To appreciate the threat that Dianetics posed to that psychiatric establishment, both in terms of its inherent message and its unprecedented popularity with the American public, it is necessary to examine something of psychiatry’s plans.
Psychiatry dates back to shortly before the turn of the twentieth century. That it promotes itself as a healing profession is a misrepresentation. Its mission is and always has been control. This purpose is exemplified in an address given to the National Council for Mental Hygiene on June 18, 1940 by then Colonel John R. Rees, who would later become the first president of the World Federation of Mental Health. In his speech, entitled, "Strategic Planning for Mental Health (Reese 1940)," Rees stated:
“We must aim to make it [psychiatry] permeate every educational activity on our national life: primary, secondary, university and technical education are all concerned with varying stages in the development of the child and adolescent. Those who provide the education…must all be objects of our interest…. Public life, politics and industry should all of them be within our sphere of influence.
"... [S]ince the last world war we have done much to infiltrate the various social organizations throughout the country, and in their work one can see clearly how the principles for which this society and others stood in the past have become accepted as part of the ordinary working plan of these various bodies ...
“Similarly, we have made a useful attack on a number professions. The two easiest of them, naturally, are the teaching profession and the Church: the two most difficult are law and medicine…
“If we are to infiltrate the professional and social activities of other people, I think we must imitate the Totalitarians and organize some kind of fifth column activity! If better ideas on mental health are to progress and spread we as the salesmen must lose our identity…
“Let us all, therefore, very secretly be “fifth columnists.”
Following this direction, psychiatrists used the exigencies of World War II to entrench themselves into the government via the armed forces. In England, John Rees was the prime mover at the Tavistock Clinic, where all branches of psychiatry were being developed, including family and child psychiatry as well as electro convulsive therapy (shock treatment) and lobotomy experiments. Rees was then appointed to the War Office and by the end of the war had more than 300 psychiatrists in the British armed forces. Rees then arranged to train officers of the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner of the American Central Intelligence Agency) in psychological warfare. (*The key vehicle for recruiting US psychiatrists into the armed forces was the National Research Council, Committee on Neuropsychiatry. Dr. Winfred Overholzer, superintendent of the federally-controlled St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C., chaired this committee. Those who worked on the Overholzer committee included Dr. Frank Freemont-Smith (who later became a co-founder of the World Federation of Mental health), Dr. Daniel Blain (Medical Director of the American Medical Association), Dr. Brock Chisholm of Canada and Dr. William Menninger. Psychiatry: The Ultimate Betrayal (Wiseman, 1995))
Prime targets for these wartime psychiatrists were the military’s desires to control large populations, and to extract information from prisoners. In a November 20, 1942 meeting, key representatives of the Office of Strategic Services, the federal Commissioner of Narcotics, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Laboratory and several prominent psychiatrists established a project to perform drug experiments on prisoners of war to locate substances that would make them more malleable. The psychiatrist who headed this project was Dr. Winfred Overholzer of St. Elizabeth’s hospital. (*Dr. Overholzer continued his mind control experiments for the government at St. Elizabeth’s hospital, seeking to develop methods to overlay a false personality on a victim that would render the subject controllable. Mr. Hubbard stumbled across victims of these experiments while researching Dianetics. Through Dianetics techniques, he was able to undo the damage. Viewing Dianetics as a threat to his efforts, Dr. Overholzer became a vociferous early attacker of Dianetics.) (FOIA document of November 20, 1942) In a top secret meeting held on December 14, 1942, this same group of government officials and psychiatrists expanded their experiments to college students in Philadelphia. (FOIA document, 1942)
After the war, these experiments in mind control continued unbeknownst to an unsuspecting American public. As later Congressional investigations revealed, they were widespread. In fact, according to a secret document released many years later under the Freedom of Information Act, in November of 1950, the CIA sought to recruit a Dianeticist as a “candidate for indoctrination” in its mind control programs. What made this candidate attractive in addition to his language skills and his status as a reserve officer was his training in Dianetics. (FOIA Document, 1950)
Government mind control projects, such as the CIA’s Project Bluebird, Project Artichoke and the notorious MK ULTRA have been exposed in Congressional hearings and in popular literature (Scheflin and Opton, 1978). That the scientific validity of the “brainwashing” theories developed from these experiments has come to be criticized by respected scientists (Anthony, 1990, 1999, Richardson and Kilbourne, 1983, James, 1986) does not negate the fact that psychiatrists were utilizing their skills toward developing the means of implanting false personalities in people to turn them into deployable intelligence agents or even assassins. This placed these psychiatrists squarely at odds with the goals of Dianetics (and later, Scientology).
Further post-war events helped to establish psychiatry’s position of influence. In October of 1945, Brock Chisholmco-founder of the World Health Organizationrefined the objective of psychiatry in his address: “The Re-Establishment of Peacetime Society: The Responsibility of Psychiatry” (Chisholm, 1945) in which he stated:
“The re-interpretation and eventual eradication of the concept of right and wrong…these are the belated objectives of practically all of effective psychotherapy…. If the race is to be freed from its crippling burden of good and evil, it must be psychiatrists who take the original responsibility.”
Moreover, in 1945 John Rees visited New York and proposed to the International Committee of Mental Hygiene that a world conference be held in London to unite the activities of psychiatrists. This conference began the planning of the establishment of the World Federation of Mental Health, the first meeting of which was in 1948. (*Attending this conference from the United States were Dr. Winfred Overholzer, Dr. Robert Felix, Dr. Frank Freemont-Smith, Dr. Daniel Blain and others.)
Finally, in 1946, the US Congress passed the National Mental Health Act, (*The House of Representatives passed the Act (HR 4512) on March 15, 1946. The Senate passed its version of the Act (SR 4512) on June 15. After negotiations on a combined bill, the final Act was signed into law on July 3, 1946 (PL 79-487).) establishing the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Robert Felix, who was instrumental in getting the Act passed, became the NIMH’s first director. Since then, the NIMH has doled out billions of dollars to psychiatrists. (*The April 1949 edition of the newsletter of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP) provides further evidence of the implementation of Rees’ 1940 strategy. It discusses such things as increasing psychiatry’s influence in schools, courts, lawyers and among the clergy--the very key points of attack that Rees outlined in his 1940 strategy for psychiatry. Two excellent books that chronicle psychiatry’s organized effort to degrade mankind are Psychiatry: The Ultimate Betrayal (Wiseman, 1995) and Psychiatists: the Men Behind Hitler (Röder, et al, 1995), both of which are available.)
And this is the world Dianetics entered: a world where psychiatry was entrenched among the US intelligence services, living off hefty government grants, and experimenting on an oblivious public. A world where their critics were simply labeled insane and “in need of psychiatric help.”
Thus, the battle lines were drawn. Dianetics offered a means to the man in the street to achieve happiness, stability and success for himself. It gave him a method that, for the first time, he could utilize to improve his own condition. It should also be kept in mind that L. Ron Hubbard achieved something that psychiatrists have long been attempting to achieve: to write a book about the mind that was genuinely popular, that people actually wanted to read and that was both understandable and applicable. But Dianetics did more. It labeled the latest powerful mind-altering psychiatric drugs as dangerous. And it exposed the inhuman brutalities of psychiatrists and the harm they caused with electro-convulsive therapy and lobotomies, clearly substantiating the irreparable damages these treatments caused to healthy brain tissue.
The psychiatric industry’s response to Dianetics was immediate and considerable. Less than a month after the publication of Dianetics, psychiatrists on government payrolls were denigrating the book as a “hoax,” while admitting in the same breath that they had never even read it. (*The first to appear was Dr. Austin Smith, the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. On June 1, 1950, Smith wrote a number of letters to prestigious doctors and medical societies urging them to make public statements against Dianetics. That same day, Smith also wrote to Oliver Field, director of the AMA’s Bureau of Investigation, and suggested that the CIA ought to “look into” Dianetics. He also peppered his letter with negative innuendo about Dianetics and Mr. Hubbard, but cautioned that his material was “not for quoting until more facts are obtained.” Field also distributed his virulent material to law enforcement agencies. (FOIA documents, 1950) Dr. Houston Merritt, director of the Neurological Service at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, responded to Smith’s June 1, 1950 letter, conceding that he had had no personal experience with Dianetics, yet calling it “bizarre and unscientific.” (FOIA Document, 1950)
American Psychiatric Association (APA) medical director, Dr. Daniel Blain, coordinated these attacks with a handful of APA psychiatrists. Blain recognized Dianetics’ potential for upsetting the status quo. In a paper delivered on June 21, 1950 at the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, Blain described Dianetics as “a new form of therapy and treatment whereby the most serious of mental diseases can be cured in a few hours merely by getting the patient to substitute direct thinking by logic for confused thinking dominated by feelings.” (Blain, 1950) He warned that Dianetics was becoming popular because psychiatrists “had failed in educating the public” in their theories.
Blain and his colleagues used their government connections to secretly spread lies through media and government files, escalating into an all-out attempt to close down the Dianetics foundations that had sprung up across the country and later, after its formation in 1954, the Church of Scientology. The issue was clearly financial: how long could psychiatrists continue to convince the American taxpayer to pay for multimillion dollar psychiatric appropriations when Dianetics provided a means to greater happiness and ability for only the price of a book and a willingness to apply its principles?
Dianetics also came to the attention of members of the US intelligence community who tried to seize it for their own use. Shortly after the publication of Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental health, the U.S. Navy’s Office of Research tried to get Mr. Hubbard to use his discoveries on a project to make people more suggestible, threatening to re-activate his commission in the naval reserves if he refused. Mr. Hubbard was able to resign his commission before it could be re-activated, thus keeping Dianetics free from government control.
The attacks intensified after January 1951, when Mr. Hubbard published Science of Survival. In that book, Mr. Hubbard publicly exposed, for the first time, government-funded mind-control experiments in which psychiatrists administered drugs and electric shock to unsuspecting human guinea pigs who were then implanted, while unconscious, with hypnotic commands. Decades later, victims would receive government compensation for the injuries they suffered from such experiments. But at the time, these matters were among the best-kept secrets of the U.S. intelligence and psychiatric communities. Mr. Hubbard had unearthed these experiments while he was conducting research at St. Elizabeth’s hospital and discovered that only Dianetics had the power to undo the damage and expose what these government psychiatrists were doing to people. It is not surprising, then, to find that the psychiatrists leading the charge against Dianetics were key architects of these mind control experiments. This is the plan that Dianetics crossed in 1950, and these men formed the core of all attacks against Dianetics and Scientology thereafter. (*Significantly, the most vocal early critics of Dianetics and Scientology among the mental health communityDr. Winfred Overholzer, Dr. Paul Hoch, and Dr. Louis J. West, among otherscame from this group of psychiatrists and psychologists who participated in government mind control experiments. (Wiseman, 1995))