Recovery From Scientology: What is That, Exactly?

recoveryI hear people talking about recovering from Scientology.

What does that mean?

Is there an “End Phenomenon” to that?

I have definitely changed quite a bit since getting out of Scn 13 years ago. At first I was terrified that I would lose everything. That was stupid: All I lost was my job, all my friends, almost all my business contacts, my religion, and my whole sense of self-identity.

In the first few years after getting out of Scientology, I became very bitter, and I adopted a lot of cognitive distortions on my experiences in Scientology.

Then I became more able to look at philosophy and religious beliefs again, and to assess what I had learned from my whole Scientology experience. I started to see that there were some very valuable lessons I had learned in Scientology. I even realized that what I went through in Scientology was inevitable for me, for the purpose I was pursuing and in using Scientology to pursue it. Kind of like learning addition on your way to learning multiplication, or learning finger-painting on your path to cutting out construction paper collages, I found that Scientology is the kindergarten of religions. And the lessons you learn in kindergarten can be fundamental to the rest of your life.

But now, I’m wondering about this whole “recovered” thing.

What does that mean?

I’m sure the Church would like there to be an “EP” to “Recovery From Scientology”.  And I think they would like that “EP” to be “Feel no more need to criticize or expose the Church’s abuses, or L Ron Hubbard’s, and gaining the ability to move on quietly.” Or maybe they would prefer, “Fully shuddered into silence”.

I don’t think that is a trait of someone who has recovered from being in an abusive cult like Scientology. I think part of recovery in the case of someone who has experienced abuse is to report all crimes and abuse you witnessed to the proper authorities, and then to warn the public about what you know so that others don’t get harmed by them like you and others were.

But once you’ve done that, then what?

I’m wondering now if being once involved in Scn has to be thought of as a state of disease, or some kind of bad surgery, from which you have to “recover”

I’m not a psychologist, and I have no training in psychology, so you can take this post with a grain of salt. I’m just writing stuff about my own experiences after Scientology.

I think that a state of Recovery from Scientology would have something like the following traits:

    • No longer using the ideology, terminology, or “stable data” of Scientology to think with in your life.
    • Not thinking about how to “handle” something the L Ron Hubbard way.
    • No longer worried about consequences of once being in Scientology
    • No longer afraid of the repercussions of living and speaking freely about Scientology
    • Taking the purpose you had in your life for doing Scientology and finding a more productive and sustainable way than Scientology to accomplish it
    • Able to speak with full-on Scientologists without trying to change their minds about anything
    • Fully healed from all wounds from having had the most sacred part of yourself completely exploited and betrayed
    • Moving on with life with the same or more vigor and enthusiasm that you had in your most idealistic and productive times in Scientology

    I believe that these are achieved mostly by:

    1. Learning the vital tools of logic and critical thinking, and using these to examine your reasoning and testing the soundness of how you come to conclusions about things in life
    2. Your attempts to recover and understand your pre-Scn identity, who you told yourself you were before you got involved in Scientology
    3. How and why your self- identity (who you tell yourself you are) changed when you became a Scientologist, how L Ron Hubbard “helped” you to do that, and why you let him
    4. In addition to identifying your own vulnerabilities and responsibilities for the above – also identify what social and environmental forces were at work on you to “help” you make decisions as a Scientologist.
    5. Re-categorizing your experiences of Scientology into Earth-based contexts, such as “Dianetics” was NOT “a bolt from the blue” like Hubbard said. It was an exploitative mimicry of Freudian psychotherapy, etc.
    6. Last but not least – understanding what Hubbard was ACTUALLY doing without regard to what he SAID he was doing. The two are most often very different.

    Good questions to explore, for some, in doing this are:

    (And don’t worry about “listing”. There is no such thing as a reactive mind, or “charge” for that matter as LRH described it.)

    • What goals did you have before Scientology?
    • What problems did you have before Scientology?
    • How did you interpret Scientology’s promises to address those problems you had, and how did you believe that Scientology would help you to achieve your pre-Scientology goals?
    • What problems – at that time in your life – was Scientology a solution for?
    • Did you change your goals and pick up new problems once you became a Scientologist? Identify those very clearly in terms of time and place
    • What social forces were at work on you in your environment when you made some of your poorest changes to yourself in Scientology?
    • What social forces were at work on you in your environment when you made some of your best changes to yourself in Scientology?
    • What personal weaknesses and vulnerabilities did you have at that time, and how have you coped with these since leaving Scientology?
    • What information were you missing about Scientology’s history. statistics, and true activities when you were first recruited and “agreed” to become a Scientologist?
    • What information have you discovered since then which would change that agreement to become a Scientologist?
    • Based on the information you have now, would you make the same agreements again?
    • Are there still “agreements” that you made while in Scientology that you are still following? Identify those.
    • Are there still problems that you picked for yourself in Scientology that you are trying to solve? Identify those
    • Do you still feel guilty about anything you did or thought while you were in Scientology? Find out what problem you were solving at that time.
    • Do you berate yourself for having gotten involved in Scientology? Find out what you were told, and look at the information you had – wiping away all hindsight bias from your investigation

    I’ve done a lot of these and more, and am still doing some of them. But I like to write about stuff, and that takes self-reflection. Not all people are like me and simply keep moving forward without all this navel-gazing.

    What seems to be universal, however, is that Scientology-installed reflexes come up and appear to you as you live your life, and old situations are remembered and re-evaluated. Because of this, recovery from Scientology does take time for just about everyone. I have found that, for me, if I keep these things in mind, I will re-evaluate things after Scientology more productively and constructively for myself.

    The trouble for me has been that I didn’t really like all the parts of my pre-scn identity and how my life was going when I got into Scientology. And Scientology – at the time I was first getting involved – DID CREATE an improvement in my life. Actually a huge improvement. There were definitely skills and attitudes that I developed as a cult member which were improvements over my pre-cult identity. (This is the “baby and the bathwater” syndrome that people refer to without ever actually describing what they are talking about.)

    What I have found though, is that many real improvements that were made in my life were not the ones that Scientology said were improvements, and they happened not because of Scientology at all, but because I used Scientology as my excuse to improve.

    Example: When I first got involved in Scientology in my early 20’s, I was trying to do things with my life that I myself found meaningful, rather than what was “cool”, or looked upon by others as worthwhile. It was the Reagan 80’s at that time, and I thought people were becoming very materialistic and shallow and I did not want to go in that direction. I found people in Scientology who were much more like me, and who valued a lot of the things that I valued. I displayed social courage to break out from my friends at that time. I started to do things that I wanted to do with my own life. This was ACTUALLY a huge source of newfound happiness for me, and that was something that was never part of the Scientology reasons for why I had become more happy with myself and my life.

    Scientology’s explanations for why I was happier blinded me to my own real reasons for being happier. I always had to blame Scientology for my happiness when I was a Scientologist. I could only blame myself for when I was not happy.

    So sorting those things out has been a bit of a process. But it’s been extremely valuable FOR ME.

    This is where I should mention the value of the latin phrase “semper anticus“: always forward.

    I still have a repulsion to picking up things I developed in myself as a Scientologist. It’s like there is some kind of poo, or pukey hair or something all over them, and I have to hose them off before I can easily accept them again.

    So maybe I should add that to the list of traits of those who have achieved “Recovery from Scientology” – No more repulsion with valid things that you learned as a Scientologist.