Scientology - A Question of Faith
"For scientologists, Hubbard's word is scripture. If Hubbard said it, then it is by definition true. And they have to believe it," explains Stephen Kent, a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta. He's considered one of the foremost experts on Scientology. But inside the church, he's considered an anti-religious extremist who has been paid to testify against the church in court.
Asked whether Scientology was a religion when it first started, Kent says, "Oh no. The title of the Dianetics book is very clear. 'Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health.'"
In Dianetics, Hubbard claims each person's mind is imprisoned by traumas we've experienced in our past. The way to break free is by undergoing an intense counseling process called "auditing," much of it while attached to the E-Meter. The goal is to attain an enlightened state, which Hubbard called "Clear."
"Clear involved claims about getting rid of those negative experiences that one's had in this life that hold one back," Kent explains.
Dunning, who went through the auditing process, says it made him feel good. "You became very euphoric."
Elli's experience was so positive that she joined the church. Soon she married another member, Don Perkins.
But from the start, Hubbard's methods were ridiculed by the medical establishment. One journal called Dianetics "a new system of quackery."
"In Hubbard's reaction to the generally negative response he became increasingly aggressive against psychiatry," Kent says.
Hubbard decided to transform the "modern science" of Dianetics into a new religion called "Scientology." And by the early 1970s, when Elli joined the church, Hubbard's hostility towards psychiatry had intensified.
"Hubbard wrote a policy in 1968 called 'The War,'" says Kent. "In this letter he announced that the purpose of Scientology had become the eradication of psychiatry."
The church referred 48 Hours to Scientologist Jan Eastgate, president of a Scientology founded group called the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights, dedicated to exposing psychiatric abuses. "I applaud L. Ron Hubbard, because he was the person who identified the abuses of psychiatry," Eastgate tells Van Sant.
"Psychiatry as a profession, as an ideology, doesn't work," Eastgate says.
"How would you describe anti-psychotic and psychotropic drugs that are used today in the practice of modern psychiatry?" Van Sant asks.
Says Eastgate, "Barbaric, inhumane, should never be used. You know, these are very dangerous drugs. We're totally opposed to any form of psychiatry."
"To become a Scientologist means that one learns that psychiatry is a cosmic devil that is causing mischief and confusion and crime in the world," Professor Kent explains.
When Van Sant asked if Eastgate believes psychiatrists are evil, she replied, "I think that there are a lot of psychiatrists that are evil."
And Dawn says Elli strongly believed that psychiatry was an evil.
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