Punitive psychiatry returning with a vengeance in Putin’s Russia

Punitive psychiatry returning with a vengeance in Putin’s Russia (Image: Kasparov.ru)

Punitive psychiatry returning with a vengeance in Putin’s Russia (Image: Kasparov.ru) 

2016/01/25 • Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Chechnya governor Ramzan Kadyrov’s call for incarcerating members of the Russian opposition in psychiatric prisons much as the Soviets did has attracted widespread attention, but what makes the Chechen leader’s words even more worrisome is that officials elsewhere are already using psychiatry against their opponents.

Today, the Kasparov.ru portal, drawing on a report by RBC-Tyumen, says that officials in the Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous District are working to put critics of the authorities in psychiatric prisons much as Brezhnev-era officials did.

Recently, the Tyumen outlet reported, officials in the city of Kogalyma, angered by complaints by a Russian woman about corruption in communal services, forcibly broke into her apartment, electro-shocked her husband who tried to protect her, and carried the woman away “on an invented pretext” to a psychiatric clinic 250 kilometers away.

The doctors who examined her concluded that there were no reasons to hospitalize her, but, the Kasparov.ru report says, “the bureaucrats are continuing their efforts to send [the woman] to a psychiatric facility and she has again been sent for a new forced examination” of her condition.

Such cases are “increasing in number daily,” Kasparov.ru reports. Another resident of Yugorsk was sent to psychiatrists for possible incarceration in a hospital after publishing information about problems with Putin’s health “optimization” campaign that has led to severe hardships in many places.

And a former school teacher there after being dismissed from her job for reporting on the way in which employees at her college had illegally pocketed money for work they didn’t do was subsequently sent for psychiatric examination as well.

A month ago, Kasparov.ru reported that in Chelyabinsk oblast, young men who had medical certificates exempting them from military service were sent to psychiatric dispensaries as well, with the officials involved threatening them with criminal prosecution.

If Putin does not explicitly and publicly overrule Kadyrov on such practices, it is likely that such cases will multiply – and the only defense those officials go after will be the protests of Russian human rights groups and of Western organizations, just as was true when Soviet psychiatrists at the notorious Serbsky Institute diagnosed dissent as “sluggish schizophrenia.”

For background on this issue and efforts by at least some Russian doctors to oppose the revival of this horrific practice, see “Putin Regime Abusing Psychology the Way Soviets Did Psychiatry, Russian Psychologist Says,” April 5, 2015.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Randolph Carter

    Holy Christ – Insulin shock therapy. Trans-orbital lobotomy. MAO inhibitors. “Howard Dully was lobotomized by (Dr. Walter) Freeman as a 12-year-old boy in 1960. He wasn’t mentally ill; his stepmother wanted to change his personality, which she described as defiant.” Any speculation on what 44.5 million defiant people are being considered?

    “In the United States and most other DEVELOPED societies, severe restrictions have been placed on the circumstances under which a person may be committed or treated against their will as such actions have been ruled by the United States Supreme Court and other national legislative bodies as a violation of civil rights and/or human rights. Thus a person is rarely committed against their will and it is illegal for a person to be committed for an indefinite period of time.” — Wikipedia

    “During the leadership of General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, psychiatry was used to disable and remove from society political opponents (“dissidents”) who openly expressed beliefs that contradicted the official dogma. The term “philosophical intoxication”, for instance, was widely applied to the mental disorders diagnosed when people disagreed with the country’s Communist leaders and, by referring to the writings of the Founding Fathers of Marxism–Leninism — Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin — made them the target of criticism.”

    “Article 58-10 of the Stalin-era Criminal Code, “Anti-Soviet agitation”, was to a considerable degree preserved in the new 1958 RSFSR Criminal Code as Article 70 “Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”. In 1967 a weaker law, Article 190-1 “Dissemination of fabrications known to be false, which defame the Soviet political and social system”, was added to the RSFSR Criminal Code. These laws were frequently applied in conjunction with the system of diagnosis for mental illness, developed by Academician Andrei Snezhnevsky. Together they established a framework within which non-standard beliefs could easily be defined as a criminal offense and the basis, subsequently, for a psychiatric diagnosis.” Ibid.

    Anyone want to guess the bona fides of the thugs in Kogalyma who electoshocked a man and forcibly took his wife to a psychiatric clinic 250 kilometers away?

    God help them all – Bedlam became synonymous with madness and chaos for a reason.

  • Dirk Smith

    ruSSia should be nuked along with Chechnya. Start over….