The Disconnection Order

Posted on September 23, 2010 by

The consequences of Scientology Disconnection Policy for children and their parents

“One of the main accusations made against Scientology is that it destroys personal and family ties and, ultimately, the personality itself. The destruction of personal and family ties inevitably leads to increased dependence on the Scientology organization. The way back is blocked, the exit more difficult. ”

Note: the writer of this study has experience of divorce but not of Scientology’s Disconnection policy, which may demand that children and young adults sever all contact with either or both of their parents.

Among the many other demands Scientology makes on its members is its Disconnection policy. Scientology may require them to break off all contact with specific family members, if, for example, they speak out publicly against Scientology. They are taught that persistent contact threatens their own spiritual well-being, even their immortality. When a person breaks the Scientology code the church presents all their Scientology contacts with an ultimatum: disconnect from that person or risk spending their eternity without any chance to become powerful and go free. Disconnect, or risk losing their family and their friends.

“A Scientologist can become PTS [Potential Trouble Source] by reason of being connected to someone that is antagonistic to Scientology or its tenets. In order to resolve the PTS condition, he either HANDLES the other person’s antagonism (as covered in the materials on PTS handling) or, as a last resort when all attempts to handle have failed, he disconnects from the person. He is simply exercising his right to communicate or not to communicate with a particular person.“ L. Ron Hubbard (10.September 1983, “PTSness and Disconnection”, Hubbard Communication Office)

Among its other implications, this order affects the relationship between parents and their children.

“Disconnection in Scientology is a rule which obliges Scientologists to break off any relationship with friends, colleagues or family members who are regarded as oppressive by the Scientology organization. Many marriages and families have been broken by the doctrine defined by L. Ron Hubbard. He stated that if a Scientologist associates with a Suppressive Person (SP), he can become a a potential trouble source (PTS).”

Children suffer immensely from the separation of their parents after a divorce. Many children blame themselves for the divorce of their parents. If the parents are not sensitive and sympathetic towards their children, they can suffer psychological damage and separation anxiety. So today psychologists and other professionals recommend that parents should stay “parents”. Even when they no longer fulfill their roles as spouses it is important for the children to see them as a “team”.

“As you can see from the present study, a divorce is always a painful and damaging event for children. It pushes them to the limits of their mental capacity. The change in their lives is equated with the collapse of everything that constituted its foundation: namely their coexistence with their mother and father. The acute change of feeling on the part of the parents unsettles the children. Children feel that they are powerless and have little control over what is happening around them. Because the parents in the child’s thinking belong together, the impending separation comes as a shock.

Children who have recently gone through a divorce have special needs and feelings. We must never forget that many such children feel that they share responsibility for the divorce. For this reason, therapists advise that children should get involved in advance of the separation process and be given answers to their questions that are appropriate for their age, so that they can understand that although the couple has separated, they both remain his parents. It is never recommended in any circumstances to vent one’s own rage and despair on one’s son or daughter. But it often happens that divorced people still go over their differences and their conflicts years after the separation to the detriment of children. ”

Children feel that they are alone and become sad. This unsettling childhood experience sooner or later affects their confidence in the reliability of human relationships. One can only recommend again and again that parents going through a divorce should unfailingly give their strength and attention to their children and concentrate less on the circumstances and conditions of the divorce.

“The long-term effects of divorce on children have been laid out by the American scientists Dr. Judith S. Wallerstein and Julia Lewis in a pioneering study which went on for 25 years. The results show that divorce had lasting effects. Even when they came to marry themselves, the divorce of their parents played a central role. Adult children were torn between a longing for love and commitment on the one hand and fear of failure in their relationship on the other. Secondly, hurt and a fear of being abandoned or betrayed play a key role in their personalities. Children who have experienced divorce have themselves a higher divorce rate than young people from intact families. These children obviously lack the model of two people living together in a loving relationship. ”

We now come to the situation of those Scientology children who, because of the disconnection policy, have been separated from one or even both parents or from their siblings. You can see what serious consequences this must have for them.

Scientologists have fundamentalist beliefs and are obliged to follow them. They are taught that they live in a strongly black-and-white world in which there is only good and evil, but the innermost feelings of disconnected children must be ambivalent, because they love their parents, like any other children. I believe this forced separation entails the same severe mental disorders, such as separation anxiety, relationship problems and attachment disorders, that one finds in the children of divorced parents.

In HCOPL 20.10.81 (included in the PTS course page 279) we are told that in the original (now re-established) Directive the PTS person is required to “handle” the situation or cancel the connection… To “handle a situation” means to remove the actual or perceived threat to Scientology, in other words, to remove any contact with the SP or suppressive person. Most SPs are other family members, parents or children. The PTS or Potential Trouble Source is a member of Scientology, often a family member, who is seen as a potential source of problems for Scientology.

Every PTS should write a PTS report for the Ethics section and with the help of the Ethics Officers find the WHY for the antagonism in her family, and then really begin to clean up the situation. “An Ethics Officer can encounter a situation where someone is factually connected to a suppressive person, in present time. This is a person whose normal operating basis is one of making others smaller, less able, less powerful. He does not want anyone to get better, at all. “In truth, an SP is absolutely, completely terrified of anyone becoming more powerful. In such an instance the PTS isn’t going to get anywhere trying to “handle” the person. The answer is to sever the connection.”

This puts children into a strong emotional trap. If they are involved in separation or divorce, they have the choice of staying with the Scientology parent or the SP. If the child stays with the Scientology parent he has sided with the organization against his SP parent. After every contact the child has to write knowledge reports (KRs) about a loving mother or father. The cult even sell a PTS/SP course to learn Scientologists how to deal with this situation.

The title of this course explains exactly what is to be found in it: “How to confront and smash oppression.” This course is designed to identify those who specifically oppose a person’s effectiveness in the organization. And once they are identified, something must be done about them.
Ursula Caberta, “Kindheit bei Scientology verboten”, 2008, S. 112

Children and young people learn from this “course” that a beloved parent is the reason that, for example, his progress in his Scientology career is stalled. Thanks to the abusive and manipulative mind-control which is the essence of the cult, a Scientology child believes that his progress in Scientology career is the most important thing in his life. It is also important to understand that, in accordance with the teachings of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, children in Scientology are treated as they were adults. They are given the same training, the same discipline, the same auditing session as adults. For the same reason children also do clerical work and manual-work for the organisation.

“So that there can be no doubt that the child has truly disconnected from the offending relative, the course material teaches that anyone who has difficulties in suppressing their links with a PTS must himself be recognised as PTS. If disconnection is not implemented, they will be seen as encouraging hostile forces and even encouraging them.”
Ursula Caberta “Kindheit bei Scientology verboten” 2008 p. 112, 113

Any child in such a situation suffers from serious conflicts of conscience. He feels responsible for the many things that may go wrong within the organization and its environment. This will most probably persuade him to disconnect from his beloved parent. For, like all other Scientologists, this child is responsible for saving the world. Second only to his own future within Scientology this is the child’s most important belief. He does not want to become a suppressive person. This means that he will decide against other family members, including his parents if necessary.

“Anyone who does not obey an order to disconnect from a loved one will very rapidly find that he himself has become an enemy, a suppressive, and subject to disconnection by other members of the organisation.
Ursula Caberta “Kindheit bei Scientology verboten” 2008 p. 113

If one looks at the consequences of a normal divorce and the additional burden placed on children and young people in a divorce in a Scientology family, the psychological consequences for the children are hard to imagine. If they have a non-Scientology parent he or she is declared to be the worst person in the world and someone that must be destroyed. And the child is denied any of the psychotherapeutic help available to other children.

Fair Game
Disconnection did not merely involve the suspension of any contact, by mail or telephone or in person between a child and his SP parents and siblings. It condemned these people to a process of harassment by Scientology which at one time was known as Fair Game.

A suppressive person, as an enemy of Scientology, is considered fair game: He “may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologists. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed “(Foster Report p. 129).

Hubbard did not say that this policy was cancelled. All that was changed was the official use of this term. Fair Game as a means of bullying persistent critics continues to this day. “The practice of declaring people FAIR GAME will cease. FAIR GAME may not appear on any Ethics Order. It causes bad public relations. This P/L does not cancel any policy on the treatment or handling of an SP.” (OEC 1, 489 HCOPL 21.10.68).

Security Checks (Wikipedia, 19 September 2010)

Whenever a child returns from a visit to a parent, or even from a phone-call, he or she has to undergo a sec check. The Security Check was instituted by L. Ron Hubbard in 1960 and is essentially a punishment. It involves an Ethics officer probing the thoughts, attitudes and behavior of the child by asking them large numbers of questions. The truth of the answer is revealed by the use of the e-meter, a form of lie detector.

A special Sec Check is designed to be used on children aged 6 to 12 (HCO Bulletin of 21 September 1961, also known as HCO WW Security Form 8.) It runs through 99 questions, such as:

— What has somebody told you not to tell?
— Have you ever decided you didn’t like some member of your family?
— Have you ever taken something belonging to somebody else and never given it back?
— Have you ever pretended to be sick (ill)?
— Have you ever made yourself sick (ill) or hurt yourself to make somebody sorry?

In 1966, the Daily Mail, a reputable British newspaper, quoted a disconnection letter from Scientologist Karen Henslow to her mother:

“Dear Mother, I am hereby disconnecting from you because you are suppressive to me. You evaluate for me, invalidate me, interrupt me and remove all my gains. And you are destroying me.
“I [unreadable] from this time consider myself disconnected from you and I do not want to see you or hear from you again. From now you don’t exist in my life.”

Henslow claimed this letter had been mailed without her permission but it follows form.

In New Zealand c.1969, teenage Scientologist Erin O’Donnell wrote to her non-Scientologist aunt: “If you try to ring me, I will not answer, I will not read any mail you send, and I refuse to have anything to do with you in any way whatsoever. All communication is cut completely.” This makes plain that she had been required to choose between family relationships and continued involvement in Scientology.
Thirty years ago, a boy of 12 years was told to disconnect from his SP father. “I had to call him and tell him or I would not be allowed to communicate with my mother or sisters. My mother made the call and handed me the phone. Over 30 years later I still have not forgiven myself. My father forgave me, But I will never forgive those who abuse children. I never forgave my Mother, not even on her death bed. After I completed the HQS course I could take a week off with my friends but I still could not see my father. I was denied an education. Children in Scientology take years to catch up if we ever get the nerve to leave all we know, all we were allowed to know.” From ESMB June 2010.
In 1984, the Daily Mail brought up further examples of disconnection, including that of a 13-year-old boy who disconnected from his father.

In 1995, the UK local paper Kent Today talked to Pauline Day, whose Scientologist daughter Helen had sent a disconnection letter and then dropped all contact, even changing her phone number.

In 2008, Jenna Miscavige Hill spoke out about the effect of disconnection on her family. After her parents left and she remained in the group, she had been forbidden to answer the telephone in case she spoke to them. Her parents only restored occasional access to her by threatening legal action. Another second-generation Scientologist, Astra Woodcraft, told ABC’s Nightline that she had been forbidden any contact with her father once he left the Church and she was still a member. She used her weekly laundry time to meet him in secret.

Paul Haggis, a film director, in his 2009 resignation letter from Scientology, wrote: “We all know this policy exists,” and said his wife had been ordered to disconnect from her ex-Scientologist parents, “although it caused her terrible personal pain. For a year-and-a-half, [she] didn’t speak to her parents and they had limited access to their grandchild. It was a terrible time.” (Wikipedia 19 September 2010)

From ESMB, 28 May 2010:

“And here I am with my dad disconnected from me. I don’t know which is worse, kids disconnecting from parents, or parents disconnecting from their children. When I moved out of my dad’s place last month, he didn’t seem upset. In fact, he didn’t say a single word. That hurts.

Posted in: Child Abuse, English