Narconon and Scientology

Last updated
23 October 2002
Contents > Narconon and Scientology > Doctrines


The Narconon program is licensed to use only L. Ron Hubbard's secular, that is, nonreligious, research and development in drug rehabilitation.
[Kate Wickstrom, Executive Director, Narconon Stone Hawk - letter to Battle Creek Enquirer, July 26, 2002 -]

Narconon routinely claims that it is wholly non-religious - as it has to, if it is not to fall foul of the U.S. Constitution's prohibition of state support for religious activities. However, a close examination of Narconon's doctrines and written materials proves otherwise. When the Californian State Department of Health considered the matter in 1974, its reporting team concluded that:

[A]ny connection between Narconon and Scientology other than coincidental was usually vehemently denied ... Theoretically it is a patchwork of Freudian, Gestalt, Pavlovian, science fiction and Eastern (reincarnation) ideas unequivocally sutured together with L. Ron Hubbard's terminology. Indeed, the initial exercises require in addition to a standard English dictionary, a special Narconon dictionary enabling the "student" to understand the Narconon/Scientology terminology ...

The [Narconon] terminology is strikingly similar and presumably parallels, if not merging, the Scientology hierarchy. The latter presumption was underscored by a lengthy conversation with "members" - "employees" at the Scientology/ Westwood office where it was stated that Narconon was simply the application of Scientology "technology" to the problem of drug addiction. Additionally two patients interviewed on a local methadone program reported that their unsuccessful treatment for heroin use at Narconon was by the application of Scientology techniques and was essentially directed at eventually attaining a "clear" state. Again, any connection with Scientology other than coincidental was vigorously denied by Dr. Gibson and his principal assistants ...

All of the literature and books are directly derived from Scientology ...
["Outline for recovery, House Evaluation" - by Forrest S. Tennant, Jr., M.D., Dr.P.H., Jane Thomas, R.N., Mike Reilly, and Joseph Shannon, M.D., M.P.H. Submitted to Don Z. Miller, Deputy Director, Health Treatment System, State Department of Health, Sacramento, CA, on 31 Oct 1974.]

This conclusion is very much borne out by the evidence. Each stage of the Narconon programme has an exact equivalent in Scientology - so much so that it is more accurate to say that Narconon is Scientology, rather than that it is merely derived from it. In the early days of Narconon, the connection was even more overt than it is now, as the Californian report quoted above makes clear; the Scientology E-meter "was routinely used in many if not all of the courses and it was implied that this device was used at least occasionally in the Basic Narconon Communication Course". (See "The E-Meter™ Pastoral Counselling Device" for more information on the E-meter.) It is not clear when use of the E-meter in Narconon was discontinued. Over the past 30 years, there seems to have been a trend of Narconon moving away from the overt use of Scientology materials and equipment, but even so, the programme is still completely suffused with Scientology doctrine.

The following table shows the relationship between Narconon and Scientology courses, some of which even share the same title:

Narconon course Scientology equivalent(s)
Therapeutic TRs Course • Success Through Communications Course
• Hubbard Qualified Scientologist Course
New Life Detoxification Program • Purification Rundown
Learning Improvement Course • Student Hat
Perception and Communication Course • TRS and Objectives Co-audit Course
Ups and Downs in Life Course • Ups and Downs in Life Course
Personal Values and Integrity Course • Personal Values and Integrity Course
Changing Conditions in Life Course • How to Improve Conditions in Life Course

Each one of these is worth looking at in a little detail to identify the Scientology connections and the very definite religious nature of the courses.

Therapeutic TRs Course Back to table
(Scientology equivalents: Success Through Communications Course, Hubbard Qualified Scientologist Course)

This is an adapted combination of two Scientology courses, the Success Through Communications Course and Hubbard Qualified Scientologist Course. They are what the Church of Scientology calls "introductory services" - basic courses that start newly recruited Scientologists on the "Bridge to Total Freedom". ["Introductory Services", . See also the "Bridge to Total Freedom" chart - the two courses are at the bottom left under the heading of "Life Improvement Course Route".] The Success Through Communications Course is described by the Church of Scientology in typically hyperbolic terms:

One of the greatest discoveries of Scientology is the delineation of the components of communication. All the gains experienced in Scientology stem in one way or another from a knowledge and application of communication. Scientologists have become known around the world as the experts on the subject of communication.
["Introductory Services",]

There are 13 TRs (Training Routines), although only 12 of these are used in Narconon (the odd one out being TR5, "Hand Mimicry", which Scientology has deemed to be obsolete). The stated purposes and practices of each TR are distinctly odd to the uninitiate, but they precede Narconon by some years; the TRs were originally developed by Hubbard in the 1950s and 1960s to "train Scientology practitioners in technical applications", as the Scientology Handbook puts it. Specifically, the TRs are a prerequisite for auditing, the central practice of Scientology. Every Scientologist is required to undergo the TRs prior to giving or receiving auditing.

Viewed in a purely secular context, the TRs have little obvious relevance to drug rehabilitation. Their use puzzled the Oklahoma State Mental Health Board when it examined Narconon in 1991, causing it to comment that "[t]he vast majority of time spent in the Narconon treatment plan and course work does not in any way relate to or involve education about drug and alcohol abuse treatment, issues, and/or addiction". That is true if one does not take into account Scientology's belief system, which underpins the use of the TRs. According to Hubbard, the effect of drugs is spiritual as well as physical. The purification/detoxification course is intended to address the biochemical aspects of drugs, but the mental and spiritual factors are addressed separately. Drugs, he says, cause people to become "disassociated" from the world:

The reason is that, among other things, drugs dull a person's communication. This is most directly observed in the action of painkillers which shut off the person's feeling of pain, but it occurs with the use of other drugs as well. Emotions are suppressed with drug use, and perceptions become altered or shut off. A person often becomes less aware of things and people around him and so becomes less considerate and responsible, less active, less capable and less bright. The person factually becomes less conscious of what is happening in the present. One does not have to have been a heavy narcotics addict to experience a lessening of alertness, fogginess or other effects as a result of drug use.
[Purification Program: Mental and Spiritual Factors -]

In a piece called "Drugs and Their Effects on the Mind", Hubbard explains in more detail the mechanism by which this supposedly happens. A cornerstone of Scientology belief is the proposition that a person consists of three distinct entities - a mind, a body and a spiritual being called a "thetan". The mind is merely a communication system between the thetan and the outside world. It also stores "mental image pictures" of past events in an area called the "reactive mind". This is what causes the harmful mental effects of drugs:

A person who has taken drugs, in addition to the physical factors involved, retains mental image pictures of those drugs and their effects. Mental image pictures are three-dimensional color pictures with sound and smell and all other perceptions, plus the conclusions or speculations of the individual. They are mental copies of one's perceptions sometime in the past, although in cases of unconsciousness or lessened consciousness they exist below the individual's awareness. For example, a person who had taken LSD would retain "pictures" of that experience in his mind, complete with recordings of the sights, physical sensations, smells, sounds, etc., that occurred while he was under the influence of LSD.

Let us say an individual took LSD one day while at a fairground with some friends, and the day's experiences included feeling nauseated and dizzy, getting into an argument with a friend, feeling an emotion of sadness, and later feeling very tired. He would have mental image pictures of that entire incident.

At a later time, if this person's environment were to contain enough similarities to the elements in that past incident, he may experience a reactivation of that incident. As a result he could feel nauseated, dizzy, sad and very tired — all for no apparent reason. This is known as restimulation: the reactivation of a past memory due to similar circumstances in the present approximating circumstances of the past.
[Hubbard, "Drugs and Their Effects on the Mind",]

As a result, the drug user becomes desynchronised from "present time", reacting arbitrarily to flashbacks from mental image pictures recorded earlier on the "time track". The effect is for the drug user to manifest bizarre behaviour patterns:

For example, a drug user may be sure he is helping one repair a floor that needs fixing, but in fact he is hindering the actual operation in progress which consists of cleaning the floor. So when he "helps one" mop the floor, he introduces chaos into the activity. Since he is repairing the floor, a request to "give me the mop" has to be reinterpreted as "hand me the hammer." But the mop handle is longer than a hammer handle so the bucket gets upset.
[Hubbard, "Drugs and Their Effects on the Mind",]

It is not just "recreational" drugs that have this damaging effect; Hubbard warns that "This is true not only of illegal street drugs but also of medical drugs that are supposed to help people." Even otherwise innocuous and widely used drugs such as aspirin are targeted by the Church of Scientology, which claims that "it has never been known in chemistry or medicine exactly how or why these things worked" and "As the reason they worked was unknown, very little advance has been made in biochemistry". [Hubbard, "Painkillers",] This is a prime example of the Church of Scientology's dogmatic and wholly unscientific approach to matters of fact; it is now very well known how and why aspirin works, thanks to the work on prostoglandins for which Sir John Vane won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1982. Hubbard's statements on the subject, which were originally made in a bulletin published in 1969 [Hubbard, "Drugs, Aspirin and Tranquilizers", HCO Bulletin of 17 October 1969, rev. 19 July 1978, re-rev. 20 September 1978], preceded Vane's work on prostoglandins - not that Hubbard appears to have been much of a follower of medical literature. But because Hubbard failed to revisit his work in the light of Vane's discoveries, Hubbard's version is dogmatically deemed to be correct despite having been rendered false by new knowledge.

This is where Narconon's Training Routines come in. The aim of the TRs is supposedly to "bring a person up to present time" and, as critics have noted, they also imbue the recipient with a properly receptive (i.e. non-critical) attitude to future indoctrination. The entire approach is based very specifically on religious belief. Although drug flashbacks are a real phenomenon (technically known as Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder - see the DSM-IV entry at, the rest is unknown to medical science. Concepts such as thetans, mental image pictures and the time track are unique to Dianetics and Scientology. When they are invoked, it is a clear sign that the person or organisation invoking it subscribes to Scientology's religious beliefs.

This, of course, destroys Narconon's pretence of secularism. Any approach which depends on such concepts is as much a religious practice as if it involved praying or animal sacrifices. Narconon is able to rely on Scientology's relative obscurity as a cloak; if Scientology's beliefs were better known, the use of those beliefs in Narconon would be more immediately recognisable. Narconon gets away with claiming that Scientology beliefs are actually non-religious, simply because the vast majority of people do not know otherwise.

Even so, however, Narconon makes efforts to remove the most obvious signs of Scientology belief from its course materials. This can easily be seen by comparing Scientology's "scriptures" with Narconon's course materials, specifically: the Narconon Student Recovery Manual (1976), Narconon Student Manual (1977), Narconon Basic Picture Manual (1976), Narconon Study Manual (1976), Narconon Objective Exercises Manual (1976), Narconon Technical Manual (1975) and Basic Manual for Narconon Supervisors, vol. 6 (1975). Mentions of Scientology itself, as well as the most obviously Scientological terms (notably "thetan") have systematically been removed. Each manual states that it was produced "From the works of L. RON HUBBARD". The works in question are listed at the back of the manuals as a list of cryptically acronymic items (for instance, "HCOB 23 February 1973 Method 7 Data"). Various types of item are listed: HCOBs, HCOPLs, BTBs, PABs and so on. Although the manuals do not explain the acronyms used, they are in fact what the Church of Scientology calls its "scriptures" - Hubbard Communications Office Bulletins, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letters, Board Technical Bulletins and Professional Auditors Bulletins, all of which are to be found in the Church's multi-volume set of Technical Bulletins of Dianetics & Scientology.

Narconon's explanations of the biological effects of drugs rely on Scientology texts with references to Scientology and Scientology terms removed. Compare, for example, the following extracts from the Narconon Technical Manual and the HCO Bulletin "Drugs, Aspirin and Tranquilizers" - the changes are highlighted in blue:

HCO Bulletin "Drugs, Aspirin and Tranquilizers" (1969) Narconon Technical Manual (1975)

Pain or discomfort of a psychosomatic nature comes from mental image pictures. These are created by the thetan or living beings and impinge or press against the body.

By actual clinical test, the actions of aspirin and other pain depressants are to:


Pain or discomfort of a psychosomatic nature comes from mental image pictures. These are created by the person or living beings and impinge or press against the body.

By actual clinical test, the actions of aspirin and other pain depressants are to:


The thetan is rendered STUPID, blank, forgetful, delusive, irresponsible. A thetan gets into a "wooden" sort of state, unfeeling, insensitive, unable and definitely not trustworthy, a menace to his fellows actually. The person is rendered STUPID, blank, forgetful, delusive, irresponsible. A person gets into a "wooden" sort of state, unfeeling, insensitive, unable and definitely not trustworthy, a menace to his fellows actually.
Erasure of a mental image picture by standard Dianetic processing removes the compulsion to create it. A full rundown of Drug handling removes the compulsion to create it.
The only thing you can be upbraided for by students or pcs [preclears] is "no results". Trouble spots occur ONLY where there are "no results". Attacks from governments or monopolies occur only where there are "no results" or "bad results".

Therefore the road before Scientology is clear and its ultimate success is assured IF the technology is applied.

So it is the task of the Association Secretary or the Organization Secretary, the Case Supervisor, the Director of Processing, the Director of Training and all staff members to get the correct technology applied.

The only thing you can be upbraided for by students or those who look to Narconon for help is "no results". Trouble spots occur ONLY where there are "no results". Attacks from governments or monopolies occur only where there are "no results" or "bad results".

Therefore the road before Narconon is clear and its ultimate success is assured IF the technology is applied.

So it is the task of the directors, consultants, supervisors and all Narconon staff members to get the correct technology applied.

Similar alterations can be found throughout the Narconon manuals. This presumably is what is meant when the Church of Scientology describes Narconon as using a "secularized" version of Hubbard's doctrines, but if so then it is a nonsense; the Bible would be no less religious if the word "soul" was systematically deleted from it. If anything, it reduces the coherence of Narconon's doctrines. By claiming that its doctrines are non-religious, Narconon divorces itself from its intellectual origins - it is no wonder that the Oklahomans could not make much sense of it.

New Life Detoxification Program
Back to table
(Scientology equivalent: Purification Rundown)

The detoxification, or purification, element of the Narconon programme is by far its most controversial aspect. Unusually, it is not claimed to be religious in either its Scientology or Narconon versions. The Church of Scientology carefully avoids claiming that its purpose is medical, but its purpose is very clearly biological rather than spiritual:

[The] Purification program is a carefully designed combination of exercise, vitamins, nutrition and sauna use which dislodges drug residues and other toxins from the fatty tissues so that these substances can then be eliminated from the body. A person undergoing the program is closely monitored by specially trained personnel in liaison with medical doctors to ensure that each aspect of the program is administered correctly and the desired benefits are attained.
["Purification Program",]

The medical deficiencies of the Purification programme are discussed in more detail elsewhere. To summarise, there is little reliable evidence that the Purification programme does what it claims to do, good evidence that it does not and strong evidence that in some respects it cannot. Hubbard's claim that it is able to induce the sweating out of radiation stored in the body - not just radioactive materials, but radiation itself - is a particularly striking example of a claim which is completely indefensible scientifically. The theory's supporters do not, in fact, try to reconcile it with hard science; for them, it is very clearly a fixed dogma, not a scientific theory subject to disproof. It is noteworthy that none of the studies written by Narconon's experts address Hubbard's claim that radiation is stored and released by the human body. Presumably there are some propositions which even they find difficult to support publicly.

Learning Improvement Course
Back to table
(Scientology equivalent: Student Hat)

This comprises what L. Ron Hubbard referred to as his "Study Technology". There are marked similarities between the work of Alfred Korzybski, who developed an educational theory known as "general semantics", and that of Hubbard - indeed, Hubbard credited Korzybski as one of his inspirations. In Study Technology, Hubbard recast some of Korzybski's theories in Scientological terms and added many of his own ideas. Many of the concepts used in Study Technology are derived directly from Scientology; its central principles of "mass", "gradients" and "misunderstoods" are key concepts in Scientology. [See "The Hidden Message in L. Ron Hubbard's 'Study Tech'" by Dr. David S. Touretzky -] Despite the claim that "The Study Technology ... is secular and has no religious basis whatsoever" ["World Literacy Crusade FAQ",], the Church of Scientology itself describes it as part of Scientology (for instance, see "About Scientology Study Technology" at and it forms part of the "Bridge to Total Freedom". [See second row from the bottom, "Hubbard Graduate of Study Tech", on the Bridge to Total Freedom chart at] The Study Technology is promoted for secular use by a number of Scientology-related organisations, notably Applied Scholastics, Inc. - a "subordinate organisation" of the Church of Scientology according to the 1993 agreement between the Church of Scientology International and the U.s. Internal Revenue Service). While the Study Technology can certainly be used for secular purposes, there can be little doubt that it is based on religious doctrines, used primarily for religious purposes and promoted primarily by organisations directly linked to the Church of Scientology.

Perception and Communication Course
Back to table
(Scientology equivalent: TRs and Objectives Co-Audit Course)

The Training Routines from the Therapeutic TRs Course are repeated again, plus what Narconon Canada describes as " a series of new exercises which fully extroverts the student and gets his attention off of himself and onto the environment", which are performed with the assistance of another student. ["The Steps of the Narconon Program" -] These exercises are known as "Objective Processes" and the practice as a whole is "Objective Processing". This course is taken directly from Scientology; the Scientology Handbook describes its Scientology equivalent, the TRs and Objectives Co-Audit Course, as follows:

The combination of communication drills and Objective Processes can have enormous therapeutic value for anyone who has been on drugs, as well as for many people who haven't. On this course, two people pair up and work with each other on drills called Training Routines (TRs) and on an entire series of Objective Processes. They do this on a co-audit, meaning cooperative auditing, basis. (Auditing is the application of Scientology processes to another for his benefit.) Students study, drill and then audit many different processes on each other, helping another and being helped in return to become ore in present time and oriented to the environment, all of which can greatly raise a person's potential for success. (Delivered in Scientology organizations.)
["Answers to Drugs - How can Scientology help me...",]

Like the TRs, the Objective Processes have little to do with physical rehabilitation and a great deal to do with Hubbard's thetan hypothesis. The book What is Scientology? describes their purpose as follows:

Objective Processes locate the person in his environment, establish direct communication with the auditor, and bring a person to present time. This latter result is an important factor in spiritual and mental sanity and ability, as a human being can be "stuck" in literally thousands of past moments. The result is an individual with increased perception who is more at cause [in control] over his body and his environment.
["TRs and Objective Processing" -]

In line with Hubbard's belief that physical ailments are caused by spiritual problems, the idea is that the thetan will become more aware of (and thus have greater control over) the body in which it is housed. The Scientology consultancy RehabilitateNZ explains that "Objectives provide the biophysical handling that puts you back in touch with the physical universe - including your own body." ["Scientology Basic Courses" -] Scientology Missions International quotes a number of "success stories" which emphasize the spiritual nature of Objective Processing:

The Objectives Processing has been a great experience. I'm back in present time and it feels good. I've regained some of my theta [spiritual] abilities, thus having far more certainty that SCIENTOLOGY absolutely rehabilitates a being. An equally big win for me was auditing a pc [preclear] and using TRs. I feel a lot more control over bodies and the physical universe. - M.K.
["TRs and Objectives Co-Audit Success Stories" -]

As this makes abundantly clear, Objective Processing is very much a religiously-based doctrine and practice. It has absolutely no clinical relevance to drug rehabilitation, as the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health pointed out in its 1991 report on Narconon, and the beliefs underlying it are found only in Scientology and no other religion (or drug rehabilitation therapy, for that matter).

Ups and Downs in Life Course
Back to table
(Scientology equivalent: Overcoming Ups and Downs in Life Course)

As the nearly identical titles indicate, the Narconon and Scientology Ups and Downs in Life Courses are very similar. Compare their descriptions:


[The course] gives the student the ability to spot and handle those influences in his environment that would cause him to lose any gains he has made. He learns the characteristics of the social personality as well as those of the anti-social personality so that he can spot the difference and better choose his friends and associates. Completing this course makes the student less susceptible to those who would influence him to revert to drugs.

Is your life like a roller coaster ride? Up one day and down the next? You can gain control! Spot what - and who - is causing things to go wrong in your life. You'll be able to identify the people who are really your true friends. Find out who to trust before it's too late. This course delivers proven, successful methods that you can use to succeed despite oppression.

"The Steps of the Narconon Program" - "Scientology® Life Improvement™ Courses" -

This, once again, is taken directly from Scientology. The Scientology Handbook describes the course as "covering the fundamentals of suppression and [Potential Trouble Sources] and their handling". ["Cause of Suppression - How can Scientology help me...",] One of Scientology's most controversial beliefs - and to many non-Scientologists, one of its most disturbing - is its division of the general population into three categories: "social personalities", "antisocial personalities" and "Potential Trouble Sources" - those in contact with the "antisocial". According to Hubbard, the antisocial comprise about 20% of the population, of whom 2½% are "truly dangerous" (both are entirely arbitrary figures, which Hubbard never bothers to justify). These are the infamous "suppressive persons" or SPs, towards whom Scientology is relentlessly hostile. Perhaps inevitably, the ranks of the SPs include - and primarily consist of - those who criticise Narconon and Scientology:

"A suppressive person is a person who seeks to suppress any betterment activity or group. The suppressive person, also called an antisocial personality, works to upset, continuously undermine, spread bad news and denigrate other people and their activities. While it has sometimes been said that a suppressive person is just anti-Scientology, the fact is they oppose anyone doing better in life."
["What does "suppressive person" mean?" -]

Scientologists believe that SPs are responsible for all the ills in society: crime, wars, family breakdown, educational failure, business troubles and even physical ailments. According to Hubbard, "all illness in greater or lesser degree and all foul-ups stem directly and only from a PTS condition" - i.e. being a Potential Trouble Source, a person connected in some way to a "suppressive". Drug addiction, too, falls into this category; Scientology's dogma dictates that illness and addiction is not simply something that happens, or that people fall into, but that it is directly caused by the actions of another party. How this belief is applied in the Narconon context can be seen from the words of Karl Loren, whose website describes him as "an ordained Minister in the Church of Scientology", advising a correspondent on how to overcome methadone addiction:

I have found that people who have gotten stuck with methadone, or valium, ALWAYS have around them, individuals ("friends"?) who put them down, invalidate them, tell them what to think and do.

Such people are more harmful than the drugs themselves.

These are most usually people who are family, or very close to you.

They seem to act in the guise of friendship and love, but what they do is make you prone to illness and willingness to do things to yourself (take drugs) that are harmful.

You will probably immediately know someone like this in your life.

THAT person is more your enemy than the drugs -- because THAT person affects you so, mentally, that you feel that drugs are the necessary answer.

I don't know who that person is in your life, but I know that such person exists.

You have only two choices about that person:

1. Disconnect from him or her (often very difficult)


2. Handle the situation so that they don't affect you so much -- usually this means you talk to them and say something like, "I ask that you stop from telling me that I am no good . . . ." or whatever.

There would be nothing more important for you to do than recognize and handle the source of the suppression in your life.

["Karl, Can You Help Me Get Off Methadone?" -]

Once again, this is purely a religious doctrine and one confined exclusively to Scientologists. It is a doctrine which many people will find disturbing; as well as indoctrinating the student in the belief that anyone who criticises Narconon is a "suppressive" who wants to get them back onto drugs, it lies at the root of Scientology's notorious "disconnection" policy alluded to above by Karl Loren. This has been a cause of complaints about Scientology for more than forty years, with numerous well-documented examples of individuals being advised or required to "disconnect" from friends, families, parents, partners and children who have been critical of Scientology. [See "Scientology disconnect policy destroying families" for more information -] Some fundamentalist Christian groups, notably the Amish and Jehovah's Witnesses, employ similar practices, known there as "shunning". For the friends and relations of Narconon students, this poses the unpleasant possibility that if they are less than fully supportive of Narconon they face being "disconnected" by the person concerned. There is at least one reported case of a "disconnection" actually happening between a 16-year old girl who had been sent to a Narconon centre in Germany, and her father, who was critical of Narconon (see the story of September 14, 1999 from the Metzinger Südwestpresse, Germany).

Personal Values and Integrity Course
Back to table
(Scientology equivalent: Personal Values and Integrity Course)

Another course taken directly from Scientology. This, according to Narconon Canada, "gives the student the data he needs to improve his survival potential. It teaches the student the eight survival dynamics, gives him invaluable
knowledge about personal ethics, honesty and integrity and shows him how to correct contra-survival behavior by ridding himself of past harmful deeds." ["The Steps of the Narconon Program" -] The Scientology version "gives you the straight facts on determining your own values and keeping your personal integrity high despite the stresses of today's world." ["Integrity and Honesty, How can Scientology help me with..." -] The Scientology Handbook's chapter on "Integrity and Honesty" [at] explains the ground that the course covers. As can be seen from the chapter, the concepts involved are very much Scientological, centering on Hubbard's doctrine of "overts" (the Scientology equivalent of a sin) and the "Overt-Motivator Sequence". The latter has a particularly important part to play in shaping Scientology's view of the world at large. Hubbard claims that

If Joe hits Bill, he now believes he should be hit by Bill. More importantly, he will actually get a somatic (a physical pain or discomfort) to prove he has been hit by Bill, even though Bill hasn't hit him. He will make this law true regardless of the actual circumstances. And people go around all the time justifying, saying how they've been hit by Bill, hit by Bill, hit by Bill.

Even though it hasn't occurred, human beings on a low reactive (irrational) basis will insist that it has occurred. And that is the overt-motivator sequence. ...

For example, if you hear a wife saying how the husband beats her every day, look under her pillow for the bat that she uses because sure as the devil, if she is saying that the yellow ball has hit the red ball, notice that the red ball had to hit the yellow ball first.
[Hubbard, "The Overt-Motivator Sequence" -]

This belief underlies Scientology's (and Narconon's) harsh reaction to criticism. In the context of criticism, what it means is that if (for example) a critic accuses the Church of Scientology of fraud, the critic is assumed to be motivated by his own "overt", which is most probably that he himself has committed fraud. What the critic accuses is what the critic himself is invariably guilty of. Likewise, if someone criticises Narconon, that person will have an ulterior motive for doing so. There is, of course, no rational basis in such a belief; it has the effect (no doubt conveniently for Narconon and Scientology) of denying the possibility that criticism could be honestly motivated, thus insulating the organisation from any criticism no matter how objectively justified it may be. By assigning invariable motives to certain types of conduct, it - like the preceding Ups and Downs in Life Course - also instructs the student to identify the scepticism of friends and relatives as resulting not from honest concern but from selfish personal motives.

The "eight dynamics of survival" are a central belief of Scientology. These are, in brief, the "survival urges" of self, family, groups, mankind, matter, other life forms, spirit and infinity (see "The Eight Dynamics" for a fuller explanation). This is very literally at the centre of Scientology - the Church of Scientology's symbol, the eight-pointed cross, represents the eight dynamics, one for each arm of the cross. ["What does the Scientology cross represent?" -]

The course also invites the student to "correct contra-survival behavior by ridding himself of past harmful deeds." This is, in short, a confessional; the student will be invited to disclose past "overts" and, by recognising their harmful effect, change the pattern of behaviour. This is actually not a bad thing to do - in a similar vein, some experimental penal projects bring felons face-to-face with their victims, to bring home the consequences of crime.

As with the other courses, the Personal Values and Integrity Course is pretty much pure Scientology; the values it teaches are those of the Scientology religion.

Changing Conditions in Life Course
Back to table
(Scientology equivalent: How to Improve Conditions in Life Course)

Yet again, taken directly from Scientology. Compare, once again, the Narconon and Scientology descriptions of the equivalent courses:


[The course] gives the student the exact step-by-step technology he needs to improve his life. This ethics technology was developed by L. Ron Hubbard and covers exactly how to apply these steps to improve conditions in life. It also teaches the student how to repair previous bad conditions and how he can apply this technology and keep winning.

[The course] covers the ethics conditions in detail, with illustrations, demonstrations and practical exercises to help you master their application.

"The Steps of the Narconon Program" - ["Ethics and the Conditions, How can Scientology help me..." -]

Scientology posits a very strong framework of ethics (usually referred to as Scientology Ethics, or just Ethics for short). The subject is discussed in more detail in the Scientology Handbook and on the official Scientology Ethics website at Hubbard's great "breakthrough" was the invention of a methodological approach to ethical matters, setting out a chart of "ethics conditions" to evaluate the ethical status of an individual and identifying "formulas" - prescribed actions - to improve that status.

The conditions, ranged from highest to lowest, are: Power, Power Change, Affluence, Normal Operation, Emergency, Danger, Non-Existence, Liability, Doubt, Enemy, Treason and Confusion. They are used for two intertwined purposes: discipline (the ethical side of Scientology Ethics, so to speak) and work management - the latter is standard for anyone using Hubbard's "management technology" (aka "management by statistics"), which Narconon certainly does. There is no doubt at all that Narconon's staff use Scientology Ethics for their personal discipline and work management; the issue is covered in Narconon's staff manuals. It is less clear whether Narconon's students are subjected to the full rigours of Ethics, although the fact that they are taught to "apply" it suggests strongly that they are. According to individuals who have been on the very similar courses given by Scientology's Applied Scholastics offshoot, students are awarded points for each element of the course completed. Scientology, too, does this: according to the Church of Scientology,

The measure of a Scientologist's progress through his auditor training is reflected in a points system developed by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s. (A point value is given to each item one studies. These values are added up at the end of each study period so the Scientologist can see his progress that day. Supervisors use these statistics to monitor individual progress and provide any needed assistance.)
["Auditor Training Progress" -]

One of the more noteworthy features of the Hubbard method of management is that statistics must always increase to avoid one's "condition" from being downgraded. For instance, if a staff member produced 100 letters out the week before, he or she would have to produce at least 101 to be able to report a condition of "Normal". If he or she "only" produced 99 letters out following a week in which he or she had produced 100, then the 99 would be a "downstat" and the individual's condition would be downgraded; being a "downstat" is not looked upon with favour. Non-Scientologist management techniques use statistics too, of course, but in nothing like the same mechanistic fashion; a telephone call centre might have a target of picking up 90% of phone calls inside 30 seconds, but its staff members would not find themselves facing disciplinary action if their percentage fell from 92% to 91%. In Scientology, on the other hand, they would be expected to take that percentage up continuously and post an increase every Thursday week. Failure to do so results in disciplinary action. The same presumably applies for poor performance by Narconon staff and students; quick learners would be rewarded, slow learners penalised.

Hubbard's management and disciplinary methods do not appear to be well regarded outside the small circle of Hubbard's followers. Many of those subjected to his "management technology" have criticised its arbitrary and excessively rigorous nature - "ruthless" according to the Wall Street Journal - and deprecate its emphasis on quantity of production at the expense of quality. Like Hubbard's "study technology", "management technology" is claimed to be entirely secular and is licensed to companies through yet another Church of Scientology corporation, the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises. This has provided useful opportunities to see Hubbard's methods in action outside of the Church of Scientology. Perhaps the most revealing such example was that of the Allstate Insurance Company in the United States, at the time a unit of Sears, Roebuck & Co., which used management technology between 1988-92. The experiment proved disastrous, resulting in dozens of the company's agents filing lawsuits over the way they had been treated. A common cause of complaint was the way that so-called "downstats" were treated, as the Wall Street Journal described in a front-page article in March 1995:

The course materials [written by Hubbard] warned managers never to be sympathetic to someone whose productivity numbers, or "statistics," were down. "We reward production and up statistics and penalize nonproduction and down statistics. Always,"the training booklet said. "Don't get reasonable about down statistics. They are down because they are down. If someone was on the post, they would be up." The course underscored this point by advising that "reasonableness is the great enemy in running an organization." ...

Employees who produced so-called up statistics weren't to be questioned, no matter how they behaved. "Never even discipline someone with an up statistic. Never accept an ethics report on one -- just stamp it `Sorry, Up Statistic' and send it back," Mr. Pearson's materials advised. Workers with declining production had to be investigated immediately, the course taught. "A person with low statistics not only has no ethics protection but tends to be hounded," the training manual said. It also quoted Mr. Hubbard's writings blaming the Depression, the failure of communism and even the decline of ancient Greece on people's willingness to reward or excuse so-called down statistics.
["Allstate Applied Scientology Methods To Train Its Management", Wall Street Journal, March 22, 1995 -]

In the end, Allstate disavowed the use of Hubbard's methods, its President telling critics that "the ideas and views expressed in them were clearly inconsistent with Allstate's values".

Back to table
(Scientology equivalent: THE WAY TO HAPPINESS® Course)

This final element of the Narconon programme "teaches the student a non-sectarian moral code which is a guide to living a happy life based on the booklet The Way To Happiness™". Of all of the elements of Narconon, this is the one which is least obviously Scientological. The booklet itself - which is online at - is a fairly sugary list of 21 maxims, such as "Take Care of Yourself", "Set a Good Example", "Be Worthy of Trust" and so on, each with a page or two of explanations. Some are crashingly obvious: "Do Not Murder" explains that "The way to happiness does not include murdering your friends, your family, or yourself being murdered." In itself, the booklet is harmless.

Having said that, The Way To Happiness has aroused some controversy. The Church of Scientology claims to be attempting to reverse a perceived moral decline in society; its critics charge that The Way To Happiness is a Trojan horse for covertly introducing Scientology into secular contexts such as schools, or simply to raise L. Ron Hubbard's profile. The Way To Happiness is clearly part of the Scientology "Bridge to Total Freedom"; the chart showing the "Bridge" includes "The Way To Happiness Route", including The Way To Happiness Course, as one of the Dianetics & Scientology Introductory Services. [See second row from the bottom, right-hand side, on the Bridge to Total Freedom chart at] The booklet is the copyright of the Church of Spiritual Technology - a curious receptacle for a supposedly secular text - and the Church of Scientology distributes it on a huge scale, with literally millions of copies provided free of charge in dozens of languages, in what the church calls "the largest dissemination project in Scientology history" and "the bridge between broad society and Scientology." ["Scientology and the Schools", Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1990] The body responsible for distributing The Way To Happiness, The Way To Happiness Foundation, has reportedly donated large sums of money to the International Association of Scientologists; it is also part of the Church of Scientology's management structure and is described in internal documents as being one of the "various sectors of Scientology".

Back to top