Today the UK’s Daily Mirror has an article describing how their journalist went undercover in scientology. It’s a cautionary window on what you are likely to face in your first week:
I'm given a personality test with 200 questions. Some seem geared towards finding a weak spot in my character:
Could you agree to "strict discipline"?
Would the idea of making a complete new start cause you much concern?
Do you sometimes wonder if anyone really cares about you?
Would it take a definite effort on your part to consider the subject of suicide?
Do children irritate you?
Do you often feel depressed?
Do you often ponder over your own inferiority?
Do you have spells of being sad or depressed for no apparent reason?
It's 9am, and Laura looks at me with pity. She tells me I'm depressed, anxious and nervous. She has analysed the results from my personality test.
But there is a way for me to confront my problems: Scientology.
He slowly repeats: "Feel your chair. Thank you. Look at the front wall. Thank you. Feel your chair. Thank you. Look at the front wall. Thank you."
For a bizarre hour these are virtually the only words I hear. After half an hour, the man tells us to look at the walls, floor and ceiling and imagine them saying to us: "You have arrived."
We sit in silence for five minutes. Then it begins again - 30 more minutes of nothing except the man repeating: "Feel your chair. Thank you. Look at the front wall. Thank you."
I close my eyes as he asks me to regress to a negative incident in my life that I feel comfortable confronting. I'm encouraged to visualise everything around me and put myself back in space and time.
Scientologists believe this will "clear the engram" and I will have no more of the negative memories.
Afterwards I feel shaken, especially when I realise the session lasted one hour and 30 minutes - I'd guessed it was 30 minutes maximum.
It was an experience I won't volunteer for again. I didn't feel in danger at any point but it was deeply unsettling. By 6pm on my final day I am desperate to leave.
If this is true it seems to me like they are playing a dangerous game - it’s psychotherapy practiced by someone not necessarily qualified in the subject. I should think there are severe dangers in this, especially if you are dealing with people who have suffered genuine trauma in their lives and who have real psychological problems. Unfortunately those people are probably the ones least able to deal with Scientology’s manipulation, and most likely to fall under its spell.