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Editorial: political abuse of psychiatry in authoritarian systems

  • J. P. Tobin (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/ipm.2013.23
  • Published online: 23 May 2013
Abstract

We are painfully aware: Psychiatry in some states of the international community is often used to subvert the political and legal guarantees of the freedom of the individual and to violate seriously his human and legal rights (Daes,1986).

Objective

It can be politically convenient to incarcerate political opponents in a psychiatric hospital. It saves any potential political embarrassment that a judicial trial may present. It also undermines the credibility of opponents by labelling them with the stigma of being mentally insane. For this to occur, there has to be the acquiescence of mental health professionals and a subservient legal system.

Method

This article examines the abuse of psychiatry in two authoritarian systems, Russia and China.

Result

New diagnostic categories such as sluggish schizophrenia were created to facilitate the silencing of dissenters and were a source of self-deception for psychiatrist to placate their consciences as they operated as a tool of oppression on behalf of a political system.

Conclusion

If we do not know the past, we will be condemned to repeat it.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: J. P. Tobin, BSc, MB, LLM, MRCPsch, FRCPC, Consultant Psychiatrist, Bloomfield Health Services, Stocking Lane, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16, Ireland. (Email tobinjp3@gmail.com)
Linked references
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

H Gordon , R Meux (2000). Forensic psychiatry in Russia: past, present and future. Psychiatric Bulletin 24, 121123.

D Lyons , A O'Malley (2002). The labelling of dissent: politics and psychiatry behind the Great Wall. Psychiatric Bulletin 26, 443444.

M Muminovic (2002). Psychiatric Association to investigate abuse in China. British Medical Journal 325, 513.

F Njenga (2002). Focus on psychiatry in East Africa. British Journal of Psychiatry 181, 354359.

D Ougrin , S Gluzman , L Dratcu (2006). Psychiatry in post-communist Ukraine: dismantling the past, paving the way for the future. Psychiatric Bulletin 30, 456459.

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Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0790-9667
  • EISSN: 2051-6967
  • URL: /core/journals/irish-journal-of-psychological-medicine
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