by Jeff Wasel Ph.D
Financial Crimes expert,
Scientology critic at large:
“A Mother’s Heartbreak” is a raw, honest look at one woman’s struggle over the fate of her children, against a supposed church that operates more like a cartel than a religion. A “public” Scientologist for a good portion of her adult life, Lori Hodgson was forced to make choices that no mother should face: that of choosing the fate of her kids over her beliefs, as well as between her own health and well-being versus the whims and controlling behavior of a multi-million dollar litigation machine. “A Mother’s Heartbreak” is essentially a story about control: about the loss of control over one’s family, over one’s faith and subsequent sense of self, and the myriad difficulties in breaking free of a pernicious form of cult-like institutional and psychological control, in order to re-establish one’s fundamental rights of freedom of choice, freedom of association, and freedom from abusive religious practices.
At the heart of Lori’s story of love and loss is Scientology’s insidious practice of “disconnection,” wherein the church forces followers to separate themselves from individuals or entire families, that Scientology perceives may be a “threat” to the spiritual health of a follower. More often than not, the follower has no choice in the matter, has been lied to as to the circumstances of the “threat,” nor is old enough to even know better, which is what makes the circumstances in “A Mother’s Heartbreak” all the more tragic. Stories abound of the abusive practices of Scientology, mostly from those who have served in the church’s monastic “Sea Organization” or on staff in the church’s many “orgs.” Lori’s is one of the first narratives that empirically reveals that the psychological, and at times physical abuse and devastation from disconnection, extends to “public” members of Scientology as well. Lori’s story is vitally important in understanding the personal costs of Scientology’s abusive, and potentially criminal conduct. Her book needs to be read by not only families who may be experiencing the very real pain of disconnection, but also by the public at large, as well as by sociologists, religious scholars and law enforcement, so that collectively, we understand why society needs to take a stand against these and other abusive, cult-like religious practices.