Response to “The End of Rethinking Psychiatry?”


Editorial Note: In this post, Jason Renaud raises an important concern about an omission in Jonathan Keyes’ post, “The End of Rethinking Psychiatry?” The issue raised is an important one, that has long needed and deserved a full discussion on these pages. We therefore gratefully offer here Jason’s critique of Jonathan’s post, as well as Jonathan’s response, in the hope of hosting a full and fair discussion of the issue.

Response to “The End of Rethinking Psychiatry?”

In his Mad in America blog post “The End of Rethinking Psychiatry?” Jonathan Keyes writes about the support group Rethinking Psychiatry and how Portland’s First Unitarian Church has withdrawn its assistance and asked the group to leave the church.

Jon wasn’t told the full story by his colleagues at Rethinking Psychiatry, and he didn’t ask the church about it. Turns out First Unitarian wasn’t the first organization to cease support for Rethinking Psychiatry; my organization did as well – and here’s some background about our decision.

The Mental Health Association of Portland is Oregon’s advocacy leader for people with mental illness and addictions. Our work over the last decade has influenced law and public policy, applied direct pressure to government leaders, used the arts to reject authority, and sat bedside with the sick, the mad, and the dying. We maintain no staff, no office, no income, no assets, no allies.

Leadership means we promote excellence and denounce fraud. Rethinking Psychiatry is both, but a little fraud trumps a lot of excellence every time.

Inspired by Robert Whitaker’s visits to Portland (including at least one we helped sponsor), Rethinking Psychiatry was started in 2010 with the mission of delving into alternatives to conventional care for people with mental illness. The group was hosted by the First Unitarian Church of Portland, a large, established and liberal congregation which for many years had a mental health social justice committee and is keenly interested in our issues.

Almost from its launch, Rethinking Psychiatry promoted Scientology, including displaying its materials at events; placing Scientologists on their planning committee; hosting Scientologists as speakers; and showing films produced by Scientology and its propaganda outlet, the so-called Citizens Commission on Human Rights. Rethinking Psychiatry did present materials and views from many other organizations and individuals – most laudable – but always in association with Scientology materials.

Rethinking Psychiatry is not an “organization” in a legal sense; it’s not a nonprofit, and its planning committee members don’t have legal duties. Its everyday leader is Marsha Meyer, who has toiled thousands of hours to pull all the parts of Rethinking Psychiatry together.

When you visit the Rethinking Psychiatry website, you’ll see many names and ideas in common with Mad in America and other forefront mental illness questioning groups. Much of the work of Rethinking Psychiatry was interesting and worthwhile, but promoting Scientology as an equal voice was insulting and dangerous.

I’m not going to explain why Scientology is an active danger to people with mental illness in this post. It’s too tedious a story to tell, and I’m not certain Mad in America has sufficient legal representation to defend my opinions – and those of dozens of notable journalists and legal investigators from all over the world who wrote about Scientology and became subjects of their harassment, lawsuits, surveillance and dirty tricks.

Early on, Marsha approached the Mental Health Association of Portland for support in promoting events from Rethinking Psychiatry. We declined, specifically citing Rethinking Psychiatry’s support of Scientology. Marsha rebuffed our concerns, saying Scientology has a legitimate voice questioning psychiatry. Other members of Rethinking Psychiatry asked for support from Mental Health Association of Portland. Some of our supporters asked Mental Health Association of Portland to support Rethinking Psychiatry. We declined – exclusively because of Rethinking Psychiatry’s support of Scientology.

We disagree with Marsha and with Rethinking Psychiatry’s planning committee: Scientology is not a legitimate voice questioning psychiatry. Rethinking Psychiatry let a fox in our chicken house.

Beyond their website, we noticed Rethinking Psychiatry’s persistent endorsement of Scientology at First Unitarian. Both ministers of the congregation are personal friends of mine. In 2012, I wrote to apprise them of Scientology’s infiltration of their church using Rethinking Psychiatry as a front. The ministry began a dialogue with Marsha, first about not promoting Scientology in their church, and then when that didn’t stop, about Rethinking Psychiatry leaving First Unitarian.

If you’re a congregant of First Unitarian in Portland, and have questions about its decision or want further explanation, contact the ministry directly.

If you have questions about Scientology, I suggest you read “FBI’s Scientology Investigation: Balancing the First Amendment with charges of abuse and forced labor,” from the Tampa Bay Times, or Joe Sappell’s series in LA Magazine, based on his five-year investigation of Scientology.

If you have questions about the Mental Health Association of Portland, I’ll answer them in the thread below.

Response by Jonathan Keyes:

I want to start by thanking Jason for joining the conversation here at Mad in America and I also want to direct people to his fine organization Mental Health Association of Portland.  MHAP is a leading voice in trying to advocate for the rights of folks labeled with a mental illness.

As to the issue of the Church separating ties to Rethinking Psychiatry, there were a number of issues as to why the Church and RTP parted ways, only one of which involved Scientology.  From what I was told, the main reason was indeed due to strong concerns of members of the congregation about the message of critiquing psychiatry brought forth by Rethinking Psychiatry, and not primarily about a Scientology connection.

I want to take this moment to separate out some issues here.  First of all, I deeply appreciate the work of the ministers at the Portland Unitarian Congregation.  They work tirelessly to fight for social justice and to lead and support a congregation that is dedicated to improving human rights.  I support them entirely in their work.  My only hope is that they include more voices dedicated to examining injustice in the mental health arena; if not with Rethinking Psychiatry, then with another affiliate group.  As someone who works as a therapist and has spent considerable time working with people in crisis states, I have seen first hand the damage that is being caused by our modern mental health system.  That needs to be critically examined, and I believe the Unitarian Church should be one of the foremost supporters of reforming modern mental health treatment.

As to the issue of Scientology, this is a tricky subject.  As most people here know, Scientologists have long professed an aversion to psychiatry and have developed an organization, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, that is well funded and critically examines the modern mental health system.  Because of Scientology’s problematic reputation that includes accusations of brainwashing and being a cult, many who seek to reform psychiatry have understandably wanted to distance themselves from this group.  On a certain level, being tarnished with the brush of being allied with Scientology could be seen as enough to ruin the reputation of anyone seeking to reform psychiatry.

I get that, and because of that,  I understand Jason’s strong concerns about Rethinking Psychiatry having any affiliation with Scientology.  The thing is, that “affiliation” just doesn’t exist except on a very cursory level.  I have to take strong exception to the idea that Jason perceives Rethinking as a “front” group that has somehow “infiltrated” the church.  That simply is not true.  They have accepted no money from the Church of Scientology.  Though I have heard of one member once attending the CoS, all of the rest of the members have no affiliation with the CoS.  They don’t engage in ongoing communication with the CoS and certainly take no directives from them.  Again, the notion of RTP being a “front group” is simply not true.

The more important question is whether even a cursory connection to the CoS and the CCHR is acceptable in the form of rarely showing a video of theirs or connecting to some of their information online.  I would have to say that certainly politically it is smarter to cut any ties, even cursory connections to the CoS, for fear of being tarnished.  But does that mean not allowing someone to join who once attended the CoS?  Does that mean a complete disavowal of everything Scientologists say, even when we agree?  These are hard questions.  I know even here at Mad In America, there are blog writers who have connections to CCHR.  Does that discredit everything that is written at MIA?  Does that discredit Robert Whitaker?  I should hope not.

On a number of levels, I have been discussing how the language we use and the associations we keep can affect our ability to engage in effective dialogue with potential allies.  Being seen as even cursorily connected to Scientology, let alone being perceived as a “front group,” can affect the standing of those involved in the movement to reform psychiatry.  As many of us saw in the Today show interview of Tom Cruise, his disparagement of Brooke Shields taking psychiatric drugs while going through postpartum depression was seen as horribly insulting and offensive by millions.  This sadly helped to give an air of “cultism” around anyone who criticized psychiatry.

So yes, if we want to gain more allies, not turn off potential friends and supporters, I personally believe we need to be careful with language and with our affiliations.

At the same time, I know there are others who feel that though we may strongly disagree with the CoS on most matters, they have been one of the strongest groups to fight for radical reform of the system and because of that it makes sense to ally with them.  These are open-ended questions that should be debated.

But I do believe that it is deeply unfair to tarnish a passionate reform group such as Rethinking Psychiatry with the epithet of “Scientology front” group and thus damage their reputation and standing in the community.  On their website, they have specifically written a disclaimer that can be viewed here.  It states quite clearly that:

“We are a fully responsible and autonomous entity, independent of any other organization. As clearly stated on our web site: We accept no funding or control from, nor do we promote any religion, other organization, government entity, corporation, or drug company.

We greatly value our volunteers and their commitment to our values and to sharing the workload burden of a start-up organization. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, sexual orientation, religion or any other group affiliation or identity. We are also fully compliant with the individual rights of freedom of association and assembly as provided for under the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It has come to our attention that concerns have been expressed, questioning at least our ‘perceived’ independence from other groups, specifically the Citizens Commission for Human Rights. We hope this letter is sufficient to put to rest any concerns you may have re such matters.”

I am glad Jason in part acknowledges and praises the really good work that Rethinking Psychiatry has done.  Some of that work includes raising awareness of the problems associated with psychiatric drugs and their over-prescription as well as examining the limitations of hospitalization, coercion, a lack of informed consent and a lack of true holistic alternatives.

Rethinking Psychiatry has put together lectures and symposiums based on developing alternative models of care.  Recently they have been working on a long-term care model for helping people who exit long-term hospitalization known as “Beyond Soteria.”  They also helped put together a weekend symposium attended by hundreds of people to discuss alternative ways to manage emotional distress.  This is very important work and these folks who volunteer their time towards these efforts should be applauded, not denigrated.

Ultimately, I think for most all of us, the goal is to accomplish lasting change, to improve the lives of those who are labeled with a “mental illness”; to provide better information, greater awareness of the issues surrounding informed consent, crisis treatment and psychiatric drugs as well as encouraging and creating non-medical holistic alternatives.  I am sure those goals are shared by both the Mental Health Association of Portland as well as Rethinking Psychiatry.  My hope is that instead of creating more divisiveness, we focus on how we can work together more effectively and develop cooperative strategies for creating effective change.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


Mad in America has made some changes to the commenting process. You no longer need to login or create an account on our site to comment. The only information needed is your name, email and comment text. Comments made with an account prior to this change will remain visible on the site.


  1. For the record, relating to what Jonathan Keyes writes here, I don’t know of MIA “bloggers” who have connections to CCHR. I believe that one blogger, Sheila Matthews, was given an award by that group, but that is it for our regular bloggers. And while we have tried to make Mad in America a forum for people writing from a lot of different perspectives and experiences, we wouldn’t accept, as a regular blogger, anyone who was part of CCHR. To do so would be to open the entire MIA blogger community to the charge, so often used by defenders of the mainstream, that critics of psychiatry are “Scientologists.” If there is a fundamental principle that drives “critical psychiatry,” in a way that really opens up the debate, it is this: if you review mainstream psychiatry’s own literature with a critical eye, it doesn’t support the story mainstream psychiatry has been telling to the public. Their own data calls out for rethinking psychiatry. If any taint of Scientology gets into that criticism, it harms the impact of that criticism, and for that reason, we have sought to keep MIA bullet-proof against that criticism.

    Report comment

    • Out of an enormous site filled with the posts of thousands of people, MIA has absolutely no overt connection to CCHR. However, there have been posts here by writers who have connections to CCHR but are not promoting that group. Bob, you mention Sheila Matthews There is also John Breeding, also a CCHR award winner and a previous board adviser.

      And this is very similar to Jason’s argument…that a cursory connection to CCHR is enough to paint all of Rethinking as a “Front” group. Absurd.

      Report comment

      • This reminds me of the argument that many progressives used regarding right wingers who are publicizing the plight of Justina Pelletier, essentially discrediting them becaose of who they were. As a progressive myself, I was extremely disgusted as the issue was the abuse of this poor teenager and nothing else.

        The issue that everything needs to focus on is how psychiatry is generally abusive and stop with the smokescreen issues like using the scientology argument at every opportunity to discredit folks like us who have very legitimate concerns. It is really getting old and needs to stop.

        Report comment

      • Also, this notion that endorsing a particular work that a church does means that one endorses the church as a whole, including its failed policies, is a standard that nobody asks from any other church.

        Are those who receive help from Catholic Charities USA, one of the country’s largest charitable organizations, endorsing the Catholic church’s rapists and its policy of covering up the rapists?

        There is a lot of bigotry going around. The bigotry Scientology and CCHR are regularly subjected to is no different from the bigotry survivors of psychiatric abuse are subjected to by the media at large when people with mental illness are portrayed as “dangerous” and people who deserve to have their civil rights abused.

        Report comment

    • “Mad In America is a community forum for people interested in rethinking psychiatric care. It is important that people with differing views feel welcome to contribute their thoughts. We ask that contributers posting comments be mindful of that goal. We find that comments that attack a person’s character or underlying motives tend to shut down the dialogue. Please be civil and avoid posting comments of that type. See our Posting Guidelines for more details”

      ^The above is part of the guidelines for posting on this site. I find it amazing that we are essentially shunning (from the ‘community’), people who may have thoughtful opinions of psychiatric practice. If I were a scientologist, I would not feel that, “people with differing views feel welcome to contribute their thoughts”. I would feel that my criticisms were invalidated based on my religious/personal beliefs.

      Any criticisms of MIA for being related to ‘scientology’ are not addressing the arguments at hand and are more closely related to ad hominim attacks. This shouldn’t dictate who is ‘allowed’ to post on MIA. WE should dictate who offers valid and thoughtful criticisms of psychiatry.

      Report comment

      • Hi MadInFlorida. As the person responsible for seeing that the posting guidelines are adhered to, I’d like to clarify that Scientologists are welcome to contribute their thoughts to the discussion along with anyone else. Bob’s post pertained to people invited to blog on the site, not the conversations that take place here in the comment threads.

        Report comment

        • Toe-mae-toe, toe-ma-toe. I do not agree that someone should be shunned from contributing to the site based on their religious or spiritual beliefs. Those in charge of the site are free to do as they please, however, I believe that silencing one’s voice because they may invite criticism is no better than those would be criticizers, who are dismissing their statements based on the speaker’s religious beliefs.

          Report comment

      • When saying something like “which is seen as a scientology front group,” one should say more than that; by whom is it seen as such? What is the evidence that would support such a statement?

        I asked Sheila Matthews about Scientology connections, because I knew that Ablechild had received an award from CCHR, and so the question might come up. I knew, though, that her commitment to the issue is long and deep, and not motivated by Scientology. Her answer was “. . . as a 501c3, I do not have any political or religious affiliations. On a personal level, I appreciate CCHR’s work, but Ablechild is not aligned with CCHR. I also appreciate the support Ablechild receives from Mad in America when you post our pieces. And, if this is any help, I am a life-long Roman Catholic. I hope this answers your questions.”

        So, unless you are prepared to present evidence to the contrary, you should be careful with such allegations.

        Report comment

        • Anonymous and several other websites lists them as a Scientology front group, but they don’t write why they think it’s a front group.

          But there is a lot of evidence that the ties between Scientology/CCHR and AbleChild are strong:

          A news articles on their website by a Scientologist (John Mappin) who writes about a Scientologist (Sebastian Sainsbury) who talks about a Scientologist (Tom Cruise):

          The source is PRWeb, which is used by Scientology for pushing news:

          If that is not enough evidence, guess who was (or is?) on the CCHR’s Board of Advisors:

          Sheila Matthews, Patricia Weathers (the founders), Mary Ann Block, and John Breeding are listed here (all four on AbleChild’s Board of Directors).

          I see Scientology and CCHR as one and the same.

          Report comment

          • Hi E. Lie. You wrote:

            “E. Lie Silly wonders why a crusade against Psychiatry is totally in line on MiA (within the comments), but criticizing Scientology is out of line.”

            The answer can be found in our mission statement: “The site is designed to serve as a resource and a community for those interested in rethinking psychiatric care in the United States and abroad.”

            Thus, a “crusade against” psychiatry is in line with the mission and purpose of this site (as a more extreme version of it), but a crusade against Scientology not so much. The following forum might be a more appropriate place for that:

            I agree with other posters that accusing an MIA blogger of “guilt by association” is essentially a straw man argument, and something of a distraction from the topic of this blog post. As moderator I ask that you take a moment to review our posting guidelines for the site:

            Thanks, and I wish you the best in your fight.

            Report comment

          • Emmilie,

            I disagree. Dianetics (“The Modern Science of Mental Health”) is one of the pillars of Scientology. CCHR the Scientology organization that executes their crusade against psychiatry. Scientology’s goal is to replace psychiatry with their unscientific idea of “mental health”.

            If Scientology is infiltrating the antipsychiatric movement, I don’t see why it is off topic to criticize that.

            Report comment

          • That’s just the point, E. You are presuming “infiltration” based on association. Just because Sheila doesn’t condemn Scientology as you do doesn’t suddenly make her a “front group.” It should not surprise anyone that CCHR would support others’ efforts to expose psychiatry’s destructive behavior – that is, after all, their stated mission. The fact that they approve of someone doesn’t mean they’re financially supporting or controlling that person. To suggest that is to use the same kind of innuendo and undermining tactics that psychiatry has been employing for years.

            Sheila is entitled to her opinion and is not required to agree with you. There are also a number of posters on another recent thread who describe getting support from CCHR without any apparent attempt to proselytize about the CoS – are they dupes or “front groups” as well? Your implication that her positive opinion of CCHR and/or Scientologists she has known somehow means she’s a “front group” is WAY out of line.

            I am glad Emmeline has chimed in here, because her opinion about what is appropriate matters more than mine. I would like you to stop attacking our allies, and if you don’t, I’m hoping Emmeline will use her authority to remove your attacking posts. You are not helping either of your purported causes.

            — Steve

            Report comment

          • Steve: “That’s just the point, E. You are presuming “infiltration” based on association. Just because Sheila doesn’t condemn Scientology as you do doesn’t suddenly make her a “front group.””

            Sorry Steve for wasting your time, but my comment you’re referring to was not about Sheila or AbleChild.

            It was about the relevance of discussing Scientology/CCHR in the context of the antipsychiatry movement(s).

            Scientology does infiltrate. They do go after people with “harassment, lawsuits, surveillance and dirty tricks”.

            I don’t get it, why people voluntarily want to get involved with Scientology/CCHR. Maybe the same reasons why people voluntarily get involved with psychiatry?

            Report comment

        • Kermit,

          Thank you for your input here (on July 14, 2014 at 9:03 pm); I’m glad you’ve stepped in, to defend Sheila Matthews, as I believe commenter E. Lie Silly is way out of line, on this matter.

          By this point, it seems E. Lie Silly is apparently purely determined to crusade against Scientology and has decided that the best way to do this, is with innuendo and by smearing everyone who has had the courage to stand up and associate himself/herself with CCHR.

          Indeed, s/he is attempting to lead a witch hunt (for Scientology members) in these MIA comment threads.

          As someone who, long ago, was, himself, treated by psychiatry, as a witch (to be either drowned or burned with ‘heavy meds’), I find that sort of crusading to be reminiscent of NAMI’s tactics, really completely disgraceful behavior.

          Imho, some of the very best alternatives to psychiatry are faith-based belief systems (because, in fact, psychiatry itself is a kind of religion); imho, no one who is seeking refuge from psychiatry should be judged or persecuted for finding his/her way to Scientology; and, this should be a forum where everyone is truly welcome to believe in whatever faith they choose to believe…



          Report comment

          • E. Lie Silly wonders why a crusade against Psychiatry is totally in line on MiA (within the comments), but criticizing Scientology is out of line.

            E. Lie wonders why Jonah thinks the s/he wants to damage (witch hunt) Sheila Matthews.

            S/he just thinks that there is plenty of evidence that AbleChild is run by people involved in CCHR/Scientology.

            If MiA want to give Scientology a platform, that’s MiA’s decision, but s/he wonders what good will it do MiA.

            E. Lie is neither interested in witch-hunting victims of Scientology nor interested in witch-hunting victims of psychiatry.

            Report comment

  2. First off, I don’t have anything to do with Scientology. I can understand that any movement or organisation that wants to challenge the current western mental health system might want to distance themselves from Scientology.

    That said, where is the line between distancing yourself from the religion but vilifying everything an organisation like the CCHR does. I agree the line is if the CCHR is used to promote Scientology.

    I just think it’s a little ironic to basically question psychiatry but then turn around and say “oh but if drugs help you then these guys are whackadoodle anti drug zealots”, lets face it everyone on this site basically agrees that psychiatry can’t prove what it’s treating, that the drugs are basically bad m’kay. What is the point of being disingenuous about it ?

    So I might be here saying if you feel bad, you don’t have to take an SSRI, but if the person goes and takes the SSRI anyway, then maybe they have the right to do so, but in my opinion they made the wrong choice otherwise why make the argument at all ?

    Report comment

    • Just to add I think it’s important to not be a hypocrite in these matters, if you mention the videos the CCHR makes for instance, how are they “not critically thinking” ?

      Sorry it’s late and i’m rambling.

      Report comment

  3. This is preposterous. So now the survivor movement is falling of the “guilt by association” trap? Really? I am not a Scientologist -I am a Christian and a former atheist. Yet, most of the most educating information on psychiatry out of control I have learned came from CCHR material.

    In particular, I consider their documentary “The Marketing of Madness”

    to be the definitive documentary on out of control psychiatric drugging.

    I spent many hours independently checking each of its claims (since it contains a lot of references to scientific citations and particular people like Biederman, Nemeroff , the critique of Allen Frances to DSM-5 or study 329). What is remarkable about the documentary is that it was produced in 2010, 2-3 years before the DSM-5 controversy exploded.

    I have regularly recommended “The Marketing of Madness” to people who want to learn more about psychiatric out of control and I will continue to do so. To say that this is the same as me endorsing Scientology is preposterous. I copy/paste below a review by an Amazon review that nails it.

    By A. Burwell
    This video is actually a very thorough, detailed view of the world of psychiatry, and in particular psychiatric drugs.

    Yes, it does take a position on the issue, which is that there is a huge industry marketing mental illness which stretches the parameters of “mental illness” to the breaking point to sell psychiatric drugs (and, I might add, for the so-called “treatment-resistant,” direct brain treatments such as electroshock).

    RN points out that much of regular medicine is this way. This is definitely the case, but that is a) a flaw in mainstream medicine; and b) in no way excuses psychiatry from its own excesses, particularly when its leaders trumpet themselves as the “experts” in the field of mental health.

    There are other objections to some of the facts. I see these points in another way. The fact that drugs such as morphine were originally developed for pain does not alter the fact that morphine, an incredibly addictive substance, was also promoted as a solution to mental illness in its day, and led to further (and, it might be argued, worse) addiction. That others beside Freud promoted cocaine does not excuse Freud. Much of the factual objection made by RN covers what was not mentioned — however, this is a film about psychiatry, and I would argue it sticks to its subject.

    Likewise, psychiatric diagnoses, which are often little more than descriptions of symptoms. The documentary shows how psychiatric disorders are literally made up out of thin air by the consensus vote of psychiatrists. Regardless of whether or not other branches of medicine do the same thing, I see this as a pretense of medical authority, which should not be done. It would be interesting to me to see an documentary exposing the lies and deceit of, say, cardiology, but alas, there isn’t one that I know of.

    From what I’ve seen, however, medicine has come a long way in the last two centuries. Amazing advances have saved lives and literally brought people back from the dead.

    Psychiatry, however, has no such track record. In its last 200 years, it has not progressed past the masking of symptoms, and in many cases worsening the prognosis. This is the compelling story shown in The Marketing of Madness.

    RN objects to the people who produced the film — but who cares? They should be congratulated for showing a side of the story not often presented (and rarely presented in the Pharma-dominated mainstream media), and providing the statistics to back it up. Sure, the documentary has a definite, unwavering point of view, but it is a refreshing change from the “other” biased side relentlessly poured out in the media. (And yes, there are interviews with people with alternative points of view to the mainstream medical approach that RN admits is similar to, and in my view, almost as bad as psychiatry)

    The story is told quickly, and is a really fast three-hour watch, cleanly divided up into distinct chapters, so you don’t have to view it all at once.

    What’s really cool is that there are several sections where psychiatrists even admit that their field has no science and is purely guesswork. I mean, if that’s not good documentary material, what is?

    Report comment

  4. And something else that I want to add. This op-ed is also unfair for the thousands of people who were helped by CCHR in their struggles against institutionalized psychiatry when nobody else would . There are many such examples, but one that gain relatively prominence is that of Maryanne Godboldo, who, just as the Pelletiers, got her daughter kidnapped to be drugged with Risperdal,

    Both Godboldo and her attorney were given CCHR awards.

    I think that this is an example of institutionalized psychiatry using effectively “divide and conquer”.

    Report comment

    • Well said, Can’t Say. I personally know of someone who was rescued from psychiatry thanks to CCHR when no one else was stepping up to the plate. So I guess since I am grateful for their efforts in this case, I am a Scientologist by association.

      (rolling her eyes at this absurdity)

      Report comment

      • Agreed, AA, totally absurd.

        I, for one, would not hesitate to call CCHR if I ever get committed again. It is unlikely, since I was committed under a different standard -and the Tim Murphy bill seems to be going nowhere. In any case, as they say, if you fool me once, shame on you, if you fool me twice, shame on me 🙂 .

        Among the contingency plans that I have in case I was ever committed again, calling my local CCHR chapter is probably the most important. I also have the contact of my state’s agency part of the National Disability Rights Network but when it comes to being highly effective confronting institutionalized psychiatry, CCHR beats them all.

        In fact, while the APA doesn’t fear any of those who limit their activism to “just talking”, they have named CCHR as a declared enemy . So from the APA point of view, making CCHR toxic for other branches of the antipsychiatry/survivor movement is a winner.

        Report comment

  5. I understand why people want to distance themselves from CCHR and thus Scientology. Unfortunately, the PR of the psychiatric profession and the drug companies, really one and the same, has made it impossible for anyone to evaluate CCHR’s activities in an objective way.

    I’m certainly no Scientologist, and I would keep plenty of distance between myself and them regardless. But at the risk of being tainted, I have to say that a lot of the materials CCHR puts out about psychiatry and its abuses are some of the best out there.

    This wasn’t always true, and the stuff that used to emanate from CCHR was pretty cult-like. Now I think some of the arguments and facts they publicize are very useful to our cause.

    Again, I am certainly no admirer of Scientology. But the psychiatric profession has far more blood on its hands than the Scientologists.

    Report comment

  6. Scientology never attacked christian churchs with blasphemy but psychiatry does.

    Sept. 2012: “Jesus’ experiences can be potentially conceptualized within the framework of Paranoid Schizophrenia or Psychosis NOS. Other reasonable possibilities might include bipolar and schizoaffective disorders. … hyperreligiosity … Suicide-by-proxy is described as “any incident in which a suicidal individual causes his or her death to be carried out by another person. … a Supraphrenic” (The Role of Psychotic Disorders in Religious History Considered, Evan D. Murray, M.D. Miles G. Cunningham, M.D., Ph.D. Bruce H. Price, M.D., The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2012; 24:410-426)

    In the late 1800s, psychiatrists first sought to replace religion with their “soulless science.” Today the assault on religion continues with devastating effects.

    Report comment

  7. The authors have analyzed the religious figures Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and St. Paul from a behavioral, neurologic, and neuropsychiatric perspective to determine whether new insights can be achieved about the nature of their revelations. Analysis reveals that these individuals had experiences that resemble those now defined as psychotic symptoms, suggesting that their experiences may have been manifestations of primary or mood disorder-associated psychotic disorders. The rationale for this proposal is discussed in each case with a differential diagnosis. Limitations inherent to a retrospective diagnostic examination are assessed. Social models of psychopathology and group dynamics are proposed as explanations for how followers were attracted and new belief systems emerged and were perpetuated. The authors suggest a new DSM diagnostic subcategory as a way to distinguish this type of psychiatric presentation. These findings support the possibility that persons with primary and mood disorder-associated psychotic symptoms have had a monumental influence on the shaping of Western civilization. It is hoped that these findings will translate into increased compassion and understanding for persons living with mental illness.

    Or it is hoped that these findings will translate into increased belief in the DSM billing bible in the process of bashing the real one ?

    Report comment

  8. I agree 100% with Cannotsay, Ted, Barrab and the general tone of these comments. The “Scientology Smear” has been a tactic of the psychiatric community from the early 1990s. It is an evil strategy that involves 1) intentionally demonizing believers in a particular faith community, and 2) associating anyone who disagrees with them with this group. It was and continues to be an intentional marketing ploy by the psych industry that Goebbels himself would be proud of. While I understand the politics of keeping distance from such a group as a means of maintaining credibility, Jason’s statement above actually aids and assists the psychiatric marketing team by reinforcing their message that Scientologists are all ignorant fools or devil’s spawn and that none of them could have independently come to the conclusion that psychiatry as practiced is a dangerous undertaking that needs to be reformed or abolished.

    I will remind everyone that the film festival showed a film from NAMI as well as one from CCHR. And in truth, the CCHR film got critiqued a lot more strenuously than the NAMI film did. The representative running that film appreciated the feedback and provided it to those who produced the film. There is absolutely no way that their film, any more than any other film, was promoted as the absolute truth, nor were the doors closed to an open-ended discussion of any issue raised by any of the films in the Festival. RTP is a very open-minded group that welcomes participation from anyone who supports its mission. To exclude someone because they believed in Scientology would be as unlikely and as inappropriate as excluding someone for being Catholic or Jewish.

    It is high time we all identified the elephant in the room. We can’t continue to allow the “Scientology Smear” to succeed, regardless of anyone’s personal experiences (haven’t actually heard any of those so far) or beliefs about Scientology. It is simply UNACCEPTABLE to tarnish all people of any religious faith with the same brush – it is the kind of bigotry that we all so strenuously oppose in the “mental health” system.

    I reiterate from earlier posts: any attempt to blackball or discredit someone for being or being associated with Scientology should be met with a strong retort along the lines of:

    “What on Earth does a person’s religious beliefs have to do with the lack of scientific support for the current system of psychiatric treatment?” Or, “I am not going to allow you to distract us from the important questions at hand by using an ‘ad hominem’ attack on some other group that has no impact whatsoever on your practice.”

    We cannot afford to allow this practice of “guilt by association with someone who has guilt by association with someone else” to go forward unchallenged!

    —- Steve

    Report comment

    • Steve

      You have repeatedly stated on this website that the issue of distancing or detaching oneself (or in this case, MIA) from Scientology and CCHR is a form of bigotry and against religious freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth! We agree on most issues, but on this one you have not done your homework regarding an evaluation of the true nature of Scientology.

      Please research some of the key distinguishing signs that denote how an organization can come to be defined as a cult. If you compare those key distinguishing signs with some of the first hand accounts and stories of those people who have left Scientology, you will no longer mistake this organization as a religion.

      MIA’s decision to completely separate itself from Scientology and CCHR was one its most important initial strategic positions that helped guarantee its continued growth and expansion of influence in critiquing today’s mental health system.

      I personally would not blog here or invest my time in promoting this website if it was in ANY way connected to Scientology or any other cult like organization. I believe I am not the only blogger here who feels this way.


      Report comment

      • Richard,

        With all due respect, I believe you miss my point entirely. I have stated below that I understand the political reasoning behind MIA distancing itself from Scientology and/or CCHR as a matter of maintaining credibility. It is simply not worth the time and energy to fend off such attacks, and as this thread clearly demonstrates, it can provide a tremendous distraction from the real issues at hand.

        My point is that it is neither necessary nor prudent to respond to any ad hominem attacks regarding Scientology (or anything else) with attempts to expose the ‘”real truth about Scientology” or to waste any time saying, “No, I’m not, you’r wrong!” or “See, those other guys supported Scientology and now everyone hates them!”

        If we wish to be effective, we need to label these tactics for just what they are – attempt to distract the public from the real debate. It is never helpful to buy into these tactics by denying such association nor by agreeing with the attacker regarding the bad character of the attacked party. The proper response is ALWAYS to confront the attacker with the attempt to change the subject and avoid the issue at hand. It is obvious from the reactions to this thread that Jason’s presentation was divisive and distracting and has wasted a huge amount of energy talking about something that really does not matter one iota in terms of our overall goal. That’s what Psychiatry wants us to do – to splinter, to bicker, and to waste our energy on trivial issues while they continue to dominate the landscape.

        It is interesting that we are very careful here to distinguish between “Psychiatry” as an institution, while at the same time making sure we state that individual psychiatrists don’t all necessarily fall under that rubric. Why would that not apply to Scientologists? Is every one of them evil? Why would we allow psychiatry or anyone else to paint a group of people as all being the same because of their belonging to a particular group? Isn’t that what psychiatry does anyway? Group people together and condemn them?

        We have no responsibility here to defend or explain away concerns about Scientology or CCHR as organizations, nor do we have an obligation to join forces with them politically. But we do have an obligation to point out the vicious tactics being used to reorient the debate using slander and bigotry and ad hominem attacks, because those tactics are broadly used by Psychiatry to condemn all critics. We don’t benefit anyone by saying, “Don’t worry, we’re not like them” or “We think they’re bad, too.” We do ourselves and anyone else in the field of resisting the current biopsych paradigm a big favor by calling out these tactics for what they are, each and every time we see them, and not letting those using them get away with it for one second, no matter what group or characterization they choose to use as the distraction.

        —- Steve

        Report comment

        • Steve

          I completely agree with your point about not accepting your political foe’s (in this case, psychiatry’s) attempt to avoid criticism by diverting attention away from their crimes by using some kind of “guilt by association” ruse.

          Especially since the 1950’s there have been similar historical examples of “redbaiting” anyone critical of capitalism or anyone taking a leftist political position critical of the American government. These types of political attacks must be opposed and exposed.

          However, Steve, when you have defended your position on this issue in this particular blog discussion and in previous related discussions, you have ALSO raised the issue of religious bigotry related to Scientology. It is around this point that I have raised my criticism of PART of your position.

          If one views Scientology as a dangerous cult that does serious harm to its members, and especially makes it extremely difficult for people to leave their organization (according to numerous personal accounts by former members), then it makes sense for MIA to not want such an organization having open access to promote its views on this public website. Such an organization could use MIA as a public forum to promote its own backward agenda and recruit members into its nefarious clutches.

          To the extent that I understand what MIA’s standards for publication and related code of ethics are, I am convinced that Scientology could not meet that standard. It is for this reason that I support their decision to bar Scientology and its front group CCHR.


          Report comment

          • And as I said, I am in agreement with Bob’s decision to keep things politically clear by choosing not to allow CCHR or a Scientologist as a blogger, and have never said otherwise. I am glad you agree with my larger point.

            — Steve

            Report comment

      • The problem is, ANY non-traditional religious, spiritual or philosophical organization can be characterised as “cult” by its opponents, especially if these opponents are either anti-theists or traditional religionists. I myself live in Russia, and the dominant religious force here – Russian Orthodox Church – denounce ALL non-traditional spiritual (or, at least, spirituality-related) organizations as “cults”, even if they show no signs of “cultishness” at all.

        The same is true for the USA and Christian fundamentalists. These people would easily describe Esalen Institute as a “cult”, while – I hope anyone here would agree – it is definitely NOT one! And I like to see Esalen speakers, such as Michael Cornwall, here on MIA.

        So, I prefer not to use the word “cult” at all. It is nothing but a pejorative label with little (or no) substance behind it.

        However, despite all I said above, I approve Robert Whitaker’s decision not to let Scientology-related people on MIA. Call me cynical or overly pragmatic, but we simply cannot afford it. Critics of psychiatry worked long and hard to show people that they are NOT Scientologists; this was the only path to have at least some respectability, and to be heard by the general society. The movement founders, like Szasz and Breggin, made a terrible mistake when they started playing with Scientologists – it gave coercive psychiatrists a powerful rhetoric weapon against them. That’s why Breggin had to work all his life to clean his name from the associations with Scientology.

        So, while I feel no special antipathy towards Scientology, I would vote against letting it on MIA. It would be a fatal mistake, which will simply erase all the progress we have made so far.

        After all, the voices of pro-spirituality people, including academicians and practitioners of spirituality-based mental health theory and practice, such as transpersonal psychology, are fully allowed and encouraged on MIA – the situation which I like. For now, it would better to remain this way. We have a lot of material from the people from non-traditional spiritual paths and organizations already, and we are going to have more.

        Report comment

      • “I personally would not blog here or invest my time in promoting this website if it was in ANY way connected to Scientology or any other cult like organization. I believe I am not the only blogger here who feels this way.”


        Do you not see Psychiatry as a “cult like” organization? And, do you not view NAMI as a “cult like” organization, that’s funded mainly by Big Pharma, to promote Psychiatry? (Of course, you well know, that there are bloggers on this MIA website who are leaders in NAMI; so, unless you say otherwise, I’m going to presume, from what you’re saying in your comment, that you do not view NAMI as “cult like.” But, I do view NAMI that way, and I know many others who do, likewise…)

        The Psychopharmaceutical Industrial Complex (PPIC) has created a vast web of cult like organizations.

        Of course, I know that, as you eschew ‘Biological Psychiatry’ (hence, you may describe that currently prevailing/most-dominant realm of psychiatry, as “cult like”).

        Frankly, I see all of the “mental health system” as cult like; and, certainly, medical-coercive Psychiatry, which maintains its ultimately forceful dominance over that system, is, of course cult like. I feel it’s quite reasonable to say that, because medical-coercive Psychiatry preserves for itself the ‘right’ to forcibly alter the brain function of those whom it declares “seriously ill” — while showing no proof whatsoever of any existing illness. It is a very dangerous cult, indeed — far more dangerous than is any officially declared ‘religious’ organization… because it can and does literally force “patients” into accepting “medications” that make them appear as though ‘ill’.

        (Here I tip my hat to the cult like family — and the even more cult like educational system — that lent me enough good sense to eschew Psychiatry, not too long after it sunk its poison-filled fangs into my life.)

        Respectfully, I leave you to ponder your above-mentioned, self-described absolute aversion to all “cult like” organizations… and offer the following passage from a very good series of articles, by Evelyn Pringle, titled “The Psychopharmaceutical Industrial Complex” (it’s from the 3rd article in her series of five articles, all of which I think you’ll appreciate).

        The Psychopharmaceutical Industrial Complex (PPIC) is a symbiotic system composed of the American Psychiatric Association, the pharmaceutical industry, public relations and advertising firms, patient support organizations, the National Institute of Mental Health, managed care organizations, and the flow of resources and money among these groups, according to an October 1, 2009 paper in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling, by Dr Thomas Murray, director of Counseling and Disability Services at the University of North Caroline School of Art.

        Murray’s paper draws parallels between cult indoctrination and PPIC techniques and notes the similarities between cult members and mental health consumers who are vulnerable to losing their identities to the PPIC.

        The PPIC and “its adherence to the disease model pervades mainstream culture and greatly impacts psychotherapy,” he says. “Consequently, the effects of the PPIC may have resulted in some psychiatric consumers adopting disease-model messages in ways similar to cult indoctrination.”

        “Consumer adoption of the disease model can create obstacles to treatment when hope is fundamental,” he advises.

        Murray says his most difficult cases “involve clients who have in essence been drawn into the PPIC and have become resigned to the disease model with little sense of empowerment to overcome their emotional problems.”

        “These are the consumers who have little self-efficacy and little hope that they have options other than to suffer,” he reports.

        “Insurance companies rely on pharmaceuticals to contain costs (and limit psychotherapy sessions), and reimbursement depends on a diagnosis of a diseased brain,” Murray notes.

        Report comment

        • Hi Jonah

          I stand by my comment regarding Scientology and cults. While you are correct that there are some cult like characteristics to psychiatry and NAMI, I don’t think they fit the entire definition of a full fledged cult. Nor do they need to fit that definition in order for me or others to want them to leave history’s stage as soon as historically possible.

          Among psychiatrists there is a whole range of individuals from the most extreme Biological Psychiatrists to The Critical Psychiatry Network. As far as I know, if someone leaves the psychiatric profession or NAMI they are not hounded, stalked, intimidated, and harassed with extreme forms of mind and behavior control; at least not yet, anyways.

          Jonah, I did appreciate your source material and the overall critical approach you are taking.


          Report comment

          • Richard,

            Thanks for your kind words of encouragement, at the end of your comment, and please excuse me, as I press on, here, just a bit further, with my point of view…

            Your ostensibly very logical positions, now re-stated, in this thread of comments, to Steve, continue to draw my attention. I.e., here, as follows, I am replying not just to your comment reply to me; I am remarking, critically, upon your latest reply to Steve (above, on July 8, 2014 at 9:00 pm).

            I feel compelled to do this, as you are making a certain amount of good sense, in some ways, but you are also, I believe, nonetheless, failing to acknowledge the ‘elephants in the room.’

            That is to say: Though you now say to me “you are correct that there are some cult like characteristics to psychiatry and NAMI, I don’t think they fit the entire definition of a full fledged cult,” I strongly disagree, and I sincerely believe you are actually associating with some dangerous cult leaders, who are blogging, here on this MIA website.

            To illustrate this point of mine, what I am doing in this comment, as follows, is simply quoting your own words (the one paragraph that seemingly jumps out at me, which you’ve just posted, to Steve); only, I’m substituting the words “medical-coercive Psychiatry” for your word (“Scientology”).

            “If one views [medical-coercive Psychiatry] as a dangerous cult that does serious harm to its members, and especially makes it extremely difficult for people to leave their organization (according to numerous personal accounts by former members), then it makes sense for MIA to not want such an organization having open access to promote its views on this public website. Such an organization could use MIA as a public forum to promote its own backward agenda and recruit members into its nefarious clutches.”

            Also, Richard, I offer you your own concluding words to Steve (but with my couple of bracketed changes, which are, again, simply to bring your attention to the ‘elephants in the room’):

            “To the extent that I understand what MIA’s standards for publication and related code of ethics are, I am convinced that [medical-coercive Psychiatry] could not meet that standard. It is for this reason that I [would] support their decision to bar [medical-coercive Psychiatry] and its front group [NAMI].”

            Though you needn’t feel pressured to offer a response, Richard, I sincerely wonder if my perceptions, as such, are fully meaningful to you. (I wonder, because you have recently said to me, in a comment, that you actually are opposed psychiatry’s uses of force. You indicate that, reading my ‘story’ of psychiatric “treatment” through my comments has had a significant impact. Since you say that, I presume you really are coming to understand how such ‘treatment’ tends to overwhelm “patients” who are subjected to it — how it can easily make them into slaves of Psychiatry… at least for some number of weeks, months or years.)

            Remember, when introduced to medical-coercive psychiatry, I was not someone who believed that psychiatry was a legitimate field of medicine; but, I was repeatedly forcibly drugged — until, at last, I could not help but lose my sense of self and finally surrender…

            Tell me: How many victims of Scientology were literally forcibly drugged into believing that they could not possible survive without their religion?



            P.S. — Please see:

            Report comment

          • Some of the bravest, most revolutionary people I know have been attacked by this system on the grounds that, among other things, they are members of a “cult.” Urban youth are similarly mistreated for allegedly being members of a “gang.” It’s one of those terms you have to be careful about, like “sociopath” — at the top of a slippery slope.

            Also most religions started out as cults. Who controls this definition?

            Report comment

  9. I think some commenters here are missing the central point. CCHR has its own forum for criticizing psychiatry. Fine. So does Scientology. Fine. But, on this site, there is a political reality here, and the truth is that mainstream psychiatry has used Scientology as a convenient tool to delegitimize all criticism. That is what I am protecting Mad in America from, plain and simple. I don’t want to give anyone the chance to use that tool against this site (and me personally.)

    E. Fuller Torrey raised that flag when I wrote Mad in America, writing that it seemed to be a book written by a Scientologist. Anatomy of an Epidemic was recently translated into Swedish, where the very first review–quite vicious, I must say–raised the Scientology criticism. That is a code word to a larger readership, telling them not to worry about the criticism, this writer has no credibility, and the people who use it in this way know it is.

    So ,that’s the political reality. From my point of view, Mad in America has to be able to respond to such charges (slander really), and this is the only way to do it. And to deny that reality, and say that it is absurd to want to protect MIA from that charge, is to be politically naive.

    Report comment

    • As a practical matter, I totally understand and agree with your political decision. I believe it is legitimate to make political decisions with the long-term goal of change in mind. I am certain from your writings that you understand the tactics described in my post above.

      I believe Jason’s commentary goes way beyond that and buys into slandering Scientologists as a means of clearing himself and/or his organization from that artificial “taint,” in essence buying into that taint rather than simply choosing politically to avoid the conflict. He actually supports psychiatry’s tactic and uses it to slander RTP and Marcia in a public forum. That, I cannot support.

      It is always great to hear your voice on these forums!

      —- Steve

      Report comment

    • Bob,

      I respectfully disagree with your analysis. The problem is, as Jonathan says below, where do you stop?

      If I remember it well, when “Anatomy of An Epidemic” came out you you were portrayed by the “intelligentsia” in company with AIDS denialists. In fact, “skeptic” websites like Steven Novella’s or put all who question the scientific validity of psychiatry in company with those who are irrationally “anti science”.

      I understand the politics, but I think that by repudiating MIA bloggers connected with CCHR, the only ones scoring points are those who benefit from mainstream psychiatry current legal status.

      Martin Luther King has been attributed several times the quote “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed”. Anybody thinking that by “playing nice” to the APA, meaningful change is going to be accomplished misunderstands this basic fact of human nature.

      As an example, take the case of Justina Pelletier. Boston Globe’s writer Joanna Weiss was surprised that the fight for her freedom had united “Anonymous, Glenn Beck, and Scientologists” as well as a whole lot of other people of very different political and social backgrounds. Guess what, it took 6 months of intense activism since the first news of her case aired, among other places here in Mad In America, but Justina Pelletier was finally freed on the parent’s terms. Each of those constituencies was instrumental in making Boston Children’s Hospital, aka Harvard, capitulate. They would not have done a complete 180 had it not been for the support of all of them.

      As some people have already noticed, if I were to be given the choice of spending the rest of my life in an isolated island with 10 psychiatrists or 10 CCHR members (regardless of their Scientology association), I take the 10 CCHR members anytime.

      Meaningful change will not be achieved by playing nice to the APA. It is one thing to repudiate members of the KKK, quite another to repudiate members of a church that is recognized as such by the United States government.

      You mention the translation of your book to Swedish. Sweden’s neighbor, Norway, considers Scientology a cult. Now, Norway also has one of the highest rates of involuntary commitment in Western Europe,

      “The overall study generated incidence rate for civil commitment based on “involuntary referrals”, “treatment periods” and persons involved were 259, 209 and 186 per 100,000 adults/year, respectively. For patients admitted for involuntary observation only, the mean duration of deprivation of liberty was 8.5 days, compared with 34.3 days for those admitted for long-term detention, representing 37.8% and 86.6% of the total inpatient period, respectively. The submitted records to the Norwegian Patient Registry (NPR) were incomplete and had missing information at two of the four hospitals. Moreover, when official civil commitment rates based on the NPR data were computed, almost 30% of all admissions were routinely excluded. Civil commitment in this study was higher than corresponding figures based on registry data. In general, civil commitment rates as reported by the NPR seem to be an underestimate.”

      Which one you prefer, a country that considers Scientology an acceptable religion that also protects the civil rights of those labelled by the APA, or a country like Norway that, while banning Scientology, has involuntarily committed one of every 500 of its citizens. Again, to me it is a no brainer.

      Report comment

    • Bob, first of all thanks for this site & everything else. Also:

      “As a practical matter, I totally understand and agree with your political decision. I believe it is legitimate to make political decisions with the long-term goal of change in mind.”

      I want to affirm my agreement with this principle.

      That said — I’m saying this generally, not in regard to this specific incidence — I think it’s a mistake to back down from any bully, especially a paper tiger like Torrey. If pointed out for what it is in a clear way, I think the fact that he tries to avoid the issues by creating a diversion is something that can work in our favor. I also think a “Torrey Task Force” could pull together all his contradictions and expose him once & for all.

      It may be however that at this moment MIA does not have the political “muscle” to stand up to certain forces, which is a decision only you can ultimately make, and I would urge everyone here to respect this. I believe MIA is almost indispensible at this point in history (I realized this in a panic when the site briefly went down recently) and that the political/philosophical/theoretical connections which are currently being forged here, to understate matters, will prove invaluable over the coming years. So MIA is certainly worth protecting, should that ever be the bottom line.

      Report comment

  10. This is the larger issue. Tactics. Strategies. “Getting a seat at the table.” Politics. How we come across, the affiliations we keep…makes ammunition for those who oppose our views. I absolutely understand the bottom line is that we are trying to reach as many people as possible, and if opponents…or in this case…folks I see as allies…use the “Scientology” ammunition to discredit us, then we reach less people. Less change happens on the ground, etc.

    At the same time, where do you stop? Do you angrily usher out any person who is a scientologist from the room? Do you avoid all contact, event cursory? How about other controversial groups? Hard core libertarian conservatives? Strong advocates of natural medicine? Angry protesters willing to be confrontational with the psychiatric industry?

    I mainly agree with Bob that we have to be politically smart to protect reputations and for the sake of reaching more people. But I am concerned with losing inclusivity, splintering into factions (as is the case here) that don’t listen to each other.

    Report comment

  11. I agree with Robert.

    This site cannot afford to be painted with the Scientology brush, no matter how useful some of their material might be.

    I myself, a layperson and psych survivor, have been called a Scientologist in response to my reasonable criticism of the psych industry. It is a tactic that very effectively shuts down debate, because how do you prove a negative?

    Note carefully that Peter Breggin (who is married to a former Scientologist) is careful to distance himself from this organization (I hesitate to call it a church) and recently rebuked a guest on his podcast show for making frequent referrals to CCHR.

    Report comment

  12. Rethinking Psychiatry took money from Scientology. No one should approve of that–it defeats the very purpose of opposing the psychiatric establishment. You know about Scientology, if you are well informed, and recognize that it uses the same tactics as abusive psychiatry–i.e. circular logic, invalidating the individual’s opinions and feelings, strict dogma and control, and retaliation if questioned or resisted.
    The above is what I posted in the comments on the original article. I know Scientology and what I’m talking about. So does Jason Renaud. As he suggests, investigate the material that Anonymous worked very hard to get released on the internet. Check out Ex-Scientologists Message Board. But to understand fully, you must talk to people who have actually experienced Scientology and know beyond a doubt how abusive and fraudulent it is. Otherwise you’re just not going to make sense. Scientology and Psychiatry are twins. Ugly twins with the same motivations: power and money and manipulating good people who want to do good in the world.

    Report comment

    • Portland Rethinking Psychiatry took money from Scientology? Not as far as I have ever heard- on their website they specifically state…

      “We are a fully responsible and autonomous entity, independent of any other organization. As clearly stated on our web site: We accept no funding or control from, nor do we promote any religion, other organization, government entity, corporation, or drug company.”

      Report comment

    • Ann, you are again speaking of what you don’t know. I addressed this in another post. RTP has a tiny budget that is entirely from donations from members and visitors to symposia and other events. We never took a dime from anyone. I don’t know why you insist on spreading this disinformation?

      My point again is that this forum is not about what is wrong with Scientology. It is about what is wrong with what passes for “mental health treatment.” We could talk about how the Catholic Church allowed its priests to molest young children for years without consequence, or how the US government helped overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran in the 50s, or how Nestle Corporation continues to market infant formula in third world nations, leading to millions of deaths of babies from mixing the formula with polluted water and meanwhile increasing the birth rate by suppressing nursing. But none of those things are RELEVANT to this discussion, and by even entertaining this topic, I believe we harm our own cause.

      Please stop acting as if you know what happened in Portland. You do not. I don’t want to have to keep responding to your distortions of fact. Let’s get back onto the topic of stopping the psychiatric juggernaut.

      — Steve

      Report comment

    • I guess I should begin this comment with I am not, nor have I ever been a Scientologist. And my little bit of research into that religion (and I’ve researched lots of religions) left me thinking it was a bit bizarre, however, to each his own IMHO.

      But I am grateful for CCHR’s work, as it gave me hope and information, when I was dealing with all supposedly “credible” professionals around me spewing belief only in psychiatry (my ex-mainstream religion and the medical community – whose goals it were, according to all my family’s medical records, to cover up the abuse of my child and a “bad fix” on a broken bone, via psychiatric defamation).

      But I think Ann’s comment, “Scientology and psychiatry are twins ….” brings us back to Monica’s link:

      And the question, why is psychiatry’s biggest adversary a religion? Based upon my research, and I think most here may agree with me, it may be because psychiatry has no scientific validity and really should not be considered as anything more than a state sanctioned anti-spirituality religion (because at least in my case, according to medical records, I was misdiagnosed and “snowed,” for belief in the “Holy Spirit” and “God”). According to my medical records, psychiatry is anti all who have spiritual beliefs at all, rather than belief in their DSM “bible.”

      But I will remind anyone who reads this that there is another blog currently on, and previously posted, on MIA:

      And Mr. Whitaker clearly states in his commentary attached to this blog that he is either an agnostic or atheist (forgive me, Bob, for not remembering which, I always confuse the two).

      The bottom line is, this is a website about the scientific validity of the psychiatric industry and their drugs, not about religions and / or religious beliefs. Whether one believes or doesn’t believe in a Higher Power isn’t what we argue about here, and shouldn’t be the realm of the medical community either. But, psychiatry claims it is their realm. That’s why their biggest adversary is a religion.

      Report comment

    • Ann:

      What are you talking about? Where are you getting your information? I am not a member of Scientology. I’m a cradle to grave Episcopalian, if you care. But your stupid accusation is baseless. Do you have a personal vendetta with someone within Rethinking Psychiatry or did you find our message of hope and recovery, including that there are pathways to recovery without medications too disturbing?

      I’m a member of the core group of Rethinking Psychiatry and I would be happy to personally email you the entire budget of our last conference so you can see how ridiculous your claim is that we accepted money from CCHR! My email is [email protected] if you are really that concerned.

      What nonsense! We pass the hat and scrape for every dollar to get an alternative message out to the community; We roll up our sleeves and get donations. Sometimes we even are able to scrape $25 to $50 from organizations for the privilege of tabling at our conference. Is that the CCHR money you are referring to? $25? Whooo. Big money. You can really buy a lot of color copies at KINKO’s with that kind of money. Three years ago, our big hitter was $100 from MindFreedom. Whoo. Big money. Most of the consumer organizations who table at our event don’t give us any money because they have no money. Who has the money? Big Pharma of course. Would you be happier if we invited Glaxo-Smith-Kline and Eli-Lily to table at our events to bring ‘balance’? If we did, we could serve cavier at our event.

      The drug companies continue to pour billions into marketing and lobbying and when we try to bring some balance to the debate we get slammed by people like you. No wonder the drug companies get away with murder. With NAMI parents as their hacks, we who desperately try to create solidarity with our loved ones and examine alternatives that are more humane, can be painted as people who are not sympathetic to the suffering of the ‘mentally ill’ or worse yet, people who collaborate with strange cults. What’s next? Accusations that we have orgies with animals?

      No doubt, you were quiet as a mouse when Senator Grassley forced NAMI to reveal that they receive over HALF their national funding from big PHARMA and they receive MILLIONS.You are swatting at a gnats when you are swallowing a camel. Guess you like NAMI’s message of forced treatment and mental illnesses as being chemical brain imbalances and nature over nurture.

      Do you feel personally threatened that a family member of yours may actually be exposed to some of the alternative perspectives at our events? If so, I’m sorry that many of us with loved ones in the mental health system find it so painful to consider that our loved one were harmed deeply by psychiatry because many times, we ganged up against our loved ones and ‘sided’ with psychiatry until our loved ones spirits were broken and they became compliant and docile. It is painful to consider that we bargained with the devil to achieve ‘stability’ for our loved and that n0w they may be only shadows of their former selves, due to over medication; often our loved ones are permanently damaged and unable to reach their fullest potential. Sometimes, we parents were traumatized by things that happened to our loved one, such as an incarceration and we would do anything to keep from reliving a particular nightmare, including putting them under chemical restraints.

      This can be very unsettling but don’t kill the messenger. Try to have the courage to be open minded.

      Report comment

      • Oh, and by the way – we also had a table from Cedar Hills Hospital, a nearby private psych hospital that is getting interested in looking into alternatives to their traditional diagnose-and-drug paradigm. If we were a CCHR front group, would you really imagine Cedar Hills Hospital would be allowed to run a table, or that a NAMI-sponsored film would ever be shown?

        We really have no agenda other than helping anyone interested in alternatives see what they are. I think it’s pretty damned impressive that we have a group that could encompass the views from CCHR to NAMI to Cedar Hills Hospital without coming apart at the seams. We may have our failings, but we’ve done pretty damned well in the inclusiveness and open-mindedness domain. I hope that puts any “front group’ discussions utterly to rest.

        —- Steve

        Report comment

  13. I was a member of a UU church for over a decade, not anymore. When I was unable to care for myself due to psych drugs, filthy and starving, it was some conservative Christian friends who helped me clean and feed myself. A few UUs did sit at my bedside, sitting there and waiting for me to die apparently. They were just like the system, and if I had to choose between Scientology and the system, I’d choose the former. UUs, promoting religious tolerance and advocating for the mentally ill, as long as you’re not affiliated with Scientologists and your depot is UTD.

    Report comment

  14. The alternatives-to-psychiatry racket was up and running long before psychiatry. There have always been quacks of various sorts willing to deal with difficult people. For the longest time the method was persecution, exile, starvation and death. More recently it’s been incarceration, harassment and poisoning. The constant has been the authorities make money, the identified patient gets screwed.

    That constant is unlikely to change.

    A housekeeping task of consumer-led mental health leadership is to demarcate the complete quacks from the at-least-not-so-very-dangerous racketeers. Out here in Oregon there’s a popular Catholic priest who performs exorcisms, usually on children with psychosis. I’ve seen addictionologists prescribe benzodiazepines for alcoholic patients, methadone for opiate addicted patients, and medical marijuana for pot addicted patients. I’ve met $400-an-hour psychoanalytic M.D.’s who discuss dreams and favorite film scenes with the worried well. I know a psychologist who puts a diode in the rectum of prisoners, shows them porn loops and sprays the scent of feces when they get an erection. I’ve known people who died of old age in our state hospital.

    So yes it’s hard to draw the line. Experience helps.

    There’s an intellectual development period in social justice movements where these lines are hotly debated. Who is us, who is not us. Eventually, by consensus, the lines get defined. The definition leads direction, purpose, resources. It’s the beginning of a foundation for the next generation to move forward. Nothing moves forward without them.

    And yes, ad hominem arguments are simple, effective, frustrating. What defeats them is a common clear understanding of direction, purpose and resources, which comes after the “who is us, who is not us” period.

    Participating effectively in that debate takes critical reasoning skills, curiosity of the human condition, a deep understanding and respect for points of view you don’t share, effective communication tools, and a firm loyalty to the common good. This debate is disorganized, unfair, full of lies and tricksters and gossip, terrifying, tearful and often hilarious, and an absolute prerequisite to progress.

    If drawing a line is difficult, there is a simple solution – step aside from leadership.

    Report comment

    • Jason- As you can see plainly from this thread and the members of Rethinking, these folks are far from being a “Front” group for Scientology. They are passionate, inclusive, and willing to do an enormous amount of volunteer work to make things better.

      I call on you to apologize. I call on you to apologize to the members of Rethinking Psychiatry who have been damaged by these false claims.

      If you are truly friends with the ministry at the UU, let them know that you made a mistake and were unfairly harsh in your accusations.

      For all the good work that you do in the community, these types of false accusations will make you seem less reasonable and less credible. They will make you seem mendacious and vindictive.

      I know all the good work that you have done protecting innocent people from injustice. In this case, I call on you to reflect, think about your words, and think how they are causing needless damage to good people who are also fighting to protect people from injustice.

      Report comment

    • Did everyone get the official memo? Step aside from leadership folks. The constant power structure is dead, long live the constant power structure. The consensus has spoken and we are not us. Some people just aren’t up to drawing the line in the right place.

      Report comment

  15. Actually I think this debate is essential.

    Tho Jonathan & I have not exactly been peas in a pod, this whole thing stinks and the excuses being given are bs.

    I should start by stating that if the Portland MHA is anything like another one I know of it is more of a shill for psychiatry than a true representative of survivors’ interests, despite its occasional usefulness for this or that individual.

    Regardless, why are people afraid of being associated with Scientology and not of being associated with Glen Beck?

    I agree with Ted, like it or not CCHR has come up with some excellent, irrefutable documentary materials about the history of psychiatry. During my active organizing days we also distanced ourselves from CCHR because they did try to horn in on our activities, but they did respect it when we said “NO,” nobody was pressured or harassed or anything.

    But this is NOT about Scientology, it is about changing the subject and smearing the messenger. I have problems with every organized religion if I can think of. But if a Catholic organization put together a damning expose of psychiatry, would we let someone get away with trying to discredit it by saying it was made by Catholics, and we know that the Catholic Church has employed pedophile priests, therefore the anti-psychiatry information is “tainted”? I doubt it.

    When people try to divert it means that they’re afraid of your information. It’s not the time to retreat but to charge!

    Report comment

    • Well said! We need to attack the change of subject, not validate it by trying to deny our association with their chosen scapegoat. We need to bring it back around to the question; why ARE you changing the subject? Why DOES it bother you so much to talk about this? If you are so scientific, where are your data? Why are you reduced to trying to discredit the messenger with sophomoric rhetorical tricks?

      It is amusing in a way that psychiatry is so upset by “competition” from a religious group that they are so anxious to denigrate as superstitious quacks. If they’re that foolish and easily misled, why are the psychs afraid of them? I agree with SomeoneElse’s comment – I think that psychiatry unconsciously KNOWS it is a religion and can’t allow there to be competing dogma, since there is no actual scientific or rational basis for their belief system. I always thought it particularly telling that the term “diagnostic Bible” somehow spontaneously emerged to describe the DSM and has been readily embraced by our culture, and that psychiatry has done nothing to combat that appellation. Maybe everyone knows it’s really a religion deep down.

      On a more practical note, it’s possible that they know their drugs work largely through the placebo effect, so warding off alternative beliefs is essential to their technical “success.” In any case, I am glad so many are seeing this for the distraction that it is. We should close this down and get back to talking about psychiatry!

      —- Steve

      Report comment

      • “We need to attack the change of subject, not validate it by trying to deny our association with their chosen scapegoat. We need to bring it back around to the question; why ARE you changing the subject? Why DOES it bother you so much to talk about this? If you are so scientific, where are your data? Why are you reduced to trying to discredit the messenger with sophomoric rhetorical tricks?”

        YES. YES. YES. Where I come from it would be seen almost as a gift for an opponent to try such a blatant diversionary tactic. Of course to defeat it it’s important to make it clear to all what’s going on, otherwise the loaded attacks may have the effect they are intended to.

        How is the Scientology ruse different from the “staw man” arguments that people who post here face moderation for making?

        Report comment

  16. What am I talking about? I gave a workshop at the 2012 Rethinking Psychiatry Conference and was introduced by Marcia to a gentleman from CCHR and told that Scientology had funded the conference. Later, when I told Marcia I had been close to Scientologists for fifty years and had studied in it myself and been declared “Clear,” she said she wasn’t interested in hearing any information. Okay.

    FYI, Scientology is structured like any fundamentalist religion: you are either in or out. If you’re in, you are expected to use any tactic (CCHR is just a recruiting tactic, believe me–plus, Ron Hubbard didn’t want any competition from psychiatrists–he wanted to prey on people without interference from other sociopathic organizations!), any lie, etc. to get people “to the Lord.” If you are outside Scientology, you are a “wog”–a term used by colonialists to denigrate and degrade the dark-skinned races they conquered and adopted by Ron Hubbard to convey his feelings about people who didn’t submit to his dogma.

    Again, if you haven’t studied Scientology extensively or been in it, you simply can’t say anything about it without being in error.

    Report comment

    • I believe you misunderstood what you were told, or else he misstated the situation. As far as I know, and I am quite certain I know more than you do about it, there is no connection between the Church of Scientology and RTP. There is a member of CCHR Oregon who has been a faithful and hard-working volunteer from the beginning, but at no time have I heard any promotion of Scientology as a religion from him or anyone else. Of course, he has shared CCHR materials at times, including the film I mentioned, but so has NAMI and the Cedar Hills psychiatric hospital. Beyond the tabling fees, we have received no money from CCHR or the CoS.

      You assert personal experience with Scientology, which I have no reason to doubt, but your comments are still out of order in my book. You appear to believe you know more than people who are actual members of the RTP group about our own activities, and despite MadMom letting you know she keeps the accounts and that we are getting no money from Scientology, you continue to assert that because of a comment you heard in 2012, you know more than she does.

      It is my concern and belief that by continuing to try and use the “Scientology Smear” to denigrate RTP, you not only perpetuate untruth and injustice, but you support the very organization, namely organized psychiatry, that we come here to debunk and combat. You lend credence to their assertion that that being associated with the CoS even by rumor or happenstance is de facto proof that anything you say is to be discounted, no matter how well-founded in fact your position may be. I ask you to stop now. You’ve spoken your piece, but it appears to me that your personal feelings about the CoS are allowing you to do harm to people (RTP) who have done nothing to harm you, for no reason that has anything to do with the mission of this website, and inadvertently aiding and assisting those you appear to be opposed to. I ask you to refocus your energy on not allowing psychiatry to use ad hominem attacks to distract people from the real issues at stake, rather than validating psychiatry’s patented tactic by using it against people who you should see as your allies in this struggle.

      —- Steve

      Report comment

      • Steve,

        Your entire comment (and every other comments that you’ve posted in this string) is very well said.

        RE “There is a member of CCHR Oregon who has been a faithful and hard-working volunteer from the beginning, but at no time have I heard any promotion of Scientology as a religion from him or anyone else.”

        I think it would be absolutely great if you could, perhaps, kindly persuade that person to submit a blog post to the MIA editor, so s/he could offer the MIA community his/her own view of this situation.



        Report comment

        • P.S. — Steve,

          Of course, I well realize that Bob Whitaker is basically indicating, in his comment, above, that he would not allow such a person to post a blog on this website (being that the blogger is someone known to be directly associated with Scientology), but I think Bob could well use a bit of a wake-up call on this matter.

          Would Thomas Szasz (himself a CCHR co-founder) in being associated with Scientology, have been denied an opportunity to post a blog on this website, I sincerely wonder?



          Report comment

          • I am familiar with that web page, Francesca.

            What Jeffrey Schaler explains there, is that, “Thomas Szasz is not now nor has he ever been a Scientologist or a member of the Church of Scientology…”

            (Of course, we should ignore this fact, that that web page is referring to Szasz as though he was still alive and kicking, as that page is apparently more than ten years old, and we know Szasz passed away not quite two years ago now — in September of 2012.)

            In any case, I think it’s reasonable to say, that Szasz was “associated with Scientology,” not only by way of his co-founding CCHR (which is run by Scientology) — but also by his having allowed his own name to be used, by CCHR, in the honoring of its award recipients… and, also, by his accepting invitations to speak, at certain CCHR-sponsored events.

            How often he did that, I don’t know; but, see the following brief (but, imo, quite wonderful) video, titled “CCHR Co-Founder Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus”


            There you can see Szasz speaking at what must be a CCHR-sponsored function. (I say it must be CCHR-sponsored, because the CCHR logo adorns the podium, at which he’s standing.)

            Also, if you have time, I suggest you watch “Psychiatry the fraud” in which (opening credits explain) the featured speaker is “Dr. Jeffrey Schaler, Psychologist and Professor at American University, 2006 Thomas Szasz Award Winner”


            (Judging from the obvious visual similarities in the backgrounds, of both those brief video talks, and judging from the appearance of the speakers, I believe, probably, they are from a single CCHR-sponsored event, of eight years ago.)

            I am no expert on Szasz (nor on CCHR or Scientology); simply, as far as I know, from what I’ve gathered thus far on the Web, Szasz never distanced himself from CCHR.

            And, personally, I don’t think that he should have, as I have never heard of any wrongs being done to anyone, by CCHR; in fact, some of the videos that CCHR have posted online are very well done, positively informative.



            Report comment

          • Yours points are all well-taken, but I disagree about the blog idea, especially at this time, for the simple reason that to do this would be playing into the false notion that the RT scandal has anything to do with Scientology, period. It would be accepting the attempted diversion by debating the red-herring issue as tho it were real. There has been no sentiment expressed on this site or anywhere recently regarding CCHR/CoS; why suddenly shift our focus as a result of this? It would be a kind of capitulation to
            those who are trying to avoid the real issues.

            Report comment

          • Jonah, the fact that Szasz was one of the founders of CCHR has never been in dispute. We’re talking about the religion of Scientology as a whole, not the organization called CCHR. Szasz was a devout atheist.

            You are of course correct that Szasz is no longer “still alive and kicking,” however I doubt he changed his mind about Scientology after he died 🙂

            (As an aside, it is not unusual to use the present tense in such instances, e.g. “Freud says ….” or “Shakespeare says ….”)

            Report comment

  17. Why is Scientology opposed to psychiatric abuses?

    As the stepchildren of the German dictator Bismarck and later Hitler and the Nazis, psychiatry and psychology formed the philosophical basis for the wholesale slaughter of human beings in World Wars I and II. Psychiatry uses electric shock, brain-mutilating psychosurgery and mind-damaging drugs to destroy a person and make him “docile and quiet” in the name of “treatment.”

    Psychiatric methods involving the butchering of human beings and their sanity are condemned by the Church. Scientologists are trying to create a world without war, insanity and criminality. Psychiatry is seeking to create a world where man is reduced to a robotized or drugged, vegetable-like state so that he can be controlled.

    Scientologists do not believe that psychiatrists should tell their patients what they think is wrong with them. This interjects lies or ideas which are not true for the individual himself, thereby violating his basic integrity. Scientologists believe that one should find out for himself the source of his troubles since this gives him the ability to improve conditions in his own life and environment.

    Scientology and psychiatry will always be working at cross-purposes. Scientology is a religion and recognizes that man is a spiritual being. Psychiatrists view man as an animal. Psychiatry is strongly opposed to all religions as it does not even recognize that man is a spiritual being.

    Scientologists disagree with the enforced and harmful psychiatric methods of involuntary commitment, forced and heavy drugging, electroconvulsive shock treatment, lobotomy and other psychosurgical operations.

    By the Creed of the Church of Scientology, the healing of mentally caused ills should not be condoned in nonreligious fields. The reason for this is that violent psychiatric therapies cause spiritual trauma. At best, psychiatry suppresses life’s problems; at worst, it causes severe damage, irreversible setbacks in a person’s life and even death.

    source of this

    Report comment

  18. I stated what I know from my own experience to be true. Those who respect facts will respect my comments. Unfortunately, all over MIA we have people–psychiatrists included, not just victims–who are pushing agendas based on other priorities rather than what is factual. That’s why the reform of psychiatry movement is where it is–bogged down.

    Buddhist saying quoted by Allen Ginsburg: “Love of the truth puts you on the spot.”

    Report comment

    • Which is precisely the point I am trying to make. The agenda should be to reform psychiatry. Part of that is not participating in their favorite tactic of ad hominem attacks. Having a distracting discussion of why the 1st Unitarian Church decided to stop hosting RTP and who received money from whom and why the CoS is really a bad organization does not forward our cause – it plays into psychiatry’s hands. My sense is that it is your agenda that was off topic and distracting – you seemed more interested in defending the UU Church and attacking Scientology than doing anything to advance our movement’s cause. My effort throughout has been to get us back onto the much more important topic of how to handle ad hominem attacks and the “Scientology Smear” tactic. Casting aspersions on RTP or anyone else working toward reform is at best in very bad form.

      Or to put it another way: just because you think something is true doesn’t mean it is helpful to share it. Besides which, I believe it would be much more appropriate for you to put your “facts” in context of where you heard them, and not invalidate other people’s facts, especially when they are much closer to the situation than you are. For instance, I believe your “fact” that RTP is a Scientology front group has been thoroughly discredited by both MadMom’s and my counter-facts. Don’t you think you were a little out of line making such an accusation based on such limited evidence?

      I think you should check your facts more thoroughly, or at least state them more tentatively with provisos on where you got them, rather than assuming that somehow you got the whole story from a brief conversation two years back and from third-hand rumors you heard through the grapevine. You can hurt people and our movement by speaking too freely about things you are not fully informed about. To paraphrase your own earlier comment, if you weren’t a part of RTP, “you can’t say anything about it without being in error.”

      —- Steve

      Report comment

  19. Here we go again, that was to be expected:

    L. Ron Hubbard:
    “The DEFENSE of anything is UNTENABLE. The only way to defend anything is to ATTACK, and if you ever forget that, then you will lose every battle you are ever engaged in, whether it is in terms of personal conversation, public debate, or a court of law. NEVER BE INTERESTED IN CHARGES. DO, yourself, much MORE CHARGING, and you will WIN.”

    Report comment