As part of my secondary research feeding into my exploration of insanity I visited the Church Of Scientology based near Blackfriars station and the whole experience was very surreal. After watching several of what can only be described as promotional films, I had more of an insight into how people can be convinced that if they follow a certain formula in life they can find their so called ‘truth’. Scientology holds many structures and beliefs, the main one being the belief of the ‘thetan’; the immortal soul. The religion focusses on the soul and spirit as something that can be re-born time and time again with our bodies acting as just a physical presence. I was given a tour through the church where I saw where they trained fellow scientologists in auditing as well as the purification room, where new members go to cleanse themselves by doing an intensive sweat treatment so rid the body of toxins that they believe haven’t left your system. One of the scientologists showing me around described the experience as feeling like a child again, with a fresh perspective in life and new found ambition and drive.

The Church of Scientology linked into my theme of insanity because of the extremity of it. I believe sanity can be fluid and the transition is not always noticeable. Many respected people in society believe in this radical religion and I do not believe they are necessarily insane but some may consider Scientology to target vulnerable people to make profit. I consider Scientology as a manipulation of power as they target perhaps emotionally unsettled people with promises to improve their life in exchange for devotion and money.

My personality test 
¬†Something I found most disturbing about my visit was how charming all the staff were. Now some may put this down to them having found their truth through scientology but to me it did seem very cult-y. Everyone I came across was very complimentary and somewhat uplifted. Perhaps they really have found the ultimate recipe for ‘personal efficiency’ but I couldn’t help but feel as though their friendly facades had a more sinister undertone. Why would I not trust these people? Why would I not agree to fill out a 200 question personality test?

As someone who has suffered from mental health issues for around 6 years, I have filled out my fair share of invasive, multiple choice questionnaires but it was their reaction to the results I found the most daunting and even interesting. I wasn’t surprised when they were below average scores but this almost became a selling point for the man delivering them to me. I played along, saying other conventional methods of therapy had not worked and was looking to try something a bit different which he loved as this gave him a chance to pitch the paid workshops they hold at the church. After leaving the friend I went to the church with and I compared results and despite them being drastically different both members of staff had made the same speculations. I feel as though this was a tactic to bring attention to areas of peoples lives where they need help and use this as a way to get them to turn to scientology. Preying on the vulnerabilities of others when in a position of power is another reason why The Church of Scientology falls into my theory of fluid insanity and how some fall into the temptation of manipulating others less powerful than them.

Scientology and Power

Scientology to me is insanity manifesting itself as an abuse of power. In the same way I investigated how people can turn to insanity when they are given power, a similar thing happens when power is taken away. I want to further explore power as a main subtext or insanity and bring this into my developing work.