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Laenstidningen, 6 February 1999
Laenstidningen February 6, 1999 [front page story and two full pages inside]:
I got brainwashed
Carina Persson thought she had found her dream job. But the work as sales representative at the hiring company U-man was turning into a nightmare.
- Afterwards, I realized how I was manipulated and brainwashed. If my friends had not acted I would probably still be trapped, she says.
Today she runs a fashion store and makes her own designs, but the ambitious 30- year old small business owner carries painful memories from her time as salesperson at U-man three years ago. During the four months she worked there, she came very close to devoting her life to the scientology cult.
- It feels as if that period doesn't belong to real life. It was like living in another world, says Carina.
She dreamed of becoming her own in clothes design, but felt she needed more knowledge about selling and marketing, when she saw the ad for a position as salesperson at U-man. She got impressed by the fancy office and the enthusiastic people, and worked very hard to get the job.
Already on the first day she was given a book by L. Ron Hubbard to read.
- I had never heard about scientology and was fascinated.
About 30 people worked at U-man, and all but 5 were dedicated scientologists. Soon she got to do a communication course that was sold to key staff of companies, but is also very similar to the course offered by the Church of Scientology.
It was a one-week intensive course of mental yoga-like exerciseses [TR course explained].
Carina got a big kick out of the course, and involved herself totally in the job.
- I noticed the change in myself. I looked as if no sorrows existed, like a robot who only wanted to keep walking forward. And I guess that's why business executives were so positive to the course, that's the kind of sales people they want.
Then she was offered to try some auditing, a hypnosis-like therapy using a kind of lie detector, the E-meter. The purpose is to get rid of negative emotional memories so that you can act rationally.
The "Life Repair" auditing that she was offered normally costs 25,000 SEK ($3000) but as a U-man employee she would get it for free by a well-known scientologist in Stockholm. He got her to talk about the pain she had felt when a friend committed suicide. Afterwards she felt relief.
- In my hightened mental level I felt crystal clear. But druggies also say they feel crystal clear when they are high, she says solemnly.
She stresses that she was never forced to do the courses. But while Carina saw everything as extremely positive, people around her started to worry. Her then boyfriend thought her eyes were unaturally shiny, and one day asked her straight out if she had started to take drugs.
Then one of Carina's bosses asked if she wanted to go to a scientology convent in Denmark, and she got her trip paid. It was a very strong experience, and she was talked into devoting her life to scientology.
The turning point came when she returned home. Her boyfriend locked the door and got her to promise to stay home from work one day and talk to a deprogrammer, somebody who could tell her facts about scientology. She spoke to him on the phone for three hours, but thought about running back to the scientologists.
But then a friend called, and desperately started to read excerpts of the secret writings and creation myth of scientology [Xenu story follows]. Ordinary scientologists are not allowed to read it until they have reached a high level within the movement.
- I think it was her fear that finally got through to me. It was as if something snapped in my head - and I returned to the real world.
When she realized what she had almost gotten into, Carina felt extremely bad for a while. She was very much afraid of what scientologists might do to her, and also felt ashamed about letting herself be fooled.
Today life has returned to normal. Carina has chosen to actively warn against the methods used by U-man, where they avoid telling about the links to scientology. Because of this, scientology has branded her a suppressive person, one of the 2.5 percent of the population who scientology claim are intentionally evil.
- They are clever, but the scientology movement is anti-democratic and fascistic and has to be stopped.
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