The “Visualize Self-realization Church” that occasionally appears in early episodes bears a distinct resemblance to the Church of Scientology.
As a satire, this is great fun. It’s also interesting that the television company which made the programme is not afraid of retaliation from the Church of Scientology – nor afraid that viewers might complain that its mockery of the Church is unfair. Video after the break…
The major difference between Scientology and Visualize is that the leader of ‘Visualise’, Bret Stiles (played by Malcolm McDowell) is ruthless, cunning, capable and clever. Neither L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, nor his successor David Miscavige posses the last two qualities.
Of course, the programme’s satire of Scientology has to yield to the practical demands of the plot. Stiles has to be significantly smarter than its Scientology counterpart in order to provide a worthy opponent to Patrick Jane (the ‘mentalist’ of the programme’s title).
However, there are the following points of correspondence – Visualize has:
- Pictures of the leader featured in every room
- Well appointed buildings, stocked with the founders books
- One on one sessions where “technicians assess for inner vision” (Scientology: auditing?)
- A pseudo-technological device (the ‘Orb’) which members are expected to touch during their assessments (Scientology: the e-meter?)
- Long lists of questions that sound like they are part of a psychological test but are not (Scientology: the ‘stress test’ / Oxford capacity analysis) followed by the inevitable conclusion that the test subject has personal serious problems that can only be solved by immediate – and expensive – Visualize / Scientology training
- An ‘inner circle’ of members who are expected to sacrifice themselves to protect the leader (Scientology: ‘executives’)
Season 3 episode 3 (“The Blood on His Hands”) watch online also features a visit to the ‘Visualize’ cult – and more similarities.
- Vigilance – an internal ‘security’ organisation (Scientology: OSA?)
- Ex-cop security staff employed to intimidate anyone who investigates the ‘Church’ and intimidates ex-members
- A phoney drug rehabilitation programme (Scientology: Narconon)
- Fearful and intimidated staff members
- Outsiders referred to as ‘pre-members’ (Scientology: pre-clears)
- The persistent and intense proselytising of Visualize members
- “Ventilation” – Visualize require members to record regular confessions on video (called “Vent Vids”). These are saved by Visualize for blackmail purposes (Scientology: recording and notes taken during auditing and ‘security checking procedures?) and both organisations claim that they are protected by the seal of the confessional.