How Scientology broke my spirit with its insidious methods of thought reform - by Bruce Hines

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Cross-posted from The Underground Bunker:


How Scientology broke my spirit with its insidious methods of thought reform

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Last month, Bruce Hines shared with us his gripping story of escaping from Scientology with a risky flight from New York. Today he takes us back a few years, to his lowest point in the Sea Org, Scientology’s dedicated corps that requires its members to sign billion-year contracts, and its notorious prison program, the RPF. We’ve heard about the Sea Org’s RPF before, but in this piece Bruce wants us to understand how Scientology’s policies work on the mind, and to help us understand how it can truly be a “prison of belief.” We hope you give it the attention it deserves.

I wasn’t sure I would write about this part of my life. But having recently watched a couple of documentaries about Scientology, I decided to give it a shot. I have the idea that someone reading this would think that I am exaggerating. Or that I’m just bitter. Or that I must have been very weak to allow it to happen to me. Or that it is like I’m talking about my ex, and so it is all one-sided and distorted. Or whatever. Maybe it is all of those things. But I promise that these things did happen.

Part of the difficulty is that I still don’t fully understand what happened and how it changed me. Writing this is an attempt on my part to gain some closure.

The events that I am about to describe took place over a period of about a month or six weeks, in July and August of 1998. Two or three weeks earlier I had graduated from the Sea Org’s Rehabilitation Project Force, of which I had been a member for over three years.

We referred to it as the RPF.

The RPF is something very foreign to the experience of the vast majority of people. It would take many pages to describe what the RPF is and how it came about, and the reader still wouldn’t fully understand. I have heard it called a gulag, though it wasn’t as draconian as what happened under Stalin. Still, it was a labor camp, and it was quite oppressive. I’ll just describe what happened and do my best to avoid all the jargon and acronyms used by Scientology.

The story starts after I had completed the RPF and was about to be promoted back into the Sea Org unit where I had worked beforehand. I was quite happy about this. Most people in my position would have to do menial work in a lower unit. I was sitting in a room with Guido Buchele, a Swiss guy in a similar situation to mine. We were having to study binders and binders of policies and programs. The idea was to catch up on the current plans and activities of the organization after three years of being away from it. This had been going on for a few days.

At one point I went to a telephone in that room to call someone about the place I would be living. At the time I was living in a dormitory with several other guys. I was supposed to be getting a room for me and my wife, from whom I’d been separated the whole time I was in the RPF. I wasn’t sure if I should be making a phone call during the time we were supposed to be studying those binders. But it was taking many days longer than it should have to get a couple’s room.

While I was on the phone, Scientology’s leader David Miscavige walked by the door and looked in from the hallway. He was the very top guy in a vast, international, multi-level network of sub-organizations. He was practically worshipped by thousands and thousands of people. He had put me in the RPF in the first place.

When he walked by the room, I didn’t think much of it, even though when he was around people generally walked on eggshells. He was very volatile and had a bad temper. One word from him could result in a person getting disciplined in some fashion or another. I was a bit uneasy about the fact that he had seen me on the phone.

I couldn’t reach the person that I needed to talk to about my room and sat back down to continue reading the binders. It was quite boring but I was doing my best to get through them. Suddenly, Miscavige walked into the room followed by four or five other people, all top executives. He always walked around with an entourage.

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