We took personality tests at the Scientology place on South Bridge and all they wanted was our money
They tried to make me think I was abused by my uncle
Edinburgh has its own 'Hubbard Academy of Personal Independence'. Scientology, the controversial religion made famous by L. Ron Hubbard and Tom Cruise has a home in our city.
It's perfectly situated for any Edi students who need a little spiritual advice in between lectures – equidistant between Old College and Pizza Paradise.
You've probably all noticed it before but the allure became too much for us. We had to head in and see what it was all about.
I was essentially going into this blind. I've watched the obligatory Louis Theroux documentary but asides from that, my knowledge was nil.
To describe its appearance as comparable to a slightly haunted, fifteen year old branch of the Games Workshop, would be generous. The frankly odd decor and cut out of a flamebearing horseman were overshadowed by the books. The books.
After my first unsuccessful trip to the Scientologists, which involved snooping about an empty building for a little while before almost getting a heart attack from an elderly lady, I was back and prepped with my completed personality test in hand, ready to hear about all the faults in my character like it was Christmas with the extended family already.
The personality test
Slightly overawed by where I was standing, surrounded by at least a thousand copies of the same five books, I met Barry(not his real name). Barry's English wasn't great by any standards, however that didn't stop him from getting straight down to it and offering me a personality test.
I was greeted by the Oxford Capacity Analysis test – looks like if you slap 'Oxford' onto anything, it makes it official.
This puzzling little test had you tick the box to say whether you agree or disagree with 200statements. These statements were mostly about personal character and inclinations, with the occasional out of place question, such as number three: "Do you browse through railway timetables, directories or dictionaries just for pleasure?".
The unwanted counselling
Besides every facet of my personality requiring urgent life-coaching attention, the Scientologists decided I’m desperately depressed because of things that happened in my past and spent about 30 minutes trying to get me to confess what that was.
Swerving getting sucked down that rabbit hole, my personality 'expert' then decided to start making accusations. Everything from shitty exes to being sexually assaulted by an uncle as a child – these guys were clearly well versed in bullshitting to reign in the damaged and gullible.
And if that wasn’t enough to try feed off my weakness, a very odd line of conversation took place when he couldn’t decide why I was apparently also very nervous.
When he asked if I had any relatives who’ve passed away, I knew stuff was about to get shady.
He asked if my recently deceased grandfathers were nervous people – I said I wasn’t sure and he gave the most painfully put-on face of knowledgeable amusement and said we’d come back to that later. Oh, what fun.
Cut to later, and I’m innocently asking ‘so, what were you saying about my grandpa?’
Their desperate attempt to sell their book
After getting the fairly damning results from the personality test, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Barry could help me. He gave me the incredible news that there was a book which could sort everything out.
As you can see above, Dianetics, the central book of Scientology's quest to improve every human's life, is a bizarre book. Why someone would want to equate helping someone's mental health to an active volcano is beyond me.
According to Barry, it is the only book to ever talk about the human mind. It was mine for the paltry sum of £17. I told Barry that I'd see if it was in the university library and if it wasn't, I'd come back and buy it.
He was having none of it.
After ten minutes of him telling me there was a chance it wouldn't be in the library and that my mental health was at risk if I didn't have it in hand before leaving, I caved.
It was worth it because the second my thirty pieces of silver crossed Barry's palm, he smiled, shook my hand and said "we're friends now".
After making these sensational accusations, he gives me that Hollywood worthy smile again and gets out this 600 page book, covered in plastic – ‘this will give you all the answers’.
MATE. I have never seen a more blatant money grab at the expense of others’ heartache since I watched Marley and Me.
There was a very uncomfortable half hour of him trying to sell me that book, because it’d help me be successful so I didn’t end up, in his own words, an alcoholic, drug addicted homeless woman with no goals in life. Thanks.
When I didn’t budge though, he decided that the book would be far too complex for me as a mere nineteen year old girl. He wanted to sell me a couple courses instead, where I could come in and there would be radiators or something. I don’t know, I was losing focus at this point.
To be honest I was expecting Scientology's reputation, as a world wide vendor of odd books, to be slightly more hidden than it was. I was also expecting Barry, although very nice, to be a more thorough salesman. That encapsulates it though, my whole experience at the 'Hubbard Academy of Personal Independence' wasn't quite quite what I expected. It was just odd.
All in all, I knew they were bad, but, wow.