In 1969, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) was established to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights and to clean up the field of mental healing. For well over a century, psychiatric theory had held that because neither spiritual matters nor the mind could be measured with physical instruments, they did not exist and had no place in mental health treatment.
Typical psychiatric practice meant that patients were treated like animals—they were stripped of their legal rights and possessions, brutalized and warehoused in degrading conditions. Inmates were terrorized with electric shock treatment, often as punishment and without consent. Psychiatric lobotomies and other psychosurgical procedures destroyed minds and lives. Powerful neuroleptic (nerve seizing) drugs caused irreversible brain and nervous system damage making patients sluggish, apathetic and less alert. Furthermore, patients were assaulted and sexually abused—all under the guise of “therapy.” Any claim of a scientific basis was a hoax.
Consider the story of Hollywood actress Frances Farmer, who over a six-year period in the 1940s appeared in eighteen films, three Broadway plays and thirty major radio shows, all before the age of twenty-seven. Then, suffering from a series of failed relationships and addicted to amphetamines for weight control, Farmer was admitted to a Washington State psychiatric hospital. Raped by orderlies, prostituted by hospital staff to soldiers from a nearby military base, locked in a cage, subjected to electroshock and insulin shock treatments, given ice-cold “shock” baths, powerful, debilitating drugs and psychosurgery—Frances Farmer’s personality and career were destroyed.
Unlike many, Farmer survived and was able to tell of her experiences: “Never console yourself into believing that the terror has passed, for it looms as large and as evil today as it did in the despicable era of Bedlam. But I must relate the horrors as I recall them, in the hope that some force for Mankind might be moved to relieve forever the unfortunate creatures who are still imprisoned in the back wards of decaying institutions.”
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights is that force.
Inspired by visionary humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard—who identified the abuse inherent in psychiatry’s acts when he said, “There must not be any influential group dedicated to Man’s degradation,” —CCHR today is the preeminent international psychiatric watchdog.
Established by the Church of Scientology as an independent social reform group and co-founded by Dr. Thomas Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus , CCHR is responsible for many hundreds of international reforms gained through testimony before legislative hearings, its own public inquiries into psychiatric abuse, and its work with media, law enforcement and public officials.
Through CCHR’s diligence, thousands of victims of abuse have been rescued; patients have regained their legal and civil rights; mental health acts around the world have prohibited the arbitrary use of electroshock treatment, psychosurgery and banned deep sleep (narcosis) treatment and insulin shock. Legislation now exists to ensure psychiatric rape of patients is dealt with through the criminal courts, and many hundreds damaged by psychiatric “treatment” have been compensated. Internationally, drug regulatory agencies now regularly warn of psychotropic drug risks.
However, psychiatrists’ power to coerce parents into putting their children on very dangerous psychotropic drugs condemns us to a deepening drug culture and the subversion of the family unit. Twenty million children worldwide are prescribed antidepressants that cause violent and suicidal behavior. This includes children younger than one year old who are now being prescribed mind-altering drugs. Millions more of our young are prescribed a stimulant that is more potent than cocaine. Therefore, CCHR’s job remains formidable and its watchdog role of preventing human rights abuses all the more vital.
For many psychiatric victims, CCHR is their only hope, the one group willing to listen that will not attribute their very serious complaints to the “delusions” of “mental illness.” Through CCHR’s work, countless lives have been saved or salvaged from the personal degradation that follows in the wake of psychiatric treatment.
Today, CCHR proudly continues its watchdog role with over 250 chapters in more than 34 countries—numbers that keep growing year after year—in what is nothing less than a global fight for the dignity and decency of Man. More vital than ever, CCHR’s work will only be complete when psychiatry’s fraudulent practices are eliminated and it is held accountable for its harmful treatments and human rights violations.
President, Citizens Commission
on Human Rights International