Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

(FYI) WP: In Russia, Psychiatry Is Again a Tool Against Dissent (P.Finn)

Expand Messages
  • Norbert Strade
    In Russia, Psychiatry Is Again a Tool Against Dissent By Peter Finn Washington Post Foreign Service Saturday, September 30, 2006; A01 DUBNA, Russia -- On March
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 1, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      In Russia, Psychiatry Is Again a Tool Against Dissent

      By Peter Finn
      Washington Post Foreign Service
      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 having 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."

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/29/AR2006092901592_pf.html
    • johan lagerfelt
      Dear List, This may be just a small detail in this sorry saga of the resurgence of Soviet-style psychiatry , but I must point out that haloperidol is not a
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 23, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Dear List,

        This may be just a small detail in this sorry saga of the resurgence
        of Soviet-style "psychiatry", but I must point out that haloperidol
        is not a tranquilizer. It is classified as a strong anti-psychotic
        and when used in other situations, such as the one described here,
        the side effects can not only be very unpleasant, but can, at worst,
        be permanent.
        The distinction between tranquilizer and anti-psychotic is important
        since the effects of a tranquilizer are quite pleasant. One becomes
        calm, sedated and basically stops worrying about what is going on. A
        light sleep would also be expected if the dose were high enough.
        So the drug chosen by the 'medical personnel' is one more insult and
        trauma over and above the actual act of force.
        Sincerely

        Johan Lagerfelt

        1 okt 2006 kl. 17.28 skrev Norbert Strade:

        > In Russia, Psychiatry Is Again a Tool Against Dissent
        >
        > By Peter Finn
        > Washington Post Foreign Service
        > 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 having 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."
        >
        > http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/29/
        > AR2006092901592_pf.html
        >



        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.