The Casualty Contact
Chris Owen

L. Ron Hubbard was a brilliant salesman. That fact is undeniable: the bizarreness, paranoia and scientific improbability of Scientology has not deterred a total of probably tens of millions of people worldwide from taking its courses and buying Hubbard's books over the last 40 years. In fact, if the Church of Scientology did not have such a poor public image as a result of its abuses, it would probably be far more successful than it is presently.

As I have outlined in the first two articles of this series, some of the methods of recruitment used by the Church have been distinctly dubious. Few can have been more reprehensible than that which Hubbard referred to as "the Casualty Contact". The very fact that it was - and may still be - used in the first place gives a revealing insight into the sort of morality and conduct which Hubbard brought into the Church.

Hubbard always claimed that he had found techniques to cure a great number of illnesses. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health has been promoted since he wrote it in 1950 as curing

"Psychosomatic ills such as arthritis, migraine, ulcers, allergies, asthma, coronary difficulties (psychosomatic - about one-third of all heart trouble cases), tendonitis, bursitis, paralysis (hysterical), eye trouble (non-pathological) have all responded .... without failure"
A recent (1995) leaflet distributed by the CoS claims that Dianetics cures "70 percent of Man's illnesses". The CoS has also claimed that Scientology does not directly cure illnesses, but instead takes the rather coy line that auditing is, in effect, a catalyst to the individual curing himself. "What Is Scientology?" (1978 edition), for instance, says:
"Scientology is not in the business of curing things. Auditing is not done to cure the body or to cure anything physical and the E-Meter cures nothing. However, in the process of a person becoming happier, more able and more aware as a spiritual being through auditing, illnesses that are psychosomatic (meaning the mind making the body ill) [and still comprising 70 percent of illnesses, according to Hubbard] in origin often disappear."
[WIS?, 1978 ed., p. 213]
This line has been used for many years. However, until the CoS got into trouble with the US Food and Drugs Administration in the early 1960s over its healing claims, it did claim that Scientology was itself a miraculous cure. HCO Bulletin of 24th July 1960, for instance, describes "Special Project Australia":
"... It is within our power to proof Australia against mental and physical illness ... You can advertise all you want to 'eradicates disease proneness', to 'proof Australians against illness' since all law applies to healing sicknesses, and could never be extended to preventing prevention ... [Adverts should say] 'Prevent illness. Scientologists are seldom sick. Join a Scientology group and be able.' "
[LRH, HCOB 24/7/60]
Success stories published by the CoS have, even in recent years, cited examples of miracle cures being effected by Scientology. There is little doubt that individual Scientologists believe in the efficacy of the "cure" offered by Scientology, and the CoS has done nothing to disabuse them of this idea.

The only reason why it does not nowadays make overt, in-your-face claims of healing prowess is, as Hubbard himself stated, purely legal. He himself certainly believed in it; during the heyday of his private navy in the late 1960s, he often chose auditing rather than proper medical treatment. (It caused Hubbard a lot of unnecessary suffering, though many would no doubt say that that was no bad thing.) In HCO Bulleting of 1st September 1962, he wrote:

"By healing you can graduate a pc [preclear] up to clearing interest and thus we have a lower level feeder line, capable of successful accomplishment with normal HCA/HPA training. That programme has the following thought major: Maybe you're not sick. Maybe you're just suppressed. See us and find out.

The phrasing can be more elegant, the message remains the same.

Legally, this permits us to heal without engaging in healing as, in actual fact, we address no illnesses and indeed, deny people are ill - they are only suppressed. Sickness occurs, we say, where suppression has been too great. The argument is - have you been sick? Did you go to doctors to be cured? Did they cure it? Then (as they didn't) maybe you're not sick, maybe you're just suppressed. So take some processing and find out. And the person gets well! We use on him the exact button he came to us on. So he's never dismayed at any change of tack on our part. Then we interest him in clearing.

This, I am sure, is the long sought gradient. This, used right, will build our new buildings, use our Academy Graduates and give us a chance to train up auditors to clearing.

The legal argument is simple, we don't believe in sickness, we do not address illness, we do not diagnose, we believe that freeing the human spirit also incidentally prevents sickness. We are doing prevention. We also find people do not have to be crazy to be suppressed, that nearly everybody is suppressed. We do send acutely ill people to doctors. We advertise to cure no diseases! That last is important legally. We only infer that people who think they are sick are really not, but only suppressed."

[LRH, HCOB 1/9/62]

Note the reference to a "change of tack on our part". This is what the Americans call a "bait-and-switch" tactic; the person on the receiving end buys one thing and finds himself buying into something entirely different, which he may not want in the first place. It's rather like buying an encyclopedia from a salesman and finding yourself with a bill for a summer apartment in Majorca. Needless to say, such methods are regarded by most people as being little better than simple fraud and deception.

As the above shows, Scientology directs its recruitment towards, amongst other groups, sick people and those suffering from difficult or incurable conditions. In recent years, for example, the CoS has been attempting to recruit people suffering from the incurable condition myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) with the promise that auditing can remove the engrams responsible for such conditions. Hubbard had many years earlier applied his usual attention to detail and wrote specific instructions on how to go about recruiting the sick. The technique he devised, which he recommended as "requiring little capital and being highly ambulatory", was called "Casualty Contact".

He detailed "Casualty Contact" in a number of bulletins in the 1950s and 1960s, most notably in Professional Auditors Bulletin of 28th Feb, 1956 and HCO Bulletin of 15th Sep, 1959. Even by Hubbard's standards these were quite remarkable in the level of opportunistic cynicism which they showed. In the PAB of 28th Feb, 1956, he comments:

"Every day in the daily papers one discovers people who have been victimised one way or the other by life. It does not much matter that the newspapers have a full parade of oddities in terms of accident, illness and bereavement occuring at a constant parade before the eyes. The essence of "Casualty Contact" is good filing and good personal appearance. One takes every daily paper he can get his hands on and cuts from it every story whereby he might have a preclear. He either has the address in the story itself or he gets the address as a minister from the newspaper. As speedily as possible he makes a personal call on the bereaved or injured person. It is probable that he will find on the first day that they are overly burdened with calls, since they have been a subject of the public press and he may find that in two or three days, interest in the person has cooled off to a point where his own appearance will admit of an actual interview. He should represent himself to the person or the person's family as a minister whose compassion [sic] was compelled by the newspaper story concerning the person. He should then enter the presence of the person and give a nominal assist, leave his card which states exactly where church services are held every Sunday and with the statement that a much fuller recovery is possible by coming to these free services takes his departure. A great many miracles will follow in his wake and he is liable to become a subject of the press himself. However, in handling the press he should simply say that it is a mission of the church to assist those who are in need of assistance. He should avoid any lengthy discussions of Scientology and should talk about the work of ministers and how all too few ministers these days get around to places where they are needed.

Some small percentage of the persons visited or their families will turn up in his group. Thus he will build a group and naturally from that group he will get a great many individual preclears."
[LRH, PAB 28/2/56]

For sheer, concentrated cynicism, it is hard to beat that. (It is part of a bulletin on methods of dissemination.) But, even so, Hubbard manages it. On 15th Sep, 1959, he issued an HCO Bulletin which was even more breathtakingly cynical:
"A fruitful source of HAS [Hubbard Association of Scientologists] Co-Audit is casualty contact. This is very old, is almost never tried and is almost always roaringly successful, providing the auditor goes about it in roughly the right way. Using his Ministers [sic] card, an auditor need only barge into any nonsectarian hospital, get permission to visit the wards from the Superintendant, mentioning nothing about processing, but only about taking care of peoples [sic] souls, to find himself wonderfully welcome. Ministers almost never make such rounds. Some hospitals are strictly against this sort of thing, but its [sic] only necessary to find another. Its [sic] fabulous what one can get done in a hospital with a touch assist and locational processing.

Don't pick on the very bad off [sic] unconscious cases. Hit the fracture ward and the maternity ward. Go around and say hello to the people and ask if you can do anything for them. Now here's how auditors have lost on this one. They omit the following steps: They fail to leave a card with their Ministerial name on it with their phone number. They fail to have a telephone answering service. They fail to tell they people they snap away from deaths [sic] yawning door that they can have more of this stuff simply by calling in. They get so involved in the complexities of medical (ha!) treatment and are so outraged at some of the things they see going on that they get into rows with medicos and the hospital staff. And they also pick unconscious patients or people who are halfway exteriorised [i.e. dying] already. This is a pretty routine drill really. You get permission to visit. You go in and give patients a cheery smile. You want to know if you can do anything for them, you give them a card and tell them to come around to your group and really get well, and you give them a touch assist if they seem to need it but only if they're willing. And you for sure make sure that there is someone on the other end when they ring up. Giving them a schedule of your HAS Co-Audit will avail much. I've got a book scheduled named the "sick person" as a working title that will make good fodder for this. But your statement, "the modern scientific church can cure things like that. Come around and see." will work. Its [sic] straight recruiting!"
[LRH, HCOB 15/9/59]

Comment would be superfluous. I think Hubbard's words say all that need to be said.

One final thought. Hubbard's ideas, as outlined in the documents quoted above, are more reminiscent of a con artist or a heartless exploiter of the vulnerable than the leader and moral authority of a "church". But perhaps this isn't so surprising. In the HCO Policy Letter of 15th Aug, 1967, he made the following statement - perhaps the purest exposition of Hubbardism ever written:

"I am not interested in wog morality. I am only interested in getting this show on the road and keeping it there."
[LRH, HCOPL 15/8/67]
This, evidently, is the true context of "Casualty Contact".