Scientology on Psychiatry

I have a severe level of rage.

I stumbled upon a video today about how scientologists are attempting to blame psychiatrists for all terrorist activities, including 9/11 and the holocaust.  At the end of the video they talk about a pamphlet called “mental health abuse – chaos and terror.”  So I googled this and started looking at the official website, aimed to expose the “crimes of mental health practitioners.”  The site is run by a group, ironically called the Citizens Commissi0n on Human Rights (CCHR).

Human Rights??  You’ve got to be kidding me.  The president of the CCHR, Jan Eastgate, has such idiocy as the following to say in her address on the main page.

Seventeen million children worldwide are prescribed antidepressants that cause violent and suicidal behavior. This includes children younger than one year old who are now being prescribed mind-altering drugs. Millions more of our young are prescribed a stimulant that is more potent than cocaine.

I’d be interested to hear how antidepressants cause violent behaviour and suicide.  In all the hundreds of thousands of cases of antidepressant use, how many people got better compared to those who got worse?

Inmates were terrorized with electric shock treatment, often as punishment and without consent. Psychiatric lobotomies and other psychosurgical procedures destroyed minds and lives. Powerful neuroleptic (nerve seizing) drugs caused irreversible brain and nervous system damage making patients sluggish, apathetic and less alert. Furthermore, patients were assaulted and sexually abused—all under the guise of “therapy.” Any claim of a scientific basis was a hoax.

First of all, what is a scientologist doing worrying about firm scientific bases?

Now, I’m not one to say that the history of psychiatry doesn’t contain some pretty disturbing stuff.  However, the same can be said of the practice of medicine in general.  But in order to discredit a psychological treatment, you have to look at it’s use today.  And you do have to take all things into consideration, including the empirical research behind it.

Take Electro-Convulsive shock therapy (ECT), for example.  A lot of people get really defensive about ECT because they see it as a violent, damaging and inhumane procedure.  But upon closer inspection, it’s not hard to see the benefits of the treatment.  For one thing, it is one of the most effective treatments for things like depression and anxiety that are resistent to all other forms of treatment.  Unilateral ECT can be virtually side-effect free (something that cannot be said for much more common treatments such as psychotropic meds).  Sure, some people have died, but this is due to the use of anaesthetics, like any minor surgery would use.  It’s now an outpatient procedure and due to advances in medicine like effective muscle relaxants and the like, the fact that a seizure is even happening can be quite difficult to see.

Of course, no one really knows how or why it works, so naturally there is a lot of controversy surrounding it.

But I digress.

One of the most alarming claims made on the website is the idea that “psychiatric rape” is a common practice and that it is justified as a kind of therepeutic intervention by offending therapists.  Now, let me be perfectly clear.  In cases where any sexual activities occur between a therapist and client, even years after the fact, it’s just wrong.  There is never a case where it is ok, due to the extremely one-sided emotional interactions that are a part of therapy and the ensuing power dynamics.  Even when things are perfectly consensual, there’s just no way that a healthy relationship can develop.

But to single out psychology as the only profession in which inappropriate sexual contact is dangerous is absolute absurdity.  Therapy is a helping encounter, and those who practice psychotherapy practice in a helping profession.  Hmm…  I wonder what other helping professions have ever bred inappropriate sexual contact?

Interestingly, in her section on how psychiatry is destroyinig religion and hope, Jan Eastgate recommends that “Men of the cloth need to shake off the yoke of soulless materialism spawned by psychology and psychiatry and put religion back into the hands of the religious.  Indeed, religious leaders must take this responsibility, not only for the sake of religion’s survival but also for the survival of mankind.”  If you’re going to make an argument against psychiatry based on sex offenses, seems to me you would think twice about declaring religion as your saving grace.

And what does Scientology have to say about the treatment of repeating sex offenders?  Because I happen to know that behavioural psychotherapy sure has a lot to say.

I know that psychiatry has its problems, not the least of which being the backing of the giant pharmaceutical companies.  It’s an interesting debate and once in which my mind is certainly not made up.  But if Scientologists think that they have the answers, all one has to do, really, is to think about the founding principles of what they believe in, and you’re ready to look elsewhere for worthwhile information.

I don’t even know what else to say, other than go check out the website if you’re in need of a laugh.

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