Why is Scientology Against the Use of Anti-depressants?

Depression is an all too common problem in our modern, pressure-driven society. And although depression is now openly discussed with sufferers being treated with understanding and no longer told to “get on with it” or “stop complaining, buck up, you\’re fine,” there is still no agreement as to the best treatment for the various forms of depression. Modern treatments for depression can include psychological analysis, group therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, psychiatric counseling, and the use of anti-depressants. This is where scientology clashes with the medical establishment, claiming that psychiatry is not a science, anti-depressants are poison and that they cannot be proved to improve the condition of those suffering from depression.

The Scientology Belief System
The scientology belief system was created by science fiction writer, Ron Hubbard in 1952. Hubbard characterized Scientology, as a religion and in 1953 incorporated the Church of Scientology. Scientology teaches that people are immortal spiritual beings who have forgotten their true nature. Its method of spiritual rehabilitation, known as auditing, is a type of counseling in which practitioners aim to consciously re-experience painful and/or traumatic events in their past in order to free themselves of their limiting effects.

Opposition to Psychiatry
Hubbard regarded psychiatrists as denying human spirituality and peddling fake cures. He was also convinced that psychiatrists were themselves deeply unethical individuals, committing “extortion, mayhem and murder.” He was even more convinced of this after a number of psychiatrists spoke out strongly against the techniques he suggests in his book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (Dianetics was the basis of Scientology). After the reaction to his book, Hubbard came to believe that psychiatrists were behind a worldwide conspiracy to attack Scientology and create a “world government” run by psychiatrists.

So strong is the anti-psychiatry feeling among Scientology followers it has become standard for new Scientology members to be required to sign lengthy legal contracts which call for followers to deny any and all psychiatric care (and the accompanying drugs) their doctors may prescribe to them. In fact, scientologists believe that drugs and poisons stored in the body impede spiritual growth and have devised a drug education and rehabilitation program called “Narconon” to counteract this effect.

Celebrity Scientology Supporters Oppose Use of Anti-depressants
Scientology has many glamorous followers (the most famous, of course, being Tom Cruise and John Travolta), many of whom have spoken out openly against the use of anti-depressants. Kirstie Alley was quoted in 2005 saying, “Parents in particular have been misled about the effects of these [antidepressant] drugs. They are highly addictive; kids are using them more than street drugs to get high.” And Tom Cruise has mentioned in many interviews his opposition to anti-depressants, claiming that Scientology is the only hope for depression sufferers using anti-depressants, and stating “We are the authorities on getting people off drugs. We are the authorities on the mind?”

Does Scientology Have a Case to Make? Are Anti-depressants Dangerous?
A University of New Hampshire professor of psychology, Peter Yarensky, has said that although he has great skepticism about Scientology, he does believe that there is also reason to be skeptical about the widespread prescribing of psychiatric drugs. He thinks they tend to be overused and overprescribed for some who would be better served by other means such as cognitive behavior therapy or counseling.

It is true that the FDA has been taking a closer interest in the prescription of anti-depressant drugs to children and teenagers in recent times; specifically, they are exploring the claimed link between these drugs and the spate of shootings by teenagers in schools. Investigations showed that the majority of the teenage shooters were taking anti-depressants. However, were these drugs the cause of the teenagers losing control? Or could it be argued that the depression and/or mental illness were the cause, not the medication?

Scientologists, of course, would claim it was the anti-depressants. But to argue that ALL drugs are poison and to deny psychiatric drug treatment to depressive patients is dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Anti-depressants obviously do help many people to improve their way of life and support them in their desire to overcome depression. Combined with counseling, they can work wonders. However, as with all prescription drugs, anti-depressants should be treated with caution by the patient and prescribed with care by doctors.

We still have a long way to go to finding a miracle cure for depression, but in the meantime there are many patients who benefit from the efforts of the psychiatric medical community who do their best to improve the lives of depressives and their families.

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