People are asking for our thoughts regarding recent tragic events. We can only offer facts about scientology teachings and our opinions on them — we don’t have firsthand information concerning the details of Kelly Preston or Benjamin Keough’s deaths, though, when it comes to scientology and scientologists, there are other factors that come into play – factors that are contained in the “scripture” of scientology that give a particularly dark tint to these terribly sad events.
The heartbreakingly unfortunate truth is people commit suicide every single day, and people die of breast cancer every single day.
Scientology goes to great lengths to claim they don’t offer medical treatment or diagnosis and have people sign legal waivers to this effect. But anyone who has ever sat before a scientology registrar (what they call organizational salespeople) knows the waivers are just a way of avoiding lawsuits and government investigations. When you get into scientology beyond the surface appearances, you soon find they claim they can cure all diseases and people pay tens, hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars, based on the belief this is possible.
Unsurprisingly, scientology has a jaundiced view of the medical profession. Though they again pay lip service to avoid legal liability, they follow the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard who said that other than setting a broken bone (they acknowledge some utility of doctors for this), there is little value in the medical profession. Why would one need medicine when you have scientology that can supposedly cure almost anything? Hubbard packaged scientology as something real and tangible (a “technology”), far advanced beyond anything else available to man – medicine included. Scientologists believe that this “technology” is thoroughly researched and proven fact. They call real medicine “wog-medicine.” “Wog” is a derogatory term L. Ron Hubbard coined to refer to any non-scientologist. Scientologists believe they are far superior to wogs simply by virtue of being scientologists – that they are, in fact, a new and more advanced species, dubbed homo novis (“new man”) by Hubbard.
For some additional understanding why L. Ron Hubbard had such scorn for the medical profession, one needs to look back to the formative years of the subject. Hubbard shared his early writings with medical doctors, hoping for their endorsement as a way to gain credibility and boost sales. Rather than offering support, doctors from both the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association debunked his theories and stated his “discoveries” were quackery. In response, Hubbard declared them to be enemies, and wove their enemy status into the scientology belief system. Scientologists are routinely taught and operate under the belief that physicians and psychiatrists are evil people responsible for everything bad and wrong in the world – including the Holocaust, modern wars, racism, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, apartheid, and 9/11.
Hubbard called psychiatry the sole cause of decline in the universe.
Scientologists are taught not to take “mind-altering” medications. This includes anything prescribed for depression or other “non-physical” conditions. Scientologists do not believe the functions of the brain can be addressed by any means other than through the spirit. And the spirit can only be trained to do so with scientology “technology.” It is man’s ONLY hope. Chemical imbalances in the brain are a complete hoax perpetrated by doctors and Big Pharma to sell drugs. It would be in keeping with scientology belief and practice for seizure medications for someone like Jett Travolta to be dismissed as useless. Scientologists with epilepsy have been told to wean themselves off their prescribed medication in order to continue in scientology. Sometimes with tragic consequences. There are stories of Scientology parents who decided they would rather have their child “pick up a new body” than taking “psych drugs.” If a scientologist loses a child, they are told to “just have another,” with the idea that the deceased spirit of the child will be born again to you, the scientologist, and simply start again.
So, while seeing a medical doctor is not strictly forbidden in Scientology, it is seen as a last resort or for emergency cuts or bone breaks. And often scientologists seek out either scientology doctors or alternative medicine practitioners rather than more mainstream medical professionals. Scientologists generally believe they are above (as in having a greater understanding of the cause of disease and illness) than “wog-doctors” and “wog-treatments.” They don’t typically get regular check-ups by real medical doctors because they are taught to believe that they are impervious to even the common cold unless they come in contact with someone or something critical of scientology. In fact, in Hubbard’s first book, he emphatically claimed “Clears do not get colds” (a Clear is someone who has progressed up the scientology levels of “spiritual awareness”).
If anyone remembers Tom Cruise on TV saying he has not had so much as a cold, you will likely remember what a bizarre statement that seemed to be. This statement only makes sense within the context of him being a scientologist. Tom Cruise is considered the epitome of scientology success, as he is professionally successful which reflects well on scientology and gives him a high profile and great influence. A good scientologist, according to scientology principles, should never become ill. So Tom Cruise of course promotes the story that he is superhuman and never struggles with health issues.
Contact with Suppressive Persons (SPs) makes one vulnerable to illness. An SP is anyone who does not agree with scientology. In fact, Hubbard says this is the ONLY reason for sickness and illness. So, the solution to illness and sickness is to sever any relationships with SPs, and study Hubbard “technology” and get scientology counseling. Consultation with doctors is often a last resort and often it is too late for real medicine to help.
The same goes for children: scientology parents commonly do not seek appropriate healthcare for their children because of their beliefs. If it were not occurring within scientology, this could be labeled a form of child abuse and neglect, as failing to provide a child’s necessary medical and mental health care falls within the category of neglect. (See the American Academy of Pediatrics for more information: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/120/6/1385).
If you do become physically ill as a Scientologist, you are labelled “PTS” which stands for Potential Trouble Source. As a PTS, you have the potential to be trouble to yourself and other scientologists, and you need to be “handled” by scientology.
Handling starts with Scientology telling you that you are only sick (PTS) because you are connected to a suppressive person or group. And that is your fault. You did something “bad” to get yourself sick.
What is a suppressive person or group? Anyone or anything that opposes or even questions Scientology.
So if you are sick, rather than recovering in bed or seeing a doctor, scientology requires you to report for interrogation on their version of a lie detector (E-Meter) to find out what “source of suppression” you are connected to. These are the sorts of questions they may ask:
Have you gone on the internet and looked at anything negative about Scientology?
Have you watched Going Clear?
Have you watched The Aftermath?
Have you read a news article about Scientology?
Have you clicked on any website that is anti-Scientology?
Have you spoken to any friend or family member who is opposed to Scientology?
And this interrogation does not stop until you come up with an acceptable answer as to who has been “suppressing” you. You WILL find a source and name a name eventually because they will make sure you do. You don’t get to leave the room until a source has been identified – being involved in a conversation with a co-worker who questions scientology, seeing an advertisement for some anti-scientology media, looking at a blog that is critical of scientology, anything at all. A source must be found.
If you struggle to come up with an answer, you will continue to be asked these questions repeatedly until you provide an acceptable answer. If you continue to come up with nothing, you will then be interrogated about past lives.
In a previous lifetime, have you ever been opposed to Scientology?
In a previous lifetime, have you ever thought a critical thought about Scientology?
In a previous lifetime, were you ever connected to someone who opposed Scientology?
In a previous lifetime, have you ever read something critical of Scientology?
And on and on.
You are hooked up to the E-Meter, (scientology’s version of a lie detector) which is being watched by the scientologist interrogating you. You are directed to answer in ways that cause the E-Meter to respond, even if you fabricate a story to make this happen. The belief in scientology is that you are discovering a true fact from your past — rather than what is really happening, which is that you are creating any story that will serve the purpose of getting you out of the interrogation.
Following this, you are required to resolve the issue “in the physical universe,” which might mean severing a relationship or promising to cease reading the “bad” media. As a result, you are even more likely to remain ignorant of reality as potential sources of real information on Scientology are cut off from you.
But you are not done yet. You must write down all your “sinful” behavior (according to scientology’s rules) and begin an “amends project” for your transgressions in order to be allowed back into the fold. You must ask for forgiveness and get signatures from your fellow Scientologists indicating that they agree to accept you back into the group.
Only by following these protocols will you recover from your sickness, the story goes.
Scientology not only fails to acknowledge medical science and practice, it also refuses to acknowledge the reality of mental health. For example, it denies the existence of depression as a mental condition. Even using the term “depression” results in being accused of “wog-think.”
Since depression and other mental health issues are real, scientology has had to find a way to account for them by assigning its own names and concepts to those conditions, removing them from the realm of science and shifting them into the realm of the cult. If you exhibit any signs of a mental health condition, you are instructed to continue your scientology study and auditing. You are just told to continue and the condition will be resolved. Because the spirit is senior to the mind and body and scientology addresses and heals the spirit. In fact, the final line of the Creed of the Church of Scientology is:
And we of the Church believe that the spirit can be saved and that spirit alone may save or heal the body.
With this as a fundamental, believers are convinced scientology solves everything. Scientology rejects depression as a diagnosis and directs you deeper into the controlled world of scientology rather than the world of mental and medical health where appropriate help is available.
If you are depressed and talk to your scientology friends and family, you are just directed to continue your scientology progress. They say, “You are not depressed. You just need to continue up the bridge” (the bridge is the series of steps one must follow in scientology to attain spiritual freedom – known as the “Bridge to Total Freedom”). “One day, you will figure it out with Scientology Technology,” they say. You are strung along with unfounded hope that continuing to devote yourself to scientology will heal you.
Children of scientologists are commonly sent to the scientology organization to deal with mental health struggles. Rather than even the basics of modern mental healthcare, the “treatment” consists of scientology “tech.” Though scientology claims to be the experts in the field of mental health, this is an empty, unfounded claim.
Of note, scientologists also specifically look down on autism. Anyone on the autism spectrum is seen as spiritually damaged, in a bad body, and living a “degraded“ existence. Scientologists “manage” the person’s condition with vitamins and scientology “technology.”
The approach to mental health needs within Scientology is problematic on multiple levels:
It fails to identify and address the issue, leaving you with the mistaken belief that something else is the root of your problem and that scientology has the cure (which can be a form of treatment trauma, which is when the treatment for a problem not only fails to help but hurts you and becomes its own traumatic problem).
You are taught that having any issue is always your own fault, so you lose trust in yourself and become increasingly reliant on Scientology to guide you.
You are told that your experience isn’t real and that Scientology has the correct version of the story to feed you, so your true sense of things is denied and you lose your bearings on reality (this is called invalidation, and it can be deeply traumatic). If you are a child, it means having your emotional needs rejected by your parents and your emotional landscape invalidated. This can also be a very traumatic type of invalidation. See the Boston Child Study Center’s definition at: https://bostonchildstudycenter.com/ptsd/).
It can make it nearly impossible to ever again trust in the availability of real and meaningful help.
It makes you less likely to be healthy in your own life and therefore less likely to be there in the right ways for others.
Your sense of who you are, the world you live in, and the possibility of hope for the future becomes distorted (these are called core beliefs). See more information about them at the Centre for Clinical Interventions: https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/-/media/CCI/Mental-Health-Professionals/Depression/Depression—Information-Sheets/Depression-Information-Sheet—12—What-are-Core-Beliefs.pdf).
This can all cause lasting damage.
You never get real help. Your true condition is ignored, twisted into something else, and treated as a scientology issue. And you become increasingly caught up in the web that is scientology. Because everything can be reframed this way, you become increasingly caught up in the prison of belief that is scientology.
At its lower levels, Scientology teaches that all emotional upsets and conditions, along with many physical ailments, are caused by something called your “reactive mind” – a basic version of your mind that is not the real you and responds automatically to certain stimuli. You are taught that only with scientology can you eradicate this reactive mind that is the cause of your problems. Scientology treats the problem by essentially ignoring it because it’s not the real you and therefore doesn’t need to be addressed – you simply need to “erase” your reactive mind. Of course, this tends to ensure you never actually get better because you don’t seek to understand yourself and improve your life. You become split off from parts of yourself or issues within yourself that need help – they’re not considered “you” and, as a result, aren’t real and worthy of healing.
Scientology tells you to look the other way when what you really need is help to look more deeply, to understand, and to get better.
See the article “Toward Integration: Mental Health Defined” by Victoria Dunckley, M.D., in Psychology Today for an overview of this idea: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-wealth/201703/toward-integration-mental-health-defined
In “erasing” the reactive mind, you address things like prenatal incidents where your mother hit her belly while you were in the womb, childhood accidents, illnesses that you weren’t even aware of – all of these are explained as things that can cause your reactive mind to act up. While any of these occurrences might have a true psychological or medical impact, scientology uses them to minimize and ignore the issues rather than properly addressing them. The fundamental premise is that these sorts of incidents are the things that are causing you to be sick, irrational, nervous or unhappy. You are fed the idea that the things that are stored in your subconscious mind are the cause of everything bad. Not only do you never deal with anything real, but you end up having fictitious stories blamed for your problems.
When you attest to the first major milestone in Scientology, called CLEAR, this means you have eradicated your reactive mind. And the only way to attest to this level being completed is to have the realization, that you mocked up (made up) your reactive mind yourself. So, all the hours spent, all the money spent… was all just you, making it up. You are told that you were in fact imagining the whole reactive mind scenario — which, you may remember, you were taught to see and work on. Yet you are held responsible for this rather than scientology admitting they got you to believe something that is not real — and took your time and money to deal with it.
If you advance beyond Clear and make it to confidential upper levels, called the Operating Thetan (OT) Levels, the story suddenly changes. (Thetan is the scientology word for spirit.)
You are now taught that your body is composed of disembodied spirits called Body Thetans (BTs). You are told that your problems are the result of being infested with these BTs that cause all upsets and illnesses. They are considered the cause of problematic conditions – the true source of cancer, headaches, infections, etcetera. These spirits can be vanquished by scientology auditing. All you have to do is find the spirit and audit them away. Once you have done this, you are told that the upset, depression, headache, high blood pressure, cancer, or other ailment will be gone. This process is touted as a miracle cure for all things by scientology. (See the earlier article here L. Ron Hubbard on Cancer)
From this point on in your scientology involvement, you are dealing exclusively with BTs.
Back to the example of depression: if you say you are depressed, you are hooked up to an E-Meter. You are directed to pay attention to your body and find where you can perceive some kind of “mass” (which is in fact a BT). Once you identify a location (for example, in your head), you are directed to ask this mass what it is. You’ll likely tell the auditor that the mass’ response is something like, “I am depression” or “I am a headache” or “I am cancer.” You are directed to continue to question this mass about what it is, then to ask it who it is, until you report to the auditor that the mass has given the answer, “I am me.” Auditing continues until you arrive at this answer. Once this occurs, Scientology’s story is that the mass realizes that it is a spirit stuck inside or on you and acting as if it is an issue of yours (for example, a headache). Once it realizes that it is its own being, it “blows” – meaning it exits your body and is born into the body of a newborn to inhabit a body of its own, no longer needing to take on the role of a problem in someone else’s body. And now you are cured. Your depression, lung cancer, diabetes, etcetera is now gone.
But one only gets to eradicate the “depression” if they are lucky enough to get the OT levels. Most Scientologists spend a lifetime trying to get to the OT levels, going into Scientology daily, spending hundreds of thousands to try to get there and most never do.
This of course sounds crazy. But, by the time you are taught this in scientology, you have read thousands of times, that the E-Meter is 100 percent accurate, and if it shows up on the meter, that’s all the proof you need to know that these entities exist, and you have already invested so much time, money, and effort that you do not want to doubt or question it. Read about the sunk cost fallacy to understand more about how strongly this can impact your decisions in Arkes & Blumer’s article, “The Psychology of Sunk Cost”). https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1985-20101-001
Often family and friends are also scientologists. The most important and meaningful parts of life are woven into the world of scientology, and you’ll have to sever ties and lose loved ones if you leave. And you’ve been taught that scientologists are on the side of good and everyone else is either ignorant/uninformed or on the side of evil, so you’re not properly oriented to the non-scientology world. L. Ron Hubbard also claimed that people who leave scientology get ill and die. So it’s frightening to imagine leaving, and you’re very unlikely to call bullshit and walk out. There is too much at stake, so you just swallow it and continue moving along. It’s the only option that seems livable. And you spend enough time in this made-up world that you end up having little choice but to start believing it.
When, after spending hundreds of thousands you finally arrive at the level of OT VII, you may remain on it for 10 or more years. You audit yourself using an E-Meter — meaning that you are expected to spend all day (at least 5 times each day) talking to BTs. By investing this much time (and the money that goes along with it), you are being set up to have much more difficulty ever seeing beyond the mental confines of scientology. This is classic cognitive dissonance, which is very likely to cause you to be more firmly entrenched in scientology beliefs, despite them being fantastical. See the American Psychological Association’s book, Cognitive Dissonance, Second Edition: Reexamining a Pivotal Theory in Psychology; for a sample of the book with some relevant information included, visit: https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/Cognitive-Dissonance-Intro-Sample.pdf
On OT-8, you are supposed to have complete control over your body and life, meaning that you cannot die unless you choose to die, which is to say that you choose to discard your body and to return later in a new body. You might choose to do this if your current body isn’t serving you anymore – if, for example, your body is riddled with cancer. But why is it sick and not fixable through Scientology? This goes against all of Scientology’s teachings. You are never given an answer for this inconsistency (because, of course, there is no logical answer for this). However, you accept it because you’re in too deep, and it’s too hard to get out now.
And beyond the outrageous claims Hubbard makes for scientology, he also claims that when you reach the top of “The Bridge” you can die and be born into a new body and have full recall of your previous life.
Because of Scientology’s claims that these confidential levels give you the ability to cure yourself of medical and mental health issues, Scientologists become less and less likely to ever seek appropriate medical or mental health services as they progress through Scientology, even if they are in desperate need of healthcare. This is exactly why scientology should be investigated for practicing medicine without a license.
Scientology treatments are obviously fictional. They have no basis in science. There is no real-world research to support them, and they fly in the face of fields and practices rooted in evidence – fields and practices that work extremely hard to find safe and reliable ways of helping people. Scientology teaches that those fields, those practices, and those helping professionals are wrong, bad, and dangerous.
Perhaps all of this could be more tolerable if scientology, rather than being a cult, was truly faith-based and made it clear to everyone that its approaches are rooted in faith and not in science. L. Ron Hubbard, however, sold his teachings as science, and they continue to be sold this way today. Scientologists believe that Hubbard’s teachings are science-based. They are not, and this lie can prove dangerous.
Even worse, scientology is a false science, masquerading as a religion, but operating as a business. It is run as a business, and scientology’s followers are loyal customers who are taken advantage of and are often deeply injured by the business schemes they devote their lives to following. Scientology even requires that you prepay for participation in their services. It should be regulated as a business, not granted tax exempt status and cloaked in the protections afforded by the First Amendment.
Scientologists do not view death like others. They believe, “Oh, my mom is off getting a new body, so I will see her soon.” Scientologists often offer the helpful advice to the bereaved person that they get pregnant, so the person they just lost will be born again to them, which further inhibits any kind of healthy grief process. Read Parkes’ Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life, Worden’s Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner, or Kübler-Ross’ On Death and Dying
In addition, scientologists believe the only reason they can’t remember prior lifetimes is because when you die, your spirit is compelled to go to what Hubbard referred to as “implant stations” in the “between lives area” hidden away somewhere here on Earth or on Mars or Venus (yes, Hubbard actually said that) so you can be spiritually hypnotized and made to forget everything that has happened to you before. This happens to everyone on Earth between each lifetime and was totally unknown until Hubbard “discovered” it. He expanded on this whole science fiction story with the infamous Xenu story so-well-described on South Park and in Going Clear.
It is a science fiction story, but Scientologists accept it. If you say to a scientologist this is nonsense, their pat response is: “You don’t have to believe it, the meter doesn’t lie, just do it”. Scientologists accept it even though L. Ron Hubbard has not come back in a new body. Scientologists accept this by stating that he (as a spirit) is off doing more “research” and will reinhabit a body when he is done. Scientologists accept this narrative even though not a single person has ever reported that they are a reborn scientologist and are able to remember everything from previous lives having completed the OT levels. It is nothing but a story. But it is easy to see how an appreciation for life and the desire to take good care of this current life is diminished by this casual, blasé belief system.
Given all this, scientologists are negligent when it comes to physical and mental health. Even abusive. Hubbard’s teachings bring about a neglect of their own health and well-being and this is compounded by the abusive techniques used on scientologists in the auditing processes they submit to. Scientology parents often fail their children on the most fundamental levels, substituting scientology for real education and care. This has had catastrophically sad, even tragic, results. This kind of child abuse should not be allowed to continue.
To any scientologist who might be reading this: ask yourself the hard questions. How is someone who completed OT-8 dying? Isn’t that person supposed to have complete control and choice over life and death? Why are you devoting your entire life to become “cause” (have total control over) a “meat body” (the unimportant body that you are inhabiting in this lifetime)? Why did L. Ron Hubbard die and why couldn’t he follow his own teachings? And where is he – wasn’t he supposed to be back by now?
The truth is that Scientologists get sick and Scientologists die. It is unfortunate, but it is the reality of life. And, while it is sad, it also gives this life some meaning. If this is all going to end without our control, we ought to live more fully and take better care of ourselves and our loved ones.
Ultimately, everyone realizes they are human – not a superhuman, homo novis with fantastical powers and cause over life and death. This is not a bad thing. In fact, that realization might save more lives than just your own. Get out. Your children will thank you for it.
Please take this as a wake-up call: take back your children, take back your lives.
If you are child of Scientology parents who forbids you to get real help and you find yourself needing it, I beg of you to go against all that your scientology parents have taught you, and reach out to get real help.
For anyone in pain and not receiving support, if you start to think that your life is not worth living, please call: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for real and immediate help. There is real help there.
And if you are a current scientologist, know that we understand how hard this is to accept. We have been there. We are here for you and we can help you. Please click on the CONTACT ME button on the home page or reach out to The Aftermath Foundation.
Leah Remini and Mike Rinder
(With some help from a very smart mental health professional)
Note: The new episode of Scientology: Fair Game podcast is now available.