I discovered to my delight that we are decent people, not bogeymen, and share the same experiences. Once contact with dissidents was made, Scientology lost administrative influence over me.

6th month to 30th month. I did that Sussex window cleaning round, and very pleasant it was too. It also served for social quarantine whilst I sought out counselling, printed the Reconnection" magazine for ex-Scientologists, and looked in on the research effort to find out the background of Hubbard and his organisation. I did some useful research for myself, by investigating for aspects of hypnosis that Hubbard had concealed.

30th month, February 1986. I found out about altered states of consciousness, including the significance of "Present Time", and with a grasp of Coue's "laws" and observations, it became possible to scan my decision points within Scientology and knock out the hypnotic controls. Coue's "laws" and Observations helped spot the coercive tactics and what was happening, and simply finding my moments of decision along with the coercion, undid the hypnotic influence. The process took about 10 minutes, and by the end of this short session I was quite dramatically freed.

By July 1986 I was in poor morale because feeling trapped in the window cleaning job, unable to do Open University studies for lack of space to keep their kit. An accident forced my abandonment of the round and moving to Manchester. For a year or so I was terrified about telling people about Scientology, feeling stigmatized for having been involved. In job interviews I overcompensated and unknowingly gave employers the impression I was trying to convert them. Eventually one employer got some feedback to me, and I started to relax since they evidently know nothing about this mind-bending money pump.

1995, twelve years after leaving, and I finally plucked up courage to do a counselling course and discover ordinary psychology. Highly useful for my rehabilitation.

Scientology's "channelling" has done me a lot of harm.

3. Miscellaneous notes

The main thing that bothered me about this cult wasn't having my will bound up, because that appeared to be still under my control. It was my wantingness to look and relate to things outside of Scientology. Scientology had well and truly caught my imagination. Even after leaving, even after breaking the conditioning, I remained unwilling to study psychology courses; was too frightened of severe internal conflicts, although could read books informally. Yet prior to joining this cult I had had what can best be described as a scientific attitude to life: testing everything I heard or was told.

There seemed to be a combination of factors involved in this blinkered vision:

What helped in any thinking to look outside were:

As one who had gone in to learn psychological first-aid it took me many years to look outside of Dianetics, then be willing to take a hard look back at Dianetics. Am alarmed to discover that "Dub-in" (unknowingly invented recalls) is encouraged from the start in Dianetics. In those passages where Hubbard qualified the tendency to run "dub-in" as any liability (which he had to do to be credible), he deflected odium to the alternative terms "lie-factory" or "garbage". The whole distinction and emphasis of Dianetics compared to contemporary hypnotherapies involves exaggerating the importance of chains of memories and image pictures, and past lives, which thereby facilitate "recalling" imagination. This quite explicitly prepares the way for later materials, meaning Hubbard's invented engrams and demonology.

In a 1952 lecture [5203C04B, 1952 Phoenix lecture 2101], re-recorded in 1973 on-board the Apollo, Hubbard makes some startling admissions.. Hes "trying to tell you a fairy tale": his typewriter "put years and millions of words worth lots on top of this..": "all sorts of strange things happen when you get near this incident because its full of lies": he runs dub-in: he "invented Dianetics" with an intention as he went into it that "was something quite beyond": the people doing this (OT3) "are going to be undone": and other profound admissions.

The OT3 trauma is provenly fictitious, (see my paper "A Scientific Scrutiny of OT3" which gives a closely referenced geological scrutiny), and yet Hubbard's "standard tech" condemns people as liars if they don't run Dianetics on his garbage as if it were truth revealed.

Nowadays if I find a person in distress I might conceivably sit them down and have them abreact in hypnotic regression, plainly describing what I'm doing as hypnosis, and relating it to Freud, Brown and behavioural psychology. However, such counselling would not be done with any eagerness. Am too much aware of the dangers of false memories and dependency to like such counselling. I don't keep Hubbard books on my shelves. Counselling that I normally give is non-hypnotic and relates the person to their environment and their chosen way of life.

Peter Forde


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