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2 Scientologists blast organized psychiatry

Title: 2 Scientologists blast organized psychiatry
Date: Sunday, 5 July 1970
Publisher: Press-Telegram
Author: Noel Swann
Main source: link (66 KiB)

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Two Scientologists, one a psychiatrist the other a lawyer, unleashed a scathing attack on "institutional psychiatry" Saturday calling for an all-out war against "suppressive psychiatric abuse."

Both men drew thunderous applause and standing ovations from some 3,000 Scientology followers when they made their tirades during the controversial group's three-day annual convention in the Long Beach Arena.

AND THEIR exhortations were quickly transferred into action as scores of the L. Ron Hubbard disciples signed petitions after the talk demanding to know from former heavyweight champ, Joe Louis, whether he wishes to remain in the Colorado State Psychiatric Hospital.

The first speaker, Dr. Thomas S. Szasz, professor of psychiatry at the State University of New York, expressed the hope that more people (as the Scientologists already do) will recognize that "the alliance between organized medicine and the American government is evil, not good.

And more particularly that the alliance between organized psychiatry (or institutional psychiatry) and the American government has, under the guise of "treating mental illness" actually produced a political apparatus for creating and persecuting deviance."

DR. SZASZ outlined what he saw as the opposing forces in the field of mental health treatment.

On the one side are those who advocate ever-increasing use of "psychiatric force and fraud," he said, by seeking to expand the concept of "mental illness" and using it to justify involuntary "treatment."

On the other are those who seek to restrict the concept of illness to "publicly demonstrable anatomical and physiological disorders of the body."

He summarized this as a struggle between "collectivism and individualism." He said he believes individualism is gaining in the battle, but warned:

"Individual dignity and freedom have their enemies — the most important among them, Communism in the East and Institutional Psychiatry in the West."

The petition signed by the Scientologists states: "We want to know: Where is Joe Louis? We want to hear from him, not his lawyer, his family or his psychiatrist." The group says it will present the petition to the head of the Colorado hospital Monday.

The second speaker, John Joseph Matonis, a Washington attorney, drew the audience to its feet when he introduced himself as the man "who sues suppressive psychiatrists."

MATONIS related a case in which he claimed a patient was held against his will in a mental hospital and submitted to excessive electro-therapy treatment because he had evidenced suicidal tendencies. He said the man, a Hungarian refugee who could not speak English, was ultimately freed on a court order and placed in a productive job by the group Matonis represents, the Citizens Commiteee on Human Rights.

After lashing out at numerous abuses which he says exist in mental hospitals he called for Scientologists to take up the fight by letting "the tortured beings in mental hospitals know you're there and fighting for them."

The group's convention ends today.