In this series we are examining the 8 workbooks given to clients of Narconon’s residential ‘drug rehabilitation’ programme.
This is the third post concerned with the “Narconon Therapeutic TR Course” by L Ron Hubbard (download as .pdf) which is the first Narconon workbook.
It’s been hard going, but if you have stuck with it, you can clearly see that the “Therapeutic TR’s” laid out in this book are, for all practical purposes, identical to the ‘Training Routines’ taught to beginning Scientologists. Narconon is Scientology in disguise. What’s more, the TRs are clearly not fit for purpose – they are worse than useless in helping anyone overcome a drug problem.
In the last post, we completed TR4 (and Scientology’s “Success Through Communications Course”). In this one we move on to more ‘advanced’ (and bizarre) exercises – including the infamous TR where you have to shout orders to an ashtray.
TRs 6 -9 : AKA Scientology’s “Hubbard Qualified Scientologist Course”
Note: page numbers are taken from the document itself, and may not match the numbers provided by Adobe Reader or other software.
One of Our Training Routines is Missing – TR5
This is apparently because because L Ron Hubbard decided circa 1965 that the procedure was too ‘advanced’ to be a training routine and belonged with the ‘processes’ which Scientologists are taught later.
Students were required to sit much closer together and alternately ‘command’ each other to, “Put your hands inside mine, follow them and contribute to the motion.” In other words, they had to take turns to ‘mirror’ their partner’s hand movements.
Critics might wonder if it just didn’t fit in with the rest of the TRs. For whatever reason, TR5 was abruptly cancelled in 1965 by a memo from Hubbard.
TRs 6 – 9 Introduction (pp 239 –
The preamble to these TRs is worth quoting at length.
The following drills TRs 6, 7, 8 and 9, deal with the subject of control.
The purpose of these four training drills is to bring about in the student the willingness and ability to handle and control other people’s bodies, and to cheerfully confront another person while giving that person commands. Also, to maintain a high level of control in all circumstances. (pg 239)
Control is Start, Change, Stop
Almost the entire subject of control is summed up in the ability to start, stop and change one’s activities, body and one’s environment. (pg 245)
Learning to control other people in an artificial one-on-one environment, has nothing at all to do with drug rehabilitation. It does, however make interactions in the scripted environment of Scientology auditing run more smoothly, and which is what TRs6 – 9 are really intended to prepare people for.
“TR6” Part One (pp 249-283)
Basically, the student has to lead the coach to a short distance (‘start’) turn to go in a different direction (change) and then come to a halt (‘stop’). In the first part of the exercise, neither party is allowed to speak.
The course materials helpfully remark out that the student is not allowed to walk his coach into any walls – not because this would hurt, but because he would not have learned how to make his partner ‘stop’ -the wall would have done this for him.
Now and again, in describing this material I am simply taken aback by how banal and odd the TRs odd are.
Remember TR6 is the first exercise done by ‘students’ on the “Hubbard Qualified Scientologist Course” and Narconon clients have worked long and hard to get this far. After spending a lot of time, effort and money they are required to lead each other around a room and are promised that this will give them control over other people.
Incredibly, it gets steadily worse. The next step is to ‘learn’ how to issue verbal commands
TR6 Part Two (pp 263-282)
On page 263 the required ‘commands’ are listed. I have reproduced them in the image to the left. The twins still have to walk about the room, but this time the ‘student’ tells the ‘coach’ what to do.
As in all the other TRs the twins have to do this for mind-numbing hours, to the exclusion of all else. There are no attempts at conversation. These were defined as ‘Originations’ back in TR3 and students were taught to effectively ignore them, and repeat the scripted command until they obtained compliance.
The twins also have to take turns at being ‘student’ and ‘coach’. The ‘student’ can be ‘flunked’ by the ‘coach’ for the slightest hesitation. The procedure promises to teach control, but instead engenders unthinking obedience. Both parties are cooperating, because they know that this is the only way that they will complete the course. In the process, they are not only learning how to give instructions, Scientology-style, but they are also being taught to comply with them.
This routine is also a useful preparation for Scientology auditing in that it very gently introduces students to the idea that manhandling someone (for their own good, of course) is acceptable. Nobody is allowed to leave an auditing session until it is complete, and the person who is giving it is instructed to keep the student ‘in session’ even if he or she has to drag them back.
This TR simply takes up where the previous one leaves off but with”[…] Student enforcing commands by manual guiding”. (pg 298). The Student leads the coach around the room giving him the same limited number of instructions that were introduced in the TR6 script. This time, however, the ‘coach’ is required to resist which is where “enforcing commands by manual guiding” comes in.
This drill is supposed to teach students how to “handle rebellious people”. I seriously doubt it would work in the real world.
In fact, it must lead to some… interesting situations during training, if TRs 0-4 have not successfully indoctrinated the twins in compliance. I can imagine this it has provoked any number of scuffles and punch-ups.
The material for previous TRs has already ‘taught’ us that,
Intention is the determination to do a specified thing, or act in a specified manner. (pg 323)
However, the Scientology definition is carefully repeated before we start TR8. This drill promises to teach us how to “use intention without reservation.” (pg 325)
The ‘commands’ for TR8 are reduced to only two, which are given in the image on the right (although it seems to me that, according to the materials, ‘thank you’ is an “acknowledgement’, not a command at all).
At first sight TR8 looks as if it will be a continuation of TR7, except that the twins will now have to repetitively tell each other ‘sit down’ and ‘stand up’ and thank each other after they have complied.
In fact the twins now have to sit down facing a third chair which has had an empty ashtray placed on it. Not only that the have to issue the listed commands to the ashtray. It if declines to stand up by itself, they are required to lift it, then tell it to “Sit down on that chair”. If it fails to comply, they put it down then (in a rather surreal fashion) thank it.
On page 333 the coach is instructed to persuade the student to “command the object the object in the loudest possible voice he can muster” and helpfully adds, “This is called shouting”.
Next, the student must,
[…] do the drill silently, putting the intention into the object without even thinking the words of the command or the acknowledgement.
Finally, the coach must try to distract the student using the same of sort of tactics that were taught way back, in ‘TR0 bullbait.’ If he can withstand this, he will be allowed to ‘attest’ to having completed TR8
Why Lift up an Ashtray and Shout at it?
This procedure is daft enough when Scientologists are doing it voluntarily. It is utterly tragic when it is substituted for the drug rehabilitation therapy that Narconon promised and was paid handsomely for. How many addicts have needlessly suffered and died because they wasted their time and money shouting at an ashtray, rather than on effective treatment?
The purpose given on page 331 of the Narconon handbook is to,
Start student on the road to handling objects and people with postulates.
They do believe that, after they have completed the most advanced Scientology training of all (The ‘Operating Thetan’ or OT levels), they can develop the kinds of powers that would be required to do this. They believe that they will eventually be able to control people and objects by an effort of will.
Scientologists call this ‘postulating’. According to the Narconon materials, TR8 is the technique that will “[…] start [the] student on the road” to this objective.
Someone doing TR8 was (briefly) filmed as part of an undercover operation by a British TV company in 1995. This footage appeared in the programme “Scientology: Inside the Cult” which can be viewed &/or downloaded from the link.
“TR9” (pp 365-384)
TR 9 substantially consists of TR7 all over again. Presumably the purpose of this is to suggest that the ‘intention’ developed in TR8 now enables the student to control his partner more effectively.
On page 382 it is stated that,
[…] the coach will find himself doing the command almost whether or not he wants to if the student is really getting the intention across.
No doubt students will agree that this is the case, since they will not be allowed to complete the course unless they do – they may even have come to believe it themselves,out of relief at completing their TRs, if nothing else.
Congratulations! You Are Now a Hubbard Qualified Scientologist!
That’s all of the TR’s – 13 in all (although they are numbered 1 – 9 and TR5 has gone AWOL).
In my next post in this series I will look at some other aspects of the first Narconon workbook, including the use of checksheets, the role of ‘success stories’ and the surreptitious introduction of Scientology ‘Study Tech’.
These are all features of the later workbooks, which are still to come.