Chapter 5

Fringe Developments

The 'Campaign Against Psychiatric Atrocities'

All this eventually inspired an offshoot movement called The Campaign Against Psychiatric Atrocities, with offices at Isleworth in Middlesex and at Clarence Gate Gardens, London, NW1. This displayed from the start a conspicuously higher standard of literacy, but continued to use the goat-legged surgeons with their Mephistophelean heads, their white jackets and their poor bare legs. They wielded even bigger hypodermic syringes, mallets and chisels, and their straitjacketed victims stood in endless queues waiting for the end. 'Psychiatry', this movement announced, 'can kill, maim and injure.' Press reports about the maltreatment of patients in bad mental hospitals, of which there had been no shortage in recent years, were as grist to the mill.

'Mental illness is a myth', said one cyclostyled leaflet (undated).

There are only people with PROBLEMS IN LIVING. Why then are warnings not heeded, and enlightened and humane alternatives disregarded, minimised or discredited? Why the continued mass propagation and fixation of attention upon 'mental illnesses'? Why are an increasing number of types of misbehaviour classified as abnormal and described as illnesses? Why are we being coaxed into psychiatric hospitals with the offer of voluntary treatment and then labelled as 'mentally ill' and violated and degraded? Why are the totally inappropriate or lethal and degrading 'treatments' of electric-shock, brain operations, massive drugging and conditioning techniques being dispensed with such zeal? ...

Some say that psychiatry and mental health have been perverted by a fascist minority in positions of power and influence and that they are being used to attack and enslave us. Others that it's all the fault of the 'system', and a sincere but misguided Establishment 'trying to do its best'. It's an open question, but the result is a situation that demands action. ...

Our Campaign is informal and growing steadily. ... Many of us were already in action before CAPA came into being and are continuing with activities previously under way. ... We have psychiatrists, medical doctors, nurses, 'patients', 'ex-patients' and others who support us. Most prefer to remain anonymous for the obvious reasons - fear of victimisation, intimidation and reprisal. ...

At this time we shall concentrate most of our attention and energy on the grossest violation of the individual - those psychiatric hospitals that are no better than concentration camps. Our attack will not particularly be against the minority of staff who perpetuate the obvious brutalities, but against the 'psychiatric system' that breeds violence in all its forms by fostering the myth of mental illness and the hopelessness of it all, denies the majority of people the opportunity of benefiting from desirable alternatives [1], negates the willingness and ideas of those who want something better, allows people to be packed indiscriminately into psychiatric hospitals, and advocates or condones the use of 'treatments' as therapeutic. ...

If you too want changes, join us now.

The group began in March 1969 a series of demonstrations in Harley Street, waving placards bearing such homely messages as 'Psychiatry Does You In'; and in August 1969, under the leadership of Mr Peter Stumbke (a scientologist), it staged a special demonstration at the Second International Congress of Social Psychiatry. Mr Stumbke told the press that he and his co-demonstrators were surprised at the sympathy they had aroused, among the delegates to the Congress, by their disclosure that psychiatry does you in [2]. 'All the delegates came out,' he said, 'to know what it was about, and many of them said they were unhappy about the state of psychiatry too. Not all of them were psychiatrists, of course,' he added: 'There were social workers and mental welfare officers too. We came into existence in response to six or seven scandals being reported in the press about mental institutions, hospitals and psychiatric treatment, and we oppose the whole myth of mental illness.' But The Times report (it was in The Times Diary) concluded with the news that Mr Stumbke denied that his campaign had any links with 'Scientology'. Indeed the connection, if any, seems to have been ideological rather than a matter of joint administration. Mr Stumbke nevertheless later appeared on the scene as a scientologist and it was through disapproval of scientology's alleged support for his campaign that a splinter movement was formed in July 1969 and called 'People Not Psychiatry' (its leader being Mr Mike Barnett).

The Campaign Against Psychiatric Atrocities drew copiously on the work of Dr T. S. Szasz, Professor of Psychiatry in the State University of New York, who in 1961 had written a book called The Myth of Mental Illness, 'in which he had set out to demolish the popular psychiatric concept of mental illness as a pseudo-medical enterprise'. His book, popular or 'lay', received little notice in Britain until the Campaign took it up. 'His condemnation of mental illness as scientifically worthless and socially harmful', said a Campaign 'press release' on 20 July 1969, 'has been largely ignored by the Psychiatric Establishment.' It is accordingly interesting that 'scientifically worthless and socially harmful' were precisely the epithets applied to scientology by Mr Kenneth Robinson when he was Minister of Health.

During the morning of 3 March 1969 the office staff of the National Association for Mental Health became aware that a demonstration was going on outside their offices at No. 39 Queen Anne Street, London. A group of young people, some of whom had been seen on recent mornings distributing scientology leaflets at Oxford Circus, were walking up and down carrying placards bearing the kind of slogans with which psychiatrists must by this time have been all too familiar:

Crossman Backs Legal Murder

Psychiatrists Make Good Butchers

More Government Control of Psychiatrists needed

Psychiatrists Maim and Kill

Buy your Meat from a Psychiatrist

Psychiatry Kills.

Ban Legal Murder by Psychiatrists.

Why do 50 per cent Go Back In?

And wherever the word 'psychiatry' was used, the 'ch' was replaced by a Nazi-type swastika.

Queen Anne Street adjoins Wimpole Street and Harley Street; it is an area in which psychiatric consultants are thick on the ground, and their patients arriving for consultation must form a sizable proportion of the passers-by. The demonstrators stayed in and around Queen Anne Street all day long, leaving at about 5.30. The anti-psychiatry slogans were destined to play a larger part, in the events which followed, than that of providing the passers-by in Queen Anne Street with food for thought.

The 'Association For Health Development And Aid'

Then there appeared an 'Association for Health Development and Aid', with an office at No. 6 Upper Wimpole Street and a programme designed to 'cure the cause not the symptoms'. It was established, it announced,

to work for and promote the provision in mental hospitals and institutions of equipment for the proper care of the mentally ill and for the proper provision of routine medical and dental treatment.

This seems to differ, therefore, from the 'Campaign Against Psychiatric Atrocities' in that it did not deny the existence of mental illness. Mental illness was not 'a myth', invented and propagated so that psychiatrists could have homicidal or sexual fun in the treatment of helplessly indoctrinated victims. The mentally ill, on the contrary, must have 'proper care and routine medical and dental treatment'. This newest campaign had some known medicaI men and women among its published patrons, one at least of whom was a member of the National Association for Mental Health [3]. Its leading patron (on paper) was a well-known bishop, who resigned as soon as he discovered its connection with scientology.

But this movement, too, liked the views of the American psychiatrist Professor Thomas Szasz (see page 52), and relied upon a much-used quotation from an article he wrote in the USA Journal-Lancet in January 1968:

When pain is chronic and unbearable, so that it pre-empts the patient's complete attention, the situation resembles certain severe mental illnesses, especially 'compulsive' states, 'agitated depressions' and 'schizophrenia'.

Accordingly, said the AHDA, 'the insane are really sick people in suppressed agony. More and more evidence is accumulating to show that the symptoms of insanity are caused by an undiagnosed pain condition which would yield to normal medical treatment if those methods of treatment were available. But no institution in the United Kingdom had a fully equipped diagnostic clinic in 1968.'

AHDA accordingly demanded 'a model diagnostic clinic, fully equipped and built as a prototype for every mental hospital in the British Isles'; and, even more rationally,

a full physical examination and ordinary medical treatment of the insane before psychiatric treatment is permitted.

The Process

Yet another 'psychological personality movement' called 'The Process' began to take shape in 1968, setting up as 'a therapy to free people from their compulsions' and to release their latent abilities. Within a very short time the Charity Commissioners had registered it as a charity.

Two of the scientology students in 1968 were Robert de Grimston and Mary Ann Maclean. They either found scientology unsatisfactory or saw that it presented possibilities that were not being fully exploited; for they began to develop, partly by practising on friends (who spread the gospel by practising on their friends), a system of 'disciplinary exercises' to help people to communicate with each other more effectively. The couple married in 1964 and began to hold classes in a flat in Wigmore Street. At first they called it 'Compulsions Analysis', changing the name to 'The Process' in 1966. Sessions took place on several evenings a week, beginning with a 'processing' interview at which something at least resembling the 'Hubbard E-meter' was used (it seems to have been the only scientology symptom whose validity they still acknowledged). The students were mostly young and came from well-to-do families, and during the next two years about 300 of them took the course - in March 1966 the classes were transferred to bigger premises in Balfour Place, Park Lane. At the end of 1966 the de Grimstons, and presumably The Process, removed suddenly to the Bahamas and later on went to Mexico. Among the group at that time were a number of teenagers whose parents had become anxious and were resorting to such measures as Wardship in Chancery; and it was when these began to drift back to England that The Process itself packed up and returned too, headed by the de Grimstons.

Two psychiatrists have been cited by the National Association for Mental Health [4] as holding conflicting views about The Process and, for that matter, about scientology. Before quoting them, it is fair to say that the scientologists totally repudiate the teaching and methods of The Process (except, presumably, the E-meter) and that the two movements, parent and child though they may be, contemplate each other without affection.

'A consultant psychiatrist,' said the Mental Health article, 'treating a schizophrenic who had attended a scientology course, was doubtful whether such semi-psychological cults as scientology or The Process had been proved to be harmful.'

They appealed to artistic people, students from Oxford or Cambridge, but you would never find a science student from Imperial College joining. He said that the attitude of many who joined would be that any hypothesis that had not been disproved was worth a try.

The other psychiatrist drew a different picture. He paralleled the various stages through which The Process passed with the natural history of a schizoid progression. There was the growing self-centredness of the group, the omnipotence of its thinking (a characteristic schizoid feature), poverty of ideation and more and more nebulous concepts. Latterly there was the quasi-religious element and the decision to abandon the world completely and become an isolated community in the wilds of Mexico.

A movement like scientology and all the dissident or splinter movements to which it will inevitably give rise will always disown each other. Even the holiest of churches, even the best of social reform movements, will do that. None of them needs to be called in aid to judge any of the others. The scientologists' view of The Process was expounded thus in a letter to the Sunday Mirror from Mr David Gaiman on 29 September 1967:

With reference to the Sunday Mirror articles about a group called The Process, I wish to bring it to the attention of your readers that the Church of Scientology has no connection with and should not be confused with The Process; neither does it approve nor condone the activities and deviations which have been reported as being those of The Process. In Scientology we believe that man is basically good and ethical, and our efforts in Scientology are to free man so that he can live a better life in his own estimation and the estimation of his fellows.

There is accordingly no reason to associate scientology with any of the outer-fringe movements which former scientologists have helped, perhaps unwittingly, to germinate. There are scientologists' names among them, but there are Jews in the Christian church, white men in the Black Power movement, coloured Powellites, criminals in the police, peers in the House of Commons. I even know of a vegetarian working in Smithfield Meat Market.


1. The propaganda, unlike scientology itself, was sparse in its references to what these alternatives would be.

2. The Times, 11 August 1969.

3. This lady, an MB, BS in practice in the West End, actually resigned from the NAMH because her study of scientology had 'increased her IQ' and her 'learning rate'.

4. In Mental Health for Spring 1967, p. 19.

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