Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum – Los Angeles, California - Atlas Obscura

Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum

A look into the Church of Scientology's deeply unfavorable view of psychiatry. 


The title of the museum “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death” immediately gives you a hint as to the creators behind the project. While officially run by the “The Citizens Commission on Human Rights” both the CCHR and the museum are fully funded by the Church of Scientology which holds a very low opinion of psychiatry indeed.

Among the fundamental beliefs of the Church of Scientology is the idea that all problems are spiritual in nature, and that humans are “immortal spiritual beings” or “thetans” who have forgotten their true and perfect nature. Within this framework psychiatry is seen as a form of abuse.

L. Ron Hubbard himself had a strong personal dislike and distrust of psychiatry and incorporated it into his written work. He considered psychiatrists to be “antisocial enemies of the people” despite (or perhaps because of) some evidence that Hubbard sought psychiatric care in the 1940s and took prescribed tranquilizers.

Church members often sign lengthy contracts which have a clause stating members deny psychiatric care “regardless of what any psychiatrist, medical person, designated member of the state or family member may assert supposedly on my behalf.”

Of course it is not as if the Scientologists have nothing to work with and the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum shows much of the worst practices in mental health throughout the ages. Electro-shock therapy, lobotomies, straightjackets, insane asylums, the over-use of psychiatric drugs and generally poor treatment of the mentally ill are all on prominent display throughout the museum, and are on occasion fair critiques of now-frowned-upon practices.

However, the museum takes a more pronounced ideological turn in trying to hit home its other points, essentially that there is no medical evidence that psychiatry is a science or in any way helpful and that psychiatry is directly responsible for the major atrocities of our time such as WWI, the rise of Hitler and WWII, the Balkan wars, and September 11th. All of which is displayed in large-scale placards, infographics, and large screen plasma screens.

A fascinating look into both the worst of psychiatry and an ideology that feels that “the worst” is just the tip of a conspiratorial iceberg.

Know Before You Go

Free parking to the right of the museum's front door - through the gates.

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