This Just In: No Church Owns the Idea of Human Rights

August 9, 2009 at 12:18 pm 5 comments

   I’m just going to go ahead and put this out there. Frankly, it seems pretty obvious to me but proponents of invasive psychiatry like to overstate the Scientology connection when talking about the psychiatric rights movement. Don’t get me wrong — I can see how the question would arise occasionally as the Scientology backed Citizens Commission on Human Rights is, for better or worse, the PETA of antipsychiatry. However, it has gotten to the point now that when advocates of the medical model of psychiatry are presented with an opposing view, their knee-jerk reaction is often to toss the label of “Scientologist” at their opponent and dismiss their argument as baseless. 

   It seems strange and strangely weak to assert that a belief in basic human rights and a belief that those rights should be upheld in the mental health system is only concurrent with a belief in any one religion. I refuse to accept the often presented false choice that you must either blindly accept whatever the pharma-funded psychiatric industry tells you and excuse all of its resultant actions; or profess your faith in a science-fiction based religion with a blemished history and, at the very least, questionable current practices. Maybe it’s just easier to discredit a religion than a movement truly rooted in rights and equality so they have to be grouped together to be jointly dismissed. Is it really so unfathomable that a person professing any number of religions or none at all would dare to question the infallibility of, well — anything?

I believe in fundamental human rights and equality, in autonomy of care, in  choosing your own way to get through life and that the ability to do so is all the more important when those choices have greater consequence. I don’t need a religion to tell me that forced drugging, shock and imprisonment for thought are wrong. I don’t need a religion to tell me that disregarding the physical health and emotional well-being of children in exchange for “acceptable” behavior is wrong and I don’t need a religion to tell me that suppressing emotions and behaviors instead of working through problems is an ineffective and harmful practice.


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  • 1. Leah  |  August 9, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    This is so right on. I have always struggled with Scientology and our movement, and I am pretty open about that. They freak me about because basically they want everyone to quit one authoritarian cult (psychiatry) and join another authoritarian cult (theirs).

    That seems quite different than our aim, which is to create a culture of freedom from oppression and self-determination over our own lives. For its own sake, not because we are selling any other “cure” to people.

    Unfortunately those who wish to discredit us always lump us with Scientology, but even if Scientology didn’t take up our cause, the opponents would be able to find a plethora of other reasons to try to discredit us, including the simple fact that we are so-called “crazy.”

    I love what you say about how no religion can claim ownership of human rights.


    • 2. abellve  |  August 10, 2009 at 11:52 am

      I couldn’t agree more. I keep trying to reply but just end up restating what you just wrote. It is interesting to note how much psychiatry is really based on faith and not proof — faith in the almighty “chemical imbalance” or unfound biological root to perceived mental illness. Psychiatry relies on our faith in these theories to exist but they’ve proven them as much as Scientology has proven the existence of Xenu.

  • 3. Katie  |  August 10, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I would like to point out:

    1. Your argument AGAINST psychiatric abuse of human rights just abused the right to religion.

    By discrediting the religion of Scientology with gullible and incorrect facts, you have just shown that the opinions of Scientologists, EVEN IF Scientologists are working along side you in your goals of freedom and human rights and mental health ethics, do not account for anything.

    Congratulations, you just showed your agreement with AND against a religion whose practices are no stranger than reading the bible and applying it to daily life, talking to a respected friend, and raising money for various awareness groups. I hope one day you take the time to actually LEARN about the group you wish to discredit, otherwise your argument against psychiatric abuse and Scientology alike will never be paid attention to.

    • 4. KHorn  |  August 10, 2009 at 5:47 pm

      Criticizing a religion or certain religious beliefs is in no way ‘abusing’ the right to religion. abellve is able to say whatever he wants about any religion or religious practice without infringing on your right to believe whatever you want. I often exercise my right to criticize (sometimes even mock and ridicule) the religious beliefs of others, while fully respecting their right to believe whatever they want.

    • 5. abellve  |  August 10, 2009 at 8:00 pm

      Wow, where to begin. In no way did my argument against abuses of human rights abuse anyone’s rights to religion. I can’t abuse someone else’s rights and if you mean I infringed upon your rights as KHorn also inferred, I did no such thing. I’ve done nothing to limit your rights at all or imply that anyone should.

      Secondly, I haven’t discredited or even tried to discredit Scientology, nor do I wish to in this venue. I’ve simply separated myself from it. If you feel as though i’ve done so with incorrect facts, I welcome you to put forth the truth as you see it.

      To abhor violations of basic human rights is not a proprietary moral value unique to Scientology, whether those abuses happen in the name of psychiatry or anything else. You’ll notice that was the very point of my presenting this post in the first place–the title of the post for that matter. It’s like saying opposition to segregation was uniquely Baptist because Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr was a Baptist minister.

      As Leah said so well, our goal is “to create a culture of freedom from oppression and self-determination over our own lives–for its own sake.” I would fight on your behalf to defend your rights whether I believe in what you’re saying or not. I’m on here in defense of January Schofield and I’m not convinced of the reality of invisible talking rats either. What someone thinks may be of no particular interest to me but freedom of thought is of more interest to me than you are likely to ever know.


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