My son is pleased that he had an opportunity to be informed about facts relating to the CofS and that he was then able to make an informed decision. The CofS had access to my son after his counselling and made every effort to make him return to the CofS (he paid almost $30,000.00 in courses and interest) but once he had access to all available information he chose to remain free of their influence.
I would be pleased to hear from the CofS about what actions they recommend to a family that is concerned about a loved one's membership of the CofS. Please keep in mind that my son was recruited in the street and asked if he wished to do an IQ test and he was then promised a cure for his allergies. We should not underestimate the power of hypnosis and mind control used by the CofS.
The first meeting lasted for six to eight hours at which point I left to go to work for a few hours & then home (I was not living with my parents). After work on Friday I went back to my parents place to meet with the counsellors & my family again. I spent Friday night at my parents house. On Saturday morning we continued the counselling/discussions. For me this day was full of many startling revelations about L Ron Hubbard & the Church of Scientology. My counsellors had a large amount of information about the Church, most of it was written but some on video also. Most of Sunday was spent reading this material. After everybody else present had gone to bed for the night on Saturday I continued reading. I read right through the night & finally went to bed at about 7am on Sunday morning, probably not long before the others were due to be waking up. I have always been a bit of a night owl. On Sunday I got up early in the afternoon. Scientology was discussed for a few more hours. I left early in the evening as I wanted to go home & prepare for the working week ahead. On the Monday evening, after work, I went to meet with my counsellors for the last time (they were flying back to America on Tuesday morning), to talk some more, ask questions & see some more of the documentation they had with them.
My exit counselling sessions took place over a period of five days. I took part in these meetings because I chose to, there was no force (physical or psychological) involved, much less kidnapping. When it was convenient for me to stay over at my parents place, I did (Friday & Saturday nights) and when it was not convenient, I didn't (Thursday, Sunday & Monday nights). I was free to come and go from the presence of my exit counsellors, my parents and everybody else for that matter & I did come & go as it suited me.
During this period I ate well, particularly when at my parents' place. My parents served up meals with unusually large quantities of food and there were usually between meal snacks available. The food supply was perhaps a little overdone, the point being that starvation was not some sort of tactic used against me. In short, there was lots of food.
When I get tired the first thing to go is my ability to read written information. I don't read well when I am tired. During the meetings with my counsellors & family much of the information present to was in written form, when I felt I wasn't absorbing the information well enough I would call it a night. On some days I stopped the meeting even earlier because I didn't want to go late and affect my day at work the following day. I did not suffer from sleep deprivation either by my own actions or due to the influence of another.
Some groups portray exit counselling or 'deprogramming' as it is sometimes called) as a barbaric act against an individual. The sole purpose of the claimed actions being to 'break the faith' of an individual. Claims of kidnapping, beatings, food deprivation, sleep deprivation, psychological abuse and even rape have been made. I tend to laugh when I hear these claims made, for in my experience they are simply false. The Church of Scientology holds the view (& has stated it publicly) that I was 'deprogrammed'. Such a claim, by the Church's own definition, claims that I was subjected to a list of barbaric acts, yet this is not the case. My exit counselling was basically the open discussion of Scientology & L Ron Hubbard & the presentation of information I was unaware of. Much of the time taken was with me reading information (that was new to me) about the church of Scientology. Incidentally, such a discussion could not have taken place within the church as the expression of a negative view on any aspect of Scientology is defined, by Scientology, to be "natter" & it is treated as unacceptable; as such it is quickly & methodically silenced.
I find it amusing when I hear the Church persist in making its claims about the violent & barbaric nature of what it terms 'deprogramming'. The Church continues to claim that I was deprogrammed even though I have informed it that no such barbaric acts took place & even outlined roughly what in fact had occurred. It seems to suit the Church to ignore my account of events, even though I was there and well placed to know the facts of what did and did not take place. The Church has chosen to ignore my account of events & to adopt the view it prefers to hold. To hold this view it is forced to ignore any facts that run contrary to its adopted view. The amusement I mentioned earlier comes about when I look at what the Church claims, look at what I know to be true, see the false nature of the Church's claims & I am then left looking at an organisation that is, at best, making false claims. From there I reason that the organisation either believes its claims to be true or has a vested interest in having other people believe these claims. It is my opinion that the latter is the case; the serious nature of the claims is an indication of just how desperate how the Church is to have the general public adopt a negative impression of exit counselling & those that practice it.
When confronted with any sort of negative criticism of Scientology a Scientologist will typically fail to confront the substance of the criticism but instead moves to discover the source of the criticism. Criticism is seen as proof of a sick or evil mind at work spreading such evil information (this thinking is based on the reasoning given above) the criticism is usually not evaluated as to whether it is true or false and what the implications are. Instead the typical Scientologist will somehow attempt to discredit the source of the information.
Once a person has adopted enough of the Scientology belief system his or her ability to objectively evaluate a criticism (& I mean factually based stuff that should be of concern such as the fact that L Ron Hubbard suffered from allergy troubles which Dianetic procedure had failed to treat) levelled at Scientology is short circuited by the 'appropriate handling' of criticism as briefly outlined above.
It is very difficult to discuss any negative aspect of Scientology with a Scientologist. For a person who doesn't understand how a Scientologist thinks this task is next to impossible, just ask anybody who has stood by helplessly watching a friend getting the wool pulled over his eyes by the Church. Most people in the unfortunate position of seeing a person they care for being 'taken in' sense that something is wrong; they know from experience that it is difficult to communicate openly with a Scientologist about issues surrounding the Church; with every failed attempt the Scientologist becomes more distant. Most people in this situation know something is badly wrong, they just don't understand the phenomenon well enough to deal with it.
The main task of an exit counsellor is to get a Scientologist, or any Cult member for that matter, to evaluate information about the group they are involved in an objective manner. It is up to the individual to study the material & to reach his own conclusion. It is my opinion that, with the exception of a small few, all Scientologists once acquainted with the facts surrounding the Church of Scientology would decide that the pro's are far outweighed by the con's and leave. I suppose that is why it is called exit counselling; arguably it's not even that, the exit counsellor only has to deal with the thought stopping technique I had adopted; I chose to set aside on the grounds that I concluded that it was an unobjective way to deal with information. After all, if something is true, denying it won't alter the truth, it will just move you that bit away from reality. It sounds simple but it is easy to fall into the trap of believing something because we want to, not because the evidence warrants it.
When my exit counsellors left I still wasn't convinced one way or the other about Scientology; I did however have a healthy appetite for information about it & started reading on the subject & took time to evaluate what I had learned. About two or three weeks later I told the Church I had decided to discontinue my membership & I wanted the money I had donated (the Church gives a money back if not satisfied guarantee in its sales pitch). The events that occurred from that point on are another story. The Church acted in a way to demonstrate yet again to demonstrate that money then its image were more important than any other considerations. It was and is a truly self serving mechanism, just the way L Ron Hubbard built it.