Addition to Foreword
Steve Hassan’s Unabridged Foreword
Text from Steve Hassan’s original foreword, abridged in the printed version
WORKING AS A CLINICAL PROFESSIONAL and commenting on social dangers such as terrorism and public traumas for nearly four decades, I’ve become familiar with the media interview process and discussing controversial cult-related topics.
During that conference, Karen and I captured two interviews on video for my Freedom of Mind website. She shared experiences about abuse of staff, maltreatment of children in the Sea Organization, how Scientology policies destroy families (including her own) through disconnection and enforced abortions, and how Scientology damaged her relationship with her then husband, Peter Schless, after they had enjoyed many years together prior to Scientology.
To a large measure, I feel that the unprecedented exposure of Scientology is happening because of former members telling their stories, including celebrities speaking out against abuses, such as Paul Haggis, Jason Beghe, and Leah Remini through her A&E series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. There’s never been a better time for celebrities—not just of Scientology but of every mind-control cult—to come forward and say, You know what—It wasn’t because I was stupid or vulnerable, it wasn’t because I was a bad person or had a messed up life, it wasn’t because I was religious that I joined that group. It was because I wanted to help the world become a better place but was deceived and manipulated that I spent so many years of my life in it, and gave up so many opportunities to advance my career, to advance my education, to have a family.
After I left the Unification Church in the ‘70s and spoke out against the Moonies in ’76, I befriended an ex-Scientologist who introduced me to journalist Paulette Cooper. Her book The Scandal of Scientology, led to harassment by the Scientology organization that attempted to ruin her career. Paulette and I had become friends, so I was highly aware of the intensely vindictive acts they perpetrated in her life.
If anyone is involved with a controlling group that demands a lot of their time, energy, and money—and the group gives the message Don’t look for yourself at the other side; don’t look at the critical information; don’t trust those ex-members, even though those ex-members were the leaders of the group responsible for recruiting so many people—I recommend that you consider taking a Time-Out from the group, for your own well-being. Give yourself a chance to clearly reflect on your routines: stop doing all the rituals, the processing, the contact with the group, for a minimum of three days, but a week or a month is even better. If you’ve been involved for more than five years, I recommend that you take at least one month away from any contact with the group—away from their books, their videos, their texts in your cell phone. Find out for yourself what the critics and the former members say about the group. Reflect back on your own experiences. Ask yourself: When I first met this group, what did I think it was? Compare it with what you know about it now. If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, would I have ever gotten involved? And if the answer is no, I wouldn’t—you know that it’s time to leave. There are other helpful models of mind control available; it’s a good idea to know them.
My message to people who have left or who are thinking about leaving a group: Life is precious, and life is too short! If you know you are not living well, are living with fears and anxieties, you still use loaded words that you learned in the group and you are still thinking in those words, it is time to reach out! We are hoping this book will help to bring even more people forward to speak up, so members of Scientology and other cultic groups will read this story and identify with it so powerfully that they will step past the perceived stigma that uneducated people have toward individuals who are involved with these groups.
Steven Hassan, M.Ed., LMHC, NCC
Boston, MA – May 2017