[Extract from "Information Disease: Have Cults created a New Mental Illness?" by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman. Science Digest January 1982 pp86-92]
"A very effective thought control technique could also be worked out from Scientology, which could be used to make individuals into willing slaves." -L Ron Hubbard[description of the authors' research into the long term effects of involvement with various cults]
Two groups in particular showed signs of inflicting the most severe physical, mental and emotional harm on their members: the Hare Krishna and the Church of Scientology. Among all groups, Krishna and Scientology tied with the Unification Church in reports of physical deprivation. Their members reported getting the least sleep per night and having the most deficient daily diet.
The rituals of the Church of Scientology bear little resemblance to those of any other cult. With its extensive program of "training regimens" and expensive "auditing" counseling, Scientology operates successfully as both religion and mass-marketed therapy. According to those who responded to our survey, however, Scientology's may be the most debilitating set of rituals of any cult in America. Onetime Scientologists who answered our questionnaire reported that it took them, on the average, more than two years (26 months) before they felt fully rehabilitated- more than *twice* the time of those from other major cults [Hare Krishna: 11.1 months, Divine Light Mission: 12.3 months].
Moreover, former Scientologists surpassed all others in reported incidents of physical punishment while in the group (35 percent) and, upon departure, they claimed the highest rates of sexual dysfunction (22 percent), violent outbursts (28 percent) [average is 14 percent], hallucinations and delusions (28 percent) [average is also 14 percent] and suicidal or self-destructive tendencies (44 percent) [average is 21%]. On average, former Scientologists surveyed reported more than *twice* the combined negative effects of all the other cult groups.
Ironically, although claiming the most severe long-term effects, former Scientologists surveyed reported the *lowest* total of hours per week spent in ritual and indoctrination. This apparent discrepancy seems to support opinions we have expressed earlier that, in combination, Scientology's training regimens and "auditing" counseling sessions (conducted on an E-meter, a kind of crude lie detector) may have an intensifying and compounding effect on the nervous system that goes beyond that of simpler cult rituals. And that, *hour for hour, Scientology's techniques may be more than twice as damaging as those of any other major cult in America!* In our view, this could be a vital direction for further research by scientists working in the field of neurophysiology.
"The overall impact? Devastating!" wrote one ex-member. "I still tend to view the world in Scientological terms: 'Truth is only an illusion.' 'People are robots.' 'People are basically insane and dangerous.'" Another was even more bitter: "The only thing I got out of this scam was deep suicidal depression coinciding with the fear of death within five years after separation. We were told that ninety percent of all 'refund cases' eventually commit suicide."
[other long term mental and emotional effects: "floating" in and out of altered states (47%), nightmares (53%), amnesia (31%)]
[Critical note on above: 24% of the ex-Scientologists surveyed were deprogrammed, as opposed to 71% for the other groups, so perhaps deprogramming is particularly effective in preventing long-term effects. Also, the article says how big the overall sample size is, but not how many were sampled from each group.]