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.
Mark Rathbun books on scientology