The following is an account of my life in Scientology, a group I was involved in from December 1970 to August of 1976 -- about 5 years and 9 months. From 1973 to 1975 I lived aboard the Flagship Apollo ("Flag"), the home of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Dianetics and Scientology. On Flag, I trained to be an auditor (a Scientology counselor). My life on Flag was a continual roller-coaster of ups and downs. One day I would receive a personal commendation from Hubbard and be held up as an example of what a Flag auditor should be and then, just months later, Hubbard would take away all my certificates and send me to the RPF (Scientology's prison camp) for an auditing error I did not even commit. On Flag as auditors, we were under continuous pressure to be perfect, the standard of perfection being the whim of L. Ron Hubbard.
Many people, no doubt, have read horror stories about what occurred on Flag and I can personally attest to the fact that they are true. This might lead one to wonder why a person would join such a group in the first place. How could anyone put up with such abuse? In writing this testimony, I hope to give people some insight into this question. The fact is that I didn't join Scientology to be ordered around and abused and I don't know anyone who did. The group I thought I joined, as an idealistic eighteen-year-old, bore little resemblance to what Scientology actually was and still is.
When I found Scientology, I thought I had found all the answers to the great mysteries of life. I had found the Truth -- or so I thought. What I didn't know at the time, however, was that I was involved in a destructive cult that used deception, followed by subtle, but very effective techniques to control my mind and the minds of many others.
I didn't realize the full ramifications of the impact of this experience on me until years after I left the group. I now realize that this group has caused me tremendous harm -- that I was a victim of mind control. My purpose in writing this account of my experiences is to make people aware of how it feels to be a Scientologist, what attracts people to Scientology and to show the techniques that are used in Scientology to control people's minds. It is not a pretty picture, but having this knowledge is essential if you wish to help a friend or loved one to free themselves from the clutches of this very destructive cult.
I am very grateful to my parents, Ruth and Alfio Pignotti, for not giving up on me and always leaving the door open for me to return home. I would also like to thank Steven Hassan for writing the book, Combatting Cult Mind Control, a book which has been very instrumental in helping me to understand my experience and put it into perspective and Bent Corydon for writing the book, L. Ron Hubbard Messiah or Madman, a book which also increased my understanding and made me aware that I was not alone in the feelings I was having while I was in the Sea Org. A very big thank you, also, to Lorna and Bill Goldberg, who are helping me to put together all the pieces of my experiences in Scientology and all the people in their support group of former cult members. Also, Vanessa Weber, Carol and Noel Giambalvo and Pricilla Coates have given and are continuing to give me a great deal of information and support, for which I am extremely grateful. And last, but not least, I would like thank the man in my life, Sam [last name illegible] for being so understanding about my need to unearth my past and for his continuing love and support. Thanks to the support that all of these people have given me, I am finally able to put my life back together and live, once again, as a free spirit.
As painful as my experiences were, I am very happy finally to be free, once again, to make my own choices in life. However, some people weren't so fortunate. Quentin Hubbard, L. Ron Hubbard's son and a very close friend of mine, committed suicide at age 22 because he could see no way out of the trap he was in. Having been born into Scientology, he could not envision living outside of the cult, but could not stand living in it. It is too late for Quentin. He is gone and no one can undo that the damage that was done to him, but it is not too late for others. If writing this gives someone the insight to get their loved one out of Scientology, then perhaps, my years in Scientology will have served some purpose.
I have always been, and still am, a very inquisitive person about the questions of life and human nature. As a teenager, I kept detailed journals of my experiences, my thoughts about them and my insights about life. I was very aware of the serious problems that existed in the world and I wanted to do something positive about them. Many of my friends took drugs to escape the pressures of life, but I didn't join them. I was a very strong-willed person who didn't give in to group pressure. I was, in my mother's words, a "free spirit."
I was very interested in ideas that were departures from the accepted norm. What the world needed, I felt, were innovative ideas and solutions and I hoped someday to make a contribution that would make a real difference in people's lives. I read anything I could get my hands on that might provide me with some insight into human nature and how we could achieve our full potential as human beings. I very much believed that to change the world, we had to change as individuals, so when I heard about a book called Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health, by L. Ron Hubbard, I was very interested.
It was the fall of 1970 and I had just started college at the University of Utah at the age of 17, with a major in music. I had been studying music since the age of four, having come from a family of musicians. I had always assumed, up until then, that I would be a musician, but that year I was beginning to question that assumption. This caused me to feel intense inner struggle, as it was, in my mind, a rejection of everything my parents wanted for me, but, at the same time, I knew I had to follow my own path. This inner struggle, not uncommon to people my age, was one factor that made me vulnerable to Scientology.
I became very interested in the subject of Psychology and was taking an introductory course on the subject which was biased, mainly in favor of the Behaviorist school of psychology. There was very little emphasis on other forms of psychology, which probably would have appealed to me more. Given the limited information that I had, I concluded that the establishment had very little to offer and began to look outside for insights into the field.
There was a music professor at the University named Sally Peck who was involved in Scientology. Sally was principal violist of the Utah Symphony and a respected member of the community. It was one of her students who told me about Scientology and took me to a free lecture on Communication in December, 1970, shortly before my eighteenth birthday. There was nothing profoundly earthshattering in the contents of the lecture, but I was very impressed by the people involved. Many of them were artists and musicians who seemed to be having great insights into the nature of life and their work as artists. After the lecture, I bought the Dianetics book and spent my Christmas vacation back home in Michigan reading it. I just couldn't put the book down; I was fascinated. L. Ron Hubbard, it seemed, had developed an innovative theory about the human mind and the cause of all human abberation and he had developed a technique called auditing, designed to put this theory into practice and thus, bring about a world free of war and insanity. And so my journey began. Upon returning to Salt Lake City in January, 1971, I started my first Scientology course.
I think it is important, at this point, to explain more fully what it is about Scientology that appealed to me. Every cult, no matter how sinister it seems, has something positive about it that is used as bait to attract people. After all, if everything about a cult were negative, nobody would join. I don't believe that it is human nature to be masochistic; people don't want to suffer the humiliation and degradation that is rampant in cults. People join cults because they believe that the cult has something that will help them, in some way, to change some unwanted condition in their lives and to grow as a person so they can live happier and more fulfilling lives.
In Scientology, auditing is the bait used to attract people. Auditing is a process that occurs between two people: the auditor (therapist or counsellor) and the preclear ("PC", the person being audited). The auditor's job is to ask the preclear a question, listen attentively to the answer the PC gives and acknowledge what the PC says, by saying "thank you", "good" or "ok" after the PC has answered. The PC's job is to look into his own mind and answer the question. One basic rule of auditing is that the auditor never evaluates for the PC, meaning that the auditor never tells the PC what he thinks the answer is to the question or how the PC should think. Thus, the PC is encouraged to look within him/herself for answers, rather than relying on someone else to give the answers, promoting self-determinism. The premise behind auditing is that the answers lie within each of us and that we are fully capable of finding them.
I found this idea very empowering as well as mentally and spiritually stimulating. What I didn't realize at the time, however, is that this idea of asking questions and getting answers is one that has been around for a very long time -- it goes all the way back to the Greek philosophers and there are legitimate forms of psychotherapy that do not revolve around cults that are based on the same premise. I thought that Hubbard had come up with something new and wonderful, as did many other people who were drawn into Scientology.
Hubbard claimed to be anti-authoritarian. After all, we had only to look within ourselves to find the truth. It was completely unnecessary to rely on any person who called himself an authority. Any authority, that is, except him, and this is where all the contradictions come into play. The Sea Org, Scientology's inner circle, is one of the most authoritarian groups imaginable. Many people, such as myself, who were originally attracted to Scientology because it advocated independence and self-determinism later found ourselves living under a totalitarian dictatorship on a ship with L. Ron Hubbard at the helm. Hubbard had said, "There are no absolutes", but the closer one gets to the inner circle of Scientology, the more one discovers that Hubbard's authority is an absolute, never to be criticized or questioned.
If only I had known in these first few months what I know now. If only I had known that any assertion of self-determinism that ran contrary to LRH's whims was severely punished. If only I had known that the universe LRH created was one in which no one could be trusted; where "friends", even relatives, wrote up knowledge reports on one another. If only I had known that L. Ron Hubbard's son, Quentin committed suicide after several earlier attempts because he found life under his father's control unbearable. If only I had known that Hubbard had, in fact, created exactly the opposite kind of world to the one he promised us -- that he betrayed everything he professed to value -- that he betrayed and shattered the dreams of myself and many, many others. If only I had known all this in January, 1971, when I took my first Scientology course, I would have run as far away and as fast as I could. But destructive cults, such as Scientology don't tell you those things. Deception is used to draw people in and then techniques of mind control are used to trap them and that is exactly what happened to me.
The idea of giving and receiving auditing appealed to me enormously. In auditing, I saw tremendous potential to really make a difference in people's lives. Many people involved in the arts are attracted to auditing because they feel that the process helps them to discover and realize their creative potential. They have no idea that the price they ultimately pay is to become enslaved into a cult that stifles any possibility of being creative. There are celebrities who are involved in Scientology, such as Priscilla Presley, Karen Black, John Travolta, Chick Corea and others who, I am sure, would disagree with me. Even though these people have done many advanced courses, the powers that be in Scientology have made sure, for obvious PR purposes, that these celebrities never see the dark side of Scientology. They are given very special treatment in centers set up just for them called Celebrity Centers. When they are guests at Scientology organizations, such as the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida, they get the best rooms and are served by uniformed waiters in an elegant dining room. They are not shown the parking garage, where the backsliders in the Sea Org are sent to live, as punishment. This is something that Priscilla Presley has never seen; you can be sure of that. She and her daughter have never been locked up in the chain locker of a ship, something I witnessed happening to young people and others several times while I was aboard the Apollo. She still sees Scientology as I saw it when I first joined and will never be allowed to see anything else, nor will she allow herself to believe written testimonies, such as mine.
In those early months, I saw Scientology as a group of very powerful, but gentle people who were working together to free people from their mental prisons and thus, to create a world without insanity or war where each person was granted dignity. As the months passed and I became more indoctrinated, I decided that Scientology, and only Scientology, had the tools to create such a world. I concluded that there was nothing more important than for me to be involved in Scientology. By March, 1971, I had dropped out of college to become a full-time Scientologist. One of my music teachers who I had been close to, Chris Tiemeyer, saw what was happening to me and became very concerned. I "handled" him by pointing out that Sally Peck, principal violist of the Utah Symphony and a respected member of the community, was involved in Scientology and felt it had done her a lot of good. (Sally was another example of a Scientology celebrity, on a local level.) Even though Chris continued to have some reservations, I eventually got him and his wife to come into the center and get some auditing. Neither of them got involved very deeply, however and their involvement was very brief. I think they were just curious to see what all the fuss was about.
Meanwhile, I was in my "honeymoon" phase with Scientology and felt I was making new discoveries each day about the secrets of the universe. It was exhilarating. I felt that I was living out the purpose I had been seeking all my life.
My first two years in Scientology (1971-1973) were spent working as a staff auditor at the franchise in Salt Lake City, when I wasn't away at a higher organization ("org") receiving training as an auditor In franchises, at least in those days, the heavy ethics (Scientology disciplinary tactics) that existed in higher orgs didn't exist in franchises, especially not the Salt Lake City franchise. The purpose of the franchise was to bring new people into Scientology. Franchise holders were allowed to earn a modest, but adequate living for themselves and gave ten percent of what they earned to Scientology. All this changed in 1982, when the franchises were taken over by a fanatical group in the upper echelon of Scientology and many franchise holders expelled. In 1971, however, the franchise was a very pleasant place to be. As a staff auditor, I received a small salary and lived in a house with 4 or 5 other Scientologists next door to the franchise. We shared the rent, which was $125 a month. Living conditions were not bad -- I'd say they were comparable to the average college student living off campus. In addition to my salary, I was also receiving $200 a month from my parents at the time, which I saved up to take more advanced Scientology courses.
Deon Satterfield, the franchise holder and my boss was a Class VI auditor and had achieved the state of OT III, considered in Scientology to be a very advanced state of awareness. Before becoming a Scientologist, Deon has been a harpist with the Utah Symphony. She and I developed a warm, close friendship and I admired her very much. She became my mentor. In many ways, Deon was a very independent person. Her dislike for higher Scientology organizations (not the courses or the auditing, but certain people in them) was obvious, though never openly stated. She was a kind person who never applied heavy discipline to her staff. As a result, working for the franchise was quite pleasant. She once told me that she could never work for an org. She said, "I'm just not an org person", but never explained herself further. She didn't dare. Later, I came to understand exactly what she meant.
In 1971, there was no Cult Awareness Network and no exit counselling. The only alternatives concerned parents had was either forcible deprogramming or to try to get their children out on their own. When my parents found out I had dropped out of school, they became very concerned. Years later, my mother told me that she and my father went to the library and did detailed research on Scientology. What they found out alarmed them even further. My father flew out to Salt Lake City all the way from Michigan to show me articles they had discovered and a book written by Paulette Cooper called The Scandal of Scientology -- a book she was to be endlessly harassed by Scientologists for writing. I read the articles and the book and summarily dismissed them as lies perpetuated by Suppressive Persons ("SP"s). An SP is a Scientology term for anyone who is against Scientology. Paulette Cooper, to me, was the very incarnation of evil. I pictured her as a miserable, tortured person who wanted to bring everyone else down with her. Her book told horror stories of Flag, LRH's home. I didn't believe them because I hadn't experienced anything like that at the franchise. I threw the articles and the book away and told my father it was all a pack of lies created by the press. I couldn't believe that my father has flown all this way to show me such rubbish! After seeing my reaction, he had no choice but to back off, but he let me know that he loved me and was very concerned.
My father's intervention was unsuccessful because, even in the first few months, mind control techniques were being used on me that I wasn't aware of. Here are some of the methods of indoctrination that were being used on me.
As a newcomer, I was introduced to a whole new language -- the "nomenclature of Scientology", as Hubbard liked to call it. Here are a few terms or phrases that I learned that were used to manipulate me and others:
A person who Q&As is a person, in the eyes of a Scientologist, who questions the intentions of Hubbard. Anybody who Q&As with an order is thought to be a weak person who isn't capable of completing a "cycle of action." The fact that the order might be quite ridiculous or irrational is never considered.
Hubbard wrote a bulletin called The Anti-Social Personality. This is must reading for any parent, friend or exit counsellor because it describes, in detail, what an SP is in the eyes of a Scientologist and anyone attempting an intervention would certainly be considered an SP. According to Hubbard, the SP has, at an earlier time (probably in a past life), committed a crime of great magnitude against humanity. This caused other people to heavily attack him. The SP is "stuck" in that incident and is continually acting it out, lashing out at anyone who is doing good (the good, of course, being Scientology!. He goes on to say that an SP might appear to be a very sweet, kind person, but underneath this veneer, he/she is a wretched tortured soul who wants nothing but to destroy everyone around him. There is no hope or salvation for such a person. The Scientologist in good standing is expected to "handle" or disconnect from any SP he/she happens to be connected with. In the case of someone who has left Scientology, the order is always to disconnect. There were times, in Scientology where children were made to disconnect from their parents if they got overly critical of Scientology and couldn't be "handled", but this practice was later discontinued because Hubbard said he had developed the "tech" to handle people who were connected to SPs. These people are known as "PTS", or Potential Trouble Sources, because of their connection to an SP. In actuality, I think this policy of disconnection from parents was discontinued because it created very bad PR for Scientology.
According to Hubbard, anyone who is critical of Scientology, a Scientologist in good standing, or wanting to leave Scientology has undisclosed "crimes" against it. An overt is any harmful act and a withhold is a failure to disclose that act. Scientologists are taught, practically from day one that if they have any critical thoughts about Scientology they must then ask themselves, "What overts have I committed against Scientology?" If someone is being audited and voices to the auditor a critical thought, the auditor must immediately ask, "What have you done?" What eventually happens is that the person stops thinking critical thoughts. We were told, as auditors, to get actual deeds because a critical thought is only a symptom of an underlying crime.
Whenever a person wants to leave Scientology, the first action taken is to "pull their overts and withholds", meaning to get the person to disclose what harmful acts he has committed against the group and any other crimes the auditor can dig up. This is done by what is known as a security check, or "sec check", which is a series of questions designed to discover crimes. This procedure, like all auditing, is done with the aid of an E-Meter, a device that is supposed to measure electrical charge around the person, which is supposed to indicate what is going on in a person's mind. For example, a person might be asked, "Have you ever stolen anything from the organization?" and the needle on the E-meter falls. This is supposed to indicate that something is going on in the person's mind with regard to that question. The person might answer, "I stole a pencil once." The question is then repeated and if the needle reacts again, the person is expected to tell more. The question is repeated until it is clean, meaning the needle no longer reacts.
In normal auditing, the auditor is expected to follow an auditor's code, which states that the auditor must not evaluate for the PC, invalidate him, or get angry with him in session. The code also states that the auditor must never reveal what a PC has said in session. This code is completely disregarded in a sec check and the auditor is expected to do whatever he has to to get the information. Anyone who wants to leave Scientology and voices such a desire is subjected to hours, sometimes even days and weeks of sec checking to find out what "crimes" they have committed against Scientology. Evidence in recent court cases has been introduced that indicates that information people had revealed, not only in sec checks, but in regular auditing has been used against Scientologists if they ever leave the group and try to make trouble. The information in their PC folders is used as blackmail against them. When I was an auditor, I was unaware that this was being done. I thought that the data told to me as an auditor that I recorded in the PC's folder was being kept strictly confidential.
As an auditor, I employed this thought stopping technique on many of my PCs. If they ever voiced a critical thought against someone in the organization, I would immediately ask them, "What have you done?" Hubbard described the O/W phenomenon in detail, in a way that seemed to make sense to me at the time. According to Hubbard, this is how it goes: A person commits an overt against the group. Man, however, is basically good, even the most corrupt person. When a person commits an overt, because he is good, he feels that he has to separate himself from the group so he won't continue to harm them. This act of separation causes the person to be critical of the group so he can convince himself that the group is bad and thus, individuate (as Hubbard calls it) from it. Through his criticism of the group, the person then justifies the act of leaving, or "blowing".
When a person stops his critical thoughts about Scientology by asking "What overts have I committed?", it takes his attention off what is wrong with Hubbard and Scientology and turns it back in on himself. This greatly hampers a person's ability to think rationally and objectively about Scientology because any critical thoughts are stopped dead in their tracks, no matter how legitimate.
If you are ever involved in an intervention with someone who is steeped in the doctrine of Scientology, you can be certain that as doubts began to creep up from the information you give him, he will be asking himself, "What overts have I committed?", whether he voices this thought or not.
These are only a few of the many loaded Scientology terms. For a more complete list, I suggest looking at a Scientology dictionary and discussing with an ex-member how these terms are used to enslave people.
Another mind control technique used very early on in Scientology is to give a very dreary view of the world outside of Scientology. Non-Scientologists are referred to as "Wogs" or "Raw Meat" and were looked down upon as being on a very low level of spiritual development. The outside world is referred to as the wog world, which was a dreary place filled with people who were controlled by their reactive minds (the abberated part of their minds) and therefore in a semi-conscious daze. True happiness and fulfillment was impossible for a wog. I can remember very early on in my involvement in Scientology, reading about people who left Scientology and attacked it who were so guilt-ridden that they went insane or got sick and died -- all propaganda to make sure we never left or spoke out against Scientology. I vowed that I would never leave Scientology and it was inconceivable that I would ever speak out or write publicly against Scientology. My cult self would have been horrified at what I am doing right now.
The idea of retribution for leaving was so firmly indoctrinated into my mind that it affected me eleven and a half years after leaving the group, since I had walked out of the cult without receiving any exit counselling. At that time, I read Bent Corydon's book, L. Ron Hubbard, Messiah or Madman, which to my amazement, contained many events that I had personally experienced. I had a strong desire to write to him so I could get in touch with some of the people he mentioned in the book who had been in Scientology with me and had since left. I wrote the letter, but I never sent it because I had terrifying thoughts of retribution. What if someone broke into Bent Corydon's home and found my letter and came after me? That same week, I caught a terrible cold, which subconsciously made me feel I was being punished for my intentions. I decided I'd better put the whole thing out of my mind, which I halfway managed to do. It wasn't until several months later, when I read a book called Combatting Cult Mind Control, by Steven Hassan that I realized the extent of the mind control I had been under and decided it was time to fight for my constitutional right of free speech. I may incur threats from Scientologists, but I realize that the only way to stop the insanity that is continually getting worse in this group is for people to refuse to be intimidated and to speak out.
By the spring of 1971, I had finished the Dianetics course and was officially certified as a Dianetic auditor, the first level of an auditors training. Dianetic auditing deals with psychosomatic illnesses and unwanted emotions by having the PC re-experience traumatic experiences from his past, through a very specific process that takes the PC back in time. This is, of course, a very simplified explanation. A detailed description of Dianetics is presented in the book, Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health, by L. Ron Hubbard. Modern Dianetic auditing technique is somewhat different from that described in the book, but the basic theory is the same.
Scientology has a detailed chart, describing the levels a person goes through in Scientology and exactly what results are promised upon completion of each level. There are two routes a person can go: 1) be trained as an auditor on each level and co-audit the Dianetic and Scientology processes with another student auditor or intern, or 2) be strictly a PC and pay to be audited on each grade, by the hour. The advanced courses are audited solo, meaning the PC audits himself, under the direction of a case supervisor. When I was involved in Scientology, auditing cost $50 an hour. On Flag, it was $100 an hour. Now, auditing is much more expensive.
Since I was interested in becoming both an auditor and a PC, I chose to do the training route. The Dianetics course was $500 and included co-auditing with another student. The next step in my training was called the Academy Levels, which cost $1,000 at the time. This course would train me to audit the Scientology grades (0-IV). Each grade dealt with a specific area and had a promised result or end phenomenon (called "EP", for short). For example, on Grade 0, the promised EP is the ability to communicate with anyone on any subject. One of the processes on that level was for the auditor to make up a list of topics the PC might be uncomfortable in discussing and ask, "What are you willing to tell me about (topic)?" and "Who else could you say those things to?" The PC answers each question, the auditor acknowledges the answer and repeats the questions. This cycle is continued until the end phenomenon of the process occurs. The end phenomenon of every process in auditing consists of three things: 1) a floating needle on the E-meter ("FN"), which is a reaction that is supposed to indicate that the preclear's mind is free with regard to that subject; 2) an insight, or "cognition" ("Cog"), as it is called in Scientologese; and 3) Very good indicators ("VGIs"), which basically means that the PC looks happy. When the PC has attained the end phenomenon of a particular process, the auditor can then go on to another process or end the session. Each grade consists of many processes. After each session, the PC is checked out on the E-meter by another person, called the examiner. The examiner notes the E-meter reaction, which should be a floating needle and how the PC looks. The auditor then writes up a full report of the session (including a running record of what the PC said in session that was recorded by the auditor during the session), attaches the exam report and sends it to the case supervisor ("CS"), who evaluates the session and decides what the next action should be. If the PC has VGIs and an FN at the exam and the auditor has run the processes correctly, the CS gives the session a "Very Well Done". If the PC looked unhappy at the exam (referred to as a "bad exam report" or "BER") or had any E-meter reaction other than a floating needle, it is always assumed that the auditor did something wrong and is sent back to review the materials. This is called cramming. The CS would write in the instructions, "Flunk, Auditor to Cramming" and list what materials must be studied. The folder is then red-tagged and the PC must be taken back in session with in 24-hours and the "mistake" corrected. If the auditor makes too many mistakes, he can be sent back to redo the course and is sometimes sent to an ethics officer, the person who is in charge of the disciplinary aspect of Scientology. In the franchise I worked at, auditors were never sent to ethics, but this was a very common occurrence on Flag, as I will describe in more detail at a later point.
It wasn't easy for me to get the $1,000 together to do my Academy Levels, but I managed to scrape it together, being determined as I was. The academy levels were not offered in franchises, so I had to go to a higher org. I did Level 0 at the Las Vegas Org. While I was in Las Vegas, I attended a Scientology conference. It was at this conference that I first heard about the Sea Org, the inner sanctum of Scientology.
Joining the Sea Org is the ultimate commitment to Scientology. To join the Sea Org, a person signs a one billion year contract. Sea Org members work in the larger and more advanced Scientology organizations around the world and, in exchange receive room and board and a small allowance ($10 a week, at the time). From these Sea Org members, a very elite group was selected to live on the Flagship Apollo, the home of L. Ron Hubbard. Flag was described to me as "the sanest space on earth". Sea Org members believed that they had worked together before in past lives and were now together once again. The motto of the Sea Org is "We come back." The goal of the Sea Org was to "clear the planet", meaning to make this a Scientology planet. After planet earth was cleared, we would go into outer space, in future lives, and spread Scientology throughout the galaxy. From the time I first heard about the Sea Org, it was my dream to live aboard the Flagship with Hubbard and be an auditor there. I knew that someday I would reach that goal; it was only a question of when.
In May of 1971, I flew out to Los Angeles with my friend, Ginger, to find out more about joining the Sea Org. We visited the headquarters in Los Angeles, which served as a liaison office between Flag and the land-based orgs. The location of Flag was kept secret and no one was allowed to directly communicate with people on Flag. All communication had to go through the Flag Liaison Office ("FOLO"). Most of the staff at FOLO didn't even know the location of Flag. The reason for all this secrecy was that Hubbard was extremely paranoid about people who were out to get him, especially United States government organizations, such as the IRS and CIA. All this mystery added to my sense of romance and adventure about being on Flag.
At FOLO, I saw very busy people who seemed very dedicated to what they were doing. I felt I had been a part of this group in past lifetimes and felt an immediate urge to join. I spoke to a recruiter, a red-haired woman about 25 years old named Brenda. I told Brenda about my feelings for the group and she supported them further by saying what a strong, purposeful group it was. It never occurred to me, at this point, to bring up things such as food, living conditions or schedules. I considered such things mundane. I did, however, have one concern that I voiced to her. I wanted to know if I would be able to get trained as an auditor in the Sea Org since, at the time, I was only a Dianetic auditor. Not being very advanced at the time, I was concerned that I would be given a menial job and not be able to train, but she gave me the impression that I could.
I was all set to join, but being under 21, I needed my parents' written permission to join. That night, I called my parents long distance, collect, from my hotel room. My parents refused to sign and a big screaming match ensued over the phone for about an hour. I was furious with them and they sharply criticized Scientology. Needless to say, this did not help to promote good relations between us. When I hung up, I cried all night. I felt so frustrated and angry with them. I was more determined than ever to stay in Scientology, even if I couldn't join the Sea Org. I was determined that my parents' refusal to let me join would only be a temporary setback and that when I was 21, I would join.
A few months later, I managed to convince my parents to sign permission for me to join. I'm not sure how I managed this, but I think they saw how much their criticism of Scientology had alienated me from them and felt that if there was any hope for any kind of a relationship with me at all, they'd better keep their critical thoughts to themselves and do what I wanted. I'm sure it was a very difficult decision for them to make, especially without anyone around they could turn to for advice.
The second time I returned to FOLO in July of 1971, I intended to join, but two factors changed my mind. First, this time, I saw the terrible living conditions under which staff members at FOLO lived. They lived in a rundown house that looked as if it should have been condemned by the Board of Health. There were about eight people to a room and they slept in a dingy basement on filthy mattresses. I visited the galley, where the food was prepared and that further appalled me. The people preparing the food were peeling the outer leaves off slimy rotten lettuce that was ridden with maggots. I asked them how they could eat such rotten food and they didn't seem at all concerned. My thought at the time was that if Hubbard knew about the terrible living conditions at FOLO, he would be very angry. I had always thought that Scientology respected the dignity of each person, no matter how low their position -- a quality that was certainly lacking at FOLO.
The second reason I decided not to join was that they would not promise me I could train as an auditor. I would have to take whatever job was given to me, which, given my current bevel of training, would have been menial, such as being a filer in the mimeo department or, God forbid, a worker in the kitchen. Since I had set definite goals for myself that did not include taking such a position, I decided that the best thing for me to do was to wait to join the Sea Org until I had reached a higher level of training as an auditor. This would virtually guarantee me a good position in the Sea Org as an auditor. I would pay for my training on my own, outside of the Sea Org. In the Sea Org, members were trained and audited free of charge.
My plan was to remain on staff at the franchise as an auditor, making intermittent trips to higher orgs to be trained as an auditor, at my own expense. That summer, I continued my training on the Academy Levels at the org in Los Angeles.
As a part of each level of training as an auditor, we were required to do TRs (Training Routines). The purpose of TRs was to teach the auditors to be in good communication with the PC. The first, most basic TR was called TR-0. In TR-0, the auditor is required to sit face-to-face with another person (in this case, another student), maintaining eye contact and "just be there". No twitches, movements, breaks in eye contact, or even thinking is permitted. To pass this drill, we had to do this for a period of two hours. I had done TRs on earlier courses and normally it was no problem for me to pass TR-0. However, that summer, Hubbard got the bright idea that we all had to do TR-0 without blinking. This had always been in the instructions, but no one had taken it literally before this. Hubbard called TR-0 without blinking, TRs the hard way. He should have called it TRs, the impossible way. Going without blinking for two hours is, for all practical purposes, physically impossible so the courses soon filled up with people who could not get past TR-0. The supervisor kept a close eye on us and if we blinked, we would have to begin the 2 hours all over again. For about 2 months, I spent up to 12 hours a day, along with hundreds of others, trying to pass TR-0. Doing TR-0 for this long had the effect of putting me into a trance state, similar to the state people go into when they meditate for long periods of time. Sometimes, I lost all sense of time and felt completely separate from my body. At other times, I felt very frustrated at being unable to pass. Deep down, I felt this was ridiculous, but LRH had ordered it and no one dared to question an LRH order. Whenever I had doubts, I told myself that I hadn't understood the real purpose of the drill and that I should persist. Occasionally, someone would pass, which gave credibility to the farce. I'm sure these people didn't go for two hours without blinking; their blinking was simply missed by the supervisor who, after all, couldn't catch every single instance.
After a few months, someone, probably Hubbard, realized that Scientology was losing money on TRs the hard way because people were stuck on courses, unable to move on and, thus, pay for their next level. The rules for TR-0 were finally relaxed and we were allowed to blink, as long as the other requirements for the drill were met. Because I had been in LA for so long, I decided to return to the franchise in Salt Lake City for awhile and work as an auditor before continuing my training.
In December, 1971, I went to San Francisco to complete my Academy Levels. The course was very intensive, beginning at 9:00 AM and ending at 10:30 PM, with short breaks for meals. I could have done the course only during the day, but I wanted to get through it faster, so I chose this schedule. As part of the course, I audited someone to Grade IV. He was a wonderful preclear, who was very insightful and thrilled with the results of his auditing. Even though San Francisco was a higher level organization than the franchise in Salt Lake City, there was still not the heavy discipline of auditors at the time that existed on Flag. If I made a mistake, I was simply sent back to review the materials. I had no problem getting through the course.
I returned, once again, to the Salt Lake City franchise as a Class IV auditor, which made me very valuable to them because I could now deliver any auditing service that the franchise was able to offer people.
I spent the winter and spring of 1972 living in Salt Lake City and working as an auditor for the franchise, a job I enjoyed. At this point, no one tried to control my personal life. What I did in my spare time was considered to be my business. For the most part, I got along well with the rest of the staff. One friend of mine, an artist named Steve, had gone to LA and done the advanced course up to a level called OT III. OT stands for operating thetan. Thetan is the Scientology word for spirit. An operating thetan is a thetan who is able to operate without the need of a body and has control over the physical universe, which consists of matter, energy, space and time. Hubbard believed that the physical universe was entirely a creation of the thetan and reality, according to Hubbard, was what a group of thetans agreed upon. Hubbard never mentioned the concept of God, even though Scientology was called a "church". The highest level of OT at the time I was in Scientology was OT VIII and the EP was supposed to be that the person was "at cause over matter, energy, space and time". OT VIII had not yet been released (how convenient!), but we were told that it was to be released in the near future. Today, Scientologists are enticed by even higher OT levels that are promised to be released someday.
The materials of all the OT levels were keep secret, but OT III was supposed to be the big one. No one is allowed to see the materials of an OT level until they have completed all levels up to that one. We were told that if someone looked at the OT III materials before they were ready, they would go insane and eventually die. Steve told me that OT III was just incredible; that after looking at the materials, he understood things that he had wondered about all his life. OT III explained everything! Naturally, I was very curious to find out what OT III was all about and was very eager to get enough money together to do the advanced courses. This is exactly the effect Hubbard had intended to have on people by making OT III such a mystery.
By June, 1972, I had saved up enough money to go back to LA and take my next level of training, which was called the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course. This course was originally taught by Hubbard at Saint Hill Manor in England and consisted largely of taped lectures from the original course. Upon completion of that course, I would be considered a highly trained auditor -- a Class VI. While I was in LA, I also got audited on Grade V, Power, and went on to do Grade VI (the first advanced course, which is audited solo) and then the Clearing Course, where I attained the state of Clear. The promised EP of Clear was to be at cause over mental matter, energy, space and time. This means that I would be at cause over the contents of my own mind, but not necessarily what went on in the physical world. The OT levels, which came after Clear, were designed for that purpose. On October 8, 1972, I attained the state of Clear. On this level I came to the realization that I, myself, had created the contents of my mind and could, therefore, be in control of it. I felt extremely powerful and exhilarated and wanted to share my joy with everyone around me. I believed that the best way for me to do this was to dedicate myself fully to Scientology and join the Sea Org. When I returned to Salt Lake City in October, 1972, I knew that I would soon return to LA and make this final commitment.
OT III was the last thing I wanted to do before signing my one billion year Sea Org contract, so in January, 1973, I went to LA to do my OT levels through OT III. The Advanced Organization of Los Angeles (AOLA) was the only place in the U.S. where these courses were offered. These advanced levels are audited solo, meaning the preclear audits himself, with the aid of an E-meter. OT III, at that time, cost about $850 and I stayed in an apartment across the street from AOLA while I was auditing this level.
It seems incredible to me now that I accepted, without question, the materials of the advanced courses, particularly OT III. It just demonstrates how thoroughly indoctrinated I was at the time. I never heard of one case where someone saw the OT III materials and rejected them as a fantasy. That only shows what an expert Hubbard was when it came to indoctrination. The OT III materials were kept secret for a very good reason, that reason being that if someone were to see the OT III materials too early in the indoctrination process, they would never believe it and probably dismiss Scientology as ridiculous. To the horror of Scientologists, there are now two books out that reveal the OT III materials, the first one written by Bob Kaufman in 1972 and the second one written recently by Bent Corydon.
A word of caution: Scientologists are told that if they see the OT III materials before they are "ready", they will go insane, not be able to sleep, get sick and eventually die, and they believe it! For this reason, I would not suggest revealing OT III materials to a person during an exit counselling if they haven't seen them, not because it is true, but because the suggestion that they will go insane might act upon them as a post-hypnotic suggestion and they might respond to it by actually "getting sick" or even going insane. In my opinion, it simply isn't worth the risk.
At the time I did OT III, the entire level was audited solo, unless repairs were needed. Today, there is much more involved in doing OT III and a person can spend thousands of dollars getting audited on this level. It took me about two weeks of daily solo auditing to get through OT III. The EP that was promised to us was return of full self-determinism, which I attested to. I felt like I had the world in the palm of my hand and I felt, on an even deeper level, that my mission was to join the Sea Org so I could commit myself more fully to making this a Scientology planet.
Little did I know that self-determinism of any kind was impossible in the Sea Org and that every waking moment of my time was to be controlled by the whims of L. Ron Hubbard or some other Sea Org officer. I was about to find out what Scientology was really all about.
In February, 1973, I returned to Salt Lake City to get the rest of my belongings together and move to LA, where I would be joining the Sea Org as an AOLA staff member. This time, since I was an OT III, Class VI auditor, doors were open to me as a Sea Org member that would not have been open previously when I had very little training and auditing. My training and experience as an auditor were considered to be of great value to the Sea Org and I would immediately be given a position as an auditor, with opportunities to train to the highest level possible, free of charge.
When I told Deon, the franchise holder in Salt Lake City, that I was joining the Sea Org, she was very angry at me. She accused me of being an opportunist, using the franchise as a stepping stone to get what I wanted. I felt badly about what she said, since we had once been very close, but I also realized that I had a right to move on. After all, I had paid for my own training and auditing outside the franchise and didn't feel I owed her anything. In retrospect, I think she was upset because she knew what the Sea Org was really like and what would be in store for me. She knew several leaders in Scientology and had heard the stories of the heavy ethics. She had probably had a taste of it herself, having studied at Saint Hill in the late 1960s. Of course, she didn't dare criticize the Sea Org to me. She just said that she was "not an org person" and wouldn't elaborate further.
In late February, 1973, I returned to LA and finally signed the contract for one billion years. Even though I was very excited, I had a bad gut feeling about the group. I explained it away by saying that things would be better on Flag. Right after joining, I came down with a bad cold and laryngitis, so I stayed in a hotel for a week before moving in with the group. During that time, I felt weepy and depressed, but I paid no attention to my feelings and quickly dismissed any thoughts I might have had that I made a mistake in joining the Sea Org.
When I got better, I moved into one of the houses where the staff members lived. Right from the start, I was difficult and argumentative. At first, I was shown to a small room where four people lived in bunk beds. I refused to stay there, so I was eventually given a larger room that I shared with just one other person. Refusing accomodations was not something that was normally done or accepted in the Sea Org, but I got away with it because of the clout I had as a highly trained auditor and OT. When a Scientologist who has not attained the state of Clear and OT is faced with an OT, they are usually in awe and go into a kind of trance state. At the time, I was not aware of this phenomenon on a conscious level, but, subconsciously, I picked it up and used it to get what I wanted. On Flag, however, this was not the case because there were so many clears and OTs and being around one didn't phase anyone.
My job as a staff member at AOLA was to audit clears and OTs who needed additional auditing to supplement and repair the auditing that they had already received so they would be prepared to audit themselves on the advanced levels. One of the people that I audited was Anne Burgess, a top level person in the Guardian's Office, which was run by Mary Sue Hubbard, L. Ron Hubbard's wife. Anne and I developed a very good rapport and she was very pleased with the auditing she received from me. Word of her auditing got back to Mary Sue, who personally invited me to come to Flag and to train as a Flag auditor. I considered it a great honor to be singled out by the wife of L. Ron Hubbard. Going to Flag to live on the ship with Hubbard and the elite of the Sea Org had been a dream of mine for two years -- a dream that I had worked very hard and had overcome many obstacles to realize. My dream was finally about to come true.
In May, 1973, I left for the Flagship Apollo, "the sanest place on the planet", I had been told many times. After getting inoculations for small pox and cholera, I flew to New York City where I was met by someone who told me what my destination was to be: Lisbon, Portugal. All this secrecy enhanced my sense of adventure and excitement. In Lisbon, I met someone else, who put me on a plane to Oporto, Portugal. I was told never to mention Scientology to anyone outside of the ship. We were to use the official "shore story", which was that we were company executives being trained by a management corporation, called Operation Transport Corp. ("OTC", which was a Panamanian Corporation), which offered business courses aboard the ship.
I arrived in Oporto in the afternoon and was taken to the ship, which was at anchor at the time. Upon boarding the ship, someone took my passport away from me, which was to be locked up in a safe that I had no access to. I was so excited about being on Flag, I didn't even question this action, assuming there must have been a good reason. There was: taking our passports made it very hard for us to leave, but that was not a reason I thought of at the time. After a brief medical check, I was given linen and shown to my quarters, which was a dark, dingy room below decks with bunk beds stacked in three tiers. About 50 women lived in this dormitory, which was very stuffy. A similar men's dormitory was across the hall. By that time, I had been up for more than 24 hours and was fully feeling the effects of jet lag, as well as the Cholera shot I had received, so I was in somewhat of a daze. I vaguely remember asking someone if there were any better accomodations aboard, but of course, there weren't; not for me. On Flag I wasn't anyone special. I was an intern training to be a Flag auditor and there were many people aboard the ship who were as or more highly trained than I was. The only people on the ship who got private cabins were married couples and very high ranking officers, and even those quarters were very small and cramped, with barely enough room in most of them for a bed and a small sink. I resigned myself to the fact that the women's dorm is where I would be living, which was a very noisy place, with 50 people sharing the space. For some reason, the particular bunk I had was surrounded by wooden boards on three sides, making me feel as if I were enclosed in a coffin. I was exhausted and was allowed to sleep until noon the next day. When I awoke, I was very drowsy and disoriented. For a few horrifying moments, I couldn't find my way out of the bunk and felt as if I was trapped in a coffin. The dorm was pitch dark. Finally, I became more fully conscious and found my way out. In spite of the dingy living quarters, I was very excited to be on Flag.
I was given a briefing in more detail on the shore story we were to tell outsiders. No one, not even other Scientologists outside of Flag, was to know the location of the ship. If someone wanted to write to us, they had to write to the address of the liaison office, either in LA or New York and the letters were forwarded to us from these offices. This meant everyone, including parents. I'm sure my parents were frantic, not knowing where I was, but I didn't think about that at the time. My parents seemed very far away.
I was taken on a brief tour of the ship. Directly above the dormitories, still below decks was a lounge called the aft lounge (being located in the aft part of the ship). It was fairly large and during mealtimes, makeshift tables were put between rows of chairs and the lounge was used as a dining room for some of the crew. I noticed teen-age girls ironing clothes. These girls would do nothing but iron and wash clothes all day. Later I found out that they were in training to be personal messengers to LRH. Once they made it to the position of LRH messenger, these girls were extremely cocky, drunk on the power that LRH gave them. Some of these girls are now in their late 20s and among the top executives in Scientology today.
Just behind the aft lounge was a room where the chain locker was. The chain locker is the place where the chain to the anchor of the ship is kept when the ship if not at anchor, a very small dark place. Many times I saw people being locked up in the chain locker as punishment. I'll never forget the first time I saw this. Some messengers had locked up a terrified young teenage boy in the chain locker. His punishment was to spend the night there. I didn't know what he was being punished for, but the whole incident made my blood run cold. I'll never forget the terrified look in that boy's eyes. Whenever I think about the current leadership of the church, which consists mainly of people who were raised in such an atmosphere, I can only feel pity for these people, who are really just frightened children. As badly as I felt about what I witnessed, I shut it out of my mind, explaining it away by saying that LRH could not possibly have known about it.
Shortly after my briefing, I was taken to the internship course room, where I was introduced to a supervisor, a stern, prim and proper woman in her mid-thirties with a serious pale freckled face and light brown hair that was tightly pulled back into a ponytail. She rarely smiled and I don't ever recall hearing her laugh. Life on Flag was a deadly serious affair. There were signs posted in the classroom saying something like (I don't recall the exact wording) "All I expect is perfection" and "The only exception to the rule that there are no absolutes is the Flag auditor", quotes from LRH. Our time was spent either studying materials, doing TRs or auditing preclears. There were about 10-15 interns on the ship who, like myself, had come from outer orgs to Flag for the purpose of being highly trained as Flag auditors and returning to our orgs. Our days were long, starting at 8:30 AM and ending at 10:30 PM. If our stats were up, meaning if we were doing well, we were allowed one day off every two weeks.
Every morning, all of the interns and auditors would assemble for a muster and we would recite, in unison the points of "Keeping Scientology Working" from a policy letter by L. Ron Hubbard. Some of these points were:
"Having the correct technology."
"Applying the correct technology."
"Hammering out of existence incorrect technology."
"Closing the door on any possibility of incorrect technology."
"Closing the door on incorrect applications."
In the same policy letter, Hubbard had said, "It's a tough universe and only the tigers survive." Flag, I was to learn very quickly, was a tough universe indeed!
Each day we were assigned PCs, usually staff members, to audit. Since I was OT III some of the people I audited were in high positions. One of the first people I audited was a kind, middle-aged woman who was head of a division and had been on the ship since the late 1960s.
A PC's entire auditing history is recorded, session by session, and put into folders. My first task, when I was assigned a particular PC, was to study that person's auditing folders in order to familiarize myself with the case. This particular woman had been on the ship since the late 1960s when discipline was very harsh. At that time, any auditor who made a mistake was ordered by LRH to be thrown overboard into freezing cold water. This woman had been thrown overboard, an event that was recorded in her folder, since she had to deal with this humiliating trauma in her auditing sessions. Once again, deep down, I was appalled that LRH would order such a thing, but I didn't allow myself to think about it. Having a critical thought about LRH would be considered a crime of the highest magnitude. I was very glad, however, that the practice of overboarding had been discontinued due to the bad PR it created with the locals.
In 1973, we were not thrown overboard, but plenty of other ways were invented to punish and humiliate us if our auditing wasn't up to par. If a PC had a bad exam report, meaning no floating needle at the exam (see my earlier description of the auditing process), the auditor was always to blame. The auditor is sent back to review earlier materials to see what was misunderstood. It was unthinkable to say that the auditing process didn't work. LRH's tech "always works". If results are not achieved, it is the auditor's and sometimes the case supervisor's fault, never the tech's because the tech was created by LRH and LRH never makes mistakes. In the case of a bad exam report, the folder is red-tagged and the PC must be taken back in session within 24 hours and the mistake corrected.
If an auditor goofs up too much or if LRH or whoever is in charge is in a bad mood, ethics is applied; to put it more simply, the auditor is punished. One of the ways in which an auditor or any other staff member in Scientology can be punished is to be assigned a lower ethics condition. Every staff member is assigned an ethics condition, each week, according to how well he does his job. His performance is measured by statistics ("stats"). For example, the statistic of a recruiter might be the number of people per week recruited into the org. The statistic for an auditor is the number of well done auditing hours. A person's statistic is expected to go up each week. If a person's stats are high, he is assigned an upper condition, such as normal operation, affluence or power and granted privileges, such as having a day off every two weeks. If a person's stats are down, he is assigned a lower condition, such as emergency, danger, non-existence or below. Each condition has a formula, which must be applied. Whenever a person starts a new job, he is considered to be in a condition of non-existence and must follow the formula, which is: 1) Find a communication line; 2) Make yourself known; 3) Find out what is needed and wanted; and 4) Do or produce it. Once this formula is completed, the person is upgraded to the next level until, hopefully, he attains normal operation or above.
If a person does something that is considered to be harmful to the group, he is assigned an ethics condition below non-existence. In descending order, these are: liability, doubt, enemy, treason and confusion. Along with doing the formulas for these conditions, the person is required to do extra work in his spare time (which means meal or sleep time) to make amends. On Flag it was very easy to be assigned a lower condition, especially for auditors and people on LRH's personal staff.
When I first arrived aboard Flag in May, 1973, Hubbard was not aboard. Nobody but a few people knew where he was. Years later, I found out that he had been living in Queens, New York with two other people. When Hubbard returned in September, discipline increased. I was very excited about Hubbard's return and seeing him in person for the first time. He kept his distance from most of the people aboard the ship, even top leaders who had come to Flag for training from outer orgs. He rarely spoke to anyone, except for his messengers and his top aides who worked directly under him. Sometimes, however, he would say hello to me when we passed. I would say "Hello, Sir" and he would nod in acknowledgement of my greeting.
I had thought that things would improve on the ship with Hubbard's arrival; perhaps, get more humane. I couldn't have been more mistaken. We, as Flag interns, were about to get a good strong taste of what it was like to be so close to "source". (LRH was often referred to as Source). Several new disciplinary policies were instituted within a few weeks of his arrival.
There were several personnel changes in our department. Jeff Walker, a Class 12 auditor from New Zealand was made intern supervisor; David Mayo, also a Class 12 from New Zealand was made Senior Case Supervisor; Quentin Hubbard and Russ Meadows were case supervisors under David; and Cathy Cariotaki was made Tech Sec, the executive in charge of the Technical Division, the division that dealt with auditing. Cathy Cariotaki presided over a new ritual that was invented as punishment for auditors who goofed up -- the ritual of sacrifice to the goddess Kali, goddess of death and destruction. An alter, with a hideous painting of Kali over it was built in the internship classroom. If an auditor had a bad exam report, the following ceremony would take place in a candlelit room:
A chorus of other interns and auditors would sing a hymn to the goddess Kali, sung to the tune of "Rock of Ages". The offender would come forward and kneel before the alter and say he/she was a worshipper of the goddess Kali and wanted chaos, death and destruction. The person was then given a knife and a fake preclear and told to "stab the preclear", at which time the person had to thrust the knife into the folder. I had to participate in such a ceremony twice. It was very humiliating and upsetting. We all deeply resented what was happening, but nobody dared to speak up or refuse to participate. Such refusal would probably result in getting kicked off the ship in disgrace, a fate worse than any punishment. By that time, I had been so thoroughly indoctrinated in Scientology propaganda, that to be outside of Scientology was to live in a hell on earth and that my soul would be condemned to a very low level of existence for all eternity. Ultimately, I had to go along with any punishment that was meted out, although, at times, I fought hard against it. I became known as a troublemaker on the ship, because if I saw something I didn't like, I spoke up. I got into trouble more times than anyone on the ship, it seemed. There was still a part of me that had not been conquered that was fighting the manipulation inflicted upon us and that part of me was furious. Here I was on Flag, having reached a goal I had worked very hard for and that dream had become a living hell. I was emotionally, mentally and spiritually devastated.
This devastation took its toll on me for years after leaving the group. When I first joined, I had been a bright, adventurous 18-year-old with high ideals and shining goals on the horizon of my life. I was willing to give my all to achieving those goals. I just didn't take no for an answer. If I had channeled all that energy into a legitimate career for myself, I would have been well on my way to a happy, rewarding life. However, all that vital energy was sucked up into the whirlpool of a cult, dominated by a madman. I was drained. To me, subconsciously, success and achievement of my goals meant devastation because that is what happened to me when I achieved my goals in Scientology. For years after leaving Scientology, I couldn't seem to get any sort of career off the ground. I would start to pursue something, but never follow through. It is only now that I am getting counselling from people who understand cult phenomena that I am able to see what happened to me, put my life back together and get on with it.
Fortunately, there was a healthy part of me that fought very hard to stay alive and was never completely killed, but there was also my cult identity, which was equally strong. My cult identity condemned the healthy part of me for my outbursts. I was constantly asking myself, "What's wrong with me?" "Why is it that everyone else seems so content with their life on the ship and I feel so angry? There is something very wrong with me, and I have got to wipe it out."
Years later when I read accounts of other people in the same predicament, I realized that I was not the only one on the ship who was unhappy; I just expressed it more than other people. Recently, I spoke with a woman who was one of the top auditors on Flag and has since left Scientology. She never got into trouble, but, according to what she said, she was not happy with the situation on Flag. She hated the Kali ceremonies. To deal with it, she told herself that it wouldn't last. The Kali ceremonies didn't last for long, but there was always another atrocity to replace the earlier ones.
It always amazed me and other people on the ship that I got away with saying so much without getting kicked out. One person who couldn't stand me commented that I seemed to have "nine lives" and that I should have been kicked out long ago. It never happened, however. Even when I left, I was invited to come back a year later with no ethics penalties. I have a theory as to why this was the case. Several years after leaving the group, I took a course on family therapy. I learned that in dysfunctional families, there is one member of the family who has symptoms and acts out, while the rest of the family might seem normal. That person, usually a child, is seen as the sick one. Perhaps the child has attempted suicide, has a drug problem, or is having trouble in school. What is actually happening, according to this theory, is that the child's behavior is a symptom of a dysfunction that exists in the family, as a whole. By working with the entire family, the child's problems can be greatly alleviated. I think that this theory can be applied to dysfunctional groups, i.e., cults. Cults seem to have a few people around that constantly cause trouble and speak their mind, but don't get kicked out. I was playing such a role in Scientology. I was considered a troublemaker and, therefore, sick. In reality, however, I was really only manifesting symptoms that were due to dysfunctional group. The group, as a whole, seemed to have a need to have someone around to act out what, deep down, everyone was feeling. This is one reason why my behavior was so upsetting to people in the group. I was expressing what they felt, but didn't want to admit to feeling, but at the same time, the group needed for me to express these feelings. My expression served as an outlet for the group as a whole.
I observed this same phenomenon at work on a recent Sally Jessy Raphael show on the Hare Krishnas. There was a woman on who was a former member, who was always considered a troublemaker in the group. There were members of the Hare Krishnas in the audience, one of whom commented to the woman, "You always did exactly as you wanted in the group." The woman answered that she felt she had been the only one to speak up when she saw atrocities occurring, such as child abuse. It appears that she played a similar role to the one I played in Scientology. I would like to look at other groups to see if this phenomenon exists.
Expressing emotions on behalf of the entire group did not make life easy for me, to say the least. Things continued to get worse for me. One night, around midnight, I had just fallen asleep when we were all awakened and told we were to go to the classroom and write letters to the paying public, telling them about how great things were on Flag and to invite them to come to the ship for auditing. After all I had been through with the Kali ceremonies and other nonsense over the past few months, promoting Flag was the last thing I wanted to do! This was the last straw for me. I completely lost control of my temper and blurted out, "If I wrote the truth about how things were here, nobody would want to come to Flag." I was immediately assigned a condition of Treason by Cathy Cariotaki. To speak in such a blasphemous way about the home of L. Ron Hubbard was considered an act of Treason to the group. Free speech was not a right we enjoyed. I had to wear a red armband, identifying me as a traitor to the group and do amends in the galley. Making a statement such as the one I had made was unthinkable to most people in the group, but, deep down, I think many people were feeling the same way I was, but didn't dare admit it, even to themselves.
One might ask, if I was so aware of what was going on, then why did I stay? The truth was that I was just as indoctrinated as anyone else. I still believed very strongly in the purpose of Scientology and my cult identity was very strong; it was just that the healthy part of me had not yet been suppressed and, as a result, I felt an intense inner conflict between my real identity and my cult identity.
Things continued to go downhill for me. One day, which happened to be my 21st birthday, I had the morning off (just a coincidence, we weren't given time off on our birthdays). Were were on the island of Tenerife, which is one of the Canary Islands owned by Spain, located off the coast of Africa. I went ashore to see the town and do some shopping. One of the things I most liked about being on the ship was getting to visit such exotic places. When I returned, I found out that I was in trouble. It seemed that my PC had a bad exam report and I was not supposed to have left the ship before handling the situation. I had to participate in a Kali ceremony. I can remember thinking to myself, "This is not how I ever expected to spend my 21st birthday, a time when most people are out celebrating being officially an adult." But then I chided myself for having such "wog" thoughts, reminding myself that I had chosen to live an extraordinary life with an extraordinary purpose -- that of Scientology. After the ceremony, I was sent to spend four hours in the crows nest. The crows nest was the equivalent of at least a four story building and I had to climb up a very narrow ladder to get there. I felt shame, guilt and a great deal of anger. While I was climbing, I had the thought, "All I have to do is let go of the ladder and that would be it? What if I just let go?" That thought really terrified me and I held on even tighter. I really didn't want to die. When I got up there, I was shaking all over. I was supposed to spend the four hours thinking about what I had done and writing up my overts and withholds. The view from up there was beautiful, but I was too upset to enjoy it. I was dreading the climb back down, but I got through it.
Later that day, the ship sailed. It was a very rough trip and we were lost for three days in a storm. I got very seasick and stayed in my bunk the whole time, unable to get up, except to go to the bathroom. After a few futile attempts by Jeff Walker to get me out of bed, nobody bothered me because everyone else was either in the same condition or on watch. When we finally arrived, those of us who had been seasick were severely chastised. From the first trip, I had been prone to seasickness if the sea was at all rough and had been told it was my fault I was seasick. Dramamine was made available to us, but if I took it I felt drowsy and spaced out, so I tried to avoid taking it. Besides, dramamine was a drug and taking any drugs, even over-the-counter ones was frowned upon in Scientology. I sat through many sessions with preclears turning green, not knowing if I was going to make it through the session. Somehow, I always managed to make it. I would end the session and make it to the bathroom just in time to avoid disaster.
Although things continued to get worse for me, there was one bright spot for me: the friendship that was developing between Quentin Hubbard and myself. I got to know Quentin when we all did TRs together and sometimes he would be my partner. Quentin and I liked each other from the start. For one thing, we shared a sense of humor and that was unusual on the ship. We always found ways to make each other laugh in a place where there was so little joy and laughter.
In November, 1973, Hubbard came up with an idea to handle troublemakers, backsliders or anyone else aboard who happened to displease him. He created the Rehabilitation Project Force (the "RPF"), the Sea Org's version of a prison camp. RPFers were to do hard physical labor all day and in the evenings were to audit one another to get off their overts and withholds and deal with their evil intentions. RPFers were not allowed to speak to a crew member in good standing, unless spoken to and had to wear black boiler suits. They were allowed to eat only after everyone else on the ship had finished and were not allowed to leave the ship. Hubbard considered RPFers to be psychotic criminals that should be grateful that he was giving them a chance to be rehabilitated. Isn't it strange that some of Scientology's top leaders today, including Pat Broeker and Norman Starkey have been on the RPF? Most Scientology executives have, at one time or another, been on the RPF.
Once Hubbard had conceived of the RPF, he had his assistants go through PC folders of everyone on board, looking for a particular E-meter read, called a rockslam. Rockslams, according to Hubbard, indicated that the person had committed high crimes against Scientology and was, therefore, psychotic. Anyone with a rockslam recorded in his folder was a candidate for the RPF. We were also given a personality test called the OCA. Anyone with a low score could also be sent to the RPF. In addition to these people, anyone who was considered to have intentions contrary to that of the group could be sent to the RPF. I can remember one woman on Hubbard's personal household staff was sent to the RPF because he thought she was trying to poison him. Actually, she worshipped the man and would have sooner poisoned herself than him. People from the household unit were RPFed with great regularity. The closer a person was to LRH, the more likely they were to eventually be sent to the RPF.
The whole process of deciding who was going to the RPF took about two months. During that time, everyone aboard was quaking in their boots. The air was thick with tension -- everyone was terrified at the prospect of going to the RPF. I was particularly worried because I had gotten into trouble so often. I knew my name would be on the list and I dreaded it, but I kept hoping that by some miracle I would not be on the list.
On January 10, 1974, the list of people being sent to the RPF was finally released and, sure enough, I was on it, along with about 15 other people. We were awakened early that morning and shown the ethics order. I had been expecting it, but I was still in a state of shock that it had actually happened to me, as were other people on the list. I can remember one woman who had been on the list, immediately started packing her suitcase, saying she wasn't going to stay and stand for this, but she ended up staying. Another one of the people on that original list of RPFers was Norman Starkey, who currently holds a very high position in Scientology. The number of people in the RPF increased rapidly. It seemed that every day someone new was being "busted", as we liked to call it. There were several other auditors and interns on the RPF.
It is difficult to describe the pain I felt that day. One moment, I would feel numb with shock and the next, I would burst into uncontrollable tears. The others in the RPF were going through the same thing and within a few days, we developed a common bond of empathy for one another. We had our own private RPF jokes and songs. This unity we felt, saved what little was left of our dignity and there was a strong agreement among us that we would stick together and pull each other through. What happened among us is a great tribute to the strength of the human spirit, although most of us wrongly attributed this positive unity to Hubbard and thanked him for inventing the RPF. Now I realize that that was about as ridiculous as it would be for a Jewish person who survived the holocaust to thank Hitler for inventing concentration camps. We got through this experience on the RPF in spite of Hubbard, not because of Hubbard.
In a way, once we got over the initial shock, being on the RPF was a relief to most of us because there were no more threats about being sent to the RPF -- we were already there. We had hit bottom.
When we were first assigned to the RPF, we were told we could contest it by requesting a Committee of Evidence, Scientology's version of a trial. I had requested such a committee and my close friend, Quentin Hubbard was assigned as Chairman of my committee and also the committee of Lisa Zanda, another friend of his. He had no choice but to find me guilty and uphold the decision that I remain on the RPF. No other verdict would have been considered acceptable.
A few days later, Quentin was missing from the ship and a search party was sent out to find him. While the search party was out, Quentin came back aboard the ship and confessed to a messenger that he had taken a whole bottle of pills. The messenger told his father and after his stomach was pumped, he was put into isolation in his cabin for about a month. He was not allowed to communicate with anyone, except his auditor. After that, he was assigned to the RPF.
When I saw Quentin, I forgot all about my troubles. He looked so thin and vulnerable. I vowed that I would protect him and get him through the RPF. In the RPF, people were paired off to audit one another and somehow I managed to be paired off with Quentin. Quentin and I also became the RPF case supervisors. Although RPFers were not normally allowed to be on the deck that Quentin's cabin was on, he and I were given special permission to go to his cabin, study folders and audit one another. That cabin became a haven for both of us. Even though Quentin was very run down, he was very brave. He never lost his sense of humor. We spent a lot of time together in his cabin, talking, laughing and eating peanut butter that he had taken from his family food supply. Later, Quentin referred to these days as "the peanut butter days of the RPF". Quentin and I hung in there for one another and developed an even closer bond of friendship. Humor, warmth and love were rare commodities aboard the ship, but ones which Quentin and I shared in abundance. I have read many accounts that described Quentin as a miserable person. While I don't deny this, I saw another side of Quentin; he was a person who, somehow, was able to continue to love, in spite of all the personal misery he was going through. I'll never forget Quentin and the bond we shared. He never abandoned me, even after I left Scientology. The last letter I received from him was just two weeks before the day he went into a coma.
When I graduated from the RPF in May of 1974, I was sent back to complete the internship and Quentin returned to his position as a Flag auditor. I quickly completed the internship requirements and became a full-fledged Flag Class VI auditor, which was a dream come true for me. The summer of 1974 was to be the high point of my time in Scientology.
I was assigned a very difficult case to audit. The person was a Scientology executive from South Africa who had previously been Director of Processing (the person in charge of the auditors) on Flag during the same time I was an intern and getting into so much trouble. We didn't get along at all and here I was, assigned to audit him. While in South Africa, he had gotten into ethics trouble and had just graduated from the RPF. Maybe assigning me to audit him was a way to further punish him, or maybe it was just a coincidence -- I don't know what the powers that be were thinking when they assigned his case to me, but we turned the tables on them and surprised everyone, including LRH. I knew that the first thing I had to do was to get him to trust me, so we could develop a rapport which was essential if the auditing was to be at all successful. Somehow, we managed to work things out between us and his auditing went very well. By the time we had finished, he was glowing. The difference in his before and after personality tests was dramatic and caught the attention of Hubbard. He sent down a memo, commending me on my auditing, delivered to me by one of his messengers, Anne (currently Anne Broeker). He said that I was to be held up as an example of what Flag auditing is all about.
This commendation had tremendous significance to me, as well as to others. People who never gave me the time of day were all of a sudden very nice to me. After all, Hubbard had said that "Auditors are the most valuable beings on the planet" and Flag auditors are considered to be the cream of the crop. To be held up as an example of an ideal Flag auditor was to be at the top of the most elite group of people on the planet. In my eyes at the time, we were the people who would save the planet. I felt tremendous power.
Quentin and I continued to be good friends, spending a great deal of time together. We still spent a lot of time in his cabin, laughing together and playing with his tape recorder. We were always making up funny little skits and commercials and taping them. Once, we just taped ourselves laughing for several minutes and when we listened to the tape, we laughed even harder. On our days off, we would often go ashore together. Quentin loved to watch airplanes landing and taking off at local airports. His real dream was to become a pilot, but his father had other plans for him. Quentin and I came very close to getting involved sexually, but we didn't because he told me that several years earlier, he had become sexually involved with a young woman and she had been sent off the ship when his father found out. He didn't want to get me into that kind of trouble, so we remained good friends. He once told me that he had decided not to get married until he was 25 years old, an age he never reached. Regarding the rumor that he was a homosexual, he told me that he used to tell that to some of the women on the ship who were after him because of who he was, just to get rid of them. If he did engage in homosexual relationships later, it was probably because he was never allowed to have a heterosexual relationship with anyone.
In August, 1974, I was sent to New York City on a six-week mission ordered by Hubbard. This was considered to be a great honor. My mission was to audit Molly Bornstein, the Commanding Officer of the Flag Liaison Office in New York and her husband, Al, also an executive there. Unlike some Sea Org missions, our mission was a friendly one. Molly and Al weren't in any kind of trouble and were very happy that an auditor was being sent from Flag especially to audit them. Two other people accompanied me on the mission: Joan Robertson, a top Scientology executive who was in charge of the mission and David Englehardt, a staff member on Flag. I'm not sure what their purpose was, but it had something to do with helping the organization run more smoothly.
We flew across the Atlantic from Lisbon to New York City. I had been away from the United States for over a year and was very happy to be returning for a visit. We stayed at the Hotel Alden on 81st Street and Central Park West, headquarters of the org. My accomodations felt very luxurious to me. I had my own large private room and bath and we were given an allowance to eat all of our meals out in restaurants. The first night we ate at a diner in the neighborhood. I ordered a cheeseburger, fries and a hot fudge sundae. I had missed American food and felt like I had died and gone to heaven! I had lost a lot of weight, due to the hard physical labor when I was on the RPF and all the times I couldn't eat anything because I was seasick. I was very thin and could eat anything I wanted without fear of gaining too much weight. I remember sitting up on the roof, enjoying the view and eating a whole pint of Hagen Daz ice cream. I hadn't realized until then how homesick I had been for the United States. I savored the simplest pleasures that most people take for granted, like being able to take a bath and use as much water as I wanted. On the ship, we had to take 30-second showers, due to the shortage of water.
Since we were from Flag, we were treated like royalty by the people in the org. After all, we were Hubbard's personal representatives, as Flag missionaires. Molly and Al turned out to be genuinely nice people. They showed us around New York City and we all had a great time together. Molly and Al's auditing went well and the mission was considered a success.
When I was in New York, my parents came to visit me. I had called them when I arrived in New York. It was the first time in over a year that I was able to tell them where I was, since the location of Flag had to be kept a secret. When I told them where I was, they immediately flew to New York to visit me. My mother remarked that I looked very thin, but she seemed to be very happy to see me. I had also stopped wearing my glasses because I had convinced myself my eyesight had improved. I knew that my parents were concerned, but they didn't criticize my involvement in any way, since they had learned that such tactics didn't work with me. No intervention, short of deprogramming would have worked on me at that time because of the high I was on. I had been through a lot of pain, but at that point, I felt it had all been worth it. At the time, I thought that my bad days were all behind me and from here on I would soar to greater and greater heights. As far as I was concerned, I was doing work that was vital to the salvation of the planet. It was almost as if the pain and suffering I had been through enhanced the high I was on that summer. I felt I had earned it!
In early September, 1974, I returned to the ship. When I arrived, I found out that Quentin was away on his annual three week vacation. I started on my next level of training, the Class VII course and internship, which qualifies the auditor to audit a set of processes called Power and Power Plus, designed to give the PC the ability to handle power. At that time, Power was an important grade of Scientology, but today these processes are rarely, if ever used.
Shortly after my arrival, an event occurred on the ship, which changed things for us dramatically. We were on the island of Madiera, which is owned by Portugal. There had been political trouble in that area and a political coup had recently taken place in Lisbon. It seemed that a group of communists in Madiera thought that the people aboard the ship were CIA and one afternoon, they threw rocks at the ship, injuring several people. I missed this fiasco because I happened to be ashore at the time, along with several other people from the ship, including Mary Sue. My friend Karen and I had just been to a movie and were on our way back to the ship when we were met by some people who told us what had happened. We were taken to a local disco to hide out until it was safe to return to the ship. Later that night, we were taken to the ship, which had gone out to anchor. This event, thereafter, became known as the "rock concert". Hubbard decided that we would sail across the Atlantic ocean to the United States, a voyage we began the next day. The trip across the ocean was smooth and for once, I didn't get seasick. The ocean was as smooth as glass. I loved to stand above decks and just look at the vast expanse of ocean on all sides of me.
We were just off the shore of South Carolina when Hubbard was warned that IRS agents were waiting on the docks to arrest Hubbard, so we headed for Bermuda, where we stayed for several weeks.
This wonderful, peaceful voyage across the Atlantic, unbeknownst to me, was to be the calm before the storm. All hell was about to break loose.
While we were in Bermuda, Quentin returned from his vacation and dropped a bombshell. It seemed that his father tried to hush it up, but Quentin told me the whole story in a very calm, detached way. According to what Quentin told me, he had decided to kill himself again and had constructed an elaborate plan for his suicide. He flew to New York and took a room at the Times Square Hotel. He then took his passport, which was his only form of ID, and hid it behind the bathroom mirror in his hotel room. He didn't want anyone to know that he was the son of L. Ron Hubbard when his body was found. He then flew to San Francisco, where he planned to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, but when it came time for him to jump, he just couldn't do it. After that, he was found wandering around on a road when he was stopped by police who were looking for someone who had committed a crime. They determined that Quentin didn't fit the description of the suspect, but since he seemed confused and disoriented, they took him to a mental hospital. In order to protect his family's name, Quentin pretended to have amnesia. He was in an institution for about two weeks when someone from Scientology tracked him down, at which point Quentin "regained his memory" of who he was and was released. He told me this story in a very matter-of-fact tone of voice, as if he were telling me about an innocuous vacation itinerary. I was horrified, and he noticed. He remarked that the expression on my face looked like the expression on his mother's face when he told her about it. Quentin and his mother were very close. In spite of all her other faults, Mary Sue really did love her children and Quentin seemed to be her favorite.
To this day, I don't know if it was L. Ron Hubbard or Mary Sue, but someone was very upset that Quentin told me what happened. David Mayo, the Senior Case Supervisor, ordered me not to see Quentin anymore, without telling me who the order came from or why. I don't think the order originated with David. I asked him what was really going on and he flatly refused to discuss the matter further. David and I had gotten along pretty well in the past, but he was very firm on this issue. So was I. I said that Quentin was my friend, he needed me and I was going to be there for him. I told him that my personal life was none of his business. We got into a big argument. David's wife, Merrill, a top auditor on Flag, tried to get me to shut up to protect me, but I wouldn't back down. She knew I would get into trouble if I made waves, and she was right. David warned me that if I continued to see Quentin, I would be sent to the RPF. I continued to argue with him, and he put me on a retread, which meant I had to go back and review certain materials as an auditor. He also had an ethics officer talk to me, warning me of the consequences of having anything further to do with Quentin. I was supposed to just follow orders like a good little robot, but at that point, I still wasn't completely brainwashed, so I refused. I defied the order and kept right on seeing Quentin. There was still nothing sexual going on between us, but other people thought that there was and that we were hiding it. One time I had made a joke to Quentin taking a shower with him and somehow this came up in one of his auditing sessions and was written down, so I suppose David assumed that something was going on. I was incensed that my personal life was being interfered with and wasn't going to stand for it.
Meanwhile, I had finished my retread of course materials and was back auditing on my Class VII internship. I was auditing another intern, Rick, on Power processes. His auditing went very well and he completed the grade before all the processes had been run. In Power, at the time, if the PC went exterior (meaning if he had an out of body experience), he was considered complete on the grade and no more Power processes or its companion, Power Plus were to be run. This was the case with Rick, and he happily attested to completion of the grade. One week later, Rick came down with a cold and I, as his auditor, was immediately blamed and accused of "out tech". Hubbard personally ordered to see the folder, which was something he didn't often do. The folder was inspected by one of his teenage messengers, Jill Goodman, who was not a trained auditor and didn't know the first thing about what to look for. She told Hubbard that I hadn't taken the correct action to repair his Power Plus, which was a bald faced lie. The fact is, I hadn't even run Power Plus and so any action taken to correct that level would have been meaningless. Any auditor trained as a Class VII could have seen that, but nobody seemed to want to get involved. The result was an ethics order from Hubbard, personally cancelling all of my certificates and ordering a Committee of Evidence to be convened on me. I desperately tried to write to Hubbard to explain that this PC had never received Power Plus and to please look at the folder himself. I never received an answer.
At the time I blamed Jill Goodman for this travesty of justice but, spiteful as she was, I now see that she was just another victim of Hubbard's. Today, she is out of Scientology and realizes what happened to her. In an interview with Russell Miller for his book, Barefaced Messiah, she said, "We became poisonous little wenches ... we had power and we were untouchable." I certainly have to agree with her statement, but I don't blame her anymore. The truth that I was unwilling to face at the time was that neither David Mayo nor Jill Goodman were to be blamed for what happened. I am sure that LRH was to blame and I think he was getting back at me for continuing to see Quentin. Some day I would like to talk to David Mayo and Jill Goodman and find out exactly what went on.
An order for a Committee of Evidence from LRH was considered a serious matter. Every charge in the book was thrown at me and Barbara, the woman who was appointed Chairman of my Committee of Evidence, was well known on the ship to be someone who despised me. Before she got married, Barbara's husband had been interested in me. I didn't return his feelings, so he eventually got involved with Barbara and married her. I was happy to see that he found someone, but Barbara never got over her insecurity about me because sometimes her husband would still flirt with me in a joking way. He would bump into me on purpose and say things like, "we've got to stop meeting like this". Nothing ever came of it because I wasn't interested in him. Barbara made it very clear that she couldn't stand me. This is a matter of written record because once I was supposed to audit her and she refused to have me as her auditor. This is the person who was appointed as Chairman of my Committee of Evidence! I'm sure she had a great time finding me guilty of all charges against me. Once again, I was sent to the RPF. In addition, all my auditing certificates had been cancelled by LRH.
After I heard the Committee's verdict, I went to Quentin's cabin and told him about it. I knew that once I was on the RPF, I would no longer be allowed to go there. I told him that the RPF would be a relief after what I had been through in the past few months. I had lost everything I had worked so hard for. I didn't see how things could get much worse for me.
I was wrong. Things got much worse.
In January, 1975, I was once again on the RPF. This time, however, it was not like the RPF of 1974 that I had been through the first time. This group of RPFers did not pull together to help each other through and it was not so easy for me to get out.
A new feature of the RPF had been invented called the RPF's RPF, for people who got into trouble on the RPF. A person assigned to the RPF's RPF had to work deep down in the engine room of the ship all day, cleaning out bilges and was supposed to sleep in the chain locker. No communication with anyone was allowed, except for the RPF's ethics officer. The first person assigned to the RPF's RPF was an executive from London named Ron Hopkins. I caught occasional glimpses of him on his way to and from the engine room. He was covered with muck from the bilges and looked miserable. He still had a chest cough from a bout of pneumonia he was obviously still recovering from. After a few weeks, Ron got out of the RPF's RPF and joined us on the RPF. He and I became friendly and, at first, he was one person who was supportive of me. I saw him as a very sensitive, yet strong person. I can remember that he loved to play flamenco guitar and would often play for us. He was a natural leader and soon became the person in charge of the RPF, at which time his cult personality took over.
Life on the RPF was hard, beginning each day at 5:30 AM. We were divided into groups of 5-7 people. The women's teams cleaned all the heads (bathrooms) on the ship, certain passageways and lounges, such as the aft lounge. Cleaning the heads didn't mean just swishing some toilet bowl cleaner around and going on to the next one. We had to scrub down the entire bathroom, including all the bulkheads (walls) and ceilings. After we cleaned an area, it had to pass a white glove inspection. If the glove came up dirty, the person who cleaned that area had to run laps from bow to stern of the ship (about 1/5 of a mile each). One time, when my senior wasn't satisfied with the way I cleaned a bathroom, she ordered me to "take a lap". I protested because I thought she was being unfair and her reply was, "Don't Q&A with me. Take two laps." I objected again and she said, "Take four laps." This went on until I was up to about 10 laps, which I eventually had to do. Another time, I was ordered to run laps and I walked them instead. The person in charge of the RPF at the time, Homer Schomer, caught me walking and ran after me. I tried to run away from him, but he was too fast for me. He caught me by physically grabbing me and I ended up having to do more laps.
The lesson we were to learn on the RPF was to obey orders without question, regardless of how we felt about it or who was giving the orders. This was a lesson that I was, obviously, very unwilling to learn. I had not learned it my first time on the RPF, so I was back a second time. Blind obedience violated everything I had ever valued. I had thought that Scientology was about independence and self-determinism, not blind obedience to authority.
To add to my difficulties, I was having trouble with my auditing partner. Being audited and auditing another through the RPF program was a requirement for graduation and my partner and I just weren't compatible. Finally, it became clear that it wasn't working out between us and, at his request, he was assigned to someone else. I tried another auditing partner, but that didn't work out either. I felt desolated. There seemed to be no hope for me getting out of the RPF. I can remember one day when I completely broke down. I went down into the lower hold where the RPF classroom was and cried like I have never cried before in my life. It felt like I was never going to stop. I felt totally out of control. Finally, Ron Hopkins went to the medical officer and got me some Cal mag, which was supposed to calm me down so I could get some rest. It seemed to work for a few hours, but the next day, my grief came back. I went through several days where I couldn't stop crying. I was in a deep state of mourning. I had lost a great deal more than an auditing partner. On an emotional level, I had come to the realization that Scientology was a sham, but only on an emotional level. I had no words to describe my loss at the time. There was no exit counsellor or deprogrammer around to help me see what was really happening. All I knew was that I felt worse than I ever had in my entire life.
David Mayo noticed the state I was in and seemed very concerned, but not even the Senior Case Supervisor could fix what was wrong with me. I felt I had lost everything. I had come into Scientology with great dreams and visions about what could be and I had worked hard to make those dreams a reality. For awhile, I felt that my dreams had come true. Less than a year before that, I had felt like I was on top of the world and that all the bad times were behind me. Then it was all taken away from me. Why was it taken away from me? Because I had asserted my right as a human being to choose my own friends and the friend I happened to have chosen was L. Ron Hubbard's son. I wished to God he hadn't been Hubbard's son, but he was. Hubbard could wipe a person out, it seemed. He could build a person up, make every dream come true and then, suddenly take everything away -- just like that! I had lost my ability to be angry. All I could do was cry.
At one point, I said I wanted to leave, but David Mayo and Jeff Walker managed to talk me out of it. David said things like, "You're going to break my heart." and Jeff really got to me when he said, "You'll be forgotten about once you've left the Sea Org." I finally decided I had to try to stick it out and stay, no matter what happened. As unhappy as I was, I believed that life outside of Scientology would be much worse.
I made one final attempt to assert myself. One day I was standing watch as Quartermaster, logging people on and off the ship. This was a duty that RPFers were often assigned to do. One day I had been on watch all morning and someone was supposed to relieve me so I could have lunch, but no one showed up. Finally, I went below decks to the aft lounge to see what happened to my relief person. Ron Hopkins and some other RPFers were having lunch and he refused to help me. I just exploded. My anger had very little to do with what was actually going on -- I just felt I had to make one last attempt to assert myself. I said I was going to have my lunch and to hell with everything, at which point, Ron said: "That's it! You're assigned to the RPF's RPF." I'll never forget those words. I knew I had gone too far and tried to apologize, but it was no use. Ron was adamant. He said I could request a comm ev if I wished to challenge the assignment, but if I did, I would probably be thrown out of the Sea Org in disgrace.
And so it came to pass, that on May 26, 1975, I was assigned to the RPF's RPF. I spent very long days down in the engine room, cleaning foul smelling muck out of the bilges and then painting them. Fortunately, Ron Hopkins showed me some mercy and I didn't have to sleep in the chain locker. I was assigned a condition of Enemy and to get out of it, I had to write up the formula, which was "Find out who you really are." I wrote up the formula and submitted it to Ron Hopkins, but he wouldn't accept what I had written. I didn't know what he wanted me to write. For days, I struggled to find an answer that would satisfy him. Who was I? At that point, I really didn't know. If I had known who I really was, I would have let them throw me out and gotten as far away from the ship and everyone aboard as I could. But leaving Scientology was a possibility that I was not willing to consider. Jeff and David had talked me out of it earlier, and at that time I felt that leaving Scientology would be worse than whatever hell I was going through on the ship.
I spent five days on the RPF's RPF, but it seemed much longer. I wasn't allowed to communicate with anyone except Ron Hopkins. One day, David Mayo broke the rules and spoke to me. I dutifully told him that he was not allowed to speak to me. He told me not to worry about it. I'll never forget what he did for me that day, just by breaking the rules and talking to me. I don't recall exactly what he said, but he encouraged me to hang in there and helped me feel I could make it through this horrendous experience. He showed me compassion when I needed it the most. I determined that I would hang onto what little sanity I had left. The way I did this was to shut off all of my emotions. It was a matter of survival.
I finally wrote up my formula to Ron's satisfaction and got out of the RPF's RPF. I had been broken, after a long hard struggle. When Ron Hopkins said, "That's it. You're assigned to the RPF's RPF" on May 26, 1975 in the aft lounge of the Flagship Apollo, something snapped in me and I no longer had any urge to fight back.
I was no longer angry; I was no longer sad; I was no longer happy; I felt nothing. I simply did as I was told.
At long last, I had learned the lesson of the RPF.
I want to make it clear at this point that I don't blame Ron Hopkins, David Mayo, Jeff Walker, Cathy Cariotaki, Jill Goodman or any other Scientologist or Sea Org member for what I experienced on the ship. They were all under the influence of L. Ron Hubbard and were only doing what they thought was best at the time. We were all trying to survive. I only hope that they are free now and understand what was really going on with all of us on the ship, so they can come to terms with it and go on with their lives.
Up to this point, I have not been at a loss for words in describing my experiences, but now I find myself feeling that I have very little to say about the period that followed my being released from the RPF's RPF. Perhaps this is because there was very little of me present during that time. My cult identity had taken over and I had become a Rondroid, a robot for LRH. I had stopped causing trouble and did as I was told.
During the summer of 1975, LRH started going ashore on photo shoots. He brought people in the RPF along with him and used us as crew and models. I was in several of the pictures, which are mainly photographic essays designed to promote Scientology. I never saw the final product and don't know if these pictures were ever published anywhere. I starred in one of them as a woman who was very sick, got auditing and became the picture of health. In the "before" shot, they made up my face with a pale greyish makeup to make me look awful. Then they showed me getting auditing and in the "after" shot, put rosy-colored make up and red lipstick on me so I looked like I was glowing with good health. I can remember that Hubbard was very particular about how he wanted me to stand. He came over to me and showed me exactly how he wanted me to pose. Unlike the stories I heard about his later venture as a motion picture director, he seemed to be very nice on these photo shoots, which he enjoyed. After all that had gone down between Hubbard and myself on the ship, this was the first time that he actually spoke to me in person without a messenger, other than the times he had nodded hello to me in passing.
Those of us in the RPF began to spend more and more time on the photo shoots and less and less time on the RPF. Hubbard eventually formed an org called the "LRH Photoshoot Org", which consisted of many RPF members. For some reason, other than occasionally modelling for some of his pictures, I was not on the staff of the photo shoot org. The RPF gradually dwindled down until Ron Hopkins and I were the only ones left. Finally, the RPF disbanded entirely, and I was assigned to do Folder Error Summaries ("FESes"), which means going through people's auditing folders and noting down auditing errors that were made and the progress of the case, or lack, thereof. I was still not allowed to audit, but I was no longer on the RPF.
In the fall, Hubbard sold the ship and we all moved to a land base at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida. The accomodations there were a big improvement over the ship. I shared a hotel room with two of my best friends, Lieke and Karen, both auditors. To anyone else, the room might have seemed crowded, but to us, we had more space than we had in years, as we were used to sleeping in a room with 50 other women on the ship. We even had a television set in our room. I hadn't watched TV in years. I would go up to my room during lunch breaks and after a day's work and watch TV. My favorite shows were "Star Trek" and "Bewitched", both in reruns at the time. Many people in the Sea Org loved Star Trek since we liked to think of ourselves of being on a mission, like the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
In Florida, I continued FESing folders, which wasn't the most exciting job in the world, but it was peaceful. Some of the people who's folders I FESed were celebrities, such as Karen Black and Chick Corea. One day I went to see the intern supervisor at the time, Brian Livingstone, about getting my certificates back as an auditor. I assumed that he knew that LRH had ordered my certificates cancelled, but he didn't remember. Just as he was going to write me out a program, Judy Thiery came over to us and told him that LRH had cancelled my certificates. Brian was furious with me and accused me of trying to trick him. I said that I thought he had known what had happened with me and was just trying to find out how I could Bet my certificates back, but he refused to have anything further to do with me.
In May, the Commanding Officer of AOLA, Gary Epstein, decided that he wanted me to return to Los Angeles and made a request to Flag. I was ordered to return to Los Angeles and assigned the position of Director of Processing at the Advanced Org in Los Angeles (AOLA), where I had originally come from. Before I left, Jeff Walker finally gave me a program that I could follow to regain my certificates as an auditor. As Director of Processing, I would be responsible for the solo auditing of all the people who came to AOLA to do the Clearing Course and OT levels. Even though it was a much better position than I currently had, FESing folders, I was very sorry to leave Florida. I had requested to remain in Florida, but my request was denied and I had no choice but to go to LA.
In May, 1976 I assumed the post of Director of Processing at AOLA. I felt very much alone and kept my distance from everyone. Some people seemed to be in awe of me because of the fact I had spent so much time on Flag. No one knew about the trouble I had been in. I never got close to anyone at AOLA, the whole time I was there.
Like most Sea Org living quarters, the condition of the house I lived in was shabby, but I had my own small room. The house was in LA and we commuted by van to Hollywood every day, where the org was located. As Director of Processing, I was receiving bonuses in addition to my regular Sea Org pay, so I decided to take an apartment outside the staff house at my own expense. I shared a very nice two-bedroom apartment across the street from where I worked, with two men who worked for the Guardian's Office, but were not Sea Org members. I shared a room with one of the men, Gene, but our relationship was strictly platonic. We slept in separate beds.
Living outside of Sea Org housing was unusual for a Sea Org member, but I managed to get away with it, probably because I had come from Flag and no one dared to challenge me. Living in that apartment gave me more privacy than I'd had in years. I was becoming increasingly aware that I was not happy at all in the Sea Org. Gene was the only person I was at all close to and he wasn't in the Sea Org, even though he was in Scientology. I missed my friends on Flag (Florida) very much, especially Quentin. Quentin and I wrote to each other regularly.
During the time I was in LA, I increasingly spent more and more time alone. I would go to my apartment every chance I got, just to get a way from the org. Sometimes, during my half hour lunch break, I would go there and just think about my situation. I would sit there, dreading having to go back to work and began to feel like I was really in a trap.
There were things about my new job that I hated, such as having to make phone calls to people who had not paid for their next OT level. I was expected to use high pressure tactics to get them to return. I remember telling one person that if he did not come in for his next OT level, that he would die. I really disliked making these phone calls, but it was an expected part of my job. I really didn't want to be an administrator, even though the position was considered senior to that of an auditor. I would have preferred just to be an auditor and work with people one-on-one, but in the Sea Org what I wanted was never considered.
I began to think about leaving and week by week, put a little bit of money aside from the bonuses I was receiving. At this point, I wasn't ready to take action on my thoughts, but put the money away "just in case".
One day in early July, 1976, I received a frantic phone call from my mother. My father had been on vacation in Philadelphia and had a heart attack. She said that it was very bad and the doctors didn't know if he'd make it through the night. Years later, she told me that she had tried to call the org three times before she finally got through to me. Nobody gave me her messages the first two times. I immediately flew to Philadelphia, spending the entire five hours in the air, not knowing if my father would be alive or dead when I arrived. To my Scientology identity, death didn't mean anything. One simply dropped one's body and could pick up a new one and start a new life. However, there was still a part of me that was aware of the personal tragedy that my father's death would be and the pain I would feel if I were to arrive at the hospital and found out he had died. When I finally did arrive in Philadelphia, early the next morning, I was very relieved to learn that my father had pulled through and was going to be all right. He did, however, have a very serious heart condition that would have to be constantly monitored. He was given a pacemaker while he was in the hospital that he would be dependent on.
While I was in Philadelphia, I spent a great deal of time with my mother. I was in the "wog" world with no other Scientologists anywhere around me. We stayed at a hotel near the hospital and, when we weren't visiting my father, we had a lot of time to talk. I can remember one conversation we had about life in the Soviet Union. My mother was telling me how people in the Soviet Union had no choice about their careers. From a very young age, the government decided what that person would do based, not on personal desire, but on what was best for the Soviet Union. I thought about that for awhile and realized that my life in Scientology was much the same as that of a Soviet. I had wanted to live in Florida and be an auditor and here I was in LA, doing a job I didn't want to do and I had no choice in the matter. I confessed to my mother how I felt and she asked me if I would consider coming home with her and not returning to the Sea Org. She said that the door would always be open to me. I wasn't ready to make such a move at that time, but it helped me tremendously to know I had an option. After being in the "wog" world for three weeks, it didn't seem like such a terrible place.
When my father recovered enough to travel, we took him back to my parents' home in Michigan, where I stayed for about a week. I still felt I had to return to Scientology to try to work things out, so on August 1, 1976, I returned to LA. After having been away for three weeks, things in LA looked even worse. My senior, Tina and I, had never gotten along well. Soon after my return, we had a big fight and I walked off my post as Director of Processing, refusing to work with her. I cannot recall what the fight was about, but I think it had something to do with her not giving me my mother's messages for several hours. The Commanding Officer, Gary Epstein and the Ethics Officer tried to get me to go back on post, but I refused, saying that I would be willing to work at another job, but not with Tina. I volunteered to FES folders and they agreed, at least, temporarily. I don't think anyone in LA quite knew what to do with me. If I had done such a thing on Flag, I would have been immediately sent to the RPF, but in LA, people were in awe of me because I had been on Flag and besides, at the time, there was no RPF in LA.
I felt like I was in limbo. I would come in every day and FES folders all day long. I wasn't being punished, so I was still allowed the same time off I always was. One day, I had the afternoon off and I was going for a walk by myself on Hollywood Boulevard. Suddenly, a significant mental shift occurred and I thought to myself, "What am I doing here? This is not what I had expected when I first joined the Sea Org. I really am unhappy here and I can't go on like this. I've got to do something about my situation."
Right then and there, I made the following decision: I would give the situation two weeks. If, in two weeks, things hadn't changed for the better, I would do one of two things: I would either go and talk to someone in the org, come clean and confess everything I had been thinking and feeling and get straight with the group, or I would leave the group, without telling anyone what I was going to do. The fact that I had allowed myself to have these thoughts was quite significant; it showed that because I had been away and spent so much time alone, I was beginning to free myself from the mind control I had been under for so many years. A person under mind control would never allow himself to have such critical thoughts about the group, without censoring them. I had been taught that critical thoughts meant undisclosed crimes, but somehow I realized that my thoughts were valid and I was innocent.
I returned to work the next day, keeping the decision I had made secret from everyone. This was something that I was going to have to work out on my own. The two weeks passed and nothing happened for awhile. I continued to come in every day and FES folders. I said very little to anyone and no one seemed to bother me until Friday, August 20, 1976. That afternoon, Gary Epstein had a talk with me. He was very angry with me for leaving my post and said I should cut out the nonsense and return to my post. He sarcastically accused me of thinking I was above everyone because I had been on Flag with Quentin. He sent me to talk to the Ethics Officer, who was nicer. He tried to persuade me to return to my post, but I still refused. He said that if I didn't return, he would have no choice but to comm ev me. I knew that I would have to act soon.
The next morning, Saturday, August 21, I was FESing folders as usual. Some of the people I worked with were gossiping about a young woman named Pandora Cooper who had been an auditor and case supervisor for the org in Washington, D.C. It was rumored that she had wanted to leave and not been allowed to. She was locked up in a room against her will and forced to receive auditing. She pretended to go along with the auditing and told her captors that the auditing had really helped her and that she had changed her mind about leaving. Once she convinced them that she wanted to stay, they let her out of the room, at which time she left the org and never returned. I realized that what happened to Pandora could easily happen to me and I had to act fast.
I had saved up about $200 when I was Director of Processing and getting bonuses. When I left that position, I no longer got the bonuses that went along with it; only Sea Org pay, which was $10 a week at the time. Soon my $200 would be used up and I would have no money to go anywhere and would have to give up my apartment. I concluded that if I wanted to leave the Sea Org, it would have to be that day, before a Committee of Evidence was convened on me.
It happened that I had the afternoon off that day, which gave me the perfect chance to leave, since I would not be missed until the following day, but I still hadn't made a final decision. I went for a swim, took a shower and put on a new dress my mother had sent me. Then I went to a pay phone and called the airlines to see if I could get a plane out of LA, but all the flights were booked up. Then I walked to the bus station to see when the next bus left to Michigan. There was a bus leaving at 6:00 PM and the fare was $125, which I could afford. The time was 2:30 PM. I returned to my apartment and found one of my roomates there. I tried to act normal. He went out to get a paper and I started to pack some of my things. Soon he returned and I hastily hid what I had packed. I told him I had just been for a swim and the water felt great, hoping he would go for a swim. Fortunately, he did and I was left alone, once again.
Now there was nothing to stop me from leaving except the barriers I imposed on myself. For what seemed like a long time, but was probably no more than 5 minutes, I agonized over the final decision I knew I would have to make. I wanted to go, but was afraid. I knew that this would be my only chance to go. If I didn't do it that day, I might not get another opportunity for a long time, if ever. Yet I still vacillated between whether to go or whether to stay. I felt like I was making the biggest and toughest decision I ever had to make in my life. I finished packing some of my clothes in a small carry-on bag. I kept telling myself that I wasn't happy and that things were not going to get better; yet I still hesitated.
Then, suddenly, I realized that making the decision to leave was never going to be easy and if I waited for it to feel easy, I would never do it. Finally, I took the plunge. I gathered up a few of my things and left the apartment. I knew I couldn't take everything I had with me because I might run into someone I knew on the way to the bus station and would have difficulty explaining the suitcases. I just took a small carry-on bag, a plastic bag and my handbag. I even made up a story to explain why I was carrying these bags if I ran into anyone on the street but, fortunately, I didn't have to use it. I was terrified of running into someone in the group, and of being stopped and locked up against my will.
As soon as I arrived at the bus station in Hollywood, which was about a 10-minute walk from my apartment, I purchased my ticket to Michigan. Then I called my mother and told her I was coming home. She was overjoyed and strongly supported me in my decision to leave. She said, "I always knew you were a free spirit."
At 5:00 PM my bus left Hollywood for LA, where I was to change busses. I had a splitting headache and was still worried about someone finding me. It wasn't until my bus pulled out of LA at 6:00 PM that I finally began to relax. I felt more relieved than I ever felt in my life. I felt as if a big weight had been lifted off me and that I was free at last.
For nine months, I didn't do anything but stay home, try to make some sense out of what I had been through and adjust to my new life. One week after I left, I started recording my thoughts about what had happened to me in a journal, which I still have. I was very confused. For several months, I saw no one but my parents and felt very much alone.
Six weeks after leaving, I made an attempt in my journal to analyze the group to see if I could figure out what went wrong. I wrote, "There is something very wrong with the way this group is being run -- something very basic that I can't quite put my finger on." At this point, I was not yet willing to hold LRH responsible for the situation and I didn't know anything about mind control. However, there is one observation that I made that I consider to be an insight that was of great value to me: that there was little or no real caring about people as human beings. People were only seen in terms of their usefulness to the group.
An example I came up with was a young woman from Holland who was being trained as an auditor on Flag. She was still having difficulty with the English language and, as a result, had trouble with understanding the course materials and later, in her attempts to audit people. She was never able to progress beyond the most basic levels as an auditor because of her difficulty with the language. When she made mistakes she was sent to ethics and was one of the first to be put on the RPF. It never seemed to occur to anyone that her problem was not "evil intentions towards the group" but simply not understanding English well enough. No one cared enough about her to see the obvious. All anyone could see was that she didn't perform well as an auditor and therefore must have evil intentions, so she was disciplined accordingly. If anyone had really cared about her as a person, rather than just a commodity, they would have easily been able to see what her problem was and help her learn English, but that just wasn't the way things worked in the Sea Org.
I began to realize that, for the most part, in the Sea Org there was no real caring -- no love. All "love" was conditional upon job performance and the standards for job performance were often quite ridiculous. There were exceptions, of course; sometimes true friendships between people did develop in spite of everything, but that is not how the group, as a whole, was run. Often, when such real friendships did develop, every attempt was made to separate the people, such as what happened between Quentin and myself. The real threat to Hubbard was not the possibility of our having sex, but the emotional closeness and true friendship that we had developed. This separation of true friends has the effect of making the person feel very isolated, even though they may be surrounded constantly by hundreds of people in the cult environment.
In my opinion, the most effective thing an exit counsellor could do in an intervention with a Scientologist, is to have a genuinely caring attitude towards the person. Scientologists, especially staff members, are starving for that sort of compassion. I cannot stress this point strongly enough. A compassionate, caring attitude will be much more likely to help the person break free of their mental prison than any information about the group will. Simply giving the person information will not work, because it will be dismissed as lies from the "wog press".
I know this because I lived in such an environment for over five years. The main key to free a person from this cult is compassion. This is true of all cults, but it is especially true of Scientology, where, in the upper echelons, there isn't even any pretense of compassion. Showing compassion just might be the key to breaking through the person's cult identity and reaching the real person. Once an emotional bond is established with the person, you can then give them the facts and help them to see their way out of the trap.
One friendship the Church of Scientology was never able to destroy was the one between Quentin and myself. We continued to write to one another. In September, I received a letter from him, saying that he was having a very rough time. He had been taken off auditing for "errors" he had committed on a PC who had cancer. Quentin had been desperately trying to help the person, but nothing seemed to be working. He sounded very depressed. He sent me a picture of himself, saying that it was to remind me of him. I was very concerned that he might try to commit suicide again and wrote him back right away. I told him I was concerned that he might be feeling he had to commit suicide and if he ever felt that way, he could call me anytime and talk about it.
On October 12, I received my last letter from Quentin. He told me not to worry and that he would never attempt suicide again. Things seemed to be looking up for him. He had written up a proposal to his father, requesting an indefinite leave of absence so he could go to school and learn how to be a pilot. I had the feeling that if his proposal was not approved, he would leave Scientology, which would be very difficult for him. He would have to cut himself off from his parents and the only life he had ever known. I was determined to support him in any way I could, if he made such a decision. Once again, I answered his letter right away. This time I received no reply. For the next eight months, I kept sending letters, hoping to get through to him. I thought that maybe his parents had found out he was writing to me and stopped my letters from getting through. Since I had left Scientology, I was considered a Suppressive Person and no Scientologist in good standing was allowed to communicate with me, but that hadn't stopped Quentin. It occurred to me that maybe the worst had happened and Quentin had committed suicide, but I kept trying to write to him.
I had many dreams about Quentin and about Scientology. For a whole year, I had nightmares every night about the group, where I would be running away from Scientologists who were trying to get me to come back. Sometimes I would have dreams about being locked up in prison and escaping. After a year, these dreams became less and less frequent.
In June, 1977, I received a call from Chuck Ohl, who worked in the Guardian's Office. He told me that Quentin had passed away last October. According to the story Chuck told me, Quentin had been found in a coma in his car near the airport in Las Vegas. The cause of his death was listed as "unknown" and Mary Sue had ordered a full investigation into his death. Chuck wanted to know if Quentin had called or tried to contact me. I was stunned. I had felt for a long time that something had happened, but hearing the news really shocked me. I told Chuck that Quentin had written me just before he left and that I would send him copies of the letters and do everything I could to help with the investigation. I felt that his mother had a right to know what happened to her son. I knew that she really loved him. I made copies of the letters and sent them to Chuck.
Just recently, I talked to someone who had been in Florida at the time Quentin had left for Las Vegas. She had quite a bit of inside information on what happened to Quentin. I asked her if his request to go to flying school had been approved and she said that as far as she knew, it hadn't. He was just going on another three week vacation and had been expected to return. I am now convinced that Quentin's death was a suicide.
By the time I heard the sad news, I had started going back to college at the University of Michigan and was well on my way to a new life. I felt badly about Quentin, but I vowed that I would do everything in my power to live my life to the fullest. Since leaving Scientology, I have never taken my freedom for granted. I know how precious it is because I lived for over five years without it. Quentin was gone, but I had my whole life ahead of me, which I would live the best I could, in honor of both Quentin and myself.
Fortunately, I had no trouble in school, probably because I held a fairly high position in Scientology that required me to use my mind and to make decisions, even if they were in service of the group. I managed to graduate from the University of Michigan with a 3.7 GPA in the top 10% of my class.
In July, 1977, I received a call from Karen de la Carriere, who had been one of my closest friends on Flag. She was on a mission to LA and tried to convince me to come back. She said that the org had moved to a brand new complex and that exciting things were going on. Gary Epstein, the Commanding Officer at the time I left, had been removed from his post after having been discovered to be a "suppressive person". She said that because Gary had been in charge at the time I left, I was welcome to come back with no penalties, since I couldn't be blamed for leaving when such a "suppressive" person was in charge. For a few seconds, I was tempted. I didn't tell her yes, but I didn't tell her no either. I said I'd think about it. When I hung up the phone, I realized that I'd never go back. I was starting a new life and it didn't sound as if things had changed all that much in the Sea Org. About a week later, she called me back and I told her that I was not going to return. That was the last time I ever heard from anyone in Scientology.
Recently, I spoke with three former Scientologists who didn't leave until the early 1980s, all of whom were top Scientology executives. They said that from the late 1970s on, things got much worse in Scientology, especially after Hubbard's messengers took over. They all agreed that I was very lucky to have left when I did. If anyone tries to tell you that the kind of horrendous experiences I went through in Scientology don't happen anymore, don't believe it -- there are many people around who can testify that things have gotten even worse.
After graduating from the University of Michigan with a B.A., I moved to New York in 1980. While, in some ways, I was functioning well in life, in other ways, my experiences in Scientology were still affecting me. Over the years, I considered several different careers, but I never followed through on any of them. The career I was most interested in was being a psychotherapist. I went to school for about a year and a half at a Psychoanalytic institute, but I didn't complete the program. I had no trouble academically, but just didn't have the motivation necessary to complete the program and found an excuse to drop out. I didn't realize until very recently that my inability to get a new career going, particularly in this field, had very much to do with my experiences in Scientology. Because my "success" in Scientology resulted in such total devastation for me, I had a deep subconscious fear of ever being successful again. After all, for me in Scientology, any success I achieved was very temporary and could be wiped out any time at the whim of LRH. Success, to me, meant being wiped out. Now that I realize this, I am able to reprogram my subconscious mind and am finally starting to work things out for myself. I am planning to go back to school for my MSW. I am no longer in a cult and can be as successful as I want without fear of being wiped out.
For the first time in years, I am starting to feel like the enthusiastic, ambitious, idealistic young woman I was at the age of 18. This time, however, I know that no one is going to give me the answers to life. I now realize that I have a mind that is fully capable of guiding me through the decisions I make in life and I will never put anyone or anything above what I know and feel. I now know the techniques that are used to control people's minds and that people exist in this world that have no compunction about using these techniques to manipulate people. If I see that a person or group is using these techniques, that is where my association with that person or group ends. My life and my mind are now my own and I will never give them up again.
[Update, August 1996: I have since gone back to school and have completed my Masters Degree in Social Work, passed my licensing exam (CSW), and am now a certified mental health professional.]