Russian Psychiatry : Again a Weapon Against Dissenters_WashPost

The Washington Post reports (below) that according to the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia, an advocacy group,   "Abuse has begun to creep back in, and we’re seeing more cases.  It’s not on a mass scale like in Soviet times, but it’s worrying."

"Soviet-style forced psychiatry has reemerged in Russia as a weapon to intimidate or discredit citizens who tangle with the authorities, according to human rights activists and some mental health professionals. Despite major reforms in the early 1990s, some officials are again employing this form of repression." 

Psychiatrists have a long ignoble record of using their physician’s professional license as a weapon.
Psychiatrists concoct psychiatric "diagnoses" to be used as weapons, leading to the involuntary commitment of individuals whose vocal opposition to government policies is troublesome.  Anyone labeled mentally ill loses legal protection and other civil rights; a psychiatric label disqualifies people from professional work, condemning them to the status of outcasts in society.

The ordeal endured by  Marina Trutko is prima facie evidence of a resurrgence of psychiatric abuse of dissidents in the "new" Russia:
"On March 23, police and emergency medical personnel stormed Marina Trutko’s home, breaking down her apartment door and quickly subduing her with an injection of haloperidol, a powerful tranquilizer. One policeman put her 78-year-old mother, Valentina, in a storage closet while Trutko, 42, was carried out to a waiting ambulance. It took her to the nearby Psychiatric Hospital No. 14.
The former nuclear scientist, a vocal activist and public defender for several years in this city 70 miles north of Moscow, spent the next six
weeks undergoing a daily regimen of injections and drugs to treat what was diagnosed as a "paranoid personality disorder."

"She is also very rude," psychiatrists noted in her case file. Who would be anything but rude under these circumstances?

The Post reports: "Some of the new cases have been abetted by institutions or doctors involved in it in the Soviet period. Trutko, who is originally from Uzbekistan, was diagnosed at the Serbsky Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow, one of the most infamous of the Soviet institutions that imprisoned dissidents. It remains a secretive institution that has never faced up to its repressive past, according to human rights groups. One of signatures on Trutko’s official evaluation, which declared she had paranoid personality disorder, is that of Yakob Landau, a longtime Serbsky psychiatrist who headed the institute’s notorious Unit No. 4 during Soviet days.  Officials at the institute, a walled and forbidding complex in central Moscow, said no one was available to comment for this article. Investigators in Trutko’s case declined to comment."

Institutional psychiatric abuse and the state’s reliance on psychiatrists to silence critics is not exclusive to Russia and the totalitarian inclinations
of its rulers….

Examples of abusive involuntary lock up and forced "treatment" with the same armamentarium of toxic drugs forcibly administered on the basis of a psychiatrist’s signature can be found in the U.S. as well. 

 Haldol injections have for decades been routinely used as chemical restraints by mental health workers.
To gain insight into the nature of US institutionally sanctioned abuse of the mentally ill, read Robert Whitaker’s book, Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill—-http://www.amazon.com/Mad-America-Medicine-Enduring-Mistreatment/dp/0738207993

Russian psychiatry continues to provide the government with the "professional" means for incarcerating then drugging political dissidents.
In the US, children are the targeted victims of psychiatric abuse–and that abuse is sanctioned by the federal government.   It is doubtful that
Russia’s President Putin has given an official seal of approval to abusive psychiatric practices. In the US, by contrast, the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health Report (NFC) provides the government seal of approval to the illegitimate use of powerful mind-altering, highly toxic psychotropic drugs–as recommended in the prescription guidelines–TMAP–which were formulated under the influence of Big Pharma. See at least 12 documents: www.ahrp.org.

Children are labeled with trumped up "diagnoses"–such as bipolar disorder–to justify the toxic antipshychotic drugs being dispensed. Neither
the diagnoses nor the treatments that these victimized children receive is justified by scientific or clinical practice standards.
 See: "The Latest Mania: Selling Bipolar Disorder" by Dr. David Healy in PLoS Medicine at:
http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0030185 

The abusive unapproved use of antipsychotic drugs to control children’s behavior is American psychiatry’s crime against children.
Children as young as toddlers are being expsed to high risk of debilitating life-threatening illnesses triggered by the drugs they are forced to swallow singly and in drug cocktails.  See: Medicating Aliah by Rob Waters, Mother Jones at:
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2005/05/medicating_aliah.html

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
veracare@ahrp.org
 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/29/AR2006092901592.html

 Washington Post Foreign Service 
 In Russia, Psychiatry Is Again a Tool Against Dissent
 By Peter Finn
 Saturday, September 30, 2006; A01
 
 DUBNA, Russia On March 23, police and emergency medical personnel stormed Marina Trutko’s
home, breaking down her apartment door and quickly subduing her with an
injection of haloperidol, a powerful tranquilizer. One policeman put her
78-year-old mother, Valentina, in a storage closet while Trutko, 42, was
carried out to a waiting ambulance. It took her to the nearby Psychiatric
Hospital No. 14.

 The former nuclear scientist, a vocal activist and public defender
for several years in this city 70 miles north of Moscow, spent the next six
weeks undergoing a daily regimen of injections and drugs to treat what was
diagnosed as a "paranoid personality disorder."

 "She is also very rude," psychiatrists noted in her case file.

 In person, Trutko presents a different profile, reserved and formal
as she recounts her legal and psychiatric  ordeal and invokes the minutiae
of Russian law without  to refer to texts. An independent evaluation found
that although she did not have an "ordinary personality," she was "very
gifted and creative" and displayed no psychiatric symptoms.

 Trutko is new evidence that Soviet-style forced psychiatry has
reemerged in Russia as a weapon to intimidate or discredit citizens who
tangle with the authorities, according to human rights activists and some
mental health professionals. Despite major reforms in the early 1990s, some
officials are again employing this form of repression.

 "Abuse has begun to creep back in, and we’re seeing more cases,"
said Lyubov Vinogradova, executive director of the Independent Psychiatric
Association of Russia, an advocacy group. "It’s not on a mass scale like in
Soviet times, but it’s worrying."

 In those years, tens of thousands of dissidents were wrongfully
subjected to forced hospitalization, sometimes for years, based on
trumped-up diagnoses of "schizophrenia." Dissidents were said to exhibit
inflexibility of convictions and nervous exhaustion brought on by
anti-government activities. "Reformist delusions," the Soviets called it. If
you were against communism, in other words, you were insane.

 Some of the new cases have been abetted by institutions or doctors
involved in it in the Soviet period. Trutko, who is originally from
Uzbekistan, was diagnosed at the Serbsky Institute for Social and Forensic
Psychiatry in Moscow, one of the most infamous of the Soviet institutions
that imprisoned dissidents. It remains a secretive institution that has
never faced up to its repressive past, according to human rights groups.

 As recently as 2001, the institute’s director, Tatyana Dmitriyeva,
denied that the Soviet Union engaged in any more psychiatric abuse than
Western countries, according to the report "Human Rights and Psychiatry in
the Russian Federation" by the Moscow Helsinki Group.

 One of signatures on Trutko’s official evaluation, which declared
she had paranoid personality disorder, is that of Yakob Landau, a longtime
Serbsky psychiatrist who headed the institute’s notorious Unit No. 4 during
Soviet days.

 Officials at the institute, a walled and forbidding complex in
central Moscow, said no one was available to comment for this article.
Investigators in Trutko’s case declined to comment.

 The charge that psychiatry is again being abused is not universally
accepted within the profession. "The problem of forced treatment or
psychiatric persecution existed more than 20 years ago, but it was solved.
And since then I haven’t heard of any case of forced psychiatric examination
or treatment," said Vladimir Rotstein, president of Public Initiative on
Psychiatry, an advocacy group.

 The Independent Psychiatric Association, however, says that the
number of activists being wrongfully hospitalized in mental facilities
totals dozens of cases in recent years and is increasing. Doctors and the
courts are complicit with investigators who insist on a forced psychiatric
evaluation or treatment, it says. Activists have also documented an increase
of family or business disputes in which wrongful hospitalization provides an
opening to seize a person’s property, Vinogradova said.

 Most of the targeted activists are not affiliated with major human
rights groups. Rather, like Trutko, they are stubborn gadflies who are
involved in long-running feuds with local authorities. Their sometimes
intemperate complaints against authorities are used to open criminal
investigations for slander. This allows authorities to seek hospitalization.
Unlike Soviet dissidents, these activists are put away for relatively short
periods of a week to several months.

 Roman Lukin, a businessman in the Volga River city of Cheboksary,
was hospitalized last year for "unexplainable behavior" after he held up a
sign on a public square calling three judges "creeps." Seeking redress for a
bad debt that ruined him, Lukin felt he had not received justice from the
courts. He spent two weeks in the local psychiatric hospital, which
recommended that he undergo further examination at a specialized clinic in
Moscow for possible "paranoid personality disorder." Independent Psychiatric
Association specialists evaluated Lukin and found no sign of mental illness.

 Nikolai Skachkov, who protested police brutality and official
corruption in the Omsk region of Siberia, was ordered to undergo a
psychiatric evaluation last year because investigators said they suspected
he was suffering from "an acute sense of justice." He spent six months in a
closed psychiatric facility where he was diagnosed as paranoid. The
association, which conducted a separate evaluation earlier this year, found
that he was healthy.

 "Psychiatry in this country has always been a tool of the
authorities, a tool for managing people and pressuring people. And it still
is," said Boris Panteleyev, head of the St. Petersburg Committee for Human
Rights.

 In an interview in her apartment, Trutko recounted her own long
run-in. "Now I have this stamp on my forehead that I am a psychiatric
patient," she said. "I will always have this medical record now. That means
I cannot go to court because judges say I’m a psycho and call for an
ambulance."

 Trutko is well known in the courts in this town, having argued
dozens of court cases against the local authorities and police. She is
studying to be a lawyer, and for several years has acted as a public
defender, as advocates without law degrees are called here.

 Her troubles with mental health authorities began four years ago in
a courtroom in Dmitrov, about 35 miles from Dubna.

 Trutko asserted that the judge displayed bias against her client in
a property dispute, and she moved to have the judge withdrawn. She also
complained that the judge was not wearing her robe as required and that the
Russian flag was improperly displayed. The judge, who later left the bench
and could not be reached for comment, alleged that Trutko said, "Look at
that fat pig sitting up there," according to legal papers.

 Prosecutors opened a criminal case against Trutko on charges of
contempt of court. In July 2003, the court ordered Trutko to undergo an
involuntary psychiatric evaluation. Psychiatrists at the hospital said she
was uncooperative, illogical and displayed emotional reactions that were
"not adequate" — a common phrase here for mental illness.

 The Independent Psychiatric Association questioned these
conclusions. Its own evaluation of her, conducted by four psychiatrists,
found that "she is not an ordinary personality, but a very gifted and
creative person. . . . No psychiatric symptoms were observed. She shows high
intellectual ability and good memory. She does not need any treatment."

 Trutko continued to battle the criminal complaint in court. Before a
hearing at the higher Moscow regional court, she filed a motion seeking the
removal of a panel of judges from her case, again asserting bias. In this
case there was no claim of verbal abuse, but prosecutors said her motion
amounted to slander and contempt.

 In April 2004, after leaving a hearing on her case in Moscow, Trutko
was detained by investigators and taken to the Serbsky Institute. It was a
Friday evening when she was admitted and there was no expert commission
available to evaluate her, Trutko said. Human rights groups protested her
detention and threatened legal action. Trutko said she was released the
following Tuesday morning without having undergone any formal examination by
psychiatrists.

 But the institute issued a six-page evaluation that said she
suffered from a "paranoid personality disorder." The condition manifested
itself in her "subjectivity," her "tendencies to verbal aggression," her
"suspicious" personality and her "inability to understand the peculiarities
of interpersonal relations and communication," medical records show.

 The report recommended that she undergo forced hospitalization and
treatment.

 In September 2004, a Moscow court approved that approach. But the
authorities, for reasons that remain unclear, did not act on the order until
they stormed Trutko’s apartment earlier this year.
 Despite her subsequent release, Trutko said, the court order remains
in effect and she could be institutionalized again at any time. "My career
is ruined," she said. "I just stay at home."

 C 2006 The Washington Post Company

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