Psychiatry: Industry of Death ‘museum’

What’s a trip to Southern California without a visit to a theme park? CCHR Promo

Forget Disneyland, take the family to Psychiatry: Industry of Death instead; the amusement park of the Church of Scientology. It’s much more frightening than the Haunted Mansion.

Coming a close second to Ken Ham’s Creation Museum in the list of pseudoscientific anti-museums, this is a ‘museum’ where the curators try to convert you…

Founded by fringe psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, the Industry of Death museum is owned and operated by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR); a front group for the rabid anti-psychiatry Scientologists and their cult-cure Dianetics.

I was in LA over the weekend, and decided to check it out. The museum is located in a prime spot on 6616 Sunset Boulevard (just delete that “1”), with the Hollywood sign to one side of you, and the Los Angeles Church of Scientology in the backdrop.

Yes, this is Hollywood’s cult.

Admission to the museum and tours are free, but who would pay to be exposed to such nonsense? However, for those suckered in, the real costs come on later…

CCHR front (for Scientology)You’ll be greeted by the image of a terrified little girl beside a cup of tablets, no doubt to ‘cure’ her of her supposed ADHD; her parents devious attempts to control her and stifle her creativity.

On the inside, this is a museum of propaganda, a sensationalist campaign against psychiatry. Psychiatry is a global conspiracy  – doctors, insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry are in cahoots to turn us into zombies. Psychiatry is behind eugenics, all acts of genocide, the Holocaust, and terrorism.

There are enormous posters of patients in restraints, and models of evil doctors weilding their implements of torture. Patients are portrayed as lunatics, and hospitals as asylums. Psychiatrists are presented as sadists, titillated by torture and mind control. Most of the exhibits condemn treatments that haven’t even been used for decades.

This is science (fiction) L. Ron Hubbard style. The Dianetics/Scientology/CCHR ideology is that psychiatry is obsolete. Followers believe that mental illness is psychosomatic, and that conditions such as schizophrenia and epilepsy simply don’t exist. They demonize medication for mental illness (especially Prozac and Ritilin) and the “horrors” of “barbaric” treatments such as Electroconvulsive Therapy, better known as ECT.

Those who perceive these treatments as “horrors” are unfamiliar with the true horrors of mental illness.

Someone close to me recently underwent ECT. This person was suffering from severe depression and anxiety and as a result he ceased eating and sleeping, and developed kidney failure. He was nonresponsive to medication, and undergoing ECT literally became a matter of life or death. Fortunately, he responded to the treatment immediately, and made rapid and significant improvements over the following weeks. ECT is a controversial procedure, with a history of misuse, but today, no credible doctor can deny its efficacy for some patients.

Overall, the field is still in its infancy, and attempting to head towards Science-Based Psychiatry. But better drugs with unpronounceable names than Scientology’s alternatives: Narconon, e-meter readings and audits, “purification rundowns” and useless vitamins; leading to the tragic experiences of Lisa McPherson and others as chronicled at What’s the Harm?

If you want to visit a bone fide exhibit, the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri, documents the factual history of psychiatry, and endeavors to raise awareness of mental illness.

The Church of Scientology, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and the Psychiatry: Industry of Death museum are irresponsible and discriminatory organizations that further marginalize people with mental illness, add to the ignorance, shame and fear surrounding these conditions, and ensure that these patients will not only continue to be stigmatized for their illness, but also stigmatized for their treatment.

In the delicious irony that is life, it’s the paranoid, delusional and brainwashed followers of Scientology who could use modern psychiatry the most…

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  1. I think Szasz’s views on mental illness and involuntary psychiatric treatment are worthy of serious consideration. But he’s damaged himself both politically and intellectually through his alliance with the Scientologists. On one hand, he rails against involuntary treatment and the abuses of psychiatric medicine. At the same time, he allies himself with an abusive cult which has done enormous mental and financial damage to many of its followers.

  2. I’m Tom Cruise and I do not approve this message. Say, do you have a couch anywhere close by? Actually, never mind, my Sciento-sense just buzzed and there’s been a car accident in the area. We’re the only ones who can help! To the RonMobile!

  3. Psychiatry is behind eugenics, all acts of genocide, the Holocaust, and terrorism.

    That’s silly! Everyone knows it’s evilution is the cause of all that!

  4. I saw it a few months back when the travelling road show rolled into town. My review was something along the lines of “a rip-off at the cost of free” and “needed a guy in a plaid suit trying to lure me through a curtain to see Serpentina, the Snake Woman”.

    The whole thing seemed to go over as well as a fart on the subway on a hot day. I think I may have been the only non-scientology person in the building the whole time I was there.

  5. @Jacob Wintersmith: I’m with you and Karen:
    “Overall, the field is still in its infancy, and attempting to head towards Science-Based Psychiatry.”

    There are people with very serious problems who need what help psychiatry can give them today. What concerns me are people who want to use today’s psychiatry to cure them of relatively mild discomfort. Like a sledgehammer, psychiatry is good for turning big rocks into smaller rocks, but it isn’t refined enough to cut diamonds.

  6. It’s a good thing Scientologist tend to leave poor people alone.
    Scientologist = Slarty Cheesy Hardasswipe Bartfast

  7. Excellent post!

    I’m a psychiatrist who hasn’t murdered any of my patients yet… I haven’t even performed any lobotomies. I prescribe (generic) Ritalin and Prozac when they are reasonable choices, and I tell my patients that it’s only worth taking medication if it makes them feel like themselves again. I actually recommend therapy, exercise, diet, and some supplements!

    Furthermore, I haven’t been involved in genocide or terrorism for AT LEAST five years.

  8. One brief quibble–epilepsy is not a mental illness, although many of its symptoms certainly can mimic psychosis and other mental disturbances.
    Of course, if the “scien”tologists think it’s a mental illness, that’s just one more bit of evidence for their asshattery.

    Great post!

  9. “Those who perceive these treatments as “horrors” are unfamiliar with the true horrors of mental illness.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself, Rebecca.

  10. @bug_girl: I checked to see if was available. It’s taken, unfortunately. NetworkSolutions suggested, though.

    GoDaddy had more creative suggestions:

  11. Man,

    I drive by the celeb center all the time but I didn’t know about the “Industry of Death” museum! (My sister used their theater, once, for a play. That’s a long but funny story. Some other time…)

    I’ll look into the creationist museum as well.

    Thanks for the tip!


    BTW: Okay, just one: Her BF, at the time, was a Psychiatrist, and I sat next to him during the play.

    He turned to me every 10 minutes and asked if I was “OK” and if I’d “spoken to anyone in the hall” or warning me not to “Eat or drink anything here because these guys are…” etc.

    I mentioned that I’d read “Dyane tics” and he turned white. He said, “What did you think?”. I said, “Dudes an obvious speed freak, if you ask me”.

    He relaxed a little…

  12. @Rodney: Actually, I think I read that he was an alcoholic. I don’t recall any mention of drugs.

  13. Great post.

    I work in one of Montreal’s universities, and CCHR came to visit this spring. They actually showed the Industry of Death thing right in the middle of the library building (in a university! Aaaargh!!). It looked like a cheap carnival attraction…but with pamphlets at the end.

    CCHR’s presence got a lot of employees and students mad, but apparently not enough…they stayed a week, and according to what I’ve heard, the “Industry of Death” happy campers are coming back in October. Yaaaay.

  14. Whoah, scientology is Hollywood’s cult? I bet they have one or two more. Maybe not as obnoxious, tho. The Co$ makes me want to vomit in terror. There was a temporary museum of such here in the Boston area in Harvard Sq., lamentably in the space where a wonderful book store used to be. Being of a psychology background myself, I looked around. I asked the people running it and yep, it was scientology. I asked where the money came from, “donors,” and such and such. WTF?

  15. My understanding is that Scientologists object to psychiatrists for much the same reasons that arsonists object to firefighters and burglars object to the police.

  16. @JayK: Speaking of Operation Clambake. The man behind the site, Andreas Heldal-Lund, was just elected to the board of the Norwegian Humanist Association.

  17. @bug_girl I didn’t intend to imply that epilepsy is a “mental illness”, only that Scientology/CCHR et al. don’t recognize these “conditions”. :)

    @QuestionAuthority Greetings, I’m Karen, not Rebecca. ;)

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