An Argument for An Ex-Scientologist to Examine:
If the truth about something is BOTH the good and the bad of it, then it is impossible to recognize the full truth about something if you are biased, or partisan, or “tribal” about it.
The tribal narrative, in the case of a Scientologist, is overwhelmingly FOR Scientology.
The tribal narrative, in the case of an anti-Scientologist, is overwhelmingly AGAINST Scientology.
Therefore, if the truth about Scientology is BOTH the good and the bad, then neither a Scientologist nor an Anti-Scientologist is capable of telling the truth about Scientology.
The whole truth about Scientology, both the good and the bad, goes against what each stands for, survives on, and tells each other over and over, every day.
Both these tribes are threatened by the other side of the truth about Scientology.
Both Scientologists and Anti-Scientologists – if they are Exes and should know better – disconnect from huge parts of themselves and their own experiences.
I’ll explain the obstacles I faced trying to heal from my own disconnected state by focusing on those who have never been involved in Scientology.
The Negative Effects of “Never-ins” on Ex-Scientologists
While many people who were never in Scientology have shared important insights on the subject, and have shown a lot of sympathy for Exes, the majority of never-ins have a distorted understanding of Scientology.
Because they were never in Scientology.
Some never-ins are tolerant of spiritual and religious pursuits. But the overwhelming majority of never-ins who have been attracted to Scientology-watching are atheists with contempt for any religious or spiritual activity. That basic contempt shines through in a shit-pile of assumptions about how an Ex-Scientologist should view himself and his time in Scientology.
Atheistic never-ins would never have gotten involved in anything spiritual, let alone Scientology. They see doing anything spiritual in life as a weakness, a delusion, or at least a big mistake. They assign all kinds of negative personality traits to anyone who would do that, and they hold those negative personality traits out with contempt and disgust to Ex-Scientologists every day.
This is why I have realized that hanging out too long on the Internet with atheistic never-ins can create a biased environment for people who have been involved in Scientology. Why? Because never-ins rarely know what they are talking about.
For two reasons:
- They are not you and they did not experience what you experienced in Scientology. They distract you from your own experiences in Scientology and expect you to color them with their colors.
- If they are an atheistic never-in, they can not conceive of ever doing anything spiritual with their own lives. They think you only became a Scientologist out of weakness, or delusion.
I believe that these people create anti-Scientologist tribal messaging that too many Ex-Scientologists internalize without inspection.
That anti-Scientologist messaging includes some of these talking points:
- You were stupid to have ever gotten yourself involved in Scientology.
- You were weak or delusional when you continued.
- You were abused and treated cruelly by other Scientologists when you were in Scientology
- You were abusive and cruel when you were a Scientologist, or you witnessed abuse and cruelty and did nothing about it.
- Most everyone who was ever in Scientology was as fanatical as David Miscavige or any other brainwashed Sea Org member.
These views can act as insidious assumptions that poison your decision-making about your former self and the reasons you got involved in Scientology, stayed in Scientology, and finally left it.
People who haven’t been through the experiences that Ex-Scientologists have been through have not learned the huge life lessons that come from being an Ex-Scientologist. They lack the valuable life wisdom (yes, wisdom) that one gains for having been through something like Scientology.
These lessons can benefit every area of your life.
An Ex-Scientologist who becomes an Anti-Scientologist will bury the good and emphasize the bad of having been a Scientologist. Not only will he emphasize the bad, but through the process of re-remembering the events in his life as a Scientologist, he will distort his memory and make it worse – to fit the acceptable tribal narrative of the anti-Scientologist.
An Ex-Scientologist can end up re-evaluating the events he experienced as a Scientologist in the worst possible way. And the horror stories that he can end up telling himself about who he was when he was a Scientologist, over and over, will never be true enough to be constructive.
Some stories he tells himself will be completely false – and very destructive.
And so when you hear an Ex-Scientologist stand up in front of an anti-scientology crowd and talk about how he wasted 10-20-30-40 years of his life in Scientology, then you are watching a person who is harming himself. He is harming himself by walling off and disassociating from huge sections of his own unique experience. He is usually doing this because he is trying to fit in with what the rest of his anti-Scientology tribe wants to hear.
Like the idiot I am, I care about what happens to Ex-Scientologists. I’m not saying that never-in Scientology-watchers are bad people. In fact, they are very good people and extremely compassionate or they would never be spending the time they are exposing Scientology.
I’m saying that, for the reasons above, they don’t get it.
And they never will get it.
Ordered to Die Underneath an Air Conditioner
I was in Scientology for 16 years, spending 7.5 of those years on staff in low level missions. Never in the Sea Org, and especially never at Int Base.
In 1999-2000, when I first got out, former RTC Exec Jesse Prince was telling stories of the craziness that went on at the Int Base. One story he tells is of an SO member with breast cancer, who was placed, with no medical treatment including pain medication, in an empty house underneath an air-conditioner, and told to “End Cycle.”
She screamed in pain for weeks and no one did anything to help her. They were ordered not to.
When I read about that (and many other stories of horrific cruelty and abuse when I first left the Church of Scientology) I got very very angry. I could not believe that I had been deceived so thoroughly by these people. I would have NEVER given 7.5 years of my life, working for them on staff for free, if I had known anything about things like this that they did to people.
I became very embarrassed that I was ever a Scientologist. I apologized to people. I actually forgot about myself and my own experiences in Scientology and began doing everything I could to expose it. I wanted to warn the public so that those completely inhuman fanatics at Int Base could not lie to, deceive, or abuse anyone else ever again.
During those years, having forgotten all about myself and my own experiences, I began to re-interpret my own experiences in Scientology from the viewpoint of all the horror stories of abuse that other ex-members were writing about.
The stories that I would tell myself about my own life started to become distorted, and I began to assign all kinds of harm, lying, and abuse to people in my life who were simply being biased in favor of Scientology, or just being “tribal”. I forgot whole swaths of the good I did for people, and the good that I experienced while I was a Scientologist.
The fact is, coming from the cornfields and staying at the mission level while living in Los Angeles, I never saw any abuse in Scientology until I started being exposed to Sea Org members.
The Sea Org is the culmination of LRH’s brainwashing technology development. I think it is important for an Ex to recognize that it is the Sea Org which emanates almost all the crazy fanaticism in Scientology. Low-level non-SO org staff members can become radicalized – especially after they have been “handled”, or re-conditioned, by their SO managers – but they usually have to moderate their fanaticism pretty quickly when they come back home, or the public will be too horrified by them.
The fact is that there isn’t very much actual abuse in Scientology outside the Sea Org.
I think it is very important to remember that.
So to disabuse myself of this false and distorted self-talk, I had to become more disciplined in telling myself stories about my own time in Scientology. I had to re-examine my sometimes over-emotional reactions to what I had learned that Scientology was doing to others and to ask myself things – very simple things – like, “OK. That woman was forced to die underneath an air conditioner. But was *I* forced to die underneath an air conditioner?”
My answer in this kind of disputation process was “no” – it only felt like it was done to me.
Then I had to ask, “All right then, exactly what was done to me?”
The great majority of Scientologists never joined the Sea Org. Public of non-SO orgs were almost never exposed to their brainwashed fanaticism. You should not let SO stories of abuse become your own – if you were never abused.
And if you were abused, you should maintain discipline in how you interpret that abuse for yourself, so that you do not allow that one incident of abuse in Scientology – or even those many incidents of abuse – ruin your whole life thereafter.
One of the most damaging things about “Scientology-watching” for Ex-Scientologists, is replaying and re-telling any stories of abuse you suffered over and over for others in order to expose Scientology. You can create a PTSD type situation for yourself because you keep telling the same stories over and over and are never allowed to move on.
Disputing Your Own Cognitive Distortions
Thinking with cognitive distortions can be a major cause of anxiety and depression. It’s important to watch out for these distortions in your own self-talk and to be as disciplined and truthful as you can be with yourself.
This re-evaluation of who you were when you were a Scientologist is not a social thing. It is an intimately personal thing. And when I did this myself, some really great things started to happen to me. I was no longer dissociated with my earlier self – the one that got into Scientology and became a Scientologist.
Because Scientology exploits the best in people, your earlier self – your helpful and courageous and rebellious and curious and spiritually seeking self – is the best part of you. To dismiss that part of you, to wall it off under labels of “delusional Scientologist” or “weak” or “crazy loon” is to remain in a dissociative state – to continue living a fractured life with some of the best parts of you buried underneath a wall of self-hatred and shame.
The process of embracing your inner Scientologist is not the process of embracing Scientology.
It is the process of listening to the stories you are telling yourself about Scientology, and embracing the person you were when you got yourself involved – and then asking yourself if those stories are really true? And if not – what is the truth?
That process, I believe, is extremely important for an Ex-Scientologist in his life after Scientology.
There is a great book about how to do this process, written by Martin Seligman, one of the founders of cognitive behavioral therapy. He teaches you how to do it on yourself.
This was helpful for me.
I hope that this can be helpful to other Ex-Scientologists, too.
Links in this series:
Part 1: Critical Thinking on Scientology and Ex-Scientology
Part 2: Binded and Blinded By the Tribal Mind
Part 3: Never Go Full Anti
Part 4: Embrace Your Inner Scientologist
4 thoughts on “Embrace Your Inner Scientologist”
Nicely written article, Alanzo. I think the message you are trying to get across is fair, rare, and important out here in the blogging-about-Scientology zone.
I was In the Sea Org. I was at the Int base. I saw and experienced personally some truly horrific instances of abuse but I also experienced some truly amazing and fun times while there with some really good people. Despite some really awful people that were there as well.
That’s why I like to use the term “I graduated from Scientology.” That statement acknowledges the need I had for it, or something like it at the time I got involved, through the realization that I’d gotten all I could get out of it and to remain would be pointless. Thus, I left the campus behind with this mixture of experience and became an alumni.
I still have an interest watching the organization at the end of its life because of this mixture of both good and bad. And occasionally, some thoughtful blog article or comment helps me sort out something I didn’t know I still had some mixed up thinking about.
I’m happy, successful, more than solvent, and still interested and enthusiastic about life. I got everything I ever wanted from Scientology.
To restate my last paragraph, I now have everything I had originally hoped Scientology would help me to get, but I got it in spite of Scientology but also, in all honesty, because of the positive changes in myself that Scientology assisted me with.
I stayed too long in Scientology and toward the end, to remain associated with it was more detrimental than beneficial. That I believe is largely due to how the church has morphed more and more into a full-on cult, but also, my personal evolution that took me beyond wanting that kind of an influence anywhere near me.
Another way of looking at this…if you were to tell someone you were in a horror-filled, mind-controlling cult for 30 years, where physical, mental and spiritual abuse occurred – the first thing they would ask you – “Why did you stay for 30 years?” Completely legitimate question.
If you honestly answer that question, you would have to admit that there were good times (e.g. starting a new auditing action that you’ve always wanted to do; having cognitions on course; being with friends and sharing that elitist reality, etc.), and recognize that it wasn’t all that bad. At the same time you could also recognize the unpleasant, bat-shit crazy things that YOU experienced.
When I started into Scn 30-some-odd years ago, I had a very simple condition – I will do this as long as I get something out of it.
I never thought that I would have to evaluate that condition 30 years down the road, but that is exactly what I ended up doing. My involvement in Scn became more trouble than it was worth. Not enough case gain for the money being spent; inconsistent or bad results; continual demands for money; being verbally threatened with the break-up of my family, financial hardship and other unpleasant things; catching them red-handed lying to me…well, you get the picture.
You put all that on a scale, and suddenly you find that the scales have tipped. Scn was no longer worth being a part of.
It wasn’t 30 years of bad shit. It was 30 years of hope and possibilities, marred by occasional insanity…and a WHOLE lot of insanity at the end.
A milestone, for me, in graduating from Scn, was the recognition that I was PTS to the church. That the church was emanating so much turmoil, so much anxiety, so much stress, all headed in my direction – that I felt my life would be better off without them. While this may be not a universal occurrence, but it has come up a number of times on various forums. It is a pivotal moment.
This is a perfect example of when the church was in a lower condition to ME. And yet, there I sat in the MAAs office writing up MY lower conditions. The church cannot conceive that it can be in a lower condition to its members.
This is a comment placed on ESMB by the excellent poster there named “Student of Trinity”, who is a never-in critic of Scientology. He is one of the people I have always been grateful to for his insight and thoughtful, caring approach.
He has written some of the best critiques of Scientology I have ever read.
My article was the result of an evolution of critical thinking and of clearing away cognitive distortions from the time when I was a Scientologist, and from the time when I was an Ex-Scientologist as well.
When a new Scientologist stands up in front of the group and gives his Success Stories about how wonderful the tech and LRH were, the other Scientologists would swell with pride. The new Scientologist was becoming enculturated. And the new Scientologist was saying all the right things. He was becoming a Scientologist. Having worked in Scientology missions for 7.5 years, I am very familiar with this process.
This process happens for any human group, including the group of Anti-Scientologists.
The equivalent to the Success Story in the Anti-Scientology Culture is standing up and talking about how despicable Scientology was for you – despite spending 10-20-30-40 years of your life in it. There is applause by the other anti-Scientologists. And group status is bestowed upon you, and all kinds of valuable things you can win are held out for you as a new member of the Anti-Scientology Club.
Just like in Scientology.
For an Ex-Scientologist, there comes a point, in order to graduate from both Scientology and anti-Scientology, where you simply drop the destructive cognitive distortions of both groups and value yourself and your own unique experiences from your own life more.
If the Anti-Scientology Crowd can not handle that, then I am afraid you are as useless to me now as Scientology became to me 15 years ago.
Thanks for all your encouragement and applause when I joined your group.
I learned a lot and I appreciate all your help.
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