Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Megan Shields, the physician Scientology used to vouch for its drug rehabs, dies of cancer


[Megan Shields and her husband, George Duggan]

We learned last night that Dr. Megan Shields, a Glendale physician and OT 8 Scientologist who had been doctor to many Church of Scientology members in the Los Angeles area, died last week after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was 68.

Scientologists who revered her have been posting remembrances of her on Facebook, about how she had a unique way to treat them and save them from seeing more conventional doctors.



She’ll also be remembered for being the medical authority that backed up Scientology’s Narconon drug rehab network as its “research director.” Narconon is actually based on the unscientific ideas of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard that he recorded decades ago and are followed to the letter. As we’ve documented here numerous times, Narconon centers don’t actually offer drug counseling, but instead have patients go through the same quasi-psychological exercises that beginning members do in a Scientology church. Carnegie Mellon University professor David Touretzky maintains detailed web pages about the origins and development of Narconon. At one page, he writes about the involvement of Shields and her onetime clinic partner, Dr. Gene Denk, in writing up the Narconon program’s description of its “detoxification” process. Denk was L. Ron Hubbard’s personal physician and was his doctor of record when Hubbard died of a stroke on January 24, 1986. When Hubbard’s third wife, Mary Sue, died of cancer in 2002, it was Megan Shields who issued her death certificate. (Denk died of cancer in 2004.)

Denk and Shields both also worked together on a 1998 C. Thomas Howell movie, Charades, which also featured Scientologist Karen Black. If anyone knows why the two Scientology doctors were involved in that, please let us know.

Here’s how Shields talked about her endorsement of the Narconon program…

I have been associated with the Narconon program for nearly 20 years.

As a medical doctor practicing in a family clinic serving a broad cross-section of public, I have seen the increase in persons arriving at my clinic who have damaged themselves and the lives of those around them as a result of alcohol and other drug abuse. No different than any other doctor, I have observed with sorrow the increasing numbers of people who descend at a frightening rate from what they certainly thought was ‘experimentation’ or ‘recreation’ into compulsion to use, and addiction to drugs.

I have never liked the concept of using drugs and medications to solve the problems created by drugs and medication. There is a place for medication, but it is defined and limited. Therefore, from the very beginning of my practice it was a serious concern for me to know where I could refer patients for help either for themselves or for a family member or friend.

As a doctor it was evident to me that the long-term physical, mental and emotional consequences of drug use had something to do with the residual effects of the drugs themselves. This was clearly the case as well with environmental and industrial toxins and such poisons as lead in wall paint eaten by children, firemen inhaling smoke fumes containing toxins, etc.

Customary medical procedures held no solution to this problem of drug and toxic residuals. Various ‘treatments’ have been proffered, ranging from the psychiatric viewpoint of getting the person to believe that the problem he was experiencing from toxins was all in his mind, to the administration of drugs to suppress the symptoms exhibited. These ‘treatments’ only served to compound the problem. But with the release of the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program which utilized the researches of L. Ron Hubbard, I discovered that we had a solution at hand.

The depression, hopelessness and fear which so often accompany such problems were evident in many of my patients. Upon completion of the Narconon program, to which I had referred them, these persons were changed both physically and mentally. The common theme expressed by those who completed it is that they were no longer encumbered by chemicals which were shutting off their lives. They expressed increased mental clarity and new hope for the future. Their lives upon completion of the program were happier, healthier, and more productive. Beyond the detoxification program, the benefits of the Narconon practical life skills courses were an important part of their stable recovery. I was pleased to see even the most ‘hard-core,’ seemingly hopeless cases recuperate and salvage their lives.

There is not often good news in our struggle with the consequences of alcohol and other drug abuse in our society. I am happy to say that the Narconon program is good news. I encourage you to review it carefully and consider utilizing it. Many years ago I did and I have been able to help save many lives as a result.

Respectfully, Megan Shields, M.D.

In recent years, the Narconon program has been under siege as news of patient deaths and the filing of many lawsuits has exposed some of the drug program’s deceptive practices.

Besides backing up the Narconon detoxification process, Shields could also be counted on when the church needed a doctor’s note in a lawsuit.

Shields was married to George Duggan, and they were listed as donors in various Scientology projects, including the Super Power Building. We haven’t seen any evidence that George Duggan is related to Bob Duggan, Scientology’s most wealthy donor.

Shields dealt with some tragedy in her life: Her daughter Louisa committed suicide by hanging in 2004.

We’re interested in hearing your stories about Dr. Shields, since so many Scientologists were treated by her. We imagine that some of the ex-church members who read and comment here interacted with her.

According to the family, a private service for Shields was held last weekend, and a public one will take place on July 24.

UPDATE: We’ve received some addition material from Rachel Denk. She remembers that the suicide of Louisa, Megan’s daughter, happened not long after her husband Gene Denk’s death. “What might not be well known is that their son was murdered — shot, I believe — before the daughter’s hanging. 2004 was a very rough year for all of us,” Rachel tells us. Rachel says she was shocked this morning to see this story and learn the news that Megan Shields had died.

“Her passing has indeed brought about an end to the era. My deepest condolences to her family and many friends at this time of her passing,” she says. And she supplied this photo, of, from left to right, George Duggan, Gene Denk, and Megan Shields.



Bonus items from our tipsters

Nancy Cartwright, Her Royal Governness of the Vast Valley Territory — and the voice of Bart Simpson — held a pirate party in her own backyard to raise money, yet again, for the Valley Ideal Org that seems to be as far from its fundraising goals as ever.


Hey, girl.



3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on June 25, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email