Has this magnificently corny PSA graced your Facebook newsfeed lately? Inspirational rock music. Dejected kids pulling stickers from their shirts, revealing words like "revolutionary" and "healer" underneath. A title card: "Stop psychiatric labeling of kids." You've got the Church of Scientology to thank.
As of today, the video—posted by an organization called the Citizens Commision for Human Rights on April 3—has accrued 6,989,912 views on Facebook. Two weeks after its publication, it's still getting shared roughly once every minute. I haven't seen any of my friends post it, but a tipster who alerted us to the video's existence gave an emphatic "jesus GOD yes" when I emailed to ask whether it was being shared into her feed often. (It's blowing up on Facebook now, but technically it isn't new; the group uploaded an identical PSA to YouTube in 2010.)
So who is behind CCHR—a self-described "an international mental health watchdog"—and why are they so intent on informing you of the specter of "bogus mental disorders"? You won't find the word "Scientology" anywhere on CCHR's Facebook page, but it's right there in the "About" section of the organization's official website:
How CCHR Was Established: CCHR was co-founded as an independent mental health watchdog in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus Dr. Thomas Szasz at a time when patients were being warehoused in institutions, abused, stripped of their constitutional, civil and human rights, and left without recourse.
The parts about "warehoused in institutions" and "left without recourse" sound scary, but CCHR's real raison d'être is not the shutting down of abusive doctors, but a frontal assault on the entire practice of psychiatry. It operates a "museum" called "Psychiatry: Industry of Death" in Los Angeles, which contends that the mental health industry has a master plan for world domination. It has published books and articles claiming that psychiatrists are to blame for 9/11 and the rise of Adolf Hitler.
CCHR was not simply founded by the Church of Scientology; it is little more than a front, established by the church to advance and give apparent legitimacy to its own anti-psychiatry agenda. Why see a licensed therapist when you can pour out your troubles to a Scientology auditor instead? Wrote University of Alberta professor Stephen Kent in 2012:
Scientology created a number of subgroups and worksites to promote its goals, including its ideological attacks on psychiatry, which primarily fall under the subgroup called the CCHR...In the context of Scientology, CCHR is an informational and lobby group. It functions under Scientology's code of ethics and is comprised primarily of Scientologists.
Next time you see the video, feel free to let your friend know that they're doing unwitting PR work for an organization that used slave labor to build motorcycles for Tom Cruise. Or, you know, just mute them.