December 3, 1997 (2nd Draft)

Please goto FINAL VERSION webbed  above

Revised Version of a Presentation at the Society for the
Scientific Study of Religion, San Diego, California (November 7,
1997). by Dr Stephen Kent  [University of Alberta, Canada]


[ you may click highlighted chapters to goto text ]

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2

The "Brainwashing Debate" within the Social Sciences . . . . .  3

RPF Accounts in the Courts and the Media . . . . . . . . . . .  6

Methodological Issues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9

Ideational History of the RPF. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Hubbard's Brainwashing and Psychopolitics Manual . . . . . . . 12

Hubbard's Discussions of Brainwashing in the Late 1960s. . . . 15

Organizational Forerunners to the RPF. . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

The Creation of the RPF. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

The Creation of the RPF's RPF. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

RPF Consistencies and Variations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

1. Forcible Confinement. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

2. Accounts of Physical Maltreatment . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
     A. Excessive Exercise--The Running Program. . . . . . . . 36
     B. Physically Demanding and Tiring Chores . . . . . . . . 38
     C. Poor Diet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
     D. Issues of Hygiene and Medical Care . . . . . . . . . . 41
     E. Sleeping Conditions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

3. Social Maltreatment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

4. Intensive Study of Ideology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

5. Forced Confessions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

6. Success Stories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

The Impact on Some Scientologists Who Saw the RPF in
     Operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

Conclusion: Brainwashing as a Practice in Scientology and a
     Concept in Sociology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61



     As an international institution requiring total compliance
from its confined participants, Scientology's Rehabilitation
Project Force (RPF) is unique among contemporary ideological
organizations operating in the Western world. While other
organizations (such as The Family/The Children of God) have
operated analogous programs (see Kent and Hall, 1997), the RPF
has existed for over 20 years. Established in January, 1974, the
RPF is a program of hard physical labour, forced confessions, and
intense ideological study. Scientology insists that the program
is designed to correct staff members' problems in order to allow
them to remain in its elite Sea Org and operate effectively in
it. Critics insist that its purpose is to break the will of
inmates in a manner that minimizes people's abilities to operate
outside of the ideological constraints of the organization. They
also argue that it provides Scientology with a labour force that
receives almost no salaries. In any case, newspapers have
reported on the program since at least 1984, with stories
appearing in American, British, Danish, and German media. No
academic accounts about it exist, however, even though its
operation has direct bearing on an issue that many social
scientists consider closed--the extent to which so-called new
religions utilize "brainwashing" techniques on their members.
     This study argues that brainwashing--"the systematic,
scientific[,] and coercive elimination of the individuality of
the mind of another" (Scheflin and Opton 1978: 40)--is a social
scientifically appropriate concept for analyzing Scientology's
imposition of reindoctrination programs within the confinement
conditions experienced by inmates in the RPF and its more severe
extenstion, the RPF's RPF. It constructs this argument using
primary documents that Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard,
either wrote or disseminated, as well as legal documents,
interview transcripts, and media accounts. These documents and
other items help identify Scientology's historical and
organizational contexts out of which the RPF emerged, and they
provide extended glimpses into actual RPF operations in several
locations during particular periods. Of special interest to
scholars is the study's use of Scientology publications from the
mid-1950s and late 1960s that specifically discuss brainwashing
techniques. Not only, therefore, is brainwashing an appropriate
social scientific term to use when describing the RPF, but also
it is a term that coincides with Scientology's own descriptions
about forcing attitude change within confined environments.

The "Brainwashing Debate" within the Social Sciences

     The "brainwashing debate" in the social sciences took place
mostly in the 1980s and early 1990s, when several professional
organizations, professors, and scholars reacted against American
courts accepting arguments that so-called new religions "coerced"
members into conversion. Much of the sociological attack
targetted psychologist Margaret Singer, Ph.D., who used a
coercive persuasion/brainwashing model to explain to courts how
litigants joined and behaved in the groups they now were suing or
defending against.
     The social scientific attacks concluded that the
brainwashing term was valid only if the group in question used
incarceration and physical maltreatment against members (see
Anthony, 1990: 304) in situations of uninformed consent (Young
and Griffith, 1992: 93). This threefold requirement was a
minimalist one, since a brainwashing program also would have to
include an intense indoctrination program coupled with personal
confessions of past "sins." Since neither the term's supporters
or detractors provided concrete evidence that even these
minimalist activities uniformly occurred in most groups'
conversion activities, sociologists and others concluded that
"brainwashing" was not an appropriate term for describing how and
why people join new or controversial religions.
     Of these requirements for using the brainwashing term, the
single most important one was "extreme physical coercion"
(Anthony and Robbins, 1992: 20, 25n.11). If such a condition
existed, then it would allow both researchers and the courts to
isolate brainwashing from other forms of coercive persuasion. As
Robbins and Anthony concluded, "[without] physical force as a
boundary, there is no natural or objective cutting point as to
when coercive persuasion is potent enough to overcome free will"
as the brainwashing model implies (Anthony and Robbins, 1992:
     One crucial aspect of brainwashing in litigation has been an
effort to specify when courts should allow indiviudals to use the
concept as an excuse for deviant or illegal behaviour. Researcher
Dick Anthony (often working with associate Tom Robbins) developed
much of the theory in this area, and served as a consulting
expert for lawyers defending the Unification Church, Scientology,
the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON),
Transcendental Meditation, and the Community Chapel against
brainwashing allegations from disgruntled former members (Anthony
and Robbins, 1992: 6n.1). Anthony and Robbins concluded that some
attempts to utilize "cultic brainwashing" to justify exemptions
from (American constitutional) protections of religions
presuppose that brainwashing is a form of "hard determinism"
which assumes that people are confined in ideological systems
whose doctrines they must adopt (Anthony and Robbins, 1992: 23).
Human behavior explanations that postulate hard determinism,
Anthony and Robbins claim, "do not have general, or even
substantial acceptance in the relevant scientific communities"
(presumably sociology and psychology), and they are "no longer
taken seriously in the academic world" (Anthony and Robbins,
1992: 25). Consequently, in future attempts to assess "the
resemblance of the theologies of religious groups to totalitarian
ideologies," Antony and Robbins hope that researchers will focus
upon "the free marketplace of ideas rather than upon increased
governmental regulation of religious ideas or on the outcome of
trials..." (Anthony and Robbins, 1992: 26). In other words, these
respected social scientists believe that research into whether
religious groups brainwash has concluded that they do not do so
at least in a hard deterministic way, and this conclusion
eliminates any need for discussion about governmental or legal
intervention against religions on now-disproven grounds that they
brainwash their members into robots who commit deviant or
criminal acts.

RPF Accounts in the Courts and the Media

     Remarkably, however, throughout much of this debate, the
popular press, some court documents, and at least one court
appellate decision described the forced confinement,
maltreatment, and uninformed consent that Sea Org members
experienced in Scientology's RPF program and facilities. These
descriptions were of a brainwashing program used to retain
members rather than to obtain them, and perhaps for this reason
social scientists neglected to address these accounts.      
     The first public statement about the RPF seems to have
appeared in a January 25, 1980 affidavit by former member Tonya
Burden of Las Vegas, Nevada, who described it as "a Scientology
'concentration camp'" (Burden, 1980: 8) and from which she
escaped after having been in the program for around three months
(Burden, 1980: 9-10). Former member Gerry Armstrong supported
Burden's general description of RPF conditions in a June, 1982
affidavit, stating that he "personally observed people [including
Tonya Burden] in the RPF sleeping on floors, in storage rooms, in
the boiler room, and in other sub-human conditions..."
(Armstrong, 1982: 3). 
     Armstrong and two other former members, Laurel Sullivan and
William Franks, spoke harshly about the RPF in a 1984 article in
the Florida newspaper, the Clearwater Sun. Franks called it "'a
horrible thing'" (quoted in Shelor, 1984: 1B), and Sullivan spoke
about how "'rough'" the program was, having "to work in 120-
degree heat [in the California desert] with a severe case of
colitis'" (quoted in Shelor, 1984: 2B). In that same year,  
Great Britain's The Sunday Times Magazine carried RPF
descriptions from three more former members--Bent Corydon, Jay
Hurwitz, and David Mayo: 
     Hurwitz said that for the first five days he and others were
     kept locked up under guard. 'We were brought our food and we
     slept on the floor. We had to use the same toilet facilities
     in the presence of one another' (Barnes, 1984: 38). 
Hurwitz was at the RPF near Gilman Hots Springs, California in
the summer of 1982, along with eighteen other senior Scientology
staffers (Barnes, 1984: 38-39). Also in 1984, a British court
stated in a written decision that, two years earlier, a woman in
Scientology's English headquarters in East Grinstead was
"required to do at least 12 hours physical work a day (shifting
bricks, emptying bins, etc.)" which "aggravated a chronic back
condition" (Royal Courts of Justice, 1984: 27). This same story
reappeared in the excellent study written by Englishman Jon Atack
in 1990 (Atack, 1990: 341), and then in a newspaper article in
1994 (Bracchi, 1994).
     Back in the United States, former member Don Larson told
Forbes magazine in 1986 that:
     he alone brought nearly 300 recalcitrant Scientologists to
     'Rehabilitation Project Forces' at Scientology centers
     around the world over a period of fourteen months, until his
     departure in late 1983... In these sadistic detention
     programs, staff members would be coerced into performing
     hard labor, eating leftovers out of buckets and sleeping on
     floors. Some were reportedly kept against their will (Behar,
     1986: 318).
The year after the Forbes article, British biographer Russell
Miller (1987) published his account of Hubbard's life, which
contained nearly a dozen references to the RPF. 
     A 1989 California appellate court decision indicated that,
"continuously for three weeks," former Scientologist Larry
Wollersheim had been "'baited and badgered'" to enter the RPF,
which the judge mentioned as "evidence [that] Wollersheim
accepted some of his auditing [i.e., religious counselling] under
threat of physical coercion" (California Court of Appeal, 1989:
9274).  The accounts of Franks, Sullivan, and former Sea Org
staff member Hana Whitfield appeared again in a series on the
organization that the Los Angeles Times published in 1990 (Welkos
and Sappell, 1990). The article indicated that "[t]he RPF
provides the church with a pool of labor to perform building
maintenance, pull weeds, haul garbage, clean toilets or do
anything else church executives deem necessary for redemption"
(Welkos and Sappell, 1990: [25]). In the same year as the Los
Angeles Times series, Jon Atack's thorough study of his former
group contained significant RPF information (Atack, 1990: 206,
341, 358, etc.; see also Atack, n.d.: 9-10). Finally, as recently
as 1996, the RPF received attention in a Scientology study
produced by former member Bent Corydon (1996)--himself having
been an RPF inmate. Taken together, these legal and media sources
strongly suggest that the RPF is a brainwashing facility
according to the requirements that Anthony (1990) and Young and
Griffith (1992) specify, but no social scientists pursued an

Methodological Issues

     Perhaps one reason that social scientists have not examined 
the brainwashing dynamics of the RPF is because its study
presents some unusual methodological obstacles that they must
overcome in order to obtain appropriate information. First,
Scientology has made out-of-court settlements with former RPF
victims, and these settlements include agreements that they will
not speak critically and publically against the organization. I
know of at least five people--two Americans, two Canadians, and
one New Zealander--who entered into such agreements. 
     Second, Scientology keeps confidential the key series of
documents that define the RPF's operation. These documents appear
in the Flag Order 3434 series (containing at least fifty-six
separate issues), and only a small number of them have leaked out
to researchers. Consequently, it remains impossible to trace the
development of the RPF program through the organization's most
relevant documents, which means that scholars' best information
sources remain the accounts of former members.
     Third, former members who went through the RPF are difficult
to find and, once found, often are reluctant to speak with a
researcher. The difficulty of finding former RPF inmates stems
partly from the fact that the program's design is to feed
repentant (and some would say emotionally broken) Sea Org members
back into the organization. Consequently, many potential
informants remain in Scientology under threat of being either ex-
communicated or sent back into the RPF itself for talking
negatively about their time in it. Moreover, as RPF participants
they spent countless (and in some cases, hundreds) of hours
confessing to alleged sins and crimes, and they fear that the
organization would use these confessions against them if they
were to talk. Indeed, the RPFers who complete their programs must
write or sign a statement before they leave which praises the RPF
and extols its virtues. For all of these reasons, I did not
attempt to interview active Scientologists who had been RPF
inmates. Any criticism or negative statements that informants
might have made about their experiences likely would have had
dire conseqences for them.
     For this study, therefore, I interviewed six people who had
been on RPFs in different parts of the world, plus I collected
court documents, affadavits, and correspondence from fourteen 
more. In addition, I interviewed a person who had witnessed the
RPF in operation (but had not participated in it), and collected
accounts (through personal correspondence, anonymous newsgroup
postings, and legal documents) from eight additional individuals
who also claim to have seen inmates on the program. In addition
to the information by and from these twenty-nine people, I
collected primary Scientology documents and publications that
discuss the RPF, along with accounts of it from the popular
press. The picture that emerges from these sources shows
variations according to (sometimes important) details, but the
overall picture concerning the operation of the program remains
remarkably consistent.

Ideational History of the RPF

     Five (often overlapping) actitities of social control seem
universal in all of the RPF information that is available from
non-Scientology sources. These activities are: (1) forcible
confinement, (2) physical maltreatment (through such things as
hard exercise, physically demanding chores, poor diet, limited
time for hygiene, and inadequate sleeping arrangements, etc.);
(3) social maltreatment (through restrictions in verbal and
written communication with others, degradation, very low pay,
etc.); (4) intensive study of ideology, and (5) forced
confessions of past alleged 'sins.' The goal of these activities
is the alignment of the RPF inmates with the ideology of
Scientology as directed by its leaders. This alignment comes
about after the program has eliminated people's abilities or
desires to criticize policies or the leaders who oversee their
implementation. Remarkably, a 1955 booklet that Hubbard himself
almost certainly wrote described psychopolitical techniques of
subduing people and populations to totalitarian rule, and some of
the techniques foreshadow the RPF policies that subsequently he
approved for use against his own elite corps.

Hubbard's Brainwashing and Psychopolitics Manual

     The booklet was entitled, Brain-Washing--A Synthesis of the
Russian Textbook on Psychopolitics, and one version was
"published as a public service by the Church of Scientology"
([Hubbard?, 1955: back cover). The introduction purports to be a
speech by the famous chief of the Soviet secret police, Lavrenti
Beria, to "American students at the Lenin University" about how
to subvert societies through the imposition of "psychopolitics"
on populations through the guise of "mental healing" (Hubbard
[probable author], 1955: 3). The entire text is fraudulent
(Kominsky, 1970), and all indicators point directly to Hubbard as
the author. In any case, Hubbard wrote about the "brainwashing"
booklet to his followers (Hubbard, 1955a: 309-310; 1955b: 312-
313; 1956: 328), claiming that "unless the basic philosophy of
the brainwasher is understood," auditors will have difficulty
handling clients who had suffered the techniques (Hubbard, 1955a:
309). More probably he was trying to both discredit psychiatry
and endear his organization to the American government (with the
claim that Dianetics and Scientology could reverse the effects of
Communist brainwashing and thus was a powerful political tool).
Certainly Hubbard's desire to secure Dianetics and Scientology as
a weapon against Communism would explain why he wrote the FBI
about the booklet in mid-December, 1955. It also would explain
why The Church of Scientology published the slim volume "as a
public service" (back cover of Hubbard [probable author], 1955).
     Obsessed with issues of controlling and subduing people and
nations, the "brainwashing" manual is an extraordinary work. Most
probably, key ideas that Hubbard (presumably) wrote about in the
brainwashing manual became policies and procedures in the RPF
nearly twenty years later. The manual's own definition of
psychopolitics, for example, indicated that it was "the art and
science of asserting and maintaining dominion over the thoughts
and loyalties of individuals, officers, bureaux, and masses, and
the effecting of the conquest of enemy nations through 'mental
healing'" (Hubbard [probable author], 1955: 6). Later the text
presented a strategy for subversives to use in destroying
individuals' opposition to the state, and this strategy involved
the destruction of any forms of individuality that might foster
doubts against the imposing ideology: 
     [t]he tenets of rugged individualism, personal determinism,
     self-will, imagination, and personal creativeness are alike
     in the masses antipathetic to the good of the Greater State.
     These wilful and unaligned forces are no more than illnesses
     which will bring about disaffection, disunity, and at length
     the collapse of the group to which the individual is
     attached (Hubbard [probable author], 1955: 9). 
Having identified individuality as a threat to "the Greater
State," the solution was simple:
     It is the mission of Psychopolitics first to align the
     obedience and goals of the group, and then maintain their
     alignment by the eradication of the effectiveness of the
     persons and personalities which might serve the group toward
     disaffection.... Psychopolitics makes it possible to remove
     that part of his personality which, by itself, is making
     havoc with the person's own constitution, as well as with
     the group with which the person is connected (Hubbard
     [probable author], 1955: 10).
In essence, the State had to establish its own goals as the only
acceptable ones, then destroy aspects of people's personalities
that might lead them to individualistic expressions that would be
out of alignment with those goals. This outline for totalitarian
conformity transformed into the reality of the RPF.

Hubbard's Discussions of Brainwashing in the Late 1960s

     During the late 1960s, Hubbard discussed brainwashing at
least four times in various talks and writings, and these
discussions always were consistent with the basic techniques of
personality destruction and goals-realignment discussed in the
"brainwashing" manual of 1955. The book, All About Radiation,
bridges the 1960s and the 1950s, since Hubbard took his comments
from a 1957 "Congress on Nuclear Radiation and Health," published
them that same year, then reissued the book in 1967. This
publication included a section entitled "What Brainwashing Is":
     Brainwashing is a very simple mechanism. One gets a person
     to agree that something might be a certain way and then
     drives him by introverting him and through self-criticism to
     the possibility that it is that way. Only then does a man
     believe that the erroneous fact was a truth. By gradient
     scale of hammering, pounding and torture, brainwashers are
     able to make people believe that that these people [i.e.,
     the victims] saw and did things which they never did do
     (Hubbard, 1957: 84; also quoted in Hubbard, 1976b: 55).
As he had indicated in 1955, people could be brainwashed (he
believed) by giving them an external goal or fact, then breaking
them down (through stress) until they believed it.
     Two years after the reissue of All About Radiation (on
December 20, 1969), Hubbard discussed brainwashing again, but
added a twist. Now he defined it as the "subjection of a person
to systematic indoctrination or mental pressure with a view to
getting him to change his views or to confess to a crime" (quoted
in Hubbard, 1976b: 55). Not only, therefore, did Hubbard believe
that he knew how to force people to change their minds on vital
issues, but also he thought that he could force (presumably
false) confessions out of people by "brainwashing" them through
severe stress. Again these insights bore fruit in the RPF
     Additional glimpses into Hubbard's knowledge about
brainwashing comes from a March, 1969 Scientology article in the
organization's Freedom newspaper. At the time of initial
publication, the article entitled "Brainwashing" did not reveal
its author, and only after 1992 were researchers able to verify
that it came from Hubbard himself (see Church of Scientology
International, 1992: 757). The article contained a long exerpt
from a politically conservative writer, Robert G. Ridgway
(followed at the end by Hubbard's comments), and one section of
Ridgway's commentary contained a section subtitled "Nervous
Breakdown." It described techniques designed to break down
individuals and then build them up into the externally defined
goals of the group:
     'The first part in the technique of brainwashing is an
     artifically induced nervous breakdown, which breaks the line
     with the individual's past experience and casts him adrift
     in a sea of suggestibility. This is brought on by
     exhaustion, confusion, continuous physical pain, and fear
     and anxiety. This destroys human individuality and identity
     by fracturing fixed habit patterns and employing the useful
     fragments, cemented by suggestion, to rebuild an entirely
     different personality. Memory is diffused. Logic is
     confused, and judgement is distorted in the absence of
     reference and discipline. The person has lost control of his
     mind--it is then that suggestion is most effective. The
     victim is grateful to be oriented again. He appreciates any
     purpose or direction given to him. He feels he has been led
     back to sanity, [but] in reality his soul has been stolen. 
     This was done to American fathers in Korea and their sons in
     Vietnam' (Ridgway, quoted in [Hubbard], 1969: [4]).
Similar to Hubbard's writing in the previous decade, this article
identified the necessity of destroying individuality
(accomplished here through inducing nervous breakdowns) and then
aligning the shattered personality with officially provided
purpose and direction. 
     Hubbard (we presume) had made a similar argument about
breaking down people in the brainwashing manual of 1955. The
manual stated that:
     There is a curve of degradation which leads downward to a
     point where the endurance of an individual is almost at an
     end, and any sudden action toward him will place him in a
     state of shock. Similarly, a soldier held prisoner can be
     abused, denied, defamed, and degraded until the slightest
     motion on the part of his captors will cause him to flinch.
     Similarly, the slightest word on the part of his captors
     will cause him to obey, or vary his loyalties and beliefs.
     Given sufficient degradation, a prisoner can be caused to
     murder his fellow countrymen in the same stockade.
     Experiments on German prisoners have lately demonstrated
     that only after seventy days of filthy food, little sleep,
     and nearly untenable quarters, that [sic] the least motion
     toward the prisoner would bring about a state of shock
     beyond his endurance threshold, and would cause him to
     hypnotically receive anything said to him. Thus, it is
     possible, in an entire stockade of prisoners, to the number
     of thousands, to bring about a state of complete servile
     obedience, and without the labour of personally addressing
     each one, to pervert their loyalties, and implant in them
     adequate commands to insure their future conduct, even when
     released to their own people (Hubbard [probable author]:
     1955: 41-42).
Again, techniques involving attempted attitude changes through
severe stess became reality in the RPF, which Hubbard created
less than five years after publishing an article on brainwashing
that contained Ridgway's comments about nervous breakdowns.

Organizational Forerunners to the RPF

     During the very period when Hubbard wrote about brainwashing
in the late 1960s, he also established a number of formal
structures within Scientology designed to both punish perceived
deviants whose job performances were deficient and train people
for necessary jobs that the organization needed. Having been at
sea from late 1967 (Atack, 1990: 176-177), Hubbard's punishment
and training programs reflected the needs and conditions of
maritime life. On January 4, 1968, for example, Hubbard created
what he called the "Mud Box Brigade," which was a punishment
assignment to any Sea Org member whom Hubbard determined was "a
freeloader who is loafing on post and drifting with the wind"
(quoted in Hubbard, 1976b: 341). The unsavory jobs involved
cleaning the area where the ship's anchors dragged in mud (the
mud boxes), along with "fuel lines, water lines, bilges, etc."
(quoted in Hubbard, 1976b: 341). These were difficult, dirty, and
somewhat dangerous assignments, but within a few years they would
be taken over by inmates in the RPF's internal punishment
program, the RPF's RPF.
     Certainly by early 1969, Hubbard had in place two training
projects--the Deck Project Force (DPF) and the Pursers Project
Force (PPF), but he abolished them on March 25, 1969 (Hubbard,
1969). Apparently the DPF had trained Sea Org members on various
ship duties, and the PPF presumably trained people in areas of
ship finance and supply (see Hubbard, 1976b: 429). Likewise, some
time before early April, 1972, Hubbard had a training program for
household services called the Stewards Project Force (SPF
[Hubbard, 1972a; 1976b: 501). He also had a program called the
Estates Project Force (EPF), which (as we must reconstruct from a
later document), did such work as painting and sweeping (Hubbard,
1977: 1). Until the advent of the RPF, the EPF also received Sea
Org members for (what Scientology called) "retreading." These
staff needed constant supervision, were making obvious problems,
or were performing their jobs without enthusiasm (i.e., were
suffering from "robotism" [Boards of Directors of the Churches of
Scientology, 1977: 1]).
     Apparently, however, Hubbard reinstituted the DPF, because
by early 1972 it had a function beyond mere training. In addition
to new recruits, the DPF received Sea Org members who were
questioning authority. In the peculiar logic and language of
Scientology, these people had "interiorized." That is to say,
"the person is finding counter-intention in the environment which
coincides with his own (this is reasonableness), and his
attention becomes directed to his own counter-intention rather
than to his objective" (Hubbard, 1976b: 437, quoting a Flag Order
from September 23, 1969 [emphasis in original]). Said plainly,
these people were questioning aspects of Sea Org life, and were
finding things in the external world to reinforce their internal
doubts.  Consequently, the DPF was "to rehabilitate and
exteriorize their attention" by getting them to do work
assignments (Hubbard, 1972a; see 1976b: 133). Again said plainly,
the intent of the program was to get a person to stop looking
inward and (re)learn to accept the orders that the organization
and its leaders demanded.
     With this goal in mind, Hubbard imposed a system of rewards
and punishments called "ethics" on people within the DPF that
paralleled the system under which ordinary Sea Org members
operated. Overseeing DPF ethics was a person who had the title,
the "Deck Project Force Master-At-Arms [DPF MAA]," and he or she
was responsible for making "ethics real to DPF members by
removing counter-intention and other-intention from the area, and
by getting each DPF member to crank out products with an honest
uptrending statistic" (Hubbard, 1976b: 133; quoting a Flag Order
from February 20, 1972). In other words, the MAA was to remove
any ideas that were out of alignment with Scientology's goals
through the use of the reward-and-punishment "ethics" system.
Lateness, poor work performance, negative attitude, etc., were
"out-ethics" actions that warranted the MAA to assign the
offender to a lower ethics condition, which involved penalties on
a gradient scale of severity. The offender had to work off these
hours-long penalties or "amends" after the normal eight-to-ten
hour work day (see Boards of Directors of the Churches of
Scientology, 1973). Supposedly the completion of these amends
taught people about the consequences of not showing continual
increases in the output of their jobs, which supposedly was due
to personal intentions that allegedly were out of harmony with
Scientology's demands. In the DPF MAA's ethics assignments we can
hear the echo of Hubbard's ideas about brainwashing, which he
first discussed in 1955 and elaborated upon in the late 1960s.
This staff member was to physically wear down people when trying
to get them to renounce their private doubts, with the goal of
getting them to completely embrace the collective goals of the
     Apparently the DPF's regime of hard work in harsh conditions
continued into the early 1980s, since the account of Birgitta
Dagnell about her time on the DPF in Denmark bears remarkable
similarities to RPF accounts. According to her own statement, she
was among the eighty-two former Guardian Office members sent into
the Danish DPF by the new leadership of the Office of Special
Affairs in 1982. The crowded conditions, the poor food, the
exhausting hours, the assignments involving "cleaning toilets,
corridors[,] and hotel rooms[,] or some painting and construction
work" (Dagnell, 1997: 3) were the same for RPF inmates in other
parts of the world. So were the "gang-bang sec checks" (which I
discuss later) and the demand the "we 'recognized' that we really
[were] that bad and evil" (Dagnell, 1997: 4), which she
experienced during what she thought were going to be auditing

The Creation of the RPF

     The RPF built directly upon the punitive, some might say,
"brainwashing" role that the DPF had developed. Hubbard's
motivations for establishing the program in January, 1974
included personal retaliation. Having gone ashore in late 1973 to
ride his motorcycle on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Hubbard
took a spill and was injured. Recovering on board his flagship,
Hubbard blamed the accident on unnamed crew members whom he
believed were not carrying out his orders with sufficient
diligence. In response, he  ordered the creation of the RPF, with
the intention of assigning to it anyone who had a "'counter-
intention' to his orders or wishes..., along with all trouble-
makers and back-sliders" (Miller, 1987: 321; see Kent interview
with Pignotti, 1997: 6; Kent interview with Ernesto, 1997: 2). 
     Researchers do not have copies of the first three Flag
Orders establishing the RPF, but do have the fourth one, which is
a May 30, 1977 twice-revised version of a January 7, 1974 issue.
Some time between its inception and late May, 1977, the RPF had
assumed the punitive functions previously handled by the EPF and,
presumably, the DPF. Sea Org members entered the RPF if they had
dramatic indicator reads (called "rock-slams") while being
counseled or "audited" on Scientology's confessional and lie
detector machine called the e-meter (which gives readings about
galvinic skin responses). Such indicator- or needle-jumps
supposedly indicated "a hidden evil intention on the subject or
question under discussion or auditing" (Hubbard, 1975: 357).
Others received RPF assignments for poor production on their jobs
or posts, poor personality indicators (presumably such as
depression, grumbling, and doubting Hubbard or his techniques),
and obvious trouble making (Boards of Directors of the Churches
of Scientology, 1977: 1). 
     In considerable detail the RPF document laid out the
framework of forcible confinement, physical and social
maltreatment, intensive reindoctrination, and forced confessions
that were (and are) central to the program's operation. Certain
passages, for example, outlined the basic rules about forcible
confinement. Inmates could not leave the facility, and could
travel between buildings only when they were accompanied by
security guards (Boards of Directors of the Churches of
Scientology, 1977: 10). Physical maltreatment occurred within the
confines of sometimes demanding and dangerous work to which they
were assigned. Specifically inmates had to carry out eleven
maintenance functions--interior and exterior building cleaning;
bathroom cleaning; general painting; internal building
renovations; storage, passageway, and stairway cleaning; other
"large scale" projects outside of sleeping, kitchen, or eating
areas; "garage cleaning"; "elevator and elevator shaft cleaning";
engine room and boiler room cleaning; furniture set-ups for
events; and "garbage disposal." They also could receive special
assignments from specific Scientology personnel (Boards of
Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 3). They were
supposed to get seven hours sleep (Boards of Directors of the
Churches of Scientology, 1977: 4), and they were allowed to call
on a Scientology Medical Officer (who need not be a medical
doctor) only if they were running a temperature or suffer an
injury that requires medication or treatment (Boards of Directors
of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 6). Inmates were allowed to
eat normal meals unless doing so deprived Sea Org members who
were not RPFers (Boards of Directors of the Churches of
Scientology, 1977: 9). Their use of bathrooms and showers was
restricted (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology.
1977: 11), and, "at RPF expense," inmates were allowed "[a]
minimum number of circulating fans" in their study and sleeping
areas "where there is NO other circulation of air easily
available" (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology,
1977: 11 [emphasis and capitals in original]). By adding together
the time allotments that inmates had to perform various duties,
we can deduce that each day people were supposed to receive seven
hours sleep, study and audit for five hours, take one-half hour
for each of three meals, spend thirty minutes a day on hygiene,
and perform physical work for ten hours.
     Policies involving social maltreatment were numerous.
Inmates had to wear black or dark blue boilersuits (i.e, a type
of heavy workclothes [Boards of Directors of the Churches of
Scientology, 1977: 1]). They were barred from all normal social
activities in the facility or the community (Boards of Directors
of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 2-3, 11), and any problems
that this restriction might cause regarding non-Scientology
commitments required an immediate report to superiors (Boards of
Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 3). As the policy
succinctly stated, "[a] member of the RPF is a member of the RPF
and of nothing outside of it, till released" (Boards of Directors
of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 3). Depending upon inmates'
stage of progress, pay was either one-quarter or one-half the
normal Sea Org rates, "unless withheld or fined by a justice
action" (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology,
1977: 9; see 9 and 10). Inmates' sleeping quarters were
isolated from those of other Sea Org members, and were supposed
to conform to fire, health, and safety regulations (Boards of
Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 10). Inmates
could not speak to regular Sea Org members, public
Scientologists, or members of the public unless they had to in
order to avoid "impoliteness" (Boards of Directors of the
Churches of Scientology, 1977: 10). A spouse could have a
conjugal visit with his or her partner one night a week in an
authorized area provided that the person's RPF progress was
satisfactory (Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology,
1977: 10). Likewise, spouses could visit with their partners or
school-age childen once daily during meals or at night if their
progress was satisfactory and they refrained from discussing
their RPF situations. Additional meal visits with pre-school
children could be arranged (Boards of Directors of the Churches
of Scientology, 1977: 10).
     Intensive study of Hubbard's ideology was built into the
program, with inmates allotted "5 hours study or auditing" daily
(Boards of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1977: 4, see
6). Some evidence indicates that RPF inmates in the mid-1970s
could complete the program in several months, but later accounts
indicate that people frequently took over a year, and served RPF
sentences more than once during their Scientology careers.

The Creation of the RPF's RPF

     On April 24, 1974, a Flag Conditions Order established the
RPF's RPF. This program received people who were on the RPF but
not progressing satisfactorily, or who thought that their
assignment to the RPF was humorous. As Hubbard reported in his
"management technology" dictionary: 
     [t]he first RPF's RPF assignment was made because the person
     considered their [sic] RPF assignment amusing, an award
     [sic] and was therefore unable to recognize a need for
     redemption or any means to effect it. Until such time as the
     person recognized this need and of their [sic] own self-
     determinism requested to be included in the RPF redemption
     actions, the [RPF's RPF] restrictions applied" (Hubbard,
     1975: 451 [emphasis in original]).
People on the RPF's RPF were segregated from the RPF inmates in
their work assignments, eating, sleeping, roll-call, and other
activities. They were not paid, did not receive auditing, were
not to receive more than six hours sleep, and received triple
ethics penalties for offenses. Reflecting the fact that the RPF's
RPF began on a ship, inmates in the program were allowed to work
only "on mud boxes in the E/R [engine room]." Moreover, they were
allowed to communicate only with the person in charge of the RPF,
and could "not join RPF fully until acceptable amends [were] made
to all RPF members" (Hubbard, 1975: 451 [emphasis in
     Remarkably, this summary of the RPF's RPF is available in a
Scientology dictionary to which members of the public have easy
access. Not surprisingly, however, this same information does not
appear in Scientology's latest dissemination effort--its World
Wide Web page. Sponsored by the Church of Scientology
International, it makes no mention of the RPF's RPF and describes
the RPF in terms that make it sound like a program of confidence-
building and personal reinvigoration. According to the webpage,
the RPF is "a second chance" for "Sea Org staff members who would
otherwise be subject to dismissal for serious and/or continuous
ecclesiastical violations"--an opportunity to experience
"complete rehabilitation" for "personnel 'burn out'" (Church of
Scientology International, 1996). "Participants" in the program
receive "both study and religious counseling on a daily basis to
address areas of difficulty in their personal lives." They also
"work eight hours a day as a team on tasks which improve the
facilities of the Church by which they are employed and improve
teamwork and coordination among the participants. The work allows
the individual to regain confidence in himself [sic] and the
pride of accomplishment." Sea Org members who have gone through
the program supposedly "attest to its enormous personal benefit,
and express their appreciation for being able to avail themselves
of redemption as opposed to dismissal" (Church of Scientology
International, 1996). This public relations portrayal of the RPF
stands in dramatic contrast to accounts about it that many former
"participants" provide after they are no longer under the direct
control of Scientology's policies that punish persons who
criticize the organization or its doctrines. Each of the topics
that the webpage mentions in a favorable light--study, religious
counseling/auditing, 'eight hour' work days that rebuild
confidence and pride, employment conditions and pay, and
graduates' expressions of appreciation--receive very different
interpretations by the former Sea Org members who provided the
information for my RPF study.

RPF Consistencies and Variations

     While the RPF stories that former members recount show
remarkable consistencies over time and distance, variations occur
with respect to facilities, personnel, and immediate
organizational demands. Virtually all of the accounts, however,
illustrate how the RPF attempted to control the bodies of its
inmates through a variety of physical demands, abuses, and work
obligations while at the same time it attempted to control their
minds through extensive auditing, coursework, confessions, and
success stories.
     Assembling the affadavits, interviews, internet postings,
and correspondence that I have collected, I have: two RPF
accounts from the Apollo (the ship on which Hubbard lived from
1967 to 1975); seven from the Fort Harrison Hotel complex in
Clearwater, Florida; one from La Quinta, California; one from
Indio, California; four from Gilman Hot Springs, California
(which informants sometimes called either "Hemet" after the
nearby town or "Gold" according to the Scientology name); two
from the Happy Valley camp near Gilamn Hot Springs and the Soboba
Indian Reserve; two from the Cedars complex in Los Angeles; one
from an unnamed ship docked near Los Angeles; one from East
Grinstead, Sussex (England); and one from an RPF forerunner in
Copenhagen, Denmark. Five informants went through the RPF's RPF--
one on the Apollo; two in the Fort Harrison complex; and two in
either Gilman Hots Springs or Happy Valley.

1. Forcible Confinement

     Forcible confinement, which is one of the prerequesites for
social scientists utilizing the brainwashing term, specifically
occurred in nine RPF accounts and two RPF's RPF accounts. Indeed,
seven informants had stories about their (sometimes successful)
escape attempts from the program and the guards assigned to
prevent them from doing so. These accounts stand in stark
contrast to Scientology's insistence that "participation" in an
RPF program is voluntary. For example, Dennis Erlich's experience
in the RPF and the RPF's RPF at the Fort Harrison in late 1978
began with two "guards" arriving to escort him to the program. He
did not resist them because "it was sort of implicit that [if]
you wanna [sic] fight you're gonna [sic] get the shit kicked out
of you...." (Kent Interview with Erlich, 1997: 9). On the other
side of the continent at roughly the same period, Patti had "two
big burly men" show up and say, "'you're going on the RPF...'"
(Kent Interview with Patti, 1997: 19). Former member David Mayo
told a more dramatic story in his affadavit, insisting that "[o]n
August 29, 1982, David Miscavige, and others, acting on the
orders of L. Ron Hubbard, kidnapped me and subsequently kept me
captive and physically and mentally abused me for six months"
(Mayo, 1994: 2-3). 
     Other people spoke about either being forcibly confined
themselves (for example, Whitfield, 1989: 6) or seeing others who
were. Former member-turned-critic, Dennis Erlich, joked about his
RPF assignment, and, in accordance with Hubbard's policy, wound
up in the RPF's RPF in Fort Harrison's basement. Guarded down
there for ten days, Erlich states that he spent the first day or
two "locked in a wired cage..." (Kent Interview with Erlich,
1997: 8). When Nefertiti (which is the presumed former member's
alias) found herself in the RPF's RPF in the same basement a
decade or so later, she met a woman (she claims) who was "in her
thirties, feverish, [her] entire body poured with sweat [and] was
wearing chains. She had a chain about twenty inches long linking
her two ankles so she had to do small hasty steps" (Nefertiti,
1997: 3). Tonya Burden swore, "under pains and penalties of
perjury" (Burden, 1980: 12) that she "personally observed a
person chained to pipes in the boiler room in the Fort Harrison
building for a period of weeks" (Burden, 1980: 10). Likewise, in
an affadavit, Hana Whitfield swore that, while she was on the RPF
in the Fort Harrison, Lyn Froyland was assigned to the RPF's RPF
and "was chained to a pipe down there [in the basement] for
weeks, under guard. She was taken meals and allowed toilet
breaks, but no other hygiene" (Whitfield, 1994: 42).
     The most extensive account of confinement comes from former
member Andre Tabayoyon, who spoke about the Gilman Hot Springs
base (on which RPF members worked) having a security system that
included "the perimeter fence, the ultra razor barriers, the
lighting of the perimeter fence, electronic monitors, the
concealed microphones, the ground sensors, the motion sensors and
hidden cameras which were installed all over the area--even
outside the base" (Tabayoyon, 1994: 8). Tabayoyon spoke about
working on the base's security system in 1991, but back in
January, 1983, unwilling RPF victim Julie Mayo found her freedom
blocked by a guarded fence at Gilman Hot Springs. Taking what may
have been the only escape option she had, Julie Mayo waited one
morning until the guard opened the gate to allow someone to walk
across the street for breakfast, and slipped out to the road,
unnoticed, before it closed (J. Mayo, 1996: 8-9).
     Other escape stories indicate that RPF victims were,
essentially, imprisoned in situations where they had not given
consent (much less informed consent) for their captors to hold
them. Vicki Azanaran, for example, "and two other victims escaped
from Happy Valley onto the Sobo[b]a Indian Reservation where they
were pursued on motorcycles by guards of Happy Valley. Vicki and
the other victims were rescued by residents of the reservation
who picked them up in a pick-up truck and spirited them to a
motel in the City of Hemet" (Aznaran and Aznaran, 1988: 12).
Former member Pat escaped by using several elaborate ruses.
First, she concocted a story that convinced guards to allow her
to use the telephone. Then she called a non-Scientology friend
and gave explicit instructions about where her friend should be
the next night (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997b: 3). The next
night, she concocted a second story that managed to get her near
to the street where her friend was waiting. Manipulating the
guard who was with her, Pat managed to get enough distance from
him so that she got inside the car: 
     slammed the door shut and said, 'Go!.' [My friend] hit the
     door locks and [the friend] stepped on the gas.... It was an
     awful, awful time, and there I was in this car not knowing
     where I was going, forty cents in my purse.... But I
     couldn't be there anymore; I couldn't be there another
     minute. I couldn't handle another second of the degradation
     (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997b: 4).
As the car roared away, Scientologists who witnessed her escape
screamed at her.  
     Other escape accounts exist, all of them indicating that
people were in the RPF program against their wills. Nevertheless,
some people allowed themselves to be talked back into the program
(or into a related program) by Scientology retrieval teams sent
out to bring them back. As Anne Rosenblum recounted, for example,
she escaped the RPF from the Fort Harrison in Clearwater by
slipping out of sick bay and jumping over a wall (Rosenblum,
n.d.: 6). She fled to the house of a Scientology friend who,
apparently, informed the organzation, and (along with four
Scientology 'escorts') convinced her to return and "route out" of
the Sea Org through standard Scientology procedures. In a
confused emotional state, she returned to the Fort Harrison and
remained under guard as she went through a number of Scientology
hearings in preparation for the organization releasing her.
Hubbard happened to offer a general amnesty to RPFers at this
moment, and she and several others accepted the offer. She
indicated that the organization ran her through security checks
"concerning whether we were taking any Scientology data with us,
what our intentions were when we left etc." Scientologists
searched her luggage for any items that she might have been
trying to remove, then had her sign an affadavit that listed all
of her alleged crimes "of this lifetime," which the organization
culled from her supposedly confidential auditing files
(Rosenblum, n.d.: 7). 
     Robert Vaughn Young informed me that he: 
     escaped down the river bed one night. Planned it for a long
     time. Got into Hemet and they [i.e., members of Scientology
     retrieval team] found me there at a motel. And this is where
     you get into the power of the organization--and without
     anyone laying a hand on me, I was convinced to go back to
     the RPF (Kent Interview with Young, 1994: 22). 
On a second escape attempt, however, he was not so lucky--he got
caught (Kent Interview with Young, 1994: 22). Apparently Hana
Whitfield also escaped the RPF (in Clearwater), but she, too, re-
entered after pressure from Scientologists who found her
(Whitfield, 1989: 7).
     Current Scientology opponent Lawrence (Larry) Wollersheim
also was caught trying to escape from the RPF operating on a ship
(presumably in the Los Angeles area) in 1974. As a court decision
in his favour determined:
     [u]ltimately, Wollersheim felt he could bear the [RPF]
     regime no longer.  He attempted to escape from the ship
     because as he testified later: 'I was dying and losing my
     mind.' But his escape effort was discovered. Several
     Scientology members seized Wollersheim and held him captive.
     They released him only when he agreed to remain and continue
     with the auditing and other 'religious practices' taking
     place on the vessel (California Court of Appeal, 1989:
The court used this example as "evidence" that Wollersheim
"accepted some of his auditing under threat of physical coercion"
(California Court of Appeal, 1989: 9274). While it would be
unwise to generalize from these accounts and suggest that all
inmates in RPF programs were in them involuntarily, certainly
some of them had not consented or chosen to be there. 

2. Accounts of Physical Maltreatment

     Undoubtedly the physical maltreatment that many people
experienced in various RPF programs was a factor in their desire
to escape. I hesitiate to say that all people experienced
physical maltreatment, since one informant who went through the
RPF at the Fort Harrison Hotel said that the daily schedule "was
not bothersome" and that he "got enough sleep" (Kent Interview
with Ernesto, 1997: 16, 17). He admitted, however, that he was
not assigned the heavy physical work, but only cleaned and
emptied garbage (Kent Interview with Ernesto, 1997: 16). Other
people, however, experienced a wide range of (what they
considered to be) physical abuses. 

A. Excessive Exercise--The Running Program

     Forced running was a universal aspect in the RPF, but
leaders also used it as a specific punishment. According to a
person who was on the Apollo, Hubbard devised the "running
program" as a punishment against a member whom he thought "needed
some discipline."  He ordered the member "to do fifty laps around
the prom[enade] deck. [The member] did about twenty and declared
[that] he had done fifty. I remember distinctly, and he got away
with it" (Kent Interview with Ernesto, 1997: 5). With the advent
of the RPF, running quickly became a standard punishment.
     The location of the running punishment, of course, varied
according to the location of the RPF program. Monica Pignotti,
who was in the RPF on the Apollo, wrote a particularly clear
description of the running punishment that she experienced in the
early months of 1975:
     We had to scrub down the entire bathroom, including all the
     bulkheads (walls) and ceilings. After we cleaned an area, it
     had to pass a white glove inspection. If the glove came up
     dirty, the person who cleaned the area had to run laps from
     bow to stern of the ship (about 1/5 of a mile each). One
     time, when my senior wasn't satisfied with the way I cleaned
     a bathroom, she ordered me to 'take a lap.' I protested
     because I thought she was being unfair and her reply was,
     'Don't Q&A with me. Take two laps.' I objected again and she
     said, 'Take four laps.' This went on until I was up to about
     10 laps, which I eventually had to do (Pignotti, 1989: 23).
Using the "technical" language of Scientology, Pignotti had been
put on "rocks and shoals"--penalties for Sea Org members
(Hubbard, 1976b: 449). 
     From her Fort Harrison RPF experience, Anne Rosenblum
indicated that the "rocks and shoals" punishments often included
sit-ups and push-ups in addition to running laps "up and down the
garage ramp" (Rosenblum, n. d.: 2). Dennis Erlich also reported
"having to run up and down the parking structure..." (Kent
Interview with Erlich, 1997: 16). In the Cedars complex in Los
Angeles, rocks and shoals involved "running the stairwells" or
taking "laps around the entire complex" (Kent Interview with Pat,
1997: 27). The most difficult running punishments apparently took
place at either the Gilman Hot Springs or Happy Valley RPF
programs, where formerly high ranking Sea Org members had to run
around either a tree or a pole for twelve hours a day.  Julie
Mayo indicated that she "was put on a running program for 12
hours a day, 7 days a week, and made to run around a tree in all
types of extreme desert conditions" (J. Mayo, 1996: 7). Her
husband, David, reported that he "was forced to run around a tree
in the desert in temperatures of up to 110 degrees for 12 hours a
day, 7 days a week for 3 months..." (D. Mayo, 1994: 3). Vicki
Aznaran made a similar claim about having "to run around an
orange telephone pole from 7:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. in the
evening, with 10 minute rests every one-half hour, and 30 minute
breaks for lunch and dinner" (Aznaran and Aznaran, 1988: 9).

B. Physically Demanding and Tiring Chores

     Labour was a central aspect to RPF programs, usually
involving maintenance and renovation. On the Apollo, RPF inmates
performed a number of cleaning jobs--scraping and painting;
scrubbing decks; etc. (Kent Interview with Dale, 1997: 6). While
on the RPF's RPF, Monica Pignotti was made "to go down and clean
muck from the bilges. That was my job all day long.... [A]nd I
had to clean all this sludge out and then paint--paint it.... I
was on it for five days..." (Kent Interview with Pignotti, 1997:
     While an account from the RPF in East Grinstead spoke about
"chipping the crust off cooker parts or painting stones" (Forde,
n. d.: 3), activities such as garbage disposal (Royal Courts of
Justice, 1984: 27), and cleaning bathrooms (Pignotti, 1989: 23;
Rosenblum, n. d.: 1), hallways (Rosenblum, n. d.: 1) and
stairways (Nefertiti, 1997: 10) was much more common. Vicki
Aznaran reportedly dug ditches (Aznaran and Aznaran, 1988: 11),
and Pignotti was part of an RPF team that did photo shoots for
pictures that appeared in the 1978 publication, What is
Scientology? (Church of Scientology of California, 1978). Gerry
Armstrong assembled course packs (Superior Court of the State of
California, 1984: 1462), but he also performed another common RPF
assignment--building renovation. 
     In the period around April, 1979, Armstrong worked on a team
that was renovating a house that was to be the dwelling of L. Ron
Hubbard (Superior Court of the State of California, 1984: 1475).
Andre Tabayoyon (1994: 24 [section # 116-117, 120-122]) spoke
about RPF "slave labor" (as he called it) building and renovating
numerous dwellings and buildings used by Scientology leaders and
their movie star friends. The most dramatic renovation accounts
came from Pat, whose RPF team (she stated) was involved in major
building renovations in southern California in the 1970s:
     the pressure kept mounting every day with the renovations. 
     Every day that passed there was greater pressure to get
     renovations done... until it got to the point that we were--
     and I swear to God this is true--we worked thirty hours on,
     three hours off. We worked shifts of thirty hours at a time.
     [W]e would work so many hours, Steve, that I, I remember
     [that] I would pass people and I--and we'd be in a dark room
     with a screw gun laying drywall in a completely dark room
     and I would pass and I would stop because I saw sparks
     flying off this thing and I'd go, 'hey, what's going on?,'
     and the person would just look at me with this dazed look
     saying, 'Oh, I, I don't know. I'm just looking at the
     sparks.' I mean, we were delusional we were so tired. I
     remember trying to construct a sentence and being unable to
     do so. You know, saying--knowing that I had to say, 'I need
     that screw driver,' and saying, 'I need that fence for the
     sandwich that isn't purple.' [...] I was unable to be at all
     coherent (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997: 25, 26).
Pat's thirty hour work shifts were unusual--Robert Vaughn Young
spoke about twelve hour work days (Kent Interview with Young,
1994: 18)--but Monica Pignotti reported that once she had to work
"for thirty-six hours straight with no sleep" because Hubbard had
ordered the whole ship to be cleaned (Kent Interview with
Pignotti, 1997: 14).

C. Poor Diet

     The heavy workload should have warranted a high calorie
diet, but several of the former RPF inmates complained about the
quality of the food. Despite what Tonya Burden identified as an
18 hour workday, she indicated that often she "received only
'rice and beans' and water" for her meals (Burden, 1980: 10).
Apparently Nefertiti ate what she called "soups or pigswills,"
only occasionally flavoured with milk (Nefertiti, 1997: 9). Pat
complained that "we were fed really dreadful food," which she
went on to clarify as "very institutional, very poorly prepared,"
and which included "scraps and what was left over" (Kent
Interview with Patti, 1997a: 24). Pignotti reported the common
refrain that her RPF cohort ate after the rest of the staff was
finished, but the leftovers that they ate came from the kitchen
and not items found on people's plates (Kent Interview with
Pignotti, 1997: 14; see Kent Interview with Dale, 1997: 6). Poor
diet may have been a contributing factor to Larry Wollersheim
loss of fifteen pounds during his six weeks on the RPF aboard a
ship (California Court of Appeal, 1989: 9269). 

D. Issues of Hygiene and Medical Care

     Worn down by a rigourous work schedule, and possibly
weakened further by marginal diets, RPF members were especially
susceptible to illness. On the Apollo, RPF members apparently had
trouble keeping their clothes dry (Kent Interview with Dale,
1997:6). On land, many RPF victims probably had a similar
problem, but now the dampness was the result of perspiration from
wearing work clothes in hot climates. Hana Whitfield, for
example, complained about having to wear heavy jumpsuits or
boilersuits in the hot Florida weather (Whitfield, 1989: 5-6).
Despite the obvious need for baths or showers, Whitfield revealed
that "[w]e were not allowed to shower longer than 30 seconds"
(Whitfield, 1989: 6). While in the RPF, Nefertiti saw firsthand
the problems that excessive sweating could cause women, and she
included a pertinent story in her recollection of her forcible
confinement experience: 
     We all suffered from heavy sweating. I recall this young
     woman suffering from an important [sic] infection which had
     been developing under her breasts. Instead of healing, the
     wound had been expanding to such a degree that purulent
     blisters had reached her navel (Nefertiti, 1997: 9).
Nefertiti was not the only former member to report having seen a
woman on the RPF with a severe skin problem--former member Lori
Taverna told city officials in Clearwater, Florida that she "saw
a few people who looked very sick[, including o]ne [who] had
sores all over her body, open sores" (City of Clearwater
Commission Hearings, 1982: 2-151). Another medical and hygienic
problem that women faced was "not having enough cash to buy a box
of Tampax [tampons]" (Nefertiti, 1997: 11).
     People faced health problems in a variety of areas. David
Mayo, for example, claimed that "I was refused medical and dental
treatment" while on the RPF, and "after escaping captivity I lost
six teeth and required thousands of dollars of dental work to
save the rest of my teeth" (Mayo, 1994: 3). Most seriously, Andre
Tabayoyon recalled working on "dangerous machinery" while on the
RPF's RPF and seeing a distressed co-worker "thrust his finger
into the machine which cut his finger off" (Tabayoyon, 1994: 10).

E. Sleeping Conditions

     Beyond these real and immediate issues related to hygiene
and medical care, many people spoke about issues related to
sleep. They complained (in retrospect) about their sleeping
conditions--the conditions of the mattresses; ventilation in the
rooms; crowded conditions; and inappropriate sleeping areas. From
different times and different locations, people spoke about the
deplorable condition of the mattresses on which they had to
sleep. Remembering the circumstances for sleeping on the Apollo,
Dale recounted that "we were given mattresses but the mattresses
we were given were old, filthy mattresses that... had to be
cleaned up.... A lot of them smelled..." (Kent Interview with
Dale, 1997: 6). Reflecting on her period of grueling work shifts,
Pat recalled that "when our thirty hours were up we'd get to
sleep. We would go to the roof of one of the buildings where it
was cold and there were these damp, disgusting mattresses that we
would just fall onto and sleep" (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997a:
     Mattresses frequently rested either on the ground or the
floor.  When, for example, Robert Vaughn Young was in isolation
in a converted chicken coop on the Gilman Hot Springs property,
he indicated that "there were some old mattresses that g[o]t
thrown down on the floor. You know, you talk about a crash
pad..." (Kent Interview with Young, 1994: 20; see A. Tabayoyon,
1994: 9 [para. # 35]). Adelle Hartwell was at one of the Indio
facilities at the same time that her daughter was there in the
RPF. Someone in charge of the RPF (presumably) put the mattresses
of the RPF people outside, and around the same time the daughter
fell ill. "During the heat of the day I would see her moving her
mattress from one shady spot to another to try and keep out of
the blazing sun and 115 degree heat. I have never seen illness
treated this way" (Hartwell, n.d.: 3). Like the sick daughter,
Vicki Aznaran may have meant that her mattress was not on a frame
when she stated that she and others were made to "sleep on the
ground" (Aznaran and Aznaran, 1988: 11). Certainly accounts from
the Fort Harrison RPF indicated that people slept on mattresses
strewn on the floor, usually in cramped, poorly ventilated rooms
(Armstrong, 1982: 3; Nefertiti, 1997: 12; Rosenblum, n. d.: 3;
Whitfield, 1989: 5). Ventilation was so bad the first time that
Monica Pignotti was on the Apollo's RPF that "we slept out on the
decks on towels because it was so stuffy down there [in the RPF]
and it was really horrendous conditions..." (Kent Interview with
Pignotti, 1997: 18).
     Even when RPF members had beds or bunks, significant
problems remained. While in an RPF program on a ship,
"Wollersheim and others were forced to sleep in the ship's hold. 
A total of thiry people were stacked nine high in the hold
without proper ventilation" (California Court of Appeal, 1989:
9274). At the Fort Harrison, Dennis Erlich and other RPF inmates
slept in bunks on the third floor of the outdoor parking
structure that adjoins the hotel, so they inhaled exhaust fumes
from cars (Kent Interview with Erlich, 1997: 3). Apparently the
women's sleeping facilities were nearby, because Anne Rosenblum
wrote that:
     [i]n December, 1978, we were moved to a storage area in the
     garage. It was a partly wooden, partly cement, enclosure
     built against one of the garage walls. It was built to be a
     storage area, but as the RPF grew so large, it was made the
     RPF's girl's sleeping area. Wooden bunks were built, that
     were about 1/2 to 1/3 the size of a regular twin bed. The
     bunks were built 3 and 4 stacks high, and were put in there
     side-by-side. Our 'mattresses' were pieces of foam cut to
     fit the bunks. It was like crawling into a hole to get into
     bed. You couldn't even sit up because of the bunk above you,
     and it was difficult to try to turn over because they
     weren't wide enough. The worst problem was that being in the
     garage, we inhaled all the car fumes when cars would go
     through, in addition to the noise of cars that [people
     taking courses] and staff would make driving in and out
     (Rosenblum, n. d.: 3).
It seems remarkable that health, zoning, or safety inspectors
never discovered these inappropriate sleeping quarters at the
Fort Harrison, but Hana Whitfield explained that "all RPFers were
practiced and skilled in transforming their normal RPF sleeping
areas into what looked like a regular furniture storage space,
and doing so in a very short period of time" (Whitfield, 1989:

3. Social Maltreatment

     The line between physical maltreatment and social
maltreatment was not always clear, yet certain activities
involving such occurrences as degradations, restrictions in
verbal and written communication, and very low pay seem
distinctive enough to warrant mention. RPF degradations were
many. They included having to wear jumpsuits or boiler suits
(Kent Interview with Pat, 1997: 22; Kent Interview with Young,
1994: 18; Superior Court of the State of California, 1984: 1432;
Whitfield, 1989: 5), and having to refer to everyone as "sir,"
(Rosenblum, n. d.: 2; Whitfield, 1989: 5), and RPFers were
prohibited from walking--running only (Rosenblum, n. d.: 1). 
     Many people indicated that their ability to communicate with
others was severely curtailed, although they expressed the
restrictions with slightly different emphases. Dale seemed to
capture the basic restriction when he informed me that "[y[ou
could not talk to anybody [who] was not on the RPF unless you
were spoken to..." (Kent Interview with Dale, 1997: 5; see Kent
Interview with Pat, 1997a: 23). Englishman Peter Ford stated that
someone on the RPF was "allowed to speak with only 1 person at
all (the MAA [or Master-at-Arms]," who directly oversaw the
program (Ford, n. d.: 3; see Pignotti, 1989: 24). Julie Mayo
insisted that she "was not allowed to talk to the rest of the
staff or even make a phone call" (J. Mayo, 1996: 8).
     These restrictions on communicating included one's mail and
telephone calls. Gerry Armstrong's accounts of RPF surveillance
and communication censureship were amplified by Robert Vaughn
Young, who wrote on the internet that he underwent interrogations
over the contents of letters exchanged with his wife while he was
incarcerated in the RPF program (Armstrong in Young, 1997: 1-2;
see S. Young, 1994: 29). In an affadavit, David Mayo swore that
"I was not permitted to make or receive phone calls and all
letters I wrote were read by Scientology security guards" (Mayo
1994: 3). Dramatically, Nefertiti recounted meeting a woman on
the RPF's RPF who was there because "she had sent a letter to her
husband--[a] member of the cult[--] revealing some details about
the RPF. One is not supposed to talk about the gulag. She had
violated the gulag's law of silence" (Nefertiti, 1997: 4).
     Communication restrictions extended to include the media. 
While on the RPF, people were not allowed to listen to the radio,
watch television, or read magazines and newspapers (Kent
Interview with Pat, 1997: 23; Rosenblum, n. d.: 2).
     For all of the deprivations that RPF members suffered, they
still received almost no salary. During his 1977 period in the
RPF, for example, Armstrong indicated that he received about
$4.30 a week for a hundred or more hours work (Superior Court of
the State of California, 1984: 1463). Likewise, "[i]n the RPF,"
Robert Vaughn Young revealed, "I got paid five dollars a week for
fourteen months" (Kent Interview with Young, 1994: 24), which was
the same amount the Pignotti collected (Kent Interview with
Pignotti, 1997: 17). Anne Rosenblum only got $4.00 a week
(Rosenblum, n. d.: 3).

4. Intensive Study of Ideology

     When neither punishments nor pressing work assignments
interfered with study time, RPF inmates spent up to five hours a
day studying Scientology doctrines and participating in numerous
auditing and security checking sessions. Each person worked with
a co-auditor, and one had to complete the RPF's auditing course
as well as successfully audit one's partner through it
(Rosenblum, n. d.: 2). It seems likely that the purpose of this
intense study was to infuse the person with Hubbard's teaching at
the same time that an other aspect of the RPF was operating--
forced confessions. That is to say, as one was studying what
Scientology considers to be the uncompromising truth, he or she
also was receiving continuous messages (through the forced
confessions) that the individual was weak, guilty, and completely
dependent upon the leader's doctrines for salvation (see Kent,
     The required study items and auditing actions became highly
structured, with a 1980 checklist of "RPF Graduation
Requirements" listing seven pages of courses, readings,
educational demonstrations, essays, auditing, and confessions
that inmates had to complete successfully in order to "graduate"
from the program (Boards of Directors of the Churches of
Scientology, 1980: 1-7). The checklist for just one course, for
example, required that RPF inmates read ninety-two Hubbard
bulletins, orders, and miscellaneous writings; perform ten
demonstrations of concepts; listen to six tapes; perform twenty-
six drills; write two essays; participate in ten hours of
auditing; plus complete three additional auditing assignments
(Board of Directors of the Churches of Scientology, 1974). 

5. Forced Confessions

     An intimate aspect of the ideological re-exposure,
therefore, involved RPF inmates repeatedly confessing to alleged
sins, crimes, and evil intentions (see Kent Interview with Dale,
1977: 9). According to Monica Pignotti, these forced confessions
took two forms. First, while "on" the e-meter: 
     [t]hey had prepared lists that they called security checks
     where they would ask you all kinds of questions on every
     possible thing a person could have done wrong--any possible
     thing you could think of in your life or... against the
     organization. 'Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever
     had any unkind thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard? About Mary Sue
     Hubbard? About Scientology?.... Have you ever committed
     murder?' Just a whole list where anything [might] read on
     the e-meter. And the auditor would say, 'What are you
     thinking of right now?' and you would have to answer the
     question until... the meter didn't read anymore... 
          [T]he other one that they did a lot of was repetitive
     commands: 'What have you done? what have you withheld? What
     have you done? What have you...' it was said over and over
     and over (Kent Interview with Pignotti, 1997: 15; see
     Supreme Court of the State of California, 1984: 1487-1490,
     see 2545-2546).
People confessed to all manner of crimes, including ones
allegedly from past lives (Nefertiti, 1997: 12). In essence,
Scientology's supposedly "religious" tool--the e-meter--became
the functional equivalent of a secular lie detector (see Kent
Interview with Erlich, 1997: 11):
     An important practical distinction between auditing and sec-
checking is that Scientology does not consider information
revealed in sec-checks to be confidential material (as auditing
information is supposed to be). Consequently, RPF inmates likely
realized that this information could be used against them at some
future time. At least two people, however, who had been though
the RPF stated that people on or associated with the RPF were in
fact culling people's auditing (or 'pc' or 'pre-clear') files for
crimes that people had to address (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997:
29; Supreme Court of the State of California, 1984: 2714). 
     Sec-checking could, and often did, become very intense and
unnerving. Before high-ranking Scientology leaders sent Stacy
Young to the RPF, they subjected her to what is called a "gang-
bang sec check" involving two or more people angrily and quickly
firing questions at someone in an attempt to break down the
person emotionally:
     Two very large, strong men..., locked me in a room and
     interrogated me for hours,  During the interrogation, they
     screamed and swore at me. They accused me of all sorts of
     crimes against Scientology. They demanded that I confess to
     being an enemy agent (S. Young, 1994: 28).
Julie Mayo appears to have experienced gang-bang sec checks, but
after she already was in the RPF program. RPF staff pulled in
Julie and fifteen other people late one night, and sat her:
     opposite from the three who faced me. I was told that unless
     I confessed to working for the IRS, the FBI, or other
     government agency, I was going to: A) be sent to jail; B)
     lose my eternity; C) be banned from [Scientology]
     tech[nology] lines forever.  When I said [that] I didn't
     work for a government agency, I was told that they might go
     lighter on me if I confessed to supplying [a person] with a
     mailing list. I said [that] I hadn't done that either, so
     [I] was told to go think about it and write my confession
     (J. Mayo, 1996: 7).
Presumably her husband, David, also went through similar
grillings, since he indicated that "I was often awakened during
the night and interrogated..." (D. Mayo, 1994: 3).

6. Success Stories

     For inmates attempting to complete the program, among the
final, obligatory activities that they must do is write success
stories about how the RPF transformed their lives. For years
prior to the RPF program, Hubbard had in place an organizational
requirement that Scientologists were required to provide glowing
accounts of Scientology's benefits, so the requirement that
inmates had to produce them about the RPF merely was following
policy. With public relations in mind, Hubbard wrote in 1968:
     [f]or purposes of distribution of Scientology and getting it
     into the hands of the millions, standard tech producing
     results and being broadcast by word of mouth by pcs [pre-
     clears--people below a certain level of courses] and
     students is one of the best programmes. People who have not
     had the results or wins are not likely to assist
     distribution and indeed are a liability (Hubbard, 1968: 140
     [emphasis in original]). 
Hubbard also realized that "win" stories provided invaluable
information about how people felt concerning their Scientology
experiences, so he wrote that "Success is the final police point
of an org. All [s]tudents and pcs must go to Success before
leaving an org even on a "leave of absence" (Hubbard, 1968: 140
[emphasis in original]). Success stories about RPF "wins,"
therefore, simply followed policy, and they also may have
provided some protection in the future if former RPFers became
critical of their incarceration in the program.  
     Far less extensive in content or design than the final
confessions that Chinese and Western victims of thought reform
programs had to write for their "re-educators" in the late 1940s
and early 1950s (see Lifton, 1961: 266-273, 473-484), the RPF
succees stories nevertheless appeared to follow an outline or
formula. In them, "graduating" RPFers had to acknowldge their
alleged previous deficiencies that justifed their RPF
assignments, praise the quality of Scientology instruction and
training that they have received in the RPF, identify how this
instruction and training combined with other aspects of the RPF
to positively transform their lives, and thank Hubbard and the
organization for their RPF experiences.      
     A published RPF "success" story from March, 1977,
illustrates the formula. A person identified only as "B.G.
proclaimed that:
     [t]he RPF is the most fantastic process LRH [L.Ron Hubbard]
     has yet devised. It's pure, no holds barred Scientology. And
     it's for real. When I walked in the door here several months
     ago the only thing I knew for certain was that there was no
     hope. I had totally and utterly betrayed LRH and all SO [Sea
     Org] [m]embers and Scientologists everywhere. And in so
     doing [I] had sold my future down the drain.
          ..... I found that, as an RPFer I had only two possible
     courses of action--Win, or die in the attempt, and I had 50
     or so tough, dedicated, confront anything fellows making
     sure I didn't die. While I've been here I've received the
     best auditing and training I've ever had....
          I'm about to graduate now. The greatest single win I've
     ever had in my existence I got right here. I know [that]
     Scientology works. I have total certainty on my ability to
     handle myself and others and on other's ability to handle me
     and others using LRH's Tech. And I know that the RPF is
     where it all comes together. It's where the RPF makes it and
     that's something. Thanks to LRH I have a future--and a damn
     bright one too! (Sea Organization, 1977: [5]).
Having followed the fomula--(acknowleding pre-RPF crisis,
praising RPF training and techniques, glorifying Hubbard, and
claiming a successful completion of the program), this person
probably was released from the RPF within a matter of days.
The Impact on Some Scientologists Who Saw the RPF in Operation
     Two very revealing accounts exist by people who were
Scientologists and had brief but disturbing encounters with RPF
inmates. Their accounts provide some indications of the
cumulative impact the brainwashing and confinement efforts had on
the people who experienced them.  One account was from former
member Joe Cisar, who:
     stumbled into the RPF's RPF one time in the tunnels below
     the Cedars complex in L.A. There w[ere] about a dozen people
     who apparently had been sleeping in these tiny rooms. (There
     were a couple of blankets on the floor.) Both men and women
     [were down there]. A man was cutting a woman's pant leg with
     a knife while she was wearing the pants, and he had sliced
     her foot. Blood was running down her ankle onto her foot and
     was puddling on the floor. She looked up at me and gave
     me... what I would consider to be an insane smile and said,
     'I caused my foot to be in the way of his knife.' Two or
     three of the people who were crouching and laying about on
     the floor looked up at me as if it were some kind of
     wonderful joke. I backed out the way I came in. One of
     Scientology's big promotion schemes is to tell people that
     they need to be 'at cause.'  These people weren't at cause
     over anything[. T]hey had degenerated back to the Middle
          That's what I knew about the RPF when the Scientology
     ethics officer told me to report down there for indefinite
     duty. I told her [that] they could get me down there, but
     I'd put several of them in the hospital first, and reminded
     her that I was a Viet Nam veteran. I was one of the few Sea
     Org members who had managed to hang onto [his or her] car,
     and I left that night (Cisar, 1997: 3).
One wonders what would have happened to Cisar had he not seen the
conditions of these inmates prior to his own RPF assignment.
     The other dramatic glimpse into RPF life came from Ann
Bailey, who was involved in moving Scientology into its newly
acquired former hospital (called the Cedars of Lebanon complex)
in the summer of 1978. After a move that taxed the levels of her
physical endurance, she found herself assigned to guard the
secret, upper level theological (Operating Thetan or OT)
documents that were in a room without a door. They were in the
former hospital's old morgue, and she sat there for hours amidst
the lingering "smell of death and chemicals and dissection"
(Bailey, n. d.: 60). Then:
     [s]uddenly during the third hour I was aware of shadows in
     the corridor beyond me. [T]hey were people. Slowly I
     realized that an entire group of people lived and worked
     down there. I was so tired [that] it took me a long time to
     realize who they were. Then it hit me. [They were t]he
     Cedars RPF. They lived and worked down in this stinkhole.
     This was their Org. Then I really found out what had
     happened to them. Filthy, tired, skeletons appeared before
     me and started begging to see the OT folders. I thought I
     looked bad, but I looked beautiful compared to them. They
     crowded around me pushing and shoving, then the mood turned
     ugly. They started hitting each other to get into the room
     behind me. I realized what had happened. They had been
     totally broken. They were animals, not humans. I saw four of
     my friends, one a Class Nine OT, fighting to get by me. They
     were punching each other in the face, pulling hair, kicking. 
     And way down in this cellar no one could hear them, no one
          Someone suddenly hit me hard. I realized [that] they
     were turning their anger on me[. T]hey would beat me up to
     get the folders. I guess in periods of deep stress we all go
     a little insane--[s]urvival of the fittest. From somewhere
     in my tired brain, strength came. I stood up with all my
     TR's [i.e.,  Scientology communication drills] as in as they
     had ever been, [and] all my training on control of groups
     came back. 'Friends,' I said. 'Believe me, I am your friend.
     By some strange fate I am not with you on the RPF. But
     believe me if you don't get out of here right now, I know
     [that] you will be punished. Go now before it's too late.'
     And they ran away into the dark. When I sat down I was
     trembling all over. Because the real intent of my message
     had been for them to get out of the hospital. Leave Cedars.
     But I don't think any of them got the message (Bailey, n.
     d.: 61-62).
She was out of Sea Org in a week.

Conclusion: Brainwashing as a Practice in Scientology and a
Concept in Sociology

     Taken together, the effect of these actions and pressures on
people who experience them can be profound. In environments where
the Scientology organization and its leadership attain totalistic
control over RPF inmates, researchers should expect to see a high
degree of conformity among recent RPF graduates. Certainly Monica
Pignotti was correct when she concluded that "[t]he lesson we
were to learn on the RPF was to obey orders without question,
regardless of how we felt about it or who was giving the orders"
(Pignotti, 1989: 23). Pat's conclusion was even crisper when she
answered that the RPF's purpose was "just re-indoctrination--just
to break you down" (Kent Interview with Pat, 1997b: 5). I go one
step further and add that the final intent of the RPF was (and
is) to mold people into the closed ideology of Scientology, where
members identify their goals and their strategies with those of
the organization. Working in conjunction with forced confinement
and various forms of physical and social maltreatment, the
intensive study of ideology combines with obligatory confessions
to severely weaken people's own moral structures and the values
that represent them. When successful, therefore, Scientology's
brainwashing leads people to accept the moral code and ideational
model of founder L. Ron Hubbard. As Gerry Armstrong realized,
people on the RPF necessarily "bec[a]me so compliant that they
thanked their punishers for the punishment, and wrote... success
stor[ies] (to be used against them in the future if they ever
realize [that] they had been abused and sought redress for that
abuse)" (Armstrong in Young, 1997: 5). Indeed, writing such a
story was a prerequisite for completing the RPF program.
     The implications of this study are modest but significant
for sociology (especially the sociology of religion) but much
greater for contemporary political and legal discussions. Social
scientists need not alter their definition of brainwashing, but
should simply acknowledge that at least one contemporary
ideological organization utilizes brainwashing in an attempt to
retain its members. While this study cannot answer crucial
questions about the long term implications for people who have
been through this particular brainwashing program (compare
Schein, 1961: 284), no doubt exists that Scientology's founder
gave considerable thought to brainwashing techniques and imposed
them on those of his followers whom he believed were harbouring
thoughts or performing actions against him or the organization.
The "brainwashing" term, therefore, has validity within some
social science discourse. 
     Contrary to the judgements of some social scientists, the
term also has validity in the discourse of politics and legal
debates, in this case about human rights in the context of
Scientology's non-religious status in Germany and America's
granting the organization tax-exempt status. German politicians
who oppose Scientology's quest for religious standing are well
versed in the existence of the RPF programs (see Kent, 1997), and
they are aware that the program still exists (Hessische
Allgemeine, 1997). Without question the RPF's operation violates
a number of human rights statutes, probably involving such topics
as freedom of religion and conscience, labour laws, arbitrary
arrest, forcible confinement, and protection of the dignity of
the human being (Kent, 1997: 39). The human right issues become
even more significant if the accounts of children and teenagers
on RPF programs are true (Jebson, 1997; Kent Interview with Dale,
1997: 4, 16; Kent Interview with Pat, 1997a: 32; Kent Interview
with Pignotti, 1997: 30). Ironically, as the United States
Department of State heightens its criticism against Germany's
handling of the Scientology affair, at least three of these
abusive programs continue to operate on American soil.


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