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Citizens Commission on Human Rights
Formation 1969
Type Scientology-related advocacy group
Legal status Non-profit
Headquarters Los Angeles, California, U.S.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is an advocacy group established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and psychiatrist Thomas Szasz.[1][2][3] The group promotes several video campaigns which support views against psychiatry. The organization holds that mental illness is not a medical disease, and that the use of psychiatric medication is a destructive and fraudulent practice.[4] The CCHR continues to be entirely controlled by and subject to policy directives issued from the Church of Scientology. The group is headquartered in Los Angeles, California.[5]


Views of psychiatry

CCHR's views on psychiatry are a reflection of the position held by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, whose writings express very strong opinions against psychiatry.[6][7] CCHR advocates that there is no biological evidence to support psychiatric theories of mental disorders.

Efforts for psychiatric reform

CCHR promotional leaflet, inviting members of the public to "report psychiatric abuse"

The CCHR has lobbied for legislative reform on mental health issues.[7] The group has organized media campaigns against various psychiatrists, psychiatric organizations and pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Prozac. One campaign is said to have caused a major fall in sales of Prozac, causing considerable commercial damage to the company.[8]

The group campaigned against the use of Ritalin for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, a disorder which the organization dismisses as nonexistent.[9][10][11] The campaign was part of the Ritalin class action lawsuits against Novartis (the manufacturer of Ritalin), CHADD, and the American Psychiatric Association (APA); all five lawsuits were dismissed in 2002.

In 2004, the CCHR sponsored a bill requiring doctors to provide patients with information about a medication's side effects before prescribing any psychotropic drugs, while also mandating a legal guardian's signature.[3] Opponents of the bill argued that these additional procedures might discriminate against mentally-ill patients while delaying treatment.[3] The bill attracted widespread disagreement from the medical establishment, including the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, who opposed it on the grounds that it compromised informed consent.[3] The Massachusetts Psychiatric Society also opposed the bill, believing that it would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.[3]

On October 5, 2006, National Mental Health Screening Day, the CCHR picketed outside of Riverside Community Care in Wakefield, Massachusetts, holding a protest rally against mental health screening. According to journalist Gary Band in the Wakefield Observer, "The protest fell somewhat flat because Riverside has not conducted these screenings since 2001."[12]

"Psychiatry: An Industry of Death" museum

In December 2005, CCHR opened the "Psychiatry: An Industry of Death" Museum on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. The museum has displays alleging psychiatry's long-standing "master plan" for world domination, Adolf Hitler's central role in the plan, and in the words of reporter Andrew Gumbel, "a display holding psychiatry to blame for the deaths of Ernest Hemingway, Del Shannon, Billie Holiday, and Kurt Cobain..."[13][14]

Chelmsford Hospital and DST

From 1988 to 1990 the Australian government held the Chelmsford royal commission inquiry into Deep Sleep Therapy (DST). For a decade prior, the CCHR had been pushing for an investigation of the Chelmsford Private Hospital in New South Wales, and its head, Dr. Harry Bailey, who had been practicing DST from 1963 to 1979.[15] Honorable Justice John (J. P.) Slattery, Royal Commissioner, is quoted as stating that the CCHR "contributed considerably to advance the cause of the Chelmsford patients in their campaign for an open inquiry into the hospital." The inquiry discovered that deep sleep therapy had killed 24 patients, not counting patients who had it who had killed themselves, and close to a thousand had suffered brain damage.[16] Of the former patients, 152 received reparations from a fund totaling in excess of 5 million dollars.[17]

Chelmsford Hospital was forced to close in 1990, and two of its psychiatric staff were brought on charges in 1992.[18] Dr. Bailey himself stepped down in 1979 due to the CCHR's protest campaign, and committed suicide by drug overdose in 1985, the night before he was subpoenaed to appear in court.[19]His suicide note read, in part: "Let it be known that the Scientologists and the forces of madness have won."[20]

Relationship with Scientology

Although the organization is sponsored by the Church of Scientology,[21][22] it emphasizes that its composition is diverse and not merely that of Scientologists. Although the organizations are incorporated separately, they are regarded by the United States Government as part of the Church of Scientology's network of corporate entities. In 1993, the US Internal Revenue Service granted CCHR tax exemption as part of an agreement with the Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center (RTC) under which the RTC took responsibility for CCHR's tax liabilities.

CCHR's relationship with the Church of Scientology is mediated through the Church's Office of Special Affairs (OSA).[23] Critics of Scientology have charged that CCHR is merely a front group for the Church and have pointed to internal Church documents that appear to describe CCHR's campaigns as a means of extending the influence of the Church of Scientology. Until recent years, a number of CCHR offices were listed at Church of Scientology Org locations. Scientologists are religiously committed never to take psychiatric drugs and to reject psychology outright.


In 1988, the CCHR said that Professor Sir Martin Roth of Newcastle University had used LSD in tests on mental patients in the 1960s.[24] The statements were publicised in the Newcastle Times newspaper, which was ordered by an English court to pay "very substantial" libel damages to Roth after the court found that CCHR's claims were "highly defamatory" and "utterly false."[24]

The group has implied that the September 11 attacks were influenced by psychiatrists.[13] Hubbard says psychiatrists caused decline in the universe eons ago.[25]


Retired neurologist Dr. Fred Baughman has served as a medical expert for the CCHR.[26]

Although psychiatrist Peter Breggin worked with CCHR until 1972, Breggin later dissociated himself from the organization in 1974 as a result of his disagreements with actions taken by the Church of Scientology.

Dr Lois Achimovich, the first child psychiatrist at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, publicly commended the CCHR in comments posted on the group's website.[4] She thanked the organization, commenting that they were successfully working towards engaging the psychologically disturbed in a humane way.[4]


  1. ^ Fink (2004). Ethics in Electroconvulsive Therapy. Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge. pp. 12. ISBN 0-415-94659-X.  
  2. ^ Thompson, Marie (2007). Mental Illness. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. pp. 96. ISBN 0-313-33565-6.  
  3. ^ a b c d e Benjamin, Gedan. "Bill Would Curtail Presecriptions for Mentally Ill". The Boston Globe.  
  4. ^ a b c Kent, Melissa (2006-01-18). "Strange meeting of minds takes place". The West Australian (Perth).  
  5. ^ "CCHR Chapters Worldwide." Citizens Commission on Human Rights. Retrieved on September 26, 2009.
  6. ^ E. Fuller Torrey and Michael B. Knable. (2005). Surviving Manic Depression. New York: Basic Books. p. 295. ISBN 0-465-08664-0.  
  7. ^ a b Scientology's War on Psychiatry," Salon, July 1, 2005
  8. ^ Thomas M. Burton, "Anti-Depression Drug Of Eli Lilly Loses Sales After Attack by Sect', Wall Street Journal, April 19, 1991, p. A1.
  9. ^ Suits, Protests Fuel a Campaign Against Psychiatry, Los Angeles Times, June 29, 1990
  10. ^ Hawleshka, Danylo (2006-05-10). "A new war over Ritalin". Retrieved 2009-02-07.  
  11. ^ Kennedy Takes Aim at Ritalin Provision, Roll Call, May 7, 2003
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b Andrew Gumbel, "Scientology vs. Science," Los Angeles City Beat, January 12, 2006
  14. ^ "Showbiz Tonight," CNN, December 20, 2005
  15. ^ [1]Australian Dictionary of Biography-Bailey, Harry Richard, pp 48-49, Melbourne University Press
  16. ^ [2]Chelmsford Private Hospital Patient Compensation-New South Wales Parliament-April 22, 1991
  17. ^ [3] 'Inside 60 Minutes'
  18. ^ [4] Walton v. Gardiner, Herron and McDonald (1993)
  19. ^ [5]Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bailey, Harry Richard, pp 48-49, Melbourne University Press
  20. ^ The Melbourne Age, April 22, 1991.
  21. ^ ""Rubbish", says Dr Alexander Leaf, chief of medicine at the ECT cut in California". New Scientist 75: 535. July 1977.  
  22. ^ Valerie L. Love; Edna D. Copeland (1992). Attention Without Tension: A Teacher's Handbook on Attention Disorders (ADHD and ADD). Atlanta, Ga: Resurgens Press. pp. 114. ISBN 0-929519-10-8.  
  23. ^ Stephen A. Kent, "The Globalization of Scientology: Influence, Control and Opposition in Transnational Markets," Religion, v. 29, n. 2, April 1999, p.147-169
  24. ^ a b "Prof's Libel Victory Over LSD Claims". Northern Echo. June 22, 1990.  
  25. ^ Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin August 26, 1982, "Pain and Sex". Cited in Atack, Jon (1990). A Piece of Blue Sky. New York, NY: Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8184-0499-X.  , p. 288. "[The psychs] are the sole cause of decline in this universe ..."
  26. ^ PBS - frontline: medicating kids: interviews: fred baughman

See also

External links

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