It’s no secret, Scientology has been getting a lot of attention recently mainly for its cultic characteristics and celebrity recruitment in Hollywood. Cults are known to be a group with 3 identifying characteristics including (1) distinctive ritual and beliefs related to its devotion to a god or a person, (2) isolation from the surrounding “evil” culture, and (3) a charismatic leader (Myers, 2012). Recently in the past few years, a number of celebrities have opened up about their former involvement in a cult, mainly the cult of Scientology. Celebrities who’ve spoken out about their experience in Scientology, also reveal the abuse, harassment and trauma they endured as an active member of the church, as well as a former member.
Business Insider published the article All the most shocking things about Scientology, according to Leah Remini’s revealing show, which discusses celebrity Leah Remini exposing the dirty hidden secretes about the church of Scientology in her new hit show, “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”. Remini left the church 5 years ago and states that this A&E show is her platform to expose Scientology’s abuse and manipulation, as well as help current members of Scientology that want to escape from the church’s corruptness (Nededog, 2017). A main
One research article, Cult Experience: Psychological Abuse, Distress, Personality Characteristics, And Changes in Personal Relationships, discusses the psychological abuse and distress that ensues in a cult, whether an active or former member. The study also highlights the personality characteristics of a typical cult member, and the changes that occur in their personal relationships. The study mentions that there are identify four distinct factors associated with cultic environments: Compliance, Exploitation, Mind Control, and Anxious Dependency (Gasde, I., & Block, R. A., 1998). These findings correlate to Remini explaining a policy the church uses called “fair game”, which implies that members have the ability to push the boundaries of the law in order to keep ex-members quiet and prevent destruction of the church organization. The news article reports a statement from Remini’s show talking about fair game policy, “…actions could include stalking, digging up dirt, checking out people’s background, vilifying them in the media and on the internet, and hiring private investigators to surveil them” (Nededog, Jethro, 2017).
It’s clear to see why members who have doubts and want to leave the cult would have such high anxiety and hesitation, knowing the repercussions that will ensue. Still, advocates like Leah Remini stand as a motivational figure, helping to expose this wrongful abuse and inspire others who desperately want to break away from the cult their involved in. “Langone (1995) insightfully remarked that the reason why cult members generally do not return to the cult after the floodgates of recognition and emotion have opened is “because the suffering they experience after leaving [the cult] is more genuine than the ‘happiness’ they experienced while in it. A painful truth is better than a pleasant lie” (Gasde, I., & Block, R. A., 1998).
Gasde, I., & Block, R. A. (1998). Cult experience: Psychological abuse, distress, personality characteristics, and changes in personal relationships reported by former members of Church Universal and Triumphant. Cultic Studies Journal, 15(2), 192-221. Retrieved from http://www.icsahome.com/articles/cult-experience-psychological-abuse-csj-15-2
Myers, David G. (2012). Exploring Social Psychology. New York: McGraw- Hill.
Nededog, Jethro. (2017, February 2). All the most shocking things about Scientology, according to Leah Remini’s revealing show. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/craziest-scientology-facts-leah-remini-2017-1/#hubbard-based-scientology-on-his-claim-that-he-healed-himself-from-war-injuries-a-claim-that-going-clear-author-lawrence-wright-says-is-fabricated-2