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Xenu And The Book Of Profits

The Independent, 13 October 1987

Ian Williams considers how this science fiction writer's cult may exploit patients

THE archaeologists who entered Tutankhamun's tomb did not succumb to the Pharoah's Curse. What killed them may have been an allergic reaction to the fungi which grew in the food offerings left for the dead boy-king.

This novel idea came in a press release from that Candida Albicans Advice Group, a self-help group sponsored by Scientologists.

"The pink, grey and green patches on the chamber walls went unnoticeds as the excavators hunted for gold and treasure. FUNGI. Fruit and vegetables placed in the tomb to feed the pharoah for all eternity had decayed over the centuries to create a deadly mould. So, was King Tut's curse really a severe reaction to Fungi?" asks the Candida Albicans Advice Group.

Carol, a 26-year-old solicitor, was a victim of the Pharoah's Curse. Carol (not her real name) suffered an acute virus infection when she was at school and never completely recovered. She is suffering from postviral syndrome, a condition of continuing weakness and debility which occasionally follows a virus infection. This syndrome, which is also called myalgic encephalomelitis (or ME) has only recently been recognised by doctors. Sufferers have often found that doctors are unwilling to take their story seriously and so have sought treatment from fringe practitioners.

After many years of persistent illness, Carol had a bad relapse and was told about Candida albicans. Candida albicans is a yeast, which is always present in the body but occasionally gets out of control to cause thrush, an irritating infection of the mouth, vagina or other parts of the body. Thrush has long been recognised in medicine but now a few practitioners are pushing the idea that it accounts for a multitude of ills.

Dr. Ronny Finn, a lecturer in medicine who is also President of the British Society for Allergy and Environmental Medicine, a reputable scientific organisation, said: "It's fashionable in a certain section of fringe medicine to blame everything on overgrowth of Candida albicans, and such overgrowth can be a serious problem in some cases. But there is very little evidence that it has any connection at all with ME.

"However, ME is an awful complaint; there is no cure, so it is not surprising that patients will try anything."

Which is an accurate description of Carol's state of mind when she sought out treatment for Candida albicans from a fringe group. Her father contacted one of the companies mentioned in a book on the subject, G & G Foods of East Grinstead. One of the staff, Karen Witt, was very helpful and suggested that Carol see a Dr. Barbara West of the Rutt House clinic in Ivybridge, near Exeter.

Dr. West ran a dietary and counselling service. In May last year, Carol went to see Dr. West and then saw Dr. Edward Hamlyn, Dr. West's husband. After two months of expensive allergy treatment, Hamlyn suggested that some of Carol's problems were in the mind, and that she could benefit from "holistic medicine". He gave her a copy of the Scientologists' Bible, "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" by their founder L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction pulp writer.

L. Ron Hubbard invented his theology in the Forties. He had an imaginative jam session with other SF writers to invent the perfect religion. Beginning as a joke, it ceased to be funny when Hubbard, who was no mean salesman, began to market his quasi-scientific "religious technology" of Dianetics. Each expensively bought course reduces the convert's threshold of disbelief as more secret information is revealed, and they are inducted into a world with its own peculiar vocabulary and habits.

The Church of Scientology exploits sufferers' distress to make converts - and cash. It was described by Mr. Justice Latey in 1984 as "corrupt, sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has as its real objective money and power for Mr. Hubbard, his wife, and those close to him at the top". Hubbard is now dead - but nothing else has changed.

Operating like a religion pyramid-selling operation, "auditors" and missions pay money to the church for using "LRH Tech" - the brain washing procedure. To keep in business they have to submit a steady flow of converts for the higher, much more expensive courses.

Carol was seeing Dr. Hamlyn as a private patient at least once a week. "I was very depressed," she said, "and having someone sympathetic to talk to was useful. Hamlyn was charming, and assured me how much he liked me, how much he wanted to help. Even my father liked him."

She then took a Scientology "personality test" - of the kind the earnest young people on Tottenham Court Road press on passers by. Unsurprisingly, she was found to be in need of "therapy" - everyone always is.

It followed naturally that Hamlyn invited her to "dianetics auditing sessions". These consisted of four meetings lasting five hours each, with no breaks, food or water in the second two sessions. The auditing involved intensive questioning about her past. The process has been described by L. Ron Hubbard's son, Ronald DeWolf, as "brain-washing spread over a lifetime".

Carol paid =9C500 for the sessions "without demur" and now recalls with wry humour that by the end of the sessions she was "remembering" things which had happened while she was in the womb. After 20 hours of auditing, she took another personality test which, predictably, revealed the need for yet more therapy. According to L. Ron Hubbard: "If it takes 1,000 hours, then blame the patients not therapy. Yet few cases should consume a thousand hours even in unskilled hands and the bulk of them should take at most two to three hundred hours".

Carol had many hours and even more money to go. Her auditor was Paul Timms, whom she first met when he collected payment for her more orthodox medical sessions with Dr. Hamlyn. Timms offered her "cheap-rate" sessions. This time it was to be a week at a nearby "clinic", Mill House, and it was stressed that she should not contact her parents that week. Hubbard's book treats it as axiomatic that parents may hinder their children from undergoing "therapy" because they are trying to hide something.

According to Hubbard, "preclears" - people who have not completed the Scientology induction course - are still under the influence of parents. They can still remember things which happened while they are in the womb, These dangerous memories, "engrams", are supposedly often the result of parental intercourse during prenancy, of which Hubbard seemed to have an obsession.

This advice has the effect of secluding the preclears from their parents, who are the people most likely to provide an alternative authority to the auditors. Carol was asked to pay a #600 "bargain" for the week, and was then going on for further one-to-one sessions in "AOSH UK", the Scientology headquarters at Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead. If she had gone, she probably would have succumbed completely. Her parents became worried and enlisted the aid of Cultists Anonymous - an organisation which sets out to resist the influence of religious groups such as Scientologists. Carol was persuaded to miss her appointment. She said: "It was in the nick of time. But if it could have this effect on a solicitor, someone who is almost a trained sceptic, what chance for others?" By threatening legal action she even managed to get her money returned. "But it's difficult looking back to see how I could fall for it - and by way, it did nothing for me." There are an estimated 100,000 ME sufferers who are often reduced to the same state of physical and mental depression as Carol - and there is evidence that Scientologists have tried to recruit others from this group. After a Sunday newspaper article last year about the illness, thousands of people wrote to Sue Finlay, an ME victim living in Lamark, who started the ME Action Campaign. Among them was Dr. Hamlyn, who collaborated in drawing up a questionnaire. He resigned some months afterwards when his Scientology connections came out and now, according to Miss Finlay, has no part in the Campaign.

Dr. Hamlyn approached another better established organisation, the ME Association. In a letter to the Association he said that his "special expertise ... makes me believe that it should be possible to offer patients with ME some really useful advice on how to speed their recovery". This was two months after Carol had failed to be helped by Dr. Hamlyn.

The ME Association declined his approach, which could have led to him getting hold of its membership lists. The attractions of 100,000 potential "preclear" candidates for expensive "auditing" are obvious.

Dr. Hamlyn stresses the line propounded by Scientologists that allergies are caused by toxins and chemicals which have damaged the immune system. He believes that this happens in ME patients and that Candida albicans then takes over. Which is perhaps again why he and Dr. West are at the head of practitioners recommended by the Candida Albicans Advice Group - the Pharoah's Curse people. This body, not registered with the Charity Commissioners, is based in East Grinstead, close to Scientology's headquarters. Its general secretary was, until recently, Karen Witt of G & G Foods, who recommended Carol to go to Drs. West and Hamlyn.

The letterhead of the Candida Albicans Advice Group says that it was "initially sponsored" by G & G Foods and gratefully acknowledges its help. G & G Foods was recently incorporated by buying an off-the-shelf company called Applepark - its diectors and shareholders David and Sheila Gaiman, two well-known Scientologists. David Gaiman was a "Guardian" of the Church of Scientology in the United States at a time when the Guardian Office was implicated in a series of dirty tricks based upon a directive from Hubbard declaring opponents "fair game". Indeed, one document revealed by Federal investigators implicates Gaiman in ording false information to be placed in US security agency computers.

David Gaiman, writing in the Scientologists' journal, "The Auditor" (No.209, January 1987), seems to be celebrating the success both of G & G Foods and Drs. West and Hamlyn's clinic at Rutt House. He says: "A nutrition company I have an interest in, with an all Scientology exec structure, has been in screaming affluence for years. This has been entirely due to LRH admin tech and good people who apply it. A medical practice in the West Country went into a supercharged affluence once their organising board was adjusted and the vital actions of a dissemination division were put into practice."

The "supercharged affluence" of this medical practice evidently came from the application of Scientology to the recruitment of patients.

Dr. Hamlyn admits that he is a Scientologist and that he knows David Gaiman. However, he denies that the medical practice referred to in "The Auditor" is his. He said: "I'm afraid I can't make any comment. I don't know what you're talking about."

According to "The Auditor", Sheila Gaiman is not just a company director of G & G Foods, she is also executive director of "SoCo" (Social Co-ordination, UK). This is a Scientology umbrella organisation which aims to promote the cult. SoCo is, as "The Auditor" says: "The means by which we will get LRH [Lafayette Ron Hubbard] technologies into standard use in all the non-church areas of society."

Sheila Gaiman's position illustrates the way the "church" of Scientology works. She is chief of Scientology front organisations which include the Concerned Businessmen's Association, the Effective Education Association, and the "charity" Narconon - which replaces drug addiction with addiction to Scientology. "The Auditor" lists these organisations as run by SoCo. Sheila Gaiman was publicly congratulated this year by other members of the cult. She has "just become the first UK staff member to complete New OT VII. VERY WELL DONE." What this means is that Sheila Gaiman has become an "Operating Thetan seventh grade". This scale only runs up to eight so this is good news for Sheila, if a little obscure to outsiders. To become an OT VII Sheila Gaiman would have had to go through OT III. The arcana of this level have been revealed - to screams of protests from Scientologists - as enabling the acolyte to get rid of his or her "body Thetans". Body thetans are a form of spiritual hitchhikers, attaching themselves to humans since their own physical bodies were destroyed seventy-five million years ago by Xenu, leader of the Galactic Confederation.

Well, if you believe that, you may even believe that Scientology will cure ME, Candida albicans, allergies, depression and so on. But the danger is that people who are run down physically and mentally are not confronted directly with this infantile gobbledygook. What they are greated with, often after years of orthodox medical scepticism, is belief, sympathy and understanding.

Someone not only accepts that they are ill - they are given a quasi- scientific explanation of allergy and candidiasis - but they are apparently offered a cure. Better clinical science among GPs may well prove an effective prophylactic. In the meantime, the General Medical Council, which monitors the ethical behaviour of doctors, is investigating complaints about Dr. Hamlyn made by Cultists Anonymous and others including Carol's parents.

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