An Isolation survivor speaks

I cannot deny anyone's religion. But some things by any standard or for any reason are wrong.

Earlier this year I heard about a woman who died. Some of the details were frighteningly similar to something that I had gone through, once upon a time. Terrifying. Humiliating.

I'm writing in hopes of helping to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again.

I was a teenager when a buddy called to tell me about Scientology. He didn't know much about it, but another friend had said that "a few of us should check it out" and if it was really "cool", we would "turn everyone on to it". Three of us checked it out. I don't know what the other two decided -- we lost track of each other over the years.

... I had my own idea of doing the "best for the most", so my first Scientology salesperson showed me a quote from a book about ethics, about "the greatest good for the greatest number", which dovetailed with my idea rather nicely.

When I asked about a large cross hanging on the wall of this Scientology place, I was told that scie- was a religion and that it was ok if I didn't agree with that, I would still be welcome.

My parents were both well educated professionals, and I was put on a college track from elementary school on. Unfortunately, my parents, in spite of phi beta kappa keys, various degrees and invitations to mensa, were not happy people. I was somewhat lost as a teenager.

I was invited to leave home if I didn't decide between further schooling or working... but I didn't have any place else to go.

Scie- encouraged me to leave home. One of my three buddies and I got a room together. I got a part time job in a law office. We both studied scie-.

After a year or so, a recruiter offered me a job in another city. I wanted to learn, gain competence, and possibly gain a bit of confidence as well.

My best friend and I married, worked together, had a child and later amicably divorced.

For years, I worked long hours with an intelligent, talented and idealistic group of people. I didn't get to do the kind of work I would have preferred, but I did become quite responsible and competent. The organization I worked for was owned by the scie- church.

I was busy doing my job, making contacts, looking to the future and following work policy.

There was no one to take my place if I was sick, so I worked even when ill (as most of us did) even though this was against corporate policy.

After I pointed out that this was wrong, that if I was sick I shouldn't be working, my contract was terminated without notice. I happened to be ill with a bad case of the flu and/or walking pneumonia at the time.

I was instructed to go to a scie- liason office to get counseling to get better, so I went. The counseling did not materialize over the next day or two, I was sicker than a dog, and the liason office was pressing me to run various errands. I got fed up, put my foot down, made my displeasure very clear and went home.

My home was a small one room apartment in a scie- owned building. It was a room with two large windows. My front door was near a fire escape. Inside was a coat closet I'd converted into a kitchenette. The wall between the bathroom door and my front door was filled with shelves. There were books, plants, my child's goldfish bowl and gifts from friends, and I intended to put a phone there once I got around to getting one installed.

Under one window was my antique trunk with a huge plant, my coffee maker and my favorite mugs. under the other window was my fold out couch with a colorful Indian blanket, with my child's bed nearby.

The wall by my little kitchen was taken up by cabinets, which doubled as closet and storage space. Atop the cabinets were my tv, radio and more plants.

I liked my place... I didn't know what would happen, since I'd been fired by scie- and they owned it, but I was happy to be home. I ran water through my coffee maker to heat, to mix with a cold remedy a downstairs neighbor lady had given to me.

Of my closest friends, one was on honeymoon, one was in another state and one couple was on their way out of the country. I never saw them again, nor did I ever again see the people I'd worked most closely with. My child was out of state on vacation with my ex-spouse.

I changed into my dressing gown, made myself comfy, turned on my radio, went over my correspondence, then decided to go downstairs to our little resident's "library", to find something I hadn't read yet.

There was a man outside my door, sitting on a chair and reading a newspaper. The hallway in front of my place was considered residential and the man wasn't scary, but still, the situation was odd; the hour was quite late and he didn't speak to me... however, the man did give me section of his paper--which saved me a trip downstairs.

I unfolded my couch, read and returned the paper, then dozed off.

When I awoke, it was still dark. I looked out my door. There was another man in the hallway. He sat on a chair by the fire escape. He was familiar to me. I tried to talk with him, but he said nothing. I tried gently kidding around with him. He was not at all threatening and actually seemed to start to smile, but he did not speak.

I hadn't planned on going anywhere until I'd rested and recovered from my flu.

Whenever I opened the door, there was someone there... sometimes two. If people wanted to come to my door, they were welcome. If they wanted to visit, that was ok. But why were these nice non-threatening people coming over? Did they think my door was at the end of a bloody rainbow? Why wouldn't they speak? This began to make me quite unhappy... maybe they can't speak? Am I in the middle of a "Twilight Zone" episode? Am I crazy? What's going on?

I remember trying to converse with one fellow. He didn't speak. I tried telling him stories. He didn't speak. I remember that he brought me food once, cold cream of wheat on a paper plate with a puddle of honey in the middle. I was hungry and called it ambrosia...

Different people came to my door. They didn't speak. This went on for some time. My attempts at communication wore me out. I tried to be polite. I was getting confused and sad.

I ran out of tissue. I needed to blow my nose. I had my quilt wrapped around me, felt awful, and was crying. I opened my door and asked someone for a hanky, smiled through my tears and made a lame joke about my quilt being too big to be a hanky. There were a couple of people in the hall; they didn't speak, didn't smile, just looked at me. I felt stupid.

I got more and more confused.

I lost track of the order in which events were occurring.

At one point I found a note, it said that if I wanted anything, to put it in writing. I may have written requests, I may have even written stories...

I was embarrassed. I'd lost my brush and couldn't get the tangles out of my hair after washing it. A girl I had been acquainted with came in... she whispered that she wasn't supposed to speak to me. She started to untangle my hair with her brush, but a man came in and she left.

At some point, two men started removing my belongings from my home. It didn't matter if I was clothed or not, it didn't matter that I protested, it didn't even matter when I jumped a fellow - he just pinned me down. They would not stop taking my things. I lost my temper, I swore mightily at them; I finally started throwing things at them, yelling at the top of my lungs "F--- you - if you want it, take it, it's yours!!" They headed for the door.

I didn't want those unwelcome 'movers' to get my best sheet set, so stuffed them out of my window in hopes that a bag lady would find them instead. I got caught and they pulled me down along with my curtains. The large plant fell and the dirt spilled out.

It was a mess. I sobbed, opened up my trunk, and crawled into it along with my blanket. My home was no longer a safe place.

I could not leave. I tried. I could not fight, sneak by, or fool anyone into letting me leave. Once I actually got as far as the stairs.

I was surprised to see that "pc destimulating" (scientology words) were written on notes that were taped to the walls in the hallway.

Once, someone with a bucket started cleaning the walls of my now somewhat empty apartment. I'd given up.

My couch wound up in the middle of the floor.

At one point I awoke to find a woman with a hypodermic needle leaning over me... she pulled the needle out of my arm, taking a length of rubber with it... in my weariness, with my poor fuzzy vision, it looked kind of like a vein coming out of my arm along with the needle... I commented on how strange that looked.

I did not know what was going on. Scientology was all for communication, and completely against drugs... it was for helping people--sick or able--to get even better.

But things did not get better.


Part 2

In my previous letter, I mentioned a few brief highlights of my first missing weeks. I don't know how long I was in isolation. A relative later told me I was "missing for a couple of months".

...cutting a person off from the world without explanation doesn't sound particularly helpful...

The madness continues. Part two follows.

~~~~~~~~~~

My cozy home had become an unfamiliar and inescapable trap.

The lack of communication was spooky. Speechless "zombies" haunted my door. Sometimes they brought food to me -- sometimes it was edible and sometimes not.

After a week or two of this silent watch treatment, my dreams began to seem more real.

I was weak from my bout with the flu, from trying to fight, from trying and failing to understand what was happening, from going back and forth from anger to terror, from nightmare to deepest depression.

When given the opportunity, I was so pleased to be able to leave - to go for a drive. Maybe I was going to get the counseling I was supposed to get... I'd heard that scie- could even improve poor vision.

My destination turned out to be a room with a boarded up window. There was a mattress on the floor and a pillow, and a small bathroom with toilet and sink.

I was locked in.

I tried to keep myself occupied... I could practice my workout routine, I could practice the lyrics my singing partner had written, I could explore the holes in the walls, play in the sink... pound on the locked door...

I had access to water from the sink tap, but I was getting so hungry. No one answered my knocks on the door. Shouting brought no one. I leaned against the door and slowly sank to the floor. I wrapped my arms around my knees and rocked back and forth as I made up and softly sang a little song about potato chips.

I slept as much as I could, escaped into dreams as much as I could. After a while, my dreams didn't stop even after waking... which would have been fine if none of my dreams had been nightmares...

I had a horrible nightmare that my child had died in blood, in a bathtub, as I helplessly watched.

I didn't know how long I slept or how long I was awake. I didn't know what time it was, what day it was. I don’t know how long I was there.

I remember talking to some bubble people. I had a foggy notion that they were my cells, partial personalities - genetic memory? I nick-named one bubble/cell person "Isaac"...

I appropriated bits and pieces of novels for dream material.

It was silly to even attempt to pry a board from a window with only my fingernails. Maybe I could tear a strip from my clothing and hang myself... if there was anything high enough to hang myself from...

I could pray, and I did.

I had dreams that ranged from war, to Santa Claus, to space opera.

I tried to bathe in the sink, I tried drying off with paper towel, or was it the white stuffing from the pillow? Maybe I could make a white wig and beard and pretend to be Santa Claus. (Santa had figured in some of my nicer dreams.)

I wondered about my best friends, and worried about one who had been ill.

I could only worry and hope that a relative's cancer was not terminal.

One young watcher came in and kissed me on the lips.

I just had guards or watchers. (And room service... gee thanks, but this dry and shriveled hot dog is beyond my ability to pretend it's ambrosia...)

I was thoroughly terrified of my two main watchers. One was fair and fat, the other dark and trim. When one of them escorted a large dark man into the room, I cowered on my mattress, but they took no action, just looked at me.

I would be legally blind without corrective lenses, so without glasses, my silent watchers were blurry and ghost-like...

I thought I heard a bit of music once.

Time passed slowly. It was intolerable... hours, days, minutes, weeks... I couldn't tell how much time was passing.

No contact with my family, my friends or my life.

The only one who spoke to me was me.

Until, at one point, a person showed up, a nice fellow. I actually knew him, he was a scie- staff member, a counselor. We started to have a counseling session, but I was hungry, scared and tired. He gave me vitamins. Lots of vitamins.

Finally, I got to leave with him. Thank God.

It was lovely outside. It was dark, maybe dusk. I tried to make pleasant conversation... I wanted to be sure I did nothing wrong. I wanted him to continue to be nice to me.

He took me to his home; he and his wife had made a shabby old apartment into a unique and lovely place. I was very apologetic about my appearance. I got to take a shower... there was actually shampoo, and conditioner.

I was given a change of clothes. His wife kindly tried combing the tangles out of my hair as I sat in a chair near a fan. She spoke softly as she worked and accepted my apology for using so much of her conditioner. She couldn't get out all of the tangles, but brushed my hair back as best she could.

At their small kitchen table we had bread and strawberry jam. It was so so good!

They made up a place for me to sleep, next to their bed.

I had sweet dreams; I dreamt that they had a lovely baby and that I sang lullabies to it...

In the morning, the nice couple had to leave for work. Then the main watchers from the room with the boarded up window showed up unexpectedly. I freaked -- I must have looked like a gibbering idiot. I probably fell apart... I don't remember leaving...

...But I wound up in what appeared to have been a large supply closet. No windows. No fan. No toilet facilities. Big enough for a mattress with a bit of room to spare. There was a flickering ceiling light with a wall switch that I could turn on and off. I crumpled up a sheet in a corner to use as a litter box.

Time collapses and folds when there is nothing to gauge it by.

~~~~~~~

The story will continue in another letter.

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Scientology "contains a therapeutic technique with which can be treated all inorganic mental ills and all organic psychosomatic ills, with assurance of complete cure..." so wrote the founder of Scie-. (That's a quote from a glossy brochure I have next to my computer.)


Part 3

to you who have responded to my posts - thank you. <=

(has anyone reading this researched the *effects* of involuntary & unexplained isolation or captivity on a human being...?)

I've no quibble with individual scientologists. For the most part, they seemed to be idealistic people who would not condone what happened to Lisa McP... unfortunately, they would also, in all probability, not believe that such a thing could happen, and so would not correct it.

The CoS does not make amends for harm done.

So... it is up to 'outsiders' to confront the facts and do best to prevent any future such atrocities.

...I wish to see the practice of 'isolation' cancelled.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~ more madness ~~

At first, at my home, I was too ill (flu) to be upset that my visitors could not or would not speak. It just added to the sense of unreality that comes over me along with a fever. As time went on, the silence got on my nerves, it got spookier, more upsetting, infuriating, and, finally, terrifying...

After a number of weeks, I wound up in a large closet, or so it appeared. One wall was recessed and seemed to be about the right size for a large industrial-sized metal shelving unit. Although this room may have been an oddly shaped and very small office, I will generally refer to it as 'the closet'.

It was in the closet that I finally lost hope of all rescue. My requests to see any of my friends went unacknowledged, and/or ignored...

I tried to convince my watchers that I did *not* live here, that this place was not my home.

I tried to convince my watchers that I was someone else - that they had the wrong person.

My attempts at escape (when the closet door was opened), resulted in my face, body or limb(s) being slammed in the door... this mostly occurred when I tried to fight one particular watcher - an individual with grey hair whom I named the 'Robot' - a person who most terrified me.

There was a time or times that I used a wadded up sheet as a litter box. I seem to recall, at one point, hurling the used sheet at a watcher. There was no toilet in the closet.

A couple of roaches passed through my closet, they wouldn't speak to me either, and I didn't want to touch them, but I gave them each a name...

Sometimes I was escorted to a rest-room near my closet. I was watched as I showered or relieved myself.

Once I was given some edible food - I didn't have to pretend, it actually tasted good. It was chicken. I wished I could make a hole in the mattress so I could hide some for later... I was often hungry.

During one excursion to the restroom, I found and palmed a crayon. I 'decorated' my walls with it. I tried to write my address on the wall near the door. I wrote bits of poetry and other graffiti. (Of course, this wouldn't help me when I tried to pretend I was someone else... but then, I wasn't thinking clearly...) I found a make-up stick of some sort once, too.

I could not leave with my body, so I tried to leave without it... Unfortunately, whenever I 'came back' (or woke up), my body was still in the closet. I remember feeling sorry for my poor body, and feeling guilty for trying to leave it behind, all alone...

I remember trying very hard to reach some of my upper level scie- friends with telepathy, but as far as I know, it didn't work (various types of extrasensory perception were supposed to be acquired on scie- upper levels). I had really enjoyed the idea of ESP and had high hopes about the possibilities.

Finally I started making threats. I still could not tell if my watchers could understand a single thing I said... Of course, I couldn't tell if I was making sense anymore, either, but that didn't stop me from trying...

It was so uncomfortable in that little room - there was a mattress on the floor, but it seemed to have bed bugs - the floor was very hard, but it was sometimes cool...

Sometimes I was fed, sometimes I wasn't. Sometimes I was escorted to a toilet, some times not. There didn't appear to be any rhyme or reason to what happened when. No clock, no calendar, no explanation.

I had a horrible nightmare that I was being eaten inside and out by cock roaches...

I had one nice dream about time, about happy endings...

I so much wanted something good to happen, but the only good things happened in my dreams... sometimes.

Then, one time, I woke to find a fan. "A present!" I joyfully and tearfully thought. It looked brand-new. It had ribbons tied to the front grill, that fluttered in its breeze... I was like a little kid, I was so happy to get a present.

Funny. I may already have been completely nuts by then, but it was around this time that I broke. I had a literal physical sensation in my head of breaking... like a child's clock going SNAP... the crippled minute hand going back and forth...CLICK crunch CLICK... instead of smoothly tick-tocking clockwise...

I was given a haircut - I felt badly about being such a mess...

Then a woman showed up... and when I asked her who she was, she actually SPOKE! She told me her name. I asked her if she was CoS staff and she said "no", that she was a student from a local church. When I asked her if she knew what had been happening she said "no". I asked her if she knew what was going on - she said "no", she was there to be my counselor.

I'm sure I burbled and babbled - I was so thrilled by the prospect of actual conversation & counseling.

The woman even brought me edible food. Real restaurant food. But I could only eat a little bit at a time, no matter how much I wanted to wolf it all down... I felt like crying at the waste of such good food.... I'd been hungry for too long, couldn't hold much...

I was even given a book - whereupon I discovered that I could no longer read. (Gawdawful news for a bookworm!)

The counseling was disappointing - it seemed to consist of page after page of questions about scie-, and what I would say about scie- and related subjects if I was ever asked. Of course, I had nothing bad to say about scientology.

The silent treatment I had been subjected to was not any brand of scientology that I had ever read about. The counselor said she didn't know what had been happening, and I certainly did not understand it. The whole situation of being cut off from communication for so long was too unbelievable... nothing like the scie- that I had learned of...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A relative later told me that I had been "missing for a couple of months"... that I "looked like a concentration camp victim - skin and bones and covered with bruises."

I did wind up in a hospital, and when, at times, I was asked why I was there, I didn't know. I'd had some good friends who were scientologists, and I no longer associated my abduction with the CoS. I even went to a local scie- place for a visit once.

At the hospital I was told I was a drug addict. I was not believed when I said I wasn't... I never have been. ... I was told that drugs were found in my blood. I was not allowed to refuse medication - I had signed away my rights after signing a contract that I could not read... I'd gone from the fire into the frying pan...

I guess the hospital couldn't quite figure out what was wrong. One doctor who later looked at my chart said "my god, you were a real guinea pig, weren't you?" (When he asked me what had happened, I didn't know...)

I was treated as an indigent adult, and told that I was gravely and permanently disabled.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Scientology claims to better conditions, does it not?

But instead of learning from the medical community and trying to help improve the mental health field, the CoS indiscriminately attacks the entire field.

And I lost my life as I knew it - and Lisa McPherson is dead.