Medical claims in Scientology doctrine

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In Church of Scientology doctrine, there have been a number of controversial medical claims made, usually centered on their auditing process. These claims began with the 1950 publication of founder L. Ron Hubbard's book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (DMSMH). Chapter 5 of DMSMH, Psychosomatic Illness, asserted "The problem of psychosomatic illness is entirely embraced by Dianetics, and by Dianetic technique such illness has been eradicated entirely in every case. About 70 percent of the physician's current roster of diseases fall in the category of psychosomatic illness." Hubbard added, "That all illnesses are psychosomatic is, of course, absurd, for there exist, after all, life forms called germs which have survival as their goals." [emphasis in the original.] Later in the chapter Hubbard asserted, "Bizarre aches and pains in various portions of the body are generally psychosomatic. Migraine headaches are psychosomatic and, with the others, are uniformly cured by Dianetic therapy. (And the word cured is used in its fullest sense." [emphasis in the original.] Such claims have often brought the Church to the attention of law enforcement and regulatory agencies.

Scientology and mainstream medicine[edit]

In public statements, especially to newcomers, the Church claims that it has no problem with Scientologists taking drugs prescribed by a physician. The official Church website says it is okay to take antibiotics or other medical drugs prescribed by a medical doctor. "Any other drug use, such as the use of street drugs or psychiatric mind-altering drugs, is forbidden." [1] Exactly what the Church considers to be "psychiatric" or "mind-altering" drugs may be quite different from what the mainstream considers to be in this category; aspirin, for example, is claimed to "inhibit the ability of the thetan to create mental image pictures" and render the thetan as a result "stupid, blank, forgetful, delusive and irresponsible. He gets into a 'wooden' sort of state, unfeeling, insensitive, unable and definitely not trustworthy, a menace to his fellows actually" (emphasis in original).[1] Students are not permitted "on course" (to undergo Scientology training or receive Scientology services) if they have taken aspirin within the past 24 hours.

However, the Church has a long history of opposition to drugs and medical treatments of any kind but their own. In their Narconon materials, they explicitly state that all drugs are poisonous and remain in the body "permanently" (or rather in the fatty tissue, see Purification Rundown). Several former members of Scientology have reported being ordered to stop taking their prescription medications, and being warned that they would suffer negative consequences if they continued to do so.[2][3][4]

In 1965, Hubbard wrote that Scientologists taking courses were barred from visiting a doctor without express permission from the Church, except in cases of severe emergency. (HCOPL 26 July 1965, "Release Declaration Restrictions, Healing Amendments").

Official Scientology websites respond to the question of "Do Scientologists use medical doctors?" with the claim that "The Church of Scientology has always had the firm policy of not diagnosing or treating the sick" (emphasis added) and "A Scientologist with a physical condition is always advised to seek and obtain the needed examination and treatment of a qualified medical professional ... There are also many medical doctors who are Scientologists themselves."[2] However, the Church of Scientology even today still publishes claims by Hubbard that the reactive mind "is the only thing in the human being which can produce ... arthritis, bursitis, asthma, allergies, sinusitis, coronary trouble, high blood pressure, and so on, down the whole catalog of psychosomatic ills." (emphasis added)[5]

Mental health[edit]

Hubbard claimed the cause of mental illness is always an undiagnosed or untreated distressing physical illness,

"The CORRECT ACTION ON AN INSANE PATIENT IS A FULL SEARCHING CLINICAL EXAMINATION BY A COMPETENT MEDICAL DOCTOR. He may find disease, fractures, concussion, tumors or ANY COMMON ILLNESS which has escaped treatment and has become chronic. He should keep looking until he finds it. For it is there." (Caps in original)

and recommended building up the person's stamina with rest, security, nutrition and drugs (if necessary) before addressing the physical illness with standard medical treatment. Once the physical illness is resolved and the person's distress is relieved, he then recommended auditing.[6]

The FDA lawsuit[edit]

In 1963 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted a surprise raid on the Church in Washington, DC and confiscated all E-meters on the premises. The FDA filed suit against the Church of Scientology for fraudulent medical claims and called the E-meter a fraudulent healing device. After almost a decade of court battles, the Church finally settled with the FDA. The court ruled that the Church was to abide by certain conditions:

"The device should bear a prominent, clearly visible notice warning that any person using it for auditing or counseling of any kind is forbidden by law to represent that there is any medical or scientific basis for believing or asserting that the device is useful in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of any disease. It should be noted in the warning that the device has been condemned by a United States District court for misrepresentation and misbranding under the Food and Drug laws, that use is permitted only as part of religious activity, and that the E-meter is not medically or scientifically capable of improving the health or bodily functions of anyone.......each user, purchaser, and distributee of the E-meter shall sign a written statement that he has read such a warning and understands its contents and such statements shall be preserved" (United States of America, Libelant, v. An Article or Device... "Hubbard Electrometer" or "Hubbard E-Meter" etc., Founding Church of Scientology et al., Claimants, No. D.C. 1-63, United States District Court, District of Columbia, July 30, 1971 (333 F. Supp. 357).

In response The Church of Scientology now includes such a disclaimer on each e-meter.[7]

Medical claims[edit]

A History of Man[edit]

In the foreword to Hubbard's book A History of Man (in which a pseudoscientific timeline of Human Evolution is laid out), Hubbard promises miraculous cures:

"This is useful knowledge. With it the blind again see, the lame walk, the ill recover, the insane become sane and the sane become saner. By its use the thousand abilities Man has sought to recover become his once more." [3]

Elsewhere in the book, numerous medical cures are claimed:

  • "Today, Eleanor has arthritis. She is audited... tonight she doesn't have arthritis" (pg.7)
  • "Paralysis, anxiety stomachs, arthritis and many ills and aberrations have been relieved by auditing them." (pg.14)
  • "Cancer has been eradicated by auditing out conception and mitosis." (pg.20)

Dianetics[edit]

Originally published in 1950, this book (full title: Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health) has undergone many slight changes and alterations over the years, so one edition may vary from another. Among its claims:

  • "arthritis vanishes, myopia gets better, heart illness decreases, asthma disappears, stomachs function properly and the whole catalogue of illnesses goes away and stays away." (pg.72, 1987 edition)
  • "All our facts are functional and these facts are scientific facts, supported wholly and completely by laboratory evidence." (pg.96, 1987 edition)
  • "Clears do not get colds." (pg.121, 1992 edition)

Dianetics Today[edit]

In the 1975 edition of Hubbard's Dianetics Today, it is claimed:

  • "A broken limb will heal (by X-ray evidence) in two instead of six weeks." (pg.110)
  • "I've seen a goiter the size of a baseball visibly shrink and disappear in the space of one-half hour right after an engram was run." (pg. 280)
  • "A girl crippled by polio was able to throw away her crutches after my first session." (pg.353)
  • "ONLY processing by Dianetics and Scientology can handle the effects of drugs fully." (pg.481)

All About Radiation[edit]

Hubbard's 1957 book All About Radiation introduced a vitamin supplement called "Dianazene." Hubbard promoted it as a form of protection against radiation poisoning during the 1950s, saying that "Dianazene runs out radiation - or what appears to be radiation. It also proofs a person against radiation in some degree. It also turns on and runs out incipient cancer."[8]

Scientology 8-8008[edit]

In Hubbard's book Scientology 8-8008, which is heavy on Scientology Space Opera concepts and serves as an introduction to the Operating Thetan levels to novice Scientologists, it is repeated throughout as a fundamental tenet that achieving full Operating Thetan status results in the ability to completely control matter, energy, space and time (MEST). He also speaks of something called "Facsimile One":

"Facsimile One: the first proven-up, whole-track incident which, when audited out of a long series of people, was found to eradicate such things as asthma, sinus trouble, chronic chills and a host of other ills. It was originally laid down in this galaxy about one million years ago." (pg. 172, 1990 edition)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Painkillers; Drugs and their Effect on the Mind". Church of Scientology International. Retrieved 2006-05-20. 
  2. ^ Nanette Asimov. Scientology link to public schools, San Francisco Chronicle, June 9, 2004.
  3. ^ Staff. "Scientology in spotlight", San Antonio Express-News, July 10, 2005.
  4. ^ Daniel J. DeNoon. (WebMD) Psychiatrists Defend Psychiatric Drug Use, June 29, 2005, Fox News.
  5. ^ Hubbard, L. Ron. "What is the Reactive Mind?". Retrieved May 15, 2006.
  6. ^ Hubbard LR (1969) Physically ill PCs and Pre-OTs, HCO Bulletin 12 March 1969 issue II
  7. ^ Robert T. Carroll. "e-meter (electro-psychometer)". The Skeptic's Dictionary. 
  8. ^ Hubbard, L. Ron. All About Radiation. ISBN 978-0-88404-062-0. 

External links[edit]