John Travolta and his son Jett, from UK Mirror.
As I commented briefly on this thread, I am sometimes alarmed by people in my own profession.
To put it bluntly: Alternative medicine can get wackadoodle as hell. I am considered a somewhat middle-of-the-road sort, since I don't issue blanket criticisms of conventional Western medicine (known as allopathic in alt-med parlance), although I will give major hell to Big Pharm. But certainly, I take thyroid hormone every day, am bloody grateful to get it, and I appreciate the blessing of modern medicine. My problem is with its common abuses, as well as its overwhelming obstinacy concerning the allowance of any other disciplines to take part in healing. I think we have plenty to learn from native herbalists, Ayurveda, yoga, and many other alternative sources/approaches.
Having said all that, of course, I get worried. In fact, plenty worried.
And so, when I heard about the death of Jett Travolta, I took a deep breath. Several, in fact.
Ohhhh, no, I thought. No, no, no.
You know why. Or maybe you don't? In any event, the (UK) Times Online, sure does:
A post-mortem examination determined last night that John Travolta’s chronically ill son died of a seizure, as controversy erupted over the Scientologist actor’s handling of the boy’s medical condition.Uh-oh. Seizures.
According to the family, Jett, 16, suffered a seizure and hit his head on a bathtub at their holiday home in the Bahamas, where he was found dead on Friday.
Glenn Campbell, the assistant director of a local funeral home, said that the body was in “great condition” with no sign of head trauma. He said that the death certificate, based on the post-mortem examination, gave the cause of death as “seizure”
And this is when I began taking the deep breaths. I could see this coming like a freaking freight train... Seizures usually require, you know, MEDICATION. And the Scientologists don't like medication.
Already, I have read dueling versions of events: yes, they were giving him medication... no, they weren't.
We will likely never find out. Travolta and his spouse, Kelly Preston, already had the body of Jett cremated before entering the USA. There can be no toxicologist report, in that case, to determine if he was taking seizure meds.
The cremation appeared to have been dealt with swiftly, Jett’s body having undergone a post-mortem examination just hours earlier. It concluded that Jett died as the result of a seizure at the family’s luxury holiday home last Friday.For years, various Hollywood media reports have claimed that Jett had autism, and that the Church of Scientology had it's own particular treatments for this. Some of these (as stated above) are undoubtedly alternative-medicine treatments; I am familiar with most of them. But here it is:
An unconfirmed report on the show-business website TMZ.com claimed yesterday that Jett still had a faint pulse when he was discovered lying in the toilet area of the bathroom, with the door closed. There was “a considerable amount of blood after the resuscitation efforts,” it claimed.
As critics of Scientology questioned Travolta’s handling of his son’s medical condition, Mr Davis stressed that while the Church does not believe in drug treatments for psychological diagnoses, it does not oppose the use of drugs for medical conditions.Is autism "psychological"?
Does the Church of Scientology believe that it is?
Here is Kevin Libin, writing in the National Post:
One thing the Church might not consider an “ethics breach,” though, is if the Travoltas had refrained from medicating Jett with any drugs he may have required to control a mentally related illness. So far, the nature of Jett’s sickness remains one of the big mysteries surrounding his death: medical experts have disputed the family’s story that the boy suffered from Kawasaki Syndrome, caused (the Travoltas claimed) by environmental pollutants, which others have said was simply a cover story for his autism, a disorder Scientology does not recognize but believes is caused by spiritual disharmony (Scientology, you’ll recall from the Tom Cruise absurdity some years back, dismisses psycho-related illnesses as concoctions by the psychiatric profession—which it unaffectionately calls “an industry of death”). There’s reason to be skeptical: Kawasaki is rarely fatal, seldom affects children older than 8, and isn’t known to cause seizures—though some reports claim the parents did stop medicating for Kawasaki, as the treatments didn’t work—and autism even less so (Jett reportedly had a history of seizures but I can’t find any evidence that autism causes seizures, let alone deadly ones—though I stand ready to be corrected by those who know more about this than I do). (UPDATE: this story suggests autism can cause seizures)Libin also links to a comment from ex-Scientologist Michael Pattinson, who writes some fascinating stuff about the whole top-secret process that will now kick in, back in Clearwater:
The family’s spokespeople originally insisted the boy had fallen and injured his head on the bathtub. Making things even more mysterious, this doctor—the first, likely, on celebrity reporters' rolodexes since he conducted Anna Nicole Smith's post-mortem—claims that it would take a pathologist weeks to accurately determine a death was caused by seizure. This was no Nassau Medical College graduate making some slap-dash diagnosis: the Travoltas flew in a top medical officer from California. She prepared her report in just a few hours, before the family had the body cremated immediately afterward and flown back to their home in Florida on dad’s private Boeing 707, named after Jett and his sister.
Scientology spokespeople will very likely give out generalized "press releases" through lawyers or PR personnel that will give no real substance for informing the public.NOTE: They really should get some new nomenclature. Us conspiracy junkies buzz around over-charged terms such as "handlings"; the proverbial moth to the flame.
Secondly, the questions that have arisen about whether the anti-drug/anti-pharmaceutical tenets of Scientology might possibly have actually prevented Jett from receiving proper medical treatment or preventative assistance will be downplayed, denied, ridiculed and/or harshly criticized to try to get attention off the issue as fast as possible. This aspect, however, may not just "go away". It is a question of life or death, after all...
Thirdly, the family will very likely go to Clearwater, Florida (or maybe have Scientology professionals come to their Florida home, but this is far less likely) to the Oak Cove building and/or Sandcastle Hotel for what Scientology calls "handlings".
Okay, what are "handlings"?:
1.Ethics interviews and associated procedures. (Scientology's "Division 1" services.)WOW--all you can say to this is WOW! This is looking hairier and hairier.
This aspect of services would look into the unfortunate and tragic event of Jett's death being a possible result of some kind of personal ethics breach or lack of integrity by the parents. In particular the individual parents would have separate interviews about their own role in the tragedy or how come they "pulled in" (a Scientology ethics jargon term) such an awful situation by something in their own behavior.
The Scientology celebrity ethics officer would also actively look for one or more people in the Travoltas' circle of friends, acquaintances who might be antagonistic to or even anti-Scientology and who could have had sufficient negative influence to "cause" such a tragedy. That person would then be the target of possible disconnection (shunning), firing or lawsuit/fair game. There would be many steps possible for John and Kelly coming out of the "Ethics" handlings, and these could not be predicted here.
***It is worthy of note that the potential question of NOT giving proper or adequate medication would not be considered a Scientology ethics violation due to L.Ron Hubbard's indoctrination to avoid such medical or psychological types of treatment. In fact, the failure to give doctor-recommended drugs or medications to Jett might factually be considered to be a laudable Scientology ethics matter.***
Some of this information recalls Rolling Stone's amazing article on Scientology back in 2006, wherein several of author Janet Reitman's sources kept backing out and begging for anonymity.
As a confirmed religion/mythology junkie, I tend to give even the flakiest religion the benefit of the doubt... but it was this article that started giving me the major creeps... just because so many people refused to go on the record. (That article is still one of the best and most comprehensive investigations of Scientology that I have found.)
Pattinson continues, describing the upcoming agenda for the Travoltas:
2.Correction interviews and procedural steps (Scientology's "Division 5" services).Did he say $1000 an hour? Are these the Travolta rates? Do they have a sliding scale for indigent members, or as one of my friends quipped, don't they HAVE any indigent members?
These steps, sometimes called "Review" would be services designed to address any failures of John or Kelly (and/or Jett's caretaker, as I believe he is a Scientologist) to have properly applied relevant Scientology technologies to their son or his living situation within the family. Any strictly Scientology-dictated ways of living that are detected as to having been omitted or misapplied would have to be re-studied and drilled till they become second nature.
3.Technical sessions ("auditing") (Scientology's "Division 4" services.)
This would be some very expensive counseling sessions and personal programs designed to remove, if possible, all the negative emotions from this awful tragedy. This can cost up to $1000 an hour. The outcome of this step is varied in its success and can take weeks or months to complete.
A more cynical prediction: I would also comfortably estimate that Scientology, as an organization, would attempt to get the maximum financial and public relations benefit from this horrible tragedy. It will be interesting to watch how they go about doing this. In any case the organization through its spokespeople will tend to avoid truth, responsibility and facts. It will also use the media without being of any real service to the media. [L. Ron] Hubbard hated journalists almost as much as he hated psychologists, doctors and psychiatrists.I guess we'll be finding out?
Or maybe we won't.
Stay tuned, sports fans.