Findings of the accompanying state inspection of the activities of Narconon, e.V.
by psych. Wolfgang Heckmann
Narconon e.V. maintains an establishment for drug addicts on 5 Peter-Lenne Str. in Berlin-Dahlem. The building, a spacious villa, is situated on a landscaped lot. The building and the garden are in an unkempt state. This is also the case for short periods of time at several other establishments for drug addicts. Narconon was conspicuous though in that it was the only one for which this condition did not essentially vary over a period of several months. According to information from Narconon, it had 33 drug addicts in its program as of May 22, 1978. According to the information Mr. S. gave Dr. Kleiner on July 14, 1978, it had gone up to 35 by that time. The accompanying state inspection report, however, never recorded a number that high during morning roll calls for the period of the report. On May 22, 1978, there were only ten "students" in the building, and during subsequent visits there were never more than 20-25 people, staff included [illegible]. On the May 22, 1978 visit, Mr. S. gave a total of [illegible] "student" names. His letter of May 27, 1978 augmented this list by another two names. From BSHG records, Mr. S. provided information (letter of May 27, 1978) that 11 people were financed through foster care, of those three had left or been expelled by the end of July 1978. One person was being treated as an out-patient, another, after over six months of treatment, was in constant clinical treatment or incarcerated for about eight months.
On May 22, 1978, Mr. S. gave eleven names of staff members.
Mr. S. is educated as a social academic, Mrs. S. as a teacher.
The remaining staff have taken so-called "Hubbard courses." Mr. K. has resigned in the meantime, and his successor in the position of press spokesman has been filled by Mrs. A. Besides the position of press spokesman there is the position of manager (Mr. S.), house manager (Mrs. S.), treasurer (Mrs. T.), auditors (Mr. Sch. and Mr. S.K.), course and/or auditor supervisors (Mssrs M., B., Sch. and N.S.), as well as the position of maintenance (Mr. R.). As of February 27, 1978, foster care was provisionally set at 52 DM by the Senator for Labor and Welfare. Foster care took into account a house manager, a manager, a clerical person, one position for training director and 5 positions for auditors. Personnel expenses arising from this came to a total of 17,900 DM a month for 22 vacancies.
On July 5, 1978, Mr. S. was asked for a look at the staff contracts. He explained that they were not located in the building, and he forwarded them with a letter of July 10, 1978. In an accompanying note he explained that Mr. Sch. was not on Narconon staff, but that he was doing his apprenticeship there. Mrs. T.'s contract had expired (even though she is still in the Narconon building). Mr. S.'s contract was said not to be found at the moment. According to the labor contracts, which are all dated Sept. 1977, the staff would be compensated weekly, not according to a set amount, but according to the financial condition of the employer (sect. 4). Regular resignation with notice is denied (sect. 5). Staff receive free "fundamental organization training", and after 2 1/2 years receive "additional" training. Expenses of training received are to be reimbursed by the staff member in the event the contract is terminated early (sect. 6). Neither work hours, hours per week, vacation time nor probation period are to be found in the contract. When Mrs. A. was asked about her income statements at Narconon, she responded on July 5, 1978 that she did not wish to reply. She and Mr. S. explained in unison that wages were paid weekly and that "depending on how foster care came in, anything left over is divided up."
By the time foster care payments are balanced, there are changes in the number of personnel, staff are changed around (for example a press spokesman was not accounted for by foster care), as are the amount of wages paid. In the course of the accompanying inspection, the emphasis was put on the methods applied by Narconon e.V. in its establishment, i.e., on the question of what happens with the drug addicts in the establishment, and whether this is required in their progress. In addition there is the question as to the success of the methods and the question about the connection between Narconon e.V. and the Scientology Church, e.V. Objections arose in the following points.
1. The acceptance procedure
Although many non-professionals are attracted to the idea of Narconon treating drug addicts without preparation, this is also a source of objection on behalf of those addicts who quit a program prematurely because of inadequate preparation, meaning they are selected from within the institution itself, because they have to add to their already long list of failures in life yet another "personal" failure. In this way they fall one rung lower on the drug ladder and become resistant, for a long time, to further offers of help. In a conversation on July 25, 1978, Mrs. A. admitted this was an error in Narconon's methods, and that somebody was working on a correction.
2. Dealing with reversion to drugs
Narconon does not have a consistent attitude of this sort toward drugs. With rare exception, those who consume drugs stay in the program. Even those who "blow," i.e., leave the grounds without permission for several days, are not expelled from the program. In principle, this means it is possible to live in the Narconon establishment and continue drug consumption, at least on a periodic basis. This danger is increased by giving those who have very recently gone through physical withdrawal permission to go out in the evenings, and these people are then able to go back to their old drug haunts in the city. Going out without escort should be permitted no sooner than two months after [withdrawal]. Objections have to be raised here primarily because the high mortality risk for heroin consumers increases in the short term after consumption has been stopped.
This language training, especially with regard to the abbreviations and artificial words, is of no practical value in life. Outside of Narconon and the Scientology Church it could only cause confusion. A strong connection is built with the other users through the systematic development of a jargon. At the same time it causes emotional alienation, bordering on arrogance, from those who do not understand it. In addition, this language training forces upon a person a positive attitude toward the methods of L. Ron Hubbard, (for example, in learning the word "effective": "during your withdrawal you had two sessions. Therefore the sessions were effective for you." "The Narconon program is effective in all dynamics.").
It is a fact that all formal and informal groups naturally develop elements of their own speech. It is especially important in drug therapy, which requires strong concentration on group life, to keep jargon from developing, so as to facilitate social reintegration.
In having jargon systematically drilled into a person, social reintegration, if not blocked, is at least severely hindered.
4. The course system
During one exercise (TR0 Confront with closed eyes) two partners sat down facing each other with closed eyes. The object of the exercise is "to simply be there and to confront another person." During a different exercise two partners sat facing each other looked each other in the eyes without moving. Apparently the point of this was to show no reaction. The exercise was called "confront." If one of the partners, however, made a face, such as by raising the eyebrows or smiling, the other would react with the sentence, "flunk, you smiled!" or "flunk, you showed reaction!"
Another exercise (TR confront with provocation) consisted of two partners sitting facing each other with one in constant motion and the other completely motionless. In doing this, the one partner was apparently constantly trying to break the other's concentration. This usually happened when the one was confronted with events and experiences from his personal life. If he reacted with a smile or by moving his face, the provoking partner would say, "flunk, for reaction" and repeat his previous sentence.
Another exercise (TR1 Dear Alice) consists of two people sitting facing each other, wherein the one reads individual sentences from the "Alice in Wonderland" book, and the other comments on how the sentences were read, like, "flunk, too emotional," "flunk, too emphatic," "flunk, not emphatic enough," or just by saying "good!" After a "good!", the next sentence is read, and one of the above comments is given in response, after which the sentence is read again until the word "good!" is said. During the whole procedure, an untrained observer cannot recognize how the sentence was spoken too emotionally, too emphatically, not emphatically enough, etc.
Another exercise (TR3 Duplicating questions) consists of two partners sitting face to face with one asking the other "Do fish swim?" or "Do birds fly?" and the other answering. If the answer "yes" or "no" or "that's right" et al. is given, then the question is repeated, "Do birds fly?" If the question, however, is not answered, but instead something is said like, "I don't want to do this any more!" or "There's a spot on your jacket!" or something similar, this is met with, "I repeat the question: do birds fly?" Regardless of whether the question is answered correctly or not, it is always asked in monotone.
In all the partner exercises, roles are reversed every so often, i.e., the partner who asked the questions or read the sentences becomes the person who is asked, etc. The exercises are of varying duration, sometimes about 20 minutes, but at most about 45 minutes. All exercises are carried out at the same time, so a relatively high level of noise dominates the room.
The recorded presentation is transcribed from tape as follows from a demonstration given at Narconon, e.V.:
Confront with provocation:
Training routines 6-9 are about giving correct instructions, "handling other people," training one to "handle obstinate people," obtaining compliance for an instruction that is not fully based on spoken words, or "maintaining intention without reservation under any pressure or resistance."
There are several levels upon which objections to the methods applied during the courses are based:
In general the exercises are suited (even if this was not deliberate, according to information provided by Narconon, e.V.) to suppress emotional reactions or any expression of feeling at all. Feelings and their expression are deconditioned. This procedure is objectionable in a general psycho-hygienic sense, but is especially dangerous for drug addicts, who are already suffering from lack of feeling due to the nature of their ailment.
This reduction of the capability for human relations on a strictly material business basis within the drug scene in the Narconon establishment follows a broader dismantling through systematic training of the means for expressing feelings. The theory behind the foundation for this procedure is "flattening the button" and the concept that a person can "handle" human feeling and its expression under defined circumstances, but this is not enough to develop a superhuman self-control over one's own body language.
The assessment of an exercise as "good" or "flunk," the decision whether a "student" is "present" or "diverges", is solely a function of the transient trainer. Sentences like "the student must handle originations to the satisfaction of the trainer" are contained more than once in the instructions for specific exercises. Categories like "right" or "wrong" are not used in the overwhelmingly senseless material; the evaluation of the student's conduct happens on a purely random basis or, at the least, is left up to the whim of the trainer. This is an absolutely perfect way of conditioning a person to conform to the judgment of another in numerous daily hours spent in training over a long period of time.
The resulting loss of autonomy can only be compensated for by a feeling of superiority that arises, for one, though the acquisition and use of a jargon, for another, through the use of "accomplishments" in the training exercises on a "check list" provided for that purpose. This mechanism - to develop a feeling of superiority, is based on an increase in insignificant accomplishments that contain virtually no value in practical life, - and it functions even stronger in drug addicts than in other people, since most addicts have multiple years of tremendous disappointment and vile humiliation behind them. If, in place of the drug, they are given the choice of elevating their feelings of self-worth above those of others, or even above the majority of others, then there is the risk that they will become fully dependent upon the unreal system in which they operate. This is encouraged in the Narconon system with the issuance of a great number of certificates. Not just that, but the individuals then have a direct connection to L. Ron Hubbard formed for them.
5. The Hubbard Electro-Meter
The use of the Hubbard electrometer, however, differs from that of the bio-feedback procedure in behavior therapy in one decisive point, and it is this point that puts it on the same level as the so-called "lie detector" used in police interrogations. While bio-feedback therapy procedures are set up so that the patient receives feedback about his or her own psychic reactions, the feedback from the Hubbard electrometer is accessible only to the trainer ("auditor"). The "student" receives neither during nor afterwards any information from the auditor as to what the device found. The "auditor" records on a prepared form the statements from the "student." In this way "auditing" can become a confession of life.
It is general knowledge that the consumption of drugs, especially the consumption of hard drugs leads to "successive crime" more or less as a matter of course. Therefore "auditing" can turn up a great deal of minor and major offenses that are as yet unsolved by the police. The "auditor" can repeatedly use the information thus obtained through hindsight. But the student more or less provides his own therapy for the system. Outside of the above-mentioned psychic dependency based on jargon and the feelings of superiority, there is in this also a danger of material dependency.
The Hubbard electrometer is supposed to support the procedure of recalling experiences that were stored in memory. To this end, the student who is attached to the device is asked when he previously experienced a feeling (such as sadness or fear). If he describes this feeling and the situation, then he is asked whether there is an earlier similar incident. Most people do not have the ability to remember things that happened earlier than about age three or four. Using the associative methods of psychoanalysis, incidents that occurred earlier than this downward age limit can be perceived. Using the question repeated by the "auditor" about earlier similar incidents, however, this process is pushed back even to the prenatal phase inside the mother's body. According to Mr. S's information, it is possible "to go back several thousand years." He said he had gone back very far, otherwise he would not have reached the state he is in today, as he put it. He said that Hubbard researched these possibilities, and it was he who said that it was the "Thetan who does the traveling into the past."
The profile of a drug addict includes a disturbed relationship with reality. Therefore all professional therapeutic institutions pursue reality training in various manners.
At Narconon, the alienation from reality, along with the high affinity to science fiction stories that many drug users prefer, are promoted to a high degree by the ideology and practice of Thetan-wandering. The goal of this entire method that people strive for is the condition described as "clear," and it creates the illusion of supernatural and superhuman powers. This is what a former "student" at Narconon wrote about what frightened him away from the fringe occultism:
"From the word 'clear' a condition is described and made in which you can have your 'Thetan wander.' I am of the opinion that this belief corresponds exactly to a new dependency from which the spirit will no longer be able to find its way out under any conditions. If I wanted to do what was right for me then, logically (for me), I would have to go get a fix."
6. Success rate and reintegration into society
Narconon says that it strives for social reintegration. The success figures given by Narconon vary. On page three of the "Narconon Berlin" brochure of 1975, three different methods of reckoning are used to present success rates, cited at 85%, 80% and 58%. In these, however, the people who are still in the program are counted.
Mentioned by Professors Cohen and Wanke in their opinion on page 14, according to the Narconon statement, is the figure of 8 people who, of the 120 patients treated by Narconon, are said to be living outside the institution and to be free of drugs. Their stay in the Narconon establishment occurred anywhere from 3 months to 2 years prior. The success according to the (one sensible) calculation yields a percentage rate of 6.7. Narconon itself has said that another 8 "students" in Sweden who became drug-free through Narconon have to be added into the success figures. Without taking into consideration how many people total in Sweden went through the program, this would yield a proven success rate of about 13% (adjusting the figures proportionately).
At present the success rate of Narconon e.V. is even more difficult to calculate. On a list from the Senate office for Health and Environmental Protection of June 18, 1976, a total of 118 people were named as having been accepted by Narconon. Based on the list of current Narconon "students," another 27 people would have to be counted.
Because of the large difference in time between the two inquiries, it is possible that the Senate office is not aware of other people who have been accepted by Narconon since then. It would have to be concluded, however, that a total number of 145 people would be the reference number. This is what is being compared to the number of 15 persons given by Narconon as successes in their letter of July 8, 1978. One of these people took the program in Sweden, which is not included in the number of 145 "students" that is being used. In any case the success rate is under 10%. With regard to the criteria of drug-freeness and social reintegration of the named persons, the following objections are made:
There is no intention to check on the people named by Narconon e.V. because of the impositions this would put on them. Besides that, some of them can not be reached in Berlin.
7. The connection between Narconon e.V. with
the Scientology Church, e.V.
Other connections also exist in that the methods used by Narconon go back to those used by L. Ron Hubbard and which are extensively used by the Scientology Church. The Communication Courses of the two, for instance, match each other practically word for word. In the Scientology Church, in turn, anyone who has ever taken the Communication Course is regarded as a member of the Church.
In the Narconon building there are a large number of Hubbard or Scientology books. Most of the forms, course materials and other such materials bear the copyright of L. Ron Hubbard. Speech patterns and ideology are by and large identical with those of the Scientology Church. For instance, the word "student" is frequently used as a synonym for PC, the abbreviation for "pre-clear," which is the stage before "clear" that is obtained in the Scientology Church. Outside of the above-mentioned "consultation line" between Narconon and the Scientology Church, the government report did not investigate financial connections between the two organizations. Of necessity, the content is what must be taken into consideration when weighing the issue of the suitability of the program to treat drug addicts.
First of all, objections have to be raised about the methods (items 3 to 5) used by Narconon. For one thing, the tendency of drug addicts to escape into an imaginary world of concepts and experiences is promoted by the use of the Hubbard electrometer. For another, a massive dependency upon the institution is created for the addicts over the long term. The course system serves to isolate people from their own emotions, as opposed to working out the underlying conflicts. At the same time, the danger exists of assimilating the internal hierarchy, as well as the irrational feelings of superiority over people outside of Narconon. The systematic drilling in the use of a jargon considerably strengthens the dependency upon the group and hinders social reintegration.
Secondly, the objections to the danger of continued drug consumption by members of Narconon are of significance. It has to be expected of an institution for drug addicts that they take measures by which reversions to drugs are avoided. In this regard, experience has shown that an initial curfew needs to last two or three months, and that locations where drugs are available need to be avoided. Narconon's therapy is lacking in this area.
The strong fluctuations, which arise from the openness of the acceptance procedures, in the building increase the risk of reversion to drugs.
Third, the fact that there is at least textual connections between Narconon and the Scientology Church plays a role in the evaluation on the whole. This does not occur, however, in the publicized public sense that Narconon has organizational ties to a cult, but rather in the sense that Narconon uses Scientology methods to treat drug addicts. The issue requiring clarification is not whether connections between the two organizations exist and what they are, but the quality of the methods. In addition to the above-mentioned objections against the Hubbard methods used by Narconon, there also is the risk that participation in the Narconon program creates a long-term connection to the ideology and organization of the Scientology Church.
Finally, the question of the program's success is also of importance to assessing the quality of the institution. Looking at earlier statements by Narconon according to which the institution's average rate of success is far above the average, the list of names provided does not paint a very favorable picture. From their own figures, the rate of success is calculated to be, at most, 10%. In addition to that, the idea of social reintegration is understood differently by Narconon than elsewhere in that a not inconsiderable number of the people named as successes work as staff at Narconon, and some of those even live in the building. In addition, there are justified misgivings as to the credibility of the chances of success.