The Purification Rundown: Deaths and the Reasons Why

I was recently interviewed by a film company who is going to do a documentary on Scientology. The filmmaker wanted to know about the Purification Rundown as it is in the news due to deaths surrounding it. We spoke, but I also sent her an excerpt from my soon to be released book, “Scientology, A Walk into Darkness.”

The Purification Rundown:

“The Purification Rundown Replaces the Sweat Program.” was released by Hubbard in February, 1978 with typical fanfare as a breakthrough in the field of drug and alcohol recovery and addiction. The bulletin and subsequent reiterations contended that LSD, angel dust, some psychiatric medicines, and street drugs were stored in the fatty tissues of the body permanently. The bulletins warned that if one didn’t do the Purification Rundown the drugs could thereafter create flashbacks and other maladies. It was originally called the Sweat Program, but it was replaced by the “Purif” when the sweat program caused fainting, extreme dehydration, and other physical hardships due to running in a rubber suit. The key element of the Purif is taking niacin in ever increasing amounts up to a mega-dose of 5000 mg per day at one time. The niacin is taken in conjunction with other vitamins and minerals which are proportionately increased. Sweating in the sauna for long periods and running is done in combination up to 5 hours per day.

There have been deaths surrounding the Purif and most recently this year reported July, 2012 by the “Village Voice.” The victim’s deaths are under investigation and there are lawsuits pending in Scientology’s Narconon centers in Montreal and Omaha. I consider this program dangerous. Long stints in the sauna can cause extreme dehydration and heat prostration resulting in severe trauma and death (similar to the 2009 deaths in a Sedona sweat lodge). Mega-doses of vitamins can also be hazardous to those not healthy enough to assimilate them. It is dangerous to those who have unchecked medical conditions like diabetes. A former technical staff member from the Denver Scientology Org that I interviewed told me that two diabetics went blind on the Purif.

I have worked with clients whose bodies and psyches have been harmed from the Purif. One young Sea Org member was made to do the Purif three times. She had no drug history and didn’t need it in the first place. She was unable to process the mega-doses of vitamins and minerals due to sleep deprivation and heavy staff duress that caused an inability to eat. It has been six years since her last Purif, but the toxicity and resultant trauma are still present in blood work despite doctor and nutritionist care.

Scientology Purif personnel are not usually professionals in the health field or in medical care. Some staff are put on duty with as little as a few hours of study called, “mini-hatting.” This is a long standing and serious problem in Dianetics and Scientology since 1950. Laymen have administered mental therapy and health care resulting in psychosis, nervous breakdowns, and deaths. States require doctors and professional staffs administer drug rehab programs, but since Scientology is cloaked under the guise of a church standard medical requirements and criteria are side stepped.

Hubbard claimed to research vitamins and niacin as far back as 1950. His research techniques have always been brought into question by the medical field and professionals who have done any serious study of Dianetics or Scientology. Some Hubbard biographers and writers claim Dianetics never was researched, others say that any research done was minimal. They all concur that his research never followed any standard scientific criteria whatsoever.

A note on Hubbard’s research:
I participated in pilot research studies on the Apollo in the 1970s. The research would start with a germ of an idea that Hubbard read about or encountered in a case folder. To test his theory a pilot project would be put together with a team of auditors trying the techniques in auditing sessions on 20 or so crew members. Tape lectures and bulletins would follow and Hubbard would usually act as case supervisor. The project would usually last about two or three months or until some success occurred. Sometimes the work was finished and codified, but sometimes it was not. Due to legal or personal problems Hubbard would need to leave the ship without the study being completed. Whatever tapes, writings, and case supervision notes by Hubbard that were extant were compiled by staff and declared standard then exported to Scientology organizations worldwide. Often the research did not produce uniform results and case supervisors were left to their own imaginations on how to administer the various procedures.

This was the case on Expanded Dianetics. The main focus of this program was that a person was ill, anti-social, or psychotic due to evil purposes. The subject of evil is obviously a very volatile one. The incomplete or faulty research once delivered made for spotty results at best. At worst, these techniques sent some of those processed into heavy neuroses and psychosis. The last major auditing program that Hubbard’s son, Quentin, had was Expanded Dianetics. It did not help him with his inclination towards suicide. Any failure was always the fault of the practitioner, never Hubbard’s or due to any failure in the research. Expanded Dianetics was typical of most of the research and studies done in Scientology. That is, when any research or study was actually done.

In 1959 Hubbard wrote the book “All about Radiation” which claimed that niacin and other vitamins could cure radiation poisoning in the event of nuclear war. There were some rudimentary studies about radiation done due to illness from X-rays and later due to the after effects of radiation fallout from atomic bombs. In 1938 a group of Wake Forest College doctors experimented on guinea pigs that were radiated in the abdomen. They found some improvement when vitamin B1 and Niacin were administered. Perhaps Hubbard’s initial research, enthusiasm, and writings were from the article written in “Radiation” magazine in March, 1949. However, ten years later when niacin was tested on people, the vitamin proved to have no lasting or significant benefit.

Tests done by a psychiatrist, Dr. Hoffer, on depressed and psychotic patients in 2002 resulted in some cases showing improvement with very high doses of niacin and vitamin C up to 1000 mg taken three times daily. Taking more than 1000-1250 mg of niacin at one time resulted in toxicity. Current tests on cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy suggest no more than 500-550 mg per day and have shown some benefit from side effects from being radiated in the abdomen.

The premise that LSD stays in the body is unfounded and erroneous. LSD is distributed by dealers in microscopic measure. Some studies state that it does not stay in the body longer than 5 to 8 hours with 24 hours being the maximum. Angel dust and psychiatric medicines can stay in the system from 7 to 10 days.

From the DEA website:

“LSD is absorbed easily from the gastrointestinal trace and rapidly reaches a high concentration in the blood. It is circulated throughout the body and subsequently, to the brain, LSD is metabolized in the liver and is excreted in the urine in about 24 hours.”

The irony regarding the Purif is that long time drug users and alcoholics cannot assimilate vitamins and minerals. Most users have liver damage and malnutrition. They don’t sleep well either. Any program based on vitamins and minerals would be of no immediate benefit to them. The success rate on addicts at Purif centers is abysmal. Dr. Linus Pauling who edited the 700 page definitive work on niacin in “Orthomolecular Psychiatry,” stated that niacin taken for a prolonged period of time needs to be monitored by a doctor for those with liver problems, diabetes, and other medical problems. Extreme amounts of niacin, perhaps over 1000 mg at one time can cause liver damage itself. Monitoring by doctors is not done uniformly in Scientology organizations and Narconon centers.

Perhaps the whole buzz and feeling of well being that those who are healthy enough to do the program achieve is due to feeling high from vitamin mega-doses. It cannot be from the cleansing of residual crystals in the body because they don’t exist. Running raises endorphin levels and sweating does help relieve immediate toxins. There is nothing wrong with that. Niacin increases blood circulation, but so does red wine and aspirin. Cadmium sulfuricum has been found effective in post radiation therapy and does not cause the skin to flush like niacin does.

The Purification RD does not do what Hubbard says it does because the premises are erroneous and the research was faulty. Given that drug users and alcoholics cannot metabolize vitamins well, if at all, the Purif is lost on its intended public. Most addicts would need a set-up program to get them healthy enough to do vitamin therapy along with the sauna and exercise required. There could be benefit for those with a drug history or ex-addicts who are healthy enough to do light sauna, exercise and niacin under 500 mg balanced with other vitamins. These types of programs are best done supervised by a doctor or health professionals in all cases.

The Purif as written by Hubbard and run by non-professionals in Scientology misses the mark as a drug therapy program and has been lethal and dangerous. For those who are fit enough to do the program, in reality, it produces results similar to any exercise/vitamin program. But, when mega-doses are reached it can produce a temporary feeling of elated emotions based on the psychiatric program upon which it was founded.

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