Some of my fellow interns were driving down Sunset Blvd in Hollywood the other week, and they saw something surprising on the side of the road (well, to be fair, it was probably one of many surprising or unique things on the side of the road in that town). It was this museum:
Yes. That does say "Psychiatry, an Industry of Death Museum." Further investigation led us to this video, http://www.cchr.org/museum.html%23/museum/intro#/museum/intro . We also found out the museum was free. We were hooked. (Also, if anyone else in interested, please note you can watch all 14 of the videos shown throughout and see the entire museum virtually in this slide show... so everyone in Minnesota and elsewhere can feel the full effects we did!!) One of the girls who first saw the museum was told yesterday that it was run by the Scientologists, which made us even more interested. I just heard in an interview on NPR that anyone who has ever bought a book or signed up for a class about Scientology is counted among their ranks, so apparently now I may be considered a Scientologist by the church just for signing into the museum.
So there were three women with me who studied psychology, and at least one other woman who takes some kind of anti-anxiety/depressant. We were looking for a good afternoon giggle, more than anything else. The outside of the building has all of these billboards:
We walk in and the museum is connected to a group called the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (which ironically, I remember looking at with interest the last time I was wandering around this area of Hollywood - not much closer than the name, obviously). This commission we later found out is devoted to keeping people aware of the negative effects of psychology across the world. They run campaigns, file lawsuits and create projects like this museum. When we walked into the very clean, white and expensive-looking space, two men behind a desk greeted us. One took our cameras away and warned us of the violent nature of what we were about to see. We entered a padded room and watched the video above.
Now, don't get me wrong: abuses have happened in every realm of the world of medicine. And so little has been understood about mental illnesses over time that a lot of really insane and awful abuse has gone down. A lot of this abuse and the misguided "cures" were documented by this museum, which was actually really interesting. I was surprised to "learn," however, that psychiatry can be blamed for racism, the Holocaust and terrorism, as well as the deaths of millions of people every year. It also specifically kills artists and creativity. Yes, there is a huge gravestone commemorating the death of creativity in the section of the museum that describes how psychiatry has particularly targeted Hollywood.
Yes, I do agree that in a lot of ways the relationship between the pharmaceutical companies and the price of treatments and the amount of diagnosis without true and good mental help is unhealthy and possibly just a way to get lots of money for things that could possibly be treated in other ways. (I think this can be seen in every form of medicine, not just mental health.) Very dear people to me have been very negatively affected by the misuse of treatments like shock therapy. However we all couldn't help but giggle and stand opened-mouthed at most of the claims that were made in this museum. Most of the people being interviewed only spoke a few sentences, and its very hard to know what the full context of what they were saying was. Also, as my roommate and psychology major Hannah pointed out, there are very few psychologists who would argue that the things that have happened in the past are awful and bad. In fact, she found herself agreeing what most of what the people being interviewed were saying, it was just the voice-over and conclusions that were being drawn that were crazy and outrageous.
Finally, we were going through this museum that guides you through with videos along with a middle-aged, quiet man. I was a little nervous as we were clearly disagreeing with everything being said that we were being offensive to him. But finally he spoke up saying "You know, I took Zoloft for a few months a while back. I felt much better and got right off it when the time was right." He then proceeded to tell us that he had a prominent anti-Scientology website, has won Emmys for his journalism and was recently listed as number 7 on the list of The Top 25 Most Crippling People to Scientology by the Village Voice. His name is Mark Bunkers and this is his website: http://www.xenutv.com/blog/ . He pointed out a lot of things to us, like that a prominent Scientologist woman who was being interviewed was just arrested in Australia for covering up a child abuse scandal and that a particular man's daughter had started a recovery group for children of Scientologists.
At the end of the tour, he asked the two men at the front desk several questions. One asked if he had some time, and he said sure. They offered to show him some things in the "back room." We were ushered out of the museum. After finding his website, I sent him an email asking if everything went OK back there, because we were a little concerned, since he had just introduced himself and the guy said "Oooh. Hello," very slowly and carefully. I'll keep you all posted on what/when I hear back.
I really recommend watching at least the intro video on the website I posted, as it gives you a really good idea of what we got to see. It was epic and kind of amazing, in a fear mongering and interesting way.