Scientology-backed Ottawa exhibit takes aim at psychiatry

A controversial travelling exhibit denouncing psychiatry and sponsored by a group funded by the Church of Scientology has come to Ottawa.

Travelling exhibit sets up shop on Rideau Street

A controversial travelling exhibit denouncing psychiatry and sponsored by a group funded by the Church of Scientology has come to Ottawa.

The Scientology-funded Citizen's Commission on Human Rights exhibit is called Psychiatry, An Industry of Death.

The Scientology-funded Citizen's Commission on Human Rights has launched a two-week exhibit in Ottawa that attacks psychiatry. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

A giant banner saying "stop psychiatric drugging of children now" hangs outside a storefront on Rideau Street at Waller.

Inside, the exhibit's 14 video installations are equally unabashed in their attack on psychiatrists. The group claims the practice is abusive and its therapies cause millions of deaths.

Angela Ilasi, a volunteer with commission and also a Scientologist, says psychiatrists manufacture illnesses and then drug companies make millions.

"It's the deceit that's foisted on people that they're being told they can be labelled with a disorder for anything," she said.

Psychiatrist says exhibit message 'gross hyperbole'

The group has been asking Ottawa residents to sign a petition demanding the federal government launch a public investigation into what they call the over-prescribing of psychiatric medication of minors. Ilasi said they have had 200 people sign the petition and a thousand have visited the exhibit.

Dr. Simon Hatcher, a psychiatrist at several Ottawa hospitals, said Scientology has a history of attacking psychiatry.

The controversial exhibit claiming psychiatry kills is "gross hyperbole" and "just wrong," said Ottawa psychiatrist Dr. Simon Hatch. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

"There is an issue around over-diagnosis and over-treatment, and I think that's a reasonable argument," said Hatcher. But he thinks the exhibit and its message go too far.

"Extrapolating to say psychiatry kills is gross hyperbole and just wrong," he said.

The exhibit is in Ottawa for two weeks.

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