Psychiatry and Human Rights: The Past, Present and Future

Citizens Commission on Human Rights Italy protests psychiatric abuse with a march and the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Exhibit in the cultural capital of the country

Forced treatment, threats, restraints, crippling sedation: Despite past reforms, the horrors of the past are still stark facts of life for those caught in Italy’s mental health system. This was the theme of a demonstration at the 2024 Congress of the Schizophrenia International Research Society in Florence. And it was further emphasized at the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Exhibit at the Auditorium al Duomo. Both events were organized by Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a mental health watchdog founded in 1969 by psychiatrist Thomas Szasz and the Church of Scientology. 

Members of CCHR Italy bring their campaign to the 2024 Schizophrenia International Research Society Congress in Florence to protect the rights of the victims of the mental health industry.

CCHR brought their protest to the 2024 Congress of the Schizophrenia International Research Society in Florence to demand attendees take responsibility for ending psychiatric abuse. They insisted the congress take action to ensure full compliance with UN and WHO guidance issued in October 2023 to end coercive practices in the field of mental health.

Hundreds demonstrated in the heart of the city to press home these demands. Among those attending the demonstrations were two psychiatrists who were warned by congress organizers to ignore the protest, but they wanted CCHR to know that they agree that there is too much coercion in psychiatry.

The march was followed by the opening of the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Exhibit, sponsored by the Municipality of Florence April 5 to 9 at the historic Duomo Auditorium.

Among the visitors to the exhibit was a nurse who told CCHR volunteers it is very important to let people know that physical restraints are a human rights abuse and that in her work, she sees drugs prescribed for dubious diagnoses. A student thanked CCHR for educating him on the danger of psychotropic drugs. Visitors were shocked to learn Italian children are still being prescribed drugs with black box labels (labels that warn users of the danger of administering these drugs to children and youths). A nurse went through the exhibit and then shared her own experience with psychiatry: She had been castigated for refusing to assist a psychiatrist in performing electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) on a patient. 

Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Exhibit and a film by the same name document the origins of psychiatry from the infamous Bedlam asylum in the Middle Ages to psychiatry’s popularizing eugenics—a pseudoscience that held that people of “inferior” races should be eliminated. It reveals how psychiatrists were the men behind Hitler, creating the system for implementing the “final solution.” And it brings the industry’s history to the present day, where millions of children are placed on mind-altering drugs simply for exhibiting normal childhood behavior. Mental health professionals, survivors and their family members give harrowing accounts of the multiple abuses perpetrated on them and an unsuspecting public in the form of mass-drugging of children and adults, forced institutionalization and torturous electroshock treatment for the sake of profit.

The work of Citizens Commission on Human Rights is inspired by visionary, humanitarian and Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard who urged Scientologists to expose and help abolish any and all physically damaging practices in the field of mental health, help clean up and keep clean the field of mental health, and bring about an atmosphere of safety and security in the field of mental health by eradicating its abuses and brutality.

For more information, visit the CCHR website or watch the film Psychiatry: An Industry of Death on the Scientology Network. 

The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.

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