Monday, 15 July 2013

The Dutch Narconon Debate

The director of Narconon in the Netherlands responded to our story about the Dutch authorities' tighter supervision of her operation, providing a unique perspective on the affair.

"Fatty residues?
Last month's story about the Dutch Health Inspectorate's decision to put Narconon in the Netherlands under enhanced supervision produced an interesting response.

The story struck a chord, generating a debate that was still going strong more than a week after the story was posted – not least because one of the key players chose to get involved.

It was not immediately clear who the poster was, but the first response from “Joclusjo” made it clear she had inside knowledge of what was going on at Narconon.

She denied any suggestion there had been insurance fraud at Narconon – not an issue that actually appeared in the article, but one that has been raised in the Dutch press.

And she denounced in fairly immoderate terms those who had filed anonymous complaints about Narconon with the Dutch Health Inspectorate (IGZ), comparing them to wartime collaborators with the Nazis. A few lines give the flavour:

The Dutch authorities respond to anonymous tips from poor pathetic creeps who would have been fantastic collaborators in another era. Go ahead you poor pathetic creeps, carry on from the woodwork you have hidden yourselves in. have fun...

Keep on hating you poor pathetic sods. Makes us more determined to carry on. You creepy little worms. Keep on going. Nazi babes. Keep on going. Lots of love from Narconon.1

It quickly became clear that this was Joanna Kluessien, who manages the Narconon operation at Zutphen in the Netherlands: the one put on warning by the Dutch health inspectors.

Kluessien agreed to ease up on the abuse and debate the issues with the critics – and kudos to her for doing so.2

It was hardly a meeting of minds, as you might expect, but for more than a week, she maintained contact and fought her corner.

Kluessien insisted that “there are many people walking around off drugs living great lives after having been in Narconon...”.3

In response to challenges to Narconon's scientific credibility however, Kluessien offered the testimony of graduates – success stories from the converted – showing a basic misunderstanding of evidence-based scientific research.

And she was still too willing to dismiss critics with ad hominen attacks that did not address the issues. (As Hubbard put it: “ALWAYS ATTACK in a press release. Never Defend or Deny.”)4

But Kluessien's approach to the exchange was not entirely negative: along the way, she provided some valuable insights into Narconon's situation in the Netherlands.

Kluessien's position

She confirmed, for example the practical effect of the supervision order. “We can only take in people who have been off drugs for 1-2 weeks now,” she wrote.5

And she insisted that it had been her decision to come off WTZi certification, which allows it to offer services covered by Dutch health insurance. It was not something the Inspectorate had forced her to do, she said – even if the letter to her that they posted on their website gives that impression.6

But in any case, she added: “We have not received one cent from the insurance companies... No insurance claims with insurance companies were made... No insurance claims with insurance companies were made. ”7

Confronted with the deaths at Narconon centres around the world Kluessien herself raised the issue of the death of a woman at their centre in 2007.

“We had one person dying here too. Because of drugs. It is a nightmare which still haunts me every day. As I know the deaths in the other Narconons haunt the staff there every day.”8

The death at her centre had not been during the detoxification programme, which she made clear had never presented any problems.

“We have been here for 30 years and never had anything serious happening during the sauna program,” she wrote.9

She was asked too, about the death of Jocelyne Dorfmann, who died in 1984 at a French Narconon centre.

This case is covered in detail elsewhere on this site, but briefly, Dorfmann arrived at the Narconon centre hoping to be able to come off the medication she was taking for her epilepsy. She died because the non-medically qualified staff mistook her epileptic fits for withdrawal symptoms.10

“Apparently she died of epileptic fits as a result of ending her medication without consulting a medical doctor,” Kluessien responded.

“Standard procedure is that people before starting the Purif have to receive a medical check from a qualified doctor.”

If the staff had followed policy, in place at least since the '90s, then Dorfmann would have not have been allowed to come off her medication, she said – and she probably would not have had permission to do the programme.

“The staff members failed to use common sense and call a doctor when she had clearly epileptic fits,” said Kluessien.11

That much is certainly true.

But the idea that Scientologists would not try to cure epilepsy is a curious one. Hubbard, after all, was convinced his system could handle the condition, as covered elsewhere on this site.12

Kluessien, in any case, was quite clear on this point.

“On epilepsy, if people have it, they should continue to take their medication and follow any other instructions given by the doctor.”13

Hard sell

Kluessien said that she had devoted 30 years of her life to Narconon.

“I heard about Narconon after I became a Scientologist. I was involved in the opening in 1981 and I was asked get involved in 1983.” She had been working there ever since, she added.

“I have been a Scientologist for 40 years,” she wrote. “I did a personality test and did a communication course, which helped massively, totally restored my relationship with my father and I decided to continue.”14

She was reluctant to discuss how far she had progressed in Scientology, but according to information from Scientology publications collected at Kristi Wachter's Truth About Scientology website, she has reached the advanced levels.

In the the early to mid-2000s Kluessien spent time on Freewinds, the Scientology-owned cruise ship reserved for those taking the Operating Thetan levels, the most advanced courses available.

At her “I am a Scientologist” webpage, Kluessien's favourite quote is from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's The Way to Happiness:

The way to happiness does not include murdering your friends, your family or yourself being murdered.15

During the exchanges with the Infinite Complacency regulars, Kluessien was asked about the hard sell of Narconon services. In response, she offered Scientology's redefinition of the term.

“The Scientology definition of hard sell is caring for the person in front of you.

“Informing the person about the program, really helping him see he should do something about his addiction and helping him find the money. Because, unfortunately, we need money to survive.”16

In Scientology terms this is perfectly true. Here is what Hubbard wrote on the subject:

Hard Sell means insistence that people buy. It means caring about the person and not being reasonable about stops or barriers but caring enough to get him through the stops or barriers to get the service that's going to rehabilitate him.17

Kluessien continued: “One person who desperately wanted to come here really had no money, then I gave some ideas and the next day the money problem was handled thanks to a donation.

“In the course you learn to get the person to want to do something about his problem and help him solve the money problem, which can be a barrier to doing the program.”18

Which course this is, is explained in a 2010 interview with Kluessien posted at the Narconon International website.

“Joanna is a staff member at Narconon in Holland and witnesses miracles every day,” says the accompanying text.

In the interview itself, Kluessien explains that she is fresh off a registrar's course on how to sell the Narconon programme. There she learned not just how to handle Dutch addicts – but how to reassure the parents of addicts, she says.

“I will tell them that with the Narconon programme that they will get their child back, the child who he was before he started taking drugs and that is what the Narconon programme does...,” she says.

“One mother even said to me, 'You know Joanna, he is not only like he was before, he is even nicer',...”

She goes on to say: “Other programmes, with all due respect they don't get the residues out of the body and they don't make the people face up to their own responsibility for things and face up to their cravings – and that is what the Narconon programme does.” 19

But this business of residues is one of the most controversial aspects of Narconon's detoxification programme and deserves a closer look.

Sloppy and unscientific”

Here is how the Narconon Europe website makes its case:

On the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program, drug residues stored in the body's fatty tissues are flushed out. This is vital as these stored residual drugs have been known to be involved in triggering drug cravings for years after someone has stopped using drugs.

This is a summary of Hubbard's theory, as set out in Clear Body, Clear Mind, the book in which he explained his Detox programme (the secular version of Scientology's Purification Rundown).

“The most likely place for a toxic substance to lock up is in the fatty tissue,” he wrote.20

Early tests of his programme had shown that all kinds of substances were retained in body fat, he continued.

The list included not only LSD, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and “angel dust,” but many other biochemical substances - medicinal and pharmaceutical drugs such as aspirin and codeine, as well as commercial and agricultural and industrial chemicals.21

His detoxification pprogramme flushed these toxins out of the system, said Hubbard.

According to the critics however, this shows a complete ignorance of the relevant science.

Dave Touretzky, at the Narconon Exposed website he developed with Chris Owen, devotes a section to demolishing the pseudo-science behind these claims. Here are just a few of the highlights.

Hubbard had claimed there was no such thing as a fat cell, wrote Touretzky.22

“In fact, there is. The body stores fat molecules in stored in 'brown cells'; where there are large numbers of such cells, that is referred to as 'fatty tissue'.”

Hubbard was right to say some toxins were stored in fatty tissue for significant periods, including some drugs, Touretzky wrote, “...but they do not remain in the body for anything like as long as Hubbard claimed.”

Touretzky provided a table listing how long different drugs stay in the body. Traces of cocaine might remain for up to four days; Ectstasy for up to four days also; LSD, up to two.

“This differs radically from Hubbard's contention that such substances can be retained in the body for years or even decades,” noted Touretzky.23

Another non-starter was Hubbard's idea that non-fat-soluble drugs and toxins can also be stored in and released from fatty tissues, Touretzky argued:

“The most glaring example is of alcohol, a water-soluble drug which is flushed out of the body in a matter of hours (as anyone who has done a bar crawl will have discovered when their bladder begins to complain)...

“This is a perfect example of Hubbard's sloppy and unscientific research... .”

Touretzky, never one to mince his words, is often quite scathing in his analysis of Hubbard's system.

A Scientologist might be inclined to dismiss Touretzky's arguments simply because he is a veteran critic of the movement. They might regard him as one of those Suppressives, those antisocial personalities Hubbard warned them about:

The antisocial personality supports only destructive groups and rages against and attacks any constructive or betterment group.

This type of personality approves only of destructive actions and fights against constructive or helpful actions or activities.24

But a number of specialists in the field of toxicology, experts with no particular interest in Scientology, also take a dim view of the science behind Hubbard's Detox/Purification Rundown.

Useless and fraudulent”

Maryland toxicologist Ronald Gots gave his view of the Rundown to the St. Petersburg Times in a 1999 article.

“I just found that it was useless," he told the Florida paper. "Useless and fraudulent, considering the claims that were made. And very expensive.”

In particular, he said, the doses of niacin taken during the programme were so high as to be “potentially toxic”.

Gots, of the International Center for Toxicology and Medicine in Rockville, Maryland, had been asked by the local authorities to assess the Purification Rundown, which firefighters were using. He was not impressed.

“I think it's scientifically fallacious to say that you can remove toxic substances from the body this way,” Gots told the Times

“Materials stored in fat are not going to be removed in the sweat. It makes no sense.”25

In 2007, California-based forensic psychologist and toxicology expert Stephen M. Pittel was equally scathing.

In comments to John DeScio of the New York Press, he dismissed the Purification Rundown as “as a total myth”.

The Press was investigating the high-profile New York Rescue Workers’ Detoxification Project, where some firefighters were singing its praises.

But Pittel told reporter DeSio that Hubbard's idea toxins could be stored indefinitely in fatty tissue was false.

Detoxification is a natural process, he said: “There's nothing that does anything to hasten the detoxification process.”26

And as the years roll by, the science does not appear to have changed.

Fourteen years on from Gots' comments to the St Petersburg Times, Professor Cor de Jong, a Dutch specialist in addiction issues, echoed his reservations about the high doses of niacin taken during the Rundown.

You would not even give out these levels of niacin in veterinary medicine de Jong told Trouw newspaper. This was not treatment, it was abuse, he said.

De Jong was interviewed by the Dutch daily after the news broke about the supervision order against Narconon.

In 2007, he said, four people had been hospitalised in the United States with liver and heart problems after having overdosed on niacin. They had been taking amounts similar to that prescribed for the Narconon programme he argued. (See the following extended footnote for more details.)27

Narconon's clients were also at risk because trained medical staff were not on hand around the clock, he said. The doctor who had agreed to be on call for the centre should have his licence withdrawn, he added.

Denouncing Narconon for preying both on vulnerable addicts and the families desperate to help them, De Jong called on the health inspectorate to close them down.

On the other hand...

Kluissien, in her comments here, was dismissive of De Jong, with whom she has clearly crossed swords before. About the nicest thing she could think to call him was “the nutty professor”.28

She was not concerned about the high doses of Niacin and any claims that there might be healths risks because she had never seen it do any harm, she wrote.

“In the 30 years I have done this work I have never seen anyone coming out of the sauna program looking anything less than with good skin, bright eyes, much more alert, spontaneous, cheeky. Really nice.

“Some people left before the sauna program was finished. But the people who completed all looked great.”29

Narconon could not afford to have a doctor on site all the time, she wrote.30 But she and the rest of the Narconon team had a very good working arrangement with their two doctors.

“A doctor can be on site and still be too late to save anyone and this is the type of story I have heard quite a few times in this country. We are very alert to any non-optimum signals and get someone to a doctor very quickly.”31

But if several specialists, over the years, have criticised the unscientific basis of Hubbard's detox programme, there are dissenters.32

Narconon has its own experts to call on.

Dr David Root, an occupational medicine specialist, wrote the introduction to recent editions of Hubbard's Clear Body, Clear Mind.

He has run Hubbard's Detox programme in several places in the United States, helping to set up the controversial New York clinic running the detoxification programme in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks – the one criticised by Pittel above.

He has also been involved in similar initiatives in Slovenia and Russia.

Root swears by Hubbard's system and at the 2009 Paris trial of Scientology testified at length as to its efficacy.33

Asked about the issue of niacin, he told the court: “Niacin causes an intense red flushing of the skin. In the general population, this flushing is felt to be a negative aspect of the use of niacin.

“But the programme uses that effect because the flushing produces sweating, which is the main mechanism by which the body eliminates toxins.”

During the trial, he was asked by the lawyer for France's Order of Pharmacists, Olivier Saumon, about contra-indications for the consumption of niacin.

Certainly they exist, he said, but in his experience it was very unusual.

It was important to understand, he said, that there were two forms in which niacin could be taken: the version they used on their programme was crystal-form rapid-acting niacin, he said.

“The other form is slow-release niacin and that is the form that has been shown to be occasionally toxic to the liver.

“There are no more than one or two cases in the world literature that show this problem in fast-acting niacin…”34
And he insisted: while the flushing and the itching sensations niacin sometimes produced might be uncomfortable, it did not of itself constitute a medical problem.

Pressed by Saumon, Root did concede that not all his professional colleagues agreed with him. (Saumon mentioned Stephen Pittel, cited above, by name.)

Infinite Complacency approached Dr. Bertil de Klyn, one of two Dutch doctors working with Narconon there, for a response to the controversy over the treatment.

“I have seen clients from Narconon for nearly 30 years,” he replied.

“I was critical about it in the beginning, but we always checked liver and kidney functions in the blood before and during the program and it proved to be safe,” he replied.

“Clients felt much better after the sauna detox. Blood pressure was also checked daily. There were no casualties by the sauna detoxification.”35

Articles of faith

Narconon has of course, been at pains to present itself as scientifically credible.

Last month, Narconon International released a 10-page booklet, The Narconon Program: 40 years of Evidence of Recovery, just chock-full of facts and figures and colourful bar charts.

Then one former Scientologist, Patty Moher, stepped forward to say that the figures from one of the studies cited had been completely fabricated.

“I made them all up. Personally,” she posted at Reaching for the Tipping Point, a message board dedicated to charting Narconon's abuses.

“I knew the numbers were awful, I knew they wanted to show great results. Being a Scio I thought oh well, greatest good and all that and so just pulled those numbers right out of my ass.

“Consider this my confession. I personally fudged all the numbers because I knew it's what they wanted. There was no study. I just made them up.”36

That does rather make you wonder about the other studies.37

For a Scientologist however, what the experts say is neither here nor there: because for a Scientologist, the scientific credibility of the Rundown, of Narconon, is an article of faith.

Scientologists are taught – they have to believe – that Hubbard was infallible. So the Rundown, the Detoxification Programme, works: end of story.

Which is why, in the end, the debate over Narconon could only go so far.

1  From her comments to the original piece, here.
2  She has been busy too, responding to reports on Dutch news websites: at Trouw, for example, which has been leading the way in coverage of the story.
3  From comments to the original piece, here.
4  From “Handling Hostile Contacts/Dead Agenting”, published May 30, 1974 as part of a series on public relations.
5  From her comments to the last piece, here. In quoting her comments for this piece, I have on occasion fixed typos and spelling mistakes for clarity.
6  I ran this by two Dutch speakers, including writer Karin Spaink, the original Dutch Suppressive Woman. Her name will be familiar to veterans of this beat: her work confronting Scientology's excesses has already earned her a place in the Suppressive Hall of Fame. (But that's a story for another day.)
Spaink and my other source Dutch Suppressive Guy, one of those who filed the complaints against Narconon (see the original story), confirmed that the health inspectorate's letter to her posted on their site gives the impression that they had instructed her withdraw from the insurance scheme. Spaink however did add: “That sounds weird. Why should a disputed institute be charged with pulling its certification itself, instead of the IGZ pulling it?” The Inspectorate itself, I should say, has so far been less than helpful with its responses to my questions.
7  From her comments, here.
8  From her comments, here.
9  From her comments, here.
10  “A Death in France”, on the death of Jocelynne Dorfmann, published on this site in April, is the first in the “Ignoring Epilepsy” series, a sub-section of the series on Narconon.
11  From her comments, here.
12  See “Hubbard on Epilepsy” elsewhere on this site. I'll be returning to this issue in a future post.
13  From her comments, here.
14  This information is from an email exchange.
15  In the Successes in Scientology part of the same webpage, she has posted a story from a Croatian addict treated at Narconon's Dutch operation who explains how he wants to set up a similar centre back home. According to the Narconon International website they do have an operation in Croatia, but it is not clear if this former graduate was involved in setting it up.
16  From her comments, here.
17  Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter Sept. 26, 1979 thanks to John Peeler for tracking that one down. See also the official Scientology definition of hard sell: 1. means insistence people buy. (HCO PL 4 Mar 65 II) 2. caring about the person, not being reasonable with stops and barriers and getting him fully paid up and taking the service (LRH ED 159R-1 INT) Modern Management Technology Defined.
This issue came up more than once during the 2009 fraud trial of Scientogy in Paris. In court, Judge Sophie-Hélène Château dismissed as “beyond fanciful” (plus que fantaisiste) attempts by the defendants to translate the English phrase “hard sell” as “taking care of people” and the eventual judgment reflected that scepticism. See “Reviewing the Judgment” elsewhere on this site.
18  From her comments, here.
19  In the interview, Kluessien also appears to reject the idea put forward by other drug treatment programmes that the way someone was brought up might be a contributory factor to their having become an addict.
“No – the kid is a drug addict because the kid decided to become a drug addict,” she tells her interviewer. “The parents never gave him the drugs.
“And that is really what the Narconon programme does: it gets the residues out of the body and makes the kid face up to life and face up to the problems that he has and communicate about the bad things he did so he won't do them again.”
20  Clear Body, Clear Mind, New Era Publications, p9 of my 2002 edition.
21  Op. cit., page 18 of my edition.
22  “Toxic substances tend to lock up mainly, but not exclusively, in the fat tissue of body. (There is no such thing as a fat cell.)” Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin, February 6, 1978. “The Purification Rundown Replaces the Sweat Program”. That first sentence appears at the start of Part One, Chapter Seven, of my edition of Clear Body, Clear Mind: – but not the following sentence, in parentheses. Does anyone have an earlier edition?
23  Here's the official account from the official Scientology website's account of the Purification Rundown:
In the 1970s, while working with cases that had previously used drugs, Mr. Hubbard’s research revealed that LSD stays in the system for years after ingestion, lodging in the fatty tissues of the body. Months or even years later, a person can re-experience a “trip” as LSD residues dislodge from the fatty tissue. (My emphasis)
Touretzky gives his source for the table on how long drugs stay in the body as Other websites give slightly different figures, but his basic point remains valid.
24  From Introduction to Scientology Ethics, p116 of my edition, but you can also find the relevant passage at this Scientology website.
25  “Store selling Scientology vitamin regimen raises concerns” by Geoff Dougherty, St. Petersburg Times, March 28, 1999. The newspaper noted that several families had filed lawsuits over the deaths of people doing the Purification Rundown. They included the parents of 25-year-old Christopher Arbuckle, of Portland Oregon, who died of liver failure. “His parents settled out of court for an undisclosed amount and agreed not to discuss the case”, the Times reported.
26  “The Rundown on Scientology's Purification Rundown”, by John DeSio, New York Press, June 6, 2007.
27  From the June 29, 2013 online edition of Trouw: “Scientologykliniek mishandelt cliënt” (Scientology Clinic mistreats Client).
De Jong's comments appear to be a reference to a 2007 paper in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, “Toxicity From the Use of Niacin to Beat Urine Drug Screening”, by medical doctors Manoj K. Mittal, Todd Florin, Jeanmarie Perrone, João H. Delgado, Kevin C. Osterhoudt. (DeScio cites the same study in his excellent New York Press investigation, cited above.)
All four patients admitted had taken high doses of niacin in the mistaken belief that it would flush out traces of drugs from their bodies so they could beat urine drug tests.
Two of the patients were adults in their early 20s: one suffered a “flushing and burning sensation”; the other an itchy rash. The other two patients had severe, “life-threatening” reactions however, the paper noted:
A 14-year-old boy was admitting after having taken 5,500 mg of time-released niacin tablets (11 x 500mg) suffering “nausea, vomiting, upper abdominal pain, palpitations, and dizziness for about 6 hours....
“He felt dizzy when getting up from bed and when trying to walk.”
And a 17-year-old girl was admitted after having taken 2,500 mg (five 500-mg tablets) of niacin.
She was admitted having suffered “nausea, vomiting, and dizziness for 2 to 3 hours and Unresponsiveness for a few minutes before emergency medical services were called.”
Putting that in context, Hubbard recommended a daily dose of 100 mg of niacin daily to begin with on the Purification Rundown. “It is then increased gradiently to as high as 5000 mg,” he added. (Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin, February 6, 1978. “The Purification Rundown Replaces the Sweat Program”)
In their discussion of the cases, the doctors noted: “Niacin is associated with gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting, headache, lightheadedness, and hypotension. In high doses, it has been reported to cause liver injury that usually resolves spontaneously once the drug is withdrawn.
“Rarely, however, niacin can cause acute liver failure, warranting liver transplant.”
28  From her comments to the last piece, “Dutch put Narconon on Warning”, here.
29  From her comments, here.
30  From her comments, here.
31  From her comments, here.
32  For more expert criticism of Narconon's detox programme, see Narconon: an Introduction, elsewhere at this site.
33  See elsewhere at this website: “A Doctor backs the Rundown”. During his testimony Dr Root was at pains to underline that he was not a Scientologist, but an elder of the Presbyterian Church.
34  I asked Kluessien if she could tell me if, like Root, they use the rapid-acting version of niacin on the Dutch Narconon programme, but she has not got back to me on this point.
35  From an email exchange with Dr. de Klyn, who runs a holistic medicine centre in the Netherlands.
I asked Kluessien to put the same question I had put to him to the other doctor they use, as I have not yet identified him, but I have not heard back.
36  You can find Moher's comments at Reaching for the Tipping Point here; see also Tony Ortega's May 27 write-up at The UnderGround Bunker: “Scientology Drug Rehab Network goes on the Offensive”. Thanks to Jens Tingleff for drawing my attention to this.
37  Even if they were true and accurate however, a glance at the booklet summarising the studies, raises further problems.
The numbers involved in these studies were sometimes so low – 10, 11, and 13 – as to raise questions about how significant the results could be; several had no control group.
For a critique of the booklet, see Luke Catton's website, Have You Told All? Catton is another disillusioned Narconon executive turned whistleblower who recently published a book about his experiences.


  1. That was a good read. It is worth spelling out what an individual narCONon programme does and does not do.

    I do seem to remember that Kluessien stated that the Dutch narCONon website specifically mentions that epilepsy sufferers should continue to take medication (i.e. in addition to stating it in comments on this blog) and that you verified that.

    It would be interesting to find out if that was always on their website or if it's a recent addition (but I'm too lazy to go figure that out myself).

  2. She didn't provide the actual link and I never made time to track it down. But the quote was worth highlighting. I'll have more on Scientology's attitude to epilepsy in a forthcoming post.

  3. Nice to see the John DeSio exposé on the Purification Rundown cited in this article (reference no. 26). A few years back the NYPress website took that epic piece offline. So I recovered a copy of it from the wayback machine, published it to my Scribd account for educational purposes and fired off a harpoon to the outlet expressing my disappoint and asking for official reprint permission. I initially got a somewhat confused response back that they weren't sure what happened regarding why that article got removed. Nearly a year later, following a few more email exchanges, they finally resurrected it under a new URL.

  4. I noticed there was a link that was no longer valid and I think I stumbled on your Scribd version when looking for another copy. Good to see it back where it belongs at the NYPress site because it is a good piece that deserves to be widely read.

  5. Hi Jonny, thanks for another excellent article. It may be useful to add a clarification regarding your comment on the insurance fraud.

    It's probably true that Joanna did not make regular insurance claims with commercial health insurers. However, there is also a collective insurance scheme which is known as Personal Budget (PGB) or by the name of the law (AWBZ or Law Special Health Costs). Although the insurance scheme is financed by government money, it is executed by the commercial health insurers. Fraud related to PGB/AWBZ is very common and of significant political concern. The insurance fraud that Narconon is being accused of, relates to this scheme as well.

    Another comment I'd like to make is that I believe Joanna when she states she voluntarily pulled out of the WTZi. This registration requires public reporting about finances and the quality control system. Narconon would have had to publish these accounts on June 1st.

    From her own comments, I get the impression that Joanna didn't have a clue about these requirements until the Health Inspectors pointed them out to her. I suppose she panicked a bit and was very relieved indeed when it turned out that she could escape this closer scrutiny by pulling out of the WTZi registration.

    If I am correct, it surely gave the Inspectorate a very dim view of the degree with which Narconon is professionally managed. When Joanna failed to actually put in the required paperwork, the Inspectorate seems to have reacted quite strongly and commanded Joanna to follow up on the agreements that were made.

    The fact that the WTZi registration is voluntary, by the way, is one of the holes in the Dutch legislative framework which is currently being plugged.

  6. Thanks for that clarification SoS: I didn't want to get to deep into the insurance issue precisely because of the complexities you have just outlined, but I am inclined to agree from what Joanna Kluessien told us -- and from what I could gather from the Dutch press reports -- that it was a case of more cock-up than conspiracy. Of course, if the health inspectorate had been as forthcoming as Narconon we might have a clearer picture.

  7. On the WWP thread, a woman emerged with the username of Chriystall7. A triggerhappy moderator moved her posts to a derail thread, so I suggested this thread to be able to have an honest debate.

    I asked her a question on WWP, so I hope she'll be giving a response here.

    The post I made on WWP is:

    Chriystall7, as far as people being free to do the program: in my view Narconon has every right to help people in need, as long as they do so within legal boundaries. Would that be something we can both agree on? My concern is that there are several areas in which Narconon is skirting these boundaries. I could be wrong (in fact, I have been proven wrong on one account) but I feel it's important that Narconon takes such concerns serious.

    Anyways, one thing I'm curious about (and I hope you'll be willing to give me an honest answer) is a reponse to the rumors that somebody died in Narconon Netherlands in 2006. As far as I am concerned this is not bad in itself - I am certain that every drug rehab has to deal with somebody dying in their centre every once in a while. But unless Narconon explains what happened if and when such incidents occur, I'm afraid people like myself will continue to assume Narconon is not safe.

    As an additional comment: Chriystall7, I suppose we may both be quite dogmatic in our opinions (I know I am), but if you read the post by Jonny and the comments here, I hope you'll see that the Narconon opponents posting here at least have the intellectual honesty to be looking for the truth.