In 1975, just as Ken Kesey’s novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was filmed at Oregon State Hospital, I became a Scientologist in Portland. Kesey’s book and the film that followed it have perhaps done more than any other works of art to dramatize the brutality and horror of psychiatry and its tools.
Which brings me to a question I have heard many times: “What does Scientology have against psychiatry?”
Let me start by giving you an idea of how I think of life because of what I have learned in Scientology and you will understand soon enough where the conflict lies.
In order to play a video game, you must insert yourself into it. But that presents a fundamental problem. The game is comprised of hardware, software, electrons, switches and wires, while you, being human, are not of the “game universe.” In order to enter and play the game, you must choose an avatar to represent you, usually the figure of a handsome guy or a beautiful woman. So you choose an avatar, and through a mechanical device like a joystick, control what your avatar does on the screen.
So what if you really were a spirit, made of spiritual stuff, and wanted to play a game on Earth, in a universe made of mud and stars? You might choose a human body to become your avatar. Your intentions as a spirit would then be carried by nerves (electronic circuits) connected to a brain (game program or motherboard) that moved your body (avatar) by electrical signals.
Of course in “the game of life” you would have to spend 15 years or so poking food down your avatar’s throat, cleaning it, emptying its waste pipes, dressing it, dragging it to school, etc. Along the way, your mind (“the cloud” in computer speak) would store useful information: how to change a flat tire, what a hypotenuse is, and so on, to help you play the game.
This analogy is not too far-fetched. The idea of an avatar—an icon or figure that represents a being existing outside the bounds of a game—is a lot older than video games. It is originally a Sanskrit word which meant “a deity descended to Earth from heaven.”
So in the game, you find a mate, get a job and earn credits to buy things your avatar needs like food, clothing, and shelter. If you have extra credits you can buy things you want: a sports car, a big-screen TV or a vacation in Tahiti.
Successes and failures come with any game. Your marriage breaks up, you get a promotion and a raise at work, your dog gets run over by a car, your youngest child gets into drugs, your grandparents die, a video you made goes viral, you write a bestselling book and win an award. You have a car wreck and spend two weeks in the hospital.
In Scientology, there is counseling and training to get you through those rough spots, restore your vitality and increase your awareness and competence.
And in the game, things keep changing. Your avatar has its 50th birthday and gets tired, so you take it to the gym three times a week. Your kids move away, you fall in love, get another dog, move to a better house, get a colonoscopy, take up yoga. And then you retire to do things you like to do, but your credits run low and you lose your house, move to assisted living, get old and then you die. Game over.
Or is it?
When you “die,” you discover, to your surprise, that you still exist. Just your avatar died and is cremated and spread out somewhere nice and your kids inherit all your stuff. So there you are, a spirit hanging around without a game to play, unable to talk, nothing to do. You’ve got no hands to move things and no legs to take you places. Everybody thinks you’re dead. Bummer. You’ve heard stories about ghosts and now you are one.
But you can still see and hear and think, because you can perceive as a spirit, you’re still connected to your mind there in the cloud, and it’s full of pictures and decisions and notes to self. And surprise! There’s a lot more there than the game you just played. You’ve had big avatars, little ones, male, female, black, white, brown, and so on. You’ve won and lost, but games always ended up the same: “dead avatar, now what?”
To a psychiatrist, your brain is you, your memories are stored in little holes in molecules like Swiss cheese. You are an animal or a wind-up doll. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we are all just flotsam in the wind, one life then dead forever.
Then you see a pregnant woman and there’s your new mother. Another avatar, another game. And in order to make life more interesting, most spirits forget what just happened so they can start fresh, kind of like bankruptcy.
Anyway you get a new body and you’re back in the game. But since you declared spiritual bankruptcy the last time you switched avatars, you have to learn to use the toilet, feed yourself and find out what a hypotenuse is all over again. And then you get a job, find a mate, save up credits and so on, all the while wondering what life is really about.
So what’s the answer to this video game called life? “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” is pretty good for starters. But an answer for the long haul is getting away from the eternal video game of life. “Escape from the cycle of birth and death,” as some have said it. Realize that life offers unlimited opportunities—don’t limit yourself to small, insignificant games, find bigger ones to play. For that you need courage, awareness, love, hope and all the things not made of mud but inherent to spiritual existence. Lots of spirits don’t know they’re in a game and think they are their bodies. Scientology offers a path out of the game universe back to life as yourself.
And now, for something completely different: psychiatry and psychology. Wilhelm Wundt invented modern psychology back in the 1800s and decided there was no such thing as a spirit, just a body and a brain and stimulus-response mechanisms. Thus psychologists and psychiatrists are likely to look at a business and think the telephone system makes all the decisions, and that a human is just a vertical dog. They think the game software is the game player—everything is material, there is no spirit. So Scientologists disagree with psychiatry first because it denies the spiritual nature of mankind, and second, because many human rights abuses follow from that erroneous premise.
To a psychiatrist, your brain is you, your memories are stored in little holes in molecules like Swiss cheese. You are an animal or a wind-up doll. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we are all just flotsam in the wind, one life then dead forever. Other ideas are just delusion, in need of psychoactive drugs or electroshock, both of which can swap out your personality for another one over there in the cloud. Instead of Fred the plumber you become Wilma the sniper. Scientologists object to that.
And speaking of video games, the Chinese have embraced psychiatry and now electroshock children who spend too much time in front of computer screens.
And for kids who move too much in class? Psychiatrists give them drugs that stop them. Ritalin, Adderall, they have lots of things to choose from, over 300 disorders in the pharmaceutical bible the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” (DSM) and every disorder is billable. Psychs and big pharma work entirely in the game universe, ignoring the player. Shocks and drugs and lobotomies and hypnosis not only gum up the mind and make counseling very difficult, they can disable the game player as well and can turn troubled people into mass murderers with psychiatric drug side effects. Stephen Paddock, for instance, who killed more than 50 people in Las Vegas, was on anti-anxiety medications with warnings of side effects including aggression, hallucinations and more. Scientologists object to that also.
Big pharma created heroin (Bayer) and LSD (Sandoz). Merck pioneered the commercial manufacture of morphine, distributed cocaine and invented MDMA (ecstasy). OxyContin which started the latest “opioid crisis” was created by German scientists and pushed into society by Purdue Pharma. Crystal meth was first created in Japan and after World War II, Abbott Laboratories won FDA approval for meth as a remedy for alcoholism and weight gain. Fentanyl, responsible for the majority of opioid overdose deaths, was invented by Janssen Pharmaceutica.
Not only does psychiatry follow Karl Marx’s doctrine “religion is the opium of the masses” while giving the masses opiates, it defines addiction to those opiates as a chronic disease that like any chronic disease requires continual treatment, in this case with other drugs. For psychiatrists, life is not an adventure, a game or a spiritual quest, humans are merely pretentious animals, the product of their chemistry. Religion is delusion and delusion is psychosis, and they have drugs for that too.
Scientologists also object to the aims of psychiatry. In the 1940s, Col. J. R. Rees, President of the National Council on Mental Hygiene, and G. Brock Chisholm, cofounder of the World Federation for Mental Health outlined their plans for society. “We have made a useful attack on a number of professions,” said Rees in 1940, “the two easiest of them are, naturally, the teaching profession and the church.” Chisholm said: “To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism, and religious dogmas.”
Has psychiatry really changed since then? We look around, see its effects, and don’t think so. One in six Americans now takes a psychiatric medication with 80 percent on long-term use with no cures in sight, and with global pharmaceutical revenues projected to top $1.12 trillion in five years.
Electroshock is back, with some 100,000 Americans receiving it each year and in spite of no data on safety or effectiveness, the FDA is working to relax the threat level of electroshock so children may now receive it. Is it safe and effective? Ernest Hemingway went home after some 15 electroshocks, put a shotgun in his mouth and blew the top of his head off.
Ecstasy the “date-rape drug” and LSD are now being advocated for PTSD and other disorders and to “heal the brain.”
That’s why Scientologists oppose them, their prescriptions and their soulless priesthood of money, drugs and control.