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Finding your way after leaving the cult of Scientology

Did You Ever Wonder About OTs?

Kathy Elliott has favored us again with a story from her life as a recovering Scientologist. You have read her stories of life in the Sea Org written while she was under the radar and using the pen name of Theodora Farnsworth. This story is from the period after leaving staff but before leaving the church to become a free being. Fair warning to new readers, there are some Scientology terms in her story.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-disapproval-image1359933I could hear the screams coming all the way from the classroom down the hall. It sounded like 8 year old Bryan again.

As his teacher half led, half dragged him along, the sounds grew louder and louder.

“NOOOOO!!!” Bryan wailed.

I listened as they progressed down the hall. Then they seemed to get hung up. I peered around the door into the hallway.

They had reached the iron railings of the stairwell leading down to the floor below. Bryan had wrapped his little hands around the black metal poles and was clinging desperately to them like an octopus.

I watched as his teacher disgustedly pried his grubby fingers loose from death grip on the railings and got him moving again. It was like an Upper Indoc drill gone horribly wrong. I tried really hard not to laugh out loud.

The teacher, her hair and clothes in complete disarray, dragged the little boy the last few yards onto the porch where my “office” was located.

It was 1986 and I was the ethics officer for Mace-Kingsley’s lower school and my workspace was a folding table and chair on a wide, covered porch on the second floor of the school building.

Bryan sank in a sobbing heap onto the floor at my feet.

“Are you sure you can handle him?” the teacher asked looking at the child with obvious aversion. She sounded apologetic for having brought me this “problem”.

And of course, to her, Bryan was a “problem”. She obviously had no clue how to handle him other than to get him out of her space.

She was okay with kids as long as they sat quietly at their desks like little robots but once they went over the edge like Bryan obviously had, she was helpless – and hopeless – and heartless. Bryan had become a “thing” to be gotten rid of so that she could get back to her classroom of perfect little angels.

“Don’t worry. We’ll be just fine,” I assured her, hoping she would just leave quickly.

She scuttled away without a backward glance.

“Bryan,” I said gently. “What did you have for breakfast?”

“Nothing!” he wailed. “My mom was in a hurry and didn’t have time to feed me!”

“Okay. We can fix that.” I said cheerfully.

I opened the cooler under my table and brought out a frozen bean and cheese burrito.

“Come with me,” I told the child, taking his hand. We descended to the first floor and made our way to the “off-limit’s” teacher’s lounge. I let Bryan put the burrito in the microwave oven and showed him how to push the buttons to warm up the food. He was delighted at being allowed to use a grown up and forbidden machine.

Back on the porch upstairs, Bryan inhaled the burrito.

I noticed that he had dark circles under his eyes.

“Bryan, are you tired?”

“Yeah,” he admitted, sighing heavily.

“Didn’t you get enough sleep?”


“What happened?”

“Mom had to wake me up when she came to get me at the baby sitter’s last night and then she woke me up early this morning so she wouldn’t be late for work.”

I knew that Bryan’s mom had a more-than-full-time job running her own business. Sometimes she didn’t get off work until very late at night.

As part of my “ethics equipment”, I had several mats like the ones that the kindergarten kids used at naptime. I put one of these in a dark corner of the porch. I had Bryan lie down on it and he was soon fast asleep.

The problem was solved.

But the on-going mystery wasn’t.

Bryan’s teacher was a highly-paid, accredited educational professional. She was also OT V.

I was “nothing”.

I had no previous training or education in the field of teaching or working with kids. I was at the bottom of the Bridge – a lowly ARC Straightwire completion with only an “old” comm course and HQS Course from 1970 under my belt.

Aside from her “wog” credentials, the teacher was an OT. To my bottom-of-the-Bridge understanding that meant that she was “willing and knowing cause over life, thought, matter, energy, space and time.”

Why then couldn’t she confront and handle a little kid whose ruds were out? To me, that should have been a piece of cake for an OT. After all, how hard was it to get in comm with an unhappy child and comfort him?

Day after day, the teachers (most of whom were OT) would bring me their “ethics particles” – the kids they couldn’t confront and handle. And every single one of these OTs was amazed that I could miraculously spread oil upon the troubled waters and produce a calm, happy child where there had once been a screaming, crying, kicking, flailing tangle of arms and legs. And every single one of these OTs treated these kids as if they were lepers.

“I don’t know how you do it. I wouldn’t want your job,” I’d been told many times.

So why could I handle troubled kids when these OTs couldn’t?

Why could I do many things that OTs couldn’t do – and should have been able to do according to that definition of OT?

THIS was the mystery.

And this mystery had plagued me since I had first become acquainted with Scientology in 1970.

Back in 1970, there were only a handful of OTs in the area in which I lived. Two of them – a married couple – soon became my close friends. The husband was old OT VI and the wife was old OT VII. In addition, both of them were trained auditors and hatted staff members. With my newly acquired understanding of the scale of abilities (the Grade Chart), I believed they were gods.

Why, then, didn’t they operate like gods? Or at least like OTs per the Scientology definition?

This couple lived in the poor part of town with their two small children. They could only make enough money through their combined efforts to just barely scrape by. They had difficulty in getting – and keeping – jobs. Attempts at their own business failed dismally. They finally had to apply for welfare and food stamps.

At the time, I was the sole-support of three little girls whose father was a dead-beat dad who had abandoned us years before. With no formal training, I had become a computer programmer and a systems analyst at one of the biggest companies in the city and was having no trouble supporting myself and my young daughters.

Two tech-trained and admin-trained OTs couldn’t make enough money to support themselves, but I had managed to rise to the top of the newly-forming IT world in a big city with no help from Scientology other than an introductory communications course and some basic data about the ARC triangle.

Why was I so blatantly more able than these two OTs? According to the Grade Chart, I shouldn’t be.

And so the mystery began – and persisted for the next 40 years.

During that time, I worked with and for many OTs, including my stint at Mace-Kingsley.

Fast forward to 2007.

For several years I had been working as office manager and finance officer for a Scientology business in LA.

The owners (we shall call them Fred and Annie) had been on OT VII for over a decade and had finally completed that level and had made it through OT VIII.

I was very excited to see how things would change when they returned from the ship.

The company had been struggling along but now, I felt, things would really start to snap, crackle and pop.

While the couple had been away, an old homeless woman had taken up residence in the dumpster area in the parking lot near the office. Annie noticed this almost immediately and she became obsessed with getting this poor old lady removed from the property. She had absolutely no compassion for this pitiful human derelict.

All of Annie’s attention was focused on getting rid of the woman. This took priority over everything else. Nothing was more important to her. Not even the business which had been limping along while the couple had been gone for months at Flag and the ship.

My mind just could not process this. A new OT VIII was using all her wonderful new abilities to destroy one old homeless woman. Was there something wrong with ME that this seemed like an insane thing to do and a complete waste of time – as well as being horribly heartless?

It didn’t end there.

Shortly afterwards, the couple move the office to a new location – the second story of a building in an industrial area of the city.

One day Annie was looking out the window and spotted a young man painting graffiti on a building about half a block away. She instantly became very upset and ran out of the building, yelling and screaming, in hot pursuit of the tagger, dialing the police on her cell phone as she raced up the street.

Again, I was baffled. Why would an OT VIII waste her time trying to stop a tagger in an industrial area where every building had graffiti on it and no one really gave a rat’s ass anyway?

Fred, too, was behaving oddly – or so it seemed to my bottom-of-the-Bridge mentality. He became intensely interested in the local First Responders Program. He took classes in becoming a first responder and at staff meetings he encouraged all of his employees to become first responders, too.

He bought survival kits and told others that they should do the same. I overheard snatches of urgent whispered conversations between Fred and his business partners about some “special briefing” that had been delivered to a select few at the org. There was an implication that some horrendous event was looming on the horizon and that we all needed to be ready for it. It was all very hush-hush and mysterious. There was an overall feeling of fear and doom in the office.

Meanwhile, the couple had entered into a business project that was intended to bring in large amounts of money. This project (which should have taken only six months to a year to complete) dragged on for two years.

I watched as the couple made one disastrous decision after another. I knew that what they were doing was wrong, but I denied my feelings because they were OT VIII and must be doing the right thing. I reasoned that OT VIIIs could do no wrong and that they were incapable of doing anything that was non-survival. I kept telling myself, “There’s something I don’t know about the state of OT. Once I get to be OT, this will all make sense to me. I just need to hang in there and this mystery will be solved.”

In the end, Fred and Annie lost thousands of dollars and completely alienated the other investor in the project.

Their company was in worse shape than it had been before these two new OT VIIIs had returned to work their magic on it.

The staff had to be put on part-time hours indefinitely in order to make the payroll.

I went home that day and started my own business – something I’d never before felt that I could do. I had always worked for Scientology companies created and run by OTs because I’d firmly believed that I would survive better if I did so.

After 40 years, I’d become disabused (don’t you just love that word we all learned from studying KSW?) of the idea that OTs were infallible gods who were “willing and knowing cause over life, thought, matter, energy, space and time.”

Because I didn’t want to let go of my absolute belief in the Grade Chart and the magical powers of OT, I denied what I had been seeing with my own eyes for 40 years.

Finally, after watching the mess that these two OT VIIIs made of their business and observing their illogical behavior, I was convinced that something was dreadfully WRONG.

I wasn’t at all sure that I wanted anything more to do with the spiritual enhancement offered by Scientology if the ultimate goal was to produce paranoid, uncaring and unable beings.

Then one day I read a blog post by David St. Lawrence.


What he said in his blog made complete and total sense.

Now I understood why these poor OTs were operating like maimed and crippled ducks.

Now I understood why the teachers at Mace-Kingsley wanted to get rid of the troubled kids.

Now I understood why Annie had wanted to get rid of the homeless woman and the tagger.

Now I understood why Fred was getting ready for some sort of catastrophe with his first responder classes and survival kits.

If you’ve ever wondered about the strange behavior of your OT friends and acquaintances, just take a look at David’s blog (link below).

And if you’ve ever despaired of getting your OT levels, take heart.

Becoming and being OT is a whole heck of a lot easier – and more fun – than you’ve been led to believe.

And you don’t have to lose your sanity and compassion for others in the process!


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scientology411  on January 13th, 2015

Thanks for sharing your story Kathy. Very eye-opening to put it mildly.

Kathy  on January 13th, 2015

Dear scientology411,
You’re very welcome. You’ll find the post at the link very eye-opening, too!
ML, Kathy

Antony Phillips  on January 14th, 2015

What is a responder? Fascinating story!

Kathy  on January 14th, 2015

Dear Antony,
“A certified first responder (Also called an Emergency Medical Responder, Medical First Responder, or First Responder) is a person who has completed a course and received certification in providing pre-hospital care for medical emergencies. They have more skill than someone who is trained in basic first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation but they are not a substitute for more advanced emergency medical care rendered by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics.” – Wikipedia
Glad you liked the story.

Antony Phillips  on January 14th, 2015

Thanks! I thought it was a new “Scientology” term/status (It is 30 Years since they threw me out!)’ Ant.

Subreption  on January 17th, 2015

Thanks Kathy. Great article and link. Loved your previous stories too. Very kind of you to take the trouble to write these. The gat stories help me to help others.

Kathy  on January 17th, 2015

Dear Subreption,
Glad you enjoyed my stories. I find that writing them has been very therapeutic. It helps to get it all out of my space and “down on paper” so to speak. I am tremendously gratified to learn that the GAT stories were a help to others. I feel like we all have to help each other get unstuck from the tar baby. Like poor B’er Rabbit, it is almost impossible to get free of the tar baby on our own. Keep up the good work!

Richard Kaminski  on January 29th, 2015

Another brilliant article. Thank you, Kathy.

Kathy  on January 29th, 2015

Dear Richard,
Thanks! Glad you liked it.
Kathy 🙂

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