Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Scientology Treatment of Medical Conditions

Scientologists Sponsor the Drug Free Ambassadors of Australia

We have seen constantly repeated in the press these last days the following assertions:
  • Scientology does not allow medical treatment or the use of medical drugs
  • Scientology does not recognizes autism
  • Scientology is against the use of drugs for the treatment of seizure
These statements are totally false and come from anti-Scientologists with an axe to grin. Nevertheless, these false statements have been repeated in the press without verification of source whatsoever and as if they were facts.


The assertion that Scientology does not allow medical treatment is easily proven false. The Church of Scientology always had clear statements to this effect on its web site:


In the meantime, it also issued an official statement that basically repeats what was posted on the addresses above already (though I wonder why they don't publish it on their own web site).

Tommy Davis, spokesman for Scientology International, and Frank Flinn, religious studies professor at Washington University, have both made comments to that effect as well.


While it is true that Scientology does not approve of the use of drugs for the treatment of mental conditions, they have no such directive whatsoever towards drugs for the treatment of physical ailments. See the above references for confirmation, or this paragraph from the official statement:
"Scientologists use medical drugs and prescription medication when physically ill and also rely on the advice and treatment of medical doctors. Scientologists do not take street drugs or mind altering psychiatric drugs of any kind."


Neither I nor the Scientologists I inquired with ever heard of any rule or position regarding autism from the CoS. One has to wonder, then, where anti-Scientologists and the press who repeated their false and fallacious assertions got the idea from.

While it is true that the Scientology does not believe in the treatment of mental illnesses through drugs, autism is not a mental illness. It is a neurological based condition, thus a medical condition. It would therefore fall under the medical treatment rule as above.

However, there is no medicine to treat autism. Nor is there any cure for it. Nor is it lethal on its own (the seizures being only a co-morbid conditions and not part of the syndrome).

Those who have taken pride about "predicting" the death of Jett if his supposed autism condition was not treated have in fact spoken from the top of their head and only displayed their ignorance and prejudice.

Being without clear directive from the CoS regarding this question, the two Scientologists to whom I put the question simply extended the existing rules to the case:

"There are no claims whether “autism” exists or not and I don’t think the Church has any official policy about autism. Whatever that condition may be, any physical component (like brain damage, seizures etc) would certainly be treated medically."
"The truth is that autism is a physical problem and is therefore addressed by physical means. If by "Scientology" they mean the subject itself, then in my study of the subject I have never seen any mention of this condition, probably because it's a physical condition and Scientology deals with the spiritual."

There is something else you need to know about autism. Autism is not a condition you can diagnose "on sight", as Tim Kenny, Travolta's neighbor, did, and which was readily reported as if his amateur diagnostic was an established fact. Check this out:
"The process for diagnosing autism is complex and generally requires not just one professional, but often multiple professionals.

Almost all of the symptoms of autism which must be established also occur in other, similar disorders, so all these other possible diagnoses need to be eliminated as well. There are also many marginal cases where something could be autism or something else, and it isn't easy to decide even after gathering all appropriate diagnostic information.

A diagnosis of autism is something which follows someone for life. No competent medical professional would just look at someone and make a snap diagnosis. "
Is there any reason to doubt that Travolta and Preston would not have the resources to avail the best medical opinion there is? I believe that if they have been "in denial" about the fact that Jett suffered from autism, it simply was because he wasn't. I am quite confident that if the doctors they consulted had made this diagnostic, they would have deployed all the means at their disposal to give Jett the best treatment there was, even if none could cure him. And no non-existent Church policy would have stopped them, contrary to what critics said about them supposedly putting their religion before the wellness of their children.

Now this does not mean that Jett did not suffer from another neurological based condition. As people noted, he did give the appearance of it and I believe that claim to be valid, though nobody, including John and Kelly, seem to know what it was exactly. The important point, though, were the seizures, and these were fully taken into account.

Even admitting that the Travoltas were in denial of an existing autism condition, it would not have changed a thing, since it is not lethal, does not have a cure, does not have drug or medicine. Some people said Jett would have had a better quality of life if the family acknowledged Jett's autistic condition, but I doubt anybody suffering from a neurological disorder, whatever the name, could have had a better quality of life than Jett.

The important thing is this: Jett had a history of seizure, and this was fully acknowledged by the family. They certainly were not in denial about what was the dangerous aspect of whatever neurological disorder Jett may have had - the seizures, that eventually killed him, which is our last point.


In its press release, the CoS explicitly addressed seizures, aligning it with medical conditions, and thereby making it fall under the rule of medical treatment. It also is false to claim that Scientology would be against the use of drugs to treat seizure. Again, whoever spread that rumor was either misinformed or malicious, or both.

However, there is a catch:
"The majority of seizure medications out there are also used as psychiatric medications - Tegretol and Depakote are used for bipolar illness, Klonopin and Valium for anxiety, Lamictal for depression, and so on. "
That would probably be a dilemma for many Scientologists, but at the end of the day, they don't have much choice. From what I understand, as long as these drugs are being used to threat medical ailments and not mental symptoms, Scientology would not object and would consider it a personal matter, leaving to the parents and individuals affected to decide.

This is also confirmed by the to Scientologists I consulted:

First of all, a Scientologist is not "instructed" to seek medical advice or any other kind of advice by the Church. You write as if the Church runs our entire lives. When my friends' little girl first had a seizure they called an ambulance. They didn't call the Church and ask what to do.
More Grahame:
Physical problems like seizures need to be addressed with the appropriate physical handling. If a drug that handles seizures can also be used for other purposes then I don't think that is important. It is up to the person or parent to get the facts and make a decision based on their own due diligence and the advice of their medical practitioner.
Seizures are a medical problem and certainly anti-seizure medication is ok in the Church’s book. I can add some personal experience to this, namely from knowing two epileptics and Scientologists who are taking their medicine regularly. Such medication is absolutely part of some Scientologists life and the Church of Scientology does not interfere in that.
And of course, we also know now that the Travoltas have been using Depakote for many years, all the while being in perfectly good standing with the Church of Scientology.


As it turn out, thus, the truth is that:
  • Scientology does allow medical treatment or the use of drugs
  • Scientology does recognizes neurological conditions as medical conditions
  • Scientology is not against the use of drugs for the treatment of seizure
Not only those anti-Scientologists, who burst in mourning comments, pointing fingers and assigning blame, have shown themselves totally insensitive and heartless, they also were damn wrong!

At the end of the day, more than something that badly reflects against Scientology, it turns out to be something that badly reflects against critics.

They have called this upon themselves by prematurely jumping to conclusions before all the facts were known, making demeaning and hurtful comments towards a family deeply in pain, and failing to display any measure of true critical thinking, something they supposedly possess in great abundance...

This obviously is no surprise to me, as I have reported many other instances of such behavior over the years on my web site.

Not all critics did engage in such a fanatical and de-humanized behavior, though. Some did put the human aspect before their personal engagement, to wit, Mark Bunker and Howard Stern, but what the public have seen in the news comment is the impression they will retain, the end result being more sympathy for the Scientologists and less credibility for their critics.

Those critics who have jumped to conclusions and blame have now switched tactic. They can't find any valid argument to blame Scientology for Jett's death anymore, so they just use innuendos to give the impression that similar deaths plague Scientology's history. But this is another story, another of their countless myths.

Cruising Hitler's Globe

Hitler's globe sparks Valkyrie copyright dispute - Boxwish - Bringing movies to life: "What does Tom Cruise have to do to catch a break? The toothy star has been behaving himself so well recently (he’s refrained jumping on any sofas), but his much talked about return to meaty drama in Valkyrie, the story of German Army Officers conspiring to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944 has suffered another setback. [...]

Robert Pritikin, an advertising executive from San Francisco owns the infamous globe formerly belonging to the Fuehrer, stumping up $100,000 for the privilege back in 2007. An avid art collector, Pritikin also owns other Hitler artefacts and went so far as to have the globe’s likeness copyrighted in an (unsuccessful) bid to prevent people copying it. [...]

“Tom Cruise’s use of the globe’s likeness without our client’s permission was likely just an oversight. We’re confident this will all be quickly resolved out of court.

”One suggested way to diffuse the potential legal problems is that Cruise buy the globe from Pritikin. “I think it would be a wonderful gesture of good will on Tom Cruise’s part to purchase the globe along with all of the other Hitler artefacts owned by Mr. Pritikin and donate them to the Wiesenthal Center,” said Barresi and Hanks agreed: “It would be a hell of a way for Tom Cruise to save the day"


I have heard about the news that Dr. Dre lost a son at about the same time as Travolta, but only now do I learn that his anticipated 2009 album is called ... Detox! Or at least was supposed to be...


You gotta be kidding! After all we read about Jett getting through the Detox Scientology program!!!

And how about the fact that Dr. Dre son died of an overdose of heroin? I don't seem to hear an army of critics on that one. Apparently, dying after an overdose of love and care from parents that are Scientologist is BAD, but dying from an overdose of heroin is all ... OK!!!

In what world are we living?

And another great article from the National Post:

The Son Also Rises: John Travolta and Dr. Dre both mourn the death of a boy - The Ampersand:

"Tragedies in pop culture keep happening in groups. [...] Now, as the new year begins, John Travolta and Doctor Dre find themselves in horrible company: both superstar millionaires are mourning the death of their sons.

Coroners announced on January 3 that Doctor Dre's son had died of a heroin and morphine combination overdose. [...] It must've been hard for Dre, whose breakthrough solo record was The Chronic and his anticipated 2009 album is called Detox, to talk to his boy about drugs. Still, the line between entertainment and real life is tragic, and I wouldn't be surprised if Dre is listening to his record again very closely before deciding what he wanted to put out.

Doctor Dre and John Travolta aren't as professionally different as one might think. Both started their careers early, fell off, disappeared, then had highly-touted comebacks. Travolta just voiced Bolt. Three of 2009's biggest records -- Eminem, 50 Cent and his own -- are all representative of Dre's signature G-Funk sound.

There is no immunization from horror. Something both John Travolta and Doctor Dre are definitely thinking about now. "

As If Losing a Child Is Not Painful Enough

globeandmail.com: Peter Falk: a Hollywood King Lear?: "While grieving the sudden death of his 16-year-old son Jett (who reportedly hit his head on a bathtub during a seizure), John Travolta has been facing wild speculation in the media about his son's isolation at the time and about his Scientology-based refusal to administer anti-seizure medications to the boy (seemingly untruths, all)."

Howard Stern Gets It Right

John, Kelly and Jett

On Jett Travolta, Howard Stern Gets It Right | strollerderby at babblebaby.com.au:
"This morning on Sirius XM Radio, Howard Stern commented on the death of John Travolta and Kelly Preston's son Jett Travolta. In the past, Howard has ruthlessly mocked Scientology; long before it was de rigeur to poke fun at L. Ron Hubbard's celebrity religion, he would read internal Scientology newsletters on the air, exposing their wackiness to the world at large. So one might expect Stern to go after Travolta with both barrels.

Not this time. He said that while some were going to condemn Travolta and Preston for not giving their son medication for what most people felt was autism, he wasn't going to go there, at least not today. Then he made the best point anyone can make about Jett's passing: 'There's nothing sadder than burying your own child.'[...]

Now, lest you think that The Howard Stern Show has become an encounter group, he did later joke that kawasaki disease, which Jett reportedly suffered from, is a disease that "turns you into a motorcycle." (It was kind of a funny, throw away line said during a conversation.) So whatever you think of Howard or his long-running radio show, let's give him credit for getting this one right."

Hackers Hijack Obama's Twitter Account

Hackers hijack Obama's, Britney's Twitter accounts

Obama has a Twitter account? That sounds odd. How would he find the time to update the minutia of what he is doing? And how would that not be a potential security breach, people knowing what he is up to and where?

Twitter's veracity chewed up by Britney's four-foot vagina • The Register
"They were hijacked by miscreants and used to spread scandalous and false information that appeared to come from their owners. [...]

A confession from pop celeb Spears that her vagina was four feet wide "with razor sharp teeth." [...]

Miscreants used the compromised identities to spam additional Twitter users who followed the account holder. [...]

CNN anchor Rick Sanchez, for instance, was caught staying home from work because he was too high on crack."

Why is Tim Kenny Dead?

Conspiracy theories aside, why did Tim Kenny commit suicide?

Like for all such cases, we will never know for sure, and it is just too easy to assign blame.

According to his wife, it was because of financial problems, after he lost his job.

At first sight, it would look crazy that someone would do this for financial problems. How does it resolve anything? In which way does it help his autistic daughter? To me, at first sight, the answer is obviously that it does not resolve anything and is more detrimental to his daughter than whatever he advised to the Travoltas to do. It's crazy.

But then, I don't want to be too judgmental, because while it is something I personally would never do, I am not in his shoes, and, though I was never depressed myself, I know that people who go through this experience also go through terrible mental anguish and pain. Their view of the world gets horribly distorted, and even the most insignificant problem becomes something they just cannot cope with.

Here is what his wife had to say about a comment that blamed him for his act:
"As Mr Kennys widow I am deeply upset by your comments. You HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT! My husband was a wonderful man and a great father. he stood for things that you wouldnt have the guts to stand for. If you knew anything you would know that suicide is sometimes the end result of a illness called depression. He did not take his life because there was no money, he took his life because he was such a proud man that he could financially care for his family and all that it costs with a disabled child and when he lost his job that day it devasted him because he felt like our daughter would no longer be able to get her therapies. he felt like he let us down, that is a real man!!!!!so next time you write terrible things you might consider that wife and daughter that you spoke of and how he was hurting by his actions, you have hurt by your comments..... Its the pot calling the kettle black! "
This being said, I find it incongruous that he would take on himself to make an amateur "on sight" diagnostic on Travolta's son, giving John advises on what to do, and then end up doing such an incredible thing as taking his life as a "solution" to anything.

I know he "stood up to Travolta" out of the goodness of his heart and because he felt that this was the right thing to do, but at the end of the day, it just is absurd.

If anything, it shows that there are no easy answers to human problems, and even less so in such a sensitive field.

Update Jan 7:

I just read the AP article about the small town of Ocala, and this prompted me to think of the following.

This is pure speculation, I will freely admit, but could the loss of Tim's job, that prompted the events that led to his suicide, be due in part to Mark Ebner's article?

By Jove, look at the comments on Ebner's article. They mostly admonish Kenny, telling him to mind his own business and how does he know any of the things he claims, like John and Kelly supposedly "let Jett sit in front of video games all day eating junk food, while they eat the best organic food money can buy". Now how about a small town like Ocala where most of its inhabitant consider the Travoltas as family? It may be that Ebner's article was most unwelcome there.

Tim's attitude no doubt meant an end to the Travoltas patronizing the restaurant, and Ebner's publication may have led other celebrities or customers to boycott it as well. If Tim really ended up calling the child protective services on the Travoltas (though this is only a rumor coming from anti-Scientologists themselves), it certainly would not have made things easier.

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