Thursday, May 17, 2007

Inhuman beings...

An old friend, Tom Solari, has a new typepad blog, where he has posted an excellent essay, called "Inhuman Beings - The Chemicalized Personality". His premise is that the observable increase of violent behavior in recent years is directly attributable to the psychiatric drugs that these people were on. According to Tom, it's not post-partum depression, combat stress, or rock music or video games. It's psychiatric drugs that are responsible for dehumanizing people to the point where they will commit these crimes. Kip Kinkle in Oregon, the two kids from Columbine, and now the VTech massacre - all were apparently on psychiatric drugs. That's just the very tip of the iceberg -- the more of these you look into, in depth, the more you realize that the common link between them is the psychiatric drugs that they are prescribed. As the black box labels on them now say, they can cause suicidal or homicidal ideation -- in other words, they make you want to kill yourself or someone else.

I've known and respected Tom for over three decades now. When I first met him, he was part of an improv comedy group called "Solari and Carr". He and Clark Carr performed live comedy sketches at Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles on Friday noties. This was in late 1971, only a couple of years after Celebrity Centre was established by Yvonne Jentzch (one of my very favorite people of all time). Now Celebrity Centre is a huge and wonderful place -- back then it was a tiny facility in the Alvarado district in LA. Solari and Carr would do sketches with other minor celebrities who happened to be wandering through the place. One of my favorites was a recurring sketch called "Meat on the Street", where they would portray the drug users, pimps and whores, cops and bag ladies who were familiar to all of us who lived in the Alvarado district. All for some very good laughs.

In any event, Tom's essay on "Inhuman Beings" is well worth reading.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dianetics revealed to me my spiritual nature.

In 1968 I first saw a copy of Dianetics at a corner drugstore in Portland, Oregon, on the 'best-sellers' rack among the latest novels of the time. I picked it up and saw some hyperbole on the back of it about being more in control of your own mind, leafed through a few pages, put it back on the rack and dismissed the book with this thought: "This came out 20 years ago. If there was really something that could do what this says, we wouldn't still have all the problems we have today!" I had no inkling that it would be fought, tooth and nail, by the psychiatrists dispensing drugs and dishing out ECT and lobotomies. (If you think the vicious practice of Electro-Convulsive Therapy is gone, you are badly mistaken.)

That day in 1968, I bought Frank Herbert's "Dune" instead, and read it on a Greyhound Bus crossing the US to spend my junior year of high school with my sister Charma-Lynn.

My friends today would not have recognized that younger me on the bus; I was severely depressed. A year later, living in Portland again, I became addicted to street drugs. A couple of Scientologists (these were just casual aquaintances, mind you) helped get me off of the drugs cold turkey and cared enough to go miles out of their way to help me recover physically and mentally. They made it their mission to help me get off drugs, and they did! I will be forever grateful to them.

Then, in 1971, for the price of $25 (which seemed like a lot of money to me as an 18-year old drugged-out college student) I signed up for and did a Scientology course on communication, because I recognized that those guys who had helped me could actually communicate -- and I had a great deal of trouble with that skill. It took me three months to complete the course, spending several hours a day at it, week after week. I may have set the world record for how long it took to do that course, as most people finish it in a week or so. I think they made about five cents an hour off of my participation in that course.

The skills I got from the communication course changed the direction of my life completely, and I became happy for the first time in my life. Not just a happy hour or two, but weeks of mostly happy days that rolled on into months and years. I was a happier person, never depressed again, and never on drugs again. By happy I mean that I wasn't on some kind of manic high, I could just recover from anything (geting sick, getting a traffic ticket, getting dumped by a girl) very quickly. And I'd be happy again. It was like I'd been incapable of it before. And now I was able.

I started whistling, singing, feeling joyful about my life and my future. I hadn't ever thought that would happen to me; I thought I had been fated to a life of depression and misery. I could actually talk to girls!

A couple of years later I had the opportunity to get an hour or so of Dianetics counseling every day from a friendly young woman named Helen Korengold. She was someone I liked and trusted, and I felt safe talking with her. She was a trained "auditor" -- a person trained in Dianetics, who asks questions and actually listens to your answers without brushing them off, or talking about herself all the time. I found out it's GOOD to be listened to!

Over the course of a couple of months, the questions she asked in the Dianetics counselling changed my life again. I learned things about myself, my past behavior and feelings, and my own mind I had never imagined. I learned that I hadn't lived just this one life, that I had considerably more history than that. That came as something of a surprise to me, because I had always assumed that I "started" with the birth of this body and would end when it ended. I realized I was a spirit and had abilities that were being way underused; I started using those abilities, and wanted to learn more about how to use them better!

I didn't realize at the time that I was paralleling the same path that Hubbard had walked twenty years earlier.

When he wrote Dianetics in 1949 and 50, he had no real concept that when a person looked at pictures in his mind, it was a *spirit* looking at the pictures. He didn't know what to call the thing that looked at the pictures - in the Dianetics book he called it the "awareness of awareness unit". The thing (not part of the mind, not part of the body) that is aware of itself.

It wasn't until many thousands of people started doing Dianetic auditing back there in the early 50's that many of them discovered they had lived before. It created a revolution among the Dianeticists of that era -- a few of them revolted and refused to talk about anything that was a "past life" experience. But the main body of Dianeticists (and Hubbard) realized that they were dealing with the human spirit, not some body or some mind. Hubbard started researching the human spirit.

And when they got into that realm, dealing with the human spirit one-on-one, they were basically in uncharted water, an area that only religion ever attempts to explain.

This was an adventure!

Psychiatry has no theories that deal with the human spirit. Only brains, brain (ha!) chemistry and the behavior of brains and bodies. They have abandoned utterly all dealings with the human spirit. So it wasn't some new branch of psychiatry that Hubbard developed.

He had to coin a word for it as one didn't exist.

Epistemology doesn't really cover what they were doing, although I think epistemology is the closest of the humanities to Scientology. But the epistemologists are haring off down some paths that don't really seem to go anywhere. Large groups of people don't become happy or better by studying epistemology (although it is a fascinating subject).

But I did get better (in my own estimation) by studying the subject that Hubbard developed, and doing the various courses into which he organized the subject he called Scientology. In the early 50's (1952 or 1953, I think) some of the Dianeticists (by then calling themselves 'Scientologists') founded the Church of Scientology and it's been growing ever since, despite the opposition of organized medicine (AMA, APA), drug companies (Eli Lilly and others) and most of the major media (who are deep in the pocket of the drug companies for ad revenues).

Today is the 57th anniversary of the publication of that book "Dianetics". It's worth reading, no matter what you may have read online or elsewhere. Read it yourself and see if it makes sense to you. If not, no harm done!

And if you have any interest in how your own mind works, or how you can make it work better, Dianetics is worth DOING.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Leah Remini is beautiful. In person, she's stunning. Here's a great photo of Leah and an article where she gives the reason she got into Scientology. It's very simple - she saw good changes in her mom as her mother started doing Scientology, and she communicated well enough to want to check it out for herself.

About nine years ago, I met Leah at Celebrity Centre, when she was just enjoying the first flush of success with King of Queens. (Note: I don't care to watch sitcoms but it seems to be popular). At the time I was working at Warner Brothers managing True Blue Productions, Kirstie Alley's production company, and I was well aware of Leah's burgeoning success as an actress, because I had heard a lot about Leah from my wife at the time. They were friends, had been best friends as teenagers, back when Leah was struggling like all the other young actresses in Hollywood. My (now ex-)wife was featured in the Lifetime network bio of Leah as her childhood friend.

Anyway, at that meeting, I had the feeling that I had met her before, and I told her so.

She denied it, bantering that she always remembers a face and she had never seen mine before. I insisted on it -- she said that I must have seen her on TV. With my best poker face I said "No! Are you an actress?" She laughed herself silly.