As I write this, I’m listening to Kenny Loggins. I’m loving me some vintage Kenny these days.
Right now, I’m rotating between “I Believe in Love”, “I’m Free”, and “I’m Alright.” On the last one, I usually do a bit of this kind of wiggling:
I’m listening to Kenny because he usually gets me out of the funk I seem to enter when I start peeling off the next layer of my Scientology onion.
The continual layer-peeling has to be done for so many reasons. First, and most obviously, because I don’t want to be stuck in all that crap for the rest of my life. Second, and just as importantly, because I need to get my damn book done!
I thought I was done about a month ago. Then I gave it to my beta reader—he calls himself my alpha reader—Tom. He didn’t say much, except: “It doesn’t sound like you.”
HARSH. But he’s right. Reading through it again, I see how many times I’ve been describing events, but not how I was feeling during them. Because that’s far easier.
So I started rewriting.
It’s been an interesting process. I’ve been doing it with my eyes closed, literally: I sit down, read a section of a chapter, then close my eyes and rewrite it. Not looking at what I’m writing seems to help me connect with my deepest, I-really-don’t-want-to-tell-you-this feelings. And it’s working.
But it’s incredibly challenging. Some of the stuff is so buried, because I really, really don’t want to look inside. I told my friend Karen it’s like stepping into a fire, knowing it’s going to burn like crazy, but doing it anyway.
The good news is, more layers are coming off the onion.
The bad news is, more layers are coming off the onion.
The Worst of the Worst
Part of the process of diving into my Scientology experience is doing a lot more research. I feel a constant need to understand how I let my mind become so altered.
Of course, that includes watching every show and listening to every podcast on Scientology and every other cult known to man. That very much includes the fantastic Scientology: Fair Game podcast. And in a recent episode, Leah and Mike interviewed Dr. Steven Hassan, my fave cult expert.
They were discussing how basic Scientology processes hypnotize people, from the first course you take onward. Dr. Hassan explained how we were taught to hypnotize ourselves from the get-go, then learned to hypnotize others.
I needed to dive into this further, so I watched a video that started to crack a few things open for me. It’s called “Scientology indoctrination methods deconstructed” and was filmed at a conference in 2015.
In the video, Dr. Hassan and Jon Atack—an OG of Scientology whistleblowers and a brilliant guy—walk us through some of the first training exercises that a new Scientologist does (TRs, or Training Routines) and how this is a perfect example of hypnosis.
Now, I knew a bit about the hypnotic effect of TRs from earlier research, but this walkthrough gave me a whole new perspective. You know how you can look at the same information over and over again, and learn something new from it each time? At least that’s the way it works for me.
Jon said a few things at the start of the video that blew my mind (in a good way). He’s been doing this work for decades, and has a wealth of knowledge—and plenty of evidence to back up his claims.
First, he discussed how many destructive cults are in existence right now—around 3,000. Then he talked about how, when speaking to counselors, they routinely tell him they’ll deal with any cult when trying to help someone—except Scientology.
Why, you may ask?
First, there’s the sheer number of processes Scientology uses to get you into an altered state of consciousness. Jon mentioned that the average cult uses two or three different procedures, but Scientology? 2,000. No wonder I feel like I’m never “done” with this. I’ll likely be doing this work for the rest of my life.
Then there’s the redefinition of words, or “loaded language”. This is one of the main ways cults create confusion. Jon pointed out that before Hubbard, William Shakespeare was the leading contributor of new words to the English language, with 300. But Hubbard blew that away: two 500-page dictionaries full of Scientology terminology.
And yes, I’ve studied every word in both those dictionaries.
In the video, Dr. Hassan explained the power of loaded language this way:
The number one technique for inducing trance is creating confusion. The fastest way to create confusion is to use loaded language, which is a category of mind control technique…
And the average person goes inside, to go “What the hell does that mean?” And for the intelligent person, they get curious: “I need to understand what that is.”
He went on to describe how Hubbard’s “study tech” embeds this even deeper—more specifically, the concept that the number one barrier to understanding what you read is going past a “misunderstood word”:
Words elicit states of consciousness. In the real world, we want to learn and grow. And we use words to help us cope and adapt and be successful. In cults, words constrict and only feed the cult identity.
The biggest trick is the “study tech” where they’re getting these very intelligent people to buy into this falsehood that they don’t understand what’s real, therefore they need to keep studying the words so they’ll know what “truth” is.
And what’s really happening is that they’re programming themselves into the ideology of the cult.
That made so much sense to me. Every time I’d sit down to read something in a Scientology course room (which was a MINIMUM of two and a half hours every day, often longer), I’d spend a lot of my time clearing up definitions of words. We were forced to. And I mean that quite literally.
So yeah, if you didn’t think Scientology was the worst of the worst before this, or if you thought it was just some “kooky cult”, think again.
But I’m deconstructing it. And the more I write, the better I feel.
Does this mean that you’ll have to wait another year to get this book from me? Nah. I’m working on it. I promise.
And based on Tom’s reaction to the first section I read to him after the rewrite, I think you’ll be glad you waited.
He simply read it, looked up, and said, “There you are.”