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Why growing up in Scientology can be so damaging, even years after leaving

Although this story is my personal experience, and many could have had variations of this, I think it’s worth noting what Scientology’s “applied religious philosophy” does to its youngest members as far as trauma and damage.

In therapy, real therapy, not Scientology’s balderdash, there is so much research and understanding of what causes trauma, and ways to manage it. When babies and kids learn that someone who loves them can also deeply hurt them or ignore their needs, it creates an inner turmoil that manifests in other and later relationships.

Scientology and Sea Org parents alike are indoctrinated to be, in a sense, distanced emotionally from their children.

“You have lived before, Sunny.” My mom says. I’m only 3. I’ve barely figured out I’m alive at all. And now I’ve been handed immortality, whether I want it or not.


“You already know all of this. You just need to remember.” She continues.

And she leaves me in a Sea Org daycare that is extremely understaffed and full of more than 200 children and babies in chaos. Dirty diapers, hungry kids, fighting kids, upset kids, you name it. All dropped off while parents go off to save and Clear the planet.

I want to cry. I want to go back to our old life. This place is too much for me. I don’t know anyone. Where is my brother? I find him, he’s as lost as I am. But at least we know each other. He had already, before we even came to LA, tried to get away. Back in Austin, he was once found by police walking down the center of a six-lane road, saying he was walking to his grandmother’s house, 375 miles away, in Lubbock.

We were both lost and confused. It quickly became clear to us that crying would get us nowhere. Everyone else was already crying. So we stood quietly, wondering when or if we would see our one parent again.

Left in a disorganized and unsupervised place, we decided to explore. Our only instructions had been to “remember” how to grow up again. It was very clear we were very much on our own for this endeavor.

Visits from our mom were rare back in those days. We never knew from one day to the next if we would see her at all. Sometimes it was days, sometimes weeks or even months without a parent. Just the chaos that was the daycare.

Sometimes I would wake up in bed at the apartment mom had. She would pick us up as late as midnight, but I would not remember that. I would just wake up and be home. It was nice to have the quiet sometimes. But then it would be another drop off the next morning and the same routine of “figure it out.” We had to learn early and young how to Make Things Go Right, a common, very overused term in Scientology.

Fend for yourself was the motto we learned early on. It was hard, and nearly impossible to get the attention of a caretaker because of the chaos and messes they were dealing with. They were clearly overworked and never got breaks either. Looking back on it, I’m pretty sure they were working 24 hours a day trying to keep up with all the kids. There was no help or end in sight for them either.

So I learned to be on my own at a very young age. I learned that no-one would be there for me when I needed help or support. Food? Find it. Clean clothes? Ha, that’s a joke. A towel to dry off after a shower (with no soap, and no assistance, I did what I could in a bath)? No. A cot or bed for a nap? Ha. Just find a corner of a room and nap there. Try to find a dry spot where no one had pissed recently.

With so many children and babies missing their parents, lost and confused, there was no way it could have been anything less than chaos.

Many of these children, including myself, because of this unpredictability, developed attachment disorders. In my case, and probably 99 percent of the children there, it created the rare type, called disorganized attachment.

What’s that? Well, it causes chaotic, unpredictable or intense relationship patterns and behaviors. It causes extreme fear of rejection as well as difficulty connecting and trusting others. It causes extreme need for closeness while pushing others away. It causes aggressive behavior towards caregivers and partners, and even friends. It makes us have a negative self-image and low self worth. Shame, anxiety, feeling unlovable, inadequate or unworthy.

I had to learn at a very young age that I was not going to get support or comfort from anywhere. In a sense, every child was on their own. In an environment like that, there was no time for caregivers (or parents, essentially absent) to provide nurturing and education to their offspring.

It was so much easier for them to tell us to remember. Then it was all on us to figure it out.


And if your “figuring it out” results in doing something out-ethics (such as “stealing” food, the one I always got into huge trouble for), you would hear about that from your parent, whenever you did finally see them.

Make it go right, but don’t steal (that’s suppressive!), don’t do anything without permission. Hell on wheels, mom, there’s nobody to ask around here! We are all on our own.

The only rare visits from the parent became less and less affectionate and more and more “ethics handlings” for whatever bad thing we did this time.

In the early years I did want to see my mom, but when it became visits from mom meant I was in ethics trouble again, I had no desire to see her.

After years of trying to understand and figure all of this out, plus with a single parent who was rarely present, it was very hard to attach to her, or anyone, for that matter.

Things went on like this for somewhere around a decade. Rare parent visits that I didn’t want anyway. I became a cranky, violent, sneaky, unstable teen around the age of five. It was the only way to survive there.

By the time my mom got a post assignment that kept her in the LA area regularly, the damage was already done. I pushed her away emotionally from that point on. To me, she was just another Sea Org member, not a parent.

Outwardly, I became a hard core Sea Org member and did my assigned posts with my all. But deep down, I hated being in Scientology, I hated my life and never wanted it. I had become a trained auditor (the Scientology auditor – the one who delivers counselling sessions in Scientology) because Hubbard said they are the most valuable beings on the planet.

And I wanted my mom to value me. I wanted her to see that she should have loved me. I wanted to have value and matter. I wanted her to reach out to me. So I could shove her away and put her back in her place. She needed a dose of what she dished out.

Yes, this is and was childish of me.

This is a very predictable pattern recognized in therapy. Disorganized Attachment is very real. And rare. But I believe that many of those raised in Scientology or the Sea Org might recognize the pattern of it in themselves. If I can just help one person feel better about themselves, all of my writing about Scientology would be worth it.

Remember this, second gens: It was not your fault. It just never was, and never will be. You matter. You are loved.

— Sunny Pereira



Technology Cocktail

“We have a whole world full of ‘victims.’ That’s enough. We don’t have to be victims ourselves. It’s a scarcity we don’t have to remedy. New Definition: A Scientologist—one who is not a victim. We can make victims into people without Q and Aing.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1959



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf


— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner


Source Code

“The Rock has such terrific significances connected with it: violations, survival, not to survive, thisa, thata, the other thing, identifications, cross-references, see file B, see file A 1,002,642, cross-reference Navy Department, you get the idea. Bulletin of War, Space Command, planet Exnoo, figure-figure-figure-figure, think-think-think-think-think-think, figure-figure-figure-figure, thought-thought-thought-thought, thought, significance-significance-significance-significance… And when he looks at this particular piece of matter, energy, space and time which is all it’s conceived of, he doesn’t conceive of matter, energy, space and time. He thinks, Cross-reference: Space Command, 8,000,000,682, general order to all torpedo-men. Following: pursuant to the orders of the admiral… See? Now, this unfortunately cross-references with Order of the Day, Monastery Platitude, Mount Xenu. There shall be peace. Which conflicts with, Dear, I know you are dedicated to holy orders, but I need a new pair of shoes. Which in itself is very vastly in conflict with Order of the Mount: Honor thy father and thy mother. Wait a minute, how’d that get in there? And that’s why the preclear’s so baffled.” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 25, 1958


Avast, Ye Mateys

“LOCAL MONEY: Be sure you turn in your local wallpaper. I sure hope it’s cooler at sea!” — The Commodore, July 25, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Why have we lost so many of our powers after coming to this planet? I mean, I remember shortly before and I was a giant disembodied Thetan that new ALL of the sciences that make up everything and I also had enormous magical creation of ability, and I use to sweep across enormous gigantic masses of planets and instantly create groundcover foliage. I met a guy in Scientology that I used to know when we are on a spaceship just before coming to this planet. He didn’t go through the implant station like I did, and he was extremely OT, more than I. I lost most of my powers, but he was not or could not go exterior to his body and create anything magical and neither could LRH, either. These bodies just soak up a Thetan like a sponge since with all their automaticities they are 100 percent effect and a Thetan is 100 percent cause, so the two just snap terminals like a magnet.”



Past is Prologue

1996: The Associated Press released an article entitled ‘Cyber War.’ A few excerpts: “Some on the Net call it cyberspace’s Vietnam. Others prefer the analogy of the Spanish Civil War. Whichever it is, the back-and-forth skirmishes of this guerrilla conflict are an excellent example of the kind of vigilantism that rules in the anarchy that is the Internet. The ongoing confrontation is perhaps the best example of the Internet as a self-regulating anarchy: When the church made ample use of the U.S. legal system to stop the illegal posting of its copyright materials, Internet users countered with hit-and-run online networks to spread information faster than the church could file suits. Things boiled over in January 1995, when Scientology lawyer Helena Kobrin attempted to delete an Internet discussion group devoted to Scientology because she believed it violated the church’s intellectual property rights to the word ‘Scientology’ itself and that it had been initiated with a forged e-mail address — one that misspelled the name of a church leader. ‘It was intended as an attempt to protect intellectual property rights. Nothing more,’ Kobrin said from her Los Angeles office. Numerous anti-Scientology Web sites also have gone up, meticulously detailing each court case, summons and outcome, with whole libraries of newspaper and magazine article appended. Scientology has countered with its own massive Web site, weighing in with more than 30,000 pages in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. It includes information on church beliefs, a virtual reality tour of Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles and even a sound clip of Scientologist John Travolta performing. The most recent engagement was last month’s massive ‘vertical spam’ of alt.religion.scientology, a tactic that overwhelmed almost all discussion. No one knows who was sending the messages, which sometimes came at a rate of 100 per hour. Scientology spokeswoman Debbie Blair said the church had no part in the attack.”


Random Howdy

“I prefer to think of D.M. as Theon Greyjoy.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentencing on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Trial scheduled for August 15.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place at least through sentencing of Masterson on Sep 7.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing August 1.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Jon Atack escaped Scientology, but then he got himself into much deeper trouble
[TWO years ago] More proof Scientology’s ‘Fresh Start’ clinics going belly up: San Diego County site for sale
[THREE years ago] Scientology to the rescue: After losing son and wife, Johnny Lewis’s dad is happier than ever
[FOUR years ago] For once, a target of Scientology gladhanding did his homework and said no thanks
[FIVE years ago] 50 years ago today, Scientology was banned in the UK — Here’s why it was a bad move
[SIX years ago] The Rathbuns hire a lawyer, and Ray Jeffrey answers questions about his legal salvo
[SEVEN years ago] Why does Scientology have no sense of humor? Because seriousness is a sacrament
[EIGHT years ago] A video response to Scientology’s crass celebrities, Jenna and Bodhi Elfman
[NINE years ago] French prosecutors investigating claims that a company forced Scientology on workers
[TEN years ago] Scientologists Warned about Facebook “Entheta” After Leah Remini’s Departure
[ELEVEN years ago] Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s Split Becomes an Advertisement


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,101 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,616 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,166 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,156 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,037 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,341 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,212 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,317 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,764 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,106 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,672 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,591 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,758 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,340 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,601 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,637 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,353 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,917 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,232 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,407 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,958 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,089 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,427 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,282 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,401 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,757 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,060 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,166 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,564 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,440 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,023 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,518 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,772 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,881 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 25, 2023 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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