Cases of political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union
In the Soviet Union, a systematic political abuse of psychiatry took place and was based on the interpretation of political dissent as a psychiatric problem. It was called ""psychopathological mechanisms"" of dissent.During the leadership of General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, psychiatry was used as a tool to eliminate political opponents (""dissidents"") who openly expressed beliefs that contradicted official dogma. The term ""philosophical intoxication"" was widely used to diagnose mental disorders in cases where people disagreed with leaders and made them the target of criticism that used the writings by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. Article 58-10 of the Stalin Criminal Code—which as Article 70 had been shifted into the RSFSR Criminal Code of 1962—and Article 190-1 of the RSFSR Criminal Code along with the system of diagnosing mental illness, developed by academician Andrei Snezhnevsky, created the very preconditions under which non-standard beliefs could easily be transformed into a criminal case, and it, in its turn, into a psychiatric diagnosis. Anti-Soviet political behavior, in particular, being outspoken in opposition to the authorities, demonstrating for reform, writing books were defined in some persons as being simultaneously a criminal act (e.g., violation of Articles 70 or 190-1), a symptom (e.g., ""delusion of reformism""), and a diagnosis (e.g., ""sluggish schizophrenia""). Within the boundaries of the diagnostic category, the symptoms of pessimism, poor social adaptation and conflict with authorities were themselves sufficient for a formal diagnosis of ""sluggish schizophrenia.""The process of psychiatric incarceration was instigated by attempts to emigrate; distribution or possession of prohibited documents or books; participation in civil rights actions and demonstrations, and involvement in forbidden religious activity. The religious faith of prisoners, including well-educated former atheists who adopted a religion, was determined to be a form of mental illness that needed to be cured. The KGB routinely sent dissenters to psychiatrists for diagnosing to avoid embarrassing publiс trials and to discredit dissidence as the product of ill minds. Formerly highly classified government documents published after the dissolution of the Soviet Union demonstrate that the authorities used psychiatry as a tool to suppress dissent.According to the Commentary on the Russian Federation Law on Psychiatric Care, persons who were subjected to repressions in the form of commitment for compulsory treatment to psychiatric medical institutions and were rehabilitated in accordance with the established procedure receive compensation. The Russian Federation acknowledged that psychiatry was used for political purposes and took responsibility for the victims of ""political psychiatry.""Political abuse of psychiatry in Russia continues after the fall of the Soviet Union and threatens human rights activists with a psychiatric diagnosis.