"And this is what ye have shipped for, men! to chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out. What say ye, men, will ye splice hands on it, now? I think ye do look brave."—Herman Melville
I am a former Scientologist. I have been trained to the level of the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course. I have received Dianetic and Scientology auditing. I have held various staff positions and have been a Sea Organization member.
I am publishing anonymously to avoid the retribution of the Church of Scientology International, the Office of Special Affairs and the Religious Technology Center. I have a family to consider. I will also be vague about geography and change names to avoid being recognized by those in Scientology who know me or are familiar with my background.
My story is not nearly as dramatic as those told by others, but I feel that it is worth telling nonetheless. Perhaps my experiences will strike a chord in someone who is struggling to understand the inconsistencies and contradictions that are so much a part of Dianetics and Scientology. Perhaps what I have learned can help someone else see their way clear of the lies and deceit that embody so many of Hubbard's teachings. There has been too much silence on the part of former members. We are the ones who should speak the loudest for we are the ones who have lived to tell the tale.
For be a man's intellectual superiority what it will, it can never assume the practical, available supremacy over other men, without the aid of some sort of external arts and entrenchments, always, in themselves, more or less paltry and base.—Herman Melville
Like Melville's Ishmael, I thought that I knew the purpose and destination of the voyage I had joined. Once I realized that the voyage was not what I expected I was too far from land to take my leave and too emotionally committed to mutiny.
I was 17 years old when I boarded the good ship Dianetics. Even with the benefit of sharper hindsight I do not see myself as possessing more than the typical amount of teenage angst or ennui. I do see that I lacked the education and experience to distinguish a mental pseudoscience from a valid psychotherapy. I was raised by a mother who, despite her faults never lied to me. I grew up assuming that people were basically honest and lied only when it was unavoidable. In short I was a gullible kid.
There was a childhood experience that affected my acceptance of Dianetic principles. At the age of 12 I discovered that I had a phobia of elevators. I was living with my mother in a small town in southern California. We had not been living there long but I had made a friend and he was showing me around my neighborhood. The elevator was in an office complex not far from the center of town. My new friend suggested that we ride the elevator and I agreed. I can still remember approaching the open door and finding myself unable to enter. I convinced my friend that riding the elevator was not a good idea and we left.
The fear I experienced bothered me. I could not imagine why I would be afraid to ride an elevator. I mentioned the incident to my mother. She listened with interest and told me that when I was about 5 years old I had become frightened in an elevator that we were riding when it lurched suddenly. I experienced a flash of remembrance as my mother related the incident. I recalled being in that elevator with her and being very frightened. I realized that that past fear related directly to the fear I had recently experienced. I visited the office complex soon after the conversation with my mother. It was no surprise to me that I had no fear of the elevator and I had a great time riding it all by myself. I would remember this experience 5 years later and draw some very incorrect conclusions.
By 1975 my mother had taken a new job and moved us to a medium-sized city. I was in my final year of high school. As is typical of many in their late teens I was in a quandary about my future. I had taken a college-preparatory curriculum throughout high school, but without a scholarship higher education did not seem likely.
There were other factors that added to my confusion about life. One factor was the belief that there was more to human existence than could be explained by biology. I can still recall seeing a film in school that showed two human brains being dissected. One was the brain of a healthy man killed in a car accident. The other brain had belonged to a long-time alcoholic. I remember that the healthy brain looked very similar to a fresh mushroom as it was sliced. The alcoholic's brain was dramatic. It oozed blood from numerous enlarged ventricles within the gray matter that had formed during his years of substance abuse. The estimate was that this man had lost more than 10% of his brain to alcohol.
What impressed me most was the idea that a human being could remain functional despite significant brain damage. It struck me that if my text books where true then any significant loss of gray matter would result in a loss of personality, memory and knowledge in direct proportion. This notion did not match my experience. My best friend's step father was a long-time alcoholic. When he was sober he was extremely personable and intelligent. He was an automatic transmission specialist and had a vast knowledge of engine mechanics. He helped my friend and I rebuild a V-8 engine from the block up and was never at a loss as to procedures, required tools, parts or operating theory. I became convinced that there was more to human existence than physical structure.
And if the idea of peril so much enhances the popular conceit of the soldier's profession; let me assure ye that many a veteran who has freely marched up to a battery, would quickly recoil at the apparition of the sperm whale's vast tail, fanning into eddies the air over his head. For what are the comprehensible terrors of man compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of God!—Herman Melville
I read Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health in 1975. I purchased the book from the local Scientology church after answering the 200-question Oxford Capacity Analysis (OCA). I do not recall the specifics of my OCA evaluation but I do recall being left with the strong impression that I needed to take action to correct the lower portions of my graph.
There was another factor that made the idea of a mental science attractive to me. Since my early teens I was plagued with a relatively rare sleep disorder. It is now referred to as sleep paralysis, but in the '70's it had no name. The symptoms of this disorder include physical sensations, auditory and visual anomalies and (for me) a good deal of fear. By age 17 my nocturnal episodes had increased to weekly occurrences. I did not discuss my experiences with anyone for fear of being considered crazy.
I remembered my previous fear of elevators as I read Dianetics. I was excited by the idea that I had "blown a lock" by recalling my earlier experience of fear in an elevator. It seemed as though Hubbard was on to something. I followed the advice I was given when I bought the book and looked up unfamiliar words in a dictionary. I read the entire book. I wanted to know more. I had noted that the book was first published in 1950. I was hoping that Hubbard and others had built a better bridge in the intervening 25 years. I suspected that the better bridge was complete and was now broadly available. I was excited by the prospects and hopeful that my sleep disorder could be alleviated.
I returned to the Scientology organization (org) where I had purchased Dianetics. The Public Division (Div. VI) staff was happy to answer my questions. They assured me that a better bridge had indeed been built and that the coveted state of Clear was being achieved almost daily across the world.
I was further intrigued when it was explained to me that Scientology came into being when it was discovered by Hubbard that there was a separate spiritual component to human existence. Hubbard and I concurred: there was more to human existence than mere biology!
I was invited to join staff and I accepted. I was still in school so I joined Foundation Org, working evenings and weekends in Div. VI. I was trained to do OCA test evaluations. I also did introductory lectures. I did Staff Status I and II which taught me how a productive organization was run as opposed to the miserable attempts of the wog1 world. I made friends with my fellow staff members. I saw them and myself as intelligent and dedicated to a group that was working to improve conditions across the planet.
I read other books by Hubbard. I read about past lives and missions into time. I listened to his lectures and found him confident, intelligent, humorous and informative. I believed him to be an honest and brave man because he was willing to chase the white whale of human misery as far and as long as required. He said that the work to free mankind of aberration and suppression would be long and hard and I knew he was right. I was determined to go the distance and I was damn proud to be a member of the group.
I, Ishmael, was one of that crew; my shouts had gone up with the rest; my oath had been welded with theirs; and stronger I shouted, and more did I hammer and clinch my oath, because of the dread in my soul. A wild, mystical, sympathetical feeling was in me; Ahab's quenchless feud seemed mine. With greedy ears I learned the history of that murderous monster against whom I and all the others had taken our oaths of violence and revenge.—Herman Melville
I had been on staff less than a year when a very special visitor came to town. His name was John and he was a member of the Sea Organization. John was on a recruitment tour for the American Saint Hill Organization (ASHO) located in Los Angeles, California. John and I hit it off immediately. He was in his 40's and had the air about him of a man on a mission. We talked about the Sea Org and the numerous adventures he'd had with the Commodore (L. Ron Hubbard). John stressed that the Sea Org was comprised of the most able and on-purpose Scientologists from across the world. They were Scientologists who had decided to be directly connected to Source (also L. Ron Hubbard) and to work with him to handle the 4th Dynamic2. It wasn't long before I had eagerly signed a one billion year contract.
John proved to be a very competent no-nonsense guy. In a matter of days I was cleared by the head of Div. VI to depart for LA.. I had planned on finishing my senior year in high school but John had decided that he wanted me in LA as soon as possible. He pointed out that a wog education was nothing compared to the training I would be receiving as a Sea Org member. And besides, we had a planet to clear.
My mother was surprisingly calm about my leaving. It was obvious that she wasn't happy about it but I was able to handle all her considerations. John had briefed me on how to explain where I was going and why. I told her "acceptable truths" about my new job in California. She reluctantly gave me her blessing to drop out of high school and do what I felt was best. Within a week of signing my Sea Org contract I was on a Greyhound bus to LA.
"Thinking is, or ought to be, a coolness and a calmness; and our poor hearts throb, and our poor brains beat too much for that."
I don't remember much about my bus ride except that I was eager to get to LA and begin my career. I was met at the Hollywood bus depot by a stern looking and quiet Sea Org fellow and driven directly to the Hollywood Inn. I can still see my berthing in my mind's eye—a shabby two-room suite that I shared with 4 other men. I settled in as best I could, knowing that I would be starting my Sea Org basic training the next day.
The next morning I was set about the task of completing my Life History form. It was long and required that I provide very intimate of details about myself. By the time I was finished the Sea Org new more about me than anyone on earth. The next step was a Security Check (Sec Check). This is an action done on the E-Meter and was the first "auditing" I had received. I don't remember all of the content but I do recall that I had to answer some embarrassing questions about my personal life. I learned what it meant to raise my confront and to overcome the Reactive Bank's3 mechanism that made it difficult to disclose certain information.
The Estates Project Force (EPF) is designed to teach a new recruit what the Sea Org is all about. It consists of course room training and physical labor on a variety of projects. At the time I did the EPF it included the 3rd Class Missionaire's Course which taught me how to follow detailed orders, observe my environment and to do an accurate debrief at the completion of the mission. John was back in LA too and would usually check in with me on a daily basis to see how I was doing. I was glad to have my mentor to talk to. I missed home and the rigors of daily life sometimes got me down.
The hot project at the time was the completion of the Cadet Org berthing. The rumor was that there were some Suppressive Persons4 (SPs) on the LA County housing board who were trying to get the existing berthing condemned. We had to quickly get the new property renovated so that it would pass inspection by the housing authorities. When I started the project the bungalows as they were called had been stripped to the framing. Some of us were rewiring, some of us were plumbing, running ducting, etc. My group was hanging drywall. I can recall feeling very frustrated. The pace of the work was extremely fast and literally no one on my crew had any experience with carpentry. There was a foreman who would make the rounds and give us instruction but most of the time we were on our own to figure out the intricacies of the job.
By the second week I was feeling exasperated. There was a woman on my crew, Silvia who was an OT5. We would talk during lunch about all manner of things. I confided in Silvia that it seemed more logical to have professional contractors on site doing the work, or at least helping us to do it since there was so little time to get it done and none of us were properly trained. I told her that I was concerned that the bungalows weren't going to pass inspection. Silvia reminded me that part of being in the Sea Org meant making things go right no matter what the obstacles. I understood that but I told her that I feel better when I can take pride in my work rather that struggling to do a half-assed job.
If it wasn't the next day it was the day after that that John sat me down for a serious talk. He showed me a Knowledge Report6 (KR) written by Silvia that related our conversation about the bungalows. She seemed to feel that I had been nattering7 about the project and the way it was being managed. My feeling of being betrayed by Silvia was nothing compared to seeing the look of concern and disapproval on John's face. I had let him down and I felt horrible. John listened while I explained my conversation with Silvia. When I was finished he gave me some very direct advice. He told me that I should to him first if I had any problems, any problems at all while I completed the EPF. I told him that I would. John said that I shouldn't worry about Silvia's KR. He would handle it. John reminded me that he needed me to get through the EPF as quickly as possible so that I could be posted in his division which was badly in need of able beings like myself. John's title was Hubbard Area Secretary (HAS), head of the Hubbard Communications Office (HCO) Division for ASHO. I assured John that I would not let him down.
"I feel strained, half-stranded, as ropes that tow dismasted frigates in a gale; and I may look so. But ere I break, ye'll hear me crack; and till ye hear that, know that Ahab's hawser tows his purpose yet."—Herman Melville
I was true to my word. I finished the EPF quickly and without further incident. I was given a certificate for completing Product Zero and issued a blue lanyard to signify that I was a Missionaire 3rd Class. I wore a white shirt with epaulets, a black tie, black slacks and my blue lanyard at my first morning muster. I was feeling proud and even a bit cocky. The bungalows had passed inspection and I was now a fully fledged Sea Org member!
Scientology orgs at that time were designed on a 7-division org board. I was in HCO, Division I. Each division had three departments. I was posted in Department 1, Department of Communications. The other two departments were Department 2, Routing and Personnel and Department 3, Inspections and Reports. The post I filled consisted of delivering dispatches throughout the org. Per Hubbard's policy, each staff member had a 3-basket system (in, pending and out) for handling written communications. My function was twofold. First I would make a circuit of the entire org, which at that time was over 100 staff, collecting the contents of each staff member's out basket. I would then sort the dispatches in HCO based on recipient. I would then complete the second part of my duty—canvassing the org again delivering dispatches to the appropriate in baskets. I would make these "comm runs" at least twice a day. When I wasn't running comm I was running the ancient cord-board PBX at reception or helping my immediate senior, the Director of Communications with incoming or outgoing mail. I also inspected pending baskets regularly to make sure that the staff was not letting their communications sit too long before being replied to—this was an ethics offense. I stayed very busy.
The long days were a blessing in that I didn't often notice how lonely I was. The seven-day weeks didn't leave time for a social life let alone a love life. I didn't even get much of a chance to talk to John once I was posted. He was either out of recruitment tour or busy with divisional matters. But I was nothing if not dedicated. I knew that the work I was doing was important for my org.
It came to pass that ASHO ran into income trouble. The entire staff was put on rice and beans until we made it go right and got the income up to an acceptable range. It wasn't long before my monotonous diet was the least of my problems. When I started my duties in Dept. 1 it fell on me to help determine a statistic (stat) for my post. Bill, the Director of Communications was helping me with policy research. I recall submitting several proposals for a stat but they were all turned down by John. I ran out of ideas and had let the project slide in favor of handling more urgent matters. Now John was angry that I had been on post for nine months and had not yet determined a stat. To compound the matter there had been several complaints from various staff that I had misrouted their dispatches. John decided that I was in a lowered ethics condition. This meant that I was operating below optimum performance and that I must apply the correct ethics condition to get back to Normal or above. John decided that I was in condition of Liability8.
Once again I felt horrible for having let my mentor down. I felt humiliated by having to wear a dirty gray rag tied around my left arm. I worked feverishly to get through my amends, often going without sleep to complete the formula. I had made it up to Emergency when John got upset again. Try as I might I cannot recall what it was that set him off. I do remember him telling me that my poor attitude/performance indicated to him that I had not honestly completed my ethics formulas. He placed me again in a condition of Liability.
My second descent into Liability must have occurred late in the evening. I distinctly remember making a point of being perfectly in uniform at the morning muster and ready to don my gray rag once again. I had decided that I was going to really get myself straightened out and become a superlative Sea Org member.
I remember the following events very clearly. I was in HCO after morning muster preparing to make a comm run. Bill approached me with what I thought was a strange look on his face. He had something in his hand; some type of rag. He said, "You have to wear this shirt." Then I realized what he was holding—The Shirt. I must give a brief history of The Shirt so that my reaction to Bill's order can be appreciated.
The Shirt was donated to HCO for use by Jan, the Mimeo Officer. She often complained that she never had a rag available for cleaning the mimeo machine. The Shirt started life as a white uniform shirt and was in excellent condition save for a large blue ink stain on the pocket courtesy of a defective Bic ballpoint. The Shirt had been in service for weeks keeping the mimeo machine free of ink, grease and dirt and had come to resemble the coat of a dirty calico cat. It even smelled of ink and grease and grime. Now it was being offered to me to wear! I laughed at Bill's joke. But Bill wasn't joking. He said, "Policy states that you must dress austerely when in Liability." I told Bill that I didn't have a problem with austere, but The Shirt went beyond austere, way beyond. He continued to insist that I put it on immediately. I was getting a bit upset at this point. I had noticed that John was at his desk in the corner doing paperwork. He was ignoring Bill and me completely. I was hoping that he would come to my rescue and tell Bill to leave me alone.
I continued trying to make Bill understand that I would look ridiculous running around the org in that disgusting shirt. He simply wouldn't understand. Our conversation started to get heated when we were interrupted by John. He said, "That's IT!". There was total silence. I turned in John's direction. He was standing at his desk looking quite pissed. I thought, finally he's going to put a stop to this silly bullshit. He looked at me and said, "I won't stand for you enturbulating [sic] my Dir. of Comm. You either wear the shirt or you leave."
I had never been truly stunned before. I heard the words coming from his mouth and I understood their meaning but I couldn't integrate the ultimatum I was being given with any sense of reality. I don't know how long I stood there failing to make sense of it. At some point John spoke to me again. He said, "Don't stand there thinking about it. Either put on the shirt or you're no longer a member of this organization."
I looked at John and saw that he was completely serious. I looked at Bill who wasn't looking at me—he was looking at The Shirt that he still held in my direction. I looked at The Shirt. I set my basket full of dispatches down on a desk and walked out of the office.
And for this I thank God; for all have doubts; many deny; but doubts or denials, few along with them, have intuitions. Doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some things heavenly; this combination makes neither believer nor infidel, but makes a man who regards them both with equal eye.—Herman Melville
I walked for awhile. I briefly considered going back but wearing The Shirt was not an option. I sat on a curb and cried. I was a failure. I remember hoping that someone from HCO would find me and tell me that it was all a mistake. But I knew that wouldn't happen. After a bit I dried my eyes and caught a city bus to the Hollywood Inn. I packed my suitcase and left without speaking to anyone. I had decided that I should go back home. I didn't want to stay in LA another minute. I had failed to make it in the only group on earth that could free mankind.
My memory of subsequent events is incomplete. I can remember calling my mother for bus fare home. I remember picking up the cash that she wired to a Western Union office near the bus station. I don't remember much about the ride back. I know that I never told her about what happened. I got a job soon after getting home and got my own apartment. I made friends, and I dated. I played jazz and studied photography—all the normal things a 19-year-old guy would do. I never heard from anyone at ASHO or the local org.
I was still a Scientologist despite my Sea Org experiences. I continued to see things from Hubbard's perspective. I still believed that my emotional problems were caused by my Reactive Bank. My sleep paralysis returned with a vengeance and I knew that my Bank was responsible for it. I was certain that the state of Clear was obtainable through standard Scientology. I suspected that my treatment in LA was unjust but I knew that if I had been a more competent Sea Org member things would have turned out differently. I didn't know what to do so I didn't do anything. It was almost three years before I contacted Scientology again.
In 1979 I wrote the Master At Arms9 (MAA) at ASHO. I had decided that I wanted to get everything straightened out concerning my departure in 1976. The MAA wrote back to suggest that I return to LA to complete my conditions formulas. I made a counteroffer to do my conditions at home. The next mail I got from him contained a general amnesty that had just been issued by LRH. The amnesty gave blanket forgiveness for any past misdeeds. It was just the thing to right the injustice that I suffered in LA. I marveled anew at Ron's wisdom and understanding. The MAA urged me to go to my local org to accept it. And that's what I did.
My acceptance of the amnesty lead to my return to staff at the local org. It had grown quite a bit in three years. They were in a new building and things were bustling. I was given a position in Div. II, the Dissemination Division as head of the Department of Promotion. I would be able to make use of my photography skills as well as do graphic design. I was back in the saddle again!
I did very well as Director of Promotion and I was an up-stat staff member. As an up-stat staffer I was eligible for auditing. I received auditing off and on for the next year and a half and I felt like I was making progress toward the state of Clear. Life was pretty good. I fell in love with a fellow staffer named Elaine. I also decided that I wanted to be an auditor. I was allowed to join the Technical Training Corps (TTC) in 1981. My job was to train as an auditor full time. I was determined to become a superlative auditor. I was a fast study and I did well as a student auditor. Due to my good performance as a TTC member I was chosen to go to Flag to complete my training. I was elated. I would train at "the top of the Bridge" and return to my org as an auditor who delivered 100% Standard Tech.
I arrived in Florida in the fall of 1981. I was put on a program to train to the level of Permanent Class IV Auditor which meant that I would have to complete a Flag internship. I was told that I would not graduate the internship until I was a perfect auditor and that was fine with me.
I was at Flag nearly a year. I was treated very well by the Sea Org staff and moral was high. I moved quickly through my courses and started my internship in the summer of 1982. That's when things back home got crazy. I won't go into the gory details here. Suffice it to say that I was not allowed to complete my internship due to what Flag executives considered to be a major "PR flap"10. I had had nothing to do with the creation of the flap but it was up to me to handle it. The MAA that briefed me on the situation was very understanding and even empathetic. She assisted me with the necessary paperwork I had to complete prior to leaving Flag and made sure that I got to the airport in time to catch my plane.
I arrived back home very tired (I had not slept in nearly 24 hours), broke and virtually homeless. I immediately set about the task of getting my life back together while a Sea Org mission from LA handled other pressing org matters. After a week of intense effort including meetings with lawyers and the interested parties and writing long reports to upper management I had stabilized things to the point where I could return to staff duties.
My time at Flag was eventful. I became more certain that the exact application of Hubbard's data would yield beneficial results. I believed that any failure to obtain good results was my fault—I had failed to apply the technology correctly. For example there was the fellow trainee who was extremely depressed. I was given his folder with specific instructions on what to do. I audited him for a week and he only seemed to get worse. I recall writing a long note to the Case Supervisor11 (C/S) detailing my concerns about this individual. I feared that I had done something so wrong that he was declining. The C/S made a major exception in protocol: he talked to me about the case in his office. He had decided to send this person home with a specific auditing program to be completed there. He assured me that I had not damaged the guy and thanked me for my efforts.
I audited so much that I was able to witness every needle phenomena listed in The Book of E-Meter Drills12. I was given "tough cases" because I wouldn't rabbit—that's to say I could handle difficult PCs without having to end the session prematurely to request C/S instructions. I was also very good at "pulling withholds", i.e. I was able to get people to tell me things that they would rather not tell anyone under any circumstances. I was considered a hotshot by the technical staff.
Any deviation in PC behavior from what Hubbard described was explained by other aspects of the PC's case that would be addressed by the appropriate auditing level. I remember a PC of mine who was convinced that his previous life had been spent committing suppressive acts against Hubbard. Never mind the fact that it was mathematically impossible for him at his present age to have been old enough in his previous life to walk let alone make Hubbard's life miserable. But he was convinced. In nearly every session I gave him he came up with at least one other bad thing that he had done to Hubbard. When I queried the C/S about it I was told that the issue would be addressed at a later time. I though that the matter deserved more concern than it was being given but I was not one to argue with a Flag C/S.
After my abrupt and premature return home it was decided that I would finish my internship at my org. Flag management was still too nervous about recent events to have me return, at least for awhile. The execs at my org had promoted the fact that a Flag-trained auditor was now available take them into session. Many people came in to make arrangements for auditing eager to have their case resolved. I spent a lot of time reviewing folders and making long lists of previous auditing errors that needed to be corrected. It appeared that my colleagues were not nearly as well schooled in auditing technique as I was. In fact, based on my folder studies they appeared to be alarmingly incompetent.
The ensuing weeks of folder study and auditing only increased my fears about the future of my org. The Sea Org mission was long gone but big problems still remained. The Religious Technology Center (RTC) had been established by this time and it was obvious to me that if any org was ripe for takeover it was mine. I had written reports to upper management but got no reply and the execs at my org were indifferent to my worries. I knew that when the RTC moved in they would take no prisoners. I knew that if I was seen by the RTC to have any involvement in the shambles that was the Technical Division that my head would be on the block too. I was on my own. I did what any good Scientologist would have done in my situation. I did the Doubt formula and decided to leave staff.
"Ha! a coward wind that strikes stark naked men, but will not stand to receive a single blow. Even Ahab is a braver thing—a nobler thing than that. Would now the wind but had a body; but all the things that most exasperate and outrage mortal man, all these things are bodiless, but only bodiless as objects, not as agents. There's a most special, a most cunning, oh, a most malicious difference!"—Herman Melville
My decision to leave staff was not made easily. I agonized over it for weeks. I was helped in my decision by the fact that many of the staff members I most respected had not renewed their contracts. Many had left over the preceding year. Those that remained seemed to me the least competent and the worthiest of distrust.
Elaine had left staff prior to me going to Flag. I had tried to convince her to stay but failed. Our on-again off-again relationship was definitely off. I had tried to find her after my return and couldn't. I had heard that she left town but no one could tell me where she'd landed. I was very alone and very uncertain of my future. Since I had left before completing my 5-year contract I was liable for the entire cost of my auditing and training—over $10,000 worth. The money I owed is called a freeloader's debt by Hubbard. Anyone who opts out of their contract for any reason is considered a freeloader.
It was the fall of 1982 and I was an ex-staff member again. I became very withdrawn. I didn't socialize at all for a year. I went to work in the morning and I came home at night where I stayed until it was time to go to work again. I was a failure twice over. I tried to renew my former interests but it was no use. Sometimes I would go drinking with people from work. I drank a lot when I drank. I realize now that I was in the grip of a bone-deep depression. It lasted for over two years.
My memory of the years between 1983 and 1986 is indistinct at best. I worked various sales jobs because I wanted to make enough money to pay my debt. I quit a few and got fired from several. Things were not going well. I can remember taking a job in Alaska in the winter of 1985. I thought that some time out of town would be refreshing. I processed crab in the Bering Sea for four months. We worked 18- and 20-hour days most of that time. It was not refreshing. When I got home I slept for a week. When I woke up I started driving a taxi for a living.
Sometime in late '86 or early '87 I was working sales again for a small electronics company owned by a guy named Jim. Jim was on staff at the org when I came back in '79. He was one of the many who had finished their contracts and left. I lived in a studio apartment in a small complex that I helped manage. I was starting to put some money away toward my debt. One evening in early December my phone rang. It was Elaine. She was back in town and our on-again off-again relationship was back on.
Being in a relationship wasn't easy for either of us. Elaine had spent the last several years living on the East Coast trying to salvage a bad marriage. I had spent that time successfully avoiding relationships of any kind. I made an exception for Elaine and often regretted it. The acuity of hindsight shows me two people who were mostly blameless but very inept at accommodating anyone else in their life. The fact that she had a 9-month old son didn't help matters for either of us. We decided that we were engaged and moved into a two-bedroom duplex together. Jim fired me right after I put a deposit down on the duplex. I don't remember exactly why he canned me, but I do recall us having some strong disagreements concerning compensation. My depression was abating but a nasty temper was taking its place. I was shooting par again, but now I had two dependents.
There was another complicating factor. Elaine told me about her year in LA. She arrived there after her divorce and spent most of her settlement money on auditing. It seemed that the auditing hadn't gone well. The more she told me about her experiences there the more I was convinced that she was suffering from serious auditing errors. I wrote a letter to the RTC with my assessment. I requested a review of her folders17 so that a correction program could be written. To my surprise that is exactly what happened.
We lived off my savings and my unemployment insurance while Elaine received her correction auditing at the local org. I stayed home and minded her son, Alex. We watched Sesame Street and went to the park while his mother was at the org getting all fixed up. I cooked and I cleaned and did my best to keep Elaine from being distracted in any way. I made sure that she ate well and that she got plenty of sleep. The positive changes I expected to see were slow in coming. The tensions and difficulties in our relationship grew. I didn't express my feelings because I believed that once her auditing program was finished things would be better between us.
After several months the org pronounced Elaine as finished with her auditing and officially all fixed up. I took another sales job. I encouraged Elaine to find work. She made a few token attempts to find employment but she wasn't very motivated. After a few weeks she seemed depressed. We argued a lot. I had decided that what Elaine lacked was self discipline. It was obvious to me that she needed to be more productive and focused. My assessment of her may have been very accurate or merely my own arrogance and wishful thinking. Either way it became a moot point. Our lives were about to take a quantum jump for the worse.
I can remember the conversation we had when I realized that she was in real trouble. It was at night after Alex was asleep. It was probably the fall of 1988. It was a tense conversation about our relationship. At some point she mentioned the name Justin Hayward. The only Justin Hayward that I knew of was a member of The Moody Blues. That was the Justin that she was referring to. She admitted that she was receiving messages from him through his music. I was stunned—stunned like when I was told to wear The Shirt or leave the Sea Org.
My memory of the subsequent events is a bit hazy. I think I wrote a report to Elaine's C/S. I know that Elaine declined further auditing when I suggested it as an option. I wasn't sure what to think. My training told me that there were two possibilities for her trouble. One possibility was that more auditing errors had occurred during her correction actions. The other possibility was that she was engaging in out-ethics13 behavior that was causing a nascent PTS Type III14 scenario. I didn't know what to do. My decision was aided by outside influences. We received an eviction notice prompted by too many complaints from our neighbor. Elaine and I were too loud when we argued and Alex was too loud when he cried. I suggested that Elaine move in with her mother so that she would have help with Alex while I took care of the move. She wasn't fooled. I was dumping her. I couldn't handle the idea of living with a crazy person. I was sure that if she refused further auditing that she would get worse. The truth was that I felt I had lost her already. The intelligent, talented, humorous, caring and slightly puckish woman I loved was gone. I didn't know if I would ever get her back.
Elaine took my advice and moved in with her mother. I found another apartment. My depression returned. I didn't care about anything. I lost my job, got another and lost it too. I stopped looking for work. When my unemployment insurance ran out I went back to driving a cab. It was all the same to me—minutia floating in a void. I was a three-time loser.
For whatever is truly wondrous and fearful in man, never yet was put into words or books. And the drawing near of Death, which alike levels all, alike impresses all with a last revelation, which only an author from the dead could adequately tell.—Herman Melville
I heard from Elaine sometime in '89. She was married and pregnant and she had found Jesus. She wanted me to accept Jesus into my life. I told her that I already had a religion. I tried to be patient with her and usually I failed. She was very patient with me and very persistent too. I tried to convince her that she needed auditing. She wouldn't believe me.
I was happy to know that she was married. My feelings of guilt were lessened knowing that she had someone to take care of her. When she seemed lucid I would remind her that auditing was still an option for her. She didn't agree with me but appreciated my concern. In 1990 Elaine called to tell me that she had given birth to a healthy baby girl. I congratulated her. She reminded me that Jesus was still an option for me. I declined politely.
I got a phone call in July of 1991 from a Sea Org Missionaire named Alice. She was at the local org and wanted to talk to me most urgently. I met with her out of curiosity more than anything. Alice was a Class VIII15 on a mission to recover auditors who had fallen by the wayside. She listened to my tale of woe going back to 1982. She offered to audit me and I accepted. I cried in our sessions. It was the first time I had talked to anyone about what had happened and how those events made me feel. I cried a lot.
Alice helped me to rekindle my failed purpose to be an auditor. She told me that she could fix it so that I could return to Flag to train to Class VIII whereupon I would return to the local org and really kick some butt. I told her that if she could make it happen I would go.
I arrived at Flag for the second time in September of 1991—almost 10 years to the month since my last visit. A lot had changed since '82. More staff, more Scientology-owned real estate, more traffic and a lot of PCs lounging by the pool. I was psyched, I was pumped and I was ready for anything. This time I was going all the way—all the way to Class VIII which also meant all the way to OT III16. OT III is a prerequisite for the Class VIII course.
I worked like a plow horse—16 hour days, six days a week; 12 hours on Saturday. I worked so hard that it was months before I realized something had changed, something fundamental. Morale was almost non-existent. The Sea Org staffers screamed often and at just about anyone. The atmosphere was oppressive beyond what was normal for Florida's climate . It was emotionally fetid—rank with anxiousness, fear, anger and dread.
Many events occurred simultaneously over the next 11 months and most of the specifics are beyond the scope of this essay. I was nearly finished with the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course (SHSBC)18 when the shit really hit the proverbial fan. I didn't know it at the time but I was seeing glimpses of what lay behind the cool, calm façade of Scientology. I had been in the real world long enough to sense the inanity of their administrative procedures. I made the mistake of speaking my mind about actions taken and decisions made by arrogant and incompetent people when their decisions affected my life. I was expected to obey without question and I refused. I was supposed to trust people who proved to be untrustworthy and I wouldn't. I was committing crimes by not conforming, serious crimes.
My crimes did not go unpunished. I was threatened with expulsion and confronted by administrators with selected readings from my PC folder. I was beached—thrown off the Flag property. I was broke and virtually homeless. They wanted to humiliate me and they wanted me to crack. They mostly succeeded.
I left Florida a year to the day after I had arrived. My infamy had preceded me. The Executive Director of my org had a talk with me shortly after I returned. He was not happy about the reports he'd received. He was disappointed in me. I was disappointed in myself. I had only one certainty when I returned home: I did not want to be a Scientology staff member any more, not ever. I was done. I was 35 years old and I had nothing. Despite my best efforts I had failed repeatedly. Yes, I was feeling sorry for myself, but I was also feeling sorry for everyone I had let down.
I had sublet my apartment before leaving for Florida so at least I had somewhere to live. I also got a job right away. I just concentrated on work for the next year. Sometimes I would be reminded of my experiences. Sometimes I wondered what my experiences signified. It seemed like a very fundamental change had occurred within Scientology: a change in attitude, behavior, something else... I couldn't put my finger on it.
I heard from Elaine in the spring of '93. Carl, her husband, had committed suicide in February. He hanged himself from a rafter early one morning while Elaine and the kids were sleeping. Their daughter found him and woke Elaine. She needed to see me, she wanted to talk to me about her late husband—he had been under a psychiatrist's care and she felt betrayed by both psychiatry and God. She was afraid and alone. Every molecule in my body wanted to scream, "No!" and hang up the phone. I didn't deserve this; it wasn't fair. My sense of responsibility prevailed.
I gave Elaine as much time with me as she wanted. We talked about anything that she wanted to talk about. I cried with her, I fed her and when she ran out of cigarettes I went to the store for her. Sometimes she just wanted sex—needing to replace what she had lost with Carl's death or my cowardice, or both. Sometimes she cursed her adopted god. I had never seen anyone so miserable.
She was spending the weekends with me regularly and we would talk on the phone during the week. Sometimes she terrified me when she wished for death. Her grief often overpowered both of us. After she left on Sundays I was so emotionally drained that I ached. I never let her know how hard it was for me—for once I had my priorities right.
In my own feeble way I was trying to say I was sorry. I was trying to make amends for what I perceived as my failures. She gradually improved to the point of merely being unhappy. After a couple of months she didn't need me much anymore. She made peace with her god and her Christian friends were able to console her.
"This whole act's immutably decreed. 'Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this ocean rolled. Fool! I am the Fates' lieutenant; I act under orders. Look thou, underling! that thou obeyest mine.—Stand round men, men. Ye see an old man cut down to the stump; leaning on a shivered lance; propped up on a lonely foot. 'Tis Ahab—his body's part; but Ahab's soul's a centipede, that moves upon a hundred legs."
I have drawn parallels to Melville's Moby Dick because I can identify with the character of Ishmael. He was caught up in Ahab's usurpation of the Pequod and its crew. I see Hubbard as a usurper of a person's desire for an understanding of life and his willingness and need to help himself and others. Ahab and Hubbard were both cultists, although I consider Melville's Ahab to have been far more honest and not nearly as insane as Hubbard was.
Ishmael became obsessed with the pursuit of the white whale. I became obsessed with becoming a superlative Scientologist is every way. Ishmael survived his voyage on the Pequod by good fortune alone. I feel fortunate to have survived my Scientology involvement with my sanity intact. I did not become an ex-Scientologist all at once. It was a gradual awakening to my errors in judgment and my faulty logic; a slow dawning on me of the width and breadth of Hubbard's lies.
In 1996 I discovered the Free Zone. The Free Zone started in Germany as a loose organization of Scientologists who have broken with the management and procedures of Hubbard's Scientology. It was founded in 1982 by a former Sea Org captain named Bill Robertson (refered to as Capt. Bill by his adherents). Capt. Bill died sometime in the 1990s of a brain tumor.
Capt. Bill left behind a variety of writings which discuss his theories about why Hubbard's Scientology got into trouble as an organization. I decided that perhaps Capt. Bill had hit upon the true reasons for my experiences. I joined the Free Zone mailing list and began conversing with some of the members. They were friendly and willing to answer my questions. In the summer of 1996 I had several sessions with a Free Zone auditor.
I began doing more reading about Scientology. The Internet was my main resource for information. I was forming a detailed theory of my own about Hubbard, Scientology and the reasons for the problems it was experiencing.
The turning point came when I read about the death of Lisa McPherson18. I saw the photos of her autopsy and read the transcripts of the logs that were kept by the Sea Org personnel during her isolation. I read the deposition of the coroner, Dr. Davis. It became obvious to me that Scientology as a religion as well as individual Scientologists were culpable in Lisa's death. I could no longer deny that there was something seriously and fundamentally wrong with Scientology.
I know which room Lisa was in when she died. I've been in that room more than once. I can still see that room in my mind's eye—the tile floor, the queen-size bed, the curtains and the large window. It's a quiet room on the ground floor of what are called the cabanas. It's a corner room at the north end. The only window faces west. There is no view—a 6-foot wall is just ten feet beyond. There is a housekeeping station adjacent to the room on the south. Her screams and her pounding on the walls would go unheard by the guests. It was a good choice as a room for an isolation watch.
I realized something about myself when I read about Lisa and the realization made me cry. I cried from the shame I felt. I was ashamed because there was a time when I would have stood watch over Lisa and filled in the log. I would have helped administer the chloral hydrate she received when she was violent and I would have helped restrain her during the forced feedings. I would have watched her shrivel from a healthy weight of 145+ pounds down to the 108 pounds that she weighed at the time of her death. I would have listened to her desperate delusional babbling and remained silent. I would have been a good Scientologist. I would have been a good auditor. I would have applied Standard Tech just as Hubbard had written it and in so doing I would have helped to take the life of a fellow human being; a fellow Scientologist. And I realized that Lisa would have done the same for me because she was a good Scientologist too.
Once I knew everything about the mind and the spirit of Man. I was a spiritual practitioner with unequaled skill and understanding. Now I am ignorant again. I no longer know what drives Mankind into the depths of madness or lifts him to the heights of noble and constructive genius. I am not, as Hubbard described auditors, "...the elite of planet Earth" anymore. I don't know if there is a god, but if there is I hope to be forgiven. I hope we are all forgiven.
So now I begin again by forgiving myself.
1 A derogatory term for anyone who is not a Scientologist. According to Hubbard it is someone who "isn't even trying".
2 The urge toward survival as, or through all mankind. The Sea Org's mandate is to handle the 4th Dynamic psychosis which prevents planetary clearing.
3 The part of the mind which, according to Hubbard, contains pain, unconsciousness and misemotion. See Dianetics: The modern Science of Mental Health for a full description.
4 A Suppressive Person is one who seeks to make less of others. The personality type is roughly equivalent to that of a sociopath.
5 An Operating Thetan (OT) is one who has eliminated their Reactive Bank and is on their way to becoming fully functional as a spiritual being—a demigod of sorts.
6 A KR is a written report that is filed in the interested party's ethics folder. It could lead to disciplinary action.
7 Natter is defined by Hubbard as negative chatter. It indicates someone who has something to hide or has committed a bad act against a group or individual
8 There are numerous ethics conditions as defined by Hubbard. They range from Power at the top to Enemy at the bottom. Each condition has a formula that must be applied in order to ascend to the next higher condition.
9 The MAA is the Sea Org equivalent of an Ethics Officer for a Scientology org or mission.
10 A Public Relations (PR) flap is a situation that causes Scientology to be viewed in a bad light by the public.
11 A C/S is the person responsible for programming a case through all the steps leading to Clear and beyond. He monitors progress of the case and is also responsible for the training of auditors.
12 The E-meter is a device used by a Scientology auditor to detect areas of upset in the mind of the Preclear (PC) by observing the motions of the E-meter's indicator needle. A Preclear is someone who is receiving spiritual counseling. An auditor drills extensively to become competent in the use of the E-meter. The Book of E-Meter Drills lists 18 specific needle behaviors and what they represent.
13 Out-ethics as defined by Hubbard are those actions which inhibit survival across the 8 Dynamics of life: 1. Self , 2. Sex and Family, 3. Groups, 4. Mankind, 5. All Living Things, 6. Physical Matter, 7. Spirit and 8. Infinity.
14 PTS stands for Potential Trouble Source. It describes a person who is connected to some form of suppression. Type III indicates that the individual is being reminded of a source of suppression from a past life.
15 A Class VIII auditor is a Specialist of Standard Tech. There are only four more training levels above Class VIII.
16 OT stands for Operating Thetan. The OT levels begin after the state of Clear has been reached. They are numbered OT I through OT IX. OT VIII is the highest level available at this time.
17 All the details of a PC's auditing are recorded and maintained in dated and numbered folders. These folders can be analyzed for errors and omissions in a PC's auditing.
18 The SHSBC is the longest and most arduous course offered in Scientology taking nearly a year to complete. The course includes all of Hubbard's books, all twelve volumes of the Technical Bulletins, and over 300 taped lectures.
19 Lisa McPherson died of a pulmonary thrombosis on December 5th , 1995 while in the care of Sea Org members at Flag. She was held in a room at the Ft. Harrison Hotel for 17 days after suffering a psychotic break. She was held in isolation against her will as part of Hubbard's Introspection Rundown—a supposed cure for psychosis. She was 36 years old.