Why Scientology opposes psychiatry
We have already seen how Scientology views mental illness to be due to engrams (Scientology speak for implanted traumatic memories). However, in order to truly understand their opposition to psychiatry we need to look at the Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
Hubbard conceived what you could rightly call the ‘non-germ hypothesis of disease’, which he called ‘Dianetics’. The basic ideas behind Dianetics are that traumatic memories, which Hubbard called ‘engrams’, could be stored in a portion of your brain called the ‘reactive mind’. According to Hubbard these engrams could become restimulated causing a person to behave irrationally. He believed that contacting and clearing all of these engrams from the reactive mind could make a person more logical, more rational and more intelligent. This process involves a one-on-one counselling session with a Dianetic auditor. Hubbard also opined that these engrams caused psychosomatic ills, and that his Dianetics procedure could relieve such psychosomatic ills such as asthma, allergies and arthritis.
The first essay on Dianetics was published in May 1950 in ‘Astounding Science Fiction’ Magazine. The book ‘Dianetics: Modern Science of Mental Health’ was published later that same year, and made many extravagant claims about Dianetics’ ability to cure psychosomatic ills and improve intelligence.
Dianetics was not received favourably by the scientific and medical communities upon its release. The American Psychological Association passed a resolution in 1950 to “draw attention to the fact that these claims are not supported by empirical evidence of the sort required for the establishment of scientific generalisations.” Two experiments that were carried out into Dianetics were also unfavourable. You can access these by clicking the following links (both link to external sites): ‘Dianetic Therapy: An Experimental Evaluation, 1953’ and ‘An Experimental Investigation of Hubbard's Engram Hypothesis (Dianetics)’.
It must be emphasised at this point that Hubbard was adamantly claiming Dianetics to be a science. However, with setbacks like being sued by the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners for practicing medicine without a licence forcing his New Jersey foundation into bankruptcy, he reinvented his ideas. Thus, in 1953, Hubbard founded the first Church of Scientology in New Jersey.
Hubbard came to believe that the criticism of Dianetics was due to psychiatry, whom he also believed controlled the world’s governments. The following extract is from Ron’s Journal 67, and serves to illustrate the depths of paranoia involved here. You can download the audio by clicking here (700Kb mp3).
"Our enemies are less than twelve men. They are members of the Bank of England and other higher financial circles. They own and control newspaper chains and they, oddly enough, run all the mental health groups in the world that had sprung up …Their apparent programme was to use mental health, which is to say psychiatric electric shock and pre-frontal lobotomy, to remove from their path any political dissenters … These fellows have gotten nearly every government in the world to owe them considerable quantities of money through various chicaneries and they control, of course, income tax, government finance — [Harold] Wilson, for instance, the current Premier of England, is totally involved with these fellows and talks about nothing else actually. They organise these mental health groups which sprung up simultaneously all over the world and anything that has mental health in it — in its name — or mental hygiene or other things of that character — such names as that — are part of the organisation which stems from these from these less than a dozen greedy men."
The opposition Hubbard felt towards psychiatry is reflected in his Scientology and Dianetics writings and lectures. In the next section we will take a look at some of these writings and the anti-psychiatry sentiments they contain.