Excerpted from Leah Remini: Scientology & The Aftermath (Season 1, Episode 9)
[Scene: Aftermath studio. Seated behind “guest” sofa: Bryan Seymour, Mark Ebner, Janet Reitman. On sofa: Ford Greene, Stephen Kent, Len Zinberg. Leah Remini (LR) and Mike Rinder (MR) seated in chairs opposite sofa.]
LR: We’re back.
MR: We’re back. And we have– we are joined by three more distinguished guests. This is Len Zinberg, who was formerly in the Guardian’s Office. Ford Greene, who represented a number of litigants against Scientology and has lived to tell the tale. And Professor Steven Kent, who is a professor of the University of Alberta and perhaps has the largest collection of Scientology materials on Planet Earth.
LR: So I wanted to ask you, because you’re not a Scientologist. How did you get onto the subject of Scientology?
Steve Kent (SK): I did my dissertation on 17th century sectarian groups in England.
LR: Oh! Makes sense.
MR: Of course!
SK: There’s a connection though. I had been following the, the current academic literature about sects, cults, and new religions. Scientology had been in the news in 1983.
[Scene: Toronto Police Raid Scientology Offices
March 3, 1983]
SK: There was a huge raid in Toronto against Scientology Org.
I put it into a research grant, and I got the grant. And I started, this is before the Internet, this is mid-1980s. Went to newspaper articles. Um, found names of people who had got mentioned in the articles, called them up.
SK: There was a deep network of people in various countries. Ah, they had family members in, ah, they were afraid of retaliation, and so on. And they were afraid to speak.
SK: But once they found an outsider, who, who they could trust, information started pouring in. Documents. People telling me stories. And I’d say, “Can you back that up?”
And sometimes they’d get up and walk into a room, another room and pull out a document for me.
[Scene: photo of Steve Kent’s Research Archive
University of Alberta]
SK: So that’s how the collection started to build up. People started giving me documents.
In fact, this is one. A manual called Brainwashing, published as a public service in the Hubbard College of Scientology.2
In 1955, Hubbard was thinking about these issues.
So Hubbard was considering issues about manipulation and control for decades that became the whole foundation for the major aggressive Scientology organizations that Hubbard developed.
One of the issues for me as a social scientist is to try to figure out how smart intelligent people have gotten drawn into this program. Well, I think the answer is in part through auditing. What Scientology does is say, “Tell me something that’s bothering you in your life.”
[Scene: Scientology promotional video
Auditing environment, E-meter.]
People self-identify their problems at first. And when they go through auditing, the auditor is trained not to judge. So a person may be revealing a deep secret. And if they’re on the E-meter, they get told, “Oh, this device says that the negative effects of that event no longer hold sway over you.” Hence people have these good positive visual effects. They feel a release. They’ve told their secrets. And then they say, “You think that was good. Do it some more.”
SK: And that’s the hook. But as people are one by one identifying the issues that affected them in their past, they’re losing the foundation of a personal morality. We need the bad events in our lives to know what’s right.
SK: We need something about what we’ve done to other people. Auditing one by one by one by one takes away those negative events and tells us it no longer holds sway over us.
SK: And then at the same time people are getting initiated into the Scientology ethics system.
LR: Well how would you describe what the ethics system is in Scientology?
SK: Um, the ethics system is designed to first eliminate opponents to Scientology. And then having done so it’s then to eliminate all interests that are not involved with Scientology.3
SK: And so auditing eliminates their, their moral foundations. And then the new moral foundation (air quotes) is to push Scientology ahead. Which is based upon the worldview of Hubbard.
The big question was, “What drove Hubbard?” What was behind his motivation? The best explanation from my perspective was that he was a malignant narcissist.
SK: In the case of [ ] this means a person who aggressively attacks ah, people who criticize them.
SK: Each time somebody came after him, an organization, newspaper, so on, he reacted often by, by policies. And so he established a fair game policy. Fair game policy is essentially “destroy your opponents.”
LR (ironically): But you know that that’s been cancelled, right? Right, Bryan Seymour?
BS: Yeah, it was canceled (cross talk) …fair gamed me…
LR: Right, Mark Ebner? It’s been–
Right, Mike Rinder?
MR: It’s gone.
LR: You weren’t engaged in any fair gaming of anyone?
MR (joking): Me?! Not me.
LR: Oh, okay. I just wanted–
ME: Why don’t you ask the private investigator that followed me here?
LR: Right, exactly. Right.
ME: Yeah, it’s canceled.
SK: Well Hubbard devised fair game to go after reporters, the Guardian Office to attack and silence and punish critics. Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights to go after the mental health community. So the goal was to get rid of opponents, and then get rid of all other interests.
SK: So the interpretative framework for Hubbard and the paramilitary organization he established, from my perspective, came out of malignant narcissism.4