Robert Kaufman’s Inside Scientology

In the history of the cult of scientology, there have been many books written by people who were a part of it.  These people were often the most dedicated and enthusiastic of Hubbard’s students, until they grew disillusioned with the dysfunction that is inherent in the cult and it’s systems.  Robert Kaufman was one of the first of such authors, and he was the first to publicly reveal the secret OT III materials, in his book.  He also suffered a great deal of harassment and cult “fair game” nonsense as a result, which made his life terribly difficult for a time.  A highly gifted pianist, and by all accounts a nice person and a good friend, Robert was sincere in his practice of the processes that scientology offers, and he was open to receiving a positive outcome from them. He got into the cult through a friend, named Gerald, who had a franchise and eased him into regular auditing with occasional sessions.  He was reluctant at first, but the more that he practiced, the more enthusiastic he became about the processes.  As Kaufman’s skepticism waned, he eventually decided to travel to St Hill, against the advice of his auditor-friend, who had some issues with how the official church runs things, and often ignored policy in his auditing work.  Kaufman got a taste of the original “ideal org”, and the true cult experience, and that is when things began to go very wrong for him.  In a matter of months, Bob was falling apart, and wound up having a mental breakdown. The constant ethics and fundraising pressure was just too much. Sound familiar? Eventually, he got out, and returned to the US. He decided to leave the cult behind. However, his independent (franchise) auditor friend adds the final insult. He was desperate to help repair the damage Kaufman suffered, and claimed to have gone to AOLA to learn some special new auditing processes at L Ron’s personal behest. He begs Bob to let him help… for a fee, of course. Bob sees this as the final outrage, walks away, and decides to write a book soon after.

Bob Kaufman found himself eventually caught in a double-bind that every member faces at some time, and must resolve in terms of their own character and priorities as to what should be sacrificed when life requires sacrifices.  Scientology generally has one of two effects on a person, either it alienates them from their own moral center, or it causes them to get better acquainted with it.  Kaufman was one of the latter, he remained on the fringes of the cult for a long time, but eventually found his way deeper in to the madness.  It did not take long before the sickness began to overwhelm him and he had to find his way out.  In a way, Bob’s case illustrates the point that it is better if a person *cannot* adapt to the crazy in the cult.  There are so many stories of people who only found their way out because they fell into mental illness or physical distress that could not be concealed.  The cult has no use for those who are suffering.  There is a strong bias against the sick and the mentally ill among scientologists in general, and this attitude is built in to the tech by Ron himself, who apparently was a malingerer identified by psychiatrists as suffering from some kind of mental affliction.  This, from a group of people who claim that they are the only ones who can help in a crisis, and who claim to have a tech that restores and maintains health and well-being.   In reality, scientologists are loathe to confront any kind of real mental illness.  The behavior of a mentally ill person is uncomfortably close to that of a person who has “blown charge” on some process.  Also, when faithful scilons apply Ron’s tech as directed (sort of, because at the same time Ron claimed to have the cure-all for any affliction of the mind, scientologists have always been forbidden from processing the mentally ill) for dealing with mental illness, things do not get better.  The tech is a lot better at inducing mental illness than it is at treating it.

Any confrontation with this fact puts the faithful scientologist in a double-bind.   A faithful cult member never wavers in their faith in the effectiveness of the tech.  Merely to witness a failure of it would be a kind of betrayal of that commitment.   When scientology begins to make you sick and confused, as it inevitably will once you get beyond the introductory processes, you face a moment of crisis as a believer in the “tech”.  You have to choose whether your allegiance is to yourself or to maintaining the appearance that scientology works.  That is when you find out that a large part of supporting the intention of “KSW” is to cover up any instances when it appears that it does not work.  That is certainly one way to keep things working.  Scientology always works, if it isn’t working for you, then you are doing something wrong.  Moreover, in doing so, you are suppressing the goals of scientology by making it appear as if it does not work.  So many exes have recounted this mental hamster wheel that they are put on when they first encounter this cognitive dissonance.   It is incredibly stressful, not because you are being asked to believe in something that doesn’t work, but because you are being forced to dissociate from your own experience of the impact it is having on you.  That enforced dissociation occurs when your “eternity”, i.e. your ultimate well-being, is pitted against your wholeness in the moment.  Setting someone up so that they have to make such a choice is a good way to apply enormous psychic pressure.  Then, if you offer them relief from that pressure, they will grab for it with both hands and credit you with rescuing them.

For some folks, that conclusion sticks a lot longer than it does for others.  For Bob, the whole thing began to break down right away, it took him only three months to decide that he could not stay any longer at St Hill.  He was assigned a condition of doubt, which meant he had to leave the AOUK, and he took that as an opportunity to get away entirely and return to the US and the “wog world”.  On some level, he knew that he was being done no favors by the people he was dealing with in the cult.  The irony of the situation is, he was “inoculated” mentally against the environment he found when he travelled to St Hill, by another aspect of his cult experience: the processing that he did with his friend Gerald, who was a franchisee — what later became missions, and then were ground under Miscavige’s heel when he decided it was all or nothing for anyone involved with scientology.  Franchises were always a looser place to get the processes, and that was certainly Bob’s experience.  Gerald actually warned him against going to St Hill, because he had seen others get a bad result there.  He wanted Bob to continue working with him, in a way that was more centered on his own pace and his own needs from the processes.  But the fact is, the results that Bob was getting were not satisfactory.  They didn’t live up to the promises made on behalf of the “tech”, and he wanted to find that benefit he was looking for, for his musical skills and his ability to make the most of his career as a pianist.  Also, the cult processes really do encourage an accelerated investment — they awaken a hunger that they are always on the verge of satisfying but can then never satisfy.  The moving goalposts syndrome, when the goal you are striving to attain is always just a few steps ahead of you.  I have heard it described as an addiction, and it is certainly analogous in the the sense that it sets you chasing after something that you can’t ever really catch.  Also in the sense that there are those who will push it on you because they profit from your addiction, and then blame you when it goes bad for you.

All of these things are borne out in Robert Kaufman’s story of his time in the cult.  This is a man who had enormous talent, who was sincerely open to the possibility that Hubbard had uncovered secrets of optimizing the human mind and its abilities.  That is all it really takes.  When they promise to “make the able more able”, that is such enticing bait to people who are struggling to bring their obvious talents to fruition in a satisfying way.  A frustrated and talented person can be very vulnerable to the promise of relief for their frustration and fuel for their abilities.  Everyone who heard Bob play agreed that he was truly gifted, but it is always a struggle for artists to find a place in society, and to feel like they are making the most of their gifts.  In fact, some say it is the curse of the artist to forever feel as if they have failed to achieve the potential of their vision and what they feel as if they are capable of.  Scientology ruthlessly exploits that character trait in the creative, by promising a sure-fire way to overcome that self-doubt and the limitations of the artist as executor of a vision.  This is why actors and other creative types, sometimes giants in their field, are vulnerable to the promises of the “tech”.  There is no handbook for art, there is no one way to be certain one will get it right.  The creative process is dictated by the vision behind a specific work.  An artist can never be certain that a work is finished, or that it is good enough, or that it is indeed even art.  Anything that offers a way out of that insecurity is always going to be very seductive to creative people.

Bob Kaufman was no exception to this rule.  His reasons for deciding to try scientology fell right in line with these ideas.  When he played for his new scientology friends the first time, they oohed and aaahed over the spiritual depth in his playing, labeling it “ARC”, and then pointing out the ways in which scientologists are the masters of ARC.  This is a come-on that artists can find hard to resist — “we are the only ones who truly appreciate your gift, and we have secrets which will allow you to make the most of that gift.”  Look at scientology promotional videos readily found online, which always feature creative people engaged in artistic pursuits.  Why?  This is one of their most common tactics, and it works well on young people, who are often at a place in life where creative activities are appealing as a career path.  There is no way that a young person, new to scientology and being shown these videos touting the various services available, could know that all the promises they were made are lies, false and manipulative statements offered purely as a lure.  This becomes apparent only when it is too late — after the young person in question has committed all of their money, or signed on to staff, or signed a billion-year contract for the Sea Org.  Then, and only then, do they start to hear all the talk about how the arts are a waste of time when there is a planet that needs clearing.  The “bridge” always leads there, and when confronted with such a double-bind, the young person usually has a hard time holding on to their dreams and asserting the value of whatever creative talents they have.  It is hard to argue that you should be spending your time in line for walk-on parts or trying to find an agent, when the person you are talking to is speaking in apocalyptic terms and addressing you as a crucial part of the effort to save the world.  Young people are vulnerable to this approach, for the same reason that they are capable of such big and creative dreams for their lives in the first place.  The cult finds the ones who are already ambitious enough to makes some moves on behalf of their own dreams, and they hijack that ambition and chain it to the half-baked dreams of a drug-addled pulp writer.  That is a terrible thing to do — both to the individual, and to the world at large, which is suffering for a lack of truly creative people.

I highly recommend Robert Kaufman’s Inside Scientology, as an enlightening view into the earlier days of the cult and the way it treated it’s students at that time.  It is out of print, but widely available on the ‘net as a free PDF.  It is important to note that Bob was the very first to reveal the OT three materials in print, back in 1972, and he paid a heavy price for it. He was hounded and harassed, of course. The usual terror tactics. The COS did their best to ruin his career as a concert pianist, sabotaging important performances and so on. His book was a milestone in the exposure of the scam, and he is all but forgotten now. This is unfortunate, as I think he deserves as much appreciation as any of the current wave of noisy exes.  Even better, Bob is a great writer and does an excellent job depicting what it was like for a typical public scilon in the late 60’s and early 70’s. If you have wondered how things worked in the cult back in the good old days under L Ron, here it is.

Same as it ever was, that’s the way it is in the cult of scientology. Check out Robert Kaufman’s book to see just how true that is.  Originally published in 1972, Bob revised it in 1996 and made the revised edition available free online.  There are many places to find a PDF, here is one link:


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