Many active scientologists believe they have obtained benefit from scientology processing. This is not proof that in fact they have obtained benefit, because processing and training result in the dulling of one's critical faculties, and are specifically designed and conducted to create in the mind of the preclear the very delusion that benefit has been obtained. Apt parallels are the drug addict and the inebriate who, in their bemused state, have feelings of well-being.
Early in the Inquiry, Williams gave evidence that, on the HASI statistics, 96 per cent. of those who had received processing at the HGC had obtained benefit therefrom. The manner in which this figure was arrived at seemed unsatisfactory at the time the evidence was given; after hearing evidence of several witnesses who claimed to have benefited and after studying files of preclears who have had processing, the Board is satisfied that almost all the benefits claimed to have been received from processing are quite illusory and this optimistic figure cannot be accepted. The degree and the nature of the benefits do not appear in the statistics, and as the basis of determining whether there has been a benefit is primarily the preclear's subjective appraisal at or shortly after the end of a session, any statement which, at that stage the preclear may make as to benefits should be heavily discounted.
One of the characteristics of scientology processing and training is that a preclear develops a great degree of dependency on the auditor and the HASI. This result is deliberately sought by Hubbard. At the end of a processing session a preclear may be in a highly emotional and exalted state and temporarily so enthusiastic and dependent on the auditor that his own assessment of his own "case gain" affords no guide to the true position. The assessment of case gains is a self-deluding process, for the auditor is aiming for a gain in the preclear and it requires but little skill on the auditor's part to suggest to the highly susceptible preclear the auditor's desire for a gain, with which suggestion the preclear obligingly complies. A preclear's confidence in his auditor generally enables the auditor to audit until he gets a gain before he ends the session. The duration of the gain does not matter. In the demonstration sessions which were staged for the Board's information, one marked feature was the evident desire of the preclear to please the auditor. Even if a preclear did not feel there had been a gain, the innate politeness of a patient to a practitioner would generally prompt the patient to concede some benefit. The figure of 96 per cent. was not compiled on any scientific basis, and was not capable of being checked or verified. It was an inherently improbable figure and the subsequent evidence made it quite obvious that the figure could not be accepted.
The Board is satisfied that, if there are any cases in which a preclear has obtained any real benefit from scientology processing, the number of such cases is negligible and that such benefit has occurred in spite of scientology processing rather than because of it. When speaking of "real benefit", the Board does not include within that expression any temporary apparent benefit which requires continued processing to maintain the preclear in such a state of "benefit".
The feeling of benefit, of being better and happier, is akin to the elation following the taking of a drug. It is common experience in psychotherapy for a patient readily to acknowledge that there has been a gain, even though the practitioner is satisfied that such a gain has not been obtained or is illusory. The psychotherapist, if properly trained and aware of the danger and delicacy of the position, is at pains to guard against the too ready "improvement" which results from the patient's dependency on the practitioner and his desire to please. The degree of suggestibility is high in all forms of psychotherapy; in scientology auditing the same situation obtains, probably to a greatly accentuated degree because the auditor is not trained in any real sense, is unaware of the implications and pitfalls, is blindly confident that the preclear will experience a gain by being processed and is, unwittingly perhaps but nevertheless wholeheartedly, using pernicious hypnotic techniques where all the risks of doing harm are greatly intensified.
A number of witnesses gave evidence of benefits they had received from scientology processing, and it seemed they believed it was scientology that was responsible for such improvements in their lot. Yet, in many cases, there was a natural and normal explanation for a change in their outlook on life. Thus, there was the University student who was so shy that she
used to eat her lunch in the wash room; she took up scientology, married and thereafter found life far more pleasant and less frightening. Another witness, a railway employee stationed in an outback Western Australian settlement, on the advice of the HASI in Perth, came East and found that his talent lay in salesmanship in which he prospered. A worried factory foreman found that promotion brought with it less worry; he attributed the lessening of worry to scientology. A man with a poisoned leg attributed its cure to scientology processing and ignored the fact that he was currently receiving medical treatment. A man who was a University graduate claimed that it was scientology that cured his "golden staph" infection because he had taken 20 hours' auditing at the end of which he had had a "cognition" to see a doctor, which he then did, and was cured. A farmer prospered on taking over his parents' firm which he worked more successfully by using modern methods but he attributed success to scientology. Several witnesses gave evidence of improvement in such general terms as being able to get on better with people, being able to handle problems more confidently and successfully, being able to do housework more quickly, being able to do one's job better, feeling more confident, &c. The benefits claimed to have been experienced were subjective to the witness concerned and incapable of proof by a demonstration.
The attitude of these witnesses varied. Some were almost defiant in their assertions that scientology had benefited them; others had a brittle and, it seemed, forced cheerfulness. They all answered with assurance the questions asked them, even though their answers were sometimes nonsensical; they showed considerable mental agility in parrying cross-examination and they made repeated use of scientology phrases to their own satisfaction, but often their answers lacked logic and were sometimes inane. Gillham, for instance, said that time could be created in scientology by a person, using scientology, doing in half an hour a task which had formerly taken him an hour to do: in other words, he said, half an hour of time had been created. These witnesses seemed to think that the stock scientology answer necessarily proved their viewpoint. Some were currently undergoing auditing or had been recently audited, and many had received scientology training. All were still in communication with the HASI, and were eager to vouch for scientology, even though their evidence in several instances was directly in conflict with the contents of their processing files.
Many of these files indicated that auditing for them had not been an unalloyed joy: on the contrary, it appeared that many had had more than one period of processing, the second and subsequent periods being sometimes designed to repair the effect of certain earlier processing which had produced undesirable results, or to restore the "benefits" of earlier processing which had worn off. Of course, the aim of processing was to produce in the preclear a feeling of benefit, but therein lay its great danger and potential evil, for the effect of processing was often to produce in the preclear a feeling or quality of elation with nothing but delusion to sustain it and when the effect of the auditing wore off the preclear lost the belief that he was " able" and became the victim of disillusion and despair.
The danger of relying on the opinion of a preclear or his auditor that he has obtained benefit from auditing was emphasized by evidence in three specific instances. In one case, a male preclear was processed to a state of great enthusiasm, and three days later was apprehended as a violent and raving lunatic. In another case, the Board witnessed the processing of a female preclear in a demonstration session, at the close of which she stated she had had gains, yet nine days later she was admitted to a mental hospital. The third case was that of a male preclear, obsessed by the mystery of his parentage, who was processed to such a stage that half way through the course he suddenly went interstate possessed of an almost ecstatic resolve to do something about clearing up the mystery, and on returning to Victoria had to be taken into custody and was committed to a mental hospital.
At an elementary stage the personal efficiency course may well have given to some preclears a degree of confidence in themselves, thereby enabling them to confront and cope more successfully with their everyday problems by the realization that their own ability and initiative, properly directed, were adequate to deal with everyday tasks. Had the tuition stopped at that point, where the preclears had been made aware of their own capacity to cope with ordinary problems, there would be perhaps little criticism. But the purpose of the personal efficiency course was not to give people benefit as such: it was, as Hubbard had directed, to lure the unsuspecting person into the web of scientology which was being spun around him by a combination of conventional techniques and scientology mystique.
There exist many establishments, commercial as well as voluntary, where people are encouraged to develop their dormant or ill-developed skills, and where confidence in oneself and how to overcome "complexes" and adjustment to surroundings and to people generally are taught. Such establishments are teaching people to overcome inhibitions which are handicapping them socially or in business or employment. They use well recognized means which acknowledge that the abilities which are being developed are innate to, and involve the development in, the individuals concerned of an awareness of their potential powers and a justifiable confidence in
themselves. In the personal efficiency course, something of this nature is dabbled in, not, however, as the end, but as the means of deliberately trapping people for further processing and training.
It was apparent that several of the witnesses who claimed to have received benefits from scientology were looking forward to further processing to sustain the illusion of well-being. Repeated bouts of processing were necessary to maintain the attitude of blindness to reality which preclears appeared to have. They were sustained in their elated condition by the acceptance of the theories which Hubbard taught as to thetans, past lives, implants, immortal destiny and the ultimate goals of being clear and OT. They were as uncritical of the unreality of these things as they were of the weird and fanciful world in which scientology allowed them to move. Indeed, they are the tragic figures of scientology, these unfortunate creatures whose apparent happiness and confidence are resting on such uncertain props, for when the props go, as eventually they must, the realization of the extent and nature of their deception will be quite shattering.
Scientology offers a ready refuge for those who are uncertain of their future and who are afraid to face reality and cope with the problems of life. Psychiatrists recognize that there is such a thing as a healthy anxiety about one's future, for such an anxiety keeps a person face to face with reality and spurs him on to the attainment of goals normal to any member of the community according to his environment, be he student, artisan, executive or professional. Scientology introduces the preclear to a make-believe world where the sense of urgency is lost and where he develops the delusion that, because he is in scientology, he will be able to achieve by postulation what otherwise he could acquire only by study or hard work outside the fold of scientology. Along this pathway lies disaster.
Typical of the abandonment of reality is the case of one preclear who was seriously worried about certain aspects of his business and who undertook processing for the purpose of finding the solution to his problem. His attitude of mind when he emerged from processing was that the problem was not worth worrying about. This attitude resulted in his neglecting the problem.
Prolonged and anxious consideration of the evidence as to whether any real benefits result from processing by scientology leads the Board to the firm conclusion that virtually no benefits attend upon scientology processing and that such benefits as are claimed are in the large majority of cases, illusory and of short duration. On the contrary, the harm done by scientology processing is frequently serious and at times tragic.
Last updated 21 February 1997
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