In the mid-1960s, Hubbard introduced a policy asking Scientologists to “disconnect” from friends or relatives exhibiting a strong hostility to Scientology.
by Massimo Introvigne
In the previous article in this series, I introduced the distinction Scientology makes between suppressive persons (SP), who are non-Scientologists who try to destroy Scientology, and “potential trouble sources” (PTS), i.e., those Scientologists who remain in contact with SP. In the HCO Policy Letter of October 27, 1964, which I discussed in the previous article, Hubbard wrote that PTS “should not be accepted for auditing by any organization or auditor.”
It was thus proposed to solve the problem by simply excluding these “Threatening Sources” for auditing. Later, it was felt that this was not enough.
In the HCO Policy Letter of December 23, 1965, Hubbard included this definition: “A POTENTIAL TROUBLE SOURCE is defined as a person who while active in Scientology or a pc [preclear] yet remains connected to a person or group that is a Suppressive Person or Group.”
In this 1965 letter, the policy for handling PTS was spelled out in more details. Not only they “may receive no processing until the situation is handled,” but they were told, if they wished to remain in Scientology, that they had to either “reform” the SPs they were in touch with, or “disconnect” from them.
“A Scientologist connected by familial or other ties to a person who is guilty of Suppressive Acts, Hubbard wrote, is known as a Potential Trouble Source or Trouble Source. The history of Dianetics and Scientology is strewn with these. Confused by emotional ties, dogged in refusing to give up Scientology, yet invalidated by a Suppressive Person at every turn they cannot, having a PTP [Potential Trouble Problem], make case gains. If they would act with determination one way or the other-reform the Suppressive Person or disconnect, they could then make gains and recover their potential. If they make no determined move, they eventually succumb.”
It was entirely clear to Hubbard that this may involve “disconnecting” from one’s spouse or another close relative. “This Policy Letter [of December 23, 1965], he wrote, extends to suppressive non-Scientology wives and husbands and parents, or other family members or hostile groups or even close friends.
So long as a wife or husband, father or mother or other family connection, who is attempting to suppress the Scientology spouse or child, or hostile group remains continuingly acknowledged or in communication with the Scientology spouse or child or member, then that Scientologist or preclear comes under the family or adherent clause and may not be processed or further trained until he or she has taken appropriate action to cease to be a Potential Trouble Source.”
Hubbard’s preferred solution was dialogue. The relative or friend should approach the SP and try to “reform” her by persuading her to cease the anti-Scientology activities. He urged that “the Scientologist would be well advised to fully inform the person he or she accuses of Suppressive Acts of the substance of this policy letter and seek a reform of the person, disconnecting only when honest efforts to reform the person have not been co-operated with or have failed. And only then disconnecting publicly.”
However, in the system instituted by the 1965 letter, when efforts at reform failed, disconnection should be public. “Disconnection from a family member or cessation of adherence to a Suppressive Person or Group, the letter prescribed, is done by the Potential Trouble Source publicly publishing the fact, as in the legal notices of ‘The Auditor’ and public announcements and taking any required civil action such as disavowal, separation or divorce and thereafter cutting all further communication and disassociating from the person or group.”
Hubbard was surely conscious of the radical nature of these provisions—although the PTS always had the option of remaining in contact with the SP relative and leave Scientology—but claimed that they were necessary for saving Scientology and, ultimately, humanity itself. “The greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics, Hubbard explained, requires that actions destructive of the advance of the many, by Scientology means, overtly or covertly undertaken with the direct target of destroying Scientology as a whole, or a Scientologist in particular, be summarily handled due to the character of the reactive mind and the consequent impulses of the insane or near insane to ruin every chance of Mankind via Scientology.”
Two clarifications should be included. The first is that the most radical policies only applied when a SP was trying to suppress or destroy Scientology. The case of a SP that was hurting an individual Scientologist, without greater schemes of destroying the Church, was handled differently.
According to a Policy Letter of July 19, 1965, “There are instances met with by Ethics Officers, especially in relation to husbands and wives, where there may be suppressions on individual people but not suppressive of Scientology. In such cases a ‘Separation Order’ for a specific period of time is the best action. For example, Joe S—and Mary S—are hereby placed under a Separation Order while Joe is undergoing Processing. They are to have no contact with each other during this period from (date) ………. to ……….”
In this case, the safety of Scientology was not a stake, only the individual well-being of the single Scientologist. Accordingly, a temporary separation was regarded as sufficient.
The second clarification concerns the “disconnection letters” some PTS who decided to disconnect with their SPs decided to write. These letters figure prominently in the anti-Scientology literature. Scientology admitted they had been really written. In the 1978 edition of the book “What is Scientology?,” page 204, we read that, “Disconnection was the action of helping persons to become exterior from circumstances or people that suppress them. At one time (between 1966-1968) this was done by formally writing a letter, which in some cases caused upsets.”
However, writing letters of disconnection seem to have derived from overzealous PTS, or perhaps their auditors, and was contrary to Hubbard’s instructions. “Publishing” the disconnection for Hubbard meant placing a legal notice in a Scientology publication or in the appropriate venue in case of separation or divorce. Not only was writing letters not mentioned, it was explicitly discouraged.
Although a short Technical Bulletin of July 20, 1966, may also be interpreted as a prohibition to write disconnection letters until the SP had been clearly identified, it hints at Hubbard’s dislike of these letter in general. “It has been revealed at Saint Hill, the Bulletin stated, that HGC [Hubbard Guidance Center] auditors and Review auditors are permitting their preclears to be sent through to Ethics for writing disconnection letters to any person or group which the preclear thinks to have been suppressive of him […]. This is improper.”
These original statements about disconnection will be reformed several times in subsequent years, as we will see in the next article of this series.