Anti-Psychiatry Exhibit Causes Stir

From “Free Tibet” to “Stop the Iraq War,” hordes of protesters milling around Out of Town News is no longer a strange sight for students. But the recent exhibition “Psychiatry: Industry of Death” stopped students in their tracks and drew protests of its own to its 30 Brattle Street location.

The much-discussed exhibition, which closed last week, was organized by the Citizens Commission for Human Rights, a group that counts the Church of Scientology as one of its sponsors. According to the group’s Web site, the “non-profit public benefit organization” hopes to “clean up the field of mental health.”

To do so, the exhibition used its own form of shock therapy. Video screens looped graphic footage of lobotomies and electroshock treatment. A nearby board displayed photos of celebrities, such as Kurt Cobain and Elliot Smith, who, the exhibit claimed, had allegedly been killed by psychiatry. Outside on Brattle Street, the group’s organizers handed out DVDs featuring the exhibition’s footage to passers-by.

If CCHR doesn’t sound familiar, “Anonymous” might. Anonymous, which has previously protested against the Church of Scientology, brought swarms of its members to Brattle Plaza several times during the exhibition’s run, donning matching costumes each time to register their disapproval.


CCHR’s exhibition ran for several weeks longer than had been originally planned. But the tactics they employed to draw more visitors to the site were not always met with approval.

“They were persistent to the point of harassment,” Kelly, the shop clerk, said. “Some were reasonable; others would follow you. Sometimes, they pulled aside women with children.”

Zhen Gong ’10 said he was accosted by one of the exhibition’s representatives as he was about to eat at a local restaurant.

“I was waiting to meet a friend and his mom in b.good when someone came up to me,” Gong said.

“He told me about the exhibition, gave me a flyer, then said “Don’t believe psychiatry! It’s an industry of death! ADHD doesn’t exist!”