My Road Out of Scientology

Discussion in 'Life After Scientology' started by mockingbird, Apr 12, 2019.

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  1. mockingbird

    mockingbird Silver Meritorious Patron

    I was in Scientology for twenty five years and was fortunate enough to get out. I got in around 1989 and out by about 2014. I have been out for about 5 years.


    One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how have I been able to reject Scientology indoctrination and become independent of the mindset so well. A lot of people who leave Scientology never recover or escape the hold Scientology has on their minds and lives.


    I was extremely fortunate to have a combination of factors come together that in my opinion made recovery possible and even supported. Several people in my life including my wife helped me in numerous ways.


    Jon Atack and Arnie Lerma also helped me. Both provided a lot of encouragement, advice and support. Arnie Lerma unfortunately is no longer with us but Jon Atack has continued to provide tremendous and unequaled support in encouragement and advice.


    Over the last five years one thing that I could point out that perhaps has been the most important factor in my efforts at recovery is my willingness to take on new information and to consider advice. I have taken advice from cult experts and people who have helped a lot of people to recover from Scientology. Some of the advice is predictable but some is unexpected. Some ideas and subjects are discouraged and invalidated in Scientology indoctrination.


    In Scientology recovery these things often help people to recover and if I wasn't willing to keep looking, consider ideas I long rejected, and consider ideas I had thought couldn't possibly be true I either wouldn't have thrown off the influence and negative effects from Scientology or would have done so much, much, much more slowly, if at all or with much more difficulty.


    I am not saying every idea I studied or source I looked at is correct or perfect, but they helped me to mental emancipation from the insidious and pernicious influence of Scientology.


    In getting out of Scientology I had to find the work of Jon Atack which I have written on before and started with his Scientology Mythbusting articles at the Underground Bunker blog. It is worth pointing out that for me with my personal experiences in Scientology and indoctrination finding the articles by Jon Atack was absolutely necessary as a first step to getting me the exact information I personally needed to open my mind and untangle enough from the lies and confusion from Scientology for any other information to have any chance at being accepted and beneficial. The initial information was like the exact right combination to unlock a lock. It didn't entirely free me but it did open my mind enough for other information to be considered.


    But I had to continue reading and added books. To really study some things you need to read books. I understand that Scientology indoctrination in my case took hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours in Scientology. Undoing that is not going to happen in minutes or a few hours. And it won't happen without work, time alone doesn't heal these wounds. Some people are out of Scientology for decades, make no effort to recover and do not get better.



    I am going to list several books I have read in my efforts to exit from Scientology and find a better or at least independent way of thinking for myself. This is not a perfect list or the best possible list, it is my list from what I ended up reading.



    I have broken down this list to topics and some overlap. Some are ones that not everyone will be interested in. If you absolutely see no use in something and cannot think it has any possible use skip it. Maybe it will be different for you later. Maybe not.


    It is really just a record of books I read in my journey out of Scientology, not the best possible list or one edited to be the most effective possible. It is an accounting of what I did, not what I should have done.


    So, if you are interested in some book or feel it is likely the right track for you take it as a suggestion for your consideration.


    I have created this list primarily for someone who is looking to recover from being in Scientology or another cult or someone interested in learning about cults. I have included topics that are not directly related as they have helped me to find possibilities outside the limited ideas presented in Scientology.


    If you have never had everything in your life defined and framed by the ideology of a totalist cult that defines every detail of life, existence and reality it may seem odd to you that someone would point out books on subjects unrelated to cults, recovery, critical thinking and related topics. But if you have ever been in such a group you can see why it can benefit a person to read books that are not in the cult doctrine.


    Just being able to consider ideas outside the cult is a huge step, an important step, for many cult members. The transition from only seeing ideas and sources as binary - either all correct and infallible or all wrong and automatically rejected , especially by association with either a recognized authority or association with a discredited source - is a profound shift in thinking. It is unfortunately a change many ex Scientologists and other ex cult members never make.


    Being able to look at ideas from multiple sources with different perspectives and selectively accept that the ideas may be correct, or incorrect or uncertain and that one source in one book can have some combination of correct, incorrect and uncertain ideas is the correct way to look at things but entirely foreign to cults.


    Understanding that, for example, one claim in a book doesn't automatically prove other claims that it doesn't rationally directly support is a difficult lesson to find if you are a cult member. And that one claim being incorrect doesn't automatically invalidate unrelated claims from the same book and source.


    I am going to include books on critical thinking for example because they directly combat cultic thinking and counter the negative effects of indoctrination. Some people who have never been in cults will feel the material in these books is interesting or beneficial or have their interest raised enough to read articles online. If you get interest in a topic or subject or even a term or a feeling you are confused by it or it might be beneficial or fill a gap in knowledge and want to see if it is right for you it is totally fine to look up online articles and videos and get a taste of it. If you want more then reading the book on it can be the way to go.






    Key
    Numbers indicate suggested order of reading in a subject 1 is first, 2 is second and so on.


    Letters indicate difficulty. E is for easy, M is for moderate, and H is for hard.



    Scientology


    A Piece of Blue Sky by Jon Atack


    Bare-faced Messiah by Russell Miller


    The Unbreakable Miss Lovely by Tony Ortega


    A Queer and Pleasant Danger by Kate Borstein


    Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill and Lisa Pulitzer


    Troublemaker by Leah Remini








    Cults and mass movements


    Opening Minds: The Secret World of Manipulation, Undue Influence and Brainwashing by Jon Atack


    The True Believer by Eric Hoffer


    Freedom of Mind by Steven Hassan


    Terror, Love and Brainwashing by Alexandra Stein


    Take Back Your Life by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias


    Traumatic Narcissism by Daniel Shaw


    Recovery From Cults edited by Michael Langone


    Cults In Our Midst by Margaret Singer


    Cults Inside Out by Rick Alan Ross


    White American Youth by Christian Picciolini

    The Rape of the Mind by Joost Merloo






    Psychology, Social Psychology and Neuroscience


    Sway by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman M


    Influence by Robert Cialdini 1 E


    Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson 2 E


    A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger 3 M


    Social Psychology for Dummies by Daniel Richardson M

    A Skeptic's Guide to the Mind by Robert Burton M

    On Being Certain by Robert Burton M


    A Mind So Rare by Merlin Douglas H

    The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt H


    The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg E


    The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout E


    Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow by Daniel Kahneman H


    Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow 4 E


    The Influential Mind by Tali Sharot M


    The Crowd by Gustave Le Bon M


    Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely M


    Behave by Robert Sapolsky H


    How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker H


    Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Travis and Elliot Aronson M


    The Brain by David Eagleman E





    Hypnosis


    Trances People Live by Stephen Wolinsky and Margaret O. Ryan
    1 H
    Hypnotism Comes of Age by Bernard Wolfe and Raymond Rosenthal 2 E






    Politics


    Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank


    Lies, Incorporated by Ari Rabin-Havt and Media Matters


    The Fox Effect by Ari Rabin-Havt


    Don't Think of an Elephant! by George Lakoff


    A Colony In A Nation by Chris Hayes


    Democracy Incorporated by Sheldon Wolin


    The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander


    Our Political Nature by Avi Tuschman


    No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein

    The Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker

    Moral Politics by George Lakoff


    How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley


    Critical Thinking


    On Liberty by John Stuart Mill 1 E


    Critical Thinking by Richard Paul and Linda Elder 2 M


    How to Become a Really Good Pain in The Ass by Christopher DiCarlo 3 M


    Intelligent Disobedience by Ira Chaleff 4 E


    Warnings by Richard A. Clarke and R.P. Eddy 5 E


    Okay, this is a big list. I am going to give some advice on the best order to read some of these books and my reasoning.


    The book On Liberty by John Stuart Mill is probably the first book I recommend to anyone who is looking to understand anything or how to learn or be a good student. It is extremely short at around a hundred pages and very easy to read and understand.


    For anyone looking to understand persuasion a simple order has been established. We have Influence by Robert Cialdini first, incredibly easy to read and understand and a great introduction to the subject. Second is Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson, still easy to read and understand. Third I place A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger. It is moderate to tough difficulty.


    I know it can be really tough, but there is a way to lower your its difficulty to moderate - it has lots of studies that are described in fine details. If a study has inconclusive or uncertain results I just try to understand the initial experiment and that this study was inconclusive, that's it. Don't get caught up in trying to memorize every detail of inconclusive experiments. I must emphasize that this book and theory is crucial in my opinion for understanding cults, psychology and human behavior. Cognitive dissonance theory is a subject and well researched. It is far more than a definition or paragraph and this book gives you the barebones minimum to have an educated opinion on the subject. Fourth I recommend Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow. It is easy to read, not too long and gives a great introduction to a lot of information from neuroscience and psychology. Probably as easy a book as you can find on these topics. Do not be reluctant to read it.


    Further reading should go by your interest in this topic.


    It would probably be best if possible for someone to read the first three recommendations from the critical thinking category before anything else, being first On Liberty by John Stuart Mill, second Critical Thinking by Richard Paul and Linda Elder, then third How to Become a Really Good Pain in The Ass by Christopher DiCarlo before reading anything else as they give a foundation for approaching everything else. That may be the most important general information I can give regarding this list. Critical Thinking, like cognitive dissonance theory is a subject and takes a good amount of study and a tremendous amount of effort to utilize. Frankly most people read a description or definition for critical thinking or a few paragraphs, assume they personally already are a great natural critical thinker, then reject the subject and arrogantly leave it forever more. This is in part because of the bias blindspot - it is almost impossible to recognize bias and errors in one's own thinking as they are hidden but extremely easy to see them in other people. This combined with naive realism - the tendency we normally have to see our own knowledge and thinking as unbiased, objective and error free - leads to most people just going , "I understand what critical thinking is - it's what I do and others need to learn." But everyone assuming this leads to no one learning it. It is extremely hard and takes going against intuition and natural impulses to even study it.


    I am going to take a different approach with books on cults, because the needs and interests vary so greatly.


    The simplest first book that is extremely easy to read is Freedom of Mind by Steven Hassan. Very, very easy to read and understand. Great for someone just leaving a cult or without much education. The book next in ease of reading has a step up in how much it digs into the psychology of cults but uses very easy language and descriptions that are vivid and thorough. If you were in a cult what happened is explained well and if you were never in a cult you can understand it very well in my opinion from reading this book, Cults In Our Midst by Margaret Singer, it's a classic.


    What to read really is prioritized by what you want, how deeply you want to get and your needs.


    I absolutely recommend Terror, Love and Brainwashing by Alexandra Stein for everyone who wants to understand the emotional and mental effects being in a cult causes, why cult members cannot understand things they should understand and why they act the way they do. It tackles attachment theory from psychology and hard brain science in a way nothing else does and digs into the methods cults are hard around in a unique model combining information from Hannah Arendt on totalitarianism with other relevant work rarely considered regarding cults. Traumatic Narcissism by Daniel Shaw has a lot to compliment this with information from other fields.


    To further flesh out the similarities between cults and abusive relationships Take Back Your Life by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias is superb.


    Two books really are indispensable for the serious student of cultic studies. They are not the easier books to get through but for good reasons - they are both jam packed with crucial information on cults.


    Opening Minds: The Secret World of Manipulation, Undue Influence and Brainwashing by Jon Atack is a well rounded examination of influence. Cults Inside Out by Rick Alan Ross has a terrific overview of cults and the best description of materials on cults I have ever seen. It can be the basis of a complete curriculum on cults with all the references it describes. Both get my highest possible recommendation.


    Regarding Scientology we have two kinds of books, very personal memoirs that describe specific lives of specific people in Troublemaker, A Queer And Pleasant Danger and Beyond Belief.


    In contrast we have three books that take on the history of both Scientology and Ron Hubbard himself, A Piece of Blue Sky , The Unbreakable Miss Lovely and Bare-faced Messiah each describe much of the history of Scientology.


    Each is well worth the effort in my opinion. Scientology watchers watchers in my opinion cannot go wrong with A Piece Of Blue Sky by Jon Atack. Possibly the best researched history of Scientology ever written.


    A few of these books are frankly much more difficult than the rest.


    Both books by Steven Pinker are very tough.


    Behave by Robert Sapolsky is brutally hard in places because he dives deep into neuroscience, hormones, genetics, primatology , neuroendocrinology and more. But it is extremely thorough and connects the dots on how behavior is influenced by neurotransmitters, hormones, education, genetics, abuse, poverty and more. Despite the challenge I must recommend it highly.


    I have written several blog posts and series on several of the books listed.


    The series How Cults Work is on the book Terror, Love and Brainwashing by Alexandra Stein



    https://mbnest.blogspot.com...

    Regarding the Critical Thinking model described by Richard Paul and Linda Elder I put out these blog posts:


    Scientology versus Critical Thinking - Extreme Contrasts
    https://mbnest.blogspot.com...



    Cornerstones of Critical Thinking
    https://mbnest.blogspot.com...

    Regarding the book Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow I put out the Alternatives to Scientology Subliminal series


    https://mbnest.blogspot.com...

    Regarding The Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson I put out Scientology and the Age of Propaganda


    https://mbnest.blogspot.com...

    Regarding A Theory Of Cognitive Dissonance by Leon Festinger I put out Scientology and Cognitive Dissonance Theory

    https://mbnest.blogspot.com...

    Regarding the book Freedom of Mind by Steven Hassan I put out Scientology Viewed Through The BITE Model By Steven Hassan

    https://mbnest.blogspot.com...

    I have an excerpt with Doctor Robert Jay Lifton's Criteria For Thought Reform

    https://mbnest.blogspot.com...

    Okay.

    This is just books and I read lots of articles and watched many videos as well. But the point of ALL this being written up here is so anyone looking to understand my road out of Scientology or to start or continue their own can look at what someone else has done.

    People who were never in cults, abusive relationships or totalitarian groups may still want to look at some of these books or subjects too.

    I wanted to leave as clear an answer as possible in case anyone wants to know, even after I am long gone.
     
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  2. Miss Ellie

    Miss Ellie Miss Ellie

    Do not forget the best book on philosophy - Winnie The Pooh

    "Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day." — Winnie the Pooh

    Recovery may take awhile... but we will all get there.
     
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  3. EZ Linus

    EZ Linus Cleared Tomato

    Wonderful post. I wholeheartedly agree and followed almost the same path exactly--meaning I've read almost every text you posted, but I don't know what order you read it in. You got out in 2014 which had a very different landscape, but luckily, Piece of Blue Sky was free on the Internet to read even in 2000 and was one of the first books I read when I left after 20 years. It truly helped me to shake off the cult think and was probably a crucial building block to my education and freedom. I love that you put all this research together into one post! Thank you!
     
  4. DagwoodGum

    DagwoodGum No clam ID persists in post Axis of Exes orbit

    One can engage in all manor of convoluted figure figure as a way out of the Scientology mindset, as opposed to the cult itself, but I've found that what works for me is to trace the key elements of Scientology back to their original sources.
    The people he stole the ideas from.
    Such as Gordon Bell coming up with the grades, John McMaster the power processes, the couple who came up with the study tech, Mayo's stuff on NOTS etc., all stolen by Hubbard.
    Once one knows that one loses any sense of association between Scientology and the shit Hubbard laid claim to.
    At some point Hubbard ceases to be a factor in any universal truth, whether learned initially through Scientology, or not.
    Then the Scientology mindset ceases to have teeth and one sees it for what it is, stolen, misapplied information.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
  5. EZ Linus

    EZ Linus Cleared Tomato

    Hi Dagwood. This is also a great point because this was also a big part of it for me. I needed to know where and who Hubbard stole from in order to move past much of my fixations that he "knew all," or had some powerful all-knowing knowledge that no one else had access to. Analytically, I knew he didn't, but my brainwashed side was still set in that mode until I found each and every theory he stole from someone else. I needed to make sure he studied it and incorporated it as his own or I wouldn't be satisfied, and it proved to be much easier than I ever thought. Not a small amount of work, but still not impossible to do.

    Eventually, you don't need to know every single variable because much of it is common sense that (if you lived your formative years in Scientology) you would eventually learn much of the "good" things that are taught in Scientology as you grow up anyway, like knowing your right from wrong, do onto others, take a shower, etc. Hubbard didn't invent how light works through a prism or what happens when two things are in the same place at the same time. So you are right about getting these things cleared up so that it ceases to have that same power and hold one in place. You don't have t be a hostage to that mindset anymore.

    I'm answering on this thread because Mockingbird posted the same message in a new thread, but there are already replies on this one. Hope that's okay.
     
  6. I told you I was trouble

    I told you I was trouble Suspended animation


    @mockingbird ... once a scientologist realises that there are no clears or OT's (not a single, solitary one) then the only thing a sane person with an ounce of intelligence and self respect can do is to also accept that scientology is a con with nothing at all to offer that can't be found elsewhere (and without the nastiness and expense of the cult) and flick it all as far as possible out of their life. That can take time depending on the individuals circumstances and ability to process what happened and I understand that.

    But ... once done, what is so difficult about just accepting that you were deceived, learning from it and moving on in whatever way works for you without the need to constantly try and 'educate' others into believing what you (currently) believe ... very much as a scientologist does?


    :groan:

    That book list is ridiculous ... if you want to post about your reading materials why not take one book at a time and post a proper review on it and then respond to any questions or comments? That might be genuinely helpful to someone newly out of the cult.

     
  7. JustSheila

    JustSheila Crusader

    My Road Out of Figure Figure:

    :hmm:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    :happydance:
     
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  8. I told you I was trouble

    I told you I was trouble Suspended animation

    My road out of scientology.

    1. Realised there are no clears or OT's and (based on that alone) accepted that scientology was unnecessary (and a complete con job), left as soon as I could after spending many years under the radar for family reasons ... that step was very, very hard to do because by nature I'm honest and open about my true thoughts and I felt trapped ... because I was.


    2. Accepted that I was a complete and utter twerp for getting sucked into a cult in the first place but managed to quickly justify that by reminding myself that I had been very young at the time (17) ... laughed (at myself) until I felt better, then quietly cringed every now and again and decided to never be so foolish again and that thinking for myself was probably the best way to go in the future (lol) ... which automatically meant ignoring or disagreeing with any opinionated know alls/wannabe gurus (ie people acting exactly like scientologists) who were trying to 'help' me or others to de-cult their way (or worse, trying to recruit for their own cults).

    :stfu:

    That step was very easy and produced an instant feeling of freedom and happiness which I have retained ever since.

    3. Joined ESMB (the day after I decided I could finally leave the cult openly) ... and gradually started to normalise by laughing constantly at something other posters had said, suggested or implied, disagreeing now and again, posting my own thoughts and occasionally feeling extreme sadness (usually for people who had not joined the cult willingly but were dragged into it by their parents, that upsets me to this day and always will).

    4. Over the years I read a few books written by people who had walked the same road (ex-scientologists) and have made some beautiful, intelligent friends (here) who are filled with compassion, warmth and humour.
     
  9. NoIdea

    NoIdea Patron with Honors

    I was in for 17 years. When I left, I really only planned to leave staff. I was trying to route out properly, but it was dragging out so long I just stopped showing up. I was sure someone was going to show up at my door and drag me back in. Or that I'd be declared for blowing. What happened was after about a month or so being gone, I wound up on the event call in list. So I went to the event. That's all I wanted at first, just to be a public Scientologist after 17 years of being on staff. Over the next few months I went in and helped out a couple of times on some stuff that I was trained for that nobody else was. Managed to go in and help and get out without getting regged. It was ok. I mean, all my friends were there. I missed them. It was nice seeing people again, though a little awkward.

    Then I realized that since leaving, my life was going really good. Things just kept getting better and better. My initial intention was to get some stuff handled and then go back and do some courses, maybe start going up the Bridge. But I realized I was putting it off because everything that I would have wanted to get out of doing courses or auditing, I was getting just by NOT BEING IN THE ORG.

    One thing I read that turned a light on for me was Underground by Haruki Murakami. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_(Murakami_book) . It's a collection of interviews with the victims and the cult members who carried out the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway. I was not reading it because it had anything to do with cults, I was just a big fan of the author and was working through all his books. The interviews with the cult members ... I don't know... something just clicked for me there when reading them. It was along the lines of "these people had the same sense of certainty about their religion as Scientologists do." I can't say for sure why that changed things for me. I guess I had always thought that the personal feeling of certainty was "proof" that Scientology was real or something. How could you feel that strongly about something that was a scam. And yet, these people did. And that shook something in me. After I read that, I knew I was done with Scientology.

    Still, I didn't burn any bridges. I didn't partake in anything anti-Scientology at all for a few more years. Didn't read anything, check any forums, seek out any other exes, etc. Just lived my life and completely enjoyed it. It was probably a good 5 years after I was out that I wound up here somehow or other (under another account than my current one). Read Blue Sky and Barefaced. At that point, nothing in those books particularly shocked me. But I didn't feel the need to read any more books. Saw some links to some OT material. I have to admit, I was actually a little bit nervous reading them the first time, even 5 years out and completely out. But that was over a decade ago and my head hasn't exploded or anything. :)

    I stop by here once in a while, but to be honest, I don't feel a lot of connection with anyone here. A lot of people are still very hung up about Scientology. I'm not. A lot of people are still searching for... I don't know, a replacement for Scientology, other religions and practices, etc. More than a little mystical, alternative, anti-science, conspiracy theory stuff going on. People seem to still want to be "three feet behind society's head". Not me. Got my fill of that. I've looked into this or that, but something always winds up ringing too many alarm bells before I get too deep.

    But to each their own. You do you, as the kids say these days.
     
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