Category Archives: Viktor Frankl

Emotions II: Play Acting Scientologists

Scientology culture is recognizable by its collective, synthetic ‘cheerful’  or ‘enthusiastic’ emotional tone.  Scientologists learn to put on a happy face.  If they are seen without one, a fellow Scientologist considers it his duty to ‘handle’ it. And that primarily means making the person mentally deal with the life situation causing the lower emotion so that he can easily mentally cope with putting on a happy face in spite of it.  In a Scientology group one is expected to act happy.  To display any emotion less than that results in Scientologists almost instinctively interceding with a person’s psyche to remedy the perceived problem.  A Scientologist learns eventually to convincingly act happy all the time, even when he or she is feeling deep sorrow, a sense of devastating loss, or is suffering pangs of conscience.

Scientologists will bridle at the notion they are taught to play act through life.  But, the technology they are applying day in and day out is plain:

‘Force yourself to smile and you’ll soon stop frowning.  Force yourself to laugh and you’ll soon find something to laugh about.  Wax enthusiastic and you’ll very soon feel so.  A being causes his own feelings.’  – L. Ron Hubbard 25 August 1982

If you read Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior (Amazon Books, 2013) you will get a fairly comprehensive picture of the mood of the Scientology community that Ron was addressing with this bulletin, and the reasons for that tone.   That includes the mood that Ron himself was in.

I think that if you look at it objectively you cannot help but see the effects of a culture en masse adopting the stable datum that emotion is something to create like play acting.  That objective look has prompted some to reckon Scientology culture as resembling those communities depicted in the movies The Stepford Wives and The Truman Show.  How else could otherwise upstanding-seeming citizens blissfully ignore wholesale human rights violations happening at their church’s headquarters, the regular disappearing of church public figures, the forsaking of long-time associates and even family on the arbitrary order of one’s church, the countenancing of extreme methods of harassment directed at anyone who expresses the slightest disagreement with the Scientology way, etc, ad infinitum.  If you believe this only applies to the corporate church community you have got a serious case of denial – maybe even the Stepford/Truman strain.

There is another, accurate, word to describe this phenomenon of manipulating one’s own emotions.  It is called ‘acting.’

As in, act, from New Oxford American dictionary: 2. Behave in the way specified, and  5. Peform a fictional role in a play, movie, or television production.

I have news.  One must for sure act in order to attain desirable emotion, such as those concomitant with ‘happiness.’   But, Scientologists  – notwithstanding all their literalness with exact, precise definitions of terms – are given  and tend to thus dramatize the wrong definition of act.

Try, definition 1, Take action; do something.

Viktor Frankl can ‘splain better than I can:

Normally, pleasure is never the goal of human strivings but rather is, and must remain, an effect, more specifically, the side effect of attaining a goal.  Attaining the goal constitutes a reason for being happy.  In other words, if there is a reason for happiness, happiness ensues, automatically and spontaneously, as it were.  And that is why one need not pursue happiness, one need not care for it once there is a reason for it.

–          Vitkor Frankl, The Will to Meaning

For those Scientologist still sufficiently brainwashed to refuse to consider the words of a psychiatrist – even one who survived three stints in Nazi concentrations camps and demonstrably walked the walk far more realistically than any Scientologist who ever breathed – maybe the following will resonate.   It is understood in the highest halls of academia as well as the streets of Brooklyn.  You gotta work hard to ‘be’ who you wanna ‘be.’   Wake up.  Perceive. Feel. Live.

My Practice

My practice is grounded in client-centered education techniques.  That is not because I sought to duplicate them.  Instead, I recently came to learn that the way I coach and counsel toward recovery and graduation from Scientology was discovered and written about long before I was born.  Reading of it helped me to improve what I was already doing.  Carl Rogers covered this approach in his book, On Becoming a Person, explaining how educational techniques logically evolve out of client-centered therapy.

That I gravitated in this direction during my own recovery and graduation should be no surprise, given the authoritarian, religious discipline all Scientologists studied under for so many years.  The client-centered approach is tailored to consulting the understanding of the client or student.  In that regard, it radically differs from Hubbard’s training approach that was memorialized as follows:

If you can’t graduate them with their good sense appealed to and their wisdom shining, graduate them in such a state of shock they’ll have nightmares if they contemplate squirreling (defined as departing one iota from the letter of what is taught).  – L. Ron Hubbard, Keeping Scientology Working

That learning philosophy was explained further in Hubbard’s highest level instructions (Class VIII course) wherein he told the most advanced Scientologists that humanity was incapable of being appealed to through understanding; and so, instead, it was their duty to command people and make them ‘obey.’   (See Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior, Amazon Books 2012)

Irrespective of the fact that much of the technology such methods sought to impart was geared towards bringing a person to self-determined understandings, that system of indoctrination ultimately implants fixed, subjective ideas about living, God and ultimate spiritual concerns.  At the end of the day, the methods place a glass ceiling on growth (in fact create regression) by means of enforced belief that curiosity and thirst for continuing education inherently stem from aberration.

It may well be that I was also influenced in the client-centered approach through my own earlier education, some of which was influenced by, or was even attempting to experiment in, Roger’s educational recommendations.  The middle school I attended was a fail-pass (no grade), choice of curriculum, self-scheduling format with emphasis on consulting students’ interests.  I also attended a semester of similar organization at University of California Santa Cruz.  I never knew until I read Rogers where these ideas came from.  Perhaps my Scientology study contributed to this leaning too, since I have noted in the post On Becoming A Person, Scientology’s central practice (auditing) is a modified, structuralized form of Rogerian client-centered therapy.  No matter what led to which along this road, it is interesting to note how what gets around comes around.

Having studied all of Scientology and a great deal on the subjects that led to its development (including their continued evolution while Scientology has remained static), a simple, workable rule of thumb has materialized for me.  That is, the degree to which Scientology departs from its client-centered philosophical and technical roots is proportional to the degree it harms rather than helps.  This in large part has become evident to me in helping people who were disappointed with their Scientology experience over the past five years.  Almost to a one, somewhere along the line each individual’s intent and purpose for engaging in Scientology in the first place were tampered with, rejected and replaced entirely by imposed intents and purposes.

Somewhere along the line in the Scientology experience the magic of the technology – each of its efficacious results marked by its adherence to its client-centered philosophic roots – is replaced by inculcation of the client rather than consultation and service of his or her needs, wants, aspirations and purposes.  Those goals do, and ought to if a positive evolution of awareness and ability is being achieved, change along the road.   But evolution in Scientology is geared solely toward achievement of goals that do not involve the client’s participation in establishing, except to the extent means are employed to obtain the client’s agreement to pursue them.  The attainment of those implanted goals turns out to be purely subjective – no matter how clothed in science its claims and promises are presented.   An objective examination of the result of those who pursue the implanted goals to their ends – no matter how convincing its achievers may be in professing their alleged subjective feelings of happiness, power, ability and bliss of self-actualization – proves their actions often betray their vigorous assertions of equanimity.  For the most part they have turned their own self-determinism (the restoration of which is promised) over lock, stock and barrel to their teacher (See What Is Wrong With Scientology, Amazon Books 2012).  They will lie, steal, and cheat for their religion without a twinge of conscience – all while attempting to exude a vibrant, open, extroverted appearance. Thus, they cannot be trusted by ordinary mortals, not even by their mothers, fathers or even their children. In any values computation, their religion trumps conscience.  And thus the price of the ultimate ring in Scientology is the forfeiture of one’s conscience.

That result is patently evident from counseling a number of people who have completed much of, or all of, the Scientology route both inside and outside of Scientology.  To a one, of those who graduated and moved on, their departures from Scientology were occasioned by their consciences failing to succumb to Scientology demands that they be forfeited.  To a one, of the dozens I have counseled.  The top Scientology achievers who remain, who forfeit their consciences to achieve (or at least assert) the ultimate super human powers Scientology promises, are in the somewhat schizophrenic condition of apparently being as happy as hell but in fact having nowhere to go. The result is continued, slavish adherence to the goals and programs of an organization that – by the time it has ceased delivering client-centered techniques – offers no purpose beyond self-perpetuation and world dominance.  The resultant super-amped adherent’s course is described well by Abraham Maslow, as apparently a common result of many paths that lose sight of client-centered principles:

The better we know which ends we want, the easier it is for us to create truly efficient means to those ends.  If we are not clear about those ends, or deny there are any, then we are doomed to confusion of instruments.  We can’t speak about efficiency unless we know efficiency for what.  (I want to quote again the veritable symbol of our times, the test pilot who radioed back, ‘I’m lost, but I’m making record time.’)

Client-centered education begins with finding out where the interests and purposes of the student (client) lie.  One encourages open communication in that discovery process.  Viktor Frankl’s work Man’s Search For Meaning is helpful in that regard.  Knowing the individual before you proceed is essential in working to recover and strengthen that person’s determinism.  Omitting this step tends to usurp determinism.  One doesn’t rehabilitate and enhance the faculty of determinism by indoctrination that conflicts with the client’s interests and purposes.  For example, one does not force a student who is inspired by, inclined toward – and thus usually gifted in some way – the arts to become an arms manufacturing specialist.  Similarly, one would not attempt to enforce upon a person seeking spiritual awakening the behavior and habits of a para-military religious zealot.

A client-centered educator does not preach and teach as much as find out and only then guide. He puts more emphasis on assisting an individual in finding and following his own purposes and interests.  He then does what he can to help the person move along that chosen path with the best possible chances for success. He acts more as a facilitator than an instructor.  He operates more of a resources center than a rigid curriculum school.

I have been asked, and challenged, to publish the specific route I recommend several times.  I have tried to do that.  But, each time in the process I find myself thinking of particular individual whom I have assisted in the past and recognize that a given reference for that person would not be of interest or applicable to another individual I had worked with.  No two paths are exactly the same.   I have learned through life that to the extent one tries to convince you otherwise that person is trying to lead you to where he wants you to go – irrespective of how eloquently he might convincingly represent otherwise. To the extent one attempts to enforce one way for all, one deviates from the client-centered approach – and some other interest or evaluation is entered into the equation for someone to whom it may not apply or serve any salutary purpose.

There are a number of recommendations I have made in the recommended reading section of the blog that I find myself recommending over and over again to people.   For the most part those are applicable to the Scientology decompression and contextualization process, and lead toward freeing one from Scientology’s injunctions against exercise of conscience and awareness.  Most of them were chosen because of their effectiveness in expanding people’s intellectual and spiritual horizons after years or decades of having those horizons treated as forbidden terrain.

I am working on a book that will make many more recommendations for those seeking to move up the Scientology Bridge in an integral fashion (non-cult, integrated approach), and another for those seeking to move up from and beyond the Scientology Bridge.  In the meantime, I strongly recommend that those embarking on the Scientology path – whether in the church or out – read  What Is Wrong With Scientology?, before doing so.  It will help you avoid the pitfalls inherent in the system.

The Great Decompression

I borrowed, or coined by inspiration, from Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search For Meaning) the idea that decompression was the first and most important step in recovering from the Scientology experience with an upward trajectory.  Frankl – having himself survived years of imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps, and attempted to help others similarly situated upon release – noted that an adjustment period was critical for someone coming out of a strictly controlled environment to a relatively free society.  He likened it to a deep sea diver submerged for several hours far beneath the surface.  One must bring the diver back out from under the tremendous pressure he has adjusted to on a gradient basis or he will suffer from Decompression Sickness, also known as the bends. Similarly, if a person imprisoned – even mentally – in inhumane conditions, conditioned to think and act in super-compliant ways while developing all manner of deceitful (albeit as justifiable as they may be) means to survive, comes out acting like he owns earth he is going to be in for big, ugly and possibly devastating losses.

Over time I have exchanged observations with other counselors about a number of folks that we guided and assisted through the Scientology Underground Railroad – or Decompression Road.  One pattern we all have observed, and taken terrible losses on, is Scientologists entering the family of humanity with the exclusive, arrogant and judgmental attitudes they developed to survive in Scientology culture.  All of us have expended a great deal of resource and effort in helping to clean up messes such attitudes have created, and in getting people who exhibit those attitudes back on their paths after the inevitable smack downs society tends to deliver in response.   For those going through that process now, and who are discomforted absent orientation to L. Ron Hubbard references, everything I have noted thus far in this article is in complete accord with Scientology notions of the efficacy of tackling problems,development and life on a gradient scale; and even the ethics conditions formulas (see Non- Existence condition and formula).

One of the first posts on the Milestone 2/iscientology blog – created largely in protest of my books and this forum – was a piece attempting to discredit this idea of decompression as some psych-based attempt to belittle Operating Thetans and put people at introverted effect.  It reasoned that former Sea Org members and public OTs who bought into the idea they could use a tad of decompression as part of their gradient entry into the community of fellow human beings were victims of an attempt to put them at groveling effect of the psych-indoctrinated ‘wog’ world.  By God, the MS2ers proclaimed, we need to bring society up to our standards, Revenimus! (In keeping perhaps with the Class VIII indoctrination, ‘you are the people who own the planet’ – see Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior).  This mentality of wanting to cling to the inside is understandable (see e.g. the films  The Shawshank Redemption and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – I know you have all seen them, but watch them again with the Scientology experience in mind).

These thoughts arose when considering a general response to the many inquiries I have received lately asking me which of my three books ought to be read in what sequence.   That includes a lot of non-Scientologists asking what book might appeal to or help a Scientologist family member or friend. My answer is always a question, eliciting information on where the person is at on the decompression process.  When I know something about their circumstances I can recommend the single book that I think might help the person concerned.  They do not necessarily flow one to the next in the order they were written.  And all three of them aren’t for everybody necessarily.

So here is a short generalized guide to whom I believe the three books individually might appeal to, and hopefully help  –  in alignment to degrees of decompression already experienced by the concerned person.

The Scientology Reformation.

This book was written primarily with Scientologists still connected with the church in mind.  It is anchored upon L. Ron Hubbard references and attempts, on a gradient basis, to get a Scientologist to observe for himself or herself just how far adrift Scientology Inc has strayed from the intent and purposes memorialized (at least in some places) by its founder.  It introduces hope that one need not reject all of Scientology, in order to escape and even to take a stand against its abuses.

What Is Wrong With Scientology? Healing Through Understanding

This book would likely be dropped like a radioactive rock by the time a Scientologist in good standing read the first sentence of the introduction.   It is addressed more to people who are already out of the church, and for whom turning back is no option.  It is a detailed presentation and analysis of the features of Scientology that tend toward entrapment.   It describes in some detail the sum and substance of what Scientology’s effective processes are  in order to set the table for analyzing what is wrong with it and how it is ultimately used to entrap.   If one only mindlessly makes a break and declares a wholesale rejection of everything scientology, one tends to become as glued to it as ever, albeit from the opposition vector.  That is because he or she never took the time to understand and come to grips with what salutary aspects of it may have kept one pursuing it in the first place.  If one understands that, one can transcend the experience in a more desirable state than victimhood.

Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior

Because of the personal, autobiographical nature of this book and its consequent gradual, real time and subjective introduction to Scientology this can inform someone never involved in the subject with a perspective they will get nowhere else.  That is, what attracts and keeps one involved in the subject.   Popular books and films have been woefully two-dimensional and inaccurate in that regard.  They only focus on fear factors, which for those involved had next to zero effect in garnering their voluntary, self-determined involvement (the involvement that creates the most lasting effect on someone).  Many who have read it remarked that reading another’s real time experience of getting into, developing into a crusader for, and then transcending out of it prompted them to review their own experience more honestly, fully and rationally.  And that had a liberating effect upon them.

Memoirs is probably akin to a post-doctorate extension of the ‘what is wrong with Scientology’ analysis.  But not with a lot of opinion.  For the most part I let the facts do the talking.

While I still regularly use the term, and the model, of ‘decompression’ I am more often using it with a modifier to better describe what it is I am trying to accomplish: Decompression with an upward trajectory.

Link to all three books:

Mark Rathbun books on scientology



In imparting advice on how to find one’s meaning in life in Man’s Search For Meaning Viktor Frankl shares a lot of other gems of wisdom.  I came across the following passage when reviewing the book this weekend.  Having recently discussed the cathartic nature of witnessing one might want to consider the need for balance in that regard.


By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system.  I have termed this constitutive  characteristic “the self-transcendence of human existence.”  It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something, or someone, other than oneself — be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter.  The more one forgets himself to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself.  What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it.  In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transendence.