Sunday, July 15, 2007

Scientology Cited in Australian Murders

The daughter of a Scientologist couple is currently on trial for the murder of her father, her fifteen-year-old sister, and the attempted murder of her mother. She was diagnosed as psychotic in late-2006 and it is alleged that her parents, being good Scientologists, refused her medical treatment. Scientology has painted psychiatry as the villain in the history of the human race, even in being co-conspirators (along, tellingly, with the tax man) of Xenu in the Teegeack genocide, the so-called Incident II. One of the key pursuits of scientology is the defamation and destruction of the field of psychiatry. The Church used their 2007 New Year celebration to push their desire of the global obliteration of the field, complete with the same kind of metaphorical calls to arms that put critic Keith Henson in prison. Ironically many of the criticisms CoS have of psychiatry, Scientology itself is guilty of. They claim psychiatry is not an evidence-based science, that it has inhumane practices, that it denies individuals their human rights, that it is criminal but manages to evade justice on a meaningful scale due to a conspiratorial web of power.

Yet Scientology states it has evidence to back up its own scientific claims, from the supposed benefits of Dianetics, through to its rehab programs and even the more outlandish claims of past lives and the powers said to open up to a scientologist when he reaches the top of the bridge to freedom - this evidence is often cited but never seen. Scientologists have been guilty of crimes as seen in Operations Snow White and Freakout. In the "treatment" of Lisa McPherson she was confined against her will, as documented by the watch logs. Scientology has a long history of out-of-court settlements and a habit of offloading its crimes onto its followers so that the Church itself never appears in the dock (despite the fact that when a psychiatrist breaks the law, he is seen by Scientology as committing a crime on behalf of psychiatry itself).

The case in Australia is not unique; in fact it parallels closely the Elli Perkins murder. She, too, tried to treat her psychotic child, Jeremy, with vitamins. She too was stabbed to death for her troubles. That Scientology's attitude to psychiatry and psychiatric illness seems clearly irresponsible (Lisa McPherson, once taken out of the "evil" care of psychiatry was then looked after by Flag staff members clearly unable to deal with her illness) goes almost without saying. Even if their criticisms of psychiatry stand up, Scientology does not satisfactorily provide a replacement. The big mistake is that Scientology relies on standard procedure - Hubbard praised himself for establishing rundowns that worked for everyone so long as they are followed to the letter. One of the things that psychiatry realises, and struggles with, is that the various conditions they encounter are fantastically difficult to categorise, and, as a result, treat effectively. Scientology, from what this blogger has seen, finds it even difficult to recognise the difference between clinical depression and a case of the doldrums.

The tragedy in Australia is not as clear-cut as the death of Elli Perkins, however. The daughter had been allowed back onto her medication for the last three weeks as it helped her sleep. If we attempt to find a cause, or apportion blame, how are we to tell whether it was the deprivation of medication, or the medication itself. In a sense, that the waters are muddied like this will only serve to invite debate, which I suspect will be detrimental to the Church's position. There are few critical thinkers out there who cannot see the lack of logic in the following: a psychotic person is put on medication; the psychotic person then commits murder; the murder occured due to the medication. This is what Scientology believes. They also believe this: a depressive person is put on anti-depressants; the depressive person commits suicide; the medication caused the suicide. It is an oft-repeated observation, but the Church's position is akin to blaming cancer deaths on chemotherapy. The Church has long since withdrawn its support for Hubbard's statement that Dianetics can cure leukemia. I suspect it is about time that they withdraw their claims regarding serious psychological disorders.

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