On being recognised for her courageous work, the Australian president of CCHR, Ms Jan Eastgate, herself a
Scientologist, said: "It's a fantastic group to receive an award from and I know that ridding this planet of psychiatry helps Scientology expand and therefore helps all of you.
"We have been fighting a war and we have won."
WHEN a royal commission last year exposed atrocities at Chelmsford Private Hospital in New South Wales, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights scored dual victories: one public, one private.
The first came with the release of Mr Justice Slattery's 12-volume report into the nightmarish "cuckoo's nest" of Chelmsford — a private hospital where the commission found that at least 24 people died as a result of deep-sleep therapy. Another 24 patients survived the treatment but later took their own lives, 19 of them within a year of leaving Chelmsford, it found.
CCHR had lobbied for an inquiry into Chelmsford for more than a decade, and the royal commissioner and the media were critical of authorities for being so slow to take CCHR's claims seriously.
The second, private victory for CCHR and its parent organisation, the Church of Scientology, which established CCHR in Australia in 1972, was heralded in the pages of the Scientology magazine 'Impact'.
On being recognised for her courageous work, the Australian president of CCHR, Ms Jan Eastgate, herself a Scientologist, said: "It's a fantastic group to receive an award from and I know that ridding this planet of psychiatry helps Scientology expand and therefore helps all of you.
"We have been fighting a war and we have won."
The battle analogy was an ironic echo of the words penned by the enigmatic "Jekyll and Hyde" psychiatrist at the centre of the Chelmsford tragedy, Dr Harry Bailey, before he swallowed a lethal combination of barbiturates and alcohol on 8 September 1985. "Let it be known that the Scientologists and the forces of madness have won," he wrote in a suicide note given the commission.
The conflict that so obsessed Ms Eastgate and Dr Bailey was one parochial campaign in an international war that has raged for 40 years between Scientologists and some they regard as their sworn enemies, psychiatrists.
Now the battlefield is Victoria, which CCHR claimed this month was "the deep-sleep capital of Australia". As the Victorian health commission winds up a long inquiry into deep-sleep therapy use in this state — largely at the instigation of CCHR — Scientology documents raise questions about the motives behind the church's push for the probe.
A key issue is the disturbing indication in the documents that apart from CCHR's altruistic interest in the Victorian inquiry, the Church of Scientology had a hidden agenda — and what could be seen by some as a witch-hunt aimed at discrediting the doctors and organisations helpful in outlawing the church in Victoria more than 25 years ago.
Those documents target the late Melbourne psychiatrist and deep-sleep advocate Dr Alex Sinclair as a key person behind the suppression of Scientology and a "big fish as regards enemy action against (the church)", and outline plans to have him made the subject of official investigations.
Scientology was, for a period, banned in Victoria after a Board of Inquiry into Scientology, conducted by Kevin Anderson, QC, which found in 1965 that while some aspects of Scientology seemed so ludicrous that its practitioners could be dismissed as "harmless cranks", to do so would be a grave mistake.
Mr Anderson reported to Parliament that the church was evil, and a serious threat to the community. Dr Sinclair participated in this inquiry.
A former Scientologist active in the church at the time says that the church continued under the guise of the Church of New Faith, until amendments under federal legislation in 1973 recognised Scientology as a religious denomination. That status, which remains in place today, effectively neutered the bans of Victoria and other states.
Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the reports is that more than 20 years after the Anderson inquiry, Melbourne Scientologists were — at least in 1987 — still trying to root out the individuals behind the 1965 probe that so damaged the young church internationally.
The preoccupation of a church organisation with investigations, debriefing and sweeping information gathering — particularly in regard to the medical world — may seem baffling without an understanding of the roots of Scientology, and the fixation of the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard on espionage as a means of defending his empire against attack. Hubbard died, or in Scientology jargon "dropped his body", in 1986 after several years in hiding.
In the 1960s, Scientology developed an intelligence bureau known as the Guardian's Office, which was run by Hubbard's then wife, Mary Sue Hubbard. In an unofficial biography of Mr Hubbard, investigative journalist Russell Miller wrote that one of the "operating targets" was to assemble data by investigation for use "in case of attack", while another operation involved the theft, destruction or laundering of government records that held unflattering information about Mr Hubbard or the church.
In 1977, FBI raids on Scientology offices in Washington and Los Angeles uncovered evidence of a spy system that resulted in nine Scientologists, including Mary Sue Hubbard, being indicted for crimes including theft of government documents, burglarising government offices, intercepting government communications and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
The sentencing memorandum of Mary Sue and her colleagues in 1978 — after they pleaded guilty to one count each — stated: "The crime committed by these defendants is of a breadth and scope previously unheard of. No building, office, desk or file was safe from their snooping and prying. No individual or organisation was free from their despicable conspiratorial minds."
Mr Hubbard was convinced that behind all the attacks on him and his church were a small group of communists who had infiltrated most of society, as a 1968 executive directive to his followers — obtained from the United States — illustrates.
"PSYCHIATRY and mental health were chosen as a vehicle to undermine and destroy the West. And we stood in their way," he wrote. He declared that Scientology had to stop this subversive destruction of the West.
The skirmish between the medical world and Hubbard began in 1950 with an article he wrote for a pulp science [part missing] — An Introduction to a New Science", and which subsequently developed into a best-selling book. His theory promised a technique that would cure any non-organic insanity, as well a providing a cure for numerous physcal ailments, from arthritis to the common cold.
Central to his theory is a process known as auditing. A California court described this as a one-on-one dialogue between a Scientology "auditor" and a Scientology "student".
"The student ordinarily is connected to a crude lie detector, a so-called E-meter." The auditor asks probing questions and notes the student's reactions as registered on the E-Meter," the court said.
"Through the questions, answers and E-meter readings, the auditor seeks to identify the student's . . . engrams." These engrams are negative feelings, attitudes or incidents that act as blockages preventing people from realising their full potential and living life to the fullest.
The court said that since Scientology held the view people had lived many past lives, they carried engrams accumulated during those past lives a well as some from the present.
The auditor and student then worked to identify and eliminate all the student's engrams so he could achieve the state of "clear", the court said.
The medical profession was outraged, accusing Hubbard of "sweeping generalisations", of devising "a clever scheme to dip into the pockets of the gullible" and encouraging dangerous amateur psychological meddling.
Over the years Hubbard's theories acquired overtones of science fiction inspired spiritualism and evolved into the Church of Scientology. A letter from Hubbard to a senior aid provide an interesting perspective on just why Hubbard founded the religion.
The letter describes how Hubbard believed the development of his theories — then occurring within Hubbard "clinics" — should occur within some sort of independent structure. "I didn't go to all the work I went to on the HAS (Hubbard Association of Scientologists) and other things to forget that my own revenue has to be a lot better than it has been in the past," he wrote.
"Perhaps we could call it a Spiritual Guidance Centre. Think up its name will you. And we could put in nice desks and our boys in neat blue with diplomas on the walls and one, knock psychotherapy into history; and two, take enough money to shine up my operating scope; and three, keep the HAS solvent.
"I await your reaction on the religion angle . . . A religious charter would be necessary . . . to make it stick. But I sure could make it stick. We're treating the present time beingness; psychotherapy treats the past and the brain. And brother, that's religion, not mental science," he wrote.
Scientology developed a highly organised structure within which adherents "bought" their way up a "bridge" to enlightenment and mental and physical health by paying for literature and specialist classes. A 1987 British investigation of the cult by 'Panorama' featured a Hubbard policy document on which the directive "make money" featured four times.
The same program listed 27 known sub-groups and companies of the church — including CCHR — many of which ex-Scientologists have repeatedly asserted were formed as part of long-term exercise to create social reform bodies that would improve Scientology's battered image.
A 1970 French Government police agency investigation into Scientology found: "This sect, under the pretext of freeing humans is nothing in reality but a vast enterprise to extract the maximum amount of money from its adepts by (use of) pseudo-scientific theories" and that Scientology used "a kind of blackmail against persons who do not wish to continue with this sect".
A Californian Superior Court memorandum of intended decision found that from evidence given to that court in 1984, similar conclusions to the French statement could be drawn in US.
Ms Toby Plevin, a Los Angeles attorney involved in numerous actions against Scientology, argues that the bedrock of Scientology practice is to create in all believers a massive unity of mind when they have come to it on the expectation that their individual lives will improve.
Psychiatrists, too, have exercised extreme defensiveness against Scientology.
In 1988, an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald showed just how acute tensions remained between Scientology and Psychiatry. It reported that when a Sydney psychiatrist disturbed at the treatment of patients in Chelmsford wrote to one of the world's most eminent psychiatrists expressing concerns in 1981, he was urged to expose deep-sleep therapy at Chelmsford.
Sir Martin Roth, at that time the Professor of Psychiatry at Cambridge University, replied: "The inhumanity and cruelty to which patients (at Chelmsford) appear to have been subjected is quite unique in my experience and the Scientologists and other will have obtained ammunition for years or decades to come." He went on to urge that the issue be kept, for the moment, confidential.
Scientologists around the world have accused psychiatry of gross butchery, the church was itself accused of brainwashing.
MRS Hana Whitfield, an American ex-Scientologist who worked in the church's higher echelons was a personal aid to Hubbard, and argues that Scientology is Hubbard's own brand of psychotherapy continues to be practised in the hands of unlicensed people.
"They don't know they are using trance induction techniques. They don't know they are using de-sensitisation techniques (and they are) ignorant of what can go wrong," she said.
In 1989, the California Court of Appeal upheld the finding that a former Scientologist, Larry Wollersheim, had suffered psychological damage as a result of Scientology practices. A manic depressive, Mr Wollersheim had been physically restrained from leaving the church and threatened with attack if he did leave; forced to continue auditing when he wanted to stop; ordered to leave his family; financially ruined by the church and ordered not to seek professional help as his emotional state crumbled.
The court also found that auditing was conducted in a "coercive atmosphere (the church) created through threats of retribution against those who would leave the organisation".
In a 1984 case in the Superior Court of California, a court memorandum of intended decision said that the record was replete with evidence of Scientology "enemies" being subjected to threats and abuse.
The judge wrote: "In addition to violating and abusing its own members' civil rights, the organisation over the years with its "Fair Game" doctrine has harassed and abused those persons not in the church whom it perceives as enemies. The organisation clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder."
Of Hubbard, the court report said: "The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements. The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power, and vindictiveness and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile."
• Additional research, David Wilson.
Jo Chandler and Jacqui MacDonald
The Melbourne Age
22 April 1991