An MD speaks about how Scientology impeded his ability to provide healthcare

In Just another cult, PalMD of The Denialism Blog on ScienceBlogs writes about a case in which a young lady who had fallen deep into the depths of acute schizophrenic psychosis because her parents were Scientologists who had fallen hook line and sinker for the cult’s anti-Psychiatry rhetoric. Having been denied access to medical treatment for so long, the 18-year-old had become “completely disconnected from reality” and “was hearing voices, screaming, picking at her clothes and skin, unwashed, and unable to have any coherent interaction with others”. It was this desperate state of affairs that finally led the parents to bring her to a hospital.

Prior to bringing her to the hospital, the parents turned to their Cult of Scientology, who informed them that their daughter could be returned to normalcy using the “church’s” (un-scientific) applied philosophies. They were also told that medical psychiatry would destroy any chance of recovery.

“Psychiatrists had told the parents that they could expect a lifetime of illness, hospitalizations, maybe a job, maybe a life in a group home, and, if there was some luck, a somewhat normal life. Maybe. The church assured them that, through their healing programs, their child would return to normalcy. The demons haunting her would be purged, and she could have the life of a normal, young woman. For a price…

So, as we medicated the patient, in an attempt to reduce her fear and hallucinations, the parents came to the hospital enraged, sure that psychiatry was designed to destroy their child. Also, as parents, they felt it was within their rights to take their child, fly her to California, and enroll her in a Scientology treatment program. But the patient was 18. Without her explicit consent, they had no right to take her out of the hospital until she was stabilized. As any parent would, they had trouble understanding this. I spent hours on the phone and at the bedside with them. Since the parents could not serve as legitimate surrogates for the patient, it was necessary to file papers for involuntary psychiatric commitment. And from there arose the next problem.

My residents contacted the staff psychiatrist. He refused to certify the patient. They paged me. I called the chair of the department. He was at first quite vague, then he explained that Scientologists sue psychiatrists…a lot. But what of your duty, I asked him. He was clearly nervous about the entire case, and told me the rest was up to me.”

For more posts on Scientology, click here.

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