L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of scientology, created a group language precisely with the aim of changing the consciousness of its followers. The language contains, according to varying assessments, from three thousand to twenty thousand special scientology terms; furthermore, along with the collection of new terms specific to scientology, it takes common words and completely distorts their usual meaning. Language is a means of relating, a system of communication. But language is also one form of a reflection of the world—its image in a person's consciousness; and thus, it contain a specific knowledge of the world. The volume and character of the information that makes up this knowledge is apparently determinable by the language content—that is, its semiotics and semantics. If you exchange the semiotics and semantics of a national historical language for the language of scientology, then the scientologist's idea of reality, its reflection in his mind, the real world, is exchanged in his consciousness for something he imagines.
Furthermore, in the words of M. Hiedegger, "Language is both the house of existence and the abode of human existence," that is, the niche where a person lives, in which his consciousness is accustomed to functioning. Taken out of this natural environment, a person finds himself a novice in a differently constructed world, a student who does not understand many simple things. He is somewhat helpless, and thus needs to be led by a more informed and experienced scientologist. Thus, the follower becomes vulnerable to falling into dependency, and subject to suggestion.
One of the main means of changing a person's understanding of his own self can be considered Hubbard's texts themselves, or the Scientological "Writings," especially the axiomatic part—a long list of short sayings intended for long meditation and repetitive reading. From the scientific and linguistic point of view, these sayings are almost devoid of meaning (see, for example, the first fourteen factors in the section, "Creation of the Universe," so that they can take on a cult meaning only for the person who is consciously trying to depart from the real world and create his own illusory cosmos.
Hubbard himself showed that it is sufficient only to study scientology in order to effect a change in the psyche, and that the study "has a therapeutic effect in and of itself." Just the same, the main means of achieving the so-called "higher levels of spirituality" in scientology is auditing. This procedure can claim several excellent goals depending upon the participant's initial state and his effort to "ascend" the scientological scale. L. R. Hubbard worked out a whole series of detailed outlines for conducting various types of auditing. These instructions can be found in the brochure, "Hubbard's Dianetic Seminar," or in Hubbard's books, Scientology. 8-8008, and Creation of Human Capabilities.These procedures are conditionally divided into dianetics and scientology, although realistically they are used on all sufficiently deeply ingrained members of the scientology organization.
Incidentally, a person who wishes to participate in scientology practices, or to put it another way, one who enters the scientologist organization, signs a special entrance agreement: "Agreement for participation in religious services and waiver of claims." In this agreement he, in part, recognizes the rights of the "Church of Scientology" to keep a dossier on him called his "Preclear file," and other documents in which information is kept on him; furthermore, this member himself waives any opportunity to learn the contents of these materials related to him. Additionally, the new member agrees to "accept any and all known and unknown negative consequences, such as: harm, loss or destruction connected with health and/or property." Besides this, the client forever waives his own rights and "those of his successors, agents, legal representatives, and assigns," or to satisfy any of his claims against the scientology organization through legal action. Finally, scientology requires that anyone who returns should confirm that he wishes to participate in their practices not for the purpose of investigating the activities of the "Church of Scientology" as a media or governmental representative, or with any other aim. Only after signing this agreement is a newcomer allowed to participate in the special scientology procedures. He is also forbidden to take any medicines on the day before his scientology sessions.
Dianetic auditing is one of the main procedures in scientology; its ostensible aim is for the participant, who is called a "preclear," to reach a state of cleansed or "clear" consciousness, through the aide of a person who leads the session called "auditing."
Auditing is studied and conducted by scientology's adepts according to the brochure entitled, Hubbard's Dianetic Seminar. From the works of L. R. Hubbard, at special seminars. In the preface to these instructions, the seminar participants are called to conduct as many hours as possible in the auditing procedure in the roles of both auditor and preclear.
The process itself consists of ten steps.
In the first step a specific hierarchy is established, and the roles of the leader and the "patient," sitting opposite each other, are fixed. The auditor is supposed to "assure the preclear that he will know everything that is taking place," and to inform him of the plan for further work. After this, the participant goes on to the next step, during which the preclear, who sits comfortably in a chair or armchair, looks at the ceiling and closes his eyes at his auditor’s count. Thus, it could be said that at this stage, the client is undergoing a deprivation of visual and motor analyzers.
The third step of auditing could be described as the actual recognition of the possibility during this procedure of a suggestive component, inasmuch as the auditor should "establish a cancellation": "Any suggestion that I may make to you will become ineffective when I say the words, 'I cancel."
The following steps (fourth, fifth, and sixth a. and b.) are the most fundamental to auditing. In the process of undergoing these steps, the preclear should remember and "re-experience" any unpleasant events in his life, which later went into the unconscious (to the reactive mind), in order to decrease the negative emotional charge it carries, and, as a result free him from the painful symptoms. Here it must be particularly emphasized that the preclear should "return" to the earlier period of his life and describe "all feelings and impressions, as if the event were happening at the given moment, and not just remembering something that happened in the past." The auditor is furthermore recommended to ask additional questions, such as, "What do you see?" or "What do you hear?" The preclear is also supposed to refrain from descriptive analysis while verbalizing the images that come up during these episodes. Thus, techniques are used to direct visual and audial images in the patient's subconscious, and these techniques apparently lead to an altered state of consciousness (ASC), characterized by the consciousness's exchange of identification in space and time, and narrowing its dimension.
It should be noted that in dianetic auditing, the patient is urged toward self-revelation (self-exploration), inasmuch as the procedure presupposes a deep openness and revelation of the most intimate side of the preclear's past and present connected with painful states, so that the person becomes spiritually naked. This in fact makes the person defenseless before any of the scientologists' manipulations.
The procedure continues until "the preclear begins to relate cheerfully to it (that is, the experienced event. —T. K.)." Thus, the calm environment of the session and the comfortable, closed-eyes position of the patient, bringing on a relaxed state, combined with a vivid imagination of the situations that evoked anxiety and fear, lead to systematic desensitization. This mechanism is explained as reciprocal halting; that is, halting of anxious reactions as a result of concurrent evocation of antagonistic reactions toward them. We are possibly talking about a method of changing the patient's relationship to his phobia, when he distances himself from his neurosis and laughs at it.
Thus, the final aim of auditing is the freeing from negative emotions, which is expressed by laughter. The auditing session is considered successful if it ends in the preclear's laughter ("the patient's reaction during the therapy can range from quiet chuckling to rolling laughter”). "Diminishing the emotional charge of the "incident" and forming a positive emotional reaction (cheerfulness)… can be interpreted as cathartic experience and reaction, and as containing a positive strengthening of useful experience."
Finally, steps seven through nine return the preclear to the present, and restore him to complete awareness of his surroundings.
It is clear from the foregoing description that dianetic auditing can be viewed as one kind of psychotherapy. In this procedure are seen typical characteristics of various psychotherapeutic practices, in part, psychodynamic and behavior therapy. First, the preclear is expected to have insight, or recognition of the conflict (engrams) and its influence upon the given person's present state. During the process, the patient experiences a reaction (catharsis). In order to achieve a therapeutic effect, he is required to open himself up. In the process of auditing, a systematic desensitization is used, along with elements of relaxation training. As a result, it can be positively concluded that the preclear goes through an altered state of awareness during this procedure.
Just as during cases of psychotherapeutic procedures, participation in these auditing sessions can lead to the most varied interim results. For some patients, they can cause a temporarily positive effect expressed by decreased feelings of anxiety, development of adequate self-evaluation, and the resolution of interpersonal relationships. At the same time, in behavioral relaxation, which has an obvious similarity to dianetic auditing, notable are a whole list of undesirable side effects, the danger of which greatly increases in cases where the therapists conducting it have weak psychotherapeutic training, which would doubtlessly describe the scientologist supervisors and auditors. Such negative manifestations are considered to be: a loss of contact with reality bound up with the development of acute hallucinogenic states and the appearance of unusual somatic sensations; magnified effect of medications connected with the inducement in the patient of a trophotropic state, characterized by a general decrease in psychological activity; occurrence of states of panic, caused by a weakening of behavior control; premature release of repressed impressions; occurrence of excessive trophotropic states (states of temporary hypotension and hypoglycemia).
A. A. Skorodumov, citing an article published in the newspaper, Isvestia, recalls incidents when, "During auditing, people roar like lions, speak in incomprehensible languages, cry… At times, the desire for suicide arises." One auditing participant related that he "experienced a serious pain during auditings, and an abrupt sharpening of his sense of smell." For all appearances, we are dealing here with ASC, during which sufficiently emotional people, who went through auditing, as a result of their vivid remembrance of stressful situations from the past began to act upon reality with their fantasies, and entered states of hyperstress. In an article written by Archimandrite Augustine (Nikitina), a characteristic incident is cited: in November of 1994, in the Central House of Artists on Krimsky Val, the "auditor" N. P. from Moscow received an award. A little while later, the Center's administration informed some students that N. P. is being treated in the P. P. Kaschenko psychiatric hospital.
On the other hand, specific examples are cited in the article by A. A. Skorodumov showing that people who went through the scientologist seminars with a critical attitude where absolutely unaffected by any influences or attempts of suggestion by scientologists. Obviously, just as in other instances, a person's reaction to auditing greatly depends upon his personality.
Often, instructions for the auditing procedure are preceded by the psychological treatment of the seminar participants, aimed at the destabilization and severing of stereotypes. To do this, the supervisors lock the doors to the auditorium and begin shouting greetings and commands. Notable is another just as strange method practiced by the scientologists: to instruct how to audit, toys are used about which the preclear is to think up a story.
Besides the above-described dianetic auditing, Hubbard compiled many other methodologies for treatment and resolution of various psychosomatic problems in the preclear called scientology processing, or auditing. According to Hubbard's instructions, "The auditor and preclear are outside, or in a quiet place, where no one will bother them, and where they won't be interrupted. The auditor's task is to give the preclear specific, exact commands, which the preclear can follow and fulfill."
All scientology "processing" is based upon abundant repetition. The exercise is conducted rather slowly and gradually, from one step to the next. Any auditing begins as follows: "the auditor takes control over the preclear," or, to put it another way, there is an "orientation, at which the preclear is brought to the awareness of the fact of his presence in the auditing room, the fact of the auditor's presence, and the fact that he is a preclear." While this is happening, the auditor is pre-instructed to ask the preclear the same question repeatedly: "Look at me, who am I?" So that the latter would respond quickly, precisely, and undoubtingly.
After the preparation period of scientology "processing," the exercise itself begins. First, "to control, that is, to begin to change and stop." The task is divided into two stages. The first consists in moving some small object across a table. All changes in the object's position should take place at the auditor's command. Hubbard recommends in some cases to conduct this exercise over a period of four or five hours. Then they go to the next stage, in which the preclear himself moves about the room, following the auditor's commands exactly. This exercise also lasts many hours.
Another process of scientology auditing recommended by L. R. Hubbard to make the preclear achieve the ability to "possess" everything he sees was called "Trio" by the author, because it consists of repeating three questions: 1. Look around and tell me what you could have. 2. Look around and tell me what you would like to have remain in its place. 3. Look around and tell me what you could do without." The commands are used correspondingly: ten replies to the first question, five replies to the second question, and one reply to the third. The exercise should last a total of about twenty-five hours. In Hubbard's opinion, this process has the most therapeutic effect.
Thus, we see that in all the described variations on auditing sessions, a contact is established between the preclear and the auditor based upon degrees of selectivity; furthermore the patient temporarily passes into a state of awareness characterized by a narrowing of its dimension, and sharp focus on the content of monotonous questions by the auditor, which, without a doubt, is bound up with a change in self-awareness and functions of individual control. According to the officially accepted definition, this is precisely what is called hypnosis. Thus, despite the scientologists' insistence that there is no hypnosis used in their practices, we are forced to recognize that it is present to a certain degree, at least in the "scientology processing."
Thus, in this type of auditing we again see a combination of hypnotic suggestion and self-suggestion against a background of trance-like states of awareness.
Besides what has been described, there are also a whole list of processes aimed at “improving the condition” of the preclear and achieving the thetan state. For example, a person should learn to “go out” of his body and move in this state through space; “be” at a distance from his own head; find the inner surface of his forehead, and afterwards “place a pressuring ray upon it and push through to the back of the head,” or, to the contrary, “stretch an extracting ray through the back of the head, grasp the wall with it and pull himself out”; feel as if his body parts have changed their relative position; be in other bodies; “create” a picture of his body (see himself objectively), and so on. Through other exercises the preclear, sitting with his eyes closed, learns to think only about the corners of the room where he is located, or “create, perceive, or move around” black and white spots or crosses. All of this is related to methods of autogenic training and meditation, but penetrated with Hubbard’s philosophy.
Besides all this, the founder of scientology developed a variation of the process of “giving and taking,” which should be looked at in more detail. In this exercise the preclear is supposed to learn to easily, quickly, and without hesitation “lose,” “accept forcibly,” “desire,” “take,” and “leave” each element of long list (two and a half pages), compiled by Hubbard. In part, the following concepts are listed, separated by commas: work, pain, male bodies, female bodies, lightening, sex, what his mother (father) has eaten, blasphemy, excrement, faith, Christ, help, vomit, toys, homosexuality, joy, thetans, personalities, etc. The author claims that this list contains practically all factors that are the most important to reason. We can only ask, why didn’t the concept of “L. Ron Hubbard” get on the list?
From the description of the process of “give and take,” we see that it is aimed at a systematic destruction in the person of any sort of emotions, in order to deprive him of any feelings or attachments. The person is intentionally turned into a one-dimensional being, morally defective, unspiritual, deprived of principles, and obedient. He is cut off from his roots, and deprived of ideals. Not only the words, but also even the concepts behind them turn into an empty shell, into nothing. The person simply enters another world, and everything that remains in this world—from the filthy to the sacred—have no more meaning for him.
In place of this destroyed basis of human existence on earth, Hubbard gives his “basic values,” consisting of scientology ethics, “ethics of common sense,” directed toward the struggle for survival; where “good” is an action that brings benefit, “friendship” is conformism, any crime against an “enemy of scientology” is a good deed, where what is amoral is called useful, and what is moral is unneeded.
In order to resolve current problems in the preclear’s life, Hubbard proposes a method by which the patient spells out, one after another, some fictional problems that are comparative in their importance with real ones. If he has trouble doing this, it is recommended to him that he speak falsely for some time about his difficulties, and then go on to invent non-existent problems. The process continues until the preclear forgets about his problems. This method of smoothing over disturbing situations has a distant similarity with the methods of behavioral psychotherapy. Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that the aim of this scientological working through of problems is not to prepare the patient to resolve his complex situation, but to make him entirely erase it from his awareness. They convince the person that his problem is not important and does not deserve any particular attention, although it may not be that way at all. He turns his attention to some other non-existent, complicated life situation, fantasizes, and transports himself into another mental space. Thus, under the influence of scientologists, a person puts off, like Oblomov, the resolution of the problems facing him in real life.
It must be noted that during this process, the preclear can also become excited, drop unconscious, or begin to speak obsessively. Most likely, the negative result in these cases comes as the consequence of the operating principle of “thrown-off disturbance.” It is also possible that the discrepancy between the problem’s urgency and the method of overcoming it can lead to a trans-like state. On the other hand, in some cases it can happen that the preclear really does feel relieved after experiencing the fictional “imitative stress” in connection with the activation of his organism’s defensive reaction.
In addition to auditing by scientologists, in some cases (for example, after traumas and physical illness) recommended are so-called assists—trivial procedures of a psychological and physiotherapeutic nature which, through scientology’s concepts of where pain comes from and how to control it, are supposed is to remove painful sensations or pressure. Assists are “spiritual” healings of a person that accompany medical help, and consist of a series of commands and actions.
An example of an assist can be a cycle of instructions to look at one object or another, the meaning of which is to turn the sick or troubled person’s attention to the surrounding objects as a distraction. The same process is used by scientologists to return an intoxicated person to consciousness.
Another example is the repeated touching of a finger to the painful spot, which, to the contrary, direct the person’s attention to this area and thereby—in the opinion of scientologists— under the thetan’s restored control, directs the organism’s restorative powers to that spot: blood, “nerve flow” and “energy.” The finger should nevertheless touch other parts of the body as well, always reaching the spine and the extremities.
Scientologists consider that one of their assists—neuro assist—is capable of straightening joints and the spine. They are proceeding from a false understanding that in the “nerve channels,” that is, in the nerves, “stagnant accumulations of energy” can form, or “standing waves” of pain impulse of energy, which evoke tension in the muscles, and as result, the displacement of the spine and other parts of the body. Scientologists suppose that a light, stroking massage along the “nerve channels” to move out the “standing waves” will help.
There are several other assists besides these known in scientology: the so-called "touch assists," when the circumstances and movements of an accident are reproduced; an assist called “communication with the body” consisting in placing the hands on various parts of the body with the suggestion to feel them; an assist for a person who is unconscious: moving his hands to various objects accompanied by the naming of this objects.
Scientologists suggest that the assists are quite effective, and bring noticeable relief to people. It is apparent, however, that they are all based on autosuggestion.
Thus, we have seen that in all the described variations on scientology auditing an acute change is observable in the preclear’s consciousness (ASC), often accompanied by nervous excitement, loss of space-time orientation, loss of contact with reality, hallucinations, hyper stress, states of panic, unusual somatic sensations, trophitropic states, and so on, from which we can conclude that any auditing has, generally speaking, unpredictable consequences for the preclear. On the other hand, the auditor has a no less complicated task before him, since he is forced during certain types of auditing to repeat the same question for hours. Observation data on the auditor’s state have not yet been published in articles on scientology; nevertheless, it is a great probability that that the auditor also goes into an ASC, including a trance.
At the same time, in concluding that there are psychological and physical changes taking place during various scientology procedures, we should note that a large part of the same kind of changes are also observable during many other intentionally consciousness-altering processes, including psychotherapeutic sessions, or in rites performed in traditional societies, such as North American Indians. In part, the phenomenon of scientology “exteriorization” is related to “out-of-body experiences” (OBE) recorded in other practices.
It follows also that the very fact of altered consciousness in scientology and its accompanying manifestations are not unique, and therefore our attention should not mainly be directed toward the psychophysical changes that accompany auditing, psychotherapeutic procedure, or some ritual activities, but toward the goal that one process or another is trying to achieve, and the motivation for producing this state.
As is shown in the articles of E. Bourguignon, V. G. Jileca, and other authors who have researched ASC, there are a number of factors that provide conditions conducive to experiencing “pseudo-perception.” Nevertheless the sense load of the achieved state, its content, and the experience attained in it are almost entirely determined by previously assimilated established world views. That is, a member’s entrance into an altered state of consciousness is not the only important aspect of the group’s characteristics; also important is the context which is supposed to be apprehended in this state—the preparation or instruction which preceded this experience. During the trance-like state, “the experience is preceded by instructions concerning what can be expected, and how to interpret what is perceived and felt.” Obviously, this is precisely why L. R. Hubbard, having noticed the stated characteristics of ASC in his experiments on people, insisted that it is necessary not only to do the auditing. “It is much better to teach the person and conduct the processing with him, than to do no more than the latter” (ital. by Hubbard. —T. K.).
From what we have stated it should be concluded that aside from the importance of exposing the practice of using ASC in scientology, we must not confine ourselves to merely pointing out these phenomenon. Of greater interest is not the fact itself that scientologists enter states of altered consciousness, but the goal of this process in scientology. This goal, as the present research shows, is to convince the preclear of a different reality of the scientology cosmos and of the illusory nature of this world in which we live. To achieve this goal, all the methods of suggestion and other influence are set to work upon the person. The articles of a whole list of authors (E. Freska, S. Culsard, P. Prince) show that “subjective experience with images can influence the biological structure of an organism, as can events and interaction taking place in external reality.” Thus, in modulated scientology processes a person can, generally speaking, even physiologically feel that he is in another physical and psychological universe. “The role of inner imagining becomes distinguished, and symbols or mental images can take the place of “real” people.” Projecting these conclusions upon scientology, we can suppose that the scientologist who has been drawn deeply into the life of the organization completely changes his perception of the world.
An analysis of all the main aspects of the theory and practice of scientology based upon the works of L. Ron Hubbard shows as a result of research into the requirements of scientology, that a transformation of a person’s self-awareness takes place within the parameters of some “new scientological man,” so that the preclear almost entirely falls under the control of the scientology organization. The follower of L. Ron Hubbard’s teaching becomes a psychological prisoner in a “scientology reality” having almost nothing to do with normal human existence in the world. As a result, the general state of someone involved in the scientologists’ technology worsens.
It should once again be emphasized that the scientologist’s methods are not something entirely novel, and they bear a similarity to certain forms of psychotherapy. Furthermore, both psychotherapy and auditing promise to cure psychosomatic illnesses, bring psychological comfort, self assurance, and consequent success in life.
But not only psychotherapy, scientology, or therapeutically oriented sects, such as “transcendental meditation,” occupy themselves with healing emotional illnesses. Christianity, “and Orthodoxy in particular, in the opinion of theologians, is a medical science”; and “the Church’s work is to heal.” Priest and professor I. Romanides suggests that, “If prophetic Judaism and Christianity as its successor had first appeared in the world in the twentieth century, they would most likely have been classified not as religious teachings, but as medical sciences related to psychiatry, the social popularity of which is connected to the cure of various degrees of illness which have damaged the human personality. They would not at all have been perceived as religions, which promise through various magical exercises and beliefs an escape from a certain supposedly material world, a world of evil and hypocrisy, into a supposedly spiritual world of safety and success.”
Scientologists attempt to offer an alternative to the Orthodox way of resolving a person’s emotional problems, but they only lead their adherents into a dangerous realm, where their condition becomes even worse, because their main idea of survival leads to egoism that is inseparably linked with internal and external conflicts. Meanwhile, the goal of life in the Orthodox Church, which has existed long before the appearance of any “ingenious discoverer of the mysteries” of the human soul such as Lafayette Ron Hubbard, consists precisely in the healing of human beings. The degree of success it attains in this task is witnessed to by hundreds and thousands of people who have found true emotional health. This health is evident in spiritual peace, joy, and respect and love for each person individually, and for the world—without egoism, envy, hatred, anger, greed, deceit, or blackmail. Thus, we clearly see two opposite types of human religious consciousness, having fundamentally different results.