Page 10 - May-June 2021 Edition of The 'X' Chronicles Newspaper
P. 10

10                                        Children of Scientology






           Children of Scientology:                      watching It’s a Wonderful Life. “I didn’t even says,     meaning      “stop    whining,    stop
                                                         know I could do that anymore,” he says. But it complaining.” She adds, “Jargon like that
          Life After Growing Up in                       gave him hope for the future.                    rewires the brain.”

                  an Alleged Cult                        Susan is nodding along with Rich’s story. “You Silverman thinks a lot about the power of

                                                         were dealing LSD?” she says. “I probably got words — especially after Gordon recruited her
                 (Continued from Page 9)                 my drugs from you.” She says took MDMA for       to gather people’s stories for Children of
                                                         years because it was the only time she felt Scientology’s new website. It’s now Silverman’s
                                                         connected to other people.  When she finally job to help people unearth years of silenced
                                                         went to therapy, she spent the first few days stories and emotions, with the hope that this will
                                                         crying, and the first few years figuring out what help them and also help others who are
        There’s a typed letter that, he explains, is from
                                                         a feeling was. “It was like flashcards,” she says. struggling outside of Scientology. Luckily,
        Hubbard himself, asking an 11-year-old
                                                         “What is this feeling? Is this anger?”           putting words to things is something that
        Anthony for his help with a vague but very
                                                                                                          Silverman knows a lot about. She was born into
        important project. “I don’t know many of you,”
                                                         Everyone is sharing their stories now, and the Scientology, and writing was her one refuge,
        he says to the group, “but I know about what you
                                                         more people talk about Scientology, the more even before she could read. “I would spend
        experienced, and you know what I experienced,
                                                         they talk in Scientologese, sentences stuffed hours at a desk just tracing letters I didn’t even
        so we know each other.  The group is great
                                                         with acronyms and corporate-sounding understand from the book to a page,” Silverman
        because there are so few of us out there.” He
                                                         inspirational phrases. However much they might says. “It was like a secret treasure map that
        starts to cry, and Gordon gives him a hug. “We
                                                         dislike Scientology, its jargon is their native you’d unlock it and get all this info.”
        get to have emotions now,” Anthony says. “And
                                                         tongue. Some even say it’s a relief to talk
        they’re really fucking important. It’s taken a
                                                         without code-switching, or worrying that they’re  And Silverman needed that map. As a kid, she
        while.”
                                                         talking gibberish.  There’s a reason why the struggled with mental health, and often had
                                                         language is so central to the belief system, and periods where she’d dissociate, leaving her brain
        Then it’s Nathan Rich’s turn. Serious, quiet and
                                                         so hard to shake. According to psychiatrist and and come back minutes or hours later, having
        lanky, he’s spent the past hour staring at the
                                                         thought-reform expert Robert Jay Lifton, new partially or completely forgotten what had
        ground. When he finally speaks, he tells us that
                                                         lexicons are common in cults — and often happened. She just knew that people thought she
        he was first shipped off to the Mace-Kingsley
                                                         essential. He calls the practice “loading the was bad, and she worried they were right.
        Ranch — a now-defunct, church-affiliated
                                                         language,” and includes it as one of eight core Scientology didn’t help. Whenever she got sad,
        organization for children run by two prominent
                                                         features of high-demand groups.  When the or “griefy,” she followed church protocol and
        Scientologists, which he describes as a reform
                                                         group breaks to smoke, I ask Shelton for a did Training Routines. According to the church,
        camp — when he was eight, where he says they
                                                         second opinion. Forget the question of the exercises are “drills” to improve
        paddled him for disobedience. (Leah Remini has
                                                         emotional repression for a second. If there are communication skills. In one, Silverman
        covered alleged abuses at Mace-Kingsley on her
                                                         words for these feelings already, why not use explains, two people are supposed to face each
        show, Scientology and the Aftermath, and Janet
                                                         them? “It makes us feel special and unique,” he other for hours without moving or reacting. In
        Reitman has described the camp’s culture of
                                                         jokes. “If we used regular English words, then another, she says, a person attempts to sit,
        hard labor in Rolling Stone. However, the
                                                         anyone could do this!” But he agrees with calmly, while their partner yells things at them to
        church claims that it was not in charge of ranch
                                                         Lifton’s idea of cult idioms as thought- make them react. According to Silverman, their
        operations and has “no knowledge” of the
                                                         terminating cliches. “It gets people thinking in purpose isn’t to create calm auditors or clear
        disciplinary practices there. Ranch co-founder
                                                         the cult leader’s system,” he says. “It literally communicators.  The goal of some  TRs is to
        Carol Kingsley disagrees with the idea that the
                                                         makes it harder to think outside the box.”       “exteriorize,” to have the soul leave the body
        ranch was a reform camp. In an email
                                                                                                          and watch it from the outside. “And what is
        responding to the allegations, Kingsley said the
                                                         Everyone is sharing their stories now, and the that?” she asks. “That’s dissociation.  That’s
        ranch was a school designed to help at-risk
                                                         more people talk about Scientology, the more building the muscle to dissociate at will.”
        teens, and did not condone corporal punishment.
                                                         they talk in Scientologese, sentences stuffed Silverman knows that she would have had
        She calls Rich’s allegations a “reflection of his
                                                         with acronyms and corporate-sounding mental-health issues regardless of her
        personal unhappiness” and a “desire to attack
                                                         inspirational phrases. However much they might upbringing, but she also believes that a good
        those who tried to help him.”)
                                                         dislike Scientology, its jargon is their native doctor would have helped. Since Scientology is
                                                         tongue. Some even say it’s a relief to talk opposed to psychiatry — viewing it as a cover
        Though drug use at the ranch was prohibited,
                                                         without code-switching, or worrying that they’re for “human-rights abuses,” and “an elaborate
        Rich says that’s where he got into drugs. After a
                                                         talking gibberish.  There’s a reason why the and deadly hoax,” according to a representative
        brief attempt to straighten out — a Scientology
                                                         language is so central to the belief system, and for the church — Silverman never got that good
        job, Scientology girlfriend, and Scientology
                                                         so hard to shake. According to psychiatrist and doctor. She now suffers with diagnosed D.I.D.,
        school in his spare time — he left home and
                                                         thought-reform expert Robert Jay Lifton, new or dissociative identity disorder, and says that
        lived on the streets, using and dealing drugs. At
                                                         lexicons are common in cults — and often when she comes back from an episode she is
        one point, early on, he called his mom, asking
                                                         essential. He calls the practice “loading the sometimes sitting up straight, hands on knees, in
        for forgiveness. He says she gave him a number
                                                         language,” and includes it as one of eight core the TR position.
        to call to re-enter the church and told him not to
                                                         features of high-demand groups.  When the
        call her again. It took Rich years of addiction
                                                         group breaks to smoke, I ask Shelton for a When Silverman tries to understand her life,
        and homelessness before he finally got sober
                                                         second opinion. Forget the question of there are huge holes missing. She compares
        and off the street. He’s been out of Scientology
                                                         emotional repression for a second. If there are herself to Claire Danes on Homeland, with her
        for nearly 20 years now, and though he was
                                                         words for these feelings already, why not use wall of clues and connected dots. “A lot of my
        interviewed on Leah Remini’s show, this is the
                                                         them? “It makes us feel special and unique,” he life I’ve been collecting pieces of information
        first time in decades he’s talked to people like
                                                         jokes. “If we used regular English words, then [about what happened to me],” she says. “But I
        him in an intimate setting.
                                                         anyone could do this!” But he agrees with don’t know how to connect the dots.” Honestly,
                                                         Lifton’s idea of cult idioms as thought- she tells me, she doesn’t know if she ever will.
        Rich currently lives in China, and he’s traveled
                                                         terminating cliches. “It gets people thinking in
        halfway across the globe to be here. Like so
                                                         the cult leader’s system,” he says. “It literally In the meantime, she’s trying make it, and she’s
        many others in the room, Rich wants a place
                                                         makes it harder to think outside the box.”       trying to help others make it, as well. That’s why
        where he can process what happened to him in
                                                                                                          she convinced her old ex-Scientology friend,
        Scientology, among people who understand him.
                                                         Dr. Matthews agrees, pointing out that many who we’ll call Abigail, to come to the retreat.
        And he knows firsthand how hard it is to learn to
                                                         high-demand groups have jargon around
        feel after a lifetime of emotional stoicism. He
                                                         emotional repression. Some fundamentalist                               (Continued on Page 11)
        tells the group about the first time he cried as an
                                                         Christian cults use the phrase “keep sweet,” she
        adult. It was late at night, he says, and he was
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