Scientology vs. Psychiatry by Stephen A. Kent
Over 60 years ago, founder L. Ron Hubbard began what has become Scientology’s greatest battle. Scientology emerged from Dianetics, which Hubbard hoped would replace the psychiatric profession. In this article, we discuss how Scientology attempted to position itself as a rival profession to psychiatry and the consequences of those attempts. Scientology’s battle with psychiatry gained some success from the social conditions during which it emerged, but it continues in a time that has seen increasing success with various psychiatric treatments. As such, Scientology’s direct influence on the psychiatric profession may be difficult to measure, but its actions have coincided with substantial challenges to psychiatry.
For decades, Scientology has waged a worldwide war against psychiatry. This war began with Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986), and continues under his successor, David Miscavige (b. 1960). It aims to eradicate psychiatric practice (especially psychiatrists’ use of pharmaceuticals) from the planet and replace it with Scientology’s own techniques. Scientology began as Dianetics, which was a supposed alternative to other 1950s mental health therapies. Scientology’s membership, which in the United States was approximately 25,000 in 2008 and included notable celebrities, promotes its various goals consisting of religious doctrines, “political aspirations, business operations, cultural productions, pseudo-medical practice, pseudo-psychiatric practice, social services …, and alternative family structures” (Kent, 1999a, p. 4; 2011, p. 134).1