The next step in my Scientology indoctrination involved spending five hours a day, every day, for weeks, in a sauna. Sounds fun, right?
It’s the actual first step on The Bridge to Total Freedom (i.e. The Abyss of Total Mind Control): The Purification Rundown, or “Purif” as they call it. Its purpose is supposedly to rid your body of the effects of drugs and toxins so that you’re ready to achieve spiritual freedom. What it really is, is another way to exert control.
Since Jim didn’t have a sauna in his office building, he let me know I’d be doing the Purif at the closest Scientology Mission in Mountain View. He said he’d be monitoring my progress the whole time, but that these were great people and that I’d like it there.
I wasn’t completely certain of this, since I was just getting used to working with Jim, but I didn’t really have a choice. Plus, after completing the Communication Course, I was amenable to any type of control at that point.
So off we went. As I entered the front door of yet another nondescript brown-shingled 80s building, I thought it looked pretty normal. Nothing odd about it. A reception desk, some chairs, a friendly receptionist. I relaxed a little.
“Welcome Anne! You’re here for the Purification Rundown, right?” Well, they knew me, at least. I thought that was nice.
An attractive blond woman entered the room just then. “Hi Anne, I’m Pam (not her real name). Welcome to Mountain View Mission!” Pam told me she was the “Mission Holder”, the person who owned the mission. I found out later what this means: When you’re a Mission Holder, you’ve purchased a “mission package” for tens of thousands of dollars, and with it, the license to deliver Scientology services up to a certain level.
Pam seemed genuinely happy to have me there. Little did I know JUST how happy she would soon be, since Mountain View Mission was where I joined staff for the first time.
But I digress. Back to my first day: Pam led me down the hall, past a few offices where everyone smiled and waved at me. A bit weird, but okay. We ended up in a room at the end of the hall that looked like a home gym, with a couple of treadmills. To the right was a long counter lined with bottles of vitamins. To the left was a large sauna.
Pam informed me that I’d start the next day, and that I’d need to be there every day until I was done. That meant I couldn’t plan anything else—not work, not time with friends, nothing. Of course! That was the first step in separating me from the life I’d known before, another common trait of cults.
How the Purification Rundown Works
My first day, I met the person who would be monitoring me through the Purif. I’ll call him Doug. He seemed nice, kind of soft-spoken, skinny, glasses, sort of a stereotypical geeky look. That seemed pretty safe to me at the time, almost comforting.
Doug explained in detail how the Purif worked, and had me read a booklet about it. Basically, it goes like this—get ready, it’s a bit crazy:
• Toxins and radiation are stored in the fatty tissues of your body, so you need to drink a cocktail of different vegetable oils before you get in the sauna. It’s about a half cup’s worth. This helps pull the toxins out of the fatty tissue. Yummy.
• Along with the oil, you take a huge amount of vitamins, the most important of which is niacin. You start with 100mg of Niacin and move up in dosage every day to the point where you’re taking 5,000mg by the end. You also take a ton of minerals, like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium.
Niacin is the main point of the program, per Hubbard, as it was key to help flush the toxins out with the sweat. Here’s the craziest thing: The recommended medical dose of niacin is about 15mg. Having so much niacin in your system can produce severe side effects, such as skin irritation, flushing, dizziness, and headache. More on that later.
• After drinking your fat and eating your vitamins and minerals, you do some exercise on the treadmill and some calisthenics. This is supposed to get the process of toxin release started.
• Once you’re done with the exercise, the sweating really begins. I had to spend five hours a day in the sauna. That first day, Doug said I was allowed to come out every half hour or so, as my body got accustomed to the long hours in the sauna. However, I was supposed to get used to it pretty rapidly, and by the end I was spending hours at a time in there. I did get to drink water to replace all the fluids I was sweating out, so that was at least something.
What I didn’t know then, and wasn’t looking to find out (thank you, mind control), was that there is NO scientific evidence that a body can “sweat out” toxins. Sweat is a cooling system for the body, not a toxin release system—that’s what the kidneys and liver are for. But hey, by this point I thought that L. Ron Hubbard was such a genius, he’d figured all this out when others hadn’t. That’s a common thread in cults, by the way—create a messiah figure who is far above the norm in terms of “intelligence”.
Some of the crazy things that happened on the Purif
Here are a few of the wild things that happened during the three weeks I was on the Purif:
• I started itching pretty much immediately. Horrible itching, all over my body. Doug said this was a good thing because I was “sweating out” the toxins. Actually, it was a side effect of too much niacin but I didn’t know that then. The itching never subsided. It happened every time I went into the sauna.
• On more than one occasion I had horrible, bright red flushes. These were on my chest, mostly, but also my arms, legs, and back. Doug said that this was radiation coming out of my system, from sunburns I’d had earlier in life. “Look at that, you can see an old bathing suit line,” he’d say. This was astounding to me at the time, and I thought, “Wow, this is crazy stuff! So glad all that radiation is coming out of my body!” What a maroon, as Bugs Bunny would say.
• I got dizzy and lightheaded almost every day, but some days worse than others. This was supposed to be my “re-experiencing” the original effects of the drugs I’d taken in the past. I believed this crap! One day, I was driving home after the Purif and started to feel so dizzy I had to pull over to the side of the road and let it pass before going on. I came in the next day and told Doug how I’d had a “drug flashback” in the car. He was thrilled to hear this.
This went on and on, day after day, until finally I got to the point where I was taking 5,000mg of niacin and sitting in a sauna for five hours with no real effects. At that point, I was done. Apparently I was free of the harmful effects of past drugs and toxins and ready for my next step. I was just happy to not have to go in the sauna again!
The True Dangers of the Purif
While I’ve been writing this, I’ve been thinking of how dangerous this could have been for me, and how fortunate I was to have come through it. What really freaks me out is how broadly this is used, and in ways that people don’t even realize.
Take Narconon, for example. This is a Scientology-based drug rehab program (which they won’t tell you, by the way) used all over the world. Go to their home page and you won’t see a word about Scientology. In fact, the only time L. Ron Hubbard is mentioned is in super small print at the very bottom of the home page. Scam artists.
Narconon uses the Purif as the cornerstone of their program to get addicts off drugs. Narconon is also a key “feeder line” to Scientology organizations, believe me.
HOW is this helpful??? Can you imagine being a drug addict and going to rehab, only to be told you’re going to sit in a sauna for five hours a day while you’re trying to detox? That sounds like a HORRIFYING situation.
This is dangerous, it’s cruel, and it’s a scam. It’s also a way of getting a desperate family member to fork over tens of thousands of dollars to get their loved one some help. There have been numerous stories published about deaths of people who’ve gone to Narconon, but I won’t get into that here. If you want to know more, just google “Narconon Deaths”—you’ll get over 46,000 results.
So there you have it, my Purif story. But wait, there’s more! And it’s not a Ginsu knife, it’s a full-court press to get me on staff! More on that in the next post.