KGB Documents

Psychiatric abuse

Seeking to punish, to make people recant their convictions, to discredit them, to separate an individual from society as a dangerous element, the KGB did not only imprison the dissidents but also applied compulsory treatment in psychiatric hospitals. This method of dealing with political opponents was used in the times of Lenin.  In 1939, a special unit was formed in the Psychiatric Hospital in the city of Kazan for ‘political” patients. This method was especially widely used in the 1960s and 1970s. In the times of Nikita Khrushchev an idea was formulated that the cause of a criminal conduct was a person’s mental and spiritual disorders. This attitude was taken in fighting against the dissidents, defenders of the human rights and others. According to the Communist ideology, an individual who thought and behaved differently was considered abnormal and dangerous to society. If he/she did not commit an offence yet, he/she might still do it, therefore an individual who had ideas was socially dangerous. Dissidents most often were “diagnosed” with the most serious mental illness – schizophrenia. After establishing this diagnose, it was expedient to separate the individuals from society, to shut him/her in the psychiatric hospital, in other words, to justify repressions. Psychiatric treatment was administered to those people whose trial, in the KGB’s opinion, could attract much public attention, or to those people against who it was difficult to bring a political action.  Moreover, it was believed that their stay in hospital would destroy their spirit and moral resistance. By shutting the dissidents in psychiatric hospitals the authorities isolated the individuals who did not please them, and explained their activities to the public as a result of their mental illness. Psychiatrists formulated the diagnosis in such a way that it allowed shutting an individual forcefully in a psychiatric hospital.  Those individuals could get into a psychiatric hospital of a special type, which sooner resembled a prison, and into an ordinary hospital. This depended on the accusations levelled against him/her. The individual was shut in a hospital on account of social political activities (defence of human rights, and other movements, manifestations of national feelings, aspiration to emigrate, resistance to religious restraints, disturbance of work of public authorities (sending letters to them), anti-Soviet activities (criticism of the authorities, anti-Soviet songs, defacing the flags, dissemination of proclamations, etc.).

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. These cookies allow the collection of data to help us report on how visitors use the website and to help us improve it. More