Weekend ephemera

Jennifer Raff —  May 27, 2013 — 4 Comments

I know it’s technically no longer the weekend, but since it’s a holiday here in the United States, I’m going to ignore that fact. Here are some things I found interesting this past week:

Something I read:
“Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright. I’ve been reading this a chapter at a time on the El while commuting to my lab, and I’ve finally finished it. It’s an absolutely fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of Scientology, coupled with a history of L. Ron Hubbard and how he came to found the organization.

Coincidentally, a few weeks ago on a date** I actually went to a Scientology-sponsored “Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights” traveling exhibit in Bucktown called “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death”. Essentially, the exhibit consists of a series of movies (which were boring and I skipped), and posters with super scary images:
Scary scientology psychiatry photo
with explanations in text about how psychiatry is a global conspiracy with a mission to generate profits and control the world by making up diseases and using torture treatments to subjugate people. Evidently psychiatry is the true cause of all the past evil in the world, responsible for the Holocaust, torture, apartheid, scientific racism, Russian gulags, and Hemingway’s death.

The exhibits were utterly fascinating, and all entirely wrong. I’m not going to go into a detailed refutation of their inaccurate claims here (although I could do that in another post if anyone’s interested). But I do want to encourage people to read a bit about the history and philosophy of Scientology, because efforts like these do have consequences. Not only do they misrepresent a medical profession and ongoing scientific research associated with it, they also further stigmatize mental illness and potentially increase the reluctance of people afflicted with such illnesses to seek treatment for themselves. While there are certainly worthy and interesting discussions to be had about the use of psychiatric medication, I urge you to educate yourselves and recognize the difference between legitimate critiques and blatant manipulation.

On a (much) lighter note…

Here are some things I found interesting on the web:

–This wind map of the United States is completely hypnotic . Definitely recommend staring at this for a while if you get stressed. Our planet is astonishing.

A blog post about how my sister, Julie Kedzie, poses a significant challenge to current UFC champion, Ronda Rousey. Obviously I agree!

–And finally, this stunning color film of London in 1927 gave me chills. I love glimpses into the past like this.

Do you notice how slowly vehicles moved? Life was at a different pace back then.

What do you think about Scientology? Am I now a Suppressive Person for speaking out about it? What did you like best about the London film? Do you have any book recommendations for me? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. And have a lovely and adventurous week, everyone!


For Americans, today is Memorial Day, a holiday to honor soldiers killed in wars. If you’re looking for a way to make a charitable gesture in this spirit, consider donating to the Wounded Warrior project to help injured veterans find financial assistance and employment opportunities.

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**Yes, I go on incredibly weird dates.

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Jennifer Raff

Posts

Scientist, fighter, reader. In pursuit of the extraordinary.

4 responses to Weekend ephemera

  1. 

    Great post as always, Jen.

    As you asked for book recommendations, and in the spirit of examining psychiatry / big pharma / philosophy of mental illness, I hereby recommend “Crazy Like Us” by Ethan Watters. Very interesting look at how the ‘establishment’ (interpret that how you will) has exported the American perspective of mental illness to many regions in the world, with harmful consequences. It’s not nearly as doctor-bashing as I expected, and much more analytical of different cultural perspectives of mental health.

    Cheers.

  2. 

    Thanks for reading and sharing that book, Mark! I’ll definitely check it out.

  3. 

    I lost some friends to that cult. After years of nudging me to take a “course” or three, they finally asked me directly what I objected to in their “religion”… I didn’t know where to begin. The amazing amount of completely unsubstantiated claims, the plethora of pseudo scientific nonsense, the vast array of their discoveries that were nothing more than common sense (“murder is not Way to Happiness” etc)… I finally settled on the one I found the silliest: their “Purification Rundown”, a treatment procedure which claims to flush out all the accumulated radiation and drug residues which (according to them) build up in the body and cause all kinds of spiritual damage… one member claimed that when he went through the Purif, he re-experienced the effects of baby-aspirin that he’d been given as a child…

    I went through their literature on this “rundown” procedure (which costs over $2,000 I believe) basically saying “drugs don’t behave that way in the body… radiation doesn’t work like that…” and “yes, niacin in large doses will cause your skin to get red, but that is not evidence that you are reversing damage from old sun-burns…” I explained about histamine in the skin…

    They listening politely enough, with that “you can’t lay a glove on my bliss” stare… a few days later, I got an official letter that I was an “SP”… not in so many words, but basically saying that continued discourse with me was considered some kind of impediment to their progress in their religion…

    So what kind of religion makes people do such weird things (how many friends have ever TYPED you a breakup letter? ha!) or believe they have experienced something that is physically impossible (baby aspirin, trapped in the body for 20 years? no, that did not happen…) Well, all you need to know is here:

    http://www.xenu.net/

    http://ocmb.xenu.net/ocmb/

  4. 

    Without getting into the subject of Scientology which is not my direct intention, could someone please show me exact scientific methodology and physical test results carried out to detect any of the great many current mental illnesses listed in the DSM V. I was a nurse many years ago and to my knowledge no tests exist save for an opinion based diagnosis. Just the facts please if you don’t mind. I now own a construction business and base all my ideas on workable facts and provable methodology which I find significantly lacking in the field of Psychiatry. My mother was a Psych nurse as well and she is now of the same mind as I.

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