Scientology twist behind psychiatrist Persaud’s suspension

June 21st, 2008 - 6:54 pm ICT by IANS  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, June 21 (IANS) The manner in which Indian-origin psychiatrist Raj Persaud was suspended for misconduct has become controversial after it emerged that the complaints of plagiarism against him were first brought by a group associated with Scientology - a movement that reportedly opposes psychiatry. Persaud, a high-profile psychiatrist known across Britain for his television and radio appearances, was barred from practising for three months by the regulatory General Medical Council Friday after he admitted to plagiarising the works of other academics in newspaper articles and a book.

However, it emerged that the initial complaint to the GMC was brought not by the academics whose work Persaud had plagiarised but by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which was founded by members of the Scientology movement.

Scientology, founded in the 1950s by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, is said to consider psychiatry to be a destructive and abusive practice.

According to the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, the Church of Scientology is “one of a number of groups involved in the anti-psychiatry movement, and one of the few organisations that publicly oppose the study and application of psychology in addition to psychiatry, claiming that psychiatry was responsible for World War I, the rise of Hitler and Stalin, the decline in education standards in the United States, the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, and the Sep 11 attacks”.

“The Church’s point of view on these issues is documented mainly by Church groups and magazines such as those published by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and Freedom Magazine,” it says.

While suspending Persaud the GMC also noted that the psychiatrist had been praised by celebrity British television journalists and presenters, as well as former foreign secretary and health minister Lord David Owen.

Owen, a respected veteran of British politics, said he has the “highest regard for his (Persaud’s) skills as a populariser and explainer of mental health issues”.

The article that the Citizens Commission on Human Rights complained about was published in the Independent newspaper June 30, 2005 under the title ‘A Dangerous War on Psychiatry’.

In it Persaud wrote: “The ‘war’ against psychiatry was integral to the mission of the founder of Scientology, Ron Hubbard, since his first book, ‘Dianetics’, in 1950, and continues to this day.

“Hubbard indicated as far back as the 1960s that one of the key enemies of Scientology was the profession of psychiatry. This small but internationally connected group, Hubbard claimed, was behind the ‘lies and slander’ that both the press and government agencies received about Scientology.”

Persaud took the passage from American academic Stephen A. Kent’s “The Globalization of Scientology: Influence, Control and Opposition in Transnational Markets”.

Meanwhile, David Nias, a British clinical psychiatrist, said the practice of plagiarism was so rife that an example had to be made of Persaud but added that such complaints were “very rare”.

“It’s something that is so rife, usually a blind eye is turned to it, or just a warning given,” Nias told the Channel 4 television in a news report titled ‘Raj Persaud - plagiarist or hero?’

“It is very rare for someone to be reported or punished for this,” he said.

“Because he is so high profile, it had to be sorted out … Being a celebrity he was much more likely to be highlighted,” he added.

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights describes itself as a “non-profit public benefit organisation that investigates and exposes psychiatric violations of human rights.”

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