Food for Thought:
An Insider's View of Cults
Robert Vaughn Young/David Sunfellow
Monday, February 28, 2000
& Consumer Protection
for Spiritual Seekers"
NHNE: Food for Thought:
An Insider's View of Cults
Monday, February 28, 2000
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THE QUESTION OF CULTS
By David Sunfellow
If there is one topic that fascinates nearly everyone, it is the subject
of cults. What are they? How do they operate? Why are so many people
so easily duped by bogus spiritual teachers and teachings? The following
essay by Robert Vaughn Young, a former high-ranking member of Scientology,
examines this controversial topic with heartfelt gusto.
Who is Robert Vaughn Young? Here's how he describes himself:
"To those who don't know me, I was in Scientology for about 21
years. Until Jesse Prince stepped forward, I was the highest-ranking
Scientology executive to speak about the organization without its approval.
I served in and saw virtually every echelon of the organization, from
a franchise where I started in 1969 to working directly with David Miscavige.
About 18 of those years was spent in or senior to Dept. 20 (now called
the Office the Special Affairs or OSA), the section that deals with
the 'enemies' of the organization, which comes to mean anyone who disagrees
with or criticizes any aspect of Scientology, Hubbard or 'management.'
Thus it is Dept. 20 (and now also RTC) that deals with the media, the
courts, government agencies, critics and ARS (alt.religion.scientology)
Drawing on his personal experience, Young provides an insider's view
of how Scientology (and cults in general) operate. He also draws some
important parallels between abused women and victims of cult organizations.
What is not examined in Young's essay is where the victim/victimizer
mentality comes from in the first place. What was it in Young's personality
that attracted him to an organization like Scientology? And what motivates
people like L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, to create such
While I've never been involved in a tightly-controlled organization
like Scientology, I have witnessed cult-like dynamics at work in myself,
others, and in virtually every area of human endeavor. The tendency
to self-righteously control/influence others, or to allow others, who
appear stronger and wiser than ourselves, to control/influence us is,
I believe, a tendency all human beings share. Groups that create closed,
oppressive, tightly-controlled systems are called "cults,"
while the rest of us, who use similar tactics in kinder, gentler, perhaps
more sneaky ways, are called parents, children, families, nations, and
religions of one kind or another.
How do we heal this painful, ultimately counterproductive dynamic?
The first step, it seems to me, is to become conscious of it -- and
one of the best ways I know to become conscious of it is to listen,
carefully, to stories like the one Robert Vaughn Young is about to share...
[Editor's Note: The following essay was originally posted to the alt.religion.scientology
newsgroup on February 21st. Steven Hassan sent it out to his Freedom
of Mind mailing list, which is where I first saw it. If this message
is cut off due to its length, you can read the entire essay, including
my comments, footnotes and references, at:
If you would like to discuss it with others of like mind, I encourage
you to join NHNE's Forum for a Common Understanding:
Monday, February 21, 2000
TOWARDS A NEW MODEL OF "CULT CONTROL"
By Robert Vaughn Young
(Preface: I am making this long post to ARS because I am stepping away
from this work and I want to get it into the hands of people who study
or are concerned with this issue. I do not know who has taken this view.
It is merely my perspective and opinion and can certainly prompt debate,
not to mention screams of horror from any cult. I just want it to be
seriously considered by the professionals who deal with this. Others
should be interviewed on it and the model developed and tested. Nor
do I think it is the only model. I merely think it might help some who
could not be helped before. I only ask that someone provide a copy of
this to whoever might be interested in the issue of "cult control.")
After I left Scientology in 1989 with 21 years in the cult, the hardest
question people posed to me was why I stayed in it so long if I knew
it was such an abusive system. I didn't have an answer that satisfied
me, let alone anyone else. I think I've come up with a reply and a model.
It at least satisfies me today.
My own background and basic interests also demanded an answer to that
question. I had a pursued and obtained a BA in philosophy (from what
was then known as San Francisco State College) because of a strong interest
in what we called philosophy of behavior/mind/psychology...
I was then accepted into the PhD program at the University of California
at Davis. I picked them because they had a strong program in this new,
growing field of study...
It was this interest of mine that prompted me to read Hubbard. I was
intrigued with elements of his philosophy, namely some of the epistemological
and cosmological presentations. Scientology's Dept 20/RTC and their
attorneys (especially in my last deposition in Tampa a couple of weeks
ago) can't grasp this. When they ask why I got into Scientology, they
make all sorts of assumptions, from "personal improvement"
to my wanting to join a religion. No, I say, trying to explain, but
it never sticks. For an "applied religious philosophy" they
haven't a clue what "philosophy" even means, let alone "religious
philosophy." (They think that a "religious philosophy"
is a religion. Get a clue!) But then, Hubbard didn't understand it either,
as I finally came to learn.
Which brings it back to the issue of why I stayed. There was one incident
that happened in 1988 that I kept as my litmus test. I knew if I could
understand it, I could understand it all.
I was on the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) at "Golden Era
Studios" at Gilman Hot Springs CA... My situation had deteriorated
to the point that I was afraid I was either going to go crazy on the
RPF or die so I escaped one night. They found me at a motel in nearby
Hemet and wanted to talk. I said okay and the next thing I knew, I agreed
to return to the "program" and to finish the RPF. I did and
was on it another 5-6 months (total 16 months) before "graduating."
Here is my litmus test. More than why did I stay in here, why did I
return if I felt it was so abusive that I escaped? And here's the kicker:
they TALKED me back in. They didn't lay a hand on me. By just talking
with me, they convinced me to give up what I had planned for weeks and
executed. They convinced me to go back to the very condition that I
feared would kill me. Why did I do it?
And this must be remembered: I can look back (11 years after fleeing)
and see that I was right to escape the RPF and wrong to return. So why
did I return and then stay?
Here's where the "mind control" advocates might argue their
point. After all, isn't this what "mind control" is all about
where I was "controlled" to do something that was inherently
against my will?
Or the "brainwashing" school might give their explanation
from that perspective. After 21 years in the cult, they might say, I
was "conditioned" and like some "Manchurian Candidate"
or Pavlovian dog, someone merely rang some bell or pushed a button and
I never bought either model. As I tried to understand, I read some
articles by "experts" on the subject of "cult control"
but they just didn't fit. It was like putting on an expensive but oversized
coat that hung off the fingertips and draped across me like a double-breasted.
Yeah, it was a "coat" and the "label" was impressive
but I wondered if it was me. Maybe I resented the idea that I had been
"brainwashed" or there was "mind control" and so
that was why I didn't like the theories. I found myself in an amusing
situation where I was agreeing with the cult that the models didn't
work but there was still SOMEthing, some point of control. Why was I
talked back into a situation that I detested and that I could look back
on years later and agree, yes, something else was at work. There WAS
some sort of "control" but "mind control"? It didn't
It wasn't until my first trip to Wellspring that I found the model
that worked for me. It had nothing to do with them. It was some books
that were on their shelves that I was reading in my spare time that
let me realize the model that worked for me: the battered or abused
woman. The idea didn't take hold fully then. It took further reading
(including some on the Web) some months later to bring it together.
Various "experts" can (and do) argue if "mind control"
or "brainwashing" really exists or if we are just talking
about various forms of "influence" that is found in everything
from advertising to conversations. But they can't argue with the fact
that there are battered/abused women who stay in abusive situations
and there are women who flee and when found by the husband are talked
BACK into the very relationship they tried to escape and then it repeats.
Until a very few years ago, our society didn't even ADMIT to these
women, let alone try to help them or try to understand the phenomenon.
Being the male-dominated society we are, it was even legal in many states
for a husband to hit his wife, and may still be. If a woman went to
the police, they simply called the husband. But now women are stepping
forward and it isn't easy. It is like being a rape victim and speaking
out. It takes courage and it took some women to force this issue on
our (American) male-dominated society and MAKE it an issue. That is
why it is a new issue. It is not that it hasn't existed. It has undoubtedly
existed for as long as there have been men and women but -- like civil
rights and other issues -- it took some "victims" FORCING
the issue before anyone even admitted that it existed.
The first time I saw the parallel between my own experiences in the
cult of Scientology and battered women was when I was reading "Captive
Hearts, Captive Minds" (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0897931440/newheavenneweartA/),
which is an excellent book. It was in the Intro or maybe the first chapter
that they cited and quoted the singer Tina Turner who had been in an
abusive relationship for something like 10 or 15 years. She remarked
how being with Ike Turner was like being in a small cult. The remark
jumped off the page at me. Given the success of Tina Turner as an entertainer,
one is not prone to say she is a stupid woman but there she was in a
marriage where she was beaten constantly and yet she stayed. When she
finally escaped, as she tells her story, it was after a beating that
left her head so swollen that she couldn't put on a wig. She wrapped
her head in a scarf and fled, taking no money or anything and finally
got away from Ike Turner.
One wonders how often she has been asked since, "Tina, you're
such a talented woman, so intelligent, how could you stay with a man
for 10/15 years who was beating you?" Maybe she has an answer in
her autobiography. I don't know. It is on my to-read list. But I know
she was asked that question. Every woman who escapes a man who has been
beating them must get that question and it is probably the hardest one
in the world to answer. After all, it's not that you don't KNOW you're
getting beaten. And it didn't happen just once. Nor twice. It happens
week after week, month after month, year after year.
Nor are these women locked up. The husband goes off to work, for example,
and she has a car. She gets in the car and she goes to the store, buys
food, and brings it home, to the very place where she is being beaten
and she makes dinner. She doesn't keep driving. SHE COMES BACK. To what?
There are also plenty of cases where the women DID escape, where they
finally got up their courage and maybe grabbing the kids, they fled
and the man managed to find them. Then, with no physical abuse, he TALKED
HER BACK. And then when the abuse started again, she stayed. Some leave,
but some stay.
When I began to see the parallel between my own experience and these
women, I went back and re-read Lifton's 10 or however many points that
he makes for his model and I realized that it was based on studying
prisoners of war! That was hardly a secret but when he and others were
making their models of "mind control" or "brainwashing"
or however you call it, battered women weren't even a subject which,
for me, was a telling difference. After all, what repatriated prisoner
of war says he wants to go back? What prisoner of war was let out of
their cell and allowed to go into the city to relax and then went back
to the prison where they were abused and tortured? THAT, for me, is
where the model breaks down and where the model of the abused or battered
woman takes over.
Even before I realized how the plight of the abused woman paralleled
my situation, I used to wonder how people from East Germany were able
to cross into Berlin to shop and then would return. If conditions in
East Berlin were as bad as we were being told in the West, how could
they step into the West, see the difference, buy the things they didn't
have back home and then return? I don't cite this as an exact parallel,
but there is a similarity. Why would a person go BACK to a condition
that is worse? I don't think "mind control" or "brainwashing"
fits that situation any more than it fits the abused woman or that it
One day talking with someone about this new idea that I had, I mentioned
the East German parallel and the person made an excellent point. "East
Germany was their home," she said. "People don't easily leave
their homes unless they have someplace better to go."
And that nearly tied the two together for me, as well as back into
my situation. Where can the abused woman go? Can she just take off for
nowhere? I don't know. I do know that when I escaped the RPF, I didn't
have anywhere to GO, which was why I went to a motel. (There was another
reason but it is somewhat immaterial for this point.) When Stacy and
I successfully fled in 1989, we were in the same bind. We didn't have
anyplace to GO. We knew that the cult had the names and addresses and
phone numbers of every single family member and friend. If nothing else,
our mail had been monitored and read for years and there is no doubt
in my mind that the already-existing list was expanded from that monitoring.
(Their excuse for opening and reading all mail that comes to staff at
the org is to watch for billings to the org. It is a Hubbard policy.
Staff are then pulled in and interrogated about mail considered suspicious.)
Knowing that they had such a list, we knew we could not go to any of
those people so we just hit the road and drove. I had already been talked
back in once. And there was one other time when I tried to escape and
got as far as the gate and was talked back. So that was one thing I
knew I had to avoid. I had to get enough space and time to get my own
wits about me to fend off another attempt, if they could find us.
That is also why I believe cult members have to escape in secret: they
are afraid they will be talked back in or convinced to stay. I know
what that feels like.
After I began to apply the abused or battered woman model (for want
of better words) to my own situation, I had an inadvertent and unintentional
opportunity to test it and I will never forget the experience. I was
back on Vashon Island, sometime in 1999, where I had been living. (For
those who don't know, Vashon is an island in Puget Sound.) Vashon is
an incredibly unique community. When you live there, you are an "islander"
and it grants you a number of unstated privileges. It took me a long
time to realize what it reminded me of. It is what the Old West (in
the US) used to be like. A person was accepted for who they said they
were until they proved otherwise. You answered to the locals, not outsiders.
That was how Vashon islanders lived.
There were two bars on the island, across the street from each other.
One of them was where the "kids" and off-islanders hung out.
It had a pool table and a big screen TV for watching games. The other
was quiet, sedate and for the "old timers" who knew each other
and everything that was happening on the island. Even if you were new
on the island, by the time you visited, they knew you and more than
you imagined. It was the sort of place where you could sit down, have
a beer and catch up on the local gossip. Any visitors to the island
looking for a place to hang out would stick their heads in and then
leave and choose the one across the street, leaving us to our own rhythm.
It was also a place where you could just sit and if you wanted to be
alone, you were left alone. It was that sort of place.
One night I went in, getting the usual hi's and nods and maybe a slap
on the back or giving one in return. 'Hey, where ya been!" someone
asked. "Oh, hanging around," I answered. Such a reply would
be enough. If I wanted to say more, I would. No one would pry. I pulled
up a bar stool, ordered a beer and sat watching ESPN. It was the only
acceptable station because one could watch it with no sound, and it
was kept at no sound so people could play the juke box if they wanted.
I was there relaxing for about 15 minutes when a woman sat down next
to me. More out of reflex than anything else, I turned and looked and
nodded and she nodded back. Then I went back to the TV to watch how
the Mariners were doing. The barkeep said hi to her in a way that meant
she was a local.
After a couple of minutes she spoke up. "You're the one they've
been picketing, aren't you?"
I turned to her. She was sipping on her beer. She was maybe 45 and
dressed as islanders dress. (Nine times out of ten, you can spot an
off-islander by their attire.) She was clearly a local, although I didn't
recognize her. That was easy enough on this island. "Yeah,"
"How's it going? They still doing it?"
No, I said, it's been quiet lately. She told me how she thought it
was terrible, how they come onto the island like that. It's not how
islanders behave, she said. Yeah, I replied with a shrug. They just
don't get it.
"I saw you on the 'Dateline' show," she said. I nodded as
she remarked some more about it. Finally she asked the question. "So
how long were you in Scientology?"
"About 21 years," I said.
"Wow," she said actually surprised. "If it really is
as bad as I hear, how could you stay in it that long?"
There it was, that same question. Well, this time I had a new answer.
"I guess that's like asking an abused women why she stayed in
that relationship for so long when"
She suddenly turned to me and raised her hands in front of her, one
of those "halt" motions and said, "Say no more! I just
ended an abusive marriage of 12 years. I know exactly what you are talking
And right there, we became friends. We had something in common.
We exchanged a few more words on the subject of coming to one's senses
and then the entire subject was dropped. Neither of us were interested
in it. We each understood the other fully and spent the next hour talking
about the island, the Mariners and other pleasantries of life until
she finally paid her bill and got off the stool, shook my hand, wished
me well and said she'd tell her friends about us.
After she left and in the year since, I've thought about that conversation
many times, how there was an instant connection by her, an immediate
recognition. She never said how long it had been since she ended the
marriage but it had probably been long enough to be asked the same question
that she found herself asking me. But it was by an incredibly stroke
of luck that the first person I said that to happened to be a women
who escaped from an abusive relationship. It could have been someone
who would have let me finish my statement and said, "You know,
I've never understood that either," but it wasn't. It was a woman
who said, say no more, I know exactly what you're talking about. And
she did. Our situations were entirely different but they were the same.
After that I realized that for the first time I had a model that I
could use in the most difficult situations and the understanding would
be based on that person's grasp of the situation of the abused woman.
With this model/analogy, I could go on the "Oprah" show and
with that response she would get it, as would millions of women watching
the show. Nothing else would be needed. There wouldn't have to be arguments
about "mind control" or "brainwashing" and if it
really exists. Abused women exist and whatever keeps them there or brings
them back, it happens. That fact cannot be denied.
Now that I've made my point, let me expand it. In my opinion, this
model/analogy extends much further than the control of a cult. I think
it can be found in jobs where the person feels trapped and wants to
leave but can't. There might be a difference that the "boss"
may not try to talk them back, but I think this model/analogy goes farther
than merely cults and abused women. That would be up to others to pursue.
My point is that I'm not targeting Scientology. The model worked for
me in my situation and I think it would help others who have had difficulty
understanding the "control" they felt. It helped me because
it lifted out of the subjects of "mind control" and "brainwashing"
and told me that it was not exclusive to the cult. In turn, I understood
-- or at least sympathized -- with the plight of the abused woman. I
no longer wondered why they stayed or returned. I didn't have an answer,
but I was no longer puzzled.
At my last deposition in Tampa, there was a point where this came up.
I don't recall what it was but I was asked something that prompted me
to say that I thought the abused woman syndrome was a good model for
what I had experienced. Of course, there were the guffaws and laughs
of severe denial from their part. It is to be expected from the abusers,
isn't it? No abusive husband admits to it and no abusive cult will either
and for the same reasons.
Before closing, let me make a couple more points of parallel.
No abusive relationship starts that way. In fact, the chances are that
if the guy had slapped her on the first date, there wouldn't be a second
one. No, the abusive relationship starts with sweetness. When I was
reading about abusive relationships, that came up constantly, how the
guy was so nice and sweet. No, the abuse is gradual. It starts with
some criticism and when the woman accepts it, then there is a little
bit more. When she accepts that, the man does more as he introduces
CONTROL. If she protests, he backs off until he can reestablish the
control. It is called a GRADIENT. (Ironically, Scientologists will be
familiar with that word.) The woman comes to accept more and more and
becomes convinced that it is something SHE is doing wrong. As it is
increased, the sweetness tapers off until it is finally dangled in front
of her like a carrot. Somewhere along the line, the physical abuse starts.
If she breaks too hard, he is sweet and comforting and maybe even apologetic,
bringing her back under control. That is the key. CONTROL. (Another
word Scientologists know well. Hubbard even had his own definition for
it and processing addressing control.) Then one day the beatings are
regular and she loses her self-respect and dignity.
Let me draw another parallel to my own situation. I mentioned in one
of my other posts to ARS that I am making with this one about the woman
who asked me if there was anything anyone could have said to me to change
my mind while I was in Scientology. No one had asked me that and I realized
-- and told her -- that no, there was nothing anyone could have said.
That happens with the abused woman too. I read how they would later
recount the advice of friends who kept telling them that their husband/lover
was abusing them and that they should leave. I don't recall any who
said, you know, you're right! I'm going to leave him! No, they explained
the abuse! They would say -- actually believing it, until they finally
escaped -- that he was really a nice guy, that he was misunderstood,
that he was trying, that they would work things out, etc., etc., etc.
You know who usually changes the woman's mind? The abuser. Those who
flee -- like Tina Turner -- simply say one day, I've had enough, and
escape. Some do it sooner. Some later. Until that moment, they rationalize
their situation. Friends or family might be able to intervene but not
in the hard core cases. In those instances, the abuser is the only one
who can change the person's mind.
Until then money and resources are also a factor. People stay in abusive
situations because they have no money or anywhere else to go. Maybe
if the abused woman had $100,000 in the bank she would have given him
the finger and taken off long before. But what abuser would allow the
woman to keep that money for herself? (I have yet to learn of a Sea
Organization member who escaped with ample personal resources. The amount
of money one has on joining -- if any -- is quickly discovered and one
is convinced to spend it on the cult, thus effectively wiping out any
resources.) These are the points that have to be researched to understand
this phenomenon and to offer help.
Meanwhile you might ask, how can a person rationalize a beating? Good
question indeed. If the plight of the abused women had been known longer
than it has, maybe we would have a better understanding. Each woman
will have her own answer but until we get a grasp of it the fact remains
that it exists and there are some disturbing parallels between them
and cult members. I wasn't "abused" when I joined. It was
like the "love bombing" found in another cult. Everything
is wonderful and the future is bright and this is the place to be. Then
one day, there is a little "correction." If one balks, one
is talked through it gently until it is grasped and one is willing to
accept it. The next one is attached to that one. ("Remember how
well we did last time when you were able to understand it and you had
a win?") And the next until one day you find yourself working 12
hours a day at hard labor, under guard, seven days a week, unable to
talk to friends and family, your body racked in pain and undergoing
constant interrogation to give up your "crimes" and you accept
it as necessary for your own "rehabilitation." And if you
try to escape and they catch you, you can be talked back to the very
same situation and you convince yourself that this is right as you haul
the next load of rocks out in 110 degree heat and a blazing sun for
$5 a week. It is all part of your "rehabilitation."
No, when people asked me how I could stay for so long when I knew it
was abusive, that's a loaded question. I didn't know it any more than
the abused woman knew it. I kept telling myself that they really are
okay, that it must be my fault, that it is being done to help me and
things really will get better. I carried that attitude right into the
RPF until one day I broke and decided to escape. Then they talked me
back and I was convinced that it would get better. All they did was
back up the gradient to where I would accept the control.
That is another place where I find that the "mind control/brainwashing"
models break down. It is crucial in cult control that the person feel
in control and in fact IS "in control." One is always making
the decision to stay. To that degree, it is "consensual."
But how "consensual" is the abused woman? Just because she
has the freedom to drive to the store and back and no one is keeping
her in chains, does that mean she is "consenting" to her situation?
Can the husband argue that he isn't "controlling" her because
she has that freedom? Then what IS "consent"? That may be
a legal quandary as much as a psychological one but I don't think we
are ready to walk away from the woman being beaten, saying she is "consenting
to it," are we?
Thanks to video cameras, we can watch shows like "Cops" where
the police are called out to a real life "domestic disturbance."
If you have watched that show enough, you finally saw the all-too-familiar
scene of the woman with a bloody nose who has clearly been beaten (the
cops were called by neighbors hearing the fight) and is standing there
explaining it all away, insisting that the police take no action. No,
she's fine, she says. No, it's nothing. To the questions from the police
about the bloody nose or the swelling around the eyes, she'll say anything
but the facts, that he was beating her. Do we need more evidence? There
are the very people -- the police -- who can take him off to jail and
end the abuse if she will simply speak up and she refuses while wiping
the blood from her nose or pulling the torn clothing up around her shoulder
and telling them that everything is okay. Of course, the police cannot
legally intervene unless she complains and she will not.
Now let me make a harrowing admission. If the police had shown up that
day when I was at the motel trying to escape, when the security guards
were parked outside to make sure I didn't disappear on them, and if
the police had asked me if everything was okay or if I needed any help,
do you know what I would have said and done? The same thing as that
woman. No, it's fine, I would have said. I'll handle it. It stuns me
to think it, let alone say it right now, but that is the truth. That
is exactly what I would have done. And do you know why? Because I didn't
want to be in trouble with the cult. If you can figure that one out,
give it to the experts.
That is why people who flee the cult -- even into the arms of the authorities
-- can be talked back. They can no more say "help me" than
the woman standing there with a bloody nose can tell the police. Give
them a few days rest and time to get their wits about them and maybe
they can. That is why those first few hours or days are crucial. The
more time the person gets away from the person suppressing them, the
more they recover their own sense of self. That, of course, infuriates
the abuser, until he/they finally give up and look for their next victim.
Meanwhile, some degree of control remains until the person finally sheds
And don't think that all abused women are abused physically. The abuse
might be merely verbal, with other controls like control of money, sleep,
clothing, friends, beliefs, free time etc. (Gee, sound familiar?)
Now if one were interested in studying the "abused woman"
syndrome, who would one study? This may sound like a ridiculous question
but it goes to a point the cult is making.
First of all, one has to decide if such women exist. (This may sound
like I'm contradicting myself but hang on.) How does one decide? The
obvious answer would seem to be the stories of women themselves. But
can we believe them? Maybe they are making it up. So let's ignore them
for the moment and go to marriages/relationships and ask the women,
are you abused? Let's ask the men, are you abusing this woman? What
sort of answer will we get? Done in this way, we can conclusively "prove"
that there are no abused women because all of the women -- including
the ones with the bloody noses -- will deny it as will the men. Case
closed. No woman is abused.
That is exactly what the cult is doing. They are saying that those
who have left and claim abuse are "apostates" (one who has
abandoned one's belief or cause) and can't be believed. (They even paid
some "experts" to "conclude" this.) Meanwhile, they
will suggest, all you have to do is ask Scientologists if they feel
abused. In fact, you can even go into the RPF and ask and chances are
(unless there is one rocky one who will be quickly stashed somewhere
else) they will respond to the man and woman that they are not being
abused. Case closed. No one is abused.
In other words, as long as we listen to someone who has abandoned a
belief or a cause (from a marriage to a "religion") cannot
And that is one of the reasons why abused women were not believed until
just a few years ago. Think on that. Women have been abused for thousands
of years and it wasn't until a few years ago that it was even admitted
that it happened and that something should be done about it. How many
women went to the police and were turned away or were killed or destroyed
before someone believed them? How many have simply fled and disappeared
and are still too ashamed to talk, preferring to just live quiet lives
where they can choose their own friends, have their own bank accounts,
pick their own meals, select their own clothes, keep private diaries
and not have to answer or explain themselves again? Can anyone imagine
what a joy that is to a person whose life was controlled down to the
point of what it was they could say or believe, where their very thoughts
and opinions were monitored, that they can now forget it? How many women
are out there? Compare that to how many go to the authorities or champion
the cause of abused women and take it to the media and the courts. How
many of THOSE are there? Three? Five? Ten? Should these "apostates"
How many ex-cult members are there? How many have of them have spoken
out? Three? Five? Ten? Should these "apostates" be believed?
I think there are many, many reasons to draw a parallel between the
two groups not only in their situation but in those who speak out and
I hope that this might spark some interest within some professional
circle. I'm no more an "expert" on sociological parallels
than that woman with the bloody nose is an expert but we do have a level
Robert Vaughn Young
Copyright (c) Robert Vaughn Young
All Rights Reserved
A SAD FOOTNOTE
On a sad footnote, Robert Young is presently wrestling with stage 4
prostrate cancer. In a letter that was posted February 19th to the alt.religious.scientology
newsgroup, Young described his struggle with cancer and also indicated
that he would dedicate the remainder of his life to the issue of prostate
cancer. According to Young, "I would prefer that my legacy be whatever
contribution I can make to help other men with prostate cancer than
all of these declarations and media interviews about Scientology."
What follows are a few poignant excerpts from Young's February 19th
"I was diagnosed on 11/23/99 with an 'advanced and aggressive'
prostate cancer that has metastasized to the bones. It is called Phase
D or 'end stage' or just plain old 'terminal.' No prognosis has been
given or is really possible and when metastasized, surgery is out of
the question. There is no 'cure' at Phase D. Hence, end stage or terminal.
"So what I'm going to do is retire as an 'expert' in legal cases
or in giving media interviews. I have other things more important to
"Being diagnosed with a terminal disease can be devastating or
a blessing. From a lot of reading that I've done from others similarly
situated, I've seen both. For me, it's been both but it's moved on to
the blessing. There is an exhilarating perspective to be gained from
sitting on the cusp of life. It is like climbing out of and sitting
above the fracas and noise and distractions and wondering, I was doing
what? (laugh) I was thinking WHAT was important? (laughing again)
"That sort of perspective. (smile)
"One could say it's a hell of a price to pay for 20/20 vision
and they are right. But in many ways, it is well worth it. I've read
stories and articles by others with terminal diseases that actually
said they wouldn't trade it. They wouldn't take a cure of the disease
if it meant losing that clarity and insight. That's sort of the way
I've come to see it. Not all would agree. But some would.
"It also produces a better sense of one's priorities. When you
realize that your time is truly limited, you don't waste it with hate
and rancor. (Hmmm, wonder if a feeling of immortality lets one hate
more. Interesting thought.) I've had a good chance to look back on my
life and what I've done and what's been done to me and I don't have
time for either regret or bitterness. It is what it is and what is important
is what will be."
"I've enjoyed my work and my visits to ARS. I've enjoyed my opportunity
to express my views and experiences and to help people understand the
Scientology-experience. It sort of helped to balance what I did in my
21 years in Scientology. I especially remember the times when someone
would come up to me (this was back in my San Francisco days in the early
70s) and say they wanted to thank me for getting them into Scientology,
usually from some radio show that I did. I just don't know how many
people I brought in or how many of them ended up working in Dept. 20/RTC
to 'dead agent' me. I really wish I could tell those people today that
if they listened to me then, I wish they would listen to me now. Maybe
what I did in the last years was my way of trying to reach them.
"Maybe it's the attitude that I've gained having terminal cancer
but I know I've mellowed considerably about these people. I know which
ones high-fived on hearing about my diagnosis. I just feel sorry for
them that they have to live that way, praying for the demise or death
of someone deemed an 'enemy.' That's no way to run a 'religion.' I pray
that they get a new perspective on the value of people and life in an
easier way than I have."
NHNE has examined a variety of cult-like organizations and messianic
messengers over the years. An update called "False Prophets &
'Scum Bag Gurus'" outlines a few of the dubious individuals and
organizations we have taken a look at:
Other important references include:
Freeedom of Mind Website:
Scientology Section on the Freedom of Mind Website:
Steven Hassan's new book:
"Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves"
David Sunfellow, Founder & Publisher
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