In the previous post in this series we looked at the first workbook given to clients of Narconon’s residential ‘drug rehabilitation’ programme, the “Narconon Therapeutic TR Course” by L Ron Hubbard (download as .pdf).
This requires Narconon clients to learn all of Scientology’s ‘Training Routines’ (aka TRs) in exactly the same way as beginning Scientologists do. Scientologists cover the first four of these during their, “Success through Communications Course” and the rest in the “Hubbard Qualified Scientologist” course. Narconon clients do them all in one go in the “Narconon Therapeutic TR Course”.
There are a total of 13 TRs (which are confusingly numbered). In the previous post in this series I described the first three. In this post, I cover the next four. The next post in this series should complete the task.
TRs 1 – 4: AKA Scientology’s “Success Through Communications Course”
“TR1” (pp 80-95)
Note: page numbers are taken from the document itself, and may not match the numbers provided by Adobe Reader or other software.
Purpose: To train the student to deliver a command newly, and in a new unit of time to a person without flinching or trying to overwhelm, or using a via. (Pg 80)
Already, the student is beginning to learn Scientology jargon, which can only be understood by absorbing Scientology ideas. They are required to look up specialised usages like ‘new unit of time’, ‘overwhelm’ or ‘via’ in a Scientology dictionary (which is provided).
Basically, the twins assume the same position as in previous TRs (i.e. facing each other on straight-backed chairs). One twin (the ‘student’) then chooses a short passage from a copy of the book, “Alice in Wonderland” and (omitting all the ‘he said’s’) ‘communicates’ it to his twin in a “natural” voice.
In the example in the text, the phrase “It’s a Cheshire cat” has been chosen.
The other twin plays ‘coach’.
The coach must have received the command clearly and have understood it before he says “Good”.
If the coach deems that his partner has not ‘received’ this banal “communication” he says “flunk”, and gives a reason (e.g. “that was too loud on pg 90). Then, the same phrase must then be repeated until the coach says “good”. Now, the student chooses another phrase and the procedure is repeated. This can go on for some time.
It is never explained exactly what is communicated by a sentence chosen at random from “Alice in Wonderland” with no context, or how the coach is supposed to decide that he has ‘received’ it. Is it even ‘communication’ if it is deliberately content-free.
The exercise terminates when the coach says “that’s it”. Then, coach and student switch places, and repeat the whole procedure again. For obvious reasons, Scientologists call TR1 “Dear Alice”,
“TR2” (pp 101-114)
Significantly, the purpose of the exercise is expressed as follows:
To teach the student that an acknowledgement is a way of controlling a person’s communications and that an acknowledgement is a full stop. The student must understand and appropriately acknowledge the communication and in such a way that it does not continue the communication. (pg110)
Acknowledgement is something said or done to inform another that his statement had been noted, understood and received. Acknowledgement is also shortened to “ack”. (pg 101)
In reality, the only time you will ever really hear anyone saying “I ack that” or “ack” is if you overhear a conversation between Scientologists. Luckily for the English language this term is otherwise unheard of.
The procedure is the same as above. The emphasis this time is to ‘train’ the student to emphatically ‘acknowledge’ his coaches nonsense lines and then shut up by ‘flunking’ him until he conforms.
Curiouser and curiouser (said Alice). If this was a social skills course that taught inhibited people how to communicate, it would concentrate on teaching the clients how to keep a conversation going. TR2 does the opposite. It teaches how to deliver and accept conversation-stoppers which prevent the free exchange of ideas and information.
In Scientology, the TRs prepare students for the practice of ‘auditing’ which requires that the two people involved follow a very inflexible script. No discussion is allowed, and auditors are trained to meet any questions with a conversation -stopping answer. They promise to teach communication, but actually teach obedience to the requirements of Hubbard’s scripted encounters.
“TR 2 1/2 (Training Routine two-and-a-half) (pp 121-132)
We all use little verbal tricks which indicate that we are listening to what another person is saying an are encouraging them to continue. For example an “uh-huh”, or a “yes, I see”. Scientology and Narconon would like you to call these “half-acknowledgements” (or, presumably “half-acks”).
The process which now must be painfully familiar from the previous exercises is repeated with one, small variation. The coach must decide if the student has encouraged him to continue with his ‘half-ack’. If so, they move in to another phrase for “Alice in Wonderland”. If not, he says “Flunk”, and the student repeats the same phrase until it is passed. Then student and coach swap places.
Preparation for TR3
In this simplistic model, all verbal communications consists of a series of cycles consisting of a question, an answer and an ‘acknowledgement’.
It continues to describe how there is often a “communications lag” (or “comm lag” – a pause between question and answer. Great importance is attached to this commonplace fact, and students are taught that a “comm lag” is an extremely bad thing.
This is considered to be so important that the twins must sign a declaration that they have understood on page 142. (above right).
In everyday life, you might consider that there is nothing wrong with taking a little time to think about what you are saying. This is not true in the controlling environment of Narconon/Scientology. An instant, orthodox and unconsidered answer is required. Taking time to think for yourself is discouraged.
“TR3” (pp 144-189)
To teach a student to duplicate without variation a question, each time newly in its own unit of time, not as a blur with other questions, and to acknowledge it. To teach that one never asks a second question until he receives an answer to the one asked. (pg 145)
If this seems to be a very mechanical way to hold a conversation – it is. There is worse to come. First, lets look at the procedure.
One of the twins has to ask a scripted question and together they have to ‘complete a comm cycle’ (see above). The questions include, “do birds fly”, and “do fish swim?”
A typical conversation will go as follows: ‘Do birds fly? Yes they do. Thank you.’ There is no real communication going on here. Both twins are being trained to deliver or respond to a script without thinking.
When the question”do birds fly?” is asked, the student must acknowledge it with no ‘comm lag’ (i.e.without thinking). If he takes any time to answer, that’s a”comm lag”, and his twin ‘flunks’ him and they start again.
If the person who asks the question does not do so clearly, his twin ‘flunks’ him and they start again. This can go on for hours and hours. Students can also ‘flunk’ each other for failing to keep up with any of the requirements established in previous TRs – for example, they must pay complete attention and sit up straight at all times.
If is forbidden to deviate from this exact procedure – an offence that is called “Q&A”. The twins are also trained to suppress any response other the programmed ones. This is done by ignoring any responses that don’t conform and simply saying “I’ll repeat the question: do birds fly?”
For example if your answer is “not all of them – emu’s don’t” this is “Q&A”. Your partner will simply say, “I’ll repeat the question: do birds fly?” until you conform, whether it makes sense or not. In this was any questioning or discussion is ignored and suppressed.
Although this is presented as a communications course, the intention is the very opposite – to train people to conform to scripted responses and accept what they are told without thinking. This is a preparation for the stilted exchanges that are required during ‘auditing’ with the e-meter.
On page 178 clients are told that, during TR4.
“The Student may use his or hands to prevent a “blow”(leaving) of the coach”
The twins are already being prepared for a degree of coercion, which will become more pronounced as the course continues. This culminates in the “blow drills” practised by security staff in Scientology bases. These are a well-rehearsed sequence of actions designed to bring back a person who leaves by any means necessary. People are even placed at transport hubs to intercept the ‘fugitive’ and persuade them to return.
TR4 (pp 193 – 228)
An origination is something said or done by a person concerning himself, his ideas, reactions or difficulties.
Primary school teachers are used to dealing with ‘originations’. Kids tend to offer irrelevant gems such as “my cat was sick this morning”. This is very important to them, so the teacher has to move them along to the subject at hand without humiliating them.
This basic human interaction seem to be the concern of TR4. Remember the TRs are a preparation for Scientology auditing, which is a largely scripted activity. Any questions or concerns that are off-script, must be effectively suppressed.
In TR4, the twins return to the questions, “do bird’s fly?” and, “do fish swim?” This time, they take turns in ‘originating’ statements (e.g “my back hurts”). The student is required to appropriately ‘acknowledge’ any statement, but then to go implacably on with the script – “I’ll repeat the question. Do birds fly?”
This is equivalent to the primary school teacher responding to the news that her pupil’s cat has been sick with “That’s interesting dear. It must have been smelly. Now – how do you think you add these two number together?” The only difference is that teachers are encouraged to nurture individuality. Scientologists are required to apply the same scripted response to everyone.
Beginning on page 221 the workbook even provides you with a list of distracting ‘originations’. No imagination is required for TRs. In fact, possessing on seems to be a positive disadvantage.
You Are Not Off the Hook Yet
TRs 0-4 make up Scientology’s “Success through Communications Course”. Sure enough, Narconon students are now required to repeat all of the TRs they have practised from the beginning (i.e. TR0) “[…] getting tougher each time” (pg 231). Your supervisor has to countersign this time, so you can’t fake it, either.
They will have spent weeks starting at each other, and following repetitive scripts before they are finished.
A Pause for Thought – and a Wider Perspective
Once again we should pause and consider what this totally inappropriate ‘training’ is actually having on vulnerable recovering drug addicts. In the case of TR3, I can provide a concrete example.
This site features a document obtained under US freedom of information legislation. | Download as .pdf |
It is a record of police logs concerning emergency calls to a Narconon facility in Colorado. On page 17, an officer records that he responded to a 911 call from a Narconon client who was “making suicidal statements and told the dispatcher that he had a weapon and wanted to hurt himself”.
The officer handcuffed this person (he encountered no resistance and does not record having found a weapon) and drove him to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation. He observed that:
It’s easy to dismiss these statements as the ramblings of a seriously disturbed mind. However, we know that Hallucinations are are a common result of TRo (the ‘staring contest’ covered in the previous post in this series) for healthy people, so when the client says “I’m seeing things” he is making perfect sense. Also, his statement, “[…] they’re telling me things, birds fly, birds fly” is an obvious reference to TR3, which we have just described.
The rest (especially his account of the 160 degree Fahrenheit sauna and dangerous dehydration) will also make perfect sense after we examine later Narconon workbooks and the “purification rundown”.
Knowing nothing of this, the officer likely dismissed the conversation he recorded as evidence of insanity. In fact, the victim was behaving in a sane and resourceful way – he had successfully escaped from an intolerable situation which was likely aggravating the effects of drug withdrawal. Sadly, when he told the truth about his experiences to people tasked with protecting him, nobody seemed to believe him.
Other incidents involve Narconon clients who asked for police assistance to leave, as staff were preventing them doing so. Others asked for police assistance to recover their property after they had left. Everything was done to ‘recover’ a client who had ‘blown’.
Are We There Yet?
Now that we have reached TR4, we have completed the requirements of the “Success Through Communications Course” -the first course required of beginning Scientologists. Narconon clients have another five TRs (which make up the “Hubbard Qualified Scientologist Course”) to complete before they are done with the first of eight Narconon workbooks. While they are doing this they will be required to practice their TRs.
We are more lucky. We can take a break. I will cover the last group of TR’s in the next post in this series.