Scientology Training Routines

A Critical Review by Perry Scott

[ OT TR0 | TR0 | TR1 | TR2 | TR2 1/2 | TR3 | TR4 | TR5 | TR6 | TR7 | TR8 | TR9 | Postlude ]

The Scientology Training Routines, or TRs, are done on what Scientologists call "the gradient". The claim is that information should not be presented until the student is ready to understand the information. In this way, knowledge is presented in bite-sized pieces that won't cause the student (or "Mark" as The Rev. Dennis Erlich is prone to say) to "blow", or leave the training session.

In reality, the "gradient" is designed to place increasing levels of thought conditioning into the student. At the earliest level, OT TR0, nothing is asked of the student and the gradient position is zero. New concepts, controls, and conditioning are applied in increasing levels as the student gains higher levels within the Scientology system. The end-effect of these exercises (or processes, as Scientology refers to them) is to neutralize the student's critical faculties and render them prone to suggestion as they engage in further training or auditing.

The TRs are a series of mind-numbing exercises. Dick Sutphen in THE BATTLE FOR YOUR MIND, a speech given at World Congress of Professional Hypnotists Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, discusses various mind control techniques. This paper links my personal experience with the Scientology TRs to the Sutphen document.

Hubbard said, "THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN CONTROL PEOPLE IS TO LIE TO THEM..., because the second you start telling anybody close to the truth, you start releasing him and he gets tougher and tougher to control." - Technique 88 . The fundamental lie of these TRs is that they are a "Communication Course", which is how they were presented to me when I first entered Scientology in the early 1980s. The TRs first appeared in HCOB June 11, 1957 as "processes", a Scientology term for thought conditioning (for example, Auditing is a process).

The second lie is that these TRs improve your ability to communicate. In fact, they are an introduction to Scientology dogma, which comes part and parcel with the "theory" behind the routines. The result is a continuous Scientology info-mercial. Rather than communicating with the real world, the terms are defined relative to Scientology, which only helps you communicate with other Scientologists. In other words, the TRs are indoctrination.  

OT TR0 Operating Thetan Confronting

[ Sit with eyes closed for hours, not moving or twitching, "confronting" coach. ]

As I took these TRs at the local Scientology Mission, I quickly learned that the students on course actually taught each other. It's a great way for the Co$ to collect the $250 registration fee and reduce their staff overhead. After introducing myself to another slightly confused man in his mid 30s, we sat in front of each other, eyes closed, for the required time. I could hear him breathing, creaking in his foldup chair, and the sound of the other students sequestered in their exercises.

This was my first encounter with sensory deprivation, hypnosis, and mind control. The hypnotic techniques used in OT TR0 are sensory deprivation and stress, which produces an altered state of conciousness. In the Philadelphia Doctorate Course tapes, Hubbard says that closing your eyes puts you into a light hypnotic trance. So here, L Ron lies about training you to "confront". In fact, he is putting you into a trance - a trance that is built upon with "the gradient", and which becomes the basis for auditing.

For those who doubt Hubbard's skill as a hypnotist, the L. A. Times carried this article on June 3, 1999:
"Before saying their farewells for what they acknowledged may be the last time, the old-timers reminisced about the time club member L. Ron Hubbard, later the founder of Scientology, hypnotized everyone at one meeting." 65 Years of Amazing Stories:

The sensory deprivation is audio as well as visual. While I cannot recall the audio, the TR was done in a large course room where other students are doing TRs. I heard all of the scieno-babble, which causes confusion and lowers your mind's defenses [1]. Of course, the visual was completely cut off, creating some apprehension. I was sitting with my knees almost touching his. Violating someone's personal space, as well as being violated yourself creates more stress and apprehension.

[1] Language, Jargon, and Mind Control", Richmann.  

TR 0: Confronting

[ Sit with eyes open for hours, not moving or twitching, "confronting" coach.

For the two TR 0 drills, some hours without any reaction is a pass, 2 hrs recommended. ]

FLUNK! Body Movement. Start.

FLUNK! Talking. Start.

FLUNK! Eye movement. Start.

FLUNK! Non-confront. Start.

FLUNK! Not in Present Time. Start.

These were the words of my staff coach as I began this strange exercise of "confronting" a person. FLUNK! is given at Tone 40 and causes shock and confusion. The robotic "Start" command is given to begin the exercise. The last command for each of these drills is "That's it!", words which grew sweeter as training progressed. The student is not really told the rules for this game, but rather simply gets shouted at whenever a mistake is made. This sort of stimulus-response, I learned, is the hallmark of Hubbard's view of human beings (or "raw meat", as new recruits are called) - mere machines with "Start" and "Stop" buttons.

TR0 is billed as an auditor's tool for "confronting" the preclear (pc, raw meat, uninitiated mark, etc.), but it's more than that. It is a mind-control technique that opens up the mind for programming. TR 0 induces an eyes-open alpha state, building on OT-TR0. I vividly remember one of the instructions I received while learning TR0: "don't evaluate, just accept the data." Yeah, right. In other words, suspend disbelief and get programmed.

The long hours of staring at a fixed object caused hallucinations in me. I didn't realize at the time that this was a sign of hypnosis. The sensory deprivation is incredible. You're working hard on not FLUNK!ing, and having to start over. The Scientology staff coach does a good job of FLUNK!ing you for no apparent reason (at least in your own normally socialized mind), creating all sorts of uncertainty and confusion.

Perhaps it was true - thinking about what I felt and saw was causing the trouble. My "cognition" (spoon-fed to me by the Staff) was that I should stop thinking about this situation, even though it was contrary to all my social conditioning. So, I stopped evaluating. I suspended disbelief. I turned off my mind. Of course, this played right into my hypnotists' hands.

Reports of the "thousand mile stare" common to Scientologists are a direct result of this training routine. However, the Scientologist isn't staring at you, he's staring through you. Rather than intimidating you by "confront", the Scientologist is paradoxically in a non-confront. He is aware of your presence, but he's in alpha state and has his mind turned off. Trying to talk to someone like this is like trying to teach a pig to sing - it's frustrating for you and it annoys the pig.

TR0 forms the basis for nearly everything a Scientologist does, be it reading a book, talking to someone, or solving a problem. So, you're trained to go into a trance by the friendly folks at the Org from Day 1, conditioned to accept suggestion while in alpha state as a normal way to learn, and trained to suspend disbelief by Pavlovian command. The general public are hereby advised to steer clear of this exercise.  

TR 0: Bullbait

[ Sit with eyes open for hours, not moving laughing or twitching, "confronting" coach while s/he tries in every way to make you react. ]

Bullbait (TR0 with counter intention from the Pre-Clear) is the next step on the gradient. Here, the suggestive mind (in TR0) accepts contrary data and is not allowed to protest or even acknowledge what is happening. At this point on the Gradient, turning off your mind is mandatory. You will not progress past TR0 Bullbait by thinking about what your tormentor is saying or doing. You must sit passively, wondering what new attack will be used to make you FLUNK!.

I remember this exercising as being both degrading and crude. The job of the "coach" is to find your "buttons" - those phrases and movements which will cause you to react. The pattern suggested by the Staff coach centered on sexual perversion for the men and body part criticism for the women. Some of the gender-neutral abuse centered on Suppressive Person mockups, attempting to dredge up memories of past wrongs to gain a reaction. In fairness, it was not all abusive - sometimes a good joke ("mental pictures") could produce a FLUNK!.

Integral with this exercise is a Dianetics info-mercial about your "Case" and "Reactive Mind". It was your Reactive Mind that was the problem, the reason you had all these "buttons". Hubbard, under the guise of helping you communicate better, slips in a demonstration that you are seriously screwed up, and need auditing. Auditing is the real money-maker for Scientology.

To save staff expense (Hubbard: Make Money, Make More Money, Get Others to Make Money), you eventually become a coach in this exercise. Since I couldn't remember any good jokes, I eventually became abusive to produce a FLUNK!. To this day, I am ashamed of the things I said to one young woman.

Hubbard's objective for TR0-Bullbait is not about being able to confront through your "Case". It is about unquestioning acceptance of information. "Turn on your TR0-Bullbait, get your case under control, and let's talk about how Scientology is going to help you", is what Scientology is saying. "Don't think too hard about how strange this all sounds, because it's just your case talking. If you have any problems confronting Scientology, it's because of your case and proves your need for Scientology technology." It's classic circular reasoning.

Again, the general public is advised to steer clear of this exercise.  

TR 1: Dear Alice

[ Student reads dialogue from Alice in Wonderland at coach until they get the comm <gag> across without embarrassment. ]

I thought Bullbait was weird. I had no idea what was in store for me. In this routine, context-free snippets from Alice, printed on a sheet of paper, are read by the student to the coach. Hubbard's sense of humor shows through on this one. It's even worse if the coach gets the giggles. The humor is a relief after the stress of TR0 conditioning. However, humor won't advance you on The Bridge. Some of Lewis Carroll's stuff is either terribly imaginative or drug-induced, depending on your opinion of him. (Some think the caterpillar is Carroll's self-portrait, but I digress.)

To pass this exercise without getting a permanent case of the giggles requires you to become virtually humorless. The concept of mental image pictures was introduced in TR0. Here, canned script from a master storyteller conjurs up some fantastic and nonsensical images, which the student must refuse to process or fail the exercise. The result is robotic repetition of nonsense phrases, which some have come to recognize as a hallmark of what passes for conversation in Scientology.

Rather than conditioning you for the real world where nonsense is met with questions for clarification, Ron is conditioning the mark to confront "Scieno-speak." Ron's writing style and propensity to make up words because he couldn't think of the real ones could give a newcomer the giggles if it were not for this exercise. Some of Ron's prose, especially the Operating Thetan levels, is highly imaginative just like Carroll's.  

TR 2: Acknowledgments

[ Coach reads dialogue at the student and he must acknowledge (stop) what the coach said using one of the following "acks": okay, good, thank you, alright, or fine. ]

This is the twin sister of TR 1. In this installment of Hubbard's "Make Money Fast" series, the TR2 student acts as coach to someone being processed on TR1. The student makes positive acknowledgements "in a new unit of time" , that is, as if the statement and acknowledgement were being done for the first time. The Staff coach simply watches the acknowledgements of the students to see if they are believable.

While this training has the ostensibly positive benefit of teaching the student to complete "communication cycles", the repetitive nature of the acknowledgements can be hypnotic. The TR 0 alpha state can kick in, inducing acknowledgement to statements you didn't understand. The point of this training is to get the student to agree to any statement (hypnotic suggestion) while in alpha state. This training may help you survive the day with your precocious three-year-old's fantasies, but it can be counterproductive when listening to a used car salesman.

Acknowledging nonsense is not required in the real world. Ron's real purpose in this TR is to get the mark used to the idea of accepting off-the-wall statements as fact. As the mark proceeds up The Bridge, increasingly dissonant ideas are introduced, culminating in Hubbard's full-blown cosmology in the Operating Thetan levels.  

TR 2 1/2: Half-Acks

[ The coach reads a line from Alice in Wonderland and the student must respond with a half-acknowledgment, such as ``Mmmm hmmm'' or ``Uh huh''. ]

This is supposed to be a technique for getting the pc to continue talking, by giving him the feeling that he is being heard. In contrast, Hubbard emphasized that a full acknowledgment ends communication on a topic. If done powerfully enough (really good TR 2), it ends communication altogether: Hubbard says in HCOB 16 August 1971R II (Training Drills Remodernized) that an auditor ``can take a pc's head off with an acknowledgment.'' Comments like this, which are spread throughout Hubbard's writings, reinforce the idea that auditing subjects are machines to be manipulated rather than autonomous persons with rights of their own. In Professional Auditor's Bulletin 149 he says "If you acknowledge a preclear well, you will have the preclear under much better control."

The bit about taking a pc's head off, though not meant to be taken literally, adds to the mystique of Scientology training by claiming supernatural effects if the techniques are practiced expertly. The inevitable failure to obtain such a high degree of control over people serves only as evidence that the student requires further training.  

TR 3: Duplicative Question

[ Student asks coach repetitively, "Do birds fly?" or "Do fish swim?" Coach tries not to answer. Student repeats the question using this repeater phrase, verbatim: "I will repeat the auditing question." Continued until the student knows he will be asked questions until he answers them. Coach tries to physically leave the "session" and the student must restrain the coach and place him or her back in the chair, and repeat the same question until answered. Drill is passed when student can always get his questions answered. ]

I will repeat the auditing question. What a strange phrase to have in a "Communications Course". Auditing is Scientology's main money-making activity. It is highly sought-after "counselling" which is integral with making it up The Bridge. Auditing up to this point has been hyped as the Road to Nirvana, and now the student is introduced to a prepatory drill for auditing or being audited, namely that the question must be answered to the satisfaction of auditor, not the preclear. Contrary to many Scientologists' opinion, the preclear is not in control of the auditing session. While a treatment of the auditing process is beyond the scope of this discussion, questions in session are asked until an acceptable response is given. "Cognitions" are spoon-fed to the preclear. Their purpose reinforces Scientology dogma and typically point to the need for more auditing.

It must be mentioned again that the student eventually becomes a coach in these TRs. In this way, the student learns that they must answer the question, that they will be repeatedly asked until the correct answer is given, and that they will be forcibly restrained if they attempt to leave the session.  

TR 4: Preclear Originations

[ Same as TR 3 but coach mixes the comments with important "case" information like, "My foot suddenly started hurting." and "I'm getting upset, let's stop." Student has to get the coach to continue using stuff like "Oh that's pretty normal, lets just continue and see what happens. I'll repeat the auditing question. *Do* birds fly?" ]

This next stop on the Road to Total Freedom (or is it the "Slippery Slope to Total Slavery"?) adds another auditing concept - case information. A "case" is the emotional baggage that comes along with the preclear to an auditing session. Scientology teaches that our Reactive Mind, which can be thought of as the Devil, must be pushed aside in order to achieve Clear (salvation).

As the coach (remember, the student becomes the coach), the student learns that they may feel strange things during an auditing session, thereby increasing its allure. Rather than being viewed as warning signs that they are being controlled in session, the preclear is conditioned that if these strange feelings are "handled", big case gains can occur. The point of the auditor's complete control of the session is reinforced. Any diversions by the Preclear will be summarily "handled", but the question will be answered to the satisfaction of the auditor.

TR 4 is nothing more than an exercise in overriding someone's better judgement. The normal apprehensive feelings about being asked certain questions should be swept aside because they are part of your Reactive Mind. If you want to go up The Bridge, you need to handle those distracting feelings of apprehension.  

Upper Indoctrination TRs.

TR 5: Hand Mimicry [obsolete since ~1965]

[ Auditor and student are seated closely enough for auditor's knees to be locked outside the hypnotic subject's. The auditing command is: "PUT YOUR HANDS AGAINST MINE, FOLLOW THEM AND CONTRIBUTE TO THEIR MOTION." ]

TR5 was first used as a CCH process. (CCH = Control, Communication and Havingness. Another of Hubbard's famous triangles.) At that time (I believe it was early 1957 they first issued forth from the Hubbard Communications Office) the TRs were used as Processes. It was called "Hand Mimicry". If you had Objective Processing you remember: "PUT YOUR HANDS AGAINST MINE, FOLLOW THEM AND CONTRIBUTE TO THEIR MOTION."

Auditor and victim seated closely enough for auditor's knees to be locked outside the hypnotic subject's.

Later that year, Hubbard changed TR5 to an obscure process that is rarely used any more. Only if the subject will not cooperate with the processing. "SEAT THAT BODY IN THAT CHAIR!".

It was common for Hubbard to point out the obvious. In order to process a person you must get them to sit still for it, he'd write over and over.

In 1958 he got reissued TR5 with a bit of fine tuning: "YOU MAKE THAT BODY SIT IN THAT CHAIR!" was the new command.

True fact!  

TR 6: 8-C (Body Control)

Part One:

[ Student walks coach around like a robot, in constant physical contact. The student physically makes the coach's body start, change direction and stop with the student forcibly controlling the coach's body into doing those things. ]

As coach, you are instructed to offer some resistance, just to be sure the student is controlling you properly. This exercise is the first gradient step toward giving control of your body to someone else. In Part Two, you are shouted at until you comply with the instructions given.

This is another strange exercise for a "Communications Course". The bait given to the mark is that all processes have these three steps: Start, Change, Stop. Ultimately, this exercise is about Control and Being Controlled. Note that the student eventually becomes a coach. One suggestion I received was to coach with eyes closed, ostensibly to fine-tune the student's control. This effectively removes all control from the coach.

Hubbard knew that the mark's internal controls ("Case", "Reactive Mind") may cause him to "blow" the auditing session. This training is meant to intimidate the mark into bodily compliance, an extension to "Seat that body in that chair!". Physical force, if necessary, will be used to keep you on course and in session.

Part Two:

[ Student controls coach by and while giving the commands:
"TURN AROUND!"             "THANK YOU!"
No physical contact.

In this installment of the Gradient, you are introduced to verbal command. After sufficient repetition, the commands on the coach become almost robotic. Keeping good TR0 and being in Present Time (i.e. not thinking about past or future) keeps you somewhat tranced and response becomes almost automatic.

If physical force is used in an auditing session, the mark could realize he is actually being controlled against his will, and blow the session and Scientology as well. Therefore, it is necessary to condition the mark to respond to firm (but not overbearing) verbal command like a good little robot.   

TR 7: High School Indoc.

"TURN AROUND!"             "THANK YOU!"
[ These exact commands and acknowledgements are given to the coach with Tone 40 Intention (intention without reservation or limit). The coach's body is then forced, by being physically restrained and dragged if necessary, to comply with the command. Coach does not do more than physically thwart the student from forcing him to comply. But not too hard.

This training routine gets the student accustomed to the idea of controlling and restraining others, and thereby accustomed to being controlled . In real-world terms, Tone 40 involves talking in a forceful enough voice so that the target knows you mean business. It works well on three year olds, though in most adult interactions where common goals motivate cooperation or compliance, Tone 40 invokes resentment. This Training Routine is not about communication in the real world. It is about the way communication works in Scientology.

Here, Hubbard's message is clear: non-compliance with Scientology's commands, especially during auditing, will be met with escalating levels of force - non-verbal, verbal, shouting, and physical. When you sign up for services, you give away your right to resist, since it's just your "case" talking. Your case is something to be "handled", and it can be handled up to the point of physical intervention.  

TR 8: Tone 40 on objects

[ Trying to make the ashtray STAND UP. Student gives Tone 40 command "STAND UP!". Tone 40 acknowledges with "THANK YOU!". "SIT DOWN!". "THANK YOU!."

Repeat until cognition (about an hour). ]

By this point, I was so deluded by the concept of Tone 40 that the fact that I was LIFTING IT WITH MY HANDS was irrelevant. I gave the command, the ashtray stood up. After doing this for half an hour, I felt like God, lifting the ashtray by sheer intention. My Thetan's (Scieno-babble for "spirit") Intention was using my arms and hands, though that was only for convenience, since with sufficient intent they were not necessary. I was allowed to stop when I cog'ed (Scieno-babble for "cognition") on this. TR8 is heavy-duty Scientology processing, or thought conditioning.

In retrospect, TR0-bullbait is a mandatory prerequisite for TR8. Without it, uncontrolled Tone-40 laughter would be the result. Having experienced the delusion makes it easier to understand what happens at the higher levels. Repetitive exercise numbs the mind to the point that even simple actions become nearly supernatural.

OK, Hubbard, explain to me how shouting at an ashtray helps me communicate with the real world.  

TR 9: Tone 40 with Bullbait

[ TR7 with verbal bullbait by coach. Student uses physical enforcement to assure compliance. The auditor is trained for situations in which a PC wants to blow the auditing session. ]

At this point, the student is nearly done with the course and is being body-routed to the Registrar for the next service. High emphasis is placed on auditing, which is a major revenue producer. The mystique of auditing, as well as the preconditioning given in these training routines, makes the lure hard to resist.

This last TR has nothing to do with communication and everything to do with Auditor Training. Here, the student (Auditor) issues Tone 40 commands to the coach (preclear) while the coach offers verbal as well as physical counter-intent. (As an amusing aside, this TR can be quite rough when two hormone-driven young males play the game. This TR was done in a large room devoid of sharp corners on a carpet with a thick pad.) The student (as coach) learns that counter-intent during session will be thwarted. You are not allowed to leave a session without severe consequences. The Dennis writes: "The Auditor must NEVER allow the mark to control the session. NOT EVER! It violates the Auditors' Code. True story."

Of course, if the thought conditioning is complete, it never occurs to the preclear that they can simply leave the session, or even Scientology. Hubbard's lie is just that: Scientology gives you more abilities, and leaving Scientology means being permanently shackled to your Case.  


While not part of the Training Routines, it bears mentioning that after you complete a Scientology course, you are required to write up your "Big Win". The mark stands up in front of his group and recites what he learned, why it's useful, and how it can be applied. For most normal people, speaking to a group of near-strangers produces anxiety. Being forced to manufacture a list of "Wins" creates cognitive dissonance. By saying it in public, you are forced to carry through regardless of what you may have thought before.

After this stressful experience, the mark is "love bombed" by the group. Everyone robotically affirms your win as a sign of acceptance into the group. You breathe a sigh of relief. These are indeed your friends.

The trap is sprung, the door closes. You are a Scientologist. Congratulations on your BIG WIN.


The description of TR 5 comes (with a few minor edits for sylistic consistency) from a post to alt.religion.scientology by Dennis Erlich, a former Scientology "minister" who held the position of Cramming Officer, similar to a Quality Assurance Manager, at Scientology's premier training facility, Flag. Information about Dennis' legal battles with the Church of Scientology is available at Ron Newman's web site.