Scientology and psychiatry
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Since the founding of the Church of Scientology in 1954 by L. Ron Hubbard, the relationship between Scientology and psychiatry has been dominated by strong opposition by the organization against the medical specialties of psychiatry and psychology, with themes relating to this opposition occurring repeatedly throughout Scientology literature and doctrine. According to the Church of Scientology, psychiatry has a long history of improper and abusive care. The group's views have been disputed, criticized and condemned by experts in the medical and scientific community and been a source of public controversy.
- 1 L. Ron Hubbard and psychiatry
- 2 The Church of Scientology and psychiatry
- 3 Scientologists
- 4 Relations with anti-psychiatry movement
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
L. Ron Hubbard and psychiatry
L. Ron Hubbard's views on psychiatry evolved over time. After initially seeking out psychiatric treatment for himself, Hubbard self-identified as a psychologist. In 1951, Hubbard's estranged wife publicly claimed that, according to psychiatrists she had consulted, Hubbard suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Thereafter, Hubbard wrote that Psychiatry was evil and the source of all of humanity's problems.
Hubbard's hospitalizations and request for psychiatric treatment
In 1945, Hubbard was a patient at Oak Knoll Military Hospital. Hubbard's estranged son, Ron DeWolf, would later state that Hubbard received psychiatric treatment during his hospitalization.  Hubbard would later cite his time with psychiatric patients at Oak Knoll "using a park bench as a consulting room" as a major influence on his development of Dianetics.
After his discharge, Hubbard sought out psychiatric help to treat his "long periods of moroseness and suicidal inclinations" but reported that he could not afford it. A letter dated October 15, 1947 which Hubbard wrote to the Veterans Administration (VA) begins: "This is a request for treatment". The letter continues:
After trying and failing for two years to regain my equilibrium in civil life, I am utterly unable to approach anything like my own competence. My last physician informed me that it might be very helpful if I were to be examined and perhaps treated psychiatrically or even by a psychoanalyst. Toward the end of my service I avoided out of pride any mental examinations, hoping that time would balance a mind which I had every reason to suppose was seriously affected. I cannot account for nor rise above long periods of moroseness and suicidal inclinations, and have newly come to realize that I must first triumph above this before I can hope to rehabilitate myself at all. ... I cannot, myself, afford such treatment.
Would you please help me?
In 1948, Hubbard and his second wife Sara moved from California to Savannah, Georgia, where he would later claim to have "worked" as a "volunteer" in the psychiatric clinic. Hubbard later wrote of having observed a "Dr. Center" in Savannah.  
Hubbard as would-be psychologist
In January 1949, Hubbard wrote that he was working on a "book of psychology" about "the cause and cure of nervous tension", which he was going to call The Dark Sword, Excalibur or Science of the Mind. In April 1949, Hubbard wrote from Savannah to inform the Gerontological Society at Baltimore City Hospital that he was preparing a paper entitled Certain Discoveries and Researches Leading to the Removal of Early Traumatic Experiences Including Attempted Abortion, Birth Shock and Infant Illnesses and Accidents with an Examination of their Effects Physiological and Psychological and their Potential Influence on Longevity on the Adult Individual with an Account of the Techniques Evolved and Employed. Hubbard's letter was "politely received", but the Society apparently declined involvement. He also wrote to the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association. These letters, and their responses, have not been published, though Hubbard later said that they had been negative. Hubbard later wrote, "In 1948 I wrote a thesis on an elementary technique of application and submitted it to the medical and psychiatric professions for their use or consideration. The data was not utilized."
The following year, Hubbard authored Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health, a handbook for "the psychiatrist, psycho-analyst and intelligent layman". By September 1950, the American Psychological Association's governing body unanimously adopted a resolution advising its members against using Hubbard's techniques with their patients and leading psychologists spoke out against Dianetics. Thereafter, Hubbard was critical of psychiatry.
In late 1950, Hubbard criticized mainstream psychiatry but still wrote positively of Sigmund Freud as a fellow persecuted trailblazer, arguing that "to talk of the faults of Freud, as do those who practice psychoanalysis today, is ungenerous. This great pioneer, against the violent objections of medical doctors and the psychiatrists of his day, ventured to put forth the theory that memory was connected with present time behavior" Hubbard elaborated: "Freud was so thoroughly shunned by neurologists of his day and medicine ever since, that only his great literary skill brought his work as far as it has come."
As late as 1955, Hubbard still identified himself with mental health professions, describing himself as "a writer, a scientist, and a psychologist".
Public allegation of Hubbard having psychiatric issues
In 1951, Hubbard's wife Sara went to a psychiatrist to obtain advice about his increasingly violent and irrational behaviour, and was told that he probably needed to be institutionalized and that she was in serious danger. She gave Hubbard an ultimatum: get treatment or she would leave with the baby. He was furious and threatened to kill their daughter Alexis rather than let Northrup care for her. Sara later recalled: "He didn't want her to be brought up by me because I was in league with the doctors. He thought I had thrown in with the psychiatrists, with the devils."
In February 1951, L. Ron Hubbard kidnapped his wife Sara. After her release, she filed for divorce, charging Hubbard with causing her "extreme cruelty, great mental anguish and physical suffering". Her allegations produced more lurid headlines: not only was Hubbard accused of bigamy and kidnapping, but she had been subjected to "systematic torture, including loss of sleep, beatings, and strangulations and scientific experiments". Because of his "crazy misconduct" she was in "hourly fear of both the life of herself and of her infant daughter, who she has not seen for two months".
It was publicly reported that Sara had consulted doctors who "concluded that said Hubbard was hopelessly insane, and, crazy, and that there was no hope for said Hubbard, or any reason for her to endure further; that competent medical advisers recommended that said Hubbard be committed to a private sanatorium for psychiatric observation and treatment of a mental ailment known as paranoid schizophrenia."
From March to May 1951, Hubbard fled to Havana with his infant daughter. According to his estranged son Ronald DeWolf, Hubbard was under psychiatric care at this time. 
Hubbard voluntarily underwent psychological examination to rebut public charges that he was a paranoid schizophrenic.
Psychiatry as evil
In 1955, Hubbard wrote that "nearly all the backlash in society against Dianetics and Scientology has a common source — the psychiatrist-psychologist-psychoanalyst clique". In a letter addressed to the FBI dated July 11, Hubbard reports having been the victim of an "attack made by psychiatrists using evidently Communist connected personnel".
In 1956, Hubbard wrote an article entitled "A Critique of Psychoanalysis" which embodies Hubbard's harder stance. Writes Hubbard: "Now and then it becomes necessary to eradicate from a new subject things which it has inherited from an old. And only because this has become necessary am I persuaded to tread upon the toes of the “grandfather” to Dianetics and Scientology." In the essay, Hubbard admits that from "the earliest beginnings of Dianetics it is possible to trace a considerable psychoanalytic influence." Hubbard makes a distinction between Dianetics and Scientology writing that "Scientology, unlike Dianetics, is not a psychotherapy. It is therefore from the dominance of Scientology rather than from the viewpoint of Dianetics that one can understand the failings of psychoanalysis, its dangers and the reasons why it did not produce what it should have produced."
We discover psychoanalysis to have been superseded by tyrannous sadism, practiced by unprincipled men, themselves evidently in the last stages of dementia. This, then, is the end of the trail for psychoanalysis—a world of failure and brutality. Today men who call themselves analysts are merrily sawing out patients’ brains, shocking them with murderous drugs, striking them with high voltages, burying them underneath mounds of ice, placing them in restraints, “sterilizing” them sexually and generally conducting themselves much as their patients would were they given the chance. It is up to us to realize, then, that psychoanalysis in its pure practice is dead the moment the spirit of humanity in which Freud developed the work is betrayed by the handing over of a patient to the merciless misconduct which passes today for treatment.
In 1957, Hubbard founded the "National Academy of American Psychology" which sought to issue a "loyalty oath" to psychologists and psychiatrists.Those who opposed the oath were to be labelled "Subversive" psychiatrists, while those who merely refused to sign the oath would be labelled "Potentially Subversive".
In 1958, Hubbard wrote that "Destroy is the same as help to a psychiatrist". His 1958 writings cited "Psychiatry: The Greatest Flub of the Russian Civilization" by Tom Esterbrook ; Hubbard's son would later reveal that Tom Eastebrook was one of Hubbard's many pen-names.
By 1967, Hubbard claimed that psychiatrists were behind a worldwide conspiracy to attack Scientology and create a "world government" run by psychiatrists on behalf of the USSR:
Our enemies are less than twelve men. They are members of the Bank of England and other higher financial circles. They own and control newspaper chains and they, oddly enough, run all the mental health groups in the world that had sprung up […]. Their apparent programme was to use mental health, which is to say psychiatric electric shock and pre-frontal lobotomy, to remove from their path any political dissenters […]. These fellows have gotten nearly every government in the world to owe them considerable quantities of money through various chicaneries and they control, of course, income tax, government finance — [Harold] Wilson, for instance, the current Premier of England, is totally involved with these fellows and talks about nothing else actually.
Referring to psychiatrists as "psychs", Hubbard wrote of psychiatrists as denying human spirituality and peddling fake cures. He taught that psychiatrists were themselves deeply unethical individuals, committing "extortion, mayhem and murder. Our files are full of evidence on them."
Hubbard's efforts to cast the field of psychiatry as the source of all of humanity's problems are exemplified in a policy letter written in 1971, in which he attempted to redefine the word "psychiatrist" to mean "an antisocial enemy of the people":
Psychiatry and psychiatrist are easily redefined to mean 'an antisocial enemy of the people.' This takes the kill-crazy psychiatrist off the preferred list of professions. This is a good use of the technique [of redefining words] as for a century the psychiatrist has been setting an all-time record for inhumanity to Man.
Anti-psychiatric themes also appear in some of Hubbard's later fictional works. In Hubbard's ten-volume series Mission Earth, various characters debate the methods and validity of psychology. In his novel Battlefield Earth, the evil Catrists (a pun on psychiatrists), are described as a group of charlatans claiming to be mental health experts.
The Church of Scientology and psychiatry
A 1969 book, Believe What You Like, described an attempt by Scientologists to secretly infiltrate the National Association of Mental Health in Britain and turn official policy against mental health treatment. Though they were expelled from the organization after their identity and mission were revealed, the Church of Scientology then filed a number of suits against the NAMH.
When Operation Snow White, a Church of Scientology campaign to purge unfavorable records about Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard, was revealed in 1980, it came to light that Scientology agents of the Guardian's Office had also conducted a similar campaign against the World Federation for Mental Health and the National Association of Mental Health.
Scientology's views are expressed by its president in the following quote:
What the Church opposes are brutal, inhumane psychiatric treatments. It does so for three principal reasons: 1) procedures such as electro-shock, drugs and lobotomy injure, maim and destroy people in the guise of help; 2) psychiatry is not a science and has no proven methods to justify the billions of dollars of government funds that are poured into it; and 3) psychiatric theories that man is a mere animal have been used to rationalize, for example, the wholesale slaughter of human beings in World Wars I and II.
An October 2006 article in the Evening Standard underlines the strong opposition of Scientology toward the psychiatric profession:
Up front, David Miscavige is dramatically — and somewhat bizarrely — attacking psychiatrists, his words backed by clips from a Scientology-produced DVD are broadcast on four giant high-definition TV screens and sensationally called: Psychiatry: an industry of death [...]. 'A woman is safer in a park at midnight than on a psychiatrist's couch', booms Miscavige, backed by savage graphics of psychiatrists — or 'psychs' as he calls them — being machine-gunned out of existence.
The group says that they are near victory in their war against psychiatry. In their treatise Those Who Oppose Scientology, it is stated:
Today, there are 500 Dianeticists and Scientologists to every psychiatrist […] while Scientology is more visible than ever, with churches dotting every continent on Earth and millions of parishioners around the world, one is hard pressed to find even a single psychiatrist with a shingle on his door.
Scientology claims a worldwide membership of more than 8 million, the total of people who have taken the Scientology introductory course. The Church of Scientology claims 3.5 million members in the United States, though an independent survey has found the number of people in the United States would state their religion as 'Scientology' is close to 55,000. By comparison, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, which are composed of psychiatrists and psychologists, have 38,000 and 148,000 members respectively.
Mental health care professionals are not concerned that the public will take Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) materials seriously, because of the organization's connection with the church; however, they argue that these materials can have a harmful impact when quoted without attribution.
Except for court trials and media publications and public rallies, published materials have received little notice outside of Scientology and CCHR; of reviews available, few are positive. Psychology professor Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi's short review of Psychiatrists: The Men Behind Hitler states:
Scientology has attracted much attention through its propaganda effort against what it calls psychiatry. This has involved great expense and organizational effort, carried out through a variety of fronts. If the book Psychiatrists: The Men Behind Hitler (Roder, Kubillus, & Burwell, 1995) is a representative example, and I believe it is, it proves decisively that the campaign is rooted in total paranoia and pathetic ignorance. Reading this book, and I will urge you not to waste too much time doing it, makes clear that the authors simply have no idea what psychiatry is.
The American Psychiatric Association's Lynn Schultz-Writsel adds:
We have not responded in any way, shape or form. There has not been a hue and cry from members to respond. And anyway, the publication speaks for itself.
Michael Burke, the president of the Kansas Psychiatric Association, said regarding Scientology, "They aren't really able to support their position with any scientific data, which they tend to ignore. … the public seems to be able to look right past the Scientology hoopla."
According to Susan Raine in Scientology in Popular Culture (2017), The Church of Scientology's programs against psychiatry "complicates the movement's quest for religious legitimacy." This is because of "the way in which Hubbard tried to replace psychiatry, psychology and other forms of counseling and therapy with Scientology."
Following legal actions involving the Church of Scientology's relationship with its members, it has become standard practice within the group for members to sign lengthy legal contracts and waivers before engaging in Scientology services. In 2003, a series of media reports examined the legal contracts required by Scientology, which require that, among other things, Scientology followers deny any and all psychiatric care that their doctors may prescribe to them:
I do not believe in or subscribe to psychiatric labels for individuals. It is my strongly held religious belief that all mental problems are spiritual in nature and that there is no such thing as a mentally incompetent person — only those suffering from spiritual upset of one kind or another dramatized by an individual. I reject all psychiatric labels and intend for this Contract to clearly memorialize my desire to be helped exclusively through religious, spiritual means and not through any form of psychiatric treatment, specifically including involuntary commitment based on so-called lack of competence. Under no circumstances, at any time, do I wish to be denied my right to care from members of my religion to the exclusion of psychiatric care or psychiatric directed care, regardless of what any psychiatrist, medical person, designated member of the state or family member may assert supposedly on my behalf.
Citizens Commission on Human Rights
In 1966 Hubbard declared all-out war on psychiatry, telling Scientologists that "We want at least one bad mark on every psychiatrist in England, a murder, an assault, or a rape or more than one." He committed the Church of Scientology to the goal of eradicating psychiatry in 1969, announcing that "Our war has been forced to become 'To take over absolutely the field of mental healing on this planet in all forms.'"
Not coincidentally, the Church of Scientology founded the Citizens Commission on Human Rights that same year as its primary vehicle for attacking psychiatry. CCHR still quotes Hubbard's above-cited statement that all psychiatrists are criminals: "There is not one institutional psychiatrist alive who, by ordinary criminal law, could not be arraigned and convicted of extortion, mayhem and murder. Our files are full of evidence on them."
CCHR has conducted campaigns against Prozac, against electroconvulsive therapy, against Ritalin (and the existence of ADHD) and against various health legislations. CCHR has also opened a permanent museum, "Psychiatry: An Industry of Death", in Hollywood.
Tom Cruise has been highly vocal in attacking the use of psychiatric medication, gaining particular attention for becoming extremely animated on the subject during an interview on Today on June 25, 2005. His position has attracted considerable criticism from psychiatrists and other physicians (American Psychiatric Association and National Mental Health Association), and individuals suffering from depression.
Books by Scientologists
The German Scientologists Thomas Roder and Volker Kubillus wrote the book Psychiatrists: the Men Behind Hitler (also published by Scientology's Freedom Publications, 1995–2001), that advances a conspiracy theory of all-powerful psychiatrists to overwhelm the world.
Scientologist Lisa McPherson was taken out of a psychiatric hospital because of her ties to Scientology.
This resulted in her later suspicious death due to unclear causes likely having to do with mistreatment by Church officials. Allegations that this amounted to negligence or even assassination occurred, and legal proceedings involving criminal negligence lawsuits were settled out of court in an undisclosed settlement.
On March 13, 2003, Scientologist Jeremy Perkins killed his mother, Elli, by stabbing her 77 times. Jeremy, previously diagnosed with schizophrenia, never received treatment after previous incidents with violence and hallucinations. His mother, active in the Buffalo Church of Scientology, felt that vitamins and Scientology routines were better than psychological counseling and anti-psychotic medication.
On July 5, 2007, a 25-year-old Australian woman, Linda Waliki, killed her 52-year-old father Michael, 15-year-old sister Kathryn, and injured her mother Sue with a knife. Her name was released in the print edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, on July 7, 2007. It was previously unreleased due to one of the victims being under age. She was diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, but her parents denied her continued psychiatric treatment due to their Scientology beliefs. Instead they replaced this medication with one specially imported from Scientologists in the United States.
Relations with anti-psychiatry movement
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was co-founded by anti-psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and the Church of Scientology in 1969. Some anti-psychiatry websites and psychiatric survivors groups have sought to distance themselves from Scientology and the CCHR. In particular, the organisation Mind Freedom has specifically made public statements to emphasise that it is not connected with either CCHR or the Church of Scientology.
Despite sharing notable anti-psychiatry views on some issues with the secular critics, Scientology doctrine does differ in some respects. Scientology has promoted psychiatry-related conspiracy theories, including that psychiatrists were behind the Yugoslav Wars and that September 11 was caused by psychiatrists. Scientologists are religiously committed never to take psychiatric drugs and to reject psychology outright.
The socio-political roots of the movements have different origins. Advocates of the anti-psychiatric world view such as David Cooper, R. D. Laing and Michel Foucault had ties with the political left of the 1960s; Thomas Szasz, with the civil libertarians of the right, as well as an outspoken atheist. Many advocates of the anti-psychiatry movement have stated that they consider the idea of "mental illness" as a convenient and inaccurate label assigned by society rather than an objective biomedical state, rejecting psychiatric terms such as schizophrenia which they may see as stigmatizing. By contrast, Hubbard referred to "schizophrenics" in his writings on Scientology theory, and developed the emotional tone scale to, in part, gauge the health of a person's mental state. Furthermore, in his Science of Survival Hubbard suggested putting people very low on the scale into quarantine, a practice at odds with, for instance, the aim of the American Association for the Abolition of Involuntary Mental Hospitalization: an organization co-founded by Szasz to end involuntary commitment.
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