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How Scientology’s anti-psychiatry front turns a real controversy into fake outrage


[The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California]

Rod Keller keeps an eye on Scientology social media for us, and this week he spotted something he decided to dive into in more depth. Take it away, Rod…

“How many babies can you fit in the Rose Bowl?”

That’s the bizarre question posed by the equally bizarre front group for the Church of Scientology – the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), which is wildly distorting statistics in an attempt to inject the anti-psychiatry views of the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard into an otherwise serious public policy debate over the usefulness of certain drugs for infants and very young patients.



CCHR bills itself as a watchdog organization exposing the abuses of psychiatry, in particular the use of psychopharmaceuticals and electroconvulsive therapy. In reality, CCHR opposes all aspects of psychiatry, based on the writings of Hubbard that “Psychs” originated on the far-off planet Farsec, coming to Earth to dominate humanity. CCHR International’s staff sign either 2.5- or 5-year contracts, just as staff members of other Scientology orgs and missions do. CCHR reports to Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs (OSA), which is charged with all interactions of the church with the outside world. One of its activities is to search the news for items on psychiatry, promoting those that show the profession in a bad light.


One article that caught CCHR’s attention recently is “Still in a Crib, Yet Being Given Antipsychotics,” by New York Times investigative reporter Alan Schwarz. Published in December 2015, Schwarz’s article examines the issue of prescribing antipsychotics and antidepressants to infants. Drugs such as antipsychotics Rispiridal and Seroquel and the antidepressant Prozac can be prescribed to infants to control “violent or withdrawn” behavior, some of which may be side effects of other drugs, such as anti-epilepsy medicines. It’s a serious topic with advocates on many sides. The article quotes Dr. Mary Margaret Gleason of Tulane University: “There’s a sense of desperation with families of children who are suffering, and the tool that most providers have is the prescription pad.”

Statistics on the number of prescriptions written for the drugs come from IMS Health, the largest vendor of prescribing data in the United States. Reports from IMS are highly valued by pharmaceutical companies as they plan the development of new drugs, to measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, and to identify populations that could benefit if physicians were better educated on drug effectiveness.


IMS Health shared the data they collected for the New York Times, showing prescriptions written for antipsychotics for 2010-2014 for each age range of patients. They show an increase in prescriptions for patients age 0-2 from 8,284 in 2010 to 19,706 in 2014, and a decrease for 3-9 year olds from 1.4 million to 1.1 million in 2014. The numbers are alarming for some, considering clinical trials have not been conducted for these drugs on infant patients because of the danger that the drugs could affect the growth of study participants. Dr. Gleason said “There are not studies, and I’m not pushing for them.”

Which brings us back to the Rose Bowl. Having read this article on a contentious medical debate, Scientology decided to boil it down to a meme, a slide that is being promoted on Facebook and other social media to attack all psychiatric medicine.



We called Tor Constantino, the Director, Global PR and External Affairs for IMS Health, and asked him about Scientology’s claim. He said “It’s absolutely false. For one thing, we don’t even have a category for 0-5, it’s either 0-2 or 3-9. This Internet meme doesn’t specify the time frame, it doesn’t specify the class of drugs, this should in no way be attributed to IMS Health. Also, TRx [on our chart] stands for total prescriptions not total patients.” As the Times article points out, patients can have more than one prescription in a year. Total prescriptions written includes all refills written during a year, and counts separately when a doctor changes to a similar medicine or a different dosage based on how the drug is helping the patient. Schwarz estimates from the IMS Health data and other studies that the number is at least 10,000 infant or toddler patients.

The Rose Bowl Stadium is a U.S. National Historic Landmark in Pasadena, California, and annually hosts the Rose Bowl football game, as well as other athletic events, concerts, and an annual fireworks show on July 4th. You could fit 92,542 babies in the Rose Bowl, assuming that each somehow occupied a separate seat. If the Scientology meme were correct, there would be at least 925,420 children five years old or younger on psychiatric medication, which isn’t supported by the actual statistics. Reasonable people can disagree whether it’s a health concern to prescribe anytipsychotics and antidepressants to infants and toddlers, but Scientology throws all that away in its fixation to fight the Psychs.

What CCHR gets out of this meme is what drives all of Scientology – statistics. Its performance is recorded and charted in a number of Psych-related categories, such as SR (Social Reform) Profitable Images, Cut funding for Psych programs, Legislation passed, Criminal or civil complaints filed against psychs, and many others. If CCHR’s stats go up, staff members may receive modest rewards, but if the stats go down there is always the threat of “lower conditions,” which is a set of punishment rituals that Scientologists endure until their stats go back up. CCHR staff do not face the threat of being assigned to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), a form of prison/labor camp which is only for Sea Org members.

In the meantime, CCHR continues to promote anything critical of psychiatry, including Alan Schwarz’s new book, ADHD Nation – Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic


CCHR argues that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a completely fabricated diagnosis, conjured by the psychs and pharmaceutical companies to drug and control children. This is in opposition to the book they are promoting. They omit this passage from New York Times book review: “Schwarz has no doubt that A.D.H.D. is a valid clinical entity that causes real suffering and deserves real treatment, as he makes clear in the first two sentences of the book: ‘Attention deficit hyperactivity is real. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.’ But he believes that those who are disabled by the condition deserve a wider range of treatment options than an endless litany of stimulants with chirpy names like Vyvanse and Concerta.”

— Rod Keller


Bonus items from our tipsters

Actual caption: My darling @thorstenovergaard and I speaking at last weeks awesome Celebrity Centre Graduation! We finished a big communications course we worked on together! Of course I had to whip out my #npcbikini trophy and #guns!


Stocked and ready to go in SF…


If you have to say you’re the coolest…


Hey, girl. Let’s become superheroes together on L. Ron’s genius…


Vaquera takes Miss Lovely for a spin down Vermont country roads…



3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on August 28, 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


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