Saturday, June 25, 2005

Scientologists vs. Psychiatrists: Why they don't get along

A contributor's explanation for the conflict.


At 12:41 PM, Blogger Lee Killough said...

Just out of curiosity, is anyone here a Scientologist?

I've never been a Scientologist, nor I have I knowingly met one.

I'm an atheist.

I find a lot of atheists like to use Scientology to knock down religion, and some go on to prop up psychiatry. Some psychiatrists seem to need Scientologists as a scapegoat.

Christian Scientists don't believe in medical treatment, and yet you don't hear doctors complaining about Christian Scientists hurting medical care that people need, or hear of Christian Scientists being forced into medical procedures they don't like.

Why, then, this fight between psychiatry and Scientologists? Could it be that psychiatry is different from medicine, in that it is often coercive?

In the 80's and 90's, back when "satanic cults" were the rage, and you heard of cases of people being "rescued" from cults involuntarily, I feared a Waco-style massacre.

Although I don't like religious cults and think some of them are dangerous, like ones which perform involuntary exorcisms, I think adults should have the right to associate with them. It's hard to draw the line between religious coercion and consensual religious sadomasochism.

For adults, certainly, we should err on the side of leaving things alone. For children, unless there's clear and present danger, some sort of probable cause test should apply, and no children forcibly removed from a religious institution without their parent/guardian's consent or a judge's order.

I think Scientology is relatively benign compared to some religions, and that it and psychiatry have chosen to fight each other.

Like Szasz says, are Skeptics more interested in the differences between true and false beliefs, or in the differences between consensual and coercive actions?

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Sheldon Richman said...

I would second this comment.

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Nicolas Martin said...

Except to their own adherents, religions are usually benign to the degree that they are politically powerless. In the West, the powers of religions are now dwarfed by those of governments. Given a close alliance with government, Scientology (like Mormonism) would probably become a threat to liberty, but as a politically weak religion it is a useful ally against psychiatry.

Most interesting is the way almost all churches have abandoned personal responsibility as a meaningful creed. They have bark but no bite; directing the faithful to more potent psychiatric sacraments. As we know, though, you can't be both "sick" and responsible, although this fictional duality is sustained to a degree.


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