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The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR; also sometimes known as the Citizens Committee on Human Rights) is an advocacy group established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Thomas Szasz. It fights what it sees as human rights crimes committed by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. Prominent anti-psychiatry advocate Dr. Peter Breggin worked with the group up until 1974. Breggin has since dissociated himself from the organization, having "found myself opposed to Scientology's values, agenda, and tactics." [1]

CCHR's views on psychiatry

CCHR

The international headquarters of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

CCHR's views on psychiatry are a straightforward reflection of the position put forward by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, whose writings express a very strong anti-psychiatry viewpoint. The practice of psychiatry is considered by Scientologists to be a form of extortion, based upon Scientology doctrine stating there is no biological evidence to support psychiatric theories of mental disorders. According to Hubbard, all psychiatrists are criminals: "There is not one institutional psychiatrist alive who, by ordinary criminal law, could not be arraigned and convicted of extortion, mayhem and murder. Our files are full of evidence on them." [2] [3]

CCHR follows this line very closely, for instance describing psychiatrists and psychologists as "Professional Rapists, Perverts and Pedophiles" [4] It has developed Psych Crime/ report psych crime, a database of psychiatric criminal convictions to which it invites members of the public to contribute.

Although CCHR states its purpose publicly as being "to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights and to clean up the field of mental healing," in its own fund-raising publications - issued primarily to Scientologists - it espouses a goal of eliminating psychiatry altogether and invites contributors to sign up to that goal: "Be part of the team that is taking out psychiatry!" [1]; "The time to put an end to psychiatry and it's criminal practices is NOW!" [2]; "Get rid of the psychs! That is just what CCHR is doing." [3]

CCHR considers doctors prescribing Ritalin or Prozac to a patient a human rights violation on par with the Holocaust.[4]

CCHR's activities

CCHR has organized media campaigns against various psychiatrists, psychiatric organizations, and pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly as manufacturer of Prozac. Its campaign is said to have caused a major fall in sales of Prozac, causing great commercial damage to Eli Lilly [5]

In recent years the group has campaigned against the use of Ritalin for the treatment of Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a disorder CCHR argues does not exist. This campaign included a class action lawsuit against Ritalin manufacturer Novartis which was dismissed by a Texas Federal Court in 2001. It has also campaigned against legislation on mental health issues, as well as encouraging legislators to sponsor laws more in line with its own views. [6]

In December 2005, CCHR opened the "Psychiatry: An Industry of Death" Museum in Hollywood, California. The museum has displays alleging psychiatry's long-standing "master plan" for world domination, Adolf Hitler's central role in the plan, and in the words of reporter Andrew Gumbel, "a display holding psychiatry to blame for the deaths of Ernest Hemingway, Del Shannon, Billie Holiday, Kurt Cobain, Spalding Gray, and just about every other entertainment celebrity who did not happen to die of strictly natural causes". [7], [8]

CCHR has published an extensive report of its activities, with references to sources of government issued reports such as FDA Public Health Advisory (an FDA website).[5] (warning pdf format)

Not surprisingly, CCHR's aggressive stance has provoked controversy. In 1988 the group alleged that Professor Sir Martin Roth of Newcastle University had used LSD in tests on mental patients in the 1960s. The allegations were publicised in the Newcastle Times newspaper. It was ordered by an English court to pay "very substantial" libel damages to Roth after the court found that CCHR's claims were "highly defamatory" and "utterly false". [9]

For their part, psychiatrists and psychologists have responded dismissively to CCHR's allegations. Some commentators have noted similarities between CCHR's campaigns against psychiatry and other religiously-motivated organisations' campaigns against scientific aspects of birth control and evolution, amongst other topics. [10]

Chelmsford Hospital and "sleep therapy"

Possibly CCHR's most notable success was in Australia. Honorable Justice J. P. Slattery, Royal Commissioner, commented: (CCHR) "contributed considerably to advance the cause of the Chelmsford patients in their campaign for an open inquiry into the hospital." (1999) Official Site

The Chelmsford Hospital case was reported differently by others: [6]

CCHR has published their opinion of the now legally resolved situation. Official Scientology Site

CCHR and Scientology

Szaszcruise picture

Thomas Szasz with actor and prominent Scientologist Tom Cruise at a CCHR annual dinner.

A persistently controversial aspect of CCHR is the question of its relationship with Scientology. For its part, CCHR states that it is "an independent organization ... compris[ing] members of the Church of Scientology and many other people of various denominations, faiths and cultural beliefs." Although it is incorporated separately, it is regarded by the United States Government as part of the Church of Scientology's network of corporate entities. In 1993, the US Internal Revenue Service granted CCHR tax exemption as part of an agreement with the Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center (RTC) under which the RTC took responsibility for CCHR's tax liabilities. [11]

CCHR's relationship with the Church of Scientology is reportedly mediated through the Church's Office of Special Affairs (OSA) [12]. Critics of Scientology have charged that CCHR is merely a "front group" for the Church and have pointed to internal Church documents that appear to describe CCHR's campaigns as a means of extending the influence of the Church of Scientology.

In one example, a leaked document[13] outlining a training course for the job of President of the Church of Scientology International requires the trainee to demonstrate "HOW A PR CAMPAIGN ON EXPOSING THE PSYCHIATRIC DRUGGING OF SCHOOL CHILDREN IN A COMMUNITY OR COUNTRY WOULD BUILD PRO AREA CONTROL FOR THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY" [7]. An internal training course from the Office of Special Affairs reportedly requires the trainee to undertake exercises such as "writ[ing] a campaign that you can actually execute from your hat [job] to help cut off the funding to psychiatrists in your area." [14]

References

  1. CCHR mailer Dec. 7, 1993, signed Don Gershbock; cited in Jacobsen, "CCHR - Human Rights Organization Attacks Its "Enemies""
  2. CCHR mailer, copyright 1998; citation ibid
  3. CCHR mailer, "Stop Psych Experiments on schoolchildren!", copyright 1997; citation ibid
  4. Scientology official FAQ on its position against psychiatry. Quote: "psychiatric theories that man is a mere animal have been used to rationalize, for example, the wholesale slaughter of human beings in World Wars I and II." URL: http://faq.scientology.org/psychtry.htm
  5. Thomas M. Burton, "Anti-Depression Drug Of Eli Lilly Loses Sales After Attack by Sect', Wall Street Journal, April 19, 1991, p.A1
  6. "Scientology's War on Psychiatry", Salon, July 1, 2005
  7. Andrew Gumbel, "Scientology vs. Science", Los Angeles City Beat, January 12, 2006
  8. "Showbiz Tonight", CNN, December 20, 2005
  9. "Prof's libel victory over LSD claims", Northern Echo, 22 June 1990
  10. Gumbel, "Scientology vs. Science".
  11. "Closing Agreement On Final Determination Covering Specific Matters", October 1, 1993
  12. Stephen A. Kent, "The Globalization of Scientology: Influence, Control and Opposition in Transnational Markets", Religion, v. 29, n. 2, April 1999, p.147-169
  13. "One Man Britain Can Do Without", The People, March 20, 1966
  14. "INVESTIGATIONS OFFICER FULL HAT CHECKSHEET", OFFICE OF SPECIAL AFFAIRS INTERNATIONAL, 1970

See also

External links

fr:Commission des citoyens pour les droits de l'homme sv:Kommittén för mänskliga rättigheter

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