My run in with the Scientology Anti-Psychiatry movement

Something happened at the conference this week that i need to talk about. It’s not the most positive thing which is perhaps why it stood out so much, and to me in particular. The conference itself was fantastic, i cannot express how much i got out of it.

Unfortunately we had some unwelcome visitors.

We had Scientologists.

Well okay not full blown Xenu worshipping Scientologists but rather members of the anti-psychiatry movement set up by them and Thomas Szasz. The ironically named Citizens Commission of Human Rights.

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Thomas Szasz was a psychiatrist that believed that mental illness doesn’t exist and had some very strong views on the matter. As a psychology undergraduate i had a lecturer who was a big fan of Szasz and i remember leaving those classes shaking with anger after long arguments. Eventually i complained to another lecturer who managed to get him to tone down his classes-obviously he was unaware that several of his students were struggling with some pretty heavy mental health issues (20% of students experience depression so no surprise). The last thing we needed or wanted to hear was that mental illness didn’t exist and it was very distressing for me in particular as someone who has a long, painful history of mental health problems.

This may sound oxymoronic but i’m quite a lucky crazy person. I am out of the mental health closet to just about everyone and am lucky enough to have the support of a wonderful partner, my family, friends and my place of work.

I have worked with YoungMinds, the NHS, The Royal College of Psychiatrists and many more and have an incredible platform to speak out about young people’s mental health-the conference this week is a great example.

It’s not that i forget that stigma exists, god no. I still experience it from time to time, i have done in the past too. I’ve seen the devastating effects in friends and family and i know that stigma is a big part of the reason that 70% of people with a mental health problem don’t get treatment.

But perhaps i live in a bit of a bubble. I forget sometimes that some people don’t even believe mental illness exists. That blows my mind to be honest both as a service user, a professional and as a human being.

So the conference was going well. A meeting of like minded people from across the world. We came together to find solutions and to try and help young people.

Someone clearly didn’t get that message to the CCHR.

So they turn up, thankfully get barricaded by security at the Brighton Dome (you guys were wonderful, thankyou) and start shouting.

A really rubbish photo-i wasn't meant to be taking one at all!

A really rubbish photo-i wasn’t meant to be taking one at all!

To sum up briefly their arguments:

  • Mental illness doesn’t exist
  • Children do NOT get mental health problems
  • Psychiatry is just about drugging children and turning them into zombies.

When they turned up at first there were just three of them, i approached them, the acronym (CCHR) on their tshirts was familiar but i couldn’t remember why.

Me: “Hi, where are you from then?”
Them: “We’re from the CCHR, we’re here to protest this conference”

We had a remarkably civil conversation. They stated their views. I countered every point they gave with statistics and my own experiences.

Them: “We don’t believe that mental illness exists, these people are drugging children and turning them into zombies. Where is the evidence?”

I calmly disagreed.

Me: “I’m sorry but i can’t agree. You see i was a mentally ill child. I had problems from the age of 6. I didn’t get treatment until i was 14 and i did have medication but i had to fight for it and you know what some of it helped”

I went to walk off and then stopped dead in my tracks. Something had clicked. I suddenly knew where i had heard that acronym before.

Me: “You’re not Scientologists are you?”
Them: “Well no. Our organiation was set up by Scientology and Thomas Szasz”.
Me: “Ahh i see”

And i walked off.

Then the others arrived and there were a lot of them. They shouted at the delegates, hurling abuse. They chanted “we don’t need n o thought control” and other slogans and intimidated everyone including the young people attending the conference.

I went back into the building to warn my friends not to go outside and promptly had a bit of a breakdown.

I ended up upstairs in the chill out area shaking uncontrollably and close to tears.

“How dare they?” i asked. How dare they question and dismiss my pain? How dare they tell me that the last 18 years of my illness didn’t happen.

Also, how misguided they are. I was at the conference for three days. Not ONE talk was pro-medication or pro-restraint. We talked about using technology to help young people, about participation and co-production.

My favourite moment however was this:

I went outside to get away from the protest and went for a cigarette with a friend. As we walked back my confidence surged. I wasn’t going to take this any more.

I saw two children standing apart from the protest. They can’t have been more than 10 years old and they were chanting the same ridiculous slogans as the adults. Something about this really struck me. These were the children we may end up helping in the future. They deserve better than Scientology’s lies.

I walked up to a young boy, put my hand on his shoulder and said to him

“You know, you should check out the YoungMinds website when you get home. They will educate you better than these people will”

And walked off.

The crowd was furious and started shouting at me, demanding to know what i had said. I held my head high and walked past back into the conference and didn’t look back.

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17 Comments

    • CCHR doesn’t control minds: it introduces knowledge to you that will change your mind about things for the better. It reveals the truth to you in other words and does not use drugs – like psychiatrists do – in order to force you into making those changes of mind. Psychiatric drugs do damage the brain (which has been admitted by various people within the drug industry) and normal human emotion has been labelled as “illness” and “disorder” when there is no evidence to prove such things. If you believe anything on the contrary to this you are contributing to the growth of a multi-billion pound/dollar business that is making that amount of money by severely damaging the brains and bodies of innocent men, women and children.
      I’m just being honest before you scoff at me.

  1. CCHR is a scam really, it never gives any funding to charitable works. It is a recruitement vehicle for the Church of Scientology like Narconon, Criminon, Able, Wise and some other front groups. Alsoo it brings in some cash for the Church of Scientology or rather it’s leader/dictator David miscavige.

    “don’t take pills get brainwashed in a cult instead”

    • CCHR is not a scam. You are basing your opinion on assumption rather than on objective scientific fact which is by definition slanderous. The facts which CCHR present to the world about psychiatry, the drug insdustry and medications etc come from a lot of physicians, lawyers, reporters, scientists and so on who aren’t even Scientologists. Some of those physicians and other professionals may have became scientologists later (i don’t know because i don’t know them) but the facts which they present to you are real because i’ve lived the life of what they are presenting to you.
      If you want to know the facts about psychiatry and how to recover study Peter Breggin MD http://www.breggin.com.
      All of the problems i suffered from once i was diagnosed and treat with pills are explained in breggins books. Not once could a psychiatrist legitimately tell me what was wrong with me, nor did they recognise that the drugs were causing severe harm to my brain and body. Yet in Peter Breggins books all of my symptoms are there with explanations of how the side-effects occur and how to recover without them as well as estimated times of how long it will take to recover (some people are left with long-term issues from the drugs). I also witnessed some of the corruption within the wards/health service which CCHR present to you, so to say that it’s a “scam” and so forth is nonsense. Scientology receives a lot of bad press yet the information within Scientology books is amazing and life-transforming. What goes on in the CHurch as an organisation is another story, but i can assure you that the knowledge within the books is amazing, positive, life-trasnforming and does not hurt a soul – it improves people and undoes the brainwashing which you have been subjected to for all of your life. I promise.

  2. The irony is indeed rich with the CO$ turning people into zombies–but it’s okay cuz it’s drug free? The CCHR needs to somehow be shut down. They are anything BUT for human rights.

    I am so sorry you were subjected to them and I could empathize with how they made you feel. BRAVO for standing up to them! I’m sure those kids did look up that site! A seed has been planted!! 🙂

  3. If their argument is that psychiatry is superstition disguised as therapy, and that it’s all just a big scam to control people and take their money…..well, that’s a bit rich coming from the Church of $cientology.

  4. Pingback: The state of young people’s mental health | The Great Balancing Act

  5. Pingback: I’m not brave | The Great Balancing Act

  6. It’s easy and probably fun for you guys to make fun of the CCHR. But the fact is that they have done some solid work and prevented and stopped some serious abuses. I would note the work they did in Australia in particular.
    The UK MH act is absolutely disgusting. Persons can have their liberty taken away with no due process by s12 sub contractors and poorly educated social workers. 55k persons are detained a year in England…not UK but just England every year. Persons detained are more often than not not told their rights and have less rights than persons in prisons. They only have 2 weeks to apply for a tribunal which takes at least 7 days to schedule.
    My family has a case against a MH Trust and were happy for the support of the CCHR. They did not pressure us or do anything untoward. The Trust repeatedly lied to us and delayed and obstructed us. They never failed to use the stigma of MH against us when responding to outside organisations. The conditions inside this Trust were absolutely horrendous. It soon became apparent to us that MH Trusts in this country are a complete joke and run more like private fiefdoms run by either inept or corrupt staff. If you think it’s hard to complain about a problem in primary care then you have no idea how difficult it is to complain or report fraud and or abuse against one of these Trusts. Our experience was that there was not one honest person working at this Trust.
    It’s a shameful system here and the law is at best a combo of Orwell and Kafka meets Monty Python. I challenge anyone reading this to take a critical look at the ”science” of psychiatry and it’s history. It was not too long ago that this ”science” fully and eagerly participated in the chemical castration of homosexuals…WTG Psychiatry. Also, almost every protest organisation at some time has been ”Anti Psychiatry.” There is good cause for this as the ”science” of psychiatry has been a tool used against Blacks, Feminists, Homosexuals and others. It’s a shameful history with a very poor track record and an absolute danger to the principles of liberty and freedom. Ha Ha, chuckle chuckle it’s good fun to poke fun at CCHR because they are funded by the COS. However, given our experience I would trust them over any psychiatrist any day.

  7. What they mean by “mental illness doesn’t exist” is that the behaviours and thought processes associated with the labels of schizophrenia, bi-polar, ADHD and so on have never been proven to be disorders at all and there is no evidence to say that these unwanted thoughts and behaviours are the result of a bio-chemical imbalance in the brain.
    What they are saying is that the thought patterns and behaviours associated to those labels are normal responses to whatever may be taking place in the persons life.
    Psychiatrists often misinterpret despair, creativity, anxiety, spontaneity, upset, excitement and all other human traits as “illnesses” or “disorders” when they are in fact very normal reactions that can be improved naturally.

    Study people like Peter Breggin MD – http://www.breggin.com (ex teacher or psychiatry and practising psychiatrist. He also has a unique position in the courts of America which gives him access to private documents from the pharmaceutical industry that no other physician in the world has access to. Peter has gotten kids off with murder after they killed people because of horrendous side-effects caused by psychiatric medications. He has also transformed – cured – the lives of patients who were told that they are “incurable” and have so-called “disorders” like bi-polar, schizophrenia, Adhd and so on without the use of medications as has Dr Bob Johnson in England who knows Peter Breggin. Some of those patients are now therapists, or spokesmen who transform peoples lives for the better! 🙂

    It is true that psychiatry and big pharma invent disorders in order to make money and it is also true that all psychiatric drugs have their effect by causing damage to the brain as well as the body – which has been admitted by the pharmaceutical companies. (I wouldn’t lie to you!).

    As far as Scientology goes: it’s an amazing subject and would make an amazing race of people if everyone studied it – after all Scientology is the culmination of some of the best and most helpful subjects in the world – physics, spirituality and so on.
    Study the subject in it’s entirety before you judge it. You also don’t have to join the church to do that! Simply just rent the books from your local library or buy them online or at a local store).

    Yours sincerely.

    Paul (Psychiatric survivor!)

  8. What they mean by ‘There is no such thing as mental illness’ is that the thoughts and behaviours which have been labelled by drug companies and psychiatrists as “illness” or “disorders” have never been proven to be so.
    All normal human emotion etc has been labelled as a “disorder” and/or an “illness”, typically feelings of anxiety, agitation, hyperactivity, paranoia and so on. Psychiatrists often confuse normal childhood and adult behaviours as illnesses or disorders when they are normal responses to difficulties. Also, the drugs designed to “treat” these conditions have never been proven to improve brain function and have been proven to have their effect by causing brain damage. They also cause bodily damage. Even if a “bio-chemical imbalance” did exist and was found to be the cause of human difficulty then every drug on the market would only cause more damage. Organisms are made healthy and balanced by the absorption of nutrients whilst one thinks correctly doing the opposite of those two things is the cause of all disease anyway. Drug companies have even admitted that the drugs cause severe harm to the brain and body and that a bio-chemical imbalance has never been found to be the cause of unwanted thoughts, feelings and behaviours but when they are found guilty in court for damaging people or causing murder, suicide and violence with their drugs, they simply pay the fines and continue to sell the drugs. All unwanted thoughts, feelings and behaviours are 100% reversible with proper foods and good thinking strategies – poisoning yourself with pills is counter-productive. Study the facts by the leader in this field Peter Breggin MD at http://www.breggin.com.

    From an honest psychiatric survivor! 🙂

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