What is the Narconon programme?
The New Life Detoxification Program Picture Book

Last updated
11 December 2002
Contents > What is the Narconon programme? > The New Life Detoxification Program Picture Book


Part 2: "Proofing The Body"

The Narconon picture book's most extreme claims, on the subject of radiation, are left until this last section of the book. Curiously, Narconon appears to say very little in public about its promotion of radiation cures. Narconon Vancouver reproduces a "success story" which declares: "I have run out drugs, injuries and radiation to mention a few" (http://www.narconon-vancouver.org/narconon-rehab-success.html). An abstract of a research paper on Narconon Arrowhead's website describes the use of the Hubbard programme to "detoxify" children from the Chernobyl region who had suffered radiological exposure (http://www.stopaddiction.com/narconon_research_summaries.html). Narconon of San Diego has, apparently accidentally, published a test page on its website which has Hubbard extolling the "starrtling and often miraculou" (sic) results of the programme in dealing with radiation exposure (http://www.drugrehab.cc/niacin.php). These are, however, virtually the only references to this topic in Narconon's external publicity material. Its picture book is far less shy about the subject, as might be expected given that it derives directly from the Purification Rundown picture book, which likewise makes extraordinary claims about being able to purify the body of stored radiation and its effects.

The cartoons provide a good illustration of the claims made. "Some persons report that while doing the program, past sunburns "reappeared," lessened and then left completely", according to the text, alongside a picture of a woman "re-experiencing" a sunburn (above left). In fact, this is actually a flush caused by niacin, which stimulates the dilation of veins near the surface of the skin. Because it looks like sunburn, Hubbard assumed wrongly that it actually was sunburn. Even more bizarrely, the woman is next shown "sweating out" the "symptoms identified with past X-ray exposure"; a past dental X-ray produces a dark patch on her cheek which gradually fades away in the following panels (above right). On the following pages, a man "re-experiences" the effects of "radiation fallout" (sic) which "turned on, ran through and then vanished". The accompanying "success story" for this one is notable for being from a certain "H.J." - none other than the President of the Church of Scientology International, Heber C. Jentszch, although this is of course not mentioned.

What makes this all the more remarkable is that this is being presented as hard science, endorsed by medical doctors - a startling demonstration of how Scientologist doctors put their private beliefs above their medical training. Hubbard's theories on radiation are not only medically dubious, they are physically impossible. He clearly did not have much idea about the nature of radiation, as his lectures on the subject show (see "Hubbard's Junk Science - Radiation" for more details). The illustration of a woman "sweating out" the effects of X-ray exposure is a case in point - electromagnetic rays deliver their effects instantaneously, transferring their energy to body cells and causing various kinds of damage in the process. There is nothing to sweat out and no effects to "re-experience" - how can you sweat out rays and re-experience ionising effects that take milliseconds to occur and never re-occur? The phenomenon shown in this picture simply does not happen, and cannot happen. (See the "Radiation & Health Information" page of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency" at http://www.arpansa.gov.au/is_rad.htm for a very good explanation of radiation effects.)

Hubbard was also very confused about the difference between radiation and radioactive substances - in his lecture he speaks of "small, invisible particles" of "gamma" (never gamma rays) "drifting through the air" and causing contamination. [Hubbard, "Radiation and the Scientologist", lecture of 13 April 1957] A similar confusion can be seen in the Narconon picture book's reference to "radiation fallout" (above) . Radiation does not "fall out"; electromagnetic rays do not settle on the ground, which is just as well, otherwise the surface of the Earth would be buried under huge piles of sunlight. Hubbard seems to mean radioactive substances, but these present a quite different challenge from that posed by fat-soluble toxins. Most radioactive substances are not fat or water-soluble, instead binding themselves to tissues and bones - radioactive iodine lodges in the thyroid gland, caesium-137 to the muscles, other substances to the bones. They are notoriously difficult to eliminate from the body and there is no evidence whatsoever that niacin has any effect on such substances - even going by Hubbard's own claims, a vitamin that supposedly liberates fat (which niacin doesn't do) is unlikely to have much effect on substances that bind to muscles and bones.

In fact, there is only one context in which his claims have any kind of quasi-logical (if not scientific) coherence: that context is Scientology. In Hubbard's lectures on radiation, given to Scientologists in 1956-57 and used as the basis for his later claims (see his book All About Radiation for condensed versions of some of these lectures), he claimed that the fundamental effect of radiation exposure was not physical but psychosomatic: "The greatest danger of radiation is not small, invisible particles drifting through the air, but the hysteria which is occasioned by the propaganda, the misunderstanding and threat which accompanies it. That hysteria is the threat, not the particles." The damage caused by radiation results not from anything physical but purely from worrying about it: "[A person] considers radiation ... as something of a worry. And when a person is at a level where his general physical health is good, then this worry is not capable of depressing him into ill-health ... A person who is in excellent physical condition does not particularly suffer from the effects of radiation." [quotes from Hubbard, Radiation and the Scientologist, lecture of 13 April 1957]

This is what is meant in the cartoon reproduced above, where the "effects" of "radiation fallout" are supposedly being re-experienced and disposed of. The person feels weak and sick and this is attributed to radiation sickness being "run through" (although oddly enough, other symptoms such as hair loss and bloody excrement never seem to be reported). There is no apparent clinical effort to confirm that the symptoms really are the result of a re-emerging condition such as radiation poisoning; it seems that if the symptoms only match very approximately, Narconon/Scientology automatically deems them to be of a past condition "running out". Hence the picture book has statements such as:

I went through several days of 'fog' and 'tilting and spinning' that reminded me of the sodium pentothal I'd received for operations, and a wild, tittery feeling from drugs and alcohol.

I felt spaced out, same as when I took mescaline.

I was very drowsy in the sauna. I realized this was from the anaesthetic I had received during several operations.

I noticed a metallic taste in my mouth, a typical LSD phenomenon which I knew well.

All the symptoms of 'radiation sickness' turned on - vomiting, redness and prickliness of the skin.
[quotes from "success stories" given in New Life Detoxification Program picture book]

In fact, these are all symptoms of the sauna and vitamin overdoses. "Tilting and spinning" (i.e. dizziness) is a classic symptom of heat exhaustion, as is drowsiness. The "wild, tittery" and "spaced out" (i.e. confused) feelings are signs of heat stroke. Red prickly skin is actually a classic symptom of niacin overdoses, as well as possibly indicating impending heat stroke. A "metallic taste" is a sign of anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction which can be caused by certain foods and drugs - it may indicate a reaction to the vitamin overdoses. However, because all of these side-effects are either explained away or simply ignored by Hubbard, they are dogmatically assigned to other causes - the actual scientific facts do not appear to be considered at all.

On an equally glaring lack of scientific evidence, Hubbard claimed that no less than 70% of illness was psychosomatic. A wide variety of illnesses, including some fairly alarming ones, can supposedly be "turned on" by the Narconon/Purification programme and related "anti-radiation" therapies devised by Hubbard. One example was the "anti-radiation" medication Dianazene that he devised in the 1950s, which supposedly causes cancer to "turn on" and "run out":

A man who didn't have much liability to skin cancer (he only had a few moles) took Dianazene. His whole jaw turned into a raw mass of cancer [sic]. He kept taking Dianazene and it disappeared after a while. We were looking at a case of skin cancer that might have happened.
[Hubbard, All About Radiation, 1989 ed., p. 137]

In a very similar vein, Hubbard wrote that the ingestion of niacin could induce and eliminate the symptoms of cancer, one of the commonest conditions indurced by radiation exposure:

The manifestations Niacin produces can be quite horrifying. Some of the somatics and manifestations the person may turn on are not just somatics in lots of cases, in my experience. I have seen a full blown case of skin cancer turn on and run out. So, a person can turn on skin cancer with this and if that should happen if Niacin is continued the skin cancer has run out completely.
[Hubbard, "The Purification Rundown Replaces The Sweat Program", HCO Bulletin of 6 February 1978, revised 16 March 1978, 4 December 1979, 21 April 1983, 31 July 1985]

The illustration of the woman "turning on" and "running out" a black patch supposedly resulting from a dental X-ray is probably meant to show a radiation-induced cancer spontaneously manifesting itself and dissipating. Hubbard himself alluded to this possibility in one of his radiation lectures:

Radiation might have been used [at some past time] as a cure. And using this principle that eventually the cure becomes the disease, and eventually restimulates the disease it was supposed to cure, I'm sure that somewhere on the genetic line radiation was used for a bad stomach, for a bad skin - get the idea? And sure enough, it was, and is, today ... We have also had X-ray [sic]. X-ray, oddly enough, has been used for cure for cancer ... A cure for cancer? That's very interesting - it must have been in vogue for some time for the excellent reason that X-ray causes cancer.
[Hubbard, Radiation and Scientology, lecture of 13 April 1957]

What Hubbard means by "somewhere on the genetic line" is that at some point a person's ancestors were exposed to medicinal X-rays, causing lasting effects which were felt down the generations. He evidently knew as little about biology as about physics, as his ideas rely on the long-discredited Lamarckian theory of evolution, which held that acquired traits can be inherited.

None of this is mentioned in Narconon's picture book or other manuals, leaving the background to Hubbard's theories on radiation totally unexplained. In effect, the entire section on radiation has been ripped out of Scientology and dumped into the middle of Narconon, void of its original religious context.

The picture manual closes with a series of pages showing smiling, happy people having completed the Narconon/Purification course. The text declares in large bold type:

The New Life Detoxification Program can be the answer to a drug-free society and a drug-free planet.

There is NO other program reported or known to handle the drug and toxic deposits that can be stored in the body.

This, unfortunately, is typical Scientology hyperbole: the blunt truth is that Narconon is a fringe programme with little recognition, based on junk science and reliant on questionable claims of efficacy.

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