Posts tagged ‘China’

China Imprisons Dissidents in Psychiatric Hospitals

In yet another report of things happening that you’d like to think can’t possibly be happening, China is using psychiatric diagnoses and imprisonment to silence thousands of dissidents. Petitioners and protestors are being given psychiatric labels such as paranoid psychosis and imprisoned in hospitals, sometimes even preemptively. One man reports of being picked up and detained in hospitals routinely before major events just to keep him out of the way.

From the PBS News Hour (9 minute video well worth watching)

…Since there are no national mental health laws protecting the rights of people who have been compulsorily hospitalized but there are rules limiting arbitrary arrest, hospitals are becoming a convenient means of silencing protestors

This type of violation of basic human rights isn’t unique to China, it’s just being done in a more blatant and politically direct fashion than seen in many other places. It is clear that in China and elsewhere psychiatric hospitals are being used as a shadow prison system for non-criminals and it’s not hard to see how this can happen. Psychiatry as an institution is largely unchallenged in its scope and clearly wields a lot of power over the lives of individuals. This level of autonomy is a perfect formula for abuses of power. Whether you argue that voluntary psychiatry does good or not, the fact remains that forced psychiatry offers a corrupt vehicle for the control of people whose behaviors are deemed undesirable but not criminal. Whether this is happening in America (and it is) or just has the potential to — there is something fundamentally wrong with any system even being in place that can imprison you without the constraint of due process and separate you from your freedom and the sanctity of your own body for speech and thought.  This is especially true when that system can do so under the guise of care when what they often really mean is the eerily familiar “common good.”

The fact that there are people like Qin Xinan and Teng Baio bold enough to speak out in a nation so violently opposed to social movement is both commendable and necessary. They have seen firsthand the fearless power that their government uses against them and face it down on behalf of themselves and their neighbors despite the risk. Meanwhile, we in America have the ability to speak up for the people around us and challenge similar oppression with (for now) relatively little personal risk and sacrifice and most of us choose not to. Perhaps we’d rather wait until the offenses are more blatant and widespread and act surprised.

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September 18, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Shock Therapy for “Internet Addicts”

   The Guardian Uk released an article about China’s fear of internet addiction and their treatment for the social ailment — electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) which is just another term for shock treatment. I’ll let the article speak for itself. Click here.

“I struggled and tried to get up and they said it meant I still did not agree to stay so they gave me more shocks for another half an hour … I agreed to stay because I really couldn’t stand any more of it.”

   It should be noted that the clinic has since been made to halt its punitive shock procedures. Here is an article from China Daily.

“The Ministry said the therapy, which was administered by a clinic in Linyi, Shandong province, has not been proven to be safe.”

“We have no clue whether this freaky treatment has side-effects” 

Also, a follow-up article from the Guardian UK which detailed what some of the many, apparently shock-worthy, infractions were.

“An earlier report by the newspaper Information Times claimed patients received ECT if they broke any of the centre’s rules, which included eating chocolate, locking the bathroom door, taking pills before a meal and sitting on Yang’s chair without permission. It said parents had to sign a contract before admission acknowledging that their child would be given ECT.”

My commentary on this will be as limited as the time I have right now, but I thought this was worth mentioning for a few reasons. I think it is particularly important to question clinically how shocking the brain is supposed to “correct” a perceived addiction to anything. It is such an uncontrollable process to apply to a system as complex and fragile as the human brain. How is it that it can be applied fairly uniformly for use in depression, bipolar disorder, addiction (and who knows what else) interchangeably? Is there a difference between corrective psychiatric procedure and aversion therapy and do we care? Closing one institution for its abuse of any “medical” practice doesn’t address the social dynamic that has an institution like that coming into being in the first place, nor does it address the family dynamic that has people lining up their fearful and protesting children to have their forming brains shocked.

   In our Amerocentric western culture, I’m sure we’d love to believe that we’ve long ago abandoned such practices or that it’s only in use in “other” less worldly and civilized countries. This couldn’t be further from the truth and we do know that “this freaky treatment has side-effects.” Here, ECT is performed on approximately 100,000 people each year despite its Class III designation which is applied to medical devices that have not been proven to be safe or effective. What this means is that the FDA does not govern the use of ECT machines. The procedure is performed on uninformed and unwilling “patients” more often than we’d ever like to believe and its use spans virtually every age group.

August 1, 2009 at 1:28 am


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