The Anderson Report


Although there are several features of scientology which are to be condemned, its threat to health - particularly mental health - ranks paramount. The HASI's boast is that it is the world's largest mental health organization, an astonishing claim, the more so because it has flourished for some years in open competition with orthodox medicine and psychology. Thinly disguised as something of quality and value, scientology has insidiously infiltrated the community. In reality it is a dangerous medical cult, with special though not exclusive interest in mental health, and it is concerned primarily to discredit orthodox medicine and psychology and in lieu thereof offer its deluded victims dangerous hypnotic and other techniques which falsely masquerade as scientific.

The evil consequences of this deception have been dealt with at length in this Report: Chapter 18 deals with the dangerous hypnotic aspects of scientology processing; Chapter 19 deals with the spurious healing claims made by scientology; Chapter 21 deals with the general effects of processing. The hostility with which Hubbard so violently attacks the orthodox medical and psychological professions, dealt with in Chapter 22, produces a great fear and loathing of these professions in the minds of his adherents, who are thus conditioned to avoid at all costs medical practitioners, especially psychiatrists.

As already pointed out, this attitude may have tragic results, because not only may mental and physical conditions which require early attention for their successful treatment be neglected, but the unfortunate sufferer may embark upon a course of scientology processing which could produce a worsening of his condition, thereby greatly decreasing, and possibly destroying, the prospect of successful treatment by orthodox medicine. One psychiatrist illustrated the danger of scientology processing which he encountered in a patient who was a neurotic with paranoiac tendencies. The patient had been subjected to scientology processing and thereafter resisted all attempts by the psychiatrist to gain his confidence, a state necessary for successful psychiatric treatment.

This Chapter deals more particularly with the dangers resulting from the inability of scientology practitioners to observe mental or physical conditions, and the positive harm likely to result therefrom.

The Board heard expert medical evidence to the effect that there are numerous conditions, physical as well as mental, where skill and experience are required to detect them in their incipient stages when prompt treatment is tremendously important. A person exhibiting some degree of lethargy, a feeling of inadequacy, insecurity or anxiety may be suffering from a cerebral tumour, some form of glandular disorder, drug intoxication or some psychiatric condition, the detection of which is often difficult even by skilled practitioners. With many types of psychiatric illness it is important to treat the patient as early as possible and the prospect of ultimate successful treatment could be jeopardized by delays in receiving psychiatric attention. The expert evidence was to the effect that it was difficult to determine whether a person showing signs of depression was suffering from melancholia or from unhappiness or tension. Even the most experienced and skilled psychiatrist is aided by modern laboratory equipment, radiologists and well trained psychologists, and he proceeds with caution; the price of error may be the suicide of the patient, and inadequate medical training may well result in failure to locate, as the cause of the patient's depression, brain tumour, cerebral clot or other medical condition. The more trained and experienced the psychiatrist the greater is his humility in his investigation, and the greater is the contrast between his investigation of the patient's condition and the cavalier way in which the HASI assumes that all conditions are amenable to indiscriminately applied scientology techniques. Scientologists almost invariably apply sledge-hammer methods, hitting savagely wherever they see a head. Such methods are often disastrous.

One of the very grave aspects of scientology is that its practitioners almost entirely lack any medical knowledge, and are unable to discern in a preclear symptom which would indicate to a medical practitioner the need for medical attention. Williams and other witnesses asserted that the HASI had a "filter system" wherein "the ill and insane are not encouraged to seek scientology as a cure", and that it was not the policy of the HASI to accept for processing or as a student a person having a history of mental illness or who appeared to have mental illness. The HASI uses printed forms of contract in which preclears and students acknowledge that the HASI is extending no guarantee of cure of any specific ailment the applicant may possess and that the course he is to undergo or treatment he is to receive is not in any way medical or psychiatric treatment but a series of exercises designed to increase ability. The HASI somewhat ingenuously thinks that the terms of these contracts ensure that their processes do not possess the quality of treatment of physical or mental conditions. It was said by the HASI witnesses that as a further safeguard, the applicant was given a "pre-processing security check" with the assistance of the E-meter. Williams said that people who were in fact undergoing psychiatric or other medical care were told that they were unacceptable for processing.

The whole routine, including the printed form, is all part of Hubbard's cunning in deluding his victims. In a perverse way it heightens the belief of the applicant that scientology will cure his complaint, for this unctuous negation by scientology of the claim to cure, while at the same time loudly proclaiming in its literature that it positively cures, suggests to the victim that scientology must be the great healer it claims to be because of the apparent modest disclaimer it so disarmingly makes.

The plain fact, however, is that the "filter" system does not filter; it was never intended to filter out those in need of psychiatric help or possessing mental troubles, for these are scientology's prime target. It is quite apparent from the evidence the Board heard and the files it examined that a substantial number of people suffering from various mental illnesses and in need of psychiatric care were accepted by the Melbourne HASI and by the Geelong and Hawthorn organizations for processing and training. Some of these persons had had earlier psychiatric treatment, and in many such cases that fact was known to the HASI and the other organizations before they were accepted for processing and training. Other persons who were evidently mentally ill were also accepted, or they developed obvious symptoms of mental troubles during their processing and training. After their sojourn in scientology, a significant number of these required and some received psychiatric treatment in State mental hospitals. How many in fact received psychiatric treatment in hospitals and from private practitioners could not be determined.

The Board heard evidence about one person who had been in and out of mental hospitals over a period of several years. He paid a total of £927 to the HASI. He was for a time a member of the HASI staff, at a time when the HASI knew he had been receiving psychiatric treatment. As a staff member he would be handling the affairs of preclears. Another person, after scientology processing, became a voluntary patient in a psychiatric hospital for four months. On his release the HAS[ signed him up for 300 hours. After some scientology processing he had to return to the hospital. In several cases scientology processing reduced the mental health of the persons concerned to a state which required psychiatric treatment. Many who need psychiatric treatment as a result of scientology processing most probably have not had it, because of the fear and hate of the medical profession which Hubbard has inculcated in them. Hubbard has admitted in HCO Pol. Lr. of the 10th October (probably 1960), that one of the consequences of scientology processing can be "nervous breakdown" involving "observation" in an asylum. He even regards the development of the "sad effect" as a good sign in processing.

Of the "sad effect", Hubbard writes,

"The Sad Effect. We could call this Tearculi Apathia Magnus and everyone would be in great awe of it. But I see no reason to follow the Latinated nonsense of yesterday's failured [sic] sciences. Call it something simple and the auditor will feel he can do something about it and even the preclear will cheer up a bit. So it is 'the Sad Effect'. This is a state of great sadness, apathy, and misery and desire for suicide."
It is such cases as this that scientologists enthusiastically process, and such states they are proud to produce.

The sequel to one of the demonstration sessions impressed upon the Board in a most dramatic and convincing way the great harm which flows from the ignorance of scientologists who are unaware of and incapable of understanding the dangerous nature of their techniques and the real condition of mental health of those on whom they are practising. The particular session demonstrated what was called "listen style auditing" (See Chapter 13). It was said that this was one of the simpler processes, quite a low grade process, and was designed to help people talk about their worries and problems and get them "off their chests", on the basis that people found relief when there was someone ready and willing to listen to them. It enabled the person with problems and worries to talk about them and the auditor, on this occasion being very literally one who listened, merely started the preclear talking and then sat silent, providing a receptive ear.

The demonstration session was of about thirty minutes duration. The auditor was Tampion and the preclear was a woman approaching middle age. She appeared to be nervous, excitable and enthusiastic. This woman had initially signed for 50 hours processing in June, 1962, but the director of processing, carrying out "the old routine" as directed by Hubbard, had certified that she required 300 hours before she could obtain a "stable gain", and she had then signed up for 300 hours. By February, 1964, she had had something in excess of 60 hours' auditing and had undergone some training. The session was conducted in a small room with only the auditor and the preclear present; the Board and others viewed proceedings in another room on closed television circuit. An E-meter was used.

The session began with the customary strict routine of "start of session", and the auditor then commanded the preclear to "Tell me about the right decisions you have made". The preclear thereupon commenced talking and almost without pause talked for the whole of the session about herself, her daughter, her husband and his woman friend, her neighbours, her work and her employment. It was a somewhat pitiful performance in which the preclear seemed to he talking herself into the belief that all the problems associated with the matters she mentioned were working themselves out and that she was understanding them better. At the end of the session, she said she had made gains. Nine days after the demonstration session this preclear was admitted as a patient to the care of the Mental Health Authority.

The Board is appalled at the realization that it witnessed this unfortunate woman being processed into insanity. At that early stage of the Inquiry the Board had not been informed of the potentially dangerous nature of this apparently simple and easy "listen style auditing". Subsequently a psychiatrist witness who read the transcript of this woman's demonstration session gave evidence that her behaviour in the session indicated clearly that she was in a state of mania rather than ecstasy which would have been readily apparent to a psychiatrist. Williams, Tampion and Mrs. Tampion were present at this session and the woman was obviously regarded by them as a suitable subject for auditing. Williams is a "Doctor of Scientology", and Tampion, for his services in conducting the demonstration sessions, was subsequently awarded the "degree" of "Doctor of Scientology" by Hubbard. Neither Williams nor Tampion nor Mrs. Tampion had the slightest idea that there was anything mentally wrong with this preclear. Later, Williams unconvincingly sought to explain the need for hospitalization as being the stress of vaguely hinted at family troubles. Williams, when asked did he know what a schizophrenic was, was constrained to answer that he knew only in the broadest terms. Tampion claimed that because of his scientology training his ability to treat people with psychotic and neurotic conditions was superior to the ability of psychiatrists although he did not bother to give the time to treating such people.

The kind of treatment given to this unfortunate woman was the very kind which precipitated her breakdown. The Board heard expert psychiatric evidence to the effect that it was one of the well known traps in handling depressives to believe that by encouraging them to talk and "get things off their chests" one was doing some good. In dealing with a person showing signs of depression, psychiatrists have to exercise great care and judgement in determining whether it is advisable to allow the person to talk about himself or not. The traditional concept of a psychiatrist as one who encourages a person to sit down and talk about anything is not correct. In order to determine whether a patient should be allowed to talk about himself, the psychiatrist must be a highly trained physician, with insight of many branches of medicine, as well as of his own speciality, and the listener must be able to observe and appreciate the danger signs. In particular cases, positive harm may be done by encouraging a person in depression to talk about himself for the patient could be developing a pathological sense of guilt. and to allow him to elaborate on his guilt may develop in him such a sense of guilt that he may well attempt suicide.

There was further expert psychiatric evidence that such techniques as listen style auditing encourage a trust and dependency by the patient on the auditor. and tend to mobilize guilt and bring up emotions and anxiety in the preclear. Such anxiety tends to provoke more symptoms, more anxiety and perhaps more depression, leading to a worsening of the situation. In any event, being a good listener or interviewer is not sufficient. What is required is an understanding of the complexities which are involved, an understanding impossible of attainment by a person whose only claim is that he is a scientology-trained auditor.

The danger to mental health is further emphasized by the peculiar basis of scientology. Its practitioners use techniques based on impossible theories and directed towards the treatment of "conditions" said to be brought about by completely fictitious circumstances. Based on fantasy, scientology has built up a body of "knowledge" which is fanciful and simply not true: thus scientology treats its imaginary "diseases" or conditions with its own fantastic procedures. The alarming feature is that real diseases and conditions do exist and often the fantastic scientology procedures are positively harmful to the real condition. It is like applying an oxy-welding torch to a leaking rubber tube to weld on a patch of rubber over a hole that does not exist, the real trouble being a leaking valve.

It is unnecessary to dwell further at any length on the harm which scientology has done and can do to the mental health of the community. It is not to be doubted that scientology techniques worsen and prolong the mental troubles of the mentally ill and that they produce in even a normal person disturbances and anxieties which may precipitate mental trouble.

Previous chapter Next chapter

Back to start

Last updated 21 February 1997

Page maintained by Martin Poulter (