These Scientology books always amaze me. The otherwise totally normal and intelligent people who get sucked into a cult like Scientology, and drag their children along them, will never make sense to me. But that won’t stop me from reading the memoirs of ex-Scientologists.
Jenna Miscavige grew up deep in the Scientology organization. Her uncle, David Miscavige, ran the church, and although she didn’t really know him, having the Miscavige name carried a lot of weight. It also carried a lot of expectations — she was separated from her parents at a young age in order to grow up fully immersed in the culture (and also to allow her parents to fulfill their own obligations).
Miscavige recounts all of the weird shit we’ve heard before about Scientology — children separated from parents, the classes, the celebrity recruitment. Miscavige spent time on “the Ranch”, where she and a bunch of other kids performed hard labor and menial tasks, day in and day out, under the guise of improving the church. As Miscavige points out “The problem is that Scientology is a system that makes it nearly impossible for you to think for yourself,” which meant even when she questioned something, she didn’t know who to go to or what to do.
She eventually escapes, obviously, but that word encapsulates a truly harrowing experience. She was cut off from everyone, made to believe she was evil — it’s amazing she made it out at all. Looking back, she can see what they put her through but at the time:
“If I felt anything else, then surely the problem was with me. As a result, I doubted myself constantly. I doubted whether I was a good person; I doubted whether the people around me were good people; I doubted whether my emotions were appropriate—all”.
That’s a horrifying way for anyone to live, especially a child.