What's new

Summary of Maria Pia Gardini's New Book


Patron Meritorious
Il coraggio di parlare (The Courage to Speak Out), edited by Maria Pia Gardini. Introduction by journalist Alberto Laggia. 168 pages. Paoline Editoriale Libri, Milan, 2009.


The chapter summaries below are intended to give an idea of what Maria Pia Gardini's new book is about. Of course, they are no substitute for the book itself.

The book was published, in Italian only, early in December 2009 and it contains the stories of 14 ex-Scientologists, 10 of whom are Italian:
(1) Bryce
(2) Ildiko Bajnoczi (The Cat Lady)
(3) Dino Michieletto
(4) Andrea G.
(5) Giuliana Costantini
(6) Enrico Costantini
(7) Giusi de Martin Roder
(8) Giacomo Sotgia
(9) Astra Woodcraft
(10) Franco
(11) Paola
(12) Ernesto Menta
(13) Tory Christman Bezazian
(14) Lawrence Woodcraft

Chapters 9, 13, and 14 are based on sources written in English and they are not summarized here. For these chapters, a link to the source is provided.

The stories in the book are a combination of first and third person narrative. The summaries below are a mix of translations and paraphrasing, all written in the third person. As usual when summarizing, the choice of what to keep and what to omit was not always easy. I am not a professional writer. All errors and defects in these summaries are mine.

This information has been cross-posted to WWP:

Chapter 1. Bryce

Former org staff member Bryce (a pseudonym) does not feel ready to tell his story, but he explains instead why deciding to leave is extremely difficult for a person who has spent many years in Scientology.

Bryce, who hails from the Piedmont region of Italy, bases his reflections on his own experience and on his discussions with other ex-Scientologists. The pattern Bryce has observed is that people find Scientology stimulating at first but slowly discover that it relentlessly demands more money, time, and sacrifice in return for a diminishing benefit. Most followers then begin to have doubts, but why don't they just leave?

Some attribute their doubts to being "out-ethics", to having gone past a misunderstood word, or to a need for more auditing. Self-doubt is reinforced by the fact that other followers don't seem to have the same problems. The greatest obstacle is fear of what other people will think. Persons who have spent years in Scientology, especially on staff, may have disconnected from all non-Scientologist family members and friends, and they know from experience that Scientology openly denigrates those who leave. Those who do have connections to family and friends face the embarrassment of admitting that their commitment to Scientology was a blunder. Some ex-Scientologists may feel that they've wasted years of their life. Some will have to face the outside world without an education or with a blank job resumé.

Leaving takes courage. Bryce says, "I don't believe that the experiences related in this book can open the eyes of a Scientologist who is happy. However, what these stories can do is to lend courage to those who have doubts but cannot yet bring themselves to leave. They can inform parents and family members about what it is really like to be in the strange group which their relative has joined and about what this person is going through."

Scientology is designed to minimize the probability of defections, but the resources available on the Internet today enable followers to know that others have also encountered problems.

When Bryce left Scientology, he had no friends, no job, no home. Scientology had for long been his sole occupation. He felt empty, exhausted, and discouraged, but he found pleasure in the small things of everyday life, he reconnected with old friends, and he became free to have his own opinions. Bryce hopes that all Scientologists who suffer in doubt will find the courage to leave and enjoy the beauty of life.

Chapter 2. Ildiko Bajnoczi (The Cat Lady)

Ildiko Bajnoczi was raised in Hungary. She moved to Italy to work as a nurse in the early 1970s. She lost her mother during her childhood years and grew up suffering from anxiety, phobias, and occasional panic attacks. Ildiko has always had a passion for saving stray cats, caring for them, and keeping them in her apartment.

In Milan in 1982, Ildiko heard a Scientologist explaining Dianetics on a television program and she became curious about whether Dianetics could help cure her anxiety. She bought auditing intensives that relieved her suffering and she went on to become Clear. The positive feeling she experienced when she attested to Clear gradually wore off. The Milan org sold her the OT levels, promising that she would be transformed.

Ildiko went to Copenhagen for OT1 to OT5. During this time, the tires of her car were slashed, she received anonymous threatening telephone calls, and she suffered anxiety attacks. After reaching OT5, Ildiko was ill for 15 days with a high fever. She rationalized her problems as due to a restimulation of her reactive mind. She refrained from showing her fragility because an OT is always supposed to appear secure and positive.

In 1989, Ildiko attested to OT8 on the Freewinds. Shortly after returning to Italy, Ildiko again experienced disquieting symptoms. The Scientology staff concluded that an earlier level had not been properly completed and Ildiko had to redo OT7 3 times, the third time 9 years after OT8.

Ildiko diligently went to Flag every year for the annual checking. She bought and did the L's, but her anxiety did not go away. She also had problems with her second husband, whom she had met at the Milan org.

By 1998, Ildiko had spent approximately $100,000 and was exhausted, both physically and in spirit. She blamed herself instead of her so-called religion for her failure to get better. She nevertheless decided to stay with Scientology and went to Macerata, where a Scientology mission had opened.

Ildiko loved her husband, but the marriage was in crisis because of personality differences. She opted for the Scientology marriage assist, but the situation only worsened.

In 1998, Ildiko was 45 and she was going from doctor to doctor seeking relief from stress and from coronary problems. It did not escape her notice that some of the OT's she knew were dying at a relatively young age from cancer, from heart attacks, and by suicide. But she still clung to Scientology.

In 2003, Ildiko decided to go to Flag one last time. Her only attachment to Italy was the 26 cats in her apartment. Francesca, a Scientologist at the Macerata mission, was to take care of them during Ildiko's 2-week absence.

One day before Ildiko's departure for Flag, she was told instead to go to a new advanced org at Saint Hill. After arriving, Ildiko discovered that an ethics report had been written about her. The report said that Ildiko's passion for cats was distracting her from what should be her most important task: working for Scientology. Ildiko was pressured into signing a contract to join staff and she agreed to start "Product Zero" basic Sea Org training, on the condition that she be allowed to return to Italy. Three days before her departure, her husband suddenly flew over to Saint Hill to tell a shocked Ildiko that he had abandoned her 26 cats in the countryside and had emptied her apartment. Ildiko was told that she would only be allowed to return if she signed a document stating that she would not take any legal action. Desperate to go home, she signed it.

The story of Ildiko's missing cats was reported by local newspapers and television, but her cats could not be found. Ildiko was threatened with expulsion from Scientology if she continued to speak to the media. She had always complied with Scientology in the past, but not this time. Ildiko assembled a new cat colony in her home and founded an association for the protection of stray cats.

Ildiko Bajnoczi sought psychiatric care, but she continues to suffer from anxiety attacks and nightmares. At age 50, with no more money to give, she was abandoned by Scientology like the stray cats she lovingly saves.

Chapter 3. Dino Michieletto

In the early 1980's, Dino Michieletto's eldest daughter became interested in the Scientology org in Padua because it offered a chance to improve her English. The youthful and informal atmosphere soon attracted his second daughter as well. They initially went to the org 2 afternoons per week, but the time they spent at the org increased continually and it wasn't just to practice English. Their behavior seemed strange. Drawn in by the enthusiasm of the 2 daughters, Dino's wife Gabrielle started going with them. At home, Dino would see Gabrielle and the daughters pair off and sit for hours, almost daily. Dino tried telling them "Enough!" but they reacted so strongly that he had to back down. Finally, his young son joined in.

To save his family's unity, Dino tried Dianetics for himself. He took the purification rundown, some courses, and some auditing, as Gabrielle and his daughters had done. Dino found auditing pleasant, but it didn't have any benefit for him in the world outside the org, where he ran a mechanical construction company in the Venetian inland. Dino became increasingly perplexed by the precepts of Hubbard's church and concerned by the rising cost of the courses.

Three years after all this began, Dino completely withdrew from Scientology, but Gabrielle and the 3 children continued to believe in it blindly. What happened next is the classic Scientology disconnection scenario. In one fell swoop, Dino lost his wife and his 3 children, because it was forbidden for them to be in contact with a person opposed to Scientology.

In 1991, when the Venice Court recognized the dissolution of the marriage, the ruling declared "the behavior of the wife" and "the reaction of the husband" as the cause of separation. The ruling said that Gabrielle had become "part of the Dianetics association" and "placed her activity there above all else, including the family." Her behavior was judged as "the effect of active circumvention by the Scientology staff."

After the divorce, Dino spoke out against Scientology in many interviews with journalists. Dino founded ARIS, which can be translated as "Association for Research and Information on Sects."

Gabrielle died of breast cancer in 1997 at the age of 55. The funeral was only attended by the children and by persons involved in Dianetics; no one else was notified. Dino learned of Gabrielle's death by chance two months later when a neighbor offered him her condolences.

Chapter 4. Andrea G.

When Andrea G. was 11, his parents enrolled him in his first Scientology course at the Pordenone org, where his mother was on staff. Being a cheerful and lively child, Andrea found it tedious, but he learned that writing a glowing success story was key to avoid problems and prevent having to redo the course.

At the age of 15, Andrea was sent to Copenhagen for another course that lasted 2 months. For 2 weeks, Andrea was kept in a room for 3 or 4 hours daily and he was talked into signing the billion-year Sea Org contract. Andrea had been attending an art school for less than a year, but he was pressured to drop out, because, as he was told, going to school is selfish, and he should be helping the planet by working for Scientology. He then went through the "Product Zero" basic Sea Org training, which involved many hours of hard manual labor. Andrea was in a group of 15 males who slept in a cramped room containing 4 4-storey bunk beds. There was no hot water and there were times when Andrea was filthy after working hard, but couldn't wash himself or his clothes. When conditions were good, the food consisted of beans and rice; otherwise, the menu was rice, dark bread, and margarine. The meals were sometimes so bad that Andrea would go to bed without eating supper. Andrea's mother was aware of this, but all she had to say was that these things happen.

Andrea was then sent to Flag, supposedly to train as an auditor, but because he was a minor, he ended up performing menial tasks for auditors. There were 3 daily musters and this made Andrea wonder what Scientology really was and why a church would adopt such a military style. Andrea was paid $30 a week when Flag had weekly revenues of 3.5 million dollars or more, and he received nothing when revenues fell to a million. Andrea was also struck by the fact that certain Scientologists had privileges which others did not. A minor not accompanied by parents should have been entitled to a guardian, but Andrea was left to himself. Andrea was sometimes so hungry that he stole food; when he confessed, he was punished and subjected to humiliation. The building in which he slept was infested with cockroaches. There was no end in sight to Andrea's nightmare.

Andrea was 16 when he had to return to Italy to renew his visa. He found the courage to tell his mother and the organization that he wanted nothing to do with Flag. Once again, Andrea's mother had a different opinion and she persuaded him to go to the Milan org.

In Milan, they shouted in his face that he was a selfish rebel and had to be corrected. Andrea performed hard labor and endured the humiliation of cleaning floors, all "for his own good." Andrea was persuaded to return to America to become an auditor, but in reality he was stifling his true feelings for fear of punishment.

Andrea was sent to Los Angeles for a one-year course. His pay was a training rate of $15 per week. During this time, Andrea was denied permission to return to Italy for the funeral of his grandfather, to whom he had a profound attachment. Instead, Andrea was punished, because his superiors said he wanted to flee.

After completing the one-year course, Andrea briefly went to Copenhagen and met his future wife. Andrea got married in Florida at the age of 17. One year later, his wife was persuaded to go to Italy for a mission that was supposed to last a few weeks but actually lasted an entire year. Andrea could only contact his wife by telephone and the organization denied all his requests to visit her. Whenever he grew insistent, he was sent to ethics.

Andrea was promoted to the post of ethics officer for staff. Whenever a woman fell pregnant, he advised her to abort, because the organization considered children a waste of time and energy. Andrea also advised more than one couple to separate.

The conflict between Andrea's feelings and his obligations became dramatic, but Andrea was afraid, because all of his friends, his parents, and his brother had become Sea Org members. If Andrea had left, he would have found himself completely alone.

Andrea became the assistant of the highest official in his organization, but any initiative on his part was discouraged and repressed. The young Italian Scientologist continued to ask himself how this could possibly be connected with Scientology's universal mission to free the mind from all conditioning.

Andrea had to watch over a Scientologist who was confined to a room because of psychiatric problems, preparing her meals, reporting her behavior, preventing her from escaping. He was forbidden from talking to her, but he decided to try in the hope of helping her. When he told his superiors about this, he was punished.

Andrea was married for 5 years and, aside from a brief honeymoon, he and his wife spent a total of about 10 days together. Andrea's wife was perpetually being sent overseas. Andrea was suffering psychologically because of her absence and he told his superiors, to no avail. Andrea entered into a relationship with a public Scientologist, but this is forbidden and he was condemned to the Rehabilitation Project Force, performing hard and risky construction work under a hot August sun. Andrea could not communicate with anyone and had to endure extremely rigid conditions for one year and a half. When Andrea's wife returned, she demanded a divorce. Andrea was 24 years old and his world crumbled to pieces. He wept continually and no longer spoke with anyone. Deep depression set in. Andrea was confined to a room for a week, under surveillance, sleeping on the floor, unable to speak to anyone.

Finally, he was forced to pack his suitcases and he was dumped in the middle of a street with no money and no place to go. Andrea's father had left staff for health reasons and, though he was not wealthy, he managed to pay for Andrea's air fare to Italy and took him in.

Andrea was declared a suppressive person and all Scientologist friends and relatives in Pordenone were warned to avoid him. Andrea's father stood by him.

Andrea spent 15 years in Scientology and he was psychologically ruined, destitute, uneducated, and without any experience of the real world.

It took Andrea many years to get better. He was helped by psychologists, by a priest, by his grandmother, and by an uncle. He has not yet succeeded in achieving a serious relationship with a woman and he still has nightmares. Andrea is now 38 years old and he is a contractor in North-East Italy. Andrea has not heard from his mother or his brother since 1995.

Chapter 5. Giuliana Costantini

Note: Giuliana's son Enrico is the subject of Chapter 6.

In 1988, Giuliana Costantini's son Enrico had a serious heroin addiction that various therapies had failed to remedy. Prompted by a flyer her sister found in Pescara, Giuliana called Narconon and learned that it had no waiting list and promised success without methadone through detoxifying saunas supervised by a doctor and through vitamins, food supplements, and a diet rich in fruits. Why not try?

Giuliana and Enrico visited the Narconon center in Teramo. Giuliana did not dwell much on the fact that the treatment was expensive and had to be paid in full in advance, because she was glad that Enrico had been admitted and was off the streets. When Giuliana returned to Narconon a month later to see Enrico's progress, she found him with a sparkle in his eyes, smiling, and brimming with things to tell her.

After taking 2 courses, Enrico decided to study Dianetics and go up the "bridge." Enrico wanted to dedicate himself to Narconon and he became excellent at convincing the parents of addicts to pay for Narconon courses. Enrico soon went to Copenhagen for his first stay at an advanced organization. As Enrico became more indoctrinated, he and Giuliana got into arguments and he once blurted out that he would have to disconnect from her if she is against Scientology. Enrico returned to Copenhagen and attested to Clear.

After spending some time at the Rome org, Enrico invited his mother to join him for another trip to take courses in Copenhagen. Giuliana paid for all of Enrico's courses and, before the ink on her check was dry, the registrar started insisting that she too should become a Scientologist to understand and help her son. She was finally persuaded to take the purification rundown, which promised to eliminate toxins from her body and remove the barriers to mental and spiritual development. When it was over, Giuliana did not see the expected results and she in fact felt worse. At that time, she began to experience intense pain in her left knee. The long sauna sessions were not supervised by a doctor and there were no guidelines for the amounts of salt and potassium to ingest. Giuliana did feel ill on one occasion and Enrico came to her rescue. She was referred to an auditor, who determined that Giuliana's reaction was due to a problem with her past lives; the incident was declared closed. The only positive point Giuliana could see in this costly trip was that her son was once again the caring person she had known in the past.

Giuliana returned to Italy. Enrico remained in Copenhagen and, a few months later, he relapsed into taking heroin. The solution appeared to be for Enrico to redo the Narconon program in Calabria. After less than a month, he begged his mother to come take him out immediately. Enrico was crushed by guilt, because it was an offense worse than treason for a Clear to experience a drug relapse. An offer of help promptly appeared, as this was yet another opportunity to sell Enrico Scientology services, this time at Flag in Clearwater, Florida. Giuliana accompanied Enrico and took courses. By the time they returned to Italy, Enrico seemed to have recovered.

Giuliana ignored the mail she continued to receive from Scientology, but the concepts planted in her mind during her Scientology training and auditing came back when she developed a serious form of connective tissue disorder that doctors were unable to diagnose. She remembered that, according to Scientology, all illness is caused by a PTS (Potential Trouble Source) condition. Enrico suggested that he and Giuliana take a cruise on the Freewinds, during which she was persuaded to return to Flag for 3 months of courses. Back in Italy, Enrico was promoting Scientology full time and he convinced Giuliana to go study at the Milan org. Giuliana sank into a mindset in which the only hope of salvation was Scientology and she shared responsibility for all the evils in the world. Her friends and former colleagues were mystified by her behavior and stopped contacting her, but she blamed herself and her transgressions ("overts"), not Scientology.

Giuliana took a second cruise on the Freewinds and underwent hours of pressure to join the Sea Org. The message repeated to her was that it would be her only valuable achievement ever. Exhausted and thinking her son would be pleased that she was part of Scientology's elite, she caved in. For her "Product Zero" training, Giuliana was assigned to the "Estates Project Force" at the Italian base in Milan. Despite her age, she had to work the same long hours and perform the same intense manual labor as the young people in the program. Being in the Sea Org spared Giuliana from penalties when the organization's revenues were down and entitled her to eggs or a slice of meat in addition to the usual diet of beans and rice. Giuliana also performed dissemination work, contacting the public to take appointments for the registrar and convincing people to make payments. Giuliana wondered how she could possibly be helping people by relieving them of their money.

When Christmas 2000 arrived, Giuliana received permission to go home for a few days. She discovered that a family of Scientologists had taken over her apartment. She felt unwelcome and hastened her departure.

Giuliana had for months been expecting to be transferred to Flag, and she finally received the required approval. In Clearwater, Giuliana was surprised to learn that she had to redo "Product Zero" and would be housed at a motel 30 minutes away by bus from the Fort Harrison Hotel, in a room occupied by 8 persons and 4 bunk beds. Giuliana was forbidden to tell her family about any activities, about the food, or about where she was sleeping. The daily schedule was filled from dawn to midnight and Giuliana had little time to make friends or have conversations. Her only luxury were occasional phone calls to Enrico in Italy, but Enrico-the-Scientologist spoke to her like a by-the-book ethics officer. Giuliana took refuge in her work, always running and keeping busy to avoid having to think. In 2 months, she completed a course that usually took an entire year for other staff and officials, and she was commended for it. In spite of this, she was assailed by self-doubt and wondered if she was totally useless.

Giuliana was attracted to the Freewinds, thinking it would be pleasant to work there. She won an assignment to the ship, but her hopes quickly turned into disillusionment. Working conditions were harsh, particularly for a woman of her age, and the hot Caribbean sun worsened the connective tissue disease in her lower limbs. Giuliana had been advised not to speak about this problem, because it might interfere with gaining the assignment. She slept in a cramped and uncomfortable cabin housing 9 berths for 3 persons each. Giuliana was eventually moved to more comfortable cabin which she shared with Jasta, a woman who had known L. Ron Hubbard in South Africa. Jasta was always cheerful and impeccable in public, but in private, when she removed her wig and makeup, it was plain to see that she had a serious illness. Jasta disappeared one day and the staff later learned that she had gone to Flag and had passed away.

Facing her own illness, Giuliana asked to return to Italy, but the response was that she should emulate Jasta, who stayed at her post to the end. Giuliana did not find this unfair, because she still believed that she should be working for Scientology to help humanity. And Giuliana kept repeating to herself that she was really of little value. She managed to keep working, but in the afternoon she would be feverish and had to wear a windbreaker. One of her knees was swollen and she suffered from pain in her articulations. In Aruba, she was taken to a doctor who diagnosed SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus). Back on the Freewinds, Giuliana never received the medication prescribed by the doctor and she was still forced to work under the tropical sun, despite the doctor's order to avoid exposure to the sun. Giuliana could not flee because of ship security and because her passport was held somewhere on the Freewinds. Giuliana decided to demand that she be returned to Italy.

When Enrico met his mother at Fiumicino airport in mid-September 2002, he barely recognized her. By Christmas, Giuliana also had problems with her eyes. The pain in her articulations grew so severe that she had to be sedated with morphine and was confined to a wheelchair. The fact that her son and his wife were Scientologists did not make things easy; for them moving "up the bridge" came first.

In June 2003, Scientology's medical commission certified Giuliana as totally disabled. Later in 2003, Giuliana underwent a hip replacement and she had to face other problems during the months of recovery, including a thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism.

Giuliana's condition eventually improved, but Scientology was not yet out of her life. Enrico and his wife transformed Giuliana's home into what might be called a branch office of the Sea Org, and the telephone rang at all hours, day and night. Giuliana was ill, but she still did things to help, such as providing training.

By the end of summer 2004, Giuliana could no longer suppress her doubts about Scientology and Enrico lost the certainty that had turned him into a fundamentalist.

In September 2004, Giuliana and Enrico Costantini wrote letters announcing their decision to dissociate from Scientology and sent them to the organization's Italian and American headquarters. Their Scientologist friends disappeared. One even wrote a formal letter of disconnection to Enrico. And then the telephone in Giuliana's home went silent.

Chapter 6. Enrico Costantini

Note: Enrico also appears in Chapter 5, which tells the story of his mother, Giuliana. Chapter 6 deals mainly with Enrico's experience in Narconon.

In 1988, Enrico Costantini was 27 years old and he had a serious heroin addiction for which various therapies had proven ineffective. His aunt came across a Narconon flyer in Pescara and the description intrigued Enrico, because it sounded less strenuous and more diversified than other methods. Enrico began using heroin and other drugs in 1976. Enrico says that his veins were so mangled that it took him hours to find one for the next injection, and he was reduced to inserting the needle in "unspeakable places."

One morning that was worse than the others, Enrico decided out of desperation to enroll in the Narconon program in Teramo. Enrico spent 29 days withdrawing "cold turkey" in a humid and foul-smelling room in a former hotel, experiencing hallucinations, and finding the return to reality worse than the hallucinations. Enrico gradually pulled through and he was glad not to be in one of the usual confrontation groups where people would have been shouting at him. On the contrary, he thought that fate had kissed him on the forehead. Enrico was alone in the room with a bed, a pair of semi-broken chairs, a decrepit cabinet, and a half-demolished bathroom. But Enrico felt better, though he didn't know that his mother had paid in advance 14 million lire for this "service."

The other programs Enrico had tried imposed strict rules and insisted on cleanliness. This new approach seemed better because of the freedom it made him feel. Various young people took turns coming to Enrico's room to patiently give him strange massages or, on other occasions, to look him in the eye and say: "Look at the wall, thank you." "Look at the ceiling, thank you." Contrary to the practice in other rehabilitation programs, Enrico was allowed to smoke as many cigarettes as he wanted. One fellow with a glass eye would bring Enrico a heap of multicolored tablets and stay until Enrico had swallowed them all. Enrico thought the fellow was a doctor but later understood that he was either an addict trying to quit or a former addict who joined staff for lack of alternative employment. Enrico also ended up joining staff, and he discovered that the tablets were vitamins, which he had taken believing they were medicine to lessen the withdrawal symptoms. The vitamins did not work in the way he hoped and he had to endure weeks of severe vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and hallucinations. Enrico has coronary damage which may have been caused by Narconon's withdrawal technique.

The withdrawal process took 29 days and then Enrico slept for 10 hours straight. When he awoke, he felt well. For the first time in years, he didn't need a fix. Enrico considered this "rehabilitation program" and its founder as his savior. Moreover, Enrico was hearing about the founder's other incredible discoveries. People were telling Enrico that it is possible to leave one's body without dying; they called it "exteriorization." They sounded crazy, but Enrico thought that his savior might be the father he had always dreamed about.

Enrico began to dedicate all of his time to helping other young people who had a drug problem. He attracted a large number of clients to Narconon. Enrico noticed that the business aspect had a higher priority than saving people, but Enrico was caught in a wave of enthusiasm and he wanted to help his many friends who had fallen into drug dependence.

In Copenhagen, after becoming Clear, Enrico experienced a relapse. A few months later, he returned to Italy to redo the Narconon program in Puglia. Enrico joined the Narconon staff and he and his friend Alfredo toured Italy looking for addicts to save who had 14 million lire to spend. Enrico's family was wealthy and he convinced his mother to donate the program to 6 or 7 persons who did not have the means to pay for it. Nine months, 350,000 kilometers, and 2 broken-down cars later, Enrico was tired of having to return to Narconon and being ordered to paint the walls because he hadn't succeeded in saving anyone for a week.

Enrico went to Copenhagen for more advanced Scientology training, and a year later, he had another relapse. He returned to Italy to redo the Narconon program in Calabria. In that Narconon center, the person responsible for monitoring the sauna was doing heroin and then deciding whether clients were free from drug restimulation. Despite doctor's orders to avoid saunas, Enrico was subjected to the sauna and he did not feel well. During this Narconon program, Enrico was coerced into divorcing his first wife. Narconon also tried to convince Enrico that his own family was suppressive.

Then, all of a sudden, Narconon changed its public face. The word "religious" was replaced by "secular" and the "spiritual counseling" or auditing portion of the program was eliminated. The writings of Enrico's "savior" were replaced by "secularized materials" made up of illustrations and little text. When Enrico asked for an explanation, he was told that all connections to the "mother church" had to be "canceled" and that, during the program, no one was to speak of the religion created by the "savior." Clients were to finish the program and then be pushed toward higher courses in the church. Enrico says that the official reason for this change was to fend off the psychiatrists who wanted to take over the programs created by the "savior" and use them to control the world. From that day forward, Enrico considered psychiatrists as the devil incarnate.

Enrico notes that he, like many graduates of Narconon, experienced relapses and needed expensive "retraining." The official success rate statistics touted by the Church of Scientology and Narconon were the main cause of Enrico's initial doubts. Returning to the needle is never blamed on Hubbard's methods. The reason is always alleged to be a person's hidden crimes or the "suppressive persons" in the family.

Enrico points out that the Narconon program lacks a fundamental component: reinsertion into society. Narconon only offers 2 possibilities: join staff or become a Scientologist.

Enrico considers the moral and financial harm caused by the Narconon program more devastating than the drug experience itself.

Beginning with his enrollment in Narconon in 1988, Enrico Costantini spent 17 years in Scientology. Today he has regained a sense of balance, serenity, and faith. He works as a volunteer in a Catholic association that provides social services.

Chapter 7. Giusi De Martin Roder

Giusi (Giuseppina) De Martin Roder left her parents at the age of 18. When she was 19, she became pregnant and decided to have the baby because she wanted to give him the love she had rarely had in her parents' home. Giuseppina was the last of 4 children in a family of modest means and her father was very stern and aggressive. Giuseppina was married for one year, but the couple broke up. She worked for a real estate agency in Milan and often walked by the Scientology org, where a young person would regularly hand out a flyer that said "Know yourself." She became increasingly curious and suggested to her boyfriend that they go in together to take a look. He agreed. The year was 1979.

Giuseppina and her boyfriend took the "Oxford Capacity Test", also known as the "personality test." Giuseppina was told that she had a tendency to get depressed and that this prevented her from accomplishing what she wanted. She felt this was true. Giuseppina and her boyfriend were offered the inexpensive "Anatomy of the Human Mind" course and they accepted.

Giuseppina was not fond of the "American style" of the org with its effort to project the appearance that everyone is always happy and energetic. She was amused by the forced applause when a person finished a course and by the expression of thanks to the portrait of L. Ron Hubbard. Giuseppina was tempted never to return, but she was curious to know what came next. The org did seem to offer an opportunity for personal development based on a technology that appeared to be scientifically proven. Giuseppina and her boyfriend thought they could stop whenever they wanted.

They both signed up for the purification rundown, 4-6 hours a day of running and sauna sessions for 54 long days. Giuseppina found it physically exhausting and wanted to drop out, but she was told this was not allowed. Because of the program's many "success stories", she would have been required to pay for auditing to find out what was wrong with her. Giuseppina saw no escape, so she wrote a success story that said she was glad to have finished the purif because it had freed her from toxins. The first part was true, but she had no way of knowing for sure about the toxins.

Giuseppina and her boyfriend took the NED (New Era Dianetics) and co-audited one another. After the NED internship, they became auditors. Then came a proposal from "Division 5" to become auditors for the staff of the Milan org. Giuseppina thought this would be very useful to the organization because it was obvious to her that the staff, the people working to clear the planet, had problems, but no one was supporting them. Staff were not receiving auditing and were missing out on the most beautiful and desired experience for a Scientologist. Giuseppina had a 10-year-old son to care for and she would have to leave her job to dedicate herself full time to improving herself and helping others. This was the opportunity of a lifetime. Giuseppina thought that in 1 or 2 years she might attain her personal freedom and her goals. In other words, this was an investment in the future.

Giuseppina and her boyfriend each quit their jobs. Giuseppina's decision to join staff was based on her ambition to provide her son more financial security and a better mother, but in the meantime, Giuseppina had to entrust her son to an aunt. He was in good hands and Giuseppina saw him every day, but her son cried all the time they were together. Then the org canceled Giuseppina's only day off, the only day she could dedicate to her son. Despite the anguish this caused, she persisted.

Auditing the staff showed Giuseppina that the reassuring façades belied families in shambles and problems of all kinds, a sea of human misery. Giuseppina continued her studies and co-auditing and reached the state of Clear. Giuseppina and her boyfriend then went to Copenhagen for the OT levels. OT3 was the object of great suspense and Giuseppina had an uneasy feeling as she read Hubbard's story about a galactic war 75 million years ago. Disbelief gave way to agitation. OT3 required accepting as truth the idea that we are not alone and are oppressed by beings called "body thetans" from which we need to liberate ourselves. Not believing is worse, because it means that you've been wrong all along, that everyone in Scientology is crazy, and that you wasted your money. Giuseppina now understood why some followers begin to have panic attacks after OT3. She had seen one Scientologist who had been sane earlier behaving wildly and talking to his body thetans. Giuseppina herself experienced the first panic attack in her life after OT3, and for a long time afterward, she suffered attacks of claustrophobia when she rode the subway.

Giuseppina noted that the staff in Copenhagen had poor food, slept in bug-infested beds, never went out, were ill-paid and fearful, and obeyed all orders. She had pictured life in the Sea Org as full of interesting experiences, but she now understood that the reality was sadder than could be imagined.

When Giuseppina returned to Milan, she and her boyfriend separated and she no longer had the financial independence to take back her son and support him. Giuseppina came to a stark realization: she had entered Scientology to improve herself, but she had been deeply mistaken. In late 1984, she decided to leave.

Giuseppina explained her intention to leave to a female Sea Org member with whom she was on friendly terms, but the woman treated her like an enemy. In one of the cramped auditing rooms, Giuseppina was interrogated, subjected to shouting and intimidation, and accused of crimes against Scientology. She was told that she could never again in eternity do Scientology because of her treason. This was designed to cause Giuseppina the most suffering, because she still believed in the "technology." Giuseppina was devastated. For her, it was equivalent to damnation. Giuseppina was also told that everything she had said during auditing sessions would be made public. Giuseppina was mortified and hurt. She had been totally committed to Scientology for 5 years.

Realizing that she would get no recognition for her dedication, Giuseppina stayed home. Her telephone rang constantly, day and night. Scientology tried the carrot-and-stick approach. She received flattering calls expressing appreciation for her work and threatening calls saying that the finance department would send someone to collect money she had not paid. When Giuseppina started speaking to the media, anonymous people came to her home saying they had problems and wanted to know more about Scientology, but their purpose was to intimidate her.

Giuseppina was unable to find a job. She joined an association connected with David Mayo, an auditor who had been close to L. Ron Hubbard but was expelled. Giuseppina worked there for a while, dispensing training. She later learned various types of work, from telephone marketing to promoting mineral water.

Giuseppina Roder found inner peace through the Christian faith and she has been working as a salesperson in Milan for 15 years. She speaks openly about her experiences in the cult.

Chapter 8. Giacomo Sotgia

Giacomo Sotgia is 44 today and works as a building contractor in Gorizia. He was in Scientology from 1999 to 2006. In this chapter, he reflects on his experience and on the nature of Scientology.

A deep personal crisis stimulated Giacomo's interest in Scientology, which he had heard about from a friend. The friend brought Giacomo to the Pordenone org and Giacomo was impressed by the apparent professionalism and competence of the staff and by the modern approach of the programs. Giacomo took the basic courses and the early results encouraged him to continue.

Giacomo joined the staff of the Pordenone org and was MSO (Membership Officer) for 14 months in 2000-2001. He worked 60 hours a week for 20,000 lire (roughly equivalent to $15). Giacomo left Scientology but then returned and progressed to the state of Clear. His name appeared in the IAS honor roll (persons who donated $20,000 or more or "helped" 21 or more people to join the IAS) and he recruited close to 30 new followers to register for basic courses during his final years.

Giacomo counts himself among those who deeply believed in Scientology. This led him to a financial disaster in December 2006 involving 2 of his businesses, a company belonging to his brother, who is still a Scientologist, and a few other firms with which he collaborated. When Giacomo discovered how Scientology deceives people, he seriously considered suicide, not for financial reasons, but because he felt psychologically devastated. Giacomo picked himself up and fought back. Anti-sect Internet websites and news articles about Scientology from around the world opened his eyes. After a one-and-a-half-year recovery period, Giacomo decided to take a firm stand against Scientology.

Giacomo's experience has convinced him that the Scientology cult is a spiritual, mental, and financial deception. It hides behind a façade of good intentions and grand "humanitarian goals." After 8 years in Scientology, Giacomo came to the realization that what he had acquired at an exorbitant monetary and emotional cost was a mirage in a desert. He says that Scientology is not really interested in turning people into Clears and OTs. Instead, Scientology is about "honorifics" and social status levels that only have value within the group and have to be paid for. Any unhappiness, lack of success, or difficulty in a person's life is blamed on the person. Throughout his involvement with Scientology, Giacomo was pressured by being made to feel guilty, inadequate, or mistaken. A follower can receive glorification one day and scorn the next if he or she doesn't have money to spend.

Most people are introduced to Scientology through Hubbard's Dianetics book, which emphasizes that the auditor is not interested in what the preclear has done, but in what was done to the preclear. Scientology, on the other hand, assumes that everything which happens to a person or prevents the person from growing is due to what the person has done, the person's "overts" and "withholds." Giacomo describes Scientology as a scam which lures people by promising a therapy that resolves mental problems but subtly replaces it by a costly and infinite atonement for transgressions in past lives as well as in the present life. This "technology" is considered perfect. If a follower thinks it doesn't work, it's the follower who is imperfect.

Giacomo believes it is impossible for Scientology to reform or correct itself, because it totally precludes criticism of itself. Despite its lack of self-criticism, Scientology is harshly judgmental with respect to followers and the outside world. A person is either a friend or an enemy of Scientology. Those who have had the courage to publicly express their disillusionment and the reasons for their criticism have been harassed, defamed, and, in some cases, persecuted or sued.

Giacomo Sotgia left Scientology in 2006. He won compensation and restitution of all the "confessions" transcribed in the folders kept by the organization, a first in Italy.

Chapter 9. Astra Woodcraft

Maria Pia Gardini met Astra Woodcraft during Maria's first visit to the Lisa McPherson Trust (LMT) in January 2001. Astra was accompanied by her sister, Zoe, and her father, Lawrence. Maria also met Astra in Leipzig during another LMT meeting. With Astra's permission, Maria includes the story told in Astra Woodcraft's January 24, 2001 affidavit, which was written in English:


Chapter 10. Franco

Franco (a pseudonym) was introduced to Scientology by a female friend. Franco was impressed by Hubbard's theory that the origin of all illness is psychosomatic and that Dianetics and Scientology have a cure. Franco started taking courses and training. Everything seemed perfect at first.

Franco wanted to become an auditor. He was told that he'd have to go to Flag for the internship and that he'd be able to audit and earn a good income after his return to Italy. Meeting OTs at Flag made Franco want to go up the bridge to OT, but Franco didn't have the necessary money. Flag proposed to Franco that he could audit paying public clients (a violation of policy because auditors at Flag have to be members of the Sea Org). In Italy, Franco was a Field Staff Member, selling books, courses, and auditing sessions for a 10 per cent commission. This allowed Franco to pay for his travel to Florida and for the OT student packs. Franco went to Flag 3 times a year and he became a Class 8 auditor (the highest rank for a public Scientologist) and an OT4.

On more than one occasion at Flag, Franco was asked to perform strange duties, for example standing guard over Scientologists, some Italian, who were being audited and appeared to develop signs of mental disturbance. Franco accepted these requests in order to avoid problems with the ethics officer, but he did not enjoy the job of controlling a person 24 hours a day. Franco wondered how a religion could possibly hold followers prisoner simply because they wanted to leave the church and return home. Franco began turning down these requests.

Franco grew more concerned when he observed what was happening to the friends he had made over the years in Scientology. To pay for courses, some were thrown out on the pavement, lost their job, or piled on debts that could never be repaid. Franco knew couples that broke up after years of marriage solely because one partner left Scientology or refused to join.

Franco left Scientology in 1992 after concluding that Scientology is nothing but a money-making fraud that doesn't care about its followers, especially those with little money. Franco had noticed the emphasis on money in Italy, but he thought that things would be different at Scientology's base in America. Instead, he found some staff members earning $30 a week while others such as himself who were involved in sales could make $5,000 or $10,000.

When Franco's intention to leave became known, he was kept in isolation with 2 other staff members for 2 weeks and was not allowed to see any of his friends. One of the detainees was prevented from returning to Australia for his father's funeral. Franco was given documents to sign and he was punished every time he refused. In the end, he could take it no longer and had to sign statements stipulating that he would not speak out against Scientology for anything it had done to him. This enabled Franco to retrieve his passport.

Because of his departure from Scientology, Franco's 2-year marriage to an OT8 ended in divorce. Franco was declared a suppressive person and baseless rumors spread that he had been expelled because he was a homosexual.

Franco decided to remain in the United States. The recovery of his self-esteem and of his ability to have stable friendships and to work was long and complicated. He began a successful career as an actor in American situation comedies. Franco presently lives in Los Angeles, where he is chairman of a multinational corporation in the film industry. He is happily married and has a son. Franco and his wife are involved in helping orphaned children. Franco's only regret is that he gave $250,000 to Scientology.

Now that he is prosperous and has a prestigious position, Scientology would like to have him back in its fold. The organization has tried to contact him.

Chapter 11. Paola

Paola (a pseudonym) was introduced to Scientology in 2001 by her husband, who was already a Scientologist. Paola was going through depression and she thought that trying a new experience might do her some good. Nevertheless, she was skeptical and thought that Scientology was a strange pseudo-religion.

From the outset, Paola was struck by the "cultural poverty" of the entire staff, including its executives. The quality of the Italian spoken by the persons responsible for training was poor, and it was impossible to take a step without someone asking for money. Paola told her husband about her impressions, but she decided to put peace and family harmony above her doubts by accepting and supporting his interest in Scientology. To avoid marital discord, Paola began taking courses at the org. She found that the Book One auditing helped her to communicate and release her anxieties and to reevaluate what she had thought were psychological limitations or behavioral problems. From Paola's point of view, she and her husband were getting closer both spiritually and as a couple, and she found this positive.

While for Paola this experience was only one among many priorities, her husband was spending every moment he could spare at the org. Paola was disappointed to see that her husband was again becoming distant from her as he was progressing up the "bridge" much more quickly than she was. Her husband was so absorbed in the so-called church that his priority was no longer their family, their 5-year-old son, and the profession that had until then afforded them a comfortable life.

About 2 years later, her husband started behaving quite unlike the man Paola had known and loved for 10 years. He spoke in a strange manner and he insisted that only Scientologists be allowed to enter their home.

One day, the bank manager called to inform Paola that the balance of their joint checking account was very much in the red and needed to be covered quickly. Even the money that Paola had saved when she was working had disappeared. When her husband came home that evening, Paola demanded an explanation, but he couldn't provide even a slightly plausible justification. He looked away from her and seemed unable to understand her questions, lost in some kind of nirvana. Finally, he admitted that he had bought the "bridge" all the way up to OT7, but that his work was going well and he would be able to cover the balance soon, thanks to the abilities he would gain after OT7. To complete his OT levels, he would take a 2-month leave of absence from work to go to America.

In the meantime, their home had become a branch office of the Scientology organization. Day and night, the apartment was filled with org staff using it as though it were theirs. Paola was exasperated by this invasion, but didn't know how to stop it.

The last straw came when Paola discovered that her husband had forged her signature to empty the savings account they had created for their son. To spare her son from seeing what was about to happen, Paola dropped him off at her mother's home. Without letting her husband interrupt, Paola shouted a torrent of indignation about what he had done. He replied like a robot Scientologist: "You don't understand anything; I will be at cause over everything around me." "We are spirits, not bodies, and money is only a means to become big beings and help clear the planet." He was no longer a husband, but a zombie. Paola could no longer live with this unrecognizable person.

The next day, Paola went to the Scientology org and made a scene in front of the executive director, letting him know exactly what she thought about Scientology, its followers, and its staff, accusing them of destroying families.

The org told her husband that Paola was a suppressive person who was ruining his life and preventing him from improving himself. He had to choose between Paola and the group. The last time Paola saw her husband was when came by for 10 minutes to pack his clothes. He didn't even ask where their son was or whether he could see his son again.

This happened in October 1992. Six months later, Paola obtained a separation from her husband. He left for America and Paola lost all trace of him.

Then the persecution began. Paola received telephone calls during the day and in the middle of the night, threats on the street, and warnings not to tell her story. Paola's parents received defamatory calls about Paola, forcing her father to file a complaint. Paola was even slandered door-to-door: two Scientologists rang a neighbor's doorbell and asked, "Do you know who your next door neighbor really is?"

Chapter 12. Ernesto Menta

In 1989, Ernesto Menta was a 21-year-old computer programmer at Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics. He was living in Milan. Ernesto bought the Dianetics book at a newsstand and he found it so enthralling that he read it in one sitting. The book described techniques for personal improvement and development of the mind's potential. He had been searching for this and wanted to know more.

Ernesto visited the Milan Scientology mission and took some Dianetics sessions. He felt he was improving and, 3 months later, he joined the staff. Ernesto worked at his job in the daytime and at the mission in the evenings and on Sundays. He became more and more enthusiastic about Scientology. The atmosphere was pleasant and the people were friendly.

Auditing was giving him results that seemed to confirm the method's efficacy. Ernesto considered Ron Hubbard an indisputable scientific authority. Ernesto believed everything that Hubbard wrote. When something didn't make much sense in a text or at the organization, Ernesto would find some kind of explanation or simply dismiss the things that didn't square with what he expected.

After one year, the young programmer decided to join the Sea Org in Copenhagen. Life was hard there. He only had one half-day off every week, the work objectives were strenuous, and a large number of internal regulations had to be respected. When a staff member failed to meet an objective, it was always that person's fault, never because of the rules set by Scientology. Ernesto received various forms of Scientology processing: auditing, ethics cycles, and a security check that stretched out over an entire month and which Ernesto was unable to complete. Each session could last up to 2 hours and was mental torture.

Ernesto became increasingly nervous and insecure. He attributes this to the difficulty of respecting Scientology's regulations. When he didn't succeed, he would always be blamed. His insecurity grew and instilled a feeling of guilt about his "possible" errors. Ernesto became obsessed with the fear of making a mistake and he even had thoughts of suicide.

A year and a half later, Ernesto's experience in the Sea Org came to an end and he returned to Italy, to his native Catania. He remained in the church and had to pay approximately 10,000 euros for all the courses and services he received while on staff.

Ernesto's insecurity kept growing and began to have a detrimental impact on his profession. Ernesto had to give up technical work, including his original job as a programmer, because his new handicap slowed him down considerably. Whenever he was given an important assignment, anxiety took control of him and he was tormented by the thought of not doing something right. He had to check and recheck his work and, as a result, he took too much time to perform even the tasks that were only slightly complex. His memory also worsened. Ernesto looked for manual jobs and he became addicted to cleanliness.

Still convinced that Scientology was the salvation of humanity, Ernesto continued to donate money to the organization.

After 15 years of loyalty to Scientology, doubt started to set in. He stopped going to the church for 3 years, yet he still considered himself a Scientologist. Ernesto looked on the Internet to see if there were other "personal growth" alternatives to Hubbard's movement. He discovered the Free Zone, a schismatic movement of Scientology that uses similar techniques derived from those of Scientology. But Ernesto also found something he did not expect which opened his eyes: information about controversial events related to Scientology, such as the case of Paulette Cooper, who was persecuted for writing a book critical of Scientology, and Operation Snow White, in which agents of Scientology infiltrated the offices of the CIA and the FBI. Ernesto also found astonishing accounts about the abuses inflicted on Sea Org members, about the death of Lisa McPherson, about suicides, and about the murky rise to power of David Miscavige, the present leader of Scientology.

Ernesto Menta abandoned the church in 2007. He is now 42 years old and he spreads counter-information about Scientology. He has distributed flyers in the center of Catania and he is one of the authors of the newsgroup free.it.religioni.scientology (FIRS). He can also be found on YouTube in a video in which he describes his experience in the organization and the reasons why he left.

Chapter 13. Tory Christman Bezazian

Maria Pia Gardini met Tory Christman during Maria's first Sea Org assignment. In 2001, Maria visited the Lisa McPherson Trust and she had the greatly pleasant surprise of seeing Tory once again, this time outside of Scientology. During the preparation of this book, Maria asked Tory for permission to include her story. Much of the information in this chapter can be found in Tory Christman's 2003 affidavit, which was written in English:


Chapter 14. Lawrence Woodcraft

Lawrence Woodcraft, the architect assigned to remodel the Freewinds, is the father of Astra Woodcraft, whose story is told in Chapter 9. During the preparation of this book, Maria Pia Gardini asked Lawrence Woodcraft for permission to include his 2001 affidavit about the presence of asbestos inside the ship. This original document was written in English:

Last edited:


Patron with Honors

There are so many people leaving and writing up there experiences....:

SOON A BIG :wave: to DM.....:thumbsup:


Thanks for that, cant wait for the book in english too.
Cant wait to see if the CofS can even get this court case to stand up against the publishing house, I reckon they have 2 chances, None and Buckleys.:happydance:


Formerly Fooled - Finally Free

Il coraggio di parlare (The Courage to Speak Out), edited by Maria Pia Gardini. Introduction by journalist Alberto Laggia. 168 pages. Paoline Editoriale Libri, Milan, 2009.


Wow! On the book and on your summaries! :thumbsup:


Patron with Honors
Big Chuckle

There was a phrase in chapter 8 that really made me chuckle, about the church requiring "Infinite atonement."

I am still chuckling every time I look at that. OMG! I feel like a balloon that you blow up and let go and it flies around the room as the air whooshes out.

Guess I must have some "charge" in that area. Thanks!


Gold Meritorious Patron
fast summary

Faster summary:

Maria was a millionaire. Maria encountered Scientology. Maria was ripped off.