EDIT (9/20/16): I see that this article is currently being cited as an example of “disparaging” ex-Scientologists – but if you actually READ what I say, nothing is further from the truth. I love and support all those who have survived this dreadful cult. This article is meant to point out the *actions* of people and offer a possible explanation, NOT to insult them. Remember, just because you don’t like a person’s actions doesn’t mean you don’t like the person. After all, I’m not calling anyone mentally deficient, or crazy, or engaging in any sort of ‘ad hominem’ attack; I am merely recounting my interactions and my experiences – if I don’t name anyone, it’s because I’m focusing on the behavior, not the person, and honestly understand that we all do stupid things from time to time; it’s part of being human.
Only someone who was incapable of anything other than “Black & White” or, “All or Nothing” thinking would see this article as an insult to ex-Scientologists. Please, dear friends – I am NOT attacking you, nor shall I ever. And, I repeat, I’m especially not calling all ex-Scientologists crazy (some do, sadly, succumb to insanity – see below – but this is a small minority and not the norm). Most of the brave souls who leave this cult, leave with their sanity quite intact. But to ignore the damage that this horrible, destructive cult does to people is the height of denial -especially when I keep seeing good people repeating the same self-destructive behaviors, as the ones I’ve detailed below. Dear ones, you’re only hurting yourselves. And I still love you all.
AND ANOTHER TEENSY EDIT: as you can see here, Robinson really is my legal surname, and, for the last two decades, my friends have all called me “Spike.” So no, I’m not an alias, nor do I play one on TV. And what you see here is what you get. I’m not interested in getting involved in any mudslinging or drama, nor shall I ever engage in personal attacks against anyone. Life is too short to spend it angry and fighting against the wrong target.
So, before we go back to the article at hand: I’m just gonna leave this here:
Now, on to the article:
Please forgive the snarkiness of this post, my dear friends, but I am a woman sorely provoked.
Since I’ve stepped up my involvement speaking out against the abuses of the Cult of Scientology, I’ve had my motives questioned, been called a profiteer and a ghoul, as well as all sorts of colorful profanities. I’ve been accused of taking advantage of the pain of the bereaved, even “dancing on the graves of dead children.” Seriously. People I thought were friends were suddenly posting mocking chants about me, blocking me and then repeating out of context intimate details of my life I had confided to them, calling me a “dangerous psychopath” and worse. I’ve had people whom I don’t even know write accusatory online rants about “who is this Spike Robinson and what is she to Jon Atack?”
The really ironic thing is that, at least in my case, most of these attacks are not coming from the cult or its operatives. It is true that the cult has people specifically specifically tasked with going into online forums to “stir up trouble,” but as I’m relatively small fry, I’m honestly not worth the cult’s time. The people attacking me are, by and large, my fellow critics, people who were harmed by the cult and actually think they’re doing “the cause” a favor by acting the way they do.
What’s more, I know that the attacks I’ve experienced are mild by comparison. The most I’ve ever lost is a few hours’ sleep because I got myself too worked up at some of the stupider and more outrageous bits of trolling.
There are people who have had their lives ruined by this kind of garbage. Small wonder Jon didn’t want me to tell anyone I was his PA. Not because he didn’t want people to know (perhaps he’s ashamed that an American is correcting his grammar and punctuation?), but really because he didn’t want me attacked until I had a thick enough skin to handle it, and he didn’t want me to get hurt, or at least not too hurt to edit and proofread his copy (all kidding aside, Jon is one of the sweetest, kindest, and honestly considerate people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. A true gentle man).
I’ve been told over and over again, by exes and critics alike: “get used to it! Don’t take it personally!”
And they’re right: I really mustn’t take it personally. Because, after all, it’s not the people I’m dealing with, but the personality of the cult leader, as reflected in the behavior of the cult members, even after they become cult survivors.
The cranberry-drinking one calls it “cloning.” It’s been well-documented that cult members will all affect the same personality type as each other – some experts call it the cult personality. I call it a cultic “shell:” a set of behaviors and habits that the leader passes on to his followers, along with the dogma, the phobias, and the abuse. And usually, once you leave a cult, you’re back to your own self within a year or so.
Recovery from Scientology, on the other hand, takes significantly longer – a dozen years at least, often more. You can take the person out of Scientology, but getting the Scientology out of the person is, apparently, a tougher order. I’ve seen it up close and personal throughout the last year of working in the field, all sorts of manifestations of the Hubbard personality, popping up out of good people and biting the very people who are trying to help, like a wounded animal.
Now I said I have friends who are exes. Any of you exes reading this, I still love you. Really, I do. You’re all heroes to me, just for getting out. Some of you have survived losses and deprivation more horrible and complete than I could ever comprehend. But, yes, some of this (not all) shall be describing you – these are generalities, of course, and believe me, I’ve got issues of my own, if not whole subscriptions. But know, my friends, that you are not “damaged goods,” (far from it!), or case studies or psychos, but survivors, and admirable exemplars of the resilience and goodness of the human spirit.
However, there are a few self-destructive, counter-productive habits that seem to be woven into the culture of ex-Scilons so deeply that these brave survivors seem to be simply unaware of their more cultish actions and behaviors. Now, I believe that it’s when we face our problems and look at them honestly that half the battle against those problems is already done. So, with that in mind, here are a few things that make life with my ex-Scilon friends so gosh-darn interesting:
They fight like wounded weasels in a wet bag.
For the Scientologish, their cult shell is woven from the personality of cult founder L. Ron Hubbard, who was notorious for making friends rapidly, and then just as rapidly deciding that they were his enemies, even accusing them of conspiring against him. The world of Scientology is one of shifting loyalties, betrayal, and disconnection, that is, totally cutting yourself off from people in your life based on whether or not they are “ethical” in the eyes of the organization. These patterns, once ingrained, are hard to break: one of the reasons I’m Jon Atack’s PA is, in fact, because he needed someone who was an ex-cultie but NOT an ex-Scilon. Why? simply put, so that I wouldn’t have my own complex web of people who hated me already. Of course, now there’s a complex web of people who hate me because I’m Atack’s dog, but that’s his problem, not mine. Well, mostly his.
Apparently, there are a lot of people who hate my boss so much that they won’t speak to him directly or even come out and say what it is they don’t like, but will keep finding me online and “confronting” me in forums, hinting about deep secrets and shadowy deeds Jon is somehow responsible for, but then shrinking from saying anything concrete when out and out asked.
One recent troll ranted on about police and judges taking money and public officials being complicit in the crimes of the cult, which is, sadly, perfectly true. The CO$ does seem to own not only the city of Clearwater, Florida, but also certain parts of the LAPD, the FBI, even holding sway famously over the IRS. But when I asked the person who was mentioning all this as a reason why she didn’t respect Jon, whether she thought the author of A Piece of Blue Sky would actually be complicit with the cult, she had to back down, amending it to that Jon is “not the expert he thinks he is.”
Got news for ya, lady. No historian is the expert he thinks he is; professional arrogance comes with the territory. But you were talking about crooked cops and complicity – now, if your only concern is that he’s “not the expert he thinks he is,” why are you going out of your way to bombard his assistant with dark hints about corruption and money changing hands? Of course, I know the real reason this person doesn’t like Jon. She’s a fan of another prominent ex-Scientologist, someone else who happens not to like Jon. And simply naming him alongside such concepts is a technique called “placement,” which L. Ron Hubbard – and other manipulators – have used for centuries in order to smear an innocent person with the crimes of others. And there’s no one some ex-Scilons seem to enjoy smearing more than other ex-Scilons.
It says something that every single ex – including my own cranberry-quaffing Quixote – has a list of exes they just won’t talk to. I found out quite rapidly on the ex-Scientology message boards and forums that there are many people who will judge you by whether or not you like Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun – or Jon Atack.
Sounds childish? Well, according to experts in the field, the mental age of a cult member is twelve, and the pieces of the cultic shell will often force an ex to display these arrested behavior patterns, even after leaving the cult. Even decades after an ex-Scientologist leaves the Org, preadolescent behavior will crop up, even in the most mature and responsible individuals, and they will use all their rationality to defend what they would instantly know to be completely ridiculous behavior – if it were anyone else but them. Because, yes:
They think everything is about THEM.
There will be at least five people who will think that this article refers specifically to them. Well, it does. Just not specifically. You ALL do this, dear friends (or, at least, most of you do). L. Ron Hubbard was notoriously paranoid, and this paranoia has leeched deep into the ex-Scilon psyche. One man, whom I recently blocked when he wouldn’t stop confronting me in online forums and hinting darkly about “my employer” and his alleged misdeeds, would be horrified to know that when I mentioned him to Jon, he didn’t know whom I was talking about. Just before I blocked this troll for good, he was asking me if Jon was paying me to keep tabs on him and “run interference.” Oh, yeah, you’re the most important person in the world to an author who’s never heard your name before. Really. Which brings me to my third point:
They think everything SHOULD be about them.
Now, I certainly don’t mean all exes with this one, but every critic knows at least a few people who are still trapped in this mode: everything HAS to be about them or at least their pet agenda. I put up a compliment about one critic. Three other critics ask, well, why didn’t you mention me? Or they’ll post a link to their own pet project, telling you how theirs is better. You post something about voting rights in Texas and they’ll put up a link to their own blog about how they rescued a pony in Virginia. Or they’ll tell you how you’ve just insulted them deliberately and deeply (see above). In short, they will do something – anything – to make your post about them. Or, if they can’t do that:
They will pick apart anything you do.
Hubbard hated anyone else having success: the infamous Mission Holders’ Massacre happened because he didn’t like the mission holders succeeding more than he had with Dianetics. I’ve seen people lambasting Tony Ortega, simply because he is so successful. Closer to home for me, the “Getting Clear” conference in Toronto was a resounding success – that week. Then, only because Jon was the main speaker and onstage host, a small cadre of people decided that we were doing it all “for the money”, or that we were being “elitist”, or that we hadn’t invited this person we should have, or we did invite that one we shouldn’t have, or we hadn’t done this or that or the other thing. Why should I care what a small group thought and said? Well, people believe what they hear from their friends, and then they start repeating it, over and over, to other folks they know. Now, I didn’t make the decisions about the charging for the videos and neither did Jon. But do you think that that fact kept hundreds of people from accusing us of running the event just to make some “blood money,” (and yes, that phrase was used)? And why did these fellow critics, people supposedly on the same side, decide that, because they didn’t like the host presenter of the conference, they must “tell the world” that it was a horrible, or at least, useless event, and get as many other people as possible to say so, too? Because:
They engage in black and white thinking.
This is probably at the back of most of these points. Hubbard was the master of “all or nothing” thinking, and frequently paraphrased his core belief: “if they’re not with us, they’re against us.” If I don’t agree with you that ham tastes better than beef, we can agree to disagree. However, imagine if, because you prefer ham, I decide that I must also disagree with you on everything else, and that the very fact we disagree means that you must be a horrible, evil person, and working against everything I hold dear. While this sounds absurd in theory, I see variations on this mental model every day now, in different combinations and levels of complexity and intensity. I already know that simply posting this article will lose me a few friends, because they simply will not be able to handle the criticism. If I say I don’t like a behavior, I must not like the entire person (which simply isn’t the case – I love them with all their faults – and I’ve got plenty of faults of my own, some of them on this list, and not just because I’m an ex-cultie). Because they disagree with another critic, even on what might seem to be a minor point to someone else, it too often follows that the other critic must be evil, and thus someone who cannot be respected, listened to, or trusted. This often leads to the most disturbing behavior of all:
They make up the most insane accusations about each other – and anyone else around them.
L. Ron Hubbard is known to have turned ex-friends in to the House Un-American Activities Committee as Communists, and accused even his current friends of horrible, deeply disturbing crimes. No less than a half dozen exes I know and respect are convinced that certain other exes I know and respect are stalking them, or are actually OSA spies. People whom I know have done good speaking out against the evils of the cult also spend their valuable time maintaining “hate websites” on each other, conducting complex “back-channel” negotiations and rumor-mills via private messages, maintaining networks of multiple sock puppet spies, and perpetrating whispers of treachery, lies, deceit, even rape and murder.
I’ve just re-read that last paragraph and realize how bizarre it sounds. But, because I’ve dedicated my life to helping people out of cults, this is what my life sounds like now.
It’s tinfoil hat time, all the way. Which brings me to my final, and saddest, point:
Some of them have gone completely insane.
The reason it takes over a decade to recover from this murderous group’s mental influence and its thought patterns is due to the extreme nature of its “training routines.” According to cult expert Steven Hassan and other leaders in the field, these “TRs,” which form the backbone of much of the lower courses, are simply a form of hypnotic induction, and thus, can implant hypnotic suggestion and also, like many forms of hypnosis, lead to dependency on the therapy – and the therapist. No less of an expert than Margaret Singer declared that Scientology programming was more damaging in the long term than the thought control techniques used on prisoners of war in North Korea. This stuff crushes souls worse than heroin. So, unfortunately, there are some critics, some of them prominent members of the movement, who are, sadly, completely batshit bonkers. If you manage to get one of them in chat, they will tell you confidentially that Xenu is real and that the CIA have taken over, and that the LSD experiments of the late 60’s were really Hubbard’s brainchild, and that even now, every single police department in this country has a dedicated Scilon officer … this is the real scandal of Scientology: this cult has destroyed lives, shattered minds, torn apart families, and has conditioned its survivors so well that only a handful of them are able to rise completely above the petty bickering and “side taking” that this group’s dynamic leaves in its wake. The fact that even the most bizarre of the conspiracy theories is not too far off from the actual reality of this multi-billion dollar cult with more lawyers than buildings is a good reason that the worst off of these poor souls remain beyond the help of even the most competent of therapists, at least while their dragon is still alive.
And, in the end, no matter how hard I’m bitten, that’s why I’ll never leave.
 I’m the poor fool he underpays to blue-pixel his punctuation, manage his footnotes, put his paragraphs in order, work up his illustrations, get his work ready for publication, and help him figure out which one of the million projects screaming for his attention needs to be done now. When I get to his side of the Atlantic, I’ll no doubt be fetching his cranberry juice and doing the dishes, too (fair exchange though: as I’ve heard from mutual friends, the man is an excellent cook). In short, I’m Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote, Dr. Watson to his Sherlock Holmes, even, yes, Penfold to his Danger Mouse. That’s what I am to him. What’s it to you?
 The sad troll who thought that I’m being paid to keep tabs on his actions is a prime example of this: his reason for imagining Jon as some sort of criminal mastermind, and in league with the very cult he claims to be fighting against is simply because Jon’s definition of religion does include Scientology as a religion. However, he maintains that a religion can be evil, criminal, and completely abusive, as well. Not my viewpoint, the boss’s. You wanna argue with him about it directly, you can leave him a message here, and I’ll forward it along (EDIT: the addy I had before apparently goes to a dead e-mail; I apologize). He loves a good debate, and, in fact, debates this point very well, at length, and with some vigor: this is the organization that almost destroyed him utterly, and he holds no love for it. The only time I’ve seen him anything other than pleasant and mellow is when he’s discussing the depredations of what he often calls “the clut.” And, no, he’s not “raking in the money” doing anything even resembling auditing or dianetic therapy on anyone.