The recent Eighth World Congress of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), held between 12 and 19 October 1989 in Athens, was reminiscent of the previous World Congress in 1983 in Vienna, and the one before that in 1977 in Honolulu. Once again the issue of the Soviet political misuse of psychiatry reared its ugly head, and dominated the Association's proceedings. In 1977 the critical debate revolved around what position the WPA should adopt concerning the abuse. In a cliff-hanger vote, the WPA passed a resolution condemning the political misuse of psychiatry but explicitly citing the Soviet case (Bloch & Reddaway, 1984). In the absence of any improvement in the situation by the time of Vienna and in the virtual certainty that the Russians would have been expelled from the organisation, the Soviet Psychiatric Society resigned from its membership in January 1983. In order to forestall a precipitous and premature readmission, the Royal College of Psychiatrists proposed at the Vienna Congress that the Soviets would be welcomed back into the fold but only when they had demonstrated “sincere co-operation”, and when there had been concrete evidence of “amelioration” of the abuse.
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