Paul Thomas Anderson made no effort to hide his inspiration for the film “The Master.” At a press conference in Venice (via Indiewire), Anderson openly acknowledged that his character Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) was based directly on the real-life founder of Scientology. “I based it on L. Ron Hubbard,” he said, “[and much of the film] related to the early days of Dianetics.” Of course, Anderson clarified that Dodd isn’t an exact representation of Hubbard or Scientology; instead, he simply wanted to “use it as a backdrop for these characters.”
Nevertheless, you could fill a book with all the things that Hubbard and Dodd have in common. Both build a new religion around the concept of reincarnation and publish books on the subject. Dodd also practices a psychological exercise known as “processing,” in which he prods subjects like Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) to relive their most traumatic and uncomfortable memories until the memories no longer bother them. This process is uncannily similar to the procedure called “auditing” in Scientology.
Another parallel is the friction between Dodd and his children. In the movie, Dodd’s son (Jesse Plemons) openly denounces his father’s beliefs, insisting that he’s “making all this up as he goes along.” Likewise, Hubbard’s son went on to publicly criticize his father, insisting that his father didn’t care about helping his followers and was effectively guilty of “rape of the soul,” according to Penthouse (via Cult Education Institute).
If you or someone you know is dealing with spiritual abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.