683 of 707 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2013
Imagine if you were reading a novel that included a character who wrote sci-fi novels, was obsessed with wealth and status symbols, was paranoid about the government, treated others badly, and yet started a religion as a business venture that attracted thousands of devoted followers. You'd probably say, "yeah, right; a nice allegory for an aspect of the American psyche, but I don't think so." Although, if you were familiar with Scientology, you might not be so surprised.
Many aren't familiar with Scientology, in part because the Scientologists have been relentless and devoted to stamping out dissent and negative portrayals of their religion (previous books on L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology's founder ended up with the publisher abandoning the project due to law suits and the British publisher of this book, dropped it for fear of libel law suits [which are easier to win in the UK]). New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright, who is known as one of our great investigative journalists, has prepared himself by doing an incredible amount of due diligence and fact checking (apparently the fact checkers at the New Yorker, which first published an article on Scientology by Wright, made herculean efforts to make sure they got the facts right).
Scientology does not come off well in Going Clear. Wright portrays Scientology as in large part an expression of L. Ron Hubbard's whimsy: "Even as Hubbard was inventing the doctrine, each of his decisions and actions would become enshrined in Scientology lore as something to be emulated -- his cigarette smoking, for instance, which is still a feature of the church's culture at the upper levels, as are his 1950s habits of speech, his casual misogyny, his aversion to perfume and scented deodorants, and his love of cars and motorcycles and Rolex watches. More significant is the legacy of his belittling behavior toward subordinates and his paranoia about the government. Such traits stamped the religion as an extremely secretive and sometimes hostile organization that saw enemies on every corner."
Wright, however, does not create a simple portrayal of Hubbard and Scientology. He grants him greater complexity than a simple con man. It seems Hubbard, who had a fertile imagination and intelligence (amazingly, he wrote 1,000 books--no small feat even if you were just the typist), believed in his own ideas. Obviously, there was something powerfully charismatic about him, but as someone who tends to gloss over at Hubbard's cosmology and "discoveries," it's hard to understand (and watching an interview of him online didn't shed any light for me on his appeal). It seemed that Hubbard was a congenital fibber--one of those people for whom reality just wasn't good enough so he had to embellish it and ultimately couldn't himself separate out his fantasies from reality. What's whacky and fascinating is that he got others to deeply believe in his ideas too. Why though? It was that part of this overall incredibly researched book that I found a bit lacking.
The big picture how he did it is that Hubbard parlayed the success of Dianetics, his self-help bestseller, into a religion. In a way Scientology is a truly modern religion in that it mixes a faux-scientific veneer (it's founder after all was a sci-fi writer) with a belief system and psycho-spiritual approaches. What I wanted was a better understanding of how that self-help book>religion initial transition actually worked. Not what are Hubbard's beliefs, but how he created believers. Hubbard seemed oblivious, even allergic, to practical details. It seems his third/ish wife (his marriage to his second wife wasn't legally sanctioned) Mary Sue, was the real organizer, but I still was left scratching my head about that leap from self-help and sci-fi writer to guru. It was clear what was in it for Hubbard; he became fabulously wealthy and revered. But what was in it for the followers, especially the initial ones who didn't have legions of fellow believers to bolster Hubbard's saintly status?
Going Clear, however, is not just about L. Ron Hubbard. Wright covers the violent and tight-shipped rule of David Miscaviage. Miscaviage comes off as a classic tyrant (the purges and public community confessions reminded me of Mao's China) who needs to be deposed, yet he seems to have built an impregnable fort around him. As an outsider, one is mystified as to why Scientologists would accept such abuse. But by the time Miscaviage's associates get to his inner circle they have invested years in the religion and all their friends and often family are believers. Being cast aside comes with a very heavy cost.
Overall, this is a very worthwhile book. It reads well and raises interesting questions about what is a scam and what is a religion (for example, we mostly accept belief in a virgin births or parting seas as part of legitimate religions, but balk at Hubbard's visions of outer space theology). There are no easy answers, but one is left by a very uneasy feeling about Hubbard's legacy.
338 of 356 people found the following review helpful
I've read another summary of Scientology - Wright's is far superior, and I especially like his detailing of the church's beliefs. He traces Scientology from its origin in the imagination of science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, its struggle to become accepted as a legitimate (and tax-exempt) religion, efforts to infiltrate governments (placed up to 5,000 Scientologists as spies in government agencies around the world, charging them with finding officials files on the church to help generate intimidating lawsuits,' vindictive treatment of critics (favorite weapon - lawsuits intended to bury the defendant in legal costs) and many who leave its ranks (often incarcerated in deplorable conditions for years and further punished if they tried to escape), and its impressive wealth. The objective, per Wright, of Scientologists, is to climb up the Bridge to Total Freedom's innumerable steps and then achieve eternal life. The organization's major goal is recruiting new members, increasingly achieved via exploiting celebrities such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta - he credits Scientology with putting his career into high-gear), and enlisting young members into its Sea Organization clergy - often as young 10 - 12 year-old children signing up for billion-year contracts and work under poor conditions for little/no payment (eg. 90-hour weeks for $50/week, with one day off for schooling) and pressured to undergo abortions if they became pregnant. (A billion years is but a temporary job in Scientology - they contend the world is already four quadrillion years old, and attaining immortality should certainly extend beyond one billion more years.)
Scientology informally claims to have 8 million members (based on the number who have contributed members) and welcomes another 4.4 million new people every year. (Obviously, something is suspect about the numbers, unless Scientology has an incredibly high and fast dropout rate.) More credible is the estimate of a former high-level publicity person for the group - he estimated it only has 30,000 members, while the Statistical Abstract of the United States puts the number at 25,000. The church is believed to hold about $1 billion in liquid assets and 12 million square-feet of property, including 26 properties in Hollywood valued at $400 million and 68 more in Clearwater, Florida, valued at another $168 million. Besides donations from members, Scientology also obtains the revenues from 1,000+ books written by Hubbard. (Hubbard's 'Dianetics' book sold 18 million copies, per the church.) David Touretzky, computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon estimates that all the coursework costs nearly $300,000, and the additional auditing (including 'repair auditing') and contributions expected of upper-level members may run the total to over half a million dollars.
There are three levels of Scientologists. 'Public Scientologists' constitute the vast majority, many of these first solicited onto it in shopping malls or transit venues. They're first led to a Scientology location where they're given 'stress tests' with a quasi lie-detector (E-meter - again, adding to the 'science' label) or personality inventories that entice them into paying for courses or auditing therapies that address problems most on their minds. The second level is constantly pursued to boost its recruitment appeal and advance its causes such as attacks on psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry for their having spoken out against Scientology, and promotion of its theories of education and drug rehabilitation. Anne Archer, Ted Danson, Michelle Pfeiffer, George Clooney, and Greta Van Susteren have been involved. The third level is that of its clergy, the Sea Organization, estimated to number about 4,000, concentrated in L.A. and Clearwater.
Scientologists believe Hubbard discovered the existential truths of their doctrine through extensive research (hence, 'science') into the writings of Freud and others; he was not visited by an angel (eg. Mormonism) or divine (eg. Jesus), though he also states that his first insights came in a dentist's office while under sedation. Hubbard then 'realized' that 75 million years ago an evil overlord named Xenu sent human thetans to Earth in space vehicles resembling DC-8s. Supposedly Hubbard also healed himself of crippling war injuries; no injuries or combat service is documented in U.S. Navy records - supposedly because Hubbard was in secret intelligence work. He defined Scientology's goals as creating a civilization without insanity, criminals, or war, where Man is free to rise to greater heights - this idealism appeals to the young. Another fertile recruiting ground - drug users who have become open to the idea of alternative realities.
Therapy and evaluation (sometimes involving hypnosis) sessions focus on areas of supposed stress that cause the E-meter to jump, eventually to cleanse the mind of obsessions, fears, and irrational urges, thereby allowing the subject to 'Go Clear.' Often the process has led participants to recall past lives. Hubbard contended we are thetens, immortal spiritual beings incarnated in numerous lifetimes. (However, per Hubbard, when a thetan discovers that he is dead, he should report to Mars for a 'forgetter implant.' The ultimate goals of evaluating is to not just liberate one from destructive mental phenomena, but also from the laws of matter, energy, space, and time. Once free of these limitations, the theten can roam the universe or even create new ones. Supposedly one who is Clear has flawless memory and the ability to perform mental tasks at great speed, as well as being less susceptible to disease. No credible examples, however, have been found, per Wright's research. Hubbard also reportedly cured 49er quarterback John Brodie's arm injury.
Film director Paul Haggis (Oscar-winning, with an extensive Hollywood background) is a major figure in 'Going Clear,' with Wright documenting his story of indoctrination into the church and leaving 34 years later because he was ashamed of its support for California's gay-marriage ban ballot proposition and its is smearing of ex-members, and calling it a cult.
One has to wonder why those imprisoned by Scientology didn't walk out and call police. One explanation is the 'Stockholm syndrome,' lack of external friends is another, and a third is that they were told they would have to pay back eg. $100,000 for Scientology classes they had taken.
Wright also reports that Hubbard beat his second wife (married in a bigamous relationship, unknown to her), then tortured her with sleep deprivation, strangulations, and 'scientific torture experiments,' kidnapped their daughter, reported her to the FBI as a Communist, and suggested that she kill herself so he didn't have to incur the stigma of a divorce. She (Sara) declined, and after the divorce ran from him with her child as fast as she could.
The 'bad news' is that Hubbard has been replaced by a reportedly authoritarian and violent David Miscavige. Scientologists now are encouraged to sever relations with non-believing relatives, and some marrieds are forced to divorce.
Could such an obnoxious person who made things up science-fiction style as he went along also serve as a credible founder of a 'real' religion, and would a 'real' religion treat members such as Scientology has? Read Wright's excellent 'Going Clear' and decide for yourself.
P.S.: Tom Cruise doesn't come out unscathed either. Wright tells us the church sent several young women to live with him, and that he received a considerable amount of free labor from young church adherents as part of their 'service.'
236 of 250 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Wow, this book is amazing. Both this and Reitman's Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion are required reads for those interested in Scientology. The Scientology website does not tell you the whole story. That is a proven, documented, fact. I also say this as a former Scientologist that left a few months ago. This book not only follows the story of a prominent Scientologist that left after a long 34 years as a dedicated Scientologist, but also provides great insight into the founder of the organization, as well as the host of controversy that has followed Scientology since its founding.
If you're considering joining Scientology, I encourage you to not only read what they say about themselves on their website, but also read the neutral and critical perspectives of Scientology as well, including this book. This organization is not a joke. I quietly left in November, and to this day, I still receive daily phone calls, texts, emails, letters, etc. They wanted me to forget about my education and work for Scientology, since they view their religion as the most important thing in the whole world, of all time. I was told by one staff member that studying for a graduate entrance exam was not as important as studying Scientology. I was also pressured to buy books and lectures, even when I said that I didn't have enough money. I was pressured to join staff at "the org", even after repeatedly stating that I had no time with school and work, and even after explicitly stating that I didn't want to. If you value your time, your education, and most importantly your money, do not join Scientology. This book will only corroborate what other former members have been saying for a long time. And really, the purported super powers of "Operating Thetans" (the higher levels of the Scientology religion) are non-existent, even after the hundreds of thousands of dollars one spends to get to those levels (which includes getting rid of the spirits of deceased aliens that are attached to our bodies, that cause all of our problems, found at OT III, i.e. the Xenu story, which can be found in Hubbard's own hand writing. This material is discussed within the book. It still amazes me that Scientologists still deny this material (not just saying that they can't talk about it, but saying that it isn't true).). Scientology provides no peer-reviewed, scientific studies to support its claims (especially for its purported efficacy over the medical specialty of psychiatry), besides "LRH said so".
In this book you'll find out about the various high ranking Scientologists that have left the church (odd that such "suppressive persons" were able to advance so far up the Bridge to Total Freedom, and up to high ranking offices in the Church...seems the Church can't even detect "suppressive persons"!). You'll find out about how Hubbard was not who he said he was, according to official documents freely available. Wright's statement that "Hubbard entered the School of Engineering at George Washington University in the fall of 1930. He was a poor student-failing German and calculus-but he excelled in extracurricular activities" is classic. Wright's overview of what a Suppressive Person is is important, especially as we see how Scientology is dealing with the release of this book. He also covers Scientology's evolution from a "science of mental health" to a purported religion. Of course no book on Scientology would be complete without discussing the two "first Clears", and how they didn't have the abilities Hubbard claimed Clears would have. I also loved the discussion of life in the early Sea Org (Scientology's elite order of the most dedicated members, who sign billion-year contracts), as this is something that many of us are not familiar with. While much of the information in this book can be found elsewhere, such as [...], it is great to have much of it in one place/book.
Hubbard said "what is true for you is what you have observed yourself". I and many others that have been there have observed Scientology to not be what it claims, and that it will ruin your life, as they try to mold you into what they want, to serve their purposes. This well-researched book supports that observed truth. I bought the Kindle edition but now will also buy the hardcover copy as well. It's that good.
63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I devour anything written about Scientology as well as reading issues of the magazine published by the International Association of Scientologists and viewing all three hours of an internal video starring one Mr. David Miscavige. This book is by far the most complete and compelling exploration yet. Lots of new information that is fascinating, sad, and sometimes unbelievable.
Here's the bottom line: L. Ron Hubbard was a complicated and slightly crazy man. John Travolta is a confused man worthy of our compassion. Paul Haggis is a curious man and a contrarian. David Miscavige is a bad man, a very bad man. All simple enough but what is not simple or easily ignored is the fact that the one person that could "fix" Scientology and evolve it into a less brutal, contemporary but still fringe Religion is one Mr. Tom Cruise.
I do not know Tom Cruise but I think it is reasonable to consider that he may be so wedded to his celebrity and near zero accountability for anything in his very comfortable life that he is unwilling to put something at risk and challenge Miscavige to stand down or just force him out altogether.
That makes Cruise a coward, ironically the complete and total opposite of the majority of characters he plays and certainly not the model of what Hubbard would define as a "Operating Thetan VII".
Maybe he's not such a bad actor after all.
There is still another book to be written. The one that chronicles the church afters its collapse or criminal prosecution.
183 of 200 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2013
I'd already read the Reitman book and thought it was useful but too focused for my tastes on the individual experience of the cult. That's a valuable contribution, but I wanted more analysis-- why the cult developed this way, and especially what about its tenets drew in people who were already so accomplished, and what it means about our culture that even the successful ones are so hungry for artificial meaning. Going Clear gave me a lot more analysis of the HOW AND WHY, and I can really feel now that I understand more not just about this cult, but the 'prison of belief" that is such an American phenomenon now-- the need to believe in something, anything. Excellent book. I ended up buying another copy to give away.
151 of 165 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Lawrence Wright's book, "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Beliefs" is the most balanced and thorough layout of what could easily be titled "What Is Scientology", except of course that title is already taken. I've read everything everywhere extensively over the last 3 years ever since two scientology Sea Org missionaries banged on my door, after so many years since I'd been out of the hellhole, looking like they just stepped out of an Auschwitz stage set. It took me an hour after I slammed the door to stop shaking, then jumped on the net and haven't stopped reading since.
I am so happy that Larry has, in my opinion, found a way to explain to the incredulous why people have gotten involved in the first place and why some stay. He even explained in his patient, methodical Midwestern manner of his that religion and science fiction delineations often blur and blend and meld. However, being one of those in the Sea Org who were woken in the middle of the night to do a crash ministers course, told it was to keep away the tax man and the immigration man and whatever else, pass the white collar, throw up the cross, I will always be annoying and object "but it is Not a Church!".
His book will offer something for everyone except perhaps a few jaded holes. Even I found in different incidents throughout Hubbard's life and scientology's history that there were pieces of the puzzle never before known to most or just incredible or important juicy bits. And for those who know little, this will be a book that will explain the confounding and sometimes too incredible to a wide audience. Oh, and I enjoyed his descriptions of the bohemian days of Hollywood, and the scientology artistic community. My favorite part was something I'd forgotten, a place called Two Dollar Bill's. Oh what a magical hole in the wall that tiny place was across the street from scientology's Celebrity Center. You could stop by there on Friday nights, sometimes Saturdays, and hear stellar talent, famous and about to be famous musicians, comedians, poets, authors crafting their trade in real time, the audience knowing their role as sounding boards. It was electric.
I hope this reaches a wide array of readers that know little of Hubbard or scientology. Reading the full scope of what happens when an organization goes fanatic under the orders of mad men, funded by members who follow the celebrities like Travolta and Cruise, and reach that inevitable self destruct mode like any "end justifies the means" fundamentalists, might bring them to question "how can this happen in this century in America?"
Because anyone who learns the truth and full history of scientology always asks that question, over and over. I hope that this book will create a groundswell of citizens and a wake up of political will to change the laws that govern non profits' financial transparency as well as balancing any laws that protect crime and human rights abuses under the cloak of religion.
Compelling, profound, and shocking. This is a winner on several levels. For me, personally, I laughed And cried, and there were a few astounding moments when I didn't think I could be astounded any more. The remnants of scientology today are barreling towards the inevitable cliff, experiencing the inevitable cannabilsm of a decaying, rotten core. I am humbly grateful to him and his assistants and publisher for what I consider an important passage about a larger than life man who did indeed smash his name into the history books, and out of a straight jacket. Oh yeah, and all of his believers who helped him make it go right.
69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This was by far the most insightful and well researched book on L Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige and Scientology that I have ever read.
In researching the material for the book the author and his assistants spoke with an unprecedented number of people (some 250 or so) who studied, witnessed and/or were part of the history of Scientology and its leaders.
The bibliography of the Scientology sources, media, books, articles and manuscript collections that the author consulted in studying the subjects shows the great pain that was clearly taken not only to be thorough with the facts in the book but also to try to analyze the true story behind those facts and what it was that made both Hubbard and Miscavige (Scientology's two main leaders over the years) what they were.
I believe Lawrence Wright has accomplished that well beyond anything ever published. And he did it in an objective, professional way while constantly striving to be fair.
There are also some 42 pages of detailed notes near the end of the book where the author gives his sources for what he wrote in the book, page by page. Simply amazing!
In my opinion this book could not even have been written had not Project Chanology Anonymous (acknowledged in the book) suddenly made it possible for thousands to come forward and speak out without being destroyed by Scientology's intelligence and litigation machine designed to stop others from freely speaking out.
Where one or a few of us have managed to speak out before or even protest, suddenly thousands donned the mask and marched in unison and in protest starting on February 10, 2008. The beauty of that was how it opened the door to many others coming out, speaking and taking a stance. This had turned the tide. Organized Scientology could not stop them and they were joined by so many others who finally saw they could stand up and speak out.
Simply put, without the actions started by Anonymous in 2008 many of the sources for this book would not have felt safe to come out and tell the truth.Thus this book could not have been written.
A great deal (but not hardly all) of the facts covered in this book have been covered before. But the book lays out those facts in a clear, concise manner that helps the reader to understand not only the story of scientology but what it was that made its leaders what they became.
The author compassionately explores the life of L Ron Hubbard from his childhood, through his marriages, his time in the military, his friendships, his loves and his early writings. In countless writings and recordings about Hubbard in the past (if only on internet forum postings) writers often debated and tried to understand Hubbard as clearly one or the other: kind or cruel, a liar or a man of truth, sane or insane, a conman or an honest man, an abuser or a healer.
I think what the author tried to show was that Hubbard at different points was all of the above.
Combining Hubbard's own Affirmations with how he actually led his life, in my opinion the author gives a highly insightful perspective of Hubbard. It can be found on page 54 of this book:
"If one looks behind the Affirmations to the condition they are meant to correct one sees a man who is ashamed of his tendency to fabricate personal stories, who is conflicted about his sexual needs, and who worries about his mortality. He has a predatory view of women but at the same time fears their power to humiliate him".
While we are each of us at times conflicted, even walking contradictions throughout our lives, the real problem with Hubbard's own conflicts as well covered in this book is what they did to destroy the lives of so very many people over decades and indeed to this day some 27 years after Hubbard's death.
Some of the very worst parts of Hubbard became the very fabric of Scientology and organized Scientology. Woven throughout the policies and practices of organized Scientology one can see Hubbard's own paranoia and cruelty. Such things as the heartless internment camps known as "the Rehabilitation Project Force", heavy ethics for counter and other intentions (to his own), the cruelty of disconnection and so much more was all to protect a technology Hubbard called priceless but was rather valueless to most who tried it.
As covered in the book, Hubbard's conflicts are also reflected in his writings where he saw enemies everywhere and demanded the destruction of all who opposed his will.
His incessant demands for money combined with his disdain of those who thought differently than he destroyed perhaps thousands of families, even lives. And, like Hubbard before him, David Miscavige to this day continues to profit on the anguish of others while cowardly hiding behind organized Scientology's myriad corporate veils so as not to be held liable for that of which he is completely liable.
As shown in this book, the stories of widespread abuse of children, beatings, forced incarcerations, financial scandals, greed, medical abuse and the like rampant within organized Scientology both through the times of Hubbard and continuing to this very day are as painful to see as they are numerous. The cruelty meted out on others in the name of "salvaging the planet" while profiting Hubbard and Miscavige is breathtaking in its scope.
One horrid example that has me in tears just to read it can be found page 157 of the book. It is about an abused, pregnant mother sneaking out of the scientology's "Rehabilitation Project Force" without approval to see how her daughter was doing in the Scientology "Child Care Org":
"Taylor managed to slip away to visit her ten-month-old daughter in the Child Care Org across the street. To her horror, she discovered that Venessa had contracted whopping cough, which is highly contagious and occasionally fatal. The baby's eyes were welded shut with mucus, and her diaper was wet - in fact her whole crib was soaking. She was covered with fruit flies. Taylor recoiled. The prospect of losing both her unborn baby and her daughter seemed very likely".
So many misled people of good heart were and are a part of Scientology who themselves put it all on the line to dedicate themselves and their lives to the following of a man who would ultimately betray them. This book makes me feel a sadness for all the good souls who cared and who tried to follow a dream and were betrayed.
I love how insightful the author is when he analyzes the facts before him and tries to make it make sense. For example, as the book points out, Hubbard wrote a great deal of science fiction before he ever wrote anything about Scientology. And there are strong elements of science fiction in the hidden levels of Scientology. Reflecting on both, the author makes a simple yet in my opinion insightful statement on page 32 of the book:
"Certainly, the same mind that roamed so freely through imaginary universes might be inclined to look at the everyday world and suspect that there was something more behind the surface reality. The broad canvas of science fiction allowed Hubbard to think in large-scale terms about the human condition. He was bold. He was fanciful. He could easily invent an elaborate, plausible universe. But it is one thing to make that universe believable, and another to believe it. That is the difference between art and religion".
I agree with the author that while one can argue that Scientology is a religion it must not be allowed to carry out such horrid abuses on countless others while hiding from prosecution behind the cloak of religion.
More than whether or not Scientology is indeed a religion I think the really important question is whether or not it is charitable or even spiritual. I see nothing spiritual at all about Hubbard's and Miscavige's abuse of others, the incessant demands for money and just hundreds and hundreds of things that make up the very fabric of organized Scientology and the policies it follows.
Perhaps even more importantly, as is clear in reading the book, there is nothing inherently charitable about Scientology. People have to either pay vast sums or give up their personal freedoms to "progress" in Scientology. Their benign-sounding front groups in the field of business, education, drug abuse and the like are not there to freely help the downtrodden or otherwise needy. They are there solely to themselves be a conduit of money and people into Scientology. They are "PR" to try to make organized Scientology look good to the public while in many cases are themselves a danger to the public.
In the book examples are given where others speak of Hubbard's "research" and his "technology" that has helped them. And I am glad they were helped.
But Hubbard's research has no scientific validity and in my opinion is often the product of a deranged mind thinking that somehow he has made these brilliant scientific discoveries when he has not.
An example from the book is Hubbard's "research" resulting in "The Introspection Rundown" which, Hubbard says eliminates the last need for psychiatry. "Evidence" of its value is a story of a man who was crazed on a ship and a danger to others. Hubbard had him confined and treated gently and given healthy supplements. The man came out of it. I am so glad this happened to this man but my God that is hardly scientific study showing Hubbard's procedure eliminates the last need of psychiatry.
Related to this, the book debunks Hubbard's claims about psychology and medication in effect showing how Scientology not only may not help a person but it will often keep a person away from the very sources that can indeed help him.
Examples of this are given in the book including the death of a beautiful boy Kyle Brennan who died from an apparent suicide at Scientology's "mecca" in Florida after his medically prescribed medication was taken away from him due to Scientology's unfounded beliefs from Hubbard's writings.
And, carrying on from what Hubbard preached, the book tells of a speech given by Scientology's current abusive leader David Miscavige saying that he intends to obliterate psychiatry, wiping it from the face of the earth.
My God how dangerous a view is that?
People have had "wins" in Scientology therapy which the author feels is akin more to psychotherapy which perhaps is Scientology's "more respectable cousin". But I submit that some of the beautiful and well-meaning people who are trying to help others using this "therapy" are more helping those people because they are good and kind people who give the others someone to whom they can pour out their hearts and discuss their troubles.
And that is all well and good until someone really needs professional help and there is no one within Scientology who is trained to give that help.
Later in the book, on page 359, the author speaks of how Scientology wants to be understood as a scientific approach to spiritual enlightenment but concludes that it really has no basis in science at all. Perhaps, he says, it would be better understood as a philosophy of the human nature.
As usual organized Scientology denies everything in this book that is negative. I would like to believe them but I can't. Although I was a small contributor of information to Lawrence Wright in his research, I know of so much of this book as being true from first hand observation.
I feel love and compassion for the many, many good souls who are Scientologists and who are trying to help others. I was once one of them. But I also feel a great sadness of just how these people were and are being betrayed by Hubbard, by Miscavige and indeed by a dream of a "heaven" which to many of them has turned out to be a "hell".
I wish all of them the greatest of healing and of peace. And I want them to know there are many of us out here with open arms ready to welcome them to join us as imperfect but free sisters and brothers who will help them heal.
And I wish to express my great thanks to Lawrence Wright and all who assisted him for this magnificent work that I believe will end up helping many people.
Perhaps the real sadness of all this is best reflected in some of the final words from the book telling of a time that was a few weeks before Hubbard's death when Hubbard summoned one he trusted at a ranch where he was hiding:
"Six weeks before the leader died, Pfauth hesitantly related, Hubbard called him into the bus. He was sitting in his little breakfast nook. `He told me he was dropping his body.......He told me he failed, he's leaving.' ..............................
I mentioned the legend in Scientology that Hubbard would return.
`That's bull crap,' Pfauth said. `He wanted to drop the body and leave. And he told me basically that he failed. All the work and everything, he'd failed'".
81 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I can't put this book down. I've read several books on the subject of Scientology and this is the best one so far. Mr. Wright's style is so easy to read and digest that I am amazed at how much I have read when I look at the page number and the clock.
The author is fair and presents both sides. His fact-checks are excellent and the book further solidifies my opinion of Scientology.
77 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
To anyone that still places value in what L Ron Hubbard wrote or created, beware of this book because it will create a tidal wave of cognitive dissonance within you. I suspect that any book reviews here with less than five stars or written to criticize very minor details are probably written by current Scientologists or even former Scientologists that still believe in LRH and Scientology's practices. Cognitive dissonance will be most unpleasant in many that still struggle with their internal doubts about that which they've spent countless dollars and years of their lives.
Mr. Wright elegantly and expertly wove together court testimony, first-hand accounts, and the heavily notated stories of hundreds in this disturbing tome, which paints an ugly picture of not only the mentally ill founder but of the abuse suffered by so many Scientologists over the years. LRH once said (and Scientologists still use this phrase to justify their highly deluded practices), "What's true for you is true for you", and Wright uses the overwhelming vetted and fact-checked truth so brilliantly in this book.
To anyone with the slightest interest or curiosity about Scientology, this book is a must read. Wright's book pulls the curtain back on the ugly underbelly of human nature and what happens when a con man learns to game the system resulting in outrageous human abuse, which turns out is protected by the US Government.
81 of 90 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2013
I read this back-to-back with Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology, which for many reasons is the superior work on the Scientology phenomenon (I refuse to call it a "church"). Going Clear has many fascinating details and shocking stories of Scientology's extremely questionable origins, its shameless founder, its current -- certifiable -- leader, and the Orwellian nightmare faced by many of its most ferverent followers. I think there is a point to be made about a literal cult of celebrity, and that this book could have made that point. Had it been successful in that task, Going Clear would have had something unique to offer.
However, Inside Scientology is better researched, better written, more cohesive and much more insightful on the history of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard. Going Clear grew from the author's New Yorker profile of a Scientologist screenwriter, and feels as if Wright just threw the kitchen sink into the manuscript to flesh it into a full length work. I would like to think Wright -- author of the masterfully researched and constructed The Looming Tower, which won the Pulitzer Prize -- was very rushed, as this, in contrast, has a gossipy, sensationalist tone which serves the already sensational material poorly.
I do agree with the five-star reviewers that the truth on Scietology and its practices needs to be told, and told widely. I just wish Wright had taken the time to tell it well.