Episode 35: Mental Illness Denialism Part 2 - The Citizen's (Scientologist's) Commission on Human Rights Documentary "Psychiatry: An Industry of Death"

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In the second part of their mental illness denialism series, Dylan, Brent, and Forrest delve into Scientology's anti-psychiatry organization, the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights, and their "documentary" Psychiatry: An Industry of Death.

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The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR)

The CCHR was established by the Church of Scientology in 1969 as a nonprofit organization with its headquarters in Los Angeles, California. The CCHR’s stated mission is to "eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections." The Church of Scientology formed CCHR with Thomas Szasz, though Szasz never became a Scientologist.

The early focus for CCHR was on involuntary commitment procedures. In more recent times the CCHR has focused more on psychiatric organizations, specific psychiatrists, and pharmaceutical companies. The organization took on Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Prozac. This apparently caused large commercial damage to the company. CCHR doesn’t believe that ADHD was real so they were part of the campaign for a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer of Ritalin, Novartis. CHADD, the APA were also part of the lawsuit. All lawsuits were dismissed in 2002.

Deep Sleep Therapy (DST) and Chelmsford Hospital

The Australian government held the Royal Commission into Mental Health Services inquiry into Deep Sleep Therapy (DST) from 1988 to 1990. Ten years prior the CCHR was pressing for an investigation into Dr. Harry Bailey, the head of the Chelmsford Private Hospital in New South Wales, who practiced DST from 1963-1979.

A number of patients were apparently killed due to DST while others committed suicide after being treated. Chelmsford Hospital was forced to close in 1990, while two of its psychiatrists faced charges two years later. Prior to this Dr. Bailey stepped down in 1979 because of the campaign waged by CCHR and commited suicide in 1985 by drug overdose. This was on the night before he was subpoenaed to appear in court. Dr. Bailey’s suicide note read, “Let it be known that the Scientologists and the forces of madness have won.”

Blamed psychiatry on almost every bad thing ever. For example: World War I, Hitler, Stalin, and 9/11. This is all literally on display at the CCHR’s psychiatry an industry of death museum located in Las Angeles CA.

Psychiatry: An Industry of Death

On CCHR’s website, you can find a glorious mockumentary movie called “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death”. Oh wait, did I say “mockumentary”? I’m sorry, I meant “documentary”.

I want to go over the main highlights of this so-called documentary.

Chapter 1: An Industry of Death

About one minute in, we hear from a certain Dr. Jeffrey Schaller who says, speaking of the field of psychiatry, quote “They basically believe that everyone is mentally ill.” However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, only one in five people in the United States struggles with varying degrees of mental illness.

About 1 minute and 45 seconds in, a Dr. Ron Leifer comes on and says, quote, “There is not one shred of credible evidence that any respectable scientist would consider valid demonstrating that anything that psychiatrists call ‘mental illness’ are brain diseases or biochemical imbalances. It’s all fraud.”

Around 2 minutes and 45 seconds in, in WHAT KINDA LOOKS LIKE outdoor ambush interviews (again, for the Church of Scientology’s lawyers, not that I’m saying that’s what it is, it just looks like maybe it’s that). Anyway, we’re shown a bunch of people titled “Psychiatrists” from around the world saying what amounts to WHAT LOOKS A LOT LIKE clips taken out of context.

The documentary narrator says they were asked about the scientific basis of their profession. One person just labeled “Psychiatrist -- Norway” says, “We’re not good at causes. We don’t know what causes mental illness.” One labelled “Psychiatrist -- Germany”  says, “Psychiatric illness is not really an illness.” (it appears from his accent that this man’s first language isn’t English, and he puts stress on the word “really” which, again, makes it SEEM like they took him out of context). Another man labelled “Psychiatrist -- United States”, says, “A cure is something we certainly look forward to and have no earthly idea how to accomplish.” The documentary narrator says that these are all just, quote, “excuses”. Or maybe they’re just honest responses to a complex topic taken out of context? I’m just SAYING that MAYBE that’s what’s going on here.

The rest of this part of the video is WHAT APPEARS TO BE pure appeal to emotion on part of the documentary producers, showing interview clips of people who believe they and their loved ones were wronged by psychiatrists and pharmaceuticals.

Part 2: Origins of Psychiatry

The video goes on to WHAT APPEARS TO BE defamation of William Battie, an eminent psychiatrist from 18th century Britain. The video starts with the horrors of early insane asylums, particularly Bethlem Royal Hospital in London, or as it is more derogatorily referred to: “bedlam”. According to the video’s narrator,

Battie’s madhouses made him one of the richest men in England, though his treatments were every bit as inhumane as those practiced in bedlam, with not a single patient cured. His financial success triggered a boom in the asylum business and an opportunity for psychiatrists to cash in on this new growth industry.

John Beard, writing in the peer reviewed British Medical Journal, has a slightly different take on Battie,

A number of Battie's convictions stand out. He promoted the idea that mentally ill people should not be detained just to protect patients and society. Moreover, patients could derive direct therapeutic benefit from spending time in a psychiatric institution. In contrast to much scepticism regarding the curability of mental illness, Battie asserted that madness was “as manageable as many other distempers.” Finally, Battie proposed a division of madness into “original” and “consequential” illnesses, forerunners to the “organic” and “functional” terms used to this day.

Part 3: Man Redefined

The dastardly Behaviorists are brought up, including Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner. I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I hear the word “Behaviorism” I start salivating at the deliciousness of man being reduced to a mere grab bag of conditioned reflexes.

Of B.F. Skinner, the narrator says,

For nearly a year, Skinner isolated his daughter in a box, similar to those he built for rats.” A certain Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld, who’s simply labelled “Author and Educator” elucidates further, “The child was stimulated and had to respond in a certain way, like a chicken or a rat in a cage. Of course, they firmly believe that children are animals. If you believe though that a child is a human being, you can’t train them like a rat.

Snopes had a somewhat different take on this allegation,

When Skinner’s second daughter, Deborah, was born in 1944, Skinner (who then lived in Minnesota) constructed an alternative type of crib for her that was something like a large version of a hospital incubator, a tall box with a door at its base and a glass window in front. This “baby tender,” as Skinner called it, provided Deborah with a place to sleep and remain comfortably warm throughout the severe Minnesota winters without having to be wrapped in numerous layers of clothing and blankets (and developing the attendant rashes). Deborah slept in her novel crib until she was two and a half years old, and by all accounts grew up a happy, healthy, thriving child… The trouble began in October 1945, when the magazine Ladies’ Home Journal ran an article by Skinner about his baby tender. The article featured a picture of Deborah in a portable (and therefore smaller) version of the box, her hands pressed against the glass, under the headline “Baby in a Box.” People who didn’t read the article carefully, or who merely glanced at the picture or heard about the article from someone else but didn’t read it themselves confused the baby tender with a Skinner box, even though the article clearly explained that the baby tender was something quite different…

The funniest part about this is that this very picture is shown in the documentary, and indeed the baby looks totally happy, despite the spooky background music.

Chapter 4: Psychiatry: The Men Behind the Holocaust

This part largely goes over eugenics, which is a hugely complicated topic. I’m not going to sit here and pretend there was nothing wrong with the history of eugenics and its undeniable influence on Nazi ideology. But I’m also not going to pretend it is simply synonymous with Nazism either. This Wikipedia excerpt on eugenics sums up my attitude perfectly, quote: “A major criticism of eugenics policies is that, regardless of whether negative or positive policies are used, they are susceptible to abuse because the genetic selection criteria are determined by whichever group has political power at the time.” I share this criticism. And that’s why I’d say, in a very broad sense, I am against eugenics policies, or at least eugenics policies as enacted by the state.

But even private eugenics practice has its issues. I’m not so sure if it’s a good idea that super rich people can breed their children to be supermodels that have 190 IQs while the rest of us are segregated into a virtual Idiocracy.

Around 3 minutes and 45 seconds in, a certain Dr. Craig Newnes says, quote, “Something like 40 percent of German psychiatrists had joined the SS by 1933. They weren’t forced into the SS. They just joined it naturally because the beliefs were very, very similar.” And while I couldn’t verify this particular claim with the help of Google, there’s no doubt that many German psychiatrists acted as monsters under the Nazi’s T4 program.

Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum appears in this section of the documentary. So obviously he agrees with the CCHR’s underlying message, right? Well, here’s what he had to say about psychiatrists, according to the now defunct Tampa Tribune, quote: "I have known psychiatrists to be of enormous assistance to people deeply important to me in my life.”

Arthur Caplan, bioethicist of the University of Pennsylvania, told the Tampa Tribune of his experience in the taping of the documentary, quote, "They completely bamboozled me. They basically taped me without really disclosing who they were or what they intended to do."

Chapter 5 Psychiatry: Creating Racism

The section discusses a lot of outrageous racist psychiatric ideas. The question of whether or not everything alleged here is true aside, We already went over some certifiably racist psychiatric ideas in the last poste, so we don’t need to discuss anything further except reaffirm the hideousness of these ideas.

Chapter 6 Soviet Psychiatry

This part goes over the deplorable Soviet regime and how they would lock up people under the pretense of mental illness for purely political reasons. Obviously, it goes without saying this was grotesque and needs no further comment.

Chapter 7: Brain Damage: Psychiatry’s Miracle Cure

So, this part is also something we’ve sort of covered in the last episode. Electroshock therapy, lobotomies, insulin shock, metrazol etc… While a lot of this stuff might seem totally barbaric and horrific by today’s standards, it should be noted that they were actually genuinely progressive ideas at the time, as well as the precursors to the kinds of highly effective treatments we have today. Take this from the University of Utah:

For patients with the crippling diagnosis of severe depression, bipolar disorder, or psychosis, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) can be a life-changing procedure. Not only does it work better than medications -- (according to [Howard] Weeks [Md], medications have a success rate of 50-60% of patients getting better, while ECT succeeds at a rate of 70-90%) -- it works faster. Medications typically take up to eight weeks to show improvement. With ECT, I can get them feeling better in two weeks or less… It can also be very effective in patients for whom multiple medications have failed. And when it comes to suicidality, its effectiveness can mean the difference between life and death.”

The thing that needs to be made clear for someone, in order to grasp how such seemingly barbaric practices as lobotomies could possibly be seen in a positive light, is found in the proper CONTEXT. As Dr. E Fuller Torrey writes in reviewing the book Mad in America by Robert Whitaker, a man who incidentally appears in this documentary,

The first half of the book recounts the history of psychiatric treatment in America until 1950. This was the era of Benjamin Rush’s spinning chair, eugenics, forced sterilization, the removal of teeth, and lobotomies. It is a sad history... Nowhere does Whitaker acknowledge that these approaches to treatment were measures of desperation in desperate times. The nation’s overcrowded psychiatric wards were filled with continuously increasing numbers of very psychiatrically ill patients for whom no effective treatments were available.

Chapter 8: Drugging for Profit

This part is largely centered around the conspiracy theory that psychiatrists are all in it for the money by pushing the fraud known as the myth of chemical imbalance. The narrator tells us,

With so much money to be made, all psychiatrists needed was a scientific theory to justify it. Their solution? An official report declaring that all mental problems derive from a so-called chemical imbalance in the brain, requiring drugs to correct.

Now, I don’t want to levy the accusation that the narrator is creating a straw man, I’m just saying it REALLY REALLY sounds like he is. For instance, take this from a Healthline Article,

It’s often said that mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The hypothesis is sometimes called the chemical imbalance hypothesis or chemical imbalance theory... In fact, it’s been largely refuted by the medical community. Researchers argue that the chemical imbalance hypothesis is more of a figure of speech. It doesn’t really capture the true complexity of these disorders. In other words, mental disorders aren’t simply caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. There’s a lot more to them.

One thing that I found amusing is that the report that’s featured in the documentary is forthright in this uncertainty, with the words flashed across the screen, “...all depressions are associated (my emphasis) with a… deficiency of [chemicals in the brain]” and, “...the hypothesis may not be directly testable…”

And so, for psychiatrists just wanting to stuff their pockets full of cash at all costs, I think they could’ve done with less ambiguity in their claims here, wouldn’t ya’ say?

Chapter 9: Psychiatric Coercion and Restraint

Dr. Jeffrey Schaller appears again to tell us,

When you go to a real doctor... Say, a family doctor or a cardiologist, a patient always has the right to refuse treatment. So there’s not such thing as involuntary treatment when it comes to clinical medicine as practiced by real doctors. Psychiatrists of course believe that people can be treated against their will.

Now, I know we went over how early psychiatry was over-reliant on involuntary treatment. But as Dylan alluded to before, these days we almost have the opposite problem.

According to treatment advocacy center.org,

Three forms of involuntary treatment are authorized by civil commitment laws in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Two forms are available in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts and Tennessee, where court-ordered outpatient treatment has not yet been adopted.

Emergency hospitalization for evaluation is a crisis response in which a patient is admitted to a treatment facility for psychiatric evaluation, typically for a short period of fixed time (e.g., 72 hours). "Psychiatric hold" or "pick-up" and other terms may be used to describe the process.

Inpatient civil commitment is a process in which a judge orders hospital treatment for a person who continues to meet the state’s civil commitment criteria after the emergency evaluation period. Inpatient commitment is practiced in all states, but the standards that qualify an individual for it vary from state to state. “Involuntary hospitalization” or another term may be used to describe the practice.

Outpatient civil commitment or “assisted outpatient treatment (AOT)“ is a treatment option in which a judge orders a qualifying person with symptoms of mental illness to adhere to a mental health treatment plan while living in the community. AOT laws have been passed in 46 states, but the standards for its use vary from state to state. “Outpatient commitment,” “involuntary outpatient commitment,” “mandated outpatient treatment” and other terms may be used to describe the practice.”

Szasz himself comes on the screen to tell us,“How many people go to an insane asylum and say, “Please lock me up”? Doctors don’t lock up anybody. Psychiatrists lock you up.”

Shaller omes back to give us a tidbit,

Involuntary commitment is a form of psychiatric slavery where persons are treated as if they’re property, and they are deprived of liberty, and people are making money in the process.

A sizeable portion of the segment SEEMINGLY implies that psychiatric kidnappings, abuses, and torture are routine occurrences. Now, I’m not going to say that there’s never been a case of involuntary commitment-slash-treatment that wasn’t a serious curtailment of civil liberties, nor that no serious abuses have ever been perpetrated in psychiatric institutions. But on the whole, mental-illness-policy.org paints a slightly different and less alarming picture,

Having a law does not mean a state makes use of it. Very few states make use of involuntary outpatient commitment (Assisted Outpatient Treatment, AOT) laws. When inpatient commitment is used, most states still rely on the (quote) “dangerousness” standard, and rarely use the other standards they have available to them. Further, “dangerous” is often interpreted very narrowly to mean “imminently” dangerous.

So what does this term “dangerousness” mean? According to Yale University psychiatrist Brandy Lee, dangerousness is a situational concept, not necessarily intrinsic to the person. So it’s very possible that someone can have latently dangerous delusions or beliefs, but find themselves in a current situation in which they pose no danger, or at least no immediate danger. Speaking of the leader of the free world, Lee says quote, “I’m assessing dangerousness, which is about the situation, not the person. If Mr. Trump were not in the office of the presidency, he may not be dangerous.”

Chapter 10 Psychiatric Criminality

This section discusses various incidents of fraud, sexual abuse, drug abuse, lies, etc… perpetrated by psychiatrists. The narrator says of one truly despicable child rapist, psychiatrist C. Markham Barry,

This is not an isolated incident. It is the carefully masked character of many members of this profession. In every country throughout the world, you can well find psychiatrists committing rape, sexual abuse, murder, and fraud.

The CCHR website specifically alleges,

With studies showing an average of 6 to 10 percent of psychiatrists and psychologists sexually abusing their patients, including children as young as three, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is encouraging victims of such abuse to contact it and speak out… The sexual crimes committed by psychiatrists are estimated at 37 times greater than rapes occurring in the general community, one U.S. law firm stated, estimating that about 150,000 female patients have been assaulted.

The reference to this allegation takes you to a certain Beasley Firm LLC website which states,

Psychiatrists account for approximately 6 percent of all doctors, yet they are responsible for 33 percent of all the inappropriate sexual assaults committed in the medical field. Even more frightening is the fact that those sexual crimes committed by psychiatrists are 37 times greater than rapes occurring in the general community. In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 150,000 females have been sexually abused by their psychiatrists. Psychiatrists themselves indicate that 65 percent of their new patients inform them that previous psychiatrists have sexually abused them.”

Where did this law firm find this information? SURPRISE! There’s no citation. It’s simply stated without evidence. I tried Googling for any evidence of these allegations and could not find a thing. So, if any listeners can find any evidence of these claims, please email us at nonedarecallitordinary@gmail.com.

Chapter 11: Inventing Mental Illness

This section spends a lot of its time trashing the DSM. We already talked about the DSM in detail in the last episode. I leave it to our highly intelligent audience to pick up a copy of the DSM-5 and a used copy, emphasis on ‘used copy’, of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics. And then YOU decide which think is the superior piece of scientific literature. And be sure to let us know your verdict!

In this section, there’s also a lot of interview clips with psychiatrists seeming to admit that their own profession is all bunk. And again, I’m not saying the editors of this documentary misleadingly took their comments out of context, but it sure LOOKS like they did.

And, again, if psychiatrists routinely commit crimes and lie all the time in the service of profit, why are they “admitting” on camera that their profession is bullshit? Wouldn’t they simply proclaim psychiatry infallible? Afterall, L. Ron Hubbard himself wasn’t sheepish about how amazing Scientology is, quote, “Scientology is used to increase spiritual freedom, intelligence, ability, and to produce immortality.”

Chapter 12: Kids in Psychiatry’s Cross Hairs

This section mostly focuses on ADHD and alleged overprescription of Adderall and Ritalin to children. Again, there’s some serious debate about overly prescribing certain drugs and the nefarious influence of pharmaceutical companies on policy. But you know what’s not up for debate? The unethical nature of misleading video editing.

At about 2:45 in, we are shown footage from the 1998 National Institute of Health Consensus Development Conference. A certain Mark Vonnegut is asked to describe ADHD symptomatology. A clock is shown on the screen. Vonnegut begins,

There are uh, I mean, I think the panel has been frank in, you know the difficulties here are immense in terms of um of ummmmm… these... I mean, it is hard, it’s very hard to know how to answer this question.

The clock and footage then  fast forwards a few minutes and we hear him say,

They’re um… they can not… you know, even when…. Um…. Ugh…. they… are as if driven by a mode… there are some good clinical descriptions….”

The clock and footage fast forward yet again and we hear,

And I think, you know, we… uh, I do, I think… part of the problem is the profession keeps changing the diagnosis.” So, I don’t want to disparage the character of the people that put together this documentary. But maybe it’s not quite ethical to put a clip together mostly of someone’s crutch words and brain farts and pretend that it’s representative of what they’re actually trying to say.

I couldn’t find a transcript or original video of this conference, but I did find the National Institute of Health’s official statement on it. Among the conference’s conclusion is the following,

There are wide variations in the use of psychostimulants across communities and physicians, suggesting no consensus regarding which ADHD patients should be treated with psychostimulants. These problems point to the need for improved assessment, treatment, and followup of patients with ADHD. A more consistent set of diagnostic procedures and practice guidelines is of utmost importance. Furthermore, the lack of insurance coverage preventing the appropriate diagnosis and treatment of ADHD and the lack of integration with educational services are substantial barriers and represent considerable long-term costs for society. After years of clinical research and experience with ADHD, our knowledge about the cause or causes of ADHD remains largely speculative. Consequently, we have no documented strategies for the prevention of ADHD.

So, guys, I’d hate to belabor this point, but... AGAIN... why is it that psychiatrists are on the one hand ruthless criminals who will stop at nothing to fill their pockets with measly cash AND YET, on the other hand, are so incredibly careful and honest in discussing the uncertainties inherent in their profession?

Chapter 13 Psychiatry: The Hidden Influence

This section starts out with a video of psychiatrist Dr. Heinz Lehmann saying,

Psychiatry should actually go into government… that politicians should listen to psychiatrists. Psychiatrists should be in every parliament and should direct and monitor political activities.

The psychiatrist G. Brock Chisholm is quoted as saying,

To achieve world government it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism, and religious dogmas.

I searched Google for the origins of this quote and couldn’t find anything credible. Some good folks at metabunk.org were kind enough to look into the origins of this quote as well. This was the conclusion of one member,

The majority of internet pages that provide a citation claim that the original quote comes from a lecture by Chisholm published in a journal called Psychiatry in February 1946… The article/lecture is called "The Reestablishment of Peacetime Society - The Role of Psychiatry"...I have searched the article fairly thoroughly, and I cannot find the quote. If this is its supposed source, the quote appears to be fabricated.

And I searched the article myself too and didn’t find the quote either. Weird! You can search it yourself if you like in the sources section of our website.

The narrator ends this section of the video with,

In the 1940s, psychiatrists announced their intention to infiltrate all sectors of society. This is now a reality. We don’t have an epidemic of mental illness. We have an epidemic of psychiatry. And it’s harming and killing in the name of mental health.


Chapter 14 CCHR: Restoring Human Rights and Dignity to Mental Health

This part goes over how the CCHR’s pure goodness and honesty is the obvious antidote to psychiatry’s corruption and lies.

And so now that I, your faithful podcast host, has taken it upon myself to endure this punishing documentary series so you didn’t have to, I am clearly your savior and messiah. So, I suggest you do everything I say. And if you want to be redeemed, you can start by donating some bitcoin to None Dare Call It a Cult... I mean, None Dare Call It Ordinary!