Political Abuse Of Psychiatry In The Soviet Union
|Psychiatry in Russia and the USSR|
In the Soviet Union, systematic political abuse of psychiatry took place. Soviet psychiatric hospitals known as "psikhushkas" were used by the authorities as prisons in order to isolate hundreds or thousands of political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally. This method was also employed against religious prisoners and most especially against well-educated former atheists who adopted a religion. In such cases their religious faith was determined to be a form of mental illness that needed to be cured. Formerly highly classified extant documents from "Special file" of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union published after the dissolution of the Soviet Union demonstrate that the authorities of the country quite consciously used psychiatry as a tool to suppress dissent.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, it was often reported that some opposition activists and journalists were detained in Russian psychiatric institutions in order to intimidate and isolate them from society. In modern Russia, human rights activists also face the threat of psychiatric diagnosis as a means of political repression.
The allegations about punitive psychiatry taking place in Russia were rejected by Russian scientists. According to Professor R.A. Nadzharov, Doctor of Medical Sciences and Deputy Director of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences' Psychiatric Institute,
There can be no doubt that talk in the West of 'the forced commitment to psychiatric hospitals' of certain 'dissident' representatives of the intelligentsia is nothing other than a component part of the anti-Soviet propaganda campaign that certain circles are trying to stir up in pursuit of highly improper political aims."
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