Intended for healthcare professionals

Ward Round

The psychiatric protection order for the “battered mental patient”

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 18 December 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1449

Dr Thomas Szasz is a Member of the Church of Scientology

Dr Szasz has completed his article with "Competing Interests: None
Declared". Well now, Dr Szasz and the Church of Scientology founded the
Citizens Commission on Human Rights in 1969.

Dr Szasz is famous for being the Grand Old Man of Anti-Psychiatry,
and he is writing true to form in this BMJ article, which he has called
"The Psychiatric Protection Order for the battered mental patient". He
proposes a new legal safeguard against psychiatry, which would make it a
criminal offence to impose involuntary psychiatric interventions on people
protected by the order.

On the website of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights
( "What is CCHR?" is a photograph of none other than Dr
Szasz himself. And looking dapper and far from emeritus in age.

The answer to "What is CCHR?" is: "CCHR was formed to combat
psychiatry's oppression".

It continues: "CCHR members see it as their duty to expose and help
abolish any and all physically damaging practices in the field of mental

CCHR claims on its website: "CCHR has documented many thousands of
individual cases that demonstrate that psychiatric drugs and other brutal
psychiatric practices actually create insanity and cause violence".

And then, consistent with Szasz's 'psychiatric protection order'
proposed on the pages of the BMJ, is the following on the CCHR's website:
"In fact, a major cause of the drug problem worldwide is the psychiatrist
who, for decades, has used his influence as a medical doctor to push
extremely dangerous and addictive mind-altering drugs on persons of all

What Szasz would not have dared to mention in his BMJ article,
especially since he has declared no competing interests, is that the
Church of Scientology is on trial in Florida for the manslaughter of a 36
year old woman, who died of dehydration whilst acutely psychotic over a
seventeen day period. They are also charged with unlawfully practising

In an article in the New York Times, Douglas Frantz reported that
this woman, Lisa McPherson, a member of the Church of Scientology, had had
a minor traffic accident in the autumn of 1995. She, then, stripped off
her clothes and began to mumble.

She was taken to a local hospital where a doctor wanted to provide
psychiatric treatment for her. However, several members of the Church of
Scientology went to the hospital and removed her, and took her to a
Scientology owned hotel. The article in the New York Times (14 November
1998) stated that "The Church of Scientology prohibits psychiatric
treatment for its members".

According to the affidavit of the state's medical examiner, Lisa
McPherson had been hyperactive, delusional and hallucinating over the 17
days following the accident. During this time, she had tried to harm
herself and others.

She was restrained repeatedly and prevented from leaving the room.
Perhaps, Dr Szasz, we need a Scientologist Protection Order as well!

She urinated and defaecated on herself repeatedly; she rarely slept;
she had conversations with people who were not there; she claimed to be
people she was not; she sang and she danced around the room as if giving a
performance; she crawled around the floor; she stood on the toilet; she
got into the shower fully clothed; she drank her own urine on more than
one occasion.

The Scientologists gave her magnesium chloride injections to get her
to sleep; they gave her numerous doses of vitamins, herbal sleep remedies
and, also, believe it or not, prescription drugs.

On the evening of her death, a Scientologist, working as an Accident
& Emergency doctor at a hospital forty-five minutes away, was phoned
by the Scientologists. They were advised to take her to the NEAREST
hospital but, instead, they took her to this particular Scientologist
doctor, who was three-quarters of an hour distant from them.

She was dead on arrival.

The pathologist stated that she had been deprived of water for 5-10
days, and that she had died from a blood clot brought on by dehydration.

All these allegations contained in this newspaper article are being
tested in a Florida court at the moment, and a verdict is expected in
January 2004.

How, then, did this anti-psychiatry article by Dr Szasz get into the
BMJ, when psychiatry is a bone fide part of the medical profession?

How did this virulently anti-psychiatry article get past the Editors'
desk, when many psychiatrists are members of the BMA?

The explanation I favour is that there are Scientologists employed in
the production of the BMJ.

Sir John Foster QC, MP was commissioned in 1969 by Richard Crossman,
Secretary of State for Social Services, to produce a report for the UK
Parliament. The Enquiry into the Practice and Effects of Scientology was
published in 1971.

Foster says that he was told by Scientologists that there were
Scientologists actively involved in the BMA (Section 67). Since that was
more than thirty years ago now, I would expect there are more members of
this cult employed at the BMA and undertaking work at the BMJ.

There is now evidence indicating and suggesting that there are
Scientologists working in the Fitness to Practise Directorate of the
General Medical Council of the UK. So be careful all you British
psychiatrists especially if Szasz's proposed 'Psychiatric Protection
Order' comes into being.

Foster reported to the UK Parliament in December 1971 that, at that
time, Scientology organisations had $75 million worth of law suits so far
filed against psychiatric organisations and others over the world in the
international conspiracy against Scientology. They had been filed for
psychiatric efforts to destroy the Church of Scientology, and also for
libel, slander and conspiracy (Section 184).

Competing interests:
Specialist in clinical psychopharmacology of children, adolescents and adults

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 December 2003
Dr P V F Cosgrove
Consultant All-Age Psychiatrist
The Bristol Priority Clinic. Bath BA2 5JJ