The Use of Mind Control in Scientology

Monica Pignotti, MSW, CSW
Cult Intervention Specialist
and Former Scientologist


The purpose of this paper is to show how mind control is used in Scientology. In order to do this, I have used the four components of mind control from Steve Hassan's Combatting Cult Mind Control: Behavior control, Emotional control, Thought control and Information control and have given examples of how Scientology uses each of these. I am assuming that the reader of this paper has read and is familiar with the concepts outlined in this book.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive study of mind control techniques in Scientology, as that could fill an entire book! This is just to give you a start in getting an understanding of how mind control is used at the very beginning levels of Scientology. If a person gets more deeply involved, for instance, and gets into auditing, joins staff and/or does advanced courses, there is much more. I will be writing papers to deal with these issues. The techniques I discuss here, however, have proved quite sufficient, unfortunately, to get many people hooked into Scientology.

"If you change a person's behavior, his thoughts and feelings will change to minimize the dissonance" -- Leon Festinger. This theory is described in detail on page 59 of Combatting Cult Mind Control. In addition, Steve Hassan added a fourth component, control of information. Scientology, very definitely, controls all four.

The Scientology Registrar - The job of the registrar in Scientology is to use high pressure sales tactics to sign people up for courses. This is especially true for front groups, such as Sterling Management, Singer and numerous others. Once the registrar gets the person into his/her office, the person is not allowed to leave until he/she has signed up for a course and paid. If the person says, "I'd like time to think this over", this is not allowed. The staff at Sterling is told that the person should not be allowed to "think" about it because that would give his "reactive mind" a chance to take over and so they must pay immediately. I have personally talked to many people who have been held for hours in the registrars office, sometimes all night, until out of sheer exhaustion, they gave in. For further details, see Robert Geary, DDS's video or audio tape at the 1990 CAN Conference (available from CAN National) and the Sally Jessy Raphael show of July 9, 1991.

Routing Forms - Once a person has signed up for the course, he is given a sheet of paper called a routing form. The routing form ensures that there is a staff member with him every step of the way, from signing up for the course, paying for it, actually taking the course, writing a "success story" and then being sent back to the registrar to sign up for the next course. Thus, the cycle of paying for courses, taking them and signing up and paying for the next one continues, never giving the person a chance to get away and think about it. Scientology insiders refer to this process as "body routing" and call potential new converts "raw meat", indicating that a person, before Scientology is seen simply as an object to be manipulated. There is even a department in the Scientology organizational structure called the "Department of Body Routing". If a person, for any reason, does not want to continue to be "body routed" and does not want to go onto the next course or level of auditing, this is considered unacceptable and the person is pressured into signing up for a "repair" session and pressured until they agree to go on.

TR's and Objectives - These indoctrination processes are very important to know about as they are classic examples of how a change in a person's behavior can affect a change in the person's thoughts, emotions and how they process information. The person is told that the TRs will increase his ability to communicate, not that the TRs are hypnotic, trance-inducing techniques that will make him more vulnerable to any material they are exposed to in the Scientology courseroom, thereafter.

I am well aware that there are former Scientologists that would take issue with me on this point and say that they gained a great deal from doing TRs. To these people I would say that whatever positive benefits they received from doing TRs, I am not trying to take these away from you or make less of them. I have learned the hard way that things are not black or white and nothing is totally negative or positive. I would agree that we have all, myself included, had certain benefits from our experiences in the cult and recognizing these is an important part of our recovery. What I would ask of anyone who has this objection to what I am saying about TRs, is to look at what I am saying about TRs in the context of a mind control environment. TRs are just one of a combination of many mind control techniques used to control minds, but I think they do make a very significant contribution to the indoctrination of every Scientologist, regardless of any other benefits that were gained.

The first TR, called TR-0, instructs the indoctrinee to sit in a chair across from a partner, first with eyes closed and later with eyes open, and "just be there". This is done for at least 2 hours, often more. At one time in my involvement, I was doing TR-0 for up to 12 hours a day. When doing TR-0 the person is not allowed to physically move, smile, talk or have any expression whatsoever. The process is very hypnotic, as one of the easiest ways to go into a trance state is to hold your eyes in a fixed position.

The next step is TR-0 "bullbaiting" where the partner says things to the indoctrinee to get them to react. This is called finding a person's "buttons". When the person does react, he is told "flunk" and what he did to flunk and then the phrase that got him to react is repeated until the person no longer reacts. This is very effective as a behavior control method to get the person to blank out when someone starts saying negative things about Scientology.

Next are TRs 1 and 2 where lines from Alice in Wonderland are read. Why Alice in Wonderland? Think about it for a minute. What sort of associations does Alice in Wonderland bring up for you? It is certainly a book that most of us read in childhood and would therefore be very effective in age regressing the person, making one more easy to manipulate.

TRs 3 and 4 teach the person how to persist in repeating a question until they get an answer, thus, keeping their mind on one straight and narrow track. There are more TRs (ironically, Hubbard himself called these TRs the "Upper Indoctrination TRs"), which include commanding an ashtray to "stand up" and "sit down on that chair", but TRs 0-4 are the ones done most often.

After TRs comes "objectives". The purpose of objectives is to get the person to passively accept being controlled. For example, in one process, the person is given the commands by the auditor: "Look at that wall" "Walk over to that wall" "Touch that wall" "Turn around", done repetitively for hours at a time. If the person does not comply, the auditor physically escorts the person through the process. Typically, a person being put through this process goes through anger and other emotions about being controlled until finally they give in and comply. By that time, the person is in a trance state and feels euphoric, praising the auditor and the process.

TRs and objectives are a basic requirement that anyone doing Scientology must go through, thus laying a solid foundation for further indoctrination.


This is a very major way in which Scientology controls its members' behavior. Scientology's "ethics" system is very complex and is described in detail in Chapter 4 of A Piece of Blue Sky by Jon Atack, which is a must for anyone to read who wants to know more about what really goes on in Scientology. Scientology "ethics" is actually a very sophisticated behavior modification system. Every Scientologist has an ethics condition assigned to them, dependent upon their production statistics. For instance, a student would be assigned points for getting through various parts of a course and the more points, the higher his/her statistic would be. If the person is being a "good" Scientologist and has high statistics, he/she is assigned an upper ethics condition such as "Normal", "Affluence" or "Power" and given certain privileges and rewards. If the person's statistics are down, however, lower ethics conditions are assigned and strict penalties applied. If someone becomes rebellious against the system or is having doubts and wants to leave, they would be assigned a lower condition and have to do a given number of hours of amends work, which is usually done during the person's sleep time. Depriving a person of sleep is a very effective way to make someone vulnerable and malleable to more mind control.

Phobia Indoctrination (See Combatting Cult Mind Control for a full description about what phobia indoctrination is).

"You are threatening somebody with oblivion for eternity by expulsion from Scientology."
-- L. Ron Hubbard, Introduction to Scientology Ethics, p.156-7

The ultimate fear of every indoctrinated Scientologist is getting thrown out of Scientology and declared "Suppressive". The writings of L. Ron Hubbard abound with stories of people getting ill, going insane or dying after leaving Scientology. Recently, for example, there was a woman who left Scientology and contracted Multiple Sclerosis. Because of the phobia indoctrination she had been subjected to, she returned to Scientology because she believed she had gotten this illness because she left.

The world outside of Scientology is called the "Wog" world and non-Scientologists are known as "Wogs" (Worthy Oriental Gentleman), a word that was originally used as a racial slur against orientals and that Hubbard adapted as a slur against any outsider. Hubbard described in one policy letter any practice other than Scientology only leading to further "darkness and misery". The Scientologist stays and puts up with all forms of "ethics" abuse because he/she has been indoctrinated to believe that whatever punishment being meted out to them is nothing compared to what they will suffer if they are cast out of Scientology.

Scientologists are given phobias of talking to former members and/or exit counselors and are given pamphlets to read that say how they will be taken by force, drugged, raped and physically abused by "deprogrammers". People I have counseled have been very surprised when none of this happened. Understanding the concept of phobia indoctrination is crucial for anyone who is being exit-counseled.

The Secret Upper Levels

The levels above "clear", called the OT levels, are confidential and today are kept under strict high-tech security systems. The new Scientologist is told that these levels are so powerful, that if a person sees them who is "not ready" to, they will get sick, go insane, or even die. They are also told that these levels contain the secrets of the universe and will make them into an all-powerful "operating thetan" with god-like abilities.

If a person is not getting what they wanted to get on the lower levels, they are continuously being told that their "case" will be solved by the "next levels", which are held out as a successive series of carrots, getting the person to spend more and more money and invest more and more time, locking them into an addictive pattern very difficult to break free of. The other reason that people are not told the truth about the content of the upper levels is that if any unindoctrinated person saw them, they would most likely laugh it off as bad science fiction.

Finding a person's "Ruin" and the OCA Personality Test

One major method of emotional control that is used to recruit people is a method that L. Ron Hubbard called finding a person's "ruin". This means finding that thing in a person's life that they feel is ruining their life and must be changed. If the person doesn't feel that anything is ruining their life, then some issue that the person is dealing with must be blown out of proportion until the person is convinced that it will ruin their life unless dealt with. One tool for finding and inventing ruins is the "personality test" they give called the Oxford Capacity Analysis (a test that was made up by the Scientologists, not a legitimate psychological test, in spite of the fancy name. Ask them for the reliability and validation studies and see what their response is!) After the prospective convert takes this "test", they are sent in to see a registrar who tells that person where their "weaknesses" are -- this usually gets the person talking and eventually leads to the discovery of what their "ruin" is. The registrar then takes advantage of this by telling the person that if something is not done about this, it will only get worse and eventually ruin their life and that Scientology or Dianetics has the answer. The person is then pressured into buying a course or auditing and becomes hooked.

Another way in which people get emotionally hooked is by paying exorbitant prices, up front for auditing and courses. Once a person has spent that kind of money, they will be very reluctant to admit that they may have made a mistake and will not want to hear anything "negative" about Scientology.

The Tone Scale

The tone scale is a system by which Hubbard assigned each emotion a number, thus rating them on a scale from minus 40 to 40. Death, for instance, is represented by zero, anger at 1.5, enthusiasm at 4.0, serenity at 40. He said that auditing will bring a person up to the upper levels of the tone scale. People who don't like Scientology are accused of being "low toned" individuals and auditing, people are constantly being told, will bring people to higher tone levels. It is considered very undesirable to be "low toned" and emotions, such as anger, sadness or fear are often repressed because the person doesn't want to be labeled as low-toned. What people in Scientology fail to recognize, however, that anger is a much more positive and appropriate reaction to the cruel and unusual practices of Scientology than "enthusiasm", regardless of what number anyone cares to attach to it.

Loaded Language is a term coined by Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a psychiatrist who did extensive studies on the thought reform techniques used by the communists on Chinese prisoners. Of all the cults in existence today, Scientology has one of the most complex systems of loaded language. If an outsider were to hear two Scientologists conversing, they probably wouldn't be able to understand what was being said. Loaded language is words or catch phrases that short-circuits a person's ability to think. For instance, all information that is opposed to Scientology, such as what I am writing here, is labelled by Scientologists as "entheta" (enturbulated theta - "enturbulated" meaning chaotic, confused and "theta" being the Scientology term for spirit). Thus, if a Scientologist is confronted with some information that opposes Scientology, the word "entheta" immediately comes into his mind and he/she will not examine the information and think critically about it because the word "entheta" has short-circuited the person's ability to do so. This is just one example, of many, many Scientology terms.

Thought Stopping Techniques (See Combatting Cult Mind Control)

TRs, particularly TR-0 bullbaiting that I described earlier, is a very powerful thought stopping technique. This is what creates the well-known Scientology "stare", what Hubbard called a "fixed, dedicated glare". When critical information is being presented, all the Scientologist has to do is go into the altered trance state created by TR-0 and all critical thinking will instantly be shut off. In cases where a Scientologist is known to have a relative or friend who is critical of Scientology, they will even bullbait that person on all the negative things that person will say, such as the fact that Scientology is a cult, until the person can sit through it with no reaction.

Another way that critical thinking about Scientology is stopped dead in its tracks is by telling the person that a critical thought indicates that the person has sinned against the group. These sins are called, in Scientologese, "Overts" and the withholding of an overt is called a "withhold". If a person gets critical or wants to leave, they are subjected to endless interrogations called "security checks" where the person is made to confess their overts and withholds. It soon becomes easier for the person not to have critical thoughts in the first place, so they don't have to go through these security checks, which can get very unpleasant.

Scientology "Study Tech"

The major premise of the Scientology study techniques is that there is no legitimate reason to disagree with anything written by L. Ron Hubbard. If a person on a course has a disagreement, they are immediately referred back to the materials to find what word they have "misunderstood". Anyone who no longer wishes to continue on a course is also said to have misunderstood words that must be found and "cleared". Thus, there is no legitimate reason, according to Scientologists to disagree or to want to leave and anyone who does is forced to internalize the blame within themselves.

No verbal discussions of the course materials among students or with the supervisor is allowed. If the student has a question, all the supervisor is allowed to do is to say "What do your materials state" and to find "misunderstood words". This gives the students no opportunity to get any feedback whether other students are experiencing the same doubts they might be experiencing themselves. The whole course environment is very tightly controlled.

The Key to Life and Life Orientation Courses

These are relatively new courses that came out in 1990 and contain, in my opinion, the most powerful indoctrination techniques used to date, as they re-program the way a person uses language. These courses are now a required part of the Scientology program and are done early on. The Key to Life Course costs around $8,000.

On the Key to Life Course, the person is basically age regressed to a very early stage of their learning. All outside reading material and language are taken away from the person and they are given picture books and clay. They are then told to demonstrate key words in clay. The clay demo must be done until the person has the realization that the materials say that they must have. Sometimes a person can be on the same clay demo for days at a time and the people I've talked to who have been through it have found it a very frustrating experience. When words are introduced, only Scientology-approved dictionaries are used to look them up in. This course tears down the person's earlier learning and replaces it with Scientology indoctrination. On the next course, called the "Life Orientation Course" the person is supposed to come up with their new Scientology life's purpose, thus completing the indoctrination process and creating a very solid cult identity.

Deception and the Withholding of Information

As with all cults, Scientology has its insider and its outsider doctrine. Outsiders are only told what they can easily accept and potential recruits are not told the truth about the real doctrine of Scientology. Hubbard justified this by saying that people must be told things on a "gradient" to learn properly, otherwise they would simply be overwhelmed by concepts that are too advanced for their comprehension and quit. The following are some of the major ways in which the newcomer is deceived and deprived of vital information:

- Scientology believes, for instance, that we are possessed by hundreds of spirits that live in our bodies, called body thetans, but the Scientologists are not told about this until they have spent many thousands of dollars and gone through heavy indoctrination. There are many staff members I know of who have been in for over 15 years that still don't know about this particular belief.

- Scientology tells newcomers that it is completely compatible with all religions, yet in Hubbard's writing on advanced levels, he says that "virtually all religions of any consequence on this planet" will "bring about the eventual enslavement of all mankind".

- Scientologists are not told that there is a division within the organization called the Guardian's Office, renamed the Office of Special Affairs that participates in illegal activities and trains its members to lie.

- L. Ron Hubbard was a pathological liar, as has been very well documented in court trials that exposed his lies in his biography, the details of which can be found in Barefaced Messiah by Russell Miller and A Piece of Blue Sky.

- In Dianetics Modern Science of Mental Health, Hubbard misrepresents Dianetics as a Science that has been carefully researched and scientifically proven, when the truth is that he wrote the book in six weeks, off the top of his head.

- People are recruited into Scientology through front groups such as Sterling Management, Singer, Hollander and many others who deny any connection with Scientology and target professionals such as dentists, chiropracters, optometrists and others, saying that they just use some of the management techniques of Hubbard, when their whole purpose is to recruit people into Scientology. All of these business management groups come under a part of Scientology known as W.I.S.E. (World Institute of Scientology Enterprises), which is listed as being under the Flag Command Bureaux, in "The Command Channels of Scientology", a booklet put out by Scientology for its staff members to read. Recruits coming in under these front groups, however, have no idea about this connection and think that they are taking courses that will help them to improve their business.

These are just a few examples of the deception and withholding of information that Scientology engages in.

No Other Practices Allowed

When someone is getting audited or doing Scientology, they are not allowed to engage in "other practices" and thus are denied access to any information that anything outside Scientology has to offer. These "other practices" include being in any kind of psychotherapy, psychiatric treatment, meditation or visualization techniques, yoga classes or self-improvement courses. This greatly narrows the persons' perspective and soon the person comes to believe that the Scientology "tech" is all that there is.

Information Overload

When a person is on a Scientology course full time, the hours are very long -- usually from around 8:30 AM until 10:30 PM, where the person is exposed to endless Scientology tapes, writings of Hubbard and other Scientology indoctrination techniques with very little time for breaks. If a person is working a nine to five job, they spend their evenings and weekends on course part time. This is just as bad, because the person still has no time to rest. This overloads the person's mind with information since the mind can only handle a certain amount of information at one time. The overload will cause the person to blank out and go into a non-critical trance state where they will just uncritically soak up the information like a sponge.

Forbidding Members to Read Critical Information

A recent example of this was in May, 1991 when the TIME magazine article came out, meetings were called in Scientology organizations throughout the country, where members were told not to read the TIME article because it's "entheta" (remember the loaded language?). They were then given copies of Scientology's 80-page "rebuttal" and no one questioned how the rebuttal would make any sense to someone who hadn't even read the article in the first place!

Anyone who writes articles, books or speaks out against Scientology is, in the eyes of Scientologists, a depraved, psychotic and "fair game" for attacks. If a Scientologist's concerned relative showed their loved one a critical article and the person went back to Scientology and asked about it, they would be given the standard line that the article was written by a criminal and that it was all lies.

Scientology is a cult that not only succeeded in controlling information among its members but also information in the media much of the time because of their incessant threats of law suits to anyone who wants to write or speak out against them. Scientology is a very wealthy business that can afford to drain its opponents financially with lawsuits and has done so on numerous occasions. Fortunately, in the past few months because of courageous journalists such as Richard Behar, the media is becoming much more willing to expose the truth about this cult than ever before.

Once again, I want to emphasize that this is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all of the mind control techniques used in Scientology. This is just to give you a start in understanding how mind control is used in Scientology. I eventually plan to do a more extensive paper on this subject.

For further information contact:
Monica Pignotti
250 West 57th St., Suite 1517-75
New York, NY 10107