All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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|In the light of the current debate about Scientology and
psychiatry, I thought I'd post a taster of a major new piece
which I'm working on at the moment. "Psychwar: Scientology vs.
Psychiatry" (working title) is a comprehensive overview and
exposť of Scientology's and L. Ron Hubbard's views on
psychiatry, the origins of those views and the covert war
against psychiatry which has resulted over the past 40 years. A
lot of very juicy stuff has come out of secret OSA and
Guardian's Office files, which I'll be documenting.
Here's an early version of chapter 4, "The origins of Scientology's hostility to psychiatry". Surprisingly, Scientology was actually quite conciliatory towards psychiatry until the mid-1950s. It's possible to trace the origins of Hubbard's antipathy to psychiatry to a narrow period — around July-August 1955. What triggered this change of attitude I haven't yet determined. See what you think.
The origins of Scientology's intense antipathy to psychiatry in particular and the mental health profession in general are surprisingly difficult to track down. As with virtually every other aspect of Scientology, its views on psychiatry originated with its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. But why was he so vehemently opposed to the mental health profession and what prompted him to take this stance?
There is no sign that Hubbard's views originated in his personal experiences. There is no evidence that he ever underwent psychiatric treatment, though in October 1947 he wrote to the Veterans' Association requesting psychiatric examination and treatment to relieve his prolonged depression and suicidal thoughts . There is no record of such an examination or treatment taking place. At any rate, there is nothing in his medical history to suggest a likely origin for his later views on the mental health profession.
His book, "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health," opens with an excoriating attack on "the practices of the 'neurosurgeon' and the ice-pick which he thrusts and twists into insane minds" in order to "reduce the victim to mere zombie-ism, destroying most of his personality and ambition and leaving him nothing more than a manageable animal."  But the book was far from being merely a rant about the failings of existing practices; its main theme was the theory and practice of Hubbard's radical new approach to do-it-yourself psychotherapy. Hubbard was certainly not hostile to psychologists and psychiatrists per se. His theories bore marked similarities to earlier ideas expounded by Freud at the Clark lectures at Worcester, Mass., forty years previously. Indeed, Freud was explicitly credited as an inspiration in some of Hubbard's earliest books, in dedications which have been removed in later editions.
In other respects, too, Hubbard did not display his later hatred for the mental health profession. Until the 1980s the book contained a preface by Joseph A. Winter, M.D., a Michigan physician who advised Hubbard on medical matters related to Dianetics until the two men fell out in 1951. He wrote of Dianetics "portend[ing] a new trend for psychological and psychiatric thought and practice" and proclaimed that it "offers to the medical profession, to psychiatrists, to psycho-analysts, to all who are interested in the advancement of their fellow men, a new theory and technique which makes accessible for therapy diseases and symptoms which hitherto were unusually complex and obscure." 
Hubbard himself involved psychiatrists in the development of Dianetics, right from the earliest days. The science fiction editor John W. Campbell in 1949 wrote to Dr. Winter informing him of Hubbard's researches: "With cooperation from some institutions, some psychiatrists, he [Hubbard] has worked on all types of cases." When Hubbard's first article on Dianetics was completed it was initially offered for publication to the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Psychiatry. Both rejected it on the ground of insufficient clinical evidence of the technique's effectiveness. A presentation given by Dr. Winter to a group of psychiatrists, educators and lay people in Washington, DC met with a similarly disappointing response:
Some of the psychiatrists — perhaps the more progressive and open-minded ones — had evinced an interest in the novel postulates and intriguing conclusions of dianetics....I did not feel that the Washington venture was a successful one — at least, not from the medical point of view. It was noteworthy that most of the people whose interest in dianetics had been augmented by this presentation were members of the laity, rather than the profession, and I thought that I could detect in their attitudes the fervor of the convert, rather than the cool, objective interest of the scientist. The professional people evidenced an interest in the philosophy of dianetics; their interest was repelled, however, by the manner of presentation of the subject, especially the unwarranted implication that it was necessary to repudiate one's previous beliefs before accepting dianetics. 
Dianetics was eventually announced in the pages of Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction magazine. The follow-up book was published by Hermitage House, a small publisher of medical and psychiatric textbooks. The first edition of "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" even had advertisements for psychiatric textbooks on the rear of its dust jacket.
It is particularly striking, given his later statements on the subject, that Hubbard counselled against reviling psychiatrists because of the "primitiveness" of their methods. Two sentences (my italics below) stand out especially in a lengthy footnote in which Hubbard addressed the failings of existing mental health practices:
Many persons investigating the treatment of the mentally ill by psychiatrists and others in charge of mental institutions are prompted ... to revile the psychiatrist as unworthy of trust and accuse him of using it to conduct vivisection experiments on human beings. That any possible hope of recovery via dianetics may be gone for these unfortunate patients in the majority of cases should not be blamed upon the psychiatrist and neuro-surgeon. These people have only followed their teachings in various universities ... A witch-burning attitude toward these people is very far from the one adopted by Dianetics. Pointing to the fact that they have murdered minds which would otherwise have recovered, labeling them "mind snatchers" and making a horror story out of their actions is far from rational conduct. On the whole these people have been entirely sincere in their efforts to help the insane... Legislation against them such as that recently mentioned by a senator who was familiar with dianetics, horror stories about them in newspapers and a general public antipathy as well as the medical doctor's traditional distrust of them cannot but bring about a disorderly condition. Dianetics is a newly discovered science and is nonpartisan. 
This and other statements in the book give the strong impression that Hubbard's criticisms of psychiatry were for the purpose of contrasting rather than campaigning; that is, to contrast "the modern science" against the primitive methods of conventional psychotherapy, rather than campaigning outright against said psychotherapy in all its shapes and forms. That was to come later.
Dianetics strongly polarised opinion when it was launched in June 1950. Hubbard's therapy found most support amongst members of the public, who responded with enthusiasm to its promises. The book sold very well, appearing for many months on the bestseller list of the Los Angeles Times and other major US newspapers. Only two months after the publication of the book, Newsweek reported that over 55,000 copies had been sold and more than 500 Dianetics groups had been established nationwide. As the Los Angeles Daily News put it,
since the overnight success of his book Dianetics, Hubbard has become, in a few swift months, a personality, a national celebrity and the proprietor of the fastest growing 'movement' in the United States. 
But Dianetics also aroused strong opposition. The FBI received many letters denouncing it as a Communist front, which neither the writers or the Bureau were able to substantiate.  Although some in the medical-scientific community responded positively to Dianetics, the more general response appears to have been scepticism or outright hostility. The Church of Scientology regards this as having been the opening salvo in the "war" between Scientology and psychiatry. To quote its head, David Miscavige:
The first attacks against LRH [Hubbard] and Dianetics are well known. They began almost the day Dianetics came off the presses... Their initial attacks have been mentioned over the years by us. First they got "technical reviews" by psychiatrists hatcheting Dianetics. They published these critical reviews in their psychiatric trade magazines. Of course, these psychs never even bothered to read the book ...
In any event — the AMA [American Medical Association] ran these words of wisdom in critical reviews in their own publications. Then they took these published reviews and handed them out to the press where they were promptly requoted as authority in magazines like "Slime" and "Tripe" [i.e. "Time" and "Life"]. 
It is certainly true to say that the majority of press reviews of Dianetics were unfavourable. Reviewers — primarily medical/scientific specialists, including Hubbard's friend and fellow sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov, a biochemist — attacked Dianetics principally on the basis of its lack of scientific plausibility or empirical evidence. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Isaac Isidor Rabi declared in Scientific American that "This volume probably contains more promises and less evidence per page than has any publication since the invention of printing."  A New York M.D., Dr. Martin Gumpert, denounced it as "a bold and immodest mixture of complete nonsense and perfectly reasonable common sense, taken from long-acknowledged findings and disguised and distorted by a crazy, newly invented terminology" and castigated "the repeated claim of exactitude and of scientific experimental approach, for which every evidence is lacking."  The Consumers Union later highlighted the mixture of professional rivalry and medical concern which underlay the strong opposition to Dianetics. Its rapid growth had "challenged the attention of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and other professional and social welfare organizations," but it was "remarkable that society permits persons without any medical training to treat persons with every kind of mental and physical illness". 
Part of the problem, as the medical and psychiatric professions saw it, was that Dianetics explicitly aimed to cure physical medical conditions, not just confining itself to making people happier or improving their mental health. Hubbard's ally John W. Campbell wrote in a trailer for Dianetics that
Its power is almost unbelievable; following the sharply defined basic laws dianetics sets forth, physical ills such as ulcers, asthma and arthritis can be cured, as can all other psychosomatic ills. 
Among the "psychosomatic" conditions Dianetics claimed to cure or alleviate were asthma, poor eyesight, color blindness, hearing deficiencies, stuttering, allergies, sinusitis, arthritis, high blood pressure, coronary trouble, dermatitis, ulcers, migraine, conjunctivitis, morning sickness, alcoholism, the common cold and even tuberculosis. In total, Hubbard claimed in Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, "70% of Man's listed ailments" could be cured through the use of Dianetics. Conventional medicine, he averred, was "an art, not a science"; Dianetics by contrast was "an organized science of thought built on definite axioms" which "contains a therapeutic technique with which can be treated all inorganic mental ills and all organic psychosomatic ills, with assurance of complete cure in unselected cases".
Hubbard was explicit and definite about his goals in the field of medical healing: "Bluntly, we are out to replace medicine in the next three years."  In a similar vein, he declared that "We are not even vaguely propitiative toward medicine or psychiatry, and we are overtly intent upon assimilating every function they are now performing." 
Dianetics and its 1952 successor, Scientology, were initially organised as a substitute for medicine and psychiatry in particular. Claims continued to be made for Dianetics' remarkable healing potential, for example: "Leukaemia is evidently psychosomatic in origin and at least eight cases of leukaemia had been treated successfully with Dianetics after medicine had traditionally [sic] given up. The source of leukaemia has been reported to be an engram containing the phrase 'It turns my blood to water.' "  In 1953 Hubbard began offering certificates to his Scientology "auditors" which were presented as being the equivalent of medical, specifically psychiatric, qualifications:
The HGA certification ... means Graduate Auditor and is intended to compare with a Dean of Psychiatry. I am following, more or less, in certifications a time-honored pattern which was first begun in the field of medicine and was later followed through in the philosophic and healing arts. It has been customary for the founder of a subject, such as one or another branch of medicine, one or another branch of psychiatry or psychology, to act as the certifying and training agency; and, indeed, today the British Medical Association grants degrees in no other way. And the only degrees for medical doctor granted in Great Britain which are accepted in the BMA are based on the very type of training which we are doing. We are in the stage of doctors training doctors. 
He also offered "doctorate" courses leading to a "D. Scn" (Doctor of Scientology) qualification which, he assured his followers, was "a very superior degree ranking with or above psychiatric degrees". 
At this time, Hubbard usually maintained that he was in dispute only with some of the medical/psychiatric profession. He repeatedly stressed that Dianetics had (despite all appearances to the contrary) found favour with ordinary psychiatrists and mental health practitioners, and that it was only their leaders who were causing problems. For example, in an article which he wrote in a Dianetics magazine in 1951, he claimed:
Under quiet test for over a year in the hands of leading psychologists and mental practitioners, the application of this science [i.e. Dianetics] has been found to resolve cases with considerable ease so that in at least one state all state government treatment of the insane is shortly to be placed under practitioners such as psychiatrists and psychologists who are skilled in this new science. 
Needless to say, this never happened; nor were the identities of these "leading mental practitioners" ever revealed.
Hubbard's sweeping medical claims put Scientology into an increasingly awkward position with the medical authorities. Dianeticists and Scientologists had already been prosecuted in several states for practising medicine without a license. As well as declaring Scientology to be a religion in 1954, which improved its legal defensibility, Hubbard began to clarify his position on medical healing. He outlined Scientology's present position towards medical matters: providing spiritual improvement which causes incidental medical benefits, rather than aiming to provide both medical and spiritual benefits from the outset. As he put it:
Unhappiness, inability to heal, and psychosomatic illness (which include some seventy percent of the illnesses of man), are best healed by immediate address of the human spirit. Illness caused by recognizable bacteria and injury in accident are best treated by physical means, and these fall distinctly into the field of medicine, and are not the province of Scientology, except that accidents and illness and bacterial infection are predetermined in almost all cases by spiritual malfunction and unrest. 
As for medical doctors,
The only place we would limit a medical doctor is in the field of treatment of psychosomatic medicine, where he has admittedly and continuously failed, and the only thing we would ask a medical doctor to change about his practice is to stop taking money for things he knows he cannot cure, i.e., spiritual, mental, psychosomatic, and social ills. 
Entirely reasonable — except that by Hubbard's definition, this included 70% of all human ailments. This continues to be Scientology policy to this day.
Probably in response to continuing legal probes by the medical authorities, Hubbard's view shifted towards outright hostility to the psychiatric profession and its practitioners during the summer of 1955. His shift of opinion can be dated with some precision. His statements up to that summer had been relatively conciliatory towards psychiatry, with repeated statements of opposition to the leadership of mental health organisations and certain practices such as neurosurgery, but with assurances that ordinary mental health practitioners were quietly supportive of Scientology's objectives and that the organisation was not in conflict with them. In March of that year, he had declared:
[Psychologists, psychiatrists and medical doctors] are entirely in error when they express the opinion that Scientologists are against them. Scientology does not consider them sufficiently important to be against ... We have no more quarrel with a psychologist than we would have with an Australian witch doctor. We have no quarrel with a psychiatrist any more than we should quarrel with a barbarian because he had never heard of nuclear physics ... Scientology cares nothing about either medicine or psychiatry. 
A few months later, in July, he sent the FBI two more of his many denunciations of supposed communists. They show a highly significant evolution in his views of his critics: for what appears to have been the first time, he linked communists and psychiatrists together as part of an anti-Scientology front:
The attack made by psychiatrists using evidently Communist connected personnel on the Elizabeth NJ Foundation in 1950 and 51 and the attack made on the Wichita Foundation in 1952 all ended on the same note of reports to IRS and much rumor concerning what the IRS would do. 
The attack on the HASI [Hubbard Association of Scientologists International], like the attacks on the 1950 Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation found psychiatry and Communist connected personnel very much in evidence and both active with defamation and very unreasonable — and unsuccessful — attack. 
In a bulletin issued that September he announced his new reasoning to his followers:
Neatly all the backlash in society against Dianetics and Scientology has a common source — the psychiatrist-psychologist-psychoanalyst clique ... I could tell you about three actual murders. I could tell you about long strings of psychotics run in on the Foundation and the Association, sent in to us by psychiatrists who then, using LSD and pain-drug-hypnosis, spun them and told everyone Dianetics and Scientology drove people insane ... The public utterly LOATHES psychiatry. You waste time if you try to defame psychiatry to the public ... Psychiatry stands in the public mind for ineffectiveness, lies and inhuman brutality. 
|Scientology continues to take the view, to this day, that all criticism of it is orchestrated by a hidden psychiatric conspiracy (dubbed the "Tenyaka Memorial" by Hubbard and today described by Scientology as the "Anti-Religious Movement" or "ARM" for short). Hubbard's September 1955 bulletin was, in effect, his public declaration of war on psychiatry.||
|8. ^||Veterans Administration case file for L. Ron Hubbard, service no. #113392. [online version]|
|9. ^||Hubbard, "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" (1988 ed.), p. 8.|
|10. ^||J. A. Winter in Hubbard, "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" (1978 ed.), p. xxvi.|
|11. ^||Winter, "A Doctor's Report on Dianetics", 1951 [online version]|
|12. ^||Hubbard, "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" (1988 ed.), fn p. 205. Surprisingly, this statement remains in recent editions despite its marked contradiction of modern Scientology policy.|
|13. ^||Los Angeles Daily News, 9 September 1950.|
|14. ^||FBI files on L. Ron Hubbard / Dianetics / Scientology, released under FOIA.|
|15. ^||David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center, speech to International Association of Scientologists, 8 October 1993|
|16. ^||Scientific American, January 1951 [online version]|
|17. ^||The New Republic, 14 August 1950 [online version]|
|18. ^||Consumers Union Report, August 1951 [online version]|
|19. ^||Campbell, Astounding Science Fiction, December 1949|
|20. ^||Hubbard College Reports, 13 March 1952|
|21. ^||Hubbard, Professional Auditor's Bulletin no. 53, "Ownership", 27 May 1955|
|22. ^||Hubbard, Technical Bulletins of Dianetics & Scientology vol.1, p.337|
|23. ^||Hubbard, Associate Newsletter no. 4, ca. end May 1953|
|24. ^||Hubbard, Associate Newsletter no. 6, ca. early July 1953|
|25. ^||Hubbard, "A Brief History of Psychotherapy", The Dianetic Auditor's Bulletin, vol. 2 no. 5, November 1951|
|26. ^||Hubbard, "The Scientologist: A Manual on the Dissemination of Material", Ability Major 1, ca. March 1955|
|27. ^||Hubbard, ibid.|
|28. ^||Hubbard, ibid.|
|29. ^||Hubbard, letter to FBI, 11 July 1955 [online version]|
|30. ^||Hubbard, letter to FBI, 29 July 1955 [online version]|
|31. ^||Hubbard, Professional Auditor's Bulletin no. 62, "Psychiatrists", 30 September 1955|