Dangerous Minds

Political Psychiatry in China Today and its Origins in the Mao Era

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The Chinese government should immediately release anyone held in institutions for the mentally ill based on a politically motivated diagnosis, Human Rights Watch and the Geneva Initiative on Psychiatry said in this report. The government should also end the longstanding practice of using psychiatric incarceration for political ends. In the 298-page report, "Dangerous Minds: Political Psychiatry in China Today and its Origins in the Mao Era," Human Rights Watch and the Geneva Initiative on Psychiatry, a Netherlands-based international foundation, compare the treatment of dissidents in mental asylums to similar abuses in the former Soviet Union. The sentencing of political dissidents to special psychiatric hospitals on the basis of false diagnoses led to the forced withdrawal of the Soviet Union from the WPA in 1983 and it was not readmitted until 1989, after the Gorbachev reforms had brought an end to systematic political abuse of psychiatry in the Soviet Union.

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