Auditing is the secret technique at the heart of Scientology, the evil technique designed by L. Ron Hubbard which gave him mastery over his followers. Auditing is at the heart of all the damage done by Scientology. Those it affects are seldom aware of the fact that their minds are no longer their own. The normal person suffers from dreams and nightmares but knows as soon as he or she wakes up that the experience was not real, even when it was very realistic. But when he is subjected to auditing the dreamer never wakes up. He will open his eyes but he is never returned to the real world. He can easily be persuaded that his imaginary memories are real, that they belong to previous lives (and in a nice circular exploitation, that they are evidence for previous lives), that they are a real element in the person’s memory and not merely dreams or inventions. To the extent that such fantasies or hallucinations become embedded in the person’s conscious memory they replace his own memories and mechanisms.
‘What do you feel?’
‘Thank you! Repeat that, please. ‘
‘Good! Once again.’
‘Great! Once more.’
‘Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.’
Exhausted, I stop.
‘Thank you’, urges Marion, the auditor, her voice like a cloud somewhere in my consciousness… By now I had completed my own auditor training and the rituals of the sessions were familiar to me: to close my eyes, to concentrate. The auditor asks about conditions: is there any reason not to start the session? She sets the E-meter, and says: ‘Start of session.’
‘I’m cold,’ I say.
‘Fine. Repeat that, please.’
My skin shrinks painfully; flares explode on my retina.
‘Okay. Repeat that, please.’
Marion’s request is quiet and calm. I keep my eyes closed, though I would like to have a cigarette. My nervous tension is already looking for an outlet. How long have we been sitting here?
‘Thank you! Once again.’
‘I’m cold, I’m cold, I feel cold, I’m cold.’
‘Thank you. Why you are cold?’
Why am I cold? Gray-green light billows in front of my eyelids. What shall I answer?
‘I repeat my auditing instructions. Why are you cold?’
Marion will not give up. She wants an answer. Again and again she asks me why I’m cold. I feel helpless to resist the pressure of this constant repetition. I could end the whole thing by rebelling, just once, and leaving the session. But if I question the rules of auditing, I am also questioning the whole of Scientology. Gray-green light. Gray-green water? I begin to make random associations. In the water I am always cold.
‘I repeat, the auditing instructions. Why you are cold?’
I give a determined answer: ‘Because I am in the water.’
‘What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you smell? What do you taste?’
Her questions hammer at me. She goes through the sensory impressions in order to catch a corner of my memory. I listen intently to myself. If I’m in the water, then I ought to hear something.
‘I hear the surf,’ I respond with resolve and in fact I hear something that might be surf. I almost think I taste the salt air and smell a fishy smell. Marion now holds me in her hand and lowers me deeper and deeper into the dark pit of my subconscious. My defences grow gradually weaker. I am looking for plausible explanations, and more and more images move through my mind.
A stabbing pain twitches through my arm.
‘What do you feel?’
‘Thank you! Where do you feel the pain?’
‘In my arm.’
‘Fine. What about your arm?’
‘I don’t know; it hurts.’
‘Good. Please repeat: it hurts’.
‘Thank you! Once again.’
‘It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.’
‘Great! Where are you now?’
I’m cold, my arm hurts, and I feel helpless and alone, as if I were on the bottom of a cold green lake.
‘I repeat my auditing directive: Where are you now?’
‘On the floor of a cold, green lake,’ I answer instinctively and numbly. I search for logical explanations, I try to link the images. I am still trying to stay in control of my thoughts but control is slowly slipping away. Deeper and deeper I sink, and I whisper my answer.
‘Where are you sinking?’
A hermetically sealed bell juts out above me, I breathe spasmodically, as if under a heavy load. The gray-green light is dark… darkness is growing and I switch on the lamp. My back tenses with disgust when I see parts of a body in the light of the lamp… What happened to me in this place? My body twists and turns in my chair, as I turn in the currents of water and wind… I begin to search frantically for the slightest clue to help me explain these oddities of my subconscious. It is hopeless. The more I resist the horror that seizes me, the more it stuns my senses. Again and again the voice of the auditor forces me to look, to perceive what is happening around me, what I feel, taste, smell. This voice prompts me to reveal my fear, to describe my disgust, my hope, my desire to escape from the horror, to get out. The nightmarish horror increases with every second, but I still have hope that this experience is entirely or partially a fantasy of my overwrought senses. It is not true, I can’t do it any more.
‘Repeat, please: I can’t do it.’
‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it.’
What I can not do? I want to give up. What do I want to give up? What is my purpose? Above me is the gray-green light, I want to rise to the surface, but between me and the light hovers a dark shadow, like a great evil animal. This stops me emerging from the shadows before my task is fulfilled. What is my task? My mind works feverishly.
If I accept that I am rational and conscious, then I have gone beyond the barriers that separate the past and the present… I no longer fight against the urgent voice, because I now know, with absolute clarity, where I am.
It is war. Our ship sails through an ocean, I do not know which one. The dark shadow of the hull in the gray light of me reminds me of my job… The ship has been disabled by heavy steel cables entangled in its propeller. I have to clear them out and am committed to do so… I do not know exactly how it happened, but when I cut through a cable, it ripped off my arm. Shocked and stunned, I experience the loss of my arm, my death experience in the icy waters.
‘Thank you! What about your arm?’
‘It’s gone,’ I answered indifferently. ‘My arm is gone, and I’m cold.’
I feel miserable and cry. I taste salt water on my lips, mixed with saliva. I shake suddenly with hysterical sobs. Tears. Salt water. I’m drowning on the floor of a cold, green lake!
For a while the voice is quiet, no new questions. I abandon myself to meaningless weeping… My consciousness has slowly split. There are voices somewhere in space, but I pay no attention. I am floating, dead and cold, without an arm, in cold, green sea water. Poor Norbert! Dead and cold. Once again, I sob in despair, faced with my own death… But from somewhere a giggle rises. I feel a further split in time and look at the body floating in the water. I have just separated myself from his grief and his sorrow. Now I giggle audibly. Loud and clear I say: ‘Dead and cold, with no arm, in cold, green salt water!’ Why do I say this? Was that my voice? Who am I? Where am I? ‘Repeat that, please!’
I giggle to myself. Why am I dead? Ah yes, the injured arm! How did I lose my arm? Marion’s voice asks me again to say something, to go on, if I hesitate. Please repeat that. Please repeat that. Please repeat that. Endless. Timeless. Your own reality gets lost in endless repetition. Go back to the beginning of the action. Thank you. Go through the events. Thank you. What do you feel? Thank you.
I have doubts about my own reality. Who I am inside? Where am I? Feelings come flooding back. Again and again I am asked to describe my feelings. ‘What do you feel?’ I feel miserable, I feel lonely and abandoned. I am no-one!
‘Thank you. What do you feel?’
If I say yes now then we are finished. No arm, no friends, just dead, cold in the water. Ha! Should I get excited about it myself? That would be too funny!
‘I repeat my auditing instruction: what do you feel?”
It would be too funny if I said yes.
Laughter shakes me now. I’m dead and I am alive. Somehow that’s OK.
‘Have you got anything more to say?’
‘Thank you. Cleared. I’m going to slowly count from one to ten. When I flick your finger, you can open your eyes and you will feel alert and refreshed.”
As far as the auditing of public Scientologists is concerned, it is questionable to what extent they get involved with situations like that described above, or can be a support to the audited person. The person audited is left alone after auditing and the processing of his emotions is something he has to deal with himself. The auditor considers the problem as ‘cleared’, deleted or solved, and therefore something that no longer exists. Norbert Potthoff contradicts this view. In the epilogue to his book, ‘Escape from the Vicious Circle: Seven years of Scientology Seven years on’, he writes: ‘As I was writing this book and – in spirit – making my way once more through Scientology, the challenge was greater than I had anticipated. I had deliberately allowed a few years to win peace and distance, but even so I lived through it all again with a shocking intensity. For several months I experienced fear, anger, disgust, sweats, particularly when I described my former auditing.’
Potthoff was gifted not only with a sensitive and creative intelligence but with a degree of mental control and scepticism that left part of his mind throughout detached and observant. The proof of this is that after seven years he was still able to make a clean break and pursue an independent career.
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