Title: Catarina's Scientology experience
Author: martinh@islandnet.com (Martin Hunt)
Date: 25 Nov 1997 14:04:39 -0800


Forwarded to ars by request:

When the friendly, confident young man insisted that I should at least try
out one of their courses, it all seemed so reasonable. Yes, I'd heard
something about scientology being a cult, but I'd been around some pretty
weird people before, and it never did hurt me one bit. This guy looked
normal enough, and it didn't seem fair to knock a subject without giving
it a chance. It wasn't as if he was asking me to sell my soul, was it?
Yet, little by little, without really noticing the transformation, I
allowed scientology to control my actions, words and even my thoughts, in
exchange for a wealth of empty promises.

Even though the first couple of courses didn't impress me all that much, I
was getting caught up in the atmosphere of expectance and urgency. These
scientologists seemed so sure that they were on the right track. If I
didn't show up for course, they would phone and write - all that attention
was flattering. There were fantastic stories about what other people had
achieved with scientology methods. Doing some communication drills (TRs)
did make me feel more confident. There was a program which was supposed to
clean the body of stored toxins (the Purification Rundown). While doing
it, I experienced various phenomena, which were explained as "accumulated
radiation and illness leaving the body". (How can radiation accumulate?
Wasn't it rather the combined side-effects of megadoses of vitamines, and
3-5 hours daily in a sauna? But at the time, I didn't think that far.)
Then I got some auditing, and "remembered" a past life - wow! 

Sometimes I would encounter things that didn't make sense, and doubted the
whole scientology thing, but I was always convinced to keep going. "Get
more auditing, study more, contribute more, work harder; eventually you'll
understand!" I was learning the secrets of the universe, yet my life was
going down the drain.

By 1983, two years after reading my first Hubbard book, I had gone from a
reasonably well-ordered life to a complete mess. I had quit my office job,
and worked in the local scientology organisation in Stockholm, Sweden. My
money was all gone, I had nowhere to live, didn't eat or sleep much, had
practically no contact anymore with my family and former friends, and was
becoming increasingly depressed and unstable. So why didn't I just quit?
By then, I had begun to accept the view that if any scientology methods
didn't work out very well for me, it was due to my own shortcomings. The
worse it got, the more I thought I had to stick to scientology. Hubbard
stated, over and over, that scientology was the only way out, and only
evil-minded people opposed it. The world outside was controlled by crazy
psychiatrists, greedy bankers and corrupt governments. Paranoia? Oh no,
just another day in Scientology-land....

Here is a bit about my DPF experience.

-----------------------

In the early 1980s, scientology went through a period of upheaval, as
there was a struggle for power between various management groups. The
losing side, the Guardian's Office (GO), was dismounted, and in Europe the
GO personnel were ordered to the European head quarters (FOLO EU) in
Copenhagen, to do a "reform program" called the Deck Projects Force (DPF).
This was in the beginning of 1983, and later that year also many "regular"
church staff from all over Europe were sent to do the program. I was 
working in Stockholm, and around October my turn came, along with many
other people.

At the FOLO EU, I was ordered into a small room. Two women, dressed in the
navy style uniform of scientology management (the Sea Organization),
started to interrogate me, screaming at me to confess. One of them, a
quite young girl (CMO missionaire) had been visiting Stockholm not long
before, and we'd had a friendly chat while I showed her how to use the
telex machine. Now she wore a stone cold expression. The situation seemed
unreal.

Then I was taken to a crowded, dirty room in the basement, where DPFers
were supposed to sit for hours every day and write lists of their "sins".
Now and then another person was to check the lists, to make sure there was
enough detail. The rest of the time you had to work; mostly cleaning,
kitchen work, painting, etc. Some jobs were especially unpleasant, such as
jumping inside the garbage containers, to make space for more. The rules
were strict: no talking to people outside the DPF, no phone calls or
letters without permission, always running instead of walking, obeying all
orders from the person in charge of the DPF. Passports were to be handed
over, to make it harder for people to escape. We were to watch each other,
and report anyone breaking the rules. 

There were all kinds of people there. One day I worked together with a
lady who looked around 60. We had to clean windows with ice cold water and
some old newspapers. There were even pregnant women. We slept (for a few
hours per night) in various crowded rooms in the old hotel, the Nordland,
where the FOLO staff lived, and ate in the hotel basement. There was
usually some food - spaghetti, rice, sometimes even eggs - but you had to
be quick to get some. 

Despite the dreadful physical conditions, the worst part was the
humiliation; we were basically treated like criminals. When I got there, I
was in a pretty bad shape mentally, and the situation only got worse. It's
hard to describe, but I seriously thought I was going to die. My body felt
like a strange object, and sometimes I couldn't even move or speak. People
were trying to get me out of it by forcing me to walk or run around and
look at things in the environment. It didn't help, but that's what Hubbard
said to do with confused persons. One night I was told that I was going to
be thrown out of scientology (SP declared); something that happened to
several people on the DPF. It would mean getting out of that basement, but
I just couldn't imagine life outside anymore. All I knew was that my
eternal future was lost. When they told me the next day that I could stay,
I was immensely grateful.

While running to work one day, I had a strange experience of all feeling
suddenly shutting off. The piercing cold from snow melting in my thin
shoes, the hunger, the fatigue, the physical and mental pain - everything
went away. Nothing at all was important anymore. I could move like a
robot.

Now and then, somebody would try to leave. I and another Swedish woman
were sent to the railway station one day, to intercept a man from
Stockholm who was missing. We found him, but could not convince him to
return. He said he didn't believe in the OT3 story, and refused to stay.
For a moment, I felt sympathy for him, and wanted to get on that train,
too. But I quickly pushed those thoughts aside; he was wrong and we were
right, and I had to believe that.

By January '84, I was a "reformed" scientologist, and went back to
Stockholm. For years afterwards, I existed in a strangely numb state, with
occasional emotional outbursts. My self-esteem was mostly gone, and I let
other people run my life. 

More than ten years passed, before I started to seriously question
scientology. It's not comfortable to critically examine your dearest
beliefs, but there might be a high price to pay if you don't. Look at the
people in scientology's secret service (OSA) - did they really dream of
spending their life spying on and harassing people? Did the registrars
join scientology because they liked squeezing the last bit of money out of
others? Those scientologists who watched Lisa McPherson were most probably
just trying to help her, but now she's dead! When you follow the path of
blind belief, there's a risk you will end up doing things which are very
much contrary to whatever good intentions you started out with. 

I'm not saying that there aren't people who are happy with scientology,
and who find it useful, but I experienced things which were far removed
from the glossy image presented in the organization's promotional pieces,
and there are others who have suffered much worse than I did. Anybody who  
wants to get involved in scientology should be warned that the
organization will not tell you the whole story....

Catarina Sandstroem 

-- 
Cogito, ergo sum.  FAQs: http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/~av282/

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 and morally bankrupt as Scientology, your best weapon is time and
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