To understand the forces ranged against L. Ron Hubbard, in this war he never started, it is necessary to gain a cursory glimpse of the old and venerable science of psychiatry-which was actually none of the aforementioned. As an institution, it dates back to shortly before the turn of the century; it is certainly not worthy of respect by reason of age or dignity; and it does not meet any known definition of a science, what with its hodgepodge of unproven theories that have never produced any result-except an ability to make the unmanageable and mutinous more docile and quiet, and turn the troubled into apathetic souls beyond the point of caring.
That it promotes itself as a healing profession is a misrepresentation, to say the least. Its mission is to control.
Psychiatry as we know it today is more priesthood than science. Its conglomeration of half-baked theories is handed down by an arbitrary elite-authorities who have attained such status through who they know and who can sweet-talk the government into parting with yet more grant money.
While as for what they actually do, there are only three primary methods of “treatment”-electroshock, psychosurgery and psychotropic drugs.
To illustrate the unscientific basis of this “science,” in Fascist Italy in the 1930s, Professor Ugo Cerletti noted that back in A.D. 43 or so, Roman citizens would sometimes try to rid themselves of headaches by putting a torpedo fish on their heads. A torpedo fish generates about 25 volts of electricity. Perhaps it was just coincidence that the Empire fell soon after that, but be that as it may, Cerletti was undeterred by this observation and set off on a new path. He began his experiments by killing dogs with huge jolts of electricity. However, before he could significantly reduce Rome’s canine population, inspiration came in the form of a visit to a pig slaughterhouse. There, much to his delight, he found that pigs were not killed by the electricity administered, but only sent into epileptic convulsions, whereupon their throats could conveniently be cut by the butchers. After experimenting further-and losing a great many pigs-to discover how much electricity it would take to kill one of the porcine creatures, he was ready for man. The unfortunate vagrant he chose (generously supplied by the police) received 70 volts to the head, fell, then shouted, “Not a second [one]. It will kill!” Later, it was discovered that human beings could withstand between 140 and 150 volts to the brain. Thus electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT) was born.
Psychosurgery had equally shabby beginnings, according to the medical historians. In 1848, Phineas Gage of Vermont was peering into a blasting hole when a charge detonated and blew a metal tamping rod through his brain-an unfortunate accident that he managed to survive. But, his astute physician noted with amazement, Gage had changed! A most noticeable change-from efficient and capable, to self-indulgent and profane. Thus Gage made his place in history as the first person to survive a lobotomy. The man who actually established himself as the father of the lobotomy (a procedure conducted on intractable patients to make them more manageable) was Dr. Egas Moniz. He operated on about one hundred patients. However, in at least one case, the operation might have been a success but the doctor died: he was shot by one of his lobotomized patients. That in 1949 he was given the Nobel prize for this questionable advancement is one of the saddest ironies of medical history. Nonetheless, it assured that many followed his path.
As for drugs, witch doctors have used the natural variety for centuries. Today’s pharmaceutical psychotropic drugs began their development with attempts to brainwash recalcitrant citizens and political prisoners. Virtually all of the original research-in Russia, Germany and the United States-was funded by intelligence agencies. Once again, the aim was to make individuals more tractable and malleable. And, in the United States, at least, most of it was illegal, conducted on unknowing servicemen and citizens. Except, of course, in the oft-cited instance of CIA psychiatrist, Dr. Louis Jolyon West, who was the only man known to have killed an elephant with LSD.
That all of this experimentation-drugs, psychosurgery, ECT-has never cured anyone of anything but, on the contrary, has either made people more manageable or damaged them beyond recognition, has never stopped the psychiatric community from continuing these practices. After all, these are the only tools they have. Without them, they would have nothing to sell.
Which brings up a crucial point: to whom do they sell their services? Not to the broad public (and only sometimes even to their own patients), for the majority have no faith in this parody of science and would never even entertain the idea of actually visiting a psychiatrist. Then, of course, there is also the shame and embarrassment associated with going to a psychiatrist-which is largely due to the way psychiatrists themselves have characterized mental illness in a sales campaign that backfired. The only customers they have, the only ones willing to pay for their services (and very generously) are governments, particularly the clandestine arms of the government, or those that desire to control people, be they prisoners, children or society’s unwanted.
These, then, constitute the force that tried to stop Dianetics and Scientology.
And this is the world Dianetics entered. A world where psychiatry was entrenched among the US intelligence services, living off the fat of government grants, and experimenting-with the help of ex-Nazi scientists-on an oblivious public. A world where their critics were simply labeled insane and “in need of psychiatric help.”
Thus the battle lines were drawn. Dianetics offered a means to happiness, stability and success. It provided a solution to psychosomatic illnesses. It created an interest in the workings of the mind among people of all classes and ages. And it gave the man in the street a method that, for the first time, he himself could utilize to improve his own condition. Additionally, it should be kept in mind that L. Ron Hubbard achieved something that psychiatrists have long been attempting to achieve: to write a book about the mind that was genuinely popular, that people actually wanted to read, that was both understandable and applicable.
But Dianetics did more. It labeled the latest and greatest psychiatric drugs as dangerous. And it directly exposed the inhuman crimes of psychiatrists and the harm they caused with ECT and lobotomies, clearly substantiating the irreparable damage these treatments caused to healthy brain tissue.
That mental health professionals were incensed by Mr. Hubbard’s not-so-gentle upbraiding is understandable, particularly as he was not a member of their elitist clique. But when all was said and done, the issue was clearly financial: How long could one continue to convince the American taxpayer to foot the bill for multimillion-dollar psychiatric appropriations in the face of what Dianetics could accomplish for the price of a book?
The Marshaling of Forces
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