Disconnection is the act of severing all contact with another person. The most common occurrence of this is when a Scientologist disconnects from someone he/she believes to be antagonistic to the Church of Scientology. Spokespeople for Scientology will either claim there is no disconnection policy or that it is a person’s own free will whether or not to disconnect. As we shall see, there is considerably more to the story that that.
Table of contents
To understand the role of disconnection within Scientology it is first necessary to understand PTS/SP tech. PTS stands for ‘potential trouble source’ and SP stands for ‘Suppressive Person’.
Hubbard’s concept of an SP is laid out in both ‘Introduction to Scientology Ethics’ (p171 2007 edition) and HCOB 27th September 1966 titled ‘The Anti-Social Personality, The Anti-Scientologist’. He decried that SPs only speak in generalities (i.e. they use phrases like ‘they say’, ‘everybody says’, etc.), that they habitually select the wrong target when apportioning blame, they cannot complete projects, they support only destructive groups while oppose groups that help, that they believe no property is ever owned (a reference to communism), etc. Hubbard opined that SPs were suppressive because they feared others getting better, and that this was due to being ‘stuck in an incident’ (something either in this life or a past life is having effect over you, the memory of such being constantly restimulated). He proposed that 20% of the population had these characteristics, with 2.5% being really suppressive.
The above negative characteristics are then equated with those critical of Scientology. In HCOPL 23rd December 1965 titled ‘Suppressive Acts, Suppression of Scientology and Scientologists, The Fair Game Law’, this equivocation is clearly seen with this comment:
A SUPPRESSIVE PERSON or GROUP is one that actively seeks to suppress or damage Scientology or a Scientologist by Suppressive Acts.
SUPPRESSIVE ACTS are acts calculated to impede or destroy Scientology or a Scientologist and which are listed at length in this policy letter.
Changing definitions like this within Scientology are quite common. A new recruit would first learn that an SP is one possessing the previously listed negative characteristics. As that recruit progresses further into Scientology they are then exposed to this later re-definition, which is implicitly equivocating those negative characteristics with anything not in agreement with Scientology.
The Role Of SPs In Scientology
The SP concept in Scientology serves two important functions.
Firstly, it acts as a ‘thought stopper’ when Scientology members encounter criticism about the cult. Critics can be labelled SPs, and thus their information (regardless of how much evidence there is) can be ignored. The idea that critics are SPs and that SPs are criminals is reiterated again and again in Scientology. HCOB 5th November 1967 titled ‘Critics of Scientology’ highlights this idea:
Now, get this as a technical fact, not a hopeful idea. Every time we have investigated the background of a critic of Scientology, we have found crimes for which that person or group could be imprisoned under existing law. We do not find critics of Scientology who do not have criminal pasts. Over and over we prove this.
Secondly, the concept of SPs provide a means to rationalise away when Scientology does not match Hubbard’s claims. If a person receives auditing and does not make any ‘case gain’, then there must be a reason for it (other than Scientology doesn’t work, because that would be far too logical). If there are not gross auditing errors (GAEs) and the tech is still in (i.e. the auditing was done exactly as Hubbard directed), then it must be because an SP was involved. At this point you then have to track down who the SP is. This is detailed in the SHSBC lecture titled ‘Suppressives and GAEs’ as follows:
So therefore, the auditor had better realize that these techniques-there are some techniques, such as the Search and Discovery (S&D)-Search and Discovery for the suppressive and ARC break are not auditing actions at all but ethics actions. So therefore, you have to be a bit of an Ethics Officer, don’t you?
Potential Trouble Source
A PTS is defined as someone who is connected to an SP. So if a person undergoes auditing and doesn’t make the required ‘gains’, or if that person makes mistakes or has an illness, then it must be because that person is PTS (because Scientology is perfect and works 100% of the time, so there must be a reason when it doesn’t work). An illustration of this idea is seen in HCOB 20th April 1972 titled ‘Suppressed PCs and PTS Tech’:
As the Dianetic Specialist (HGDS) is often called upon to handle pcs who are not well, it is vital that he knows all about and can use “PTS Tech.”
All sick persons are PTS.
All pcs who rollercoaster (regularly lose gains) are PTS.
Suppressive persons are themselves PTS to themselves.
Another illustration is from HCOB 19th October 1973 titled ‘Mistakes and PTSness’, which contains the single line “In the vicinity of PTS people one tends to make mistakes, since PTS people make mistakes.” The same idea is expressed in HCOPL 12th March 1968 titled ‘Mistakes, Anatomy of’ thusly: “People making mistakes or doing stupid things is evidence that an SP exists in that vicinity.”
When a person is adjudged to be PTS, then it becomes a task of finding why that person is PTS (or more specifically ‘who’ is the SP making them PTS). The failures of Scientology are now blamed on SPs.
Curing The PTS Condition
The basic process is laid out in HCOB 10th August 1973 titled ‘PTS Handling’:
There are two stable data which anyone has to have, understand and KNOW ARE TRUE in order to obtain results in handling the person connected to suppressives.
These data are:
1. That all illness in greater or lesser degree and all foul ups stem directly and only from a PTS condition.
2. That getting rid of the condition requires three basic actions: A. Discover B. Handle or disconnect.
The procedure for discovery is detailed in HCOB 24th April 1972 titled ‘PTS Interviews’:
Interviews to discover a PTS condition are done on a meter with all reads marked.
The Interview asks (a) about persons who are hostile or antagonistic to the pc, (b) about groups that are anti-Scientology, (c) about people who have harmed the pc, (d) about things that the pc thinks are suppressive to the pc, (e) about locations that are suppressive to the pc and about past life things and beings suppressive to the pc.
In doing the Interview the Interviewer must realize that a sick person is PTS. There are no sick people who are not PTS to someone or a group or something somewhere.
Having ‘discovered’ what is making the person PTS, the next step is to handle/disconnect. This procedure is exemplified in HCOPL 20th October 1981 titled ‘PTS Type A Handling’:
THIS HANDLING IS DONE BY THE ETHICS OFFICER OF AN ORG OR THE HAS OR IN THEIR ABSENCE BY THE QUAL SEC.
It is actually an interview with the suspected PTS person. It is often done on an E-Meter to assist the verification of data.
If a PTS situation actually exists, the interview must result in a written program agreed upon by the person, with copies to the person and to his ethics file.
As the person does the steps of the program, he reports their accomplishment to the org officer who interviewed him.
If the person fails to do the program or the program results in no real change in the situation, the interviewing officer must investigate thoroughly to find out what the person is doing instead of the program and check for any communication he may have sent which continued the upset, and get this corrected at once. He must also ensure the PTS A person is handling the correct antagonistic person. (Example: PTS person Jones may have thought the antagonism was coming from Smith, whereas Smith’s upset is being kept alive by Smith’s associate, Doakes, who has disagreements with and/or misunderstoods on Scientology.)
If the handling program is drawn up standardly and yet the person is sour on it or “doesn’t want to do the handling” or never seems to quite get around to doing the program, then the Ethics Officer would suspect that either:
a. A wrong item had been found, which would require an L4BRB done by an auditor in session to handle. (Refs: HCOB 24 Nov. 65, SEARCH AND DISCOVERY, and tape 6510C14, “Briefing of Review Auditors”)
b. The program had been misimplemented (the pc didn’t really understand what he was to do, was miscoached on the steps of the handling, or he “did the handling” in such a way as to create further antagonism rather than ease it) requiring a thorough review of the situation and handling of whatever is found. (Refs: HCOB 8 Mar. 83, HANDLING PTS SITUATIONS; HCOB 24 Apr. 72 I, CIS Series 79, PTS INTERVIEWS; HCOB 24 Nov. 65, SEARCH AND DISCOVERY)
If (a) and (b) above have been thoroughly checked into by the Ethics Officer to ensure that any nonstandard application has been corrected and there is still no change in the situation (Le., the antagonism and upset continue), the PTS person would then disconnect. And if the person does need to disconnect, the HCOB 10 Sept. 83, PTSness AND DISCONNECTION, must be followed exactly.
The above same HCOPL also recommends against antagonism, and gives the following as example of what not to say: “You murdered me in a past life, you dirty dog!” A commonly used handling technique is to write a letter to the person perceived as being an SP. From the same HCOPL:
The handling could be as simple as writing to one’s father and saying, “I do not complain that you are a janitor, please do not complain that I am a Scientologist. The important thing is that I am your son and that I love and respect you. I know you love me, but please learn to respect me as an adult individual who knows what he wants in life.” Or it could be as follows: “I am writing to you, Daddy, because Mother keeps sending me these dreadful newspaper clippings and they are upsetting to me because I know they are not true. You do not do this and so it is easier for me to write to you.”
It should be noted how family members who show concern for their loved ones in Scientology would come under the above. And thus the who redefinition of words to brand such concern as suppressive is complete.
Outcomes Of PTS/SP Tech
In practice PTS/SP ends up being a way for a given Scientologist to block out any critical information about Scientology. The people expressing such information are perceived as being criminals, which makes such information easy to ignore without rationally processing it. Another equally important aspect is in how PTS/SP can make it very difficult for family and friends to express concerns. The coaching given, in combination with courses such as the ‘Overcoming Ups & Downs In Life’ course, can lead to a souring of any conversations between the Scientologist and those expressing concern. This can lead to the Scientologist pounding and pounding and pounding and pounding on their family and friends until they simply shut up. By making any potential conversation into a full scale row the Scientologist will have successfully ‘handled’ the situation (they will often write up a ‘success story’ about how wonderfully PTS/SP tech has worked).
If handling fails, then the Scientologist will be encouraged to disconnect. This is laid out in HCOB 10th September 1983 titled ‘PTSness and Disconnection’:
HOW TO DISCONNECT
How a disconnection is done depends on the circumstances.
Example: The pc lives next door to, say, a psychiatric clinic and feels PTS due to this environment. The remedy is simple – the pc can move to another apartment in another location. He need not write any sort of “disconnection letter” to the psychiatric clinic. He simply changes his environment-which is, in effect, a disconnection from the suppressive environment.
Example: A pc is connected to a person or group that has been declared suppressive by HCO in a published ethics order. He should disconnect and, if he wants to inform the SP of the fact, he may write a letter of disconnection. Such a letter would be very straightforward. It would state the fact of the disconnection and the reason for it. It would not be misemotional or accusative, since this would only serve to stir up further antagonism. The letter would be inspected by the Ethics Officer before it was sent and copies kept for the PTS person’s own ethics file and pc folder. No attempt would be made to establish communication with the declared SP “to clear matters up” or to seek to reform the SPa The SP’s reform is strictly in the hands of HCO. The PTS simply disconnects.
Example: One discovers that an employee at his place of business is an SP-he steals money, drives away customers, wipes out other employees and will not correct no matter what you do. The handling is very simple-the PTS fires him and that’s the end of it right there!
To fail or refuse to disconnect from a suppressive person not only denies the PTS case gain, it is also supportive of the suppressive-in itself a Suppressive Act. And it must be so labeled. (Ref: HCO PL 23 Dec. 65RA, SUPPRESSIVE ACTS, SUPPRESSION OF SCIENTOLOGY AND SCIENTOLOGISTS)
SUPPRESSED PERSON RUNDOWN
There is of course another technical way to handle PTSes and that is to get them through all problems they have had with the terminal involved and the PTSness will disappear (Ref: HCOB 29 Dec. 78, THE SUPPRESSED PERSON RUNDOWN). But it still requires that during the handling the person disconnects.
Impact of Disconnection
Gabiwynne describes how she was advised to disconnect from her mother, and the Scientological reasoning behind it:
Gabiwynne describes how she ‘handled’ her Scientology-skeptical friends:
Ann describes the impact of disconnection on her family:
‘THE PHELAN Family [from Clonmel] has not seen or heard from their brother Tony since January 2002. Prior to that we had only seen him on a couple of occasions since 1994 when we made our first public protest against Scientology. Tony’s involvement in Scientology has led him to disconnect from us. He has a family who loves him and wants him to reconnect. Scientology has broken up our family.”
Text from a flyer handed out by members of the Phelan family at a protest in Dublin on April 12th, 2008.