September 11, 2008

you can't spell Freud without feud, but you can have Scientology without science

I came across a great little column piece today, written by Bruce E. Levine at The Huffington Post. "Thinking Critically About Scientology, Psychiatry, and Their Feud" intelligently gets to the point of the source of the friction between society at large and those who counsel or medicate their patients for psychological distress; those who...
...merely assist their patients to adjust [into inhospitable environments], but neglect to validate their patients' alienation from society.

Those comfortably atop societal hierarchies have difficulty recognizing that many American institutions promote helplessness, passivity, boredom, fear, isolation, alienation, and dehumanization for those not at the top. One-size-fits-all schools, the corporate workplace, government bureaucracies, and other giant, impersonal institutions routinely promote manipulative relationships rather than respectful ones, machine efficiency rather than human pride, authoritarian hierarchies rather than participatory democracy, disconnectedness rather than community, and helplessness rather than empowerment.
Levine also nicely encapsulates Scientology's criticism of and therefore ironic similarity to psychiatry:
The source of the mutual hostility between psychiatry and the Church of Scientology, as depicted by the mass media, centers around psychotropic drug use; but my sense is that the root cause of their feud is a fierce competition between them. Both establishment psychiatry and Scientology are competing for the same people -- those more comfortable with authority, dogma, and insider jargon than with critical thinking.

Both the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard and psychiatry's DSM (the official diagnostic manual in which mental illnesses are voted in and out by elite psychiatrists) have much more to do with dogma than science.
This is an important distinction. Many psychiatrists, like medical doctors, seek to heal rather than harm further, but doctors have material tools whose misapplication is generally more directly observable. They also inherit a long history of hard medical science and generally more solid research behind their diagnoses, (non-psychiatric) medications and procedures. Besides, as I pointed out a few posts below, the DSM is printed on dirty banknotes. It makes some awfully dubious claims about conditions that are often only further cemented by poorly conceived diagnostic pronouncements and further aggravated by poorly researched psychiatric drugs.
It is my experience that psychiatry, Scientology, and fundamentalist religions are turnoffs for genuinely critical thinkers. Critical thinkers are not so desperate to adjust and be happy that they ignore adverse affects -- be they physical, psychological, spiritual, or societal. Critical thinkers listen to what others have to say while considering their motives, especially their financial ones; and they discern how one's motivation may distort one's assumptions.
Actually, just read the whole thing. It's short and concise. So short, I've already quoted about a third of it. Thanks to Gianna for my first exposure to the article and this columnist.

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Panda said...

Psychiatrists are quacks. Given a choice, I'd take Scientologists.

Gianna said...

I appreciate your sentiment completely!!

Froscha Wenig said...

Scientologists make better music too. Not so much better movies...