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‘Global psychiatric obliteration’: Scientology’s ongoing war on psychiatry

[Kirstie Alley and Kelly Preston attacking the psychs]

Chris Owen concludes his three-part series on Scientology’s war on psychiatry today. Make sure you don’t miss part one and part two.

Scientology continues to battle psychiatry to this day, but its ‘war’ has shifted focus and tactics since David Miscavige took over as its leader in the 1980s. In 1983, Miscavige abolished the discredited Guardian’s Office and replaced it with the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), which fulfils many of the same functions. The Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights, Scientology’s anti-psychiatry front group that formerly sat under the Guardian’s Office, was transferred to the control of OSA’s ‘social reform’ section.

(A note from Chris: Many thanks to the benefactors whose generosity has been essential in covering the cost of the research subscriptions that enabled me to write this article (and much more besides). If readers would like to help contribute towards further research, please see my Patreon page. Thank you for your continued support!)

OSA takes a somewhat different approach to targeting Scientology’s enemies – relying on private investigators operating under a smokescreen of legal privilege, rather than Scientologist infiltrators – but it is still committed to the goal of eradicating psychiatry. The failure of the GO to do so did not deter Hubbard at all. He continued railing against it up to his death in 1986. In one memorable 1982 bulletin, he accused “psychologists, psychiatrists and other criminals” of having invented “PAIN and SEX.”

In a separate, secret bulletin from around the same period, he claimed that psychiatrists had originated long ago on a planet called Farsec. They were a separate class of being who were programmed to enslave and terrorise the population, and were entirely incapable of changing or reforming. They had been sent to Earth, a ‘prison planet,’ to keep the population docile through barbaric methods of mind control. The only solution, Hubbard said, was to wipe out psychiatry and psychology.


Despite how absurd this conspiracy theory sounds, it was still important enough to be included in high-level Scientology training materials issued in 1988. In a course pack for the post of (titular) President of the Church of Scientology International, students were required to do a demonstration of the concept that “psychs have been on the track [in existence] for a long time and are the sole cause of the decline of this universe.” Hubbard’s bulletin on “PAIN and SEX” was also on the required reading list.

While OSA does not appear to have carried out blatantly illegal campaigns of infiltration and espionage against psychiatry in the style of the GO, CCHR has continued to carry out noisy anti-psychiatry campaigns. It organises regular “Psychbusts,” its term for demonstrations of Scientologists outside mental health conferences. It continues to appeal for evidence that would get psychiatrists jailed for “crimes” and attacks individual psychiatrists online or in print publications. CCHR also operates one of the oddest ‘museums’ in California, the lurid “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death” exhibition in Los Angeles.

CCHR’s efforts have often fallen flat. That is not to say, however, that they have not had some impact. Being targeted by CCHR is clearly an unpleasant experience for individuals. Some of its campaigning has also significantly impacted public health. Although CCHR lost many of its former allies due to the widespread closure of government-run psychiatric institutions in the 1980s – a rallying point for many anti-psychiatry groups – it pivoted to inflaming public alarm about psychiatric medications. This turned out to be a profitable area to exploit, as it resonated with the concerns of parents’ groups, anti-vaccine campaigners and ‘wellness’ advocates.

In the late 1980s, CCHR launched a campaign against Prozac and its maker, Eli Lilly, which sought to tie the drug to suicidal ideation and psychotic behaviour. It attracted public attention through television appearances and print adverts, and was likely the cause of a significant drop in sales and usage of Prozac.

Many psychiatric patients in the US and Canada stopped taking their medication, scared by CCHR’s propaganda. One Harvard psychiatry professor noted that “[t]he public’s fear of Prozac as a result of this campaign has itself become a potentially serious public health problem as people stay away from treatment.” It also targeted Ritalin, used to treat ADHD. Neither campaign worked in the long term, but they almost certainly caused needless short-term suffering.

An even more distasteful intervention came after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., when Scientologists set up telephone hotlines under the name of ‘National Mental Health Assistance’ – not coincidentally, similar to the legitimate National Mental Health Association. Scientologist ‘Volunteer Ministers’ on the ground steered distressed survivors away from mental health counselling teams and towards Scientology centres. A Scientologist involved in the campaign wrote:

[W]e are trying to move in and knock the psychs out of counselling to the grieving families …. Due to some brilliant manoeuvring by some simply genius Sea Org Members we tied up the majority of the psychs who were attempting to get to families yesterday in Q&A [questions and answers], bullbait [techniques of confrontational insults on which Scientologists train] and wrangling. They have a hard time completing cycles of action and are pretty easy to disperse. But today they are out in full force and circling like vultures over these people and all of our resources are tied up in the support efforts in the disaster zone at present.

It was a vivid demonstration of Hubbard’s dictum that Scientology should “invade” the territory of mental health professionals.

CCHR has also had some political successes. In Florida, two pro-Scientology legislators introduced a bill in 2005 that would block children getting psychiatric care. The Scientologist actors Kirstie Alley and Kelly Preston, who have both been highly active anti-psychiatry campaigners, testified in support of the bill. As the legislators admitted, Scientologists had even written part of the bill. Despite intense opposition from medical professionals and children’s advocates, the bill was passed by the Florida legislature before eventually being vetoed by Governor Jeb Bush. The near-success of CCHR’s campaign highlighted Scientology’s skill in exerting political influence despite being a relatively tiny organisation.

While the battle between Scientology and psychiatry has been called “a war over mental health professionalism,” it would perhaps be more accurate to call it literally a war of faith. Scientology does not care if psychiatrists are ‘professional’; it simply wants to drive them out and destroy them for ideological reasons. The New York Scientologist who was involved in the campaign to divert psychiatrists after 9/11 made the point vividly when he condemned other faith groups for collaborating with mental health professionals:

The other religions here with their ministers have shown their true colors and are working hand in hand with the psychs to give these people as much false data and restimulation as they can. They HAVE NO TECH and they’re not even trying to hide it anymore. They’ve crossed over and abandoned anything spiritual and to hell with them.

Hubbard’s bizarre claims about psychiatrists being alien slave-makers from Farsec are not widely known within Scientology. He reportedly ordered that only the highest-level, and therefore most indoctrinated, Scientologists were to be told of his ‘discovery.’ The vast majority of Scientologists are instead taught to believe that psychiatry has entirely Earthly flaws, as a corrupt, brutal, and manipulative practice. They also believe that Scientology is the only “workable” mental therapy in existence and that psychiatrists are frauds.

A November 1989 Executive Directive sets out how CCHR awards points to its branches for inflicting “Psych Losses.” These range from 25 points for obtaining a signed and witnessed statement by “someone killed, ruined or otherwise abused by a psych” to 5,000 points for a “Criminal psych or mental health field rotten spot organization or official found guilty of a criminal charge.” An additional 500 points is awarded for each year of the jail sentence.

Successful actions against psychiatry are a recurrent theme of the annual conferences of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS), which often feature presentations from leading Scientologists claiming that psychiatry is on the run. The presenters trumpet statistics about putting “psychs” in jail, making them lose their licenses to practice, and so on.


In reality, according to Mike Rinder – who as OSA Director gave such presentations for years – the statistics are heavily manipulated. CCHR reportedly monitors the news for anything adverse involving psychiatry and reports such events as if they were the work of CCHR. For instance, says Rinder, “If a psych is caught with a DUI that is added to the list of psychs who have been prosecuted somewhere for some legitimate abuse. The numbers grow and then at the event one egregious story of abuse is recounted that CCHR probably had nothing to do with, then a CCHR publication or ad or protest or something is shown and then it’s announced that ‘thanks to the work of CCHR 9,247 psychs have been prosecuted this year.’”

Despite such knowing falsification, Rinder says, the leadership genuinely believes in the cause. Scientology does not, however, advocate violence against psychiatrists despite sometimes coming close to the line, such as using violent imagery in “psychiatric obliteration” speeches. On one occasion, at the 2006 IAS event in England, Miscavige boasted of the “eradication” of psychiatry in front of a backdrop showing psychiatrists ”being machine-gunned out of existence.”

It’s important to note though, that despite the bloodthirsty rhetoric, Scientology has not used violence against psychiatry. In contrast to fundamentalist Christianity, no Scientologist has ever bombed a doctor’s office or assassinated a psychiatrist. Scientology keeps tight control over its members and their anti-psychiatry activism. “Psychbusts” are highly organised affairs, while CCHR provides “Mental Health Budget Adjustment Kits” to its members to help them “go straight for psychiatry’s jugular — their money flow.” And in contrast to many other activist organisations, CCHR charges for its materials; if you want to interrupt psychiatry’s “money flow,” you have to contribute to CCHR’s.

Hubbard’s and Miscavige’s frequent claims of the imminent destruction of psychiatry remain in the realms of fantasy. There can be little doubt, though, that it remains a key goal – however unrealistic – for Scientology’s leadership, which seeks to destroy individual psychiatrists as well as the profession as a whole.

The ‘war on psychiatry’ does have real casualties. They range from the healthcare professionals who face harassment from Scientology, to the members of the public who fall for CCHR’s propaganda, to – perhaps most tragically – the Scientologists who avoid or are prevented from getting the healthcare that they need.

— Chris Owen

More great stories by Chris Owen here at the Underground Bunker:

Oct 30, 2017: Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard as a cop in Los Angeles: What’s the real truth?
Dec 6, 2017: Why is it so hard for governments to crack down on the Church of Scientology?
Jan 2, 2018: Scientology’s original case of ‘disconnection’ — L. Ron Hubbard and his doting mom and dad
Jan 24, 2018: Battle of Portland: How Scientology turned a nightmare court verdict into a major victory
Jan 25, 2018: Battle of Portland, part 2: Pressuring a court by surrounding it with Scientologists & celebs
Feb 6, 2018: Scientology spies coming forward, then and now: A key example from the past

Feb 20, 2018: How L. Ron Hubbard tried to hoax the FBI, and ‘brainwashed’ politicians of the far right
Feb 21, 2018: The ‘Brainwashing Manual’ — how a Scientology hoax became a far-right touchstone
Apr 3, 2018: Newly released documents: Scientology leader L. Ron Hubbard tried to ‘buy’ an African nation
May 30, 2018: Bad boys of the Sea Org: guns, drugs, murder and Scientology
May 31, 2018: Bad boys, part two: Scientology’s involvement with drug smugglers had a long legacy
Jun 6, 2018: EXCLUSIVE: The rise and fall of the ‘Pope of Scientology’ — in his own words
Jun 7, 2018: Testimony by the World’s First Real Clear, part two: ‘Scientology is designed to entrap people’
Mar 19, 2019: Cops, soft porn, and psychiatry: The curious origin of Scientology’s Snow White Program
May 9, 2019: Death in the Timor Sea: The darkest war secret of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard
May 25, 2019: Behind enemy li(n)es: Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s secret mission that never was
Jun 6, 2019: ‘Scientology is Security for South Africa’: How L. Ron Hubbard sought to prop up apartheid
Jun 21, 2019: Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, ‘Provost Marshal’: Another apologist claim debunked
May 25, 2020: Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s ‘stolen valor’: His bogus war injuries
Jan 25, 2021: Scientology in Russia: Historian Chris Owen does the deep dive we’ve been waiting for
Jan 28, 2021: Scientology in Russia, a series by historian Chris Owen, part 2: The Putin years
Jan 30, 2021: Scientology in Russia, a series by historian Chris Owen, part 3: The current crackdown
May 16, 2021: Inside a PR mutiny: How Scientology’s war on Prozac backfired in spectacular fashion


Bonus items from our tipsters

OT 8, it’s what the planet needs!




Source Code


“I can very easily go 500 years ago back into France and give you the name, rank, and serial number of a lot of things, see? And I can give these things to you, but after I’ve run a few of them, I start running into ‘Let’s see, was her name Mary? or was it Marie? or was it … ? And did that happen at Agincourt? or was that at Poitiers?’ And next thing you know I’m in a fog. And if I go on this way very long, I’ll start wondering whether I even was alive yesterday because I haven’t entered it from a zone of certainty. See?” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 2, 1964


Avast, Ye Mateys

“By advices from the MO the entire crew will be innoculated today. (Groan.) There will be two shots a week or so apart. This means on many auditing will be suspended for two weeks. Also solo. Some are not badly affected and these will be audited. TR course and study will not be suspended. This is a good time for auditors and internes and the tech personnel connected to catch up with their study and admin backlogs.” — The Commodore, July 2, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“In the 1950s LRH spoke of people who could have OT perception. Something like guys going to the park to see pedestrian female bodies through their clothes. Also Inelia Benz (the first dynamic personification of thetan Gaia, the planet) describes in an interview with Bill Ryan how she was exterior in her childhood and saw through her thetan ‘eyes’ before ‘moving’ to her body’s head. Contactee Alex Collier describes how he was taken to a UFO of his friends (Andromedans on this galaxy) and underwent a ‘cleansing,’ the result of which was a 360 degree spherical perception/awareness of everything that happened in his surrounding. This suggests that one can have full OT perception by getting rid of entities implanted on the body.”


Past is Prologue

1998: More details this week from the St. Petersburg Times on John Travolta’s trip to the U.S. Congress, lobbying for a bill to criticize Germany. “The new resolution, sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., rests its case on several annual State Department reports that found Germany has discriminated against Scientology and other minority religions. The non-binding measure calls on the president to ‘assert the concern’ of the United States about religious discrimination in Germany. David H. Miller, the Washington, D.C., lobbyist for the Scientology-affiliated Religious Technology Center, said lawmakers in both the House and Senate told him they were willing to hold public hearings on the complaints. That is an important step in winning passage of any legislation. At a news conference, Travolta and lawmakers who appeared with him argued that a religion should not be punished for the actions of an individual member. ‘I know a Catholic once who robbed a bank,’ Travolta said. ‘And I know a Baptist who got a divorce.’ Salmon agreed. ‘There have been serious allegations leveled against officials in many, many churches,’ the congressman said, though he added: ‘If this happened in Florida, and if there were members of the Scientology religion who did what they’re alleged to have done, then they should be prosecuted, they need to be brought to justice.'”



Random Howdy

“OT 2 is where the bait and switch part of the long con kicks in. It switches from a pseudo Freudian-Jungian neo Buddhist self help scam to full blown Buck Rogers and Ming the Merciless malarkey. At this point Hubbard is softening up the marks for the big reveal that comes at OT 3.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for August 9. Trial tentatively scheduled for early November.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference August 21 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: June 18 pretrial conference delayed until July 9.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition to US Supreme Court submitted on May 26. Scientology responded on June 25.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 24.

Concluded litigation:
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] A family’s Scientology drug rehab nightmare: The Narconon ‘Fresh Start’ scam strikes again
[TWO years ago] Introducing ‘The Cult Awareness Podcast,’ recorded at HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles
[THREE years ago] Freed files: Scenes from a government investigation of Scientology
[FOUR years ago] Facing government opposition, Scientology prepares to play dirty
[FIVE years ago] Field report: Visiting the mission that told the Church of Scientology to take a hike
[SIX years ago] How to read a tabloid magazine story about the Church of Scientology: A primer
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology litigation update: The Garcias respond, and the NAFC plays hardball
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Turns Over Documents, Laura DeCrescenzo Begins Process to Review Them
[NINE years ago] Tom Cruise’s Former Scientology Auditor: “He Should Let Katie Have Everything She Wants”
[TEN years ago] Scientology Fireworks! Commenters of the Week, Independence Day Edition


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,349 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,854 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,374 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,394 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,285 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,592 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,460 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,234 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,564 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,038 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,354 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,920 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,839 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,007 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,588 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,849 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,887 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,600 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,125 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 480 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,655 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,206 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,355 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,675 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,530 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,649 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,005 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,308 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,414 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,816 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,688 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,271 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,766 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,020 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,129 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 2, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 15 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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