Fort Harrison Hotel - Room 758

Death of scientologist Heribert Pfaff

Professor of neurology Günther Schwendemann: I can tell you with the utmost probability, that with adequate treatment the patient would still be alive today.

Another needless death of a scientologist.

Excerpt of Die dunkle Seite von Scientology - According to the records, Heribert P. died august 28, 1988, during the night from a heavy epileptic attack. He hit his head on the night table. (...) The scientology doctor reports that he prescribed vitamins for his patient -dispite regular attacks- in stead of treating him with proper medication. Such medication was indeed not detected in his blood during the post-mortem examination.

Who was Heribert Pfaff and why is he dead after his scientologist doctor prescribed vitamins for him while he knew that his patient suffered severe epileptic seizures?

This page hopes to give an answer on those questions. For that I use material from a film by Mona Botros and Egmond R. Koch - ARD (Germany), April 1997 - Die dunkle Seite von Scientology ( The dark side of Scientology ) and the St. Petersburg Times plus some government reports and a critical essay. The pictures link to the releated pages, just click on them.

Some background

In Scientology the use of drugs is frowned upon. Any "drugs". Taking aspirin will have the effect that the scientologist may not receive "processing" (Scientolgy's counseling ). Considering that for scientologists the cult is the only way to salvation and that "processing" is part of that, being denied Scientology's counseling is a very real threat for them.

In HCOB of 17 October 1969 by L. Ron Hubbard it is allegedly written:

    Pain or discomfort of a psychosomatic nature comes from mental image pictures. These are created by the thetan or living beings and impinge or press against the body. By actual clinical test, the actions of aspirin and other pain depressants are to (a) inhibit the ability of the thetan to create mental image pictures and also (b) to impede the electrical conductivity of nerve channels. Both of these facts have a vital effect on processing.

Scientology's "cures for illness"

If for a scientologist, that what Hubbard wrote = true, the next step to get rid of pain or discomfort of a "psychosomatic nature" (of course) is auditing these "thetan or living beings" which are causing it. And thus "New Era Dianetics for Operating Thetans" is a logical follow-up. Specifically NOTs Series 34 - a fair-use excerpt:


                        NED for OTs Series 34
                       C O N F I D E N T I A L


     Step Four - Cures for Illness

     You will now find BTs and clusters being cures for
     illnesses of the body part. Handle all such BTs
     and clusters by blowing them off. "Cures for
     Illness" will then cease to read.

"BTs and clusters" represent the earlier mentioned "living beings". Reading of the amounts Heribert had spent on courses, it's likely that he was involved in a high priced course which consisted of such procedures. Although Scientology's official attitude is that they aren't in the healing business, internally they very much do believe that they can heal. Passage of chapter 9 of the Foster Report - 1971

238. That the practices of Scientology constitute a therapy, which claims to cure people of their real or imagined ills, must surely be beyond dispute. ... Put bluntly, what is often said against the Scientology leadership is that they are quacks, dishonestly exploiting for their own financial gain the hopes of betterment or cure which they hold out to the anxious, the lonely, the inadequate, the credulous and the deluded, but in which they do not themselves believe.

But as attorney Ken Dandar in the wrongful death suit of Lisa McPherson was quoted to having said in the Tampa Tribune

They claim to have cures for medical and mental illnesses ... Lisa McPherson is the prime example that they don't know what they're doing.

So reading the rest of the page, keep in mind that devoted scientologists do think Scientology can cure them.

Excerpt of SP Times article of December the 7th, 1997

Heribert Pfaff, 31

Heribert Pfaff, 31, became a Scientologist after a brother encountered a sidewalk solicitor who was recruiting students in Munich, Germany.

The decision to join, his family members now believe, was a fateful one.



For a decade after surviving a major car accident, Heribert Pfaff had suffered severe seizures that often came in the middle of the night. In 1988 Pfaff traveled from his home in Munich to Clearwater to take courses at the Church of Scientology.

Pfaff's brother, Georg, told the Times that Scientologists in Germany promised a cure for his seizures and took Pfaff off medication that had controlled them.

The son of a wealthy German builder, Pfaff checked into Room 758 at the Fort Harrison Hotel. He had brought about $100,000 to finance his visit, family members say. His wife, Anita, told police she was staying with friends so she wouldn't be awakened by the seizures her husband had been having since he quit taking his medicine.

On Aug. 28, 1988, Pfaff's nude body was found upside down hanging out of his bed. An autopsy determined that a seizure probably caused his death. No anti-convulsant drugs were found in his bloodstream.


The $100,000 disappeared, says Georg Pfaff, his brother.

The family had stopped an attempt by Heribert Pfaff to wire transfer another $150,000 from a family bank account that was requested a few days before his death.

Georg Pfaff said he discovered after the death that his brother had paid $26,330 for one Scientology course and $52,000 for another.

The church was only interested in his money, says Georg Pfaff.

Scientology officials say Pfaff's treatment was not recommended by the church.

"If someone had epilepsy, they should see a medical doctor," Shaw said. "It was his choice to receive drugs or not."

Another of Pfaff's brothers, Joannes, remains a Scientologist.

This is most likely the post-mortem picture of Mr.Pfaff. Caption:
1988, death in room 758. The victim is a 31 year old German.

The remark of Scientology spokesman Ben Shaw, that Heribert should have seen a medical doctor is very ironic. Especially when holding that statement against Scientology's own claims of medical cures. For illustration I've included a small section of a critical essay by Jeff Jacobsen - Medical claims within Scientology's secret teachings

One aspect of these teachings, and especially the NOTs courses, are the medical cures that they seem to be promoting. While Hubbard had no medical background and in fact only took 2 years of college courses with dismal results, he still made astounding claims for his auditing process, such as:

What if Heribert and his scientologist doctor truly were made to believe that the techniques of the cult could heal, who is to blame for his needless death other than Scientology in that case?

Kevin Victor Anderson, Q.C., already in 1965 stated in the Anderson Report, in a chapter headed: The healing claims of scientology

   The official attitude advanced at the Inquiry that scientology did not claim to heal was, and is, only a camouflage. The real intention of scientology is to inculcate in the minds of anyone who becomes interested in it the impression or belief that, as well as being a panacea for all problems, worries and aberrations, it is a gateway to sure cures for a great variety of mental and physical ills. And it is at the vary basis of scientology teaching that mental and physical well-being is assured to those who have sufficient scientology processing.

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