Thursday, April 18, 2024

Scientology is Bad Medicine

There is no actual "science" in Scientology.  Like Christian "Science," it is a faith-healing cult with some naturalistic fallacy in the mix.

Scientology's e-meter
The pseudo-science begins with L. Ron Hubbard's appropriation of a gadget called an "e-meter," or electropsychometer, which measures galvanic skin response.  It is akin to a "lie detector" (which is also pseudo-science).  The mark stooge customer (Scientology began as a business, not a religion) holds two "cans" while answering a series of questions posed by an "auditor."  The process is called auditing.  L. Ron Hubbard believed (or claimed to believe) that "engrams" were imprinted on the brain by traumatic experiences, going back to birth or possibly gestation.  When it became clear that there was a dead-end to the process, which meant a dead-end to the grift, Hubbard came up with the idea that traumas from past lives carried into present lives.  And if that wasn't enough to keep the grift going, the e-meter was supposed to capture memories of "overts" and "withholds," akin to crimes of commission and omission in Catholicism, from the present lifetime and earlier lifetimes.

The danger of this seems minimal on the surface.  Who cares if people want to believe in nonsense?  And people who have undergone this system find some benefit -- they have the attention of one person, sometimes for hours at a time and over the course of months to years, and they experience a kind of trance that may be soothing.  So as a form of talk therapy, it's not completely useless.  Actual talk therapy grounded in evidence-based methodology would be better, though.

And this is the danger of pseudo-medicine:  the person who accepts this kind of "treatment" forgoes treatment that is actually better.  Hubbard's e-meter methodology was rejected by actual psychologists and psychiatrists after the publication of his book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health  in 1950.  They recognized it (rightly) as quackery.  He responded by making psychology and psychiatry the enemies of Scientology.  (Scientology replaced Dianeticism for reasons I won't go into here.)

Hubbard continued to invent treatment methods to "treat" both physical and emotional illnesses, all dangerous.  Scientology became a method to make "the able more able," so people with actual psychiatric disorders were denied entry to the cult!  If his methods really worked, why wouldn't they work for schizophrenia?

Scientologists have died due to his methods, either because they refused useful treatment, or directly from the "tech" (techniques).  I fear that others may have died because of Scientology's propaganda against psychiatry and psychiatric medication.  Tom Cruise's infamous interview with Matt Lauer is the result of this brain-washing.  (Scientology crazy talk begins at 8:11)

Cruise parroted talking points of 1950s L. Ron Hubbard, especially criticizing electro-shock therapy and the history of psychiatry.  Scientologists don't keep up with advances in medicine, because they consider the words of L. Ron Hubbard, a.k.a. "Source," as inviolable, and L. Ron Hubbard didn't bother studying advances in medicine.  Any legitimate criticism of psychiatry is obfuscated by this utter balderdash (substitute your own b-word if you wish).

Scientology's "methods" beyond the e-meter include the "Purification Rundown," a required "cleansing" ritual involving dangerously high levels of niacin and hours in a sauna, and sequestering a person experiencing a psychotic break in a bare room with no outside contacts except to receive food.  For physical ailments, they conduct a "touch assist," in which one member touches the sick member's body in specific ways that may indeed resolve pain through hypnosis, but is not at all curative.

Scientology is responsible for numerous deaths, and they should be banned from operating simply due to their bad "medicine."  The following are some of the more well known examples:

Elli Perkins was stabbed to death by her son, Jeremy, in 2003.  He suffered from schizophrenia, but never received anti-psychotic medication.  He killed her because of his delusions.  CBS News's website details his symptoms and lack of care here.  Despite his obvious psychiatric symptoms, his mother forced him into a vitamin regime (probably the Purification Rundown, or perhaps simply niacin overdosing), and when that didn't work, took him to a non-Scientology quack.  In the years since Hubbard's rejection of psychiatry, many medications were developed that could have helped Jeremy and prevented this tragic loss of life.  This is indeed a sin of omission (or "withhold") for which this "church" should be held responsible!  Sadly, other mentally ill children of Scientologists have killed their parents.

Lisa McPherson died in 1995 after being confined as "treatment" for a psychotic break.  Called the "Introspection Rundown" it is extremely cruel, especially in light of Scientology's claims that psychiatry was cruel. Psychiatry had long ago abandoned the "padded "cell," which at least protected inhabitants from self harm.  Scientology couldn't even do that for its patients victims.  Mike Rinder, who left Scientology in 2005, discusses the first use of this technique in his book, A Billion Years: My Escape from a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology.  Lisa McPherson was finally taken to a hospital, but not the closest one.  She went to a hospital where a Scientologist who was an M.D. worked, and she was dead on arrival.  David Minkoff (father of fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff) shamefully received a slap on the hand (one year suspension of his license and a settlement that's a pittance in light of his wealth) and now runs a natural "health" business.  Quackwatch, an excellent site that uncovers medical pseudoscience posted the State of Florida's findings in the case.

  • Suicides in Scientology are too numerous to list here - assuming they were actually suicides.  Scientology's homophobia may have been the motivation for L. Ron Hubbard's son, Quentin, to run a hose from the exhaust pipe of his car into the passenger compartment.  Scientology's pseudo-"treatment" for drug addiction (vitamins and saunas), through a company called "Narcanon," is responsible for several suicides.
  • Flo Barnett, mother-in-law of current Scientology leader David Miscavige, shot herself... or did she?  The Village Voice wrote a lengthy article about her death, "The Strange Death of Flo Barnett, Mother-in-Law to Scientology Leader David Miscavige" in 2012.  The author was Tony Ortega, staff writer for The Village Voice until 2012, who is now an independent journalist reporting on Scientology.  (Follow his Substack blog, The Underground Bunker,  here)
  • Kaja Ballo, a college student in Nice, France, took her life after learning the "results" of the personality test that Scientology uses to lure new members.  Its so called "Oxford Capacity Analysis," which has no association with Oxford and no basis in research, guarantees to find some kind of problem that only auditing can fix.  Kaja seems to have believed the crap she was handed -- dead from Scientology before even joining!  Scientology has targeted college students almost from the beginning, and just recently opened a recruitment center near the University of Texas-Austin.

Physical illnesses have also claimed the lives of Scientologists:

  • Alexander Jentzsch died from pneumonia after being offered only a "touch assist" for his breathing difficulty.  He had been taking pain killers for a back injury, but wasn't offered an antibiotic or even a trip to the doctor for his pneumonia.
  • Celebrities Kirstie Alley and Kelly Preston (wife of John Travolta) died from cancer.  Is this a coincidence?  Or is it due to them believing Scientology's promise of immunity from cancer?  (Newsweek covered the question in depth in 2022)
  • Cancer may also be caused by asbestos on the Scientology boat, the Freewinds, or from L. Ron Hubbard claiming that cancer isn't caused by smoking cigarettes but by not smoking enough cigarettes.  Smoking is certainly common amongst Scientology worker bees in the Sea Organization.  Sunny Pereira's guest post on Tony Ortega's blog talks about smoking (and cussing) in the Sea Org.
  • Epilepsy, which is easily treated with medication, may have killed John Travolta's son Jett, and it  nearly killed Tory Christman, who has spoken out against Scientology since 2000.  (She discusses medical abuse in this video from 2009.)  Epilepsy medication occupies a gray area in Scientology, but since it works on the mind, many members believe it should be avoided just as they avoid psychiatric medication.  And of course, Scientology's faith healing "tech" would be the solution.

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