[The first article below discusses historical Soviet and current Russian
abuses of psychiatry. Following that, I discuss the irony of *American*
psychiatric abuses which have been ignored and covered up for decades.]
Psychiatry's Painful Past Resurfaces in Russian Case
Handling of Chechen Murder Reminds Many of
Soviet Political Abuse of Mental Health System
By Susan B. Glasser
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, December 15, 2002; Page A37
MOSCOW -- The question is not whether Col. Yuri Budanov killed
18-year-old Elza Kungayeva in a Chechen village on March 27, 2000.
He has long since admitted to that.
But for more than two years, Russia's military justice system has been
paralyzed by the case, unable to decide on Budanov's culpability for
a sensational crime that could undermine the government's pledge to
pursue the brutal Chechen war and its uncertain commitment to
stopping the human rights abuses that have resulted.
Stuck on the matter of Budanov's guilt, the state has turned to a
familiar partner from Soviet times, a psychiatric profession that for
decades followed orders to camouflage political problems behind the
opaque curtain of mental illness. In doing so, however, officials have
resurrected questions about psychiatry's shameful past in the Soviet
Union -- and its highly politicized present.
Meanwhile, the case is awakening ugly memories. For years, Serbsky
held political dissidents in the same wards where Budanov has been
kept, dazing them with psychotropic drugs, subjecting them to fake
diagnoses and forcing them to sit through inquisitions on their sanity
whose outcomes had been predetermined by the KGB.
When the military court first ordered Serbsky to test Budanov, the
panel conducting the inquiry was led by Tamara Pechernikova, the
doctor who condemned poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya for protesting the
1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. When that evaluation of
Budanov was criticized, the court next appointed a commission that
included Georgi Morozov, the former Serbsky director who had sat on
many of the committees that declared prominent dissidents insane in
the 1970s and 1980s.
"Practically nothing has changed. They have no shame at the institute
about their role with the Communists," said Yuri Savenko, head of
the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia. "They are the same
people, and they do not want to apologize for all their actions in the
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet dissident and Nobel Prize-winning
author, once wrote, "The incarceration of free-thinking healthy people
in madhouses is spiritual murder." In the West, the debate about Soviet
misuse of psychiatry formed a centerpiece of human rights
campaigns, eventually forcing the Soviet Union to withdraw in
disgrace from the World Psychiatric Congress.
Founded in 1921, the Serbsky Institute played a leading role in such
abuses. By the 1960s, Serbsky was famous for pioneering a diagnosis
that complied with the KGB's wishes to condemn mentally healthy
dissidents. It was called "slow-developing schizophrenia," and it
provided convenient evidence of insanity in someone without obvious
symptoms. Signs of the disease included "stubbornness and
inflexibility of convictions" and "reformist delusions."
The Serbsky Institute disavowed the diagnosis after the collapse of
the Soviet Union, saying there was no such disease. There are laws
today protecting the rights of Russia's mental patients and seeming
to limit Serbsky's powers. But critics say the institute has merely
evolved to suit changing times without genuinely reforming.
"The system is the same, the mentality is the same," said Alexander
Podrabinik, a one-time Soviet dissident. In 1977, he wrote "Punitive
Medicine," a secretly distributed work of samizdat documenting the
horrors of the Soviet psychiatric system. For writing the book, he was
exiled to Siberia for five years. Later, he received 31/2 years in
prison camp -- because the book was translated into English.
"If they didn't tell me it's the Russian Federation now, I wouldn't know
there was any difference at Serbsky Institute from Soviet times," said
the attorney, Karen Nersisyan. "Serbsky is not an organ of medicine.
It's an organ of power."
Notice in the above article that because of psychiatric abuses, the Soviets
were forced to "withdraw in disgrace from the World Psychiatric Congress."
This congress is a meeting run by the World Psychiatric Association:
It is encouraging the first World Psychiatric Congress
of the 21st Century was held in Yokohama Japan. This
was in fact the first time that this Congress has been
held not just in Japan but in any country in Asia since the
Foundation of the World Psychiatric Association in 1950.
The World Psychiatric Association was founded by none other than Ewen
Cameron, who was also its first president. Cameron is infamous for the
hideous, CIA-funded "psychic driving" and personality-erasing experiments
he conducted on patients who came to him for treatment of ailments like
depression. See the following article for more details of those abuses.
Ewen Cameron, former Head of the Quebec Psychiatric Association,
the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the American
Psychiatric Association, the World Psychiatric Association -- in
fact, the founder of the World Psychiatric Association -- and
also one-time President of the Association for Biological
Psychiatry. As politically connected a guy as ever existed in the
entire field of psychiatry in the 20th Century, with his obituary
in the American Journal of Psychiatry, funded through MKULTRA
and Human Ecology Foundation, did LSD and other hallucinogen
research funded by Canadian military and the CIA and was
successfully sued (he had already died) -- the CIA settled out of
court actually -- it wasn't a successful suit technically -- with
eight of his patients who had been victims of experimentation that
was first funded directly by the CIA through the Human
Ecology Foundation and then through the Canadian government.
One of his papers, published in the American Journal of
Psychiatry is on Psychic Driving, another is on Production of
Differential Amnesia in Schizophrenia.
Isn't it ironic that while the Soviets had to withdraw from a meeting
run by the World Psychiatric Association, the US had for years covered up
Cameron's crimes (and many, many other psychiatric abuses)? Even when the
information came out about about Cameron's crimes, the CIA used every slimy
legal trick it could to derail the lawsuits:
This review of the CIA's actions in the United States and Canada
demonstrates how completely unprincipled was the Agency's original
brainwashing program, as well as its course of legal manoeuvers years
later when it was required to answer for its misconduct.
In fact, the coverups of known abuses such as those in MKULTRA and BLUEBIRD
*continue*, to this very day. See for example this _US News_ article:
...the government has long ignored thousands of other cold war victims,
rebuffing their requests for compensation and refusing to admit its
responsibility for injuries they suffered.
Continued secrecy and legal roadblocks erected by the government have made
it virtually impossible for victims of these cold war human experiments to
sue the government successfully, legal experts say.
Many of the stories of people whose lives were destroyed by mind-altering
drugs, electroshock "treatments" and other military and CIA experiments
involving toxic chemicals or behavior modification have been known for
almost 20 years. But U.S. News has discovered that only a handful were
ever compensated -- or even told what was done to them.
Admiral Turner, in his 1983 deposition, conceded that "a disappointingly
small number" were notified but defended the agency's continuing refusal
to declassify the names of the researchers and universities involved. "I
don't think that would have been necessarily the best way," Turner said.
"Not in the litigious society we live in."
These victims are in many cases nothing short of domestic torture victims --
with the government as the perpetrator. When the *government* is the terrorist
it apparently does not count when US citizens are victimized. The oversight
committees barely skimmed the surface of the abuses back in the 1970s, but
left the impression that all such nonconsensual behavior modification and
"mind control" research and experiments were permanently halted. In fact,
the abuses did not end, they only became more secretive and deniable. See
In the decades since the last congressional investigations into these matters
the technology and techniques for "mind control" have only improved. There
are whole new generations of victims complaining of abuses and being officially
ignored -- as well as psychiatrically abused. For more information on the
history of such abuses and the current technologies (such as those labeled
"nonlethal" weapons) see, for example,
Mind Control: Technology, Techniques and Politics
The Stasi persecution syndrome
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