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Featured Image Credit: Doug Scott Kramer
A man who grew up in Scientology has revealed the moment he realised he had to get out - a 'mind-blowing' revelation that didn't come until he was 33 years old.
Doug Scott Kramer is an actor born and raised in California, who was around nine years old when his father introduced the family to Scientology.
Over the years, Kramer found himself being gradually indoctrinated in his own right, saying he was also a '100 percent dedicated scientologist' by the time he was around 19.
Speaking to LADbible, Kramer - whose YouTube channel, Dazed But Not Confused, details what it was like to be 'raised in a secret society' - recalled: "The whole thing is absolute madness.
"And it drives you madder and madder the longer you stay in it and the more you make it a part of your life."
It wasn't until Kramer was in his 30s that the lightbulb moment finally came, after a concerned friend dropped off a book called Combatting Cult Mind-Control on his doorstep one day.
"It happened in one afternoon - there was no slow burn about it," he said of the day everything changed in January 2008.
"It's truly mind-blowing to suddenly realise everything you believed in was false, and the dread and terror that set in was remarkable."
Realising the 'dangerous position' he was in, Kramer began to worry about how he would get his parents out, and what his 'cult' would do to him if he spoke out.
Kramer continued: "I have thought about that day a lot. Would I have woken up from Scientology eventually if my friend hadn't dropped that book off? I really don't know."
When Kramer was a child, his father had stumbled upon a newspaper ad for Dianetics, the set of ideas practised by followers of Scientology, created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
Intrigued by its promise of improving communication skills, his dad went down to the local Scientologist mission that same day, where Kramer says he was 'broken down' by interrogation before returning home a completely different man.
Kramer said: "My dad was sold the 'Communication Course' and started that day. He was also sold a package of what's called 'auditing' - their version of psychotherapy - and it was expensive enough where he didn't have the money, and ended up borrowing it from his brother.
"This need to borrow a large sum of money, and the hypnotic state my dad came back to the house that day with, created a palpable fear in my mother and myself.
"We didn't know what this strange new thing called Scientology was, or why he suddenly needed to do it or he might have to get a divorce."
Despite he and his mother feeling 'freaked out' by his father's unnerving behaviour, his mum was 'eventually coaxed down to the same Scientology mission' and went through the same process, before Kramer later followed suit.
He said: "It's a totally immersive experience that demands complete obedience to the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, the cult's founder.
"That's what happened to me, and I saw the same things happen to my mother and father and the other Scientologists I interacted with.
"It deletes empathy and emotions from you, where you end up a literal robot without a heart or a conscience. A 'sociopath-making-machine' is what I dubbed Scientology."
Explaining why he believes Scientology appeals to actors like himself - and, most famously, Tom Cruise - Kramer continued: "Scientology ensnares artists in particular because they are the perfect mouthpiece/promotional piece for the cult.
"Tom Cruise is successful and follows Scientology, it has to be good, don't you want to at least look into it before you dismiss it? That's the benefit Scientology gets.
"What do aspiring artists get out of it? 'Certainty' to all of life's answers and a way into the business. A 'support system'. And protection from the cult should the artist run into any 'trouble'."
After leaving, it took Kramer more than a decade of 'extreme emotional and life upheaval' to unpack what had happened to him and 'start life over again from the ground up'.
He believes he will be 'de-programming' for the rest of his life, and says he now has 'no relationship whatsoever' with his parents.
As for Scientologist leaders coming after him, Kramer said he thankfully hasn't experienced anything just yet - though does wonder if, as he speaks out about his experiences more, the threat of retaliation might grow.
Check out Kramer's YouTube channel Dazed But Not Confused to find out more about his experience.