The Phases of Scientology Involvement
Before Contact With Scientology
The “Need of Change” Phase – You feel like your life is boring or headed nowhere. Or there is something bothering you inside and nothing seems to work to make it stop bothering you. You decide you are going to fix this and change your life for the better.
The Phases of Scientology:
The Curious Phase – You come in to contact with Scientology through a book, another person, or some kind of promotion. Whatever pitch is made to you, it causes you to become curious. You are drawn in to find out more.
The Ruin Phase – You are made more aware of the thing inside you that bothers you, or you realize that the trajectory that your life is on should be changed, and Scientology might be a way to do that.
The Courageous Phase – You are aware how whacky Scientology is considered by others, and how all your friends and family will think you are a kook for trying it. But you summon your social courage and figure that your life is worth it. You decide to take your first course or get some auditing.
The Wins Phase – You start studying Scientology or getting auditing. You have a small win, usually by being told something will happen, and then it does – just like they said it would. You invest more of yourself – and open up more of yourself – to be fixed by Scientology. Things that bother you get addressed on course and in auditing and you begin to feel relief like you’ve never felt it before. You experience periods of happiness and contentment that you haven’t felt in a long time. You feel healthier. You realize this Scientology stuff is really helping you, and that you are heading in the right direction.
The Imprinting Phase – Just as baby ducks will follow a soccer ball as their mother if it is rolled in front of them at the right time in their development, you begin to pick up Scientologists at the org to look up to, and to follow, and to ask questions of. You really admire and love these people, and believe that they are the best friends you could ever have. And in a lot of cases for that time and place in your life, they are.
The Awkward Duckling Phase As you enter the Scientology sub-culture more deeply, you begin to be confronted with their cultural norms and beliefs. If you are a female, you may wear perfume to course and some of the other students might look at you with disapproval. You may take aspirin for a headache and be told that you should not do that. This has a destabilizing effect on you where you are not sure of what is right and what is wrong as you try to fit in to this new group. You may begin to get the feeling that you don’t know anything at all, or that everything you ever knew about life and being human has been wrong. This can happen to you no matter how successful you have been in life prior to becoming a Scientologist. You begin to shed your old self and take on the “beingness” of a Scientologist.
The Loyalty Phase – Someone criticizes Scientology and you defend it. Not because you are now brainwashed, but because Scientology really did help you. You feel loyalty to this thing that worked for you where nothing else did. You realize that this “coming out as a Scientologist” period is beginning to define you to your friends and family, and you go for it. You start to become a “group member” and start calling yourself a Scientologist. As you start changing your self-identity (who you tell yourself you are) to “Scientologist”, you pick up arguments and explanations from other Scientologists for why people criticize Scientology and you begin to use these to protect yourself and others as a defense. You rationalize away contradictions and inconsistencies that you hear and see, and you build a kind of brick overcoat of arguments and responses to people who criticize you, or who criticize Scientology.
The Looking Away Phase – You continue to develop all kinds of rationalizations for yourself and your continued involvement, no matter the price. You decide that things that don’t make sense are because you are not Clear or OT yet, and as soon as you do get Clear or OT, then they will finally make sense. You put them in “bins” to look at later, after you’ve gotten yourself up the Bridge a little more. The “cost” side of the ledger of any cost/benefit analysis with regard to Scientology starts getting dropped. You figure no cost is too high for total spiritual freedom. And so you are consistently looking away from more things than you are seeing with regard to Scientology.
This phase can last for decades.
The Fed Up Phase – Something keeps happening to you personally as a Scientologist that you don’t like, and you realize that it is coming directly from your own involvement in Scientology. You become aware that it’s actually being held in place in your life because you are a Scientologist. Whether it is credit card debt, the exploitation of your children or family members, or injustices of various kinds – you realize that it is your involvement in Scientology which is holding this destructive situation in your life. You become fed up with it.
The KSW Phase – You decide to apply Scientology to solve this bad thing that your involvement in Scientology is causing. You try to handle it by studying lots of policies by L Ron Hubbard and by writing Knowledge Reports and getting very serious about Keeping Scientology Working. You trust Ron and truly do not believe that he would ever want this situation to happen to you. You are certain that this situation is being caused by squirreling or unhatted staff, or even SPs who have infiltrated the organization. You study a lot of tech and policy and write a lot of KRs and Crams on staff to make it stop.
The Shocked Phase – None of your KSW actions have worked. And you begin to see that the whole organization is set up against having your KSW actions working. Your status as a Scientologist is questioned or threatened for having standardly applied KSW. You thought everyone was on the same page as you in this shoulder to shoulder effort to clear the planet, but you are shocked to find that they are not. Your words and intentions are twisted by ethics officers and other staff and other Scientologists. You start to get shunned by your friends as being “out-ethics”. You are accused of having false and evil purposes against Scientology.
The Introversion Phase – As a last ditch effort to handle this Scientology problem in your life, and to redeem some of your standing in the group, you decide on the possibility that it was all your fault. This bad situation is something coming from your “case” that you were not able to see, and you cave to the intense Scientology social coercion being applied to you and decide to undergo some FPRD sec check, or repair of past ethics conditions, or some other extensive – and expensive – handling that will prove that it was never Scientology – it was always how you were seeing Scientology. You are willing to consider that the problem is yours because of all the time and effort you’ve spent in Scientology, and how much you’d devoted yourself to it. After all, you should not just throw it all away. You still want to handle things “standardly”.
The Realization Phase – You realize that what is an outpoint to you is a pluspoint for staff, and that is the way the whole thing was set up. You realize that your self-interests and the Church’s self-interests are completely at odds. You may not spot that it was set up this way originally by L Ron Hubbard, and you may think that the whole of the Church is squirreling. But what you do know now is that no matter how much KSW you apply, it will not handle this problem in your life that is coming from Scientology. This problem that you have is coming from standard Scientology itself. You secretly realize that the only way to handle this is to get completely away from Scientology. As a Scientologist, you realize that Scientology is a very real source of suppression in your life, and you need to disconnect from it.
The “Between Lives” or “Bardo” Area You are beginning to realize that your old self is not who you need to be any more, and that your life is changing. The ground is, almost literally, shifting beneath your feet. Down is up, up is down, and it feels like there is almost nothing solid in your life that you can grab on to. You are literally between lives, and you have no idea what the new life will be like.
The Terrified Phase – You realize that all the PTS/SP technology that you studied will be applied to YOU now if you rock the boat or tell others what you’ve realized. This is not a “win” or Cognition that can be shared with anyone else. You start to see how much the Church has infiltrated your whole life and every relationship you have. You realize that you could lose everything you have built in your life as a Scientologist if you do not handle this right. Because you have written everything up in the KSW phase, and the subsequent phases to that, you have tipped your hand to them. You may become aware of indications that you are being followed.
Depending on who you’ve talked to and where, you begin to realize that they are sending assets in to question and surveil you. You realize that they consider you an enemy now, and you have no one to help you.
You feel utterly alone.
The Confused and Lost Phase – You feel very betrayed that this group which used to be the most helpful and beneficial thing in your life – this technology that gave your whole world hope, isn’t what it represented itself to be. You are deeply confused with no where to turn, and totally lost as to what to do next.
The Internet Gawking Phase – You spend 20-30 hours per week reading everything you can about Scientology on the Internet. You are not participating in conversations just yet, you are just consuming, harvesting, as much information as you can about Scientology from all these other people and sources you never allowed yourself to learn from before. You are gobsmacked, gaping, and gawking at the stories of L Ron Hubbard’s real biography, David Miscavige’s violent psychopathy, and the Sea Org’s utter depravity. Some things you were actively deceived about, other things were energetically hidden from you, and some things you only caught glimpses of. A few things you saw, but actively looked away from. Not now though. Now you want to see it ALL.
The Limbo Phase – You are both a Scientologist and an Ex-Scientologist at the same time. Around friends, family, and business associates who are Scientologists, you are still a Scientologist too. You use the lingo and the thinking and every part of your old Scientology self. But now, with all the new information you’ve been learning about Scientology from the Internet, you are also disgusted with Scientology and are ALSO out. The difficulties and uncertainties here continue to play out all around you at this time of your life. Everything is changing for you and you are coping the best you can.
The Phases of Ex-Scientology Involvement
The Realization of the Extent of Betrayal Phase – You start to absorb and assimilate answers to long-running questions that could never be answered for you while you were still in the Church. You remember some of the questions you asked as you were first getting involved, while they were recruiting you, and you realize that the answers you were given were mostly lies, told to you over and over in order to get you to decide to become a Scientologist. If you still believe in the tech at this point, you will assign all this lying and betrayal to David Miscavige and various leaders of the Church. Depending on the extent and magnitude of the help you received in Scientology, you may still remain loyal to LRH but see David Miscavige as a “whole track SP who is destroying Scientology”.
The one thing that you do know now: You are never going back into the Church of Scientology again.
The Negotiation/Recrimination/Fair Game Phase – You have unfinished business with the Church. This may range from still having money on account at various orgs to children or family still in Scientology who are now “handling” your “out-ethics” with threats of disconnection. If you work for Scientologists, you may get fired from your job. If you have Scientology business partners, they begin to take steps to distance you. Depending on how open or public you have been about your criticisms of the Church or Scientology, fair game – with the end goal of “shuddering you into silence” – begins at this point.
The Re-education/Re-interpretation Phase – You begin to see your experiences in Scientology completely differently than when you were a Scientologist. Practicing TRs becomes practicing hypnotism. You interpret the wins and benefits you experienced in Scientology as you being brainwashed and delusional. Hubbard’s lies and contradictions in Scientology tech and policy are totally clear to you now and you are learning more and more about how much of a “scam” the whole thing was each and every day. You start to use “scam” and “con” to describe Scientology now.
The Self-Humiliation Phase – You begin to berate yourself for being so stupid and so gullible. All you can see are the lies now. And how stupid you were for having ever gotten yourself involved in Scientology. Your self-confidence and self-esteem are at an all time low.
The Re-Enculturation Phase – Before, you had a Scientology-based skepticism and alienation from the institutions in society, such as psychology and psychiatry, government and law enforcement, the medical industry, etc. Now you begin to allow yourself to accept some of the legitimacy of these institutions and their ideas. You don’t see the evil and the danger in society that you used to see as a Scientologist. You realize that society is generally way more beneficial than you used to think it was. You start to take vacations and spend money on yourself, rather than Scientology. You feel a much greater sense of freedom than you ever did before. You feel immense relief that you are no longer involved in the Church of Scientology.
The Imprinting Phase (Number 2) – Just as you imprinted on Scientologists you looked up to when you became a Scientologist, there is usually a dominant group of Ex-Scientologists for you to imprint on at this time of your development as an Ex. Back in the 1950’s, there was Dr Joseph Winter to follow, whose viewpoints and ideas were adopted by Ex-Dianeticists of the day. Then there was a new generation of Exes from Saint Hill who followed William Burroughs as an Ex in the 1960’s. Then Paulette Cooper, and Robert Kaufmann in the 1970’s. David Mayo and others in the 1980’s came out in with the first huge wave of Scientology Independents. And then, with the rise of the Internet, came Gerry Armstrong, Vaughn Young, and Stacy Brooks in the 90’s/2000’s. Then there came Marty, Mike and Karen and their 2nd wave of Independents all leaving the Church. Now it’s Tony Ortega, Mike Rinder and Leah Remini for Exes to imprint on, and to adopt their attitudes, viewpoints, and ideas as their own, and to follow around like ducklings behind a mother duck.
The Spoiled Apostate Phase – Through the process of questioning many of your most deeply held beliefs, you begin to feel like a teenager feels about his parents. You become aware of the tyranny of control that their ideas had on you about life and who you are. As a teenager grows up, he breaks free of his parent’s control over his thinking, and he goes through a period of rebellion.
In the same way, strong religious belief can act just like a domineering parent. Ex-scientologists often go through a period of outright rebellion against Scientology, L Ron Hubbard, DM in the same way. This process is called apostasy by social scientists, and it happens to a greater or lesser degree within all populations of Exes, no matter what the religion. I think that it’s because one’s religious beliefs define so much of one’s own self-identity. Like a teenager finding out who he really is, and what he really thinks, the rebellion phase for an Ex-Scientologist can be just as strong.
The Militant Internet Crusader Phase – You have now joined the fray. There is a war against Scientology on the Internet (and now on TV and in global media) and if you are not actively posting or creating content against scientology, you are lurking from the sidelines and cheering others on. The up and down emotions you feel about Scientology that come from your computer screen are intense. You may find yourself crying regularly, or going into fits of rage at the Scientology injustices you see described in the media and on the Internet.
You are now a part of the anti-Scientology tribe. You are experiencing the same tribal mind and emotions you had as a Scientologist, but now as an anti-Scientologist. Your sense of self-esteem, which was almost destroyed during the phases of leaving scientology, is now being rehabilitated in your new group of anti-scientologists who are fighting this righteous fight together with you. You may seek standing and renewed self-esteem in your new group as a leading warrior in the fight against the fraud and abuse of Scientology. You attack and defend others based on the anti-scientology tribal narrative you have adopted.
If your standing in your new tribe has become a source of self-esteem for you, this phase can last for many years – even decades.
The Bitter Disgust Phase – As the weeks months and years roll on, the negative emotions coming from the war against Scientology begin to become emotional habits that are deeply grooved in to your endocrine system and the neural pathways of your brain. You continually see the worst possible injustices repeated over and over – or the same ones mentioned over and over (such as Lisa McPherson etc.) – and you cement-in the most negative and destructive interpretations of your own experiences in Scientology. Disgust and bitterness are taking up larger percentages of your days, weeks, months, and years.
You are very bitter about Scientology and you openly attack anyone who might say anything positive, or even neutral, about L Ron Hubbard or Scientology at all. You seek to have those who disagree with the anti-Scientology tribal narrative discredited, banned from posting, or otherwise shuddered into silence.
The Catastrophizing Scientology Phase – All of your own positive experiences in Scientology have been buried and replaced with negative distortions and nightmare scenarios of the worst kinds. Only the worst versions of others’ worst experiences are acknowledged by you – even to yourself. Nothing that Scientology or any individual Scientologist does or achieves has any positive element, no matter how much familiarity with the situation you used to have as a Scientologist. Unfairness and cruelty are justified against the enemy in your daily fight to take Scientology down. No negative interpretation is too over the top to be questioned or moderated. In fact, you love the most horrific descriptions of Scientology and Scientologists that anyone can come up with.
The Hey-Wait-A-Minute Phase – You catch yourself crying at your computer screen, or raging to yourself. You begin to realize how much of your life has become wrapped up in total disgust and rage. You may have had some kind of nasty disagreement with another Ex and this makes you see the general nastiness of the environment that you’ve been involved in. You begin to realize that too much of your emotional life is wrapped up in negativity and that it is almost all coming from your involvement in Ex-Scientology.
The Wider Perspective Phase – You begin to remember some of the positive things you experienced in Scientology. Within this context, you begin to see the inaccuracy of some of the over the top negativity and nastiness of every day internet anti-Scientology.
The “Got to Get Away From All This Bullshit” Phase – You decide that, for your own good, you need to take a break from anything related to Scientology. You remember when you didn’t have any of this negativity in your life and you seek to try to regain some of that quality of life again.
Gone – You struggle to break the habit of visiting anti-scientology websites every day. So you decide that you will just stop posting and engaging. You’ll still read, but you won’t post. Not being so involved now, you begin to see things that you weren’t able to see before. You begin to marvel at the absurdity and bitterness that some people are going through. This new awareness helps you to miss a few days of visiting the websites. You start to be able to intentionally do things that you enjoy. You get a glimpse of some peace in your life after Scientology.
Like a sky clearing of all its dark clouds, you feel a great relief not holding on to the self-identity of “Ex-Scientologist”, and rebuilding your life without any kind of Scientology in it.
After a while away from all the partisanship and tribal blindness, you remember some of the value of the good things you learned in Scientology like TRs, for instance. The skills of listening and seeking to “duplicate” and understand another person’s viewpoint is a valuable skill. You feel a kind of conflict in recognizing the value of TRs, and you may think that you don’t want any of your Ex-Scientologist friends to know that you think this. You know no one will understand. So you just hold on to that, privately, to yourself.
Return – A new book is released, or a documentary on Scientology, or a TV series, or some kind of an event brings you back to a Scientology website. You see some of your old friends posting there. So you make a post. You are warmly welcomed. You laugh and have fun again with them. Then you go back another day and post.
And after a few days, or a week, you find yourself crying again. Or in a rage at the injustices of Scientology. And like dark storm clouds moving in before the storm, you realize that it is all back. The peace that you had generated for yourself is now gone.
But you have unfinished business to tend to. One last thing you need to say. One last thing to correct. And now you realize you are deep in the shit, in some ways way worse than before.
You remember the quote from Nietzsche:
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
So many decades of denied justice for the victims of Scientology is taking its toll on you, and everybody else in this space.
Gone – You take another stab at walking away. You might have developed habits or projects that got your mind off Scientology during your first “Gone” period, and you pick those up again. You are more successful at not going to any Scientology websites or message boards this time around. After a few days, you realize that you haven’t thought about Scientology in a day or two, and it feels like a “win”.
Context becomes king. You realize that not just LRH or David Miscavige use PIs to follow and harass their critics and fair game them in an attempt to shudder them into silence. You see political pundits for Republicans and Democrats in the media using similar tactics that Scientology uses to obfuscate and deny.
You realize that lots of behaviors you saw from Scientology and were outraged by when you were an Ex-Scientologist, especially during your militant phase, is common human behavior. You perceive a kind of blindness in yourself beginning to lift, and you can see where sometimes Scientology arguments, such as disconnecting from someone who continually invalidates you, are legitimate. You may wonder how critics who themselves disconnect from people all the time can continue make Scientology disconnection into such a simplistic issue – even arrogantly and self-righteously reaching into other peoples’ families and telling them how they should never disconnect from each other.
You gain a perspective on the “fraud and abuse” in Scientology. While the lying and abusive bullying in Scientology is still clearly evident, it becomes harder to find the actual crimes that you were positive were there, but only needed someone – anyone – to provide the evidence for.
You may go back to a Scientology website or a message board, and become appalled at the cruelty and pathological behavior that Exes display to each other while in their militant Ex phase. You remember how 90% of the people that ISIS kills are other Muslims, because by ISIS’ militant standards, they weren’t Muslim enough.
You see blatant trolling and manipulation of the emotions of Ex-Scientologists by Scientology critics who have developed new self-identities, new followers, and new income streams off of their Scientology criticism, such as Tony Ortega, Chris Shelton and Karen De La Carriere. You know that you would be their next target for destruction, right behind David Miscavige and Marty Rathbun, should you ever say anything about it. You know what they, and their followers, do to people who do not fall in line with them. You may realize that some of the cyber-bulling that you have seen or experienced from militant Ex-Scientologists can be way worse than any abuse you received from anyone in Scientology.
Now that earlier “Hey Wait a Minute!” Phase is really clanging in your brain. You realize that for a while there, you simply traded your Scientology fanaticism for Ex-Scientology fanaticism – just like Eric Hoffer said in The True Believer so long ago:
“Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.”
Now you just want a find a new purpose to your life that isn’t part of a war of some kind. You value moderating reason, nurturing love, and restful and respectful peace more than any time of your life. For a person who went so far as to get themselves involved in Scientology, finding that purpose in normal, every day life can be especially difficult.
But you continue to try.
When you do think about Scientology, instead of Ex-Scientology, you think something like this:
Gone You begin to realize how slanted and emotionalized the thinking is in Ex-Scientology. Everywhere you go on the internet, you see the same memes, the same jokes, the same toxic and intolerant attitudes displayed over and over. You notice a decided lack of originality among the participants. It’s actually getting very boring for you. Each trip you make back into the world of Ex-Scientology, after being away from it in one of the earlier “gone phases” above, has less and less reward, less and less pleasure.
The Ex-Scientology phase of your life has shot its wad.
No longer at war with Scientology, you begin to re-evaluate your experiences in ways unique to you and your own life now. You no longer look on your time in Scientology, in Ex-Scientology or even in Anti-Scientology as anything other than previous life experiences – valuable life lessons that have enriched your understanding of life, and made you the person you are today. You truly look on your time and are satisfied that you are wiser for the experience. And you would not have traded any of it for the world.
Then You realize that Scientology isn’t as good as Scientologists say it is & it isn’t as bad as Anti-Scientologists say it is. You fully realize that AntiCultists aren’t morally superior to Cultists, nor less hypocritical, nor less cruel – nor more rational.
You realize the period of your life you just came through: You see that just as a teenager grows independent of his parents, a person emerging out of a minority religion grows independent of his former religious beliefs. A period of apostasy ensued, like you were a spoiled teenager, where you, as a former cult member were fighting to become your own person again.
You begin to realize that once you’ve seen this, you can never un-see it. You keep seeing what you’ve learned, over and over, everywhere – and in everyone – still making their way through it.
You are now Hell and Gone.