The National Association for Mental Health – now known as Mind – is a charity based in the UK. Among other things, it gives advice to people with mental health difficulties and their loved ones, and lobbies for better provision of services.
The 1960s saw Scientology expand in the UK, with Lafayette Ron Hubbard stationed at Saint Hill Manor in rural Sussex and students moving to study under the master. Inevitably, Scientology’s arrival in the UK was to bring with it Hubbard’s personal vendetta against psychiatry. And before too long, the NAMH was in its sights.
On 11 December 1968, a party of young people who told wondering press men that they were the Executive Committee of the Church of Scientology had gone uninvited to the offices of the NAMH at 39 Queen Anne Street. Their spokesman said they wanted a meeting with the NAMH ‘Board of Directors’. They were told that there was a Council of Management but that none of its members was in the building. So they departed quietly, much photographed by pressmen as they went, and left behind a list of questions to be answered by the NAMH at an interview ‘to be arranged’. Here they are, and it will be observed that none of them deals with mental health or its treatment:
1. Why do your directors want to ban an American writer from England?
2. What other writers do you intend to have banned from entry into England?
3. Why do they want to abolish the rights of English scientologists, and are you aware that scientology was mostly developed in England by L. Ron Hubbard with the assistance of English researchers, and therefore scientology is not a foreign ‘ology’ but an English religious philosophy?
4. Why were you instrumental in the removal of Robinson as Minister of Health? Is it because he didn’t pass legislation banning the rights of scientologists totally and completely?
5. Besides the human rights of English scientologists, who else’s human rights were you attempting to restrict or abolish?
6. Why would you, as a reportedly charitable group, be interested in restricting or abolishing the human rights of any individual or group of people?
7. When can we meet with your Directors, as the Church Committee wants to meet them directly?
C. H. Rolph, “Believe What You Like,” http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Library/Shelf/rolph/chr09.htm
L Ron Hubbard was, as well as a charlatan and a fantasist, intensely paranoid. Over the years this would reach conspiracy theorist proportions, with a global array of enemies plotting to destroy both him and his Church. The core of this conspiracy was the psychiatric establishment, determined to destroy Scientology as it was the only means of freeing people from their slavery.
As such, Scientology has for decades worked to harm – and ultimately destroy – psychiatry. Its front group, the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights, lobbies against psychiatry to governments, organises protests, and maintains the “Psychiatry: an Industry of Death” museum (which, among other things, accuses psychiatrists of masterminding the holocaust.)
In the National Association for Mental Health, Scientology saw a front group for psychiatry. This could not stand.
In 1969, Scientologists began to picket the NAMH, accusing them of supporting barbarous practices in psychiatry. As the year went on, applications to the NAMH inexplicably increased – the monthly average of 10 or 15 rising to an astounding over 200 in October. Some new members, such as David Gaiman – father of author Neil Gaiman – applied to stand for election at the Annual General Meeting the following month. Gaiman was with the Guardian’s Office, precursor to today’s Office of Special Affairs, Scientology’s propaganda and intelligence department.
The NAMH responded with a mass expulsion, 302 in total, of those members believed to be organising an infiltration of the organisation. The Scientologists then took the charity to court claiming discrimination, resulting in the AGM being suspended until the situation could be resolved.
In the meantime, Scientologists proposed several resolutions for the AGM, condemning “the conditions of brutality and squalor in mental institutions” and calling for the NAMH to work with other organisations to expose psychiatric mistreatment.
In 1970, the case came before the court. Evidence was submitted against and in favour of psychiatry, and detailing the Scientologists’ case for the cancellation of their expulsion. The Judge rejected the suit, ruling that they had no intrinsic right of membership and that the NAMH was free to expel them if desired.
The same tactics would be re-used years later when targetting the Cult Awareness Network, a group which provided information and advice on a variety of controversial groups, including the Church of Scientology. As with the NAMH, CAN was targetted for mass membership applications; and, as with the NAMH, CAN rejected them and was taken to court. However, CAN was unable to stand the cost of the innumerable lawsuits filed by individual Scientologists against the network; as a consequence, it was pushed into bankruptcy and later bought out by the CoS itself.
The events surrounding the Church of Scientology and the National Association for Mental Health were compiled by C. H. Rolph in the book “Believe What You Like,” the full text of which is available online.