The Lincolnshire Echo (A UK local Newspaper) Falls For a Scientology Front Group – Why Does This Happen?

Press ReporterThe Lincolnshire Echo | Citizens Commission on Human Rights claims ADHD is a fake condition | August 29 2015  | Download as .pdf |
View Online | Download as .pdf

The Lincolnshire Echo is a UK local Newspaper which was recently  taken in by a Scientology front group dedicated to attacking psychiatry.

It published the brief article above, which reports a claim that  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is  a fraud, but presents no supporting scientific evidence whatsoever. All it says is:

A mental health watchdog group has claimed that ADHD is a fake condition and could be costing the taxpayer more than £119m a year in benefits payments. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has said in a statement that ADHD benefits claims are providing families with a benefits boost which is difficult to resist.

The Citizen’s Commission for Human Rights (CCHR) is not an official ‘mental health watchdog’ – it’s a anti-psychiatry front group wholly owned by the Church of Scientology, and the CCHR are claiming that parents are conniving with psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies. The parents are supposedly drugging their own children for the sake of the state benefits they receive and the psychiatrists are accused of peddling unnecessary medication.

This is an insult to every parent who strives to look after a child with challenging behaviour and to the psychiatric profession – and it is being reported in a respectable local newspaper. You really would think that the journalists at the  Echo might have asked for evidence to support of this sensational and almost libellous accusation. They didn’t. Why not? And why did they report this story in the first place (it’s hardly local news)?

It would be easy to yield to a conspiracy theory – but the Lincolnshire Echo seems to be blissfully unaware of the real nature of the CCHR. They apparently take the CCHR’s own word that it is a “Mental Health Watchdog”. This is seriously misleading to a UK audience because that term is more usually used to refer to respectable government regulators and grants the CCHR a legitimacy it does not deserve.

Local-newspaperI think the reason is that the business model of UK local newspapers has collapsed in recent years. They used to finance themselves by advertising – everything from local companies to small ads offering a second-hand CD or a dog-walking services. All this has gradually migrated to the Internet, and the local papers have been left out in the cold.

Consequently, they have cut staff to the bone. The few journalists who are left do not have the time to seek out major stories or check facts. They have their work cut out gathering enough information to put out a paper at all. Consequently, they are always glad to have an idea submitted to them. This is likely how this ‘story’ (which is hardly local news) came to the attention of the Lincolnshire Echo – via a press release from the CCHR.

The fact that the”Echo” published it without looking into the motives of the CCHR was lazy and reprehensible – but not corrupt.

Why Does Scientology Hate Psychiatry? The Historical Background

Scientology’s extraordinary hostility towards psychiatry has its origins in the early days of dianetics – Hubbard’s failed prototype for Scientology. Dianetics had a brief vogue in the early 1950s after Hubbard published his first book “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health”.

dianetics bookIn this book, Hubbard claimed that almost all mental and physical diseases  (more than 70% in fact) were due to ‘engrams’ – unconscious memory traces of traumatic events which affected the body and behaviour. This ‘theory’ is incorporated into Scientology to this day.

For an example a person who was severely beaten by an assailant who (rather melodramatically) kept shouting “take that” with every blow became a kleptomaniac, obeying a misunderstood order to steal.

If Hubbard’s explanation for mental disorder seems odd, his attitude towards physical disease is even less credible. In his own words:

Leukaemia is evidently psychosomatic in origin and at least eight cases of leukaemia had been treated successfully by Dianetics after medicine had traditionally given up. The source of leukaemia has been reported to be an engram containing the phrase ‘It turns my blood to water.’”- L. Ron Hubbard, “Journal of Scientology,” Issue 15-G, 1953

Hubbard submitted this ‘theory’ to academic journals specialising in psychology and psychology before the book was published, apparently expecting it to be published to great acclaim. Not only did the professions reject his submission, but their reviews of book were universally scathing.

After the 1950s pulp magazine “Astounding Science Fiction”( in which Hubbard’s fantasy stories were well-known) extensively promoted dianetics he was able to found the “Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation” which (until its collapse and bankruptcy a few years later) was making him considerable sums of money.

Unfortunately for Hubbard, the psychiatrists tried to spoil this for him, too. According to Hugh Urban in “The Church of Scientology: The History of a New Religion” (pg 62)

Hubbard’s followers across the United States were arrested for practising medicine without licences. Thus, in January 1951 The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners accused the Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation Inc. of operating a school for the treatment of disease without a license; and, in late 1953 two dianetics and Scientology practitioners in Glendale, California, spent ten days in jail for practising medicine without a license.

When the  bankruptcy of the dianetics foundations forced Hubbard to start over, he invented Scientology and incorporated an absolute hatred of psychiatry into it.  To Hubbard all psychiatric problems were due to ‘engrams’ accumulated in this (and previous) lives, and Scientology was the one and only way to bring about mental health. To his mind, psychiatrists were obviously jealous of his achievement, and defended their obsolete practices only because they were afraid of losing their social position and income.

Later on, Hubbard elevated this attitude to a conspiracy theory in which every apparent failure of Scientology was actually due to the machinations of psychiatrists and other agencies. Psychiatrists became comic book villains and all-purpose scapegoats. According to Hubbard:

A psychiatrist today has the power to (1) take a fancy to a woman (2) lead her to take wild treatment as a joke (3) drug and shock her to temporary insanity (4) incarnate [sic] her (5) use her sexually (6) sterilize her to prevent conception (7) kill her by a brain operation to prevent disclosure. And all with no fear of reprisal. Yet it is rape and murder… We want at least one bad mark on every psychiatrist in England, a murder, an assault, or a rape or more than one… This is Project Psychiatry. We will remove them.
Confidential memo “Project Psychiatry” (22 February 1966)

Psychiatric medications are condemned by Scientology  as poisons and Scientologists are expected to stop taking them. This includes medication for epilepsy and psychosis. In 2003 the Scientologist Elli Perkins died at the hand of her schizophrenic son, after depriving him from appropriate treatment on the advice of the Church of Scientology despite being diagnosed on a number or occasions.

battlefield earth coverEventually, Hubbard confided in true believers that psychiatrists were actually reincarnations of malicious aliens. It’s not a coincidence that Scientologists refer to Psychiatrists as ‘Psychs’ and the huge psychopathic Alien invaders in Hubbard’s book (and film) “Battlefield Earth” are called “Psychlos”.

This attitude has not mellowed with time. The Church of Scientology maintains front groups like CCHR and motivates recruiters by telling them it is imperative to keep traumatised people out of the hands of psychiatrists and councillors. This is demonstrated by a BBC undercover operation which revealed that Scientology ‘Volunteer Ministers’ in  London worked hard in the aftermath of the terrorist bomb attack on the 11th of September 2001 specifically to that purpose. It records rank-and-file Scientologists openly expressing their misguided hatred of psychiatry and psychiatrists.

To this day, the Church of Scientology maintains an ‘exhibition’ entitled “Psychiatry: AnIndustry of Death” which claims that the 9/11 attacks, the  Nazi holocaust, US school shootings (among other things) were planned and executed by psychiatrists.

What Does the Church of Scientology Gain From this Kind of Propaganda?

rouxI discovered this article in a local  after a tweet from Eric Roux (image right).

A younger Eric Roux appears in this French TV documentary about Scientology which establishes him as a Scientologist and official spokesman/apologist for the the Church of Scientology and its anti-psychiatry front group, the Citizen Commission for Human Rights (CCHR).

The appearance of this kind of article in the mainstream press appears to  supports the anti-psychiatry stance taken by the CCHR. After having planted it, they

Outside of the fringe  anti-psychiatry movement articles like this have little effect. The Church of Scientology’s principal concern is to convince their dwindling membership that the organisation is taking effective steps to ‘replace’ psychiatry with Scientology, as required by their founder L Ron Hubbard.

On the other hand, the doctrines and practices of the Church of Scientology, which deprive recruits from the medications and treatment that they need causes great damage to the lives of vulnerable people every day. Also, the CCHR is only one of Scientology’s front groups.

Others include Narconon (and a number of sub-groups which promote Narconon). This organisation offers drug rehabilitation treatment but actually provides Scientology training instead.

Even cash-strapped local newspapers ought to be able to recognise a special interest group when they encounter one, and not lend them credibility by taking their claims at face value. It’s not hard. The clue was there in the article itself:

The CCHR says it is an international mental health watchdog co-founded in 1969 by members of the Church of Scientology and Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus Dr. Thomas Szasz.

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