Inside the room there was hardly anything other than a bed and the person being given the silent treatment. Outside the room, there was someone watching to make sure that the door stayed closed and the person inside didn’t get out.
It was Scientology’s first “Introspection Rundown,” and it happened more than 40 years ago on a ship sailing the Atlantic that was called the Apollo. The person inside the cabin was a member of the crew named Bruce Welch, who had temporarily lost his mind.
The person sitting outside, providing security, was a young Australian Scientologist named Mike Rinder.
“It was my first job on the Apollo. To sit outside the cabin with Bruce Welch. And I can tell you, no one interacted with him at all,” Rinder told us recently.
The former Scientology spokesman, who left the church in 2007, remembers that Welch had not only had a psychotic break, but that he was a large man and an intimidating one.
“I was terrified of that guy. He was huge, and violent,” Rinder said.
The “Commodore” of the Apollo, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, decided that the best thing to do with Welch was to put him in a small cabin and deprive him of interaction. Whenever anyone came in contact with him, they should not speak. Without anything to upset him, Hubbard figured, then Welch would calm down to the point where he could be audited — Scientology’s version of counseling.
Rinder says Welch eventually did calm down. But not before destroying the cabin.
“He tore up the mattress and threw it out the porthole. He ripped up the locker and the bed. They all went out the porthole too. There was nothing left in the room at all. But there was also nothing to hurt himself with either,” he noted.
After Welch became calm, he got some auditing and it seemed to help.
Hubbard then announced, with typical bravado, that he’d discovered the sure-fire way to handle any psychosis, and he had also eliminated the reason for the psychiatric profession to exist. From then on, if a Scientologist went “Type III” — had a mental breakdown — they would be handled with the Introspection Rundown.
Whether there was ever any validity to Hubbard’s theory or not, Rinder told us, it was clear that Lisa McPherson, in late 1995, was never properly subjected to the conditions of an Introspection Rundown as it was known.
Rinder pointed out that Janis Johnson, the senior medical officer at the Flag Land Base, was usually in the cabana room at the Fort Harrison Hotel where Lisa was being held, as well as two caretakers — a total of three people, much of the time. Even though they didn’t speak to Lisa, their mere presence provided constant stimuli. “She was also in a room that had mirrors. And one wall was glass. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. The theory, whether you agree with it or not, is that you reduce the stimuli and the person eventually calms down. They’re supposed to be in something that’s like a padded cell, with no one to talk to,” Rinder explained. “As soon as you have someone there to have a reaction with, you’re not doing the Introspection Rundown.”
And Rinder is quick to point out that he’s not saying a proper Introspection Rundown would have helped Lisa, but only that she never got one. “It wasn’t even something that resembled an Introspection Rundown,” he said.
Instead, Lisa remained agitated and violent, day after day. And each day, the people overseeing her kept waiting for her to calm down as they literally watched her deteriorate from lack of food and water.
“I think they were trying to get her calm enough to be able to audit her. And they were hoping, each time, that the next day she would be calm enough so they could audit her. And none of the people who were there had a clue what they were doing,” Rinder said. (Rinder himself was at Int Base in California and was unaware of Lisa McPherson’s situation while this was going on.)
Janis Johnson oversaw the women who worked as caretakers — some of them had a little nursing or medical experience, but most did not. But running things was Flag senior case supervisor Alain Kartuzinski. We’ve written before about how Kartuzinski, a Scientology counselor with no medical background, overruled the three actual medical doctors who were either on hand or a short distance away and knew about Lisa’s situation. In interviews with police, one of the professionals — a soon-to-be licensed dentist named David Houghton — admitted that they deferred to Kartuzinski because he was in charge of Lisa’s “spiritual” needs.
(Kartuzinski himself, in an interview with police, didn’t bring up the Introspection Rundown, and when police did, asking Kartuzinski if Lisa had “asked” to be put on the rundown, he said, “No. Lisa, she wanted to rest.”)
We wrote at the beginning of this series about how involved Scientology leader David Miscavige was with Lisa McPherson’s auditing as he declared her “Clear” in early September. This was after she had gone through an Introspection Rundown in late June and July because she had experienced a mental breakdown and had admitted to having suicidal thoughts. Despite that happening only a few weeks before, Miscavige pushed Lisa through Clear while he was at the Flag base.
Since then, Miscavige had returned to Int Base in California. But was he aware of what was happening with Lisa McPherson at the Fort Harrison Hotel?
“He was getting reports from RTC people,” Rinder said.
The Religious Technology Center (RTC) is the nominally controlling entity of Scientology (we say “nominally” because it’s actually the Sea Organization, which has no legal status, that actually controls the entire Scientology movement, with Miscavige its only true “captain” in charge). Sea Org workers consider it a special status to work in RTC directly with Miscavige. And he also had RTC representatives in other locations. At Flag, it was Angie Trent and Rikke Jensen who reported to Miscavige as RTC reps, Rinder said.
Alain Kartuzinski may have played dumb with police, but in 1995 he would have been very aware of Lisa McPherson’s history and David Miscavige’s role in it. In the summer, Lisa had successfully completed an Introspection Rundown, but since then she had been “case supervised” by David Miscavige himself, who had declared her Clear after he had berated Kartuzinski for not handling her case correctly up to that point. Now, just a few months later, Lisa was a raving lunatic and Kartuzinski would have been under immense pressure. Miscavige’s pet project, Lisa McPherson, was invalidating Miscavige as a technical expert by losing her grip on reality so soon after he’d declared her Clear. Kartuzinski would have been hard pressed to “make things go right” and get Lisa calmed down and into auditing or he would face the wrath of Miscavige.
“To report to Miscavige that his C/Sing and programming had resulted in a psychotic break would have been suicide for [the RTC reps],” former top Scientology official Mark “Marty” Rathbun noted on his blog in 2012.
So between the terrified Scientology executives and the non-speaking caretakers, Lisa McPherson continued to get the same non-treatment, day after day.
And on Monday, December 4, 1995, Lisa McPherson was fading fast.
Janis Johnson said she peeked in at 8 p.m. that night and Lisa was in bed so she left.
Rita Boykin noticed that Lisa had a swollen jaw on the left side of her face, and when Rita tried to feed her, Lisa complained of pain in her throat.
Heather Hoff, meanwhile, could see now that Lisa had bruises on her legs, and feet, and her arms, and Heather assumed it was from all the times Lisa had been violent.
But now, Lisa was hardly moving, and when Heather tried to get her to eat something, she took in a little or just spit it out.
It had been sixteen days since Lisa had been brought to the Fort Harrison Hotel, and sixteen days of being fed protein shakes and herbal supplements and very little real food and water. And after sixteen days, Lisa McPherson was dying in front of her caretakers’ eyes.
We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.
Our book tour is concluded for now. (But you can re-experience it through this nifty interactive map!) We’ll let you know about future appearances. Previous events: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15), Cleveland (9/23), Minneapolis (9/24), Portland (9/27), Seattle (9/28), Vancouver BC (9/29), Sydney (10/23), Melbourne (10/25), Adelaide (10/28), Perth (10/30)
Posted by Tony Ortega on December 4, 2015 at 07:00
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield