Illustration by Grant Gronewold.
Scientology’s hatred of psychiatry and psychology has been well documented, but what happens when one of their members has a breakdown? Alice Wu, a young Taiwanese Scientologist living in Sydney, found out when she showed signs of mental illness and was allegedly thrown in an isolation room. According to what her family has told the media, Alice was held against her will, but when an Australian TV station reported the story in late February, the church denied all allegations and Alice herself, who now is back in Taiwan, sent the station an email saying she hadn’t been detained or mistreated.
I spoke to “John,” an ex-Scientologist involved in Alice’s saga, to find out more. (Like many former members of the church, John is worried about being harassed by Scientologists and only agreed to an interview if we withheld his real name.)
VICE: How did you first learn about Alice?
John: There’s an online message board where a lot of former Scientologists communicate. A Taiwanese national described Alice’s story, and I organized a few former Scientologists to visit her. We got someone else to contact the family in Taiwan.
Have you had any personal experience with detainment like Alice allegedly went through?
I’ve known of several attempts to treat mentally ill people in that way. I was told of one guy who spent six weeks on a farm just resting. The problem was that no one was allowed to talk to him.
[Scientology founder] L. Ron Hubbard said when people are in this state, you take them somewhere quiet and try to keep them calm until they straighten out. But if you want to make someone feel like they’re nothing, just ignore them. And that’s what would have happened to Alice.
John’s statements are his opinions and do not reflect the views of VICE Media Inc. or its affiliates.
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