Mindfreedom and Scientology

We are often asked about a connection between Mindfreedom, Scientology and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). We do not know the answer, but present the following facts to assist readers in drawing their own conclusions. By presenting these facts, we do not mean to cast aspersions on Scientology, by suggesting any connection with Mindfreedom, or vice-versa.

Mindfreedom claims to be a human rights mental health organization. Their Executive Director is David Oaks. Mindfreedom believes mental illness does not exist and psychiatry is torture.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), is a Scientology off-shoot. They believe mental illness does not exist and psychiatry is torture.

Mindfreedom claims no connection to ScientologyMindFreedom has no connection to CCHR or Church of Scientology.” Mindfreedom goes on to say they are not critical of Scientology “This is not to criticize any group…”

Scientogy claims they are not associated with Mindfreedom. On the CCHR website they say: “Although CCHR International does not condone or promote any specific practitioner… we have found the below resources to be helpful…Mindfreedom”.

Mindfreedom refers people to CCHR. David Oaks, the Executive Director of Mindfreedom posted the following to the organizations’ Facebook Page (Quoted in entirety): “A new must-see video produced by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International graphically demonstrates the fraudulent nature of all psychiatry’s labels and how children are falsely labled and drugged for profit” The Mindfreedom link was to this CCHR video claiming psychiatry kills children.

CCHR refers people to Mindfreedom. Their “right to be informed” page lists Mindfreedom as a resource.

In March 2011, we Googled Mindfreedom and Scientology and got over 67,000 hits.

In March 2011, we Googled Mindfreedom and CCHR and got over 25,000 hits.

Ex-Mindfreedom Member Claims “Mindfreedom Fails to Address Bullying and Has Links to Scientology

Mindfreedom claims “zero” link to Scientology: “MFI has zero links with or funding from the Church of Scientology, or its group Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR);” However, In 2010, a Mindfreedom member who–as a result of his feeling bullied by Mindfreedom–left the organization and went public with his experiences as part of Mindfreedom. The title of his post was, “MindFreedom Fails to Address Bullying and Has Links to Scientology”. He complained about the

“culture of bullying that has obviously built up INSIDE MindFreedom that is full of victims that don’t know how to protect themselves… I cried out for help and was, perversely, bullied again by some MindFreedom members. That bullying almost completely destroyed me.” He went on to reveal, “A member of Scientology drew me in, via the MindFreedom list,  into a discussion via email. He was trying to recruit me as it turned out. Only an organisation that fails to address issues such as bullying can have anything to do with Scientology. A confirmed money making cult and abuser of it’s own members.”

When Mindfreedom went to the consumers blog to deny Mindfreedom was associated with Scientology, and asked why he wrote the claim, the consumer responded:

I don’t publish these posts lightly you know. “Unhappiness” was the results of bullying which ALMOST DESTROYED ME… but you and others continue to ignore that because you cannot be HONEST about these events. THAT is why I have the link to Scientology because it is IDENTICAL to the same cult like behaviour that tried to shut up those who might “damage the cause”. That is why people have been damaged by Scientology. Their grievances are never addressed. Ask the young people you see in various Youtube videos why they are protesting outside various Scientology headquarters. Because they still have some COMMONSENSE. There is none in MindFreedom. My mind was quickly FROZEN and I could see the same thing had happened to others. I tried to address those issues through posts and phone calls but I was basically politely stonewalled because dissenters are treated as “damaging to the cause”.

In reaction to that, Mindfreedom Executive Director David Oaks criticized those who brought this to the public attention and Mr. Oaks admitted that Scientologist use Mindfreedom to recruit members when he played it down by writing: “Earlier in 2010, a member contacted the MFI e-mail lists and MFI office stating that he was in crisis and needed urgent support. …MFI office spent some extra time to forward his plea for help to a number of MFI members via our e-mail lists….One of several individuals to contact MFI’s troubled member, was an individual who has utilized Scientology in his own recovery, and he recommended that approach.” Previously, Mr. Oaks had claimed not to know the religious affiliations of Mindfreedom members. After this incident David Oaks of Mindfreedom wrote, “Are some individual members of MFI also members of Scientology? Yes, a few members are.He did not quantify “few” or say how he knew that.

You can also read this article if you want. It is not sourced, so it’s accuracy is unknown. It is written by someone who claims to be a member of Mindfreedom who was recruited into Scientology by a member of Mindfreedom. After joining Mindfreedom, he was approached by a, “Scientologist on the MindFreedom list. He immediately set to work on me suggesting I use Scientology to fix various psychological problems…He tried to recruit me…I was bullied by their Director David Oaks a couple of times over the phone.” “I think it is highly likely that MindFreedom is a Scientology front, which is of course something that they deny. If not then they are closely related to them or at least they are funding MindFreedom in some way.” Again: We do not know who this person is or even if it is legit. Judge for yourself: http://portal.djbarney.org/node/68

Reporter finds Mindfreedom predecessor organization connected to Scientology.

Mindfreedom’s previous name was “Support Coalition International” If you google Support Coalition International, you get the Mindfreedom Website. Also see http://www.power2u.org/articles/empower/support_coal.html )

Margaret Deirdre O’ Hartigan a reporter for the (now folded) independent and respected PDXS Newspaper in Oregon where Mindfreedom is headquartered did the most extensive investigation of connections between David Oaks, Support Coalition International, and Scientology, in the August 28 and September 11, 1998 issues. According to that article the connection of Scientology to Support Coalition International, which later became Mindfreedom goes like this:

Scientology > RC Counseling > Support Coalition International (a/k/a Mindfreedom)

According to that article Harvey Jackson and Janet Foner were Scientologists. They and other scientologists formed Re-evaluation Counseling. (RC). Ms. Foner and others associated with RC Counseling later co-founded Support Coalition International (SCI) with David Oaks. Later, Support Coalition International changed name to Mindfreedom Janet Foner is still on the board and David Oaks is still Executive Director.

In the same series, Ms. O’Hartigan also reported that  Scientologists founded an organization called the McKenzie River Project and it was the McKenzie River Project that funded Support Coalition International, which later became Mindfreedom.

Individiuals interested in the connection are urged to read that article and not rely on this brief synopsis.

Concordant activism by CCHR and Mindfreedom

Mindfreedom and CCHR frequently take on the same causes
Preventing people from receiving ECT

Confronting psychiatrists who treat people for mental illness

Defining medications that treat mental illness as causing mental illness

CCHR, Scientology, and Mindfreedom protested at the May 2009 meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.CCHR/Scientology led the protest on Saturday and Mindfreedom on Sunday. Mindfreedom reached out to extend an invitation to those who were attending the Scientology demonstration to attend their own “Those protesting on Saturday, 5 May 2012 in Philadelphia, will want to stay the next day to attend this “Imagining a Different Future” free gathering (organized independently) on Sunday, 6 May 2012″

(See http://naturalgal.wordpress.com/2009/05/19/mindfreedom-sponsors-peaceful-protest-of-the-american-psychiatric-association-annual-meeting-in-san-francisco/ )

There are numerous similiarites in how Mindfreedom and Scientology treat those who disagree with their positions. Those are not discussed here.

Mindfreedom “Scientific Counsel” and Scientology

Mindfreedom claims mental illness does not exist. As “proof” they cite the fact there is not a biological test. Others point out that a) this is like saying colon cancer did not exist before the invention of the colonoscopy and b) also point out that there is no biological test for Parkinson’s either (We do not know if Mindfreedom or Scientology believe Parkinson’s exists). Mindfreedom claims to rely on their “scientific” counsel, which is mainly comprised of people without medical degrees. It includes Dr. Peter Breggin.. According to Wikiepedia, Breggin acknowledges that he did work with Scientology starting in 1972, but states that by 1974 he “found [himself] opposed to Scientology’s values, agenda, and tactics”, and in consequence “stopped all cooperative efforts in 1974 and publicly declared [his] criticism of the group in a letter published in Reason.”…Breggin’s wife, Ginger, is reported to have been a Scientologist, and when they first met she was urged by other Scientologists to have no association with him because he was not also.” Several judges have questioned Breggin’s credibility as an expert witness. We do not know if the other members of this “scientific” counsel also have current or past or no links to Scientology.

Summary on Mindfreedom and Scientology

Mindfreedom claims there is no association with Scientology or CCHR. We do not know how Mindfreedom, Scientology, and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) are related, or if they are related. We do not know the source of Mindfreedom’s funding. But we hope the preceeding facts and the links we gave to Scientology, CCHR, and Mindfreedom enable readers to independently investigate and draw their own conclusion.

However, the answer to the question, may not be that important. To the best we can determine, they have identical views when it comes to mental illness (both believe it doesn’t exist), medications (they harm people), psychiatry (it is an instrument of torture). We fully understand that Scientology is a religion and that religions are entitled to their beliefs. We also understand that Mr. Oaks and members of Mindfreedom are entitled to theirs. Our aim in this article is to help find the truth, not to judge these organizations for their beliefs.

DJ Jaffe is Executive Director of the non-partisan Mental Illness Policy Org., and author of Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill. He is a critic of the mental health industry for ignoring the seriously ill, and has been advocating for better treatment for individuals with serious mental illness for over 30 years. He has written op-eds on the intersection of mental health and criminal justice policy for the New York Times, Wall St. Journal and the Washington Post. New York Magazine has credited him with being the driving force behind the passage of New York’s Kendra’s Law and Congress incorporated ideas proposed by DJ in the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.