Citizens Commission on Human Rights
|Type||Mental health advocacy group|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR) is a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to "eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections." It has been described by critics as a Scientology front group that campaigns against psychiatry and psychiatrists. It was established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, and is headquartered in Los Angeles, California.
The organization holds that mental illness is not a medical disease and that the use of psychiatric medication is a destructive and fraudulent practice. The organization links psychiatry or psychiatrists to school shootings, eugenics, and terrorism.
- 1 Views of psychiatry
- 2 Efforts for psychiatric reform
- 3 Relationship with Scientology
- 4 Controversy
- 5 Reception
- 6 Productions
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Views of psychiatry
CCHR's views on psychiatry are a reflection of Thomas Szasz's criticisms of psychiatry. CCHR advocates that there is no biological evidence to support psychiatric theories of mental disorders.
Efforts for psychiatric reform
The CCHR achieved an early victory in a 1969 Pennsylvania case involving Victor Győry, a Hungarian refugee who had been committed to a psychiatric hospital against his will in April of that year. The police officers committing Győry said he had tried to kill himself. Doctors at Haverford State Hospital, failing to realise that Győry spoke very little English and was trying to address them in Hungarian, judged him "incoherent" and diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. The hospital refused Győry's request for legal representation, and administered drugs and electroshock treatment to him against his will over a three-month period. An aide at the hospital eventually notified the CCHR, who, under an initiative led by Szasz and lawyer John Joseph Matonis, took the case to court and secured Győry's release.
The CCHR continued to lobby for legislative reform on mental health issues such as the keeping of detailed computer records on involuntarily committed patients and their families, and "drug experimentation" without patients' consent. The CCHR would typically request a tour of a psychiatric hospital, issue a public report based on patient testimony and other sources, and then push for legal investigations and reform. Its early focus was on involuntary commitment procedures.
Since then, the group has organized media campaigns against various psychiatrists, psychiatric organizations and pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Prozac. One campaign is said to have caused a major fall in sales of Prozac, causing considerable commercial damage to the company.
The group campaigned against the use of Ritalin for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a disorder which the organization dismisses as nonexistent. The campaign was part of the Ritalin class action lawsuits against Novartis (the manufacturer of Ritalin), CHADD, and the American Psychiatric Association (APA); all five lawsuits were dismissed in 2002.
In 2003, the CCHR presented a report with the title "The Silent Death of America's Children" to the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, with case histories of several dozen under-aged psychiatric patients who had died as a result of psychotropic drug treatment and restraint measures in the 1990s and early 2000s.
In 2004, the CCHR sponsored a bill requiring doctors to provide patients with information about a medication's side effects before prescribing any psychotropic drugs, while also mandating a legal guardian's signature. Opponents of the bill argued that these additional procedures might discriminate against mentally-ill patients while delaying treatment. The bill attracted widespread disagreement from the medical establishment, including the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, who opposed it on the grounds that it compromised informed consent. The Massachusetts Psychiatric Society also opposed the bill, believing that it would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.
On 5 October 2006, National Mental Health Screening Day, the CCHR picketed outside of Riverside Community Care in Wakefield, Massachusetts, holding a protest rally against mental health screening. According to journalist Gary Band in the Wakefield Observer, "The protest fell somewhat flat because Riverside has not conducted these screenings since 2001."
"Psychiatry: An Industry of Death" museum
In December 2005, CCHR opened the "Psychiatry: An Industry of Death" Museum on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. The museum has displays alleging psychiatry's long-standing "master plan" for world domination, Adolf Hitler's central role in the plan, and in the words of reporter Andrew Gumbel, "a display holding psychiatry to blame for the deaths of Ernest Hemingway, Del Shannon, Billie Holiday, and Kurt Cobain..."
Chelmsford Hospital and DST
From 1988 to 1990 the Australian government held the Chelmsford royal commission inquiry into Deep Sleep Therapy (DST). For a decade prior, the CCHR had been pushing for an investigation of the Chelmsford Private Hospital in New South Wales, and its head, Dr. Harry Bailey, who had been practising DST from 1963 to 1979. Honorable Justice John (J. P.) Slattery, Royal Commissioner, is quoted as stating that the CCHR "contributed considerably to advance the cause of the Chelmsford patients in their campaign for an open inquiry into the hospital." The inquiry discovered that deep sleep therapy had killed 24 patients, not counting patients who had killed themselves, and close to a thousand had suffered brain damage. Of the former patients, 152 received reparations from a fund totaling in excess of 5 million dollars.
Chelmsford Hospital was forced to close in 1990, and two of its psychiatric staff were brought on charges in 1992. Dr. Bailey himself stepped down in 1979 due to the CCHR's protest campaign, and committed suicide by drug overdose in 1985, the night before he was subpoenaed to appear in court. His suicide note read, in part: "Let it be known that the Scientologists and the forces of madness have won."
Relationship with Scientology
The organization is sponsored by the Church of Scientology, In 1993, the US Internal Revenue Service granted CCHR tax exemption as part of an agreement with the Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center (RTC) under which the RTC took responsibility for CCHR's tax liabilities.
CCHR's relationship with the Church of Scientology is mediated through the church's Office of Special Affairs (OSA). Critics of Scientology have charged that CCHR is merely a front group for the church.
In 1988, the CCHR claimed that Professor Sir Martin Roth of Newcastle University had used LSD in tests on mental patients in the 1960s. The statements were publicised in the Newcastle Times newspaper, which was ordered by an English court to pay "very substantial" libel damages to Roth after the court found that CCHR's claims were "highly defamatory" and "utterly false."
The group has implied that the September 11 attacks were influenced by psychiatrists. Hubbard, who headed the Church of Scientology, claimed psychiatrists caused decline in the universe eons ago.
Jan Eastgate, President of the CCHR and winner of the Church of Scientology Freedom Medal for her work on human rights, has been implicated in covering up the sexual abuse of an 11-year-old girl in the Australian branch of the church. Eastgate was head of the Australian CCHR at the time and the girl was abused by her Scientologist stepfather between the ages of 8 and 11 years. Eastgate, who denied the allegations, labelling them "egregiously false", was arrested on 30 March 2011 on charges of perverting the course of justice but later released on conditional bail.
9/11 conspiracy theory
In the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, CCHR promulgated a conspiracy theory assigning responsibility for the attacks to Ayman al-Zawahiri, alleging that as Osama bin Laden's personal psychiatrist, he was the principal mastermind behind the attacks and had brainwashed bin Laden using pain, drugs and hypnosis.
Retired neurologist Dr. Fred Baughman has served as a medical expert for the CCHR. Although psychiatrist Peter Breggin worked with CCHR from 1972, he later dissociated himself from the organization in 1974 as a result of his disagreements with actions taken by the Church of Scientology.
Marie L. Thompson, writing in the 2006 book Mental Illness, commented that the CCHR has been a "highly effective activist organisation", which by 2005 was represented by 133 chapters in 34 countries.
CCHR have produced a number of documentaries promoting their view of modern psychiatry. These include Making A Killing, Prescription for Violence, The Marketing of Madness, Dead Wrong and Psychiatry: An Industry of Death which was made to accompany the CCHR's museum of the same name.
The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane?
One of the interviewees is Claudia Keyworth, an advocate of 'Bio-Energetic medicine' who believes that healing is best accomplished using the "energy field of the human body". On the topic of mental illness, she asserts: "they say you have a chemical imbalance of serotonin and dopamine, but there's never been a study to prove that, ever."
However, a substantial volume of research does support the prevailing view among experts, which is that chemical imbalances do in fact play a role in various mental disorders (see also Biology of depression, and Causes of mental disorders).
The documentary claims that psychiatrists have convinced the public that normal negative human experiences are mental illnesses.
An example used in the movie is the assertion that psychiatrists seek to label typical shyness as a "social anxiety disorder".
However, patients are diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder only at debilitating levels, where there is an "intense fear in social situations". Unlike a shy individual, a person diagnosed with social anxiety disorder is likely to suffer from symptoms such as nausea, stammering, and panic attacks.
- "About CCHR". CCHR International. Citizens Commission on Human Rights International. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
- "Industry of Death exhibition on psychiatry walks a fine line". Canada.com. 8 August 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2012. "“A major purpose of Scientology is to destroy psychiatry and replace it with its own pseudo-counselling techniques. And CCHR is one of Scientology’s front-group weapons attempting to achieve that goal,” says Stephen Kent, a University of Alberta sociologist specializing in new religions and cults. Scientology holds that psychiatrists are “cosmic demons,” he says."
- Kirsten Stewart (2 July 2005). "Scientology's political presence on the rise". The Salt Lake Tribune. "The church [of Scientology] kept a low profile, paying professional lobbyists to press its cause or relying on CCHR, which skeptics call a front group designed to recruit Scientologists and replace psychiatry with Dianetics."
- "[ Fence Post ]". Chicago Daily Herald (Letters to the Editor). 4 January 2001. "Dangerous program / In a letter to Fence Post (Dec. 12), Susan Stozewski of the Chicago Church of Scientology attempts to promote a drug rehab program called Narconon. I wish to warn readers that Narconon is a front group for the Church of Scientology. I found from personal experience that Narconon is a sham and is, in fact, a slick device to lure unsuspecting people into Scientology. An acquaintance of mine recently discovered that she had serious liver damage from Narconon's bogus "purification" program and she now cannot get health insurance coverage. Another Scientology front group to beware of is the CCHR or Citizens Commission on Human Rights. The CCHR is using tax-exempt funds in a covert campaign to discredit psychiatric-psychology treatment. The CCHR has an extensive network of agents that are distributing distortions about psychiatric treatment and medications such as Prozac and Ritalin. This is a very dangerous thing and people should be aware that it is going on. / Jim Beebe / Northbrook"
- "U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejects Scientologists' petition". Business Wire (reprinting Eli Lilly press release). 1 August 1991. "The petition sought the removal of Prozac (fluoxetine hydrochloride, Dista) from the market and was filed in October 1990 by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a Scientology front group. The FDA is to be commended on its careful review of pertinent scientific data, which led to this most recent reaffirmation of the safety and effectiveness of Prozac. From the start, the campaign against Prozac, of which the CCHR petition was a part, has been a dangerous deception. Scientology's disinformation is a menace to the public health as it attempts to frighten patients away from appropriate medical care and safe and effective medicines."
- "'Church' that yearns for respectability; Business of religion; Scientology". The Times. 23 June 2007. "Hubbard's empire ... Citizens' Commission on Human Rights: assets £4,000; turnover £43,000"
- "The Scientology Church of Hollywood". The Globe and Mail. 11 September 1993. "Scientology's physical presence in Los Angeles and Hollywood is massive. It owns at least seven large buildings, staffed by 2,500 members, and is associated with a wide array of local organizations - "front groups" to their detractors. Some are directly affiliated, like the Citizens' Commission on Human Rights, an anti-psychiatry group, and Author Services, which represents Mr. Hubbard's books and hires actors like Roddy McDowall and Bruce Boxleitner to read the Scientology founder's books on tape. Others have Scientologists on staff and use church methods."
- "Scientology's War Of Retribution On Deep-sleep Therapy". The Age. 22 April 1991. "Internal documents from the Church of Scientology, the parent organisation of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, indicate that behind the church's public battle to expose abuses of psychiatric patients lies a hidden plan of retribution."
- "Scientology organizations". Charleston Gazette. 10 July 2005. "Scientology operates several drug rehab, education and anti-psychiatry organizations. / · Narconon: The church's drug-rehabilitation program was founded 35 years ago. It has 145 centers in 38 countries. Narconon is based partly on Scientology's belief that drugs accumulate in body fat. / · Crimonon: A prison program founded in 1972 that draws on Scientology principles to rehabilitate prisoners. The program rejects traditional mental-health care. Hubbard believed that Scientology could help rid the planet of crime. / · Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR): Established in 1969 as an anti-psychiatry organization, CCHR promotes Hubbard's teachings against modern psychiatry. It charges that psychiatry has no scientific foundation, that psychiatric drugs cause violent behavior and that chemical imbalances have never been proven."
- Fink, Max (2004). Ethics in Electroconvulsive Therapy. Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge. p. 12. ISBN 0-415-94659-X.
- Thompson, Marie (2007). Mental Illness. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. p. 96. ISBN 0-313-33565-6.
- Benjamin, Gedan. "Bill Would Curtail Presecriptions for Mentally Ill". The Boston Globe.
- "CCHR Chapters Worldwide." Citizens Commission on Human Rights. Retrieved 26 September 2009. "Citizens Commission on Human Rights International 6616 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028"
- Kent, Melissa (18 January 2006). "Strange meeting of minds takes place". The West Australian (Perth).
- Harold Mandel. "CCHR reports on association of psychotropic drugs with violence". CCHR (press release published on examiner.com). "The CCHR is the world's leading mental health wartchdog and has been working tirelessly for decades to investigate hundreds of acts of senseless violence, working alongside investigative reporters, law enforcement, as well as legislative hearings, such as those held in Colorado following the 1999 Columbine massacre. The ringleader of this massacre, Eric Harris, was found to be under the influence of the antidepressant Luvox. ... While there has never been one simple explanation for what drives a human being to commit such shocking acts, all too often the CCHR has uncovered one common denominator in hundreds of cases, prescribed psychotropic drugs, which have been well documented to cause mania, psychosis, violence, suicide and in some cases homicidal ideation. It is a horrible injustice that the general public is not generally being informed about the well documented links which have been shown to exist between psychiatric drugs and violence."
- "Are drugs to blame for shooting sprees? Letters". Western Daily Press. 31 July 2012. "it is the drugs themselves that can create the very violence or mental incompetence they were supposed to 'treat'. At least 13 of the recent school shootings were committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs. There have been 109 wounded and 58 killed. A hearing into the documented violenceinducing side-effects of psychiatric drugs is long overdue. There is an abundance of evidence, studies, warnings and case histories to support an investigation, one without a predetermined outcome. That means an investigation without pharma funding or pharmafunded 'experts'. ... Brian Daniels National spokesperson Citizens Commission on Human Rights (United Kingdom)"
- Chaos and Terror: Manufactured by Psychiatry
- E. Fuller Torrey and Michael B. Knable. (2005). Surviving Manic Depression. New York: Basic Books. p. 295. ISBN 0-465-08664-0.
- Scientology's War on Psychiatry," Salon, 1 July 2005
- Fazio, Marlene (6 January 1970). "Three Hospital Aides Reinstated". Delaware County Daily Times.
- Ferguson, Larry (5 July 1974). "CCHR Using Publicity to Improve Mental Care". Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph.
- Richard Ruble (1 June 1975). Christian perspectives on psychology. Ardent Media. pp. 129–. ISBN 978-0-8422-0456-9. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- Nicholas, Julius (23 July 1969). "Patient Wants Court to Forbid Shock Treatment". Delaware County Daily Times.
- Burton, Thomas M. (19 April 1991). "Anti-Depression Drug Of Eli Lilly Loses Sales After Attack by Sect". Wall Street Journal.
- Suits, Protests Fuel a Campaign Against Psychiatry, Los Angeles Times, 29 June 1990
- Hawleshka, Danylo (10 May 2006). "A new war over Ritalin". Retrieved 7 February 2009.
- Kennedy Takes Aim at Ritalin Provision, Roll Call, 7 May 2003
- Marie L. Thompson (December 2006). Mental Illness. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-313-33565-5. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- Andrew Gumbel, "Scientology vs. Science," Further there are displays blaming psychiatrists for terrorism and 9/11. Los Angeles City Beat, 12 January 2006
- "Showbiz Tonight," CNN, 20 December 2005
-  Australian Dictionary of Biography-Bailey, Harry Richard, pp 48-49, Melbourne University Press
-  Chelmsford Private Hospital Patient Compensation-New South Wales Parliament-22 April 1991
-  'Inside 60 Minutes'
-  Walton v. Gardiner, Herron and McDonald (1993)
-  Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bailey, Harry Richard, pp 48-49, Melbourne University Press
- The Melbourne Age, 22 April 1991.
- ""Rubbish", says Dr Alexander Leaf, chief of medicine at the ECT cut in California". New Scientist 75: 535. July 1977.
- Valerie L. Love; Edna D. Copeland (1992). Attention Without Tension: A Teacher's Handbook on Attention Disorders (ADHD and ADD). Atlanta, Ga: Resurgens Press. p. 114. ISBN 0-929519-10-8.
- Touretzky, Dave. "CoS / IRS Closing Agreement". Operation Clambake. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- Stephen A. Kent, "The Globalization of Scientology: Influence, Control and Opposition in Transnational Markets," Religion, v. 29, n. 2, April 1999, p.147-169
- "Scientology faces wave of cyber attacks". Cape Times. 4 March 2008. "LOS ANGELES: “We were born. We grew up. We escaped.” So reads the motto of ExScientologyKids.com, a website launched last week by three young women raised in the Church of Scientology who are speaking out against the religion. Their website accuses the church of physical abuse, denying some children a proper education and alienating members from their families. One of the women behind the site, Jenna Miscavige Hill, is the niece of David Miscavige, the head of the church, and Kendra Wiseman is the daughter of Bruce Wiseman, president of the Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights, a Scientology-sponsored organisation opposed to the practice of psychiatry."
- "Prof's Libel Victory Over LSD Claims". Northern Echo. 22 June 1990.
- Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin 26 August 1982, "Pain and Sex". Cited in Atack, Jon (1990). A Piece of Blue Sky. New York, NY: Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8184-0499-X., p. 288. "[The psychs] are the sole cause of decline in this universe ..."
- "Top Scientologist 'covered up sex abuse'". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 May 2010
- "Scientologist Jan Eastgate accused of covering up abuse". 20 May 2010
- Steve Cannane (30 May 2011). "Senior scientologist arrested over lie claims". Lateline (abc.net.au). Retrieved 30 May 2011.
- Chaos and Terror: Manufactured by Psychiatry
- PBS - frontline: medicating kids: interviews: fred baughman
- Marie L. Thompson (December 2006). Mental Illness. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-313-33565-5. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- Doctor Claudia Heals website, especially the Home and About Us pages
- "Disruption of gene interaction linked to schizophrenia". St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Retrieved 6 July 2006.
- Lieberman, J.A.; JM Kane; J. Alvir (1997). "Provocative tests with psychostimulant drugs in schizophrenia". Psychopharmacology (Berl). 91 (4): 415–433. doi:10.1007/BF00216006. PMID 2884687.
- Nutt DJ (2008). "Relationship of neurotransmitters to the symptoms of major depressive disorder". Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 69 Suppl E1: 4–7. PMID 18494537.
- Rossetti ZL, Lai M, Hmaidan Y, Gessa GL (1993). "Depletion of mesolimbic dopamine during behavioral despair: partial reversal by chronic imipramine". Eur. J. Pharmacol. 242 (3): 313–5. doi:10.1016/0014-2999(93)90257-I. PMID 8281997.
- "Webmd. Mental Health: Social Anxiety Disorder". Webmd.com. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
- "Official Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) Site". CCHR International.
- "Citizens Commission on Human Rights International: Mental Health Watchdog". CCHR International.
- "Scientology FAQs: What is CCHR?". An answer to a commonly asked question. Church of Scientology.
- "Citizens Commission on Human Rights". CCHR and Psychiatry. Church of Scientology.
- "Psychiatric Profession Current Target of Citizens Commission on Human Rights". An article from the Psychiatric Times. Psychiatric Times; CMP Media.
- "What is the Citizens Commission on Human Rights?". From the information pack of Operation Clambake. Operation Clambake.
- "Ex-Scientology Kids' K. Wiseman about CCHR".